Fandom: Vampire Diaries
Rating: M in later chapters.
Pairing: Damon/Elena, Stefan/Elena
Summary: Sometimes, all she can do is falter and pick herself back up, only to falter again. And the world spins on.
The front door opens and closes and familiar footsteps echo into the house.
Elena looks up from her crumpled place on the couch, a half empty bottle of some kind of scotch in her hand, long abandoned diary in the other, to see Damon saunter in.
He raises an eyebrow, “Wow. Drunk is a good look for you,” he teases, making a face that clearly expresses how false that statement is.
“Shut up.” She’s been crying, so she knows she has mascara smeared around her eyes and there are probably knots in her hair and she’s still in her sweats. If she wasn’t beyond caring, she might have been embarrassed to look this way.
“Is that my Duncan Taylor?” he asks, snatching the bottle away and peering at how much liquid still sloshes around inside, his eyes doing that angry flickering thing that isn’t quite like the flirty flickering thing. He looks again at the label and she can tell he’s irritated. “New rule: You may not drink anything older than you are,” he snaps.
She scoffs at him and looks away. “S’not yours.” It’s a lie of course.
He raises an eyebrow at her and looks around her living room, as though there should be something very obvious that he’s missing. “Oh yeah? Jeremy keeping 40 year old scotch on hand these days?”
She knows she shouldn’t feel bad about the alcohol because, really, he can easily get another bottle regardless of how rare and expensive it might be, but she feels a little bad anyway. She can’t help it; it’s in her nature.
“Sorry,” she mutters, glancing up at him. His face softens and she knows he won’t stay mad, but some part of her wishes he would. Some part of her wishes he was still bitter and angry and hungry. This would all be so much easier if she could just push him away, if she could just hate him.
Elena sighs. She hadn’t wanted to see him, which was why she had been avoiding his calls all day. Really, she should have known better than to think he wouldn’t just invite himself over, which, come to think of it, gives her a sudden idea. “Hey, can I unvite you?”
“You’re uninvited, go‘way,” she says anyway. He looks at her, his expression blank and she looks away, a little ashamed.
He squares his shoulders and takes a breath. “Come on, Lindsey Lohan,” he says, leaning over to haul Elena up to standing, steadying her when she stumbles. He walks her into the kitchen, his arm wrapped around her waist. She ignores the leap in her stomach and the way his fingers have “accidentally” slipped just under the hem of her shirt. He sets her in a chair at the table and starts a pot of coffee.
Elena watches him move around the kitchen, familiar and efficient and it’s so annoying. He shouldn’t be there. He should be off eating someone or screwing someone or being… himself…somewhere else.
The tabletop is cool when she lets her forehead slump against it and she actually considers falling asleep right there, but he’s talking again and she can’t, try as she might, manage to ignore him.
“What,” she says, cheek against the table.
“You held it together for nearly a month. So why are you falling apart now?”
She doesn’t want to answer because answering is sort of like confessing and that’s, well, not exactly something she wants to do to Damon, of all people.
“Weren’t you the one sayin’ I was gonna crack,” she grumbles.
“Not that I don’t love always being right…” he says, flippant, flirtatious.
“It’s nuffing,” she says, wishing he would just drop it.
And surprisingly, he does. Damon shrugs and turns back to the coffee pot, pouring more than enough into one of those stupidly huge souvenir mugs that Jenna always bought. He adds cream and a little sugar and sets it in front of her with a thud.
“Why’re you sobering me up?” Elena asks, and comes out more like whyryousoberup.
“Because you’re wanted at a Founders Council meeting in twenty minutes.”
She sits up and her head immediately spins in every direction. Grabbing her forehead to steady herself, she takes a deep breath and scrunches her eyes closed. Damon says nothing but she knows he’s watching her, probably wearing that mocking smirk he’s so fond of. When the whirling has subsided, she pries one eye open. Yup, smirk. “What do they want?”
“The three musketeers are under the impression that you have some intimate knowledge of the supernatural.”
He’s talking about Sheriff Forbes, Mrs. Lockwood and Alaric, she knows that, but the biting tone he’s using is sort of unnerving. Elena’s not completely oblivious, even if she can be a little prone to tunnel vision, and she’s noticed the growing tension between Damon and the rest of the council, the people who were his friends. Of course, she can’t blame Alaric because, well, Damon really ought to stop killing him.
“No,” she says after a minute. “No way. Not talking to ‘em about Stefan.”
“Elena,” Damon says softly… or softly for him, at any rate. “I’ve already told them all about my charming little brother. They want to know about you. About the Doppleganger.”
She’s taken aback and when she looks at him now it’s with fear and accusation. “You told them?!”
“No,” he says and she thinks he’s being honest, though to be fair, her people reading skills are all but drowned out at the moment. “Ric accidentally let it slip. He was trying to warn them about Klaus.”
Maybe it’s the alcohol or the original reason she is soaked in said alcohol or maybe it’s the fact that Alaric has sold her out, but Elena suddenly can’t stop the flood of tears. Embarrassed, she turns away, tucking her face into her hands. Thankfully, Damon doesn’t try to comfort her or make her feel better, which would probably just make her feel worse. Instead he sits silently, waiting.
After a few long minutes, he finally speaks. “You don’t have to go.”
“And I’m not gonna,” she says, righteously, drunkenly. “Besides, twenny minutes isn’t very long.”
Damon smiles and it’s sort of sweet, like he admires her for refusing this absurd thing they’ve asked of her. She smiles back.
“Come on, Elena, spill. What’s the deal with today?”
Her lip quivers, she can feel it, but she manages to keep from crying. He’s got that imploring-I-really-do-care look on his face and she knows she’s going to tell him eventually anyway, so she might as well fess up. Still, she loses some part of her soul when she finally points to the counter where an opened envelope sits.
He scrunches his brow in curiosity, but crosses the room to retrieve the envelope. His eyes go a little wide when he reads the letter and she holds his gaze when he looks back to her, surprised.
“Can’t say I saw that coming.” Damon says.
“Yeah,” she agrees, miserably. “Me neither.”
And then he’s got that resolved look on his face, that one he gets when he’s got some kind of a plan or he’s determined to kill someone. It’s scarily comforting.
“Come on, sober up. It’s a long drive to North Carolina.”
“Damon,” Elena says, an hour and a lot of coffee later. “I told you I don’t want to go.”
He scowls at her, aggravated and clearly refusing to hear her. “You’re going or I’m going in your place, which would you prefer?”
“Why are you being like this? We both know you don’t care about these people.”
It’s the wrong thing to say, she knows this as soon as the words leave her mouth, but she is still a little blurry and he’s being so pushy about it that she’s finding it hard not to just scream at him.
“Get in the goddamn car,” he says and because she’s an idiot, she does.
The truth is, she had been holding it together for these past weeks out of sheer will power and distraction. Every moment was like walking on a tightrope over thin ice while ignoring the blue-eyed, blood drinking elephant in the room, which is probably the worst metaphor ever, but she can’t help thinking of it that way. Most days she didn’t know what she wanted more; to stay balanced on that tightrope or to just fling herself off of it and go acknowledge the elephant. But hold it together, she had – will power and shame are powerful things – until today.
The letter was nothing she had ever expected to receive, nothing she had ever really thought about, and it has sent her into a tailspin. It isn't the fact that her maternal grandparents had decided to find her – that isn’t the issue, really – the problem is that it has suddenly shed a very bright light on how many people she's lost in the last year, many of whom she never had a chance to properly mourn. All four of her parents are dead, Jenna, countless acquaintances, Vicki, Rose, Bonnie’s Gran, Tyler’s dad and his uncle, even Stefan is dead in a way. And Jeremy – twice. But somehow, by some insane miracle of will power, she has managed to keep living, to keep existing without breaking into a million pieces. But now, faced with even more family, Elena simply can’t cope with the idea of loving and losing more people.
“I’m a little jealous right now, you know,” she says to him, buckling her seatbelt, hating herself for the truth.
“It’s okay, people are always jealous of me,” he quips, making her roll her eyes.
“I wish I could just turn it all off and not feel any of it.” It’s a surprising admission, even to her, but it’s true. She’s always been an advocate for facing down her emotions, whatever they are (with the single exception of whatever she feels for Damon), but there’s a creeping despair that she can no longer ignore. If she lets these people into her life, how is she supposed to cope when she loses them too? Why add more people to the endless death march that seems to be her entire existence?
Damon is quiet from the driver’s seat, as they pull away from the curb, but she can tell by his expression that he’s forcing himself not to comment.
“Why don’t you get some shut eye? It’ll help with the hangover.”
She scoffs in his general direction, but leans her head against the window anyway, closes her eyes and dreams of monsters.