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: The holidays are upon us here in the US. That time of year when perfectly sane people lose their minds. Updates may be longer in coming as I have lots of stuff to do between now and the New Year, but I will try to plug away at it. Be safe all, and remember, "normal" is a setting on the dryer.


Chapter Five

He dubbed her Stepford Elena, the Vampire's Girlfriend Edition. Specifically designed to meet a vampire's unique girlfriend needs. Obedient, but not subservient. Accepting of his vampirism and immortality. Unafraid of blood, violence and things that go bump in the night. Probably uninhibited in bed, and not concerned with getting a little blood on the sheets. Yep. Perfect vampire's girlfriend.

She was like Robot Buffy. Somewhere in her head there was a little program running called "Make Damon Happy."

If he said to her, "Elena, be a dear and go fetch me something to eat," he was sure she'd ask him, "Blond, redhead or brunette?"

The very thought chilled him to his bones, and he needed to find the off switch.

After they went to bed, Elena in her bed, and he… well, he wasn't letting his guard down for anything so he sat in the chair by the window, drank bourbon, and stared out at the horizon like some hapless sentry waiting for the Huns to storm the fortress walls at dawn.

He needed to talk to Gloria because he had to break this compulsion, and he had to do it without vervain. He knew of a few herbs that could do the same thing as vervain, but they had to build up in someone's system to take full effect, and he wasn't sure they'd be any good in battling what he was up against in Elena's head. No. If what he suspected was accurate, and he was usually, tragically, right about these things, the piddly herbs he was thinking of wouldn't do jack shit.

Which meant he'd have to bring in the big guns, but all the ones he knew of couldn't be given to a pregnant woman.

'Probably another layer to this,' he thought, drinking another two fingers of bourbon. 'Klaus would have anticipated me trying to break the compulsion. He would have made it such that the only things that could do it were things that would endanger the baby. The man's a classic evil genius. I could only hope to be that brilliant of a badass.'

Really, he ought to be taking notes because the Original Were-Vamp was a master.

But that didn't solve his problem of what he was going to do with Stepford Elena. If he was right, then she would mold herself into whatever she thought he wanted/needed, and try to become the perfect vampire's mate. Which sucked because he loved her, and he wanted what she was offering, but only if it was real.

It wasn't fair. He'd had a good life. No, he didn't have the woman he loved, but he'd had pretty much everything else. He'd had sex when he wanted it, and blood when he wanted it. He'd loved the house in Italy, and the freedom to go where he wanted, when he wanted. He'd been well-liked, admired and respected by the community. He'd had himself, and his own sense of self-worth, which was something that had been a long time in coming. He'd had friends, and a sense of purpose, and he'd been content. Not happy, but content. He'd had all he'd needed even if he didn't have all he'd wanted, and it had been enough.

Now it was one crazy-ass, fucked up mess, and he'd been dragged into the middle of it. Part of him wanted to take her back to Klaus, and just tell him to go fuck himself, but another part of him wanted to win, to stick it to the asshole who had warped Elena's mind and used her body as his own breeding farm. To do that, he needed to quit with the pity party, and get over himself. Yes, it sucked. Yes, it was fucked up beyond all recognition, but he needed to buck up and deal with it. Not everyone got a pony for Christmas.

Well, okay, he had gotten a pony for Christmas, but that was beside the point. The point was he had to get serious. Elena needed him to figure out a way to break the compulsion and kill Klaus. Yes, yes, he knew that he'd die too if he killed Klaus, but there had to be a way to either separate him from his bloodline or incapacitate him.

He had a weapon that could kill an Original. He'd fucking killed Finn. He was sufficiently motivated to figure this shit out otherwise they'd all be dancing to Klaus's tune for eternity. And Damon Salvatore danced to no one's tune but his own. He was done being a puppet, and he'd be damned twice before he let Elena be one, too. As soon as they got to Mystic Falls, he was going to get to work.

Not for the first time, he wished Witchy was still alive. Bonnie could have helped him, and her ties to the Bennett line would have worked in his favor. He wanted to bring in Gloria, but he doubted she'd come to Virginia. He would ask, though, because he could use all the help he could get. He was also thinking of calling in Junior Gilbert. The kid had been a decent fighter, and it looked like, maybe, he'd come to terms with Damon leaving his sister with Klaus. He could use another hunter/Elena babysitter since it looked like she didn't want to be left alone.

He wished he could call Ric, but he suspected that Ric would happily show up in time to drive a stake through his heart.

Donovan was a football star at Clemson, and, from what Damon could tell, had happily left Mystic Falls in his dust. Blondie and Lockwood were out, unless she'd done something with the vervain he'd given her, but even then he didn't know how much they could be trusted.

Liz was still sheriff as far as he knew, so he had an in with the police department, and he was still on the Founder's Council. He wondered what Bill Forbes was up to because, while he hated the guy, and the feeling was mutual, there was no denying the man possessed serious mental skills. Maybe he could be brought in to help break Elena's compulsion.

Just as he had done six years ago, he created a chessboard in his mind and populated it with the different pieces that made up the game he was about to play. He was the king, but Elena was Queen, and it was his job to protect her. He might have Knights and Bishops in Gloria and Junior Gilbert, but he needed a couple of Rooks and a whole bunch of Pawns. He also needed a better view of who Klaus had on his side, and he wondered which team his baby bro would fight for. Knowing Stefan, he'd be a wild card until the end, and he didn't even want to think where Rebekah fit into all of it. Not to mention Katherine, who he half expected to already be in Mystic Falls when they arrived. Now wouldn't that be a barrel of laughs?

He was planning his next two or three moves, and trying to anticipate what moves Klaus would make, when he heard Elena mumble his name.

"Damon."

The word was slurred, as if she was having difficulty getting it out, and red lights and sirens went off in his head. He was at her side in a vamp second, leaning over her and looking at her face. Her brow was creased, and she appeared to be in pain. The warning bells shrieked louder, and he bent close.

"Damon," she murmured again, her voice rough.

"I'm here," he replied, instinctively keeping his voice very soft, almost vamp-hearing soft.

He watched as her eyes fluttered, then opened, and he saw her pupils dilate in the low light.

"Damon," she whispered again, but it was how she said it that clued him in.

Half command, half plea. It was her. Somehow his brave, beautiful, wonderful girl had broken through, but he was afraid to touch her or speak because he didn't want to trigger the compulsion. She had obviously managed to fight it back, but there was no telling how long that would last. He was worried that saying her name might flip the Stepford switch, so he took a risk and squeezed her hand to let her know that he had heard her.

Her hand closed around his, and it said so much: Thank you. I see you. I'm here.

"I…" she tried, but he could tell it was a struggle.

"I know," he assured her. "I understand. It's okay. It'll be okay."

"Thank…"

"No need. I've got you. I'm going to save you. I promise," he vowed.

She nodded ever so slightly, then her pupils contracted and her body jerked, and he knew she'd been chased back to the dungeon as Stepford Elena took over. She came fully awake, shaking her head and sitting up as he pulled away from her.

"Damon?" she asked. "Is everything alright?"

He smiled to hide his frustration and disappointment. "Yeah. Everything is fine. You were mumbling in your sleep so I decided to check on you."

She swept back her hair as she looked around, confused. "Oh. Sorry. Was I saying anything important?"

Had she been herself, he would have teased her mercilessly and smirked as he told her he'd caught her moaning his name, but since it wasn't the real Elena, he held his tongue.

"No, just mumbles," he lied.

"Okay. What time is it?"

"About four-thirty."

She frowned. "That's ear…" Her face contorted as she suddenly bent over, then she scrambled for the bathroom.

He was right behind her as she threw herself over the toilet, and he held her hair as she vomited. When she was done, he gave her a cup of water to rinse out her mouth and rubbed her back as she got herself together.

"Shit, I hate this," she blurted, and he really wondered who was talking. Could his Elena have broken through again? He tried to catch her eye to see if he could tell, but she had them closed as she leaned against the porcelain bowl.

"What can I do?" he questioned, stroking her hair. "What helps?"

She shook her head. "Nothing really. I always puke at least once. Sometimes when Caroline compels it away, that's all I'll puke, but sometimes not even that works."

"Here. Let me try something, okay?" he offered.

"Okay."

He took her hand and pressed his thumb into the valley between her tendons about two inches down from her wrist. With his other hand, he reached up to press his other thumb on a point just below her earlobe where her jawbone began.

"Better?" he asked, after a few minutes of applying pressure to the trigger points he knew were there.

"Actually… yeah. It is. I don't feel like my insides are going to become my outsides anymore. Thanks," she answered, sounding a little surprised.

"No problem."

"No, Damon, I mean it. Thank you. You have no idea how awful this is for me, throwing up all the time. Any relief you can give me is a blessing."

She was being genuine, and he knew it. "You're welcome, just don't tell anyone. I have a reputation as a big bad vampire to preserve, you know."

She laughed. "You never let anyone see the good in you, Damon, and you should."

"I told you. When people see good, they expect good, and I don't want to have to live up to anyone's expectations."

"But you're so much more than what people think you are. They should know."

He shrugged. "You know. That's enough for me."

She shook her head and gave him a tender smile. "You've changed."

"So have you," he pointed out.

Her face fell and she looked away. "I haven't changed nearly enough," she said in a distant voice.

He took her chin and turned her head to look at him. "Listen to me. We're going to get through this. I promise," he said, and he was speaking to both of them.

Her eyes started to glaze over, so he put his hand over them to make sure it wasn't him doing it.

"You won't risk compelling me. Why?" she asked.

"You know why. I want what's between us to be real."

It was comical to be telling her that since he knew he was talking to Stepford Elena, but he knew his Elena could hear him. He knew from experience that compelled victims were conscious during their compulsion even if they had no control over their bodies.

She took his hand and held it, squeezing lightly. "Thank you."

He looked away, his heart twisting in his chest, then bowed towards her. "Ready to go back to bed? I think you should get a little more sleep before we get on the road."

She nodded, then gasped as he slid his arms under her and carried her bridal-style back to the bed. He closed his eyes as she rested her head against his neck and automatically put one hand up to grasp his shoulder. She was no burden at all. He could have carried her back to Mystic Falls on foot, and it would have been no trouble for him. He put her down on the mattress, but she clung to him. He managed to pull back just enough for them to meet eyes, and the look on her face was mix of confusion, longing and surprise. He had no doubt he was wearing the same expression on his own face.

"Damon," she whispered, her eyes dropping to his lips.

He swallowed hard and made every effort to gently disentangle himself from her hold. She finally released him, and he placed her with exaggerated tenderness on the bed, but he couldn't bring himself to leave her side. Even if it wasn't real, he had longed to have her this way, and he wasn't strong enough to resist her completely. She took his reluctance to pull away as encouragement and reached out to touch his hand.

"What is it about my pregnancy that makes vampires want to kill me?" she asked.

He let her close her fingers over his palm and rested his other hand over hers.

"We feed on life, Elena, and nothing is more alive than a pregnant woman," he told her, wondering why that hadn't explained already.

"Caroline said every instinct in her told her to kill me. She begged Klaus to compel her to resist it," she said. "Stefan almost killed me twice. He said my scent is irresistible now."

"It is," he agreed.

Her brow creased, and she shook her head slightly, doing that thing where she upturned her ear a little. She was looking to him for answers, the way she'd always had, because she knew he would tell her the truth even if she wasn't going to like it. He took her hand and brought it to his chest, placing the flat of her palm over his heart and holding it there with both of his hands.

"Imagine that you've been away from home for a long time, and you finally make it back. And when you go into the house, you find that your mother is cooking your favorite food. The whole house smells of it. You are drawn to the kitchen where you watch her cooking, and the smell is overwhelming, and you are dying for a taste because that scent is everything that's good and right. It's every happy memory that you've ever had all wrapped into one aroma," he explained, trying to put what it was like to smell her and be with her in terms she could understand.

"Is that what I smell like to you?" she asked, a little awed by his answer.

He nodded.

"How do you stand it?"

He shrugged and released her hand, reaching out to hook one errant lock of her hair behind her ear.

"I'm used to it. You've always smelled like home to me, Elena. It's just stronger now. There's a sharper edge to it."

"Oh."

He leaned forward and pressed his lips to her forehead.

"Get some sleep. We still have a long drive ahead of us," he said, encouraging her to get back under the covers.

She did as he asked and rested her head on the pillow. He brought the covers up to her shoulders and tucked her in.

"But it's different for you," she said suddenly, as he moved to get up. "Everyone else wanted to kill me, but you didn't. Miriam said you wouldn't be a threat to me. Why?"

"You know why. Because I love you."

She frowned. "Stefan loves me, too, but he still wanted to drain me dry."

"Stefan's a Ripper douche with no self-control. I'm not."

She snickered. "You still call him that."

He smirked. "Of course I do. Big brother prerogative."

Her smiled faded, and she looked lost. "I miss Jeremy."

"Want me to hunt him down and drag him home?" he offered, with a wicked smile he knew would make her laugh. It worked.

"No. He's in New York. He got into NYU."

"I knew he'd get the hell out of Mystic Falls as soon as he could. That town was too small for him."

"It'll be weird going back. I'm sure it's changed."

"I keep telling you, you don't have to. We can go anywhere you want."

She rolled her eyes, and it was so Elena that he was taken aback. "Yes, yes, Italy. Spain. Mount Everest."

"Hey, hey. No mountain climbing for you. Thin air is bad for the baby."

She laughed again, then her face changed, and he recognized the signs of nausea. Vampire-quick, he grabbed her wrist and put pressure on the trigger point with his thumb, rhythmically pressing on it until she relaxed and the moment seemed to pass.

"Better?" he asked.

She took a gulp of air and nodded. "Yeah. Thanks."

"No problem."

"When we get to Mystic Falls, we'll stop at the market and get the ingredients for that tea. It'll help."

"Yeah."

He released her wrist and moved get up, but she reached out to stop him.

"Stay with me, please? Just until I fall back to sleep? You can keep the nausea from coming back."

He had to hold back a groan because she really was killing him, but he managed a tight smile. "Sure."

She scooted a little bit away from the edge of the bed and turned on her side, facing away from the bathroom. He lay down on top of the covers on her left side, putting his body between her and the door to the hotel room. They were facing each other, each looking at the other, and she slid her arm towards him, her wrist facing up. He took the cue and lightly wrapped his fingers around her arm. He could feel the warmth of her skin and the steady pulsing of her heart beneath his fingertips.

"Thanks," she whispered, her eyes drifting closed.

"No problem," he whispered back.

She was asleep a few moments later, but he stayed right where he was. It was heaven, it was hell, but he was going to take every crumb she gave him and cherish every moment they had, because his Elena was in there, and if he played his cards right, he'd come out the winner, and he'd get the girl.

It wasn't out of the realm of possibility that, if he could get rid of Klaus and break her compulsion, that Elena – the adult Elena, might look his way, and see him as a good match for her. At least now he had hope for that, when before he'd had none. It'd be a fine line to walk, but he'd danced on tightropes before, and everyone knew he was a bitch for love. He had a chance, which was more than he'd had two days ago, and he was going to do his damnedest to try to make things work out in his favor.

He watched her sleeping, reveling in her warmth and scent, until he relaxed enough to close his eyes. Yeah, he could give Elena a dream right now, like he had for Rose, and share it with her, but it wasn't the time. There'd be time for dreams, even the waking kind, and he hoped that very soon, they'd dream those dreams together.