FANFIC: You Could Be Everything

GOSSIP GIRL

Summary: “Because you came to the loft and we ate gourmet pizza together and watched old movies and we fell asleep on the couch with your head resting on my shoulder and the next morning we pretended it didn’t happen, at least to each other, but I would be lying if I said my mind doesn’t keep going back to that night.” V-day 2012.

Disclaimer: I don’t own Gossip Girl, its characters, or the various lines that I borrowed, most of which were written by the lovely Amanda Lasher, as well as Josh Safran and Sara Goodman.

 

You Could Be Everything

Almost midnight on Valentine’s Day and he’s spending it at the loft, again.  Rewriting an earlier draft of a short story he plans to submit to a magazine, again.  Alone (you guessed it), again.

It’s 11:11 when he hears the unmistakable sound of her arrival.  Right before the knock comes, Dan happens to glance at the large brass clock behind his desk: its short hand reaching upwards for the twelve, long hand creeping past the two.

The truth is, these days he’s gotten so accustomed to finding her on his doorstep that he can almost sense her presence before her knuckles even collide with the painted metal door.  He tries to walk towards it without replaying all the stupid statements that came out of his mouth last week.  He even considers not answering at all, pretending he isn’t home—although he knows she must’ve seen his light on through the window when her driver pulled up.  She’d never buy it, and she is nothing if not persistent.  He knows that all too well, of course.  It’s just that he doesn’t know how much more of this he can take.

Her face is hidden in shadows when he opens the door, but she steps into the pale yellow light as he opens it wider at the hinge.  Her mouth is set in a firm, straight line that betrays nothing.

“Took you long enough, Humphrey.  What were you doing, writing another thinly veiled autobiographical novel?  I hope this time you had the sense to choose a less obvious name for me than Clair.”

She pushes past him, and he steps aside without a word, letting the heavy door fall shut behind her.

If someone were to ask Blair Waldorf when exactly she started to think of Dan Humphrey’s loft as her safehouse, she wouldn’t be able to answer.  She might even deny thinking of it that way at all.  All she knows is when she steps across the threshold she suddenly feels like a different person, maybe one who is brave enough to shed the face masks and the quick repartees that she hides behind every day and finally let her other self—her real self, as she sometimes thinks of it—shine through.

She stares at the top of his head for a second too long as she tries to decide what to say.  He can tell that she wants to make some witty comment about his unruly hair or the checkered pattern of his flannel shirt, but she doesn’t.

“Blair, why are you here?” he tries, struggling to keep his voice flat and even.

She still doesn’t speak.  Her eyes wander around the kitchen, then past him and into the living room, pausing ever so briefly on his teal couch before sweeping past that too.  Because we kissed, Blair.  That was what he had said the last time they spoke.  You kissed me, actually.  More than once.  And I can’t keep pretending that it didn’t mean anything to me, when it did.  Because you came to the loft and we ate gourmet pizza together and watched old movies and we fell asleep on the couch with your head resting on my shoulder and the next morning we pretended it didn’t happen, at least to each other, but I would be lying if I said my mind doesn’t keep going back to that night.  I tried to keep it to myself, hell I tried like fuck to make it go away, but I’m out of ideas, I’m throwing in the towel, I can’t do it anymore.  They are both thinking it.  He can still taste the words in the back of his throat (where they should’ve stayed), she can still hear them echoing somewhere along the winding canals deep within her ears (where they won’t leave).

He can’t stand it anymore.  This is torture; he never should have opened his mouth.  “Look, Blair, if it’s all the same to you, could we just forget—”

“What if,” she interrupts him suddenly, lowering her gaze from the dark tangles that he calls his hair and looking him straight in the eyes, “What if I said that I do?”

It’s taken her this long to learn what it means to be vulnerable without being weak.  With Chuck, she opened her heart for him time and time again, always believing that he’d changed, that they wouldn’t just fall back into the same dark hole of twisted games and adolescent dreams.  But he hasn’t changed.  Or maybe the problem is that he has, and she has too, and the two of them have been heading in opposite directions for a while now, both  too hungry for the comfort of the familiar to acknowledge that their magnets have lost their charge.  Still, she doesn’t blame him.  It started way before that fated encounter in the backseat of a limo over four years ago.  It started with Nate, and Serena, and before that, with her mother and father.  It started with her always letting everybody else make her feel like she would never be good enough.

“Do…what?”  Dan’s voice brings her back to the present.  His heart is pounding so furiously it feels like it’s in his throat, ready to make a leap for it.  He wonders if that’s normal, he wonders if he should be worried about this.

Again she looks away, then lets her eyes flicker back up to his.  “Feel the same way.”  I’m sorry, I know you don’t feel the same way.  You’ve made that perfectly clear, so I know it’s just selfish of me to even be bringing it up again, I’m sorry.  He had brushed past her and stumbled into the elevator after his long monologue, apologizing profusely, and left her standing speechless in her foyer.  He never even gave her a chance to respond.  I don’t know what I was thinking, I mean obviously I wasn’t thinking at all.  I should go.  Sorry.

He opens and closes his mouth several times.  For once in his life, words are failing him.  “What exactly are you trying to say—”

She cuts him off again.  “I’m scared, Dan.”  Normally, it would just about kill her to admit that to anyone, but she says it to him and the world doesn’t feel like it’s ending.  “You know?  Because you’re right.”  And normally admitting that would kill her too, but this time it doesn’t.  And then she throws his words back at him, but not in a malicious way.  In her mouth they sound beautiful.  (Even now, even though he is stunned and can hardly formulate a coherent thought in his mind, he finds himself thinking that.)  “Because I came to the loft,” she repeats, “and we ate gourmet pizza together and watched old movies and we fell asleep on the couch with my head resting on your shoulder and the next morning we pretended it didn’t happen, at least to each other, but I would be lying if I said my mind,” and here she veers off script, “hasn’t always gone back to that night.  Because as much as I hated to admit it, there was something perfect about the whole thing.  And I didn’t want to ruin that.”

“Blair…”

Once again, she holds up a hand to silence him, and it’s just as well because he still has no idea what to say.  “I’m not finished.”  She doesn’t exactly know where to begin describing what went through her head that week after they first kissed, as she lay in bed while Dorota waited on her, as she ignored all his calls and texts, dead to the world.  She doesn’t know, so she jumps in with both feet, designer heels and all.  “Those past few weeks, I was happier than I had been for a long time.  I mean, Dorota noticed it, even Serena noticed it.”  She makes a face to show him how unlikely she thought that was.  “If you and I had decided that kiss meant something, anything, do you really think things could’ve stayed the same?  I would’ve lost a friend.  If not then, then eventually.  When it didn’t work out.”

“I wouldn’t have let that happen,” he finally manages.  “You know that.”

She stares at him for a few long moments, her eyes swimming in a sea of doubt.  It’s a look he’s come to know all too well over the years. He wishes (as he always does) that he could scoop them out and set them down on dry land.  Confident.  Assured.  He wishes she could believe in herself and her relationships and not just put up a strong front all the time.

“I wouldn’t,” he insists, holding her gaze.

And she regards him carefully, thinking that this is the guy (however poorly groomed and appallingly dressed) who let her take over his place when she needed an escape, who brought her pizza and talked her through a pros and cons list, who guarded the bathroom door while she vomited inside the stall, who routinely saved her from her own worst instincts.  This is the guy who sat beside her in this very loft and said, you’ll still have me.  “You’re right,” she concedes for the second time that night (he shouldn’t get used to it), “I’m the one who’s been a lousy friend lately.  Because I was caught up in this fairy tale, that turned out not be such a fairy tale after all.  And you were here the whole time.”  She paces in place for a few seconds.  “But someone once told me that you have to decide what’s most important to you: keeping your pride and getting nothing, or taking a risk, and maybe, maybe having everything.”

“Oh yeah, who said that?” he asks, the corners of his mouth turning up in recognition of his own words from all those years ago.

She doesn’t answer, just says, “You asked me earlier why I came here tonight.  I came here because I’m ready to take a risk if you are.”  She takes one tantalizing step closer to him before she says her next words: “Because I think you could be everything.”

When she says everything, she doesn’t really mean everything.  She doesn’t mean that she would let him become the center of her world, that she would let her existence hinge on the fact that the two of them are together, or that she would allow herself to feel small and worthless without him by her side.  But the thing about Dan Humphrey is he already knows that without her saying it in so many words.

He takes a step closer to her too.  And at the same time, she takes another, and then he surrenders and follows her lead.  Because she’s right: he’s used to doing that.

This time, when their lips meet, it’s the same as before but different also.  She still smells nice (sometimes he catches a whiff of her perfume on the subway and blindly follows the trail until it disappears), and he still smells like onions (honest to God, it’s the only explanation for why her eyes sting as he wraps an arm around her waist.)

It doesn’t take her long to remember that he wrote about this—he sat at his desk in the next room and imagined this, fantasized about this, and then wrote about it.  And then she feels her cheeks flush, even though he’s the one who should be embarrassed, and she’s angry with him all over again for making her feel this way.

She detaches herself from him, but only slightly, so that she’s breathing into his mouth.  “I just remembered…the other reason I came tonight,” she says.  “There’s a uh, midnight showing of Rosemary’s Baby at Brooklyn Heights tonight.  We should really leave now if we don’t want to be late.”

He doesn’t remove his fingers where they’ve rooted themselves in her hair.  Instead, he leans in and sucks her bottom lip, the tip of his nose brushing hers.

She lets her hand rest on his shoulder again.  “Though on second thought…”

“…we’ve both seen the beginning of the movie—” he continues.

“—at least ten times,” she agrees, pulling him towards the couch.

“Right.”  He follows, step by step, until they fall to the cushions.  “So it won’t hurt to miss the first half-hour…” he lets his fingertips trace a ghost-like path across her jaw line, “or the first whole-hour…” and down her neck, “or you know, I actually still have the DVD in my room…”

She pulls away again to look him straight in the eye: Blair Waldorf’s own version of Medusa’s withering glare.  “Humphrey?”  Perseus never would’ve stood a chance, he thinks.

“Hm?” is all he can manage under her hypnotic gaze, his limbs already hardening into stone.

She smiles sweetly, and the next words she says are the ones that take this past year full circle: “Shut up.”

His imagination being what it is, he couldn’t have written a better ending if he’d tried.

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