So now Chuck knows! And if you're wondering what he's going to do with that information you will soon find out.

I'm excited that people were happy to see Evil Uncle Jack! Especially since he's not done quite yet. He's got a few more scenes coming up before this story wraps up. Malcolm, however, will not be the subject of a big showdown.

Blair felt a familiar feeling in the pit of her stomach as she approached the door to Chuck's office. Were those butterflies fluttering in her stomach? He had texted her and told her to come over. He needed to talk. She wasn't sure what he wanted to talk to her about but she couldn't quench the feeling of hope. It couldn't be about Malcolm since they already knew he wasn't around at the moment and their takedown and been postponed. Hopefully what he wanted to talk to her about was something of a much more personal nature.. She had gotten a highly unwanted proclamation of love earlier in the day. Getting a highly wanted one in the afternoon would be the perfect way to turn her day around.

She smiled at Alice, his secretary, who told her she could go right in. Just like last time. Blair stopped outside his door and took a deep breath, letting the air out of her lungs before she opened the door and stepped inside.

Chuck was over by a window, looking out on New York with his hands in his back pockets. His suit jacket was on his chair and his sleeves rolled up to his elbows. He didn't usually roll his sleeves up like that but she liked it. She wondered if he did that often these days and added it to the ever growing list of things she wanted to rediscover about him.

He turned his head when he heard her enter. She smiled slightly at him, glad to be alone with him for a moment. Once she was inside the office he walked over to her and with a hand on her back urged her further inside the office.

"You will never guess who it turns out is behind all of this" he said.

Blair's jaw fell.

"You figured it out? How? Who?"

"John Bass Jr., aka sleazy Uncle Jack."

Blair gaped and blinked, trying to wrap her mind around this new piece of information. This was probably the last thing she had expected.

"Jack Bass? All of this was courtesy of your insane uncle?"

"Apparently going after you to get to me never gets old" Chuck sighed.

"Well what… What did he…"

Blair stuttered, unable to phrase a question or even a coherent thought. Jack was the last person in the world she had expected to be involved in any of this.

"Don't worry" Chuck said. "Jack's been neutralized. I don't think he's ever going to bother you again now that he's realized it's far from the most efficient way of getting under my skin."


"Finding Jack out and eliminating him as a problem is not the only thing I've done today" Chuck said. "I removed Malcolm's leverage. He no longer has anything on you and I am prepared to pay him a great deal of money to keep it that way."

"I could pay him myself if that's what-"

"Not enough to overbid Jack" Chuck said. "I know our whole quest was about avoiding having to pay him… Trust me though it works out better this way."

Blair nodded slightly, too stunned by the information she had gotten to protest. She looked at Chuck who was standing by his desk rolling his sleeves back down. Something he had just said occurred to her and her heart started to pound. He finished with his sleeves and put his hands on his hips, glancing over at her.

"What did you mean when you say you took away Malcolm's leverage?" she asked.

Chuck looked at her in a way that made her heart sink to her shoes.

"I found out your secret" he said.

Panic welled up inside her. She had waited too long. Now he had found out on his own. What would she say? What would she do? There was nothing she could say to justify her actions. The moment she had been dreading was here now and she had to face the music.

"Chuck I-"

"I know about your child" he said. "Blair I… I don't even know what to say."

"Neither do I" Blair said in a small voice.

"You poor thing."

Blair blinked. Why was his voice sounding sympathetic? Why was he not furiously angry with her?

"I can't even imagine… what you must have been through these past few years" he continued. "Having to carry that burden by yourself. Having to worry about your secret being exposed without feeling like you could confide in any of us these past few days. Now I understand why you stayed in France and didn't come back to New York."

"It has been difficult to not be able to talk about it with you guys. Dan's the only one who's known; he found out about it while I was still pregnant."

"Guess that explains why you've wanted to keep him around."

"Chuck I…"

"If Louis were ever to find out…"

Blair frowned, deeply confused over what was going on.

"No wonder you've been scared that this secret would come out" Chuck continued. "No wonder you were fighting so hard to protect the secret of someone you love… the person who means the world to you."

"You don't understand" Blair said.

"No I do" Chuck said. "If Louis finds out… If this should ever become public, that you have a child with him… That kid would no longer be yours. The child would belong to the media, to the people of Monaco, to the Grimaldis. You left Louis for a reason; I do not know what that reason was but you didn't want to share your life with him. If your child's existence is ever made known Louis and his family will demand to have their progeny. The child will have to move to Monaco and be raised by them to possibly one day take the throne. That is a lot of pressure on a small child and it effectively means your means of raising this child the way you want to have been taken away. Who knows if they'll even let you see the child much?"

"They're not that bad people" Blair said, feeling she needed to defend them.

"You could lose a whole lot if Louis ever found out about his child" Chuck said. "I understand that, believe me I do. I want to help and protect you. But Blair you cannot do this."

Blair was too shocked to say anything worthwhile. He believed Sebastian was Louis' child. He knew her secret but he only knew half of it. She had to set him straight but he needed to stop talking first so she could figure out how to say it.

"Louis has a right to know about his child" Chuck said softly but she could hear he meant his words with a passion. "There is a person out there that he fathered and not sharing that with him is cruel, no matter how well intended. I know it's not my place to force your hand or even tell you what to do and I won't reveal your secret to him, I promise. I just want you to think this over. I grew up without my mother, always feeling the loss of the parent I didn't get to have in my life. Whether my mother was Evelyn who died at childbirth or Elizabeth who gave me up and made my father lie to me about it, I didn't get to know the woman who gave birth to me as I grew up. I'm imploring you to not do to your child what my father may have done to me. Don't deny that person, the one who means the world to you, the right to know their father. Trust me, it will be a gaping hole in that child's heart. You may not want Louis to know the child but I assure you, you want the child to know Louis."

"It's not that easy" Blair said in a small voice.

"Please Blair" Chuck said. "Every man who fathers a child deserves to know about it. But more importantly every child deserves to know who their parents are. And not just see a picture of that person, to know them."

"I know" Blair said with a trembling voice.

"Look I know you must be scared… Just trust me. You cannot keep the truth from Louis, and from your child, any longer. I promise I will stand by you once the truth comes out and I will do everything in my power to help you keep your child. You shouldn't have to feel afraid of telling the truth."

Blair wiped away a tear that had fallen down her cheek. She had been feeling horrible concealing the truth from Chuck since before Sebastian was even born. She hadn't thought she could feel worse about it but now she knew different. Chuck's instance that a child should know their parent and vice versa hit home even further what a great deception she had committed and how badly the truth would hurt him. She knew it couldn't be easy for him to believe she had a child with Louis, an eternal link to her former fiancé, yet he insisted she tell the child's father the truth. It would have been so much easier if he had defended her decision and told her she had made the right choice. At least if he had done that then she could hope that he would see why she had kept Sebastian from him and maybe be able to forgive her. As things were he would probably hate her with a passion and the thought made her sick.

"Hey…" he said gently, noticing her tears.

He walked up to her and pulled her close, embracing her and gently shushing her. It was meant to be supportive and comforting but all she could think about was how this may be the last time he held her in his arms. The thought fueled more tears and she broke down crying. Chuck rocked her gently and held her even closer.

"It's okay…" he mumbled in her ear. "It's alright. I'm right beside you. If you tell Louis the truth and he demands to have his child I will dig up the best lawyers and pay them ungodly amounts of money to help you win custody. Louis and your child deserve the truth but you are that kid's anchor, their whole world. I will fight with you in any way you need."

Blair sobbed in his arms. None of his reassurances helped her in the slightest, they only made her feel much worse. She almost wished he had found out the whole truth and not just parts of it. Having to tell him that the father he was speaking of was actually himself was more difficult than she could have ever imagined.

They ended up in Chuck's and Nate's apartment. The reason was to celebrate Blair's crisis being over but Blair didn't feel much like celebrating. She hadn't told Chuck the whole truth. She hadn't been able to. She had wanted to but before she had been able to gather her wits Nate had called and the opportunity had passed.

She felt like such a hypocrite now and like an even worse person than before. She had been given the opportunity to come clean and she hadn't. Earlier on she had tried to tell herself that she hadn't had a chance to tell Chuck the truth yet but now she didn't have that fake reassurance any longer. Now Chuck knew about her child and he had made his opinion quite clear yet Blair continued to lie to him. Even if he found out before the day was over she had still lied about it well after the point when she was out of excuses.

"Come on B, cheer up" Serena said, putting an arm around her and handing her a champagne flute. "Chuck may have handled this on his own and robbed us of our takedown but the important thing is that Malcolm is no longer a threat."

Blair forced herself to smile.

"Girls?" Nate said. "Come on, let's have a toast and then celebrate by getting drunk and doing stupid things, like when we were teens."

"Getting drunk and doing stupid things at our age probably means having an orgy" Chuck teased.

"Like when we were teens" Serena teased.

"Let's get drunk and do stupid things that aren't suggested by Chuck!" Nate grinned, giving Chuck a pat on the back just as Chuck was about to take a sip from his flute, which resulted in the latter spilling champagne on himself.

"Maybe we can get drunk and send Nate off to the dry cleaner's in his underwear" Chuck suggested dryly.

Serena laughed and clinked her flute to Nate's and then Chuck's. Blair ran her finger lightly over the brim of the glass and looked at her friends with mixed feelings. She wanted to tell them how much she loved them and what great friends they were. But all she could seem to think about was Chuck and Sebastian. She forced herself to get a grip. She had gotten herself into this whole mess all on her own by keeping her son a secret. Her friends had done their best to help her out even though they most certainly didn't have to. She could never tell them just how grateful she was to have them as her friends but she could at least try.

"Thank you" she said and the other three stopped talking amongst themselves and turned to look at her. "Thank you all… so very much. You guys don't know how much this means to me that you have helped me. You don't know what you have protected. I could never thank you enough. I love you all. I really do. I may have been in radio silence for several years but you guys never stopped being my best friends."

Nate, Chuck and Serena shared a look. Then Nate turned to Blair with a smile.

"I was going for a festive mood, not a sentimental one" he scolded her in jest. He walked over and gave her a big hug. "You ruined my plans, Waldorf." He kissed her cheek and hugged her close again. "You've been missed these four years. I hope you know that. And we're here for you whenever you need anything. Especially Serena, 'cause we've saved her ass so many times she owes us for life."

"Hey!" Serena objected with a laugh. She walked over and elbowed Nate out of the way to hug Blair. "I love you" she said. "Don't listen to Nate. You are now in debt to me and what you owe me is to stay in New York. I need my best friend back. These two clowns may be good in a pinch but a girl needs her bestie."

She pulled back from the hug and her eyes met Nate's. She smiled warmly at him and when he returned her smile she felt her heart skip a beat. Then they both turned and looked at Chuck who slowly came over and stopped in front of Blair. Nate and Serena automatically took a step back to give him room and he kissed Blair's forehead and pulled her in for a hug. He hugged her with affection but with less warmth than the other two, feeling a bit awkward and worried that the lines might get blurred in the midst of all this emotion.

Blair felt just as awkward as he did. She felt like she was putting up a charade and she was so damn tired of it. She could sense he wasn't entirely comfortable in the moment either and on top of everything else it made her worry that his mind was more on his girlfriend right now than on her.

"Alright, alright" Nate said, breaking up their hug. "If we get any more emotional we're going to start bawling."

"If that happens I fear my manliness will be lost forever" Chuck joked. "Nathaniel go put on some music or something. If you ladies excuse me I'm going to go change out of this suit."

He walked off to his bedroom to go change. Blair took a seat in an armchair and realized she was still holding her flute. She took a sip from it and then set it down on the coffee table, not in the mood for champagne. Serena sat down on the couch and pulled her feet up under her, her smile getting wider when Nate sat down on the couch as well. Blair noted how he sat down next to Serena even though there was lots of space and she smiled slightly. Nate's and Serena's love lives were low on her list of priorities at the moment but it was nice to see the two of them goofily happy.

"So Blair, what now?" Nate asked. "You're free as a bird, crisis averted. How will you celebrate? Going to Disneyland?"

She knew he was poking fun at clichés but it made her cringe. She would love to take Sebastian to Disneyland in a year or so. His comment hit a little too close to home.

"Oh I think I'm just going to kick back and wait for the next time our call signal lights up in the sky" she joked half-heartedly.

They made an effort to carry out a conversation but it soon became clear to Blair that she was superfluous. Nate and Serena kept glancing at each other and soon seemed to be talking only to one another. When Chuck returned Blair was relieved to see him and she got up from her seat to go over to him.

"You're not wearing a suit" she remarked.

"I was feeling nostalgic."

She smiled. His current attire reminded her of the way he dressed in high school, before he crawled into an expensive suit and decided to stay there. She had often missed his creative sense of style from way back when and was glad to have another glimpse of it. He was wearing bright yellow chinos and a forest green cashmere sweater with matching shoes. It made him look younger somehow.

"I see the goofy golden retrievers have gone into their own little world" he said in a lowered voice, nodding towards the duo on the couch.

"Malcolm could have walked in here and kidnapped me while you were changing and they might not have noticed."

"Hey Nathaniel!" Chuck said. "Nice choice of music."

"What?" Nate said, tearing his eyes from Serena.

"We may have gotten a bit older but we're not middle-aged" Chuck said. "Chicago's greatest hits? Really?"

"I love Chicago" Serena said with a playful pout.

"Figures. You always did have lousy taste."

Serena ignored him and turned back to Nate with a goofy grin on her face. Chuck leaned in closer to Blair and she felt a whiff of his cologne. Not the same one he had used four years ago. She wondered which one it was.

"What do you say we let these two tragic lovebirds have some privacy?" he said in a conspiring tone.

Blair nodded. She was really glad for Serena's sake that Nate seemed to return her affections. She wasn't sure what had changed with Nate from one day to another but whatever the reason it was nice to see that things might turn out well for them.

"Blair you haven't been here before, have you?" Chuck said in a loud tone, designed to let the other two overhear.


"I'm going to give Blair a tour. You guys want to come along?"

"Bye Bass" Nate said. "Just don't give her an unchaperoned tour of your bedroom."

Chuck shot him a glare and then walked off to another room with Blair in tow. He gave her a tour of the large apartment and Blair thought it was a step up from the Empire penthouse. It had two large bedrooms and one guest room, a study, a large kitchen, a dining room and a spacious living room. Every room seemed to have been meticulously styled and decorated though Chuck refrained from telling her that the decorator was Emmy. Blair noted that it was both stylish and inviting but she didn't comment much during the tour, trying to gather her courage to speak to him now that they were alone. The courage didn't seem to come and before she knew it he had showed her the whole apartment.

When the tour was over they returned to the living room where Nate and Serena were still flirting wildly but apparently hadn't gotten to first base yet. Chuck rolled his eyes and decided there was one more place Blair hadn't seen. He lead her out on the large balcony connected to the living room and Blair took in the view of the city below them. Chicago was playing "25 or 6 to 4" on the stereo and they could hear the occasional laugh from Serena. Aside from that the only sounds came from the wind and the city below.

There was silence between them at first. Blair couldn't even look at him in the first few minutes, overwhelmed by memories of another time they had stood by a banister overlooking the city with a light wind blowing. It had been her seventeenth birthday and he had admitted to having butterflies. That had been the real start of them. The night in the limo could have been a one-time thing, an amazing event between two close friends who then went back to being just friends. When the butterflies had entered the picture everything had changed.

She looked up at him. Chuck smiled warmly at her.

"You're a mama" he said. "I haven't really comprehended it yet. It's… overwhelming to think about."

Blair swallowed and looked down at her hands. Now was the time.

"About that. Chuck I-"

"God, I'm sorry" Chuck said. "I don't know what I was thinking. Nate and Serena still don't know and we shouldn't talk about it where they can overhear us. It's not exactly an ideal way for them to find out about it."

"There's something I need to tell you" Blair said.

Chuck nodded and she knew she had his full attention. Then a loud shrieking laughter courtesy of Serena interrupted them and Blair felt about ready to go inside, grab Serena by what was left of her hair and Nate by his beard and drag them to Nate's bedroom. They could stay there until this conversation was over. Maybe if they were locked together in a room with a bed they might actually get somewhere in the progression of their relationship.

Chuck laughed a little and Blair drew in a deep breath to gather courage.

"Doesn't this bring back memories?" he said.

She frowned and then let her breath out. What was he talking about?

"I think I could still play a few chords from this song on the piano if you gave me a moment to remember them."

She stared at him with confusion. Then he hummed a few bars and she realized he was talking about the song currently playing. The hint of a smile spread across her face. She knew exactly what memories he had referred to. She had been reminded of that very same thing when he played on the piano the other day.

It was one of her favorite memories from the summer when they were dating. They had been out to a club and gone back to her mother's penthouse. It had just been the two of them there, Eleanor and Cyrus had been in Paris and Dorota had been on vacation. They had stumbled off the elevator, giggling, and somewhat unsteadily made their way to the nearest place to sit. Or at least that had been the intention. The couch and divan were closer but Chuck had ended up by the piano and Blair had dropped down on his lap and kissed him hungrily until her elbow ended up on the keys, disrupting them.

Even though they had both been drunk they remembered the events of that evening very clearly. Blair had teasingly complained that he wasn't old Hollywood romantic enough and never professed his love for her in song. That had lead to about five minutes of giggling and bantering which had ended with Chuck playing what he assumed were the opening chords to "You're the Inspiration" but if he had been sober he would have realized he wasn't exactly on key.

Blair and Chuck shared a look out on the balcony, both of them reliving the same memories. Chuck had begun to sing the song to her but couldn't remember all the lyrics so Blair had filled in the gaps. They had sung the choruses together at the top of their lungs, thinking at the time that it sounded great but realizing afterwards that it probably sounded awful. The whole thing had ended with the two of them laughing for several minutes at how trite they thought the song was and then somehow ending up on the floor where they had fumbling sex.

"Thank God poor Dorota was not home that night…" Chuck said with a little laugh. "Having to hear us completely butcher that song and then having to hear us have messy, drunken sex while whoever happened to be at the bottom at the time whined about how uncomfortable the floor was… The woman is a saint but even she would lose her patience with that."

"Those were good times…" Blair smiled.

"They were, weren't they? We had some really great times, you and me."

Blair nodded and decided to breach another difficult subject as a warm-up.

"I'm guessing… you never serenade your girlfriend, huh?"

"She hates Chicago. She'd probably hate them more in my rendition."

"You know I… I'm happy for you. I'm glad you're doing alright. The things Nate told me right after I left Monaco had me worried."

Chuck's smile was gone.

"What did Nate tell you?"

"That you were in a really bad place. He was concerned for you and that made me concerned. I'm glad you were able to…"

She couldn't bring herself to finish the sentence. She was glad he wasn't miserable but she would be lying if she said she was glad that he had moved on. Chuck's eyes had darkened and he had a very disapproving look in them.

"What is Nate doing talking to you about how I feel?" he asked. "I wasn't at the top of the world at that time but I don't need anybody's pity."

"It's not pity" Blair said. "The thought of what you must have been feeling at that time is just… I never wanted my happiness to be at the expense of yours."

"I know."

"Now you are happy. I've only met Emmy for a brief moment but if she makes you happy then she… she has my stamp of approval" she said, partly sincere and partly not.

"You sure about that?" Chuck teased. "You don't want to claw her eyes out?"

She gave him a playful smack on the arm.

"You are not all that irresistible" she teased.

Another loud shrieking laughter from Serena interrupted them. Chuck rolled his eyes, then laughed.

"What do you say we close the door on loudmouth in there?"

Blair nodded and laughed as Chuck pulled the door close to block out Serena, Nate and the music.

Inside on the couch Nate and Serena were locked in a gaze. Nate's hand moved up to move a strain of hair from her face and ended up resting on her cheek. Serena could barely breathe. Nate had apologized to her for going along with flirting up the bartender and that was enough to convince Serena that he really did like her back still. The two of them had gotten back to where they had been before Blair returned to New York and now they were about to kiss again. Only this time it would be a real, honest kiss that made their feelings for each other clear. When they made out the weekend before Blair's return they had been drunk and since neither of them had dared to move forward with it the next day they had both acted as if it was just a bit of harmless, drunken fun. This moment however was for real.

Nate leaned in closer to her and she closed her eyes, almost gasping with anticipation. Just as his lips brushed hers there was a loud knock on the door. They both groaned and Serena opened her eyes. She wanted to ignore whoever was at the door but there was another knock and it was clear that the moment was ruined.

"Please get rid of whoever that is" Serena pleaded.

"We're of one mind" Nate replied.

He leaned in and placed a quick, light kiss on her lips before getting up and walking over to answer the door. There was yet another round of knocks before he got there and when he opened it he found Dan standing there.

"Now is not a good time" Nate said.

"Why are you not answering your phone?" Dan asked.

"I have the sound switched off. I'm in the middle of something."

"Look I know it's running late and you have things to do but I really need to talk" Dan said, walking inside without waiting for an invitation. "Something's happened. I did something this morning and at first I thought everything was okay but now I… Well I need to talk to somebody about it."

"Why not pick up the phone and call your sister?" Nate suggested. "Or hey, go talk to Rufus. He's always all ears."

"No I can't talk to either of them about this."

"Then go online, find a chat room. They have those for all kinds of problems these days. I'm sure you'll find a solution there."

"Why are you being weird?" Dan asked.

Without waiting for an answer he walked further inside the apartment. He was getting more and more frustrated by the minute and needed to tell somebody about his declaration of love to Blair, the way she had responded and his analysis of the situation. There was nobody better to talk to than Nate, who knew Blair since childhood and would be able to confirm or deny his theories about her behavior.

He stopped when he reached the living room and found Serena curled up on the couch. He hadn't been expecting to see her there.

"Oh" he said. "Hi…"

"Hello Dan" she said.

"You, uhm… I didn't expect to see you here."

"Didn't expect to see you here either."

"How was, uh… How was your takedown?"

The mentioning of the planned takedown reminded Nate, who was right at Dan's heels, about the other two people who had been present when they corked up the champagne. He frowned and looked around the room.

"Hey where did Blair and Chuck go?" he asked Serena.

"Don't ask me" Serena shrugged. "Maybe they went to take the tour of Chuck's bedroom after all…"

"Wait, what?" Dan said. "Blair and Chuck? Please tell me you're joking."

"I seriously hope that wherever they are they're not doing anything they shouldn't" Nate frowned.

"They're adults" Serena pointed out, annoyed with Nate's strong opinion in the matter. "They can do whatever they want. Including each other. Not that I think they're going to under these circumstances."

"Once they get it into their heads that they want to get animalistic together there's no telling what can happen and they would both be better off never seeing each other naked again" Nate said. "Or having any physical contact with each other's tongue. I am not sitting through another round of Blair and Chuck melodrama."

"Where is all this coming from?" Serena frowned. "You're being unfair to them. And how is this even any of our business?"

"Blair and Chuck cannot be alone together" Dan said.

"What's it to you?" Serena asked, now annoyed with both guys.

"What's it to you what it is to him?" Nate asked, upset with Serena's reaction.

"I think neither one of you have the right to have an opinion about what Blair and Chuck do when they're alone."

"Chuck should be with Emmy and no good can come out of Blair disrupting things" Nate argued.

"That's not for you to decide."

"Blair should be with anyone in the world but for Chuck" Dan said, annoyed with the insinuation that Blair would be the troublemaker. "Keep your psychotic roommate on a leash, Nate. He's the problem, not Blair."


"How the hell does it affect you if Blair wants to be with Chuck?" Serena asked.

"How the hell does it affect you if it affects Dan if Blair wants to be with Chuck?" Nate asked her in return.

"Okay, time out" Dan said. "Let's just find out where they went, shall we?"

Some of the commotion from inside made it through to Chuck and Blair out on the balcony but they wrote it off as Serena and Nate talking to each other. They didn't pay much attention to what went on inside, fully engrossed in their playful banter and enjoying each other's presence. Somehow they had ended up standing right beside one another and not a few feet apart as they had stood when they first walked out on the balcony. Blair was starting to feel very relaxed and had momentarily forgotten what they were supposed to be talking about. It felt so good to indulge in their playful banter and to just be near him. The moment felt intoxicating.

"I can't believe you still have clothes like this in your closet" Blair teased and tugged at his sweater.

"Sometimes the Phantom walks the streets like a regular person."

"I don't think that's how the quote goes."

They both laughed a little and leaned closer to each other. Their foreheads touched. Then their noses. Blair closed her eyes and let out a content, almost inaudible sigh as she tilted her head towards him for the kiss that would follow. Their first in four years. Probably the most anticipated kiss of her life.

But when all her lips found was air she opened her eyes, almost too confused for words. He had leaned away from her and sported a fairly casual expression.

"I've been needing to go to the bathroom for like half an hour" he said. "Excuse me for a moment."

He walked back inside and Blair stood there blinking like a lighthouse, utterly confused by what had just taken place. They had been about to kiss. She knew that. There was no other logical follow-up to foreheads and noses touching in the manner hers and Chuck's had. What on earth was going on? Why had he resisted her kiss?

Back inside Chuck was surprised to find Dan in his living room and stopped for a second. Dan eyed him with suspicion and Chuck glanced around the room wondering what was going on. Serena was on the couch looking pissed, Nate was nowhere to be seen. He should probably be more curious about when Dan had arrived and what was really going on but he had enough on his mind without adding anyone else to the equation.

Dan was relieved to see Chuck coming back inside without Blair following but it was a small comfort. He had seen the two of them out on the balcony just now. He had seen how close they had come to kissing and he had seen who had resisted. It hurt a lot to see Blair look at Chuck the way Dan wished she would look at him. It finally began to sink in that Blair would always look at Chuck that way. She was caught in his spell and he was low enough to string her along even though he was supposed to be in a loving relationship with somebody else. It was like he wouldn't allow Blair to move on. Dan felt heartbroken and rejected and wanted to take his disappointment out on someone. He looked over at Chuck again and wondered why he was dressed like he was back in high school.

"Nice outfit. You look like a bisexual comic book hero" he said, knowing the insult was lame but at least it was something.

"A genre you're well acquainted with, I'm sure" Chuck replied. "If you'll excuse me."

He walked off to the bathroom and Dan's eyes went back to Blair, who was all alone out on the balcony.

"Don't" Serena's voice said.

"Don't what?" he asked without taking his eyes off Blair.

"Don't go out there and talk to her. She doesn't want you Dan. You should respect that."

"She's not going to be happy with Chuck."

"Maybe not. That doesn't mean she will choose you second."

Dan finally tore his eyes from Blair and looked over at Serena. Somehow she knew about his feelings for Blair. Perhaps Blair had told her? Serena seemed quite upset with it and he wondered why that was. Could it be that Serena still had feelings for him?

Chuck leaned over the sink and splashed his face with cold water, though really it was a whole other part of his body that needed cooling down. He looked at himself in the mirror, water dripping from him. He was just as aware as Blair had been that they had been about to kiss. He had realized it just in time and pulled away and now he needed a moment to gather himself before he went back out there.

He had a strong feeling he had just missed out on what could have rivaled one of the best kisses of his life thus far, the kiss Blair had given him the first time he told her he loved her. Getting to kiss Blair again after all these years, after so much longing, would have been indescribable bliss. Still he was grateful he had been able to resist it.

He had a girlfriend. He was not about to cheat on her, no matter how much he cared for Blair. End one relationship before taking any steps towards the next one. Emmy was in the middle of a really stressful period at work right now but things were supposed to calm down after Monday. If it did he would speak to her then. It wouldn't be an easy conversation but he would end his relationship with her. It had to be done. He couldn't be this close to Blair every day and feel the mutual attraction and strong pull between them and not act on it eventually. Before that could happen things needed to be over with Emmy. As much as he loved her he loved Blair more and he knew by now that his feelings for her would never go away. When she was away he had been able to tell himself that she was just a pleasant memory and Emmy was the one for him now but now that both women were around it was clear to him what he needed to do.

He took a deep breath and slowly let it out. Then he grabbed a towel to dry himself off and left the bathroom. When he got back to the living room Nate had reappeared, looking concerned. He walked over and gave Chuck a stern look.

"Please tell me you didn't do anything with Blair that you shouldn't have" he said in a low voice.

"Please tell me you did something with Serena that you really should have" Chuck replied, mocking his low voice.

"If you allow yourself to be sucked back in to the whole Chuck and Blair thing you're going to end up with your heart broken all over again" Nate said. "Only this time Emmy's heart will be broken too."

"Why do you care so much?"

"You're my friend. Frankly picking up the pieces after your breakups with Blair got to be quite the pain in the ass."

"Nobody asked you to pick up any pieces" Chuck said. "As for Emmy and me… You should have enough faith in me to trust that I'll break up with her before I do anything with Blair, or anyone else."

"You're not thinking about breaking up with her, are you?" Nate asked in a hiss. "That would be the worst decision you could ever make!"

"Maybe you should date her if you're so damn fond of her" Chuck snarled, getting increasingly annoyed with Nate voicing an opinion of his love life.

"What are you guys whispering about?" Serena asked from her spot on the couch. She was in a very foul mood. "Look this celebration has obviously gone to hell; can't we just call it a night and go our separate ways?"

"Oh so now you don't want to stay?" Nate asked with exasperation.

"No not really."

"Well maybe you can catch a lift home with Dan and everything will be hunky dory for you" Nate griped and walked off towards his bedroom.

"What is going on in here?" Blair asked, coming back inside. "Humphrey? What the hell are you doing here? You have not been summoned."

"I came to speak to Nate. I didn't realize you would all be here."

"Well shoo!" Blair said, waving her hands as if shooing an animal.

"You heard the lady, get lost" Chuck said.

"What, you're actually kicking me out?" Dan said with disbelief.

"If the shoo fits…"

"You know what, I'm just going to go talk to Nate" Dan said and walked towards Nate's room. "That's what I came here to do anyway. But Blair, please, a word before I go?"

"Ugh, fine!" Blair said and followed him to the next room.

"Look, you seriously need to think this over" Dan said as soon as they were out of earshot. "I saw you guys out on the balcony and I'm telling you, think this through. Chuck is bad for you. If you go after him now you're only going to end up with your heart broken. Blair he is in love with another woman. He's not going to leave her, especially not once he finds out what you did. He didn't love you enough to choose you over the Empire. He damn sure doesn't love you enough to live up to your fantasies and expectations."

"Please take your petty jealousy elsewhere" Blair said.

"Forget about my feelings" Dan said, hard as it was. "Love or not, I'm still your friend. I don't want to see you getting hurt."

"I won't be" Blair said. "I have faith in Chuck. I love Chuck. Please stay out of it Dan. I'd rather take my chances and end up hurt again than miss out on something wonderful. I've been living without it for far too long already. I appreciate you looking out for me. I do. You need to understand though that there are some things you have no insight to." She sighed and shook her head. "It's been a long night. I'm going to head home. I was hoping to have another moment alone with Chuck but I don't think it's the right time after all this commotion. I'll call you tomorrow, okay?"

She walked off and Dan sighed heavily. He knocked on Nate's door and went inside, finding Nate in a really bad mood as well. Somehow he seemed to have been able to ruin everybody's day and he wasn't quite sure how that had happened.

"You know what Dan, this is really not a good time" Nate growled.

"What exactly is going on?" Dan asked. "Did you guys fail in taking down Malcolm? None of you seem very triumphant."

"I don't want to talk right now" Nate said. "Why don't you go and have a cozy heart-to-heart with Serena?"

Dan blinked, utterly confused. The more he saw and heard the more convinced he got that Serena still had feelings for him and he wasn't sure what to do with that. He was in love with Blair after all. He really wanted to talk to Nate about it but it wasn't hard to see that this was not the right time. With a sigh he left Nate's room and headed for the front door. He stopped in the hallway outside the living room where he could hear Serena and Chuck talking. He had a feeling that if he walked out into the room they would both quiet down or change the subject and he was really eager to know if something had happened during the day.

"I would never have guessed I would be in this situation a week ago" he heard Chuck say with a sigh.

"Well you're in it" Serena answered. "Question is, what are you going to do?"

She had grabbed a blanket and wrapped it around herself. Chuck was pacing slowly back and forth in the room and looked over at her with a frustrated face.

"There's only one thing I can do" he said. "I have to tell Emmy that it's over between us."

"You're going to break her heart" Serena pointed out mildly.

"You don't think I'm aware of that?" Chuck snarled. "It has to be done. I love Emmy but it's not on the same level with what I feel for Blair."

"Did something happen out on the balcony?"

Dan moved closer to hear better, on the edge of his seat to hear the answer.

"No" Chuck said. "That's not the point. The point is that I wanted something to happen. Had I been single I would have kissed Blair. I would have kissed her and this time I would not have let her go because I've had to watch her walk away far too many times already. Never again, Serena. When my feelings for her are that strong how could I possibly stay with Emmy? What I've had with her is great but it's finally dawned on me that settling won't make me happy. It won't make Emmy happy either. I don't want that for her; I want her to be with someone who loves her and only her. She should be with somebody much better than me. It's not going to be easy to break up with her but it needs to happen. I don't know if I will end up with Blair but I can't treat Emmy like a fallback option."

"If it makes you feel any better Blair still loves you" Serena said. "I honestly believe that the only thing standing between you guys right now is Emmy. If Blair is the one you really want then there's only one right choice to make."

"Emmy's not the only thing" Chuck said. "I found out about Blair's secret. It's going to pose some issues for us but I'm willing to fight for her and see this through."

"You found out what Blair's secret is?" Serena said, flabbergasted. "Tell me right now!"

"Blair has to be the one to do that."

"What? You can't just blurt out that you know what the big secret is and then not tell me!" Serena cried.

Dan barely heard the rest of the conversation. He was shocked to hear that Chuck had found out about Sebastian. What shocked him even further was that Chuck was dedicated to being with Blair and planned on breaking up with his seemingly perfect girlfriend even though he knew Blair had kept the truth from him. He didn't even sound angry over it. Dan's heart sunk to the sole of his shoes, realizing that if Chuck's love truly ran that deep then there was no way Dan could compete. Blair was fixated on having Chuck and now she was going to have her way. It didn't matter what Dan said or what Chuck did. It sickened Dan to think of how after all of this Blair would probably stay with Chuck forever no matter what he did to her, bound to him by the fact that he had forgiven her for keeping their son a secret. Dan didn't think Blair would be happy for very long but there was nothing he could do about it.

He was vaguely aware that the front door opened and closed and that things went silent. Then he realized Serena had probably left and possibly Chuck as well. There was no reason for Dan to stick around so he continued towards the front door, passing through the living room on the way. Chuck was still there, gathering the champagne flutes. Dan stopped, feeling incredibly awkward in the other man's presence. It ate away at him that he had lost to Chuck Bass, the least worthy man he could think of. He wished he knew how Chuck had found out the truth and why he wasn't more upset about it but he didn't dare to ask. He probably wouldn't get a straight answer even if he did.

"Oh, I thought you… I thought you left" he said, not knowing what else to say.

"I live here" Chuck reminded him.

"I know, I just… You know, I thought you usually stayed with uh… with your girlfriend. Uhm… Anyway I'm just going to go."

"Be on your merry way" Chuck said, sounding tired, pouring himself a glass of champagne from the still half-full bottle.

"Never passing on an opportunity to imbibe, huh?" Dan remarked, walking slowly through the room.

"It's a celebration" Chuck said. "Blair's problem has been solved, crisis is over… If there is such a thing as karma I will be rewarded for having helped her out by never having to lay eyes on you again. That's worthy of some champagne in my book."

Dan stopped in the doorway and turned around, needing to satisfy his curiosity.

"I overheard you talking to Serena. You said you had found out about Blair's secret. How… how did…"

"Jack Bass" Chuck said. "Turns out he was the one who hired Malcolm. He still thinks getting to Blair is the best way of getting to me."

"Jack? How did he know about…"

"Same way I would have if I kept tabs on Blair, I suppose" Chuck shrugged and took a gulp of champagne. "He had the birth certificate, which I assume a PI had dug up for him."

"But we…" Dan began. Then he stopped himself, realizing that Jack could have gotten a copy of the birth certificate before Blair went to collect it.

"Malcolm must be in some really deep trouble. Or else he's an idiot" Chuck remarked. "An unknown member of the Monegasque royal family would have been the scoop of his career. Unfortunately for Blair it's only a matter of time before somebody else learns about it and the story comes out."

Dan did a double-take. Chuck knew about Blair's son but he was talking about him as if he had been fathered by Louis.

"Jack showed you a birth certificate that said Louis Grimaldi is the father of Blair's child?" he asked.

"Our girl is more clever than that" Chuck said. "The father was listed as unknown."

Dan's mind worked a mile a minute. Chuck had seen the birth certificate but he didn't know who the father was. He assumed it was Louis and nobody had told him otherwise. His love and devotion for Blair might not be as strong as Dan had suspected after all. Blair probably didn't think so either since she had kept her mouth shut still even though Chuck must have confronted her about what he had learned. Now Chuck was going to break up with his girlfriend for Blair but Dan had to wonder if he would be as eager to do so if he knew the whole truth. He also wondered if deep down Blair was having second thoughts herself about Chuck and if that was the reason why she hadn't come clean to him.

Jealousy burned in him and he was filled with hatred towards this man. Chuck had never done anything to deserve Blair, or Sebastian for that matter. Why should he get to have it all? But the last word had not been said. Dan still had the opportunity to fight for what he wanted and if Chuck got crushed in the process it didn't matter much to Dan right now. He would probably regret it in the morning but he just couldn't stop himself. Chuck should not get to live happily ever after with Blair and Dan was going to make sure of that.

"Blair's child is not Louis'" he said. "If Blair told you that she is lying."

"What?" Chuck asked, sounding more irritated by his presence than surprised by what he had just said.

"Blair did give birth to a child but not one fathered by the prince of Monaco" Dan said. "The kid is yours."

Chuck slowly put the champagne bottle down and then the flute. He looked over at Dan with a mixture of confusion and growing worry.

"Humphrey what have you been smoking?"

"It's the truth and if you don't believe me get a paternity test. It's the real reason why she left Louis. Did you bother to check the birth date on the birth certificate? She gave birth nine months after your little mishap at the Plaza and she knew long before the child was born who the father was. She kept it from you. If you ask me she did the right thing."

"You're lying" Chuck said, slowly shaking his head. "Blair wouldn't do such a thing."

"Why would I lie?"

"Why would you know the truth to begin with?"

"You are the father of her child" Dan said. "It's about time you knew. What you do with that information is up to you. But there's a reason why she never told you and I don't think that spells a bright future for you guys as a couple. We both know Blair. If she wanted to raise the child with you she would have told you by now."

"Get… the hell… out" Chuck said through gritted teeth.

Dan turned on his heel and walked out of the apartment. Inside the elevator he leaned back against the wall and slowly let the air out of his lungs.

Inside the apartment Chuck's heart was beating a mile a minute. He was barely aware that he was shaking. Humphrey had to be lying. He couldn't be telling the truth. Blair would have told him a long time ago if that were the case. She would not have looked him in the eye today and let him believe that the child was Louis' if that was not the truth.

He wondered if he was being horribly disloyal to her by doubting her but at the same time he knew he needed to know for certain. He strode to his bedroom and picked up the phone he had left on the dresser. He barely noticed that he had four missed calls from Emmy, pressing the speed dial button for Mike, his most trusted PI.

"Mike I have a job for you" he said the second the other man picked up. "It's Chuck Bass. I need you to look into Blair Waldorf, specifically the child she gave birth to a few years ago. No, I didn't know she had a kid either. What I need to know is who the damn father of this kid is. And I need the information now, do you understand me? Well I don't care that it's late in the evening. I don't pay you the big bucks so you can work only comfortable hours. Now get on it and get back to me as soon as possible. Oh, and Mike? Complete discretion on this one."

He hung up and tossed the phone aside. He grabbed the dressed with both hands, breathing heavily. He looked up and met his own reflection in the mirror. Dan had to be lying. There was no other alternative.

I hope Blair didn't come off as horribly unsympathetic. I'll be the first to admit that her still not telling Chuck the whole truth is kind of contrived. My reasoning is that she really wants the three of them to have a future together as a family and she's really scared of losing her chances of that future even though Chuck has to know the truth before they can be a family at all.

As for Dan, when I outlined this chapter I made him act OOC with a specific development in mind (one not related to Chuck and the child) and now that the chapter has been written I still think he acted OOC in the last scene (which was on purpose). Ironically enough what I've seen of season five thus far makes my take on Dan in this chapter far less OOC than my original intention was. Just look at his actions in the season premiere... Anyway, what I really wanted to say was that I know he's acting a bit weird here and it's done on purpose and will be elaborated on later.

Thanks for reading! Please review!