Treading into the almost familiar bathroom of the Boarding House, I reminded myself to lock the door securely behind me. In one arm I was balancing a hurriedly chosen change of fresh clothes, and in the other a gloriously clean towel. Precautions were necessary, especially after the last showering incident, and considering who was just outside the door.
As if on cue, there came a twist of the handle that failed to open, and then a soft knock.
My forehead wrinkled in annoyance, yet strangely, the words I yelled at the intruder were of a lighter tone, "Go away!"
I could almost hear him smirk on the other side, "I hardly think that's any way to treat your saviour. Aren't you going to come out and thank me properly?"
I pretended to ponder a moment, "Tempting…but not so much as the concept of having a shower and being clean." Then I switched on the water to drown out the sound of his discrepancy.
I hung the towel on a rack and dumped the clothes into a corner; a pair of faded blue jeans and a short-sleeved white top with the image of a melting heart drawn in black ink.
I peeled off Damon's attire and hopped in; the hot spray running over me like a dream. The troubles acquired over the past couple of days were washed down the drain along with the rest of the grime, and anything that was left snuggled into the back of my contented mind.
About ten minutes later, after I had thoroughly scrubbed myself down, I heard a faint but distinct 'click'. My ears perked up (metaphorically speaking) and I suddenly had the impression that the bathroom door was no longer locked.
Shutting off the water I pulled the curtain back to reveal that my suspicions were indeed correct; although my towel was still in place – thank God – my clothes were missing.
My first reaction was to yell and tear the door from its hinges, but before I could lose control of myself, a better idea bloomed before me. I smiled.
I wrapped myself in the towel and gently prised the door open, no sound was made as I tiptoed to a point directly behind Damon's head. Damon was sat on the couch, holding my top to the light as if inspecting it, I made my move.
With a growl I grabbed a tuft of raven hair and pulled to the side, exposing the side of his neck, and then my fangs were hovering just above the jugular vein. I let my canines retract as I spoke, "Give. Them. Back."
When Damon looked at me, instead of seeing the shock I expected, there was only something that looked a little like pride. His eyes seemed to challenge me; Take them then.
I ran into the bathroom, changed, and ran back, perching myself on the edge of the couch almost instantaneously.
But Damon had disappeared.
I blinked confused. Where and why did he go?
I didn't have to wait long for the answer, because he ambushed me.
By the time I knew what was going on I had already been pulled up from the couch and slammed into the wall. I groped at the hand that coiled around my throat like a cobra, getting ready to strangle the life out of its victim.
Damon's smile was wolfish, "Don't try and tell me what to do."
I glared pointedly at him, "Someone should."
He wagged his finger at me like I was merely nothing more than a naughty child, "Tut, tut, tut. You're in an especially bad mood today."
I sighed exasperatedly, "Damon, I have been kidnapped, starved, tortured, and my clothes stolen by an insanely annoying vampire! So you'll forgive me if I'm a little testy."
Damon slowly yet deliberately moved his hand away from my throat so that it was palm down against the wall, "Apology accepted."
He tried to kiss me there and then but I moved my head back against the wall and splayed my fingers over his chest; preventing him from going any further. A smirk played on his lips although there was nothing but puzzlement held in his eyes. I cocked an eyebrow and smirked myself, then, using speed, strength, and surprise, I forced us both away from the wall and towards the furniture so that he was sandwiched between my body and the couch.
He gasped from the impact, and when he looked at me he was first shocked, then sceptical, as my lips leapt onto his, much like a kitten playing with a lion.
When I broke away the atmosphere had changed and we were both comfortable with each other once again, "Let's play a game," I said.
Damon grinned in anticipation, "Let's."
I grinned back, "I'll ask a question and you answer. Then I'll reward you afterwards."
Damon stroked my cheek with the pad of his thumb as he studied my mouth, "Sounds simple enough. But we take turns being the quiz master, deal?"
I answered bluntly with my first question, "Where is everyone?"
Damon scoffed, "That's your first question?"
I sighed; he always had to make things difficult, "Just answer already."
Damon rolled his eyes, "At the Grill, chewing things over."
"Shouldn't we be there too?" I inquired.
"Ah, ah, ah," Damon pressed a finger to my lips, "That was an unauthorised question."
I attempted to punch him in the chest but it proved futile as he gathered both my wrists in one hand and blurred us both so that I was now trapped in a predicament not too dissimilar to the one Damon had been in not a second ago.
Smugness enveloped his unusually handsome features, "Right, my turn. How is it you ended in the woods a vampire in the first place?"
I swallowed, "You asked me that question before."
Damon shrugged which felt strange and yet pleasant at the same time, "Maybe I did."
I licked my lips, a fleeting movement that was hardly worthy of the description, but Damon saw it, "And I told you I didn't know."
Damon's grip tightened ever-so slightly, "Now Jade, I think we both know that you were lying back there, this time, I want the truth, that's all."
That's all? You have no idea what all is…
I closed my eyes as the memory played in my head like a movie, an old black and white movie that hadn't been shown in a while, "First off, I didn't tell anyone about my mother's apparent 'suicide'. Even at that age, I could figure for myself that no-one could nail themselves to the wall, and that the man who had been by had something to do with it. In fact there was no doubt in my mind that he had killed her, and then set it up to look like a suicide.
Although I had no-where to go I was too afraid to tell anyone, I might've been taken away. Maybe that was a stupid thought, who was there to be taken away from? But to be honest…I was waiting for my Dad.
I still believed he'd be coming back, that's what my mother taught me to believe, so I did. But I also knew that I had to keep on the move, at this point I still didn't know what I was running from, but something was after me, it was only in the past couple of years that I worked it out, that it wasn't human, but in all those years I never even imagined that it could be a vampire!
Still, I kept on the move, never staying in any place long enough to be caught, but that also meant sacrificing my education and any kind of work, so money was out of the question. It was a choice of either subjecting myself to a life of pick-pocketing or living off the land; I chose the latter.
Soon I gave up on the cities altogether and just hiked, stopping off at villages and small towns along the way. As you can guess, this strategy bumped up my time as a fugitive by a good couple of years, but of course, you know that didn't last.
It was in the Old Wood that Klaus finally caught up with me, where you found me."
Damon's expression was unreadable, his eyes like coal as he absorbed the answer he had unwittingly asked for, "I'm sorry," his voice was unwavering.
I shook my head, "No, you're not. And neither am I," his eyes softened and returned to their universal selves as I took his face in my hands, "And believe me when I tell you that I would go through all that again if I had to. I wouldn't change a single thing, you know why?"
Damon leaned in so close our noses were grazing against each other, "Tell me."
I reached up and knotted my fist into his unbelievably black hair, "Because it brought me to you, here. And I can't think of a better place to be."
Damon seemed indecisive for a moment, "I love you Jade, so much."
He was uncertain, not of his love for me, but of how I felt about him. Fortunately, there was no doubt in my mind as I finally uttered the words that were long overdue, "I love you too, Damon Salvatore."
Thank you to all my reviewers, I seriously couldn't have done it without you!