Chapter: 16 – Coming to Terms [Featured Characters: Damon, Elena, Matt, Rebekah and Stefan]
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: 7,748
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!
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Chapter 16: Coming To Terms
Less than thirty minutes had passed since she began drinking Damon’s blood. He’d gotten up about ten minutes in to grab some blood bags for himself. “Replenish the source material,” he’d quipped. Elena had been too lost in the glorious sensation of not only the taste of him, but in getting her fill after almost a week of near-starving herself that she couldn’t even summon a smile, she just needed more of his blood.
At last satiated, she threw herself back against the pillows, feeling a completeness that she hadn’t thought possible before this moment. She marveled at how *great* she felt, from the delightful tingling of her senses to the clarity of her vision to the energy that surged through her blood. It was amazing. She closed her eyes and inhaled deeply before releasing the breath in a long, satisfied sigh.
Opening her eyes, Elena turned her head Damon’s way. He was tearing into another blood bag. “I’m sorry I drank so much.”
He shrugged. “I’m good,” and began sucking from his bag with a relaxed air. “As long as you’re good?”
“Yeah,” she offered with a slight nod.
Pulling herself up slightly, Elena arranged the pillows behind her. “I feel full. The first time since I died—“ And like that the pleasant feeling went away. Her eyes shuttered closed, the words reminding her of what she couldn’t believe that she had forgotten. Elena brought her hand to her mouth, a horrified whisper escaping her. “Jeremy.”
“Damon, what I did to him—“
“He’s fine, Elena. I promise you. It was a shock, but not to put it too finely, it’s not the first time he’s had his neck snapped.”
“What?” He looked at her, eyes wide. “It’s true. I know. I was there. I did it the first time.” Reaching out, he nudged her shoulder slightly. “By the way, Jeremy told me how you got around to forgiving me for that. Thank you for that.”
Elena shook her head with a weak, sarcastic laugh. “Yeah, sure, you’re welcome.” The smile dropped, a sigh escaping her as she remembered that conversation. “He would’ve been dead or a vampire himself if you hadn’t…” She trailed off, and then shook her head again, with more force this time. “It doesn’t matter what you did, what happened before. What I did tonight–“
“Won’t happen again.”
She sat up sharply and turned to face him fully, tears shimmering at the corner of her eyes. “How can you be so sure? How do you know I’m not gonna lose it again?”
Damon was quiet for a moment, then he set his bag down and turned to face her. “Because you’re not going to do what you were doing. This whole starving yourself thing? You get how stupid that is now, right? It won’t work. You can’t live like that.”
Biting her lip gently, she couldn’t look at him. Her head dropping, she closed her eyes as the word he chose – ‘live’ – resonated in her mind. It was like a light bulb flickering on, the word sparking a revelation within her. Elena looked up at him and her voice was soft. “Maybe that’s the problem, Damon. Maybe I don't want to live.”
He let out a short bark of laughter. “Maybe? Elena, I figured that out five seconds after you offered yourself up for sacrifice... the first time. With Matt, that crash, you just finally got the opportunity to follow through.” He leaned in and lightly caressed her cheek. “Maybe it’s about time you start accepting that someone up there is just not ready for you.” Damon smiled, but she couldn’t return it. Turning her face away, his hand dropped and he sighed in the silence. “Elena, you do know that desiccation and dying? Not the same thing. You can starve yourself until time runs out and you still won’t die. You saw Katherine in the tomb after a handful of weeks. And Pearl, right? She was in there for almost 150 years. Still alive, just in complete agony. That was desiccation.”
“Not death.” She said quietly.
“Right, not death. But you knew that. So maybe, maybe you really don’t want to die, you just think you should want to. I never saw you take a walk out in the sun without your ring. That would do the trick.”
Elena shook her head. “I don’t know. I don’t— I didn't ask Stefan to save Matt... to save Matt. Yes, I wanted him to live, but...” She trailed off as tears began to slip more steadily down her cheeks. Finally, with a nod, she spoke, her voice barely audible. “I did, Damon, I did want to die.” Sobs began to shake her and she looked up at him, barely seeing him through her tears. “I wanted to die.” She felt, rather than saw, him pull her into his arms. She shook her head even as she buried it into his chest, her words muffled. “I was supposed to die with my parents. I was supposed to die with them that night in the creek.”
“No, no you weren't.” His voice was soft, soothing, as soothing as his hand drawing circles on her back with infinite tenderness. The ache of her cries began to dissipate, her tears slowly drying up as her thoughts, these words that she had held so tightly wrapped up inside of her began to spill out.
“Since then there's been so much pain, so much death. So many people dying.” Her eyes were wide staring blankly ahead.
“It's not your fault.” He sounded so sure, so confident.
Elena pulled away from his hold, but not out of the circle of his arms to look up at him. “But isn't it? If I had died, Bonnie would still be laughing at her Grams, the so-called witch. And she would still be alive. Bonnie wouldn’t have gone searching for her mom and she wouldn’t be a vampire.” She shook her head as more and more names and tragic circumstances kept flooding through her mind. “Caroline wouldn't be a vampire. Tyler probably would never have become a werewolf, and if I was gone, Klaus wouldn’t have come back to Mystic Falls, so he wouldn’t be a vampire either.” The tears that had run dry began to fall again as a cry escaped her. “And Jenna. Jenna would be alive.” Her eyes shut tight in pain. “Ric would be alive. They would be alive.”
He pulled her back into his arms, holding tightly. “Sssh, ssh,” he whispered but the names just kept coming.
“Chad and Dana and Tyler's dad, and Caroline's dad. John," she managed on a harsh, ragged breath before the steady stream continued. "Everyone, everyone that Stefan killed when he was with Klaus. Andie Starr, and that girl, I don’t remember her name, the girl that Katherine killed at the party. God, Damon, I don't even remember her name. So many people died. All of these people, Damon! All of these people are dead because of me!”
He pulled free from embracing her and moved to grip her arms lightly. He lowered his chin, capturing her gaze with the intensity in his own. “No.” His voice was quiet, but firm.
She shook her head. “Yes, they are.”
Damon looked away for a moment. Elena could read exasperated anger on his face, but when he looked back at her, he’d tamped it down and instead there was just conviction there. Conviction and love.
“No, they are not. They are dead because of me. Because of Stefan. Because of Klaus. And Katherine. Doing bad things. Giving into our vampiric nature. None of those deaths are on you. It happened. It sucked. But I never killed anyone because of you. Stefan didn't, Klaus didn't. Even Katherine didn't.”
Her voice was small. “Jenna.” Silent tears began to fall as she remembered her aunt in that clearing, flames dancing around them both, her eyes wide in fear. “Jenna died because of me.”
Damon was quiet. Finally he let out a soft sigh. “Would it make you feel better to own one of those deaths? Put it on you?”
Elena shrugged lightly, thinking, wondering if the guilt would ease just the bit if she could take on that burden. If it was possible that anything could. “No, I don't know.” She looked down, and then back up at him. “Maybe?”
Nodding, Damon squeezed her arms gently. “Fine, you and Stefan shouldn't have left Jenna alone. Not with everything going down.” Her eyes widened, an inaudible cry escaping her because he was right. Whatever she was going through, dealing with her impending fate, she never should have left Jenna alone.
As that guilt began to build anew, Damon shook her lightly and brought her focus back to him, his words cutting off the emotions threatening to swamp her. “But I shouldn't have forced my blood on you. And Jenna shouldn't have forgotten everything she'd been told in the last day.” Elena shook her head, looking down. She wanted to deny him; she did not want to blame Jenna. As if reading her thoughts, he continued. “I’m not blaming Jenna. But I’m not blaming you either. Elena, people screwed up. It happens. If anyone is to blame for what happened to Jenna, it’s Klaus, and by extension, Katherine.”
He lifted one arm and laid a finger under her chin, forcing her to meet his gaze. “Not one single person who died has died because you wanted it, you caused it, you were responsible.”
“They’re still dead.”
He nodded, his eyes still locked on hers. “Yeah, they're still dead. But you're not. And just about every person you named would give up their life to keep you around. You don't repay them by trying to die. You live, Elena. You live.”
She swallowed and found herself nodding without conscious thought. He pulled his hand back and turned his wrist to her, the veins catching in the light. “Vampire blood may be what you need. It could do the trick. No humans or animals will be hurt in the healthy production of this vampire.”
A small laugh escaped her. It wasn’t much, but it was something and it was real… and it didn’t hurt.
“I’m just afraid,” she nearly whispered.
“I’ll feel too much. That I can’t handle it. I’ll go too far. That’s what happened, just a few hours after I turned, we were fighting and then we were… *not* fighting.” She bit her lip gingerly and then took a deep breath. “I don’t know how to deal.”
He shook his head even before she finished speaking. “You were starving. You needed blood, you were out of control, on emotional overload. Hunger was taking over everything, *has* been taking over everything and that hunger has pushed every emotion to sky-high levels. A seasoned vampire would have difficulty keeping control and you're a newborn. Hell, you’ve seen what Stefan’s like when he goes awhile without the good stuff. He’s off his rocker.” Shrugging, he released her and laid back against the headboard. “He rips people’s heads off, you have hot, forbidden sex.” He smirked. “It takes all types.”
She couldn’t help it. She blushed, memories of that hot, forbidden sex flashing through her mind. The darkening of the blue in his eyes made her think that he was going there too. Sitting up straight, she cleared her throat. “Damon…” there was a warning note in her voice, and she went suddenly still, recognizing that chiding note, one of exasperation and so different from the desperate pleas she’d been leveling at him since her turn.
Whether he caught the significance or not, he sat up, reassurance in his tone. “The thing is you’re not hungry anymore so you won’t be on that emotional overload. You'll be in control and you won't feel driven to do *things* anymore without pulling back. Things like, oh, the burning desire to have sex with me every time we’re in the same room.” He smirked and she fought a grin. “Consider tonight.”
She shook her head. “What do you mean?”
“We’ve been lying in this bed for almost an hour and you haven’t tried to jump me once.” This time she couldn’t stop the grin from forming. Damon smiled in return. “Look, we’ll figure out some way of you getting your daily dose of needed vamp-blood. It’s not like you don’t have plenty to choose from.” His smile dimmed. “Including your boyfriend. You should talk to him about… all of this. Spill your guts to him, not me. Maybe it will ease the tension. For now.”
Elena nodded. She paused, about to tell him that she had decided to end things with Stefan, but she stopped herself. It wasn’t fair to Stefan to tell his brother before she broke the news to him. And she didn’t want Damon to get the idea that just because she was ending things with Stefan, she was going to jump into a relationship with him. She needed time and space for herself now even if a future with Damon was almost definitely in her horizon.
Right now, though, she wasn’t ready, but she didn’t have the heart to see his hopes raised in even the short space of time between telling him that she was breaking up with Stefan, but not heading into something with him right away. So she remained quiet on the details. “You’re right. I need to talk to Stefan.” Elena sighed at the flash of disappointment on Damon’s face. I’ll tell him tomorrow, she promised herself, but first she owed it to Stefan, to what they had, to let him know that there was no future for them.
The Grill was fairly quiet and that was just how Matt normally liked it. However, the gorgeous blonde vampire, centuries old, casually leaning against the bar while she buffed her nails made things less than normal. Bustling customers adding lots of noise and chaos would make it a lot easier to ignore her. Swiping his rag against the bar top, he glanced over at her. “Don't you have anything better to do?”
Rebekah paused mid-buff, pursing her lips and then threw a bright smile his way. “Really, I don’t.” Matt sent a hard look her way. She raised a brow. “Well, it's not like I can just call up a girlfriend...” He rolled his eyes and took another vicious swipe at the now-gleaming surface. I could just walk away, he thought, not quite sure why he was still standing right there, next to her. With that realization in mind, he made the decision to just walk away.
“I did get a computer.” She suddenly announced proudly.
Matt stayed put, confusion sweeping his expression. “You didn't have one?”
She shrugged. “Well, they weren't exactly around in the 20’s.” Giving her nails a once-over, she slipped her file into the back pocket of her impossibly tight jeans. Yeah, he’d noticed. He hated himself for it, but he had definitely noticed. Forcing his gaze back up to her face and those impossibly big, blue eyes, he met her sunny smile and forced his attention back to the conversation at hand.
“Yeah, but you've been up and about for a few months now.”
“And I've been busy.”
“Yeah, I’ve seen your kind of busy,” he scoffed, finally about to turn around when something occurred to him. “Wait, what about school?"
“What about it?”
“How did you do homework if you didn't have a computer?”
She laughed, a sweet tinkling that seriously sounded like bells. He groaned inwardly. How could someone who looked and sounded and… His thoughts froze as she leaned in slightly and he breathed in a whiff of her perfume, *smelled* so perfect be so… not?
“Homework? Oh, Matt. You’re so silly.” She gave his cheek an affectionate pat and he found himself leaning into her touch. He held himself still, really hoping she hadn’t noticed. The glint that suddenly lit her eyes made him think otherwise. He tightened his lips. Rebekah pulled away, leaning back against the bar once more, her pale blue top stretching taut across— Matt jerked his eyes up, but she was looking upward with a roll of hers, still smiling.
“I didn't do any homework. I only attended history a few times.” Her tone took on a musing note as she added, “mostly just to get under Elena's skin.” It was his turn to roll his eyes, but he wasn’t smiling. “What? Should I lie to you?” She asked.
Matt took a deep breath but let it go, because, yeah, at least she didn’t lie to him. “I don’t get it though, you were at school. You were on committees!” He suddenly wondered if he was so interested in her explanation because he was genuinely curious or if it was just an excuse to keep talking to her. The fact that he was even questioning it gave him his answer, but that wasn’t something he was about to admit.
Rebekah sighed, waving a hand casually in the air. “Oh, I just compelled teachers, administrators and what-not. I told them I was there every day and handing in grade-A work.” She beamed at him.
“Huh,” he muttered, thinking how nice that would be and wondered if he could talk Caroline or Elena into– What am I thinking? Stop, Donovan. Hang out with the morally deficient long enough and you lose all sense of right and wrong. Man. He shook his head and fixed his gaze on her, going back to the start of the conversation. “So you got a computer?”
“Yup, and the...,” she paused with a frown, snapping her fingers a bit before continuing with another smile. “The tech guy who set it up said that when I got the cable for my television– oh and I love that.” She interrupted herself with a grin. “I like the funny shows.”
“Sitcoms?” She gave him a blank look. “You know, Big Bang Theory, Parks and Rec…”
“Oh, yes, those.”
He nodded. “Yeah, they're called sitcoms.”
“Oh.” Rebekah looked confused for a moment, then shrugged it off. “Well, they make me laugh.”
“That's kinda the point,” Matt offered dryly.
She looked at him with annoyance, and then shrugged that off as well. “As I was saying, when the tech guy hooked up my computer he said that my cable package included the internet.”
His mouth falling open in disbelief, Matt looked at her incredulously. “You've never been on the internet?”
Shaking her head, she grinned. “Nope, not before this last week. It's wonderful!” And there she went beaming all over the place again. “Ooh,” she reached out and tapped his arm a few times in excitement. “Have you been on the youtube?”
Matt laughed. “Uh, yeah, everyone has.”
She looked mildly disappointed as if she had wanted to share something new and exciting with him. Seeing her pleasure fade, he wished for a split-second that he had lied and told her that he hadn’t. Grimacing at the thought, he scolded himself. This is Rebekah, Matt! Rebekah! The one who drove your truck into Willow Creek with you and *Elena* in it. He shook his head and clenched the rag tightly. That was it, he was walking away.
But she was still talking.
“Did you see the one with the cat playing the keyboard?” She was smiling again, looking so damn happy as she stood there and actually mimicked the cat playing the keyboard. It didn’t matter how many times he reminded himself of who she was and what she had done, she was charming the hell out of him all over again. Despite himself, he smiled at her, at her happiness.
“Oh, oh, and the dramatic chipmunk!” He grinned when she turned around and acted that one out too. Laughing, Rebekah clapped delightedly. “It’s so much fun,” and then her eyes narrowed, her smile fading. “But people are so rude. They leave these comments and they're just nasty. NO decorum at all.”
Matt shrugged. “Yeah, well, that's the internet.” He paused and gave yet one more half-hearted swipe at the bar top. “So that's what you do all day?”
“Yes, I'm watching the youtube and the... sitcoms.” She shrugged. “It passes the time.” She sent a sly look his way. “When I'm not courting your favor.” A smile danced on those full, pouty lips and he stood there unmoving, caught up in that beautiful smile.
He jerked up as Bonnie's voice trailed off. Taking a step back, he met her questioning gaze. “Hey, Bonnie.” He cleared his throat, feeling guilty at getting caught… not hating Rebekah.
He heard the Original sigh heavily beside him and found his gaze returning to her. “I suppose that’s my cue to leave,” Rebekah muttered. She flashed him another quick smile, then turned away with a flip of her golden hair as she walked past Bonnie.
Once Rebekah was out of view, he looked to find Bonnie staring at him, her eyes wide and brows raised. She didn’t say a word, but he could read her every thought in the look on her face. “I know!” He offered up in weak defense.
“Hello! She's the reason Elena's what she is,” she exclaimed.
“I know,” he repeated. “OK, I know. It's just… she was protecting her family. Who's to say that none of us wouldn't go to the same extremes to protect the people we love?” Yeah, he was defending Rebekah. She is so getting to me, he admitted to himself with an inner sigh.
Bonnie was quiet for a long moment and then she shrugged. “Yeah, I get that, I guess. But, still, that's not exactly her only bad.”
“True,” he conceded, “but, hey, as long as I give her the time of day she isn't trying to kill Elena.” He tried a winning smile.
Bonnie frowned in response. “Yeah, just keep telling yourself that.”
“Well, it’s true.”
Her lips quirked up slightly. “The only reason?”
Sighing, Matt ran a hand over his face, groaning. “I know I shouldn't like her, I get that. It's just that I forget I'm not supposed to sometimes.” He laughed. “What can I say? She's this really hot, crazy mix of a teenager and someone...” He trailed off, not quite sure how to put her charms into words.
She had no problem completing his sentence. “Who’s really, really, really old?”
“Yeah. There’s so much she knows, and… so little at the same time.” He leaned against the bar, shook his head slightly. “Bonnie, she... she takes my mind off of my crappy life.” He straightened up. “And she got me a car!”
She rolled her eyes, “Oh well, then.”
He lowered his voice, going for the maximum effect. “A Maserati, even.”
Her eyes widened, Bonnie looked appropriately impressed. “No, she did not.”
“She did.” He grinned, unable to control it as the memory of that beautiful black beast filled his mind. Then his grin died. “I didn’t accept it. Well, I mean, I did, but then I returned it the next day.” The words were as painful to say as was the memory of doing so.
“Good call,” she offered sympathetically. “That'd probably get some attention.” Bonnie smiled, and lightly punched his arm. “People would wonder who your sugar mama was.”
“Bonnie!” She laughed, and he just shook his head with a smile. “She gave me a truck instead.”
Her eyes narrowed. “That truck I saw you driving to school yesterday?”
She nodded. “Keeping that one?”
Grinning, Matt ducked his head and looked up at her through his lashes. “Yup.” He straightened, throwing his hands up. “Hey, she's the reason my last one is at the bottom of Willow Creek. It's only fair.”
Shrugging, Bonnie took a moment to consider, then, “true.” She smiled, and then laughed. “My God, the lives we lead, Matt.”
He laughed himself. “Yeah.”
They were both quiet for a moment. Matt looked around, and then back down at Bonnie. “So, what brings you here? Meeting Elena and Caroline?”
She shook her head. “Uhm, no, Damon actually.”
“Salvatore?” He was surprised. As far as he knew, Bonnie hated him as much as Caroline did.
“Do you know another Damon?” She asked drily and he had to laugh again.
“True enough, but why?”
Shrugging, she turned and looked behind her before returning her attention back to him. “I dunno. He texted, said we needed to talk.”
“He's another one, isn’t he? We should hate him. I mean, Caroline does. Don’t you?”
“I used to, but who am I to judge?” She sighed, laughing without a trace of humor. “No, I don’t. Not anymore. Most of the awful stuff he does these days, it’s the lesser of evils. He’s the one stuck making all the tough choices. I mean, he still can be a total jerk, but he's not the worst thing ever. ”
Matt nodded. “Yeah, but try telling that that to Caroline.”
“Hah,” Bonnie responded. “Who treats Klaus like a wounded soul.”
“And Stefan like the second coming.” Matt added.
“Yeah.” She shook her head. “Don't get me wrong, Damon was terrible to Caroline and I get why she hates him. He's not my favorite person, but he's changed. He’s not the same guy he was when he first showed up. Only a blind person wouldn’t see that. Frankly, if it wasn't for him, we'd probably all be dead by now. Say what you will about him, but Damon gets stuff done.”
“That I do.”
Matt looked over Bonnie’s slight form, taking in the arrival of the older Salvatore brother. As he got closer, his eyes narrowed as he sized Matt up and down. “Donovan, still alive. Elena? One of the undead.”
“Blame your brother for that,” Matt spit back at him.
A cold smile curved Damon’s lips. “Oh, I do.” Then he shrugged. “I’m getting over it. At least Elena had my blood in her system. Thank God for concussions and the good Dr. Fell, huh?” That bitter smile returned in a flash before fading away as he turned his attention towards Bonnie, effectively ignoring Matt. “Speaking of concussions, did you hit your head since we last spoke?”
Bonnie’s eyes narrowed in confusion. She sent a quick look Matt’s way before returning her gaze to Damon as she shook her head. “What are you talking about?”
Stepping over, Damon hopped up on a barstool and leaned back slightly. “I seem to recall the two of us in agreement that keeping Klaus in wolf-boy’s body was the plan. After all, Tyler’s weak comparatively and that gives us the upper hand over Klaus as long as he’s trapped in there.” Damon’s lips twisted in a bitter smile as he pinned Bonnie with a hard gaze. “Then I find out that you reached into your bag of magic spells and plopped a vengeful, psychotic millennium-old hybrid back into his practically indestructible, incredibly powerful body. So, concussion?”
Bonnie let out a frustrated sigh, looking away for a moment, but Matt couldn’t help but be surprised that Damon had bothered even coming to an agreement of any kind with Bonnie at all. Even more was the fact that although he wasn’t too happy, Damon also didn’t seem that pissed off. He showed up, coming to Bonnie to get the information instead of going off the deep end without getting all the facts.
“I couldn’t do that to Tyler, or Caroline.” Bonnie finally said. She looked at Damon, defiance in her gaze.
Damon was silent for a moment, and then he rolled his eyes. “I was hoping you were cooking up some dastardly plan, maybe put a pox on Klaus’ body when it was… uninhabited. But nope, just feelings.” He clicked his tongue. “Nothing more than feelings.”
“What if it had been Stefan? Would you have wanted me to keep Klaus in his body?”
“No,” Damon scoffed. “But he’s still my brother. Tyler, on the other hand?” He rose to his feet with a sigh. “Whatever. What’s done is done.” He gave Bonnie a look. “I don’t suppose you put any kind of witchy juju on him that would help us out at least?”
“I–“ she broke off with a shake of her head. “I didn’t even think of doing anything like that.”
“Of course you didn’t,” Damon muttered under his breath. “Well, next time you’re making a big move, give me a call, I can do the Machiavellian thinking for both of us.”
He turned to Matt, who was still watching them, genuinely surprised at how… cool Damon was being about the whole thing.
“You?” Damon pointed at him, and Matt straightened up.
He glanced down at his watch, and then shrugged. “I don’t care what time it is. Get me a Scotch on the rocks.” Damon sat back down on the stool and swiveled to face the bar.
Matt turned to Bonnie, his mouth working wordlessly. Finally he looked back to Damon. “I don’t do the bar. I’m underage.”
“Lord spare me the ridiculous laws of the 21st century.” He gripped the edge of the bar top and let out a long-suffering sigh. “Then go get me someone who can. I’m hoping to achieve at least a mild buzz sometime before you *are* legal.”
“Right. I’ll get the manager.” Matt gave Bonnie a look. “You staying?”
She shook her head. “Nah, I’m heading over to see Jeremy.” She raised a hand in farewell. “Bye.”
Matt gave her a smile. “See you later.”
“And I would like to see my drink now.” Damon broke in with a sarcastic smile.
“Later, Matt.” She paused. “Damon… later.”
He raised a hand in acknowledgment. “Sabrina.”
She left, and Matt looked at Damon. “Why do you call her that?”
He was quiet, and then slowly swiveled the stool to face Matt. There was a smile, practically friendly, on his face. “Do you want me to rip your heart out or do you wanna get me a drink? The choice is yours, Donovan.”
“Drink, definitely getting the drink. I’ve already nearly died a few times this year.”
“And yet you’re still here. Bravo.” Damon looked at Matt, and his eyes were narrowed, not with annoyance, but rather in observation. When he spoke, the sarcastic bent was gone, he was all seriousness. “I know it wasn’t your choice, Donovan, but do something with your life. Make Elena’s stupid sacrifice worthwhile.”
Matt went still, taking in Damon’s words. Then he nodded. “I’ll do my best.”
“Good.” He looked away. “Now go get my drink before I threaten to remove another body part.”
Elena paced back and forth, anxiously rubbing her hands together. She looked towards the entrance of the foyer as if that could make his arrival come any sooner. And just at that moment it did. As the front door opened, Elena let out an unsteady sigh and stilled. Stefan walked in the room, a welcome smile on his face.
“Hey. You called?” He questioned as he moved forward and reached for her hands. She let him take them and her lashes drifted shut when he pressed a sweet kiss to her cheek. As he pulled away, she met his gaze, and her anxiety must have been obvious because his smile dropped away. “What’s wrong?”
“I need to talk to you. About… everything.”
“OK,” he said quietly, confusion in the two syllables.
“I mean, everything, not just the parts we want to talk about.” She nodded firmly and pulled her hands free. Walking over, she sat down on the couch. “Do you want to sit?”
“No, I’ll stand for now. What’s going on?” The unease that she was feeling appeared to radiate from him as well now.
“I snapped Jeremy’s neck.”
His mouth fell open. She squeezed her eyes shut, not quite able to believe that had popped out. “I’m sorry. That was blunt. But, yeah I did.”
“Is he...?” Stefan’s voice was low, his eyes wide in shock.
“He’s fine. He was wearing the ring. Damon had told him to wear the ring just in case.”
“Just in case,” Stefan repeated in a whisper.
“Just in case I lost control. And I did.”
“I didn’t know that Jeremy listened to Damon.” He managed as he finally did walk over and sit down.
“Well, they’ve been spending time together. Something about Ric.” Stefan nodded, eyes still searching the room in surprise. “Anyway, I did it, and I called Damon and he—“
“You called Damon? Why? Why didn’t you call me?”
And this was it. This was where the words she was going to say were going to start hurting him. But it had to be done. “Because I trust him. Because I know he’ll do what needs to be done. Because he understands.”
“And I don’t?” His voice was incredulous, and that was yet something else showing that he had no idea what she’d been going through.
“No, Stefan, you don’t. I’ve been completely falling apart and you’ve been slapping a happy face on it because you can’t deal with the fact that I’m not sweet, human Elena anymore.”
“That’s not true—“
“It is,” she insisted, and then held up a hand. “But that’s not what this is about.”
He ran a hand through his hair, but it remained perfectly coiffed. Confusion battled with the vaguest signs of resignation.
“I snapped Jeremy’s neck, I called Damon. He handled everything, took care of Jeremy. I don’t know what he said to him, but when we left, he – that is, Jeremy – was OK. Considering.” Elena let out a long breath, fidgeting in her seat slightly. “Then we came here, me and Damon, and he figured out that if I wouldn’t drink human blood, and if animal blood didn’t taste right, there was one other option.”
“One other—what are you talking about?”
“Vampire blood. He fed me his blood.”
Stefan shot up, his eyes wide, betrayal darkening the green. “You drank Damon’s blood?!”
“Why didn’t you call me?” He burst out, going back to that. “I—you could have told me? We could have…” He trailed off. Stefan looked at her, his gaze searching. “What’s going on, Elena? You’re right, you’re not the person I fell in love with. You’re keeping things from me, you’re avoiding me. Every time I turn around, you’re with Damon, or talking to Damon, or doing, saying things… how could you be so far gone that you would kill Jeremy and I didn’t know?” He threw his arms out, his voice rising. “How could you not let me in?!”
“I don’t know.” She shook her head, a tear slipping down her cheek.
“You don’t know? You know. You know, Elena.”
“Because I stopped doing it.”
“What does that even mean?” He cried.
“I stopped doing it because you were gone and everything was falling apart all over again and you were gone. You left. You chose— you left, Stefan. And Damon was here. And I could turn to him. He was here for me. And I got used to it. I got used to him always being here for me. No lies, no half-truths, he didn’t spare me because he was afraid I wouldn’t like what he had to say—“
“And I do?”
“Yes!” She burst out with. “All the time. You only tell me what you want me to know. You paint situations better or worse than they are depending on how it makes you look.”
“How can you even say that?” He turned away, practically talking to himself. He laughed harshly. “This is Damon. This is all Damon’s doing. It’s his influence.”
“No, it’s not. It’s— it’s who I am. Now. I’m not the girl you met. I’ve changed.” She took a deep breath, and even though she was aching to see the pain he was in, she knew that she had to tell him everything. She had to be honest; they needed this honesty finally.
“I had sex with Damon.” She squeezed her eyes shut, honest or not, she wasn’t quite able to believe she had stated that so baldly. He turned to look at her, and if she’d thought she’d seen betrayal in his gaze earlier, that was nothing compared to the devastation there now. “I’m sorry,” she choked out. Rising to her feet, she held out her hands, clutching at the air. “I tried to tell you before, but euphemisms weren’t cutting it and I just let it go, and I didn’t tell you. So, I’m telling you. I’m telling you now.”
He looked at her, his lips parting, but no words came out. Blinking rapidly, he walked over and sat down again, heaviness in his every moment. They were both quiet for a long while, and then finally he looked up at her, his voice soft. “That’s why you wouldn’t… why you won’t sleep with me?”
Elena looked away, wiping at her wet cheeks. Finally she gave a partial nod. “That’s part of it. But it’s not— I know you don’t want to hear this, but it’s not about Damon. It’s not about the two of us, I mean, me and Damon. It’s about you and me. Mostly. It’s what I’m trying tell you, Stefan.” She moved closer to him, and knelt down in front of him.
He closed his eyes.
Biting her lip, she took another deep breath, continuing. “Everything between us, it’s so… different now. It doesn’t feel comfortable or right.”
Looking upward, she could see the wet rim of his eyes and her heart shuddered a little at the sight. “Stefan,” she whispered his name softly.
He nodded. “I get it. No, it’s OK, I understand.” He managed to look down at her and even forced the ghost of a smile on his lips. “Being a vampire, it changes you. It makes you do awful things. When you first transition, you’re not in control. It takes time to figure it out, find yourself again.” He edged to the side, away from her and stood up, running his hand through his hair again. Talking to himself, he continued quietly. “You never would have been with him before you turned.”
Elena was still, disbelief running through her. She couldn’t believe he was doing this, just compartmentalizing her actions, blaming her vampirism and not dealing with it. It’s not about me being a vampire. This is about us, damnit! She surged to her feet. “No, why can’t you be honest? You’re doing it again. You’re pretending it’s OK, putting some sort of band-aid on things so that we don’t have to see them or deal with them—“
“I’m not. I’m trying to understand.”
“But you’re not being honest with me, Stefan. God, get mad. I slept with your brother!” A flash of anger crossed his face, but it was quickly subdued. She sighed heavily. “Stefan, I know that you hate that I have feelings for Damon. I heard you and Caroline talking about it. I am trying to be honest with you. Can you please try and be honest with me?”
He shook his head, surprise lighting his features. “I am. I just—it doesn’t matter, Elena. I told you, when you’re a vampire you can’t control things. In the long run, we’ll figure it out and it won’t matter and Damon doesn’t matt—“
“Yes, he does!” She interrupted fiercely. “Stefan, this had been going on before I turned. When Damon and I were in Denver—“
It was his turn to interrupt her, shock practically turning his face white. “You had sex with Damon in Denver? That’s when..?” His voice was hoarse.
For a moment, she was ready to just deny it and let it go, but she realized as she looked at him, getting what he was listening to and what he was discarding, she knew that she couldn’t. “No. I didn’t have sex with Damon then.”
Relief flashed over his face and it was exactly as she thought. He didn’t get it; he didn’t get what she was trying to tell him. “No, I didn’t then, but…” she trailed off, waiting for him to look at her again, to get that there was more.
He looked up, concern filling his eyes. “But?”
“I might have, maybe if Jeremy hadn’t interrupted us. I wanted to. I wanted him. I tried to tell you that, I mean, that things happened between me and Damon, but you didn’t want to hear it—“
“No, no I didn’t then, and I don’t want to now!” He shouted. Turning around suddenly, he reached over and shoved a bunch of books off the desk. “God, this is so Damon, screwing with me by screwing with your head. He always does this. He moves in and worms his way into my life trying to make me miserable. He never changes. Everything he does—and you? You just forgive him. Why? Why!?” He asked without giving her a chance to answer. “He’s done so many horrible things and he just gets away with it, every single time.”
“Stefan?” Her voice was high in disbelief.
“What?” He barked out, turning to look at her.
“How can you say that? After all you've done?”
Surprise flew across his face. “What I've done?"
Elena shook her head. “Stefan, I let it slide because... because we were never going to last, but you did things. You lied to me, you practically stalked me for months.”
“You did, and you lied to me about Katherine. First about who she was to you, and then that I looked just like her. And this whole ripper thing, Stefan, you downplayed it to such a crazy degree when I saw what being a ripper really was? It nearly tore me apart. I had *no* idea. Despite all you had told me about how terrible you were because you really didn’t. You didn’t tell me at all.”
“I didn’t want to scare you.”
“No, Stefan, you didn’t want me to think badly of you. You didn’t want me to know the truth.” She stopped and took forced herself to take a breath, calm down. She looked at him, ready to continue. “But I let it all slide. I let it slide when you kidnapped me and forced your blood down my throat. I let it slide when you threatened to kill me on the bridge where my parents died. I let it go, Stefan.” Tears were once more falling and she couldn’t stop their steady flow as the words kept pouring out of her.
“Why? Because I love you. I do love you, Stefan. I—everything you are to me, everything you’ve done for me, I will always love you. You were my anchor, and you brought me back to life after my parents died.” Elena paused and took another deep breath. “But, Stefan, I always knew it wasn't forever. Just like you did. Remember the career fair, everything you did to make me realize you would be moving on? I never forgot that. I just chose to be with you for as long as we had.
“I wanted to appreciate the good and not dwell on the bad, but now...” She reached up and wiped at the tears, damning their fall. “Now, Stefan, there is forever and I can't ignore it.”
He leaned heavily against the desk, devastation writ upon his face. She hated to see the pain there, but she could see that she was finally getting through to him. Squaring her shoulders, Elena looked at him, knowing she wasn’t through hurting him.
“Just like I can't ignore what I feel for Damon.”
His eyes drifted close, a tear slipping out. “Always Damon,” he said, and there was resignation in his voice. “It always comes back to Damon.”
Elena shook her head. “No, Stefan, this is coming back to me, what I want, what I feel and what I have to figure out because…” She smiled sadly. “I have an eternity now. I have the time to figure it out. So I'm going to take it.”
His eyes remained close, his voice strained. “What does that mean?”
“I think it’s time we… I’m breaking up with you.”
Without missing a beat, he laughed harshly. “To be with Damon?”
She shook her head before she spoke. “No, to figure myself out, figure out what I want. This, what we've been doing isn't working.” She stepped closer to him, daring to reach out and touch his arm. He looked at her, his face striving for blankness. “Stefan, we're pretending, just pretending and it's not working.”
Her head tilted to the side, her eyes pleading with him to understand. “You hate that I'm a vampire, and I can’t let all the things you did slide. Not anymore.” He turned his head away, but she reached up and rested a hand on his cheek bringing his gaze back to her. “If we ever want a true chance to be together, we have to come to terms with who we are.” She took a deep breath. “And I have to figure out what I feel for Damon.”
She dropped her hand, but he didn’t look away. “Or is that what you want? Us together, but with the question of Damon always there between us? Because that's what's happening now, and I don't like it. I don't want it. It's not making any of us happy. Not me, not you and not Damon.”
He grimaced, but remained silent. “Stefan, be honest, you know this isn't working?”
She was quiet now, waiting for him to respond. She needed him to understand. After a long pause, he finally nodded. Sighing heavily, he sat down on the desk. She moved a few steps back.
“So that's it? We're over?” His eyes were red, and tears tracked on his face.
Biting her lip, she looked away, but then forced herself to meet his gaze. She nodded. “For now, Stefan. Yeah, we're over.” Elena waited a beat, waited for him to say something else. He just sat there, and then his head bowed.
Uncomfortable silence filled the room. Elena almost took a step towards him, almost reached out once more to touch him, hug him, maybe even give him one last kiss. Instead she closed her eyes for a moment and then slowly turned and walked out.
TO BE CONTINUED