Something Like a Friend
Damon thought about sneaking into Lindsey's dream the next morning, but figured she deserved to get away from him at some point. As he showered, he pondered the night before. He was actually fairly surprised at himself. He hadn't intended to hold her like that, except as a source of warmth, and he certainly hadn't intended to kiss her. He was a little shocked he enjoyed it as much as he had. He wasn't sure what had changed, but if Lindsey were amenable, he was. But she probably wouldn't be, and really, he couldn't blame her. She didn't trust him – with good reason — and he had hurt her deeply with his initial comments about her appearance. It was a wonder she allowed him to touch her at all. That probably explained why she was hanging on the edge of the bed away from him this morning.
He toweled off and went into the bedroom to dress. Nothing spectacular in the way of clothing, but at least it all fit. He heard what sounded like an intake of breath and looked at Lindsey. She appeared to be sleeping, but he wasn't so sure. He heard her heartbeat pick up. Was she awake, or just dreaming? He walked around to her side of the bed and looked closely at her. He wasn't sure, until she stirred and half opened her eyes. "What is it?" she grumbled.
"Nothing," he answered.
"Then go…" and she stopped as she took in the sight of his completely naked body. She turned over. "Oh, good Lord. You need to put some clothes on."
He grinned. "I dunno. I thought about walking around in the altogether all day. Give our little observers a show."
If Damon thought walking around naked all day was a good idea, Lindsey would retire to the office for the day. She couldn't stand it, otherwise. However, knowing Damon to be absolutely contrary, she said, "Sure, sounds like a good idea. Just please remember to put a towel down on the sofa or kitchen chairs before you sit down. That sofa's leather."
"You've got a point. Plus, at my next 'evaluation,' they'd probably ask me about it, and I'd have to explain myself. Clothing it is."
Lindsey exhaled as quietly as she could, and grinned into her pillow, where he couldn't see. The easiest way to get Damon not to do something was to tell him to do it, with your blessing. That almost guaranteed he wouldn't.
He lay down next to her, dressed, thankfully. "Got any plans today?"
"Not really," she answered. "I'm just going to do what I've been doing, which is pretty close to nothing."
"I know the feeling. I'm bored out of my skull, and a bored vampire is usually not a good thing to have around."
"Computer's free," Lindsay said. "You can surf the net."
"Yeah, I could. But I have a better idea."
He leaned over to her and she instinctively backed up. "Come here, girly," he said taking her by the shoulders in a grip she couldn't loose herself from. Her eyes were wide and wary. He whispered in her ear, "I'm gonna hunt for the cameras in here, and get rid of them."
"What will they say?"
"I don't give a shit. I'm tired of being watched. They want to watch? They can do it in public places."
"How will you find them? I haven't seen them."
"I can feel and hear them. Electromagnetic fields." He started touring the room, and started finding cameras, one by one. When he had four miniature ones in hand, he started to crush them.
"Don't. That's destroying property. They said we couldn't destroy it, not that we couldn't disconnect it or move it around."
Damon's grin was diabolical. "You're good. Oh, are you ever good. There's another one in here, though. I can hear it humming."
Lindsey was still lying down and looked at the overhead light fixture and pointed.
He looked up too. "Tricky little bastards," he said. He stood on the bed, took the globe off the light bulb and found the other camera. "This is where the microphones were, too." He replaced the globe carefully. "Sickos. They had that camera positioned so they could watch whatever happens in this bed. Cocksucking voyeurs." He hopped to the floor and looked at all the hardware. "Now what?"
"Put it all in a ziploc bag and leave it on the coffee table. That way, they can't say you destroyed it, and maybe you can talk them into leaving the bedroom alone."
"Possibly, but at least they can't torture me for breaking their stuff. It's all intact – just inoperable. You are one smart cookie, sexy reporter girl." He grinned at her.
"Thanks," she said dryly. She would not, would not live off compliment crumbs from Damon Salvatore. It was crippling to what little self-esteem she had. He went to put the bag of cameras on the coffee table, and Lindsey grabbed clothes from the drawer on her side of the dresser and ran in the bathroom with them. She dressed and brushed her hair, then opened the door into the bedroom. Damon was standing right in the doorway. She stepped back. "Good grief. Give me some warning, why don't you?" She tried to edge by him, but he wasn't moving. He just stood there like a rock. "Excuse me," she said, giving him a little push, but he stayed in place, with that knowing leer on his face. "Excuse me, please," she said.
"Well, since you said the magic word," he answered, and moved just a fraction.
She glared at him. "What is it?"
"This is now the only room where we have some privacy."
"We need an escape plan."
Lindsey nodded. "I agree. What do you suggest?" She leaned against the bathroom door frame, and reminded herself: Damon goes by contraries. Show no interest in leaving the bathroom, and he'll move.
"Plan a couple of field trips and be extra good. Then on the third time, bang! We're outta there."
"Sounds promising. How do we get the field trips?"
"Still working on that. I may leave that in your capable hands."
"Mine?" She shrugged. "I'll see what I can come up with."
"I'll be interested in your ideas." He walked to the dresser and started rummaging through his clothes. Lindsey exited the bathroom as quickly as she could and went into the kitchen. She started the coffeemaker.
"Want some coffee?" she said, knowing Damon could hear her in the den.
"Sure," he said from the kitchen doorway.
She looked over at him. "How do you do that, anyway?"
"Move so I don't even hear you."
He grinned at her. "I'm the wind," he said, wiggling his eyebrows at her.
Lindsey shook her head. "Oh, good Lord."
He moved to the counter to stand next to her, leaning his elbows on it and looked at her.
"What?" she said warily.
He nudged her shoulder with his. "Why are you so suspicious of me?"
Her look was frankly disbelieving. "Have you met you? Put yourself in my shoes. Wouldn't you be suspicious of you?
He thought about that for a moment. "Probably." Then he gave her one of "those" grins. "But I'm trying to do better. You've gotta admit: I'm trying!"
She laughed and shook her head. "You are. You are trying. Thank you."
"Well, you're welcome." He gave her that leer again. "I'm not used to having to work this hard to get a woman to like me."
"No surprises there. But I think you've figured out I'm not most women. I'm a little different."
"You are that." Something in his tone made Lindsey glance at him quickly. He was looking intently at her. "So let me ask you something."
"What's that?" she answered, as she turned on the coffeemaker.
"Last night, how did you know when my fangs dropped?"
"I heard it."
Damon leaned his chin on his hand. "Really?"
"Really," she answered.
"So what did you hear?"
"It was a sort of crackling noise. I knew what it had to be. Only thing that made sense." She got two mugs from the cabinet and set them on the counter.
"You weren't afraid." It was a statement, not a question.
"No. You said you wouldn't hurt me and I believed you. You've had any number of opportunities to bite me. You haven't."
"Not because I haven't wanted to. I wasn't lying. Your blood smells terrific." He leaned in to her.
"Down, boy," she said, backing up. "Tell you what. If I should happen to cut myself accidentally, I'll let you know."
"Do that," he answered, his eyes glittering.
Lindsey rolled her eyes and sighed as she waited on the coffee to perk. "You're exasperating."
"Considering what some people have called me, I'll take that as a compliment," he answered.
Lindsey poured a cup of coffee for him. "Oh, hush." She took her own cup and went into the den.
Damon sighed himself. She still wasn't eating. He warmed two blood bags and downed those before he started on his coffee.
Damon stared moodily out the window. Not that there was anything to see except the roof of another building. From this angle, he couldn't even see the cars on the street below. He knew that had to be deliberate.
Lindsey had an apparently limitless capacity to read, and she was settled on the sofa with a book. Still, she looked up. "What is it?" she said.
"Bored. Like going out of my mind bored," he answered.
"Yeah, I know. I really wonder what they expected two adults to do with just a TV, some books and a computer. It's driving me crazy. I'd actually like to get outside and get some fresh air. That would be wonderful. At this point I'd take a Monopoly game."
"Even that. And as much as I hate Monopoly, that's saying something."
Lindsey grinned. "I wouldn't play Monopoly with you for anything. I know how you'd operate: buy Boardwalk and Park Place, put hotels on them, and just wait for everybody to land there and go broke paying the rent, you slumlord."
Damon laughed out loud at that. "Yep. Only way to play it."
Lindsey said, "I have an idea," and she picked up the phone. "Yes. Can you folks send us up some board games, like Trivial Pursuit, maybe a deck of cards, Chinese checkers -- something? Thank you so much." She hung up. "They said they would. Maybe we'll get something good."
"We can hope."
A couple of hours later, the door swung open and a large plastic bag sat in the doorway. Lindsey retrieved it. She lugged it to the coffee table. "Let's see what we've got. This bag is kind of heavy." She looked inside. "Here's a deck of regular cards, and Uno cards -- that's good -- and hey! Chinese checkers!" She pulled them out of the bag. "Some kind of trivia game, Scrabble, oh -- and a Scrabble dictionary -- and backgammon. I don't know how to play it. Do you?"
He nodded. "Yeah. My uncle and I played, and then I taught Stefan when he was old enough to learn. It's been a while. I'll have to read up on the rules. I'll teach you." He looked at the Chinese checkers game. "I don't think I've played that."
Lindsey grinned. "Then I'll teach you. We got a board when I was about six and my mom taught me to play. She was incredible. I only beat her once, and that was when I was an adult."
"So I can expect you to kick my ass in Chinese checkers," Damon said with a grin.
"And I'm expecting you to waste me in backgammon. So we're even."
Damon chuckled. "I'll take it easy on you. Not like I'm exactly on top of my game."
"Well, you want to start with something mindless like Uno?"
"Sure. Why not?"
Lindsey opened the packet and shuffled and dealt the cards. She turned over the top card. "Red." She organized the cards in her hand and nodded at Damon. "You go. I dealt."
He laid down a card and they began the game. When Damon was down to one card, Lindsey watched him like a hawk. She drew a card and then crowed, "You didn't call 'uno.' Draw two cards!"
"What! I did say it!"
"No, you didn't. Draw two."
Damon narrowed his eyes at her and drew the required cards. "I'll remember that."
"Yeah, yeah. Shut up and play."
Finally, he was down to two cards, and slapped one down, yelling, "Uno, dammit, uno!"
Lindsey nearly fell over she was laughing so hard, and Damon glared at her, then started to snicker and finally to laugh, himself. "This is so damn stupid," he said, still chuckling.
"Made you laugh, though. It was worth it."
"You, too. You up to teaching me Chinese checkers?"
"Sure." With a grin, she picked up the box and opened it. She set the board on the coffee table and got the marbles. "I'm red. What color do you want?"
"What else?" she said and gave him the bag. "O.K. The object of the game is for us to get our marbles out of the points on the star, and into the one across the way. Whoever gets all their marbles in first, wins." She went on to explain the rules and Damon looked a little dubiously at her.
"That's all there is to it?"
"That's it. But it is deceptively simple. I'll give you a hint: you have to think ahead."
As they played, Damon could see the strategy Lindsey was setting up, but couldn't quite figure out the counter move for it. She had her marbles all lined up in a row, and he wondered what her next move would be. When she jumped every marble in the line, and three of his, to land in his space, he looked at her, open-mouthed. "That can't be legal."
"It is." She handed him the rules and he looked over them, then at her.
"Unfair advantage. You've been playing this for years."
"Sore loser. I told you I learned when I was six. Besides, you could lift me up with one hand and throw me across the room, and you have fangs. I need one advantage! I'll take what I can get."
Much as Damon hated to admit it, Lindsey had a point. "O.K. But wait until we play backgammon."
Lindsey shrugged. "I am fully prepared to get my tail kicked. But you'll get better at Chinese checkers, I promise."
"Yeah. When we finish this game, let's level the playing field."
Lindsey nodded. "All right. Works for me."
About halfway through the game, Damon spelled his word, chuckling to himself. Lindsey looked at it and grinned. He sat back and started scoring the word.
"Challenge," Lindsey said.
"What? That's a word!"
"Not when it's misspelled, it's not," she calmly answered.
"'Disquiet' is a word."
"Yeah, it is. But 'disquite' is not. Unless you're dyslexic, which you're not."
Damon looked ready to blow a gasket. "You could have told me!"
"Why would I do that? You wouldn't have told me!"
"You're too damn competitive."
"And if that's not the pot calling the kettle black, I've never heard it." Lindsey was grinning at him.
He scowled at her. "How is it you're always catching me like this?"
"Because, Damon, I don't give you a pass for being good-looking. With other girls, you either compel them, they're a little dumb to begin with, or they play dumb so you'll hang around. I don't do that, so you're not used to having to use that brain of yours."
Damon opened his mouth to issue a stinging retort, but couldn't come up with anything to refute what she said. Finally, he said, "Well, hell. OK. How about I correct it and get half the score?"
"I can live with that," Lindsey said.
"You make it tough to 'co-exist peacefully' some days," he said.
"And you're a paragon of virtue, always. Let's see. I even think 'paragon' will fit." She placed the tiles on the board. "There. Wish it was a triple word score, but oh, well."
Damon ended up winning by 10 points and Lindsey said, "Hey. You spelled 'zoophage.' That's worth a win, all by itself."
"I'm smarter than I look," he smirked.
"Your intelligence was never in question, Damon. Only whether you were using it."
"Give it a rest, willya?"
"O.K.," she said cheerfully.
Damon gave her a disgusted look, then went into the kitchen for more bourbon. At least, these stupid games had dissipated some of her depression, and she was much more animated. Damon found himself liking this version of Lindsey very, very much. She was like an actual friend.
He heard the front door open while he was in the kitchen and when he went back into the den, Lindsey had another bag sitting in her lap.
"What's in that?"
"I called and asked for some movies yesterday. They just came."
Damon was immediately interested. "What did you get?"
"There's several. Check these out." She handed him a plastic bag.
Damon looked through the movies. "You're obviously a music nut," he said.
"Yeah, but it's good stuff!" she exclaimed. "Look. 'The Last Waltz.' 'Concert for George.' Have you seen it? Oh, it's great. 'Almost Famous,' 'Still Crazy' and 'Empire Records.' I promise you'll like them."
"All right. What do you want to see first?"
"I don't care. You pick."
He looked through the selection. "'Last Waltz'?"
"Suits me. Ever seen it?" He shook his head. "You'll like it. Martin Scorsese directed it."
"Really. How did I miss it?"
"I dunno, but it's great." She started the movie and could see Damon was entranced from the beginning, as soon as The Band clicked off the first song. They were sitting on the sofa and Lindsey noticed Damon completely forgot about his bourbon while they watched the movie.
When Levon Helm started singing, "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down," Damon's face changed and his eyes widened. Lindsey had always loved the song, but suddenly heard it for the first time from the perspective of someone who lived through it. She always thought that performance of the song was one of the finest ever, and when Damon reached for her hand, she saw tears in his eyes as he mouthed the words. Something about holding his hand through that particular song, two Southerners on the opposite sides of history, but still with a shared collective memory, cemented a bond between them. When the song ended, Damon stretched his arm to Lindsey, his eyes still suspiciously bright. She scooted next to him, and they sat close, his arm around her shoulders, and watched the rest of the movie. When the credits rolled, Damon sighed.
"Wow. That was incredible."
"It must have been," Lindsey teased him. "You didn't touch your bourbon."
He looked at the bottle in surprise. "I didn't. I didn't even want it. The music..."
"Music has a magic all its own, Damon. Didn't you know that?"
"It must if it can make me feel human for a couple of hours. How have I missed that movie all these years?"
"I don't know, but I'm really glad you enjoyed it so much," Lindsey answered.
"I did." He sat back on the sofa, and Lindsey, sensing he was processing some stuff, got up and went to the kitchen for some water.
Damon looked at Lindsey, who was watching a program on Public Television. She was still leaned into his side, as she had been since she resumed her seat on the sofa, and he felt a strange protectiveness. Maybe this was what having a real friend was like. He couldn't really remember.
"You're not afraid of me anymore." It was half question, half statement.
"No, I'm not," she answered. "It's still kind of weird being around you, but no, I'm not afraid of you."
Damon let that sink in. Well, it would be kind of weird being around a vampire, he supposed. Not like you ran into them every day, or every night, even. And a vampire living any length of time with a human was certainly a rarity. Usually, something bad happened to one of them.
As childish as it sounded, he was going to ask. "Do you like me, Lindsey?"
Where did that come from, Lindsey wondered. She looked up at Damon and his eyes were troubled. Bless his heart. When was the last time anyone just liked him as a person, she wondered. She smiled at him. "Yes, Damon. I like you."
"Yes. Really. You're an odd bird, but so am I." She grinned.
That got a chuckle. "How could you not be? Realistically. How could you be anything but an unusual person? C'mon."
Damon laughed this time. "I guess you're right. I wonder if you'd like Stefan more than you like me."
Lindsey shrugged. "Never having met him, I couldn't say. But I still like you."
They sat in silence for a few moments, then, "How did you know?" Damon said.
"Know how I felt when they played 'The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.' I looked in your eyes and you knew. You knew what was going through my mind. You understood. Somehow, you got it. How?"
She shrugged. "Empathy, I guess. One of my gifts as a writer is being able to put myself in someone else's place. I stood in your place for a minute. I've always had the knack of being able to crawl around inside someone's head. And you kind of opened up there. It was in your eyes and all over your face..." Her voice trailed off. "Wait a minute. You served, didn't you?"
He nodded. "Yeah. Cavalry."
"Well, that makes sense. You came from a wealthy family, right?"
"So you went in as an officer."
Damon nodded. "Second lieutenant. The only good thing about being a vampire in the South in 1864 was there was plenty to eat – for us. The humans were starving. Before I was turned, we were a little better off than some. We had a lot of woods in the area, and could shoot squirrels and the occasional deer for meat. But by the time we were turned, Stefan and I had the only whole pairs of shoes on the place. I had my cavalry boots, but I'd stolen them from a dead Yankee officer. I stole another pair of shoes from a dead soldier and gave them to Stefan. They were nearly new and they fit him. In town, they were eating rats to survive."
"Wow. I could see that song really hit something for you."
He raised an eyebrow. "So you're psychic?"
She snorted. "Not hardly. I'm just good at reading people, lame as it sounds. People tend to open up to me. The cashier at Wal-Mart, the guy coming into the newsroom with a picture of his grandkids -- you name it. I think I've just got that kind of face."
Damon looked into Lindsey's eyes. The sadness there disarmed him. Her eyes were deep-set, but beautiful, warm and brown, still with that underlying sadness, though. He would like to take that away. He didn't know why he felt so protective toward Lindsey, but maybe that's how friends felt about each other. "I like your face," he said.
"Well, thank you, Damon," she said with a chuckle. "I'd say I like your face too, but you and your ego can hardly fit through the door at the same time as it is," she teased him.
He grinned a little sheepishly, but said, "I'm being serious. But you're right. There's something about your eyes that makes me tell you things. I'm not sure what it is. I still like your face, though. You have a beautiful smile."
"Thank you. I appreciate it." Lindsey could feel a tenuous, if very real bond with this man. She ruffled his hair and stood up. "Think I'm going to see if I can beat the computer at solitaire."
He nodded and smiled at her. He heard her make her quiet way down the hall and heard the computer start the game. He wasn't sure how he felt about Lindsey. He really didn't have a point of reference in his long life for this.
Lindsey stared at the cards on the computer screen and thought about Damon. If he just acted like he did today all the time, it would make things so much easier. Maybe something as stupid as a song had helped them get past their mutual distrust and antagonism, though. Wouldn't that be a miracle? She had been earnestly praying for a breakthrough. Maybe this was the answer she'd been looking for.
After they went to bed, Damon asked again to hold her and she said he could. That was all he asked for, though. And even though Lindsey still didn't completely trust him, she certainly liked him much better than she did several days ago, and at least no longer feared him, and trusted him enough not to hurt her. It was a start.