A/N I promised you prompt updates, and I'm not about to go back on that. After all, considering how amazing your reviews are, what sort of person would I be if I denied you?
Hope you enjoy this chapter, which serves to help Elena get over her fear of being with Damon. Time to bring in someone to counsel her! Thanks for all the feedback and I look forward to more of your thoughts!
The next morning, Elena woke surrounded by a blanket, one which happened to be Damon-shaped and Damon-scented. Despite such an intimate position, she actually found it comforting to be so near him, a real mark of how far their relationship had come.
With Damon's arm slung over her and his body securely behind her own, she was finding less and less reason to leave the bed. She wouldn't have done it, were it not for her bladder demanding some relief. To her consternation, he seemed unhappy with that possibility, wholly intent on keeping her trapped.
"Stay in bed," he whispered, as she was trying to move away from him. It didn't help that he nuzzled the back of her neck at the same time.
"Damon, let me go," she replied, trying to escape the prison of his lithe, glaringly perfect body.
"Just stay with me, Elena," he said, his sincerity making her forget her aims for a second. Thankfully, he'd relented once she mentioned her need to go to the bathroom.
As she strode towards her destination, she suddenly found herself missing the security and comfort of his arms.
"Don't you think we need to call the people back home?"
Damon shook his head, still clad in yet another pair of black pinstripe pajamas. Elena on the other hand, was wearing a satin nightgown. "Why do that," he said, "when we're perfectly fine as we are? With the exception of last night, this road trip has gone off without a hitch."
Elena gestured at her phone. "I checked. As of this morning, I have fifteen missed calls from Caroline, three from Bonnie and one from Jeremy."
"So?" He shrugged, pulling her to sit beside him while he leaned his back against the headboard. "It's probably them asking for details. Maybe witchy thinks I've actually kidnapped you or something equally morbid." He turned towards her, placing small kisses on her neck and shoulders.
"You really hate Bonnie," she said, leaning against his chest while he distracted her with his mouth.
"I don't hate her, Elena. I just don't like her too much. Sure, she's saved you and everyone a bunch of times, but the witchy migraines will always be a detractor in my book." After that, he went right back to kissing her.
"You're such a child."
He stopped his onslaught to answer her . "Why not be a kid? Children are funny, innocent and mostly honest. Adults on the other hand, are chock-full of worries, deceit and all sorts of strange beliefs."
"So you're saying you like children?"
He nodded, giving her his usual smile. "I kinda do, except for the pooping, puking and crying. I call that the Unholy Combination. I like to be neat, and that combination makes for one big mess."
"The Unholy Combination, huh?" She giggled a bit at his answer. "I can't wait to tell everyone that you actually like kids. Caroline will never let you live it down, and you know it."
The glint was back in his eye. "You better not, or you're in for another tickle war, Gilbert."
Conceding, she threw her hands up in the air. Suddenly recalling last night's massive ordeal, she looked at him with concern. "Are you sure you're okay?"
"I should be asking you that." He pulled her palm toward him, inspecting the wound. To his relief, it was bleeding considerably less. "If you want," he said cautiously, "I can heal that with vampire blood. It'll take care of that cut on your cheek too."
"Can you even spare any after last night?" she said.
It delighted him to note that she didn't refuse outright. If he played his cards right, he would be cementing his connection with her even more. Ergo, he would be sealing the deal somewhat, and sealing it in blood too.
"Elena," he said, "you know I don't like seeing you anything less than perfect. Besides, consider it a thank-you for last night, including the feeding, the driving and the bath."
"You're not gonna thank me for distracting Oliver?"
He shook his head adamantly. "That was reckless and potentially life-threatening, Elena. I don't approve of it at all. Neither do I approve of anything which results in you getting killed, even if it's just in the realm of possibility."
She didn't get a chance to respond, since a voice filtered in from outside the door. "Room service!"
Elena clambered off the bed, but not before she received another kiss on the lips from Damon. Truthfully, she'd become comfortable with such a gesture, and had paid no mind to it.
Once she was at the door, Elena let the food cart be brought in, careful to hide the view of the bloodied sheets. Safe to say, Damon had ordered too much again. She even had a fleeting thought about returning to town with an expanded waistline.
Wasteful, extravagant vampire, she chided in her head. Then again, who am I to tell him how much to spend? Wealth probably gets relative once you're a vampire.
"Put it on my account," Damon said, and the employee walked away without another word, leaving a mountain of food in their room.
At least, to Elena's huge satisfaction, ice cream was on the cart. As short as their time together had been, Damon had been remarkably observant. Same as their first night in Richmond, it was vanilla on the menu.
Grabbing the ice cream, she went back to the bed and gave him a kiss on the cheek. Needless to say, he'd been surprised by it.
"Not that I'm complaining," Damon said, "but can I ask what that was for, Elena?"
"For being a good little Salvatore and remembering vanilla ice cream. Stefan brought me ice cream once, but it was pistachio, I think. I ate it, but I didn't really like it too well."
Woo, I fucking rock. He smirked at his success, even if it was a small one. At least, in the field of ice cream choices, he'd won out resoundingly over his brother. Take that, baby bro. She doesn't like your pistachio!
"Personally," he finally said, "I prefer chocolate. But, if vanilla ice cream comes with you as an add-on, I'd be persuaded to change my preferences."
"That's actually hard to achieve, Damon. Bonnie once tried to convert me to the strawberry side and she failed miserably. Who says you can do it?"
With his signature leer, he said, "I'm Damon Salvatore. I can do anything." Proving his point, he stuck his index finger into the ice cream and painted a bit of her cheek with it.
"Jerk!" she said, and retaliated. She stuck her whole hand into the white goo, before putting it all on his face. Elena laughed loudly at the sight.
"You're dead," he threatened, before he took off to the cart and grabbed a bowl of raspberry preserve. "If I get covered, so do you." Before she could defend herself, he'd already charged at her, dotting her face with red.
Pretty soon, it was an all out food war. She'd continued to cover him in ice cream, while he messed her up with the preserves. Afterwards, they both graduated to chucking berries at each other, before finally using cocoa powder as makeshift distractions.
They hadn't stopped laughing or slugging each other with pillows throughout the entire battle, happily playing like innocent but hyperactive children. Quite plainly, it was a perfect moment in a litany of past imperfections, at least until life put itself squarely against them both.
Just as Damon had leaned in for another impromptu kiss, a loud knock emanated from the door.
"Fucking cockblockers!" he said, storming to the doorway with the intent of killing whoever was on the other side. Suffice it to say, he hadn't expected the face staring back at him.
"Hello, old friend. Hope I'm not interrupting anything?"
"What the fuck?" Damon said. "What are you doing here, Anthony?"
"I heard you were in Richmond, so I came for a visit. What on Earth is up with you, Salvatore? Have you regressed into temperamental childhood? Oh wait, you've always been this way." Anthony gave sad little sigh.
That was their last interaction, before Elena came to check on things. She was clearly embarrassed at how messy they both were, in comparison to the impeccably-dressed British vampire on the other side of the door.
"Sorry we look like this," she said, wiping a bit of the goo off. "Was there something you needed?"
"You must be the lovely lady Damon always talks about. I'm Anthony, a friend of his."
Damon cut in with, "And I don't really like you being here right now. I was about to score a kiss when you gloriously screwed up my attempt."
Elena smacked his arm. "I'm sorry about his behavior right now. Nice to meet you, Anthony."
"I'm equally charmed," the dapper immortal said. "Even under all that muck, you clearly are very beautiful."
Seeing Elena's blush at his compliment, Damon decided to employ some damage control. Facing his friend, he said, "Just tell me what you want with us, please?"
Anthony sighed. "You always were a cad. Anyway, I heard you were in Richmond, and bringing someone special at that. I was hoping to invite her to lunch, to get to know her and what not."
"Absolutely n-," Damon said, but he was cut off by Elena.
"I would love to." Honestly, Elena didn't know why she said what she said.
"Excellent." Anthony was beaming. "I will see you at Le Citron at one in the afternoon, if that is agreeable?"
"Definitely," Elena said, further adding to Damon's silent but obvious frustration. He always was too charming for his own good, the elder Salvatore thought.
"In that case," the golden-haired Anthony said, his daylight ring gleaming, "I will take my leave so you can discuss things with Damon. I'm sure he's not too pleased, judging by his face."
"Damn straight I'm not pleased, Anthony," the pissed-off vampire said, before he closed the door in his friend's face. Clearly, Elena didn't like such an action.
"What is up with you, Damon? He just wanted to have lunch. Besides, I'd actually like to talk to any friends of yours. It's a new development."
"Well…" I am not gonna admit it. Not gonna admit it. Not gonna admit it. Nope, not gonna happen.
A knowing look was in her eye. "Oh my God. Please don't tell me you're jealous?"
He didn't respond.
Shit, she caught me. "So what if I am? It's our road trip!"
"Damon," she said, cradling his messy head in her hands. "I just wanna meet him. He seems like a nice enough guy and he clearly has really great manners."
He shook his head slightly. "Fine. At least I know the guy. Go on, it's already ten-thirty, you might wanna start preparing."
"Thank you," she said, before she gave him his missed kiss. He found some of his negative mood evaporating at such a gesture.
As she walked to the bathroom, Elena found herself wondering why she wanted to make such a good impression. She actually felt like a new girlfriend waiting for the best friend's seal of approval. Much to her surprise, seeing herself as Damon's girlfriend didn't seem too far-fetched anymore.
"Elena, thank you for accommodating me," Anthony said, charmingly giving her a kiss on the hand. "You look very lovely."
"Thank you, Anthony," she said, following him over to their table. Given her designer sheath dress and heels, she did feel good about herself.
Once they sat down, a waiter immediately came by. When Elena asked about it, Anthony said, "They recognize me, I'm often here more than Damon is." To that, she just nodded.
"Good afternoon, Mr. Walker," the waiter greeted. "What will you and your companion be having today?"
Anthony looked at Elena. "Would you prefer to order yourself or may I take the liberty?"
"You go ahead. It's only my second time here."
"Very well." Anthony looked at the waiter. "We will have the bouillabaisse, of course, in addition to truffade and today's house salad. Salade Niçoise, if I'm not mistaken."
The waiter smiled, since Anthony had gotten it right. "And what will your wine be, sir?"
"A good bottle of Verdelho will suffice."
"Of course. Will you be ordering dessert now, or later?"
"Later." Anthony pointed to Elena and said, "The lovely lady will be the one choosing." He smiled at Elena's small blush.
Once the waiter finished repeating their order, he hurried away to fetch the selected wine, leaving Anthony and Elena alone. It was her who broke the silence first.
"So, Anthony," she said. "How long have you known Damon?"
"I knew you'd ask that. I've heard stories about the Salvatores since 1880, but it was only in 1950 that your boy and I met. He's been a good friend since, even with his mercurial temper and all."
"I wouldn't say he's my boy or anything." Maybe he's becoming the one, I don't know. Crap, this is confusing.
"Oh? So you and Damon are friends? You certainly seemed more than that when I arrived, given all the sticky muck on your faces earlier. You two are very comfortable with each other."
Shit, he's really observant, Elena thought. Before she could formulate a verbal answer, the waiter came with the wine. After the bottle was opened and poured, Anthony kept on with his questioning. "So am I correct? You are just friends?"
"Yeah, pretty much." Even Elena's own voice didn't seem too convinced at that answer. "I dated his younger brother, Stefan. Have you heard of him?"
Anthony took a sip of his wine and said, "I have. Damon and I talked a lot about his younger brother. They had problems. How is Stefan now?"
"He's doing better," she said. But once upon a time, he was emotionless and fixated on revenge against Klaus.
"You don't seem very happy about that fact. Any reason that should be so?"
It takes a lot to make me smile, even the least bit, these days. "Well, he went through hell and back with someone, and he did it to save Damon. I don't know if Damon told you, but he got bitten by a werewolf. Thinking of those events strips me of any happiness." And did I mention our whole deathbed kiss?
Oblivious to her thoughts, Anthony registered only her verbal utterances. Her story made his face go pale, before shock finally filtered through. "And how did my dear friend survive? I've heard the tales. There is no cure."
It was Elena's turn to take a long sip of her wine. "Actually there is, but the existence of that cure is relatively recent." At least Damon got cured, so me being sacrificed actually yielded at least one good thing.
"Do tell. What is this cure?"
"More like who, if you think about it. The cure to a werewolf bite is the blood from someone. His name is Klaus."
"Klaus as in Original Klaus? That Klaus?"
"Yep." She took a gulp of her wine this time. "Have you heard of him before?"
He nodded. "Elena, I am very old. Most of us who are my age know many tales of the Originals, the fabled progenitors of our species. Considering my love of studying our history, I know more than most, to be honest."
"And how old are you?"
Older than Katherine, huh? "Shit. Wow, okay, sorry for that."
He dismissed her with a smile. "No need, my age does shock many. Now my dear, what of Klaus? Is there something new to add to my records? I do so love learning new things about our kind."
"He's a hybrid."
"A hybrid what?" Anthony asked, finishing his glass of wine and refilling it.
"He's from a werewolf bloodline, but that part of him was suppressed. Now he's freed that part and he's both."
"I see. How did the freeing take place?"
"I'd rather not talk about it. It was a horrible ordeal." Basically Elijah screwed us, I got sacrificed along with my aunt and Jules, and then my uncle-slash-dad died to bring me back to life.
"I can respect that," Anthony said. "Besides, our food is here. Let's not talk of too many unsavory things."
True to his word, their waiter was accompanied by another one, both of them bringing trays. The soup was served with slices of bread, followed by the truffade and the individually-plated salads.
Once the waiters were done serving, they walked away with the usual, "Enjoy your meal."
"May I?" Anthony asked.
"Thanks," Elena said, watching her lunch companion serve the soup to them both, before he cut up the truffade and put a slice on each of their plates.
After he took his first bite of the truffade, Anthony said, "So, enough of past tales. What of you and Damon? You told me you dated his brother. That's in past tense." He poured them some more wine. "Are you looking to have a relationship with the elder?"
Elena let out a huff, before smiling on account of the great-tasting soup. "I don't know really."
"And why don't you know, lovely one?" The well-mannered vampire forked some of the salad into his mouth and chewed.
"Well, Damon's a good guy, but you know how he is. One of these days, his lashing out and his impulses are gonna be the death of him." For some reason, Elena felt comfortable talking to Anthony, so she continued. "Plus, his personality can be confusing sometimes, it's hard to deal with."
"I understand. He scares you, does he not?"
"Yeah. Stefan was pretty much a steady person." Until he went all ripper, but then, that's for yet another conversation. "In comparison, Damon's a freaking whirlwind. He just takes you into the thick of it, you know?"
"He can be impulsive yes," Anthony conceded. "Deep down though, I really believe Damon is steadier than his brother. As I mentioned before, I've heard of them even before I met them personally. Stefan had quite the reputation."
Elena was unable to stop herself from blurting out, "As a ripper?"
He nodded once and put down his fork. "I visited Monterey in the aftermath of one of his binges. It was a sobering sight. In contrast, I've never heard of Damon being so lost in bloodlust."
A prior conversation with Damon filtered into Elena's head. It was a memory of the events during the Miss Mystic Falls pageant, shortly before their first dance. The subject had been Stefan and what Damon liked to call his extra-curricular activities.
Normal to a vampire is drinking human blood. But he spent all this time fighting it, when he should have been learning to control it. And now it's controlling him instead.
All of a sudden, the scene between Damon, Stefan and the girl outside the Grill made sense. Though she'd been shocked by the sight, somehow Anthony placed it in context, making it a forgivable part of the bigger picture.
"So you've never seen him fly off the handle?" she finally said.
Anthony spooned some soup into his mouth, swallowing before he answered. "Damon in terms of blood? No. I admire his control when it comes to that. He's always had formidable willpower." He chuckled. "At least, when it comes to bloodlust. His anger issues and his impulses are another matter."
"That's what scares me." Elena took a bite of her truffade, finishing her soup.
"I don't think it should," he said. "You tame him in a way I've never seen. And I've known him personally for over half a century, not counting what I've heard from 1880 onward. He's very different with you."
"But he loves it."
"What? Being a vampire? I do admit he excels at it. His sense of self-preservation is very strong, but it seems he's set that aside these days. In favor of you, I might add."
She took a sip of wine. "How do you know that?"
"I've heard tales of you and him, but don't ask me how. Like I said, Elena, I know more than most. Virginia is not my beloved London, but I have come to call it home." He gave her another helping of soup. "What happens in this state, I usually know."
"Alright then. Can I tell you something though? I find you really easy to talk to, you see. It's comforting, in a way. I'm also hoping for your help in clarifying things. To be honest, I'm muddled right now."
"I'd be honored to help you, Elena. Now, what did you want to tell me?"
Oh God. I'm really gonna do this. I'm gonna admit my deepest secrets to a British vampire I've barely met. Whatever, I'm taking this plunge. I promised Damon I would choose, and I'm not gonna chicken out now. "Anthony," Elena said, "I think I'm…"
He beat her to the punch. "In love with Damon? I gathered that. The thing is, as you've said, he frightens you. His fiery, headstrong personality, his pragmatism and his impulsiveness, basically most things about him scare you."
"Well, yeah. It's like his love will consume me or something. What if I allow myself to love him, and then it destroys me? What if he changes me too much? What if I don't recognize myself anymore?"
Anthony did nothing but chuckle. "Now you're rambling. Listen, my dear, he can be frightening, even I know that. But take heed of what I said. His willpower is not to be trifled with, and you know he will defend what is important. His loyalty too, while selective, is unwavering when bestowed. Ask yourself then, is Damon really such a bad choice?"
"Do you doubt that he will protect you?"
If it comes down to you and the witch again, I will gladly let Bonnie die. I will always choose you.
The wise British immortal kept his line of questioning. "Do you doubt that he loves you?"
She shook her head this time. Damon had never given her reason to doubt his love. He'd always stood by, stoic and unchanging in his affections for her. Even when she'd hurt him and pushed him away, he'd always been there for her like a lifeline she could always cling to.
"Do you doubt his devotion?"
"No…" If anything, his devotion is the deepest I've seen. I mean, even if it did turn out as a bust, he still spent over a century looking for Katherine. Jeez, to be honest, his devotion is fucking frightening, especially because he directs it so much at me.
"Then my dear, I don't think you have anything to worry about. Trust me, when Damon chooses an object of devotion, he will move heaven and earth for it. Now, if that object of devotion is you," here Anthony smiled, "then I think you are the luckiest girl on this planet."
"Indeed. I've known him long enough to say with certainty, that he will die for certain things and certain people. But, even more important, he will also live for those things. I'm sure you know, Damon will always go down kicking and screaming with his fangs out."
The only thing Elena did was nod in agreement and smile.
"You want my advice?" he said.
"Don't be afraid, Elena. The best things in this life often require the greatest leaps of faith. If we don't make those leaps, we could miss out on the biggest chances to be happy. If ever I want you to remember anything I've said, that's it. Do not be afraid to take a leap of faith."
With that parting statement, both of them said nothing much until lunch and dessert was finished. As they walked out of Le Citron a good three hours later, Elena's surprising request had them heading out into the city instead of going back to Room 1019. She only hoped that with Anthony's help, her spur-of-the-moment plan would succeed. After all, the stakes included Damon's heart and her own chance at happiness.
Take a leap right?
A/N There we go, the seventh chapter. Can't believe we hit the 80s mark before this one got posted. Best. Readers. Ever.
That said, my new challenge is to hit 100 reviews, and then I'll post the next chapter. I don't know why, I just wanna hit that mark real bad. Shit, when did I become this addicted to reviews? I feel like an addict on crack.
Anyway, what the hell is Elena up to now, and with Anthony nonetheless? Also, can anybody guess why Anthony knows so much? Whoever gets the answer right gets to have an early preview of Chapter 8, with the power to make a request with regard to the content. Remember to leave a review and thanks again for all the support so far!