title: the map is not the territory
pairing: damon gen-fic; a day in the life (/Elena; Caroline-Bonnie-Rebekah-- Damon and The Girls basically. That sounds like a band).
summary: Damon Salvatore, ladies and gentlemen.
a/n: written for the fairytale prompt table. (which, this is over five thousand words, what the fuck is happening?) Also, I'm so sorry, I've been slack with replying, I'll get to it asap, I swear, it's the never-ending and ever-increasing fic lengths that's killing me. And, I have an exam tomorrow (or today since it's 3:00 a.m.) Just, kill me, please.
warning: Damon is a bastard throughout and this is basically crack disguised as srs fic, negl. post 3x22 when everything's possibly settled a little.
disclaimer: disclaimed. I also don't own Taylor Swift, Kelly Clarkson, Placebo, Alice in Wonderland and anything referenced that you recognize basically. Image source.
upupa_epops's beautiful prompt, and technically, I suppose this should have been Elena!fic, but I've done her so much recently, that Damon kind of said 'screw it' and took over :s:
Even in the life of the damned undead, Elena chooses Stefan. About twenty times. Per day.
It's an interesting statistic and he's never really crunched the numbers on a calculator, but there's a pie chart at the back of his eyelids, which is less chart and more just a filled-in circle with a single name. It's colored in with green obviously, because that's his brother's favorite color.
He wonders if she knows that. Or if maybe it got lost somewhere between the war and blood and death and heroism. It's a complex thought, but then again, he's a complex guy.
She doesn't wear green much though, so maybe not. He's not an expert on the 18-year-old girl side of things that doesn't involve nakedness, but he thinks she'd have worn green a lot more if she'd known. Maybe he'll tell her.
And let her continue wearing red three days of the week. That's his favorite color by the way; blood red. But if you ask him, he’s not a cliché; he’s the original model for the various clichés he’s composed of.
Damon Salvatore, ladies and gentlemen.
She wears red a lot, but she doesn't know he loves her in it so there's no symbolism lost there. He also sort of loves her in all colors that are distinguishable to a higher functioning vampiric vision, so, well.
Maybe it's her favorite too. That would be symbolic in the sort of way that corresponds to a Taylor Swiftified version of an Epic Tragic Fairytale. Except not particularly epic or tragic or a fairytale. He has an unflinching ability of listening to Taylor Swift; it's a skill that would come in handy if compulsion and his devastatingly good looks didn't exist.
He takes the path of most resistance and least free will, of course. He's a monster, there's a reputation to keep.
He’s watching her out of the corner of his eye, and she’s pretending she doesn’t know he’s watching. Her hand lifts to push back her hair with clockwork regularity, the only sign that she’s aware of him. He’s good at reading her signs; he practically graduated with honors in the Elena Gilbert 401 Advanced Placement class.
She dusts the table and then dusts it again. The sudden visibility of all the invisible dust particles with the enhanced vision must be immense suckage while cleaning. He wonders if there are any vampire housekeepers.
“I want to see Jeremy,” she breaks in his thoughts like they’re in the middle of a conversation. Which he supposes would be on Seventeen’s 10 Ways To Know If You’re The Perfect Couple. Maybe he should just leave a couple of Seventeens lying around the boardinghouse to help fate in its inevitable course.
“Not a good idea,” he says casually, “unless you want to drain the annoying little git. Then it’s a good idea.”
She looks at him with a good semblance of outrage, “Don’t talk about him like that, he’s my brother.”
“Stefan’s my brother,” he counters, which is a fitting answer because that’s how he always talks about Stefan. Some may even say it’s a symbol of affection. It’s not a symbol of affection because Stefan is an annoying little git, but Damon never counters anything that might make him out to be a hero. Unless he’s doing the countering himself, but everyone knows heroes never admit they’re heroes, so it sort of works out on the scale of heroism.
“I’m more controlled now,” she says sharply, “more than…before.” He can see the shadow of the first man she sunk her teeth into in her clenched fists. Her eyes are haunted by it, and he’d tell her to get over it, but she’s just as good at fighting physically as he is now, so he just cuts his losses and doesn’t leave his mouth on autopilot to tell her she’s stupid and how much he worships her and how her plans always fail and how he’d always, always choose her and all those things which he seems to predictably repeat at regular intervals.
It’s the stupid, rash, magnified, martyr-complex that gives her an edge over his years in fights, and sometimes he fights to lose. That’s a secret.
He tears into another blood bag and pours it, watching her eyes start to water as she tries to reign in her fangs and fails.
“I don’t know,” he brings the bag to his lips, as she bites hers, hard, “what dictionary you learned the word ‘control’ from, but in the English language version of Earth Speak, that’s not it.”
She turns her head away, and he’s sorry he can’t be Stefan for her. Not too sorry, because then he’d have to keep a journal for all the outpourings of the vast ocean of his deep feelings, but sorry enough because he wants to kiss her and can’t.
“Whatever.” she says articulately, and sometimes he just feels old.
"What's your favorite color," he asks after a few minutes, because, why not.
"Why?" she counters, turning again, instantly on guard.
"Just," he shrugs, shoves his hand in his pocket and plays Guy Asking His Brother's Lover Her Favorite Color. He was on Broadway once. Just once because he hasn't yet mastered the innovative art of mass compulsion, if it exists. It's second on his ‘to do’ list after World Domination so he supposes he'll get round to it eventually.
It's actually fourth after saving Stefan and not managing to save Elena, but occasionally he likes to play roles in which his Man Card isn't absolutely invalid. Just to mix things up a little. Not Saving Elena wasn't exactly a part of his to-do list initially, but he'd honed the art of failure so spectacularly when it came to her that he just added a 'not' in front of the 'saving Elena' bit, because, what the hell. That way he wasn't failing, he was accomplishing.
And anyway, he'd probably damn her a lot faster than he could ever save her.
"Why?" she persists.
"It's just a question, jeez" he says, it’s not emblematic and metaphoric and a test of True Love, "you don't need to go crazy over it, Elena. Don’t answer if it bothers you that much."
She stares at him for a long second, obviously contemplating if her answer will make her accomplice in some nefarious scheme of his to prove that Global Warming doesn't actually exist till all the ice caps have melted and the world's about to end.
"Blue," she manages eventually, stretching the word, "it's blue."
She wears blue a lot too, actually. Possibly even more than she wears red. She doesn't wear red that often, come to think of it. Which he supposes is a lesson on perception and love-struck fools and fairytales of the original decadent French variety; take note. Of course it’s not red. He smiles slightly, which obviously irritates her even though he knows she wouldn't know the why of it herself.
“What’s your favorite color,” she snaps, the duster removing the dust from the table and displacing it to the space around, which is slightly amusing and reminds him she’s eighteen, annoyed and doing it only to give her hands something to do, because she’ll go crazy if she doesn’t take the focus away from the emptiness than only blood; warm, fresh and human, can fill.
She’s mostly asking because she hates for him to have any more parts of her than she does of him. Or any parts of her at all. Which is laughable because she has pretty much everything of his, and all he has is six degrees of separation.
“Black,” he lies, and it’s good and believable because hey, he learned from his sire, the best in the business, “it’s black.”
Because sometimes he wants more. Wants those parts of her which she doesn’t have of him. They’re there, those parts. Barely. But there.
“Figures,” she snorts, pointedly glaring at his clothes. She keeps her distance these days, unless his brother’s home. Then she stands close enough and knows she can resist. When they’re alone, she glares and snipes and clenches her hand like she’s afraid she might do something stupid like walk up to him and kiss him again. He may never let her go then. They both know that.
He picks his leather jacket off the couch and swings it over his shoulders.
“Where are you going,” she asks instantly. Don’t leave me, she doesn’t say, so he pretends he didn’t hear.
“Out,” he replies, shrugging on his jacket. He's not that good at the staying away deal, he's had less practice in it.
She nods slightly. Don’t leave me, she doesn’t say again.
He turns at the door, “I’ll say ‘hi’ to baby bro for you, princess.”
“Don’t call me that,” she says automatically, but she’s not looking at him anymore. Her longing eyes are fixed on the view outside the window.
He closes the door behind him, locking it, and knows she’s still standing there behind it, duster in hand.
“Blondie”, he acknowledges, with a slight tip of his glass, as she walks in.
The Mystic Grill is surprisingly full of people for a Tuesday afternoon, but then again it’s Mystic Falls. He’s not sure what sort of work anyone in this town does apart from hosting their Important As Fuck Town Council Events and then dying in them occasionally.
She scowls at him suspiciously. "Not now, Damon"
"But I haven't done anything," mock-innocence is a good look on him, cruel to be kind and all that jazz.
“You're talking to me, ergo you're planning something,” she says flatly, and he thinks he should be offended.
She orders her glass with a confidence that is inspiring, and then compels the bartender to allow it. So much for free will.
“How’s it going then, love,” he says, with a passable attempt at an accent.
She grips her glass tightly, “shut up.”
He doesn’t know everything, because the last thing he wants to do is hear an excruciatingly detailed analysis of Blondie’s wreck of a love-life, but he knows enough to know about the Original Dick and Teen Wolf hi-jinks and the witch’s betrayal or whatever. It’s sort of entertaining, in a Prime-Time Soap Opera-ish way, but he doubts she sees it in the same light.
“Did you kiss him,” he asks instead, for no particular reason he can discern. Maybe if he wrote songs about his feelings, he’d know himself better. But if he was the kind of guy who wrote songs about his feelings, he’d have stepped out into the sun and ended the misery a long time ago, “Tylaus or Klausler or whoever?”
He can almost see her debating if the question is sufficiently offensive enough to warrantee a chance of throwing her drink in his face. Apparently not, “yes,” she says tightly, her voice carrying an undercurrent of something close to desolation, which, well, he's a vampire, Super Sonic Hearing etc., “it’s none of your business. But yes, I did. I didn’t know.”
Of course you didn’t, he wants to snort, because hell, how could she. None of them did. But she obviously blames herself anyway. Placebo didn’t know half of it when they sang Teenage Angst. Eternal Teenage Angst is a bitch and a half.
“Did you sleep with him?” he asks bluntly.
She stills as much as someone who’s dead can, and she’s answering with angered reluctance, but still answering, so there’s that, “no.”
“Why not?” he asks, genuinely taken aback for a moment, because if he was an immoral, twisted bastard, or you know, himself, and was pulling a stunt like that, he’s have slept with the True Love of His Pathetic Undead Life. Maybe not if it was Elena, but Blondie wasn’t Klaus’s Elena. She couldn’t be.
“He didn’t—” she stops, and it strikes him she’s thought about it. Possibly over and over. “He didn’t.” she ends.
Maybe Blondie is Original Douchebag’s Elena. Who would’ve thunk it.
“The first time I kissed Elena, it was Katherine,” he says, staring into his glass, before he’s even realized he’s opened his mouth at all, “Katherine playing at Elena. Fooled me. Didn’t fool baby brother of course.”
Blondie looks at him uncertainly, like she can’t understand if it’s some weird bonding session over the mutual unfortunateness of their unaware kissage or he’s just pulling a fast one on her somehow.
She’s thinking about his words though, he knows, because he knows how her face looks scrunched up in thought. He remembers a lot from before. She probably does too.
Her face softens finally, because Blondie is an idiot and just as much love's bitch as this one guy he knows. She’s sorry, he can tell. She’s sorry even though she hates him. She’s sorry because she believes in true love, and she’s young enough for every passerby’s tale of woe to sound close enough to something in her life.
“That’s tough,” she says finally, because his feelings are the worst kept secret in town, everyone knows that.
"You understand me, Caroline,” he replies with dramatic emphasis, and he's a little pissed off, “it's probably a result of all the love we made. The mark lasts when it’s true love, you know, we formed a deeper connection."
She flinches like he's physically hit her, obviously regretting letting down her guard. If he doesn’t teach her as her sire, nobody will, “you bastard, how dare—”
“Sorry,” he says, interrupting, because hey, he's a bastard. He's related to Katherine by blood after all.
“You son of a w...hat,” she stops midway through her tirade of insults and glowers at him.
“Sorry,” he says, again, looking straight at her, till she forces her eyes off him and stares at the wall instead for two beats of a broken clock. He thinks that Good People on principle possibly don’t ever have that expression on their faces and never have their hearts broken and bodies bruised. But he’s pretty sure the ‘bloodsucking’ part of their existence knocks them off the karmic scale.
To her credit, she doesn't ask the obvious question, doesn't prolong her moments with him like she used to. She still substitutes 'witch' for 'bitch' while referencing people’s mothers, and stands like a seventeen year old girl, but she doesn't do that. Not with him. Not anymore.
For no particular reason he thinks of blonde hair and unfocused eyes and a wide smile. She's never going to love anyone with the kind of mad adoration that she did him. With bright possibilities and short red dresses and long days of summer. Her love has a bit of blood-red lust now, a little more fang, a taste of death, a pinch of the endless monotony of eternity.
He thinks he broke her smile a little. He's sorry for it sometimes on Sundays at twenty past four. Every third week.
“You're not forgiven.” she says briefly, draining her glass and getting up. She fails miserably at keeping her face expressionless; she’s far too expressive to ever quite manage it. She'll learn though, she has all of eternity to practice in front of the mirror. And she shares his blood, after all.
He tips his glass again in silent acceptance.
“I saved your life you know,” he puts in, because, why not.
She turns around, from where she’s reached halfway across the room in seconds, because Vampire Barbie's less doll and more Dracula these days, “So what,” she scoffs, “I'd save yours too, if I had to. It’s kind of what people do, Damon.”
It’s not what people do; he’s lived long enough to know that. But she’s Caroline Forbes and she’s never been people anyway. She doesn't really understand the game; she loses each time and she'll come back to lose again every single time. She shares his blood after all.
He watches the empty chair beside him and thinks something like thank you. Or, you know, not.
He walks down the streets she's disappeared round the corners of. The truth is, he doesn’t know where he’s going, so any place is just as good as the next. He inexplicably thinks of the Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland and that permanent look of 'I let her die' in Stefan’s eyes, and Elena staring out the window at the sun.
He lands up at the witch's door and knocks because, why not. Blondie’s already down in the garden by the sounds of it.
She opens the door and glares at him, and seriously, this is getting old; he’s not that bad. What has he ever done to her except inadvertently getting her grandmother killed and murdering her mother anyway?
Caroline's laugh floats in, drowning Abby’s voice. He knows the witch hears because she leans her head against the door and closes her eyes for a nanosecond.
“What do you want?” she asks categorically.
“You still haven’t made Elena’s ring,” he reminds her. He knows the reason why, agrees with it, but sometimes he does things he doesn’t have to do.
She looks at him like no word in any language could possibly convey how much of a moron she thinks he is, “I told you I’m not going to make her a ring, till she’s learnt to control the urges better. You know what happened last time.”
He thinks of wild dark hair and beautiful veined eyes and a bloodstained mouth. Yeah, he does.
“She’s not going to learn any control if you don’t provide the sort of atmosphere where she can learn it. She can’t learn to live in the sun, if she can’t go out in the sun.” Which is totally reasonable and in a while he’ll have convinced himself it’s the best idea. Damon can talk, Giuseppe used to say with a touch of scorn. Stefan writes, but Damon can talk. Thankfully for him talking increased in market value and the percentage of girls taking off their clothes on the basis of that down the decades.
Caroline’s laugh sounds again from the garden. Maybe he didn't break her smile after all.
"Just, not now, Damon". Bonnie looks old suddenly. Older than she is. She's going to grow older, while the other two live out their lives in frozen frames and plastic smiles. And she'll hate them. Hate them all for what they took from her, for constantly reminding her when all she wants to do is forget. Hate them for dying and making her live.
She’ll move away somewhere far probably. Go to college across the continent, get drunk one night and sleep with some guy with Jeremy's hair and regret it in the morning. But she’ll keep it in her memory anyway, long after she's forgotten the shade of Elena's eyes and Caroline's hair. And some days she’ll stop and remember at a flash of blonde that’s not even shades close to Blondie’s and talk compulsively to girls with dark eyes that have not an iota of Elena. She won’t look at photographs.
“I see Abby’s back,” he says slowly, it’s a sore topic, but he’s the Sore Topic sort of guy. It’s a bit like Hot Topic, except instead of clothes, there’s him scraping at the hidden bruises of barely-of-age girls. That metaphor totally works.
“Yes.” She looks at a point slightly left of his head.
“Blondie’s teaching her control ala Saint Stefan’s Tutorials then?”
Her mouth twists briefly, maybe in some cultures it’s a smile, “yes.”
"I dreamt about you," he says slowly, arbitrarily, “you were wearing—well, not much. But definitely leather. A lot of leather.”
She looks up at him with narrowed eyes, “shut up, Damon.”
“It was dark,” he continues, because sometimes he does things he doesn’t have to do, “but I know the hair and when I slipped my hand between your thighs—”
"I said shut up,” her voice is low, dangerous. It has the kind of power that he recognizes, the kind that she sometimes forgets.
“When Elena starts choosing my brother fifty times on an average, maybe you and I could replay—”
He’s kneeling down before he even registers it, the excruciating pain making its way through his bloodstream. It hurts like a bitch each time.
And stops just as suddenly as it had started. It always stops, which is why he supposes he never gets the moral he’s supposed to take out of these moments.
“If you say anything like that again, it'll be your funeral next time. Elena'll get over it eventually. I can't imagine you'd be too hard to get over.”
He's sort of impressed, really.
She's breathing hard, exhausted with the concentration, but her grip on the door is slack, the color rushing back to the knuckles that had been white with her death hold. The light is back in her eyes, even though anger’s paying the electricity bills.
Anger is better than nothing. Anything is better than nothing. You don't get to be a hundred and seventy one without answering some existential questions along the way. Baby bro would be so proud of him; they’re almost poetry, his thoughts. He should think of investing in a journal for his future memoirs; The Life and Times of the Eternal Stud. He’s not one to brag, but he’d definitely buy that.
“Get out,” she says flatly, moving to close the door.
“You needed that,” he points out. He can't hear Caroline's laughter anymore. The garden is alive with the companionable sounds of digging. It feels like someone else's home.
Her hand on the knob stills, as she stares at him for a beat. And then scoffs, “you really expect me to believe you sacrificed yourself on the altar of a splitting headache because I needed it?”
He takes longer than necessary to answer, “maybe,” he says finally. Maybe he did. Maybe he didn't. It's one of those unsolved mysteries of life that would lose their charm if someone solved them. They write books on this kind of stuff.
She snorts in derision at his answer, but her posture is uncertain. She looks younger than he can remember in her track pants and bed hair.
“When you know me, I’m actually a nice guy,” he offers, “quite heroic actually. Overshadowed by my younger brother’s image. Haven’t you read the prototype in books? What do they make you kids read in schools these days anyway?”
Her laughter is sudden, it has more than a tinge of bitterness, but it also has a tinge of life and it's definitely a laugh in most cultures.
“God, you're so delusional. And possibly certifiably insane. I’m guessing you think I should thank you or bow down to your existence or something.” He does, actually, and he can't see that it's particularly amusing but then he's not the last word on teenage girls, so.
He’s overstayed his welcome he knows, and normally he wouldn’t bother about that, but the altar’s still bloody with the fruits of his last maybe-sacrifice. He should be writing this stuff down for future generations.
“Damon,” she calls after his retreating back. He turns. Her hesitation is palpable. She starts to say something and stops.
“Say hi to Elena for me."
He nods and turns the corner.
“Sorry,” she says automatically, as she crashes into him, and inadvertently dates herself because seriously, who says sorry in the twenty-first century.
“Oh, it’s you,” she continues, looking up, and elevates her nose in a way that only Barbie-Klaus can, because it probably takes half a millennium to perfect.
“You should’ve left town,” he says laconically, “you kind of murdered Elena. Give me one good reason why I shouldn’t kill you right now.” Hey, he's not the mathematician of the family, but it seems like a pretty balanced equation.
She listlessly flips him over, his head hitting the concrete hard. Over the sounds of the cartoon birds, he can hear All American Boy’s care revving off in the opposite direction.
“That’s reasons one to hundred,” she says briefly, looking down at him with supreme disinterest, which he thinks is a high order insult from a girl who knows how good he is in the sack and killed the love of his life. In that order.
He chooses to remain on the ground, settling down with ease, he's used to this, “Matty Blue Eyes still refusing to fall into your lovin' arms, yeah?”
She twists her face up fiercely, “you don’t know anything about us.”
“I know there’s no ‘us’,” he points out, “which pretty much seems to be all there is to know.”
She doesn’t reply, but doesn’t walk away either. Rebekah never walks away from anyone who gives her the time of the day.
She's younger than they are, he knows. Younger than Elena or Bonnie or Caroline or all those girls wandering the halls of Mystic Falls High. They knew they had a year before the Real World and wore short red skirts and made up rhyming cheers like Caroline, lost their virginity to their high school sweethearts like Elena, and took up occult sciences as an extracurricular activity and knew they were different, like Bonnie. Thought they'd never grow old but waited for it anyway and crammed all the living into the year.
She thought she had eternity and never went to prom.
“You killed the girl he’s been in love with the Epic Love of a fairytale knight-in-shining-armor,” he says comfortably, “this isn’t unexpected. This is as far from unexpected as he wants to be from you.”
Wow, he’s a bastard. He doesn’t know if there’s a Nobel in the category yet, but there definitely should be.
“I am sick of that Petrova girl,” she viciously kicks a stone which probably flies into another dimension, “what the hell is so special about her anyway.”
“I don’t know,” he answers, even though it’s probably a rhetorical question, but, you know, whatever. And hey, he’s just the guy in love with the girl; he couldn’t be more of an unreliable narrator if he tried.
“And that blonde witch,” Rebekah continues, and he has the distinct feeling she’s speaking to herself but since he’s here on the ground, he might as well listen in, “she has Klaus in some sort of Slut Hold. She’s broken my brother in, and she never even tried.” I did, she doesn’t say, so he doesn’t hear.
For a brief moment he thinks this might be what it could have been like to have a younger sister.
“She’s good in bed,” he suggests, because hell, why not.
Miss Mystic Falls circa 1000 B.C. looks at him disdainfully, “he hasn’t slept with her because he’s in love with her. Are you even listening?”
Those things look pretty correlative to him, except he’s in love and he hasn’t slept with That Petrova Girl either. So there’s that. Which makes him Klaus in the scenario, and seriously, where is a nice, sharp piece of wood when you want one? It’s like ten thousand spoons when all you need is a knife. He also has an unflinching ability of listening to Alanis Morissette.
Although he has slept with what seems like every other Petrova girl, which, well, it’s a good thing he has no morals.
It's also a good thing he has no morals because otherwise the age thing might have put him off all the human women over the years. Come to think of it, how did Saint Stefan deal everyday with being a Humbert Humbert version eight point oh with extra pedophilia? Maybe he'd ask at dinner and watch his brother wrestle with his conscience. It wouldn’t quite be Hulk Hogan vs. The Rock, but it could make for some mildly amusing post-dinner entertainment.
“I’m wasting my time talking to you,” she elevates her nose again. Doesn’t move.
He gets up, brushing himself off, “as much fun as this hasn’t been—”
She sends him a glare, which, if looks could kill, he’d be dead and veiny and his memoirs would never make it to the market. Which would be a great loss to mankind.
“I’m leaving,” she announces, and makes as if to turn.
“You look hot today,” he says, “Matty Blue Eyes is an idiot for not trying out the goods.”
Which is appropriately misogynistic and complimentary and he thinks there’s a patent somewhere with his name on it.
She huffs at him in disbelief, even as her eyes light briefly, she’s queen of Looking For The Deeper Meaning, he knows.
“You’re a pig.” is all she says.
“Glad to be of service,” he tips off an imaginary hat, “maybe we should do this Whine Fest thing again three weeks from never.”
“Whatever,” she retorts, spinning around again, the unfamiliar colloquialism slipping off her tongue with an awkwardness that she strives to cover with practiced ease. She probably heard it for the first time three weeks ago.
He gives her time to be the first to walk away.
These dinners aren’t as uncomfortable as they should be, he thinks. He should be making them a lot more uncomfortable for the other two. Must be losing his Katherine-touch.
"You spilled some on the rug," he notes.
Elena looks down and exclaims in annoyance. She's not yet used to the hunger, the blood-lust, the constant ache, the eternal longing and the animal-like feeding. She still stains her lips and hands and clothes, and it’s raw and it’s kind of hot if he’s being honest, which, let’s face it, he rarely is.
"The Persian rug," he stresses, just in case she's missed it.
Stefan turns around, hiding a smile. And sure he can afford to smile; it’s not his rug, okay.
She stares down for a beat longer and then looks up at him, squarely meeting his gaze, “I’m sorry.”
It's a fairytale moment, he knows, his stained, expensive Persian rug. The moment of reckoning, of how much do you love this girl, of how much are you willing to fight for, etc., etc. This is traveling millions of miles, fighting the dragon, rescuing the princess, true love's kiss.
“It's okay,” he says, finally, which, he supposes makes the answer 'way too much' as always.
He breaks his gaze from the rug and raises the glass to his lips for another sip.