(A/N): This early post is brought to you by miss Kittyinaz… hope you’re feeling better 🙂
“Fatal velocity, comes on with a rush
Overpowering, gives the final push
What never moves, is never still
Who has the final word
It holds the world in a single pill
And all life rendered absurd”
Poets of the Fall – “Desire”
Chapter 5: Doubting Desire
Furious was not a strong enough word to describe the look in his eyes. His vampire visage, as she started thinking of it, was bleeding into his features. His canines looked longer, his face incredibly cold and hard, and his eyes glittered at her, reminding her of a cat’s eyes catching the glint of light in a dark room. Those eyes were focused on her heaving chest, staring hungrily at the blood slowly dripping between her breasts.
But she wasn’t afraid of him, not really. Bella was definitely concerned about the predicament she found herself in, but even now when it was abundantly clear she was in trouble, she couldn’t bring herself to fear Damon. He’d proven to her since the first moment they’d met that he’d protect her and she didn’t doubt that he’d keep his promise. Damon would protect her from anything wishing to cause her harm…
Unflinchingly, Bella met his gaze. She refused to be afraid. This was Damon and all he ever did was take care of her – he wouldn’t hurt her.
“Damon?” she asked lowly, her voice steady.
His head cocked to the side. Bella’d seen thirsty vampires before but didn’t think that was quite the right way to describe how Damon looked right now. He was every inch the predator Bella knew him to be, but there was an unnaturally calculating look to his furious expression.
Before she could think of saying anything else, Damon was moving. He placed his hands on either side of the guy’s head and hauled him up off the floor. She thought she heard him say something like, ‘you picked the wrong girl, asshole,‘ but before she could process that, she was watching in fascinated horror as Damon’s fangs slid into the man’s neck like a hot knife through butter.
As Damon drank, the man groaned and attempted to push him away. Growling in response, Damon held him tighter until, having his fill, he pulled away from the man and without a pause or hint of hesitation, snapped his neck.
His wound spurted with the fast movement and a streak of blood hit the middle of Bella’s dress.
The man fell to the floor in a pile of loose limbs, dead.
They stood in silence, Bella’s brain racing to comprehend what had just happened.
“You – you killed him,” she stated.
Damon had a small trail of blood on the corner of his mouth, and Bella fought the urge to find a napkin and smudge it away. Looking away from him, she found herself staring a the small splattering of blood staining her new dress.
Instantly, she started breathing from her mouth. The last thing she wanted to do now was faint.
“I did,” Damon said. “The guy was a dick. He deserved to die.”
He sounded defensive, like he thought she was judging him.
“Um,” she trailed off, not knowing what to say.
His vampire visage had faded away, but his eyes still glittered at her like two cold diamonds.
“Don’t move,” he ordered.
And then he left, taking the dead body with him.
“Okay,” she said softly to the empty hallway.
Her mind refused to organize even with Damon and the body gone. Over and over she replayed the scene in her head. The look in the man’s eyes as he’d cut her, threatening a horrible future – and the sheer relief of Damon arriving even as she saw his vampire side emerge so violently. He’d not been half as scary when he’d faced off with Laurent. She could only imagine it was because he hadn’t been nearly as angry then. No, that had been fun for Damon – this had been a furious retribution.
She wasn’t sure how long he left her standing there, but when he came back, he had a bottle of bleach and a mop. He dumped what was left in the bottle onto the small puddle of blood on the floor and mopped it up with ease.
Clearly, he was no stranger to covering up a murder.
He worked in silence as Bella stood frozen against the wall, silent observing. When he was done, he blurred away again – to get rid of the mop, she supposed – and then he was in front of her, cold eyes burning into her.
The dribble of blood was gone from his chin and he looked impeccably put together, not a strand of hair out of place. Shrugging out of his jacket, he placed it around her, zipping it up to cover up the bloodstain.
“Keep this on and follow me. Don’t say anything, not even if someone stops us, understand?” he asked gruffly.
“Good,” he snapped, dragging her away from the wall and down the hallway.
She followed limply, still a little shocked at the unexpected outcome of their evening, but also confident in Damon’s ability to handle the situation. When they were halfway down the hall there was a bit of a commotion as a group of girls entered. Without pausing, Damon pushed her into the nearest corner, hiding her face with his body while dipping his own down to her neck as his hand slipped down to grip her thigh against him. There was no doubt that they’d appear to be heavily making out, oblivious to the world.
The girls giggled as they passed them.
When the bathroom door closed and cut off the sound of their gossiping, Damon pulled away and led her out into the club. He slowed once they were on the main floor, dropping her hand in exchange for slipping his arm around her waist. Automatically, Bella’s arm looped around him in response, gripping the back of his shirt tightly. He kept their pace unhurried but steady as they crossed the floor, toying with her hair casually and running his hand up and down her side soothingly.
No one stopped them.
Once they made it out of the club, Damon stopped the flirty show, but his arm remained around her like he was afraid she’d bolt otherwise.
Too afraid to break the silence, Bella obediently followed him to the elevators and allowed him to steer her straight to their room. Once he’d slipped the do not disturb sign on the door, he locked up the door and turned to her.
Bella sat precariously on the foot of the bed, unsure of whether or not she should speak. Unsure of what she’d even say.
“Well?” Damon snapped.
Bella jumped slightly, but quickly calmed. “Well what?”
He glared at her. “Aren’t you going to yell at me for killing that dick?”
She frowned. “I wasn’t planning to. I suppose I could if it’d make you feel better.”
“Make me feel better?” he deadpanned.
Shrugging, Bella bit her lip. “Well, you seem really upset.”
“I seem upset,” he parroted in disbelief.
Frowning, she said, “Yes?” but it came out more like a question.
Damon ran a hand through his hair. “Aren’t you upset?” he returned.
“A little, but it’s not exactly the first time I’ve almost died. You called it right when you met me, Damon, I’m a danger magnet,” she dismissively shrugged again.
He rolled his eyes. “That’s not what I meant – though danger magnet may very well be an understatement. I meant, aren’t you upset I killed that guy?”
Bella thought on it. “Well, I suppose I am a bit. I don’t really condone killing, especially on my behalf, but he was about to ra – well, he was about to do something horrible to me so I can’t really bring myself to care that much. Who knows how many other women he actually succeeded in doing that to…”
“Are you serious right now?”
Bella flinched slightly at his harsh tone. “I’m sorry, Damon. I don’t know why you’re mad at me. I’m sorry you’re always having to save me – I don’t mean to get into trouble.”
Suddenly he was before her, tilting her head back with his hand under his chin and frowning as he studied her. “I’m confused as hell, sweetness. You should be furious at me for killing that guy right now.”
“Furious? Whatever for?”
He frowned harder. “Because killing is wrong – or so I’ve been told.”
And it was like a lightbulb went off. He was waiting for her to lecture him, to be upset about the way he’d handled the situation, even if he’d clearly saved her life in the process. Clearly, he was used to being yelled at for his actions, to being judged for listening to his vampire instincts.
Lifting her hand, she took his away from her face and held it in hers as she continued to meet his eyes. “I’m not going to lie and say that killing is alright. I feel a little guilty about that guy dying because of me, but let’s face it, he was a horrible creature and he probably deserved a lot worse than what you did. You probably saved lives by taking his, which doesn’t justify it but it makes things a little easier to swallow for me. I’m not sure who you’re used to talking to about this kind of stuff, but let me tell you what I understand. You are a vampire, and vampires are, above all else, predators. I would never judge you, Damon, for following what is simply in your nature.”
This made him frown harder. “So your old vampires…”
She shook her head quickly. “They’re not mine,” she insisted, but then continued on to answer him, “But no. They called themselves vegetarians.”
He smirked slightly and Bella was relieved to see the frown gone. “They were on the Bambi diet?”
Bella smiled softly. “Um, yeah. The Bambi diet. Although they also liked bigger game, like Yogi.”
His head tilted as he studied her again. “And you know I’m not on the Bambi diet?”
Her smile widened some, and she unknowingly started tracing patterns on the palm of his hand. “You didn’t seem the type. But while we’re on the subject, how do you feed?”
“My kind aren’t venomous. We don’t have to kill to feed, just find someone really tasty and then erase their memory afterward. It’s so easy. I can even drink from blood bags if I need to.”
She grinned. “So you get to have your cake and eat it too?”
“Exactly,” he smirked, but he still looked a bit bemused by the turn of their conversation, so Bella set out to reassure him some more.
“Listen Damon, I’m well aware that vegetarian vampires are not the norm in your world. I’m not going to judge you. You are a vampire, a predator. I accept that and I won’t judge you by human standards, because you’re not human.”
He looked dubious still. “You’re not going to try and get me to switch diets? Convert me for the greater good? I won’t lie to you, Isabella. I’ve killed many people, and if the mood strikes, I’ll kill more.”
“As if anyone can talk Damon Salvatore out of something,” she muttered to herself. “But no, I’m not. While I have a great deal of respect for those who go against their nature so as not to harm people,” Damon’s expression fell and shuttered, so she hastily continued, “I hold even more respect for those who embrace their nature and accept what they are without hurting innocent people. Sometimes, acceptance takes more courage of the two.”
Damon’s eyes met hers again and she whispered, more to herself this time, “And sometimes, repression can be deadly.” The image of Jasper barely being restrained by his siblings as he wildly snapped his teeth at her, desperate for her blood, flashed in her mind. All because of a paper cut.
She rubbed at the scar on her forearm. Repression could be very deadly, indeed.
“I’d appreciate it if you didn’t kill innocent people though – you know, to build up that good karma you were talking about before,” she suggested lightly, giving Damon another reassuring smile. “And maybe, don’t do it in front of me again? I know you said you usually feed without killing, but the smell of blood kind of makes me sick.”
“The smell of blood makes you sick?”
Bella was really starting to worry about him. He seemed to be repeating her a lot… had she broken Damon by simply accepting him? Bella didn’t know if that was funny or sad.
“Um, yes,” she said, kind of embarrassed to admit that to a vampire, of all things.
“You strange, beautiful girl,” he murmured in amazement, bringing his free hand up to trace along her cheek. His eyes roved over her face thoughtfully. He looked very deep in thought, like he was trying to decide something. Finally, his eyes cleared and he smiled, looking almost victorious as he breathed softly to her, “You’re mina,” as he moved his hand into her hair.
Damon’s hand sifting through her hair felt divine. Bella’s eyes half closed and if she were a cat she would’ve been purring. It took a second for his last words to register, but when they did, she asked, “Mina? As in Mina Harker from Dracula?”
“Hm-m,” he hummed, not elaborating.
When his hand fell out of her hair, Bella wanted to protest, but Damon moved to unzip his jacket off of her. “How’s the cut?”
Bella chewed her lip as he slowly unzipped the jacket, allowing it to fall off her shoulders and onto the bed. The cool air made it sting, but she’d had far worse. “Um, stings a bit, but I don’t need stitches or anything.”
“Hm-m,” he said again, his eyes focusing on the angry red cut running vertically down the center of her chest about three inches long. The blood had dried some but still looked a bit wet, and if she breathed too deeply it felt like the cut was tearing open again.
Damon stared intently at the cut. When he flicked his eyes up to hers there was a challenging gleam to them and he slowly, without breaking their gaze, brought a sole finger up to gently swipe some of her blood from her chest. She shuddered, feeling his finger softly caressing so close to her breasts, but she didn’t look away from him, not even when he brought his bloodstained finger up to his mouth and sucked.
She knew exactly what he was doing. He was putting her words to the test, pushing her to see if she’d react negatively despite having spoken of acceptance seconds earlier. Damon was complicated and slow to trust. Bella knew, in theory, that he’d been wounded by someone he cared about, maybe even loved. She’d have to prove herself to him, just as he was proving himself to her. Words alone would not be enough. The strongest trust is earned, not carelessly given as Bella had done in the past. Damon was earning hers, and she was happy to earn his as well.
So, breathing heavily through her mouth to prevent any lingering smell of blood to affect her, Bella held his challenging stare with an unfaltering one of her own.
They remained like that for a long moment until Damon smiled, breaking their staring contest. Bella’s posture relaxed, knowing she’d just passed some sort of test.
“You taste delicious, mina,” he smirked. “Best I’ve ever had.”
Bella rolled her eyes. “A high compliment indeed. I’m flattered.”
His head lifted arrogantly. “You should be.”
Smiling despite herself, Bella shook her head. It was nearly five in the morning and she was exhausted. “I’m going to rinse off again,” she gestured to her haggard appearance, the man’s blood on her dress and her own staining her chest.
Damon nodded. “Too bad about your dress,” he commented casually. “It looked great on you.”
Bella blushed some, much to his amusement. “Doesn’t matter.”
He leaned twords her, and promised, “I’ll buy you a new one.”
“You don’t have to.”
He smirked. “I know. But I will.”
She smiled softly. “If it makes you feel better, then whatever you say.”
He tossed her a wink. “That’s the spirit, mina. Now go get naked.”
Snorting, Bella grabbed some nightclothes from her bag and took her second shower of the evening. Not more than twenty minutes had passed until she came out again, her hair still damp despite running the hair dryer through it.
Seeing Damon, she did a double-take. He was perched on the bed facing the bathroom, clearly waiting for her. Dressed down from earlier, he was completely shirtless and clad only in satiny, black sleep pants.
He was pale, but there was a slight peachy tint to his skin that made him look lively, healthy. And he was just as muscular as she’d pictured while they were dancing.
My hands were there, the thought popped up in her head. My hands touched that over his shirt. I’ve touched that.
He was muscular but lithe. She’d always thought Edward had a nice physique, but when faced with a shirtless Damon… Well, maybe it was childish of her, but she rather thought he made Edward look like a limp noodle in comparison.
“Are you going to stand there and ogle me all night?”
Bella’s face heated and she locked her eyes on the floor, completely mortified that she’d been entirely obvious.
Damon sighed and his tone softened. “You know I don’t mind, mina. Who could blame you – I’m a stud.”
A nervous giggle escaped her.
“Come here, mina,” he bid. “Time to play doctor.”
Bella looked up from the ground and saw him brandishing a first aid kit at her.
“Um, that’s probably not necessary.”
He didn’t back down. “Humor me then. Come here.”
His tone told her resistance would be futile, so obediently she walked over to the bed. Smirking softly, Damon pulled her between his legs and undid the first few buttons on her flannel sleep shirt. Bella stood still, her heart racing as he expertly undid the buttons. Picking a freckle on his shoulder, she resolved to stare at it and not let her eyes wander.
“You know,” he said conversationally, opening the kit to grab an alcohol wipe. “If I gave you a couple drops of my blood this would heal right up, along with those bruises Fido left on you.”
“You have magical healing blood?” she asked doubtfully.
He nodded with a tiny smirk.
“Um, I’ll pass thanks.” The thought of drinking blood… no thanks, she shuddered.
Damon didn’t glance away from attending her cut. “You say that now, but something tells me I’ll have to fed you my blood at some point. You truly are a danger magnet, mina.”
He swiped the alcohol wipe gently over the cut and Bella jumped at the sting, hissing slightly. Pursing his lips, Damon moved in closer, lightly blowing along the cut which instantly soothed the burn. Suddenly, Bella felt the urge to run her hands through his hair, to trace her fingers along his broad shoulders.
Finding the freckle again, Bella said quietly, “Thank you, Damon.”
“For what?” he asked, getting out a small piece of gauze to tape over the wound.
Frowning, she lost herself in memory of the last time someone had taken care of her like this. Carlisle had stitched her up after her birthday, but he’d used the cold, steady hands of a surgeon. It was nothing like this. Even when Edward would help her clean a cut or scrape, he’d always been quick and efficient. Certainly not as… caring, she decided was the right word, as Damon was right now.
Not once had he ever blown over one of her cuts to soothe the sting. She didn’t even think Renee had ever done that for her when she was a kid.
“You’re always taking care of me,” she confessed quietly, almost ashamed. She was eighteen years old and had always taken care of everyone around her, and yet the second Damon entered her life it was like she was perpetually the damsel in distress. Although she’d been that even before Damon, if she was being honest with herself.
“I’m sure it’s not quite what you wanted when you decided to kidnap me,” she sighed half-heartedly, her smile feeling more like a grimace. “I’d understand, you know…” she trailed off.
Damon finished working on the cut and shot her an impatient look. “Get to the point, mina.”
It was only fair she give him an out, Bella decided, and said in a low voice, “I’d understand if you didn’t want me around anymore. I wouldn’t blame you. I attract trouble like nothing else and I don’t expect you to put up with it if you don’t want to. Just let me know and I’ll leave, no fuss.”
When she’d finished, Bella slumped a little and resolved to ignore the stinging of her tears as she waited for Damon to wash his hands of her.
“Feel better now?” he asked coolly.
Oddly enough, yes. It was like a huge weight she’d not even known she was carrying was lifted from her shoulders. Damon had an out if he wanted to leave, or wanted her to leave. She would never be someone’s obligation, not ever again.
“Good,” he smirked. “Now shut up and listen to me, little girl.”
Bella’s eyes widened and she blinked slowly at him.
“You’re being an idiot,” he started.
Bella jerked a little and glared at him. “I am not. You have no reason to put up with the drama that seems to follow me, or my past that’s chasing after me. It’s not really fair to you, is it? We’ve only known each other for a day and already you’ve had to save my life three times.”
“I was there, I know,” he said. “But it was fun and a deal’s a deal.”
The tears stung again as she rushed to say, “But that’s just it, Damon. I don’t want to be just a deal to someone. I don’t want to be a burden.”
She saw recognition dawn on him. “You don’t feel like you contribute, is that it? You think I’m just here because I feel obligated?”
“I know I don’t contribute. I don’t have any money, I can’t fight, and I’m boring and depressing…” she would have continued had he not snapped and interrupted her.
“Good lord, woman. Shut up!”
She flinched and moved away from him, but Damon’s hands pulled her back into him. Forcing her to meet his eyes, he said in a firm, angry voice, “Isabella, this shit stops right now. For someone so smart you let your insecurities get in the way of thinking. I don’t do anything I don’t want to, do you understand?”
He stared at her hard, trying to impart some sort of double meaning from his words.
“That douche did a number on you, didn’t he?” he murmured to himself after she just looked at him blankly. Then he steeled himself and said to her, “You need to stop defining your self-worth by what others think of you – stop feeding the little doubt monkey hanging off your back. And,” he gave her a pointed stare before continuing, “You need to give me more credit. Do I look like the kind of guy that would hang around someone out of obligation?”
Bella stared at him both shocked and amazed as she finally realized what he’d been saying before. She’d known Damon had walls. He was slow to trust and used dark humor to deflect while protecting himself. He’d never admit, at least not yet, to actually wanting her around, to liking her even. But his actions spoke for him when he could not, and Bella realized that her small pity party was really just her own insecurities being pushed off on him.
If Damon wanted to leave, then he would – simple as that.
And he hadn’t left her – indeed, he’d done the opposite. Not only did he protect her as he’d promised, but he encouraged her, taught her to believe in herself more, to take risks…
Bella slumped again in relief as she felt the truth of what he was trying to tell her without having to actually say it. While she’d made the realization that Damon was worth taking the risk for, he’d come to the same conclusion about her. At which point he decided that, Bella didn’t know, but he thought it and he wasn’t going to back down from her.
While a part of her still thought she wasn’t worth his trouble, she resolved right then and there to stop judging Damon by Edward’s actions. To stop judging herself by Edward’s actions. The only person she should ever judge by those actions was Edward himself and she wasn’t being fair to Damon or herself by letting the insecurities Edward had played on control her.
Edward left her, simple as that, and the way he did it made her question everything about herself. But Damon had found her… and for the first time, Bella wondered if maybe Edward leaving her was actually the best thing that could’ve happened. Had he stayed he would have smothered her and Bella never would’ve felt what she was feeling now. The faint stirrings of confidence, playfulness, and a courage that Damon brought to the surface. He helped her find facets of her personality that she’d suspected had always been there, but had been suffocated in Forks.
Damon’s fingers caressed her face and brought her out of her thoughts. There was a softness lurking in his eyes and in his touch that made Bella smile apologetically for doubting him. “I’m sorry, Damon. You’re right. It’s not you I doubt, not really.”
“You doubt yourself,” he said knowingly.
She nodded sheepishly.
“Good thing you’ve got me then, mina,” he smirked, but then he adopted a serious expression as he told her, “We all have baggage, Isabella. You’re not the only one to have a past. You’ll have to deal with mine soon enough – are you going to run from me then, mina?”
“Of course not,” she scoffed. She’d never abandon a friend that way, especially not Damon who’d already helped her so much and in so many ways both big and small.
Quirking a brow at her, Damon’s expression was clear. If she wouldn’t do it to him, then she shouldn’t expect him to do it to her.
“Fair enough, Damon. You’ve made your point. You’re right again.”
“I’m always right, mina. You’ll see,” he grinned.
When Bella finally made it to bed that night she was beyond exhausted. Damon’s words ran in loop in her mind, as well as the sharp pangs of betrayal from her revelations about Edward. Despite being nervous about Damon lying less than a foot away from her, sleep snagged her quickly and she was almost out before her head hit the pillow.
But while the stress of the day didn’t prevent her from falling asleep, it did follow her into her dreams. The reoccurring nightmare she’d been having for weeks about Edward leaving her and then getting lost in the woods was more vivd than normal. She could smell the pine needles, feel the cold sting of the wind against her tearstained cheeks.
It was like it was happening all over again.
However, when she collapsed into a heap of sobs onto the forest floor as she’d always done before, something changed. Even as she cried, Bella felt two, strong arms circle around her. There was a warmth to her back that was safe and comforting. It was everything.
“Don’t leave me,” she whimpered, and for the first time, she wasn’t talking to Edward.
The ghost arms tightened around her and Bella felt a puff of breath against her ear as her savior whispered, “I won’t leave you. I’ve got you.”
The words combined with the warm feeling of safety blanketed over her and the nightmare faded away until all that remained of the dream was the impression of two solid arms cradling her securely.
It was the best night of sleep Bella had ever had.
(A/N): Just a tip… notice how even though Bella assumes Damon means Mina Harker by the new nickname, it is never capitalized (as a name would be) when Damon uses it. I’d recommend plugging it into Google Translate, set to translate from Italian to English, and then come tell me what you think… I thought it was pretty clever, in more ways than one 🙂