Disclaimer: 'Gossip Girl' belongs to Cecily von Ziegesar, Josh Schwartz, and the CW. No copyright infringement intended.
Characters/Pairings: Nate/Serena, Blair/Dan, Blair/Chuck
Warnings: death of a minor character, some sex, drug, alcohol use by minors, alternate universe.
Summary: “They’re giving me a roommate,” she huffs, unwinding her scarf from around her neck, leaving her beret perched slouchily on her blonde hair.
It’s halfway through sophomore year and Serena van der Woodsen is about to meet her new roommate.
Author's Note: This is the fic that wouldn’t end. As always, thanks to my bb kaitoujeanne for the beta.
Nate loves Serena, he always has. The minute he met her as a gawky 11 year old, he was in love. His best friend whined about how he was getting a new stupid stepsister (although, funnily enough, that changed within two months as puberty set in,) but Nate just shrugged it off. Girls were fine, and they didn’t have cooties, whatever.
Fine was an understatement for Serena.
They clicked right off the bat. She liked soccer and teasing Chuck, his two favorite things, and even as they got older, their interests stayed in line. It wasn’t some fairytale romance, though, she always seemed to have guys around her. So he waited, and he dated some, and tried to ignore Chuck’s taunts. He was being a good best friend to both of them this way.
But when Chuck tells him that Dan Humphrey, of all people, is moving in on Serena, Nate’s so mad he can’t see straight. “I just thought you should know,” the text reads, and Nate doesn’t stop to think, or grab a coat. He trails out into the night air, following Dan, running until he catches up with him.
“Hey,” he yells.
“Nate,” Dan says warily, pausing. “I didn’t…”
“Blair isn’t good enough for you? You have to string both of them along?” he asks angrily. He’s not really making sense, but none of this makes sense.
“I’m not… no one is… Serena came on to me!”
“Nice try, Humphrey. Like I’m going to believe that?” Maybe it does make a certain amount of sense. Serena is always the one coming over and forcing him to do things.
“I just went over to visit Blair and she threw herself at me! I don’t know why I’m explaining myself to you anyway.”
“Serena’s my best friend, and Blair’s her new friend. You treat them with respect.”
“How have I not?”
“Kissing and telling? Classy.”
“Like you don’t share everything with Chuck Bass.”
“I don’t. It’s still none of your business.”
“Why do you even care about her? She’s not that great.”
“Don’t talk about her like that.” Nate clenches his fist.
“She’s not. I don’t get why you’re so hung up on her. She wasn’t even that great of a kisser,” Dan lies. Within two seconds, a fist is in his face.
“Don’t talk about Serena like that,” Nate says again, shaking out his fist. He turns and walks away before Dan can say anything else.
“Wait. You’re Dan Humphrey. Son of Rufus Humphrey. God, I should’ve realized.”
“Huh?” Dan’s face is confused.
“You’re Rufus Humphrey’s son.”
“Rufus Humphrey, Lincoln Hawk?”
“Yeah, so?” Dan’s face is annoyed, and his voice is harsh.
“My mom’s Lily van der Woodsen, Lily Rhodes. Famous photographer? Briefly married to Rufus Humphrey? God, dating you would be like incest. We probably have some half-brother out there that our parents just didn’t tell us about.” Serena grimaces.
“Wait, your mom is Lily Rhodes? Oh god, I can’t believe I kissed you. I can’t believe I wanted to do it again.”
“Shut up, Dan. No one need to know what happened. Nothing is going to happen. Just go like Blair and forget I ever existed. GOD.”
“I kind of… already told Chuck we made out.”
“WHAT?” She can feel her face growing redder by the second. “Why would you ever tell my gross stepbrother that?”
“He was getting mad at me for spending so much time with Blair, so I casually mentioned that I made out with you so he’d back off about Blair!”
“Well, yes, he does have this freakish obsession with her, probably because they’re so alike. But that’s no reason to tell him we made out!”
“It got him to back off, didn’t it?”
“No, now he’s just biding his time! Now he’s going to hold this information over my head and threaten to tell Nate, which is not okay! Nate can never know!”
“What is your obsession with that self-absorbed ass?”
“He’s not self-absorbed, jerk! That’s my best friend you’re talking about!”
“I thought Blair was your best friend?”
“I’ve known Nate most of my life, I just met Blair. I love her, but Nate’s been there for me always.” Serena sighs, blows her bangs off her face. “I’m sure you’d like him if you just gave him a chance.”
“I did like him until he punched me in the face, Serena. He already knows. Besides, he’s rich and best friends with Chuck, that’s not exactly recommending him to me, and he keeps interrupting my study dates with Blair.”
“That’s because you and Blair are like the only two people at Waverly who ever study, of course he’s going to interrupt. He’s not used to seeing people other than himself study. Why did he punch you?” she asks curiously. Nate’s never punched anyone before, so she’s sure he had a reason.
“You guys didn’t study when you were in junior high?” he asks instead of answering.
“Uh, no. As Chuck will tell you, we’re pretty and rich, why study.”
“That’s still not going to get you into Yale!”
“Dan, honey, you’re the only one who really wants to go there, other than Blair. Nate wants to go to school in California, but his dad wants him to go to Dartmouth. I want to be an actress maybe, so I can still be with Natie, or maybe Brown, like my mom, if I end up going to school. Chuck? Well, he’ll go to school in the city, so he can intern at his father’s company, or at least that was the plan. Now that my mom’s in control of the company, he’ll be getting shipped off to an Ivy for sure. She’s all hippie arty about us choosing our own destinies within the confines of a formal education and not getting trapped into following your parents paths without exploring other options. It’s a wonder she’s still married to Bart. It would make more sense if she’d stuck with your dad.”
“But then what we did would be even more illegal.”
“It wasn’t illegal, it’s just kind of gross. And it wasn’t even gross then since we didn’t know! It would be gross if we did it right now. That’s what would be gross.”
“No buts, Humphrey! Go write about it in your diary and then make out with Blair. You two are perfect for one another.”
“What did I just say? Honestly.” She shakes her head, blonde locks tossing everywhere behind her. It’s mesmerizing to Dan, watching the strands fly and reflect light, but he shakes his head. She’s not for him, not anymore.
“Go,” she says forcefully. “Go write in your diary and then study with Blair. Then after a period of time, you can make your move on her. She likes you anyway, and not Chuck. As much as I love him, it might do him some good to get his heart broken for once.”
“I’m glad you’re not my sister,” Dan quips as he leaves. Serena just rolls her eyes. Boys. She reaches for her cell phone, tucked underneath her pillow and texts Nate.
“come over plz.”
Two minutes later, it beeps with: “on my way.”
Nate walks up the stairs to Serena’s dorm room nervously. He’s been there a million times before, especially before Blair moved in, but it’s different this time. He’s never punched a guy out because of her before—at least not one she’s known about.
“Hi,” he says, appearing in her doorway. “Where’s Blair?”
“So,” she starts, then pauses, registering what he’s said. “Studying, I think. Why’d you punch Dan?”
“That’s not an answer, Nate,” she says, annoyance creeping into her voice.
“Because he’s a creeper? Because he hit on you and Blair in the same week? Because I’m kind of in love with you?” His voice cracks on the last word, and he’s gripping the door panel so tightly that his knuckles have gone white. This is not how he planned on telling her.
Serena stares at him, dumbfounded. “For how long?”
“Since we were kids, Serena, does it matter?”
“Of course it matters! I’m trying to process this here, this completely uncharacteristic punching of people over me, and then you’re swanning in here saying you love me!”
“This was not exactly how I planned on telling you.”
“Oh, so romantically punching someone in the face is your plan?”
“I wasn’t going to tell you at all,” he says, running his hand through his hair and then checking the hallway behind him. “I didn’t want to risk ruining our friendship since it’s obvious you don’t feel the same way.”
“You, making out with Dan?”
“Nate, I would’ve probably made out with Chuck last night, considering how much absinthe we drank. And it’s not like you’ve given me any indication before tonight that you wanted to make out with me.” She pats the bed beside her, motioning him inside. “Shut the door, will you?”
“Illegal, miss S,” he says, cracking a smile as he shuts the door behind him.
“I’m not going to make you get down on one knee or anything, but maybe next time you should bring a flower or two when you confess your love?” Serena says, taking his hand as he sits down next to her.
“This was not planned.”
“Just saying, for the next time.”
“There isn’t going to be a next time,” he says.
“Oh, just ‘cause I won’t say it back yet you won’t say it again? Lame,” she says, lightly shoving him with her free hand. A grin spreads across his face as he realizes what she’s saying.
“Sooooo, will you officially be my girlfriend?” he asks her solemnly, their hands still clasped.
“Why Mister Archibald, I thought you’d never ask.” She smiles, leaning over to plant a light kiss on his mouth.
Serena takes a job in the mailroom within three weeks of being at Waverly. It's not common for someone as rich as her to actually take a part time job around campus, but she wants to do something to prove to herself (and Chuck, and Bart, and her mother,) that she's not just a spoiled rich girl with a pretty face. Bart's been telling stories since they were little about how he worked his way up from the mailroom to build his empire, and maybe she doesn't want her own empire, but working a couple of hours a week for money that isn't controlled by her parents never killed anyone.
Plus she gets to snoop through everyone's mail. It’s kind of amazing. Seeing who gets packages from where, whose parents are overly involved or sending guilt packages. She loves making up stories about packages, and then putting faces to names when they come to pick up their mail.
And she always gets her packages on time.
"Another package from Sephora for Aubrey, how boring. That girl has more makeup than anyone else and she still has terrible skin. I'm getting her secret Santa to get her a gift certificate for a facial," she remarks to herself one day, sorting packages.
"Secret Santa's not for another year, S," Nate remarks, coming up to her counter.
"Natie!" She waves, from her spot on the floor, surrounded by packages.
"Got anything for me?"
"Come back here," she says, fake-pouting.
"Let me in," he says, laughing.
She jumps up to open the door, boundless energy at seeing her best friend. She opens the tiny half door and throws her arms around him. Almost shyly, he smiles at her, then brushes some hair off her face.
"Hi," he says.
"Hi," she says.
They kiss, tentatively at first, then deeper.
"I missed you," she says, burying her face in his neck.
"You just saw me at breakfast," he says, laughing.
"So? Natie, this is the first week of our relationship."
"Serena, we've been best friends for years."
"Best friends who didn't make out. Think of all the years we wasted!"
"So you only want me for my lips now, I see how it is."
She pokes him gently, and he pokes back. She gives him a goofy grin.
"Come help me sort packages and then we'll work on homework."
"You're turning into Blair,"
"You study all the time, Archibald, it's like your favorite activity."
"Mmmm, second favorite," he says, kissing her.
"Now who wants who for their lips?"
"I can't help it, I've been a parched man in the desert." He leans over to kiss her again.
"Work first, then kissing!" Serena protests, waving her arms at the packages around her.
"Someone really has been taking lessons from Blair."
Serena shrugs. "Well, if we get it all done, then maybe we can go back to your room and properly make out. Less annoying then trying to make out on Mrs. S's new textbooks or this crate of wine for Alex Cruz."
"Wait, crate of wine? For Alex? Serena, that's illegal. You can't give it to him."
"Wasn't planning on it," she says, smirking. "You gonna help me hide the evidence, or do I get Chuck to?"
"...I guess Blair hasn't given you advanced lessons in how to be a lady yet."
"Oh, she's tried. I'm just unteachable. Too much youthful exuberance." A slow smile spreads across Serena’s face.
"That might be why I love you."
"One of the many reasons, I'm sure." She smiles at him again, their noses almost touching, then leans over to press her lips against his.
Blair walks down the cobbled streets, home seeming impossibly far. Her dad's run off with her (male!) nanny and her mother has turned into even more of a raging shrew. It's not fair, she thinks.
But life's never fair, is it B?
It's better at Waverly now, she thinks as she walks to herself. Her dad's still run off to France with her nanny, and her mother's still a shrew, but it's hard to be bothered from two states away. There's no Gossip Girl here to report on her every move, and Serena and her friends are just as screwed up as she is.
"We kind of have a family, but we're also our own little family," she'd pronounced one night, drunk off red wine that someone's uncle or cousin had sent, and Serena had liberated from the mail room. Blair was slightly horrified that Serena would participate in mail fraud, but Serena had just shrugged.
"They shouldn't be sending booze through the mail to minors. Besides, B, it's good wine," she'd said, taking another swig from the bottle.
Blair should be repulsed, but she finds herself reaching for the bottle and taking another drink. Even Audrey lived like this at times, and maybe it's alright if no one sees her.
"Blaiiiiiir," Serena trills, wrinkling her nose. "I'm glad you're here."
"I'm glad I'm here too," she says, smiling up at her roommate. She must be a little drunk to be talking like this. It's nice, almost relaxing in a way. Being with Serena, being friends with Serena is relaxing. Blair's letting her guard down more and more, perfect B be damned. If it's only S seeing, it's okay.
"Soooo, you and Dan, huh," Serena says, breaking Blair's train of thought.
"What? There is no me and Dan."
"You looked awfully cozy at the student lounge today."
"Studying for our pre-Calc midterm, S."
"So advanced, studying pre-Calc already."
"You could be too, if you applied yourself."
"I hate math. I'm going to be an actress or a model or a socialite."
"Really?" Blair raises an eyebrow. Serena's smarter than that, and she's never seemed particularly into Hollywood drama or the New York social scene.
"Or something. I don't know B, there's everything in the world to do, and I'm not like you. I don't know what I want to do."
"All I know is that I want to go to Yale." Blair straightens, takes the wine bottle from Serena. She takes a slow drink, then sets the bottle on the floor. "That's not exactly a career path."
"It's more of a plan than I've got," Serena says, slumping down into the pillows.
"You're fifteen, it's not exactly required to have everything figured out."
"Why are you so smart?" Serena mumbles, her eyes fluttering shut.
"Sometimes I think you're the smarter of us two," Blair says quietly, watching as her roommate falls asleep. Sighing, she gets up from the floor and puts the wine back into its hiding spot behind two racks of impractical shoes for Waverly.
"Sweet dreams, S," she says, covering her roommate with a stray blanket. It's nine, too early to go to bed, too late to do anything productive. She settles for texting Dan.
"Do you think you're ready?" she asks.
"No. Study date tomorrow?"
"Sure," she texts back, smiling. It's so easy here, to be friends, to flirt with a boy and not have everyone assume it's something more than it is because of pictures on a gossip website. It's freeing.
Blair hasn't thrown up in weeks.
“This is never going to work between us,” Chuck says, looking down at her.
“Goodbye mistake so far in my past that I can hardly remember,” she says, sneering slightly.
“Well, you learned from the best,” he says. “Goodbye kiss?” and without waiting for an answer he leans down to kiss her. Blair relaxes slightly into his familiar embrace, but it feels wrong when there’s a different pair of brown eyes and different head of brown hair she wants in front of her.
“You jerk.” She tries to slap him, but he catches her hand before she connects. “You just did that because Dan was watching.”
“So sue me. I’m not the biggest fan of the douche mover who moved in on my girlfriend and my stepsister in the same week.”
“I’m not your girlfriend, Chuck.”
“I never was, and Serena’s into Nate at the moment.”
“Yeah, well, who knows how long that’ll last,” Chuck says, but his voice lacks conviction.
“Finally something we agree on.” Blair looks away, fiddles with her ring.
“Please,” Chuck says. “We both know that they’ll be married in five years and have ridiculously cute babies hideously and unfashionably early and we will both hate them for it.”
“I’m not so sure I agree, but I suppose I’ll take the bet. Pierre Hermé macarons hand-delivered from France, Chuck. Do you agree to my terms?”
“And if I win?”
“Then maybe I’ll be your girlfriend.”
“Again, and I’m not waiting five years for that when I can get you within five weeks, Waldorf.”
“Please, you never had me,” she says, huffing.
“But you know you’ll miss me over spring break,” he says.
“Serena, I will miss. You and your note-passing detentions, not so much.”
“Aww, I’m wounded. What’s so interesting that you want to stay here instead of coming back to Manhattan or going to Vermont with lover boy?”
“Unlike you, I actually do my homework and want to get a head start on my SAT studying.”
“Don’t you know you can buy your way into Yale?”
“I said, unlike you.”
“Okay, don’t you know I can buy your way in?”
“Ew, Chuck. I am not some kept woman here,” she says, grimacing. “Go. Enjoy your break. I’ll see you when you get back.”
“It will be far less fun without you, my dear,” Chuck says, in a possible rare moment of sincerity from him, and then kisses her hand. “Until next week.”
“So what’s the plan?” Dan asks, curious. Blair asked him to hang out with her on the first night of spring break, before he left for Vermont.
“The plan is,” Blair announces, then looks confused. “For once, I have no plan.”
“The mighty Blair Waldorf, she of the color-coded time-tabled study schedules, has no plan? This is a first.” Dan laughs, then places a hand on her shoulder.
“I have a studying plan for spring break; I just don’t know how to plan fun. Serena made me give myself the night off,” Blair says, biting her lip.
“Let’s go get some pizza in town then,” Dan suggests. “Maybe play some Ms. Pac-Man?”
“That could be fun.” Blair lets Dan help her on with her coat, then takes his hand.
“It will be, even if I don’t have a color coded schedule to prove it,” Dan says, swinging their joined hands as they walk into the brisk evening air.
“Gin?” Blair asks, holding out her flask. They’ve eaten two veggie pizzas (mostly him, but she ate more than she has in months) and walked back to her dorm. He paid, even though he’s on a scholarship, and she offered.
“It’s not a proper date if I don’t pay,” he said, smiling at her. “I’m old fashioned that way, and, Miss Waldorf, I think you are too.”
She doesn’t mind that Dan’s a scholarship student; he’s ridiculously cute in that earnest corn-fed boy next door kind of way. That, and he hates Chuck. She loves that she’s found the one boy in this place who hates her roommate’s stepbrother more than she does. He still has some money, enough to buy her coffees without going into debt.
And if she secretly ends up buying him too nice things for next Christmas, well, he’ll just have to deal with that, she hopes.
Although maybe she won’t have to. Maybe she’ll be as poor as he is by next Christmas, according to her mother’s harried voicemails. Things are good with Serena, why do they have to be good with Chuck too? Business deals based on children’s friendship are a stupid idea anyway, Blair could’ve told her mother that.
Maybe next Christmas they can play Holly and Paul, or Gabby and Rick, whiling away the time writing their college essays thinking of a series of escalating escapades.
“Dan,” she says, after they’ve had their first few sips of gin and tonic. “Would you ever lie on a college application essay?”
“What kind of question is that?” he asks, brow furrowed.
“Consider it your ‘I never’ question, since we have yet to play that game,” Blair says, turning a card over on to the discard pile.
“Two games at once? Daring, Blair. This might be too much fun for you to handle,” Dan says, teasing.
“It’s the gin, and the gin rummy,” she says. “They’re going to my head.”
“All right. I never would lie on a college application, unless it was a portfolio sample of my fiction writing, which is justified.”
“Hmm,” she says.
“I suppose I’d have to say the same.”
“Okay, I’ve got one for you. I’ve never made out with Chuck Bass.”
“Ugh, no fair, Humphrey,” Blair says, throwing a pillow at him.
“No one ever said ‘I never’ was fair.”
“All’s fair in love and ‘I never?’”
“Something like that,” he says, leaning over the discard pile to kiss her, his cards still clutched in his hand.
“Dan,” Blair says, shaking his shoulder. “Dan!”
“Mmmph,” Dan grumbles, still asleep.
“We have to go!” Blair says, panicking. “You have to go!”
Dan sits straight up. “Did I spend the night here?”
“Yes, and now you need to get out,” she says, shoving his chest. He stumbles out of her bed, still fully clothed, and leans over to give her a peck.
“Can we have another date when I get back from Vermont?” he asks hopefully. His hand brushes some hair off of her face.
“Only if you make it out of here without the dorm mistress catching you,” she says, clutching the bed sheets to her chest. She kisses back when he kisses her again.
“Go,” Blair says, smiling.
“Bart’s dead?” Serena asks, making a skeptical face. It’s two days after spring break, and she answered her phone only to have her mother come out with this. Why did she pick up the phone to this? She’d been having such a nice dream about Nate too. Is this still part of her dream?
“He had a heart attack in the pool, sweetie, I’m so sorry.”
“Why’re you sorry, Mom? He was your husband, I should be saying sorry to you. When’s the funeral? Does Chuck know?” She’s firing off questions rapid-fire, but she can’t seem to slow her mouth down.
“I couldn’t get a hold of Charles, I fear he’s indisposed at the moment.”
“He wishes he was indisposed,” Serena mutters darkly. “I’ll find him.”
“Thank you darling,” Lily says, her voice steady. “I’ll be sending a limo for the funeral, so make sure you’re both ready.”
“How are you holding up, Mom?” she asks, but her mother’s already hung up on her.
Great. Typical Lily. She sends off a text to Chuck: “Pick up your phone, dumbass” and then calls her brother. Eric will know what’s going on.
“Charles,” Lily says softly. He’s straining to hear his stepmother’s voice through the phone, she’s so uncharacteristically quiet. She’s always been soft-spoken, but never quiet. “Charles, I’m afraid your father is dead.”
He swallows, a hollow forming in his throat where the air used to be. Lily’s still speaking quietly, as if lowering the volume will force him to listen harder and comprehend.
“I’m sending a car for you and Serena, and of course Nate too, if you wish.”
He lets the phone drop onto the floor. The clatter echoes through the empty room.
He slowly lays his head down, and waits for the inevitable.
It’s Dan who finds him first, not his stepsister as he was expecting. He’s migrated from lying on his back to being sprawled out on his stomach, face mashed into his pillows. Chuck’s sure he looks beyond rumpled, but can’t bring himself to care.
There’s a half empty glass of scotch on the desk, condensation from the melting ice dripping onto the floor and his bare ankle occasionally, but he can’t bring himself to move. Nor can he bring himself to respond when Dan sticks his foot in his mouth by greeting him thusly:
“Okay, cell phone on the floor, you’re sleeping in your clothes and you haven’t finished your drink? Who died?”
Chuck just buries his head in the pillow and waits for it all to go away.
Serena goes through the motions of packing an overnight bag after her mother calls. She has a closet at home, full of designer dresses and shoes, but she’s shot up two inches this year and she’s pretty sure her breasts have grown a cup size as well. Might be time to mail-order some Victoria’s Secret bras—someday she’ll go to Paris and buy out the lingerie stores there. Until then, it’s plebian Vicky’s for her.
She sits on her bed, regarding her messy side of the room and her half-packed bags. It’s nothing, it all means nothing, and she just wants to be held. She grabs the bear Nate won for her when they were still in middle school, dumb kids playing grownup at the Coney Island fair. It’s identical to a gummy bear, tiny and red, and she holds on until her knuckles match it.
It’s not fair, but life isn’t fair. Bart always tried to help them understand that, that they were privileged and should be thankful for everything they had.
She’d give it all up, all the money and the clothes for their family, their impossible family to be back together again.
Serena slowly releases her grip on the bear and feels the blood rush into her hand. It’s not fair, she thinks, wiping the tears away with a stray tissue and hoping her makeup isn’t running.
Serena calls Blair twice while she’s away. They’re short, stilted conversations that end with “I miss you” from both of them.
She realizes on the ride back to Waverly that she hasn’t called Georgina once this year.
Nate holds her hand at the funeral. Chuck’s got his arm around her mom, and it’s then that she thinks that their family will be okay, even while they’re all crying into this season’s black lace handkerchiefs and Bart’s business associates are already circling for the kill. Too bad they never worked with Lily Rhodes before she was Lily Bass, or they would know that they’d never get a shady business deal over on her.
It’s funny, she’s supposed to be sad, but she also feels this fierce surge of pride for her family. They’ll manage, they always do.
Nate squeezes her hand as they lower the casket.
Blair paces the room while Serena’s away. It’s not right, without her here. It’s not right without Chuck here, as much as Blair hates to admit it. Dan’s off moping because his little Vermont hippie girlfriend won’t transfer schools to be with him (which, what was Dan expecting, hooking up with a home school girl who doesn’t believe in higher education? She probably bathes in patchouli) and Blair is hopelessly bored by herself.
She paints her toenails every day, changing colors to match her shoes. She starts reading Anna Karenina, then gives up in utter distraction and hopelessness. She haunts the film room, watching Audrey’s films while she pretends to do her homework.
Dan calls, twice, and she hangs up on him both times.
She doesn’t want to hear about some bitch named Vanessa or how Serena was the love of his life. She doesn’t have time for this, she’s got tests to ace and Yale applications to think of.
Blair idly flips through her French note cards and waits for Serena to return.
When they return, it’s almost as if nothing has changed, only-- Chuck has a monkey now. A monkey that he’s a little a bit defensive about, Serena thinks.
“It’s my grief monkey. The ridiculously overpriced therapist your mother sent me to decided that having a monkey to dress in matching sweaters would somehow make me forget that my father died.”
“You couldn’t have gotten a Lab, or a Setter?” Serena asks.
“Sweetie is so much more.”
“You are insane, you know that right?”
“Thanks sis, just what I always wanted to know.”
“You’re welcome, oh brother mine,” she says, sticking out her tongue. “Why in the world did they send us to the same boarding school?”
“So I could continue my tradition of hitting on all your hot friends?”
“Chuck, everyone except Blair thinks you’re gay, thanks to the grief monkey.”
“But I’ve slept with all of them,” he says, looking wounded.
“Yeah, in the first six months of freshman year. You haven’t slept with anyone in over a year, Chuck, and you spend all your time with Nate.”
“And you, a gorgeous girl,” he interjects.
“Who is your stepsister, and practically your real sister, and clearly not pining over you.”
“Yes, well, just because Nate and my idiot roommate came to blows over you,” Chuck says.
“I’m surprised you didn’t punch Dan yourself.”
“Nate beat me to the punch, literally.”
“I thought he was supposed to be the level-headed one?” Serena asks rhetorically.
“I’m getting old, sis,” Chuck laughs, flopping back against his pillows.
“You’ll always be my baby brother,” she says, ruffling his hair.
“By two months,” he says, rolling his eyes. “Now, are you going to convince Waldorf to console me in my grief or do I have to drink a lot and threaten to throw myself off buildings to get her to pay attention to me?”
“Oooh, Dan hooked up with some hippie artist over spring break, she’s pissed,” Serena says. “She’ll probably be up for some revenge make outs in front of him.”
“You know I want more than revenge make outs from her, right?”
“The road to true love oft starts with revenge make outs.”
“Bastardizing Shakespeare again, what is this fancy education teaching you?”
“How to be clever and bastardize great works of literature. Also, how to skip class to make out behind the stables and not get caught. That and mail fraud.”
“I’ll drink to that. Do you have any more of that wine?”
“You know, it’s okay to be sad with me,” she says after they’ve killed two bottles of wine. “I’m sad too.”
“I don’t want to think about it, Serena.”
“Okay,” she says simply. He pours her another glass, and smiles as she lays her head on his shoulder.
“I’m glad we’re related,” he says.
“Me too,” Serena yawns into his collarbone.
“Although if news of this family hallmark moment gets out, I will kill you,” Chuck says after awhile.
“How are you dealing with the monkey, dude?” Nate asks one afternoon at soccer practice.
“That thing is demonic,” Dan says, making a face.
“So whatever happened with you and Blair?”
“Nothing,” Dan says, resting his foot on the ball. “I’m kind of an idiot.”
“Some things just aren’t meant to be,” Nate says, shrugging. “God I sound like a fortune cookie.”
“Better a fortune cookie than a demonic monkey.”
Winter turns into spring and Waverly starts to bloom. The girls wear their skirts shorter, bare legs white from winter. Windows are thrown open to catch the breeze, and speakers blare out to the lawns below. Serena loves every second of it. Every second she isn’t consoling Chuck.
“I don’t know how much more grief I can take,” she moans to Blair.
“He was your stepdad too!” Blair’s tone is verging on horrified.
“I saw him like, three times a year. I mean, I miss him, but… he and my mom were not the most involved parents.”
“But you still have both your parents, Serena! He has no one.”
“He has my mom, she’s still his guardian. He has that stupid monkey that always tries to bite me.”
“That’s not the same, S, and you know it!”
“If you’re so concerned, why don’t you go cheer him up?”
“Maybe I will,” Blair says huffily.
“He likes snickerdoodles and Basques.”
“The snickerdoodles I can handle.”
“You have plenty of Basques, I live with you.”
“I am not consoling him with my vagina, S.”
“Didn’t you and Dan, you know? Before spring break?”
“Ew, no! We only dated for like, two minutes before he left me for that skanky vegan hippie child and I want my first time to be perfect.”
“You can do better than Dan Humphrey anyway.”
“I intend to piss him off as much as humanly possible.”
“Sleeping with my brother would accomplish that, just saying. Not that I am peer pressuring you, I commend your decision to wait,” Serena says, flopping back against the grass.
“I am going to get so many grass stains from this, not to mention weird tan lines,” Blair complains.
“Take off your knee socks. I offered to go back to the dorm with you and change into bikinis, but noooo.”
“Why would I let everyone see me in my bikini when it’s only 60 degrees outside?”
“It has to be at least 65, B. Live a little,” Serena says, smiling through her sunglasses.
“I am living. I dated someone who I never would’ve dated back in Manhattan, and see where that got me?”
“Experience? Dan’s not a terrible guy, he’s just confused. Kind of like someone else I know.”
“Whatever, I am burning.”
“Please,” Serena says, sitting up. “You just want to go iron out those wrinkles and check for grass stains.”
“I have homework too!”
“Fine, but next time we’re bringing SPF 100, a floppy hat and your homework. Ooh, and maybe one of those umbrellas.”
“Can we go now?” Blair asks, climbing to her feet impatiently.
“Whattcha reading,” Nate asks, nudging her foot.
“Kerouac,” she murmurs, looking up at him. “Whatchu up to?”
“Looking for you,” he says, crouching down next to her chair. “Wanna take a walk?”
“Only if you’re asking.”
“Miss van der Woodsen, would you like to take a walk with me and maybe make out behind the stables?” he says, hair flopping into his eyes.
“You need a haircut.” She brushes the hair out of his eyes and takes his outstretched hand.
“So, Kerouac, huh? Want to run away with me to California? he asks, grinning as he pulls her up to her feet.
“Drink wine out of jugs and hitchhike until morning?”
“Sounds perfect,” she says, and hugs him, her book forgotten in the chair.
The sunlight drifts into Serena’s dorm room through the gauzy curtains she and Blair finally agreed on. Wrinkling her nose, she sits up slightly, as much as Nate’s arms will allow. He’s got her wrapped tighter than a burrito from that cart they love to go to when they’re back in the city, back when he was just her stepbrother’s friend that she had a hopeless crush on.
“Natie,” she murmurs, looking down at him, setting her book aside. They never did make it on that walk, but being with him, she doesn’t really mind.
“Murmph,” he says, dragging her back down to him. Slowly his eyes open, blinking against the light.
“Hi,” she says quietly.
“Hi,” he whispers back, a sleepy smile on his face. Serena giggles, buries her face in his chest.
“I do love you, you know,” she says, raising her eyes to meet his.
“And I you,” Nate replies, smoothing her hair down, then pressing a kiss to her head.
Serena watches Blair pack her bags mournfully. Sure, Blair said she’d be back, but so did Georgie last spring, before she met two movie stars and some assorted minor royalty and decided to study abroad in Switzerland. And yes, Blair did say that Serena could visit her any time in France, but Serena has Chuck and Nate to think of. They’re going to mope around the Hamptons all summer, just like last year. Maybe she’ll convince them that Paris is educational and they can sail and horseback ride in France too?
“I’m going to miss you so much,” she says, throwing her arms around Blair impulsively.
“Come visit, you jerk! I’ll even let those rag-tag band of boys come with you, since that’s the only way you’ll come,” Blair says, returning the hug. “Although be warned, hanging out with me in Manhattan or Paris will definitely put you on Gossip Girl’s radar.”
“Psh, Gossip Girl? Never heard of her,” Serena says shrugging. “Nothing’s gonna keep me from my Blair this summer!”
Famous last words?
Looks like our little Queen B is all grown up now, with a mysterious man on her arm escorting her to the airport and two beautiful blondes trailing behind. Sources peg him as Chuck Bass, none other than son of the Bart Bass who owns half of Manhattan, while the female blonde is his stepsister Serena Van der Woodsen. The charming blond lad is Nate Archibald, rumored to be of the Van der Bilt political dynasty. Queen B must have made quite the splash at boarding school… might be time for this little gossip hound to switch schools, because this group of power schemers is going to be fun to watch.
You know you love me,
xoxo, Gossip Girl.