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.

Tango in D Minor
By Janine


Part One

"Ugh!" Serena declared sweeping into Eric's room, her face lighting up in a smile a moment later as she beamed at him. "Away with this!" she declared grinning, pushing his food tray away and dumping a crisp white paper bag on his lap. "I brought lunch," she continued plopping onto the bed next to him.

"CocoLuxe?" Eric asked hopefully.

"Of course," Serena responded reaching for the bag and opening it, wafting it in front of Eric's face before he laughed and grabbed the bag from her, reaching inside.

"What about you?" Eric asked as he removed the contents of the bag and realized that there wasn't enough food in it for both of them. "You don't need to watch your figure," he said looking over at her.

Serena laughed and flopped down on the mattress her torso by Eric's feet as her legs dangled over the edge and kicked back and forth lazily.

"I had lunch with Blair," Serena responded turning to face him. "She bought the Cinnamon Knot," she continued nodding towards Eric's desert before closing one of her eyes and extending her hand, pretending to pick up the pastry and poke it in his mouth.

Eric laughed and shook his head, glad to see his sister in such a good mood. She had been in a good mood a lot lately, which he greatly preferred to the melancholy air that had surrounded her when she first came back home.

"You're in a good mood today," Eric commented lightly as he unwrapped his sandwich, his eyes moving over to watch Serena.

"I am," Serena agreed stretching a little. "Aren't I usually?" she asked quirking an eyebrow at him.

"Well, yeah," Eric replied in between bites. "It's just that you seem … extra happy lately," he went on watching her closely again. He thought he might have an idea why she was in such a good mood.

"Why," Serena began pointedly staring at her little brother. "Are you looking at me like that?" she went on reaching out her hands as if she was going to tickle him, only to smile as he automatically pulled his feet back, hugging his sandwich to him and he eyed her wearily.

"Have you seen Dan lately?" Eric asked, surprised when a weary sigh emerged from his sister.

"No," Serena replied finally shifting on the bed, restless. "We're just friends."

"He dumped you?" Eric asked surprised. On a completely aesthetic level he could admit that his sister was stunning, and he knew that boys (and men) were usually falling all over themselves to get even the tiniest bit of attention from her. It made him want to punch a lot of people in the face, but he liked Dan.

"We weren't even going out," Serena responded making a face as she looked at her brother. "Besides, if anyone did any dumping it was me."


Serena had seemed to actually like him.

"It's just not a good time," Serena said sighing turning away from Eric to look out the window. "Besides things were always going wrong. It was probably like a sign from God or something."

"I'm sure that's what He spends his time doing," Eric commented sarcastically, smiling as Serena stuck her tongue out at him.

"I guess you'll have to take care of the Van der Woodsen/Humphrey love connection," Serena teased, biting on her bottom lip as she looked over at Eric, releasing her lip and smiling when she saw him blush.

Eric opened his mouth to respond, but before he could get anything out Serena's cell phone began to ring.

"Saved by the bell," she muttered at him before reaching down for her oversized purse. "Yeah," Serena said into her phone as she lay back down on the bed.

Eric shook his head. Their mother had most certainly taught them better manners than that.

"Hey," Serena said a second later, her face lighting up as she grinned goofily up at the ceiling.

Eric's eyebrow rose.

That was an extra happy smile if he had ever seen one.

"Yeah … totally … no, it's fine. Really … really," Serena said into the phone laughing airily, her feet kicking over the edge of the bed again. "He hasn't eaten it yet. Yeah, I told him. I don't know, I'll ask him," Serena said turning towards Eric who tried to pretend like he hadn't been intently eavesdropping. "Do you …" she began speaking to Eric, "Why not?" she asked a second later talking into the phone once more. She was then silent for a moment listening to the other end before she started to laugh. "I'll see you later," she said a couple seconds after that. "Okay. Come on, stop it. Me too … me too! Okay, bye."

"Who was that?" Eric asked, with what he hoped was complete nonchalance.

"Blair," Serena responded dropping the phone onto the bedspread. "Being an idiot," she added a moment later grinning before flipping onto her stomach. "I put some new songs on my Ipod. If you like them I'll upload them onto yours and bring it back tomorrow," she continued reaching over the edge of the bed to lug her purse onto it.

Eric shook his head. He could have sworn that was an extra happy conversation.

Oh well, maybe she really was just in a good mood and it had absolutely nothing to do with boys.

"Cool, what've you got?" Eric asked reaching for the earphone Serena was holding out to him.


Part Two

A Month Later

Serena breathed in deeply as she heard her mother's voice ring out from the kitchen. Plastering a smile on her face she backtracked until she was standing in the doorway of the kitchen area.

"Yes?" she asked as pleasantly as she could muster.

"Where are you going?" Lily asked wiping her hands on a towel before her cool blue eyes focused intently on her daughter.

"To Blair's," Serena responded still smiling.

Blair had been right, after the Ostroff incident Lily had been quite unimpressed with her and rather critical of Serena when she and Blair had started to spend time together again. But, after Blair's purging of the complimentary bar Lily had begun to warm up to the brunette again.

Serena hadn't particularly wanted to have the conversation with her mother, but when Lily had found the bar empty the only way to avoid World War Three breaking out in the living room was to come clean.

The conversation had actually gone remarkably well, and Serena had to admit that she was rather surprised when Lily had looked hurt instead of smug and condescending when she told her about rehab.

When Serena finished telling her about how Blair had dumped all of the alcohol to preserve her 'new leaf', her mother had simply commented "at least there's someone you trust with these things" and rubbed her arm lightly staring at her before sighing deeply and leaving the room to prepare for a dinner date.

"I feel like I should be paying Eleanor rent money since she seems to be putting you up these days," Lily responded as Serena's smile finally faltered.

"There's no need to be so melodramatic," Serena sighed. Eleanor would have had to have been around to be put out by her presence.

No, she and Blair had there own little domestic paradise during Eleanor's frequent absences. Gabriella confined herself to the kitchen in the morning so she was often unaware of Serena's presence in the house, and by the time she arrived in the evenings Gabriella had usually gone. It was quite a nice set up actually.

"Really?" Lily asked arching a perfectly sculpted, impossibly blonde eyebrow. "Can you even remember the last time you spent three consecutive nights here?"

"Can you?" Serena snapped before she could think better of it.

Lily's eyes narrowed and for a second Serena was sure that she had just sassed herself out of a night with Blair.

"Watch it," Lily said in a deadly calm voice.

"It's just Blair," Serena said in the most penitent tone she could muster. "We're just going to be hanging out at her place. Really, it's totally innocent. It's not a big deal."

"I don't have a problem with you spending time with Blair," Lily responded sighing softly, shifting to lean against the kitchen counter before returning her gaze to Serena. "It's just that … you're my daughter and I would like to see you every so often, perhaps even talk to you for more than five seconds as you fly out the door."

Serena stared at her mother for a long moment taken back by the genuinely wistful look in Lily's eyes. At times like that she thought that she was sometimes too hard on her mother. Lily wasn't always the best at showing her affection but Serena knew that she did care.

"I'll be home for the rest of the week," Serena promised softly, smiling. "Maybe on Saturday we could do brunch or something. Catch up a little."

Lily nodded then added, "Very well. Go play with Blair," before waving towards the penthouse door, the small smile playing at the edges of her lips softening her words.

Serena grinned widely at that and stepped further into the kitchen. Walking over to her mother she then hugged Lily tightly and kissed her cheek before flying out the door.

Lily shook her head and sighed before smiling herself.


Part Three

Waldorf Brownstone

Serena moaned into the skin of Blair's neck as her fingers trailed up the brunette's nude torso roughly, her teeth nipping at the fair skin of Blair's neck while her hand cupped Blair's breast through her bra, massaging the full, soft mound.

"So warm," Serena murmured into Blair's ear, her lips moving to kiss the brunette's cheek as Blair's hand slid over her hips and over her ass, griping and squeezing. "You feel so good," Serena groaned pushing back into Blair's hands before pressing her hips forward, straddling Blair's thigh as her own pressed into the heat at the apex of Blair's legs.

Serena moaned as Blair gasped, covering the smaller girl's lips with her own, breathing in Blair's sigh of pleasure.

Blair's panties were soaked. She could feel the damp slickness against her thigh and it made her head spin.

"You taste so good," Serena said, her tongue flicking against Blair's chin before she began to kiss her way down. "You smell so good," she continued softly, raggedly as she buried her nose in the warm skin of Blair's neck and breathed in deeply, nuzzling, burrowing into Blair.

However, a few moments later Serena pulled back from Blair's skin, golden hair falling in front of her face as she stared down at the flushed and breathless brunette beneath her.

"You're so beautiful," Serena said softly, her eyes locked on Blair. "You break my heart."

Blair's lips parted at that as if she wanted to say something but no words came out. All she could do was take a shuddering breath, her body trembling beneath Serena's and then she surged up, her hand moving to the back of Serena's head, holding the blonde in place as she kissed her with a desperate hunger.

They kissed for long moments, Blair supporting herself on one arm while the other held Serena tightly to her ensuring that the blonde could not take her lips away from her – not that such a thought would ever have occurred to Serena. However, eventually the brunette's arm gave out and she tumbled back down onto the mattress, Serena flowing down with her, her lips never leaving Blair's.

Serena's hand moved over Blair's stomach slowly until her fingers brushed the waistband of the brunette's panties, lingering there for a moment before they slipped underneath the fabric. A moment later, long, tapered fingers were sliding through the moist heat and neatly trimmed hair of Blair's sex.

"Oh god," Blair breathed out, her eyes shut tightly, her hand grasping at Serena's forearm as her face contorted almost as if she were in pain.

Blair's hips jerked, her thighs twitching slightly open before they then pressed together once more, trapping Serena's hand awkwardly between her legs.

"B," Serena said softly, the letter coming out of her mouth as a sigh moments later when Blair's legs still hadn't unclamped. "It's okay," Serena said blowing some hair out of her face. "I'm going to take my hand away," she continued attempting to pull her hand out of Blair's underwear.

A few seconds later the brunette's legs unclamped and Serena was able to pull her hand free.

Ignoring the tantalizing wetness coating her fingers Serena flopped down onto her back on the mattress next to Blair, her eyes fluttering shut as she breathed in deeply and released the air she had taken in before repeating the process in an attempt to calm her body down. Once she felt able to think again, Serena turned her head to the side only to be greeted by Blair's back.

The brunette had curled onto her side facing away from her.

"Hey," Serena said twisting herself so that she was curled behind Blair's back. "What's wrong?"

"Oh nothing," Blair responded her voice choked as she turned her head into her pillow. "I'm just frigid, that's all."

"You're not frigid," Serena responded stroking Blair's arm lightly, though she knew her tone sounded less than convincing. The truth was she was kind of bewildered by Blair's behavior. She knew that Blair was attracted her, that she was sexually excited by her. When she'd had her hand in her panties Blair had been wet, wetter than she was most of the time when she touched herself. And the sounds Blair made when she touched her, the way her body responded to her touch all told Serena that Blair wanted her as much she wanted Blair. And yet …

"You could have at least tried to sound like you meant that," Blair responded curling away from Serena even more, blinking back tears.

She knew that Serena wanted her, and the crazy thing was that even though she kept on stopping them from going all of the way, she wanted Serena too … badly. Even curling away from the blonde, completely mortified and filled with self-loathing, she could still feel the throbbing between her legs.

She wanted to do it, she just couldn't let go, couldn't relax completely. She mentally screamed at her body to relax and unclamp, she tried to will her thighs to part and allow Serena's hand to explore her, but her body was traitorous and would not follow her commands.

Serena kept trying to tell her that it was okay and shifting with unfulfilled need the blonde would hold her and talk with her and laugh with her like nothing was the matter. But Blair knew that she was disappointing Serena, that the blonde was becoming increasingly frustrated with her inability to just do it. Serena denied it, but Blair knew. She knew.

The week before she had awoken in the middle of night and found that Serena was not lying beside her. She tried to go back to sleep, but she missed Serena's presence in the bed and had gotten up and wandered down the hall to find her. Seeing a thin bar of light on the floor by the bathroom door she had walked over to the bathroom, a teasing smile on her lips when a sound from within stopped her in her tracks.

Serena was moaning behind the door and Blair could just detect a faint wet rubbing sound from within the room. Blair knew those moans she had heard them before in her bedroom, and on the couch. They were sounds Serena made when Blair's lips were on her and her hands were under her clothes. After that there had been no doubt in Blair's mind about what Serena was doing in the washroom.

And a few days before, as she made her way back to her bedroom from the shower before she had stopped just in front of her door to rub her towel over her face to remove some water droplets that were raining into her eyes from her hair. And when she did she heard the sound she'd heard the week before from within her room.

She had left the door slightly ajar when she went to the bathroom so Blair looked through the opening. Her bed was clearly visible and she could see Serena lying on her back, her legs drawn up and spread, her right hand moving furious beneath the blanket as she pressed Blair's pillow to her face, her hand moving and her hips pumping until her body froze and she came shaking uncontrollably for a minute before collapsing against the mattress as she struggled for breath.

Blair was convinced. She was frigid. She was disappointing Serena like she disappointed everyone else.

She claimed her virginity as a badge of honor, but the truth was she could take no more credit for it than a snowball could take for being cold. She was totally pathetic and fucked up and couldn't even let go around the one person she loved most in the world and who she knew loved her as well.

She was going to lose Serena. She was sure of it. She lost everyone.

She knew she wasn't good enough, and she was proving it to herself and Serena over and over again. The blonde couldn't be expected to put up with her forever.

"I meant it," Serena said gently, wrapping her arm around Blair, bending her head down to kiss her shoulder. "I mean it. I just …" Serena began making sure to keep her hold on Blair. "I don't understand exactly what … I mean, do you not want me …" Serena continued trailing off at as loss as to how to phrase the question. "We don't have to, I mean if you don't, if I'm doing something you don't want …" she went on awkwardly.

"You're not," Blair said uncurling a bit, the trepidation and worry in Serena's voice drawing her out of her own thoughts. "I do want you, I want this," she said wanting to turn around to look at Serena but her emotions were still too raw for that. "It's just still too much," she continued softly. "Please don't be mad."

"Mad?" Serena repeated as if she had never heard the word before. "Blair, I'm not mad, there's nothing to be mad about. You know you're my favorite," she continued before kissing Blair's shoulder again. "Look at me," Serena requested gently. "Please."

Reluctantly Blair turned around in the circle of Serena's arms until they were face to face. "It's okay, I promise," Serena said softly and then she leaned forward to kiss Blair's lips, sighing contently as the brunette relaxed against her.

Blair turned her head to the side to look at the alarm clock and then looked towards the bedroom door. Serena was taking the longest shower known to man and they were going to be late for school if the blonde didn't hurry up.

Sighing, Blair moved towards the bedroom door and pushed it open walking towards the bathroom. Fist balled up she lifted her hand to bang on the door and harass Serena until she got out of the shower. However, as she prepared to knock on the door she heard a faint moan come from behind the door along with the familiar sound of the shower.

Blair closed her eyes against the sting of tears that suddenly welled in them.

She knew it wasn't okay.


Part Four

Two Weeks Later

Serena put her book down on the table and reached for her coffee, her eyes lifting to scan the world beyond the window, a look of surprise coming across her features a moment later as she reached out to tap the glass, waving at the figure she had spotted walking by.

"Big as it is, Manhattan's actually kind of small," Dan said coming to a stop beside Serena's table once he made it inside the café.

They hadn't really spoken to each other much after the most awkward movie night ever, but he'd had time to deal with the demise of the romance that never was and he was beginning to think that they might actually be able to pull off the friends thing for real.

"Have a seat. The Raisin Cinnamon French Toast is great here, you should totally try it," Serena said kicking back the seat opposite her. "Unless you've been here before and already have a favorite. In that case, disregard all of the above," she went on smiling as he took a seat.

"I've never been, thanks for the recommendation," Dan said relaying the order to a waitress who materialized by the table a few seconds later. "So, you look …" Dan began once he had ordered taking a good look at Serena for the first time. "A little … down," he continued trying to be as diplomatic as possible. The truth was that he had only seen her look better.

"It's just been a rough couple of weeks," Serena said sighing before shrugging a little and smiling.

For days after the night Blair had called herself frigid the brunette had refused to allow Serena to do more than hug her and kiss her. Blair had relented somewhat in the past week but Serena still found herself being hesitant to touch the brunette because tension and anxiety radiated from Blair in waves whenever it seemed like things might get heated between them again. They were still spending as much time together as they had before but there was a strain and self-consciousness to their interactions that was starting to get to Serena. And the worse part about it was that she had absolutely no idea what to do about it.

"You wanna talk about it?" Dan asked seeing a small frown appear on Serena's lips as her gaze momentarily lost focus. Even though his romantic aspirations had fallen through in regards to Serena, there was still a part of him that looked at her and just wanted to try and help put her together again. "Friends, right?"

"I," Serena began forcing a smile onto her face before shaking her head lightly. "Yeah, I do actually, but I probably shouldn't," she continued ruefully.

"Ah," Dan said knowledgably, nodding his head, "Romantic trouble."

Serena looked over at him a bit uncomfortably.

"Don't worry. I'm not being passive aggressive or anything," Dan said a moment later realizing she could have interpreted his comment as a dig after the reason she had given him for not seeing each other. "It's water under the bridge, really. You can date whoever you want," he said making a mockingly grandiose sweeping motion with his hand to try and make his words as un-condescending as possible.

Serena leaned back in her chair regarding him silently for a few seconds, her gaze inscrutable.

"Why are you so certain I'm dating someone?" Serena asked finally looking over him, willing to take his assurance that they were fine at face value. It was one of the things she had always liked about Dan. He didn't play games. He just laid things out there just as it were. "Even Gossip Girl doesn't think I'm dating anyone."

"Okay, feel free to throw your coffee at me and storm out here if I'm wrong, but you are dating someone," Dan responded squaring his shoulders as if he was going into battle. He was confident about the conclusion he had come to after months of surreptitiously watching Serena and trying to figure out what happened between them. Well, he was fairly confident anyway. At the very least he was mostly confident. Okay, he was maybe just pretty confident, but that was still something. "Gossip Girl just hasn't picked up on it because it's not a guy," he continued breathing in deeply as he kept his gaze focused on Serena.

Serena stared at Dan unblinkingly in response.

"Blair," Dan went on somewhat unnerved by the blonde's look, not sure whether she was seconds away from breaking down and confirming his suspicion or taking him up on that offer to bathe him in coffee.

"Why would you," Serena began softly blinking rapidly though her eyes were still on him.

"You were holding hands at the movie," Dan responded simply, shrugging a little.

"Oh, you saw that," Serena muttered softly before a little smile touched the corner of her lips.

It helped explain why he gave up on her so quickly after the movie. The truth was her ego had been a little damaged when he had given up so easily. However, she could understand him not wanting to lose her to girl … twice.

"So do you want to talk about it?" Dan asked again taking her comment as an affirmative response to the 'are you dating Blair' question.

Serena smiled at that, a genuine one that reached her eyes, but shook her head again a second later looking tempted but uncertain. It would be weird to talk about what was going on with her and Blair with the guy she had almost dated, but didn't because she and Blair got together instead.

No matter how much she wanted to talk about it with someone she really shouldn't …

"It's just … I kind of know how guys feel," Serena said glancing up and looking over at Dan.

'Right, so much for the not talking about it thing,' she thought to herself.

Dan's eyebrows shot up at that. That wasn't what he was expecting to hear. He didn't really know what he was expecting her to say, just that it wasn't that.

"How so?"

Serena sighed deeply and leaned back in her chair. "I shouldn't talk about it," she said.

"You obviously want to talk about it, and well, you can trust me," Dan said seriously leaning forward, resting his elbows on the table. "I'm not going to tell anyone. Besides, I'm pretty sure that no one else knows, so I'm kind of your only option," he finished smiling crookedly.

Serena smiled at him and rolled her eyes, her fingers playing with the edge of the table. He was right, she did want to talk about it, and she really didn't have anyone else to talk about it with. She was beginning to drive herself insane going over the same information again and again in her head and maybe if she got an outside opinion she might be able to …

"She won't have sex with me," Serena blurted out, her voice mercifully soft as she said it, her eyes widening when she realized what had just come out of her mouth. She had meant to allude to the situation, to be tactful and coy, not to … well, she supposed it didn't really matter anymore.

Dan blinked rapidly, nodding his head slightly in rapid succession.

"Okay," he said finally, chewing on his bottom lip and staring at Serena with an uncertain smile on his face.

He hadn't expected that either. He thought that maybe she had inadvertently called Blair fat, or had forgotten her birthday, or had worn white after Labor Day or something. But sex … Serena and Blair … and sex … together … or the lack of it. No, he had not expected that.

Serena slumped back in her chair upon seeing Dan's reaction. She knew she shouldn't have said anything.

"Why?" Dan asked seeing Serena begin to shut down. "I mean why won't she … you know," he continued making a vague hand motion to indicate the act he couldn't think about without getting distracted and kind of turned on. He needed to focus, he was being a friend. He was more than his hormones. Or at least he would keep telling himself that.

"I don't know, I think … Blair is very controlled," Serena began softly, thoughtfully, relaxing a bit more with every word, "and it scares her to think about losing that … even with me."

Dan leaned back in his chair, "Well, I'm not exactly Oprah, but maybe …" he began deciding that as long as they didn't talk about make-up or Justin Timberlake that he could possibly handle being Serena's 'girlfriend' for the afternoon.


Part Five

Waldorf Brownstone

//Spotted: Queen B, looking fabulous in Chanel, loaded down with bags on 5th. What treasure troves of fashion lay inside of those brand name bags? Unfortunately, most of us will never find out.

It's strange to see B out these days without BFF, S. Could there be trouble at Tiffany's? We here at Gossip Girl certainly hope not. The Waldorf-van der Woodsen tag-team warms our cold and jaded little heart, and we wish the two hotties the best of luck. //

Blair sighed and glared at her laptop screen as if she could melt it with the fury in her eyes alone. She had to keep up with her press but often it was a thankless task. She actually didn't mind the first part of the report since she did look very good in that Chanel dress. Her mother had even commented on it which was about as common as seeing a monkey with a pancake on its head. She did not appreciate the speculation about her relationship with Serena however.

Normally she wouldn't let Gossip Girl's ramblings get to her, but her relationship with Serena had been a source of anxiety and panic for her in the past few weeks and she didn't appreciate a complete stranger speculating about it … especially because she was certain that there was trouble at Tiffany's.

She had overreacted when Serena had tried to move things to third base and she hadn't been able to do it, she realized that now. For days after the incident she had barely let Serena touch her fearing what would happen if things got serious again and she couldn't complete the mission.

She had managed to force herself to loosen up a little bit in the last week, but things were still strained between them. Serena seemed to be uncertain what type of touching would be allowed and what would make her shut down and had been very careful and hesitant with her. And even though Blair would have liked a bit more contact, she didn't push it, because how could she risk getting Serena worked up if she knew she couldn't take care of her?

Sighing again Blair scrolled further down the screen to see the next bit of gossip. Hopefully reading about how someone else's life sucked would cheer her up.

//Spotted: S and Lonely Boy sharing a table at Red Flame Coffee Shop. Could it be that our young paramour is lonely no more? Gossip Gawkers report that S and Lonely shared a long and intimate conversation over French toast and coffee. Has S already been taken off of the market again? (And before we even knew she was back on it, naughty girl!)

Only time will tell, but here are some pictures of the biscuties.

L'amour or lunch? You decide.//

Blair stared at the images of Serena and Dan seated opposite each other at the coffee shop. They were intently focused on each other and in many pictures both had their elbows on the table were leaning towards each other as if they were completely riveted by one another. And as if that wasn't bad enough, there was even a picture of Serena eating some French toast off of the plate in front of Dan.

Blair shut her laptop quickly and stood, standing immobile by her desk for a moment before she moved slowly over to her bed and collapsed on it.

She had talked to Serena a couple of hours after she left the coffee shop and all Serena had said to her was, "I ran into Dan".

Blair hugged her pillow to her.

"I ran into Dan" was not an adequate description of what had happened when Serena had in fact had an hour and a half long conversation with Dan that included sharing food items.

"I had coffee with Dan," or "I talked with Dan," would have been vague but somewhat accurate. But "I ran into Dan" did not even begin to cover it.

Blair released her pillow and stared up at the ceiling trying unsuccessfully to blink back tears.

Something needed to be done, she thought as she rolled back onto her side and hugged her pillow again as she curled into the fetal position.

There was no way that she was going to lose Serena, especially not to a 'Fish t-shirt wearing, wanna-be hipster, John Cusack-Woody Allen if they mated, public-transit riding, no trust fund, non-legacy' loser like Dan Humphrey.

Nobody put Blair Waldorf in the corner, nobody.

Blair sniffled and brought her hands up to her face wiping away the tear tracks that had formed.

She was going to fight for her woman.


Part Six

The Palace … four days later

Serena sighed, brushing some stray strands of blonde hair out of her face as she walked in the door of the penthouse, rotating her neck around trying to loosen it up before she headed into the kitchen to grab a bottle of water.

Uncapping the bottle of water, she headed towards the living room to relax in front of the TV for a while before calling Blair to see if she wanted to come over later. However, as she made her way towards the living room she saw something red out of the corner of her eye that seemed to be out of place.

With the mouth of the water bottle still resting on her lips, Serena turned her head to look at the object only to find that she was staring at a rose petal lying on the floor. Drawing the water bottle away from her lips, Serena saw that there was a stream of petals leading all the way to her bedroom.

Absently, Serena rested the bottle of water on a nearby table and followed the flowers.

Music was playing softly in the background when Serena opened the door to her room. The room was lit by candlelight and the rose petals continued past the door leading to her bed where Blair was lying in a black stretch lace chemise with a red ribbon lace-up front and a matching g-string. The brunette's back was resting against the headboard as she stared straight forward at Serena, her index finger resting teasingly against her bottom lip in a coquettish and inviting way.

"B," Serena breathed out softly, her eyes focused on Blair. The blonde bit her bottom lip and began to chew on it.

"Were you expecting someone else?" Blair drawled teasingly, a smile tugging at her painted red lips before she shifted on the bed and swung her legs over the side, standing up gracefully a few seconds later and walking over to Serena.

"Expecting … else?" Serena breathed out not even really aware of what she was saying as Blair walked towards her.

Serena's eyes were locked on the brunette. Blair had on a g-string that covered her below the waist, but her top half had no such protection and as she moved towards the blonde. Serena could see the pale flesh of Blair's breasts and her dusky nipples through the sheer material of the chemise, the creamy mounds swaying hypnotically as Blair moved towards her.

Serena blinked rapidly and breathed in deeply before wetting her lips.

Serena's reaction was unmistakable and Blair smiled softly as she came to a stop in front of the blonde.

Blair lifted her hand to Serena's cheek and softly stroked it with the back of her hands.

She was going to do this. She was not going to lose the blonde. She had skillfully questioned Serena days before to find out what her schedule and Lily's schedule were going to be like so that she could plan her actions in advance. She had lied her way up to the penthouse. She had bought hundreds of dollars worth of rose petals. And, she had spent a small fortune on lingerie.

There was no turning back.

Blair reached around cupping the back of Serena's neck and dragged the blonde's lips down towards her, kissing her soundly. Serena kissed back immediately, her arms wrapping around Blair's waist as she sighed into the brunette's mouth, her hands sliding over the soft, sheer material covering Blair's body.

Slowly, Blair began to walk backwards leading them towards the bed, a smile tugging at her lips when the backs of her knees collided with the mattress.

Kissing Serena once more Blair then allowed herself to tumble back onto the mattress, dragging the blonde along with her.

Serena draped her body along Blair's side, her hand running up and down along her torso and over her stomach as they kissed. She was careful, however, not to touch the brunette's breasts. Dan was right, she needed to let Blair be the one to set the pace and to decide what kind of touching she wanted or didn't want. She would support Blair, and move at her pace until the other girl was comfortable enough to go further.

Blair grasped Serena's roving hand long minutes later and dragged it up to her chest, covering her breast with Serena's hand.

Serena moaned almost immediately and Blair knew that she would not have to give the blonde anymore of a prompt to begin to explore her.

Gently, Serena began to massage Blair's breast, her head tilting to the side exposing her neck as Blair kissed her way across her jaw and down her throat, her teeth nipping lightly at the smooth skin there in a way that always made Serena shudder.

Blair arched up into Serena's body as the blonde pulled away from her lips and began to kiss her neck and down further to her chest, her breath hitching a few moments later as she felt Serena's lips close around her nipple, sucking it into her mouth, rolling her tongue around the hard tip through the sheer material of her chemise.

Blair's squirmed under Serena's mouth, her body twisting, seeking out more of the blonde's warmth, small sounds of pleasure emerging from her throat as Serena shifted her mouth to her other breast, her hands running up and down her thighs, and over her sides as her mouth ravaged Blair's chest.

Slowly, Serena allowed her fingers to brush over the material of Blair's underwear, running over the dark fabric for a few seconds before she pulled back from Blair's skin so that she could see her face.

"Is this okay?" Serena asked softly, not wanting to push Blair. After what happened the last time she didn't want to go any further without making sure that Blair was in the same place as her.

"Yeah," Blair breathed out spreading wider to give Serena better access to the warmth between her legs. "Please."

Serena leaned forward pressing her lips against Blair's kissing her softly, lovingly, as her fingers slipped beneath the dark fabric and very gently began to move along Blair's slit.

Blair was tense, but she kept her legs parted and the hand that she had on Serena's arm was moving up and down encouragingly instead of gripping her tightly as the brunette had in the past.

Serena kept up the slow caress, kissing Blair's lips, and cheeks and neck as she did, waiting for the brunette to relax a bit more before trying anything else. However, minutes later when Blair remained stiff Serena slowly withdrew her hand and began to drag it up Blair's torso towards her breast.

It wasn't time yet.

"No," Blair muttered softly, her voice tinged with frustration as Serena's hand moved back up to cup her breast. "No, no," she continued reaching for Serena's hand dragging it back down between her legs, pressing Serena's palm against her, encouraging the blonde to pick up where she had left off.

Serena allowed her hand to be moved, but didn't begin to stroke Blair again.

"We don't have to," the blonde mumbled softly against Blair's neck. She was wet as hell, and was struggling to stop herself from humping Blair's thigh, but she was close to Blair again and that was enough. Besides, she had gotten used to living with a constant level of sexual frustration and didn't find it as overwhelming as she had at the beginning of their relationship.

She could wait for Blair. She would wait for Blair.

A few seconds after Serena spoke Blair moved her hand towards the blonde, drawing her skirt up her thighs until she could slip her hand between Serena's legs. Serena's hips bucked powerfully at the feeling of Blair's fingers against her panties and before she could stop herself she felt herself pressing into Blair's fingers, humping Blair's hand as her breath came out in short, ragged pants.

"We have to," Blair said softly, her fingers slipping beneath the fabric of Serena's underwear so that she could feel the blonde's warm, flushed flesh. "You need this."

Serena gasped as Blair's fingers moved over her clit, her eyes fluttering closed for a moment as pleasure tore through her body, the brunette's words only registering with her when Blair's fingers moved past the sensitive nub.

"No," Serena said seriously forcing her hips to be still as she looked at Blair. "I need you," she continued looking at Blair until the brunette met her gaze. "I'm not going to lie Blair," Serena went on taking a deep breath. "Just looking at you can get me," Serena moaned softly and bit down on her bottom lip by way of explanation. "But I can wait. I know you need to be comfortable, and that'll take time, I get it," she continued taking Blair's hand away from her underwear and into hers. "I would never forgive myself if you regretted our first time," she went on bringing Blair's hand up to her mouth and kissing it.

"I feel like I'm disappointing you," Blair admitted softly her eyes drifting away from Serena's as she spoke, Serena's kind reassurances making her feel better and ashamed and guilty all at the same time. "I … I've heard you. I've seen you," she continued blinking rapidly trying to fight the tears she could feel welling in her eyes.

"Seen me what?" Serena asked stroking her thumb over the back of Blair's hand.

"Masturbating," Blair whispered softly still refusing to meet Serena's gaze. "I've heard you in the bathroom, and I saw you in my room one morning after I got out of the shower," she went on her voice barely a whisper. "You're doing it because I can't."

"Blair," Serena said firmly. She was somewhat embarrassed that she had been caught touching herself but she knew that she had to get over that and talk to Blair plainly if they wanted to get past this roadblock. She would suffer any humiliation if it was for Blair.

"I've been masturbating since I was like twelve," Serena continued smiling a little bashfully. "I'm not doing it because of what you're not doing. We've just never spent so many nights together and … I mean, I can't do it beside you," she went on her voice lowering as she blushed. "It's not because of you, it's just … a biological urge."

"You wouldn't have the urge if you were being satisfied … if I was," Blair began unable to get past the idea that it was somehow her fault; that it was evidence of her shortcomings and inability to please those she loved.

"I probably would," Serena said softly squeezing Blair's hand. "I mean, married people masturbate too. It's just something people have to do every so often. Like, it's not as if you're going to be around or in the mood every time I feel horny," Serena pointed out logically.

Blair blushed at that but muttered, "I suppose not."

Serena peered at Blair curiously.

"Have you really not … touched yourself since we got together?" Serena asked wonderingly. "I mean, you do, don't you?"

"Yes," Blair replied burying her head in the pillow. "Just not as much as you I guess."

"Right," Serena said chewing on her bottom lip. "I have a fast metabolism," she added a moment later.

Blair was silent for a second then laughed despite herself, shifting a little so that she could look at Serena.

"I don't think your metabolism has anything to do with how much you masturbate."

"It could!" Serena responded automatically before sighing and then smiling a little shyly.

She couldn't believe they were having this conversation.

"I don't even do it that much," Serena mumbled a few seconds later.

"If you say so," Blair replied in a humoring tone knowing that it would get to Serena.

"I don't!" Serena exclaimed pouting a little.

Blair watched Serena closely for a few seconds and then bit down on her bottom lip her gaze turning speculatively. "Do it now?" Blair asked softly.

"What?" Serena asked still pouting, not really paying attention at first. "Wait, you mean …" she let the question trail off as she stared at Blair.

Blair nodded, chewing on her bottom lip. She knew it was a lot to ask, yet the thought of it made her …

"I … no … Blair, I," Serena sputtered blinking over at Blair. She knew that Blair was taking a risk putting her feelings out there like that, but Serena wasn't sure she was that much of an exhibitionist. It was one thing to have stripped in front of Blair, but to masturbate in front of her was something else entirely.

"Really?" she asked a second later watching Blair closely.

"No, you don't have to," Blair said shaking her head, dropping her gaze away from Serena. "I shouldn't have asked."

"Do you want me to?" Serena asked catching Blair's face, stopping her from turning away from her completely. "Because I will if you want."

Blair nodded unable to speak, her lips trembling slightly as she held Serena's gaze.

A few seconds later Serena shifted on the bed lifting her hips so that she could slip her skirt and panties down over her legs. Once she was naked from the waist down, she then settled back on the mattress, breathing heavily, nervous as hell and yet kind of excited.

Her eyes on Blair, Serena then let her hand fall between her legs.

Blair watched Serena closely, her breath hitching as the blonde's hand slipped between her legs and began to move.

Serena was still wet and her fingers moved easily along her slit.

Blair sucked her bottom lip into her mouth again as Serena released a shuddering breath and began to move her fingers with more purpose. The brunette's eyes were between Serena's legs, but she could feel the blonde's gaze on her, and it made her flush with heat.

Blair reached out, her hands moving to rest on Serena's parted thigh.

The blonde shivered at the contact as her fingers moved from circling her clit down to her opening where they paused briefly, teasingly, for a second before she slipped two fingers inside of herself.

A soft whimper fell from Blair's lips as she watched Serena's fingers disappear inside, her eyes fluttering with desire as the sounds Serena's fingers were making as they slid in and out of her reached her ears.

"Blair," Serena gasped her eyes wide as her hips began to push up to meet her fingers.

She was close to the edge. It usually took her longer than that, but with Blair sitting beside her, touching her, watching her, she couldn't hold out for much longer.

"I'm almost," Serena managed to choke out before her eyes squeezed tightly shut and her fingers sped up.

Blair grasped Serena's wrist tightly, her eyes still on the blonde's face, and pulled Serena's hand away from her sex.

Serena moaned as her fingers were unceremoniously removed from inside of her so close to completion, but her moan of surprise and frustration quickly transformed into one of pleasure when Blair's fingers replaced her own.

Blair tentatively moved her fingers along Serena's slick, moist folds, a soft, awestruck smile spreading across her lips as she did.

She couldn't believe how good Serena felt, how warm, and velvety, and inviting. She never wanted to stop touching her. She wanted to make Serena's eyes squeeze shut with pleasure forever. She wanted to make the blonde moan and arch and whimper and drip until they were both too exhausted to move.

As she began to touch Serena more firmly, Blair remembered her previous anxiety but she didn't feel it anymore. As she slowly began to circle Serena's clit with her thumb she felt calm and certain.

Serena's hips arched up into Blair's hand and the brunette's heart seized.

Once again Serena's openness and freedom and love had opened her up. Serena had shared something so beautiful and intimate with her without hesitation or fear. She had asked and that had been enough for Serena. And if the blonde could share that with her, she could share herself with the blonde.

There was nothing to be afraid of with Serena. Serena loved her. Serena would do anything for her. There was no one she loved or could trust more.

"B," Serena breathed out softly, her gaze open and questioning as Blair's dark brown eyes met her cobalt gaze.

Blair smiled and leaned down, pressing her lips against Serena's kissing her softly, tenderly; trying to pour all of the love she felt for the blonde into Serena through her lips.

Blair pulled back so that she could watch Serena's face as her fingers entered the blonde, her head swimming as Serena's eyes widened and her lips parted, her hips jumping … and then Blair realized that Serena was coming. The blonde's inner muscles were clenching at Blair's fingers, holding them inside of her as Serena's eyes snapped shut and her body trembled, Blair's name escaping her mouth again and again in a low, raspy whisper.

Serena collapsed back against the mattress, her eyes staring up at the ceiling as her chest rose and fell rapidly, her head spinning as a wide smile spread across her lips, peels of delighted laughter erupting from her a moments later as she turned on her side and rolled towards Blair's body, her arms wrapping around the brunette holding her tightly.

Blair kissed the top of Serena's head, smiling herself as the other girl shivered against her, Serena's breath on her skin and awed laughter making Blair feel warm and content.

"I didn't mean to do that," Serena said softly against Blair's shoulder once she had begun to calm down. "I wanted it to last longer," she admitted.

She was kind of embarrassed to have come so quickly. Dan had teased her about Blair bringing out her inner teenage boy but she didn't think that premature ejaculation would be one of the characteristics she'd have to deal with. It was just that with Blair touching her, with Blair inside of her she just couldn't stop herself.

"I'm glad you did," Blair said softly smiling down at the blonde. "It was amazing. You're amazing," she continued reverently stroking Serena's hair gently.

Serena ran her fingers down Blair's side tentatively, trailing them over her hipbone before moving to caress Blair's stomach.

She wanted to touch Blair more than ever but she wasn't sure if Blair touching her meant that she could touch Blair.

Blair leaned back on the mattress at Serena's hesitant, questioning touch, giving Serena full access to her body.

It was time. She was ready.

"It's okay," she said softly meeting Serena's gaze. "I'm ready," she continued smiling softly.

Serena kissed Blair's neck softly and then down her collarbone before moving over to the brunette's breasts once more, her hand moving between Blair's parted thighs for the second time that night.

Blair shivered at the touch and gripped Serena's arm tightly, her hips bucking.

"I'm okay," Blair breathed out raggedly almost immediately knowing that Serena would be concerned about the reaction. "I'm ready," Blair continued her head falling back against the pillows. "I need you. Oh god, I need you," she breathed out, her legs spreading even more as Serena began to move her fingers again.

Serena felt Blair relax against the mattress and returned her mouth to Blair's nipple, flicking the tip with her tongue for a few minutes before she then began to kiss her way down Blair's stomach, smiling against the soft pale skin of Blair's abdomen when Blair gasped softly.

Blair propped herself up onto her elbows and Serena tilted her head up so that she could see up the length of Blair's body, their eyes meeting. Blair's lips parted and Serena smiled and then broke the gaze.

"Oh, fucking Jesus!" Blair cried out a second later as Serena's lips wrapped around her clit. She fell back against the mattress at the touch, and her hips uncontrollably pumped up into Serena's mouth.

Serena's eyes closed as she got her first real taste of Blair. One night when she'd snuck away to take care of herself, she'd brought her fingers to her lips and sucked on them. She'd been certain then that she could still taste Blair on them even though it had been hours since they'd been on Blair, she knew she could still smell the brunette on them, but that taste was nothing compared to what she tasted that moment.

"S," Blair whispered, one of her hands moving to tangle in Serena's hair as the other one grasped at the bed sheet. Serena's tongue was playing at her opening, dipping inside tentatively as the blonde's thumb moved against her clit.

"Do it," Blair said breathlessly, wanting to really lose her virginity. Serena's mouth on her was wonderful, but she wanted Serena to go inside of her, to fill her up, to take her. "Your fingers," Blair husked.

Serena moved her mouth back up to cover Blair's clit and began to massage it as she positioned a finger outside of Blair's opening.

Blair tensed for a moment at the feeling of the finger but soon relaxed again.

Serena held off for a little while, stimulating Blair's clit making sure that the brunette was truly relaxed again before slowly slipping her finger inside of Blair.

Serena moaned at the feeling. Blair's channel was tight but the brunette was wet and her finger moved in with relative ease. She could feel Blair all around her finger; warm and velvety. She liked the feeling of her fingers moving inside of herself, but being inside of Blair was something else entirely.

Gently Serena pulled her finger out and pushed it softly inside once again, taking Blair's clit into her mouth once more as she began to move in and out of the brunette.

Blair's eyes were squeezed shut as her body trembled. The first time Serena had pushed inside it had been a bit uncomfortable, but her body was adjusting to the blonde's finger and ripples of pleasure were cascading through her.

Blair's mind was hot and dizzy, and as pleasure thrummed through her all she could think was 'Serena's inside of me. Serena's mouth is on me … licking and sucking …'

Serena was being so gentle and slow, and everything felt so good, and Blair could feel Serena's finger, and feel the roughness of her tongue as it swiped at her clit.

They were making love.

Serena loved her.

Blair arched, a soft exhalation of air escaping from her as her body began to shake and her inner muscles clenched convulsively at Serena's fingers, moisture escaping from her as her eyes flew open and her hands gripped at Serena's hair and the bedspread while her hips jerked and her heart pounded.

Later that night …

Blair stroked Serena's hair lightly, the blonde's golden locks cascading over her stomach as Serena lay with her head resting on her torso. In a way Blair was exhausted, but at the same time her body and mind were still humming. She didn't understand what her body was doing, it was all very bizarre but exciting at the same time.

"Was it okay?" Blair asked softly as Serena shifted against her.

She couldn't stop thinking it about what they had done during the past … she didn't even know how long they had been at it for. As they lay together in post-coital exhaustion there were moments when she was furious with herself for having made them wait so long to be together, but mostly she was just glad that they had waited until the right moment because nothing could have been more perfect. Things hadn't gone exactly as she planned and they had to move past a few road blocks, but everything had come together in the end and it had been … perfect. There just wasn't another word for it.

"It was more than okay," Serena responded a second later, her voice choked as she lifted her head from Blair's stomach and shifted on the bed so that she was lying parallel to the brunette.

Blair reached out automatically her fingers swiping across Serena's cheeks.

She was crying.

"I've never," Serena began shaking her head lightly before leaning into Blair's touch. "I love you so much. I don't even … I just …" she went on before she gave up, unable to articulate the feelings that were coursing through her.

"Me too," Blair said softly awed by the depth of emotion in Serena's eyes and voice.

The restless energy coursing through Blair was momentarily tempered by a powerful wave of affection and love and her own eyes began to burn with tears.

Serena really did love her.

Blair had always known that it in a way but that moment was different. In that moment, as they stared at each other, naked and pressed together bathed in candlelight and surrounded by roses, Blair was finally able to accept Serena's love for her.

Serena arched up, pressing her lips against Blair's softly, feathering impossibly tender kisses across her lips and Blair shivered and wrapped her arms around her.

"I love you," Blair said, her lips still pressed against Serena's.

"I love you too," Serena said smiling, before Blair wiped it off of her face with kisses.

Finally they pulled back from each other, breathing hard, and Blair rested her head on Serena's shoulder, the blonde rubbing her arms softly as they lay together in a companionable silence.

"Do you feel like ice-cream?" Serena asked suddenly.

Blair lifted her head and stared at the blonde for a second. Then a huge smile spread across her face.

"Ice-cream sounds … perfect," Blair replied, her smile growing as the last word left her lips.

Serena turned her head to the side and began to reach for the phone, her other arm still wrapped around Blair when she paused.

"What is it?" Blair asked seeing Serena pause and frown slightly.

"If I order room service, I'm going to have to get up and move when it gets here," Serena replied biting her bottom lip as she looked between the door and Blair. "I'll have to put on clothes and everything. Not to mention the lack of me being in bed, naked with you that it would lead to. Ice-cream might be more of a sacrifice than I'm willing to make."

Blair laughed softly and kissed Serena's shoulder.

"You could answer the door naked," Blair suggested playfully in response. There was no way she'd actually stand for that of course, the wonder of Serena's body was for her eyes alone, but it was fun to joke about what the rest of the world was missing out on. "After that you wouldn't even need to leave a tip," she continued smiling.

"There's still a serious lack of me being in bed with you in that scenario," Serena replied sighing and shaking her head mournfully.

"Well, we could take the blanket and wrap it around ourselves and answer the door together," Blair suggested lifting her head to meet Serena's lips as the blonde inclined her head towards her. "We'd be naked and together, and once again totally wouldn't have to leave a tip."

"Me like. Your brain works good," Serena responded smiling. She knew that there was no way Blair was going to answer the door with her wrapped only in a blanket. She'd never give that type of show to anyone for free. In fact, Blair would probably refuse to leave the bed at all. Not only that, when Serena reached for her robe to just drape it over herself the brunette would probably demand that she get fully dressed and probably put on a jacket or something so that there would absolutely no exhibitionism at all.

Serena smiled at the thought. She liked it when Blair was all protective and cave-woman possessive. She found the idea of Blair being hers and her being Blair's romantic and incredibly hot.

"We should also get some Sparkling Grape Juice. They have some here that comes in champagne-style bottles," Serena continued smiling. "It'll be like celebrating with wine only without the blackouts and reckless hedonism. Well, maybe a little hedonism … but the monogamous, respectful kind," Serena amended running her hand over Blair's bum.

"Good girl," Blair murmured softly. She had become Serena's unofficial sponsor since finding out about the blonde going to rehab. And though she knew that Serena had done a good job staying on the straight and narrow, she liked to see it in action as well. It just made her feel better.

"I have to be. You scare me," Serena said mock shivering before laughing and then squirming as Blair began to pinch at her in retaliation. "Hey," Serena exclaimed still squirming. "It's a compliment! Fear is an aphrodisiac!" she went on as Blair straddled her, still struggling with each other. "Scare me! Scare me! Oh, B, fill me with terror," she moaned as Blair pinned her wrists down on the mattress.

Blair stared down at Serena for a second but she couldn't hold her serious expression for very long in the face of Serena's antics. Serena was just too precious. So instead she slapped the blonde lightly on the shoulder and smiled before rolling off of Serena and back onto the mattress.

"Is it wrong that it kind of turned me on when you did that?" Blair asked turning to look at Serena a naughty grin spreading across her lips.

Serena laughed. "The wrongest kind of right," she replied leaning over to kiss Blair quickly. "I'm going to order that ice-cream now," she continued a second later as she pulled back from Blair. "If I'm going to learn about your other sexual fetishes I'm going to need some sugar," she went on just managing to dodge Blair's palm as it headed towards her shoulder again. "Oh, alright I see," Serena said as she reached for the phone, "rough play. I'll file that away for later."

"I hate you," Blair pouted although her eyes were dancing with amusement.

"Hate to love me maybe," Serena replied drawing 'love' out in a delightfully childish manner as she smiled widely at Blair. "You can try to deny it, but you know you want to kiss me ... you want to hug me ... you want to love me," she went on a moment later doing an impeccable Sandra Bullock impersonation.

"Oh, just order the damn ice-cream," Blair said crossing her arms over her chest and glaring at the blonde.

"Yes, dear," Serena replied smiling before actually picking up the phone, a smile spreading across Blair's face as she did.

Serena smiled as well. She had a feeling she was going to get used to saying that a lot and she was really okay with that.


Part Seven

A week later…The Palace

"Stop," Serena said smiling pushing on Blair's shoulders lightly as the brunette kissed her neck, slowly making her way up to Serena's lips. "My mom's going to be home any minute now."

"Why do you have to be here?" Blair mumbled her lips still pressed against Serena's skin. She'd tried to get Serena to come over to her place, but the blonde insisted that she needed to be home.

"I don't know," Serena said relaxing into Blair's touch. She had no will-power when it came to the brunette. She was putty in Blair's soft, beautifully tapered hands. "Lily just insisted that I be here at three," Serena went on shifting slightly a moment later so that she could capture Blair's lips with her own.

Blair's hand moved to rest on Serena's thigh, rubbing the denim surface for a few seconds before she raised her hand higher to slip under Serena's shirt.

Just then they heard a noise at the door and jumped away from each other.

The couch was in full view of the penthouse door and if they hadn't heard Lily playing with her keys they would have been in full view when she came through the door.

Serena glared at Blair.

Blair smiled and shrugged.

Serena found that insanely cute.

A few seconds later the door to the penthouse opened and Lily van der Woodsen appeared in the doorway tall and slim, looking the picture of wasp-y perfection.

Serena stood at the sight of her mother and began to move towards the door when a second figure emerged from behind Lily.

"Eric!" Serena declared happily seeing her brother smiling at her from behind their mother. "Oh my god, Eric!" she exclaimed again rushing towards the door, hugging him immediately. "Why didn't you …" Serena began looking over at their mother who was watching them with a soft smile.

"It was a surprise," Lily responded earning a breathtaking smile from Serena before she found herself wrapped in her daughter's embrace as Eric had been moments before.

Releasing her mother, Serena turned towards Eric again reaching out for his hand happily, her gaze falling past him into the hallway where she saw two large suitcases. That was enough to hold all of Eric's …

"Is this for good?" Serena asked suddenly, a hopeful note in her voice that she couldn't and really didn't want to control.

Lily nodded. "He'll continue to see Dr. Stanton as an out patient."

Serena smiled and hugged Eric all over again, only releasing him when he laughingly wheezed into her ear that he couldn't breathe.

When Serena released him with a sheepish smile, Eric was finally able to see into the penthouse that would be home for the next 6 to 8 weeks. He never thought that he would be so happy to be moving back into a hotel, but he had totally missed the place.

"Hey Blair," Eric said a few seconds later spotting the brunette as he carried out his visual inspection.

If he was surprised to see the brunette it didn't show in his voice. For that matter, Lily looked equally non-pulsed to see Blair hovering at the threshold between the living room and foyer.

The truth was she was more surprised when she found Serena alone in the penthouse these days.

"Hey Eric," Blair said smiling moving forwards until she reached the congregation of van der Woodsen's in the foyer. Once surrounded by the blonds she then reached out and hugged Eric, genuinely glad to see him. She'd known him since he was born and, although she'd never admit it out loud, she kind of thought of him as a little brother as well.

"I should go," Blair said a few seconds later. Despite the fact that she felt quite homey with the van der Woodsen's she thought that it would be best to let them have some time alone.

Serena looked over at Blair at that, her lips parting and Eric knew that she wanted to protest. Her hand twitched and it seemed to him as if Serena was just barely controlling the urge to actually reach out and grab Blair's hand to stop her from going.

"No, stay," said Eric filing his sister's reaction away. He was fairly sure that she was trying to be polite by not telling Blair to stay, but he liked Blair well enough and if it was important to Serena then it was important to him. "Amazingly I'm happy to see you," he continued smirking at Blair, earning a big smile from both girls. "It's fine if she stays, right?" Eric asked turning to look at his mother.

"Of course," Lily responded knowing that it was pointless to argue. Blair had always been a prominent fixture in their lives, and had become even more so in the past couple months. She could as well have just upgraded to the penthouse on the top floor and gotten Blair her own room. "Blair's an honorary van der Woodsen after all," she went on earning a surprised but pleased look from Blair and a bright smile from Serena.

"I hope Ethiopian's alright," Lily continued moving further into the penthouse. It was ridiculous for them all to be standing around the foyer. "Eric insists we order from Meskerem," she continued as Serena rolled her eyes and exchanged a look with Eric before moving into the hallway with him to grab the bags their mother had seemingly forgotten about.

"I absolutely love their qey kik wot," Blair replied as Serena and Eric re-entered the penthouse, smiling as she met Serena's gaze.

"Oh, that's one of my favorites as well," Lily responded as she rested her purse on a nearby table and turned around to watch the children as they joined her in the living room. "Serena doesn't care for it," she continued her brows creasing.

Blair made a face as well and turned to the side to look at Serena with an expression that said 'Really? And I thought I knew you so well'. Lily nodded at this, seemingly pleased to have someone agree with her that Serena's attitude towards the dish was completely bewildering.

Serena looked between Blair and her mother and then plastered her brightest smile across her face.

"I'm going to take this to Eric's room," Serena said looking down at the suitcase on the floor beside her.

One of them she could deal with, but she knew that together they presented an unstoppable force and it was time for her to leave until they forgot to pick on her.

Eric looked over at her and grinned. He had to agree with her though. Running away was the best strategic option available to her.

"Come on then," he said nodding towards his room.

Later that night …

"It's too bad Blair couldn't sleep over," Eric said as he walked into Serena's room and closed the door behind him.

"She's meeting Havilland early tomorrow to go shopping," Serena responded shifting over on the bed to clear a space for him.

The truth was that Blair could have easily stayed and gone to meet Havilland from The Palace. It wasn't like she needed to go home to change because Blair had almost as many clothes at the penthouse as Serena did, but they hadn't been able to keep their hands off of each other since the night they made love and Blair was freaked out by the idea of having sex with Eric in the next room.

Serena had insisted that they didn't have to have sex, but Blair had rolled her eyes and Serena had grinned. With Blair in bed with her it was pretty unlikely that she wouldn't have tried something, and if she didn't the brunette certainly would have.

Eric scanned the room before plopping down on the mattress beside Serena. He could see things scattered all over the place that he knew weren't Serena's.

"Couldn't she have met Havilland from here?" Eric asked looking over at his sister.

Serena shrugged. She knew Eric would see through the excuse, it was paper thin, but she wasn't going to volunteer anything else.

"It's not like she'd be without a change of clothes," Eric continued looking over at the couch in the corner of the room by the closet where some jeans that were too short to be Serena's were flung over the arm.

Serena shrugged again non-committal.

Eric looked at her appraisingly. This was the first time in months that she hadn't talked at length about Blair when given the opportunity. Ever since they had made up, it seemed that every other word out of Serena's mouth was Blair, and when his mother came to visit to him all he heard from her was about how Serena and Blair seemed to be joined at the hip.

"So, what's going on with you two?" he asked a few seconds later.

"Hmm?" Serena asked looking confused.

Eric smiled. He'd lived with Serena long enough to know her expressions and she was faking.

"So," he said drawing out the word. "You finally given into all of that sexual tension, huh?" he asked a second later lifting his eyebrow playfully.

It had taken him a while, but he finally realized that he hadn't been wrong about Serena being extra happy he'd just gotten the source of it wrong. When he finally realized that Blair was the one she was around all of the time, and Blair was the one that brought out that extra happy smile and tone of voice on the phone, he realized why Serena had been in such a good mood.

Serena threw her pillow at him.

"Is that a yes?" Eric asked laughing.

"We do not have sexual tension," Serena declared staring at him.

"Yes, you do. Boatloads of it," Eric responded meeting her gaze unflinchingly.

Serena studied him silently for a few minutes, and relaxed against the headboard.

"Okay, yes," she said grudgingly before a slow smile spread across her lips.

Eric smiled.

"I knew it!" he declared a second later. "You always have this look on your face whenever you talk about her. Blair-face," he went on grinning over at his sister. "Congrats," he added. "She's a looker."

Serena laughed and reached over him taking her pillow back so she could throw it at him again.

Despite the pillow violence she was heaping on him, she was extremely relieved that he was okay with the change in her relationship with Blair. Eric not approving wouldn't have stopped her from seeing Blair, but it would have upset her greatly. She loved him, and his opinion meant a lot to her. In some ways, it had felt like the two of them against the world for a lot of their lives and she didn't want to lose him or have their relationship change because of who she was in love with.

"Do I really have Blair-face?" Serena asked genuinely curious, peering over at her brother a few seconds later.

Eric nodded solemnly.

"What does it look like?" Serena asked.

"Try to imagine the expression on a sentimental 30 year old woman's face as she watched a baby play with a puppy and a kitten under a rainbow. It's pretty much that exactly … except that sometimes you look like you want to have sex with the rainbow," Eric responded thoughtfully, breaking out into a huge grin as Serena glared at him and then groaned.

She'd suspected that it looked something like that (but without the rainbow sex part).

"You know, it's so unfair," Eric said a few seconds later as he looked around the room again shaking his head.

"What?" Serena asked smiling a little, amused by the put-out look on his face.

"Mom would never let my girlfriend practically live in my room," Eric commented overcome with the injustice of it all. The 'bestie' situation gave them the perfect alibi for all of the time they spent together. It was brilliant, but totally unfair.

"You have a girlfriend?" Serena asked her interest peaking as she turned to look at Eric. "Lil' J?" she asked smiling lifting her eyebrow. She hoped so. She knew that Jenny had been visiting him at the center and more than once when she was visiting he'd gotten texts from her.

She was happy to see him making a connection with someone, and getting excited about something. It lit him up in a way that she hadn't seen in a long time.

"You've been spending way too much time with Blair," Eric responded shaking his head. Jenny had told him that only Blair called her 'Lil' J'.

"Yeah, we've already established who I'm spending my time with," Serena replied grinning. "But who's running up your cell bill?"

Eric sighed before beginning to smile a little bit. Fair was fair, it was his turn to spill.


Part Eight

"Where's Blair?" Isabel asked looking around the small curtained alcove they had secured in the club. The brunette had said that she was going to get a drink but that had been ages ago. Even if she was mixing it herself she should have been back a long time ago.

"Yeah, and Serena," Kati said looking around as if to confirm that the blonde really wasn't sitting with them.

"Isn't it pretty much the same question?" Chuck drawled slowly eyeing the girls. "They're never apart. It's been like that for months now, they're just this Blairena entity," Chuck went on taking a sip of his drink.

"What's with that?" Isabel asked sounding confused. They had been close before Serena disappeared, but back then they both seemed to realize that other people occupied the planet with them. For the past couple of months though, it was like impossible to find them apart from each other.

"They're just making up for lost time," Kati replied, though she suspected that spending that much time with Isabel, no matter how much she missed her, would drive her insane.

"Making up or making out?" Chuck asked looking at all of them challengingly as he smiled. "You know you've noticed it too. How they can't keep their hands off of each other," he went on. "I mean, I don't see you to giving each other backrubs … as much as I'd like to," he smarmed looking at Isabel and Kati.

"That doesn't mean anything," Isabel said glaring at Chuck and making a face. She had noticed how tactile they had become though. "They've always been touchy feely."

"Sexual tension," Chuck declared smugly.

"Shut it man," Nate groused from the other side of Kati. He really wasn't it the mood for Chuck's shit.

"Be a little bitch if you want, Nathaniel. It doesn't change the fact that your dream girl is banging your ex," Chuck replied looking over at Nate contemptuously. He knew that Nate had noticed the change in Blair and in Serena too. It was why he had become almost unbearable to be around in the past month. Wallowing in self-pity and seething with jealously was not a good fit on him.

"They're not sleeping together," Nate hissed his lip curling as he stared at Chuck.

"Then who are they sleeping with?" Chuck asked arrogantly. "Serena dumped that charity case months ago and Blair got rid of you around the same time, if I remember correctly. And since then not even a nibble. Even Gossip Girl doesn't have any romantic dirt on them. It's just Blairena all the time … all over each other."

Nate glared at Chuck and turned away picking up his beer without another word.

Chuck smiled victoriously and reached for his spare scotch. It always helped to order two or three extra, just in case.

"Do you really think they're …" Isabel began a few minutes later looking over at Chuck.

"I'm gonna get some air," Nate muttered getting up and moving away from the table before Chuck could respond.

"Oh, I'm absolutely convinced," Chuck responded smiling.

"Was that Nate?" Blair asked drawing the attention of the three remaining people at the table over to her.

"He's getting some fresh air," Chuck replied smirking as Blair and Serena slipped back into the seats they had vacated almost a half hour before. "Is everything alright ladies? We were about to send out a search and rescue team."

Serena's hand was on the small of Blair's back, and they looked flushed and seemed slightly out of breath.

Chuck made sure to catch Isabel and Kati's eyes and wink.

Serena rolled her eyes at him and Blair's lips curled.

"More likely you were thinking of a 'you peeping under stalls in the women's bathroom' solo mission," Blair responded.

"How hurtful," Chuck responded grinning. "Let's not fight," he continued lifting his glass. "To friendship?" he proposed before glancing over at Serena. "I've got an extra," he offered nodding at the glass of Scotch to his left.

"Don't be an asshole, Chuck," Blair responded. They all knew that she and Serena weren't drinking.

"You cannot tell the sun not to shine," Chuck replied philosophically. "Fine, suit yourself," he added a second later. "To beautiful friendships," he toasted smiling, clinking his glass against Isabel's and Kati's happily as Serena slumped against the back of her chair frowning and Blair glared at him.

Well, he thought the night was going well at least.


Part Nine

The Palace

Serena quickly swept the Yale brochures she had been looking at under the couch as she heard the door to the penthouse open. Eric was out with Jenny and she knew that he wouldn't have been back that early which meant that it had to be her mother, and she wasn't exactly ready to broach the subject of Yale with Lily yet.

"That sounds heavy," Serena said as she started to turn around hearing something being lugged into the room. "What the …" Serena exclaimed, trailing off a moment later, her mouth open in shock.

Her mother was standing in the doorway, but Blair was there as well and to Serena's complete dismay the brunette was performing an act of manual labour helping a bellboy drag a large painting into the penthouse.

"Serena," Lily chided frowning slightly.

Serena automatically closed her mouth though she continued to stare in fascination and confusion as Blair's head turned around to look at her, the brunette's hands still wrapped around the wooden frame heaving as the bellboy ho'd.

"A little help S," Blair called out, her tone rising as if it was a question when really it was a command.

Giving her head a little shake Serena moved towards the door to help Blair, only to sigh and shake her head again a few seconds later as the brunette abandoned her post the moment she showed up and moved into the living room to supervise with Lily.

Apparently Blair's work there was done.

Serena sighed and heaved. If Blair weren't so cute she probably would have been annoyed.

"What's going on here?" Serena asked a few minutes later once she and the bellboy managed to get the picture squared away in a corner of the penthouse that was rarely occupied.

Although having the picture resting there was kind of an eye sore, Serena was glad for it since it meant that they day they got to move back into their real home was getting closer and closer. Lily would not have tolerated the picture being left there unless it was going to be on a very short term basis.

"I ran into Blair at the International Fine Art and Antique Dealers Show," Lily said moving into the kitchen to fix a drink as Blair moved over towards Serena, pushing up onto her toes to kiss the blonde's cheek once Lily was out of sight.

"What were you doing there?" Serena asked quietly pulling Blair into her body as they heard Lily in the kitchen.

"I was passing by after coffee with Kati and I thought that I'd pop in and buy something ridiculously expensive that we didn't need as a welcome home gift for Eleanor," Blair responded relaxing into Serena's embrace.

Serena dipped her head down, her lips brushing against Blair's cheek before she rested her chin on the brunette's shoulder.

It had been a tradition of Blair's to punish Eleanor for leaving her all of the time by buying something expensive and frivolous that she knew neither of them would need or want just before her mother would return home.

The first few times she had done it Serena had tried to stop her thinking that she would get in trouble for it. Lord knew that if she had spent $10,000 on a diamond-encrusted gold brooch of C-3PO that, well, Serena didn't even want to contemplate what Lily would have done to her if she had done that.

Eleanor however seemed to take it as a natural consequence of her absences and never punished Blair for the extravagances.

Some kids would have been thrilled to be able to get away with antics like that, but Serena had seen Blair after she had gotten away with it and there was no joy there.

Serena was certain that Blair wanted Eleanor to punish her. She wanted her mother to take an interest, wanted her to care enough about her to be pissed at her and to want to try and teach her better.

But, as had become the norm in Blair's life, Eleanor continued to disappoint her.

"She was an invaluable eye," Lily called out to the girls from within the kitchen, the silence in the other room not lost on her as she pulled a glass down. "I think I'll have to steal her the next time I go art shopping."

Blair tilted her head back so that she could see Serena's face, her expression happy and smug.

"Blair has excellent taste," Serena said responding to her mother before leaning forward and nipping at the tip of Blair's nose playfully.

Lily could hear the smile and pride in Serena's voice and her lips curved up slightly even as she shook her head.

"Serena, ask Blair if she's thirsty," Lily called out when neither girl added anything after Serena's singing praise of the brunette.

Serena rolled her eyes before looking down at Blair. "Are you thirsty?" she asked smiling.

Blair shook her head. "Actually, I'm drowning … in your eyes," Blair replied batting her eyelashes at Serena as she gazed at her with a dreamy expression.

They held each other's eyes for a few seconds after that and then Blair broke out into a wide grin and they both started to laugh.

Lily emerged from the kitchen to find the two girls huddled together and slightly bent over, laughing so hard that when they looked up at her a moment later both of their faces were red, and Serena had tears streaming down her cheeks.

"Pellegrino?" Lily asked holding up a bottle in Blair's direction.

"I might be thirsty too you know," Serena wheezed though she was finally starting to get her breath under control again.

Lily ignored her, her attention remaining focused on Blair.

"Thank you," Blair said smirking over at Serena before turning her eyes back to Lily, "but I can't stay. My mother's back from Paris in an hour and if I'm not home when she gets back she'll murder me."

Lily nodded and moved back into the kitchen to put the drink away, more to give the girl's time to say goodbye then because she was notoriously concerned with keeping the beverage chilled.


Lily turned around at the question a few minutes later to find Blair standing in the doorway. Like most of the other parents on the Upper East Side she had insisted that Serena's friends address her using her first name since they were children.

"Yes, Blair," Lily replied smiling at the girl. Lily knew that there was a lioness inside of Blair but at the moment she more resembled a kitten.

"Thanks," Blair said her gaze shifting around the kitchen as she spoke, uncomfortable but forcing herself to speak anyway. "I always have the best time spending other people's money," she continued smiling as she returned her eyes to Lily.

"In that case, we'll have to do it again some time," Lily responded smiling as well.

And then Blair was out of the doorway, out of the kitchen and out of the penthouse.

Serena watched the door for a second after Blair left, already missing the brunette before she made her way back over to the couch, deciding to get rid of the incriminating evidence she had hastily hidden before her mother could stumble upon it.

"What's that you're trying to hide?"

Serena froze at the sound of her mother's voice.

"Nothing," Serena replied plopping down on the couch, lying on top of the pamphlets she had been looking at before smiling over at her mother winsomely.

Lily moved into the living silently until she was standing in front of the young blonde.

"Stand up," Lily said her voice quiet yet firm.

Serena sighed. Discipline wasn't really her mother's strong suit, but if there was one thing Serena could say about Lily it was that her mother could be one of the most single-minded, determined people she had ever met when she wanted to be. And looking up at Lily, Serena could tell that this was one of the times her mother had her mind set on something and that there would be no evading the situation.

"It's nothing, really," Serena said still not moving, a tiny bit of hope still present within her. "It's just some university stuff."

Lily stared at her for a moment and then her eyes narrowed. "Stand up."

Serena sighed and stood up revealing a pamphlet with 'YALE' written in large letters where her ass had been moments ago.

"Yale?" Lily asked arching an eyebrow at Serena. Serena wasn't quite certain how she managed it, but the name came out sounding like a curse word.

"It's a good school," Serena said turning away from Lily's arctic gaze to gather up the papers lying on the couch, clutching them to her once she had scooped them all up. "It has a lot to offer," Serena continued finally looking over at her mother again realizing that she couldn't avoid Lily's gaze forever. "A renowned art gallery and …"

"Blair?" Lily offered a brittle smile touching her lips as Serena blinked at her. "You're taking this a bit far, don't you think?" Lily asked sighing a few seconds later, gracefully lowering herself onto the couch and staring at Serena until her daughter did the same.

"Taking what a bit far?" Serena asked still clutching the papers to her, her tone a bit peevish. "Most parents would be happy their child wanted to go to Yale. You're acting like I just told you I wanted to change my name to Cherry Delicious and go to work at Madam Chasity's."

"You don't want to go to Yale, you want to go to Brown," Lily responded ignoring most of Serena's snippy little rant. "You've always wanted to go to Brown," she continued. "I know that Blair is your best friend, but you can't plan your entire life around her."

"I'm not," Serena responded immediately even though that's exactly what she was doing. "There's nothing wrong with Yale."

Lily considered her daughter for a moment and then shook her head slightly before sighing. "You need to get perspective on this," she softly.

"Get perspective on what?" Serena asked not liking Lily's tone or the knowing way she was looking at her.

"Whatever this thing is you've got with Blair," Lily said seeing Serena's surprised look but going on anyway. "You're young and she's very lovely," Lily continued. "I'm not stupid Serena. I know what you two have been up to," she continued seeing Serena's lips part as if she were about to protest and shaking her head to discourage her daughter from doing so.

"You probably think that you're in love with her or some similarly ridiculous romantic notion, but …" Lily sighed. "The intensity of this thing will fade eventually and when it does you need to have something else in your life, something that's yours. Hormones are not a fair trade for hopes and dreams."

Serena watched Lily for a few seconds in stupefied silence. She couldn't believe that she knew and hadn't said anything, hadn't done anything.

"How long have you known?" Serena sputtered at a loss for what else to say.

"I have eyes," Lily responded. "Also I found a pair of her underwear under my couch," she continued shaking her head a little. She was never as careless as an adolescent. Then again she had a far less understanding mother.

"I love her," Serena said softly her voice rough with intensity as she held Lily's gaze.

Lily's expression softened at Serena's words. Even though she was sure Serena would never believe her, she understood what her daughter was feeling. She had been completely swept away by love as a teenager, and had her heart broken and was convinced she would never love again, until she did and had her heart broken all over again.

It wasn't love she had felt. It was attraction, strong attraction, longing, need, want, but it wasn't love. And when she realized how fruitless her life was, how much of a waste following her heart had been it had been crushing. She had spent years after High School following her heart from one tour to the next, and then one morning she had woken up hung over and on the wrong side of a high in a city she couldn't remember, surrounded by people she barely knew and realized she had no idea what she wanted or who she was.

She was lucky though. With will and single-minded determination she managed to pull herself together and pull herself up, very high up. But despite the fact that she had pulled through she wouldn't see Serena learn the same lesson the hard way if she could do anything about it.

"I know you think you do," Lily replied reaching out and placing her hand on Serena's thigh, feeling the tensed muscle beneath her palm. "You're seventeen. It always seems like love," she continued rubbing Serena's thigh lightly. "You're hardly the first girl to have feelings for your best friend. You and Blair have always been … close, but it's just ..."

"Don't," Serena said warningly, surprising Lily enough that she actually did stop talking. "Do not say that this is just a phase," Serena continued shifting on the couch, Lily's hand falling off of her thigh as she did. "It's not a phase. I know how I feel."

"So you're a lesbian now, is that it?" Lily asked that damnable eyebrow lifting again.

"Probably not," Serena responded honestly. It wasn't that she was no longer attracted to men so much as she was attracted to Blair more than anyone else. "But I'm certainly not straight," she continued not backing down. In addition to Blair, she thought that Emily Blunt and Eva Mendes were totally hot as well. "In any case it doesn't matter what label you want to stick on me. Lesbian or not I love Blair. I want to be with her. We're going to last."

Lily was silent in the face of that. Teenagers were able to work such passion and indignation into their voices. It could be quite moving. She was sure that Serena believed everything she was saying, that at that moment she did love Blair more than anything else in the world. But that moment, that bliss wouldn't last.

"If you love her so much how come you haven't told any of your friends?" Lily asked softly crossing her legs and leaning back into the couch. "How come you didn't tell me until I revealed I already knew?" she continued holding Serena's gaze. "If you're so proud and in love then why have you two been hiding?" she went on challengingly. "Could it be because you don't want it branding you after its inevitable passing?"

Serena gaped at her mother for a second before closing her mouth.

"That's not …" she began, although a part of her had to admit that Lily was right and she had Blair had been trying to hide the change in their relationship (even though apparently they weren't doing a very good job of it).

It wasn't shame though. Serena could never be ashamed of loving Blair. It was more of a preservation instinct. High School was like a shark infested topical sea, all sparkly and light on the surface but full of hidden predators underneath and they couldn't risk letting their peers smell blood. She knew how merciless High School girls could be. Once they made it to college in a year however thing would have been different.

"Only maybe it is, a little," Lily interjected cutting Serena off though she suspected her daughter didn't really have anything to follow up her previous utterance with. "I," Lily began before pausing. "I understand that you have strong feelings for her," she continued kindly. She had seen the intense happiness lighting Serena up earlier when Blair was around. "But you're almost an adult Serena and you can't continue to go through life with your Id leading you around like you're a prize Bison frise.

"I'm not paying for you to go to Yale. We had a plan, a plan that you were on board with up until a few months ago and we're sticking with it. I know I can't stop you from seeing Blair," she continued standing up. "But I'm not going to let you sacrifice your future over this either. If you're right, if it's love, you'll survive four years of seeing each other on weekends and statutory holidays. After all, Brown isn't all that far away from Yale," she concluded.

With that Lily cupped Serena's chin in her hand and looked down at her for a moment before she bent down and kissed her forehead lightly.

"But …" Serena sputtered completely at a loss.

Her utterance swallowed up by the room as her mother disappeared into her bedroom leaving Serena alone of the couch clutching at pamphlets she would no longer need.


Part Ten

Two hours later …

Serena looked up and into the eyes of the man opposite her holding his gaze unflinchingly.

"Vodka tonic," she said a moment later, her tone bored before a weary sigh emerged from her throat a moment later.

He stared at her for a moment longer and Serena placed her elbow on the bar and rested her head in her palm gazing back at him blankly until he nodded his head and went to fetch her drink.

Serena scrubbed her fingers across her face and then pinched the bridge of her nose.

'Get up and leave, get up and leave, get up and leave,' she repeated again and again in her mind willing her body to move but it would not.

She looked up when the bartender returned and placed the drink down in front of her, a wane smile touching her lips before she tossed a few bills down on the bar.

"Rough day?" the bartender asked.

Serena turned her head to glance out the window. "Yeah," Serena muttered smiling up at him though it didn't reach her eyes. "And it's not even close to being over."

"Work?" he asked resting his hip against the bar, settling in.

If she had wanted to be alone Serena would have been annoyed by his presumption but she didn't want to be alone.

"That's always a bitch," Serena responded rolling her eyes and shaking her head a bit. "Guess again?" she offered smirking a little.

"Love life?"

Serena snapped her fingers and shot the bartender the finger guns. "The only thing that can cause that deep down pain that only vodka seems to heal."

"Dumped?" the bartender asked sympathetically.

Serena wondered if she'd be able to get a free drink out of him if she made herself seem pathetic enough.

"Not really," she said using her straw to poke at the lime in her drink. "Let's just say that a third party has entered the picture and it's definitely a crowd," she went on her finger tracing the edge of the glass.

Serena looked up suddenly.

"Why can't people mind their own business?" she asked staring in the direction of the bartender though he didn't really think she was seeing him. "I mean, everything is going fine, it's all sunshine and lollipops, and raining iPhones and then … someone has to take an interest," Serena continued picking up her glass.

"I know me," she said poking her finger in the bartender's direction. "I know what I want. I know who I want," she went on lifting the glass to her lips as if to take a sip before lowering it again. "I mean what the fuck? Why does everything in life have to be so goddamn complicated? Why does my life have to be the sweeps week episode of The O.C.?"

Serena paused then, still for a moment before she blinked, focusing on the bartender once more.

"Could you make this a double?" she asked suddenly.

"A double vodka tonic?" he asked.

"Yeah, you're right, that's stupid," Serena muttered her brows knitting together in thought before she focused on him again. "Just bring me another one with just vodka … and ice."

Serena began to play with the lime in her drink again. All she needed to do was lift the glass up and by the time it was empty all of the tension in her body would gone. And when the bartender brought the next one, all she had to do was lift that to her lips and her mother's self-righteous, hypocritical pronunciations would be nothing but a distant memory.

All she had to do was lift the glass to her lips and take a sip, just one little sip. The first sip would be the hardest but once it was over with, once she felt the burn begin to settle through her and the delightful feeling of lightness in her mind it would be so easy to continue. She knew that for a fact. It had always been so easy to just order another until nothing mattered anymore.

She'd had lots of fun drunk. Alcohol made it so much easier to do everything. Everyone loved her even more a few drinks in.

She was the life of the party.

She'd danced on table tops, and ran in the rain. She'd sung Arabic Karaoke and traipsed barefoot in a fountain in Central Park. She'd made snow angels and slept with Blair's boyfriend …

Blair …

Serena felt her heart clench and straightened up on the bar stool, her eyes wandering around the bar as if she expected to find the brunette glaring at her from a table across the room.

Blair would kill her if she found out that she'd had a drink. In fact she wouldn't just kill her she would make her watch a marathon of A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila and The Flavor of Love just to torture her before killing her.

Serena sighed and shook her head at the thought. The truth was that if Blair found out reality would be far worse than the scenario she had just imagined. Blair wouldn't kill her, she would just be horribly, heartbreakingly disappointed in her, and to Serena that would be far worse than any MTV reality TV marathon.

Serena breathed in deeply.

She really wanted a drink …

She really, really wanted a drink …

Serena looked up as the bartender returned with her drink and then reached into her purse.

A few seconds later Serena pulled out her cell phone and deposited enough bills on the bar for her new drink plus a generous tip. She then stood up, her fingers already dialing her cell as she moved away from the bar.

"B," Serena said stepping out into the evening air.

"Miss me already?" Blair asked. Serena could hear the smile in the brunette's voice and found herself smiling as well.

"Always," Serena responded heading down the street. "Are you and Eleanor bonding?"

"Hardly," Blair responded. "She's not even here."

"I thought her flight got in an hour ago," Serena said wrapping her jacket around herself as she stopped at a crosswalk; the traffic going by too hectic for even a native New Yorker to attempt jaywalking.

"She's taking a later flight. Most likely she found a few more asses to brown her nose in at the last minute," Blair responded dismissively.

"Feel like some company?" Serena asked. She knew she shouldn't be happy that Eleanor was the most unreliable parent on the planet, but she was glad that Blair was alone. "I was thinking Audrey and snuggles."

"I think I can accommodate you," Blair responded happily. "Where are you?"

"About ten minutes away from your place," Serena responded. "Why?"

"No reason," Blair said in a tone that Serena knew meant there absolutely was a reason.

"I know that tone. Should I be scared?" Serena asked laughing lightly.

"I thought you liked being scared? It's an aphrodisiac. Isn't that what you said?" Blair sassed arching an eyebrow Serena couldn't see.

"I hate it when my words come back to haunt me," Serena muttered. "Alright, I continue to walk towards my uncertain fate."

"I'll be waiting," Blair said laughing.


Part Eleven

Waldorf Brownstone … an hour later

Serena sighed against Blair's back, the exhalation jostling her whole body as they lay spooned together on Blair's bed.

Blair jabbed the pause button on her DVD remote and turned around in Serena's arms so that she was facing the blonde.

"What's wrong?" Blair asked her voice gentle but firm, Roman Holliday already a distant memory to her as she focused on Serena. "You've sighed three times in the past five minutes, and this is your favorite part of the movie."

"I know, I'm sorry," Serena responded sighing again, her eyes dropping from Blair's for a second before she looked back over at her with an apologetic expression. "I'm not being very good company tonight."

"No," Blair said shaking her head though a little smile touched her lips. "You're not," she continued before leaning forward and pressing her lips against Serena's softly. "Especially considering I was all domestic for you and everything," Blair went on. When Serena had arrived at her door Blair had greeted her with a plate of warmed chocolate chip cookies because the blonde had sounded a bit down on the phone. "But I still love you … even when you're being mopey and boring."

Serena smiled at that and swayed forward, capturing Blair's lips in a lingering kiss before snuggling herself against the brunette, nuzzling into her neck.

Blair was so much better than a vodka tonic.

"I was looking at Yale pamphlets," Serena murmured against the warm skin of Blair's neck, the brunette's scent and presence helping to relax her a little bit.

She should have done this in the first place. She should have come to talk to Blair, not … it was just that alcohol used to be such a quick, immediate fix. It was so easy to … but she couldn't anymore, she had turned over a new leaf. She had promised, not just to herself, but to Blair as well and she couldn't disappoint the brunette again, she wouldn't.

"You were?" Blair asked happily, a bright smile coming to her lips. The University question had been weighing on her. The idea of going for weeks without seeing Serena greatly depressed her and was a secret source of anxiety for her.

"Yeah," Serena responded smiling against Blair's neck. "Lily wasn't so thrilled about it though."

"What happened?" Blair asked. She had hoped that Serena was just being bashful about telling her she wanted to go to same University, but she knew from the way Serena had been acting all night that it was something much more serious than that.

"She knows about us," Serena said softly. "She said," she continued before pausing momentarily, shifting back so that she could see Blair's face.

Serena stared at Blair intently for a few seconds and then grasped her shoulders.

"I love you," Serena whispered intensely to Blair. "That's real."

Blair looked at Serena for a few moments, completely unnerved by the blonde's desperate look.

"Of course it's real. I love you too," she softly, trying to hold back her own panic, leaning forward to kiss Serena.

Serena held her for a moment longer and then released her, the tension draining from her body as suddenly as it had come upon her and she snuggled against Blair again.

"I'm sorry," the blonde whispered, her arm around Blair's waist. "She just upset me. I don't even know why I listen to her. She's the last person in the world that should be giving relationship advice anyway. Love is a business transaction to her."

Blair stroked her hair tenderly.

"So, no PFLAG t-shirt for Lily then?" she asked softly.

Serena laughed lightly.

"Maybe if it was St. John or Michael Kors," she replied. "The thing is she doesn't even really care. She's just worried about my legacy and how it would look," she went on with a touch of anger in her voice. "She probably slept with women all the time when she was a groupie. She's just pissed because I had the gall to fall in love and mean it."

Blair huffed darkly, "The hypocrisy of adults knows no bounds."

Serena nodded. "She said she wouldn't pay for it if I got into Yale."

Blair looked down. "Do you think she means it?"

Serena shrugged. "Lily's nature is a capricious one. She means it now … in a year who knows."

"You have a trust fund," Blair pointed out.

"I don't get access to it until I'm 21," Serena sighed before she pulled away from Blair's neck again. "I guess I'll just have to move in with you and be your really good looking, no-good, lay-a-bout girlfriend," she continued smiling a little. "I'll cook and do your laundry, and pleasure you sexually after a hard day of learning," Serena went on ducking down to kiss Blair's stomach, making the brunette laugh.

"Brown and Yale are only two hours away. We could see each other every weekend," Blair said when Serena floated back up to share the pillow with her again.

Serena nodded thoughtfully before saying, "I want to see you everyday."

"I know. Who wouldn't?" Blair asked smiling before leaning forward and resting her forehead against Serena's.

"Two hours," Serena sighed before smiling a little. "I guess I can deal with that."

Blair smiled. It wasn't as great a scenario as she and Serena being ensconced away in domestic bliss as roommates, but they could talk everyday over web cam, and as long as she got to see and touch Serena every week, even if it was only for a couple of days, Blair was sure she'd be able to handle it.

"B," Serena said a few seconds later. Her strongest instinct was to not bring up what had nearly happened earlier, but everything she had learned in the program told her that she had to own up to her mistakes and near mistakes if she was truly going to make a lasting change in her life. "I …" Serena continued as Blair stared down at her, the happy, open expression on the brunette's face fading to worry as she registered the blonde's agitation.

"What is it?" Blair asked softly, reaching out to stroke Serena's cheek.

Serena breathed in deeply and released the breath slowly. "When I called you earlier … I was … I was leaving a bar."

Serena bit down on her bottom lip as she watched Blair. The brunette's eyes flashed and her lips parted a small sound that had probably intended to be a word but had been thought better of at the last moment escaping from her lips as her hand twitched at Serena's side.

"Did you …?" Blair asked tightly, trying to control the urge to grab Serena by her shirt and shake her.

She would have been surprised by the aggression of her reaction to the blonde's words, but her heart was pounding, her blood was racing through her veins and Blair recognized that the emotion gripping her was fear. And when she was afraid she always got angry.

Serena shook her head, blinking against the sting of tears in her eyes. "No," she said softly still shaking her head. "I wanted to, I ordered and paid, but I didn't drink. I swear," Serena said. "Not a sip. I just … it's hard sometimes," Serena went on her eyes falling away from Blair's, as she breathed in deeply again, trying to control the urge to cry.

Blair released a ragged breath and lay down on the mattress beside Serena, her hand moving to rest on the blonde's hip as she looked at her.

"You should have called me," Blair said softly, worry and reproach warring in her tone.

"I did," Serena pointed out, her eyes lifting to look over at Blair. Her tone had an element of playfulness in it, but her expression and eyes were serious.

"You're right," Blair acknowledged realizing that things could have been much worse. "But I should have been your first and your last stop," she continued softly, her hand moving to Serena's, entangling their fingers together.

Serena smiled a little and squeezed Blair's hand, glad for the contact. "I know. Blair Waldorf is not a stop along the way. She is a destination," Serena murmured, inching closer to Blair.

"And don't you forget it," Blair murmured before sighing as Serena's lips pressed against her own, kissing her softly for long minutes. "Call me next time," Blair said softly when they pulled back for air, their faces still so close that her lips brushed against Serena's as she spoke. "There's nothing I could be doing that I wouldn't drop like poly-cotton blend for you."

"Nothing?" Serena asked, wrapping her arms around Blair's waist holding the brunette close to her.

"Nothing," Blair confirmed kissing Serena's forehead.

"What about if Stella McCartney was giving away clothes from her new collection and you had just gotten your hands on the cashmere guava pea coat, high-waisted skinny trousers and a pair of Mildred Linus knit booties?" Serena's asked kissing Blair's neck.

"Nothing at all," Blair said firmly in response. Her tone was serious and Serena pulled back so that she could see the brunette's face. She had expected Blair to make a joke of her comment. "You're my favorite," Blair added as Serena looked at her, her lips curving up slightly as she spoke.

Serena leaned forward and kissed Blair gently. "I love you," Serena said softly.

"Show me," Blair said, her voice raspy as she reached for Serena's hand and rested it on her stomach.

"Eleanor?" Serena breathed out softly, her hand already moving over Blair's stomach, softly caressing her.

"We've got time," Blair said leaning up to press her lips against Serena's. "I need you," she continued, the fear that Serena's confession had struck in her still lingering inside of her. She couldn't really understand it, but she needed Serena to stay close to her, she needed to touch her, and taste her, and feel the warmth and solidness of her body against her. She needed to know that Serena was okay.

"You have me," Serena said softly, her hand slipping under Blair's shirt as she leaned down and kissed the brunette, the touch more passionate and forceful then the lazy kisses they had shared minutes before. "I'm yours."

"Mine," Blair murmured softly as Serena's hand moved to cup her breast, breathing in deeply as the blonde's thumb began to tease her nipple through her bra.

"All yours," Serena confirmed kissing along Blair's jaw as she moved to straddle the brunette, slipping her other hand under Blair's shirt so that both of her hands were cradling Blair's breasts. "Every inch of me," she added smiling before leaning down to kiss Blair's lips again.

"S," Blair breathed out against Serena's lips, her chest arching up into the blonde's hands.

"Hmm," Serena murmured, her fingers slipping past the edges of Blair's bra, tugging until the brunette's creamy breasts were freed from its confines.

"Get these clothes off of me," Blair husked squirming beneath Serena impatiently.

She wasn't in the mood for foreplay.

The next few minutes were filled with quick, frantic motions as both girls began to pull of their clothes, shirts, bras, socks, pants and underwear flying haphazardly in every direction, limbs occasionally knocking together as they sought to divest themselves of every article of clothing as quickly as possible.

"I'm thinking very dirty thoughts," Blair whispered raggedly, her hand moving to rest on Serena's stomach as the blonde kicked her jeans off of the end of the bed.

"I love it when you think very dirty thoughts," Serena responded smiling, leaning up to met Blair's lips as the brunette leaned forward to kiss her hungrily. "And I love it even more when you do very dirty things," Serena continued as Blair's hands began to skim restlessly over her body, the movements languid but scattered as if the brunette was having a hard time deciding where to begin.

Blair looked up at Serena at that and smiled, a mischievous, naughty, teasing smile that made Serena shiver because she knew the type of things a smile like that would lead to.

Blair leaned over Serena, rubbing her body along the blonde's deliberately as she did.

"What are you …" Serena began to ask, however as Blair opened the drawer to her bedside table and pulled out a cord with graduated, translucent balls along the length of it the question died on her lips.

"When did you …" Serena breathed out instead, her eyes on the object in Blair's hand as the brunette moved to straddle her waist.

Blair smiled slowly as her fingers moved over the smooth surface of the largest of the knobs attached to the cord.

"I just got it," she responded softly a second later resting the cord on the mattress by her thigh as her hands moved to Serena's stomach and began to run up and down, the backs of her fingers teasing the underside of the blonde's breasts though she avoided touching them fully. "It was supposed to be a post-Audrey, post-cookie surprise, but …" Blair trailed off shrugging.

"I know it's new, but don't worry," she continued her fingers moving to dance along the sides of Serena's breasts though she still refused to take them fully into her hands. "It's perfectly safe," she went on leaning down, brushing her lips against Serena's, as she finally allowed her hands to cup the blonde's breasts. "I tested it out a couple days ago," she continued smiling as Serena sucked in a deep breath, her pale eyelashes fluttering as an image of Blair pleasuring herself with the toy no doubt entered her mind.

Serena made a soft, almost mewling sound a few seconds later and Blair ground her hips into the blonde's pelvis as she allowed her fingers to pinch the blonde's nipples before she rolled them roughly between her fingers causing Serena to shudder beneath her.

"I imagined you were here," Blair said before kissing Serena again, her tongue caressing the blonde's, the kiss long and deep as Blair shifted, one of her hands leaving Serena's breasts to brace herself on the mattress as she moved so that she was straddling Serena's thigh.

"I imagined that you were watching me," Blair continued breathing in deeply as Serena pushed against her thigh, Serena's warmth and wetness pressed against her leg making Blair shiver. "And then I imagined that you were touching yourself too."

Serena lifted her hand drawing it around Blair's neck so that she could tug the brunette's head down towards her, kissing Blair desperately as her hips rocked and she ground herself against Blair's thigh.

"Uh uh," Blair admonished as Serena's other hand moved to her hip, nudging, trying to flip them over so that the blonde would be on top.

Normally she was more than happy to let Serena take the lead, but she had plans for them this time and Serena was going to have to wait until she was through with her to be queen of the castle again.

"Blair," Serena breathed out, longingly with a quality in her voice that could have been interpreted as a whine.

"I know," Blair said tenderly leaning down to kiss Serena again, her own hips moving slightly, riding Serena's thigh as she kissed her softly.

Blair began to kiss her way down Serena's body stopping to pay some attention to her breasts for a few minutes before she continued, her lips trailing over the blonde's taut, firm stomach, before she found herself between Serena's legs.

Closing her eyes, Blair breathed in deeply. No matter how many times she smelled Serena, the scent of the blonde's arousal never failed to make her shiver and clench. The thought that she had done that to Serena; that it was for her fiercely aroused her each and every time.

"Oh fuuuuck, yes," Serena moaned a second later as Blair leaned forward, her lips wrapping around the blonde's clit, sucking it into her mouth as her hands moved up and down Serena's thighs, caressing them as her tongue played against Serena's most sensitive flesh.

"Blair," Serena moaned again, and again, Blair's name falling from her lips like a mantra as Blair's mouth shifted and the flat of her tongue ran roughly along the length of Serena's sex.

"Don't stop!" Serena cried a few moments later, her hand moving to tangle in Blair's hair as she felt the brunette's mouth lift from her center.

"I won't," Blair said softly, one of her hands moving to stroke the arm of the hand that Serena had tangled in her hair. "It's okay," she continued holding Serena's gaze as her free hand searched the mattress for the cord she had dropped on it earlier. "I was just looking for this," she went on holding the orgasm balls up where Serena would be able to see them, a smile playing across her lips before she ducked her head down to the kiss the inside of Serena's thigh.

"Oh," Serena breathed out her hand loosening in Blair's hair as she relaxed against the mattress once more.

"Spread your legs a bit more," Blair said leaning forward to kiss Serena's clit before shifting back a little. "Perfect," Blair breathed out a second later, moving the first of the graduated balls to Serena's opening and pushing it inside.

Serena gasped her hand tightening again and Blair smiled as she pushed the second larger ball inside of Serena and then the last and largest one until only the end of the cord was visible.

"Jesus," Serena breathed out shivering as she felt the balls inside of her, filling her up, her hips twitching uncontrollably as Blair kissed her thigh, smiling against the flesh.

"It's nice, right?" Blair asked a few seconds later, moving up Serena's body, smiling down at the blonde happily as Serena's eye fluttered.

Serena eyes opened at that and focused on Blair. "Yeah," she said laughing a little before she trembled again.

"It gets better," Blair said smiling widely, her hand moving between Serena's legs to grasp the end of the cord, "when they move," she continued tugging the cord gently, shifting the balls inside of Serena, biting down on her lip when the blonde's eyes snapped open and her hips jerked.

"Fuck," Serena moaned slowly.

"Yeah," Blair agreed, that's what they were doing.

And then Blair leaned forward and pressed their lips together, kissing Serena soundly as she continued to manipulate the globes inside of the blonde, her thumb occasionally moving to stroke Serena's clit as she did.

She knew it wouldn't be long until Serena came. The blonde could never hold out long for her first orgasm. She would twist and turn, and moan and buck and whimper almost helplessly until her first climax.

Blair didn't mind though. Making Serena come was one of the greatest pleasures in her life and she was sure that she would never tire of watching Serena's face as orgasm washed over her or of feeling the blonde's inner muscles grasp at her as her body shook and shivered with pleasure.

And once the edge was off and Serena was able to settle down well … Blair moaned against the blonde's lips at the thought.

"B," Serena gasped a few seconds later, her fingers grasping and squeezing at Blair's ass as she wrenched her lips away from the brunette's.

"B," Serena gasped again … and then her body tensed and her eyes squeezed shut, a ragged breath escaping from her lips as her hips twitched and moisture leaked from her coating Blair's fingers as the brunette's thumb moved against Serena's clit, drawing out her orgasm for as long as possible.

Serena blinked slowly, smiling languidly as she stared up at the ceiling before turning her head to the side, happily kissing Blair back as the brunette pressed their lips together.

A few seconds later Serena's hand fell between her legs, reaching for the cord.

She could still feel the orbs inside of her.

Blair's hand moved to cover her own.

"Leave it," Blair said softly, her dark brown eyes alight with desire as she met Serena's eyes. "Trust me," she continued, her lips curving up as she drew Serena's hand up to her chest.

Serena smiled and flipped Blair over so that she was leaning over the brunette.

"Always," Serena murmured softly before bending down to kiss Blair.

It was her turn.


Part Twelve

Constance Billard School for Girls … a week later

Blair flipped her hair, turning her head dramatically to the side to look at Isabel with a thoughtful expression on her face.

"So no matter what I tried I just couldn't get mine as thick and dramatic as what I'd been seeing at Prada, Badgley Mischka, Christopher Kane and Louis Vuitton," Blair said shaking her head a little. "But then it came to me, what I needed to do was expand my wing tips."

"Cat-like or calligraphy style?" Isabel asked looking at Blair with an absolutely rapt expression on her face.

"That's the beauty of it," Blair said with a smile. "It doesn't matter. Liner has a painterly shape this season, like the flick of a watercolour brush. Either way will look flirty, vintage and artful."

The girls around her gasped and nodded. Excited voices chattered away around her for a few moments after that and Blair basked in her own wisdom.

It was good to be queen.

"Daniel," Serena greeted with a smile as Dan sidled up beside her.

"Ms. Van der Woodsen," Dan responded circling his hand in front of his body before bowing regally.

Serena laughed and knocked him in the shoulder.

"So, how are things going with your lady love?" Serena asked as they made their way through the iron gates that opened into Constance Billard and the Nightengale-Bamford School for Boys.

Dan smiled and blushed a little before shrugging his shoulders. "They're … going," Dan said halting before looking over at Serena and smiling self-consciously before shaking his head. "It's strange, it's an adjustment you know," he continued when Serena smiled over at him and rested a hand on his shoulder. "We were best friends, and then she took off for a year and when she suddenly showed back up with no warning it was kind of like …"

Serena laughed airily causing Dan to look over at her.

"It's just … I totally get it," she grinning. Dan could have been describing things between her and Blair when she came back. "But it's good strange right, like 'nobody should be this happy without barbiturates' strange. Or 'I always loved talking to you about weird pretentious books and music that nobody else has ever heard about and now I also get to make-out with you' strange, right?"

"Okay, first of all, I'm totally not agreeing with you on that last point," Dan said pointing a finger at Serena. "Lots of people have heard of 'The Crying of Lot 49'. Thomas Pynchon is like an American legend. And even you've heard of The Misshapes so you don't get to insult my music," Dan continued as Serena put up her hands in surrender. "But yes, it's good strange. And the making-out part is definitely a keeper."

"They are the Edie Sedgwick's of the new millennium," Serena said. Blair hated the Misshapes, but she liked their style and had been inspired more than a few times by them when making her own fashion choices. "Wait til you get to the 'buying expensive gifts for her because she pouts and you're weak' part."

"Not as fun?" Dan asked lifting an eyebrow. He figured for him it would be more tracking down obscure, vintage comics, LPs or lunch boxes but it was basically the same thing.

"Well, the getting rewarded for your thoughtfulness afterward isn't bad," Serena said looking over at him and grinning before facing forward again, a smile still on her lips.

"I think I've still got a way to go before I reap those particular benefits," Dan said shaking his head. Now that he and Serena were firmly friends he didn't find the idea of her and Blair together quite as titillating as he had in the past, but it was still a little titillating. In fact he suspected she knew that and was deliberately torturing him by dropping little hints about all of the fabulous sex they had that he would never see. "We don't all have the infamous van der Woodsen charm."

"There's nothing wrong with the Humphrey charm," Serena said sincerely turning to face him again, before she erupted into a big smile. "It even got you the girl this time."

Dan placed his hand over his heart and made a face, before grinning at her as well.

"So are we still on for the Chocolate Show on the weekend?" Dan asked as they neared the spot where they normally parted ways. "Blair's coming right? Van's been waiting to meet her."

Serena shook her head. "It's horrible how much you're anticipating them hating each other and providing amusement for us for the entire night. The Germans have a word for that you know," Serena responded though she was smiling.

"Schadenfreude," Dan replied, "'Pleasure taken from someone else's misfortune'. It's a word I believe Blair has an intimate knowledge of," he continued pointedly.

"And this is where I say 'adieu'," Serena replied grinning walking backwards away from Dan before he could launch into another Blair rant. "And yes, we're both in."

Dan smirked as he turned towards the Nightengale-Bamford. It was going to be a fun Saturday.


Serena lounged on the large cement steps that led to the garden of Constance Billard. Blair was seated beside her and Isabel, Kati, Havilland, Wren, and Banning were camped out on various other steps above and below them.

Serena was watching a squirrel play with an acorn – or maybe it was a pebble she couldn't be sure and the squirrel looked confused as well – while Blair talked about how she was able to examine the laser cut radzimir dresses at Fashion Week up close.

Serena had already heard the story a half dozen times and was deeply intimate with the details of it, like the foam material between the lining and sculpted look the radzmir gave the clothes so she let her mind drift just enjoying the sound of Blair's voice as she watched the squirrel.

"Jesus, it's freezing out here," Blair exclaimed a few minutes later, drawing Serena's eyes over to her.

"It is November," Serena murmured smirking a little.

"Thank you, S," Blair responded rolling her eyes. "That was extremely helpful," she continued glaring at Serena peevishly.

Serena shrugged. She thought Blair was cute when she was peevish.

"Let's go inside," Blair declared, and without another word all of the girls around them gathered their things and stood up.

As they walked back towards the schools main doors, Blair began to talk about the mango lobster skewers that had been served. It just reminded Serena that she had only had time to eat half of her lunch on the steps and that she was still hungry.

"Serena, oh my god."

Serena turned to the side as a body collapsed against her.

"Hey, Little … Jenny," the older blonde said correcting herself as she looked down curiously at her brother's girlfriend. "What's up?"

"Have you seen this?" Jenny asked holding up her phone.

"Yeah, it's your phone," Serena responded her eyebrows scrunching together, trying to determine whether Jenny had gotten a new phone or not and if she was supposed to compliment her on the possibly new purchase.

"No, not the phone," Jenny said finally having regain her breath a little bit. "The Gossip Girl update."

Serena shook her head. "No, we always turn our phones off at lunch," she replied. "Why?" she asked getting a sinking feeling in her gut.

The last time she had been mentioned in the column Gossip Girl had shown pictures of her alone at a bar with a drink in her hand and speculated for two paragraphs about why she had fallen off of the wagon (which she hadn't!).

Nothing good came of Gossip Girl updates and Serena dreaded to think Gossip Girl could have written about her that could have made Jenny come looking for her.

Serena turned her head to the side to look around them when Jenny didn't respond immediately and noticed that were quite a few people looking in her direction. More people than usual anyway and sighed.

"I'm still cold!" Blair called from a few paces a head. She and the others had stopped walking a few moments after Serena stopped to talk to Jenny.

Serena ignored the brunette for the moment and focused her attention on Jenny.

"Jenny," Serena said softly.

"It's about you and Blair," Jenny said holding the phone out so that Serena could read the automatic web text message she had received along with rest of the school five minutes before.

Serena took the phone and looked down at the screen.

//The Incredibly True Adventures of Two Besties in Love? It certainly looks like it from where we're sitting.

Spotted: S and B tucked away in a quiet little corner of Central P spending some quality time together.

Could this be the beginning of a beautiful Sapphic relationship?

Shakira tells us that her 'hips don't lie', and I think that we can all agree that the 'lips don't lie' either because there's no misreading the nature of this particular lip-lock (pictured below).

(Click the link to see S and B wearing either other's lips in streaming video)

Goodness girls, come up for air!

We here at Gossip Girl would like to be the first to congratulate the love birds!

S and B have always made us a little misty-eyed, so … here's lookin' at you kids!

XOXO Gossip Girl//

"S," Blair said a slightly whiney quality to her voice as she walked over to Serena and linked her arm through the blonde's. "Can't you humor Little J inside?"

"Turn on your phone," Serena said softly to Blair, her eyes still on Jenny's.

"Wha …" Blair started to ask, the look on Serena's face registering with her for the first time.

"Never mind," Serena said turning to look at Blair. "Here," she said passing Jenny's phone over to the brunette.

Once Blair had a hold of it Serena looked around again to see that people were openly watching them now, and that the crowd had started to move in closer.

Blair handed the phone back over to Jenny a minute after receiving it from Serena, her eyes lifting to look around them as Serena was doing.

There was now a loose circle of girls around them.

Blair shifted her weight and glared at them.

She knew it was going to come to this eventually.

There were no secrets at prep school.

"Oh, whatever!" Blair declared in her most irritated tone of voice, rolling her eyes at everyone who dared make eye contact with her. "Like this is so shocking. Girls kissing girls, oh my god the sky is falling," she continued slapping her hands to her cheeks and a faux horrified look on her face. "Admit it, you would all make out with her too!" she went on challengingly.

Serena looked over at Blair, and then back out at the crowd who seemed to be focused on her. She could see some of them exchanging glances, and others nodding their heads or shrugging as they looked at her.

It was almost flattering.

"This is stupid," Blair declared petulantly, "and boring. I'm bored," she went on still addressing the crowd before she turned her attention to Serena. "Come on, Bergdorf Goodman just got in the new Diane von Furstenberg dresses and you haven't bought me anything in a while," she continued grabbing Serena's hand.

And with that Blair began to walk, dragging Serena behind her, the circle of girls that had formed around them parting as she approached to let herself and Serena through before it closed up again and the other students of Constance Billard gathered around closer together again.

The crowd of girls watched S and B's retreat and then turned to observe each other, waiting to see how everyone else felt about what had just happened before saying anything themselves.

"So?" Kati asked no one in particular, her eyebrow lifting.

"They're still the best looking, best dressed, richest girls at the school," Isabel responded thoughtfully. She'd had time to think about S and B being together since Chuck had brought it up, and she didn't think that she cared in any significant way.

There was a general murmur of agreement from those around her.

"If Serena's dating Blair it means that our boyfriend's are safe," Leticia said her voice relatively quiet but still loud enough to carry in the silent courtyard.

Even more girls nodded at that. Serena van der Woodsen was to Constance Billard what Angelina Jolie was to the world: a constant source of anxiety for the girlfriend of any male who came within sight of her.

"Blair's been less terrifying in the past two months," another voice called from within the crowd.

Another round of nods; it was true, it really was. It was possible for some girls to pass Blair these days without feeling like they were going to throw up from fear. She wasn't really nicer per say, but if you didn't actively aggravate her she pretty much ignored you which was a nice change of pace from how she had been the previous year.

"They're a really good looking couple," Kati said thoughtfully, her head tilted up to the sky contemplatively. "I kind of like looking at them standing next to each other," she continued slowly as if she was offering meaningful commentary.

Most of the girls in the crowd had to admit that was true.

"Okay then … whatever," Isabel said already bored with the entire situation.

A few minutes later the circle had cleared and everyone went back to the parts of the courtyard they had been occupying before the Gossip Girl update.

Blair stopped walking so suddenly that Serena almost slammed into her back.

They were two blocks away from the school.

"Oh my god," Blair said turning around to look at Serena, her eyes wide and little watery. "Did we just come out?"

Serena was silent for a second as she tried to process all that had happened in the last ten minutes.

"Uh … yeah," Serena breathed out finally, her lips twitching in an approximation of a smile though she wasn't really sure whether she was amused or terrified.

"Oh my god," Blair repeated again.

She was shaking slightly.

Serena stepped closer to her and wrapped her arms around Blair holding her.

"We're in the middle of the street," Blair said struggling against the hold.

"I don't think it matters anymore B," Serena responded softly certain that she was actually smiling this time.

Blair pulled back and looked at her for a second, and then started to laugh as tears continued to leak out of her eyes.

Serena rubbed at the tear streaks with her thumb.

"Do I look like the slutty girl in a horror movie?" Blair asked sniffling a little bit, starting to get her tears under control.

"You look beautiful," Serena said. Blair was a bit splotchy and red-faced, and other people might say she had looked better, but to Serena she looked just as beautiful as she ever did. "Look, no disgraced beauty queen raccoon eyes," she continued showing Blair the absence of black smudges on the thumbs that had been wiping at her cheeks.

"Everyone knows," Blair sighed a few seconds later, reaching for Serena's hand. She wanted to walk into Serena's body and let the blonde hold her, but she was still too sensitive for that in the middle of a sidewalk at 12:30 in the afternoon.

"Yeah," Serena agreed sighing softly as they continued to walk again.

"What do you think is going to happen tomorrow?" Blair asked turning to look at Serena.

Serena bit her bottom lip as she met Blair's gaze. She wished she could reassure her, but the truth was she had absolutely no idea how it would go over with their classmates. Gossip Girl seemed to be on their side - probably because she'd get more hits doing stories about them making out - but she had no idea how the general population would react.

"I don't know," Serena said softly silent for a moment before squaring her shoulders. "It doesn't matter," she decided a second later, squeezing Blair's hand. "We're young, pretty and rich. We can survive anything."

"Maybe you can, you're old money … nothing phases you people," Blair responded shaking her head. "I'm liable to end up ODing in a puddle of my own vomit in a DJ booth."

"So gross B, unbelievably gross," Serena responded making a face. "Besides, you're with me, so you're old money now too. The best type of old money, in fact …"

"Shipping money," Blair responded smirking, her mood lightening despite herself.

"Are you worried about your mother's reaction?" Serena asked as they continued to walk.

She was fairly certain their parents didn't read Gossip Girl – they would have gotten into far more trouble in the past if they did – but with news like this someone was sure to tell their parents and all of their parents knew each other.

Blair snorted. "She probably won't realize until I'm thirty, and running an organic clothing store."

Serena laughed. "Organic clothing store? Is that your big dream?"

"The lady gays like organic things," Blair said sighing turning to look at Serena as if she were a simpleton. "I'm modifying the big picture to fit my new vag loving lifestyle."

"I don't think you have to start eating granola and wearing Birkenstocks because you like my girl parts," Serena responded grinning, laughing as Blair swatted her in the arm. "Birkenstocks really are very comfortable, though."

Blair glared at her.

"I'm serious, they are," Serena insisted.

"You're not allowed to go shopping by yourself anymore," Blair declared facing forward and walking with purpose, much like her old self again.

"But none of the stores you shop at sell wife-beaters," Serena responded, a mockingly complaining tone in her voice. "I mean, do you even know where to go to buy cargo pants?"

"I hate you," Blair pouted before she started to smile a bit.

"No you don't. You love me. You …"

"Please don't sing it," Blair interjected turning to look at Serena. "Don't," she warned seeing Serena's lips part.

"You want to kiss me …" Serena began ignoring Blair.

"I mean it," Blair said holding up her hand. "I totally will not put out all week if you sing that song."

Serena stopped singing immediately and looked down. Blair meant it. She knew the brunette enjoyed sex as much as she did, but Blair had much more self control than she did. Blair could totally hold out for a week and be fine, whereas she'd be a jittery, masturbating mess.

"That's so mean," Serena muttered beginning to walk again.

"It's not my fault you're a nympho," Blair responded linking her fingers with Serena's.

"Actually it is," Serena replied. "If you weren't so sexy I wouldn't want to rip your clothes off and have my way with you all the time."

"True," Blair said nodding sagely though she was smiling. "I guess we all have our crosses to bear," she continued wisely. "Being super good-looking and tempting people into debauchery is mine."

Serena laughed and hugged Blair quickly unable not to.

They'd be fine, she was sure of it. It might be uncomfortable for a while, but they'd pull through. They loved each other too much not to.


Part Thirteen

Constance Billard School for Girls … the next day

Blair tilted her head up as she strode through the iron gates leading to Constance Billard School for Girls. She could feel eyes on her as she walked, but she was used to people looking at her and pretended that the looks she was getting at that moment were like the ones she received every other day.

She would not crack under the pressure. She would not fail. She would not doubt herself. She was Blair Waldorf. She was the Queen. And if anyone wanted to try and take her crown from her they were going to have to fight her for it, and she fought dirty.

"Look at my feet," Blair demanded imperiously as soon as she reached Isabel and Kati.

A few other girls were standing around her friends and at her sharp tone they immediately looked down at her feet as well.

"Oh my god," Isabel gasped her hand moving to cover her mouth as she gaped in awe.

"Can I …" Kati started to ask her hand immediately moving from her side and out towards Blair's body.

"No, of course not," Blair responded kicking her foot a little bit for emphasis. "Are you insane? Stay away," she continued eyes narrowed and glaring at Kati until she retracted her hand.

"I told they would look good with a skirt," Blair went on a second later to no one in particular knowing that she didn't need to direct her comments at anyone because everyone was listening. "Givenchy was playing around with the runway ankle boot, but it was really more a clunky monstrosity of a shoe than a real boot," Blair continued turning and posing, showing off the Prada ankle boots from more than one angle. "With Prada, it's now streamlined and fabulous."

"Oh my god!" Havilland exclaimed coming up to Blair, grabbing her by the shoulder as she stared down at her feet. Having just arrived at school she was experiencing the ankle boots for the first time.

"I know," Blair responded smiling a bit as she extended her foot to show off the boots to Havilland. "Serena bought them for me," she added importantly a moment later, her voice steady and casual as could be though she had the sneaking suspicion that her palms were sweating and she could feel her heart pounding beneath her breast.

"Spontaneous gift boots are the best boots," Isabel sighed not blinking an eye at the mention of Serena or the romantic nature of the gift. "Lucky," she sighed turning her head to the side to get a different view of the boots.

Blair was quiet for a second having truly expected her friends to have some sort of reaction to her bringing up her relationship with Serena no matter how subtly she did it. But as she looked at the familiar faces surrounding her there was nothing but adoring and slightly covetous looks on their faces. And directing her gaze past them into the courtyard she could see that while she was still being stared at more than usual and more openly than usual the gazes trained on her were slightly curious but not hostile or combative.

"I know," Blair said a few seconds later a smug smile settling across her lips as she began to relax for the first time that morning.

Her throne was still secure.

"It's about time you got here," Blair declared a few seconds later as she felt a hand come to rest on her shoulder. She didn't' need to turn around to know who it was which allowed her to start her rant before even making eye contact. "You have a driver. How are you always late?" Blair continued turning finally, a warm smile spreading across her face as she looked at Serena for the first time that morning.

Serena shrugged unconcerned. It was just her way.

"They look good," the blonde said a second later looking down at Blair's feet before lifting her eyes to regard the brunette again.

"Go on, release your inner-Lily," Blair sighed though her lips were still curved in amusement.

"And they should considering how much I paid for them," Serena replied her tone lowering and becoming icy in a perfect imitation of her mother as she placed her hand on her hip and pointedly arched an eyebrow, her lips pouting fiercely before she dissolved into a smile.

"Have you kicked anyone with them yet?" Serena asked looking down at the sharp pointed toes of the boots before her gaze drifted over the Isabel, Kati and Havilland to see of any of them were standing funny.

"Not yet, I was waiting for you," Blair said sweetly. "Considering the role you played in my acquisition of these beautifully constructed instruments of destruction I thought that you should get the see the fruits of your credit card in action," she continued smiling over at Serena. "Have you seen Little J around anywhere?" she asked a second later, her tone as innocent as could be.

"Nope, I guess her driver was late picking her up as well," Serena responded shrugging her shoulders and sighing sadly.

She had not only seen Jenny but had talked with her for over ten minutes, but there was no way she was going to tell Blair that. She knew her girlfriend well enough to know that Blair actually would kick Jenny for the fun of it. Not hard, and she'd make it seem like an accident, but she would do it.

Blair made a sound in her throat. "And by driver you mean the disgruntled civil servant that drives the E 72?"

"Yes," Serena responded nodding her head for emphasis.

Blair rolled her eyes. "Let's go inside, I'm freezing," she announced a moment later.

Their friends shifted and gathered their jackets around them obediently preparing to move indoors while Serena allowed Blair to loop her arm through her own.

As they headed for the building Serena was struck by the thought that she had been successfully housebroken. When Blair said she was cold her first thought was that she should buy Blair an Alexander McQueen wool skull scarf to keep her warm and looking fabulous.

The thought made her smile.

"What?" Blair asked softly seeing the look in Serena's eyes and the smile on her face.

"Nothing," Serena said in an equally quiet tone. Everyone might have known about them but there were some things that were going to stay between the two of them. "I was just thinking about you and it made me smile."

Blair grinned widely in response. "Really?" she asked leaning into Serena's body a bit more.

Serena nodded as she looked over at Blair, incredibly tempted to kiss the brunette even though they were still in the middle of the courtyard. She couldn't be blamed for the impulse. Blair was incredibly kissable. All of the time she wanted to kiss her.

"You're my …"

"Favorite?" Blair interjected still smiling.

"Actually, I was going to say 'best ho' but favorite works too," Serena replied laughing as Blair reached around with her free hand to swat her in the stomach. "Blair," Serena whispered. "This is no time to indulge your fetishes. We're at school."

"Shut up," Blair declared in a regular tone of voice, scowling and smiling at the same time.

Serena was tempted to respond with a 'yes, dear' but she was fairly certain that everyone already thought that Blair had her wrapped around her little finger and didn't want to add anymore fuel to the fire. She did have her dignity.

So instead, she simply laughed and shifted to the side quickly wrapping Blair in a bear hug, her laughter only increasing when Blair started to struggle and curse at her.

"A plague on your house van der Woodsen!" Blair complained finally freeing herself from Serena's warm and tyrannical hold. "I hate you so much," she continued glaring at the blonde as she straightened out her clothes.

Serena took a step towards her.

Blair kicked her foot in Serena's direction warningly. "If Little J's not around another blonde will do," Blair said holding Serena's gaze.

"You wouldn't," Serena said eyeing the boot wearily. She suspected that Blair would.

Blair simply smiled.

'Yeah, she definitely would' the blonde thought.

Serena smiled.

"Have it your way," Serena responded moving towards Blair looping her arm through the brunette's again.

"I always do," Blair responded as they began to walk again. "Except for when I don't," she murmured softly just for Serena's ears a few seconds later, her voice a suggestive purr.

"My way after school today?" Serena asked in an equally quiet tone, a shiver of excitement running through her body.

With Eleanor home again their opportunities to spend 'special time' alone together had decreased dramatically and Serena was going into withdrawal. It had been almost a week since her head had been between Blair's legs and that was entirely too long for a growing girl to go without nourishment.

"Where?" Blair asked a touch of anxiousness in her voice. She was usually better at controlling her urges than Serena, but it had been entirely too long for her liking as well. They were young, rich, and good-looking. According to the media finding places to have illicit, teenage sex was not supposed to be a problem for them.

"Lily will be out until like eight or something like that, and I'll pay Eric to leave the house if I have to," Serena said. "I want you … in my real bed."

The van der Woodsen's had just moved back into their Manhattan home and Serena had been dying to be alone with Blair in her room. For some reason the idea of making love to Blair in the room of her childhood innocence was extremely hot to her.

"In your room, with your Orlando Bloom poster staring at us at the whole time?" Blair asked smirking a little bit.

"I took that down," Serena muttered. She hadn't, but she totally would before Blair came over. She'd only been back in her house a couple of days and unpacking had taken up most of her time.

"No you didn't!" Blair exclaimed reading Serena like a book. "Oh my god, he has the worst facial hair ever. How were you ever attracted to him?"

"I was thirteen," Serena muttered looking away embarrassed to be reminded of the poster and her horrible preteen taste in boys. Lucky, her taste in women was much, much better.

"You're seventeen now and you still haven't taken it down. What's your excuse for that?" Blair asked smirking.

"I forgot," Serena mumbled under her breath pointedly not looking at Blair.

Blair laughed as they reached the doors to Constance Billard and Serena pouted.

Blair supposed she would just have to make it up to Serena after school.


Part Fourteen

Waldorf Brownstone … later that night

Blair blinked and pushed her face further into her pillow as the light to her bedroom was turned on, an inarticulate sound of complaint coming out of her mouth as she did. She was entirely too tired for it to be morning, and the only people with enough gall to wake her up in the middle of the night were her mother and Serena. And since the overhead light had been turned on and she wasn't being smothered with kisses she knew that it wasn't Serena.

"What?" Blair grumbled keeping her arm flung over her eyes as she rolled onto her back.

"Serena?" Eleanor asked her eyebrow arched impossibly high on her forehead though Blair couldn't see it.

"What?" Blair asked again, although this time she was struggling towards wakefulness instead of trying to fight it.

"Are you …" Eleanor began pacing in front of the doorway. "You and Serena … are you … have you … oh, I don't even know why I'm bothering to ask you, you never tell me anything," Eleanor continued turning to face Blair, looking at her sharply as she went from questioning to ranting.

Blair struggled into a sitting position, her back resting against the headboard of her bed as she stared forward coolly at her mother's agitated form.

"Was there an actual question you were trying to ask or did you wake me up just to ramble incoherently?" Blair finally asked, her tone bored as Eleanor continued to simply stare at her.

"Are you …sleeping with Serena?" Eleanor asked her eyes flashing, the word 'sleeping' coming out barely louder than a whisper.

"I'm not sleeping at all thanks to you," Blair huffed brushing some luxurious strands of brown hair behind her ear.

"You're a snot nosed little brat," Eleanor muttered staring at Blair. Although the child was irritating her, Blair reminded her a lot of herself at that moment and in a way she had to respect that.

"Yes, I am," Blair responded staring back at her mother evenly.

"You're not going to deny it?" Eleanor asked curiously.

"Why should I? You already know it's true. Everyone knows it's true. They caught us kissing in streaming video," Blair responded calmly though her heart was beating wildly beneath her breast. "You should be pleased though, I was wearing the satin bomber jacket from your collection. You're getting tons of free advertising."

Eleanor stared at Blair for a few seconds and then shook her head and began to pace again.

"How could you do this to me?" she asked glancing over at her daughter before looking away again. "I was told at a cocktail party! Do you have any idea how embarrassing that was?" Eleanor continued shaking her head again. "As if I hadn't suffered enough humiliation with everything that went on with your father…" she went on trailing off for a few seconds before muttering "…and in public," shaking her head before she stopped speaking completely and turned to look at Blair.

Blair blinked and looked away from her mother for a moment, her eyes drifting around her room before she forced herself to look at the older woman.

"You've always been embarrassed by me. Nothing I've ever done has been good enough for you. I've never been good enough for you. So really, what's one more disappointment?" Blair said finally smiling weakly before dropping her gaze.

"I suppose it doesn't make any difference to you that I'm happy," Blair continued her eyes on her covered lap. "Or that she actually loves me. Not who I have the potential to become, or who I could be if I did this or that, but me, as I am, imperfections and all," she continued still not looking up.

"Blair," Eleanor said sharply, though her eyes were somewhat unfocused as she looked at her daughter.

"What?" Blair muttered. "What?!? She asked louder a second later finally looking up at her mother. "What do you want from me? I can't do anything about it, okay? We didn't know anyone was around. I'm sorry if I've ruined your entire life, and that I'm a complete waste of space and that giving birth to me ruined your bikini line forever. I suck okay, I get it. Now you can just hate me openly and get it over with. You should be relieved. Now you won't have to pretend like you care."

Eleanor blinked, shocked into silence by the words that were coming out of her daughters mouth. She knew that they didn't have the best relationship, and that she was away too much, and that she was too critical and Blair too sensitive, and that the strongest tie they had to each other was their address. But despite her failings as a parent, and their sometimes strained interaction, Blair was her daughter and she loved her … and she thought that Blair understood that.

"Pretend," Eleanor breathed out finally, moving towards Blair's bed as she spoke. "Do you honestly think that?" Eleanor asked sitting on the edge of Blair's mattress. "I mean, my god, Blair. I'm your mother!"

"You were away for two weeks," Blair said looking over at her. "The first thing you did when you got into New York was go to get your nails done. Two weeks, and I didn't see you until six hours after your flight got in. How much could you care?"

"Gabriella said you were out with Serena," Eleanor said slowly, her voice low. "You were having fun with your friends, I didn't want to bother you," she continued. "You've always preferred the company of your friends to spending time with me."

"Only because you've always been far more enamored with you notchers and appliqué scissors than you've ever been with me," Blair responded glaring at her mother, her eyes flashing with anger and hurt.

"I … I'm sorry you feel that way," Eleanor said turning her head away from Blair to stare out into her daughters room.

"Not sorry enough to change," Blair accused looking back down at her blanket. "I should have gone to live with Dad. You wouldn't even have missed me and even though he's always too busy for me as well at least he doesn't actively make me feel like shit," Blair continued muttering softly.

Eleanor breathed in sharply at Blair's muttered words, blinking rapidly.

"I would have missed you," Eleanor said softly, taking a deep breath, forcing herself to turn around and face Blair once more. "Clearly …" she went on before pausing to gather her thoughts. "Clearly I haven't been a very good mother, but I do love you Blair. I …"

Eleanor paused and looked down by her feet. She had come straight up to Blair's room after the party and she still had her purse with her. She had set it down when she sat down on Blair's bed, but she reached for it then, rummaging around in it for a moment before pulling out her Blackberry.

Blair remained unconvinced and silent, but watched her mother keenly as she pulled the phone out of her bag; an unkind thought that Eleanor would make a business call in the middle of a heart-to-heart coming to her.

"I miss you," Eleanor said handing the Blackberry to Blair, waiting until the younger brunette pushed a button before continuing. "I took that before I left the last time."

Blair watched the screen for a few seconds before looking up and over at her mother. It was a video of her sleeping.

"Why?" Blair asked.

She wasn't sure how to respond to the video. She thought that she might be touched by it but she was also confused. It was such a sweet, maternal thing to do that her mind couldn't wrap around the fact that Eleanor was responsible for it.

"I've always looked in on you at night," Eleanor said shaking her head a little. "Your father used to say that nobody would be able to kidnap you without you waking up the entire neighborhood, but that wasn't why I looked in. I just like to see you so peaceful," she went on looking over at Blair.

"Even as a child you worried so much," Eleanor continued a small smile tugging at her lips. "To this day I've never heard of another six year old who came up with an itinerary for play-dates. Serena always looked so bewildered whenever you would sit her down and explain the schedule for the day. A ball of yarn would have kept that girl entertained," she continued smiling, the last part actually causing a little smile to crack on Blair's face as well.

"Serena can't be trusted with details," Blair said looking over at her mother. "She's entirely too whimsical to plan anything. It was my job to plan and her job to make me enjoy the plan," she continued smiling a little bit. The way they interacted with each other hadn't changed much in the years since they had play-dates.

"I noticed," Eleanor said thoughtfully a few seconds after Blair had stopped talking.

"Noticed what?" Blair asked her brows crunching together.

"You said earlier that you were happy," Eleanor clarified. "I noticed. For the past couple of months you've seemed … freer somehow. I should have asked or said something," she continued realizing the truth of her words as they came out of her mouth, "but I was afraid it would break the spell somehow; that if I mentioned it I'd somehow manage to take it away from you."

Blair stared at her mother for a moment, before a little smirk appeared on her lips and she shook her head. "That's messed up."

Eleanor smiled back and nodded slowly acknowledging the truth of Blair's words. They were quite a pair.

"So are you going to disown me or something now that my lady love has come to light?" Blair asked a few moments later. The conversation was going entirely too well, and if another Jimmy Choo was going to drop, she would rather that it be sooner than later.

"I'm not a homophobe Blair," Eleanor sniffed, shooting Blair a look before her expression softened, "I'm in fashion. I'm contractually obligated to love the gays."

Blair laughed softly. "Really, that's written in your contract with the Fashion America Guild?"

Eleanor considered Blair for a moment and then smiled. "FAG?" she asked lifting an eyebrow, "very clever dear."

"If one has to be a brat, they should at least make the effort to be an entertaining one," Blair responded, the slight curve of her lips taking away any sting her words may have had.

Eleanor considered her daughter for a moment and then reached out to cup Blair's cheek, simply holding her face for a moment, before she shifted on the mattress moving closer to Blair so that she could hug her.

"I need you," Eleanor said softly, still hugging Blair.

Blair breathed in deeply. To most people it would have seemed like a strange thing to say, but Blair understood that it was the greatest compliment her mother could have paid her. Eleanor was one of the most fiercely self-sufficient people Blair knew. Even when married, her mother had remained completely her own person, and for her to admit that she needed someone else in her life, that another person had that much power over her was a significant statement.

"Then make time for me," Blair said softly as they pulled apart from each other. "And be nicer. Positive reinforcement isn't a sign of weakness," she continued her tone light though her eyes were serious and hurt.

Eleanor nodded and then stood up.

"Why don't you invite Serena over for brunch on Saturday," Eleanor suggested as she made her way to the door.

"Like that is such a meaningful gesture," Blair replied rolling her eyes though she was smiling. "You love Serena. You've probably been looking for an excuse to invite her over."

Eleanor smiled. Blair always had to push. It was a character trait she greatly admired.

"You're right of course, dramatic gestures are always best," Eleanor responded taking a deep breath. If she wanted to take a step towards repairing her relationship with Blair, she was going to have to make a meaningful gesture. She was going to have to give up something that meant something to her. She was going to have to put Blair's desire ahead of her own … as any good mother would do.

"Invite Serena over for brunch," Eleanor continued a few seconds later. "Dramatic gestures are always best with an audience," she continued leaning against the doorframe. "Good night, Blair."

"Good night El … mom," Blair responded lying back on her mattress.

Eleanor smiled and turned off the light.


Part Fifteen

The Eighth Annual Chocolate Show

Dan stared at Blair, his eyebrows knitting together.

He looked up past the brunette his lips twitching as he tried to suppress the urge to speak.

Serena was standing behind Blair looking at him anxiously, shaking her head again and again, making 'no' movements with her hands behind Blair's back.

She could tell that he was trying not to speak and it seemed that she had a good idea what he was likely to say because her hand gestures were getting more emphatic by the second. Dan knew in his mind that he should probably listen to her and remain silent. After all, Serena knew Blair better than anyone, and if she didn't think it was a good idea, it probably wasn't.

But still … he just couldn't not …

"You know we're going to be a room full of chocolate, right?" Dan blurted staring at Blair.

Blair arched her eyebrow and looked over at him balefully. "Your point?"

"Chocolate's … brown," Dan responded gesturing in her general direction.

Blair looked over at Vanessa, "…and brains too. He's a keeper."

Vanessa smirked at the comment and looked over at Dan shaking her head.

To the surprise and disappoint of Dan and Serena (though she wouldn't admit it), Blair and Vanessa had gotten along quite well upon meeting each other. Dan still seemed bewildered by it but Serena was certain that Vanessa's inspired outfit – a red Marc Jacobs-esque leather skirt with a white Betsey Johnson-esque button down shirt, a black western style ski vest with a faux-fur collar and red racing gloves – had convinced Blair that if Vanessa could put something that funky and fashionable together on a limited budget that she was not a total write off – despite the fact that she was dating Dan.

"Why would you wear so much … white?" Dan asked ignoring Vanessa's look and Blair's comment, his tone almost angry as if her bizarre fashion choice offended him on some deeply personal level.

"White?" Blair asked indignantly. "White?" she asked again louder her eyes sparking. "This is not just white!" Blair declared sweeping her hands down over her body. "This is Hollywood history," she continued. "My mother gave up Cory Kennedy and Daria Werbowy for this," Blair sniffed her chin lifting smugly.

Serena looked over at Blair at that, a tender smile coming to her face as she looked at Blair's gloating expression. To some, Blair might have seemed insufferably conceited at that moment, but Serena knew that it wasn't that.

Blair was just happy.

When Eleanor had given the present to her at brunch, Blair had been speechless. And when Eleanor had revealed that she had given up Cory Kennedy and Daria Werbowy for her new campaign in a trade for the outfit, Blair had dissolved into tears. They were very dignified tears and she got herself back under control very quickly, but it was quite clear that Eleanor had finally managed to do something right.

Serena shook her head as she glared at Dan. It seemed that the next time they all went out together she'd have to bring cardboard and markers since apparently he would need her to make a sign from him to get a clue.

"It's Audrey Hepburn's white trench coat, head scarf and gloves from Charade," Serena said butting into the conversation before Dan could say anything that would rile Blair up more. It wasn't often that Blair got to bask in an obvious display of her mothers love and she wanted her girlfriend to be able to enjoy the basking for as long as possible.

"Oh," Dan exclaimed the gleam in his eyes making Serena sigh. "That's who the tall girl in that movie was."

Blair's eyes flashed and Serena quickly reached out, wrapping her arms around Blair's waist, drawing the brunette close into her body as Blair attempted to rush Dan – most likely to throttle him to death.

"He's joking, B," Serena said desperately into Blair's ear as her eyes lifted to glare at Dan. "He knows the entire score to My Fair Lady," she continued soothingly, smirking at Dan when Vanessa turned to look at him questioningly. "I've personally heard him sing the chorus of 'I've Grown Accustomed to her Face'."

Serena could see Vanessa struggling to control her laugher.

"He's just being a dick," she finished as Dan looked around them, refusing to make eye contact with anyone as his cheeks reddened.

That's what he got for deliberately riling up her girlfriend, Serena thought.

Blair relaxed against Serena's body at the blonde's words, slumping into her arms though she continued to glare at Dan.

"So," Vanessa said clapping her hands together looking extremely amused. "Who's up for chocolate?"

"You wouldn't say that if you'd heard his cover of The Smiths 'Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This Before'," Vanessa said challengingly, walking backwards so that she could look at Blair as they argued.

"Another cover of The Smiths," Blair sniffed, "how creative and original. What's next, remixing Dylan songs?"

Vanessa pointed a finger at Blair. "You can't use that example. It's already been released and you …"

Vanessa paused, turning around quickly as she collided with someone, her hand automatically extending to help steady the person as she began to say, "I'm so sorry," and over again.

"It's fine, really," Nate said smiling as looked at the apologizing girl in front of him. "Really," he continued as his eyes drifted past her, his smile faltering a second after that.

"Blair … Serena," Nate said a few seconds later, his eyes moving between the two of them before he seemed to register that Dan was there as well and added, "Dan."

"Nate," Dan returned with a nod of his head, taking a step forward and extending his hand for a handshake. It seemed the manly thing to do.

"Hey," Serena greeted once the boys were finished, a smile on her face though it was a little strained. "Is that …" she began gesturing a little past him to a blonde woman a couple meters away.

"Yeah, yeah," Nate said looking behind him before smiling a little awkwardly. "She dragged me along. Mother's you know," he said shrugging, his eyes on Blair who was silent. "Anyway, I was on my way to … so I better," he said gesturing past them. "I'll see you at school I guess," he said his eyes finally leaving Blair's before he began to move past them.

"Well, that was awk …" Serena began, pausing when Blair began to walk away following in the direction Nate had walked off in. "…ward," Serena finished watching Blair's retreating back.

"So, she's going to talk to him then," Dan said also following Blair's retreat.

"Seems like," Serena responded before sighing deeply. "I need chocolate," she murmured a moment later looking around her for the nearest booth.

Nate stopped walking in the private hallway that led to the bathrooms. He knew Blair was following him and figured it would be better to talk to her away from the urinals.

"I was on my way to … so I better," Blair began mockingly when she caught up to him. "You're such a shitty liar," she said shaking her head.

"Are you really fucking Serena?" Nate asked ignoring Blair's words, his body tensing as he was finally able to voice the concerns that had been driving him crazy for almost a month.

He'd denied it when Chuck brought it up, but he knew it was true, he had felt it in his bones.

Serena had always put Blair before him. She hadn't even been willing to give them a chance because of how it might affect Blair. But what killed him was that she didn't even really care. Not getting the chance to explore things between them because of Blair didn't even bother Serena.

All Serena had been concerned about was Blair and as he watched them in the past couple of months he realized why that was … and it made him burn jealously.

"Yeah, I am," Blair replied glaring at him. "Jealous?" she asked a second later and then shook her head. "Of course you are," she snapped reading him like a book. The flushed skin, the averted eyes, and slumped shoulders, he was telegraphing everything he was feeling. She had just pretended not to see it before.

Nate looked up at her at that, his eyes flashing before he turned to look around at the nothingness surrounding them, his shoulder slumping as he disappeared into himself once more.

Silence from Nate. How shocking, Blair thought.

"I don't eve know why I followed you," Blair said breaking the silence as she always did. "You're not even upset about losing me. You're just upset about losing Serena," she continued unable to keep a trace of hurt out of her voice. He had been her boyfriend, he should have been broken up over not getting to be with her anymore, but even now it was still all about Serena for him.

"That's not …" Nate began weakly before trailing off, his eyes dropping to the ground.

"Jesus! You can't even make it through a half assed lie," Blair said shaking her head again. "Whatever, it doesn't even matter," she continued a second later her back straightening as she glared at him. "I didn't come out here to talk about what a crap boyfriend you were."

"Then why did you follow me?" Nate asked peevishly. Blair had gotten the girl, he didn't see why she had to torture him with it. She won. Serena was hers. He was doubly screwed.

"To tell you that I put up with you bullshit when we were dating because I cared about you," Blair said sounding absolutely bewildered as if she couldn't fathom how that had once been the case. "But," she went on poking him in the chest as she spoke. "If you try anything with my girlfriend," she went on holding his gaze. "I swear to God that what I will do to you will make you long a character in one of those fucked up Japanese horror movies."

Nate's lips parted and Blair knew that he was going to try and say something … knowing him something that would piss her off.

Blair held up her hand silencing him.

"I forgave you for sleeping with her and I can forgive you for acting like a punk-ass little bitch for the past month," Blair began. "I'd like to think that we were friends and friends forgive," she continued. "But if you try to ruin this for me … that's it. If you try anything with her again, I promise that I will never forgive you," Blair went on her voice an intense whisper. "You don't want me as an enemy," Blair said a little louder taking a step back from him.

Nate turned his head to the side looking away from her. A second later, with his eyes still averted he nodded, letting her know that he heard and understood what she said.

Blair would have liked more, would have liked a promise that he would keep it in his pants, but she'd always wanted more from Nate then he was ever willing to give her.

"Enjoy the rest of your night," Blair said in response and then she began to move away to get back to her date.

Serena immediately reached out for Blair's hand as she rejoined them and tugged the brunette towards her body, wrapping her arm around Blair's waist as she held up a piece of chocolate to her lips.

It was time to begin "Operation Cheer Blair up Because Nate is a Ruining Douchebag".

"These are so good," Serena gushed pushing the chocolate against Blair's lips once she had the brunette safely wrapped in her arms. "Come on, open the hanger," she continued, dancing the piece of chocolate against Blair's lips until the brunette cracked a small smile and opened her mouth, allowing Serena to slip the chocolate inside.

"Mm," Blair moaned, rubbing her stomach with an exaggerated motion as she nodded her head at Serena.

Serena smiled. Blair was being mocking and sarcastic, but she could feel the tension draining from her body as she continued to keep Blair held loosely within the circle of her arms.

"Okay, I'm sorry, I know it's rude but," Vanessa said turning to look at Blair as the four of them began to move again, "was that your …"

"Ex-boyfriend?" Blair interjected still scanning the items at the stall they were passing by, "Yeah."

Vanessa nodded and made a sympathetic sound in her throat. "Still in love with you?" she asked.

"No," Blair responded turning around to face Vanessa, a smile on her face as she did. "He's still in love with her," she said gesturing towards Serena who grimaced at being brought into the conversation but said nothing to refute Blair's statement that the brunette's ex-boyfriend was in love with her.

"Oh," Vanessa said and then she promptly shut up.

IHOP … Saturday Night 11:45 pm

"You can compare anyone to characters from Valley of Dolls," Blair said moving her fork over to Serena's plate to spear a piece of bacon. Her brows knitting together a moment later when the meat refused to stay on her fork. "Oh for the love of god, how did I let you talk me into coming here?!? This is ridiculous," she complained abandoning the fork and reaching for the bacon with her fingers. "I could as well be eating franks and beans by a campfire on the frontier."

"Yeah, but would it be 'All-You-Can-Eat' franks and beans?" Serena asked smiling over at Blair, laughing lightly as the brunette rolled her eyes at her. That didn't stop Blair from reaching over and stealing a tater tot from her plate however.

"I'm sure you can compare them," Vanessa said referring back to Blair's earlier statement. "But I don't think that it would be very flattering."

"Of course it wouldn't be flattering," Blair responded finally tiring of eating Serena's food and focusing her attention on Vanessa. "Everyone in that novel is a hot mess. But then again most people are."

"So who would you be?" Vanessa asked resting her elbows on the table interested to hear what Blair would come up with.

From what she had been able to tell, while Blair was, as Dan had said, a 95 pound, doe-eyed, label whoring, package of girly entitlement, she had also been able to determine that the brunette was smart, clever, sensitive and probably far more self-aware than others, including Dan gave her credit for.

She didn't really think that she and Blair would ever be close friends. She suspected that the two of them spending more than a couple of hours in each others company would have disastrous effects. But she was almost certain that in a way she liked the brunette.

The fact that Serena was clearly head over heels in love with Blair and was clearly not interested in Dan except in ways that were completely platonic endeared the brunette to her as well.

"I would have said a cross between Anne and Helen a few months ago, but I'm in a stage of self-development right now so that's probably changed," Blair responded taking a sip of her hot chocolate (Serena's attempt at humor after her complaints about all of the chocolate she had consumed that night) and determined that it was still too hot.

"Interesting. Why?" Vanessa asked.

"Anne was involved with a man who continually cheated on her with other people, and because she was an idiot she actually married him so that he could continue to cheat on her and be entitled to half of her assets," Blair responded her hand moving to Serena's thigh under the table rubbing it gently.

Valley of the Dolls was one of Serena's favorite books as well, they had both read it obsessively and Blair knew that Serena was probably thinking about the omission she had made when talking about Anne's life. Namely that Anne's husband had also cheated on her with one of her best friends.

"Luckily I realized the error of my ways before that scenario had a chance to come true," she continued leaning to the side to kiss Serena on the cheek.

Serena smiled and relaxed at the tender touch. She hadn't even realized she had tensed up until her body relaxed again.

"And Helen?" Vanessa asked watching the interaction between the girls carefully.

She had been wondering about what exactly the situation was between the two of them and that guy from earlier on was but she knew better than to ask. She had read Valley of the Dolls too however, and she was fairly certain she knew why Serena had looked not just embarrassed but also pained when Blair had said that her ex was still in love with the blonde.

It seemed the Upper East Side really was like a real-life soap opera.

"She was successful and manipulative … but not ambitious to the point of self-destruction like Neely," Blair responded with a smile. "She had a perfect balance, of brains, talent, gumption, class and dramatics. The only difference is I would have realized that I looked better without the wig."

"My own little Machiavelli," Serena cooed leaning into Blair a little bit and placing a kiss against her temple. "By 2020, Manhattan will totally be known as the Principality of Waldorfia."

"The Principality of Waldsen," Blair corrected smiling over at Serena. "I'm going to depend on your love and support to develop my iron fist before I can drop it on the unsuspecting masses. As co-dictatrix your name should be immortalized too."

"Is that even a real word?" Serena asked laughing.

"Waldsen? No of course not. I made it up. Like Brangelina … only younger and sexier," Blair responded. "Yeah, I said it," she added a second later looking across the table as if daring their companions to contradict her.

"Not that," Serena said smirking. "I meant dictatrix."

Blair nodded. "I looked it up."

Serena laughed more. "I find that totally unsurprising. I knew there was something to my theory about …"

"Uh, I feel like this is about to turn into a conversation that you two should have in private," Dan interjected holding up his hands though he was smiling.

Blair turned to look at Serena sharply. "You didn't tell him about that, did you?"

"Is there something to tell him about?" Serena asked arching a pale eyebrow. "I thought I was joking, but when you start throwing around terms like 'iron fist' and 'dictatrix' a girl starts to wonder."

"You're Jennifer North," Blair muttered slumping back against the booth before reaching for her hot chocolate again.

"I saw that one coming," Serena admitted looking across the table and nodding. "Luckily rehab is going quite well for me and I've already landed a sugar momma so I won't have to show my breasts in French films and the rich gentleman callers will just have to squire elsewhere," she continued smirking before she paused, an alarmed look coming to her face. "You love me for more than by breasts, right?" Serena asked struggling to control the urge to smile as she looked at Blair seriously.

"Of course," Blair responded without missing a beat. "The hips and nips are great, but you've got a fabulous ass too. Your legs are also pretty awesome," she added almost as if it was an afterthought.

"You see, what I love most about Blair is that she respects me as a person," Serena replied causing Dan and Vanessa to laugh as Blair nodded acknowledging the truth of the statement before taking a sip of her hot chocolate.

"Oh my god," Serena declared a second later, a large smile coming to her face as she looked at Blair.

"What?" Blair asked frowning causing Serena to laugh louder. "What?" Blair asked again reaching out and swatting the blonde on the arm lightly.

"You've got a little …" Serena began her eyes crinkling with mirth. Blair had a spot of foam from the hot chocolate on the tip of her nose, and it was probably the cutest thing that Serena had ever seen.

Without thinking, Serena leaned forward and licked the foam off of the tip of Blair's nose before kissing the spot where the foam had been. Pulling back slightly, Serena smiled widely as she looked into Blair's eyes, the brunette smiling back at her as they gazed at each other.

Dan cleared his throat loudly.

Still smiling, Blair looked down at the table top and reached for her hot chocolate, taking a careful sip to mask her avoidance of their eyes, while Serena looked across the table and blushed.

"Sorry," she said shrugging.

"Don't be, that was hot," Vanessa said smiling over at the blonde. "I'm going to have to stop mocking XY's for being so into it," she continued though she suspected the sexiness of what she had just witnessed came more from the fact that Blair and Serena had been so into each other at that moment that the rest of the world ceased to exist for them, then from the fact they were both girls. There was something powerfully sexy about someone looking at you like you were the only thing in the world that mattered to them.

"Oh god," Dan groaned dropping his head into his hands comically, shaking his head from side to side. "Not again," he moaned looking up to glare at Serena though a smile was playing on his lips.

Vanessa laughed and then turned her full attention to Dan, reaching out to touch his cheek, gently urging him to turn and face her. She then leaned in and very slowly, very deliberately showed him that he had nothing to worry about when it came to her affections.


Part Sixteen

Van der Woodsen Penthouse … a month later

Blair shut the magazine she had been reading and quickly hopped off of the kitchen counter as she spotted Lily in the doorway of the kitchen.

"What are you doing?" Lily asked curiously.

"Watching the stove," Blair responded standing with her back straight, as if good posture would relieve the tension that had been between herself and Lily since Lily's 'Yale for-never!' declaration.

"Why?" Lily asked sounding a little bemused. Things with Serena had been strained as of late and Blair had been walking on eggshells around her as well. The whole situation was starting to get on her nerves but she knew that she couldn't leave it up to the children to change things so she decided to make the first move.

"Apparently, if no one watches the stove a fire could start and the whole building not to mention the structures surrounding it could go up in a fiery inferno and it would all be my fault, and I wouldn't want that on my conscience now would I," Blair responded smiling a little parroting back Serena's words.

"And where is the Fire Marshall?" Lily asked looking around as if she expected to see Serena pop out from behind the fridge or something. If one of them was around the other one usually wasn't very far away.

"She went to the store to get frosting," Blair replied. "We're baking cookies," she said making a sweeping gesture with her hand towards the stove.

Lily arched an eyebrow at Blair and the brunette smiled.

"Apparently Eric insinuated that baking was beyond Serena's ability, so predictably she decided to prove him wrong. How I got roped into the situation remains a mystery even to me so don't ask," Blair responded shaking her head before looking at the dirty mixing bowl and making a face.

Lily made her way towards the stove after Blair finished with her explanation and opened the door peering inside for a moment before she closed it once more.

"You've done quite well," Lily said nodding appreciatively. "But if Serena really wanted to show Eric she should have made the frosting from scratch."

"Made frosting," Blair said slowly as if the idea of 'making' frosting confused her on a deep and fundamental level.

"I assure you, it is possible," Lily said with a smile.

Blair simply continued to look dubious.

"I'll show you," Lily said. "Is there another one of those things around here?" she asked a second later gesturing to Blair's apron.

"Uh … yeah," Blair responded still staring at Lily strangely. "Serena was wearing this one," she continued a moment later moving over to the island and picking up the apron Serena had discarded about five minutes before Lily had come in. "Here."

"Okay," Lily began opening up a few cabinets. "Just hand the items to me as I call them out."

"Seriously," Blair asked though she moved over to where Lily as standing to assist, "you can bake?"

Lily nodded, smiling a little. "I spent a lot of time in the kitchen growing up. It was pretty much the only place in the house I could find an adult when I was little, even if it was the maid. I suppose I just picked up a few things," she said looking over at Blair.

Blair nodded slowly. "I did too," she said holding Lily's gaze for a few seconds before dropping it again. "I can chop vegetables really well, but I still couldn't make anything on my own."

"Well, it's time to change that," Lily responded smiling encouragingly. "In an hour you'll know how to make frosting," she continued, "and if you show an aptitude for it, we might be able to move on to solid foods."

Blair smiled and clapped her hands together ready to assist.

"I can feel your eyes on me," Lily said softly a few minutes later as she dropped an addition tablespoon of milk into the stainless steel mixing bowl in her hands. "What is it?"

Blair was silent for a moment. Normally she didn't hesitate to say whatever popped into her mind, but this was important to her, which apparently made her indecisive.

"I love her," Blair said finally taking a deep breath as she looked over at Lily whose eyes lifted from the mixing bowl even though she didn't stop mixing. "I don't expect that my saying that will change your mind about anything but I wanted you to hear it from me," Blair pressed on. "I love your daughter … more than anything in the world. I feel pity for anyone who would even think of hurting her because they'd have me to deal with, and I promise you it wouldn't be pretty. I just wanted you to know that."

Lily looked back down into the mixing bowl, silent for a few moments after Blair finished speaking.

"You've always taken excellent care of Serena," Lily began a few minutes later, her hands finally stopping as she placed the bowl down.

Blair nodded and Lily smiled before shaking her head and continuing.

"Sometimes adults think too much," Lily began once more.

Blair was silent as Lily spoke, watching her curiously. She wasn't sure were the older woman was going with her line of thought but she desperately wanted to know.

"I haven't always been the best mother, but I love my children, I worry about them. I want the best for them. I want to protect them," Lily continued softly though her voice was thick with passion. "We want to save you all from the pain and the troubles we went through," Lily went on sighing. "It can colour our judgment sometimes," Lily said, her eyes drifting off to the side.

It wasn't love that hurt her in the past it was herself and her bad decisions that did it. She had been in love when she was barely older than Serena and Blair were. She had fallen in true love. And she had given it up for money, and power, and reputation. If she had trusted her heart and stayed with Rufus … well, she couldn't entertain that thought. The path she had chosen had given her Serena and Eric and so it was unthinkable for her to imagine her life turning out any other way. But it was enough to make her think that maybe Serena and Blair did know, and they were just stronger than her to follow their hearts despite the fact that it was difficult.

The more she saw them together the more she wondered if she was an obstacle to her daughter's happiness instead of a safeguard against pain.

"Does that mean…?" Blair asked letting the question trail off hopefully.

"It means I'll give her the opportunity to convince me," Lily responded looking over at Blair, struggling to keep her expression neutral in the face of the brunette's grin and only partially succeeding.

"Okay," Blair said slowly, clearly pleased as she opened the oven door when it began to beep at them. "We can live with that."

She knew for a fact that Serena could be very convincing.

Things were looking up.

Serena stood in the doorway of the kitchen blinking, her mouth slightly agape.

"Serena," Lily said sharply.

Serena automatically closed her mouth though she continued to stare in fascination and confusion, blinking rapidly as she stared at the strange and endearingly domestic scene in the kitchen.

"I hope the last of the horsemen doesn't come until after we finish the cookies," Serena finally managed to choke out. "Those look good."

"I made frosting," Blair said crossing her arms and smiling smugly as Serena walked into the kitchen.

Serena looked at her mother. Lily looked at Blair.

"Okay, fine, I assisted in the making of the frosting," Blair amended. "But I was integral."

Serena looked at her mother. Lily nodded. Blair looked pleased. Serena smiled.

"Well, what am I suppose to do with this now?" Serena asked holding up the frosting she had bought and pushing it in the direction of the people who had made it obsolete.

"We could bake more cookies," Blair suggested helpfully.

"Yeah alright," Serena responded since she didn't have a better idea.

"We're out of mix though," Blair said looking at Serena.

"Can't you whip some up out of dryer lint and sodium crackers?" Serena asked smirking as she turned to look at her mother.

"Sorry," Lily responded not sounding sorry at all. "I have an appointment to get ready for. Good luck," she continued heading out of the kitchen.

"Well, if we're out of mix I guess we can't make more cookies," Serena sighed leaning against the counter next to Blair.

Blair stared at her.

"No," Serena said shaking her head seeing where this was going. "I just got back," she continued, something that sounded suspiciously like a whine showing through in her tone.

Blair leaned up on her tiptoes and kissed Serena's cheek.

"It's cold outside," Serena complained.

Blair pushed off of the counter and moved to stand in front of Serena, pushing up onto her tiptoes so that she could kiss the blonde on the mouth, bracing her hands on the counter by Serena's hips a few seconds later as deepened the kiss, pressing her body against Serena's.

"When I get back you better be planning on kissing a whole lot more of me," Serena groaned though there was a smile on her face.

Blair smiled. "S is for Serena, the every chance I can get it snack," she drawled biting on her bottom lip before reaching up to kiss Serena again. "I promise that no part of your body shall go un-kissed."

"Then I bravely set forth into nature once more," Serena said, wrapping her jacket around her body gallantly.

"I don't know if Manhattan actually counts as nature," Blair said following Serena out of the kitchen towards the front door.

"I know, it's far more dangerous," Serena responded smiling. "Wish me luck."

"Godspeed brave warrior," Blair intoned gravely saluting the blonde.

"I said, wish me good luck," Serena responded emphasizing the last four words as she shook her head at Blair.

Blair smiled and stepped into Serena's body, kissing her again, laughing as Serena wrapped her arms around her and pulled her into her body trying to drag her towards the door as they kissed.

"Stop molesting me and go," Blair said laughing as she pulled back from Serena and smacked her lightly on the ass. "You've got your orders soldier, now march!"

Serena grinned and saluted then made an about face so that she was facing the door, but she didn't go through it.

"What are you doing?" Blair asked her voice part curious and part cautious since she was uncertain what Serena was thinking.

"Oh, I was waiting for you to hit me on the ass again," Serena replied looking over her shoulder grinning at Blair. "I kind of liked that."

"And I'm the one with the fetish?" Blair asked arching an eyebrow playfully before smiling mischievously, her hand coming down on Serena's ass again a second later.

"That didn't really help your argument," Serena muttered scowling at Blair, her hand automatically moving to her behind to massage the tender flesh. The brunette had slapped her much harder that time and it was definitely on purpose. "Kiss it better?" the blonde inquired her lips curling as she stared at Blair.

Blair smirked. "That was the deal, wasn't it?"

Serena was silent for a moment and then smiled naughtily. "I'll see you soon," she said turning to the door and reaching for the knob.

"A whole lot of me if you play your cards right," Blair murmured as the blonde stepped through the doorway.

"You're evil," Serena groaned stopping in the hallway to look back at Blair.

"Deliciously so," Blair agreed smirking. "Oh, and pick up sprinkles. I'm pretty sure not even Lillian Poppins could make that from scratch."


Part Sixteen point Five

The van der Woodsen Penthouse …

Serena's bit down on her bottom lip as her eyes crinkled, her gaze focused on Blair who was consuming one of the cookies they had baked – all on their own – with an extravagance that was positively indecent.

"I feel like I should leave you two alone," Serena murmured, her eyes hooding slightly as Blair inclined her head towards her, the brunette's perfect pink tongue licking delicately and quite attractively at her lips as she did.

"Aw, baby," Blair cooed shifting on the couch so that she was leaning over Serena's body, a playful and sensuous smile playing across her lips as she did. "You're not jealous of a baked good, are you?"

"Yes, yes I am," Serena responded pouting slightly though her eyes were alight. "As I recall you promised that I would have your lips all over my body and the only thing your lips have been on since I got back is those cookies."

"They're very good cookies," Blair said softly in response, "but a promise is a promise," she went on a second later bending down to press her lips against Serena's softly, her tongue flicking against the blonde's lips playfully for a moment before she deepened the kiss.

Serena sighed into Blair's mouth as she felt the brunette's hand move to cup her neck, Blair's body settling more fully on top of Serena's as they kissed.

Blair smiled grasping Serena's bottom lip lightly between her teeth as she allowed her hand to slip underneath the material of the stripped black and gray v-neck sweater Serena was wearing, her fingers splaying out across the warm flesh of Serena's abdomen, caressing the smooth, taut flesh as she kissed her way down Serena's neck.

"When does Eric get back?" Blair asked her tongue running over the warm skin of Serena's neck while her hands moved higher under the blonde's sweater, the backs of her fingers brushing teasingly against the cups of the blonde's bra.

"Not until eleven … or later," Serena responded breathily, her chest arching up encouraging Blair's hands to move even higher.

"And Lily?" Blair asked. She'd said her goodbyes to the elder van der Woodsen after Serena had gone back out to pick up more supplies but she had neglected to get a detailed schedule from the older woman.

"One, two … maybe later," Serena responded, her own hands moving from Blair's hips to run over the brunette's ass, cupping the firm mounds in her hands and squeezing.

"Why?" she asked as Blair's eyes fluttered closed and she pushed back slightly driving her ass back into Serena's hands and wiggling.

"There's a fire going," Blair responded a second later, her voice hitching a little as Serena's hand dipped under the dark material of her leggings and her panties leaving the blonde's lithe, talented fingers massaging her bare flesh. "And that rug Lily bought looks very cozy," Blair continued her eyes fluttering closed as Serena dragged her nails over her ass cheeks.

"How Harlequin of you," Serena replied smiling, the idea of making love to Blair on her mother's new rug in front of the fire appealing to her greatly.

"There's a reason they're popular," Blair responded glaring down at the blonde for a moment before smiling, her hand moving behind her to tug at Serena's wrist. "You're distracting me," she admonished lightly.

"Really, cause it seems more like I'm getting you fucking hot," Serena responded although she allowed her hands to be removed from Blair's leggings.

"Down girl," Blair smirked, leaning down and nipping at the tip of Serena's nose lightly. "I'm on top tonight."

"Yes you are," Serena agreed running her hands over the thighs that were straddling, her hands moving right back to Blair's ass, a large smile working its way across her face as Blair helplessly moved into the touch once more.

"You're fucking evil," Blair moaned pushing up and lifting herself out of Serena's hands. Serena knew that having her ass played with always got her wet ridiculously quickly, but she wasn't going to let Serena turn her into a pile of moaning, undulating, sweating flesh until she had made Serena come.

"On the floor," Blair continued moving off of Serena completely to stand by the side of couch. "Naked," she added with a smile.

Serena's eyes squeezed shut as Blair's tongue swirled over her nipple again, a small sound coming out of her throat as Blair then took the hard peak into her mouth and sucked on it greedily as the brunette's fingers squeezed and tugged at Serena's other nipple.

Serena took a shuddering breath, her eyes opening slowly and focusing on the brightly wrapped boxes under the Christmas tree about five meters away from where Blair was debauching her.

The sight of the presents made her shiver and arch into Blair touch. It was so wrong. Doing what they were doing where they were doing it was dirty and wrong and bad, and the thought of it made her drip.

Blair allowed Serena's nipple to slip from her lips with a wet pop, her hands moving automatically to cover the breasts she had just moved her mouth away from as she stared down at Serena thoughtful before softly murmuring, "Get up onto your knees and turn around."

Blair then shifted to the side so that Serena was free to move and waited until the blonde took the position she had requested before moving so that she was kneeling directly behind the blonde, both of them facing the Christmas tree.

Blair's hand then moved around Serena's body until her palm rested on the blonde's stomach, pushing Serena back against her lightly as her lips kissed their way across Serena's shoulder and over to her neck.

"What are you …" Serena began to ask, shifting slightly in Blair's embrace, her body aching for more contact. Blair had been toying with her for a while before requesting the change in position and feeling the brunette's breasts and hard nipples pressed against her back and the warmth of Blair's body against the length of her was driving her crazy. She didn't think she could take being played with for much longer.

"Sssh," Blair said softly pressing a kiss to Serena's cheek, her free moving around the blonde's body to play at the top of her thighs for a moment before it dipped down between Serena's legs. "Mm, a bit wider baby," Blair said as her fingers brushed through the dampness between Serena's legs.

Serena moaned and spread her legs as far apart as she could and still maintain her balance.

"I'm gonna fuck you now," Blair said softly, her lips against Serena's ear as she plunged two fingers inside of the blonde. "Keep your eyes open," Blair continued as she felt Serena shiver and heard her gasp.

"Look at the tree," Blair commanded the hand that wasn't between Serena's legs moving up the blonde's torso until it was cupping one of her breasts, her fingers massaging the blonde's soft mounds once more.

"I'm going to finger you in your living room on your mother's new rug," Blair whispered, slipping another finger inside of Serena, the pace and strength of her thrusts increasing as she spoke. "I'm gonna make you come, S," Blair continued her fingers closing around Serena's nipple and tugging, causing Serena to cry out in pleasure before whimpering in the most delightful way.

"And while I do, I want you to look at that tree," Blair went on, her hips jerking against Serena's ass as her fingers continued to move inside of the blonde. "And next week," Blair continued softly, moaning before leaning forward to lick and nip at any part of Serena that was available to her, "when you're opening your presents," the brunette said finally forcing herself to continue, "drinking eggnog and eating cookies," she continued breathlessly as Serena hips jerked forward to meet her fingers. "I want you to remember this. I want you to remember my fingers inside of you, my mouth on your tits and my voice in your ear … and I want you to know that no matter where I am or what I'm doing that I would rather be here with you … making you come."

Serena's lips parted a soft almost surprised exclamation escaping from her as her hand darted out and wrapped around Blair's wrist, holding the brunette's hand in place as her hips drove down onto Blair's hand, impaling herself on the brunette's slender fingers again and again as Blair buried herself in her neck, kissing her gently as her orgasm tore through her body.

Half and hour later …

"Jesus, stop," Blair gasped, her hand moving down to tangle in Serena's hair, urging the blonde to move from between her legs. "Lips up here," she continued breathlessly, still struggling to take in air as Serena crawled up her body and tenderly pressed her lips against her own.

"Should I also remember going down on you until you almost passed out on Christmas Day?" Serena asked cheekily as Blair's thumb brushed across her lips, a smile tugging at her lips where Blair's eyes narrowed at her.

"I didn't almost pass out," Blair said in her most serious tone of voice.

"In that case," Serena said moving to slide down Blair's body again. "I think I've got my fourth wind so …"

"Stop," Blair said weakly reaching out to grasp Serena again, her chest still rising and falling rapidly. "Fine, you win … you've utterly and completely exhausted me. Happy?"

"Very much so," Serena responded in a tone that clearly conveyed her happiness before moving to settle down next to Blair on the rug that had proved itself to be very cozy indeed.

"Yes," Blair said, her breathing finally starting to approach regular levels again.

"Yes, what?" Serena asked dreamily staring up at the ceiling as Blair turned towards her body, throwing her arm over her torso and snuggling against her side.

"Yes, I want you to remember this on Christmas Day," Blair replied rolling her eyes as she kissed Serena's shoulder affectionately. They had only been talking about it like five seconds before so of course Serena's mind had already wandered.

Serena smiled widely and turned to capture Blair's lips in a lingering kiss before simply hugging the brunette to her body.

"That's gonna be one sexy Christmas day."


Part Seventeen

The van der Woodsen Penthouse … three days later

Serena watched with a touch of concern as Blair and Eric stared at each other over the popcorn bowl, both of their hands poised to strike as they held each others gaze. This territorial battle over the buttery bowl of goodness had been going on for the better part of twenty minutes and Serena wasn't sure how much longer it could continue before blood was shed.

"I think we need more popcorn," Serena declared into the living room in general before she looked down at her lap and tapped Blair's legs.

The brunette was laying her legs thrown over Serena's lap and the blonde wouldn't be able to move unless Blair removed her legs or she dislodged them for the brunette which was not an option if she wanted to sex with Blair anytime in the next week.

Blair's hand simply crept closer to the bowl, her eyes never leaving Eric's.

Serena sighed and turned her head to the side just in time to see her mother attempt to smother a grin.

"It's not funny," Serena mouthed to Lily. "She's not even listening to me," she continued pointing at Blair before sighing again.

This only made Lily chuckle in earnest before the older blonde turned to look at the woman beside her to find Eleanor smirking slightly even as the brunette rolled her eyes.

"I'll make the popcorn," Jenny declared earning a grateful look from Serena who had been tilting her head from side to side trying to see if there was a way to extract herself from under Blair without jostling or otherwise disturbing the brunette.

"You have my undying gratitude," Serena responded smiling over at Jenny.

The younger blonde had been over enough that she knew where everything in the kitchen was, so after smiling her thanks to Jenny, Serena turned to look at the television set.

It was almost time for Rolf and Liesl to start singing about being sixteen going seventeen. It was Blair's favorite song in the movie, and Serena turned to watch her girlfriend to see what Blair was going to do now that her contest for dominance with Eric was threatened by a catchy song and dance number.

"Was that Jenny?" Blair asked suddenly a touch of concern in her voice as she turned her head to the side breaking eye contact with Eric.

"What?" Eric asked looking as well already starting to move. He hadn't heard anything, but he couldn't see Jenny anywhere.

"Nothing … it must have been my imagination. So sorry," Blair said a moment later.

When Eric looked back over towards her it was to see Blair resting comfortably against the pillows of the couch once again, her legs resting over Serena's as she cradled the popcorn bowl in her lap.

"Cheater!" Eric declared pointing his finger at Blair.

"Blond…ish boy," Blair responded without a care as she brought some popcorn to her mouth.

"What?" Eric asked peevishly.

"Oh, I'm sorry," Blair responded. For someone who was rarely sorry she used the phrase a lot. "I thought we were stating the obvious."

"Serena!" Eric complained wanting his sister to do something about her girlfriend's dirty tactics.

"Whaaa," Serena muttered turning her head in Eric's direction, her words muddled as her mouth was full of popcorn and still lightly wrapped around the tips of Blair's fingers as she accepted the popcorn Blair was holding out for her.

Eric turned his head away from her and leaned back against the couch, his attention focused on the screen in a full snit.

"Ah ut ay outh is ull of opcorn," Serena murmured chewing as quickly as she could, still looking at her brother who refused to look at her.

"Serena, please," Lily said frowning her daughter's uncouth display, her face curled in distaste. "This is a civilized household."

"Ah ut," Serena tried to say again.

Lily glared at her.

Serena settled back against the couch and sighed.

The popcorn was really tasty at least.

A few moments later Jenny entered with another popcorn bowl and took her seat next to Eric, handing him the bowl with a smile. Eric grinned back at her, and blushing before he had even moved then leaned over to kiss her on the cheek.

"Ready?" Blair asked wiggling her legs excitedly in Serena's lap.

"Are they going to ...?" Lily asked trailing off.

"They are," Eleanor confirmed. "I haven't heard this song without Blair accompanying it in twelve years."


You wait, little girl, on an empty stage
For fate to turn the light on
Your life, little girl, is an empty page
That men will want to write on


To write on


You are sixteen going on seventeen
Baby, it's time to think
Better beware, be canny and careful
Baby, you're on the brink

You are sixteen going on seventeen
Fellows will fall in line
Eager young lads and rogues and cads
Will offer you food and wine

Serena stopped singing at that point and shook her finger at Blair.

"And what are you going to do?" the blonde asked softly smiling at the brunette.

"Order the most expensive thing on the menu and then not put out," Blair responded grinning, "because I'm spoken for."

"That's my girl," Serena replied grinning back at Blair, really wanting to kiss her, but aware of the fact that everyone in the room was now looking at her and that she really wasn't that much of an exhibitionist when she knew other people were watching.


I am sixteen going on seventeen
I know that I'm naive
Fellows I meet may tell me I'm sweet
And willingly I believe

I am sixteen going on seventeen
Innocent as a rose
Bachelor dandies, drinkers of brandies
What do I know of those

Blair sang laughing as she did. And so they went on in time with the movie for the rest of the song, Serena picking up Blair's hand and holding it in the air as Rolf helped Liesl around the greenhouse.

"Why do I always have to be the Nazi?" Serena grumbled after the number was over though she was rubbing Blair's calf lightly as she spoke.

" … asked the blonde, blue-eyed girl named van der Woodsen," Blair responded rolling her eyes.

"van der Woodsen is a Dutch name," Serena muttered under her breath. "Dutch," she repeated for emphasis.

Blair smiled widely at that and was about to respond when cell phone began to ring. Picking it up from the side of the couch, Blair took a look at the caller display and then lifted her legs from off of Serena's and stood up heading towards the hallway that led to Serena's bedroom to the take the call.

"Hey," Blair said into the receiver as she dropped down onto Serena's bed and snuggled into the comforter.

"Hey," Nate said back. He sounded bashful even over the phone and Blair could imagine the expression on his face. "Is it alright that I'm calling?" Nate asked a little uncertainly.

He and Blair hadn't really talked much in the past couple of months, and the last significant conversation that they had had ended with her threatening him, so he was a little uncertain about whether she actually meant it about them still being friends or not.

"Yeah, of course," Blair said in response, his hesitance touching her a little bit. "We're still friends," she said. "I know it's been weird lately, but … I'm totally down with attempting to make it less weird."

Nate laughed softly on the other side of the line.

"I just …" Nate began a few seconds later. "I really needed to talk to you," he continued. "I always felt better about things after talking to you," he went on, "and things are pretty bad at home right now … and I kind of don't know what to do," he said, his voice cracking a little bit. "I mean, I probably can't really do anything, it's just that it's killing me keeping it all inside and I kind of feel like I'm going to do something stupid just to stop thinking about it for a while or something."

"What's happening?" Blair asked softly. "Is it the Captain or your mom?"

"It's hard to choose," Nate responded sighing darkly. "I mean, the Captain is totally in denial about like everything that is going on, and my mom …"

Blair listened as Nate unloaded about the situation at home, offering comments when she could, but mostly just letting him get it off of his chest. Nate had a habit of bottling things up inside so that when he ran out of room to cram his emotions they came pouring out in long, intense talks. He was right about not really being able to do much, the situation had grown beyond his control, but she could offer him support and try to give advice on how to deal with parents and their moods, though she wasn't an expert on parental relationships (though things had been going better with Eleanor).

Blair smiled as Serena showed up in the doorway to her room and began to move over towards the bed.

"Who is it?" Serena mouth lying down next to Blair being careful to remain quiet.

"Nate," Blair mouthed back.

Serena's eyebrows rose in surprise but she nodded and rested her head on Blair's shoulder.

"You should leave, get out for a while," Blair said in a regular tone into the receiver in response to whatever it was that Nate had been saying.

Blair looked down at Serena and lifted a questioning eyebrow.

Serena nodded.

"Why don't you come over?" Blair suggested a second later. "No, to Serena's," she went on responding to something Nate had said on the other side. "Oh, everyone who's anyone is here. My mother, Lily, Eric, Little J, someone's liable to call the popo any minute now," Blair went on smirking a little. "We're just finishing up The Sound of Music, but A Charlie Brown Christmas is on next," Blair went on laughing lightly as Serena kissed her neck and wrapped her arms around her waist. "I know it's your favorite," Blair said. "Yeah, okay. See you soon."

"So Nate's coming over," Serena commented when Blair had hung up, nuzzling her face into the brunette's neck. "Fun," she went on in a voice that left no doubt she meant the opposite of.

"It's sucking hardcore for him at home right now and 'tis the season, right?" Blair responded kissing the top of Serena's head. "It's in the past," Blair said seriously a few seconds later.

"I know, but," Serena began sighing deeply.

"It's in the past," Blair repeated cutting off whatever else Serena was going to say. "I love you. I trust you. And I've forgiven you," Blair said shifting a little so that she and Serena were eye to eye. "You're absolved," she said softly, and then leaned forward and pressed her lips against Serena's.

Serena nodded slowly when Blair pulled back from her lips, and then hugged the blonde into her body, softly saying "Okay," as she did.

"If we don't go back out there soon, they're going to think we're having sex in here," Blair said a few minutes later when Serena released the hold she had on her.

Serena laughed. "Even if we go back out there now, they'll probably think we had a quickie. So, we could as well," Serena continued, her fingers sliding under the bottom of Blair's shirt.

Blair knocked her hand away and threw her legs over the bed.

"Come on," she said to Serena once she was standing. "You can defile me in the early hours of the morning when everyone is asleep and unlikely to walk in on us because the egg nog is ready."

"Does he know the whole thing?" Serena asked softly, leaning into Blair as Nate tucked into another handful of popcorn, his eyes trained on the television screen.

Blair nodded. "He watches it obsessively. When we were twelve he made me watch it six times that Christmas, and I think that was just the tip of the iceberg in terms of how much he watched it. Charlie Brown is like his soul-mate or something."

"Blair," Serena admonished laughing.

"No, I'm serious. He really likes Charlie Brown. He relates to him in some way I've never understood," Blair whispered back shrugging in confusion.

"…Charlie Brown, you're the only person I know that can take a season like Christmas and turn it into a problem," Nate recited in time with the screen. "Maybe Lucy's right. Of all the Charlie Browns in the world, you're the Charlie Browniest," he went on smiling at the last two words and shaking his head.

"You're a good friend," Serena commented a few moments later, watching Nate out of the corner of her eye.

He had been the most pathetic sight she had ever seen when he showed up at her door, but he had cheered up immeasurably since arriving. Blair was right it was good for him to get away from his house for a while and get to relax in a way that didn't involve getting drunk or stoned with Chuck and tucking dollar bills into g-strings.

"Anyone for more nog?" Serena asked standing up. She hated egg nog, but her mother insisted on making it herself every year and even as a kid she knew to accept the gesture for the motherly display of love that it was.

Jenny nodded and Nate's hand shot up in the air as he continued to eat popcorn with the other one.

"I'll help," Eric said standing up when Serena did. Serena looked at him curiously, but nodded.

"So," Eric said as they began to move around the kitchen, him towards the fridge and Serena removing a couple more glasses. "Awkward?" he asked.

"Yeah," Serena said looking over her shoulder at him. Eric actually didn't have a clue how awkward since he didn't know about her indiscretion with Nate, which she hoped he would never find out about.

"Are you mad at Blair for inviting him?" Eric asked glad that Jenny hadn't had a boyfriend before him.

"No," Serena said shaking her head as Eric poured the liquid into the glasses. "In fact, I kind of love her more for it," she went on looking over at him and smiling. "Blair's not the type to abandon people. Once she's claimed you as her own it's like having a jungle panther in your corner or something. Nothing or no one can mess with you without Blair's claws coming out. It's really sweet in a way," Serena concluded softly.

Eric was silent for a moment and then whistled. "You are so in love."

Serena grinned back at him. "Yeah," she acknowledged. "It's awesome."


Part Eighteen (Epilogue)

New Years Eve … The Palace

Serena turned her head to the side as she felt soft fingers brush against her own.

"Hey," she said smiling as Blair's lovely features came into view. "I was wondering where you ran off to," she continued taking Blair's hand more firmly in her own. "Where did you run off to?" she asked a second later, noticing that Blair's cheeks were rosy and her that her hand was a little cold.

"Come on," Blair said tugging at Serena's hand, a sensual smile playing across her lips. "I'll show you."

Serena bit down on her bottom lip, chewing at the soft flesh lightly before she turned her head to side to observe the crowd around them. It was 11:30 pm and everyone was more than a few drinks in. The noise in the room was almost deafening, and no one was paying attention to her or Blair.

It would be easy to slip out and they could probably get back before their absence was even noticed.

"Lead on," Serena murmured smiling broadly, knowing that whatever Blair had planned to ring in the New Year it was going to be sexy.

Serena laughed as Blair stopped walking, a playful, amused sound that rang in the air around them as Serena wrapped her arms around Blair's waist and kissed her cheek softly.

"Seriously?" Serena asked her eyes staring in front of her.

Blair huffed. "Well, if you'd rather go back to the party," she began.

Serena kissed her cheek again. "I don't want to go back to the party," she said soothingly, running her hands up and down Blair's arms. "This is great," she continued meaning it completely as she kissed Blair's neck.

Blair smiled despite herself, Serena's soft, arousing touches relaxing her.

"How long do we have?" Serena asked moving with Blair as the brunette took a step forward.

"However long it takes him to make it through a hundred dollar bill at the hotel lounge," Blair responded smirking as opened the door to the backseat of the limo and pulled a laughing Serena down with her onto the plush leather seat with her.

Forty minutes later …

"Your dress is really, really billowy," Serena muttered softly, almost sleepily, her hand still nestled in the warmth between Blair's legs as she burrowed into the brunette's neck contentedly.

"I wasn't exactly planning on sex in the backseat of a car when I got dressed tonight," Blair responded smiling, pushing on Serena's shoulder lightly as the blonde's nose nudged at a ticklish spot on her neck.

"I think we should plan on that every time we get dressed from now on," Serena whispered playfully, lifting her head to kiss the underside of Blair's jaw. "This was nice."

Blair laughed softly at that, reaching around her billowy dress to remove Serena's hand which had started to stroke her again lightly.

As much as she would have liked to stay ensconced with Serena in the backseat of the limo she knew they had to get out of there fairly soon if they didn't want to get caught. Chuck, Nate, Isabel and Kati had come with them in the limo to the party and she knew that they would want to escape from their parents as soon after midnight as possible, which meant that she and Serena had maybe half an hour to pull themselves together and get back upstairs.

"It was cramped and rushed and I nearly fell off of the seat twice," Blair responded softly, bringing Serena's hand up to her face, kissing the tips of the fingers that had brought her to orgasm a few minutes before.

"It was still nice," Serena mumbled, her lips parting a bit when Blair sucked one of her fingers into her mouth.

Serena shifted.

"No," Blair said shaking her head, knowing that she shouldn't have teased Serena a moment before when they couldn't continue with what they had been doing. "We have to go back upstairs," she continued in a softer tone, looking at the blonde apologetically.

"We have time," Serena said ducking her head forward to kiss Blair's lips. "It's not even twelve yet," she continued.

Blair stilled against Serena's lips. "Are you serious?" Blair asked a second later pulling back to look at the blonde.

"About?" Serena asked having lost the thread of the conversation already, all of her attention focused on getting her hand back under Blair's dress.

"Serena, it's 12:10," Blair said, a wide smile spreading across her face as Serena looked at her blinking in confusion, lifting her wrist a moment later to check her watch.

"I didn't hear …" Serena began staring at her watch as if it was the lynchpin in some vast conspiracy against her.

Blair laughed. "I know you didn't," she said teasingly taking Serena's hand and intertwining their fingers. "You were too busy moaning my name," she continued smugly.

Serena eyes widened and then she smiled. "Oh," she murmured softly.

"Happy New Year," Blair said smiling back at Serena, leaning forward to kiss her softly.

"Happy New Year," Serena murmured back against Blair's lips, hugging the brunette to her tightly.

"You know what they say about who you're with at midnight on New Year's Eve, right?" Blair said softly kissing Serena's cheek. They still had a little time and she couldn't seem to tear herself away from the blonde just yet.

"That's who you're going to be with for that year," Serena responded, rubbing Blair's arm gently. "Is this going to be our new tradition?" Serena asked a moment later smiling brightly.

"I think next year we should try for a bed," Blair responded smirking. "And less billowy clothing," she said fighting with her dress as she tried to press herself closer to Serena.

"It's alright," Serena said happily. "We have lots of time to perfect this tradition."

"A lifetime?" Blair asked smiling widely.

"More," Serena replied grinning. "Not even death is going keep me away from you."

"Will our sexy spirits haunt Bergdorf Goodman whispering fashion advice to customers and having hot ghost sex in the change rooms?" Blair asked laughing.

Serena nodded solemnly, managing to hold the expression a whole three seconds before she smiled.

"We should go," Blair sighed reluctantly pulling back from Serena.

The blonde nodded.

"Hey," Serena said as Blair turned to look at the floor of the limo scanning it for her underwear. "I love you."

Blair looked over at her, her hand moving to stroke Serena's cheek. "I love you too," she said softly, leaning forward to kiss the blonde's lips. "Now help me find my underwear."

Serena grinned and peered over the seat gamely.

They were really going to have to start keeping better track of things like that.

The End

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