Cut and Dried

Summary: Damon and Elena run into an enemy with a definite ax to grind. Can they save each other before it's too late, or will the past do more than just haunt them… Post 3.2

And here it is, all wrapped up. I was considering an epilogue, but I think this'll get the job done. Thank you for every single review. Y'all make it worth the effort to come up with a story.

Chapter Eight


"Damon…"

His dried lips drew back and Elena got a front row view of his fangs in all of their terrifying glory. Her heart was hammering in her chest which couldn't be helping matters. To a starving vampire she had to look like a buffet on legs. Right at that second, feeling Damon's ravenous stare, she was pretty sure Alaric had been right and she was a suicidal idiot.

"Damon, it's Elena," she said calmly. "There's blood right beside you. Lots and lots of blood. Remember? I brought it up because we knew you would need it after the spell."

He actually hissed at her, and she had a horrible feeling the only reason he hadn't already attacked her and drained her was because he was nearly petrified he was so dry.

Elena edged her way toward the blood bags, Damon's hawk-like, predatory eyes on her every step of the way. She grabbed the closest bag, opened it so the blood would flow and tossed it to him. Instinctively, his hand snapped up to catch it. He brought the bag to his lips and drained the bag in a matter of seconds.

Elena leaned down to grab another bag and when she stood up, Damon was inches from her, staring down at her hungrily.

"Damon." Her voice trembled and there was nothing she could do about it. She was looking at a dried corpse instead of her sometimes friend. "It's Elena. You don't want to hurt me."

Damon's hands reached out and grasped her shoulders in an iron grip. He pulled her closer so they were barely a breath apart. He raised his head slightly and she knew he could smell the dried blood in her hair. When that didn't seem to hold his interest, he leaned down and Elena flinched when the side of his face brushed hers. His lips skimmed across her cheek then downward settling on her neck in a feather-light caress that wasn't quite a kiss, but was just as unsettling.

Elena waited for him to strike. She could feel his cool breath against her neck and knew that her life hung in the balance.

"Damon?" she whispered.

He straightened and one of his arms snaked around her waist and pulled her flush against him. Elena gasped and tried to free herself, but he was too strong. His other hand dropped lower, gliding down her arm. She shivered at the contact, all the while keeping her eyes on his as he watched her, feeling like a mouse waiting for the cat to pounce. His hand simply continued its slow glide down her arm until finally he reached her hand. He grasped the blood bag she was still holding and pulled it from her tightly clenched fingers.

"Thank you," he said, his voice a dry rasp.

Immediately, Damon released her and stepped back. He raised the blood bag to his mouth and tore into it, draining it quickly. Elena didn't wait. She picked up another and threw it to him. For several minutes it was like an assembly line. He drank while she readied the next bag. When she saw the supply was running low, she ran for the basement and brought more. Damon drank and drank until he was almost pink.

Finally, Damon tossed the last bag down, threw back his head and let out a shout of pure triumph. He then scooped Elena up in his arms and twirled her in a circle, bursting with exuberance as he danced her around the room.

"Are you crazy? Put me down!" Elena screeched. Her heart was still banging away in her chest, going from absolute certainty that Damon was going to drain her dry to certainty that he'd gone insane and would kill her accidentally when he forgot she was human and breakable.

Damon set her down and to her shock he was wearing an honest to goodness smile. Damon just didn't do… pleased. The sight was so beautiful, Elena had to give him a smile of her own.

"Well, that went well," he said.

Elena just shook her head in disbelief. "No one's dead anyway. Is that our new measurement for success?"

"The witch is dead," he reminded her. "I, for one, definitely put that in the success column."

"How do you feel?"

"Like I just got done with Thanksgiving dinner, but without the turkey hangover."

Elena could believe it. She'd never seen him with such color to his skin. He looked almost… healthy.

"I haven't felt this good since I-"

"Since you what?" Elena asked suspiciously when he cut himself off.

Damon's mouth twisted into his more normal smirk. "Since I did something naughty that you certainly wouldn't approve of." He raised a hand to stop her. "Now, now. I wouldn't do anything like that again." He raised one brow. "Probably."

Elena's eyes narrowed in warning. "Probably?

"Well, at least not while you're watching."

"Damon!"

He smirked and it was the old Damon and she couldn't even stay mad at him. She was too glad he was better.

"What's going on?" Alaric demanded as he stormed down the stairs, a stake in hand. "I heard yelling." He pointed the stake at Damon. "You, get away from her!"

"Ric," Damon's voice was low and dangerously controlled, "I'd suggest you quit pointing that thing at me. My tolerance for people staking me is now beyond nonexistent."

"It's ok, Ric." Elena hurriedly stepped between the two men. "It's fine. We already used the spell. Everything's ok now."

Ric moved to one side, never taking his eyes off Damon. "Did he hurt you?"

"No," Damon said indignantly and at the same time Elena said, "Of course not." Granted she wasn't sure whether or not she'd been the vampire equivalent of groped, but she definitely wasn't going to tell that to Alaric.

Ric looked past them to the near mountain of blood bags discarded on the floor. "The spell worked?"

"Once again," Damon said dryly, "rhetorical or idiot. Take your pick."

"Unbelievable." Ric finally let the stake fall back to his side and shook his head. "That was stupid. Both of you." He gave Damon a glare that promised they were going to have a serious talk later. "You could have killed her."

"I didn't," Damon replied, and Elena could hear what almost sounded like pride in his voice.

Ric let his breath out slowly and ran a hand through his hair. He looked exhausted and Elena remembered that he'd looked rough even before the wreck and getting tossed around by the witch.

"Why don't you go back to the house?" Elena suggested, taking pity on him. "Get some sleep. Wait… your car." She'd forgotten that his SUV was wrecked.

"I've got a rental," he said. "Come on. I'll take you home."

"Actually… You go ahead." Elena cast a glance in Damon's direction. For some reason, she couldn't bring herself to leave him just yet. "Don't worry. I'll be right behind you. I'm dying for a shower."

Alaric frowned in displeasure, shooting Damon another glare, but finally his exhaustion seemed to win out over his annoyance with their behavior. "Fine," he said in defeat. "I'm leaving." He slowly made his way toward the door, muttering the whole time and Elena definitely heard the words, "Idiot kids," somewhere in the middle.

"Aw." Damon smirked, looking very pleased. "I think Daddy's mad that we had a party while he was out of town."

"Do you enjoy rubbing everyone the wrong way?" Damon simply raised one eyebrow in answer and Elena rolled her eyes. "Of course you do."

"Well, certain people," he sidled a little closer, "I enjoy rubbing the right way." He gave her a wicked grin. "Does that make you feel better?"

Elena backed up a step to keep a good distance between them. "Funnily enough, no."

Damon accepted the censure easily as he always did, but he gave her one last heated glance that sent a shock through her body before he turned away. "Fine," he sighed dramatically. "You should probably toddle off home anyway. I have no doubt Ric will be standing on the porch tapping his foot until you get there, just in case I had a sudden relapse and," he widened his eyes for effect, "assaulted you."

Elena rolled her eyes, knowing full well that Damon was trying to make her uncomfortable. And maybe at another time it would have worked, but at the moment, she was grateful he was happy and healthy and able to make lewd comments. Her life wouldn't be the same if he weren't.

As had happened on a few occasions, she had a sudden desire to hug him and that, she decided, was definitely her cue to leave.

"Goodbye, Damon," she said and headed for the door. "I'm glad you're ok."

"Wait." Damon jogged after her. He stopped beside her just inside the front door. "Here." He held out a set of keys. "Take my car. Ric drove it back from the Grill when he wrecked his."

In all of the disasters, Elena had completely forgotten about something so mundane as where her car was. Either Ric or Caroline or someone had taken it home, or it was still parked outside the Grill.

"Won't you need it?" Elena asked.

"I'll come get it in the morning."

Damon held the keys in the palm of his hand. He took Elena's and transferred the keys as if they were shaking hands and Elena almost gasped at the contact. He kept their hands together longer than was necessary, finally placing his other hand over hers as well.

Damon waited for her eyes to meet his. "Thank you," he said solemnly, "for today."

"You're welcome." The phrase was just close enough to remind her of the last time they'd said those words and her eyes dropped of their own volition to his lips. Every warning bell she had went off in her head and she immediately stepped back, pulling the keys from his hands. Now that Damon was well, the boundaries, physical and otherwise, had to be immediately reinstated.

Stefan, Elena mentally chided herself. She couldn't afford to be distracted like this. She couldn't. They had to find Stefan. They would find him and they were going to drag him back and make this right. Things were going to go back to normal.

Once again she had the traitorous thought that these things never seemed to work that way. Not in her life. But she liked to pretend. She needed to believe it, because anything else was unacceptable.

But looking at Damon who was watching her so closely with his beautiful eyes that always saw far too much, eyes that drew her in and made her want to stay, all she could think was that maybe it wasn't so cut and dried anymore.


There you have it. Hope you enjoyed the story. Thanks for reading!