A/N: So I've been keeping this on the down low, but this is the last chapter. I've loved writing this story so much, and I can't thank all of you enough for reading and reviewing (or lurking). So I hope you enjoy this last one. :)
Jeremy slipped out of the living room where Rick, Stefan and Damon were watching a baseball game and Elena and Jenna were cooing at Hank. He climbed the stairs and crossed the threshold into his bedroom. It had the sort of stale, dusty smell he associated with libraries, but he thought that was actually his imagination, considering he'd slept here just last week.
He checked the closet and his dresser drawers, looking for any clothes he might want to pack last minute, but almost everything he actually wore had made it to the boardinghouse over the course of the past eighteen months. The realization that he and Damon had been together for almost two years actually sent a jolt down his spine. It was the sort of thing he had a hard time wrapping his mind around if he thought to hard about it.
Next he checked his desk, finding half-full sketchbooks that he couldn't help thumbing through. He didn't find anything in them he wanted to bring with, so he dropped them back into the top drawer. The second drawer was mostly clutter—scraps of paper, pens that had run out of ink, et cetera—and when he felt his finger start to burn, he withdrew his hand quickly, realizing one of the vervain bracelets Elena had given him was in there. He probably ought to dig it out and chuck it in the trash, but he didn't feel like getting burned again. The third drawer was filled with more clutter, and Jeremy figured if he couldn't think of anything he was missing, he wasn't likely to find anything he really wanted in the second of the junk drawers.
He checked under his bed, and only found dust bunnies and a lost flip-flop. He heard footsteps on the stairs, almost silent ones, so he figured it was either Damon or Stefan. He was sitting on his bed when Damon reached his room, and the other vampire looked at him warily.
"How's it going?"
Jeremy shrugged, "There's nothing in here I want to bring."
"Really?" Damon stepped into the room, glancing around. "Not even this adorable picture of you and Elena?" He grabbed the picture frame and passed it to Jeremy with a smirk. Jeremy snorted; he and Elena were twelve and thirteen, very much in their awkward phases, fishing off the dock at the lake house.
"No. That can definitely stay."
Damon grinned. "You're not bringing your noise cancelling headphones either. Stefan will be crushed."
Jeremy rolled his eyes. "My new hearing is too good. They don't cancel any noise. And my iPod got totally smashed in the crash anyway."
"Guess that means I'll be in charge of music tomorrow."
"If you play any Journey, I'll get out of the car and walk."
Damon laughed and flopped backwards onto the bed, pulling Jeremy down with him.
"Jenna didn't seem happy when we told her we were going." Jeremy said softly.
"She'll be okay. Besides she had to know we weren't going to stay here forever."
"She did. But I think there was a part of her that was hoping we would."
"We'll be back soon enough, considering we were blackmailed into being here for at least one major holiday and Hank's birthday."
"Yeah, Jenna's kind of a blackmail ninja that way."
"Are you okay?" Damon asked.
Jeremy nodded. "Yeah. We need to get out of this town."
"I know. But leaving home the first time is…a big deal. I was terrified when I did."
"You were also going off to war."
"That's true. But leaving home is leaving home, regardless of the circumstances."
Jeremy turned his head to look at Damon. "My definition of home has changed over the past couple years."
Jeremy wasn't about to turn into a total sap and start quoting Billy Joel to Damon, especially because he knew the other vampire was smart enough to figure it out. A slow smile spread across Damon's face, and he curled his hand around the back of Jeremy's neck, pulling him into a searing kiss, their tongues sliding together and their hands roaming across each other's bodies.
Jeremy pulled away reluctantly when Damon slipped a hand into the waistband of his jeans. "Don't start something we can't finish."
"There's nothing stopping us, babe." Damon said, trailing kisses across Jeremy's jaw.
"How about the fact that everybody is downstairs and they're going to come looking for us any minute?"
"So? We're leaving tomorrow." Damon murmured against Jeremy's neck. "The next time we see them, the awkwardness will have definitely worn off."
"Sorry, Day. But there's no way the last thing I'm leaving them with is that mental picture."
"Fine." Damon sighed. "Tease."
Jeremy rolled his eyes. "Let's go home. We've got an early start tomorrow, and hanging out here all night is just going to depress me and I want to be happy about going."
"All right." Damon stood up and offered his hand to Jeremy, pulling his boyfriend to his feet.
Jeremy walked out of his childhood bedroom hand-in-hand with Damon.
Damon woke at an ungodly hour the next morning and couldn't manage to fall back asleep, despite how comfortable he was curled up next to Jeremy. He slipped out of bed and showered quickly. Once he was dressed, he did a cursory glance over the room, checking to see if he'd forgotten to pack anything. His room wasn't like Jeremy's. He wasn't a collector; he didn't hang onto most things, because there wasn't anything that were going to last as long as he would. Stefan liked to hoard memorabilia from his past, but Damon was perfectly happy to keep nothing but his collection of movies and music. And even then, he kept them here, rather than dragging them with him everywhere he went. He knew the difference, of course. Stefan had things in his past he wanted to remember, while Damon's past was filled with things he wanted to forget.
He glanced over to find Jeremy watching him, his eyes still drowsy, and Damon couldn't help remembering the first morning he'd woken up with Jeremy here. It was startling to think how easily Jeremy had wormed his way into Damon's life, becoming a permanent fixture before Damon had even realized he wanted him to stay.
Jeremy dressed quickly and they made the bed together before walking down into the kitchen. Damon grabbed blood bags from the refrigerator and passed one to Jeremy. They had breakfast standing hip-to-hip, leaning against the counter.
After checking the living room one last time, they walked out the front door into the July sunshine. They'd packed up the car last night, and Damon sort of wished he drove an SUV instead of the Camaro; even if it was light on space, though, the Camaro was just cooler for a road trip.
Jeremy hopped over the door into the passenger seat, shooting Damon a grin. Damon folded himself into the driver's seat and started the engine. It rumbled to life and Damon turned to face Jeremy.
"Where are we going?"
"Fucking anywhere," Jeremy laughed.
Damon nodded and shifted the Camaro into gear, backing out of the driveway and onto the road. Once they were on the highway and Jeremy had found a radio station that didn't sound like the type that would ever play Journey, Damon reached across the gearshift and laced his fingers with Jeremy's, settling in for the drive.