Primum Movens (meaning 'first movement' or 'first cause' in Latin) was written for the fic based hurricane that is SaturnineSunshine. Not only was she a big part of my impetus to begin writing vignettes (so you can basically blame her for the entirety of These Strings That Bind etc), but she is a fabulous author who quite genuinely deserves to be carried around on a litter and fed grapes by the Sexwick. Merry Christmas, Carolyn!
And to you all, enjoy.
His earliest memory is of the lady in red – satin bows on her shoulders like epaulettes of honour, a matching headband peeping out from those glossy brown curls. He thought she looked like a doll, the kind you kept in a box and no one was allowed to play with. Her hand was tugged on by other, lesser beings, golden and flashy and blinding, but still she shook her head and bit her lip. Was she scared? She looked like a red rose in a field of daisies, but could she still be scared? Like him, scared? He caught her eye, held the look as she shifted uncomfortably and pulled harder with her small, white teeth, flushing as scarlet as her bows.
She stuck out her tongue.
She may not have come running to him, but at least she'd moved.
He liked her bows and in the quiet, adult part of his mind – which was to expand too quickly, at the detriment of all others – he hatched a plan. He watched her lithe figure flash between the trees as she hid and longed to be caught, and tried to spell her name when he spelled his own.
The next day, Chuck Bass wore a bowtie to school for the first time.
He was ten when someone told him that his mother had played the piano. He sat in front of the grand instrument for hours, banging on it with earnest, unpractised fingers. All light in the room was focused on the doorway, and the dust motes swirled. Who would help the boy more prone to passionate anger than deference and respect? He boiled quietly, seething, the melodies becoming more and more broken as the pads of his fingers thundered down, red and hot against the icy white.
"Oh, don't do that!"
A jangling stop/start as she hurried into the room, wincing with supreme delicacy. She barely took up a sliver of the piano school, lither than ever, pale in the doorframe light which glittered across her eyelashes.
Fingers curled over his, softening the claw.
"It's not a ball, Chuck, you don't have to slam it."
The circumference of his wrist, her fingers slender and not even meeting around it.
"Looser. You need to be strong, but not tense."
Her shoulder warm against his, the scent of her hair painting his world scarlet.
"Now play the chord."
He played his first true note with her hand resting lightly atop his, and when he turned their cheeks brushed and she stood up and fled. It took another ten years for him to perfect the instrument, but when he did nobody was sure who backed whom up against what and charged his body with electricity. In the moments between – when she was silent, supine, eyes glazed and body crackling – he played the same chord, over and over, and it kept pace with the ragged stitches of her breathing. The lady in red lay in shreds of cerise; an alarm blaring in his head saying I am alive.
Her just deserts are his concerto, life breathed back into his fingers.
But as for rooftops...rooftops have always been his first, primary, before the rooftop at her birthday and the rooftop in Brooklyn and the rooftop at Victrola and rooftop, rooftop, rooftop. There's something about being precarious, swimming with the sharks that arc in a wide black ocean with lights like gilt, false in the water. He has walked between the devil and the deep blue sea since the day he was born, when kismet chose to take the mother in lieu of the son (and then the mother chose the brother in lieu of him, and he chose power over everything, and everything snapped back with a palm like tear-lashed lightning, and the world was forever skewed). He used to like pitching bottles over the edge and letting them smash, dead diamonds and decaying emeralds for the proletariat and their sins. He had pulled her up here, once upon a time, to admire the shattered glass in the sky (because no casual-maybe-somethings look at the stars) and felt her dissolve into sugar, melt into caramel and spread slickly through his bloodstream.
'Why? It's not like you ever do anything athletic.'
'Well, that's not entirely true now, is it?'
'Fine, nothing that requires removing your scarf.'
'That was one time, it was chilly.'
But it was almost too hot in the hellfire of her heart.
It's possible to promise her things. He's done it before, and it seems to be the sort of thing that lovers do. All his promises, however, sound half-assed, half-baked: I will run away but I'll always come back, I can't be strong for you because I need you to make me strong, I wasn't meant to be all you need but at least I'll try; he'll try. He'll try like he did with that necklace, those peonies, the velvet-covered box (no heart beating there) in his bottom drawer. He'll try like he tried playing the third chord and ended up hitting the fifth. He'll try for her.
So for a long time, he keeps on trying. Perseverance is rewarded with a quickly bitten smile, self-denial with the brief, silent pleasure of her arm at a party or gala. What a white knight he can't manage to be, with such dark thoughts about the slope of her mouth; they're still going through courtship backwards, beginning at the end, and the middle is the most rutted of all. Red, red, the world is red – red for her blushes when he says something he shouldn't, red for her ruby ring, a heart and another lie. He sends her the subtlest of reminders for Christmas: red ruffles for the gown she dragged him from the water in, her cold mouth on his, water drawn from his lungs. She reciprocates with a daringly cut suit in deepest, richest plum – where the colour would seem black if it weren't Chuck Bass wearing it – and her card, elegantly monogrammed with one word crowding the other side: Paris.
Paris is their battleground.
He boards the plane.
He finds her waiting at the Gare du Nord, leaning on the railing with her eyes seeing nothing, as casual as if she didn't expect him to come at all.
"You like edges," she announces. "You like the risk." She turns toward him, and the dark irises of her eyes are almost consuming when it seems as if he's grown taller. "My life is safer without you in it."
He runs his thumb along her jaw, follows a blue-burning blood red vein to completion in her temple as she breathes slowly, a mere tremor of air. "So?"
"Why? Why this? Why us?"
"You like staircases," he replies. "To lead up to edges and risks."
"I don't like falling," she says.
"No," he agrees. "But you like to jump."
Their kiss is a cliché and there are far too many pairs of lovers in Paris, but it's enough.