Love You Some Day

The Fire Below

Chapter Twenty-Four:

The Fire Below

In a few short hours, Blair was on Louis's private jet in the dark of night, heading for New York. He held her hand, as a reassurance that everything would be okay. Looking out at the black sky, Blair knew she should be sleeping, but anxiety built inside of her with every mile that took them closer to the city. Her thoughts were fractured; fear gripped her heart, she hoped that the accident was not horrible. There had been no details before she departed from Paris, the doctors were still performing test.

Blair turned away from Louis and tried to sleep in her seat; she knew she needed her strength. But behind closed eyelids, she saw Chuck. Was she strong enough? He would hear she was home, but after everything, she did not know what to expect from him: anger, sadness, indifference… happiness? Tired and frustrated, Blair shifted in her seat again; annoyed that she was even thinking of him. She focused her thoughts on being there for Serena and Blair realized then that she was not the same girl who left this island all those months ago.

The next morning, Chuck entered the hospital room and immediately froze. Blair was sitting at Serena's bedside- with Louis. Rage exploded inside of him.

"What is he doing here?" Vitriol dripped in his voice, his face twisted with disgust. To see Blair was one thing, but to have to face her with the Prince at her side; he could not control himself.

"Chuck, stop it. Without Louis, I could not have gotten here so quickly. We are here for Serena, so, shut up or get out." Her words were strong and solid, her face clear and unyielding against his anger.

Serena was awake, and she looked at him, giving him a weak smile. Blair's strength and candor was like nothing he had experienced before. She was always gentle with him or playful, but never had he seen her radiate such power. But he could not quell the riot of feelings inside of him.

"I'll perhaps get some… air." Chuck stormed off.

Serena turned to look back at her friend; exhaustion on her bruised and cut face, "Louis, may I speak with Blair for a few minutes?"

"Of course." He stood, giving the girls a small smile as he departed.

"Oh, S!" Blair hugged her friend's arm, afraid to truly touch her.

"I'll be fine, B. It wasn't such a bad car accident. I'll be home in a few days, and before you know it, we'll be at Bergdorf's together again! But you should know…" Serena waited for Blair to look at her, only then did she continue, "Chuck…"

"Serena, this isn't the time for talking about Chuck, you're hurt!" Blair half wailed.

She had not said anything to Blair all this time about them, never lectured her on any of it, and though the accident had not been so very severe, it put life in a different context for her. Serena missed her best friend and she saw so clearly how much Blair and Chuck cared about each other.

"So is he, B. My wounds will heal. What about yours? What about his? You two keep cutting each other as if it could make anything better. He's… changed." She watched Blair pull a face, "Don't get me wrong, he's still a giant stubborn Basshole, but the other day… no one knew. He gave me something, to give you, if I thought it was right…" Serena gestured towards her purse.

Blair ached at her friend's words but could not deny her request, moving to pick up the handbag. Her eyes felt hot as she watched Serena pull a folded sheet of paper from her wallet, "He has hope, Blair. After everything, he still hopes."

Serena forced the thick sheet of paper into Blair's hands. Her fingers felt awkward and numb as she unfolded it. Her eyes were unfocused as they ran across the page. The crest of St. Jude's School, Charles B. Bass… but the line above his name, she blinked her eyes several times, uncertain as she read it over: most improved student.

"I…" Blair could not process the implications, "It… doesn't mean anything; he still parties, drinks, does drugs, and screws anything in a skirt."

"Does he B? You've been in Paris for six months. He still parties and drinks, but," Serena laughed, "He, uh… he's not sleeping with anyone, that's for sure."

Blair was now even more stunned and confused, "What do you mean? And how do you even know these things?"

"You didn't know? We're the official 'we miss Blair Waldorf' fan club." Serena smiled, as much as she could without it hurting, "We drink together sometimes, and miss you."

Serena's smile became sad and Blair could see all the things they would never say on the phone; how much the one missed the other. But Serena rallied and continued on, "As for my meaning… after a few drinks too many, I found out Chuck developed… a problem, after seeing you at the opera in Paris."

"Problem?" Blair furrowed her brow and was not following her meaning.

"A… problem." Serena gave Blair a look, nodding her head.

"Oh my god!" A huge grin spread across Blair's face in slight disbelief, "No?"

"Yes. You broke him. He's been out of commission for over two months. Poor Chuck…" Serena shook her head, and then made a little grin, "Maybe you should help him with that?"

"Serena Celia van der Woodsen!"

"What? Louis is sweet, but Chuck… he has missed you, and he wants you so badly." Serena's voice was teasing, but she reached out and held Blair's hand, "I know you still love him. We're practically sisters, B. Lie to yourself if you want to, but I see it. And look into his eyes Blair, really look at him."

At that moment, there was a loud commotion outside the room and Blair went to see what it was.

Louis sat alone in the hall, feeling glad to have been able to help and be there for Blair. He was a little alarmed at Chuck's hostile behavior, to be so belligerent in front of company was bad enough, but to do so in a hospital, and in the presence of a traumatized person? It made him concerned that he would upset Blair more during this stressful time. She was already so upset about Serena; she hardly needed, what appeared to him, to be a jealous, lovesick boy in the mix.

While Serena and Blair were still talking, Chuck returned from his attempt to calm down. He saw Louis sitting outside the room and was instantly rankled once more. He walked up to Louis and looked down at him, his eyes cold, and his voice hard, "I know."

Louis stood at Chuck's accusation, "And what do you think you know? That I care about Blair? Any man who is lucky enough to know Blair is a fool to not care about her."

Fool. The words hurt in his ears. "And you think you know her? Because you walk with her and have taken her to a few parties?"

"I know I've never hurt her. I never humiliated her in front of everyone. I never broke her heart." Louis was succinct.

Chuck seethed with anger and grabbed Louis by his shirtfront. He gazed into the depths of the Prince's eyes, searching. He thought of the photos of Louis and Blair, recalled he had not been touching her, or holding her hand in the hospital room. With a cruel smirk, he called their bluff, "You don't love her either."

Louis stared back at him, his lips pursed together, "And you do?"

Blair opened the door at that moment and saw Chuck's hold on Louis, "Damnit, Chuck!"

Chuck let go, his expression instantaneously softening as he looked at Blair's face; she was furious with him, but it only served to make her more beautiful in his eyes. They were not in love. His heart leapt- they are not in love! Chuck's joy mixed with apprehension- and you do? His thoughts and feelings were a tangled mess as he stared into Blair's eyes. He swallowed hard; he had not been ready for any of this. So he turned and retreated to his suite, planning to see Serena later, after Blair had left, and he had time to think.

Blair and Louis sat and visited Serena awhile longer. Louis said nothing about what had happened in the hallway, though Blair tried to apologize for Chuck's behavior. Soon, they made their excuses. Blair was determined that she be a proper New Yorker and show Louis the city, starting with a picnic in Central Park.

Chuck paced in his suite for a few hours before he gave up. He could not sort out his own thoughts at all, he itched with excitement that Blair was back, but lost at what to do next. Everything felt off track. Desperate for some level of clarity, he left to return to the hospital. He brought Serena lunch, and upon entering her room, she smiled at him, "I wondered how long you would be."

"Oh, would you like me to leave? I guess I'll take all this delicious food with me…" Chuck half turned out the door.

"No! Don't go! I'm dying for real food… almost as much as you are dying to hear about Blair?" Serena chuckled. He turned around, a rueful look on his face as he sat down next to her, unpacking their lunch.

"I'm worried about you too, you know…" Chuck had been horrified when he had heard about the accident, "After all, I just got my first sister…"

"Thank you, Chuck." Serena patted his arm, still a bit disconcerted with being Chuck Bass' sister, "I know I will be fine. You, however… that is yet to be seen."

Chuck frowned, "She's here with that damned Prince… and I haven't even…" he sighed, running a hand through his hair.

Serena shook her head as she stole some food from his plate, a small smile on her face, "Oh, stop it, Chuck. There has been one big question you haven't answered this entire time. What do you want?"

"Blair." It flew from his lips without hesitation. It was all he wanted. To be with her, to make her smile, to feel her little hand in his, to hear her laugh at him, her body pressed against his… Oh, how he wanted her… all of her.

"I know that!" Serena groaned, pushing him, "Why, Chuck? Why is she different from every other girl you've ever been with? Why does Blair being with Louis bother you so much?"

His heart ached; he remembered seeing Louis kiss Blair, causing his feelings to fly from sadness to anger. She was different because… he recalled that last night they shared in Paris in November, the intimacy of it. The thought that she might share such a night with someone else pressed on his heart and made him crazy with jealousy; he half shouted in desperation the feeling he had refused to name, "Because I love her!"

Serena leaned back into her pillows, a little smile on her lips as she watched Chuck's face when he realized what he said. There was a quick flash of horror, but mostly it was sadness, his eyes hollow. She reached down and squeezed his hand, "I know, Chuck. I'm glad you know now, too," Serena gave a deep sigh, unabashedly changing the subject, "It is so lovely out. What I wouldn't give to stroll through the park today!"

The look on her face, the little grin she had- said it all and Chuck did not need to be told twice. He squeezed Serena's hand back and left her to enjoy the rest of her lunch. He headed straight for Central Park.

It truly was a lovely day out as he ambled through the park, enjoying the beauty of it all, wondering what he was doing- what he was even looking for? He heard the sound of music in the distance, and found himself walking towards it. A meadow opened before him, and there was a large group of people dancing while others were picnicking on the outskirts of the improvised dance floor. His eyes instantly fell on Louis offering his hand to Blair as she stood from the blanket she had been resting on.

Chuck hotly followed them as they merged with the throng of dancers, his mind straining to place the music as he stood in the crowd, watching Blair smile up at Louis as he held her. They were about to whirl past him when Louis spun her out and suddenly Blair's delicate hand was outstretched towards him, even though her eyes were locked on Louis. It was impulsive- greed and jealously welling up in his chest. Chuck grabbed her hand, pulling her away from Louis and into his arms.

Shocked, Blair let go of Louis' hand as she turned to see who was swiftly pulling her away from the Prince. Her heart pounded violently in her chest as her eyes met with those deep pools of caramel and gold she had fought so hard to forget. Her most vivid memories could not do justice to the feel of him, the warmth of his body, or the depths in his eyes as he enveloped her. Blair's chest tightened with pain at the feel of his hands on her, the heat from them burning through the fabric of her dress, rousing the recollection of so many touches, kisses, and the feel of her body joining with his. The lyrics of the song began, and instantly her heart ached, forcing her to turn away from the intensity of his gaze.

He loves, and she loves

And they love, so why can't

You love, and I love, too?

Blair felt even more perfect in his arms than in the dreams that haunted him in the darkness of night. He felt a warmth and contentment holding her that he had not felt since… His heart swelled recalling all the happiness they had once shared, hoping he could desperately find a way to push and pull the chasm between them closed.

In an attempt to shut the sound of the songs lyrics from her ears, Blair spoke, still avoiding his gaze. "You interrupted my dance with the Prince."

"I thought he could spare you for one dance with an old friend." Chuck's mouth felted dry, tasting bitter as he spoke the word they had once tried to hide behind.

"Were we even that, Chuck?" There was a sting in her voice as she said it. She would run from him if only it would not cause a scene.

He tilted his head down, his mouth grazing the shell of her ear as he whispered, "We were so much more than that. If only you hadn't left…"

Blair pushed him away, placing a respectable distance between them once more. Her face was a cold mask, but fury burned in her eyes, "If I hadn't left?"

"You left me here. You left me in Paris. You have no idea what you have done. None at all, because you never stop running long enough to see me." His coolness matched hers, but his heart was furious and the words felt thick in his throat.

"How could I bear to look at you after that night? At what you became when you broke my heart?" The sun, which had been so pleasantly warm before, was becoming incredibly hot. Chuck's intimate proximity combined with the heat of their painful memories, all making Blair's head spin.

Chuck's grasp on Blair tightened, "That was almost six months ago," he nearly growled as he spoke. She looked up at him, her expression matching his fury and pain, all pushing him to continue, "I know… that night…"

He shook his head, shaking away the pain and the memories, "But you haven't seen me, and after all that time, with the Atlantic Ocean between us… was nothing against your power."

Blair felt her world tilting, and closed her eyes as he reverently brought his hand to her face, his fingers lightly caressing her cheek. The pounding in her ears became louder, and suddenly, Chuck was no longer holding her, moving them in perfect circles across the meadow. Her eyes snapped open and the loud noise she heard was applause- the song had ended. Glancing up at Chuck, she saw a sad softness in his eyes as he gave her a small smile before turning and walking away.

Chuck had to walk away. Today had been full of so many emotions, and this encounter with Blair had been too much. He could no longer ignore that secret thought he had kept quiet in the deepest darkest corner of his mind these past months. Even with the painful words and furious looks, in these past few minutes with Blair… he had felt more complete and alive than he had in over six months. His life, without Blair Waldorf, was no life at all.

After Chuck's little stunt in the park, Blair politely feigned a headache to Louis, though she was certain he knew what her true problem was. When Chuck had pulled Blair away from him, he was shocked; not only from the bold action, but the look on Chuck's face. The intense longing and desire on his face was not something he had expected to see. So he stood in the crowd, and observed the pair.

Louis had been curious to see them together after all Blair had told him these past months. Though the conversation hardly looked to be a pleasant one, the energy between them was palpable as they danced. When Chuck had abruptly left her, the shock and heartache on her face was plainly obvious, and Louis was hardly surprised by her desire to return home after that- headache, or no.

Back home, Blair took a cold shower, trying to cool herself and the fury that was consuming her. It was the most they had spoken in months, and the upset on his face, his sadness, it all roiled her. How dare he! She thought. How dare he act like a wounded puppy! He was the one that broke my heart!

Blair angrily yanked her dresser drawer open to change. She instantly blanched, forgetting she was not in Paris, and her luggage was still packed. All the lingerie Chuck has lavished her with now lay before her. It felt like a swift kick in the chest as the air rushed from her lungs in a gasp. She sat back on her bed and dropped her head in her hands. I should not still love him. He doesn't love me.

A little part of her felt sorry for him, and she laughed for a moment, recalling what Serena had told her: Chuck developed a… problem. Blair had trouble believing she had ever truly hurt the great Chuck Bass, however that she had dented his armor was quite satisfying. But she needed to be done with this game. She had a good life in Paris and it might never be safe for her to be near Chuck.

Standing, Blair reached into the very back of the lingerie drawer. Grasping silk and boning, she smiled. Check… and mate.

As Chuck returned to his suite, his phone buzzed. Opening it, he groaned at the sender ID before his eyes fell to the image and then read the accompanying text.

Our Princess has returned!

And with a real Prince to boot.

We hear in France she has become a proper Queen.

Yet, as Temp02 snapped in the park,

It appears that this Queen

May have lost her King.

You know you love me,

xoxo

Gossip Girl

His feelings were tattered and raw as he cursed at his phone. Someone had taken a photo of him walking away from Blair in the park. The look on her face… He could not think or feel one more thing today. Pulling the blinds shut he sat on the sofa, scotch in hand staring into nothingness.

His eyelids felt heavy halfway through steadily drinking the contents of the carafe on the coffee table and he was more than happy to sink into the darkness that was awaiting him. A deep sleep, no dreams, or images, or memories of…

The door to his suite clicked. His head lolled to the side to witness the strange phenomenon of someone entering his room without knocking. Without knocking, the thought clattered through his mind at the same time his eyes registered the curious sight. He sighed heavily at the resplendent image of Blair Waldorf in his doorway.

His eyes raked over her in tall black pumps, sheer black stockings, and a dark blue silk trench coat wrapped around her. Then he stared at the whiteness of the long expanse of her neck exposed by her upswept hair. If he was dreaming or hallucinating, his imagination was becoming far too good.

Blair paused when she opened the door. She had not expected Chuck to be sitting on the sofa, but rather hidden away in his room, like he had always been in the past. His face was devoid of emotion, his eyes were dark, and his hair was disheveled from raking his hands through it one too many times. Yet, in spite of all his darkness, she was pulled to him, her skin grew hot with the memory of his touch, and the knowledge she would feel it again soon.

Walking to him, she watched as he laid his glass of scotch down and leaned back against the sofa, his eyes following her until she stood before him. "Chuck."

He gazed up at her, his eyes drawn to her mouth, painted a siren red. He imagined smearing the redness from them as he watched her lips move, speaking his name. Blair was pulling open the silky coat, and Chuck feared he had stopped breathing as it slithered to the floor. Red silk with black details clung to her torso and pushed her breasts up until they nearly spilled over: it was the corset she had never worn for him. His cock was hard and aching in his trousers; if this was a game, Chuck knew he had already lost.

Blair only smiled at the expression on his face when her coat had dropped away. She would cure Chuck's problem, and in turn, hopefully, her own. Her incredibly tall heels slipped away and she straddled his lap, her hands holding his face, she kissed him as her hips settled against his. Her hands slid slowly down his chest as she opened the buttons of his dress shirt.

He felt his eyes roll back before her lips had even crashed into his. His hands grasped her waist, forcing her body closer to his. She smelled like heaven, tasted like perfection, and he felt he would dissolve in the feel of her.

Breaking the kiss, Chuck shrugged off his shirt and Blair's hands dropped to unfasten his trousers. Blair felt her chest heaving inside the corset with wild anticipation. She wanted him so badly and she hated him for it- that it had to be him that would make her feel this way! She could have had such a different life if she was not so in love with him. Shoving his trousers and underwear away, she looked at him with fire in her eyes, "I could have been a Princess."

He made a small laugh, his eyes as fiery as hers, "Because that's what you want?" Pulling the pointless scrap of black lace aside, in his mix of lust and fury it snapped, and he tore it away before shoving all the way into her, making her scream with pleasure.

Blair's nails sank into the muscle of his shoulders as her back arched and she cried out. She rode him at a demanding pace, and came shamefully fast and hard, panting his name. Completion- the thought pulsed through her as his body met with hers.

Chuck devoured the sight before him, his head swimming with pleasure. His lust overwhelmed him, and he shoved her back onto the heavy wooden coffee table, his tumbler and the half-empty carafe of scotch knocked to the floor, shattering. There was nothing in his life comparable to fucking her; even memories of it were incredibly insufficient to the real thing. She clung to him as he ruthlessly pounded into her every ounce of his frustration. Frustration for leaving him, for denying him, for making him feel, for being all he ever wanted. Her nails scratched his back and he yelled as he came, pouring into her… into Blair, with all the unobtainable relief he had been seeking for months.

It took several minutes for the haze of sexual bliss to clear and Chuck to pull away. It was done. She had fixed his problem. She gave into him, letting his passion burn her, and now, it could finally be over. The hooks and eyes of the corset dug into her back as she sat up from the table. Chuck was watching her as she reached for her coat. His hand grabbed her arm, "You didn't expect to be leaving already?"

Blair tilted her head, "Well, your little problem is all better now, isn't it?"

"My problem?" His eyes were hard as he realized that Serena must have told her. He pulled the coat from her hand, banishing it once more to the floor, "If only that was my problem."

His hands wrapped around the corset, and with expert skill, he popped it open and let it drop away. Drinking in the sight of her naked body at last, he touched the curves he desired so much. She shivered and he looked into her wide eyes and shook his head. Grabbing her hand, he took her to the window, pulling the blinds open. The sun was setting over New York and the city was golden. He looked back at Blair, "I could have any of that. Mine to choose from, to discard as I please."

Chuck's hand clasped around her neck, forcing her head up so he could stare into those pools of deep brown, "But none of it matters now. None of it."

He shoved her back against the cold glass, pining her there as he pulled her up, burying himself in her once more without any warning. Taking her a second time did not diminish anything. His lust, the feel of her, his need, how much he wanted her, all burned brightly. He listened to her breath shudder, softly crying his name. She tightened around him in her pleasure, and he felt her little mouth on his collarbone, her teeth sinking into him as she whimpered. His eyes rolled back into his head, groaning deeply as he came again.

Blair's legs were shaky as she stood, leaning back against the window. Chuck was still panting as he stared out on the city. She leaned her head back, closing her eyes a moment. There was a battlefield littered with raw emotions between them. It was going to be a long night.

Chuck lifted his eyes to look at her beautiful face, bitter with the thought that she would leave; leave this room, leave New York, leave him- any of them, it did not matter, just that she would leave because she wanted something that was not him. He stood upright, "Time to go home to your pretty little Prince yet? The one you don't love?"

Her eyes snapped open when he spoke. She pushed herself away from the window and stared up at him, her eyes cold. He stared back, his gaze unyielding, and she became furious that he would say such a thing- that he dared even mention love in front of her. The sound cracked through the air. Her hand stung. He was shocked and his wide jaw line was flushed red. But she saw it again; that look in his eyes she had seen before he had left her in the park earlier. Blair grabbed his hair, pulling him down to her so she could kiss him. Dragging him towards his bedroom, she gasped, "Again."

They passed the night in his bed- a complicated dance of pushing and pulling, passing out only to wake and do it once more. They fucked so much, Chuck inwardly grinned at the thought of his seed pouring out of her for days, their bruises not healing for weeks, and her nails possibly having scarred his back permanently.

Blair hoped to find that point where she would be satisfied. She would have enough and she could feel safe from his temptation. Yet, when the last round ended and sleep finally took them captive, exhaustion found her curled up in his arms, a small smile on her lips as she listened to his heart beating.

Chuck roused to the sensation of something pressing against his chest. Warmth radiated from it and he realized it was someone lying in his arms. He moaned a little, thinking it had just been another failed night with a prostitute. He leaned his head against hers; this girl used the same shampoo as Blair... Blair! Opening his eyes he saw it was indeed her and his heart ached. He slowly pulled himself from his bed and standing, he looked down at her, raking a hand through his hair. There was nothing as wonderful as what he was feeling now, having her here with him. But... Last night. The air in his room was thick with the smell of sex and he needed to breathe, focus his thoughts. Focus his feelings.

Pulling on some clothes, he quietly left his suite. Yesterday had been such a whirlwind from the moment he saw Blair. Because I love her... Could he do it though? Could he be that guy? He thought on the past year and the adventure it had been... because of her. Life was more- meant more, with her at his side. But they had been so awful to each other last night. How could that have been a good thing? Maybe that was her point in coming to him? So she could find a way to hate him. How could she care that he was in love with her?

These thoughts circled in his head and he decided he would not return to his suite. Reaching into his pocket to call Arthur, he realized he had left his phone in his room. Hopefully, she would still be asleep and he could come and go without her knowing, then, she could leave without seeing him again. He felt fragmented and exhausted as the elevator climbed higher and higher.

Blair stretched out in bed as she stirred- not her bed. Nervous, she peaked her eyes open. The Palace? And like that, it all hit her. But where was Chuck? Slipping from the bed she looked into the living area- gone. That made her nervous, more nervous than if he had been here. Mine to choose from, to discard as I please... Perhaps he was being kind? Making it easy for her to be discarded without him saying it to her face.

Her thighs were slick with him, and she bit her lip as to not sob. He was doing the right thing... this had to end once and for all. Blair opened the drawer where she knew he had once kept the underwear he had taken from her. Opening it she was not surprised to find it all still there, but a thick folder had been added to the collection, the corner of a photo sticking out. Chuck was not here, so she could take a quick look, right? Flipping it open, there were photos of her... in France. Blair dropped it back into the drawer. Fuck her panties, she could not... He… Why would he have such a thing? Her mind spun.

He had been having her followed. She pulled it open again and flipped through the pages, staring at the dates. Since about the time she had left for Paris. Oh Chuck... They were so damaged. She wanted love and he had no words and a PI. Blair sighed, rubbing her eyes then pushing the drawer closed. She had to leave. A quick shower and it could all finally be over.

When Chuck returned, he heard the water running in his bathroom. Blair was already up. Part of him felt guilty for leaving her alone and he slipped off his loafers in an attempt to keep quiet. He pushed the door open out of curiosity, wanting one last glimpse. He swallowed hard as he took in the sight of her naked under the cascade of water. Months… it had been months since she had been here, like this. The various memories of her in his shower flashed in his mind. He had not realized how much it was all killing him until now. Time and space had magnified her allure, her pull, and in turn, his need of her.

Pure temptation dragged him across the bathroom and he pulled the shower door open. All these feelings- all the things he had struggled with came from her. She had made him a broken man and he now wanted to break her body. His arms clasped around her waist under the falling water and pulled her back flush to his chest. He heard her gasp.

"Chuck," She turned in his arms to brace herself against him, "You're still dressed; what are you doing?"

He did not answer her with words. His kiss was rough and bruising- hot and insistent. His fingers dug into her back as the water soaked his clothing, making it heavy, clinging to his skin.

Blair felt that fire burn inside her, his touch flaming out, spiraling through her body. Her hands slid down his wet shirt and pulled his pants open. She moaned, covering for a small sob that caught in her throat as she remembered their first night together, in this very shower:

What… was that?

That… was what you do to me.

His lips were crushing against hers as she grasped his cock, so hot in her hand, she stroked him, making him growl. His hands moved from her waist to wrap around her arms. Still kissing her, he shoved her, hard into the tiled wall. Her mouth jolted away from his as she gasped for breath.

"You broke me, Blair." It was cold as it hit her ears, but she heard a cry of desperation threaded through it.

"And you twisted me, Chuck."

Her eyes glimmered darkly at him, and he grabbed her thigh, forcing it up and back as his other hand cupped her sex, his fingers pulling her open, his hips coming forward. The head of his cock nestled there for a sublime moment before the shaft of his hardness was buried to the hilt inside of her. She trembled, her eyes rolled back, and she panted hard. He drank in the sight of her pleasure. But he snapped- you twisted me.

"No!" He gritted, pulling out, he stepped back away from her. His blood was roaring in his ears, pounding through his veins with this madness she caused in him. But he had to fight it- he had to.

Blair crumpled to the ground, the loss of his heat and hardness taking her strength with him. Her eyes fluttered open to see him getting out of the shower. She seethed with need and anger, staggering to her feet. She stepped out of the shower right behind him, reaching out and snagging the back of his shirt. As he turned to try and escape, she knelt down, pulling his cock into her mouth before he even knew what was happening.

He let out a low groan at the feel of her; his head swam. He reached to grasp something but there was nothing as his legs twitched. Blair reached up with her hands, digging her nails into his hips. Chuck shook, groaning, and finally dropped to his knees. She pushed him back against the floor and climbed astride him.

A happy sigh of completion escaped her lips as he filled her body. Her hips jerked at the overwhelming feel of him. Chuck's hands came to wrap around her waist as she began to rock on him. His grip became tighter and she gasped a small cry as he ground her body against him. Harder… faster, he pushed her, pulled her. He was going to break her; she was coming apart in his hands. Tears bloomed in the corner of her eyes, her nails clawed at his chest as she cried out his name, her climax laced with sorrow, loss, and pain.

He only shook her harder, roaring and slamming his hips up into hers as he spilled his agony. Blair quickly wiped her tears away before he could see them, and she stood, shakily walking to the bedroom. She had to hold herself together- she had to leave; it was all over now.

Chuck laid there for several moments, cold and alone, the deep pools of his eyes matte and vacant. When he rose, he shed his wet clothes. Quickly dressing into clean dry trousers, he found Blair in the living room, wrapping the trench coat around her body. "Blair…"

She gave him a small smile and walked over to him. She reached up and cupped his face, "Chuck."

On her tiptoes, she leaned up and kissed him so tenderly. She pulled her mouth away, but kept her face close to his, staring into his eyes. She held him there, fixing him to the center of her universe, "I love you, Chuck."

His body jerked at the electricity of her words, and though she had paused, she did not stop there.

"I will always love you. You were my first… my first everything. Did you even know you were my first kiss?" Blair made a small laugh. "You'll always be a part of me, always in my heart. I hope…" she felt the tears threatening and she forced the last words out, "I hope you'll be able to love someone… some day."

She could have said more, she wanted to. But the heartache was too much, she had been true to herself- to him, and now she had to be strong, it was time to leave. She grabbed her clutch and flew through the door, fleeing from The Palace and all the happiness it held for her.

When she let go of his face and turned, Chuck collapsed onto the sofa behind him. It was the second time she had said those words to him. And he failed again. His mind was hazy and he tried to focus on the other words she had spoken. He was confused, it all sounded so strange, until he replayed the last line in his mind. "I hope you'll be able to love someone... some day."

She had given up on him. Blair was done running- she had come to love him and say goodbye for good. His mind turned and turned, his heart pounding, he thought, but I love you… today.

Chuck stood, his face set; he was determined. There was work to be done.

Blair hid in her room all day. She called Serena to talk, but just knew if Serena saw her face, there would be no avoiding her questions. She hid behind her awful headache, and said she would visit again tomorrow, before she left to go back to France. After all, she still had to finish her classes before her vacation could begin.

Louis returned in the evening to pick Blair up for the opera. He found her sitting at her vanity fixing her immaculate hair. He smiled, "I am glad you are feeling better."

She smiled back at him, "I am! I think the stress of Serena's accident and the traveling was a bit much for me." She stood as she spoke, and reached up to adjust his bow tie.

"Blair…" He watched her closely.

"Hmm…" She continued to fidget with his bow tie a moment longer.

He slipped his phone from his pocket and held it up to her.

A Queen fleeing from The Palace,

In less than royal attire.

Is she running to the arms of her Prince?

Or running from the bed of her King?

He may rule over the underworld,

But what does that matter,

If he rules over your passion… and your heart?

You know you love me,

xoxo

Gossip Girl

Blair audibly huffed at the image of her bolting from The Palace that morning, and its disturbingly accurate text. She stepped back from Louis, clad in a purple gown that glowed against her porcelain skin, her ears, neck, and wrists dripping with pink and white diamonds, and her pouting mouth pink, sparkling and shining with gloss. "What do you want me to say?"

"I've only ever asked you to be honest with me, as a friend," Louis replied.

"I went to say goodbye. I… owed him that much." Blair held her head high as she spoke.

"And?" Louis knew there was more.

"I gave him what I owed him. And I was true and honest to myself, my feelings. I said..." Her strong countenance wavered a little, "That I will always love him."

"Blair…" Louis smiled at her, proud that she had admitted this… and not just to herself, "What did he say?"

"I…" She furrowed her brow here. "I said I hope he might feel that way about someone… some day. And left."

He sighed, and shook his head at her. "Oh, Blair…"

His dismissiveness vexed her and she bit back, "You weren't there, Louis. You didn't see how awful we were with one another. So much hurt, and anger. He wasn't even there when I woke up. There is no love in him!" Her last words choked out of her mouth.

Louis wrapped his arms around her, "Shhh… I just think, maybe just once you should have not run so quickly." He chuckled a little.

"I just… wanted it to be over. No more peonies… no more secretly hoping for… something." Her breath shuddered, "This summer… Serena and I can hide in the Hamptons, or… go somewhere, anywhere. And in the autumn, I can be back in Paris with you, and Papa…"

"Only if that is what you truly want, Blair. I can survive losing such a good friend if it means she isn't losing her heart." He was sincere saying this, as he looked into her eyes. She gave him her best attempt at a smile.

"Come… we can't be late to the opera." She diverted all this seriousness as she pulled him out of her room.

Blair leaned her head against Louis' shoulder as the third scene of Turandot opened. Nessun Dorma always made her cry, though, she thought it probably made most women cry. She excitedly anticipated the solo nonetheless, for the sweep of emotions it caused. When we fall in love, we hear Puccini in our heads…. She sighed. She had not cried all day after she had left Chuck. But now she could and she longed for the release of it in response to the sweet sound of the orchestra and the tenor's voice.

The box that had been vacant next to them all evening was abruptly occupied by a gentleman and a sultry looking, leggy blonde. The gentleman turned to Blair and she sat bolt upright. Chuck. Only he would show up in the last act of the opera. His presence instantly irritated her and she desperately did not want him to ruin her favorite moment of the night.

Chuck smiled as he saw Blair exit her seat from the corner of his eye. The tenor had just taken center stage and begun to sing his solo; he felt he could not have orchestrated this moment any better. He stood and left to find her.

Blair was pacing in the hallway, her emotions overflowing from the undeniable beauty of the music, but she could not calm the bitterness she felt from Chuck being here, with some tasteless woman. She stopped pacing a moment and laughed a little to herself remembering l'Opera Garnier; was he determined to ruin opera for her for life?

He came up behind her, "Blair."

She whirled on the spot, "Chuck. You shouldn't leave your date unaccompanied."

"She's not my date. I brought her because I knew it would upset you, so I could talk to you."

"Then, I should go back to Louis," she bit back, upset to have not seen through his ploy.

"No, you shouldn't. You should stay right here, with me." Chuck took her hand in his, watching sadness pass over her beautiful face. He stepped closer to her, and tilted her chin up, so she might look into his eyes. His heart beat wildly; it beat for her. "You once told me, when we fall in love, we hear Puccini in our heads."

Blair stiffened under his touch, and between him, the music, what he was saying, it was too much, and tears began to gather in her eyes.

"Blair," he smiled, "I think I must be living in one of Puccini's operas, because every day I wake- every day I see you, I hear Puccini, walk through a Manet painting, and feel I could write greater poetry than Keats, or Shakespeare, because…" he paused as he drank in the sight and feel of her, his whole body tingling with happiness.

"Chuck…" She gasped as a tear streamed down her cheek, the joy of it all too much to bear. He pulled her towards him, the most beautiful smile in the world on his face.

"I love you."

The music swelled around them as they kissed. Blair was crying, yet laughing too, out of the incredible bliss she felt as he held her, as they kissed. I love you.

They held hands as they flew from Lincoln Center, the night was only beginning for these lovers; their lives were only beginning.

~Fin~

AN: It only makes sense that this story ends with my beginning. The Fire Below by The Very Last Valkyrie; I love you my dear.

Given that the epilogue has its on special dedication, I will take the end of this chapter, with its wild range of emotions and beautiful I love you's, and dedicate it to you- every single one of my readers. It has been an incredible journey for me, and part of that was because of you. I met many of you on forum boards, others on Tumblr, or here through reviews. But even if you are one of my many quiet readers who only show up as a tick on the story's stat report, you have made this story the most amazing creative experience of my life- so far -_^

Thank you.

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