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Somewhere In Between
Chapter Two: Cool, Collected and Calm
After a two, nearly three years, Damon Salvatore's back in Mystic Falls and not for the reason that everyone seems to think.
Standing under the spray of his hotel shower, washing away the grime of travelling, Damon thinks he's been pretty smart about how he managed to convince, well, pretty much everyone in his life that he needed to return to Somewhere In Between and finish out his characters story to the satisfaction of his fans and himself.
His agent had thought it wasn't the smartest career move he'd made, but agreed that in the lull between his last film and the next one, he could do it. His publicist had rubbed her hands at the thought of spinning it to the public and his manager, Alaric Saltzman, had stayed curiously silent about it all.
Though, Damon gets the feeling Ric thinks he's an idiot for returning to the show that made him famous.
His fans had responded enthusiastically to the news and he was enjoying the resurge in adoration from them all.
But what he was really enjoying was the fact that no-one had even thought that his return to the show could have had anything to do with one of the two main writers of the show.
No-one had remembered that before the string of women he paraded around Hollywood, he had spent his time – too much of it – with the pretty brunette who was personally responsible for the creation of Aiden Smith, the character he'd been lucky enough to play in the show.
Leaning his head back to let the water wash over his face, Damon blows out a little breath as his thoughts turn to the reason why he's returned to Mystic Falls.
He'd decided six months ago – in a surprisingly sober moment on his thirty-second birthday – that it was time to return to Mystic Falls and to Elena and the edge of a relationship they'd danced on before he'd left the show.
It hadn't been all that difficult to reconcile himself with the idea when he'd woken up the day after his birthday because he knows that what triggered him into making the decision to see if he could go back to her was the same feeling in his gut that had been there since he'd made the decision to leave.
The same feeling that had made him miss her oddly and intensely, at random moments since he'd left the show.
There are other reasons, he knows too, that has made him want to come back to Mystic Falls and Elena but some of them are murky and others are much bigger than the simple fact of missing Elena.
Besides, he thinks he's done a pretty good job convincing himself to come back when he's pretty sure the reason for his return isn't going to be thrilled to see him.
He can't blame her, really. He hasn't been the best communicator since he left.
Shaking his head slightly at the thought, Damon decides that he should probably stop thinking about the reasons why he's here and just accept the fact that he's managed to manoeuvre successfully to allow himself the time back on the set of Somewhere In Between.
With a flick of his wrist, he turns off the shower and steps out, reaching for a towel and giving his body a cursory rub down before wrapping it around his waist and stepping into the best hotel room Mystic Falls has to offer.
In terms of what he's stayed in before, Damon's very aware it's far from the best just as he's aware that after fourteen hours of filming, the room will seem as good as any other five star hotel simply because of its hot shower and inviting bed.
As it is, he's appreciative of the fact that his bedroom is in a separate room from what he supposes passes for a living area which opens up onto a balcony which he knows will prove useless given that he'd rather people not know which room he's staying in.
With a shake of his head, he turns his attention to his open suitcase and wrinkles his nose slightly as he realizes before he'd left his previous set, he hadn't given much thought to doing any of his laundry.
It doesn't bother him that much and he adds it to the list of things he knows he's going to have to do before the afternoon and Elena shows up with the script he'd requested be hand delivered.
Reaching in, he yanks out a pair of black jeans and is in the process of pulling them on when a knock sounds on the door.
Dropping the towel on the floor, he fastens his jeans as he moves to the door, having a pretty good idea of who's waiting behind the door for him and smirking at the thought.
Swinging the door open, he meets his brother's irritated gaze and holds the chuckle that wants to escape in.
Stefan glowers at his words. "Were you going to tell me you were back before or after you showed up on set?"
"Before." Damon replies easily, knowing what's ticked his younger sibling off and stepping aside to let him in. "How'd you find out?"
"Forbes? She told you? I thought she was pissed at you?" He asks, shutting the door and heading for the mini-bar.
Stefan shrugs at his words. "Indirectly. Someone overheard her talking about it and you know how those things spread. So I called Ric."
Opening the fridge, Damon reaches in and yanks out two sodas and offers one to his brother. "Ah. Who told you I was back before I had a chance."
"Which you would have if you bothered to answer your phone." Stefan replies, accepting the soda. "Why didn't you answer your phone?"
"Shower. How'd you get off set so quickly?"
"They were reshooting something with Lexi and didn't need me." His brother replies and Damon takes another gulp of his drink, eyeing Stefan thoughtfully.
Younger than him by five years, Stefan had followed him into acting when he'd chosen a profession he knew would piss their father off and had settled comfortably into the role of Jack four years ago, when they'd both been cast in the drama.
Brothers by the same father neither had inherited the look of him, instead both in looks and personality, they took after their mothers. Damon inheriting his mother's dark hair, impossibly blue eyes and devil-may-care attitude and Stefan inheriting his mother's unruly hair he gelled into proper shape, serious mouth and thoughtful tending towards brooding personality.
They are, Damon muses, opposites in nearly every way from Stefan enjoying the predictable and he throwing himself on board with the unexpected to his brother's preference for the newer types of films where he prefers the old and the undeniable difference in what they do in when they both have a break from work. He still doesn't understand how his brother can enjoy spending two weeks relaxing on a beach when he'd go crazy after two days.
Still, it's the opposites which make them who they are that allow them to be so close and he knows that his brother was pissed he hadn't been informed of his decision to return to the show.
Even if it was for a very good reason.
"So you just walked off?"
Stefan scowls at him. "No. I told Elijah where I was going. He seemed surprised I didn't know you were coming back for, what is it?"
"Six episode arc. You know, to lay Aiden to rest peacefully and allow Jack and Arianna to get it on."
Ambling over to the lounge, Damon settles himself down into it and gestures for his brother to do the same. Stefan eyes him carefully before choosing the armchair that looks too hard to be comfortable.
"We're not going to get it on anytime soon."
"Why?" He raises his drink to his lips and then catches the look on Stefan's face. "You pissed Barbie off again, didn't you?"
His brother scowls at him. "I had an early call time and forgot to tell her. I kind of left her alone in my apartment this morning."
Damon snorts. "Jesus Stefan, do you have a death wish? She trapped Jack in a hole last time you did something like this."
"I know. I know. But I needed to get to work and then I found out about you so I'm going to have to find a good box of chocolates to go with the flowers." Stefan defends himself, raising one hand up and grinning only a little.
Damon narrows his eyes. "Her favourites, no doubt. Has she figured out just how much you know about her yet?"
Stefan shrugs again, the grinning softening only a little into something different and Damon has to hold back the snort as he realizes his brother has stuck to his plan of wooing Caroline Forbes gently, without her realizing just how many of his ideas come out of her mouth, time and time again.
"No. Why would she? Most of the things have been her idea."
"Bullshit. Most of the decisions she's made that you've told me about have been your ideas coming out of her mouth. She's going to be pissed if she ever figures it out."
Stefan smirks at little at his words. "Which she never will because as far as she's concerned we haven't even reached her version of a 'serious relationship' yet. Which means – "
"By the time she figures it out, I'll have the human version of Barbie as my sister-in-law." He rolls his eyes as he finishes Stefan's sentence, enjoying, immensely, the way he and Stefan always pick up right where they left off when they see each other again.
It is one of the most solid, immobile things in his life and a comfort to him whenever the life he leads catches up with him.
"Yep. And she'll complain about being stuck with you for the rest of her life just as much as you will."
He shoots his brother a dark look and watches as Stefan grins and takes another gulp from the can. Damon relaxes a little more and idly watches as Stefan's eyes turn thoughtful then curious as his brother begins to wonder why, exactly, he's come back.
"Are you going to tell me why you've suddenly decided to return?"
"Never one to dance around the question, huh, Stef?" He wants to believe he's sidestepped answering nicely and then sees the look Stefan's giving him. "Oh, God, please. Not that look." He groans.
Stefan narrows his eyes good-naturedly, leaning forward in his seat to eyes him. "That look has served me well when it comes to you. Are you going to tell me or do I have to guess?"
Damon wonders, briefly, if his brother has any idea how old he sounds when he asks questions like that. He doubts it just as he doubts that sometimes, Stefan's taken for the older brother by just about everyone, given his serious nature.
"Guess." He replies with a smirk then sighs. "You figured it out, didn't you?"
Stefan settles himself back into his seat with a smirk. "Actually, I didn't have to. I was there for your birthday. I just didn't think you'd go through with it."
Damon has to force himself not to wrinkle his nose. "You mean like all the countless other things I've decided to do and never gone through with? Like, deciding to piss Dad off and go into acting?"
Stefan's silent for a moment and Damon thinks he's going to get at least a 'touché' from his brother and instead, receives the furrowed brow that tells him Stefan's been thinking and brooding over the decision he'd made six months ago.
"I didn't think you'd want to come back to her, that's all." His brother says quietly. Actually, Damon decides watching him, he starts. Meaning a whole lot of thought is about to spew out of his brothers mouth and he needs to head it off.
"Well, apparently, we were both wrong. Me for thinking I could leave and not come back in the first place and you for believing that I wouldn't want to come back to her. See what a difference a year and a half makes?" He doesn't bother to disguise the warning in his voice as he speaks and he's grateful when he sees Stefan register it and heed it with a slight incline of his head.
Suddenly restless at knowing his brother knows, Damon stands to move as Stefan speaks. "How many people know the reason why you're here?"
He shrugs. "You. Maybe Ric. No-one remembers her, Stefan and I want to keep it that way until I figure out what the hell I'm doing."
Stefan stays silent as he wanders over to the window, cradling the can of soda against in his hand and wishing, only slightly, that Stefan didn't know him or his life so well. It would be easier to carry out whatever the hell he needed to carry out with Elena Gilbert, if he could do it without anyone knowing, at least for a while.
"But she is the reason you've come back, right?"
He stands silently for a moment longer before nodding sharply, once.
Elena stands in the elevator of the hotel he's staying at, her handbag over one shoulder and the new script and outline for his storyline, clutched in her hands.
After she'd worked through the shock of hearing the Damon was returning to the show and handing off most of the rewrites to Caroline, she'd managed to hammer out both the outline demanded and a script.
Mostly set from Arianna's point of view.
It had been surprisingly easy to get over the blank document she'd started with and have feelings of shock, anger and terror pour out onto the page in a rough draft she'd written in under two and a half hours.
Of course, all those feelings had been Arianna's – not hers – upon seeing the carelessly cool Aiden stroll into the diner she worked at and ask for coffee and her number in a scene reminiscent of the first time they'd met.
Aiden, she imagined, would expect the fumbled response and slightly stutter of a girl shocked at seeing past lover casually sitting there and then be stunned by the cool reception Arianna had schooled herself into giving him as she'd approached.
It would, Elena knew, make the audiences beg from more because after, Arianna would go outside and force the tears away because the pain of seeing him again was almost too much to handle and the sympathy would be placed firmly on Arianna's side until Aiden's leaving was explained.
It was perfect, it was powerful and it would show how affected the character was at facing one thing that everyone dreads happening to them.
It was not something she is going to do.
In love with Damon Salvatore or not, Elena knows she's not going to show him anything but professional courtesy and maybe hint, only hint, at what they'd previously shared.
She was, she'd decided on the way over to the hotel he was staying at, going to be cool, collected and calm about seeing him again.
And she was not going to disappear somewhere and force tears away if he was as impersonal to her as she was going to try to be with him.
Hearing the elevator doors slide open, she takes a deep breath as she steps out onto Damon's floor and heads in the direction of his room. Briefly, the thought that maybe he won't be there flies through her mind before she shakes it away and squares her shoulders as she comes to a stop in front of his door.
With another deep breath, she raises her fist and knocks on the door.
Elena doesn't realize she's holding the deep breath as the door swings open, almost in slow motion and he appears in front of her.
In the same moment she lets the air out, she forgets to be cool, collected and calm as she's faced with Damon Salvatore in nothing but black jeans.
Her voice comes out squeakily and Elena suddenly doubts she's not going to find someplace around the back to force away tears as his lips curve.
A/N: So basically, I'm a horrible updater who lets real life get in the way. And my other story. I'm sorry about that but hey, thank a very awkward meeting with someone from my past for this. For some reason, it spurred me on. Anyway, I hope you guys liked this chapter! I'll try and be quicker next chapter. Well, lets hope I'll be quicker next chaper!