This chapter was not originally supposed to be included… I was reading through the intended 8th chapter and realized it didn't work and that there seemed to be a chapter missing to bridge it with the previous one. So I sat down, moved some things around and wrote new stuff to better fit with what happens later. I don't know how well it holds up but I hope it's an okay read. I haven't had a chance to read through it myself so fingers crossed there aren't any blunders... =)
The house was dead quiet. It was the middle of the night, Boxing Day since about two hours. Blair had been lying awake in her bed for the better part of those two hours, staring at the ceiling, trying to force herself to quench the sadness in her heart. The feeling was so overpowering sometimes. It took her breath away and no matter how hard she tried she couldn't enjoy moments that were supposed to be happy. Luckily there were other times, times when she felt genuine happiness. Without those times she wouldn't be able to survive.
Christmas Day had started out as one of those days. Sebastian had been so happy and excited that it had been impossible not to be happy. Unfortunately that happiness hadn't lasted for very long. Chuck had called, wanting to wish Sebastian a merry Christmas even though they had spent the previous evening together. Blair had handed the phone to her son who had spoken to his father and to Emmy for about five minutes. The call had made it impossible to forget how much she hated the way things were and how badly she desired them to be different.
Lying awake in her bed all alone it was even more difficult to keep those feelings and thoughts at bay. She wanted things to be different with all her heart yet she was powerless to change it. She could scream at the top of her lungs and fight with everything she had but if Chuck loved Emmy there was nothing she could do about it. If Sebastian grew to love Emmy as a stepmother there was nothing she could do about that either, not without causing problems for her son. The fact that Chuck let Sebastian and Emmy spend so much time together and grow closer made her convinced that there was no hope. He wouldn't let his son form a bond with Emmy unless he planned on keeping her around for the long haul.
What made matters so much worse was knowing she had only herself to blame for all of this. It was her own choices that had led them to this path, right from the moment when she walked away from Chuck to be with Louis. Had she chosen Chuck instead they would have had it all. Their love for one another and a child to solidify that love. He would have never met Emmy and he would have had an amazing relationship with his son from the day he was born.
She sat up in bed, straight as if she'd swallowed a pitchfork, her heart pounding in her chest. She had been good for over ten days, fighting the devil inside her. Tonight it overwhelmed her. She felt like she couldn't breathe, couldn't move, couldn't fight. She tossed the covers aside and got up, grabbing her robe but not bothering with the slippers. Shivering slightly she hurried over to the bathroom and opened the door.
The bathroom floor was cold beneath her feet but she barely noticed. She hurried over to the toilet, sank down on her knees and took a deep breath. When she purged it felt horrible and wonderful at the same time. It offered her relief and control. It was a physical outlet for all her anguish.
When she was done she closed the lid and rested her cheek against it, closing her eyes hard and hating the tears she felt wetting her cheeks. Purging might bring relief while she was doing it but once it was over it left her feeling even emptier than before. It scared her that she had fallen back into this pattern. What kind of a mother would she be able to be to her son if she was sick again? What if Chuck found out? Would he use it against her?
Trembling and slightly wobbly she rose to her feet and flushed. She walked over to the sink to wash her hands and gargle mouthwash, recoiling at the sight of herself in the mirror. Who was the pale, haggard woman looking back at her and where had Blair Waldorf gone? What had happened to her future? She was in her mid-twenties and felt like life was over. She couldn't keep this up. She had to find some other way of regaining control. Her whole life lay ahead of her and she could be so much more than this.
She didn't hear the bathroom door opening and almost jumped out of her skin when Sebastian's little voice broke the silence.
She quickly dried her cheeks with the back of her hand and turned around, forcing a smile and hoping he wouldn't react to her distressed state.
"Why are you up?" he asked.
"Just using the bathroom" she said, terrified that her son would have caught her purging if he had walked in a few minutes earlier. "Come honey. I'll follow you back to your bed."
She took his hand and walked with him back into his room. She had to stop doing this to herself and to him. If he caught her purging she could always tell him she had the stomach flu or had eaten something she shouldn't but she didn't want to have to know her little son had seen her do something like that to herself.
He climbed up in his bed and she got in after him, wrapping the comforter around them both. He slept in a regular-sized bed here, his own bed having been left behind in France, and on nights like tonight she was glad. She didn't want to go back to her own bed and sleep all alone. She wrapped her arm around him and pulled him close, kissing the top of his head. At least she had him and could find some solace in that.
Chuck was fast asleep, lying on his stomach with his cheek resting on his hand. Next to him Emmy was wide awake, lying on her side facing away from him. She wasn't feeling nearly as happy as she had expected to be the night after Christmas. She loved the holidays and had been looking forward to Christmas but it hadn't turned out the way she had expected it to. It was the first time in her life she had felt disappointed after Christmas and she wasn't sure how to handle that feeling in connection with what was supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year.
They had had Sebastian with them at Lily's on Christmas Eve and it had been a pleasant evening. After they brought him back to Blair's place Chuck had been morose and she had let him be, understanding perfectly well why he wasn't feeling very jolly. They had spent Christmas Day alone together in her apartment and she had been looking forward to it, thinking it could be a really cozy Christmas with just the two of them. Things hadn't exactly gone the way she had hoped they would. They had exchanged gifts in the morning after calling Sebastian and then Chuck had kissed her eagerly and made love to her underneath the tree. That part had been perfectly in line with what she had had in mind but for the rest of the day he hadn't been acting like he was peaceful and at ease. They had had sex several times, each time initiated by him, but the only closeness between them had been physical. He had been as emotionally closed off as ever, seeming a million miles away when she tried to snuggle in his arms when they were wrapped together in a blanket on the couch. She had asked him what was on his mind and he had given her an evasive answer. She had told him about one of her favorite Christmas memories from childhood and he had barely seemed to be listening. She had tried to start a conversation about favorite Christmas movies but his answers had been short and uninterested. The whole day he was closed off and when they finally went to bed he had gone right to sleep.
For months now he had been closed off and there had been a distance between them she hadn't been able to breach. She had, perhaps naively, expected Christmas to be different. Instead it was just more of the same.
Her mind turned to Blair, the woman she was beginning to hate. All of this was her fault. It was beyond Emmy's comprehension how this woman could claim to love Chuck and then bring all of this on him. The fact that Blair still kept her head high and still acted like she could possibly have a claim on Chuck drove Emmy crazy. She could be fiercely protective of the things and people she cared about and she would like nothing better than to unleash her full wrath on Blair but she knew she had to respect the fact that she was Sebastian's mother.
She sighed and rolled over to look at Chuck. Even in his sleep he didn't look very happy. It killed her to see him go through all of this and it made it even worse that he wouldn't talk to her about it. It didn't seem fair that he should have to be this sad and she felt so powerless to do anything to help him. At this point she was willing to do just about anything.
The only thing she could do was support him and hope he would open up to her. If he didn't she wasn't sure what would happen.
"It's a shame Nate and Serena won't be joining us for New Year's" Emmy said two days later, walking arm in arm with Chuck down fifth avenue. "The party won't be half as much fun without them."
"I guess hitting the slopes held more allure" Chuck said.
"Should I get a new dress for the occasion?" Emmy wondered. "I know it's a mortal sin on the Upper East Side to wear something to more than one party but I really love that jade green dress I wore to my sister's birthday party. It's a shame to waste it."
"You'll look beautiful no matter what."
She glanced up at him, wondering what was on his mind. He had the hint of a smile on his lips and looked relaxed but she knew he wasn't completely paying attention.
"Penny for your thoughts?"
"You'd be wasting your money."
She frowned. Obviously there was something on his mind. She hated when he didn't open up to her. Once they were back home she'd have to prod him a bit and find out what was going on. Whatever it was it probably wasn't something he wanted to discuss out on the streets.
"Maybe we should just go home" she said. "You don't seem like you're in the mood."
"No" he said. "I told you we'd have a day of pampering ourselves at your favorite spa and that's what we're going to do. We need it, both of us."
She smiled and felt a bit better. Their spa day had been one of his Christmas gifts to her and it was something they would be doing together. During their first two years together they had gone to get spa treatments every once in a while and she had always had a great time. Perhaps when they were both relaxed she would be able to get him to open up.
"I think you need this day of pampering more than I do" she said and kissed his cheek. "LeChuck, you are too tense."
"It's been one hell of a year."
"Luckily it's almost over" she smiled. "Next year will be so much better."
"Be careful, Bas" Blair called out with a frown, watching her son go wild at the playground. "The bars are icy and the ground is really hard."
If he heard her he ignored her. It was the first time he had gotten to play at a playground in weeks and he seemed to have a ton of pent-up energy that needed to be released. Blair frowned and shoved her hands in her pockets the same way Chuck tended to do. She was cold and bored and uneasy, wanting nothing more than to take her son back home and watch a movie or do something else that didn't involve going outdoors.
"Mommy watch me!" Sebastian cried, dangling from the monkey bars.
"Be careful!" Blair insisted.
"I am careful!"
She took her eyes off her son for a second when she heard the clicking of a camera. A lone photographer was taking pictures. She wanted to go over there and give him a piece of her mind but there was no point to it. All in all the media's reaction to Sebastian had been fairly mild and she should be thankful that the paparazzi mostly left them alone unless it was a slow news week. Since the existence of her son had been revealed through Chuck's public statement nobody had drawn any connections to Louis and Monaco and the huge scandal she had feared had never happened. A few photographers every now and then was something they could live with.
She turned her eyes back to her playing child. There weren't a lot of children out today. Most of them were probably at home playing with their Christmas gifts. Blair watched Sebastian exchange words with a boy roughly his own age and wondered if he was lonely. He hadn't made any friends since they moved to Manhattan and it was beginning to worry her. Chuck had brought up pre-school as way of making him socialize more with other children and she was giving more and more consideration to it. She didn't want her son to be like her, without any friends to spend his time with.
"Mommy look what I can do!" Sebastian cried and threw himself face-first down a slide.
"Sebastian!" Blair scolded angrily and strode over. "If you can't play safe you can't play at all." She grabbed his arm. "Come on, we're going home."
"But Mom!" Sebastian protested and began to cry. "I don't want to go home!"
"It's freezing out and you're going to hurt yourself."
"No I won't. I want to stay!"
"We're leaving" Blair said firmly, ushering him away from the playground. "We're going to the market to buy groceries for dinner and then we're heading home."
"I hate the mawket!"
"That's too bad."
Sebastian continued to loudly protest and Blair knew she was perhaps being a bit unfair but she was worried he might hurt himself. With everything else going on she didn't have the strength to deal with that kind of worry right now. From now on she would send Dorota with him to the playground.
"Sebastian Waldorf you stop that whining" she said sharply, more or less dragging him by the arm. "Mother is tired and doesn't want to hear it."
He paid no attention to her. Biting back a groan she steered him in the direction of the market, hoping the photographer was long gone by now and wasn't catching this far from lovely scene with his lens. If she had to read in the papers about how she was a bad mother and her son was unruly she might just throw a fit.
Fresh from her pedicure Emmy walked into the room where Chuck was getting a massage. She wrapped her robe tighter around herself and smiled lovingly when she saw him stretched out on the table, relaxed and almost asleep while a massage therapist worked him over with hot lava stones. Seeing him like this was far better than getting her own pampering. It was like pampering to her heart and soul.
She walked over to the massage table and knelt in front of him, paying no attention to the massage therapist. She placed her hands on his forearms and he opened his eyes, smiling slightly at her.
"Hey, how are you feeling?" she asked, gently rubbing his arms.
"Relaxed" he mumbled.
The massage therapist finished her work and pulled a towel up to cover her client and keep him from getting cold. She then left the room and Chuck raised a suggestive eyebrow at Emmy, making her laugh.
"This is neither the place nor the time" she said.
"Just as well, I suppose" Chuck said, sitting up and putting his feet over the side of the massage table. "Right now I think every muscle in my body is completely relaxed. How about we sit in the hot tub for a while instead?"
She nodded and handed him his robe. Then she walked over to the hot tub on the other side of the room and sat down on the edge, settling for letting her feet and legs be soaked by the water. She had her own massage coming up in twenty minutes while Chuck would be getting a pedicure. It had always amused her how he enjoyed that kind of pampering, something she had never expected guys to be fond of. He let his robe drop by the tub and got in, sitting down between her legs and leaning back against her with a relaxed sigh. Her hands ran down his chest and then back up to settle on his shoulders.
"It's great to see you so relaxed, Mr. Bass" she said with a smile. "You've been so tense for so long I was beginning to think you'd never be able to unwind."
"Don't you worry about me" Chuck mumbled, closing his eyes and leaning his head back. "It's been a rough year but Chuck Bass is not so easily defeated. You know my philosophy; when life gives you lemons…"
"Make lemonade? That does not sound like you."
"I was going to say: Shut up and eat your damn lemons."
She laughed a little.
"It's a bitter way of handling things" she said. "I'm better at making lemonade. You should give your lemons to me and let me handle it."
"This metaphor is starting to fall apart."
He opened his eyes and tilted his head back a bit further to look up at her.
"Listen, I know… that I've said some things over the past couple of weeks that have been… a bit…"
"A bit what?" she asked, knowing what he was referring to but wanting to hear him say it.
"Been a bit uncalled for. And hurtful. And I'm sorry."
"No it's not." He was silent for a few minutes, his mind drifting to other topics. "I've been thinking" he then said. "Maybe I should get a dog."
"Yeah. Sebastian seems crazy about dogs. Don't you think he'd love having a puppy around when he comes to stay with us?"
"It's a lot of work having a dog" Emmy pointed out. "You sure you want to get one just to make your son happy for a while? Once the novelty wears off he might not be as fond of it anymore. He isn't even four yet."
"You think it would be trying to buy his affection?"
"No, but I think it's the wrong reason to get a dog. Though if you do want one go with a golden retriever."
"The ultimate family dog" Chuck nodded.
"Oh, you should name him Murray!" Emmy said, suddenly more excited about the idea.
"You want me to name my son's dog after a demonic skull with delusions of grandeur?"
"Since Guybrush is already taken…"
"Why not just get a female dog and call her Elaine? If I do get one I think Sebastian should get to name him. Or her."
"I wonder what Blair would have to say about the dog idea…" Chuck mused.
"Why would Blair have an opinion on you getting a dog?" she asked.
"It would be Sebastian's dog too."
"The dog will be living with us. Blair never has to see it other than when she drops Sebastian off and picks him up. So long as the dog doesn't end up biting him or he turns out to be allergic she has no right to have an opinion."
"Alright, alright. I get your point."
Emmy gently rubbed his shoulders, hoping they wouldn't tense up again.
"Chuck…" she said carefully. "This dog thing… that's now what's been on your mind all week. Maybe we should talk about what's bothering you?"
"There's nothing to talk about" he said and she could feel him tensing up a bit.
"All I'm saying is I'm here for you to share your burdens with" she said. "If there's a problem you're worrying about then maybe I can help you solve it?"
"There's no problem" he said and stood up. "I need to get going to my pedicure. See you in a bit."
He got up from the tub and grabbed his robe from the floor. Emmy sighed and pulled her feet up from the water. Dead end again.
They returned to her apartment a few hours later, neither one of them as relaxed as they had planned on being. Chuck had barely said five words in the ride back and once they were home he walked straight to the bar to pour himself a drink. It made Emmy a bit uneasy that he seemed to be taking a lot of drinks these past few months but so long as he didn't get drunk or unruly she didn't think she had a right to police him. She walked after him into the living room and sat down in an armchair.
"I think I know what's been on your mind" she said.
"What's been on my mind is that you're being an awful nag" Chuck muttered.
"You're thinking about New Year's Eve, aren't you?"
"What about it?"
"Fine" Emmy said with a sigh, getting up from her seat. "If you want to be that way then be that way. Here I was thinking it upset you not to get to celebrate the new year together with your son but clearly there are no clouds on your horizon whatsoever."
She walked past him to her bedroom to go call her sister. Chuck watched her go and cursed inwardly. It didn't take long after his apology for him to do something else to make her feel bad. Not only was he a failure as a father he was becoming more and more a failure as a boyfriend. He knew it wasn't right to treat her this way and that she only wanted what was best for him.
He emptied his tumbler in two gulps and set it down on a shelf. Then he walked over to the couch and slumped on it, reaching for the remote. He had never been much for channel surfing but he couldn't muster up the interest to decide on something specific to watch. Emmy had been right, he was obsessing over New Year's Eve but he didn't want to talk to her about it.
In a way there didn't even seem to be a problem. He wanted to celebrate it with Sebastian but three year-old children probably weren't up until midnight so he wouldn't get to celebrate it with him for real no matter what. There was always the option of joining Blair and Sebastian for dinner and leaving once Sebastian was in bed but he couldn't imagine that being a very pleasant occasion with Blair and Emmy clearly hating one another. It was the same problem they had had with Christmas. Spending the holiday together would make it uncomfortable for the person they wanted to enjoy it the most.
Perhaps they should just go skiing in Aspen with Serena and Nate and try to forget all about the world back in New York. Their friends would probably not protest, though he knew they wanted some time to themselves. Either way Emmy was really excited about the party they were set to attend and he wanted her to have a great time. Her life had been chaotic enough these past months and he felt she deserved a night of fun and excitement.
He closed his eyes and groaned. Why the hell did everything have to be so damn difficult?
They ended up attending the party as planned. Emmy was bubbly and excited and he really wanted to enjoy himself or at the very least not ruin the night for her but his mind kept drifting to his son, wondering what he was doing. He put on his best fake smile, grabbed the first drink he could get a hold of, snuck his arm around Emmy's waist and did his best to pretend that this was just another party. The large banners wishing everyone a happy new 2016 made it quite difficult.
"Look, there's Aaron and Melissa" Emmy said, pointing to a couple they had been to dinner with a handful of times. "I hear he's planning on popping the question real soon. Looks like we might be going to a wedding in 2016."
"They've only been dating a year and a half" Chuck pointed out, forgetting how he had bought an engagement ring for Blair after less than a year.
"I guess some people don't want to wait when they know it's right." She smiled and pulled a loose strain of hair away from her face. "When we get married we have to make Sebastian the ring bearer. Can you imagine how darling that would be?"
"I don't think that's part of our 2016" Chuck said, releasing his grip around her waist. "I'm going to get something stronger to drink than a gin and tonic. You want anything?"
"I'll be right back."
He walked over to the bar and got himself a new drink. While he waited for it he glanced back at his girlfriend and wondered if he had just hurt her feelings again. What the hell was wrong with him these days? Once he got the drink he walked back to her and managed to give her a genuine smile.
"You look absolutely gorgeous tonight" he told her. "Did I mention that yet?"
"Chuck" Emmy said, grabbing the drink from him. "No more alcohol for you right now."
"You're being a grouch. And I know why. You should go."
"You're here because I want to be here but it's not where you want to be right now. You should go to Blair's and spend a few hours with your son."
"It's past seven" Chuck pointed out. "He goes to bed at six."
"On New Year's Eve? Probably not. You should hurry. Go over there and be with him until he's fallen asleep. We'll still have lots of time together before midnight."
"Are you sure?" Chuck asked.
"Absolutely. And don't ask me to come with. We both know that's not going to make anyone's evening any fun. Go to Sebastian already. I want you to."
He leaned in and gave her a kiss.
"You're amazing" he told her. "I'll see you again in a few hours. Well before midnight."
He turned on his heel and hurried towards the exit. With any luck Sebastian would still be up for another hour or two.
Surprised by the doorman calling to announce he had sent up a visitor Blair walked out from the kitchen to see who it was. She couldn't imagine who would be stopping by at this hour on New Year's Eve and when Chuck walked off the elevator she almost did a double-take. He was dressed for a party but he was alone, no Emmy in sight, and looked a little like he wasn't sure he was in the right place. She eyed him for a second, wondering if he was going to say anything.
"What are you doing here?" she finally managed after some stuttering.
"Is Sebastian awake?"
"Yeah. He's in the kitchen, having ice-cream."
It confused her even more when he seemed to visibly relax at that information.
"Good" he said. "Am I… I'm not interrupting anything, I hope."
"No" Blair said. "I'm just… surprised. I wasn't expecting to see you."
"I know it's last minute and I know it's New Year's Eve and I know I haven't even talked to you about today" Chuck said. "I just really wanted to see my son for a bit. I know he'll be in bed long before midnight but it would mean a lot to me to get to wish him a happy new year."
"Of course" Blair said after a second. "Come on in. I think there's some ice-cream left."
"No thanks, I'm good."
He threw his coat on the divan and followed her into the kitchen where Sebastian was wolfing down ice-cream with chocolate syrup and bananas, having more dessert on his face than inside his mouth.
"Look who it is, Bas" Blair said, excitement beginning to build inside her. "We have a New Year's visitor."
"Hi" Sebastian said. "Where's Emmy?"
"She's not with me" Chuck said. "Mind if I sit down?"
"More chocolate sywup" Sebastian demanded.
Chuck took the absent of a protest as a sign it was okay to sit and pulled out a chair. Blair went to get more chocolate syrup and asked Chuck again if he didn't want a bit of ice-cream. He declined and began to wonder what on earth he was going to say or do. He hadn't thought that far yet and things could get pretty awkward if all he did was sit there and look at his son.
"How long will you be staying?" Blair asked.
"I… don't know" Chuck said. "I told Emmy I'd be back at the party in good time before midnight but that's still like three or four hours away."
"Sebastian and I were going to watch the Disney movie Lily gave him for Christmas" Blair said. "Perhaps you would like to stay and watch with us?"
"If that's alright with you, Sebastian" Chuck said.
"I think we can take that as a 'yes'" Blair said with a little laugh.
"Be careful Sebastian, you don't want to get a stomach ache" Chuck said gently.
Blair's smile widened a bit. She loved it when he acted like a concerned parent. Him being there with them tonight made her happier than she had been in a long time. She almost had to restrain herself so she didn't show him just how happy she was. The fact that he had come alone without Emmy made it so much better. It was her dream come true, just her boy, her love and she herself together on New Year's Eve.
Sebastian stayed awake until just before ten, falling asleep in his mother's arms halfway through "Bambi", the second Disney movie of the evening. Chuck checked his watch and saw that it was later than he had expected but at least not too late. He looked over at Blair who seemed more serene than he had seen her since she came back into his life. She was gently stroking Sebastian's blonde hair with a smile on her face, watching the movie with a dreaming look in her eyes.
"I should get going" Chuck said and ruined the moment.
"What?" she said, waking up from her daydreams. "Already?"
"It's almost ten… on New Year's Eve… Sebastian's asleep."
"Oh. Right. Sure. Yeah, you should get going. I'm glad you came."
He stood up and studied his son, wondering how Blair would be able to get him to bed without waking him up again.
"Are you going to let him sleep down here tonight?" he asked.
"No I'll carry him upstairs in a few minutes."
"Let me do it. I'm stronger than you are."
As carefully as he could he took a hold of the sleeping child and with some difficulty stood up with Sebastian in his arms. The boy was heavier than he had expected and he wondered how Blair managed to carry him anywhere at all. They made their way up the stairs and Blair walked past him to pull aside Sebastian's covers. Chuck gently put him down in the bed and bid Blair a pleasant evening before walking out the door.
Blair glanced at Sebastian, knowing she ought to take his clothes off and put his pajamas on before she did anything else. She dismissed the thought. He could sleep in his regular clothes for a while, it wouldn't do him any harm. As quickly as she could she walked back down the stairs, catching Chuck as he was about to put his jacket on.
"Don't you want a drink before you go?" she asked.
"There are drinks at the party" Chuck said.
"At least have a sip of scotch."
He frowned and looked at the time. He supposed he could spare fifteen minutes. For some reason it bothered him to see her this way and know that she was all alone for the rest of the night. He put his coat down and took a seat while she went to get their drinks.
"I'm so glad you came" Blair said with an excitement that reminded him more of a school girl than a grown woman. She seemed to catch herself and rearranged her facial expression into something a touch more somber. "I mean, it meant the world to Sebastian."
"Thanks for trying, but we both know my presence probably just got in the way of his night of snuggling with Mommy."
"Watching a movie with Mom and Dad is the perfect New Year's when you're three."
"Except to him Dad is just a guest star in his life." Chuck studied the tumbler in his hand for a second and then took a sip. "It was nice to be here. Maybe he doesn't care that I was here now but when he's older he'll be able to see how much I've cared for him since I found out about him."
"I don't think he'll ever doubt that his father loves him" Blair said gently.
She leaned forward and set her tumbler down on a coaster. Chuck hadn't noticed until now that she was drinking scotch as well. She looked different than she had the day they spent together with Sebastian out in the snow, the last time they had been just the three of them. She looked a touch haggard and he wondered if she had lost some weight.
"Never known you to drink scotch before" he said. "Are you all out on other liquor?"
"There's a lot about me these days you don't know" Blair said with a hint of a smile, wishing they could have a chance to rediscover one another properly.
"Tell me about it" Chuck said dryly.
She looked away, knowing full well what his comment alluded to. Negative emotions began to build up inside her and she forced them away. She didn't want to feel that way. Not tonight, not when he had come to see them.
"I haven't actually had much alcohol at all since I got pregnant" she said. "Tonight I figured… why not try some scotch?"
"How was Sebastian's Christmas?" Chuck asked, not in the mood to hear stories of her life as pregnant or a single mom.
"It was great" Blair said, a little taken aback by the sudden change in topic.
"How was yours?"
"It was Christmas" Chuck shrugged.
They continued to make awkward small talk for a while, Blair hoping he would stay longer and Chuck feeling bad about leaving her alone. Both felt it was strange to not have easily flowing conversation between them but at least it was for the most part friendly. Chuck had toned down his insults and his snarks over the past few weeks and for the most part Blair thought it was a relief. There was a part of her that worried this was all due to his feelings for her fundamentally changing and turning to indifference but she refused to let herself think about that tonight.
After a while Chuck looked at his watch and realized it was getting late. He quickly emptied his tumbler and got up, absent-mindedly thanking Blair for a nice evening and hurrying over to get his coat. Blair stood up and set her drink down, disappointed that he was leaving but realizing there had never been a chance he would stay until midnight.
"When Sebastian wakes up tell him I said: 'Happy 2016'" Chuck said, putting his coat on.
"Yeah" Blair said. "I will. It really was nice to see you tonight, Chuck."
He nodded slightly and stood there for a minute, knowing he had to go but feeling a bit strange about it. Blair did look thinner nowadays and more worn-down. For a fleeting second he wondered if she was sick but he quickly dismissed the thought. He took a step closer and almost on autopilot reached out his hand to brush aside a strain of her loosely hanging hair. He then bid her farewell and walked past her to the elevator, ignoring the eyes he felt following him until the elevator doors closed behind him.
He arrived back at the party with less than ten minutes to go before midnight. New York traffic had been even busier than he had predicted tonight and he had pondered getting out of the limo and walking to assure he would get there on time, but the crowds in the streets implied that wouldn't be very easy either.
He carelessly tossed his coat at someone who looked like they worked there and scanned the room to find Emmy. If he missed the stroke of midnight because he had been drinking scotch with Blair long after Sebastian had gone to sleep he would feel like an even shittier boyfriend than before. When he finally spotted her he breathed a sigh of relief. She was talking to one of her friends with a champagne flute in her hand, ready for the countdown to begin. He could tell that the smile on her face was fake and that she was very disappointed that he hadn't shown up yet. At least he had arrived in time and would be able to surprise her.
He grabbed a champagne flute from the nearest person, ignoring that person's protests, and walked up to Emmy.
"Looks like I'm just in time" he said.
She turned around when she heard his voice and the smile that lit her face made him feel like perhaps he had ended up arriving at the precisely right moment.
"How was it?" she asked, now bubbly and excited again.
"I think my son is going to begin his new year with an ice-cream induced stomach ache" Chuck smiled. "I bet he'll think it was worth it, though. How's the party been?"
"It's been good" she smiled. "It's even better now."
A few minutes later the countdown began and 2015 turned to 2016. Chuck and Emmy clinked their flutes together and each took a sip of champagne before setting the flutes down on a nearby counter. Emmy wrapped her arms around his neck and pulled him close for a kiss. He kissed her back with more affection than he had in some time, wrapping his arms around her waist. The kiss deepened and he heard someone jokingly telling them to get a room. When their lips parted he smiled at her though wasn't quite matching the beaming smile on her face.
"Happy new year, plunder bunny" she said.
"Happy new year."
He pulled her closer for a hug. The moment felt strange. He was glad she was having such a great time but he couldn't help but wonder if spirits would be as high when they welcomed 2017. In fact he wasn't even sure they would be kissing each other at the stroke of midnight next year. Instead of being something that kept him afloat his relationship was beginning to feel like a burden.
So that's that. Next chapter should be up shortly since I just need to adjust it to this one. Thank you for reading!