fallinangelz21 (fallinangelz21) wrote in evening_ground,
fallinangelz21
fallinangelz21
evening_ground

You Never Call Me When You're Sober - Oneshot

Title: You Never Call Me When You're Sober
Author: fallinangelz21
Fandom: The Vampire Diaries (tv show)
Pairing: Damon/Elena, Stefan/Elena
Rating: R
AN: In the middle of the night, Damon and Elena binge on booze and brutal honesty. Spoilers through 3x15 "All My Children."


You Never Call Me When You’re Sober

Shortly after midnight, someone burst through the front door of the Salvatore house with all of the subtlety of a freight train, jarring Damon out of an alcohol induced sleep. Lying diagonally across the bed on his stomach, he blinked at the open doorway of his bedroom and listened to the commotion below with mild interest. As a rule, he and Stefan never locked the front door. Except in rare cases, humans weren’t a threat and anybody – anything – determined enough to break in wouldn’t let a deadbolt stop them anyway.

It took him less than five seconds to recognize Elena’s clumsy attempts at stealth as she crossed the foyer into the living room. His chest tightened painfully with the knowledge that she was in his home, but he shoved the feeling aside, focusing on the bitter fact that their partnership in the Save Stefan Adventure was over.

“Fuck,” he groaned, turning his head away from the door and burying his face in the rumpled comforter. Stefan can babysit her, he thought darkly. He was done.

He was so…fucking done.

Utilizing his practiced control of his vampire senses, he tuned out the sounds of life from the first floor and willed himself back into peaceful oblivion. After dancing like a puppet for the Originals for the past few weeks, not to mention turning Abby Bennett, Damon figured he deserved a little peace. Being the bad guy was fun in the moment, but his months of playing the reluctant hero while his brother indulged in uncontrollable bloodlust had taken its toll. The conscience he’d so recently unearthed was as annoying as fuck.

Sleep eluded him, however, and he soon realized that he was listening intently to the noise from below. An irregular crackling and popping revealed that Elena had started a fire in the grate, while the unmistakable clinking of glass clued him in to the fact that not only had she broken into his house, she was stealing his liquor. The floorboards creaked as her footfalls thudded dully against the throw rug.

Then…silence.

Rather than using the quiet to drift back into slumber, he went against his better judgment and strained to catch the more minute sounds – the whisper of her breathing and the faint beat of her pulse. Seconds stretched into minutes as he waited for his brother to make an appearance, but Stefan never showed. More glass clinked as Elena evidently finished her first drink and poured another. Before he knew it, Damon’s entire world was hanging on Elena’s next move.

Typical,

he thought. Must be Thursday.

With a sigh that bordered on a growl, Damon pushed himself to his hands and knees and backed off of the bed. Heading for the bathroom, he stumbled, not from alcohol, but from the disorientation of moving too quickly after being motionless for so long. His neck whined in protest from the way he’d been lying and there was a throbbing behind his eyes that made it hard to see even with his keen eyesight. Christ. He almost felt human and every one of his 170 years.

Stripping off his clothes, he let them fall to the floor on his way to the shower. Stepping inside, he twisted the knob for the hot water and immediately stuck his head beneath the stream. The water quickly changed from lukewarm to scalding, filling the room with steam as Damon stood beneath the spray, letting it run down his body to swirl down the drain. Mercifully, the noise from the shower covered Elena’s movements below.

Maybe if he stayed there long enough, she’d go away.

He lost track of time as he stood there, head bowed, hands planted against the tiled wall, but his skin was waterlogged and the water cold when he finally turned it off and opened his eyes. His hangover was gone – it had disappeared quickly, a vampire perk he’d exploited a thousand times over the years – but his general state of pissed off hadn’t changed.

And like a buzzing fly that just wouldn’t go away, the sounds alerting him to Elena’s presence returned immediately.

Goddamn it all to fucking hell.

Scowling, he grabbed a towel and dried off before putting on fresh clothes, telling himself all the while that he wasn’t going to go downstairs and find out what she was doing there. He didn’t care if she was upset or in pain. He could love her and still not give a shit – life had forced him to perfect that façade long before he’d turned. As a vampire, he may have felt more, but he’d also developed an impressive ability at compartmentalization.

Curiosity, however, had been and always would be his downfall and he was still reassuring himself that he would not give in as he descended the staircase, his bare feet making no sound on the hardwood floor.

He approached the living room warily, the fire drawing his gaze before anything else. He didn’t see her at first, but as he lingered in the doorway, he caught sight of the back of her head. She was sitting on the floor, leaning against the couch as she stared at the fire. A glass of amber liquid dangled from her fingertips as she stretched her arms out and rested them on her bent knees. On the rug by her hip sat an open and empty decanter of what used to be whiskey. Damon raised his brows in grudging appreciation.

Whatever she was up to, she wasn’t fucking around.

“What the hell are you doing here?” he demanded without preamble, his harshly barked query shattering the silence.

Elena barely flinched, not bothering to look at him as she held her glass aloft and answered. “I’m celebrating. You’re not invited.”

An advantage of reverting back to form with Elena was the fact that her pointed barbs didn’t hurt as much. They were annoying, but since he went out of his way to piss her off, he expected them and they rolled off his back without bruising his ego – or his heart. Deciding it had been long enough since he’d had a drink, he made his way toward the bar, taking pains to give her a wide berth.

Over the past few months, Elena had built up her alcohol tolerance and developed a taste for scotch, so Damon was surprised to find that particular decanter untouched. The bourbon and the whiskey were gone, however, and he felt a mild pang of alarm over how much she’d consumed. Apparently, he could add contributing to the corruption of a minor to his list of offenses.

“If you throw up on the carpet, you’re cleaning it up,” he warned, pouring himself a generous helping of scotch.

“Whatever,” Elena mumbled, taking another sip from her half full glass. Intrigue outweighed self-preservation as Damon contemplated the possible causes of her drunken binge. Opting to stick around, he slowly made his way to the opposite couch, cutting between her and the fireplace while he watched her carefully. Her gaze never wavered as he crossed her line of sight, but she blinked once and he saw the sparkle of tears reflecting off her lashes.

Shit.

If she started crying, he was gone.

She stirred as he sat down on the couch and leaned back against the seat cushions, making it obvious he planned on staying awhile. Grimacing, she glanced at him briefly before turning back to the fire. “Go away, Damon.”

“No, this is my house,” he sneered as her gaze returned to him. “You’re the one breaking and entering.”

Elena stared at him, her drawn and expressionless features betraying nothing. After a moment, she looked down at her glass, tilting it so that the fire reflected off the faceted surface. “Ric notices stuff,” she stated simply. The silence built as Damon waited for her to explain that non sequitur. “I knew if I raided his liquor cabinet, he’d ask questions and go all parental on me.”

“And you don’t want him to worry,” he supplied dryly, sipping his scotch. “How sweet.”

“I don’t want him to care,” she clarified, her voice taking on a hard edge even as she let her head fall back against the arm of the couch. “Bad things happen to people who care about me.”

Damon snorted. “So, you brought your pity party here,” he guessed, raising a brow. “Fantastic.”

“I was hoping nobody would be home,” she replied, draining her glass and frowning at the empty decanter by her side. Planting her feet very deliberately on the floor, she used the couch for leverage as she stood. Despite the copious amount of alcohol in her system, she walked on steady feet to the bar and grabbed the scotch as she added bitterly. “I thought you’d be with Rebekah. Because, you know, she failed to kill me again today, so why not track her down for a consolation fuck. I’m sure she’d be more than willing.”

Damon grinned as Elena made her way back to the couch and sank heavily to the floor. Whomever had said jealousy was an ugly trait had never seen Elena Gilbert in this particular shade of green. It was gloriously satisfying to watch her fume as she carefully refilled her glass. He hadn’t sought Rebekah out specifically to get her into bed. He actually hadn’t sought her out at all, but it was turning into the one-night-stand that kept on giving and he couldn’t resist exploiting it further. Waiting until she brought the crystal tumbler to her lips and took a drink, he said nonchalantly. “She’s upstairs.”

Elena sputtered on her mouthful of scotch, shooting him a wide-eyed look of alarm before glaring daggers toward the stairs. Damon let her squirm for a moment, finishing his drink before he smirked. Wiping angrily at the alcohol that had dribbled down her chin, she looked at him accusingly. “You’re a dick.”

“And you’re so fucking easy,” he countered easily, leaning forward and reaching for the decanter. He felt the weight of her disdainful gaze, but by the time he settled back with a fresh drink, her anger had faded. To his annoyance, her eyes were glistening with tears as she once again rested her head against the couch and let it loll toward the fire.

“Please, go away, Damon,” she whispered, nearly begging. “I don’t have the energy to fight with you right now.”

“Tough,” he replied, making a show of getting more comfortable on the couch. “I want to know why you’re really here.”

“I told you, I’m celebrating.”

“What are you celebrating?”

“My survival at the expense of everybody else around me,” she snapped, her eyes glittering now with a sudden surge of anger.

So, she’s heard about Abby,

Damon thought as he easily withstood her heated glare. Idly, he wondered who’d bestowed that particular gem of knowledge upon her. Now that Stefan was back on animal blood it wouldn’t surprise Damon if he’d mounted his moral high horse and rode swiftly to share the news with Elena and ease his conscience. Then again, considering how much Bonnie hated him – and that hatred had no doubt reached epic levels in the past few hours – the little witch might have leapt at the chance to expound on his lack of humanity.

Not that I care,

he thought, recalling his own words to Elena just a few weeks ago. Estranged is bad, dead is worse.

If he had the choice to make again, Damon would snap Abby’s neck in a heartbeat.

“Let’s hear it,” he prompted, gesturing at Elena with his glass of scotch.

“Hear what?”

“Your big, angry speech,” he replied as if it were the most obvious thing in the world. “How I should have let you die rather than turn Abby. How I’m an unfeeling monster and you can’t believe you ever blah, blah, blah…” he cocked his head, studying her thoughtfully. “It must be impressive if you had to get wasted to work up the nerve to deliver it.”

Elena did her best to stake him with her eyes alone before scowling and dropping her gaze. Gulping her drink, she mumbled. “You should have let me die.”

“Here it comes,” he muttered, bracing himself despite his outwardly flippant attitude.

“I’m so tired of people getting hurt because of me,” she said, rolling the crystal tumbler between her palms. “I’m not worth it.”

Matter of opinion,

he thought, but kept his mouth shut. He’d wasted enough energy trying to explain that she was worth it to him.

“But I don’t have a big, angry speech, Damon,” she said as he started in genuine surprise. Elena lifted her tired gaze to his. “I’m not mad at you.”

Narrowing his eyes, he demanded suspiciously. “Why not?”

A wan smile curved her lips. “I think Bonnie probably hates you enough for the both of us.”

Damon rolled his eyes, ignoring the cautious relief coursing through the part of him that still cared, no matter how deeply he buried it.

“She hates me, too. Caroline wouldn’t even let me see her,” Elena continued, losing the rueful smile as her eyes took on a glassy, faraway look and he watched her go somewhere else. Damon’s temper flared with indignation, his instincts prompting him to leap to her defense. Turning Abby had been his choice, not Elena’s. He deserved – hell, he’d earned – the blame. “What did I expect, though, right? I’m like the plague, leaving a pile of bodies everywhere I go. I should come with a warning label – Friendship Will Cause Death and Destruction to Friends and Family.”

“That’s fucking bullshit,” he snapped.

Elena blinked, her focus returning at his harsh assessment. “What?”

“Your friends know exactly what they’re getting in to,” he reminded her. “They’ve always known, so quit acting like they’re helpless pawns that don’t have a choice.”

“You don’t understand,” she said, shaking her head.

“Oh, I understand,” he insisted, reminding himself that he wasn’t the hero anymore and no longer had to consider her delicate feelings. “You’ve been playing the same game since we met. You’ll put your life on the line for a freaking stranger off the street, but god forbid any of the people who actually love you try to do the same. Then it’s all guilt and tears and melodramatic bullshit instead of a simple thank you. You’re a coward, Elena. Not afraid to die, but too damn scared to live.”

She gaped at him as if he’d reached out and slapped her across the face. Damon waited for his own reaction, to feel guilt or shame for being so harsh, but there was no room around his sense of catharsis. He’d spent months couching the truth in gentle words and it felt good to be blunt again.

“You know what, Damon?” she finally said, swallowing the last gulp of scotch in her glass before struggling to her feet. Her eyes still sparkled with tears, but there was nothing sad in her fiery gaze. “Fuck you.”

Hiding his surprise at her outburst – honestly, he was shocked it had taken her this long to throw those two words at him – he took a sip of his drink. Appraising her with a long, appreciative look, he smirked. “Anytime.”

“God, you-you’re disgusting,” she sputtered as she shook her head. “Just forget it.” She nearly fell over as she reached for the decanter of scotch and Damon made no move to rush to her assistance. The alcohol she’d consumed was doing its work and her gait was even more unsteady than when he’d entered the room. The fire continued to crackle and spit as she widened her stance and very carefully attempted to refill her glass. Despite her best efforts, several drops spilled over the edge, dripping onto the carpet.

Damon watched as she licked the errant drops from her fingers, outwardly calm as he tried to ignore his unease over how much she’d been drinking. Spending time with him may have taught her a thing or two about holding her liquor, but she was still human and she still had human limitations. He’d never seen her like this before – he doubted anybody had – and despite his profound desire to stay out of it, he grudgingly admitted that he’d have to stop her eventually.

He hadn’t busted his ass this long to keep her alive just for her to die of alcohol poisoning.

Keeping a death grip on both the glass and the decanter, Elena began pacing unsteadily in front of the fire. She continued talking as if she’d never stopped. “It’s so easy for you to sit there and judge me, but you don’t know what it’s like. You don’t know how it feels to watch people die all around you – for you – just because you have magic blood that everybody wants,” she paused to take a drink, still pacing. Damon contemplated arguing with her and pointing out that as a vampire, he’d watched every human he’d ever known die, but he had to concede to her point on this one. He didn’t know what it was like to be at the center of a shit storm like the one they were currently fighting.

“Maybe you’re right, though,” she said, her eyes alight with a sudden realization as she grimaced at the scotch burning her throat. Gesturing wildly with the hand holding the tumbler and making more alcohol slosh over her fingers, she dramatically changed course. “Maybe I don’t get to be sad or feel sorry for myself, because…because this…this is all my fault, Damon. I should have listened to you.”

“That goes without saying,” he agreed, bracing his elbow on the arm of the couch. “What should you have listened to me about specifically?”

“The ball,” she replied immediately, resuming her pacing. “I should have stayed away. Far, far away from the ball and Esther and Elijah and all of my stupid, naive ideas,” she explained, knocking back the alcohol like it was water. “If I’d listened to you instead…instead of-.”

“Having Stefan snap my neck,” he supplied dryly, relishing the way the words and the memory they conjured made her cringe.

“None of this would have happened,” she continued. “I wouldn’t have let my conscience get to me. I wouldn’t have told Elijah. What the hell was I thinking? He betrayed us once, why did I think he’d be honorable this time?”

“Excellent question.”

“I wouldn’t have been taken hostage.” She rattled off the list of things that wouldn’t have happened as she moved faster. “You and Stefan wouldn’t have had to save me. Again. Rebekah wouldn’t have tried to set me on fire.”

That caught Damon’s attention. “She tried to what?”

Elena ignored him, spinning on her heel at the edge of the rug in front of the hearth. It bunched up, causing her to stumble, but momentum kept her moving forward and she quickly regained her balance. “And you wouldn’t have had to turn Abby. Bonnie and her mother would be able to get to know each other, to bond without either of them having to worry that Abby might get hungry and decide to snack on her daughter. See? It all goes back to me, Damon. Like always. My friends are always getting hurt because of me.”

Damon sighed, rubbing his forehead as the conversation came full circle. While it was refreshing to hear Elena accept her culpability rather than throw the blame and blanket accusations at him, he wished it were happening when she wasn’t drunk off her ass. The odds of her remembering any of this were slim to none.

He was probably going to get that big, angry speech when she sobered up.

Which was just great.

“Elena, as thrilling as this half hour has been, I think you’ve had enough,” he said, finishing his drink and setting it on the coffee table. Rising to his feet, he watched her turn awkwardly around again, her equilibrium suffering more and more with each passing second.

“Are you kidding me?” she demanded, laughing mirthlessly at the idea as she brought her glass to her lips in open defiance of his decree. Most of the alcohol had sloshed over the sides, spilling to the carpet, during her erratic pacing, but she still managed to gulp down a huge mouthful. Pointing at him with the hand holding the crystal tumbler, she shook her head in disbelief. “Damon Salvatore is trying to cut me off? Coming from you, Mr. Day Drunk, that’s hilarious.”

“Yeah, well, unlike you, I can’t actually drink myself to death,” he argued, bristling with annoyance. Why did she always have to make it so goddamn hard? He stepped closer, holding out his hand. “Give me the bottle.”

“No,” she shook her head vehemently, backing away from him as she struggled to pour herself another glass of scotch. A line appeared between her brows as she concentrated.

“If you think Bonnie’s pissed now, just imagine how irritated she’ll be if you die and I turned Abby for nothing,” he said, taking satisfaction in the pain that briefly crossed Elena’s features.

“Go to hell, Damon,” she muttered darkly.

Oh, I’m already there, baby,

he thought. Every fucking day I stay in this god-forsaken town wanting what I can’t have.

“Elena-.”

“Just…go away,” she begged again, borderline hysterical as she danced beyond his grasp. Clenching his jaw in frustration, he eyed the flames warily as she lurched precariously close to the open grate. “I told you I wasn’t mad at you and I apologized for not listening, what more do you wa-.”

Elena tripped on the edge of the rug, falling backwards directly toward the flames. The decanter of scotch slipped from her grasp and landed harmlessly on the thick carpet as Damon lunged for her. The crystal tumbler wasn’t so lucky, smashing against the stone grate into a million tiny pieces as he snaked an arm around her waist and hauled her out of harm’s way.

He’d only intended on preventing her fiery demise, but as they stumbled away from the flames, she grabbed his arms and held on tightly. The brush with third degree burns – if not death – had burned through a few shots worth of the alcohol ravaging her system and she stared over his shoulder with wide terrified eyes as her entire body trembled from the adrenaline surge. He could feel the rapid beating of her heart where he touched her. It was pounding so hard, he half expected to see it burst from her chest.

After a long moment of stunned silence, Elena’s gaze fell to the broken shards of glass and her shoulders slumped. Closing her eyes, she dropped her chin to her chest and murmured. “I’m so sorry.”

“For the glass?” Damon asked, glancing at the hearth. “Please, I break at least three of them a week. I should buy stock in Waterford.”

“Not for that,” she shook her head, keeping her eyes closed as she tightened her grip on his biceps. “I’m sorry for what I did at the ball.”

Jesus, how fucking drunk is she?

“Yeah, I know,” he replied, enunciating each word clearly as he tried to figure out the most subtle way to extricate himself from her grasp and back away. He hadn’t been this close to her, hadn’t touched her, since the ball and it made it difficult to remember that he’d given her up, let alone that he was supposed to be reverting back to form. “We’ve been over that already.”

“No, you-you don’t understand,” she insisted, a catch in her voice revealing tears just below the surface. She lifted her chin and opened her eyes, leveling him with a single glance that made it impossible to breathe. “I’m sorry for what I did. To you.”

Damon’s chest tightened. No. No, no, no, no, no, we are not doing this, he vowed. He could deal with her tears, her betrayal, her hate, but he couldn’t handle her compassion. “Don’t, Elena,” he murmured, the words coming out as little more than a whisper. He needed her to stop. Now. Before she said something that made him forget all of his plans to stay the hell away.

“I broke all of my own rules that night,” she continued sincerely, presenting him with a very convincing interpretation of a sober person. Her voice was soft, but steady – not a slurred word in sight as it wrapped around him and snuck past his defenses. “I used you and Stefan, played you against each other for my own agenda. I thought it was the right thing to do at the time, I promise it wasn’t like Katherine. I thought I was going to be sick when Stefan…snapped your neck.”

“Elena-,” he warned, louder this time as his hands settled lower on her hips and she inched closer.

“Please. Let me finish,” she interrupted, grabbing the front of his shirt and ruining what was left of his willpower. He wanted to hear what she had to say, even though he knew that in the end he would wind up in an even deeper world of pain than he was in already. He was such a masochist. “I knew you wouldn’t let me be alone with Esther and I thought it was what I had to do. But I should have trusted my instincts. As soon as Stefan agreed, I should have listened to that voice in my head that told me it was a bad idea.”

“I don’t care about that,” he promised truthfully. Dying the odd human death was annoying, but hardly life-altering. The headache hadn’t even lasted that long. As usual what had ripped him apart hadn’t been deeds, it had been words.

Elena’s words.

“I care,” she insisted, unconsciously curling her fingers into fists, as if she were trying to coax him closer. Her gaze once again strayed over his shoulder, staring at something deep within the flames that he doubted he’d see even if he turned around. “The past few months we’ve…we’ve built this thing between us, this trust and I…I ruined it. In one night I ruined everything. I lied to you. You’ve never lied to me, Damon. Not when it counts.”

“What are you talking about?” he pressed, wondering at this new revelation. She was no longer shaking quite so violently, but he could still feel small tremors racing down her spine.

“Maybe it wasn’t a lie exactly, but it wasn’t the truth,” she amended, her train of consciousness still meandering on a track he couldn’t quite follow. Her gaze shifted back to him, stunningly clear despite the amount of liquor she’d consumed. “You told me you loved me.”

Damon froze, the vice around his heart squeezing painfully as he stared at her, unable to look away. Not for the first time in his life, he was grateful that he didn’t actually have to breathe to function. “You told me that was a problem.”

Her face crumpled and for a second, he thought she was going to burst into tears. He could read the regret behind her eyes like lines on a page. “It’s not…I mean, maybe it is, but not in the way you think.”

“Then what way is it, Elena?” he asked, unable to keep the hard edge out of his voice. His hands locked around her waist and for a few moments, he succeeding in holding her at bay. “Explain it to me.”

“I care about you,” she confessed. “So much,” her gaze dropped to his mouth, lingering there long enough to make it clear that she wasn’t speaking in familial terms. She swayed toward him, her hands shifting as they began to creep up his shoulders. Damon hesitated, his already shaky willpower weakening further as her body brushed against his. Despite the time they’d spent together in the past few months, he’d been so careful not to touch her and now he remembered why. She felt so damn good in his arms, beneath his hands. They fit, like she’d been made for him to hold even though she’d never been his.

The heat from her skin bled through her clothes, sinking into him and reminding him of the last time they’d been alone so intimately. Their kiss on her front porch flashed vividly through his mind as he entertained the notion of ending this conversation with a repeat performance. If he gave in, if he kissed her, he knew she’d respond like she had that night and more. That at least, he didn’t doubt and she no longer tried to deny. The something that he’d sensed between them months ago was real and it had grown and changed while Stefan was gone into a solid connection – one that his little brother’s return hadn’t been able to destroy. The temptation was nearly irresistible as her fingers threaded through his hair, her nails lightly scrapping the skin at the nape of his neck. “I care about you,” she said again, still staring at his mouth. “So much more than I should…in ways that I shouldn’t.”

“Because you love Stefan,” he supplied, the bitter reality of her words slicing straight through him. He tried to release her, but she moved quickly, locking her arms around his neck and hanging on with all of her feeble human strength.

“It’s not that simple,” she insisted, as his hands fell to his sides and he looked away from her pleading gaze. “And it doesn’t change the fact that I…what I feel for you. But Stefan’s here, looking exactly like the boy I knew and sometimes there are moments when I think he could come back and I…I’m trying to figure it all out. Damon, look at me, please. Please?”

Why did she have to beg? I’m so fucking easy, he grumbled, resisting for all of three seconds before succumbing to the gentle pressure of her hands and turning back to her.

“I don’t want to hurt you,” Elena murmured, stroking his jaw with her thumbs and making him weak in the knees in a way he thought he’d outgrown. His arms found their way around her body, pulling her close once again. The last time they’d stood like this – the night Stefan had betrayed them to save Damon’s life – he’d been the one breaking barware and drinking too much. “And I know it’s not fair and that I should just stay away until I can figure out what the hell I’m doing, but I can’t. There’s so much happening and I don’t…I don’t know how to do this without you.”

Elena closed her eyes and leaned into him, pressing her forehead into the crook of his neck. “I’m sorry, Damon,” she said again, her breath a whisper against his skin. “For everything. If I had just kept my mouth shut, Esther’s plan would have worked and we’d be rid of Klaus. This whole Original-doppelganger mess would be over and you and Stefan would be free from me and all of my drama.”

Damon smiled faintly as he rested his cheek hesitantly against her crown, breathing in the scent of her shampoo and perfume and whatever other girly, feminine shit she used to render him completely useless. It would never happen. Witches, werewolves, Originals – it didn’t matter, he’d love her until someone finally staked his sorry ass and put an end to his unnaturally long life. The fire dwindled as he held her and her breathing evened out. Vaguely, he wondered if she’d fallen asleep as he mulled over her last words.

Until they figured out a way to kill Klaus, Elena would never be free of him. Not really. The Original could leave Mystic Falls, but the threat of him returning to drain more of her blood for his hybrids would remain to ruin her life. Stefan seemed sure that there was another way to kill Klaus, but Damon wasn’t convinced. It boggled the logical mind that there could be a legitimately unkillable creature out there, but as a vampire, Damon defied logic every day by simply existing.

Come on,

he chastised himself. He’d been dealing with vampires who were older and stronger than him for his entire existence and he’d survived by being smart.

By being smarter.

“You want to take on Klaus? You want to beat the villain, you’ve got to be smarter.”

Damon started, letting his own words wash over him as he held Elena in his arms and the answer suddenly became so very clear.

Son of a bitch.

“Speaking of our Original problem…Stefan and I met with Elijah and Klaus,” he said, breaking the peace and quiet as he slid a hand up her back and buried it within the silky locks of her long hair. He wanted to hold onto the moment as long as he could because when she heard what he had to say it would be the last time she let him within five feet of her. “They offered us a deal. Klaus would keep you safe if Stefan and I left Mystic Falls.”

“Why would he do that?” she asked, lifting her head to frown at him.

“He said he wanted to see you live a normal life,” Damon explained, his heart twisting painfully with the knowledge that she’d never have that with him. Bad guy or not, he was helpless against the urge to smooth her disheveled hair away from her tear stained face as he continued. “Get married, have a house with a white picket fence, a couple of dogs…kids.”

Elena shook her head. “Why the hell would he care? I’m nothing to him, just a blood source for his hybrids.”

“You’re more than that,” he pointed out, studying her carefully to see if she’d understand before he spelled it out. Under more sober circumstances, she might have. “You’re the doppelganger. Your kids will have kids and so on until one day, a couple hundred years from now…”

“There’ll…be another one,” she surmised, her eyes widening in horror at the consequence he doubted she’d ever considered. With a lifespan like Klaus’s, five hundred years was nothing, the blink of an eye. The cycle could continue forever and he’d just keep creating his hybrid comrades until the end of time. Tears filled her eyes yet again, even as she set her jaw defiantly. “Well, then…I won’t have kids.”

Damon raised a brow skeptically. “You really think that’s going to work? You just deciding not to do something will make Klaus shrug and call it a day on his thousand year master plan?”

“Yes,” she insisted, unlocking her hands from behind his neck and sliding them down his arms. “It’s not like Klaus can force me to have children.” Elena turned red as the words slipped past her lips and doubt immediately began to creep into her eyes. “I mean, he…he-wouldn’t-.”

“Klaus gets creative when he’s desperate,” he said vaguely, knowing full well that if Elena wouldn’t do what the Original wanted, he’d resort to force – the method wouldn’t matter because the end result would be the same. One way or another Elena would give birth and continue the doppelganger bloodline.

“Oh, god,” she cried, bringing a hand to her mouth as she backed out of his grasp. Her skin was unnaturally pale and for a moment he wondered if she really was going to be sick. Stumbling into the far couch, she leaned heavily against it and wrapped her arms protectively around her stomach. “It’s never going to be over, is it?” she asked, looking at him with an unspoken, desperate need to prove him wrong. “It was stupid to even try.”

“No, there’s a way,” he insisted before hesitating and taking the long way around. “Klaus wants Stefan and I gone because he thinks that one day one of us will turn you.”

“You wouldn’t do that,” she argued immediately, but he could see in her eyes that she didn’t completely believe it. He wouldn’t turn her today, or tomorrow, or even any day in the near future, but there would come a time, a situation, that called for something drastic and he might not have the strength to let her die.

“Stefan wouldn’t…” she fell silent at his pointed look. Not three weeks ago, Stefan had proven that he most certainly would.

“That’s not the point, Elena,” he said with a hint of frustration. Why am I even telling her this? She would never take this route, not even if it meant putting an end to the hybrids and the entire doppelganger curse for all time. She didn’t want to be a vampire. “The point is that Klaus needs you to be human. If you turn into a vampire before you have any children, then it’s all over. No more hybrids. No more doppelgangers. Klaus would lose and you’d be free.”

“Damon, I can’t make that choice,” she insisted, looking at him aghast. “Klaus killed Katherine’s entire family after she turned herself and she’d had a child. If I turned now, I’d be signing everybody’s death warrants – Caroline’s, Bonnie’s, Ric’s…yours. He’d probably destroy the entire town.”

“I know. You’re right,” he readily agreed, not entirely perturbed by the idea of Mystic Falls being wiped off the map. “It’s one of those shitty ‘greater good’ choices that suck in the moment, but ultimately…” he let the thought trail off with a shrug, leaving Elena to grapple with the fates of future generations of Gilberts. If she stayed human, they’d be hunted down and drained for their blood by an immortal monster.

If she turned into a vampire, they’d never exist at all.

“Katherine was alone,” he continued. “She wasn’t prepared for the retaliation. You – we – would be. You’d finally be strong enough to take care of yourself and we could plan, find a way to protect - .”

“Why are you telling me this?” she demanded.

“Because you wanted the truth,” he explained, the idea of Klaus breeding her like some kind of prized mare making his stomach turn. Crossing the Persian rug silently on his bare feet, he stopped a few paces away from her. “You said I always gave it to you. Well… this is it.”

Stricken, Elena gaped at him silently for a long moment before tearing her gaze away to stare at the dying embers in the fireplace. Chewing on her bottom lip, she looked so lost that Damon wanted nothing more than to take her back into his arms and protect her from everything – himself included. This was too much for an eighteen year-old girl to deal with alone. It was almost too much for a one-hundred and seventy year-old vampire to deal with.

“If I said yes,” she began, glancing at him out of the corner of her eye. “Would you do it?”

The question surprised the hell out of him, making his world shrink until all he could see was her. The idea was enticing…seductive. He’d never sired anybody like Klaus had with Tyler, never felt any familial bond with Vicky, Caroline or Isobel and highly doubted he would with Abby. He’d turned a handful of humans over the decades without giving much thought to a connection, but with Elena…

With her, he knew it would be different.

Indulging in the fantasy for a moment, he imagined her drinking from him, her lips coming away from the gash in his wrist, red with his blood. She’d hate the taste and look at him with fear of what was to come, but she would look at him. Look to him. She’d hold her breath while he framed her face with his hands and then he’d make it quick and painless. One snap and she’d crumple into his arms. He’d wait for her to wake up, maybe carry her lifeless body to his room so Stefan wouldn’t find her and flip out over what he’d done. When she’d finally open her eyes and look at him for the first time as a vampire, he’d know it was his blood that had made it possible. Whatever happened between the three of them, that was something that would always be his and Elena’s. Theirs.

Something Stefan could never take it away.

But she had to be sure. He’d never do it unless he knew it was what she wanted, no matter how tempting the idea. Crossing his arms, he mimicked her stance and nodded. “If that’s what you want.”

Elena relaxed a little, licking her lips as she asked shyly. “Does it…would it…hurt?”

“You wouldn’t feel a thing,” he vowed, taking another step closer. “I promise.”

They stared at each other, the silence stretching out between them and growing bigger with each passing second. Damon had long since forgotten that he’d given her up to his brother and reverted to being the bad guy. He’d forgotten the ball and Elena’s duplicity. He’d forgotten Abby and the fact that Bonnie was probably going to try to brain whammy him into the next life.

All he saw, all he knew, was Elena – standing before him and contemplating forever at his hand.

The front door opened abruptly, shattering the moment as they both turned toward the sound. Stefan appeared a second later, pausing at the threshold of the living room the moment he laid eyes on them. Elena started in surprise, pushing away from the couch and turning her back to the fire. The expression of guilt etched onto her features was as predictable as it was heartbreaking. Damon didn’t even have a chance to consider where the hell his brother had been all evening before the accusations began to fly.

“What’s going on?” Stefan asked as he took in the tear-stained flush of Elena’s cheeks. He gave Damon the briefest glance, his mouth settling in a grim line as he noticed the decanter of scotch lying on its side on the rug and the shattered remains of the crystal glass in the hearth. His gaze turned hard and critical as he crossed his arms and glared at his brother. “What’d you do, Damon?”

So fucking predictable.

“I didn’t do anything,” he scoffed.

“Stefan, it’s nothing,” Elena rushed to explain, eager as always to soothe his brother’s jealous pride. Damon wondered if she even realized when she was doing it. They hadn’t done anything, hadn’t even planned on doing anything, and yet she was practically begging Stefan not to be upset.

“It sure doesn’t look like nothing,” Stefan observed, his dangerously calm voice masking his rising temper. “Elena’s been crying.”

“So, naturally, you assume that’s my fault,” Damon sneered.

“It is your forte.”

“Sure it was. Before,” he countered with a casual shrug. “But your latest relapse has tipped the scales. You’re the one causing the tears, Stefan. I’m the one providing the shoulder to cry on.”

Stefan’s attempt at a smirk was more of a grimace and Damon knew his barb had hit the mark. A split-second later, his brother lunged for his throat, losing control in a sudden burst of rage.

“Stefan!” Elena shrieked as he grabbed Damon by the throat and tried to hurl him into the stone fireplace. The surprise of the attack pushed Damon back a few feet, but with animal blood running through his system, Stefan lacked the strength to overpower him. Locking his hands around his brother’s wrists, Damon wrenched them away just as Elena wedged herself between them.

Placing a hand on both of their chests, she physically pushed them apart. “Stop it, both of you! Damon didn’t do anything, Stefan. Don’t be ridiculous.”

“Don’t mind him, Elena,” Damon said, glaring at Stefan and continuing without thought. “He always gets cranky when he goes back on his diet.

Elena’s head whipped around to face Damon, her eyes wide with surprise as he realized what he’d just revealed. After staring at him for a moment, she turned back to Stefan. “Diet? Is that true? I mean…does that mean you’ve…gone back to animal blood?”

Hope, raw and vulnerable, colored her words as she waited for Stefan to respond. The younger Salvatore tore his murderous gaze away from Damon and reluctantly looked at Elena. He swallowed and worked his mouth soundlessly, the epitome of tortured angst before finally admitting the truth. “Yes.”

“Stefan, that’s amazing,” Elena replied with honest enthusiasm, dropping her hand from Damon’s chest and obliterating the fragile connection between them.

And just that quickly everything returned to the way it was before.

Before Wickery Bridge and Elena’s brush with vampirism, before the reciprocated kiss on her front porch, before the self-defense training, before the summer, before Stefan left with Klaus, before Damon had nearly died in Elena’s arms…

…and back to reality.

Back to ‘it will always be Stefan’ and ‘I care about you, Damon’. Shoving aside the familiar pain of loss and disappointment, he stepped back into his role.

Damon Salvatore – Eternal Bad Guy and Perennial Second Choice.

Time to get the hell out of here.

“I’d make a toast on this momentous occasion, but someone drank all the liquor,” he quipped unable to mask the cynicism in his tone as he skirted the coffee table on his way out of the living room. He didn’t need to be there to see Elena’s eyes soften toward Stefan or the way she’d timidly ask how she could help.

“Damon, wait,” Elena called after him as he crossed the threshold into the foyer. Habitual masochism had him turning around regardless of his intentions. She’d chased after him, pausing with her hand on the doorframe as she peered through the shadows.

“What?” he snapped, making her flinch.

“We-we never finished our conversation,” she whispered in a pointless attempt at subtlety considering Stefan and his vampire hearing were standing just a few feet away.

“I’m pretty sure we did,” he replied, eyeing his brother over her shoulder.

Elena’s face fell as she fidgeted, her gaze darting around the darkened foyer before falling back on him. “Damon, please-.”

“Goodnight, Elena,” he interrupted, turning his back on her and heading for the stairs. Every step was an effort, but he managed to put one foot in front of the other as he climbed. “Stefan can babysit you now.” Raising his voice to carry even though he didn’t need to, he addressed his brother. “Don’t let her drive home, little brother. She’s way over the legal limit.”

He retreated quickly, using his enhanced speed after he hit the halfway point. Stefan and Elena’s reunion was inevitable now – probably always had been – and in a way, Damon was relieved. Anticipation, expectation, hope – they were all a goddamn curse – and he’d rather live within the comfort and familiarity of unrequited love than run the risk of losing it all.

Which made him just as much of a coward as he accused Elena of being.

Who the fuck cares?

He thought as he blurred into his room and violently kicked the door shut, blocking out the hushed murmur of voices from below. No one. That was the beauty of being alone.

After all,

he reminded himself as he flopped down face first on the bed and pulled a pillow over his head, he was done with this shit.

He was so fucking done.


Tags: fandom: the vampire diaries, fic: oneshot, rated: r
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