Dan's phone vibrated on the table, jostling him from sleep. He looked at the clock, which indicated that it was 3 am. Dan picked up his phone and saw that he had a new text message from Blair. Dan rolled his eyes, wondering if she understood that it was rude not to respect other people's time zones.
I'm back. Meet me at my penthouse at 10 am. Bring coffee.
Dan sighed. He was not going to be able to follow her orders.
Still in the Hamptons. Raincheck?
Dan waited for five minutes, and decided she wasn't going to write back. Just as he decided it was safe to go back to sleep, his phone buzzed again.
I'm back. Meet me at my penthouse at 11 am. Bring coffee.
Dan knew that resistance was futile. He leaned over and set his alarm clock. Back to the real world, Dan groggily thought to himself.
As ordered, Dan arrived at Blair's penthouse promptly a 11 am. Dorota greeted him and told him that Miss Blair would meet him in the living room. He sat down on the sofa and leaned his head back, closing his eyes. Between packing his things and getting on an early jitney, Dan hadn't been able to sleep much.
Dan dozed off briefly, but was awakened by a push to his shoulder. "Humphrey, there's a reason I told you to bring coffee. I didn't think I had to instruct you to drink it," Blair said tersely.
Dan opened his eyes and looked blearily at Blair. "Some of us need actual sleep to survive," he told her. Then he smiled. "Welcome home."
"Thank you," Blair said primly, taking a seat in a nearby chair.
"How was your flight?"
"I'm here, aren't I?" Blair shifted in her seat uncomfortably.
There was an awkward moment of silence. Dan desperately wanted to fill the silence, but was at a loss for words. He had no idea why Blair was back two weeks early nor why she had summoned him to her home.
"Did you want to watch a movie?" Dan finally asked.
Blair gave him a strange look. "Do you think we need a movie to have something to talk about? We didn't always have a movie this summer."
Dan shrugged. "It seemed maybe we needed an icebreaker."
There was another long moment of silence. "I broke my engagement," Blair said in a rush, looking at the floor.
Dan looked closely at her, trying to gauge her mood. "Are you okay?" he asked softly.
Blair looked up at him and smiled slightly. "I'm good. I just started to think of everything that I was giving up, my home, school, friends...It was too much," Blair said, looking relatively calm.
Dan bristled, but he had to ask. "It wasn't..."
Blair cut him off. "No, it wasn't about him. That's really over now."
Dan wasn't entirely convinced, but he decided not to push the subject further. "Are you sure you don't want to watch a movie?"
"I couldn't even if I wanted to. I'm meeting Nate for lunch in 15 minutes," Blair said briskly. "You didn't think I'd clear my whole day for you?"
Dan rolled his eyes. "Of course not. I'm glad I came back from the Hamptons for the half hour you allotted me."
"Just be glad Serena's out of town, or it might have been 15 minutes."
Dan laughed, shaking his head. "I missed you, Waldorf," he said without thinking.
If Dan didn't know better, he'd think she looked touched. The corners of her mouth turned up slightly, and her eyes misted for a split second. Then her expression shifted to the wide smile he was used to, the one that didn't quite reach her eyes.
"Run along. I know you don't want me to keep Nate waiting," Blair said as she stood up and abruptly left the room.
"I'll show myself out," Dan said to the empty room.
Dan went back to the loft, unsure of what to do with himself. He had spontaneously ended his Hamptons getaway when Blair texted him, figuring it was probably time to head back. Classes started in a couple of weeks. Eric had even left two weeks earlier to spend time with Lily.
Dan tried to read, but found he had trouble concentrating. Plus, his eyes kept drifting shut. He finally succumbed to his tiredness and sprawled out on the couch for a nap.
He was jarred out of his nap by the buzz of his phone. Dan groaned and picked it up. It was another message from Blair.
Meet me at Veselka at 6 pm. Film Forum after.
Dan looked at the words like they were in another language. He quickly typed a response.
Veselka? Seriously? I thought we were past plausible deniability and hiding out.
Dan's phone buzzed quickly with a reply.
Not hiding out. You know I love pierogies!
Dan stared at his phone again, then shrugged. It was easy to miss sarcasm in a text message. Anyhow, why look a gift horse in the mouth?
Okay. See you at 6.
When Dan arrived at Veselka, he was surprised to find Blair standing at the entrance waiting for him. He would have expected her to be already seated, decreasing the likelihood of someone spotting them from the street.
Blair smiled at him when he approached her. "Thanks for coming. Did you get a chance to rest up this afternoon?"
Dan tilted his head slightly and narrowed his eyes, trying to detect any hidden meaning in her words. Maybe jet lag made her extra accommodating.
"I did. Thanks for the invitation," Dan said, deciding to play along with the politeness for as long as it lasted. They were then led to a table. They quickly ordered and sat in silence for a few moments.
"You seemed to be clamoring for a movie this morning, so I thought this might make it up to you. I'm sorry I had already made plans when you came all the way across town to see me," Blair said apologetically.
Dan shrugged. "You've come all the way across town just to yell at me for five minutes, so I figured it was the least I could do."
Blair smiled her wide smile again, and laughed, lightly swatting at his arm. "Dan, you're exaggerating. I would never do that," she said lightly, the smile still on her face.
Dan looked at her skeptically. "Whatever you say, Waldorf."
The morning after his strange evening out with Blair, Dan's phone woke him from a deep sleep. Dan reached over and looked at the Caller ID. Blair. Of course.
"Blair, what do you have against sleep exactly?"
"I'm sorry. I didn't wake you, did I?" She sounded genuinely contrite, but Dan was getting tired of the constant interruptions to his sleep.
"No, I always wake up at 7:30 am when I have nowhere to be," Dan said grumpily.
"I can call back later. I just had a full day planned for us, and I wanted to get started," Blair told him.
"No, we can talk. I'm relatively awake now. What exactly do you have planned? If it involves shopping, count me out," Dan told her.
"What would make you think I made plans for us to shop?"
"Well, you did once tell me the worst part of having to hide our friendship was that you couldn't take me shopping. You said that I would be a great shopping companion because I could carry a lot more bags than Dorota," Dan reminded her.
Blair laughed. "I can't imagine I ever said that. Where do you come up with these things?"
"If it doesn't involve shopping, what are you planning?" Dan remained suspicious.
"It's a surprise. I'll be at the loft in an hour."
"Okay. Just bring coffee."
When Dan opened the door to the loft an hour later, he was left dumbstruck by the sight in front of him. There stood Blair Waldorf looking like he'd never seen her. Her hair in a sloppy ponytail, she was wearing skinny jeans, flats, a billowy cotton shirt and three scarves of varying patterns.
Dan relieved her of one of the coffee cups and escorted her inside. He continued to stare.
"Did I spill coffee on shirt? It was hard to balance the cups on the subway," she said, looking down at her shirt in distress.
"You took the subway?"
Blair shrugged. "It was rush hour. Just because we're not in school doesn't mean the rest of the world isn't working."
Dan continued to gape at her.
"Dan, maybe you need to drink your coffee. You seem like you're not quite awake," she said nicely.
Dan nodded slowly. "Yeah, that might be it."
They moved to sit on the couch, sitting a safe distance apart. "Why don't you go ahead and tell me your plans for me while the caffeine kicks in."
Blair gave him a huge grin. "You are going to show me Brooklyn! We really never went out exploring, so there's a lot I haven't seen. I spent last night researching and I made an itinerary," Blair told him shoving a piece of paper in his hand.
He looked over the page which was filled with activities. "We didn't even get out of the movie until almost 11 o'clock, and you called me at 7:30 this morning. You really don't sleep, do you?" Dan asked incredulously.
Blair still had the big smile glued on her face. "I sleep as needed. My internal clock is still skewed from Monaco anyhow."
Dan looked down at the list again and back up at Blair. He felt tired even thinking of it. "Could we possibly squeeze in breakfast? I think I'll need all the energy I can get to play tour guide."
Blair reached into her oversized tote bag and pulled out a sack and handed it to him. Inside were several pastries.
"You can eat on the way. We have a big day ahead!" Blair said sunnily, pulling him off the couch.
Exhausted from their Brooklyn day tour, Dan offered to call Blair a cab. She had refused, saying the subway would be faster. Dan wasn't sure what was more exhausting: that day's activities or trying to figure out what Blair was thinking. He was beginning to worry about her.
Standing in front of the stairs to the subway, Dan leaned down and gently kissed her forehead. "You know, if you want to talk about anything, I'm hear," he told her softly.
She looked confused. "What do you mean?"
"It's just that you've been acting...strangely," Dan told her, not knowing how else to describe it.
"I'm just a little jetlagged is all. Sorry if I'm not quite at full speed yet."
Dan laughed. "I don't know if I could keep up you at full speed. It's just...you've spent the past two days planning outings around my interests. That's not generally been our pattern."
"Are you saying I've been selfish?" Blair asked, looking hurt. "Maybe after everything that happened I realized I was young and I needed to try and experience new things, things outside my comfort zone."
Dan suddenly felt guilty for questioning her. "Hey, I didn't mean anything by that. I was just worried about you. What are you doing tomorrow? We can do anything you want, and I won't say a word."
Blair smiled at him. "I actually was going to suggest we finally go to the Joseph Bueys exhibit before it ends."
Dan laughed. "Are you sure that's what you want to do? We can even go shopping if you want, so long as you don't try and dress me."
Her smile fell again, and Dan desperately wanted to take his words back. He was hoping she'd take the opening to insult his clothes, but instead it looked like he hurt her again.
"No, I want to go the exhibit. I think I read your New York Magazine article ten times while I was in Monaco. I've been convinced."
"Okay, I will see you tomorrow. Text me specifics."
"See you tomorrow. Goodnight, Dan," Blair said as she leaned up and kissed him on the cheek. With that, she walked down the subway stairs with him staring after her.
Blair's actions were confusing him more than ever. She'd seemed relatively normal but distant when he saw her at the penthouse. He'd decided that things changed after her lunch with Nate, so he invited Nate out for coffee to figure out what was going on.
After spending some time catching up, Dan decided to cut to the chase. "So, you and Blair had lunch the other day, right?" Dan asked.
Nate shrugged. "Yeah, why? Are you jealous or something?" Nate grinned to show he was teasing.
"No, it's not that. She's just been acting weird ever since then. I was wondering if something happened."
"Not really," Nate said, looking confused. Nate then looked lost in thought for a moment before his eyes went wide and a huge grin spread across his face.
"What?" Dan asked suspiciously.
"How exactly has she been weird?" Nate asked, smiling even wider.
"She's wanted to do something every single day, and it's always something she thinks I want to do. And she's been very...agreeable," Dan finished, knowing it sounded bizarre to complain about someone being nice to you.
"She likes you!" Nate said gleefully.
"What?" Dan stared at Nate in shock.
Nate just laughed heartily and repeated himself. "She likes you!"
"What makes you think that?" Dan asked, still in disbelief.
"When we went to lunch, she asked if I had seen much of you since I'd been back. I told her I hadn't, but I was going to try and set you up with this girl I met who I thought you'd like. She tried to talk me out of it," Nate recounted.
"What exactly did she say?"
Nate sighed, trying to remember. "She said that as your friend, she couldn't let me set you up because we both lacked any kind of psycho radar. I told her she had a point," Nate shrugged.
"Yeah, I said you'd really like this girl because she was also from Brooklyn and really down to earth. Blair told me I was wrong, and that you preferred higher class girls like Serena. I told her that she was wrong, because you were the crazy person who dumped a movie star for Vanessa," Nate said, shaking his head. "I still can't believe you did that before I got to go visit the set."
"Sorry about that," Dan said rolling his eyes.
"Anyhow," Nate said huffily, "Blair then got that look on her face like she was planning something, and changed the subject."
Dan smiled fondly. He knew that look. Things made a bit more sense now. "She did dress like a Vanessa/Serena hybrid the other day. She's also only referring to me by my first name."
"Because she likes you!"
Dan groaned, still not sure how to handle the situation. "Any advice?"
Nate shrugged. "Do you like her?"
Dan blushed and nodded sheepishly.
Nate was silent for a beat, thinking. "She's trying to be like you to make you like her. You could act like it's the end of Grease and try to change for her."
"I don't think I can pull off a skintight leather bodysuit. Maybe I'll just wait her out until she snaps out of this phase. I don't know how to broach the subject when she's not acting like herself," Dan said.
"You might be waiting a really long time. Blair can be...intense when she likes someone," Nate warned him.
"I don't know what else to do."
Nate just shook his head at him. "I'm telling you, go for the leather bodysuit plan."
After the Joseph Bueys exhibit, Dan and Blair went out for coffee. Between all the coffee and Blair's phone calls, Dan wondered how he managed to sleep at all.
"Thank you for going with me today. You were right, I did really enjoy it," Blair told him.
"Uh, you're welcome. I'm glad you suggested it. I don't know why I didn't go on my own before now, but I'm glad we finally were able to go together, " Dan said sincerely.
"Me too," Blair said softly, not meeting his eyes.
Dan reached for her hand and lightly squeezed it. "I'm really glad you're back. Eric's great, but it was getting pretty lonely without you or Nate in town. It's nice to have friends again and not just family."
Blair carefully withdrew her hand and looked at him, her expression unreadable. "I missed my friends this summer too. I still miss Serena," she said wistfully.
"Are you using me as a Serena replacement?" Dan said lightly.
"Are you?" she said quickly in return.
Dan stared at her in horror. In all honesty, he hadn't even thought about Serena outside of the occasional updates from his family.
"I'm sorry, that just slipped out. Jetlag, you know," Blair said. They both ignored the fact that she'd been back nearly a week.
Blair cleared her throat. "So, what are you doing tomorrow?"
Dan groaned and rolled his eyes. "I'm going to some club to check out a band with my dad. I've been telling him all week that the leather jacket is completely inappropriate for him at his age, but is especially inappropriate in August."
"That sounds like fun," Blair said. Dan gave her an appraising look. She didn't sound like she was being sarcastic.
"I guess so. Hopefully the band's good. I don't get to see live music as much as I'd like with all the galas and charity events, so it will be a nice change," Dan said.
"We could go to a club sometime," Blair said.
"Uh, you don't have to. It looks like I'll be going quite a bit with my dad, so I'll get to go more often."
"Maybe I want to. Where's the show tomorrow?"
"Uh, somewhere in midtown. Did you want to go?" Dan was pretty sure an evening out with Blair and his father at a club was a terrible idea.
"You don't want me there?" Blair asked.
Dan sighed. "It's not that. You do know we're going to a loud, likely grungy club with my dad. You've met him,right? Rufus Humphrey, my lame 90s dad?"
"I know your father. I just thought it would be another chance to broaden my horizons, but if you think it would be too weird..." Blair trailed off.
The truth was he did think it would be extremely weird, not to mention awkward. He was beginning to realize that Nate was probably right.
Dan started to formulate a plan even as he answered, "No, of course not. I just wanted to make sure you knew what you are getting yourself into. It will be fun to go see a band with you."
Time for the leather bodysuit, Dan thought to himself. He wondered why he ever doubted Nate.
Dan arrived at Blair's penthouse feeling hot and flustered. Perhaps the black suit had been a bad idea in August.
Blair came down her stairs to meet him, and her eyes got large and then she looked down at her own attire. Dan smiled as he took in her appearance, looking really good but decidedly underdressed in her leather skirt and silky red halter top.
"What the hell kind of club is this, Humphrey?" she asked tersely. He observed her as she composed herself, taking a deep breath and continuing, "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to snap at you. It just looks like I'm underdressed. You look very nice, by the way." He noticed her staring at the top of his head. He knew it was killing her not to comment on what the humidity had done to his hair.
"We're not going to a club. I changed our plans," Dan told her.
"Why did you do that?" Blair asked, confused.
"I decided I wanted to try and experience new things. There is a towncar waiting for us downstairs, complete with champagne. I would suggest you change into something appropriate for seeing a runway show followed by dinner at Butter," Dan told her, smiling.
Blair continued to look at him like he grew another head. "What runway show are we seeing?"
Dan looked sheepish. "I actually don't remember. The tickets are in the car. My si...a little birdie assured she's one of the hottest young designers in town."
Blair seemed to snap out of her daze and rolled her eyes. "You're taking me to a show you know nothing about, upon advice from Jenny Humphrey? I spent all night researching Brooklyn for you!"
Dan just laughed at her, his face lighting up. "Go get changed. I'm more into spontaneous grand gestures than carefully calculated courting," he teased her.
"Whatever," she scoffed. "Let me go get changed before that towncar turns into a pumpkin."
"That's not out of the realm of possibilities," Dan said to her back as she huffily walked up the stairs. "I'd hurry if I were you."