i wish jeremy was willing to come outside with me and take pictures

You Know Better - Part 20 - The Dead Man

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Story Description: Peter and the reader develop a slow relationship.

Part Description: The next morning isn’t what you expect.

Warnings/Labels: And somehow we are back to no warnings… I’m a tease, aren’t I? @snipsnsnailsnwerewolftales

Approx. Word Count: 2800

A/N: Getting back into the swing after an awful start to the new year. I hope you guys are still interested! There’s still so much more to come.

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This isn’t the fully story but I just wanted to give you guys what I have written so far just so you know I’m actually writing :)


Stefan lay in bed, the sheet covering the lower half of his body, his torso exposed to the chilly air of the room. One arm was flung across his forehead and the other acted as a pillow for Caroline who lay next to him, panting and sweaty, a wide smile on her face.

                “I really needed that,” she said breathlessly. “You’re amazing.”

                Stefan removed his arm to look at her. He smiled. “Glad I could be of service.”

                She slid her hand onto his chest and then looked at him, her eyebrows furrowed. “Your heart rate’s steady.”

                He laughed. “Should it be erratic?”

                “No it’s just — we just finished having —” She pressed her lips together. “Is it me? Are you … bored? Do we need to, I don’t know, spice up our love life?”

           Alarm sparked in Stefan’s chest.

            “What?” he said. “No.” He propped himself up on his elbows and stared at him. “Of course not, why would you ask that?”

           Caroline looked at him, her mouth opening and closing like she was trying to think about what to say. “It’s just…”

           Stefan waited for her to finish.

“Never mind.” Caroline shook her head. “We should get ready, Damon and Elena will be here any minute.”

                She sat up, pressing the sheet against her chest, wrapping it around her body as she walked across the room to the bathroom. Stefan stayed in bed, rubbing his face with his hands. There was no reason for it, for why the excitement Caroline roused in him was tepid on good days, nonexistent on others.

It scared him, how distant from her he felt, and he tried to make up for it, tried to bring himself closer to her with the pleasure he made her feel, tried and failed to lose himself in that, open himself up in that. It would’ve been easy if it was just the sex, one part in their marriage to work on, build on, but it was everything, it was the days, the nights, everything in between, it was the sense of alienation Stefan felt, like he was drifting in this life she’d made for them without actively engaging in anything around them, it was —

           “Stefan, you should probably start getting ready,” Caroline called from the bathroom. “Damon and Elena will be here any minute.”

            Damon and Elena.  

It had been four months since he’d last seen Elena and it had been four weeks since he’d last spoken to her. They used to talk to each other daily: emails during work, calls after dinner, texts in between. And then it all stopped. Or well, she stopped it all. There was no warning, she just one day decided to stop returning any form of communication. Stefan tried not to dwell on it. There was nothing to dwell on. Their communication had been innocuous enough. She’d send him cat videos he rolled his eyes at, he’d send her music she scoffed at; they spoke about their days, how hard it was being an intern, how hard it was being a teacher. They’d talk about the movies she’d see, the movies he didn’t, message each other when they were bored, when things were slow.

Innocent. All of it.

Except for the fact Caroline didn’t know how often they talked. Except for the thrill Stefan got every time his phone vibrated with a notification, how he’d sometimes picture himself where Elena was, lying next to her, listening to her complain about the long hours she had to work. Stefan closed his eyes against the image and his gut soured with shame, guilt seized his lungs. They were in the past. They were done. They moved on. She was happy. He was happy. And they were happy without each other. Stefan repeated it in his head. Over and over. That was what this weekend would prove. They were happy.

He got up from the bed and walked into the bathroom.

 

“Dammit!”

            It was the third time Elena bumped against the roof of the car. She rubbed the back of her head and sighed. “I think it’s time to call a quits.”

            Damon looked up at her. “C’mon! Cosmo rates the car as the number 7 sexiest place to please your man.” He winked.

            “Oh yeah,” said Elena. “Concussions are totally sexy. And leg cramps.”

            They were more than halfway to Mystic Falls when Damon decided to pull the car over on an empty road. Elena humoured him with the fantasy, maybe it really was what they needed, the shift that would get them back on track. Except they were never really on track. They were always on fumes. That was the problem. One of them anyway.

            She bent her head as she dislodged herself from her position straddling Damon and flung herself back into the passenger’s seat, smoothing out the bottom of her dress. Damon sighed as he buckled his belt and eased his seat up from its reclined position.

“If you let us take my car instead of a rental then this wouldn’t have been an issue, you know.”

            “Your car uses up too much gas,” said Elena.

            He looked at her. “Are we OK?”

            “Yeah, why wouldn’t we be?”

Damon shrugged. “I don’t know.”

           Elena did. A month ago, she’d made a choice, she’d seized all communication with Stefan, and now she was miserable. And lonely. It irritated her as much as it ate away at her with guilt, that when she was talking to Stefan every day, she couldn’t focus on the life she had, the life she chose, the … the man she chose, but now that she’d stopped talking to him, she felt imprisoned by all of it. Speaking to him was how she survived her daily life and speaking to him was what made it clear that her daily life wasn’t what she wanted. Each choice left her with regret and it swallowed her whole with helplessness.  

           She looked over at Damon who was drumming his fingers on the steering wheel. She couldn’t say he never excited her. He had. That was why she chose him all those years ago. She wanted to know where the excitement would lead and by the time she realized it would lead here, wishing for something she had given up, she’d already made too many choices to salvage what she’d abandoned. Sex was usually what distracted her from the regret but the sex was only ever just sex and what she needed was something Damon couldn’t give her, something she willed herself to believe he did. She sighed and reached over to stroke the hair above Damon’s ear.

           “This weekend will be fun,” she said.

           “No, this weekend will be tolerable,” said Damon, starting the car. “Fun would’ve been you and me in Catalina, half-buzzed on margaritas and you wearing absolutely nothing.”

           Elena shook her head. “It’s been a while since we’ve come back home, it’ll be good to see everyone. Caroline and I have been coordinating for weeks.”

           Damon nodded his head. “Caroline,” he said. “That’s why you were so insistent on coming.”

           “Yeah,” said Elena. “And the school, I want to see how far along it’s coming, what Jeremy is like as a teacher. Bonnie is supposed to come back this weekend. It’ll be good to see Matt…”

           Damon stared at her.

           “What?” she asked. “Eyes on the road, Damon, we’re not vampires anymore, you have to be more careful when you drive.”

           He continued to look at her.

           “What?”

           “Nothing, just …” He turned to the front of the car. “Caroline, Jeremy, Bonnie and Matt. There’s no one else you want to see?”

           Elena pushed her mouth to the side in thought. “The twins,” she said. “I’m such a terrible godmother, of course I want to see the twins. And Alaric.”

           Damon nodded his head. “Right.”

           Elena smiled tightly.

“Tunes?” he asked.

           “Sure.” Elena plugged her phone into the stereo and pressed on the first song that popped up. Damon furrowed his eyebrows. “Since when did you listen to The Clash?”

           “Oh,” said Elena. “Uh, Stefan … he recommended this to me like years ago and I think I just added it to my playlist on a whim. I have a ton of stuff on there. Stuff you’ve recommended, Bonnie, Jer.”

           “Right,” said Damon.

           “What?”

           “Nothing.”

           “I was just saying.”

           “I got it.”

           They spent the rest of the drive in silence. Every once in a while Elena thought about taking Damon’s hand in hers but looked out the window instead. It would be good. To see him. To see them. Picture perfect family. She’d chosen Damon and he’d chosen Caroline and there was nothing wrong with either of their lives and the weekend would prove that. Then she’d stop thinking about it. She decided.

           It was another half an hour before they were on their old street. Elena took a deep breath in.

           “What is it?” said Damon.

           “Nothing, just nervous,” said Elena.

           “What would you have to be nervous about?”

           Elena looked at him. “Nothing.”

           “Right,” said Damon.

           “What?”

           He shook his head. “Nothing.”

           Damon pulled into the driveway of the Salvatore Mansion and Elena saw Stefan and Caroline standing outside, their arms around each other. Elena thought back to that moment in high school, when Stefan leant Matt his car to take Caroline for a drive and how she and Stefan watched them drive away, their arms around each other. It had felt so right then. It still did. Just the memory of it … but that was all it was, a memory. He did things like that with Caroline now. And she with Damon.

           He parked the car and then turned to Elena. “Ready?”

           She smiled. “Why wouldn’t I be?”