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 don’t 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.
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.
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.
As soon as Serena felt her hangover dissipate, she called Blair. “Hey, B!”
“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.
“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.
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.
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.
“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.