Damon raced to the hospital as fast as he could, the horrible words still ringing in his head. He had been about to start his usual drinking routine when Jeremy had called him, telling him Jenna was dead. His heart would have stopped beating as Jeremy told him that Katherine compelled Jenna to stab herself. His ears had picked up Stefan's conversation in the other room with Elena he assumed, but he didn't hang around to listen. He wasn't sure what kind of reaction he'd get from Elena. Their friendship seemed to at least be on the mend over the last few days, but he had to do something. He found them in the waiting room, Ric included and Damon didn't like the way his heart clenched. These were probably the most important people in his life. Since when did he suddenly care about so many people? But his eyes landed on the huddled form of Elena, her head buried in her hands as her body shook slightly. "Elena," he said softly as he made his way toward her.
Her tear stained face lifted to meet his, the most devastated looked on her features and she shakily got to her feet. "You didn't have to come," she whispered. That was better then her asking him to leave. She needed someone to be strong for her while she was struggling to be strong for everyone else.
"Yes I did," he said softly. "Stefan's probably right behind me." Which meant he had only seconds to offer her a little bit of comfort before her boyfriend would swoop in and take over. He knew how smothering Stefan could be, but it wasn't his place to say anything, nor the time.
She shook her head as more tears brimmed in her eyes. "I told him not to," she whimpered. "We can't be together anymore. She won't stop Damon. She's not going to stop." And her face crumbled as fresh wave of sobs wracked her body.
On instinct he pulled her against him, his arms enveloping her small frame. He wanted to ignore how perfectly she fit against him, but his arms had other ideas as he hugged her tightly, his nose nuzzling her hair. He did not do crying women. He was horrible at it, but he had to be calm, and get them out of her. "Let's get you guys home," he said in a calm voice. He was going to make Katherine pay for doing this to her. Elena didn't deserve to be hurt in such a way.
She violently shook her head against his chest. "There's so much blood," she gasped. "She did it right in front of us. I was on the phone… Oh god Damon." He didn't like hearing that. Jenna had killed herself with witnesses. Jenna probably died in front of them, bleeding to death before help could arrive.
He wanted to hide her from the world, to take away all the pain she was in, but he had to take one step at a time. "Come on," he said, gently stepping back and wiping her tears. He hated seeing her cry, and her hands reluctantly released him, her heart at least telling her she needed some comfort even if she couldn't acknowledge it with her mind. "Get your stuff." He moved over to Jeremy and Ric as he ran a hand over his face. "Ready?"
"We should stay," Jeremy said bravely. "There's paper work…"
"No," Damon said shaking his head and resting a hand on Jeremy's shoulder. "You guys are coming home and we will take care of everything tomorrow." His eyes landed on Ric. "I'm serious." He saw Jeremy as a younger brother and Jeremy was Elena's first priority, making him Damon's concern, and Ric was the closest thing he had to real male friend.
"I'm staying," Ric said, shaking his head. "Take the kids home."
Damon sighed and handed the keys to Jeremy. "Take your sister to the car," he said, watching as the two siblings left the waiting room, both leaning on each other for support. "Ric, there's nothing you can do tonight. This isn't where you need to be right now."
"Since when did you show so much concern?" Ric asked raising an eyebrow.
Damon was still asking himself that same question. This was Stefan's thing, not his. "You're my friend Ric," he said evenly. Everything in him was screaming to run and find Katherine and torture her mercilessly, but the man in him was overriding his demon, telling him to take care of the people around him. And he had to listen to it. It wasn't like and Stefan didn't lose people when they were younger.
"When the hell did that happen?" Ric muttered, but he headed in the direction of the double doors.
Damon was glad to see Elena sound asleep against her brothers shoulder in the back seat. He drove back to the boarding house, his emotions conflicting with each other. He wanted to find Katherine and rip her head off. He wanted to rip Stefan's head off for being such a moron. And he wanted to pull Elena into his arms and run away from all this. None of those options was possible at the moment, which just made him internally agitated. Once at the boarding house, he gently scooped Elena up and carried her inside where Stefan immediately advanced on him. "Don't Stefan," he said in a low voice. He didn't want to wake her up. She so desperately needed sleep right now.
"What are you doing with her?" Stefan asked.
If the circumstances were any different, he would have made some smart ass comment, but he just didn't have the energy today. "Taking her upstairs," he said, his feet easily finding each stair as he carried his precious bundle to his room. She mumbled sleepily as he laid her down and covered her up, but she didn't wake up. For that, he was grateful. He had to deal with Stefan, and he knew it wasn't going to be easy. With a deep breath, he headed downstairs, the tension in the room thick in the air. "You have to stay away from Elena."
"Like hell I will Damon," Stefan growled.
In a flash, Damon had his brother up against the wall by the throat. "This is your fault Stefan. You know Katherine. You tried to play her and she was one step ahead of you the whole time. Katherine will keep killing people if you don't stay away from her." His hand tightened considerably. "And I swear to god Stefan, if someone else dies because you're too stupid to swallow your pride and protect the woman you love, I will rip you apart and the hell with the consequences." He dropped Stefan with a shove and took a step back. "So go to Elena's house and grab her some of her things and get Jeremy what he needs." He collapsed on the couch, pulling his cell phone out before dialing Bonnie's number. "Hey Judgy." He told her what Katherine had done and to stay inside. He didn't like the witch really, but she was Elena's best friend which meant he had to look out of her. After Bonnie came Caroline, who made his job so much easier by choosing that moment to walk through the door.
"Why the gloomy faces?" she asked, going to sit by Stefan.
"Katherine killed Jenna," Jeremy said heading to Damon's liquor supply. Ric joined him as well and Damon couldn't blame them. They could drink all they wanted tonight.
Damon got to his feet, his protective streak taking over. "So it'd be better if you stayed here for a few days," he said. "She's dangerous and I have a better handle on things here. No one goes anywhere without checking with me and no one goes anywhere alone."
"How's Elena?" Caroline asked, her eyes flickering to Stefan. She must find it strange that Damon was in charge of things while Stefan just sat back and moped.
"Sleeping," he answered. "I suggest everyone else does the same." And he headed towards the stairs. He himself was tired. His brain was running a million miles an hour and his muscles were tense, ready for a fight, but he forced himself to remain calm. He nearly flinched when Elena rolled over as he entered his room quietly. So much for sleeping. He sat next to her, trying not to crowd her as he took in her swollen face.
"Where's Jeremy?" she asked tiredly.
"Downstairs having a drink," he said softly. "Caroline is here too and I called Bonnie to let her know what happened." He sighed and rubbed his face. "And I sent St. Stefan to your house to get you and Jeremy some stuff." She looked so worn down, all the light drained out of her. She was such a brave, fiery person and in one night that had all been ripped away.
"Oh," she said in surprise. "Thank you."
"I don't know what's going on Elena, but Stefan will stay away from you until we figure this out," he said softly. "I'm sure that's why Katherine went this far. And if he doesn't want me to rip his head off, he'll listen to me." If he had been bright enough to figure out that the two lovers weren't really fighting, there was no way that they had slipped by Katherine. However, he didn't know Katherine would start killing people.
"We're not very good actors I suppose," she mumbled, pushing herself up into a sitting position.
"Horrible," he confirmed. "I didn't think she'd ever go this far Elena. But you and Jeremy are welcome to stay here until you're house is fixed." He didn't know how much blood there was going to be, but he was sure there was a considerable amount. But the emotional damage was done. It would be months before Elena would be able to step foot in her kitchen without hesitation.
"You doing that too?" she asked.
"I'm taking care of everything I possibly can," he said. "So you should just… try to sleep." He already had a mental check list of things that needed to be done. Funderal arrangements would have to be made, there was a ton of paperwork, the house needed to be taken care of, and in reality, Elena and Jeremy were orphans. Again. He'd have to take extra steps to make sure they weren't separated or some such nonsense.
"You really don't have to do all this Damon," she said softly as tears stung her eyes once more but her hand reached out to squeeze his. "What if she doesn't stop? Even if Stefan and I aren't together, what if she goes after Jeremy or someone else?" Killing Jenna had been the warning and Damon didn't know the game yet, so Jeremy was definitely a prime target for her.
"I'm not going to let her do that," he said squeezing her fingers. "I'm going to kill her and that'll be it." Katherine won't be expecting him to turn on her, not completely. Its uncommon for vampires to kill their makers, from the strong bond between them, but Katherine would be the exception. He would take pleasure in killing her. He rose to his feet and gently peeled off her sneakers before covering her once more. "I'll be downstairs. Everyone is safe tonight so just rest."
She nodded sleepily. "Thank you," she whispered, allowing her eyes to close and succumb to sleep she so desperately needed.