Title: Wings of a Butterfly
Fandom: The Vampire Diaries (TV series).
Pairing: Damon Salvatore/Jeremy Gilbert.
Chapter Rating: Mature.
Chapter Content Notes: Kissing, mild references to violence, sexual content.
Chapter Word Count: 3910 words.
Author's Notes: Last chapter! Thank you so much for sticking with me through this piece. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.
[[ … Chapter Ten: Living … ]]
The shrieking of the alarm clock— punctuated by an equally shrill, "Jeremy, get up!" from the door— made Jeremy groan as he reached out and slammed his hand on the snooze button. He lay there for a moment, blinking slowly against the bright morning sun, rubbing his face into the pillow.
"Jeremy, so help me, if I'm late because of you—"
"I'm up! Christ, Elena." He sighed, pushed himself up, and at the sharp pain in his shoulder, went completely still. His eyes snapped open, and he slid the pads of his fingers over the ragged scar on his shoulder. For a moment, he couldn't remember anything, could remember why his hair was so long or why he had so many injuries over his body— the burn on his shoulder and the deep wound over the palm of his hand and the aching bruises over his stomach.
Then everything flooded back into his head. The trenches, the months in the Salvatore house, the horrific round up, Giuseppe kicking him. The kiss. He reached up and touched his lips with shaking fingertips, a faint grin over his face before he started laughing. When his alarm shrieked again, he clicked it off, and then he glanced down at the still bloody clothes that he was wearing. Thankfully, they were dry and nothing had stained his bed. Bloodstains wouldn't have been fun to explain.
He peeled them off— rule one of survival, he thought vaguely, was to look like you belonged— grabbed something clean, and tapped on the bathroom door. No answer from Elena, so he hurried in, locked her door to the bathroom, and showered as quickly as he could. His momentary elation at being home faded very quickly, washing down the drain with the blood— Damon's blood, Stefan's blood. He stared at his hands for several minutes, at the pink scar that seemed to slowly be growing whiter, and he didn't move until he heard Elena rapping on the door.
He shut off the water and stepped out, drying and dressing as quickly as he could. He unlocked Elena's door, then started brushing his teeth, ignoring the look Elena gave him as she walked in. Her eyes flicked up to his hair, and for a moment, she was perfectly quiet. Then, she squeezed toothpaste onto her toothbrush and asked, "When did your hair get so long, Jer?"
Jeremy froze, carefully taking the moment to rinse his mouth and his toothbrush before he looked back at her. He deliberately gave her the dirtiest look he could manage, snorting and replying, "Finally noticed, did you?" He rolled his eyes, stalked out of the bathroom, and grabbed his backpack. He seriously hoped he was still in the emo phase he'd been in when Stefan had first arrived. He took the stairs two at a time, stopping only when he saw who was standing at the door, waiting for him.
"Hey, champ." The man's smile could have been a stranger's, it was so foreign to Jeremy. "Ready to go?"
Jeremy nodded slowly, his knuckles gripping his pack so tightly that they were white. He was shaking, but as Elena came down the steps behind him, he struggled to get himself under control. They were quiet on the ride to school, Jeremy unable to take his eyes off of the back of his father's head. He finally pulled his cellphone out, tapping away until he located the calendar. He felt his heart skip a beat. 2009.
Nothing had happened yet. Stefan wasn't in Mystic Falls, Damon probably hadn't returned yet either. He licked his bottom lip, and he practically ran into the school the moment he could get away.
He ditched the bag in his locker— same one he'd had the first time he'd done this— and he just kept walking right out of the school, not caring that he was cutting what seemed to be the first day of classes. Jeremy paced just outside of the school, considering his options, and then he broke into a jog. He needed to see it. Needed to be in the house that he knew Damon had lived in.
It was a long road, and by the time Jeremy reached the boarding house, he felt like he was going to be sick. He hesitated before he knocked, and when the door opened, words completely failed him.
"Jeremy Gilbert?" Zach Salvatore tilted his head, looking out past him, as though expecting to see a car somewhere. It wasn't an unreasonable thought, given how far out the house was. "Is everything okay?"
Jeremy opened and closed his mouth a few times, before he finally managed, "May I come in?"
Zach frowned a little but stepped to the side. It wasn't until Jeremy had actually entered the house that he realized Zach hadn't invited him. He glanced up, wondering how much Zach actually knew. Jeremy hadn't known him very well before he'd skipped town.
"What is it, Jeremy?"
"Is Damon here?" Jeremy knew he shouldn't outright ask. He knew that there had to be a better way to go around the subject, but for the life of him, he couldn't think straight. He had no idea what had happened the past 145 years; somehow, things had changed so much that he had directly impacted the car accident that had killed both of his parents. He needed to know that Damon was safe, that he wasn't affected for the worse by Jeremy's foolish meddling.
Zach stiffened at the question, pushing himself off of the wall he'd leaned against. "Why are you asking about Damon?"
Jeremy's breath caught in his throat; Zach hadn't denied it. Quickly, he turned and ran up the stairs, ignoring Zach's exclamation. He knew the way to Damon's room, knew it without having to be told. The door was unlocked, and he fell into the room, something heated already in the backs of his eyes. It smelled like Damon. Hearing Zach rushing down the hall after him, he shut and locked the door. There would be hell to pay, he was certain, but he needed this.
He sank down onto the bed, grabbed a pillow, and held it up to his nose. He breathed in as deeply as he could, wanting to hold the smell inside of him. He could hear Zach pounding on the door, shouting for him to come out of there— no doubt for fear of his life. Damon had been strangely possessive of his room, no matter when Jeremy had known him. He looked up, and a familiar book sitting on the desk caught his attention.
Jeremy left the pillow on the bed, his hand shaking as he picked it up. He dragged his fingertips down over the cracked binding, and just before he could open the book, he heard the window open. Someone leaned over behind him and snatched the book from his hands.
"It's rude to go through someone else's things."
Jeremy's eyes closed for a heartbeat— two— and then he turned around, dragging in a deep breath. He met Damon's blue eyes, and it all seemed strangely familiar. The anger and pain that he'd known in his Damon, from before, filled this one as well, and Jeremy licked his bottom lip again.
"What exactly are you looking for?" Damon was aggressive, ignoring any rules about personal space, and he crowded Jeremy against the desk, his hands lightly putting the book back down.
"You kept my sketchbook." Jeremy saw something flash in Damon's eyes. "Did you—"
Damon shook his head slowly, and Jeremy felt his stomach sinking. "You're not him. You're not. I checked." Damon slammed his hands back down on the desk, and Jeremy's pulse jumped. He wouldn't let himself look away though. "How did you find out about him?" Damon's pupils narrowed to pinpricks, and Jeremy's heart stopped. He wasn't wearing Vervain.
Quickly, he looked away, and he reached up to pull his shirt down just enough for Damon to see his shoulder. Damon went perfectly still, his hands twitched, and there was a ripping sound as he tore Jeremy's shirt open. His fingers traced just around the edges of the scar.
"I killed him," he murmured, and Jeremy shook his head slowly.
"You killed me," he whispered, because there wasn't any kind way to put it. Damon took his hand, turned it palm up and traced the white scar there. Jeremy shivered under the touch, and Damon stepped closer to him. After just a moment, Damon brought the hand up to his lips, and Jeremy couldn't stop the low noise that escaped him at the feel of Damon's tongue on his palm. "Damon..."
Damon didn't stop though, just kept licking until his tongue found Jeremy's wrist. He stopped, scraped his teeth over the skin there, and finally said, "I found the letter."
Jeremy shivered. "That was the plan. Well, kind of. I didn't mean for you to kill me; that part just sort of happened." He moved then, reaching up to put his hands on either side of Damon's face, to make them both own up and meet eyes. Damon wasn't having any of it though, because he immediately moved them, pushing Jeremy to lay flat on the bed and straddling his hips. Jeremy bit his lip and closed his eyes when he felt Damon's fingers running over his chest.
"Just sort of happened?" Damon leaned down until his mouth was just beside Jeremy's ear. "One hundred," a tap of his fingers punctuated each syllable of the number, "and forty-five years. You've been gone for one hundred and forty-five years, Jeremy. And you just show up." Damon's hands moved until they were flat against the bed. "Like nothing's happened. You look exactly the same."
Damon lowered himself until he was flush against Jeremy, his lips ghosting just over Jeremy's throat. "You still smell like blood," he murmured, and his nose brushed over Jeremy's hair. Jeremy could hear him breathing in. "I can smell the lake on you."
Jeremy could hear the blanket under him squeaking, ripping as Damon's hands clenched fistfuls of it. He reached up, threaded his fingers through Damon's hair, and whispered, "It was yesterday for me. I woke up this morning here." He didn't add that he had showered, that he was pretty sure Damon was imagining it. Instead, he wrapped his arms around Damon's back, buried his face into Damon's shoulder. He could feel tears in his eyes, and he blinked rapidly in an attempt to keep them at bay. "I had to leave you like that—"
Damon pulled back from him, and then his hands were on Jeremy's face, his thumbs brushing just under Jeremy's eyes. He pulled Jeremy up just enough to kiss him; it was slow, deliberate, and not at all what Jeremy wanted. He dug his fingers into Damon's back, made a noise and tried to deepen the kiss, to coax Damon into kissing him with the same hunger that they had shared once before. Damon ignored him, clearly in favor of taking his time.
After one hundred and forty-five years, Jeremy was pretty sure he deserved it; didn't mean that he had to like it.
"Damon..." Jeremy bit Damon's lower lip softly. "Damon, please—"
Damon kissed him once more, cutting off his words, and then he drew back all the way. He sat up, slid his fingers over Jeremy's torso, and stopped whenever he reached the shoulder. Jeremy lay under him, very aware of the weight pressing down over his hips, and simply tried to breathe, to keep himself sane.
"It was true then." Damon's voice was quiet, and he picked very lightly at the scar. Jeremy winced and squirmed as far away from the motion as he could. It wasn't exactly far, given that Damon wasn't budging from where he sat. "Everything in the letter."
Jeremy swallowed before he nodded. "It is. Was. I don't even know. Everything has changed." His hands slid down to touch Damon's thighs, and he looked back at Damon. "I came straight here."
"Skipped school in favor of looking for me?" Damon's eyes snapped back to Jeremy, and he leaned down once more. One of his hands lightly brushed Jeremy's hair back from his face. "I'm flattered. When did you get these?" His hand drifted back down to press on one of the bruises over Jeremy's stomach.
Jeremy sighed faintly. "Giuseppe," he murmured, and Damon's low growl made him reach up, made him touch the side of Damon's face. "Sh," he whispered, and he leaned up just enough to touch a soft kiss to Damon's lips. "He's dead."
"He was hitting you." But Damon was kissing him again, and Jeremy shivered under the feeling, the desperation lacing each time their lips touched. "I," another kiss, "knew it."
"Mm... No." Jeremy silently cursed his inability to let Damon simply accept whatever it was that he wanted to think. He pushed Damon back just enough to look at him, to stop the kisses. "It was only after... after he killed you. That's when he hit me. I provoked it, Damon."
"Who choked you, Jeremy?" Damon's voice was low, but what made Jeremy uncomfortable was the expression he had. He was intent, his eyes focused on everything that Jeremy did. Hesitantly, Jeremy picked at the blanket, unable to stop himself from fidgeting.
When he felt Damon's weight shift, and Jeremy quickly shook his head. "Katherine. It was Katherine." He bit his lip, and he looked up. Damon had gone pale, and he leaned back. His eyes cut to the side, and Jeremy shifted under him. "Damon, it wasn't your fault."
"She told me that she saw you leaving." Damon laughed a little, and then he was across the room, his fingers tracing the cover of the journal.
Jeremy shivered, the sudden temperature difference more than he was ready to handle. When Damon was close to him like that, it was easy to pretend, to forget that everything was different, that this was real. Jeremy wasn't ready to face the world just yet. He eased off of the bed and moved to stand beside Damon, looking down at the hand on the book. "That morning? I figured she might have."
Damon didn't say anything else, and Jeremy didn't tell him that Katherine had killed him, had left his body in the woods with his bag just to lend some reality to her story. Instead, he lifted a hand, and he touched Damon's hip. Damon glanced over at him.
"I pushed her too," Jeremy murmured, and he couldn't make himself look up. "It... it was hard." Damon's hand wrapped around his, pulled it up closer to him, and Jeremy's eyes closed at the feel of Damon's breath over the backs of his fingers. "I snapped a few times; did things I shouldn't have."
"Were you scared?"
There was the slightest hint of tongue over his fingers, and Jeremy opened his eyes to look at Damon. "Yeah," he whispered, and he focused on watching that tongue sliding over his hand. "And when you kissed me—"
Jeremy stopped himself, uncertain of what to say. In all reality, Damon's kissing him had only made everything worse, his reaction— understandable as it was— had hurt. Damon's eyes lifted from their hands, and Jeremy quickly forced a smile onto his face. Immediately, Damon leaned forward, dropping Jeremy's hand in favor of pushing his fingers into Jeremy's hair.
"Stop it," Damon muttered, and Jeremy felt his smile slip. "I know that smile is fake." His hand twisted around a few pieces of Jeremy's hair, and he pulled. Jeremy gasped, finding himself pulled down until he was a few inches shorter than Damon. "You used to give me that smile a lot," Damon said quietly, his other hand trailing his thumb over Jeremy's bottom lip.
"You didn't know it was forced back then," Jeremy replied, trying to figure out if Damon was genuinely angry with him or not. He couldn't tell, and that realization scared him. This Damon was more unstable than the Damon he'd left in 1864; he was more like the Damon Jeremy had known before the entire trip. Jeremy reached up, and the instant his hand touched Damon's face, Damon let him go and crossed the room in a blur.
Jeremy picked up the sketchbook then, taking advantage of the moment, and he cracked it open curiously. He remembered all of his sketches, of course, but as he turned to the last one he'd done, he smiled faintly. Then he flipped to the next page and his heart skipped a beat.
The rest of the book was filled with sketches of him, of Jeremy, and Jeremy glanced up at Damon. Damon's arms were folded over his chest, he was looking out the window, but Jeremy saw the way his eyes cut to the side as Jeremy thumbed through the book. Most of the sketches were a little rough, like Damon had been trying to capture memories, and Jeremy could sympathize.
It was sometimes a lot harder than it should have been to remember the little details, because it was the little details that make the drawings a good replacement for memories. There were sketches of Jeremy with the kepi on, sketches of him laughing, him struggling to stay on the horse. He laughed slightly, and he blinked back the tears as he turned to the last handful of pages. His letter.
"I thought you were dead," Damon finally said, but he didn't move. Jeremy blinked faster, reached up to wipe his eyes, and prayed that Damon would stay put. "I mean, Emily told me and you left the letter but... Really?" Damon turned just as Jeremy lowered his arm, and Jeremy pointedly looked at the sketchbook. Some of the words were smudged, presumably from someone tracing their fingertips over them. "It was a little difficult to believe."
"I can imagine." Jeremy was proud that his voice didn't waver, didn't crack. "It was hard to believe when it was happening."
"This is right then? This is where you're supposed to be?"
Jeremy lowered the sketchbook, sighing. "Yeah, Damon. It's where I'm supposed to be." He shivered as Damon came back to him, as Damon turned him around and placed his hands on Jeremy's face. Jeremy closed his eyes, and Damon licked away the tear that escaped him.
"Good," Damon said lowly, and then he was kissing Jeremy again. Jeremy's hands clutched at handfuls of Damon's shirt, unable to let go. He didn't want to let go, didn't want this to end. "I don't think I'd let you die again," Damon whispered against his lips, and he didn't wait for Jeremy's answer. Instead, he simply pulled Jeremy closer to him, pushed him back down against the bed, and kissed him, tasting him and drinking him in like he'd never done before.
Jeremy pushed his hands into Damon's hair, and he kissed back, all enthusiasm and while he might not have felt as sexy as Damon did against him, he was pretty damned sure that Damon didn't care. Damon was pushing down against him, and Jeremy was rubbing against him, trying to pull him closer. A knee slid in between Jeremy's legs, and after just a moment, Jeremy pressed against it. Damon made a low noise in the back of his throat, and his hand slid down to squeeze in between them—
And the door flew open with a shattering crack that made Jeremy gasp for breath. Damon was off of him before the sound had even stopped ringing, snarling at Stefan who held up his hands instinctively.
"Zach was worried," he said quickly, and his eyes locked onto Jeremy. His mouth set into that line, the one that Jeremy knew meant a scolding was about to follow. It was the same line he'd worn when he was checking to see if Jeremy was still human after his attempt to turn himself. Jeremy groaned, rolled over, and grabbed Damon's pillow, pulling it down over his head, trying to block out the quiet, "Damon, you promised—"
"It's him, Stefan." Damon's voice was low, and Jeremy sat up just a little at the tone he had. He glanced between them before he dropped the pillow and held out a hand.
Stefan hesitated before he reached for Jeremy's hand, only to be intercepted by Damon. Damon's hand pushed Jeremy back down onto the bed away from Stefan.
"Jeremy, you shouldn't be here—"
Jeremy wordlessly held up his palm, and it wasn't until Stefan's eyes cut in between the scar there and the scar on his shoulder that he even realized that his shirt had long since fallen to the floor. Damon had torn it clean off of his body, and Jeremy hadn't noticed. He shivered, pulling the pillow back into his lap. Damon must have sensed something, because he stayed in between Stefan and Jeremy, his body tense and ready for a fight.
"But... Damon killed you."
Damon snarled and Jeremy reached out, catching his wrist and holding onto it as tightly as he could. He was lucky, because Damon didn't seriously attempt to shake him off. Instead, Damon simply moved over and pulled Jeremy against him, his hand tangling in Jeremy's hair.
"He had to. It was the only way I could get back." Jeremy's eyes closed slightly at the feel of Damon's nails lightly scratching over his scalp.
Stefan's eyes widened. "It... It was true? What Emily said?"
"I'm taking him home," Damon said abruptly, not even caring that Stefan was sputtering and trying to ask something else. "For him, it was last night." He cast Stefan a dark look, and he gathered Jeremy into his arms, not waiting to hear if Jeremy even wanted to go home. Jeremy closed his eyes against the blurring scenery, and then they were in Damon's car. He didn't start it though.
Instead, he simply leaned back, his head against the headrest. Jeremy looked over at him, and after a minute of silence, he asked, "Are you taking me home?"
"I should." Damon tapped a finger on the wheel of the car, and finally, he muttered something about fate and reached into his pocket. He withdrew the bracelet— Jeremy's bracelet— and leaned over to clip it onto Jeremy's wrist. He didn't ask for permission, but as he drew back, Jeremy wrapped his fingers around Damon's wrist and pulled it back over to him. He rolled the small matching bracelet up Damon's arm.
"When did you find that?"
Damon smiled slightly, and he looked out the car window. "In the twenties. It was the first time I thought that there might be some truth to your letter. No Vervain in mine." He pulled his arm out of Jeremy's grip and turned the key in the ignition. "Your dad will be wondering why you're not at school. I'm sure they've called him by now."
"... You're not eighteen," Damon finally said, and Jeremy couldn't help but laugh.
"You've been waiting to say that, haven't you?" He tapped a finger on car door before he shook his head. "No. I'm fifteen."
There was something funny about hearing such a modern word coming out of Damon's mouth, and Jeremy's grin widened. "Yeah," he said after a minute. "I guess I am. ... Damon, is this all real? Is it really over?"
Damon snorted. "Nothing's over, Jeremy. You're fifteen. This is just beginning."
"Heaven ablaze in our eyes.
We stand still in time.
The blood on our hands is the wine
that we offer in sacrifice.
Come on and show them your love.
Rip out the wings of a butterfly.
For your soul, my love.
Rip out the wings of a butterfly.
For your soul."
― "Wings of a Butterfly," by HIM.
Disclaimer: I do not own Vampire Diaries, any of the characters, or "Wings of a Butterfly," by HIM.
Final Notes: If you enjoyed this story, there is a direct sequel titled "Footsteps of a Traveler." You can find it on my profile. ^^