"You know this man, Damon?" Richard stepped forward in what Damon had to assume was a protective manner. He found it equal parts amusing and endearing.
"This is Elijah. He's like me."
Elijah pulled a face. "From your world, perhaps."
"And a vampire."
"I'm an Original." He gave a smirk.
Always with that Special Kind of Vampire crap! Damon gave a snarl, but Zedd stepped in front of him.
"Where did you find this one, Shota?"
"He fell almost into my lap," Shota purred. Shota, Damon remembered, was Zedd's witchy nemesis. Trust Elijah to have got himself a witch partner, while Damon ended up with Puppy Dog Richard and his Sexy But Deadly back up singers.
"Elijah, this is Zeddicus," Shota said, and Damon didn't miss Elijah's controlled, but obvious response to that information. Interesting. "Zeddicus, Elijah."
"This is the Mother Confessor, the One True Seeker, the One Mord'Sith who serves this particular Lord Rahl, and the aforementioned First Wizard Zeddicus something or other," Damon said. "If I get the Chief of the Sisters of Darkness, it's a full house."
"Sisters of the Dark," Kahlan corrected. "Damon, is it true? Elijah is like you?"
"Only older and not so gorgeous." Damon eyed Shota. "So do I get to go home or is there going to be some sort of magical scuffle?"
Zedd glared at Shota. She coolly eyed him back.
"Clearly we are here for the same purpose," Zedd said at last, making it sound like a grand pronouncement. Seriously, if they had Shakespeare or whatever in this world, Zedd should be performing it.
"This seems the most likely place for the portal," Shota agreed.
Zedd casually picked up a pebble. "There's strong magic here."
Damon rolled his eyes. He was pretty certain Cara did the same.
Zedd and Shota then launched into a battle of a sort other than the kind he'd expected. They began to argue. And argue. And argue. Magic was apparently more complex then it seemed. Damon quickly lost interest. He was getting hungry and there wasn't anyone around he dared eat.
Richard stared off into space, maybe thinking about kittens or something. Kahlan alternated her time between making sure Shota and Zedd hadn't come to blows and staring adoringly at Richard. Cara stood impassively, watching everyone. Elijah had sat back down, mostly watching Shota with an expression that made Damon think he'd been right about his earlier suspicions. Had Elijah been playing Dracula and Mina Harker while Damon had been getting poked with an Agiel? Because that would so not be fair.
Eventually Shota and Zedd came to some sort of agreement in which they were "stronger together" and took each other's hands. Damon perked up at that, wondering if the whole magic-as-metaphor-for-sex thing he'd heard about was finally going to turn out to be true. Not that he wanted to see grandpa and the wacky witch of the west get it on, but because it might mean there could/should/ought to be sexy times back in his world, and he was going to mention it to Bonnie every single time he saw her.
In the end there was nothing more intimate than some chanting and then a shadow appeared on the rock face behind them. The inky surface shimmered.
"The portal is open," Zedd intoned, releasing Shota's hands.
"You sure I'm going home and not going to end up somewhere even more weird than this place?" Damon raised an eyebrow.
"I'll go and see," Zedd offered. He untied his belt, looped one end around his wrist, and gave the other end to Richard to hold. "If I don't return in five minutes, pull me back."
Elijah tapped Shota's shoulder and they drew aside. Damon kept half an eye on them, in case this was a trap of some sort, but they were almost as engrossed in each other as Kahlan and Richard. Shota lifted one hand and stroked Elijah's hair. Goddamn it, what was it with his hair? Damon's hair was so much more stylish. Really it was.
When Shota started scrabbling about in the dirt, Damon turned his attention back to the portal.
Zedd came back, holding a leaf. Shota moved to inspect it and Zedd described what could have been any woodland next to any road, but Damon hoped it was Mystic Falls.
Shota crushed the leaf between her fingers and lifted her green tinged fingers to her face, inhaling deeply. She nodded.
"We believe this is the way back to your world," Zedd said at last.
Finally. Damon nodded. "Well, thank you. Um, good luck with that whole defeating Darken Rahl thing." He gestured to Elijah. "You coming?"
Elijah shook his head. "No."
Damon blinked. "No?"
"There's nothing for me back there. No-one." Elijah gazed at Shota and Damon understood.
"Klaus might feel differently," he offered. But hey, getting away from the jackass hybrid was a point in favour of staying here, he supposed.
"I may not stay here forever. But I'm not going back. Not yet. I've made up my mind." Elijah slipped one arm around Shota's waist.
"You going to grow your hair out, start riding around on horseback and slaying dragons?"
Damon gave him a look that he hoped said "Whatever." Shota moved away from Elijah and pressed a stone into Damon's hand.
"This is an amulet," she said. "A stone from this mountain, bound with Elijah's hair. If you require his help –"
"I click my heels together three times and say 'there's no place like home?'" Damon suggested.
"You smash the pebble. It will send a summons back to us," Shota said.
Damon shrugged and put the pebble amulet thing into his pocket. "I don't anticipate needing your help."
"Then you won't ever need the amulet," Elijah said, unperturbed.
Damon held out his hand. "Then this is goodbye."
"I prefer au-revoir," Elijah said, and the two vampires shook hands like gentlemen. Stefan would be so proud.
Then Damon shook hands with Richard. He decided against trying for a kiss from any of the women, though Zedd pulled him into a hug.
"Well, so long…may the Force be with you," Damon said, and stepped through the portal.
Grass and mud filled his vision. Ugh. Had Zedd ended up dumped unceremoniously on his face, Damon wondered, getting to his knees. Elena was beside him, concern written all over her face.
"I'm okay." He glanced around. No sign of the portal.
"We were trying to track you, and Bonnie got a signal from here, and we were driving along and all of a sudden you just appeared." Elena touched his cheek. "Where were you? You've been gone for days."
"Somewhere very strange," Damon said. He orientated on Bonnie and scowled at her. "You have a lot to answer for, Bonnie Bennett. And when Klaus asks where his brother is, you can explain how you sent him to another dimension."
"What are you talking about?" Bonnie seemed puzzled, which either she had no idea what she'd done, or hadn't been responsible. Either way, Damon had more important things to deal with right now.
"I need you to take me to a bar where they serve something other than ale that tastes like a cow already drank it, and where I can have someone to eat," Damon said.
"Damon!" But there was still warmth beneath her scolding and it made him glad that she cared so much.
"Fine. A blood bag, then. And after that I'll tell you everything."
Elena helped him to his feet, and he let her, because he was relieved beyond belief to see her again. As he climbed into the car, he let his fingers brush the pocket where the amulet was stored.
He wondered if Elijah would help Richard defeat Darken Rahl, or if he'd find some reason to side with the tyrant.
Mostly, he wondered just how long he could milk Elena's concern over his disappearance, and if he could maybe have some non-bagged blood. Preferably Elena's - though that of course, was a different kind of desire entirely.
Elena, beautiful, wonderful, Elena. Damon sank back into his seat, relieved to be home.