The bathroom was dark, quiet, empty. The tile was cold and hard against her bare legs. She leaned against the hard wall of the bathtub, staring at the ceiling, seeing nothing, thinking nothing, not in particular. It had been a long night -- most nights were long these days. Not long, she thought. Never ending.
This wasn’t the first time, and as many times as he said that it would never happen again, she knew it wouldn’t be the last. He had proclaimed tonight would be the last time, as he had a hundred times over. At first, she had believed him. He was angry, he had lost his temper, he was sorry, he would make it up. She didn’t believe him anymore. Not anymore. He was a monster, plain and simple. He hurt her because he could, because he wanted to. She let him. Because he loved her.
Because he loved her.
For the first time in a long time, she felt the urge to make herself sick. It had been a long time since she had purged – a long time ago, someone had made her feel beautiful, and she had stopped. She didn’t feel beautiful, she didn’t feel in control. Because you aren’t, bitch, she thought. She winced at her own thoughts, or maybe from the bruise blooming on her left hip, where he had pushed her up against the dresser so hard her vision went black. Black and blissful, there was no feeling when the stars burst in her eyes. She was thankful when the stars came because she didn’t have to think, didn’t have to feel.
Blair Waldorf is weak -- Gossip Girl is still right, she thought bitterly. In spite of herself she chuckled softly thinking of the memory – the night she decided to stop being weak. How the hell did I end up here?
Her own soft laughter brought her out of her own thoughts, and she looked at her phone, which had been discarded on the floor. It was almost 3am. She realized she needed to go to sleep. There was another pointless gala tomorrow, a pointless gala where she was expected to show her face, be perfect, be ladylike, be charming -- be Blair Waldorf. She dragged herself in a standing position and stared at herself in the mirror. Who she saw was not Blair Waldorf. Not anymore. Being in love had drained her of her life force completely, and all that looked back at her from mirror was an empty shell of who she used to be. She stared into her own lifeless brown eyes, saw how limp and lustless her hair seemed now, and she wanted to cry. But she couldn’t, and she hadn’t in a while. Instead, she started building her mask. It was harder these days, when she had so much more to hide.
A soft knock came at her bathroom door and she jumped. She had thought she was alone.
“Blair?” came a soft, sorrowful voice. “Are you in there? I’m sorry.”
“I know,” she replied quickly. “I’ll be out in a moment, I’m just finishing up getting ready for bed.”
“I love you, Blair,” he said softly through the door.
She flinched at the words, and stared at herself harder in her mirror. Push it down. Barricade. Smile, darling. And she smiled into the mirror. She thought it was convincing enough. “I’m coming, Louis. Just give me a few more minutes, ok?”
“Hurry up, please. I miss you, Blair.”
An unsteady breath left her body. Miss me? MISS ME? You HIT me. Again. “I’m coming, my love.”
One more look into the mirror to check that her mask was still in place, and she opened the door to meet Louis, smile intact.
She awoke early, as she usually did, just as the first rays of sunlight were beginning to brim over New York. Her head and body ached, and her mouth felt dry. She looked to the body next to her in bed and sighed. Every day she woke up, and hoped the form would change, would be someone different. It never changed. It was never anyone different than Louis. Her Prince.
As he slept soundly, she quietly got out of bed and tip-toed to the bathroom -- her private sanctuary -- silently closing and locking the door. In her sanctuary, she took off the slip she was wearing and studied herself in the mirror, looking for new bruises she would have to cover for tonight. As far as she was aware, Princesses did not bruise. Or at least, they covered them with makeup. Right?
It was better than she could have hoped for. She had many bruises, but all were clustered around her ribcage, abdomen, and thighs. There were none on her face or on her upper body. He had been kind this time.
She turned on the shower and let it run until it fogged up her mirror -- until she could no longer see herself. She stepped inside and let the scorching water rain down on her body, burning her, cleansing her of the horrible piece of her that made Louis hate her so much. Cleansing her of the pain. She turned her face up into the shower, and the scorching water ran over her face, like the burning tears that couldn’t come from her own eyes.
“Hey, S!” Blair said into her phone as she applied last minute touches to her makeup.
“Hey, B!” Serena practically screamed into the phone. “Are you almost here!? The party is so much fun!”
“Sounds like, S. Open bar?” Blair asked, bemused.
“Chuck Bass is here, so obviously it’s an open bar!” Serena giggled into the phone. “You know he wouldn’t come unless there was a promise of scotch!”
Blair’s stomach dropped. She felt sick. Nervous. Nauseous. Scared. “Oh, Chuck’s there?” she asked nonchalantly.
“Of course, silly. Maybe he and Louis can bond tonight and you and I can let loose, have some fun? We never have fun anymore, B. We barely see each other anymore!” Serena whined.
“Perhaps,” Blair said distractedly. This was bad. Very bad. The first time Louis had hurt her it had been because of Chuck. He didn’t like the way she talked to him, her friendship with him, their connection. It was because of Chuck she had been punished for the first time. Every time. Louis hated Chuck, therefore he hated her. She glanced around the room, and realized that Louis was in the bathroom, still in the shower. If I made you late you would beat me up, but it’s alright when you do it, right? Of course.
Grabbing her phone, she left the room and went out into the hallway, pressing the number 1 on her speed dial, barely thinking. He picked up after 2 rings.
“Waldorf, to what do I owe this pleasure?” he drawled.
“Chuck, where are you right now?” she whispered.
“I’m at the gala…I thought you knew? Serena said you were coming…” he trailed off, obviously confused.
“Chuck. Please listen to me. I need you to leave. Please,” Blair heard nothing but silence, and she wondered if the call had dropped. “Chuck?” she whispered again. Finally, she heard a deep sigh, she knew he was still there, struggling with what to say.
“Blair,” he said softly. “Are you ok? You sound…You don’t sound like you,” he finally said.
“Oh? And what do I normally sound like?” She asked, growing irritated.
“Not like this,” he said softly. “You sound scared. Blair….”
She cut him off. “I’m Blair Waldorf. I’m not scared, of anything or anyone. Just leave, Bass. Just leave.”
“No,” he said in the same soft tone he had used throughout their whole conversation. “I’m not leaving, Blair, until you tell me why I need to.”
She flinched at his words, realizing she had used the word “need.” Goddammit. “Please,” she whispered once more, realizing she was begging. “Please.”
“Chuck, I’m asking you for one thing,” her voiced trembled as she spoke, “Please leave. Please.” As she was speaking, she heard Louis call for from inside their room. “Chuck,” she whispered, “I have to go. Please listen to me. Goodbye.” She hurriedly closed her phone and went back to Louis, mask intact.
“Blair? Blair?!” It was no use. She had hung up on him. Something in his gut was screaming that something wasn’t right. This wasn’t the Blair he knew. She was begging him to leave a society gala without reason. Something was incredibly wrong. And like hell if he was going to leave without finding out what. Taking a deep breath and gulp of scotch he opened his phone again and texted the only other person who really knew Blair. S. Something up with B? I’m at the bar. He hit send and took another gulp of scotch. It burned all the way down but he barely noticed.
Serena was obviously heavily intoxicated when she sat down next to Chuck at the bar. “What’s up with B?” She almost yelled.
“Quiet down, Serena. Jesus. Drink some water. Yes, B,” Chuck softened. “What’s going on with her? She called me earlier tonight, begging me to leave. Something’s not right with her, Serena.” He looked into Serena’s eyes, even though they were glazed over. She sobered slightly, considering his words.
“I know,” she said softly. “I just don’t know what, Chuck. She’s shutting me out,” she slurred. “Have you seen her tonight? She’s supposed to be here?”
“No, I haven’t. But she begged me to leave and I told her I wouldn’t. So maybe she’s not coming.” He would never admit it, but the thought of seeing her again excited him so much. But she wasn’t coming. In his disappointment, he finished off his scotch in one gulp and ordered another. It was time to get drunk. Time to get obliterated – the way he felt every time he remembered Blair was engaged to someone else. Fucking obliterated.
“There’s my girl now!” Serena shouted, just as Chuck was planning on getting as drunk as humanly possible. “B!” Serena shrieked, “Blair!”
Blair turned her head at hearing her name being screamed. And Chuck saw it. It was quick, imperceptible to most human eyes, but he saw it. Pure, absolute misery right before it turned it a fake smile for Serena. His heart plummeted. Something was horribly wrong, he just didn’t know what.
She ignored him, which didn’t surprise him. She had begged him to leave. But he couldn’t. Chuck pulled out his phone and sent her a text.
B, what’s wrong? Talk to me.
Nothing. Why would you think anything was wrong?
You begged me to leave. Why? You don’t seem like you, B. I’m worried.
I’m fine, Bass. Leave me alone
Hey, B. Still not leaving. I’ll always be here.
Chuck smirked as he hit send on the last text. He felt his stomach and heart clench at the same time. He knew Blair better than he knew himself. But right now, she wasn’t his Blair. He didn’t know what she was thinking or feeling, just based on the look in her eyes. He looked at her from across the room. He studied her. She was stunning in a form-fitted black dress, her brown curls cascading down her back – she was beautiful. Absolutely stunning. But something was different. She looked sad. Miserable, actually. He noticed the slight hunch in her shoulders, the way she didn’t hold her head quite as high as she used to.
Chuck frowned. He had seen her break apart, and she’d seen him do the same. This seemed different. She was trying to hide that she was falling apart, and he could see right through it. On her side was Louis, smiling brightly. He knew she saw him, but she completely ignored his gaze.
So he texted her again. B, what’s going on? You look miserable. Tell me you’re ok.
In under a minute he received a response: She’s fine. Don’t contact my fiancée anymore. She wants nothing more to do with you.
Chuck looked up from his phone, searching for her eyes frantically. But the only eyes he met with were Louis’. Cold, hard, murderous. The bad feeling was Louis. He was going to hurt Blair. Chuck returned Louis’ glare before looking for Blair, who was nowhere in sight. “Where are you, Waldorf?” He murmured to himself.
The evening dragged on as his desperate search for Blair continued. She was nowhere to be found, and Chuck could steadily feel his panic building. He felt his heart begin to race, the vein in his temple was starting to throb, hard enough for him to feel a headache building in his brain. He felt the cold, nervous sweat begin to bead on his neck. The kind of sweat that only came with fear. He could still see Louis, happily chatting with other partygoers, and he reasoned Louis’ continued presence was the only reason he wasn’t having a full-on panic attack. He felt his breaths start to become shorter, and he knew he was on the verge of actually having a panic attack. Just as he was resigning himself to take a step outside just so he could try to just breathe, he felt the vibration in the pocket of his tuxedo. Blair.
I’m still here. But I don’t know for how much longer. You know where I am.
Chuck panicked at the text. There was subtext there, and he knew it. Not for how much longer, B?
He’ll come for me, she replied.
Blair…Call me. Please. Or come to the Empire. I’ll leave right now and I’ll meet you there. Please.
Its’s late, Chuck.
Come soon. Please.
Baby, you’re scaring me.
I’m afraid he’s going to kill me, Chuck.
He stared at the phone in his hand, the text on the screen. I’m afraid he’s going to kill me, Chuck. He felt sick to his stomach and he wanted to smash his fist into the wall at the same time. He couldn’t see straight, he couldn’t breathe. All the air had just been knocked out his lungs, his heart had been kicked into his throat.
Still staring at his phone, Chuck took a seat at the bar and gruffly ordered a scotch, in a vain attempt at getting a handle on his nerves. He drained his glass in one gulp, trying to regain control of his senses. After another scotch and several forced deep breaths, Chuck realized that Blair was asking him to do something. Not just punch someone at a gala. Actually do something. His hands shook as he typed out a reply to her. I love you, Blair. I’ll do anything. And you know I mean anything. He hits send and hopes she understands his subtext. Rooftop, 30 minutes.
Chuck began to panic, Blair is never late. Blair is annoyingly on time. I’m afraid he’s going to kill me. The words were seared into his brain now. The played like a cruel mantra in his head.
Where are you, B? He sent the text after she didn’t show up to meet him after 10 more minutes.
No response. His heart was beating in his chest so hard he could feel it in his skull. 20 more minutes.
Waldorf? He sent her another text, praying, hoping, for a response.
Not coming. Stop texting me. Please. –B
He needed scotch. Now. Desperately. He needed to drown the panic, the fear, and absolute dread he felt. I’m afraid he’s going to kill me, Chuck, the mantra repeated again. He had to drown those words the only way he knew, and then he needed to make a plan.