Author’s Note: I do not own Twilight or The Vampire Diaries. They are the copyrights of their respective owners. I just like to play with the characters.
Edward ran his hand through his hair and took a step forward, dismay written all over his face as he asked in a crisp tone, “Who is this?” His eyes landed on Bella, boring into hers, demanding an answer.
Bella returned his gaze and simply said in a formal, but nonchalant tone, “This is Damon.”
A few days ago she would have been intimidated by the way the vampire stood rigid, hands on his hips, his golden eyes glittering with disgust, annoyance and a hint of anger. Edward did a good job at hiding the anger, but as always, Bella was observant enough to notice it. Though she had never been afraid of him, even when he kept insisting how dangerous he was.
The very thought of Edward even being considered dangerous made her snort mentally. Yes, he had super strength, speed and agility. Yes, he was a vampire, and yes he could be lethal if he wanted to be. Yet, he wasn’t. At the first sign of any trouble, he had scooped her up in his arms and run off like a scared little dog with its tail between his legs.
Bella knew vampires, and knew them very well, and that was not normal behavior for a vampire, at least not the ones she knew. She smiled slightly as she imagined what Damon would have done to the three nomads if he had been there. He would never avoid a confrontation and always protects the ones he cares about with a reckless abandon. She pictured the scene of James referring to her as a snack and Damon tossing a snarky comment his way before ripping his head off. All the while, that ever present smirk would be on his face.
She let a small snicker escape her lips as she wiggled out of Damon’s lap and stood up. He quirked an eyebrow at her in question as his lips twitched in amusement. She shook her head and faced Edward. No, she would not be intimidated.
Damon quickly stood up, placed Bella slightly behind him and offered his hand as he introduced himself. “Damon Salvatore, and you are?” He tilted his head slightly to the side as he awaited an answer.
Edward ignored the hand, stood straighter and let out an irritated sigh. “I’m Edward Cullen, Bella’s boyfriend.” Edward glanced over to Bella as she snorted. Perplexed by her behavior, he commented, “That is not exactly lady like, Bella. Please don’t do that.”
Bella snorted again and walked up to Edward, trying desperately to ignore Damon’s amused chuckle. She folded her arms across her chest and looked him straight in the eye. “Boyfriend, Edward? You’ve got to be kidding me! You spent weeks ignoring me for the most part and then decided to play little mind games with me. You take me to a meadow in the middle of nowhere and tell me how dangerous you are, and then give me a half-assed kiss on the lips. Then you bring me to your family’s house so you guys can show off your vampy skills and then you ran away like a scared little boy when some vampires showed up, wanting to eat me. Tell me, in what universe does all that equal boyfriend, hmm??”
Edward pinched the bridge of his nose. “Bella, I told you that you were my life! Does that not mean anything to you?” He lets out an exasperated sigh and meets her eyes. “I have felt something for you since the moment I saw you walk into the cafeteria.”
Damon scoffed, “Oh I’m sure you felt something, Sparkles…”
Bella turned quickly to Damon, a small smile gracing her face and held up one finger. “Don’t start, D.”
Brushing her warning aside, he smirked and looked Edward’s way. “So…. Did what you feel hit you in the throat or did it stir little Eddie up?”
Edward’s eyes briefly flashed to black in anger as he took a step in Bella’s direction. “You told HIM about us?” He spat. “It wasn’t your secret to tell!!”
Damon quickly stood in front of her to block Edward from getting any closer. “Back off, Glitter Boy! I already knew about Cold Ones, Belle didn’t have to tell me anything! Maybe you can enlighten me on the fact a tracker was after her… Hmm? Maybe you can tell me why the fuck you weren’t protecting her?”
Edward took a step back, fearful of the anger and power he felt radiating from the black haired male in front of him. He had begun to wonder if the man was actually human or not. Taking a brief look around, he noticed James’ body parts scattered throughout the room. Holding back a gasp of horror, he looked to Damon astonished. “What are you?”
Damon smirked. “What am I? You mean to tell me that you don’t know?” He turned slightly to look at Bella, “You never told him about our little band of misfits back home?” Bella remained quiet, and just shook her head no in response.
Damon reached behind him, pulling Bella closer to him. Edward cocked an eyebrow, and Damon’s lips twitched in amusement at Edward’s impatience. “What I am, is a vampire.”
Edward sneered, “You’re a vampire?” After shaking his head in disbelief as Damon carefully watched his movements, his head snapped to look at Bella. Realizing that Damon was absolutely serious, he snarled out, “Get away from him, Bella!”
He dodged around Damon and reached for Bella’s hand, tugging on it a bit too forcibly. Bella yelped out in pain and that was all Damon needed to spring into action.
Suddenly she found her hand free of Edward’s grasp and looked around, spotting Edward face down on the floor with his arm twisted behind his back, Damon holding it in place. “You hurt her again, Sparkles, and I will rip your arm off, and shove it so far down your throat it’ll come out where the sun doesn’t shine… Got it?”
Edward struggled to break free of Damon’s hold, not realizing the strength of the vampire holding him down. Damon chuckled darkly, enjoying Edward’s feeble attempts. “You’re no match for me, so stop trying. I am older, stronger and have more tricks up my sleeve than you can imagine.”
Bella smirked at that. That is the Damon she had become friends with. The Damon she had slowly fell in love with during her visits to Mystic Falls. A vampire that is all heart, protecting the ones he cares about, and the only being that she knew of that couldn’t resist tossing a quip at his opponent. He was far more interesting than Edward Cullen would ever hope to be. She briefly flinched at the thought of even having one iota of interest in him. She had yet to understand how he had managed to worm his way into her life.
Before Bella could get too lost in her thoughts, she heard footsteps against the studio’s wood floor and turning in that direction she saw that the Cullen’s had arrived. Carlisle and Esme, the so-called mother and father of the ‘family’ looked on in shock at the scene before them. Damon looked up briefly at the group of Cold Ones as they gathered in the room. His eyes glistened with anger briefly as he took in each one. His lips pursed before he huffed out, “I suppose you’re the bunch that put Belle in the predicament with the tracker over there.” He then nodded over to where the mess of scattered limbs lay.
Carlisle’s eyes widened even further as he looked at the macabre scene on the other side of the studio. “I suppose you took care of that?” He asked tersely.
Before Damon could answer, Alice’s shrill voice broke out into the room. “Bella!”
She squealed as she run to the human girl and embraced her in a hug. “We were so worried about you!! I lost my vision! Everything went black!!”
Bella stepped out of Alice’s embrace with a sense of puzzlement. Alice’s visions were based on decisions and she knew Alice would lose her because she had consciously stopped making decisions once Jasper, Alice and herself had run from Forks to Phoenix. For my safety, she thought, what a crock of shit that was. But why was it everything went totally black? Did Damon’s presence affect her visions, perhaps? Surely, she would been able to see James, if little else. She licked her lips as she got lost in thought.
Damon cocked his ear to the side at the mention of the word ‘visions’ and gazed at Cold One in question with a sneer that would make the devil himself shudder. He roughly let go of Edward and walked over to Belle and gently pulled her behind him, somewhat shielding her from the group of Cold Ones. He took Bella’s hand to ground himself before his eyes turned cold, glinting like ice as the sunlight hit them. “You mean to tell me that you’re a seer? YOU didn’t see the tracker come after her, you didn’t see him attack her and attempt to bite her?” His anger rose with each word as he spoke and by the time he was done a growl had left his lips.
Edward cautiously made his way to the group and with a petulant look, he spoke. “I can’t read his thoughts, either.” With a childish pout he added, “I don’t understand why-”
He was cut off by Alice who abruptly blurted out, “Just who exactly are you?” she asked, her golden eyes sharply eyeing the interlaced hands of Damon and Bella, then glancing furiously at the one in question.
Damon stood all smug at the thought of Edward’s ability not working on him. It was one of the benefits of being an older vampire, part of the Original bloodline, a true vampire. Cold Ones were inferior beings, their pathetic little talents would never work on a vampire such as himself. He smirked and looked at Alice, a gleam in his eye. “Well ten minutes ago, my tongue was down Belle’s throat, so I guess you could say I’m her boyfriend.” That was met with a chorus of gasps and snickers. Bella blushed as she smiled up at him.
With an expression of pure disapproval, Alice looked at Bella. “You kissed him! Bella! How could you?! What about Edward!”
Taken back by Alice’s demeanor, Bella took a breath to calm herself, “What about Edward, Alice?”
“You love him, Bella!”
Exasperated, Bella replied, “Love? I am not in love with Edward, Alice! What would ever give you that idea?”
Alice then leans forward, causing Damon to push Bella further behind him. He can’t help thinking that something is not quite adding up here, and all his instincts are driving him to get Bella away from this group of Cold Ones. What kind of game were they playing with his sweet Belle?
“I saw you with Edward! You were one of us!”
Bella cut her off abruptly, “And how exactly did you see that, Alice? I thought your visions were based on decisions. You know what that tells me? That tells me someone decided to bite me. Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but you had that vision before today, didn’t you?”
When Alice’s eyes widened and she was reluctant to answer, Bella’s eyes flashed with anger as she answered for her, “You did.” Bella shakes her head in disbelief. “Was it Edward? It had to be! My blood sings to him!” her anger becomes more apparent with each word spoken. They were interrupted when Edward approached her and Damon, his expression wary.
“Bella, you must know that I would never hurt you. Yes, you are my singer and your blood calls to me like no other. That first day in biology, I had thoughts of killing you, I won’t deny that. As the time went by, I found myself falling for you, so I came into your room each night to get used to your scent so that I could be safely around you, and get to know the girl that captured my heart. Love, you are my mate, my life…”
Bells silently fumed more and more with each word he spoke. Stepping out from behind Damon, she stood before the Cold One. “Wait a minute…You snuck into my room? What kind of perverted shit is that? You mean to tell me that you couldn’t get used to my scent at school? You went into my fucking room without permission, invading MY privacy so you could get used to my scent? How dare you!” Her fury laced each word she spoke as she stood there, her fists balled by her side.
“You–are pathetic,” she spat out. “Do not ever call me ‘love’. Do not ever speak to me again. You disgust me.” Taking a look around the room she sneered at the group. “What was I? A little human for you to play with?” Spinning around, she looked at Damon, needing his support.
She immediately calmed as he pulled her to him, her back against his chest and his arms wrapped protectively around her. She sighed as something niggled in her mind. Just how much has Alice seen in her visions and how much has she used them to manipulate her so Edward could win her over? Did Alice see the nomads before they came? If she did, why did she not say anything? Things were not adding up, and her mind was racing, with one question after the other. She watched the group of Cold Ones carefully, making eye contact with each one.
Unbeknownst to her, Damon’s eyes glistened like ice behind her as he took in the beings around him. He observed the expressions they wore. Most of them seem to be in shock, or disturbed by the sudden revelations. Alice and Edward, however looked guilty and forlorn. He would have been willing to bet his Camaro that Belle’s assumptions had been correct; she had been a play thing for the little pixie seer and the carrot-top mind reader. The question was, why? Was her blood the prize or did Edward foolishly think he was truly in love with the girl? Damon fumed as he thought of what they have been doing to her. It was the same bullshit Katherine had done to him and Stefan so long ago. They played game, a very sick one, at that. An uncomfortable silence filled the room, no one willing to say anything.
Carlisle finally stepped forward and addressed Damon in a formal tone. “I’m Carlisle Cullen, Alice and Edward’s father. I must apologize for my son’s actions. I can assure you that we never meant to bring Bella any harm. We were under the impression that Bella here is Edward’s mate. Otherwise, I would have never encouraged Edward to pursue her romantically. Would you please introduce yourself with a name?”
Damon’s body tensed as he eyed the older Cold One. “Father?” he questioned, His eyebrow raised, “Why don’t you call yourself what you really are? I doubt these so called kids are actually yours, so that means you’re a coven leader.” He sneered the word coven, as if it left a bad taste in his mouth. Sensing how tense Damon was getting, Bella squeezed his hand gently and his body relaxed instantly, his face softening as he looked down at her. He winked and turned back to Carlisle. “I’m Damon Salvatore.”
Edward and butted in, “He says he’s a vampire.”
Carlisle nodded. “Ah, yes, he is, Edward. I myself have never had the opportunity to meet one personally, but during my time in Italy, I researched the Original species. Unfortunately, not a whole lot of information can be determined as accurate because the lines between myths and fact somehow got blurred.”
There was only one being in the vampire world with enough power to interchange fact and fiction like that. That being was a hybrid, and his name crossed the minds of both Damon and Bella in unison. Klaus Mikaelson, they thought, one of the very first vampires, and part of a whole family of them that were created by magic. Bella shuddered at the very thought of his name as Damon frowned.
Damon spoke up, “Well yes, Carlisle, it is rather unfortunate…” That was all he’d say in the matter. The Cold Ones didn’t need to know about their species. As far as he was concerned, the less they knew, the better. He shrugged nonchalantly.
Emmett Cullen, the large teddy bear of a man then broke the awkward silence that again seemed to fill the air, “How is it you don’t sparkle?” Damon smirked as he looked at the burly guy, “Vampires don’t sparkle, Hercules , they burn in the sun.”
Emmett looked taken aback. “But you…Don’t…Bu-How?”
Damon let out a chuckle as he shook his head, and wagging a finger at Emmett he said, “Nuh uh! That’s for me to know and for you to dot, dot, dot.”
Bella simply could not help herself and let out a giggle. Damon looked down on her amused as she returned his gaze, a sheepish expression on her face.
Edward eyed the two, noticing how her eyes sparkled at the vampire. He pursed his lips bitterly, biting back a growl as he bluntly asked, “Just how is it you know Bella?”
Damon turned his head to Edward, his expression cold and hard. “Why the hell is that any of your business?”
“I think I have a right to know!” he nearly shouted indignantly.
It was Bella who spoke up then, “No. Actually, you don’t.” her voice soft yet, firm.
She had meant what she said earlier. Edward Cullen disgusted her and she shuddered at the thought of ever finding him even remotely attractive. Seeing him in the sunlit ballet studio was like putting a spotlight on who he actually was; a spoiled little boy that manipulated people into doing what he wanted. She saw a very insecure teenager who never had to grow up. Someone who had been pampered and spoiled in both his human life and his vampire life. She saw the façade of a vampire who pretended to be good, a vampire that tried to live a human existence, never accepting what he was. Her anger begun to build as she stared at him and her mind went back to her earlier question…How much have they played her?
Bella felt Damon squeeze her hand and she looked up into his eyes. “I want to leave. Can we just go?” she nervously pleaded. Damon nodded and wrapped his arm around her waist, leading her to the door way.
“Bella! Please wait…”
She turned her head at the sound of the voice. It was Jasper, Alice’s husband. “We must decide what to do about Victoria, she was James’ mate.”
Damon cocked his head to the side, “Victoria?” he questioned.
Bella quickly explained, “I was with the Cullens in a field, watching them play baseball when three nomads appeared. It was Laurent, Victoria, and James.” She gestured to what was left of him scattered across the floor. They asked to join the game, and James caught a whiff of my scent, referring to me as a snack. That made Edward go all defensive, only egging James on more. As you figured out, he was a tracker, so Alice and Jasper brought me here, thinking I’d be safe, while everyone else stayed behind to hunt down James. Obviously, he found out where I was and contacted me, telling me he had my mother. I agreed to meet him here if he let my mother go. You know the rest…”
Damon’s expression was incredulous. “Let me get this straight…The tracker over there threatened to eat Belle, you out numbered his little group and you ran? Why?”
Carlisle spoke. “We are not a violent family; we like to resolve things peacefully-”
Damon cut him off. “That kind of thinking will get you killed! You just as well put a target on Belle. Do you know what a vampire in love will do to get vengeance? He snarled when he got no response. “Do you?!” His question was met with silence. He let out a humorless laugh, “She will stop at nothing to avenge her dearly departed! Nothing!”
Carlisle was stunned by Damon’s outburst. He stood there, his mouth parted to speak, and yet nothing came out. Edward joined in on the conversation then, “I did not hear anything in their minds about their relationship. I do not think they are mates; companions would be more of an apt description.”
Damon’s lips pursed as he shook his head furiously, “Just because you didn’t hear it in either one of their minds doesn’t mean anything, Ginger. Your mind reading does not mean you know everything, does it?”
Edward snarled in response, “My mind reading has helped keep my family safe many times…”
Damon chuckled. “And getting rid of a dangerous opponent when I had the chance has saved my ass many times. You can’t walk this earth with enemies chasing you.”
Edward stomped his foot and balled his hands into fists. “You kill people!!”
Damon rolled his eyes, “People, vamps, werewolves, hybrids, witches… I kill them before they kill me… Makes my life so much easier… Now! I want to hear what Scarface over here was saying…” He turned back to Jasper, who eyed him with a small smirk and inclined his head.
“Tell me how you know they are mates.” Damon demanded.
“He’s an empath.” Bella quietly stated. “He can feel and manipulate emotions.”
Jasper smiled at Bella. “Bella is right, I am an empath. I could feel the emotions between Victoria and James. He wasn’t in love with her, but what she felt for him was love and utter devotion. They both gave off emotions of hunger, malice, greed and they were excited for the hunt.” He eyes look pointedly towards Bella, “With James is destroyed, she’ll likely go after Bella.”
“We can keep an eye out and protect Bella.” Carlisle stated.
Damon whipped his head and glared at him. “She doesn’t need protection from you lot! I’ll take her home with me and I will protect her!”
Edward marched forward and grabbed Damon’s jacket. “She is MY mate, my responsibility!”
Damon gently pushed Bella back and then smacked Edwards hand off him. “She is not your damn mate, boy! Get that in your head! Besides, you guys failed her already! I saved her! If I had not gotten here, she’d be dead! Dead! In what world do you think you’d be able to protect her from a vampire hell bent on revenge? Huh?” The two stood toe to toe, both radiating anger.
An eerie sense of calm suddenly fills the room and everyone looks at Jasper. “Look, arguing is not going to solve anything.” The empath stated. “We need to figure out what to do, and we need to do it now!”
“While I appreciate the offer of protection, I don’t trust any of you. I’ll go home with Damon, he will keep me safe from Victoria.” Bella said quietly as she looked around the room.
“‘How can you trust him, Bella!?” Edward shouted.
“I trust him because I have known him for two years, Edward! Two years, and he has kept me safe whenever I visited my family! He has saved my life and other people’s lives on more than one occasion! He has never played games with me or lied to me either! You all have been less than honest with me and you expect me to trust you?” She scoffed and looked around the room, “I don’t think so!”
“It’s not like you are a little miss innocent human either, Bella” Rosalie sneered, “You knew about vampires yet pretended you never knew about us.”
Bella calmly looked her way. ‘I didn’t know about Cold Ones,” she clarified, her voice like ice, “What I know or didn’t know is not anyone’s business but my own.”
“You never mentioned Damon!” Edward sneered.
Bella’s eyes narrowed into slits. “I told you about my grandma in Virginia and how my friends were there for me when she died and how I would not have been able to cope without them! Damon was one of them!”
“Friend? From the looks of things when I walked in the room, he was certainly more than just a friend!” Edward shouted venomously.
“I don’t owe you an explanation for what Damon and I were doing! I told you earlier, you are not my boyfriend! You are nothing more than a stalker! Just how many times do I have to tell you that you disgust me?”
Bella wasn’t going to let him put her down, and she would not let him judge her. Least of all, she wasn’t going to let him walk all over her like a doormat. “‘Now, we have to figure out what the hell to do with Victoria.”
Damon took her hand in his own to sooth her, and she inhaled deeply, reveling in his touch and taking comfort from it. He spoke then, “Your kind can be put back together, am I right?” Carlisle and Jasper both nodded in answer to his question. “Well then, I say we put him back together, and then we’ll have no worries about this Victoria… What do you think, Belle?”
She smiled, “That could work… Do you think you’d be able to compel him to forget about me?” He smirked and nodded.
“Compel?” Alice’s shrill voice asked in a tone of utter confusion.
Bella sighed, ‘Yes Alice, Compulsion… It’s sort of like dazzling, except the vampire can actually get in your head and control you, make you do whatever he wants. Dazzling is more of a persuasion technique.”
Edward let out a sigh and mumbled, “That probably doesn’t work on you either…”
Bella smiled a secret smile as she fingered the charm on her bracelet. It was a black crow and it was filled with Vervain. It had been given to her by Damon the summer before last so she would be protected from vampires and their compulsion. Her smile got slightly wider as she realized it was also the reason she could not be dazzled or that Edward could not get inside her head.
She brushed her fingers against the white swan next to it. Maybe it’s a sign, she thought, Could he have felt the same way I feel about him and not realize it until now? She would never admit this to anyone, but her feelings for the black haired vampire had always teetered over the edge of just friendship.
Other than the girls she grew up with, Damon was her first real friend, and the first guy she had had any feelings for. She saw him for what he was, a man with passion, and honor, a man who was all heart behind the bad ass attitude. Regardless of what he thought or the things he did, there was good in Damon Salvatore.
Of course, those observations of him didn’t stop her from letting him know exactly what she thought whenever he screwed up. He would never say he was sorry for the things he did because he usually had good reason for doing them, but he was man enough to own up to his mistakes and earn forgiveness. That was one of the things she admired about him. And that kiss… It was the best kiss of her life…
She was brought out of her thoughts by someone calling her name. “Belle?” Damon softly asked as he squeezed her hand and gently nudged her shoulder. “You need to let go, so that we can get this done and get out of here.” She slowly came back to her present surroundings and nodded absently. He quirked an eyebrow and took her face in his hands, concern lacing his features. “Belle,” he spoke gently, “It will be fine, I promise you. He will never bother you again.”
She smiled and rested her hands on top of his. “I know, Damon. It’s not that I’m worried about…” They look at each other for a moment. Damon knew what was on her mind, Belle was always one to overthink things. Knowing her, she’s been replaying their relationship in her head and trying to figure out the meaning of that kiss. He wanted to pull her in her arms to comfort her and reassure her, and he sure as hell wouldn’t mind kissing her again, but he wasn’t in the mood to deal with the reactions of an emo Cold One and his coven.
Bella reluctantly let go and nodded. He kissed her temple and walked off, heading towards the mess of limbs that was James, Carlisle and Jasper following him. Alice glanced at Edward and he tilted his head as if to answer a silent question then approached Bella.
Bella had not missed the exchange between the two. She had often noticed that the two had silent conversations when they didn’t want her to know about something. Sensing they were up to something, she turned on her heel and walked away from the group Just as Edward was about to speak. Yes, she knew it was rude, but she couldn’t bring herself to care.
She looked over her shoulder when she heard a scuffling behind her and almost giggled at what she saw. Both Edward and Alice were being held back by Emmett, both of them struggling to get free. It reminded her of two kids who got caught fighting at a playground. Realizing he was holding them back so they’d leave her alone, she smiled and winked, which he returned with a wink of his own.
She leaned against the wall, watching curiously as Jasper and Carlisle put the tracker back together, finding it fascinating yet disgusting. His limbs were dripping in venom and they used it as a glue to help attach his limbs back on his body. She couldn’t help thinking it was like the Cold One version of Mr. Potato Head. She snorted at her own thought and Damon glanced her way as he stood off to the side. She shook her head and giggled.
Once James was put together and aware of his surroundings, he snarled and cast a menacing glare at her. In a flash he had broken free from the restraining hands of Jasper and Carlisle and blurred her way. Her heart thumped hard against her chest; she half expected it to jump out of her body as she screamed and braced herself against the wall, waiting for some sort of impact or a bite. It never came… Damon had interceded, throwing him into one of the mirrored walls.
Damon angrily marched over to James, yanked him up like a rag doll, and slammed him against the wall. “You will not move, you even blink and I will fucking rip you apart, light a match, watch you turn to ash, then I will hunt down your little Vicki and make her life hell before I kill her. You got it, dumbass?”
James’ eyes went wide with fright, “You… You’re a vampire?”
Damon smirked, “Not as dumb as you look. Now, look at me.”
His eyes dilated as he started his compulsion, “You will leave Isabella Swan alone. You will not want her or her blood. Do not allow Victoria to come after her, you will kill her if she even suggests it. Now, you will walk calmly out of this building and never look back. Repeat it back to me.”
James repeated the words back in a monotone and satisfied that the compulsion worked, Damon released him and kept a steady eye on him as he slowly walked out of the room. The Cullens were all stunned into silence after witnessing the act of compulsion. None of them had ever seen anything like it, it made their dazzling ability look like a parlor trick. Aware of just how powerful a vampire he was, most of them held a collective hope that Edward would now just leave Bella be. It was rather obvious that Damon cared about the brunette and would stop at nothing to protect her.
Bella took a few tentative steps towards Damon, a sense of relief washed over her now that the tracker had been taken care of. She would not have to worry that someone would come after her and she smiled gratefully at her savior, who had blurred to her and took her in his arms. “You’re safe, Belle,” he whispered in her ear, “Nothing will ever harm you again. I won’t allow it.”
Tears welled up in her eyes as she looked at him. “Thank you, Damon,” Her voice trembled on the words and her lips quivered. She kissed him on the cheek and embraced him, holding him to her. He run his fingers through her hair and then stepped out of the embrace. “Let’s get out of here!”
He smiles and looks at her, “We got things to do, things to talk about and honestly, I wouldn’t mind another kiss…”
She blushed as she giggled, smacking his arm. “Damon!” she exclaimed and looks up at him smiling. He mock glared at her and chuckled.
“What?” he playfully asks. His eyes dance with amusement and Bella almost gets lost in them as she looks at him.
A throat is cleared, interrupting their conversation and pulling them out of their happy moment. They both turned to the sound and upon realizing it was Edward, both wore matching looks of disgust as they scowled at him.
“Yes, Edward?” Bella asked in a tone that was less than friendly.
Edward stood straight, obviously trying to show an air of confidence. “We are going to head back to Forks, you should come with us.”
Bella bit her lip, trying not to laugh in his face at his stupidity. Did he honestly think she would go back with them? “Edward, it may have escaped your notice, but I do have a way to get home. She gestured to Damon, “I am sure Damon will be more than glad to take me back to Forks.”
She made eye contact with each Cold One in the room. “I do appreciate everything each of you did to keep me safe from James. We haven’t known each other very long, but I did enjoy getting to know some of you. That said, I don’t wish to have further contact with any of you. So this is where I say goodbye and we part our separate ways.” She turned her gaze onto Edward. “Do not ever sneak into my room ever again! If you do there will be consequences… Understand?”
Edward pursed his lips in anger and nodded once. “Good.” Bella said, her voice firm.
With that, Bella led Damon out of the studio and into the harsh Phoenix sun. The heat was sweltering as they stood on the sidewalk. Damon took Bella’s hand, interlacing her fingers with his own as his mind drifted back to the kiss, the blood sharing and the feelings that he felt. He wasn’t sure what to make of it, but somehow he knew whatever it was felt right. He wanted to talk to Belle, to see what she thought of what had happened between them.
He knew that she had felt the current run through them and his mind wondered what that meant. She had also returned the kiss and willingly participated in the blood sharing. Was it possible that his sweet little Belle had feelings for him and had kept them so well hidden that no one knew?
He recalled all the times that she had never judged him, and how she had always been there for him when he needed someone. How she had defended him when her friends would berate her for being his friend and try to turn her against him. Even though he had often thought that hope was a bitch, he could feel it start to grow in his heart and in his thoughts. Maybe for once, hope was a good thing.
They walked a good couple blocks, each lost in thought and sneaking glances at one another. Then Bella’s stomach let out a fierce growl, making Damon chuckle and guide her to a nearby taco stand. “You need to eat, princess.”
She smiled softly as she looked down and blushed. It had been so long since he had called her that. She could hear the echoes of the past calling her in a mocking tone; “Princess Belle,” he would say. She had hated the nickname at first because he had always made fun of her innocence and her ability to see the good in everyone and everything. Over time, the mocking had stopped and he had started calling her Belle as a term of endearment.
She quickly placed the order of food for herself and Damon. Once the food was ready, they made their way to a nearby picnic table. Bella had just unwrapped her taco and took her first bite, when Damon uttered the words, “We need to talk.”
She gasped as she nearly choked on her food. How could four short words make her so nervous and cause a million butterflies to go off in her stomach? She forced the food down her throat and looked at him, her heart beating furiously.
Brown eyes met blue ones as he then said, “About that kiss…” His eyes danced with amusement and his lips twitched into a smile. All Bella could do was simply stare at him, speechless.
She took a deep breath to calm herself down and breathed out, “What about it?” She knew Damon could hear her heart pounding and the smirk on his face confirmed it.
Damon’s eyebrows wiggled suggestively, “I liked it.”
Bella sighs, leaning forward, and in a teasing tone tells him, “I know, I could… tell just how much you liked it.”
She sits up straight once again and picks at her taco thinking of all the questions in her mind. What was Damon doing in Phoenix? What about that kiss? Her thoughts race with one question after another until her they came to a halt with one last question. What about Elena?
Her friend’s name echoed in her head. She knew that he had feelings for Elena and harbored a lot of resentment towards his brother because she constantly put Stefan on a pedestal while she would often put Damon down and overlook him for the man that he was. All she could ever see was the ‘big bad vampire.’
Damon was the only thing she and Elena had ever fought about. Elena had often tried to persuade her to stay away from him, insisting that he was no good, but the more Elena pushed her to stay away from him, the more she fought to be his friend.
No one saw what she did and she would never turn her back on a friend because they had made a mistake. Even though he may have feelings for Elena, it was her that he had just kissed. And she knew that Damon didn’t do anything he didn’t want to do… So did this mean he felt something for her? She shook her head, clearing her thoughts.
During her inner monologue, Damon had been watching her carefully, reading her expressions, and waiting for her to say something and finally Bella licked her lips and blurted out the last thought in her head, “What about Elena?”
Damon’s icy blue eyes looked at her, confused. “What about Elena?”
She looked down, not meeting his eyes. “You’re in love with her.”
Damon reached over the table and cupped her chin, making her look at him. He slowly shook his head no. “I thought I was in love with her. It was a misplaced notion, Belle. I don’t know what this is between you and me, but I know it beats whatever it was I felt for Elena. Something happened between us back there at that studio and I know you felt it, too. When I kissed you, I realized then and there that you are everything I ever wanted and more. In the past two years, you were always one of the most important people in my life; sometimes you were the only person in my life. You understand me better than anyone, Belle, and you are the only one that accepts me for who I am. When Elena chose Stefan, I left Mystic Falls wanting nothing more than to see you. I needed my best friend more than anything and then seeing that tracker attack you like he did woke up something inside me. I realized then, that if something happened to you, I would be so lost. You have been the light that guided me out of the darkness. I am so sorry that it took me so long to see it. It has always been you that I needed and I didn’t know it. I don’t know what this is or where it will go, but I want it and I want you, just you.”
Bella took in a breath. Her eyes had watered up as she heard what Damon had to say and she attempted to speak more than once, trying to find the right words that matched what she was thinking and feeling. Never in a million years would she ever expect Damon to say anything of the sort to her. After a few moments, she finally gathered herself together and one thought, the most important one of all, the one she felt with her whole heart, tumbled from her lips, “I…want…you. I want this, Damon! Whatever it is, we’ll figure it out together.”
Damon smiled broadly, his eyes full of joy as he grasped her hand. He brought it up to his lips and gently kissed her knuckles. He heard her stomach growl once again, and with a teasing tone he commented, “Now that we have that figured out, you need to eat..”
The two sat talking as they ate the greasy Mexican food and caught up on the past five months of their lives. Damon wanted to know every single detail of her life. He was rather dismayed at the reason as to why she moved to Forks. To him, Renee’s happiness should not have been more important than Belle’s own and he couldn’t help himself as he remarked on it, “Belle, you are so selfless, putting other people’s needs before your own, and it’s one of the things I love about you, but it needs to stop. You’re seventeen, you spent your whole life taking care of Renee. It’s time to think about what you want, what you need and you have to go and get it.”
Bella was quiet for a few moments, letting Damon’s words sink in. She looked at him with a meaningful smile, “Well, it seems to me that I have everything that I could possibly want.”
He returned her smile with a smirk and nodded. He could say the same for himself, but wasn’t quite ready to tell her that.
He listened as she continued her story of meeting Edward and the Cullens, and as he listened, Bella’s theory of being manipulated made sense. From what Belle had told him and what he had witnessed of Edward’s demeanor, the boy was a stalker and he quickly deduced that what he felt for Belle was not love, but an obsession. He wasn’t sure exactly if the obsession was for Belle’s blood or if he had wanted a pet to manipulate and control. He knew one thing though, Edward Cullen would never have her, he would see to that. He didn’t know what the future held, but he was certain now that Belle was meant for him and no one else.
The two sat for hours, just talking and enjoying each other’s company. Eventually Damon had moved to her side of the table and she had leaned back against him, his arms wrapped protectively around her. The sun was setting and they sat quietly, just enjoying the moment together, both relishing in the fact that the other was near.
The moment was ruined when the theme song from “Cops” started playing from Damon’s phone and Bella looked at him incredulously. “You still have that for Charlie’s ring tone?” she shrieked out. Damon’s snigger was his reply and she just rolled her eyes.
She listened intently as Damon talked with her father. She wasn’t too surprised that he would call Damon, looking for her. Charlie knew how close they were and had probably figured she’d go to Damon if she needed a friend. Her heart ached at how worried he had been about her and she felt incredibly guilty about the way she had left Forks when she had fled off to Phoenix.
Damon had given him a short run down of what happened and then handed the phone to Belle. The relief in Charlie’s voice was palpable as he heard the voice of his only daughter on the phone and she found herself with tears in her eyes as she profusely apologized for her fake tantrum and the hurtful words she said as she walked out the door in Forks.
She felt her father was gracious in accepting the apologies and she had smiled while he told her that he placed no blame on her, but on the Cullens. He had then told her to hurry up, come home and they would talk more when she arrived. She smiled slyly when he had told her to stick close to Damon, that he would keep her safe. She already knew Charlie liked Damon, but briefly wondered if he’d approve of him as boyfriend material.
After ending the call with Charlie, she looked around and noticed Damon had cleaned up, disposing of their trays and tossing out the trash. He was now walking back towards her, a small smirk planted on his face. He reached a hand to her in an offer to help her up. She took it, standing up awkwardly and he placed his hands on his hips to steady her.
Time seemed to stop for a moment as they stood close, their chests brushing against one another. Damon looked down at her, subconsciously licking his lips, his mind taking him back to the kiss at the studio. He bent down and tenderly kissed her and what she did next surprised him as she wrapped her hands around his neck, pulling him closer to her.
She returned his kiss with a passion, and it ignited something in him as he grabbed her ass to pull her closer. She tugged at his hair, which made him moan and she took the opportunity given and plunged her tongue into his mouth. They got lost in the kiss; it was as if the world around them did not matter.
Bella shivered against him and it wasn’t because of the cool chill of the evening that permeated the air, but from the excitement and the pleasure that she experienced from the kiss. Damon reluctantly ended the kiss, rubbing her arms and gazing down at her.
He framed her face with her hands, “We should head back to Renee’s, James left a mess that needs to be cleaned up and I’ve got to get you back to Forks.” She nodded, almost dazed; he chuckled, grabbing her hand as he leads the way. A shock ran through them and both of them shared a look of surprise but decided to shrug it off for now.
They walked down the sidewalk hand in hand, both enjoying a sense of happiness that neither had ever thought would be possible. Once they reached Renee’s and walked into the house, Bella’s blissful face turned scornful and horrified as she took a look around the living room, noticing the mess of photo albums and video tapes scattered throughout the room.
Damon stood behind her, his arms wrapped around her shoulders and kissed her temple, “Tell you what, you go to the kitchen and see if Renee still keeps that bottle of Jack and fix me a drink while I’ll clean this up.”
She absently nodded and headed to the kitchen, finding the bottle and getting two glasses. It wasn’t often that she drank, but after the events of the last couple days, she felt like she needed one. She fixed the drinks and by the time she had got back, Damon had most of the photo albums put away.
They sat for a while, drinking their drinks and chatting before finally deciding that Bella would go grab a few things from her old room that she wanted to take back to Forks while he finished cleaning up. It would look like that no one had ever broken in, and Renee would never be suspicious of anything.
Belle looked into her closet, pulling out some old photo albums that had pictures of her friends in Mystic Falls. She smiled as she come across a picture of her and Elena from when they were five. She gazed down at the picture of two little girls, their hair in pigtails, wearing matching grins and thought of how innocent they were, neither suspecting that the supernatural world existed, nor did they ever suspect that each of them would grow up and fall in love with a vampire.
She grabbed a box and placed the photos and the albums in it. She also grabbed a few shirts and stuffed them in there as well. It was then that Damon walked into the room.
He took a look around the room and spotted a black teddy bear sitting on her dresser. It was a bear that Jeremy had won for her at Founder’s Day almost two years ago. Damon smiled a teasing smile as he plopped on the bed, the said teddy bear in hand, “You never did tell me what you named him.”
Bella’s face bloomed red as she shook her head, “It’s not important, D.”
She tried to grab the bear from him, but he kept it out of her reach. She made another attempt at the bear and in the process ended up straddled on his lap. “Give me the bear!” she demanded.
“Nuh-huh” He shook his head with a smirk, “Tell me what you named him…”
“No!” She shrieked as her blush deepened even more.
“It can’t be that bad…” He said as he moved the bear to his other side, Bella missing it by inches.
“Fine!” She said in defeat as she settled on his lap. “I named him Damon! Are you happy now?”
He chuckled and grinned at her. “You named him after me? Why Belle, I am just so honored!” He placed his hand over his heart in mock sincerity.
“And that’s why I never told you what I named it…” With that she crossed her arms over her chest and looked at him.
Damon tossed the bear in the box and took her in his arms. “You are just so touchy.” He kissed her nose and hooked his fingers on the belt loops of her jeans. She shrugged as she placed her hands on his shoulders and he smirked at her annoyed expression. He truly loved winding her up. He stroked her cheek. “I happen to think you need to rename the bear…”
She looked at him curiously, “Wh-Why is that?”
He smiled in a flirty way and murmured, “Because you have the real Damon to cuddle with, and nothing beats the real thing.”
Her heart fluttered at the sound of his voice and she inhaled a sharp breath. She was so tempted to kiss him, but being in her bedroom, she was scared and nervous about where that kiss would lead, and she wasn’t sure if she was ready for a step like that.
She sighed heavily and got up, “What would you suggest we name him, then?”
He tilted his head side to side in thought for a few minutes and then his eyes met hers, full of amusement as his lips twitched up into a grin, “How about Sexy McFang?”
Bella burst into giggles and in between breaths she stuttered out “Sexy McFang??”
He shrugged “Why not? You did name it after a sexy vamp…”
She giggled once more, rolling her eyes. “Sexy McFang it is…But at this rate he might be getting more cuddles than you…”
He snorted as he stood up, grabbing the box.
A few hours later found them on the Interstate headed for Forks. It was a fun trip that had started out with lots of witty banter, really bad singing to classic rock and a pit stop or two for snacks and drinks. Now it was the dead of the night, the roads nearly barren.
Damon turned down the stereo so that it was a low hum. He looked over to Bella, who had fallen asleep and he smiled softly, taking in the sight of her. He looked back at the road and then he heard her whisper “Damon?”
He turned his head back to her and saw that her eyes were closed. He chuckled as he realized that she was sleep talking. She repeated his name again, this time it was a little louder and he smiled. With the exception of the radio, and the engine of his car, silence filled the air. Damon got lost in thought as he drove, but is suddenly brought of it as he hears her sigh and whisper, “Damon… I… love… you.”
He was stunned by the declaration at first and he inhaled a deep shuddering breath and closed his eyes as the words played in his mind and settled in his heart. He had waited for more than a century and a half for someone to say those words to him, to be loved and accepted as he is.
He reached over and gently held her hand, noting how tiny it was in his own. He took in her sleeping form once more and realized that his eternity will not be spent as alone as he once thought it would be. His heart felt lighter and for once in his life, he felt complete.
*Credit for the name Sexy McFang goes to Cuinawen.