Pairings: Damon/Elena, references Stefan/Elena, Damon/Katherine, Damon/Rebekah
Spoilers: Through “All My Children”
Word Count: 3370
Disclaimer: These characters belong to LJ Smith, Kevin Williamson, and Julie Plec
Summary: I am done with my graceless heart so tonight I'm gonna cut it out and restart
A/N: Title and summary come from “Shake It Out” by Florence + the Machine (aka “the Damon Salvatore song”). Written for Candy (badboy_fangirl) on the occasion of her birthday.
She was waiting on his bed when he came back from the Grill, stiff backed and swollen faced from crying. Damon felt the knee-jerk reaction to freeze, to reverse course and avoid the confrontation, but this was what being the bad guy wrought; he turned Abby Bennett into a vampire, and now he had Elena's fury and betrayal to shoulder.
When she lifted her eyes, soft brown meeting pained blue, Damon wondered how the hell Stefan was ever able to bear disappointing her.
“Where were you?” Elena asked, her voice hoarse.
“Is that code for 'Rebekah?'” When he didn't say anything, she added caustically, “She almost set me on fire tonight, so that has to be worth a blow job.”
Damon bristled at the accusation. “Not everything I do is about you.”
“No,” Elena agreed, voice so soft Damon almost missed it entirely. She laughed, a harsh, joyless sound which sounded so unlike Elena and so like Katherine, it made him flinch. “No, I don't matter.”
Remembering the stinging pain of her words at Klaus's mansion, Damon snapped, “Why are you here?”
“I wanted to see you.”
He shrugged out of his coat, tossing it on the foot of his bed, wishing Elena would just leave so he would not have to deal with this. “Well, I'm not really up for a fight tonight - “
“Stefan won the coin toss.”
“You killed Abby so Stefan wouldn't have to,” she continued, getting to her feet and crossing the room to stand in front of him. “Why?”
“Because Stefan's going to snap out of this one day, go back to being Stefan. He'll have more than enough to feel guilty over.” Damon twisted his mouth into the mockery of a smile. “I have no such issues.”
“That's the only reason?”
No, I did it because you're always going to love Stefan, and, if he killed Abby, you'd hate yourself for still loving him. You don't love me, so what does it matter what I do? “That's the only reason.”
Damon forced himself not to tremble as Elena's hand rose, the pad of her index finger stroking the furrow between his eyes. “Your forehead wrinkles when you lie.”
You look at my mouth when you think about kissing me. “Goodnight, Elena.”
Her footsteps were soft as she left his room, but Damon knew she didn't head down the stairs; instead he heard the creak of Stefan's door followed by soft words he didn't strain to hear. Even under the rush of water from the shower head, Damon could hear the sounds of Elena's mouth meeting Stefan's, the frenzied pull of clothing followed by the whimpers and cries Damon tried to emulate in his fantasies.
She was always supposed to be Stefan's.
Just like everything else.
Katherine's laughter lead Damon to the Willow Creek. As he entered the clearing, his clothing sticking to him in the humid August heat, Damon saw Katherine standing waist deep in the water, her gown and corset lying on the bank; her dark curls were pinned atop her head still, her bloomers soaked and clinging to her legs, the thin busk doing little to hide the swells of her breasts. Damon's breath caught at the picture she presented, so carefree and beautiful, and he wanted to tell her that, to have that smile turned upon him.
But she was laughing at Stefan, who was sitting in the creek, his shirt discarded, suspenders hanging loosely from his pants as he climbed to his feet.
“What would Father say about this little picture?” Damon drawled, and he saw Stefan's eyes widen in fear, undoubtedly afraid of disappointing Giuseppe by behaving like his big brother.
Katherine, however, seemed utterly unconcerned. “He would probably be jealous he did not get to participate.” She pursed her mouth, wiggling her eyebrows in mocking, and Damon felt his heart skip a beat. “And when did you become so proper, Damon? Don't tell me you've decided to be the good son. You'll break my heart and ruin our fun.”
“No chance of that happening, Miss Katherine,” he assured her, and he couldn't help the way his eyes lingered, making out the points of her nipples beneath the busk. It was likely his imagination, but he swore Katherine drew back her shoulders, a silent encouragement to continue looking.
“We're just swimming, Damon,” Stefan stammered, and Damon wished Stefan would stop making statements sound like questions. He was seventeen now, not a child, and Damon wondered when Stefan was going to find his backbone and realize he didn't need anyone's permission to live his life.
“Join us,” Katherine ordered, splashing water in his direction.
It was fun; Katherine was right about that. They frolicked in the water like they were children, like there wasn't a war waging around them; Damon could hardly believed someone like Katherine Pierce was in his life, unashamedly standing in the Willow Creek in transparent undergarments, pushing Damon beneath the water with surprising defense. He had never known a woman like this, and, as he broke the surface to retaliate, all the giddiness he felt dissipated.
Katherine was behind Stefan, having climbed upon his back, her arms wrapped around his neck, her lips brushing the shell of his little brother's ear as she whispered some secret.
Katherine wanted to play with him, but she wanted to tell her secrets to Stefan.
Not much would change in the next 145 years.
As Damon pulled into the driveway to the boarding house, he saw Elena leaving, a halfhearted wave the only indication she saw him. In the weeks since turning Abby, Elena barely acknowledged him at all, and Damon preferred it that way. Every time he saw her, every time she opened her mouth, he was reminded of some moment they had shared, and it was quickly followed by the realization it hadn't mattered at all.
The spare Salvatore, that's what Katherine once relished in calling him.
Stefan was sprawled on the couch in the great room, his shirt hanging off of the coffee table, his jeans zipped but unbuttoned; the entire room reeked of sex, and Damon grabbed the bottle of bourbon, not bothering with a glass.
“Looks like you and Elena have gotten over everything.”
His brother minutely shook his head. “Wouldn't call it that.”
“What do you call fucking in the common rooms?”
Stefan's face pinched with irritation. “How is this your business?”
“I already had to pay a fortune to get the bloodstains out of that couch. Add in other fluids - “
“Jesus Christ, Damon,” Stefan groaned, pushing to his feet as he buttoned his pants. “Just ask what you want to ask.”
“I don't know what you mean, brother.”
Sometimes, when he was being particularly self-righteous or just an outright bastard, Stefan looked so much like their father, it made Damon want to turn away; now was one of those times. “Ask me if Elena and I are back together. Ask me what you really want to know.”
Damon said nothing, clenching his jaw so tightly, he was certain his teeth might shatter.
Anger blazed brightly in Stefan's eyes (Giuseppe's eyes) as he leaned in, and Damon didn't understand why his brother was so enraged until he said, “Don't worry, Damon. It's just sex.” Stefan choked out a bitter sound, far too pained to ever be considered anything close to a laugh. “That's all she wants from me now.”
He moved fast, quicker than Damon was prepared for, and frustration swelled in his veins the moment Stefan pressed his face against the rug, fingers painfully pushing into his flesh. “Stop being a fucking asshole and listen to me. You don't get to do this.”
“Do what?” he gritted out, trying to fling Stefan off of him.
“You don't get to punish me for choices I didn't make.” Bouncing Damon's head off of the floor, Stefan climbed to his feet, sinking his foot painfully into Damon's stomach, forcing the air from his lungs. “She loves you, dick. And if you weren't so goddamned impatient, she would've told you that when she was ready.”
Wincing at the ache in his broken ribs, Damon managed, “You're wrong.”
“I'm not.” Stefan reached down, taking his hand and helping him to his feet, ever the good brother. “She tried to call you a dozen times the night of the party. If you just would've answered the phone, none of us would be where we are now.”
Stop thinking with your dick, Damon, he silently interpreted, knowing that what Stefan says and what Stefan means were rarely the same thing.
It was one of the few things they had in common.
“You don't fuck the way Stefan does,” Rebekah reported as they lied on their backs beside each other, the sheets tangled around their feet, sweat cooling on their unblemished skin.
“Better?” he prodded.
“Different,” she repeated, rolling onto her side, idly slapping his hand away from her breast. “You boys are always so predictable. What are you going ask next, if your dick's bigger?”
“I already know I won that round.” Tracing the curve of her hip, he asked, “Were you imagining I was Stefan?”
“Were you imagining I was Elena?” Rebekah's lips twisted into an unkind smile. “Or was it Katerina? Which doppelganger was I?”
“Wow...Your pillow talk sucks.”
Rebekah pinned him to the bed effortlessly, bearing her fangs as he squirmed beneath her. Damon could feel the bones of his wrists grinding together as she squeezed, and, as panic began to flutter in his stomach, he wondered if his dick was finally going to get him killed.
“You think I don't know when the man I'm fucking wishes I was someone else? You're even stupider than I thought if you believed for even a second I didn't know what this was.” Rebekah bent at the waist, her mouth a hairsbreadth from his own. “Did hatefucking me make you forget that she loves your brother? They're fickle, those Petrovas.”
“She's not a Petrova,” was all he could manage.
Rebekah laughed, nicking his bottom lip with her fangs. She drew his lip into her mouth, suckling at the blood, before whispering, “Oh, she's the worst one of them all.”
As Rebekah worked him with her hand, ready for another round, Damon bit his tongue to keep from arguing in defense of Elena. His mind should not be on Elena Gilbert as Rebekah rode him.
His mind was always on Elena Gilbert.
Ric let him in on his way out the door, announcing Damon's presence before rushing out to meet Meredith. Damon found Elena in the kitchen, an oversized sweatshirt sliding off of one shoulder, her long legs on display in a tiny pair of gym shorts, hair still damp from a shower; she did not look up from the recipe she was reading, and to say the kitchen was destroyed was an understatement.
“Did you get into a fight with the Quaker Oats guy?”
Huffing in irritation, Elena snapped, “It's Matt's birthday tomorrow. My mom always made him oatmeal-chocolate chip cookies, and that's what I'm doing.”
“Wouldn't you be better off buying them? I mean, no one wants food poisoning for their birthday.”
Slapping her hands down on the counter, she finally looked at him, and Damon was startled to see tears glistening in her eyes. “Did you come over here just to tell me what a horrible failure I am? Because I really don't need it today!”
Shaking his head, he carefully reached around her, picking up the recipe and scanning it before grabbing the canister of oatmeal. “Why don't you soften the butter while I mix the dry stuff?”
Elena looked at him with a combination of caution and confusion, but she did as he asked. They worked in silence, Damon combining everything before handing the mixing bowl over to Elena, who spooned the dough onto a cookie sheet. Setting the timer, Elena sighed heavily, and Damon tried to remember the speech he practiced on his way over, the words he carefully chose so as not to upset her.
“My mom and Matt have the same birthday.” Elena tucked a stray lock of hair behind her ear, offering him a shaky smile. “I didn't mean to yell at you.”
He had no idea why he blurted out, “What does Stefan think about you baking for Matt?”
Elena's gaze narrowed. “I don't know, Damon. What does he think about you baking for Matt?”
Damon inhaled deeply, trying to compose himself, gather his words, and behave like the responsible 167-year-old vampire he was when Elena scoffed.
“You know, you are unbelievable. You spend the last two months avoiding me - “
“You were avoiding me!”
“No, I wasn't! Any time I even went near you, you made up some excuse to get as far away from me as possible!”
“Maybe I didn't want to listen to 'The Elena Loves Stefan Chronicles, Volume 942!'” Anger reignited, he rushed on, “Not that I didn't have to listen to it anyway, what with you two going at it in every room of the house!”
Elena reared back, offense and rage dueling for top billing on her face, and Damon wondered what it said about him that arousal was his instinctive response. “Who I sleep with is none of your business, not when you're going around fucking Rebekah!”
“So what, Stefan's your revenge fuck?”
“You told me you loved me and then you slept with Rebekah!” she shouted, her voice cracking, and suddenly she looked so young as she deflated. Face twisting with pain, tears making her eyes shine, she rasped, “You didn't even give me a chance to explain what I meant. You just assumed I meant that I was never going to love you, so you went off and pulled typical Damon bullshit!”
“This is who I am, Elena - “
He stepped back with surprise as Elena began to pound her fists against his chest. “No, it's not! You think I don't know the real you? You don't think I know?”
Damon caught her wrists, holding her still. “Elena - “
“You turned Abby because you thought I was never going to love you, and you thought it would be easier for you if I hated you instead. The world isn't all or nothing, Damon! When are you going to realize that?”
“And when are you going to realize I'm never going to be like Stefan? I'm never going to get out of your way for some suicidal plan.”
“Fine.” Carefully extracting herself from his grip, she fidgeted with the bottom of her sweatshirt for a moment before murmuring, “I've missed you.”
“I missed him too,” Elena admitted, “but...We can't go back. And I'm not...I'm not the same girl I was when he left with Klaus. I'm different.” Voice strengthening, she stressed, “You made me different. I don't want to go back to how I was, and Stefan doesn't want to be with who I am now.”
“Because he says I remind him too much of Katherine.” Her voice broke as she softly asked, “Is that true?”
“No,” he answered immediately, not even needing to consider the question.
Elena dropped her gaze for a moment before confessing, “I wish we could start over. I wish...” The timer went off, making her start before rushing to remove the cookies from the oven. Damon watched her, wondering how she was going to finish her sentence, wondering how everything was going to end.
And then he realized what needed to be done.
“I'm going to go.”
Elena turned in surprise. “What? Why?”
“I'll see you tomorrow, okay?”
He left before Elena could say anything else, too afraid of his own weakness to stay and listen.
“I just don't understand what you see in her,” Katherine said as she rolled gloss over her lips, Elena's Homecoming dress clinging to her body becomingly.
“Katherine, I'm really not in the mood - “
“I mean, I get that our body is amazing,” she rushed on, acting as if Damon hadn't even spoken, “but even you can't be acting like this in hopes of getting some action from a teenager with a secondhand face.”
“Careful, Katherine. Your jealousy is showing.”
Rolling her eyes, Katherine countered, “This isn't jealousy; it's an intervention. How many times do you have to get shot down by women with my face who prefer Stefan before you realize this good guy routine is going to get you nowhere?” Sauntering across the room, running her nails lightly across his chest, she purred, “I know you, Damon. Playing the hero is going to get mighty boring.”
“Who says I'm playing?”
She scoffed, pushing him solidly in the center of his chest. “You're too old to be this naïve, Damon. We are who we are. The sooner you come to terms with that, the sooner you'll stop acting like the kind of fool you were when you were human.”
“And what a fool I was,” he spat bitterly.
Katherine shook her head, sounding every one of her 500 years as she repeated, “What a fool you were.”
Damon was always the fool.
It was what love did to him.
He found Elena in the cemetery, fresh lilies on Miranda Gilbert's grave, and, even in her grief, she looked lovely. For a moment Damon nearly lost his courage, afraid she was going to laugh in his face, afraid that she wasn't.
She didn't seem surprised to see him, approaching his car without hesitation, and Damon felt a burst of anxious excitement at the way she stepped into his body, resting her forehead against his collarbone, her arms instinctively wrapping around his torso. He inhaled deeply, catching the sweet scent of her hair, and it took everything in him not to shiver at the warm mist of her breath against his skin.
After a moment, Elena pulled away, opening her mouth to say something, but Damon pressed a finger to her lips, needing her to just listen. Her eyes widened but she did not protest; hope continued to swell in his chest.
“I thought about what you said, and you're right. The world isn't all or nothing, and I shouldn't have tried to make our relationship the same way.” Moving his fingers away from her mouth, moving his hand to cup the side of her face, he said, “We can't erase everything that's happened, but we could try again.”
Damon felt a flush of embarrassment at the words he was about to say but soldiered ahead, determined to get through this. “I'd like to take you on a date.”
Elena's eyes flashed in amusement. “A date?”
“Yes, a date,” he repeated somewhat defensively. “That's what people do when they want to get to know each other, right? They date.”
“Well, yeah, but...You already know me, Damon. I already know you.”
“Did you know I speak six languages? That I play the piano? That I hate mushrooms? What about the time I slept with Marilyn Monroe?”
“You slept with Marilyn Monroe?” she asked dubiously.
Damon offered her his most charming grin. “See? And there's tons I don't know about you. I don't know your favorite color, your favorite food, your favorite sexual position...”
“Damon,” she objected with a laugh.
“One date won't kill you.”
“I don't know. This is Mystic Falls.” A smirk playing at her lips, she agreed, “One date and it can't be dinner at the Grill.”
His heart nearly exploded with emotion, but Damon only nodded. “Be ready at eight and wear something nice. Low-cut is also appreciated.”
He was climbing into the Camaro, Elena walking to her own car, when she turned, walking backwards as she called, “Hey, Damon?”
The mischievous smile on her face was purely Petrova, as seductive as Katherine's but twice as beguiling. “I like to be on top.”
By the time Damon understood the meaning of her words, Elena was already in her car and driving away, her laughter echoing in his ears, and he couldn't help but join in, genuine lightness throughout his being.
Elena was supposed to be Stefan's.
Elena was choosing him.
It was a new day indeed.