A/N: A lot of things taken from the actual GG and OC plots and dialogues, so I hope avid Dair and Seth/Summer shippers don't mind too much. I ship them both myself but Seth/Blair are too cute for words. Reviews will be greatly appreciated!
Blair Waldorf was not a coward.
This is what she told herself as she adjusted her blouse and combed through her flawless hair, stalling as much as possible before having to drag herself to school. She had to admit that the latest scandal between her and Chuck had taken a major toll on her position as Queen Bee at Constance, and that things with Nate were probably beyond repair. That being said, it would not change the fact that Blair was in fact a Waldorf, and that Waldorf women don't hide themselves in times of difficulties – they fight through it with their heads held high.
Of course, what did change was the reality that Blair was no longer attending Constance Billard; Gossip Girl has humiliated her through and through and has made it impossible for her to so much as walk past the school or the MET steps without having a group of random teenagers burst into snickers or ferocious whispers. Serena had talked her out of flying to France, but as far as she knew, Manhattan was no longer an option. Besides, it would be nice to try for a fresh start away from the snobbish Upper East Siders who only befriended her because of her mother. Blair was as ready as ever to start her new life, in where else but Orange County, California.
Granted, Orange County was not very Blair Waldorf at all – the surfer dudes and the comic book geeks, the giggly cheerleaders and drunken house parties – it all seemed so peasant-like and not fit for a Waldorf, who are used to being in the same social circles as royalty. But desperate times called for desperate measures, and if attending Harbor meant that she would have a chance at re-establishing herself on any social ladder again, then so be it. Besides, she told herself as she put on her last coat of lip gloss, Newport Beach did have their own share of the rich and famous, so she was sure she'd at least make a worthy minion or two. She glanced at her reflection one last time and muttered some words of self-reassurance under her breath before leaving her bedroom.
"Ms. Blair, perhaps a bagel to help you start your day?" Dorota appeared out of nowhere and held out what appeared to be a sandwich bag and waved it in front of Blair just as she was headed out the door.
"Dorota!" Blair exclaimed, sneering in disgust. "I'm late! And did you expect me to show up for my first day of school holding this thing?" she asked, eyeing the bag suspiciously. She had originally set out to move to Newport on her own, but Dorota, being the loyal housekeeper and confidant of Blair that she was, insisted to come along to take care of her.
"Ms. Blair," Dorota reminded Blair tactfully, "remember you here to fit in, not be so special, like in Constance."
Blair rolled her eyes and held out her hand, snatching the bagel from Dorota's hands. This was not going to be easy to get used to. She had promised herself and informed Dorota that she was to remain as low-key as possible in Newport, in case that Gossip Girl was successful in extending her reach beyond New York and haunt Blair even while she was in California. She stepped out the door and checked her phone auspiciously, half-hoping that there would be some mention of Nate setting out to look for her, or maybe some positive words about Blair ever since she disappeared off Gossip Girl's radar. But nope – seems that what she feared most had happened – she had officially became irrelevant. She adjusted her headband and got into her car to yes – drive herself to school.
This was definitely not going to be easy to get used to.
If getting to school was bad, arriving there was even worse. There were literally swarms of students dressed in their Abercrombie and Fitch t-shirts, flaunting their sun-kissed complexions, while Blair stuck out like a sore thumb with her pale ivory complexion. Back in New York, Blair enjoyed a little sun during the summer in the Hamptons, but nothing like the orange glow that was radiating off the skins of those in Harbor. Blair shook her head in disgust, lost deep in her own thoughts after a good round of people watching by her locker. How tacky, Blair thought to herself, as she saw a small, cute brunette in a tight hot pink halter top and short jean skirt. Beside her stood a tall, lean blonde, who reminded her a little of Serena, but more awkward and definitely less sexy. She shrugged her shoulders self-consciously and gave a half-smile to her chatty friend who never seemed to stop talking in a high-pitched valley girl accent.
"I mean like, how totally lame is that?" the girl said emphatically, slamming her locker shut. "I don't know how many times I have to tell him that I am just not interested!"
"Maybe you should just get to know him," the taller girl replied. "Ryan talks about him all the time, and he really isn't that bad. Maybe just a little weird."
"Yeah well, weird isn't really my thing. Anyway, forget about Co – " the short brunette suddenly stopped in the middle of her sentence as Blair realized in horror that she had been eavesdropping and ogling at the same time. She frantically tried to look busy and examined her timetable down to the last letter and prayed that the girls wouldn't notice her. She was not ready for another round of social humiliation so early on after leaving New York. But of course God wasn't listening to her prayers.
"Um, excuse me. What are you looking at?" the brunette snapped with a snarl. The funny thing was, if Blair had been on the other side of the conversation, she would probably have done the exact same thing, albeit in nicer shoes.
Think of something clever, Blair demanded herself, adjusting her headband and tilting her chin up ever-so-slightly to maintain a look of defiance. This is your defining moment, Blair Waldorf. Don't you back down or you'll never establish yourself as Queen Bee here. It's social suicide. She was just about to open her mouth in retort when, to her surprise, the two girls marched away past her, arm in arm.
"What a strange girl. What is she, from Twilight? And what's with the headband? I mean, ew," the brunette said in a voice just loud enough so that Blair could hear before disappearing along the corridor. Blair felt herself blush a little and looked around to check that no one else was looking. It seemed that chatty and self-absorbed teenagers were lurking around in every corner, but luckily, none of them were paying any attention to her. She sighed heavily and prepared herself for her next class.
"Don't worry about her," a voice said behind her. Blair turned around to find herself face-to-face with a curly-haired boy with a deep frown on his face. Out of habit, she looked at the boy from head to toe and almost did a double take. If she didn't know better, she would have mistaken the boy in front of her for Dan Humphrey. The pale complexion, neurotic self-consciousness (she could tell by the way he ran his fingers through his hair and shuffled his feet), his horrible preppy fashion sense – he even gave unsolicited advice like Humphrey.
Naturally, the boy continued without being prompted, "Summer. I meant Summer. Oh, but of course you don't know yet that she's Summer, but yes, she's Summer Roberts, just about the hottest and most popular girl at Harbor aaaaand – I'm rambling. Sorry about that," he sticks his hand out suddenly. "And I'm Seth. Seth Cohen. Welcome to Harbor." Blair forces a smile and gingerly shakes his hands by the fingertips.
"Blair," she answered coldly, "Blair Waldorf. And thanks for that enlightening bit of information." With that, Seth looked as if he got the hint and pulled back his hand in understanding.
"Right. Not looking to make friends. Got it. Well, catch you later, Claire. Uh – Blair," he shook his head and waved as he walked backwards, bumping into a tanned, buff sophomore. He dodged a menacing shove as he shuffled his way along the hall, turning away from Blair. Well, so much for meeting new friends, Blair thought to herself. Maybe Dorota was right. She had at least try to fit in here. After all, wasn't that what she came to Orange County to do? To be a normal teenager, like the rest of the people? What's more normal that chatting up an original Dan Humphrey in the hallway? At least I know their type, Blair thought to herself.
"Hey, wait up," she called behind him. "Seth, was it?" The dark-haired boy turns around and registers a look of complete shock on his face.
"Uh," he stammers as he looks left and right dramatically, "you mean me?" Gosh, Blair thinks to herself. This guy is even more pathetic than Humphrey. At least Humphrey tried to be intellectual. This one's just plain daft. Nonetheless, Blair did her best to plaster the friendliest, most genuine smile and gave him her best doe-eyed expression while she quickened up her pace to catch up to him.
"Well, your name is Seth, isn't it?" she asked sweetly.
Seth's eyebrows furrowed in confusion and for a split second, Blair found him the slightest bit attractive, in an abandoned puppy dog type of way. "Uh, no. I mean, yes. Well, it's just that, no one really talks to me around here, that's all," Seth managed to utter.
Oh, great, Blair rolled her eyes, turning her head aside so Seth wouldn't see her. She took one chance to regain her social dominance, and of course she had to waste it on a carbon copy of Dan Humphrey, who would no doubt turn out to be the biggest loser in the history of high school. She was just about to walk away when she heard a giggle to her left.
"Who wears headbands?" a girl whispered loudly to her friend. Blair touched her hair in horror as a bunch of water polo players walked past her and snickered loudly, nudging each other while eyeing her knowingly. She felt suddenly self-conscious and wished as hard as she could that she would just disappear. She was used to attention from boys, but was always used to them looking up at her as if she were royalty, deserving their greatest respect and adoration. The looks that those boys gave her made her feel small and vulnerable, like she was a doll on display to be criticized and ridiculed openly by the lowest of the lows. She tried desperately to maintain her poise and stature while her bottom lip quivered ever so softly.
Seth was watching her every reaction, and gently took her aside. "Hey, don't pay attention to those guys, okay? I think headbands are hot." With that, he gave her a charming smile and offered his arm, nodding at her in encouragement. Blair took a deep breath, and looked into his deep, brown eyes.
Tell him to save it, her subconscious screamed frantically at her. Tell him that you're Blair Waldorf and you don't need his pity! But the truth was, she had had a very, very long month, and she needed every ounce of pity and acceptance that she could get. And if it was going to come from an awkward, geekish boy in a Death Cab t-shirt, then well – she was in no position to be choosey.
"Okay," she replied, putting her arm in his after a small moment of hesitation. "Just don't get too handsy." Seth held up his hands in a gesture of exaggerated innocence, which made Blair laugh a little, in spite of herself. She relaxed her shoulders and cleared her throat. "Now Cohen, tell me," she said pointedly, holding out her new timetable, "how do I get to this drama class?"
"In fact, Waldorf," Seth replied. "I happen to have drama next period as well. Walk together?" he said, more like a statement than an actual question. And without answering, the Queen Bee herself gathered up all the courage and pride she had left, and walked through the halls, arm-in-arm with Seth Cohen.