Well Played Indeed
By for Pith.




It seemed only fitting that one year after the most infamous game of Truth or Dare that Meredith Sulez had ever played, the snow was again falling deep and heavy. Once more, they’d descended upon the cabin in the Rockies, reuniting to exchange gifts for Yule. The cabin was awash in the soft twinkle of multicolored lights and the thick scent of pine sap, their faces lit by firelight.

Ostensibly, the Secret Santa gift exchange had been chosen at random, but Meredith knew from the moment that Stefan pulled the icewine from its shimmering red wrapping that it’d been rigged from the start. She shot a gleeful glance at Damon, then peered over to where Matt sat with a hot flush racing across his cheeks. Stefan, for his part, looked thoroughly annoyed, but then again, that was pretty much par for the course for Stefan. His lips were set in a thin, tight line as he thanked his mysterious benefactor for his gift. Elena seemed oblivious enough, clearly assuming that only some sort of perverse Salvatore in-joke that could account for a vampire being gifted with a bottle of wine.

Not long after, Bonnie and Elena busied themselves with cleaning up the kitchen. Matt stood up, desperate to be anywhere but precisely where he was, and made excuses about getting more firewood from the shed. He looked like he couldn’t wait to thrust his burning face in a pile of snow while he was at it.

And so, in a pointed, low voice, Stefan asked the obvious. “Which one of you was it?”

Damon smirked, feigning the innocence of a lamb. “I’m sure I have no idea what you could be talking about, brother.” In a smooth, languid motion so typical of Damon, he pulled himself to his feet. “Now if the two of you will excuse me, I’m feeling a bit… peckish.” He glanced pointedly over at Bonnie, who was clearly only pretending to towel dry the freshly-washed mixing bowls.

Stefan’s eyes fell upon Meredith. She shrugged, a smile tugging at her lips. “I gave Bonnie the flavored lube.”

“You can’t be serious.”

“What? She hasn’t even tried mango yet. It completes her collection.” Meredith answered dryly.

Stefan pinched the bridge of his nose. “Meredith...”

“Maybe a little wine would loosen my tongue,” she teased. “I seem to remember it loosens all sorts of things.”

“I can’t even believe you right now.” He shook his head, pushing the bottle at her. “Here, if that’s what it takes, have at it.”

Meredith was grateful for the low-class lack of cork. The top twisted off easily and she took a swig straight from the bottle, mostly because she knew it would annoy Stefan even more. A gush of wine slid across her tongue, satisfyingly and cloyingly sweet. “Delicious,” she said, with relish, catching an escaped droplet with her tongue. “Just like I remembered. You’re sure you don’t want any?” She waggled her eyebrows at him suggestively.

He watched her sullenly, arms crossed, utterly unamused. “Does Damon know? Was it him? If you told Damon, I swear to--”

“Oooh! I know!” a diabolical smile lit up her face. She was thoroughly enjoying having Stefan’s full attention. Last year’s reunion had taught her she had quite the taste for power play. “Let’s play Truth or Dare. Then I’ll have to tell you the truth. It’s the rules.”

Stefan glanced over his shoulder. Matt had returned with the first armful of firewood, which seemed to be distracting Elena for the moment. Grabbing Meredith by the wrist, Stefan pulled her into the hallway and out of their view.

“Elena can’t ever know...” he started, his voice pleading.

“Truth or Dare?” Meredith interrupted.

He sighed. “You first.”

“Oooh, too late.” She chided, as she took another drink from the bottle, her eyes never leaving Stefan’s. “Truth. Or. Dare?”

“Wow,” he scoffed. “Wow. You’re actually going there.”

“Seems I am. You know how immature we mere mortals can be.” She was enjoying his exasperation entirely too much.

“Fine. I’ll play along with your game,” he answered, rolling his eyes impatiently. “I pick truth.”

“Hah!” she laughed. “I see you learned your lesson about dares.” Another swig from the bottle.

“Did you like kissing Matt?”

Stefan blinked. She watched his face closely as he processed her question, taken totally off-guard. “Uh.” He looked like someone who’d forgotten how to form words.

“You have to answer, it’s the rules.” She was absurdly pleased with herself for disarming him. She very nearly giggled.

Stefan exhaled, his expression softening as he chose his words. “Yes. I didn’t think I would, but then it was happening, and it felt good and… yes. It was different, but I liked it. So. Yes.” He made a gesture of exasperation. “There you have it. Truth or Dare, Meredith.”

“Dare.” She gave him her best faux-sunny smile.

“I dare you to tell me who gave me that bottle.”

“Doesn’t work that way, slick.” She took another drink, taunting him. The wine was starting to make her feel pleasantly buzzed, like maybe her blood was carbonated a little. She felt warmth creep over her cheeks. “You broke the rules. You lose a turn.”

Stefan gave her a smirk. “Tell you what. You just keep drinking that wine. I’ll come back in a little bit, and you’ll tell me anyway. You won’t be able to help yourself.”

“Ohhhh, humor me, Stefan.” She pushed the bottle at him. “Just one drink. For me? Please? You catch more flies with honey… or something. So I’m told.”

Stefan took the bottle from her. Not breaking eye contact, he raised it to his lips and drank deeply.

“So one last time. Truth or Dare?” she asked.

“Truth.” He handed her back the bottle, which was feeling lighter by the moment.

“I’ll give you your answer in exchange for one little kiss.”

Genuinely startled, Stefan laughed. “Really?” He shook his head at her, amused for once. “That’s not even a question, Miss Play-By-The-Rules.”

Her dark eyes glimmered in the low light. “Really,” she said. “Well you know, I’ve always wondered what the fuss was about with you.” She poked him in the chest. “So one kiss and I’ll tell you what I know. But you better make it good.”

“Promise?”

“Cross my heart, hope to die—“

Before she could even react, Stefan’s hands were in her hair, pulling her head back. He pressed his body against hers so she could feel the flat muscle of his abs beneath his shirt, the strength of his thighs as he pinned her beneath his weight. He kissed her hungrily, forcefully, claiming her lips entirely. She tasted the sweetness of the wine on his tongue and moved against him instinctively, digging her nails into his back and pressing herself into him just as hard.

When he pulled back, her legs felt like jelly, and she more than suspected it wasn’t all the wine’s doing. It was a good kiss, indeed.

“Well?” He asked.

Meredith sucked in a deep breath. “Damn.”

He’d certainly earned his answer. She shook her head to clear it, then met his eyes. “The truth is that I had nothing to do with the wine.”

“Fuck.” He exhaled. “Damon?”

Meredith shrugged. “I honestly don’t know.”

“Right,” he said. “But you won’t tell Elena?”

“Your secret’s safe with me. Scout’s honor.”

He held her gaze for a moment, then nodded, leaving her alone in the hallway with a lingering sweetness on her lips.

An hour later, Meredith sat in the glow of the tree, clutching the empty bottle in her lap. Elena had gone to bed, and Bonnie as well. Matt was stretched out before the fireplace, lost somewhere in that nebulous land between sleep and waking. Stefan was nowhere to be seen.

Damon dropped his weight down beside her. “Had enough?” He asked, tapping the bottle.

“No more to have,” she slurred, just a little. “Thank you for the wine. It’s delicious.”

Damon furrowed his brow at her, curiously. “What do you mean?” he asked.

“You gave it to Stefan to piss him off. Stefan gave it to me. So thank you.”

Damon looked genuinely confused. “I did no such thing. I gave Elena those boring birdwatching books. I thought you were responsible for the wine.”

Meredith’s eyebrows shot up, her eyes wide. “Then who…?”

The realization dawned when her eyes fell upon the only other person who could have possibly known. “Oh my god.”

Matt turned over in his sleep, his unruly blond hair falling across his brow. She could have sworn that there was just the slightest trace of a smile on his lips.

“Well played sir,” Damon laughed, in mock salute.

Meredith’s face split into a wide grin. “Matt Honeycutt, you magnificent bastard.” She joined Damon in his salute to Matt, this time with the empty bottle raised high. “Well played indeed.”
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