imp3ratrix: (Whom Lust wishes to destroy makes mad)
[personal profile] imp3ratrix
Title: So Fades a Summer Cloud Away
Category: Gossip Girl
Pairing/Character(s): Tripp/Maureen
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: Not mine.
Word Count: 2,735
Spoilers: Yes (Season 3)
Summary: It is said that time can mend the worst of wounds.

Notes: Meme fill. For [livejournal.com profile] missedshapes.


Their wedding is a pretentious affair.

Flagrant, heralded across front pages and a show of money thrown left and right. A feat of the fantastical, hurricanes come hither, and Maureen can only stand idly by as everything spins around her topsy-turvy. Planners, florists, caterers, musicians… all tending to every detail of her special day with mad urgency.

Others too, buzzing around her and pulling at her hair. Painting the veneer – smiles, a perfect façade – and lacing her up within an inch of her life. All for him, that man – child, boy – and she almost chokes on this illusion of feminine charm and propriety when she meets her reflection in the mirror (lies, lies, lies).

And realises, in the midst of it all, that she is just another detail to be attended to. An accessory for him to be seen with. Left to hold his hand when not enshrouded in shadows, watching from sidelines as all good little wives are expected to do (she’ll play the part, and surprise them all in the end). Only Tripp doesn’t see, never sees, swept up still in his own woes from a thousand years ago, three lifetimes gone and counting.

But she loves him. And he loves her. And that is enough.

(But it is still too early to tell.)


-


That night, Tripp reaches out to unveil her face, to unravel secrets and pretences and to see her for who she is (sees through her instead). Up, up, his fingers seek – trembling – and down, down the cloth falls to the floor, where every disillusion and resentment rests.

Tentative, dizzy with champagne and ailing quick, Maureen pushes aside oh-so-silly fears – nauseating, stomach churning – and focuses on the now, the two of them and tells herself firmly that all is well.

Congratulations, they are finally wed.

They have won for themselves all of eternity–

together.


-


They leave the next day.

He takes her to Paris, where he’s promised her years before. Not Egypt (with her dead Pharaohs and barren lands), nor Greece (forgotten under the weight of past glory and empires), as he may have wanted, once, were he still playing archaeologist and idealist.

But that was a long, long time ago.

Now, he has learned to play and recite the romantic. Takes her hand – how sweet, how cliché, thinks she – and leads her down quaint, cobbled streets. He walks, she glides.

They are in France.

Maureen resists the urge to pinch herself.

“I love it here! Everything is so perfect, so beautiful.”

But Tripp is sombre in his reply, “Yes, I suppose it is.”

She ignores him, the flippancy in his tone, and quickly turns a corner. Moving with purpose she wills her legs forward, desperate to reach some elusive end. Some rare place, just for the two of them, a little beyond the horizon.

(Always just beyond.)

Overhead, a storm begins to brew.

-


They have sex that evening, the wet beats of rain humming hurriedly in the background.

It comes as a shock; unceremonious and frenzied and impersonal. It is not how she pictured her honeymoon (or how he planed it). Still–

I love him, I love him, I love him.

But for all her vehemence, hardened beliefs and affection, there lies in her mantra no reprieve, no compassion or assurance. Rather slivers of melancholy and doubt, drawn out… festering.

The night lingers, the hotel room turns deathly still and she leans her head against his cold, stiff chest when all is through, eyes suddenly glassy. Like a doll’s, listless and lifeless, she wonders and ponders over what went wrong.

Comes up with nothing; empty air for her efforts.

And the silence drags on.

They are disappointed but they are in love. And that is enough, she tells herself, here in France.

Here in France, where love is an art that also harbours a noxious melody.


-


He does not meet her gaze for a week following their return.

Armed with excuses, beckoned duty and birthrights, Tripp buries himself in politics and a world of banality. And before long, forgets her entirely.

It is alarming, a disheartening sign that she is slowly losing him to inescapable traditions, but Maureen can’t claim surprise against the long-awaited, the expected – it was only a matter of time. So she watches from proverbial sidelines as he slaves away tiredly, dispassionately, and sees him age more in that week alone than all the years past. The frowns deepening, the brow furrowing, as she stands ready, willing, with offers to cradle the burden should he need it.

Ever dutiful. Ever loyal.

She has the role of ‘wife’ mastered verbatim.


-


Balls are always a tedious affair, particularly those immersed in politics. In building ties and sizing up opponents, in allegiances and intimidation. But Maureen is a methodical philosopher and understands all too well the importance of first impressions. And so with thousand-kilo-watt smiles and practiced perfect finesse, she breezes through the elderly, bloated crowds and sets charms in place.

“Maureen, please.”

“You simply have to speak with my husband!”

“Yes, I can assure you he will be running next year.”

“Your support is greatly appreciated, thank you.”

The calculated pleasantries continue throughout the night. Approbation and favouritism fall from the heavens as she plays her part – enchanting, ensnaring – and Maureen fancies herself a veritable saviour.

Irreplaceable.

But then she sees William and Tripp embrace and feels an inkling of antipathy. At the murmurs of approval from the crowd, her own efforts suddenly forgotten, the stings of jealousy. A precipice looms in the horizon, crossroads materialize and she can clearly picture the path beckoning her husband dearest. Laid out, ready and waiting since the very beginning.

Honour thy Father and thy Grandfather.

(That simply won’t do.)

Putting plans in place Maureen joins the crowd and claps her hands joyously, acting as if nothing in the world is wrong.


-


Day in and day out, she tells herself that what she has done is in the right.

A simple case of necessity, perhaps even honour – if she were to be bold in her reasoning – all in the name of her darling sweet. And so Maureen obsesses over the minute details of her plan, is fastidious.

Perfection is feasible (so she misconstrues). A perfect opportunity at the perfect moment, picture perfect and Tripp Vanderbilt is labelled a hero. The populace relay their adoration at the ballots and a once neck-to-neck race isn’t so close anymore.

“Tripp, this is fantastic!” she exclaims, hands on his arm and erupting the bumbling, buzzing surprise pounding in his head.

Speechless – impossible – Tripp fancies it all a dream (he pinches himself awake).

“Did you hear me?” she continues, beaming (thousand-kilo-watt smile) at him.

Damn.

“Yeah, I… I can scarcely believe it.”

And a mere second later, misfortune descends – the trump card is played – and the world is abuzz with allegations and condemnation: it was all a hoax.

Quietly and out of sight (out of mind), Maureen scrutinises the damage – the King is exiled whilst the Prince is made a martyr – knowing all too well of accusations and denial and how the two always erupt amid a glorious shower of sulphur and retribution. But no matter.

The votes have already been counted.

Another Vanderbilt wins.


-


Every tale demands an antagonist.

For people like William Vanderbilt, the role comes awfully easy – and so it was simple to lay the blame on him, the assumptions turned truth in an instant. Maureen thinks the deed vindication, the icing on the cake for every misgiving and disfavour afforded her. The necessary catalyst to ensure his timely exit from their lives. But then in a cruel twist of fate she is suddenly cast as the villain, and it is like a mockery of her existence.

For all she has done, all she has fought tooth-and-nail for–

all was – was dead.

Maureen watches her marriage dissipate and even the memories waver, trembling, like fragile glass ready to break. Tripp doesn’t pause to care (never did, not for a lifetime now). Merciless in his confrontation, cold through and through and deaf to reason, he ends it all with four simple words.

“I want a divorce.”

And in that instant, she stops breathing. Heart simply dies.

Stop.


-


In the weeks that follow, she finds meagre sanity in the knowledge that everyone has a talent, the conspicuously intriguing and peculiar. And hers, she learns, is the talent of turning to stone, like a marble statue chiselled fine and noble–

nobly sad.

Immersed in quiet emotion, and extricated from the world. Spine stiff and straight, unmoving. So Maureen sits, head buried among thoughts of him, them and what was. Of the years gone by without her, shifting to the chorus of a different tune and one all too cruel. Of how she thought she knew love, but love this is not.

Love is treacherous, is a chameleon, a devil in disguise.

But for all her failings she cannot – will not – allow their tale to reach its finale quite so soon (nothing fought, nothing gained). So she keeps quiet, reminiscing and deliberating, and it is not long before she manages to tune everything out and focus on the present situation, however difficult it may be.

A Thanksgiving dinner, with mayhem ripe to follow.


-


If writers were to dabble on the subject of her, every effort and action queried, she would certainly be labelled many things.

Possessive. Faithful. Ambitious. Deceptive (so they would be quick to say). But not a fool, never a fool. And so it was that Maureen came to see and suspect an all too crushing truth, paraded right before her with little care and next to no reservation. Words, affirmation, illicit confessions, all were unnecessary and worthless next to the stench of infidelity permeating the air.

Tripp and that girl, Tripp and that girl.

The side-long glances, the secretive smiles; she sees every single act of betrayal as suffocation begins to reverberate across her brain. Quick and heavy and to the point where her arteries are boiling underneath the thinly disguised cover of skin; blistering.

Tripp and that girl, Tripp and that girl.

Hurt – furious – she tells herself she is not going to launch into a tirade, a barrage of hate. She is not going to strangle him that very second (there are witnesses). No, she will be smart and diplomatic and salvage what remains of her marriage, by any and all means necessary.

“Your affair ends now.”

And just like that, all ears perked. Just like that, Maureen saw the squirms and jumpiness in all of them – the rats are caught – when she lays the killing blow: Nate’s telling little video. All implicating and devastating, but even then Tripp isn’t interested in surrender. Not when nonsensical declarations and foolish sentiments continue to pour from his mouth like pillars of faith and virtue.

“This footage, it doesn’t change anything.”

Ignorant entirely to his wrongs, justifying them in the face of her oh so ‘grievous’ sin.

“It doesn’t change what you did.”

Like she deserved this, like everything was her fault.

“I’m still going through with the divorce, and no threat is going to change that.”

That she was the one who single-handedly made them fall out of love, their marriage vows turned meaningless in an instant.

“We’re done.”

And that is that.

Indignant, speechless, she stares at his retreating back and remembers their wedding night. And recalls the sinking, twisting nausea that would not subside. Like an omen. A warning. A disaster waiting for the dams to break.

Maureen shivers against the tide, coat pulled tight.


-


To her surprise, he calls her the next day.

Desperate, frantic, and hellish, Tripp all but pleads for help with burdened stutters and urgent ramblings. Car crashSerenablood and there is no need to scrutinise his motives. To decipher them for some arcane truth, some deeper meaning she may have missed.

Simply, there is no one else for him to turn to.

So she agrees to mitigate the damage, narrowing the act down not to love, but a case of necessity (she has reputations and careers to consider). Playing saviour has always been a particular talent of hers, after all, and this time is no different. Evading common amenities, accelerating through enquiries of what happened and what are we going to do, she directs with practical precision whilst Tripp listens and does without a sound.

Without a word, up until they find themselves outside a local hospital and the guilt is practically simmering and spilling at the edges.

Staring at his back she forces herself to think little on his actions. To kill the dull throbbing in her chest and look impassively on, stepping in only when Nate mentions the police. Diligent to what ought to be done, and quelling the argument before it goes any further – for practicality sakes. But then he’s begging Nate to let him see her and she can take no more, turning on her heel and walking off with a back taut and straight, pausing only at the sound of a scuffle that ends with Tripp on the floor.

Beaten, broken, pitiable.

Vulnerabilities laid bare, eyes glazing (tearing) and he turns his sight towards her with one final, silent plea.

Please.

Maureen pauses. Blinks once, twice, before finally turning her back to him. And for a second, she swears there is a stream of surprise and off-guarded pain contorting his face. Ugly, rictus, and dementia agglomerated all in one.

(All of it ignored.)

Revenge never tasted so horrid.


-


Peace is a fragile rarity.

And so, on most days, Maureen finds herself taking long quiet walks, eager for some meagre reprieve. Outside, with the sun shining so bitter and miserably that vivid circles begin to darken under her eyes. Where she can think by herself as tired feet carry her into nowhere. And sometimes, she will look out onto the horizon – as she has for too long now – and see the outlines of hopes and dreams that may never be.

The idyllic couple: chiselled perfect as it were, out of stone and standing strong from the tallest peak for the whole world to see.

But then she remembers all that has come and passed and acquiesces to much needed, much hated truth: the dream is at an end.

No more fantasies and façades.


-


There is a charity event later that month at the family’s estate; beautiful, but wasteful.

Maureen forces herself into the role of a politician’s wife and makes the obligatory appearance, charming the crowds like the perfunctory hostess she is. A difficult feat, even for the pragmatic (the wounds still run deep). Public and distant, she covers her spots and tragedies, acting and dressing with discretion.

Fairing no better, Tripp keeps to himself as best he can, half-hiding behind a maple tree, leaves gone – bare and diseased – until he is called to make a speech. Grandiose and by heart, he plays Congressman before his gaze finally turns to her.

“Thank you for…,” he starts, stops, and starts again.

Maureen arches a brow at the uncharacteristic falter before reapplying her mask. Smiling tight and half-hiding herself (behind too-bright teeth and faked-happy laughs), she listens half-heartedly and applauds like everyone else.

But then Tripp is pulling her away, melancholy and regret painted on his face.

“Can we talk?”

She isn’t nearly strong enough to refuse.


-


“Whatever my actions, whatever you thought of them, I did not deserve what you did.”

“I know.”

“You’ll never know just how much you’ve hurt me, Tripp.”

“I’m sorry.”

“…”

“Please… give me another chance.”


-


It is said that time can mend the worst of wounds.

Maureen’s never given the notion much thought before, but she finds that it teeters on her mind all too often these days. Most so when Tripp takes her hand and kisses the knuckles, leaning in until they are nose-to-nose and his lips are brushing against hers. Softly, tentatively, as if not to unravel the progress both have moved Heaven and Hell to make.

It is during such rare, simple moments that she almost says I love you but that wouldn’t feel right (it is still too soon). So she rests her head on his shoulder instead, eyes closed, heart healing and hopeful.

Maybe, one day, they will learn to love each another once more.

Only time enough will tell.


Fin

Date: 2010-08-29 04:24 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hova4life.livejournal.com
Oh my goodness, this was absolutely amazing! God, I love your writting so fucking much!!!!! I didn't even watch the show but this story kept me up to date with the happenings of the third season, amazing. With that said, it pains me what they did to Tripp and Maureen. So freaking ridiculous.

Date: 2010-09-01 12:22 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] imp3ratrix.livejournal.com
Thank you love! I'm glad the story read well given my lack of enthusiasm for this fandom; creativity is at an all time low.

Quite right, this show is stuck in a perpetual cycle of failure and incompetence. The characters never stood a chance.

Date: 2010-08-30 06:23 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] missedshapes.livejournal.com
TRIPP/MAUREEN! Oh this is so sad. My heart was breaking for Maureen the entire time. You write her making the compromises of a politician's wife so well. And on the one hand, I'm happy that she'd become hopeful about her marriage by the end, but on the other hand, Tripp needs to be punished more. Haha.

Date: 2010-09-01 12:49 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] imp3ratrix.livejournal.com
I initially wanted to write something happier, but alas, it turned out more angsty than I had intended. I think I just wanted to find a middle ground between her ambitions and her love for Tripp, seeing as that damn show made it seem as if she was more interested in the former. Heh, I too wanted the little fool to suffer, but I felt Maureen deserved to have some sort of happy ending after everything.

But I'm glad you liked it. And I'm sorry for the wait!

Date: 2010-08-31 11:12 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] yetanothermask.livejournal.com
This is lovely. I thought the Tripp/Maureen/Serena plotline to be the highlight of S3 and it's great to read a story from Maureen's point of view.

Date: 2010-09-01 02:33 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] imp3ratrix.livejournal.com
Thank you! I think I erred more towards Maureen's romantic tendencies in this, so I'm happy to hear I did her justice.

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Mock on, mock on, Voltaire, Rousseau.

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