A/N: Random Dair oneshot time! I loved their interaction, foreshadowing much? My only concern is that the writers know they've whored everyone else out already so they might not pounce on the Penn/Leighton chemistry, but can I just say how DB are super similar to Seth/Summer? You know you want it, Josh. The title is from 'Iris' - a classic from the Goo Goo Dolls. I'll probably do a sequel somewhere down the line for this too.
When Everything's Made to be Broken
And all I can taste is this moment,
And all I can breathe is your life,
And sooner or later it's over,
I just don't want to miss you tonight.
- 'Iris' by the Goo Goo Dolls.
Blair Waldorf is beyond broken.
She's been broken up with for matter of days, and she'll admit that the atmosphere between them has been mournful and the chemistry is still there – it will never fade away completely and it's difficult to ignore. Always the romantic, she truly thought that Chuck Bass was the love of her life. She did. The only one who could keep up with her, the way their outfits seemed to match oddly from the age of twelve, the way he just knew her without reason, two puzzle pieces; until he broke the puzzle beyond repair.
Ultimately, she is Blair Cornelia Waldorf, and no matter the history – she won't lower herself to be with a guy who would trade her for a hotel. No matter how one spins it; that's the simple essence of the matter. She's put her pride on the floor for Chuck before, but this is it.
This is the end, Chuck.
And she couldn't even conceive that she'd feel the sweetest relief when she decides the game is over.
After all, it's always been her choice when the game starts and ends. When they were five years old, playing house (Nate the husband, Serena the kid, Chuck, you can be the dog if you want), when they were cheating behind Nate's back, when they were never quite in sync with each other during senior year, and now.
It estranges him in the most terrifying way that he just doesn't miss Vanessa that much.
Of course, he misses her. He misses their conversations that are not loaded with innuendo, he misses her advice on his oh-so dramatic life, and he misses his best friend Vanessa.
Not his girlfriend Vanessa.
He doesn't feel that longing. She's gone for the weekend and it's boring without her because there's no-one to mock anyone else with, but he's not pining. At first he takes it as a sign of maturity, because he's not at high school anymore, and what he has with Vanessa is almost the antithesis of what he had with Serena. It's not as feverous, he doesn't feel the need to be with her every hour of the day because he knows V better than anyone else and he's only called once whilst she's been back to Vermont.
It's a sign that he doesn't want it, them as much as he really should. As much as he thought he did.
He observes them, Chuck and Blair throughout the festivities. The heat when they look at each other, how Chuck seems to constantly loom over Blair like a cloud, the way he is so intent on possessing her. He knows he shouldn't think this, he shouldn't be thinking about either one at all, yet surely Blair isn't the type of girl you have to pin down. High-maintenance, commanding and quick-tempered, you had to accept all of her if you wanted her in your life.
But that's just Dan.
It strikes a chord of sympathy within him, watching Blair's pained facial expressions and Chuck's relentless pursuit, but he clearly craves the chase. The brunette, however, just looks tired.
It's the first time he really sees Blair. Indestructible, so impenetrable, but so fragile. He catches a glimpse of her in the kitchen and he knows enough to know that she hardly belongs there, and he decides that tonight is one of those random instances when he gives in and reaches out to her. He still remembers the first time he done so, and his first impression of her has been completely eroded since. Whenever he sees Blair his father's words cannot help but rush back into his head; "And girls like that might be challenging. That's true. And they're complicated, and enigmatic. And usually worth it. And the only way you know for sure is to jump it with both feet."
He knows his dad was referring to the van der Woodsen's – Dan is hardly dense.
But when he said that, Blair fit the description whether Humphrey junior liked it or not.
He greets her nervously; "Hey, you okay?"
Her body language is tense, it's the most stressed expression he has ever seen spread across her face and she rebukes him. Frankly, he was expecting nothing less.
"You've always thought the worst of Chuck and me," she continues, "you think we're horrible, depraved, soulless."
His reply is a throwback to their high school days because none of their bizarre history disappears, and he goes into say that if any pair are meant for one another, it's them. He's stating a simple, practically universally accepted fact.
It all end when she tells him "Your ice is melting."
Yeah, the ice that happened to be around his heart whenever it concerned Waldorf.
She's been here before, one too many times.
Chuck's with some random in an attempt to evoke jealously within her. Regularly, when she considered herself to be in love with him, it always, without fail, worked. This time however, rather than intervening immediately to drag him to the nearest room to show him exactly what he was willing to put to chance, she stands and stares at this person she thought she was so ridiculously, inextricably in love with. Falling can be quick, Blair does believe you can have that connection with someone from the first look, but marring it can be done even faster.
And she can't feel anything for him anymore. All of it is tarnished. She relished the chance she took with Chuck, she didn't relish the fact that he wasn't willing to keep her, them and what they had,safe.
Dan Humphrey isn't the worst distraction though, or the worst dancer either, despite Blair and her preconceptions.
Of course, so typically, a slower song starts to play and Blair suddenly feels a lot more fragile, and strangely, she isn't letting herself be scared of that. Dan has come from judging her to understanding her over the years, so she can't find reason to be afraid.
"Is it still there?" He asks, and she finds it strange. He could be referring to a lot of things; love and trust are just two options.
Still, she just answers his question with a nod, not knowing what he means, but connecting with him on a weird level.
They do shots with Eleanor and Cyrus and it's clear that Eleanor actually approves of this Brooklynite. When Dan departs to fetch Blair a drink, her mom loops her arm through her daughter and says, "No better way to get over someone than to get under someone else."
Blair's reply comes in the form of a raised eyebrow and a playful comment about how her mom is very, very drunk.
She does consider that, however, they've been thrown together tonight, whatever the reason. Serena has run away like she always done, Blair has become accustomed to that, she's already shared enough of her emotion with Nate, who looks too occupied with the other Humphrey anyway and she has no-one left. But she trusts him. She isn't sure why, but she trusts him with whatever she may have to say.
So she pulls Dan over by his arm to the bar and that's exactly where they stay for the night. Somewhere between their fourth and sixth shot, he starts complaining about Vanessa, and she starts rambling about Chuck, and for the first time, they meet in the middle.
"V and I were best friends, you know?" Dan semi-slurs and she nods in agreement. "I mean it'd be like you and Serena –
"Don't!" She slaps his arm half playfully and half sternly. He has to admit that it's not the worst mental imagery.
"Chuck and I...weren't originally close but it was the summer of oh-six that our friendship just spiralled into something we couldn't undo...but he's not the one for me. How could he be?"
There's a shared silence between them and it feels a lot like mourning.
"You don't have to tell me anything about what happened," he breaks it for her comfort.
She nods and thanks him for accompanying her tonight. She could, she muses, use Dan to torture Chuck to an extent, but she doesn't want to play anymore, and being here, with Humphrey, right now, is enough. Bodies are floating from the reception and she twirls around, all girly and adorable.
"The night doesn't have to end right now, Humphrey."
And mysteriously enough, it doesn't feel like a mistake when he leaves with her.
She takes him to a place that Serena and Georgina would drag her to when they were fifteen and allowed into clubs on the basis of their last names.
It's so far away from Dan's scene that he should feel uncomfortable, especially considering who he's with, but for once they don't let details get in the way and they just dance for two hours and she spies Chuck with the leggy blonde on their way out.
It all becomes too much. The betrayal, the dishonesty and the drama. Without any consideration for Vanessa, she seizes Dan's hand as they pass Chuck, without any other acknowledgment. Initially he looks nothing short of appalled when they part, but Blair doesn't immediately regret it. She will find out that she won't regret it the slightest bit at all.
"Waldorf, you did not –
"I did," she drops his hand immediately and her eyes fall to the ground, "I'm sorry Humphrey. Let's get you home."
She begins to walk away from him before he grabs her arm, needing to know what provoked her to do that – that stupid, bizarre, random and unfair thing. "You know Gossip Girl has probably been tipped off by five different people by now, right?"
"Explain it to her, Humphrey." She replies monotonously.
He looks at her with conflicted eyes and asks, "What was that really about?"
"Hurting him back, genius." She smirks bitterly.
"You know I'm kind of surprised he wasn't...done with her a lot more quickly."
She laughs hollowly in response. He removes a silver cigarette case from his suit jacket and for a moment Blair looks slightly surprised. "Aren't you going to offer the lady?" She asks.
Blair has her first cigarette and Gossip Girl does spot them, because when she flips open her laptop in the morning she is met with this:
Spotted: Our favourite unlikely alliance, B and D, alone but together outside Bungalow. C is looking livid, but you know there's nothing that I enjoy more than a twisted little love triangle. And it's only the beginning. Or should I say rectangle? I wonder what V will think of all this, considering lonely boy is hardly lonely without her. You know you love me, xoxo – GG.
When Vanessa arrives back to Dan's dorm, they don't throw themselves at each other the way they should. He greets her with a smile and she has a grin for him too, and they hug before hanging out.
And she breaks up with him during the evening, spent listening to MGMT and talking.
They thought they could be more. They really did.
"You didn't tell me about you and Waldorf on the wedding," is all she says. He can't deny it.
"She was hurting and she needed someone. Serena was nowhere to be seen and Chuck really, really betrayed her this time. Nothing happened, Vanessa." He speaks earnestly, needing her to know that he would never betray her like that, but at the same time, letting the romantic aspect of their relationship go.
Vanessa takes his hands softly and says, "I think I value you too much as a best friend to risk it all on a relationship. Dan, I love you. But I'll always love you in a thirteen year old crush kind of way."
He nods slowly and hugs her. "It's over, isn't it?" He asks, just to be sure.
And she walks out, he doesn't miss the tears tumbling down her cheeks, and he doesn't go after her.
V broke up with me.
He doesn't know why he texts Blair about it. He reasons that it's because he can't exactly tell his best friend and Blair was the last person before her that he has a meaningful conversation with. Perhaps it's in the hope that it'll be one of those rare instances in which she understands him.
And when she responds, apparently she does. Why?
She could be asking for several answers. Why did she break up with you? Why did you let her? Why are you telling me?
She wants to be friends.
Chuck wants me back in his bed. Want to forget about it?
Being a guy, he can't help but the think the obvious in that instance, but still, Humphrey and Waldorf happening is not another hook-up to be thrown in the hook-up of doom pile.
Let's just say it's a good thing they're both complex, neurotic messes.
What do you propose?
The go to the Humphrey loft, because Jenny, Eric, Serena or anybody needs to see them together.
There's still some beer Vanessa left over at some point so Dan decides to take advantage of it, offering Blair. She hates beer, but she's figuring that if she's going to let go of all this Chuck crap, she needs to start taking fifteen year old Serena's advice, B, I'm always telling to let loose a little. What's the worst that could happen?
Blair can't help but smirk bitterly to herself whenever she reflects on that little remark, so innocent, so naive, daring, so Serena.
Although she has been thinking about Humphrey - she can't delude herself. She wouldn't have considered spending time with him at all if she didn't care on some strange level, the level where Brooklyn meets the Upper East Side. She knows him, because she sees some parts of herself in him. She's a dreamer, a dreamer who hoped she could make Nate her golden Prince and the make Chuck into the same golden Prince with a cunning streak, before reality came crashing in. He's a dreamer, a dreamer who thought it was possible to pin down Serena van der Woodsen, the girl who always runs away without exception and thought a romance with his best friend was an exciting experience, simultaneously keeping his heart safe.
And that's why they're both here, drinking beer and smoking cigarettes and actually relishing the presence of one another and treading the common ground they've shared for so long, only now realising it.
"You don't seem heartbroken, Humphrey." Her tone isn't condescending, it's observational.
"I don't think I am," he replies, his eyebrows furrowed slightly. Not that it has anything to do with being here with you right now. "It's helped though, having someone that understands it all too."
"Another positive ripple-effect from our break-up," Blair begins, "God, whatever made me think we could function?"
"If I learned anything from being with Serena, it's that if you want it badly enough, it will work. Maybe you don't want all of Chuck's bad parts but maybe you're gonna wake up one day and miss all the good parts, too."
"I don't even miss him, Humphrey. That's what scares me." Her eyes soften slightly and she turns her gaze outside the window, looking like some sort of tortured dark angel. She's even giving Serena a challenge in the ethereal area. "I thought I was with the love of my life. The love of my life who doesn't want the love that I want..."
"Then he probably isn't the love of your life," Dan finishes for her, although it's hardly his role to play. She nods slowly in response.
"Do you ever miss S? The good parts?" She can't help but seek to satisfy her curiosity, find out if her best friend was too much or not enough for this boy next to her.
"We weren't supposed to be together. It can't constantly be work, fate has to have a hand in it all, to a certain extent."
"I couldn't agree more, Daniel." She smiles coyly.
This is a bond of mutual understanding, something they have from the prying eyes of Gossip Girl and frankly, everyone else. It becomes a source of security that Blair has always wanted, but he's also on her level intellectually to make it exciting.
Coffees in the morning, comparing notes because they're taking the same Shakespeare class, ignoring their respective best friends until they finally demand what's going on with them.
"I've been busy, S. Busy being Blair Waldorf again." She quips, her voice lined once again with that authoritative tone.
"We'll talk later V. Blair and I are having lunch." Of course Vanessa responds to all this the way he expected she would, concerned for Dan's well-being (what could drive him to Blair?)
He prefers not to question it, because it seems the fate he was talking about that night is the force behind it all. And who is he to question fate?
It's all too easy, the way they slot into each other's lives now. She has (although she'll never admit to it) mellowed since the days of weekly schemes and he has become empathising, and it strikes a near perfect balance. Near, she thinks, because after Chuck, Blair has realised nothing can ever be perfect, and if it feels like it is, it is delusion.
Blair feels his brown eyes meld with hers, unnerving her as they talk idly on one of those places with sticky counter tops. She promises herself that she's not falling, and she's definitely not falling fast.
They're at a café talking about all the things they usually talk about when Vanessa states it, completely randomly.
"Well, Gossip Girl approves...and so would I, if that makes you happy, Dan."
He wants to have a witty reply and it's weird that he doesn't but Vanessa's reaction stuns him into silence.
Serena starts to ask questions, the way Blair knew she eventually would.
"Have you and Humphrey formed some kind of book club?" She teases playfully. They're having a girly day at Serena's request to whine about Carter and Chuck.
"You know I'm a fan of catharsis, S."
"I've always known you prefer corruption," she smiles. "It's just strange, you know?"
"No S, I really don't." Blair responds, bewildered.
"Dan and I ended and now you two are friends. It's kind of cute." The comment isn't threatening at all, "And I'm saying that if anything...were to happen, that could be cute too."
"You are not serious," Blair demands, tearing her eyes away from the Jennifer Behr headbands to look into Serena's serene blue eyes. "You're too accepting of our friendship not to be estranged."
"Isn't swapping exes fun?" Serena jibes playfully, "Blair, Dan has been a brother to me this year, and probably will be for the rest of my life. If you're okay with Nate and I, I'd be okay with you and Dan. I'm just saying."
And Blair's just thinking about it. (Probably too much.)
Dan hears a knock, then twice, then thrice. He already knows who's behind the door.
He opens it to reveal one Blair, hair in a ponytail, looking slightly tired, but always beautiful in an undone way. "Serena's with Nate, and I could use the company, Humphrey." She says nothing about needing his company.
"Um, okay –
"There isn't going to be some random walking out of your bathroom in two minutes, is there? Because right now I –
"Blair." he interrupts, shutting her up with a look. She nods curtly, and he's sure he sees relief in her eyes. "You look kinda terrible." He adds, just to provoke a reaction.
"And you look handsome," she replies, and her tone isn't laced with enough sarcasm to hide the earnest expression.
She's wearing a black lace dress even though it's spring and he can only think it's a reflection of how she feels. He's gotten over Vanessa, he's certain at this point that it was a boundary that should have never been blurred. They worked as best friends, but as a couple it felt like there was too much expectation all the time. He's not so sure if he could say the same for Blair, who has been single since Chuck, although maybe she's just had to be – and then, he has been single since Vanessa.
With her scarlet red lips, pale-perfect skin and demanding demeanour, Blair looks dangerous tonight, and she wears it well.
"Are you okay?" He asks, eyes brimming with concern, "Has Chuck said anything to you?"
Maybe she's the wrong girl to fill his head with daydreams; the wrong person to think of before he goes to sleep, the wrong muse to have had for the past few weeks, but being in her presence feels right, brings a certain peace to his mind.
"Want to be with you." She finishes, meaning it in about three different ways.
He nods, trying to process this, but he can't. How can he? This girl who became his friend (right, he resigned himself to the fact that he has a crush, but that's all it can be) and now this. He couldn't assess Blair without being surprised by her the next moment.
He doesn't rebuke her and it's not as if he's angry, he's so flattered that this easily qualifies as the most embarrassing instance of his nineteen years and he sits down beside her on his messy bed.
"Waldorf, you can't just turn up and my door and tell me this." His voice is cracked.
She doesn't give a reply immediately. He can tell she's in contemplation, but she's looking at him heatedly and she's biting her lip and he knows he's in trouble. The best kind.
She stands up and paces quickly, briefly thinks about walking away but she's compelled to stay here. This could be their only chance and she has to know.
She inches closer to him and takes his hand, making him stand up. She forces him to lock his brown eyes onto hers and that's the moment in which she knows there's no return for them. People will howl with laughter, eyebrows will be raised, mouths will be left open.
She doesn't care about anyone else.
He's drawn to her physically now, they're no longer two like minded people. Blair is the real beauty of the Upper East Side, he thinks, in all her complexity and mystery and drama.
She presses her lips to his first, tentatively, before it deepens and neither can stop it. They part and he smiles boyishly, and it's like he's breathed the life back into her again.
"Because I'm Blair Waldorf, and I don't do things unless I'm prepared and I'm ready for this, Humphrey, I can."