hobbits can't swim, kati. (lingeringnight) wrote in oceansbetweenus,
hobbits can't swim, kati.

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we were contenders (Chuck, Serena)

Title: we were contenders
Disclaimer: 'Gossip Girl' belongs to Cecily von Ziegesar, Josh Schwartz, and the CW. No copyright infringement intended.
Characters/Pairing: Chuck, Serena
Rating: PG
Warning(s): drug references, spoilers through 1.15
Word Count: 1028
Author's Note: tied for third place in burnthe_city's inaugural challenge, thank you so much! Title is from Brand New's "Okay, I Believe You But My Tommy Gun Don't," which is just such a Chuck song for me.
Summary: “I know what you really did last summer,” Chuck says, putting down the carafe of orange juice and taking a swig of champagne straight out of the bottle.

“I’d burn this city down just to show you the light, Serena,” Chuck drawls when they’re fourteen, and she’s never quite understood what he meant until now. They’re step-siblings, she’s living in the same home as him, and they’re smoking expensive pot and drinking expensive whiskey together every night (well, every night she’ll agree to partake in such activities and every night he’s home—which is more often than either of them will ever admit to Blair.)

Then, she didn’t understand; when she was a gawky freshman with strings of upperclassmen boyfriends and drinks always paid for in advance by investment bankers and hedge-fund managers. But now? After sleeping with Nate, killing a man, fleeing to boarding school and then fleeing that to Europe for her father, all to return home and have no one believe she’s changed? She’s starting to understand what Chuck felt when he said those words.

Chuck Bass knows. Chuck Bass knows her secret, and no matter how many times he tries to convince her that Nate still has feelings for her, that Blair did the same thing with him, Serena still seems consumed with guilt. She’s dating a Humphrey, for god’s sake. While they have some redeeming qualities—a quick wit of sorts, and decent looks, they’re still from Brooklyn and obsessed with their poorness. Counterculture isn’t all it’s cracked up to be when it’s not laced with LSD.

Serena won’t let go of Humphrey, he’s her security blanket, even though Chuck wishes she’d date Nate. Then maybe Nate would let go of Blair long enough, then maybe he’d…

No matter, Blair will succumb in the end, no matter what Serena does.

“I know what you did last summer, Serena,” he says, pouring her another mimosa. It’s not morning, not even close, but she’s never been that conventional, her current brush with Dan aside.

“Went to Europe, duh,” she says. “Everyone knows that, it was splashed all over Gossip Girl.”

“I know what you really did last summer,” Chuck says, putting down the carafe of orange juice and taking a swig of champagne straight out of the bottle. She wrinkles her nose, takes a sip out of her flute, then holds out her hand for the bottle.

“You don’t know anything, Chuck,” she says, staring him straight in the eyes. “Your little P.I. is ineffective. I think you pay him too much.”

“I know why you ran away.”

“I know why you’re not speaking to Nate or Blair. Secrets aren’t really secrets once Gossip Girl posts them,” Serena calmly says, taking a swig off the bottle herself, then wiping her mouth with the back of her hand.

He doesn’t let it go though, so is it any wonder she blames him when Georgina keeps sending her anonymous presents?

“Do you want to talk about Blair?” she asks, in between drinks. She’s not sure she really wants to, but it’s what he’s been hinting at, and maybe if he stays out of specifics… not that Blair has. Blair never does.

“Why would I want to talk about Blair?” he asks, seemingly uninterested.

“Because she’s all you ever hint about, come on. This cagey avoid the question thing might work on Nate, but it’s not going to work on me.”

“I have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about.”

“Come on, Chuck. It’s your feelings, not rocket science.” She stares at him, silently willing him to spill.

“She chose Nate. It’s not my fault he left her.” A causal shrug is all that betrays even a hint of feelings, and Serena is mad.

“You’re an idiot, you know that? She chose Nate because he’s a known quantity for her, someone she can control. You? She has no idea what you’re going to do next and it scares her. You sent that blast to Gossip Girl, you seduced her, you reject her, you ignore her, she has no idea what’s coming next and it terrifies her. She doesn’t thrive in chaos like we do, you know that.”

“Oh, so there’s a we again, sis,” he drawls, running a finger up her bare leg, just waiting for her reaction.

“There always was a we, jerk. Even when you were trying to get off with me,” she sighs. It’s the same with them, it’s always the same. “If I burn it all down, burn all the cobwebs away, will you get it?”

“Maybe,” he says, in a rare moment of true honesty. “If I do the same for you, will you?”

“Maybe,” she says, taking another sip of champagne.

“It’s not as bad as you think it is, Serena,” he says, his hand resting on her knee.

“No.” she shakes her head. “It’s worse.”

“Blair’s forgiven you, you know, and Nate will come running whenever you snap your fingers.”
“It’s not about them, Chuck.” She sets her glass down on the floor. “I’m broken, and I don’t know how to fix me.”

“And Humphrey does?” Chuck asks, rolling his eyes. “There’s nothing wrong with you.”

“Maybe not now,” she acquiesces. “But I was wrong, before. I don’t want to do that again.”

“There’s nothing wrong with you, new or old, Serena.” His eyes are intense as he stares at her. She fiddles with the hem of her shorts, waits for him to look away. He won’t though, she knows this by now. She picks up her glass instead of meeting his eyes, raising it to her lips and taking a cautious sip.

“Serena,” he insists.

“You must be drunk for you to be so maudlin,” she laughs, pretending like the past hour never happened.

When the presents start coming, she assumes they’re a message from Chuck-- a message that says: “new or old, good or bad, there’s nothing wrong with you, nothing to be ashamed of, it’s all a part of you.”

When she finds out that they’re from Georgina, it sickens her stomach, because then the message says: “There’s everything wrong with you, and you’ll never fix it.”

It feels like drowning when she’s falling down the rabbit hole with Georgina. Serena wishes Chuck would swoop in and burn everything out so she could be whole again.
Tags: author: lingeringnight, challenge: burn the city, rating: pg
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