Chapter: 13 – This Is Your Wake-Up Call [Featured Characters: Elena, Stefan, Caroline, Tyler, Damon, Meredith, Tyler, Rebekah, Matt, Bonnie and Jeremy]
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 her friends and enemies grapple with their own choices in this new world.
Word Count: 5,267
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/Caroline, Matt/Rebekah, Jeremy/Bonnie, Caroline/Klaus, Stefan/Rebekah).
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. :)
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Chapter 13: This Is Your Wake-Up Call
Elena and Stefan were already leaving when Meredith exited the restroom. Elena looked at her, regret haunting her expression. Caroline sighed, softly saying her friend's name, and captured her attention. Once Elena met her gaze, Caroline offered up a smile of a reassurance.
"I’ll see you tomorrow.” Elena was still for a beat and then she nodded. Without turning to Stefan, she headed toward the exit. Caroline couldn’t help but notice the distance between them as he trailed a few steps behind, and how Elena had her hands deep in her pockets away from Stefan’s hold. Sitting back down next to Tyler, Caroline looked over at Meredith as she moved to Damon's side at the bar. His body was tense, on alert, his gaze still locked on where Elena had just stood. Tyler said her name, but Caroline shook her head. “Ssh,” she whispered, focusing on Damon and Meredith's conversation.
“I’m gonna go, Damon.” The doctor told him; her voice was shaky.
“You haven’t even finished your first drink,” he muttered, his gaze flitting between her and the empty entrance.
Meredith sighed and glanced over at Caroline with a wary gaze. “I—I have a headache.”
“Really? A headache? Come on, what happened, Dr. Fell?”
She tried to laugh it off, but if Damon heard the strain, he didn’t comment. “Nothing, I just have a headache. I want to go home and go to bed. We can go over all that stuff later.” She pulled her keys from her purse. “I’ll see you.”
Damon stood up, tension still radiating from him. “Fine. A headache, sure." He gave her a wintry smile. "I’ll finish up your drink." His tone was biting, but already walking away, Meredith didn’t bother to respond, and instead she just waved a goodbye over her shoulder. Caroline looked over at Damon… who was looking her way suspiciously. Downing the drink in one swallow, he was at their table in two strides.
“Damon,” she sighed, biting her lip, but didn’t say anything further.
Damon pulled out a chair and spun it around, sitting down backwards. He cocked his head slightly to the side as he gazed at her. She met his look squarely, but after a few seconds, her eyes slid away.
“What do you want, Damon?” Tyler asked, exasperation in his tone.
Damon stared at Caroline a moment longer and then looked to Tyler. “So you’re back. I guess that's good. Makes Carol happy. Still, gonna have to have a talk with Bonnie. Later.” He smiled coolly and returned his attention to Caroline. “Now. Caroline?” She was silent. "I didn't follow Elena in there because you went first and I *figured* you could handle it."
“And I did. They both came out mostly fine, right?"
"Mostly." He bit out the word. “And now they’re both gone looking like their favorite puppy just got hit by a Mack truck.”
Her voice was soft in dismayed accordance. "Yeah." Caroline sighed, capitulating. "When I got in there, Elena was all,” she lowered her voice, giving a quick look around her before meeting Damon’s gaze again, “chomping on Dr. Fell.” Shaking her head, Caroline let out another sigh. “I don’t know what set her off.”
Damon looked down, his expression hard. “I can guess.” He glanced up at Caroline, frustration clear on his face. “I’m going to her.”
“What? Elena? No!” Caroline burst out, her eyes wide.
“Yes.” He stood up, turning the chair back around.
“Damon, no.” She pleaded with him. “Wait, just sit down. Please?”
He looked away with a grimace and then after a moment sat back down. “What?”
“I know you want to help her. I know, OK, but Damon she needs her space. You know that. She’s freaking out and,” she paused, rolling her eyes slightly. “I know that *something* happened with you two.” She ignored Tyler perking up next to her. “I just don’t think she can deal with whatever this thing is with you right now.”
Damon’s gaze bore into her. He was silent.
“I’m not trying to warn you away, I just—I think it’s not what Elena needs right now. OK?”
He remained quiet, and then narrowed his eyes suddenly. “Why are you not being a snitty little thing with me?”
Shrugging, she sighed. “I promised Elena I’d be nice. And you are like my mom’s only friend.” She took a deep breath and met his gaze earnestly. “And I know that we’d probably all be dead a hundred times over if it wasn’t for you.”
“I was a complete asshole to you.”
Her eyes widened in surprise. That he would even acknowledge that shocked her. “Yeah.”
“I guess that sucked.” Pausing, he let out a sigh. “Sometimes I do things I don’t have to do. Maybe that qualifies," he offered with reluctance in his tone and a quick grimace. Is that Damon Salvatore's way of saying 'I'm sorry?' He waited a beat, holding her gaze with something closer to sincerity than Caroline had ever seen from him before. And then he shrugged, rising to his feet. OK, then. “Fine, I’ll stay away from Elena. For now.” Bending down, Damon captured her gaze once more, intensity darkening the blue. “But you keep watch over her because Stefan sucks at it.”
He walked out. Caroline watched him leave, worry filling her. “This is such a mess.”
“What happened with Damon and Elena?”
“What?” She turned to Tyler. “Oh, they like made out or something. Elena’s all hot for him. I wasn’t gonna say, but I think that’s why she attacked Dr. Fell. Because she was with Damon.”
“But Elena’s with Stefan… right?”
Sighing, Caroline leaned back in her chair, gazing up at the ceiling. “Yeah, but you saw how they were together. Not exactly the picture of young love.”
“Like us.” He grinned at her. “And now we’re together again, no Klaus in the house.” She nodded, but her smile faded as she suddenly remembered something that Bonnie had said before they got to the clearing. She and Tyler hadn’t done much talking earlier, but hearing him say Klaus’ name now, it triggered that memory. Caroline looked to Tyler, frowning.
His own smile dimmed. “What’s wrong?”
“Did you know what Bonnie was gonna do? With Klaus’ spirit, whatever? I know you don’t need permission or anything from the host, but Bonnie said something that made me think... I don't know, it sounded like you knew, like you agreed to it.” She turned to face him, disappointed to see that he couldn’t meet her gaze. “You did.” Seeing the expression on his face, it wasn’t even a question. She folded her arms over her chest. “And you didn’t tell me?”
”Caroline…” Tyler began, then trailed off.
“What if he hadn’t told me who he was? I would have *been* with him, thinking it was you.” She shook her head. “Tyler, I could have had sex with Klaus.”
“No, you would have known it wasn’t me. Just because it was my body, we’re two totally different people.” He reached out and grabbed her hand. “Caroline, you would have known.”
She shook her head. “Maybe, I don’t know.”
Tyler pulled back, anger flitting across his features. “You don’t know?”
“No, Tyler, I don’t know because it’s not like it’s something you expect. Your boyfriend to be taken over by his thousand-year old hybrid-maker.”
“But it’s me.”
“Yeah, it was you, Tyler. Your face, your body.”
“His personality.” He let out a humorless laugh. “Or maybe that was OK. I mean, you liked him giving you drawings and stuff.”
He rose to his feet quickly, the chair scratching loudly on the floor. “You don’t know? Wow. I don’t know, Caroline, maybe you were disappointed that Klaus told you the truth cuz you didn’t have the chance to *be* with him.”
Her mouth dropped open in shock, her eyes widening in hurt. “Tyler,” she cried.
Shoving his chair, Tyler looked away. “I don’t believe this.” He shook his head. “You know what, I’m outta here. Maybe you can give Klaus a call, have him keep you company. Just make sure he brings his sketchbook,” he finished sarcastically.
He walked away, leaving Caroline sitting there, speechless. She opened her mouth to speak, but really could find no words. Finally, she grabbed her purse and stood up. She shook her head and stomped away from the table, her entire body shaking with anger. That he had just turned that all around on her infuriated her. And if she felt a teeny bit guilty because she didn’t exactly hate Klaus as much as should have, she refused to give it any credence right at this moment. Because Tyler had reverted to jock-jerk Tyler form. I hate jock-jerk Tyler! Not paying any attention to where she was going, Caroline bumped into someone entering the Grill.
Rolling her eyes, Caroline bit back a snarl as she faced the blonde someone... Rebekah. I so do not have time for you, she thought in annoyance. “Excuse yourself.” Caroline walked out, not sparing a glance back for the Original blonde bitch. I have a boyfriend situation. And if that proves impossible to deal with, a pint of Häagen-Dazs calling my name.
Looking around, Rebekah pouted when she didn’t see Matt. He was the only reason she bothered coming to this dive. Her shoulders slumping in disappointment, she bit her lip, and glanced over both shoulders, hoping that she had missed him at first glance.
Ah!, she thought with delight when he entered from a back room. Plastering a smile on her face, Rebekah headed to him. Her smile dimmed slightly when he caught sight of her, his expression turning bitter. She sighed, but then squared her shoulders, her smile becoming determined. I will get to him, I will.
“Matt?” Rebekah kept her voice light and friendly. He met her gaze for a moment and then with a shake of his head, looked down without a response as he began clearing the table in front of him. Twisting her hands behind her back, she leaned towards him slightly determined to strike up a conversation. “So, I kept the Maserati for myself.”
He remained quiet. She forced a smile. “You know, if you ever want to take it out for... a spin, is it?” He nodded, and then as if catching himself, his lips quirked upwards before straightening into a hard line.
“You're welcome,” she added drily.
“You’re welcome,” he muttered under his breath. “Really?” A humorless laugh escaped him before he turned to look at her. “Do you even know how to drive?”
“Well, no.” She smiled coquettishly. “But it can't be that hard.” Reaching out a finger, she ran it lightly over his arm.
He stilled, lowering his gaze. “Rebekah…”
She dropped her hand with a sigh. “Matt?” She said his name softly and after a moment he looked up at her once more, his face going for blank, but not quite disguising his emotions. Rebekah smiled, a cajoling note in her tone. “You could teach me?”
“Yeah, right.” He stepped away from her, pulling out a rag and began to wipe down the other side of the table.
She tried a different angle. “Is the truck better than the sports car?”
Matt paused, and then with a sigh looked up at her. “Not better, just more… practical.” His eyes narrowed. “And I’m only keeping it because it’s your fault that my old one is at the bottom of Willow Creek.”
Shaking his head, he laughed in disbelief. “No one's even questioning it. They just think I have kick-ass insurance.” He looked at her defiantly. “I'm not gonna thank you.”
Rebekah shrugged. “That's fine. You're talking to me.”
He began to respond and then stopped, bewilderment on his face. When he spoke, it was as if he was talking to himself and not her at all. “What is wrong with me? I *should* hate you. I shouldn't even *be* talking to you.”
Pulling the chair out in front of her, Rebekah sat down and looked up at him, her tone matter-of-fact. “What's done is done.”
Matt threw his dishrag down and glared at her. “This is so hard for her, you have no ide—“
“I know,” she interrupted bitterly. “I went through it myself, but I had no one who knew what was going on. Elena has help.” She reached out and captured his hand, imploring him to not turn away. “And she’s still here. Elena is *still* here.” He was silent for a moment and then jerked his hand away. Controlling a surge of annoyance, she rose to her feet, muttering under her breath. “Why do I have to keep reminding you of that fact?”
Suddenly, Matt turned around, his expression open now, not even bothering to hide his confusion. “Rebekah, what do you want?
“You to not hate me?” She answered promptly.
He shook his head, speaking softly. “What you did…”
Rebekah rolled her eyes. “Oh, please. In your little band of friends who hasn't done something terrible?” Raising a brow, she held his gaze. “Come now, you don't live in a moral world of black and white anymore, do you?”
“No, no, but—“
“Yes, you still care. You still know the difference between right and wrong,” she finished for him, a light strain of sarcasm dancing in her tone. Reaching out, she touched his arm again, her fingers curling, and she turned earnest. “You think I don't care, that I don't think about other people. You’re right. But what you don’t see is that I haven't had to in centuries, but...”
He didn’t pull from her hold, nor did he look away. She was silent, unwilling to finish until he prompted, his voice soft. “But?”
Equally as soft, she finally spoke. “You make me want to. And that is something... no one else ever has.”
Matt didn’t move. He didn’t speak, but his eyes widened, surprise lighting their blue. And they were so warm and soft, she found herself melting into them. It was a beautiful feeling.
“Rebekah,” he whispered.
“I like you,” she whispered back, her voice low. He blinked, his lips parting to speak, but she rushed ahead. “Look, if I hadn't done what I did—I know, you can’t forget, but just put that aside for the moment. Am I wrong? I think that you maybe liked me a little too… before?”
He bit his lip, looking down. And then quietly, grudgingly. “Maybe.”
“That's something too,” she whispered softly.
Sighing, he glanced up at her. “Rebekah…” He trailed off, but his reticence wasn’t a bother at all. She was quite pleased at having finally, finally! made some real headway with him.
A smile spread across her face and she gave his arm a light tap before releasing it. “If you want to take that spin, or give me a lesson…” He rolled his eyes, but there was the hint of a smile fighting its way onto his lips. Rebekah moved away, but stopped to look over her shoulder and she captured his attention once more.
“You know where to find the car... and me.”
Elena shut the front door quietly. The image of Stefan’s dejected face lingered in her mind. She hadn’t told him what happened with Meredith in the bathroom on the ride home because she knew that he would figure out easily enough what had set her off. Instead she lied and told him she felt weak from not enough blood in her system. Stefan had, of course, offered to go hunting.
She managed to put him off by telling him it was more her emotions than physical weakness, alluding to her freak-out earlier at the boarding house. He had been quiet for a long time, long enough that she wondered if he would call her on her lie. Finally, he just offered a small smile and took her at her word. Or at least pretended to. And then he had told her what a great job she was doing. She hadn’t known whether to laugh at his pretense or cry at his ignorance. Worst of all, she didn’t know which was the case, the knowing or the not.
Leaning against the door, Elena shut her eyes for a brief moment, glad to be home and alone. Bonnie’s giggle suddenly pierced the air. Or not.
“Hey! Stop!” Jeremy cried out, laughter breaking from him.
Hearing the joy in their voices, Elena smiled. Following the sound, she found them in the living room, jostling each other on the couch, playing one of Jeremy’s games. They were both grinning, looking more relaxed than she’d seen either one in what felt like forever.
“Hey, Elena." Bonnie smile widened. "How was your double-date? Oh, wait, is Tyler acting normal?” She asked in quick succession as she moved away from Jeremy.
“It—I left early. It was fine. Tyler was… Tyler, I guess.” She gestured to the two of them on the couch, her brow raised. “So you two are… uhm?”
Bonnie rose to her feet, anxiously smoothing down her skirt. “We were just playing a game. I was gonna go, but Jeremy talked me into staying. I figured why not? It’d be fun.” She looked down at Jeremy. “We could all use some more fun.”
“Yeah,” Elena responded, but after the initial rush of seeing the two happy, her own misery began to weigh her down again and she couldn’t summon any enthusiasm. Bonnie’s face fell and Elena immediately felt guilty so she forced at least the ghost of a smile. “You two go on, have your fun, I, on the other hand, am going to bed. Night, Jere.” She turned to go.
“Elena?” Bonnie called out, worry in her voice. “Are you OK?”
The words ‘I’m fine’ were on the tip of her tongue. She heard them run in a loop in her mind, but couldn’t bring herself to tell one more lie. Maybe I’m just tired of playing pretend. “I attacked Meredith Fell in the bathroom.”
Jeremy and Bonnie stared at her, shock written all over their faces. “Night.” Elena tried to leave it at that and turned once more to go.
“Elena!” Jeremy called out. “What—what happened?”
Stopping again, Elena rested her hand against the stair newel. Why didn’t I just lie? She asked herself, regretting her moment of honesty. I won’t be doing that again. “I’ll be fine,” she managed tiredly.
“No, you won’t, Elena,” Bonnie told her as she reached her side. “You can’t do this. You can’t keep living like this. Half-vampire, half-human. It’s not working.”
Elena shook her head. “It is. Stefan was saying how great things are going.”
“Was this before or after you attacked someone else?”
“Bonnie, I'm not doing this.”
Her fingers curled around the wood as she heard Jeremy surge to his feet behind them. He let out a long, frustrated breath and Elena closed her eyes, so not wanting to deal with him right now. Ignoring her words to Bonnie, and her back still turned to them both, he refused to remain silent.
“Elena, Bonnie’s right. You can't keep doing this. Pretending you're fine. You're not.”
She took a deep breath and forced herself to turn around and face them. “It's not going to happen overnight. It hasn't even been a week.” Her tone took on a pleading note. “I'm just gonna need time.” Gathering from her dwindling reserve of strength, she kept her voice from breaking by sheer force of will. “Just give me some time.” Without giving them a chance to respond, she turned and hurried upstairs. She hoped desperately neither would follow.
Before she even reached her room, she heard Bonnie’s footsteps behind her and bit back a curse. Sitting on the bed, she waited for her friend to enter, which she did tentatively a few moments later.
“What happened tonight, Elena? You were doing better, no more attacking classmates.” Bonnie tried for a smile, but it was forced.
“What did he do?”
Elena closed her eyes, frustrated with herself for automatically putting it on Damon when this wasn’t his fault at all. “Nothing, Bonnie, he didn't do anything.” She sighed, and met Bonnie’s troubled gaze. “He was with Meredith and I got jealous. So I followed her into the bathroom and she, God, I think it was a joke, she said something about the two of them and I just— I attacked her. Caroline came in, took care of her and then I left.”
She gave a tired smile with a shake of her head. “And on the drive home, I lied to Stefan...” She couldn’t go on. She was just so tired. Meeting Bonnie’s gaze, sadness filled every fiber of her. “And Damon—I just need to stay away from Damon. I can’t be around him. Not now, not until I have this under control. Every time I see him, some *thing* happens. He just makes me *feel* so, so much.”
Bonnie was quiet for a moment. She moved to the bed and gingerly perched on the edge; her voice was hesitant when she spoke. “Elena, why are you with Stefan if Damon makes you feel this way?”
Laughing, Elena ran her hands through her hair and looked at Bonnie. “Because Stefan *doesn’t* make me feel this way!” As the words flew from her mouth, Elena felt sick. Because she knew it was wrong. She knew it was wrong to be with Stefan if she felt, or didn’t feel this way. But she didn’t know how to just walk away. She had fought so hard to get Stefan back, *her* Stefan and to just give up on them without really trying? What does that say about me? But… her thoughts trailed off and she met Bonnie’s searching gaze. I’m not being fair to Damon either. Elena took a deep breath and refused to look away. “I slept with him, Bonnie.”
Tears began to fall. “I had sex with Damon. The night I turned. I had sex with him. And I can't be around him because every time I am, I just want him again.” Her voice dropped to a whisper. “And I don't feel that way about Stefan anymore. Everything's just so twisted and I feel so guilty and so terrible…” She was too choked up to continue.
Bonnie’s eyes were wide in shock, her mouth falling open. She was silent, and then with a quick shake of her head, she reached out and grabbed onto Elena’s hand. “You need to end things with Stefan.”
“I can’t just end things.”
“No, Bonnie, after *everything* that Stefan and I have been through…”
“I don’t think that matters anymore. I know you, Elena, vampire or not, you wouldn't do *that* unless things had changed with you and Stefan. It's OK." She gave a sympathetic shrug and a small smile. "Sometimes you fall out of love and you move on.”
“But,” she cried, tears streaming now. “Stefan and I are meant to be together. Forever.” Forever, she repeated the word like a mantra in her mind because that is what she had believed in so long and it made things so much easier. With everything else falling apart, as long as she at least had the certainty of Stefan, she would be fine. “We have forever now.”
“But you're having sex with his brother.”
“It was once, it was just once...” she whispered brokenly.
She couldn’t do this. She needed to think, clear her head. “I need to figure this out on my own. Bonnie, can you just go? I wanna be alone.”
“Elena, we should talk—“
And just like that it was too much. Seeing Damon yesterday, finding herself in his arms once again. Hearing Stefan’s lies this morning. Unable to be with him. Attacking Meredith. Lying to Stefan. Admitting what had happened with Damon. It all began to whirl in her head like a tornado and she wanted to scream.
“Stop.” She cut Bonnie off. “You need to go.” I don’t want to hurt you, Bonnie, but I’m so close. God, I’m so close. Just go. Please go.
But she shook her head. “Elena, I’m not leaving you like this. You can talk to me about this—“
“No, I can’t, Bonnie! You don’t understand. You *can’t* understand. You are not a vampire. You don’t know how I feel, why I feel how I feel. All of these emotions clawing inside my brain, making me want to burst out of my skin!”
“Elena,” Bonnie cried out, but the words rushing out of Elena like a torrent.
“There's so much hunger inside of me and I can't control it. It makes me want to to hurt somebody. I want to do so much damage and it feels like I'm fighting it every single second. And Damon makes it all worse. And Stefan... I can pretend with him. I can pretend it’s not that bad.”
“You can't pretend anymore, Elena! That's the problem. It’s not Damon. It’s you. Pretending to be something you're not!”
Elena shut her eyes, shaking her head back and forth. “You don't understand, you don’t understand, you don’t understand,” she mumbled over and over.
“Elena—“ Bonnie tried to talk over her.
“You don’t understand!” She finally shouted. “Get out, get out! JUST GET OUT!”
Bonnie stood up, shaking as she began to cry, backing away.
“Bonnie,” Elena rose, regret and sorrow written all over her. “I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I just—“ She broke off, a sob breaking free. “Bonnie, I need to be alone. I'm sorry.” Her voice dropped to a whisper. “I just need to be alone right now.”
Wiping at her tears, Bonnie stilled. “OK. OK,” and then she managed a teary smile. “But if you need me...”
“I know. Thank you. I just—“
“Yeah, I get it. You need to be alone. I'll go.” She turned to leave and accidentally knocked over some trinkets, and a picture. Bending down to pick them up, Bonnie set everything down except for the picture, she looked at it for a moment and back to Elena. “When did you take this?”
Elena couldn’t help but smile when she saw what Bonnie was holding. She and Jeremy had been raking leaves while Ric kept them from making a mess of the piles. Off to the side, but still in the frame was Damon. He was leaning against a tree, watching them with half a smile. Elena stood up, reaching out to take the picture.
“Last fall, we were doing yard duty and Jeremy, see that pile there he’s in front of?” Bonnie nodded. “He swore it looked like Yoda and Mr. Fairley was taking pictures of birds in the next yard so Jere asked him to take a picture.”
Bonnie laughed lightly. “That looks nothing like Yoda.”
Wiping at her nose, Elena laughed too. “I know. Damon told him he was an idiot and as punishment had to watch Phantom Menace again.”
Bonnie smiled at her. “It’s nice.”
Sighing, Bonnie handed the picture to Elena. “OK, I’m going really.” And then suddenly she reached out and pulled Elena into a hug. “I love you,” she whispered fiercely.
Elena wrapped her arms around her best friend, smiling through her tears. “I love you too.”
Releasing Elena, Bonnie stepped back. She wiped at a few stray tears and nodded. “OK, I'm going. I'm going.” Turning to the door, she pulled it open, then paused and looked back to Elena, her eyes wide. “Oh, wait!”
Elena manages a watery laugh. “Bonnie...”
“Just real quick. I thought it was important. I just wanted to say about Mr. Saltzman's funeral, I think it will be good for you.”
Wincing, Bonnie bit her lip. “Oh, I thought you knew. Anyway, yeah, Damon set it up.” She gave a brief shake of her head. “Jeremy’ll fill you in... when you're feeling better.” She smiled. “I'll go now. For real. You take care of you.”
Elena was quiet after Bonnie finally did leave. She stood at her dresser for a long moment, her mind blank. Glancing down, she took note again of the picture in her hand. An honest-to-goodness Polaroid shot. Mr. Fairley was definitely not living in the here and now. Tilting her head to the side, she brought it up close.
She smiled as she took in the laughter on Jeremy’s face, and her own. At Ric standing there, arms crossed, trying to be the stern father figure. At Damon, the smallest quirk to his lips as if he wasn’t willing to go full-tilt, but even in two-dimensional form, she could see the smile in his eyes, and the relaxation in his stance. The love… as he looked at her, at being a part of their ‘family.’
With a sad sigh, she shook her head, banishing the thought and set it back down on the dresser. As her eyes rose, she found her gaze caught by a different picture: She and Stefan right after they began dating, before she even knew that he was a vampire. Back then, he represented everything that was good and possible again. After her parents’ deaths, she’d given up on ever being happy and along had come Stefan giving her everything she wanted.
You want a love that consumes you. You want passion and adventure and even a little danger. Damon’s words from that night, before her parents died, drifted through her mind. Yes, that is what Stefan had been. The fantasy Damon prescribed made real in the form of his brother. And she was holding onto that fantasy so tightly… because that is what it was, what they were. A fantasy.
So many lies, so much between them unspoken, the embodiment of who they wanted to be in a perfect, pretty package. Whenever reality crept up on them, they deferred, they looked away, they buried their heads. Yes, Damon was right in what he had said yesterday. She and Stefan loved each other, but you could love a fantasy. That didn’t make the love any less real. It just didn’t make it lasting.
Bonnie was right too. She couldn’t be with Stefan just because he didn’t make her feel that intensity, that passion while Damon did. That she didn’t feel that way about Stefan anymore was exactly why she *shouldn’t* be with him. Drifting away from the dresser, she lowered herself back onto the bed. Reaching out she looked at the koala bear that he had won for her months ago. Elena held it to her, but it didn’t feel right, didn’t smell right. She set it to the side. And grabbed Mr. Bear who had been with her for years. She hugged him close as an unexpected peace began to fill her.
Elena took a deep breath as she finally admitted the truth to herself. There was no trying anymore with them. Whatever she had once had with Stefan, it was gone. It was time to let go. With a sigh, she looked over at her dresser where the picture Bonnie had found was resting against the mirror and her gaze found Damon's smile.
She couldn't help but return his smile, even as heaviness threatened to drown her once more. Just because she was letting go of Stefan didn't mean she was ready to deal with what was happening with Damon. She needed to deal with what was happening with her first. But it was OK because Damon understood. He would stay away, respect the choices she was making. He understood. Damon understood.
TO BE CONTINUED