Present—October, 2010

It was a slightly overcast late Saturday afternoon. The sun was still shining but there was a light breeze. Blair Waldorf stood at the edge of the manmade lake, flicking chunks of bread into the water. As the ducks clamored near her, she ignored the intermittent gasps and whispers that came from behind her. She was too lost in her own thoughts to concern herself with common folk. After all, it probably wasn't everyday they ran across a solemn-faced bride, wearing a custom-made wedding dress and feeding the ducks.

When she had dispensed with all the bread in her possession, she sat down on the nearest bench. Right now, she should be calculating her next move, trying to figure out what she wanted to do, what she was going to say when—better yet, if—he found her. But all she could do was look out listlessly in front of her. Thinking hurt too much. Thinking was what had caused her to slip out the back door of the wedding hall, flag a cab and come straight to Central Park. Her eyes were unfocused as she looked straight ahead and numbed herself to everything.

"You look beautiful." The familiar voice interrupted her thoughts.

She stilled for a moment and closed her eyes, desperate to calm the loud pounding of her heart. She should have known that he would find her. Her fingers twitched and she longed to crack her knuckles to soothe her nerves, but she knew he would notice.

"I always knew you'd make the most exquisite bride," he said in a low and gravelly voice.

Her eyes flew open as she turned to look at him. She whispered, "Chuck, I'm—"

"Sorry?" He laughed hollowly.

Blair's eyes turned downward as she looked at her hands.

"You don't need to apologize, just tell me what I did," he said quietly. "And tell me what I need to do to fix it."

"You didn't do anything."

"No? I'm finding that a bit hard to believe."

"It's the truth," she insisted.

"Then why the hell are you sitting on a park bench feeding ducks instead of marrying me?"

She heard the pain laced in his voice that matched what she felt in her heart. She couldn't stop the tear from rolling down her cheek. He strode over and was at her side in a blink of an eye. He knelt down in front of her and took her hands in his.

"Just talk to me," he begged.

Blair was crying in earnest now, and she tugged her hand away to wipe away the tears. She couldn't think with him so close to her—he always managed to override any rational thought. She didn't know what to say to him when she wasn't even sure what it was she was feeling.

"Please, Blair," Chuck said softly. "If you were having doubts, why didn't you say anything?"

"I thought it would go away," she mumbled.

"Then let's go home and talk about it," he said calmly. "We'll figure it out."

"But I can't think when I'm around you!" She yelled unexpectedly, pulling away from him.

She couldn't handle this—he was being so sweet and understanding. She knew if she was alone with him, she'd let him convince her that she was being silly.

The look of hurt and surprise in his eyes was almost unbearable. It made her want to believe that all of this was a mistake. Slowly he stepped away from her and shoved his hands into his pockets.

She noticed how tightly clenched his jaw was as he bitterly said, "If you needed space, all you had to do was tell me. I had no idea you found me suffocating."

"Chuck, I didn't mean—," she said contritely.

"There has to be some truth, otherwise you wouldn't have said it."

Shamefaced, she looked back down to the ground.

"I asked you to marry me, Blair. I think I deserve some kind of explanation why you would decide less than an hour before our wedding that this was something you no longer wanted." He paused. "Because it's something I thought we both wanted. And you owe me that much."

He was staring at her and waiting for an answer, but she couldn't formulate a response. With a sigh of frustration, he sat at the edge of the bench to maintain some distance between them.

"How did you know where to find me?" Blair asked suddenly.

"Because feeding the ducks soothes you. You came here the morning after we fought that one time," he answered. "Is this what it's going to be—some sort of question and answer session to see if I know you well enough?"

"Truthfully, it's not as if we've known each other all that long," she said defensively. "Not that I was hiding, but I'm just surprised that you found me."

"The only other place you could've been would be at our penthouse, packing up your things. And call me foolish, but I had to believe that you walking out on me wasn't premeditated. When I realized that you really weren't going to show up, I came here."

"I see."

Neither spoke another word for what felt like hours.

He was the one who broke the silence with his question.

"Are you in love with someone else?"

It was the way he phrased his words that had her bristling.

"No," Blair snapped. "Why would you say that?"

"I'm not the one with ex-fiancés and a high school sweetheart who are all still in love with me. I know you saw Carter last week."

"Were you spying on me?" She accused.

"No," he insisted.

"Then how do you know?"

"You know Bart has people everywhere."

"Great, so your father has people watching me! Is there anything else you've kept from me?"

"I'm haven't 'kept' anything from you! I trust you, which is why I didn't say anything when I was informed last week. But I'm trying to wrack my brains as to what I possibly could have done to warrant you walking out on our wedding without even talking to me first. Excuse me if the only thing I can think of is that you have unresolved feelings for Carter Baizen."

"And I've already told you, that whatever I may have once felt for Carter has long been dead. But I've known him practically my whole life and he is a friend."

"I thought you were happy, that I made you happy."

"You did—no, you do. It's just that…" She trailed off.

"Just what?" He asked desperately. "What aren't you telling me, Blair?"

When she didn't say anything, he stood up and started to pace. She felt so fractured.

Finally she whispered, "I'm tired, Chuck. I have nothing to say because I don't even know what I'm feeling right now. I'm overwhelmed."

He stared at her for a few minutes before nodding his head. "Let's go home, and we can talk about it in the morning. I'll sleep in the guest room and leave you alone until then."

"Ok."

He held out his hand and helped her off the bench as they made their way out of the park. Silently they walked side by side, making quite the picture. Blair wondered if there was beauty in the sadness of the space between them. She ignored the cooing and comments of the other occupants of the park.

Just as the clearing out of the park appeared, Blair stumbled and let out a yelp. Chuck turned to her and managed to catch her before she fell.

"Ouch!" She screamed.

"Blair!" His arms were around her, and he clutched her to him.

It was unfair that as her ankle was burning in pain, she felt safe in his arms.

"Blair, are you ok? What is it?"

She hissed in agony before saying, "It's my foot."

"Can you put any weight on it?"

"Let me try."

There was a howl a moment later. Chuck didn't hesitate and scooped her into his arms and started to carry her towards the limo.

"Chuck! What are you doing? Put me down!"

He didn't answer, but his face was filled with tension. Less than a minute later, she could see the limo. As Arthur moved to open the door, he had a large smile on his face, until he noticed the absence of their smiling faces. Chuck carefully set her into the car and barked out orders for them to be driven to the penthouse.

When they were on their way, he asked tightly, "Do you want me to send for a doctor, or would you prefer we go to the hospital after you change?"

Blair hesitated for a moment, but the truth of the matter was, the last thing she wanted to do was go out in public. She lifted up the skirt of her dress, but before she could even stretch out her foot, she winced in pain. Her ankle was swelling up and her foot hurt. She dropped the skirt back down and sat back in her seat and closed her eyes. Miserably she answered, "I don't want to see anyone."

"Let's put some ice on it when we get home and if it still hurts in the morning, we'll call the doctor."

It didn't escape her notice that Chuck kept referring to them as "we", as though they operated as a unit. She really didn't want to start an argument right now, so she simply nodded in agreement in order to avoid answering. She turned her head and was grateful when Chuck moved to the far end of the limo. She stared out the window watching the city pass her by, and a few minutes later she chanced a quick peek at him. His face was expressionless and his head was tilted back, eyes closed. She was certain that this wasn't remotely close to how either one of them imagined spending their wedding day.

Time seemed to drag on slowly, and all Blair wanted to do was get out of this damned dress! She pushed out of mind the fact that she loved every last stitch of her one-of-a-kind Monique Lhullier gown, which had been designed with Chuck in mind. It served as a reminder of how recklessly she had dived into their relationship, without pausing for a moment to acknowledge just how little she knew about him and how different they truly were.

Blair was so lost in her thoughts, she didn't realize the limo had stopped moving until Chuck called out her name. She looked up to find him waiting for her to give her approval so he could pick her back up. When she gave a quick nod, he once again lifted her into his arms and carried her into their building.

"Mr. Bass! Ms. Waldorf, I mean, Mrs. Bass! We weren't expecting you!" Simon, the doorman, exclaimed. "Congratulations!"

She felt Chuck stiffen as his grasp on her tightened for a minute. With an impassive expression, Chuck said nothing as Blair hid her face by burying it into his chest.

Simon must have sensed the awkwardness as he began sputtering an apology as he pushed the call button, until finally Chuck put him out of his misery by snapping, "That will be all."

When the elevator doors closed, Blair lifted her head. The normally roomy 10' x 8' lift felt incredibly small as tension filled the box.

"Chuck, I'm sorry. You don't have to carry me," she said remorsefully. It occurred to her how ironic this all was—Chuck in his tux carrying her in her wedding dress across the threshold.

He said nothing and continued to look straight ahead as the vein in his temple throbbed. Wordlessly, he stepped into their penthouse and went straight to their bedroom. After he carefully laid her onto the chaise in her walk-in closet, she watched as he made his way around the room. He rummaged around for a few moments before finding her a modest nightgown and robe that he placed next to her.

As he reached the door to exit, he paused with his back to her. Softly he said, "I'll get you some ice and I'll be waiting outside when you're ready to lay down."

And then he was gone.

She was finally alone. She stared at her reflection in the mirror across from her and again the tears started rolling down her cheeks before she could stop them. This was supposed to be the happiest day of her life. Instead, she cursed the day she first met Chuck Bass.

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tbc