A/N: I have recently become obsessed with Wes Anderson's 2001 film, The Royal Tenenbaums. This is what came of that. Keep in mind that this is all inspired from the movie.

Summary: She was smiling at him beneath his eyelids. She was beautiful and lovely and the only thing he could ever love. His stupid heart could never hold on to anything but her and his stupid heart was bleeding as much as he was.

Disclaimer: Nothing is mine. Story comes from Wes Anderson and all characters are Gossip Girl. No beta so mistakes are all mine. I don't usually do this, but Needle in the Hay by Eliott Smith and These Days by Nico were also involved in my inspiration. So give it a listen, if you will.


Dear Nathaniel,

It has occurred to me that you might be concerned about my whereabouts. My silence for these past two years was never meant to cause offense. My escape to Phuket was the cause of very much needed isolation.

I think I'm in love with Blair.

Yours,

Chuck Bass.

.

Blair Waldorf had locked the bathroom door three hours ago. She knew how disconcerting it was for her boyfriend—she refused to call him fiancé even though her ring glinted on her left hand—but that was the least of her worries.

The rapping on the door was vastly irritating and ceased to persist now matter how long she ignored it. She stopped her scrutiny in the mirror, waiting for him to go away.

"Blair?"

She sighed in disappointment.

"Can I come in?"

Reluctantly, she unlocked the door.

Cameron smiled as he opened the door. He was just as irritating as his persistent knocks. Even now, he seemed optimistic.

"Are you alright?"

"Splendid," she replied.

For a moment, a look of doubt crossed his face. He hadn't crossed the threshold. She gazed at him expectantly.

"Have you eaten today?"

Her expression never changed. He sighed at her hard exterior.

"Serena's here to so you."

"Oh."

She closed the door.

Serena was waiting in the living room for twenty-five minutes before Blair made her way downstairs. They embraced tightly.

"How are you?" she asked.

"Fine."

Serena studied her.

"Cameron says you've been very…"

"Depressed?"

"No," Serena said, horror-struck. "What makes you say that?"

"It's what I hear him telling Mother."

"And is there a reason for that?"

"Is there a reason for you being here?"

"Yes," Serena said. "Nate got a letter."

"Good for him," Blair said. "Maybe he'll actually be able to push the letters together and read it."

Serena ignored the slight.

"It was from Chuck."

For the first time in years, Blair felt genuine emotion. She was shocked.

"What?" she asked. "But no one's heard from him for—"

"For a couple years, I know," Serena said. "He's flying into JFK tomorrow."

Blair's mind was a vast wasteland of nothingness. Chuck Bass. It was Chuck. There was something about him that always made her mind go a complete blank.

"But…" Blair had never felt speechless before. "Why?"

"I guess he's just ready to come home."

"Tomorrow?"

"Yes," Serena said. She paused before speaking again. It was clear she was conflicted about something. "He was wondering if you might pick him up."

"What?"

"Chuck," Serena clarified. "Are you sure you're alright?"

Blair knew how unintelligent she was sounding but it was what she was feeling - complete and utter confusion.

"I didn't think he'd…"

"I think he needs a friend right now," Serena answered. "Someone who understands him."

For the first time in a long while, Blair left the apartment of her own volition. Chuck didn't necessitate an escort from the airport, but they had always admired each other in a way. The four of them had always clung together, those children with absent and neglectful parents. Chuck and Serena especially after their parents had married.

But it was Blair and Chuck who had always understood each other.

And for the first time in two years, at the sight of him, Blair felt herself smile.

.

Blair had always been punctual, but Chuck never knew exactly what he expected. He still remembered her face, every detail, and every line. But he didn't expect to see her there. It seemed as though he would never see her again. He never planned on it. And even though he requested her specifically, he still couldn't believe it.

But he watched her step out of the car and he felt relief. He thought all he would be was devastated. But he always knew that she would never make him unhappy.

Her dark hair flowed past her shoulders as she walked towards him. He remembered the last time he had seen her, her junior year of college and already getting married. She looked even more regel, even more elegant.

At first she didn't see him, her eyes scanning the crowd. But he stood to his feet and she smiled at him.

He felt her drink him in as they stood before each other.

"Well you're a haggard looking thing, aren't you?" Blair finally spoke. "Do the brothels even serve food over there?"

It was true. He knew he was gaunt and pale. And before him was a vision.

"I'm not the one in need of a sandwich."

No one else could have gotten away with it. She crossed her arms over her ribs but wrinkled her nose playfully at him. Without any preamble, Chuck strode the two steps over to her and took her in his arms.

"You really are a bag of bones," he said into her ear. And she still laughed.

He missed his friend.

"I'm glad you came back."

Looking at her, he could see her objectively. Her black dress clung to her slim frame and it made him want to hug her again. But he was sure that was the first time he had hugged her in his life and a second time seemed vastly inappropriate.

"You are?" It was the only thing he could think of to say. Most of his attention was directed at her hand. "You're still engaged."

She froze for a moment. Her own eyes trailed down to her left hand to see a glittering diamond ring. It was as though she had forgotten that it was even there.

"I suppose you didn't get any news out there."

"That was the point."

"Oh," Blair replied. She took a deep breath. Chuck wasn't sure he had seen Blair Waldorf self-conscious a day in his life. He couldn't understand it. "It's not still. It's again."

"Again," Chuck said. He felt that devastation creeping up on him. "Different guy? I guess I missed you in between marriages—"

"Not different," Blair said. Chuck raised his eyebrows. She seemed unable to make eye contact with him. "It's a long story."

"Good thing I'm home."

He wasn't so sure about that, however. Now it seemed the two years he spent away were obsolete. He was in the exact same position he was when he took off.

"You don't want to hear it." She seemed sure of that.

"I missed you, Waldorf," he winked. It was the most honest thing that he could say. He did. He wanted to hear about her life and what she was doing. He wanted her to be happy, no matter how torturous it would be for him. He just wanted to be near her again.

"I suppose the engagement announcement was a little premature. We broke it off the night after."

"The night after," Chuck repeated. But she didn't reply and he knew exactly what she meant. "The night after I left?"

"That's right," she realized. "You've been gone almost exactly two years."

He wished he could return to being that stonyhearted villain. Every day he was away from her seemed like eons. And here she was, barely out of college and getting married to the same person as though the last years meant nothing.

"That's right," he echoed.

"I missed you too, Bass."

.

After Nate had graduated from college, his grandfather set him up as an assistant to a congressman. He had quickly ascended the political ladder, soon attending family polo matches and even accepting grand gifts like the Ferrari they were currently riding in.

Blair smoothed down her hair but was otherwise inattentive.

"You seem better," Nate noted.

"Than what?" Blair asked sharply.

The only real reason that Blair took these joyrides with Nate was because she couldn't stand the looks Cameron was giving her. They weren't inquisitive or even suspicious—not that he had any reason to be. He just looked at her sadly and it was enough to make her sick.

"Have you been talking to Chuck since he got home?" Nate asked subtly.

Or what he thought was subtlety.

"Yes," Blair said coolly.

"How does he seem?"

"What do you mean?" Blair asked.

"He ran off for two years."

"He does seem a little…" Blair said. "Worn. But it's Chuck."

"Right," Nate said. "He contacted me while he was away, you know."

"Serena said," Blair replied.

"Blair…"

"What?"

"He told me he was in love with you."

There was a long stretch of silence with just the wind blowing.

"What?" she asked again.

"Well, he wrote it," Nate said. "I don't know when it was supposed to be written but—"

"What do you mean?" Blair asked.

"Well he was away for so long—"

"He said that?"

"He wrote it," Nate said. "But yes."

She was silent again for many moments.

"Don't worry," Nate finally said. "He knows you're in a committed relationship. He respects that much, at least. But you can't say anything."

"What?"

The whole situation was unfathomable to her.

"You're not supposed to know."

"He told you not to tell me?"

"I don't think he wanted for me to tell anyone."

"You told me."

Nate sighed. "I know."

They were quiet for the rest of the ride home. Without another word, Blair got out of the car and made her way to the entrance of her building.

"Is that Nate?"

Chuck always had a habit of melting out of the shadows. She had forgotten that about him. But as Nate's car disappeared around the corner, Blair whirled around to come face to face with non other than Chuck Bass himself.

"Hi," Blair said in surprise. "He was just giving me a ride."

"In a sports car?"

"We can't all have limos," she teased. He didn't smile with her. His dark eyes followed Nate's car as it disappeared. "What are you doing here?"

The air was uncomfortable around them and she didn't know why. They were friends talking about another friend. But all she wanted was for Chuck to look at her again without being guarded. She couldn't remember a time when he didn't.

"I came to see you, obviously." At least he was smiling at her again.

"Me?" she asked.

"Just to see if you needed to talk."

"Talk?"

"Listen," Chuck said. "I know me disappearing like that was… strange. But I like Cameron and if you ever need someone to talk to, I'm here."

It irritated her slightly that Chuck had been back for one day and already he knew she was on shaky ground with her supposed fiancee.

"You like Cameron?" Blair asked doubtfully. "You couldn't be more opposite of him."

"You like Cameron, I like Cameron," Chuck said simply.

It wasn't what she wanted to hear. She didn't want to be talking about Cameron at all. They both knew the question that was weighing heavily on their minds and she wasn't about to let it go.

This new side of Chuck was so foreign to her. He was destructive and callous. This person in front of her… cared. She wasn't sure how she was supposed to take it. She wasn't sure how she was supposed to take a selfless Chuck Bass. Whatever happened in Thailand must have changed hi so drastically...

She hoped he hadn't found a woman.

She had no idea why she felt that way.

"Why did you disappear?" Blair asked. "That night."

"I…"

For the first time, it seemed as though he were speechless.

"I'm sorry," Chuck said. "It was very unkind of me to ruin your announcement like that. Your mother had prepared that whole party for you—"

She hadn't expected him to take that direction. There was no part of her that wanted to hear about his lust for Thai hookers and opium. Or some woman that evidently had changed him. But she never expected him to bring up the engagement party. And she definitely didn't expect him to act so selfless about it.

There was one thing that never changed. He always had the penchant for catching her off guard.

"It was a surprise," Blair said. "I'm sure you were caught off-guard. No one was expecting it."

"Why would that matter?" Chuck asked.

Blair felt the loaded moment and was at a loss. He had always been enigmatic. She was sure that was attractive to some girls. But sometimes, she wished she could just see into his head to know what was really going on. She was probably the only one when it came to that.

"I don't know," Blair said quietly. "I'm just saying, I never blamed you—"

"You're right," Chuck finished. "And I'm sorry. But I'm here for you. In any way."

Blair smiled. "Thank you."

This time he looked at her. He truly looked at her and something inside her ruptured. She didn't want to ruin whatever this thing they had between them, but then again, she was never one to let things lie.

"Nate told me what you wrote to him."

Chuck was still. He was looking at her, but not making eye contact. Finally he took a deep breath.

"I'll see you around, Waldorf."

She watched helplessly as he walked down the street. No limo came to take him away. He just walked and she just watched. She was always the master of deception but with Nate and Chuck and everything else, she didn't know what was right and what was true.

He had disappeared just as Nate had Blair had no choice but to walk back into her apartment. She should have known that her torture wasn't over. Cameron was waiting for her on the couch. When she walked through the door, he got up immediately.

"Can we sit for a minute?"

Blair mused for a moment that he had been sitting, but couldn't find a decent excuse to avoid him. She sat with him back on the couch, but didn't say anything.

"I'm worried you're not happy, Blair," Cameron said. "You said that time apart was what you needed. I thought you accepting my proposal again would mean that you were happy."

"I'm sorry."

"Is it… someone else?" Cameron asked. "I mean… is there… You would lock yourself away and now it seems you're always out."

Blair didn't want to talk about the things that she did in the privacy of her own bathroom. And she certainly couldn't tell him the feelings that she couldn't understand herself.

"I don't know what to say to you," Blair said honestly.

She stood up and exchanged no other words with him. But even as she walked upstairs to her room, she couldn't be alone.

"Let me guess," Blair said to Serena, looking at her friend sprawled out on her bed. "Nate talked to you."

Blair walked into the room and lay next to her.

"What would Nate have to say?" Serena asked. It had always been like this between the two of them. They were seamless, always ending where the other began.

And still, Blair didn't know what her feelings were. All she knew was that she was confused. Telling that to Serena would be as difficult as telling herself.

"Blair," Serena said. "If you're sleeping with Nate—"

"Nate?" Blair exclaimed.

Blair sat up suddenly in her bed, staring down at Serena with indescribable emotion.

"You're always with him," Serena reasoned. "And I understand. Eleanor always liked him and if you're uncertain about Cameron, it would make sense—"

"No," Blair said firmly. "My mother always thought there was something advantageous there, but I knew better. I didn't date him when she wanted me to at twelve and I'm not about to start now."

"I didn't say date," Serena noted.

Blair sighed and collapsed onto her back.

"It's not about that," Blair said. "I promise."

Serena turned towards her, stroking her friend's dark hair back comfortingly.

"Then what is it about?"

"I don't know."

.

Chuck didn't know what he had been expecting. But being betrayed by his best friend definitely wasn't at the top of the list. Walking into New York after two years of absence was like flying blind. He had no idea what he would be in for.

Sending Nate that letter was supposed to be an act of grace on his part. He was aware of Nathaniel's worry for some time. It was the only way he could explain his sudden departure succinctly enough to avoid the subject altogether.

At the time, he was sure Blair had been married already. He couldn't stand to be in that church as one of her most trusted friends and witness that. He never wanted to experience pain and heartache. He never thought that was ever a possible outcome for him. Love was never part of the equation. His best option was to run, which was what he did best. But returning to the Upper East Side was even more of a wasp's nest than he had anticipated.

She was just as beautiful—if not more so—than when he left. He had accepted the fact that she could never be his, but the emotional rollercoaster that was Blair Cornelia Waldorf was a little more than he could handle.

And then there was Nate. Virtuous Nate who had actually betrayed his confidence and told the one person who could never know that Chuck Bass did indeed have a heart, and in fact, it belonged to Blair Waldorf.

He had hoped his feelings would wan. He had been counting on. But every time he saw her, his heart constricted. He was never one for those love songs and comparing love to death, but he must have been a masochist. Everything he ever despised was coming true and even looking at her and those coy eyes of hers pained him indescribably.

And for some reason, he couldn't stop looking at her.

He relished her even though he knew there was no happy ending to this story.

What was even more surprising than Nate's loyalty, or lack thereof was the arrival of Blair's future husband.

Chuck was swilling his customary glass of scotch when he heard the knock on the door.

"Drink?"

"Sure," Cameron said.

"How's—"

"Allow me to stop you, for a second," Cameron said. "You're right. I did come here to talk about Blair. But I wanted to talk to you."

"Okay," Chuck said uncertainly, sliding Cameron's drink towards him.

"Let me just say," Cameron said, "I'm glad you're back."

"You are?" Chuck asked doubtfully.

"Blair likes you," Cameron answered. "And you two have always been close. You know her a lot better than anyone."

"True."

Chuck took his victories where he could get them.

"I think she might be having an affair."

But then the bomb was dropped.

"Blair?"

That was something he never even conceived as being possible. Blair Waldorf. She held love with the highest regard along with loyalty. Despite dallying in the precarious waters of cruelty and manipulation, she would never do that to someone.

"Yes," Cameron said. "Of course."

Yes, of course was the last phrase Chuck would identify with Blair and having an affair.

And it hit him. Anger. It wasn't anything he ever wanted to experience and being near her again was bringing it back tenfold. Anger and pain - feelings he would never be able to articulate.

"It's killing me. I have to know if she's seeing someone else."

"She's sleeping with someone else," Chuck stated, the sentence so foreign to him.

He still didn't need a definition.

Blair being married was something he could handle. But her in the most carnal sense was blasphemous to him.

He hadn't realized what had happened until Cameron was at his side, pulling Chuck's hand out of the broken glass partition.

"Are you alright?"

Chuck flexed his fingers, shards of glass sticking from his knuckles.

"What do you propose?" Chuck asked immediately. "What are we going to do about it?"

"Do you need help…"

"Who is it?" Chuck asked, shaking off Cameron's concern. Cameron finally seemed struck with the fact that Chuck was determined.

"I don't know," Cameron admitted.

"Yet."

.

Blair watched Nate walk towards her in Central Park. She was sitting on a bench watching the ducks float by. She usually liked it here, but now every feeling she ever had was confusing her.

Nate sat next to her without a word.

"I'm not in love with you."

The statement stunned Blair. He wasn't looking at her either but at the pond in front of them. She didn't know what to say. All this talk of love and not love, she wasn't sure if she could even distinguish between the two anymore.

"Oh," Blair said monotonously. And she said the most natural thing that came to her. "I don't love you either."

Nate looked over in suddenly. She wasn't sure if it was surprise that crossed his face, just as she was unsure by everything else in her life.

"I know," Nate said truthfully. "You're in love with Chuck."

That did surprise her.

"What?"

"You're in so deep you can't even see it," Nate answered. "And that's why I told you. Chuck thinks I betrayed him, but you needed to know. You wouldn't have realized it if it wasn't shouted at you."

"Why are you saying this?"

"Because it's true," Nate said. "And sooner or later Cameron is going to find out—"

Blair couldn't hear any more of this. She stood up abruptly and walked away from him. He always seemed to be telling her things that she didn't want to hear, no matter how much truth was instilled in it.

She couldn't even think of going back to Cameron but she didn't know where else to go. She walked back to her apartment just in time to see Chuck walking out of it.

Again, she was stopped in her tracks.

When he saw her, he stopped as well. They stared at each other for several moments. Everything she was feeling was bubbling up inside her and for the first time, she was almost sure that she could articulate some of it.

"What happened to your hand?"

But she didn't.

Instead, the bandage covering Chuck's left hand held her back.

"Nothing," he said hastily. "An accident."

"What are you doing at my house?" she asked. Part of her wanted to hear that he had come looking for her and everything he ever felt would come spilling out.

But that wasn't Chuck. She knew he would never let anyone see inside. He would keep his feelings close to the chest until the day he died.

And she knew it was selfishness on her part. She wanted to make sure he was positive about his feelings before she started spilling hers. Instead they found themselves in a stalemate, saying nothing that meant anything to them.

"Leaving, actually," Chuck said. "I'm late for an appointment."

She was almost hurt by his brusqueness. She wanted to understand everything that was brewing beneath his surface but all she could do was watch him walk away.

Again.

.

She wasn't supposed to be there. Cameron had assured Chuck that Blair was out for the day. But he was taken aback by her walking towards him right as he was leaving.

She was looking at him in that way again that made him positive that she knew everything that he was thinking. Not to mention that they never spoke about that damnable letter as natives of the Upper East Side were always bred to do. Sweep everything underneath the rug and avoid consequences.

But she didn't say anything.

She was silent as he turned his back on her and walked down the street.

It was better this way. Even as he cursed his stupidity all the way down to his private investigator's office.

"Are you sure this is alright?"

Cameron had been reluctant from the start, but Chuck knew from the experience this was the only way to know for sure.

And Andrew Tyler was familiar with following Blair around. But he wasn't going to let Cameron on that little piece of information.

"Do you want to know who she's been seeing?" Chuck asked.

Cameron's silence was incriminating enough. Chuck led him into the office and took a seat before Andrew Tyler.

"What have you got?"

Tyler slid the file towards Chuck. Cameron put a hand on his arm.

"Isn't this invasive?"

"Isn't that the point?" Chuck asked and opened the file.

Background File:

Waldorf, B.

New York City, NY

Age 22.

Both Chuck and Cameron stared at the picture featured below the bold print.

It was Nate and Blair.

Cameron pulled the photo closer to him but Chuck had enough. He didn't need more proof than that. The picture from the elevator security camera explained everything. Cameron still seemed transfixed.

Chuck wasn't sure what he was. He sat there for a moment longer letting it all settle in before getting up abruptly. He walked right out of the office, leaving Cameron there.

The walk back to his penthouse was a blur.

But he could identify this feeling. He knew what this was. He had felt it when his father died. But this was worse. This felt as though his intestines were being twisted, his guts torn out of his stomach with white-hot pincers.

He knew his penthouse was empty. He locked himself in the bathroom, though it was clear that he wouldn't be interrupted. No one would be coming home for a long while. A dangerous calm washed over him. He was never used to such tranquility. Usually his brain was full of noise and chaos. Instead, he just looked at himself in the mirror with acceptance he had never felt before.

He started removing his cravat methodically, stripping away everything that he identified himself with. He unfastened his cuff links. He shrugged out of his jacket and finally rolled up his sleeves.

His last order of business was stripping off the bandage around his knuckles. It still bled gently. With a single blow, he threw his wounded fist into the mirror, raining shards of glass down on him.

Without even thinking of it, he found a large shard of mirror in the palm of his hand. He could see his reflection, eyes red sunken. He looked at himself apathetically, only slightly disturbed by his ragged appearance.

And there was her. He saw her as he saw himself and he knew exactly what he was doing. Blood ran down his forearm at an alarming rate before he dropped the mirror.

God, he was so afraid.

But he couldn't see it.

All he saw was her.

She was smiling at him beneath his eyelids. She was beautiful and lovely and the only thing he could ever love. His stupid heart could never hold on to anything but her and his stupid heart was bleeding as much as he was.

.

"Where is he?"

Nate was standing outside of the recovery room, blood splattered all over the front of his polo shirt.

"Nate."

"I found him."

"What happened?"

Blair didn't realize tears were gathering in her eyes as she stood in the hospital, but Nate saw them and so did everyone else.

"I found him," Nate said again. "I thought he was dead."

"Is he okay?"

Nate looked down at his shirt, seeing the blood for the first time. She knew that he wasn't going to say anything else.

It was his best friend.

She should know that she wasn't the only one that cared. But that's what it felt like. She shouldered past him into Chuck's room.

But she stopped short. Lily and Serena were at his bed. He was awake and talking to them quietly. An IV was flushing him with medication.

She didn't miss the bandages crawling up his arms.

Blair didn't step any further. She was just inside the door, unable to do anything but hold her arms over herself and lean against the wall, just watching him.

"What happened?"

"Serena," Lily said lightly. "Not now."

"Mom," Serena snapped.

What Blair didn't miss was Eric in the corner of the room. His hand was cupping his own wrist where she knew his own scar was. But even from where she was standing, she could tell Chuck's bandages went farther up his arm.

"We should let him rest," Lily continued. "The doctors gave him medication."

Serena followed her mother a short distance. Chuck didn't seem concerned with him. His eyes were starting to glaze over. But Eric never stopped staring at him.

"Just let him rest," Lily said.

Blair knew she wasn't trying to be indelicate. She was just scared. Two of her sons had done the scariest thing and no one could understand it. Blair knew how frightened she was, she didn't even want to know what Lily was feeling.

She just stood there, dissolving into the wall and never taking her eyes off of him. In the haze of his drugs, Chuck's eyes slid over to hers.

They never moved.

.

When he woke up, he could smell her perfume. He was sure that had more to do with him dreaming of her than anything based in reality. He had seen her when he collapsed as sure as he could see her when he would wake.

But he was sure that was just a dream. He had seen her staring at him for what seemed like vast eons, his brother and sister's voices calling to him distantly.

It was just a dream.

He wasn't sure if he expected to wake up or not. But he wasn't surprised that he did. Nothing went according to plan. But he wasn't planning on staying in a hospital any longer. He never had an affinity for them, and he especially didn't now.

He couldn't even stay for his father.

He dislodged the needle from his arm and slid out of the bed. It was after visiting hours and he was thankful that Serena wasn't asleep at his bedside like she was prone to do with her brothers.

He wouldn't let himself land in the Ostroff center.

He walked all the way back to his penthouse. Still slightly subdued by his medication, it wasn't that treacherous. No one batted an eyelash when he walked past the concierge.

It was only when he exited the elevator was he uncertain it was his apartment. Music was flowing from his bedroom, the door slightly ajar. He walked tentatively towards it before taking in the sight before him.

Blair's stocking feet were tucked underneath her, her hair spilling down her back as she sat on his bed. He stood there for a moment, watching her in slight confusion.

"What are you doing here?"

She looked up at him, surprise clearly showing in her eyes. It was the first time he even had a clue as to what she was feeling.

"I was just…" she trailed off. "What are you doing here?"

"I live here."

"I mean you're supposed to be at the hospital."

"I left," Chuck said simply, walking towards her.

"They checked you out?"

"I…" Chuck said, "checked myself out."

She sighed. He could tell she didn't like the sound of that.

"And we return to what are you doing here," Chuck said, sitting on the edge of the bed, though still miles away from her. "Where's Cameron?"

"Chuck."

She almost sounded disapproving or disappointed at him in some way.

"You know that's over," she said. "Of course that's over."

"Why?" Chuck asked. "Because of me?"

She was stubborn and all the feelings he had wanted to muffle came rushing back.

"Why would you think that?" she asked. "It's over because it has to be. It's right this way."

Chuck didn't answer. His opinion was meaningless when it came to this. But her eyes weren't satisfied and he knew there was so much untouched emotion he couldn't even begin. Her eyes were fastened on his arms. She was unrepentant about staring.

Gently, she took his right arm into her lap. She stroked the bandages lightly.

"Are you in pain?"

Chuck couldn't even begin to answer that question. But he knew what she really wanted.

"Do you want to see it?" he asked. He was sure she would refuse for dignity's sake, but instead, she looked up at him, her dark eyes big and acquiescing.

He peeled back his bandages easily for her, finding it so easy to do everything that she wanted. It never mattered what pain it caused him.

But she didn't flinch away from the ghastly gouges in his arms. She just stared. But he could see what was flickering behind her eyes and it was completely foreign to him.

He quickly covered his vulnerability back up. Her eyes were wet when she looked back up at him.

"Where's Cameron?" Chuck asked.

"I told you," Blair said. "That's not—"

"Because of Nate," Chuck said.

She was silent.

"I know about Nate," Chuck said quietly.

"Yeah," Blair said. "It was when Cameron and I weren't together."

Chuck smiled tightly; sure she could see his discomfort. Of course it didn't change anything for him. He wouldn't have cared if she were cheating on her husband, fucking the entire Upper East Side.

She was Blair. That was all he ever cared about.

"And all we really did was talk about you," she said softly. Chuck looked up in surprise.

"Me?"

"You just disappeared," Blair explained. "Without a word, you were gone. And I don't know why. Neither of us did. He missed you so much. I missed you so much."

He only heard the tail-end.

"You did?"

"I told you that."

She did tell him that. He just never thought it was in the same way that he missed her.

"You," Blair repeated. "That was the only reason…"

She was still stroking his arm. He could never imagined she would be unperturbed by his ugliness. He was raw and he was scarred but she never shied away.

He edged closer to her on the bed, letting her hold him.

"Blair," he said. "I have to tell you something."

She flinched. She was leaning away from him, something close to fear reflecting in her eyes.

"I love you."

But in an instant it was gone. Her face looked familiar to him but he couldn't place it. He couldn't think that she was actually happy.

"I love you too," she said without any hesitation.

"You do?"

She was smiling and suddenly her arms felt like the most natural place to be.

"I ran away," Chuck said. "I saw that party celebrating your engagement and I saw you and him and I just ran. I tried making it go away. I was gone for a year but it still didn't help. All I did was think of you. It made it worse. I can't stop."

Blair took a hand and stroked his hair back. Her mouth was inviting and he pulled her close. Her arms wrapped around him as they kissed fervently. She pulled him down onto the bed with her, gripping the back of his head.

He pulled away, taking a deep breath and hugging her towards him.

She buried her face in his neck, their limbs entwined.

"Don't do it again," she whispered into his neck. He looked down at her. "Please."

And he knew that she really did love him. And what was happening between them was something real.

"Okay," he said simply.

Her fingers dug into him.

"Why would you…" She trailed off. "It wasn't because of me, was it?"

Chuck didn't know what else to say.

"It wasn't your fault."

Her body shook slightly and he held her close as she cried.

"You're not allowed to, okay?" she asked. "You can't leave."

"Okay," he said again. He knew this time she believed him.

She kissed him sweetly, holding onto him firmly.

But they were finally relaxed. Entwined in each other's arms, they were finally together.