The Last Hour
By: Layla Reyne
A/N: I can't thank you all enough for the reviews, favorites and alerts on this story; it's really been a delight to read your thoughts and gauge your interest as this story has gone along.
Special thanks are in order for Elvishgrrl (/u/3495844/) for her tireless beta efforts on these later chapters and her sympathetic ear when my muse was off in la-la-land. Her amazing story Bumps recently concluded in spectacular fashion! Likewise, I very much appreciate the assistance of Deleroux (/u/4176829/), especially when it comes to getting the snarky Damon voice just right. Be sure to catch more of his Damon-mastery in his ongoing story, Gleaming the Cube.
Now, without further ado, Damon brings us home… after some legal mumbo jumbo…
Disclaimer: The characters and other things from The Vampire Diaries are not mine. All due credit to the rightful holders.
Chapter 5 – Confessions
It can't have taken me more than ten minutes to get back to the Boarding House from the graveyard, but as I slow my pace and climb the back porch steps, I see the glow of a fire already burning in the den, and a second later, that too-perfectly dressed, ramrod-straight, stick-up-his-ass Original passes by the windows. I shouldn't be surprised that he beat me here; he is older and faster. But still, did he have to make himself at home like he fucking owns the place?
I don't say a word as I enter, don't even throw a glance his way. My sights are set on something else first. I toss my leather jacket on the back of a chair, grab a crystal tumbler and head straight for the liquor cabinet. The one I'm looking for is tucked way in the back, hidden in the shadows behind other lesser bottles. This one's reserved for "special occasions." When I first lost her, after snapping her brother's neck in a rage-fueled moment of impulse. Before my almost-death from a wolf-bite and after her almost-death the night Stefan threatened to drive her off of Wickery Bridge. After her actual death the night Rebekah ran her and the quarterback off that same cursed bridge. And now, seeing as how the grim reaper may be knocking at both our doors within the next half hour, it only seems fitting to revisit this old friend tonight.
As the smooth sting of the single-barrel twenty-three-year-aged bourbon deliciously coats my tongue and fills my nostrils with hints of spice, caramel and oak, my mind drifts back to the memory of Elena in that graveyard – the feel of her arms wrapped tightly around my waist and her nose buried in my chest, the familiar smell of her hair, tinged slightly with smoke, as I rested my chin against the crown of her head, and the look of certainty in her wide brown eyes and the tone of determination in her voice when she offered to come with me. If it's the last memory I have of her, it's a good one to go out on. I can live, or rather die, with that.
"Do you have it?" he finally speaks up.
I take another swig of bourbon before turning to meet the glare of Mr. Old School Vampire. He's taken a seat in the high-back chair by the fire, legs crossed, with one hand tapping against his knee and the other swirling a glass of what smells like my best highland scotch.
"No, Elijah, I left the only weapon that can kill all of us in the middle of the graveyard in a pile of your hybrid brother's ashes where any Tom, Dick or Hunter can find it," I reply sarcastically, rolling my eyes for added effect, because I know it will annoy him.
"Damon-," he starts, stern and condescending; his Tuesday voice.
"God, man, lighten up. It's my entire bloodline that could be dying soon, not yours. We'll be out of your perfectly-coiffed hair for good. No more of those pesky Mystic Falls vampires causing you trouble. You should be celebrating."
"A few of your line are worth saving," he says, this time more softly, before taking another sip of his scotch. I'm sure I know to whom he is referring. And that very short list does not include me.
I nod, acknowledging our common plight when it comes to certain brown-haired, doe-eyed doppelgangers, before downing the rest of my drink and setting the glass and bottle on the bar table. Retrieving my jacket from the chair, I withdraw the soot-covered stake and pitch it it to him. He snags it out of the air with his free hand, snaps it in half and, without a second thought, tosses the pieces into the fire.
"Seriously?" I exclaim, giving him my best what-the-fuck face. I watch as it incinerates, apparently not impervious to the flames of an ordinary, non-supernatural fire.
"What? You expected me not to destroy it and just wait for some trouble-making vampire or Hunter to get their hands on it again?"
I let slip a resigned grunt. The Original has a point, though I'll be damned if I tell him that.
"And the daggers?" he says, holding his hand out expectantly.
They've been digging a groove into my back ever since I pulled them out of Jeremy's arms and tucked them into my waistband, but that pain isn't nearly enough to risk Elijah knowing their whereabouts.
"Nah-ah-ah," I say, wagging a finger and eyebrow at him. "I believe the terms of our deal were the blood of you and your remaining siblings for the last remaining white oak stake."
"For all the weapons that can kill us," he corrects, standing and straightening his tie.
"And those daggers don't kill you," I counter, pouring myself another glass of bourbon. "Just temporarily incapacitate you. Besides," I add, shrugging as I take another gulp, "you still have two. I'm keeping the other two as an insurance policy."
"In case Rebekah or Kol ever threatens my family again," I answer, coming to stand directly in front of him and staring him down so he understands I am deadly serious. "I don't think you would do anything stupid, but if either of your psycho siblings so much as lays a hand on any of them, including the humans, I won't hesitate to put those daggers to good use and then I'll dump their bodies in the Atlantic. You got that?"
He remains silent, likely considering the foolishness of my threats against any Original, but such are the delusions of a possibly dead-man. His eyes flick toward the ceiling for a split second and then back to mine.
"Understood," he finally concedes, raising his glass. I clink my tumbler against his, agreeing to this fragile détente we've negotiated, and then both of us finish our drinks.
Holding out my hand, I take his empty glass and set it on the bar table with mine. "Always a pleasure, Elijah. Don't let the door hit you on the way out."
When I look back up, he's already in the hallway, leaning against the entry arch with his arms crossed over this chest, and I know that stance. Here comes the lecture, in three, two, one -
"You know, when I considered you and Stefan, I always saw Klaus and myself. The best of brothers torn apart by our love for a woman. You were crazy and impulsive, like Klaus, and I was sure you would destroy Elena, just like Klaus destroyed Katerina."
"Get to the point, Elijah," I sigh in frustration, debating whether or not to pour another drink. I do not need a reminder of my failures right now, much less an analysis of how I compare to that demon-spawn he called 'brother.'
"Maybe I was wrong," he continues, and my eyebrows involuntarily twitch. "Everything you've done tonight is to protect her and her family. That's all you've ever done, even if some of your efforts were… misguided."
"Oh stop, I'm getting all misty-eyed," I sneer, brushing off his backhanded compliment.
"You're an honorable man, Damon," he says, straightening up and heading for the door, before turning around for his parting shot. "If you make it through tonight, you'd be wise not to waste the second chance. And if you hurt her, I will make sure your death is incredibly painful. You got that?"
"Yeah, I got it." Because I really needed to hear it from him, as if I don't already remind myself daily. When I look back up, he's already gone.
Another drink is definitely in order. And a change out of my soot-covered clothes. After refilling my glass, I head up the stairs, stopping briefly to turn on the stereo. Johnny Cash immediately fills the darkness and the Man in Black seems as good a choice as any right now.
I know I should be out the door already, racing to Elena's house, and while there's nothing more I would rather do than spend my last twenty minutes on this Earth in her arms, getting to know every single inch of her, inside and out, before it's too late, I don't do group-kumbayah-we're-all-gonna-be-fine-slash-we're–all-gonna-die-pity-parties. And she needs to be with her family more than I need to be with her.
Or so I thought.
Freezing mid-step over the threshold of my room, I suddenly understand Elijah's momentary glance toward the ceiling. How did I miss the sound of her approach, of her climbing up the oak tree, of her slipping in through my bedroom window? How much of my conversation with Elijah did she hear?
And Stefan was right. As I look at Elena – standing in the entryway of my bathroom in her tattered blue prom dress, a few leaves in her now loose hair, bare feet covered in mud, and eyes desperate and full of unshed tears – I'm reminded of her tragic track record when it comes to school dances.
"Why didn't you go to the house?" she asks.
"Why?" I scoff, stepping the rest of the way into my room. "I'll pass on spending what are possibly the last minutes of my existence with people who couldn't care less."
"Damon, that's not true," she replies, approaching with measured steps. "Stefan cares. I ca-"
"Elena, just stop," I interrupt, waving her off. It's that fucking phrase again – the one at the very top of my least favorite phrases list. "I can't hear this right now."
Swallowing the rest of my drink, I set the empty glass on the bedside table before collapsing into the leather chair, bracing my elbows on my knees and holding my head in my hands, exhaustion weighing down my eyelids. There's a whoosh of air and when I open my eyes, I'm looking down at her muddy toes. It makes me grin a little, and when her fingers begin to gently thread through my hair, the tension in my body instantly melts away, and I can't help but lean forward, resting my forehead against her silk-covered stomach.
"Elena, you should be with your family," I mumble, shaking my head, still trying to convince her, convince myself, that she should be anywhere else but here with me. All the while my arms betray my words, snaking around her waist and pulling her closer to me.
"No, I should be here. I'm not leaving you alone. I'm not letting you go this time."
"Why?" I ask, leaning back to look up at her, and I'm startled by the contrast that is her - the fierce resolve in her voice, the tears that are streaking down her face and the ear to ear smile that threatens to break her face in two.
I reach a hand up to wipe away the tears on her cheek, and she wraps her own lightly around my wrist, leaning into my palm and letting her eyes slip shut. And then she's hiking up the layers of silk and taffeta comprising what's left of her skirt, bringing a knee down on either side of my thighs as she straddles my lap. Taking my face in both of her hands, she forces me to meet those deep brown eyes of hers, full of so much emotion.
"Because it's right, right now. Because you make me glad to be a living dead person. Because you never leave me. Because you consume me."
"Elena-," I start, but the words are caught in the back of my throat, or rather in my chest, somewhere in the vicinity of my heart. This beautiful, infuriating, amazing, frustrating, wonderful, beguiling girl who I met on a deserted road almost two years ago – who enchanted me from that very instant – has rendered me speechless, with my own words no less. How ironic is that?
Then she delivers the coup de grâce.
"Because I love you, Damon," she declares, loud and clear.
And I'm going under, floored by the words I'd only ever hoped, and never honestly thought, I'd hear from anyone, especially not her. And when she leans forward to capture my lips in a searing kiss, her arms wrapping around my neck, one hand clutching my shoulders and the other weaving through my hair, holding me to her, there's no doubting the truth of her words. So I give in, sliding one hand to her lower back, crushing her tightly against me, and plunging the other into her hair, as I kiss her back with every ounce of love and devotion that has been pent up inside of me for far too long, scraping and clawing for the opportunity to get out, to show her that all-consuming love works both ways.
When I feel the growl emanate from the back of her throat before I hear it, it's my turn to break out into a broad smile, unintentionally breaking our kiss. She pulls back, and her face is the most beautiful sight I've ever seen. Her eyes are dark with lust, her cheeks flushed bright pink, her lips plump and red, turned up in a curious grin, and her hair is a wild mess. She brings her hands up to my face again, and it's then that I first notice my own tears, as she wipes them away with her thumbs.
Why the fuck did we wait so long?
As if she's reading my mind, she leans her forehead against mine, her breath mingling with my own, as she whispers, "Damon, I don't want to die not knowing what we feel like."
"I suppose it is technically tomorrow by now, even if we only have ten minutes of it left," I mumble against her lips.
"Better make it fast," she teases, nipping at my bottom lip.
"Oh, I don't think that's going to be a problem," I answer, before our mouths crash together again, desperation and need taking control. I rip the front of her dress open and run my fingers across her heated flesh, and when she gasps at the contact, I plunge my tongue into her mouth, tangling with hers and both of us moan at the contact. Her hips grind down and mine up, and it's clear neither of us is long for this world, be it from pleasure or the powers that be, but hopefully not the latter without the former first. Surely, fate would not be so cruel as to deny us at least one time together.
But just in case, I have to tell her, one last time, while we're both conscious, both here, both in the same goddamn place for once, finally. With every last ounce of willpower I have left in me, I tear myself from her delectable mouth and wait for her soulful eyes to flutter open and lock onto mine.
"I love you."
"I love you, too."
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