Disclaimer: "Gossip Girl" belongs to Cecily von Ziegesar, Josh Schwartz, and the CW. No copyright infringement intended.
Spoilers: 3x22, "Last Tango, Then Paris".
Author's Notes: Written for the gossipink Yeah Yeah Yeahs challenge; based on the song "Modern Romance". (I can't believe I haven't put this up on oceans earlier! But watching 4x1 seemed very, very familiar...)
"No moping in Paris," Serena says from the backseat of the car as they approach JFK.
"Why would I mope in Paris?" Blair retorts. "It's Paris. City of Love."
"I promise I won't mope either," Serena says, reaching to rub Blair's shoulder. "We'll have a mutual no-mope agreement."
"Fine," Blair says. "I'll add a no-rebound agreement. If you steal any more horses--"
"Hey, you're the one who came home from Europe with Lord Marcus," Serena says, but she's smiling. "I promise, no shenanigans on my part this summer."
Blair holds up her pinky, and Serena hooks hers in it. "Promise," she says again.
The wheels touch down at Charles de Gaulle, and both Serena and Blair pull out their phones immediately.
"Wait," Serena says, and she reaches across to Blair, holding her hand out. "Give me your phone."
"Why?" Blair says, her eyes suspicious.
"Just because. Give it to me," she says again, and she plucks it out of Blair's reluctant fingers.
"Is this because you don't want me to try calling Chuck? Because I assure you, S, I have no intention--"
"No, well, maybe. I just think it's a good idea if I hang onto it for you."
"Fine," Blair says, and she takes Serena's phone. "Then I'll hang onto yours, and keep you from calling Humphrey."
"What? Come on, B, he's--"
"On the no-call list." Blair tucks it away inside her bag.
Before the bellhop has even brought up their bags, Blair's taking off her shoes and her dress, standing at the bathroom vanity in her silk chemise.
"I'm taking the first shower," she says without turning to look at Serena. "I assume that's all right with you?"
"Sure," Serena says, lounging on her bed in her half of the suite. "I'll take mine after dinner. Do you want room service or do you want to go out tonight? I'm fine either way."
"I'll let you know," Blair says, shutting the bathroom door.
She turns on the faucet and steps into the enclosed shower, not even waiting for the water to heat up before she lets it pound down on her shoulders, the back of her neck. She cups it in her hands and presses it to her face.
If her face is wet first, then the tears don't count.
While she waits, Serena idly flicks open her purse, unzipping the inner pocket and pulling out the slim joint. She pulls her lips together, blows a short breath out between them as she regards it.
She can't do it, so she puts it back and the purse back on the floor beside her bed.
Serena spends the next half hour staring at the ceiling while the pipes keep rushing. Blair's always taken insanely long showers. Then there's the blowdrying, the curling, the moisturizing... So it's an hour, easily.
When Blair finally emerges, Serena sits up, leaning on her elbows. "You ready for dinner?" she asks.
"Yes," Blair says, opening up her recently-arrived suitcase and shaking out a dress. "Let's go out tonight."
"Sure," Serena says, shifting to get up. She runs a hand through her hair, then down her hips, before stepping back into her wedges.
"Hey, B?" she says.
"Mm?" Blair murmurs as she applies her lip gloss in the front mirror.
"I'm just... I'm really proud of how you're holding together," Serena says. "You're a lot stronger than you realize."
Blair just smiles and looks down at her lip gloss tube as she twists it shut.
They walk by Shakespeare and Company with its carts of books wheeled out in front.
"Oh," Serena says, "I have to get something for--"
"No," Blair says, grabbing onto Serena's wrist. "You do not."
"For Eric," Serena says, but she's not looking at Blair's face. "I was going to get something for Eric, B. Don't just assume--"
"Please," Blair says, "just because I know you better than you know yourself--"
"That's not true," Serena says.
"Nothing for Humphrey," Blair says sternly as she lets go of Serena's wrist. "Nothing."
Blair can't sleep.
The bed is too big and too cold, and too empty.
She closes her eyes and she can't sleep; she opens them and all she can see is the other pillow at her side.
She sprawls out her limbs, runs her hands over her face, pulls the pillow over her head, and groans into it.
Chuck Bass is somewhere -- God knows where -- out there in the world, she thinks to herself, and good riddance, good riddance, right?
Finally she throws the pillow aside, kicking off the blankets, and gets up, soft bare feet to the other half of the suite.
"You can't sleep either?" Serena says to the dark silhouette in the doorway.
"No," Blair says.
"Want to have some champagne?" Serena offers from her bed.
"I'll just get a headache at this point," Blair says as she sits on the foot of Serena's bed. Serena moves to kneel next to her, rubbing her back.
"You okay?" Serena asks.
Blair shakes her head, leaning against Serena.
"C'est vraiment dégueulasse," she says.
"I know, B, I know," Serena replies.
Serena's in the shower, so Blair opens up Serena's purse and pulls out her cell phone and turns it on.
There's a voice mail from Harold, a couple of Franglais texts from Roman, several Gossip Girl texts she's past caring about (including one that starts with "OMFGBB!!"), some photos of baby Anastacia from Dorota, and no fewer than six texts from Humphrey, all asking why Serena isn't answering his texts.
And that's it.
Is it really that easy to make everything stop?
It can't be, she says to herself as she turns the phone back off and slips it back into Serena's purse. It shouldn't be that easy for him when it's this hard for her.
She takes Serena's phone out of her own purse and deletes all twenty of Humphrey's unread text messages, then texts Lily.
In Paris w B. All is well! Let everyone know Im ok.
The girls split up for the afternoon.
"I couldn't find what I was looking for at Shakespeare and Company, so I'm going again -- you don't want to spend the whole afternoon in there with me, do you, B? Do you want to meet at Berthillon?"
"That's fine," Blair says.
She walks to Notre Dame alone, avoiding the crowds as best she can.
There's always crowds wherever she goes.
She buys a single white candle and walks through the cathedral with it in hand, waiting to find some place that calls to her.
It's been... a while... since my last confession... Truthfully, I'm not even Catholic.
Blair stops and lights her candle, placing it among the others in one of the many little enclaves under the stained glass.
I've been given orders practically from God Himself to avoid you.
The next time you talk to Him, would you ask Him to send my boyfriend back to me?
She steps back and stares at the flickering light in the cool darkness of the cathedral, even though the afternoon is warm and bright outside.
"Please give me strength," she says softly under her breath, clasping her hands around the strap of her purse. "Please, please just give me strength, and good judgment, and just look out for me. It's not a lot to ask with such a little candle, but it's burning. So. There it is."
Blair walks through the rest of Notre Dame quietly, barely registering anything around her, until she walks out into the sun and places her sunglasses over her eyes.
They're eating Ladurée macaron in a lovely square somewhere when someone walks by wearing Chuck's cologne. Dirty lavender and cedar and leather and smoke and salt and arrogance.
The sweet turns to dust and ash in Blair's mouth.
"B?" Serena says.
Blair swallows and it's like a nightmare, her mouth full of gravel she can't spit out.
"I'm fine," she says hoarsely. "I'm fine."
Blair rolls over and glances at the hotel room clock as the door to the suite opens.
It's five am.
She can smell the cigarettes and alcohol on Serena before she can see her in the doorway.
"Did you have fun?" she asks, her voice creaking with more than a little disdain.
"I did," Serena says, turning on the hall light and peering at her dim reflection. She shakes her hair out with her fingers, frowns at her dark tired eyes and the red friction around her mouth.
"You didn't bring any French boys back with you, did you?"
"No," Serena says.
"Just loved them and left them?"
"Good night, Blair," Serena says and turns out the hall light again.
They're walking down Rue de Rivoli when a boy on a Vespa whistles at Serena through his teeth at a stoplight.
Blair's face is already set in a scowl, but Serena smiles and waves.
"Voulez un tour?" he shouts under his helmet, holding out a second one to her.
Serena looks back at Blair, then back at the boy.
"I'll hold your purse," Blair says flatly. "Meet me back at the Metro station?"
"You're the best, B," Serena says as she hands off her purse and hops onto the back of the Vespa, swinging the helmet up and over her golden hair.
This is what Paris trips are like for girls like Serena, Blair thinks as the scooter speeds away down the street.
She uses Serena's wallet to pay for her café au lait and pain au chocolat while she waits.
"Do you think we'll be able to see the fireworks from the balcony?" Serena asks.
"I should hope so," Blair says. "It wouldn't be much of a Bastille Day if we couldn't see the fireworks."
"Oh, I do want to see fireworks," Serena says, opening up the bottle of crème de cassis. "Another Kir Royale?"
"Please," Blair says.
Serena's pouring champagne into their flutes when a high pitched fleedle-dee rings out of her purse, slumped in one of the embroidered chairs.
"What was that?" Blair asks.
"Nothing," Serena says.
"Did you just get a text? Is your phone on? Is your phone in your purse?"
"Here's your drink, Blair--"
Blair is on her feet and digging through Serena's purse.
Blair holds up the phone, still glowing with its announcement. "You have a text," she says, teeth bared. "From Dan Humphrey."
"Don't open my phone," Serena says.
"We agreed, no phones, no old bad habits--"
"I know, I know--"
"It was your idea," Blair snaps, and she pitches the phone to the floor where it bounces, once, before landing on Serena's bare instep.
"I know it was my idea but you're being crazy," Serena says, wincing as the phone hits.
"You're the one who is hooking up with your brother," Blair hisses. "Let's not go throwing 'crazy' around right now."
"No one is hooking up with anyone, Blair, he's just helping me--"
"Right, right, helping you! Helping you with your 'complicated' feelings!"
"You're not the only one here who broke up with her boyfriend, Blair!"
Blair stops, turns, her face scrunched, angry, but she is silent.
Serena is breathing hard, her phone still against her foot. She presses her hands to her eyes, takes another deep breath. "Out of everyone we know, you know what it's like to lose Nate after a lifetime of loving him. And yeah, it was my choice, but I still lost him."
"S," Blair says.
"And I am trying, trying to be good for you and trying to be there for you, but sometimes I have to do things for me. Talking to Dan is part of it. I just. I'm trying to be strong, I'm trying to let go--"
"We both are," Blair says.
"I know," Serena says, "I know. It's so hard."
Blair wraps her arms around her friend; Serena leans her forehead against Blair's. "It's going to take us some time," she says.
"Yeah," Serena says. "Yeah, it is."
Blair steps back, then holds out one of the champagne flutes to Serena. "Kir Royale?"
"God, yes," Serena says, smiling through a shimmer of tears as she takes the glass. "A votre santé."
"A votre santé," Blair replies, sipping hers.
A firework streaks, then sharply pops in the sky, rattling the windowpanes.
Blair looks over her shoulder, then back at Serena. "Yes, we can see the fireworks," she says.
Serena picks up the champagne and the crème de cassis. "Then I'm taking these bad boys out to the balcony. You with me?"
"Always," Blair says.