A/N: Well I went ahead with part two and this time it's been beta'd. So thanks to Alex11215 for that and thanks to everyone who reviewed. I hope you enjoy.
Contrary to popular belief, he is not hiding out in Brooklyn. He's merely made a strategic retreat to the loft until things calm down, but only until Gossip Girl reports her next rumor-filled story. It's been over two weeks since he got out of the hospital and yet he's still the subject of the hottest gossip. This is probably due to the fact that a poll has been started.
Lonely Boy maybe out of the coma, but he's not out of the woods yet. He's got a choice to make and hearts to break.
Apparently Gossip Girl and her followers believe that a near-death experience automatically entails an epiphany about your love life. The lucky contenders for his heart are; Serena, Vanessa, Heather (the girl he rescued), Karen (a nurse) and Blair. Each candidate comes with helpful pictures to illustrate why they're in the competition.
Of course, if the winner was decided by the volume of evidence alone, no one would be able to compete with Serena.
Reading through it is like staring at a collection of greatest hits with a few new releases. There are several pictures of them that were clearly taken through the window of his hospital room, which Dan finds not only invasive, but also creepy. Also, there are several shots of her turning up at the loft after he was released, bearing various foods and gifts, a smile always on her face.
What's missing is a shot from two nights ago when she left the loft, on the verge of tears. That was the night she'd told him that she wanted them to get back together. She thought this was their time; that it would finally all work out. And he'd felt his throat tighten with the knowledge of what he had to do next.
I'm really sorry Serena, but I don't think it is.
He watched the hurt spread across her face at his words, and the guilt continued to choke him in return. No matter what happened or may happen between them, he never wanted to hurt her. But he doesn't want to lie to her either.
She quickly made up a lame excuse and left. He didn't try to stop her and hasn't heard from her since.
The new picture of him and Vanessa was taken when she'd shown up a few days ago. The hug was clearly awkward and half-hearted on his end. Their friendship is still fractious at best and, for the first time in their long history together, he doubts whether it can ever fully recover. Regardless of their problems, she wanted him to know that she's glad he's alright.
Heather visited him in the hospital the day after he woke up, with a potted cactus and rambling monologue of thanks. She then sent him some homemade cupcakes after he'd arrived back home. Although he's grateful for the gifts and happy she's ok, Dan doesn't mind whether he sees her again or not. She's just a paragraph in his life, not a whole story.
Eric and Jenny, however, have been arguing her case; so long as a future with her involves them eating more cupcakes. Then there's a photo of him flirting with the very attractive Karen, but this was only done in the pursuit of extra pudding, not a potential romantic spark.
There are no old shots of him and Blair in Gossip Girl's back catalogue that don't involve them squabbling or glaring at each other. Although there is a new one, taken at the hospital, which is an entirely different matter. It's one of Blair, sitting by herself in the waiting room. She's staring blankly ahead; there's nothing in her face or body language which gives away how's she's feeling, except for her hand.
The hand which is desperately holding onto his notebook.
In the more recent blasts, she's been spotted nowhere near Brooklyn. It's like she's purposely trying to keep as far away as she possibly can, whilst still remaining in places where she can show her face without being judged. This has lead to everyone who's voted for Blair being declared delusional.
He hasn't seen her since the morning he left her apartment with his notebook, but that doesn't mean he doesn't want to see her. Or that he hasn't tried to contact her; but it seems she wants nothing to do with him.
Dan has been spending his time, during this self-imposed exile, working on his story. The critique and suggestions Blair left him turned out to be very constructive. Each one provides him with more insight into her inner personality; she hates pointless poetry, obvious symbolism and sloppy grammar. Also, and he's more happy about this then he thought he ever would be, she doesn't entirely hate his work. Along with making all the adjustments that she's suggested, Dan's finding that his plot is being to evolve.
This is no longer just a story about a guy, who believes he's found his soul mate in the form of a tragically stunning socialite. About a woman who desperately wants to find true love, as she thinks it will be her redemption. Now, when she finally finds it with his protagonist, she feels suffocated by it and abruptly flees. All he's left with is the book she gave him, and a broken heart.
But that's not the ending.
One of the background characters, a sharp-witted, steel-hearted brunette is slowly pushing her way into the foreground of the plot. At first, when he was busy rewriting it, Dan didn't realize that this was happening. He was quick to inform Blair's voicemail of this plot development and to sheepishly ask her to look over it again.
He's been leaving her a lot of voicemails recently.
Sometimes they're just to enquire about her wellbeing or what she's up to. But more frequently now, he's leaving her readings of his revised story; because if Blair won't come to the story, then he'll just have to bring the story to her.
She hasn't replied to a single one.
In light of this, the more recent messages contain purposely added mistakes which he knows will drive her mad. The fact that she hasn't blocked his number yet, despite all of this, Dan decides to take as a good sign.
It's late and Dan's still busy fiddling around with a paragraph he's not entirely satisfied with, when someone starts hammering on his door. It contains the kind of ferocity which suggests that if he doesn't open it soon, it will be broken down. Warily, he makes his way over and opens the door just wide enough to take just a peak.
The door barely misses his face as a furious Blair barges in, making sure to slam her shoulder into his as she passes. He murmurs a sarcastic "please come in", as he shuts the door, but when he turns to face her, he really wishes he hadn't. If looks could kill, there wouldn't be a body left for them to find.
You shouldn't be writing! You should be out flouncing after Serena or whatever it is you two do.
The irony isn't lost on him that she thinks the two are mutually exclusive. He informs her that he's turned Serena down – he's never seen her look so astonished. Blair pauses; her lips tightening into a thin line as if she's trying to stop her next question escaping.
She doesn't really want me; she wants the idea of me. And I don't want her anymore.
Blair is staring at him like the general fact of his existence perplexes her. The tension in the room is overwhelming and his heart is pounding so loudly it's making his eardrums ache. So he lets his body go into autopilot and act on the first impulse that enters his mind. This impulse just happens to make him invade her personal space and kiss her.
She doesn't respond.
Dan scrunches his eyes up tighter as he continues, in vain, with this one sided kiss. His mind desperately tries to recall if there are any heavy objects within her reach that she could use as a weapon against him. And if the pathway to his bedroom is clear.
Growing up with Jenny taught him that barricading yourself into your room doesn't necessarily mean you're a coward. Sometimes it means that you value your life.
Just as he inches away slightly and prepares his body to run, she bites down on his lip, and takes his yelp as an opportunity to deepen the kiss. So she does so with bruising force. The contact she makes with him takes the form of small punishments, and yet somehow, still manages to be beautiful.
He doesn't know who the frustration she's expressing is directed at, but he knows better than to try and stop her. He chooses to counter each pleasurable infliction with a tender response. As she begins to back him towards the bedroom, he manages to pull away, gasping slightly for breath. He's just about to question what's happening, when she gives him a sharp warning.
Don't ruin this by going all Dan Humphrey on me.
So he doesn't.
As she starts to claw away at his clothes, he delicately removes her. When she digs her nails into his back as they land on the bed, he gently slides his arms under hers. They move together in a slightly disjointed, but nonetheless harmonious rhythm.
A swear murmurs on his lips as he curses the new day. No matter how firmly he closes his eyes, the sunlight still finds a way to invade. He gently moans and sneaks a hand over to the other side of the bed, which he finds empty.
This discovery leaves him wide awake in a matter of seconds. And there she is, sitting at the end of his bed, wearing his shirt. She has the notebook in one hand, and a pen dangerously poised in the other.
A lazy smile creeps across his face, as he slowly crawls forwards and runs his fingertips down her back. She shudders a little at his touch, but refuses to face him. Instead she gently elbows him away, informing him that she's busy and that he should find a way to make himself useful.
Dan quickly steals a kiss against her neck, before locating his boxers and making his way to the kitchen. He returns bearing waffle covered plates and two cappuccinos topped with the famous Humphrey hazelnut foam. She puts down the notebook when she sees him and accepts his offering with a smile.
Sitting down in the chair opposite the bed, he suddenly realises that he's hesitant to touch Blair unless she's mad at him or likely to become so. It's slightly horrifying to think that he may have been conditioned into the Waldorf equivalent of a Pavlovian dog.
Trying to butter me up with good food will not make me go any easier on your story.
He laughs and assures her that he never thought that for a second. He knows she has a reputation to maintain.
Speaking of that….
Blair raises a questioning eyebrow in response to the evidently cautious tone. Running a hand through his messy hair, he explains his band-aid strategy to introducing this, whatever this is, to the outside world and suggests they attend tonight's charity function together.
Thoughtfully, she chews on a piece of waffle, drawing out the process as long as possible just to make him squirm. It's apparent that Blair Waldorf still loves to torture him. When she suddenly asks him what he's wearing, he's so taken aback that all he can do is splutter a "What?" And she promptly rolls her eyes at him.
If we're going to be seen together, I need to ensure that you should be seen.
Lily's brought him a new suit for the event, which manages to get the Waldorf nod of approval. Then she proceeds to tear through his wardrobe in search of a suitable shirt, tie and shoes to complete the outfit. As she does so, she flings more and more clothes onto the mounting 'must be burnt immediately' pile.
I swear Humphrey, sometimes Cedric had better dress sense then you.
He makes a mental note of a few items that he'll slyly rescue later before sacrificing the rest in order to appease the Dictator of Taste. They spend the rest of the day just being themselves; watching movies, bickering, discussing culture, trading insults.
The only difference is that they're physically closer, touching one another freely and exchanging kisses alongside quips. And she's still wearing his shirt. And he's wearing his boxers. And sometimes, they end up wearing neither.
They don't discuss the shift in their relationship or attempt to define it – they've never done so before and neither can see the point in starting now. And, although Dan can't quite believe it himself, this doesn't bother him.
Their relationship has the ability to evolve naturally, and for the better, without anyone trying to interfere.
Everyone who knows them are understandably shocked to see them attend the fundraiser together. Everyone that is, apart from his Dad. Upon spotting them, Rufus lets out a loud chuckle and then spends the rest of the evening with a knowing grin on his face.
Blair spends the entire event possessively holding Dan's hand; the expression on her face warning of the consequences if anyone dares to meddle with them. In return, Blair allows him to kiss her in public, make her laugh and hold her close to him on the dance floor. Dan tries his best to make her feel secure, without feeling suffocated. Make her happy without fearing she might lose it.
When his book is finally published, the sole dedication is made to the Dictator of Taste.