AN: Thank you all for your amazing reviews!
Still, Still, Still was written for the remarkable ChairLoveK, a fellow Gossip Girl (and Leighton Meester!) addict, whose wonderful reviews I always look forward to reading. This was one of the more difficult oneshots to write - I'll admit to taking nearly four weeks (eep!) with it. But this girl has been incredibly patient, and so thank you, S, and Merry (very late) Christmas!
Prompt was a CB S3 Christmas.
Tremendous thanks to bethaboo, as always, for being a lightning-fast beta.
"Still, still, still,
One can hear the falling snow.
For all is hushed,
The world is sleeping,
Holy Star its vigil keeping.
Still, still, still,
One can hear the falling snow. "
-Still, Still, Still
"Let's go away," he suggested, tone forced, eyes hopeful, lips set in a grim line.
Blair turned around, reveling in the feeling of his bare skin against hers as she searched his expression.
A thousand conflicting emotions; all clothed in veils constructed to disguise, to hide, to protect, and only Blair could read him.
Fear, hope, arrogance, trepidation, pessimism, trust…
The smile broke across his face like a ray of sunshine.
"Anywhere," he said, kissing her bare shoulder. "You decide."
Blair searched her brain for a locale, one that hadn't already been tainted by memories they longed to forget, a place they could escape to.
"Somewhere warm?" he prompted, and Blair shook her head.
"I want a White Christmas," she decided.
Blair smiled, nodded.
"I'll make the plans," he confirmed.
Two hours later, Blair still lay in bed, head pillowed against Chuck's bare chest, thinking over his proposal.
He was running away, she knew. Though what he was running from, she couldn't quite understand. The hospital had initiated a change in their relationship, a catalyst that produced a reaction they couldn't quite gauge. Something had changed.
They just weren't sure what.
But Blair knew for certain something had changed—and this was proof enough.
Chuck was running away.
But this time, he was bringing her along.
The thought brought a smile to her lips and she fell into a dreamless sleep.
"Eleanor's angry," Blair announced, pressing the End button with a sigh.
Chuck turned to her with an amused smile.
"She hates me," he stated.
"She does not," Blair countered, but the statement sounded false to her own ears.
"I'm taking her daughter away during the holidays," Chuck pointed out, "she's probably ready to bury me."
"I'd rather spend Christmas with you anyways."
"I've attended more than one Eleanor Waldorf Christmas soirée. You'd rather spend Christmas with Dan Humphrey."
Blair wrinkled her nose.
"And be subjected to flannel? I think not."
They were exhausted when the private jet finally landed at the Courchevel airport—and not simply because of Chuck's suggestion they join the mile-high club.
But this Christmas promised fresh powder and snow-covered houses; mistletoe kisses and drama-free dinners.
In short, it was perfect.
And it was exactly what they needed.
"I haven't skied since I was twelve," Chuck said with a frown as they stood at the crest of the mountain,
Blair looked at him, shaking her head. "I'm surprised you've skied at all, Bass. We both know your aversion to physical activity."
Chuck began to smirk, but Blair cut him off before a comment about mile-high clubs and uncomfortable bathrooms could be made.
"Besides," she said quickly, "it's like riding a bike."
Chuck raised an eyebrow, and Blair smiled beatifically.
"Fine," he grumbled, and Blair tightened the straps of her ski poles, "it'll be your job to give me sponge baths when I'm in the hospital."
"It's a blue run, Bass," Blair said over her shoulder with a laugh, before disappearing down the mountain.
"Damn woman," Chuck muttered, before tentatively setting off after Blair.
Blair stood in the doorway, clothed in only a bathrobe and devious smirk.
"I'm assuming we won't be spending today on the mountains?" she teased, and Chuck groaned from his place in bed, attempting to stretch out his muscles.
"I feel like a truck ran me over," he confessed. "In Brooklyn, where they lack proper medical care."
"They have hospitals in Brooklyn," Blair reprimanded lightly, but her tone carried laughter.
"They do?" Chuck asked in confusion, and Blair smirked, crawling into bed beside him, "You know, I could think of a better way to spend today…" she trailed off suggestively, and she saw Chuck's eyes open for the first time that morning.
"But you're obviously exhausted, so I suppose that'll have to wait," Blair said with a sigh, easily evading Chuck's grasping hands and hopping out of bed, tightening her bathrobe. "I'll be down in the spa if you need me."
She laughed lightly to herself as Chuck's string of curses followed her out of the room.
"I'll leave you alone for twenty minutes to relax," Blair's rail-thin, model gorgeous, masseuse said, her voice irritatingly soft.
Blair gave no response, only closed her eyes, taking a deep breath of lavender scented air.
The vacation had been exactly what they needed—a chance to escape from the dramatics of the Upper East Side, to find a small sliver of peace. Blair knew that the anniversary of Bart's death had been difficult on Chuck, and being around a family that was not truly his could have driven him to the same extremes as the last time.
Instead, they found themselves at Cheval Blanc, luxuriating in their time together, free from tragedy.
And a small smile appeared on Blair's lips as she reflected on the Chuck Bass of today compared with the Chuck Bass of last year. He was evidently changed, and she knew that at least part of that change could be attributed to her.
As she was mulling over the change in him, the door opened softly, and her smile turned into a frown. Five minutes, at the most, had passed, and Blair nearly sat up, ready to unleash fury on her interrupter.
But before she had a chance to say a word, she felt a different set of hands on her back, ones that were much larger than that of her masseuse's.
"Shh," he murmured, and his hands traveled down her back slowly, palms splaying across her hips, trailing across the curve of her ass.
Blair looked over her shoulder, turning onto her back as she continued to half-glare at Chuck.
"Not here," she hissed, glancing around in trepidation.
Chuck only smirked, fingers brushing over curls and dipping lower.
"Chuck—" she protested again, but her protest turned into a moan—which turned into Blair clamping her lips together, praying that she wouldn't be heard as Chuck continued his ministrations.
Blair didn't escape the bewildered looks from the masseuse when she and Chuck exited, hand in hand. From the smug smirk on his features and the faint blush on hers, there was no mistaking what had occurred in the room.
Blair propped herself up on her elbow, tracing the outline of his jaw, watching as he snored lightly, countenance peaceful.
It was in these moments, when she would content herself with watching him, that she admitted to herself what he had always thought true.
They were inevitable. Endgame. Destined.
However you put it, it ended up in the same situation in her mind.
A church. Filled to the brim with New York's finest, but at the forefront, their families. Eleanor. Harold and Roman. Lily. Serena. Eric. Nate.
And Chuck in a tuxedo, lavender tie matching the pearly lavender underskirt that peeked out from her dress, a hint of color in a sea of pure white.
Even if Chuck would say that she never had been pure. Not since that night in the limo, anyways.
Night was always theirs, she thought. It was where their tumultuous romance had been born.
It had flourished in darkness, hidden in corners and closets, away from prying eyes and curious glances.
Yes, she thought with a sigh. Night had always been theirs.
But as the morning sunshine streamed through the open windows, the snow-capped mountains in the distance, Blair knew that they probably needn't hide in dusk any longer.
"Merry Christmas," she heard, and turned her gaze from the window to Chuck.
"Merry Christmas," she replied, and there was a moment, before he reached up, threading his fingers through her hair and kissing her fiercely, where she saw something.
It was the childlike innocence, the glint of happiness at the thought of Christmas morning that she saw. An emotion so unlike Chuck Bass that she couldn't help but be surprised.
Blair Waldorf had never been a stranger to decadence and extravagance. She was a Waldorf, after all, having grown up on the Upper East Side, worn baby Dior and had been fed genuine Parisian croissants at the tender age of three.
And yet, she couldn't help but look around in wonderment at the lavishness around her.
"You did all this for our Christmas dinner?" she asked, and Chuck nodded, always-present smirk in place.
"It's the first Christmas we've spent together," he shrugged.
"Chuck Bass, the romantic," Blair teased, but continued to smile as she took in the sumptuously decorated Christmas tree (red and gold, he knew her well), the gilded plates, the spread of food they could never finish between them, and the mistletoe hung ever-so-innocently beside their table. Tall windows reached from floor to ceiling on the opposite side of the room, arching into a domed ceiling that sported an ornate crystal chandelier.
Chuck didn't deny the statement, only took led her, hand on the small of her exposed back, towards the double doors that broke the line of tinted glass windows.
The balcony was large, a dance floor in itself, paved in marble that was barely visible through the thin layer of snow, and encased by a glass railing that offered no obstruction of the view.
And Blair was led towards the farthest end of the balcony, shivering slightly without the protection of her mink wrap.
Courchevel was spread out below them, lodges and hotels mere twinkling lights, plumes of smoke rising in the sky. The sky, spread out above them in inky darkness, dotted with diamonds that matched the ones she wore, a Christmas present from Chuck.
"It's beautiful," she breathed, and she turned her head slightly to catch the tail end of a smirk. "You don't see this in New York."
"No," he agreed, his voice short, almost as if New York was a contentious subject, "you don't."
"I don't wish I was in New York right now," Blair said quietly, noting that Chuck seemed to have something to say.
"But don't you?" he replied, his words so quiet she could barely hear his words.
Blair looked at him, and Chuck turned his head, looking away.
"No," Blair said firmly, small hands framing his face, forcing his gaze back towards hers. "I don't."
"Why?" he whispered.
"Because I wouldn't want to be in New York if you were here," Blair replied simply.
Chuck breathed out sharply.
"I shouldn't have run all those times—"
"You're Chuck Bass," Blair cut in, and he wasn't sure if it was his imagination, the slight note of bitterness in her voice. "But despite that, I love you."
There was a sigh of relief, and in a second, every wall, every protection, every barricade that Chuck had built out of fear of emotion, crumbled down.
"I wasn't running from you," he noted, and Blair nodded. "And I can't change, I can't not be Chuck Bass, but—"
"You brought me along," Blair said softly. "I wasn't left in New York, waking up to an empty pillow and note—" at this, Chuck winced slightly, "—I'm here. And that just proves that you're becoming a man in a way that your father never was."
"I don't regret this," Chuck admitted.
"Neither do I," Blair agreed with a smile. "It's nice, isn't it? No Gossip Girl. No Eleanor, no Lily, no Serena, no Nate."
"We should be spending Christmas with family," Chuck stated, though he sounded as though he questioned the veracity of his own words. "Not that I have any."
In a rush of words, everything made sense. Why Chuck had suggested the trip away in the first place—why his suggestion had been tempered with trepidation.
Last year, his father had died—in an accident he had partially blamed himself for—and Chuck had most likely spent Christmas in a haze of illicit drugs and Thai hookers. And though it was unlikely Bart had made a big production of Christmas, Chuck had always at least had the option of spending Christmas with family.
"Chuck—" Blair began, but found herself at a loss.
"Your family may be screwed up," Chuck began instead, and Blair said nothing to contradict his words—they were true, after all—"and the van der Woodsen-Humphreys are probably even more fucked up. But at least they've still got someone to call family."
There was a pause, and Blair found herself at a loss once more, before Chuck spoke up.
"I didn't want to spend Christmas alone," he admitted. "There's the van der Woodsens, but that would mean eating waffles and wearing plaid with the Humphreys. I just—"
"I know," Blair said with a small smile, drawing closer to Chuck—partly for warmth, the frigid winter air beginning to make her fingers freeze—"but Chuck, you didn't have to bring us all the way here. I'll always be your family."
And this time, it was Chuck who found himself at a loss of words as Blair threaded her fingers through his.
"Let's go inside," she murmured. "It's freezing."
He nodded, and they crossed the expansive balcony once more, but just before stepping across the threshold and into the bright, warm, inviting space, Chuck stopped her.
"Thank you," he said.
And, perhaps only second to a 'Thank you' she had received in the hospital weeks ago, it was the most genuine thanks she had ever heard.
Blair didn't respond, only reached up to press her lips to his, and he found his arms encircling her waist, closing the door firmly behind them as they stumbled into the room.
Falling slightly backwards, Blair found her bare back against cool glass, her dress being hiked up around her waist as Chuck placed a trail of kisses down her neck.
"Chuck—" she protested.
But, as always, her protest was cut short by his lips capturing hers.
They had (eventually) gotten to their (admittedly cold) dinner, and the decadent chocolate dessert that they were currently consuming, gilded dining chairs pulled up next to each other.
Blair had taken one look at the dessert, a layered chocolate mousse with hazelnut dacquoise and chocolate ganache, and instantly recoiled. Her caloric totals from dinner were already in the thousands, and the indulgent dessert was easily two hundred calories per bite. Coupled with the champagne truffles, Blair found herself pushing the plate away, only to be met with a slightly reproachful look from Chuck.
An unspoken moment passed between them, a mutual understanding that led to Blair grabbing her fork in defeat and surrendering to the sinful dessert.
Besides, she thought with a small smirk, sex burned anywhere from six to seven hundred calories. Or so claimed the magazine she had been idly perusing on the plane.
The dessert bore similarities to one of her favorites in Manhattan, from Payard, a bakery she and her father had frequented during the holiday season. The memory brought a nostalgic smile to her lips, lipstick smudged and probably gone.
(She didn't care.)
"What was your favorite Christmas?" Blair found herself asking.
"This one," Chuck said decidedly.
"Doesn't count," Blair said with a shake of her head. "Mine was my twelfth. Daddy bought me my first Hermès. Eleanor didn't mention that I was eating far too many chocolate desserts. We were together. It was the last Christmas before everything fell apart."
Chuck looked thoughtful for a moment, considering the question.
"My ninth Christmas," he finally said, after a prolonged silence. "Bart wasn't working. For once. It wasn't by choice, but we spent four days in Vail, and Bart was without his phone the entire time. He managed to forget it."
"Bart forgot his phone?" Blair asked incredulously, and Chuck shrugged.
"Maybe it wasn't so accidental," he said, though the sentence was tinged with a note of grief. There was no way to ask Bart now. "In any case, we spent four days on the mountain. Just Bart and I. I think it was the first—if only—time I ever spent with him."
A sudden spasm of fear crossed Chuck's features, and he turned towards Blair imploringly.
"I'm not turning into my father," he stated, though it came out sounding more like a question.
Blair shook her head vehemently.
"No. You're not."
And it was the feeling of her small hand in his, her head resting against his shoulder that further reinforced his statement.
Chuck Bass was not his father.
The frigid winter air chilled him straight to the bone as soon as he stepped out. The silk robe did nothing to protect his heated skin from the wintry air.
The blinking numbers on the clock reminded him of the late hour—and the fact that it was no longer Christmas.
And he welcomed the cold, inhaling deep lungfuls of air as though he were running out of oxygen.
His eyes began to water, not from emotion, but the air that was beginning to curl around his bare fingers, immobilizing them.
The cold air brought clarity, brought an overwhelming sense of peace that he seemed to have been searching for the entire trip.
Chuck Bass had always been selfish. As a child, toys were solely his, and never meant to be shared. As he grew up, the trait stayed with him, grew more dominant in a way, until all he wanted was Blair for himself.
And so, he knew that asking her to go away with him for Christmas, to a foreign country, no less, was selfish. It was him trying to run from another Christmas of plastered smiles and false thanks. For once, he wanted family around for Christmas.
And Blair Waldorf had always been his family.