Pairing: Dan/Blair and some Chuck/Blair ugh.
Summary: Dan, it's not your job to save Blair Waldorf. Post-24 fix-it, kind of. If you squint. IDK guys some things are just beyond saving and I think this episode might be one of them.
Previous part: Part 1
Excerpt: At first she thinks it must be Serena who she's missing.
Blair doesn't realize how lonely she is at first. She threw her hand down and made her promise - all in - trying to hide her smile when Chuck met her eyes, silently taking her up on the challenge.
And it was exhilarating - intense, familiar, consuming - at first.
But it's not quite the same as it was back in the days of Constance Billard and St.Judes. Chuck likes the game a little too much this time - she can see it in the turn of his head, the way his eyes only rarely rest on hers. It's a type of game they've never quite played before. This time, Chuck wants to see her pay. Every late night meeting, every "I love you" is met with stony silence, every distant kiss seems like a way to test her resolve.
The sex is quick and rough; Chuck rolls away afterwards, his back silently daring her to argue. She wakes up with bruises on her arms and tender lips, but she still doesn't back down.
If she backs down, he wins.
At first she thinks it must be Serena who she's missing - after all, Serena is her best friend; they tell each other everything. Serena would tell her to hang in there. Serena would remind Blair that she and Chuck loved each other; that it would be worth it if she could only hang on a little longer.
But the longer Chuck maintains the distance between them, the more Blair starts to crave a different kind of intimacy. Flashes of memories creep in. She remembers nights spent in Brooklyn, her legs strewn casually across Dan's lap. She remembers waking up to the smell of waffles and Dan's chapped lips pressed against her forehead. She remembers how Dan always seemed to know when she needed a hug (Blair can't remember the last time she and Chuck shared a hug).
It gradually dawns on her that it's not Serena she's missing, but Dan.
The realization makes her feel nauseous - what right does Dan Humphrey have, of all people, to have her mooning over him? (She tries not to think about the way she left things between them - it only make the nausea worse).
It's to be expected, she tells herself. They did date for several months and, she admits, it wasn't the worst relationship of her life. In fact, besides Chuck, it was probably the most she ever lo--
She stops that line of thought before it can be fully formed.
It'll pass, she tells herself. As soon as she gets by the worst of Chuck's defenses, whatever this - this moment of weakness, sudden uncertainty - is will pass.
Chuck is packing an overnight bag, stopping only to fix his bow-tie in the mirror.
"Do you have to go? Now?"
She's curled up on the edge of their bed, draped in a loose silk robe. Her skin still hums from their particularly intense round of sex. She won't say it aloud, but she's craving a cuddle, maybe soft conversation.
She can tell from the set of Chuck's shoulders that she's not going to get it.
"I have to be in Vienna early tomorrow morning, Blair."
He says it in a short, clipped tone, his eyes meeting hers in the mirror as if daring her to argue.
She feels some of the fight go out of her. Pushing herself to her feet, she wraps her arms around his waist and then buries her nose in the back of his shirt.
She hates how needy she sounds when she says. "Maybe when you can come back, we can take some time for us? A night out in Paris?"
Chuck stills and his next words are gentler. "You know there's nothing I want more, but every hour we spend together is an hour my father gets closer to taking everything away from me."
She nods against his shirt and swallows hard, trying not to cry.
"Blair." Chuck turns around and cups her face. His thumb smoothes at the tears on her face. Though his touch is gentle, she almost shivers at the hint of victory she sees in his eyes. "I could never do this without you. I need you."
"I'll be back soon."
He presses his lips to her forehead and then he's gone.
It's the following morning when, sitting alone in their hotel suite in Paris, she picks up the phone and dials Dan's number.
Dan's email comes a day later. She stares at it for a long time, unsure how to react. New York almost seems like another life - a world that doesn't involve endless business meetings, tense and quiet dinners with Chuck, and hot, fast sex in a hotel suite.
But it's Serena. And as mad as she might have been, she's not sure how to turn away from Serena when Serena needs her.
She calls Chuck and he agrees surprisingly quickly. "After we see Serena, there's an investor I'd like us to meet with."
There's a hint of something in his voice that sounds like he's up to a scheme, but instead of excitement, Blair only feels tired. Hadn't she offered to use her mother's company to help him win back his own? But of course he'd turned that down.
"I'll book us a flight."
"I'll get there on my own," says Chuck. "We'll meet at the airport."
He hangs up without saying goodbye. Well of course Chuck is eager to rescue Serena - everyone always is, after all. Just another day on the Upper East Side.
Chuck is already waiting for her in New York when Blair's flight touches down. She's not entirely surprised - if anyone could book a Charter for a cross-Atlantic flight in seconds, it's him.
He looks tired and grim, but manages a small smile when he sees her. "It's Serena," he only says simply, when she gets off the plane. They share a surprisingly tender kiss before Chuck takes her hand and leads her away.
It's only in the town car, when she sees the blast on Gossip Girl, does she wonder if Chuck had simply put on a show for an audience.
Chuck's hand rests heavily on her knee. "I'll get her whatever care she needs, Blair. I promise."
Blair nods and turns to stare out the window. New York City feels familiar, yet foreign, like it belongs to a different Blair Waldorf, a younger Blair Waldorf. She used to want to rule that city so badly, to just be someone so the name Blair Waldorf would mean something when others said it aloud.
Now? She feels like a shadow again. She's let Chuck back into her world and all she can do is orbit around him.
We have a great love, she reminds herself. The great loves are worth it.
Blair rests her head on the glass and only says, "Lily will look after Serena. We have to conserve your resources for your father."
Chuck squeezes her knee. "Of course. This is why I need you."
Chuck is similarly attentive in the parking lot and then again in the waiting room. A part of Blair is thrilled by his sudden affection, but everywhere they go, Blair hears low whispers and the snapping of camera phones. She's smart enough to realize he's not just being affectionate - a touch on her shoulder, his hand to her back, his lips grazing her hairline - as he is reminding the world who she belongs to. And one person in particular.
"I called ahead," Chuck says, "Lily is expecting us."
Blair nods. So they won't make the mistake of running into any Humphreys, she assumes. Fine.
Lily meets them in the waiting room with a strained, tired smile. "Blair," she says warmly, pulling her into a hug. "Oh I'm so glad you're here."
She releases Blair and nods to Chuck. "Charles."
Chuck nods back. "You look well, Lily. Of course, why wouldn't you? You must be so happy to have my father back."
Lily sighs. "Charles I know you must be upset and confused by my involvement in all of this, but I've spoken to your father and he agrees that - "
"I really don't give a damn about your pillow talk with my father."
Lily's long-suffering expression doesn't falter. "I know it might seem hard for you to believe at this point, but I'm only trying to help you."
"You'll understand if I find that hard to believe," says Chuck. He turns to Blair and in a warmer voice says, "I've scheduled a meeting with an investor. Tell Serena I'll be by later."
He presses a delicate kiss to Blair's forehead and then leaves.
Lily watches him go. "I wish he'd listen. I've only ever been on his side. Blair, maybe if you talked to him..."
The last thing Blair needs is to play peacemaker between Chuck and his stepmother-turned-adopted-mother. "I really just want to see Serena."
Lily sighs again, but says, "Of course."
Serena looks smaller and frailer than Blair has ever seen her. She's seen her friend hit rock bottom before, of course, but this time feels different. Her skin is wan and pale, her hair dull, her face waxy. A wave of guilt washes through Blair - she should have been there. If she'd been there, she's almost certain she could have stopped this.
"B," Serena's smile is surprisingly bright, filling the room in an instant. Blair feels a rush of relief. Serena is still in there. She just needs to reach her.
"S," she says, taking the seat next to her. She reaches for Serena's hand and squeezes. "Hi."
Serena's hand squeezes back. "Did mom call you?"
Blair shook her head. "No, it was... it was Dan, actually."
Something flickers in Serena's eyes. "Dan. I didn't know you were on speaking terms."
"We're not," says Blair shortly.
Serena's smile falters. "Blair, I really am sorry for leaking your diary."
"It's already forgotten," says Blair. "You just focus on getting better. Deal?"
"Deal. I guess it worked out, didn't it? You and Chuck--”
Blair forces a wide smile. "We couldn't be happier."
"I'm glad, B."
After that, there doesn't seem to be much left to say. Blair holds Serena's hand and thinks of asking a hundred questions. How could Serena have let this happen? How long until she was released? But only silence fills the room.
They had been in their fair share of fights before - Blair is used to feeling so angry with Serena that she's literally wanted to claw Serena's eyes out. But this is different - she's never felt so stiffly formal and polite with her before.
She's not sure who's to blame for the sudden awkwardness between them - lord knows they'd been through a lot worse than leaked pages of her diary on gossip Girl. But Serena doesn't seem any more eager to break the silence than Blair.
The afternoon sun fades, bathing the room in an orange glow. Blair looks around - taking in the clinically white walls and drab decor. Clearing her throat, she says, "You can't possibly recover properly in a room like this. You at least need the latest issue of People."
"I don't need - " Serena begins.
"Of course you do," Blair cuts in. She leaps to her feet, moving around the room with calculating eyes. This is good. This is something she can do. "There's no reason why you can't recover from a drug overdose in style. You're Serena van der Woodsen."
"I really just want to go home, B," says Serena, suddenly small and frail again. She rolls over. "I think I need to avoid the spotlight for a little while."
"Well, no offence," says Blair, "but landing in the hospital after a drug overdose is not the best way to avoid the spotlight."
Serena sighs heavily. "Blair, I love you, but maybe come back tomorrow?"
Blair stares at Serena's back, trying to keep tears from welling. "Okay, S," she finally says, trying not to let on just how helpless she feels. "You get some rest."
She calls Dan from the parking lot.
"I just saw Serena," Blair explains quickly. "Can I come over?"
Dan's voice is weary, but he says, "Yeah. Of course."
Blair squeezes her eyes shut. "Thank you." And then, without thinking, adds, "I could really use a friend right now."
Dan hisses out a sharp breath, but only says, "I'll see you soon, Blair."
"Dan, I didn't mean..."
"I'll see you later, " Dan repeats firmly and then hangs up. Blair slowly lowers the phone, trying not to cry.
Blair thinks about texting Chuck on the way to Brooklyn, before deciding against it. Why create unnecessary drama? She does, however, keep an eye on Gossip Girl. It would be just her luck to be spotted in Brooklyn.
Her heart is pounding when she knocks on the door. She tries to tell herself she's worried about Serena, but deep down she knows she's nervous about seeing Dan again.
(What if he hates her? Or worse - feels nothing for her? What if he wants nothing more to do with her now that he knows what sort of person she really is?)
And then she's staring into his eyes, unprepared for the wave or relief and comfort that sweeps over her. He looks good, she decides. A little on the scruffy side, maybe, but he's cut his hair, thank god.
"Dan," she says and she's a little breathless. She clears her throat. "Can I come in?"
He opens the door wide and she steps into the loft. It's more cluttered than Blair remembers - Rufus has clearly moved back in. His stuff is squashed awkwardly back into places now occupied by Dan's things. Still the space is familiar, and Blair can't help but feel herself relax. She takes a seat on the couch, fingers idly playing with the hem of her dress.
Dan doesn't sit and she looks up to find him studying her - his eyes are dark and unreadable, even angry.
Blair hurriedly looks away. It's painful for him to look at her that way.
"Seeing Serena like that, it was awful," she says, trying to make her voice sound as light as possible. She could get them through this. If she pushed hard enough, Dan would have no choice but to be friends against. "How long was she...?"
"A few months," says Dan. He begins to pace. "To be honest I didn't spend much time thinking about Serena this summer. I had someone else on my mind."
Blair looks down at her hands. "Oh."
Dan sounds tired. "Blair, what are you doing here?"
"I was upset. I needed - "
"A friend. I know," says Dan.
"No," says Blair. "I needed you, Dan. You." She looks up at him. "It's... harder being without you than I ever imagined it could be."
Dan stops his pacing. "I'm not your boyfriend, Blair. I can't - won't be your shoulder to cry on. That's not my place anymore."
Blair nods mechanically. He's right. Deep down, she knows how unfair she's being.
"I guess I never anticipated how much I'd miss that shoulder." She tries to smile, to turn it into a joke, but Dan doesn't laugh.
"Where's Chuck?" he says. "Shouldn't you be with him?"
Blair shrugs. "Chuck barely notices me these days." Her voice turns bitter. "I'm only a game to him - something he thinks he has a right to own." She pauses. "But I'm the fool, aren't I? I let him back in. Every time."
"Blair." Dan sighs heavily and then drops down next to her. "You don't have to," he says. "You can be better than that. Better than him."
She shakes her head. "Every time I break free, he takes me over again. I should just give it up."
"That's the biggest bullshit I've ever heard. You're Blair Waldorf. When have you given up on anything?"
Blair feels tears well in her eyes and she wipes at them with the back of her hand. "Thanks," she whispers, trying to smile.
"You're welcome." He looks like he wants to say more, but then he drops his gaze, staring at his hands. "Blair... I don't want to fall back on old habits."
Blair rests a hand on one of his. He tenses but doesn't pull away.
"Old habits like me?"
She can't quite keep the hurt out of her voice and he sighs. "Denial might be your coping mechanism, but it's not mine. I can't just forget everything that happened between us and be your friend again."
Blair shifts closer to him and he turns his head to look at her, his eyes dark and wary.
"We were good together, weren't we?"
Dan swallows hard. "We were."
She closes the distance between them and presses her mouth to his. He stiffens but then deepens the kiss, one hand coming up to tangle in her hair. She leans into him, hands sliding up his arms and then encircling his neck.
He kisses her like he's drowning; like maybe she's a ghost that he'll never see again. His hands are everywhere - stroking her face, in her hair, down her back. And then he's pushing her back against the couch, body angling over hers and she gasps, nibbling lightly on his bottom lip.
He hisses out her name, "Blair" and then presses his body against hers. He's all hard planes and sharp angles. She tangles their legs together, grinding against him.
There's a muffle moan and then he presses his face into her neck, breathing hard. She strokes a hand through his hair, waiting for him to move again.
He doesn't. He raises his head to look at her and she knows what he's going to say before he says it.
"Shut up, Dan, just shut up," she says (she knows she's verging on hysterical but she is not going to let him ruin this). "Just let us have this," she whispers. "I need you."
She knows right away that she's said the wrong thing. His eyes shutter and then go slack and then he's picking himself up, shifting away until they're not longer touching. A blast of cool air hits her and Blair shivers.
"What's wrong?" she says. She can't keep her voice from wavering. Her mind is a cacophony of what did I do what did I do wrong why doesn't he want me.
Dan rests his elbows on his knees and turns to look at her, gaze sad and defeated. "Need isn't love," he says. He pauses. "Maybe we both fooled ourselves into thinking it could be."
She wants to protest. "Dan, it's not like that."
"Then what's it like?"
Blair swipes at a tear on her cheek. She wants him to understand. What she knows about love, she learned from being with Chuck - that it's about the pain, about fighting obstacles to be together. About how, even in her lowest and worst moments, she always knew that Chuck would love her. As she would love him. The problem is, they could never sustain it - she and Chuck are never good when they are actually trying to be together. And she isn't sure she wants to be trapped in their cycle of ChuckandBlair forever.
"I've just... I've loved Chuck for so long. I don't know how to be anything else." Her lip trembles. "All the years we've fought to be together... that has to mean something, doesn't it?"
He sounds sad, and a little judgmental, and she hastens to add, "It was so easy, you and me."
Dan snorts out something that might be a laugh. "Too easy?"
Blair shrugs a shoulder and looks away. She knows how absurd she sounds. "I'm trying to change. I am. Don't you think I know how messed up this all is? Chuck and I have never been able to make each other happy." She pauses and then says bitterly, "Even my powers of denial can only work for so long."
Dan rests a hand on top of hers. She squeezes at his fingers, a little desperately.
"Tell you what," he says, "when you manage to work it all out, you come and find me, okay?"
It's not quite a promise, but it's not quite not a promise either. And she knows that if she pushes him any further, she really will lose him forever.
She releases his hand and pushes herself to her feet. She can do this, she thinks. She's Blair Waldorf. She can do anything. She can get over Chuck.
"I will," she says.
It's not a promise but it's the closest they can get.