She was bulimic.
The door of the bathroom that held testament to that fact slammed behind Chuck as he left.
For some reason, he couldn’t think. Wouldn’t think, wouldn’t let the message enter his mind.
He just had to tell Serena, tell Nate; her best friend, her boyfriend.
They could deal with it. He wasn’t anything to her.
He felt something pull on his sleeve before he managed to get to her bedroom door, the one that lead to the hallway which would take him down to the two clueless blonds.
“What?!” He barked, turning round to face Blair sharply.
She blinked at him, took a deep breath, but didn’t flinch.
“Please,” She whispered, her eyes large. “Please.”
Chuck knew what she was asking.
Blair kept hold of his sleeve, her small hand trembling.
Her whole body was tense.
Again, it had happened again.
Chuck had walked in on it again.
Chuck knew what he had walked in on; he knew, therefore, what she was asking now.
“Please what?” He pressed, his eyes cold and set.
Blair couldn’t answer.
She knew what he wanted to hear, though she didn’t know why he wanted to hear it.
Chuck raised one eyebrow, tilted his chin up, and pushed her hand off of him.
“Don’t tell them!”
His hand was on the door handle when he heard her cry.
“Don’t tell them, okay?!”
Her eyes were luminous, the rims beginning to glitter wet.
“Don’t tell them what, Blair?”
“What you just saw. In the bathroom.” She whispered, looking at the floor.
Chuck glanced back then, at the door he had managed to leave.
His jaw clenched.
“What did I see in there?”
He turned to face Blair again, ready to keep pressing her until she actually said outwardly what she had done.
Except when he turned to face her, she lifted her head to face him back; and it stopped him from continuing.
This was Blair, Blair Waldorf, the perfect one.
Stood in front of him, her face vulnerable and dampening with the tears she usually refused to let fall.
Something shifted inside him as he recognised that look on her face.
In the bathroom at school, when he had caught her doing the same thing though oblivious that he had. She had said something.
“Nobody else has to try hard! Nate was on the lacrosse team in two days and had everyone’s attention. You knew half the senior year personally by the end of the summer. Serena- Serena’s just Serena. Everybody knows Serena. How can I keep up if I don’t try?”
All traces of anger left him as those words played over and over, and Blair stood by, looking so scared.
He had had no idea what he had meant when he had said she was trying too hard earlier.
“You know what you saw.” Blair eventually whispered tentatively.
He just didn’t understand why she would feel the need to try so hard that she would go this far.
“I have no idea what I just saw.” He replied, taking her small wrist and encircling it with his hand.
Blair’s gaze flicked down to his motion, hesitant for a second.
“I want you to tell me why I saw what I did, though.”
Chuck tried to speak slowly and gently, after reacting so harshly just minutes ago.
Blair bit her lip, but relented, and followed Chuck over to her bed and sat beside him.
She played with her fingers, stroking each on her left hand with the index finger of her right before clasping them.
Chuck stared at her expectantly.
“I don’t know.” She sighed.
“Yes you do. How long?”
“Two days. Three times.”
“You promise that’s all?”
Blair nodded sincerely, and any disbelief Chuck had held he let go of.
There was nothing to disbelieve; it had started in their first week at High School, on the fourth day.
Two days after Nate joined the lacrosse team, the day Serena’s deflowering was blogged.
The day after Blair started acting so forced and perfect.
“Why, Blair? It wasn’t going to change anything.”
“I already told you, I just don’t know. Everything was different, and everything was horrible, and I-”
Blair stopped to catch her breath. She didn’t like crying in front of anyone, least of all Chuck.
She and Chuck didn’t cry with each other.
They went to each other to stop crying and work to get back at the people who made them want to cry instead.
He was the last person she wanted to tell about her mother being her mother, or about the argument she had gotten her daddy into with her mother, the argument that had first arose two days ago and pushed her over the edge and into the bathroom.
It would ruin their whatever it was they had between them.
“I really can’t talk about it. I’m sorry.”
Chuck had been watching her before she spoke again, and saw a flash of thoughts pass through her eyes.
He knew Blair’s little moment from earlier in the day held a lot of clues to how this slowly developing disaster had started, but he also knew that there must be more.
More that she wasn’t ready to talk about.
“Don’t worry.” He said, half regretfully.
He didn’t want to watch Blair turn into another Upper East Side victim; there was an appeal that Chuck found in the artificiality of it all, but there was also darker side that he hated. Somebody close to him had fallen victim to it.
“Just promise me,” He continued, meeting her gaze and keeping it. “Just promise me that you will not lock yourself in that bathroom and hurt yourself anymore.”
The muscles in Blair’s neck visibly tensed as she swallowed.
This was all too familiar to her, making a promise. She had made the same promise to Serena, and had been unable to keep to it.
Making one to Chuck would be no different, though she wished for the sake of herself now that it would be.
Chuck saw the muscles tense, and knew she couldn’t promise; knew there was a chance she would break that promise.
Blair was anything but dishonest to him.
“Fine,” He nodded. “If you can’t promise this, then promise me if it happens again you wont keep it a secret; you’ll tell somebody and we’ll talk about it.”
Blair half smiled.
“Chuck, I don’t want to have a conversation like this with you again.”
“I know. So make the promise, and think about how you’ll never have to.”
He smirked at her, the smirk reserved for her and her only.
Blair felt the mood lighten, and knew that though the two options she had felt impossible; do something she wasn’t sure she could, or do something she would hate, he had picked them because he wasn’t going to let her continue with what was wrong.
The touching feeling of knowing that somebody even cared, be it Chuck Bass, actually forced a full smile onto her face.
“Everything has to be a riddle with you,” She laughed quietly, nervously glancing at him from beneath her eyelashes. “I know the answer to this one, and I know it’s what’s right- which is why I’m going to promise.”
Chuck breathed, relieved that she had promised and that the tension was lessening as a result.
“Good. However,” He had one last thing to say, that put him in the awkward situation and on the spot. “The way I reacted to this, I’m sorry. I just didn’t want to accept that I had seen what I had, and I acted in way I shouldn’t. I won’t tell Nate or Serena, it’s not up to me to.”
Blair felt that touched feeling grow inside her, and couldn’t answer for a second.
Then his last sentence reregistered, and the soft, numb feeling that she didn’t understand was lost.
“Chuck, are they still downstairs?”
His eyes widened, and he glanced at her carriage clock.
“Blair, don’t worry, I won’t tell them.” He stood up, feeling shaken after the uncharacteristically deep conversation had vanished so suddenly. “I’ll cover, I’ll go with them and make sure they go home. That’s as much as I can do.”
Blair nodded, and stood up and followed him to the door.
Just as he put his hand on the handle to open it and leave, she came closer to him and, without hesitation, wrapped her arms around him.
Chuck stood still for a second as Blair whispered her thanks and embraced him, but soon responded to her action and held her close.
The past half an hour had been different enough, and Blair always had been a contact type of person who like people to show that they cared.
Which, he was beginning to realise, he did.
Then she pulled away, and he accepted her smile with a nod of reassurance before leaving.
Blair had sat tensely in her room for an hour after she was left alone, but she wasn’t disturbed.
She didn’t know how he had done it, but Chuck always came through.
It was just after six, and not a school night. Despite that, bed seemed tempting to Blair.
The day could count as more than long, and she was exhausted.
She changed quickly, and settled under her comforter with her DVD player on top. Roman Holiday had offered comfort earlier, now she was going to try Funny Face.
Sleep took over her before the movie started.
Early next morning, Blair was woken up by her cell phone indicating that it had received a message.
She murmured in annoyance, but stretched over to pick up the phone.
B, what was going on between you and C last night?? S
Careful not to reveal anything that may contradict any story Chuck had given Serena and Nate the night before, Blair typed out a quick reply.
Nothing. Mom calling, have to go. Call you later. B
Once the phone’s outbox cleared as the text sent, she sat it back on her nightstand and slipped herself out of bed.
Her head hurt.
Possibly due to her being sick twice the day before. Then talking about it with Chuck.
She didn’t know which was worse.
But she had promised, now. Serena and Chuck. Never again.
Or at least, never again without another extremely awkward conversation that was not to be repeated.
She didn’t want to be sick, anyway. It was horrible.
Blair kept thought of as many words to describe how very bad and wrong and it was as she went downstairs.
Eleanor’s voice struck her when she walked down to the lounge area.
“Dorota, you finish the plans; and remind me to never hold another party that requires combining business with pleasure!”
The Hungarian maid nodded meekly, and took the folder Eleanor was holding.
“Mom, what are you doing?”
Blair’s mother twitched at the sight of her daughter.
“Just planning a party to be held here, a week today. Call it a debut celebration, for the opening of my fifth store in New York,” Eleanor indicated for Blair to sit beside her on the sofa. “It’s not important at the moment, though. What is, is my apology to you, for yesterday.”
Eleanor smiled at her daughter, and tucked a chocolate curl that had fallen forward behind her ear.
Blair blinked at the soft contact.
“Yes. Dorota made me aware that you heard snatches of your father’s and my creative discussion, so I have no hesitation in explaining that my responses to you last night were an after affect of that. You’re too young to understand how stressful relations can be, especially when they hit a minor rough patch. I said things to you yesterday in the midst of that, which I shouldn’t have. I’m sorry, and I care about you very much, Blair.”
It was robotic and rehearsed, but it was an apology; more than Blair had expected from her mother.
Besides, she did understand stressful relations, and minor rough patches.
Nate hadn’t wanted to do anything alone as a couple for weeks, and they had barely spoken as friends, let alone boyfriend and girlfriend, for just as long. If that wasn’t a rough patch, Blair didn’t know what was; and it was certainly very stressful.
Then there was sex, or the lack of it on her part.
Maybe Nate was bored of her.
It all made her sigh a little, and for once Eleanor noticed her daughter’s mood drop- she was sat next to her and giving her full attention.
“Is there something we need to talk about?”
Blair looked up, and shook her head.
“No, not really.” She said softly, thinking fast for a topic change.
Her mother would probably never let her near Nate again if she knew she was thinking about sex.
“Well, actually,” There was something she had been thinking about otherwise, that her mother could answer. “What happened with you and daddy when you stopped arguing yesterday?”
Eleanor blanched at the question.
“We were not arguing,” She said crisply. “It was a creative discussion. After which, your father went to the office to finish up a contract outline. He came home on time.”
Eleanor almost sounded as though she added that part for her own benefit, her eyes losing focus slightly as though talking to herself.
“He’s resting for the morning, but after lunch you two are spending the afternoon together, your choice of activity. It was his idea, he feels he hasn’t seen you enough.”
Blair couldn’t stop the smile.
Despite knowing her daddy had most likely only arranged it because of the words her mother had repeated to him the day before, she did love one on one time with him.
They could go shopping, and she could be the perfect daughter and make up for causing arguments between her parents.
“Is that okay with you?” Eleanor checked as an afterthought.
“It sounds perfect.” Blair confirmed.
The buzz was still there even on Monday.
The buzz of a weekend well spent; time with her daddy on Saturday, then time with both of her parents on Sunday.
That hadn’t happened since she was little.
No arguments at all.
Finally things were looking up; and she hadn’t gone down on her promise.
She hoped Chuck hadn’t doubted her, because she hadn’t seen him in the morning to disperse any fears. She had been late, only just arriving in time for the bell.
Monday was the day.
All projects, on the steps, for the final selection.
She had to look perfect.
After half an hour of outfit selection, and then a further hour and a half doing hair and make up, she was convinced she did.
Her good weekend had brightened her perspective and made the process easier than she had expected.
“Blair, why didn’t you call me?” Serena hissed when Blair sat down next to her in homeroom.
“Nate and I were so worried when Chuck came down after trying to get you to talk for half an hour. He said you didn’t want to see or talk to anyone. What happened?”
Their homeroom tutor came in then, and silenced them all to take the register.
Blair leaned over to Serena’s desk.
“Nothing, like I said. I just felt so ill when I came home, and was sick again. I wasn’t in the right state to see people, not even you or Nate.” She whispered, glancing to check wasn’t watching them.
“That’s all? Really?” Serena whispered back.
Everything she had said had been true, just an evasion of the full story.
“I’m sorry I didn’t call, especially if you and Nate were-”
Their tutor had heard her whispering and picked her out.
“Whole class silence includes you. Move to the empty desk on the other side of the classroom, I’ve had quite enough of telling you and Serena to stop talking every morning.”
Blair glanced at the empty desk.
It was behind Nelly Yuki whom nobody talked to, and beside Penelope who was new to Constance that semester and had been nothing but a bitch to everyone; though she had made project list.
She didn’t want to move away from Serena, and Kati and Is.
“I will not ask you again, Blair.”
“I’ll move.” Serena offered, standing up.
She picked her bag off the floor and went over without waiting for teacher approval, though seemed to approve very much.
“Thank you, Serena, dear.”
“Serena is so sweet,” Is said to Kati, and everybody in the room looked like they were thinking the same thing.
Blair looked down at her organiser to hide the embarrassed flush in her cheeks.
When she looked up, the register was done and the girls could talk; Penelope and Serena were deep in conversation.
“Blair!” Chuck called, seeing her hurrying down the steps of the girls’ school at the beginning of lunch hour.
She looked up, and forced herself to stop when she saw it was Chuck, despite her being in a rush to get over to the Met.
“I didn’t see you this morning-” He began, before he was cut off.
“I was late, I had to get ready for having lunch on the Met steps.” She explained and hinted at the same time.
Chuck ignored the hint.
“How was the weekend?”
Blair forced a smile, but glanced at her watch before answering.
There was a seven minute bracket from the beginning of lunch hour to when you had to be on the steps. Otherwise, you weren’t allowed to be there, because it was obviously not important enough to the latecomer.
Nothing was more important to Blair at that moment.
“Good. My dad and I went shopping, I bought a pair of shoes and a cardigan, and daddy got a tie and a bag for my mom from Hermés.”
Two minutes left.
“You know what I mean,” Chuck said dryly. “Did you at all-”
“Chuck, I have to go!”
It would take longer than two minutes to walk from the school to the Met.
She left him stood in the middle of the courtyard, glaring after her.
Then Blair remembered how kind Chuck Bass had been on Friday afternoon, and he had covered for her so that she wouldn’t even have to lie to Serena or Nate, and felt guilty.
She stopped at the gate, turned to face him, and shook her head with a confirming smile.
She hadn’t relapsed.
He gave her a brief nod to say he understood, and she ran away.
By running, she had made it with one minute to spare.
Alicia hadn’t even arrived, which gave Blair the opportunity to sit next to Serena and catch her breath.
“B, why did you take so long?”
Blair indicated she was too put of breath to answer.
“You know why there’s a time bracket, don’t you?” Penelope asked snidely, sat the other side of Serena. “It’s to find out who really cares about-”
“I know what the bracket’s for!” Blair snapped.
She looked at Serena and raised an eyebrow.
“Penelope?” She mouthed.
“We were talking in homeroom,” Serena whispered back. “She’s really not that bad.”
“She’s a bitch!” Blair hissed, glancing at Penelope and catching her gaze with a slight wince.
Serena saw and rolled her eyes.
“So are you, and I put up with it. You can put up with Penelope, and be nice, because I like her.”
“Is there a problem with me being here?” Penelope asked with faux innocence.
“No.” Serena replied firmly.
Alicia arrived then with her best friend from Senior Year, and Blair gave up arguing.
“You’re all here,” Alicia commented, checking off all the Freshmen mentally.
Blair, Serena, Penelope, Hazel, Kati, Is and Imogen.
“Hey,” Serena said brightly, breaking the silence. She was the only freshman not sat on edge.
Alicia smiled at her and sat down, on a step higher than them all.
She started speaking to the girls from her grade and the grade below, and soon it was obvious she wasn’t going to speak to them; just listen and pass the odd comment.
Blair bit her lip.
Everyone around her was now in conversation apart from her.
Normally she could talk with ease, but the vibe around her was intimidating and she was afraid of doing something wrong.
She took the lid off of her fruit cup and her fork played with a grape.
“Blair, your mother’s party on Saturday…” Alicia spoke down to her, and Blair’s back tensed. “How are the preparations going?”
Dorota had been working and making calls all weekend, though Blair hadn’t even asked about them.
She presumed that everything was going smoothly.
“Fantastic,” She said quickly. “It’s going to be perfect for a store debut, there are a lot of important people coming.”
“Like my father,” Alicia nodded. He owned the accountancy firm handling the advertising department expenditures for Eleanor Waldorf. “And me.”
Several people on the steps did a double take of Blair.
That was a connection.
The only way she wasn’t going to make it into the circle now is if she were totally socially awkward.
Penelope glared at her.
Blair hadn’t even realised Alicia was coming, and her eyes widened.
“Really?” She forced, feeling every eye now on her. “Great.”
She was going to have to entertain Alicia for a whole night.
It was going to have to be perfect.
“Great.” She said again, and went back to her fruit cup, hating feeling so tense.
When she had first spoke to Alicia she hadn’t had this problem, she had been cool and relaxed, and had impressed enough to be on the steps for the final selection.
Now, Alicia looked suitably unimpressed with her reaction.
“Hopefully it will.” She said sharply. “Serena, are you going?”
“Of course,” Serena replied easily. “I go to all Eleanor’s parties, Blair and I love them.”
She rested a supportive hand on Blair’s arm.
“Oh, why don’t you come up here and tell me about some of the others?” Alicia pulled her bag closer to clear room next to her on the top step.
Freshman on the top step?
A junior got her cell phone out and began to type the alert.
“I’m fine here.”
Freshman refusing top step?
A small group of girls took out their cell phones.
Serena gave the arm her hand was rested on a squeeze.
She knew how important this was to Blair, and a little stage fright shouldn’t take it away.
Serena wasn’t going to outshine her.
Alicia gave her an interested look, and nodded slowly.
Lunch carried on, but the vibe had changed.
Blair was able to relax knowing Serena wasn’t going to let her fall, and she joined conversation eagerly.
The hour ended, and the girls began to make their way back to Constance.
“So,” Alicia commanded attention before they all dispersed. “I’ll see everyone tomorrow?”
She nodded to the freshmen.
They had all passed.
Blair took a deep breath, and answered first out of anyone.
“See you then.”
Penelope had been gushing to Serena all through homeroom in the afternoon, but Blair barely noticed.
Serena was in both her afternoon classes, and Penelope was in neither, so she was able to have full attention of her best friend.
She was of course envious that Serena had been asked to talk about her mothers’ parties on the top step, but Serena hadn’t gone; and the pleasure of knowing Serena thought of her as more important than Alicia outweighed the jealousy easily.
Blair was in a bright mood when the day finished, and she tapped Chuck on the shoulder when she found him outside the gates.
“Ride home?” She asked with a smile.
Chuck smirked and opened the limo door for her.
As soon as the pulled away from the curb, Blair poured her news out to Chuck.
“I’m not a project anymore!”
“They finally saw sense and threw you out? Too bitchy?” He asked, earning a slap on the arm from Blair.
“I could have you thrownout of every social circle for being an ass now.”
“I’d be back in before nightfall, they’d miss the sex.”
Another slap on the arm.
“I’m having a good day, Chuck, don’t ruin it with your disgusting sexual innuendos.” Blair snapped, trying in vain to cover her smile with a scowl.
She couldn’t believe how good the day had been, actually.
Or the weekend before it.
Maybe, like her parents, she had just been having a minor rough patch, and had succumbed to stress too easily.
All she needed to do was get Nate to talk to her properly again, and everything would be…
“So, what does a bitch of your power do? Any take downs I could assist with?”
Blair thought for a second.
“Keep your eye out for Penelope, the new girl. She has her claws into Serena and insulted my headband last Thursday.”
“Bitch.” Chuck commented, mocking Blair’s seriousness.
She glared at him.
“If you don’t want to help-”
“I do, I will.” He reassured, laughing at her annoyed face.
He was pleased Blair was having a break from everything that had been upsetting her. It would hopefully keep her out of relapsing long enough to break the habit completely.
The only thing he worried about is if such a high would make an even bigger low; and where that would put Blair.
He had seen how those upper social circles worked; he had been keeping the company of the royalty of the high school all through the last two years of middle school.
Talking about their plans of social destruction had gotten them turned on like nothing else.
Chuck amused Blair for the rest of their journey back to her building, but his mind was somewhere else, searching for something.
Blair needed stability beneath this temporary high, and he was going to find it somehow.
To be continued…