Title: Try Honesty
Category: Books » Gossip Girl
Language: English, Rating: Rated: T
Published: 05-12-08, Updated: 06-21-08
Chapters: 15, Words: 55,636
Chapter 1: Prologue
Summary - Chuck struggles with the new emotions that his relationship with Blair unleash. He is at a crossroads between who he is and who he pretends to be. He lies to perserve his who he was, and that lie spirals totally out of control. By the end he will need all his friends, but do any of them still care enough to help?
Prologue - Guilt
Chuck Bass doesn't do guilt. Guilt is based in morality, in a belief in right and wrong, black and right. He doesn't believe in that, he sees the world in one continuing shade of grey. Or at least he did. That was before Blair and the fluttering insects. The butterflies that had soared right through him, setting off a chain reaction and dragging a thousand new emotions out in their wake. That is why instead of relaxing against the black cushions; Chuck is seated on the edge of his chair. Instead of laughing at his drunken brother, he has one hand at ready, prepared to stop him from tumbling on his side. Instead of mentoring Eric into a life of debauchery; he is very nearly letting Eric mentor him.
And that thought is terrifying.
So he shuts off his mind, and scans the room. It was dark, but so was he. An expanse of black, broken by rails of silver and a light dusting of white: It was very cliché and very unfamiliar. They had begun the night at the Palace, but no quantity of hundreds could convince the bartender there to serve Eric. Bart had seen to it and Chuck was far from impressed at his father's lately discovered parental responsibilities. A twinge of what could have been envy crawled up his throat before it was doused by another swig of his scotch. Who was Bart to play father of the year?
He remembered a different scene, set years before. It was seventh grade, or maybe eighth, the memory was hazy. He had brought home his first "A" in English, courtesy of a petite little blonde, a fine piece with a talent for the pen. His father had demanded the two celebrate, and that celebration included a bottle of champagne split between the two at the Palace bar. Of the entire night, the only things he remembered clearly were how comforting the buzz was and how he should have told his father the truth. Enterprising fellow that Bart was, he might have loved him more for it.
Now that same hypocrite was desperate to protect the golden boy, even from the influence of his own son. So Chuck was cast out to protect the innocent. It was all a fucking joke! Not that he expected anything further from Bart. He had learned to lower his expectations because disappointment was a hard pill to swallow. Even lowered expectations could not hide the truth, however, and the truth was that he had wanted to belong.
"Drink up Eric," Chuck commanded and his quasi-brother did as told. The kid's face was already red through, and he was leaning precariously on his seat. 'Shit' Chuck muttered under his breath. Eric couldn't have been more than one hundred and fifty pounds soaking wet; Chuck should have known he'd be a lightweight.
Chuck was hit with a twinge of discomfort in his throat again, but this time it couldn't be doused by scotch. 'God dammit!' He muttered further. It was becoming a familiar feeling by now: Guilt, the emotion that prevented one from having a good time. 'Fucking Blair' he was muttering a full conversation by now. It was all her fault, all these new feelings had started with her.
"What was that?" Eric asked. The boy wavered precariously close to the edge of his chair, and Chuck stuck a hand instinctively out.
"Nothing," Chuck said in a tone meant to halt further inquiries. The subtle approach was lost on Eric, whose lopsided smile made Chuck glare harder into his empty scotch glass.
"It's okay," Eric attempted a pat, but fondled more air than arm. "We're friends, you can talk to me."
Chuck edged down in his seat, ignored Eric's last comment and began to scan the room. He was beginning to regret how forthright he had been with his brother. It was just that Eric had been so honest with him, and Chuck had felt an obligation in return. 'Fucking Blair' he muttered again, leaving the blame for all uncomfortable emotions at her feet.
"Is it her again?"
Chuck slammed his glass down on the table. The waitress spun around in surprise. "Can I get another scotch," he spread distain with every syllable.
"I understand," Eric shook his head unsteadily, "you don't want to talk."
"You are becoming more perceptive each day," Chuck snapped, and then felt that stupid stabbing emotion again. He drowned it with more scotch and kept his eyes moving. There was a crush of bodies everywhere, but he found nothing to tempt. His standards had grown too high.
Then it happened, that calming feeling of untamed lust. He had almost passed her by, a lone dark-blonde at the bar. That was until she bent over to retrieve her cell phone, and displayed those legs. Even from across the room he could see the definition in them. They were smooth, taunt and as his eyes grazed upward he saw that it was reflected through her figure. She had nice breasts, and though her face was partially hidden, the profile was promising. From that moment lust overcame all rational thought. It was a comforting emotion, a familiar one, and under the right circumstances a most productive one. "What do you think?"
"The one in the gold dress?" Eric asked hesitantly.
"Yes," Chuck let his eyes dip down to her legs again. They would look sensational wrapped around his waist. He turned to his brother and saw the confusion on his face. "Oh, I forgot."
"I'm gay, not blind," Eric reminded him. "She's pretty, but don't you think she's a little old?"
Chuck laughed at the mere suggestion, but resignedly moved his eyes upward again. She was drawing one finger lazily along the rim of her martini, and staring directly at the door behind them. He studied her critically, and while she wasn't doe-eyed perfection, she was also far from aged. She couldn't have been more than twenty-five, and Chuck was not one to discriminate. "With age comes expertise," he reminded his young protégée, before abandoning him to his own devices.
He planned his attack with every step, but within the final two her phone rang and Chuck did a side-step. He glared at the man seated on the stool beside her, and just as history would predict the man scampered off and Chuck claimed his place. Her attention was focussed on her phone, and Chuck listened with half attention, focusing the rest on her.
She was taller than him, and those legs he had admired from across the room stretched a mile this close up.
Her hair was so dark it could have been brown, but a thousand threaded strings of gold kept it light.
Where are you?
He could catch the slightest scent. It was a tart, citrus blend and he was relieved by the absence of rose.
Her dress as cut to flatter her curves without giving the impression of doing so.
He spent his time tracing every inch of those legs with his eyes, until his gaze fell on something else. Was that pleather?
How about tomorrow?
Could he pick up someone who carried a fake leather bag? He stared more closely and noticed little creatures painted on the side. Were those butterflies? The most detested of all insects! Then he noticed the writing and breathed a sigh of relief. It was a gym bag. He could forgive her the oversight on a mere gym bag.
Okay, before work I'll grab some fresh herbs from that market on 5th to make your favourite.
After all, he recognized the necklace that she was sporting. It was a Tiffany piece, and based on the diamonds, must have cost 7K minimum.
Without a goodbye, the blonde snapped the phone shut and tossed it into her purse.
"I wouldn't dare stand you up."
She turned his way and he was shocked a moment by the clarity of her eyes, a rich green that judged him critically. She took in the curve of his lips, the tilt of his chin, hesitating briefly at his eyes.
He knew that he had her there. "Another for the lady," he called to the bartender and within moments another apple martini surfaced.
The woman pushed her hair distractedly from her face. She looked him from top to bottom, and then raised one eyebrow. "Shouldn't you be delivering my newspaper or something?"
Chuck choked on his scotch, and before he could recover himself, his target downed her martini in a single sip and fled. Chuck was left wondering what the fuck had happened. Nevertheless, he wasn't one to dwell, and quietly fled back to a laughing Eric.
"We're leaving," Chuck barked.
Eric stopped laughing long enough to nod in acknowledgement. "But the night is young," he added once the air returned to his lungs.
"True enough," Chuck admitted, "but I have some shopping to do tomorrow morning."
Chapter 2: Chapter One
A/N – Thank you blood red kiss of death for the review of the Prologue. I decided how I want to format the story and so I changed the first post a bit (just the beginning, but it's worth reading the new couple paragraphs at the start). Anyway, this chapter has a C/B moment (I'm big C/B shippers but this story isn't centred around them). Chuck is done flirting with 'Lewis' by the end of this chapter, but she reappears later
Please, please review! I'm such an insecure newbie and could really use the encouragement.
Chapter One – Inferiority
Chuck Bass doesn't do inferiority. To be inferior is to doubt ones abilities, and Chuck never doubts himself, he makes others question themselves. He is rich, handsome and charming. People want to be like him; he doesn't want to be anyone else.
Except sometimes he does.
That was why he was here; shivering on a cold spring morning, outside a half darkened market. He was studying the pedestrians, searching for an amber-haired beauty. But why? The woman he pursued was beautiful, but not exceptionally so. He had bedded better, but perhaps better wasn't the way to describe it. He had bedded more beautiful women; beautiful women who were too drunk or flighty to care that they were being seduced. Dim-witted women that he couldn't wait to throw out in the morning, because speaking with them was an exercise in torture. But then Blair happened, and rejection happened. Real rejection bred of real feelings.
Within that rejection there was a thread of truth. Blair was too good for him. Women like that never saw him, or if they did it was only as a night of flight and fancy; a mistake, a mistake so far in the back that he was already forgotten. He had revelled in it, in being the bad boy, but only when it had been his choice. Blair had taught him that it was never his choice. He wasn't worthy of someone like her, someone poised, confident and intelligent. Girls like that wanted guys like Nate, handsome and good (or at least able to give the impression of it).
Sometimes he wanted to be good.
A flash of amber caught moved into his line of sight; a poised and confident beauty.
Maybe he's stick with the impression.
He stalked her through the vegetable isle, hiding awkwardly between carrots and tomatoes. He's briefly distracted by the incorrect categorization of tomatoes, but as his target stops, so does he. She is dressed casually, in jeans that were loose and yet still moulded to her perfectly rounded ass. She wore a deep green tank that danced against her collarbones as she placed three different bunches of herbs in her basket.
Once she was satisfied with her choices, the target moved back towards him. Chuck leaned back against the potatoes, and dressed his face with his most seductive smile. He waited until the last possible moment and then called out, "Hello."
Those green eyes turned on him, the recognition immediate. She turned her head away, rolling her eyes in invented disgust. A slight tugging of her lips and a blushing in her cheeks told another story and Chuck stood even straighter. "Hello" she allowed at last.
Chuck was at a loss for words, he had a thousand pervy comments, a thousand come-ons but none of them suitable for a woman like this. The bad boy playing at being good.
The space grows increasingly awkward by the moment, until finally she breaks the silence. "Grocery shopping?" she asks.
"But of course," he fires back, but there is something in her eyes. She doubts him, and she should. "Though I've heard that one should never shop on an empty stomach, and I am positively famished. I was thinking of heading next door for some coffee and scones. Interested?"
Her light blush darkened, and she hesitated over her words.
"You can't say no," Chuck decided "I'm charming, handsome, and Florence Bakery has the best scones in New York."
She laughed, she couldn't help it. "I'll tell you what; we'll play a game for it. If you win I shall join you, and if I win I shan't."
Chuck's first thought was who says shan't in real life. But his second was to agree and he did.
The woman put her basket down and pulled all three herbs from it. She laid them one beside the other. "If you can identify these than I shall accompany you."
Chuck's eyes grew a little wider, and he was certain the woman was smirking though it played as nothing further than a smile. He eyed the green stalks and decided they looked more like weeds than anything edible. He didn't have a chance, but since when did that stop him from accepting a challenge. "How many do I have to guess right?"
"I'll make it easy, just two."
"Anyone could get at least one," she said in an almost encouraging tone.
Chuck noticed what she was implying. "Parsley," he said confidently, pointing to the bunch on the right.
"Correct," she smiled "but that one was easy."
"Don't glower on my victory."
"You haven't won yet," she reminded him.
Nor was he likely to. Chuck searched his memories, shifting through a thousand menus, pretentious sheets of crème with letters that looped and danced. "Thyme," he said definitively, and her smile grew wider, too wide to be congratulatory.
"Basil," she answered.
Chuck groaned, not only because he was wrong, but because basil had been his next guess.
"Well" the woman prompted him.
"Oregano," he was grasping at straws.
"Cilantro," she corrected him. There was a knowing glint in her eye that did not go unnoticed.
"Wait, you knew I never had a chance. When do men like me ever cook for themselves?"
"Or shop for themselves?"
Chuck pursed his lips together in a controlled smile at being so candidly exposed. He ran a finger along his lower lip as she returned her herbs to their basket. He said nothing until she turned to leave.
"What is my consolation prize?"
"I played your game," Chuck reminded her.
"And now I must play yours," she asked bemused.
"No," Chuck surprised himself "A name shall suffice." He offered his arm in greeting.
She looked hesitant a second, and then shook the offered hand. "Lewis."
Chuck was startled. Lewis, who names their daughter Lewis?
"Don't ask," she rolled her eyes "Apparently my parents felt it necessary to curse me."
He smiled at her frankness, and rather than mocking her, he simply said "Chuck." He didn't add his last name, recognizing that she was one of the few it wouldn't impress.
"It's nice to meet you Chuck."
"Likewise," Chuck admitted, and this time when he smiled it was even. Neither lip rose higher than the other, and Chuck knew the sentiment behind was as genuine as the expression.
Was it possible? He had spent thirty minutes flirting without a single sexual innuendo, flirting that had ended in rejection, and he had still enjoyed himself. He suddenly felt a lot less like Chuck Bass, and the feeling scared him.
Then his eyes caught the fruit display, and his trademark smirk returned.
"Thank God Mr. Covey is leaving at the end of the week," Hazel called out to the other girls. "He is so disgusting."
"Did you see him looking down Serena's top?" Is adjusted her position on the Met steps.
"Just goes to prove that men shouldn't be able to teach girls gym. It's disgusting," Blair gave the definite statement.
"The new teacher is a woman," Serena informed them.
"Where'd you hear that?"
"My mom said; apparently she runs in the Boston Marathon."
"Whoa," Kat was shocked.
"They must have a geriatric division," Blair laughed. The staff at Constance Billiards and St. Judes were a grey haired lot that routinely changed due to the rules of attrition.
"Blair," a loud and familiar voice interrupts their conversation. Her first instinct was to ignore it, and she did. But then it grew louder. "I have something to return to you."
"So return it," she said, at last facing a smiling Chuck. He was smiling too fully to be trusted, not that she would have either way.
"Here?" he questions with a look at the girls, and pats his backpack like it holds the crown jewels.
Suddenly she remembers the gifts, and stands up faster than she can laugh off. She doesn't excuse herself, or explain herself because she is Queen B. Instead, she pushes him forward with one hand, ignoring that heat that passes at the touch. She quickly manoeuvres him a few feet away, far enough from prying eyes to be private but public enough to not be intimate. Blair glares at him, willing only the hate to show. "Don't you remember, you have nothing I want!"
"Well, this is a recent development," he purrs in response.
"Get to the point. I've wasted too much time on your already. Just return whatever of mine you have"
Chuck reached into his bag and pulled out one plump, round cherry.
The colour drains from all but Blair's red-coloured lips. She opens her mouth to speak but nothing comes out. His smirk grows larger once he realizes that the rethroned Queen B has been reduced to a flopping fish. It doesn't last long though.
Her knee finds its way between his legs, and with one swift kick, Chuck drops to the ground. Through the rushing in his ears, and the pain radiating below, he listens to the click-clack of her black Jimmy Choos on the pavement and smiles at the familiar.
Chuck's least favourite word is no, and hearing it repeatedly in the last few minutes has made his skin crawl and his fists involuntarily clench. He's stuck on one side of a glass wall, and the man who holds the key has way too much chest hair and not enough deference. He has refused Chuck entry, and no name or wad of bills can sway him.
He's at Clay, one of those pretentious gyms aimed at the socialite set; the type of women who for five minutes run and lift two pound weights before checking their makeup for the other forty-five. Its walls are pristine white, and a huge artificial waterfall covers the front wall. The other wall is covered in butterflies, hundreds of intricate creatures in blue and green, which are the gym's logo.
"Chuck?" a familiar voice calls from behind him and Chuck finds his salvation.
"Lily," Chuck tilts his head in deference to his future mother.
"What are you doing here?"
"I thought I'd pick up a new hobby," Chuck smiled "a healthier one."
Lily studied him a moment, and then reflected his smile. "That is very commendable."
"But this, man, won't allow me to enter."
The clerk starts to explain the policies but Lily only waves him off. "Sign him in as my guest."
Chuck smirks behind his hand, and Lily moves to leave but then stops. "I'm late for my yoga class, but lets get coffee after," she touches his arm before leaning in closer to whisper "and I wouldn't mention your age, this club is strictly twenty-one and up."
After changing, Chuck made his way into the main gym area. The white theme continues throughout, and the liberal number of flowers and their bright colours are shocking in comparison. 90's music blares too loud from the speakers, and the air smells of sweat and Chanel #5.
He scans the room, trying to decide what to do first. Chuck does not exercise, unless it involves a bed and one or more companions. Then he spots his amber-haired beauty and strolls over. She is running on a treadmill, staring distractedly out floor-to-ceiling windows that cover an entire wall. He leans against the bordering machine, and deliberately lowers his voice. Brandishing his largest smile, Chuck struck. "Hello."
But, of course, Lewis has her IPOD so loud that a subtle and smouldering approach was impossible. Instead Chuck is forced to wave like Brooklyn boy.
She was immediately struck by recognition, followed by a striking of knee, elbow and finally head as she cascaded off the end of the treadmill. The cause was base mathematics: one could not look sideways, maintain a seven minute per mile pace and laugh hysterically at the same time.
"Are you okay?"
"Yes," Lewis sat on the edge of the treadmill and rubbed her head.
"I figured you'd fall for me, I didn't think it would be literally."
She ignored his flirting entirely. "What the hell are you wearing? The new towel boy uniform?"
Chuck looked at his clothes with a critical eye. He wore a neon green shirt that complimented the pinstripe in his tan shorts. A matching headband completed the look. He looked fabulous. "It's Ralph Lauren."
"Insulting my clothing will not get you into my pants," Chuck educated her. Lewis laughed harder, and he took the moment to study her clothing. He nearly choked at what he saw. She was mocking his haute couture while she wore some ratty, old, black t-shirt with the words 'Canadian Girls Kick Ass' stretched across the front. What alternative universe had he awoken in? "I'd happily remove this ensemble," he waved an arm down his length "and change into something more suitable for drinks at the Palace, if I had the right motivation, or the right company."
Lewis shook her head but the slightest smile still played.
"Of course, that is if you have something suitable," he eyed her clothing. "Is that a hole?"
Lewis stared down at her shirt, which was indeed ripped, and pressed one hand to cover.
"Well?" Chuck prompted.
Lewis sighed in resignation. "Since you've been so persistent, I'll give you a chance."
Chuck smiled, expecting nothing less.
"A chance to defeat me."
"I thought I already had."
"If you can outrun me, than I will buy the drinks. If you can't, than I will go home." When his smile deepened, she added "alone."
Chuck figured he was being trapped again, but then he looked at her treadmill. According to the stats, she'd been running over thirty minutes already and at a pretty fair pace. She couldn't manage that much longer, and he was younger.
He took his place on neighbouring treadmill and tried to remember how to operate it. He'd never used one himself, but he'd sat and smoked while Nate ran a thousand miles. He tried to visualize the student's gym at St. Judes, but all he could remember was the stench of sweat and mouldy towels.
"Just push the green button," she instructed him, and he could hear the overconfidence posturing behind each word.
The machine sprung to life, and after a few more instructions Chuck had set a pace to match his competitor. It felt strange to run. That's not to say he never ran before. He's done laps of the track when his gym teacher demanded (which was more often for Chuck than others, a punishment for his disruptive influence), but they didn't feel as forced or artificial as this.
Of course he'd never ran this fast. Maybe that's why he had the pain in the side. It was normal right? Or had he unleashed some hidden illness? It sure felt like it. The pain stabbed, and he pressed his hand forcibly into his side, willing it to disappear.
He glared at his competitor, expecting her to be doubled over in her own pain. Instead, she was gliding easily in pace with the machine, barely breaking a sweat. Not like his own head, or headband, which was already damp through. He'd have to throw it away, he never could stomach sweat.
He wasn't going to lose to this little chit again. He pushed himself further, pretending that he could still breathe, pretending that his throat was not slowly closing.
"Ready to admit defeat?" Lewis asked without a single break in her sentence.
"No…I…am…not" Chuck spat out between reflexive gasps.
"Suit yourself," Lewis answered and pushed those demonic level buttons upward.
Chuck did likewise, pretending he liked the way the room was spinning. Pretended that he'd had one too many scotches rather than one too few breaths. Then everything grew a little grey, like a thunderstorm had blocked out the sun.
The treadmill came to an abrupt stop, and Chuck gasped for air. He let his head hang between his legs until the ringing in his ears stopped. "Did I win?"
"I don't think so," Lewis answered and when Chuck looked up he saw that she had his treadmill's emergency pull in her hand. "Though I give you an "A" for effort."
"You mean I sweated this much for nothing?"
"Afraid so," she answered. "You really need to exercise more. Nearly passing out at twenty minutes is pretty poor for someone of your age."
"It could have been five," Chuck answered between breaths, earning a smile from his competition.
She rolled the pull between her fingers for a moment, slowly, thoughtfully and then replaced it. "Listen, you're obviously charming, confident" she took an obvious look at his clothes "and sexy, but you have no chance. And I don't mean that in a push-pull; please stalk me in another seventeen places kind of way. I mean it in a," here she paused and reached underneath her shirt "I'm engaged to be married kind of way," she finished, producing an engagement ring for inspection.
Chuck stared at the rock; it was a tasteful but enormous diamond, cut perfectly and held in a platinum band. Then he said something he never had before "Okay." There was no comeback, just a mute acceptance. Except he was still Chuck Bass, and he couldn't walk away just yet. "Just for the record, if you weren't engaged, would we have slept together already?"
Lewis laughed at his frankness, and then whispered "Maybe."
"And you would have called me the morning after?" Chuck wore his most devious expression.
"Yes," Lewis agreed before holding her expression a moment in thought. "Until I remembered you must be an undergrad at NYU and I passed that stage years back. Stick to girls your own age," she advised.
"I'll take it into consideration," He finished, watching her tight behind bounce away.
He was going to take something else into consideration. Irregardless of the outcome, she was poised, elegant and intelligent and she had wanted him: So much for Blair's faulty ideas of his worth!
The weekend passed in a blur of pot and scotch; a combination that was fast becoming his new best friend. Well that and Eric. Except that Eric couldn't be his best friend, because Eric was a freshman, a freshman with a good boy image. It was just that in comparison to his brother, Nate had the all the depth of a New York puddle. Not that Nate was his best friend anymore, but of course Chuck wanted him to be, didn't he?
So Chuck sat with the party boys at lunch (the jocks having immediately defected to Nate), feigned interest in their petty jokes, and waited patiently for the moment he could flee to smoke in the courtyard.
When that moment came, he'd rest his head against the cement wall and breathe nicotine-laced air. He'd block out all his thoughts, and search desperately for that elusive state of calm.
"You might need something stronger than that," a familiar voice disturbed the meditation.
"Thanks to you, I can't risk getting into trouble," Chuck eyed his brother disdainfully. "Did you have to puke on the maid of honour dress?"
"Did Serena have to hang it in the bathroom?"
"True enough," Chuck replied, a familiar smirk forming at the memory.
"Still, you might crave a certain numbness when you meet the new English teacher." Eric said with the knowledge of one who has English in the first hour.
"Is she that bad?" Chuck grimaced behind his cigarette. Eric only smiled further in response and Chuck's grimace deepened. "It's all Mr. Covey's fault, up and leaving in the middle of the year."
"I don't think Covey caught cancer to inconvenience you."
"Don't count on it. The man hated me. But even he is better than some trumped-up, aging, socialite cast-off. Tell me," Chuck narrowed his eyes, "does she have the whole lipstick on the teeth problem? Or the hairy upper lip?" Chuck shuddered involuntarily.
"I didn't notice," Eric said honestly. "I was staring at her legs."
"Her legs?" Chuck rolled his eyes in disbelief.
"She has a smoking pair."
Chuck stared disbelieving at his brother for a moment and then dismissively retorted. "The arthritis hasn't set it yet?"
Eric's reply was covered by the warning bell, and studious as the young Van der Woodsen was, he rose immediately to leave. Before he did, he pressed a hand to Chuck's arm and wished him luck.
Chuck flinched at the touch and amused expression. Eric was up to something, and for once he couldn't read him like a book. Oh well, he'd figure it out soon enough. Chuck rested his head against the cool brick of the courtyard and savoured his last few puffs. He was in no hurry; why give the new teacher the wrong impression? He was not the kind of student that arrived early.
Chapter 3: Chapter Two
A/N - at end of the chapter..PLEASE REVIEW :)
Chapter Two – Embarrassment
Chuck Bass doesn't get embarrassed. Embarrassment implies two things: you hold a certain expectation for your own behaviour and you fail to meet those expectations. Blair is the one with the expectations, an enslaving level of perfection that is impossible to attain. Chuck had no expectations for himself because if he never assumes he can become something, than it doesn't hurt when he remains nothing. If he doesn't cares what others think, than he never has to feel the sting of disapproval. He learnt young, that if you nod politely while people tell you you're a mistake, than they shut up faster. And nodding doesn't mean you are agreeing.
Because Chuck has made something of himself. He had spent years perfecting his persona. He is the perfect anti-hero; dark, twisted and unrepentant. So maybe he is bound by expectations after all. Maybe when the bell rings and all the others run to class, Chuck keeps his slow amble not because he doesn't fear punishment, but because people expect him not to.
The halls are empty as he crosses the threshold. He likes it that way. He likes the way all the students sit in their desks, row by row and stare at him as he walks to the back. It is enough to make him want to train as a teacher, well, almost.
He likes how teachers stare at him in disapproval tainted by resignation. He wonders how long it will take to break the new recruit. He looks to the front, but the teacher is hidden behind the storage closet. Hmm, Eric was right. Her legs, currently the only visible part, are incredible. She's wearing a navy skirt, hanging conservatively below the knee, but it can't hide her assets. Chuck has always been a leg man.
Then the new teacher shut the storage closet, and Chuck sees her profile. A very familiar profile framed by very familiar amber curls. Shit! He mutters under his breath and instinctively pulls his binder up to cover his face. His slow amble becomes a quick jog, and he falls heavily into his chair, ducking down low to hide behind Nate's muscular form.
Oh fuck! Lewis was his new teacher? Chuck watched her talk but he didn't hear a thing. Now it must be understood that one could not be a successful womanizer without many uncomfortable situations arising. You can not sleep with (or at least attempt to sleep with) half of New York (excluding Brooklyn, he really couldn't stomach Brooklyn trash) and not expect to see at least a few of them again. He'd had many an uncomfortable situation with servers, neighbours, business associates' daughters, other men's wives, even that one moment with the St. Judes youth minister, but he had never, ever messed with a teacher. He'd like to believe it was from some small, miniscule really, moral code, and not just because St. Judes entire staff was 50+.
"Chuck," Nate hissed at him.
Chuck stared at his former best friend, confused as to why Nate would talk to him.
"Wake up man."
Then he heard it. "Charles Bass?"
"Here," He called out, keeping his head between Nate's shoulder blades.
Chuck visible winced, and then tentatively put a hand up. He kept hidden behind Nate, and prayed that Lewis would just move on. Of course she didn't. She danced from one side of the front to the other, trying to get a view of her new student. Chuck kept ducking to avoid her gaze. Several students started to snicker at the game, and then Lewis walked towards him and there was no further escape.
"That is quite enough Mr..." she began before the words died abruptly. She had seen him, and the change in her was immediate. The colour drained from her face, and she stopped walking. She recovered within a moment, but that moment was very telling. "Bass," she finished with narrow eyes. "I don't condone games."
Lewis returned to the front and continued roll call, and Chuck attempted to disappear into the carpet. Then he gave himself a mental slap. He was Chuck Bass, he didn't do embarrassment. He corrected his posture, and tried to pay attention. In truth, he really couldn't care less. Bart demanded that Chuck maintain a 'B' average and he did. It didn't mean he was a good student, it just meant that he knew how to outsource. He wrote the exams, and paid a few college friends to write his papers. It was a good system, and it had served him well over the years.
The class was pretty informal, Lewis, er Miss. Smith, he needed to remember her teacher name, spent nearly all of it explaining her expectations for the remainder of the year. Chuck doodled in his notebook, which held more plans for social destruction than notes.
Then he read the board, and his heart stopped.
50 In-Class Writing Assignments (Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays)
20 Summative Projects
He did some quick calculations in his head. He was now responsible for 80 of his English grade.
Suddenly all those threats Bart made became very real: losing his suite, losing access to his trust, losing those nice little trips to Monaco and London.
He pinched his arm praying that he would wake up from this nightmare.
By the week's end, Chuck was burnt out and ready for some relaxation. A knock at the door alerted Chuck to his brother's arrival, and tossing the remote on the table, he walked to the door. When he opened it, he saw not one blonde head but two.
"Eric," Chuck chastised in greeting.
"Bart chased us away, apparently he had a bad day and he and mom wanted some alone time" Eric looked like he was about to vomit again. Chuck leaned against the door, and tried to block out the mental picture of Bart and Lily in the thrones of passion. He might have been a pervert, but even he had limits.
"Eric suggested we all bond," Serena said, realizing how stupid it sounded the moment the words left her mouth. She'd been friends with Chuck before Eric ever was.
"I'm sure there are several ways we could bond together sis."
Serena pushed past him and into room 1812. "I'm calling Dan."
"Humphrey," Chuck groaned "I'm not high enough for that."
"I brought popcorn," Eric held up his peace offering.
"I brought sweet release," Chuck took a bag from his pocket, and motioned for Eric to follow him onto the balcony.
"Chuck!" Serena's screeching voice interrupted them. "You are not going to smoke up with Eric!"
"What's the matter Cocaine Katie?" Chuck shot back. That shut her up, though it did beg more questions from Eric. Chuck manoeuvred around them. Serena's voice was so annoying. He didn't understand how Nate could have been so hung up on her. Anytime she opened her mouth, he got soft. Well except that time in the Palace kitchen, but the drink had muted her.
"What am I supposed to do?" Serena asked.
"Join us?" Chuck suggested.
"I don't think so."
"So pick a movie,' Chuck said "I've got hundreds."
When they came back, Serena was still scanning his collection.
"Do you have every Bond ever made?"
Then Serena grabbed a DVD that was stuffed in the corner, and Chuck's heart jumped. He rushed forward but he was too late.
Serena stared at him in shock. "What the hell are you doing with Brokeback Mountain?"
"It was research," Chuck explained "I was trying to understand more about Eric's situation." He looked to his brother for support, but Eric was doubled over in laughter.
"I just want to know this," Serena put the disc back in disgust. She stared at Eric "How could you come out to this," she waved at Chuck "and yet I had to read about it on Gossip Girl?"
Eric just shrugged his shoulders. "I'm not sure anymore."
"Hey, no double-teaming me in my own suite," Chuck threw himself onto his sofa "You are both too ugly for it to be fun."
Serena sat near him, and Chuck stared at her. "I might have had an alternative motive in coming," Serena confessed.
"I knew it," Chuck suppressed a smirk, "I'm irresistible."
"Ew," Serena spat out and inched a little further away.
"Blair told me what you said to her last week. That was crude," Serena shook her head "even for you."
"What can I say," Chuck shrugged his shoulders "Blair brings out the best in me."
"Can't you be nicer to her? She's been having a really rough time and…"
Chuck laughed aloud at this. "Seems to be on top of her game to me."
Serena started to speak further but then the doorbell rang. Serena jumped up. "Dan!"
'Kill me now' Chuck muttered under his breath.
Dan Humphrey made his entrance, greeting Eric warmly, and wrapping an arm firmly around Serena's waist. Chuck leaned down further on his sofa and tried to ignore the Brooklyn boy, but Eric was coughing and tilting his head in Dan's direction. That kid needed an exercise in subtlety.
"Welcome to my home," Chuck offered with a forced smile.
Dan's smile was just as unnatural.
Eric now moved his coughing and tilting to Dan, and Chuck briefly considered hitting him with a sofa cushion.
It seems that Dan was the easier mark, though, for after sitting, he attempted a real conversation. "What do you think of the new English teacher?'
"I think I need a drink," Chuck answered, and Dan promptly shut up. Chuck stalked to the bar, and poured himself a triple.
"Dan thinks she is just great," Serena encouraged the conversation.
Encouraged by his girlfriend, Dan gave a prime example of that verbal diarrhoea that Chuck so abhorred him for. "She is fabulous. Her insights into the creative process are incredible. And those tips she gave for editing, such talent."
Chuck held up his scotch, wondering what the room would look like painted in yellow.
"How did you do on your first couple papers? Her comments on mine were excellent. I really think she's going to help me be a better writer."
Dan looked like he had some strange orange disease. Chuck shook the glass and watched the bubbles dance across Dan's forehead.
"Chuck?" Dan prompted him to answer.
"Chuck got F's,' Eric supplied.
"Eric," Chuck snapped at him.
Eric covered his mouth and apologized.
"Oh," Dan said and the room lapsed into uncomfortable silence again.
"Yes," Serena shouted, pulling out a DVD. "We're going to watch To Die For. I have such a thing for Joaquin Phoenix."
"So do I," Eric echoed from the couch, garnering stares from the whole room. "What?" he asked "You expect me to be lusting after Nicole Kidman?"
"Just put the movie on," Chuck ordered, but soon regretted the command. The movie involved some rather hot scenes between a teenage boy and a hot older woman. This was definitely not what he needed to watch right now. Serena cuddled next to Dan, and Eric fell asleep on the other side of the sofa, but Chuck wouldn't vacate the bar and the small protection it provided.
'I am so much better than them' he kept up the mantra in his head. Well except for Eric, and Serena sometimes had her moments. But Brooklyn? Scholarship boy? Nah, he was definitely better than him.
Then something strange happened. Between his four and fifth drink, Dan's rambles took on some logical sequence, and by the seventh he became damn funny.
So maybe he was having a good time, but that didn't mean anything. He was still better than Dan.
But what was that he said? Oh my God that was hilarious.
Monday morning started with a bang. Chuck sat on a long wooden bench, legs crossed and head resting uncomfortably on the wall behind. He was outside the principal's office, alone; as his father hadn't shown up yet. Not that Chuck really expected him to; Bart didn't waste his time on such trivial matters.
"The new bitch teacher is going to talk your ear off," Matthew called out to him as he past, dragged down the hallway by his father.
Chuck had discovered the source of Bart's poor mood over Saturday brunch. He had received a call from the school; it seemed that Chuck was once again in trouble. The sad thing was he really was trying to behave. But one can not submit an endless string of 'A' papers and then drop a few 'F's and expect no one to notice. At least it wasn't non-compliance again, or cherry bombs in the toilet (hmm, he hadn't done that in a long time, had he finally outgrown the juvenile pranks?)
I mean it's not like they could suspend him for turning in a few poor papers. So Chuck drummed his fingers on the wood, and rehearsed his excuses and apologies. He only looked up when he heard heels on the wood floor. He expected to see a raven haired businesswoman, but saw blonde instead. He raised his eyebrows at the unexpected.
"I hope you don't mind," Lily looked uncomfortable. "Your father had an important meeting..."
"You're a step up from his personal secretary," Chuck assured her "who usually gets these little tasks."
Lily startled at the truth, but before she could question him the receptionist called out "Charles Bass," and the two were on the move.
Chuck reclined in his favourite leather seat. The room's occupants sat in a circle; the principal behind her desk, his English teacher to the side, and Lily beside him. Chuck was unaffected as the principal took out his personal file, or files. She piled one file folder on top of another until they numbered three.
"Three?" Lily whispered to him in shock.
"Elementary, Middle and High," He explained.
Lily shifted uncomfortably in her seat, and Chuck tried not to smile.
"Well, Mr. Bass," The headmistress started in that annoying, condescending tone. He decided to smile after all, which briefly unnerved her but she continued. "You have quite an extensive record of misbehaviour," she said sweeping an arm over his files. "Do you have anything to say for yourself?"
Get to the point he thought, but aloud he said 'Everyone makes mistakes."
"True enough." The headmistress sat straighter in her seat. "However, most of your stunts have been essentially harmless. This is not," she said and pulled out several sheets of paper. "It had been brought to my attention that you are cheating."
Chuck shifted uncomfortably in his seat, and Lily stared the headmistress down.
"That is a very serious accusation," Lily said in an even tone.
"It is, and we don't make accusations like that lightly." The headmistress turned to Miss. Smith, but she sat silently. The headmistress pushed some sheets forward and Lily began to read. Chuck recognized them as copies of his writing. Well of the writing he purchased, and then the more recent pieces he wrote himself. "I'd like to believe it is a mistake, or that Charles simply wrote a couple poor essays, but the style is entirely different. If you go back and compare these two pieces," she pointed to his recent samples "with his exam questions over the year the style is the same." She pointed to the other pieces, the bought pieces "these are far too advanced to be the same writer."
Lily shot Chuck a shocked look.
"Now," the headmistress pulled out several other papers; ones that had the names blacked out. "These are a stylistic match, but they weren't submitted by Charles. They were submitted by friends of his. The writer of these essays is the same, but they are not a St. Judes student. It is a pretty obvious conclusion, and Mr. Covey should have made the connection long ago."
"I see," Lily said between thinned lips, and glared again at Charles. "So what is going to happen to Charles?"
Oh man, he was going to get expelled, he just knew it. But then, wouldn't Matthew have mentioned that? They were both here for the same reason, like John, who was still waiting on that wood bench.
"I've talked to Chuck's father," the headmistress explained.
"Already?" Lily was surprised.
"Of course," Chuck mumbled, "Had to get the high offer in before the market closed."
"Charles," Lily chastised him into silence.
"We've come to an arrangement that I think will benefit Charles."
"Sure," Chuck muttered softly.
"Charles," Lily hissed again. "Please listen to your headmistress."
"Sorry," He mumbled half-heartedly "Please, continue."
"Miss. Smith assures me that Charles writing has the groundwork to be excellent. It is his grammar and organization that needs work. His ideas are original and quite well-informed." She turned to his Lewis who nodded weakly.
"I personally feel that if Charles felt some connection to school he would be better motivated to excel. So we have two requirements. If Charles agrees, than we shall keep this little black mark from his record."
"And if I don't?"
"Then you will receive the label of plagiarist, and no post-secondary institution will consider you, trust-fund or not."
"Maybe I don't want to go to University," Chuck shot back.
"Charles," Lily hissed again "don't limit your options."
"The first expectation is that Charles will attend two tutorial sessions per week until he achieves grade-level competence in writing."
"He may chose to attend with me," Miss. Smith spoke for the first time. "Or he may work with Mr. Wright," she indicated the other English teacher on staff. "Considering I work only half-days, it may be easier to negotiate a time with Mr. Wright."
Chuck stared daggers at his teacher, but then he noticed something. She was damn nervous. Her pen was bouncing between her fingers, and hadn't Matthew mentioned that she was going to do all the talking. She was staring at him, pleading something. Then he realized it. She didn't want to tutor him; she wanted him to pick Mr. Wright. "I'll work with Miss. Smith," he decided "I'm sure we could work something out." The pen jumped to rapid movement. Torture was easy when the target was close. "What is the other condition?"
"You need to pick an extracurricular activity," the headmistress grabbed a list from her desk. "So you can become more involved within the school."
"Hell n..." Chuck began but Lily grabbed the paper.
"He'll be happy to," she called out over his voice. A handshake later his future was set and Chuck trailed his future mother out of the room.
A/N - Thank you so much for the reviews. The original idea for this fic was "what is the most embarassing person Chuck Bass could hit on". It kind of grew from there into a complete story.
Guccigurl - I see Chuck as someone who is always thinking (plotting?) so eventually he'd have to reflect right :) Thanks for the review
Crimson-kiss - From your comment, I bet you guessed who the teacher would be. I tried to put in tons of clues (the Boston Marathon running etc.). I can guarantee you some Blair jealousy, but not for a few posts.
Up Next - Big Bad Bart, A little brother bonding, Chuck Bass writing love poetry? You'll have to wait to see :)
Chapter 4: Chapter Three
A/N - thank you white angle hunter, pokey, im2cool4love and blood red kiss of death for the reviews. I had to push the love poem bit until next week because I added some B/C scenes. I hope you can forgive me for it.
Chapter Three – Trapped
Chuck Bass can't be trapped. His mind is too quick, and his wit too sharp. He is always in control of every possible outcome, plotting not only his own life but the lives of those around him. He plans to every eventuality. His mind is always alive, always thinking.
Except Chuck Bass has always been controlled by only one person, not through hugs or gentle chastisements but shouting soliloquies and threats. Or at least he had been, because now there is another person, but she had no idea of her power, or the words needed to unleash it.
Chuck hesitated briefly before the oak doors. His newly discovered family reclined idly in the living room. Lily wore a neutral expression, Eric a friendly grin, but Serena was trying to suppress a smile.
'Bitch' he muttered under his breath, and shoved the doors open.
"Shut the door please." Chuck obeyed.
"Sit." Chuck obeyed.
The scowl on Bart's face was unmistakeable, and Chuck looked away. He scanned the room, looking for his familiar spot, but everything was a little different. It was still Bart's study but the walls were yellow instead of brown. Chuck was forced to find a new spot to focus his attention. He decided on a small gold candelabrum two inches to Bart's left.
He tried so hard to shut off his mind, to listen but not comprehend, but, even after years of practice, words kept bleeding through.
You continue to squander away every opportunity that I have given you. I didn't have the privilege of attending a private school. I had to work damn hard to get to where I am now. And why? So I could watch my son make a mockery of that success?
It is a rhetorical question that Chuck never answers.
Do you have any idea the embarrassment that your drunken routs and whoring cause me?
Like father, like son.
"You are a disappointment,"the octave rose higher, and the candelabrum jumped under Chuck's watchful eyes.
"Cheating," Bart leaned back in his chair. "Charles" he shook his head, "Do you have nothing to say for yourself?"
He's glad he didn't tell him at fourteen. "I am sorry that my actions have disappointed you," Chuck said weakly and automatically.
"Get out of my sight!"
When he returned through the oak doors, the first thing he noticed was unnatural silence. The three inhabitants stared at him, their shock evident. There was another emotion, a kinder, gentler one that played underneath.
Serena spoke first. "Chuck," she said softly, with pity.
Chuck Bass never could abide pity.
He flipped her off on the way out the door.
Chuck was just resting his eyes when the doorbell rang. He was in no mood to entertain visitors. Several hours at the Palace bar had numbed his emotions, but they were not forgotten.
"This had better be a long-legged beauty in a trench and nothing else," he mumbled as he tottered to the door. The guest fulfilled none of the requirements, but entry was not denied.
Eric hesitated against the door frame, watching as Chuck staggered back across the lush carpet. "Do you want to talk?" Eric asked.
"X-box?" Chuck threw a controller without waiting for a response. He put in racing game before falling onto the couch.
Chuck's fingers moved across the controllers; sharply but not quite fast enough. Eric sat beside him, and Chuck could feel his brother's eyes move repeatedly away from the screen. He was turning to Chuck, and Chuck knew Eric was waiting for him to talk.
"Don't worry," Chuck smiled at the television. "Bart will never talk to you that way. That's the special fatherly affection he reserves solely for me."
"My mom wasn't that great either; she used to agree with whatever my dad said."
Eric nodded his head but said nothing. And that was it, they didn't talk about it further, and Eric didn't attempt either comfort or consolation. He may have let Chuck win a few extra rounds of Project Gotham; but that's only because, at twenty games to three, it was getting embarrassing.
The room was decorated in silk and roses. Music blared throughout, and a hundred couples spun through the dance floor but Blair stood rooted to the spot. She felt that familiar stab of jealousy, except this time it wasn't caused by blonde ringlets but by auburn curls, and this time it wasn't the way he looked at her but simply the way he smiled. Nate and Vanessa moved arm in arm, hand in hand, through the floor. They talked, and when he laughed it wasn't that fake laughter he had with her but a genuine, bubbling mirth. Nate was happy in a way that Blair never seen nor had the power to create. She had tried so hard, for so many years. She had forgiven him every slight, thanked him for every thoughtless gift, fed herself on the scraps of attention and affection he had given her, but it had never made him happy.
Her stomach twisted, and she had to blink back the tears that formed in each eye. It was there plainly in front of her; control and failure in equal measure.
"Dance with me," called the familiar drawl.
She breathed deeply before speaking, "Are you out of your mind?"
"Dance with me."
Her frown was replaced by an uneven smile. "Don't you have a fruit plate to desecrate?"
"Dance with me" he said with greater force.
"I'm not dancing with you Chuck."
"Blair," he layered her voice with condescension. "Right now, everyone is watching you stare at Nate from across the room. There are a hundred cameras pointed, taking pictures of your pathetic little moment. So dance with me and give them something else to talk about. Make Nate stare at you."
Blair looked to the side and saw what he saw. The implication made her offer her hand and he took it quickly. "Why are you doing this for me? I thought you were trying to repair things up with Nate. This isn't going to help."
Chuck clears his throat before lifting one eyebrow in mocking. "I might owe you one," he says with deliberate flippancy. "And I've learnt that owing Blair Waldorf a favour is a very dangerous thing."
And that was as close to an apology as Chuck Bass would ever come. Blair squeezed his hand to show her acceptance.
Chuck pulled her flush with him "You're not getting another chance," he purred "So let's make this look good."
Blair snaked her arms around his waist. "Let's," she challenged him confidently in return. The confidence died when she met his eyes, traced the familiar curve of his hips, and felt his soft, teasing breath on her forehead.
"So, how is it working?" Chuck broke the moment.
"We're going to have our own photo spread on Gossip Girl," Blair watched the phones flash from all sides.
"And the target?"
"Looking right this way."
"Then let's make this look even better." Chuck leaned in closer, his mouth inches from her ear. He was pretending to whisper in her ear, or maybe he really was but she couldn't hear anything through the rushing in them. She didn't need to fake the blushing in her cheeks.
"And now?" Chuck prompted.
"He's mesmerized," Blair whispered. "He just stepped on Vanessa's foot."
Chuck laughed lightly, and Blair could feel every muscle spasm and relax beneath her fingers.
They continued in this vein until the last cord was struck; scheming and laughing in equal measure. By the end, Blair remembered the basis of their friendship. He might have been the devil incarnate, but he made being evil so delicious.
"We could be friends again,' Blair decided aloud.
Chuck stared at her a moment and then answered. "I can't."
Blair watched him turn and disappear into the crowd. She studied the look he gave Nate as he passed.
He had picked Nate over her.
Payback was a bitch.
The books were heavy in his arms, and the school felt eerily quiet (and not in that good, break in for a party sort of way). It was six o'clock at night, and Chuck was walking to his first tutorial. The late hour was his only demand, he did not want it commonly known that he was receiving help. Matthew and John had immediately contracted private tutors, but Bart had never given him the option. Not that he would have taken it. Why endure lessons from some NYU bore when he could spend those same hours tormenting his teacher?
"Good evening Charles," Miss. Smith welcomed him without a smile.
"Please," Chuck's smiled was large enough for them both. "Call me Chuck. I like the way it sounds when you say it."
"Sit down Charles," She emphasized.
Chuck sauntered over to a long table at the side. It held a dictionary, paper and some reference books. He dropped his own books with a thud and occupied one of the two chairs.
Miss. Smith paced the room for a time, arranging and rearranging desks until Chuck realized that she was still nervous. He smiled at the control that gave him and waited. She was even more heavily covered than usual. She wore wide-legged pinstriped pants, and a crème turtleneck. Not an inch of skin remained in view.
When she sat at last, he pretended to listen to what she was saying, but really he was studying her. When she paused, waiting for a reply to a question he had never heard, Chuck decided to speak.
"Who are you trying to play at being?"
"I assure you. I am more than qualified to be your teacher."
"You're dressed like a sixty year old."
"Well, maybe forty-five" he corrected, though Lily dressed much better than this.
"I look fine."
"In oversized skirts that hang around your calves or button-up shirts with every single button done?"
"I am dressed professionally."
"You look ridiculous."
"I am not interested in your fashion suggestions," she snapped back.
"You should be," Chuck narrowed his eyes. "You can dress professionally," he rolled his eyes "without looking like this. Though," here his smile darkened dangerously, " if you wore that little gold number," he paused dramatically "with the neckline down to there," he touched her lightly, tracing a line down her breastbone. She jumped back immediately, slapping his hand away, "the boys would never look away."
Lewis stared at him in shock, and then strode purposely to the front of the room. She hid behind her desk and shuffled papers.
Chuck laughed at her reaction. "Even the black t-shirt wasn't bad," he drawled "After your tumble there was a strategically placed, gaping hole."
Miss. Smith blushed deeper, and Chuck laughed louder. She continued to rifle through her papers, slamming bits back and forth until she emerged triumphant. Holding a single sheet, she marched back to Chuck and slammed it down. "Do this," she barked before fleeing back to the security of her desk.
He eyed the worksheet and then her. He grabbed his pencil and made of show of first examining and then sharpening it. He cleaned it with a puff of air and winked at her.
They kept the game up for another thirty minutes; worksheet after worksheet until Chuck's mind was swimming in grammatical definitions, and the pen stopped bouncing between Lewis' fingers.
Chuck tossed the latest worksheet on the ever-growing pile. "What's next?"
Lewis walked back over to him, but this time she held no paper. She leaned against the desk in front, and spoke. "I would never have said what I did if I had known your age."
Chuck just leaned back and ran one hand through his hair, letting it rest behind his head.
"I mean, you were drinking and then you were at Clay. I assumed you were at least twenty-one. I would never have implied that..."
"And yet you did," he interrupted. "And I can't help but enact it in my mind," he finished, letting his eyes ravish her.
"Get out," Lewis yelled abruptly.
"What?" Chuck asked in disbelief.
"Get out," she marched to the classroom door.
Chuck relaxed further in his chair. He didn't think victory would be so easy. "So we're finished" he asked in triumph.
"For tonight," Lewis burst his confident bubble. "You are here until your writing improves. It is your choice whether that takes three weeks or three months."
"There's no hurry," that dark smile returned. "I thrive under one-on-one attention." Chuck grabbed his books and moved to leave, taking care to press too close to his teacher as he passed. His smile widened when Lewis pressed her back against the door, trying to increase the distance.
"Your short-story assignment is due tomorrow," she called out to his retreating form.
His smile turned to a scowl, and he flinched when the classroom door slammed.
Chuck threw his books on the side-table as he entered the Van der Bass suite. He may have been an outcast, but apparently even outcasts had to return home for family dinners. He was dreading every minute of it.
"Chuck Bass, studying?"
Now he was dreading every millisecond.
"You know me;" he smiled "I'm all about self-improvement." Blair laughed aloud at the logical fallacy. Chuck was going to offer another pervy comment, but stopped himself. He'd try another tactic this time. "You look stunning this evening Ms. Waldorf," he said, layering each word with as much charm as he could muster.
She was confused by his lack of smarminess for a moment, before she narrowed her eyes angrily. "Go fly a kite."
Chuck snickered at her pathetic comeback. "Your lack of originality is disappointing."
"Your entire self is a disappointment."
"My recollection is different," he hit back. "I thought I was wholly satisfying."
Before Blair could retort, Chuck opened the dining room doors. The rest of his growing family was seated. He grabbed a champagne glass from the side table before sitting. If he was going to have to endure a night with Bart's unvoiced disappointment, than he needed the added courage. Bart never talked to him until a week or so after their little talks. Instead, he would stare at him in unspoken displeasure.
Except this time didn't go to plan.
"How was your first tutoring session?" Bart greeted his son. Chuck was so shocked he nearly missed his seat. His father was very, nearly smiling at him and Chuck didn't know what to make of it. Than he noticed something, Lily held her hand protectively on her fiancée's arm, and Eric stared at the whole scene with certain contentment.
"Productive," Chuck answered, trying to ignore Blair's amused expression.
"Miss. Smith seemed very intelligent when I talked to her on the phone," Bart responded.
"Yes, yes," Chuck took his chair "In a new teacher, out to save the world kind of way. When did St. Judes get so desperate for staff that they took to hiring new graduates?"
"We're lucky to have her," Lily countered, pressing her hand a little tighter around her fiancée's arm.
"Ah yes, we probably saved her from a job in Brooklyn, teaching at Destitute High."
"She's not likely to teach high school again," Lily corrected "She's on a two-year sabbatical from her PhD at Stanford."
"Impressive," Blair whispered in awe, and Chuck noted the star worship in her eyes.
"Do you want to start a fan club?" he teased quietly.
"She is a great teacher," Blair whispered back.
"What?" Chuck choked on his soup. "How?"
"I've lost five pounds since she started teaching gym," Blair lowered her voice triumphantly.
"So by the summer you'll have disappeared entirely?" Chuck shook his head in disapproval.
Blair rolled her eyes at him, than spoke for the benefit of the whole table. "She's engaged to one of St. Judes most illustrious graduates." Chuck understood it then, Blair would approve of anyone poised to move in their circle. "Andrew Wiltshire."
"Miss. Smith is engaged to Mr. Andrew Wiltshire." Chuck laughed loudly. "Mr. Wiltshire, of the Wiltshire billions and Miss. Smith of," he laughed again "what exactly is she of? They won't even make it to the alter."
"They have a child together," Blair informed him.
She had a kid? That gave Chuck pause to think, and he reclined in his chair to do just that.
When the last remnants of the meal were cleared, the entire family retired to the main living room for wine and coffee. Chuck chose to share a sofa with Eric, in part because he preferred the boy's company over the rest, but also because it put him directly beside the one shared by Serena and Blair. He sipped his wine and waited for Blair to strike first.
"So Bass," Blair obliged "tutoring?"
"Waste of my precious time," he smiled at her over the rim of his wine glass.
"Because alcoholism and womanizing are all-encompassing pursuits," she teased.
"Don't knock it until you've tried it," Chuck's smile grew wider. "Oh wait, you have."
"You're confident," Blair raised her eyebrows "teasing me when I have such fascinating information to share." She flipped open her phone, "What time are these little teaching sessions?" she inquired. "Just in case an audience wished to form." She typed a few letters.
Chuck was struck speechless, but refused to beg for her silence.
Blair shut her phone with a snap. "I'm not going to tell anyone."
Chuck was surprised. "I knew you had a soft spot for me."
"Hardly," Blair rolled her eyes. "Call it a favour for the other night. I've learnt it is dangerous to owe Chuck Bass anything."
Chuck smiled at her words.
"Charles," Bart's voice boomed over the rest. "Don't you have an assignment to finish?"
Chuck rolled his eyes. He would have lingered longer in rebellion, except he'd been struck by brilliance at dinner.
"Until next time Waldorf," he pretended to bow "Eric, sis."
Chuck sat hunched over his computer. His bed was in disarray, and not from his usual sport. He took a sip of his tea, and then spit the tepid liquid back in disgust. His eyes were blurry and painful, but his mind was running too fast to ask for rest.
"Chuck," Eric entered through the unlocked door.
"In here," Chuck yelled.
"Have you been up all night?"
"Brilliance is not bound by mortal needs," he clicked the print button. "Read this."
Eric took the offered paper and began to scan. A myriad of emotions played across his face as he read the four page document but by the end he could do more than hand it back wordlessly.
"What do you think?"
"This is nasty! Even for you!"
"You don't approve of my heroine?"
"A gold digging whore who uses a baby to ensnare the rich hero?" Eric shook his head in disapproval "How could I find fault?"
Chuck sighed contentedly at his handiwork. He stuffed the sheets into his bag and jumped off the bed. "We'd better get to school. I wouldn't want to be late."
Up Next - Tutorial #2, Chuck Bass writing love poetry?, What is the truth serum and who takes it? ;)
Chapter 5: Chapter Four
A/N - This is kind of a transitional chapter. It talks about cocaine (in addition to my usual strong language). Consider yourself warned.
Chapter Four – Caring
Chuck Bass doesn't care about anyone but himself. He considers it payback for the fact that no one cares about him, not really. He is a disappointment to his family and a novelty to his friends. They care about his parties, admire him for his wit and fearless attitude, or like to use him as a safe haven, but no one really, truly cares about him.
Or maybe it's just easier to believe that because it gives him freedom to live without consequence: to trample on the feelings and lives of others without regret.
Chuck reclined idly on his chair. He was early for his English block, a fact that did not go unnoticed. Each new arrival stared in at him in shock as they took their seats. Chuck enjoyed the collective surprise for a time, but then grew bored. He removed a paper from his pocket and began to read.
Chuck tapped his finger on the list: Yearbook? Nope, Blair. Student Council? He laughed aloud. Social Committee? Nope, Blair. Homecoming Committee? Nope, Blair, wasn't there anything she didn't do? Poetry Club? Nope, Dan. Band? No way! Well, unless he could play the long-legged violinist. Photography? Chuck's eyes stopped there. Eric. He could bond with his brother, and have an excuse to snap beautiful women. Than he remembered looking at Eric's book. Eric was damn talented, and Chuck didn't feel like being shown up for the rest of the year. Lacrosse? Nope, Nate. Track and Field? He had learned that running was not his forte. Besides, Nate did that too. He really had far too many enemies. Soccer? Chuck's lips tugged in interest. He had fond memories of attending Chelsea games with his father as a youth. They were some of the few fond memories he had of the two of them. Not to mention that their uniforms were an elegant purple and green.
He heard the familiar snap of stilettos on the tile and stuffed the extracurricular list back into his pocket.
What he saw surprised him. Miss. Smith wore an a-line skirt that stopped at the knee and a white fitted blouse with the top button undone. He smirked in triumph, but it did not stop him from sliding his story to the side of the desk.
Chuck was staring at her from across the courtyard. Blair tried to glare him into the ground, but he wouldn't look away. He dropped his eyes to her lap and she realized what he was staring at. Ever since that little Jenny incident, and even after being rethroned, Blair had an aversion to yogurt. So on her lap, balanced perfectly, was a fruit plate: a mix of apple slices, strawberries, pineapple and ugh cherries. When she looked up again, she could see Chuck waggle his eyebrows from afar.
"Here," Blair handed the plate to Serena.
Serena looked at her oddly.
"I'm not hungry."
"Blair," Serena asked in a warning tone.
Blair gave a grunt of frustration, knowing that Serena wasn't going to let her eat nothing. She studied Serena's lunch, and then grabbed a quarter of her sandwich in resignation. Blair examined it from every inch, using her perfectly manicured nails to lift up and replace the bread. Then she took a bite.
'Nasty' she muttered under her breath. Peanut butter and jelly? What self-respecting seventeen year old would eat that? And it was full-sugar jam too! Apparently Serena rejuvenated her bubbly personality with a well-timed sugar rush.
When she chanced another look towards Chuck, she saw nothing but cement. He had left, and she resisted the urge to scan the courtyard for his familiar scarf.
When he entered his second tutorial, Chuck immediately saw the one aberration from Tuesday. Rather than being pushed against, the room's long table sat away from the wall. Miss. Smith was already sitting, and Chuck's place was set on the opposite side. It was a better plan than the first day, but she really should have thought it through further. Chuck took his seat with a confident smirk.
Lewis removed his worksheets from a file folder. She laid them in down sheet by sheet and Chuck watched the perfect marks proceed in an unbroken procession.
He smiled smugly.
"As evidenced by this, your poor grammar is not the result of any failure to understand the mechanics of language. This leaves two possible reasons for your mistake-ridden work: either you are unable to successfully transition from theory to application..."
Chuck slowly slid his right foot from his six hundred dollar brown loafers."
"...Or you are too lazy to proofread your own work."
He touched a cashmere-clad sock to her foot in experiment.
"Based on how grammatically sound your recent story was," she glared at him and moved her foot to the side. "I believe it is the later. The problem is that sloppy grammar can become an ingrained habit."
Chuck returned his foot to hers, but this time he let it remain.
"Remove your foot from my ankle."
Chuck inched it upward.
"If you don't remove it right now, the remainder of your tutorial sessions will be with Mr. Wright."
Chuck did a quick cost-benefit analysis before pressing his toes up her calf.
"I heard he really enjoys garlic for dinner."
Chuck calculated again, and then crept his toes nearer to her knee.
"And I decide how long the tutorial lasts." With a little moan of resignation, Chuck returned his foot to the floor.
"So what are you going to do to me this evening?" He purred.
Lewis shook her head distastefully. "I thought we could go over your story," she pulled out a few sheets of paper.
"You made a copy?" Chuck asked in disbelief.
"I always make copies," she explained. "It's St. Judes policy."
Chuck listened to her ramble on the impressive theme but poor transitions, his excellent use of foreshadowing but his weak character development. Within a minute, he began to grow annoyed with her undisturbed critique, and when she put the essay down in front of him, and he saw the bold "B" mark he could contain his disappointment at being thus foiled. "How can you sit here and calmly read a paper that mocks your whole life."
"Because it's not my life," she answered calmly.
Chuck refused to believe her. "So you're in love," he rolled his eyes.
She looked startled and unsure a moment, but then a radiant smile emerged. "I am."
Chuck snorted derisively.
"Let's just say that love hasn't been kind."
"Well that's the thing about love, it can be pretty terrible but it's always worth it."
"How come English teachers are always romantic?"
"We have the weight of literature on our side."
Chuck snorted again.
"Sounds like you're not a fan."
"Let's just say, I've never read anything worth reading," he smirked a little "in a book."
"Books can take you anywhere in the world."
"So can my American Express."
"Can it take you into the past, or the future?"
Chuck conceded the point. "Okay," he threw his hands up in expiration. "What is your favourite novel?
Chuck shifted in his seat.
"You've read it before?" Lewis noticed his movement.
"I've seen the movie," he admitted. He quickly added "why do you like it?" before he could dwell on when or with whom the viewing had taken place.
"Because of Jane. She is an orphan, like me, and circumstance forces her into an unfamiliar situation."
"You're an orphan?"
"Yes. The only thing my parents gave me was a stupid name, and yet I can't change it because it's all I have."
Chuck was struck silent for a moment.
"I have something for you. I was going to give it to you later in the year, but now is as good a time as any," Lewis walked to her desk and took out a book. "At the end of the year there's an independent novel study," she walked back to him. "Before you give up on the printed word altogether, try this, I think you'll like it."
He stared at the book. The Catcher in the Rye. He hesitated, knowing that he was not just accepting a gift but agreeing to a truce.
"It has prostitutes."
He grabbed it. "And what page might they be on?" he asked, characteristic smirk returning to his face.
The truce lasted well beyond the originally planned hour. Once he viewed her as a teacher rather than a potential conquest, Chuck realized that he genuinely liked her. She was so different from the screwed up adults in his life, who were as concerned with petty jealousies and image as the teens they raised.
When he finally returned home, he was well over an hour late for the family dinner.
Chuck doodled distractedly in his notebook while Dan waxed poetic from the front of the room. Miss. Smith asked one student daily to read their work aloud. It was a way to work on their public speaking, or some bullshit like that. More often than not, it meant being bored by Dan's stuttering voice. What originality! Writing about a young boy trying to fit into a new life. Chuck never got why Dan was considered so intelligent. Everything Dan did was so obvious and obtuse. Chuck drew a stick-figure Dan in his notebook, and then surrounded him by makeshift guns. A few dotted lines and an ink explosion later, Chuck felt relaxed.
Clapping signalled the end of Dan's little story and Chuck closed his notebook to leave. Miss. Smith handed out the next assignment.
It was poetry. Disgusting but not unexpected.
Any format would be accepted. Better.
And the topic was: Love
A collective groan went up from the adolescent boys, but Chuck laughed. The bell disturbed his thoughts, and he lingered behind the rest of the class.
"That is a lame topic," he chastised the teacher with a smirk "even for you."
Lewis crossed her arms and attempted a smirk in return. "Try honesty," she suggested, "I heard it works."
Chuck rolled his eyes and left.
Chuck sat cross-legged on his bed, pen in hand and empty page mocking. How was he going to write about love? Love was string music, flowers and butterflies and he was cigarettes, limo sex and ten year old scotch.
He doodled on the page, cursing his teacher for giving such a cursed topic, and his father for choosing now to become involved in his school work.
Wow, that was so lame even he couldn't make it witty! He rumpled the paper and tossed it towards the trash (missing as usual). He took an extra long sip of his scotch and tried again.
Thirteen sheets and a comforting buzz later Chuck was getting annoyed. How was he going to write some cute poetry about love when, to Chuck Bass, love was the antichrist. Or maybe he was the antichrist and that's why loved burned so hard.
What was it that Miss. Smith had said? Try honesty? Well, why the hell not, he'd tried everything else as of late.
When Chuck woke the next morning, he was under his covers but still dressed. He threw the sheets off, and looked down at his rumpled slacks. He really needed to stop caring about schoolwork before he let it ruin his wardrobe. He grabbed the sheet of paper on his side table and gave it a quick once over, smiling smugly the entire time. He left it there and jumped into a shower.
He was just redressing when he heard Eric arrive.
"Chuck, are you ready?"
"In a minute," Chuck answered. "Can you read my homework over?"
"Yeah, where is it?"
"On the side table." Chuck applied some moisturizer to his skin and then rejoined his brother.
"Wow, this is really good," Eric stated when he had finished the piece.
"Of course it is, I wrote it," Chuck countered with a self-satisfied smile.
"No, I mean this is really good. Ms. Smith is going to be really impressed."
Chuck laughed aloud. "You really think I'm going to hand that in?"
"Eric" he chastised him with a single word.
"Yes," Chuck cut him off before he said the words.
"I think you should show it to her too," Eric said, reading the paper again.
"Oh, Eric," Chuck rolled his eyes. "Such freshman innocence," He snatched the sheet back and tossed it into the trash. "How did they ever let you into high school?"
Chuck grabbed his bag, and walked to the other room. He held the suite door open for his brother and tapped his foot impatiently. "Hurry the fuck up!"
It was two days later and Chuck was preparing to hear his sister described in romantic rather than sexual terms. When his name was called instead, Chuck's head shot up in surprise. The surprise was not his alone; the entire class stared and murmured amongst themselves. Except their surprise wasn't heightened by the knowledge that Chuck hadn't handed anything in.
Only Chuck knew that.
When he looked eyes with Lewis, her smile was friendly and encouraging.
Maybe his charm had finally worked. He stood up confidently and walked to the front. Whispers and mumbles followed his every step, and Chuck was shocked to realize that he enjoyed positive attention as much as the other.
"I hope you made it entertaining," Chuck whispered to Lewis as he grabbed the sheet. She returned a strange expression.
Chuck turned to face the room and coughed theatrically. A scattering of chuckles greeted the show, and he stood straighter before scanning the page.
They say love comes like a summer breeze, soft and gentle, bringing fragrant flowers and floating butterflies.
I say love comes like a thief in the night, bearing perfect chestnut curls and blood-stained lips that suck your soul with every kiss.
His stomach dropped to his knees and he stopped scanning. "I'm not reading this," he stared at Lewis, daring her to challenge him.
She didn't. "I wouldn't force anyone to read anything they were uncomfortable with."
Chuck stalked back to his seat, stuffed the page in his binder and ignored the strange hush that had overtaken the room.
"Dan Humphrey," the teacher called in substitution.
Chuck didn't listen to Dan romanticize blonde ringlets or skinny jeans. His mind was occupied by one single thought.
He was going to kill Eric.
Well maybe two thoughts. He couldn't help but feel a smug satisfaction at being a better poet than Dan Humphrey.
"So C.," When had he become C.? Had she not heard him the other night, they were not friends. "I heard about the little incident in English class. I didn't think Chuck Bass got performance anxiety," Blair finished with a little giggle.
"You'd know," he shot back with his signature smirk. He watched her face grow red before continuing to his favourite spot.
Chuck reclined on the cement wall of the courtyard. It was higher than anything else and gave him an excellent vantage of the action below.
He caught sight of Blair again and gave her a little wink. She stuck her tongue out in disgust.
"Chuck," a familiar voice disturbed his game, and made him feel guilty for it.
"Nate," Chuck turned in disbelief. Why was Nate condescending to talk to him?
"How are you?"
"I'm fine?" Chuck's voice turned at the end, making it sound more like a question than statement.
"Yeah," Nate leaned back on the wall. Chuck raised his eyebrows higher in disbelief. "English class was interesting wasn't it?"
Chuck laughed "I guess."
"Do you think I could read your poem?"
Chuck laughed a little louder when he realized the point of Nate's mission. "I didn't take you for a Gossip Girl minion," Chuck teased. Gossip Girl was having a field day conjecturing the topic of Chuck's poem. Alcohol and sex were the main contenders, and she was offering major props to anyone who could procure her a copy.
"I'm not, I'm just curious," Nate admitted.
"Don't you know, curiosity killed the cat," Chuck smirked at his friend, revelling in the familiar camaraderie.
"I'll let you read mine," Nate offered him a slip of paper.
Chuck was intrigued. He couldn't resist the chance to compare. He hesitated deliberately, taking a page from his binder; he rolled it, lit it with his lighter and then used it to light his cigarette. He dropped the burning sheet to the pavement, then smiled at his former friend and accepted the poem.
Ode to Mary Jane
The familiar rush
Turns my mind to mush
The familiar smoke
Makes life not poke
Chuck had read enough. "You wrote about pot?" He laughed aloud.
"It's been my one constant," Nate eyed him.
Chuck shut up at the cut.
"So where is yours?" Nate asked expectantly.
"Right there," Chuck pointed to the ground, and the slip of paper that was now ash.
Chuck couldn't stay mad at Eric for long. Besides, it's not like any permanent damage was done, and Chuck had got an "A". So he decided to invite him along to Matthew Price's party. Matt's parties were infamous, well not quite as infamous as Chuck's, but they were a reasonable second. He figured if Eric was going to be his friend (there he'd gone and admitted it), than it was time to welcome him into the lifestyle.
Within an hour, Chuck was reclined on a sofa with a blonde senior. The girl had too much makeup on; he could feel it rub off on his cheeks as they kissed. Her perfume was a sickly, sweet vanilla that made his stomach turn, but her tongue was crafty and far more uplifting. She was one of those nameless girls that came to these sorts of parties; young, nimble and desperate to fit in. She was nothing like Blair. Why did he have to think about her? He gave a little moan of frustration and she took it as invitation to move lower. Then he noticed something else. "Where's Eric?" he asked.
"I think he got bored of watching us," his flavour of the night suggested before nibbling further on his neck.
Chuck's eyes searched the room but Eric was nowhere to be seen. That stabbing emotion returned, and this time it was accompanied by another that might have been dread. "Get lost," he pushed the girl off his lap.
The blonde scrambled back to her feet, smoothing the wrinkles from her designer dress. She started to cuss him out, but Chuck just walked past. Across the room was the party's host, and Chuck made a beeline to him.
"Have you seen Eric?"
"He's around her somewhere," Matt laughed. "I might have given him a line or two."
"Excuse me?" Chuck asked in shock.
"What? To help him relax."
"You gave my fifteen year old brother cocaine," Chuck's anger grew.
"You brought him to the party," Matt reminded. "Besides, it's not like your suite doesn't always have a bag at ready."
Chuck didn't want to be reminded of the nose candy he kept for girls who liked to party hard. "I don't use it myself," he hissed between clenched teeth.
"Apparently Eric does. Guess he's growing into the Van der Woodsen tradition."
Chuck was so angry that he clenched his fist but before he could feel the comforting crack of Matt's chin, someone grabbed it, pulling him back.
"Not a good idea" A familiar voice whispered from behind.
Chuck glared at Nate, but the interruption allowed him a moment to recover his wits. Chuck never was one for a fist fight, and it would more than likely have ended in him being beat down.
"I heard what he said. Let's go find Eric." Nate tried again.
Chuck calmed himself, and followed his former friend through the house. Their feud was temporarily forgotten as the boys wove through a crush of bodies, searching one room at a time. Chuck should have never brought Eric. He might have been Chuck's friend, but a recently outed freshman wasn't likely to blend in. Chuck felt stupid, and more than a little guilty.
They finally caught sight of Eric in the kitchen. He had collected a small crowd who were hanging on his every word.
"Hey Chuck," Marcus Anders, a senior, called out. "Did you hear about Serena? She blames herself for the end of her mother's third marriage? Apparently she had her first menses on vacation, and got so freaked out that she made Mr. Prescott wash her panties out, by hand. He filed for divorce the next month." The boy broke into riotous laughter.
"Eric is spinning some very entertaining stories," another explained.
The boys broke into laughter again. "Serena is going to kill you."
"Or Dan is going to give you another black eye."
"Dan," Eric's voice rose above the rest. "Do you know that Dan has football sheets? I overheard Serena talking about it. She finds them kinky."
"We're going,' Chuck grabbed his brother's arm and wrenched him to his feet.
"Hey Chuck," Eric laughed as he nearly tumbled over.
"Do you have any stories about Chuck?" Someone called from the crowd.
"Now," Chuck tried to drag him forward.
"There's this one."
Chuck's pulse sped out of control.
"Chuck tried to pick up the new teacher." Eric waved his arms wildly. "Before she was the new teacher."
There was a second of relief when Chuck realized a certain brunette was not the topic. That relief vanished as Eric kept speaking.
"But she totally shot him down. Harshly! And now he takes weekly tutorials with her."
All eyes in the room turned on Chuck; Eyes that judged and mocked in equal measure. Chuck felt trapped.
Blood Red Kiss of Death - There will be lots more Bart & Eric, this story is as much (if not more) about Chuck/Family than C/B or C/Teacher
Delphin - I hope I delivered (the further information about Miss. Smith. Otherwise, there are bits and pieces coming). Or feel free to ask and I'll PM you the answer
Pokey/Candycorn - Thanks for the comments
Babyblue - Lewis is more of a foil (opposite) to Chuck than a true romantic interest.
Next Post - What do you think Chuck's response will be? (go ahead and tell me, I'm curious, click the review)
Chapter 6: Chapter Five
A/N - For the Eric - Chuck scene, it goes between what's actually happening and Chuck's recollections of the night before. I've tried to make it simple by putting the flashbacks in italics but I'm sorry if it's still confusing.
Chapter Five – Lying
Chuck Bass doesn't lie, he bends the truth. He massages it, makes love to it, but never fully abandons it. Liars are inferior, so unoriginal that they depend on a blank slate to create. The masterful embroider, embellish and inflate but the thread of truth remains.
Except Chuck isn't always the master of himself.
Can't win them all. The phrase haunted him. It's what he should have said. It's not like he'd never been rejected before. He might have been charming but he was not a demigod. And the tutoring? He would have had to endure ribbings for the rest of the year, but Miss. Smith was planning to return to Stanford before next fall.
Except that's not what he had said. That's why, instead of sleeping soundly, Chuck Bass was boring a hole into the cream-coloured ceiling. It's why the computer lay beside him, open to Gossip Girl.
Spotted: C adding teacher to his impressive list of conquests. I don't know about the rest of New York, but even I'm calling bullshit on this one. Where's the proof C?
And that's why he was royally screwed.
Chuck could hear the leather sofa creak from the next room. Eric was waking up from where Nate and Chuck had laid him. They guessed that a night on Chuck's sofa was safer than a return to the Van der Bass suite.
Chuck kicked of his Egyptian cotton sheets, and prepared to assist his brother. When he reached the other room he saw that Eric was squinting hard against the morning light. Eric was paler than usually and his normally straight hair was matted and knotted around his face.
"How do you feel," Chuck asked while Eric struggled to sit.
"Like I got caught between two mating moose."
"You've got to stop watching Wild Kingdom reruns."
The second Eric got upright; he dropped his head back down between his knees.
"Don't puke on the carpet. It's seventeen dollars a square foot."
"I'm just going to stay here until the room stops spinning."
"Up you come," Chuck slipped an arm under his brother.
"Do I have to?"
Eric staggered towards the bathroom, leaning heavily on Chuck. "Am I supposed to feel like this?"
"What?" Eric would have managed a glare but it hurt too much.
"What you did was stupid. And if you ever do it again I'll kick your ass!"
Even with the pain coursing through his body, Eric couldn't help but laugh because Chuck was far from intimidating. The laughter was a mistake, because it brought yesterday's dinner along with the snigger. Eric dropped to his knees before the porcelain god.
Chuck stood politely to the side, waiting to help if needed, and trying to ignore the growing stench. The events of the night weighed heavily on him.
"What's she tutoring you in - pick up lines?"
His mind rolled as fast as it could have, testing each possible snarky reply but it wasn't fast enough. He was trapped within his own persona. He was the playboy and womanizer of the Upper East Side. But is that who he was? Or simply who he played at being? If it was an act, could he leave the stage? What would he be if he did? Who would he be? The fear of the unknown was choking, and the familiarity of the known comforting. He was a coward a hundred times over, but he was still Chuck Bass, playboy and womanizer.
One lip tugged instinctively, automatically "Who said she's the one tutoring me." He would have called that his first mistake, but his life had been one continuing series of mistakes. The first time he had walked, he had hurled himself across the room at breakneck speed, only stopping when he cracked his head open.
Chuck watched the implication of his words hit the group. Their dismissive posture turned darker, fuller and then they smiled. They smiled at him and each other.
He meant to leave it at that, just enough fuel to light a fire, and distract attention from the fact he was just a stupid student, but not enough to set it ablaze.
Than Eric screwed that up too. "Is that why you were two hours late back the other night."
A bang drew Chuck's thoughts back to the present. Eric had sat up, throwing his head against the shower door.
Chuck flushed the toilet and handed Eric a cool washcloth. "Do you remember anything?"
"I remember everything," Eric moaned regretfully. "I'm in so much trouble; Serena is going to kill me."
"Don't worry, she'll attack me first,' Chuck reminded him. "Then, she'll be so weakened from my brutal murder that she won't have enough strength left to finish you off."
Eric cracked a smile, and then continued. "I am so sorry; I can't believe I did all that."
"Don't worry about it," Chuck offered him his hand. "Let's get you a strong cup of coffee. It'll help kill that headache.
As they re-entered the living room, Eric sat heavily on the sofa and Chuck opened his suite door. He took a tray of coffee and scones to the breakfast bar. He grabbed the carafe and poured Eric a cup
"Is it true?" Nate had asked after relinquishing Eric to the sofa. Chuck hesitated over his response and before he could make any Nate had waved him off. "You know what? I don't care whether it is or not. Make it stop either way."
"Why would I want to do that?"
"Because Andrew Wiltshire is not a nice man."
"Oh Nate," Chuck had pretended to preen. "Are you worried about me?"
"If it was just you I'd encourage the ass-kicking." Nate had said that, but an hour earlier hadn't he had stopped Chuck from getting his butt kicked?
"Miss. Smith is a big girl."
Nate hadn't said anything else; he had just turned to leave. Before he reached the door, Chuck asked. "How do you know?"
"He dated my cousin in high school."
"Chuck?" Eric's voice interrupted his thoughts.
"Is it true, what you said last night?"
Chuck dropped a couple sugar cubes into the hot liquid, staring intensely at the ripples they created. He stirred it slowly, than said, "I'm Chuck Bass aren't I?"
If Eric could have seen Chuck's face, he would have seen that it was entirely devoid of its signature smirk.
To avoid the consequences of his insinuation, Chuck deliberately avoided his regular haunts for the weekend. He stayed in his suite, forbidding all company but Eric, and all entertainment but X-box and old movies.
He prayed that this would be the weekend that someone got alcohol poisoning or awoke in bed with four strangers. He could have felt ashamed for such evil thoughts, but he was Chuck Bass and his growing guilt allowance had long since been used up. No superior scandal surfaced, and Chuck's insinuations remained prime fodder; theories and supposed proof taking the place of rational thought and real evidence. By school on Monday, Chuck's guilt-induced vacation had produced little more than an improvement in his gaming skills.
The situation was so acrimonious that Chuck had considered taking public transit just to arrive comfortably late and avoid socializing. Ever since Bart had merged families, he had been forced to ride-share with Eric and Serena. This meant that every single day not only did Serena's moronic chit-chat kill his morning buzz, but that Chuck had to arrive not only on time but fifteen minutes early.
In the end though, Chuck opted for comfort and elegance. He could not quite differentiate between public transport and punishment (forcing his son to take the bus was a typical Bass reprimand for poor behaviour). As the Bass limo came to a halt, a small crowd formed to watch. He ought to have slammed the door after Serena and Eric and drove away into obscurity, but Chuck Bass doesn't cower. Instead, he straightens his collars and coat, and then stands tall for his adoring public. There is a smattering of cheers and cat calls. Chuck should feel guilty, but he has always thrived under praise, no matter the source.
Then he heard the familiar clack of stilettos, and watched as the crowd parted in reverence. Blair walked right up to him, eyes flashing. "I heard you had a chest cold this weekend," Her lips tugged in amusement "very convenient."
"Not for me."
"And yet your eyes aren't any more bloodshot than usual."
"It's the superior Bass genes."
Blair laughed one short, abrupt chuckle. "Stop the act. Do you actually expect us to believe that you slept with Mrs. Smith?"
"Jealous," Chuck raised both eyebrows, "You had your chance."
"Whatever," Blair wrinkled her nose in disgust. "Where's your proof," she challenged him.
"I don't have to prove myself to Gossip Girl," Chuck glared at her "or to you."
"See, I knew," she pursed her lips "You're totally lying." Chuck tried to laugh her off, but Blair was holding her ground and the crowd's attention. "It's actually kind of pathetic."
"Her first name is Lewis, she's a Canadian orphan and she has a little heart birthmark right there," he spat out, touching his finger to Blair's side, an inch below her breast.
Blair jumped back from his touch. "You are vile."
Chuck shrugged his shoulders, but as he walked away he whispered "green doesn't become you."
Last block of the day found Blair and Serena hunched over computer monitors. Their Social Studies class was researching the end of World War II, but Blair's computer had taken a decided detour.
"That doesn't look like the invasion of Normandy," Serena looked over her shoulder.
"Shhh" Blair hissed, looking at her teacher; the elderly man was still reclined in his seat, reading the newspaper. "I'm proving that Chuck googled his information."
"Did he?" Serena asked, inching closer to Blair's computer.
"First article," Blair wore a self-satisfied smile, and turned the monitor to face Serena.
Pride of the Foster System
Doctoral candidate Lewis Smith is the pride of a foster system that has undergone extensive scrutiny recently for misplaced files and in-custody deaths. Miss. Smith's life took a tragic turn at the age of three, when both parents died in a car accident outside their Montreal home. Their daughter was briefly placed with her grandmother, but the Parkinson-suffering relation was judged too infirm to care for a rambunctious preschooller and Miss. Smith's long tenure in the foster system began. Miss. Smith moved home often, living with seven different foster families until entering a group home in the Riviere des Prairies area of Montreal as a teenager. This continuity of care allowed Miss. Smith to focus on her studies, and she excelled, graduating at the top of her class. She attended the Universite de Laval on full scholarship before completing her Masters of Education at McGill University. This last fall she was accepted in the Doctorate of Education program at Stanford University, bringing an impressive end to some rather unfortunate beginnings.
When the final bell rang, Blair marched straight out of Constance Billiard. She clutched a printout tightly in her hand, and crossed the courtyard in quick, purposeful steps. When she was within a step of St. Judes, she put her hands forward and flung the doors open. They hit the wall with a bang, and all heads turned her way.
She returned her hands to her hips, daring anyone to speak. No one would, and Blair's eyes moved through the hall, searching for her target. She walked to his locker but it was unoccupied, and try as she might, she couldn't see his familiar smirk anywhere. Blair was about to look outside when the door to the boy's change room opened and out walked Chuck. A little of Blair's enthusiasm died by the shock she felt concerning his attire.
"What the hell are you wearing?" she ridiculed across the hallway.
Chuck closed the gap between, throwing his bag into the locker.
"Don't mock the clothes. Do you know how long it took me to find a matching sweatband? And the cleats?' Chuck turned his ankle to show them off, "They had to be custom ordered." He was clad in St. Judes' purple and green soccer uniform. The boots he alluded to had purple and green stripes across every single inch, as if to prove that Chuck could make something as pedestrian as a soccer uniform couture.
"Yeah, I know. I've never been one to chase balls. Hey, maybe you should join," his finished with his signature smirk.
The rude comment reminded Blair of her original mission. "I'm just here to tell you that you're going down," Blair threatened pushing her piece of paper into Chuck's chest. "Gossip girl already has a copy, and when I prove she has no birthmark the bitch is getting that too."
Chuck scanned the article, but rather than being scared, he felt relieved. There was a logical excuse for his knowledge. But he also knew the rest could not be explained away as easily. "Blair," he deliberately lowered his voice. "Come on, let it go."
Blair didn't look convinced.
"I'm Chuck Bass, sex means nothing to me, and dragging this all up is going to cause more problems than it solves. Just let it die, please," he finished the last in a whisper.
Rather than calming Blair down, his little speech had the opposite effect. The line in the sand grew a few feet deeper before Blair stalked off.
"Here," Serena handed Blair a coffee. "Do you want to head back the other way?" Blair and Serena had been shopping for the last hour, making a circle of Fifth Avenue and the surrounding area. When she didn't get a response, Serena tried again "Blair?"
'This way," Blair grabbed her arm and dragged her across the busy street.
"Blair!" Serena screamed. She threw her hands up to cover her eyes, dropping her coffee in the process. "What are you doing?"
Blair directed the two between swerving cars, ignoring their ear-shattering honks. "Proving that Chuck is a liar."
"And that taxis actually stop for deranged pedestrians?"
Blair waited until feet hit the opposing curb before laughing at Serena's rarely shown wit. "There," she pointed to a figure. Miss. Smith was entering a shop.
Blair didn't stop walking until she was in front of the largest bridal boutique in New York. Her plump lips formed into perfectly symmetrical smile. "I feel like a change of venue," she said, pulling Serena inside.
"Miss Van der Woodsen," the salesclerk materialized from behind satin and lace. "How may I help you?"
Serena shot her companion a desperate glance.
"I'm sure you heard about the unfortunate vomit incident," Blair interrupted.
"Yes, Ms. Van der Woodsen contacted us immediately after it happened. We're working on it a replacement right now."
"Is it ready for a fitting?" Blair winked at Serena.
"Not yet, by Thursday."
"See Blair, I told you," Serena stared at her friend, pleading her to stop.
"It doesn't matter," Blair said dismissively "Miss Van der Woodsen and I came to try some alternate choices."
"Alternatives?" the saleswoman was scared by the mere thought.
"But of course! Her mother is getting married. How many times does a girl's mother get married?" From behind her, Blair could hear Serena suppressing a snort. She continued unfettered "Everything has to be just perfect, and we're just checking to see that there isn't anything more perfect."
The salesperson seemed convinced by this explanation, and started to direct their attention.
"We'll look ourselves, thank you," Blair said with characteristic firmness. The salesperson dutifully fled.
"Blair, what are you doing?" Serena whispered.
"Just follow me," Blair pushed Serena lightly towards a bridesmaid display. "Grab one of those," she hissed.
Serena looked at the pink dress and then looked back at her friend. "It doesn't really fit with the blue and silver theme."
Blair groaned at her friend, and grabbed the dress herself. "Miss Van der Woodsen wishes to try this dress on."
"I do?" Serena whispered in question, earning a well-placed elbow. "I do," she echoed louder to the salesperson.
"Follow me," the clerk waved them beyond the silk curtains and into the changing area.
There were four staging areas, large rooms where brides could dress while their friends commented between sips of champagne. Each of these areas opened to one common space comprised of a large pedestal where a bride stood while measurements were taken, and adjustments planned.
Blair's eyes scanned the change room doors, searching for the one with the tell-tale ribbon.
"This way," The clerk directed them away from Blair's target.
"No," Blair interrupted, dragging Serena in the opposite direction. "This one," she indicated the room beside her ribbon-covered target. "I've had several bridesmaid fittings there. The lighting is superior, and lighting, you know, is everything."
Once the friends were safely behind closed doors, the questions came. "What are we doing?"
"You'll see," Blair answered, pulling out her phone. She set it to camera.
"Blair!" Serena demanded some co-operation.
"Didn't you see Miss. Smith?" Blair reminded her.
"She's no doubt here for a fitting."
"What happens when you try on a dress?"
Serena shook her head, unable to follow.
"You have to change clothes,' Blair rolled her eyes at Serena's stupidity.
"I'm going to get a picture of her in her underwear."
"Blair," Serena yelled in disapproval.
"Just to prove that there's no birthmark."
"Blair," the disapproval didn't lesson.
"Please," Blair shook her head. "Have you seen how the students are treating her? It's our civic duty to uncover the truth and restore her reputation. Besides, I probably won't even make it public. I might just use it for blackmail; I haven't decided yet."
"Blair," Serena tried again, but Blair had already cracked the door open. She had planned to sneak over and open the neighbouring door but Serena hadn't moved fast enough.
Miss Smith stood on the central pedestal. She was a vision in white, clad in billowing gown that cinched dramatically at her waist. But something wasn't right; Blair noticed it immediately. The central space was lined in mirrors, but Miss Smith kept her eyes locked to a narrow strip of carpet on the floor. If that was Blair, she would have examined herself at every angle and to every inch. She would have created a mental picture, and she wouldn't be alone like Miss Smith was now. She would have a horde of friends to triumph over in her victory.
"Are we nearly done? Miss Smith asked impatiently.
"Just a few more measurements," the seamstress replied. She cupped the teacher's chin and pushed it gently upward so she could measure her shoulders. "You are a very beautiful bride," the worker pointed to one of the large mirrors. Miss Smith studied herself in the mirror. Blair watched as the colour slowly left her face, and her breathing become shallow.
"Get it off," Lewis shouted suddenly.
"I can't breathe, please get it off," she yelled again, panic overtaking.
With the assistance of another clerk, Lewis was freed of her bridal dress. When it was pulled to her waist, Blair took a picture and silently closed the door. She turned back around to see Serena was standing directly behind.
"That was intense," Serena commented.
"That was a panic attack. A very useful one." Blair hit a couple of buttons on her phone. "I didn't think it would be that easy."
Serena, despite her earlier protestations, was curious and the two huddled around Blair's phone. Blair had caught Miss. Smith clad in only a bra and the skirt of her dress.
"Now let's see how much of a liar Chuck is," Blair said, hitting the zoom.
Except maybe he wasn't because on Miss. Smith's side, just where Chuck said it would be, was a large heart-shaped birthmark.
An eerie quiet took over the room, before Blair's fingers began to move.
"What are you doing?" Serena asked in shock "I thought you weren't going to send it to Gossip Girl."
"Bitch shouldn't have slept with a student."
A/N - Chuck's firing squad starts at stage left, Blair's is stage right and the author's is ongoing :) Can anyone figure out how Chuck knew that she had a birthmark?
BlairandChuckFan - all will be revealed to Blair by the end
BloodRedKiss of Death - Eric is my third favorite as well, I hope they do more with him next season
I'm2cool4love - I like the idea of Eric/Chuck friendship..can I ship a friendship lol
pokey - the poem from the last chapter is just the first two lines of a longer poem, and even though Chuck burned it there is a copy floating around (it's St. Judes policy to make a copy of all student work :).
missscarlettebelle - I'm preening
delphin4ik - thanks for the review and I hope you enjoyed this chapter
candycorn123 - thanks
Up Next - The consequences of one little lie, Chuck tries to make amends but can he stop things from getting worse?
Chapter 7: Chapter Six
A/N - abuse warning (it occurs 'off-screen'), consider yourself warned.
Chapter Six – Culpability
Chuck Bass doesn't blame others for his mistakes. He likes to see it as his sole virtue; the ability to see himself for what he is. He could have blamed a father who held both insurmountable expectations and harsh reprimands. He could have blamed a mother who was not only ineffectual and weak but compounded this by dying just as he was forming into a man. He could have blamed a culture that provided him with every whim, granted him every vice before he was man enough to control them, but Chuck Bass only blames himself. He knows he wasn't born to be a saint; he's was always the first to be tempted and the last to apologize for it.
It is his glory and his shame.
Spotted: Ms. S trying on wedding gowns; I'd skip the white after this update. It looks like proof has come in the form of a digital picture and C has officially traded up seniors for staff. I don't know whether to be disgusted or oddly impressed so I'll just leave with this thought: Someone should have told Ms. S that nothing stays secret on the UES.
Chuck took two deep breaths to quell his rising fury. He scrolled down the page until he reached the end of the article. It was here that Gossip Girl thanked her source. When he saw BB123 he shut the phone with a snap. The BB stood for Blair Bear.
He had known before he had read it that it would be Blair. He threw the phone on the side table and then kicked the bed for good measure.
He yanked at his tie until it was free and sat on the edge of his bed. He needed to think about how to fix things. The problem was that this wasn't a scheme, it was a raging hurricane and he was at its mercy.
Blair was content with her reconnaissance. She had revealed a distinguished teacher for the slut she was. If there was justice in the world, her fiancée would discover Miss Smith's partiality for teenagers and send her back to whatever back alley she had grown up in.
Blair kept that self-justification up through the night, at breakfast, on the ride to school and even through her first block, but when she reached Physical Education it crumbled.
Miss Smith stood at the front of the gymnasium, taking roll call as she did each morning. Blair's rage should have been renewed in seeing her rival (though she would not admit to her being one), but all she felt was pity. Miss Smith, a natural beauty, was layered in makeup. Even the expertly applied foundation, however, could not hide her split lip, or the purple bruising at the base of her chin.
Blair could feel Serena's accusing glare before she turned to meet it. She crossed her legs together and tucked them under the bench. She intertwined her arms, and turned her head just so, willing herself to disappear entirely. Except Blair Waldorf can't disappear. Nor could her temper sustain after the first wave of guilt. She hadn't thought things through. How could she have not thought things through? She was Blair Waldorf! Queen manipulator of the Upper East Side! Her schemes were planned and executed to perfection. Yet there was no master plan in sending that text; her fingers were motivated solely by uncontrolled rage.
And all the disaster it had wrought was her fault.
Chuck stared at the door and watched as each of his peers entered and took their predetermined seats. There was a social hierarchy in those seats. That's why Chuck, no matter when he arrived, was guaranteed the central seat in the final row. He wasn't ready to claim it. He knew what awaited him. Eric had told him, but somehow hearing it as a rumour (even a truthful one) was different from experiencing it firsthand. He eyed the exit door down the hall, and considered escaping the consequences of his actions. He could pretend that nothing had happened; it was a skill he'd perfected years back. Except he had the sinking suspicion that he was no longer the boy he was years or even months ago.
The bell echoed down the empty hall, and Chuck made his choice. As he entered the room he kept his eyes from the front. The reached his seat with relief, but that relief was temporary. When he looked up he saw Nate. His former friend had turned around, and was judging him with one arched eyebrow.
Then he looked past Nate and saw the source of that judgement. Miss Smith's face was exactly as Eric had described, but seeing it firsthand was more painful than Chuck could have prepared for. Chuck flipped open his notebook and began to draw. Except this time the stick figure wasn't Dan, or Blair, or even Daddy Bass. This time the stick figure was him, and the ink explosion was so intense that he ripped the page through.
He tried to convince himself that he was neither the cause of Andrew Wiltshire's rage nor the reason Lewis chose to stay with him. It was her fault for enduring such a situation. If it hadn't been Chuck's lie it would have been something else. He tried self-justification but he'd never been any good at it, so when the last bell rang he didn't stand up. He was the cause of this misery, and was willing to be part of the solution.
Miss Smith stood at the door, handing out papers as each student departed. She kept one eye on Chuck at all times, and he could tell that she was uncomfortable by his continued presence. When the last student departed, Chuck stood up. She held out the last paper wordlessly.
"Why are you putting up with it?" Chuck asked simply.
"Take the paper and get out," Lewis stood to her full height and glared down at him.
"You can ask for help," Chuck suggested. He wanted to help her and would if she asked.
Lewis laughed aloud, and Chuck could see the irony in his suggestion. "Get out Chuck. Go home to your teenage dramas where the biggest concerns are what to wear to look good, and why lie to tell to look better. When you get to my age, life gets a hell of a lot more complicated." She stuffed the paper in his hands, and pushed him out the door.
Chuck made it only seven steps out of the classroom before his cell vibrated. He pulled it from his pocket and flipped it open.
Spotted: C and Ms. S getting a little closer after class. Is that bile creeping up the back of my throat?
He very nearly launched the phone across the hall. His hand moved instinctively, but he held back in the last moment, took five deep breaths and stuffed it in his pocket.
For the first time in his life, Chuck Bass wished that no one would notice him.
Chuck ran his fingers along his satin-lined blazer, instinctively unbuttoning and rebuttoning it. He pushed the doors to Cranberry open and prepared to meet his expanding family. Cranberry was a pretentious restaurant on the Upper East Side; the kind where the servers wear white gloves and the tip is more than most people's monthly rent. The Van der Bass grouping was here to celebrate, though Chuck had long since forgotten the purpose of that celebration. He had been to wrapt up in his own affairs to pay any but passing attention to others.
Chuck was late as a rule, and everyone else was enjoying champagne and aperitifs by the time he arrived. He smiled politely to his father and Lily as he approached, but as his eyes scanned the table the smile died abruptly. Seated at the end of the table, beside the only spare seat, was Blair. The moment he saw her, his feet stopped moving and his eyes narrowed. She has a lot of nerve coming here. He tilted his head in her direction, his eyes piercing her through.
Did you come here to gloat," Chuck hissed to Blair the moment he sat down.
"No," Blair said truthfully. "Serena invited me."
"Funny," Chuck's voice rose a little. "I thought you delighted in ruining other people's lives."
"One could say the same about you," Blair retorted.
"Did you give it two thoughts before you sent that shit to Gossip Girl?" his voice rose louder. Suddenly he could express all the thoughts he had about himself and do so against another person.
"Did you give it two thoughts before you slept with her?" Eric and Serena attempted to shush the two, but they didn't notice. They were too wrapt up in one another.
"Did you think about the consequences of making it public?" "Of what people might say? What her fiancée might do?"
Blair abandoned her seat to tower over him. "Did you?"
Chuck stood up to match her. "You can be a real bitch sometimes," he yelled.
"Well you're an ass all the time. Blair picked up the uneaten dinner roll from the side of her plate. Motivated by both guilt and rage, she threw as hard as she could at Chuck. It hit him squarely across his pampered face.
Chuck's response was immediate. He grabbed the whole basket of buns and prepared to launch them at Blair in return. Seeing his brother's plan, Eric grabbed Chuck's arm but it wasn't fast enough to prevent several from peppering Blair's pristine designer gown.
Eric held onto his arm before Chuck could do more, and then said "Let's go for a walk." Chuck agreed, giving Blair only one further glare on the way out.
That walk turned into a seat at the palace bar, that seat turned into a dozen drinks, and those drinks resulted in a short stagger upstairs to his bed.
Spotted: C and B having a showdown Western-style. Who's your money on?
The next day brought relief and panic in equal measure. Miss Smith was absent, but rather than allow Chuck respite from the situation, he was considering the cause of her absence. He didn't know what to do. It wasn't like he could stand in the middle of the courtyard and tell the truth; to do so would be to commit total social suicide. Chuck Bass didn't lie about sex; girls dropped their panties gratefully. He had spent years perfecting that persona and now he was trapped in a cage of his own creation.
That evening Chuck went to tutorial, half-hoping, but not expecting to see Miss Smith. As he sat across from Mr. Wright he had few thoughts; one was that Mr. Wright's typical scent of prune juice and stale cigarettes had indeed been made worse by the addition of garlic but the other was that he needed to make amends. He wasn't going to do it publicly, after all, the story was only on Gossip Girl. Gossip Girl was not public media; it was a secret of the under-18 crowd. Someone must have talked to Andrew Wiltshire. Chuck would have to fix that. He would speak to Mr. Wiltshire himself; explain the situation and his own mistakes. Then Lewis would be okay, and the rumours were eventually run their course without destroying him.
The exercise of that plan took him to a tasteful and elegant townhouse. He tried to look in the window, studying shapes and shadows to figure out who was home. He could only see one person, and the figure was definitely female. Perhaps that was better. He could speak to Lewis first and she could arrange a meeting with her fiancée.
Chuck expanded his lungs to capacity, and then stepped into the street. He crossed in several long strides, and walked up to the front door. He reached up to knock on the door but hesitated. He clenched his fist, and ignored the fearful dampness within. He took another deep breath and knocked.
The door opened and Lewis looked from behind it. When she saw who it was, Lewis stepped outside and pulled the door nearly closed behind her. "What are you doing here?"
"I had to talk with you," Chuck winced. Without the benefit of make-up, the purple-green bruising on her chin was prominent.
"Haven't you figured out by now that that isn't a good idea?"
"I just...I mean...I want to fix the situation. To speak with your fiancée."
"That is not a good idea."
"Lewis," a man's voice called from inside. "Who's at the door?"
"No one," Lewis called back before glaring at Chuck. "Get the hell out of here."
They were too late. Andrew Wiltshire's face appeared from behind the door. He was a tall man with broad shoulders and dark hair. When he saw Chuck, the recognition was immediate. "What the hell is he doing here?"
"Nothing," Lewis willed Chuck to move "he's just leaving."
"Go back inside," Andrew commanded.
"Let's both go inside," Lewis put an arm about his waist but Andrew threw it off.
"What the hell do you think you are doing coming to my home?"
"I just needed to..." Chuck didn't even get the opportunity to finish, before Andrew had him slammed up against the cement wall, hand around his throat.
"Andrew," Lewis screamed out. She tried to drag her fiancée back, but he held strong. "Just let him go, he's a stupid kid."
"Shut up," Andrew yelled out and then leaned in closer to Chuck. Andrew pushed Chuck harder against the brick, cutting off his oxygen supply. "If I ever see you within a hundred feet of this home again, I will personally hunt you down, cut a hundred holes into your body and watch you bleed to death."
Chuck wasn't sure that Wiltshire was exaggerating. Andrew held Chuck in place just long enough for little black and red circles to form in his vision. Then he let him go, and Chuck stumbled down the stairs. He looked back only once, and saw Andrew hurl his fiancée into the house, slamming the door behind.
Chuck reclined on his bed, his laptop open. Even after asking himself why, he continued studying the latest post from Gossip Girl. He studied every picture, remembering exactly when each had happened. She saw how Lewis had a hand on Andrew's arm, trying to hold her fiancée back from attacking him. He also knew that with the salacious comments added in, the context changed entirely.
Spotted: C making an evening call on Ms S. Rather than a late-night showing of The Graduate, a furious fiancée was on the menu.
He could feel his eyes grow wet, but Chuck Bass doesn't cry. Instead, he grabs his laptop and hurls it across the room. It hits the wall with a resounding crash, sending bits of metal and plastic in every direction. The satisfaction he feels is short-lived.
A/N – thank you to everyone for the comment, I hope you all enjoyed this chapter; it was a bit shorter so the next chapter can start off with a bang.
pokey, delphin, missscarletteblue and candycorn – you figured it out, it was when she ripped her shirt at the gym
pokey – it could be a lot worse than losing her license
sazad – I promise a B/C resolution
babyblue – yeah, Lewis is pretty poorly treated in this story
missscarletteblue – I'm with you, Nate is pretty boring in my opinion, I always promise more Eric
bloodredkissofdeath/I'm2cool4love – I'm a big fan of the Eric/Chuck bond too, makes Chuck more human
blairandchuckfan – Blair needs to use her power for good
Hmm, never thought of the drama club
Up Next – A bang that starts with Daddy Bass, St. Judes gets some special visitors, and someone says "I love you" (but it's not who you think).
Chapter 8: Chapter Seven
Chapter Seven – Need
Chuck Bass doesn't need anything or anyone. He changes woman as often as his underwear because he doesn't form attachments. His best friend is an empty-headed pothead because he doesn't need anything more than a cardboard cut-out to drink and party with.
Except maybe he does need others. Maybe he changes women, not because he doesn't form attachments, but because he is afraid to. Maybe he surrounds himself with shallow people so he can trick himself into thinking he has no depth. It is easier to be rejected for what you pretend to be, than for what you truly are.
Maybe when he dreams of chestnut curls, he does so because she represents a better part of himself; a part that isn't afraid to need someone else.
Chuck fell to the floor with a thud. He thought he had fallen from the bed, but sheets were still above and below him. There were hands on him, but they were far from the manicured nails he was used to. He opened one eye, blinking against the light. When he could focus, he saw his father standing above him.
"Get up now."
Chuck stared at his clock radio. It wasn't even seven o'clock yet. "Why?"
His father threw a newspaper at him. Chuck struggled to sit, pushing tangled sheets, and propping a pillow behind.
"Page six," his father barked.
Chuck laid the newspaper on the floor beside him, and flipped through.
"What the hell were you thinking?
Prestigious Prep School Covering Up Extracurricular Sex
Every school had a reputed womanizer and staff is forced to sit idly by while the boy makes rounds of the female population. But when that same student engages in sexual activities with a teacher, then that same staff is morally obliged to report. So how is it that sexual activities between St. Judes' most illustrious womanizer and a female staff member are commonly known within the school population and yet police are ignorant of it? Is it a simple mistake, or the fact that this student is the son of New York's most prominent real estate mogul?
The article never named Chuck specifically, but as he read through the rest, distinguishing characteristics made it an obvious conclusion.
Do you have no common sense? Or do you just take pleasure in embarrassing me?"
Chuck couldn't speak, even if he wanted to. His eyes were glued to the newspaper. Since when did the Post consider Gossip Girl reliable source material?
Bart threw some clothes at him. "Get dressed."
Chuck started unbuttoning his silk pyjamas.
"This is a new low, even for you," Bart yelled at him. He went over to the closet and started digging through, emerging triumphant with two suitcases. He tossed them on the bed and started opening his son's drawers.
"Don't even bother," Bart turned and pointed at him. "Do you have any idea how much business I do with the Wiltshire family? With Andrew Wiltshire himself?"
"What are you doing?" Chuck asked when his father started hurling clothes through the air.
"You are done. Get up and start packing."
"I've given you too much freedom. And look what you did with it. Well I hope you've enjoyed it, because it's done."
Chuck's stomach started doing little flips.
"You will live in my home, you will follow my rules, and you will be on such a short lease you'll barely be able to breathe." Chuck was always amazed by how his father could yell but do so in a calm and authoritative manner. Bart had emptied Chuck's drawers. He gathered up the pieces that had landed outside the suitcase and threw them inside. Chuck flinched as his designer shirts were crumpled and creased, but knew now wasn't the time to comment on it. "That's enough,' his father zipped the suitcase closed, stuffing bits of material as he did. "Housekeeping can move the rest."
Chuck pulled a polo shirt over his head. His father tossed one of the suitcases beside him. "Get moving," Bart commanded. When Chuck didn't comply fast enough, his father dragged him up and through the rest of the suite by the arm.
Once they were in the elevator, Chuck tried again. "Father...I."
"Don't even bother," his father cut him off. When the doors reopened he spoke again. "Get into the room. You've got twenty minutes to get ready for school."
"School?" Chuck asked in shock. "You are not making me go to school today."
"I am," Bart opened the door to the Van der Bass suite. Everyone was there, sitting and staring at the two of them. "You've made your bed; it's time for you to lie in it."
"I'll give you a choice," Bart barked. "St. Judes today or Reformatory school tomorrow."
Chuck couldn't argue further. His father would never hedge or budge, his word was final. He grabbed the second suitcase from Bart and disappeared into the bedroom. He threw both on his bed, flipped them open, and started digging through for his school uniform. He pulled out a pair of slacks, but no shirt could be found. He looked at the clock, twelve minutes remaining.
A yellow polo landed on the bed beside him. When he turned around, he saw Eric standing at the door. Eric shrugged his shoulders, and Chuck nodded in return. He pulled his brother's shirt on, and while it was a size too small, the clock gave him only ten minutes. "Do you have some gel too?" Chuck asked.
A quick styling later and Chuck was on the move, looking far from his usually coiffed self.
The moment he stepped from the limo, a hush fell over the crowd. These kids actually read the newspaper? Chuck flipped over his phone and clicked to Gossip Girl. She had a link to the article. That was more believable. He put the phone back in his pocket, and tried to ignore the whispers and looks that followed his every step. Chuck now had an idea what Blair had experienced, and it wasn't pleasant.
The bell echoed through the open air, and Chuck had never been so happy to hear it. Before he walked inside, Eric slapped him on the back. "You'll be fine. If you need me, text."
Chuck nodded his head, and his brother disappeared inside.
By the second block Chuck was growing accustomed to the strange atmosphere that swirled around him. Then the principal knocked on the classroom door. His eyes followed Ms. Montefrier heels as they walked across the floor. She spoke to the headmistress a moment, and then beckoned to him. He wasn't surprised; it seemed that all paths to destruction led from him.
Chuck dropped his pen, and stared at his paper for a moment. He needed a friend, but was too proud to text Eric, and even if he could have relied on Nate, he was absent from school. So he ran a hand through his gelled hair, and took the walk of shame. Everyone whispered as he went by, and for the first time ever, Chuck learned to hate it.
When he reached the door, he saw two men standing behind the headmistress. They wore business suits, but from each belt hung a police badge. His stress level, already extraordinarily high, went through the roof.
"Come with us Charles," the headmistress turned and walked down the hall. She led the grouping to the school's conference room. The room was larger than the school's main office, but decorated in the same cream wallpaper. There were a few chairs assembled around a large pine table. The headmistress settled the grouping and then made a timely exit.
"Good morning Charles," the fatter of the two cops offered his hand and Chuck shook it. "I'm Officer Hill and this is Officer Walker. We work with the New York Police Department, Special Victims Unit."
Chuck laughed resignedly, what else could he do at this point?
"We're investigating your relationship with Miss Smith," Hill took a look at his notes.
"Why? The age of consent is fourteen," he'd had that little tidbit memorized since he turned fourteen. "I am seventeen," he reminded them. "There's no reason for you to be here."
"You are correct," the thin officer agreed, "except the age of consent is eighteen when the older party is in a position of trust or authority over the younger. Then it's statutory rape."
Chuck's mouth formed into a thin line and he stared at the whiteboard across the room. Was the whole world conspiring against him? Why wouldn't everyone just let this die already? The two officers kept talking but Chuck had long since stopped listening. He wasn't going to say a damn thing. Without a complainant they wouldn't be able to proceed. The policemen would go back to their little station, push pencils for a couple days before they laid the issue to rest.
The officers kept up their questioning for thirty minutes, but could not elicit a single response. The only proof that he was listening at all, was the spontaneous laughter that accompanied Hill's suggestion, that Chuck might feel more comfortable if his father was present. At the close of the half hour, Walker went to fetch the headmistress. Chuck followed the grouping obediently back to class.
Once his back hit the chair, Chuck breathed in relief. He had endured their questioning and soon it would all be forgotten. Then the headmistress called out Matthew Price and Chuck realized that no one was forgetting anything. They kept it up throughout the block, calling names of boys who had been present at either the party or in the courtyard Monday morning. By the time the recess bell rang, the police had interviewed several of his classmates.
Chuck lurked only briefly in the courtyard at recess. He was searching for his brother, but Eric was no where to be seen. Chuck avoided his regular table and spot on the courtyard wall, opting to hide out in his next (ironically English) class until the bell rang. He'd grasped the general conversation in the few minutes he'd been there anyway; the police were making rounds of both St. Judes and Constance Billiard.
Chuck sat in the empty classroom. He had his notebook open and pen in hand. He was trying to formulate a plan, to scheme a resolution to his problem but he couldn't come up with anything that didn't involve the mass murder of all that was Chuck Bass.
Halfway through is English block his cell began to vibrate on the desk. The substitute eyed him, but Chuck just watched it make a small journey from one side to the other. Seconds before it fell to the ground, Chuck flipped it open. It was from Eric.
The police just interviewed me. r u ok?
Chuck started to text his brother back, and then stopped. What could he say? He wasn't okay and if he said he was than he'd be lying. If he admitted he wasn't alright than Eric would ditch class and whisk him away. Chuck didn't feel like furthering Bart's disapproval so he closed the phone and set it back on his desk.
The next block was Math and Chuck made a quick pass through the hall before he could be accosted by anyone (including family). He reopened his notebook and tried again, but by the time Mr. Prescott appeared to start the class, Chuck was no closer to arriving at a solution.
Prescott slammed a thick stack of booklets on his desk, and Chuck remembered that today was the Polynomials final. It was good to know that in a day when everything was spiralling out of control, exams remained a steady constant. The truth was Chuck loved Math. He would never admit it to anyone, but he had a true affinity for numbers. It's why he was such a talented manager of Victrola, and why to the shock of his entire group of peers he'd taken Physic as his science credit. Not that he'd explain that formulas were simplistic, or that he could do in fifteen minutes what took most students an hour. No, when asked about his choice, he'd find his characteristic smirk and mention something about a friend in Physics 101.
Except, even the best mathematical brain could not function under Chuck's current level of stress. It didn't matter how many times he read the instructions, nothing made any sense. He had a suspicion it could be addition rather than polynomials and it'd still be incomprehensible. He sat there for fifteen minutes, attempting the first question when he realized he hadn't even written his name on the paper.
Chuck Bass He scribbled in his usual lethargic, half-illegible script. Than he stared at it, at his name and that strange thing happened again. His throat got really constricted and his heart started hammering madly in his chest.
And that was it. He threw the pencil on top of the test, and grabbed his bag. Stuffing his calculator and notebook inside he stood up and walked out.
His teacher said something about a hall pass. Chuck responded with the one-finger salute and kept walking.
Chuck sat at 151. His friends and family would consider it a seedy bar, but seediness, like poverty, is a relative concept for the truly rich. 151 held a great fascination for Chuck; it was the first bar to serve him. It was here Chuck learnt that alcohol could exist outside of hidden bottles and half-empty closets or preteen parties where the giggling was less caused by intoxication than by the sheer naughtiness of having invaded a parent's liquor cabinet. Chuck had been fourteen, and already well on his way to alcoholism.
Now he was seventeen with his own liquor cabinet, but he still came here when he needed to think. He'd spent a few hours here when his father announced his plans to remarry, another few when Eric had told him about being gay, but he had spent a week here when he realized he was in love with Blair. It seemed the logical place to come now.
Chuck had been there since one o'clock, nursing glass after glass of scotch. He had a familiar buzz, but wasn't too befuddled to think. It was six o'clock now and he was still alone. Nate, Serena and Blair all knew his habits, but none had bothered to come. He really hadn't expected them to.
He'd stolen from all his friends. He's stole Nate's security, because that's what Blair was to Nate. He'd wanted the freedom to lust after Serena but the reassurance to return to his Blair; pristine, untouched and deeply in love. Chuck had ruined that. Not just because he had slept with her, but because Chuck had cracked the illusion that Blair would always remain Nate's. From Blair, he had pilfered idealism. Blair had always believed she was too pure and strong to be controlled by lust. He had shattered that illusion. Even as she was in love with Nate, she was not above being tempted by the bad boy. What had he stolen from Serena? Well, nothing actually, but then he and Serena had never been truly close. They were bound only through their friendships with the others. When those collapsed it was logical that theirs' would as well. Eric would have come, but he was too new to know his habits and each time he had called Chuck had let it go to voicemail. Maybe it was better that way. Chuck would eventually steal from him too.
"Another," Chuck called out to the bartender, studying his reflection in the overhanging mirror. He looked awful; his hair had fallen flat, Eric's shirt was creased and he reeked of smoke and alcohol. Then he saw something else in the mirror, and had to reconsider his earlier preconceptions.
Blair had entered the bar. She held her Prada clutch like a shield, prepared to strike at any of the male patrons who studied her every step. When she caught sight of Chuck, she walked straight for him. Chuck studied her every moment in the mirror, but did not turn to greet her. She wore a spring print dress; a hundred purple flowers dancing on white fabric. It was far from her usual style, and it made her look younger, more innocent. But she had been innocent before Chuck.
She sat on the stool beside him, immediately crossing her legs, and laying her purse delicately on the bar.
"Cranberry ice martini," Chuck ordered the bartender when he returned with his scotch. "Mostly sour with the smallest hint of sweet." He caught Blair smile briefly in the mirror. They sat like that for some time, Chuck sipping his scotch, and Blair absently running her finger along the martini glass, until Chuck could not stand the silence any longer. "Why are you here Waldorf?"
"I needed to tell you it wasn't me."
"I sent the bridal picture."
"I know that too."
"But I didn't send the others," she stared at him in the mirror, "or call the police,"
Chuck took another sip of his scotch. "Is that all?"
Blair nodded her head slowly. She took one small sip of her martini, and then with a click of her Jimmy Choos, turned and left. A slight red smudge on her martini glass was the only evidence she had ever been there.
Chuck watched her go, and then threw some bills on the bar. It was time for him to return home.
When he reached home later than night, his father sat in wait. As soon as he saw his son, Bart stood. "Charles," he beckoned authoritatively, but rather than walking to the study, he moved to Chuck's new room.
Chuck entered behind, tossing his bag onto the bed. He went immediately into the bathroom, taking an obscenely long time to wash his face. He hoped that his father would be gone before he returned.
He wasn't. Bart perched awkwardly on the side of Chuck's desk. Once his son re-entered the room, Bart shot back up and paced the edge of Chuck's bed. Chuck lowered his eyebrows at the odd behaviour, than started digging through his drawers for his striped pyjamas.
"I need to speak with you," Bart began.
"Go ahead,' Chuck didn't even lift his head from riffling. Housekeeping may have arranged his belongings, but they didn't do it in any order.
"Could you sit please?"
That got Chuck's attention. His father never asked for permission and he certainly never said please. Chuck closed the drawer and sat on the edge of his bed.
Bart tried reclining again on the desk, but after several shifts decided to pull out the chair instead. He sat down on it before beginning. "I may have been wrong in my treatment of you this morning."
Chuck's jaw dropped in surprise.
"Lily and I had a long discussion today. We've been having a lot of discussions lately...about you. I found...she said...I mean...she has been able to point out certain things that I had not considered. I can see now that I have not always made the best choices in your upbringing. I may have expected too much of you or wanted things for you that you did not want for yourself."
Chuck's jaw dropped a little lower.
"I know I've been very hard on you, and I forget that you're not just an extension of me. I forget sometimes that you're just a kid. I see how successfully you run Victrola, and I forgot that you're just a teenager, who is amenable and able to be exploited."
Chuck's mouth shut abruptly.
"Miss Smith is the adult and I should have laid blame with her. I should never have suggested that what happened was your fault."
Shit, shit, shit!
"But enough about that. What I wanted to tell you is that, even though I haven't always said it, I love you son," Bart finished. He moved to hug his son, but somewhere in the middle his arms dropped, and Chuck had to be content with a hand shake.
Bart stood beside him, waiting expectantly for some sort of reply. "Thanks?" Chuck squeaked out, more a question than a response.
It seemed to satisfy his father; Bart smiled again and then left him alone. Chuck should have been delirious at finally gaining his father's approval. Instead, he threw his head back against the bed.
If Bart loved him this much for being a victim, than how much more was his father going to hate him when he told the truth?
A/N - I had to do some creative law-making for this story. I'm a Canadian and the law quoted (14 age of consent or 18 in the elder is in a position of authority) is the law in my province. Unfortunately when I researched the New York law it's entirely different. I chose to use my Canadian version because it worked with the story (and because the idea that a teacher could have sex with a 17 year old is pretty gross to me).
misscarletteblue - hopefully this chapter went a bit of the way to redeeming Blair in your eyes. Chuck is a pretty guilty party though, he's had more than one opportunity to tell the truth but he's still trying to spin it in a way that doesn't make him look bad. If you haven't figured out yet, it's a redemption fic for Chuck, but Blair gets to be the good girl by the end too.
bloodredkissofdeath - I think both Blair and Chuck feel bad and they're taking it out on the other
pokey - Blair & Chuck will join forces but Chuck's not ready to 'try honesty' yet.
sky samuelle - thanks for the incredible reviews. I'm so glad you're enjoying my little tale. This is set after 1.16 but you have to exclude all the Georgiana storyline from it (so it's a bit confusing). Basically it's post 1.14 except Eric has been outed through the Asher-Blair confrontation. Since you wrote such wonderful reviews I might have to move one of the scenes to Victrola
ChuckBassLova - Andrew is one big jerk, and he's not done yet
im2cool4love - thanks for the comment
Up Next - Brothers, school meetings, and Chuck flies a kite?
Chapter 9: Chapter Eight
Chapter Eight – Rules
Chuck Bass doesn't follow the rules; he doesn't bend his will to others or bow to a higher power. That is for the feeble, the needy. Chuck makes his own rules, rules that curve and twist to his whims. They can't stay the same, because Chuck can't abide consistency, can't tolerate conformity. At least that's what he tells himself, because somehow he can't quite handle the unknown either.
Blair needed rules, a plan to make sense of the world. That's why she threw up her problems while Chuck drank them away. Blair needed to manage the unmanageable; Chuck just wanted to forget it.
Chuck stared at his alarm clock; the numbers flashed 9:58. He rolled over and went back to bed. He hadn't stirred all morning, ignoring his rumbling stomach for the comfort of blankets and sleep. After their talk last night, Bart no longer expected Chuck to attend school. So Chuck chose not to stir, or move where other people existed.
He woke later, and lay aimlessly for a time. For a man intent on filling every whim and pursuing every pleasure, being alone in his room was more than he could stand. He started digging through the side table drawers. He noticed that his Playboys were in their usual place. How was it that housekeeping couldn't match his pyjama tops and bottoms but took the time to make sure his Playboys were orderly? Then he remembered who housekeeping was, and just how intimate their knowledge of him was. He threw the magazines on the floor and kept digging until he emerged triumphant. In his hand he held an Oxford Classics Edition of The Cather in the Rye. He threw a couple pillows behind his head, let one leg dangle over the edge of the bed and opened to the first page.
It was Chuck Bass' version of penance.
Except it didn't seem like a punishment. Chuck was enthralled by the story, and though he had planned to avoid the outside world, his fascination with the characters made it a simple choice.
It was 10:00pm when Chuck finished the novel. Once he put aside the last page, hunger and thirst struck. He walked softly from his room, intending to make a quiet raid of the kitchen and return to bed. He could hear the television in the living room as he dug through the fridge. It was loud and easily covered the small noises he made. He grabbed a can of pop and some fruit, but rather than returning to his room he moved to the doorway. Bart and Lily were stretched out together on the sofa, legs and arms intertwined. Chuck smiled at the comfortable scene that seemed in such contrast to both of their characters. Then he heard what they were talking about, and his smile darkened.
"Maybe we could call Nathaniel," Bart suggested to Lily, "he's always been close to..." Then his eyes caught on his son. "Charles," he invited Chuck forward.
"I wouldn't suggest that," Chuck answered his father's suggestion. "Nate hasn't been my friend since I had sex with Blair."
Lily and Bart were startled. After the events at Cranberry, the revelation wasn't totally unexpected, but Chuck's blank honesty in revealing it was disturbing. His parents began to unwind themselves, and Chuck felt sorry to see the scene ruined. "Don't worry about it," he pushed aside their concern, and turned immediately. He was in his room with the door closed before either parent could stand up.
Chuck lay back on his bed, and continued his aimless examination at the ceiling. He wished his father had followed him, had got angry with him for his betrayal of Nate. In some twisted way, he wanted to be punished for it. After a few minutes he searched through his bags for some kind of relaxation. He pulled the joint out, lighting it openly. He smoked deeply, not caring that the smoke was filling the room, or that the scent was undoubtedly carrying far beyond it. He knew his father would not come, but couldn't help in taunting him.
Thirty minutes later his door opened. As Chuck had surmised it wasn't his father, but Eric who braved the barrier. Eric found Chuck still lying on his bed, second joint alight. Chuck turned to face away from the door the moment Eric entered.
Eric was not chased away. He crossed the lush carpet, and sat in a heavily bolstered chair situated at the edge of Chuck's bed.
"Do you want to talk?" Eric asked.
"I'll sit here until you're ready."
Eric was true to his word. Chuck stared at the small digital numbers on his alarm clock, waiting for his brother to give up and leave. He didn't. Eric had that strange mix of innocence and subtle forcefulness. Chuck wondered what had driven Eric to attempt suicide. Chuck had never met anyone so strong. But he couldn't talk to his brother yet.
He kept his eyes fixed on the flashing numbers. They sparked in a slow, unbroken rhythm as if taunting him. Somewhere around 12:32 they lost their sequence...12:46, 1:12 and then nothing.
When he woke the clock read 4:32.
Chuck sat up, rubbing his still tired eyes. Across the room, Eric remained slumped to one side of the leather chair. He was fast asleep, streaked hair hanging in his face and lifting and falling with every breath. Chuck grabbed a wool blanket from the closet and draped it carefully over his brother.
Chuck splashed cold water on his face, and changed into new slacks and shirt. He took extra care in dressing, in preparing his hair, in dousing his cologne. He couldn't stay in the suite anymore, everything was too strange. He needed something familiar to calm his nerves. Taking one last look in the mirror, he smirked openly.
Today was a new day, and the wind was up.
Blair reclined on her favourite white couch. It was 5:30 in the morning and despite a late night she had rose as was her habit. She had papers strew about her, notes and Chemistry text in hand. She'd perfected the art of rising early, for she could not abide idleness. She chose to study on these early mornings, knowing that her army of admirers would not rise until noon.
Her cell phone beeped and she wondered who else had risen with the sun.
Check out Central, where you'll find me taking some well-earned advice.
Blair put the phone back on the edge of the couch. She wasn't going to respond to Chuck, he was nothing to her. Except if that were true, why had she sought him out last night? Or took such pains to expose him?
And why was she looking at her pants, judging whether they were presentable enough for an early morning stroll?
She arrived at Central Park thirty minutes later, her tan pants traded for a conservative skirt, and her skin and hair flawless. Not that she had done it for him. He was a nasty creature that had affairs with and ruined the lives of aging English teachers. Blair simply had standards of dress to uphold.
She could spot Chuck at a hundred yards, his garish suit of pink and grey standing out amongst the more demure. She had a sudden desire to flee but she wouldn't. No matter the provocation she could never say no to Chuck Bass; a fact that had already ruined her once.
"I didn't think you'd come," Chuck welcomed her with a familiar tugging of lips.
"I missed your witty banter," Blair mocked. "What else was I going to do at 6:00 am?" Then she saw his occupation. "What are you doing?"
"Flying a kite. You said I should."
"I didn't mean it literally."
"You should try it," Chuck smirked further. "It's very relaxing."
"Yeah, for a four year old."
"There's some coffee, if you're interested."
Blair stared at the blanket set out beside him. It held two coffees and one scone. He knew her too well. "Drugged?" she arched an eyebrow perfectly.
"You know me better than that."
"Unfortunately," she took a sip of the bitter liquid.
From there they lapsed into silence, and Blair studied the park-goers. At this ungodly hour only the nearly-dead and newly-born segments of the population were represented. It was the only reason she could sit complacently on Chuck's blanket. Even Gossip Girl was likely passed out somewhere.
So much for witty banter, Blair thought dismissively. Chuck was just standing there, flying his stupid kite. Though she had to admit, he had it to a rather impressive height considering how small it seemed. She cupped a hand against the sky and tried to see what it looked like. It was white, with tiny holes everywhere. In fact, from the distance it almost looked like a pair of...
"Chuck," she hissed. "Get that thing out of the sky."
"Why," he asked innocently "it's flying really well isn't it."
Blair glared at the tiny pair of La Perla's fluttering across the sky. "Now," she sprang to her feet "get it down now."
"Calm down Blair. No one is going to know that they're yours."
Blair snorted in disagreement.
"I'm Chuck Bass," he reminded her "There are any number of possible donors."
"Ew" Blair spat out before lunging at him to grab the string. She pulled as hard as she could and the kite plunged straight down. Unfortunately, its route took it directly onto the head of an elderly man.
Blair and Chuck couldn't help smiling at each other; that was, until the geriatric case started to examine exactly what had hit him.
"Pull it in," she ordered Chuck.
"No," He held the plastic handle out.
"Now, Please Chuck."
Chuck smirked at her "if you added in harder this would be a familiar dialogue."
"Except for your saying no."
"If I pull it in, than I'm keeping it."
Blair ripped the handle from his hand, and winded the string as quickly as she could. "It was a mistake to give you these," she muttered as she grabbed her panties.
"It might be a mistake to hold them that tightly."
Blair narrowed her eyes.
"You don't know what they've been used for since the donation."
"Ew" she called out a little louder and let the panties drop. She seriously considered letting her underwear remain as litter, though it wasn't really underwear anymore. Glue, wood, plastic and string had transformed fashion to flying, and staring at it she wasn't sure how he had managed it. "How did you rig this?" she asked, using two perfectly manicured nails to lift the panty-kite.
"Like the report card says, I'm smart when I was to be."
"I don't think smart-mouthed is quite the same thing," she finished, walking away with her head held high, and one hand out to the side.
Chuck returned to the Palace in a calmer state of mind. Just as he predicted, his mood was bolstered by familiar sparring with Blair. He saw Eric sitting at the sofa and his brother stood up as he entered.
"Eric," Chuck nodded in greeting.
"Chuck," Eric echoed, "the police are here to speak with you."
Chuck smiled; he was ready to tell the truth. After this morning's meeting with Blair, or the mere fact she had shown up, he had a suspicion that everything might turned out well in the end. "Where are they?"
"In the study, with your father."
"Thanks," Chuck dropped his bag to the floor, and walked towards the study. His father and the policemen were talking and rather than walk in, Chuck chose to listen at the door.
"Charles still hasn't spoken with you."
"I wouldn't worry yourself, it is often the case in situations like this. In fact, most victims deny the allegations outright."
"So you're sure it happened."
"We weren't at first. Miss Smith was very adamant in her refusals, and quite convincing. She seemed very credible, but then, yesterday her fiancée came forward with some conclusive evidence."
"Yes, it's sealed the case. We should be prepared to make an arrest as early as tomorrow. I know you wanted this to be taken care of expediently."
"And if Chuck doesn't make a statement or if he denies things?"
"At this point, it wouldn't make much difference. We have enough evidence to prosecute."
Chuck didn't want to listen to anything more. He walked back into the kitchen, yanked open the fridge door and poured himself a glass of milk, spilling half in the process.
His father and Officer Hill emerged from the study. "Charles," his father called out "Officer Hill came to interview you again," his father hesitated "if you're ready."
Chuck stared first at Hill and then his father, realizing that whatever he said at this point wasn't going to alter things. "Shouldn't have wasted your time,' he dismissed the policeman. Chuck could tell that his father was disappointed. Chuck let the glass hit the counter with a thud, "meeting tonight?" Chuck reminded his father. They were both expected at St Judes this evening, to talk about the current situation.
He walked over, picked his bag up from where it lay and returned to his room.
The meeting at St. Judes went as Chuck had predicted it would. He had surrendered his favourite leather chair to his father in recognition of the man's attendance. Lily sat beside her fiancée, her hand resting at the crook of his arm. It was what Chuck had always wanted; two attentive parents who were genuinely interested in him. It was too bad that the context of that concern nullified his joy.
Chuck stared at his hands, studying each finger in turn. He tried to block out what was being said, to pretend he was on a beach in Monaco but as always, the words kept bleeding through. He grabbed a pen from the principal's desk and juggled it aimlessly between his fingers; it didn't help.
He needed a plan, a scheme to discredit Andrew Wiltshire. He didn't know the nature of the lies Lewis' fiancée had given to police, but after a brief meeting of the man, knew they would be substantial.
If they would just stop using words like support and victim he could concentrate. He wasn't a victim. He wanted to jump up on the desk and announce it, but after his eavesdropping this afternoon he knew that they would likely pat his hand and give him even more pity.
'He was not a victim,' he yelled underneath his breath.
Then it happened, they were going to spin it. His father had succeeded again to prevent the consequences due to him. That was the final straw. "I'm out,' Chuck threw the pen he'd been manhandling back onto the principal's desk.
"Pardon?" his father asked in shock.
"I'm out," Chuck repeated. "I'm done," he said a little stronger and then to the shock of the whole room stood up and walked out.
He made it four steps out of the classroom before his father followed. "Charles" he barked out.
Chuck spun around, and waited.
"Get back in there."
Bart's whole body was rigid with unexpressed rage, but he kept his face deliberately neutral. Chuck wished his father would rant and maim. He missed the familiar. "I am really trying," Bart said at last, almost asking for forgiveness without quite admitting it.
"Yes, you are trying, you are trying so damn hard to spin this so you don't look bad. It's best that you don't get embarrassed, or people don't figure out how bad a parent you truly are. But most importantly people can not realize how much of a loser and fuck-up your son really is."
That should have set his father off. Chuck has never spoken so harshly or truthfully to Bart before, except Chuck wasn't sure it was the truth anymore. It didn't make a difference, it didn't tip the scales, it just make Bart look deflated and even hurt!
What was the world coming to? Chuck spun around and walked in the opposite direction.
Chuck stood outside the school five minutes later, running his finger lightly against his cell phone, and then closing it abruptly. His usual method of escape was closed to him, and Chuck needed yet another plan.
The lights of night beckoned and Chuck Bass chose to do what he knew best.
A/N – If anyone has read The Catcher in the Rye they can get a sort of general idea of what will happen in the next couple chapters. If you've never read it I HIGHLY recommend it.
Blood Red Kiss of Death – I'd read your crossover idea, I like SVU.
Juliana – Andrew is in the background, but he's pulling some strings and Chuck will need to take him out if he wants to fix things. He'll need help though
Delphin – Blair will get a chance to help Chuck, he's just got to ask and he's been kind of trying to figure out Blair's feelings but he's still convinced everyone (other than Eric) hate him
Pokey – thanks, though Chuck got off easy on this bar visit
Bubblegrl – thanks for the review, next chapter up in a few days
ChuckBassLOVA – hope you enjoyed this Bart/Chuck scene, I find I like writing the two
Up Next – Sex, drugs and alcohol…and a trip to the Levis Store?
Chapter 10: Chapter Nine
Chapter Nine – Control
Chuck Bass doesn't lose control; he just gives the impression of it. Losing control means being vulnerable and Chuck doesn't trust anyone enough for that. Serena was the unrestrained one, the free one, or at least she used to be. It didn't suit Chuck Bass. He drank copiously but always stopped one drink short of being senseless. He smoked liberally, but stayed free of all but herbal hallucinogens. He partied, he slept around but there was always an order to it. The girls were dismissed by ten, and the suite cleaned through by one.
Blair sat perched on Bart and Lily's perfect cream sofa. She grabbed a strawberry from the breakfast tray, threw it into her mouth and then reclined against the designer pillows. Serena sat to her side and Nate across. It was the first time in a long time that the three had been in such close quarters (not that the Van der Bass suite could be considered small).
The source of that reunion returned to the room. Blair, along with the rest, eyed him. If it had been anyone but Eric, Blair wouldn't have come, but Eric had restored her crown. He had been complacent in her outing of Asher and Jenny's subsequent downfall. For that she owed him everything.
Eric walked to a nearby chair and sat awkwardly on it. Blair imagined the source of that nervousness, for the rest gather were not peers but elders. Eric braved their disapproval and began. "I have called you all here because I am concerned about Chuck; I have been for a time."
The entire room collectively shifted.
"I know that your friendship was not what it once was," Eric placated to no one in particular.
Serena interrupted first, "I know you've got this idea that Chuck is some misunderstood, tortured guy. He's not."
"He only cares about himself," Nate agreed. "It's his charm."
"That is not true," Eric shot back. He looked across the room at Blair, but she wasn't going to say a word in his defence. At least that was her plan. Eric would not be discouraged. "He did not come home last night."
"Maybe Father Bass should have considered that before he confiscated 1812." Blair said definitively. The rest nodded knowingly, but Eric stared blankly.
Serena saw his confusion. "You don't know what Chuck was like at your age. His mother was very ill, and he was very, very wild. Once his mother died, his father knew he would have no control over him, and so they came to an arrangement. Chuck received his own suite on the promise that he would return to it every evening, no matter either his state or who he brought with him."
"So when he took it back," Blair continued "Father Bass should have considered that Chuck would return to his former glory."
"He's in no real danger," Nate finished, "He'll be back in an hour or two with a massive hangover and hugely entertaining story to tell."
"But Chuck has not been himself," Eric turned to his sister. "And you have seen it."
Serena bit her lip, but she had to nod.
"And if Chuck were merely out having fun," Eric dropped his phone on the table, "than why hasn't he called me back?"
"Chuck has his own way of dealing with distress," Blair educated Eric. "If he were that disturbed he'd be on route to Paris, or London, or Monaco..." Blair's thoughts died on Monaco. A thought that should have been obvious months ago, sparked in her now.
"Exactly," Nate supplied "If he was that bothered he would have hopped a plane already."
A creak of leather alerted everyone to Eric's fidgeting. When all eyes trained on him, a light brushing of red dyed his cheeks.
"What do you know?' Blair shot out immediately. Eric faltered a moment, caught between not wanting to break Chuck's confidence and Blair's poisonous expression. He looked light a deer caught in the headlights, and Blair knew she just had to push a bit further. "Tell me now, or so help me God..."
"He asked me to bring his passport to him."
"Right after the school meeting." Eric paused awkwardly.
"And?" Blair shook her hands at him.
"I said he should talk to Bart," Eric finished the last in a whisper.
"To Bart?" Serena screeched.
"Oh fuck!" Blair screeched.
"Blair," the rest called out in shock.
"What?" Blair gave another exhalation, "Focus."
"We're in uncharted territory," Serena decided.
Blair fought the urge to roll her eyes at the obvious.
"That can't be his only way of dealing with stress," Eric said. The rest of the room laughed.
"He spent a week in Brazil after the whole debacle with Georgiana Sparks," Blair remembered.
Serena shifted. "He ran away to Paris for two weeks when his pet monkey died."
"But he still called others," Blair reminded them.
"India," Serena had an epiphany. "When his mother died he disappeared to India for two months."
"Came back with an affection for loud colours," Nate remembered.
"And the Karma Sutra," Serena rolled her eyes.
"But he still called," Blair countered "I talked to him everyday."
Serena and Nate exchanged a glance.
"What?" Blair noted their expressions.
"I had to call him," Nate explained.
"Wouldn't even call me back," Serena said.
"Is there something you'd like to tell us," Nate said, his expression growing progressively darker.
"Are you sure?"
His choice of words was unfortunate, for even as she narrowed her eyes and called out "It means nothing," other memories painted her cheeks a deep red and undermined every word.
"You know what," Nate replied, grabbing his coat off the couch. "I'm leaving; I don't even know why I came in the first place." And before anyone could wage a protest, if indeed they were inclined to, he had left.
"Blair?" Serena prompted further once the door slammed.
"Is there something..."
Blair exhaled in frustration, "pothead" she indicated to the front door, "cokehead" she waved at Serena. "Who would you call?"
Serena tried to shush her friend with an obvious glance in Eric's decision, but Eric cut her off. "I figured it out ages ago," her brother rolled his eyes.
"Call him," Serena eyed Blair.
"Like he's going to pick up."
Eric and Serena just stared at her.
"Fine," Blair took out her phone, and held down number three. She drummed her fingers distractedly on the sofa's edge, waiting for Chuck's voicemail to pick up. Except it didn't; his groggy voice greeted her instead. Blair immediately raised her eyes to the rest, than yelled into the phone, "Chuck, where the hell are you?" The rest of the company gathered around, but rather than answering Chuck hung up.
"He hung up," Blair shut her phone.
"What'd he say?"
"You don't want to know," Blair rolled her eyes, and then hit number three again.
At first Chuck wondered why his head was ringing, and then realized that it was his cell. He threw a hand out wildly, banging against the wood of the side table until he emerged triumphant.
He stared at the screen and smiled when he saw Blair's name. He pressed the phone against his aching head. "Isn't it a little early for phone sex," Chuck drawled against his pillow.
"Chuck, where the hell are you?"
It was then that Chuck realized the pillow under his head didn't conform to his head like his comfort pillow, and the sheets scratched rather than caressed his skin. He put a foot out experimentally, testing to see if he was in his own queen bed. When it touched warm flesh, he shut the phone.
He wasn't about to admit he had no idea where he was.
Chuck inched his foot back under the blanket. He lifted the other edge of it with deliberate care, not wanting to make any sudden movements or noise. He did not want to wake his companion. His clothes were flung about the room, twisted between stockings and a black evening dress. Chuck grabbed each article, dressing as quickly as his need for silence allowed. He rescued his cell from beneath the covers, chancing a quick glance at the other side of the bed. She was a short beauty with chestnut curls that almost looked like... The room spun wildly and Chuck stood instinctively straighter. The bile attacked his throat and Chuck rushed to the open window for air. He needed to get out of there. He pushed the window further open, gasping for fresh air. Then he noticed the fire escape. He gave one look back into the room and then flung his body out the window. The last thing he saw was the girl's alarm clock. It read 10:00am. The irony was not lost on him.
He clambered on the fire escape, lines of steel that ran beneath his toes. You could see right through the grate; Chuck tried not to look down. He hurried down the eight floors until he reached the bottom and the last metal latter that hung halfway to the ground. He heaved himself down, holding the last rung with all his strength before dropping to the ground below.
He looked around; there were lines of cement, and pockets of grey everywhere. He had no idea where he was but knew it was far from the Upper East Side. He walked aimlessly for a few blocks, studying street signs and stores. A few started to look familiar and he realized he was in Brooklyn. Though why he was in Brooklyn, or how he had got there was a mystery.
His cell rang unendingly in his pocket, but he couldn't take it out yet. He needed to piece together what he had done last night. He saw a bus stop, and threw himself onto the plain, metal seat. He was dressed in the same clothes he had worn to the meeting at St. Judes, a green suit with gold pinstripes. Somewhere in the night's festivities he had lost his bowtie, and in his rush to redress this morning hadn't bothered to tuck in his dress shirt, or tie his shoes. He did both now. Chuck focussed on what he could remember: the disastrous meeting, his phone call to Eric, the taxi he had caught after. Where had he gone? Ah yes, he'd headed to 1Oak for a few drinks. Then he'd gone to...where was it? All that remained of the night before was flashes of sounds, of light, of warm flesh. It was terrifying to know nothing. He had laughed at the girls who woke up in his bed with little to no memory of their escapades, blaming them for taking the risk, for being to inebriated to control themselves. After all it had been their choice to take the drugs, or the drinks that had led to it. Now that he was the one without the memory he truly understood their alarm and distress.
If only his cell would stop ringing. He needed to concentrate. He grabbed the offending phone and flipped it open. He had twenty-seven missed calls. That sobered him up a bit. He clicked through the numbers, recognizing Eric, his father, Lily, Serena (that one shocked him), Blair (whoa!) and Nate (alternative universe?). What had he done to garner such an outpouring of affection?
He flipped through the texts aimlessly, until he hit "C's wild night." He clicked the link and watched his missing evening materialize before his eyes. That stupid gossip bitch had preserved his night for the Upper East Side viewing public. There was photo after photo of his drunken debauchery, complete with catty remarks and nasty thought bubbles. He'd been the prime topic of conversation for some time, but this was borderline stalking. Her army of minions had sent photos from over thirteen different clubs. Chuck remembered his brilliant plan to bar hop so that he couldn't be caught by those few trying to locate him. He recognized some people in the photos, party boys like him, but the rest were nameless hanger-on's.
Then, if that wasn't enough, Gossip Girl had ended the article with a call out for more photos, more information on his movements. Chuck decided he was going to figure out who Gossip Girl was and hunt the bitch down. But not right now. Chuck had someone else he needed to see. Someone he needed to explain himself to, and someone to provide the details he needed to put plan to action.
He set the phone to vibrate, put it back in his pocket and looked up and down the street. People stared at him as they went past, eyeballing the young man in Armani while they wore jeans or sweats. He was entirely out of his element. That was a problem. He needed to blend in, but then when had Chuck Bass ever blended in? Nevertheless Andrew Wiltshire's threats had made an impression, and if he was going to find Lewis than he needed to be invisible.
Looking across the street, Chuck smiled. Salvation had come in the form of mass-produced, ready to wear clothing. Without looking, Chuck crossed the street, expecting traffic to stand still. He eyed the window display, stomach churning in disgust at the boring repetitiveness of black and white, but his mind silently screaming the perfection of it all.
Chuck yanked the doors open, laughing at the stupid jingle that greeted him. He waved off the prepubescent blonde that scurried over to help, and started pulling at random hangers, letting his fingers fondle cheap cotton and denim. He was going to need to moisturize after this.
The only problem with his perfectly crafted plan was rather than scanning the darkest shirts and straightest pants, Chuck's eyes were drawn to the flamingo pink t-shirts, sunflower yellow jackets and pinstripe pants. "Channel Humphrey" he commanded himself and finally settled on a fitted, ribbed black shirt and boot cut dark jeans. He carried them back into the cubed change rooms. Once re-clothed, he studied himself in the mirror and smiled. He was still as sexy as hell.
Chuck emerged from the change rooms transformed from upper class to middle class. He left his former clothes kicked to one corner of the small changing cell, and walked purposely to the front counter. "I'd like to buy these," he said waving at his current clothes.
"You'll have to remove them first," the clerk explained.
Chuck reached behind and pulled out the offending tags, then tossed them on the glass. "There."
"Sir, there is a security tag in the jeans. I need to run them over the sensor," she explained pointing to a grey panel.
"People actually steal these clothes?" Chuck asked in disbelief. The girl didn't know how to respond, and rather than wait for her feeble mind to arrange a comeback, Chuck grabbed the counter and in one fluid movement, pulled himself upward. A large beep rang out and Chuck spiked an eyebrow in distain. "Are we good now?"
"Yes," she blushed and he dropped back down the floor. She looked back towards the change rooms. "Would you like me to bag the clothes you wore in?"
"Burn them for all I care," he smirked and the girl gasped. She was too underprivileged to know the true value of his suit, but even the most deprived could hazard a guess.
Then a realization hit him, and he returned to the change room. He rifled through his Armani suit until he found it, a red and black chequered Burberry scarf. He tucked it half into his back pocket and returned to the counter.
"Will that be cash or credit?"
Chuck put his AMEX down on the counter, smiling at the familiar crack of plastic against glass. "I'll take these too." He said, grabbing a thick pair of black sunglasses from the side.
He drummed his fingers on the glass absently while the clerk played with the computer. When he looked up he saw the salesgirl's face was crimson. He signed the slip without looking and winked at her. He knew she was fighting a squeal, and wanted to believe it was because of his timeless sex-appeal rather than the appeal of the black piece of plastic she held.
"Thank you for shopping at the Levis Store Mr. Bass" she said breathlessly, handing him said card.
He would have winked again, but his thoughts had trailed elsewhere. The card burned his hand. It was a gift from Bart, an easily traced gift. As he walked out of the store, scarf trailing from his back pocket, he realized that if he didn't want to be caught than he was going to need to alter his habits.
He returned to his bus seat and took out his phone again. He clicked to the map functions (which he should have used earlier if his mind hadn't been so confused), and started to search for a local branch of his personal bank. He knew exactly how much he could withdraw before they notified his father; and thanks to his father constant and distant trips, it was a tidy sum, large enough to see him through.
A quick charming of the teller later, Chuck emerged from the bank back into the sunshine of the day. He put his hand out to call a taxi and then stopped. A cab would be too traceable; he would have to travel anonymously. He pulled out his phone again, and started to plan his bus route, realizing that he'd long since crossed the line from careful to paranoid. Perhaps it was better that way; he preferred his blood within.
He walked a few steps, entering information into the GPS function until another thought struck; GPS in, GPS out. He held a little tracking device in his hand. He quickly looked up pertinent information, and then shut his phone off; wondering for a moment if he could still be traced once the power was cut.
Chuck, thanks to his mathematical brain, had already committed the map to memory, and moved automatically in the right direction. He was hungry, but the sour disposition of his stomach couldn't handle food just yet. That didn't stop him from eyeing the hotdog vendors with envy or the hundreds of cookie-cut-out white collar workers who sat in little cafes sipping their coffee and reading their newspapers.
He walked right into one; a knock-off wearing middle class secretary. She tripped, and Chuck in his attempt to right them both, sent both her coffee and newspaper flying.
"Jerk," the woman yelled at him, while he ran to collect her now dismembered daily. Chuck noticed what was on the cover. The woman didn't know how correct her assessment was. He'd been upgraded from page six. "Buy your own newspaper," the woman yanked it out of his hands.
Chuck did. He traded fifty cents for his life story, in all its fabricated glory. He had his choice of newspapers too, because his story had spread. Nothing sells like sex and the more inappropriate that sex the better. Dropping onto a nearby curb Chuck read the article through. Lewis had been arrested late last night, and expected in court early that morning for her bail hearing. Chuck needed an update.
He pulled the phone from his pocket and turned it back on. Using the internet function he clicked to Gossip Girl. As he predicted, the little bitch was having a field day reporting Ms. S' arrest. Apparently her bail had been set at 50,000 dollars and, even though Andrew Wiltshire had furniture worth more than that, she remained in jail.
"Fucking asshole," Chuck yelled out, though he wasn't sure if he was talking about Wiltshire or himself.
He tossed the newspaper into the trash and started walking, but now he had no where to go. It was as if every force in the universe was conspiring against him. Every time he was ready to do the right thing someone upped the stakes. Now Lewis' handcuffed body screamed out at him from every daily, and Chuck wished he could go back in time. But he knew that wasn't possible. He also knew he couldn't just waltz in and visit Lewis in jail. He damned fate, but mostly damned himself.
He had to move forward, so he kept walking. Chuck reached a familiar corner, the only familiar corner in all of Brooklyn. He made a split-second decision and walked inside the plain apartment, climbing the stairs with ease. He knocked once and was granted entrance. He exchanged a few words and then realized he still had 5,000 dollars in his wallet. Pulling that out in this company was akin to a death wish. He was stuck, but then his phone vibrated again. He held it out, "will you take this?"
The man looked at it, realizing quickly its worth. He nodded.
"Just one moment," Chuck took it back. He punched the voicemail, pressing through several of Bart's putridly kind voices until at last he reached a screaming diatribe. He let it play through, then tossed the phone to the dealer, and accepted the bags in turn.
The first thing Chuck felt was the hard cement below him, and the first thing he smelled was a putrid odour of garbage and old wine. He opened his eyes, but it was as dark without as within. He felt pain in his side and a dull ache in his cheek. Breathing out with one great exhalation, he tried to remember how he had got here, but forgetfulness was becoming a regular occurrence. He touched a finger to his cheekbone and winced. He didn't need a Gossip Girl pictorial to figure that he had fought, undoubtedly on the losing side.
He staggered to his feet, ignoring the pains shooting through his side and choosing instead to study where he had lain. He had been lying in an alley, and in shock began a pat of his pockets. His wallet and keys were in place. Apparently Guardian Angels still cared for boys like him. But where was his phone? Than he remembered where it was, and what he had traded it for.
Nausea struck him like a truck, and he bent over a nearby corner, emptying what might have passed for a meal the day before along with a river of alcoholic bile. He put a hand out beside him, gaining balance from a nearby brick wall, and not even noticing the grime it held. He coughed at the end; each inhalation brought a new stabbing pain in his side.
Once he stood up, the entire alley spun, and he sat down again. 'Just for a moment' he whispered to himself, but when that moment dragged he did the same with his body. He knew if he stayed here than there he would remain, and luck might not smile as friendly a second time. He patted his pocket again; he needed his cell phone. He needed to call someone; he needed some help. Than he remembered again where that cell was, and forced himself to stand. The nausea hit again, but this time he managed it. He needed some coffee, and maybe bagels to absorb some of the alcohol.
He needed his warm bed, and his nice blue striped pyjamas; his thoughts wandered. One thing at a time he yelled at himself. He forced his feet forward, taking turns to grab the wall for support. After a few feet a familiar rhythm returned, his body relaxed and his steps became more natural.
He walked down the street. Despite the darkness, small crowds still gathered. There were several small cafes catering to the late-night crowd. He stared up one street and down the other before deciding on the closest. He stood up straight, affected a calm and composed posture and then entered.
The shop was nearly empty; one large group of clubbers occupied a corner, with a brown-haired waitress walking between them and the man at the counter. When she spotted him, she grabbed a menu and headed over. She made it halfway before the recognition hit, and her lips curled into an amused smile. She put her hands to her hips, and was going to wait for him there, but then something changed her mind. She walked the whole way.
"Ah, Vanessa," Chuck drawled, wondering for a moment how his drug and alcohol-befuddled mind had remembered her name, "my favourite low-rent princess."
"Chuck," Vanessa started out with the predicted animosity, but when she looked more closely at his appearance her anger dissipated. "Are you alright?"
"I'm perfectly fine," Chuck attempted nonchalance by leaning against a nearby chair. Unfortunately the chair was not as near as Chuck had thought and only a timely grab kept him from falling over. "Chuck Bass is always fine," he repeated, pushing her hand off him.
"Can I get you something then?" Vanessa asked unconvinced.
"It's 3:00am," Vanessa couldn't stop staring at him. "Are you sure I can't help you?" It was obvious she wasn't referring to the menu.
"Just some coffee," he winked but then his eyes could not refocus, "and a chair perhaps." He tried grabbing the chair again, but this time not with affected nonchalance. The entire room was spinning, and he needed something to steady himself. The second try was as unsuccessful as the first, and the floor rushed up to meet him.
There was a loud thud and then everything went black and delightfully calm.
A/N – "the every force in the universe conspiring against Chuck" is the mean authoress :)
As for why Chuck hasn't told the truth. Chuck in essentially a narcissist. This is a man who is an attempted rapist; he really doesn't care about the feelings of others. At least that's what I see of him prior to his friendship with Eric and his "relationship" with Blair. Those two things have really opened up a kinder side of himself, but he's still essentially an ass who cares most about himself. I honestly think that if he did not "like" Lewis before all this happened he might have just let it happen. But this is a redemption fic and Chuck WILL redeem himself (starting next chapter). I kind of wanted to throw Chuck into a situation where doing the right thing would challenge his little Chuck Bass persona (hence why he goes from using 'Chuck Bass' as a cheesy joke to more of a negative explanation (with Vanessa). He can't do what he needs to do in the end and have it not be a permanent personality shift. And just for the record, I love the character of Chuck. Wow, that was long. Baring the need to cut either for length, there are two chapters left and an epilogue, so things are coming to a close.
Blood Red Kiss of Death – thank you so much for your reviews, they've been so exciting for me to read.
Pokey – I think Bart wants Chuck to meet him halfway but you can't blame Chuck for not wanting to.
Juliana – I forgot to answer you question last time, I'm a West Coaster but there's a reason Lewis is from Montreal
Missscarletteblue – no Lewis in this chapter for obvious reasons, but she's back next chapter
kcaitlink – I do like Serena but she and Chuck are far from being friendly. In this fic he never helped her with Georgiana, so he's still the boy who tried to rape her in the Palace kitchen. She's going to close ranks with him when it counts though, and you can see hints of that in this chapter
ChuckBasslova – I'm glad you like the intros, they're really fun to write; to make up all this Chuck Bass-isms and then break them apart.
Up Next – Vanessa makes a call, but who does she call? Can Chuck come up with 50,000 ways to help Lewis?
Chapter 11: Chapter Ten
Chapter Ten – Reassurance
Chuck Bass doesn't need reassurance. He's not some insecure pansy who relies on others to drag them through life. He's the instigator and the director. He wears the brightest colours, talks the longest, and laughs the loudest because he isn't afraid to be the centre. Nate was the fearful one, the indecisive one who sought out others. Chuck gave opinions and others followed blindly, often to their own detriment.
Not that he would ever admit it, but Chuck wanted someone to question him. Not with a roll of the eyes, or a cutting remark like most were inclined to do (just prior to accepting his ideas). He wanted someone to really question him; to doubt his motives, and question the soundness of his ideas. Blair did, and that is why she was the only woman he could ever respect.
Vanessa eyed Chuck. Her first instinct had been to call an ambulance, but she hadn't acted on it. She'd called Nate instead. Then with the assistance of others, Chuck had been moved from floor to a vacant booth at the back. She considered calling an ambulance again, even though Nate had made her swear she wouldn't. Chuck was in really bad shape, his entire cheek was darkening, and he had hardly moved since passing out.
"Vanessa," Nate's voice called from behind.
"Nate!" She waved her hand at Chuck's prone figure.
Nate joined in the staring festival for a moment. "You weren't kidding."
"Nope." Vanessa just shook her head. "You need to call his dad."
Nate laughed. There was one thing that you never did in a situation like this, and that was call Bart Bass. "That is not an option."
Vanessa stared disapprovingly but said nothing. Nate flipped through his phone. It was obvious he could not handle this on his own, and Vanessa couldn't leave for another two hours. At least his mother was gone, and with his father still in rehab, his home was an ideal destination. Transporting Chuck to the townhouse was a more pressing problem. He couldn't transport Chuck like this in a taxi and while Nate wouldn't want to admit it (because physical prowess was his sole accomplishment) he needed some help in carting Chuck out. He searched through his contacts to find someone who could assist. The problem was all of his so-called friends would either refuse outright, or be the first to publicize it.
He clicked back to who had been his closest friends. Of the four, two were in this room, and two were likely in bed. He couldn't call Serena, because even if she wouldn't tell Bart, the newly reformed friend would likely tell her mother. He didn't trust Lily to keep a secret like this from her own fiancée.
That left only one person. It was the last person he wanted to talk to, but the only one he knew would help.
Blair emerged from her family car to the darkened streets of Brooklyn. She had been tempted not to answer Nate's call, but somehow, even though she had in spirit moved beyond him, he continued to possess a power over her. Still, she convinced herself it was merely the time of the call: pleas for second chances came during the daylight hours; calls at 4am were reserved for Serena-like emergencies.
It was almost familiar, stepping into the darkness to rescue a drunken friend. Except this wasn't a year ago, and it wasn't Serena. It was Chuck and Chuck never got that drunk.
Except he had. Eric had predicted it. How was it that Eric, who had been his friend only months, had known, but Chuck's closest friends had seen nothing? Then she realized. They had all been absorbed with their own hurt and anger.
Blair grabbed her clutch, and after directions to the driver, stepped into the cafe. She recognized Nate's tall figure immediately and walked over. When she saw Chuck she was struck speechless.
"It's pretty bad isn't it," Nate said to her.
"What the hell is he wearing?" Blair asked.
Nate did a double take, and Vanessa laughed from behind. "Does it matter?"
"No," Blair agreed, but could not quite drag her eyes from his jeans.
"We need to get him out of here," Nate advised.
"Yeah," Vanessa's charity had run out "passed out; entitled, rich kids tend to disturb the ambience."
Blair broke her study of Chuck to stare daggers at Vanessa. Even Nate was disgusted. Vanessa took that as her cue to return to the counter.
"You need to wake him up." Blair decided.
"Blair, he's out cold."
Blair looked around the room. He noticed the crowd of frat boys to one side. She walked purposely over, engaging smile on her face. A couple words later and the tallest handed over his glass of water. All eyes were on her as she re-crossed the floor and threw the glass' contents into Chuck's face.
Chuck shook his head, and mumbled a bit. "Hmm...wha...not now." He hunched further into the booth.
"Chuck, you need to get up."
"Blair?" Chuck reopened his eyes and tried to focus.
"Chuck, you need to wake up."
"Noooooo," he mumbled, shutting his eyes again. "If it's Blair I'm dreaming."
"You're not dreaming," Blair stamped her foot. "Get up already."
"This is a good one," Chuck mumbled, a sleepy smile taking over.
"Give it up Blair," Nate advised "he's completely wasted."
Sure enough, any advantage Blair had gained by dousing Chuck was already undone. Chuck had turned his face back into the booth cushions and was sleeping soundly. "My car is outside."
"You brought the limo?" Nate asked.
"No, the town car. I figured the limo would stand out too much in this company."
"But a Lincoln fits right in?" Vanessa asked.
"Such wit," Blair rolled her eyes. "We can't all have Hondas at our disposal." Blair shot back and then started to walk towards the exit.
"Blair," Nate stopped her "Aren't you going to help me?"
"I'll hold the door open," she offered.
"That's not quite what I meant."
Blair knew exactly what he was asking, but she was wearing six inch heels and had no desire to cart a half conscious Chuck anywhere. She delegated. Returning to the frat table, she charmed a few and they jumped to service. They pushed aside Nate, and delivered Chuck to the waiting car. Their reward was nothing more than a smile and wink, but all seemed content. Nate stood behind them. He couldn't be jealous, but he didn't have to be happy about it.
Blair thanked the boys and then sat in the car. "Are you coming?" she asked with her hand on the door.
Nate sat begrudgingly beside her, nearly forgetting to say good bye to Vanessa.
The journey to Nate's home was a quiet one. They could not speak about the past, and yet that was all each could think of. They offered a few comments about Chuck's state, but that was all. When the arrived, Blair exited first, holding the door as she had promised.
"Blair, you need to help me."
"Isn't there someone else?"
"What part of it's a great place to go, there's no one home got confused with there's a house of servants ready to assist."
Blair rolled her eyes, "you don't seriously expect me to carry him?"
"It's either that, or we take up camp in your town car. You should have asked one of the frat boys from the diner to ride along. They'd have followed you anywhere."
"Jealous?" Blair teased, but didn't bother to wait for a comeback. She didn't want to hear either possibility. "I'll grab his shoulders."
Luckily for the two, once they started to shift him, Chuck regained consciousness, or at least as close to it as he would get that night. Nate was able to hike one arm beneath his shoulder and Blair took the other. Chuck couldn't move in sequence, but he attempted it. Once he realized who was assisting him, he smiled again.
"You look very pretty," Chuck smiled lopsidedly at Blair. "Like an angel, with a pretty red halo," he spoke of her headband.
Nate sighed rather dramatically, and Chuck turned his drunken attention. "You look really pretty too Nathaniel," he said "but not like an angel," his head made exaggerated shakes from side to side. "More like..." Chuck stopped talking and then laughed "I can't remember."
"Jesus Christ,' Nate was not impressed.
"Well you have to admit it;" Blair defended the argument "you are a little bit pretty."
"I'm as pretty as you are angelic."
"Angel…"Chuck cried out. "No, not an angel." He smiled at Blair, "you're my angel, my pretty little angel." Chuck sang.
Nate glared at Blair from behind Chuck's head, but she only shook her shoulders.
"I want to go to sleep," Chuck announced.
"No," Nate and Blair shouted together. They had finally reached the stairs. Eighteen steps of hell later, Chuck was still singing about angels, and Blair's dress was unsalvageable. The guest room was two steps to the right, and both rescuers sighed at the sight.
Once they reached the door, Chuck went limp between them. Blair gave out a screech of frustration as one of her heels gave out beneath her. She threw Chuck the last few inches to the bed, and bent down to retrieve her destroyed shoe. "These were my favourite pair," she moaned to no one in particular.
"Those dumb black ones you've been wearing all the time."
Blair didn't know whether to be shocked that the usually oblivious Nate had noted her footwear or angry that he had insulted her fashion sense. She chose to ignore both, and helped Nate reposition Chuck on the bed.
"This isn't just alcohol," Nate thought aloud "or pot."
"I don't think so," Blair dismissed the suggestion. "Chuck doesn't use anything else anymore."
"I say he's strung out."
"He's not," Blair raised her voice in Chuck's defence. "He's not like that."
Nate gave a snort of disgust. "Why are you defending him?"
"I'm not," Blair started "He's just not like that."
Nate started digging through Chuck's pockets, and soon discovered the evidence to his argument. He threw the small bag of cocaine at Blair. "Still think I'm wrong."
Blair clenched her teeth tightly but said nothing. After a moment she grabbed the bag and flushed the rest down the toilet.
"Do you think we should get him to puke it up?"
Blair bit back the automatic it's a good thing you're pretty, and reconsidered a snide reminder that coke goes up your nose and not down your throat. She realized that getting Chuck to rid his body of as much alcohol as possible might be a good idea. She dug through her purse and pulled a vial out.
"What is that?"
"Syrup of Ipecac," Blair explained. "It will do the trick". If it was anyone but Nate they would have questioned why she had it in her purse. She had never been so thankful that Nate was obtuse.
"How are we going to get him to drink it?"
"Leave that to me." Blair climbed onto the bed, straddling Chuck as she did. Nate took one look, and decided to use that moment to prepare the bathroom. By the time he returned, Chuck was already beginning to gag, and the two moved him.
By the time the gagging spells passed, Chuck became more coherent. He was still too far gone to be of any use, but at least some of Blair's fears of alcohol poisoning passed. The two returned Chuck to the bed, staring over his body for a moment.
Nate started to take off Chuck's shoes. "Can you help me undress him," he asked Blair.
Blair looked at the figure on the bed and shook her head in refusal.
"It's not like you haven't seen it before," Nate reminded her.
Blair opened her eyes a little wider, as if to tell Nate that, that sort of comment wasn't going to help.
"Please," Nate tried a different tactic.
"Fine" Blair agreed, "But only because you used your manners."
Blair climbed on the opposite side from where Nate was working. She began to unbutton his shirt, while Nate worked on the jeans.
They made it halfway, before Chuck opened his eyes again. Blair stopped what she was doing and turned his face close to hers. "Chuck, are you okay."
"Fiiiiiiiine," he sang in a little voice. "What are you doing?"
"Getting you ready for bed."
"Mmmm," Chuck smiled again "I like that." Then he noticed someone on the other side. "Who's that?"
"Nate," his friend supplied.
"Nathaniel?" Chuck looked confused. "I've never had this dream before."
"I can't believe this," Nate was disgusted.
"I can't either," Blair agreed "I'm sure he's had it at least once."
Blair smiled condescendingly. "That dream. I mean it's Chuck, he's probably had fantasies about elves and three legged dogs." After all, the thought might have briefly crossed Blair's mind. Not elves or three legged dogs; her and Nate and Chuck. And there was no way her mind was more perverse than Chuck's.
Nate stood up from the bed. "I am not talking about ..."
"Nate," Blair interrupted. She had completed unbuttoning Chuck's shirt and was shocked by what had been uncovered. Blair and Nate exchanged glances, then worked together to finish the shirt's removal. The bruising on his face was nothing to what was found below. Deep ridges of purple and green coloured both sides of his chest. He'd obviously been kicked in the side repeatedly, so brutally that shoe imprints were visible in more than one place. Blair ran a fingertip along each line.
"Do you think we should call a doctor?" Nate asked.
"If we call one, than they'll call his dad." Blair bit her lip. "How bad is it?"
"I think he has broken ribs," Nate decided after poking at Chuck's side.
"Is that serious?"
Nate searched his drug-addled memory for the time his teammate had been clumsy with his lacrosse stick. "It could puncture his lung, but mostly it's painful."
"He seems to be breathing fine," Blair observed.
Indeed, he was sleeping peacefully. Of the four, Chuck had always been the one rushing into adult life, if not responsibilities. But now, pale face blending into even paler pillows, Chuck looked younger and vulnerable. Blair wanted to crawl under the covers with him, to wrap her arms around him and whisper that everything would be alright. Not here though, not in Nate's home.
"I think he'll be okay if we just keep an eye on him," Nate agreed.
Blair agreed and the two kept vigil. Blair occupied herself with her phone, and Nate disappeared more than once to speak to Vanessa. Neither spoke to the other except when the situation demanded. They may have been partners in this, but that is where the new friendship ended. As the hours dragged into early morning, each became more agitated by lack of sleep.
"Is he okay," Blair asked for the thousandth time, studying Chuck's chest for the rise and fall of his breathing.
"He's fine," Nate yelled in exasperation. "Why are you this worried?"
"It's just," Blair tried to explain "I've never seen him like this."
"Neither have I."
It was a time before anyone spoke again. "He just needs to sleep. In the morning we'll talk to him, find out what happened," Nate thought aloud.
In the morning. The words scared Blair. In the morning Chuck would be okay, and then he'd have to talk to Nate and her. She would have to talk to him. "I need to go," Blair decided suddenly.
"You don't need me,' Blair started to stuff items into her clutch. "And Chuck doesn't need to know I was here."
"Don't you think Chuck will find out?"
"Not if you don't tell him," Blair stared at her former boyfriend.
Nate shook his head. "This is stupid."
"Just keep your mouth shut," Blair said decisively, "or I'll find a use for my other heel."
Nate continued to shake his head, but said nothing. Blair eyed him until she defeated his will. Then, clutch in hand and limping on broken heel, Blair made her exit.
Chuck was stuck in a place between sleep and wakefulness. He didn't want to open his eyes for fear of what he would find, but was too agitated to continue sleeping. Slowly his surroundings became solid. He felt the sheets that have been lovingly tucked around him the night before and the expensive pillow that cradled his head. His body relaxed beneath them. He was no longer lying in an alley or worse. He was not home, but the scent that permeated was a familiar one. Pomegranate and blackberries drifted throughout, and Chuck realized where he was.
An intense feeling overcame him, and it wasn't negative like those that had dodged him for days. Nate cared!
He opened his eyes and stared at the cream ceiling. He rolled to his side, the slight movement met with a shooting pain that forced him backward again. He recognized the guest room, and while he had never passed a night there, it reeked Archibald from every corner.
His stomach pitched, and Chuck held his breath until the sensation passed. He sat up, winding sheets instinctively around his bare chest. He stood and caught sight of himself in the room's sole mirror. The bruises were prominent, and Chuck winced at the sight. He couldn't remember a thing. The night before wasn't a fog like the first, where flashes of memory remained. It was entirely blank.
Chuck considered waiting for Nate, asking him what had happened but he couldn't yet. He would talk to Nate, but not yet.
Chuck reached beside the bed to grab his clothing. They smelt so rank that he couldn't put them on again. As silently as he could, Chuck raided the guest closet. Luckily there was some of Nate's clothing. He pulled out a pair of jeans and a black t-shirt; clothes not that different than what he had worn the night before. He dug aimlessly around the room for his sunglasses, and realized they were likely lost. He would need to buy another pair; not just to preserve his anonymity but also to cover the bruises.
Chuck looked for an escape, but the only thing that offered itself was a window. Windows, it seemed, were becoming his new doors. Opening it, he stepped onto the ornate balcony. Chuck could have used a metal grate and ladder, but this was the Upper East Side, and practicality clashed with the décor. He only choice was to grab the railing and lean his body over it. He grabbed the other side, trying to ignore the pain that radiated with each movement, and shimmied down until he hung from the bottom. He dangled precariously for a moment, and then with a final curse let go. Chuck landed on the ground and immediately fell over. He grabbed his side and bit down hard so as not to cry out. He squeezed all the pain out through clenched teeth and eye, and then stood up.
There would be one detour before he could continue his plan
Blair waited impatiently outside the ornate Palace Hotel's elevator. She had been the recipient of a strange call that morning. Bart Bass had called her at 8am, asking her to come to the Van de Bass suite. She had been tempted to say no, but one couldn't say no to Bart. He possessed such a natural authority, that you agreed without even realizing it.
She leaned her back against the mirrored wall. Typically unable to relax, the events of the night before had worn her out. She stayed there only a moment then caught sight of Nate. She resumed her former posture, and then narrowed her eyes at her former boyfriend. That strange call made sense now. Nate must have called Chuck's dad. "Why did you tell him?" She asked when he reached her.
"Tell who what?"
"Bart about Chuck."
"I didn't tell him anything."
"Than why have I been sent for?"
"Probably for the same reason I have."
"So where is Chuck?" Blair asked, smiling politely at a servant who walked by.
"He's gone," Nate answered.
"You lost him?"
"He climbed out the window," Nate admitted.
"You were given one task," Blair shook her head in disgust.
"Blair," Nate started in a softer tone "I think we need to tell his dad."
Blair laughed at the mere idea. "Are you kidding me," Blair lowered her voice again. "Imagine how angry Bart will be when he realizes we hid Chuck. Now magnify that a hundred times when we tell him, oops, Chuck's gone again."
"Fine," Nate didn't feel like facing Bart's wrath anymore than Blair. "But if Chuck doesn't show up by the end of the day we're telling him."
"Works for me," Blair agreed, turning to the now open elevator.
Chuck lay alone on the emergency room bed. The blinding white of the walls made him bury his head under the pillow, and the stench of antiseptic made him want to flee, for the third time, to the more sterile bathroom to the right. The nurse had come, poked him repeatedly, and then left. It was humiliating. She could have at least been attractive rather than some five hundred pound slob with broccoli between her teeth. Chuck blamed one of his puking fits on those green specs. He was going to have to reconsider the little nurse's outfit in his closet, because it would never be the same after this. Chuck heard the door open and peaked out from beneath his pillow.
The doctor looked at his patient sheet. "Mr. Caulfield, how are you feeling?"
"I'm feeling fabulous," Chuck drawled sarcastically.
The doctor shook his head and made a couple further notes. Chuck wondered if there was a box for this patient is an asshole. "You have two broken ribs on the right, and a fracture on the left."
Chuck put the pillow aside and sat up. "Is that serious?"
"No, lucky for you they are the middle ribs and unlikely to cause any complications."
Chuck didn't feel lucky.
"There isn't much we can do for you. You will need to rest and avoid any activities that cause you pain."
"Well one can't avoid breathing. An ice pack will help with that."
"And that's it?" Chuck was starting to realize this was a waste of rather precious time.
"Not quite," The doctor put his clipboard aside. "Who jumped you?"
"I already told the nurse that I don't know."
"I should be calling the cops."
"Why, so I can tell them I don't know?" He was being honest; Chuck had no idea who had jumped him. He had a couple ideas: either he had met with a few of Andrew Wiltshire's friends, or he had opened his mouth where his trust fund offered no protection. He wanted to believe it was the later, because the former was a little too diabolical, even for him.
The doctor stared at Chuck a few moments longer, but he didn't crack. "You can pay up front," the doctor picked up his clipboard and prepared to leave.
"Don't I get a painkiller or something?" Chuck spat out, realizing afterwards how inappropriate it sounded. He'd staggered in, alcohol-infused odour following his every movement, signed an obviously false name, and was now asking for drugs.
The doctor narrowed his eyes and shifted through the cupboards.
Chuck considered explaining that he was neither a pill popper nor a junky but simply a run-of-the-mill alcoholic, then guessed that wouldn't be reassuring.
"Take two Advil," the doctor tossed them across the room, and then walked out.
Chuck paid cash, and then searched for the nearest store. He needed a new cell phone and a newspaper. He needed to call for help, but first needed to know the nature of help needed.
Chuck was going to start with the person who loved him most; not because the others hadn't tried, but simply because his brother had the greatest capacity for it.
A/N – Well this is only half of what I wanted to have in Chapter 10, but if I kept it with everything planned it would have been twice the size so I had to cut it in two. I'm sorry that it took me a bit longer to post, I'm writing a novel and missed a deadline for that so I had to focus on it :)
Pokey – Chuck starts to take control next chapter
Juliana – I kind of like him being a mess too
Blood Red Kiss of Death – Eric and Chuck team up next chapter :)
ChuckBassLova – hopefully this chapter didn't disappoint.
Up Next – Bart uncovers a third expression, Eric and Chuck team up, and the return of Lewis
Oh, and please review!
Chapter 12: Chapter Eleven
Chapter Eleven - Help
Chuck Bass can't ask for help. To ask for help is to admit that all the naysayers were right, and he can't handle his own life. He'd go to his grave pretending he was in control rather than admit he was the fuck up everyone already assumed him to be.
Except he's not ready to die yet.
Blair and Nate entered the Van der Bass suite to an unpromising start. Bart was yelling at someone on the phone, and waved the arrivals to the main room. Serena and Eric were already seated. It was a replay of the first day in all things but the instigator.
Blair sat stiffly on the sofa, watching Bart meander from room to room. He walked in straight, long strides through the kitchen. "Nothing, nothing at all? Fine, I want to know the minute it changes. Do you understand?" Bart slammed the phone down, and walked into the main room.
Bart eyed each of them in turn; a muted distress underlying every feature. He stood a moment as if to speak, and then grabbed his cell phone and walked out again. All four watched him go.
"He's discovered a third expression,' Eric noted.
Indeed he had, and it was worry.
When a cell phone broke the silence, everyone jumped but only Eric answered. He eyed the device strangely before flipping it open and excusing himself from the room.
Blair took the opportunity to ask Serena if she knew anything about the meeting, but Serena knew nothing of Bart's intention.
A moment later Eric returned to the room. "I'm sorry, photographic emergency," he explained. "Please make my apologies to Bart," he finished, grabbing his jacket from the side table. He was out the door before anyone could question him.
Blair reclined easier into her cushions, being the only of the three who had a good idea of where Eric had gone.
Chuck hid around the corner from the Palace, hopping from one foot to another. When he spotted Eric's figure emerge, he gave a little wave and then ducked again behind the cement.
"Holden Caulfield?" Eric held up his phone in question. "I didn't take you for a literary man."
"I am just full of surprises," Chuck smirked. "I couldn't register the phone under my name?"
"What happened to your own phone?"
Chuck paused awkwardly, considering how to reply. "I bartered it."
"Barter?" Eric raised both eyebrows. "For what?"
Chuck put an arm around his brother's shoulders. "You know what? You are too smart for your own good. Are we going to stand here and blather about insignificant details, or talk about important essentials?"
"Let's get out of here first," Chuck eyed his father's building with unease. "Want a drink?"
Eric suppressed a laugh. "It's 8:00 in the morning."
"And haven't' you had enough," Eric questioned further.
"I'm not drunk," Chuck corrected his brother "I was drunk yesterday, and the day before, and the day...you know what," Chuck interrupted his own thoughts "It doesn't matter. I need a drink. We'll get you a milkshake or something."
"Chocolate please," Eric threw up his hands in mocked enthusiasm.
After a few minutes, Bart returned to the room. He questioned after Eric, but didn't linger on the younger boy after explanations were made. He took a seat at the head of the room, and began. "I have called all of you here because I am concerned about my son. I know that your friendships have not been what they once were, but I also know that my son cares for each of you."
The three exchanged glances.
"Charles has been missing for two days, and I need to know that he's okay."
This request for information was met by silence.
"Look I know I've made a lot of mistakes as a father," Bart confessed to the whole room, "but Chuck is my son. If any of you know anything," he eyed each friend in turn "than I deserve to know it as well."
This protestation produced no further results.
"I know that you all think that I don't care about Chuck but you couldn't be more wrong. Chuck and I may not have been the closest of families, but he is my son and I love him all the same."
Nate shifted in his seat, but Blair shook her head. She knew that no good could come from involving Bart.
"I will tell you what I know," Bart tried again. "Yesterday morning Chuck withdrew 5,000 dollars from his checking account. Prior to this, I was using his credit card usage to track him."
Nate stared at Blair, but she just shook her head again.
"Now I have no idea where he is. His phone has been off since yesterday."
Blair shook her head before Nate could even start.
"You can not imagine how terrifying it is to not know where you son is."
Nate crossed his legs again, but Blair stared him down. Bart, however, had noticed his frequent fidgeting. He faced Nate. "Do you know anything?"
Most would predict Nate to crumble, but he held his ground. "We are all worried," Nate offered instead "and if I hear from him at all, I'll let you know."
Chuck and Eric had scaled the wall into the courtyard at St. Judes. Being a Sunday morning, it was deserted, even cleaning crew given the day of rest. Chuck took his regular spot on the low-lying wall and Eric leaned against it. Chuck opened his mickey, and took a sip, not even flinching at the burning liquid.
"Should you be doing that?" Eric questioned the bottle.
"Shut up before I spike your chocolate shake."
"I was being sarcastic earlier," Eric shook his cup then put it on the side. After a moment he picked it up and drank anyway. "So are you going to tell me?"
"Tell you what?"
"Why you brought me here, and why you refuse to go home."
"Because this is where my huge screw-up started," Chuck started, than stopped.
"What screw-up?" Eric prompted after several moments passed.
Chuck didn't know how to start, despite having researched his words for days. In the end he returned to Miss Smith's admonishment to try honesty. "I have something to tell you, and it isn't pleasant."
"You can tell me anything."
Chuck took a deep breath, ignored the pins that were jumping up and down his spine, and began. "That whole thing with Miss Smith, it was all a lie."
Eric struggled to keep his expression neutral and won.
"I never slept with her," Chuck shook his head distractedly. "She would never have slept with a teenager. She was just tutoring me, and stupidly enough she was doing a good job at it.
"Why did you lie about it?"
"I don't know. It started out as a flippant remark that got taken so far out of proportion. And then Blair provoked me, and I shouldn't have taken the bait but I always take the bait. Then everything spun so quickly, and got so serious. I didn't know what to do." Chuck rolled his eyes at himself. "That's not true, I know exactly what I should have done, but I was too afraid to humiliate myself. I am so stupid."
"Chuck you are never stupid," Eric countered. "Sometimes you do stupid things."
Chuck smiled honestly at his brother. "You're supposed to be telling me how big of an asshole I am."
"Of course I am," Chuck yelled out. "I put my reputation ahead of everything. I let an innocent woman get arrested, and created this media storm just because I was afraid of getting embarrassed. What kind of jerk does that?"
"Sounds like you're doing a good enough job of it yourself."
Chuck just stared.
"Listen, the measure of a man isn't how bad the mistakes he makes are, it's how well he recovers from them."
Chuck considered it, "wow Eric, that's really deep."
"I learned it at the Ostroff Center," Eric admitted.
The two brothers shared an ironic smile.
"Chuck, why didn't you just come to me right away?"
"Because I'm the big brother, it doesn't work that way."
Eric laughed, "I never expected you to set the example."
Chuck was encouraged to speak further by his brother's calm, unjudging manner.
"The problem is at this point it's not enough for me to just come forward. Her fiancée is manipulating the situation to his own end."
"I don't know," Chuck admitted. "I know the arrest was based on the information that he gave, but I'm not sure what that information is. You know what the guy is like..."
Eric shook his head. If seeing Miss Smith hadn't been enough, Chuck had repeated Andrew Wiltshire's warning to Eric.
"Whatever he did, I'm sure it's convincing. If I could talk to Lewis I could find out exactly what he said."
"And how are you going to do that?"
"Well," Chuck put his arm back around his brother "I have an idea or two. The first needs your help."
"I am at your disposal," Eric agreed. "But I think I'd better confiscate this," Eric took the vodka from Chuck's hands. "If you're going to manipulate others than you'd better be on top form."
The more that Bart spoke about his distress the closer Nate came to cracking. He nearly confessed several times, but each time he reached the edge, Blair would stare Nate down until he thought better than to speak.
In the end, Bart received no further information and could do nothing further than invite his son's friends for brunch.
After Bart had left the room, Nate turned to Blair. "Why didn't you let me tell him?"
"I thought we talked about this."
Serena, realizing that something else was going on, spoke up. "What are you guys talking about?"
"Well we," Nate started before Blair interrupted, guessing that she'd better tell the story.
"Nate found Chuck last night. Chuck spent the night at the townhouse."
"And you called Blair," Serena was surprised.
"Well..." Nate tried again, and was just as quickly cut off.
"He called me this morning because Chuck climbed out the window."
"He climbed out the window?" Serena's eyes grew wide. "Why didn't you call me?"
"Because you live with Bart and Chuck hasn't been your favourite guy for a long time," Blair finished the story.
"These kinds of situations trump everything else."
"Well you know now," Nate spoke up at last.
"Where do you think he is now?" Serena asked.
Blair just smiled "I think you should call your brother."
"Think about it," Blair rolled her eyes.
The two did, quickly realizing what they ignored. Serena picked up her phone, and dialled her brother's number. It clicked immediately to voicemail. "I guess we'll find out later," Serena announced to the room.
Chuck stood with Eric outside of his family's bank. It was a formidable building dressed in marble and shades of grey. Chuck took a deep breath to calm himself, and then smiled at his brother. "Are you ready to cross into the dark side?"
"I've been there longer than you think."
"So you have," Chuck realized. He gave his brother one last look and then the two stepped into the bank together. "Look for an older woman," Chuck instructed his brother, "Preferably fat with poor fashion sense."
"Gotta play the percentages," Chuck explained. Then he saw something else, a tall, long-legged redhead. "Here," he nodded his head "this one."
Eric looked at the woman. "But she's not..."
"Be quiet," Chuck spoke under his breath and Eric obliged.
"Good afternoon Mr. Bass,' the clerk greeted him by name.
"Good afternoon Julia," Chuck smiled lopsidedly in return. "And how lovely you look today."
"What can I do with you Sir?" She arched one eyebrow invitingly.
"I could think of a thing or two, but for right now a withdrawal will suffice."
"50,000," Chuck replied smoothly.
The clerk's eyebrows shot up. "That's quite a large sum. We'll need to contact your father."
"Ah," Chuck groaned. "We could be here all afternoon if you did that. He's just left for Milan. That's why we're here. My father forgot to put a deposit on a lovely diamond set at Tiffany's," he lied effortlessly. "It's a beautiful piece, for the wedding you know," he winked. "So it falls to the son to correct the father's oversights."
The clerk followed unconvinced.
"This is my step, well soon to be stepbrother Eric Van der Woodsen." Eric shook the woman's hand. "I'm sure you recognize him from the engagement pictures."
The clerk nodded her head, and then looked at the computer. "The only other person I could contact is Lily Van der Woodsen."
Chuck was surprised but hid it well. They weren't even married yet. Irregardless, it did make his plan much easier to implement. "Well you could call her," Chuck offered "but then she'd want to know what the money was for, and it would really ruin the surprise." He turned to his brother "don't you think so."
Eric nodded; he looked calm and collected. Chuck was impressed by the transformation in his formerly awkward brother.
"Well, maybe just this time," the clerk agreed. "Since your brother came all this way." She started to write out the withdrawal cheque. Inside Chuck was laughing at how easily others could be manipulated, but his exterior calm never cracked.
When they exited the bank, Eric had only one question. "How did you know she would help us?"
Chuck smirked "she may have seen the inside of suite 1812 once or twice."
Eric shook his head, laughing soundlessly.
"So do you have your fake id?"
"And you know what to say."
"Chuck, I'm more than capable," Eric reminded him.
"I know," Chuck shook his own worry off. Chuck was starting to realize just how capable his brother was. Good luck," he offered.
A final clasp of hands and the two parted.
"Well this is awkward," Serena whispered to Blair as her soon to be stepfather bit into a biscuit.
Blair shook her head, and suppressed a smile. "What did you expect?"
"Better eggs," Serena pushed them around her plate.
"You know that Bart only invited us all as a form of surveillance."
Before Serena could answer Bart's cell rang. He stepped into the hall before answering it. His voice started out low, and then rose with the news he received.
"Looks like he didn't need us after all," Blair remarked, before taking a sip of her juice.
"He took out how much?"
Conversation around the table died out as each attempted to overhear Bart.
The three collectively gasped.
"How the hell did that happen?"
"I'm betting on a redhead," Nate suggested.
"I know my son is charming. That doesn't mean a bank should circumvent the rules of his trust."
"A soon to be fired redhead," Serena agreed.
"What do you mean his brother; my son doesn't have a brother."
"Maybe you should call Eric again," Blair guessed correctly.
"Eric Van der Woodsen? He wouldn't agree to something like this."
"And suggest he not come home anytime soon," Nate said.
"Are you absolutely sure? Yes I'd like to see the surveillance photos." Bart disappeared towards the study and the friends exchanged glances. Serena called her brother again, but again it went to voicemail.
"What do you think they're doing with the money?" Serena asked.
Blair had her suspicions but she feared voicing them. If she voiced them they might become fact.
Chuck camped out in a little cafe across from the local police station. He sipped plain, black coffee and waited. He watched Eric leave, and studied the crowds of others. It was a long time before Lewis emerged. She was dressed in jeans, a pink tank top, and black ribbed sweater.
He followed her for several blocks, watching as she made repetitive, unanswered phone calls. She finally returned her cell to pocket, and turned abruptly into a small, urban park. Chuck waited for a moment before entering as well. It was a small space centred on a large fountain which was guarded by tall ferns and trees.
There were several people using the space, but none noticed his arrival, or watched as he sat before Lewis on a black, iron bench.
Lewis glared at him briefly before the recognition hit. She leapt immediately to her feet. Chuck grabbed her wrist but instead of touching skin, he touched bandage. "Sit down," he begged.
"I knew it was you," she accused. "50,000 dollars in cash. I refused to leave you know, until they convinced me it was some blonde."
"Well it was a blonde," Chuck admitted.
"Can't you just leave me alone?" Lewis wrenched her arm but pain prevented pulling hard enough.
"Fine," Chuck agreed and let her hand go. He took his hand and brought it up to his face, pushing his sunglasses to the top of his head.
Lewis stopped abruptly. "Oh my God," she put out a hand and then pulled it back. "Did he do that?"
"I don't know," Chuck admitted. "Will you sit down please?"
Lewis sat back down. "You shouldn't have bothered bailing me out. I'm just going to end up back there."
"Not if I can help."
Lewis laughed. "Because you've done so well helping me thus far."
"Listen, I'll do whatever it takes. Just tell me how to help you."
"You can't," Lewis shook her head.
"I'll tell the truth.'
"I've learned the truth is a relative concept on the Upper East Side. Your truth has to compare with everyone else's, and if it doesn't who do you think they'll believe?"
"So I'll poke holes into everyone else's."
Lewis shook her head. "You have no idea who you're up against."
"So tell me."
"That thing you wrote," Lewis admitted "it was true."
"You're a golddigger?" he asked in shock.
"No,' she shook her head, "but I was enamoured of everything his money could buy. Everything was so different from what I had known, how you could demand something, anything and it would materialize. That we could travel anywhere, the smallest whim could be fulfilled. I was so stupid. By the time I figured out what he really was it was too late."
"You were in love?"
"I was pregnant."
"So you stayed?"
"No I ran," Lewis contradicted. "I ran as far away as I could get; to some tiny little town in the Northwest Territories. You couldn't even get there except by float plane. He still found me. There was no one he could have traced me through. All my family is dead, and I left all my friends behind." Tears started to form in Lewis' eyes. "You know how he found me? He got a copy of my social insurance number. It's the Canadian equivalent of your social security number. It's supposed to be the most secure document there is. So you see, there was no point. If you have enough money, anything is possible. And if you have too little, nothing is."
"So it's not some tortured love affair?"
Lewis rolled her eyes at the mere idea. "I'm not in love with Andrew; I'm in love with my son. Sometimes in life, you have to make compromises."
"And marrying someone like him a reasonable compromise?"
"Losing my son is not an option. I would give up anything else."
"And if I can figure out a way you can have both?"
Lewis shook her head again. "You can't beat someone like that."
"You might not have been able to," Chuck admitted "but I have a lot more resources. Do you trust me?"
Lewis snorted and Chuck realized just how stupid the question was.
"Even if you don't, this is my number." Chuck handed her a slip of paper.
"I'm not calling you."
"The phone isn't in my name."
Lewis bit her lip distractedly, and then grabbed the slip of paper.
"Call me at 5:00pm."
Lewis shook her head with reservation.
"But first you need to tell me exactly what Wiltshire said."
Chuck sat in the bleachers of the lacrosse field, smoking absently. He had called Nate, knowing that Nate would help him out. He had a suspicion that with the situation his dad was in, Nate was likely avoiding the police like the plague.
Nate jumped the small metal gate, and walked over to him. He held his phone up. "Holden Caulfield? Who the hell is that?"
Chuck couldn't help but laugh. "Never mind."
"So," Nate took the seat beside him. "How are you feeling?"
"Like I got hit by a truck," Chuck admitted, "but the doctor said I'll be fine."
"So you went to see a doctor?"
"Your father is very worried about you."
"Really?" Chuck was initially shocked (and silently pleased).
"Yeah. We've all been a bit worried. Are you in some kind of trouble? I mean other than, you know, everything else that's going on."
"I am," Chuck admitted. "I've got something to tell you."
Nate waited patiently and Chuck repeated his confession from earlier that morning. It was easier by the second telling.
At the end of the tale, the two sat a time while Nate digested it. "What you did was wrong" He decided.
"I know that."
"How are you going to fix it?" That was it, as judgemental as Nate was inclined to get. He had this strange innocence, tied with simple belief that eventually everything would eventually turn out for the best. It was a direct contrast to Chuck's rampant pessimism.
"I have some ideas but I need your help. I need to know that you'll have my back."
"You know I do."
Chuck smiled in relief. "Have you talked to the police?"
"No. I mean they've been calling but with everything that's happening to my dad."
"You need to call them back, and this is what I need you to tell them."
They talked for a time, reviewing dates and events. Chuck made sure Nate had committed everything to memory before they parted.
"Chuck," before Chuck could leave Nate had one final question to asked. "How do you feel about Blair? I mean some of the things you said to he...me, about her last night."
Chuck didn't want to have this conversation now. "What kind of things?"
"Apparently she's your personal angel, and fodder for your dreams?"
Chuck considered his options. He could spin it or he could tell the truth. Considering how much trouble lying had caused him, he chose honesty. "I love her."
Nate stared a moment, and Chuck realized something, probably even before Nate did. That somehow in Nate's screwed up sense of ethics, his being in love with Blair would make everything alright.
"I really am sorry." He didn't explain what for, it was obvious. He wasn't sorry for sleeping with Blair, simply for the fact that it by doing it he had hurt Nate.
Nate considered the apology a moment, and then a hint of a smile curled his lip. "You know what; I think it's going to be okay."
The two shook as friends, and then Chuck left.
Having Nate on his side was a good start, but if he was going to outwit Andrew Wiltshire, he needed more. He needed to consult the Queen herself.
Author's Note: Sorry if this is a bit below standards as I'm nursing a fever and tonsillitis, and so editing was minimal (I just wanted to get it up for you guys). One chapter and an epilogue left. And yeah, I know there's no chance the bank would be open on Sunday, but I'm using creative licence.
I forgot to mention last post that you should never give anyone syrup of ipecac as it's a poison that can cause heart attack (and in the case of someone heavily drunk like that it would make alcohol poisoning more likely by dehydrating them further).
ChuckBassLova – thanks for the review
Blood Red Kiss of Death – I couldn't resist last post, I had to get Blair and Nate teaming up to help Chuck
Pokey – I laughed so hard at the idea of Chuck as an alcoholic superhero. It made my evening.
Sky Samuelle – Your reviews are so amazing that I might just have to write a sequel to TH. I've been toying with the idea of Georgiana coming around to mess with Blair/Chuck. It would have to be when I'm done the novel I'm working on though. By the way, I also love Staind and that song is perfect!
Gossipgirlxcore – yep, Chuck has officially adopted Holden Caulfield as his alter ego :p
Tifa1984 – I absolutely promise that the entire poem will be revealed to the person who most deserves to see it :)
Up Next: Chuck keeps climbing the totem pole. Then, it's a bird, it's a plane, it's Dan Humphrey to the rescue?
Chapter 13: Chapter Twelve
Chapter Twelve – Weakness
Chuck Bass doesn't admit his weaknesses. He doesn't need to. Most of them, like his rampant alcoholism, are freely displayed for the viewing public. Those that are not, he holds closer, afraid that they will become obvious as well. Each of his friends has a weakness, a flaw tied to either fear and control: Blair needs to control others, Serena fears that she will not be able control herself, Nate is afraid of being controlled but is too weak to not be, and even Eric is know to panic at the unknown.
Still, Chuck knows his flaws are the worst of the five, so he protects himself by hiding them. He is not as smart as he plays to be, as laidback as his persona suggests, or as untouchable as his aloofness implies.
Except he's too exhausted to continue the game. He wants to be vulnerable, to rely on another's wits, and just admit for once that he is as uptight and neurotic as the rest of them.
If the truth doesn't set him free then he can always reinvent himself tomorrow.
Chuck had returned to 151 and parked himself in a corner booth. Despite the early hour, patrons overwhelmed the front bar. They were the white-collar workers who drank enough at lunch to persevere through the remainder of their mind-numbing day. Chuck kept his eyes from what he was destined to become.
He sipped his drink slowly, making notes and charts on the spiral notebook he had purchased. He was so absorbed that he didn't even notice Blair's approach.
"Having a little run and coke for lunch?"
Chuck looked up and saw Blair standing at the edge of the booth. "It's just coke."
Blair was surprised and a little impressed as she took the seat across. "I got the strangest message," she put her phone on the counter. "Someone called Holden Caulfield sent me a text." She read it aloud, "I need your help, meet me you know where."
"Don't you know that alter egos need to be opposite?" Blair rolled her eyes. "Good and evil, black and white," she educated him "not drunk and drunker."
"Would you like a drink?" Chuck ignored her baiting.
"I'd like to know what help you need. I mean, other than the obvious."
"Fine," Chuck took a deep breath. "Is your mother still flying to Paris tonight to show her summer line?"
"Is there room for another passenger? Or two?"
"I am not helping you to abscond with your lover." Blair shook her head in disgust. "There are limits to even our friendship."
Chuck thought about her words a minute, and then settled back into the booth, smug smile settling over his features.
"What are you thinking about?" Blair finally asked.
"I'm just meditating on the fact that you consider me a friend."
"Of course we're friends, we've been friends forever," Blair shot back "don't turn this into some feel good moment because it is so not"
Chuck smirked further.
"You're still the slimy friend that I should reconsider associating with."
"I can live with that role," Chuck decided. "But that's not what I was asking for."
"So what are you asking?"
"I have to tell you a little story first. And you have to promise to save the angry diatribes until the end." Blair nodded her head with misgivings. Chuck explained his involvement with Miss Smith, his lies, what had truly happened, Miss Smith's relationship with Andrew Wiltshire, how Wiltshire was manipulating the situation to his own end, the abuse and how Wiltshire was using his son as a weapon. He explained everything and for once Blair sat quietly listening. She wasn't judging, even though Blair was the most judgemental person he knew.
"Is that all?"
"You stupid son of a bitch," she stared screaming at him. At least she'd kept it until the end. She grabbed her clutch and whacked him repeatedly with it. "You made me a party to it."
"No," Chuck said evenly, putting up a hand to defend himself "You chose that yourself."
Blair looked like she was going to hit him again, but deferred to his logic and threw her purse on the table. "I can't believe you."
"Listen," Chuck interrupted before she could start again. "You can remind me how big an asshole I am later, but when does your mom's plane leave?"
"That's all the time we have to plot a way out of this."
"Why should I help you?"
"Because you share some of the responsibility."
Blair glared at him, but again had to agree with his logic. "Fine," she rested both hands on the table. "Where do we start?"
Chuck reached into the shopping bag that lay beside him. He took out a red spiral notebook and blue pen. He handed both to Blair. She opened to the first page and wrote in bold letters:
Subject – Andrew Wiltshire
From there the two schemers sat and tossed back ideas. They needed to destroy Wiltshire's credibility, or at least call it enough into question that Chuck could be believed over him. It wasn't an easy feat for Wiltshire, like Bart Bass, was one of the most respected industrialists in the city. How could that compare with a teenager whose greatest accomplishments were an amazing ability to hold drink and diddle with beautiful women. In the end, they had to be content with planning ways to build up Chuck's flagging credibility.
Then they needed to remove Lewis Smith from Wiltshire's sphere of influence. Even if the charges were dismissed there would always be a taint on her respectability. Wiltshire would use that, and his formidable billions, to manipulate custody of their son. Blair and Chuck could easily remove Lewis, but removing her son was a different matter. If they could do both, however, then revenge would be complete.
"The most difficult part, from what I can see," Chuck studied his notes, "Is getting a hold of Lewis' son. Baby kidnapping is far from my area of expertise."
Blair just smiled. "It might be easier than you think."
Chuck raised an eyebrow and waited for her to continue.
"Dorota," Blair took a contented breath. "She knows the Wiltshire nanny, and that nanny is not a fan of dear old daddy."
Chuck smiled and made a few more notes.
"Can you arrange the documents?" Blair asked, chewing on the end of her pen.
"With some help I could."
"Then the hardest part is going to be getting my mother to agree. She's not going to consent to a scheme like this."
"There's someone else who could convince her. Someone she respects a lot more than you or I."
Blair raised an eyebrow, having an idea of who that would be. "Excellent!" She made a few more notes. "I think that covers everything."
Chuck nodded his head. "You know," he grew sentimental. "I don't think I've ever used my powers for good."
"It's not entirely good," Blair reminded him, devilish smile playing at her lips. "We're going to ruin Andrew Wiltshire."
The two laughed.
"So I'll make my arrangements," she made a final few notes and then shut her notebook, "And forward an itinerary to the required parties."
"Do you think he'll come?"
"Please," Blair said, "I just have to get Serena and he'll follow her anywhere."
He was struck by just how dangerous their combined scheming potential was.
"Victrola?" Blair rolled her eyes at his choice of venue "4:00pm?"
"Victrola," Chuck agreed, staring into her eyes.
Blair stared back a moment, and then grabbed her clutch off the table. "Take a shower or something, you stink."
A familiar glow of purple and red met Blair as she entered Victrola. She let Dan and Serena precede her, offering both a physical and emotional shield. She trailed behind, keeping her eyes from the stage and the memories it held. The night she had felt truly wanted for the first time, not as a trophy, or an ornament; not because she was a Waldorf but simply because she was a person: flesh and blood, flaws and perfections.
"So this is Chuck's club?" Dan eyed the surroundings. "Nothing like high class hookers to set a mood."
"They're not hookers," Chuck interrupted from behind. "They're entertainers."
"Chuck," Dan pasted an obviously false smile on his face. "I see you've been out making new friends," Dan touched his own cheek.
"Ones with a stronger right than yours," Chuck made no smiling pretence.
"Boys," Blair slipped a hand through both their arms. She glared at Chuck, reminding him to play nice. "Shall we get the meeting started?"
"Nathaniel is already in the back," Chuck attempted a friendly smile.
Dan laughed at Chuck's attempt, and then dropped Blair's hand to reclaim his girlfriend's.
"Eric couldn't come," Serena explained "He's under house arrest for helping you take 50,000 from your trust." Chuck frowned but said nothing.
"50,000 dollars," Dan raised both eyebrows. "Went on a shopping spree did we?"
"We can't all pull off vintage crap ... er ... chique."
Blair gave Chuck a firm elbow to the side.
"Blair!" Chuck hissed out, grabbing his side.
Blair remembered his broken ribs. "I'm so sorry."
"I'll forgive you," Chuck smirked up at her. "But only because you look delectable," he observed, eyes travelling from pale white stockings, to a tasteful jersey dress. After a couple more breaths, he put his hand down and stood fully upright. "The stage is available later," he whispered, putting an arm around her.
"Still haven't taken a shower yet?" Blair pushed his arm away.
"I'm waiting for you to join me," Chuck smirked.
"How many ribs would I need to break to curb your libido?"
"You wouldn't really want that," Chuck held the door open for his guests.
The back room was set as a meeting place. An oval mahogany table was prepared with six places. Chuck and Blair's were at either end, the others scattered through the middle. Dan and Serena took their seat on one side, Nathaniel remained opposite, and Eric's place empty.
Blair pulled the red spiral from her briefcase. Chuck ducked into the back office to retrieve his own. The two took their seats under the watchful eyes of the others. After meeting eyes across the table, Chuck started.
"I'm sure you're wondering why you're here."
"On many levels I assure you," Dan interrupted.
Chuck gave him a look learned from his father, and Dan shut up just as Bart's minions were apt to do. "Nathaniel, Eric and Blair all know the details I'm going to reveal." Chuck met Serena's eyes and could see the hurt she felt at being excluded. "I would like," he stared at his sister "and need," he eyed Dan with less affection "for the rest of you to know."
It should have been easier after the practice, but it wasn't. Even though these two were not as intimately connected to his heart as the other three had been, he still feared their judgement. Having repeated his confession three times (not to mention the thousand in his head) already did not make it a simple reiteration. Maybe that was because, even though he gained practice in the telling, each telling drew him closer to the final apology.
But then something happened in the middle; Serena reached over and squeezed his hand, and Dan, whose jaw had been set to steel since arriving, noticeably slacked. Their sympathy urged him to continue and he finished the history.
"So why don't you just tell the truth?" Dan offered when Chuck had finished.
"Because that's not the whole story." Chuck explained Lewis' fiancée and that history. Serena shook her head in disgust, but Dan was riveted.
"I see why now," Dan leaned back against his chair.
"Is he the one that did that?" Serena pointed at his face.
"I really don't know," Chuck admitted. "But it's not important. What is important is proving Wiltshire wrong." Chuck and Blair shared a conspiratorial look across the table.
"Dan," Blair smiled at the outsider. "Have you been interviewed by the police yet?"
"Of course not," Dan rolled his eyes. "Why would they? I hardly qualify as Chuck's friend, don't attend any of their parties, and aren't exactly the gossiping type."
"Perfect," Chuck made a couple notes on his paper. Across the table, Blair mirrored his moments. When they had completed, Chuck stared up at Blair, prompting her to continue.
"We're going to need you to call them and tell them that you have some information."
"What!" Dan shook his head. "No way!"
"It's necessary," Blair nodded her head.
"They're not going to believe me. Why don't you get Nate to do it?"
"I've already spoken with the police," Nathaniel admitted. Chuck and Blair made further checkmarks.
"Then why do you need me?" Dan asked.
"Because Nate's got my back, but Nate is a pothead with an embezzling father. His credibility is nearly as suspect as mine. Besides, as one of my closest friends the police are going to question anything he says."
The rest of the table got caught up on the fact that Nate was again Chuck's close friend. However, when Nate offered no objection to the fact, thoughts quickly moved forward.
'But you're perfect," Blair interrupted. "You're the scholarship boy who never tells a lie."
"Besides, no one could confuse you for a friend of mine."
"Well that goes without saying," Dan said.
"We need someone who can compete with Andrew Wiltshire's credibility," Blair explained.
"It's not like you're helping me," Chuck reminded Dan.
"The thought never crossed my mind," Dan shot back.
"You're helping Miss Smith. And I know you like her."
"Unlike you," Dan finished the thought. "If I help then don't I just send Miss Smith back to her fiancée?"
Blair and Chuck exchanged a look. "We have a plan for that." She announced.
"I think you should do it," Serena said finally, pressing one hand to Dan's arm and the other to her future brother's.
Dan looked around the circle. All four people stared in return, unflinching in their conviction. They had closed ranks at last, and Dan was presented with a choice, accept and join or reject and forever be the outsider. "Fine."
Chuck and Blair picked up their pens in unison and made big checks in their notebooks.
"Next," Blair said aloud, having fun in her role as team leader.
"I need someone not directly related to me through either friendship or family." Chuck read his notes. "They need to deliver some documents." The group grew quiet in thought. "Someone trustworthy."
Nate grabbed his phone, punched a few buttons and then showed the picture to Chuck. Chuck shook his head automatically. "Are you out of your mind? She'll make a documentary about it."
"Vanessa?" Blair snorted derisively from across the room. "I don't think we should be bringing any Brooklynites into this."
Chuck felt that stabbing sensation again. Blair was very clearly jealous, and one could not be jealous without feelings (he should know). They may have grown closer over this, but it was still Nate and always would be.
"Hey !" Dan interrupted.
Blair turned to him. "Oh Dan, you're practically family now. You don't count."
"How comforting,' Dan shook his head. "But since I'm suborning perjury to join this messed up family I insist on having my say. Vanessa is great and very trustworthy."
"It's true," Nate agreed. "She's the one who called me when Chuck passed out. And she's the one who helped me get him to my townhouse." He eyed Blair, daring her to contradict him. "After all, I couldn't have done that on my own."
Blair rolled her eyes, but Chuck was more easily swayed. "Call her," he told Nate.
Nate began a discussion with Vanessa, and the rest fell into uneasy silence, broken only by the incessant tapping of manicured nails on table.
Then a cell began to ring, a dull, boring, chime out of place for the crowd. Even Dan had managed to download some indie rock. Chuck looked at each of his guests.
"Chuck," Serena pointed "I think that's you."
Then he remembered he was the one with the substandard phone. Jumping to his feet, he pulled it from his pocket. The plain, black device drew more than one snicker from the far side of the room. "What do you expect from pay and talk," he explained, causing Blair to laugh aloud. The phone did come with call display, however, and when Chuck saw the number a genuine smile lit his face. Blair's laughter died abruptly.
"Excuse me," Chuck left the larger room for a small office to the side.
Chuck put the phone on the desk beside him. He felt weightless. His mother had once told him that even as a baby he had been extreme; both crying and laughing the loudest. He could do nothing in moderation. She had meant it as a warning, a suggestion not to follow in her footsteps, but Chuck didn't mind feeling the lows. It was repayment for the delirious highs.
"Was that her," Blair appeared from behind the door.
"And did she go for it?"
"It took some convincing, but she did." Chuck pulled himself up onto the desk, sitting languidly until his entire body relaxed. He didn't even focus on Blair, but on his own rediscovered happiness. "I think everything is going to work out."
"Of course it is," Blair smiled as well, a reflection of Chuck's enthusiasm. "I helped you didn't I."
"For which I am eternally grateful," Chuck met Blair's eyes at last.
"In your absence I went over the details with Dan, arranged a pick up time with the little Brooklyn princess," Blair rolled her eyes. "And finalized plans with Dorota."
"You're amazing," Chuck decided. "I bow before your blessing, my Queen," He bent exaggeratedly at the waist and threw his hands down.
"As you should," Blair decided. "But the best plans will equal nothing without two further conspirators. There will be no plane if my mother does not agree, and she will not without..."
"My father," Chuck interrupted her. His body tensed again. Their successes would be nothing if he stopped before the final challenge. Dread began to stab again at his insides, and he took several deep breaths to calm himself. As usual, Chuck feared his father's anger, but more than that, he was afraid of losing forever the small intimacies they had built. Still, if Bart's affection were based on a false pretext, than they were never Chuck's to lose.
"Are you ready?" Blair asked.
Chuck didn't say anything.
Blair took his hesitation as doubt. "You'll be fine," Blair reminded him. "You're Chuck Bass."
Chuck smiled and tried to forget that it was being Chuck Bass that had got him into this mess. He shook his head to banish the undermining thoughts, and then stood up.
Blair realized that her words hadn't reassured Chuck. She was shocked and oddly moved to see him this vulnerable. She stood up beside him and then acted on impulse. She twisted her arms about him, hugging him gently so as not to cause pain. Chuck jumped awkwardly at first, a thousand thoughts released with the scent of rose. He forced himself to relax, and as he did their bodies grew closer. He buried his face in her hair, briefly welcoming the rose-scented memories. Then he dropped a kiss on her forehead. "Thank you."
"You don't deserve it," Blair jumped back when the moment became too intimate.
"I never do," Chuck turned his head and smiled to himself. "But you always help me anyway."
"I have a thing for charity cases," Blair spat out defensively, and took two large steps further away.
"Since you." Blair arched an eyebrow, and rang her fingers up and down the clasp of her clutch.
"Me too," Blair turned away to break the moment. "I've got to go. Last minute details," she rambled, and rolled her eyes. "Have to speak with my mother, and ... well ... whatever." She held her clutch tighter. "Good Luck Bass."
Chuck tilted his head.
"But, for the sake of all that is good, change your clothes before you go on camera. Smell might not transfer but poor fashion sense always does."
"Good advice as always," Chuck teased. "Thanks again Waldorf."
Blair waved a hand in the air, before she disappeared.
Despite his earlier convictions, Chuck crept rather than marching into the Van der Bass suite. He opened the door as silently as could be, checking the living room from behind it. Lily sat in the middle of the chaise lounge, reading a novel. Her blonde hair fell around her shoulders, and her tan legs appeared from below white capris. He dropped his bag beside the door, making a small noise.
"Charles," Lily leapt up. When she saw his bruises her eyes went wide. She crossed the suite in several steps. "Oh my God! Are you alright?" She asked putting out a hand to touch his face.
"I'm fine," Chuck assured her. "Is my father here?"
"He's downstairs, some kind of merger meeting. Are you sure you're alright," she asked again when he removed the sunglasses.
"I'm fine," he assured her again. "I just need a shower."
"Can I help you in any way?"
"Can you make me a sandwich?" Chuck realized how hungry he was. He'd barely eaten in the last few days.
"Okay," Lily agreed, worry still etched in her face.
"I just need a shower," Chuck waved off his step-mother. "I will be fine, I promise."
Despite her reservations, Lily left him to shower and set herself to arranging the most gourmet sandwich she could muster.
Chuck stood outside the Palace's principal boardroom. He'd been nourished by Lily's sandwich. It was a seven layer masterpiece, for though her culinary skills remained substandard, her enthusiasm was unmatched. Perhaps the strange blend of ingredients was not her fault though, for how well stocked could the fridge of a house be, whose members relied on room service most of the time.
Chuck knew that you never interrupt Bart during business. His mother, in one of her happier moods, would bring Chuck on little visits to his father. It's too bad his father didn't have the same enthusiasm for those times. Chuck learnt at a young age that outside time wasn't as important as meeting time, story time was pre-empted by conference calls and meal times were often forestalled for networking.
Chuck eyed his watch. It read 6:30pm. He knew if he did not act now, than they would run out of time. He pushed the heavy doors open. It was one of those boardroom meetings, a collection of men in suits with his father at front. They all turned when he entered, and he hesitated by habit. He waited for the scolding, or the dismissal but none came. His father made no attempt to continue with his presentation, but stood suspended in the room, looking at him.
His palms had grown damp, but Chuck Bass can't get nervous. His heart was beating erratically but Chuck Bass can't get scared. Then he did the final thing that Chuck Bass could never do.
"Dad, I need to talk."
A/N – I'm trying to keep the individual chapters under 4000 words so this chapter needed to be cut as well. This means that there's still one chapter and an epilogue left. It also means that you can vote on what extra scene you want added to the next chapter.
Bart & Eleanor scheming on the phone or Lewis meeting Vanessa and getting her son back
delphin – hopefully B/C's scheming didn't disappoint.
missscarletteblue – then Chuck is bound to get hotter next chapter
candycorn – thanks
pokey – yeah, Eric is so C's rock, I love their little friendship
tifa – well there was definitely a lot of B/C this chapter
blood red kiss of death – yep, Chuck needed Blair, because we all know she's the better schemer of the two
Up Next – The conclusion yipes (not including the epilogue which takes us forward in time). So is Bart on board? Eleanor? Does Lewis ever make if off the ground? How is Chuck going to apologize for this big a screw-up? And who is going to be by his side through it all?
Chapter 14: Chapter Thirteen
Chapter Thirteen – Amends
Chuck Bass doesn't make amends. One has to care about others to make amends; they have to sympathize with their loses, their grief and pain. Chuck Bass can't do empathy. He enjoys raging in like an uncontrollable hurricane, destroying everything in his path, and then watching other mortal's attempts to restore order.
Except Chuck Bass hasn't been himself for some time. Well that's not entirely true. He hasn't been Chuck Bass for some time but he has been himself. Somewhere in history, his persona had outgrown himself. Rather than bringing liberating freedom, it had caged him as fully as restraint might have.
"So Charles," his father sat in his leather chair. Bart had abandoned his meeting the instant his son had asked for him. Bart had always wanted his son rely on him, but he never had. Not that Bart could have blamed him; Bart had never been the most reliable of fathers. He had waited many years for another opportunity, and wasn't going to squander it. "Where have you been?"
"In Brooklyn," Chuck admitted.
Bart raised his eyebrows in surprise. Chuck had always avoided Brooklyn like the plague. The reason for it was simple, that's where Bart had been raised. His father may have mastered Upper East Side stance, posture and manner of speaking, but his roots were common. Chuck had always wanted to forget that his family was new money.
"And what were you doing there?"
"Just thinking," Chuck replied.
"Did you come to any conclusions?"
"Yes," Chuck stared at his father. "This time I've really messed up and I can't fix it on my own." He waited for his father to chastise him, but the older man smiled instead.
"Tell me what the problem is and we'll arrive at a solution," Bart smiled wider; "together."
"I lied about the whole situation with Miss. Smith."
Shock showed clearly on Bart's features, but rather than growing angry, he leaned in closer, willing his son to continue.
"It started out as some bravado to cover up the embarrassment I felt at being tutored, and it grew from there."
"Charles," His father shook his head, than caught himself.
"I know," Chuck shook his own head in agreement. He explained things further, including Andrew Wiltshire. Bart, knowing the Wiltshire family well, had had his own suspicions in that regard. Then Chuck started to explain his plans for retribution, going so far as to show Bart his book and the detailed notes within.
Bart took the notebook and leaned back in his chair. He took his red pen and jotted several notes in the columns. "Your decision to use Nate's cousin's passport is brilliant."
"Thanks," Chuck beamed. "She has her own vested interest."
"And an uncanny resemblance; I noticed it right away. Not to mention a son of similar age. This is very good," Bart decided, shutting the book. "You must have worked very hard."
"Blair helped," Chuck admitted.
"Yes, I saw that." Bart opened the book again, small smile playing at his lips. "Do you mind if I hold onto this, until I'm done talking with Eleanor."
"Not at all."
Bart looked at his watch. "I'd better do that now. And you'd better work on your speech."
Chuck smiled, those little darts of happiness striking again. "Thanks dad."
"Anytime." Bart said. "I just wish you could have come to me right away."
Chuck met his father's eyes. "You're not the easiest person to talk to."
"Neither are you," Bart put a hand out. "I'll do what I can. We'll solve this."
Chuck accepted the hand and then returned upstairs.
Bart watched his son go, and then leaned further back in his chair. He shook his head at the changes in the boy who had caused him so much heartache. Then he took the blackberry from his pocket and dialled.
"Good evening Bart," Eleanor's aristocratic voice came through the phone line.
"Good evening Eleanor."
"It's been a while."
"Yes, it has," Bart paused, waiting for the obligatory chit-chat. It never came.
"We can save the pleasantries for another time. Blair has already advised me of the essentials. She presented a very interesting proposal, but told me to defer my final opinion until speaking with you."
"And do you have a final opinion now?"
"What? No pleading on behalf of your son?"
"If you prefer."
"No, I'd rather you not. It doesn't suit a man like you. Besides, Lily is my dearest friend and we, ourselves, have been friends for years. I will help you all in any way I can."
"Thank you Eleanor."
"Besides, who couldn't sympathize with a woman in Miss Smith's position?"
"And the plans our children cooked up are only a few steps short of perfection itself."
"You noticed those too?"
"Yeah, there were a couple things; like finding a room in Paris for Miss Smith. One can't be lost in Paris."
"I thought that too."
"I don't know why Blair didn't think of asking Harold; I guess she didn't want to impose."
"But you don't mind?"
"I called him after Blair left. They'll be a car waiting for Lewis at the airport."
"Excellent," Bart put one foot up on the desk. "The other thing is making Lewis a French national. No one is going to believe she was born in France."
"With that dreadful Québécois accent," Eleanor's laugh crackled through the phone line.
"I can see why they did it though. Forging a birth certificate is less complicated than all the documents needed for immigration."
"That might not be as difficult as you think," Eleanor realized. "Ramon's former lover is an ambassador. A closeted ambassador."
"I love it when a plan comes together."
Eleanor laughed again. "I'll sort out the last few details. Blair will be relieved. She's been very worried about Chuck recently."
"Yes, I've noticed that."
"I'm not sure I quite approve of it."
"I don't blame you for that."
"But I also can't deny that Nathaniel has fallen entirely out of my favour."
"So you really think the two of them?"
"Blair has always cared about Charles. But not to this extreme." Eleanor could almost see Bart smile through the phone. "Maybe we should arrange a dinner party; when I get back from Paris."
"I don't think that's a good idea. In business, one likes to drive a bargain through; in romance, it's better to let things take their natural course."
"Alright," Eleanor agreed. "Since you've enjoyed more marital felicity than the rest of us combined, I'll defer to your judgement." Bart could hear Eleanor shouting a few instructions in the background. "Paris calls." She announced when she was done.
"Have a great flight Eleanor."
"I always do," she said and then hung up.
Bart stuck his head in Chuck's room, and noted his son studiously putting pen to paper. "Mrs Waldorf is in agreement," he announced "so keep working on your speech and I'll contact the media."
A hint of a smile crossed Chuck's features before it was replaced again by diligent concentration.
Chuck sat in his father's limo. It was parked outside the local police station, and Chuck didn't care if anyone thought that was odd. He was waiting on one phone call, and then he'd put things to right.
After what seemed like an extraordinarily long time it rang. The call was short, one sentence actually, but it communicated so much more.
"Was that Miss Abrams?" his father asked from the opposite seat.
"The package has been delivered," Chuck almost laughed at Vanessa's unoriginality. She was, after all, supposed to be some artistic genius. "Let's go," Chuck opened the door.
"I'm right behind you." His father answered and true to his word he remained by his side, through the police interview and an hour later when Chuck entered his father's boardroom. It was a small room, furnished in wood as all Bart's offices were inclined towards. One wall was an unending pane of glass, and the rose-coloured sun dressed the entire room in a rose-coloured hue.
His father had set up a small table top podium at the front, similar to what he would use while giving a presentation. Chuck went to the front, and clipped his notes to it. His father remained one step behind.
One the other side of the podium were six print journalists, and two television cameras. Chuck had decided that he needed to apologize publically. The media storm surrounding the supposed affair of teacher and student was so swift and all-encompassing that he needed to put it right.
He stood at the front of the room and realized; he was about to put Chuck Bass to death. He felt the predicted pains of regret, of mourning, but stronger than that an overarching relief.
Chuck started his speech in a shaky, uneven tone than stopped. There were parts of Chuck Bass that would always remain. It didn't matter that his face was painted in three shades of purple, or he that he was about to tell the most embarrassing story of his life, he could still do it with class.
"My name is Chuck Bass. I want to start out by saying it because the law says I don't need to. But the law is designed to protect the innocent, and that is why it will not protect me.
I am guilty of lying, but beyond that I am guilty of allowing that lie to swell and vilify others. At no time did I have an intimate relationship with Miss Smith, though I did imply as much. I lied to better of my reputation within the school, and can never be sorry enough for the fervour caused by this lapse in judgement.
When Chuck looked up again he saw something from the corner of his eye. A flash of chestnut curls appeared behind the open door. He saw a perfectly manicured thumbs up, but within the same moment was gone. Chuck returned to his notes.
I would like to apologize to the NYPD for wasting time and resources that could have been put to more fruitful endeavours. I would also like to apologize for the damage that this has caused to the reputation of St. Judes, their staff and students.
Most importantly I would like to apologize to Miss Lewis Smith herself. She has been unfairly maligned at my hands. She is an excellent teacher and a fine person. I am sorry for the professional and the personal adversity she has suffered at my hands.
Chuck folded his speech in two and slipped it into his pocket. The reporters began to ask questions but his father waved them off. Chuck stepped from the front, but before he could leave the room he felt two strong arms hug him. He was so happy to have his father's arms around him, even the pain it caused couldn't ruin the moment.
Behind him the sun completed its descent. It was the end of the day, and the end of a life-altering week. Perhaps it was fitting that his redemption had come on a Sunday.
Chuck walked back to his family suite, father keeping step beside him. They never talked, but the silence was not uncomfortable. Chuck could hear the music and laughter before he opened the door. When he did, he noticed a crowd of his friends gathered. Nate sat in the largest chair, Vanessa reclining on the arm beside him. Blair sat in the chair opposite them, and Eric, Serena and Dan split the couch.
"I'll be in the bedroom with Lily," Bart whispered and then fled the gaggle of teens.
"Hello," Chuck eyed the unusual grouping with unease.
"Hi," everyone called back with one unified voice.
"To what do I owe this pleasure?" Chuck asked warningly.
"Celebration," Blair announced from her seat.
"Thank the lord," Chuck drawled sarcastically. "I thought maybe it was an intervention."
"Don't be silly!" Eric tore his eyes from the television screen long enough to smile at his brother. "We always plan our interventions for Thursdays."
"Vanessa is going to screen the beginning of her documentary." Dan announced excitedly.
"Oh, joy," Chuck moaned, kicking his shoes off. "I'll make popcorn then."
"It's only the first fifteen minutes," Vanessa explained.
"I'll try not to take longer than that," Chuck smiled at Vanessa. "No guarantees though."
"I'll help," Vanessa offered, getting up from her place beside Nate. "Nate and Eric will be racing for a time yet," she indicated the two boys who were engaged in a spirited match of Project Gotham.
"Ooookay," Chuck said. He gave Nate a slap as he went by. "I should warn you; you can't beat Eric." Chuck advised "the kid has freakishly fast fingers."
"I'll help too," Dan got up from his seat.
Chuck stopped and stared at the two Brooklynites for a moment. "You two? In that case, give me a minute to hide the knives."
"Et tu Brutus?" Dan followed Chuck into the kitchen.
Chuck removed the popcorn maker from the top cabinet, placing it on the counter. Vanessa and Dan stood awkwardly under the doorframe, and Chuck narrowed his eyes further. He opened the fridge and took out some butter. "Do you want to melt this?" He asked Vanessa.
"Listen, let's just drop the pretence," Vanessa eyed the butter. "That's not why I came here."
"Sorry to disappoint," Chuck smirked. "But I've already slept with one of Nate's girlfriends, and it didn't go over well the first time."
Vanessa rolled her eyes. "That is not it. I came here to tall you you that that thing you did with Lewis Smith, that it was really great. You could have just told the cops the truth and left her at the mercy of her fiancée. But you didn't, and that shows there must." Her words slowed down, and you could tell it pained her to say the rest. "Be some redeemable qualities about you."
"Maybe even ten percent."
Chuck laughed. "And how was it?" He asked with genuine interest.
"It was pretty amazing. Her son is so gorgeous. He's got dark little curls and the most incredible green eyes ever."
Chuck smiled to himself, loading the popcorn maker. He was sorry that he'd never got to meet the kid.
"There may have been tears at the reunion."
"See," Chuck plugged the maker in. "That's the sort of thing you should make documentaries about. Real life, real drama!"
"Except not literally that," Chuck stared at her. "You didn't tape it right?"
"And here I thought you trusted me," Vanessa feigned hurt.
"I was pressed for time."
Vanessa laughed. "Well, no hard feelings. You misjudged me, and I misjudged you. And Dan..." she trailed off staring at the other boy in the room.
"Yes Dan," Chuck mocked. "Are you going to keep the feel-good train chugging along?"
Dan gave a little hiss of disapproval, but spoke anyway. "I've realized that Serena could have a worse man for a future brother." Chuck's shocked silence prompted Dan to continue. "Genghis Khan, Hitler ... Mr. Pisor."
"The science teacher?"
Dan shook his head.
"You really hate that man don't you," Chuck said.
"That's because you take Physics and not Chemistry. But that's not the point. The point is," Dan shook his head. "Just forget it."
"It's okay," Chuck smiled. "I think I got it already."
"Hey guys," Eric called from the other room. "Blair's going to open the champagne."
Chuck trailed the other two back into the main room. "I'm honoured that you feel this occasion calls for champagne." Chuck decided as Blair handed him the last champagne flute.
"Who said it had anything to do with you?" Blair corrected, pouring him a glass.
"What exactly are we celebrating then?" Chuck asked.
"Perhaps we're celebrating Eric," Blair shrugged her shoulders, and Eric looked up in surprise. "He survived his first sit-down with Big Bad Bart," she smiled at the younger boy, filling his glass to the brim.
"Here, here," the room cried out, raising their still empty glasses.
"Thank you," Eric tiled his head in modesty. "But that isn't it," he assured his brother, taking a tiny sip.
"So," Chuck prompted Blair for the truth.
"Perhaps we're celebrating Dan," she offered, pouring his glass next. "He survived his first sit down with the police."
"How did the police interview go?" Chuck asked. "You never told us."
"It was an enlightening look at our justice system," Dan admitted.
"Were your palms damp?" Chuck asked.
"They're always damp." Serena interjected.
"And there goes another little piece of my manhood," Dan said giving his girlfriend's hand a squeeze.
"Be nice to him," Chuck ordered his sister. The order drew more than one shocked expression. "He's only got so much to work with." The shock turned to laughter.
"All those nice things I said to you in the kitchen," Dan said. "They've all been wiped out."
"It was still worth it," Chuck shrugged his shoulders.
"Come on you guys," Serena begged. "Tell Chuck what we're really celebrating."
"Have you been pinged by gossip girl today?" Blair asked.
"I don't even have a cell."
"You managed to part with the pay and talk beauty?" Blair took a sip of her champagne. "Anyway, the point is none of us have been or are likely to be again. As of 9:00am, the NYPD pulled her little plug."
"Are you kidding me?"
"Nope! Gossip Girl is no more. To her end." Blair announced from the center of the room. They all raised their glasses skyward. "May the bitch rest without peace!" Everyone drank together.
"If this wasn't already destined to be the worst day of my life," Chuck threw himself on the sofa beside his brother, putting one socked foot on the table. "Then it could have almost been the best."
Blair laughed at him. "You say that now, but in two weeks you'll be complaining that there is no good gossip to be had."
"Can you wait until then to remind me of my hypocrisy?" Chuck eyed her over his emptying flute.
"Thank the Good Lord," Vanessa called out from where she was arranging wires behind the TV. "I was getting so sick of the Vanessa fashion disaster corner."
Blair laughed aloud. "I really liked that feature."
"Come on, it was kind of crafty. How she took stills of your vintage outfits, and then proved they were as cheap thirty years ago as they are now."
"Positively hilarious," Vanessa tried a fake laugh from behind the TV.
"She did have a convincing track record," Eric pointed out.
"I wouldn't be that offended," Blair educated Vanessa. "She's probably just some pimpled, fat girl that hides in her room all day and secretly fantasizes about Nate."
"I knew it was you!" Vanessa cried out.
Rather than laughing, the rest of the room glared at her because they knew, while nearly everything was fair game, you never implied that Blair was fat.
"Strangely, I think I'm going to miss her," Eric sentimentalized, putting his feet up beside his brother's.
"You?" Blair was shocked. "You don't have a hint of the devilish in you."
"A perfectly innocent man wouldn't have played such a convincing role at the bank this morning," Chuck enlightened the crowd.
Once side of Eric's smile crawled upward; a perfect replica of his older brother's smirk. The room was struck speechless, except for Nate who jumped to his feet. "Bam!" he cried out, slapping his hands together.
Vanessa stuck her head out to find out what the fuss was about. She shook her head at Eric and then asked Nate for help. Nate joined her behind the television.
"Seriously though," Serena shook her head. "She outed you to the whole school."
Vanessa was shocked. Her head appeared again. "You're gay!" she cried out.
"Shhhh," the entire room hushed her. "His mother doesn't know."
"Sorry," Vanessa was genuinely contrite, and disappeared again.
"I wouldn't worry about missing Gossip Girl," Blair consoled Eric. "I'm sure she'll be back online soon enough."
"It's ready," Vanessa called from behind the television.
"Took you long enough," Chuck refilled his glass. "I thought you were supposed to be the smart one of the pairing."
"Your father's system is pretty complicated."
"If you hadn't spent half the time making out it could have been done by now," Blair enlightened the company.
"Whatever," Vanessa gave a toss of her head.
"Please," Blair rolled her eyes. "There's a plug-in on the front." The entire room broke out laughing as the two dishevelled lovers emerged.
The laughter died as the film began to roll. The scenes jumped between black and white, moving and stills, Dan and everyone else. It was obvious that Vanessa was trying to emphasis Dan's innocence in comparison to everyone else but the camera spent so much time on Dan that it created another obvious fact.
After about three minutes of this, Chuck's patience was wearing thin. "When do the words start?"
"There are no words." Vanessa explained. "It's a silent film"
Chuck threw his head back against the sofa and groaned loud enough for everyone to hear. He looked over at Nate, and noticed that his friend had his eyes riveted to the screen. He's really trying! Chuck thought and respected him for it. Then he noticed something else; his friend's eyes were completely glazed over. That's more realistic.
"This is fifteen minutes of my life that I will never get back," Eric whispered to Chuck, earning a smothered chuckle.
"I thought you were all about the artsy," Chuck whispered back.
"I am," Eric admitted. "But this isn't artsy; this is some kind of weird love proclamation."
"How many hours did she spend editing in those little yellow halos that follow Dan everywhere?"
Chuck rolled his eyes and sat back further in his chair. He scanned the room. Most of those gathered were making an attempt at full attention; though Dan was growing progressively more uncomfortable. When he turned the other way his eyes caught on Blair. She had one shoe balanced on her toe and was bouncing it slowly up and down. This aberration from strict Blair protocol proved just how bored she was. He gave a little cough to attract her attention. When she met his glance, the two rolled their eyes simultaneously.
Then to Chuck's shock, Blair took it further. She put her hand up and mimed violin playing. Chuck snorted lightly, taking his cue from her. He placed his hand over his heart, put on his best puppy-dog face, and mimed heartbeats. Blair had to put a hand up to stifle her laughter, but wasn't successful. The rest of the room looked over.
Then Eric joined the game; he furtively put out his two index fingers and rubbed them together. Blair tried harder to contain her laughter. Before the rest of the room figured the source, Eric's hands were returned to his lap and his attention to the television.
Once Chuck eyed his brother's innocent expression, he couldn't contain his own mirth. A loud chuckle escaped before he could restrain it. Attention in the room was split between Blair and Chuck, most of the viewers deciding it was a better show than the documentary.
"Blair," Serena leapt up from the sofa. "Kitchen, please" she tilted her head.
Blair trailed her blonde friend out of the room.
"I can not believe it."
"What?" Blair laughed. "The slow-motion love tape in the other room."
"That?" Serena shook her head in confusion. "That's artsy."
Blair laughed aloud at her friend's innocence.
"No, no, no," Serena screeched, than lowered her voice. "That's not what I wanted to talk about. Why you were flirting with Chuck."
"I'm not flirting with him?" Blair shook her head "That's preposterous."
Serena didn't look convinced.
"He's vile," Blair argued further "why would I ever flirt with him?"
"Why would you sleep with him?"
Blair just rolled her eyes; she was too flustered for a comeback.
"So," Serena peered out from behind her golden locks. "Are you going to ... you know."
"I don't know," Blair admitted at last. "We'll see what happens. It's not like he's been mourning me for the last few months."
Serena had to agree. Aside from this supernatural week, Chuck had behaved per usual. Before they could debate the devil's feelings, they heard a commotion from the other room. There were two loud bangs followed by singing?
"What the hell is that?" Blair asked Serena.
"It sounds like Eric's singing."
"And who is singing with him?"
"Chuck?" Serena guessed, but the two couldn't be sure. They'd never heard him sing before.
"If it's Chuck, he's got a good voice."
The two girls ran to the living room door and peered inside.
Chuck and Eric stood on the room's expansive coffee table. Each held a pillow and they were waving them in what might have passed for dancing. This wasn't the most shocking part of the exhibition, however, for both were belting out their best Lionel Richie.
"Hello. Is it me you're looking for? I can see it in your eyes. I can see it in your smile. You're all I've ever wanted. And my arms are open wide."
"Oh my God!" Blair covered her mouth in astonishment.
"Come on," Serena grabbed her arm and started to pull her towards the dancing boys.
Blair shook her head, and Serena went on alone. Chuck put out his hand, and pulled Serena into the middle. Blair walked a few steps closer and then tossed her golden-tressed friend an empty champagne glass. Serena caught it easily and turned it into a microphone.
"I long to see the sunlight in your hair. And tell you time and time again how much I care. Sometimes I feel my heart with overflow."
"HELLO!" The three were now screaming rather than singing.
The teens were so engaged that they didn't notice Lily and Bart creep into the doorway. They studied their kids and exchanged an amused glance. Lily nearly reminded the kids not to scratch the coffee table, and Bart was tempted to tell them to keep the volume down, but they both stopped. The two of them had never seen their children so naturally, unaffectedly, and deliriously happy. They crept quietly back to their bedroom instead.
"Is it me you're looking for? Because I wonder where you are and I wonder what you do. Are you somewhere feeling lonely? Or is someone loving you? Tell me how to win your heart for I haven't got a clue."
Blair couldn't stop laughing, and had to grab onto the side of the sofa to steady herself. Than she noticed something: Dan had turned five shades of red and Vanessa looked like she was going to murder the trio. Blair guessed what had prompted the strange karaoke, and this guess was confirmed when the boys finished the song by kneeling down and throwing their hands in Dan's direction.
"But let me start by saying I love you."
"I got your criticism," Vanessa snapped. "I didn't need to hear it in chorus line."
Chuck jumped off the table "It's pretty bad when that many shots of me still can't save a plot."
"Yeah," Nate was offended. "Why were there so many sequences of Chuck and only one of me?"
"He's the evil archetype," she explained. "They always get more time than the sex object."
"Everyone needs a little evil in their lives," Chuck smirked. Then he went to the side board and grabbed the half-empty champagne bottle. "And a little champagne," he refilled everyone's glasses.
Chuck jumped back onto the coffee table. "I propose a toast." He raised his champagne glass high in the air, than moved it in a slow circle around the room, inviting the rest of those gathered to do the same.
"Which can be found in the unlikeliest places." Chuck nodded to Vanessa
"With the unlikeliest people." He turned to Dan.
"Under the most unlikely of situations." He indicated his future siblings.
"And endure the most unlikely circumstance." He bowed to Nate
"But always reigns supreme." He raised his glass to Blair; his eyes never leaving hers until the glass was emptied.
delphin – that whole almighty thing is a bit of a pet peeve of mine. They may have power and wealth beyond what any 17 year old could expect but they're still 17.
Missscarletteblue – Eric gets a staring role (and his own storyline) in the sequel :)
blood red kiss of death – I'm hoping we get a lot of the whole Van der Bass family dynamic in season two. It's obviously interesting to me (it was the core of this story)
pokey – their combined scheming power would be so awesome!
Courtney belle – thanks for the praise. I hope you enjoy this last chapter (and the epilogue in a few more days)
izzyjane, kcaitlink, lacquer, rockthevote, chuckbasslova – thank you so much for the feedback. Feedback feeds my muse :)
A/N – And that's it folks!...except for the Epilogue…because there's one more thing that needs to be sorted out (and I think everyone can guess what that is).
The story itself stops here because of its premise: it's Chuck-centric. It's about his relationship with others. He started out with few friends and a poor relationship with his dad. He ends it with a wider and more authentic circle of friends and a repaired relationship with Bart.
But I need me some B & C loving so….
Up Next: We end where we started, meditating on a pair of blood-stained lips…
(I'll also give you a teaser for You Can't Forget Your First: No Matter How Hard You Try)
Chapter 15: Epilogue
Epilogue – Freedom
Chuck Bass has been set free. If you were to have asked him two months ago, Chuck would have assured you that he had always been free; free to live without restraint or judgement. He has since discovered a deeper truth: Freedom can no more be found at the bottom of a bottle than at the top. Unless you are who you pretend to be, you will always feel a state of disequilibrium, of falseness and not quite measuring up. Chuck has rediscovered himself by establishing a balance between who he pretended to be and who he really is.
What does that mean? I'll tell you what it doesn't mean. Chuck never transformed into some Freud quoting, dark poetry writing, companion to Dan Humphrey. That would defy reason. In fact, his friendship with Dan didn't even survive through second block on Monday morning. His friendship with Vanessa endured longer, but only because it was two weeks before he saw her again. Chuck did not suddenly aspire to new heights, or discover passionate new interests. In fact, no matter the requests, Chuck refused to repeat either table jumping or singing. He blamed that momentarily lapse of judgement on too many drunken days and temporary psychosis caused by the now-infamous Lily sandwich: layers of bean sprouts, tomato and peanut butter.
This also doesn't imply a lock of growth. What Chuck did gain was an appreciation for the needs of others. He learnt to balance his own needs, wants and whims with those of others. He still threw the best parties, drank the hardest, and bedded the most beautiful women but he means of doing each differed. His parties were better regulated, his worst drunken moments found their way to the weekends, and the girls he slept with were fully conscious and consenting.
He could have done more but life is a progression of baby steps.
Two Weeks Later
Chuck drew little circles on the arm of the leather chair. He's been forced into this chair so many times, that Chuck just knew, when he grew old and Alzheimer's takes over, his only childhood memories will be flashes of black leather and a stern headmistresses. He was facing expulsion, and doubted his father could sweet-talk or purchase a way out of it. He'd humiliated the school itself, calling its reputation into question. The headmistress dropped Chuck's three files on the desk with a thud and he looked up. She looked even more perturbed than usual. He'd better start packing for reform school.
At least they'd delayed the meeting until after Bart and Lily's honeymoon. The two had married to great fanfare the week prior and then absconded to Egypt for five days. They would have stayed longer, but neither could completely trust their offspring.
"Mr. Bass, Ms. Van der Woodsen," the headmistress greeted his parents (his parents, it was strange to think of it that way). They exchanged pleasantries a moment, discussing both the successful wedding and trip. The headmistress' features almost grew friendly, but the reprieve was short-lived. "As you know, we are here to discuss Charles." She reported his name with such antipathy that Chuck squirmed. "I'll get right to the point. Charles ought to be expelled for his actions."
Bart started to speak, but the headmistress put up a hand to prevent it. Chuck was shocked when his commanding father quieted immediately.
"Considering that there is only four weeks remaining to the school year, it would be too disruptive to move him now."
Chuck's circles grew a little deeper. His nails dug into the leather fabric, making a perfectly circular indentation. It would be strange to start a new school in the fall, but maybe it was for the best. He would have a fresh slate, a new start.
"The board is divided on whether Charles should be allowed to return next fall."
The circles grew a little softer; maybe there was still a chance. He didn't want to move, he'd miss his friends too much.
"So we have decided to rely on the recommendations of Chuck's teachers."
His circles grew deeper again; his teacher's would revel in the chance to be free of him.
I'm going to start with a letter that Miss. Smith sent to the school prior to her abrupt departure. "If Charles learns from his lapse in judgement, and puts those lessons into practice than he deserves congratulations rather than censure."
Chuck's circles grew feather light. He couldn't believe that Lewis would take the time to write that, at the time she did.
"I am in agreement with these thoughts. There are other letters," the headmistress pointed to a small stack. "They all have one general theme; that Chuck has grown as a student and as an individual." She picked up a couple, "He now attends classes on time and with materials prepared." She flipped the page, "he maintains attention to task better, his revisions are improving." She slipped again, "his exam marks have significantly jumped. And my personal favourite," the headmistress tried to suppress a smile. "He no longer causes my ulcers to act up!"
Everyone laughed aloud at that.
"So Charles." The headmistress smiled openly at him (that had never happened before). "It is the recommendation of the school to reward your improved behaviour and achievement by disavowing the recommendation for expulsion." Then her smile dropped and she turned serious. "But should your behaviour deteriorate than that disavowal will be overturned. You are to be on a very short lease for the remainder of this year, and for your senior year. Do you understand what I am saying," she stared him right in the eye.
"Then you are dismissed."
Four Weeks Later
Andrew Wiltshire, in his arrogance, considered his possession of Lewis Smith complete. She was a penniless orphan, and he was future head of one of the wealthiest families that had ever existed. He had never bothered to protect his own custodial rights. Lewis had never entered his name on the birth certificate, and they had never lived together long enough to gain fatherhood through that route. He needed a DNA test and as long as Lewis and her son stayed hidden he was powerless to gain it.
The police were not his friend, not after they realized he had fabricated his evidence. Andrew had never intended to sink to such deception, but couldn't resist when the opportunity presented itself. He might have even loved her; he certainly intended to possess her but Andrew Wiltshire knew that Lewis would never feel the same. So when given the chance to rid himself of her (while keeping his son), Andrew had grabbed on with both hands.
This later wickedness added upon the police's prior dislike. A dislike that was formed by Lewis herself, and the sprained wrist they'd discovered upon arrest. Even if Lewis said nothing, her prior bruising made it an obvious conclusion.
Andrew Wiltshire spoke with the police the day after his family's disappearance, and every week thereafter. Each complaint was lodged and subsequently lost forever.
Lewis reclined on an outdoor chaise, watching her son poke and play in the fields of green grapes. He was just starting to run, and every few minutes would totter up with a snail, worm or some other treasure. Lewis wore a yellow sundress and plain white sandals, a couple pieces of the small wardrobe she had begun to accumulate. She had left the police station with nothing beyond a pair of jeans, her tank top, and her teaching case. Andrew had visited once, to inform her that she'd be denied entry to his home if she were to make bail. He was true to his word.
She'd begun to accumulate a small life, bolstered by an impressive cash payout from Bart Bass. Every though the money was gifted to her, she had spent as little as she could. She had never wanted to rely on charity, so apart from a few necessities; the only item she had purchased was a new digital camera. In her flight from New York she had lost all of her pictures of Aidan, and meant to never lose another. She could happily give up her degrees, her place in academia but she could never give up her son.
"Lewis," Harold Waldorf called out from the house.
Harold meandered through the inner gardens until he came upon his target. "There is mail for you," he offered a big envelope and then sat on a nearby chair.
"For me?" Lewis is surprised but then guesses the contents. She takes the large manila envelope and opens it. Inside are a stack of official-looking documents. She smiles widely, as she checks through them. There are visa documents, landed immigrant documents and finally two sets of birth certificates.
"Thank you," she smiles at the older man, and then grabs a smaller envelope. "Can you enclose this for Blair, when next you write?"
"Of course," Harold took the envelope and returned to the house.
Lewis studied the documents in greater detail. They were excellent. No one could have guessed they were forged. When she noted the birth certificate she laughed aloud. Her new name was Jane Martin. Not only had Chuck remembered her favourite heroine, he'd given her the most common French surname, just as Smith had been the most common English.
Then she noticed her son's birth certificate. She rolled her eyes and tossed the document behind the rest. Chuck must have a sense of humour because he had renamed her son Charles.
Six Weeks Later
"Come on Chuck." Serena's perfect golden head popped into her brother's bedroom. "We're going to be late!"
"Just a minute." He squinted at the computer screen. "This has to be perfect."
"Chuck Bass caring about a book report? I never thought I'd see the day."
"You've been saying that a lot lately."
"It's been warranted," Serena admitted.
"Don't push your luck," Serena teased, but she didn't need to say anything. Chuck had improved over the last weeks. He was driven, less bitter, and dare she say, dependable? Serena picked up his novel. "Catcher in the Rye?" she read aloud.
"It's a good novel."
"Yeah, I think Eric read it last summer."
"There," Chuck called to the screen, and the printer jumped to life.
"Chuck," Eric joined his siblings. "Hurry up; I have a French final in 20 minutes.
Chuck collected the papers and stuffed them hastily into his bag. He made it two steps into the hallway when his phone beeped. He tossed his bag over his shoulders, kept his siblings in sight, and read the text.
I need to talk to you. ALONE
Chuck stopped walking, and just stared. When Nate and Vanessa had turned serious (for what could two months of monogamy be on the UES but serious) Blair had tried to fully restore her friendship with Chuck. Chuck was still wary; not wanting to be the means to a Nate-Blair reunion. He had waited endlessly for an obviously romantic signal, but it had never come. He didn't know that Blair had been doing the same. The two were so caught up in studying the other, they had forgotten to send signals of their own.
The rest might have guessed that Blair and Chuck's feelings were mutual, but only one person knew it for sure. Nate had learned one through an honest confession and the other through her actions. He kept both secrets. Nate wanted to believe it was through some devotion to both; but it was more likely his own feelings, which couldn't quite handle the idea of Blair and Chuck.
Chuck leaned back against the walls of the elevator, and typed a text in return.
I'm done practice at 6. East field.
Chuck jogged over to the metal fence, bag bouncing against his hip. He was late, and while with Chuck Bass being late was a predictable fact, being late today bothered him. He couldn't leave Blair standing. She was too important to be left in wait.
He spotted her standing by the gate. She had abandoned her school uniform hours ago, but her hair was still tied back with a red headband.
She turned as she heard him approach, pretending to tap her foot on the pavement. She wouldn't really tap, it was beneath her and it might damage the perfect kid leather.
"Took you long enough," Blair raised one eyebrow.
"It was last practice," Chuck explained. "It went longer than expected."
"Apparently," Blair eyed his custom uniform. "Are we setting a new fashion trend?"
"I would have been even later if I had stopped to change."
"Or shower," Blair reminded him, taking a step away.
"Well I could go shower now. Want to join in?" Chuck smirked a little "You could hold the soap ... or me."
"As tempting as that offer is," Blair rolled her eyes. "I'm here because we need to talk."
"Is that what the kids are calling it now?" Chuck leaned against the metal fence, eyes slowly ravishing her.
"Chuck! Stop being you for a minute. I have a letter," she held it out "from France."
Chuck's interest was piped by something other than the chestnut beauty. He grabbed the envelope, opening the already unsealed flap. Within it was a picture of a handsome little boy, about a year and half old. He had beautiful green eyes, and dark chestnut curls. Chuck smiled genuinely, and then flipped it over.
I hope you chose to forgive my interference in your life as I have chosen to forgive yours in mine.
Chuck narrowed his eyes in concentration, trying to guess at Miss Smith's meaning.
"What did it say?"
"Like you didn't check it already." Chuck eyed his brunette counterpart. She was smiling innocently, but he was not deceived.
"Did you guess the meaning?" She admitted her prying.
"No, it's pretty strange." Chuck handed it to Blair, who took it and read it again. "What do you think she's talking about?"
"I might have an idea," Blair admitted and then Chuck noticed something. Despite their usual banter, Blair wasn't holding herself aloof. There was just the slightest dampness in each eye, as if tears threatened at any moment, but Blair was far from unhappy. She looked positively radiant.
"And that is?" Chuck asked.
Blair reached into her purse, and took out a single piece of paper. It had been folded several times, and Chuck's stomach did a little dance as Blair unfolded each crease. When she reached the end, Blair held it out for Chuck to read. He didn't need to; he knew the words by heart. Miss Smith had sent Blair his love poem,
"Did you mean it?"
Chuck could feel his throat closing. He breathed quicker, but they were shallow, empty breaths. "I wrote it, didn't I?"
"Do you still mean it?"
Chuck took one deep, forced breath and admitted what he had hidden for months. "Yes."
Blair threw herself into his arms. She twisted her arms around him, desperate to mimic the closeness he had expressed. She kissed him. It was soft and gentle at first. "No one has ever done anything like this for me."
"I've seen Nate's attempts at poetry, consider yourself blessed."
Blair laughed, tiny puffs of air tickling his lips, than they kissed again. She wound her body more tightly to his, dragging her fingers through his hair, and drawing one manicured hand up his back.
Chuck broke away reluctantly. "Aren't you afraid someone will see?"
Blair laughed again, "Let them watch."
Chuck could feel the cold of the metal fence. Each icy link dug into his calve, creating an excruciating contrast to the heat that coursed throughout. Blair pushed him further, advanced more ruthlessly in her desire to possess him. When their kisses became too heated for public amusement, Blair pulled back. "Your place?"
"I'm afraid it's mine no longer. I share it with my siblings," Chuck explained. "And Serena has it booked today.
Blair pouted, bringing into Chuck's sight one plump, rosy object.
"We could wait," Chuck suggested, drawing the object between his own lips. "I doubt Dan will take more than five minutes."
"Ew!" Blair gave him a playful shove with both hands.
"Okay, that was gross," Chuck admitted. "Even for me." He pulled her flush to him again. "Your place?"
"My mother is home." Blair answered. Chuck moaned against her lips, the tickling sensation sending a thousand flickers up and down her spine. He moved his lips along her jaw line, placing soft kisses along the perfectly structured bone. Then he dipped lower, capturing her earlobe. Blair moaned in frustration. Why did Eleanor have to pick today of all days, to bless Blair with her presence?
Behind the two a sleek, black limo pulled up. Blair recognized it immediately and laughed softly, smothering the sound in Chuck's shoulder. He turned around and when he saw the object of her amusement, laughed as well. "Care to repeat history?"
"I'm wearing much more than a slip." She reminded him.
"I'm sure we could take care of that." Chuck trailed a finger down her side before leading her into the opened door.
The two fell against the seats, all pretence of gentleness forgotten. Blair's dress was unzipped before the limo pulled from the curb. Blair threw him to the floor.
Her hands inched lower, drawing circles around his belly button. Chuck grabbed them and forced them upward again. "If we do this now, you aren't going to go running back to Nate again," he looked her in the eyes. When she didn't answer immediately, he lightened the request. "At least for a month or two?"
Blair sat up and laughed aloud. "Chuck, I haven't cared about Nate in a long time."
"But all that stuff with Vanessa?"
"No girl likes to lose, even if she figured out long ago that the prize isn't worth having." Blair could see that Chuck wasn't convinced. "My affections have long been engaged elsewhere."
It was only then that the realization hit. "Wait," Chuck smiled smugly. "That means you've liked me all this time?"
"Believe me; no one was more shocked or disgusted than I."
Chuck's smirk grew to encompass his entire face. He just sat there a moment, propped on one elbow, contemplating her words.
"Do I have to beg you to ravish me?" Blair sighed at last.
"Never" he pulled her back to him. "Though I'm not opposed to begging in general," he whispered into her ear.
Blair smiled against his cheek. "Please," she laid a kiss just below his ear. "Ravish," she kissed the base of his neck. "Me," she bit his collarbone.
After rush of love-making cooled to the comfort of intimacy, neither pulled away. Chuck handed the driver a few hundreds, and he kept them on a constant circle of New York. The lights of the city danced on their bodies, and the constant din of urban noise provided a soundtrack. Chuck stretched his body to its entire length, and Blair curled into a ball and rested within.
"Can you read it to me? Blair asked at last, turning over to face her lover.
"I'm a bit young for literary readings, but I'm sure we could arrange a price."
"Shut up." She slapped him on the arm, "you're ruining the moment."
"If I shut up, then how could I read my..." Blair pressed a hand over his mouth in frustration. She could feel his smirk against her fingertips.
Using a free hand, Chuck trailed his fingertips down Blair's bare side. She shivered lightly before he snatched the paper from her hand. He leaned back against the limo's cushions. Blair leaned her elbows on his chest, staring at him. Then she noticed something; the base of each cheek was coloured red and he could not meet her eyes. He was embarrassed. She respected it, and curling her eyes from his, she rested her head on his chest. She listened, first to the erratic beat of his heart, and then to the rough voice that echoed from within.
They say love comes like a summer breeze, soft and gentle, bringing fragrant flowers and floating butterflies.
I say love comes like a thief in the night, bearing perfect chestnut curls and blood-stained lips that suck your soul with every kiss.
I say love brings fingers that pull at your clothes, but remove much more. Fingers that creep underneath your greatest defences, leaving you exposed, alone and lost.
I say love brings nails that that tear at your skin, but leave their scars on the inside. Nails that destroy truth without bringing anything to replace it.
I say love brings blood that stains you forever. Love may be the one to cry out, but you are the one left aching, nursing injuries that appear and disappear with a single smile.
They say love brings every happiness.
I say love is the source of all misery.
But bring me a smile.
Brandish your nails.
Unfurl your fingers.
And kiss me again.
For even if the morning brings me pain, I can't help but want love tonight.
A/N – Thank you to everyone who joined me on this lovely journey. I am kind of sad to see it end. Hopefully it was everything you wanted it to be, (and just a little more) :)
Sky Samuelle – We learn a lot about Chuck's mom in the sequel. Georgiana is a bit of a window on that part of his life, a very scary, evil window.
I really want to thank everyone who has read and posted comments for this story. Getting reviews really spurs me to continue writing, and without reviews my muse goes into hiding.
Thank you pokey, XOXODanSerena, Chairforever, Missscarlettbelle, SkySamuelle and ChuckBassLova for reviewing the last chapter.
I decided that since there are so many people who have alerted this story (35+) but very few that actually review it. Because this is the last chapter, I thought I'd put a challenge out to everyone. I am currently working on a sequel to Try Honesty. When I post it will be dependent on the final reviews for this story. I don't need fabulous reviews; I'm just curious who is actually reading it, and who would want to read more.
0 reviews garbage bin
1-5 reviews within 4 weeks
5-10 reviews within 3 weeks
10-15 reviews within 2 weeks
15+ within 1 week.
Here's the premise of the sequel.
You Can't Forget Your First: No Matter How Hard You Try
Summary: Georgina returns to wreck havoc in the Van der Bass household.
Eric - meets the guy of his dreams, but will he be able to keep his sexuality a secret with Georgina on the prowl.
Serena- feels the pull of her old life. What will she chose: the outrageous and dangerous or the predictable and comforting? (this story excludes the original Georgiana appearance on GG)
Chuck – When Georgina returns she is harbouring more than just revenge for the UES former playboy turned King.
"I remember it differently. You told me that you loved me, and that you always would."
"I was eleven years old and about to get laid for the first time. Even I didn't believe what I was saying."
Georgina was unfazed. "You've kept to it until now."
Chuck shook his head in disbelief. Only Georgina's deranged mind could warp his rampant womanizing into some twisted form of devotion.