Fandom: Gossip Girl/Friday Night Lights
Pairing: Blair Waldorf/Tim Riggins
Disclaimer: I own nothing.
Summary: I'm gonna kiss somebody someday, and when I do, it will be for me.
Thank you so much to abvj for reading this through for me. I always get so nervous dipping my toe into other fandoms.
There is a familiarity here.
The tiles of the floor beneath her knees, her fingers curling around the edges of the toilet bowl and her reflection in the water. Her face is so close that when she exhales a deep breath, the water ripples with the disturbance. She closes her eyes, not wanting to look at herself at the moment. She has been here before – too many times before – but that fact doesn’t prompt her to leave. This is where she needs to be right now because like she said, there is familiarity here, something she has no where else and right now, this is what she needs. She needs to take comfort in someone, something, and she hates thinking of herself as a cliché because she’s Blair Waldorf and she is absolutely one of a kind but a part of this is trying to bring herself back in control.
When she guides the handle of her toothbrush down her throat and throws up, the tears streaming down her cheeks are hot but she feels a sense of relief.
She spends the day in bed, watching Audrey Hepburn and she almost cries because when she closes her eyes, she no longer is able to imagine her life as one of her movies. It’s almost as if it’s impossible. Audrey never would have done some of the things she has done or have let Chuck done to her.
Dorota makes her chicken noodle soup and the steam swirls from the bowl on the nightstand table. She doesn’t make a move to eat any of it even though it does smell delicious and her stomach is empty and rumbling.
Chuck surprisingly calls. She doesn’t answer.
She is even more surprised however when Humphrey calls and she does pick up for him. He, after all, did dance with her at Dorota’s wedding and do vodka shots with her and tried to help her ignore the fact that Chuck had been upstairs, having sex with some tall, thin bimbo – not that she cared because they were broken up and what Chuck Bass did was no longer any concern of hers.
He asks her how she is – as if they’ve been friends for years instead of reluctance acquaintances, in one another’s lives simply because of Serena who he isn’t even with anymore – and she says that she’s fine. He is quiet after that and she knows that he knows she’s lying. Since when has Humphrey been able to see through her?
He then asks if she wants to go for some coffee but she refuses, saying that she needs to keep some level of her reputation intact and being seen in public with him would only make matters worse. She can hear him smile from over the phone and he tells her he’ll talk to her later.
She eats the bowl of soup then, lukewarm now but still delicious, and she eats the small chunk of bread next to the bowl as well but after a minute, staring down at the empty dishware in front of her, she sets it aside and without thinking about, she goes into the bathroom.
Serena comes by and they lounge in bed together like they always used to and hugging pillows to their chests, they giggle and gossip like they’re thirteen years old again and for the first time in a long time, Blair feels completely relaxed. Of course, a few hours later, Serena gets a text from Nate and she leaves in a flurry of cheek kisses and promises to come by again later and then she’s gone and Blair’s alone again. She stares up at the ceiling, listening to the silence surrounding her.
She has no idea why she does it but she doesn’t stop herself when she calls Dan.
She hates how he doesn’t sound surprised in the least to hear from her.
They get coffee at the small bistro near campus and she nibbles on a brownie as he sits across from her, reading one of his books with a pencil behind his ear. They don’t talk. They don’t exchange their usual quips of insults but that’s alright with her, for once. For once, she just feels too tired.
“Do you have another?” She asks suddenly and he lifts his eyes to look at her. She points to the book in his hand and he smiles, reaching into the messenger bag at his feet and producing a rather worn copy of The Catcher in the Rye. She can’t help but roll her eyes. “Not entirely original, Humphrey,” she says and he chuckles before shaking his head and going back to reading.
Two weeks pass and Chuck still doesn’t call.
She pretends she doesn’t notice and even if she does, she certainly doesn’t care.
Serena is caught up with her newest drama with Nate – probably a disagreement over who has the shiniest hair – and Blair finds herself spending more and more time with Dan. He never asks her about a certain Bass and she, in turn, slowly starts to stop insulting him altogether.
They spend more time at the loft than not and Blair tells herself that it’s because there’s no one else around and if she sequesters herself in the loft when she’s there and doesn’t walk around, no one will ever know she’s spending time, willingly, in Brooklyn. They read – his book collection is surprisingly thorough – and they exchange books and sometimes, he watches Turner Classic Movies without making too much of a fuss. Later, she discovers that he has a bit of a thing for Cary Grant. But really, who doesn’t?
She won’t consider them friends but she finds herself with him more times than not. Vanessa notices it, too, and after getting out of class one day, Blair calls him to see if they are still going out to this second-hand bookstore he has not stopped talking about. He answers in a hurry though and says he has to reschedule and his voice is tight and tense and she knows immediately that something less than pleasant is happening on the other side of the phone.
Less than three hours later, Gossip Girl informs the world that Lonely Boy and V have broken up.
Less than an hour after that, there is a knock on her dorm door and she opens it to find him with a box of pizza in one hand and a DVD of North by Northwest in his other. She smiles and steps aside, letting him in.
“You are such a girl, Humphrey,” she teases but there’s no malice behind it and he smirks as he toes off his shoes and settles himself on her bed.
“So… you and Dan,” Serena casually mentions in her I’m trying to be casual even though you better tell me everything this instant because I can’t take it anymore tone. “Are you two friends now?”
Blair shrugs, not answering. But her not answering to immediately refute it is all the answer Serena needs.
Chuck sleeps with Jenny.
As soon as she reads it on her phone, she races into her bathroom and collapsing onto her knees, she throws up even though she hasn’t eaten anything all day.
Serena is out of town, tracking down her daddy dearest, so she isn’t there but Dan is – she wasn’t sure when he stopped being Humphrey – and he doesn’t seem to mind as they sit on the floor of her bathroom, her tears soaking his shirt and his arms wrapped securely around her. Less than three months ago, this was the most far-fetched scenario to ever happen but now, she clings to him, needing him there and he isn’t going anywhere. She expects him too, though.
Everyone leaves her eventually.
“I hate your sister,” she murmurs once her eyes are red and sore from crying and she feels completely exhausted. They are both leaning against the bathtub and she wonders if he’s as uncomfortable as she is. She doesn’t make a move to get up.
She feels him smile faintly against her head. “Join the club,” he says and she takes a deep breath, closing her eyes. “No, seriously. There’s a club. I started it,” he furthers and he smiles again when she laughs softly, slightly.
But then, she feels sick to her stomach once more and she turns her face, burying it in the damp fabric of his shirt and his arms tighten around her.
And then she murmurs two words she never thought she would say to him. She rarely says them to anyone in her life. “Thank you.”
Chuck tries calling.
She deletes his number.
“Would you ever go to Austin?” Dan asks her one afternoon near the end of the spring semester. They are studying in the loft, books and papers surrounding them both and she has a yellow highlighter in her hand as she lifts her head to look at him, a strand of brown falling in her eye.
“Texas?” Her nose seemed to almost naturally curl at the word.
“Someone’s going to ace their geography final,” he teased and then laughed as she rolled her eyes and threw an uneaten pizza crust from the plate next to her at him.
“What’s in Austin?” She asked, now curious.
He produces a single sheet of paper and hands it to her. She quickly scans it over as he explains. “It’s just a two month program at the university but it’s a fairly well-known one and… I just thought both of us could get out of this place for a while.”
He is hardly finished speaking before she is agreeing to go. She doesn’t miss the large smile that slowly takes residence on his face. She smiles back at him.
“Texas?” Her mother’s nose wrinkles in the same manner and Blair has to bite down on her bottom lip to keep from laughing. “But… I thought we were all going to Paris this summer.”
“Mother… I really need something different,” she tries to explain even though she doesn’t know if she can. She isn’t sure that even she fully understands it.
Eleanor stares at her for a moment and Blair holds her breath. “You’re already so different, Blair,” she says, standing up, coming to her and Blair tilts her chin up so their matching dark brown eyes could meet. There is a moment of silence and then Eleanor sighs. “Texas?” She says again and Blair laughs.
“I’ll come, too,” Serena offers as Blair is packing. “I told Nate I had to find myself.”
Blair smiles. “And you’re going to find yourself in Texas?”
Serena laughs, lounging back on the bed, looking like a beautiful Greek goddess, awaiting some mortal to start feeding her grapes. “Texas is as good a place to start as any other.” She shrugs and turns her head on the pillow to look at her. “What about you? Blair Waldorf turning down a summer in Paris?”
Blair is quiet as she continues carefully folding her dresses.
“Paris is overrated,” she then softly replies and she means it.
It has nothing to do with the rumor that Chuck is gallivanting around in Europe for the summer as well.
Paris may be overrated but Austin in the summer is hot – almost unbearably so – and the breeze blowing through the air does nothing in the way of offering relief. The University of Texas has offered dorm rooms for those enrolled in its summer writing program, where Dan stays. Blair and Serena get a room at the Barton Creek Resort & Spa, a luxurious hotel with golf, tennis, pools and of course, a world class spa.
Dan is in class for most of the day but every afternoon, he comes and spends the evenings with them and together, they go out to bars and restaurants and there is drinking and dancing (and one horrible night of too many shots that led to line dancing and wearing cowboy hats) and Austin is so completely different from the Upper East Side that Blair immediately falls in love – even if she is sweating here far more than any other time in her life.
“What do you think?” Dan asks late one night after they have both carried a drunk Serena to her bed and they then go next door into Blair’s room, drinking water to help with the alcohol.
They sit on her bed, facing one another, their knees touching and curled papers are in her hands as she reads. Once she is finished, she lifts her head, staring at him though her vision is slightly blurred due to the tears in her eyes.
“It’s about you, you know,” he says and she nods because that is fairly obvious.
“You… you really think I’ve changed that much?” She asks him, feeling breathless.
He smirks then. “Blair, you’re in Texas. With me,” he says and she can’t help but laugh at that.
She grows quiet then and shakes her head slightly, looking back down at the typed pages in her hands. “I never thought I would let a boy change me so much.”
“It’s a good change though, isn’t it?” He asks.
She doesn’t answer. Instead, she dares to ask, “Do you think he thinks about me?”
Dan shakes his head. “He’d be an idiot if he didn’t.”
And more tears brim in her eyes as she leans forward and hugs him.
She doesn’t like to golf that much but when she tells Nate (B, I can’t believe you’re talking to him! Serena had wailed when she found out), he nearly foams at the mouth from over the phone. Supposedly, the resort has one of the nicest golf courses in the country and Blair figures she should experience it once while she’s there. She doesn’t even bother asking Serena and wearing a short white pleated skirt and pink polo shirt with her hair pulled up in a ponytail, she rents clubs from the hotel and begins to play the course herself.
She sees him on the seventh hole. He is wearing blue jeans with a hole in the knee and a grey tee-shirt that simply says “Panthers” across the front of it in blue, cracked lettering. She is drawn to the cowboy boots first though and she almost smiles. She wonders how he is able to step foot on the green without someone stopping him.
He is by himself and there is a small cooler next to him as he takes a couple of practice swings. She stands behind him, off to the side, watching him. He has stringy brown hair, too long and hanging in his face. He is tall and lean but she can make out his muscles with each movement of his arms and she isn’t sure what it is because he so isn’t her type but she can’t look away from him.
Dan’s right. She has changed. In New York, she never would have looked twice at this man.
He grunts when he swings and the white ball sails into the air. They both squint in the sun to see where it lands.
“Not bad,” she says before she can stop herself and he spins around, surprise momentarily on his face before he looks at her and he slides into a confident smirk.
She stiffens at the sight of it. She knows that smirk. She has seen that smirk countless times. She despises that smirk.
“Can you do better?” He asks as his eyes rove up and down her body.
Her fingers tighten around the club in her hands. “I’m skipping this hole,” she says, her voice hard and her back straight, her chin jutted out slightly. She may have changed but she’s still Blair freaking Waldorf of the Upper East Side and she doesn’t look away from people like him.
He seems to find her amusing if the lazy grin across his face is any indication. “That’s not very sportsmanlike of you,” he jokes. He flips open the lid of the cooler with the toe of his boot and she rolls her eyes when he pulls out a bottle of beer. “Want to play a game with me?”
“I am sick of games,” she informs him and she wonders if she’s ever said truer words.
He keeps grinning. “I meant, a round. Want to go a round with me?” She stares at him and he stares right back. “Of golf,” he then clarifies and she gives him a look.
“Of course, golf. What else would you have been talking about?” She asks.
He only keeps smirking though and she hates herself just a little bit when she nods her head before she’s able to stop herself.
“I’m Tim,” he wipes his hand on the side of his jeans and sticks it out towards her.
She doesn’t shake his hand but he just keeps on smiling.
“You don’t fit in here,” she says after the eighteenth hole and both begin making their way back to the clubhouse. He has taken her bag and is carrying both of theirs on his shoulders as she carries the cooler – now empty – in one hand.
He smirks. “Who fits in anywhere?” He quips back.
A smile quirks at the corner of her mouth despite her efforts. “Philosopher as well as sub-par golfer?”
He grins now, looking at her. “What makes it obvious that I don’t fit in here?”
“Besides everything?” She lifts an eyebrow at him. “You carry yourself differently. Like you don’t care.”
“I don’t,” he shrugs and then looks at her carefully. “Why do you?”
Blair stares at him. She doesn’t know how to respond so she says nothing at all.
“Wanna get some dinner with me?” He asks.
“Do you kill it yourself?” She questions back and he leans in then, too close – so close she can see specks of gold in his eyes.
She has no idea why but he kisses her. His lips are surprisingly soft and she feels herself lift her hands to his face, some of his hair caught between his cheeks and her hands. His hands grip her hips almost too tightly and his mouth moves almost too hard against hers but it’s different from the last kiss she had – with Chuck – but before she can decide whether or not she likes it, her phone rings, breaking them apart. She is panting as she answers.
“Where are you?” It’s Dan. “We’re going out tonight to celebrate, remember? My last class was today,” he then adds and she almost actually slaps a hand on her forehead.
“Of course I haven’t forgotten. I was just golfing. I’ll run upstairs and get ready.” She doesn’t look at Tim as she turns to leave but she barely takes three steps before she spins and faces him again, the phone still to her ear. He is staring at her, his eyes dark, one hand resting on the wall near his head. “Dan, can I bring someone?”
Blair has no idea what is with her today and why she’s doing things like this.
Nothing is stopping her though.
They go out for barbecue and Serena rides the mechanical bull, earning more cat-calls from the patrons than any other woman as she sensually rocks her body on top of the contraption.
“She’s good at that,” Tim notes, sipping from a bottle of beer.
Blair laughs and Dan nods, mesmerized by his blonde ex-girlfriend.
She goes completely still though when Tim suddenly leans over and his thumb is at the corner of her mouth. When he pulls it back, there is barbecue sauce and she watches as he sucks it into his mouth, cleaning it off. He then smiles at her. Her stomach clenches.
“Haven’t you ever eaten ribs before?” He teases, his eyes intent on her.
“No,” she responds honestly, reaching for her napkin, wiping at her mouth. “Not like this, I haven’t. This is my first time,” she then adds without realizing what she has said until it’s too late and Tim is grinning at her.
She sees Dan watching the exchange with amusement and she swiftly kicks him in the leg under the table. She smiles when he grimaces.
He follows her into the bathroom and the sink is wet and hard against the small of her back as he presses her against it but she doesn’t care. Her fingers grip his hair and he seems to be trying to touch her everywhere he can as they kiss one another.
Water droplets drip from the faucet behind her and one of the fluorescent fixtures buzz overhead in the ceiling and if she was in New York, she would never step foot in a bathroom like this, let alone make out with a complete stranger in one, but she isn’t in New York. And Tim isn’t anything like Chuck but that’s sort of the point, isn’t it? She and Chuck have been playing games for so long with each other and nothing worked for them. Maybe she needs to be with someone the complete opposite. Or maybe she shouldn’t be with anyone for a while – give herself time to be on her own.
But then Tim nips at her bottom lip with his teeth and then soothes it over with his tongue and she moans, pressing herself against him.
“There’s something,” he says, propped up on his elbow in the midst of twisted blankets and sheets, a lock of her hair twirled around his finger.
She smiles faintly up at him. “Something good or something bad?”
He shakes his head slightly. “I’m not sure yet. I’ll let you know though when I am.”
He leans down then and kisses her. She is still smiling.
His cell phone rings in the middle of the night and it wakes her up. She opens her eyes to see him pulling on his boxers with one hand as he talks softly, holding the phone in his other. She is too exhausted for her mind to register what he’s saying but the words I’ll be right there permeate.
She closes her eyes, pretending to be asleep, pretending that she doesn’t feel used. She tries to ignore the ache in her stomach and the emptiness in her chest. What had she been expecting? They don’t even know each other. Why does she insist on still being such a romantic when every man in her life has only disappointed her?
He ends the call and finishes getting dressed. After a minute, she can still detect him in the room though and she almost opens her eyes to see what he’s doing.
She then hears the locks turn and then the door opens before clicking shut again.
He’s gone and the room is silent.
Blair rolls onto her side, putting her back to the room, and she shivers, naked, underneath the crisp white hotel sheets. She wonders how Serena can do this – the random hook-up thing. She already knows that she, personally, isn’t built for it. Her stomach churns and tears are hot and stinging behind her closed eyelids.
He had been a mixture of rough and gentle and she doesn’t know how he managed it. His hands and lips had been burned into her skin and he had surprisingly held her afterwards. He hadn’t seemed like the type.
She has to get control of herself again.
When she kneels in front of the toilet and throws up the ribs from dinner, she can’t stop herself from crying.
“Are you okay?” Dan asks the next morning when she meets him for breakfast in one of the hotel’s restaurants.
She gives a tight smile and nods and he watches her closely as she studies the menu. She hates that they’ve reached this point where Dan Humphrey knows her better than anyone.
Serena comes down ten minutes later, having just woken up, dark sunglasses covering her eyes. “I kind of don’t want to leave,” she says, grabbing a pink packet of sugar from the center of the table.
Two days ago, Blair would have agreed. Now, she can’t wait to see New York again.
After being in Texas for two months, where the sky is so bright and blue and it stretches on forever, to see the stars every night, millions hanging overhead, to see everything running off in every direction for as far as the eye can see, New York is slightly closed in and claustrophobic.
She’s been home for two days when there is a knock on her bedroom door and for a moment, she thinks it’s Tim. But then she reminds herself that she watches too many movies. Instead, it’s Chuck in his suit and bow tie and he is staring at her.
She stiffens at the sight of him and she feels completely trapped. She clearly needs to remind Dorota that he is no longer allowed upstairs or anywhere in the vicinity of their building.
“You’re back,” he states and his voice no longer makers her shiver.
When had that happened?
She can still hear Tim’s voice – low and gruff in her ears. Can feel his fingers on her skin, his hands on her hips and thighs, his lips on hers. And that was just one night. Had he completely erased Chuck Bass from her system in just one night? Maybe she shouldn’t be as mad at Tim, and herself, as she is.
“You got some sun,” he notes as his eyes rake over her body. She feels violated.
“What do you want, Chuck?” She crosses her arms over her chest.
“I’ve missed you,” he says and his eyes widen as she suddenly bursts into laughter. It even surprises her and she slaps a hand over her mouth in an attempt to stop.
Her phone begins ringing – “Brooklyn” by Wakey! Wakey! – and it’s Dan’s ring.
“Humphrey,” she smiles and Chuck narrows his eyes slightly. She ignores him.
“Waldorf, did you declare yet?” He asks.
“Yes. I am now a lowly, beatnik-wannabe literature major just like you,” she replies.
“Atta girl. I’m going to go buy some books I need for my first semester classes. Wanna come with me?”
“Definitely,” she nods and he senses her over eagerness. Before he can ask what’s wrong, the first word the only one able to leave his mouth, she says, “Can you just meet me here? I’m in the middle of something.”
“See you in a few,” Dan agrees before hanging up. She knows that he’ll hurry.
Chuck is still standing there. “So you and Humphrey are still BFFs, I see.”
“Please, leave,” she says, her voice cold and she does nothing to mask her disgust.
“I heard you hooked up with some… cowboy while you were in Texas,” he says and she opens her mouth to ask how he knows. “Serena came by the Empire yesterday to talk with Nate. He asked about her summer and she told him all about yours, hers and Humphrey’s adventure.” He takes a step closer to her and he runs his fingers down the bare skin of her arm. She shoves his hand away but he steps towards her. “Did he touch you like I do?” He asks.
“Did,” Blair nearly spat with anger. “Not anymore, Chuck. I’m not doing this anymore.”
There is another knock on her door and Blair takes a deep breath of relief as she sees Dan standing there, his eyes sharp and glaring at Chuck. Before anything else can be said, she grabs her purse and sunglasses and taking Dan’s hand, she yanks him out of the room, hurrying away as quickly as possible.
She tries to ignore the burning in her arm and she tries to keep her mind from drifting to thoughts of a certain tall Texan with a lazy smirk and too-long hair.
It’s one of those things that isn’t discussed in great detail. One day, she is living in a penthouse on the Upper East Side and the next, she is living in a loft in Brooklyn with Dan Humphrey as her roommate. Her mother is confused but Blair does her best to explain that she needs to be on her own. She is nineteen now, a sophomore in college, and she wants to try living on her own. And since Rufus and Lily are living in her apartment on the Upper East Side, Dan is in the loft all by himself.
She moves in over a weekend and with Jenny living in Hudson permanently now with the first Mrs. Humphrey, Dan helps Blair paint the second bedroom and they move the furniture around and soon, it looks like it had been Blair’s room all along.
They get into a routine fairly quickly. Breakfast and commuting to campus together. Nights of reading and studying and eating foods that are terrible for them because they are college students after all. Serena comes over often and sometimes Nate does too though they aren’t dating each other again and the four of them go to the park to play soccer though Blair is always the first to drop out.
“It’d help if you wore jeans… or something,” Dan tells her and she gasps in horror, her hands smoothing down the skirt of her countless dress.
Serena laughs, kicking the ball with her impossibly long legs. “Blair Waldorf doesn’t wear jeans.”
“Have you ever worn pants of any kind?” Nate then asks with a grin and Blair sticks her tongue out at all of them.
One of her skirts feels a little too tight and Blair stands in front of the mirror, staring at herself, turning from side to side, scrutinizing every aspect of her reflection. She doesn’t look bigger and everything else fits fine. Maybe the skirt has somehow shrunk. Still though, she skips breakfast that morning and when Serena calls, asking her if she wants to have lunch together, she makes up an excuse about having to study in the library.
Three months after they have left Austin, just a few days before Thanksgiving, she scrolls through her phone and her breath catches in her throat when she goes through her contacts and she finds his name. Tim. Programmed there as if it has always been there. When did he put this in? Was it the morning he left?
Her thumb poises over the call button. She had thought she had forgotten about him because she had convinced herself that he had forgotten about her. She had been his one-night stand or whatever. She hadn’t known that he had actually wanted her to call him. He did want her to call him, right? Why else would his number be there?
She takes a deep breath and without over-thinking it, she lets her phone dial.
“Yeah,” he answers on the fourth ring and the instant she hears his voice, she’s back in the hotel room in Austin, feeling his body on top of hers. She almost shivers.
“Hi,” she answers almost too softly and she doubts he heard her. “Hi, this is Blair. We…” Have carnal knowledge of each other? She has no idea how to finish that sentence. She doesn’t have to though.
“So, you finally decided to call,” and she can hear him smiling from over the phone. It makes her smile.
“I just found your number. Thank you for leaving it.”
“After that night, you thought I wouldn’t?” He asks and she shrugs her shoulders.
“I don’t really know you, do I?” She questions and he is still smiling.
“Hell, darlin’,” he says, emphasizing his Texan drawl. “I’ll tell you anything you want.”
She almost giggles and she wonders what it is about him that can make her go three months without talking with him to her blurting out, “Would you want to come to New York for Thanksgiving?”
“I googled him!” Serena announces as she sits at the counter of the kitchen in the loft, her laptop open in front of her.
“You googled him?” Blair asks dubiously, coming up behind her. Dan appears behind her other shoulder and together, the three of them look at what has been found.
“Tim Riggins, Dillon, Texas…” Dan reads. “… fullback, #33… All of these pages are about football.”
“He’s from Texas,” Serena says. “Varsity Blues, remember?”
Blair rolls her eyes. “This is ridiculous,” but she keeps reading anyway.
“I don’t like it here,” he tells her honestly after he meets Eleanor and Cyrus, Harold and Roman, Rufus, Lily, Eric and Nate and he reacquaints himself with Dan and Serena and they eat dinner.
Thanksgiving that year is at the Humphrey/van der Woodsen home and once the plates are cleared away with the last of the pumpkin pie, Blair takes his hand and leads him out onto the balcony despite the cold weather. Chuck is there and she can’t take anymore of his looks from across the table.
“Why not?” She smiles faintly, looking up at him. He is wearing jeans and a tee-shirt underneath a zipped hooded sweatshirt and honestly, she loves that he didn’t dress up for this.
He shrugs, leaning forward, his arms on the railing. “I’m used to being able to breathe. Here, everyone’s on top of each other.”
“I thought you would have liked that,” she smiles and he grins, turning his head, looking at her. There is a wind blowing and strands of hair blow into her face. She smiles as he stands up at his full height, nearly towering over her and she tilts her head up to look at him. He tucks hair behind her ears, his hands lingering on her face, and she feels a skipping in her chest. “I like you here,” she then says before she can stop herself.
And smiling, he leans down and kisses her.
He stays with her at the loft and at night, they talk in quiet whispers, worried about disturbing Dan though Blair swears he can sleep through a Cloverfield happening.
She likes sifting her fingers through his hair as she explains the greatness of Audrey Hepburn to him and he likes trying to explain football to her with diagrams on her stomach drawn with his fingertip. It tickles and she laughs, trying to squirm away but he then demonstrates the proper techniques of tackling to her and she decides that football isn’t that bad.
She runs into Chuck on her way to class.
He is leaning against his limo parked on the curb and she tries to avoid him but he grabs her arm, holding onto her.
“Is the cowboy still here?” He asks with a sneer.
“Not that it’s any of your concern but yes, he is,” she smiles too sweetly at him. “Let me go, Chuck,” she then yanks her arm back. “You and me… we’re through. Understand that.”
“You and me? We’ll never be through,” he tells her, leaning in too close.
Blair doesn’t back down. “We were through the instant your uncle came back to town. It was just neither of us realized it yet.” Her voice is calm, steady and for once, she feels absolutely nothing towards him. “Let me go,” she says again and this time, he does.
She feels like he does in more ways than one.
He tells her about his best friend, Jason, and Lyla and the messes with his brother and parents. He talks about football and Dillon and dreams he had for himself that probably won’t come true and the acceptance he has of that now. He’s good at football and at fixing engines and he realizes that he’ll actually get paid to fix engines.
She tells him about Chuck and Nate and the pregnancy scare. Of Queen B and Gossip Girl and how she has always had to be expected to be one thing in her life. She talks about bulimia and her parents and how Dan and her became so close.
“I’m a mess,” she then admits to him, one of her shoulders lifting in a shrug.
“You know what?” He asks, sitting up. She looks at him. “Two more years of school and then I think you should come to Texas with me.”
She gasps. “What?”
“Well… what’s here for you? Besides your family and friends who you can fly and see anytime. What is here that you really want to stay for?” He asks, staring at her.
She knows that there has to be answer. Something that isn’t a person. But she stares at him, his hair in his face, his bronzed skin a stark contrast against her white sheets and she reaches out, touching his cheek.
“You can be Blair. Just Blair,” he says.
She’s quiet for a moment and then smiles faintly. “I’ve never been Just Blair before. I don’t know how to be.” She’s quiet again and Tim stares at her intently, waiting for her answer. “Well… why wait two years?”
Her mother is beyond shocked but she does it anyway. She transfers from NYU to University of Texas – Austin.
“This is insane!” Serena yells, for once trying to be the voice of reason. “You can’t… You are moving to Texas? With Tim Riggins, some guy you’ve only known for a couple of months? B!”
Blair laughs, putting her hands on her best friend’s shoulders, trying to calm her down. “I need help packing, S.”
“Blair Waldorf, what is going on with you? This isn’t you!” Serena tries to breathe.
She shrugs at that, a serene, small smile on her lips. “Maybe I’m being Just Blair.”
“I can come with you,” Dan offers.
Blair smiles and hugs him. “I know you can but… you’re a writer. You need to be a starving, struggling writer here. In New York.”
He smiles at that, hugging her back. “Promise me-”
“I promise,” she nods before he can finish his thought. “You’re my best friend.”
He sighs, his arms tightening around her. “You’re my best friend, too. But I swear, if Tim hurts you, I am on the first flight to Austin.”
That makes her laugh. “Now that’s a fight I would love to see.” She gives him a quick peck on the lips, surprising them both. “I never thought I would say this but I have no idea what I would do without you, Humphrey.”
He smiles. “Spring break, I’m coming to Austin. I’m really going to miss you.”
“And there’s something I never thought you would say to me,” she teases and he laughs before pulling her into another hug.
Blair Waldorf – no longer B or Queen B, now Just Blair – starts her spring semester at University of Texas in a pair of blue jeans and one of Tim’s sweatshirts – so large, it covers her hands and almost hangs to her knees.
She has a seven a.m. Russian Lit class and though she is eager and nervous about it, she is also exhausted from moving half-way across the country and when she wakes up at five a.m. to get herself ready with her usual process, Tim distracts her in a way only he could.
“I’ve never worn jeans before,” she says afterwards and he gawks at her from the bed as he watches her get dressed in the small bedroom of their small apartment in downtown Austin.
“You’re kidding,” he says but she giggles and shakes her head.
“They feel weird… I don’t…” she takes a deep breath. “I look alright?” She asks and she stands there at the foot of the bed in blue jeans and her bra.
“You look amazing,” he says, staring at her and she feels herself blush in the darkness of the – their - bedroom. “We’re buying you more jeans this weekend,” he then adds and she laughs, tucking strands of hair behind her ears as she turns back towards the mirror. “You’re the most fascinating girl I’ve ever met,” he says, his voice in that deep yet quiet tone he only uses, she’s found, when he’s most serious.
Blair turns and looks at him again. “I wish you had seen me a few months ago… I was…”
“But you’re not anymore. You’re not her.”
She doesn’t care if she’s late to her first class on her first day at a new school. She crawls back onto the bed, straddling his lap, her fingers lacing behind his neck, and his hands glide up her jean-clad thighs. They both smile.
“You’re not like any boy I’ve ever met,” she tells him.
“And that’s a good thing?” He asks though she knows he knows it is.
She brushes her lips against his. “It’s the best thing,” she murmurs and she shrieks with laughter when he flips them over suddenly and her jeans are sliding down her legs.
She studies and he works and he teaches her how to cook and play football though it usually is just his excuse to tackle her and pin her to the ground. He takes her to Dillon and she meets all of his friends. His brother, Billy, the Taylors, Smash, the famous Jason, Tyra, Matt and Landry. She and Julie instantly seem to bond and Tim beams proudly as Coach challenges Blair to a game of ping-pong in the garage – another thing she’s never done before. She teaches him that movies made before 1990 can be pretty cool and there are books that are just as good without pictures.
She talks to Dan and Serena every day and she rolls her eyes when they tell her that they’re dating again even though she isn’t surprised. And when they come to Austin to visit her, they both stare in shock at the girl standing before them. Tanned with her dark hair longer and curlier, she’s wearing a tee-shirt and a pair of blue jeans and when she brings them to hers and Tim’s apartment, they are even more surprised at how small and yet, how homey it feels. There isn’t a piece of designer furniture in any of the rooms but there are still touches of Blair and Tim mixed together. Sports posters and classic movie posters hanging on the walls. Paperback novels, Sports Illustrated and car and fashion magazines in stacks on the coffee table. A collection of furniture that is both comfortable and though mixed, it matches perfectly.
Tim is there, shaking Dan’s hand and giving Serena a hug, and Dan and Serena watch how at ease they are around one another, teasing and laughing and the lingering touches between them. They also notice how Blair rarely stops smiling.
“You seem… so happy, B,” Serena says as she and Blair are in the kitchen, peeling potatoes to be paired with the steaks Tim and Dan are currently grilling out on their fire escape for dinner.
Blair is still smiling and she almost laughs. “I haven’t thrown up since I moved here with him. He… he loves me,” she then says, almost in awe. “And I love him. I thought after Chuck… I thought Chuck was it for me.”
And Serena’s mouth falls open for the countless time and her eyes well with tears. “Oh, Blair…” the two embrace in a crushing hug.
Billy drives in and the five of them have dinner together, Billy having them all laughing about the misadventures of the Riggins boys growing up. And afterwards, when she tells everyone that she doesn’t need help to wash the dishes, she stands at the sink in the kitchen, her hands immersed in soapy water.
“Who would have thought that Blair Waldorf would ever wash dishes?” Dan teases as he comes into the small kitchen for another bottle of beer and he laughs as she flicks soap at him.
Tim comes in, slipping behind her, his chest firm to her back, and his arms circle around her waist. She smiles, hums from the back of her throat, and his lips skim down the side of her throat.
Her life in Austin couldn’t be more different than the life she had had in New York.
But Just Blair couldn’t be happier about that.