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Leave Out All The Rest

 

Title: Leave Out All The Rest
Author: Sky Samuelle
Spoilers: For 2.13 only
Rating: For everyone, so far
Summary: Eric and the aftershock of his family falling apart in ‘Brother, where the bart are you’, throughout three conversations: with his sister, with his mother, with Chuck. A verbal family portrait, if you want. It'll turn in a Chuck-rescue story.CB.
 

  
 

 

AN: I write this in response to a prompt by my friend Leona. I hope you enjoy it, even if it turned out a bit different from our original intentions.

Don't be afraid
I've
taken my beating
I've shared what I've made

I'm strong on the surface
Not all the way through
I've never been perfect
But neither have you

So if you're asking me
I want you to know

When my time comes

Forget the wrong that I’ve done
Help me leave behind some
Reasons to be missed

Don't resent me
And when you're feeling empty
Keep me in your memory

Leave out all the rest

--Linkin Park-

PART ONE: FAMILY

“You are leaving” Eric states dispassionately, standing on the threshold of his sister’s bedroom, watching her packing.

Two suitcases are on her bed and she is bent over them, taking in and out an endless array of colourful stuff that Eric doesn’t care to identify. The scene reeks of deja-vu and he hates the feeling. It’s too difficult to accept that they came all this way this past year, just to lose all their progress so quickly, so unexpectedly.

“ I’ve decided to give Aaron a real chance” Serena chirps lightly, pretending that this isn’t an inappropriate, hopeless replay of her last departure. He wants to snort, to deliver some crude but true comment that will force Serena to stop her impatient business and look at him instead.

But that is more of a Chuck Bass way of doing things. He can’t tell to his sister that she is acting like her mother’s daughter, even if that’s the uncomfortable truth. Van Der Woodsens don’t shape their reality to match their feelings; they reshape their feelings to grow comfortable in their reality.

“And do you need going in Brazil to do that? ” There’s enough incredulous sarcasm here that his sister can’t not pick up on it, but Serena just shrugs, stalks to her huge, open closet and, still avoiding to glance at him, replies noncommittally “Some time apart to unstress will do all of us good”

“Yeah, because that strategy has worked so well in past”

For a moment he’s surprised at how condescending he sounds. It’s almost as if his brother’s shadow is lurking behind his tone. It makes his chest heave with a bitterness that tastes like angry nostalgia.

“It’s different” Serena shrugs once more, distracting herself with the hard choice between an ankle-length cream-colored shirt and dark blue shorts.

Eric is tempted to argue that it’s not all that different. Last time she had ran away from an imaginary murder, from a lifetime where she was too scared to take a chance with Nate and too selfish to not monopolize his attention. She had come back stronger and gentler. Now she was running from a broken family and a broken love before the mirage of might-be-been finished dissolving into dust.

Different complications, same pattern.

He would empathize more if he wasn’t the one who usually lingers behind, still and quiet and fading into the background as two blonde and wilful women rush him by.

“Do I need remind you how you clung to Dan in front of Aaron at Bart’s funeral? That you actually went on a hissy fit when Chuck wanted him out? Chuck, who had just lost his only parent? You can’t box all of that and hope things fix by themselves while you are on vacation!”

This time, his words must have reached her, because she shoved her clothes back into the closet with a deep sigh and turned toward him, arms crossing defensively in from of her chest. “It’s all over, I can’t do anything about… anything, if I stay!”

“Like you can’t make your heart leave out Dan and take in the new boyfriend? It’s not stopping you from trying! If you stay, maybe we can still get through to Chuck, bring him back to home. He has no one left now. He shouldn’t be alone, even if he believes he has to.”

Serena shakes her head. “I’ve know him longest than you did, Eric. He has a short memory span when it comes to certain facts. There was a time when I saw him and Nate more often than our mother and then I was away for one year and it was all gone, like the four of us had never grown alongside each other. I know he makes it easy and safe when he plays your scheming protector…he was like that to me and Blair once. It doesn’t mean the same to him as it does to you. It doesn’t stop him from ripping you apart if it becomes convenient.”

Eric falters a little before his sister’s suddenly intense gaze, remembering Chuck’s haunting, hard expression of exasperated anger and disgust the last time they spoke. It’s not that he didn’t know Chuck had a penchant for harsh lashing-outs, but experiencing it first-hand had been an unexpected low-blow.

Yet, there were other factors to take in consideration. Like the fact that Eric had never had never had to put up with the offensive jokes and pranks most of young guys do when they confess publicly their homosexuality. A Bass’s approval and support came in a variety of strangely-shaped, omitted-when-in conversation-ways.

“The point is that it meant something for us. So we should simply…let him pull away?”

Indecision softens Serena’s features for a fistful of silent seconds, colouring it slightly hopeful, but he knows everything is lost when she looks away and toward the open suitcases.

“He won’t allow you to help until he cools. Get in his way before that and he will remove you forcefully, in the most traumatic fashion imaginable. ”

It occurs to him for the first time that maybe she was anticipating this falling out before the wake, before the funeral. That she really cares about Chuck too, even if she was uneasy with demonstrating it in front of goody idealist ex-boyfriends.

“Serena…”

“Let Blair handle him for now. If there’s someone who can reach him when he is like this, it’s her. ”

Eric doesn’t really know what to do with that statement. On a hand, he doesn’t feels like getting chewed out by a grief-stricken, hateful step-brother again, especially if he must do it alone. It makes him feel like a delusional, clingy kid who imagines affection even where it isn’t here.

On another hand, he is willing to risk his pride if there’s a chance for success, and leaving it all on Blair’s shoulders doesn’t feel right.

“They got the same coping mechanisms.”

Blair has been uncharacteristically mellow around their brother so far. But how do two people who are constantly on the defensive meet without crashing?

“And that’s why they will somehow manage to communicate with each other in their own twisted, mysterious code.”

She looks like so sure of herself as she says it, and the sad smile on her lips matches that in her cerulean eyes, so Eric finds himself nodding, believing.

Perhaps they are just taking the easy way out, but even Nate has been reluctant to go after Chuck in his moody state. What does he know? Perhaps they are right and waiting the storm out will sort this mess out.


Eric understands that time is not a reliable medicine when he finds his mother holding her head in her hands, curled up on the couch in front of the fireplace.

She doesn’t acknowledges his entrance at first, but then she seems to shake herself out of her daze, recognizing his steps as he advances toward her, and she uncovering her face to turn it toward him.

Her eyes are clouded by some heavy emotion too disquieting to name, like she wanted to cry but forbade herself to, and she bites her lips before confessing:

“I drove Charles out of New York.”

Her voice is low, tired. He has heard her use this intonation only few times and he never liked the news it delivered.

“Where has he gone? ”

“All I know is that Arthur drove him to the airport last night, and that he hadn’t cared to pack anything.”

“That is not much to go on.” Eric frowns. Losing track of Chuck now, on top of Serena being out of reach and Lily on verge of cracking , isn’t giving him a positive outlook on the situation.

He wants to say that if there was no luggag then, the trip would be short but it would be a lie too uninspired and transparent to be of any comfort.

“I know- she hesitates, pinching the bridge of her delicate nose and puffing a little breath- I’m afraid for him, all alone God-only-knows-where and so very angry…I should have him handled him better.”

Eric lays a sympathetic hand on her shoulder, feels her body tremble slightly at the contact and represses the misgiving her reaction gives.

“He’s difficult to know how to handle”

Lily’s naked lips curl up in a grimace of gratitude, but by the next second she is looking down at her Gucci shoes.

“I told him Bart’s death was his fault”

“What?”

He must have misheard, he is certain of it until Lily’s gaze lifts to meet his once more. Guilty as charged.

“I’m so sorry”- dejectedly-spoken, her excuses tumble out of her mouth in a broken rush- “but you know how he can be, aiming clever insults and going for the kill. And I felt so guilty, for chatting up Rufus when Bart was asking for a second chance… ”

Eric’s mouth hangs open as he listens her ranting, the onslaught of shock and indignation silencing any request for clarity he could to want to formulate.

It was starkly clear now, why Chuck was so deliberately, violently disrespectful to his step-mother while he mostly ignored his stepsiblings. The marriage was going to end anyhow, the same way the rest of her relationships –romantic or not- sank in the past. The boy idly wondered if his mother would use those stupid files as a excuse to end everything, to avoid working through the difficulties and jump to her old flame. There had been an affair? If so, he didn’t want to know. Ironically, he already feels cheate, for buying the fairytale act and believing that this time around would be different, with Bart’s stolid solidity grounding Lily’s natural flightiness, Chuck’s raging pessimism balancing Serena’s fragile optimism.

“… I’m so very ashamed. Charles was putting the blame on me and I felt so awful about his accusation that I just said the most hurtful… I never meant those things. None of them. They just… came out. ”

“Wait, what did you say to him, exactly? Beside accusing him of causing his father’s death, that’s it. ”

He tries to contain the reproach and disappointment steeling his inquiry, because he fears his mother will close up before sharing vital information, but he’s not at all displeased with himself when he fails at the task and feels them seeping in.

Lily makes an odd gesture with her hand, as if to smooth her hair back although it’s already pulled in a tight bun, but she doesn’t shies away from his accusing gaze.

Seeking absolution, mom? Pretty useless if you never learn.

She sits a bit straighter, rubbing her chin, resignation and defeat written all over her beautiful face.

“I told him Bart would never have come to the Dance if he hadn’t called him.- a pause, a self-depreciating sigh- That he called his father because they were the same. Untrusting, controlling. God, what a kind of person spits all of that on a grieving son? On a boy she cares for?”

And Lily pins him again with dry, pleading blue eyes but Eric is drained speechless. He can’t be spiteful to his mother for the same reasons he can never stay mad at Serena. They are lost, flawed girls hiding under the guise of elusive, graceful goddesses, burning harder to blind everyone with their light, too scared someone could touch them and realize the inconsistency underneath.

“To think I had the gall to preach at him about how he was supposed to open up, value the people who love him like his father never did… I’m horrible.”

For some reason, watching her to cry all over herself is beginning to grate him, more and more with every passing second. Yes, she is been horrible. The living proof that wicked stepmoms are real and arrogant about it too. No, he doesn’t know what a kind of person spews all that bullshit on a recently orphaned seventeen-years old, but probably not a very decent one.

What does Lily expects now her confession-time is over? A complacent pat on her back? A hug? His blessing for another doubtlessly doomed try with Rufus? Oh God, he had been so idiotic to play along and agree to spend Thanksgiving with the Humphreys!

“No- he interjects firmly- you are immature and egocentric, which is probably why Chuck once claimed to like you.”

As a matter of fact, Chuck had stated so once, when they were sharing a joint during the Van Der Bass honeymoon. Brotherly bonding while stoned, such a classy occupation.

You know, little E, perhaps I am more like the Van Der Woodsen half of the family: sexy, easy and utterly shameless about it.

Eww, Chuck. That’s odd if you think it over. So, am I like Bart, gloomy and boring?

Mhh, not so much. I sense you got at least a tiny bit of humour hiding under that dreadfulyl highlighted mop.

Don’t insult my hair.

I’m stating a fact. If I was insulting, I would get so much more creative.

Lily flinches, but Eric doesn’t stop talking. Suddenly, he is so full of words than he feels like he could burst if he doesn’t get them out of his system.

“You are the adult in this so called family, it doesn’t matter how often you forget it. Do you want to know a thing? Any rude, cruel remark he could have used against you shouldn’t have fazed you. If you could focus on anyone else beside yourself for more than three minutes, you would have realized he was just pointing his finger at you to not hold himself responsible!“

His mother stands up, finally, her expression alive with distress.

“I know it! Don’t you think I would take it all back if I could? I brewed a disaster, and in the end it was all for nothing, and now I’ve a missing stepson with no chance to fix it.”

Eric shrinks back from the arm which stretches toward him, from the palm reaching out.

In the end it was all for nothing. He should have asked what she meant by it, but he feels already sufficiently stuffed with bad feelings that he doesn’t want inside. He can be a coward, but he won’t give his mother the chance to disappoint him more. Not today at least.

So he turns on his heels and leaves the room. He will abuse his i-pod and pretend he is in an empty house.. It was the sounds he grew up to and once hated but now he finds it preferable to Lily’s hypocritical platitudes.


Two days later, someone calls him at 4:30 am. Insistently, until he wakes and grabs the musical disturbance on his bedside.

Unknown number, the display reveals, but Eric’s brain snaps alert in a nanosecond. He knows - or at least, he hopes he does- who might be calling at this hour.

“Hello?”

Sounds unidentifiable, loud voices and crappy music blend together in an unpromising cacophony, but no voice answers him.

“Chuck?”

A breath hitches on the other side and Eric sits up smiling.

“I’m drunk-calling”

His inopportunely welcome anonymous caller justifies, slurring heavily around every single syllable.

“Really?”

Talk about obvious statements.

“Yeah, really. I thought I would check in, just to see if you were still as pathetic to expect a goodbye kiss”

Eric briefly tries to summon the image, then shakes it off with mild embarrassment.

“I don’t know if I am any more pathetic than a guy who calls me just to verify my degree of patheticism “

A booming, gasping laughter from his interlocutor awards the attempt to wit. It’s encouraging to get something right, finally.

“Where are you?”

“What does it matter? I’m not coming back.”

“Okay”

It’s not okay, but what can he do about it? Beside keeping a would-be brother drunk out of his ass talking, until some hints of his whereabouts were unwillingly given?

“It’s okay- Chuck confirms, all at once calmer, less entertained -you should say so to Blair. Get her to remember how awful I am. It will heal her romantic misconceptions”

“I don’t follow you”

“Oh shit, are you turning into Nathaniel?”

Eric can imagine the smirk, the gratuitous eye-rolling and mimics both. “Please…- if that ever happens, he is so signing himself in Ostroff with no complaints- anyway, what’s about Blair?”

Chuck scoffs loudly, but eventually follows through his original line of conversation “Apparently she loves me and would stand at my side through anything. She told so. It was a very dramatic, poetically worded declaration. I bet she has written it and tried it on in front of the mirror before joining in my family drama.”

“That would be a very Blair-thing to do.- Eric admits, quite amused to smell a glimmer of gratification under the amplified crassness and bravado- Tell me again why you are gloating from what I assume is another country and not straight in my face?”

A sound of things crashing and shattering ensues in reply, but there are no words.

“Hey! Have I just struck the great Chuck Bass speechless?”

It’s the first time Eric uses the ‘I’m Chuck Bass ‘ aphorism against its owner, and he does so with an unplanned, ironic acrimony. Perhaps he felt more betrayed than he first allowed himself to realize, but this is neither the moment nor the place to share it.

At last, there are words again.

“It’s not so much that I don’t feel- Chuck grumbles into the phone- It’s that what I feel isn’t worth a thing.”

Eric blinks, shell-shocked. He doesn’t have the time to ponder if this obscure affirmation is an apology of sorts or something less or- most likely, something more. There’s a key hidden in between what is been flaunted and what went unsaid, and it’s so very frustrating to not grasp it.

The line falls dead.

END

 

Comments

( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
falsebeginnings
6th Jan, 2009 03:13 (UTC)
Gorgeous. Absolutely gorgeous.
skysamuelle
6th Jan, 2009 12:52 (UTC)
thanks so much! I was so excited to post something new!
bklyangel
6th Jan, 2009 13:42 (UTC)
This was amazing.
bklyangel
6th Jan, 2009 13:52 (UTC)
Just got back from a re-read and I have to say, I love how all of this is from Eric's POV, we never really get to hear much from him. I nhope you continue this through Eric's eyes.
skysamuelle
7th Jan, 2009 10:17 (UTC)
Thank you!
I love Eric and I'll try write him in this story as much possible, but next part the focus will shift a little on the Unjudging Breakfast Club, which I miss terribly of late.
Sigh, what is with the GG writers? Less Brooklyn and more UES, PLEASE!
lily1836
6th Jan, 2009 22:36 (UTC)
that was just incredible! Eric so deserves to be written in more stories! I love Chuck and Blair, their love stories and such but I also really love the friendship stories in GG, and Eric/Chuck is by far my favourite pairing
your writing is fantastic
skysamuelle
7th Jan, 2009 10:14 (UTC)
You are so very kind!
Chuck/Eric is my fav friendship too...it's such a shame that we didn't get see it more on screen. I try my best to revive it in fanfiction, but still!
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )