A/N: It may seem as if I don't love you, but I do. I really do. It's real life that I don't love all the time.
Extra love goes out to: pLei4fun (you're not going to find out yet, but it's coming! ;), RauhlPrincess (thanks! and the mystery isn't going to be solved in this one, but soon!), xoxo S (yeah, it was a little confusing lol, 1. no, 2. you'll find out soon, and 3. chapter 23 range), anabelle12 (haha they are pretty awful aren't they?), SecretGG (interesting theory...you'll have to wait and see though ;), BekaRoo (you know i love him too much to do anything drastic ;), and MaeveGGfan (thank you so much! that's so sweet! 3)
This one is a bit of a filler, but things should pick back up in the next chapter!
Chapter 29: The Fighter
The fighter goes inside
The doubt is creeping in
He swings with all his might
At all that might have been
And she's in love with him
But lovers don't always win
-"The Fighter" The Fray
Dan Humphrey was, for one of the first times since junior year, completely out of the loop. The completely insane, wouldn't-believe-it-unless-it-was-people-you-knew loop. And he didn't like it, hence the reasoning behind his late night trip to the hospital where Chuck and Blair were supposedly being treated. Supposedly, Dan thought to himself bitterly, because even Rufus hadn't thought to inform Dan of their whereabouts. Not that Chuck and Blair were his friends or anything, but apparently Jenny was there, as were his father and stepmother. And Serena. Dan released a deep sigh and ran a hand through his tousled, dark waves. Serena, whom he hadn't seen since the whole Inside debacle. No doubt she would be flanked protectively by Nate and Eric, but Dan felt he should at least try to sort things out. Not romantically, as he was still seeing Charlie, who was surprisingly unlike her high society cousin, but he felt uncomfortable with the idea of Serena despising him.
The taxi pulled up to the hospital and Dan let out another sigh before squaring his shoulders and signing in to the visitor list. He reached the intensive care unit and felt his eyes widen when he took in his stepmother. He could barely recognize the woman - her clothing was wrinkled and (dare he believe his eyes?) casual, she had massive bags under her makeup-less eyes, and her hair was a blond bird's nest. She was running her hands up and down her yoga pants awkwardly, and though Dan dreaded disturbing her anxious ministrations, she was the only one in sight.
"Lily?" he asked carefully.
"Dan," she sighed, giving him a weary glance and dropping her hands to her sides. "I figured you'd come around eventually."
"Yes, well." Dan cleared his throat and shifted his eyes to the floor. "Chuck and Blair aren't exactly my favorite people, but uh, they are important to other people. That I know," he finished lamely, hoping Lily wouldn't read into his flimsy explanation too much.
"Serena is downstairs with Eric, Jenny, and Nate," Lily said shortly. Her tone was polite, but her blue eyes were cold, and Dan realized that Serena's mother was much more observant than he gave her credit for. "I'm assuming that is why you're here."
"Yes, well," he said again. "My whole family also happens to be here, and besides, I actually do care about what happens to Chuck and Blair."
"You mean so you can write about it in your next novel? It would make the bestseller list for sure."
Dan's head snapped up. "Wha - what?"
"Just go, Dan," Lily said in vexation, rubbing her eyes. "Cafe. Downstairs."
Dan considered arguing against her accusation, but he could see that she was exhausted, and furthermore, he needed to speak to Serena and the others before he lost his nerve. He expected the comment to bother him more than it did, but over the past few weeks, he found himself adjusting to the role his agent, Alessandra, wanted him to play. Brooding author, with eyes as sharp as his wit. As sharp as his tongue. Darker. More intense. Someone who knew how to pull the strings of the players without getting accused of being the puppeteer. Someone with power. And though Dan's book had only just been officially released the previous day, he already knew that he liked having power. Okay, so admittedly, his conversation with Lily hadn't successfully showcased his new attitude, but he was still working on the external exemplification of his internal metamorphosis.
"Dan? What are you doing here?"
Dan recognized Eric's voice and was pulled out of his thoughts.
"Checking on Chuck and Blair's status," he said, his answer much smoother than it had been with Lily. "The news reported that they were in some sort of accident, but Gossip Girl has been shut down, and there haven't been any details."Before Eric could respond, Dan saw someone he didn't think he would have to see and felt his stomach drop in fear, despite the fact that he'd claimed only a second before that she was part of the reason for his visit. Well, not part. One-half, to be exact, as she made up the "Blair" of "Chuck and Blair."
"I didn't realize this hospital had a rodent infestation," she said snidely, clutching her arms around her sides in what Dan presumed was a defensive stance.
"Nice to see you're doing well, Blair," Dan replied with an eye roll.
"Yes, I can tell you were very concerned about me," Blair mocked, taking a seat next to Eric. "But then again, maybe you were, and you already released all of your pent up anxiety through writing the creepy, stalker fiction you call novels."
"For your information, my novel was released -"
"Yesterday, I'm aware," Blair said coldly, narrowing her darker-than-usual eyes. "Rather interesting timing, wouldn't you agree? Within 48 hours of Charlie and Clair's car accident."
"Blair, it's not like that," said Dan. It looked bad, but when Alessandra called about finally putting out his book, it wasn't like he could say no. And yes, the accident was probably put into consideration when she made the decision, but that didn't mean Blair needed to cut down his major accomplishment.
"Humphrey, I don't care what it's like, to be honest. All I want in this point of time is for you to go away so that I don't have to pay an exterminator to come remove you."
"Oh come on, Blair."
"Humphrey," she repeated, her voice shrill. "I've had a very difficult 48 hours, unlike you, so why don't you go home, curl up with your Cabbage Patch doll, and call it a night?"
"Why so bitchy, Blair?" Dan asked, aware that his voice was getting higher and louder as well. "Did Chuck do something to get you all worked up? I swear you two are toxic -"
"Shut up! Don't you dare say a word about him to me!"
"Who, Chuck?" taunted Dan, raising his eyebrows.
"I'm warning you."
"It must have been bad..."
"IT WAS!" she exploded, before hunching her shoulders and settling her face in her hands. "It is," she amended, her voice hardly a whisper. "He - he's bad. In bad shape, I mean, and the blood transfusion...They won't tell me what's happening." Her body began to quake, and Dan nervously looked to the spot where Eric had been sitting, groaning when he saw that it was empty. Angry Blair Waldorf he could deal with, but sad Blair Waldorf? Hardly his forte.
"Blair, I'm really sorry," he mumbled, awkwardly patting one of her arms from across the table.
"Ew, don't infect me with your rabies," she managed to mutter back, swatting away his hand. "And I - I don't want your pity, or anyone else's. I just want - I need him to be okay."
"He will be," Dan replied, not knowing whether his statement was even remotely true, but that's what you were supposed to say in these scenarios, right? Chuck will be all right, Chuck will be fine, Chuck will be okay; everything will be all right and fine and okay. Blair raised her head and narrowed her eyes.
"Don't bullshit me, Humphrey. That's not you."
"You're right," he sighed. "I don't know whether he'll be okay or not. But I do know that you will."
"Not if he isn't." She shook her head, and Dan could see the beginning of tears form in her eyes.
"Even if he isn't," Dan argued. "Look, Blair, I know that for some twisted reason you and Chuck are madly in love, but if he ends up not making it, you're going to keep living. It'll be hard, but you're Blair Waldorf. You're strong enough."
"What if I'm not?" She looked up at him, her lashes dotted with glistening tears.
"You are," he insisted. "You said it yourself, I wouldn't bullshit you."
"Maybe I am," said Blair, so quietly he had to strain to catch her words. "But I want him anyway."
"Anything yet?" Blair asked an intern eagerly, chewing her pinky nail.
"As soon as Dr. Ravindran comes out, which should be just a few minutes, I'm sure that -"
"Here I am!" Dr. Ravindran entered the waiting room, somehow looking as clean and pristine as she had prior to Chuck's blood transfusion. Blair supposed she had a lot of the same white coat.
"And?" asked Lily, her eyes wide in apprehension.
"It went very well," said the doctor with a wide smile. Blair felt a breath rush out of her body, and her back immediately relaxed. "As well as we could have hoped."
"That's wonderful news," Lily said, a smile framing her face as well. "And how's Bart?"
"Oh, he's fine," Dr. Ravindran assured the women. "A little weak, but that's normal after giving blood."
"Blair?" Dr. Ravindran asked, noticing the brunette's silence. "Do you have any specific questions for me?"
"When will he wake up?"
"I figured you'd ask that," said the grinning doctor. "And I have some good news on that front too. Chuck should be up within a few days, if our CT scan can be trusted and his body continues to respond well to the transfused blood."
"I know it hasn't been long, but it feels like years," whispered Blair, absentmindedly rubbing a pale hand over her stomach.
"Well, I'm sure he'll be overjoyed to see you too," answered Dr. Ravindran.
Blair didn't respond, overwhelmed by her conflicting emotions. Of course she was ecstatic that Chuck would be waking soon, and that overcame everything else, but below the surface, she was utterly afraid. She knew Chuck loved her more than anything, but she had no idea how he would react to the news that he would soon have a little boy or girl to love as well. He was only twenty, after all, and she just a few months older at twenty-one. Their lifestyles would have to become radically different. It was a lot to put on someone who had just been in a car accident and almost lost his life. She felt her back tense again and resumed chewing her pinky nail.
"Hey, Jen. Seen Serena anywhere?"
"Nope, sorry," said Jenny, practically ignoring Dan completely as she conversed with Eric and Jonathan, who had just arrived.
"Gee, thanks, sis." He continued to walk until he spotted a flash of gold and heard a loud laugh coming from the corner of the room, and he quickly turned to reach it. "Serena? Nate?"
"Oh, Dan, hey," said Serena, her smile fading but not leaving her face entirely. "How are you? It's been a while."
"Yeah, it has." Dan shrugged and stuffed his hands in his pockets. "I'm pretty good, I guess. I'm enjoying the relaxation while I can before the crazy fame from the book starts."
"Oh right, your book was published yesterday wasn't it?" asked Nate, ignoring the cocky portion of Dan's sentence.
"Yep," Dan answered proudly, puffing out his chest. "I'm officially a published author."
"Congratulations," said Serena, actually meaning it. While she initially despised what Dan did with her character, she now took it as a creative, dramatized magnification of her flaws. It made for a better story than the trite "former bad girl turns good" angle, and she didn't blame him for choosing to make her into what he did. She probably would have done the same to him. The Blair/Clair part was still a little creepy, but that was beside the point.
"Thanks. Mind if I sit?"
"Go ahead." Nate gestured to a seat at their cozy corner table and took a drink of his hot chocolate. Serena then proceeded to grab it and take a sip as well. She'd spilled hers everywhere and was too lazy to get up and order a new one. "Yes, go ahead and drink all of my hot chocolate," said Nate sarcastically, rolling his crystal blue eyes.
"Aw, you're so sweet," Serena answered with a giggle, patting his cheek.
"Seriously, Serena, give it back," laughed Nate, tugging on the cup.
"Well too bad, it's mine now, and -" Serena didn't get the chance to finish her declaration as said hot chocolate flew through the golden couple's hands - right into the lap of Dan Humphrey.
"Ouch!" Dan screeched as the burning liquid seared him.
"Aw, shit, man, I'm really sorry -" Nate began to say, choking down a laugh.
"I'll get some paper towels," offered Serena, also stifling a giggle. "Yikes, it really hit you in the worst place possible." She eyed the growing stain on his khakis and, upon realizing he would look like he'd wet himself, she burst into deep laughter.
"Serena, what the hell?" asked Dan indignantly. "I could use some paper towels here!" He gestured towards his soiled pants, designer-name pants, to be exact, and one of the three pairs Alessandra had purchased for him. Just my luck, he thought. Then again, it was probably fate. Humphreys were just not cut out for wearing Michael Kors khakis. Or Michael Kors anything, really.
"I'm going!" Serena promised, still laughing hysterically. Nate echoed her merry sentiment and watched her, bright-eyed, as she went.
"I'm so glad I can be of service for your entertainment," muttered Dan.
"Come on, lighten up," said Nate, knocking Dan's shoulder lightly. "We can use all the laughs we get here. Serena's been taking everything pretty hard."
"Is she okay though?"
"She will be." Nate's eyes stayed latched onto the woman he loved. "She's stronger than she knows."
24 Hours Later
"How are you feeling, sweetheart?" Eleanor ran a hand through Blair's curls and gave her a small, tight smile. A smile that said she was worried about the answer her daughter would give.
"That's the answer people give when they're not fine," countered Eleanor with concern. "And besides, it's not like you to give one word answers to anything. You're quite the Chatty Cathy, dear."
"And God only knows where I got it from," commented Blair, cracking a slight grin at her mother's reddened cheeks.
"Well, there's nothing wrong with being sociable."
"Of course not, Mother," Blair said, the grin still on her face.
"Your spirits do seem to be up," observed Eleanor. "I'm assuming it was the good news about Chuck?"
"He should be up anytime now." Blair lovingly eyed the sleeping, hospital gown-clad figure of Chuck Bass before returning her gaze to Eleanor's warm eyes.
"We're all looking forward to when he is," Eleanor said genuinely. She had grown quite fond of the young Bass over the years, and though she was initially shocked (and disturbed) when Dorota had initially informed her of "Mr. Chuck and Miss Blair's secret rendezvous with strange animal noise," she now knew that her daughter was meant to be with Chuck. "Are you thirsty?" Eleanor suddenly asked Blair. "I'm parched."
"No, I have tea," said Blair, holding up a cup of Earl Grey.
"All right, well then I'll head down and be back in a bit."
"Okay." Blair's eyes immediately shot back to wear Chuck was lying in his hospital bed, and she scooted her chair over so that she could hold his hand. "I love you," she told him. "But you already know that. There is something you don't know, though, and I'm not sure how you're going to take it." She brushed a few dark strands of hair out of his face and sighed. "This is scary for me, too. I know I have my mom and Serena, Lily, and Eric, but it's you I need. And it's you our baby needs. You're probably going to doubt this at first, but I know you'll be an amazing father, Chuck."
Blair was still for a moment then climbed out of the chair and onto the emptier side of Chuck's bed. They were so close their noses were nearly brushing, and Blair could hear each perfect, even breath that left Chuck's mouth. She closed her eyes, suddenly exhausted, and started humming "La Vie En Rose" and reminiscing on their beautiful night at the New York Public Library, the night that they reconfirmed their love for one another. Blair remembered their promise to find their way back to each other, and knew that she had. She had a thriving campaign with Girls, Inc., a strong social standing in New York society, impressive grades and extracurriculars at Columbia...But most importantly, she was right where she belonged - next to Chuck, the love of her life. And when she first heard his voice, she thought she must be dreaming.
But then her eyes opened and it was real - wonderfully, magically, incredibly real, which made it better than any dream she could have had.
What breaks your bones
Is not the load you're carrying
What breaks you down
Is all in how you carry
Until next time - xoxo