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Scotch & Torture

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Prologue

 

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.

 

 

 

Chapter 1

 

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.

 

Xoxo.

 

“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.”

 

“No.”

 

“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.

 

Xoxo.

 

“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.

 

Xoxo.

 

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.

 

Send.

 

Nothing. Why would you think anything was wrong?

 

Chuck sighed.

 

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.

 

Baby, please.

 

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.

 

No Blair.

 

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.

           

Chapter Text

As soon as she had locked eyes with him, she knew she was in trouble. She had heard Serena screaming her name, clearly intoxicated, and as Blair turned her head to greet her drunk best friend, her mask settling into place, she instead locked eyes with him. Immediately, she could see in his eyes that he had seen her. Not the face she put on for everyone, no. He had seen her. Her misery. His eyes, warm and brown, clearly studying her. Warm brown eyes full of worry.

 

She did her best to ignore him, hoping that maybe he hadn’t seen her face before the mask was all the way intact. She was fooling herself, though, she knew. He knew her better than she knew herself. She wasn’t even surprised when she felt her phone vibrate. B, what’s wrong? Talk to me. Louis was busy greeting some of the other guests so she quickly sent a reply, barely looking at the keys on her phone. This was dangerous and she knew it, Louis was standing right next to her, his arm looped through hers’. Please stop texting me, Chuck. Please, she screamed in her head, willing him to hear her.

 

He didn’t. The texts kept coming, and she kept responding. Why couldn’t she just ignore him? She didn’t know, but she did know she was playing with fire. Louis led her away from the groups of people, and she realized just how tightly he was gripping her arm. She felt the color drain from her face.

 

Louis bent forward, and his mouth lingered near her ear. To anyone else, they looked like a happily engaged couple. Blair knew better. “Who is texting you so much, darling?” He whispered into her ear. The ice in his question sent shivers down her back, as if her spine was suddenly made of icicles.

 

“Just Serena,” she whispered. She knew it was a bad lie.

 

Louis reached for her purse. “Let me carry this for you, darling,” he said as he forced it from her hands, and opening the clasp of her bag he pulled out her phone. “What did Serena have to say, my love?” He questioned.

 

No no no no no. Blair closed her eyes and prayed that she would wake up from this nightmare.

 

Louis looked at the latest text she had received from Chuck, she saw his nostrils flare, his pupils dilate. His eyes slowly rose to look at her, and what she saw in them was scarier than anything she had ever seen from him before. Pure, unadulterated, hatred. Tonight was going to be worse than the rest, she knew it.

 

“Serena, huh, Blair?” He scoffed. She saw him type a short text on her phone, no doubt to Chuck. He hit send and threw the phone in her bag before he grabbed her hand so hard she swore he was trying to break her fingers. He probably is, she thought bitterly.

 

She had to get away. She had to run. “Louis, darling, I have to use the restroom,” she said as calmly as possible.”

 

“Fucking hold it,” he said quietly. “You’ve been rude and disrespectful the entire time we’ve been here. Aren’t these your friends?” He asked with utter disgust.

 

“Darling, please…It’s… it’s that time of the month,” she answered quickly. “Please, I need to use the restroom.”

 

Louis’ lips curled in disgust and he shoved her bag into her hands, “You’re disgusting. Go, take care of it. Quickly,” he added.

 

Blair nodded, and walked away quickly, hoping she could find the nearest bathroom before Louis could realize what she had just pulled. She found one quickly, and upon the realization that it was empty, she locked herself inside before slumping against the door and down to the floor. She quickly pulled out her phone and texted Chuck back. I’m still here. But I don’t know for how much longer. You know where I am. Blair hoped he understood what she said. She was really, truly scared. Tonight was different. She had taken the brunt of many of Louis’ rages before, but she had never seen that cold, calculated look in his eyes before. The look that made her afraid that he might actually kill her.

 

 I can’t do this, Blair screamed at him in her head.

 

Her phone vibrated again. Baby, you’re scaring me. It was the second time he had called her “baby” tonight. She had never been one for pet names, and neither was Chuck, but she loved the rare occasions when he called her that. It had always been reserved for when they were alone, during or after they had made love, or after they had had an argument. Chuck always knew when to employ “baby” to his advantage, he knew it make her let him in.

 

I’m scared he’s going to kill me, Chuck. She finally realized the words for what they were, concrete, and a total possibility. She hit send and immediately fled to a stall where she locked the door and proceeded to purge herself of all the food she had eaten today.

 

Xoxo.

 

She leaned against the wall of the stall, trying to compose herself. She had been gone too long, she knew. Louis would be suspicious, if he wasn’t already. She had thrown up everything she had eaten today, but she still felt nauseous. From where she sat on the floor in the stall, she saw her phone abandoned on the floor. She slowly gathered herself up, unlocking the stall door to retrieve her phone.

 

Four texts from Chuck.

 

I love you, Blair. I’ll do anything. And you know I mean anything.

 

Rooftop. 30 minutes.

 

Where are you, B?

 

Waldorf?

 

And one from Louis.

 

Where the hell are you? Get back here this instant.

 

Her blood ran cold at Louis’ text. She had to go back now. She glanced at the mirror, and realized that her makeup was still intact, but there was nothing she could do about her bloodshot eyes. She took a few deep breaths and forced a smile onto her face. Chuck would see right through that bullshit, she thought. She sent one more text Chuck, Not coming. Stop texting me. Please. –B And promptly deleted all of his messages from her phone.

 

Smile intact, she unlocked the bathroom door and went to meet her fiancée. Her prince.

 

Xoxo.

 

She found Louis entertaining a group of men she recognized from many other society galas she had attended in the past. His smile was radiant, and the group was enchanted with him. They laughed wholeheartedly while he was telling them whatever story he was telling them – Blair understood that his words were English, but they didn’t make sense to her ears at all. The smile, his charm, they made her remember why she fell in love with him in the first place.

 

Part of her did still love him, albeit it was small piece. She wasn’t with him for love though, not anymore. She was with him out of pure necessity, for survival. That isn’t love! the thought came to her, shouting. He doesn’t love you, you idiot. He HURTS you.

 

But you’re going to be a Princess, a softer, smaller voice inside her head said.

 

Blair shook her head, needing to be free from her thoughts. She looped her arm through Louis’ who looked at her, dazzling smile still on his face, but she still saw the anger in his eyes. She smiled up at him, hoping he wouldn’t see her fear.

 

“Ah, gentlemen. My beautiful fiancée has returned, and I must bid you all adieu. It is growing late and it is time for us to return home,” he said, looking pointedly at Blair as he said the word “home.”

 

Blair gulped, but politely smiled at the men, “I’m sorry to be stealing my fiancée away, but he is right, it is growing late.” She wondered what she was in for tonight. It’s ok it’s ok it’s ok, she told herself. As she left with Louis’ arm tight and rigid against her own, her own mantra repeating in her head, she didn’t feel Chuck’s gaze on her and Louis.

 

Xoxo.

 

Blair awoke the next morning to the feeling of cold tile against her face. Why the hell do you spend so much time in the bathroom? She asked herself. She pulled herself into a sitting position. Her head hurt. Her jaw hurt. Her neck hurt. Everything hurt. She briefly remembered last night – Louis had been so angry, his fists coming at her from every angle, so punches landing, others falling short – before she finally ran from him and locked herself in the bathroom. Great idea, she said to herself.

 

The night was over, though. He was usually much calmer in the morning. She braced herself and quietly unlocked the bathroom door, and walked out into their room, expecting to find him still sleeping. Instead she was greeted by several suitcases, their room in disarray. Louis didn’t even notice her as he emptied a drawer into a suitcase, not even bothering to fold the clothes. Instead he just shoved them in before slamming the lid down on the full case and tugging the zipper to close it before throwing it unceremoniously onto the floor. “Louis..” she said softly, “what are you doing?”

 

“Packing,” he said shortly, coldly.

 

Blair gulped. “For what?” She asked softly.

 

“We’re leaving today. Tonight. I’m taking you to Monaco. I’m tired of New York. It’s not good for you. It’s not good for us. This world is toxic, Blair. Don’t you realize?” He asked

 

“Monaco?” Monaco. Far away from New York. Far away.

 

“Yes, Monaco, Blair,” he sneered. “Don’t act stupid. We’re leaving this place at once.”

 

Far away. Where no one could help. “No,” she said softly, so softly she wasn’t even sure the word even slipped out of her mouth.

 

But Louis heard her. “No?” He challenged.

 

Louder this time, Blair returned, “No.”

 

Louis grabbed her wrists, crushing them, hurting her. “How dare you challenge me. We are going to Monaco. Tonight. The end.”

 

Blair yanked her wrists from his grasp, not even noticing the pain. “NO, Louis. I am not going to Monaco. The END!” She yelled.

 

Louis paused, and turned to face her, slowly. “What did you just say to me?” he asked softly.

 

“I said no, Louis,” she responded. “I am not going to Monaco.”

 

Before she even realized what was happening, he slapped her across the face, hard. She felt tears well in her eyes, but they didn’t fall. Louis turned from her slowly, “I don’t know why you make me do this, Blair.”

 

With him turned away from her, Blair saw her bag from last night a few feet away from her, having been thrown onto the floor. Without a second thought, she grabbed it and ran from the room. She ran, in pajamas and with no shoes, into the lobby of the building, onto the street, and into a cab she stole from someone else. She looked insane, and she didn’t care. She had to get away. Now. She let out a shaky breath as the cab drove further away from the building, from the apartment she shared with Louis, and she pulled out her phone.

 

Where are you?

 

Xoxo.

 

He stood in front of one of the windows of his penthouse, staring down at the city below, a glass of scotch in hand. It was early -- too early -- for scotch, but he didn’t care. The thoughts inside his head were too much, he had to numb them, drown them, make them be quiet – just for a little while. He closed his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose between his fingers. I just need to be numb for a little bit longer. He took another sip of his scotch and heard his phone ping from across the room. He assumed it was from Serena or Nathaniel, checking up on him. But he only wanted to hear from one person, everyone else be damned. What if it is her? He asked himself. Fuck, it could be her. He turned around quickly, almost losing his balance. It’s 9am and you’re hammered. What would Bart think? He thought bitterly. Fuck. No. Blair. Think about Blair.

 

He stumbled to his phone, and saw her text. Where are you?

 

He typed back as fast as his drunken fingers could move, Empire. Where are you?

 

She texted back almost immediately, I’ll be there in 15.

 

Suddenly he was sober. His heart drummed in his chest, his body felt warm. She was coming to see him. He was still in his pajamas, so he decided he needed to at least wash his face and get dressed, at least be somewhat presentable. He dressed quickly, and just as he was finishing he heard the knock at the door. He had to stop himself from running to open it, to see her.

 

Opening the door, he was shocked at what he saw. She was in a negligee and a robe. She had no shoes, her hair was in disarray and her eyes were bloodshot. “Blair…”

 

“Can I come in?” Her voice broke as she asked.

 

“Yes, come in. What’s…”

 

She cut him off. “Lock the door,” she demanded.

 

He moved past her and locked the door, and dead-bolted it for good measure. “Do you want me to call security, too?” He saw her wince. “I’m not teasing, Blair. Should I call security, too? You know I will,” he said honestly.

 

She looked up at him and her eyes broke his heart. “Please,” she pleaded.

His eyes never left her face as he picked up the phone. “Chuck Bass,” he said into the phone coolly, “Louis Grimaldi is not allowed into the Empire under any circumstances, understood? If he enters this building there will be consequences -- you will all lose your jobs, Clear? Ok, Good.” He said before hanging up the phone.

 

Placing the phone back on its receiver, he moved closer towards her, “Blair,” he murmured, “Why are you here? Talk to me. Please,” he begged.

 

Her eyes met his, looking deep into his deep brown orbs. “Chuck….?”

 

“Yes?” he asked, moving even closer to her. He wanted to hold her. To kiss her. Hold her hand. Just feel her skin under his. But something told him touching her right now was a bad idea, so he just waited for her to speak.

 

“Am I unlovable?” She asked, without meeting his eyes. It was the question that had been running through her head for days, weeks even. Was she unlovable? Was she horrible? Do I deserve this? Is what she really wanted to ask. But she couldn’t ask.

 

Against his better judgement, he had to touch her after she asked him if she was unlovable. He loved her. He needed her to feel that he loved her. He gently grabbed her wrists to in his hands, “Blair,” he said softly.

 

She flinched at his hands on her wrists and pulled them away, wrapping her arms around her body. His eyes went to her face, and he noticed that her cheek was slightly purple and swollen. He stomach dropped. Finally, it all clicked in his mind. Louis hurt her. Louis hit her. Regularly. Daily, maybe. He felt sick. “How long has this been going on, Blair?” he asked quietly.

 

“You didn’t answer my question, Bass,” she replied.

 

He looked into her eyes. “Blair Waldorf, you are not unlovable. I love you. I always have and I always will. Now answer my question. How long has this been going on?”

 

“How long has what been going on?” she asked him, in a voice barely above a whisper.

 

“How long has Louis been hurting you?” he replied.

 

She clenched her eyes shut, again wishing she would wake up. “Since the night of the bar mitzvah,” she finally replied.

 

His heart clenched. Louis knew. He knew they had slept together. This was his fault. “I’m sorry,” he said quietly. “If it hadn’t been for Russell, and…”

She took a step closer to him. “No. It’s not your fault. He could’ve left me. He didn’t. Instead he hits me. That isn’t your fault, Chuck. It’s his. It’s mine.”

 

“How is it your fault?” he asked.

 

“I make him angry.”

 

Chuck couldn’t help but chuckle at that. He saw her flinch and explained, “Blair, you have made me angry every single day I’ve known you…I would never…I could never…” He trailed off.

 

“I know,” she said softly.

 

“Can I hold you? You had me so scared last night. I just...I need to feel you in my arms, baby. Can I?” he asked.

 

Baby. There it was again. She nodded at him and immediately she felt his strong arms around her body. He wasn’t pawing at her, trying to strip her, and he certainly wasn’t trying to hurt her. She felt safe. At peace. She wrapped her arms around his waist and pulled him closer to her. “Chuck, I messed up,” she said softly.

 

“How did you mess, up, baby?” He asked, gently kissing her forehead.

 

“It’s the same thing as me and Nate. I wanted the fairy tale. I wanted to be a princess. Serena was right…the only one watching the movie of my perfect life is me….and I don’t even see that movie anymore. It’s more like a horror movie. You don’t even know the half of it, Chuck. Every part of my body hurts and I want to die.” The words were spilling freely now, everything she had been thinking to herself for months.

 

“Don’t say that, Blair,” he said softly, kissing the top of her head.

 

“Say what?” she replied.

 

“That you want to die. Don’t ever say that to me.”

 

“Chuck….”

 

“No. don’t you ever say that to me. Remember what you said to me on the roof of Victrola? Same goes for me. I couldn’t bear it.”

 

She nodded. “I don’t want to die, Chuck…I’m just so unhappy. I’m afraid always. And last night after he found out I was texting you...I honestly thought he’d kill me. I’ve never seen that look in his eyes before…Last night was worse than most. And then he told me we were going Monaco.”

 

“Monaco?”

 

“That’s exactly what I said. So here I am. I can’t go, Chuck. He’s trying to get me away from my friends, my family, my home…But mostly, you.”

 

“Me?”

 

“Yes, you, Chuck.”

 

Suddenly she felt all the tears that had refused to fall brimming in her eyes, threatening to fall. It had been months since she had cried.

 

“Why me?” he asked.

 

“You’re a threat…Honestly any man who lays eyes on me is a threat. They all want me. And I’ve fucked them all, according to him. If I make eye contact with another man, it basically confirms I’ve cheated on him…I feel dirty, Chuck. And I don’t know why,” she whispered.

 

“Why are you even with him, Blair?” he asked. “When he hurts you?”

 

Tears welled in her eyes and her stomach clenched. “I was going to leave him the night it started – for you! I wanted to be with you. You let me go, remember? I settled. And it was a mistake. A mistake I couldn’t run away from.”

 

“I didn’t know…”

 

“That he was like this? Yeah, me neither. I wish you would have let me tell him it was over that night.”

 

“I did what I thought was best for you, Blair...I’m sorry.”

 

She suddenly realized that Louis probably knew exactly where she had gone. There wasn’t much time left. “Chuck, shut up,” she said softly. “You called security, right?”

 

“You asked me to, so of course.”

 

“I don’t think I’m safe, Chuck,” she whispered.

 

“He’s not allowed in no matter what, Blair, you are safe here,” he answered softly, his eyes looking to hers, but she wouldn’t meet his gaze.

 

“I don’t think I’ll ever be safe again, Chuck. He’s a prince. I’m…”

 

“You’re Blair Waldorf,” he interrupted, intertwining his fingers with hers. Their eyes locked, and he moved his face closer to hers. Her scent of her skin, her hair intoxicated him. He could feel her breath on his lips, and he leaned in, capturing her lips softly. He felt the fire that had laid dormant inside of him for so long ignite again. “Kiss me, Blair,” he whispered.

 

“I can’t,” she whispered. “I have to go home.”

 

“To him? Blair, really?”

 

“I’ve been gone too long...”

“So don’t go back. Stay here, with me. Forever. Forget about him,” he pleaded.

 

“I’ve been gone too long. I have to go back soon. Hopefully he’s calm now,” she smiled halfheartedly at him. 

 

“Why, Blair? Why are you with him?” he asked softly. Why aren’t you with me?

 

“I loved him once…Sometimes I think I still love him, maybe. But he scares me.”

 

“He hurts you, Blair,” he said quietly.

 

“I’m aware, thank you,” she seethed.

 

“Blair..”

 

Her eyes met his, and she couldn’t quite read his expression.

 

“Please don’t go back to him. Stay with me,” Chuck whispered.

 

“I want to. But I can’t. I –I shouldn’t have even come here tonight, Chuck. He’s going to be furious. I ran away from him in my pajamas and with no shoes. He’s going to be so angry.” Thinking about what she had done impulsively, she felt the panic rise inside of her. If she thought Louis was angry before, he was certainly angry now.

 

“You’re shaking,” Chuck whispered, his hand clenching down on their intertwined fingers.

 

“I’m fine.”

 

“But you’re not, Blair.”

 

The shift in her mood happened so quickly he was in awe, even though he knew better than anyone how fake it was. “I’m fine, Chuck, really,” she smiled brightly. “I just overreacted a bit and now I have to go home to my fiancée. He’ll be worried.”

 

Her smile was so wide Chuck’s face physically hurt looking at wide it was. Are you lying to me or yourself? He didn’t dare ask. “Blair, don’t…”

 

“I have to go, Chuck, I’m really sorry for disturbing you,” she interrupted, smile still plastered to her face. Her eyes were empty. Her hand quickly disentangled from his own and she moved away from him so quickly that he could only sit their dumbly. “Goodbye, Chuck.”

 

Before he could comprehend what had just happened, she was gone, the door softly closing behind her. Blair was afraid Louis would kill her, she had run to him in terror, and now she was acting as if everything was fine. Chuck was baffled. What the actual fuck?

 

“At least borrow a pair of shoes….” He said lamely, he said to no one. It was already too late.

 

She was gone.

 

Chapter Text

She had run to Chuck. She had abandoned Louis. This was bad, bad, bad. She had most definitely messed up. Earlier today, as Louis was packing and ordering her that she come with him to Monaco, she had panicked. She had thought irrationally. Louis was her fiancée and she loved him. Right? Yes. Of course. Blair was currently arguing with herself outside the door of the apartment. Go inside? Run away? No, go inside! He loves you! Right?  Yes. Of course. Exhaling deeply, she slid her key card into the elevator door and let herself inside. All of the lights were on inside the apartment, and Louis sat waiting directly in front of the door, glass of wine in hand. By the hazy look in his eyes, she could tell it wasn’t his first. Probably not even his second.

 

“Where have you been?” He seethed.

 

“Out,” she stated. Too bold, Blair, too bold.

 

“Out where?” He asked, his voice threatening.

 

“Just out,” she responded, backing away. “I needed air.” She felt so small, and so weak. “Louis…”

 

“Don’t. Just pack, whore,” he spat.

 

“Louis, please. I’m sorry. I messed up. Please. I dont want to go to Monaco. Not like this,” she pleaded. “I love you.”

 

His face softened at her words. He stepped closer to her, and for once Blair didn’t feel afraid of him. “Darling, you know I love you. That’s why I do this. I love you so much, and you make me so angry. I can’t stand the thought of you with someone else. I can’t stand the eyes of another man on you, stripping you of your clothes and making love to you with his eyes.” He pulled her close, pressing his lips against her cheek as he continued to speak, “Seeing another man look at you like that makes me insane. You are my fiancée. Mine,” he whispered. “I can’t stand it. I’m so sorry. You are the most beautiful woman I have ever seen, and I get so jealous when I see other men look at you.”

 

Her stomach turned. So men look at me and that’s MY fault? You fucking— “It’s fine, Louis,” she whispered. “Everything is fine.” His hard edge had softened unexpectedly, Probably has to do with how much wine he’s had, and Blair was not going to take his sudden mood shift for granted.

 

“Are we alright?” He asked. His question seemed innocent enough, but Blair detected a slight threat beneath his words.

 

“Absolutely, Louis,” she smiled so brightly her face hurt.

 

“Do you still love me, Blair?” he asked.

 

She hated the way her name sounded on his tongue. “Bleh” was always what she heard. She knew it was his accent, but her name was Blair, not Bleh. It drove her insane every time she heard it. How did I get engaged to you? You can’t even say my name properly! I’m Blair Waldorf, dammit! “Of course, Louis,” she replied smoothly. “You’re my fiancé.”

 

“Show me,” he said softly, threateningly.

 

“I’m tired tonight, darling. And as I said last night, it’s that time of the month, I know how much that disgusts you.” Find an excuse, any excuse.

 

“You’re lying. I know you’re not on your period, Blair.” Bleh. “Show me you love me?” He was asking, but deep down she knew it was a demand.

 

Of course she was lying. Of course he had figured it out. Louis was a lot of things, but an idiot was not among them. It was a bad lie anyways, she realized. “Alright, Louis, let’s go to bed,” she said, forcing a smile to her face. Her brain, however, was screaming to not let him touch her. In an instant, his lips were on hers, they were dry and rough, forceful. Her mouth opened to let in his tongue and she recoiled at the taste of his breath mixed with wine inside her mouth. She didn’t want him kissing her, but she knew she had no choice. So she did the only thing should could do: She shut her mind off and let him do what he wanted.

 

It was over and they were lying together on the bed, naked. Louis was trying to catch his breath and Blair was willing herself not to cry. She hadn’t wanted to have sex with him, but he was calm, for the moment, and she knew it was all she could do to keep him this level of calm. If she had refused him, she knew it would have been much worse. As she heard Louis’ breathing begin to even out, she moved away as far away from him as she could. She could tell he wasn’t far away from sleep, and she wanted to be nowhere near him. Louis being unconscious was a small reprieve from the personal Hell she currently found herself.

 

She had moaned and called his name when she knew it was appropriate for her to do so as they had sex, but it had all been act. She hated it. She hated him touching her. She hated him kissing her. She hated him inside of her. She felt dirty. She felt used. He’s your fiancée, Blair. You love him, remember? She said to herself. Yes. Of course. Louis was her fiancée. She loved him. They had just hit a rough patch. It would all be fine. She sighed, resolved that everything would be alright in the morning. Her Louis would be back in the morning, and he’d never hurt her again. He loved her. She continued to say this to herself as she drifted off into slumber.

 

Everything is going to be ok.

 

Xoxo.

 

The elevator to the Van der Woodsen penthouse opened and Chuck stepped inside. He needed to speak to Serena immediately. As the elevator door closed, he realized how quiet the apartment was. Chuck had been awake all night, drinking scotch and fighting the urge to call Blair or hire a hitman, and he wasn’t even sure what time it was. The silence he was met with indicated that it was early – probably too early. You own a Piaget. Maybe check the time on it, or something, he chastised himself.

 

 No. This was too important. This was Blair. He didn’t care what time it was, he had to find Serena and wake her up. He climbed the stairs as quietly as he could, making his way to Serena’s room, his old bedroom, back when he still lived here. Before Blair. The door was closed so he knocked softly, and he received a half-asleep “Come in,” as a response.

 

Serena was sprawled across her bed, on top of her covers, still in her clothes and makeup from last night.

 

“Hey, sis.”

 

Serena winced. “Chuck? What time is it? My head hurts. Did you bring food?” she asked hopefully.

 

“I honestly have no idea what time it, sis, I’ve been up all night. You were drunk last night, so that explains the headache, and no, I don’t have food. I need to talk to you.”

 

Serena grabbed one of her pillows and covered her face with it. “It’s too bright. Can we talk later?”

 

Goddamn it, Serena. “No, Serena, we can’t talk later. This is serious,” Chuck replied.

 

“What’s serious is my headache, Chuck!” Removing her pillow from her face for a split second, she looked at her phone. “Chuck, it’s 7 AM. Go away,” she groaned.

 

“Serena, it’s about Blair.”

 

“Blair?” she asked meekly.

 

“Yes, Serena. Blair. Your best friend? Remember her? Or are you too hungover?”

 

“Ugh!” Serena threw the pillow away from her face, wincing as the sunlight hit her eyes. She sat up to face Chuck, even as her stomach rebelled. “I feel sick, Chuck, this better be good.”

 

Chuck ran his hands across his face before pinching the bridge of his nose between his fingers. “It’s bad, Serena. It’s really bad.”

 

“My hangover? Yeah, it sure is. Get to the point.”

 

“Serena,” he said softly, trying to contain his anger, “this is not about you. In case you can’t recall, we talked about Blair the other night. At the gala.”

 

“I remember,” she responded, “vaguely,” she added softly.

 

“Jesus Christ, Serena, do you not notice anything?” Chuck couldn’t contain his rage any longer.

 

“Chuck, people are still asleep in this house,” she whispered, her eyes on him huge, searching. “What have I not noticed?”

 

Chuck looked away from her and bit his lip, and he once again pinched the bridge of his nose between his fingers. “You have any scotch here?” He asked her, exasperated.

 

“Chuck,” Serena said softly, “It’s 7 AM. That’s early, even for you, don’t you think?’

 

Chuck sighed, exhausted, and sat down on the bed next to Serena. “Just…Go get some type of alcohol. We both need it. Hair of the dog, Serena.”

 

Serena narrowed her eyes at him, concerned. Everyone knew that Chuck Bass drank scotch like it was water, but this seemed different. Serena knew his predilection for scotch better than most – before she left for boarding school, they had often gotten drunk together just because – but she knew that right now, he needed to drink to calm himself down. It was 7AM, after all. Early even by Chuck Bass standards. Bringing herself out of her hungover haze, Serena realized Chuck had mentioned he was here to talk about Blair. Clearly it was important. “Fine, I’ll be right back.”

 

Making her way to the kitchen and to Lily and Rufus’ stash of liquor, Serena chose a bottle of scotch that looked abhorrently expensive, and was sure to please Chuck. Sighing, she poured two glasses of the scotch, one finger for her and three for Chuck. He was right, it would help her hangover. Grabbing the glasses, she quietly made her way back to her room.

 

Serena opened the door with glasses in hand, and handed the fuller glass to Chuck. She studied him for a moment. Chuck’s eyes were bloodshot, he clearly hadn’t slept, he was probably already or, more likely, still drunk. “So…Chuck…to what do I owe this pleasure?”

 

Taking the glass of scotch from Serena he took a large swallow, relishing the burn as it made its way down his throat. “It’s bad, Serena. Very bad.”

 

“What is?” Serena asked, confused.

 

Chuck took another swallow of scotch and paused before speaking, attempting to gather his thoughts. “He hurts her,” he responded in what was barely above a whisper, his voice breaking.

 

“Who? What?” She asked.

 

Why are you so dense, Serena? “Ok, I’ll be more specific, Serena,” he seethed. “Louis. He hurts Blair,” he continued, slowly, hoping she would understand.

 

“Oh, please. Of course he does. She hurts him, too, that’s how relationships are, sometimes. You would know,” she replied, completely nonchalant.

 

Chuck felt rage building within him. He could almost see red. He took a few deep breaths before he realized that Serena truly didn’t understand, because he hadn’t explained anything. You’re the only one who knows. His rage broke, and he felt completely calm. He couldn’t explode, he couldn’t throw insults at Serena. It wasn’t her fault and this was too important. “Serena, Louis hits her.”

 

Serena spoke in a voice he almost couldn’t hear, “What?”

 

“He hits her, Serena,” he replied, finishing his scotch in one gulp.

 

“That’s why she wanted me to move out of the penthouse...Not so she and Louis could be alone…” she said quietly, to herself.

 

“It’s been going on for a while,” he responded. “I just found out last night. I don’t know how I didn’t see it before,” he replied, berating himself. “I know her so well…But I couldn’t see he was hurting her? That she was hurting at all? How?” Chuck felt a sob escape his throat.

 

“Chuck, you know how well she hides things when she’s ashamed,” Serena responded, wrapping her arms around her stepbrother.

 

“I told her to be with him. I told her I had to let her go, so she could be happy. Serena, what have I done?” He felt that he was on the verge of tears, but Chuck Bass didn’t cry. “What did I do? She was going to leave him for me and I stopped her…because I thought he could make her happy and I couldn’t.”

 

Serena pulled him closer. “You didn’t know, Chuck.”

 

He sobered quickly, slightly humiliated at his weakness. “I didn’t know. Now I do. She’s terrified of him, Serena. We have to do something.”

 

“Like what, Chuck?”

 

“First step, stop being a shitty friend. Be best friends again. She’ll confide in you.”

 

“She’s been avoiding me,” she replied.

 

“Of course she has been. Don’t take no for an answer, Serena. I know she needs you…needs someone.”

 

“And you?” She asked.

 

“I don’t know yet. I’m considering having him killed.”

 

“Chuck…That’s a bit much, even for you…”

 

“I know. But this is Blair, love of my life. And someone is hurting her. Where else did you expect my mind to go?”

 

“Honestly, right about there. Although I’d thought he’d be dead already, honestly,” she replied.

 

“Just try to get close to her again. She needs you.”

 

Serena looked into Chuck’s bloodshot eyes once more. “I’ll do my best, Chuck. I really will, but I can’t promise anything. She blows me off every time we make plans, or she’ll tell me she’s busy when I try to make them. Sometimes she won’t even answer calls, and she only texts me back half of the time.”

 

Chuck nodded slowly. “Please try, Serena. I can’t right now, she made it abundantly clear that me contacting her is not a good idea. Do it for me and do it for Blair.”

 

“She needs you, too, Chuck,” Serena said softly, taking Chuck’s hand in her own.

 

“I know, but my presence will just make whatever situation with her and Louis even worse. I have to protect her, that’s more important right now.”

 

“I’ll call her in a few hours, ok? I’ll try to make her come out to dinner with me tonight.”

 

Chuck nodded and closed his eyes. With Serena’s hand still covering his own, the two step-siblings sat on the bed lost in their own respective thoughts as the bright morning sun flooded Serena’s room, lighting up the brightly colored, airy room -- a promise of another bright new day in New York.

 

Funny, Chuck felt like he was suffocating.

 

 

Xoxo.

 

As soon as Serena felt her hangover dissipate, she called Blair. “Hey, B!”

 

“Serena? Hi.”

 

“B, I’ve been sucking at best friend things lately. Can we have dinner tonight?

 

Blair paused. She missed her best friend terribly. It had been months since she felt she had properly spent time with her. In fact, Blair realized, the last time she had really talked to Serena was right before she had asked Serena to move out of the penthouse, under the guise that she and Louis wanted to spend more time together alone, as a real couple who was soon to be married.

 

Of course, the real reason she had asked Serena to move out of the apartment was a combination of two things: Mainly, Louis ordering Blair to make her best friend leave, and frankly Blair agreed to do so simply out of her own crippling shame over her relationship with her fiancée. What Blair hadn’t realized at the time, was that Serena leaving wouldn’t make her relationship with Louis any better, but would make the abuse she suffered as his hands worse.

 

Abuse.  Blair shuddered at the word that ran through her head. Nope. It’s fine. Everything is ok. He loves me. I know it.

 

“B? You still there,” called Serena, after Blair hadn’t responded.

 

“Sorry, S, I got distracted. Dorota ordered the wrong flowers again. I asked for hydrangeas and she ordered hyacinths, can you honestly believe that? I know English isn’t her first language, but I mean, come on -- “

 

Serena quickly interrupted Blair’s diatribe, “B, as much as I love listening to you harass Dorota, I’m trying to make plans with you! When was the last time we hung out?”

 

“I know it’s been awhile, S. But I’ve been really busy.”

 

“B, that’s what you always say. Do you not want to hang out with anymore?” Serena asked, feigning hurt. She could pretend to be oblivious when she wanted to.

 

“No, Serena, it’s not that…” Blair bit her lip, trying to come up with an excuse. Avoiding you is just easier than lying to you, that’s all.

 

“Well then what?” Serena probed.

 

Blair could literally think of no other explanation for Serena, so instead responded with the only thing guaranteed to get Serena off of her back, “Ok, S. We’ll have dinner tonight. Butter, 8 o’clock?” She could always cancel later, through text, so there would be no third-degree.

 

“Perfect! I’ll make reservations! Oh, and don’t even think about blowing me off later, I’ll call Louis and tell him his fiancée has hurt my feelings again!” Serena knew the words were a mistake as soon as they left her mouth. Why don’t you ever think, Serena. This is why people think you’re an airhead.

 

Blair flinched at the words, even though she knew Serena wasn’t aware of the true nature of her and Louis’ relationship was like. “Wouldn’t even think of it, S!” she responded brightly.

 

“Good. Hey, B, I love you,” said Serena.

 

“Love you too, S. I’ll see you tonight, ok? But I have to go now. Bye.” Blair quickly hung up the phone before Serena could respond.

 

With Serena’s voice no longer in her ear, she could savor how quiet the penthouse was at the moment. Louis was at the consulate, Dorota had the day off, so Blair was left alone with her thoughts. Last night hadn’t been what she had expected. She had expected Louis to be absolutely furious with her for running off, but instead he had dropped the subject of her unexplained absence quickly. For now, the thought flashed in her mind.

 

Blair shook her head at herself. They were fine. Louis had said they were fine. Everything was fine and Blair was going to marry her prince and finally live the fairy tale she had always dreamed about. She smiled at the thought of that. For as long as she could remember, all she had ever wanted was to be a princess. From the first moment she had laid eyes on Grace Kelly, she had been obsessed – She had been beautiful, poised, and talented, and a real princess to boot. Everything Blair had ever wanted.

 

So why does it feel so empty? I’m not in a palace. I’m in a golden cage.

 

The negative thoughts were becoming harder to push away since her conversation with Chuck, when she had asked him if she was unlovable “Blair, you have made me angry every single day I’ve known you…I would never…I could never…”

 

She needed to stop these negative thoughts now. She could feel herself slipping, losing control, and she needed to be in control. She was going to be a princess for goodness’ sake. Suddenly an urge struck her, the one thing that always made her feel completely control. One more time. With that thought, Blair wandered into the kitchen and to her well-stocked fridge, it was time for a snack. Or a feast.

 

Xoxo.

 

“So she agreed?”

 

“Yes, Chuck, I already told you. She agreed to dinner at Butter, I’m getting ready to go meet her right now,” Serena replied into her phone, slightly exasperated as she tried to put the finishing touches on her lip gloss.”

 

“Great, keep me updated, sis,” Chuck replied.

 

“What? Like you or you PI won’t be watching the whole time?” Serena asked, rolling her eyes.

 

“I told you, Serena, my presence is a bad idea right now. It’s killing me but I’m staying away, for now.”

 

Serena knew it had to be serious if Chuck wasn’t even having his PI tail Blair. “You’re really worried about her, aren’t you?” she asked him softly.

 

“Serena, do you have amnesia? Or are you just stupid? Do you not remember the conversation we had earlier?”

 

Serena rolled her eyes again. “I love you, too, Chuck. I will keep you updated, but I have to go now or I’m going to be late, bye!”

 

Making sure her makeup was still intact, Serena grabbed her bag and slipped on her favorite pair of black Louboutins before taking the elevator down from the penthouse, where she found herself on the bustling sidewalk of the Upper East Side. Quickly, Serena hailed a cab and slid into the back seat and began to mentally prepare herself for her dinner with Blair. “ 70 West 45th St, please,” she told the cab driver.

 

If she was being completely honest with herself, she had no idea what to expect. She only hoped that Chuck was completely off-base with what he was accusing Louis of doing to Blair. Blair being with Louis had been devastating to Chuck, so was it completely wrong to think that maybe he was making this up so he could weasel his way back to Blair? No, Serena reasoned, not even Chuck Bass is depraved enough to make up a rumor as despicable as this one. Serena sighed, and pressed her face against the slightly dirty cab window and stared into the dark New York streets, and her thoughts cleared as her cab made its way to Midtown and her best friend.

 

Once her cab arrived at Butter, Serena paid the cab driver and found herself in front of one New York’s hotspots. Looking at her phone, Serena realized that it was 8:15, and she was late. Blair, of course, would already be inside waiting for her, because Blair was never late. And Serena always was. Sighing, she opened the door to the restaurant and walked up to the hostess. “Hi, reservation is under van der Woodsen. I’m sure my friend is already here,” Serena smiled at the hostess.

 

The hostess looked down at the restaurant’s reservations and then back to Serena. “No, no one’s at your table yet. But please, follow me, Miss van der Woodsen,” she replied, flashing Serena a smile.

 

“Oh…ok,” Serena replied dumbly as she followed the hostess to the table. Blair late?

 

After sitting down and thanking the hostess, Serena pulled out her phone and immediately texted Chuck, Past 8:15, she’s late. She barely had to wait a minute before she got a response from Chuck. She knew he’d be glued to his phone, waiting for updates.

 

She’s never late.

 

I know that, Chuck, she replied. But she is tonight. I’m going to text her, see where she is.

 

Finding Blair in her message threads, she quickly texted her, B, where are you? Never thought I’d beat you someplace!

 

Hey, S. Running late. Be there in 10.

 

Serena closed her phone and put it in her lap. She needed a drink.

 

Ten minutes passed, and then twenty minutes had passed. This was completely out-of-character for Blair. Once again, she opened up her phone to text Chuck. Said she was running late, I’ve been here for almost 30 mins. This is weird, Chuck.

 

I know, he responded quickly.

 

“Hey, S!” Blair’s voice greeted her as the same hostess let her to their table.

 

“Hey, B, I was starting to get worried. I’ve never seen you be late before.”

 

“Sorry, lost track of time! Wedding details, you know,” Blair rolled her eyes as she sat down at the table. “So much to do, so little time.”

 

Serena looked at her best friend. Her makeup was impeccable, not a hair out-of-place and she looked stunning in a form-fitted navy cocktail dress. It was the finer details of Blair’s appearance that concerned Serena. Blair looked paler than usual, and her cheeks seemed more sunken than normal. Serena knew exactly what the sunken cheeks meant -- it was the look of Blair when she was making herself sick. Serena had seen it before. Blair had tried to hide the dark half-moons beneath her eyes, but a purple tinge was still visible to Serena. Serena had sworn she would play cool, but in the face of so many red flags glaringly obvious sitting directly in front of her, she grabbed Blair’s hand in her own and asked her, “B, are you ok?”

 

Blair tried to hide her flinch as Serena took her hand. But she saw in Serena’s eyes that she had caught it. “Chuck talked to you, didn’t he?” she asked, barely managing to get the words out.

 

“Yeah, B. He did. He’s worried about you.” There was no use in lying now.

 

Blair jerked her hand away from Serena. “Well, as you can see I’m fine. And I think dinner tonight was clearly a mistake. Thank you for the invitation, but I think I simply must be going now,” Blair said, gathering her things a moving to leave.

 

“Blair, wait. We just want to help,” Serena pleaded.

 

“I don’t need your help, Serena,” Blair answered coldly. “And I don’t need Chuck’s. Now could you both mind your own business and stop meddling in mine?”

 

“Blair, wait –“

 

“Goodbye, Serena,” replied Blair and she stalked out of the restaurant.

 

Well, fuck.

 

Serena sighed and took a large gulp of the cocktail to her right before pulling out her phone. Saying it went poorly would be an understatement. Sorry, C.

 

Xoxo.

Chuck had been drinking with Nate while Serena waited for Blair at Butter. He was on his fifth glass of scotch, but his nerves would not be stilled. Blair was late. Blair was never late. What if she’s hurt? What if he hurt her? What if she needs me? Chuck’s mind was working overtime, and he went to dial his PI for the fourth time in the past twenty minutes.

 

“Man, you seem on edge tonight.”

 

Nate’s voice brought him out his mental war. “Sorry, Nathaniel, have a lot on my mind this evening,” Chuck responded, trying to keep the terror that was building inside of him out of his voice.

 

“Blair? Wanna smoke a joint, it’ll help calm your nerves,” Nate responded.

 

“You know me so well, Nathaniel. Yes, it’s Blair,” Chuck replied. There was no use in lying. Nate wasn’t the brightest, but he was intuitive. And he knew how Chuck felt about Blair. No, so Chuck couldn’t lie. But he wouldn’t tell Nate the real reason he was on edge about Blair, not tonight. Chuck was hoping that Serena could get through to her tonight at dinner, and he wanted to involve as few people as possible.

 

“Louis again?”

 

“Something like that,” Chuck replied, gulping down his sixth glass of scotch.

 

Nate raised an eyebrow at his best friend. “Chuck, you forget I’ve been through numerous lost weekends with you. I know what Chuck Bass looks like after you’ve been drinking for 24 hours straight…Maybe more,” he added, after observing Chuck for a moment. “What’s going on, man?”

 

“I really can’t tell you, Nathaniel.”

 

Nate stared at Chuck for a brief moment, narrowing his eyes, before slowly accepting his best friend’s answer. “Alright, Chuck…Let me know if anything changes.” Being friends with Chuck Bass, it was sometimes better not to ask questions.

 

Chuck’s phone vibrated in his lap, and he immediately grabbed it, almost sending it across the room in the process. Fuck, I’m drunk.

 

Saying it went poorly would be an understatement. Sorry, C.

 

What do you mean? Chuck quickly texted back.

 

I couldn’t hold it in. She’s been making herself sick, C. As soon as I saw her I knew. I asked if she was ok and she immediately knew you had talked to me. She told us to stay out of her business. I’m sorry

 

Chuck’s blood ran cold. She’s been making herself sick. He wasn’t even surprised by this revelation – whenever Blair felt like she had completely lost control she would resort to purging. He realized how badly she was hurting and felt something tear inside him, potentially his heart. Chuck ran his hand over his face and held his eyes shut. He had to do something. He had said he would stay away from Blair for the time being, but the fact that she was hurting herself was too much. Chuck pulled out his phone and finally hit the call button for his PI, who answered after 3 rings. “Andrew, it’s Chuck Bass. I need you to tail Louis Grimaldi. Let me know when he’s not around Blair Waldorf. I will pay triple your normal fee, but be discrete. If he catches wind he’s being followed, you will never work in New York again. Got it?”

 

Nate looked at his best friend with his eyes narrowed. “Chuck, something I need to know?”

“The less you know, the better, Nathaniel. But if you hear from Blair, let me know. Got it?”

 

Nate held up his hands in defeat and smirked. “Got it, Chuck. Now about that joint…?” he asked hopefully.

 

Chuck wasn’t even listening, he could only hear his heart thumping in his ears.