A/N Sorry for the long, long, long wait. Writers block is not fun. Hope you enjoy the last chapter - Blair finally made it to the Cotillion.

Chapter 14

It was the day Dan could honestly say he'd been waiting for. Watching as Blair walked towards him in a stunning dress, he couldn't help the smile that stretched across his face. Taking his place next to her at the top of the stairs, he didn't hear a word the lady was saying as he got lost in all that was Blair.

Thankful that the applause dragged him from his musing, Dan held his elbow out nearly cheering himself when he noticed Blair was only really taking it as part of the ritual and not because she needed to lean on him.

Making it to the bottom, he guided Blair to the side as they waited for the rest of the girls to finish being introduced. "You look beautiful."

The sincerity in Dan's voice made her blush and she wondered if this was who he had always been underneath all the UES required douchebag-ness.

Hearing the start of the song, Blair clutched his hand tighter in hers, this was the moment of truth she was either going to fit in or embarrass herself completely.

Letting herself relax into his familiar embrace, Blair breathed in his aftershave and felt her nerves finally steady. "Here goes nothing."

Lost in their waltz, the pair didn't notice when the song ended and switched to the next one, instead continuing to dance as if they were the only two in the room.

"Jenny looks beautiful and she certainly knows how to make a statement."

"That she does. Did you see announcer lady's face when she noticed those weird finger only gloves Jen has on?"

"She has a name. But yes I did, the poor woman looked like she was going to tumble down the stairs any second there."

"Okay, so she has a name. What is it?"

"That's beside the point." Blair looked up at Dan hoping he'd drop it while she managed to maintain some façade of control.

"Fine. There is just one thing that's bugging me though. If this is the dress which you said someone deserved to wear. How could I have seen it before?"

Hearing the confusion and slight distress in Dan's voice, Blair quickly guided them off the dance floor and through the doors happy to be breathing in the crisp air as she tried to follow Dan's confusing thoughts. "What do you mean you've seen it before?"

"Well I must have seen it before as in the other world, my dream world, the one I lived in while I was in my coma. You wore it at the cotillion too. Except you went with Nate."

Blair sat up straighter as she heard that. "What else happened there?"

"A lot of stuff, five years passed for me. My dad was actually nice, Dorota was a spectacular person who worked for your family, my dad married Serena's mum despite the fact that I dated Serena. My mum was around for a bit before she left again. Your parents were somewhat around. You mum was at least and she was married to this short, jewish guy - Cyrus - but he was one of the nicest people ever. You wore a lot of headbands. There was this crazy stalker person named Gossip Girl. Oh and Chuck hated me. Just to name a few."

Finally noticing Blair's silence, Dan turned to look at her worried when he realised the colour had drained from her face. "Are you okay?"

"I'm so sorry Dan."

Feeling his eyebrows pull together, Dan wondered whether Blair had finally lost it. She was apologising for a world that doesn't exist. "Blair… what?"

Fighting the urge to run, Blair took a deep breath before looking at Dan. Holding out her hand, Blair hoped he'd take it knowing it might be the last time he's this civil to her. "I have to show you something."

Not understanding what was going on but seeing how desperately Blair was trying to hold on, Dan put his hand in hers, squeezing it in an attempt to make her feel better.

They walked in silence to Blair's building, Dan's worry increasing as he felt Blair continue to tense to the point that it was interfering with the now usual smoothness of her gait. Feeling hesitant as Blair led him through the abandoned looking lower level up to her bedroom, Dan wondered just what he had said that had caused such a change.

Letting Blair guide him, Dan rested against her headboard as she moved around her room, collecting her laptop and searching a while before she appeared to find what she was looking for. "Here. Read this."

Hey Upper East Siders, Gossip Girl here... and I have the biggest news ever. One of my many sources, Melanie91, sends us this: Spotted at Grand Central, bags in hand: Serena van der Woodsen. Was it only a year ago our It-Girl mysteriously disappeared for quote 'boarding school'? And just as suddenly she's back. Don't believe me? See for yourselves: Lucky for us, Melanie91 sent proof. Thanks for the photo, Mel!

Unable to believe what he was reading, Dan scrolled through the document stopping at various points as he continued to try to come to terms with the fact that his dream world was staring back at him from Blair's laptop, ending at the moment where Dan walked away from Serena after the incident in the bar. Right before he woke up in this new, or old, world.

Watching as Dan opened and closed his mouth a few times, seemingly unable to find the words, Blair felt the knot in her stomach tighten.

"I- I used to read the story out loud to myself as I typed. It was part of my therapy. I didn't realise you could actually hear me. I know they say that having a person there typically helps recovery and even if I was furious with you I didn't want you to spend the rest of your life in a coma. Particularly if your recovery meant everyone would finally leave me alone. This isn't a great apology is it."

Dan laughed unable to help himself, he thought it might be shock setting in. "No it really isn't. I just, I don't understand. Why did you make Chuck hate me?"

At the pain in Dan's voice Blair wanted nothing more than to wrap her arms around him. Instead she wrapped them around herself not able to deal with the possible rejection that might arise if she completed that action.

"You don't understand. I was so angry. At both of you. At myself. If I had just let you get hit I wouldn't have lost the use of my legs. I wouldn't be under the scrutiny of all the rest of our moronic classmates who were convinced I pushed you into traffic and then somehow ended up getting myself hit instead. I wouldn't have had the little that my life amounted to become basically nothing. And I couldn't hate you because you were in a coma. And what's the point at being angry at a person who doesn't have the cognitive capacity to realise it? And Chuck treated me like dirt on the rare occasion he saw me. Taking out his guilt on me. It seemed like one of the only ways I could make you as miserable as I was, even if it wasn't real."

Blair jumped as she felt Dan's hand wrap around her's again. Looking up at him, she saw only understanding in his eyes and as a result she let herself be led over to sit down beside him.

"You don't have to apologise Blair. It's my fault that you even had to have therapy to start with. I really fucked this up didn't I? Jenny became a cold, vindictive bitch, you became bitter and were more isolated then before, Chuck stopped womanising - okay, that one's not necessarily a bad thing but still." Unsure how it would be received, Dan hesitantly pulled Blair into a tight embrace, running his hands up and down her back. Breathing a sigh of relief as she relaxed into him, Dan knew they needed to figure out how to move on from their guilt. "Why'd you make Nate the way he was?"

"Before everything went down. I remember thinking that while it was kind of nice that you and Chuck had each other, a third person would maybe help bridge the gaps in your personalities and I remember thinking Nate would do that really well. If you guys ever actually noticed him." Pausing Blair figured out how to phrase the next bit. "Given Chuck was awake, it was easier to be pissed at him so I amplified his personality, and in that world, a friend of Chuck's - no matter how outwardly nice, needed a little bit of douchebag. So I took some of Jake's personality and named him Nate Archibald."

"But why have him cheat on you and with Serena who you'd written as your best friend?"

Turning her eyes to her fingernails, Blair began picking at them as she fought the shame that was threatening to overwhelm her. "My parent's have never been around and they never hired Dorota or anyone for that matter. Between that, having no real friends and the whole trying to do a good deed and getting punished for it, I just figured I didn't deserve happiness in either world."

"Oh Blair. You can't possibly believe that."

"Not as much anymore, Dr Roberts helped with a lot of my self-image issues, mainly through analysing the way I portrayed myself in that other world. Like questioning why I gave myself bulimia, or why I wrote away my chances of Yale." Feeling Dan's arms tighten around her, Blair wondered how their relationship had changed so much that she felt safe in his arms and was willing to confess things to him that took Dr Roberts months to get out of her.

Sensing a change in Dan, Blair looked up at him confused about the intensity with which he was gazing at her.

"I know you stopped the story as you with Chuck and me with Serena, but how did you envision your story ending? You with me or with Chuck or Nate or someone else entirely?"

"Why does it matter?"

"It matters to me. You matter to me."

Wrapping her hand around Dan's, Blair buried herself into Dan's side, listening to his heart beat steadily under her ear. "I don't know. I have absolutely no idea how it ends."

"So I still have a chance?"

Laughing lightly, Blair leaned up and pressed her lips to his softly. "Yes Dan, you still have a chance."

As Dan lay there in Blair's slightly scary, uncared for home, he finally acknowledged some very important things. First and foremost, in case he had any remaining doubts, this was the real world. Secondly he was very close to labelling himself as falling in love with Blair and a very large step of that process was letting go of the guilt he'd been holding. While Blair would never beat Usain Bolt or Florence Griffith-Joyner in a sprint, her doctors predicted at least a 90% recovery and if their waltz was anything to go by he had no doubts she'd surpass even the doctors' expectations. Thirdly that while his coma life had things he wished he had, namely his closeness with his father and Vanessa, it had never really existed. It was a world that was a manifestations of Blair's wishes for family and likely latent guilt over Juliette's suicide. It was her way of paying respect to Vanessa's sister the only way she could. He accepted that in this world, Vanessa and Penelope had created an 'I hate Dan Humphrey' club. And that even if he couldn't stop his friends from getting hurt - as was the case with Nate, he could be there for them when they were hurting. He could definitely introduce them to the very pretty candy striper from his ward of the hospital who goes to Dalton and then celebrate with Nate and possibly Chuck when they hit relationship milestones. And even though he didn't like it he could also accept that the two who hurt his friend also brought out the the best in each other: Jake became a slightly more tolerable human being and Serena a little bit more outgoing.

Pressing a kiss to the crown of Blair's head. Dan felt her shift against him as she truly relaxed for what was likely the first time ever. If he had anything to say about it Blair was never going to feel unworthy, unloved or like she didn't matter ever again. It didn't matter if in the end Blair didn't end up with him, he would make sure she knew she had him forever in whatever capacity she wanted. Who knew all it would take is one little car crash to wake him up.

- - THE END - -

A/N So I know it's been an unfairly long journey for a reasonably short piece but thanks for staying through it with me. I have now learnt it is a lot harder to write a story from another person's prompts and character designs then from your own mind but appreciated the challenge nonetheless, hope you all liked it. Let me know what you thought. ~ Gabz