Title: you say i only hear what i want to

Characters: Dan/Vanessa; Dan/Serena with mentions of Nate/Serena; Dan/Georgina; and Milo.

Word Count/ Rating: 1,256/pg

One Line Excerpt: He realizes, as her heels carry her across the hardwood, that he's never completely satisfied.

Notes: written for challege 007 at burnthe_city


He cannot possibly love them both.

He thinks it impossible and insane and the most idiotic thought to ever cross his mind.

I love both of them.

His phone vibrates with a text from Serena an ocean away and Vanessa sings Here Comes The Sun to Milo loudly and off key in the next room over.

Then again, maybe it's the most honest he's been with himself in a very long time.

…...

Vanessa moves in and he wakes up to her standing in the kitchen making waffles.

He sleeps four hours a night, hasn't changed his shirt in three days, and his skin smells like formula and sweat.

They move in sweet circles around each other.

(like a fancy dance, Serena once taught him)

The days blend together with the sound of Milo's cries and piles of diapers and gallons of black coffee.

I love you. Vanessa whispers into his hair when she thinks he's fallen asleep, her lips on his temple.

When he closes his eyes to sleep his life spools behind his eye lids.

No matter how hard he tries that night Georgina appeared in his doorway revealing a huge pregnant belly is one of the last thing he sees.

He remembers a closed email and an open tab to an airline website.

Milo cries out in the dark.

And like every other night, he untangles knotted limbs, places a kiss on Vanessa's cheek, and tends to his son.

…...

Serena comes back.

Blonde hair and long legs and an we need to talk face.

She smells like daises and cigarettes and airplane.

Hey Dan.

He doesn't get a word in, first she's in the doorway, then she's in the loft, walking around taking it in.

I've missed you,

His breath sticks in his throat and he silently thanks god that Vanessa is out of town for the day visiting her parents in Vermont.

Serena I,

He stutters until the baby interrupts the silence with his cries.

Is that a baby? Her voice rises, her purse dropped off her shoulder onto the hardwood, her heels clicking toward his room.

Serena!

She doesn't turn around, walks straight into his bedroom, to find the baby lying in his bassinet.

This is Milo, Dan says, scooping the baby up and holding him close to his chest.

My son.

…..

They sit on the fire escape, sharing a cigarette and a deep ceramic mug of coffee.

I can't believe you're a dad.

He smiles sheepishly, flicks the ashes over the edge of the metal bars, and sighs.

Me either.

Serena closes her eyes, breathes, let's her lungs expand.

I picked you, you know. I...I came back for you.

He touches her hair, tucks it behind her ear. He never thought this would be it. A fire escape confession that could never be. She touches his hand, takes the cigarette from between his fingers and brings it to her mouth.

I've always loved you, Serena.

She drops the cigarette over the edge, watches it fall to the ground.

There eyes meet, face to face, and she bites down on her lip.

I could try...I could be...

He shakes his head, their lips meet, his hands tangled up in her hair.

She tastes like he remembers, like strawberries, minty gum, and a tad bit of whiskey.

You shouldn't have to, Serena.

She puts her hand on his chest, feels his heart under her palm.

He puts his forehead to hers and closes his eyes.

The sun goes down, Milo cries for a bottle, the moment ends.

They always end.

…..

He doesn't tell Vanessa about Serena. She comes home with Chinese take-out and vodka and a warm smile.

How could he?

She hugs him, dark curls draping his shoulder, I missed you, and a kiss to his stubby cheek.

Then she walks over to the baby, picks him up out of his bouncy seat and places kisses all over his face.

And I missed you too! She spins him around the loft in her arms. He smiles. Dan's never gotten him to smile.

He can almost see it. Vanessa, Milo, him. Brooklyn, the loft.

It's almost enough.

Almost perfect.

Just not quite.

He realizes, as her heels carry her across the hardwood, that he's never completely satisfied.

…...

Serena visits when Vanessa is in class. She brings teddy bears and other toys and venti cups of coffee or her new required reading for Dan to peruse.

Hows my favorite boy? She says as she enters the loft.

Oh, you know i'm great.

Daniel! She laughs, takes Milo off his lap. I was talking about Milo!

My feelings!

She places a kiss on the corner of his lip and sighs, shakes her head.

You know I love you too.

She carries Milo away, takes him into Jenny's old room, now the nursery, for a diaper change.

Afterward, she comes backs into the kitchen, sits at the table, a mug of coffee already for her (three sugars, two creams; almost too sweet to bare).

His eyes are so blue. Serena bounces him on her knee, he smiles, a drooly gummy smile. Looks like there's some Georgina in him after all.

Dan rolls his eyes. Let's hope that's all he gets from her.

Serena laughs, a four year old laugh, and his heart melts just a tad.

She sips her coffee slowly and he tickles Milo's belly.

So, tell me about Columbia.

Her eyes light up and his heart beats a few extra times.

She still has no idea of her affect on him.

…...

Vanessa finds out about Serena's visits from a Gossip Girl blast.

Why would you hide this from me Dan?

She's crying hard, tears dripping down her face onto the floor.

I'm sorry just isn't enough.

Do you love me?

The words bounce of the monkey painted walls of Milo's nursery. Empty, empty, empty room. He actually aches for his son to be here instead of with his father and Lily. Aches for something else to concentrate on besides this conversation.

Of course I do.

Then why would you lie? He can see it in her eyes. The question and the anger and the fact that she's always loved him. Since they were little kids and she told him she could swing the highest that one day at the playground. Then she jumped off, flew in the sky, for only a moment. He'd never admired anyone more in his life.

I didn't lie.

But you didn't tell me! That's lying, Dan.

He takes her face and holds it in his hands.

I love you, Vanessa.

He watches a tear roll down her cheek before he kisses her.

Maybe, she says as the pull apart. Maybe that's not enough.

What can I do to make you stay? He whispers, watches her eyes.

Tell me you don't love her.

He's silent for a few seconds, but it feels more like forever.

I've gotta go.

She walks out of the room and he does not follow her.

…...

He's on the fire escape alone when his phone vibrates.

He thinks it Vanessa or maybe Serena. But instead it's Gossip girl.

Spotted: N and S looking mighty cozy at Hamilton House.

He shakes his head, knowing all along that this is how it was always going to be.

Maybe he could love them both, since she had always loved him and Nate.

Dan inhales his last puff of cigarette and then throws it over the metal structure, still burning.

-fin-