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.
The green ball whizzes by, just out of reach of your forehand. The thunderous applause and screams are instant and vibrate the hard court beneath your feet.
"Game, set, match. Miss Van der Woodsen wins the championship 6-3, 5-7, 7-5," the umpire says, though the only one in Rod Laver Arena who cares at this point is you.
The hellfire of the Australian sun beats down on your back as you jog to the net. You hate this part. Truly, unbelievable and undeniably hate it.
"Great match," you say, sticking your hand out in a false gesture. You've never really gotten the hang of losing and it shows.
"I know." She's obviously gotten the hang of beating you, though.
You slam your third shot of tequila onto the bar and try to sear the fresh memory of today's defeat from your mind. You think it's working.
"I'll have what she's having."
And just like that it's not working anymore. Serena Van der Woodsen sits next to you like you're old friends and you don't actively hate each other.
The bartender places a fresh shot in front of her.
"What are you doing?" You ask.
She sniffs the silver liquid. "Having a shot of tequila."
"Right, try not to hurt yourself princess." You desperately want to be wherever she isn't.
"I'm sure I can drink you under any table on this continent."
You stop halfway to the door and turn around.
This was a bad idea. Possibly the worst idea you've ever had.
"You're drunk," Serena slurs.
"So." It's the best you can come up with.
She laughs and her hair falls into her face. You push it behind her ear then look at your hand like you've never seen it before.
"Why did I just do that?" Tequila has this effect on your tongue. The one where it stops being connected to your brain.
"Because you like me," she smirks.
"I can't stand you."
"Because you think I'm hot."
That one you can't quite deny.
Your naked back hits the mattress and you think you should have just denied her hotness. That's when this whole thing got way out of control.
Serena's hand sneaks its way onto your skin and glues itself to your breast. A loud gasp escapes your lips and you arch into her palm.
"Do you like it?" She asks.
She replaces her palm with her lips.
"What about now?"
You just shake your head because the use of words are a long way from here.
Suddenly three fingers plunge into your center and a groan that doesn't even compare to the sounds you make on the court erupts into the room.
"What about now?"
Your body is sore like you've played a French Open marathon match that lasted until 22-20 in the third set. You wonder which hotel room you landed in as you roll out of bed.
The bathroom light stays off because you drank a bottle of tequila and you know better than to turn it on. The cold water is a relief against your face. Each splash clears your head and makes room for questions you should have asked before it got this far.
The bathroom door opens behind you.
"Come back to bed."
It's still the middle of the night and the darkness has you convinced the questions can wait until the sun comes up.
You've heard stories about the Van der Woodsen training regimen and have to admit that even for a spoiled princess, her stamina is worthy of awe.
You're face down on the bed wondering when you'll be able to move again. She's plastered to your side, studiously working on leaving a hickey on your neck.
The tequila wore off a long time ago and the fact that you're still here worries you a little, but not enough to leave.
"Well, isn't this fucking brilliant." The unfamiliar voice forces you to jump up nearly hitting Serena in the face.
"Mother?!" Serena's voice is as strained as her face is pale.
You're both dressed now and sitting as far away from one another as possible. Serena is on the bed and you're in the chair by the window calculating how far the fall would be.
"The Daily Telegraph," Duchess Lily Van der Woodsen throws the newspaper on the bed. "The London Times," and another. "The New York Post, The Herald Sun." A thick stack of newspapers fall onto the bed, some slipping to the floor. "This is an absolute disaster," her anger clips the edges of her British accent.
"It's not a big deal, mother."
"Not a big deal! There are pictures of you up against a dingy wall with your hand up this one's skirt on the front page of every newspaper in the world. Even the parts that don't count." Duchess Van der Woodsen looks at you like she might throw you out of the window before you get the chance to jump. "You couldn't wait until you were behind closed doors?"
"Apparently not," Serena says and you nearly fall out of your chair.
"You'll have to get married."
"What?!" The word is chorused by nearly everyone in the rapidly filling room.
The Duchess holds court surrounded by the Van der Woodsen publicist, attorney, assistant, coach and a young man whose sole purpose seems to be filling the Duchess' glass with what looks like water, but you suspect is something else.
"Are you outta ya fuckin' mind?" Your coach yells, his Brooklyn accent doesn't care that he's talking to royalty. "They had sex. Big deal."
"Mr. Humphrey, this is a very big deal indeed. If Blair were a man, we'd be doing the exact same thing," Duchess Van der Woodsen barely spares Rufus a look.
"That doesn't make it less fucked up," he says, "just politically correct."
Serena calls out to you as you run out of the room.
"This is crazy," you nearly scream as Serena follows you into the bathroom. She closes the door and leans against it.
"Welcome to my life," she says. You think it was meant to be a joke, but her voice can't quite seem to make it there.
"I don't want your life."
Your words thud onto the ground and wait to be picked up or kicked.
"Me either." You think it's the first time she's said it. Even to herself. "If we set the date for just after Wimbledon, we'll have plenty of time to cancel. Then everybody will just forget about it."
"This is the real world. You do realize that, right?"
"Sometimes," she smiles, but it's sad. Maybe it always has been and you just never noticed before.
"We're leaving. Tell the Queen she can kiss my ass," Rufus says as you and Serena walk back in.
Duchess Van der Woodsen looks murderous. "You have two choices," she can barely get the words out through her clenched teeth. "Follow the plan we've set forth or we make a call to Nike and Gatorade. I believe your contract is up for renegotiation?"
"Let's go." Rufus is halfway to the door when he realizes you're not following him.
This is supposed to be your year. More than that, it's supposed to be your coach's year. And your mom's. And everybody else who gave up too much for you to get here.
"You'd ask them to choose?" It's the first time you speak to the Duchess directly.
"I won't have to ask," she says.
And you believe her.
The mob outside JFK is like nothing you've ever seen before. Bulbs flash. Questions get screamed. They own every inch of the space around you.
"How long have you been seeing Serena?!"
"Did you let her win in Australia?!"
"How does it feel to have sex with a Princess?!"
The questions rain down on you as Rufus pushes you through the throng.
A car waits for you at the curb, but you don't know if you'll get there with all the pieces of yourself still in tact.
"This is unbelievable." Dan hasn't been able to say anything else since you flopped down on his bed twenty minutes ago. "I mean, are you serious? Is this for real?"
"No, it's an elaborate plan to get me the fame and fortune I deserve." You close your eyes and try to picture the ten year plan you're only three years into, but it's not as clear as it was yesterday.
"This is unbelievable."
"I'm firing you as my best friend," you say.
"OK, I'm sorry," he says as he sits on the bed. "It's just that this is...."
You throw a pillow at him.
"Australia is a big place," Eleanor says.
You know there's more to come so you keep quiet.
"A big place with millions of beautiful women," she continues.
You're still in Dan's bedroom, but he's in the kitchen helping Rufus with the chili. Your mom's still in her uniform and you can't wait until she can quit and never has to see it again.
"You couldn't have sex with one of them?"
"I figured I'd start at the top and work my way down."
You're both quiet for awhile, thinking about all the ways in which you just fucked up.
"You don't have to do this."
"I know." That's what you say, but you know that in the real world, where you're still just a pretty face who can hit a ball, doing anything else isn't an option.
To Be Continued
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