“They say a person needs just three things to be truly happy in this world:
someone to love, something to do, and something to hope for.”
It was nearing a full week with Bella being in Mystic Falls and aside from getting familiar with the general layout of town, Damon made sure she knew exactly who the key figures were to know. He pointed out the names and faces that were allies, and those who were not so friendly, but Bella knew to take certain opinions with a grain of salt simply because this was Damon.
The two seemed to have been doing a dance of sorts around one another. It was clear the amount of affection they clearly held but neither one was willing to voice it. He wanted her to be the brave wildcat he knew she was to call him out, as he had seen in her eyes in her dreams, but she wasn’t ready. And he was simply still too terrified of rejection to bring it up himself.
Everyone was frustrated just by being in the same room of them, their tension so palpable but knowing it wasn’t their place to say anything. It was something the two just needed to figure out on their own but Elena was nearing her wits end and every time she went to open her mouth to say something, Stefan would drag her out to take her hunting or to the mall to distract her.
One thing though that kept Damon from confronting Bella was that he was afraid of her completely turning down his blood to turn her. While she had plenty of other vampires around her now that could turn her when the time came, he wanted his blood to sire her. It had nothing to do with sire bonds that he seemed to have the unfortunate luck to develop. It was just the intimacy of it that for once he wanted to give someone and not allow someone else to do. Isabella was his and he would fight for her to his last breath, to his last drop of blood.
While the unusual mating dance between Damon and Bella had progressed, and Elena watched from afar, she continued to feel those pangs of jealousy. It wasn’t nearly as bad as it was the first night but it was something she realized, seeing them together, that she could get over in time. When Jeremy and Stefan told her about what had been going on with Bella’s ex, she had gotten an idea that could possibly be used to their advantage, but didn’t want to tell anyone yet. She would first need to speak with Bella about it alone, if only Damon trusted her enough after the way she had treated her initially. She understood his skepticism, but something inside her just knew that for him to get what he wants, he would need her help.
Bella stood between Caroline and Bonnie as she looked up at the building. She was frozen in place since she stepped out of Elena’s car as she tried to mentally psych herself up to walk into school. It wasn’t the whole school thing that bothered her. It was the new student syndrome that she hated. Despite the girls’ stories and gossip that they tried to fill her in on with the students they were familiar with, she was also slightly uncomfortable with the fact that she was older than her classmates. While she should have graduated that past June with her class back in Forks, her depression after Edward leaving kept her out to the point that before Charlie died, he was considering sending her to a psychiatric hospital because he was at a loss of what to do with her.
She started turning around and coming back to life after she met Damon, but that only lasted so long before her life shattered again. Taking a deep breath, she smiled back at her new friends and even Elena. While she still didn’t quite trust her, she was giving her the benefit of a doubt. Caroline was sure that this was the same girl now that she grew up with, and she did trust Caroline.
“Okay so you remember your cover story? Alaric already registered you and he’ll meet us in the office with your schedule,” Elena grinned happily. Whatever the girl took that morning was so peppy that it made Bella want to vomit rainbows and butterflies.
“Isabella Saltzman. Ric is my uncle and I just moved here from Boston, where he was raised. My parents died in a car crash, drunk driver, and him being my last known living relative, here I am,” Bella repeated robotically. “Let’s just get this over with already.”
Bonnie squeezed her hand in encouragement. “Why don’t you all go to class. I have first period free so I’ll show Bella to the office so that it’s not so overwhelming,” she smiled, giving them a small nod.
Elena and Caroline looked to her to see if she’d be fine and all Bella could do was nod, flashing Bonnie with a grateful smile. “Thanks,” she whispered.
“No problem. I actually wanted to get you alone for a few minutes to talk away from the others. Damon told me he asked you to drink his blood in case something did happen to you and we couldn’t get to you in time. Have you thought about it at all?” she asked curiously.
Bella hesitated. “I honestly don’t know. When I was with Edward, all I wanted to be was a vampire like him so that we could have forever together. He was always against my turning, claiming that he didn’t want me to lose my soul to become a monster. I mean how could he say loves me but not want me with him forever, right? So I’m not sure about the whole vampire thing anymore,” she admitted. “I’m just so tired of losing everyone I care about that I don’t know what’s worth anything anymore.”
Bonnie listened patiently before moving so that she couldn’t avoid her gaze. “I need you to listen to me, okay? I didn’t always like Damon. Hell, half the time I still can’t stand him but he’s proven himself loyal to all of us, even me considering how many times I’ve tried to kill him in the beginning. But if you want to use your reasoning with Edward as a basis, Damon does want you to change. He wants you with him, and before you try thinking that he asked me to talk to you about this, he didn’t. He doesn’t even know. I’m just looking out for my friends, and that includes you Bella. You belong with us. You can have forever with Damon, and with him comes Stefan, Elena, Caroline, and Tyler. You can also count Alaric in as well because this cover of him being your uncle was his idea. He knows the pain of losing family to the supernatural world and he may not be your dad, but he is more than willing to help you in that area when you need it. He’s already like a step-dad to Elena and Jeremy and you know they think the world of him.”
Each time Bella tried to say something, Bonnie had pushed through with her speech, the next thing negating the exact thought that she had wanted to say leaving her with no argument. As she considered everything, she knew she was right. Everything Damon had done for her since she arrived in Mystic Falls last week was to prove that he wanted her there with him. “I still don’t know about the blood thing, but I will consider it more than I was before. That’s all I can promise right now,” she said.
“That’s all I can ask,” Bonnie nodded in approval. Weaving her arm through the girl’s, she grinned. “Now let’s go see your uncle. I hope we have a few classes together!”
After school, while everyone was busy with their usual business, Bella sat outside waiting for her friends. She wasn’t into cheer leading so she didn’t need to sit through that for Caroline and Bonnie had some questions about some of her homework. She didn’t know the guys very well and Stefan was reluctant hadn’t returned to school due to some of their own supernatural drama that she didn’t want to ask about.
Still, she had no issues waiting outside, enjoying the sunshine for everyone to gather. What surprised her was that it was Elena that showed up first, looking nervous and kind of flighty, immediately putting her on edge.
“Please, Bella. I just want to talk. I don’t know how much Damon told you this week but I had an idea or rather a contingency plan for you that I wanted to talk to you about…”
Bella looked at her confused, but as she listened, her expression quickly became more guarded and closed off. She definitely liked Elena’s plan, especially when it came to Edward and Alice, but the question was would they be able to pull it off when the time came because it would take a long time to lay the ground work for. And ultimately, it could very well hurt Elena more in the end but with what she knows of her former friends, it could be her only option. When the girl asked her, no practically begged her to drink Damon’s blood for him, Bella balked and was ready to run off but she continued on with her plan, she could see that she was only speaking to her as a friend to both of them, just as Bonnie did that morning.
Still, she was angry that information had been kept from her. That they had been in contact with Jasper and at least one of his friends since the night she told them about him and she would deal with him. She had enough of secrets with the Cullens and later the Quiletes. She was not going to tolerate it with him too, and that was where Elena had earned her respect, despite her reservations on her feelings for him.
Damon was lucky that he was busy with his errands that he couldn’t pick her up from her first day back to school so when he returned home to find her effectively ignoring any attempt he made to talk to her, he turned to his brother baffled. “What crawled up her ass today?”
“Beats me. She’s been ignoring me as well,” Stefan admitted.
Elena released an amused snort from her relaxed position on the couch where she was reading her assigned work for the day. “Are you two really that dense? I wonder if Stefan failed to notice just who else she also suddenly got pissed with after school today,” she pointed out.
Her boyfriend looked back her confused as he thought about the girl’s sudden cold shoulder to Bonnie, who she had begun to warm up to after their initial clashing over Damon. He had also thought that she seemed a little more reluctant to get to know the others but she still seemed fine with Caroline and said as much.
“Well then I wonder what happened recently that excluded Caroline from the bunch that Bella might have found out about. What is it that she has issues with that might have been going on right under her nose?” Elena huffed as she glared at them. “For two vampires that are supposedly so smart you both are dumb as shit. It’s a wonder if she learns to trust either of you once this whole mess is over with. She barely trusts me as it is and that’s only because I told her what Damon should have told her nearly a week ago!”
The sudden understanding that dawned on his face quickly morphed into absolute misery as he started to turn to go up the stairs to confront Bella about why he didn’t tell her about what was going on but Elena had stopped him. “Don’t bother. She’s pissed yes, but she’s just letting you all suffer. I already explained it to her and she does understand – to an extent. She’ll forgive you, this time. She told me as much, but I have a feeling it’s going to be your one free pass from her Damon. Bella doesn’t seem to be the kind to forgive easily.”
He glared at her as he turned to eye her curiously. “And what is up with you? Suddenly you’re like BFFs with Isabella?”
“It’s not like that but she and I have an – understanding. You don’t need to know about it,” Elena sniffed and walked away leaving him suspicious again. Stefan too eyed her as she left the house, standing next to Damon.
“What is she up to?” Damon questioned.
“I don’t know but I’ll see if I can find out. Just talk to Bella. For everyone’s sake? We can’t keep dealing with you two if you don’t know what you’re doing when everything goes down. If Bella won’t start taking your blood now…” he trailed off in clear worry.
Damon waved him off, not wanting to go down that road but knowing he couldn’t put off that talk any longer. “I’ll talk to her -”
“I will talk to her!” He repeated, leveling his eyes on him before stomping up the stairs. He tried to drag his feet as much as he could to their room, as he thought about what he wanted to say, what he needed to say but he just didn’t know.
He found her sitting at the foot of the bed, just looking off at nothing. She surely knew he was there watching as he didn’t try hiding himself. Taking a deep breath to ready himself, he just blurted out the first thing he could think of. “I didn’t keep it from you to hurt you. I just wanted to let you have as much normal as you can get before shit hit the fan.”
Bella’s eyes blinked as she turned to look at him and nodded slowly. “I know that,” she replied. “I – Damon, it just hurt that you didn’t tell me. I understand. I really do, and like I told Elena, I can forgive and forget it this time but please, no more secrets. If something comes up, no matter what it is, please tell me. Even if you’re afraid of hurting me. Please know I’m stronger than what everyone assumes me to be, you know I am because you helped make me stronger. I can’t take being lied to again, especially you since I don’t even…”
“You don’t what?” Damon asked as he braved his way closer to kneel in front of her. He looked up her, trying to see into her eyes where she wouldn’t be able to hide herself from him to search for what she was feeling.
Taking a deep breath she met his gaze. “I don’t know what we are to each other,” she answered in a whisper. It was soft and a little shaky but she still pressed on. “Sure we’ve made out – a lot. We sleep in the same bed and done a few things. More than I’d ever done with Edward but I’m not experienced…”
“Bella I know that. That’s why I haven’t pushed for anything I know you’re not ready for. If you don’t think I want you, then you’re mistaken because believe me I fucking do!” Damon grinned at her. “I move at your pace because I want you. That’s why I asked you to start drinking my blood so that you can transition if something happens. I want you with me. Edward, when he was with you deluded you so much that it really messed you up and it was all a lie, but now everything is different and we both can have something real that no one can take from either of us. Don’t you want this? Me?”
She eyed him, quiet for such a long time as she just stared at him. For a vampire, he found himself becoming uncharacteristically nervous to where he started to fidget. Putting him out of his misery after what felt like an eternity to him, Bella leaned down to kiss his lips in a feather like touch as she whispered, “Yes. I do want you.”
He smiled slightly at her words, reaching up to weave his fingers through her hair. Damon was peculiar in how he held his arm so that his wrist purposely touched over her lips, his eyes drinking her in. “And you’ll drink?”
Bella turned her newly hazel eyes on him and in the moment he did miss her bottomless pools of chocolate. “Yes, but I just can’t from you like that. Not yet. I’m still – ugh… Damon…” Her face turned a slight tinge of green and he remembered how much she hated the smell of blood, even vampire blood. She had tasted his blood before, only to help her heal to avoid a trip to the hospital and it turned her stomach then. He hoped she would get over it when she was changed because she would need it to survive.
“I’ll get some vials from the hospital and you can drink one daily. While I’d personally prefer you to drain me on a regular basis,” he teased, wagging his eyebrows suggestively and earning an exasperated look from her. “A vial a day would be enough. Just make sure you take it regularly – for me?”
“Yes Damon. Every day,” she smiled, turning to get a change of clothes from the closet and hiding the fear on her face as she thought about her conversation with Elena that afternoon.