A/N: This was totally inspired by my viewing of Atonement. Though there isn't much atoning going on in it, it's clear what inspired me. For The Very Last Valkyrie who deserves the world.
Summary: "You're the only one who really accepted him.""And now we barely communicate," Blair said breezily. "Frightfully tragic."
Disclaimer: Nothing belongs to me. Inspiration comes from Atonement and characters are obviously GG. Thanks to comewhatmay.x who beta-ed this months ago.
"I don't know what to do."
It was a strange sentence.
Serena sat up with a start.
It could be just an ordinary sentence if she had said it, or perhaps that vaguely familiar boy from Brooklyn who graduated from Yale.
It was a strange sentence—coming from her.
Serena looked down at Blair in slight awe, sprawled on the front lawn of the estate.
Blair just looked up at her with, big, mildly annoyed, dark eyes.
"You don't know what you're going to do?"
Serena found it laughable. She could tell that her best friend could hear it in her voice, her eyebrows furrowing dangerously.
"I did what I wanted," Blair said. "I matriculated from Yale."
"And..." Blair said. "That's it. Now I don't know."
"What about that guy from St. Jude's that just graduated?"
"Excuse me?" Blair asked icily.
"I didn't mean for you," Serena snorted.
"Serena," Blair stated. "I am not going to indulge your fantasy of bedding some financial aid-iot from Brooklyn. Besides, isn't your mother pursuing his father?"
"My mother is married," Serena reminded her.
"For now," Blair snorted. "But we both know how long that usually lasts."
Serena's natural instinct was, of course, to defend her mother's honor. Instead, she couldn't help but prod the irritable panther.
"Speaking of the Basses and their infinite charm," Serena said smoothly, in the same way she had witnessed Blair do countless times.
Blair's eyes snapped to her and Serena knew that panther was about to snap her jaws.
"If the words 'Chuck Bass' come out of your mouth-" Blair warned.
"Well it's no secret that you two don't talk anymore."
"We do," Blair protested lightly. It was the first time Serena had heard her pensive. "We just don't run in the same circles anymore."
"You mean the wealthy New York elitists?" Serena asked.
"Elitist," Blair smirked slightly. "You know the Basses' reputation here."
"You mean your mother's opinion of him."
"The fact that the Basses aren't Old Money has no effect over me," Blair said.
"Surprising," Serena said. "Because you look down on anyone beneath you."
"Chuck isn't beneath me," Blair said scornfully. Serena couldn't help but smile. The connotation wasn't lost on the both of them. "He stayed in the city to work for the company and I went to New Haven
"You're the only one who really accepted him."
"And now we barely communicate," Blair said breezily. "Frightfully tragic."
Serena looked over her shoulder at the sound of tires on gravel.
Now would be the most inopportune moment to tell her best friend who had just returned from the city.
It was what was in store for her now. Fake smiles and even falser statements. Her entire life her goal had been to get into Yale. But now she didn't even know what she wanted to do. She had aspired to be loved and respected like her father, but she was neither of those things. There was a time when that didn't bother her.
You can't make people love you, but you can make them fear you.
Now she would be condemned to a life of galas and compounds full of Blue Bloods like herself. Condemned to a marriage to someone who would be utterly boring.
The only person who had ever made her feel even remotely elevated above desperation was-
She was going to kill Serena.
Blair found herself staring out the back window and right in the middle of what she could only assume was another panic attack was the last person she would ever have thought of.
Well, that wasn't exactly true.
Chuck Bass was walking laps around the pool in his customary tailored suit. He ran a hand through his hair. He had gotten it cut.
He looked especially good today. Not that she saw him often.
She was going to kill Serena.
She didn't know what she was doing. Not really. She would find herself in the middle of actions that were completely unwonted of her. She couldn't even remember how she had gotten to a certain point—like that time in the Captain's study—like right now.
Blair found herself in front of a mirror, fixing every imaginable invisible flaw in the perfection of her hair.
She never knew what she was doing anymore.
"Smoking on Cece's pristine estate?"
She could tell he wasn't aware of her approach. That pleased her.
He turned sharply, taking in every detail of her appearance.
It made her uncomfortable.
He took a last drag before stubbing it out.
"That will win you lots of esteem from the old woman."
"I wasn't looking for it," Chuck replied. "But you knew that."
"I didn't know you were coming," Blair said primly.
"Does it matter?"
"I don't like being surprised."
"I was always the one who could do that."
An awkward silence stretched between them and Blair couldn't remember how things had reached such a point. They used to be confidantes. Now they were...this.
"Is Nate coming too?"
"Serena invited me," Blair shrugged. "It only seemed logical."
"Still haven't cured that ache you've got for him?" he asked with a taunting smirk.
"Hardly," she laughed.
Chuck looked surprised.
There had been a time when it wouldn't have seemed so laughable. Nate was her destiny. As a pure and virginal sixteen year old, she had been sure of it.
It seemed so long ago now.
Now everything bored her.
"I'm more interested in this Dartmouth friend he's bringing up."
"The lacrosse player?"
"Is there any other?" she asked sweetly.
His jaw was clenched, but she couldn't imagine why. Even now, there was so much that was a mystery about him.
She hated it.
"Birds of a feather."
She could tell he was uncomfortable. But at his words, she couldn't help but stare. She couldn't help but think what his words were really referring to.
What she really understood was having to escape his reciprocating gaze. She passed him coolly, sitting at the waters edge. She couldn't help but think how out of place a man in a three piece suit was here.
"You are aware that it's July," Blair said easily.
Perhaps he didn't think she would speak to him. She looked up at his silence to see he was shrugging out of his jacket.
Blair shrugged as though it was of no consequence to her.
His voice had changed. She looked up and it happened again. She was in the middle of something she couldn't remember getting into.
She had to get out.
He broke off as she curled her feet under her in attempt to rise.
"Here," Chuck said, lending a helpful hand.
"I'm fine," Blair said, trying to brush him off.
But his left hand was already clasped around her right, paying her no attention.
"I can stand on my own, thank you very much."
She didn't know why she was so angry. He was too close, too helpful, so unlike him that it bothered her. She stumbled away from him.
But his grip had been tight. In a split second, she felt his harsh grasp pull off her ring.
There was no question of where it landed.
She couldn't understand him. She couldn't even understand her own hateful eyes at his very remorseful expression.
She couldn't understand it at all.
It had to be the heat. That was all she thought of. She watched his face fall as she shrugged out of her dress.
"What are you..."
But he trailed off.
The predictable mind of Chuck Bass.
His eyes lingered and she hated it. She hated how she didn't hate it.
Before he had a chance to finish appreciating her slip, she did a perfect swan dive into the pool. She almost considered staying down there long after she found her ring just to make him squirm.
But Chuck Bass didn't squirm. She was sure of that.
She climbed out as graceful as she could without using the stairs, and it was only then did she remember her slip was white.
His eyes were lingering between her thighs and she cursed the transparency of her attire—or lack thereof.
She was sure he forced himself to drag his eyes up to her face as quickly as his anatomy let him.
He was just a boy after all.
Or he used to be. When she knew him.
He finally understood what the term 'modesty' was and turned away from her as she pulled her dress back over her head.
Her wet curls clung to her neck as she shivered.
The stood at an odd perpendicular angle as she slid her ring back onto her fourth finger.
She gave him one last furious glance before she stormed off.
When Nate finally arrived with whatever lacrosse stick he deemed appropriate for a friendship his mother undoubtedly approved, she watched Chuck greet them. He shook their hands politely.
She wondered if he was still the same person she had once known.
Nate's kisses were no longer a feeble attempt to ignite some sort of chemistry between the two of them. They were fraternal as they exchanged cheeks. She was honestly pleased to see him.
"And this is-"
"Yes, of course," Blair said dismissively.
He was just another Nate copy.
And there were enough of those running around.
"You know who's here," Nate said.
"Chuck," Blair said apathetically, accepting the martini he handed her as they sat down in the parlor. "I have been here for a week."
"He just got here," Nate said. "I guess we'll all have a chance to catch up at dinner. The four of us again."
"So he's staying," Blair said coolly.
"I just assumed he had some townies to bed," Blair sneered.
"Blair," Nate chastised. He sounded amused.
He didn't look amused after she sent him a glare.
She hated it. She hated how everyone seemed to have assumptions about Chuck and emotions that were completely inappropriate.
The lacrosse stick was speaking.
"You shook his hand," Nate said. "He and Blair were thick as thieves before college."
"Who taught you to use that tricky alliteration, Nathaniel?" Blair asked condescendingly. Nate just rolled his eyes, ignoring her.
"You never went to a party without seeing the two of them plotting in a corner together," Nate continued. "But then Blair goes to Yale with some Humphrey scholarship student-"
"Not by choice," Blair interceded.
"-and she comes back, even more entitled than when she left."
"So you're blaming it on me," Blair said.
"Is there something that needs blame?" Nate asked cheekily.
"Chuck has his friends and I have mine," Blair said. "That's it."
"Chuck doesn't have friends," Nate said. "As a matter of fact, you're friends with all his friends."
"Is there any more gin?" Blair asked snidely, looking for the bar.
"Dude. You're writing."
Nate could make those most obvious statements even more succinct.
Chuck turned around in his chair to face his best friend in the doorway.
"Just trying to get my thoughts in order."
He would have rather just left it at that, but of course, Nate could never take the hint.
"What is this?" Nate asked, picking up the stationary without even waiting for an answer. His blue eyes widened in surprise.
"Just trying to think of how I'm going to apologize to Blair."
"That's filthy," Nate said, handing it back to Chuck.
And then Chuck couldn't help but laugh either.
"I know," he said. "It can't be helped. Whenever I see her, I just-"
"Think of her dripping wet in a transparent slip?" Nate asked impishly. Chuck glowered. "Serena told me."
"You're really not going to give that to her."
"Obviously," Chuck said, "unless I want to be castrated. I'm not giving her anything. I'm just trying to figure out-"
"So you said," Nate replied. "What do you have to apologize for anyway?"
Chuck opened his mouth to answer.
"Staring at her for the past four years?"
"Nate," Chuck said seriously, unable to make eye contact.
"Is there any other explanation?"
"None that I can think of," Chuck said darkly.
"It's okay, you know," Nate said. "It always would have been."
"Not always," Chuck said. "But I appreciate the sentiment. And that isn't it."
"Then what is?"
"She hates me," Chuck said. "She always has."
"Hates you?" Nate asked in surprise. "You two were inseparable during high school."
"But she never liked me."
"And you never liked her," Nate said. "You still probably don't."
"You know what it means."
Chuck just sighed, crumpling up the letter to Penthouse, and throwing it in the trash.
"What are you going to say?" Nate asked as they left the room.
"It will come to me."
Serena never did this. Blair did this. Blair snuck into bedrooms, and found dirt on people.
But Serena couldn't help but hear Chuck. And she couldn't help but be terribly intrigued.
So she went through the garbage.
Shock would be the understated emotion she was feeling.
Many words stuck out to her. Many descriptions were clear of certain parts of anatomy and where they should be placed and in what succession they should be moved.
He had a talent.
But it was the last line that truly caught her attention.
I think about being inside of you all day.
Her mind went blank.
Serena was running. At first, Chuck wouldn't have thought anything of that. Serena was flighty and whimsical and-
"What is that in Serena's hand?" Chuck said, standing up quickly from the chairs outside as he spotted Serena running through the house.
"Relax," Nate said. "I'm sure it's just-"
"A crumpled piece of paper she's running with up to Blair's room?"
Nate's face fell.
Chuck hopped the ledge before dashing up the stairs after Serena.
Serena spun around in the doorway of Blair's room to face him.
She slammed the door in his face.
It wasn't long. He had downed two scotches by the time she had come down, but it wasn't that long. She hesitated by the entryway of the parlor and Chuck immediately got to his feet.
"You weren't supposed to see that," he said immediately.
"Just for your own personal collection, then?" Blair asked.
"I'm sorry," he said.
"I think that's the first time I've heard that from you."
There were no more words.
Her dress was beautiful on her. He wanted to tell her that but she was already walking away.
And he didn't think it would be the best idea if he did.
He just followed her like that was what she had wanted all along.
She didn't protest.
The library was quiet and dark. He closed the door purposefully behind them.
"What was it?"
There was only one light on in the room.
"But you wrote it."
"I was trying to organize a way to apologize."
"Apologize?" she asked. "You? For what?"
It was a question.
"I didn't mean to upset you."
She looked away.
"You know I don't..." Blair took a breath, "do that."
"Strip in front of decent young men?"
He had the audacity to smirk.
"Since when are you decent?"
"Since when did you stop pretending you are?"
"I was so angry," Blair said. "I was so angry with you."
"I always have been. Volatile."
"For the both of us."
He was concentrating on agreeing with her that he hadn't realized he had stopped understanding.
"I'm sorry I was so cruel to you."
Chuck didn't answer.
"I could never understand why," she said. "We were as close as friends could be, but we were something else. I was so cruel towards you. But now I understand why."
He just stared.
"Don't you?" Blair asked. "You do understand, don't you?"
She was unconsciously backing towards the bookcases. He could hear in her voice what he had been so afraid to hear again.
"God," she sniffed, "just tell me. Yes or no. Don't you-"
His brain finally processed everything and his little brain was working over time and for the first time, his lips crashed into hers. Her back hit the shelves, her nails digging into his scalp.
There was no hesitation. There was no question. All there was in that room was what had always been.
"I thought you were angry with me," Chuck panted. "That day...in the Captain's study."
"I thought I was too," she said.
"And then you went away."
"So did you."
His kisses were fierce and his tongue tasted like scotch.
She liked it.
He was progressive and he was impulsive. He was exploring everything as though if there were a moment he wasn't touching her, he wouldn't survive the next.
Her gasp was loud in his ear, but she felt the grin at her neck, in his explorations. Her back arched, and she wrapped her legs around him as he slid her skirt away from her knees.
She clung to him, wood digging into her back, but she couldn't feel pain. She couldn't feel anything but him.
His breaths reminded her that he was there. There and waiting and needing and she couldn't stop herself.
It was her, again, who rid him of his jacket. He broke away only for a second to throw it to the ground. Buttons popped and breaths escalated. Everything was loud. Everything was pounding.
He made his own gasp as she popped the first button. The teeth of his zipper were parted and he never would have thought the prim society princess of the Upper East Side could do that with her hand.
And he didn't like to think of where she learned how.
But he forgot because he was groaning and everything was going.
Her neck was always as seductive as he imagined. The pale pallor of her throat beckoned and then they were mauling and squeezing and moaning.
It was quick. It happened so suddenly. But she had never felt that way. And she knew this was right. They stared at each other for what seemed like eons and she had never felt anything like this before.
She knew it was right.
"Chuck," she breathed, still as they were, frozen in their current positions.
"Have I always loved you?" she asked.
"And I've always loved you."
He was moving. His voice was a symphony of something she couldn't describe and she gripped the shelf behind her, trying to balance as he hiked her legs up.
She couldn't help it.
She couldn't help any of the sounds.
Or how her eyes rolled back.
"What if someone walks in?" Blair attempted to ask, her gasps becoming too much to breathe.
"I don't care," he said into her neck, never stopping, never waning.
"Neither do I."
Two twenty-two year olds. Always feeling.
And they were there.