It seems that, no matter how hard I try, I can't seem to get TFB out of my system. I blame you lot for being so damn persuasive - I was inquired of on Formspring whether I'd be doing another outtake (and there wasn't even supposed to be one outtake, I just miss my Victorian Chair so), and as the story ran mostly along the lines of season two (albeit with a wedding at the end of it), the original epilogue was based on some of the more amusing parts of the beginning of season three. So, here it is, outtake number two for your perusal - anonymous asker on Formspring and beloved readers in general, I hope you enjoy it.

Outtake #2: l'Esprit

She knew she was desirable – she could feel it both within and without her, seeping from every pore. The delicate lace covering her décolleté was a mere wisp, after all, and the lines of her form were undoubtedly cool water to a man long parched. She knew he couldn't have lost all the rage, the hunger, the fire, the lust, the constant yearning to traverse every inch of a new discovery and tear it to shreds. She knew she could see it all in his eyes as she moved closer, pressed her chest against his, stretching up on her toes and parting her lips.

"Isn't it better to wait?"

"How long?"

The almost imperceptible turning of the door handle, a sudden breeze for ambience. He looked over the pretty blonde head, met the eyes framed in the face framed in the doorway. "Now."

"What in the name of Heaven is going on here?"

There really was nothing like a duchess on her dignity. Blair swept into the gazebo with a kind of furious majesty, the sumptuously light fabric of her summer gown billowing around her as she stalked across the floor towards them. Chuck put up his hands to warn her off, with the additional advantage that he could give the girl currently trying to climb him like a tree a small push and send her tottering backwards and directly into his wife's path. He smoothed down his collar, his cravat, attempted to smooth his ruffled expression and attempt a look of shock or contrition.

"Blair, I can explain –"

She gave him a look which could have felled a charging bull and then turned on his companion. "Shame on you, Lady Eva." The girl was trying to straighten what was practically a petticoat, avoiding Blair's eyes. Blair, however, would not be gainsaid by any lack of response or responsibility taken. "How could you do that," she said quietly, with something in her tone that suggested river water, black ice. "Try to seduce a married man? And worse –" She placed one hand over the proud curve of her belly. "A man whose wife is in such a delicate situation? Have you no pride, no self-respect?"

Eva's eyes flickered up to Blair's, bright blue and shining with tears. "I did not mean...I did not know..."

"Oh, and despite the fact that you received an invitation to the Duchess of Richmond's garden party, you were under the bizarre apprehension that there was in fact no duchess?"

"I –"

Blair passed within breathing space of Chuck as she stepped closer to the girl, so close that her perfume filled the air and he had to lean back, pressing himself against the wall to avoid her politely spoken ire. "Your uncle may be the French ambassador, and you may have had your picture in The Times' society pages one too many times for that vain Parisienne head of yours, but that does not give you the right to try and steal another woman's husband!" She heaved a dramatic sigh, and the rise and fall of her breast refracted a thousand points of light from the diamonds at her throat, sending rainbows spinning blindingly around the room. "Now, if you please, take your scandalously unbound hair and your overly powdered skin and get out of my gazebo!"

The girl was sobbing by the time she escaped, flinging open the door and letting it slam behind her with a bang which lent to silence taking possession of the room for a good moment or two.

Chuck bit down on his smirk. "Good afternoon, love."

"She was pretty." Blair gave another artistic sigh before letting herself slip sideways into his arms, her lips brushing his even as she spoke. "And I got wonderfully jealous while I was trying to find you."

"Did you?"

"I did."

"Let me make it up to you."

There was a wonderful gloom in the gazebo as they reacquainted themselves, casually indulging in a kiss here, the odd bite or nip to shoulder or neck there. The heat of the day reached in through the shuttered windows and raised beads of perspiration on Blair's skin, her diamonds blessedly cool as she pressed yet closer to Chuck, letting her body yield against his as it had so many times before. He was engaged in a rapturous tour of the right side of her clavicle and stopped abruptly, prompting an inelegant frown to snap into place between her eyebrows. He ran his thumb over the indentation, trying to level out her annoyance. "You know I always want to, with you."

She pouted. "Which is why I, of course, am being punished for something which is entirely your fault."

"My fault? If I recall correctly, I was not the one who pounced and revealed her penchant for gazebo floors almost directly after construction had finished."

"I wanted to say thank you."

"You could have just brought me breakfast in bed," he replied silkily.

Her arms wound around his neck, tracing the nape of his neck above his shirt collar. "Yes. But don't I do that every morning?"



He gave a groan at the devious look of innocence on her face and kissed her anyway, pulling slightly on her plush bottom lip so she gave a moan and began to scratch lightly at his scalp.

"Chuck," she murmured. "You're corrupting our son."

Chuck ignored her, though one hand did drop to caress the bump which was making their everyday rituals – breakfast, blackmail, deportment, deception, seduction on every available surface – that little bit more difficult. "You like to play," he returned. "I blame you for corrupting our daughter."

"You don't want a boy?"

"I want a boy next."

"But why in the world would you want a girl?" Blair inquired, quite absorbed in what he was doing with his teeth and the methodical destruction of her left sleeve, but she felt she had to ask. "Every man in the history of men has wanted a son and heir, with that being one of the foremost reasons behind matrimony. I daresay if you could birth children yourself, you wouldn't bother with wives at all."

"If you recall, I married you because I had already devalued you and already knew what I was letting myself in for."

She slapped him on the side of the head, and he bit her on the shoulder. "Still," she continued, apropos of stifling a little cry as his mouth moved towards the swell of her – newly endowed, newly reinforced – breast. "Tell me why you want a girl."

He smiled into her skin as her grip tightened on his neck and each word from her lips became a little more breathy. "Is it so wrong of me to want a house filled with little yous?"

"So there are going to be more after the girl and boy?"

"Oh, yes. Oh, yes."

"Oh, yes," Blair repeated, though hers was of a somewhat different nature. "It is perfectly safe," she told him. "Dorota told me so the third day I threw crockery at someone's head and she deduced that you and I had not been spending enough time together."




"It isn't that I want you to stop what you're doing, because I'd really rather you didn't. I do, however, have something to say."


And all at once, Chuck's face had left the delicately scented centre of his current exploration and been yanked painfully upwards by the loving hands of his wife, who had seized two hanks of hair behind his ears and pulled. He was about to make some sort of retort about playing rough when he noticed the impenetrable blackness reigning supreme in her eyes and thought better of it.

"Never again," she hissed. "Never again decide to get up and leave me in the middle of the night because you think the baby and I need more room in which to spread ourselves. I cannot sleep properly without you and when I wake up and you are not there I have a tendency to get very, very angry with you."

"How angry?"

"Don't you dare kiss me."

"How angry?"

"Come any closer and I'll scream."

"You'd better believe you will."

He bent to kiss her and she snapped at him, nipping at the space where his lips had just been. Chuck scowled.

"At this point, you are incredibly lucky that you have a Bass in utero."

"Oh?" Her eyes widened in faux ingenuousness. "And why is that?"

"Because otherwise I would spank you soundly for that."

"You could still spank me," she offered, and he laughed.

"My dear, depraved wife. How in the world did I ever find you?"

Blair appeared to be considering the question. "I do believe it involved a funeral, a dance, a bet, several cups of tea, a blindfold, a rescue, a kiss, a few more kisses, another rescue, several hands of cards and a good deal of being star-crossed before we actually got anywhere." She tucked her head neatly beneath Chuck's chin and arched a little in contentment. "And you were very stubborn at some points...but I always knew you loved me."

"How, pray tell?"

"Why," she replied. "Because you never bent me over a piece of furniture and had your way with me. Holding back is the ultimate sign of commitment from you."

"I thought that was getting married."

"That was for the dress."

"Ah, I see." He began to run his fingers up and down the pale swoop of her throat, feeling each humming vibration and cadence of breathing and speech. "So if I were, perhaps, very desirous of seeming committed to you in both body and soul, I would be piously avoiding you right now."

"As piously as a saint."


"Yes." Blair gripped his lapels and turned her face up to his, a few dark curls slipping free from her already unstable coiffure and sliding gracefully down her back. She smiled. "But as the world, for all its failings, is determined to think of you as a lying, wenching, adulterous Basstard without even the courteous capability of being able to pretend you aren't in love with your wife, who am I to naysay them?"

Chuck studied her in the still dark, still stifling room, letting his gaze linger on the fresh glow on her skin, the brightness in her eyes. Without her he had become a sickly weed, ugly and selfish and clinging like a damnable plant to any and all news of her. She, however – despite all his fears to the contrary, despite his sudden flight to the city for a week and a half for every book, every physician when she had told him she was with child, despite all thoughts of his mother whom had nearly been lost to his birth and then whom he had lost anyway – was blossoming like some rare flower from the Orient now resident in his glasshouse, finding in its roots beneath the strange summer sun and coaxing him to grow straight and tall that she might be proud of him.

"Do I love you?" He asked her, waiting for her to flare up at him or slap him or at the very least demand to be made love to to prove her point. Instead, Blair looked back at him very quietly, looking – to Chuck's eyes at least – suddenly older and far wiser than he, for all she was a bride fresh out of her debutante season and he was a libertine of many years standing.

"Yes," she whispered, and then kissed his bruised mouth so gently he could hardly tell that it was a kiss at all. "And I love you too."