The Gossip Girl blast about Serena's late night visit to the loft was released early the following morning. The picture accompanying the leak showed a happy and bubbly Serena standing beside Dan as he unlocked the door to let them in. The blast reported that Serena had been seen entering the former Lonely Boy's place after midnight but it was not known when she had left.
Predictably, after leaving the loft in tears that she had only managed to conceal from Dan by a precipitous departure, Serena had gone straight to the other boy she could always count on to cheer her up when she was feeling down. Despite the late (or early) hour, Nate welcomed her into the suite he shared with Chuck at the Empire without hesitation.
"I just came from seeing Dan," Serena managed, before bursting into tears again.
Although somewhat irked that Serena just expected him to go right ahead and comfort her after she had been rejected by the guy she had in turn rejected him in favour of, Nate pushed his feelings of disgruntlement aside and patted her back soothingly.
"How did this happen, Nate? When I left Blair and Dan were perfectly happy avoiding each other as much as possible. Now he's writing about her – beautiful, romantic prose. More lovely than anything he ever wrote about me," Serena glanced sadly up at Nate before continuing to sob brokenly.
"I could see it in his eyes, when he was telling me it was over between us, that it wasn't even a difficult decision for him. When he said it was Blair he wanted, that he was willing to wait for her to feel the same way about him, there was this certainty about him, this finality, and I knew, I just knew, he'd never felt that way about me."
"I'm sorry," Nate comforted, continuing to pat her back. "Despite everything that's happened, I'd never want you to be hurt like this."
"Nate, I have to know. You have to tell me. Does she feel the same way about him? I know you've seen them both together since you've come back. And you've known Blair long enough to know. Is it the same for her too?"
Serena asked this with a sense of urgency. Perhaps, after all, this was merely a temporary glitch in her otherwise charmed destiny. Maybe Blair didn't feel anything for Dan, and in a little while he would realise how silly he'd been, and then of course he would want Serena back.
Nate hesitated before replying, wondering if there was a way to tell the truth but spare her feelings. Struggling for the words to explain the strange change he had seen in their two friends. Dan and Blair seemed such an unlikely couple, until you saw them together, then they suddenly made perfect sense.
He sighed. "Yes, I think she feels the same way. But I don't know if she's aware of it the way Dan is. But I've never seen her so comfortable, so carefree, with anyone. When he's around...she lights up."
Serena bit her lip and stared down at her lap.
"You're not going to," Nate hesitated, trying to think of a tactful way to voice his concerns, "I don't know, do something to try to win him back, are you?"
Serena was silent for a moment. "I don't know that I could."
The indecisive way that she said it worried Nate. He felt strangely protective of Dan and Blair's blossoming romance, perhaps because he had been the first one to see it coming.
"Seriously, Serena, don't mess with them. Blair's your best friend. Dan makes her happy. If you do anything to come between them it will blow up in your face. He'll be furious, she'll resent you, and you will lose two of the most important people in your life."
"I know Nate, I know!" Serena glared angrily at him. "He chose Blair. And whether I like it or not, I'll just have to accept that. I just don't know how, or when, I'll ever be able to be around either of them again."
The anger seeped from her voice and she continued brokenly. "He wanted her more than he wanted me. And it hurts so much to know it," she sobbed.
Nate blew out a frustrated sigh, but put his arm around her. "This only hurts so much, because you've always been the one to do the leaving. You've never really been left before."
Nate continued, reflecting ruefully, "There's a strange irony about it really. All our lives, people have chosen you over Blair. Eleanor, Yale, me, the male population in general. Then when you finally make a choice, the guy you choose is the one who turns around and chooses Blair. Before he's even sure she'll choose him back."
Serena hiccupped as her sobbing slowed. "Maybe it's karma. Maybe I deserve this, for waiting so long to choose Dan," Serena paused, her eyes suddenly widening.
"Nate, I'm so sorry. I'm moping over someone doing the exact same thing to me that I did to you. I can't believe you didn't slam the door in my face. I shouldn't have come here, it was completely insensitive," Serena struggled to rise.
Nate pulled her back down and laughed. "Yes it was. But I'm glad you're here."
They looked into each other's eyes for a moment, and Serena thought maybe their story together wasn't quite finished yet.
When Blair read the Gossip Girl blast about Serena's return and late night visit to Dan she felt a familiar queasiness rise in her stomach, but she resisted the urge.
The thought of Dan blissfully holding Serena in his arms, joyful now that his golden girl had returned to him, and the odd waiting period he had spent in the city was over, made Blair sick. Maybe because he had spent that time with Blair, and for her it hadn't really felt like a waiting period. More like the beginning of something.
The thought that Dan would be relieved now it was over, and that he would doubtlessly begin spending all his time with Serena and blithely discontinue all the little rituals and routines they had built up over the past weeks, made Blair unreasonably angry.
She tried to convince herself that the jealousy she felt over Serena's return was prompted just by the loss of a new-found friend. It had been convenient having Dan around, and it would be decidedly inconvenient to have him go back to being completely preoccupied by his on-again, off-again relationship with her best friend.
There could be no other explanation for the sense of loss she was feeling. Dan Humphrey was from Brooklyn. He was socially awkward, and he wrote poetry, and he owned a Cabbage Patch kid for crying out loud! So clearly Blair could never really feel anything for him apart from low-level toleration.
Except that somehow, over the past few weeks, all those factors had somehow stopped being so distasteful to Blair. In fact, they had become just a little bit intriguing. Endearing. Attractive even.
And he had proved surprisingly sweet and funny. And touchingly caring, when he had found out about the whole situation with Chuck.
Blair tried to battle against the realisation, but it was ultimately a lost cause. She was attracted to Dan Humphrey. More than that, she was in serious danger of falling for him.
And the thought of him and Serena together was just wrong.
She had always thought their relationship was wrong, of course. But this was different. Before she had always felt that the relationship was off-kilter because Serena ought to be with a different type of guy. Now she knew Dan needed to be with a different type of girl.
Blair glared down at her phone and the photo accompanying the Gossip Girl blast.
She couldn't see Dan's face in it, but she could imagine the expression of pure happiness.
Blair let out an angry humpf, and with sudden decisiveness grabbed her handbag to head out for the day.
She had spent too long watching Nate moon over Serena, always feeling second-best, to wish to repeat the experience. Her relationship with Chuck had also left her feeling that way, as if she was of secondary importance. Not to Serena this time, but to Chuck himself.
Well, no more. She wasn't going to sit at home, waiting to see if Dan was able to drag himself away from Serena's arms long enough to keep their appointment for today's driving lesson.
She was going to prove to him, to everyone else and most of all to herself, that she didn't need any of them. She could have a good time all on her own. And if Dan Humphrey preferred blondes to brunettes well, he wasn't the only gentleman in Manhattan.
Blair spent the next several hours shopping. She ignored several calls from Dan, and one from Serena. That night was the Met's New Year's Eve ball, and she wanted to get something really special to wear.
Meanwhile, Dan was freaking out because Blair hadn't been home when he went to pick her up for their driving lesson. On the ride over he had been screwing up his courage to talk to her. He thought maybe he could test the waters about how she would react to an admission of his feelings by telling her that he had ended things with Serena.
Then he had arrived to find her gone and not answering her cell.
He had started to panic. Blair had seemed better by the time he left yesterday, but what if the whole Chuck mess had been playing on her mind? His anxiety was increased when he found out from the doorman that Blair had left in her BMW, which she wasn't meant to be driving without supervision.
Blair always liked to drive fast. Dan prayed that the previous day's GG blast about Chuck hadn't left her in a reckless mood.
At that moment, Chuck Bass was sitting in a limo, with his new girlfriend ensconced at his side. He had been exceedingly attracted to her from their first meeting in Auckland, where she had initially rejected his advances. This refusal had naturally only increased his determination to have her. During his pursuit of Raina he had found her to be not only beautiful but frighteningly intelligent and more than his match conversationally.
But if he was honest, one of the main reasons he had pursued the relationship, and insisted on bringing her back to Manhattan, was to needle Blair. It was only fair, given the way she was obviously using Dan Humphrey to make him jealous.
He had also brought his uncle back with him, though Jack was riding in a separate car. Jack was essential if he was to succeed in his plan against Lily, but Chuck didn't want to spend any more time in his company than was absolutely necessary.
As Chuck was staring out the window reflecting on the details on his plot to take down his previously beloved stepmother, a red convertible shot out from behind the town car and sped past to overtake it.
Just for a second he glimpsed a blur of dark brunette tendrils, creamy complexion and red lips the same shade of the car, then the convertible shot past.
He shook his head dazedly. "It couldn't be," he muttered to himself. Blair couldn't drive.
Yet he couldn't shake the distinct impression he had had that Blair had been the girl at the wheel, effortlessly chic as she masterfully moved the machine through New York traffic. He found it difficult to concentrate on Raina's mocking banter for the rest of the drive home.
As soon as he arrived at the Empire and had despatched Raina to refresh herself after the 27 hour flight, Chuck sought out Nate.
"Satisfy my curiosity, Archibald. This may sound strange but...our ex-girlfriend hasn't recently learnt how to drive, has she?" Chuck asked Nate after exchanging the usual greetings.
"Yeah, Dan's been teaching her," Nate responded affably, while munching an apple. "He says she's surprisingly good at it. Oh man, you should see her car though. It's a..."
"Yeah. I'm dying to test it out but Blair won't let me. Says she's not sure I could handle the intensity," Nate said sulkily.
"Archibald, I don't give a damn that Blair won't let you play with her new toy. I want to know why Dan Humphrey is teaching her to drive! I explicitly told you to keep him away from her," Chuck expostulated.
"Well, yeah," Nate agreed sheepishly. "But you kind of hung up before hearing whether I agreed. Which I didn't. Dan and Blair are my friends too, you know."
Chuck's brow contracted angrily. "And do you really think it's in Blair's long-term interest for this...interlude...with Humphrey to continue? What about when Serena comes home?"
"She got home last night. Dan ended things with her. Not that I'm a hundred percent sure they had ever really started up again."
Chuck became dangerously still. "Hum-drum Humphrey broke it off with his dream girl for good?"
"Yeah," Nate replied, wary of Chuck's evidently suppressed rage.
"Why would he do that?" Chuck queried softly.
Nate gave no response besides a pained grimace.
"According to Serena, yes." Nate hesitated before continuing. "You let her go, man. You have to accept the consequences of that. Like you said, if it's meant to be, you'll find your way back to each other. Don't make her hate you."
Chuck looked at Nate speculatively. "Are she and Dan officially together?"
Nate sighed. "I don't think it's got that far. Yet. But for once listen to me Chuck. Don't mess up your own chance of happiness with her later, by messing up her chances of happiness right now."
Chuck just smirked at his best friend. "But what if I showed her that she could have happiness right now, with me? Before Humphrey manages to weasel his way into her affections on a semi-permanent basis?"
Nate shook his head remonstratively. "Chuck..."
"Excuse me, Nathaniel, I have a New Year's ball to dress for," Chuck cut in emphatically as he exited the room.
Nate despairingly shook his head. Yet another UES event headed for disaster.
Dan's anxieties were momentarily relieved when a GG blast reported that Blair had been spotted shopping for ball gowns on Fifth Avenue.
Yet he couldn't help but be concerned that she was still obviously ignoring his calls.
He had to see her. Perhaps she was feeling embarrassed by yesterday's revelations and was afraid to face him.
He wanted to stay at her penthouse and wait for her to get home, but he had to go to the Van der Woodsen apartment to welcome his father back to New York. Rufus had returned early. Without Lily.
Dan's mind quickly calculated how soon he would be able to see Blair. She had been shopping for ball gowns, which meant she must be planning to go to the New Year's ball at the Met that night. He could go to the apartment, greet his Dad and at the same time pick up the invitation to the ball that had undoubtedly been extended to the whole Van der Woodsen-Humphrey clan.
As Dan greeted his father and started making all the standard enquiries about his trip, Rufus couldn't help but notice the way his eyes darted around the apartment, as if searching for something.
It was also obvious that Dan was intent on speaking at warp speed.
"Have you had a lot of caffeine today, son?" Rufus asked with concern.
"What? No. But I'm sorry I don't really have time for a cup of coffee," Dan replied abstractedly.
"I wasn't offering," Rufus replied drily. "It's just that you seem kind of amped up. And are you looking for something?" Rufus added this as Dan began to rifle through some catalogues on the breakfast nook with attempted nonchalance.
Dan grinned sheepishly. "Uh, yeah kind of. You see there's this New Year ball tonight and I assumed Lily received an invitation and I thought I could go. You know, as the family representative."
Rufus stared at him sceptically. "Uh huh. Well sure. I mean I know how much you love these society events. The mail's in there." He pointed to a kitchen drawer, which Dan pulled out so fast it nearly came off its hinges.
"So, from your manic behaviour I'm guessing there's a girl involved in this sudden urge to don a tuxedo and muck it up with the upper classes tonight. Is Serena back in town?"
Dan located the invite in the pile of mail and held it up to his father in triumph. "Found it. And, yes, Serena's back in town but that isn't what this is about. Nothing's going to happen between Serena and I. That's all water under the bridge."
Rufus looked at his son speculatively. "So this is about someone new?"
"In a way," Dan said hesitantly.
"Anyone I know?"
"We're uh, we're not going out or anything. But we were the only ones left in the city over the break and we became friends. And now," Dan shrugged, tried to play it cool. "I just want to see her, and spend more time with her."
"Wait, are you talking about Blair Waldorf? Lily told me about the blasts on Gossip Girl concerning the two of you but I didn't believe it. After everything she's done to you and her sister over the years?" Rufus asked incredulously.
Dan immediately felt defensive for both Blair's sake and his own. "Blair's never really done anything to me. Except tease me mercilessly, which I've actually got to kind of like. And as for Jenny, their whole feud is kind of a two-way street and Jenny has done some despicable things to Blair too. But they reached an armistice over the holidays. A peace treaty is in the works."
"Yeah, but two years ago I mentioned the possibility of you and Blair getting together and you told me that was sick. What's changed?"
Dan looked into the distance for a moment before turning back to his father.
"I guess...both of us. I'm less judgemental and she's less uptight and when I'm with her I don't feel sick at all actually. In fact when I feel sick is when I'm away from her, which is why I have to get to this ball. I haven't been able to see her all day," Dan grabbed his coat and scarf. "I have to go."
Rufus followed him to the door. "Well, I guess it's not like you'll be inflicting her on us at countless family gatherings because she comes to all of those anyway."
He clapped Dan on the shoulder at the door. "Good luck, son," he said it sincerely, if somewhat dubiously.
Dan grinned at him as the elevator doors closed.
Blair had dressed for the night with care. The dress she had chosen was more provocative, more daring than she would normally wear. Of course, being Valentino it still exuded class and sophistication. The layered slightly ruffled skirt was short at the front, showing a decent amount of Blair's slender legs, before falling to a full ball gown length style at the back. The bodice was strips of satin tightly wrapped around Blair's petite frame, which still showed plenty of soft, creamy skin. And, naturally, it was red.
The dress, or maybe the confidence Blair exuded in it, was securing her a lot of male attention at the ball.
Blair felt like she finally knew what it must feel like to be her effortlessly enticing best friend as men fell over themselves to buy her drinks, chat her up, ask her to dance.
To be honest, she wasn't attracted to any of them in the least. They all seemed to be investment bankers, or equally tedious types, and under normal circumstances she would have dismissed them with a haughty look and barbed comment. But tonight she had something to prove.
So she laughed and flirted and appeared to be having the time of her life, even though inside, she was miserable.
It was almost ten o'clock when she found herself caught in conversation with a handsome young lawyer. He was ostensibly telling her about the office politics at his prestigious New York firm, but was in reality rather obviously staring at her cleavage. He was also using any excuse to touch her, and Blair was wondering whether she should ease herself away from his company politely but firmly, when an arm snaked around her waist from behind.
A familiar deep voice sounded in her ear, "I can't leave you alone for longer than a minute without you getting into trouble, can I, Waldorf?"
"You've been gone a lot longer than that, Bass. Over three weeks, in fact. Plenty of time for mischief making," Blair responded astringently, using two fingers to remove his arm from her waist in obvious distaste.
The lawyer had quickly disappeared having recognised his superfluity and the dangerous look in Chuck's eyes. Blair turned to face the man she would have recently claimed to love.
"What do you want, Chuck?"
Chuck's eyes narrowed at her tone of weary indifference. He nevertheless responded suavely, "I want what every other man in this room wants, Blair. To dance with you."
He held out his hand in invitation. Blair looked at it sadly and shook her head.
"And how would your new girlfriend feel that about that?" she queried tartly before striding for the door.
Chuck followed her out of the ballroom into the antechamber. He clutched at her shoulder, forcing her to listen to him. "I left Raina at the hotel. I had to talk to you."
"About what?" Blair shrugged off his touch, her eyes darting to the cloakroom. She wondered if there were any taxis outside.
Chuck saw the direction of her gaze and his hand clamped around her wrist in a vice-like grip. His voice became cold and threatening. "About what you think you're doing with Dan Humphrey, for a start."
It had taken ages for Dan to make his way to the ball. After leaving his father he had had to get back to Brooklyn to don his tux. The ride had taken forever, and then he hadn't been able to find the suit that Blair had once told made him look almost presentable. He'd finally left the loft and decided to bite the bullet and cough up the expense of a cab over riding the subway again, only to encounter the worst New Year's Eve traffic in Manhattan's history.
During the cab ride Dan had strategized.
He would use the ball to show Blair that he could be debonair, the type of guy she could spend some long-term time with. They would dance, and chat, and he would reassure her that yesterday hadn't affected their tentative friendship. He would also mention that Serena and he had talked and decided it was for the best that they continue to go their separate ways. Dan would mention it casually. He didn't want to spook Blair by coming on too strong, too fast. They would take things slow.
His growing sense of calm had been shattered by a Gossip Girl blast showing Blair surrounded by half a dozen lecherous tycoons all clearly intent on ripping the sexiest red dress Dan had ever seen from her beautiful body.
Dan impatiently told the cab driver (for the fourth time) that he needed to get to the Met as fast as possible.
When he finally got to Lincoln Center Dan had raced through the ballroom searching for Blair. In her flaming red dress, she should have been distinctive, if only from the number of men surrounding her with their tongues hanging out.
But he couldn't find her. Dan headed back out to the antechamber, away from the noise, thinking he could clear his head and perhaps call Blair on her cell.
But before he could do so he heard heated voices coming from a nearby alcove.
"Please, don't pretend you have feelings for the little suburbanite. You're attempt to use him to make me jealous is both obvious and pathetic."
"Who I do or do not have feelings for is no concern of yours. We broke up, Chuck. You just admitted you have a girlfriend now."
"Tell me to dump her and I will. I don't want to wait anymore, Blair. I want us to be together."
"Why? Nothing's changed. And you say you want us to be together, yet you've dragged back to town the man who tore us apart."
"That's just business, it's nothing to do with us."
"It's everything to do with us," Blair cried. "It's just another example of how, yet again, you've chosen to do what is best for you, without thinking about how it might affect me. Did you even stop to think how humiliated I would feel to have to face that man again? How hurt I'd be by the fact that you had been the one to subject me to that, yet again?"
The sound of distress in Blair's voice wrenched Dan's heart.
Pained by the truthfulness of Blair's assertions, Chuck lashed out defensively. "For the last time, Blair, you chose to go up to that room yourself. I didn't force you..."
Chuck was cut off by a large fist connecting to his nose with a sickening crunch.
"Don't you dare, Bass," Dan warned him angrily, moving to stand in front of Blair protectively. "After what you did, don't you even talk to her!"
"What a shock, Dan Humphrey, rushing to the rescue of yet another not-so-virtuous lady," Chuck spat contemptuously as he struggled to rise.
He really shouldn't have been surprised when the fist connected to his face a second time.
Dan had Chuck by the lapels and was preparing to strike him a third time when he felt a restraining hand on his arm.
"Enough," Blair said as she pulled him away from Chuck.
"Bass, clean yourself up and get out of here. You and I have nothing left to say to each other," she added as she saw he was about to protest. "I don't want to see you again for a while."
She led Dan away, to an empty room with a bar and smaller dance floor.
Blair looked at Dan uncertainly. He squeezed her fingers reassuringly and she started and dropped his hand.
"I'll get you some ice. It will help with any bruising or swelling on your hand," she said nervously, heading over to the bar.
"Believe me, any bruising or swelling will be worth it," Dan said, closing the distance between them.
Blair glanced at him apprehensively as she applied the ice tenderly to his bones. "Why did you do that?"
Dan shrugged casually. "It's what friends do."
Blair straightened and nodded. "Right. I better go find Serena and tell her what happened. Otherwise she'll be wondering where you are?"
"Serena's here?" Dan's brow furrowed quizzically.
Blair looked at him blankly. "I assumed you came as her date." She swallowed convulsively and then added sourly, "I saw all about your touching reunion on Gossip Girl."
Suddenly Dan was done playing it cool. He had absolutely no desire to take this slow.
"In case the smackdown was too subtle a demonstration for you, I suppose I should make it clear that I came here for you, Waldorf. It's lucky you're so beautiful, because at times you show a surprising lack of brain power for someone so witty."
Blair gaped at him. "Dan Humphrey, are you flirting with me?" She finally asked with a surprised grin.
"Blair Waldorf, I think I've been flirting with you for the past four years without even knowing it," Dan smiled in return.
He then proceeded to tell her about how his true feelings for her had been slowly dawning on him for weeks. And about his encounter with Serena the night before, when he had told her it was definitely over for them this time.
"I felt terrible when I saw the Gossip Girl blast. I hated the thought of you going back to her," Blair admitted shyly.
"I came here tonight for you, only you, Blair. No one else could have got me in a room with so many soul-destroying, society-worshipping capitalists," Dan joked tenderly. "I really, really wanted to dance with you."
Music was drifting to them softly from the ballroom.
Blair held out her hand with a bright smile. "Care to dance, Humphrey?"
They began to spin and turn, their bodies locked in an intimate embrace, as a well-known male vocalist crooned All of Me from the next room. They had always been at ease dancing together, even before they had been able to admit they felt at ease with each other the rest of the time too.
"So what made you change your mind about me? What made you decide I'm not the spoilt society princess you thought I was?" Blair asked curiously.
Dan grinned down at her. "Who says I've changed my mind?" He asked teasingly.
Blair glared up at him. "I can see your romance techniques leave as much to be desired as your fashion sense," she sniffed delicately.
Dan grinned more broadly. "When I first met you, I told my father you were a 95-pound, doe-eyed, bon mots tossing,label-whoring package of girly evil. And I still think that."
Blair made to pull away from him. "Well, in that case, I guess I should return to the main ballroom. I was talking to a fascinating young lawyer earlier and maybe his conversation will be less insulting."
Dan pulled her to him, cutting her words off with a kiss. Their very first. It was sweet and tender but at the same time, hot and passionate. Dan stroked her neck gently as he continued to kiss along her jaw line until his lips brushed her ear.
"I could stare into your beautiful, brown eyes for hours," Dan murmured. He pulled back so he could stare into said eyes, at times so fierce and yet capable of such gentleness and innocence too. Doe-eyed was definitely an apt description.
"I adore your bon mots. Even when they're directed against me," Dan chuckled ruefully. "And while I think designer clothes are a serious waste of money and that you would look good in a potato sack – you are beautiful in labels." He leant down for another gentle kiss.
"Girly evil?" Blair queried mockingly.
"I'm addicted to it," Dan admitted.
Chuck watched unseen from the door. He had come back to have it out with Blair, determined to get her back. What she felt for Humphrey couldn't be real. He was just a blip in her story. She and Chuck were endgame.
But seeing them together, Chuck could no longer deny the genuineness of Dan and Blair's emotions for each other. It radiated out of them, creating a kind of glow, the happiness they felt just being together. Dan, who always seemed to Chuck to be incongruous and awkward whatever his setting, finally seemed to be right where he was meant to be, completely at home holding Blair in his arms. And Blair...
Blair looked joyful.
Chuck turned on his heel and walked back to his waiting limo. Nate had been right. He would achieve nothing trying to destroy what he had just seen.
A sense of loss settled over him as he suddenly realised the gravity of all the mistakes he had made, all down the line, with Blair.
He had destroyed the one thing that gave his life purpose with his endless game playing.
Now he had a choice.
He could keep up his constant quest for one-up-man-ship and ruin things between himself and the girl he loved (truly) even further.
Or he could stand aside and let her be happy. And hope that his previous predictions had been true. That the two of them were inevitable, and that they would find their way back to each other eventually. In short, he could grow up.
Having made his decision, Chuck told Raina the next day that he thought it was best that she went home and took Jack with her. For the first time since puberty Chuck Bass was going to be celibate. He needed to concentrate on his business interests and mourn the end of the relationship that had made him who he was and saved his life.
By the time midnight struck on New Year's Eve, Blair and Dan had already left the Met ball. Instead they shared a kiss in the back seat of a cab as it sped towards the privacy of Dan's loft.
"This has turned out to be a very, very beautiful friendship," Dan whispered softly as he kissed her again.