A/N: Hey! This is super late even for me lol. I'm sorry but it is extra long if that makes it any better. There's something for everyone in this and alot of gooey sappy stuff that I can't seem to help. I hope you guys are still around and still interested! Thanks for the patience!

**Trigger warning for bulimia mention. It's not graphic but I want to warn that the mentions are there.

Things have been different between her and Dan since Independence Day. It's been a couple of weeks and the thread of affection that runs between the two of them has only gotten stronger. They're somehow even gentler and more loving with each other, which she hadn't considered as possible. There's also that feeling that this is important, more important than they realized, to both of them and thus being handled with even more care. It's delicate.

She's rattling around the kitchen trying to find something to eat when she hears the front door open. "Yay." She says softly to herself and shuts the cabinets. She wasn't expecting Dan so soon. She smiles and runs into the living room to greet him. "You have impecca—" The words die on her lips and she slows her steps. "Chuck." She frowns. "What are you doing here?"

"Can't I pay a visit to an old friend?" He smirks as his eyes travel up and down her body. Somehow her dress doesn't feel like it covers enough and she crosses her arms uncomfortably.

"You could if you'd behaved like an old friend." She arches an eyebrow.

Chuck winces dramatically. "That was a misunderstanding, Blair." He takes a step closer to her and she rolls her eyes. "You know I always have your best interests at heart. That's actually what brings me here today." His cologne is already making her stomach churn.

She scoffs. "Spare me, Chuck." She moves around him and opens the door for him. "I'd like you to leave now." Dan's words are running through her head and she doesn't want to be alone with Chuck. She knows he won't do anything to her, but she has a bad feeling and she knows he's not here for anything good. She's been dreading this particular calling card.

"I just got here." He says with an arch of his eyebrow as he surveys his surroundings. Blair follows his eyes and sees traces of Dan everywhere from a t-shirt on the back of the sofa to a bowl and lighter on the mantle above the fireplace to sneakers by the front door to swim trunks drying out on a rack by the open back door.

She meets Chuck gaze when he looks back at her knowingly. "You should have asked." She says with forced pleasantness. "I would have loved to have you over, but I'm on my way out." She shrugs her shoulders apologetically.

"This is very rude, Blair." He shakes his head slowly.

"Yes, well, so is showing up unannounced at someone's house and then just letting yourself in." She smiles and holds the door open wider. "We'll consider it all even."

He narrows his eyes. "It's not always so simple."

She keeps her eyes on his. "It is, Chuck." She arches an eyebrow. "How did you even find me?"

"The loyalty you so famously inspire seems to have certain limits." He sneers as he moves past her and out the door.

She feels relieved until his words hit her. She keeps her composure though. "Thank you for the tip." She starts to close the door. "And knock next time, or better yet, call."

"Where's the fun in that?" He asks just before she shuts the door in his face.

Shit, shit, shit. She leans back against the door and sinks to the floor. This is just the beginning.

She's been reading the same page in her book for an hour. Her mind is racing along with her heartbeat. Today was a signal; she just doesn't know of what.

"Hey." She tenses and jumps a little at the voice, but quickly realizes that this is the voice she wants to hear. She looks up from her book to see Dan walking towards her with a tired smile on his face. Just like that, her mind quiets and her heartbeat slows.

"Hi." She returns quietly and sits up to make room for him on her lounge chair. "Did they cut you?" She watches as he tosses his shirt aside and slides his shoes and socks off. She wasn't expecting him for a few more hours; she's not complaining though. She's rattled and is so relieved to see him.

He sits behind her and pulls her back against his chest. She takes a deep breath. "Yeah, I asked them to." He kisses her head and tightens his hold on her.

"Are you ok?" She moves her head back so she can look at him.

"Mmmhmm. It's—" He sighs loudly and leans his head back against the chair. "I think I have to go back to the city."

"What?" She sits all the way up and turns to look at him. This is not what she wants to hear right now. "Why?"

"Easy, tiger." He eases up and puts his sunglasses on his head. "It's my family. Jenny, really." He shrugs. "She went to see my mom and is all freaked out now. I don't know, I just feel like I should go see her and do something fun with her."

She furrows her brow and nods her head. She can't ask him to not take care of his sister and she's supposed to be handling Chuck herself anyway. "Of course." She moves her hand over his. "I'll go with you then." Like hell she is letting him out of her sight for the rest of the summer. Besides, she wants to be there for him.

He shakes his head and brings her hand to his lips. "I'm just going for a couple of days." He looks down at her hand as he cradles it between his own. "I don't want to interrupt your summer with my family drama."

"Dan." She tugs her hand out of his. "How selfish do you think I am?"

"I don't think you're selfish." He says calmly. "I think I don't want to involve you, or us, in the mess that is my family right now. This is separate and the best thing in my life." He takes her sunglasses off. "I want to go and deal with this and come back here to you."

"Why can't we deal with it together?" She scoots closer to him. "And come back here together?" Her eyes search his.

"Because this isn't our problem." He says adamantly. "It's mine."

She purses her lips. "If that's how you feel then ok." If it had been any other day she probably could have controlled her emotions better and she probably wouldn't have even pushed to go with him, but, as it is, she's hurt and she doesn't want to stay here without him. She's so sick of everyone else in her life and she certainly can't trust anyone here. She feels alone again. She groans when the tears start to fall. She swats his hand away when he tries to wipe her tears.

"Blair…." He starts tiredly. "It's not—"

"I'm going to take a bath." She cuts him off and rises from the chair slowly.

He reaches for her hand when she passes by him. "I'm sorry."

"Don't be." She shrugs and links their fingers together. "I just think I need to work on my understanding of relationships." She laughs sadly and shakes her head. "It's never what I think it is, you know?"

"Hey—" He stands up, but she backs away.

"It's ok." She says softly and lets her hand fall from his. "I want to be alone for a little while."

"Fine." He steps back and nods his head.

She hates feeling like this with him and it doesn't seem right that she does. She's starting to feel like maybe she's the problem and has always been the problem with Nate and with her parents and now with Dan too. "Great." She groans to herself as she trudges up the stairs.

She jumps when she comes out of the bathroom a little while later and sees Dan sitting on the bed, waiting for her eagerly. "Jesus, Dan."

"Sorry." He says sheepishly and manages to look even more eager.

"It's—It's ok." She rests a hand against her forehead and closes her eyes. "I'm just a little jumpy today." She shakes it off and smiles politely.

He narrows his eyes. "Yeah, I've noticed."

She takes a quick breath. "I watched a scary movie." She ties her robe a little tighter and sits on her vanity stool.

"Didn't we agree not to do this?" He moves to the edge of the bed and looks at her intently.

"Watch scary movies?" She furrows her brow.

He clicks his tongue against his teeth and laughs lightly. "No. We agreed not to hide things or shut each other out."

She frowns to herself and looks away from him. She had hoped he hadn't noticed that she was a little off today. She sighs. "We agreed to talk to each other." She mumbles.

"Right." He nods. "So I guess I'll take the first strike then."

She whips her head back around to look at him. "What?" She thought this was going to be about her.

"I don't want you to come with me and get involved in all of this because, on some level, I'm still trying to impress you." She sits up a little straighter and studies him. "I—I don't want you to have to deal with my emotional baggage. I know you didn't have to do that with Nate and his perfect life so—I don't know—I just….I don't want to be a burden to you." He takes a deep breath. "I want this to stay happy and….good for you."

So this is what it feels like to be dumbfounded. "Humphrey." She gets up and sits beside him. "I'd never think of you as a burden." She takes his hand in hers. "I don't know if you understand what you've saved me from." She's not sure she understands what he's saved her from. She swallows hard and he squeezes her hand. She shakes her head. "I care about you; I love you, Dan." She strokes a gentle hand down his cheek. "I want to be there for you. That's what a relationship is to me; being there for each other." She smiles warmly. "I support you like you support me."

"Ok." He says quietly and brushes the hair from her face.

She watches him for a moment and can see that he's somewhat unconvinced. "You know, Nate's life wasn't perfect, nobody's is, but he never let me in. Not really." She waits a beat and locks her eyes on his. "Don't—Don't do that to me. Please."

He furrows his brow and nods his head. "Come here." He places a hand on the back of her neck and urges her closer to him so he can kiss her. "I really am sorry about earlier." He tells her when they break apart. "And just to be clear it was not about anything other than me being wrapped up in my own shit." He shakes his head and runs his hand down the back of her head. "It wasn't about us or definitions of relationships."

She nods and smiles slowly. "It was about protecting me." She arches an eyebrow. "I don't need or want to be protected. Not from you or your life." She kisses him gently.

"I know." He laughs lightly. "It was stupid."

She laughs too. "It was sweet albeit misguided." She kisses him again. "Thank you for clarifying and explaining it. You scared me, Humphrey." She shoves his shoulder playfully and he falls back onto the bed, taking her with him.

"I'm sorry, baby." He plays with a tendril of her hair that fell loose from her bun and studies her eyes. "You deserve better."

She furrows her brow and laughs quietly in disbelief. "You're crazy." She kisses him gently. "There's no one better." She sighs. "It was just a weird day."

His eyebrows rise. "Yeah, speaking of, it's your turn." He smooths a hand down her shoulder.

She purses her lips together and takes her own advice. "Chuck was here."

He sits up quickly and looks down at her. "What?" She sits up slowly.

She shrugs her shoulders. "He just showed up."

"And now you're acting all weird and jumpy…." He narrows his eyes. "What happened?"

She shakes her head. "Nothing I couldn't handle, but he let himself in and it….well, it startled me." She says honestly.

"He let himself in?" He looks at her in confusion. "What does that even mean?"

"He opened the door and walked in without knocking." She says plainly. Dan's eyes widen. "I thought it was you actually and I went to greet you. He was just standing in the middle of the living room, waiting. It took a little work, but he left without much of a show and that was it."

"What the fuck?" He runs a hand over his mouth. "No wonder you're shaken up." He kisses her forehead. "Are you ok?"

"Yeah. He was cryptic and dramatic, as usual. Then he left. That was really it." She looks down for a moment. "I don't know what his game is, Dan, but he's definitely up to something."

Dan nods his head. "I—uh—I think you should come to Brooklyn with me."

Her eyes widen. "No."

"I don't trust him, Blair." He says solemnly.

"You don't have to trust him; you have to trust me and my ability to handle this." "He's not going to hurt me. It's like he was here to gather information." She pauses thoughtfully and cuts her eyes back to him. "He knows you're staying here."

"Everyone does. Or could if they wanted to." He shrugs. "We haven't exactly been subtle."

"I know, I know." She places her hands over her face and makes a frustrated noise. "I know he was here for a reason though."

"Then let's just leave." He grabs her hand. "Come back to the city with me."

"We've been over this, Humphrey." She squeezes his hand. "I'm not going with you because of this."

"Ok." He purses his lips. "I want you to come, honestly, because you're my best friend and I kind of like having you around. And, yeah, because of this." He shakes his head. "I can't make you do anything, but if you stay here, will you at least stay at Derek's?"

Her eyes search his. "I believe you and I'm staying here, in my house." He groans and gets up from the bed. "Dan, I think your sister needs someone to put her first right now. I was actually being selfish earlier." She gets up and moves to stand in front of him. "It's awful to be alone when you realize that your parents care about some things more than you." She looks at the floor for a moment before she looks at him with a warm smile. "I've had you all summer. She needs you right now and I'll be ok here." He eyes her skeptically. "I promise."

He kisses her in response. "You know you're not alone anymore, right?"

"I do." She smiles up at him. "That's why I know how important it is that Jenny knows that too." She wraps her arms around him and rests her head on his shoulder. "It makes all the difference."

He hums thoughtfully and pulls her a little closer. "You're changing." He murmurs softly against her hair.

"I know." She pulls back to look at him and playfully pouts her lips. "It's all your fault." He smiles and kisses her forehead.

"I'll share the blame with you." He winks and kisses her lips this time. She sighs into him.

"Fine." She says as she dreamily looks up at him when they break apart.

"Well, that was easy." He laughs and clasps his hands over the dip in her lower back.

She pulls back and narrows her eyes. "I can make it more challenging if you'd like."

"There's my Blair." He says teasingly as he sways her to one side. "I will take my win…..and the spoils." He watches as she takes a step back from him and unties her robe and slides it off of her body.

She breathes him in when he kisses her and moves his hands down her body. "Mmmm." She breaks away and shoves him onto the bed. He laughs in surprise. "It's my win, Humphrey." She smirks as she leans down to collect her spoils.

She's disoriented when she wakes up to Dan kissing her forehead in the middle of the night. "….Humphrey." She murmurs. "Save your affection for the sunrise." He laughs quietly and the distance of the sound causes her to open her eyes to take in her surroundings. She frowns when she sees him fully dressed and sitting beside her on the edge of the bed. "I distinctly remember undressing you not so long ago." She rises up on her elbows.

"You did and you did it very well, Waldorf." He kisses her lips this time and she moans sleepily when he withdraws from her. He waits a beat and she looks at him expectantly. "Jenny ran away."

Blair sits up and clutches the sheet to her chest. "What?"

"Yeah, I don't know." He exhales slowly and runs his hands down his face. "I mean we all know where she's going, I just hope she gets there ok." He jostles his leg nervously.

"Oh, do you think she's going to your mom's?" Blair slides closer to him and rests a soothing hand on his thigh.

"Yep." He shakes his head. "I'm so frustrated with my parents. It shouldn't have gotten to this point." She watches him and sees the worry on his face. "Anyway, Derek's giving me a ride to the bus. I have to go tonight and try to figure this out."

She nods. "Of course." She rests her forehead against his. "I love you." She smiles warmly at him when he pulls away from her.

"I love you too." He cups her cheek. "Are you going to be ok here?"

She feels herself flush. She clearly freaked him out today. "Dan, I can take care of myself." She says quietly.

"Normally, I'd agree with you but you were pretty shaken up today." He strokes his thumb across her skin.

"Temporary setback." She smiles easily. "Look, I'm just not the kind of girl who needs rescuing so you're going to have to let go of that fantasy." She purses her lips.

He holds his hands in the air playfully. "Easy, Waldorf." He lowers his hands and eyes her. "I don't want to rescue you, Blair, but it's ok if I need to. I don't mind." He says quietly with a soft smile and she darts her eyes away. "I'll miss you." He says when she stays silent.

"I'm sure you will, Humphrey." She arches an eyebrow.

He drops his head in his hands and laughs before he looks up at her again. "Alright, as touching as this send-off is, I do have to go." He looks at her expectantly.

"Then go." She shrugs her shoulders.

He widens his eyes and she feels like maybe she's been a little harsh. "I get it, ok. You don't need me or anyone else…..except when you choose to be honest with me." She flushes and keeps her eyes trained on her hands. He rises slowly and she looks at him as he stretches when he's on his feet. He places a kiss on top of her head. "I'll call you later." She nods and watches as he goes. She groans to herself as she jumps out of bed and grabs a t-shirt from the pile on the floor. She's getting way too soft.

"Dan." She calls after him just as he's throwing his bag into Derek's car. He motions to Derek to give him a minute before he goes to her. She crosses her arms and looks up at him.

"Apologizing would really go against your ice queen reputation you just worked so hard to maintain." He nudges her shoulder playfully.

She drops her arms and sighs. He's so annoying. "I need you." She grumbles.

"I know you do." He says with a shrug. "I also know you need me and everyone else to know how tough you are." He places his hands on her waist and pulls her against him. "It's like you forget everything you say to me or you think I forget. I don't know. It doesn't matter." He smiles down at her. "I need you too."

She takes a deep breath. "It's unsettling how well you know me already." She frowns for a moment. "I just—I don't want you to worry about me while you're helping your sister."

"You're always on my mind, Blair." He locks his eyes on hers. "That's just how it is."

"So it is." She reaches a hand up to his cheek. He lowers his mouth to hers and just as she's settling in to the kiss Derek honks the horn. She jumps away from Dan and scowls toward Derek's car.

"That's my cue." He smirks at her. "I love you."

"I love you too." She clutches his t-shirt and brings him close enough to kiss again. "I'll be waiting for you." She whispers.

He laughs lightly and rests his forehead against hers. "You aren't happy unless I'm thoroughly confused." She pulls away with a grin. He returns it and backs away from her. "Oh, and apparently you need to be reminded that I dig the whole ice queen thing." He teases.

"No, I don't." She says with a slow shake of her head. He tilts his head to the side and winks at her before he gets into the car to leave her for who knows how long. She rests against the door frame as she watches him get further and further away as her worry draws closer and closer.

It's been a peaceful week in the Hamptons for Blair, much to her dismay. It's been the kind of peaceful that she's learned to distrust in her short 16 years. She frowns as she watches her minions flip through magazines, gasping and pointing with excitement. She's yet to figure out who the snitch is. She's fed them all different pieces of misinformation and is waiting for it to circle back. She hasn't heard or seen Chuck either though she knows he's still here, lurking and plotting. She takes a long sip from her tropical drink and looks out at the ocean from her deck. She's accepted that a large part of her discontent this week has to do with not seeing Dan. As it is, they've barely spoken because he's been so preoccupied with Jenny, which Blair is trying, really trying, to understand. They spoke last night and he said that Jenny is doing better and that he'd be back sometime next week. She shifts restlessly on her lounge chair as she decides that's too—

"Honey, I'm home!" Her minions stop their chattering and she jumps up from her chair at the sound of Dan's voice. She runs into the house and nearly runs into him. "Hi." He says kind of breathlessly when their eyes lock.

"Hi." She returns shyly. A week apart from him has felt like an eternity and she hates that she's now that kind of girl. He runs a hand through his hair anxiously and she sees his tongue dart out against his lips. She practically launches herself at him and his arms wrap around her tightly, like maybe it's felt like an eternity for him too. "God, I've missed you." She murmurs when they finally break apart.

"I've missed you too." He takes her head between his hands and eyes her before he kisses her again. He backs her into the wall and his hands slide her dress up.

"I thought you weren't coming back until next week." She says breathlessly as she holds his gaze.

"It turns out talking to you did not make me miss you less." He rests his forehead against hers. "I've never been so crazy about anyone." He kisses her. "My ability to function was declining." She moans into his kiss. "Rapidly." He adds as he kisses her cheeks.

"So was mine." Her voice breaks when his hand moves to one of her breasts.

"My dad is taking care of Jenny and I couldn't wait another day. Didn't see the point." He kisses her neck and she feels a little bite which causes her to cry out. "Where are your friends?" He's suddenly looking at her again.

She angles her head back so she can kiss him. "They're not my friends, Humphrey." She whispers and locks her eyes on his.

He smirks at her. "Where are the minions? I saw Is' car in the driveway." His fingers trail against her cheek before his lips follow the path.

She laughs breathily. "Who cares?" She sighs and runs a hand through his hair. She wants to be with him but just having him here, where she can touch him again, is almost enough. Almost. She turns to kiss him and he backs away. She makes a frustrated sound that she's never heard in her life.

His eyes widen. "Not just me then…." He murmurs playfully before he gives her a kiss and presses against her so that she can feel him against her thigh.

"No." She whispers desperately. "They're outside. Probably listening at the door. Pervs." She manages between kisses. "Mmmmm. Go get rid of them." She pushes him away and slips the straps of her dress down her arms to reveal more bare skin. "I'll wait upstairs." She playfully calls over her shoulder as she walks up the stairs.

She knows it can't be more than two minutes before he joins her but it felt like at least two hours. She wants him so much.

He walks into the room and smiles wolfishly when he sees her naked on the bed. "You didn't waste any time." He arches an eyebrow and her head falls back as she laughs. "You're magic, you know that?" He pulls his t-shirt over his head and throws it across the room.

She bites her lip as she watches him remove the rest of his clothes and she lies back as he moves on top of her on the bed. "Magic?" She asks on a moan as his skin makes contact with hers.

"Magic." He says softly and kisses her gently. "My family's gone to absolute shit." He laughs roughly and shakes his head. Her heart stops. She thought that if he came back sooner it must have meant things were better.

"Dan." She says on a frown and rests her hand against the side of his face. "Do you want to talk before…." Her eyes search his face.

"No." She furrows her brow and he takes a deep breath. "I want to talk, yes, but not right now." His eyes lock on hers and she feels as though he's looking right through her. "You make everything else except us disappear. I need that today." He kisses her and she holds onto him tight. "I just want to get lost in you and your smell….Fuck, you smell so good and it was all over my clothes, everything, driving me crazy." He kisses her lips and looks in her eyes before his lips begin traveling southward against her skin. Her eyes shut and she arches into his touch. "You and your magic." She feels his laugh against her thigh and it fades as his tongue dips out against her.

She watches him sleep for a long time afterwards. She gently runs her thumb over the crease between his eyebrows. She purses her lips as she realizes that she's the one who's gotten lost in all of this. She has changed, in ways she doesn't even really understand completely and she's not really sure who she is anymore but she feels like it's ok, especially when he's here next to her. She sighs to herself as she tangles her legs with his and tries to get closer to him. He stirs and looks at her sleepily. "So demanding." He teases as he tucks her in his arms and kisses her head as he readjusts to make room for her.

"Blair Cornelia Waldorf." She groans at the sound of her mother's voice. She barely registers Dan jolting awake beside her. "Get up and, for God's sake, get dressed." It finally dawns on her that her mother is in her bedroom in the Hamptons. Where Dan was asleep with her. Naked. For obvious reasons. Her eyes fly open and she sits up beside Dan who her mother is eyeing. Oh God. "And you. I have no idea who you are, young man. You better have a damn good explanation for why you're naked in my daughter's bed when you both meet me downstairs." Her mother storms out of the room and slams the door enough to make the old house shake.

"Fuck." Blair darts her eyes over to Dan and sees him resting his head in his hands.

She swallows hard and jumps out of the bed. She tosses his shirt at him. "Now is not the time to fall apart." Her mind is racing and she thinks her heart is going to beat out of her chest.

"I'm not falling apart." He says tiredly as he slides his pants on. She looks at him curiously until it dawns on her that he doesn't understand that that comment was for her, not him. "I just—this is not how I wanted to meet your mother." He widens his eyes.

"Yes, well, it's not ideal, but we'll have to make it work." She puts her sweetest looking sundress on over her bra and underwear. She grabs her brush from the vanity and calmly works it through her waves. She's trying to steady her breathing like her therapist has taught her but it's useless. Something's not right. There's no reason her mother should be here. Something is not right.

She turns when she hears Dan say her name. "I'm not going anywhere." He says it slow and steady. His eyes are locked on hers and she almost lets herself believe it will all be ok. "It'll all work out." The spell breaks and she carefully places her hairbrush back on her vanity. It's not right. She adjusts it until she can feel the air moving in and out of her lungs again.

She puts her smile on. "Let's go." Dan grabs her when she breezes past him. He kisses her cheek and threads his hand through hers.

In his defense, they didn't end up where they are because of him. As usual, she's the one who ruined everything.

"I just don't understand this, Blair!" Her mother shouts for the tenth time. "What happened to Nate?"

"I told you, mother!" Blair shouts back for the tenth time. Dan's hand grazes her knee again and she tries a different, calmer approach. "We broke up months ago. It wasn't what I wanted anymore."

"Oh and this is?" Her mother points at Dan accusingly.

"Yes!" Blair says emotionally. "I love him and he loves me." She sees her mother roll her eyes and she loses it. "Don't do that!" She shouts and jumps up from the sofa before Dan can stop her. "You don't know anything about him or me or what's happening here!"

"I think I know quite enough about what's happening here." Her mother says sternly. "We grant you a little independence and this is what you do with it. Shack up with a pauper."

"Mrs.—" Dan starts but Blair cuts him off.

"He is not a pauper." Blair rolls her eyes. "And don't act like you have been an attentive mother. In fact, this is what's unlike you. Showing up unannounced and acting concerned about me."

"I am concerned about you." Her mother says calmly and it almost causes an emotional reaction in Blair. That makes her even angrier.

"Liar." She grits out and balls her fists. "The only thing you're concerned about is your status when it gets out that your daughter isn't dating within your class." Her mother has the decency to look stung. Blair wipes at the tears she didn't realize had finally started to fall. "Don't look at me like that. If you cared about me you'd already know everything I know about Dan and you'd be happy for me." She lets out a frustrated sob.

"Hey." Dan wraps an arm around her and moves her to a chair. She sits down in a daze. He sits on the arm of the chair and strokes soothing patterns on her back.

"I do care." Her mother finally says. "I don't like what he seems to be bringing out in you, Blair. You haven't spoken to me like this in years and I know there's been marijuana in this house. Not to mention alcohol." She says with a tinkle of the glass in her hand. Dan's hand stills for a moment before it hesitantly returns to its movements.

Blair groans and drops her head in her hands. "I gave up on trying to get you to notice me." She focuses on her mother and takes an unsteady breath. "I know where this is going and if you say it I will never forgive you."

"Blair, he is a stranger and for all we know he's using you for your access and money." Her mother says defensively. "Not to even mention his influence on you."

"I assure you, Mrs. Waldorf, I am not using Blair." Dan says calmly. "I care about her; I love her. That's what this is. I have nothing but respect for her and good intentions in mind."

"That's a very pretty speech, but I'm not buying it. No, I know your kind." She arches an eyebrow and leans back in her chair. "This needs to end. Now. Before Blair's reputation is damaged beyond repair."

"No!" Blair cries. "No. I'm not ending anything." She shakes her head adamantly.

"Yes, Blair, you are." Her mother says pointedly.

"I am not." She stomps her foot and that's the moment that she knows she's losing this battle. She's shown every single card she has and she's desperate. Her mother thrives on desperation; she's where Blair learned that particular skill. "I will hate you until the day I die if you do anything to make him leave me. I swear I will."

"Oh my. Here we go." Her mother says on a laugh. "See, Dan, I'm really sparing you."

"What is wrong with you?" Dan asks her mother quietly. "She's obviously upset and you're making fun of her?"

"Pack your things and leave immediately." Her mother snaps. "I am taking care of my daughter. I don't need your opinion."

"I'm happy for the first time in years!" Blair says desperately through her tears. "Doesn't that mean anything to you?" She paces the floor and runs her hands through her hair.

"Blair, hey, it's ok. I—I'll leave for now and we'll sort this out later, ok?" Dan says soothingly and tries to make contact with her.

Her mouth falls open. "You're just going to leave?" She pushes him away. She can't believe this.

"Blair." He says calmly and looks at her pointedly. "I think it's best if I let you and your mom handle this right now."

"No, Dan—No." She shakes her head. "That's—There's nothing for us to handle. This has nothing to do with her." Her hands grip his forearm. He can't leave her, not after everything.

"Let him go, Blair." Her mother says coldly as she pours herself a drink.

"This is just like Daddy!" Blair storms to her mother and knocks her drink out of her hand. "You chase everyone who I love and who could ever possibly care about me away!"

"Blair." Her mother says tiredly. "This is truly unbecoming. I doubt the young man wants to be with you anymore now as it is." She adds flatly.

"I don't care!" Blair cries and turns to Dan. He looks shell shocked but she really doesn't care. "Leave, don't leave. It doesn't matter." She shrugs. "This was never going to last anyway. Obviously."

"Blair—" He reaches for her and she pulls back.

She shakes her head. "You're a coward and a liar." She can't keep up with her tears. He tilts his head to the side and purses his lips as he locks his eyes on hers. She can't deal with this anymore.

She looks past him and glares at her mother. There's only one thing in the world that could soothe her right now. "You'll regret this." She says coldly as she goes to the stairs.

"Yes, yes, I know, dear. Now go take a nap." Her mother says with a nurturance that doesn't ring true. Blair hears the rest of their conversation on her way to her room. "I trust I don't have to warn you of the consequences if you see her again." She grips the railing as she watches the scene unfold.

"You do not." Dan says coolly and crosses his arms. She drops to her knees and his eyes dart up to her for a second before he looks at her mother again.

"Good. Her display was probably for the best for both of us." Her mother says with relief and Blair begins counting down. "I'll have your belongings sent to you if you'll write down your address."

"I don't care about my stuff." He looks up at Blair one last time and she barely manages to pull herself up to turn her back on him. She needs some relief. "Enjoy your stay, Mrs. Waldorf."

"Oh, I'm right behind you. The Hamptons are dreadful this time of year and I have a collection to finish as it is…." She trails off.

"Shouldn't you check on Blair?" He asks hesitantly.

"No, she'll be fine. Her friends will check on her later." Blair scoffs. No, they won't. "Do I need an insurance policy? I brought my checkbook in anticipation of this." Blair's eyes slam shut in embarrassment.

"Uh, no." Dan laughs bitterly. "That is really not necessary." Blair waits to hear the door shut before she goes back down to the kitchen.

She feels warm lips against her temple. "Waldorf, wake up." She feels a hand brush through her hair. She stirs slowly, assuming she's dreaming and not wanting to deal with reality. "Come on." He says softly and continues playing with her hair.

She blinks and sits up, her eyes adjusting to the evening light. "What are you doing here?" Her voice is scratchy from crying and throwing up.

"What do you mean?" He furrows his brow and strokes his fingers down her cheek.

"You left." She says plainly.

"Yeah, because that wasn't going anywhere productive." He takes her hand and squeezes it. "I left your house; I didn't leave you. I'm sorry I couldn't exactly say that I didn't care what she was saying at the time." He smooths his thumb over the back of her hand. "I was hoping you might get that."

"Could have fooled me." She snatches her hand away. "You shouldn't be here anyway." She flips her hair. "You don't even know the consequences." She says on an eyeroll.

"Fuck the consequences. I didn't need to know them because I don't care." He takes her hand again. "I love you. That's all that matters."

"If you're here because you feel bad for the poor little rich girl then you can just leave again." She says bluntly. "The last thing I need is pity."

"Blair, I don't—" He scrubs a hand over his face. "I feel bad for you, ok, yes. That was crazy." He shakes his head and she tries to take her hand out of his again but he tightens his hold on it. "Stop doing that." She frowns at him and he smiles. "I love you. I was never leaving you. It literally never crossed my mind."

"Then—" She starts and he stops her with a kiss.

"You're pushing and I'm just going to push back." He whispers before he kisses her again and cradles her head in his hands. "You know me. I couldn't leave you." He adds softly.

She does know him. She takes a deep breath as she chooses to trust him. "Maybe you could give me a smoke signal or something next time?" She teases softly.

He laughs and kisses her forehead. "I'm sorry." He wraps his arms around her and kisses her hair. "How are you?"

She rests against him and feels her eyes cloud over again. "I think I lost my mind a little bit." She whispers into his neck. He has no idea what this has all done to her, what she's reverted back to after one setback. He doesn't even know she used to do that. She swallows hard.

"You were hurt and scared." He says softly and tightens his hold on her.

"Yeah." She says shakily when she pulls back to look at him. She brushes aside her worries as she decides he doesn't need to know that she has a bad habit when she gets upset because she can control it this time. She focuses on the more important issue. "What are we going to do?"

He takes a deep breath and shrugs. "Whatever it takes."

She arches an eyebrow. "Do you mean that, Humphrey?"

"Does it scare you if I do, Waldorf?" He returns with a smirk.

"I'll take your attempt at evasion as a yes." He smiles guiltily and kisses her. "How do you feel about sneaking around?" She bites her lip as she begins forming her plan.

He sighs and falls back on the bed. "Frustrated."

She moves to straddle him and his hands land on her hips as if by instinct. "It's temporary." She says softly as she looks down at him.

"It's stupid." He counters.

"I have to figure out what I'm missing before I can get to the root of this." He groans and covers his face with his hands. She purses her lips when he finally removes his hands. "So, 'whatever it takes' has decided limits."

"Stop it." He sits up and kisses her. "I'll do it but it sucks. I love you." He says softly and tucks her hair behind her ear. "I don't have anything to hide."

She wants to cry. This isn't fair. "You do now." She says on a defeated shrug. "I'm—" He kisses her.

"We'll make it fun." He says breathlessly as he smiles at her. "And it's temporary."

"Fun and temporary." She echoes and she hopes it doesn't sound as hollow to him as it does to her.

"Let's start with a swim." He kisses her cheek before he playfully tosses her onto the bed beside him.

"Humphrey!" She calls out in mock frustration as she brushes her hair off of her face.

"Save it for the water sports, Waldorf." He grins down at her and pecks her lips before he disappears from her line of vision.

She has her legs wrapped around his waist and her arms around his neck. His hands are roaming over her hips, her stomach, her waist, her breasts, her arms, her ass, her back….his hands are roaming. She leans in to kiss him gently, sweetly.

"Mmm, thank you." He smiles at her and continues moving them slowly through the water.

She sighs happily and strokes the back of his neck. "You're welcome."

He clears his throat and she looks at him quizzically. He seems nervous. "So, you said something earlier that caught my attention." He says slowly.

She feels her skin flush. She was a wreck earlier, who knows what she said. "Only one thing?" She tilts her head and bats her lashes at him.

"Ha." He kisses her forehead. "I'm not holding anything against you per se, but I have questions."

She glares at him. "You can ask but I don't have to answer."

"Very true." He nods his head. "I just want to clear the air." She continues to stare at him. "Ok, then." He clears his throat again. "You said something about knowing we wouldn't last…..?" He furrows his brow.

She blinks in confusion. That's what stood out to him? "Well, I thought you were leaving." She says tersely.

"So you did or didn't think we would last before your lack of faith?" He jerks his head to the side.

"Lack of faith." She mutters and rolls her eyes. "We covered that already." She arches an eyebrow. "I don't know what you're digging around for, Humphrey."

"I've asked it quite plainly, but I'll repeat the question for the lady." He smirks and she scowls. "You said you didn't think we would last. Did you mean that?" He asks as if she's on trial.

"Define last, Humphrey." She smirks back and untangles herself from him.

He laughs. "I think that's what I'm asking you." He says as he swims toward her.

She smiles sweetly and kicks back away from him. "I could do this all night."

She sees his eyes light up and she thinks hers must do the same judging by the look on his face. They both love a debate. "Fine." He studies her. "Do you want to get married?"

She narrows her eyes at him playfully, careful not to let him see her surprise that he's going in that direction. "That better not be a proposal."

He smirks and rolls his eyes. "It's not. I know better than to propose to you in a pool and without a diamond." This time she rolls her eyes. "It's a general question. Not everyone wants to get married. Do you?"

"I'm 16, Dan. I don't know what I want." She finally says in exasperation. He looks at her skeptically. "I guess I've always assumed I'd get married. To Nate." He raises an eyebrow and smirks at her. "Obviously, I don't feel that way anymore." She swims back to him and cradles his head in her hands. She tangles her legs around his waist again and kisses his cheek. She eyes him when she pulls back. "Why?"

He shrugs. "Just curious." He runs his hands down her thighs and she moans. She pulls herself closer to him and nuzzles his neck.

"Do you want to get married?" She whispers against his skin.

He gasps. "I thought you'd never ask."

She laughs and nips at his neck. "Don't be evasive. It's doesn't suit you despite your many efforts at it tonight."

He chuckles and she moves to look at him again. "Yes. I want to get married. Someday."

She smiles faintly. "Oh." She looks away. She's flooded with jealousy. It's ridiculous and absurd, but she can't help feeling jealous of the girl he'll marry. Someday. He's practically already in love with her, he's so confident about it. She hates that they're so young. She knows now that it's impractical and implausible to find the person you want to spend the rest of your life with at such a young age. She pouts her lips at the thought of him with someone else. He's been so single-minded about her that the thought of him being like that with anyone else hurts even in the abstract. She guesses she did mean it when she said they wouldn't last.

His thumb and his forefinger slide along her jaw and he turns her face back toward him. "I meant to you." He tells her quietly, pointedly.

Her eyes widen and her lips curl up in a broad grin. Impractical and implausible. She doesn't care. She presses her lips to his for a long moment. "You're 16. You don't know what you want either." She purses her lips and moves her eyes away playfully. "Sap."

"Here we go." He laughs and turns them in the water. "Being combative for the sake of combat is silly, baby."

"I'm being combative for the sake of reality, baby." Even as she says the words, she looks at him with everything she feels for him. He smiles softly.

"No, you're being combative for the sake of flirtation. A Blair Waldorf specialty when it comes to Dan Humphrey." He kisses her. "It doesn't matter. You don't have to believe me right now. It's not like I'm suggesting we get married tomorrow. You know I'm determined and patient though." He watches her with a look she knows. "I can wait a few years." A look like a snake about to strike. And it works.

"A few years?! We'd only be 19, Dan!" She's sure only dogs can hear her at this point.

He laughs. "You are no quixotic, are you, my dear?"

"Yes, well, one of us has to be rational." She says with wide eyes.

He snorts. "Oh, so now you're the rational one?" He eyes her skeptically.

"Exactly." She says snidely.

He laughs and kisses her. His tongue dips into her mouth. "That's what I mean. I can't live without you." He shrugs casually and kisses her again. "I like the idea of getting married young. We're not like other people. We're mature and intelligent. We won't have kids for a long, long time. We'll go to college and travel and have careers and then, eventually, we'll have kids. We'll do it all. Together." He says as if it's all just that simple. It's not, it can't be.

"Oh my God. You are such a girl." She laughs in disbelief. "How long is the list of possible names for our children?"

He darts his eyes away thoughtfully for a brief moment before he ignores her deflection. "Tell me, do you want to spend your life with someone else? Hmmm?" He raises his eyebrows. She pouts and looks away, he's calling her bluff and she hates that. She hates losing. Even to him. Even when she really wins in the long run. "What were you thinking about a few minutes ago? After I said I wanted to get married someday?" He rests a hand on her hip and gives her a squeeze.

She moves her eyes back to his. "I was thinking that I already hated the girl you'd marry. I hate the idea of you with anyone else. I don't know if I could take you being so confident and sure about another girl. I was thinking that I hate that I met you so young. It's impractical and implausible that we'll make it to marriage." She looks away again.

"Life isn't that hard, Blair." He kisses her cheek. "Look at me." She slowly turns her eyes back to him. She's feeling pouty. Why'd he have to start this conversation? "I'll never be as confident and sure about anyone else as I am about you because I don't think there will be anyone else." He keeps his eyes on hers. "You're it for me. I know it. Stick with me and you'll see." He kisses her lips. "You know I love to prove you wrong." She laughs and kisses him back. "I like that we met young. If we'd met later, we might have gotten side tracked by other people or been so wrapped up in them that we would have missed this." He takes a deep breath and studies her. "Can you even imagine how sad that would be?" He looks at her thoughtfully. "I don't even like that idea. That there might be a Dan and Blair out there that were so deluded and mistaken that they missed this; that they let each other slip away." He shakes his head and looks down sadly. "I don't even like the idea of it."

She shakes her head too and watches him. "It's a terrible idea." She brushes her lips against his gently.

He presses his lips against hers. "Be honest. Do you really want to think about, or risk, ending up with someone who doesn't know you like I do?" He pulls back and searches her eyes. "Do you think anyone will ever love your mind…" He kisses her forehead. "Or your heart…" He lowers his head and places a kiss over her heart. "Or your body…." He slides a hand teasingly up and down her thigh. She gets lost in his eyes and she has to grip his shoulders to keep herself grounded. "Like I do? I'm sure many would like to try and they might even think they know what they're doing, but it wouldn't be the same." He kisses her lips and then from her jaw to her neck. "Do you want to risk it? I don't." He stops kissing her neck to raise his head to look at her and it finally occurs to her that he's talking about himself as much as he is her. His hand starts to trail closer to her center. She moans and crashes her lips into his.

She loves him. She's not giving up if he's not. "I don't either." She murmurs against his lips. She pulls back and opens her eyes to look at him. She smiles softly, peacefully. She traces her fingers down the side of his face, his cheekbone, his jaw. His eyes close and he's so beautiful that it takes her breath away. "I don't know how I'll deal with such a sap for the rest of my life." She teases quietly. He chuckles and kisses her lips.

"I'll make it worth your while." He runs his hands along her thighs and wraps them tighter around him. "I promise." His eyes are full of emotion when they land on hers.

She nods and takes a deep breath. "I know you will." She kisses him and presses herself close to him. He moves them until she feels the pool wall against her back. He's untying her top and she's trying to get his bottoms off. She kisses him again and drops her legs to take her own bottoms off as he finishes getting his off.

He breaks away from her and rests his hands on either side of her on the pool wall. He looks at her intently and she widens her eyes to urge him to do something. "I—uh—I want you to know that this is more than hormones and empty promises. It's—It's even more than true love and—and weddings and all of that." He says nervously and she furrows her brow, thoroughly confused. "No matter what ever happens between us I'll always be here for you."

"We covered this." She says breathlessly and searches his eyes.

"We did and we didn't." He swallows hard. "I want years and years of everything we have right now but if that doesn't happen for some reason, any reason, then I'll still be here for you." He kisses her chastely and she can't help the confusion she feels. "I guess I'm saying that I'll be your family." Her mouth falls open. "In whatever way you need that to be." He rests his forehead against hers.

"Dan…." She murmurs and takes his face in her hands.

"I just—after today, I want you to know that someone does have your best interests at heart and that it's pure and good." He darts his eyes away for a moment. "It's unconditional." He says faintly. "If you want it. Obviously." He smiles shyly at her.

"I—thank you." She kisses him. "I want it." She smiles back at him as her eyes cloud with tears. "I want you." He kisses her and it's not long before they pick up where they left off before his declaration.

"Take me inside." She whispers against his mouth after they're finished and weightless in the pool, still unable to stop kissing.

"Have we discussed how demanding you are?" He teases as he kisses her one last time before he gets out of the pool and helps her out. He wraps a towel around her and then wraps one around himself.

"I don't think I have anything left to hide or play after today." She says calmly as she adjusts her towel. He looks at her in surprise. "I lost it because I thought I would lose you once the craziness that is me and my family came out if she didn't find some way to drive you away before it came to that." He steps closer to her and opens his mouth to speak but she holds a hand out to stop him. "I know my reaction wasn't ok and I'll work on that but I want you to know it was because I love you so much and the thought of not having you in my life…." She takes a deep breath. "It terrifies me." She purses her lips. "You're stuck with me too. Whether you like it or not." He sputters out a laugh and kisses her quickly before he throws her over his shoulder. "Hey—what are you doing?" She hits his back. "You know I hate it when you do this."

"Taking you inside, as you demanded." He pinches her thigh and she squeals.

"I'm glad we're not making a big deal out of these grand declarations." She says sardonically into his back.

"The grand declarations are the big deal, Waldorf." He sets her on her feet and leans against the counter as he flashes her a grin. They both see the headlights at the same time. "Who the hell could that be?" Dan asks quietly.

"I have no idea." She says with more alarm.

He looks at her again. "How stealth are we playing this?" She moves to the window and tries to look outside without being seen. She jumps when the headlights turn off. "Blair, are we hiding us from everyone or just from your parents?"

"I don't know yet, Dan." She snaps and looks around the room. His stuff is still scattered everywhere. She can explain that if she needs to. She cannot explain him standing naked, save for a towel, in her living room. "The closet." She moves closer to him and points. "Get in the closet."

"I guess that's my answer." He says wryly and moves slowly to the closet.

"Faster." She says and pushes him.

"Ow, Blair." He looks behind him and frowns at her.

"This is just for now." She says as she shoves him all the way into the closet. "I have an idea but we can't very well be seen like this the night we broke up. People talk on the Upper East Side and my mom will know before whoever this is even leaves the driveway."

"Like I said, we are hiding us from everyone." He says logically.

"Only certain parts of us." The knock at the door claims her attention. She looks back at him. "I'm sorry." He shrugs before she closes the door.

She throws open the front door. She frowns at all that throwing the door open doesn't reveal. "Is." She says in confusion. "What are you doing here?"

She shrugs with an easy smile and walks in. "Checking up on a friend." Blair gets a whiff of something that makes her stomach churn when Is brushes past her.

"What makes you think I need to be checked up on?" Blair shuts the door slowly and is surprised to find Is moving around the living room curiously. "Are you looking for something?" She asks sharply. This might be more informative than she'd initially thought.

Is stops. "Oh, no." She sits on the sofa. "Just being nosy." She laughs it off.

"You said you were checking on me…." Blair prompts.

"Oh, yeah, your mom called and said you had a bad day." Is tilts her head and smiles. "You look ok to me though."

"My mother's always a tad unaware." She says on a shrug and sits beside Is on the sofa. "Most of them are though."

"Right." Is nods and pops her gum. "Where's Dan?"

Blair looks down at her hands clasped in her lap. "I don't know." She says quietly before she looks at Is again. "We, um, I don't know." Blair takes a breath and flutters her eyes as if she's trying to hold back tears. "We broke up."

"You what?" Is' mouth falls open. "You're crazy about each other though."

"It's for the best." Blair smiles tightly. "We just aren't a good match." She's impressed with her ability to act as though this were really happening. It was an easy choice to play confident and aloof as opposed to heartbroken and lost. This is how she would have reacted if she'd had to.

"No one told me you broke up." Is says softly and Blair arches an eyebrow. She gets the feeling this goes deeper than her mother. "You must be devastated."

"I'm fine." Blair stands up quickly when a noise comes from the closet and Is somehow doesn't pick up on it. This is too close. "I am exhausted though so if you don't mind…." She gestures to the door.

"Of course." Is moves to the door. "If you need anything you know where to find us." She smiles at Blair and hugs her quickly. Blair's consumed with that smell again. It's an overpowering cologne—This runs deeper than her mother.

"It's Chuck." She says after Is has left and she opens the closet door. "And his awful cologne." She scrunches up her nose.

"What's Chuck and his awful cologne?" Dan asks as he stretches his arms over his head. "By the way, that sucked." He points back at the closet.

She rolls her eyes. "Focus, Humphrey." She bites her lip as she starts to pace. "That was Chuck." She says adamantly.

"That did not sound like Chuck." He says.

"Ugh, stay with me." She scowls at him and he rolls his eyes. "That wasn't literally him. That was Is doing his, and my mother's, bidding." She shakes her head. "I knew it. I knew something was off. My mother never checks on me. Not in person. The day after you got back. When only Is and Kati knew you were even back!" She stops pacing and faces Dan. "This morning, my mom, everything. It was Chuck."

"You think he told your mom about us?" He furrows his brow.

"I know he did. He's been circling around here since before you even left, I told you that, and I also told you he'd do something. This is it." She purses her lips. "It all makes sense. That asshole!"

"To be fair, your mom is the one who had her reaction." Dan sighs. "Chuck didn't make her act that way."

"Oh, I'm sure he had quite a few embellishments." She sits on the sofa tiredly and lays her head back. "It's my fault too. I let him know exactly how to hurt me." She turns her head to look at him.

He smiles indulgently before he moves to sit beside her. "You can't help that you're madly in love with me and can't hide it."

She groans and hits him with a throw pillow. "That's sadly true." She smiles up at him. "Though I have no idea why."

He laughs and leans down to kiss her. "You shouldn't have to hide it if you don't want to." He rests his head against his hand and looks down at her. "Chuck took advantage of the situation and your mom overreacted. We just have to figure out how to get your mom to warm up to me."

Blair scoffs loudly. "You say that like it might actually happen." She watches as Dan laughs sadly and looks down. "Chuck's not getting off the hook for this." He looks at her again and arches an eyebrow. "My mom may have been upset about my break up with Nate and about us regardless but I don't think finding us naked in bed helped anything. And I'd bet my Birkin that Chuck told her some kind of horrible story about you." Something else occurs to her. "There was no pot lying around today. Not even a bowl or anything like that." She rests a hand over her eyes. "His first visit was a fact finding visit and I should have trusted my gut. I should have stopped him sooner."

"Ok, all very good points." Dan nods thoughtfully. "I just—eye for an eye leads to more blindness, you know?"

"No. Oh, no." Blair sits up. "He is not getting away with this."

"Blair—" Dan starts in his patronizing way and she could scream. What is he not getting about all of this being Chuck's fault?

"Dan." She says sternly. "He won't stop."

"Yeah, especially if you try to get back at him." Dan says slowly.

"There will be no trying." She sets her mouth in a straight line as she plots.

"Fine. Do what you want." He sighs and leans his head back. "I can see I've already lost this one."

"Gee, thanks, for the permission." She snorts and kicks his leg.

"I know you do what you want. That's why I'm surrendering." He looks at her. "You did previously agree to stay away from him though. This better be a long distance scheme."

"I don't think I like it when you assert your dominance." She narrows her eyes.

"I don't either." He says on a laugh. "Chuck just brings out the worst in all of us."

Blair sighs and scoots closer to him. "That's exactly why he must be stopped."

Dan wraps his arm around her and tucks her even closer to him. "Just be careful, hmm?"

"I will, Humphrey." She says as if she's bored by the thought.

"Shower?" He asks with a kiss.

"With you?" She asks with an arch of her eyebrow.

"Do you have another secret boyfriend?" He narrows his eyes playfully.

"Mmmm, I can't say, but if I do I promise he's not as cute as you." She hops up from the sofa and holds a hand out to him.

"That is so reassuring." He puts his hand in hers and lets her help him up.

"I think you'll be very reassured after this shower." She teases with a grin as she walks backwards towards the staircase.

"Oh, I like the sound of that." He winks at her and she laughs as she tugs him toward her to give him a kiss. "Hey, we haven't eaten in a while." He observes as they clumsily make their way up the stairs. "Should we eat first?"

She kisses him again. "No." She says quickly. "This is going to be a reassuring and satisfying shower, Humphrey."

He widens his eyes. "I've always admired your ambition, Waldorf."

"I know." She says breezily and drops her towel as she leads him into the master bathroom.