She kisses him before she goes. It's short, perfunctory, and it makes Dan go 'mmmmmmm' against her mouth, lingering, wanting more.

"You should have stayed last night." Blair murmurs, kissing him again, and her hands are slipping under his t-shirt and skimming across the bare skin of his back. Dan can't breathe, can't think. Only feeling is left.

Somehow being in London was like being in some sort of alternate universe. Here he can kind of forget that Blair walked out on him. In this moment it was only them, no Chuck, no betrayal. It's like the last few months never happened and they were back to being Dan and Blair with nothing between them.

It was too easy to forget.

"I couldn't stay." Dan whispers the truth against her mouth as he kisses her again. She presses herself even closer to him.

"I've missed you so much." she sighs.

They kiss again, and again, sweetly, a little more urgently, then Dan finds himself pushing her away and Blair stares up at him, searching his face.

"Please..." she intones breathily. Dan's heart skips a beat and he wants nothing more than to keep kissing her, to taste her again, but he knows this is no different than New York and nothing will erase all that is between them now. He touches her face, tracing its features with his fingertips and Blair closes her eyes.

"Stay safe." Dan whispers. He kisses her on her forehead and closes his eyes and silently promises her that he will do whatever is in his power to protect her.

"Always." Blair smiles. She shoves something into his hand, and this time it's not a gun but a phone. A burner, she tells him, untraceable, a safe line. Just in case. In case she gets caught? in case something goes wrong? In case she has to call it off?

It's all about the mission.

Then she is gone, the door clicking shut behind her, the ghost of her kiss on his lips, and Dan is standing alone. He shivers a little, suddenly feeling chilled, or maybe because he knows what lies ahead and Blair will be in danger and he suspects that Bart Bass wouldn't take betrayal lightly.

Dan never wanted to be an actor but here he is, about the play the role of a lifetime. And if something goes wrong, if he isn't convincing, Blair will be caught. His heart is beating hard and he thinks he can hear its telltale rhythm echo through the flat. His mouth is dry, his tongue feels thick, but he's still frozen. He stands there, letting all his thoughts run together into one long stream of consciousness soliloquy, and Dan wishes more than anything he could manage to move and get a pen and start writing, because this might be some of the best shit he's ever produced. He doesn't. Then finally he moves, willing himself to do what he knows he needs to do. To get ready to walk into the lion's den, one step at a time.

It's a long day. Dan showers, shaves, pulls on jeans and a t-shirt he'd washed at the laundromat down the street, the last of his cleans clothes. He leaves the flat, heads out to the street, walking past shops and restaurant, hands shoved into the pockets of his coat, head hunched down.

It had been two days since Blair had appeared back in his life but it felt like at least a lifetime ago, if not something that was happening to someone else. Not him. He would wake up and everything would be the same and Blair would be married to Chuck and Dan would be alone. There would be no fucking CIA, no Bart Bass arms dealer, no spy games to be played. He would be alone again.

Dan knows better.

He ends up ducking into an Indian hole in the wall and ordering a curry and some naan, sipping on a mango lassi, when he pulls out the phone Blair had gave him and contemplates it.

It would be morning in New York, the sun lighting up the streets, making things seem brighter and cleaner than they really are. Rufus would be waking up, probably making coffee, maybe planning to head to the studio for the day. Suddenly Dan misses his dad. He turns the phone over in his hand and then, on a whim, he dials the country code for the states and his dad's number.

It rings.

"Hello?" Rufus' answers after a couple rings, his voice formal and a little tentative, and Dan knows he didn't recognize the number.


Rufus is happy to hear from him, his voice echoing like he's an ocean away, and Dan wants to be there with him, sitting at the counter in the loft with a cup of coffee, and he would pour out his heart to him and tell him how topsy turvy his life had become in the last couple days, and he would tell Rufus that he's still in love with Blair despite his best intentions, and maybe his dad would have some ideas how to dislodge something that has become too deeply embedded in him.

Not that Dan really wants to stop loving Blair.

Dan tells Rufus that he's in London and things are going fine. He tells him that he went to the National Gallery and he's eating the best curry he's ever tasted, that it's been raining and he's thinking about his next destination. He thanks him for the journals and says he's sending another one soon. He leaves out his new life of espionage and his role as sidekick. He doesn't tell him anything about Blair or that in a couple hours he's going to take an elevator up to penthouse suite of a fancy hotel and threaten to hurt Chuck Bass. Some things are better left unsaid.

Rufus says things with Lily are going poorly and Serena has been sleeping all day and refusing to come out of her room, and that Eric returned from Sarah Lawrence and has been keeping vigil in the living room. He tells Dan that he thinks his marriage might actually be over and Dan responds that you never know how quickly things can change.

"Have you given any thought to when you're coming home?" Rufus asks casually, and Dan knows the question is far from casual.

"Soon, dad." Dan replies, and he's telling the truth. After this he thinks it's time to go home, to sleep in his own bed, to be done with Europe and running away. He doesn't know what will happen with Blair and he can't think much beyond getting through tonight, but he knows that home will be his next destination.

"Good." Rufus says. He pauses for a brief moment, then adds. "I miss you, Dan."

"I miss you too dad."

They talk a little more about Jenny, and a possible trip over the summer, then Dan makes some excuse, telling Rufus he needs to go, tells his dad he loves him, and he ends the call.

The day is coming to a close and Dan only has a couple more hours. He heads back to his flat, splashes water on his face, tries to watch some television, but fails, then finally heads out again, finding the nearest pub and ordering himself a pint. If he's going to act drunk he might as well make an effort to smell a like a brewery.

Dan thinks through the story Blair had come up with, telling him that when lying it's best to stick as close to the truth as possible. He's been in London a couple weeks (true) and he saw Chuck on the street. Heartbroken (true) he follows him and finds out where he's staying. He goes and gets drunk, then returns to the hotel and confronts Chuck about stealing Blair away from him. Blair uses the distraction to sneak into Bart's room with her super-spy camera and a USB drive and gets what evidence she can. Dan will try to keep Chuck busy for at least five minutes. She won't get caught.

The phone in his pocket jumps and Dan startles then pulls it out.

All is good, still Go Time, B

Dan swallows and his mouth feels parched so he takes another drink. He looks at his watch and sees they have one more hour. Time to head toward the hotel. He pays the bartender then heads out to the street and starts walking to the nice area of town where the hotel is. His pace quickens and every nerve feels like it's tingling. As he walks Dan thinks through all the things about Chuck that he hates. He feels his anger toward Bass that lurks beneath the surface start to boil up.

There are a lot of things to hate about Chuck Bass, but the one that Dan hates the most is Chuck's need to win, and that he thinks he's finally won the ultimate prize. He hates how he treats Blair like a possession, some sort of prize. He hates that he can't see how vibrant and smart and self-possessed she is. He hates that he can't see that she belongs to no one.

That will change soon. This thought makes Dan smile. Chuck sold Blair to his uncle for a hotel and Blair has now sold out Chuck Bass and his dad to the United States government. Tit for tat.

He arrives at the hotel and he's a little early, so Dan walks around the block and pretends that he's not entirely nervous, and thinks about that little gun that Blair carries, and tells himself not to worry, that Agent Waldorf can take care of herself.

Dan enters the lobby of the hotel, which is opulent and spacious, makes his way to the elevator bank and impatiently pushes the button a couple times.

"Come on, come on." Dan whispers.

The elevator doors slide open and he steps in, gazing around at the dark wood panels and there is something he always likes about elevators. They remind him of kissing Blair's bare skin and in the middle of his game of espionage Dan finds the time to blush.

Jesus, she has an affect on him. The Blair Waldorf appeal breaks through at inconvenient times.

The elevator rockets upward, going to the very top of the hotel and when the doors slide open Dan finds himself staring into the face of one very startled Chuck Bass. He is standing in the middle of a large living room, dressed in a suit and tie, a handkerchief tucked into one pocket and Dan thinks that Chucks actually looks quite dapper. He's a little sorry to ruin his visage. Chuck's eyes widen at the sight of Dan Humphrey standing in the elevator, then they narrow and Chuck's mouth opens to hiss out his name.


Dan steps out of the elevator and he clenches his fist tightly and silently apologizes to Blair for what he's about to do. She is standing across the room watching him as he steps toward Chuck and Dan sees her mouth the word 'no' as he pulls his arm back and sends his fist into Chuck's cheek with a satisfying crunch.

"Fuck you, Bass." Dan says.

Blair's eyes widen and Dan sees one of the doors leading out of the living room open and the tall, angular figure of Bart Bass moves into his line of sight. Chuck is staring at Dan and rubbing his jaw with his fingers. Bart is moving toward Dan, his hand up, saying something Dan doesn't quite comprehend, but he thinks he's telling Dan to back off, then Bart is turning to Chuck and hissing something about needing to count on him to not drag his problems home with him, and maybe he's not ready for the big leagues. Chuck looks at his dad and back to Dan and Dan sees Blair scurry toward the door Bart just emerged from, and he remembers that Bart wasn't supposed to be there, and for a moment Dan panics and forgets what to do next, then Bart turns away from Dan and Dan realizes that he's going to go back to his room and he'll find Blair there.

"You stole her from me," Dan grits out from clenched teeth and he pulls his arm back again and hits Chuck a second time.

This time there is blood on his knuckles and trickling from the side of Chuck's mouth and no matter how much Dan hates Chuck, he doesn't really want to hurt him like this, but if he doesn't keep Bart and Chuck focused on him, Blair is going to be caught.

"You destroy everything you touch. Bastard"

Taking a deep breath, Dan throws himself at Chuck and they both tumble to the floor. He hears Bart yell for someone named Ivan, and Chuck is pushing at Dan and the roll back and forth on the plush carpet that covers the floor of the room, and Dan hears himself say that he loved her, that he loved Blair, and she was gone, and it was a little too close to the truth. He remembers Blair telling him that a good lie will always be closest to the truth.

There are people running into the room and someone is pulling Dan off Chuck, and he is hyperventilating, chest rising up and down, and Dan has the metallic taste of blood in his mouth. He feels strong arms wrap around him and Dan thinks this must be Ivan, and Chuck is struggling to his feet, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand, walking toward Dan with a little bit of a limp.

"Humphrey, how did you find me?" Chuck spits out.

"Lucky coincidence." Dan answers. Again, close to the truth, but not that close. Chuck gets within inches of Dan's face and then winces at the smell of beer that Dan had splashed on his shirt before heading to the hotel.

"She chose me." Chuck says cooly with the air of the victor. "You might as well accept it and move on to writing your pathetic romance novels, or whatever they are. She's mine."

Dan lunges toward Chuck again, no longer caring that he's as much of a victim as Dan is, wanting to tell him the truth, that he's being played, that he hasn't won, that he's the mark in a giant con that's being run by the person he thinks has chosen him. The arms around him tighten and Dan feels something cold and hard push into his ribs.

A gun.


Not good.

"You're a mess." Chuck says cooly, recovering his smooth countenance and no one would believe the two men had been rolling around on the floor just moments before. "Ivan, escort him out."

Dan struggles half-heartedly but he knows that it's now game over. He hopes he's done enough buy time, and as Ivan starts to drag him backwards toward the elevator Dan's eyes dart around the room. Chuck is standing with his arms crossed. Bart is behind him, his face shadowed and menacing, and that's when Dan realizes something is wrong.

Blair is still in Bart Bass' room.