The Rule of Nine - Chapter 3 - TheNightMare (2023)

chapter text

The drive to school was uneventful, pointless as it was in Scarlet's case. Damon let them both stay home all day, making sure he didn't miss a thing when it came to tricking Caroline into impersonating his girlfriend. To be honest, Scarlet was sure Caroline would gladly agree, but was relieved that it was just that. She couldn't bear the thought that Caroline was Damon's human blood sac, and neither was sheGlitter. However, he made her wear a scarf all the time, which in Stefan's eyes gave the impression that he was feeding on her.

Damon stopped just outside the soccer field, where a small group of Caroline's cheering minions were waiting for them. She insisted that she couldn't miss practice, which didn't mean Damon would say no. The more often he appeared, the more questions Elena asked Stefan, which in turn provoked Stefan. It was a classic Salvatore bond. Elena and Bonnie stood to the side of the cheerleading squad and watched as Caroline got out of the car and gave Damon the much-awaited kiss before trudging over to join the other cheerleaders. She deliberately pushed her way between two friends before apologizing to her team.

"Sorry I'm late girls...I've been um busy." She sounded overly smug, but it was a compulsion to speak.

Scarlet climbed forward from Damon's blue convertible, much to his displeasure. He didn't like getting his seats dirty. Elena stared at the blue convertible as it pulled away, not sure what worried her more. Caroline would hang out with Damon, who seemed a little absent-minded, or Scarlet would wave at her with a sickly sweet smile on her face.

Scarlet had been rather boring for the rest of the day, having received a lesson from her father about missing school, snooping around Stefan's room with Damon and now relaxing with said brother in the living room. Damon relaxed with a glass of bourbon in one hand and a copy of Gone With the Wind in the other. He hasn't moved much in the last hour other than taking a sip and turning the page, giving Scarlet a chance to dress him up. Drawing always calmed her down and gave her something to focus on. It also helped that she had an art project and needed some conceptual ideas.

Are we going to the game next week? Scarlet looked at him as if she had been doing this for an hour, but he still hadn't moved. "We?" Damon's voice was filled with outrage. Scarlet tucked the pencil behind her ear, decided to take a break from drawing and continued. "Now why am I not cool enough?" Besides, I have good reasons Stefan signed up for the team." She could tell by the way Damon's eyebrow twitched that she had caught his attention, it was certainly something he could use to his advantage. "You've never been cool, and besides, I have plans." Damon's attention was still on his book, turning the page and trying to get Scarlet to drop the subject. But she knew she had it.

"That means you'll only torture Stefan. Great, you can be my passenger”

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"I could have sworn I bought you a car." Damon shook his head and placed the book on the table next to him without having to mark the page. He had read the classic thousands of times. "Okay, I'm driving. But it will cost you!” Scarlet looked at him thoughtfully. It's been a regular thing between the two over the years: when Scarlet wanted something from Damon, she often had to do something for him in return. It was never bad or dangerous. Usually it was something small, like spending the day somewhere with him or distracting his father when he was doing something he didn't like.

"What do you want?"

"Keep an eye on Stefan for me, I want to know what he's doing at school, what he's up to." It was a lot more than he usually asked for, but it wasn't anything she didn't want to do either.

"Fine, but that means you don't need Caroline." She suggested a counterattack, hoping to save her friend from imminent harm. She wasn't stupid, she knew Damon needed food but she just didn't want Caroline to have it.

"No, it still has its uses. But I promise I won't kill her when I'm done if it makes you feel better. It made her feel a little better. Damon was unpredictable even at the best of times, but when he made his promise, she found he kept it. “Make an appointment, oh! And you should know that Stefan was invited to Elena's house for dinner so that he could get to know her friends better. Caroline is a little upset that she wasn't invited. Scarlet saw Damon smile at her words and compared it to one of her own.

"I knew there was a reason you're my favorite red. I better prepare for this little evening. Let's just say, is grilled peach cobbler good? I don't want to be a terrible uninvited guest.” Scarlet could see the gears turning in Damon's head as he left the room. Tonight was supposed to be fun and unfortunately she wasn't allowed to be there to see it. She sighed to herself and pulled out her phone and texted Caroline, Damon probably hadn't warned her.

The rest of the week dragged on with nothing new or interesting happening in Mystic Falls, let alone in Stefan's life. Making this little deal with Damon seemed like a good idea at the time, but Scarlet found out just how boring and ordinary Stefan really was. He spent most of his time talking to Elena, taking Elena for a walk, giving Elena sticky looks, and then sneaking home to write about it in his journal before catching an unsuspecting squirrel for dinner.

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His week peaked when Tyler tried to make life difficult for him on Matt's behalf, but the longer it went on, the more Tyler seemed to take it personally. Even that wasn't interesting. It's safe to say that by the time Scarlet and Damon went to the soccer game, Scarlet had regrets about the deal. She stuck to the crappy side of the stick, at least Damon didn't bother Caroline as much, which was a small win.

When Damon entered the school grounds, he left and said he would watch from the shadows and keep him informed. So Scarlet was left alone, staying at the back of the large crowd that had formed around Mr. Tanner and his preparatory rally. Caroline and her minions were up front with the soccer team, Mr. Tanner was busy kissing Stefan's ass, much to Tyler's dismay. Scarlet watched from the sidelines as Tyler pushed his way through the crowd to his girlfriend, Vicky. She wasn't far from the junkies she was spending the summer with, and so was Jeremy. Scarlet wasn't entirely sure if this little tidbit was common knowledge, but she saw the couple a couple of times as they scanned the graveyard on their way home.

Something about the way Tyler was looking at Elena's little brother made Scarlet think things were about to take an interesting turn. Tyler pushed toward Jeremy with growing anger, fists clenched and a scowl on his face. Vicky tried to call him back and begged him to stop. She left without a trace.

Jeremy jumped off the truck he was sitting on and dropped a nearly empty glass bottle on the ground. Scarlet knew he was drunk by the way he was rocking on his feet. She approached the couple but kept a safe distance, willing to watch but not wanting to get involved in the inevitable argument. "Don't look down, you can have it when I'm done." Tyler grinned at Jeremy and pointed at his supposed girlfriend. Scarlet felt her jaw loosen slightly. She looked back at Vicky and wondered if she had heard. Jeremy wasted no time in responding, slapping Tyler's face and before she knew it, Scarlet was seated in the front row of the final WWE match in Mystic Falls. More and more people from the pre-rally took notice of this, began to move away from the crowd, and formed a new group around the couple. A brawl between the two saw them both battling in the mud, Tyler effortlessly making it to the top and taking the opportunity to hit Jeremy repeatedly on the head.

"He fell! Enough!" Super Stefan came to the aid of his girlfriend's little brother, edging towards the two combatants. Tyler was in the midst of an assassination attempt on Jeremy when Stefan grabbed his wrist. Quickly, Tyler turned and punched Stefan in the side, but Stefan didn't even bat an eyelid. Scarlet raised an eyebrow. It wasn't Stefan's style to be so reckless with his secret identity. Unbeknownst to Scarlet, Jeremy grabbed the broken bottle he had just thrown on the floor.

"JEREMY NO!" Elena cried out as she caught him trying to hit Tyler with a glass. Stefan acted quickly, shoving Tyler out of the way and taking the punch with his hand. Scarlet bit her lip and tried not to smile at Stefan. Elena clearly saw Stefan getting hit with glass. She couldn't wait to see how Stefan got out of this situation.

"Oops," Scarlet whispered, knowing Stefan could hear her. His eyes narrowed in her direction, his grimace frozen, his hand clenching as Elena finally stopped bothering her brother and turned to her boyfriend. She struggled against him to see his wound, but when he finally gave in and opened his hand, there was no wound to be seen, just a bloodstain on his hand where it had been.


"But... but I saw it..." Elena stammered and couldn't quite believe what she was seeing. "He missed, it's not my blood," Stefan lied, trying so hard not to reveal it. Scarlet smiled a lopsided grin from the pair's side, she wasn't going to let it get away from her. "It was close, Steffi, you almost ruined your character's hair!" She snorted playfully and wagged her finger. Elena scoffed and folded her arms across her chest in disbelief.

"How dare you joke! Stefan could really get hurt!” she admonished. "Please! Stefan is practically indestructible here, not even a Mack truck can beat him." Scarlet tapped Stefan's firm chest for emphasis. Elena's puzzled look was pleasant, Elena thought Scarlet was joking and downplaying the situation. She knew not that it wasn't the case."Scarlet fever." Stefan softly warned her, she just gave him a knowing grin, but gave in. "Thin." She sighed and slowly took a few cautious steps back. Timberwolves!” she yelled, gritting her teeth as she looked at Stefan and Elena before leaving to text Damon.

"I'm pretty sure she doesn't like me," Elena said quietly to Stefan, the dismay evident in her voice. "She just doesn't know you," he replied, trying to reassure her that Elena didn't believe him. If she really thought about it, Scarlet never got along with her. She always had a snide comment up her sleeve, but it wasn't just about Elena.

Scarlet was distracted by Damon from hanging out in the stands with Caroline. He texted her to meet him in the parking lot and said if she wanted to go home you should hurry. Sighing, Caroline said goodbye to her best friend, pouted, but waved at her friend anyway. Just outside the parking lot, she spotted Damon standing in the shadows, leaning against the wall of the boy's locker room. He waved at her. As she got closer, she overheard Stefan and Matt talking on the way out. Matt thanked Stefan for his help with Jeremy, yada yada yada. The blonde eventually ran back onto the field, leaving Stefan alone, which was the perfect time for Damon to intervene.

He started clapping, startling Stefan, who turned to face the dark duo hiding in the shadows. Damon took a step forward, his infamous grin fittingly on his face. "Isn't that nice? Stefan comes into the team, he makes friends.” he teased. "Everything's up, Team ra-ra going on, yes!" Scarlet giggled at this pathetic attempt to cheer Damon up, gently nudging her forward to cause trouble. Stefan watched the couple carefully, then shook his head and turned to leave.

"Not today, I'm done. With you!” he called over his shoulder.

In the blink of an eye, Damon was in front of him and Scarlet had to slowly catch up with the two, not that she would have been willing to walk between them, but front-row seats to the city's only vampire drama wasn't for her I've dreamed of. refuse quickly.

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"Nice trick with Elena, let me guess the verbena in the necklace?" Scarlet heard this for the first time and wondered what Damon had done to figure it out. Well, of course he tried to force her, but what for? "I'll admit I was surprised, it's been a while since anyone has been able to resist my compulsion."

"Oh, wasn't your charms enough, Damon?" Damon tilted his head to look past Stefan and gave Scarlet a mischievous look. "You have to lose touch."

"Where did you get it?" He pressed again and got back on track. "Is that important?" Stefan walked past Damon towards the field, his will to fight really gone. This made Scarlet less fun messing with him, she liked watching him get annoyed and frustrated.

"I just have to seduce her the old fashioned way." Damon mentally paused as he watched Stefan walk away from him. Scarlet couldn't help but express her contempt. She really hoped that Damon wasn't really interested in Elena and was just trying to piss off Stefan. She didn't need both uncles missing a boring brunette. "Or I could just eat it..." Damon paused in feigned thoughtfulness. Stefan paused and then turned to the Salvatore couple in front of him. Looking at both, he saw too many similarities for his liking and wished he had visited his niece more often at this point. Maybe then Damon wouldn't have such an impact on her.

"No, you won't hurt her. Stefan spoke softly and quietly, not waiting for people passing by to hear him. Damon had no such worries. "NO?"

"Because deep down there's a part of you that feels it, I was afraid you didn't have any humanity in you. That you may actually have become the monster you say you are.

"Who's faking?" Scarlet couldn't see Damon's face from where she was seated, but she could tell by the tone of his voice that he was glad to see Stefan sounding so defeated.


"Then kill me!" Stefan suddenly growled, provoking his brother to fight. Scarlet instinctively took a step back, not wanting to be caught between vampires having a fraternal argument. Especially after Damon threw Stefan around like a rag doll last time. "Well, I'm tempted," Damon tried to sound casual while jokingly pondering the matter. "No, you're not. You've had a lifetime to do this, and yet I live here and you still haunt me after a hundred and forty-five years. You've fallen in love with Scarlet for the past sixteen years, as if she's your little sister and we mustn't forget Katherine. You hate me because you loved her and you torment me because you still do. And that my brother is your humanity. Damon looked at Scarlet for a moment and took Stefan's words at face value.

"Salvatore!" Mr. Tanner called from the top of the walkway, his bad attitude and notebook in hand. - What the hell, we have a game to play! he demanded and approached the three. He glared at Scarlet as if it was her fault that his star player was late for his first game. "If that's my humanity, then what is it?" In an instant, Damon grabbed Mr. Tanner, ripped out his throat, and sucked the teacher dry before Scarlet could process what was happening in front of her. Damon dropped the body to the floor, blood running down his chin, and looked straight at Stefan.

"Everyone. Always. Everywhere". Damon then focused on Scarlet, running towards her and out of sight.


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