Damon froze when he finally returned from a meeting with Liz and he was positive there was not lights everywhere when he left. The banister leading upstairs had green garland and white Christmas lights snaking all the way up, his nose picking up the distinct smell of pine. He growled as he came into the living room, seeing Caroline moving around like she owned the place. "What are you doing?" he asked, folding his arms.
She barely paused in her decorating to acknowledge him. "Bringing some Christmas cheer to this doom and gloom of a house," she said, tucking her hair behind her ear. She acted like it was no big deal, that she wasn't knee deep in decorations in the house of the Scrooge. He was going to wring her neck like a goddamn chicken.
"I only just told your mother I wanted nothing to do with the Christmas activities, so what are you doing, Caroline?" he growled. He just wanted to sit in front of the fire with a drink and not care about anyone today. Apparently his newest vampire didn't think that was going to be a good idea.
Caroline sighed as she glared at him, her bracelets reflecting the sunshine from the window as she rested a hand on her hip, clearly annoyed with him being so stubborn. "You know, if you want to win Elena over you should be nicer to her friends," she said. "Elena loves Christmas, don't you know that?"
He rolled his eyes and poured himself a drink. "I'm aware," he said. Of course he was aware that the love of his life's favorite holiday was Christmas. He also knew that she wasn't in a celebrating mood this year. Their first year without Jenna, Stefan. Ever since the dreaded month of December had rolled around, he had been wracking his brain to come up with someone special for her. Maybe even enough to win her. Even though she was the one who said they had to let go of Stefan, that didn't mean her heart wasn't broken. He just didn't know how to help her.
"Then its only natural that it look like Christmas around here," Caroline said with an obvious tone. "She says she not depressed over Stefan, but she's upset about something, so its up to me and… you to make sure she has a good Christmas. She spends most of her time here with you and it's the biggest place for a get together. It makes perfect sense and you know it."
"Why me?" he pouted. "I have my own ways of giving her a good Christmas. And no parties. People trash my house when they come." Nothing a cleaning lady couldn't fix, but he hated having his house packed full of teenagers. Human teenagers.
"It's just going to be group. Not a party. Damon," Caroline said. "You're not fooling me. You're all she has left. You don't have to help me decorate, but you do have to go shopping with me. We're going to make Elena feel better. This the responsibility you take when you chose to make her the center of your world. You have to do the less horrifying things, like shop for her. Not save her life."
Damon sighed and drowned the rest of his drink. "I can't believe I'm agreeing to this," he muttered. But she was right. If he wanted any kind of relationship with Elena he was going to have to play nice with her friends and do more human like things.
Caroline clapped her hands and went back to her decorating. "I still don't really like you, but I know that you really care about Elena, I know you'd protect her no matter what. And… I know that she would do the same for you, and it wouldn't be my place to judge her. But if you hurt her, I will kill you."
"I'm sure you all would," he said, rubbing his face, collapsing on his couch, dropping his head on the back of it. He would never hurt Elena. His demon would never allow him to lose such control with her ever again. "I don't want to push her. Regardless of what she feels for me, she was in love with Stefan." Elena cared about him, she didn't hide it. But that didn't mean she felt the same for him as she did for Stefan.
"She's over him," she said tacking lights around the mantel. The girl really had knew what she was doing at least. "I mean, she wants to help him, she cares about him, but not romantically."
Damon narrowed his eyes at her. He was pretty good at picking up hints, and Caroline just dropped a boat load. If Elena was over Stefan, and telling her friends, that was a good sign. "So that means what?" he asked. "She knows how I feel about her Blondie. No one is stopping her from coming to me."
"Exactly," Caroline said hopping over to him. "So she needs a push. Come on. We have to pick up some stuff in town."
Elena listened to Ric as he talked about Christmas, some get together the gang was having, as they left the grill carrying dinner for the three of them for once. She paused outside, immediately feeling a familiar sense wash over. She automatically smiled feeling him near her, but then when he saw her across the road, laughing with Caroline, holding two boxes. Of course her friend saw her and dragged the brunette vamp over to them. "What are you guys doing?" she asked, wincing at how scratchy her voice sounded.
"Just some Christmas shopping," Caroline said, digging through her huge purse.
"You hate Christmas," Elena said softly as she stared at Damon. And you hate Caroline. "And… I thought you had plans today."
"I did," Damon said, glaring at Caroline. "She ruined them."
Elena could feel the lump growing and growing in her throat. This could not be happening. She stared back and forth between them, feeling this horrible ache in the pit of her stomach. She knew her friend was upset about what happened with Tyler, and Elena didn't blame her. But Caroline was the one who said that she was in love with the other brother, so why were they hanging out, looking like they had their hands in the cookie jar together. "Well I can come over later," she said carefully. "Trying to see how this family dinner thing works."
"Text me when your done," Damon said. "I can come over since it's a school night. The Boarding house is a disaster. Caroline."
Elena raised an eyebrow. "What do you care?" she asked. "Don't you get a cleaning lady anyways? Who wears a French outfit that is way too short?" She meant it to be funny, since he knew he didn't have the skanky housecleaners over anymore. Since Andie had passed away, his sole focus had been her, and that meant making her comfortable and having half dressed girls around wasn't her idea of fun.
"It's not that kind of mess," Caroline said, yanking on Damon's arm. "Come on. We're not done."
Elena barely had time to say goodbye before both vampires were gone. She blinked rapidly as she joined Ric in the car. "Did I imagine that?" she asked, rubbing her forehead. Not that kind of mess? What the hell did that mean? Every thought she had sounded worse than the one before it. Caroline… wouldn't sleep with Damon again, especially not now. She and Damon had come so far together and she just couldn't believe just like that it could be over. How long would he wait for her before another girl put the moves on him? Why should he say no?
"Elena?" Ric's voice scared the crap out of her, and she realized she had missed the drive home. "You look white as a ghost."
She turned her head toward him. "I'm fine Ric," she said softly, grabbing the takeout bag and heading inside. She didn't want to talk to him about this. She didtn want to talk to anyone. She just wanted to forget what she saw or what she thinks she saw.
"You don't sound fine," Ric said softly following her to the kitchen.
"Do you think she's sleeping with him?" she blurted, with a blush. God she needed to work on her self control. Because if that didn't sound pathetic she had no idea what would."
"Uh…" Ric paused to look at her. "Do I think… Caroline? is sleeping with who?"
Elena raised an eyebrow, at his confusion. "Damon," she whispered, feeling the tears stinging her eyes. "He hates Christmas Ric. Hates it. And he hates Caroline. Okay maybe he doesn't hate her. But he doesn't like her. He thinks she's annoying and talks to much."
"Whoa slow down," Ric said, raising his hands. "They are not sleeping together."
"You don't know that. You haven't hung out with Damon recently. He could be lonely," she said shaking her head. "They were flirting. And talking about some mess at the house that had to do with Caroline, but "not that kind of mess" for a cleaning lady."
"I do know that," he said taking a step toward her. "Damon would never hurt you like that Elena." And he paused. "God he must really be my friend. But I think you read too much into it. I'll ask him, he tells me a lot when he's drunk."
Elena felt her posture relax a little bit, trying to believe what Ric was saying. "Okay," she said, as the Jeremy came home. "I'm going to wash my face quick then we can eat." She disappeared upstairs, wincing at her reflection. Her eyes were bloodshot and starting to swell a little bit. She splashed cold water on her face, pressing a fluffy towel to her eyes. Damon loved her. He told her. Well not recently, but she knew he still did. And whatever Caroline was going through with Tyler, she wouldn't turn to Damon. She just wouldn't.