A/N: This takes into consideration some of the spoilers for 4.06 and beyond. This is my rather long-winded one shot on how I wish the rest of Season 4 would unfold for Chuck and Blair. I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it!


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The first time they have sex again, it's on campus at Columbia. Perhaps it was being on campus, or it was the sexual frustration that ruled them both, but secretly, they both think it has to do with junior year nostalgia. No matter what she says, Blair is honestly thrilled that Chuck is at Columbia, school is good for him. Later, they'll both tell themselves that all of this was their way of recreating their wasted senior year in high school.

It's late and Blair exits her sole night class after a long discussion with her professor. The hallways are empty and quiet, yet her senses are running in overdrive, her nerves tingling with anticipation. She glances over her shoulder to make sure she is not imagining anything when she runs directly into his body. Out of habit, he draws her close to him as she instinctively slides her hands on his chest. Their eyes lock, and all that palpable tension from Chuck's declared war on Blair, rises to the surface and is aching to burst. A moment later, he's pushing her against the wall and she's kissing him as though it's the last time.

Within seconds they find themselves pawing each other desperately against the bathroom door in the East wing of Warren Hall. Blair drags her nails through Chuck's hair as he bites her neck. Both sets of hands are desperately pulling at the other's clothes. Blair tugging his shirt out of his pants, unbuckling his belt, while Chuck slides his hands up her skirt and slips his fingers inside her. As she moans, she pulls even harder at his hair while he bites her so hard, he breaks her skin. A moment later, he is sliding deep inside her and they both want to cry because they are finally home.

"This changes nothing," Blair says, readjusting the skirt of her dress and smoothing down her hair.

"Did you think I wanted it to?" Chuck returns as he tucks in his shirt, and zips up his pants. He turns and looks in the mirror, his hair is a mess. "Next time, lay off the hair."

"Who said there's going to be a next time?" Blair huffs, grabbing her purse from the floor, and taking a hair clip out of her makeup bag. Her hair is a mess, and she easily remedies the situation by pulling it back in a ponytail.

"Please, it's us, there'll never be a last time," Chuck says indifferently.

"You wish."

"Really? Did I slam myself into the men's bathroom wall? Something tells me, that was all you," Chuck smirked.

Blair slowly walks over to Chuck, and drags a finger across his cheek and whispers, "This is just sex, Chuck. You always were very good at it, might as well make use of you. It's really sweet, that you're still in love with me."

Chuck grabs the back of Blair's hair, crushes his lips to her, until he draws a moan from her. He lets her go and walks out the door, looking over his shoulder and says, "Sweetheart, this isn't love."

Blair watches him walk away as she locks the men's room door. Sliding to the floor, she cries.

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The next time it happens, three days later, it is he who drags her into an empty classroom. He kisses her senseless until he finds himself sitting on a chair, with Blair straddling him. This time, there are no words when it's over. Instead, she slowly disentangles herself from his lap. When she is unable to catch her footing, and almost slips, his hands find their way to her hips, steadying her from a potential fall. She smiles at him in thanks, and a boyish smile is given in return. There are no tears for Blair as she walks out of the abandoned classroom. This time it is Chuck who cries as he stays seated, staring out the window, this time hoping there will be a next time.

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Two weeks go by without sight or sound.

Blair decides she needs to avoid Chuck at all cost. She's afraid that this time she won't be able to lie and tell Chuck she doesn't love him anymore.

Chuck decides he needs to avoid Blair at all cost. He's admittedly scared this time, worrying that she will figure out that he has never stopped loving her, will never stop loving her, and all of this war nonsense was to keep her from moving on.

The Gossip Girl blast questioning if the cold war between Chuck and Blair is over, has both of their guards up. They blindly start attacking the other, only their actions fall flat, as they are half-hearted efforts. They are trying to cover up the fact that the anger is dissipating—that they are again left with the intensity of their emotions and the hurt that seems just as inevitable as they are.

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They are both terrified the next time they are together, because they actually don't have sex. In fact, they don't even come close to having sex. They kiss each other hungrily, before settling for cuddling and sleep. It is all quiet affection with gentle kisses and light touches. He can't stop tracing patterns on her back, and burying his head in her curls. She can't stop herself from rubbing her feet against his and burying her face into his chest, the steady beat of his heart calming her nerves. They both sleep soundly through the night, the best sleep either of them have had since before Jack came into town.

When they wake up early the next morning, they make out like teenagers until the alarm rings. They look at each other sheepishly, share a shower, but still do not have sex. They look into each other's eyes with questions, but again, say nothing, afraid that giving voice to whatever might be happening between them will shatter.

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The next week is more of the same, they meet all over campus and all over Manhattan, making out like horny teenagers who just discovered the opposite sex. They both are in awe of how much they enjoy this, just kissing. Blair feels like her lips are permanently swollen and doesn't know why they have reverted to this heavy petting stage. But neither of them will actually broach the topic of sex, in fact they don't talk. The only words they seem to exchange are "Chuck", "Blair", "yes", "more", "now", "don't stop" and moans and groans.

It's not that they don't want to talk about this, it's just that they don't know how. Blair isn't sure if she's ready to forgive him. Chuck is willing to settle for any crumbs she's throwing his way. So they continue to not talk about it, until Blair has had enough.

Out of the blue, mid-kiss she asks, "What are we, Chuck?"

He's so stunned that she's asking, he answers incorrectly, "Making out?"

Blair pushes him off of her, yells for Arthur to pull the limo over and gets out. By the time Chuck realizes what's happened, she's already half way down the street. He slumps back in his seat and yells, "FUCK!"

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Ten days have passed since the limo incident. The Gossip Girl blast about Chuck being rushed to the hospital leaves Blair reeling. Before she knows what she's doing, she walks out of her Economics midterm, hails a cab and demands that the hospital let her, Chuck's fiancée, in to see him. They let her into his room after she answers a series of complex questions, details they assume only a fiancée or wife would know. Chuck is asleep on his side, facing the wall. The sound of the door wakes him, and he turns to see Blair standing in the doorway, tears streaming down her cheeks, and looking like the most beautiful thing he has ever seen. As he hoarsely calls out her name, she turns on her heel and walks out the door. The drugs kick back in, and as the haze overtakes him, Chuck wonders if she was really there or if he just had the best hallucination of his life.

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He has seventeen new stitches and is confident that her skipping her midterm (it's all over Gossip Girl) to see him at the hospital, is a sign that she has never stopped loving him. As soon as he's discharged from the hospital, he goes straight to the Waldorf penthouse. He is the first to break, and he walks into her bedroom and says "I love you." She says nothing as her back is still turned to him. When he walks up to her, and wraps his arms around her and whispers the words in her ear again, she turns around, cheeks tear-stained and says, "I know."

Blair doesn't return the three words, eight letters, and this time, Chuck knows he will have to earn them. But she doesn't ask him to leave either, so they fall asleep clinging to each other.

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It takes another week, but he manages to convince her to let him take her out. Actually he begs her, and she finally gives in. He is so nervous that she'll hate what he has planned, that he almost cancels the date six times. He sends a text, telling her to wear jeans and to dress causally, that the car (not the limo) will be there shortly. He is waiting inside the movie theatre with diet soda, popcorn and a variety of candy. She walks through the door and smirks, "Chuck and Blair, going to the movies?" He nods yes. She grabs the popcorn, kisses him on the cheek and starts walking towards the room. He reaches out and grabs her hand, pulls her towards him for a quick kiss and says, "Chuck and Blair, holding hands." She smiles brightly and drags him in, mumbling something about not wanting to miss the previews. In the dim lights, she leans her head on his shoulder and is still holding his hand, he starts wondering how he could have ever thought this was a bad idea.

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Their secret dates and outings take over their lives as there is a certain sense of comfort that echoes their carefree junior year, only this time the threat of Nate is no longer there. The fragility of it all scares them even more, so they are meticulous about meeting places and times, insuring no one, not even Gossip Girl will catch them until they are ready to be public. The trickiest part is negotiating his place or hers, as Serena and Nate, while not terribly observant, know them better than anyone else. Half of the time they end up back at Suite 1812.

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Serena notices Blair's lack of availability and confronts her, "Are you seeing Chuck again?

"What? Why would you say that?"

"Because I saw the Gossip Girl blast about you going to the hospital the other week, and when I came home, you two were curled up in your bed," Serena says softly.

"I was worried about him, S, but that doesn't mean we're back together," Blair says snottily.

"Then why are you glowing like you did when you and Chuck were sneaking around after your 17th birthday? And where do you sleep half the time? You're never around," Serena asks, concern filling her eyes.

"If you must know, I'm seeing someone."

"Really, who? How did you two meet? When do I get to meet him?" Serena enthuses, relieved that Blair is not in Chuck's clutches.

"I'd rather not say, I'm not sure if it's going to work out, and he'd prefer we keep it private," Blair confesses.

Serena's eyes narrow, and she is not at all pleased by Blair's answer. Now she is even more worried. Before she can press any further, Blair already has one foot out the door and the look on her face says this discussion is closed.

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Blair arrives warily at the Empire for a date. Chuck swears that Nate has Vanderbilt business to attend to, and it'll just be the two of them. When the elevator doors open she is greeted with a cloud of smoke, the sounds of the fire alarm going off and Chuck cursing. She opens the windows just as he has finally figures out how to use the fire extinguisher. Her eyes tear up from the combination of the smoke and then again when she sees the dinner table that Chuck has painstakingly set, himself, with the unevenly folded napkins and misaligned silverware. He looks at her sheepishly and says, "I didn't burn the salad."

Together, they open every single window in the suite until the smoke clears. Half an hour later, he is serving her an arugula and mixed green salad with asian pears, candied pecans and goat cheese. It looks unappetizing but tastes delicious. Blair teases, "Where's your apron that says 'kiss the cook'?"

Chuck growls at her before sweeping her into his arms and taking her into his bedroom. They are so wrapped up in each other, that they don't hear the elevator ding or remember that Blair's purse is lying on the couch. They are so busy physically expressing themselves that they don't realize that Nate has come home early, and is looking at the kitchen in awe.

Nate feels a tinge of alarm when he sees Blair's purse, but the sudden eruption of moans coming from Chuck's room troubles him more. He hates that Chuck has stolen Blair's purse to further this war, and wonders if this is all a set up for Blair to walk in on. Chuck Bass cooking for a woman would break her heart.

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Chuck is deep asleep when Blair manages to unfold herself from his limbs. She didn't think that he could make her feel so cherished or this happy as he has for the past couple of weeks. One good gift deserves another, she thinks, and pulling on his robe, she walks into his closet looking for his scarf. It takes a few minutes, but she finds it in her old drawer mixed in with a set of her La Pearla's, two headbands, some lingerie, and the Harry Winston engagement ring.

She can't stop herself from crying as she realizes that he thinks of his old signature and the ring as hers. She quickly wipes her tears. She retrieves her purse from the living room, not realizing that she and Nate have missed crossing paths by mere seconds. Sitting on the floor of Chuck's closet, she pulls out her needle and her heart pin, and sews it onto the horrible yet wonderful plaid concoction. Blair folds the scarf, carefully hiding the pin, and places it on top of the dresser.

Shedding Chuck's robe, she crawls back into their bed and wakes him up with her mouth.

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Blair is beyond shocked when Nate approaches her about having a "fake" relationship. She looks at him as if he's crazy. Nate quickly confides in her that he thinks Chuck may be dating someone. When Blair doesn't react, Nate pulls out the big guns and tells her, "He actually cooked dinner for her, and by cooking, I don't mean picking up the phone and placing the order."

Blair smiles serenely at him, before saying, "I think that's sweet."

This further convinces Nate that Blair is in denial. Nate assures Blair, "I'm on your side. I don't want him to hurt you again. If he's using her to get back at you, you need to strike first!"

Blair's final reply is, "Thank you, but I'll pass."

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Their first fight is born out of fear and stupidity. Serena drags Blair to a Bass Industries event. Blair begs Serena not to make her go, but when Serena pulls out the best friend card, she is donning on the couture dress that Chuck bought her last week. As usual, they are running late and Blair doesn't have time to text Chuck, informing him of her presence. They arrive just in time to see an overly busty blonde, wrap her arms around Chuck and nuzzle his ear. Blair is so in shock that she doesn't realize that Chuck is trying to disengage from this way too friendly gold-digger. When he finally manages to pull away, he sees Blair, on the verge of tears and running out of the room. He chases after her, ignoring a disapproving Serena, and catches her just before she makes it to the bathroom. He can't stop repeating, "Blair, it's not what it looks like."

She wrings herself away from him and lifts her chin proudly and says, "I don't care anymore."

Blair walks into the bathroom and slams the door. Chuck paces nervously for the next 30 minutes, waiting for her to come out. The moment she does, he knows he's in trouble, her makeup has been reapplied perfectly and she ignores him completely. He follows after her begging, "Please, Blair don't do this."

Within fifteen minutes she has half a dozen men eating out of her hand. All Chuck can do is watch from the corner. He wants to cause a scene, but he worries that it will only piss her off more. It's Chuck's turn to walk out the door when a smooth looking lawyer places his hand way too low on her waist and leads her out onto the balcony.

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The next day a life-sized teddy bear holding an enormously large box of Godiva Gold Collection chocolates, arrives at the Waldorf penthouse with a note, "I'm an idiot, please forgive me."

Serena looks at the gift and thinks, there is no way Chuck Bass would buy something so pedestrian. She looks at Blair and asks, "Is that from Chuck?"

Blair's eyes are twinkling as she shrugs and says, "It's from my new beau."

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Chuck is beyond shocked when Serena approaches him about finding him a date. He looks at her as if she's crazy. Serena quickly confides in him that she thinks Blair may be dating someone. When Chuck doesn't react, Serena pulls out the big guns and tells him, "He bought her an oversized teddy bear and she didn't bat an eye. I think she may be in her words, 'slumming it', and liking it."

Chuck grins at her, before saying, "Change is good."

This further convinces Serena that Chuck is in denial. Serena assures Chuck, "Blair may be my best friend, and you've done more than your fair share of fucked up shit, but I think you two belong together. You know she's just going to rub this guy in your face!"

Chuck's final reply is, "Thank you, but I'll pass."

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For the first time in years, Blair does not plan a birthday celebration. In fact, no one, not even Dorota, knows where she's disappeared to for five days.

Either on accident or on purpose, Blair leaves her cell phone at home when Chuck picks her up two days before her birthday and whisks her away to Tuscany. Chuck tells her, "This idea isn't original, it's recycled and trite, but last time I checked, there were more than a few things I need to make up to you."

As she grabs her purse and follows him out the door, she says, "This might be better than the Erickson Beamon necklace."

Later that night when he drapes the diamond Harry Winston choker on her that he didn't buy her two years ago, she thinks maybe, it's time to cave in and say the words back…maybe.

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Thanksgiving is complicated this year. As much as she wants to invite Chuck to dinner, she isn't sure if she can forgive him yet. It is not a question about loving him, because she has never stopped, it's just a matter of truly letting the past stay in the past, and Blair isn't sure if she's ready to do that.

Chuck tries not to pressure her about their relationship or about dinner, but she can see the hurt on his face when she refuses to change her mind about inviting him to her mother's.

Their second fight occurs when he icily asks her to please leave his suite.

She grabs her purse and walks out the door without looking back or apologizing. When she hears the sound of glass crashing against the wall, her footsteps falter, before she forces herself to continue down the hallway and into the elevator.

Four hours later she is back at his door, with plates of food from her mother's Thanksgiving dinner that she has walked out on. She knocks instead of using her key and prays that he is still there sulking.

Chuck's eyes are red and puffy and his hair disheveled, but he looks down at her and smarms, "I hope you didn't forget the whip cream."

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He starts disappearing for a couple of hours every day for about 2 weeks. When Blair starts to notice the bruises on his body, Chuck zips up and refuses to talk about it. Blair wants to press, but nothing is official between the two of them, so she says nothing. On the anniversary of Bart's death, he doesn't close himself off, but instead he tells her that he has a surprise for her. After they go to Bart's grave together, he brings her to Wollman Ice Skating Rink, which is shockingly, completely deserted. Something resembling a tent blockades any outsiders, but flickering lights are seen, as the rink seems to be uncovered from the top. Chuck smiles mysteriously at Blair's confusion. The security men who say, "Good evening, Mr. Bass" befuddles her even more. Chuck places his hands over her eyes, and slowly guides her inside.

Chuck finally removes his hands and all Blair can see is hundreds of rice paper lanterns, trimming the rink. She spins around marveling at the cool air that still sneaks in from outside, with stars shining above. When she turns around to exclaim her joy, she sees Chuck, sitting on the bench, lacing up his skates with entirely too much ease. The bruises make sense, and she jumps into his arms, kissing him all over his face. They both laugh happily, and he hands her her skates. At this point Blair is much more concerned with thanking Chuck, very explicitly. But tonight Chuck wants her to enjoy skating more than he enjoys her, so he forcibly removes himself away from her. He extends out a hand and with promise in his eyes, he says, "Later."

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Finals week comes and goes uneventfully. The beauty of their relationship this time around makes Chuck and Blair even more protective and secretive. Serena and Nate have finally joined forces and start to trade notes about Chuck and Blair. Even though they maintain their meticulous standards about never being seen together, they think in order for Serena and Nate to leave them alone, perhaps they should plot to get them back together.

Before they can put their plans into action, the truth comes out that Juliet is Pete Fairman's sister, and Nate is throwing himself at Serena's mercy. Within three days, Nate and Serena are NateandSerena, and the barely existent pressure of their elementary detective days are past them. Chuck and Blair are enlisted to handle the "Juliet situation" and within 48 hours Juliet is behind bars for fraud and extortion. Nate and Serena cocoon themselves at the Empire to make up for lost time.

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Christmas comes and Chuck gives Blair the only gift she wants, "I'm sorry, for everything."

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New Year's Eve goes and Blair toasts the New Year with the only words he wants to hear, "I love you, too."

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Even though the New Year has brought "I love yous", neither Chuck nor Blair are ready to surrender their relationship to the public for consumption. Nate and Serena finally return to earth from their honeymoon phase, and cotton on to what's going on between the two of them. The blonde duo choose to counterattack, and for the first time Chuck and Blair are the ones caught off guard.

Nate corners Blair one night and starts confessing he's still in love with her, Serena's just a phase, and it doesn't matter who she's dating or if she's still hung up on Chuck, he will win her back. Before she knows it Nate kisses her hand and is down on one knee, pulling out the Vanderbilt ring.

Serena, meanwhile, convinces Chuck to help her find her lost bracelet in his and Nate's suite. Nate bought it for her for Christmas, and he can't find out she lost it. She times it so when the elevators door open, all that can be heard is Blair saying, "Nate, please don't make this any harder than it is."

Chuck runs into the room and sees Nate's fake proposal, and punches him.

As Blair manages to pull Chuck off of Nate she yells, "Chuck, it's not what it looks like!"

Chuck pulls Blair tightly to him and hisses at Nate, "Don't ever touch her again!"

Blair cradles Chuck's face in her hands and whispers, "I will never love anyone other than you."

Those words allow Chuck to catch his breath, and as he presses his forehead against hers, he reverently says, "I will never let you go."

Serena and Nate sprawl on the couch watching the two of them with unconcealed fascination. It's the combination of Serena's laughter and Nate saying, "Gotcha!" that make them realize they've been found out. As Serena checks that Chuck's blow to Nate's eye has only done minimal damage, she squeals with joy and demands, "When and how did this happen? I want all the details!"

Chuck groans and says, "You want all the details, Sis? I can get quite graphic, unless you'd rather just watch the tapes?"

As Serena pretends to vomit, Nate cringes, and Blair hits him on the arm, Chuck smiles, the non-judging breakfast club is back!

Blair makes Serena and Nate pledge a vow of secrecy to keep the truth about Chuck and Blair under wraps, when Chuck interrupts with, "Cross your heart, hope to die, stick a needle in your eye?"

All three throw pillows at Chuck as they burst into fits of laughter.

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The next week is the second return of Jenny Humphrey and Chuck is on high alert. The guilt of having brought her back last year to torment Blair, is still fresh in his mind. Strangely, Blair doesn't bat an eye at the Gossip Girl blast that Jenny is back and has her sights set on Chuck Bass. Blair appears completely unconcerned and doesn't even react.

Chuck tries damage control by not only emailing Blair his daily itinerary, but texting her every other minute, with detailed accounts and information about his whereabouts. He starts to freak out just a bit more when he looks at her phone, and sees that she hasn't even bothered opening thosemessages of his, and has filed them in her "delete" folder.

Chuck fears that Blair is in her "calm before the storm" mode, and that she will implode on him, that everything they've worked to salvage will be destroyed. Nate and Serena share his concerns, and try to fend off all of Jenny's attacks, from sneaking into the Empire or cornering him in public. The golden couple is all too aware of how far Little J is willing to go.

The one night Chuck lets his guard down is the night he finds Jenny laying on his bed wearing Blair's lingerie. He absolutely loses it, calling her every name in the book before calling security.

Jenny just shrugs, "Blair will never forgive you! It's been over seven months. Just give in, you know you want me! Besides, do you really want to be the loser who keeps his ex-girlfriend's lingerie in his closet?"

Chuck stares at her and brutally tells her the truth, "When are you going to get it? I used you, like you used me. And truthfully, I can't even remember what you tasted like or felt like, because you're not her, and you never will be."

Jenny is on a suicide mission and could care less. She hisses, "Well if I can't have you, I'll make damn sure she never does."

Chuck distantly hears the elevator and assumes security has arrived and grabs her by the arm. He is unprepared when she gains leverage by pulling on his tie, forcing him to lie atop of her.

It is Blair's unmistakable gasp that has Chuck leaping off the bed. Jenny just sprawls on the bed and laughs maniacally.

Blair looks down at Jenny sadly and reminds her, "He's never going to love you, no one loves you, Jenny Humphrey. Don't think I don't know that when he fucked you, he called out my name."

The shock on both Jenny and Chuck's face is priceless. Blair continues, "Now get the fuck out of this hotel before I have to call your dad and text Gossip Girl just how pathetic you are."

Jenny turns bright red, quickly jumping off the bed and covering herself with her jacket. Just as she's walking out the door, Blair says, "And Little J, keep the slip, it's now considered trash, just like you."

Chuck waits until he is certain they are both alone before he opens his mouth, but Blair beats him to the punch, "How many times do I have to show her that I'm the crazy bitch around here?"

Chuck says nothing, waiting for Blair to begin her tirade, but all she does is strip the sheets and comforter off their bed and says, "I really liked this set, it's too bad we'll have to burn it."

Chuck's lack of response has Blair looking over at him. When she sees him standing there, mouth agape, she smiles at him and asks, "What?"

"That's it?" Chuck asks uncertainly. "How did you know?"

"Jenny told Eric, Eric told Serena, Serena told Nate and Nate told me. I've known for awhile now."

"Blair, what you saw when you walked in—"

She shuts him up with a kiss, and he clings to her so tightly she almost can't breathe. She can feel his tears against her skin and soothes him the only way she knows how by whispering, "You won't lose me again."

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Valentine's Day is all about Chuck. Blair closes down Victrola to reenact her striptease on the stage that started it all—same dress, same slip, same passionate results in the limo. Only when Chuck tells her she's amazing, it's also followed by "I don't deserve you and I'll never stop loving you."

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Internships rule the second half of Spring semester. Ironically, Blair lands one with Bass Industries and Chuck does not. There is no discussion about her turning it down, but the idea of one day running BI with Blair by his side excites Chuck to no end. Chuck eventually gets placed in an internship with Bloomberg. Chuck and Blair are worked to the bone, and before they realize it, it's been two weeks since they've slept in the same bed. Blair decides to surprise Chuck at the Empire, only to sleep through his text, "Where are you? I'm at your mother's penthouse."

Chuck decides to surprise her with lunch the next day. Gossip Girl is so over them, as it appears that there is a truce, so it is safe to be seen sparingly in public with the other. The marketing department's receptionist makes eyes at him, while telling him in a sultry voice, "I'm so sorry Mr. Bass, you've just missed her. Is there anything I can do for you?"

With a shake of his head, Chuck walks away, and decides to surprise Lily with the carefully selected picnic basket he had made for Blair. Rufus is there when Chuck walks in, and he cavalierly offers them lunch, kissing Lily quickly on the cheek, before shaking hands with Rufus and walking out the door. Chuck thinks at this rate, he'll never see his girlfriend.

As he exits the Bass building, what he sees from the corner of his eye has him frozen—Jack Bass walking toward the building with an arm around a laughing Blair.

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Blair worries when she still hasn't seen Chuck, two days later. He doesn't answer her calls or returns her texts, and the bimbo receptionist, Debbie, confirmed that he had stopped by to see her, picnic basket in hand. When she calls Nate to find out where that Basshole is hiding, Nate spitefully says, "It's none of your business. I can't believe your nerve."

Before Blair can ask anything else, Nate has hung up the phone. When she calls Serena to ask if Nate started smoking again, she's surprised when Serena brusquely brushes her off with a, "I can't really talk right now, Blair. I hope you know what you've done."

She calls Eric to find out if Serena is in trouble again when he yells at her, "Was all of this a set up? Was this your way of getting back at him?"

Blair is about storm over to the Bass der Humphrey home when the Gossip Girl Blast reaches her, "Does our Queen B cry or moan 'uncle'?" The picture below the caption is of her and Jack, laughing as they exit a restaurant. The shot is followed by a succession of more incriminating photos—Jack helping her with her coat, Jack with his arm around her, and finally, one of Jack kissing her on the cheek. Each photo has Blair smiling brightly.

If Chuck thought the Jenny situation looked bad, she can only think that this looks worse, worse, worse. Blair spends the next six hours combing all of Manhattan looking for him. Finally she finds him on the rooftop at Victrola. Thankfully he is not the ledge, but sitting on the floor with an empty bottle of scotch, and tears streaming down his face.

She kneels down next to him and he hoarsely says, "I'll never be enough for you. Have you always preferred him to me?"

Chuck looks at her with eyes that are even sadder than when Bart died. She drums up the courage and asks him, "Do you trust me?"

When he doesn't answer, but instead looks away, she stands up. She's almost reached the door when he finally whispers, "Yes."

She runs back and flings herself in his arm, sobbing repeatedly, "I only love you."

Chuck cries as he holds her, thinking it shouldn't be this hard.

Blair doesn't explain herself, and Chuck doesn't ask any questions. They stay up all night in Suite 1812 staring at each other, and holding each other tight. They are desperately fighting off sleep, both convinced that if they close their eyes, the other will disappear.

When Chuck wakes in the morning, Blair is gone. She has left a note,

Chuck—

I'm so sorry.

But I have to see this through.

Please, trust me.

Blair

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Three days later another Gossip Girl Blast has Chuck wondering if Blair has played him for a fool. There are pictures of Jack and Blair at lunch with an elderly couple, the caption reads, "Queen B with her in-laws?" Chuck debates if he is crazy for clinging to the hope that she would never betray him. Serena and Nate and Eric descend on the Empire and swarm him like they are guarding a national treasure. Apparently, the three decide that Blair is not allowed to be anywhere near him.

Chuck convinces himself he needs to be sober because Blair will be back, she will have a reason for putting him through all this. Three hours later, the elevator doors open, and all four heads turn to see Blair walking in with the same couple. As Chuck's self-appointed bodyguards glare at her, Blair ignores them and only has eyes for him. She is all smiles as she breathlessly says, "Chuck, these are your grandparents."

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When they make love that evening, Chuck's heart is so full of love for Blair that he thinks he may burst. Never in his wildest dreams did he think that it would end like this. But as she sleeps contentedly, smile on her face and hand on his chest, he thinks that she is the only thing he will ever need.

Next morning over brunch, Blair explains how everything happened. The Bass internship in marketing had her cataloguing all biographical details about Bart and Chuck. She finds a bunch of discrepancies and starts doing her own research. Blair tells them, "When I realized that Bart had already lied about his mother, why not also lie to Chuck about his grandparents, too? After that, nothing could stop me from trying to find them."

Chuck is in awe that this amazing woman is his.

Serena and Nate admonish her for not sharing sooner, that they would have loved to help, when Blair tearfully says, "And what? Let Chuck get his hopes up? I had to do it alone."

Chuck rubs his thumb over her hand and squeezes it lightly. Nate, however, is unwilling to let this go and asks, "Why did you have to involve Jack? What was going on between you?"

"Jack's attracted to me," Blair says with a shudder. "I told him I was pregnant with Chuck's child, and that he was going to be an uncle. I told him if there was any chance he had a human bone in his body, then he'd tell me if Bart lied about their parents. I had to tell him, of course, that Chuck was refusing to acknowledge his own child and that I had no one else to turn to, but it worked."

"How do you know he's not lying to you about them?" Nate further presses.

"Because I had DNA tests done, that's why this all took so long," Blair turns to Chuck excitedly and says, "But I saved the best part for last."

Chuck smiles at Blair, "What could be better than having grandparents?"

"Finding out that Jack was adopted and isn't your blood uncle!" Blair confesses.

The announcement has every jaw at the table dropped, and it feels like hours have passed when Chuck finally pulls Blair into his arms and swings her around the room. Blair giggles until he finally pulls away, "I am nothing without you."

"Funny how that works, because I am everything with you," she says back.

As they are about to kiss, Nate stupidly asks, "Wait, so are you pregnant, Blair?"

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This time Blair is not the one objecting to being public. After all the turmoil and angst, Chuck wants to keep Blair to himself, still shutting everyone out. Nate and Serena join Blair's campaign, but Chuck is stubborn and keeps saying no. Blair kicks him hard, in the shin, twice—but still he won't budge.

When they're alone in bed together she asks fearfully, "Are you ashamed of me?"

"No!" Chuck barks.

"Then what is it, Bass? We've triumphed over Jenny and Jack, what else is possibly left?"

It's Chuck's turn to fearfully answer, "Because, Waldorf, I'm afraid I'll mess it up, mess us up, all over again."

"Why?"

"Because that's what I do."

Blair lays in silence for a moment before wrapping her arms around him and burying her face in his neck. She mumbles, "Whatever you think is best."

He kisses her on the head, "Thank you."

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In the middle of the night, Blair realizes that they have never been together for his birthday. With a flash of inspiration, she knows what she needs to do, to prove to him, that it's all in his head. In some very silly and childish way, Blair thinks that this is the root of their problem, at the root of Chuck's insecurity and issues, the lie that has always been his birthday. The only birthday of hers that she remembers not sharing with Chuck was her 18th, after they agreed to wait because stupid Dan Humphrey got in their way. Her birthday had fallen way too close to their agreement, and it was still excruciatingly painful to be around him and not be with him. But still, even then, he had sent her a text just after midnight.

Chuck's birthday always gets lost in the shuffle. First it was because he never told anyone when his birthday was. Later it was because they always seemed to find a way to fail spectacularly in May, this time she's certain they will shine.

She thinks of Serena's "Assassin"-themed party for Nate last year, and decides more than anything, she wants to plan a birthday party for her boyfriend. She starts getting carried away with ideas, themes and options, when she remembers that his birthday is actually not about her. So before it starts, it stops.

Chuck is shy but very excited at the thought of actually spending his birthday with Blair this year. In fact he's so damn cute about it! Like a little kid, he pesters Blair every day, asking her what their going to do. His adorable quotient has her reconsidering at least three times if she should just throw the party for him anyway.

Serena and Nate are equally excited, but very disappointed when they hear what she has planned.

"That's it? Are you serious?" Serena asks.

"Come on, Blair, this is like, his real first birthday. What happened to the evil planning genius we all know and love?" Nate adds.

Before Blair can even begin piecing together her defense, Serena jumps in, "You don't want to disappoint him, do you, B?"

"Yeah, he's totally going to expect more than this," agrees Nate.

"He doesn't expect me to jump out of a cake and throatily serenade him 'happy birthday', Marilyn's more Serena, don't you think?" Blair huffs.

"Oooh! B, you should totally do that!" Serena squeals. "I'm sure Chuck would love that!"

"You two do like to role play," Nate snickers. "I'm sure he wouldn't mind pretending to be a Kennedy for a day."

"NO!" Blair shouts. "We're going to dinner and a show and that's it!"

"Why are you being such a party pooper Blair?" Serena pushes. "You're the Queen of let's make a bigger deal out of everything than it needs to be."

"Yeah, Chuck's gonna think you don't care," Nate chimes in.

"No, Chuck's going to think I don't care if I ignore his wishes about keeping our relationship a secret," Blair informs them icily. "If I instead throw him the best surprise party ever, which was my original plan, it'll be like his bar opening all over again. Me thinking I know what's best and going behind his back. We're not supposed to focus our duplicity on each other."

Nate and Serena look at each other and then at Blair, who looks like she's about to burst into tears. They shrug, and Nate breaks the ice, "No need to be a buzz kill about it."

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Two wrapped packages are sitting next to their bed, and when it turns 12:01, she wishes him a happy birthday.

He quirks a brow, "Now or later?"

"I think, now."

Chuck fumbles with the wrapping paper, as he tries to remember when he actually had a gift to unwrap, instead of stock certificates, bottles of booze or a Black American Express Card. He is beaming when he sees P.J. and knows without a doubt that the second gift is his treasured Babe Ruth baseball. "How did you find them?"

"Carter Baizen, on occasion, can be useful."

He kisses her once, then twice, "This is already my favorite birthday."

A dozen hours later, they are having brunch with Lily, Eric and his grandparents.

Serena and Nate meet them for dinner at Per Se, because really, who does food better than Thomas Keller? And after their decadent nine-course meal, comes his birthday cake—the largest éclair he has ever seen with a candle in the middle. The three of them sing happy birthday terribly off key, but as he fakes boredom, he's sure his cheeks will be sore later from smiling too much.

At the last minute the four of them agree to skip on the box seats that Blair has reserved, and decide to go bowling. Nate and Serena can't stop howling when Blair and Chuck realize that they are expected to rent shoes and bowling balls, that, gasp, have been used by other people, Serena. But before Chuck gets into "I'm Chuck Bass"-mode, Serena flirts with the pimply faced teenage boy behind the counter, convincing him to open the Pro Shop and then proceeds to buy all four of them matching bowling balls, shoes and shirts.

They decide it is definitely the most ridiculous time they've shared, especially when Blair surprises everyone and scores a 276.

When they are finally alone, she vows, "This is only the first of every, because every other birthday you have, for the rest of your life, they're all mine, too."

"Thank you" is the last thing he says, as his mouth is occupied covering every inch of Blair's body for the next two hours.

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The rest of the semester passes in a flash. It amazes Chuck, just how easy it is. Well, not necessarily easy, but it's not so hard anymore. He and Blair still have their spats, but they are less extreme, less intense, but certainly no less in love. He is rethinking his stance on keeping their relationship a secret, when Blair bounces into the room.

"I have news!" Blair says before kissing him passionately on the mouth.

Chuck is caught of guard, when she immediately pulls back and starts rambling about the job offer from BI that he had nothing to do with. "They said they loved my dedication and hard work. They're sending me to London for the summer for the top internship in marketing!"

Blair continues to blab on, not noticing the sullen look that crosses Chuck's face. When he can't take her enthusiasm anymore, he interrupts, "So just like that, you're leaving for the summer? You didn't even ask me, Blair!"

"Ask you?" she says coolly. "I wasn't aware that I needed your permission to live my life, Mr.-I-don't-want-anyone-to-know-about-us."

"I didn't say you needed my permission. I was under the impression that when you were in a relationship, you discussed major decisions, not just make them," Chuck fumes.

"This is a great opportunity for me, Bass. Why can't you be happy for me?"

"I am happy for you, I just think it's something we should discuss, before you commit to it."

"I already said yes," Blair snaps.

"Why would you do that?" Chuck asks. "Without even running it by me? I thought we were spending summer, together."

"I am running it by you, right now," she retorts. "You know I want a career, Chuck. This is just a stepping stone to figuring out what kind."

"And you can't do that in New York? Stay here, I'll get you on the Whitney Committee. Figure out what you want to do by putting philanthropy on your resume."

"Waldorf women aren't socialites, Chuck," she parrots her mother.

"But Bass women can be," he fires back. More gently he says, "Bass women can be whatever and whoever they want."

"OH!" Blair says, her eyes tearing up.

Chuck gets confused when he sees worry chasing happiness across her face. "Don't you want to be a Bass?

"I...I…I…" Blair stutters.

"Either you want to be with me forever, or you don't," Chuck says, trying not to panic. "Isn't that what all of this is about? You had to know that this was going to come up eventually."

"Chuck," Blair whispers. "Don't you think it's too soon?"

"Too soon? What's too soon about this?" Chuck says bitterly. "I've known you since we were eleven, we've been dancing around each other for the past four years, I even have a ring that's better than the Vanderbilt one. I thought I was doing everything right."

"You are, Chuck," Blair assures him. "But you shouldn't be asking me this, just to make sure I'll stay."

For the first time in months, he thinks of Eva, and the words he used to try and beg her to stay, Don't go, everyone leaves. Chuck shakes his head, he can't believe he thought those words were ever about her, they were about Blair and Bart and his mother, his family. In a breath, barely above a whisper, he says, "Please leave, Blair."

Blair walks up to Chuck, kisses him on the cheek tenderly and says, "I'll come back later, Chuck."

His crestfallen face doesn't stop her from walking out the door.

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The next week he escorts her to the helipad that he abandoned her at three years ago. The last week has been hellish, as they exhaust the full range of their emotions. They've gone from bickering to sappy to angry to passionate to sentimental, multiple times, each day.

Even though he knows she's right when she says, "It's not about not choosing you, it's about seeing if I can do this, because I want to do this."

"So we're breaking up?"

"What?" Blair pauses. "Do you want to break up?"

Chuck shrugs.

"We've never been together, but apart," Blair says. "This will be good for us. But, Chuck, I won't expect you to wait. And I will miss you, every second we're apart."

She kisses him firmly, with all the love in her heart.

When have I not waited for you, he thinks, as he watches the helicopter fly her away from him.

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Surprisingly, the three months fly by.

The first month was pure torture. They text each other all day, and Chuck talks Blair to sleep, every night. But as the days go by, they talk to each other less and less, both absorbed in their own lives. Chuck is learning more and more about BI, and the legacy that will soon be his. Blair is learning that she's not only talented, but that she has a natural flair for marketing. They are forging their place in the world, separately, but together.

Chuck finally understands what Blair means when a stunning redhead propositions him. He very much appreciates and is flattered by her attentions. But he has absolutely no desire to take it further than flirting, because even though she is almost 3,000 miles away, he already has everything he needs. That night, he seriously considers calling for the Bass jet and going to see her.

Blair finally understands what Chuck means when she has an amazing day at work, followed by the worst day ever. Both times she comes home, and wants to share everything with Chuck. She almost calls him to tell him that he was right, that she should've asked for his opinion and more than anything, she wants to come home.

They both decide, independently, that they will wait it out, because while they are strongest when together, they have to learn how to be strong apart.

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Blair fails to inform Chuck that she is coming home a day early. She is so excited to see him, that the minute she is finished with her last commitment to BI, she is in a taxi on her way to Heathrow. She can hardly sleep on the plane ride home, and even though she should know better by now, she wants to surprise him.

Her flight lands at midnight, and it's almost 2am when she is in the elevator at the Empire. The suite is eerily silent as she kicks off her heels and sneaks into Chuck's room. The sight that greets her is too wonderful for words. Chuck has fallen asleep in his suit, clutching a picture of them on his birthday. Home has never felt so good.

She takes off her jacket, and crawls onto his bed, and starts raining butterfly kisses across his face.

The scent of vanilla invades his nostrils, and he feels the light kisses on his face. His dream seems too real, and before he can stop himself, he reaches for her. He is startled awake when he makes contact with a body, and his eyes fly open to see the most luminous brown eyes in the world. They greedily stare at each other for a full minute, and before she can say "hey", he has her on her back and they are whole again, once more.

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Chuck reaches for Blair the exact moment he wakes. Grumpily, he realizes that she has gotten up and is not where he wants her—next to him and in bed. As he debates if he should get up and find her, she walks into the room, carrying a tray of coffee. Her smile is inviting and she sings, "Good morning."

Chuck returns the smile, "It is now."

As she sets the tray down, he cannot help but notice that Blair's hand is now sporting the 8 carat diamond that he bought for her last year. Chuck's not sure what to say or what to do. His heart skips, because the ring has never looked more perfect than it does at this very moment. "I see you picked up a new accessory?"

"Isn't it lovely?" she preens and she extends her left hand out, and wiggles her fingers in his face.

"Whoever picked it out has exquisite taste," he murmurs as he kisses her palm.

"He must, he gets to marry me." Her words have his heart thundering. His eyes search hers, asking in silence, if she's sure. She curls onto his lap and kisses him senseless, before whispering, "I want everyone to know that you're mine and I'm yours. I know you never asked, but now I'm telling you. Chuck Bass, I want to marry you."

He kisses her softly and whispers back, "I was always yours."

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fin.


Dedicated to Noirreigne who literally told me I had to write this. Thank you for beta-ing.