Chapter: 17 – Turning Corners [Featured Characters: Elena, Bonnie, Jeremy, Caroline, Klaus, Tyler, Damon and Meredith]
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: 4,983
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).
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17: Turning Corners
“Wait, so Elena and Damon were having… sex?” Bonnie’s eyes were wide with a mixture of shock and a feeling that could only be described as eww!
“It’s not like I saw them or anything cuz I’d still be traumatized,” Jeremy muttered. “But, yeah, something so not PG was going on.”
Bonnie gave a quick shake of head, still reeling and a little surprised that seeing his sister having sex was more traumatizing to him than his sister killing him. Typical Jeremy. She shrugged. I guess that must come from dying every other week. Sighing, she gave him a grim smile.
“OK, so maybe sex, and then he left and you and Elena got into this big fight and she…” she trailed off, still not quite able to wrap her brain around what Jeremy had told her. Taking a deep breath, she tried again. “She…” but Bonnie couldn’t finish. Oh my God! Seriously, oh my God!
“Yeah,” Jeremy finally filled in for her. “My sister snapped my neck.”
Looking around the room, Bonnie’s eyes fell on a picture of Elena, Jeremy and Jenna from sometime before the Salvatores arrived in Mystic Falls, but after their parents’ death. Despite the sorrow that clouded their eyes, the siblings were standing close with their arms around each other. And now barely a year later, Elena was snapping Jeremy’s neck.
“Oh my God,” she said aloud this time and met Jeremy’s totally at peace gaze. “And you’re OK with it because Damon fake-compelled you?”
He shrugged. “Yeah, uhm, I guess.”
“How?” She asked incredulously.
Leaning back, he stretched his arms out and actually smiled. “It’s like once I realized that I’d sucked it up and put Elena first,” he interrupted himself, his voice rising. ”Everything she’s going through is crazy!” Bonnie nodded half-heartedly, just not blasé about what happened like Jeremy appeared to be.
And blasé is sure enough how he's acting, she thought as he smiled *again* before he continued. “Bonnie, I got through it without freaking out and without being compelled. And so it's OK because I can handle it. I'm pretty tough," he told her, a touch of pride in his voice. Shaking his head, he reached out and laid a quick hand on her leg. It was a measure of how shocking this all was that Bonnie barely reacted to his touch, so focused was she on his words.
"I mean come on, Elena is not herself right now. We all know that." He scoffed. "Except for Stefan, of course." Rolling his eyes, his smile faded, but his expression remained unruffled. "Still, the rest of us know." He continued. "That *is* why Damon wanted me to wear the ring. I don’t blame her, Bonnie, I blame the situation. But I trust that Damon’s gonna do right by her. He called a little bit ago and said he thinks that she’s gonna be OK.”
“How?” She repeated, shaking her head skeptically.
“I dunno, something about a new diet that looks like it’s gonna work.”
“And you trust Damon?” She prodded.
“When it comes to doing what’s best for Elena?” He nodded. “Yeah, I do.”
Bonnie was quiet, mulling over the surety in his voice, the confidence in his reply when the front door opened. She and Jeremy both quickly rose to their feet.
It was Elena.
“Hey,” she said softly, guilt written all over her face. Bonnie looked over at Jeremy, trying to gauge his reaction. He was fine. Totally relaxed, and his smile was natural and welcoming.
“Hey, Elena,” he stepped forward and then suddenly stopped, his eyes narrowing, but his smile remained. “Can I hug you or will you freak out?”
“Oh Jeremy,” Elena cried, and she flew to him, wrapping her arms around his neck. “I love you. I love you so much,” Bonnie heard her whisper.
“I love you too, sis.” He pulled back after a few moments and looked at her. “Damon called, said you might be good?”
Elena nodded. “Yeah, we, uhm…” she trailed off with a light laugh. “I was starving and because I was so hungry, that’s why I was so out of control. You guys remember Mikael?”
Jeremy looked blank, but Bonnie did. “Yeah, that’s Klaus and Rebekah's... the Originals' father. Right?”
"Right. Well, he drank vampire blood and it worked for him. So Damon gave me his blood, and I drank a lot. And it was so good, you have no idea,” she practically moaned.
Bonnie’s eyes widened. “And you think it's gonna work for you?”
“I don’t know, but I’m not hungry for the first time since I turned, and I feel… I feel like me. I'm not crawling out of my skin. I don't feel like I’m gonna explode.” She shrugged, a smile of genuine happiness brightening her face. “Yeah, I feel like me.”
Reaching out, Jeremy pulled her into another hug, and since the siblings had already shared one, Bonnie didn’t hesitate to join the two this time. After a few moments, Jeremy laughed, and began pulling away. Bonnie gave Elena one more quick squeeze and then stepped back herself. She wiped at sudden tears, and then laughing herself, reached out and swiped at the moisture on Elena’s cheeks. Letting out a sigh of relief, she took in her best friend, so happy to see peace radiating from her.
“You look like you,” Bonnie finally said. “You also look like a huge weight has been lifted.” Surprisingly then, Elena’s smile dimmed. Bonnie reached out, holding her shoulders. “No, no, what’s wrong? That’s good.”
Offering up a bittersweet smile, Elena nodded. “It is, it’s just…” she trailed off and pulled away. Walking over, she slumped down on the couch and looked up at Bonnie and Jeremy. “I didn’t just drink my fill.” Biting her lip, Elena looked down and released a heavy sigh. Looking up, she kept the two of them in her gaze. “I broke up with Stefan too.”
“Yes!” Jeremy exclaimed.
Bonnie shot him a look of exasperation and then looked to Elena who was wearing an identical expression on her face. Then it dropped with a slight smile. “I know you’re not exactly his biggest fan,” Elena said drily.
“Well, he let you die. I’m not gonna just get over that.”
“Jeremy…” Bonnie offered warningly.
“Just… stop. Not the time.” She pursed her lips and raised her brows, adding emphasis to her words.
“Fine,” he responded with a roll of his eyes. He flopped down next to Elena. “What happened? What made you finally come to your senses?”
“You.” Elena looked up at Bonnie.
Surprise filled her. “Me? What did I do?”
“Go, Bonnie,” Jeremy muttered sotto voce, earning another glare from both girls.
Elena held it for a beat before facing Bonnie. “Last night, you made me see that I wasn’t being fair to Stefan or Damon or myself. I shouldn’t be with Stefan if I…” She trailed off.
“Want to bone Damon every time you see him?”
“Jeremy!” Both girls cried out.
“What? I’m not blind. I know what I saw.”
Elena frowned, and then reluctantly nodded. “Yeah, that’s kinda part of it.” She looked to Bonnie. “And it's what you said. Sometimes you fall out of love and that’s just what happened with Stefan. So we broke up.”
“And what about Damon?” Bonnie asked as she moved to sit next to Elena.
“I don’t know,” she shrugged. “I mean, obviously, yes, I have feelings for him, but I have to focus on getting me back on track before anything happens there. I need to figure out this whole vampire thing… and that includes figuring out my blood supply since Stefan is out of the question and, well, it would make things weird with Damon.” She paused, a contemplative look flitting across her face. “I could check with Caroline.”
“Why would it be weird with Damon?” Jeremy asked, his face knit with confusion. “He’s the reason you’re OK.” He paused. “Right?”
“Yeah, yes, he is. But…” she trailed off, her eyes downcast suddenly, and a slight blush lit her face. Bonnie’s brows raised, a smirk forming. She looked over Elena at Jeremy.
“Jeremy, why don’t you go order a pizza?” Time for some girl talk.
“Now? We’re talking.”
Elena sent him a quick glance. "Yeah, pizza sounds good. I'm starving for actual food this time." Relief flitted across her face, no doubt at the change in conversation, Bonnie thought, her smirk stretching into a grin.
"OK, but first what are you talking about with Damon and the blood and stuff? Why is it weird?" Rolling her eyes, Bonnie's grin faded and she sighed at Jeremy's obliviousness when Elena once more looked down, the blush returning, even brighter now.
“Jeremy, please.” Bonnie said through gritted teeth.
He shook his head and then looked to Elena, starting to protest and then, Hallelujah!, he seemed to take in the discomfort in her body language. “Yeah, OK, you two… talk.” Standing up, he headed out, muttering under his voice in a high falsetto, “about Damon.”
Bonnie rolled her eyes, but was quiet until Jeremy left the room. “So, yeah, why is it weird with Damon?”
Turning to her, Elena hesitated then burst out. “You’re not gonna judge me, right? Not get mad at me because—“
“You like Damon?” She interrupted with a snort. “Elena, that ship sailed when you told me you kissed him, and then made out with him when you guys got Jeremy. Oh, and yeah, when you had sex with him.”
“OK, fine, fine.” Elena laughed, and buried her face in her hands. She was quiet for a few moments, before straightening and turning to meet Bonnie’s curious gaze. “When I fed from him, it—“ She broke off, biting her lip with a slight wince. Finally, her shoulder slumped and she spilled. “I was totally, unbelievably, oh my God, turned on.”
“Really?” Bonnie figured it was some weird vampire thing because drinking blood being a turn-on? Eww.
“Yes, it was so hot.” Elena exclaimed, oblivious to the taken aback look on Bonnie’s face. She waggled her brows. “And it was definitely the same for him.” She looked at Bonnie, and she frowned. “Is this really gross to you?”
“Kinda?” Bonnie admitted, and then she laughed. “But, hey, as long as you’re happy and not hurting anyone, then, go for it. I guess.” She closed her eyes and grimaced. “But, yeah, eww. It’s blood!”
“I’m a vampire!” Elena shot back with a grin. Then her eyes widened, and her grin faded as her jaw dropped. “Bonnie, I just said…” she trailed off as a smile spread across her face. “I just said that like… like it was OK. It’s OK that I’m a vampire.” She straightened up. “I am a vampire.” Grinning, she repeated it. “I am a vampire.” Elena laughed. “I think I’m gonna be OK, Bonnie.”
Bonnie was silent, fighting back tears. It had been so long since she'd seen happiness on her friend that she'd almost forgotten what it looked like there. Finally, she nodded. “Yeah. Yeah, I think you are.”
Falling back against the couch, Bonnie laughed and let the tears fall because they were happy ones. “Jeremy!” She shouted. “Did you order that pizza? You’ve got a witch and a vampire hungry for food in here!”
“No, no, it’s fine. Come by my house later, 7-ish? And we’ll do it again. Hey, I know where my mom hides the alcohol.” Caroline maneuvered her phone between her chin and shoulder as she finished up her conversation with Elena, and opened the door to the Grill. “We can give it another try. Maybe, it’ll get less weird.” She paused as Elena ran through a fresh litany of apologies. “Elena! It’s fine. I’ll see you later. Love you, bye!”
Shaking her head, she dropped her phone in her purse, her mind still going round in circles with the massive amount of stuff that Elena had unloaded on her yesterday. Killing Jeremy, breaking up with Stefan, feeding from Damon and the whole vampire-blood thing, it was… a lot. The only thing crazier than hearing all that Elena had been going through while keeping them mostly in the dark was Elena feeding from her. Talk about super-weird. And kinky.
Caroline entered the dark interior, hoping to see Matt, and pulled up short. Sitting at the bar, his gaze locked on her and a smile curving his lips, was Klaus. Just what I need, she thought with an inner sigh. Caroline straightened up and attempted to walk right past him, but he stood and was in front of her before she took a few steps.
“Now what could you and Elena have been doing that’s… weird?” He inquired as he moved to her left and began walking alongside her.
Tightening her lips, Caroline stared straight ahead, purposefully ignoring him.
“Caroline? You and Elena… I’m most curious.” That lilting quality to his voice was like music and she hated that every word he said sounded so good. “Caroline?” He tried again.
“I’m ignoring you,” she bit out without looking at him.
He was silent next to her and remained so as she moved to a booth table. Slipping in, she rolled her eyes in a huff when he slid in opposite her. “What part of ignoring you do you not get?”
“The part where you’re speaking to me and reacting to everything I do.”
“God,” she muttered. “I hate you.”
Klaus shrugged, and slowly began to ease out of the booth. “Alright, I suppose I could go ask Elena…” He trailed off because sure enough the bastard knew that she wouldn’t just send him Elena’s way.
“Fine, fine. OK?” She paused, waiting for him to settle in. She set her purse down and tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. Clearing her throat, Caroline finally looked up at him. “She figured out that drinking vampire blood works for her. And so she’s been feeding from me.”
“Really?” His brows rose as genuine surprise seemed to filter across his face.
“I’m surprised she isn’t feeding from Stefan, or even… Damon,” he finished slyly.
“If you must know, she and Stefan broke up.” Caroline sighed, her annoyance with Klaus fading as she was hit with a fresh wave of sadness. “I knew they were having problems, but I thought they’d work through it. He really loves her.”
“Yes, *he* really loves her. And she…” He trailed off again.
Caroline sighed. “She loves Stefan, she does. It’s just—” she sighed again. “Sometimes, you know, you fall out of love. I guess that’s what happened with her and Stefan and OH MY GOD! Why am I even telling you this?”
“I’m easy to talk to.”
“No, no you’re not. I don’t like you. Go away.”
A wide smile stretched across his face. “Ah, two seconds ago you hated me, now it’s merely dislike. I must be doing something right.” His eyes twinkled. Seriously, they actually twinkled like stars in the night sky or something. Great, Caroline, now you’re talking like him. She glared in his general direction, refusing to meet his *twinkling* eyes and tried to pretend that she wasn’t even remotely enjoying a moment in his company.
“What about Damon?” He asked smoothly.
“What? What about him? He’s a jerk.” And then, thinking of Elena, she admitted with another roll of her eyes. “OK, he’s not as bad as he was. But I still don’t like him.”
“Why doesn’t Elena drink from him?” Klaus explained, ignoring her commentary on Damon.
“She did, I mean, that’s how they figured it out, but just because she and Stefan broke up, it doesn’t mean she’s just getting together with Damon. She’s having some me-time.” Why am I telling him stuff that is so not his business? Geez, Caroline! He’s not your diary!
“Ah. ‘Me-time.’ One of those 21st century girl-slogans.”
“Ugh.” She grabbed an old receipt from her purse, crumpled it up and threw it at him.
He laughed. “I *am* from the 10th century.”
“I *am* from the 10th century,” she repeated mockingly. And couldn’t help but smile at him smiling at her. Sighing then, Caroline realized that she was doing an extremely bad job of not enjoying his company. She looked at him earnestly, determined to stop doing so. “Klaus, what do you want? I told you, I don’t want to do this.”
His smile faded, and that little boy hurt shone in his eyes, and she had to force herself to harden her heart against it. “Please,” she said, desperately wanting him to just give her some space.
Caroline stiffened as a mischievous grin returned to Klaus’ face and he looked up. Slowly turning around, Caroline met Tyler’s fierce glare.
“Am I interrupting a lunch date?” He smiled bitterly.
“No, Tyler. No.” She turned to Klaus. “Can you just go? Please.”
“Oh, no, don’t go on my account.” Tyler offered sarcastically.
She turned back to her boyfriend. “It’s not what you think. I just came here to see Matt, and he was here. And he sat down. I didn’t ask him to. I didn’t, Tyler.” She slid out from the booth and moved to face him. “I returned all the stuff. All of it. I’m done.”
His eyes narrowed as he cocked his head to the side, confusion lighting his features. “All the stuff? What do you mean *all* the stuff?”
“Oh,” she squeaked. “Uhm…” Caroline gave a faint smile and glanced away, her eyes searching for a better answer than the truth.
“That would be the thousand dollar dress, mate.” Klaus sidled up beside Caroline, a broad smile on his face. “And the jewelry, the diamond bracelet, I mean.” His voice dropped to a conspiratorial whisper, “you don’t want to know that price tag.” Straightening up, he snapped his fingers. “Oh, and, of course, the sketches.” He turned to Caroline, the picture of innocence. “That about covers it, right?”
He looked once more to Tyler. “Oh, she made a grand show about it.” Laughing lightly, he took a step back, and raised a contemplative eyebrow. “It brought to mind Shakespeare.” He winked at Caroline, and walked around the two, heading to the exit. There he paused and turned to face them. “You know the one about the lady doth protesting too much.”
Caroline was silent, her fists clenched as Klaus disappeared from view. Finally, she looked up at Tyler. His face was like stone, but when he spoke his voice was soft, the hurt there sending a painful beat straight to her heart.
“He got you a thousand-dollar dress? And a diamond bracelet?” She didn’t say anything. His voice dropped to near-whisper. “And you kept them, Caroline?”
She couldn’t say anything.
“He’s… Caroline, he’s a psychopath. He’s evil.” Tyler shook his head, more than confusion on his face, but also a thin measure of disgust. “Are you that desperate for someone else to adore you? Because clearly I’m not enough.”
“No, Tyler. I’m sorry.” Her face crumpled. She reached out, holding onto his jacket. “I’m so sorry. You’re right. You are right. I should have never accepted any of it. I should have never *anything* with him.”
He looked away, still and silent. Finally, he looked back at her and gave her a sad, sweet smile. “I don’t know, Care, you say that, but I see you with him and I see something there and it doesn’t seem to matter what you should or shouldn’t do, you do it anyway.”
Caroline bit her lip, fighting back tears. “I’m sorry.” It was all she could think of to say. “I am. I’m so sorry.”
Nodding, he disengaged her hands from him jacket. “Yeah, me too.”
Turning around, he walked out and Caroline helplessly watched him leave. “Tyler,” she whispered, tears beginning to fall. “I love you.”
And then she wondered why she hadn’t said that to him when he was still standing in front of her.
Another night and again, Damon found himself back in his usual spot at the Grill without his buddy by his side. Stupid Esther. I really hate that bitch, he thought suddenly, deciding in that moment emphatically that of all the annoying witches in the history of witchery, she was by far the worst.
He looked down into the quickly-disappearing contents of his glass, a sight he was all too familiar with since he’d left Elena to re-affirm her epic love with his brother yesterday. Between the Grill and Ric’s loft was a short distance, but one he was traversing quite a bit. At least he was putting his time at the bar to good use, he figured with a glance to his very own personal bartender, one Matt Donovan, quarterback-not-so-extraordinaire. Getting to the bottom of just what made Donovan so worthy of dying for was his latest mission. OK, and yeah, the manager had some serious bug-eyes going, so, he’d compelled said bug-eyed manager to let the kid serve him. Thus far, the wonder of Wonder Boy was still a mystery to him.
“Do you ever get drunk?” The stupid questions weren’t helping.
“Yes.” He held his glass up. “Pour.”
“So, have you talked to Elena?” Matt asked as he complied with the order.
Damon raised a brow, pulling the glass to his mouth for a quick swallow before answering. “Why?”
Matt shrugged. “When I talked to her a few days ago, she was… confused. I figure part of the problem is that she keeps focusing on Stefan when you’re the one she can’t get off her mind. I suggested she try focusing on you instead. So, have you talked to her?”
Taking another drink, Damon looked at Matt over the rim of his glass, hiding the surprise he very deeply felt in that moment. Maybe there was actually something to the kid after all. Not many people seemed capable of reading Elena correctly aside from him. It looked like Matt Donovan wasn’t as clueless as the rest of her loved ones.
He set his Scotch down, narrowing his eyes as Matt patiently waited for a response. Damon shrugged. Why not? I’m almost impressed. “Yup.”
Matt’s eyes widened, clearly awaiting further insight. Damon grinned.
“And?” The kid finally asked.
“She and Jeremy had, uh, let’s call it an altercation—"
Matt cut him off with a wave of his hand. "I know all about that. The fight, what she did, your... blood. I mean, how's she doing after all of that?"
"Oh." Damon shrugged. "In that case, no, I, haven’t talked to her since all of that. Sounds like you've spoken to her more recently, so maybe I should be asking you about her?"
“She..." Matt paused, considering. Absently, he wiped the bar top and then looked to Damon with a sigh. "I think she's OK. She's not all the way there, but she seems more like... Elena.” Matt paused. “So you think this whole vamp-blood thing is gonna work?"
Damon nodded. "It seems too so far." He threw back a quick swallow, then gave Matt a tight smile. "We'll see how it goes long-term, and if Stefan gets with the program. That could help move this along, but knowing my dumb-ass brother that’s not always a safe bet.”
Matt scoffed. “Tell me about it.” Then he looked at Damon, his lips tightening into a hard line. “Would you have saved her or me?”
“Her. Pfft. As if.” Damon picked up his glass and downed it. Matt picked up the bottle, but Damon shook his head and set the glass back down. “I guess it worked out. She’s still around, you’re alive and so she’s not drowning in guilt. Haha, drowning. See what I did there?” Matt rolled his eyes, not bothering to respond. Damon cleared his throat and looked at him. “But, yeah, no offense, I would have saved her.”
“Yeah, that’s the call I would have made.” Matt shrugged and then paused, giving Damon another opportunity to appreciate the fact that Matt Donovan was not completely useless. He shook his head, giving Damon a look of bewilderment. “I don’t get your brother. I don’t get what he did. How do you do that if you love someone? Just let them die?”
“My brother, the martyr. Ah, Dr. Fell.” Damon swiveled around, abruptly ending the conversation with Matt and faced the incoming doctor.
“Meredith. I told you you can call me Meredith.” She offered with a smile and claimed a stool to the right of him. She set her purse on the bar top. “Can I get a drink?” She asked of Matt as she sat down, then paused. “Wait, aren’t you too young to be serving?”
Damon nudged her slightly. “I had a *talk* with the manager. We’re good.”
Matt poured her a drink, and then set the bottle down with a soft thud. “Actually, uh, I have clean-up to do, so I’ll just leave this for you two.” He walked away without waiting for a response, leaving Damon alone with a visibly anxious Meredith in the quiet restaurant.
“So are you upset with me?” Meredith asked softly, surprising him because he’d put down her nerves to many things, but his hurt feelings were not on the list.
“No, I get why you ran out of here. “ Damon shrugged. “Caroline told me what happened.” He paused, considering stopping right there, but, hey she opened the door. He looked at her. “You could have, you know? Told me.”
“I was—I was shaken. And I felt stupid. I know she has feelings for you, and I said something… Like I said, I was stupid.”
Damon reached for the Scotch and poured himself a generous drink. “What did you say? Naughty, naughty Dr. Fell, you’ve got me curious. ”
She shook her head. “Some stupid joke about you auditioning to be…” she trailed off with an embarrassed laugh, “my boy-toy.” She sent him a sideways glance. “Needless to say, she didn’t take it well.”
Damon was quiet for a moment before responding. “Yeah. Caroline fixed you up though. And it’s been 24 hours, so you’re good. No vamping-out for the good doctor.”
She nodded. “Yeah, I’m good.” Meredith reached over and picked up the glass that Matt had poured her and took a deep swallow. She turned to him. “How’s Elena? Have you seen her?”
He let loose an uneasy bark of laughter. “Yesterday. She was bad, then worse, but now, I think she’s good. I think she’s gonna be fine.”
“Really?” Her voice was, understandably, incredulous.
“Really.” He set down his glass and looked at her. “We’re trying an alternative to the blood she so does not want to drink, and I think it’s gonna work.”
“That’s good.” He nodded. She was quiet and then took a deep breath. “Look, Damon, I’m sorry.”
“Running out on you, not explaining. You’re right, I could have told you. I should have. You came to me in good faith, and I was a lousy friend.” She offered an apologetic smile.
He shrugged. “It’s OK. I know we’re not friends. Loyalty to Ric only goes so far, I get it. You guys did only date for like two seconds. You don’t have to be nice to me on his account.” He waggled his eyebrows, his voice dropping to a near-whisper. “I’m a big boy, I can take it.”
Sitting up straight, Meredith set down her glass with a sharp thud, her eyes flashing. She shook her head. “Don’t do that: sell yourself short. I’m not here, I’m not apologizing or having a drink with you because of Ric. I like you. You’re amusing, good company. And despite how you try to be all bad-ass, I think you’re a nice guy.”
“I’m so not.”
She laughed. “OK, maybe not a nice guy, but not as bad as you pretend to be.”
“No, really I am.” He assured her.
“Hey, I believe in full disclosure.” He frowned with a slight cock of his head. “Sometimes.” He finished his drink and poured himself another.
Meredith tried once more. “OK, fine, you do have a heart.”
He paused, thinking, and then shrugged. “Yeah, I’ll give you that.” Damon turned to her, smirking. “And I don’t *try* to be bad-ass. I just am.” He held up his glass. She grinned and held hers up to for him to clink. “Cheers.”
“I’m just saying that I know I’m not Ric.”
“You’re much better looking.” He observed, running his eyes down her seated form with an exaggerated leer.
Shaking her head, she laughed again. “I’m not Ric, but if you want a friend, you’ve got one.”
He was still for a moment, all expression wiped away by her statement. And then the moment passed, and genuine emotion overtook him. Call it gratitude, relief, pleasure, take your pick. Damon looked away, looking down. He didn’t want her to see his face, see any, all of those feelings laid bare. He would be lying if he didn’t admit to being shaken. This was so not him, not his life, not how others reacted to him.
Damon Salvatore was not the guy whose side other people saw. And Damon Salvatore was not the guy someone, anyone wanted to be friends with. He was the guy everyone blamed, the one that everyone hated. Shaking his head, he muttered under his breath, “I hate this town. Just sucks you right in.” Having people care, caring about those people… it would just hurt that much more when he screwed up again. Because he always screwed up.
Meredith was quiet. He looked up at last, looked at her. Her sincere smile, her warm eyes. What the hell? Maybe this time I won’t.
“What the hell?” He said, and turned to her with a smile, a real one stretching across his face. “OK. Friends.”
TO BE CONTINUED