Disclaimer: Gossip Girl and quotes belong to Cecily von Ziegesar and the CW.
Chapter IX: Gone with the Bass
SPOTTED: A tearful B in Hyde Park, flinging her ring at her former betrothed. Trouble in paradise, B? In the meantime, we hear C is still pursuing his lady love with glittering gifts... has C found one nut too hard to break?
Thanks to the rapidly approaching days of summer, it was still light when the Waldorf carriage arrived outside the Bass establishment. Eleanor stepped out first, admonishing her daughter with a sharp, "Quickly, Blair!"
Blair followed after her mother as the butler Treeves showed them into the drawing room where Serena, her younger brother Eric, Lily, Sir Bart and the Archibalds awaited them. To her mixed relief and annoyance, Chuck Bass was also in attendance.
He noticed at once the jewel affixed to the blush pink gown she was wearing, the better to accentuate it. There was no indication in his facial expression, but his head froze for a moment in the cursory glance he had turned to give her as she entered.
As she walked past him to take a seat, his hand reached out unseen and gave her arm a swift pinch, causing Blair to give an unwitting cry of "Ouch!"
The room stilled. Blair flung a hand to her brow, ignoring her mother's glares, and said, "My apologies. A sudden sharp pain in my head."
This gained her several suspicious glances, not least when Bass rose and said, "It is probably the heat. Would you care to take a breath outside? The cool air might refresh you. Lily, if you will excuse us?"
Lily nodded her permission as Bass took Blair's arm and steered her through the open doors and on to the terrace.
Standing on the other side of the room, pretending to admire a statue on the mantelpiece, Nate said to Serena in a low voice: "They are plotting something."
"Don't be ridiculous, Nate," Serena muttered back. "Blair detests Chuck."
"Serena - Blair knows."
Serena bit her lip, cast a frightened look about the room and said quietly, "Yes. I told her." Ignoring Nate's intake of breath, she went on, "We can't talk about this here, Nate," and added in a louder tone, "Yes, it is lovely, is it not? A gift from one of my mother's dear friends."
Outside, Blair shook off Bass' hand and said, "I'm getting a little tired of you dragging me about everywhere, Bass."
It was a poor attempt at an insult. Bass brushed it off with, "You don't put up much of a fight."
Blair turned and stared steadfastly out into the garden. Bass watched her. "You are wearing it."
Blair tapped her fan coquettishly against her palm. "Perhaps I simply like pretty jewels."
"You told me you cared for more than that," he said with no hint of sarcasm or tease, catching hold of her wrist. "Am I to take this as acceptance of my offer?"
"Oh, alright," said Blair waspishly, as if this was a trial to her. "But there are some conditions."
"Conditions? Is this a business contract?"
"If you prefer to think of it that way."
"And if I refuse to submit to these conditions?"
"Why, then, you don't get the delight of having me for a wife," answered Blair, smiling sunnily at him. "And you catch the next passage to Calais."
"Very well, then," sighed Bass. "What are your conditions?"
Blair tapped the stone wall with her fan. "It is very simple. I marry you and you do not touch me."
"Not even if you want to be touched?"
"Stop picking loopholes, Bass," said Blair, ignoring his attempts at a euphemism.
"If we are to be married you can at least call me Chuck, even if I am not permitted to touch you with a ten foot bargepole."
Blair sighed, suppressing a smile. "Very well, Chuck. In addition, I shall require separate quarters, of course. I don't think separate establishments are quite necessary, besides which it would cause an awful lot of gossip – what are you smirking at, Bass?"
"Your business sense, my dear. Do continue."
"Well. Ah – on the subject of mistresses."
"You can't have any."
"Can't have any? Not even one? Yet I cannot touch my own wife?"
"Fine," said Blair, flustered. "Have as many mistresses as you like, only keep them away from me."
"Agreed," said Chuck complacently. He had in fact given up any mistresses or dalliances long ago, when the possibility of marrying Blair had first appeared on the horizon, but he was not about to enlighten her as to this fact. "Anything else?"
When she remained silent, he prompted, "An allowance, perhaps?"
"Oh yes, of course."
"Well – however much you think sufficient."
"And how many jewels am I allowed to give you?"
Before Blair could answer or even give him a scathing glare, their conversation was interrupted by the words, "Dinner is served, sir and madam," in the dry tone of Treeves.
Some fool had seated her directly opposite Serena and the tension was palpable. Thankfully she managed to survive dinner by exchanging desultory remarks with her neighbours, and not one word with Serena. That was until the end, when coffee had been served and Blair was beginning to think longingly of her bed.
More fool her.
Chuck stood abruptly and cleared his throat, looking at them all with an expression that said the cat had got the cream. "I have an announcement to make, if I may." Then he smirked at Blair and turned to face his father, at the head of the table.
Dread wound its merry way around Blair's heart.
"I have asked Miss Waldorf to become my wife, and she has graciously assented."
There was a shocked silence. Blair wanted to curl up and die, but contented herself with thinking up ways in which she could torture the smirk off of Bass' – her fiancé's – face.
Lily recovered first. "Congratulations, my dear," she said with a genuine smile. "I wish you the very best."
She was followed by Eric, who said congratulations to them both. Most of the other guests were simply staring, Serena, Nate and Eleanor at Blair, Bart at his son, an unreadable expression on his face.
The party broke up soon after that.
Jenny Humphrey leafed through an old copy of the Morning Post to read Lady Mischief's column again, and said, "I haven't been to a ball in simply ages."
Daniel Humphrey did not look up from the page he was covering in his spiky black scrawl. "Whatever you're getting at, Jenny, the answer is no."
Jenny slumped back on her brother's bed. "I wasn't getting at anything, brother dear," she said in sugary tones. "But don't you think it is just a little unfair that my brother has contacts among the ton and won't even use them to wrangle a few more invites for your sorry sister to meet people."
"How about you let this struggling author get on with his work so he can make his sister a fortune without her having to sell herself to a rich husband."
Jenny rolled over on the bed. "Ha ha," she said sarcastically. She rested her head against the pillow. Thinking of Lady Mischief and rich husbands, Jenny wondered idly why that personage – whoever he or she or they might be – had not used the information she had posted to them directly after the musical evening. Jenny had told them clearly that Blair Waldorf had been the recipient of Chuck Bass' gift, and had received a small sum of money the following day in return for her services, but Lady Mischief still only referred obliquely to the scandal.
Still, at least she had made a worthy amount of progress over a short time. Blair was no longer engaged to Nate, and he in turn was free to pursue other debutantes. Coincidentally, Jenny was now a firm acquaintance of his...
Well, school has started again so updates shall become rare creatures, though I'm not quite ready to give up next. Still, any inspiration for what should happen next...?