Fandom/Pairing: The Vampire Diaries, Damon/Elena
Spoilers/Universe: Showverse, picks up right at the end of 1x22
Word Count: 1,776 (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.
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Damon walks into the room where the sheriff is waiting and fixes a grim smile on his face. “Liz,” he says, extending his hand. “How’s your daughter? Stefan mentioned she was being treated here.”
Liz shakes her head. “She’s in surgery. Car accident with some of her friends.” She grimaces slightly, tries for a smile. “We’re hopeful. Tell me, what happened with Jeremy Gilbert? Why did you bring him in? Wasn’t John there?”
Damon shakes his head. “No, I haven’t seen him since before the fireworks. You?”
“No,” Liz says with a frown. “Did you know about the plan he and the mayor hatched?”
She sounds angry and Damon holds up his hands, palms out. “No, they didn’t tell me. John Gilbert and I have many… differences of opinion regarding how to handle Mystic Falls’ little problem. He doesn’t confide in me.” Damon lowers his hands, puts them in his pockets. “In answer to your question about Jeremy, I brought him in because John’s AWOL, Jenna is out on a date, and I had just stopped by the Gilbert place looking for Stefan when Elena found Jeremy.” Damon shrugs. “We figured it would be better to get Jeremy here quickly and then worry about getting a hold of Jenna and John.”
Liz nods. “You’re sure this was a suicide attempt? Not a targeted attack on a member of the founding families?”
Damon shakes his head. “No, we found Elena’s empty prescription bottle right there, and I’ve made sure she and Jeremy always have vervain with them, so he can’t have been compelled.”
“Have you tried to contact Jenna or John?”
“I sent Stefan back to the Gilbert house so he’ll be there whenever they get back.”
“Good,” Liz says. She glances at her watch. “I need to get back to Matt and Tyler, and I’m sure Elena could use some moral support.”
Damon nods. “I’m sure she could. I hope Caroline’s surgery goes well.”
“Thanks,” Liz says tightly before leaving the room.
Damon lets out a short puff of air and wishes he could rewind a few months to when he was having fun playing the Founders’ Council for fools. “Things were definitely easier,” he mutters as he walks back to Jeremy’s room, thinking of their conversation earlier that night. But maybe not as worthwhile, says the little voice in the back of his mind that sounds suspiciously like Elena.
He’s about to push open the door when the nurse from earlier stops him. “I’m sorry, Mr. Salvatore, but we really can’t allow more than one person in the room at a time.”
Like hell, Damon thinks. He touches her shoulder, meets her eyes. “You’ll make an exception for me,” he says, compelling her with almost no effort.
“Yes, of course,” she murmurs. “Go right in, young man.”
Damon smiles wryly and pushes open the door. “Thank you,” he says quietly.
Elena’s sitting in a chair next to Jeremy’s bed, leaning against the mattress and tracing patterns on the back of Jeremy’s hand. Damon shuts the door behind him with a click, and she straightens and looks over her shoulder at him.
“Damon,” she says, and he thinks she might actually sound happy to see him, or at least as happy as she’s going to sound under the circumstances. He gives her a small smile, watches her face intently.
“How’re you holding up?” he asks.
She shrugs. “I’m trying to tell myself it could be worse, but given the day I’ve had, I’m having trouble entertaining that particular notion.”
Damon comes up behind her and puts his hands on her shoulders, begins to knead the tension out of them. “Could be raining?” he suggests, and Elena lets out a mirthless laugh. But her shoulders relax under his hands, and he watches the fluttering pulse in her neck, wonders what it would feel like under his lips, and thinks his timing couldn’t be much worse, either.
They stay like that for several minutes, until Damon gives her shoulders a final squeeze and pulls another chair next to hers and sits down. Elena turns so she’s half facing Damon and half facing the bed. She stares at the floor for a minute or so, and Damon can tell she’s thinking about something, perhaps trying to choose her words. He waits.
“He’s still in love with her, isn’t he?” she says finally, and Damon doesn’t pretend he doesn’t know she’s not talking about Jeremy and Vicki or Anna.
“Probably,” he admits. “She was… the center of our world. For a long time, even after we thought she was gone. I don’t think he’s really dealt with that.”
Elena looks up from the floor. “And you have?”
Damon stiffens slightly; she doesn’t sound like she believes it and he doesn’t like knowing she’s probably right. “I think,” he says carefully, “that I don’t want to let her use me again. I think that I’m angrier at her than Stefan is, and that makes it easier for me.”
Elena looks like she’s about to say something, but the doctor from before pokes her head in the door just then.
“I’m sorry, but I’m going to have to ask you to leave now. As I said before, he won’t wake up until tomorrow morning at the earliest and we can’t permit you to stay with him for long periods of time.” The doctor shoos them out of the room, barely giving Elena time to lean down and brush a kiss on Jeremy’s forehead, but Damon thinks it would be better for Elena to get a few hours of sleep somewhere instead of staying up by Jeremy’s bedside all night, so he doesn’t try to compel the doctor into changing her mind. “Come back in the morning, and we’ll give you an update on his condition. Bring your aunt this time,” the doctor admonishes.
“I will,” Elena assures her.
Elena falls asleep almost as soon as Damon pulls out of the parking lot and he knows he was right to let the doctor kick them out and send them home. He pulls out his cell phone and calls his brother.
“How’s cleanup going?” he asks without preamble when Stefan answers.
“We’re just finishing getting rid of the blood in the kitchen.”
“And the body?”
Stefan sighs. “Still have to get rid of it.”
“You should burn it,” Damon says. “Go somewhere in the middle of nowhere and burn and bury.”
“You don’t think that’s a little bit of overkill?” Stefan asks, sounding slightly surprised.
“Burying Vicki in the woods wasn’t enough; her body still turned up to cause some more trouble.” Damon grimaces. “If John Gilbert’s body turned up, it would only serve to put the Council on high alert. I can only run so much interference, brother.”
Damon can practically hear Stefan rolling his eyes. “Right,” Stefan says. “How’s Jeremy?”
“Holding stable,” Damon says. “I’m bringing Elena home now.”
Stefan is silent for a moment, then: “How is she?”
“She’s asleep. She’s not Katherine,” Damon adds pointedly. “I believe we were discussing just that this morning and you were the one who thought I needed reminding.”
“I know,” Stefan mutters. “I’ll call you when Alaric and I have finished taking care of the body. The kitchen’s clean. Tell Elena…” He trails off, lets out a frustrated stream of air. “Tell her I’ll talk to her later.”
He disconnects without waiting for Damon to answer. Damon remembers talking with Alaric about holding on too long and realizes with some surprise that perhaps he’s let go more than he realized he had, that maybe Stefan’s let go less. He glances at Elena, who is leaning against the car window in sleep. He feels very little desire to go looking for Katherine, at least not with the purpose of having a romantic reunion, but he wonders if he’d ever have reached this point without Elena’s presence in his life.
He still doesn’t have an answer to the question when he parks her car in the driveway, where there’s no sign of Stefan and Alaric. Elena stirs slightly when he gently lifts her out of the car, but doesn’t wake until he shifts her in his arms so he can unlock her front door.
“Damon?” she murmurs, eyes still closed.
“I’m just taking you home,” he says quietly, and she lifts her arms to circle them loosely around his neck.
“Mmm-kay.” She rests her head trustingly where his neck meets his shoulder and he tries not to think about or acknowledge how that makes him feel.
Damon shuts and locks the front door behind them, not that something as petty as a locked door will keep Katherine out if she decides to come back. He carries Elena upstairs and goes straight to her room, not bothering to turn any lights on. He doesn’t need them anyway. He lays her down on her bed and removes her shoes before pulling the blankets up over her. He’s about to leave her alone to sleep, plans on raiding the late Uncle John’s liquor supply and brooding in the living room until morning, but Elena grabs his wrist.
“Don’t go,” she says, and she opens her eyes to give him a pleading look.
Damon raises an eyebrow in a defensively sardonic manner, and Elena narrows her eyes.
“I just don’t want to be alone,” she says tiredly. “I would feel safer. And I trust you,” she adds, “not to take advantage.”
Damon sighs, doesn’t want to feel the emotions warring in his heart at her request. But he’s already toeing off his shoes. He manages to summon a trademark leer. “You might trust me not to take advantage, but can I trust you?” He widens his eyes suggestively.
“What did I tell you about that eye thing?” Elena asks, trying to sound stern but foiled by a yawn mid-sentence.
“Move over,” Damon says gruffly. “If I’m staying it’s not gonna be on the floor.”
Elena hesitates, but then scoots to one side of the bed and lifts the duvet to allow Damon to slip under it. They lay on their sides, facing each other across the pillows. “We have to get up before Jenna,” she starts to say, but then yawns again.
“Shut up and sleep, Elena,” Damon scolds her. “I’ll wake you in a few hours so we can get our stories straight.”
Elena shuts her eyes and is quiet long enough that Damon thinks she’s gone back to sleep, but then she whispers softly, “Thank you.”
Damon says nothing, just reaches over and traces a finger lightly over her cheekbone and tucks an errant curl behind her ear.