“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.”
When Damon and Bella finally made their way down to the living room where their friends were gathering again after their break from the excitement of her recent transition, their jovial mood was quickly turned somber at the expression on the witch’s face. He knew he wasn’t going to like whatever she wanted to tell everyone if she was willing to kill their greatly deserved personal time after a visit by the likes of Alice and Edward Cullen.
“What’s the 911 about Witchy?” he questioned as he moved to pour Bella some alcohol and shove it into her hand as he hadn’t missed her extra long glances towards the humans in the room.
Bonnie hesitated as she looked to the new vampire that she’d slowly come to call a friend. “The other Cold One is definitely around. Grams sent me a warning so that we can prepare.”
Damon and Bella exchanged a glance. She was worried about the lives of the people in town and that of their friends, but he was irritated. “Yeah, I was afraid of that. The Whitlock crew are on their way to help, last I talked to them. They were finishing off some of her creations,” he muttered as he took a sip of his drink. “So does Sheila have any spiritual voodoo from the Other Side that will help us banish psychotic, obsessive, she-devil walking statues that seem to have a knack for getting themselves out of trouble?”
“Sounds like she’s got a gift that’s right up your alley,” Stefan murmured from his spot where he had been standing in the back, quietly observing.
The comment had made Bella think about her past history with Victoria deeper, while Damon moved to try to square off with his brother, however Alaric had showed up to intervene. “Just relax, will ya? Tensions are running a little high and considering the circumstances, I think we can lay off for awhile. We have enough to worry about that we don’t need a war among ourselves with a mind reader downstairs,” he pointed out, reminding everyone that there was more than just the one threat going against them.
The guilt that Bella felt grew more and more as she tried hide within the decor and disappear. The seemingly easy life that they had, she interrupted, all on the chance for one man whom she had some familiarity with and once gave her a sense of hope. “I’m sorry for all of this…I should just let her come and take me already. It would get rid of so many problems for all of you…”
Damon had flashed in front of her, looming his entire body over her so that he overwhelmed her new vampire senses. “Don’t you dare speak like that. If you weren’t worth the trouble, wouldn’t you think that any of us would have told you to take a hike a helluva long time ago? Even if any one of these idiots didn’t want you here, I would tell them to fuck off because I promised you that I would be there for you no matter what and I want you. In case you’ve forgotten, I was ready to change you from day one but you’re the one that wanted to wait.”
“I’m not worth you all getting hurt for me,” she insisted as she tried to pull away from him.
Before she could get too far, Damon grabbed her wrist and pulled her outside, barely yelling a “Be right back,” over his shoulder. When he thought they were far enough away from prying ears, he stopped and turned towards Bella.
Looking her over, he started to get pissed. “This self sacrificing, woe-is-me attitude you have going on right now, sucks.”
“I don’t know what you want from me Damon. I can’t change who I am when it comes to worrying about those I care about – just like you can’t change who you are about – I’m not going going to get into this with you now,” she said as she shook her head, trying to pull herself from his hold. “Damon…”
“Don’t ‘Damon’ me, Bella. You need to realize that just because things get a little bad, it doesn’t mean that we’re just going to up and leave you, or that we regret knowing you. We aren’t going to chase you out of town like those pathetic excuses for dogs – who are on my list for an eventual meal one day after we get this shit with these sparkling bastards resolved, but we got you. You are stuck with us – well at least me for eternity. And since I promised my brother an eternity of misery, you’re stuck with him too. And you know what? He likes you! But if he tries to put any moves on you, I’ll do so much worse than stake him, that he’ll be begging me to end his miserable existence for messing with my girl, just like this bitch will be doing soon. I still have some ideas for that pathetic excuse for an ex-boyfriend of yours in my basement.”
She stood there staring up at him, unable to move or barely breathe beyond pulling in the minimally necessary amount of oxygen she needed. In all his angry rambling, she’d rarely seen him grow so emotional with her like he was now. He’d given her pep talks numerous times before, knowing the damage to her self worth caused by the Cullen family and she’d never had anyone push to hold her back from herself.
Taking a slow, deep breath, Bella knew that he was only being honest with her about his feelings, as he had always been. “You cannot expect me to change overnight,” she replied quietly as she looked at him. “It’s not who I am.”
“No. You are so selfless that it’s unbelievably frustrating. You really need to think of yourself more, and in this case, your survival. Don’t worry about us in this. We’ve been through worse than a psychopathic Cold One. Trust me on that Bellisima,” he whispered as he ran his fingers through her hair slowly causing her eyes to drift closed at his touch. “You and I will stick together through this and as far as everyone else is concerned – if they are with us, great. If they choose to leave us, that’s their problem but we will also be out of here and never come back.”
“I thought you wanted to make Stefan’s existence a miserable one,” she smirked.
He couldn’t help but to chuckle at her remembering the story from their meeting and his complaining about his family history. “Okay, so we’ll be back, but only when we know he thinks he’s happy.”
Sighing, Bella shook her head in exasperation with him. “Alright. Let’s deal with Victoria then figure out what Alice is up to. Maybe after all that, we can figure out where you and I go from there,” she said, eying him. There was a very subtle and quick flash of hurt that ghosted across his eyes but if she hadn’t been watching, she would have missed it as it had been so quick.
“Of course,” he replied with a casual shrug and smile as he avoided looking at her. Damon wasn’t one to hide himself if he felt something should be known, so she narrowed her eyes on him for a moment. “What?”
“It’s nothing Bella,” he dismissed as he turned her to start for the house, closing his eyes in avoidance.
“It’s not nothing. You wanted me to talk about my issues so let’s talk about yours. Did I say something wrong?” she asked, biting her lip in her self doubt rising again and making him stop to throw his hands up into his hair. She stared at him as she waited for him to turn to look at her, to say something and could only hear his heavy breathing, indicating that he was struggling to control whatever emotions he was feeling.
Slowly, Damon turned to face her but his eyes were closed and his face lowered towards the ground. “Isabella…” he started before pursing his lips, bringing a hand down and fisting it at his side. He finally looked into her eyes, his blue ones glassy with unshed tears he was holding back. “You are so afraid of being abandoned, of being left behind by your friends you’ve made here, that you still haven’t seen the truth yet. I thought I made it clear to you when you woke up before but obviously I haven’t and still have a lot to prove by you,” he said roughly as he looked her over. “I wasn’t expecting you to jump to this self doubt so soon. I knew it was coming but not the same day that I confessed what I could just hours ago in the living room. So please, forgive me, Bella, if I need a little time to get over the slap to the face you just handed me so that you and I can get back on track to where we were before you decided to go Beric Dondarrion on us.”
Bella swallowed while they stood there staring at one another. Lowering her head, she nodded her acceptance of his request. “I’m sorry,” she whispered.
He let out a slow sigh reaching out to grab her hand, pulling him to her and wrapped his arm around her shoulders. Pressing his lips into her hair, he inhaled her scent into his lungs. “We’ll be okay. Just give it time. Let’s get back and deal with the other psychotic bitch that’s after you.”
She shrugged her shoulder, knowing it was necessary. Guiding her back to the house, everyone was gathered in the living room waiting. Their conversation quieted down as they watched Damon sit her in his chair and go make themselves some drinks. “So what’s the red alert Witchy?” he asked cheerfully, like they hadn’t taken off the way they had.
“Victoria is around. I don’t know how she got here so fast. Be careful when you go out. Grams is having a hard time coming to give us information but said she did notice that she is watching everyone in town trying to find Bella,” she explained.
“Well they are fast, like really fast. I don’t think they need to stop and rest the way um, our kind do,” Bella commented.
Tyler leaned on the back of the couch behind Caroline and looked over at Damon. “Any idea how long much longer until our friends make it here?”
The girl quickly turned to look back to Damon questioningly, fighting against the smile that wanted to emerge at seeing that he was already on his phone waiting for her old friend to answer. “Major. How you doing?” he greeted once the man answered the phone, quickly putting it on speaker.
“Salvatore. We’re just getting out of the airport. How are things going with Bella?” Jasper questioned.
He hadn’t taken his eyes off of her as his lips pulled back in a smirk that had her blushing. “She’s just fine. Part of the undead now thanks to your miserable bitch of an ex-wife, but I can’t say that’s a bad thing personally.”
“Alice got to her? She didn’t take her?” he asked confused as sounds of him and his friends getting into a car filtered through the phone.
“Yeah, we’re not sure about that. Pretty sure she and Carrot Top still have plans for her but we’ll get to that in time. We have another pain in the ass bitch out there that we have to deal with before I have my fun with your former brother that’s well, turning into a brother in my basement.”
A new voice, feminine, sounded confused as it spoke. “What do you mean?”
Tyler and Damon couldn’t help but to snicker while Bella only smiled behind her hand as she leaned on on the arm of the chair. “It would seem that vervain has an interesting effect on Cold Ones’ marble skin,” he replied cryptically. “You’ll see for yourself when you get here.”
“Sounds intriguing. We shall be there soon. Tell Bella I look forward to seeing her. Stay safe in the meanwhile,” Jasper said.
“Yep. You too,” Damon added before hanging up and looked around. “So, we’ll have more Cold Ones hanging around but at least these are allies. Think you can handle yourself Witchy?”
Bonnie and Elena both gave him an exasperated look. “Almost all of my friends are vampires Damon. I think I can tolerate a few more around here as long as they don’t feed on the humans around here.”
“We’re not sure of how they feed,” Stefan commented.
“The humans die. They drain them or they change. It’s one or the other. No in between,” Bella said stiffly, rubbing her wrist that continued to hold her scar from James’ bite. “I don’t know what Jasper feeds on now. He was the newest to the Cullens’ diet when I saw him last and I know nothing about his friends. I can only assume they are human drinkers.”
“We can ask if they have any special diet requirements when they get here. Order take out,” Damon grinned as he threw back a mouthful of his drink. “Which – are we going to be feeding our guest downstairs Bellisima?”
She scowled at him, her lips curling back in distaste at the thought of Edward. She had forgotten about him in the excitement of the news of Victoria’s arrival, being reunited with Jasper, and the lingering issues she held of her insecurities in her relationship with her sire. “He’s been feeding on humans.”
“I’ve noticed. Do you want him to continue with human blood or -”
“Collect some rats and drain them,” she interrupted sharply, causing everyone to raise their eyebrows in surprise. She didn’t miss their curious looks, begging for explanation, especially Stefan. “After the bullshit he spouted that you all were brainwashing me, insisting that I was still in love with him, we’ll feed him but we’ll give him bread and water.”
The brothers watched her as she showed little emotion. While Stefan was concerned for her mental welfare, Damon held her gaze with a pride. He knew she needed a little bit of this darkness in her to get over the damage they caused her over the years. It could always be worse if she went and flipped the switch. “We’ll send Steffie out to trap some vermin when the Major gets here. Should only be an hour or so if he’s flooring it,” he smiled.
“Great. Are you going to get some volunteers to be their meals while they are helping out?” she asked.
“No – maybe. Look, there are options. Just wait and see what they want to do when they get here. Who knows. Maybe they still eat the big game that they did in Forks? Just wait and see what they want to do when they get here and let them have a say in their choices,” he said firmly, his eyes widening slightly in warning on what she just might say.
Bella stared back at him, blinking as she understood what he was trying to get her to understand. Closing her eyes, she turned away from looking at anyone. She had tried taking Damon’s decision in their future together because of her not believing he would actually want her, then she was deciding Edward’s diet while they held him prisoner. She was close to doing the same for Jasper. All after she had her choices stolen from her.
As it was, Damon was controlling much of her actions on her behalf because of Alice, and as much as she knew that he was well aware of what her preferences were compared to what Edward once did, it was still bothering her and the new vampire emotions were bringing that animosity out more. But the awareness of her actions seemed to bring out a darkness in her eyes that he recognized. He made his way over to her with a glass of bourbon and turned her face to look up at him. “We’re in this together Bellisima,” he said as he handed her the glass and she knew that he had her back completely.