Rising from the Ashes @esm3rald
Chapter 3 - Meeting

Here you go, brand new chapter. This is a long one, more than 7000 words and I predict the next one will be even longer. Finally, the first real meeting between Damon and Blair. The next one is going to be even much more fun to write. Hope you like this one in the meantime. Also, thank you so much for the comments (keep them coming!), the kudos (on AO3), the new followers and those who put my story in their favorites. I'm really glad you're liking my story.

One last thing, I changed a few things so I advise you to reread the story from the beginning, so you don't get confused.

Chapter 3


Since she could remember, due to her unusual abundance of restless energy, Blair had trouble falling asleep at night. She just couldn't turn her brain off – her thoughts always spinning out of control.

It was why she would go to the gym most nights, after dinner, for two hours (one hour of cardio and one hour of kick-boxing). The owner of the gym knew her, seeing as she did kick-boxing since she was five, so he had allowed her to make a copy of the keys and, as long as she remembered to lock up at night, he allowed her use of the gym when no one else was in, which was how she preferred it.

She would return home, study for three hours and then soak in the tub for a long, half-hour bath. She would do her half-hour skin care routine – for her face: double cleanser, toner, essence, beauty water, eye cream, moisturizer or night cream; and for her body, which was the same as the morning one but with the addition of waxing twice a week, including a full Brazilian because she just was the kind of fastidious person that hated having body hair (except for her actual hair, eyebrows and eyelashes, of course); she would then do a mani-pedi, prepare her schoolbag, choose the outfit for the next day, and then she would drink chamomile tea with milk (no sugar) before going to bed.

She would then masturbate for half an hour (sometimes with her hand, most often with toys, – the third drawer of her bedside table was reserved for those – it depended on how horny she was or if she had had sex that day), which would serve to relax her, and consequently sleep better, more deeply. She wouldn't think about anything in particular, letting her mind go blank – in a way it was almost like meditating, except with orgasms.

She would then fall asleep at about 1 in the morning. Since she suffered from Short Sleeper Syndrome, sleeping from 1 to 5 every night didn't really bother her. She was able to function normally even with only 4 hours of sleep.

This was her usual routine from Monday to Friday (or rather, Sunday night to Friday morning) during the school year. In the summer (especially last summer) and the weekends, it would change – there was always a party or some other event she had to attend during the weekends, so she would never return home earlier than midnight; she would therefore get up later – usually at 9 am. She would forego her 5am morning run for her 10am to 12am swimming practice. Cheerleading practice would be every afternoon (4pm to 6pm) Monday to Friday – with debate Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 3 to 4 pm – and then 3pm to 5pm Saturday afternoon. And every Sunday afternoon she would do some volunteer work to boost her college credits. She never studied during the weekends – she never needed to; 15 hours of study per week were enough for her.

Blair was methodical in everything she did and fixated on following her routines daily with religious precision – a control freak if there ever was one. She hated going off-script. It was a way to keep order and control in her life and, as already established, Blair was obsessed with control. It was also one of the reasons she'd never slept over at a boyfriend's house, not even Tyler's. One of the reasons, the other, obvious, one was the fact that sleeping with someone – actually sleeping, lying next to each other on a bed for hours on end – required a level of intimacy and trust that Blair just wasn't ready for – not that she felt like she would ever be ready for it.

That particular Thursday morning started on the wrong foot. All night she had been plagued by nightmares about a certain blue-eyed vampire. She dreamt of a monstrous face, blue eyes turning black, blood, and sharp teeth, and of her death. Over and over and over again. Plus, her alarm didn't go off. That meant that she missed her morning run – and she'd never miss it, not even if it was pouring outside, or if it was snowing.

Blair checked the time and cursed when she noticed it was already ten past 6. She bolted from her bed and rushed to the bathroom, thanking the fact that Elena was still at the hospital and that, even if she wasn't, she would never get up earlier than a quarter to seven. She didn't notice the crow that was perched on her window sill.

She took off her short, silk and lace nightgown – because, even at night, she wanted to feel sexy – and then her bra (she didn't wear panties for bed but she did wear a wireless bra – strictly lace – because she had big boobs and she didn't want them to become saggy by the time she'd turn 35) and jumped in the shower.

She tried to ignore the panic at the idea of having skipped her morning run – she could already feel her boobs sagging and the cellulitis creeping in (yes, she was being overly dramatic) – and decided she would do an extra half-hour at the gym that night, to compensate.

She went through her usual morning routine – adding an extra layer of concealer because she had ugly shadows under her eyes today (the nightmares were to blame for that) – and, by a quarter to seven, she was ready. Today she was wearing a red, short sleeve, wrap crop top with a low V-neck, – with a red, lace, push-up bra underneath and a matching red, lace, Brazilian thong – a high-waisted, pleated mini black cotton skirt that fell just 2-3 centimeters below her butt, and a pair of black plateau pumps, paired with a black, leather jacket.

She loved flaunting the fact that, since freshman year, when she organized a week-long-protest and a petition to abolish the dress code at school because it was, quote, 'an antiquated method of oppression of the female body and a form of discrimination against women, since how one person dressed didn't preclude their ability to perform their academic duties in any way', everyone was free to dress however they wanted, as long as it wasn't completely indecent.

She went down the stairs to have breakfast. That was the moment when Elena returned home.

"Hey," Blair greeted her cousin. "So, how's Bonnie? Caroline said that she's going to pull through."

Elena nodded, sending her a tired but relieved smile. "Yes, she's going to be fine. She lost a lot of blood so they had to do a transfusion and they're keeping her under observation for another day yet – she's going to be discharged tomorrow."

Blair smiled back at her. "That's great."

"Are you going to visit her in the hospital?" Elena asked her. "I'm sure she would be glad to see you."

"Yeah, I'll go with Caroline after lunch. I don't have afternoon classes today anyway and cheer tryouts aren't until 4pm."

"Good." Elena said with a nod. "Do you need me to be there?"

Blair was tempted to make a comment about the fact that she hadn't shown up once for summer practice so why start to show up now? But she refrained. Instead, she answered, "no, don't worry about it. As long as you come Saturday for the first real practice of the season, you're good."

Elena nodded again. "Okay. Good. Well, I have to get ready for school. See you later?"

"Yeah." Blair said before walking to the kitchen, while Elena went up the stairs, headed to her room.

This was, probably, the first, real, normal conversation the two of them had since before Miranda and Greyson Gilbert died. Blair smiled. She could admit that it had felt good. Elena could be a real pain in the ass – all judgement and smothering worry, with a Mother Teresa complex a mile wide – but she was still family (and family had become sparser, to say the least, in the last few years). They would return to bicker soon, Blair was sure, but for now, she could enjoy this moment of ceasefire between them.

Blair and Caroline stood in front of Blair's locker before classes would start; they were making plans for visiting Bonnie that afternoon and then for cheer tryouts. She tried to avoid looking in Tyler's direction but without success – he was standing at his locker, Vicki practically glued to his side. As soon as Tyler saw her watching him, he grabbed Vicki by the ass and started making out with her aggressively. Someone even shouted 'get a room' at them.

Blair rolled her eyes. He couldn't be any more obvious in his attempt to make her jealous. (Blair told herself he wasn't succeeding). She turned her back on him and concentrated back to Caroline who was still talking. Fuck Tyler. She had more important things to worry about.

Blair showed up earlier for Tanner's class that day because she still needed to discuss her history project with him. While she wouldn't have to present her detailed outline until the end of October, she had still prepared a short one and talk with him about how she intended to proceed to gather the necessary information.

In truth, all of that was an excuse. Her intent that day was another. She wanted to gather information about the Salvatore family, which had been, during the Civil War, like all other Founding Families, vampire hunters (something she had inferred from the journals after realizing that vampires were actually real) – since Stefan was one, and yet, he was also a vampire. And he was a vampire who could walk in the sun – there was no information in the journals about vampires walking in the sun. At least, the journals she had access to. Maybe there was something written in the Salvatore journals. And, hopefully, there was something about Stefan and how and when he became a vampire. (She didn't dare hope to find information about herself and what she was).

But she needed an excuse for wanting to see the Salvatore journals. And this would be the perfect one. But there was no way that Stefan would let her burrow them, not after what happened yesterday. Hence, why she needed Mr. Tanner.

"Good morning, Mr. Tanner. Do you have a few minutes?" She greeted him when she entered the classroom.

"For you, always, Blair." Mr. Tanner replied with a smile. Blair smiled back but she hadn't forgotten how he had treated Elena yesterday morning. She wondered if she should do something to punish him – perhaps, do a 'Basic Instinct' move (she always sat on the first row so it wasn't like it would be difficult), so that he would get an erection in the middle of class and be completely humiliated. Though he would probably see that as permission to really hit on her, so maybe that wouldn't be the best idea.

She approached his desk and watched him checking her out, her boobs in particular – he had a real fascination with those. (He had been one of the teachers who had signed the petition to abolish the dress code at school – the reason why was blatantly obvious).

"I wanted to show you the short outline I finished yesterday. See if you have some pointers for me." She retrieved the papers she had printed yesterday. She leaned on the desk to hand them out to him, giving him a better view of her chest – which he hadn't stopped staring at since she entered the room – as a way to soften his mood, make him more pliable. It was also a great ego boost, watching him drool over her, after Stefan's sort-of rejection yesterday and Tyler's behavior in general.

"This looks really good already." Tanner said, finally shifting his eyes away from her tits to read the papers in his hand.

"Yeah?" Blair asked him, walking around the desk to stand next to his desk. "Because I'm not sure about this part." She pointed at a passage in the sheets she was holding, a hand on the back of his chair, while bending her body towards his, her boobs practically in his face.

"No, no. I think it works." Tanner said, swallowing visibly – his gaze once again fixed on her boobs, which now he had an even better view of, because of her change in position.

"Did you already think about your sources?" Tanner asked her, making a visible effort to shift his gaze away from her tits and to look her in the eyes instead.

Blair smiled to herself. Now, that was the topic she really wanted to talk about. "There are the historical archives, so there's one. But that's just the typical public information, that you would find in every history book – I want to create something a little more…personal, unique, you know? So, I was thinking of using the info in those more as a general overview.

"Then there are the Founding Families' journals, which I'm much more interested in. My aunt Meredith owns a few Fell journals, I own some too from my father and then, maybe, I could ask the rest to Logan Fell, my cousin. I don't know if he would let me burrow them but I could try. Then there's the Gilbert journals but that shouldn't be much of a problem. Uncle John owns some of those and he's out of town, but most of the Gilbert journals belonged to uncle Grayson – some are here and some are at the Lake House but I shouldn't find it too difficult to retrieve them.

"About the Forbes journals…Caroline is my best friend and when Bill Forbes left town, he didn't bring the journals with him and I don't think Liz Forbes will have much of a problem in letting me burrow them.

"Then there's the Lockwoods. This one could be a little awkward but Carol does love me and now that Tyler is with Vicki, I bet she misses me." She noticed Tanner trying to suppress a grin at her statement. "So, maybe she will let me burrow them, hopefully.

"And lastly, the Salvatores." Blair bit her lip, feigning nervousness. "I don't really know Zach Salvatore. And then there's Stefan…but I don't know him very well either. I guess I could try to ask him to convince his uncle. I think I would feel more comfortable asking him, because he's my age. Though, I don't think I will have much luck." Blair feigned a disappointed pout. "I guess, I would have to do without the perspective of one of the Founding Families. It's such a shame though."

"Absolutely not." Mr. Tanner exclaimed, vehemence in his tone. "I will talk to Stefan Salvatore. Leave this to me."

Blair grinned at him. "Thank you so much, Mr. Tanner." The bell chose that moment to ring and Blair decided that it was time to go sit at her desk. Before doing that, though, she decided to reward him – or punish him, she wasn't sure.

She bent to retrieve her bag from the ground next to the teacher's desk, her back to him, knowing her already short skirt would rise up even more in that position and that he would, therefore, get a very nice view of her ass and her red thong. It wasn't a 'Basic Instinct' move but she heard him making a strangled sound deep in his throat all the same.

The class filled out a few moments later and Blair waved to Caroline when she sat down at her desk. Then Elena entered the classroom, then Donovan – who made puppy eyes at Elena, who ignored him – and then, finally, Stefan.

Blair watched him but she didn't try to raise his attention. Stefan, for his part, was – very obviously – avoiding even looking at her. Blair suppressed the urge to roll her eyes and, instead, prepared to listen to Tanner's lecture for the day. Tanner, for his part, was still sitting at his desk and it didn't look like he had any intention of rising from his chair any time soon. He also looked a little flushed.

Blair bent to retrieve her book, notebook and pen – an excuse to hide the smirk gracing her lips.

When all the seats had been occupied, Tanner cleared his throat loudly and started talking. "Originally discovered in Ancient Greek nearly 2 millennia ago, the Phoenix's Comet hasn't been over Mystic Falls in over 145 years." Blair watched Elena and Stefan exchanging glances and smiling at each other, not even trying to hide it. "Now, the comet will be at its brightest right after dusk during tomorrow's celebration. Are we bothering you, Mr. Salvatore? Ms. Gilbert?"

Blair rolled her eyes this time. She shouldn't feel this irritated, she knew, but she couldn't help it. Stefan preferring Elena to her had stung. She had basically offered herself to him and he hadn't wanted her. Sure, he had desired her in the moment but then, he had regretted it and he had returned to Elena like a repentant puppy.

If it weren't for the fact that she would hurt herself and Elena in the process, she would tell Elena all about her tryst with Stefan, that would show him. He was basically behaving like she didn't exist.

And Tyler…Ew! How could he still be with Vicki Donovan? She couldn't be that great a fuck, right? (She did have a lot of practice though, so maybe she was…). And, what was worse, was the fact that people were whispering about her now. The whole town knew about her supposedly being cheated on and then dumped because of Vicki Donovan. It was so humiliating.

At least no one had seen her with Stefan (who had then chosen Elena). How worse would it be for her if people knew? The second choice, not once but twice. She was always the first choice – always.

She needed a new boyfriend/fuck buddy asap! She needed to fix her reputation. This couldn't stand.

The bell rung and Blair was dismayed to notice that she had missed Tanner's entire lecture. What the hell was happening to her? Get a grip, Blair! You can't let boys, of all things, distract you from what is really important. Harvard, remember?

Blair shook her head to herself and left the classroom without looking at anyone, not even Caroline. She needed a few minutes to herself, to decompress.

Stefan and Elena left Mr. Tanner's classroom together. He didn't get the chance to spend a lot of time with her – not as much as he might have wanted to anyway – and he intended to remedy that. Stefan had remained in Mystic Falls for Elena Gilbert, after all. She was the only reason he was even risking exposure, putting himself in danger like that. For her.

Whatever that thing with Blair had been, it was a mistake and it would never be repeated. He had compelled her anyway and – beside Damon, who would probably use the information to torment him but wouldn't really say anything (it wasn't his style) – no one would ever know about it.

Stefan decided that, for now, it was better for him to ignore her. He would get to know her better later on, as Elena's friend and cousin and only as that. If he wanted to remain in Elena's life, he needed to make an effort with those important to her, those she loved.

Reason why he asked Elena how Bonnie was doing, even though he hated being reminded of Damon's actions.

"They're keeping her overnight to make sure there's no infection," Elena answered, "but she should be able to come home tomorrow."

Stefan smiled at her. "That's good news."

Elena sent him that shy smile he loved, putting a lock of hair behind her ear with her hand. "Yeah."

"Did she say what kind of animal it was that attacked her?" Stefan asked then, hoping he sounded casual enough.

Elena laughed, sounding a little nervous. "She said it was a vampire."

Stefan froze in place. "What?"

Elena shrugged. "Yeah, she woke last night and muttered 'vampire', then passed out again."

Stefan pretended to be in disbelief, though inside he was freaking out. "That is a little weird, isn't it?"

"Yeah, I know. But she was probably high on pain killers, so…"

Stefan grinned at her, at least happy to know Elena didn't really believe that a vampire had attacked her friend. "Yeah, that must be it."

"Well, send Bonnie my best wishes as soon as you see her, please."

Elena sent him another shy smile, her beautiful brown eyes shining. "Yes, thank you, Stefan. I'm sure she'll appreciate it."

Stefan nodded back at her, having already decided he was going to pay Bonnie a visit at the hospital as soon as he could get away. He needed to compel her before she started telling the whole town that a vampire attacked her.

"Hey, Stefan. I need to ask you something," Blair called out to him, seeing him alone in the courtyard, sitting on a wooden lunch table. He was contemplating if he should sneak out right now to go to the hospital to compel Bonnie.

Stefan sighed, realizing that he couldn't ignore her in a such a pubic place but not really wanting to talk to her either. He turned around, anyway. "Now it's not a good time, Blair." He couldn't stop himself from checking her out, hoping he wasn't being too obvious. She was wearing a crop red top that showed off her generous bosom, her slim waist and her flat stomach, and a short, black skirt and high heels that made her long, toned legs stand out. Her skin looked so soft and smooth, it almost glowed – Stefan tried not to focus too much on the blood he could see running through the veins of her neck (and what a beautiful neck it was), but it was difficult, with the delicious smell of her blood reaching his nostrils. Still, it was her face that was her best asset, especially her eyes, they were so green they looked like emerald gems, especially now in the daylight. She was incredibly beautiful and sexy, and she knew it – her allure was magnetic, it was like trying to resist the force of gravity.

Stefan mentally shook his head and forced himself out of his Blair-induced-trance.

"It'll only take a minute." Blair replied, not seeming deterred in the least.

"Listen, I'm flattered by your attentions but, as I already told you, I'm not interested. I like Elena." Stefan said, deciding than being blunt was the best option. Girls like Blair weren't used to rejection.

Blair widened her eyes then laughed at him, actually laughed. Stefan couldn't help but feel a little offended. "Relax, Stefan. I'm not trying to hit on you. Ego much? I'm not a stalker. You like Elena, I got the message the first time. I just wanted to let you know that Mr. Tanner is probably going to ask you something on my behalf. You see, I'm doing a project about Mystic Falls during the Civil War and, since you're part of one of the Founding Families, I figured you – or your uncle, at least – might have the Salvatore journals. I wanted to ask your uncle if I could burrow them. Be warned, even if you say no to me, Mr. Tanner would probably force you to give them to me anyway, so let's just cut to the chase, shall we?"

Now Stefan felt panicked for another reason. She wanted to burrow the Salvatore journals, as in his father's, Giuseppe Salvatore's, journals? The ones in which his father recounted how he had killed his own children? No, he couldn't let her have them. What if she figured out about him and Damon?

"I'm sorry, Blair, but I don't think my uncle will let you burrow them."

Blair smiled sweetly at him. "Well, I figured you were going to say that but I'm still going to try. I'm going to go by the Boarding House this afternoon and talk to him. This conversation was just to give you a heads-up. You know, for courtesy's sake. Bye, Stefan!" She actually waved at him before she turned around and walked away.

"No, Blair…wait!" Stefan tried to call out to her but she ignored him. Stefan cursed. Yet another problem he had to resolve, somehow. Perhaps he would be forced to compel Blair once again, and Mr. Tanner as well, if he'd proved as insistent as Blair thought he might.

Blair and Caroline went to visit Bonnie at the hospital soon after lunch. Elena was already there and Bonnie was awake, so now the three of them were around Bonnie's bed, chatting and eating fruit jelly. Bonnie looked a little grey, she had deep shadows under her eyes and her neck wound was covered by a big, white bandage. At least she was alive, though, and she was going to be fine.

Blair felt a little nauseous every time she would look at Bonnie. It brought to mind her own attack, and that was something she didn't want to linger on. She had felt so helpless – it wasn't just about the pain, but about the total feeling of terror and powerlessness she had felt in that moment. She hated feeling powerless and helpless. But then, when she had woken up, she had been confused yes, but so relieved as well. She was alive – she was still alive somewhat. Her life wasn't over at 17 years old. She still had time. She still had the rest of her life to look forward to.

Bonnie would have more time too. That was what Blair decided to focus on. Not the fear, not the helplessness or the powerlessness, but that. Doing otherwise would drive her crazy.

"Well, I was talking to Grams," Bonnie was saying, "and she said the comet is a sign of impending doom. The last time it passed over Mystic Falls, there was lots of death. So much blood and carnage, it created a bed of paranormal activity." Bonnie's grandma was sort of obsessed with all things supernatural. She was a little bit of a nutjob – or maybe, she wasn't? Like Blair had recently discovered, supernatural things did exist, so maybe Grandma Bennett was unto something?

Caroline waved a hand in the air – the one not holding the teaspoon with which she was eating her jelly. "Yeah, and then you poured Grams another shot and she told you about the aliens. So, you and Stefan?" Caroline turned to Elena. "Have you done it yet? Did you even kiss?"

Elena shook her head. "No, we didn't kiss yet. And no, we definitely didn't do it yet. I met him only three days ago. It's too soon."

Blair shrugged. "Too soon for what? Why wait if you like him? It's not like you're a virgin anymore. I would have done it already if I was in your place. I bet he wants to. And, if he doesn't, he's a eunuch."

Elena rolled her eyes at Blair. "I know you would have, Blair. But for some of us sex is a big deal."

Blair smirked. "Hey, careful with the slut-shaming there. Anyway, it's a big deal for me too, you know? If I don't get orgasms I'm out of there. Better if you know it as soon as possible, it's what I always say."

They all laughed at that, even Elena.

Caroline wasn't done though. "Seriously, though, what is with the blockage? Just jump his bones already! Ok, it's easy. Boy likes girl, girl likes boy, sex!"

"Profound." Elena shook her head.

"No, really, Care is right. I think you're not desperate to jump his bones because you don't really know what you're missing. Matt wasn't that great in the sack, was he? You can tell me."

Elena blushed. "Shut up. It's not that. It was nice with him. I enjoyed it. It's just that there wasn't any spark. But that wasn't his fault. With Stefan…I want to make sure, this time."

Blair raised her hands. "Ok, fine. I'm certainly not going to pressure you to have sex if you're not ready. I still think you don't really know what you're missing, though. Hopefully you'll find out with Stefan. Still, be careful on waiting too long. Stefan might get bored, otherwise, and go look for someone else. You can never be too sure with these teenage boys."

Elena looked offended. "Stefan is not like that."

Blair actually rolled her eyes at her. "Every boy – every man – is like that. (Unless they're asexual, of course, but that's another story). They want sex, Elena. All of them. Even the 'nice guys' like Stefan. Trust me."

Elena huffed but she looked pensive all the same. A second later, she got up from the plastic chair she was sitting on.

"Where are you going?" Bonnie asked.

"Caroline's right." Elena said. "And so is Blair. It is easy. If I sit here long enough, I'll end up talking myself out of it instead of doing what I started the day saying what I was going to do."

"Okay. So, are you going to him now?"

"Yes." Elena replied, determination in her eyes.

Blair got up too. "Mind giving me a ride to the Salvatore Boarding House? I need to talk to Zach Salvatore about my history project."

Elena looked uncertain but she nodded anyway. "Bye Bonnie. Get well soon." Blair said, before turning to Caroline. "See you later at cheer tryouts, Care."

"Okay, bye!" Caroline said, always bubbly.

Elena said her goodbyes as well and then the two of them were in Elena's car, heading towards the Salvatore Boarding House.

Elena parked in the driveway of the Boarding House and they both got out of the car, mesmerized by the building in front of them. It was huge – a red bricked, two-story mansion, that extended for several hundred square meters, surrounded by woods on all sides.

Blair realized she had never been there before. Zach Salvatore was a man who tended to keep to himself, most of the time. She had lived in Mystic Falls all her life and she must have exchanged two words altogether in all that time – 'good morning' and 'goodbye', that one time she bumped into him at the local supermarket. That was it.

Elena walked to the front door and knocked but the door was already opened. She exchanged a look with Blair who shrugged her shoulders and made her way inside. Elena followed behind her.

"Stefan? Stefan?" Elena called out, but there was no answer.

Blair looked around, noticing the long corridors with the walls all covered in wood panel and all the furniture made in dark wood as well. There was also a large wooden staircase that led to the higher floor. It was really beautiful. Dark and a little forbidding, but beautiful.

A crow flew into the house, from the still open front door, making both Elena and Blair duck.

Really? Another crow? Blair couldn't help but think. Why were there so many crows all of a sudden?

Both Elena and Blair had turned around to follow the path of the crow so when they turned around again they found a man just standing there like he had always been there. Elena almost bumped into him.

Blair recognized him immediately and froze in place. What was he doing here?

"I...I'm sorry for barging in." Elena stuttered. "The door was...open." She turned around and pointed to the door…that was now closed, somehow? How?

The man didn't look surprised – by either the door or their presence there. Blair realized that she still didn't know his name.

"You must be Elena." The blue-eyed man – vampire – said, before introducing himself. "I'm Damon, Stefan's brother."

Wait, what? Brother? Was that a vampire thing, or were they really brothers? They didn't look all that alike. Blair's thoughts were spinning a mile a minute, and she couldn't help but notice that they were now in a house with a vampire that had, one, attacked and killed her, and, two, was the one responsible for all the other 'animal attacks' of the last few days. Blair had the sudden urge to scream at Elena to run but she refrained. How was she supposed to explain it to Elena, if she did?

"He didn't tell me he had a brother." Elena was answering, in the meantime.

"Well, Stefan's not one to brag." The vampire replied.

It looked like he was about to say something else, but Blair interjected, "actually, he did." She didn't know why she was talking. While she usually loved to be the center of attention, right now she would have preferred to be ignored.

The vampire – Damon – and Elena turned to look at her. It seemed the both of them had forgotten she was even there.

"He said that he had a sibling he didn't talk to." Blair continued, ignoring the feeling of awkwardness in the pit of her stomach. Or was it fear? she couldn't tell.

"Right," Elena muttered.

"I'm sorry, I didn't have the pleasure, Miss…?" Damon asked, turning his attention to her. If Blair didn't know any better, she would have bought this gentleman-like act.

Blair sent him a false smile in return. "Actually, we did. Not that I would expect you to remember. Who knows how many women you met in the exact same way…"

Damon smirked at her – he actually looked amused. "You're right, my bad. I do actually remember you. In fact, you were pretty unforgettable. I just didn't want to seem indelicate."

"Oh, nobody would ever think you were indelicate." Blair said with a raised eyebrow. "It's not like you just left me there, after."

"Well, what did you want me to do? It's not like I expected I would see you again." Damon was openly grinning now. Blair couldn't help but feel amused as well, because she knew very well how their entire conversation sounded like. Elena, in point of fact, went from looking confused to looking embarrassed.

"I'm sorry to interrupt," Elena interjected. "But I was hoping to see Stefan?"

Damon turned to smile at her – but the amusement hadn't faded from his eyes one bit. "Stefan is not here at the moment. But, please, come. Let's not just stand here in the hallway. I'm sure Stefan will be along any second." Then he turned to Blair again. "And you? Are you here to see Stefan too? I didn't know my brother was so popular with girls."

"Wasn't he always?" Blair asked him.

"Not really. Late bloomer, you see." Damon answered, in a conversational tone.

"Hum, that does strangely make sense." Blair replied. "He looks like the nerdy kid who became popular all of a sudden because he got attractive during the summer. I bet he's the broody, loner type. He does have that perpetually furrowed brow. And that hair…so Edward Cullen, of him."

"Oh, yes." Damon chuckled. "He spends hours in his room writing in his diary…sorry, journal."

Blair grinned. Okay, this is fun. Who knew homicidal vampires could actually be fun? Well, psychopaths could be fun too, she supposed. So, why not vampires?

"Does he play the piano too?" Blair couldn't help but ask.

"He does." Damon sent her a wink, looking more and more amused. "But, to be fair, that was our parents. They wanted Stefan and I to learn."

"Wow. This is your living room?" Elena asked in awe when they entered the parlor. Elena was right to be in awe, it looked amazing. It was practically as big as the entire second floor of the Gilbert house, all antique furniture, a stone fireplace, and tall windows that brightened the room considerably, in contrast with the hallway they were in before.

"Living room, parlor, Sotheby's auction." Damon replied. "It's a little kitschy for my taste."

"I disagree." Blair said. "This room has a lot of history. The entire building does. More than a century of it, in fact. It was built in 1914, wasn't it? After the original Salvatore manor was destroyed in a fire, I believe."

Damon raised both eyebrows at her, looking impressed. "Huh, beauty and brain. Lethal combination. Please, tell me you're not actually here to see my brother."

"No. I'm here to see your uncle, Zach? Is he here?"

"I'm sorry, no. He's not here. But perhaps I can help you with whatever you needed from him?"

Blair sent him a smirk. "You might. I was hoping to burrow the Salvatore's journals from the 1860's? I'm doing a history project about Mystic Falls during the American Civil War and those journals would be extremely useful."

"The Salvatore journals, huh?" He sent her a bit of a suspicious look. "Let me see what I can do." Then he turned his attention back to Elena, effectively dismissing her. Blair couldn't say she was particularly bothered by it. Talking with him had been fun, in a strange sort of way, but she wasn't keen on having too much of his attention on her, not right now, anyway. She did want to have a proper conversation with him, eventually, though – just the two of them, with no one around. So, they could talk honestly and plainly. She had so many questions to ask him. She hoped he would be willing to answer them.

"I see why my brother's so smitten." Damon was saying to Elena. Blair had probably missed some of their conversation but whatever. "It's about time. For a while there, I never thought he'd get over the last one. Nearly destroyed him."

"The last one?" Elena asked, a tremble in her voice.

"Yeah. Katherine, his girlfriend?" At Elena's blank look, Damon turned surprised. "Oh, you two haven't had the awkward exes conversation yet." He pretended to be embarrassed about bringing the subject up but he was clearly faking. Did he want to cause trouble between Stefan and Elena? Was that it?

"Nope." Elena said, pretending she wasn't upset but not fooling anyone.

"Oops. Well, I'm sure it'll come up now. Or maybe he didn't want to tell you because he didn't want you to think he was on the rebound. We all know how those relationships end." He was clearly needling her, but why? Why would he want to cause trouble between Elena and Stefan? Why would he care?

"You say it like every relationship is doomed to end." Elena said, in defense of her blossoming relationship.

Damon shrugged "I'm a fatalist. Hello, Stefan." He said all that in the same breath so it took a full second for the words to register. When they did Elena and Blair turned to the door. Stefan hadn't made a sound. Damon wasn't trying very hard to hide the fact that he was a vampire, was he?

"Elena." Stefan said to her, ignoring Blair completely. Blair raised her eyes to the ceiling. Could he be any more obvious? "I didn't know you were coming over."

Elena looked uncomfortable. Way to behave like a jerk, Stefan. "I know. I should have called, I just..."

"Oh, don't be silly." Damon interjected. He was clearly enjoying the tense atmosphere. He seemed to thrive in chaos, but that was probably not all that strange for a vampire. Or maybe it was simply a brotherly rivalry thing, maybe it had nothing to do with the two of them being vampires. "You're welcome any time. Isn't she, Stefan? You know, I should break out the family photo albums or some home movies. But...I have to warn you. He wasn't always such a looker."

Elena smiled at him, the smile Blair recognized as her Elena 'this is awkward but I still have to be polite' smile.

"Thank you for stopping by, Elena. Nice to see you." Stefan said, as still as a statue and with the expression to match.

Elena looked between Stefan and Damon, visibly uncomfortable. "Yeah, I should probably go. It was nice to meet you, Damon."

"Great meeting you, too, Elena." Damon said, kissing the back of Elena's hand like gentlemen used to do in the past. For a vampire, he could be extremely charming, or maybe that was the point. Perhaps, that was how he lured his victims. As if his good looks wouldn't be enough.

"Stefan? Stefan?" Elena called out to Stefan, who was blocking her way. Stefan moved aside but his eyes didn't stop staring at Damon for a second. Blair made to leave as well – since both brothers had decided to ignore her presence there – but Damon's voice stopped her in her tracks.

"And Blair." Damon turned to look at her, a smirk on his lips again. His so-very-blue eyes bored into hers, seemingly trying to convey some kind of message. "Forgive my brother's rudeness, I told you, he still doesn't know how to behave around women. Especially beautiful ones. You're welcome any time as well. Isn't she, Stefan?"

Stefan glared at Damon and didn't bother to answer.

Blair grinned. "I'm not sure Stefan would agree. He doesn't like me much. But thanks for the offer all the same, Damon."

"He doesn't like you?" Damon asked her, sounding scandalized at the very thought. Blair almost chuckled again. He could be so theatrical. "Well, that is news to me. In fact, I thought he liked you a great deal." There was a clear innuendo there that Blair didn't miss. Did he see them that night? "But perhaps I was mistaken."

Blair shrugged. "Well, your brother can be confusing. So, who knows what he really thinks? Well. I should go. Let me know about the journals, then."

"Will do." Damon said, taking Blair's hand as well and kissing it like he had done with Elena's. "I will see you soon, Blair, I'm sure." He added as a farewell. Almost the same words he had used yesterday night at the Grill. Was it a threat or an invitation?

Blair nodded and left the two brothers behind, joining Elena outside.

"Great gal, Elena. Whoo. She's got spunk." Damon said, just to irritate Stefan. "And Blair…huh…that girl is really the whole package. Hot, witty, smart. No wonder you're so conflicted. I would be too."

Damon felt almost sorry he had attacked her. It would have been a real shame if she had died. Though, he still couldn't explain it. Her heart had stopped. And yet, she was still alive. In fact, she had recovered miraculously from all that blood loss. Her neck didn't even have a scar. Was she some kind of supernatural creature? She wasn't a vampire, that much he knew, but perhaps she had the same ability to heal as vampires did. Just because Damon had lived 145 years as a vampire and had only met vampires and witches in his life, didn't mean other supernatural creatures didn't exist.

Her blood had tasted different, now that he thought about it. More potent, somehow. Like he was tasting all his favorite blood types, all at once. And the dreams…the very erotic, very vivid dreams he had of her that very same night – the night of the same day he had attacked her. While he still had her blood in his system. That had been peculiar to say the least; Damon didn't usually have erotic dreams of his victims – just because he was a vampire, didn't mean he suffered from necrophilia.

Blair Fell was a real mystery. A mystery Damon would enjoy uncover. He just needed to make sure Blair would keep silent about him being a vampire, but the fact that it had been three days and she still hadn't said anything made him hope that she would keep silent. Perhaps she hadn't said anything because she didn't want people to figure out her secret as well. That would make sense. Perhaps she would even turn out to be useful to him. She was a Fell, after all. With Zach being uncooperative to say the least, perhaps she could be his IN into the Council. Keep your enemies closer and all that.

"I'm not conflicted." Stefan said through gritted teeth, bringing Damon out of his thoughts. He pronounced the word as if it had left a bad taste in his mouth. He looked constipated, the poor guy. The animal diet didn't suit him in the least.

"Sure, you are. It's okay to admit it, Stefan. It's just the two of us." Damon peered at Stefan's face, noticing he looked even broodier than usual. "You look pooped, brother. What is it? Did you over-exert yourself? Found a bad batch of Bambi blood? Oh, no…let me guess…hospital."

Stefan glared at him. "Someone had to clean up your mess."

Damon sent him a smirk. "Well, were you successful? Did the powers of persuasion work? Remember, if you don't feed properly, none of those little tricks work right."

Stefan ignored his question. Instead, he asked, "how long was Elena here?"

"Were you worried, Stefan? Scared we may be doomed to repeat the past? But perhaps it won't be like last time. I predict a love square in our future, instead of the old, boring, love triangle. Wouldn't that be a thing?"

Stefan glared. "I told you to leave Elena out of this. And, for the last time, I'm not interested in Blair in anyway."

Damon shrugged. "Okay, so you won't mind if I have her for myself. She might be a fun distraction. After all, if you can play the 'high-school human' game, perhaps I can too. Find myself a human girlfriend, as well…"

"I'm not playing any game."

Damon scoffed at Stefan's predictable reply. He was so in denial, it would be funny if it weren't so pitiable. "Of course, you are. We both know the closest you'll ever get to humanity is when you rip it open and feed on it."

Stefan ignored everything Damon had just said – which was also predictable – and asked, instead, "what kind of game are you playing, Damon?"

Damon shrugged again, sending him another smirk. "Guess you'll just have to wait and see, won't you?"

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