“I don’t need a miracle, I’m much more predictable
I just need you to show me this life
And if you ain’t too critical, we could be something beautiful
I just need you to show me this life
Take me home tonight
Just a fantasy away, your naked love laid next to me
Poets of the Fall – Show Me This Life
Chapter 18: Revelations
A sharp pounding beat within her head and Bella groaned.
Oh god, she thought. How hard did she and Damon party last night? She tried to remember what they’d done but it felt like all seven of Snow White’s dwarves were mining away inside her head and for the life of her she couldn’t focus on a single thing.
Turning her head, Bella was surprised when the dull ache throbbed and centered on her right temple where she could tell a wicked knot resided without touching.
It hurt. Every part of her ached far more than the average hangover.
Frowning, she opened her eyes and instead of the bright rays of the sun, she was greeted by shadows. She made an attempt to bring her hands up to her aching head but they were bound to the chair she’d been slouching in.
At that realization, she jerked and panic seeped into her body like one slowly pours water into a cup, filling her to the brim until it drowned every other sense.
“Bella, sh-h, calm down. Please, we’ll be alright.”
“St-Stefan,” she croaked. “What’s going on?”
“We were attacked,” he stated.
Bella tried to turn towards his voice but was bound too tightly. Though she barely knew Stefan, she found the fact that she couldn’t see the reassuring sight of his brooding face absolutely terrifying.
“Victoria?” she asked, tears falling down her face.
“No,” he grunted, and she could now tell that he was restrained as well injured. “Tomb vampires.”
At his words, a strange sense of relief flooded her. Tomb vampires. Not Victoria and her newborns.
Deep breaths, she told herself. Obediently, she sucked in huge lung-fulls of air and tried to think around her burgeoning fear and the terrible pain in her head.
“W-What exactly happened? How badly are you hurt?” She was proud her voice only quivered slightly.
The strain was heavy when he spoke and she was worried about the gravity of his injuries. As he talked, she tested her restraints. “We were talking in the kitchen. They broke through the windows. I’ve been injected with vervain.” His explanation was stilted and breathless. Bella knew instantly he wouldn’t be in any position to attempt a jailbreak.
She thought on his words and the memories slowly trickled forth.
“The girl smells like Damon.” “Bring her then… she’d make a tasty snack.”
Wincing, she tugged desperately against the rope but all it did was slice her wrists, blood welling up and falling to the floor in small, muted plops. They were far too tight, but maybe the blood would help her slip out?
At the thought of blood, she felt dizzy, but she resolutely breathed through her mouth and avoided the coppery smell that caused her to faint. Her time with Damon had built up her immunity to it, but she didn’t want to risk losing consciousness again as it seemed like she was the only one of them with even a remote possibility of helping them out until Damon got there.
“I remember,” she grunted, tugging on her wrists and ignoring the searing pain as the ropes cut deeper.
“Please,” he gasped. “Please don’t do that.”
She gritted her teeth. “But maybe I can slip my hands…”
“It’s not worth it, Bella. You smell too good. Don’t give them an invitation to taste.”
She immediately ceased her movements and collapsed her head back against the chair. Tears welled in her eyes at the futility of her situation and the bitter taste of its familiarity. She’d slowly found strength under Damon’s tutelage and to go back to feeling helplessness and suffocating anxiety – well, infuriated.
That was another Damon trait she’d picked up; anger at her own perceived weakness. Before, she would have accepted her limitations and allowed despair to claim her, but she wasn’t that girl anymore. She refused to be the broken doll she once was. Where she once would have caved and surrendered, she now railed and fought against, even if only inwardly.
I will not go gentle into that good night, thank you very much, she seethed.
“Bella, please calm down,” Stefan panted.
“Calm down? What are you talking about?”
“You’re pulling against the ropes again… and cursing under your breath. Don’t be afraid. We’ll get through this.”
“Afraid?” she scoffed. She may have been afraid at first. The old her would have surrendered to her fear. Now, however, her fear was diminishing, completely overshadowed by a stronger, more volatile emotion. “I’m not afraid, Stefan,” she said in unerring calmness. “I’m fucking pissed off!”
He grunted and she heard the rattling of chains. “I’ll find a way to get us out.”
She snorted. “Oh really? You going to Superman out of those lead chains despite the kryptonite?”
Stefan was silent a long moment before he groaned, “You sound like Damon.”
“Good,” she smarted, gritting her teeth as her headache throbbed. “Damon always has a knack for getting out of trouble. Maybe that’s rubbed off too. In any event, it hardly matters. We just have to be patient and buy some time.”
“Patient?” Stefan coughed.
“Yes. We have to buy some time until Damon comes and kills them all.”
“Damon?” he repeated.
Bella was really worried about the effects the vervain was having on Stefan as it seemed to be all he could do to follow her train of thought.
“Yes,” she said slowly as if talking to a toddler. “Damon will come for us.”
“Yes,” Stefan allowed. “He will try.”
“He will succeed, Stefan,” she insisted. “I just hope he doesn’t keep me waiting too long.”
“Bella – he won’t even be able to get in. The owner is compelled not to invite anyone in.”
She closed her eyes, refusing to listen to his negativity. “He’ll find a way, Stefan. Damon always finds away, now shut up and save your strength.”
He obeyed and the following minutes were marked by his increasingly labored breathing and Bella’s fraying leash on her temper.
This is how it should’ve been. The epiphany hit her so hard she teared up as though actually feeling the blow of it. This anger, this unwillingness to accept defeat and the urge to fight for her life… These were all things she should’ve felt when Edward took her out into the woods and tore her apart like a child plucking off the wings from a butterfly. Instead of defining her worth by his words and actions, she should have found value within herself all on her own; she should have seen her own value and it should have been enough to make her fight. Fight, not to keep him because she deserved more and better from her partner, but not to lose herself to him.
Damon has made me stronger, she realized as her tears silently fell and an overwhelming sense of gratitude warmed her chest. He’d seen it all along, she realized; her potential had always been there, hidden under the rubble of Edward’s emotional destruction, but Damon had braved the wreckage and saved her. He’d not given her anything she didn’t already have. Instead, he’d healed her heart and allowed her to discover the strength of her own convictions. He’d enabled her to be strong and she hoped her actions had caused similar realizations for him.
“Damon,” she whispered. “I love you.”
Of course he wasn’t there to hear it, but Bella was immeasurably relieved to say it. Her love for him was reassuring and reminded her that besides herself, she had him to fight for. She had to survive for him. She refused to abandon him as others had done.
Bella and Damon against the world, she thought and smiled slightly.
For all her telling him she wasn’t sure about transitioning and becoming a vampire, she knew in that moment that it was exactly what she wanted. For their relationship to move forward, they had to be equals. He was unable to change for her so she would have to change for him if she wanted to reach that next level of intimacy. Where Edward had tried to keep her in a position of weakness against him, keep her human and ignorant, Damon had already taken steps to move them to equal footing before she even knew it was what she wanted.
But then, Damon knew her better than she knew herself so maybe she shouldn’t have been so surprised.
Time was a fickle friend. Eventually her eyes adjusted to the darkness and she was able to make out that they were in a basement of some sort, but sadly, she was unable to spy anything that would prove useful in an escape. Stefan was getting worse. It sounded like he was hanging suspended because she could hear the small rustle of chains frequently as he wheezed, unable to breathe without pain.
She worried about the state he’d be in once Damon came and about the possible repercussions of starving and poisoning an already weak vegetarian vampire. Especially one who was addicted to human blood, as Damon had told her.
A door slamming open broke her thoughts and mentally, Bella gathered her wits and prepared herself. Stefan’s breathing eased slightly as well and she could tell they were on the same page; remain calm, don’t give in, show no weaknesses.
“Why hello there little pets,” a man said amusedly.
“Frederic,” Stefan greeted. Bella was mildly impressed by the cool aloofness he held, so opposing to everything she knew about him, but figured he must have gotten it from Damon.
“Stefan,” the vampire, Frederic, also greeted. “Aren’t you going to introduce me to Damon’s little pet?”
Inwardly she bristled at the term, but managed to remain silent. Damon had gone to great lengths to ensure she knew she was not a pet, not to him. They’d both felt the sting of that stigma and had never wanted to feel that worthlessness again. Still, it was hard to tell how she should play this – appear unimportant or make herself a stronger bargaining chip. The former made her expendable, but the latter would make her a bigger target.
A hand wove into her hair and yanked her head back. She was unable to hold back her gasp of pain, but managed to glare into the eyes of her kidnapper. Frederic was just as intimidating as he sounded, tall and muscled with hard, unfeeling eyes.
“And what’s your name, little human?”
She saw his pupils dilate with the force of his compulsion.
“Bella,” she intoned, knowing that if he found out his compulsion was ineffective, and without her using vervain, then bad things would likely happen. Bad being probably the biggest understatement.
Frederic smiled and it chilled Bella inside out. “Apt name. You smell like Damon,” he stated. “It’s as if he bathed you in his scent and it’s too strong to be just the remains of a lover’s embrace. He gives you his blood, doesn’t he?”
“Yes,” she admitted, knowing to lie would be pointless.
“Now why would he do such a thing? Even a beloved pet is still expendable.”
His hand caressed her jaw and her skin crawled at the seemingly gentle touch.
“Leave her alone,” Stefan growled, but the effect was ruined by his grimace of pain.
“No,” Frederic said lightly. “No, I don’t think I will. I want to know what could make the great Damon Salvatore take such interest in a human. I bet you taste… absolutely delicious.”
His mouth opened, fangs descended as he made his way to her neck, Bella pulling uselessly away.
“Frederic,” a new voice called out from the top of the stairs.
Growling lowly, Frederic pulled away and snapped, “What is it?”
He’s here… Damon’s here.
Frederic gave another chilling smile. “Good. Let’s go greet our guest, pet. Bring Stefan,” he ordered the other vampire. “I’ve got the girl.”
He snapped her bindings as easily as if they were silly string. Hauling her up by her arm, his grasp was bruising as he pulled her forcefully up the stairs, slamming her into the wall and railing in his carelessness.
Behind them, she saw the other vampire carrying Stefan, who looked much as she imagined. He was bleeding and unable to support himself, but she appreciated the half-hearted look of reassurance he gave her, useless as it was.
Her eyes ached when they reached the front hallway of the home, sunlight piercing her gaze.
“Hello Damon, long time no see,” Frederic sneered.
Bella immediately lifted her head and saw Damon bracing himself in the doorway to the house, his glare severe as he looked Stefan over quickly before locking eyes with her.
They held a silent conversation in the seconds their gaze connected.
Took you long enough.
Shut up, mina. Are you hurt?
Not greatly. Bruises and the like.
I’ll get you out.
I know you will.
I will, just like you taught.
Frederic shook her in his hold and their silent connection broke. She knew they hadn’t really been conversing, but they knew each other so well that they could convey much in a single look.
And she knew exactly what his current expression meant. He was angry, beyond furious. Heads were going to roll and he’d kill every single last one of the tomb vampires in that house just as soon as he found his way in.
Bella smiled softly and Damon’s fierce scowl lightened into a smirk. She couldn’t wait for him to get her out of there.
“Now what’s this,” Frederic sneered at their look. “Damon, you really have such great taste in friends. Little Bella and I were just getting acquainted when you showed up.”
Damon looked at her and she told him no with her eyes. No, she hadn’t been fed on, Frederic was just trying to piss him off.
“She’s a peach, isn’t she?” Damon asked dismissively.
Angry at the show of indifference, Frederic’s hand went to her throat and squeezed.
Still, both Bella and Damon maintained their blank expressions, both unwilling to show weakness.
Growling, Frederic called for the owner of the house to come to him and a middle aged woman who had clearly been under the strains of compulsion for quite some time came out in sickeningly cheerfulness.
“You will not ever invite this man into the house,” he ordered her with his compulsion.
She obediently parroted back the command.
“Good,” Frederic said, dismissing her back to the living room. He turned back to Damon and gave a sick grin. “Enjoy the show, Salvatore.”
Quicker than she could process, Frederic’s free hand yanked her head to the side and he sank his fangs into her, taking deep gulps of her blood.
It burned and her eyes watered in pain, but all that escaped her lips was a tiny gasp of surprised pain. It hurt like a bitch, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as the burning bite of a Cold One.
But the damage was done and Damon lost himself to rage.
As they’d driven to Mystic Falls and they each bared their souls to the other, she’d asked Damon about why he hadn’t tried to drink her blood. He’d explained to her that the taking of blood, to a vampire, was common, but the exchanging of blood was a far deeper, more intimate, matter.
“Like having sex,” he’d quipped, wiggling his eyebrows at her as she’d blushed.
He’d confessed that the beast inside of himself thirsted for her blood deeply, not as a matter of sustenance, but because he saw her as his. When he took her blood, he told her, and it was a matter of when and not if, it would tie them even closer together. It would be one of the most intimate things that he, as a vampire, would ever do with her. More so than sex.
Her body had heated at the idea and she’d found herself looking forward to it, even as she was grateful that he’d realized it was a step she wasn’t ready for.
So for him to see her blood, his blood, being forcibly taken from her by someone else… She imagined it was the equivalent of rape in her vampire’s mind.
Damon roared, launching himself forward even as he was propelled back by his lack of invitation. Though it was useless, he slammed his fists against the doorframe and yelled obscenities that had Frederic chuckling against her neck, drinking deeper and more forcefully.
There was a scuffle behind them and Stefan’s limp body fell against them, causing Frederic to break away from her neck but tearing the skin there further. Somehow, he’d manage just enough strength to try to help her, to keep her from being drained dry right in front of Damon.
Bella gasped as tears of pain escaped and blurry dots scattered across her vision. “Damon,” she breathed as she fell to the floor, dizziness making everything sway.
“Isabella,” he growled, pounding against the wall.
“Throw them both down the basement,” Frederic hissed.
“I’ll be there soon, mina,” he called out as she was dragged away.
“I know,” she whispered, fatigue and pain stealing what little strength she’d had.
And he did come soon, which was a good thing, because her wound had been left open and bleeding. Stefan tried to reassure her that she’d be fine, but it had sounded like she was hearing him through a long tunnel and it took great effort to try to understand what he was saying. So instead of wasting her energy on that, she focused all her attention around the thought that Damon, her vampire, was on his way.
They could hear several thuds throughout the house and then suddenly Damon was kneeling before her, his bleeding wrist pressing to her eager lips. She drank slowly, her strength returning with every slip and her wound finally stopped bleeding.
“More of that later, mina,” he whispered, his hands caressing her hair and face as if to reassure himself that she was there. “Buffy’s with me and taking out the rest of the tomb vampires and I’m sure Elena ignored my warning is around her somewhere so let’s get Stefan and blow this popsicle stand.”
Bella laughed as he scooped her up into his arms and half carried, half dragged his brother behind them. There was a vampire at the end of the stairs and quick as lightening, Damon dropped Stefan carelessly and had her gently propped up against the wall as he ran over and snapped the guy’s neck. Breaking off a leg from a nearby chair, he staked the vampire and was back to her before she could blink.
Elena found them and rushed to Stefan.
“Oh my god, Stefan,” she gasped tearfully.
“Relax, he’ll be fine,” Damon said dismissively. “And didn’t I tell you to wait in the car?”
“I couldn’t stay there, Damon,” Elena said indignantly.
“Well, it’s your neck,” he said. “Where’s Alaric?”
“He’s finishing up in the back, I think. Is she okay?” Elena asked.
Damon clenched his jaw. “She’s fine,” he bit out, shielding Bella from even Elena’s sight. “You still have my car keys?”
“Then you and Alaric get Stefan out. I’ve got to get her out of her.”
Before Elena could respond, Damon was running, each fast step surprisingly smooth. He was exceedingly gentle with her, careful not to jolt her unnecessarily or hold her too tight. She was already feeling much better after the few sips of blood he’d given her, but she knew he would insist upon her drinking more. After the events in Aspen with Victoria, he’d been diligent to the point of paranoia when it came to her taking his blood. Honestly though, she couldn’t fault him or be angry for it, not when their moment in the snow had ended and she’d seen just how scared he’d been at the thought of losing her.
“Are you well?” he asked lowly, gently setting her to her feet at the front door.
“Yes,” she said, soothing her hands up and down his arms.
“I hadn’t meant to leave you alone,” he confessed. “I only wanted to talk to Pearl and meet Alaric. Clear up potential drama. Make things safer. I didn’t know she couldn’t keep her fucking vampires in line.”
It was the closest she’d ever get to an apology, not that she felt he owed her one. She’d not even been gone the entire day before he got her out, saved her.
Running her hand through his hair, she told him lightly, “Honestly Damon, I’m kind of glad it was your drama this time and not mine. I was beginning to think it would always be my past getting me into trouble. Good to know it can be your fault too.”
She gave him a teasing grin and was relieved when the slight sheen of guilt lifted from his eyes. “You attract danger, mina… but I bring trouble.”
Bella laughed, having thought as much once before.
“Mina,” he said softly, breaking their levity.
She stopped laughing and looked up at him, the smile lingering on her face. “Yes Damon?”
He swallowed, looking reluctant or at the very least unnerved. “I don’t ever want to feel the way I did when I saw him bite into your neck again.”
Bella drew in a shuddering breath. “Damon…”
“No,” he cut her off. “I’m being serious. I can’t feel that way again. I won’t.”
“I know,” she whispered, thinking about what it would have been like if she’d been in his place. “You won’t have to, not for much longer.”
He picked up her meaning instantly. “You’ve decided then?” he asked, cautious hope coloring his tone.
Bella bit her lip. “I want to be with you, Damon. Always,” she answered.
Victory ignited across his features. “Yes,” he hissed, damn near attacking her with his lips, pressing her body against the front door and hoisting her up around his waist with his fingers biting into her thighs.
She locked her ankles against the small of his back and pulled him closer, enjoying the feel of the familiar movement of him pressing against her and the building sensation resonating between her legs.
But then he changed the dance, bringing up his hand and slicing at the base of his neck, pulling away from her kiss and pushing her lips to the cut he’d made. “Drink up, mina,” he whispered huskily.
Desire clenched her gut and she obediently latched onto his neck and suckled. There was something very erotic about drinking from his neck. Drinking Damon’s blood was always a sensual experience, but wrapped around him as he rubbed against all the right areas made it downright sinful.
He’s going to make me come, she thought, her mind melting into a puddle at his feet.
“Good,” he groaned, and Bella was so distracted by the hand he moved to cup her breast that she couldn’t even be embarrassed by the fact she’d actually said that aloud.
His fingers expertly teased her nipple and her own hand developed a mind of its own. It snaked a path above his pants, tracing his abs and enjoying the way they flexed under her hand before she determinedly went for his belt buckle.
She looked up from the base of Damon’s neck and glanced over his should, a small rivulet of blood staining her lips. Refusing to let a drop of Damon’s gift go to waste, she licked her lips causing Damon to groan in response, drawing her eyes back to him as he smirked at her.
Him rubbing against the throbbing spot between her legs was nearly enough to make her forget about who had called her name, but the voice was as persistent as the owner and sounded again, dripping with heavy censure. “Bella!”
This time her groan was one of annoyance as she hissed, “What do you want, Alice? I’m a little busy here.”
“Alice? The Psychic Pixie?” Damon quickly asked.
Bella nodded, using her eyes to scream at him her anger, her utter fury at their untimely arrival and their audacity to insert themselves into her life again now that she had finally gotten over them.
Damon gave a small nod in response and let her body slide down his, making sure to give her ass a tight squeeze. He turned them around to face the intruders, placing his body slightly in front of hers but making sure not to obstruct her view, his hand reaching back and linking their fingers together. The message was clear: he would protect her, but he saw them as equals.
“Bella?” another voice called.
Her eyes narrowed first on Alice, then the figures standing behind her until they alighted on the man she’d once loved.
“Edward,” she coolly acknowledged.
A long moment of silence and then Damon finally spoke.
“Well, you lot have the worst timing ever. Can’t you see I’m trying to fuck my wife?”
More silence before Bella squeezed his hand and slowly started to smile.
(A/N): I know… I know! Let me hear it! Mwahahaha…