A/N: I'm back! Before the official Author's Note at the end, I want to point out once again that I'm mixing both the books and the TV Series, so in this chapter I'm introducing a character from TVD books. Just a warning. As usual, you know how the disclaimer goes, I do not own TVD or Twilight.


Chapter 1

Have you ever sat on the top of a hill and just watched the sun set? Watch it sink into the mountains? It's like you're witnessing God paint his biggest masterpiece and you're lucky enough to have front row tickets. Every change, every color, every cloud is like a magnificent brush stroke laid on the canvas of the sky with such precision, that it would be incontrovertible to think that it belonged anywhere else.

Snap.

There is something so peaceful and calming that comes after seeing the sun set. It makes me feel safe. Like there's nothing that can hurt me. Sunsets and sunrises had captivated my attention the minute we had arrived in Italy. Every morning I was up, sitting on the nearest hilltop watching the sunrise, and then, every afternoon, no matter where we were, I'd run to the closest mountain and watch the sunset.

Snap.

Damon would sometimes sit and watch with me. Not everyday, but most of the time. I could feel him close by when he didn't sit by my side. He'd watch from a far, giving me my space, but at the same time keeping an eye on me.

He'd been training me. Showing me how to take control over my new abilities. He had taught me how to listen, how to run, how to defend myself if I was ever attacked.

"Keep your guard up, all the time," he had said.

He taught me how to compel, really compel, someone. It was tricky, compelling someone and not leaving any loopholes to the compelling.

"Think of everything," he said.

There are always loopholes. This I had learned when I was still human. Damon would always look for loopholes to whatever I told him or made him promise. Words are tricky. In the end it is all about learning to cover all your bases.

He had made me practice on the poor girl that worked at the villa. Every time I tried, he'd find a loophole to my compulsion and break the poor girl.

In reality, he had become a little more observant than usual about two weeks ago. I had lost my temper while training. He kept attacking me. Not only physically but with words too. He sure did know how to hit my nerves. He did it on purpose. Whatever reason he had behind it worked. Damon is old, really really old. Normally, a young vampire like myself, would never stand a chance when standing in front of a vampire as old as him. But he pushed my buttons, and before I knew it I had straddled him and wacked his head against the hard granite floor, causing them both to crack.

His expression had changed as soon as it had happened. He was surprised. As I realized what I had done, I let him go and apologized immediately, losing the strength that had popped out of nowhere.

Since then, he watched me closely. It was odd. It felt as if he was examining me. Putting me up against little tests here and there. But that sudden strength had never come back since that incident.

We had spent most of our stay in Europe traveling. Every few weeks we'd move around from city to city, country to country. We had been just about everywhere by now.

Damon insisted on me learning as much as I could. He said that right now, I was this sponge, and that I had to absorb all that I could. Learning history made me less ignorant. And old vampires glorified themselves and belittled young ones for being ignorant, for not knowing, for being inexperienced. For being new to this life. And so, he took it upon himself to teach me.

I wanted to learn it all. "Patience," he would say. "You will learn in due time," he would answer when I wanted him to teach me something but he refused saying it wasn't time to learn that yet.

It was quite entertaining visiting historical landmarks and listen to the tour guide give a version of the event that took place there, and then Damon whispering a completely different story, about what really happened. It was amusing.

"Actually, that happened in another city," or, "That happened a century later," or, "the guy was an idiot," or, "That building was built in 1708 not 1630" or, "the real church burnt down in 1645, this is a reconstruction, the real thing, was much more beautiful, majestic..."

My personal favorite however was when he whispered nonchalantly, while at the same time rolling his eyes, "that never happened."

Better yet was his interpretation of art. He had known a few artists. Well, the ones that made the history books anyways, and whose artistic pieces are tucked away in museums all over the continent.

Did you know, the Mona Lisa, is actually a man? I'm serious, he told me.

It's funny, most of the things we are taught are based on suppositions, and conclusions men have made about things other people did hundreds and hundreds of years ago. Damon even told me that some of the most famous historians were vampires, or other supernatural beings who concealed the things that really happened, trying to hide some sort "special" event that had taken place.

It was more difficult now a days, when there were so many ways of documenting news and things that happened. Cameras in every pocket, the Internet, news papers, smartphones. Technology had complicated those cover-up missions. They weren't impossible, just a little more challenging.

Some days we'd walk and walk around cities, sightseeing. I couldn't help but think about how he really saw the places we were in. Were they the same? How had they changed? Had it changed for good? For bad? When would I come back here? And when I did, would it have changed so much I would barely recognize the place?

Time. The meaning of time had captivated me the moment Damon started giving me his history lessons. I couldn't quite grasp the concept of eternity yet. I had asked him about it a few months ago, we were in Rome, we had just visited some landmarks, and I was completely mesmerized with the amount of history the streets had. When I asked him what he felt when he saw the ruins of the places he once saw being built, and what he thought about eternity, he just answered with a small smile put his arm around my shoulder and asked me if I wanted some gelato.

A plus side to this vampire thing, I can eat whatever I want and I don't have to worry about it going places I don't want it to. So while in Italy, I had tasted everything. Everything. Even though food, human food, was never as appealing as blood, I couldn't help but actually savor every bite I took in when I ate. It was fascinating. Though not satisfying.

Damon insisted I read more. Every other day, he'd give me a new book, and when I was done with it, we'd have conversations on our thoughts about it. My thoughts tended to be more or less vague; he complimented them with history lessons. I never thought that Damon would be into books. I don't know, I always pegged Stefan to be the reader in the family. Turns out, Stefan likes to write. Sometimes, whenever I was reading in my room, Damon would come in and lie beside me and read a book as well. We had grown quite comfortable around each other.

For my birthday, Damon had given me an old film camera. He said I had once told him I liked taking pictures. Which surprised me. I said that the first night Elena had invited me over to dinner at her house. I had only mentioned it once. He remembered.

With the whole drama that had happened a few months ago with Victoria on my tail, and the protective detail that was assigned, I hadn't had the time to even use my camera after we arrived in Mystic Falls.

"If you want to learn about photography, you learn the basics, and you learn them well. And in order to learn them well, you have to go back," he said when I opened the box.

Learn the basics, find the origins of the story, go back. That was his advice for practically anything.

"Stay alert. Don't let things sneak up behind your back, learn everything."

So I learned the basics of photography. He taught me how to load the film, how to choose and adequate exposure and shutter speeds, he taught me how to develop it. He even had this darkroom made in the basement of the villa for me. I would spend hours in there when he was gone.

He would leave every other day to run some sort of errand. I'm quite sure it was some Volturi mission. When he got back, he'd go in the dark room and study my pictures. He never said anything. I honestly thought I sucked. Until one day when he asked if he could keep one of the pictures. I didn't know which one he took, he hadn't let me see. But I nodded and he walked out, tucking the picture inside his jacket.

I would take pictures of sunsets, and sunrises, landmarks, people, and just about anything that caught my eye. Damon would snatch the camera away and take pictures of me so that I could later send them to Charlie. Even though he refused and he wined about it, I would ask random strangers to take pictures of the both of us, I wanted to have pictures of my first visit overseas, and I was here with him so he had to be in them.

He always looked serious in the photographs, very few times he would come out smiling… but it was a fake smile, I knew this by now, he had that sarcastic look in his eyes I knew all too well.

All in all, the past few months with Damon had been good. He'd been good to me. I am completely grateful for the experiences I've lived with him, the million things he's taught me, the places we've visited, and most of all I'm really thankful for his patience and company. I couldn't imagine how difficult this whole process would have been if I was alone.

He had indeed taken me under his wing and shown me the ropes.

As the sun set, I took one last picture. Today was one of those days. He was sitting right next to me.

"Are you ready?" he asked.

I nodded and looked over at him, "Where were you today?" I asked.

"Running errands," he answered.

"What kind of errands?" I turned around to face him. He shrugged.

"Why can't you tell me?" I asked.

"You're not ready," he answered.

"Ready for what?" I looked at him.

"You'll know…" he answered cooly.

"When?"

"When the time-"

"is right," I cut him off ending his sentence.

He chuckled.

"You're seriously keeping me out of the loop? It has to do with that thing you said when we left Volterra doesn't it?" I asked,

He didn't say anything, instead he stood up and extended his hand to me, for me to take and get off the grass.

This was one thing I had discovered over the time we had spent together, Damon was a gentleman… deep inside… when he felt comfortable, and his walls were down and had nothing to prove, he was a gentleman.

I stood up with his help, even though I didn't really need it, and as we walked back home he put his arm around my shoulders.

"We're heading to Florence tomorrow," he told me.

"We are?" I asked.

He nodded.

A few months back I had kept asking him when we'd go to Florence. It was the only city in Italy we hadn't visited yet. He would always come up with other plans that had already been made.

"There's someone I want you to meet."

"Okay," I answered.

Over the past months, Damon had introduced me to a few people. All vampires, all very old, maybe even older than him. When we traveled, we had stayed in their homes, they had each taught me something. I even received gifts, gifts that made me quite uncomfortable, but that I couldn't say no to.

"Know the right people," Damon said. "You never know when you'll need them or they'll need you."

There was something about Damon and his connections. He valued them a lot. The older the connection, the stronger the bond. There was always, in each single meeting we had made, a sense of honor and mutual respect between Damon, and whomever he was introducing to me. It was as if they spoke a different language, a language that today was dead, extinct.

We had also received visits from different members of the Volturi guard; most of the visits were from Demetri and Felix, who had long talks with Damon outside.

I had come to realize that they looked up to him, and that they often came for advice. Damon's posture would change dramatically whenever one of these visits occurred. The walls would come up instantly, as soon as he sensed their company was in the midst. How he did that, I did not know, but sure did want to learn how he did it.

Demetri and Felix would often stay for long hours, inviting me to chat with them. I would sit in a chair next to Damon, and listen in on their conversation. Most of it would be in Italian, which I had mastered by now, and understood what they were talking about. They would ask about the things I had learned, and my view on some of the things they discussed. I was intimidated at first; I did not want to sound like an ignorant child when I spoke. Damon had told me to relax, and just be honest, speak my mind.

I knew that whatever was spoken in those meetings would eventually get back to Aro, so every time a question was asked I would answer as best I could.

One thing I noticed from the meetings, was they way they behaved. They too were gentlemen, but inside, they were driven and fueled by something much darker. So I knew and understood why Damon would put up that wall whenever they were around.

They had no trace of humanity left in them.

"It's like a switch," Damon had told me, "You can turn it off and on whenever you like, when things get too heavy, and at some point they will, you can turn it off, and not feel."

Emotions as a vampire were always heightened.

"When we love, we love passionately and blindly, and when we hate we hate ferociously and vindictively. And when we allow ourselves to actually feel, it can become too much, so it's okay to shut down," he had told me.

I guess that's what he did, he shut down emotions when he was with the Volturi, full vampire mode on. It made him less vulnerable, and if Damon hated something, was feeling or being vulnerable. This I understood perfectly.

There was one thing that kept popping up in our lessons. That was embracing my new nature. Damon wanted to let me know that it was okay. It didn't make me less of a person to embrace it. If I knew how to do it wisely, and I learned how to control myself, the consequences wouldn't be bad.

Sometimes he spoke as if he was teaching me things for when he was gone, and I hated it. I hated the tone of his voice when he spoke that way. I had grown so used to being around him that the thought of him not being there made me uncomfortable, like there was something in my stomach that would clench tightly with just the mere thought of him not being there.

We arrived in Florence the next morning, and Damon drove to a house on the outskirts of the city. We were greeted by a man, who hugged Damon tightly. They patted each other's back roughly. Never once, in all of the visits that we had made in the past few months, had Damon greeted anyone like this. They had to be great friends.

"Ah! This must be the girl we've been hearing so much about! Isabella!" he said.

I smiled respectfully and glanced over at Damon.

"Sage this is Isabella, Bella this is my good friend Sage," he introduced us. I shook Sage's hand and in a quick maneuver he turned it around and kissed it.

I couldn't really tell if he was a vampire or not. He didn't seem like it. But I wasn't really sure.

Near the door, was a frail human woman, who must have been in her forties. Sage took a look at her and nodded.

"Please come in," she said inviting us.

We walked into the house after the magic words were spoken.

The house was beautiful, much more fancier than any house we had walked into in our tour of meeting Damon's acquaintances.

He walked us to the terrace and we sat down on some chairs.

"I expect Damon has been treating you nicely?" Sage asked.

"Oh yes, I can't complain," I answered.

Sage nodded. I looked over at Damon, he winked at me.

"Has he been teaching you?" Sage asked me.

I nodded.

"Good," he answered.

Drinks were made, and shared. Damon's and mine were spiced with something extra, Sage's was pure scotch. No spicing for him.

Sage was French. He told stories of his friendship with Damon, some were quite funny and I couldn't help laughing.

"How long have you two known each other?" I asked curiously.

"How long has it been?" Sage asked Damon.

"Four hundred and ninety seven years… give or take," Damon answered, while shrugging.

Give or take. That sounded more like a whole number than like a rounded one. He'd practically known Damon his entire life.

By now, I had learned not to ask a vampire or any immortal being their age. Not unless they insinuated it, or told it themselves.

Most of the morning we spoke about various subjects that rose up one after the other. The relationship between Damon and Sage was, as far as I could tell, one of close friends. Damon didn't have his walls up. Instead he was calm and relaxed. He liked Sage's company. He trusted him.

A little past noon, my phone rang and I excused myself to answer it. It was Elena. I quickly ran almost a mile away from Damon and Sage to have a little privacy.

"Hello?" I answered.

"Hey you!" Elena replied on the other side.

"Hey! How are you?" I asked.

"I'm okay," she answered. There was a sudden drop in her voice as she said it, and I realized she wasn't completely okay. But I let it pass, if she wanted to tall me something she would tell me eventually during our conversation.

"And Stef?" I asked.

"Oh he's doing great too. How's Damon behaving?" she asked. Elena always checked in and asked about Damon's behavior. She also knew what an ass he could sometimes turn into, and she worried he wasn't treating me well.

"Everything's great. Damon has been good," I answered.

She sighed on the other end.

"Elena? Are you alright?" I asked.

She was quiet.

"Yes, I'm fine. I'm tired that's all. School has been really crazy this week. Loads of homework and assignments to hand in," she answered.

"Are you sure?"

Quiet.

"Elena?"

"Oh Bella, when am I going to see you? I'm lonely, I've made a few friends but they're clueless, and I can't talk to them about anything, and they don't understand. And Stefan has made friends too, but they don't seem to like me at all. I miss hanging out with you," she answered.

That was it. She was lonely. She hadn't made any friends. She was no longer the popular girl in school everyone loved. This was college, and it was just hitting her right now.

"Well, why don't you two fly out here for Christmas? That would be fun. We could travel a bit, get your mind off things?" I suggested.

"I like that idea," she answered, her voice a little happier.

She continued telling me the latest gossip Jeremy had told her from Mystic Falls, and as she did, I started overhearing another conversation that was taking place back at the house. I had not intentionally wanted to overhear, the conversation just got to me.

"She's smart," Sage said.

"She learns fast," Damon added.

Were they talking about me?

"Skills?" Sage asked.

"I'm not sure yet," Damon answered.

"She doesn't have them or you're not sure what they are?" Sage asked.

"Oh, she has them," Damon answered, his tone was cocky, was he… proud?

"You've grown fond of the girl," Sage told him.

"She's different," Damon answered, Sage chuckled in reply.

I felt my silent heart skip a beat as he said this.

"That bite on her arm, a cold one's responsible," Sage stated.

"Yes," Damon answered.

"She's had venom in her system," Sage stated in awe.

Damon was quiet.

"Mon ami, you know what that means, what position that puts her in, what position it puts you in."

"I know," Damon said quietly.

They were both silent afterwards.

"It is needless to say that I am at your service while I'm here, stay as long as you want," Sage told him, breaking the silence.

They didn't speak anymore. I finished talking with Elena and hung up the phone. The conversation I had just overheard, had startled me. What were they talking about? What was it with this scar and the venom that had once ran through my system that had them so intrigued?

I started walking back to the house slowly, taking my time.

Was that why Aro had given Damon that warning look when we left Volterra? Was that why Felix and Demetri had been visiting so much? Keeping an eye one me?

I walked up to the terrace where they were sitting and excused myself, I wanted to freshen up before having my afternoon snack. Sage showed me to the room I'd be staying in and I took a quick shower, went downstairs and popped open a bag of my favorite red drink.

"How come you hadn't presented us earlier?" I asked Damon later that afternoon, when we walked to the nearest hill to watch the sun set.

He was quiet for a few seconds and then spoke.

"He was out of town," Damon answered.

"He's… odd," I stated.

Damon looked at me from the corner of his eyes. This meant, go on.

"He's not quite a vampire is he?" I asked.

"The less you know about Sage's past the better, but knowing him now, is the better than not knowing him at all."

Sometimes, Damon decided to speak in riddles. I realized that sooner or later those riddles would solve themselves. So I didn't pay much attention to him when he talked that way. I did however, keep that riddle in mind.

He chuckled.

"What?" I asked.

"You're becoming more and more observant."

"Is that bad?" I asked.

"No, on the contrary, it's good."

I stayed silent as we continued walking for the next few minutes. We found a small hill and sat there.

"Damon, can I ask you something?"

He rolled his eyes, he had told me a million times to ask things directly and not ask him if I could ask something.

"Is there something wrong with me?" I asked him straightforwardly.

He turned to look at me and said, "Well, you talk in your sleep, and your left ear is a little bigger than your right one," he answered joking.

I nudged him.

"I'm serious," I told him, and I decided to be honest and tell him about what I had overheard this afternoon.

"I want to tell you something, and I hope you listen to me when I say this, and please know that I mean every word I'm saying. Damon, there is no one in this world I trust more than you right now. I am completely grateful for absolutely everything you have done for me, taught me, given me. I trust you with my life. I want our relationship to be based on that trust. Because I know you trust me too. So please be honest with me, and not keep secrets, specially when they concern me."

He had his poker face on.

"This afternoon when I was talking with Elena on the phone I kind of overheard you and Sage talking," I confessed, while playing with a strand of grass I had ripped out of the ground.

His eyebrows came together.

"Why is this so important?" I asked and extended my arm, showing him my scar.

"You could hear us?" He asked.

"I didn't mean to, it just happened. One minute I was listening to Elena and the latest news about Mystic Falls, and the next thing I know I can hear you and Sage speaking about skills and the scar and the position I'm in and the position I'm putting you in," I answered a little concerned.

"You were more than a mile away," he said surprised.

"I didn't mean to listen in, I swear."

He sighed.

"I was going to tell you about it once I knew for sure," he started saying.

"Tell me what?" I asked.

"I don't really know how you're going to turn out," he said.

"What do you mean by that?" I asked him.

He frowned, as if trying to find the words to explain.

"Why are the Volturi so powerful?" he asked me.

"Because they are talented vampires… and they're scary," I answered.

"Sometimes, as humans, those talents or skills or abilities or powers o however you wish to call them, begin to show in the most subtle or obvious ways."

"Like when a mind reader couldn't read my thoughts?"

"Exactly."

"So, I showed signs of a possible ability when I was still human?"

He nodded.

"What does it have to do with this scar then?" I asked confused.

"A cold one's venom has a particular way of working. It enters your body and starts the changing process instantly. Because cases like yours are not common, we don't really know how that venom being in your system affected you. It is my belief, that when you were bitten Bella, that dormant ability that was somehow showing, woke up a bit."

"But, wouldn't it have woken up after you changed me?"

"We are made up differently, another set of abilities would have appeared."

"So what you're saying is that, I have them both?" I asked confused.

"Or none. We don't know yet, not until we figure out what the possible first one is," he answered.

"And how do we do that?" I asked him.

"We'll have to figure out what makes it spark."

"So what's my position? Should I be worried?" I asked him, remembering Sage's words.

"Not now," he answered, "Now you enjoy, and learn as much as you can."

When I turned my head around to watch the sun, I realized it had set a while ago. I had missed it. This new discovery made me nervous. What could it be? Was he right? Should I not worry?

"Damon?"

"Yes Isabella?" he answered.

"Thank you for being honest," I told him. He scooted closer and then put his arm around me, while he gave me a kiss on my head. We watched the stars starting to appear on the sky.

Bright and early the next day, after I had charged up my batteries with a freshly squeezed blood bag, I headed outside where Sage and Damon were. They were examining a set of stakes, they looked fancy and incredibly old.

Since I had changed, never once had I experienced the pain of being hurt by one. Never.

"What are you doing?" I asked them.

They looked at each other briefly and then Damon extended his arm, telling me to come forward. He made a spot for me between him and Sage.

"These are the nastiest stakes we have collected over the years. Each one represents a fight we put up against and walked out of," Damon explained.

"You mean, you've been hurt by all of these at some point of your lives?" I asked.

They both nodded.

I stared at the stakes. I took one and examined it. It looked like a normal stake, al though it had a few dents on the tip. I felt a small button on the end of it and pressed it, as I did so, spikes appeared on the tip.

I gasped.

"Yes, not one my finest moments," Damon said chuckling.

"It looks painful," I stated, still staring at the stake.

"It was," he answered.

"You killed him? The person who staked you with this horrible thing?" I asked.

A laugh escaped from Sage's mouth.

"Did you?" I asked Damon again.

"No, I'm still quite alive," Sage spoke up.

Sage had attacked Damon with that horrid and nasty looking stake. When I saw them looking at those stake I thought they had fought together, in the same team, not against each other.

"We weren't always friends," Damon told me.

I continued to explore each and every one of the stakes that were on the table. Some looked so painful I didn't dare ask how they worked.

"Why are you looking at these?" I asked them curiously.

They were quiet.

"Do you plan on using them?" I asked.

Damon nodded.

"Are you going on some mission?" I asked him exited.

"No," He replied.

I looked at Damon and then at Sage. They were both staring at me, waiting for me to draw conclusions from the short answers they had given to each question I had asked.

Then it dawned on me. The stakes were out not for showing, but for training. This was going to be one painful experience. I could tell.

I swallowed and looking at Damon in the eye said, "What are we waiting for? Let's start." He grinned mischievously and rolled up his sleeves.

Before we had even begun, Sage had me pinned to the ground, stake at my throat.

"Mon petit enfant, where's your guard?" He said as he held me down.

"I wasn't expecting that, we hadn't even begun!" I protested between short breaths in a high pitched voice.

Sage got off me and I got up, staring back at Damon who just shook his head.

Keep focused. Never let your guard down.

"Again," I said seriously and so, the attack training started all over again.

After hours and hours of fighting with Damon and Sage separately, simultaneously, without stakes, and then with them. I learned a few things. One, Sage was faster and stronger than Damon. Two, though it was a challenge to fight them, they were holding back on me. Three, stakes, no matter where they hit you, they hurt like a bitch. Four, Thank God I healed fast. Five, if I wanted to own this training I was going to have to work my ass off and practice as much as I could.

"Boom, you're dead," Damon told me as he rolled on top of me.

I was getting upset, I was tired of being the one on the ground with the stained shirt covered with blood from the scratches and small punctures the stakes left when Damon or Sage would hit me. They wouldn't drive the entire stake through me, at least not yet.

"Damon get off me," I told him as I struggled to get away from his grasp.

"Focus," he said sternly.

"Get. Off. Me," I said again, anger boiling up inside. This feeling, the one of being on the weak side made me furious. I hated feeling defenseless.

"So you're choosing to be weak? To be the one on the ground? Begging to be spared?" Damon spat as he took a hold of both my arms.

"I'm done," I told him, "I don't want to do this anymore."

"Poor Isabella, always on the run," he kept on talking, "Doesn't it bother you that you're so fragile and faint and so easy to pick apart?"

I ignored his words, I knew he was doing it on purpose.

"Damon, I mean it. Let me go!" I said squirming beneath him.

"No wonder he left, you're pitiful."

Oh no he didn't.

Anger boiled up inside of me, before I knew it I had flipped him over, my elbow jabbed his nose, and the stake he was holding was now in my hand, driving it through his stomach.

"I'm not pitiful… asshole," I spat as I got up and walked away angrily past Sage, who was just standing there with his arms crossed, expressionless. As I could tell, Damon was still down on the floor trying to take the stake out.

I went to my room, slamming the door shut, changed into a new set of clothes, threw the ones I was wearing away since they were ruined. I jumped out the window and ran as far as I could from that house. I didn't want to be near him.

My mind was racing. Low. Low blow. How could he? Pitiful? Like a charity case? Fuck him.

I'm no charity case.

I stopped running the moment I reached an old torn down villa that was covered with vines and scrubs. No one had been here in years, there was no trace of human scents anywhere. The walls were cracked, the roof was missing tiles, the windows broken.

The minute I started noticing how the light entered through the windows I had regretted not taking my camera with me in my rampage to get out Sage's house.

I opened the door and tested if I could walk in, putting my foot through the door. It entered with no problem.

I took my time exploring it. Each room, each tile on the floor, each texture on the walls, the house had captured my attention, I loved it.

In it's abandonment, the house was beautiful.

When I was done exploring, I sat down beneath the shade of a large maple tree. As I was now calmer than when I left the house running, I started analyzing what had happened with Damon.

We had been fighting for hours, I had not made any improvements since we had started. I was always on the losing end.

Damon was pushing me.

Why did he keep doing that? Pushing and pushing till the point I finally snapped. And when I snapped I had been able to turn our places over, me being on the controlling side and him being on the losing end.

It was like the last incident, in which that sudden strength had appeared out of no-where. He had been pushing me that time too. Except this time I had actually hurt him. I had driven a stake through his stomach, pinning him on the ground.

He was trying to get me to flare that strength again. He had done it all on purpose.

I covered my face with my hands, I had staked Damon. Me.

And he was only trying to teach me. He was an ass of a teacher, but he was doing it to help me.

I suddenly felt foolish for getting as angry as I did. How was I going back to the house and face them again?

"Bella?" I hear Damon say, I turned my head and saw him standing a few feet behind me. His shirt was stained.

He looked down at his shirt and grabbed it by the rim, then he looked up at me smirking.

"Are you calm? Or are you going to stake me again if I sit next to you?" He asked jokingly.

I rolled my eyes and turned my head back to look at the house.

He chucked and sat by my side under the tree.

We stayed quiet for more than a few minutes. In this time, I decided I didn't want to talk about the training session. I knew now that it was all part of his teaching. That making me mad had somehow sparked that strength inside me. That spark that he told me about before, the one we had to find to discover my ability… if I had one at all.

"Isn't it beautiful?" I asked, referring to the house.

He stayed quiet.

"Look at the way the light enters the windows, it's lovely," I told him.

His eyebrows were close together, his face serious.

"Don't you like it?" I asked him.

"It's in ruins, destroyed," he answered.

"I think it's stunning," I told him.

"It has fallen apart. How can you find something so damaged beautiful?" he asked.

"Well… I think that's why it's beautiful. I don't know, it looks lonely," I answered.

He stared at the house intently.

"It can be restored," I told him.

He shook his head.

"Who do you think lived here?" I asked.

"Some rich aristocrat," he mumbled.

I looked at him. He was serious. He did not like this place. I sensed he didn't even want to be here.

"Why don't you like it?" I asked, he glanced at me.

"It's dreadful," he answered.

"Well… it just needs a little love to make it better," I said.

"Let's go," he said standing up.

"I like it here," I told him.

"I came to get you, now let's go," he said grabbing my hand.

"It's just an abandoned house," I told him as I gently pulled my hand away from his grasp. He stood a step behind me, irritated, looking at the house as if he wanted to set it up on fire, "It's not just an abandoned house is it?" I asked.

He was quiet, and I just sat there, staring at him. I realized he really didn't want to be there and that it was best if we left. I raised my hand, and he took it in his, helping me stand up.

We walked away from the tree and crossed the yard. We passed beside a fountain that had a human height statue of a woman whose face was covered by a growing vine; she was accompanied with what seemed to be two small cherubims. The fountain was covered with moss, and grass, and all sorts of little critters that during the years had chosen to live inside it.

Damon stopped in front of the fountain. He stepped inside it and carefully untangled the vine that was growing around the statue's head.

He climbed out of the fountain, and stood by me, staring at the statue. He was quiet, and then he finally spoke.

"That was my mother."

Blank. That was how my mind was at that moment. Never had I heard him speak of anything so private in the time that I had spent alone with him. Never.

He needed to speak, to say something. So I stayed quiet, and let him talk, I figured he hadn't done this before.

"Stefan," he said pointing to the smallest cherubim, "he was two."

So they weren't cherubims, they were children.

"I was eight," he added pointing to the tallest child.

"She died a few months after this thing was made."

"That tree were you were sitting a while ago, that's where we died," he told me, and then turned around and continued walking.

I was in awe.

I just stood there by the fountain. Processing what he had just said.

It was his mother. His mother.

Damon rarely spoke of Stefan.

Damon never spoke of family.

They died there under that tree. Under the tree I was sitting just a few minutes ago.

I realized he hadn't stopped walking so I hurried to catch up with him. Once I did I just walked besides him in silence.

He wanted to leave the house, and now I respected his needs. I had no idea what had happened there. If he wanted, he would tell me. I wasn't going to push him. I know what happens to Damon when you push. He gets irritated, and pissed. He will ignore you and the only thing you're getting from him is that ass version of him, and that was the last thing I wanted right now, Mr. Bipolar coming back into town.

As I lay in my bed that night, thinking of those few short sentences Damon had spoken back at the ruins, I was more sure than ever that Damon trusted me enough to share something about his human life with me. This I valued more than anything. This little thing had me feeling something I couldn't quite name, but it felt warm and good.

Once we had gotten back to Sage's, Damon had retreated to his bedroom. He hadn't fed and I knew he needed to feed he hadn't since our first break this morning. So I got out of bed and decided to make him his favorite nighttime cocktail.

I went up to his room and knocked on the door.

No answer.

I knocked again.

No answer.

I pushed the door, since it wasn't closed shut and peeked in. He was out on the balcony. So I walked over and without even muttering a word just handed him the glass. I had turned around to leave and let him have his privacy when he grabbed my hand and turned me around to face him.

He looked into my eyes, "I had never shared that with anyone," he said.

I nodded, "Don't worry, I won't say anything," I assured him.

He kissed my forehead, "Thank you."

"Damon? When you said 'we died', you meant you and Stefan right?"

He nodded. Elena had once very superficially told me the story, Damon and Stefan had fought and killed each other over Katherine.

"We thought she had killed herself because she couldn't pick one of us, I hated Stefan for putting her in that position, and Stefan hated me in return, we fought, and drove our swords through our hearts."

Tragic.

"She had us fooled, the manipulative little bitch."

"Do you still love her?" I asked.

He scoffed.

"And Elena?"

He looked up to the night sky as if in deep thought, when he didn't answer I found myself feeling strangely disappointed.

"Do you still love Edward?" he asked suddenly.

I looked at him, and I knew the answer to the question, because up until this morning it had been months since a thought of him even crossed my mind. I had learned a lot since my change, and analyzing his actions took up most of my time during those first few weeks. I understood his actions, why he did what he did. I had been infatuated with him, but not anymore.

"No," I answered.

A small smirk appeared and then just as quickly went a way on Damon's face.

"Love sucks," he told me.

"Yes, but would you do it all over again if it ever came along knocking on your door?" I asked curiously.

"Would you?" he asked.

I shrugged, "eventually. You?"

He scoffed.

"What I meant was, if the situation presented itself, where it was only you and that other person, no triangle, no rectangle or whatever shape could appear, to love and be loved just as equal in return," I clarified.

"I don't believe in that," he answered chuckling.

"You've been around long enough, haven't you seen it?" I asked him.

"It's rare," he answered.

"But it happens," I told him.

"Rarely," he answered.

"But it does," I concluded.

He shook his head, normally when he did this was when he figured he couldn't fight my stubbornness. He leaned on the banister of the balcony.

"Damon?"

"Yes Isabella?"

"Are you still lonely?" I asked, though he had never actually confessed to me that he had been.

"Not anymore," he answered as he looked at the moon.

"Damon?"

"Yes Isabella?" he answered glancing back at me.

"I'm not lonely either," I told him with a small smile.

He stood up straight and putting his arms around my shoulders gave me a small hug.

"This never happened," he told me joking. He hated sappy moments like this one.

I shook my head, "What happened?"


A/N:

After a long absence from the amazing world of fanfiction, I'm glad to say that I'm back and ready to begin this new journey. Thank you to all the ones that wrote during the past few months asking for a new chapter. It means a lot to know how much you all love the story.

Reviews are better than knowing TVD returns this Thursday after an insanely long break.

-A.