All Roads Lead Back

It happened when he wasn't looking. All roads, paved by all the massively intrusive players in his absurdly predictable life, converged into one that led back to her. His gaze switched incredulously from the girl that brought him the most miserable hours of his existence to the man who nodded behind her in encouragement. Amidst the familiar noise of clinking glasses and ivory dies, and the cool calming breeze from the shuffle of card decks, Chuck's view of his own future narrowed sharply to reveal something he had known for some time, a truth that did not feel welcome right at that very moment while the massive treachery of his father's verbal dagger still stuck to his gut and his own self-belief still trickled out in little spurts.

His vision of the future stood in front of him, big brown eyes open wide belying a little girl even though that red fuck-me dress and her upswept hair helped her pretend she was a lady.

"You're it," he murmured, and somehow that realization of defeat brought some brightness and hope in her, and he acknowledged it sounded like an affirmation of the fact that she just went all in with money she would not even have had he not sacrificed his own credibility by throwing all his entire liquid assets at the Prince of Monaco. She was betting with his own money, feeli like a brazen, courageous woman doing so, and as ridiculous as it seemed in his head he could not bear to call her out in it.

After all, she really only ever wagered and placed himself at stake. When she put herself out there, it was always his heart on the line because they both knew despite the way he ran around he was always going to end up with her.

All roads fucking led up to her.

Blair let out a squeal of relief, and he had to remember it hadn't been a week since she was rejecting him and dumpster-diving in Brooklyn when she launched herself into his arms and her bare arms wrapped themselves around him, tight around his back imprisoning him in marvelous fragrance that brought home memories of every single moment he was happy these past few years. She buried her face in his neck, and her little cold nose nudged the skin over his pulse point and it was so gloriously innocent and deliciously sensual he welcomed the devil back into his life.

"No more running," she murmured, the very words making him harder, lengthening him, and he swore she knew because he felt against her neck how her lips curved in satisfaction.

This was how it was going to be from now on.

"Jack," Chuck spat from over Blair's shoulder. His uncle had the self-satisfied smirk of accomplishment and Chuck wondered what the hell kind of world this was when Jack appeared supportive that his nephew was in the arms of the girl he fucked while Chuck was out of his mind, then asked to fuck again the day the whole world went to hell. "Can I speak to Jack in private?"

And graciously, like she had nothing to worry about- and she was smart enough to realize that with the way his crotch was thrusting up against her in that embrace-Blair slid away. He could not help it that he turned his face just slightly and his lips brushed against her cheek. Before they separated she spoke into his ear, her warm breath doing funny things to the hair on his neck, "We'll get it all back, Chuck," and promised, "Everything you worked hard for will be yours. I have a plan."

She was so massively talented, with an entire lifetime of experience in getting what she wanted, that she just about sealed the deal.

When they turned back to the table, Chuck nodded at the dealer and watched the cards land on the table.

"Would you look at that," Chuck said. "You won."

She grinned, then shrugged a shoulder. "Did you ever have any doubt?"

The dealer provided unimportant instructions as Blair stood to excuse herself and give him the time with Jack he needed-something about her winnings being available in the office. Chuck glanced back and for the first time recognized the enormity of it. It was enough to make a dent out of the amount he handed to Louis.

He watch her ago, her pert back decent and enticing in that figure hugger of a dress.

"You asshole," was the first words out of his mouth when he turned back to Jack.

"Don't tell me you're not itching to get her back upstairs and catch up," his uncle dared, fully intending the tone to speak more than the words did.

"That's different and you know it. I needed to clear my head to get back what's mine."

Jack shook his head. "To get back what's yours, you need to step back and plot this out from every angle, get your hands dirty, and be willing to make sacrifices. You can't find anyone else willing to get his hands as disgusting as I am..."

"I don't deny that," Chuck allowed.

"Or as good as she is in stepping out of the line of fire and calculating a takedown as she is," Jack continued. "So be the one to sacrifice your pride and find it in you to give her what she wants so she'll help us with no questions asked. I'm sure it's not too big a deal to give her what she wants. You looked like your little head was leading you right back in the sack."

"She wants a life."

"And she doesn't realize that she blew all chances of a happy ever after with you after that family of circus performers and the son of Lily's housewife," Jack continued. "It's not your place to correct the assumption. You didn't put it in her head. She did. For now, you need her. Your father is never going to take you seriously while you have hanging on your arm, and you need your dad to underestimate you. That is how you bring down Goliath."

Chuck made a face. "Biblical references, really, Jack? If you were going to use one, shouldn't it really be the one where the father was sacrificing his son on the altar."

Even though she did not call his name, Chuck felt the hair on his nape stand. He turned, and found her immediately in that red dress making her way back towards them. Jack stood. "Now that we're clear, I'll leave you to your own devices tonight. I envy the next few hours of your life."

Chuck watched as she realized he had spotted her, and her shiny red lips curved come hither. Chuck rose. From behind him, Jack leaned and whispered into his ear, "Go on, Chuck. Devour the apple that got you kicked out of paradise. They say it was sweet, and from firsthand experience I can say it was enough that you couldn't regret losing out on billions for a bite."

"Slither away and find your entertainment for tonight, Jack."

Chuck Made his way towards her and met her halfway down the middle. They stood at the center of the casino floor and Blair raised an arm, then extended her hand out to him. She smiled and waited. "I presume you have accommodations. I can book us a room if you've taken a turn in poverty and are bunking with Jack." With a flirtatious grin, she continued, "It seems I just experienced a windfall. I went all in and won."

"Well, never let it be said that Chuck Bass doesn't take a bet seriously," he said. All she knew was she went all in, and he was speechless. That was no way to remember the night. His hand reached into his pocket and grasped at the box that he kept to taunt himself. He went down on one knee in front of her, and he was grateful for the diligence of the hotel that the casino floor was clean enough to eat off of. Her gasp rivaled that of the collective one around them as nearby patrons saw the gesture.

Tears gathered in her eyes before he even spoke.

"Three years, and this ring's traveled across multiple countries trying to make its way to your finger, Blair," he started, and that alone brought a few of her tears down her cheeks. Chuck recognized the enormity of The statement as well, and forced his words out of his throat. "Will you be so kind as to give this ring the relief it deserves and agree tonight that what we all know is going to happen will happen?"

Her hands covered her mouth, and then she choked, "You should ask the question," she prompted. "I've dreamed of this too long, too many times, to get cheated out of the question."

And he went with the trite and tested, "Will you marry me, Blair?"

"Yes!" she declared. And then she flung herself at him, sat on his one bent knee, and he swore some of her hair scratched his eye because he teared up the exact moment he was sliding that ring into her finger.

He looked up when flashes of light caught his attention and noticed the photographers all around him. He had been recognized and so had she. It was far easier for paparazzi to miss him outside New York City, but certainly the last year where Blair graced covers on the arm of a prince and the subsequent scandalous divorce made her an easy target. When someone yelled out an ill-chosen yet believable Mrs Grimaldi to call her attention, Chuck hastened to help her up and rise himself.

The use of the name brought even more attention to the two of them, and so Chuck wrapped an arm aroud her shoulders and led her through the throng. Among the many heads before them he caught a glimpse of Jack, who looked on and nodded with approval.

Thankfully enough, the moment they reached the guest elevators the hotel guards were strict and direct. They waved away the photographers and the hotel manager apologetically held open a private lift for them. Chuck and Blair stumbled into one and as the doors closed and drenched them in silence Chuck watched her glance down and marvel at the clear diamond on her finger.

She looked up at him. "I don't have any words."

The ring had been held by so many hands, been held up to the light and appraised many times afterit had been sold, stolen, then found again. "That diamond has never shone brighter than right now, on your finger, under these fluorescents."

And she caught him off guard, because all she said in response was an honest, straightforward, "I love you."

He was grateful when the elevator doors opened to their floor. Chuck entered the code for the second layer of the doors and when they opened to reveal the room, Blair hurried inside and turned to him. "You're in this for the long run, right? Just like I am."

"You've got my ring on your finger," was his answer, and she took it as a positive.

He took her hand and looked down at the ring, then tugged firmly and enjoyed the sound of her catching her breath. She landed firmly against his chest. Right there, where he needed her. Chuck blocked away Jack's congratulatory nod still in the back of his mind's eye. Since he was sixteen years old he knew he would eventually get here, and the roads diverged and twisted and turned but he was right here.

"Blair," he started, and he wanted to tell her so many things about the past year, but she was there and she knew it all, and even if he said anything the roads were the roads and the future was set. He hurt her, and she hurt him, but all roads led back to each other-no questions asked.

"Yes?" she prompted.

And he took another route. "I want to marry you in the morning."

"Of course," she answered. She placed a kiss on his lips and Chuck knew the pieces would fall together so wonderfully aligned.

This was going to be the perfect crime.

But that was alright. All roads would lead them back to each other.

Tbc