Prompt (from the lovely earnmysong): Elena Gilbert, Let's love and risk it all...even if it hurts just a little too much
A/N: Title from “The Sequel” by Theodore Roethke. Set immediately post-2.22.
All fires fail. That’s the continuing trend. Who’s to say stock isn’t going to plummet tomorrow, but it’s unlikely. Even this last fire, this fever, had burned itself out before consuming him. All fires failed. This was the story of his life, the condensed version. Just add blood to get the full epic.
It’s sundown on the
“I’m in transition,” Elena tells him, the sunlight hitting her full on but not warming her in the least. She’s letting the idea run out stark naked, without concern for just how much it’s going to expose.
“How do you figure?” Damon asks, keeping his distance. Yesterday was already Revelation Day, and if they add in any more, they just might jumpstart the Rapture.
Elena picks words like dead roses—in fact, like she’d already picked them yesterday, when she’d thought she was going to be his sole funeral attendant.
Damon imagines it for a moment, wonders who else would’ve come. Alaric, maybe, still extinguishing his own fire with accelerant; Caroline, who put out others’ fires while never tending to her own; or perhaps Katherine, the one who’d lit the match to begin with.
“It’s a choice,” Elena’s saying as he tunes back in. “That’s the only way to see it.”
“A choice,” Damon repeats. “Come again?” It’s too much to hope that Elena’s mentioning the inevitable choice between Salvatores.
“It had to be.” Elena curls her arm around her knees, shades her eyes from the sun. “He chose to leave with Klaus.”
Damon shifts in the grass, sits up on his elbows. “Don’t you think you’re oversimplifying things?” he asks her, already regretting it the second the words leave his mouth. This is his chance right here, and he’s pouring gasoline all over it.
“Maybe.” Elena gets up, brushes dirt off her pants. “Let’s go inside,” she says. “I’m tired of looking at the sun.”
There’s a Renaissance-era painting in the hallway leading to Damon’s room. Elena pauses in front of it and studies the people. She traces her finger along the hem of the girl’s dress, touches the boy’s lips.
“What do you think happened to them?” she whispers. “The people in the painting.”
Damon spares the painting a glance, and then takes Elena by the shoulder. “They died.”
Damon’s bed is still in disarray from yesterday’s events. The sheets are in a crumple on the floor, and there’s a washcloth warping the wood of his dresser.
Elena lingers by the door, leans against the wall as if she’s waiting for an invitation.
“Tell me more about this transition idea,” Damon says.
She closes her eyes, lets out a shaky breath. “I’m deciding.”
“Deciding what? As far as I can see, Elena, there’s only one road left, and babe—you and I are both on it. So are you going to be Thelma, or Louise?”
“I think it’s more of a Bonnie and Clyde thing.”
“Touché.” Damon picks up a glass of tepid water from the nightstand and takes a swallow. Elena walks over slowly, like she’s crossing a bridge she’s not sure will take her weight.
She stands too close and too far at the same time. Damon swishes water around in his mouth and then sits on the bed. He sets the empty glass back on the table and pats the sheets next to him.
Elena sits but doesn’t look at him at first. Damon’s not sure if he can trust himself with her here so close to him, not when they’re both like this- on the fence, deciding which side is better to jump down on or whether they should stake themselves with barbed wire.
She touches his arm first. “You’re still warm,” she murmurs, “But it’s nothing like it was. Damon—” she breathes in quickly.
—the flames, the Scarlett O’Hara flames in the background while he was supposed to die but didn’t, the feel of Katherinelena’s lips, the sheer heat of it all, the burning, the burning that was the feeling of atonement done right—
“Did you tell me because I was dying?” He cuts her off, but she only blinks at him.
“You’re already dead, Damon. You have been for a long time, I think.”
“Being with you makes me feel more alive, Elena.”
“Huh. Well, being with you makes me feel more dead. I guess it evens out.”
Her fingers tangle in his hair, and they fall back on the bed. Her leg slides up around his waist. When his teeth pierce her skin, she cries out- and Damon can’t tell whether there’s more pain or pleasure in the noise.
“Stefan was building up a tolerance,” he breathes in her ear, “but I want to get drunk on you.”
In the morning, Damon opens the windows wide, Elena still asleep, her wrist flung over her head on the pillow.
—playing Dead Poets Society, the feel of the carpet against his cheek as Stefan tackled him, Stefan who never got over that martyr complex even when it was Damon getting ready to pull a Joan of Arc—
There always had to be the good one and the bad one. They’ve reversed roles again, but no one ever said that the positions couldn’t evolve: the bad and the worse.
Damon doesn’t wonder where his brother is. He steps into the puddle of light on the floor, feeling it warm his bare feet. Behind him, Elena stirs but doesn’t wake up.
He’s a contradiction, so fully that it’s surprising his molecules don’t wrench themselves apart to exist at opposite ends of the polar spectrum, like they should. Alivedead. Darklight. Daynight. Lovehate. Endbeginning. Damon twists his ring on the tip of his finger and stares into the sun. All fires failed.