A/N: This is very AU. It starts where the series does, but not with things as they were. Stefan is a vampire, Damon still human and missing for 150 years. I will introduce some non-canon characters, just to fill in the plot holes from the series. I haven't decided how deep to take the supernatural stuff in Mystic Falls, or whether I will deal with all the doppelganger sturm und drang. It's still in the early stages, yet. Just now, Elena just looks a LOT like Katherine. Please read and review!

Disclaimer: I do not own or operate "The Vampire Diaries."

Falling – he was falling, falling, falling – nothing but noise and blackness around him. Then, he hit the ground with a resounding thud, knocking all the breath out of him. He moaned softly and the world went black around him once again.

Elena Gilbert had stopped going to the cemetery to write in her journal. People could see her there. Ever since Matt showed her the old Salvatore home place, she went there to write. There was a sadness about it that never failed to touch her heart. The Gilbert home place creeped her out. But her mom had told her the sad story of the two Salvatore brothers, Damon and Stefan, how they had been seduced by the evil Katherine Pierce, and how the rumor was she was a vampire (of all things!) and had turned Stefan. No one knew about Damon. By all accounts, both had been in their prime – young, handsome men. Stefan had been seen around Mystic Falls since then, if the stories could be believed, but Damon had simply disappeared. Perhaps a Confederate patrol had picked him up and decided he needed to go back into the army. It was possible he had been killed in the Battle of the Wilderness, but no one would ever know, more than likely. Truly the stuff of ghost stories.

The Mystic Falls archives even had photos of the brothers. There was Stefan, the younger one, with hooded eyes, and handsome. Damon had worn his Cavalry uniform for his photo. The archives director said all the contemporary accounts mentioned the photos were excellent likenesses. Elena had looked a long while at Damon Salvatore's portrait. His eyes must have been a sky blue for them to look so light-colored in the tintype. People generally didn't smile in photos then, but there was a grin lurking at the corners of his mouth, meaning he didn't look nearly as solemn and somber as his brother did. Elena had always liked Damon Salvatore's face.

She sat on what had once been the steps of the house, leaned against a crumbled column and started to write. She had been going for a few minutes when she heard something. It sounded like a cry. She looked up and around. She heard it again. "Help me," she thought it was saying. "This is a spooky place and I'm not going to give in," she said.

"Help me!" Louder this time. It sounded bad. She got up and went toward the sound of the voice.

He woke up, face down on the forest floor. He was thirsty – so thirsty. His mouth felt like he had swallowed sand. And it was cold. He didn't remember it being cold. He raised up. Where was he? The smells and sounds were familiar, but he couldn't place where he was. What had happened? His memory was quite blank. The last thing he remembered? It wasn't coming to him. Being home, or perhaps outside the house. He managed to sit up and wiped his forehead. He looked around. What was he doing in the middle of the woods? He saw a small clearing where the house should be, but nothing was there. He shook his head and immediately regretted the move. "I must have brain fever. I'm seeing things," he muttered to himself. Surely one of the servants was around. "Joe!" he called to a servant. "Help me!" But there was no answer. In fact, an eerie silence reigned.

"Joe! Prophet! Anyone, for God's sake, help me!" his voice was weak. The exertion was too much and he fell back, unconscious.

Elena followed the sound of the cries into the woods – only a few yards from the steps where she had been sitting. She saw a figure lying in the leaves. She found her phone and was about to call 911, when the man stirred and rolled over. His hand was on his forehead, and he looked at her with summer blue eyes. Damon Salvatore.