DISCLAIMER: Gossip Girl and its characters are the property of Cecily von Ziegesar and Warner Bros. No infringement intended.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
SPOILERS: Through Ep. 1.03

Dinner in the City
By Dane


Serena glanced in the mirror one last time. She wore her hair loose; the long curls framed her face without obscuring her features. Her make-up was simple, a touch of mascara and lip gloss. She had retrieved the ear rings she knew Blair was fond of and the new Oscar de la Renta black cashmere and silk scoop neck sweater and skinny tweed pants looked good on her long frame. She rarely wore so little color, but when she had tried it on, she knew instinctively that Blair would love the style and the monochrome colors.

And she needed to know, really know that Blair was going to love something about the evening. Serena took a deep breath to calm her nerves. The past five days had been a whirlwind. Between classes and trying to orchestrate the perfect first date, her anxiety had steadily climbed throughout the week.

Serena nearly jumped out of her skin when her cell phone rang. She glanced at the caller ID and flipped it open.

"Hi, Eric." She spoke quickly as she walked out of her room.

He picked up on her nervousness immediately. "How are you doing?"

She didn't even consider lying to him. "I'm scared to death."

"Please tell me you didn't change the reservations for the sixth time."

She smiled at his teasing tone. "No. I kept the reservation I made a La Houppa." She glanced at her watch. "Speaking of reservations, I need to run; I don't want to be late to pick up Blair."

"Good luck, sis."

Blair pulled the curlers out of her hair and ran a brush through her brown locks. She surveyed the disaster that was her bedroom from the reflection in the mirror. Between the seven outfits, too many to count pairs of shoes and accessories she had tried on and discarded, clothing was strewn across the room. She finally settled on a black Donna Karan bubble dress she had purchased the previous day.

Trying to zip up the dress with shaking fingers made her regret banishing Dorota from her room for the rest of the evening. Blair had snapped when she realized that the housekeeper had picked up on a nervousness she couldn't easily explain.

She had been on edge the entire week. She had found herself thoroughly freaked out when Serena had greeted her on Monday morning in her typically touchy feely way. Even though Serena assured her that their classmates would only notice if they acted differently than they normally did, she wasn't as confident and she found herself scrutinizing her fellow students' actions to a degree even she found annoying.

A knock at her door brought her focus back to the present. "Miss Blair, Miss Serena is downstairs."

Blair took a deep breath and pulled her midnight blue wrap around her shoulders before opening the door. "Thank you, Dorota. Please see to my room and that will be all for tonight."

She swept past the housekeeper and descended the stairs. She paused on the bottom step, grateful that she saw Serena before the blonde saw her. Serena was standing in front of the window, the lights of the city giving her profile an ethereal glow. Blair couldn't remember her ever looking so lovely.

Serena felt Blair's eyes on her and took a moment to soak in the open admiration before turning to her friend. What she saw took her breath away. Blair was resplendent in the black dress with the plunging neckline.

They approached each other shyly and spoke at the same time.

"You look great."

"You look amazing."

Serena reached for Blair's hand hoping the contact would help her settle down. "We have reservations at La Houppa at 7:30, but if you'd mphf." If Blair's fingertips against her lips had not effectively stopped her speech, then the chaste but lingering kiss she bestowed would have.

Blair broke the contact and looked into green eyes dancing with energy. "Let's go then."

Serena took a step back and let Blair precede her into the elevator. The ride down was silent and though she desperately wanted to hold her hand, Serena resisted until they were tucked safely into the back of the limo.

Blair looked down at their joined hands resting in her lap and did not immediately notice the single long stemmed white rose Serena offered.

"I wanted to get you a dozen, but I didn't want you to have to explain them to your mother."

Touched beyond measure at the simple gesture, Blair brought the petals near and inhaled their sweet fragrance. "This is perfect. Thank you." She kissed Serena's cheek then sat back against the seat.

Silence settled over them; Blair mesmerized by the gentle repeating stroke of Serena's thumb over her knuckles; Serena felt a little lost for conversation now that the evening was upon them.

She had spent the past five days thinking of nothing but and planning for the next few hours alone with Blair. Serena wished she had googled "what to say to your best friend on your first date," as the silence stretched between them.

Unable to tolerate the quiet any longer, Serena blurted the first thing that popped into her mind. "I can cook."

Blair flinched at the silence shattering declaration. She glanced at Serena and wide green eyes stared back. She had to press her fist against her lips to keep a laugh from escaping.

Shitshitshitshitshit. Serena hung her head and wished she could crawl in a hole and die.

Blair tried to remain composed but the giggles could not be contained. "You didn't tell me you had perfected your rain man impersonation."

Blair's laughter was infectious and pulled Serena from her embarrassment. When she spoke she did spot on mimic of Dustin Hoffman, "I'm an excellent driver."

They collapsed into a new fit of laughter, leaning on each other for support, as Serena alternated her declaration and the quote from the movie several more times. Her hands pressed to her middle, Blair rested her head on Serena's shoulder and tried to catch her breath.

Serena pulled two tissues and her compact from her purse. She checked her make-up. "Let me see if I managed to ruin your make-up."

Blair raised and angled her head toward Serena. Their faces were so close together their breath mingled and the energy in the car quickly became more intimate.

"Would I be breaking first date etiquette if I kissed you before dinner?" Serena whispered against Blair's lips just as the car came to a stop in front of the restaurant. She pulled back and watched Blair blow out a frustrated breath.

They each accepted the hand of the driver as they exited the car. Serena walked a step ahead of Blair and held the door to the establishment open for her. Once they were seated, Serena handed a California chardonnay to their server to be chilled. The corkage fee was a small price to pay to make certain Blair had her favorite white wine with dinner.

They were seated at the most private table in the restaurant and Serena kept stealing glances as Blair studied the menu.

"They have some really good chicken dishes here."

"Oh. I hadn't had a reason to tell you yet. I'm a vegetarian now. I gave up red meat and chicken a couple of months ago." Blair looked up from the menu. "S, what's wrong?"

"I should have asked. I just assumed things hadn't changed and didn't even think to ask."

Blair laid her hand over Serena's. "It's fine. I have enough options that making a choice is going to be difficult." She gave the hand beneath hers a squeeze and offered her a smile. "If I were in your shoes, I wouldn't have thought to ask either."

"Will it bother you if I have the chicken?"

"Why would it?"

Serena flashed a mega watt smile at her. "Because I plan on kissing you later and I don't want my chicken breath to turn you off."

"Eeww. Well when you put it that way…"

Serena gestured towards Blair when their server returned with the wine. He presented the label and poured a small amount to taste in Blair's glass. She checked the bouquet and took a healthy swallow.

"It's wonderful. Thank you." She directed the comments toward the server, but her eyes never left Serena's face, which had taken on a slightly pink hue.

Their wine glasses full, Serena lifted hers in a simple toast. "To new beginnings between old friends."

"To new beginnings." They clinked glasses and held each other's gaze over the candle light until the waiter returned to take their orders.

With his departure Blair took control of conversation. "What did you mean earlier when you said you can cook?"

Serena glanced at Blair to see if she was teasing and saw only sincere interest. "When I was at boarding school, I lived in the dormitory and several of the girls on my floor had a potluck dinner once a week."

She took a sip of her wine before continuing. "I got tired of cafeteria food and of eating out. I didn't feel right just crashing their dinner without contributing, so I asked for some cooking lessons."

Serena fidgeted under Blair's scrutiny. "What?"

Blair shook her head. "I'm trying to imagine you wearing an apron and whipping up some culinary delight."

Serena laughed. "No, I wouldn't call what I'm capable of throwing together a culinary delight. But I do make a mean vegetable stir fry that fits into your new dietary practice."

Blair still couldn't quite see Serena chopping vegetables. "You'll have to make it for me sometime."

"I wish the apartment remodel was done, if it were I'd cook for you tomorrow night."

"I have a kitchen and with Eleanor gone again, we would have the place to ourselves."

Serena took advantage of her full wine glass to process a few pieces of data. One, Blair wanted her to cook for her. Two, they now essentially had a second date on the books. And three, they would be alone in Blair's home tonight when Serena saw her to her door.

Blair's natural tendency to organize and control things kicked into high gear. "Just email me a list of what you want Dorota to shop for. I'll have her pick up everything you need and then give her the night off or you'll have more help than you want in the kitchen."

Serena waited as the server set twin plates of pear and asiago cheese ravioli in walnut sauce on the table. "I appreciate the offer, but I'd rather do the shopping myself. Do you want to go with me?"

Blair blew on the pasta perched on her fork. "Why, do you have some fantasy of seeing me in an apron?"

Serena choked on the water she was drinking. An image of Blair in nothing but an apron leapt into her mind.

"I didn't until you just said it."

Blair felt the heat rise on her cheeks. Based on the blush on Serena's cheeks, she knew exactly how the blonde had just pictured her. She checked her feelings about being thought of in a sexual manner by her best friend and realized there was no unease.

"As long as you aren't picturing me in stiletto heels…" she trailed off and Serena choked on her water again.

She pulled the napkin from her lap and wiped her mouth. She pointed her fork at Blair. "You have to stop saying things like that unless you want me to drown on spring water here at the table."

Serena received a patented Blair Waldorf smirk, but the brunette complied with the request.

Serena slid into the limo and smiled when Blair immediately laced their fingers together and snuggled against her side. They had enjoyed a wonderful meal, talked late into the evening over post dinner coffee and Serena found herself wishing the date wasn't nearing its end. She closed her eyes and soaked up the warmth emanating from Blair where there bodies touched.

"I wish I could take you dancing. Not some dance club, but a jazz club where I could slow dance with you for the rest of the night." Serena shifted until she could wrap her arm around Blair and pull her closer.

"I'm not ready to let you go either." Blair whispered near her ear.

The emotion welled up and took over before Serena could rein it in. "I'm so in love with you."

Blair pulled back just enough to see Serena without leaving the shelter of her arms. "S…"

Serena dashed at the tears threatening to fall. "If this were a normal first date, you'd be right to think I'm nuts. But it isn't. I've known you all my life. You're my best friend and I love you. I don't mean to scare you, but I'm crazy about you, B." She took a breath as the limo coasted to a stop in front of Blair's home. "I don't expect you to say it back. I've had months to adjust to what I feel for you and you can't possibly be in the same place. I just…I couldn't…"

Blair cupped her face and placed gentle kisses on her forehead, her eyes and her cheeks before softly claiming her lips. Serena whimpered against Blair's mouth as she slowly pulled back.

Blair kissed her again until the driver opened the door. She accepted his hand and stepped out before turning and offering her hand to Serena. "Spend the night with me."

The End

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