Fandom/Pairing: The Vampire Diaries, Damon/Elena
Spoilers/Universe: Showverse, picks up right at the end of 1x22
Word Count: 1,417 (this chapter)
Summary: In the aftermath of the events on Founder's Day, Elena must decide which Salvatore brother she can really trust.
Notes/Disclaimer: Many thanks to my BFF and beta reader extraordinaire unbrokensky. I own nothing; Mystic Falls and all its occupants belong to the CW and I'm just playing in their sandbox.
one | two
Damon wishes that the fact that he’s been driving since the car was invented doesn’t mean he never really has to think about it anymore, because he’d rather be concentrating on speed and steering than trying to figure out how to clean up the mess they’ve found themselves in. And he really doesn’t want to think about the fact that he hadn’t kissed Elena that night, but Katherine. He doesn’t want to analyze why he’s so disappointed about it, doesn’t want to think about how Katherine is going to react to the situation, really doesn’t want to think about what’s going to happen now that Katherine has blown back into their lives.
He’s momentarily distracted from his what-ifs and contingency plans by Elena sniffling next to him. He glances over and sees she’s valiantly trying to hold back tears. Without letting himself think about it, he takes her hand and laces his fingers with hers. He’s mildly surprised when she doesn’t pull away and he looks over again to find her gazing at him with an odd look on her face.
“You’re a lot more than you want people to believe you are, Damon,” she says quietly.
Damon pulls his hand away and looks back at the road. “I don’t know what you’re talking about, Elena. What you see is what you get.” Elena shakes her head, and Damon knows she doesn’t believe him for a second. He can’t decide how he feels about that and he’s back to hating how mushy Elena Gilbert makes him feel.
Moments later the car screeches to a halt in front of the ER entrance. “I’ll get Jeremy out, you go in ahead and get someone.”
Jeremy’s still breathing and his heart is still beating, and Damon thinks that if he believed in any higher powers he’d be consulting with them now. He tells himself it’s because he doesn’t want to deal with the monumental problem that a public death would be once Jeremy woke up again a vampire, but in the back of his mind he knows that’s not the reason, or at least not the whole reason.
He can’t use his vamp speed in public, but he hurries through the hospital doors and spots Elena standing at the desk talking to the nurse on duty, gesturing with the empty prescription bottle. By the time he reaches Elena’s side, the nurse has paged someone and a stretcher arrives, on which Damon deposits Jeremy.
Damon watches Elena as Jeremy is wheeled out of sight and he can see the pain etched in every line of her body. She turns to him, and he can read a thousand things in her eyes he thinks she’ll never say out loud, at least not to him.
“Thank you,” she finally says.
She looks so lost and so vulnerable and Damon remembers standing with her in the rain and pleading with her to understand why she couldn’t follow him into a house full of angry vampires. This, he thinks, is why he doesn’t want to feel all these emotional connections to family, to lovers. She’s so strong, yet she’s brought to a standstill when someone she loves is in danger beyond her reach. He pulls her into his arms and once again she lets him, this time wrapping her own around his waist.
“You don’t ever have to thank me,” he mutters against her hair. He rubs comforting circles over her back, cradles her head against his chest and runs his hand soothingly over her curls. “It’s going to be all right.” He feels her shake her head slightly and though it makes him feel foolish, softly kisses her hair. “No matter what happens to him, I’ll make it all right.”
Elena is still plastered against him and he’s still stroking her hair when Stefan appears at the end of the hall. Damon stiffens slightly as the worried look on Stefan’s face morphs into a slightly thunderous one at the sight of Elena in Damon’s arms. But Damon doesn’t let go and doesn’t say anything, just meets his brother’s angry glare with a bland but steady look.
Stefan reaches them a moment later. “What’s going on?” he says, and there’s an edge to his voice that gives away precisely how he feels about finding Elena where she is.
Elena jumps slightly, but Damon keeps one arm slung around her shoulders and she doesn’t actually step away. “Stefan!” she says.
Stefan steps closer to her and cups her cheek. “What happened? I was waiting for you with Matt and Tyler by where they’ve got Caroline, and the sheriff came up to us and said Jeremy had been brought in. Why didn’t you call me?”
Elena removes her arm from Damon’s waist and steps into Stefan’s embrace. Damon hates that he can’t help but feel a little bereft, and when she turns her face to look at him, he meets her eyes and it feels just like the night they met with Isobel.
“There wasn’t time,” Damon says before Elena can answer, and she drops her eyes guiltily. “We need to talk,” he adds, voice tight.
“I really don’t think this is the time,” Stefan mutters.
Elena pulls back slightly, looks up at him. “Katherine’s back,” she says without preamble. Stefan’s eyes fly to Damon’s and he steps back from Elena in shock, as if he’s afraid she might be Katherine. Damon does not appreciate the irony of this.
“I told you we need to talk,” he says. He gets the attention of the nurse at the desk and asks if there’s a place they can wait with some privacy. He’s ready to compel her if necessary, but she seems to take pity on them and leads them to a curtained-off area. “It’s the best I can do,” she says apologetically, and Damon tells her it’ll be fine.
Stefan is still giving Elena a wide berth, so Damon puts a hand on the small of her back and nudges her to a chair. “Sit down,” he says quietly. She does, and he brushes his fingers across her shoulder before taking the chair next to hers. Frowning, Stefan grabs the third chair and pulls it in front of Damon and Elena before sitting down.
“Tell me,” he says. “Did…” He pauses, like he doesn’t want to or can’t say Katherine’s name. “Did she hurt Jeremy?”
“No,” Damon replies. “No, the kid did this to himself.” He meets Stefan’s eyes. “Anna gave him some of her blood before she died. Yeah,” he says at the horrified look on Stefan’s face. Elena flinches, and Damon pats her knee. “We might have gotten to him in time.” She nods and takes a deep breath.
“After I got off the phone with you,” she begins, “I went into the house. I called out for Jeremy and heard a noise in the kitchen. When I got back there, John was on the floor and there was all this blood, and his fingers had been cut off… he’s dead.” She shakes her head, but continues. “And then she said my name, and I looked up and she was there. She must have posed as me to get into the house, I don’t know how she managed to get Jenna or Jeremy to invite her in…”
Damon clears his throat. “I do.” Stefan and Elena look at him in surprise. “Didn’t get the chance to tell you,” he says to Elena, “but I saw her when I left after talking to Jeremy. I thought she was you. We were… talking on the porch, and Jenna opened the door and told you – her – that it was getting late and she should come inside. Invitation accomplished.”
“You were… talking?” Stefan asks, perfectly duplicating the hitch in Damon’s rhythm when he’d said it.
Damon looks at his brother, and if it weren’t for the fact that it was Katherine he’d ‘talked’ to and not Elena, he might have actually blurted out the whole truth and damned the consequences. “Yes, Stefan. Believe it or not, Elena and I do have conversations sometimes. I had things I wanted to say to her, so I did. Or thought I did. Katherine does a surprisingly good impression of Elena.” He runs his fingers through his hair. “In retrospect, there were some tells. She won’t fool me again,” he adds bitterly, and he knows he doesn’t just mean by pretending to be Elena. “I’m done letting that bitch pull my strings,” he mutters.