Fandom/Pairing: The Vampire Diaries, Damon/Elena
Spoilers/Universe: Showverse, picks up right at the end of 1x22
Word Count: 2,741 (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. Final chapter! Sorry for the delay; I started working towards my second degree last week and have been getting back into the swing of things (by which I mean remembering precisely the right balance of procrastination and actual work). I've left myself a lot of room to continue on in this universe; whether or not I do depends largely on (a) school workload and (b) how severely jossed it gets once season two starts, lol. But I felt like I had come to a reasonable, if open-ended, stopping point and I hope you all agree :)
one | two | three | four
five | six | seven
After a few hours of Jeremy giving her the silent treatment while he’s fussed over by doctors and psychiatrists, Elena finally lets Jenna talk her into going home. Damon snatches her car keys out of her hand and stands in front of the driver’s side door before she can get in.
“I’ll drive,” he says, and his tone brooks no argument. Elena decides she doesn’t really have the energy to fight him on this one and just gives him a mutinous look before circling her car and getting in on the passenger side.
Damon doesn’t say anything as he drives away from the hospital and Elena is grateful that he seems to understand that she doesn’t really want to talk. She’s lost in her thoughts until she realizes that they’re on the road to the Salvatore house instead of her own.
“Damon, why aren’t we going to my house?”
Damon glances at her and then back at the road. “Because I’m not leaving you there alone, I’m hungry, and somehow I doubt you’ve got any O-negative in your fridge.”
Elena looks over at Damon in surprise. “You should have said something. You didn’t have to stay all that time.”
“Yes, I did.”
Elena is slightly taken aback by the fierceness of Damon’s tone. She hears Isobel’s voice in her head again telling her that Damon’s in love with her, Damon’s voice telling her about what he’d unknowingly said to Katherine the night before. She studies his profile and something tightens around her heart like a fist and she realizes that she’s got some serious thinking to do. The image of Stefan looking anywhere but at her enters her mind unbidden, and she thinks maybe Stefan’s doing the thinking for her.
She and Damon don’t speak again for the rest of the drive. Elena pushes herself to her feet, shuts the car door, and jumps slightly when Damon appears at her side. “Stefan’s here,” he says softly, and she doesn’t ask how he knows. “Are you up for that?”
Elena stares up at the house for a moment. “Yeah,” she says, trying to sound sure of herself. “I’ll be fine.”
Damon rests his hand at the small of her back as they walk into the house. Elena thinks maybe she shouldn’t let him, not when she and Stefan are experiencing a major roadblock and he’s already sensitive about her relationship with Damon. But she also can’t ignore the fact that Stefan has acted less like her boyfriend than Damon has in the last twenty-four hours and she can’t help but be angry with him for it. Maybe walking into the house with Damon touching her is a petty thing to do, but after all, she’s only human.
They find Stefan pacing in the living room. He looks up when they come in and his gaze skitters over Elena before focusing on his brother, and Elena wonders just how long Stefan can continue acting like this.
“Hello Stefan,” Damon says with his usual brand of sarcastically forced cheerfulness. “I trust you had a pleasant night.”
“I think our definitions of pleasant differ, Damon.”
“Potayto, potahto,” Damon says blithely. “I’m hungry, and if I stay here and listen to you two attempt to talk it’ll put me off my brunch.” He smirks at Stefan but then leans in to speak softly in Elena’s ear, despite the fact that they both know Stefan will hear what he says regardless of how quietly he says it. “I’ll be in the kitchen if you need me.”
His breath tickles her ear (she’s pretty sure that’s why he’s bothering to whisper in the first place) and she sees Stefan’s fists clench but she nods. “Thanks.”
Damon leaves the room with a sardonic nod to his brother and Elena takes a hesitant step towards Stefan, twisting her fingers together nervously. Stefan seems fascinated by his shoes.
“I’m not Katherine,” Elena says quietly.
“I know that,” Stefan replies immediately. He doesn’t look up.
“Why won’t you look at me?”
Stefan lifts his face, but his eyes don’t quite meet hers. “It’s complicated,” he says.
“Complicated,” Elena says bitterly. “It’s no more complicated today than it was yesterday. Katherine being here doesn’t change me, and it shouldn’t change you. Even I realized her coming back here was a possibility; you can’t tell me you didn’t.”
“I…” Stefan trails off, looks back down at his shoes.
“I needed you, Stefan. I needed my boyfriend to be there for me, and you weren’t.”
“Elena.” He takes an involuntary step forward, stops himself. “I’m sorry.”
“Are you? You still won’t look at me! And if this is what happens when you just hear about Katherine being around, how are you going to react when you actually run into her?” Elena crosses the distance between them and shoves his shoulder. “I need to be able to trust you!” She shoves at him again. “Dammit, Stefan, look at me!”
Stefan finally, finally meets her eyes, and his are full of regret. Elena’s heart sinks. “Can I trust you?” she asks, and she’s proud of herself because her voice only wavers a little.
Stefan closes his eyes. “Elena…”
Elena steps back. “I’ll take that as a no.”
Stefan opens his eyes again, gives her a pleading look. “I can’t… separate things. In my head, I can’t…”
“It shouldn’t be that hard,” Elena says sadly. “You once told me you loved me because I wasn’t Katherine. Because of how different I am. Was it all a lie?”
Stefan clenches his jaw and doesn’t say anything.
Elena shakes her head, takes a deep breath. “I don’t need this right now,” she says firmly. “I’ve got enough on my plate with Jeremy and John and Katherine, I can’t waste time and energy trying to tiptoe around your issues. I can’t be solid for you if you can’t be solid for me.”
“I need time,” Stefan begins, but Elena cuts him off.
“Time is something we might not have. Look what’s happened in the past twenty-four hours alone. You’ve had over a hundred years’ worth of time, Stefan.” She rakes a hand through her hair, blows out a frustrated breath. “Look, Stefan. If you want Katherine, you can have her,” she says, unknowingly echoing Damon’s earlier words. “You obviously don’t want me, and I’m not up for fighting any more losing battles.”
Without waiting for a response, Elena turns on her heel and heads toward the kitchen, where she imagines Damon has been listening in on every word. She walks in and finds him leaning casually against the counter, a ceramic mug in his hand presumably filled with blood. His gaze is penetrating, but she doesn’t flinch away. He tilts his head slightly.
“I’m sorry,” he says, and for once he actually sounds sincere. She narrows her eyes at him, looking for the catch. “I mean it,” he says quietly. “It isn’t fair to you, Katherine coming back and fucking everything up. Again.”
Elena raises an eyebrow, leans against the counter a few feet away from Damon. “It’s not exactly fair for you, either.”
Damon shrugs. “I don’t know about that, but it certainly pisses me off.” He drains the contents of his mug. “I’m a selfish man, Elena. She made my life hell once already, and now she’s doing it again. Don’t assign higher motives than that to me.”
Elena tilts her head slightly, and one corner of her lips lifts into a wry half-smile. “Liar,” she says distinctly.
Damon’s eyes widen slightly then narrow, the reactive version of his flirty eye-thing, and Elena raises her eyebrows again, daring him to contradict her. He stares at her and doesn’t rise to the bait, and the moment gets heavy with unspoken words until they hear a door slam. Stefan must have left, Elena thinks. Damon turns to the fridge and opens it.
“I should take you home,” he says, pulling out a package of blood and tossing it the microwave.
“Is there any way to… un-invite Katherine in?” Elena asks, though she’s almost entirely certain the answer is no.
Damon shakes his head. The microwave dings and he pulls out the package of blood, empties it into his mug. Elena wrinkles her nose a little at the smell, but says nothing. Damon drinks a little. “An invitation is permanent until a house comes under new ownership. So unless you can convince Jenna to move…” Elena shakes her head unnecessarily.
“In fact,” Damon continues, “if it weren’t for Jenna and Jeremy and knowing that you wouldn’t leave them, I’d say you should move in here. As long as only dead people live here, no invitation is required, but if you moved in it would be a different story. You’d be safer.”
“I can’t just abandon my family,” Elena insists.
Damon sighs. “Of course you can’t. Self-preservation isn’t your strong suit, Elena.”
“I’ve got you watching my back,” she says without thinking. “And it is yours.” It’s only after the words are out of her mouth that she realizes how much she’s assuming, how much she could be implying by saying that having him at her back means she doesn’t have to worry about her own tendency to put others first.
It’s only after those thoughts occur to her that she realizes how much she wants him at her back. Because he’s in love with you keeps echoing in her head and because she keeps thinking about Atlanta and the Miss Mystic Falls pageant and snarky telephone conversations and the way she felt when he’d taken her hand before everything went to hell the night before and the terror she felt when she realized that he had been taken and could have been dying.
Damon puts down his mug and steps towards her and she wonders if it counts as being on the rebound if the truth is that they’ve been heading in this direction for far longer than either of them would probably care to admit.
Damon crosses the short distance between himself and Elena slowly, unconsciously emphasizing the fact that he’s the very kind of predator from which she needs protection. He comes to a stop in front of her, leans forward and braces his hands against the counter on either side of her, boxing her in.
“You trust me that much?”
Elena nods. “You’ve earned it,” she says. “If there’s one thing I’ve always believed about you, it’s been what motivates you.”
Damon leans in, close enough so their breaths mingle. “Is that so? Do tell.” He thinks he knows what she’ll say, would normally scoff at it, but right now… it’s been a shitty twenty-four hours and somewhere in all that hell, Damon thinks even he deserves a respite. Elena’s his, and if that means he has to allow her to pull a real emotion or two out of him, then right now he will.
“Love,” Elena says after a moment’s hesitation. “You go to the wall for people you love.”
The truth of what she says hangs in the scant space of air between them and electrifies it. “You make it sound noble,” he breathes.
She shakes her head. “No. Just… consistent.” Damon lets his hips brush against hers and her eyes widen briefly before she collects herself. “Sometimes it makes you do terrible things,” she adds softly.
“I won’t let anything happen to you.” His voice is quietly implacable, but he’s more afraid than he’d admit to even himself that something will happen to her anyway. He touches his forehead to hers. “I won’t lose you.”
He cuts off whatever she was going to say with his lips, and kissing her now makes him wonder why he couldn’t tell right away that he was kissing Katherine before. He tightens his hands on the counter, some rational and uncharacteristically upright corner of his mind reminding him that he just listened in on her breaking up with Stefan and that she’s been through as much hell as he has in the last twenty-four hours. He can’t trust himself not to push things too far too fast, not if he puts his hands on her right now.
She’s kissing him back, though, so he white-knuckles the counter and tells himself it’s enough. Her hands come up to frame his face and she pulls back slightly, breaking the kiss and looking up at him.
“Why do I feel like her?” she asks, and Damon kicks himself mentally.
“Don’t,” he says, sharper than he intends. “You aren’t doing anything wrong.”
She drops her hands to his chest, sighs. “I promise you, Damon, I promise you that I won’t play you like she did.”
“Shut up,” he says, silencing her with a hard and fast kiss. “I already know that.” This time it’s his hands framing her face. “I trust you, Elena.”
And just like that, he knows he’s done the one thing he swore he’d never do again, and knowingly, openly placed his heart in someone else’s hands. He won’t speak of love; he knows she’s not ready to hear it from him quite yet and nowhere near ready to say it back. But they both know that from him, an admission of trust is just as meaningful, if not more so.
Tears gather in the corners of Elena’s eyes and Damon brushes them away with his thumbs when they spill over. “Hey,” he says softly, “it’ll be okay.”
She nods. “Eventually,” she says. “How can everything have gone so crazy in one day?”
Damon laughs humorlessly, drops his hands to her hips. “Story of my life. And my death, for that matter. If it weren’t for the crazy vampire out there who might want to kill you, I’d say you were better off without me.”
Elena shakes her head. “I don’t think so,” she murmurs. “If nothing else,” she adds, somehow summoning a grin, “my life would be a hell of a lot less interesting without you in it.”
“I live to entertain,” Damon returns wryly.
Elena smiles, but any reply she may have come up with is smothered in a huge yawn.
“You should rest,” Damon says, noting that despite the light makeup she’s wearing he can see faint signs of dark circles under her eyes.
She shakes her head. “No, I should go back to the hospital.”
“Sure,” Damon says easily. “After you take a nap.” Without another word, he sweeps her off her feet and begins carrying her toward the stairs.
“Damon!” she exclaims, and he’s pleased to hear amusement along with the annoyance in her voice.
“No arguments, Elena,” he says with a slight sing-song in his voice. She rolls her eyes but wraps her arms around his neck and doesn’t insist to be put back down. He takes her to his own room and although she raises her eyebrows at him, she doesn’t comment until he deposits her on the bed.
“I hope these sheets are clean,” she says with a faux-stern look, and Damon thinks he hasn’t met very many people as resilient as Elena Gilbert.
“Scout’s honor.” Damon throws her a mock salute.
“Yeah, right,” she mutters, but she pulls her shoes off and Damon knows he’s won. “Don’t let me sleep too long,” she says, handing him her shoes.
“I promise,” he says, and he smiles. “As long as you sleep for a little while. You can’t fix anything if you don’t rest for a while.”
Elena reaches out and touches Damon’s arm lightly. “Thank you,” she says.
She shakes her head. “It’s everything.”
Before Damon can formulate a reply, she lays down and rolls to face the other direction. He decides he can’t stoop to the level of domesticity that would be required to kiss her before leaving her or the level of mushiness that would be required for him to come up with anything else to say. He sets her shoes down at the foot of his bed and heads towards the door.
He stops and turns to look back at her before shutting the door. There is a whole host of things Damon is not looking forward to dealing with in the immediate future, including but not limited to Jeremy, Katherine, and Stefan, and Damon is not as a rule a sentimental man. But he thinks maybe if he gets to keep seeing Elena’s dark hair spread out over his pillows, it’ll be worth the work.