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.
Blair watches Manhattan float past the windows of the car taking her to Waverly, the Marie Antoinette soundtrack playing quietly in her headphones. Her fingers idle with her cellphone, but who would she text? Hey Gossip Girl, newsflash: virgin queen B’s leaving town for good. Kati and Is are following Penelope and Hazel around now, and even Nelly Yuki, her best friend and Yale rival isn’t speaking to her anymore.
“Figures,” she mumbles under her breath. Nelly probably was only friends with her to sabotage her chances of getting into Yale.
It’s good she’s leaving. New place, fresh start, she thinks to herself. And maybe, just maybe, there’ll be a boy there who isn’t just interested in deflowering Constance’s queen. It’s everything Blair’s ever wanted since her dad has left.
It came as a relief when her mother announced that Blair was off to boarding school halfway through her sophomore year.
“Eleanor Waldorf designs needs me, darling, and besides, you don’t want to be here without Roman, do you?”
Blair sadly shakes her head. She’ll miss her Tiffany blue room, and her pug, but she can start over at Waverly, no whispers from her former friends about how her dad left her mom for her male nanny.
“It’ll be good,” she says. “I’ll be good.”
She shoves away the lunch her mother has packed for her (more like ordered from Nobu,) and drums her fingers on the seat. Four more hours.
It’s a chilly morning when Serena van der Woodsen flops on her best friend’s bed.
“They’re giving me a roommate,” she huffs, unwinding her scarf from around her neck, leaving her beret perched slouchily on her blonde hair.
“You knew someone was bound to transfer in eventually, Serena,” Nate Archibald says, barely looking up from his algebra text book. There’s frost on the windowpane, sunlight pouring onto his desk, but it doesn’t seem to distract him from the homework assignment next to him.
“They didn’t have to until next year, did they? Then I could’ve still had a single.”
“Serena, somehow you managed to get a triple for a single for most of your sophomore year. Just be happy.”
“But what if she’s a total dork and wants to study in there all the time?”
“Then you’ll sneak over here, Serena, it’s not like you haven’t done it before. You’re doing it right now.”
“How come you don’t have a new transfer coming into your room, Nate?”
“Because, unlike you, my single is actually a single.”
“Bastard,” she says, throwing her scarf at his head. “I’m just worried.”
“You’ll be fine. You’ll probably end up best friends, and if Chuck and I can room together and not kill each other, then you’ll definitely be okay.”
“I don’t see you still rooming with my stepbrother this year, you know.”
“Well, someone decided his family had more money than God and deserved a double-single. I foresee some poor transfer student in his future, just like his sister.”
“That poor sap.”
“Pretty much. But you know you’re always welcome here.”
“I know,” she says, flopping back against the pillows. “Someday you’re going to find a girl though, and then you’ll kick me out.”
“Nahh, Chuck’s already been through them all. Not my scene.”
“Surely not all the freshmen?” Serena lifts one leg up and taps his knee with her foot as she speaks. Nate smiles, gently squeezing her toes as they rest against his thigh.
“…Serena, you lived with him for four years before we came here, what do you think?”
“Ewwwwww.” Serena wrinkles her nose in disgust at the thought. Nate chuckles, his fingers idly tracing patterns on her foot.
“Let’s just stay like this forever,” she says finally. “No roommates, no school, just quiet.”
“You’d get bored, monkeyface,” Nate says wistfully.
“I probably would, unless you had cards,” she says, pulling a face.
“Lucky for you, I always do.” Nate reaches behind him and brandishes a pack. “Gin?”
“The game or the drink?” she laughs, teasing.
“I still have studying to do,” he says.
“Term hasn’t even started yet, el estudiante!” Serena pokes him with her foot. “Come on, you know it’ll be fun.”
“It’s eleven o’clock in the morning, S?”
“So? What else are we supposed to do? I don’t know why you wanted to come back so early anyway, no one’s here yet.”
“So I could get some studying done in peace and quiet?”
“Then you shouldn’t have told Chuck you were coming back so early! He practically forced Mom and Bart to send us back with you, and then conveniently he tries to fake sick when we’re supposed to come out here so he can have the penthouse all to himself,” Serena says, pouting.
“He’s fifteen, how much trouble can he get into?”
“…Nathaniel Archibald, take a shot right now,” she demands. He sighs, reaches up to his top shelf and pulls down a water bottle. Taking a swig, he makes a face at her as he swallows.
“Happy?” Nate says, his face still severe.
“Of course,” she says, reaching for the water bottle. She takes a drink, swallows, then sets it back down on his desk. She tugs on his hand as she lies back down.
“Come on, Natie,” she says sleepily. He’s not really tired, but she looks like a Disney Princess with her hair fanned out all over his bed. He grabs the water bottle and takes another sip, then sets it on the floor by their heads.
He brushes some hair off her face, and then climbs over her onto his bed. She snuggles up against him immediately, and he puts an arm around her middle.
“Let’s just stay here for a while,” she says, pulling his other arm underneath her. He just kisses her temple in lieu of a reply.
“So I hear you’re getting a new roommate, sis,” Chuck slurs at Serena. She rolls her eyes at him. It’s five in the afternoon and he’s drunk already. She’d be drunk too, if it wasn’t for Nate and his terrible need to constantly study. He’d kicked her out five minutes ago, saying as nice as the endless rounds of napping and Gin Rummy were, he had some studying to do, and she could either help him or go home. She doesn’t know why he’s so obsessed with grades anyway. It’s not like he’s poor.
“I’m sure yours will be showing up soon enough, bro,” she smirks. “And no, I don’t know what she looks like, Chuck, for all I know she could weigh 300 pounds.”
“Please, like they’d let someone like that in here. 200 pounds maybe, if she was a legacy, but 300? No way. Also no way her parents wouldn’t have sprung for bypass if she was coming here.”
“Do you have to be so gross all the time?”
“Only for you, darling,” he says, throwing an arm around her shoulders. Definitely bourbon today.
“You drink all your whiskey already?” she questions, shrugging her shoulders in an attempt to dislodge his arm.
“It’s in Nate’s room.” Chuck shrugs, tugs at one end of her hair scarf.
“Also, isn’t it a little early to be drunk?”
“It’s pre-term, Serena, it’s never too be early to be drunk. I’m just celebrating our return to this fine institution, and the possibility of you getting a hottie extraordinaire roommate.”
“Serena, Serena, Serena. Don’t pretend like you haven’t been through as many guys as I have girls.”
“I have not slept with the entire student body, let alone the teachers. Stop being an ass.”
“Where’s the fun in that?” he asks, and then pauses. “Where’s Nate, anyway? I’m bored of you after all winter break.”
“Your boyfriend is studying in his room, Chuck.”
“Did you finally put him out of his misery and bone him, sis?”
“He’s my friend, Chuck, come on. You need food if you think I’m going to sleep with him.” She grabs his scarf and yanks on it. “Dining hall.”
“That’s what sisters are for, asshole.”
“Language,” Chuck says calmly, following her to the dining hall. It’s pretty empty, only a few scholarship kids here and there that can’t afford to go home for break. “Why did Nate want to come back so early?” Chuck moans into his cup of coffee after surveying the nearly empty dining hall five times and finding it lacking.
“He said something about studying.” Serena takes a sip of her water, trying to ignore her rising ire.
“Your breasts, maybe.”
“Shut up. Why’d you get Mom and Bart to send us back early if you’re just going to whine about it? Furthermore, after your scheme to stay in the city worked, why didn’t you just stay there?” Serena asks viciously, stabbing her food with her fork. How many times does she have to tell him? Never mind that she does go to Nate’s room whenever she can’t sleep, but it’s not like that’s sexual. It’s just… them.
“I missed your smiling face, sis. Thought I’d see what this new roommate of yours looked like, if she’s any better than those bitches in the city.”
“Amanda fell through? And Elena? Gee, I’m surprised.”
“Thanks to you, again. So you’ll understand why I’ve come to torment you and seduce your new roommate.”
“Seriously Chuck, she could be ugly.” Serena stabs her salad with her fork, trying to ignore her stupid brother. Eric is not this difficult. She can’t wait until next year, when Eric comes here and they can be siblings again. Chuck behaves himself a little more with Eric around. True, the downside is that Eric now has some Chuck tendencies that he never had in early childhood, but she supposes that can’t be helped. At least he has some male role models now, instead of their absentee dad.
“Doesn’t matter, as long as it pisses you off.”
Serena rolls her eyes at Chuck’s pronouncement. “Nothing will ever piss me off as much as the fact that our promiscuous parents have managed to stay monogamous and married, so I’m stuck with you for the rest of my life.”
“Same. And why are you wearing that ugly beret?” Chuck says, sneering.
“Bart bought it for me for Christmas, which was better than your freaking bordello pillows. They don’t even match my color scheme here, Chuck!”
“Just because you want to walk around looking like a gay fruitcake does not mean I want my room to clash! I have to get rid of them before my roommate shows up and thinks I have no taste.”
“You do have no taste.”
“I don’t know why I even bother with you,” she says, huffing. “Now eat your mac and cheese, Chuck, ‘cause you’re kind of schwasted.”
“Only kind of? I must be slipping,” he says, waggling his eyebrows at her.
“You haven’t even gone into your rant about how they call this glop food yet. You’re slipping.”
“I’ve grown accustomed to the slop, daresay I might have even missed it over break.”
“Chuck Bass, you big softie,” she says, laughing.
The driver's name is Vanya, and he waxes poetic about some Polish duchess or queen (do they even still have queens? Blair should know, but she's forgotten. Royalty is less interesting when it isn't Grace Kelly) as he carries her bags into her new room.
"Huh," she ponders, walking into the room. There's a large window with bright turquoise curtains (those will have to go, or get muted somehow. Turquoise is not Blair's color). Light spills over a messy desk, strewn with notebooks, papers, a bag of Goldfish crackers half eaten, scarves, and a bright pink laptop. The made bed by the messy desk is covered with a psychedelic bedspread. Photographs litter the wall behind it, mostly of an attractive blonde (her roommate, she suspects,) and two boys.
"Vanya, it's like the seventies threw up in here! I can't live like this!"
"Kind of looks more 80s, Miss Blair," he says, and she stamps her feet.
"It's not Tiffany's blue, or soothing pastels. I can't do it! Call my mother."
"Now, now Miss Blair, you said you would try."
She huffs, sitting down on the one lone bare mattress in the corner. The other bed is set up to look like a bordello or some sort of prostitute couch, covered in throw pillows in hedonistic fabrics.
"Fine, but I want that bed. There are three beds in here, and I was only told about one roommate," she says calmly, walking over to the bordello bed and ripping the pillows off. She throws them at the bare bed, barely missing Vanya's head, and ignores his panicked cries of "Miss Blair!"
He's worked for her family... well, actually he hasn't worked for her family very long. Her mother's new business partner Bart Bass donated Vanya to her mother while her father was moving. That's right, no wonder he's such a panicked worrywart.
"Just carry the rest of the bags in Vanya," she says, rolling her eyes. "I'll take care of things up here." Blair makes a waving motion with her hands and mutters under her breath "don't know why my mother can never hire women servants, especially since my father wouldn't run off with them and they would understand about color schemes!"
"What about color schemes?" Serena van der Woodsen asks, hands on her hips.
"This! This is completely wrong!"
"Well, thank you for your opinion on my room. I'll be sure to take that under advisement when I redecorate after I kick you out."
"Kick me out? This is my room."
"Did they not tell you that you had a roommate whose stuff you are currently tossing around? Or did you think they just decorated the room in honor of your arrival?"
Blair pauses, her mouth in an 'o.'
"So you're the mistress of the garish room, and my roommate? Serena, was it?" she says after a moment, looking down at her clipboard.
"They told me I was getting a roommate named Blair, not some control freak wedding planner with a clipboard."
"I like being organized."
"We are not going to get along," Serena says, shaking her head and walking over to her desk.
"I apologize for my actions in stripping your bed-couch of those godawful throw pillows, but they clearly did not match with the rest of your decor. Really? Red and gold pillows with turquoise curtains and all your pink and brown?"
Serena laughs, a real hearty laugh, and smiles at her new roommate through her open mouth.
"You are absolutely right. I kind of hated those pillows. My stupid stepbrother redecorated that bed for my Christmas present and I didn't know how to tell him they did not match with my decor, and I didn't want a stupid bordello couch in my room anyway! I'd much rather have pushed together the beds for a super bed anyway. So I guess you did me a favor."
"Well, the couch idea isn't a bad one, especially not if we use that bed in the corner and make that kind of our living room, but we will have to get some tastefully matching curtains and pillows. Where is there to shop in this place?"
"The Pottery Barn catalog?"
"But those shops in town that I drove by?"
"Suck. But I'll take you down to them after you finish unpacking if you want. We've got free time, since most people won't be back until Sunday.”
“I’m sure we can find something we agree on, no matter how much the stores suck.”
“I think we’ll have better luck at pursuing IKEA catalogs while drunk, but we can always do that after.” Serena smiles. Living with a roommate might not actually be terrible. Blair seems to have a decent sense of style, if her wardrobe she’s unpacking is any indication, and she already thinks Chuck has terrible taste, so she might not fall prey to his dubious charms. Serena stopped counting how many female friends she lost because of her stupid stepbrother. She stopped trying to make new friends after the last two threw drinks in her face because of Chuck. Nate’s safer, even if it’s hard not to kiss him when she’s stoned. Boys are safer.
But maybe Blair will be different. She seems smart and capable. Kind of bossy, but oooh---
“Are those the new Louboutins?” she squeals.
“My mom got them for me. Divorce and sending me away to boarding school guilt,” Blair answers. “Are your earrings Tiffany?”
Serena nods. Oh, she hopes things work out with this girl.
And then Blair pulls Kahlua and Baileys out of her purse and she’s pretty sure they will.
“White Russian?” Blair asks sweetly.
“I have some champagne in the mini-fridge,” Serena offers. “And the IKEA catalogue.”
“A toast then,” Blair says. “To this friendship.”
They smile at each other as they clink coffee mugs full of Baileys together. This might be something, Serena thinks. Something special.
“Serena,” a boy calls, popping his head around the door.
“She’s in the shower,” Blair answers. This must be the brother, since Serena never mentioned a boyfriend, and who else would be so familiar with Serena to pop in without knocking? He’s cute, she thinks. They even kind of look alike for steps. She already knows he’s ridiculously photogenic, from all the pictures plastered above Serena’s bed, and she’s kind of sickened by how cute their family Christmas cards must be.
It’s pathetic, but Blair’s used to being the pretty one, and Serena’s gorgeous.
“Oh,” he says, blushing. “Do you mind if I wait for her? We’re supposed to be riding this afternoon.”
“Not at all,” she says. “Do you hang out a lot?” she asks. Blair got the impression that Serena and her brother didn’t really hang out all that much, even though he’s in all those pictures. Seems strange that they’d go riding together.
“Of course,” he says. “She’s my best friend.”
“That’s really sweet,” Blair remarks. She’s pretty sure she would not be best friends with her siblings, but that’s mostly because she’s used to being the center of her parents’ world. Kindergarten did not exactly impart the sharing lessons that well.
Toys, maybe, but Blair’s pretty sure it would’ve been a Machiavellian nursery with a sibling around.
He sits on the edge of Serena’s bed, twiddling his thumbs. He looks comfortable in the room, but not comfortable with her being here, which is odd. Blair got the impression from Serena that her brother wasn’t afraid of anything.
“You got rid of the bordello pillows, I see,” he remarks after awhile.
“Mmm, yes,” she says. “They didn’t really match with the décor. Sorry about that.”
“Don’t be sorry, they were god awful,” he says with a laugh.
“Then why did you pick them out for her?” Blair inquires. They must have some sick sort of sibling relationship. She’s heard about these practical joke things between siblings. He better not try that sort of thing while Blair is around.
“I tried to talk Chuck out of them, man, but he insisted that Serena was a hedonist just like he was and needed a room to match. Their family is just weird like that,” he says, shrugging.
“Oh,” Blair says. “You’re Nate.”
He looks at her, surprised, and then realization dawns on his face. “You thought I was Chuck, didn’t you.”
“Well you look so much alike,” she says, twisting her hands.
“Chuck and Serena are stepsiblings. I’m surprised she called him her brother.”
“I think she said both? I’m not sure. There was Kahlua involved, although I shouldn’t be admitting that.”
“Don’t worry, I won’t tell,” Nate says. “Scouts honor.”
“Pinky promise instead? I never was a scout.” Blair holds out her pinky.
“Neither was I,” he says, laughing and grabbing her pinky with his own.
Serena walks in in a towel, her hair dripping all over the carpet.
“Natie!” she cries, beaming. “You’re early! Or maybe I’m late. Sorry. Hold on,” she says, climbing into her closet. “Blair, that’s Nate, my best friend,” she calls from inside.
“We’ve been introduced,” Blair says. “Kind of.”
“She thought I was Chuck,” Nate says, amusement in his voice.
“Ewwww,” Serena says, and Blair can hear her nose wrinkling in her tone.
“Well, you do look alike,” Blair says soothingly.
“Kind of, I guess. How do I look?” Serena says, stepping out of the closet.
“Perfect, like always,” Nate says. “It doesn’t matter, you’re only going to get dirty again.”
“I was asking Blair, Nate. That’s what roommates are supposed to do.”
“You always look perfect, Serena.” Nate sighs.
“You look good,” Blair says, and it’s true. It’s a simple riding outfit, but it fits her gorgeously, and she’s managed to braid her wet hair into a side braid and stuff her breeches into a pair of riding boots in less than two minutes in a dark closet. Blair never has managed to get ready for anything in less than a half hour. It’s not quite fair, but Blair would never go out with wet hair or be less than punctual, either.
“Thanks, B,” Serena says, giving her a wide smile. “Come on, Natie, let’s go!”
Blair watches in amazement as Serena grabs Nate by the hand and bounds off. Where this girl gets her energy from, Blair wants to know. With two Kahlua and Cokes, Blair feels like hiding in bed all day, yet this girl doesn’t seem remotely hung over. It’s not fair.
She picks up her hairbrush and starts fiddling with her hair.
Serena watches as Nate saddles up his horse. She feels faintly bad about leaving Blair alone, but this date (not that it’s a date) with Nate has been planned for weeks, and Blair hadn’t sounded enthusiastic about horses anyway. Serena might have been drunk, but she thinks she remembers the words “only if they’re pulling my horse drawn carriage on my romantic out of a movie scene proposal am I ever getting near one of those things again.”
Serena hadn’t realized you could have plans for your engagement, but Serena’s also never had a long-term boyfriend; Or wanted one, really. Nate and Chuck have always provided male companionship, and the guys she dated always ended up jealous of their closeness.
She remembers one time last year, when she and Georgie had gone to a barn party with Chuck and the guy Serena was seeing that week, how jealous Matt—or was it Mark?-- had gotten over Nate even being there.
“It’s a soccer party, of course Nate’s here,” she’d said, not as soothingly as she’d intended. It was the third time this year one of her dates had gotten weird.
Georgina and Chuck had been fighting as usual, and not for the first time Serena had wished she had normal friends, ones who didn’t sleep with everything that moves and make a game out of it. At the time they were plotting on seducing their German teacher in tandem, which she still found disgusting.
She watched Mike—Mitch?—storm off into the forest to get a beer from the keg, then jumped at Nate’s hand on the small of her back.
“What’re they fighting about?” he whispered in her ear. She had looked askance at him, smiling.
“Over how best to seduce Frau Olsen,” she said, wrinkling her nose in distaste.
“Where’s Max?” Ahhh, that was it. Max.
“Went to get a beer or stomped off in a jealous rage, you pick.”
“Knowing your luck, a little of both,” Nate said, squeezing her waist. “You’ll find a good one.”
“Nate, you might be the only good guy in all of the East Coast, other than Eric.”
He laughed, nervously, and shrugged. She rested her head on his shoulder for a second, still clutching her full beer.
“You wanna bail out of here, go riding?”
“It’s a little dark for that, but we’ll go tomorrow,” he laughed.
Funny, they’d gone riding after that too.
She swings her leg up onto Peaches without help from Nate, waiting for him to lead his Spanish Mustang out of the stables.
“You give her a name yet?”
“I was thinking Cream, maybe?”
“Cute,” Serena laughs. “Only problem is that she’s brown.”
Nate gives her a wry grin. “And Peaches is peach-colored?”
“No, but that’s a term of endearment anyway.”
“I’m sure Cream could become a term of endearment. Creamy, would you pass me my helmet? Creamy, you’re so pretty? Creamy, let’s get married. See?”
Serena shakes her head, unconvinced. “Come on, Creamsicle, let’s get this show on the road,” she says instead of an answer.
They ride in silence for a while, enjoying the snow covered grounds. It’s picture postcard pretty, white hiding shocks of evergreens and bare maple branches. The sky is still grey, another storm looming, and they might be snowed in their first week back—all the more time for hot chocolate and studying, he thinks.
“You excited about Blair now that you’ve met her?” he asks, after they’ve ridden past school grounds and are out in the open.
“She seems pretty nice,” Serena says non-committally. “Mellow.”
“I’m not sure mellow is the word I’d use.”
“Compared to Georgina?”
“Okay, compared to your crazy freshman year roommate, yes, Blair is mellow.”
“Chuck’s going to fall in love with her though,” Serena remarks, brushing a strand of hair off her face with her gloved hand.
“Chuck falls ‘in love’ with every girl he meets. That’s hardly anything new.”
“No, he’s going to fall in love hard,” she predicts. “I wish it was spring so we could jump.” Her cheeks are flushed from the cold and there are golden strands flying out from under her helmet.
“Soon enough,” Nate says, smiling at her.
Chuck Bass is waiting. He’s been waiting since his sister dropped the news over family Christmas (about the only time they spend as a family, Dad even takes the day off work, and Serena had to go spend the entire day not whining exactly, but something remarkably close).
And now here she is, pretty as a painting from the Romantics. Her black and white Mary Jane pumps clack against the cobblestones (pointless vanity from the school) as she talks with his sister, clutching an oversized bag (Serena’s, no doubt, even without having met her he can’t see her owning it), hands tucked into kid gloves. He can see her not out of place in a turn of the century romance, sleigh bells and a white fur muff.
He shakes his head. He’d never fit in that scenario. She’s going to be a challenge, and if there’s anything he hasn’t had in a long time, it’s a challenge.
“Blair Waldorf, I presume,” he says, walking up to her with a hand outstretched.
“And you must be Chuck Bass,” Blair says, keeping her hands at her sides.
“How did you know?” He’s not surprised, exactly, but he’s intrigued.
“Serena warned me about you,” she says. Her hand moves, and he thinks maybe she’s going to finally shake his hand, but she pulls it back and touches her headband instead.
“Did she?” Chuck’s tone is neutral.
“And what, exactly, did my darling stepsister say about me?” he asks, slinking around Blair like a cat on the prowl. It’s pretty much what he is. There hasn’t been a girl this interesting at Waverly… well, ever. Even the girls that played hard to get always fell for his charms eventually.
Then again, Serena’d never warned any girls off either. He’d have to remember to get his sister back eventually.
“That you’re a perv,” Serena interjects.
“Please, we all know your boy toy is the real perv, sis.”
“Nate is a gentleman, Chuck.”
“Only a real perv could put up with the years of blue balls you’ve provided.”
“God you’re gross.”
Blair says nothing throughout the exchange and stands just watching the insults fly back and forth with a slight smile on her lips.
“So, Miss Waldorf,” Chuck says instead of replying to Serena, “What brings you to Waverly?”
“Divorcing parents, you know the deal.”
“Unfortunately, no, but my darling stepsister does. Hadn’t Lily been married to half the tri-state area before settling on my father?”
“Twice, and it’s not like your father didn’t date around just as much. He just never found anyone he liked enough to put a ring on until he met my mom.”
“Touché,” Chuck says, and the siblings share a wry smile.
“So where are you two beautiful ladies off to on this fine afternoon?”
“I’m showing Blair the town and the complete lack of acceptable stores therein.”
“Serena makes it sound like we’re living in the dark ages with nothing to do and nowhere to go,” Blair says, her dark eyes shining with amusement.
“That’s because she doesn’t spend enough time with me,” Chuck says, grabbing Blair’s hand and pulling it up to his lips. “You’ll have to come with me to the barn party next weekend. It’s the place to be,” he says, still holding on to her hand.
“No. Thank you,” Blair says, tugging her hand out of his grasp while Serena looks on with trepidation mixed with amusement.
“Come on, S, let’s go,” she says, easily using Serena’s nickname.
Serena shrugs at Chuck. “See you later, bro,” she says, waving, and then walks away with her new roommate.
The village is tiny. Blair can see that Serena really wasn’t kidding about having better luck in the IKEA catalogue. Still, Serena drags her in and out of several stores until stopping and lingering in a tiny boutique filled with clothes. Blair stares at the variety—some new stuff she would actually wear, some cute vintage dresses, probably leftover from former students, and then ugly things she imagines only Goodwill stores would want.
Serena’s been kind of quiet during their shopping trip, mostly pointing out places of interest, so Blair’s a little taken aback when Serena bursts out with: “So what did you think of my stepbrother?”
“He’s kind of… slimy. No offense.”
“None taken, I wouldn’t want to date him either,” Serena says, shrugging. “What about Nate?”
“You two are cute together,” Blair says.
“We’re not like that,” Serena protests, putting down the cashmere sweater she’d been holding.
“I know, that’s what you said,” Blair says. “But you’re still cute together as friends.”
“Oh… that makes sense, I guess.” Serena fingers the cashmere and avoids looking at Blair. Why does everyone always think she and Nate are together? She hasn’t had a date all year because everyone thinks she’s in love with Nate, and she told Blair as much last night.
Her phone chimes before she can make a more coherent response, and her fingers quickly type a reply.
“Archibald, you have to help me.”
“I don’t have to do anything,” Nate says, taking a hit off the joint Chuck had rolled.
“You’re smoking my weed, Archibald, the least you can do is figure out why my sister decided to sabotage my future with Blair Waldorf?”
“She’s saving Blair for me, bro,” Nate says, chuckling.
Chuck takes the outstretched joint and shakes his head. “Not likely.”
“Perfectly likely. She does like me better than you.”
“Exactly my point. She’s far more likely to throw girls my way because of that simple fact. Serena wants you all to herself, and she’s sent more than one girl my way because of it.”
“Where’d you get this weed, Chuck? ‘Cause you’ve gone off the deep end.”
“From your secret patch in the woods.”
“Really,” Chuck says flatly.
“Well that kind of puts my career as a drug dealer on hold if we’re getting high on my own supply.”
“You don’t need to resort to illegal activities to make a buck, you know.”
“I suspect it’s in my blood, but I was probably going to smoke most of it myself anyway, so no big,” Nate says, shrugging. It’s true; his dad has been in jail for embezzling since he was young, and his grandfather swooped in and took care of Nate’s education. His mother is a typical WASP now, unable to cope with the realities of life without prescription drugs.
Nate’s not entirely sure his grandfather is any less crooked than his father, given how heavily the Van der Bilts are embroiled in politics, so Nate just plans to keep his scholarship and get one to college, and stay far away from his family drama.
“Archibald, you were never going to be a drug dealer. That’s for kids from Jersey who hang out by pizza parlors and have bad skin. Now help me with Waldorf.”
“Well, I do have excellent skin, so clearly my career choice needs rethinking. I’m just not sure that matchmaker is next on the list, Bass,” Nate says, taking another drag off the joint.
“Get your girlfriend on it if you have to. She turned me down, Nate.”
“Serena’s still not my girlfriend, Chuck.”
“She would be if you’d ask her already. Can we get back to the part where I, Chuck Bass, got turned down?”
“Oh no, the great Chuck Bass who hasn’t done anything other than smoke weed and eat gummy bears with me in six months got turned down by Serena’s new roommate. Dude, I’m sure Serena’s told her all the shitty things you’ve done in the past… your entire life.”
“It’s Serena. She works fast.”
“It does run in the family.” Chuck takes a drag off the joint, contemplating his next move. “Serena said they were going into town tonight.”
Nate groans. “Fine,” he says, grabbing his phone and sending off a quick text. “We can meet them at the pizza parlor at six.”
Chuck looks stunned for a moment, then gives Nate a fist bump.
“This almost makes up for this,” Chuck says, waving a letter in the air.
“What is that?” Nate asks lazily, not bothering to get up for a closer look.
“It’s a letter informing me I’m getting a new roommate. I paid for that single, you know.”
“More like your dad did, and isn’t it in your contract that they can give you a roommate when necessary?”
“Yes, but who transfers into boarding school in the middle of the year?”
“Your future girlfriend did,” Nate points out.
“Yes, but she’s a girl, not living with me, and hot. The world needs more transfers like Waldorf.”
“So it’s fine to have midyear transfers as long as they aren’t guys?”
“As long as they aren’t living with me and aren’t competition.”
“Right. Remind me why we’re friends?”
“I was always hoping you’d have a disfiguring accident, but then I saw how obsessed you were with my sister, so you’re really not competition.”
“I am not obsessed with Serena.”
“Please, have you ever jerked off to anyone besides her?”
“Yes--” Nate starts to say.
“Celebrities don’t count,” Chuck interrupts. “Real girls you know only.”
Nate just glares in lieu of a response.
“Pity, we’ve had some hot teachers.”
“Shut up Chuck. Don’t you have some grooming to do before we go meet the girls?”
“I should find my scarf, it is my signature and I haven’t seen it since Christmas.”
“Don’t bother, I burnt it as a Christmas present for Serena,” Nate says.
“…I am going to kill you later.”
“You stole my weed and tried to pass it off as your own to get me to do this favor for you, we’re even.”
“But that was my signature scarf!”
“Chuck, you have no taste. Serena and I did you a favor,” Nate says, pulling on his cashmere scarf that Serena bought him for Christmas. It matches the sweater she got him. It’s kind of sickening, in a cute way.
“And you say you aren’t dating her,” Chuck says, throwing on his overcoat. “Fine, I’ll wear this one she got me for Christmas and we can match, Nathaniel, how do you feel about that?”
“Absolutely fine, as long as I hear no Serena and I dating jokes tonight, or have to see that eyesore scarf ever again.”
“My scarf was not an eyesore. It was fine Italian silk.”
“Everyone knows that Italians have no sense of style.”
“Says the guy still wearing polo shirts year round.”
“Whatever,” Nate says and reaches over to mess up Chuck’s hair. “Let’s go meet the future Mrs. Bass.”
The pizza shack at Waverly is nothing special. Serena knows that Chuck, and most likely Blair, wouldn’t be caught dead in a similar place in the city. Still, Serena likes it for its unpretentiousness, the jukebox in the corner, and yeah, their pizza isn’t half bad. She makes Nate come with her when they come into town for books or new clothes or general boredom alleviation.
Serena laughs after Chuck waves a letter in her face. “They’re giving you a roommate?”
Chuck glares at his sister. “It’s not funny.”
“It’s kind of funny,” she says, sprinkling oregano on her slice and then following with red pepper flakes.
“Apparently he’s some scholarship kid that just applied, so mine was the only room left. You’d think with all my money I could keep a single room.”
“A single room, Chuck, but you had a double as a single. Now I guess it’s my turn to hit on your roommate to piss you off.” Serena smirks at him.
“It’s not my fault Blair’s so into me.”
“She’s into you about as much as I am, Chuck, so you’re wasting your time,” she says, glancing over at Blair and Nate. They’re huddled around the jukebox in intense discussion.
“Then why’d she agree to come to the barn party with me?” he asks, looking over at Blair.
“Probably because that’s the only way she thinks she’s going to it? And she’s very polite, Chuck. Unlike you, her parents managed to teach her some manners.”
“I met her first.”
“She’s hot, Chuck, guys are going to be all over her. She’s new and pretty and interesting, and you know it’s been a cesspool of sameness for the past year and a half. Besides, do you really think you can topple any upperclassmen that want her?”
“I have an ace in the hole, Serena.”
“And what’s that? Dirty blackmail pictures of the senior boys? Like that’ll do any good.”
“No. I have you, her roommate.”
“Ew. Like I’m helping you date my only chance at an actual, real, non-stupid female friend.”
“I’m your brother, you know.”
“Step, Bass, and you owe me for giving me those bordello pillows, which she hated as well, by the way.”
“Duly noted, I will have to work on her lack of style.”
“God, could you be any more gross? Nate, will you do something about your stupid best friend?” she calls out to Nate as he walks up.
“Serena, you’re not stupid, although it is grosser.” he quips, and she shakes her head, grabbing his arm.
“Not funny, he’s going after my roommate already!”
“Well, she is the only attractive female here he hasn’t slept with, present company excluded on obvious reasons,” Nate says as he slides back into the booth next to her.
“Now, now, Nate. As pretty as you are, you’re still not a girl,” Chuck jokes, and Serena shoots him an exasperated look.
“You see? Blair can’t date that.”
“That was pretty tame, S. You’re just letting him work you up.”
“I like her, Nate, and he wants to ruin everything by having a one-night stand!”
“Maybe I don’t,” Chuck interjects.
“Of course you want to sleep with her Chuck, it’s all you’ve been talking about for three days! Before you even met her you were talking about it!”
“I don’t just want to sleep with her.”
“That would be a first,” Nate says.
“Things change,” Chuck says, shrugging his shoulders and glancing over at Blair, who’s smiling at the counter boy who is refilling her soda. Refilling her soda and giving her a bottle of red wine, how did she manage that? Chuck’s never been able to get them to serve him alcohol here, they’ve laughed at every fake he’s tried.
“Ta-da!” Blair says, brandishing the bottle of wine as she sits back down at the table.
“Score!” Nate exclaims. “How’d you manage that?”
“I guess ‘cause I’m a transfer he didn’t realize I was younger?” Blair guesses. Serena laughs.
“He’s totally into you, B.”
Blair blushes at Serena’s statement. “I don’t think that’s it.”
“He’s definitely into brunettes, he’s never let me get away with it,” Serena says simply.
“Well, cheers,” Blair says instead of a reply, pouring wine into their empty water glasses.
“Cheers,” Chuck replies, glaring over at the counter boy. Serena and Nate’s echoed “cheers” barely register.