* This is a Vampire Diaries Fanfiction
Author’s Note: This is set after 03×19 “Heart of Darkness” and before 03×20. It was originally written for “Inevitable,” but it didn’t fit in anywhere, and to be honest, it was inspired by 03×19, which never happened in the world of “Inevitable.” There’s a line in the Florence and Machine song that played during the Denver kiss scene: “the crashes are heaven, to a sinner like me.” Something about that line in conjunction with the almost sacred intensity of that kiss made me think that it would change a lot of things in Damon.
Looking back at this piece now, it is an interesting character study of Damon to read before “Better Angels of Our Nature,” which is the sequel to “Inevitable.”
Disclaimer: I don’t own the Vampire Diaries or any of its characters, dialogue or plot. Warnings for adult language. These characters are not mine, nor is the universe.
It’s ten in the morning and I’m two drinks into my day. But fuck it, I’m fresh out of Original-killing tricks, Elena’s avoiding me, and Ric’s switch is set to non-fatal for the moment. I’ve got nowhere to be, and I’m ready to turn another head-case teenager just to distract me from my thoughts, but I won’t give the Elena the satisfaction of making her choice about good brother vs. bad. As if one more teen would put my body count anywhere near his.
Bereft of distractions, of course I’m thinking about that kiss outside the cheap motel in Denver. Not in the obvious way, though. That kiss has mindfucked me most every day since it happened. Today’s lobotomy motivator is a little different. There was a second, with the sweetness of Elena’s lips on mine, that something shifted deep inside my brain.
I just can’t figure out what it was.
Since then, I’ve been catching myself thinking about shit I never think about. It’s possible that kiss short-circuited my personality.
I catch movement out of the corner of my eye, and I call out impulsively. “Hey, Stefan.”
I have a question, and I don’t exactly have tons of friends I can ask. Besides, it seems like stuff Stefan would have thought about, ad nauseum, probably writing all about it in his cute little diary.
He turns to me, and I immediately bag the idea of asking him anything.
Extra-broody today, though I’ll take that over his recent super-villain stunt.
Today, his eyes are his again but more like mine than they used to be. Regret and a wildness just this side of feral. He’s such a wreck that for a moment I’m distracted.
His face is an endless well of despair and it make me think that if vampires can become ghosts, Stefan will never escape. Not in death. Not in drowning himself in human blood, recklessness and trying not to care. He let himself go purely vampire, like I have at times, and now he knows that even that won’t work. I shouldn’t have made fun of his pain all these years. I guess it has just never seemed so real to me before.
I tilt back my drink and decide to skip the bromance moment. He looks like he’s got enough to worry about without me bugging him.
“Pick up some bourbon when you’re out. And some bagged blood if you’re going for fence sitter instead of bunny killer.”
He turns and starts to walk away, but his steps slow and he stops, dropping his head for a second.
“Did you want something, Damon?”
It’s going to take a while to get used to his new voice. It sounds older, though I think that should maybe be ironic. It’s cold, with that threat of possibility that reminds me that he’s very capable of being the villain now. My lips curve at the thought. I really am proud. But the depth that makes him my brother is back, behind the coldness. It’s that depth that makes me think he knows something that I don’t.
I eye him speculatively. Obviously, if he knows, it hasn’t brought him peace.
“In all those bi-polar years that I skipped, while you and Lexi were playing angels and devils…” I toy with the vase on one of the side tables. It doesn’t look good in this room. Maybe upstairs in the third guest bedroom. Or maybe I should just toss it. What the hell good is an empty vase, anyway? “Did you ever go in for religion?”
He turns back with raised eyebrows.
I hold my hands up. “Hey, just curious. My baby bro lived a few lifetimes I wasn’t around for. I am a little curious what you did with the time. Besides, the monk thing would fit you.” I wiggle my eyebrows. “Self-flaggelation, an unbreakable conviction that only God can remove the stain of your inherently sinful nature. Seems right up your alley. Might as well hang with the right clique.”
He stares, his jaw working once. “Is this some kind of guilt trip? From you, Damon?” He laughs, the nasty laugh that you don’t get until you’ve killed a hundred or so airheads. I wince. One of these days I will have to teach him a more attractive evil laugh.
I raise an eyebrow and let the ridiculousness of that notion sink in. “Hardly. I was proud of you for a minute when you twisted Klaus’s balls.” I narrow my eyes at him. “Though I owe you a gut wound or six for pulling that stunt with Elena and the bridge. I’m not even sure I could have fucked that up worse than you managed to.”
“Then what is this about?”
I stretch my neck and roll my shoulders, turning away.
“Spit it out, brother. I have places to be.”
I smirk. “Please. You don’t have anybody waiting for you any more than I do. Not anymore.”
Considering that wipes the smile off my face. We both have somebody waiting for us. Kind of. I know Elena is torn up completely by caring for both of us, and it’s not made any better since she doesn’t have a handle on who Stefan is now.
She’s never known who I am. At times, it seemed like she knew me better than I did, and at times, it was like she was in total denial.
Lately, me has become a slippery concept. I don’t know if she is right anymore, or if I am, or if there’s one answer at all.
I just know that when she kissed me back, something in me turned a corner and sin has lost some of its savor.
Not that I want to be all cutesy and good, or that I want to do what she wants to make her happy. That’s kind of pitiful, though it probably would get me laid. It’s more that the idea of sin suddenly mattered to me. It’s confusing. Maybe a chick would have no trouble with this, but I don’t get how a kiss- even a fucking world-shattering, orgasmically relieving kiss- would change my stance on a philosophical concept that has never held a moment of interest for me before.
After my first sixty or seventy years of being a vampire I stopped worrying about right or wrong. I literally haven’t given it a thought in over a century, though I understand a lot of human lives have been spent chasing after the answer to those questions. I have made choices about what I will and won’t do, of course. I forced myself to learn control, so that I could do exactly as I pleased and not as I didn’t. I guess I live by the morality of Damon Salvatore and whether that was commensurate with anybody else’s ideas wasn’t a concern.
Stefan takes a step back into the living room, his hands in his jacket pockets. He looks curious.
I have a crazy urge to smash the vase, to throw him off the scent. I don’t know who else I could ask, but I don’t need Stefan worrying about me, knowing what’s in my head these days.
Instead, I put my hand in my pocket because for an immortal being, finding a new interest trumps everything else, even if it isn’t a fun kind of interest.
“You know, Stef, we’ve been around long enough-,” the corner of my mouth turns up, then down. “I kinda thought we’d seen what was on the table.”
He tilts his head, waiting. I will never admit it aloud, but this is actually the part I missed. My brother may be embarrassingly emo but he knows how to be a friend. Not usually to me, I guess, but sometimes.
“There have been a few curveballs, huh?” he says. A few things flash through his eyes too and I wonder if he might punch me again. That’d be fine. Sometimes a good scuffle really cheers me up.
“I really thought good and evil was arbitrary,” I tell him honestly. “Maybe I shouldn’t tell you that right now…”
Stefan smiles ruefully.
“But I did. I know you never thought like that, but it seemed like after a few generations…” I let memories snap through my mind like hyperspeed film reels. I’ve had a lot of lives all rolled up into this one. “It seems like it doesn’t really matter, except for the convenience of keeping society moving along a little more predictably. And now, just lately, I got this feeling like it was more. Like a tide moving under things, or-,” I break off, at a loss. “How do you do all this share your feeling shit? It’s complicated. I don’t know what the fuck I’m trying to say.” I wave him off. “Don’t forget the bourbon, ok?”
“Like the balance of nature Bonnie is always talking about?” he asks quietly.
I look back at him, nod once to acknowledge the point. “That does sort of fit, though I’m not sure witchy opinions are anything I should give a shit about.”
“It’s my understanding that they don’t decide on the balance of nature. More like they enforce it.” He says.
“So,” I gesture with my drink and smirk a little to show it’s not that big of a deal. “They just need us here to play the villains? Since Jack Nicholson was booked?”
“Chess pieces,” Stefan says, his eyes fixing on me in a way that usually makes me feel like showing him just how bad I can be. His words give me a curious feeling of release, loosening something I didn’t know was tight.
I smile knowingly. “Thought this one over, have you?”
“You know the next question, don’t you?” he asks.
I shrug. “Are we playing black team or white team? That’s the obvious one, right?”
“Both.” His eyes are infinitely sad, a couple levels down from Basset hound. I think Stef wants to play white team. “We play both.”
That doesn’t help. “If there are teams, and I cared what things were white, and what were black-,” I stall out. “Yeah, no. It’s not my bag. There’s things I don’t want to take back and the ‘balance of nature,’” I give it air quotes, “can shove it.”
Getting Elijah and Rebekah daggered, though neither of them were really that bad. Killing Lexie, even though she was cool. Shit, killing every single person I’ve killed to protect Elena. What I did for Rose. Killing Ric. Saving Ric. I feel like I should feel bad for some of the chicks I’ve killed but, um, nope. Still don’t. They were still pretty forgettable and even though their mamas may have loved them, I had a hundred years of insight on them. Girls like that were born by the hundred and they left no mark on the world when they left. Good or bad. They just were, and after I had my fill, they just…were not.
Also, I didn’t get the feeling that the few things I would take back would clean my slate off.
I cast an annoyed look at the fireplace.
“Is this about Elena?”
“No. Yes.” I kick at the rug and frown. “No.”
“She’s probably only Junior Mother Theresa because she’s eighteen and hasn’t seen any of the shit we have.”
“No,” Stefan disagrees quietly, with no hint of my flippancy. Is he off or on human blood right now? He’s kinda grim. “She’s that good because she wouldn’t make those choices.” Stefan shakes the keys in his pocket. “What do you really want to know, Damon?”
I narrow my eyes, my mouth twisting with frustration. “I don’t know. I think I feel like turning over a new leaf or something, but I can’t find the fucking tree. I’m so not jumping on the Ten Commandments bandwagon, but there’s this…pull on me. It’s new, and it’s not Elena wanting me to be a choirboy. That’s old news. I don’t know what this is.”
Stefan regards me with those uncomforting eyes of his, and he looks almost like he pities me. I smirk at him to break the solemnity, because I think we might both be hoping this “pull” doesn’t leave me with the same burden it left him.
“Yeah, well, good luck with that,” he finally says.
“Stay golden, Ponyboy,” I gush in falsetto.
“What is that supposed to mean?” he snaps.
“It means stop borrowing all your facial expressions from the greasers in the Outsiders,” I sneer. “And brother?”
“What, Damon?” he’s abandoned pity in favor of exasperation, as per usual.
I give him a superior smile. One point for me.
“When you get back, you can be useful for a change and help me put all the rugs back out.” They’ve been rolled up since his last Ripper binge.
He nods his head once and cocks it to the side, studying me, but then leaves without comment.