AN: I don't normally do this, but I have to do it now: I'm not feeling too happy or positive right now so I would appreciate it if those who will just likely leave bashing reviews to please stay away. This is Carter and Blair, so if you had expected something else because it's me, and are not willing to open yourself to this, don't bash me. I have plenty of other fics for you to visit.

Once Upon a Time in Paris

It was his whisper that reminded her. His breath smelled a bit of brandy, very faint, very warm, as it touched the lobe of her ear. The men in her life were almost always under the influence, and though she would never claim this one as hers it made no difference. The last time that mouth was on hers she tasted vintage brandy on his spittle and just a tinge of her own vomit.

"Jack," she said, full of accusation now, naming him before she ever saw him.

"You don't know how much it pleases me that you can recognize me without having to turn around."

She steeled herself against the charm he possessed. Hated him or not, he was a Bass man through and through and she had a weakness for entitled rich men who used to be insecure little boys and still have not recovered. "I know it's you," she answered, "because my skin is crawling and you stink."

He must have signaled wordlessly, because the bartender placed a drink beside her wine. Jack made the obvious move to lean over and rub against her body as he reached for it.

"You're crowding me," she muttered when his shoulder was at her eye level.

He turned his head and smirked, then as he straightened pointed out what she had tried over and over to forget. "You and I have been a lot closer than this, Blair." And then he reached out his free hand and brushed a fingertip under her chin.

Blair jerked away and with a scowl, demanded, "What are you doing here, Jack? You're supposed to stay away from me. Those are the conditions of our contract."

Ever the businessman, he sharpened at the familiar term. "Relax. I didn't come to France for you. You were a pleasant bonus, but never in my itinerary."

Like she was something he could do.

And maybe she could erase the fact from her brain – deny it like it were never true – that once upon a silent agreement she had been something he could do and she would have let him do her. Just because she was in love and she was stupid and willing to do anything and everything to make someone happy.

All I ever did was love you.

And how terrifying it had been.

"So," she continued, with that bite in her voice that disguised all the pathetic mellowness that had since consumed her, "of all the hotels in all of Paris, you just happened to walk into where I was booked for the summer," Blair stated neutrally. Then, without venom, she called it. "Bull. You're supposed to be in Australia."

His eyes narrowed. As if deciding the truth was worth the effort, he said, "I heard there was something of mine that was hawked in Prague."

Immediately, she knew what was in Jack's mind as his could possibly be Chuck's. After all, did he not say so himself? Jack loved taking what Chuck loved. "What is it?"

He grinned. "Wouldn't you like to know?"

He would not spill, not even a clue. "Well this is Paris in case you're lost. You're a long way from Prague."

"Fine," he admitted, like he needed to even utter an admission to establish he was a liar. "I give up. I was in Prague, until I read from a reliable source that you were here with Serena van der Woodsen." He placed a tentative hand on her elbow. "Nursing a broken heart, Blair?" And the phrase brought to mind the image of her boyfriend humping a dirt sack that was that Brooklyn girl—the girl Blair crowned when she did not even have the social status fit to wipe her boots. "You know she's not half the woman you are."

She had not come for a pity party, and he was not an invited guest when the entire holiday turned out to be an expensive one courtesy of her girlfriend. At least when it was just her and Serena, there was something to pity on both sides. Serena was as messed up and Blair was—maybe even more so. She snatched her arm away. "What do you care?"

"I had you in my suite, Blair," he pointed out, "ready to give in."

"Under duress!" she protested.

"You were ready to sleep with me," he reminded her. "And I let you go. Is that something you'd expect from a person who doesn't care?"

She turned to face him, and wondered if even a quarter of that tenderness in his eyes was genuine. Despite her earlier morbid curiosity, she could see in his eyes that whatever the answer is would only draw her deeper. "Look, Jack, I don't care what you think Chuck threw away in Prague. You have enough money to buy it back from whatever waste of air gave your nephew money in exchange for some crap—"

"It's not crap, Blair. It's one of the few things of sentiment I hold dear."

"Then it's crap," she said sullenly. She was not going to be pulled down into the whirlpool of muck that was the Basses and their family drama. She has had enough angst to last her a lifetime courtesy of those men. "Buy it back and go home. Leave me in peace."

"Do you really not want to know what it is?" he asked.

And that sly smirk, the little pity in his gaze, irritated her. "Go to hell."

"Been there," he answered, leaning close. Blair froze when his lips ghosted on her cheek. "I'm sure I'll get it back," he told her. "Money solves everything."

Those had been Chuck's exact words to Nate when he had tried to explain away this mess.

"You should go on believing that," she answered.

He did not straighten yet. He asked, "If I run into my dear old nephew, do you want me to relay a message for you?"

A thousand words, a jumble of letters, whirled in her head. But she had been the one to walk away. Enough was enough. There was only so much anyone could take before she lost respect for herself. There was only so much you had to be willing to do for love.

"Nothing, then," Jack said in surprise. He straightened and looked at her. "I knew it before he did."

Love didn't overcome everything. It was no all encompassing. Chuck had been a silly child, despite all his efforts at maturity.

Jack stood and left, and she was left to mull over her wine—a sip, one swallow then another, finally the last drop rolled from the bottom dip to the recesses of her mouth. Her throat was smooth, silky with the grape.

When finally, Blair grasped her clutch and made her way back to the elevators, she was heavy, full, spilling with the comfort that it provided her. In times like these she could as easily imagine the hurt was part of some nightmare, because she was walking in a dream. Blair entered the elevator and pushed the button for her floor. The doors slid closed, and she stared back at her reflection. The partition of the door caught the image right in the middle, cutting her off in halves. She blinked at the reflection.

And it grew blurry with each floor she climbed. And suddenly it was so hazy she almost could not see herself. She blinked and it rained. So she wiped at her eyes hurriedly. She hit the stop button then stepped backwards in the empty elevator until her back hit the glass wall.

Blair took a deep breath, tremulous, but she could not help it. Her chest tightened. She swallowed.

"I don't care," she whispered to herself, wondering what was the need. And she repeated, even when there was no sense to her. "I don't."

The musical three note alert brought her hand to her phone, and she raised it to look. "It's a ring," were the ominous words.

And it was with a wave of calm, maybe numbness, that Blair deleted the message that was as uninvited—and as inevitable—as Jack Bass. She put the phone back into its resting place in the clutch, then took another breath. She looked at her broken reflection and ensured there were no tracks of tears. Only then, when she was perfect—as close to it, at least—that she hit the button to start the elevator.

It was a ring.

A week before and it would have been the beginning of the life she dreamed about, hoped for, cried for, prayed for. Everything that she wanted—because all she ever did was love him—and all she ever wanted was to continue loving him.

When the elevator doors split her image into two, she stumbled out and grasped the wall. She sucked in a deep breath, audibly, noisily. Jack… Jenny…

Chuck.

They ruined her perfect, beautiful life.

Blair tried to catch her breath, and was left only with a gasping sound that told her she was not getting enough. She leaned heavily against the wall and found herself unable to even squeeze a tear.

And if it there was anything Jack held in sentiment, then it would be a family ring. If it was in a pawnshop, hawked in Prague, then it was the nail to the coffin of the brief affair that they had thought was inevitable. Chuck had given up on them, just like she had given up earlier.

He did, after all, say inevitable.

Never once did he use the word endless.

Blair forced composure into her trembling thighs, her knocking knees. She walked towards Serena's hotel room and rang the bell. When there was no answer, she pushed the door open and found the room in disarray. The closet door was ajar, and she shut it closed, then found sitting on the bed a man as out of place as she was.

And all she could ask was, "Where is she?"

Carter Baizen rested his elbows upon his knees. Shoulders slumped, his eyes bloodshot, he replied, "Gone home."

"What did you do?" she demanded to know. "I need her."

She saw his throat work. His eyes met hers, and she recognized the moment when he saw his misery's company. "So do I."

But he was never going to get her. He knew it. She knew it too. His biggest mistake was to fall in love with Serena van der Woodsen, because she was never going to know what or who she wanted. And loving Chuck was definitely her biggest mistake, because she had not been prepared for loving as much, as uncontrollably, as irrationally.

"What are you doing here?" she asked, lost now when the person she had brought with her to share the pain had abandoned her like everyone else did.

"I came to see Serena," he answered as honestly as he could. He rose to his feet. "I thought we could work it out."

When he stopped in front of her, she answered, "She's in love with Nate. She's in love with Dan. I'm not sure." And saying the words drew sympathy from her for the guy who had traveled and worked for a girl who was not going to love him. "She's not sure," she finished.

He inclined his head, his sort of acceptance. He was closer now, and his lips curved sadly. "You look worse than I do."

In her hazy dream world, it almost sounded nice. "Do I?"

"You don't deserve that," he told her. "First time I heard about you two, I was in high and playing poker and I thought even then you were too good for Chuck Bass."

Her lips parted, and she closed her eyes, feeling the balm of the kind words spread like cool salve on hot wound. Her eyes fluttered, her lashes lowered, her gaze rested on his full lips.

"Still in love with someone else," she said softly.

"So am I," he murmured.

But his hands were just a little rougher when he cupped her jaw. She raised her face, and his lips slanted over hers. He tasted like scotch, and her lips were wine. They mixed together in a heady cocktail sensation.

He was delicious and familiar, strange and necessary. It was she who pressed forward as he held onto her. He took steps backwards until the back of his knees hit the bed, and he sat heavily on Serena's unmade bed. Blair knelt over him and looked down breathlessly at him.

He had been abandoned, and she forgotten. Not one call, not an apology. When he looked up at her and his eyes were as naked, Blair thought she could latch onto him. Her hands locked onto his tie, and she pulled. Meanwhile, he dipped his face into the crook of her neck and dragged kisses across her collarbone. When he lay down on the bed, Blair squirmed on his lap.

And then, with frantic hands, he raised the frothy skirt and caught his hands in the crotch of her panties. She threw her head back and arched her back.

She released an openmouthed breath when he buried his finger inside her. She was wet, and hot, and slick with need and alcohol. His finger pumped in and out, and her breaths came faster. Another finger joined the one inside, and she gasped out loud. His teeth bit her neck. Blair looked down and grasped his hair with one hand. The other hand worked under her skirt and drew down his zip.

She caught him in her hand, felt him expand and lengthen within her grasp.

Blair moved her head so she could see his face. She needed to see him, look into his eyes, brand the person she was with.

"This isn't how you imagined tonight would be," she said to him. She positioned his tip in her opening. She was slick, ready. Slowly, she felt him fill her.

He shook his head. He pushed inside inch by inch, then answered, "It's even better."

She rode him, and he surged inside of her with the finesse borne from style, from doing this for the sake of sex. He had always been in control. This was better, she thought. Sex and pleasure, in Serena's bed, knowing this was it and tomorrow there would be no hearts broken and no hopes to quash. She came easily, with her heart lighter than it had ever been.

He turned her onto her back, with her muscles still a mass of languor. Carter opened her to him and slid in her wet channel and pumped in and out, coming quietly in her with a kiss on her mouth. He slid out and lay on his back, catching his breath with a smile.

Whoever said it needed to be complicated?

"When are you coming home?"

She turned on her side, then reached a finger towards the hollow of his throat. His hand rested on the patch of skin on her thigh revealed over her stockings. "I don't know," she answered. "You?"

"To be there on time to see whether it's Nate Archibald or Dan Humphrey?" He shook his head. "I've never been a masochist, and I'm not about to start now."

But Blair—well—Blair already knew she was one.

She sat up on the bed. Carter's hand fell to the sheet. Blair stood, then turned back and said, "I'm two doors down, in case you need company."

fin