Author's Note: This story was written before "She's Come Undone" aired, any similarities are coincidental.
Cyber flowers and chocolate and topless, very fit male dancers to goldnox and latbfan for being ridiculously awesome at betaing.
Chapter 5: Welcome Home
The sheets beneath me are kind to my aching body: not the near-unbearable delight of sensation without any emotion to detract from it, but instead the comforting slide of expensive fabric purchased by a man who cared what it felt like against my skin.
They're not white.
When he came into my cell and gathered me up, the only thing I could think to do was exhale. Though I was awake, my brain seems to have sifted past the moments when he carried me upstairs, and perhaps a lot more because my hands are clean and my hair is soft and still just a little bit damp where it lays against my neck.
I'm not sure yet if I'm naked, and it doesn't matter.
What matters is the sheets are a luxurious dove gray and the bed is big enough to hold the man whose chest pillows my cheek.
For me he's always naked, always beautiful, and when a tear slips from the corner of my eye onto his chest, he doesn't comment. Perhaps it's not the first.
He flinches at the sound of his name.
His hand cups the back of my head briefly, the pad of his thumb pressing a little too hard above my ear before his touch disappears.
There's the barest hint of resignation in his tone, like a question.
I don't know how to ask him if he wants to be.
I duck my head and press my lips to him. He stills under my kiss, his breath pausing as if to lengthen the moment. I slide my cheek up the tiny swells of his ribs and bury my face in his neck, his collarbone pressing a hard and graceful line into my jaw as I inhale even though he hasn't.
His scent fills me and because I may have nothing left to lose, I let my voice carry my thoughts.
"That's how I should have touched you."
When I lift my head, his eyes are the color of the morning sky and they gleam in a way he never lets anyone see but me.
I have to brace myself on an elbow as the air in my lungs tries to change shape too quickly, the relief whipping through my body at a speed that leaves my thoughts marooned somewhere behind it.
He blinks and his lips curve, and I realize that some parts of my new life still look like my old one.
I drop back onto his chest and squeeze my arms around him, giddy with my strength and his scent and something, everything, familiar.
"And we're right back to the breaking of bones." He coughs as if I'm crushing him. "Didn't take you long."
My head lifts, stricken. "Damon, I'm-"
His finger settles across my lips and he shakes his head.
"Uh-uh. Don't start with the apologizing. It's so fucking tedious. Besides, it's not the first time you've had my neck snapped because I was trying to keep you from doing something stupid."
I take a breath and he presses harder.
"Or the first time you've told me you hated me." He grins and leans close so his sing-sing whisper lands right in my ear. "Even though you were lyyy-ing."
I smile at him, though my chest still feels like it has a giant foot planted in its center.
"As long as you always know the truth."
His eyes flare fractionally like a glitch before his sexy smile settles back into place. "Damn straight."
I bend to his lips, the kiss melting my belly against his as I realize we're both naked.
He groans, a tiny sound deep in his throat as I pull away. I don't protest when his arms shepherd me into place, curled on top of him with my hands pressed safely between us, my temple against the hollow in his throat.
My body sinks, relaxing despite the darkness that still coils and billows deep in my belly.
"Easy sweetheart," Damon whispers, as if he can hear it. "It's better now."
I laugh, the sound catching behind my tongue until it's nearly a sob. "Not really. My brother's gone, I made all my friends hate me and-"
He cuts me off before I even get to the end of my litany of worries.
"No one hates you. Stefan's been a little bitch for way too many years to hold a slip or two against anyone else."
I bite my lip because I know Stefan, and I know how he looked at me even before I'd killed anyone. But I don't tell Damon because I don't want him to be angry with his brother. And Stefan has a reason to look at me that way now.
"Maybe, but Caroline doesn't know that I wasn't really going to kill her and even if she did?" I shake my head. "She won't forgive me for stealing her perfect prom dress."
"Actually, she probably will because Klaus gave her a dress with a price tag like a Maserati. Aaaand," he adds, sounding pleased with himself. "I told her that she had the best dress at the dance. Blondie knows me well enough to know I didn't say it to be nice."
"You think she'll believe you?" I ask wistfully. Caroline's been talking about her prom dress since we were picking out our Barbies' clothes but not our own. I chose the perfect ploy to get her to wash her hands of me.
"It was the truth." He kisses the top of my head. "Notice I didn't tell her she looked the hottest. And I think she's pretty clear on your homicidal fake-out. You held the stake up in the air for like two full minutes before I tackled you. No one for three counties around was convinced that you were actually going to stick her with that twig."
"But I really was going to kill Bonnie." I whisper the words into his neck, because I don't want to hear how they sound aloud.
"I know," he says. "I'm a little surprised you beat me to it, actually."
"It's not funny, Damon!"
"Elena, morality is an emotion. I sort of erased yours. What did you expect you'd be doing except eating people?"
I push myself up on my elbows so I can see his eyes, which are not nearly so matter-of-fact as his voice.
"I turned off my humanity, Damon. Not you. Bonnie, the waitress, what I did to you in New York-" I stop myself, because the list is long and for this second, at least this one second, it's not the most important thing. "Nothing I did is your fault."
"Remember that pesky little sire bond that was ruining our lives before Silas was around to do it?" he asks, his body tightening restlessly beneath me. "Yeah, it kind of makes my suggestion more of a mind-fuck."
I'm already shaking my head. "I know what the sire bond feels like, Damon. When you told me to leave the lake house, I didn't want to go and I had to anyway. But when you told me I could stop feeling, I wanted to. As soon as I thought of it, I did it. That wasn't the sire bond." It was me, being weak. I couldn't bear it and because I took the easy out, everyone I loved had to suffer instead of me. It seems like no matter what I do, that's the way it always turns out.
"None of this is your fault," I tell him.
Damon looks unconvinced, but at least for now, he doesn't argue.
"And Silas." I'm so tired, so so tired. "What are we going to do about Silas?"
"Actually," Damon says cheerfully. "I took care of that yesterday."
I sit up so fast I tip off his chest and end up lying on my side next to him. "What? How?"
"It's kind of a long story. Maybe you should hear it from Bonnie." He tucks a strand of my damp hair behind my ear. "After a nap, a cocktail and square meal or three."
I just look at him.
"Or now," he says with a shrug. "Short version: Bonnie asked me to make her a vampire, and I did."
Damon winces. "Easy on the ears, sweetheart."
"But Bonnie would never, I mean, she hates vampires!" I sputter.
Damon smiles oddly. "Your brother can be very convincing, apparently."
My fingertips go cold and begin to tingle. "My brother?" I manage in a voice strangled of breath.
Damon tucks his hands behind his head and reclines against the pillows. "Judgy claims that the late Gilbert came to her in a dream to convince her not to help Silas."
"Like a dream or like a witch dream?" I ask skeptically.
"Real Ghost-Jeremy dream, according to the Queen of the Weird," Damon tells me, his voice carefully casual. "He said he's happy, hanging out with Ric and Jenna a lot. Says he has more family on the Other Side than he has here." I try not to flinch at the truth of that, keeping my eyes steady on Damon so he'll continue.
"Ghosty-Jer asked her to take care of you for him. He told her if she was a vampire, the Bennett line would end so the Other Side couldn't be destroyed, no one could use her for her power ever again, and she'd be around to look out for you."
I struggle to pull words from the whirl inside my head. "But even if he convinced her, why would she ask you of all people?"
His eyes flick away for just long enough to tell me the answer isn't something he's comfortable saying aloud.
"She thought if she turned with my blood, you guys would pretty much be family," he says with a sardonic smirk.
My hand flutters toward my throat.
He grins. "Plus, no chance of a sire bond."
I laugh, more from the relief of tension than from amusement.
"So she—" I can't finish.
"Yeah, considering she's squirreled away with the complete Virtuous Vamps Motivational Speaking team and a picnic cooler of blood bags, I'd say she's forgiven you."
I roll onto my back and look up at his ceiling: soothingly, uncomplicatedly white.
"So that's it? Silas can't drop the veil to the other side because no one else is a direct descendant of Qetsiyah, Bonnie and Stefan and maybe even Caroline are still speaking to me and you…" I trail off, not quite able to muster the courage to ask.
He shifts onto his side and tips my chin toward him. His eyes are light and steady and when I look into them, I almost catch a glimpse of the girl I might be now.
"Me." He responds in a low voice, and something in my chest settles and eases.
The front door slams and hurried footsteps enter.
"Don't get too comfy yet," he tells me. "It royally pissed off Silas when I turned Bonnie, so we've got to find another way to kill him other than curing him of immortality, because he's hidden the cure now that he knows he can't use it to get back to his old flame. And until we figure it out, we've got the world's oldest, most dangerous creature breathing down our necks."
"Damon?" someone calls from downstairs.
Strangely, I'm not frightened. Maybe it's because I'm a vampire and not so delicate as I once was. Maybe it's because Damon's here and there's nothing this earth can create that he couldn't kill if it threatened his family.
Or maybe it's because this all seems a little too familiar.
I shrug one bare shoulder. "Sounds like Mystic Falls."
Damon smiles, and it's beautiful and dangerous and just a little bit embarrassed. "Sounds like home."
Author's Note: Thanks for sticking around through all the darkness of this story, and special love for all of you kind souls who went the extra mile to review, favorite and follow! And since the story is over, here are some other things you can read:
If you're hating Season 4, try out my full length re-write of the season, "Desperate Love"
If you're needing something to cheer you up, try "Happily Ever After: Salvatore Style": A cute and funny peek into the boarding house, where Damon/Elena and Caroline/Stefan are living happily ever after, with some inevitable friction between couples. Sweet Delena moments with lots of laughter in between when Caroline and Damon devolve into a pranking war. Fluff that is guaranteed to brighten your day!
OR "Princess Elena: A Fairy Tale (Of Sorts)" a parody of TVD by the deviously brilliant Goldnox
And if you'd like something that's not fanfiction, check out my first published novel, a YA survival/romance. You can find it on my website at michellehazenbooks dot com /books/