Take a chance on me
Disclaimer: The characters and other things from The Vampire Diaries don't belong to me. Credit goes to the rightful owners.
Chapter 12: Full circle
"Quit it with the fog, Damon. Not scary. It's not even amusing. I can't see what I'm writing." Elena called out, rolling her eyes.
"I'm the dead one and I don't even like this place, yet you're drawn to it like a moth to a flame. Why?" Damon said pretending to be annoyed as he sank to the soft earth next to her.
"It's quiet. Annoying vampires don't tend to frequent the cemetery." Elena said without looking up, continuing to write in her journal.
"Thanks, I'll take that as a compliment since it's an improvement over 'psychopath' and a rose away from 'tolerable.'" Damon said dropping a single red rose on the page she was writing on, looking at the distance but keeping Elena within his peripheral vision as she smiled and sniffed the flower.
Elena sighed and leaned on Damon's shoulder, "It's not that I like it here—I don't, as hard as that may be to believe. But I need to come here and be reminded I can't pretend they're still here. I can't go through each day imagining they're just on vacation or that when I go home, my parents will suddenly be there. This—looking at their headstones, is my reality and I just need to remember."
Damon wiped a tear as Elena continued to speak, "They're missing so much, Damon. They weren't here for Jenna's wedding and they won't be here for the birth of their niece or nephew. They haven't seen Jeremy's sketches or the awards he's won for them. They didn't see him get over his difficult phase and somehow become a rock I can depend on. They missed how I faced so many things I never even imagined existed, fight my way through heartbreak and come back to this world whole. They're missing you in my life, Damon, and how I'm better for it."
"But missing them, means you don't miss out on everything else," Damon pointed out gently, "Your father...he made sure you were saved because he wanted you to see all this. He would rather see you battle through this with the people they left behind, plus a few vampires thrown in the mix, than be six feet under."
"I know," Elena said sighing, "It's just hard...too hard sometimes, that I wish I could shut if off."
"One of the reasons why you almost chose to woke up a vampire?" Damon asked, turning to look at her, one eyebrow raised.
"You knew? You knew that's why it took me so long?" Elena said surprised.
"Not at first, my mind was busy with processing the fact your heart was beating to even think about anything beyond it."
"So how did you know?"
"Katherine."Damon replied simply.
"But she practically flew out the window even before I managed to get a word out." Elena said confused.
"She paused right before she jumped out the window, looked at me and nodded, as if to tell me she did something for me and we were even." Damon answered
"So?" Elena said trailing off, her confusion deepening the frown on her face.
"I wanted you back human—warm, oxygen-needing and with a pulse kind of alive. Come on Elena, can you deny that Katherine stayed behind, healed as she was, just because she agrees with me that you're not the worst company in the world? Or she stayed to push you to wake up before the final buzzer because she knew I needed you back, the way you are now? This was her apology, Elena. I know." Damon said with a tired smile.
"You would have had me back either way, Damon. Another second and..."
"And you would have had to move away because people here, who've known you since you were in diapers, will notice you're not getting older like Bonnie, Matt or all the Bradleys in this town. You'll miss everything you said your parents just did and we both know you don't want that. You have family here Elena and for as long as I can, I'll make sure I can keep you here. You need them and they still need you. Don't get me wrong. We're still looking at forever, Elena. I'm just saying eternity can wait awhile until you're ready...in a decade or two or three." Damon finished with a smirk.
"You think it's wise to keep me human that long when I'm a magnet for trouble?" Elena said smiling as she stood up and held out her hands to pull Damon up.
"Two years tops, then." Damon said putting an arm around her as they walked out of the cemetery, "This town won't survive a day over that, considering the rate you're going with bringing in supernatural badness into Mystic Falls."
"Deal," Elena said extending her hand to Damon to shake on their agreement.
"Deal," Damon said, his expression softening as he held on, "But just so you know, I'd rather become human again than turn you. If I could, I'd rather grow old with you, have kids and do the whole white picket fence thing."
"Don't do that because you think it's what I want." Elena said, stopping in front of his car, pausing even as he held the door open for her, "I fell in love with you—the extremely dangerous, rarely ever serious, mostly annoying, sarcastic and witty vampire. I love you, Damon, not for what you wish you can be but for what you are now."
"Ah, be still my non-beating heart," Damon said placing a hand over his chest before leaning in to kiss Elena softly on the lips, "I love you too, Elena."
"Ow, that's my foot," said a voice that sounded like Caroline from behind the door.
"SHHH!" hissed another voice that sounded like Bonnie, "They're right outside. Be quiet!"
"OWW! I'll be quiet when you stop stepping all over me!"
"Will you both just stop moving around...and keep quiet."
"Uh, technically saying keep quiet so many times isn't being quiet." Jeremy pointed out.
"Oh, just shut up!" Caroline shot back.
Damon looked at Elena quizzically and pointed at the door, whispering theatrically, "I'm a vampire. I can hear all that. Seriously."
Elena just shrugged and tried to look innocent, pretending to search for her house keys in her bag so she didn't have to look at him. But Damon reached out and pulled her chin up with a finger and gave her a pointed look, "What's going on?"
"Oh my God, do you want to kill my toes?" Caroline said loudly, cutting through the 'shhhh-s' and 'be quiet-s'
"They're already dead, now be quiet!" Bonnie hissed again.
Damon shook his head and took a step closer to her, reaching behind her and lifting the key chain dangling from her back pocket, taking the opportunity to whisper in her ear, "Does Jeremy plan on burning down the house with the match he just lit or is he lighting a candle on a cake?"
Elena looked up at him guiltily, "The second one."
Damon shook his head, one corner of his mouth turned up in amusement, "How did you even know?"
"I'll explain later," Elena said as she took the key from him and slid it into the lock, "Just play along first okay?"
Damon pressed on the door preventing her from opening it, "Tell me how you know and I'll go inside, gasp and widen my eyes in faux surprise."
Elena clutched the door knob, kissing him out of the blue, loosening his hold on the door before whispering in his ear, "Stefan called."
She yanked the door open as Damon stood with his jaw hanging open, even before everyone yelled.
"Happy birthday, Damon." Elena said with a smirk, kissing him on the cheek as the vampire remained speechless.
"Why are you out here?" Elena asked Damon, handing him a piece of cake, "Party is inside, Damon, not here."
He shrugged but took the cake and patted down the seat next to him, "I like your porch. It's the stage for a number of unpredictable, and mildly horrific, moments in my life. Freight trains I never saw coming. At least tonight, I'm pretty sure I kissed the right girl."
"Pretty sure?" Elena asked, halfway between amused and jealous.
Damon pressed his lips together, trying to keep a straight face, "Curling iron got away with you today."
Elena glared at him and playfully punched him on the shoulder as he laughed at her. "Seriously? That's the only way you can tell us apart? By the hair? "
"Well, not the only way...there's also the clothes. She likes the kind that's tight enough that she can maximize the benefit of vampires technically not needing to breathe. On the other hand, you...like rubber shoes. I'm guessing it's because you always need to run from the monster of the week."
Elena frowned, almost pouting like a child, as she continued to glare at Damon sideways.
He shook his head and carried her chair, with her in it, so that she would face him. "I'm kidding. I might have been slow before and kissed her by mistake but I'm fairly sure I can tell you apart now even if you were both vampires."
"How?" Elena said her voice full of doubt.
"Ah, trade a secret. You tell me exactly what Stefan said when he called, after all this time of radio silence, and I'll spill my guts on the thing you want to know." Damon said triumphantly, leaning back with his arms crossed as he watched her.
"Fine, he told me it's your birthday." Elena said, "Your turn."
"What? No, I don't think he picked up the phone in a different continent just to say 'Hi, it's my brother's birthday. Just a tip, he loooves surprises. Thrown him a party and shock him senseless.'"
"What do you want to know?" Elena said exasperated
"Has he found her yet?" Damon said in serious voice, losing all the humor in his voice.
"No." Elena said tightly.
"I can't blame her for not wanting to be found. They have an eternity to play hide and seek anyway." Damon said pulling Elena on his lap, pressing his face on her shoulder as he closed his eyes, "But I pity Stefan. It's not like the last century and a half of her games was a hoot. It's hard to still be playing a game without rules or any end in sight for that matter."
He shook his head at the realization, "She's running because doesn't know how to be happy—not the kind that lasts anyway. Katherine...she makes a game out of other people's happiness, even her own, that when it's finally within reach she runs away thinking it will hurt less if she loses it on her terms than to have it taken away."
He sighed and looked at Elena as she twisted around to face her, "That's how I can tell you apart, Elena. You're not the kind to walk away even when you should. You should be running from me considering how dangerous I still am and yet you're still here with icing on your cheek. Katherine...she's roaming the world with no direction other than away from the one person who never stopped loving her."
"But she said she came back for him. She kept insisting that Stefan loved her not me. It doesn't make sense for her to run." Elena said wiping her face as Damon smiled playfully as he handed her a napkin.
"When did that bitch ever make sense? Half the time she was scheming and the other half she was queen of the cryptic. She's running because this time it's real and if it doesn't work out she's got nothing left—no more vengeance, no more evil plot to rule the world. It's just her, Stefan and the possibility of a broken heart. Believe me Elena, even for a vampire it's not easy to close yourself off to that emotion."
Damon took a deep breath, full of indecision that was settled in a matter of seconds. He lifted Elena, amidst her protests, and helped her stand up, "Let's go. They can party without us."
"But it's your birthday—" Elena protested.
"And I'll cry if I want to but in this case I'll just leave early cause I want to. Come on, let's go. Or do you want me to wait until you're asleep and whisk you away. I find that very effective." Damon said with a mischievous grin.
Elena huffed but led the way to his car, "Where are we going?"
"A trip down memory lane," Damon said grinning wickedly, "what a beautiful disaster it holds."
"I've been here before..." Elena said looking around the ruins bathed in moonlight, "This is where your old house used to be right?"
"I'm impressed. You actually remembered something from what I can only assume is one of Stefan's patented lectures about the Salvatore family history. I always fell asleep when he started on those things. Living through it was bad enough."
"This is where he hid your ring...when he locked you up in the boarding house." Elena said following him as Damon weaved his way through the rubble.
"Huh. And here I thought he put it in a bank safety deposit box or shipped it somewhere. I guess he is my brother if he thinks this is a good hiding place." Damon said walking straight to the single pillar that was still upright before facing Elena.
"Just to be clear, I'm doing this for Stefan and not for that bitch. I still hate her guts but my brother's happy ending is dependent on her so I'm going to let it go." Damon said as he pressed on the pillar so that it tilted to the side and the bottom was partially lifted off the ground, "See those two envelopes, Elena? Can you get the one labelled Stefan?"
"Okay," Elena said reaching out for the envelope only to find her name on the other one, "Wait, the other one is for me."
"No, leave that there," Damon said abruptly lifting his hand and letting the pillar fall back in its original position.
"Hey!" Elena yelled, yanking her hand, almost crushed under the weight of the stone, "What did you do that for?"
"You didn't follow instructions—I said get the Stefan envelope not the Elena one. And don't act all hurt, your hand was already out by the time I let go. I think. I'm pretty sure." Damon pointed out, snatching both from her hand.
"Hey, give it back! It's mine!" Elena said trying to get it from Damon's outstretched hands.
"Not yours. Mine—I wrote it. Well, not the one for Stefan because Katherine wrote that but this one," Damon said waving the envelope with her name on it, "it's mine."
"Damon," Elena said with a warning in her voice, "What is in that?"
"This," Damon said gesturing to Stefan's envelope, "is the key to my brother's happiness—Katherine's letter to him when we went looking for Gregory thinking we wouldn't make it. Just in case it was her last chance at the truth. I'm guessing whatever is in here will help him find her."
"How would you know?" Elena asked suspiciously.
"She writes slow...I took a peek over her shoulder after I finished mine." Damon said shrugging, "The last part was her imagined life with him and where. My guess is she's there now so brother dear can just buy a one-way plane ticket and it's happily ever after for them. It's not an address, mind you. It's some cryptic thing they talked about before, blah, blah, which he can figure out, yada, yada. It's probably romantic but well, considering it's Katherine it could also be a trap."
"After you finished your letter...to me?" Elena said not missing what he said, "I want to read it."
"Uh, no." Damon said stuffing one envelope in his pocket and ripping the other one to pieces, "There problem solved. No more Elena letter."
"Damon!" Elena said angrily.
"Technically, I never gave it to you. I just wrote your name on it so it's not yet really yours. Why are you so mad over it? For all you know, it could have contained a confession from me that I've been lying to you all along and I have this grand scheme to burn this town to the ground—you included."
Elena scowled at him, crossed her arms and sat on a rock, refusing to look at him.
"What do you want it for? There's no need for it now. I'm not going anywhere, I don't intend to." Damon said but he was only met by stony silence.
Damon looked at the sky and breathed heavily, shaking his head as he sat down next to her, handing her a piece of paper—wrinkled but otherwise intact.
"Here. I ripped the envelope to bits but I took out the letter first. See this is why you're better off human—I never would have been able to pull that off if you were a vampire and could see how fast I was moving." Damon said.
Elena looked at him as she took the letter in her own hands and began to read.
Don't you find it amusing that for someone who hates me and finds me unforgivable, you still find ways to save me? I guess you had to fail someday. It's just ironic that it happens when I'm the one trying to save yours.
If Gregory, Katherine's insane almost brother-in-law or almost ex, is the one who ended me, run and never look back. He's bad news. He's me plus Katherine times a million kind of bad. Stay away.
On the other hand, if Katherine did this to me, then feel free to exact revenge on my behalf—if you're up to it. If not, I will allow you to dance on my grave with Stefan. Bring Bonnie, Jeremy and even Caroline. Make an event out of it. I owe you that much.
I'm missing the point of why I'm writing this, so I'll get to it. It's simple.
I'm sorry—for hurting you, hurting the people you care about, placing you in danger and not saving you about half a dozen times when I should have.
Thank you—for saving my life when everyone else wanted or thought I should be left for dead. I'm only able to see goodness because you believe it's in me.
I love you...too. I heard you say it the day I left. I just thought I'd say it back, even if it's only in a letter. I have a lot of reasons why I do but they don't really matter now, do they? Answering why I love you is pointless if our story ends before it starts right? So let's just leave it at that. I love you. Full stop.
Goodbye, Elena. I tried to be the hero but I guess it's really not in me.
Elena didn't realize she was crying until she saw the marks on the paper she was holding and she felt Damon's arms envelope her as he whispered soothing words in her ear.
"I'm right here, Elena. I hate to say it but I told you so—do not read it. It's pointless anyway." Damon said quietly to her, "Hey, it's my birthday, I'm the only one allowed to cry. Please? It's the first time I've actually celebrated it and was happy about it so can we not rain on the parade?"
Elena turned to him, "What do you mean?"
"Well, I was never the favorite son. I did have parties but it was more for show than my father actually caring it was a special day," Damon answered, "Good job on changing the topic. Smooth but not smooth enough. Will you please tell me what's going on in your head—I'm a vampire not that Edward guy, aka the mind reader."
Elena laughed through her tears, "You can live forever but you're not invincible. Being a vampire isn't a guarantee you'll never die. You're just a notch above human frailty but barely. I almost lost you, Damon."
"Almost—meaning it didn't happen and it doesn't count. Elena, fold it up and keep it in your pocket. Now, look at me," Damon said staring into her eyes, "Thank you –for taking time to see past the obvious hotness and the evil tendencies. Not many people do that so they always just see the vampire. I'm sorry—I will apologize till my lungs collapse for what I did to your brother and every other hurt I caused in your life. You've forgiven me, I know, but I'm just not done with the remorse. I love you—because I do. And that's it. No goodbyes and no tears. I'm right here, Elena. All you have to do is forget that letter and believe we have a future together."
Elena placed a hand in his, "Am I gonna be safe with you?"
"Yes." Damon said smiling, remembering the first time they had this conversation.
"Will you promise not to do that mind-control thing with me...and to not run off to get yourself killed without a proper goodbye—face to face, not some letter you leave on my nightstand? Will you promise to let me love you?"
Elena took a deep breath, "Can I trust you?"
The corners of Damon's mouth twitched as he tilted his head at her, "Just kiss me."
Elena smiled and looked away but Damon pulled her into a deep kiss that took her breath away. A kiss that whispered to her heart a promise of undying love, endless possibilities of heartbreak and unimaginable happiness, that words will never be enough to say.
A/N: Thank you so much for all those who read this story all the way to the end. Hope you enjoyed it. :) P.S. Thanks for all the reviews. I love reading them :)