Author's Note: This is an alternate universe story that takes place directly after the Season 1 finale, 'Founder's Day', with one slight difference that takes the story in a different direction. The first half of the story is taken directly from the show.
SHUT IT OUT
While getting ready for the Founder's Day parade, Jeremy kept thinking about his parents. They always got excited about Founder's Day, and their enthusiasm was contagious. In some ways he was happy that enough time had passed for him to remember the good times with his parents without breaking down into tears. But in other ways, it made him feel worse, because it meant he was finally starting to move forward.
With a sigh, he put on his confederate jacket and looked at himself in the mirror.
Anna walked into his room, and smiled, thinking Jeremy was the last good thing she had to hold onto in this town.
Jeremy saw her. "Anna."
"Look at you," She said with a sweet smile.
He chuckled. "I know, it's stupid, huh? Part of the parade. How are you? I've been so worried, and I feel awful."
"Why? You didn't kill my mother. Your uncle did."
Jeremy hated the thought of that. "Are you sure it was him?"
"Who else would have done it?"
"He doesn't understand, Anna." Jeremy said, trying to make her see his uncle in a different light. "It's who he is. He hates all vampires. He's just doing what he thinks is right."
With a glare Anna said, "Are you defending him?"
"No!" He was quick to clarify. "No way. It's just I do understand where he's coming from. He's convinced that all the tomb vampires want revenge on this town, and he's just… he's trying to protect it."
"They do want revenge. Or at least they did. That's why we separated from them. My mom wasn't after revenge; she just wanted her life back. I have to get out of this town, Jeremy."
"You're leaving?" he asked with a frown.
"I've been thinking." She got closer to him, and looked into his eyes. "You could come with me. I could turn you. You said you wanted me to." She handed him a small glass vial with red liquid inside. "Here. It's my blood. If you die with it in your system, you'll come back."
He didn't know what to say. "Anna…"
"I know you. What it's like for you. Being alone. Always feeling empty inside. No one to understand. But when you're a vampire, you don't have to feel that way. You can shut it off. I can show you how."
He turned and took a few steps away, trying to collect his thoughts. "I wanted to, but now… I don't think I can. Sorry." He turned to see her reaction, only to find his room empty. He sighed and stuck the vile of blood in his top desk drawer, not sure what else to do with, and continued getting ready.
Once he got to the parade grounds, he tried to wander around until it was time to get on the float, hoping to avoid his sister. After reading her diary and finding out that she'd been lying to him for months, and had his memory erased, he wanted nothing to do with her.
Unfortunately, she felt guilty and was nothing if not persistent. When he saw her coming his way, he rolled his eyes in annoyance, and kept walking.
Elena found jogging the few feet to her brother was difficult in the cumbersome period costume. The corset made it difficult to breathe, and the skirt was so wide, she kept bumping into things without realizing it. Once she reached him, she fell into step beside him. With a smile she tried starting a conversation, "Jeremy. I was wondering where you were. You look great. You guys did a really great job on the float."
Without glancing her way he said, "Go away Elena."
"Jeremy come on please!" she begged. "I don't want it to be like this between us."
Angry that she thought things could be normal between them again so soon, he turned to confront her. "Then why don't you have Damon erase my memory again. Then I can go back to being your in the dark little brother again."
"Just don't! You can't fix this that easily. Something like this just doesn't… get fixed." He walked away, and she let him this time.
Jeremy didn't mind the parade itself. He got to ride the float and goof off with the other boys and their prop guns. Once it was done, he quickly got changed and went to get some lunch at The Grill. When he was half way done with his lunch, he saw Elena come in. He started eating faster, when he saw her make a beeline for his table. He was pleased when he saw Damon intercept her before she got there, and listened in on their conversation.
Damon said, "I like you better like this. The period look didn't suit you."
"Is that an insult?"
"Actually Elena, it's a complement of the highest order."
She smiled, but after a moment to think about it, she said, "Look, I know Stefan is worried about our friendship."
With a conspiratory smile he said, "Did he mention something to you too?"
"No, did he mention something to you?"
"No." He shrugged and added, "Nothing worth repeating."
"So I think you should stop with the flirty little comments, and that eye thing you do."
Damon did the eye thing with a flirty smile, and said, "What eye thing?"
With complete sincerity, Elena said, "Don't make me regret being your friend."
Damon's smile faded quickly, while looking into her face. He swallowed once and gave her a tiny but honest nod of understanding.
Once Elena saw it, she went to Jeremy's table. "I don't believe that we can't fix this. I lied. I was wrong. But you're my brother Jer, and I love you. And I have to fix it. So just tell me. What can I do?"
With sincerity of his own, Jeremy said, "You can go to hell Elena." He walked away before she could get over her shock. He failed to see Damon's reaction to their exchange.
# # #
Damon watched as Elena tried not to cry, and felt fury build inside him. It seemed the more time he spent with Elena, the more difficult it became to shut out his emotions, and now it was almost to the point where he just couldn't do it anymore. He saw Elena head to the bathroom, probably to cry, and stalked off after Jeremy.
He caught up to the kid quickly, and mocked, "I have so many emotions, but I don't have anyway to express them. Being a teenager is so hard."
Jeremy had glanced behind him the second he'd heard Damon's voice, but kept walking, intending to ignore the older vampire. But the mocking got under his skin, and he muttered, "You dick."
Seriously irritated, Damon said, "You do not talk to me like that, I'm not your sister. And from now on…" He grabbed Jeremy's upper arm, and forced him turn and face him. "…don't talk to your sister that way either." He let the kid go waiting to see what he had to say.
"So what? You're gonna kill me just 'cause I hurt Elena's feelings?"
Trying not to rise to Jeremy's incredulous tone, Damon said, "Cut her some slack."
"She erased my memory!"
"No I did." He paused to let that sink in, and added, "She was protecting you." He waited, expecting Jeremy to see the logic in that, and turn his anger away from his sister and towards him.
"That wasn't her call to make." Jeremy said, and turned to walk away.
Frustrated, Damon grabbed the kid's arm again, and yanked him back to continue the conversation. He dug his fingers into the kid's arm for good measure, and was pleased with the wince he saw.
Trying not to panic, Jeremy kept his voice steady and whispered, "Let go of me before I cause a scene."
"You'd be unconscious before you even got a word out." Damon dug his fingers in a little more, unwilling to let the kid go until they came to some kind of agreement.
Stefan was suddenly next to them with a hand on Damon's arm. He said calmly, "Let him go."
Damon and Jeremy faced off for a few more seconds before Damon let go.
Relieved, Jeremy backed up a step.
Stefan stepped in between them, and put a hand on Jeremy. He asked with concern, "You alright?"
Jeremy was sure he'd have a bruise on his arm, but nodded anyway. "Yeah."
Stefan let his hand fall. Always the voice of reason, Stefan said quietly, "What my brother is trying to say, is don't blame Elena for this. Damon turned Vicki. I killed her. She was a threat to you, and she was a threat to your sister. I'm sorry that it happened, I wish that it hadn't."
After a second to think it over, Jeremy said, "You shouldn't have made me forget." He made eye contact first with Stefan and then with Damon before walking away.
Damon smiled at the back of Stefan's head and said, "Good cop, bad cop. I like it."
"What are you doing?" Stefan asked, frustrated more than usual with his older brother.
Damon nodded towards Jeremy's retreating back and said, "He's being a punk."
"Elena's relationship with her brother is none of your business, so stay out of it."
"Oh there's only one do-gooder hero role available." Damon faked a chuckle. "My bad, I'm sorry."
"Get over yourself. We both know that you're not doing this for the right reasons."
"See there you go with that little jealousy act again. What are the right reasons, Stefan? Enlighten me, please."
"See Damon, it's only real when it comes from your desire to do the right thing for nothing in return."
"Right." Damon nodded.
"Yeah, and I know that that is an entirely foreign concept to you, I completely understand how you wouldn't get it." Stefan grinned and walked away.
Damon almost tackled his little brother right there on the fairgrounds, but decided there were more subtle ways to get back at him.
# # #
Too annoyed to go home, Jeremy wandered around the fairgrounds until it started to get dark. He went back to The Grill, and planned to text Anna to ask her to meet him there. He was surprised to see her waiting for him.
Coming straight to him, she said, "We've got to talk." And pulled him towards the women's restroom.
Surprised and worried, Jeremy let her pull him in. Once they were alone together, she said, "The tomb vampires are planning their revenge right here, right now."
"It gets better. Your Uncle is also planning revenge. He's going to use a device to incapacitate all the vampires, and he had a group of 'deputies' who are going to help round them up."
Knowing that there would be blood shed on both sides, Jeremy whispered, "We have to so something."
"That's not all, Damon said the device won't work."
Jeremy took a second to think about that and said, "It will be a bloodbath."
Anna nodded. She was about to tell him to go home, but before she could something went wrong. She screamed and held her head with both hands. A high pitched whine pierced her skull, blocking out all her other senses.
"What's wrong?" Jeremy asked, and put his arms around her when she started to sink to her knees. He couldn't hear or see anything that would make her react this way. "What's wrong, Anna? What can I do?"
"The noise!" She screamed. Tears of pain rolled down her face. She pushed on the sides of her head as hard as she could, but it didn't help block out any of the noise. She could barely sense Jeremy's presence.
Jeremy turned to the door when two deputies came in. Relieved to see adults, he said, "Something's wrong. Help her please!"
One of the deputies called, "We've got another one."
Suddenly the relief was gone, and all that Jeremy could feel was terror when one deputy pulled Anna out of his arms, while the other held him back. He struggled and yelled, "Anna! Annaaaa!"
A few seconds after Anna was out of the room, Jeremy stopped struggling. The deputy let him go, but stood in front of the door, blocking his way for the next few minutes. Jeremy knew it was pointless, but said, "What are you going to do with her!"
"Sorry kid. This is for the best."
"Do you even know what they're going to do to her?" He asked with disgust. "Or are you just following orders?"
"That thing was a danger to you."
Crossing his arms, Jeremy said, "You sound like a good Nazi soldier."
The man shook his head. "You're lucky you're underage, or I'd kick your ass for that comment."
They glared at each other for the next few seconds, until the deputy heard, "All clear," over his radio.
Once the man left, Jeremy made his way out to main lobby, expecting to see chaos. But instead, he saw nothing out of the ordinary. There were people playing pool, people eating dinner, people drinking at the bar, and people visiting with friends. Jeremy frantically scanned the restaurant for anyone with a look of horror or disbelief on their face, but found no one. He had such an overwhelming feeling of deja vu, that he couldn't breath.
He stumbled to the door, shoved it open, and rushed out into the night. Knowing he couldn't stop the injustice about to occur, he walked towards home. He pulled the hood of his hoodie up, to try and hide his tears from the people on the street.
Helpless. That's how he felt all the time now. Catastrophic things happened to him, and to the people he loved, and he was helpless to stop them. His parents death had messed him up for so long, he wasn't sure he'd ever get over it. And then he'd found some solace in Vicki, or maybe he'd found solace in the drugs he took with her, but either way, he'd had moments of feeling good for the first time in a long time. Then she'd been ripped away from him, and even though he couldn't remember it, he still felt the empty void she'd left in him. Now Anna had been literally ripped away from him too, and there was nothing could do. Because everyone around him was older, stronger, faster, or more influential than he was. The thought of being able to shut out his humanity, and turn off his emotions became more and more appealing, the longer he thought about it.
# # #
Damon woke up in a basement surrounded by other vampires. The vervain was still pulsing through his vanes, and he couldn't actually move much more then his head and eyes, and even that took effort. He saw Anna lying on the floor a few feet away. He saw her plead with John Gilbert, and watched helplessly while the bastard drove a stake into her heart.
Soon the fire started. He tried to move away from the flames, while he watched others burn. Then suddenly Stefan was there next to him, pulling him up, and dragging him up the stairs. Damon could have sworn the stairs were engulfed in flames moments ago, but the brothers didn't have any problems walking up them, and out into the night air, where Bonnie and Elena were waiting for them. The second he saw Bonnie, he understood, and found himself grateful.
Bonnie glared at Damon and said, "I'll see you guys later."
Elena said, "We've got to call the fire department, before the whole building goes up in flames."
Stefan nodded in agreement. She pulled out her cell phone, and he said, "I'll get Damon out of here, and meet you at The Grill."
She nodded in agreement and made the call while she walked.
Once she was gone, Damon turned to Stefan and said, "Why?"
Stefan patted him on the shoulder once and shrugged, "You're my brother."
They looked at each other for a few seconds, trying to figure the other out. Stefan wrapped an arm around his brother to help him walk, and said, "Come on, let's get you home."
Feeling like a jerk for the way he'd taunted Stefan earlier that day, Damon pushed his little brother away and said, "Go look after Elena. I'm fine."
Stefan rolled his eyes. "You're not fine."
Forcing himself to stand up straight, Damon said, "I am fine, and I don't like her out here alone right now. What if some of the vampires didn't get caught, and are looking for revenge?"
Stefan turned worried eyes in the direction Elena had left. Damon gave him a push in that direction and said, "I'll be there in a minute."
Alone, Damon winced, and forced his feet to walk towards The Grill. It took him a while, but soon he was close to the front door. He was about to enter, when he heard his brother's voice. "I try so hard to hate him. I guess it's just pointless."
Damon let his hand fall, and heard Elena's response. "You care about him. So do I. But I love you Stefan. And I know you're worried about that."
"No I just… I know my brother."
"I love you Stefan."
"I know the trouble he can cause."
"I love you Stefan. You. You have nothing to worry about."
Damon felt like an ass. He'd done nothing but cause his brother worry and heartache over Elena, and his brother had walked through fire to save him. He'd repeatedly made Elena's life more difficult, and here she was telling Stefan she cared about him. He turned towards home, but as he walked away, he heard Elena say, "I called Jenna. She said Jeremy is already home, so I'm going to go pick up my stuff at the school and then go home to check on him."
"Jeremy." Damon whispered to himself while thinking about Anna, and headed to the Gilbert house.
# # #
Jeremy was lying in bed. He held the vile of Anna's blood in his hand, and missed her. He thought about drinking it, but without Anna, he didn't see the point. He walked over, and put it back in the desk drawer. He turned and was startled to see Damon standing in his doorway. "What are you doing here?"
"Anna's dead," Damon said, knowing there wasn't a nice way to break that kind of news to anyone.
Jeremy sat down on the edge of his desk, shoulders slumped, and muttered, "I figured that once they took her away."
"I know you cared about her."
"Yeah I did."
"I saw her killed." Damon said. "I was watching and all I could think about was… I wanted to help her, but I couldn't." He still couldn't believe that he'd wanted to help Anna, but it was true. Elena had opened the door to his humanity, and now he was finding it very difficult to shut it out, even when it came to people he didn't want to care about.
"Why are you telling me all this?" Jeremy asked.
Damon walked closer. "I took away your suffering once before. I can do it again. But it's your choice."
Jeremy shook his head. There was no anger, only sadness in his voice when he said, "Look, I know you think you took it away, but it's still there. Even if I can't remember why, I still feel empty… alone. And making me forget won't fix it. It won't fix what's really wrong."
Damon felt a rush of remorse for what he'd done to make Jeremy so unhappy. He said with unusual sincerity, "What I did to Vicki…was wrong. I'm sorry for my part." Damon turned to leave, not sure what else to do for the kid.
Jeremy's voice stopped him before Damon got to the door. "Anna said that vampires don't have to feel pain. That they can turn it off if they shut out their humanity."
Damon made eye contact again. "That's very true."
"Is it easier that way?"
"Is what easier?"
Shaking his head Damon answered, "Life sucks either way, Jeremy." He thought about the awful way he was feeling right now, and added, "At least if you're a vampire, you don't have to feel bad about it if you don't want to."
"Is that what you did?"
"I did it for… I did it for a very long time. And life was a lot easier." Damon left quietly, thinking more about his own feelings and problems than about Jeremy's.
As soon as the vampire was out of his room, Jeremy got up, took the vile out of his desk, and choked the liquid down. Once the foul tasting stuff was gone, he went into the bathroom to find the sleeping pills the doctor had prescribed for Elena right after their parents had died. He looked at himself in the mirror, and nodded once. He couldn't keep living in misery. This way he wouldn't have to feel anything he didn't want to feel.
# # #
Damon walked out the front door of the Gilbert house, only to see Elena coming up the stairs.
"What are you doing here?" She asked.
"Failed and feeble attempt at doing the right thing."
He smiled. "It's not important." Getting serious, he said, "You know, I came to this town wanting to destroy it, and tonight I… found myself wanting to protect it. How's that happen? I'm not a hero Elena, I don't do good. It's not in me."
"Maybe it is."
"No." Damon looked away. "No that's reserved for my brother… and you… and Bonnie. Even though she has every reason to hate me, she still helped Stefan save me."
"Why do you sound so surprised?"
He walked closer to her and said softly, "Because she did it for you. Which means that somewhere along the way you decided that I was worth saving. I wanted to thank you for that."
She smiled, "You're welcome."
Damon leaned in to kiss her forehead, but Elena's aunt Jenna opened the front door before he touched her. He took a step back.
"It's late," Jenna said, aiming a suspicious glare at the man who was too old for her niece. "You should probably come inside."
Damon watched Elena go in, but once the door was shut, he couldn't help but think something was off. He walked home slowly, trying to figure out what had been different, and decided Elena's reaction to him had been less guarded than usual.
# # #
Jeremy woke with a start. He looked at the clock. It had only been an hour since he'd taken the sleeping pills. Had they already worked? He had trouble believing that was all it took to end his life, but he didn't feel sleepy or sick to his stomach, so he hoped that they'd worked.
He went to look at himself in the mirror. He didn't look any different. He took a deep breath. That felt normal. He put his fingers up to his neck to feel his pulse, but felt nothing. He tried fingers on the other side of his neck, and again felt no pulse. He held his breath, closed his eyes, and listened for his own heart. Instead of a heartbeat, he heard voices. His uncle and sister were talking, but the voices were so loud and clear, that Jeremy had to look behind him. Then he heard the sound of silver wear, and realized they were talking in the kitchen. He focused on what they were saying for a minute, needing to know what had happened to Anna.
John said, "You know I first met Isobel when I was a teenager. I fell in love with her instantly, although I'm pretty sure she never loved me. She was special. Part of why I hate the vampires so much is because of what she became. How it ruined her. I never would have sent her to Damon had known she wanted to turn. It's my fault. I'm telling you this, because I hoped maybe you'd understand."
Jeremy knew Elena disliked John, and was surprised when he heard her say, "Thank you."
John said, "Can I help?"
Jeremy heard a loud thunk, and heard his uncle scream. His uncle said, "Katherine?"
Jeremy rushed to his bedroom door, but his legs got him there much faster than usual, and he ended up slamming into it. He backed up a step, shook his head once, and heard Katherine say, "Hello John, Goodbye John."
Jeremy yanked the door open, and ran down the stairs. There in the kitchen he saw his sister stabbing his uncle. "Elena?" he asked.
The girl turned to look at him. Her eyes were dark black.
Jeremy had heard that Elena looked like Katherine, but he hadn't realized they would be exactly the same. "You're Katherine?"
John sank to the floor and urgently choked out the words, "Jeremy, run!"
Katherine yanked the knife out of John, and turned towards Jeremy. The murderous look she gave him rooted him to the spot. Her lip curled in disgust, "Gilbert."
Jeremy held his hands up in front of him defensively, as she advanced on him.
Both of them heard the front door open. Elena called out, "Jeremy?"
Katherine dropped the knife, and ran out the back door so quickly that all Jeremy could see was a blur.
Jeremy rushed to John and called out, "In here Elena!" He stared at the huge red stain on his uncle's stomach, and couldn't take his eyes off it.
Elena came into the kitchen. She saw the severed fingers on the counter first. She put a hand over he mouth and said, "Oh my God!" Her eyes followed the trail of blood over to John and Jeremy. Immediately knowing what needed to be done, she grabbed a couple of dishtowels off the counter, and ran to John. She put one towel over the stomach wound, and held the other towel out for Jeremy. "Wrap this around his hand."
He took the towel, and looked down at John's hand. He tentatively picked it up and wrapped the towel around it, getting blood all over on his own hands while doing it.
"What happened?" Elena asked.
"Katherine." John said.
Elena took Jeremy's free hand and put it over the towel on John's stomach. She stood and said, "Keep direct pressure on the wound. I'm calling 911."
He nodded numbly, and watched as John lost consciousness. Once John's eyes were closed, Jeremy focus went back to the blood. His sister's voice sounded far away, as he watched the blood seeping through the towels. It felt warm and inviting on his hands.
Suddenly his eyes felt sore, like a muscle that was being stretched after a long workout. His vision changed. The dim kitchen lights now seemed glaringly bright, and the spilled blood turned bright magenta. Taking a close look, he could almost say the blood was glowing. He looked at John's neck, and he could clearly see all the veins under his skin. The large vein in the neck stood out and pulsed stronger than the rest.
He swallowed once, and noticed the blood that had pooled under John's hand. He pulled the hand up to look at it. As the hand got closer to his face, he felt pressure building in the front of his mouth. The pressure was released all at once like a sneeze as his canine teeth extended. He felt them with his tongue, surprised at how sharp they felt.
He glanced back at Elena, but couldn't see her. He could hear her in the hallway yelling up the stairs to wake up their Aunt Jenna. Even with his face turned away, he could smell and hear the blood.
The pull was too strong. He turned back to John, yanked the towel off his hand, and brought it up to his mouth. The blood was still flowing freely out of the spot where three fingers had once been, and Jeremy gulped it down. He sucked to get as much of it in one gulp as possible. When it wasn't coming fast enough, he dropped the hand in irritation, and went for the neck. Before his mouth could make contact, he heard someone scream.
Instinctually, he crouched over the body to defend his food, and hissed at whoever had screamed.
Elena stumbled backwards away from her brother. "Jeremy?"
His eyes went to her neck. Her skin looked like a road map of veins all pulsing with fresh food for him. Before he could leap for her, Stefan was in front of her blocking his way. Jeremy snarled in frustration.
Stefan could see the bloodlust in Jeremy's eyes, and didn't even try talking to him. Instead, he lunged forward, grabbed Jeremy by the neck with one hand, and slammed him back against the refrigerator.
Jolted out of his haze, Jeremy's fangs retracted, and his eyes went back to normal.
Stefan kept him where he was and said, "The paramedics are going to be here any second, so I'm gonna let you go, and you're going to follow me to my house to talk about what happened. Okay?"
The kid nodded, and Stefan eased the hold on his neck. Turning to Elena, Stefan said, "Tell Jenna that you don't know where Jeremy is. Tell her he probably snuck out to see Anna. Meet us at my house as soon as you can."
Instead of answering, Elena just stared at Jeremy with tears running down her face. Stefan walked to her, held her face in his hands to make her focus on him, and rubbed her tears away with his thumbs. "We'll figure it out, okay? But right now I need you to take care of things here with Jenna and John. I'll take care of Jeremy."
Knowing he was right, she nodded and said, "I'll be there as soon as I can." She went to John, and wrapped the towel back around his hand.
Jeremy watched his sister and realized with growing horror what he'd just done. Stefan grabbed his arm and said, "Come on, the sirens are right out front now."
"I… I drank his blood."
"I know." Stefan pulled him towards the back door, and out into the night.
Once they were outside, Stefan said, "You can move much faster than a human now."
"Yeah, I found that out the hard way."
"Let's run to my house. I don't want to talk about this out in the open, especially after tonight."
Jeremy nodded, and the two took off together.