AN: The fourth chapter got way too long. Here is part two of the Launch party which is guess is now Chapter 5! I didn't get as many reviews last chapter which sucks because I really love to know what you guys think about how things are going so your feedback helps me improve the story and motivates me to keep going. Hopefully I will be updating a lot more regularly now so I would love to know about how you think things are progressing.
I make several references to The Notebook in this chapter. If you haven't seen it, don't even bother reading the chapter. I'm kidding(!) of course, but seriously you should watch it ;) Enjoy the chapter!
I'm wasted, losing time
I'm a foolish, fragile spine
I want all that is not mine
I want him but we're not right
Elena could feel the blood pumping through her body and pulsing in her ears. She was the only one that could do something, the only one that could stop this. She remembered once when she was little, she had been at a park around the corner from her house with her younger brother, Jeremy. The sun was shining so brightly and the afternoon wind was whipping her long dark hair around her face. An 8-year-old Jeremy was on the swings trying to prove that he could reach the sun if he wanted to, gaining momentum with every swing. Eventually, he'd swung so high that he slipped off and had broken his arm on impact. After she had gotten him home, Elena could still picture the disappointed faces of her parents as they told her that she should have stopped it, that she should have known better.
But what about now? It was ten years later and surely she knew better than to allow a highly intoxicated and heartbroken Damon to beat up the CEO of the network, even if he was a deserving bastard. But what could she do? She could throw herself between Damon and Klaus, but since she weighed about 50 pounds less than either of them, that wasn't going to end well for anyone involved. No, what she really needed was a distraction…
Desperately, she flung her arm forward and with all her strength, pulled Damon around to face her. Luckily, thanks to his inebriated state, he wasn't as strong as usual and melted into her arms quickly, his eyes flashing dangerously.
"What the hell are you doing?" he hissed.
She flung his suit jacket off to the side and grabbed his hand, placing it softly on the small of her back. She noticed his eyes linger on her face as she placed her own hand around his neck before lacing the fingers of her free hand with his.
"Dance with me."
His body went still under hers and she saw something linger in his eyes. To return to his mission of attacking Klaus or to stay and dance with Elena? He turned his head and noticed that Klaus and Katherine had been met by Stefan and Pearl and we're now chatting cordially. Elena thanked the heavens that they had stopped fighting for the time being.
She felt him give in. "Sure."
Victory. No-one was getting fired tonight.
"You know that is a $1500 jacket you just threw on the ground." Damon nodded to where his jacket has been discarded and was now being trodden on by the party's patrons. He winced as a particularly sharp pair of Christian Louboutin's stepped on the collar.
"Like you've actually paid for anything in the past year," scoffed Elena.
It was accepted as fact that celebrities got basically everything for free. Just one photo of Damon wearing the Hugo Boss suit would have more than repaid what it cost to gift it to him, especially in LA.
He smirked at her, affirming her statement. "Well, that's not true; I've paid for the odd female acquaintance."
Elena blushed, officially deciding that nothing about Damon Salvatore would surprise her anymore. She could no longer comprehend the time when she had naively thought Damon was just an innocent guy getting his foot in the door of the industry. He was everything she had been warned about and more, and yet she wasn't running.
She noticed he had relaxed his broad shoulders a little and she let out the breath she had been holding since he'd made a beeline for Klaus. Either he had forgotten about his nemesis in three seconds flat or he was playing her so she would drop her guard. She expected the latter and tightened her grip on his shoulder pre-emptively.
"You're repulsive," she shook her head. "Besides, what about Katherine?"
As much of a bad idea as she thought it was to bring up Katherine right now, she wanted to know the answer. Had he been waiting for her this whole time? Was he still waiting, hoping one day she would turn up at his door with a suitcase and confess that it had always been him, Noah and Allie style?
He didn't succeed in masking the look of pain that shot across his features. "What about her?"
Perhaps unintentionally, his eyes darted over to where Katherine was standing in all of her red dress, tanned-skinned, shiny-haired glory. Of course Damon would want her; any guy would. But fall for her? Elena couldn't understand it. Perhaps it was the appeal of wanting someone you couldn't have, someone that was just that little bit unobtainable. That, she thought she might be able to understand.
"You're not Noah, Damon."
He twirled Elena around slowly and she floated back into his arms easily. He crinkled his nose at her. "I'm not who?"
She laughed - this guy wasn't caught up on his popular culture. "Noah… from The Notebook." He continued to stare quizzically at her and she sighed. "Allie and Noah were each other's first loves and Allie turns up at his door one day after seven years apart. She is engaged to another guy but in the end she chooses Noah because they challenge each other and fight and have passion, as opposed to just being content."
Damon raised his eyebrows. "He sounds like a dick."
"I'm sure you would get on famously then."
They danced in silence as "Video Games" by Lana Del Rey played in the background and coloured spotlights circled around them. Though she hadn't known him for long, silence with Damon was easy. Her whole life, Elena had talked her way through awkward silences and pauses, feeling the need to fill every moment with conversation. She had talked her way into every job she had ever had, and out of every bad decision. But now, after the insane night they had had, she was happy to be silent and dance with Damon. Inside, she was celebrating the fact that he seemed momentarily calm and was sobering up a little. In fact, the quiet and proximity allowed her to appreciate Damon in all his glory, unbeknownst to him. Because of their height difference, her eyes reached his pink, full lips almost perfectly and she soon realised they were not the most convenient feature for her to be faced with. Being so close to his neck she could also smell the cologne he had obviously put on before coming and the scent was slightly dizzying. And although he was slightly drunk and dishevelled, his dark hair unkempt and his tie undone, her heart constricted at the sight of him.
As they danced, Elena could feel her heart drumming in her chest and could feel the soft pulse of Damon's under her fingers. At work this week she had been close to Damon, many times, and every time she had felt it - the spark that ran between them. She had accepted that he was so out of her league it was ridiculous (not to mention infatuated with Katherine), but the connection they had didn't falter.
"I'm going to to go the bathroom…I need some air." she said, stepping away from him.
If Damon had noticed her discomfort, he didn't show it, and he smirked at her. "I've been told I have that effect," he said to her retreating back.
She winced. If only he knew.
Elena splashed water on her cheeks and felt relief wash over her. She couldn't tell if it was the dancing or the champagne, but her head was spinning. She had had an exhausting night between trying to make Stefan happy, meeting new people, and playing babysitter to Damon.
Damon Salvatore, possibly the most screwed up, beautiful guy she had ever met. Sometimes she just wanted to scream at him, 'You're a great catch' just so his self-esteem could start to climb its way out of the toilet. Sure, she knew he was a smarmy jerk sometimes - hell most of the time - but underneath the bullshit façade he put up, he was a good person.
"Come on, Elena. Just get through tonight and on Monday, everything will be normal again," she told herself. Maybe talking to yourself was one of the first signs of going insane, but Elena didn't think her life could get any crazier than the past week. Despite starting her job with the intention of having a completely normal experience, she had managed to kiss that goodbye within a few short hours. On top of moving to LA and meeting a plethora of new people, Elena still reminded herself to breathe sometimes.
As if out of a movie (what WAS it with this town?) the door of the toilet stall behind her opened and out came the devil herself. Having only previously seen her across the set, Elena was at once struck with how beautiful she was. With long curled chestnut coloured hair and huge brown eyes framed with the longest lashes Elena had ever seen, Katherine was exquisite. Not to to mention the $3000 Elie Saab dress she was donning for the evening that perfectly hugged her curvy figure. It was enough to make Elena feel like she had shown up in her sweats.
Elena thanked the heavens she hadn't said anything too embarrassing out loud and gave Katherine a small smile. "You could say that."
"We haven't gotten a chance to talk properly," Katherine spoke slowly and her voice was husky, more so than Elena had noticed on set. She also noticed the last remnants of a bruise on her cheek, a reminder of the abusive relationship she felt she was trapped in. She stepped closer to Elena and leaned against the countertop. "Are you enjoying the company?" Elena didn't miss the double meaning. On the surface, her words asked if she was enjoying working for the TV Network, but her inflection screamed that she was asking about Damon. She must have spotted them dancing together and Elena relished the thought.
She fixed her with a stony gaze, "It's great. I mean, it's not perfect, but what is? To be honest I think it's been damaged by a few old shows it couldn't let go of." Two could play this game and Elena was in the mood for foul play. What was Katherine trying to do? Get to know her? Thinking back to her semi-naked body mounted on top of Damon's, Elena had seen quite enough of the woman to last an entire lifetime.
Quick as anything, Katherine's eyes narrowed at her comment. Elena went to leave and was stopped by Katherine's bony hand on her forearm. Her touch was icy and Elena felt her pulse quicken. It wasn't that she was scared of Katherine, but she didn't like to be alone with the woman. She was far too manipulative for her liking.
"But sometimes the new shows just mess everything up." She said it softly, but it was enough to have an impact.
Pouting slightly, she shot Elena a meaningful glance before she glided out, swinging her hips seductively as she walked. Elena watched her leave and felt fury coursing through her. If Katherine wanted a war, a war was what she would get.
Damon felt significantly more sober after Elena left him for the bathroom. He didn't know if it was her, or the alcohol slowly leaving his body, but his mind was clearer than it had been in what felt like forever. Elena was right, he wasn't some romantic hero that landed the girl at the end. He was just a guy that usually lost the people he cared about, and who ended up alone. He scanned the room for Katherine and saw her making her way towards the door on the other side of the room.
He approached her quickly before she left and touched her waist gently. The motion reminded him of what it had been like to hold her and a cold fist clamped its way around his heart. They were standing at the back of the room near the door, under a picture of Klaus that read 'Thank you to our CEO!'. He felt slightly sick to stand this close to it.
She spun around to face him. "What do you want, Damon?" The question was impatient and bitchy and everything that Katherine was.
Damon couldn't help but smile. "For the longest time, I would have said you." He had said it finally, the blunt truth that had been playing on his mind for months. All he had really wanted was her, because in reality, when Katherine was happy and unburdened, she was magnificent. He remembered a day he had shared with her and Stefan when they first started filming, months before she had married Klaus. They had decided to make a day out of Venice Boardwalk, but wanted to ride there instead of the usual quick drive. Damon could remember Katherine's long hair trailing behind her as she sped past him on her bike, nearly knocking him over, but still smiling broadly at him. "You'd better watch out for that one," Stefan had yelled at him.
Damon thought he had fallen in love with her that day as he watched her run at full speed into the water, shedding her layers of clothes as she did so and squealing with delight. He had soon realised that when Katherine was happy, she was the glorious creature he had opened his heart to at his most vulnerable point. But when she wasn't - which lately was most of the time - she carried darkness around her, infecting everyone and everything she came in contact with. Since marrying Klaus, Damon had watched the light leave her eyes as she slowly came to the realisation that she shouldn't have married someone she didn't love. But it was too late. She continued seeing Damon, but she had no love left to give, as if being with Klaus had burned it all away.
Her eyes widened. "Do we have to talk about this now?"
It was time, time to say the words that he should have said months ago. He wasn't Noah and he wasn't going to wait for her to become the girl she had once been, the girl he had fallen in love with. He wasn't going to wait for her for anything.
Keeping his voice steady he said, "No, we don't. In fact, apart from work, you and I have nothing to say to each other anymore."
If she was surprised by his outburst she didn't show it, and she smoothly ran her hands down her dress nonchalantly.
"Is this about the new girl? The writer?"
"Don't you dare bring Elena into this when you have made your choice loud and clear, Katherine. You chose Klaus."
"You say it like I HAD a choice." Her eyes were shining with tears now and as if on cue, Klaus appeared at Katherine's side. Great. This was exactly what Damon needed. Her jerk of a husband to show up just as she was starting to cry.
"Is everything okay here, mate?"
Damon rolled his eyes. First at the fact that Klaus had called him mate, when he was anything but a mate, and second, he hadn't even thought to ask his wife if everything was okay, but had turned straight to Damon. Damon had never gotten on too well with Klaus, and usually put it down to him being a grade-A dick; however, since learning about the inner workings of his marriage to Katherine, he had realised something else about the CEO - he was a power hungry, egotistical villain that stopped at nothing to get what he wanted.
Klaus took in the entire scene with a fiery gaze and saw Damon facing Katherine, who still had tears in her eyes. He put a hand on Damon's shoulder, separating the two of them. "Step away, mate," he said in his thick British tone.
Damon stepped closer to him, brushing off his arm. "Don't fucking lay a finger on me, mate. I'm not your wife."
He said the last bit quietly as to not attract attention. He didn't want to crash the party, for the sake of Pearl, but he wanted Klaus to know: he knew what he was doing to Katherine, and it wasn't okay, not with him.
He leaned in to whisper, "As a matter-of-fact, the next time you lay a finger on her will the last time you have fingers."
Klaus' eyes widened but he said nothing. He did, however, stare daggers into Damon and step back towards to his wife, snaking an arm around her waist. Katherine sniffed but said nothing.
And Damon walked off, throwing his jacket over his shoulder as he did so.
The cool August breeze whipping around her, Elena stepped back outside onto the marble steps. One of the many things she loved about California was the fact that the days were gloriously long and the nights were balmy. The final days of summer were closing in on them and she could feel the whispers of cooler weather about to take over. But now, she stood watching the final remnants of the sun kiss the horizon goodbye, and Stefan's silhouette highlighted in navy and gold on the third bottom step of the grand staircase.
"You remembered me…" he said as she approached him, treading the staircase carefully in her heels. He didn't seem upset or bitter, and Elena got the feeling those emotions weren't really his thing. His demeanour told her he was simply exhausted and resigned.
"It's okay, Elena. I saw you dancing with Damon. I know you have a thing for him."
Elena would have laughed out loud if it weren't for the expression on his face that told her he was deadly serious. "Me? And Damon? God, Stefan, no. I was looking after him because Rebekah asked me to keep an eye on him, because he was drunk and she didn't want him embarrassing us, that's all."
Stefan almost smiled. "Elena, come on, you looked after him because Rebekah wanted you to, but you danced with him because YOU wanted to."
Elena blanched. Stefan knew Damon hated Klaus, but she didn't want to reveal that Damon would have punched him in the middle of the party if she hadn't intervened. She stared back at Stefan and he closed the distance between them. She didn't have an answer for him, and she didn't want to lie, so she said nothing as the party buzzed around them.
"You're going to be amazing at this job; you know that, right?" He tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. Elena didn't bother telling him the strand was meant to be hanging loose by her face.
"Thank you, Stefan," she grabbed his hand and squeezed it tightly. It wasn't fireworks or magic or even the tiniest hint of a spark, but it was nice and comfortable and safe, and right now, exactly what she needed. Her mind was still whirling with thoughts of Katherine, of dancing with Damon, and a wave of exhaustion swept over her. She felt like she hadn't slept properly in months.
Letting go of Stefan's hand, she stepped towards one of the long black cars in the driveway. "I should go home. I think I'm done for tonight."
"See you Monday?"
"Monday. So we can do it all again."
Damon ran his fingers through his hair as he passed out on his couch the second he got into his apartment. What a night. The alcohol had well and truly worn off now, and his mind was pulling him to sleep at a rapid pace. What a night…
Two hours later, Damon was awoken suddenly by an urgent knock on the door. He sat up quickly, disorientated since he had fallen asleep on his couch fully clothed. Begrudgingly, he walked to his door. Katherine used to come very late at night to see him, but she hadn't in a long time.
As he swung the door open, he was met with history repeating itself, and Katherine Pierce standing on the threshold. The sight that had once filled him with simultaneous arousal, happiness, and excitement now just filled his stomach with dread. What could she possibly want? At 2am, nonetheless. He sighed, exhausted.
"Katherine, what are you doing here? I told you, I'm done."
He knew it sounded harsh, but he meant every word. Not only did she have the nerve to wake him up in the middle of the night, she still felt she could run to him when things in her life - the life she chose - weren't going smoothly. She had been crying; that much was obvious. Black makeup was running down her usually flawless face and the curls of her hair had been pinned up in a knot on the top of her head. She was wearing the same dress as earlier, but had thrown a mismatched cardigan over the top and had discarded her heels and was wearing simple ballet flats. Despite his anger at her, Damon couldn't help but feel for her more than he ever had, but it wasn't love; it was pity.
Her lower lip trembled. "So am I, Damon."
His eyes scanned hers. If she was done, why the hell was she here in the middle of the night looking like something the cat had dragged in?
"I left Klaus."
Damon felt his breath escape him, flowing quickly from his ribcage. This couldn't be happening. The very same night he tells Katherine he doesn't want anything to do with her is the night she finally walks away from her toxic marriage? The same night she finally chooses him? Damon realised quickly that sometimes the words you wait for are not so sweet once you hear them.
"Can I stay with you tonight?"
It wasn't really a question, and the Damon that didn't want to take crap from Katherine Pierce anymore - the Damon that didn't want to be manipulated - screamed at him as he beckoned for her to come inside. The other Damon, the one that had loved this girl for the past year of his life, who couldn't bear to see her in pieces, won. She needed him right now, and whatever angry tirade was going on inside his head, he couldn't erase everything that had happened between them.
But as he closed her door behind her, allowing her access back into life, all he could hear was Elena's voice ringing in his ears, the image of her blushing cheeks running circles in his mind, her sly smile commanding, "Dance with me."
I know I said this one would come basically straight away but I have rewritten most of it over the last few days. I got a sudden burst of inspiration that took it in a different direction so I went with that instead.
As always, thank you to my angel Kim, (who is FF writer kimbuhlay and twitter ohmyninadobreva) for beta-ing this story. Who knows, maybe one day I will learn how to use a comma and I won't need her but it doesn't seem likely.
Song for title and quote is 'Smother' by Daughter. Hope you liked the chapter. Please review and let me know your thoughts!