A/N: Omg. Am I gonna be able to actually legit finish this story before the episode? *humungous gaspage* Let's hope so! *cheers for possibilities* Though, I am still trying to calm down from seeing the freaking amazing Canadian 4x07 promo where the CB hate-sex is in fact included! *giggle-squeal* But, *clears throat* back to this story. Lol. I just have to thank all of you SO much for all the amazing wonderful squeal-worthy reviews I've gotten from you. You have seriously made my life. I've never had this good of a response from any of my other stories. Ever. So, thank-you for that. I hope some of you will follow me to my other stories. =)
*I own nothing. No copyright infringement intended.
(Oh, & let's just…for all intents and purposes say that Blair's b-day was farther off than the time span would have allowed thus far in my story XD)
One month later, amidst a room of balloons, music, colors and the finest Upper East Side guests, Chuck stood watching Blair Waldorf from across the room. She was completely enamoured by the entire scene, gushing to a minority of people and bitching to the rest. Still, everyone no doubt felt beyond honored to be at Blair Waldorf's 20th birthday party. He smirked softly, taken in to a whole 'nother level by the glow that seemed to radiate off of her and to every person spread throughout the room.
He leaned back on the banister of the wide open terrace. It did not escape his memory that it was a similar set-up to how things had been on the eve of her seventeenth birthday. Only this time he would not admit to having butterflies for her and she could not shoot him down for being the bad boy with feelings. A punch spiked in his gut when he remembered how he'd hurt her the month before for too long, or even at all. It succeeded any 'bad boy' behavior he'd had before that all growing up. Even sleeping with Jenny Humphrey hadn't been that bad. It hadn't caused her to relapse at the very least. Half the time he wanted to murder himself for what he'd done to her. But her pleading when he nearly jumped off the rooftop of Victrola two years earlier ever rang through his ears whenever the thoughts came close. Her insistence on wanting to know if he ever was seriously injured at the train station in Paris also gave him the support he needed to hold his ground. And as much as he just wanted to tell himself it was fine to go through with it because things had changed, too much had happened, he couldn't do it. He'd gotten close a couple weeks earlier and even Serena Van der Woodsen herself had stopped him, saying that Blair wasn't strong right now and she needed him to be strong for her. That was enough to make him stop punishing himself for good. It wouldn't help her at all if he was just stuck in self-hatred for the rest of eternity, regardless of anything else good that he had done.
For the last month he'd come to the Ostroff Center every day to visit her. Every day he'd brought her flowers, brochures for the various classes she could take at Columbia – which she'd promptly decided to start back up again in the spring – and gone out and bought every single thing on her wish list. There were times when she'd ignore him completely. She'd also yell at him from time to time about how he'd hurt her and how she shouldn't even allow him to be near her. But in the end, miraculously she found cuddling up with him to be more soothing than Serena hanging with her every single day. It took awhile for Serena to adjust to the situation, but for the most part Nate kept her busy. Because what was most important was that Blair recover from her recent relapse. It was hard, and she managed to jinx the system every few days and get away with purging in the bathroom assigned to her. But the incidents had become less and fewer as the weeks went on. In the last week before her birthday she'd only purged once, and when it happened Chuck arrived on the scene right in time to hold her hair back and cool her face with a wet washcloth when she was finished.
In that moment he'd almost told her he still loved her. He knew she needed to hear it, he just didn't know if she'd accept it. She was still very adamant about not forgiving him and that stabbed his heart every single day when she reminded him, because every single day he would try whatever he could to win her forgiveness. He managed to keep her institution into the Ostroff Center a secret even from Gossip Girl, and even when Harold, Roman, Eleanor and Cyrus finally broke through the borders and demanded entrance to see her, it did not go past those doors. Jenny didn't come over with them either. In fact, despite how guilty she still felt over what had happened between them, Chuck was as fiercely protective as ever of Blair. Even if the little bleach blonde didn't intend to antagonize her, there was no way she was going to be allowed entrance to the great U.S. Not if he had anything to say about, not until Blair had been healed for a long time and had somehow come to the conclusion that Jenny Humphrey being in the same country was not the most horrid thing to have happened.
Chuck told Blair he was sorry every day. Surprisingly, she did not tire of it, because every day she told him she could never forgive him. He got a masseuse brought in for her and tried to suppress his jealous at the fact that this strange man got to touch his beautiful Blair practically everywhere when he wasn't even involved with her! These were the times when he would temporarily leave the room, call Nate, and vent. It amused his best friend immensely, and over time it even made Serena chuckle.
It was the little things, they began to realize. Bringing her gifts, reminding her how beautiful she was, doing whatever she wanted of him… It made his heart beat faster when she never requested he leave. Not even for the night. She didn't say a word when he set up camp on a cot next to her bed and didn't even bring scotch with him. In fact, he hardly left the room period except to take her out on the occasional walk or a nice smooth drive in his limo to a fancy restaurant or a classic play. He'd smoothly gotten away with it despite the rules the Ostroff Center stood by. Money was everything in situations like that, and no harm was done in the end, so the staff there pretended they were barely okay with it. As if they weren't jumping up and down and throwing a party when he'd left, he thought. He'd still had enough in him to support a few charities again, just different ones this time – and for the time being that was the Ostroff Center's greatest blessing.
"You look beautiful," he said when she found her way through the crowded room of people to the beautiful terrace overlooking the city. She shook her head, smiling.
"You say that every day."
"I mean it every day," he said softly, laying his hand on hers clasped on the railing. She turned to him and smiled. She did not shiver with the fear of getting hurt when he touched her anymore. True she'd been reconsidering their first sleep together incident the morning after, but he'd pampered her so much since then, been so genuine, so kind, and yet so completely Chuck Bass that she could have sworn her heart started to flutter again. The fluttering blocked out almost all the fear that resided inside her. It was lessening more by the day, and she knew that if this type of behavior continued in him and perhaps became permanent, that she'd rely on him more completely and would never feel the need to stiffen in her presence or prepare for a long ago ended war.
"How's your party going?" he asked, inclining his head towards the room full of people. She smiled and nodded a little, acknowledging the noise behind her.
"It's good." She lifted her head to see his sparkling eyes warming her stomach. "Great, in fact. But…" He frowned, already distressed at the possibility that something might have caused her mood to dim. "I wish you were in there with us." He relaxed visibly.
"I like it out there. It's…"
"…near the roof," she finished, the teasing smirk reaching her eyes. The expression reflected on his face.
"Yes," he said. "Plus," He leaned his body flat against the rail behind them, holding the glass of champagne in one hand. "I knew you'd come find me eventually." He winked. She raised her eyebrows in a flirty, teasing gesture.
"Mm," he continued, nodding. "You can't resist me, you see."
She laughed. "What makes you think that?" she challenged. For half a second she lost her breath at the thought of him kissing her to prove his point. She still loved him, but was convinced she couldn't forgive him, not yet at least. He'd done so much good since he'd abandoned the war that caused her relapse. But it wasn't enough. Not yet.
He turned to her again. "I have a present for you."
Her heart stopped, fleeting images of her seventeenth birthday party racing through her mind, of Nate not showing up, of receiving Chuck's Erickson Beaming necklace for her, of sleeping with him again and feeling lost in some sort of dream, of it being the perfect end to a hazardous night.
She watched him cautiously as he set his glass on the banister, dug in his pocket and pulled out a small velvet box. Her stopped heart dropped into her stomach and her eyes widened. She had specifically told him she'd never forgive him – countless times in fact. And she had never once given any verbal evidence that she still loved him. Was he picking up on signs she didn't think she'd been showing? Or was he just so cocky he thought he'd give his proposal another whirl?
"I'm not proposing. Don't worry," he said easily, smirking. She laughed a little nervously but forced herself to stay focus and not start crying. Something inside her just screamed this was a monumental moment and she didn't know if she was supposed to allow it or not.
"Well, you're obviously doing something if you haven't given me my present yet," she said plainly. His eyes glittered as his smile spread farther across his face. It was beginning to annoy her.
He took a deep breath, bracing himself. She saw very well how he was trying to gather his courage and it made her even more nervous. If he wasn't proposing, what was he doing? He looked up at her, staring adoringly, intently into her deep brown eyes.
"I know you think you can't forgive me," he began. She closed her eyes, telling herself she should have seen this coming. There was not a single day that went by that he didn't try to earn his forgiveness. At one point he'd nearly sold the Empire to Jack in Australia because he'd thought that type of anguish would make her happy. She wasn't heartless though. That was going too far, and for her there'd always been limits. She'd nearly had a heart attack during the five seconds when he decided to reconsider it due to her pleas.
"Just hear me out," he begged. She opened her eyes, just in time to see him open the small velvet box displaying a simple silver ring. She stared at it with wonder. It wasn't an engagement ring and there was nothing engraved on it, so it wasn't a promise ring either – at least, she thought she wasn't.
"Uh…okay," she said finally, still in shock by the fact that he actually wasn't proposing, since all signs were pointing to a yes. She looked up at him. "What does this mean?"
He cleared his throat. "It's a potential promise." Ah, she thought. So, it was a promise ring.
"Potential?" she asked, skeptical. He nodded once.
"Yes." He took the ring out of its box, tucked the box back into his pocket and held the ring out to her on his palm. "You can choose to take it or refuse it, but if you don't take it I'm going to keep it with me until you do," he said determinedly.
"Chu—" Her brows furrowed, confused.
"That's why it's potential. You don't have to take it, but I really hope you will." His voice sounded raspy. She looked back and forth between his desperate, longing gaze and the sparkling simple silver ring.
"What…" she began hesitantly. "Would I be promising?"
He took a deep breath. "It would be foolish of me to think you might even consider promising me your future long again." She looked at him intensely, feeling suddenly very hot. She wondered if he knew. "Anything's possible between us, and I think you know that, but it would still be stupid of me to ask that of you at this point." She swallowed hard and he took another deep breath. "So, instead, if you take this ring, you'll be promising me that over time you will try to find it in you to forgive me."
She looked down at the ring again.
"You will try not to hate me."
Her face fell.
"And, above everything else, you will try more than anything to stop hurting yourself, because…" His breaths slowed. "Because, I love you, and I can't bear to see you hurt anymore." He watched her intently, searching out a specific emotion. "You need this," he told her. "You need this for you."
Her eyes filled with tears when she looked up to him right then. His hazel eyes were brimming with a similar emotion and she couldn't quite recall if she was still breathing. She gasped then, needing to say something, but the words wouldn't come. She was swept up in the moment and how selfishly unselfish his request was. She pursed her lips tightly and started to nod, reaching for the ring he displayed to her. It seemed like it was from heaven now, too perfect to be real. He pulled his hand back a little and she halted, waiting as he slipped the silvery ring on her engagement finger. Her eyes flitted up to his but she said nothing that would make him change the placement of the ring.
"I promise," she breathed. Then, taking a step forward she lightly grasped the back of his neck and placed a single, soft, simple kiss on his lips. All air escaped him then. She opened her eyes before pulling away, wondering how it was possible to be so close to another human being. "I promise," she repeated, leaning her forehead against his. "Thank-you," she said, and then pulled away.
Their hands were clasped together but slowly released as she moved back across the terrace to find herself back to the party, seeking out Serena before anyone else as was per usual. Chuck picked up his champagne glass and dumped the contents over the railing, not needing the liquid to sustain him any further. His lips still tingled from her touch and when he touched them delicately he smiled. The plan had worked. He had known it would from the very beginning, all along he'd known it'd only be a matter of time. She would forgive him.
It was in the gaze of love he caught from her inside the room.
A/N: Hope it wasn't too disappointing. ;p Thanks again so much for all your wonderful, wonderful, wonderful support! =D hehe. Now, on to the episode! =D