Limitations, Part Two (Gossip Girl)
“That’s a little small for you, don’t you think?”
He drops the item in his hand like he’s been burned. It falls to his desk, the bright purple a stark contrast to the white and brown of his paper covered desk. He balls the item up in his hand; his reflex to hide kicking in as he glares at his best friend for the intrusion.
“Hello to you, too, Nathaniel. Is there something I can help you with?”
“The Spectator just announced profits in the last quarter for the first time. I thought we could go out and celebrate.”
For a moment, Chuck considers offering his friend some business advice – take your profits and invest them in your company. Don’t blow it all in one place in one sitting. But Nate looks so damn excited and besides, with the attention of a guppy, the man has already moved onto another topic.
“Besides, looks like you need a new bowtie. That one in your hand isn’t even going fit around your wrist. What happen to it? Dorota send it through the wash?”
“It’s not for me, Nathaniel,” Chuck snaps as he drops the bowtie into the top drawer of desk. He tidies his desk up for a bit before ushering his friend towards the door to his office.
“Who’s it for then? It looks like it would fit a kid, and who do you know that has a kid that wears bowties?”
The question hangs in the air between them. Chuck doesn’t know what to say and, quite frankly, he enjoys watching Nate work through his own question as a confused Nate makes some interesting facial expressions.
“Chuck, are you and…Is Blair…”
“Pregnant?” He offers, growing impatient with how slow Nate is on the uptake. “Eleven weeks.”
“And you’re happy about this?”
Chuck throws his best friend a look of confusion. After everything, how can his best friend even be asking him this question?
“Ecstatic,” he corrects before opening the door to his office. He instructs his secretary to push back his one o’clock meeting and call him only if necessary. Nate follows behind like an obedient puppy, silent until the two step into the private elevator.
“I’m really happy for you, man,” Nate offers as he clasps his hand on the back. “A baby, huh? Is that what the dinner next week is about?”
“Yes, so don’t say anything to Blair. She wants to tell everyone at once.”
“Secret’s safe with me. How’s Blair handling the news that it’s a boy?”
He gives Chuck a grimace over the thought. All their lives Blair Waldorf had told them she would have one child – a girl. Boys were entirely outside the realm of possibility for her and her husband. Of course, at the time, the husband and father-to-be had been Nate Archibald so maybe things have changed, Nate muses to himself.
“How did you graduate high school? Blair’s still in her first trimester. It’s too early to tell if the baby is a boy or girl.”
“What’s with the bowtie then?”
“Father’s intuition,” Chuck replies. “There hasn’t been a Bass girl in…ever.”
Nate cracks a smile, makes a joke about how karma would give Chuck Bass a little girl. It would be funny if the thought wasn’t so terrifying. A miniature Blair? He wouldn’t stand a chance.
He finds her in a working class neighborhood in Queens. His personal private investigator, the security staff at Bass Industries and the Empire Hotel, and his guy at the Twenty-Fourth Precinct have all been pulled on the case.
The fact is he should have started with his missing wife’s closest confident. Not the blonde who spills her guts when she think she’s being helpful, but the woman who told him that she wouldn’t crack for the KGB so she sure has hell wasn’t going to confess to Chuck Bass.
“Mister Bass,” Vanya stammers out when he opens the door to his house and finds the formidable man on his doorstep.
“Vanya,” Chuck says, “I believe my wife is here.”
“Yes, sir,” Vanya replies, opening the door wider so as to let him in. His movements are cut short by his stout wife, who grabs the door and glares at her husband for his traitorous actions.
“Mister Chuck,” Dorota greets icily, “we not accepting visitors. This is private home.”
The answer is not satisfactory. Not even close. And Chuck Bass is not above threatening his own employee to get what he wants. But Dorota’s allegiance runs deep, and she’s very quick to point out that while she may work in his home, her salary is still paid for by Miss Eleanor, who transferred her employment to her daughter following the wedding. She is untouchable.
“Dorota,” her voice trails out to him like a melody. “I’ll talk to him.”
The door swings wider to expose his wife. Dorota slips away with a fleeting look of concern for her and a glare for him, and then it is just him and her standing on the tiny front steps of Dorota and Vanya’s house in the middle of Queens.
He wants to pull her into his arms, wants to express relief over finding her safe and sound. Except she is supposed to be at home on modified bed rest not in the middle of Queens with her arms across her belly like he is the biggest threat to her health.
“What are you doing here, Chuck?”
“The better is question is: what are you doing here, Blair? Because I’ve spent the last five hours traipsing around the city looking for my wife, who is supposed to be at home in bed. Not moving farther than the bathroom.”
“One taxi ride isn’t going to kill me.”
“You took a taxi? To Queens? Jesus, Blair. No wonder Arthur had no bloody idea where you were.”
“That was the point.”
“The point? You were trying to scare me?”
“I was trying to get out of that suffocating room. I wanted to spend time with people who are actually excited about this baby.”
“You didn’t need to come all the way to Queens for that,” he retorts.
“Really? Because you can’t even say the word.”
“Pregnant. Baby. Son,” she offers. “Take your pick.”
My wife is pregnant with our baby, my son.
That’s what she wants to hear. She wants him to hold her, run his hands over her swollen form, and whisper in her ear words of adoration and love for the little boy she’s carrying. It’s not that he does not want to this to her; it’s that he physically cannot do so.
“I know you love me,” she tells him as she steps forward and captures his face between her hands. “And I know you’re scared because you love him, but I won’t let you do this. You think that by pretending he doesn’t exist you can save yourself from any pain. But you’re wrong, Chuck, because this is already killing you.”
He reaches up, pulls her hands away from his face, and watches her chin quiver. The scene is eerily similar; the emotions rawer than ever before.
“Stop telling me how I feel!”
The slap against his face stuns him. His cheek feels enflamed, and the sound reverberates in his ears.
“Don’t you dare,” she snaps. “Don’t you dare pull this on me again. You can’t hide from me, Chuck Bass. I can see right through you.”
“Then you should know there’s nothing there.”
“Mister Bass, Mrs. Waldorf-Bass,” Doctor Bertram greets warmly as she strolls into the exam room. Her patient gives her a weak smile; the red of her lipstick a harsh contrast to the sickly paleness of her face.
“Still suffering from morning sickness, huh?” Doctor Bertram asks before glancing back at the recent notes her nurse made in Blair Waldorf-Bass’ medical file today. The numbers she sees seem off her to her, and she gives the nurse assisting her today an odd look. Nurse Shelley discreetly nods her head, confirming the accuracy of the numbers she wrote down less than twenty minutes ago.
“This is more than morning sickness,” her patient’s husband interjects sharply. His wife tries to grab his hand, tries to mollify his anger with her presence as he speaks. “The book said she should be done with this by now. You said she would be done with this.”
The accusation is harsh but in the short time Doctor Bertram has known Mister Bass, she has become accustomed to his tone. The doctor knows an irrationally terrified first-time father when she sees one, and she justifies the variation between this pregnancy and the book as natural variation. After all, every pregnancy is different because every patient is different.
Still, the numbers are worrisome and the quick calculation she performs in her head is alarming given her patient’s history. She puts on her assuring face, though, and makes her way through the examination without ringing the bells of alarm.
“Mister Bass,” Doctor Bertram says as she removes her latex gloves and drops them in the waste bin, “would you please follow Nurse Shelley out to the front office? There’s some paperwork I need you to fill out. Family history and such.”
Chuck eyes her warily, looking from her to his wife with suspicion. Eventually, with a quick kiss on his wife’s temple, he relents and follows the nurse out of the exam room. Her patient turns a hawk-eye glare at her doctor and splays her hand protectively across her belly.
“Is something wrong?”
The anxiety is thick in her voice. She doesn’t understand why her doctor singled her out, but knows that dismissing Chuck is completely out of character for how these appointments should go.
“Blair,” Doctor Bertram begins gently, “I’m concerned about your weight gain. You should be gaining at minimum half a pound a week, but you’ve lost weight since conception.”
Her patient at least has the decency to look shame faced, thus in turn confirming the doctor’s fears.
“Given your history –“
“I’m not bulimic,” Blair injects sharply. The doctor raises a perfectly manicured eyebrow at her patient, and the silent accusation sends her over the edge.
“I’m not! I’m pregnant,” Blair replies dismissively. “I have horrific morning sickness. I literally cannot keep anything down.”
“Mrs. Waldorf-Bass,” Blair corrects. She won’t allow this woman to accuse her yet still act familiar with her.
“Mrs. Waldorf-Bass,” the doctor says, “this weight loss is alarming and abnormal. For someone with bulimia, losing control of your body during pregnancy can be frightening, and it is important that you talk to someone and keep this under control. The return of your disease poses a significant threat to your health and the health of your baby.”
“I’m not purposely hurting my baby. I would never hurt my baby.”
Arthur barely stops the car when he wrenches open the door and starts running towards the hospital entrance. The emergency room is busy, and it takes longer than he would like to get directions to the labor and delivery floor. His knees feel week as he rides the elevator to the sixth floor, and his head spins when he spies Lily and Dorota huddled together at the end of the hallway.
The scene is far too familiar, and he winces as the images his mind digs up. Dorota’s uniform stained with blood is never far from the forefront of his mind, and now his stomach rolls as he gives her starch white apron an onceover.
“Charles,” Lily greets when she spies him. Dorota and Lily are by his side in a flash, guiding him towards the appropriate room and bombarding him with answers before he can even ask the questions.
“Eleanor and Serena are with her,” Lily informs him. “Doctor Abell has been paged and should be here soon.”
“Blood?” He can barely stammer out the question, and both women give him an odd look when he finally strings together the letters.
“Mister Chuck,” Dorota questions, “did you not listen to whole message? Miss Blair go into labor. She have baby.”
“Yes, Charles,” Lily confirms as she opens the door to the hospital room. “Her water broke as she was opening presents.”
It’s the women in his life who compel him forward, pushing him to the room and offering him grins of excitement. The women in her life are hovering over her, smoothing back her hair and offering her ice chips.
“Chuck,” she whispers when she spies him. There are far too many machines hooked to her and although he has been accustomed to seeing an IV in her arm, the multiple bands around her rounded belly and the machines hung around her bed are concerning. He has to swallow the thickness in his throat as he stumbles towards her bedside.
“Your son takes after you,” Serena interjects before he can respond. “Trying to crash a party he wasn’t invited to.”
He tries to give his step-sister a faint smile at her joke, but his eyes are locked on Blair’s and he is too busy trying to connect with her to care. Eleanor steps aside, allowing him to take her spot by Blair’s bed, and he’s grateful to his mother-in-law for the gesture. He gingerly picks up Blair’s hand and tries to bring it to his lips for a kiss, but she will have none of it and wrenches her hand away.
“What do you think you’re doing here?”
“B,” Serena chastises.
“My mother and Serena will stay with me,” she informs him coldly. “You can wait outside with Dorota and Lily.”
“Blair,” he begins. He wants to stay because while his heart is already pounding in fear, he cannot even stomach the idea of sitting outside and missing this. He needs to be here, needs to hoover over her and make sure that she is receiving the best care possible.
“I don’t need you here,” she snaps. “I don’t want you.”
He glances at his mother-in-law, mother, maid, and step-sister but none of them will look him in the eye, none of them will come to his aid. He wants to tell his wife that her eyes and her mouth do not match, wants to assure her that he will not leave her alone in this. But then her entire body tenses, she’s gripping the hell out her best friend’s hand as she rides out the contraction, and he will give her anything she wants just to make this all stop.
“Go!” She screams at him. “Just go!”
He stumbles out of the birthing suite into the harsh light of the hallway. His heart is racing so hard that he can barely catch his breath. His mother is calling after him, telling him that she’s in labor and emotional and will change her mind. But he is too anxious to care, too busy running his hand through his perfectly arranged hair to really register his words. He tries to formulate a plan of action as he stands stunned in the middle of the hallway.
Lily manages to get him to move to the waiting room at the end of the hallway. She offers to fetch him a cup of terrible coffee from the cafeteria and tries to give him a reassuring squeeze of the hand. But he doesn’t want her assurances; he doesn’t deserve her assurances. Eventually, his adopted mother chooses to get that cup of coffee for herself rather than sit next to him, leaving him alone to his thoughts and fears.
The rest of the waiting room is filled with excited grandparents and relatives of other patients. No one else appears to be father; no one else appears to be strumming with fear the way he is. He’s making the others nervous; he’s making himself nervous. So, without a second thought, he picks up his chair, relocates it outside the door to her room, and takes a seat. He will not move from this spot.