Title: Oh, Take Me Back to the Start
Fandom: Gossip Girl
Characters: Serena van der Woodsen, Blair Waldorf
Prompt: Let it go, and just enjoy the show
Timeline/Spoilers: All seasons. Set in the past, present, and future.
Word Count: 3042
Summary: It takes some time, but Blair knew all along how they'd end up.
Author's Note: Written for leobrat. A request from many moons ago.
When Blair Waldorf thinks back on her youth, she thinks of it fondly. She pictures the uniforms and the hair-bands, remembers the scandal and social suicides. She recalls when the backs of limos were for champagne toasts, staircases were for best friends, and boys were there to either keep or break your heart.
She remembers loving Serena, Nate, and Chuck; each in their own way, each in their own time. It has been them against the world since the beginning of days ("You can tell us anything, we don't judge. We’re the non-judging breakfast club, anything you do is something we did too") and whatever trouble one of them would fall into, the other three would pull them out. No questions asked, until the end of time.
And here the four of them stand now; 45 years old and huddled together in a quant chapel off the beaten path. They're probably somewhere between the Hamptons and Montauk, Blair's not entirely sure, but she also doesn't care at this point. The sunlight shines through the stain glass windows creating the most beautiful hues on the altar in front of them and Blair feels fortunate to be a part of this exquisite moment. She and Chuck stand on either side of Serena and Nate who exchange rings and vows, as the Italian pastor speak words of love and promise.
It takes some time, but Blair knew all along it would end up like this. Finally, Nate and Serena officially complete the family that Blair's been waiting most of her life for.
It figures that like her mother, Serena van der Woodsen wouldn't get her life together until her early forties. With her twenties splashed vibrantly on every gossip page and her thirties succumbed to silence and solitude, it's not until she turns 42 that she emerges into society a golden firefly. And like moths to a flame, eligible bachelors flock towards her beauty with eyes of wonder and whispers of promises. It's an imitation of her youth and much like her youth; Blair stands right by her side.
Blair, like her mother, stays in high fashion and spends her time between Paris and Manhattan. She revels in the shiny silvers of her life, a man by her side, and a son in her arms. Her penthouse home is dazzling with every modern trim and flare, each corner painted with certainty and security. She is a grown up, a professional and successful woman in every sense of the word.
Together, Serena and Blair are the pillars of the Upper East Side, a position they've been building on since they were young girls. Their schedules are not one without the other: Thursday night fashion shows, Friday night socials, Saturday galas, and Sunday brunch. Gone were the days of feeling over shadowed and under appreciated by the other; now they stand strong as close as two sisters can ever be.
It's only right. As Blair once said, all those years ago, "what is you, is me."
Dan Humphrey is not the love Serena's life. In fact, he's not the love of either Serena or Blair's life and with that knowledge, he settles into the background blues of Brooklyn. His novels never make it back onto the bestsellers list and the entire Upper East Side sighs in relief that there will be no more "tell all" tales in the days to come.
During this final breakup, Serena shows up at Blair's door, a sullen face at the lowest point of her adulthood. Her appearance is so alarming that she looks anything but society's golden girl. She hides away in their apartment, takes up sketching, and spends her nights reciting passages of Fitzgerald to the cats. She spends mornings in Henry's playroom, mourns the babies she's lost and pretends she can wait for her future family ("I'll name her Daisy or Rosalind and she'll be the light of my life, B, my baby girl, my one true thing.") She wears her sadness in her stillness, her ache in her tears, and her desolation in her drawings.
It goes against everything she's ever known about being Serena's friend, but Blair takes her husband's advice and lets her be. No one can ever change what has already happened and what Serena has already lost, which makes it all the more difficult to find a way out of her perpetual darkness,
"I hate seeing her like this, she barely says a word at dinner," Blair whispers to her husband at night before bed. For the most part, Chuck soothes the worries and comforts her sadness. But there is always one moment, just before she closes her eyes, the moment Blair makes a wish for Serena… one that can never happen.
"Serena will find her way, she always has," Chuck whispers to her before she fades to sleep.
A month passes and finally deciding that she's given her enough space, Blair takes a week off work and tries to find a way to mend Serena's broken heart. They sit side by side in the playroom, watching Henry attend to his activities. At night, they curl up on the couch in the media room, keep away from the cats and Fitzgerald novels and watch Gregory Peck fall in love with Audrey Hepburn over and over again.
"I'm 37 and most of my life has been spent loving the wrong person," Serena finally says one morning. Blair's fingers sweep across her cheeks to brush away the silent tears. Across the room, Henry concentrates at his easel, mixing strong reds and bright blues. Serena never takes her eyes off the child, the longing clear in her crystal blues.
"That doesn't mean you were wrong for loving him or staying with him longer than you should have," Blair consoles.
"That's not what you said when I came back from L.A."
"Well, I was angrier back then, I hated Dan for taking advantage of you when you were vulnerable. And you were so hurt, even I could see it and I wasn't seeing much of anything besides my own pain."
Serena nods, smiling at Henry who catches their attention to show off his latest art masterpiece. Blair stands and takes the painting to hang by the window to dry. Serena watches their movements, noticing the ease as Blair sets up a new page for Henry to pain on. The shared smiles and Eskimo kisses between mother and son clench at her heart.
"I'm never going to be a mom," Serena says softly, "I'll never have a family."
Blair doesn't disagree and it takes another few months before Serena says goodbye to Daisy and Rosalind, and all the things she can never be.
Serena and Dan's wedding celebration is almost immediately succeeded by a bon voyage soiree when the approval for a Hollywood production of Dan's latest novel sends the newlyweds to Los Angeles. Again, they gather with family and friends, accept the reluctant well wishes and good lucks ("New York isn't the same without you, S. How will I manage with you literally across the country?"), and ride off into the sunset that is the west coast.
In the year following their departure, Cyrus succumbs to a terminal illness and passes away that winter. Stricken with grief, Eleanor runs back to Paris where Harold and Roman tend to her sadness, leaving Blair to claw her way out of her own devastated heart. With anguish fueling her words, she lashes out at everyone around her, fires Dorota and kicks Chuck out of their home. Soon, her hysteria builds to the extreme and Blair becomes inconsolable.
It takes one phone call from Nate, and Serena rushes to LAX where she knows his private plane is on standby ready to take her home. Hours later, when Serena steps off the plane and onto the tarmac, she's not surprised to see Nate waiting. He takes her in his arms, presses his lips against her sun-kissed hair, and leads her to his limo.
"How bad did it get?" Serena asks, not waiting a beat. The car pulls away from the airport and starts a steady drive to its destination.
"Bad," Nate admits. "Chuck sent Henry to Lily's for a week thinking that Blair could use the time to calm down, get her bearings, and start working through her grief. But it just got worse and she's refusing comfort from anyone."
"That explains why she never called."
"We thought a change of scenery might help, so Chuck took her to your family's house in the Hampton's. Dorota should be bringing Henry up in a day or two," Nate explains. Serena nods and moves her hair out of the way to rest her head on his shoulder. He takes her hand in his, gentle but firm as ever.
"Thank you for calling me," she says quietly, fingers picking at the loose thread on his coat sleeve. Again, she feels his lips press against the crown of her head. The rest of the trip is met with silence.
They reach the Hampton's by morning and despite her jet lag in the brisk winter air, Serena walks into the quiet house and moves past the foyer to the room at the end of the hallway. The curtains are drawn shut, letting very little light in, but Serena can still make out the furniture when her eyes adjust to the darkness. Without hesitation, she climbs into the king sized bed and gathers Blair up in her arms.
Nobody sees them for three days.
On the fourth day, Nate is stunned when he walks past Blair's bedroom to find the door wide open, curtains pushed back, and Blair sitting up in bed with Henry in her lap. Blair is wrapped up with her son, attentively listening to him prattle on about discoveries made during the week, as Serena sits in a chaise nearby. Nate pauses to take in the view, relieved to see Blair looking better than she has in weeks.
In no time, Blair moves from her room to the kitchen, from the house to the back porch. She slowly slides away from the grief and moves towards getting back to her life: she takes phone calls from work, walks the snowy pathways with Chuck, and sits at the dinner table with her family. The remnants of the despair and pain still linger in their mind ("Nothing's going to be the same now, S; he left such a hole in our lives"), but soon it's time to pack up and go home.
Nobody questions when Serena doesn't book a flight back to L.A.
Shortly after Henry is born, Waldorf Design debuts their spring line, they all turn 28 and Serena suffers a miscarriage. She works through her pain by working days and nights at The Spectator, avoiding life with Dan, and ignoring calls and messages from her family.
She winds up staying late on a Friday night, not wanting to go home and not having anywhere to be. Nate has a business call with China anyway, so she figures her presence wouldn't hurt. Out of the corner of her eye, she sees a stroller enter the office, followed by her best friend.
"Blair, what are you doing here?" Serena asks, immediately standing. She gestures for Blair to take a seat on the visitor's couch nearby and sits down across from her.
"Nate called, said you hadn't left the office yet."
Serena spares a glance at Nate's office and observes his head bent down and focused on the reports on his desk. He appears every inch the hard working man behind the company, but in this moment, Serena will not be fooled. She's known him for far too long to be deceived by his pretense; Blair's visit is intentional and one hundred percent at Nate's insistence.
"It's late, you and Henry should be in bed," Serena chides softly.
"Henry and I are fine; we're just taking in some night air. I'm more worried about you, to be honest. Shouldn't you be at home with your live-in boyfriend?" Blair asks, never missing a beat.
"I've got deadlines to work on," Serena replies, "besides, Dan left on a business trip this morning." Her tone is light, but her eyes flash a silent warning to her friend of things she doesn't want to talk about. Unfortunately, Blair doesn't bite.
"Italy with Georgina hardly counts as business. He's your boyfriend, S, almost-fiancé, really. You can hardly let him go off gallivanting with that woman."
"I really don't want to talk about this, Blair."
"Fine, then let's talk about how you haven't been over since Chuck and I brought Henry home from the hospital. I know how hurt you are, but I can't help but feel like you're mad at me for…"
"Having something that I lost?" Serena finishes for her. Blair nods and the two fall silent.
"Can I hold him?" Serena asks. Without hesitation, Blair lifts him from his stroller and gently places him in Serena's arms. "I'm not mad, Blair, I swear. And it's nearly impossible to not want to be with this little one all the time," Serena tells her. "I'll be better, I promise."
"We're going to raise our family together, S. Life just can't end up any other way," Blair says. Her tone is all knowing and Serena feels all doubt leave her heart.
Looking up from Henry, she sees that Nate has moved from his desk to lean against the door of his office. There's a look in his eye as he watches them and she can't quite decipher what it means, but offers him a smile when he comes to sit next to her. Nate peers down to look at the baby, at the way Serena's long hair curls towards Henry's tiny fists, and he's transfixed at the sight.
"My two best friends and my baby boy," Blair whispers softly.
In the back of her mind, a picture begins to form.
Blair can almost see her future exactly the way she wants it to be.
The summer after Lily marries Bart, Serena and Blair continue to reaffirm their friendship in the Hampton's at Cece's house. The option of fresh fruit, mimosas, and beaches on a daily basis sustains them well into July, until the heat becomes unbearable. They lounge in chaises on the front porch, dissect the latest gossip news from Manhattan, and avoid all topics of Dan Humphrey and Chuck Bass.
It doesn't last very long.
Serena insists that Dan has to be the love of her life, the "be all to end all". Blair isn't so sure, so she can't point fingers when her own heart yearns for someone she never imagined herself being with.
"How did this year get so fucked up?" Blair asks one evening. They've set up camp on the beach, roasting marshmallows in front of a bonfire. The sun sets in the distance and for a brief moment, there's a cool breeze coming up off the water. "I came into the school year thinking that Nate and I were going to be together forever, that I would never see you again, let alone be your friend, and that Chuck was… well, Chuck."
"Expect the unexpected," Serena replies, "I heard a teacher say that in one of my classes. It couldn't be any truer."
"Well, if that's the case, then maybe I can hope for a happily ever after for myself. Expect the unexpected? Well, Chuck is the last person I expected."
"So is Dan."
Blair glances at her best friend, watches the way the embers flicker from the flames, and refocuses her attention on her marshmallow stick.
"He's going to break my heart," Blair says softly. Serena reaches out to grasp her arm, offering a slight squeeze of comfort and support.
"He's going to break mine too."
A few months before their first year at Constance, Serena and Blair decide to indulge in their childhood activities one last time before entering young adulthood and all it may entail. They ride the carousel at Central Park, watch the sea lions feed at the zoo, and wander through the biggest toy store in Times Square. After sharing an extra large frozen hot chocolate at Serendipity's, they end up at Serena's, blasting Hilary Duff from the expensive stereo system Klaus had bought to impress the kids, and invading Lily's closet.
"When I grow up, I want to be just like my mother," Blair says, removing an elegant navy blue dress off its hanger. She carefully slides on the dress, adjusts the capped sleeves, and loops a belt around her waist to keep the dress from falling. She takes the white feathered boa from the top of a box, and moves to the jewelry stand to pick out the best pieces.
"I don't think I want to be anything like mine," Serena retorts. She flips her blonde hair from one shoulder to the other and pulls out a sequined mini skirt. She roughly shimmies into the skirt, grabs a pair of platform heels, and moves to stand beside Blair. They look at each other in the mirror and grin at the sight.
"We're going to be like this when we grow up, S. Exactly like this," Blair says, arm on her hip, as though posing for a camera. "We'll be rich and stylish, with the smartest husbands and the prettiest daughters."
"Our daughters will be best friends, of course. We can live in the same building, that way we'll just be an elevator ride apart."
"I can't wait to see where we end up," Blair smiles, all teeth and every inch the young girl she's allowing herself to be for one last day.
"Enjoy the show as it happens, B. If my mother is any indication, one day we're going to be old and wrinkly and never as happy as we are in this moment."
Blair wrinkles her nose at Serena's jaded attitude. It's in that moment she makes a promise to herself; one she would do her best to keep. It will be her mission to make sure that the two of them, through the many years to come, will make it out happy in the end.
She's positive she can make it happen.
- fic: oh, take me back to the start.