Chapter: 15 – Acceptance is Your Path to Growth [Featured Characters: Damon, Elena, Jeremy, Stefan, Caroline]
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: 5,716
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, Klaus/Caroline).
Just a heads-up, obviously TVD has returned, but nothing in this fic -- despite some similarities you may note -- is inspired by anything seen in season 04. Nor will it be -- if I start adding things from the show it might wind up messing my planned story!
PREVIOUS CHAPTERS - 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14
Chapter 15: Acceptance is Your Path to Growth
The door was unlocked when Damon arrived. Without bothering to knock, he entered and sped upstairs. Standing in the doorway of Elena’s bedroom he had a moment of déjà vu. There lay Jeremy, lifeless in front of Elena’s bed. And kneeling at his feet with tears streaking her face and horror in her eyes was Elena. The big difference here was that he hadn’t snapped Jeremy’s neck. Nope, this time it was on Elena.
She looked up at him, desolation in her gaze. “Damon,” she cried brokenly. “I can’t check, I’m afraid… I don’t know—“ She didn’t complete the sentence, breaking down in sobs. Moving forward, Damon knelt before Jeremy’s still form, understanding what Elena wasn’t saying. I hope to God the kid listened to me, Damon silently prayed as he reached out to Jeremy’s hand.
The ring was on his finger. A wave of relief swept through Damon, and he didn’t honestly know how much of it was for Elena and how much for Jeremy. Without realizing it, Jeremy had wormed his way into Damon’s affection.
He held up Jeremy’s hand. “Elena, he’s wearing the ring.” Her eyes widened, hope flaring in their depths. “He’s wearing the ring,” he repeated. “He’s going to be fine. Give it a few minutes.” Damon nodded reassuringly.
She was still for a moment, and then like air being released from a balloon, she sagged against the bed. “He’s going to be fine. He’s going to be fine,” she whispered again and then suddenly launched herself at Damon, wrapping her arms tightly around his neck. “Oh, God, Damon. Thank you, thank you. He’s going to be fine. He’s going to be fine.” She buried her face in the crook of his neck.
Smiling, Damon slid his arms around her and gave a tight squeeze. He let her cry it out on his shoulder, but his eyes didn’t stray from Jeremy. He had to get her out of there before Jeremy woke up, probably freaking the ever-loving fuck out. Mentally doing the math, Damon realized time was growing short. Reluctantly he pulled back.
Reaching up, he cupped her face in his hands. “Hey, I’ll take care of him, OK?” She nodded, but he could tell it was without comprehension. “Elena?” She met his gaze, her eyes glowing, her face suffused with relief. “Listen to me.” She nodded again, and this time it seemed to hold some understanding. “Go take a shower, clear your head. I will take care of Jeremy when he wakes up.”
“No,” she shook her head. “I need to be here for—“
“No, you don’t. I’ll be here.” He smiled. “When you’re done, we’ll both be waiting.”
“Yes,” she responded without hesitation.
He nodded. “Good, go take a shower. I got this.” His tone brooked no argument.
Elena frowned, but then with a quick nod, she withdrew her arms and rose to her feet. She took a few steps, then stopped and looked back down at her brother. “He’s going to be fine?” Her voice was small, like a child, and it broke his heart.
Damon offered up a reassuring smile. She returned a fleeting one and then went to the bathroom, shutting the door behind her. Sighing, Damon looked down at Jeremy’s lifeless body. How am I gonna handle this? Fuck. Rising to his feet, Damon stilled at the sound of the shower starting. Quickly, he pulled his phone out and scrolled for Caroline’s name.
“What do you want, Damon?”
“Always a pleasure. Now shut up and listen. I need you to get and keep Stefan somewhere, anywhere away from the boarding house for a few hours, more if you can.”
Damon bit back a curse. He really didn’t have time for twenty questions, but he figured he owed her an explanation. “Elena did a big no-no, and no, I’m not telling you what, if she wants to she will later. I need to take her to the boarding house and… deal with it. Stefan’s presence will not help matters.”
There was a long pause, and then a drawn-out sigh. “Fine. I’m trusting you here, Damon, for Elena’s sake. What am I supposed to do?”
“Just get him gone and keep him occupied. Go bunny-hunting, braid each other’s hair, recite the Twilight series to put him to sleep, I don’t care. Just do something, anything to keep him away.” He looked down at Jeremy with a shake of his head. Unfuckingbelievable. She pulled a me. “Can you do that?”
“Yeah—I, yeah, I’ll get him to my place.”
“Good.” He hung up and knelt back down. It was perfect timing because in the next instant Jeremy jerked up with a loud exhalation.
“Wha—?! Elena!?” His eyes were wide, his breathing heavy. He met Damon’s worried gaze and Damon could tell the moment that Jeremy remembered what happened. Horror washed over his face, his mouth flopping open like a dead fish, no sounds coming out.
“Jeremy? Jeremy, listen to me. Listen!” Jeremy nodded, gulping hungrily for air, his body beginning to tremble and shudder. “I know you really, really want to freak out right now—“
“She snapped my neck,” he managed on a horrified breath.
“I know, listen.”
“Jere! Focus. I know she did, but you can’t freak out.” He reached out and grabbed his chin, forcing Jeremy’s gaze to remain locked on his. “You can not freak out. Breathe.” He waited a beat, and then again. “Breathe.” Jeremy let out a thready breath. “Good.” Damon nodded. “Now go downstairs, make Elena a hot cup of tea, then come back up here and act as normal as possible.” He gave a sharp smile.
Jeremy shook his head, jerking out of Damon’s hold. “I can’t.”
“No, no. She killed me.” Jeremy sat up straight, anger, pain and fear dueling on his face. “Damon, my sister killed me!”
“Ssh,” Damon shot a quick look to the bathroom, focusing on the sounds coming from the shower. He just heard water, no flurry of movement as if she'd been listening. “I know. I know she did. But you can’t react to it, not right now.”
“I can’t,” and Jeremy’s voice broke, tears beginning to wet his face. “We were fighting, saying horrible things to each other. I told her I hated her, I wish our parents had never adopted her. And she—Damon, she snapped my neck.” He let out a sob and, as if the weight was too much, fell forward into Damon’s arms.
Looking up, Damon bit back an oath. He put a hand on Jeremy’s back and gave it a few comforting pats. He felt for the kid, he truly did, but his bigger concern was for what this absolutely understandable reaction would do to Elena. Bending his head slightly, he spoke low. “I know this sucks, Jeremy. But if you love your sister, and I *know* that you love her, you will do this.”
He was quiet, letting his words settle. After a few moments, Jeremy sat back up and looked at Damon. He didn’t say anything, just shook his head soundlessly.
“Jeremy, she can’t see you like this. Seeing you like this could add weeks, months to her dealing with this whole vampire thing. Hell, it could be an underlying issue that haunts her forever. Jeremy, forever. Literally. For. Ever.” He captured Jeremy’s gaze and held it tight. “Do you love her?"
“Yes,” he nodded. His voice was quiet, but the response was immediate.
“OK. Listen, you had a bad fight, it happens. Siblings have bad fights. You love her. She loves you. You'll be fine. Jeremy, look at me. You have to do this.”
Jeremy shook his head, "I can't, I don’t—I don’t think I can." He looked towards the bathroom and this time pain had overtaken the anger and fear. Then he jerked suddenly and turned to Damon, hope in his eyes. “Can you compel me to do it? To be OK?"
Damon paused for a moment, thinking and then he nodded even though he didn’t want to. If he had more time, he knew that Jeremy could do this without compulsion. Damon figured that in the long run it would be better for Jeremy if he did, and Damon wasn’t sure he could lie to Elena if she asked him about it. He looked down at the bracelet on Jeremy’s wrist and a sudden idea struck him. Reaching into his pocket, he pulled out the package he’d brought with him before the funeral, but had forgotten to leave behind.
“Yeah, but take this. I meant to drop it off earlier.” Jeremy looked confused, but took it.
“Never mind, we gotta hurry.” He pulled Jeremy’s bracelet off and threw it down between them. “OK, Jeremy, look at me.” The younger Gilbert did, nodding as a look of peace fell over his face. Please, if you're up there, God, let this work.
“You’re going to go make your sister some tea and when we come downstairs you’re going to tell her you understand she’s under a lot of stress. Hey, you’ve died plenty of times before, no big. Elena and I are gonna head out, and you are going to tell her she doesn’t have to go. I’ll insist. You give in. We leave, and then you can go ahead and freak the fuck out after we’re gone. Got it?”
Jeremy nodded. “Make tea, I understand, died lots of times. She leaves, I don’t want her to, you insist. I freak out when you go.”
“Good boy.” He stood up, and then jerked a thumb towards the door. “Go, make the tea.”
Jeremy rose to his feet and headed to the door. He stopped at the entrance and gestured to the package in his hand. “What is this?”
“Just put it on the counter. I’ll explain later.” He offered a swift smile and Jeremy nodded, hurrying out of the room.
Timing again was on his side. Just after Jeremy left, the water turned off and a few moments later, Elena walked out, dressed in the same dress she’d worn to the funeral, her hair wet, hanging down her back. “Where’s Jeremy?”
“He’s downstairs, making you tea. Come on.”
She shook her head. “He won’t want to see me.”
“Come on, just see that he’s OK and then we’ll go.”
Leaning against the door, she began to play with the handle. “Where are we going?”
“To the boarding house.”
“No, no. I don’t want to see Stefan. He’s gonna— No.” She shook her head, emphasizing her denial.
“Stefan won’t be there. I took care of it.”
Her eyes widened in horror. “Did you tell him?”
“No. Just the three of us know, I didn’t tell anyone else. Come on, let’s go.” He kept his voice low and soothing, treating her like the wounded animal she was, tentative and skittish.
Elena was still for a moment, and then nodding, she followed him out of the room. Downstairs, Jeremy was pulling out some mugs. He froze when he saw his sister but then with a determined look, he straightened up and forced the world’s most awkward smile on his face.
“Elena, I made you some tea.” His voice was practically robotic. Damon rolled his eyes, but at the same time a huge sense of relief filled him because it seemed like he was right about the younger Gilbert. “And don’t worry about killing me.”
Elena flinched, her face losing all color. Damon winced. That awful smile faded away into natural anxiety. “No, it’s OK. I’ve died lots of times. It’s no big.” And back came the smile.
“We’ll pass on the tea,” Damon interjected before Elena could. “I’m taking Elena to the boarding house.”
Jeremy’s looked away from them and towards the not-yet boiling tea kettle. “Uhm, OK.” And then his eyes jerked back to Damon. “I mean, no, it’s not OK. Elena, you should stay here. With me. It’s cool.” He nodded, the smile growing into some freakish-Chuckie-nightmare-looking thing.
“No, we’ll go.” He turned to Elena. “Hey, you, go to the car, I need to talk to Jeremy.”
She looked between the two. “Wha—what?”
“Oh, OK.” She glanced over at Jeremy, and tears began to fall, her voice breaking. “I’m so sorry, Jeremy. I’m so…” she trailed off, unable to speak.
“I’m OK, Elena.” He gulped, and then spoke thickly. “I’m sorry too. What I said. I’m sorry. I love you. You’re my sister.”
“Jeremy,” she cried and Damon knew any second she was going to throw herself into her brother’s arms, and yeah, that wasn’t gonna happen. He reached out and touched her shoulder. Elena stiffened and looked at him.
“We should go.” He raised his brows, and then smiled softly. “Come on.”
She managed a small smile back and nodded. “OK.” She spared another quick glance her brother’s way and then headed out.
Damon was quiet, waiting until she was halfway to his car before walking into the kitchen. Looking around, he saw his package and picked it up, tossing it to Jeremy.
“What is this?”
Smiling, Damon leaned against the counter. “Some more vervain for you, for tea, sprinkle on your spaghetti, whatever.”
“Oh,” he nodded and set it down behind him. Damon waited, watching Jeremy. One, two, three… Jeremy’s eyes widened and he jerked his head back and forth between the vervain and Damon. There it is.
“I was holding it. When you—when you compelled me, Damon. I—how? I don’t understand.”
Damon shrugged. “I knew you could do it, and I figured free will was the way to go. She scared the ever-loving shit out of you, but you love her, you were just too freaked out. So I gave you an excuse to not freak out.”
Shaking his head, Jeremy leaned back against the counter. “But what if you were wrong?”
“Let’s just be happy I wasn’t and call it a night.” Damon walked over and squeezed Jeremy’s shoulder. “For all your annoying faults, you’re pretty tough. I figured you could handle it.” He shrugged. “And you did.” He met Jeremy’s eyes and held his gaze. Damon winked. “Good job.” Stepping back, his arms spread out expansively. “And now I have to go make your sister get with the program so this,” he clicked his tongue, “doesn’t happen again.”
Damon spared one more look for Jeremy's wide-eyed stare, then headed out. “See ya, kid.” Turning around, he waved farewell over his shoulder as relief once more coursed through him. One Gilbert down, one to go.
Caroline looked up when the doorbell rang. She let out a breath, really hoping that Stefan wouldn’t ask about Damon or Elena because she hated lying to him… especially for his brother.
She opened the door with a smile. “Hey.”
“Hey,” Stefan responded with a quick smile of his own as he stepped inside. “What’s up?”
“Thank you for coming over. I just—I needed to talk.”
Caroline shut the door behind them and sat down on the couch, inviting Stefan to join her. He did so. “It’s, uhm, boy trouble.”
Stefan raised a brow and looked around. “Uh,” he let out a confused laugh. “Don’t you have two best friends… that are girls?”
She sighed. “Yes, but I can’t talk to them about this, well, one of this’es.”
“Shut up,” she cried with a laugh. “Just, yeah, it’s Tyler, but it’s also Klaus.”
Stefan was silent, and then nodded. “Yeah, I imagine you can’t really talk to anyone else about him. Did something happen?”
Caroline shook her head and leaned back against the couch, gazing at the ceiling. “Tyler and I got into fight and he started throwing Klaus-stuff in my face.”
“That I kept the picture he drew of me.”
“Oh,” Stefan drew back, surprise lighting his features. “He drew a picture of you?”
She rolled her eyes. “What he never drew a picture of you? All decked out in your 20's tux, soulful eyes gazing into the distance.”
Shaking his head, Stefan grinned. “No. And I wasn’t exactly into soulful gazing at the point in my life.”
“Right, you were the Ripper.” She frowned. “What was that like?”
“Lots of killing, lots of feeding, lots of cruelty. And worst of all, lots of fun.” His lips twisted bitterly. “No wonder Klaus and I were such pals.”
They were both quiet, and then Caroline reached out, placing a gentle hand on his arm. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have asked.”
He smiled softly at her. “It’s OK actually. I can’t…” He trailed off with a sigh and the continued, a laugh of surprise escaping him. “You know, I can’t really talk about this with anyone else. I’m too ashamed to let Damon know just how bad it got.” He laughed again, this time harshly. “I can’t tell Elena at all. She’d never look at me the same. And Klaus and Rebekah, well, they were there, right alongside me. They understand the fun, but not why that was the worst part.
But we were talking about you and Klaus..."
She leaned back with a wry smile. "Right. So Tyler and I had a fight, and he was *totally* a jerk, but... he did kinda have a point. Klaus did more than draw me a picture. He gave me a diamond bracelet. A *really* nice one. And that beautiful blue dress I wore to that ball his family threw? Yeah, that was a gift from him too."
Stefan's eyes widened in surprise. "Wow. And you wore it."
"Yeah.” She offered up in a small voice, and then defensively added. “I didn't have anything else to wear!"
"Caroline, come on. Mystic Falls has a ridiculous amount of fancy parties and dances, you had something to wear."
"OK, fine, I did, but nothing new. And it was really beautiful." She pouted. "I couldn't resist."
Stefan rolled his eyes with a teasing smile. “You couldn’t resist. Of course. So Klaus has been lavishing you with gifts and Tyler wasn’t too happy about that. Caroline, he doesn’t ‘kinda’ have a point. He definitely does.”
She was quiet for a moment and then her shoulders slumped. “I know. But he really was a jerk about it. Like really jerky.”
“OK, fair enough, we all know that Tyler has his moments. What about Klaus? Where does he come in? You didn’t call me over here over gifts he gave you months ago.”
Biting her lip, Caroline squelched a pinch of guilt. Damon said this was for *Elena.* I can trust him when it comes to her at least. “I went to his place to return it all. I had a speech and everything.”
“So you did or you didn’t return it?”
“I did. I actually dropped it all at his feet.”
“Oh, I’m sure he didn’t like that,” Stefan grinned.
Her lips twisted. “He didn’t care. He was too busy teasing me, too busy flirting and being all European and romantic and stuff. ‘Like the sky after the rains have cleansed the earth.’ Really.” She looked at Stefan, shaking her head. “That’s what he said about my eyes. How can I not melt a little?” She threw herself back again, throwing an arm over her face. “I know, by remembering that he’s a completely evil psychopath.” Her voice dropped to a low murmur. “Why do I forget that sometimes?”
Stefan was quiet for a long moment, and then she felt his touch as he pulled her hand into his and gazed at her, his eyes all soulful. “Sometimes it’s easier to forget what we don’t want to remember. When we want to feel loved, it doesn’t matter where it comes from. It just matters that it’s there and reality…” He trailed off, a wry smile tilting his lips. “Reality is a bitter pill to swallow.”
Caroline squeezed his hand, realizing he was talking specifics. “What’s your bitter pill?”
Releasing her hand, Stefan rose to his feet and walked over to the window. He was silent as he gazed out into the sunset. “I thought that despite everything that happened with Klaus, whatever happened here when I was gone, that all Elena and I had to do was just be together again and it would all just melt away. That our love was strong enough that we could just go back.” He turned around to look at Caroline again. “Sometimes you can’t go back. Sometimes you can’t pretend that everything is OK.”
Caroline smiled sadly. “Sometimes you have to take your pill no matter how bitter?”
“Yeah.” He looked down, his voice low. “I don’t know if we’re gonna make it. How can we when she feels what she,” he paused, shaking his head, “feels for him?”
Looking away, Caroline frowned, guilt once more attacking her. She was on the verge of confessing why she had called him over when she caught sight of a picture of her and Tyler from the 20’s decades dance. And in the next moment, the memory of dancing in Klaus’ arms at that very dance, his passionate gaze holding her captive. She gave a quick shake of her head, sending a sudden sharp look Stefan’s way. His words resonated through her -- I don’t know if we’re gonna make it. How can we when she feels what she feels for him? -- and she was shaken by how they could be applied to her and Tyler … and Klaus just as easily.
Elena was quiet as they walked through the front door, as quiet as she had been the entire ride to the boarding house. Damon spared her a quick glance, but he was focused more on the sound of any movement in the house. After a few moments of silence beyond the two of them, he breathed an inner sigh of relief. Blondie came through.
He turned to Elena, a crooked smile curving his lips. Her hair was a tangled, heavy mess, still wet from the shower. There were dark smudges under and at the corner of her eyes where her make-up had smeared through passion, tears and scalding water. She’d missed a button on her dress, and it hung awkwardly on her frame. And with all of that, she was still the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen.
“What?” she murmured, managing a small smile.
He shook his head, on the verge of telling her nothing when he decided on the truth. “You’re beautiful.”
“I’m a mess,” she laughed shakily.
“Yeah, a beautiful mess.” He reached out, running a light finger across her cheek. “Come on, let’s go upstairs. Stefan’s not here, but no need announcing your presence if he shows up.”
Her expression fell, and she nodded tiredly. “Yeah.”
Less than a minute later, they were in his room. Elena sat gingerly on the edge of his bed and he hurried into the bathroom. “Don’t move,” he told her as he grabbed a towel. Moving quickly to her side, Damon held it out to her. “Your hair is still wet. Don’t want you laying down on my nice, dry sheets.”
She raised an eyebrow. “Am I laying down?”
“Well, since you look like something the cat dragged in, I’m thinking a little rest isn’t entirely a bad idea.” He pushed the towel towards her again. “So, dry your hair, lie down. I’ve got an idea.”
He shrugged. “No, about you. Jeremy’s fine. Trust me.” He stilled and captured her gaze, his tone sincere. “Trust me?”
“You know that I do.”
Damon smiled. “Good, so dry your hair, lie down. I just need to do a little more research.”
Ten minutes later, she was lying down, but not sleeping. He could hear her sniffling and her breath catching as she tried to control her tears. Damon shook his head, looking down at the notes he’d managed to translate from the pictures that Jeremy had taken of the latest Original-related graffiti in the Lockwood caves. He hadn’t figured out the whole thing, but context very well could be key here. It certainly tracked with what the Original daddy dearest had told him once upon a time.
“I'd offer you a drink-... but Katherine tells me you're more of a "vampire on the rocks" kind of guy.” Damon glanced over at Mikael, undisguised curiosity in his gaze.
The much-older vampire smiled. “Well, technically you could still offer.”
Unwilling to drop the subject just yet, Damon prodded. “Why feed on vampires?” Mikael gazed blandly at him, and Damon added a snarky afterthought. “Don't tell me it's for the smooth after taste.”
Mikael was quiet for a moment, and then offered up an explanation of sorts. “I had a hand in creating vampires, but bloodlust was never my intention. Over the centuries I learned to feed from the predator, not the innocent.”
Damon tapped his pen on the desk, reading the words he had deciphered. Vampire. Blood. Innocent. Feed. It was possibly a stretch, but he wondered if Mikael had begun his journey to vampire-dieting from the get-go, but due to normal human blood consumption it had taken him those centuries to master it. If that was the case, maybe Elena could do the same, and get a head start on the mastery.
Hesitating for one moment longer, Damon set the pen down decisively. Might as well give it a try. Biting into his wrist, he grabbed a tumbler and dribbled a generous amount of his blood into the glass, pulling at his skin to keep the liquid flowing. When it was more than half full, he pulled back with a grimace and watched as his flesh healed immediately.
Damon stood up, glass in hand, and walked over to the bed. Elena began to sit up and he placed the tumbler on the bed stand beside her. Reaching behind her, he fluffed the pillows. “Here, sit up.”
Wiping at her tear-streaked face, Elena complied. “What are you doing?”
He perched on the bed next to her. “I told you, I had an idea.” Reaching over, he picked up the glass. “Here, I want you to drink this blood.”
Elena’s eyes widened in horror. “No, Damon, I told you– I already tasted too much, Dr. Fell, Beverly, even that first taste from Jeremy. It wasn’t much, but it was more than I wanted. If I drink more, God, Damon if I drink more, I don’t know if I can stop myself from wanting more and more.”
Damon was quiet. His brows raised. “Are you done?”
Confusion, and a brief flash of welcome annoyance, flitted across her face. “Am I– what?”
“It’s not human blood. I know how you feel about that. Trust me, you’ve made yourself *abundantly* clear on that score.”
“It’s not human?”
“Did I stutter?”
Frowning at him, she rolled her eyes. “Damon.” He held the glass out to her without responding. “So it’s animal blood? I don’t like the animal blood.”
He sighed. “Elena, take it.”
She hesitated a moment longer and then took it. Bringing the tumbler to her mouth, her eyes started to darken, veins popping out beneath her eyes as the smell hit her. She took a sip, and then another, her eyes closing rapturously. Both hands wrapped around the glass and she tilted her head back, swallowing the contents in one long swallow. Her vampire-face faded, and it was just Elena again, but the pallor that had haunted her since she’d turned had faded as color bloomed in her cheeks. Her eyes were bright as she looked at him.
“What was it? Do you have more? I want more. I’m so hungry. That was so— oh my God, that was so good. What animal was that?”
A smile played around his lips as he took the glass from her. “It wasn’t an animal.”
The smile on her face faded and before he could explain, she lashed out at him, horror, anger, pain lacing every word.
“You lied to me! I trusted you!”
She backed away, pushing herself into the pillows behind her. “Damon you said it wasn't human! You knew…” she trailed off, tears began to fall again as she continued to rail at him, talking over his attempts to calm her down.
“You knew I didn’t want this, I never wanted to know, to— to *savor* the taste of human blood.” She began to sob and threw the glass angrily across the room.
He winced as it shattered, thinking of the clean-up job awaiting him. OK, now I’m pissed. “Elena!” He reached out and held her shoulders. “Look at me. It is NOT human blood. I wouldn’t do that to you.” She stilled. “So much for trusting me,” he muttered, his hands dropped to the bed. “I wouldn’t do that to you,” he repeated.
“You said it wasn’t an animal… so what was it, Damon, if it wasn’t human?”
“It was vampire blood.”
Her mouth dropped open with a pop. Her lips moved wordlessly. She shook her head. Finally she managed one word. “Vampire?”
“Mine to be exact.”
Elena let out a long breath, confusion clouding her face. She looked up at him. “I don’t understand. How does that work?”
He shrugged. “I told you I was digging around in the Lockwood caves. There was another one with pretty pictures that included what I figured was a reference to Papa Original draining one of the newbie vamps that his offspring created. It reminded me of a conversation me and the old man had once upon a time. You remember Klaus’ non-daddy?”
She nodded, but remained silent.
“He drank vampire blood. That’s how he survived. I asked him about it, he gave enough information paired with what I found in the cave that I thought it might work for you. We have to try something. You’re starving yourself, Elena. You’re losing it.”
“No, I’m—“ She started to protest, but he cut her off with a shake of his head.
“You snapped your baby brother’s neck tonight. You attacked Meredith Fell yesterday, and a classmate a day or two before then. You’ve been barely feeding because even snacking on bunnies makes your empathetic heart break. Tell me again that you’re fine. I dare you.”
“I–“ she began, and then shook her head helplessly. “I’m losing it.”
“How do you feel now?”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, you’ve only had a few sips of the awesome human blood so you can’t really compare, and judging from your reaction, mine tops the icky animal stuff?”
She nodded. “It was delicious.” Damon couldn’t help but grin. “Honestly, Damon, it tasted so much better than bunny blood. It was stronger and richer, and this way I’m not hurting anyone.”
“What about all those helpless bunnies?” She looked down, and Damon was surprised to see shame on her face. “Elena, I was kidding.”
“I know, but I did—I felt guilty because even if I wasn’t hurting humans, I was still hurting innocent animals.”
Damon couldn’t help but laugh. “Right because before you turned, you were a vegan.”
“Hey!” She cried, smacking his arm, but she was laughing. He grinned, happy to see the first genuine smile he’d seen on her face in what felt like forever. Moments later, even though it faded, contentment remained. She ducked her head slightly, and looked up at him from beneath her lashes. “Damon?”
“The thing about your blood that was weird—“ She broke off, her brow crinkled in thought. “It was definitely better than the animal blood, but it felt… flat, I guess?”
He nodded. “That makes sense. It’s probably like human blood.” Elena shook her head slightly in bewilderment. “The blood bags do the trick, but we’re not taking it from the source, feeling the heartbeat thrum in our veins when we drink, so there’s a flatness. That wouldn’t be there drinking from animals because you get that heartbeat, if not the rich taste.”
Elena was quiet. She looked at him, her eyes wide. Gingerly she bit her bottom lip, and Damon found his gaze drawn to her mouth. It suddenly struck him that Elena Gilbert was lying in his bed. And he wasn't dying from a werewolf bite. He released an unsteady breath, stilling himself, determined to control the lust that thought spiked in him. “Damon?” She said softly, almost shyly, obviously unaware of his less-than-pure thoughts. He dragged his eyes back up to her face. She looked so hopeful.
He raised a brow.
“Can I—can I drink from you? I mean, directly from the vein? I’m still hungry. Would that be OK?”
Desire ratcheted up to a thousand at the very thought of her fangs piercing into his skin, her lips pressed against his flesh, drinking his blood. He cleared his throat, managing a steady tone. “Yeah.” He cleared his throat again. “That would be fine.” A smile bloomed across her face, and this time it was his heart that flooded with feeling. He couldn’t help but smile back.
Rising to his feet, he walked around the bed and settled in comfortably. He pulled his sleeve up and presented his wrist to her. Elena looked at him, not moving. "Go for it. Dive in." She grinned and reached out for his arm. Veins darkened and spread under her eyes as her fangs descended. Wanting to close his eyes in anticipation, he none-the-less kept them open, wanting even more to see the moment when she bit... Ah! Oh God. The sweet pain pierced him as she tore into his flesh, her lips were moist upon his skin and lust coursed through him at the first pull of his blood into her mouth.
Damon threw his head back, as his other hand clenched at the sheets, his fingers furiously digging into their Egyptian cotton. As she sucked harder and harder, each pull tugged at the pit of his stomach, heat spreading through him. He shifted in glorious discomfort, his jeans growing constricted.
It was hell.
Elena paused between sips of blood, a sigh of the most unbearable sweetness escaping her lips.
It was heaven.
TO BE CONTINUED