Elijah was inhuman. Actually inhuman. He didn't move right. Face too still, movements too smooth. Something that set the hind-brain screaming in fear. Tiny motions that added up in the subconscious until all you could see was the mask, the blank, dead thing.
He could pass for human. He could turn on his smiles, light up his eyes and suddenly he was warm and charming and... smooth. Easily sliding into humanity's good graces. No need for compulsion. No need at all. He breezed through and they all fell down for him. Curled into shapes for him.
Like flipping a switch, light on, light off. Driving a pencil through Damon's neck... then offering a pristine handkerchief to mop up the blood. Smiles and blankness, alive and dead.
Elijah glanced at Alaric's body, still cooling on the floor, then stepped up in front of Damon.
"You realise this is the third time I've saved your life now?”
Damon raised his eyebrows, holding his head still against the collar. "Are you expecting a thank you?"
Elijah shrugged, reaching down to pick up the chains, curling them around his bloody hands. "Might be nice."
Damon just stared, gaze dropping down to the chains in Elijah's hands, the clink as the links struck each other. He moved in towards Damon, wrapping them tighter, pulling just a little on the collar, the wooden nails scraping against the wounds and Damon hissed in a breath. Eyes flicking up to meet Elijah. He was smirking, that familiar kink to his lips. As if the world never failed to amuse.
He leant forwards, moving right up close. Raised his other hand and scraped his nails down Damon's neck, Damon's breath hitching as his fingertips sank into the wounds. "Don't."
"Don't what?" Elijah's breath brushed his cheek, voice soft. Eyes on the wounds, not on Damon's face. Damon bit his tongue. Didn't say anything else.
Elijah's eyes flickered to Damon's, inscrutable. Then he moved his hand, fingers slipping swiftly between the stakes and he tugged sharply, the wooden nails digging in the back of Damon's neck for a second before falling away as the metal collar tore apart in Elijah's grip.
He let the contraption fall to the floor by Damon's feet and Looked down at Damon, chain-wrapped to the chair, metal loops over his torso, his legs and arms.
"They really took no chances with you."
Damon shrugged awkwardly. "I have a rep."
Elijah hummed his agreement, eyes trailing back up, lingering on Damon's neck.
Damon's eyes flicked over the bodies of the werewolves lying dead across the room. He couldn't help it if his expression was tinged with a least a little awe. Elijah wasn't even scratched.
"Clever. The collar." Elijah tilted his head. "It always surprises me, the lengths we go..." he mused, almost to himself. Then he reached out again and pressed two fingers against the wounds on the side of Damon's neck, just below his ear. Damon sucked in a breath, pain hazing his vision.
"You going to let me out?" He forced the words through gritted teeth. "Or just stand around some more?"
"Oh I'll let you out." Elijah replied, voice heavy with amusement. He caught Damon's eyes. "Eventually."
Damon scoffed, the motion stretching the wounds in his neck, Elijah's fingers sliding over skin slicked with blood. "I don't think this counts as saving me," he said, talking around his wince. Trying to ignore the slow movement of Elijah's fingers under his jaw.
"Do you see any werewolves?" Elijah replied, deadpan, raising a single eyebrow.
Only dead ones. Damon mirrored his expression. "Don't think me ungrateful. But that's only half the job." Elijah's hand moved up from his jaw, trailing a sticky, cold line of blood across his cheek. The slow movement over his skin strangely distracting.
"What are you doing?" The words come out breathier than Damon had intended.
Elijah let his smirk widen. His fingers moved up, ran lightly over Damon's bottom lip, then pressed down. Despite the progress of Elijah's fingers on Damon's skin. He hadn't expected that. Hadn't expected the strange weight to Elijah's hand. Damon's eyes flickered dark with surprise, and in his gut, a low twist of something that could be lust.
He was unable to hold back a quick flick of his tongue, tasting the bite of his own blood and the cool taste of Elijah's fingertips.
"I think I like you like this," Elijah murmured.
Slow blink, a frown, then Damon jerked his head out of Elijah's grip, the sharp movement accidentally slamming his head against the chair back. Pain bloomed upon impact and he pressed his eyes closed, flicking them open a second later, not liking the thought of Elijah moving unseen.
Blinking dark spots from his vision he focused on Elijah, brows drawing together. "Are you, compelling-"
Elijah laughed, rich and low, surprisingly loud from such a slight man. Amusement danced in his eyes for a second, human warm, before blanking smooth with an ease that sent a shiver down Damon's spine. Even Katherine couldn't flip like that, not without a consistent edge of madness. Elijah spun on a coin; fully one, then fully the other. It made Damon's skin crawl. Some part of him that still considered itself human twisting with unease. (Some part of him no longer human twisting with curiosity.)
"No. Too much vervain in you for that." He tilted his head to the side. "Why, Damon? Do I make you nervous?"
Damon swallowed, his mouth beginning to frame the word 'no' and Elijah moved in, standing between Damon's legs, bending down until level with his eyes. "Don't lie to me," he said.
He lowered his hands to rest on Damon's knees, sliding his palms forwards slowly, thumbs brushing the inside of Damon's thighs.
Damon looked him in the eyes. "You don't make me nervous," he replied, voice steady.
Amusement flashed once more across Elijah's face. He reached out to Damon's shoulder, finger-walking over the chains wrapping his forearm, then snapped them off in one sharp pull.
Damon exhaled roughly.
Damon ignored the sudden drum of his heart, gaze sliding off to the side.
Elijah reached out, hand hovering over Damon's other arm.
"Do I scare you?"
"No," Damon scoffed, looking back at him.
Elijah's brows drew together minutely, his expression moving into something approximating disappointment and his hand moved back to Damon's neck, fingering the wounds again. He lifted his fingers, blood coated, bringing them again towards Damon's lips.
Damon leaned back until his head was pressed against the back of the chair, and in a blink Elijah's other hand was on his jaw, holding him entirely still. The grip unbreakable, cold as the chains. He coated Damon's top lip and lent forwards, bending to touch his tongue to it, licking the blood away and across Damon's clenched teeth.
Elijah tightened his grip further, until Damon had no choice but to lower his jaw, or have his bones crushed. Elijah's tongue flicked past his lips, moving gently across the roof of his mouth. The bitter taste of vervain-tainted blood turning the insides of Damon's cheeks tingly and almost numb.
He was drawing in shallow, unnecessary breaths. The hold on his jaw turned soft, fingers stroking over his skin, trailing gently over bruises. Pain and pleasure mixing in a way that called memories of Katherine to Damon's mind. Dark and bloody nights, lovemaking and blood-letting for so long that even the barest brush of skin was unbearable.
Elijah turned his head, sucking Damon's bottom lip into his mouth and pressing down with teeth. A hot flash of pain and blood filled Damon's mouth, bitter with vervain, choking thick. Damon jerked away, chains pulling against his limbs and that brought him back to himself. To the realisation that he was still tied to a chair, letting Elijah do wicked things to his mouth.
Elijah relaxed his grip, licking at Damon's bloody mouth, before leaning back.
His eyes were dark, the veins around them dark as well. Any human flash of emotion entirely erased. He looked like nothing familiar. But even in his unfamiliarity Damon saw Katherine again. A ripple of deja vu that placed him back in a human body, staring at something greater and more wonderful than anything he'd yet seen.
"Do I scare you?"
Damon trailed his gaze down from Elijah's cold eyes to his reddened lips.
"Yes," he whispered, leaning forward suddenly, catching Elijah in a barely brushed kiss, before he found himself shoved back against the chair, Elijah's iron-solid forearm holding him back.
Elijah's face turned human between one blink and the next. His expression still statue-blank.
There was a rush of air and movement, the chains were broken on the floor. And Elijah was gone.
He blamed it on blood-loss. A momentary lapse. Not something to be repeated. Especially after finding out that Elijah had lied. That he wanted Elena dead after all...
"Why are you here?"
Damon stopped at Elijah's table, glancing quickly around the Grill before looking back down at him, sitting calm and relaxed in a corner booth.
Elijah tilted his head, raising an eyebrow. "Why wouldn't I be?"
"You're here to..." He glanced about again, then slid into the seat opposite, leaning forward across the table. "To protect Elena. That's it. You don't need to socialise." He was angry and he knew it. Shouldn't have put the twist on the word. Shouldn't show his hand. But something about the subterfuge, another person lying to him. It scraped something already raw. It stoked his anger, seeing Elijah here, in the middle of his town, observing the inhabitants like some... like a predator.
Damon should have been planning his next move, an elegant assassination, or a messy one, he wasn't picky. In fact that was why he'd come to the Grill. But seeing Elijah right there in front of him. The man was distracting.
"Maybe I want to."
Damon frowned, having forgotten his question in the tangle of his thoughts.
Elijah's gaze flickered over Damon's head and he raised a languorous hand in greeting. Damon, glancing behind, saw Jenna return the wave. He looked back at Elijah angrily.
"Why?" Elijah was close, suddenly leaning across the table, mirroring Damon's position, knees pressing against Damon's under the table.
He tilted his head again, faces angled towards one another. "Why do you care Damon?"
Damon could feel his breath when he spoke. Complete absence of it when he stopped. He clenched his muscles, forced himself not to lean back. Forced his anger back up to flaming. Hating the vampire before him, hating his stupid hint of an accent, his floppy hair, his implacable calm. Hating his lies.
"I don't want you near them."
Elijah didn't say anything, studied Damon's face, and Damon felt a flash of fear for a different reason; unsure how much Elijah was reading from his expression. He began to lean back, and Elijah spoke.
Elijah rose smoothly, sliding out from the booth. Damon moved before thinking, slipping out and blocking Elijah's way.
Elijah was smiling again. His hand alighting on Damon's shoulder and, as if Damon weighed nothing at all, he shoved him back into the booth. Damon falling in a messy sprawl against the seat.
“Not good enough." Elijah stepped past.
Damon sprung up, closing the distance between then and reaching out to grab Elijah's arm, fingers hooking around his elbow.
Elijah let Damon pull him to a stop, eyes moving down to Damon's hand, then back up to Damon, eyebrows raised pointedly.
Damon stepped closer still, closing the distance between them to a hand's width.
“What would be good enough?” Damon growled.
He was aware of the other people in the Grill, most ignoring the two of them, uncaring. A handful not just seeing, but knowing: Alaric standing across from them, half distracted by Jenna. Bonnie four tables over, sipping her drink. Jeremy leant over the pool table, the clink of the cue against the balls.
Sometimes, the smallness of this town made his skin itch.
He put them from his mind. Focused on Elijah. Tried to pull Elijah's attention solely onto him. He just wanted to force a rise out of the vampire. A familiar, frustrated desire. Always trying to make people see him...
That way led an ugly spiral. He pulled his thoughts away, anger and self-hatred spurring him, as they always did, into doing something dangerous.
He drew in a breath, held it, and relaxed his grip on Elijah's arm, turning his body towards him and sliding his hands down to Elijah's wrist, finding skin. Thumb brushing over the pulse point, sluggish with borrowed blood.
“This?” he asked, lowering his voice.
Elijah's expression didn't waver. No hint to his thoughts.
“Are you sure you want to do this, Damon, Salvatore?” he asked, voice low and a little teasing.
Damon saw through the manipulation. Didn't care. “I know what I want.” His grip tightened on Elijah's wrist. “Can you-”
Elijah's hand twisted and now he was gripping Damon, moving forwards until their bodies were touching, pushing him back against a table.
He stared into Damon's face and Damon scrambled to blank everything except certainty. Tried to control the quickening of his heartbeat as Elijah's grip help him utterly still.
A beat longer as Elijah studied him, then...
Elijah released him and stepped back, turning on his heel and walking away towards the door.
Damon took a second to pull his jacket straight, pointedly not looking at any familiar faces before turning to take the back way out.
“Damon.” The word was whispered softly. Caught only on the edge of Damon's enhanced hearing. Elijah was sanding by the doors, hand resting on the wood. “Follow me.”
Damon hesitated, warring impulses fighting in his chest. Elijah stood there, watching.
Damon's first step was jerky, muscles acting as if independently from thought, pulling him forward like a magnet until he was brushing between Elijah and the door frame, close enough that the absence of heat from the other man was unsettling.
Once outside he drew in shallow breaths, panting as if after exertion, tilting his head to look up at the sky. Elijah moved close behind him, fingers trailing lightly over the back of his jacket, sliding over his hip.
And like last time Damon shivered, eyes falling shut. He pulled them open instantly, turning to face Elijah. A flickering thought that maybe this was compulsion, maybe...
He looked into Elijah's eyes, so calm and still and the thought died. Elijah's face so impassive and Damon ached to break that mask into an expression.
“You lied,” he said. “You want Elena dead. To kill Klaus, you need...” Elijah's brows lowered and Damon's breath hitched. He shouldn't have said anything. Stefan wasn't going to be impressed.
“And you know this, how?” Elijah asked, making no attempt to deny it. Damon grit his teeth, smirking around his anger. “I have my ways.” He stepped back, putting a little distance between them.
Elijah nodded. “The witch.”
Damon almost controlled his surprise, just a little widening around his eyes. But the slip was enough for Elijah, who nodded again then sighed and stepped forwards. Damon moved backwards. Elijah raised an eyebrow, somehow managing to convey exasperation with the tiny movement. But he didn't follow Damon's retreat.
“To kill Klaus I require Elena to make a sacrifice. That doesn't mean her life.”
Damon shook his head. “You're lying, Elena has to die.”
But he wasn't sure. He hadn't been there, hadn't heard the words himself.
Elijah stepped forwards again and this time Damon stayed still. “You have no way of knowing. By all means, keep looking. But in the meantime...” He raised a hand, moving slowly, giving Damon time to move away, before reaching up to brush a dark strand of hair from where it had fallen into Damon's eyes. “Does it matter? Does it make any difference to this?” He let his hand drop to Damon's shoulder and smiled, that unsettlingly affectionate smile. “Are you here to make me trust you? To learn my secrets? To keep Elena safe?” His smile disappeared. “Or are you here for you?” He held Damon's gaze, then stepped back.
“It makes no difference to me.”
Damon shrugged off the lingering sensation of his closeness.
“Right.” He drew the word out slowly and frowned at Elijah. “The moment I cease to be useful...” he said wryly.
Elijah looked at him, gaze turned suddenly dark and almost physically heavy. “So become useful.”
Did he want this? He'd wanted what Katherine offered. Been willing to follow her wherever she led. But Elijah? Even the thought of admitting it made him want to run and keep on running.
He moved, transferring his weight to leave and Elijah saw it, closed the distance between them and kept pushing until Damon was stumbling until his back hit the wall. Elijah's arms on either side of him, palms pressed to the wall, a cage of his limbs.
“Look at me Damon.”
Damon's eyes slid to the side.
“Look at me.” Elijah repeated voice low and so heavy with command that Damon found his gaze dragged towards him despite himself.
“Do you think this surprises me? Do you think I didn't know from the beginning?”
Damon winced, and Elijah moved, his hand going to Damon's chin, not holding him still, just resting his fingers on his skin. The threat stronger than the actual action.
“Do you have any idea how old I am?” He asked.
Damon looked at Elijah, eyes flickering over his face, trying to read the answer in his face, in his bones and in his skin.
“You can run away from what you want. You can hide, because you're afraid.”
He paused, “Or... you can take.”
He let his hand drop, his other hand as well and stepped back so that nothing was stopping Damon from leaving.
Damon kept staring at him, gaze unfocussed. There was no misguided love here, no friendliness, no companionship. Maybe a little respect for Elijah's strength, (maybe a lot.) But there was no messiness, no ugly, draining emotions. Elijah wasn't Rose, and when he died, Damon wouldn't mourn him. He'd be the one with his hand on the dagger.
“I don't trust you.” Damon said, finally breaking the silence.
“Good.” Elijah replied.
“You shouldn't trust me.”
Elijah smiled. “Oh I don't.”
Part of him was shouting out that this was wrong wrong wrong. Dangerously wrong. But Elijah was moving forwards again, taking up the space in front of Damon, moving in to fill his sight until he was the only thing Damon could focus on and Damon moved forwards meeting his mouth with his own.
With the werewolves taken care of, Damon had no other distractions to pull him out of his own mind. Out of his painful dilemma, his desire for Elena, to be the person Elena wanted him to be. The flashes of desire to kick out against that, rip into skin, anyone's skin and let blood run freely across it. Not even to drink. Just to kill.
So his thoughts would return to Elijah, he'd think and rethink his motivation for following him from the Grill, following him all the way down the street and back to his house. Elijah hadn't given any further commands once they were inside, led Damon silently upstairs, then leant back against the bed, one eyebrow raised in a challenge.
One Damon had stepped up to. Mapping out Elijah's skin one piece at a time, testing his body, feeling the hardness of his muscles, the inhuman smoothness of his skin. Stripping in front of him, Elijah's appreciation of his body unexpectedly readable in his face. (Swapping their positions and Elijah pressing kisses into the dip of his collarbone, the grooves of his hips, the dark line of hair leading down from his navel.)
He'd remember leaving the house in the early hours of the morning, drawing a merrily drunk couple from their way home and back to the house. Licking at the sides of their necks, blood slipping down his throat and over his chin. Messier as the day brightened the sky, trading kisses slick with blood, biting from the same body, feeling the heartbeat slow as Elijah sucked the life from the human's veins.
They'd had sex again in the shower, Damon praising vampire stamina and the absent desire for sleep.
Then Damon had left, standing for a moment on the sidewalk and waiting for the day to settle into his bones. He felt made anew. Refreshed in a way that he hadn't expected plain sex, or even bloody sex, to give him.
Over the next couple of days, Damon found he was bumping into Elijah suspiciously often. He'd have accused the other man of stalking him, if it wasn't for the fact that he was returning the favour.
The nights (and days) didn't follow the same pattern as the first. Sometimes Elijah told Damon what he wanted, forced Damon down and held him still only with the inhuman strength of his body. Pushed Damon into the bed and made him follow his commands.
Sometimes he coaxed. Rewarding Damon with pleasure each time he obeyed.
Sometimes he did exactly what Damon told him, and having Elijah obey his commands would send Damon giddy with a mess of lust and power. Making the impossibly polite vampire bend to his wishes, ruffling his perpetually unruffled mask, staining his skin with his own blood, cutting words that healed in seconds, licking the blood away until even those marks were gone.
He repaid him for the pencil, staked Elijah over and over. Repaid him for that first kiss, biting down on his tongue and in his lips. Repaid him for that first night, sending him flying with sensation until the only word either of them could remember was yes, yes, yes. Repeated until the sound lost any meaning beyond an expression of pleasure.
Even so, even in all that mess of blood and sex and power, he knew Elijah only obeyed him because he wanted to. Knew that if Damon tried to force him, he'd lose. Not just that, but Elijah could force Damon. If Damon ever missed a dosage of vervain, Elijah could get inside his head and tangle him up so entirely that Damon would forget who he was. Forget everything except what Elijah made him.
Eventually the temptation of that release grew to almost overpowering. Enough that he cancelled on Elijah. Stayed away, stayed with the humans, compelling them to do minor tricks, reminding himself how powerless they were. When that wasn't enough, he tailed Elena and her human coterie, until they got bored, or angry, or suspicious. Which was dishearteningly quickly. Alaric put up with him the longest, but even he had to deal with Jenna and her rising mistrust, courtesy of one John Gilbert.
Eventually he ended up back at the house Elijah was staying in. (Compelled landlord looking bemused and blissed out. And that was supposed to be a warning, not further temptation.)
Standing in the kitchen, gazing sightlessly out of the window, knowing this was the worst place to be. But staying anyway.
“Looking for something?”
Elijah appeared behind him, sneaking up just like Damon did with the humans. He turned to face him, taking in the smirk on Elijah's face.
“You tell me,” he replied, not ready to be coaxed out of his mood. Not really sure what his mood was.
Elijah's smile disappeared. The sight of that inhuman blankness raising the hairs on the back of Damon's neck. “Forget it, I should-” He moved to go around him.
“This.” Elijah raised his hand, and in it was a small bottle of liquid. “Vervain.”
Damon stilled, the blood in his veins running colder. He caught Elijah's eyes.
Elijah smiled, walking over to the fridge and took out a glass bottle filled with blood. He poured two mugs and placed them in the microwave. Then, leaning his hip against the table he looked at Damon, holding his gaze steadily. The kitchen was utterly silent but for the hum of the microwave as they waited for the blood to heat. Damon running over the reasons why he hadn't left already. The strange atmosphere and Elijah's steady gaze setting him further on edge.
The chime of the microwave shocked him and he flinched, glancing quickly over to Elijah, who made no motion that he'd seen, though he couldn't have missed it. He missed nothing.
Elijah placed the mugs on the table and added a few drops from the bottle to one of them, glancing up at Damon.
Damon, still on edge, walked slowly towards him. “Two more.”
Elijah added two more drops, then replaced the stopper in the bottle, holding the mug out to Damon. Who made no move to take it.
Elijah smiled, unsurprised, and raised it to his own lips, taking a sip, wincing at the taste, then offering it again. This time Damon accepted the glass, turning it so that he could place his mouth in the same place as Elijah had. Unsure whether he was doing that for purely for safety.
Elijah picked up his own mug and moved past Damon, taking a seat on the couch and gesturing for Damon to join him.
“I'll stand.” Damon declined, pulling a stiff-feeling smirk onto his face.
Elijah smiled and sipped his blood slowly. And since he hadn't yet dropped dead-er, Damon decided to risk it and sipped his own blood.
It was pleasantly warm and fresh enough that he could imagine it came directly from the vein. However the bitter taste ruined any enjoyment he could have had from drinking and he had a mad impulse to reach out and take Elijah's mug, vervain free and damn the consequences.
“I'm not the only Original in the world.” Elijah spoke up from his seat.
Damon looked at him sharply, but Elijah's eyes were on the mug held between his hands.
“There aren't that many of us. But since we are hoping to entice one here in particular...” He looked up. “It pays to be careful.” And he smiled again.
Damon pulled his smirk wider. “Cheers.” He raised his mug and swallowed half the blood before he had to stop and lick away the bitterness, it wasn't usually this strong.
“Here.” Elijah held out his mug. “To take away the taste.”
“Take it,” Elijah ordered and Damon moved forwards, taking the mug and sitting down on the opposite end of the couch to Elijah. He took a swig of clean blood, the taste so much better, that his eyes fluttered shut involuntarily. He enjoyed the taste for a moment before passing the mug back over. “We're going to have a dinner party. At the boarding house. You're invited.” He glanced up at Elijah as he took the mug from him, fingers brushing.
“I'd be delighted.”
“Good.” Damon nodded, turning away and sipping again at his blood.
That was that then. Elijah would come to the dinner party and he'd kill him.
He thought he'd feel better after making the decision.
He stood. “I'll be going-”
Damon stopped. “No.” He shook his head, wanting to put space between himself and the other vampire.
Elijah moved up beside him, reaching out to take the almost empty mug and set it out of the way beside his own. He raised himself up onto the armrest and pulled Damon around to face him, reaching up and tangling a hand in Damon's hair. Damon let himself be manoeuvred, limbs feeling heavy and not his own. Let himself be pulled down towards Elijah, lips meeting in a messy kiss, sweet with blood and tinged with bitterness.
“Did you know.” Elijah murmured the words against his mouth. “Compulsion can be layered?”
He pulled Damon forward, the momentum sending them falling back onto the couch, Damon settling over him, leaning down until his upper body was pressing Elijah down into the cushions. Still connected at the mouth, Elijah licking and biting kisses with a heavy edge of possessiveness, with the knowledge that this mouth would open for him, open wider. Each kiss harder, lingering. Like each touch would leave a mark, like Elijah was trying to touch every inch of Damon's mouth with his tongue, lick his taste into Damon's skin. Damon could barely keep up, let Elijah lead him deeper, losing track of his thoughts under the onslaught.
“It can build up, just like vervain can build up.” He said, pulling back as if pausing for breath.
Damon blinked slowly, eyes opening and he hadn't noticed them falling shut.
Elijah raised a hand to brush Damon's hair from his eyes, fingertips soft against his brow.
“All you have to do is focus the compulsion on one, tiny thing.” He paused, raised his eyebrows encouragingly, and Damon, despite the slowness of his thoughts, finally made the connection.
Fear moved like electricity through his limbs. “Vervain,” he choked, throat closing on the word and his muscles tensed as he readied himself to flee.
Elijah's eyes caught his and a lethargy sunk back into Damon's body, a warm heaviness, like the thickness of blood as it pumped into his veins, filling every inch of him and pulling him back down to settle against Elijah. Sending his thoughts to drift in a sea of calm, slowly coming back to the sensation of Elijah's fingers running through his hair.
He pulled away eventually, settling more comfortably, side by side on the couch.
Elijah just smiled.
“I haven't been taking my vervain.” And now that he thought about it, now that he could think about it. He realised that every time he'd considered not taking it these past few days. He'd gone ahead and done exactly that.
“The bitterness.” He pointed at the mug.
Elijah shrugged. “Vervain isn't the only bitter tasting herb in existence.”
Damon frowned. There should be fear here, he knew that, anger too, and despair. But instead there was calm, even a vague sense of contentment. So this was how it felt. “I'd always wondered.”
It was true then. Katherine never did compel him. Not once. And that was still painful. The thought that her betrayal, her abuse of his love was so complete.
“Why?” He turned to look at Elijah. Knowing that if the answer was wrong, he would do his best to kill him, even with the compulsion.
“Because you wanted me to.”
Damon was shocked into silence.
Elijah laughed softly. “Come now Damon. You knew spending time with me was dangerous. You knew what I was capable of, but you did it anyway. You kept pushing, kept coming back. Did you think I wouldn't realise? Wouldn't take what was offered?
Damon closed his eyes, his head falling back against the cushions. Was it true? Had he wanted this?
Damon opened his eyes, turned his head to look at Elijah. Distracted by the way sunlight, slanting in through the window, caught the flecks of gold in his hair.
Elijah was wrong. He didn't want this. Why would he want this? Yes, maybe he enjoyed the knife edge he'd been balancing on, giving up control even as he took control. Maybe he'd enjoyed playing with the temptation. But this?
He narrowed his eyes. Gaze moving from Elijah's hair to his eyes, the irises bleached pale by the sunlight.
Damon could kill him. But if Katherine was to be trusted, compulsion lingered beyond the grave. Maybe he should kill him, now. Before the compulsion became too dangerous. Before Elijah told him something like, 'kill Elena'.
Damon tried to move and found his limbs completely unresponsive.
“Damon, you're over-thinking.” Elijah murmured. His head resting on the cushion, mirroring Damon's position.
“We're not so different, you and I. What's life without a little risk? You can still try to kill me. You can still make your little plans...” He smiled. “Yes, I know you have plans.” He let the smile slip from his face, in a blink back to blankness. “You can do anything you like, Damon.”
There was a pause when Elijah seemed to be weighing something. A moment when Damon realised he could read something in that blank face, that maybe the blankness just needed familiarity to be deciphered.
“But you can't get away,” Elijah continued, “because you don't want to.”
And Damon didn't.
He turned away, raising his eyes to look at the ceiling. “What about the other Originals?”
“Hm, yes, you could be a liability.” Elijah laughed.
Damon turned to look at Elijah, catching the amusement dancing in his eyes.
“You use compulsion like a blunt instrument. I use it like a scalpel. I'd know if anyone else compelled you and I'd... remove it.” He flicked his fingers. “Like brushing away a cobweb.”
Damon didn't like that he found that reassuring. “What are you going to do to me?” he asked.
“Anything I like.” Elijah grinned, the smile sharp and full of teeth. He slid forwards over Damon's legs to settle on his lap. “Don't worry. I won't do anything you don't want me to.” He sunk his fingers into Damon's hair, brushing it back from his face.
“You can make me want anything.”
“Oh.” Elijah widened his eyes in mock surprise. “So I can.” He laughed and Damon laughed along with him.
“It's funny.” Damon smiled, tilting his head to pin the phone between his ear and shoulder as he swung his feet over the balcony. He jumped down two stories, striking the ground with a heavy thump, and began to walk away from the house. “Everyone's so sure I'm going to try and kill you. They keep warning me, begging me really, to be careful.”
“And are you?” Elijah's asked, his voice warm and amused.
Damon smirked, looking out at the sunset as it bled over the trees. “Going to be careful, or going to kill you?”
“Oh I know you're going to try to kill me. Don't worry.”
“Am I that transparent?”
“Yes, Damon.” Elijah replied, deadpan. “I hate to break it to you, but your penchant for killing people is well known.”
“Damn.” Damon clicked his fingers, knowing Elijah's enhanced hearing would pick up the noise even through the phone.
“I might succeed.”
“You might.” Elijah didn't sound convinced.
Damon shrugged, knowing the only way to convince him would be to actually do the deed. And he didn't fancy studying his feelings about that, act first, think later, a motto that had... well, not helped him at all, actually, but it was about time it started to.
“I don't suppose you'd be willing to throw your lot in with ours, thus removing the need to kill you in the first place.”
Elijah laughed. “Weakening, Damon?” He continued before Damon could reply. “You forget, I already have.”
“Yeah, saving Elena to kill her later doesn't count as helping.”
“Sacrifice, not death.”
“You still haven't told me what sacrifice.”
Elijah was silent.
“Thought so.” Damon held the disappointment back from his voice. He enjoyed killing people, that was what he'd told Andie. Elijah was just another person.
“We have to pretend to barely know each other.” He changed the subject.
“I'm sure you'll perform admirably.” Damon said wryly.
“”Such faith in my abilities.”
“Such faith in your love for screwing with people.”
Elijah's laugh echoed down the phone.
“You've got more of a sense of humour than you let on, Elijah. I'm on to you.”
“You should be.”
There was a pause, and Damon turned back to look at the house, the sprawling mass of it, dark and almost menacing in the twilight.
“Are we flirting?” Elijah spoke, “is that what this is?”
Damon nodded, before remembering himself. “Yeah, I think so. Does that bother you?”
“Well, you're a sure thing, I don't need to flirt.”
“I'm the one taking you out to dinner.”
“No, you're inviting me to have dinner with you, your girlfriend and some other people, most of whom want me dead.”
“Everyone I know wants you dead, Elijah, don't take it personally.”
There was a clatter from Elijah's end, then a gurgle that sounded suspiciously like someone dying.
“Hmm?” He sounded as calm as ever.
“Are you killing people right now?”
“Just a couple.”
Damon was not getting turned on by that.
“Why, does it bother you?”
Damon choked off a laugh. “The opposite.” He paused. As long as it's not people I know.”
“Cleaning up, tying loose ends. Werewolves.”
“Thank you, I will.” There was another patch of silence before Elijah spoke again. “I suppose I should bring wine, not-”
“Blood? No. I don't think Jenna would be amused.”
“All right. Then I'll see you tonight. Unless there was anything else?”
“No, I'll. See you tonight.”
Damon cut off the call without listening for a reply, suddenly uncomfortable about his motivations for making the call. Had he really just done it to hear Elijah's voice? He'd wanted to talk to him about... the dinner party. Which was already confirmed, and needed no talking about.
He squeezed the phone in his hand until he heard the plastic crack, then he shoved the slightly bent device into his pocket and began to walk back towards the house.
It'd be over soon. It'd all be over soon. Elijah might consider this a calculated risk, but even with his years, he could still be wrong.