“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.”
Damon laid Bella’s body down on their bed and looked her over closely for a moment. The bruising and mottling around her neck from the bitch’s hands were already healing was a relief to him, showed that his blood was taking effect and she was officially in transition as he intended for her to be. Leaning over the bed, he pressed his lips to her brow before leaving her side only long enough to get her a change of clothes and fill a wash basin to clean her up. If there was any time he would truly take care of her to the level of sensitivity that he found it difficult to display when she was conscious, now would be the only chance he could care for her the way he truly desired without breaking the walls he put up to everyone else.
With Isabella in even more vulnerable state, his senses were even more sensitive. He could hear Stefan and Elena downstairs moving around as he tried to ask her what she was doing with Bella, why she would turn on them the way she did. Every time he asked her the question, he would only feel the rage build inside him but was forced to quell it down because he had to focus on their newest addition.
He kept his focus on changing Isabella out of her clothes, but a part of him still listened in as Elena refused to say anything until Bella woke to explain everything, knowing that they wouldn’t believe her. A small part of his anger waned at her behavior, unsure of what to make of her confidence that his girl will back and support her when she wakes.
Damon finished dressing her in an outfit he had gotten especially for whenever she would make the transition, though he had hoped it would be some time away yet. Glancing at the time, he hadn’t realized that so many hours had passed that he had sat there staring at her and grew concerned. Evidently he wasn’t the only one with the time, because he could hear Stefan’s footsteps approaching and knocking lightly on the door.
“Come in,” he barely let out after not having said a word since returning to the house. It took everything in him to drag his eyes from her face to look at his brother. “She hasn’t woken yet.”
“She will when she’s ready,” Stefan said as he looked her over cautiously but not daring to get too close. “She healed so we know it worked. It could be the Cold One bite that is making it longer. I was thinking about it this morning after we left for school since their change takes a few days.”
Damon shook his head, pressing the heels of his hands to his eyes not wanting to hear what he said. “She has to drink within a day to complete the transition. We’re already several hours in. She needs to wake soon to drink,” he pointed out, not wanting to let out his emotions.
“She’ll wake up soon. I’m sure of it. She loves you Damon. We all could see it when she looks at you. Don’t doubt her. She won’t give up,” Stefan said as hesitated, causing his brother to look up at him curiously.
“What is it?”
“Well, we didn’t burn the Cold One. Tyler and I finished dismembering him and have him down in the cage in case you or Bella might want to put him back together for some questioning on what the seer might be planning,” he explained, updating him.
Damon nodded, accepting that. It excited him slightly at the thought of the amount of torture he could put the bastard through, causing a smile to form on his lips if barely. “And your bitch of a girlfriend?”
Stefan shrugged. “She swears to her innocence, that it was planned but that she’ll wait for Bella to explain because she knows none of us will believe her. I considered putting her on lock down too but I can’t help but believe her and she hasn’t done anything but sit there waiting. She hasn’t done anything since we got back so I don’t know what to say really.”
Sighing, Damon wasn’t sure what to say either. “Same here,” he muttered. “We got the blood for her?”
“Jeremy is here and willing. Bonnie came by too and donated some of her blood. Bella has a lot of people in her corner,” Stefan smiled at him. Turning his attention back to the subject of conversation, they were quiet for awhile. There was starting to be some changes that weren’t there from before which eased his own concerns even further.. “She’s getting more color.”
“She is, isn’t she?”
“I’ll leave you to tend to her for when she wakes. We’ll be waiting downstairs. I’ll bring up the blood when I hear that she’s ready,” he said as he made his exit before stopping and turning back. “I almost forgot. Bonnie brought this for her. She said you’re welcome and to call her later to let her know how she is doing.” He went back over to the bed and laid the item that he had in his pocket on the comforter before walking out, closing the door quietly behind him.
Damon reached out and picked up the ring and smiled softly at it. It was simply and elegently Bella. It had the lapis lazuli stones but also with a couple small diamonds that made his own heart skip a beat at the implication of the meaning it represented. He silently made a promise to Bonnie to repay her for the ring because he knew he wouldn’t be able to find a better ring to promise himself his heart to her that suited them any better than that piece of jewelry that she had given them.
He looked at the clock on the end table, noticing that it was nearing two in the morning, he breathed out loudly in relief when Isabella finally begun to stir. Raising her hand, he slipped the ring onto the appropriate finger, praying that she would one day truly accept him as his brother claimed she did, he kissed it and caressed her face.
“Come back to me Isabella,” he whispered to her. All discussion and movement that had been going on downstairs had suddenly halted as he knew they strained to listen for them. “Let me see those gorgeous eyes of yours.”
Bella let out a small moan as she scrunched her face, grimacing from the pain as her head throbbed. It felt like she had the world’s largest hangover and she yearned to punch Damon in the face for allowing her to drink so much.
“I’m never going drinking with you again,” she mumbled as she turned over to bury her face in his pillow, earning a low chuckle from him in amusement but it died down as he allowed her to gather her thoughts while her memories slowly returned to her. Sighing, she didn’t move as she began to recall everything. “We didn’t go drinking last night, did we?”
“No Sweetheart,” he said, running his hand comfortingly over her back, trying to sooth her as she pieced things together. “What do you remember?”
She was quiet for a moment before shifting so that she could peek out from under the pillow at him. “Alice. She did this,” she replied, narrowing her eyes, looking at him searchingly for a minute. Sitting up, she looked around. “Where’s Elena? Is she alright? She was dead…”
Damon pursed his lips but didn’t comment immediately. “Elena is fine. She’s downstairs. We don’t stay dead long as long as its not a stake to the heart,” he reminded her.
Bella nodded as she reached up to hold her head with a wince and rubbed at her gums, obviously feeling her fangs beginning to form. “Fucking headache…”
“It’s the transition. You were under for much longer than normal. We need to get you some blood to complete it. I’d rather get it done sooner rather than later because we don’t know how much time you have left because of your little Cold One bite affected the change in some way.”
“I want to see Elena first to see she’s really okay with my own eyes first before anything else,” she insisted, glaring at him.
“Why are you so worried about her? She took you from the school and was ready to hand you over to them! I thought a person would need more than a couple hours to develop Stockholm Syndrome,” he snapped, irritated and confused at her concern for a traitor.
Bella looked back at him incredulously. “Didn’t she tell you what happened? Why we left the way we did?”
“No. I want to hear it from you because right now she’s no better than her ancestor. A lying, double crossing bitch the way I see it so how about you clear it up for me?” Damon questioned, staring at her with his hands on his hips as they squared off against one another.
She glared back at him, considering his history before saying something she knew she would later regret. Grinding her teeth to reign in her emotions that were running wild in her frustration with his clear suspicious nature, though she honestly couldn’t hold it against him. Taking a deep breath to ground herself, she nodded. “Fine. Let’s go downstairs, I’ll see Elena, get me some blood, and we’ll all sit down and talk. Sound fair?”
He glared back at her as she negotiated a reasonable arrangement and hated that she was right. Nodding reluctantly, he gestured for her to go ahead of him as they went down the stairs to join the others that chose to wait for her return to the living.
“Bella!” Caroline exclaimed as she jumped up, running to wrap her in a hug. “I’m so glad you’re okay! We are so going to have to hunt that crazy psycho down for doing this to you but I’m glad you’re going to be with us forever now!”
“Thanks,” Bella smiled slightly, glancing around as she received similar, but to her relief much more subdued hugs and well wishes. After everyone had their say, her eyes searched the room for the main reason for wanting to come downstairs. She found her standing back, away from everyone else. It didn’t pass her attention the way the others were skeptical of Elena and kept their distance from her and it pissed Bella off. “Elena.”
“Bella,” she smiled back sadly. “I’m glad you’re alright. They were worried when it took so long for you to wake up.”
She flashed a glare at the others before making her way over to her, ignoring the objections to stay away and hugged the girl. “I understand. Still, it doesn’t excuse bad behavior against friends. Let’s get me some blood to finish this change and explain why we took off the way we did.”
The two shared a small smile that confused everyone, but Bella couldn’t be bothered by that because suddenly the room was filled with a scent and her head snapped up and zeroed in where Damon stood beside Jeremy as he held a glass under the boy’s hand that dripped with fresh blood.
Elena wrapped her hand around Bella’s arm to hold her back. “It’ll be alright,” she reassured her, trying to keep her away from her brother while Damon got a healthy serving for Bella to get initial edge of her blood lust knocked off before trying her onto the blood bags they had waiting on the table for her. Bella swallowed nervously as she could feel her new fangs beginning to protrude, the veins growing out from her eyes as her face transformed in her thirst.
“Here you go Gorgeous,” Damon said as he handed over her first glass of blood and kissed her cheek lovingly. He stayed close with her as she stared into the glass nervously. “You’ll be just fine. I think you were born for this life already because anyone else would have already tried tearing their way through the room for that little bit after being newly risen as you are.”
Her eyes darted up to his as she searched him to make sure he was being honest, knowing he was never anything but with her. Raising the glass to her lips, she threw it back like a shot of Damon’s bourbon that she had grown fond of. Setting the glass down, he turned her chin up so that he could look into her eyes and smiled at her. “Thank you,” he said, knowing that as much as he wanted to say something else, he wasn’t ready and certainly didn’t want to say it for the first time in front of everyone else. He pressed his lips to her still blood stained ones, kissing her only briefly before pulling over to the sitting area. Licking his lips, he winked over to Jeremy. “Tasty blood you got there!”
“Asshole,” Jeremy replied, shaking his head, amused.
Damon rolled his eyes as he pulled Bella into his arms protectively as Elena slowly followed them over and sat across from them. He continued to glare at her until Bella elbowed him in the gut. “Behave,” she admonished him. “You don’t know the story so you have no right to be rude. None of you do.”
“Alright, so just tell us what we don’t know already because I’m more than just a little annoyed at being left out of the loop on this,” he replied, making a face at her.
“Fine. I’ll tell you why I didn’t tell you the plan that Elena and I discussed not long after I got here, but first I need to start the story before I came. You all know most of it, and Damon – and Stefan and Elena has heard parts of this but hasn’t actuallyexperienced it and I pray they never have to. Before Jake warned me that I needed to leave, I had already had the feeling I would one day need to come here because I knew I would need you Damon. Just a feeling I had from a few dreams. In them, Alice wanted me dead. Edward – he was after me too, but he was always obsessed though for my blood.
“The dreams, they were frequent then, driving my need to do something until Jake gave me the cue that sent me here. Only then did they ease up until something changed that I had a couple really bad ones that startled Stefan and Elena. I’m really sorry for your loss of sleep those nights. When Damon found me in Forks and he hung around to help me, he helped me with some of my dreams so he was familiar with my issues.”
“Yeah and they’re a bitch to get into because of that little quirk in your head,” Damon snorted before looking at his brother. “Did you try walking through one of her dreams when I was out dealing with business?”
Stefan frowned as he looked apologetically at Bella. “Yeah, sorry. I couldn’t get in though. It was the strangest thing really. I know I tend to be weaker from feeding on animals but I never had an issue with the dream walking before.”
“It’s fine. I know that any intrusion like that by you guys isn’t meant to be vindictive and meant to help me so it’s a bit more acceptable. I guess now that I’m changed, I’m hoping they will stop,” Bella sighed.
The brothers exchanged a look as Damon tightened his arms around her fractionally. “I wish I could say they would but as a vampire, and I’m sure that even those Cold corpsicles explained this to you, everything becomes heightened when we change. I hate to say it but it might be better to anticipate them to become stronger and more vivid. Wait and see how they are first. We can ask Bonnie to see if there is something she might be able to do to suppress that gift.”
“Anyway, so one of those dreams were of Edward finding me here in Mystic Falls. Knowing Alice as I believed, she would never be too far away from him in any form, always having some plan of hers in play, a distraction to allow for him to get whatever he wants done. One afternoon, after school while we were getting to know one another, we decided to play it out that we weren’t getting along very well. We didn’t know if Edward or Alice’s gift worked you guys so Elena was the best option that would give a cushion that would delay them long enough to allow you guys to get to me if it became necessary – and it did.
“I thought I was paranoid in school all morning,” Bella started about the day before, looking off thoughtfully. “I saw his crazy coppery hair out of the corner of my eye and whenever I looked again, it was gone. The problem though, since this bite, it always made me feel off in the presence of supernatural. Around you guys, I got used to certain feelings, but there was a new feeling so there was something that I hadn’t felt which to me meant that someone new was around and I needed to run. By the end of the day, when Elena and I were in class, I was positive that it was Edward.”
“She asked me to take her somewhere safe and I figured the tomb would be the best option, hoping that the spell on it might work on their race if they were to go in there after her,” Elena added in. “After I dropped her off there, I came back here to get some of her clothes and a few more vials of Damon’s blood so that I could get them to her to make sure she had extra in her if they did get to her and I couldn’t hold them off.”
Damon was quiet as he thought about the initial false trail that he easily recognized and dismissed. It would have caused him to waste time that he didn’t want to lose. He lowered his head to Bella’s shoulder to kiss it, he sighed as the girls continued their version of events.
“Edward’s gift works on our kind it seems,” Elena scowled, but Damon looked at her confused.
“It didn’t work on me.”
She raised an eyebrow. “It did on me. It was annoying. I did the only thing I could think of and channeled Katherine,” she replied. “That’s when you showed up. I had already had the idea of coming up with some bullshit reason for wanting to get rid of Bella if he went digging in my head. Bella had been working with me on what to think about if I were to run into him so that he would buy the act to give you time to get there. That’s why he was still outside of the tomb.”
He couldn’t deny it anymore. Bella and Elena were one dangerous duo where it came to plotting counter intelligence as he couldn’t have planned it out better. In fact, if they hadn’t done what they did, Bella might very well be off somewhere else as the Sparkle Brigade’s prisoner.
“He probably couldn’t read your mind because you’re older and stronger than he is,” Bella explained. “Your kind gets stronger as you get older, whereas they stay the same, or weaken over time.” She brought his hand up her lips and kissed his daylight ring. That was when she noticed the newest addition on her own hand. Her eyes snapped up to his questioningly. “Damon?”
Damon smirked as he weaved his fingers through hers and pulled her hair back from her neck to kiss her there. “Your daylight ring that Bonnie spelled for you. I promised you forever. What makes you think that you would have it without being able to go out and enjoy the sunshine that you love so much?”
“But…but…? Damon,” she stammered, knowing he was clearly sidestepping her unspoken question, staring at him. She was focused on him so much, needing an answer from him, that they ignored everyone else as they quietly left the room to give them their privacy.
“Forever Isabella,” he repeated.