Title: "Be So Happy"
Character/Pairing: Blair, Dan, Chuck
Spoiler: "Riding in Town Cars with Boys"
Length: Part I of III
Summary: Dan can't save everyone, but he can give them the endings they deserve.
Disclaimer: Not mine, just borrowing them for a few paragraphs.
Author's Note: So this fic is a result of several things:
1). seeing M83 live. Or rather, hearing "Teen Angst" live. It does things to my nostalgia button
2). my deep-seated hatred of this season and what the writers have done to Blair. Since when did all of Queen B's problems revolve around choosing a man? And yes, I realize I'm writing this and then telling my story from Dan's perspective. Still…it works, I think.
3). my compulsive need to write this season the way I wanted it to be
Title courtesy of Heartless Bastards. Enjoy.
It starts with cake.
His phone rings, interrupts the inflammatory message he's writing on his fake twitter, and pulls him out of his reverie. He's been sitting in his pajama bottoms for three days having a flame war with himself, while his phone practically buzzes itself off the kitchen counter with righteous indignation. Maybe it's time to let go.
He slides his finger across the screen and puts the phone to his ear, expecting another lecture from his dad, but it's Blair Waldorf who cuts through the haze of self-pity.
"Humphrey," she barks into the phone. "Come over."
He glances at the clock. It's 8:15. If he has to go all the way to the Upper East Side and back, he'll never be home in time for Revenge. Plus, he's barely spoken to her in a month. He doesn't even know what's going on in her life anymore. "Blair, I'd love to help, but I'm kind of busy."
"You're doing nothing of consequence, Humphrey, and I need you now."
He glances at the computer, the tweet he's started typing out, and he can't believe his whole life has become an orgy of negative press. He has a dvr and nothing but free time. "Okay," he says as he shuts down his laptop. "I'm heading for the train."
He doesn't need to take the subway. There's a car parked outside the loft and he's wrapped in the UES before he even leaves Brooklyn. He leans back against the plush leather and closes his eyes.
He ignores how familiar – expected – it all feels.
When he finds Blair, she's surrounded by the cakes. Brown cakes and white cakes and yellow cakes and cheesecakes and even pink and red and deep black. There's a tiny woman with enormous glasses beside her, jotting notes as Blair samples and rejects and spits into a napkin Dorota holds in an open palm.
He wonders, not for the first time, how much she gets paid, until he remembers how he changed his plans in less than thirty seconds when Blair Waldorf beckoned. They're all victims in her game.
"I'm here," he says and Dorota looks relieved while the gnome-like figure to Blair's left puts down her notepad and announces that she's taking a break.
"Good, you can help," Blair says and shoves a fork in his direction.
"What am I helping with?"
"Wedding cake, Humphrey! This isn't something I can do alone. Nate and Serena are working and my mother is still in Paris. You're the only person left. Help me choose."
"Shouldn't Louis be doing this with you? It's his wedding too."
"Louis is on a business trip," is all she says but her lips are pinched and her eyes are too bright and sharp. There's Chuck and the man he's become, and Louis and the man he's proving to be, and there's the man he's been all along. He could rub salt in the wound, make her open her eyes to the truth, but that's not the person he wants to be to her. Instead, he picks up his fork and digs into the closest slice. "Let's get to work."
They narrow it down to chocolate or vanilla but Blair still can't choose. The chocolate is too rich and the vanilla is too bland and nothing seems to be just right. His teeth hurt from all the sugar, but he doesn't give up. He won't be another person to let Blair down.
"Any one of them will be fine," he tells her even as she shakes her head at him.
"This is a royal wedding," she reminds him. "Fine isn't good enough."
"I like the chocolate a lot…" he starts but trails off when he sees a slice of something pink lurking untouched behind the rows of plates. "What about this one?"
"Strawberry, Humphrey? Do I look like the kind of person to put fruit in my wedding cake?
"Well, you're stuck. Give it a try."
"Blair, I think I gave myself diabetes from all the sugar we ingested. The least you can do is give it a shot. You might be surprised to find you like something different."
"Fine," she says and shoves a forkful in her mouth. She chews and mostly looks disgusted, but can't quite hide a smile of satisfaction as she swallows. "I can't believe Sylvia even suggested this cake for me. It's like she doesn't know me at all."
Dan nods, turns back to the chocolate and vanilla, and tries to help her choose.
He thinks about the way she smiled when she ate the strawberry cake. He wonders if she even knows herself.
There's a text the next morning.
Apparently helping Blair settle on vanilla wedding cake has repaired their friendship and he wakes before dawn with his phone buzzing insistently against his cheek.
There's two texts and a missed call and they all say the same thing: Bring bread.
There's no bread in the loft but there are three day old pizza crusts and he tucks them into a plastic bag before blearily padding out to the waiting towncar.
He's never been a part of Blair's tradition but he has no trouble following the directions the driver gives him and finds himself at the edge of the Lake. Blair is there in a checked coat and red hat that makes her skin glow even though no one should look so beautiful so early in the morning.
She doesn't say a word, but does reach out with one hand, red-wool covered fingers grasping in the air, and he holds out his own hand and waits to feel those small, slender fingers wrapped around his, but she snatches the bag from his grip.
"Unacceptable, Humphrey," she says as she slides off a glove to open the bag. "The ducks deserve better."
"Yeah, they probably deserve the best, but it's literally the crack of dawn. I did what I could under the circumstances."
"You could have stopped at the market."
"I didn't want to keep you waiting."
She looks like she wants to say something, the way her mouth pinches and her eyes narrow, but Dorota makes a noise behind her and the mood is broken. "Well, I appreciate the effort."
She turns to the pond and throws bread to the ducks. All he can see is her profile, flushed pink cheeks and bright eyes, and he's never seen her so at peace. He thinks of the expensive gifts Chuck and Louis used to shower her in; apparently, old pizza crust does the same in a pinch.
Dorota is lurking in the background all along and he can feel her staring at him, or rather, the back of his head. He ignores it for a while, throws bread with Blair, but it also feels like Dorota's trying to bore holes into his skull and it gets to him.
"What?" he asks because he knows he needs a haircut, but it's not even 6:00 am. He can't be blamed for the monstrosity atop his head.
"Strawberry not so bad," she says and he shakes his head and turns back to the pond and Blair and the serenity gracing her expression.
He can still feel Dorota's eyes on him the entire time. The Waldorfs definitely aren't paying her enough.
There's a Gossip Girl blast the next morning.
He tries to ignore it and get on with his life, but he can't ignore the text that follows.
thank you for helping her smile
He stares at it a long while, lets the truth sink in: it's comforting to know he's in the same boat as Chuck Bass.
Louis sends out the list of Gossip Girl source sand almost destroys his fiancée's entire world.
Blair tries to rationalize it the next day during a screening ofThe Philadelphia Story. "You wrote a book exposing everyone you know," she reminds him. "You're not one to talk."
"That book was never supposed to be published and when it was, I took responsibility for what I did. I didn't write it to hurt people."
They both know the same can't be said of Louis, but Blair tries anyway. "It's not who he really is," she insists. "He thinks he needs to compete with Chuck, but I know how to fix him."
She turns back to the movie and he keeps his mouth shut.
She's made her choice, even if it's the wrong one.
There is something wet on his face. It's either the least erotic, erotic dream that he's ever had or the roof is leaking again. He doesn't particularly want to wake up and face either option, especially when he does open his eyes and realizes it's neither.
Monkey is calmly licking his face while Chuck reclines against his bedroom door, sipping from his dad's "Welcome Back, Kotter" mug. It smells like coffee, but Dan has a strong suspicion it's also laced with scotch. He closes his eyes and opens them again, makes sure he's really awake, but there's far too much purple in the room for it to be a dream.
"Chuck?" he asks and blinks a few times to brush the sleep from his eyes. "What are you doing here?"
Chuck shrugs and puts down the book he was flipping through. "You're library is pathetically predictable."
Dan glances at the book – Fortress of Solitude – but keeps on going. "You didn't answer my question."
"We've been banned from feeding the ducks and Monkey is tired of Bergdorff blondes. We thought he might develop a taste for hipsters."
"You know you're in DUMBO, right, not Williamsburg?"
Dan glances at the clock: it's 7:15 am. He's tempted to turn over and go back to sleep, but there's something in Chuck's eyes that keeps him awake, something that reminds him that you don't have to be a shut-in to feel alone.
"Give me ten minutes," he says and throws back the covers, swings his feet out of bed and heads for the shower.
They spend the day tossing sticks for Monkey in Brooklyn Bridge Park and drinking lattes from the local Starbucks.
It's not the worst way he's spent an afternoon.
"What do you want?" he asks Blair one afternoon. They're not watching a movie, but they are bent over the Sunday crossword with mugs of tea steaming at their elbows.
It's the most he's said to her all afternoon. The companionable silence has been a refreshing change from her constant crises of faith. He hates to kill the mood, but he can't ignore the truth either. She's not here with him because it's the first place she wants to be.
It takes her a long time to respond. "I want to be happy," she finally says, eyes resting on 77 across. "All I've ever wanted is to be happy."
"Does Louis make you happy?"
She smiles the way she did in high school, the way that tells him the words slipping off her tongue won't be the full truth. "I'm going to be a princess, aren't I?"
He moves his hand over hers and fills in the missing piece of the puzzle. Doom: destruction, or some other terrible fate.
Louis comes for Thanksgiving.
Lily is thrilled to have royalty in her home, but no one else smiles very much.
He shares three pre-dinner scotches with Chuck. Blair doesn't smile at all.
The paparazzi notice Louis' absences and the papers blow up as if Georgina is back in town.
"He's the wrong man for her," Chuck says into Dan's ear. He's perched right behind him, carefully instructing his personal barber as the man lops off Dan's curls. It's his words that startle Dan though; he's already used to Chuck's refusal to acknowledge personal space.
"He's who she wants," Dan reminds him. "You know Blair – she gets what she wants."
Chuck's fingers still on Dan's shoulder, dark curls falling around them. "And neither of us gets what we want."
St. Jude's flashes through Dan's eyes, Yale and Inside and all the failed attempts with Serena. He's used to living without what he wants. "She gets to be happy," he says softly. "There's nothing we want more."
Chuck's fingers tighten over his shoulder. "It's all I've ever wanted."
Dan meets his eyes in the mirror, bright and shining, sees himself there. This is what real love is: the girl gets happiness at the expense of their own.
Blair appears in his loft a few days later.
He shouldn't be surprised. He's seen the photos in the paper and the constant presence of photographers outside the penthouse, but he doesn't put it all together until he takes in the enormous circles under her eyes and the rip in her stockings. He's not sure who the girl is standing in front of him.
"They won't leave me alone," she says, bottom lip quivering. "I didn't know where else to go."
"You're always welcome here," he says even though it's a little redundant after she already broke into his apartment and has Jo Malone candles burning on every surface.
He opens his arms and she curls into his chest, wet cheeks buried in the soft flannel of his shirt.
He closes his eyes and holds her tight. Even though the moment isn't about him, he wants it to last.
She stays a week and completely dismantles his apartment. He's not sure he minds. The place smells better and looks nicer than it has since his mom was in residence.
They make their way through his collection of takeout menus and his Netflix queue, robbing the Audrey catalogue blind. He mostly doesn't care. He likes being with her like this, where the whole world can't watch them.
It's the only time he feels like he truly knows her.
Serena comes over one afternoon while Blair is in the bath.
She takes one look at the apartment, the soft music and steam seeping from under the bathroom door, the pile of dvds on the counter, the high heels lined up by the door, and takes action.
"I know what you're doing," she hisses, keeping her voice low so Blair can't hear, but not retracting a hint of venom. "Blair and Louis maybe having problems, but they're still engaged. This is not the time to be throwing your hat into the ring."
He sighs and crosses his arms over his chest, tries to remember when he thought the sun rose and set on this girl's shoulders. It's been a long time since he learned to see through her. He's not going back. "That's not what I'm doing," he explains. "There are paparazzi everywhere and she needed a place to crash. We watch movies and eat pizza. There's nothing more to it."
He'd forgotten that Serena learned to see through him too. "You're in love with her."
"Yeah," he says quietly. "I guess I am."
Serena looks horrified and like she might cry, but she pastes a smile on her face. "How did that even happen?"
He smiles a wry smile to match hers. "In spite of myself, and honestly, many times in spite of her, I mean…I didn't want to. I've been trying to make it go away, but how do you kill a feeling?"
"I don't know."
"I'm not doing this because I want her to choose me. I'm doing this because I want her to be happy."
Serena's eyes get misty and there's more emotion there than he thinks he ever saw in all the days he was with her. "Dan, you're one of the good ones, you know?" She comes closer and brushes a kiss over his cheek. "I love you both," she says softly. "Take care of both of you."
The bathroom door opens almost immediately after Serena leaves and Blair emerges looking fresh and new and five years younger. She wears just a robe, her face scrubbed clean and her damp hair falling in twisted ropes around her face, and she looks lighter than he's seen her all week.
"What do you want to do?" she asks, turns her face so she can look into his eyes.
He could kiss her. It would be so easy to bend his head and brush his mouth against hers the way he's wanted to for months, but he takes Serena's words to heart.
He orders a pizza and pops in a fresh dvd. He watches her laugh and dries her tears, makes sure she eats and gets eight full hours of sleep.
He can't write her a happy ending but he can keep her safe until her world crashes down.
His dad calls and demands he leave the apartment for a few hours. Blair rolls her eyes when he asks her permission and he takes it as a sign that he can go out for coffee.
Still, when he comes back she's crying. It's not the pretty kind of crying either, but loud gulping sobs that make her face splotchy and her breathing hitched. Even so, she's the most beautiful girl he's ever seen.
She's hugging a pillow to her chest and it pulls tight the fabric of her dress, highlighting the rounded curve of her belly. His chest actually hurts, seeing the truth there with clear eyes: no matter how many days she hides out in his apartment, she's having a baby and marrying someone else.
"Blair, it's okay," he says and sits beside her, lets her rest her head on his shoulder. "I'm here, we'll get through this." He doesn't know what the problem is but he knows he'll stand by her through anything.
"I watched High Society while you were gone," she says. "Do you think Tracy and Mike will be happy together?"
He ignores the implications – past loves reuniting – and holds her closer. "I think it's a movie. In real life, you have to make your own happy ending."
"I can see the parallels," she says. "Me, Chuck, destiny…we're supposed to be together."
He pushes past the ache in his chest. "If he's what you want, I won't stand in your way."
"It's not what I was thinking about though. Grace Kelly never made another movie. She got married and had children and that was that." She pauses, rests a hand over the slight bump of her belly. "I thought I wanted to be a princess. I didn't realize it meant giving up my entire life."
He doesn't try and talk her out of it. He was there when she gave up school and her job and almost her friends. He spent the last few months ignoring those things in his own life. He knows how much he needs them to feel whole. "You have to choose, Blair. I can't decide what you want. This is something you need to do on your own."
"He's the father of my baby," she says and fresh tears spring to her eyes. "My dad left when I was fifteen…I won't make my own child go through that."
"My parents were married twenty years and the entire time my dad loved someone else. There is a third option here."
He almost laughs at the horror in her voice, but instead leans in to brush her hair from her face. He makes it so she has no choice but to look into his eyes and the ache in his chest eases when she doesn't look away. "Take it from someone with a tendency for raising other people's babies. You'll never be alone."
"Tell me what to do," she pleads but he shakes his head. He'll do almost anything for her but he won't do this. "I can't make this decision for you, Blair. You're the one who has to live with it."
She closes her eyes and breathes in deep and when she opens them they're the clearest they've been in over a week. "I can't marry Louis," she says and her voice is barely a whisper, but he hears her all the same. "I can't marry Louis," she repeats and he lets out a breath he didn't realize he was holding.
"Because you love Chuck?" he whispers because he has to know: did he put this all into motion so she could be with someone else?
"Because I love me."
"We all love you," he says, and all the truth in those four little words hangs in the air, but if she hears what he's really trying to say, she doesn't let herself fall into his trap.
"I'm going to need you, all of you, but especially you. Did you mean what you said, about helping with the baby?"
He feels the familiar pang in his chest that comes with thinking about Milo, but he thinks about the ways he can do it right this time and the pang settles into a warm memory.
"I'm here," he promises. "I'm not going anywhere."
He pulls her into his arms but she's the one to hold on so tight he thinks she might never let go.
There's no blast the following morning, but there is a story on the front page of the Spectator. As her friend, Nate's paper is full of tact and respect, but it still lays out the truth in clear black and white: the fairytale wedding is off, Blair won't be a princess, Louis is going home.
He doesn't hear from her, but Serena assures him that she's fine and he leaves it at that. The girls are experts at navigating crises – he'll let them weather this storm alone.
It's Chuck who wants to talk.
"Thank you," he says and Dan swallows his surprise and puts the phone on speaker.
"I just kept her fed for a week."
"She's not marrying him," Chuck points out. "Maybe now she can have the ending she deserves."
"Yeah," he says. "I guess she will."
He hangs up, ignores the lie he told Chuck. He knows Blair will finally have the future she deserves. He just wishes it was with him.
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