Chuck listened in silent elation as Blair revealed to Dorota that her life changing experience was a kiss from Dan Humphrey. Because it made her realise she wanted to be with him. The love of her life.
His hand shot into his pocket and hastily juggled his uncooperative blackberry. Finally he got a clean grasp and he whipped the thing out to send the quickest text of his life. Ditch Humphrey. I've got it from here was leaping up on Epperley's phone ten seconds later.
He stayed hidden behind the door until Dorota had scurried away, his heart pounding from the confession he'd just heard Blair make. Then he took a deep breath and stepped forward, out into the light. Blair's eyes were attracted to the movement in the mirror and before a heartbeat had passed, their gazes met and locked in the reflection over her shoulder.
"Chuck," his name slipped out of her in disbelieving shock.
It was fate that he'd been there and they both knew it. He confidently approached her from behind, his hands vibrating, trembling with the excitement he couldn't suppress.
"Did you mean it?" he asked, too eager to take care and shield himself emotionally as he stepped up behind her.
His hands were physically trembling as he hesitantly raised them, afraid she would disappear. A scream of relief shot through the connections in his muscle tissue when each of his palms made contact with her elbows and she proved to be solid reality. In the mirror his body now framed hers, Blair and Chuck in utter perfection, and they looked at each other with barely suppressed hope.
"Yes," Blair said quietly, no nonsense about it like there had been for the past six fucking months. A tentatively hopeful smile immediately took hold of her lips, reassuring him of her words and making joy start to physically tingle in the ends of his fingertips.
"You want to be with me?" he confirmed, wishing he didn't sound like a disbelieving five year old.
He couldn't help it – his eyes were lit with irrepressible excitement, his fingers squeezing ecstatically as Blair's head nodded and her soul-deep gaze practically shimmered at him.
He closed his eyes in a moment of utter relief, such as he'd never experienced. His head dropped into the cradle of her neck and pressed a quick, hard kiss. Blair! Fuck. He wanted to be with her but he hadn't predicted how the shuddering wave of need would slam into him like this. He wanted to throw her down and sink his body into her while she clawed the flesh from his bones.
Blair reached up and laid one of her hands over his, her touch calming the gathering storm. When he looked at her again, she was radiating happiness.
"Do you still –?" she began.
He cut her off mid-sentence. Did he still want to be with her? Like there was ever a question!
"Yes. God yes, you don't even have to ask."
His hands slipped around her middle and even as he was pulling her into a hug, Blair was snuggling back into him with such familiarity that his soul flew. Took wings and left it difficult for him to breathe. She closed her beautiful eyes to savour him and so help him, he did the same. Burying his nose into her neck and breathing in the drugging scent of Mademoiselle by Chanel, placing one, two, three short kisses and feeling like a king among savages. Feeling her invite his touch, cover his hands, draw him even more intimately around her and her breathing lose its steady pace.
God how had he survived this long without her?
"I love you."
It was ridiculous to jump to those words so quickly but he couldn't stop them rushing out of his dumbass playboy mouth with her so near and pliant.
Blair looked down to where his hands were easing themselves all the way around her body, until they crossed over her belly and moulded over her hipbones with unrestrained familiarity. When she looked up at him from under her dark lashes, he could almost taste the words in the air.
"I love you too."
The air in the room electrified, a spark passing from molecule to molecule. He could light up five boroughs with the wattage of the smile that spread across his face.
He pressed another hard kiss to the top of her shoulder, then lifted his head with that smile still there.
"Come with me," he said softly, not trusting his voice.
He traced his hand down her toned arm until he covered her hand and their fingers linked wordlessly together. He squeezed tight, relishing, knowing in a few hours their bodies would be locked together like this and the ache under his skin would abate.
Not right now though. He realised he had to wait, had to set things in stone first because as much as he loved it, bedding Blair was not all he wanted. Then he tugged her with a mischievous smile and turned towards the door, urging her to follow.
Blair clutched her overnight bag tight in anticipation and followed eagerly. Her fingers eased around his, rubbing over his long, elegant digits to remember what they felt like since it had been so long. An age, in fact, since she'd linked her fingers through his and restrained his hands against her pillows.
Warm, was the answer. His fingers were piping hot, like he'd been wearing his fur-lined gloves right before they touched.
Their footsteps were quick as Chuck furtively crossed through the bustling hallway and pulled her into another dressing room. As soon as she was in behind him he pushed the door shut and sealed them in together. Blair's eyes were stroking over him eagerly, savouring the view of excited, happy Chuck. She hadn't seen him like this since the last time he was stretched out on her bed and she was lauding over him. She'd missed him completely, and her heart had ached. More so when she heard him professing devotion to Raina. That had been the kickstart in her heart, when she knew he was learning to be a man and it might not come to pass that she was the one who ended up savouring his company for the rest of her life.
Then she kissed Dan and it struck her like a hammer on a cast iron church bell. Reverberating through her body. Second best was not going to cut it for her. Chuck was hers, and there was no point to waiting when she spent all her spare moments wondering what he was doing.
She squeezed his fingers, savouring their tangible warmth then looked up into the familiar brown eyes flecked with hints of precious gold.
His eyes quirked and she turned, following his meaningful gaze to the main object in the room they now occupied – a mannequin draped in exquisite blue fabric. She was pulled out of her dazed love for him by recognition of the cut and design from a little girl's fantasy.
"That looks just like the dress Princess Diana wore the day after her wedding," Blair felt like a princess herself as the gown flowed perfectly from its dress-form before her.
She turned and eyed Chuck, her gaze confirming for her that yes, he was actually dressed like a dashing Prince Charming. It wasn't just her furtive imagination bestowing regality upon him. He looked perfect, good enough to partner a princess and rule an empire without a hint of hesitance. But surely this dress wasn't actually Diana's?
"It is," he said quickly.
Her eyes widened and her head pulled back in shock. She turned back to the dress as Chuck's hands sought her hips out again and she was quickly captured.
"You wouldn't answer my calls or texts," he laid out his childish plan sheepishly. Then he nipped at her earlobe, after all he was Chuck Bass, embodiment of the word rascal. "I wanted to ask if you'd be in the photo with me."
She logically extrapolated what was going on around them. New York's absolute elite bedecked in jewels and finery befitting monarchs that rule. Chuck dressed like a prince among men.
She turned her wide, disbelieving eyes onto the dress of the people's Princess. "In that?!"
It couldn't be true.
"Yes," Chuck succinctly confirmed. The heat of his body pressed wantonly against her back and she could feel, even through his expensive shirt, the way his heart was pounding. "They're photographing royalty. You should be wearing a princess's gown."
Her wide eyes turned to him as she saw that dark, haunting seriousness and his childish vulnerability all wrapped up together in the confusing, complicated package that she loved. His hands trailed over her shoulders and fell away as she tentatively left his embrace, hesitantly reaching out to run her hand over the sculpted fabric which had been perfectly preserved.
She wanted to, it was almost painful to admit to herself how much she wanted to. After kissing Dan and feeling nothing at all, the realisation that she couldn't stand to be away from Chuck a second later had taken days to coalesce into a coherent thought. But once it had, here at the shoot mere hours ago watching the families around her coagulate together, she could barely wait to see him. To tell him she was ready for their forever to start now.
But was this too much, too soon, for him?
"Serena and Lily are getting ready in the other room," she shook her head. "You should be in their shoot, this is about family."
"We belong together. You're my family Blair. I want to be with you."
When he said it like that, so simply, so naively, it seemed to all just click into place. They may have been messing their relationship up for going on four years now, but she was Blair. And he was Chuck. And they were each other's family. There was no bond stronger than the one that ran between them.
She fingered one of the jewels and realised this was a piece of history. Priceless. It didn't just appear out of thin air at the snap of his fingers. He'd gone out and found it. Sourced it. Brought it here for her to wear in this photoshoot, today. She turned and looked at him slyly, eyed the prince's sash of tiny pintucks pressed into his well-tailored jacket and felt her body tauten in eager anticipation.
"Well an Emperor does need an Empress," she conceded, turning to him with a wily smile on her features.
His face lit up again. He swooped his head down and captured her lips, kissing her with hot, Chuck Bass passion. She sucked in a sharp breath and threaded her fingers up into his hair, tugging him into her as their lips met hotly. Steamy, sweet kisses passed between them as she lifted up into his arms and he dropped his head lower, his hands tugging her ultra close.
His lips parted and before a heartbeat had passed her knowing tongue was slipping into his bow shaped mouth. His breathing was ragged and hers was no more than a series of little gasps strung together as they hungrily tasted. His tongue thrusting into her mouth seconds later in retaliation and revelling as they reunited.
Time passed outside the room but not within as they moved from sweet kisses to heavy petting. Her fingers fisting possessively in his hair. His palm pressing passionately at her back. Only Epperley knocking on the door and calling out a ten minute warning interrupted. Blair wrenched back, barely remembering where she was beyond the intoxicating taste of her man in her mouth and his body in her hands.
Their dark gazes met, eyes sparkling with naughty mischief and utter happiness that neither wanted to admit was actually unshed tears.
"Be my family," he breathily begged her.
Blair's head bounced up and down eagerly. He spun her in his arms so she faced the gown again. Then his lips assaulted her collarbone briefly, their bodies swaying gently from side to side.
"Send Dorota in," she breathily ordered, leaning her head to the side.
He placed two more hard kisses on her elongated neck, then forced himself to leave her creamy skin and step away.
"I'll be waiting for you," he promised, his tone laced with anticipation.
Blair sent him a sultry, lust-filled glance over her shoulder. It said more than any words could.
He slipped out the door, closing it behind him with a soft click. He shot a triumphant smile at a grinning Epperley, then zeroed in on where Dorota was eying him warily from across the bustling mansion. He strode across the marble floors with purpose.
"I'm going to do everything in my power to make her happy," he leapt right into it, knowing that anything less would not earn him the maid's cooperation.
"That sound like last year," Dorota accused. "What different this time?" she demanded to know before she became an accomplice in his quest to reclaim Blair's heart.
"I almost died," he pointed out. "I had two girlfriends who suited me perfectly. And I still love Blair. All I want, is Blair," he was honest, and truthful, and it earned him Dorota's cooperation.
She eyed him for one more moment and then lifted her finger.
"You hurt her again and police won't find body," she warned.
He grabbed her shoulders and turned her towards Blair's dressing room. "And I'm sure she'd help you dispose of my corpse," he acquiesced to her threat. "But right now she has nine minutes to slip into her dress and come out looking like the Queen she is," he forced her shoulders to weave through the bustling activity until they were outside the dressing room. "She rules beside me." He opened the door and saw that both the dress and Blair had slipped behind a changing screen. "Make her feel like it," he grinned.
The nervous drumming of Chuck's fingers against the mantle piece was making the anxiety of his waiting obvious to everyone. They were holding light meters near his face and clicking to test levels. He didn't like it. He felt incomplete without her here.
Nervous that she might have changed her mind and disappeared. After all, he hadn't seen her in eight minutes now. His princess. His queen.
She emerged and he stood to attention, his back straightening.
She looked spectacular. Curvy. Feminine. Utterly confident and powerful. She shooed away Dorota's nervous fluttering final adjustments and self-assuredly swept towards him. He was in awe as he surveyed her, wantonly tracing the dark curl of her hair swept over one shoulder and trailing down the side of her throat. When he reached the tucked in ends and landed on the gentle swell of her breasts, his mouth watered in hunger.
It had been creeping up on him all day but it suddenly slammed him sideways – he wanted her. His pulse was racing and he fought to focus, found himself taking deep breaths as he struggled to catch her delicate scent on the air. His covetous gaze flew up to her deep brown eyes, which were dancing in delight at his uncontrolled reaction. He smirked back, holding still as she strode into his physical space and smiled knowingly.
"Magnificent" the way he was devouring her, eying her neck and chest and hips and body said it all but he involuntarily bit his lip and Blair had more than an idea of what he was talking about. He stood utterly still as her hands lifted and began straightening his collar in such a wholly familiar, domestic gesture.
"It does fit perfectly," she conceded, holding back on him.
He slipped an arm around her tiny waist and yanked hard until they were pressed chest to chest.
"It fits like a glove," he corrected, eyes boring into hers intensely.
Her hands continued, pretending to be unaffected until his lapels were settled to her liking. Then she pressed back, dramatically connecting with his chest. "You're sure?" she checked as the bright lights of cameras began flashing around them. Solidifying their union for the world to soon see.
"Since I was sixteen," he reassured her.
They didn't kiss. He wanted to, wanted to ravish her there and then. And the way her eyes flared it was all he could do to keep from grabbing her mouth with his, there and then. But what he did with Blair wasn't a performance, it was for the sanctity of behind closed doors, where only she could judge him.
Instead, he traced his eyes over her plump pink lips, hungrily remembering how they had moved over his only minutes before. He felt every movement of the tip of her finger while it traced the letters BW in smooth calligraphy over his heart.
At the photographer's behest they reluctantly pulled apart, standing side by side in their allotted pose. She folded her hands demurely in front of her. He touched his hand to the mantle behind them. For a moment he was distracted again by her nearness and lifted Blair's hand in his, bent his head in supplication and kissed his princess's knuckles. He couldn't look at the camera, only Blair, like the completely smitten Manhattan prince that he was.
The dark opulence of the room around them took on a whole new life as Blair turned her regal gaze on him and her happiness lit the antique woods and richly coloured furnishings like no false white flash could.
Blair trustingly placed her hand in his and stepped out of the limo. The smile on her face faltered as she looked at the building in front of them.
"I thought we'd have dinner," he clarified, reading the confusion between her eyebrows.
They weren't at her apartment and they weren't at the Empire, or any other hotel on Manhattan for that matter. They weren't kicking off their evening of debauchery just yet. He needed to sit with her first. Take a deep breath, talk to her for a little while, and make sure she still wanted to be with him.
Blair's arm slipped around his back and she huffed. "Who are you and what did you do with Chuck Bass?" the gentle tease demanded.
He laughed quietly, slid his own arm around her and together they walked beneath the portico, letting the doorman usher them into a waiting elevator that slowly ascended to the top floor. He leaned back against the elevator wall and drew Blair into a loose embrace.
"Chuck Bass is still here," he assured her. "Though being without Blair Waldorf for months on end does not agree with him," his eyes narrowed pointedly, making her laugh lightly in response.
He inclined his head, letting her reach up into the toes of her shoes so she was tall enough to kiss the tip of his nose.
"You didn't want to go straight home?" she wheedled as the floors quietly passed by. "Reunite with a bacchanalia of debauchery? After all, we did miss Valentine's Day."
"Which I will make up to you later," he assured, stroking his hands along the flare of her hips and revelling as her lips parted, then her soft body arched into him.
"No," he countered, his features becoming more serious. "Later tonight you'll let me eak out four months worth of pleasure on your body," Blair shivered beneath his hands in anticipation "but first I need to talk to you."
Blair had been looking at him drowsily, weaving closer to his lips. But at his words she pulled back abruptly and looked very suspicious.
"You are finishing the course of penicillin before you come anywhere near me. If you slept with less sluts STIs wouldn't be an issue."
"Blair," he genuinely laughed, so glad to have her back with him. No one else was as brutally harsh as she could be. He moved in to kiss her completely lovable lips, only to have her pull back and push her halting finger against them.
"As if Bass!" she deterred him pointedly.
"I don't have an STI," he promised, lifting a challenging eyebrow and letting his gaze stroke over her lewdly. Oh no, nothing was keeping them from rejoining their bodies later on tonight, nothing was keeping his tongue from running all over her beautiful flesh and feeling her squirm.
Her wary gaze said she didn't believe he was disease-free for even a second. His eyes darted away, trying to think of the best way to say this. "It's about my father."
The elevator doors binged and then slid open the moment those words came out. He had enough time to see her confusion but nothing more as they straightened up and ordered themselves.
"Ms. Waldorf, Mr. Bass, this way please," their waiter greeted them.
They were led to a semi-private booth beside the plate-glass windows, their city beneath as the sun slowly sank into the horizon and lights began to twinkle.
"White wine. Now," Blair ordered the waiter as she slid onto the leather seat.
The man didn't bother to ask for id, only responded with "any preference for vintage? Label?"
"No," Blair ground out. "Only speed."
He turned to look at Chuck expectantly, waiting for his order.
"You should fill the lady's order before she emasculates us both," Chuck offered a piece of advice instead.
The waiter's eyes widened and he scurried away. Chuck lowered himself into the booth and slid along the seat until he was at her side.
"Tell me, before I make it worse in my head" she demanded, not even seeming to notice as he wound his arm around her bare shoulders.
They faced each other head on. When he didn't begin explaining fast enough, she started trying to guess.
"He left another phoney clause in his will they only just discovered. Or he's not really your father. Or you have a blood sibling. An older one, one who is trying to cheat you out of your legacy."
He chuckled, shaking his head even as he laughed softly.
"Nothing like that my love," he assured her. "And I do want to discuss our legacy," he leaned forward to kiss her bare, creamy shoulder meaningfully.
She gasped softly and sweet mercy there was nothing like really being with Blair. She trembled slightly, a shiver of anticipation but still felt so content and right in his arms. He knew the casual mention of their future sent the same excited tingle down her spine that it did down his.
"It needs to be better than what he left me." He stared into her worried, on-edge gaze, hoping and yet knowing that she would still be here after he'd said the horrible words.
"Blair," he delayed, steadying himself by taking refuge in the comforting familiarity of her name. "He killed someone."
"White wine for the lady?" their server returned.
Blair's eyes were wide in disbelief as she studied her partner. At the white-tuxedo clad waiter's interruption she wrenched her gaze away and practically tore the glass from his hand.
"Keep them coming," Chuck advised with a polite smile as she took a long, desperate gulp.
Two menus were placed on the table and he watched the waiter walk away, making sure they were alone again. Once it was just the two of them in the secluded privacy of their booth, he squeezed her arm gently, prompting her to say something. She stared off into the distance, then took another too-long sip from her drink.
"Blair?" he quietly prodded, turning his body into her and dropping his free hand beneath the table until it rested on her thigh.
She put the drink down and finally turned her disbelieving gaze to him. Well at least it was something.
"He killed someone?" she reiterated in a disbelieving hiss.
Chuck nodded, searching her face anxiously. Could she still be with the son of a killer?
"How do you know?" her gaze flicked away to make sure there weren't any eavesdroppers, then turned back to him, agitated.
Her hand came up to cup his cheek and he closed his eyes, letting himself take strength from that touch. As long as Blair wasn't abandoning him, he felt like he could somehow get through this.
"Russell Thorpe told me the other night, after my party. It's why I was trying to get in to see you so late."
At the mention of his father's business rival Blair closed her eyes and pressed their foreheads together, a show of strength and solidarity. Her hand dropped beneath the table too and she covered his, squeezing reassuringly. He heard her audible sigh of relief, as if he'd fallen for some huge hoax and she would set him to rights.
"I know we haven't been close over the past few months but didn't Russell Thorpe hate your father? I don't think we can trust the man who has spent the last few months trying to ruin BI."
We. He liked her use of the word 'We'. 'We' can't trust him.
"He has evidence," Chuck confessed quietly. "Security camera footage."
Blair pulled back, blinked a few times and studied him as if she was trying to assess the validity of that statement. While she processed the information she turned away, picking up her menu and perusing it interestedly.
He followed suit, giving her time to digest what he'd just told her.
She was still reading when, without looking up, she asked "Is he blackmailing you?"
"Yes," he was no-nonsense about it.
Her menu got set down and she looked at him again. He liked her looking at him. He liked no pretending, no smoke screens, no allusions, just an honest, no holds-barred soul-baring conversation. Blair was the only person he could tolerate those with and it had been over a year since they'd had one.
"Are you ready to order?"
She was. He picked the first special the waiter mentioned just so they'd be left alone. The man in resplendent black and his woman bedecked in the dark blue of past lineages sat silently, surveying the real-estate jewels in their glittering empire tightly packed into the island before them.
"Blair," he pleaded softly, shifting close again.
"Shhh," she hushed.
He shut up. She was the love his life and if she needed more time to ponder this he would wait, but he also needed her input. When she was silent for more than a minute he cheekily enquired "anything yet?"
"Shhh. I'm thinking," she ordered.
She was looking out over buildings slowly lighting up as people arrived home from work to greet their loved ones and silently wondering what the hell Bart Bass's problem had been. And how lucky she was that out of the ashes of his acidic heart this amazing man had finally managed to start growing.
Finally she turned back to study him, the love of her life, who looked very worried as he waited on tenterhooks for her reaction.
"You don't deal well with blackmail," she decreed.
"Luckily he doesn't know me at all," Chuck looked down, picked up her hand and then lifted it to his lips. "Otherwise he'd realise my entire future lies in this dainty palm." He kissed the back of her knuckles. "Not on an old video."
Blair leaned forward and took his lips for herself. They shared a gentle, chaste kiss, no movement just a touch. But it reassured Chuck to no end and she literally watched him sag in relief.
Then the touching started. He began needlessly brushing her long curled hair from one bare shoulder to the other.
"A throne is always going to have pretenders," she finally decided, almost as though she were a ruler handing down her verdict. "You have to be prepared to go to war on foreign soil. Tell me my love," she ran her finger down the strong, defined edge of his jaw. "Where is Raina tonight?"
She was testing him and he knew it.
"Keeping Nate's bed warm with the knife they plunged into my back?" he guessed, telling her everything she needed to know.
"Ouch," Blair studied his familiar features, trying to see if having his girlfriend stolen was hurting his masculine pride.
Chuck smirked, leaning forward conspiratorially. "Turnabout's fair play," he brushed his nose over hers, tilting his head to the side. "I stole you from him," he pointed out the much more important piece of romantic backstabbing between he and his best friend. He weaved back the other way, his breath passing over her face gently "And I definitely came away with the prize."
Their mouths touched then, Blair and Chuck, passion and fire. Though secluded, they were in public and the tone was kept soft and gentle. Lips only. Still…
"Maybe we can use that to our advantage. A counter strike, if you will."
Her eyes blazed with planning, and mischief, and his pulse rate jumped excitedly.
"Such fighting words from my warrior Queen," he was suitably impressed.
"Queens command armies, lead minions into battle. They're descended from generations of winners, war is their specialty. In my case it's legal warfare, but the comparison stands."
"Mmmm," he leaned into her neck and began gently nibbling. "I'm already lifting my sword to follow you."
She giggled privately, turning into him eagerly as a plan began to form in her devious mind.
The proofs arrived a few days later and he grinned as he surveyed them over the top of his morning coffee. The fact that they'd come to the Waldorf penthouse and not the Empire said it all.
He'd ignored Dorota's attempt to secretively peer over his shoulder and sauntered back up to the bedroom where the lady of the house liked to sleep much later than he did.
His first action was to push open the blinds, which really didn't earn him any brownie points.
"Go away Dorota," she decreed. "I need my beauty sleep."
"Not Dorota," he corrected, watching in amusement as her cute features immediately drew into a scowl. "And I have a surprise for you."
Her nose re-emerged from where it was just sinking beneath the heavy covers.
"Surprise?" She sat up and pushed her mask off her face. "What surprise?"
He set his coffee down and fell onto the bed beside her, propping himself up against the bed head. He handed the sheets to her and smirked, already anticipating how pleased she'd be.
"Kate Middleton has nothing on you," he pressed a heavy kiss to her cheek.
"Oh," Blair's mouth became the cutest little 'o' as she surveyed the outcome of their shoot.
"Happy?" he asked, although he really didn't need to ask the question because he knew Blair, and he knew that every one of these was a winner. Her looking beautiful in absolutely every shot with him by her side, utterly entranced.
Her hand reached up and distractedly stroked his face, even as she was looking at the proofs. "We do look good together, don't we?" she conceitedly admired. Then her tone became quietly vulnerable as she said "you look – dashing." Her eyes turned to him and he was surprised to see tears. "Prince Charming, even," she admitted.
"How could I not? When a princess is beside me?" No more words came to him, there was nothing he could say. So he did what he did best, leaned over and kissed her, gently, passionately, lovingly.