A/N: So my loathing for DS has been constant since season two, and I wish Dan wasn't following her to Paris. The positive? Blair said she'd miss Humphrey! Too cute. Here's what I hope would happen instead when Dan gets to Paris. I know it's not a TPATSSAT update but it's something. I'm not a Twilight fan but I end up adoring the soundtracks, and this title is from Bat for Lash's Eclipse soundtrack contribution. I'm completely ignoring that Georgina's pregnant crack storyline...although I think Dan did have it coming for how he's whored around in season three. Let's focus on the Dan/Blair goodness that exists purely in my head, unfortunately.
Let's Get Lost
Touch me I'm cold, unable to control,
Touc me I'm golden and wild as the wind blows,
Tumbling, tumbling, don't go fascination,
If just for tonight darling, let's get lost.
From the moment Dan's Gucci loafers step foot in Paris' airport, he knows that he really probably should have ignored this impulse.
He doesn't blame this on the fact that he and Vanessa had been so distant, both emotionally and physically. He doesn't even blame this on Serena, with her allurement that no guy could break himself from. He blames it on his godforsaken need to write. To write he needs as much experience as possible. For being a nineteen year old college student, he thinks he hasn't fared that badly at all. He'd set his sights on a world that he wasn't supposed to be a part of, but his first love immersed him in it anyway. Serena was warm, welcoming, an enthralling girl to have as your first love. His eyes strayed and understanding usually extended to her antithetic best friend on rare occasions, but that's because Blair had demanded it. Not always in her usual condescending demeanour, when she'd be quiet, when she allowed herself to vulnerable. He'll always see her as the girl in the hallway.
When he's through security he calls Serena and his tone is brimming with the excitement, he's not sure why. He concludes that maybe this is a little bit like what it is to be her, to run away just like she does.
When she picks up her phone and replies to his enthusiasm with an "Oh." He can already anticipate from the stilted awkwardness of her tone that this is about as far away as a romantic gesture as it gets in Serena's mind as it gets.
Because she feels trapped.
And he knows when he says "Tell me where you are, and I'll be there." That he didn't slip into the Queen's inner circle instinctually, not then, not now, and after three years, he shouldn't still have to ask for Serena's guidance through it. He should know.
But he doesn't. His fists bunch tightly when what Nate said to him settles in his mind again. "That's Serena, man. With her you'll never know."
"Don't move," Serena says, "Blair and I will pick you up at the airport as soon as we can, okay?"
Serena doesn't even wait for his response – he's in Paris alone anyway and he doesn't have any other option. He's left standing still with his luggage and he tries not to dwell on the fact of how this little situation illustrates how obviously different they really are; Serena runs anywhere in the world because she's wild, it's to be expected of her; Dan belongs in that same loft in Brooklyn writing about it.
A limousine door is opened and Serena smiles weakly as he slides in beside her. She doesn't really give him a proper greeting; just looks at him, clearly riddled with guilt. It's so far away from what Dan thought her reaction would be. Serena had always craved spontaneity, and when he finally takes that leap, it's not enough anymore.
It's in this moment when the realisation sets in again; even when they so desperately want to be, they're not designed for each other in the long-term. Some distances can't be closed, some differences aren't meant to be changed.
She remains silent, her hand fidgeting with her hair then her neck, staring out the tinted window.
"I'm sorry," Dan blurts out, "I didn't think...I thought you would have been glad to see me."
He doesn't like having to apologise for simply doing what he wants. He also doesn't particularly enjoy the fact that Serena looks like she's about to apologise either. He's tired of living a life full of apologies. They're young, they're beautiful, they can do what they want without being sorry.
She looks at him firmly, yet with that you-were-my-first-love-I-think affection; "I needed space, Dan. Real clarity so that when I came back I could make a choice that I didn't regret." She's not prepared to break him completely with the admission that ultimately, it wasn't much of a choice between the boy she found cute but couldn't keep up with her, and her golden boy who had been there always, whose stare she'd feel on her body even half a world away. "Why did you do this? It's not...you."
His eyebrows knit together and his stare averts out the window and he thinks of their first date, her hand in his in that cab, thinks how they had these moments when her golden hair deluded him into thinking maybe they could freeze those moments, make them span across a relationship as effortlessly as he could write.
But it hadn't been that easy then, and it never could be.
"I did this because I thought that there was still something here." Dan says frankly. "At least now I know there's not..." he trails off leaving it up to her. After all, it always has been.
She doesn't give him a direct answer, just gives him a look that affirms his statement.
The fact that they're over doesn't crush him, not the way it did when they previously broke up. He looks at Serena and sees history that belongs in high school.
"We should be friends, like real friends." Serena replies with intent. "We know that as a couple it just doesn't function but you were there for me throughout my dad drama. Let me be here for you this summer with your Vanessa-thing."
Dan nods in response. He's not used to Serena actually making sense.
Blair's lounging in her room when they reach the Waldorf chateau. The full magnitude of Dan's impulse doesn't really resonate with him until his brown eyes lock with her stern stare.
"I told you we had a bit of a situation." Serena says upon their arrival.
Blair practically throws her French Vogue to the other end of the room, causing a thud that makes Dan's stomach jerk slightly.
"I did not know he was coming B –
"You know, you're right. It isn't your fault. So Humphrey, tell me why you decided to drag your target-filled suitcase and your self-righteous attitude to stalk my best friend? We are not sixteen anymore. How am I going to explain your presence to my dad? No wait. I'm not. You're going to have to do that for yourself, and daddy does not approve of my male company unless his last name is Archibald or Bass-tard."
Dan is left a little open-mouthed and he looks to Serena for some back-up, but she's always team B. He still can't believe he's actually here in their presence. He runs a hand through his hair. "You're right. I should really leave. I'm sorry for this...whatever this was –
"Hey, B, we can't ask him to leave now." Serena offers. "We'll deal with this in the morning."
Serena softly closes the door of Blair's room leaving her and Dan alone. Having Dan here wouldn't be all that troubling, considering this place had more rooms than Roman and Harold could ever even hope to use, but still. He's here and neither of them quite know what to do with him.
Blair rolls her eyes. "You know what, I don't care anymore. Stay. You clearly missed me already, Humphrey." He sees her eyes soften slightly. "Just don't be getting all coupley on me. I need my Serena this summer."
"I'll get a flight tomorrow –
Blair's instruction is final and Dan can't really do anything but question why.
"You're here because you're lost." She begins, and although Dan knows Blair wouldn't admit that out loud, she is too. "Things with Nate are awkward and let me take this opportunity to point out that that's your fault and your fault only –
"Serena kissed me back –
"And I'm assuming you let her. Look, you know Serena. You don't know her like Nate and I do and you never will, but you know her well enough to know that Serena will always be lost and never found. She doesn't want to be. Not by you, not by Nate. That's usually where I come in."
It's another time when he understands their dynamic involves s much more than taking turns with the crown, or taking turns with Nate.
"Your girlfriend's gone. Chuck's not even around for you to punch, which I don't disapprove of, right now. So it's better to stay here than go back to our mess."
He's rendered speechless. It's probably the first time she understands him more than he's ever understood himself and it scares him. "How will you explain this to your dad?"
"Daddy hasn't questioned me...ever. He knows he doesn't really have the right to." She sits down on her silk sheets and he so badly wants to help her. Nothing's really altered since she looked that way down a corridor three years ago.
"He's your dad, though." Dan replies.
"My dad who left his family...that lied about who he was. It's not that I haven't forgiven him for it but it never goes away. He'll probably think you're a cute tortured writer and tease you mercilessly." Blair quips.
"We'll you had to get it from somewhere." Dan jibes back. It's the first time he's seen Blair crack a smile in a while. He's glad that it's because of something he said.
"Serena's room is just beside mine." Blair directs him.
"We...kind of broke up again on our way here." Dan says and Blair can't help but laugh hollowly, "Yeah I didn't think that was possible either. Quick even for us."
He doesn't have the nerve to tell her that he'd rather stay here with her and talk it out, but then he thinks they have all summer to do that.
He ends the night, morning, whatever the darkness outside their windows means, feeling content for being here and grateful for Blair's twisted form of hospitality.
When she shows him a room he throws his stuff on the floor. She says "Don't outstay your welcome, Daniel."
"So I have a welcome?" He replies with a smirk. Her lethargic departure out his door leaves him with the thought that maybe she could be grateful for letting him stay.
Her lack of protest lets him know that he at least has a half-welcome, which was pretty good when it concerned dropping in on Blair Waldorf.
She wakes up, takes off her eye mask wipes a few stray brown curls from her eyes to see Humphrey sat in the chair beside her bed reading a newspaper.
"What are you doing?" Blair demands.
Dan folds the newspaper and sets it on her bed side table. "I wasn't facing your dad alone. He probably thinks I'm some plaything Serena dragged home last night –
"Well." Blair smiles impishly. "The description fits."
Dan cocks his side sideways. "Explain on my behalf, Blair and I will leave if he asks."
"Funny how you didn't need to be asked here in the first place, Humphrey."
"I just don't want your father to decapitate me."
Blair sighs. "Well, I have to get ready first. Go bother Serena, you came out here to torture her, remember?"
"Something says I won't want to remember this summer at all." Dan raises an eyebrow and Blair nods in agreement.
He stays in his seat.
"That was your que, Humphrey."
He leaves with hesitation and conveniently collides with Serena's path as he exits Blair's room.
"You and Blair just have a heart-to-heart there?" She jokes.
No, that was last night. "Right," he says followed by a chuckle.
Blair strides out her door surprisingly quickly and loops her arms through Serena and Dan. "Well if this is going to be believable." she says much to Serena's bemusement and Dan's shock.
His eyes expand slightly at the sight of her dad and Roman. He's so used to seeing Blair either solitary or with Serena by her side, he hadn't taken the time to think about Blair alone, she seemed to prefer doing things on her own. No-one could reach those standards of hers anyway, he reasoned.
So it was only fitting her family didn't fulfil the perfection she'd always crave.
They're outside having breakfast.
"We have another guest, daddy. This is Daniel Humphrey."
Harold extends his hand and smiles warmly and Dan internally curses how nervous he was about this. He'd been expecting meeting the brunette male version of Lily, but there's no hint of superiority here. "You'll have to keep Daniel entertained for the day Blair-bear. Roman and I are playing tennis."
"We're still having dinner tonight?" Blair asks, gesturing for Dan to sit down as Harold kisses Serena's cheeks.
"I'll let you know, bear. Anyhow, the day spent shopping, the night spent chasing after boys." He gives Dan a wink and Serena smiles wickedly.
Harold doesn't seem to notice his daughter fleeing breakfast.
"So, Serena," Harold begins, "Deferring a year only means one thing. Tell me about all your shenanigans."
Serena searches for Blair in the house, assumes she's cooped up in her room flipping through a magazine.
Dan finds her basking in the grass around the back of the house. He'd call it a back yard, but it's more like a back acre.
He had brought her a plate from breakfast and he offers to it. She nibbles at the toast.
"What is it now, Waldorf?" He asks with an obvious fake concern. He knows if he was sweet about it she'd find it sickening.
"You just think I'm spoiled. And you're right, but only to an extent. I mean my dad will fly me out here, let whomever I want to stay here without question, but he won't spend time with me. I don't think he knows how to anymore." She sighs. "You can cry me a river if you want, Humphrey."
"It's only one day. There's all summer." He reasons, settling on the grass beside her.
"He doesn't know what's going on with me; that Chuck and I ended the way we did, that I'm going to Columbia in the fall."
"That you're lost." Dan thinks aloud. Blair looks at him sharply, but it's not enough to make him apologise.
Her silence lets him know he's right.
She's so beautiful, it strikes him without warning, creeps up on him that she's so achingly beautiful. Serena demanded that you look at her. Blair invited you, and when you accepted the invitation your eyes couldn't stray away.
"I don't need you analysing me Humphrey. S and I are going shopping so..."
"I'll go with you. I won't interrupt. It'll be like the good old days when I just looked at Serena and no words were said." He smirks.
"When you open your mouth sometimes the results are better than what I expect."
Dan stands up and offers Blair his hand to pull her up.
They locate Serena in her room as she flips her cell-phone closed.
"Who was that?" Blair questions, already knowing.
"Nate. I didn't want him to get the wrong idea from gossip girl." She replies, not trying to evade the question.
"Right, like the last time." Blair reminds her. Firstly, she couldn't miss an obvious one like that and secondly, she's totally intent on directing Serena towards Nate. The irony hasn't escaped any of them.
"He wants to come out here." Serena explains.
"I thought you wanted space." Dan says, trying not to sound that bitter.
"I want Nate." Serena delivers it bluntly and Dan's surprised that it doesn't hurt to hear it. It doesn't re-open an old wound or mark him with a new one. If anything, right now all he feels relief that Serena's letting her hold on him loosen.
"I approve," Blair says, slicing through the tension, "Tell Nate to come over, we'll pick him up at the airport. If there's a time for you two to get back on track you know it should be in summer, S." Blair smiles earnestly, sounding genuinely happy for the prospect of them again. Dan feels so detached from it all. Well, some things have to stay the same.
"Are you sure?" Serena asks seriously.
Blair says in her all knowing tone, usually reserved for Serena only, "You asking yourself if you're still sure. S, tell him to get the next flight out."
Serena's about to call him when her cell ringtone starts blaring anyway. It's Nate's voice telling her that Chuck has been shot. Shot. With a gun. He's in a hospital. He's alive, but asleep. In a coma. Serena doesn't know how to reply. She doesn't.
"Blair...Chuck's been shot."
Dan swallows hard and looks straight at Blair.
Blair stands frozen no facial expression she could make to fit the situation. She shakes her head slowly and walks away, Dan hears her heart shut when the door does and she locks herself in the room for the rest of the day.
"I need to go and see him." Serena says, dazed.
"Right, of course."
"Like now. And I don't think Blair would...I don't think she's ready to see him even though I know she wants to." She adds.
Dan nods slowly, it's easier to understand their situation from the outside. "I'll stay with her. I don't know what good it will do her but I guess it doesn't really make a difference."
Lily calls Serena and within the hour she's whirled away, not knowing quite how he got here so quickly, Dan ends the night alone, head in his hands staring out at a black sky.
It's afternoon when he approaches her door. He has a feeling it's going to take a record amount of coaxing to get her out of there. More than coaxing. He's going to need something special, but her Chuck's been shot, her Nate was never really hers, and now her Serena's gone. He didn't think it was actually possible to harbour this kind of sympathy for someone who so obviously didn't desire it.
Blair hears a soft thud against her door and she knows who it is. Serena would just stroll on in. Her dad would knock usually, but she suspects he's scared of the state she's in, too scared to probe her about this. Still, she doesn't invite him in yet.
"Blair, can you hear me?" The muffled voice reaches her ears and she sighs. She's wrapped in her duvet. She doesn't want to break free.
He's accustomed to laughing in completely inappropriate situations, but a smile is all he can muster right now.
"So Serena left." He says, knowing it isn't exactly start-living-your-life-again material, but knowing she'll have to digest the facts first before they get to that.
He feels her slide down the other side of the door. He thinks it could be a lot better if they could make eye contact. Maybe they both have confessions, he wonders.
"I felt so...and I can't believe you're the one I'm saying this too, because you'll always hold it against me, but I felt...in those few seconds after Serena said it, I felt relief. Like revenge had been taken...like it was karma...or something."
Dan isn't surprised to hear Blair say it. "I thought signs were for the superstitious and the lower classes," he reminds her in an effort to make her smile, even though he can't see it. "I meant what I said at the wedding, Blair. You deserve someone who makes you happy and maybe what you had with Chuck isn't a source of happiness anymore. It's become something else. I know I have no idea how you two work, but that's pretty much the story of Serena and I. We had something and we twisted it until it was beyond repair."
The door cracks open, she says it hadn't been locked at all.
He stands up awkwardly.
No make-up, mascara tears and strands of dark hair orbiting her face.
She wants to ask why are you the only one here? The answer would be too alarming. She mapped out the summer to be a girls-only affair with disposable boys, and now the only person who understands is the guy she frequently dismissed as having no concept of what it meant to be her; Humphrey, always reading people and usually getting it right.
She looks him up and down. "I hate that you're the one to understand this. It should have been S or my dad. But it's not. It's you."
Before he has time to register her arms are looped around neck in an embrace.
This is already so far away from what they should be.
"Thanks, Humphrey. I'm going to get ready and then we're going shopping."
He'd argue that they're going somewhere else, but the sight of her commanding demeanour restored cheers him too much to interfere.
Blair works her way inside his affections, and every so often he has to remind himself that nothing good, permanent, lasting can come out of a summer, especially when the summer is spent with Blair. It doesn't stop him from carrying he bags whenever their out shopping, doesn't stop Harold from telling Blair how charming Daniel is and why she hadn't formally introduced him sooner. It makes Blair think about how she hadn't really accepted Dan sooner either.
Blair wakes up one night and thinks about how much it looks like he's her boyfriend.
And sure enough when she checks her laptop to get the validation she knew was coming: Spotted: Our favourite unlikely pair, people, all I can say is finally! You know what they say about that thin, fragile line between love and hate, Queen B and lonely boy (yes, S's lonely boy!) strolling through Louvre-Tuileries!
She closes her laptop feeling like Carrie Bradshaw after a bad date with Big. The picture in the post showed Blair with her arm looped through Dan's, just as it had been as when she'd introduced him to her dad. She hadn't thought about it, she'd been all too happy to escape the thought of Chuck reduced to being in a hospital bed surrounded by monitors. And if he could use Jenny to escape the pain, well she could use Dan.
Except she understands that she isn't really using him, when he's the one who keeps finding her.
Serena calls her about the post and Blair asserts that it's being blown out of proportion. "Is Chuck okay?"
"No," Serena says bluntly, "He's been asking for you."
"Well then," Blair begins, sarcasm dripping from her tongue, "I suppose I'd better catch the next flight to Prague, drop everything –
"Serena. I value my happiness over his. I've realised that this summer and it's also the moment when I realised that it means I can't be in love with him when I don't value his alongside mine."
"Okay," Serena says, "we'll. I think you're back to being Blair again. We'll talk later, B."
Blair thinks about how refreshed being away from Chuck and Serena has enabled her to feel throughout summer, thinks about how accepting Serena sounded, almost happy after hearing Blair's statement. Even half a world away, she could feel Blair's conviction.
She thinks about how Serena didn't probe too much about how Blair was spending her time with Dan, her only question being Is this a serious Waldorf-Humphrey truce only when all possibility of me and Dan has been ruined?
She thinks about how they really shouldn't be so comfortable in each other's company when she displays utter disdain for Jenny, but it all dissolves away when he sees straight through her.
She thinks about how Chuck was going to propose before Humphrey intervened.
She doesn't think about how it would be to fall in love again until he takes off her favourite hair-band and she starts chasing him on the same grass they sat on and she trips and somehow he ends up carrying her bridal style all the way into her bedroom for no real reason. He feels the erratic heartbeat and isn't sure if it's his or hers, refrains from teasing her about the fact that she's blushing.
They don't kiss when he lays her on the bed, but she looks at him in a way that lets him know she's thinking about it, and that she knows he's thinking about it too.
He lingers above her.
"Serena thought we were together," she says on impulse. He brings out a streak in her she had worked so hard to contain before. She knows she's editing the truth slightly, but she's curious to how he reacts.
He doesn't bother trying to evade their situation. He wants her and he wants her to know about it.
"I think we should be."
He looks at her heatedly. "For a night?" The question can't really be answered because he kisses her, she feels nothing but the taste of lust on her lips and how glad she is to be living again. He's the balance she's been searching for; affectionate but not predictable, rough around the edges but not completely weighed down with darkness.
"And the night after that...and the next night..." he leaves a trail of kisses down her neck, removes his shirt swiftly, watches as she takes off hers. She looks at him in a way that says stop staring but lets him knows that she loves the way he's looking at her, (all summer, if she decides to be honest).
It's the very first time Blair is content with the result of something that hasn't been planned, the first time she's felt so valued when she's just looked at, the first time she has sex with Dan Humphrey, the first time not caring about what the consequences are.
August eludes them in a blur of sex, books and banter.
Chuck's home and gossip girl posts pictures of him with a red head, double dating with Nate and Serena. She doesn't know if they'll be so quick to date with them. They all know each other far too well anyhow, at this point.
With Dan, a lot of their time is spent discovering new things to marvel over. Their relationship only involves planning for tomorrow, not years ahead, not picturing the van der Bilt diamond on her finger or Chuck shedding layers of pride to ask for her forever.
She's happy. With Dan, she breathes, she lives, he makes her heart race when he presses a kiss to her forehead. It's all she's wanted but never asked for.
Harold assumed they were a couple weeks ago, and really that speaks volumes in itself, Blair reasons.
On the plane home her head falls on his shoulder. It's the first time she sleeps properly in a while.
When she wakes up Dan is still there. He hasn't been shot, his eyes won't stray to Serena. He's been here for her all summer and she knows she's going to have to put up with Humphrey through the fall.
His arm is wrapped around her waist as they walk out of the airport and into their car. Limousines will always be tainted with certain memories, but their not enough to hinder her future. Not anymore.
"Serena will freak out and then accept us." Blair says.
"Chuck will be...having sex." Dan says. "Nate will..."
"Be confused." Blair giggles.
"We'll be together." Dan says. Blair doesn't argue with that.
She lets her fingers lace through his. Fall threatens and she doesn't know if this will last or not. "So I know it's stupid and soon and well...I love you, Humphrey."
He looks down at her hand and kisses it. He doesn't have to say a word. She already knows he loves her too; it is the only fact Blair is certain of, the only fact that matters.