If you read my vignettes, you may remember one called 'You Know My Name' about a Chuck who semi-stalked a Blair with the pseudonym November. A few people - including my very good friend bethaboo - requested to see a continuation to that storyline, though I doubt they were expecting a full length fic to come out of it! My influences for this were varied and bizarre: Beauty and the Beast, Last Tango in Paris and Hellboy, to name just a few.
I should warn you now that this fic will be very AU and dark. There will be references to bulimia, violence, drugs and sex, and that is why it has an M rating. At the same time, this fic is about love, redemption, identity, self-belief and the inevitability of two people finding each other with a world of separation between them.
I hope you enjoy it.
For the first three years of his life, Chuck Bass was raised in absolute darkness. He had learned to associate pain with light from the moment he had cried out at its intrusion on his weak eyes, and had felt his father's hand sear the side of his face and send him reeling.
"Be a man," Bart had snarled at the barely sentient boy, stalking from the room and taking Chuck's diminutive world with him. From that day forth the nanny, the maid, the cook and even the boys who ran back and forth between the monolith dedicated to Bass Industries and Bart's home office would avoid Chuck as if he were a plague carrier, a leper, a harbinger of doom; he was told that he had killed his mother, and as such was undeserving of all that Bart offered. At the same time, he was a Bass. He had been born into privilege, and as such it marked him irrevocably; there was nothing he touched that did not have the gloss of wealth upon, nothing he wanted that he could not get. The longing for human company, however, was a desire to be locked in a box and never touched, never looked at and never shared with anyone if the young Charles wished to be as great a man as his father.
Perhaps one might have expected such a child to grow up humble and meek, merely submitting to the wishes of his betters, but it was not to be; instead, Chuck became cold, cruel and arrogant, reckless and ruthless and prepared to do whatever it took to rise higher in his father's esteem. Failure sent him spiralling downward into a haze of despair tinged with drink, drugs and sex, and his name became synonymous with vice. Bart looked on with a sneer and a scowl for his only son, mocking Chuck's losses and scorning even the most meanest of his gains for the company's benefit.
The darkness in Chuck's soul became thicker as he grew into a man, insouciantly handsome and conceited to the core. Maturity meant that he rarely spoke to his father, preferring to inter himself in the Empire – the hotel he had been given and instructed to pull back from the brink of foreclosure – with enough scotch and company to send him into a money fuelled stupor, ignoring the world outside the windows which had nothing to do with business or his own satisfaction.
Then a madman slammed his truck into and, according to witness statements, partly over Bart's limo, and Chuck's world crumbled.
He was free.
And he had nothing.
He was known city-wide for his criminal deviance, his callousness and his hatred for the orthodox and usual. He was not ready, in the eyes of the world, to take up the reins of Bass Industries; he was hardly even fit to be a shareholder.
But take power he did, with such force of will and panache that every person he met seemed to be looking at him sideways thereafter. He became a force to be reckoned with, sinning on the side, and by the time his preliminary year had almost passed he was considered one of the most prominent and talented young CEOs New York had ever seen. He was single-minded, without mercy when decisions had to be made, swimming upstream against the tide. Yet despite all this success and the praise he received from every quarter, he was still the man Bart had raised him to be: appetite insatiable, draining the life from those who were disposable and the light from those who weren't. He fed on rival companies, sucked them dry and assimilated their assets even as others his age were throwing their caps in the air and promising to be friends forever. He needed nothing, wanted everything, and was prepared to go to the very ends of the earth to get it.
He found it November 10th, 2010.
She was a freshman at Columbia, but he'd never seen her go to a class. She had accounts at Saks, Barneys, Bloomingdales and everywhere else that mattered, but there was no credit card registered, and her bank account was inactive. She lived in a Penthouse on Fifth Avenue with a maid and a never-ending supply of filmy nightgowns, and he called her November for the month of her birth. He had found her on an 'It's Your Day' page, idly flicking over assets as he waited for dinner and that night's entertainment to arrive.
From the moment he'd seen her picture, he hadn't wanted to know her name.
He just wanted to know her.
Months passed, and Chuck learnt about November. Her fingers stuck to things – jewellery, watches, billfolds – and didn't let up until the crisp greens were folded between her fingers, gilding them emerald as she shook back her hair. He began to reward her for the bigger items with pretty things of her own: dresses and perfume from Paris, her favourite Falke stockings, diamonds in settings more intricate and expensive than any she could thieve. He never left a note, never told her who to thank; yet in some way, he liked to think she knew he was watching. She told him so with the slide of her skirt up over her thighs as she climbed into a cab, with fire engine red lipstick that was hot black on camera and sent electric shocks darting through him. He came to realise that girls were pointless when he could watch November, her traffic stopping lips parting as she laughed with a girlfriend, and dream that his fingers were hers. They ran in the same circles, he and she, concentric rings of fire and ice on the highest of levels that was societal hell. He would have been quite content to watch her forever, to be with her through the monitor, the camera, the blurry lens until the day she died, or they both did.
However, while it was true that they ran in the same circles, it was equally certain that concentricity would one day force them to a finite point – and thence into inferno.
Anne Archibald & the Girls Inc. Foundation cordially invite
Charles B. Bass
To a benefit for the children and underage mothers of the developing world
The Palace Hotel
Chuck looked in the mirror as he tied his bow tie, and was surprised it didn't crack.