Chapter: 02 – Enlighten Me, Please [Featured Characters: Elena, Damon, Stefan, Rebekah and Matt]
Author: JenniferH (Arabian)
Rating: M (For future chapters/language, sex, violence)
Summary: Post 3.22 -- Elena grapples with who she is as a vampire, struggling for control as she tries to find herself and accept who she loves (spoiler: it's Damon!) while friends and enemies grapple with their own choices in this new world.
Word Count: 3,453
Disclaimer: The Vampire Diaries, and all her characters as presented, belong to Kevin Williamson, Julie Plec, the CW, etc., etc., so on and so forth. ;)
Notes: Thank you to my group of wonderful beta-readers who made this fic a ton better than it would have been otherwise. Following canon here, so there will be Stefan/Elena and as portrayed on the show, but fear not, this is very definitely a Damon/Elena story (with other pairings referenced, and some featured (Stefan/Rebekah, Matt/Rebekah, Stefan/Caroline, Jeremy/Bonnie).
After I had finally digested the season 03 finale, I began to think up where they could go from there, especially with regards to Damon and Elena. One narrative stuck in my head and as I continuing weaving it I became so fixated with two major turning points in the story that I just had to try and write it. I've immersed myself in this for the last two and half months, trying to avoid spoilers or even read other fic. I have a head-start of sorts on the story and am hoping that I can stay at this pace so that I can deliver chapters at a steady pace. I can't promise that will stay the case, but I'm going to try. :)
PREVIOUS CHAPTERS - 1
Chapter 02: Enlighten Me, Please
Damon poured two glasses of bourbon. Without a word, he handed one to Elena and took a deep swallow of his own. She held it between her hands, craving something else, but she wasn't ready to start hunting bunnies yet and she absolutely refused to drink another drop of human blood. She took a sip of the alcohol and absently realized that this was why Damon drank so much with so little effect. It was like drinking water; it had that much potency. She took another sip. It was helping with the craving though. But not with the tension.
Stefan stood at the window, looking out. Damon leaned against the edge of the desk, staring into space as he drank. And Elena completed the triangle, sitting primly on the couch, not saying a word. In the distance, she could literally hear crickets. Stefan sighed. Elena bit her lip. Damon poured himself another drink. The silence stretched out, nearly unbearable.
Damon broke first. "Fine, I'll get the party started. How the hell did our girlfriend die, Stefan? If I recall correctly, you were on keep-Elena-alive duty." He slammed his glass down, the sharp noise like a crack of thunder in her ears. "Need I point out the obvious? She's not alive, Stefan!"
"Damon ..." he began and then trailed off. He turned from the window and faced his brother, anguish etched on every line of his face. "What do you want me to say?"
"I want you to tell me what the fuck happened, Stefan. I'd like you to explain to me why Matt Donovan is water-logged but alive in the hospital, while the other occupant of that piece of shit truck is sitting here with her brother's blood still on her breath, very much *not* alive."
The two stared at each other across the room and Elena shook her head slightly, knowing she had to speak, knowing that Damon was going to be furious, and that Stefan -- with that eternal guilt weighing him down -- was going to welcome whatever punishment his brother doled out. "Damon," she began, and it was a few seconds before he dragged his gaze from Stefan and turned to look at her.
"We were in the water and Matt wasn't conscious. I was, my seatbelt was stuck and I couldn't move, then I saw Stefan." Damon closed his eyes and took a steadying breath. She could just tell from the way he went still, his lips tight in a grim line that he knew what was coming. "He would have saved me, Damon, he would have, but I wanted him to save Matt and so he did that. He respected my choice. He let me decide."
"He let you die." He said the words flatly, no emotion, his gaze burning into her. And then with a sudden rising of his arm he flung his glass hard across the room, his voice now a roar. "HE LET YOU DIE!"
Startled, she jumped even though she'd expected his rage. Closing her eyes, Elena tried to gather her strength to deal with Damon's anger and Stefan's guilt when all she wanted to do was curl up and cry herself to sleep.
"Damon," Stefan tried again, and she opened her eyes, looking to Damon, but his heated focus was solely on his brother. Elena bit her lip, knowing that ignorant slumber was not to be hers yet. His fists were clenched, and then in a flash his eyes darkened, veins rising and his fangs popped out.
When he threw himself at his brother, Elena jumped to her feet. She'd seen them snark and even yell at one another, but she'd never seen them fight with more than angry words. This was different. Elena watched, paralyzed, as Damon drove Stefan to the ground, delivering vicious blow after blow to his face, his head, his body. In between hits, she heard muttered profanity, threats, her name all delivered in a savage tone, and she could only stand still in shock while Stefan just lay there, taking every bit of reprisal that Damon dished out.
"Stop," she whispered, too horrified to appropriately respond. Horrified at the violence she was watching unfold with such ferocity. Horrified that she could smell blood in the air, tempting, tantalizing blood. Horrified that she could feel her own blood racing in excitement at the brutality on display. That shocking insight finally moved her to action. "Damon, STOP!" And then she was there, beside them and pulling at Damon with all of her strength.
He went flying across the room.
Stunned silence filled the air. Damon lay on the floor, paintings from the wall where he'd hit lying next to him. Stefan slowly rose to his feet, the many bruises and busted flesh taking their time to heal, why she didn’t know. Elena looked between the two, taking in Stefan's expression, so full of remorse and sadness, contrasted with the barest hint of a smile on Damon's face, his eyes alight as he gazed at her, something akin to wonder there. She couldn't look at him, at either of them, as she sank slowly onto the couch.
This is real. I'm a vampire, she thought, the full reality of it hitting her for the first time and what that reality meant. Not just drinking blood, but also super-strength, super-hearing, violent impulses, powers of compulsion. She would become something not herself. Become something that she never wanted to be. She was too tired to cry, but a wave of desolation made her body and soul ache.
"I never wanted to become a vampire."
Matt was asleep when Rebekah entered his hospital room. She stood at the foot of his bed, uncertain if she should stay, be here when he woke up, or if she should just go ... and not stop until she was far, far from this town. He shifted uncomfortably, and before she could make her decision, his eyes opened. Those beautiful eyes, blue like Damon's, but not cold, closed off and mocking. They were soft, sweet and so very human. Just like the boy.
"I'm sorry," she whispered before he could say anything.
Those soft, sweet eyes focused on her and then he looked away. "Get out."
Rebekah gripped the side rail so hard that it creaked then bent slightly. "You have to understand," she said, feeling tears tremble at the corner her eyes.
"Understand what?" He demanded bitterly, turning back to her and proving her absolutely wrong. There was no mocking, but his eyes were closed off and very, very cold. "That you tried to kill me?"
"I didn't --"
"No, right, you tried to kill Elena. My friend, someone that I love. And what? I was just collateral damage or whatever?" He scoffed. "Is that it? Is that what I have to understand? Don't worry, I get it." And there came the mocking glint. "I understand. Revenge for your psychotic brother was worth killing two innocent kids."
She was quiet, as she tried to gather her strength, as she tried to convince herself that she didn't truly care and that she should just turn around and leave this town forever. It had brought her nothing but heartbreak. Stefan completely repudiated her, Damon used her, Elena betrayed her, Elijah and Kol in and out, and Matt, the one bright light recently, she had betrayed.
Rebekah looked at him, and even as he stared her down, even as the anger and bitterness was so raw and real, she could see a question there. He thought he understood, but he didn't really and he knew that. She had this chance, this one last chance to get to him before everyone turned him completely against her. He wanted to believe, at least right now, that there *was* something to understand. If she could only say the right words, make him see her side, she would stay in Mystic Falls.
Rebekah stood at the edge of the woods after the truck went down, but all she could see was Nik's body burning up, her brother, one thousand years and just like that, her invincible, impossible brother was gone, and flickering over that image, Elena's face behind the windshield. The face of Tatia -- the woman who had betrayed Nik and Elijah, then died for her sins. The face of Katherine -- the woman who had turned Elijah's heart to stone, and kept Nik trapped for another five hundred years in their mother's prison as a creature less than he wanted to be. It was a face she hated.
It was the face of a human girl who appeared to befriend her, who listened, who cared, who convinced her to betray Niklaus ... and then stabbed her in the back. Literally. She hated this one wearing that face most of all. That killing her would save her family just made it necessary as well as satisfying. So focused was she on her goal she barely took note of the blur to her right. It wasn't until Stefan emerged from the water, dripping with an unconscious Matt Donovan in his arms that she realized what was happening ... what had happened, what she had done.
She had wanted to kill Elena, not Matt. She didn't want to hurt him. A cry escaped her and she flew to his body, Stefan once more under the watery depths. She spared a moment to wonder why on earth he had pulled Matt from the crash and not his beloved Elena, but that thought fled when she placed her hand on the still boy's chest and realized that his heart was slowing down. His final breaths were ghosting away. She concentrated, listening and she could hear an ambulance in the distance but it was so far away, too far away. Stefan would come back, she knew, but not in time for Matt, and he would be focused entirely on Elena.
There was no time. No time. She looked wildly about for a moment and then just stopped thinking. Rebekah bit into her wrist, bending down to dribble her blood between his lips. She hoped that he wasn’t too far gone, that he would, could instinctively still swallow. Her attention was split between saving Matt and listening for Stefan's return. She could hear her former lover slicing through the water, but Matt wasn't healed, not fully yet. He needed more blood, but there ... she paused, praying to a God she stopped believing in centuries ago, please, please, please! and there it was! A long breath escaped him, his heart beat faster and she knew he would live.
Rebekah heard a gasp as Stefan cleared the water. She spared one final glance at Matt before speeding away into the darkness. He would live. At least one good thing would come from this terrible day. Matt Donovan would live.
"Nik is dead." She took a deep breath. "My brother is dead."
"Yeah, I get that," Matt muttered, not caring at all.
Rebekah closed her eyes and then opened them to find him looking at her. Waiting. "You had a sister."
His lips trembled and his mouth tightened. "Don't ..." he started.
"Why not? You loved her, she died, and were you thinking straight, were you thinking of the good, the right thing to do? Or were you just grieving, angry at the world, wanting someone to blame?"
"Don't," he whispered.
"Multiply that by a *thousand,* Matt." She let go of the side rail and moved closer to him. "I am sorry that going after Elena hurt you. I just -- Niklaus and I have been together for almost one thousand years. For so many of those centuries, it was just the two of us. Elijah and Kol came and went, but for the first nine hundred years -- NINE HUNDRED YEARS, MATT! -- it was just me and Nik. And I watched him die in front of me tonight. I was ..." She paused, fighting to hold back the tears. "I am devastated. I wanted something, someone to blame and there was Elena."
Matt sat up straight, his voice impassioned. "Elena didn't want Klaus to die! She was trying to save him, giving him to Elijah because she knew that if Klaus died, she'd lose Damon and Stefan. And Caroline and Tyler. No matter how much we hate Klaus, NONE OF US WANTED HIM TO DIE!" He slumped back down. "Especially Elena. She loves Damon and Stefan. And Caroline is one of her best friends. God, Rebekah, she'd give herself up to Klaus to keep him alive if it meant keeping them safe. She’d give herself up to save any of us. Told Stefan to save me, not her. That's why I'm sitting here alive."
Rebekah looked away and muttered softly, "No, he didn't."
"No, he did Rebekah. I'm alive because Stef--"
"I saved you!" She bit out. He was quiet, shaking his head. "He went back for her, I wondered why he pulled you first, but of course, Elena the martyr," She scoffed with a roll of her eyes. "You were dying. You would have died but I gave you my blood, Matt. I saved your life. Stefan failed. Like he always does." She shook her head, a lone tear streaking her cheek. "I never meant to hurt you. I didn't. And I am sorry."
He was silent.
"Please understand. I had just lost Nik. Elijah and Kol are all I have left. Killing Elena would kill the monster that my mother created out of Alaric Saltzman. She was the key. Nik was in Mystic Falls because of her. We all were." She paused and stepped closer, hoping her movement would make him look at her again. It worked; he met her gaze.
"My brother died, Matt. I watched him die," her voice broke, but she pulled herself together, refusing to let another tear fall. "But I saved you."
"Rebekah ..." he began, but then he shook his head swiftly and looked away. "Just go."
She was motionless for a moment and then nodded. He was still angry, she could see that. He wanted to hate her still, but his eyes were soft, full of pain, yes. But the ice was gone, emotion was there. She could live with that.
So she left his room, but she would stay in Mystic Falls for now.
Damon straightened the bookshelf and put the artwork back in its proper place, taking a moment before turning to face Stefan and Elena. She noted that even when he looked at his brother, still not fully healed, he showed no regret. There was only anger and disgust in his gaze.
For his part, Stefan had yet to offer up any resistance or defiance to Damon's words and actions. Instead he spoke to her. "I have to go and hunt." He sent a quick glance of worry his brother's way before looking back to her. "Do you want to come with me?"
Damon scoffed. "I'm not gonna attack her, Stefan. Yeah, she's none too high on my favorite people list what with the whole martyred determination to die for everyone else. But hey, she was in a tight spot and could only rely on the stupidity of others, i.e., you brother, to make that self-sacrifice reach its glorious conclusion." He looked at Elena, his expression softening, even though anger still simmered beneath the surface. "I wouldn't hurt you."
"I know." He held her gaze for a moment, about to reply but then with a bitter smile and a shake of his head, he looked away. She turned to Stefan.
"No, I'll stay here."
"I think Damon and I should talk." She reached out and grasped his hand, squeezing it for comfort.
"Yeah, no, I don't think Damon and Elena need to talk," Damon snarked as he finished straightening up. "You lovebirds go kill an innocent Thumper or two. I'm going to bed. It's been a long day and I'm done with the two of you and your sacrificial bullshit."
"Damon ..." Elena began, but he just waved his hand dismissively in their general direction as he walked out. She turned to Stefan. "You go, I'll get through to him."
Stefan shook his head, "I don't think anyone can get through to him right now. Even you."
"I have to try." She took a deep breath. "I'm going to need you both to get through this, Stefan."
A flash of pain crossed his face and she stamped down her immediate impulse to comfort and assure Stefan that she loved only him. Whether he liked it or not, Damon had become someone she relied on while Stefan was gone and that wasn't just going to go away. She wasn't sure what it was that she felt for Damon; she just knew that it was nearly as strong as her feelings for Stefan. And he just has to deal with that.
Nodding, Stefan stood up. "Of course, I get it. I'll go, you talk to him." There was a tightness in his voice. He didn't agree with her, but he was letting her do what she wanted. It was partly why she held onto him so strongly, why she had chosen him. She knew that she could count on Stefan always doing what she wanted.
He offered a glimpse of a smile before he turned and walked out. She watched his departure, noting how he paused at the foot of the stairs and stared for a long moment up their length. Elena honestly didn't know if he was worrying about her relationship with Damon or his own. He gave a quick shake of his head and then headed out.
Elena sat still for a few minutes. And then a few more minutes. She was surprised that she couldn't hear Damon above her, but then remembered that she had to focus. Biting her lip gingerly, she looked up towards the direction of his room. She listened intently and with almost an audible pop, the white noise of sound around her narrowed into restless footsteps, low mutters that she could barely make out but for a few words here and there. Closing her eyes, she concentrated harder and heard "Where is she?" and Elena realized that he was expecting her. Despite what he'd said earlier, he was waiting for her to come to him.
A sudden flush swept through her body and heat pooled in her belly. The last time that she and Damon had been alone had been in Denver. The long motel balcony popped into her head as she remembered the mad rush into his arms, his kiss consuming her as his hands wandered possessively over her body, lips trailing down her throat, her chest. Their gazes locked, so many emotions running through his eyes and each one finding a soulmate in hers before she found herself lost in his kiss once more.
If it hadn't been for Jeremy, she honestly didn’t know where things would have stopped that night. Would she have let him take her right then and there, backed up against a concrete column, so lost in the passion of everything that was Damon that it didn't matter where they were? She could not say no to that question no matter how many times she asked herself.
And she was going to walk up those stairs to his bedroom, just the two of them, and face him and all of his passionate intensity. She was going to look into that face, those eyes, and know that despite what she'd said to him on the phone, she'd let him go just as much as he had her. Which was to say not at all.
However, it had to be done. She meant what she said to Stefan. She needed them both to get through this. Stefan's restraint and guilt reminding her that she needed to hold onto her humanity. Damon's pragmatism and love for the life he had reminding her that while she may be dead technically, she was still alive in every other sense of the word.
With a deep sigh, Elena got to her feet. Reaching the foot of the stairs, she lay her hand on the rail and took one step, and then another. She was still so focused on the room above her that she heard him pause in his pacing. He knew she was coming now. She climbed the rest of the stairs in absolute silence.
Damon was waiting for her.