Fandom/Pairing: The Vampire Diaries, Damon/Elena
Spoilers/Universe: Showverse, picks up right at the end of 1x22
Word Count: 2,144 (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 | three | four
five | six
Thirty minutes after Jenna comes downstairs, Elena finds herself meeting Damon’s eyes in the rearview mirror as she drives to the hospital. Jenna’s still not done berating them for not telling her about Jeremy and Elena can see that Damon has decided to be amused by Jenna’s indignant reaction.
“I just don’t understand how you could forget to tell me,” Jenna says for what Elena estimates to be the fifteenth time. “It’s not like you.”
“I had just found Jeremy after he tried to kill himself,” Elena says, “it wasn’t exactly a normal situation.”
“It’s really my fault,” Damon offers. “I should have thought of it before I took them to hospital.” Jenna twists around to look at Damon over her shoulder, and Elena’s pretty sure it’s not a friendly look. Damon is, of course, unaffected. “I guess I’m just used to being the one in charge and not having anyone to report to,” he continues.
Jenna makes an irritated humph noise, and Elena swallows a smile.
A few minutes later, the three of them are sitting in an ICU waiting area, Elena flanked by Jenna and Damon. The silence is uneasy, and for a moment Elena wishes Stefan were there, until she remembers that he’s possibly the only person who could make the silence more uncomfortable, given the way he’s reacted to Katherine’s return.
Just as the doctor from the night before approaches them, Damon’s phone rings. He pulls it out of his pocket and looks at the display, then up at Elena. “It’s Stefan.” He touches her hand briefly. “I’ll be right back.”
She nods, and Damon slips away. The doctor stops in front of Elena and Jenna, puts out a hand for Jenna to shake.
“I’m Doctor Sheffield,” she says as Jenna stands and shakes her hand. “I understand you’re Jeremy Gilbert’s aunt and guardian?”
“Yes,” Jenna says. “I apologize for not being here last night. I wasn’t told what had happened.”
“Yes, well,” the doctor says tightly, “you’re here now. Mr. Gilbert should be waking up any time now. We’ll need to run some tests on his liver and kidneys, but he’s made it through the night without any incidents and that’s a good sign.”
Elena pushes to her feet. “Can we see him?”
Dr. Sheffield nods. “I imagine it will be easier for him if he wakes up with familiar faces in the room instead of alone.” She shifts her focus back to Jenna. “Once he’s awake and we’ve run our tests, we’ll move him out of the ICU and set up a psych consult.”
“When can we take him home?” Jenna asks.
“That depends,” Dr. Sheffield says carefully. “If he has complications from his overdose, he may need to stay here longer for medical reasons. But even if he’s cleared medically, the psychiatrist may want to keep him here under observation for a while.”
“Oh,” Jenna says. “I guess that makes sense.”
“If you don’t have any other questions, I’ll take you in to his room.”
Jenna nods. “That would be great, thanks.”
Elena looks around, spots Damon striding toward them. She gestures for him to come with them and follows the doctor and Jenna as they head towards Jeremy’s room. Damon catches up to them before they get there, and Elena resists the urge to slip her hand into his.
Damon leans down as they walk and whispers in Elena’s ear. “How’s Jeremy?”
“The same,” she whispers back, not bothering to turn her head because she knows he can hear her perfectly anyway. “What did Stefan say?”
“It’s done, he’s back.”
They reach Jeremy’s room and the doctor ushers them in. Jenna takes the seat next to Jeremy’s bed and Damon guides Elena to the other chair in the room, which he pushes from its spot near the window to the other side of Jeremy’s bed.
“I can get another chair,” the doctor begins, but Damon cuts her off.
“I’m fine standing.”
Dr. Sheffield nods, addresses Jenna. “We’ll be in to check on him periodically. If he wakes, press the call button.”
“Sure,” Jenna says, and Dr. Sheffield leaves the room.
They sit in silence for a while, until Jenna and Elena simultaneously yawn hugely. Damon doesn’t quite manage to stifle a chuckle and strides to Elena’s side from where he’d been leaning against the window. He touches her shoulder and she looks up at him.
“Why don’t I go get you two some coffee? I’ll be right back.”
Elena nods. She feels relatively safe in the pristine confines of the hospital; it seems far too public for Katherine to try anything here, though she’s sure the only reason Damon hasn’t made excuses and left is that he’s worried for Elena’s safety.
“Thanks,” she says.
Jenna murmurs her own thanks, but she’s watching Elena as Damon walks out of the room, an odd look on her face. Elena wonders for a moment if Damon’s compelling talents might be slipping. But Jenna doesn’t seem angry, just curious and possibly a little suspicious.
“Where’s Stefan?” she asks when Damon’s out the door. “I would have thought he’d be the one sticking with you through this, not his older brother.”
Elena feels her stomach sink at the reminder of Stefan’s abandonment of her. “I don’t know,” she says, and realizes sadly that it’s the truth even if she can make a reasonable guess that he’d gone back to his house. “He was acting weird last night.” Also the truth, if slightly misleading since Jenna had no way of knowing Elena had seen Stefan at the hospital.
“Have you called him? You could probably use the moral support.”
Elena sighed. “I… left him a message,” she improvised. “He hasn’t gotten back to me.” Elena rolled her shoulders. “Damon’s been great,” she adds defensively.
“He looks at you like…” Jenna trails off.
“Like what?” Elena presses, and she realizes how much she wants the opinion of someone who doesn’t know about all the baggage.
“Like you’re not his brother’s girlfriend,” Jenna says.
Elena feels her cheeks burn a little.
“I don’t think playing games is right under any circumstances,” Jenna adds. “But Elena, if there’s one tightrope you really don’t want to walk, it’s the one between two brothers.”
Elena shakes her head a little. “Jenna, you have no idea how much I know that.”
Jenna narrows her eyes. “You know you can talk to me about anything, right?”
Elena schools her features to a neutral look. “I know,” she says calmly. Not on your life, Jenna, she thinks. I am not involving you in this.
Damon figures he’s probably supposed to feel guilty for standing a few yards away from the door to Jeremy’s room and listening in on Jenna and Elena’s conversation, but he’s too busy trying – and failing – not to feel guilty for being glad that the winner in the battle for Elena’s affections isn’t quite as clear-cut as Stefan might want to believe. He strides down the hallway trying to remind himself that he’s Damon Salvatore and he’s left a string of confused co-eds with bite marks on their skin everywhere he goes with no remorse, he should not be tied in so many knots over one seventeen-year-old girl.
He pulls his phone out of his pocket, sighs, and wonders when he’ll get over this do-the-right-thing phase.
Stefan answers on the third ring. “Damon? Did something happen, is something wrong?”
“No,” Damon answers. “I just thought you might like an update considering that your girlfriend is going through a crisis and you didn't stay on the line long enough to get one a few minutes ago. It looks like the kid’s gonna make it, which is a relief for many reasons, not least of which is that I won’t have to cover up a disappearance from the morgue today.” Also it makes Elena happy, he adds silently. He’d never say it out loud.
“That’s good,” Stefan says. “Elena must be pleased.”
“Well, he’s not conscious at the moment so there’s no confetti yet.” Damon swings into the hospital cafeteria and gets in line. “Jenna was wondering why you’ve abandoned Elena in her time of need.”
“I haven’t,” Stefan begins, but he trails off and sighs. “It’s hard, Damon.”
“Brother, you have no idea. I thought you were supposed to be the one who had long-since moved on from Katherine and I was the one with the hang-up. Two coffees, please,” he says to the girl behind the counter. He cradles his phone between his ear and his shoulder and digs a few bills out of his wallet.
“It’s not that simple, Damon.”
“It’s not that complicated, Stefan.” Damon hands over the money for the coffee and takes the two cups the girl holds out. “Keep the change,” he says to her. “Katherine being back doesn’t change who Elena is,” he continues, heading back in the direction of Jeremy’s room.
“I know that,” Stefan answers, voice tight. “But if she’s back…” He seems to be groping for words, and Damon thinks he can hear his brother’s footsteps as he paces around whatever room he’s in back at the house. “It could be more dangerous for Elena if she’s with me. Us,” he corrects himself.
“Bzzzt, wrong answer!” Damon says coldly. “Katherine would come after Elena with or without us around and you know it. She’s fascinated with the idea of having a doppelganger. Leaving Elena alone could be a death sentence.” The thought sends a shiver down Damon’s spine. “I won’t let you put Elena in more danger because you still have feelings for Katherine.”
The words are out before Damon has a chance to think about them, but the silence at the other end of the line speaks volumes and Damon stops in his tracks. “Christ, that’s what it is, isn’t it?”
“Damon,” Stefan growls warningly.
“No, I’m right, aren’t I?” He resumes walking. “It was one thing when you thought she was dead, or that even if she was alive she’d never be coming back. But now she’s here and you want her back. Did you ever really want Elena at all, or was she just your chance to have a kinder, gentler Katherine?”
“Shut up, Damon.”
“Truth hurts, does it? Tell you what,” Damon says, lowering his voice as he approaches the door to Jeremy’s room. “You can have Katherine. I’ve recently come to the realization that the only reason I’d want to see her would be to see her burn.” He turns into the room and hands Jenna her coffee. “I’ll see you later,” he says into the phone. Without waiting for an answer, he grabs it from where he’d been holding it between shoulder and ear and presses the button to disconnect.
He makes his way around Jeremy’s bed to Elena’s side. She tilts her head at him questioningly as he hands over her coffee. “Stefan,” he says quietly. He nods towards Jeremy. “Any change?”
Elena shakes her head. “Is Stefan coming here?”
Damon clenches his jaw a little. “I don’t think so,” he admits, and feels even more anger towards his erstwhile brother when Elena’s face falls.
They don’t speak for some time, minutes ticking by whilst Damon paces by the window and Jenna and Elena hold Jeremy’s hands or brush their fingers over his cheeks. Damon’s in the middle of debating the pros and cons of going after Katherine and coming up with contingencies depending on whether or not his brother goes off the deep end when his thoughts are interrupted by gasps from Jenna and Elena.
“Jeremy!” they exclaim simultaneously. Damon whirls around and in two strides is standing beside Elena, automatically gripping her shoulder, unsure if it’s in comfort or restraint. He’s pretty sure Jeremy isn’t going to be happy with his sister for foiling his attempt to become a vampire and he’s not sure how many more emotional hits Elena can take.
Jeremy blinks in confusion. He opens his mouth and tries to speak, then coughs at the effort.
Jenna reaches for the call button and presses it, then grabs Jeremy’s hand again and squeezes it. “Welcome back,” she says, smiling.
He clears his throat and looks around the room blearily, finally focusing on Damon. “Did it work?” he says, voice raspy.
Damon rolls his eyes. Did the kid really think Damon would let him wake up surrounded by his very-human family if it had? Like Damon would let Elena anywhere near a newly-turned Jeremy. “Sorry kid,” he says coldly, “you haven’t shuffled off this mortal coil quite yet.”
Elena looks up at Damon over her shoulder and narrows her eyes at him. He shrugs; it’s not like she doesn’t know Damon isn’t one to sugarcoat things.
Jeremy shifts his gaze to Elena. “You should have just let me die,” he whispers angrily.
Damon bites back a sigh and thinks longingly of the time when he didn’t give a damn about anyone but himself.