The Rain King
By Terri Botta
Summary: Sequel to The Queen of Unintended Consequences. Six years after Damon leaves Elena with Klaus, he's called back to handle a delicate situation. An AU Season 3 fic.
A/N: And here it is! A little shorter than some of the other chapters. Many thanks to my awesome betas Glamoured-by-Eric, Kate C, and Layla Reyne for cranking this out ASAP for me. :D
"Well, the baby looks fine," Dr. Meredith Fell announced, as she looked at the image on the laptop computer screen.
They were in the nursery, where Damon had carried Elena's unconscious body because their bedroom was a bloody mess. He didn't want to have to explain the carnage to the good doctor, and he hadn't had time to clean it up yet. He'd scrub his bedroom after he knew his mate and her unborn child were safe.
Meredith had arrived at the Boarding House within a half hour of Ric's call, and she'd brought the portable ultrasound unit with her. Damon was attempting not to hover too close to the doctor, but he wouldn't leave Elena's side. He'd opted for sitting on the bed – on the opposite side of Meredith, but giving himself a good view of the laptop screen. He could easily make out the image of the baby even though the portable unit wasn't as high-definition as the one they typically used in the office.
"So they're both okay?" he asked, trying not to sound like a nervous wreck.
"I wouldn't say that. I don't see anything glaringly wrong. The baby looks unharmed. Her heartbeat is good and strong. The umbilical cord is firmly attached to the placenta, and that looks to be in fine shape…"
"But…" he prompted, casting a glance at Ric who was standing near the padded window seat that Damon had made. The other man was frowning as he leaned against the wall and crossed his arms over his chest.
"But Elena's blood pressure is too high. It's 150/110."
"What does that mean?" Ric asked, playing the role of concerned father figure.
"I'm not sure. It could be from number of causes, but I always worry about preeclampsia in these situations. Right now, neither she nor the baby is in danger, but it's not something we should ignore."
"What's preeclampsia?" Ric questioned.
"It's a serious complication in pregnancy. Women who suffer from it can have seizures and go into a coma. Both the mother and the child can die," Damon replied before Meredith could, earning him odd looks from both of them. He shrugged. "What? I may have spent some time around a School of Medicine."
"Snacking on the nursing students?" Ric teased.
He grimaced, not about to admit that he'd been to medical school in the 1930's. "Something like that."
He saw his friend frown, as if he'd figured out that Damon was deflecting, and Ric cocked his head curiously, one eyebrow raised. He gave the other man a warning glare, and Ric's mouth tightened into a thin line.
"So what do we do?" Ric asked, turning his attention back to Dr. Fell.
"I'm going to keep her sedated for a while, and give her some medication to bring down her blood pressure. Hopefully that'll solve the problem. If not…"
"If not, she and the baby could be in danger, and you might have to deliver the baby early," Damon commented.
"But it's too soon. She's not due for another five weeks," Ric argued.
"Babies as young as 26 weeks can survive in the NICU. If we have to do an emergency C-section, the baby should be fine," Dr. Fell assured them. "And I'm not sure we're dealing with preeclampsia. I need to check for protein in her urine. Has she been complaining of headaches or blurred vision?'
"No," Damon answered.
"Any swelling? Sudden weight gain?"
"Vomiting, lethargy, sensitivity to light?"
Meredith sighed and looked at Elena. "Well, that's good. Hopefully it just spiked because of all the commotion. I'll check it again in a few hours."
"Hours?" Damon repeated.
"Yes. I need to check her blood pressure in six hour intervals. If it doesn't come back down, then we have a problem."
"Okay," he agreed, watching her intravenously administer two medications into his mate.
"She should sleep for another four hours. In the meantime, how about we not have a repeat of whatever caused this?" she stated.
"I told you…" Ric began, but Meredith cut him off.
"I know what you told me. I also know that you aren't telling me everything, and that's okay. I get that there are some things about this situation that you can't tell me. I've accepted that. But whatever caused you to have to chloroform woman who is eight months pregnant should never happen again, got it?"
"We didn't have a choice. She was going crazy. As it is, we aren't sure what she'll do once she wakes up," Ric explained.
"Well, you're just going to have to find a better way of dealing with whatever it is. Chloroform is dangerous. If you must sedate her, call me. I'll be back to check on her later today. When she wakes, keep her calm. And you two also stay calm and don't do anything to trigger her."
Damon was hit by a sudden wave of rage. He hadn't done anything to trigger Elena's homicidal rampage – Klaus had – and it was unlikely that anything he did from that point on could mitigate Elena's urge to kill him. In fact, he was expecting her to try again as soon as she woke up. Meredith's glib comments made him want to rip out her throat, and then feed on her in the most painful ways possible while she couldn't scream. Luckily, Ric was very good at reading his body language, and the man came forward to run interference.
"We'll do our best. Thank you for coming over so quickly," Ric said, putting himself between Damon and Meredith and helping her pack up the portable unit.
The doctor huffed and cast Damon an accusing glance that only made him angrier, and he had to grit his teeth to keep from tearing into her, literally. He channeled his fury into cleaning the lubricating gel off of Elena's abdomen with a towel and re-buttoning the cotton, button-down nightgown he had dressed her in. The clothes she had been wearing before had been stained with his blood, and they were now in a hamper in the wreck of his bedroom, waiting to be burned.
"I'll be back later," Dr. Fell repeated and left the bedroom, as Ric escorted her out.
Once the nursery was empty of everyone except him and an unconscious Elena, he turned his senses to scouring the room for any clues as to how Klaus had gotten to his mate, and how they were communicating. He had a pretty good idea that the answers he sought were somewhere in the room, because the nursery was where he'd found Elena standing and staring off into space.
He took a moment to kiss Elena on the forehead, and brush a hand across her hair, before leaving the bed and carefully examining the mattress, frame, and furniture for bugs or secret, hidden cameras. He was honing in on something that just smelled of Elena and didn't have his scent on it. While he was sniffing around the dresser, Ric returned and gave him an odd look.
"Can I help?"
"We're looking for something, anything, that Klaus could be using to spy on us and contact Elena," he responded.
"Like a bug or a nanny cam?"
"Exactly. And I'm pretty sure it's in this room because this is where I found her last week."
"When you found her, was she doing anything?"
"She was holding a sweater that she'd taken out of the closet."
He whipped his head around and stared at Ric as they both came to the same conclusion at once.
"Closet," they said in unison, and Damon vamp sped over as Ric joined him.
Damon threw open the closet door and began sifting through the clothing, sniffing. Ric grabbed handfuls of clothes from their hangers and shook them to see if there was anything stored in their pockets, and then he ran his hands over hems and lapels, feeling for lumps and bumps.
"Anything?" Damon asked, crouching down to see if there was a loose floorboard or wall panel.
Damon tapped on the wood floor to check for hollow spots, but there was nothing. He turned his attention to the shoes on racks and in their boxes on the closet floor, dumping the shoes out onto the wood. On the fifth box, a phone fell out from underneath a pair of tan-colored stiletto heels.
"Jackpot," he announced, picking up the phone.
"What is it?"
"Looks like a burner phone. I found it stuffed under a pair of shoes."
"Well, that's definitely suspicious."
Damon turned the phone on and looked at the call history. Only one number had ever been called from the phone, and nothing was in the missed or received calls directories.
"This is it," he said.
"Pretty sure, but I'm not about to call it to find out."
"I do have them every now and then."
"Really? Can't say I've seen any," Ric quipped to ease the growing tension.
"Dick," he snapped back, glad for the humor.
"So what do we do with that?"
"Nothing. We put it back where we found it."
"Because we don't want Klaus to know or suspect that we're on to him. Surprise is the only thing we have to our advantage right now," he informed, turning the phone off and tucking it back under the shoes. Damon was hoping that the brief time it was on hadn't already alerted Klaus that something was up.
"Did you memorize the number? Remember Jeremy's roommate is a computer whiz. He can probably track it and find out where Klaus is," Ric stated.
Damon tapped his temple. "It's in the steel trap. Vampires never forget. We're like elephants that way, without the big ears and rough skin."
"Ah," Ric mused, but Damon could see that his friend was biting his tongue on another acerbic comment. "So what now?"
"Now we put everything back the way we found it, and I clean up my bedroom while you stay with Elena."
"Why? Don't you want to stay with her?" Ric countered, confused.
"It isn't a matter of me not wanting to stay with her. It's that I fully expect her to try to kill me as soon as she wakes."
"Do you think so?"
He nodded. "Oh yeah. Now that she's been compelled to do it, she'll be triggered every time she sees me, and she'll either come after me or stress herself out trying to fight it."
"What do we do?"
"Well, we can't keep her sedated for the next five weeks until the baby comes, so we have to let her wake up and see what happens. In the meantime, I'll call Gloria and ask her if she knows anything that can counteract it."
Ric helped him put the nursery back to rights, and then he left his friend sitting in the rocking chair next to the bed while he went to his bedroom. It was a mess. There was blood splattered all over the linens and the area rug. There was more blood streaked across the hardwood floor where he had bled while staggering to the bathroom, which looked like a scene from a slasher movie where someone got cut up with a machete.
Damon sighed, knowing that he'd have to burn the sheets and comforter, and probably the rug too, because getting bloodstains out of hand woven wool was virtually impossible. Luckily, the mattress was protected with a custom made, waterproof mattress pad, so that at the very least was salvageable. He made a mental inventory of everything he'd need to do, but first, he needed to call Gloria.
"Hey, Baby," the witch greeted when she answered her phone.
"Gloria," he said, pouring the last hour of grief and horror into that one word.
"Sugar, what happened?"
In quiet, controlled tones, he told her everything. He was surprised by how calm he was when his inner beast was howling, but he needed Gloria's help, and he wasn't above begging.
"Don't say anything else, Damon, I'm on my way," she replied without hesitation. "I've already bought a ticket on the next flight out of Chicago. You got someone who can pick me up from the Roanoke airport?"
"I can do it, and I'll reimburse you for the plane fare," he promised, letting his relief show in his voice.
"Don't worry, Honey, I charged it to your credit card. I still have it in my PayPal."
"Ahh, sneaky witch."
"Smart witch, Sugar. You're loaded. I co-own a bar. I'll be there in a few hours. I'll text you my itinerary."
"Okay," he said with a small smile on his lips. "Thank you."
"Anytime, Baby. In the meantime, if you can't keep Elena knocked out until I get there, make sure she doesn't see you."
"See you soon, Honey. Stay strong."
She hung up, and Damon let out a shaky breath, releasing the tension in his shoulders. Gloria was coming, so he mentally added her to the chessboard as a bishop. With any luck, she'd have some mojo that could help Elena not endanger herself while trying to not kill him. One item on his to-do list done, he went downstairs to get the cleaning supplies. Ric found him rolling up the area rug after having moved his huge bed.
"Klaus owes me an new rug," he stated flatly.
"What are you going to do with that one?"
"Burn it. We have an outdoor pit we use to burn large things."
"Sounds like you do this kind of stuff often."
"Vampire, Ric. There's not enough peroxide in the world to get the blood out of some of the messes my brother and I have made. There's a reason we don't have wall-to-wall carpeting in this house."
Ric shifted uncomfortably. "Need help?"
"You can help me by staying with Elena. I don't want her to be alone when she wakes up. Gloria's on her way. I'm hoping she has some mojo that can help us."
"I talked to Jeremy. Do you have the number that was in the burner phone? His roommate is going see if he can track it, and get us a location."
He rattled it off from memory, and Ric left him to his cleaning. He took the area rug to the burning pit along with the bloodied clothes and linens, doused them with gasoline and set them on fire. Then he returned to his bedroom, scrubbing the blood from the hardwood floor and scouring the bathroom. He used bleach on the tiles and shower stall, holding his breath until he was finished thoroughly rinsing the area because he couldn't stand the stench of the chlorine.
The bathroom mirror was a lost cause, so he took the whole thing down, frame and all, and threw it in the Boarding House trash pile. He'd have to order a new mirror, but there was a website for a store he knew that specialized in antique and vintage home fixtures, so finding a new one – or replacing both – wouldn't be too difficult. He swept the bathroom floor and cleaned the grout with a toothbrush to make sure there were no glass shards anywhere for Elena to step on.
When he was done cleaning, he redressed the bed in a new set of sheets and retrieved a spare eiderdown his cedar chest. Then he went about disarming the bedroom, removing every weapon or weapon-of-opportunity from the room. He had an idea that Elena was going to have to be confined until something could be done about her vampi-cidial tendencies, and he wanted her in his bedroom where she would be comfortable. His was the only room with an en-suite bathroom, and the only reason it had one was because he'd put it there when the Boarding House was last remodeled. He'd taken the time to update it on a regular basis, making sure it stayed equipped with all of the modern conveniences.
Everyone thought Stefan was the steward of the Salvatore estate, but Mr. Bunny Muncher was often too busy recovering from his latest Ripper bender to be concerned with a new hot water heater or replacement stove. If it hadn't been for Damon, the Boarding House wouldn't have been outfitted with ductless air conditioning or the fancy, high-end water filtering system that was guaranteed to remove even vervain. Just in case someone from the Founder's Council decided to spike the water supply. It had happened before in the past, and getting chemical burns while trying to take a shower really sucked.
Whether the current caretaker of the property knew it or not, Damon had made it a point to do an inspection every five years to categorize everything that was needed to keep the house in good order, and then he would contract workers to have it done. Crews would show up on the door step with work orders paid for by Damon Salvatore, and whoever was living there would – hopefully – be smart enough to let them in. The caretaker would also have a number to call in case of emergencies; like when the boiler blew up and the house was without heat. "Uncle" Zach's father had called the emergency number, and Damon had arranged for HVAC people to show up less than 24-hours after the incident with a new boiler and equipment to modernize the ductwork.
One of Damon's regrets was the loss of the Salvatore Mansion. He'd been the one to burn it down, but he'd only done so to hide the fact that Stefan had been using the house as his killing grounds. There were bodies upon bodies buried under the rubble of the house his father had built, and only Damon and Stefan remained to remember that they were there.
Sometimes Damon would visit the ruins and find flowers on the unmarked graves. He'd then call Stefan and taunt his brother for his "weakness." Because placing dying plant life on the spot of more dead was the best way to atone for his sins. Better than, say, actually getting control over his blood lust so he didn't rip a human victim to pieces when he fed.
Damon had never had any use for empty gestures and useless platitudes, whether they be as declarations of love or remorse. He believed that the best way to atone for wrongs was to accept responsibility for one's mistakes, make restitution, and not repeat the sins. Stefan refused to learn from his past, and therefore he was doomed to repeat history while Damon watched helplessly from the sidelines. The only thing he could do was clean up the mess and try to hide Stefan's tracks, all while being called the "evil" one, the "bad" one who did awful, selfish things.
At one point, he'd decided that if he was going to be bad, he'd be damn good at it, so he'd shucked off his humanity like a second skin, flipped his switch and let it all go. He'd spent the next several decades doing what he'd wanted, when he'd wanted, with no regrets. He hadn't come out of his self-imposed detachment until he'd met Elena that night on the road near the Wickery Bridge and had mistaken her at first for Katherine. One look at her and his humanity had turned back on, and he hadn't been able to shut it off again no matter how hard he'd tried or pretended that he didn't care.
Damon had loved Elena. Even when she'd hated him, rejected him and used him, he'd still loved her. And now that she did love him, having to do what he knew he needed to do was that much harder. He'd have to stay away from her even though every cell in his body screamed that she needed him and that he should be with her. He was going to have to be stronger than he'd ever been and keep his distance.
Six years ago, he'd been able to leave Elena with Klaus because he'd known that she wasn't ready to admit her feelings for him. Now? Now that he had her, letting her go was going to be almost impossible, but he would do it. He had to. If he didn't, she and the baby would be at risk, and he loved her enough to do what was best for the both of them.
In the end, though, he proved he was a complete whipped pansy because two hours later when he heard Elena start sobbing, he was by her side in a vamp second with no clear memory of how he'd gotten up the stairs from the parlor. Ric didn't even have time to stand up before Damon had her in his arms, shushing and comforting her. To her credit, she lasted a whole minute before she started shaking.
"Damon…" she whimpered, but there was warning in her voice.
"I know, Baby. I have to get out of here, but I had to see you," he confessed, hugging her as close as he dared.
She stiffened and tried to pull away, but he wouldn't let her. "Oh god, how can you even stand to be near me? I tried to kill you! I shot you, and I stabbed you…"
"Shhh, I forgive you. I forgive you. You're not yourself. Klaus has compelled you. It's okay. Gloria's on her way. She's going to help us."
"Oh my god! Are you okay?"
"I'm fine. See?" He pulled back enough for her to see him. She poked at his shirt where the wounds had been on his chest as if she needed to feel for herself that he was unharmed.
"But I hurt you…"
"Vampire. I'm all healed up. There's not even a scar. And I told you that no matter what you did, I'd forgive you, and I do."
Her face fell, her eyes spilling over with tears. "Damon…"
"It's okay, I understand."
She shook her head and clenched her hands into fists. "I love you. I love you so much, but every part of me is screaming that I want you dead," she cried.
He nodded. "I know, and I'm going to leave…"
"No! Don't leave me!" she begged, panicked, and he rushed to reassure her.
"Shhh, I'm just going to be downstairs where you can't see me. If you see my face, or hear my voice, you'll be triggered. Trust me, Baby, I'm not going anywhere."
She looked at him, tears streaming down her cheeks as she stroked his hair and face. "Damon…"
"It's okay. I promise. We'll get through this. I cleaned up the bedroom. I want you to go back in there."
"No, I can't…"
"It has the bathroom right there. This room doesn't. If you have to be stuck in a room until we figure this shit out, that's where you should be," he explained, noticing that her hands were now on his shoulders.
"But I tried to kill you in that room…"
"Lots of people have tried to kill me in my own bed, Sweetheart. I almost died in that bed from Wonderdog's werewolf bite, remember?"
She chuckled through her tears even as her fingers tightened their grip. She was seconds away from trying to strangle him.
"You'll be more comfortable there. Ric'll be with you. He won't leave your side."
"Damon…" she said plaintively, and it just about broke his heart.
"I know. You want to skewer me with a hot poker. Most women do after a while of being with me," he said, trying to joke. "I have to leave in an hour and drive to Roanoke to pick up Gloria from the airport. I've already told her what's going on, and she's going to help us."
"I called Jeremy, too. He's on his way down. He'll leave after class," Ric added.
"Jer? Oh, no, no, no. He has mid-terms," Elena argued.
"He's going to talk to his professors. He said he doesn't have any more exams until the week before Thanksgiving, and most of his profs are cool. We could use his help, and Bonnie's through him."
"See, Baby? We don't have to do this all by ourselves. There are lots of folks to help us. We're not in this alone," he told her, echoing Ric's earlier words.
He lifted her hands from his shoulders and held them in both of his, comforting and restraining her at the same time. She gave him a tremulous smile, and he knew that she'd realized what he was doing.
"Yeah. We always work better as a team," she agreed.
"So long as one of us doesn't go rogue," Ric warned, coming to stand beside Damon and putting a hand on Damon's shoulder.
"Yeah, yeah, Dad, I get it. No going off on my own. No killing bad guys without you. Next thing you know, you'll be telling me to color inside the lines," he complained, casting a grateful glance up at his friend. Ric's presence was making Elena split her attention, and that was helping with her urge to kill.
"Something tells me you've never colored inside the lines," Ric commented.
"When I was born, all we had were lines. I crossed them as soon as I could," he answered seriously.
It was true. Back then, society was rigid and uncompromising. He was a Salvatore. He was expected to conduct himself in ways that befitted and benefited the Salvatore family, regardless of what he wanted or how he felt. As eldest son, it was assumed that he would take over the family business, marry a woman his father approved of, and breed heirs for the family line.
He'd done none of those things, and had, in fact, disgraced his family more than once, but he hadn't cared. He'd never worn the yoke of duty well, and he'd happily turned over his father's great expectations to his younger brother. Stefan did well under restraints whereas Damon had too much of his mother's wildness in him. Stefan enjoyed structure, even thrived under it. Stefan needed a purpose and a set regimen. When left to his own devices, Stefan went… well, he went off the rails like he had with Klaus, and it was years before he could pull himself back on the wagon. Normally, Stefan would do it when his friend Lexi showed up, but Damon had killed her (he'd had his reasons, and they'd been good ones at the time), so there was no one to pull Stefan back from the edge – at least not while he was still under Klaus's thumb and paired with Rebekah.
Elena shuddered and bowed her head, bringing Damon back to himself, and he knew she was reaching the end of her control. It was time for him to make his exit.
"I get it. I'm going now."
"I'm so, so sorry."
"Don't be. We'll get through this. I love you."
He released her hands and gave her a fierce kiss before forcing himself to leave the room. He refused to let himself look back at her, but he did fist bump Ric in thanks, knowing the man would take good care of his mate in his absence. Ric had always felt responsible for Elena and Junior Gilbert, and right now Elena needed a father figure. He was hoping Gloria would help provide a motherly influence, although she could be stern and unsympathetic at times. He prayed that the witch would quickly learn that Elena did best when nurtured instead of controlled.
He closed the nursery door behind him as he stepped into the corridor, taking a deep breath in an attempt to remain calm. It took everything he had not to rush back to the bedroom when Elena started sobbing again, but he held firm, knowing that seeing him just made it worse for her. He kept an ear on her as he made himself walk back downstairs while Ric helped her move from the nursery to their bedroom, and he listened until Ric had her safely ensconced in their room and her tears had stopped.
Down in the parlor, he poured himself a hefty drink of bourbon because the only way he was going to be able to keep himself from Elena's side was with the help of a steady supply of alcohol. Then he sat down to drink it, counting the minutes until he could leave to go pick up Gloria.