"Hey," Jeremy said loudly, rousing the attention of the other two in the corridor. John had left before sunrise, retreating further into the basement so he could wait out the day, as he didn't have the same protection as the Salvatore brothers. "I think he's waking up."
Tyler had been slumped in the corner of the cell for the last hour or so, unconscious and unmoving. Now, he was beginning to rouse.
Damon was on his feet in an instant, shuffling Jeremy out of the way slightly so he could unlock the door. He let the other in the room first, though, letting him past without protest.
"Tyler?" Jeremy said dubiously, walking slowly over to the other boy. He turned back to look over his shoulder at Damon. "Hand me that, will you?" He caught the jumper that was thrown to him with a muttered thank you.
Tyler groaned slightly beneath his breath - a human groan - and sat up, looking around him confusedly. Then his expression tightened, a defensive glint in his eyes as he looked up at Jeremy standing over at him.
"What the hell are you doing here?" he demanded, before looking around him with a suspicious expression. His gaze zeroed in on Damon. "What happened? What am I doing here? You said you were going to figure out what was happening!" He got to his feet, wriggling out of the slivers of tshirt still clinging to him and pulling the hoodie on angrily. His jeans were more of a pair of shorts, now, and so he pulled the tracksuit pants that Damon threw straight on over them.
"And I did," Damon said, slightly defensive. Then he rolled his eyes elaborately before fixing the boy with a very direct stare. "You're a werewolf."
"What?" he said incredulously, still glancing suspiciously at Jeremy from the corner of his eye. "This is a joke." His gaze focused on the boy next to him. "Are you a part of this?"
"Come on, Tyler," Jeremy said. His derisive tone, along with the levelled way he looked at Tyler had more of an effect than Damon's assurances could have. "You may not remember everything, but look around." He gestured around at the walls, which were scratched and chipped from the abuse they'd received during the night. "You know we're telling the truth, even if you can't face it."
His matter-of-fact tone made Tyler pause. He looked from Damon to Jeremy, his gaze even skirting to the door where Alaric stood silently, searching for some hint of denial from any of them.
"Why are you here, anyway?" he asked Jeremy. He tried to get back his aggressiveness from before, but it came out flat anyway.
Jeremy laughed once. "Believe it or not, you're not even the weirdest person I know."
Behind them, Alaric exchanged a look of approval with Damon, before he spoke. "Tyler, we can explain everything we know to you. Just come upstairs and you can ask anything you want."
"Unless you actually want to stay," Jeremy muttered, looking around at the slightly macabre room. Tyler shook his head ruefully, one side of his mouth pulling up in a wry smile as he pushed out of the room, making his way up the stairs.
"Wait," Damon said as they all entered the living room. "Has anyone seen Stefan? Did he end up coming back last night?" His brow was furrowed in concern for his brother.
"No," Alaric said, looking around for some sign of him. "Should he have been back? Maybe -" He stopped. "Maybe he just wasn't in the mood." He had been about to say, 'maybe he stayed at Elena's'. But somehow he doubted that that was what happened.
"For werewolf-sitting? That doesn't really seem like him," he murmured thoughtfully. He stared out at nothing for a moment, and then met Alaric's patient gaze. "I'll be back. You can fill them while I'm gone." He pointed over at Jeremy and Tyler as they headed into the kitchen.
"You don't really think he's been hurt, do you?"
"I'll let you know," he said in a distracted voice, and then he left.
"Elena?" Damon called quietly outside Elena's bedroom door, knocking with unusual manners before he opened it and slipped inside. Elena was sitting up on her bed, her diary laying open a little way away from her.
He swept over to her side, looking into her face. Her eyes were rimmed with light red, and there were dark circles beneath them. He wondered if she'd slept at all last night.
"What's wrong?" he said softly, concern on his face. He looked over at the diary, and then back at her face. "Is it Stefan? Did something happen to him?"
She shook her head tightly, brushing her hair out of her face, but then laughed unsteadily. "I happened to him."
Damon's face was drawn with confusion for just a moment, the gears turning in his mind for just a few seconds before her eyes met his, full of guilt and weariness. Comprehension flooded his expression, softening it.
"You broke up with him?"
She swallowed, and then nodded. He didn't try and grab her or kiss her or even try and touch her, for which she was grateful. He seemed to know she was a little more fragile than usual right now.
"I'm glad I did," she said quietly, nodding slightly and looking into his eyes deliberately. "I know that. I just... I need some time to think things over before I can really start anything right now. I don't know if it's right to just..."
He held up a hand, a small, reassuring smile on his face. "That's okay. I'm not going to make you do anything you don't want to do," he murmured gently. As her eyes fell back to the bedspread beneath her, he crouched down so he could see her face. "It's okay, Elena. I don't mind. When you want me, I'll be here, okay?"
Tears started in her eyes, but she blinked them away, trying to smile up at him again. Slowly, so as not to unnerve her, he moved his hand to hers where it rested on the covers, intertwining his fingers with hers gently for a few seconds.
As he went to pull away, she turned his hand over, taking it in both of hers and gripping it tightly. He sank down beside her, and she rose up onto her knees putting her arms around his neck, breathing deeply. His hands settled on her back softly, stroking her hair comfortingly until she released him.
He stood, lifting her hand smoothly and lightly kissing her fingers with a smile before he left. A small smile broke through Elena's brittle expression in spite of herself, and she shook her head bemusedly before clasping her tingling hand in the other tightly.
Damon's frowned carefully as he took out his phone, dialling Stefan's number for the third time. This time, though, as ringing stopped and the voicemail beeped, he didn't hang up.
He looked up before he spoke, taking a deep breath. "I'm sorry Stefan," he said quietly, but his voice brimmed with emotion.
And then he snapped the phone shut and composed himself, pushing his way through the door with his own obvious brand of swagger and confidence. He waltzed into the front room, joining the small group that was now set up there.
"What did I miss?" he asked cheerfully, looking from face to face.
"I just found out I'm a horror-movie monster," Tyler said from the couch. He was only acting the part of the jerk, now, his expression was much calmer, if still a little shell-shocked.
"Pfft," Damon said, waving a hand. "Who hasn't?"
"Yeah, about that." Tyler pointed accusingly at him. "Don't you think you should've mentioned you were a goddamn vampire, dude? I mean, before you dragged me out into some weird cabin in the woods."
"It didn't seem relevant at the time." Damon smiled calmly over at him and leaned against the side of the couch casually.
"We were just deciding what to do in the future," Alaric inserted, leaning back in his chair.
"Yeah," Jeremy agreed. "So far no one seems to be a fan of just locking Tyler up in the basement next full moon."
"Yeah. I can feel these bruises forming on my back already, that -"
"That'd be from beating at the walls all night long." Jeremy said the last three words with deliberate slowness, stretching them out and rolling his eyes.
"Hey, it's not like I was really in control then," Tyler said defensively. Alaric sighed from the couch, having had to listen to this since they sat down.
"The point?" he said wearily, but there was a shade of amusement there, too.
"Okay," Damon said. "We go for prevention. You only turned when I -"
" - pissed me off?" Tyler said, smirking. Jeremy's mouth twisted to the side, and he looked over at Damon with amusement and grudging approval. He'd already been brought up to date on the whole incident, as much as Alaric could describe from a secondhand account.
"You just have to stay calm during the full moon and you don't turn?" Alaric said, surprised. "That's all?"
"Actually we don't know if that's all. There could be a few things that set him off that have nothing to do with his emotions." Damon exhaled heavily. "I never thought I'd have to actually research werewolves of all things."
"You're telling me, Dracula," Tyler said jokingly. "I didn't think I'd have to be worry about turning into a wolf, but there you go."
"We do know one thing," Alaric said in an optimistic voice. "You stay human when you're unconscious or asleep."
"You are not shooting me every month," Tyler said immediately.
"I'm not saying we have to. We could try out sedatives first. Valium or something, to keep you calm, or something that knocks you out compeletely."
"We know those work on you," Jeremy interjected.
"Shut up," Tyler muttered. "So we just drug me out every month, and I stay normal?"
"Well as normal as you were before," Damon needled. "But you'll have to keep your cool around other people, by the looks of it. You're going to have some anger management issues, as you may have noticed by now. With that other nature inside of you..."
"He's right," Alaric agreed. "It'll be dormant, but even so, it'll probably needed to be monitored."
"Hey, you could be a little grateful," Damon said, raising an eyebrow. "You could have woken up with a chunk of townsperson in your backteeth instead."
"That's awesome," Tyler said, his expression turning to disgust instead. Damon just shrugged.
"He's got a point," Jeremy told him, looking over. "Things could be worse, man."
"Well for one thing, you didn't wake up in the woods this morning," he pointed out. "And at least you've got people willing to help you with this. You don't have to keep it to yourself forever."
Tyler's expression tightened slightly, and he looked around at the others there. His gaze flicked down and then he looked back up again.
Elena was still stuck in her indecision - and her room - when it hit nine o'clock, and Jenna knocked on her door.
"Elena?" she asked tentatively. "Can I come in?"
"Yeah," she replied, setting aside the book she was reading. There were a few similiar distractions strewn around the room, including her iPod and her diary and her phone. She'd already washed her hair twice that day, and cleaned her room once, just for something else to do.
Jenna poked her head in the door, before coming in completely. She went over and sat next to Elena on the bed, touching her shoulder comfortingly.
"You okay?" she asked, smiling.
"Yeah, of course," Elena lied badly. She looked down at Jenna's outfit, and then narrowed her eyes in mock suspicion at the dress. "And where are you going, miss?" She raised an eyebrow jokingly.
"To dinner," Jenna replied in the same tone. "Alaric said that tonight may be one of the only times we actually have nothing happening. Jeremy's hanging out with Tyler somewhere, too, so that's good, huh?"
Elena reached out and squeezed Jenna's hand, the same hopeful expression on her face. "It's great."
"He also told me to tell you," she said slowly, catching Elena's attention. "That, and I quote, 'He can be a dick, but he loves you.'" Immediately, Jenna held both hands up in a peace gesture. "I'm not interpreting, I'm just repeating."
With that, she got to her feet and walked out of the room, casting her just one knowing look as she closed the door.
Elena waited for an hour, just thinking. And then another. By the time she started to think properly again, she decided that it was too late. She'd sleep on it, and things would be easier for her to decide in the morning, right?
But as soon as she lay down to sleep, turning off the light as she did so, she couldn't make herself close her eyes. They stayed wide open and staring, adjusting to the dimness of her room with annoying clarity. She could clearly see everything in the black-and-white room in front of her, and it all seemed to distract her.
It was rounding the second-half of midnight when Elena sat up with an annoyed sound. She threw a jacket over her singlet and flannel pants, beyond caring what she looked like.
Of course, when she actually pulled up to the boarding house, she did briefly wish she'd had the foresight to drag a brush through her hair; tossing and turning on the pillow probably hadn't made her that desirable.
Elena went straight into the house without hesitation, noticing immediately that it was completely dark; no one was here. The fire had even died.
She walked ginergly up the stairs and over to his room, hesitating with her hand over the doorknob for a moment. Would he think she was being stupid, or ridiculous?
The answer was suddenly obvious - no, he wouldn't.
She slipped into the room, and a smile crept onto her face as she looked over. Damon was asleep, breathing shallowly with his arm resting on his bare chest. His face was completely relaxed.
She walked slowly over, fighting the stupid, happy laugh she could feel in her throat. Not because of him, but because of the ridiculous, bubbly pressure in her chest. She pulled off her jacket and set it on the bed, sitting beside him and turning his face toward her gently.
He didn't startle; his eyes opened slowly, moving over her face before he propped himself up on his elbow. He looked into her eyes for a long moment, and then leaned forward, still testing for her permission. Elena closed the distance without hesitation, letting herself sink into that kiss. As her eyes closed, and she felt his fingers wind through her hair, she wondered why she'd wasted so much time at home when she could have been here.
After an impossibly long and blissful moment, he pulled back a fraction, her lips trying to follow his before she gathered her suddenly nonexistent thoughts, opening her eyes to stare into his again. He brushed his feather-soft lips against her cheek once, coaxing another smile from her, her eyes shutting briefly, before he shifted to the side.
She slipped in beneath the covers and sank down into his waiting arms, breathing deeply as she set her head against his chest. He trailed his fingers softly through her hair in a slow rhythm, and neither of them said a word.
They didn't need to.
Hey guys, I know this ending might disappoint a bunch of you, but I didn't think that they would just rush to get together with this big sex scene and the iloveyous.
Anyway, I just wanted to say thank you for reading this so far (it's still a little crazy to me that so many people actually liked it) and to those who reviewed and various-alerted it, I don't know if I'll write another story or not, but everyone was really supportive!
(I have to admit, though, I winced a little whenever I saw a whole thing of emails in my inbox, thinking someone was going to be like 'OMG THAT CHAPTER WAS ATROCIOUS' but everyone was always lovely :) )
I hope you enjoyed the story, and thanks again.
p.s. whether this is a disappointment or a yay-moment, Stefan doesn't kill hismelf or anything in my head, he just takes some time off to try and get over Elena.