Summary: Originally written for Kittyinaz‘s July Writing Contest. On his death bed after Tyler’s killing bite, Damon has an out of body experience that leads him to a revelation finally giving his eternity meaning… Bella/Damon.
Thank you to everyone who voted for this story in the contest and be sure to check Kittyinaz‘s page for more fun challenges and excellent stories!
Living On A Prayer
He thought he knew what to expect…
After all, it hadn’t been that long ago it’d been Rose in his place. Rose… losing herself inch by precious inch to insanity, past and present blurring until it had been a kindness for him to drive a stake through her heart. One of his most selfless acts.
Damon scoffed as he watched himself writhing on his bed, Stefan and the rest of the Scoobies running around trying to find a miracle cure to save him from the werewolf bite that was killing him.
Who’d have thought that dying would be a spectator sport?
He hated watching – it was so undignified – but was unable to look away from the image of himself, sweating and groaning, a scant few hours away from dying. Like for real this time. His kind already had one foot in the grave but he never thought he’d ever plant the other foot in too.
No one ever really did, he supposed.
Add to the fact that it was because of a fucking dog… As if dying wasn’t enough he was now in a right mood about it.
Stefan ran his hands through his hair again and if the gesture hadn’t reeked of regret and sorrow it would have made Damon laugh how it made his hair stick up on end afterwards. Kind of like Don King. Really, he wished Stefan would just end this for them all. Damon hated this out of body experience and didn’t relish watching those he supposed he could consider his friends fretting over him, reaching out blindly at straws when in his heart, Damon had already given up.
It is what it is, he thought. Sucked he was going to be dead, but hey, that’s the way the cookie crumbled. Life and death just went hand in hand and the only way one knew they had truly lived was to die and face their own mortality; it was true even for those considered immortal. The devil had called Damon’s number and if he was going to go, he wanted it to be fast and preferably in style. Not this limbo of watching people rush to save his already doomed ass while he writhed like a stuck pig. There was no dignity in this death and he really thought Stefan owed it to him to put on his big girl panties, grab a stake and put them all out of their misery.
“You have lived rashly,” a voice sounded from behind him, no louder than a whisper on a raven’s wings. Though there was a surprising lack of emotion behind the words, Damon could have sworn it sounded like him; as if another copy of himself was standing behind him giving them voice.
Not bothering to turn around, his eyes remained glued to his own death scene. Damon snorted, saying, “Well what do you expect when I had nothing to live for?”
“Is that what you believe?”
The emotions he’d been suppressing hit him like a cinder block dropped to the head. He felt like Wile E. Coyote getting hit by his own anvil, falling victim to his own schemes. “What good’s an eternity without a purpose?” he asked, the words grating out around the lump in his throat. He continued quieter yet, “Without someone to spend it with?”
“Hm-m,” he got in return and the dismissive tone to his uncharacteristic confession pissed him off and had him whirling around to face –
There was nothing there.
“This is it,” he said, the words hollow as the fell. “I’ve gone well and truly mad now. I must already be dead…”
“Not yet,” the voice sounded again, once more from behind him. “You are in a holding pattern.”
Fuck this metaphysical shit, Damon thought. “And just who the fuck are you? The ghost of Christmas Past? Let’s just skip that bullshit and hit the fucking play button letting me die because I’ve got shit to do in Hell.”
He didn’t bother trying to face the voice again but Damon’s fist clenched, resisting the urge to throw a punch.
Who’d have thought dying would be such a fucking hassle!
“No,” the bodiless specter said.
Damon froze. “No?” he parroted in mock patience. He was coiled, a cobra ready to strike with a poisonous bite, and if this being didn’t cut to the fucking chase he was gonna rip his nonexistent head off, no body or not.
Where there’s a will, there’s a way…
“No,” the being reaffirmed. “Your fate is yet to be decided but your path is set. You say you have no direction so we will give you one and see how you do – this will be your defining moment. Tread carefully.”
Before he could hurl another sharp quip, a blinding white light seared his vision. Stefan, Elena… the him shivering in bed like some sort of heroin addict going through withdraw… it all melted away as he was blinded by white. Still, the imprint of the scene lingered on the back of his eyelids like an image that stays after staring into the sun for too long; the picture hung on the edge of his mental grasp as the light receded and he found himself standing in a barren field in bumfuck nowhere.
“Fucking beam me up, Scotty,” Damon groaned, folding in half with his hands on his knees, trying to catch his breath. Whatever it was that’d just happened hit like a stake to the gut. Not life threatening but no fucking picnic either.
“What the hell was that?” he heard a girl’s voice ask, sounding just as stunned as he felt.
Damon snapped his head up and blue eyes met brown. She was a pretty little thing, he noted somewhere in the back of his mind, slim with curves in all the right places. But there was something sad behind those wide doe-like eyes of hers and despite the instant attraction he felt for her physically, it was the resonation of familiarity that hit him hardest as he stared into those sad eyes.
“You will not distract me, little Bella,” another voice sounded, a faint French flair to it.
Damon broke the staring contest with the girl and saw, of all fucking things, a Cold One looking like he was stuck in time between the French Revolution and the Bob Marley reggae era.
“I am doing you a kindness, you see? Victoria wants you to suffer. She would drag out your death for days, months even, whereas I will be quick. This is a kindness,” the Cold One said while nodding, completely ignoring Damon’s presence.
Which did not sit well with him at all. He hated being ignored.
The girl – Bella apparently – gave the Cold One a remarkably unconcerned glance before turning back to Damon.
“Who are you? How did you get here?” she asked, sounding completely baffled.
“You’re guess is as good as mine, sweetheart,” he snarked, his gaze not leaving the Cold One. The creature didn’t even flinch at the sound of his voice. There was no indication that he’d heard Damon speak at all.
“You know who I am, child,” the Cold One answered her. “You will not trick me into sparing you, though your mind games are an admirable attempt. But I’m so thirsty…”
He crouched, ready to launch himself forward and deliver a killing strike.
“Protect the girl,” the disembodied voice from before his mysterious transportation ordered Damon, each word heavy as they sank into his brain and registered. But he couldn’t even be sure it was the unknown being that had spoken, because before the words had even finished, Damon was in action.
He flashed to the girl’s side, one hand on the back of her head as he bent her over just in time to miss the Cold One’s hand curled up into a claw flying at her throat.
The dreadlocked vampire’s eyes widened but before he could give voice to his amazement, Damon blurred behind him and with a quick pop! had his head off and thrown across the field.
“Ah,” Damon sighed with the air of one slipping off their shoes after a long day’s work. “I feel so much better now. Nothing like ripping off heads to brighten the day…”
“Um,” Bella said hesitatingly, taking a safe step back from him. “Okay?”
“Now, now, no need for that,” he nodded to her retreating steps. “Looks like today’s your lucky day and I’m your knight in shining armor.”
She stopped retreating. “Well, thanks for that, I suppose. But who are you and how did you get here? And how come Laurent couldn’t see you?”
“The fucker didn’t see me, did he?” Damon asked pensively. “But you can see me…”
His mind raced, touching on the memory of being bitten, of the painful shakes wracking his body, the sensation of watching himself dying in some sort of out of body experience… Then he thought about the voice that sounded suspiciously like himself, his words about purpose and direction.
Everything that had happened before his abrupt appearance in this field flashed through his head up until that voice reverberating in his head.
Protect the girl.
“You’ve got to be fucking shitting me,” he barked out an unamused laugh as it all clicked. “She’s my purpose? My direction?”
“I’m sorry,” Bella said. She sounded like someone trying to talk down a dangerous mental patient. “But who are you talking to and what are you talking about?”
“Better buckle up, sweetheart. I think we’re gonna have one wild ride, though I doubt you’ll believe what I tell you,” he warned.
But to his amazement, she took his tale in stride. They started walking back to her truck so they could reach to the relative safety of her home, exchanging stories as they made the trek. From her perspective, she’d been standing in the meadow with Laurent telling her about Victoria’s vendetta against her, about how she was going to die a gruesome, painful death. One minute he was promising to save her from such a fate by killing her quickly, the next she’d been blinded by a white light and he was there like some sort of avenging angel.
“I could’ve sworn I saw the impression of wings and fire, but I think I must have imagined it. You don’t strike me as the angel type,” she said dryly and Damon smirked.
“Oh you’ve no idea,” he said.
Between the two of them, they quickly worked out that whatever or whoever had sent him there meant for him to guard her like some sort of last trial before he went up to St. Peter to be judged and his eternity decided or whatnot. It all seemed rather pointless to him – one good deed at the end of it all could hardly out balance decades of sin – but having nothing better to do he resigned himself to Bella’s company and the pleasure of killing whoever came after her. If he was stuck with her he might as well take his fun where he could get it.
As the days slowly melted away, they easily confirmed that no one but her could see him. They’d tried the horror movie standards: whispering in people’s ears, ghostly sighing, scratching on windows and doors… The only one who heard was Bella and she put a stop to their experiments real quick when he took to trying to smash pots and pans together to wake up her dad, Charlie.
They also learned that while, yes, he could physically touch and move things, it appeared he could only do so when they were alone or if she was in danger. He’d learned real quick that she attracted danger more than he drew trouble. Not even day two in their acquaintance and she’d tripped into on-coming traffic and almost got flattened pancake style by a semi. He found himself thankful that he still had his vampire strength and reflexes, certain that she was going to put them well to the test.
It also quickly became apparent to Damon that Bella didn’t really have any friends. He found that odd because she really was quite attractive in an innocently sexy sort of way and she had a dry if somewhat biting sense of humor that had him laughing more than he had in years. She was pretty self-deprecating though, almost no self-esteem to speak of, and when he finally pried the story of the Cold Ones out of her, he understood why.
To his amazement, he found himself confiding in her, telling things no other soul knew. There was an odd sense of security had in her presence and a freedom in believing he was likely going to die anyway so what would it matter if he spilled the beans to some girl? It wasn’t like she could share the information with someone and so the more he got her to talk, the more he found himself talking in return until she knew everything. The good, the bad and the ugly, as it were.
Still, she never shunned him. Never shied away from letting him know he’d been an idiot, but also never judged him for his past.
“Who am I to judge you, Damon?” she said one day after he’d snapped at her lackluster reaction to his sordid history. “Seems to me like you’re hard enough on yourself as it is. Maybe it’s time you forgive yourself for the past and focus on the present. It may not be much of a life for you right now, being stuck with me, but at least you’re not alone, right?”
Not alone, the words often echoed in his mind whenever he’d look at her. He found himself liking the notion… liking her…
Strange, he thought at present, reclining back on her bed as he waited for her to come out of the shower. It was kind of like gazing into the past and seeing his human self when he looked at her. He’d been so in love – or so he thought – with Katherine and ready to throw his human life away to spend an eternity with her. But she’d ended up scorning his love and tossing him aside like a child bored with a toy. Isabella had lived much the same with this prick Edward she’d told him about and Damon found himself sorely wishing the asshole would show up and he could exercise his newfound duty as this girl’s friend and guard (or whatever) and set his sparkly ass on fire.
The thought brought a true smile to his face and he remembered fondly Bella’s reaction when he’d told her he was a vampire, or had been before being bitten and caught in this strange limbo act of living ghost. She’d stared at him for a long moment before asking, a slight stutter of the prick’s name, “So you’re like E-Edward and his family?”
He’d snorted and said, “My dick doesn’t sparkle, thank you very much.”
His scathing response had the desired effect and Bella sputtered out a shocked laugh as he smirked at her. Once she managed to catch her breath, smiling tears leaking from her Bambi eyes, she’d giggled, “Well, I wasn’t talking about just your dick, Damon, although you can be a big one.”
He’d given her a patronizing look at that, saying, “Laugh it up, sweetheart, but if you’re not careful I may feel compelled to prove to you how much my dick doesn’t sparkle… You know, for the sake of science.”
A slow bubble of warmth blossomed in his chest as she’d flushed bright red, her mouth falling open at his threat. The warmth continued to unfurl, spreading through him as each day passed in her company, slowly seeing that deadened look of sadness in her eyes giving way to happiness and smiles.
I did that, he thought, folding his arms behind his head as he heard the shower cut off across the hall. I make her happy. There was no small amount of pride and bemusement behind the realization. A small part of his mind called up Elena’s face and instead of the painful yearning he’d always associated with her, all he felt was a pleasant ambivalence. He wondered how that had happened – when did Isabella slip her way past his defenses and replace the woman he had fancied himself in love with?
It made him doubt he even knew what love was. He thought he’d loved Katherine, thought he’d loved Elena. Maybe a part of him did, but that love was a shallow imitation of what he was starting to feel for Isabella; what he was suspecting she was starting to feel for him if he was interpreting her constant blushing and shy smiles correctly.
He remembered those words he’d confessed in the safety of his oncoming death… how he’d always yearned for a purpose and someone to live for. Twice he’d thought he found it only to be proven wrong.
Perhaps the third time really was the charm.
Being bitten by that punk Tyler Lockwood was turning into the best thing that had ever happened to him, even if it did result in his ultimate death.
Bella broke his train of thought, hovering timidly in her doorway while clutching a faded white towel wrapped around her as though it was a forcefield.
“Erm,” she said breathlessly, cheeks the ripened pink of a sweet apple – how he wanted to taste her forbidden fruit. “I forgot my clothes.”
He smirked. He’d noticed that right away when she’d announced she was going to take her shower and had conveniently forgotten to remind her before she left to do so. “Well by all means, sweetheart. Don’t mind me – it is your room, after all,” he teased her with a wink.
She bit her lip and it took all of him not to moan and launch himself at her, replace her teeth with his own. Tiny drops of water tracked down her skin, his sharp eyes following the sensual movement. He wanted to trace their path with his tongue; he wanted all the parts the droplets feared to tread for himself.
Moving with a quick grace he never would’ve attributed to her, Bella jogged into the room, opened miscellaneous drawers and grabbed her clothes before making a hasty retreat. There was no stopping his self-satisfied chuckle and the slight slamming of the bathroom door told him she heard him well enough and was not amused. It only made him laugh louder.
Back before his smile could completely fade, Bella gave him a half-hearted glare. “You just think you’re so cute, don’t you?”
“Well if the shoe fits…” he trailed off.
“Sometimes I’d like to smack you with that shoe, not that it’d do me any good,” she smiled wryly.
“Oh come on, sweetheart. You know you love me,” he said. He’d meant for it to come out teasingly, but his smile faded as their eyes locked in an intense stare.
There was a beat of silence.
Taking pity on her, Damon grinned, saying, “And besides, where would you be without me?”
Bella remained serious. “Where indeed?” she whispered, her eyes softening on him. “Damon?” she began to speak, her tone low and serious, wiping away his grin. “What do you think will happen when your mission or whatever is over? Will you – will you be dead, like in the forever sense?”
He could see the thought troubled her. Her eyes – he’d always been drawn to them – filled with unshed tears as she wrapped her arms around herself, a self-hug designed to keep her from falling apart.
Pulling his arms out from behind his head, he held them open in silent invitation. There was no hesitation. She darted over to him and burrowed into his chest. His arms closed around her and he knew in that moment he’d never let her go, not of his own free will.
A telling spot of wetness bloomed on his shirt and his arms tightened around her as he made a soft shushing sound of comfort.
“Now, now, sweetheart,” he whispered as his hands ran soothing circles up and down her back. “You remember what that voice told me about not dying – don’t think it’s in the cards for me yet.”
She sniffled against him, her hands fisting his shirt with all her strength. “But then what? You’ll wake up back in Mystic Falls, all the way across the country? Forget about me?”
“Bite your tongue, Isabella,” he said sternly even as he maintained the soft motions of his hands. “No matter what happens, I could never forget about you.”
“But that’s always how it goes in the stories,” she said. “The guy has a near-death experience, has some sort of enlightened adventure, but when he goes back he forgets everything, even the girl.”
Though he knew her words were born of her own insecurities, the ones Edward sparkle-dick Cullen had preyed on, he couldn’t deny the idea hadn’t crossed his mind as well. It was a solid fear of his – waking up back in Mystic Falls and finding out he’d merely hallucinated Bella into existence. He didn’t know if he could take that kind of disappointment and feared it would be what finally broke him after over a century of existing. If he lost Bella, he’d switch his emotions off – for good this time. At least if he ended up dying, he’ll have died knowing her… Seemed like the better choice of the two to him.
Bringing his lips to her forehead, he placed a tender kiss there before moving them down to her ear to whisper, “Then it’ll be up to you to be the strong one, Isabella. If I’m unable to come back to you, then you have to come find me.”
“Me?” she asked, disbelieving. “Go to Mystic Falls? Me be strong?”
“I know you can, sweetheart. When the time comes you’ll be surprised how strong you are but know this,” he cupped her cheek and brought her gaze to his. “I’ll have never had any doubt.”
Her hands tightened on his shirt and she pressed closer to him.
“Promise me, Isabella,” he said low and fervently like a man on his deathbed making his last request. “If I leave and don’t come back within twenty-four hours I want you to assume it’s because I can’t and you get your ass in gear and come to me. And if by some freak of nature I don’t remember you – you stay. You stay and make me remember or you stay and,” he cut off before steeling himself, finishing hoarsely, “And you make me fall in love with you all over again.”
She stilled in his arms and the steady beat of her heart sounded like a drum his life now marched to. “Damon,” she breathed and he’d never heard someone say his name in such a manner; so full of love and longing, like someone whispering a devout prayer.
“Promise me,” he insisted, his own heart heavy as it lay out in the open, clutched in her unknowing, tiny hands. “Promise me, Isabella.”
He felt her nod against his chest before she lifted her head, her eyes burning with determination. “I promise, Damon. If you can’t come to me, I’ll go to you. As strange as this whole thing is; well, it doesn’t change the fact that it’s still the best thing to have ever happened to me. You’re the best thing to have ever happened to me.”
Blinking passed the tears he never would’ve admitted to, Damon sealed her promise with a light kiss to her lips, his body sighing in pleasure even as it felt like a bolt of lightning was shooting through him. Fucking hell, if that’s what a little peck made him feel he could hardly imagine what a real kiss would be like… not to mention sex.
But for once he wanted to do right by the someone so he pulled away and contented himself with holding her close as she drifted off to sleep. He would take great pleasure in defiling her, oh yes, but only after he knew he could keep her. That whole bullshit about ‘better to have loved and lost’ was just that – bullshit – and his dead heart ached at the thought he may well have to leave his Bella one day soon. He couldn’t exist in limbo forever.
As it was with such things, that very time came the following day.
He’d accompanied her to school, as was his practice, enjoying making snide comments and faces at her and watching as she struggled to maintained her composure. He cracked it often enough and while she acted annoyed, complaining that the kids at Forks High were going to think her even crazier than they already did, he could tell she enjoyed his game. Bella, he knew, sometimes acted like a stick in the mud because she felt like that was how she was supposed to act, not because she really felt that way. For that reason alone, he continued to push her boundaries. He wanted to show her it was alright to enjoy being a little naughty.
Or a lot naughty, he smirked, eyeing her as she started the drive back home, absentmindedly humming a song with a soft smile on her face.
With a teasing smile, he hopped out of her truck once she’d put it in park in her driveway, dashing over and opening her door with a gallant flourish.
She blushed for him and he wiggled his eyebrows as she slipped her hand in his and lost her balance as she climbed out, crashing against him.
“No need to throw yourself at me, sweetheart,” he said, his hands gripping her hips.
Before she could reply, he heard it, a low threatening hiss coming from the trees surrounding her house as someone started for them. The steps were light, inaudible to Bella’s human ears, and circled the perimeter like the way a shark circled a wounded fish.
Damon froze, his fingers flexing on her hips as he subtly started to match the movement, keeping his body in between hers and the approaching threat.
“Don’t be scared,” he whispered though there was no danger of being overheard. “But you need to slowly make your way to the backyard. No sudden movements. You just got home from school and want to do some light reading in the fresh air, got it?”
Her heart stuttered but his smart girl gave no reply, simply giving him a quick stare before she reached back into her truck and grabbed her backpack, making her way to the backyard as he’d said.
He hated using her as bait but was limited in options. If he’d sent her into the house who knew what sort of damage would be done, not only to house and home, but to Bella herself if she got caught in the middle of a fight. No, he decided. Best use the privacy and openness of the backyard to take care of the fool who thought it a good idea to threaten his girl.
The fool in question wasted no time in appearing the instant Bella sat down.
“Well, well, what have we here,” a cold, musical voice sneered.
A Cold One materialized a mere six feet in front of them, red hair outshone only by the slight sparkle of her skin.
“Victoria,” Bella greeted, the name falling from her lips like a leadened curse.
Damon’s lips lifted in a silent snarl.
“Hello Bella,” Victoria said in mocking politeness. Her bell-like voice grated on Damon’s ears and had the hair on the back of his neck standing on end. “I’ve been waiting for this for some time. Shame Edward won’t be here to witness your death. Seems he doesn’t love his little pet after all. Still, something tells me he’ll be hurt when he hears of how I peeled the flesh from your bones,” she smiled, teeth flashing like a shark.
Bella shuddered but she remained remarkably cool, her eyes meeting Damon’s who gave her a reassuring wink as he moved in front of her, waiting to strike.
A small smile curled her lips. “You’re welcome to try, Victoria,” Bella said before looking back down at her book as though unconcerned by the redhead.
Infuriated at Bella’s lack of fear, Victoria hissed and crouched, springing through the air like a mountain lion pouncing on a deer. But unluckily for her, she only jumped straight into Damon’s outstretched hand, his fingers curling around her throat as his nails sliced through the skin there like a hot knife through butter.
He wanted to draw it out. Wanted this woman to scream for mercy as he returned the favor of fulfilling her threat to Bella onto her. But Damon was an impatient sort and could think of far better things to fill his time with – such as finally tracing that delicious blush of his girl’s with his tongue to wherever it led him.
That thought in mind, he made quick work of the Cold One, popping off her head and limbs as easily as a child pulled off the arms from a Barbie doll. He stacked them into a pile for burning, whistling as he tossed arms, legs and random chunks of her stone flesh.
A strong sense of happiness and pride flowed over him. His Bella was safe – he had made it so. Turning to the girl in question, he found that she had put away her book and was watching him with a faint amused glint to her eyes.
Her eyes really were quite lovely and he had such a soft spot for them. They were like two cups of hot chocolate, always making him feel warm and content with just the slightest touch of them.
Grinning, Damon went to take a step to her but found his limbs locked as though wrapped in an invisible straightjacket.
“Damon?” he heard her ask as he struggled to get his feet to move.
“Your task is complete.”
Damon froze. Shit, shit, shit, no – no, don’t take me from her…
It was The Voice, the one that had sent him here and hadn’t heard from since the command, ‘Protect the girl,’ had been uttered.
“No,” he gasped in denial, fighting even harder to move.
Bella shot to her feet. “What’s wrong?”
A slow tingling started in his toes, creeping up his feet and into his legs.
“I don’t want to go back,” the words tore from his lips, raw and bleeding as he struggled with everything in him to move.
“Damon,” Bella gasped, running to him as realization hit her.
She threw his arms around his neck and it killed him he could not do the same.
“Please,” she breathed. “Please don’t leave me.”
The words seared his heart and he swore, “It’s not by choice. I don’t want to go.”
The tingling was up to his waist now and he knew what little time they had together was almost out.
She started crying, great wracking sobs that shook her small body into his. “Please,” she kept saying over and over again, gripping him as tight as she could as though to anchor him to her.
“Isabella,” he said sharply. He was feeling light-headed, his vision blurring and spinning. “Isabella, remember your promise. Remember,” he said, hoping she could hear him as the white light struck and she faded away.
“I’ll remember. I love you,” he heard her say, the words a faint confession that sounded as though they came from the end of a long tunnel.
Up became down, left became right. The white light blinded him until all movement stopped and everything turned deathly silent, the faint warmth of Bella’s body against him still lingering.
“Remember what you have learned, Damon Salvatore,” the voice, his voice, said right before Damon’s eyes snapped open and he was shooting up in bed.
“Isabella,” the name rented from him, a desperate plea that had the others in the room springing back in confusion.
“Damon,” Stefan said, coming to his brother’s side with a frown of concern. “How do you feel?”
Memories swirled in his mind, real and fantasy mixing until his head ached as much as a small spot above his chest did. It felt like a hole had been punched through him and someone had torn something out, something vital taken from him forever.
“How the fuck do you think I feel?” he snapped, trying to sort his thoughts and make sense of the images swirling in his head.
“I love you,” a woman’s voice echoed causing a shiver to run down his spine.
“Isabella,” the name fell from him again and the spinning came to an abrupt halt on the picture of a brunette girl, doe-like eyes smiling at him as she blushed and laughed.
He rubbed his eyes. “Isabella,” he said again, finding great comfort in the shape of her name on his lips.
Was it a dream? A hallucination?
No, something within him screamed. It’d been real – it had to have been.
“Damon?” Stefan spoke again and Damon turned to his brother.
Seeing the hollowed eyes of his brother, Stefan’s heart squeezed and he slowly began to explain what had happened – the bite, racing to find a cure which came in the form of Klaus’s blood… and the fevered ramblings that had fallen from Damon’s lips as he hovered on the brink of death. The name Isabella coming up frequently and holding such strong feeling that it had confused them all as they knew of no girl by that name.
Damon remained suspiciously silent throughout it all and trying to cheer his brother up, Stefan half-joked, “At least it sounded like you were having a nice dream.”
“A dream,” Damon murmured and something flickered in his eyes that had Stefan even more concerned.
“I suppose we’ll see about that,” Damon muttered, before unceremoniously getting up and going heading to his bathroom, slamming the door behind them.
Three days passed of walking on eggshells around the uncharacteristically quiet brother. All of them had expected rage to make a fast appearance; that they’d have to talk him out of some stupid and reckless revenge scheme that’d place them all in danger. But to their surprise and concern, Damon moved around like a puppet. He looked and appeared like his usual self, but the same hollowness Stefan had seen upon his awakening remained.
On the second day, he was shocked as he finally realized what that expression was… Damon had the look of one in mourning, grieving for the loss of someone whose absence turned the world into muted tones of grey and made one question the point of living.
It was on the fourth day he finally snapped. Elena had brought Bonnie over and they were huddled in the corner of the living room shooting him concerned glances as he poured himself another glass of bourbon.
“It’s not even noon yet,” Bonnie pointed out.
He gave her a humorless smile and raised the glass to her in mock toast. “I’m well aware of the time, princess.”
“Damon,” Elena interjected in that soft voice that told him she cared and was concerned for him. “You’ve already finished off one bottle today. Don’t you think you’ve had enough?”
Had enough, he thought to himself viciously. “Of fucking course I’ve had enough, Elena,” he said scathingly, shooting her a dark look that had her cringing back from him. “I’ve had nearly two decades of enough.”
He slammed back the rest of his drink, looking into the empty glass critically as he said, casually as one remarking on the weather, “You shouldn’t have healed me. It’s not worth it without her.”
“Damon,” Stefan said as he entered the room, approaching him as though he was a skittish rabbit about to bolt. “You don’t mean that.”
“Don’t fucking tell me what I do and don’t mean, Stefanie.”
“I know it was traumatic,” Stefan tried a new approach. “But what you experienced was a dream and you can’t live in the world of dreams.”
A tentative knock sounded at the front door.
“Why don’t you make yourself useful and answer the door, little brother,” Damon sneered before turning back to the bar. “I’m gonna have another drink.”
Sighing, Stefan turned away. They all heard the click of the door opening and Stefan asking a polite, “Hello, may I help you?”
A brief pause.
“Um, hi there. I’m looking for Damon Salvatore… I don’t suppose he’s here?”
Damon froze, his glass halfway up to his lips.
“I don’t really think he’s in the mood for company,” Stefan said, the words kind if somewhat confused.
“Oh well, I don’t really mind. I know his bark is worse than his bite. It’s very important that I see him.”
“May I ask who you are? I can see if he’s up for company…”
“Um, well, I’m not really sure my name will mean anything to him, but you can tell him it’s Isabella… please, I really need to see him.”
Stefan’s sharp inhale at her name was audible even to Elena and Bonnie who looked equally as shocked as they heard the name.
Damon remained frozen, too scared to hope.
Small footsteps sounded behind the louder ones of his brother before they came to an abrupt halt, hovering on the edge of the room.
He wanted to turn around, to face this person every inch of him screamed out for… But a very real fear sat on his chest. What if it wasn’t her? What if he was having another dream? What if, what if, what if…? The questions swirled around in his head as he tried to talk himself out of hoping. Hope was a dangerous thing, he’d learned.
“Damon,” the new arrival breathed and his eyes involuntarily closed as the sound of her voice washed over him and soothed every ache that had lingered since his awakening.
Slowly he turned to her, his eyes roving over her from head to toe, drinking her in like she was the last glass of ice water in the middle of a desert.
It was her – exactly as she’d been in his head. Her brown locks were pulled over one shoulder and her eyes, her gorgeous eyes were roaming over him like he was the answer to her every prayer. But he also say the signs of fatigue – he doubted she’d slept at all over the passed four days – and the worry as she stared at him. Worry that he didn’t know her, that he’d forgotten all about her.
His concern for her fear overrode his own and a smile crawled across his face as he said, “Took you long enough, sweetheart.”
Relief made her knees shake and he was by her side in a flash, pulling her up in his embrace as she wrapped her arms and legs around him while peppering every part of him she could reach with tiny, fervent kisses.
“You didn’t come and I promised,” she gasped between kisses, arching her back as he returned the favor and dragged his lips on every inch of bare skin he could find. “I promised I would come.”
“I remember,” he assured her. “But I thought I was crazy… and when you didn’t come right away…”
“Of course I couldn’t come right away, Damon,” she scolded, still not breaking her pattern of kisses. “I had to burn her body and then Charlie was suspicious until I told him I was leaving with or without his approval…”
“It’s alright, sweetheart. You’re here. I’m here. That’s all that matters.”
The sound of a throat clearing broke them apart and they face three pairs of widened, questioning eyes.
Of course explanations were necessary, Damon knew. But that would come later. Right now, he didn’t want to analyze the witchy voodoo that had made this possible – didn’t want to hear Bonnie talk about going through her grimoire for answers. He couldn’t care less about answers and had no need of him. The answer to everything was already in his grasp, curled around him with her lips skimming across his neck.
In a fluid movement, Damon hurled her over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes and he shot the spectators a smarmy grin as Bella gave a shocked giggle.
“Introductions later… Isabella and I need to get reacquainted,” he said with a suggestive wiggle of his brows as he playfully smacked her ass while making his exit.
Silence lingered; Elena, Bonnie and Stefan all confused by the drastic change of Damon’s attitude and the sudden appearance of this girl who Damon seemed to care for greatly.
Damon’s booming laugh sounded, followed closely by the girl’s small giggle and despite the confusion and worry, Stefan couldn’t help but to smile.
Things were about to change around there, he could tell.
And it would be for the better.