A/N: Okay, I hope I don't have to dodge any tomatoes, but I thought I should suck it up and upload the final chapter of this story, rather than continue to keep you fine people waiting another moment longer. I REALLY am sorry that it took so long. When I first started this story, I had no idea how much real life would interfere with my updating. But I finally got the time to write this all out and finish the story! I hope the at least some of my readers are still with me (and I was really hoping to make it to 500 reviews by the end of this story, but if I don't it's no tragedy). And I apologize if you have to go back and refresh your memory on the previous chapters. In any case, it's been a fun ride and I hope you enjoy the last chapter. I've considered toying with a sequel in this universe. If interested, you can press the little review button at the end and let me know! ;) Special thanks to all of my reviewers, especially the ones who came back time and time again. You were a wonderful help and gave me a reason to keep going. And special, special thanks to nondescriptf, who was a constant source of support and a wonderful writer to boot! Seriously, thank you all for the wonderful experience and really hope you like the end! Sorry about my long-windedness…I'm done rambling now.
Disclaimer: Don't own.
He never really was one to watch the world pass by behind tinted windows. But if he didn't let his mind drift beyond the inside of this limo, it would go to places that would result in a hot sweat and a desperate need for a cold shower. His palms were a little sweaty on the plane, but he had quickly willed them to stop by sheer mind-over-matter exercises. Blair Waldorf may be the most controlling person on the face of the earth, but people often short-changed Chuck on his self-control. He did in fact, possess self-control. He just rarely felt like exerting energy on such things when he didn't want to.
But, he thought as he smiled mockingly to his own reflection, Blair seemed to have changed that. Blair had changed a lot of things.
If there was one thing Blair Waldorf hated, it was perspiration of anything but a sexual kind, and not really even then. When Nate dated Blair, he was always the first one in the showers after his lacrosse games for that sole reason. Blair wouldn't have touched him with a ten-foot pole.
Of course, that wasn't an issue for Nate anymore. Because Blair was not his…like Chuck told her—she didn't belong with Nate. Never have, never will.
Yes, he remembered everything. He remembered his life with Blair… and the one he could have lived without her. He remembered those days within a life that he should have scoffed at, and did scoff at…until he took that chance and just lived it. The complacent domesticity that he attributed to people like Nate and Blair suddenly didn't seem so wrong—or so complacent. And the fact that it didn't all seem so fucking terrible by the end of it had just amazed him. How did the one life that he refused to choose for himself suddenly become the one that he imagined?
No matter what he did now, he had become open to the real possibility of Blair. The story had already opened his eyes on another plane of existence, blindsiding him. That was apparent from what that wacko witch-blond showed him—the memories (visions?) that stormed through his head with agonizing clarity when she told him he had to leave. He asked to see…to see if it could go wrong and why and how.
Chuck Bass was a romantic. Blair knew. But even taking that romanticism out of the equation, he had to deal in logic: he would never escape loving Blair. If he had learned anything from this, that was the one undeniable truth. He may refuse to believe it, refuse to tell her, hate himself for it, hate her for it. But that wouldn't change a fucking thing.
And now he understood that it was a done deal from the moment she said, "Guard my drink," and dropped her dress on his stage. And he saw that Blair wasn't just beautiful, but unapologetically sexy. Not just an ice queen, but a fiery femme fatale. Not just broken, but strong enough to land on her feet, even when she was wounded.
Not just his best friend's girl… but the love of his life.
Victrola had changed everything…or maybe it was just the culmination of things that made them…Chuck and Blair…unavoidable. Either way, Chuck Bass got what he wanted, and he didn't like to lose.
So he was en route to Tuscany.
He hadn't answered any of her text messages. He knew it was probably an asshole-move because it would lead her to think that he wasn't going to show. But then, he knew what he was doing. He wanted her to trust him, even when it was the absolute last thing on earth she would instinctively consider. He wanted her to see him walk through that door when she was forcing herself not to expect it or even hope for it.
He just hoped it would pay off.
He hadn't meant for her name to escape so unsteadily from his lips. He had wanted to wrap himself in the armor of nonchalance and smoothness that he was so famous for. Everything had gone so perfectly—there was no announcement of his arrival (due to generous compensation to hotel employees from the Bass heir) and no sign of her when he swiped his card key and let himself inside the suite. While the no-account bellboy dropped his bags in his room, he found her out on the balcony, staring out at the incomparable view. She was in something sleek and wine-colored that set his nerve-endings on fire and her tension was only visible in the muscles of her arms, resting on the railing, phone dropped on a glass side-table. And he wondered what she was thinking… if she had any faith in him at all.
Part of him hoped that she didn't and that she had protected her heart. At least at this moment.
She didn't turn right away when he said her name, but he saw her body subtly relax. Her arms sat more lightly and her weight shifted gently to one side, leaving him to swallow at the sight of her slim curves.
"Bass." Her tone was all velvet and light, revealing none of the possible anger she may have felt for him. It was her dangerous voice. "Phone not operating properly?"
All at once, Chuck felt his game come back to him. He could do this, he knew. He already had her. He just had to play for keeps.
"As a matter of fact…" he withdrew said-device from his pocket and dropped it on the table next to hers as he went to join her at the railing. "It's working just fine, Waldorf. And so am I."
She finally looked at him, her dark eyes sweeping over his face as if it would decode his cryptic words. But she said nothing and nothing and in her silence he felt the world shift and he realized how much younger this Blair looked—the perfect smoothness of her skin and the wide, somehow naïve eyes. She reminded him of her essential innocence, vulnerability, and of a child that didn't exist in this world. At least not yet.
He lifted his hand, brushing the back of it against her cheek and down her jaw, his fingers stroking her chin.
The intimate affection in the gesture seemed to startle her and she drew back infinitesimally. Chuck Bass may have been a perfect gentleman all week, but he didn't do sweet and this was. He was touching her sweetly and looking at her sweetly and her guard naturally flared up as she regarded him warily, slowly grasping his wrist in her petite hand.
"What are you doing…"
He stepped closer and she didn't back away this time, watching him unflinchingly. He could tell that she felt the shift—something had changed; he knew it and she felt it.
He cut across her inquiring mind. "Blair, what do you think of the name 'Liliana'?"
Her mouth closed automatically and he saw something flicker in her eyes. And it wasn't confusion. But he held her gaze, knowing she would meet the challenge every time.
"Well?" he persisted and she blinked once before answering.
"I hate it."
He laughed softly and lifted her wrist to press his lips to her pulse, running his heated breath slowly down her wrist, making his way up her arm in a way the drew her in and made her knees turn to Jell-O… whatever that was.
"Chuck…" It was almost a moan as his hot breath tickled her ear temptingly. And he knew that she would feel the curve of his smirk against its soft shell.
"Liar," he whispered. Her helpless hands came up to grip his head, pulling him closer even as he sensed her reluctance. The rational side of her didn't want this. She was confused…she had questions. There was something different about him and yet, the same, and she wanted to know why. But he was bringing them back to the beginning—back to where they started: heat and sex and blessed release. And he loved her even back then and she had to know it…she had to sense it.
"Ugh…" she groaned, but there was very little true scorn in her voice. "I am mad…you, Basshole." He pressed against her so she had to brace her hand back behind her to avoid stumbling backwards. The nymphomaniac that Chuck always brought out in her before was coming to the surface. She bit his lip a little harder than necessary as she kissed him. "You could have called."
He pulled back a little, touching his forehead to hers and she was too numb or too passion-drunk to escape him. "Forgive me."
In true Bass fashion, the words came out more as a demand than a plea. Blair finally pulled away from him and cocked an eyebrow. The Queen Bee Waldorf-ness of her look gave him a little thrill. "Why should I?" she asked imperiously.
"Because Waldorf…I said so. And if you don't, we'll never get married and crush the whole Upper East Side under our heels and have little Waldorf-Bass children that we will raise to succeed our reign in Manhattan when the time comes for us to sit back and enjoy retirement while our spawn implements our societal take-downs."
He swore that the dumbfounded look that came over Blair's face in response to his outrageously uncharacteristic soliloquy was worth the price of admission. He was probably the first and only person to ever see Blair look quite so dazed. And then her expression morphed into a horrified grimace. She whispered something that sounded an awful lot like 'Waldorf-Bass children' and then looked up at him, shaking her head slowly.
"Oh, Chuck…" she murmured with great sympathy, stroking his face. "It really broke you, didn't it? You had to take a commercial flight and just lost your mind." Chuck smirked, relieved to hear the jest in her tone, happier still that she didn't reject him outright by mocking him. "It'll be alright, I promise. We'll get you help at the Ostroff Center and I swear I won't tell anyone about it. Not even at any future college mixers."
He laughed softly, his hand trailing its way down to her waist. He began to think that maybe it was true. Maybe she could actually love him in this life. "Merciful as always, Waldorf. But you have to admit, you looked really concerned there for a minute."
She rolled her eyes at him. "Yes Chuck, you're hysterical…really. Are you certain no one drugged you in first class?"
"I don't know… are you offering to play nurse?"
She smiled at the familiarity of his innuendo, before pushing him back into the suite. "Not now, Bass. You owe me dinner for making me wait so long for your arrival."
And as her footsteps faded passed him, farther into the luxurious rooms, Chuck remember Older Blair telling him that she didn't think he would come. The tentative confession echoed from that world to this one. Her phone still sat on the balcony.
He turned to find her standing there impatiently, waiting for him to take her to dinner, to show her a good time in Tuscany. She was the same old Blair, but she was happy and wholly without a façade to crack. She had let her guard down for a little while and it was beautiful.
"You should have known, Blair." For some reason, she blushed under his gaze. "You should have known…a man would have to be insane to leave you stranded."
She hadn't been expecting that, but she didn't brush off his comment either. "Or maybe just really, really childish…or afraid," she said gently. Older Blair had been right. But in another way, Chuck was all too happy to prove them both wrong. Standing before her in this very room was good enough to do that.
"Then it's a good thing that I'm here, isn't it Waldorf?"
Her answering smile was more than enough for him.
Years later, while he was in the throes of an orgasm, he would confess the experience into her ear, his words inarticulate and unintelligible to her. He had been afraid to ever tell anyone, especially Blair, about his little journey before Tuscany. He didn't want her to think that he had followed through with their vacation only because of what he had seen. And in the back of his mind, he was afraid that maybe she would have been right.
That night, he swore to himself that if she asked him what he murmured to her, he would tell her.
But she never did.
He never spoke of it—not when they got married, not when their daughter was born (though there was a little glint in her eye when she proposed Liliana as their little girl's name). And try as he might, he wasn't able to stop Serena from disappearing, and felt guilty for being too absorbed in his own life to remember to try and save her and Nate the grief of losing their son. Chuck Bass was selfish—and even as his best friend's plight gnawed at him, he had rarely made any apology for that.
And one day, he woke up and Blair was curled in his arms, watching him sleep with her dark, syrupy eyes and a peculiar expression on her face. "Enjoying the view, Waldorf?"
He was able to decipher what it was when her eyes lit with recognition and she stroked her fingers across his lips and she said, "You're back."
She didn't need to say anything more about it, and she never did.