Xxxx July 3 xxxX
The night was cooler than Deborah would have expected, and she was glad that despite the snickers of the rest of the Circle, she considered leather to be an all-season fabric. At her side Laurel waited patiently. Deborah rolled her eyes as she considered the petite brunette.
How had she gotten stuck partnered up with Laurel? As if reconnaissance duty wasn't bad enough, she was being forced to spend her night crouched in bushes with Little Miss No-Personality. At least if the Herndersons had volunteered she would have had someone to share her flask with.
A sharp intake of breath from her companion alerted Deborah to the arrival of a crow. But there was something strange about the bird; it was the biggest crow she had ever seen.
Deborah's eyes narrowed as she cast a glance that would have been close to worried had she cared enough at Laurel.
"Uh... honey, I've been here all along." But Laurel did not look at her- only kept her eyes focused straight ahead, on the animal, smiling and beginning to fidget impatiently before speaking.
"No, she's fine. A bit confrontational and stupid, but other than that she's okay."
Maybe Laurel had been sharing her flask after all.
"Dude, are you talking to the crow?"
Laurel's laughter rent the silence, throwing her head back as the sound bubbled over her lips. In the moonlight her pale skin was strangely luminous, almost as if something inside of her was glowing... pulsing. Suddenly Deb's eyes widened, not believing what she was seeing. But the more she concentrated the harder it was for her to see. A darkness was creeping into the edges of her consciousness, a heaviness she could not fight.
The last thing Deborah saw before losing consciousness was the glint of fangs in Laurel's still-laughing mouth.
Xxxx Later That Evening xxxX
"It's about time," Faye drawled as Deborah stormed into Diana's bedroom, throwing her helmet with terrifying velocity into the center of the bed, narrowly missing Faye's lounging form.
"What is it? What happened? Where's Laurel?" Cassie, who had been sitting next to Faye, had jumped up in order to avoid the incoming projectile helmet and was currently trying to calm the infuriated biker.
"All this time!" Deb shouted, pacing and throwing her arms around haphazardly. "All this fricking time we've been out there looking for vampires!"
She wasn't making sense, and Cassie followed her, trying several times to grab Deborah's arms and stop her from moving before finally succeeding.
"Deborah, where's Laurel?" With a sigh that could only be translated into English as you are all the stupidest people I have ever known and a defiant flare of her nostrils, Deborah attempted calm civility.
"SHE'S ONE OF THEM!"
A stunned silence fell over the Circle, and more than a few of them wondered if the frantic girl had taken a helmet-less spill from her Harley. Deborah could sense that none of them believed her, but at the time she didn't care. Once again, Cassie tried to get some kind of logical answer out of her.
"Wait... what are you talking about? Deb, where's Laurel?"
Eloquence had never been her strong suit. In fact, Deb had always felt that fists had far more to say, but for the sake of the rest of the Circle (and for Laurel's sake, her conscience added so quietly she could barely recognize it), she took a deep breath and tried to speak as clearly as she could.
"Laurel is gone. She started talking to a crow. She grew fangs. I fell asleep, and when I woke up Laurel was gone. Oh, and she's a vampire."
The silence that had descended upon the Circle lifted immediately, and at the same time questions seemed to fly from every corner.
"You fell asleep?" snickered Faye, while Melanie asked a far more useful question.
"Where did Laurel go?"
Again, Deb sighed the you're so dumb I hope you die in a fire sigh and threw her arms up.
"With the crow!"
The exclamation hung in the air as the remaining members of the Circle exchanged worried glances. No matter where Laurel had disappeared to, it was becoming painfully clear that there was something wrong with Deborah. Out of the stillness, Diana stepped forward, taking the distraught girl's hands.
"Deb... are you sure you didn't... I mean, you said you fell asleep. Did you maybe hit your head?"
"No! Listen to me! You guys are the ones who sent me on this stupid stake out with frigging Pollyanna! I'm telling you- she's a vampire!"
"And she was talking to a crow?"
"For the last time, yes!"
The Circle was silent.
For the most part.
Lounging on the bed and never taking her eyes from the magazine she was flipping through, Faye snorted derisively.
Slowly, calmly, and with an almost regal patience, Deborah turned around and punched Faye in the face.
Xxxx Earlier That Evening xxxX
Across the clearing but further back into the brush, Elena Gilbert and Stefan Salvatore watched the two human girls as they waited for Damon's arrival.
"What makes you so sure he's even going to show?" Elena asked in a hushed whisper. For someone with centuries spread out before her, she was not very patient. Though, to her credit, Stefan reasoned, we have been chasing him for a very long time. And Damon has seldom been known to keep his word.
"She's different somehow. He's been to see her at least four times just since we got here. He'll come."
Even with her heightened sense of sight, Elena could barely make out the girls sitting across from them, and though she admitted to a little bit of jealousy and bruised ego that Damon had moved on so quickly, the tall girl seemed a much better match for him. Tough, mean, perfectly able to rule the night with him. However, when she shared her feelings with Stefan, he simply chuckled.
"Not that one."
"The other one... the fragile-looking one."
"The girl scout?" Stefan could only nod, an amused smirk on his face, as Elena tried to work out the possibility of what he'd told her. "But she's so... young!"
"That's my brother. He likes them young and weak. Always has, always will." For once, Stefan was pleased with his knowledge. For once, he was one step ahead of Elena (who never attacked a human but never avoided an unlocked blood bank). For once-
Stefan cast his eyes down, good humor leaving him almost entirely at the sight of Elena's raised eyebrows and pursed lips.
"Young and weak, huh?"
"Present company excluded," he mumbled. Elena didn't have time for a retort. In the clearing, a giant crow had landed.
Xxxx June 28 xxxX
Laurel was sick and tired of everyone thinking she was so little and vulnerable all the time. She was the one who had volunteered to look out for the vampire or vampires who had been pestering New Salem and its surrounding areas. She was the one who had planned and spearheaded the whole campaign. She was the one who had insisted that the Circle even attempt to step in and intervene even though vampires weren't normally their domain.
And now she was stuck with Deborah. The Circle had tried to present it as two of their strongest witches hunting down a malevolent force, but Laurel knew what it really was. Little Laurel was defenseless and needed big, strong Deborah to protect her. And Deb didn't like it any more than Laurel did. They were stuck together.
Although "stuck" probably wasn't the nicest word she could use. It wasn't that she didn't like Deborah. It was just that they were so completely opposite. On a stake out with Melanie or Diana, she could have found things to talk about, ways to pass the time. Short of small talk, there was not one thing she could think of to have a conversation with Deb about. She knew nothing of motorcycles, kung fu movies, or death metal, and Deb knew frighteningly little about herbs or plants or anything else Laurel liked. Their partnership had not only proven fruitless- they hadn't even seen an injured or dead rabbit since they'd begun- but dreadfully boring, too.
And that was why she was going out alone tonight. She hadn't told Deborah or anyone else in the Circle, for that matter. Tonight she was going to prove that she was strong enough- even if she only proved it to herself. And who could ever tell? Maybe she'd find the vampire tonight- on her own.
Though, the second that happened, she was pretty sure she would have given anything to have big, strong Deb in front of her.
She had seen him the second she stepped through the cemetery gate, lounging against a headstone and smiling lazily, like the mean old cat in Cinderella. Seemingly unable to stop, Laurel kept walking toward him. Oh God... bad idea! Bad idea, Laurel! But his smile only grew as she approached, though she wasn't sure whether that was a comforting sign or not.
"So," he began slowly, "how about a deal? You tell me why you've been following me, and I don't eat you." In the moonlight, he looked impossibly pale, with eyes as black as the sky and lips so red Laurel could have sworn he had just fed. She was terrified of him, but she couldn't resist the strange urge that had overtaken her. She didn't speak but moved in closer, studying his eyes as closely as she dared. When their eyes met, he narrowed his. He wasn't sure if he was annoyed that she wasn't afraid of him or that she was. He could feel her fear, but she kept moving toward him, an strange calm and intent in her eyes. Strangely, Damon couldn't move away as she inched even closer. If she'd had a stake in her hand, he would have died at that very moment.
But as it turned out, she would defeat him much more simply. Looking into his eyes, Laurel gently wrapped one of her tiny hands around his wrist, and as a thin silver cord materialized, wrapping around both of their wrists, Damon looked down in horror.
"Oh, you have got to be kidding me!"
Xxxx July 1 xxxX
Elena quite liked New Salem. It was quaint, peaceful, and it just sizzled with magic. Bonnie would love it here, she thought as she wandered the empty streets. Maybe if Stefan ever felt like settling down he'd consider this place. She feared he wasn't dealing with the whole dead/undead/dead/undead again thing very well, and when he'd insisted on tracking down Damon she'd been glad for the distraction from the constant pointless wandering. Stefan had insisted that he just wanted to be assured that his brother was behaving himself, and Elena hoped he was telling the truth. She didn't think she could deal with either of them if they were spoiling for a fight.
Boys, thought Elena as she continued down the street on her way to the beach. Stefan hadn't made any mention of finding his brother, but they had been in this town for a couple of days without moving on, so maybe he was on to something. He'd gone out alone again tonight, but thanks to the salty summer air, Elena didn't quite mind. He could go hunt ghosts all he wanted. She would enjoy a night at the beach.
Stefan smelled Elena as soon as she sat down on the sand even though he was much further down the beach. Much further down from him, Damon stood talking to the girl. And then, to Stefan's unending surprise, Damon kissed her- not like a hunter, not like a predator... like a lover. Stefan's eyes widened as the girl kissed him back.
Maybe this trip had been all for nothing. Damon was behaving himself, and he was apparently in love. It was strange, but maybe the time he'd spent working together with the humans had changed him somehow. Maybe when he's flown off earlier this year, he'd really been a changed man. Maybe-
"Son of a..."
Suddenly Stefan wondered how stupid he could have been. The talking and kissing between Damon and the girl had stopped. Now Damon had her turned around and was beginning to feed from her. Disgusted, Stefan walked toward Elena, pretending that he'd accidentally run into her.
Xxxx June 29 xxxX
"I told you, I don't want to see you."
"And I told you that I don't care what you want."
It had taken some doing to get out of her spying duty with Deborah tonight, but Laurel had managed by giving some excuse about some plant that only bloomed under such and such a moon during such and such weather conditions. Luckily Deb hadn't questioned her too much; Laurel wasn't sure she would have gotten away with it if she had.
Now the petite brunette stood defiantly in front of the testy vampire, hands on her hips and her jaw set. She was dressed very simply in a pair of black sweat pants and a tight fitting black t-shirt. Who knew if any of the others had taken the initiative to go vampire hunting on their own, but just in case any of them were roaming around, she didn't want to risk being seen. There was something very liberating, very energizing about sneaking around. She could see why the bad girls at school always did it. Fear was becoming like a drug for her. If it wasn't for the promise of some wonderful kind of payoff, she certainly wouldn't be skulking around in cemeteries looking for a very dangerous vampire.
A very dangerous vampire who just happened to be her soul mate.
She hadn't been quite able to believe her eyes when she saw that little silver cord spring into being last night, but Damon's reaction had assured her that there was no mistaking the issue. She and Damon, witch and vampire... they were meant to be.
And somehow knowing that made it all a little easier. Laurel had never had any real inclination toward any guy, and had she never known that Damon was her soul mate she probably never would have even given him a second thought. Well... maybe some thought. He was quite hot. But knowing that there was no one else in the world for either of them... It gave Laurel a strange sense of comfort. He couldn't get away from her if he tried. They were linked together forever.
So Laurel wasn't buying the whole "I don't want to see you" bit. She had felt something last night, and she knew he'd felt it too. Looking too cool to be bothered, Damon remained slouched against a tree.
"Whatever. You're a cute girl, and I'd love to eat you, but you see my stupid do-gooder brother is tailing me, and if I put a toe out of line, he'll annoy me to death, so please, run along and go find a nice boy your own age to play house with."
"You know as well as I do that I can't do that, Damon. You saw that cord, too."
"Trick of the light."
"And I know you don't want to eat me, either."
"That's where you're wrong, Sweetheart." In a second, the vampire had rounded on her, pulling her hair in a way that exposed her neck fully. "I. AM. A. VAMPIRE. Soul mate or no, I am a vampire, and you are a pretty girl. And I am always going to want you in ways that you cannot understand." He spoke with barely contained rage, his voice shaking even as his mouth descended to her neck. He paused, his lips infinitesimally close to her skin. She could feel his hunger, his desire, and the incredible strength he exerted in fighting his animal urges. Damon took a deep breath there, hovering just over her jugular. Laurel used his distraction to her advantage. Turning with an almost vampire-like speed, she scratched across his collarbone with the tiny knife she'd been palming. Immediately blood began to flow from the cut, and before the dazed vampire could react, Laurel pressed her mouth against the ripped flesh. Damon tried to push her off, but Laurel could sense his hunger winning out. After a few seconds, Damon's flailing hands came to rest on Laurel's back, pulling her to him as closely as possible. With a sigh, Damon relaxed.
When she'd taken enough blood, Laurel looked up at him, devastatingly calm despite the decision she was making.
"I've taken your blood. You know my choice. Now it's up to you. Take my blood and I become like you- I become your true soul mate. But it's your choice; you know I've made mine."
Damon stared at her, unblinking, for a moment, seemingly fixated on her blood-stained lips. Then, with an unearthly moan, he enveloped her in his arms again. She gasped when his teeth pricked her skin, but soon relaxed. They belonged together. Soul mates. As he began to drink from her, a bright silver cord wound them tightly together.