A/N: Before reading this chapter, you may want to refresh your memories of the various car incidents Elena has been in: her parents' car crash, the bird scene with Bonnie in the pilot when they're driving to school, swerving to avoid the vampire after finding out she looks exactly like Katherine, Vicky trying to barbecue her, Stefan and Wickery Bridge, Matt swerving to avoid Rebekah. (Judging from that recap, Elena really needs to find an alternate mode of transportation!)
Also-I improvised dialogue between Elena's parents and bad weather for the original car accident. It was all misty and foggy when Elena spoke to Damon on the road, so maybe it's plausible a storm was rolling in?
There had been a time not so long ago when Elena woke gradually from sleep. That slow ease into the morning, where first she felt the sun on her face, followed by the sound of her alarm clock or Jeremy wandering the hallway, before finally opening her eyes-that had died when she did, replaced by an immediate consciousness the moment a sound or a scent drifted her way.
Crammed up against the bus window as far as she could get from the unwitting passenger beside her, Elena's subconscious caught the thick aroma of blood, so near it might almost have been under her own skin. That was followed by an instant awareness of a heavy body reclined upon hers.
Elena bolted upright, knocking her sleeping seatmate from the perch he'd established on her breast. He slammed back into the seat, eyes flying open in confusion and widening as he saw the look on Elena's face. Hunger descended on her so quickly she had no chance to fight it. She grabbed her prey's shirt and yanked him back into her, simultaneously pinning his shoulder in a viselike grip and tearing his shirt aside. The man barely had a chance to cry out before she dived toward his meaty neck.
Her mouth had just connected with skin, bypassing the sweat-slick surface and its adjacent tendons in search of the pulsing artery that had disrupted her dreams, when Elena's hypersensitive senses picked up on the skid of nearby tires. Caught between feral hunger and recent recollection, she paused uncertainly.
Two horns sounded a warning-one small and distant from outside, one loud and near at hand, reverberating all around the confined space-followed by a violent swerve by the bus to the left. People screamed, lurching to the right when the driver overcompensated and the vehicle veered sharply, then left again, then right, before shuddering down a steep incline and colliding with something unyielding that shattered safety glass along with human bodies.
Passengers tumbled every which way, their high pitched cries soundtracked in Elena's mind by metal crumpling, plastic shearing, bones snapping and body organs rupturing. Her fangs were torn from the man's flesh but her fingers somehow weren't. They catapulted from the seat still locked together, bodies spiraling in a twisted tango that ended when a flying suitcase smashed into Elena's head and she blacked out, lost in a confused tangle of memories, some which she hadn't even known existed.
Windshield wipers pulsing steadily.
Slow down, Grayson. Maybe we should've waited for the storm to pass.
Oh my God. Elena, are you okay?
Rain reverberating off metal ceiling.
We're fine, Miranda. The car needed a wash anyway.
It was like a bird or something; it came out of nowhere.
Oh. You-you just look-I'm sorry.
Hello, Damon. She's a little busy right now.
It's the only way I was gonna get you in this truck.
You just really remind me of someone.
Flash of lightning through a saturated window pane.
I'm making my next move.
I'm sorry, Elena, but you're right, okay? You don't have any parents to tell you what's right or wrong.
Let me ask you something. What's Klaus gonna do if he can't make anymore hybrids?
You've got me and Jeremy and a bunch of vampires fightin' a war you shouldn't be in the middle of.
You're one to talk. You're out here all by yourself.
Phone out the window.
I took Klaus' family to make him suffer. I'm not gonna let him make himself a new one.
I'm getting you out of town, Elena. It's the only way to keep you safe.
You want what everybody wants.
Maybe I'll just turn you into a vampire.
This isn't how our lives were supposed to be, Elena.
Let's just say I've been around a long time. I've learned a few things.
Honey, watch out, that puddle looks deep!
Tell your hybrids to get out of town, Klaus.
You want a love that consumes you.
Okay. Well then I'm gonna drive your blood source off of Wickery Bridge.
Elena. Damon's not with them. He's 100 miles out of town.
You want passion. And adventure. And even a little danger.
Torn human flesh forced against lips.
I just fed her my blood. No more hybrids if she's a vampire.
I can keep driving to him, or I can turn around and go back to Stefan. It's your choice.
I want you to get everything you're looking for.
Sensation of being airborne.
Really? Try me. Because your coffins are next to go.
I see all the geniuses came out to the bonfire tonight.
But right now I want you to forget that this happened.
Silver and blue flames.
Say goodbye to your family, Klaus.
Elena! Elena! Open the door!
Can't have people knowing I'm in town yet.
Headlights reflecting off the water's surface as it closes in.
Good night, Elena.
Man in the road. Brakes squealing. Windshield imploding. Shadowy figure approaching. Screaming. Familiar blue gaze, narrowed with worry.
How you doin' in there?
Jumbled feelings of fear, shock, pain but most of all, relief.
"Oh my God. Is everybody okay?"
The high-pitched question was so inane, it dragged Elena from the watery grave of her memories. She forced her eyes open and tried to move her aching neck minimally, just enough to focus on whoever was speaking. It took a moment for her to realize that the bus had finally come to rest upside down, the floor now a ceiling carpeted with people screaming hysterically from wherever they'd landed.
Something was wrong with her eyes. Everything was blurred, lopsided-she tried to shove aside the duffel bag that had landed across her midsection and stopped as pain stabbed through her. Elena clutched her shattered ribcage, her moans joining the general chorus all around her. She lay still, wanting desperately to do something to help ease the wounded wailing. Then, insidiously, she became aware that she had other priorities besides rendering first aid.
For just one second, her brain had forgotten, but her body hadn't. The smell of bleeding injuries saturated her starving senses, leaving her with only one instinct.
Elena turned her head and found that her vision had cleared, her vampire blood already healing her of whatever head injury she'd sustained. A foot away, she spotted see the female half of the necking teenagers. The girl was crumpled at an upright angle between a destroyed seat and an amputated armrest. It took a moment for Elena to realize the armrest only looked amputated because it had been sheared off in the accident before penetrating the teenager's chest cavity, likely puncturing a lung if the bubbles frothing at the girl's lips were any indication.
Elena's eyes tracked the dark froth dripping down the kid's neck.
She sat up slowly, her ribcage protesting even though the fractures were probably already knitting. Without thinking, she traced a finger through a puddle of blood and brought it to her lips. The dying girl stared at her, eyes so wide they filled her entire ashen face.
Horrified and yet unable to control her hunger any longer, Elena licked the blood droplet from her fingers, then scooped more of the thick liquid into the hollow of her hand and lapped it greedily. When that was gone, she bent and slurped at the puddle until it was all gone save for the lingering sweetness clotting her gumline.
Elena lifted her head, searching for another source. Thick red smears coated the injured teenager's body, stemming from her central chest injuries. Almost salivating, Elena leaned forward and licked at a bloody cheek. Rather than abating, her hunger grew with each slow, sweet swipe. She followed the gory trail under the girl's chin all the way to her clavicle and sucked at the hollow, where a small pool of blood had collected.
Something brushed against Elena's head and she batted it away with one hand, solely focused on salvaging every precious blood droplet before she began draining the body of whatever small amount remained within its veins. Again, the unseen object trailed across her head, making her scalp itch.
Furious at the interruption, Elena snarled a warning and looked up to see who would be her next victim. Her eyes encountered the slack, gray face of her former seatmate, the man's body somehow entrapped between seats and hanging upside down grotesquely.
She screamed and scrambled backwards, the gaping wound in his neck every bit as accusing as his dead arms waving in her direction. As Elena stared in horror, a terrible sound came from the teenager's destroyed lungs, something like a wet cough combined with a dry, sucking wheeze. Elena's gaze darted sideways just in time to spot the girl's head jerking back, her mouth opening in a soundless gasp before she sagged forward on her plastic stake, never to move again.
Abruptly, Elena came to her human senses. She looked around and finally saw the carnage around her-people crumpled at odd, inhuman angles, dead, certainly.
Weeping parents, cradling broken infants, screaming infants pleading for broken parents. Elderly passengers moaning quietly, their bones snapped like twigs, punctured organs leaking their lives rapidly away.
Less injured passengers, all with equally traumatized faces, moved from person to person, trying to offer some small comfort, whispering promises that help was on the way.
She wanted to help them so badly ... and yet ... the urge to feed on them was stronger. Everywhere she looked, she saw not injured bodies but blood. Not weeping faces but weeping hearts, pumping out precious nourishment with each adrenaline-laced beat. Every moment she stayed on the bus, her self-control faded. Already, the dark little voice of vampiric reason was taking over completely.
Why bother with puddles and smears when you have all those beautiful arteries, so many of them conveniently open for you already ... They're going to die anyway. You'll just be speeding up the process and easing their pain ...
Reality washed over Elena with the same force as the waters under Wickery Bridge. She couldn't help. If she stayed any longer, the bus accident would be far from the worst thing to happen to these passengers.
Elena crouched tensely then sprang through an already partially shattered window. She didn't dare take time to figure out which direction the bus had been headed, nor did she allow herself to check on the wreckage of the nearby pickup truck that had probably caused the accident. Without looking back she sped into the night, face wet with blood and tears of self-revulsion even as her inner predator screamed with thwarted rage.
A/N: I rewrote this chapter about 4 times before deciding if I liked it. I really hope it turned out okay and would love your feedback on whether or not it did. The whole "memory" scene was meant to be tangled up and confusing, but hopefully still came out somewhat coherent. Oh, and for those who are wondering, Elena will soon be doing some serious thinking about that previously deleted memory of their first meeting.
PS: Damon will catch up to her by Chapter 7. I promise. :)