dedication: to V and to Dicey, because you both asked for this. also to Rachel, because hot damn but do I love you.
notes: don't… look… at me…
title: the awful edges where you end and i begin
summary: Serena, on leaving. — Serena/Nate, Serena/Dan, Serena/Blair, Serena/Vanessa.
daddy, where are you?
She's ten, and her father is leaving.
No, not leaving: left.
She's ten, and her father has left.
And it's like, okay, she gets it—people fall out of love. Blair falls in and out of love with Nate every three days, and that's totally normal! But parents are people who get married, and being married means that you're stuck together forever because you promised, and—
She's ten, and her father is gone.
His things are gone. There's not a scrap of him left at all, especially because her mother has decided to once again raze their apartment to the ground. She shivers, an unhappy little thrill down her spine, and thinks maybe it's a good thing it's winter. Winter sucks. Winter kills things, it doesn't, it doesn't—
Things break, for a while.
The net thing she knows, she's crawling into Blair's bed, shaking with tears tracking their way down her cheeks, and Blair's tiny soft hands are smoothing over her hair as she whispers:
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry, oh my god, Serena, I'm so, so, so sorry…"
But Blair still has her father, and now Serena doesn't, so whether Blair's sorry or not doesn't really matter, does it?
(God, she hates that thought, hates how vindictive she feels, hates how—she hates everything right now, but mostly she hates her mom. Her father's gone because her mom wants him gone, and he didn't take her with him. He didn't even ask.)
Serena hides her face in Blair's cream skirt, and cries until she has no tears left.
me, myself, & i
She's barely fifteen, and she doesn't want to go.
It's for the best, Serena. You need to get your head on straight, says her mother in the back of her head, echoey and sharp.
Whatever, mom, she'd seethed, and then she'd run for the door.
Now, she mostly feels like she's going to vomit.
Serena's killed a lot of things in this world (bugs and relationships, mostly), but this burns in a different way entirely. Betrayal is the easiest thing, on the Upper East Side, but she never thought she'd betray Blair.
She never thought she'd even think about it.
But she can still taste Nate's mouth and the champagne stains on her dress haven't come out yet and—and—
And she can't be here.
She just can't.
The trip to LaGuardia takes forever. Time drips slow like honey in a jar, and her hair is a golden mess pressed up against the window. The taxi driver is quiet, at least, and Serena wants to thank him for that. Thank you for not prying. Thank you for not caring. Thank you.
Serena gets out of the taxi with nothing but her credit card and a spare pair of underwear stuffed into her bag. It's easier this way, and Serena's always leaving. She's always left. She buys a first class ticket to a country she can't remember, pays on the spot, and takes the next flight out.
She's fucking choking on it.
It's raining, and she doesn't even text Blair goodbye.
nate & dan are a thing now?
She's nineteen, and Dan and Nate are leaving.
She knew—she knew they were friends. Or acquaintances, maybe. She knew that they knew each other, anyway, is the point. She knew that they'd both loved her once, and that people bonded over loving her. They'd also both loved Blair, and bonding over loving Blair is a thing, too.
Hell, who knows, they might have bonded over being white dudes who wanted to touch dicks.
She doesn't know anymore. She doesn't really care.
Dan presses his mouth against the pulse in her neck, and he murmurs "I'm sorry."
It's probably for the better that it was only the pulse in her neck that his lips touched. She doesn't know how she'd deal with anything else—at least this way she doesn't burst into tears, shaking with her fury beneath her skin.
(She'd drink it away, but Serena's not that girl anymore. She thinks of Dan, at the beginning, and clenches her fists only a little.)
"I'm not," she tells him, and that's true, at least. He deserves that. Truth, from her.
Nate doesn't even touch her.
That's definitely for the better.
(But he does watch her, green eyes burning, and Serena knows that if she ever really loved anyone, it was Nate. Not the way she loves Blair, because Blair is Blair, and Serena has never, never loved anyone the way she loves Blair, but—but Nate came close. Nate is close. And she does love him, too, in her own way.)
"So, you guys are a… thing now, huh? What does Vanessa think about it?"
Dan twitches like he's trying to shake off a fly, and she bites back the urge to laugh. Ridiculous, totally ridiculous. Vanessa's still a sore subject, beautiful and dangerous and wild.
Dan totally has a type, and that type is wild.
But she doesn't give him the satisfaction.
"We'll be back," he says, slowly, sweetly, and she from the husky drop of his voice and the pain in his dark eyes, she can tell that he wants her to know that he means it; that he still loves her, would take her back in a second. "Vanessa's… she thinks it's okay. But we'll be back, Serena, I promise."
Nate's hand closes around his elbow, and Serena smiles gently, doesn't call him on the lie. If he's coming back, it won't be for her—it'll be for his sister, and maybe for Nate, or maybe even for Blair.
(Everyone always comes back for Blair, and Serena can't even judge them for it. She did it, too.)
"I know you will," she says instead, and pats his cheek.
Because frankly? She doesn't care either way.
Blair is waiting in the car.
And Blair is really all that Serena needs, anyway.
and in your worst nightmares, blair—
She's twenty-two, and Blair is getting married.
This should not be a surprise. This should not be a shock. This should not be—it shouldn't be anything, she always knew that eventually Blair and Chuck would get their shit together because if anyone was a fairytale princess, it was Blair Waldorf.
Yeah, Chuck Bass is a disgusting excuse for a human being, but he makes Blair happy, and—
And that's really all Serena wants.
Blair to be happy.
And so she sits through the wedding planners. She sits through Blair going Bridezilla on everyone in the vicinity. She sits through measurements, through flower arrangements, through Eleanor and Elizabeth eyeing each other suspiciously (and yeah, okay, she's totally with Eleanor on this one. Bart's mother is sketchy as fuck). She sits through the meltdowns, the four times Blair nearly calls the whole thing off, and the late-night cappuccinos because martinis are so passé.
She sits and she stays and even though there is a deep dark part of her that wants to grab Blair and carry her out and away right now, she knows that her best friend needs her in a way that said best friend has never needed anyone.
Although how they end up in the church is a mystery, because Serena definitely does not remember putting this dress on.
(It's not hideous, but it is pink, and there is a reason Serena doesn't do pink, but, well. For Blair, she will. For Blair, she does.)
"Serena?" Blair's voice is a tiny, scared whisper on the other side of the door.
"I'm here, Bee," Serena says, and her stomach clenches violently when Blair's thin hands push the door open and she's standing there in white, boat-necked lace across her collarbones and down her arms. Her lips are the fast furious red of arterial blood, pressed into her mouth, her lovely dark curls pulled up into a perfect chignon at the back of her head.
She's so beautiful that it hurts to look at her.
"You look gorgeous, Bee," Serena says, and it's the first honest thing she's said in months.
"I'm scared," Blair whispers again. "What if—what if—?"
"I'll kill him," Serena says simply. It covers all her bases, she figures.
(Actually, she might not kill him. If Chuck stands Blair up again—well, there won't be any need for the scrambling scratching panic that's biting at the back of Serena's eyes, and maybe she won't feel like this anymore.)
Blair nods, smiles a little tremulously, and she's the only real thing in the world anymore.
"I'm getting married," she says, and looks at Serena with wide, awe-stricken eyes.
"Yeah," Serena says, "you are."
Blair turns away, and it takes everything inside of Serena not to start screaming.
And later, after the vows are exchanged, after she stands across from Nate holding Blair's bouquet and smiles so forcefully that her cheeks hurt, Serena forces herself to breathe. Blair and Chuck are gone, got on a plane for their happily-ever-after, just like everyone always promised. Nate and Dan are gone, too, wrapped up in each other, and yeah, there's some sick justice in this, wow.
They're gone, and Serena drinks herself under the table.
(Everyone's always leaving, and even when they come back, it's not for her.)
vanessa? i think you mean wonder woman
"Jesus, I don't remember you being this heavy."
Serena blinks blearily. She's twenty-two and she's—okay, she's kinda gone, the world blurring around her and narrowing into a face with dark skin and light eyes; it's a very nice face, one that she recognizes from somewhere a long time ago. She was young
"'Nessa? Wha're you—doin? Here? I though you n'Dan—wait, no, Dan n'Nate are—"
"God, he said it bad, but I didn't think it was this bad. Dan invited me to piss Blair off," Vanessa says, tight dark curls falling over her face. Her hands close around Serena's shoulders, drag her upwards. "Gross, you smell like a brewery. How much have you had to drink?"
"Dunno," Serena slurs into Vanessa's chest. Her head lolls—it's been such a long time since she's been drunk like this.
"I thought you knew better than this, Van Der Woodsen," Vanessa sighs.
"Tha's my name!" Serena laughs, loud and raucous, aiming to shove Vanessa away but she's stronger than she looks and Serena—Serena can't. "Blair's a Bass, now. What's up with tha, right?"
"You are a wreck," Vanessa says, and it's almost kind.
"Starkle, starkle, little twink, who the tell am I to hink—"
"Oh my god, were you the one who taught Dan that stupid rhyme? I—no, you know what, stop, I'm taking you back to my room so you can sleep this off. You need to sleep."
"I'm sorry," Serena says, but she doesn't know who she's apologizing to.
"I know," Vanessa says.
And that kind of sucks, too.
Serena falls forwards, and the darkness takes her—
(vanessa? yeah, you definitely mean wonder woman)
—until there's sunlight pouring in from somewhere, and she opens her eyes to squint darkly at it.
"Ow," is the first word that comes out of her mouth.
She doesn't know how old she is, and she doesn't know where she is, and she has no idea what's going on. She feels like she's sixteen again, sleeping with strangers and dancing on tabletops, drinking too much and ending up face-down in her own vomit. That was okay when she was sixteen, but she's twenty-two, and this hangover is killing her.
"Morning, sunshine," a voice from the doorway says.
There's too much light, and her head hurts, but Serena manages to push herself up in bed enough that she can see the woman who saved her sorry ass the previous night. Vanessa's holding a cup of water and what looks like a bottle of Advil.
"Oh my god, I love you," Serena says, makes grabby hands.
Vanessa's chuckle is a low soft thing that hums through Serena's bones, but she's too busy gulping down pills and water to notice. For a minute, she sinks back. And then:
"Sorry," Serena says. "I was kinda a mess last night."
"I've seen worse," Vanessa says, neutral and yeah, yeah, she probably has. Serena winces.
There is a long silence between them, old and deep.
"Blair's married," Serena says, numbly. "My best friend is married. She's married and gone."
"My best friend is gay for my ex-boyfriend," Vanessa says. "Your ex-boyfriend is gay for my ex-boyfriend. That's pretty fucked up. Blair Waldorf married to Chuck Bass? Almost as fucked up as Dan and Nate fucking, but not quite."
"Wow," she says, because. Well. Wow. She hasn't really thought of it like that. "I didn't—wow."
Vanessa snorts. "Yeah, I know. Hey, you okay?"
"No," Serena says.
"I didn't think so," Vanessa murmurs, and there's something knowing in her voice.
Loss, that's it.
And then she's crawling into rumpled sheets next to Serena, looping her arms around her shoulders. Vanessa smells like sandalwood and vanilla, like the open sky, and for a second the only thing Serena can do is breathe in stupidly like a child.
And then she's crying, and she doesn't know why.
"It's okay," Vanessa says. "I got you. I'm not going anywhere."
And somehow, despite all history to contradict it, Serena believes her.
(She won't kiss the other woman until later, but it'll make her head spin and she'll understand. She'll understand. She'll understand.