Author's Note: Well here it is: the final part to this story. I want to take the time to thank every single person who reviewed this story and/or added it to their alerts or favorite stories. It means so much. I can't thank you enough for reading what I write. Oh and keep the DAIR faith! ;)
Dan fiddled with a pen in between his two fingers. He had exhausted of trying to extricate his feelings and purpose through the keys of his laptop so he had decided to try a different avenue.
Pen and paper. Straight, direct, unapologetic.
It proved to be of no help to the level of irregularity and congruency of his current thoughts. He had been plagued by a daunting and irrevocable pressure since their first public outing at the museum. It had been there where everything that he had already felt so abundantly for Blair had shifted. It had changed dramatically. To the point that when he sat quiet and still with the notion, it made him instantly simultaneously ill and reverently free.
An oxymoron. An ironic inconsistency.
He closed his eyes and rubbed his temples firmly as he held the pen gingerly. He couldn't believe he had allowed himself to get to this place with her. He knew he felt deeply for her and had been astutely aware of it for quite some time but this was a whole new level of intensity and he couldn't fully wrap his mind around it. He glanced over at her sleeping form, his eyes catching sight of the outline of her legs, leading up to the subtle curve of her hips, wrapped up in his covers. The mere slight dip of her back made his mind rattle unnervingly. Her breath was even and deep in her slumber. He zeroed in on the sound and it held him as he listened to it directly. He wondered if there was a way to dissemble himself from the distinct and increasingly dangerous hold she had on his heart.
Maybe she had been right, maybe they shouldn't be spending most waking, and some sleeping moments in the crux of each others company. Maybe this was more than they both could handle with sound minds and good intentions, maybe it was too much for him to bear. The level of inherent attachment that he was starting to be consumed with both worried and frightened him.
She had been strangely consistent since their outing to the museum. No over-the-top meltdowns, no obvious underhanded attempts at self-sabotage. She had been free and honest and even had a renewed vibrancy. But he couldn't help but flip through the possible ways they could fall apart at her hands. It made him both irritated and sad that he felt he couldn't completely trust her with his heart. But she had put up such a deliberate fight at times, in the beginning. Was she really over the influx of doubt that would course through her veins and erupt forcefully in its verbal form from her mouth?
Maybe it was just his turn for uncertainty and hesitance, he had been so busy convincing her to extinguish her own that he never really gave any actual thought to the possibility that he harbored his own set of doubts and worries where she was concerned. There was no real guarantees when it came to the way she would handle certain situations or how she would react but then again there were never guarantees in relationships at all. He really didn't want to get even closer to her, or continue to feel as deeply for her as he did, just to have her one day decide that she really didn't want him.
That he was just a test, a moment in time, a blimp on the radar, a minor inconvenience in the grand scale of her life.
He had to mean more to her than just that. It would wreck him substantially to think that they would only amount to regrets and broken hearts. These thoughts jumped and skipped as he thought about their impending lovemaking. They hadn't actually sealed the deal yet, though there had been two rather close calls. They hadn't officially breached into unforeseen territory in that regard. That thought alone almost paralyzed his breath. He subconsciously knew that the logical and cynical part of his brain was preventing him from taking that irreversible step with her because he was racked with his own quiet insecurities.
Blair stirred lightly beside him. He glanced at her sleep laden form and bit the inside of his mouth, wondering if the volume of his thoughts had in some way reached her and shaken her from her sleep. He forcefully shoved his tumultuous garden of introspection down. Blair turned over lazily and opened her sleepy brown eyes which caught sight of his tired ones as she gazed up at him.
"What's wrong?" Blair whispered, her voice thick with sleep. She reached out her hand to him and gently caressed his arm.
"Nothing," Dan offered. "I didn't mean to wake you, I was writing."
"No, it's fine." Blair propped herself up in the bed and laid her head on his shoulder, her arms sliding loosely around his waist.
"What are you writing about?" Blair asked softly as she glanced at the blank piece of paper in front of him.
"I was moreso in the brainstorming phase." Dan lamented sighing deeply.
"Yeah, well it looks that way." Blair teased lightly.
"My thoughts didn't want to materialize correctly, they're just stuck in my head."
"What are they?" Blair pondered aloud, she suddenly had an overt curiosity of what was consuming his mind space that he couldn't extract and write down.
"What is what?" Dan asked back absentmindedly. It was almost as if he hadn't heard the question correctly.
"What are these thoughts of yours?" Blair asked as she looked up at him, studying the frame of his profile, the sight of his jaw at that angle made her inadvertently lose her train of thought.
"I think we should start telling people that we're seeing each other." Dan stated.
"Why is that important?" Blair countered, resting her chin on his shoulder lightly.
"Because I want the people who care about us to know that we're happy."
"You don't think they know you're happy?" Blair asked. "Being with me doesn't need to be validation for them, it serves that purpose for only you. Why are you so concerned with people knowing? It's mildly possessive."
"It's not possessive Blair," Dan reasoned lightly as his head continued to fork through scenarios. "It's full disclosure. It's being proud. It's being able to have lunch at Le Cirque."
"It isn't anyone's business," Blair maintained. "I don't want to feel like I have to explain our relationship to people."
"We can't hide in this loft forever, Blair." Dan reasoned. "It's not normal."
"We've been out of the loft together, Humphrey." Blair replied. "Small victories."
"Blair we really should tell the people we're close to." Dan maintained lightly, he reached for one of her arms casually.
"I don't want to fight about this Humphrey." Blair whispered, she knew on some level that he had a point. She understood his need to bring their relationship to the light in even a minimal capacity.
"This isn't fighting Blair." Dan muttered softly. "We're simply having a discussion."
"Well, it's an ill-advised one." Blair replied. She felt her barriers breaking down despite her verbal affirmations. She wanted to hold on to some semblance of control and discreetness but his need for varying forms of confirmations slighted her, even just a little.
"What about just our parents?" Dan asked hopefully.
"My mother doesn't care who I`m dating, Humphrey." Blair responded. "And if you tell your father, he will most definitely tell Lily, which means Serena will hear about it within the hour."
"Well maybe that's not a horrible thing," Dan acquiesced. "She is your best friend, I'm her ex-" Blair swiftly interrupted.
"Ex- boyfriend? Love of her life? The guy who she manages to always come back to? A constant and sustaining force in her heart?" Blair quipped, her anxiety was rising slowly from the pores of her skin.
"Blair…" Dan warned, he didn't want this to turn into an argument about Serena.
"I'm not trying to fight with you about it." Blair maintained. "I just don't want to have to have that conversation with her. And I really don't want you to have that conversation with her."
"Why not?" Dan pondered out loud as he shifted and looked her in her eyes. She was full of sleepy angelic decorum. It made his heart clamp between his lungs in his chest.
"Because her perfect hair and perfect mouth and perfect chest may sway you." Blair answered seriously.
"You think so?" Dan questioned, half curious about her impending response. He wasn't even actually entertaining the possibility of that happening. It was her striking vulnerability that made him feel momentarily at ease with his own. Blair didn't respond. Her dark eyes searched his, she was trying to read the implications of that question. The lack of inflection in his tone gave no adequate indictor of how he had intended it.
Was he teasing her? Was it rhetorical? Was he serious?
"I highly doubt it." Dan proclaimed seriously, as his eyes bore into hers. The elegance and firmness in which he delivered that line reached deep down inside her subconscious and squeezed it.
Dan reached both hands up to her cheeks and softly placed delicate kisses on either side of her face before pulling back and locking eyes with her once more.
"Give me an inch here, Waldorf." Dan whispered as he studied her. Blair maintained their eye contact before dropping it briskly. She looked around his bedroom, her eyes darting from object to object, like she was in a quiet search for something she desperately needed to locate. She felt herself giving way to him but she wanted to keep as much of a level head regarding the situation as she could grasp. "You should tell Chuck."
The sound of that name surged her into reality with a clear distinction. Her eyelids closed momentarily as she took a deep breath.
"I don't want to talk about telling Chuck anything." Blair countered. "He truthfully doesn't deserve to know what I had for breakfast this morning, let alone who I'm seeing."
"I don't disagree with that entirely but don't you think telling him would disengage his disastrous preoccupation with you?" Dan ventured. He knew they were reaching rather dicey and unknown ground, they never talked about Chuck. They would discuss Serena a thousand times over but rarely did either of them mention Chuck's name.
"I don't want to talk about him." Blair responded almost indignantly. Dan sat silently, his already imbalanced insecurities where their relationship was concerned were hanging loosely in the folds of his uncertainty.
He didn't want to push her, he didn't want to pull her, he didn't want to prod her or poke her. He didn't want her to be coaxed into saying the right things. But part of him needed her to. So desperately. He needed to hear that he wasn't a mere substitute for someone she believed would always be better suited for her.
He wasn't sure how literary proficiency and artistic appreciation held up against an empire and social status.
"Can we just go to sleep?" Blair asked softly, breaking into his never ending train of thought. She could tell he was torturing himself in that slow, methodical and silent type of way.
"Of course," Dan whispered as he kissed her on the forehead.
As they sank into bed and wrapped their arms around each other, Blair's head resting on his chest, her face in his neck. His arms grasping her snuggly around her shoulders and back. She felt the soothing rapid pulse of his heartbeat in his chest.
Dan took a deep breath and focused entirely on the nearness of her. On the give and take of her body, the rise and fall of her essence. He reminded himself of the most ungovernable force that glued them together at the seams, their insurmountable attraction and their innate emotional energy that wouldn't be ignored.
"Dan," Blair whispered as she inhaled his closeness.
"Hmm?" Dan mumbled as he rubbed her back lightly.
"You're really important to me."
He was so stunned he didn't even have a verbal response. But by the way he tightened his hold on her, she knew he had whole-heartedly received that admission.
Blair sifted through Dan's monstrous DVD collection looking for one movie in particular.
"You are going to seriously owe me if you got my hopes up around you 'possibly' having a copy of L`Atalante." Blair sighed as she continued looking for the film.
"I swear, it's in there somewhere." Dan replied convincingly, with the level of anxiety he was feeling he was grateful that she seemed so engrossed in locating the DVD.
He knew they probably wouldn't get around to actually watching it because he had made a conscious decision that they needed to have a mandatory and serious conversation. And they were going to have it tonight. There was no literal way around it.
Things needed to be said explicitly. No more reading between the lines. No more subtle inferences.
"Actually, can I talk to you for a minute?" Dan ventured lightly, as he looked up at her sorting through his vast movie collection.
"Yeah, just let me find it first…"
"I'll even help you look for it, if you just stop for a second." Dan bargained, hoping to sound more carefree and lighthearted then he actually felt.
"If you told me you have L'Atalante as some ploy I will not be pleased." Blair exclaimed dramatically.
"Blair…" Dan started, his voice was heavy with his imminent declarations.
"Humphrey…" Blair responded as she turned to look at him. The look on his face cautioned her against finishing an explicably sarcastic remark that was dancing on the tip of her tongue. "I'm listening."
"What do you want Blair?" Dan questioned plainly. He had practiced a more purposeful and slightly less vague introduction to the conversation but somehow lost it on the floor along with some of his courage.
"Right now?" Blair countered quizzically. "Right now I want to watch easily one of the most exquisite French made films and marvel at its brilliance."
Dan felt the involuntary tug of the corners of his mouth as a small chuckle threatened to leave his lips. He gathered a hold of his immediate knee-jerk reaction and cleared his throat.
"Blair, what do you want from me? From us? From this relationship?"
"Are you asking me what my expectations are for this relationship? You sound like my father would sound regarding a man trying to change my last name." Blair bemused matter-of-factly. She knew she was being rather difficult but it was a natural typical reaction for her.
"Could you maybe refrain from the overt use of snark for the duration of this specific conversation?" Dan posed seriously. She could tell by the look on his face that he was struggling with this.
"You're right. Okay. Why are you asking me this?" Blair inferred.
"Because you challenge me and you're interesting and witty and insane and gorgeous as hell but I need you to tell me what you want. What this is. I need you to tell me something. Tell me anything." Dan exclaimed.
"I want us to keep doing what we're doing. I've told you I want to be around you." Blair replied, she moved closer to him.
"I'm going to be honest with you. I feel a little out of control." Dan admitted as he absentmindedly ran his hand through his hair.
"Why?" Blair questioned. It was a silly question because she could understand the sudden culmination of underlying feelings of inadequacy and doubt, she had herself experienced such feelings, although more explicitly.
"I feel like I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop. Things are going so wonderfully right now and I'm just… I'm just scared that you're going to wake up one day and change your mind." Dan divulged in a rush, speedily the words fell from his mouth.
Blair was rendered temporarily speechless which was a hard thing to comprehend. She always had something to say, even if it was unkind or inappropriate. She finally found her voice. She looked down at his sitting frame in front of her and felt an immediate impulse to comfort him.
"You should trust it," Blair replied as she sat next to him on the couch. "You should trust what we have. I fought it for awhile, but I trust it now and you should too."
"I know," Dan nodded as he gazed into her eyes. He took a deep breath and shook his head lightly as if he was trying to rid himself of his erratic cumbersome thoughts. "I want to, I really do. But sometimes I feel like it's too good to be true, like you're going to suddenly decide that I'm just a detour to your ultimate destination."
Blair broke eye contact with him suddenly for a moment instantly knowing what that meant. Who that meant.
"Meaning Chuck," Blair relented.
"Yes, Blair. I mean Chuck, the elephant in the room. The person you've been dancing around discussing."
"I don't really have anything to say about him." Blair replied.
"Really? I find that hard to believe, as long as I've known you, you've been tied to him in some way, shape or form. You think I don't think about that? You think that doesn't weigh on my mind? You don't think it tortures me wondering if you're still in love with him?"
"I'm in love with the idea of him, Humphrey. And I'm falling further away from that sentiment as the days go by."
"I hope so," Dan breathed as he tried to assess whether she was being forthright with him, or just simply telling him what he wanted to hear.
"You're incredibly noble, Daniel Humphrey." Blair began. "You're the complete antithesis of him."
Dan studied her silently after that statement, sort of basking in the way that it made him feel. Maybe she really was coming out of the fantasy induced rhetoric that she had spewed so incessantly where Chuck was concerned. Maybe she was getting past it.
"I can't say that I fault you for your uncertainty when I still have some of my own." Blair admitted candidly. "Sometimes I'm so unsure. There are times when we're having simple conversation or even times when it's completely silent and I look at you and I'm instantly rendered speechless, because in those moments I realize how deeply I feel for you and it haunts me. I don't know that I have a place for it. I don't know where to keep it."
Blair felt the wind getting knocked out of her as she finished her blatant confession. She didn't know what had possessed her to reveal so much but she did so unintentionally. She felt a proverbial lump rising in her throat as unexpected emotion tried to suffocate her. Her eyes broke away from his shocked ones and she stared down at her hands as she bit her lip to keep herself from unraveling further right in front of him.
"I'm sorry," Blair mumbled. "I've said too much."
Dan instantly grabbed her arm before she could retract from him. His eyes trying desperately to catch hers, he reached up to cradle her face with his hands and her eyes finally met his. She felt the beginnings of tears formulating in the backs of her eyes, the wave of emotion rushed over her in an inexplicable way.
"No, no… you could never say too much." Dan assured her softly. He was taken aback from the apparent reaction she was having to her own statement. "You're trembling."
"I'm okay," Blair tried to reason, still fighting an almighty battle within herself to allow him to know just how deeply she did feel about him. This wasn't something she had great experience with. The last time she felt this way, her heart was stomped on repeatedly and its mangled remains were handed back to her carelessly.
"Why are you crying?" Dan asked softly, gently wiping the tears that had fallen down her face with the tips of his fingers.
"I'm fine, I am." Blair replied, taking a deep breath and trying to regain her composure. "I'm just overwhelmed."
Dan understood completely because he felt the same way. It hadn't manifested itself as tears but seeing her so emotional did cause a similar reaction in him. His throat grew tight, he cleared it swiftly.
"Can I ask you a question?" Dan posed gently, his eyes never leaving hers.
"Of course," Blair answered with a nod.
"Will you allow me to love you?" Dan whispered, barely getting the words out.
"That won't be difficult to do." Blair replied, her emotions rising again as she closed the small distance between them and eased into his arms.
A small smile peaked through on both of their faces as they realized the magnitude of that moment. They were going to be together. No matter the obstacles, no matter the doubts or the fears.
What they had was unflinching and unwavering.
And they were ready.