Title: Quand Il Pleut
Fandom: Gossip Girl
Characters/Pairing: Dan Humphrey/Blair Waldorf
Word Count: 2776
Disclaimer: Nothing you recognize belongs to me. They belong to the creators of Gossip Girl and anyone else who may own the rights to them.
Spoilers/Warnings: Nothing specific that I know of.
Summary: Dan fancies himself as a modern day Thoreau, and decides to go camping one weekend to work on his writer's block. He takes a somewhat reluctant Blair along for the trip. Things do not go entirely as planned.
Author's Note: Written for vacationthon 2012, for flipflop_diva. Title is French for "When it Rains." Enjoy!
"I'm not talking to you for the rest of the trip, Humphrey," Blair said, crossing her arms and turning away from him. She hadn't even wanted to take this trip in the first place, but, for some bizarre reason that she couldn't explain to herself even if she wanted to, she had caved in. And now - now she was stranded in the middle of nowhere, and she was cold, wet and angry.
A cold, wet, and angry Blair would be enough to send most people scurrying to the other side of the city on most days.
Dan, on the other hand, was infuriatingly not like most people. He was resolute and steadfast in staying right where he was, right where he was a part of her life and this stupid, idiotic "vacation" that was his idea in the first place.
A true vacation was spoiling yourself with all the finest things - shopping at the finest boutiques in Paris, lazing on the beach at St. Tropez, a weekend in the Hamptons. A true vacation meant doing things that you couldn't do at home, but would want to do anyway. Even if it meant finding some cute little hidden treasure of a bakery that served high-quality pastries of all varieties. Or something like that.
Not - not this. This was not a vacation. This was nothing short of a nightmare.
How had this even started in the first place? Oh, that's right. It was all Dan's idea, some sort of grand wilderness quest to help him. She was just the unlucky tagalong in his master scheme.
He looked up at her and rested his hands on his laptop keyboard, an amused smile flickering across his face. "Have you ever been camping before?" he asked her.
What kind of a question was that? Camping was something that she only saw talked about in movies or in books, or the occasional discussion of summer camp experiences amongst some of her other classmates. It wasn't something that had ever played a part in her life story, and it wasn't something she was itching to add anytime soon."What kind of a question is that?" She echoed her previous thoughts out loud; there was nothing to hide there. She could be transparent when she wanted to be.
"They say that getting back to nature can help with writer's block," Dan said, "look at Thoreau and Walden. It's considered a masterpiece of American literature, and he wrote it in a cabin in the woods. Maybe I need a change of pace. Become a modern-day version of him."
"Cabin. Humphrey. Cabin. There's a difference between a nice wooden cabin and some vinyl pup tent with holes in the side." Not that either sounded overly appealing, if she was honest with herself, "And why would you want me with you, if you're trying to get over writer's block? It took Thoreau over two years to write that book."
"Let's take it one weekend at a I'm not even going to dignify your other question with an answer, because you know exactly why you're invited."
She did. Not that it made her any happier, but she did know why. "Starting?" She had to figure out if she had anything planned, or if she could create a plan from thin air. It wasn't that she didn't want to support Dan - he was a fantastic writer, and she would love to read whatever he wrote during his crazy nature excursion. She just wasn't sure if she wanted anything to do with actually being out there alongside him.
"Next Friday? You already told me that your calendar is free that whole weekend, so don't even try to make something up." He glanced over at her as his fingers pecked away at the keys. "I'm onto you and your shenanigans, Waldorf."
Damn it. He was good. Too good. He could see right through her and play the trump card she should have never given him in the first place.
She pouted and sat down next to him, placing her hand on top of his as it glided across the keyboard, formulating the words to his next best-seller. She raised an eyebrow as she nodded a silent acquiescence. There would be some form of payback later - of course there would be. She'd just have to decide what and when and how.
Maybe it would be nice to get away, though. She'd never admit it, but she could use a little time without having to look behind her, in case Chuck was still lurking, waiting for the pounce.
She turned back around, and saw Dan lying there inside his sleeping bag - she could not tell if he was asleep or awake, but she operated on the assumption that he was asleep - and his notebook was laying on top of the tarps that covered the tent floorto protect them from whatever unknown creepy-crawlies lurked around here with a developed taste for fine and rarefied city blood. Instead of the hastily scrawled letters that she had become accustomed to seeing as she peeked over his shoulder - no matter how fast his pen flew across the page, it could not make up for the speed of his thoughts - she saw carefully scripted block letters forming the words. She skimmed over the page, allowing herself to trace the loops of the B in Blair. It wasn't some middle school girl's notebook with "Dan + Blair = true luv" scrawled in the margins - back in the day, hers had professed eternal devotion to Justin Timberlake, for she had once been young and naïve too - but the sentiments ran roughly the same.
It was clear that what he had written on this page was not a part of his novellathat he had been working on. That much, she could tell, before she squinted closer at the lines and began to read.
The façade that Blair puts forward for the world to view is not the same Blair that those privileged enough to know her - and know her well - get the honor of seeing. The Blair the world sees has removed herself from the equation, sitting on a throne far above the clouds; she fashions herself as a queen - Queen of the Upper East Side. Those who know her, though, see the humanized version of her. Her tiara sits askew, but it stays on all the same. She lets her emotions show, if only for a moment.
She has the immense capability and capacity to both love and be loved, and it's not a difficult proposition at all for anyone to do either.
She set down the notebook and let out an audible sigh. Why was she mad at him, in the first place? It wasn't even that they were camping. Not anymore. And then she remembered, as a cold shiver wracked through her body and she sniffled. After all, she was still cold and wet, even if her anger was melting away from her in waves.
"You've never tried a s'more?" Dan asked, poking a marshmallow onto her stick. "They were one of my father's favorite rainy day treats when Jenny and I were growing up."
"You built a campfire in the middle of your apartment? Come to think of it, that would explain a lot." Blair guided her marshmallow with due precision over to the fire, allowing it to rest just above the licks and jumps of the shooting flames. This wasn't her ideal way of spending an evening. Even if she wanted to be around fire, she could always put out a few candlesticks and have a romantic evening with Dan that way. Her hair was pinned up away from her face, and she had spent most of the day reading Nana - en français, of course - while Dan scribbled away in his notebook. And now, now that it was nightfall and there were shooting stars criss-crossing the sky, they could finally have a moment to be just them. With marshmallows.
Dan laughed as he tapped Blair's stick downward, and she let out a slight yelp of surprise. "You're never going to roast your marshmallow if you just let it sit there like that and give it a nice tan. You have to put it in the fire. Let it burn a little." He paused, and readjusted his stick accordingly. "And it was in the microwave. So not the same thing as a real one, though."
She nodded. Sometimes it was easy to forget that they had all been children once.
When she took it out of the fire a minute or two later - not quite the burn that Dan had been looking for, but not the delicate tan that she desired - and sandwiched it between the graham crackers and chocolate that he had dutifully provided for her, she took a dainty nibble out of one side. Just graham cracker. Another bite. More graham cracker, with the faintest hint of chocolate. "Humphrey, is there actually marshmallow in here, or am I reliving a suburban preschooler's snack time? I think that would be my hell."
"There's marshmallow. Just you wait."
One more bite, larger this time - and there it was, a gooey explosion of marshmallow and melted chocolate, with crumbles of graham cracker. She brushed her lips with the back of her hand and wiped her hand with a towel sitting nearby. "That was -" Her tongue darted out to clear away any leftover remnants. "In a strange way, not entirely terrible."
"Coming from you, that's a five star review with two thumbs way, way up."
"Not quite a Michelin star, though."
"If you had only left off the 'not entirely.' Then Humphrey's S'mores would have gotten one, and I would be lauded as an upstart visionary in the field of comfort food kitsch cuisine, and I could have a career as something besides an author who needs to leave the city in order to write about it." He leaned over and kissed her; she could still taste the lingering taste of chocolate on his lips, and she found herself smiling. It was ridiculous, she knew, but despite all of her initial doubts? She was actually kind of having fun, despite herself. If nothing else, she could finish a book she had been meaning to finish for a while, now.
Famous last words.
And then, it all fell apart, with a crack of thunder sounding ominously across the sky. She turned to Dan, a wild look in her eyes. "You didn't look at the weather forecast?"
"It was supposed to be sunny and mild all weekend!" he protested. "Maybe a cloud or two, but I specifically checked for no rain."
She dove back inside the tent, before she could waste another moment in what she was sure was going to be a torrential downpour of Biblical proportions. It would have to be Humphrey that would have to see her looking like a drowned rat - of course it would be - there'd be precious few others that would be able to see the sight and live out the rest of their lives with the knowledge. And if he didn't watch it, he wouldn't be one of the lucky ones.
Huddling in the corner, she drew her blanket around her tighter and listened to the rain pound on the roof, with the occasional crackle.
This. This was why she didn't like the great outdoors. She'd never be one of those great philanthropists who spent millions of dollars to preserve a park or wetlands somewhere in the Yukon, or wherever. Her and the outdoors had the bad habit of not getting along. At all. She'd be the one to get grass and twigs stuck in her hair, or waterlogged, or any number of things that entailed her and Mother Nature interacting as anything beyond a potted plant or two. And that was stretching it. She was a city girl, sleek and sophisticated, not a rough and tumble country mouse.
Dan slid into the tent, drenched to the bone, the metallic flashlight clenched in one hand; it was spinning beams of light all around, creating an additional light show to accompany the lightning. She threw him the other blanket and curled back into herself. "Here you go," she said, "and make sure not to get me wet."
He threw her back a waterlogged paperback, as it skittered across the tarps and landed at her feet. "Here's your book," he said. "You left out it by the fire."
"Should have thrown it in for kindling," she grumbled, thumbing through the pages, before throwing it across the tent with an undignified shove. If it was salvageable, it wouldn't really be readable again, in quite the same way. Maybe she would have Dorota donate it to someone less fortunate. Maybe she could give it to Jenny, next time she saw her, or have Dan give it to her. After all, Jenny should read Zola.
She looked up at the tent's ceiling. The fabric was a common shade of blue and the material was not one of the sturdier, more durable, more fashionable looking ones that she would have chosen. Except that it was Dan's tent, not hers, and she hadn't had a voice in the matter.
She should have never looked up.
Ping. Ping. Plop.
She felt that last one. She shouldn't have, but she did. The water droplet blossomed across the skin of her arm as she felt more and more droplets rain down on her, soaking her clean through. "Humphrey, the roof's leaking!" she exclaimed. "Dan!" This was not what she signed up for. This was not what she had expected.
And he laughed.
"Oh, Blair," he said, standing up and leaning over - he was too tall to stand up straight without tearing a new, larger hole in the roof - "it's not that bad. It's just a little hole, and a little water. It's not the end of the world, or this trip." He rummaged in his backpack, and pulled out rolls of duct tape. Within moments, the hole was patched; Blair edged away from it and found a new corner to scoot to. She wasn't going to risk it again, and duct tape was so far down the list of acceptable patching substitutes that she could only roll her eyes in disgust. It was so - so Brooklyn of him, it really was.
The edges and remnants of his laugh filtered and echoed around her. It likely hadn't been malicious or mean in intent, but it pierced through her like an arrow.
No one laughed at Blair Waldorf and got away with it.
She could act irrationally with the best of them, and she knew it.
So she said the words that would serve as her own arrow to his heart, to replicate the feat he had just performed on her. "I'm not talking to you for the rest of the trip, Humphrey," Blair said, crossing her arms and turning away from him.
And the silence was golden, save for the pitter patter of raindrops still pounding away at the roof and the occasional sniffle of cold from one or both of them.
She almost swore she could hear him whisper a faint "okay," as she rocked back and forth in her corner, lost in a world made of her own thoughts.
She slid the notebook back into his bag and patted it closed; it wouldn't do either of them any good if the whole reason for this insanity was destroyed. Then she might be forced to repeat it on some future weekend. Her warm, steamy shower and her fluffy pillows back home sounded amazing right now. Never again would she take them for granted.
Resting her hand on top of Dan's and threading her fingers through his, she kissed the side of his forehead - it was the most intimate gesture she could make, with the position they were both in - his head was pressed against his camping pillow, and she did not dare move him. She smiled with a hint of devilish scheming, as she said, "Next weekend, we're going to go shopping - and you're going to carry all my bags."
It would be a start to righting the perceived imbalance.
"In your dreams, Waldorf."