8. The Secret Kept
"My brother and I... aren't exactly on good terms," Stefan tried to explain to Elena's questioning face. She wouldn't let up, and Stefan was getting tired of talking of Damon.
"I guess it's just weird for me," Elena said," I've always been okay with Jeremy. I can't imagine being angry at him for so long." Wind blew her hair in her face and she moved it, wrapping herself more tightly in her sweater. It wasn't cold, at least not to Stefan, Elena just seemed more closed to Stefan today.
Elena was standing in the doorway of her house, an old building that Stefan had recognized from long ago with two stories and wide-framed windows. Stefan stood just outside, although Elena had offered him in. All he had wanted was to tell Elena something, then leave. He wasn't trying to be rude, just efficient. He didn't want Vanessa to find out, wasn't that the whole point?
"I can see that," he said, his mind wandering to last night, and how it changed everything. After he'd gotten home from the hospital, Stefan had felt guilty for not telling Vanessa about him. Damon had come back. He'd come into the boarding house and completely ruined everything. Elena came by earlier to speak to Stefan, and Damon had been there. Stefan was just glad he hadn't done anything to her. It wouldn't have been fair. Damon was always out to destroy him. Nor did Damon realize his brother had come to Mystic Falls to mend the past, and now he was trying to repeat it.
"He's still your brother, Stefan." Elena tilted her head against the doorframe. "How long did you say you haven't seen him for?"
"I didn't..." Stefan said indifferently, looking down. Fifteen years. He hadn't seen Damon in fifteen years. Until now. "I just needed to stop by to tell you to do me a favor."
"Oh- okay," Elena was taken by surprise, but was good at hiding it.
"You know Vanessa?"
"... yeah?" Elena said, unsure.
"Don't tell her." Stefan said.
"Tell her... tell her what?"
"About Damon. If you see her, if she asks, don't tell her." Stefan looked rushed, pained, even. Elena had so many questions, they showed right through her, but Stefan was obviously not in the mood. Elena had never seen such tension between brothers before today, and it scared her. Yes, Damon was handsome and charming, but she could tell that there was something wrong about him. Something under the surface.
And she was right.
There was a silence, and a crow could be heard in the distance. Stefan wondered vaguely if it was Damon's, and if it was listening in. It wouldn't have surprised him.
"... Why?" Elena asked after a few more moments.
"She's... not on good terms with him either."
"Oh..." Elena thought of the mysterious girl with the blue-green eyes and the dark hair. She was the type who protected who she was loyal to, which was what obviously made Stefan want to protect her. She looked strong, but something told Elena that she was much more vulnerable than that. Elena felt a pang for Vanessa, as well as a stab of uncalled for hatred towards Damon. How nice could a person be if they'd turned two people against them like that. "He must not be that great of a brother then..." she said without thinking.
"No. No, he's not." Stefan seemed relieved that Elena had said that. He looked down at the silver watch around his wrist and glared at it like it was an enemy. He looked back to Elena. "I'm sorry I had to put you in the middle of that," he said as he backed down the porch steps.
"I can't just lie, though, if she asks!"
"I know it sounds wrong of me, but please- do this for me, I really gotta go..."
"Wait, I don't-" but before she could ask another question, Stefan was gone.