Chapter: 24 – The Right Choice [Featured Characters: Rebekah, Matt, Stefan, Caroline, Elena and Damon]
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: 4,296
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. ;) The song quoted is "Let Me Call You Sweetheart," written by Beth Slater Whitson with music by Leo Friedman.
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 (Matt/Rebekah, Stefan/Caroline).
Heads-Up: I will be participating in an upcoming fanfiction auction. Would you like to as well? It will support the development of TumblCon USA (a fan convention to be held in Chicago Summer of 2014), particularly the Vampire Diaries event? You will be able to either auction off your own writing talent, or bid on an other writer to write a story for you. If you are interested in signing up for TumblCon's FanFiction auction for Vampire Diaries, then drop an ask in the tvdtumblcon blog on tumblr (or pm Fanfiction.net user xallowspuffybuff) with your name, email, and that you are interested in the auction. You can ask them for any additional information. Follow them and stay up to date to know where and when bidding will start!
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Chapter 24: The Right Choice
The first thing Rebekah noticed was the melody out of place in this century, and then the lyrics, Let me hear you whisper that you love me too/Keep the love-light glowing in your eyes so true/Let me call you sweetheart, I'm in love with you, came to her mind moments before they were sung.
“Let Me Call You Sweetheart,” she murmured as the scent of burning candles and a floral blend assaulted her senses. She wasn’t positive, but she believed that the song had come out in 1910. “The Decades Dance,” she made the connection with a whisper, a smile blooming on her face. Walking into the Grill, she took in the transformation, her eyes wide with surprise and delight. The entire bar and every table was covered with flowers—bouquets, single-stems, corsages—and thick, golden candles. Silence momentarily filled the room and then the song repeated.
“I am dreaming, dear, of you
Day by day
Dreaming when the skies are blue
When they're gray…”
Matt stepped out from the shadows. His jacket was off, his tie undone, hanging loosely against his white shirt. He smiled when he saw her.
“You did all of this?” And she couldn’t keep the wonder out of her voice.
His smile deepened. “I found this song on the internet, thought you might recognize it.”
“Let me call you ‘sweetheart,’ I'm in love with you,” she sang softly along with the singer, and then laughed lightly. “Yes, yes, I do.”
“The candles were in the back and the shop across the street had a massive sale on all of their leftover flowers for the dance. I thought it would be a shame to let them go to waste.”
Spinning around, she spread her arms, taking in how beautiful the restaurant looked. “I can’t believe you did all of this.” Rebekah stopped and faced him as he moved closer to her. “It’s wonderful.”
“You’re wonderful and I’m an idiot.”
Her gaze softened. “Matt, I’ve done horrible things. I can’t expect you to—“
“But I forgave you. I can’t say I forgive you and then continue to hold those things against you. Act like I’m better than you. I didn’t just ask you to the dance because I knew you wanted me too. I asked you because I wanted to. To be with you, to see you smile when you attended your first high school dance.” Rebekah caught her breath as he reached out and picked up a single red rose, wilted at the edges, but the most beautiful rose she had ever seen. He held it out to her. Silently she took it. “I wanted to give you that experience and instead I let my past get in the way of your happiness. I am sorry. You deserve better.”
She sniffed the rose and then gave a gentle shake of her head. “You don’t have—“
“No, I do,” he interrupted. “See, I have this bad habit. I don’t let go. It kinda screwed things up with Caroline for a while, I couldn’t let go of Elena. And I talked to her tonight, Caroline, and I realized I was doing the same thing. Holding onto a memory, I guess, because I was afraid that the future wouldn’t or couldn’t be better.”
Matt let out a humorless laugh. “I haven’t had it very easy. I’ve tried to stay cool, keep my head, but I screw up just like every other stupid kid. I’ve had to grow up, be the adult, but yeah, I can still be a stupid kid. I was stupid to not appreciate you. I’m sorry, Rebekah.”
She let out a shaky sigh, feeling incredibly stupid herself because it was taking everything in her not to cry. She laughed instead. “I forgive you, you stupid boy.”
A slow smile spread across his face and his blue eyes were filled with such warmth they were a burning blue now. He put one arm behind his back and then held out his hand to her. “May I have this dance?”
“When the silv'ry moonlight gleams
Still I wander on in dreams
In a land of love, it seems, just with you
Let me call you ‘sweetheart’
I'm in love with you
She took his hand and Matt pulled her into his arms. Gentle and swaying, they spun slowly around the space, weaving in and out, around and about the candlelit tables.
“Let me hear you whisper that you love me too
Keep the love-light glowing in your eyes so true
Let me call you ‘sweetheart’
I'm in love with you”
On a buoyant note, Rebekah twirled away from him and then slowly danced back into his embrace.
“Longing for you all the while
More and more
Longing for the sunny smile I adore
Birds are singing far and near
Roses blooming ev'rywhere
You, alone, my heart can cheer
You, just you”
The music played in the air, but they were still now, lost in each other’s eyes. “Rebekah,” he whispered her name softly and for the first time in nearly a century she felt her heart leap in her throat as a wave of joy swept through her. His eyes closed and hers followed suit as his head bent, his lips meeting hers.
“Let me call you ‘sweetheart’
I'm in love with you”
Her hands rose and circled around his neck as her lips parted beneath the growing passion of his kiss. He wrapped his arms around her waist, pulling him to her tightly and there was nothing else. Just this boy. His kiss. The music. This moment.
“Let me hear you whisper that you love me too
Keep the love-light glowing in your eyes so true.
Let me call you ‘sweetheart’
I'm in love with you”
Hair down, make-up off, comfortably garbed in a tank, pajama shorts and bunny slippers, Caroline headed into her bedroom, noisily slurping on her spoon. She dipped into the tub for another bite of Rocky Road and sighed as the cool ice cream hit her tongue.
“Heaven,” she whispered dreamily. Stopping at her DVD collection, she snagged The Notebook and then set her treat down on the dresser to open the case. Her eyes fell on the wilting corsage sitting there and Ryan Gosling was momentarily forgotten. Caroline sighed. Setting down the movie, she reached out for the flowers and brought them to her nose, inhaling the fading scent.
When Stefan had picked her up, she hadn’t expected him to arrive with a corsage in hand and a genuine smile on his face. But he had, acting like it was a real date. And then he kissed me, she reminded herself. Throwing her head back, she found herself remembering when he first came to town. Her first glimpse of his cool stride down the halls of Mystic Falls High, his charming, mysterious demeanor at the Grill after school and how she had shamelessly tried to capture his attention at the bonfire. Crazy to think that it was barely a year ago.
All night she had waited for the new guy to show up and when he had, she’d waylaid him, determined to make her move.
“Hey! There you are. Have you been down to the falls yet? Because they are really cool at night. And I can show you. If you want.”
God, the memory of it was just embarrassing. She’d all but flashed him! And Stefan, ever the gentleman, had tried to politely brush her off.
“I think you've had too much to drink.”
Hah, of course she’d had. It was the annual bonfire, booze and s’mores all around. And she’d told him so and then he hadn’t been so nice, just honest.
“Caroline. You and me, it's not gonna happen. Sorry.”
At least he’d apologized for shooting her down. But that was like forever ago and if anyone had told her that she would have hooked up with Matt, and Tyler in the following year, she never would have believed it. But… Never say never.
Holding the corsage, Caroline moved over to her bed and sat down. “Am I crazy?” She had to ask herself. “I mean, me and Stefan?” It wasn’t just that kiss—although it had been a pretty spectacular kiss—it was how close they were, how well he treated her and how much she just liked him. It was how he had made her feel better after Tyler broke up with her, and that he made her laugh and danced with her tonight after Klaus had gotten her all turned around.
It was because he was Stefan and through everything and how they had all changed inside and what they were to each other, he was the only one who was still the same to her. He was still that mysterious, cool boy that she’d seen walking down that hallway who made her smile. Caroline closed her eyes and then with a swift shake of her head, opened them, stood up and threw the corsage away because absolutely not! “No, no, no!” She was not going there. “God, Caroline, you *just* broke up with Tyler! What is wrong with you?”
She looked down at the flowers in the trash and sighed again. She loved Tyler, she totally did, but if she was being honest with herself she had never felt those butterflies with him that she had with Matt, and Klaus… and Stefan. Tyler had been her friend, one she had sex with, and whom she loved, but she had never been in love with him. That tingling attraction that consumes you had never been there with Tyler.
A sudden, sharp knock on the door grabbed her attention and she was quite grateful. She’d been having way too many pity parties of late. Pulling on a robe, she picked up her ice cream and went to see who else was showing up on her doorstep tonight.
She peeked between the window curtains and then dropped it with a squeak. Stefan! There was silence on the other side and then another tentative knock.
“Caroline?” She heard him sigh heavily. “I know you’re mad at me—“
She opened the door.
“I’m not mad at you. I’m—OK, I am a little mad at you, but I’ll get over it.” Raising her brows, she frowned at him. “A few more hours would help though.”
“I know, I’m sorry. I want to explain myself. I want to apologize. I want to make it better.” His eyes were soft and green and pleading and so earnest and adorable. Ugh!
“Fine, explain yourself, apologize. Make it better, Stefan. You have five minutes. Ryan Gosling is waiting and my ice cream is going to melt.”
“Ryan Gos—? Never mind. I’m sorry.”
“You already said that.” She tapped her foot and crossed her arms, ignoring the cool tub against her sleeve.
“Yes, I did. OK, I know it’s not an excuse, I know, but I…” he trailed off and looked away for a moment. He huffed and then finally turned back to her, and she could swear that his face was kinda red. “The thing is, Caroline, I’ve never actually been… rejected before.”
“Oh, boy!” Her eyes widened and she couldn’t help it, she burst out laughing. Talk about first-world problems. Poor Stefan, fawned over and adored for the last century and a half!
He held up a hand trying to stem her laughter. “I know, I know, but, it's true. It is. And I handled it, Caroline, I handled it badly. I am sorry.”
Clearing her throat, she rolled her eyes, but she couldn’t help the tiny smile that fought its way onto her lips. He was kinda cute all flustered and embarrassed, she had to admit.
Stefan took a deep breath. “I want to make it up to you.”
“How?” Her foot started tapping again.
“The Spring Falls Fair is coming up. I'll take you? If you want.” He pasted a charming smile on his face, a hopeful light in his eyes.
Caroline paused and softened enough to unfold her arms. She was quiet, thinking and took the time to take a bite of ice cream. So good. She sighed, still thinking. I really do love the Spring Falls Fair and not going solo would be a lot more fun than stuck with Bonnie, Elena... and their boyfriends. Narrowing her eyes, she pointed her spoon at him.
“What about Elena? I will not be used in some attempt to break up her and your brother."
He shook his head. "Nope. I made my peace with Elena, with them being together." Taking a deep breath, he met her gaze, clear-eyed and firm. "I'm moving on."
Biting her lip lightly, she wondered how horrible it would make her to go out with her best friend's ex two seconds after said best friend hooked up with her ex's brother and she, Caroline, broke up with *her* ex. Caroline, it's not like he's proposing! It's the Spring Falls Fair!
"Will you win me all the stuffed animals I want?”
Without missing a beat, he responded with a grin. “Every one in the whole place if that's what will make you happy.”
She made him wait a few more moments and then finally gave him a full smile. “OK, it's a date.”
His grin melted into that smile that he only gave her, the one that made her heart flutter just a little bit. “It's a date, Caroline.”
Clearing her throat, she gave a small smile. “OK, then. Good night.”
He continued to look at her, not moving and then his head cocked slightly to the side. He opened his mouth to speak, she waited. He remained silent, and then took a step forward. Caroline straightened up, her eyes widening a bit.
He didn't say anything and then with a decisive nod, he took one step closer and reached out, capturing her face in the palm of his hands. A light gasp escaped her and his eyes were warm, and just then a darker shade of green. "I'm going to kiss you again."
"Because I want to kiss you. Caroline."
She blinked, and her voice was a whisper. "OK."
And he did. His head lowered, his lips were soft as he captured her top lip between his. As his breath whispered into hers. As his fingers caressed her skin.
Stefan pulled away slowly, and he was smiling and she was smiling. He nodded once more and then turned and walked away. She watched him for a moment and then shut the door, turning to lean against it. With one hand loosely holding her Rocky Road, the other on her rapidly beating heart, she thought of that bonfire forever ago and she couldn’t help but wonder again.
“Never say never?”
Elena paused outside of Damon’s room. The entire walk up the stairs she had been listening and hadn’t been surprised to hear restless footsteps and low mutters that finally crystallized into one phrase as she got closer, "Where is she?" She realized with relief that despite his fear that whatever Stefan wanted to say would change things between them, he was still waiting for her. And now Damon would know that it was only him.
She took a deep breath, closing her eyes, and reached for the door knob when a sudden flush swept through her body, heat pooling in her belly. This wouldn’t be the first time that she and Damon would be together. It had happened in this room, barely a month ago, but everything had been different. Or maybe not. The heart of who they were and what they felt, those things hadn’t changed. Just the circumstances.
And now she couldn’t help but remember the mad passion she had felt in his arms then, his kiss consuming her as his hands wandered possessively over her body, lips trailing down her throat, her chest. As he came into her and everything she had ever known before exploded into a thousand pieces. How completely he had undone her. Elena’s eyes drifted open. Her heart beat faster and she couldn’t stop the joyful smile that burst across her face. She didn’t want to stop it. She wanted the joy. She wanted Damon.
And he was waiting for her. Elena opened the door.
“I didn’t eavesdrop. I do have some manners.” His voice held a practiced ease and he was turned away from her. His back was naked, his feet bare. His shoes were no doubt neatly put away and his shirt and socks in the hamper in his closet. Everything in the room was spotless, even the undone bed was turned over neatly. Damon, the neat freak-slash-vampire, she thought affectionately.
“Damon,” she said his name softly, confidently.
He turned around and in the second between seeing her face and seeing the *look* on her face she watched the nonchalant air designed to hide his aching heart fade. His eyes widened and there was just the slightest lift to the corner of his mouth, but it was enough. She could see that he saw the truth.
“I love you,” she said.
“Elena…” His voice was barely a whisper.
Her smile grew and she could feel the heat of it lighting her whole being. “I love you, Damon. I love you so much. You, Damon.” Her gaze was clear, her voice was strong. “Only you Damon. Always you. You.”
In the next moment she was in his arms. Whether she had flown to him or him to her, she couldn’t recall. His mouth captured hers in a devastating kiss that left her breathless, gasping for air even as she clutched him to her, trapping his lips between hers, biting, piercing the lower one, tasting his blood and loving every drop. Their tongues danced and then on an exhalation of breath, he licked a moist trail down her chin, over the curve of her throat.
His hands moved to the front of her gown, creating space between them and with one solid tear, he ripped the fabric down the middle. At the very same moment, his teeth sank into her neck. She fell against him, her knees growing weak as dampness pooled between her thighs with each suck upon her flesh.
“Damon,” she cried as he suddenly swept her up into his arms. Her heels dangled and then slipped from her feet as he swung her around. A wicked smile lit his face and he captured her mouth in a quick kiss before throwing her onto the bed. Her eyes widened in surprise as she bounced on the soft mattress. “Damon!”
“We’re doing it on the bed this time,” he informed her as he unbuttoned his trousers and unzipped his fly. “And we’re getting all the way naked.”
Elena grinned and looked down at her tattered dress. She shrugged and pulled off what remained, throwing it to the floor. She couldn’t help but snort when Damon sent a quick wince its way, but seconds later his lips parted and the blue of his eyes darkened when she rose to her knees and reached behind her back.
“Elena…” He said in a hoarse whisper.
She paused with a playful expression. “You did say we were supposed to get naked, right?” And then before he could respond, she unhooked her bra and flung it across the room. This time, his eyes did not follow her discarded clothing. Leaning forward, she swung her legs around and lifted up her rear to remove her pale panties.
Damon audibly gulped.
“You’re still dressed,” she pertly informed him, a wide grin curving her lips as her eyes fastened onto the prominent bulging of his boxers. Two seconds later he was no longer dressed and her smile faded into blissful anticipation. She relaxed onto her elbows and began to inch her way backwards up the bed.
Just as her head reached the pillow, Damon zoomed over and lay on top of her. His grin was nearly feral, his eyes rimmed with red and the faint tracing of veins appeared. Elena could see the pointy end of his teeth between the parting of his lips. She breathed his name, desire flooding through her like nothing she’d ever felt before and as the heat surged inside of her, she felt her own fangs pop out, the blood pooling under her eyes.
Damon suddenly threw his head back with an exultant laugh and a grin danced upon her lips in response. He looked back down at her, his vampiric face falling away. “I love you, Elena Gilbert.”
So overcome with emotion, lying in his bed, naked in his arms, seeing such openness, such happiness on his face, Elena could only nod. Her fangs receded, the dark veins fading. She reached up and entwined her arms around his neck. On a breathy sigh, she pulled him to her. “Make love to me, Damon.”
His next kiss was the sweetest she had ever known. His next touch, the softest, as his fingers trailed down her arm, entangling with hers. Rising slightly, his other hand drifted over her chest, dancing upon, circling around her breasts before he bent down and took one puckered nipple between his lips. Suckling lightly, he released her hand and traveled over her hip bone, fingers grazing the curve of her thigh before skimming underneath. Damon lifted her leg up, his knee nudging her other leg farther apart as he moved from one breast to the other, tracing the pale areola with his tongue.
A gasp escaped her, her back arching when he slipped his finger and then thumb inside of her, quickly finding the nub at her center. He lifted his head from her breast and swooped down to capture one more kiss, his tongue sliding in between her lips. Her nails dug into his back and she spread her legs wide when he finally entered her with one glorious thrust. She wrapped her legs around his hips. Pulling from his kiss, she threw her head back as he buried himself deep inside of her, moving in and out steadily and then with faster, harder, deeper thrusts. Elena screamed, the sound ripped from her throat as wave after wave of a most astonishing orgasm exploded inside of her.
And it felt right and she was torn apart and came undone. The waves receded, she returned to herself as Damon gave her a kiss. Soft and sweet, gentle, nearly chaste. And just like that everything came back together and she was complete.
“I love you,” she whispered. His eyes shone and he mouthed the three words back to her before pulling out and settling beside her, cradling her in his arms. The room was quiet, their breathing returning to normal and she felt peaceful. A calm filled her to such a degree that she honestly couldn’t remember the last time she had felt this good. This right. He was right. And everything that had happened from the moment she had met him crystallized into this moment, all of the wrong turns, the curves, the back roads, all of it led here, now, to this moment.
“I was wrong,” she said to him. “I mean, I made the wrong choice, but I’m glad I did.”
“Hmm,” he muttered, contentment in his voice.
“Matt and I were heading out of town when we thought that Klaus was dead. We knew what that meant.” She pulled away slightly and met Damon’s confused gaze. “He told me to choose. We were halfway between Mystic Falls and where you were. I chose Stefan. I chose wrong.”
Her eyes were clear when she met his and she hoped he understood what she was saying.
“Elena, it's OK.”
Of course he didn’t. It had all just come together for her now. Every choice. Every decision. Every declaration. Elena raised herself up and looked down at him, determined to say this right, determined that he understand.
“No, don't you see? Because I chose Stefan I went back to Mystic Falls. I ran into Rebekah on Wickery Bridge. Damon, I died because I chose wrong. But if I had never done that, I don’t know if I would have ever had the courage to love you. To be who I’m supposed to be. To be with who I'm meant to be with. You.”
She reached down and ran a finger lightly over his face. “It’s like you said before. If you hadn’t chosen to turn for Katherine, we never would have met. It was the wrong choice, Damon, she was the wrong choice, but it led you to me. I did the same thing. I chose the wrong person, but it led me to you. And now I’m here. And I have forever.”
Elena met his loving gaze and a smile so open and sweet was upon his face. Reaching out, he captured her hand, entwining their fingers. With a smile of her own, she watched him watching their interplay. Damon looked back up at her and there was just the slightest catch in his voice when he spoke. "We have forever."
With a nod, Elena gave him another quick kiss. "Yes, we do."
She smiled. He grinned. She settled back down against him, squirming to get comfortable. He shifted with a slight groan. They were quiet, and then... "Elena?"
With breathtaking speed, Damon let go of her hand, wrapped his arms around her and rolled her underneath him. "Now that I finally have you where I want you, I intend to take full advantage." A wicked grin lit his face. "We're vampires, babe, we can go all night."
Elena grinned joyfully and held nothing back. Because he was right.
So here we are at the end. Thank you to everyone who has stuck with the story and thank you so, so, so much to those who have taken the time to comment, even if it was just a comment to let me know you were reading it. If you have read up to this point, and you have enjoyed it, even if you commented earlier but haven't since... it would mean a tremendous amount if you would let me know that you read this and that it worked for you. I've been working on this for 10 months and I've spent a LOT of time trying to make it right. So please let me know if you think I did. Thank you. :)