Another Deredith one shot. No smut yet again but I hope you enjoy it anyway lol

Hope

It is easy enough to get the girl to follow him out of the bar. He doesn't even have to compel her to come with him. He literally just crooks his pinky finger and she comes running like a good little slut.

He pushes her up against the dumpster in a trash-strewn alley and she gasps. This is a little rougher than she's used to huh? Well she has no idea how rough it's going to get. She's about to become his midnight snack. He spins her around and she whimpers a bit as he presses his chest to her back and lifts her blonde hair off of her neck. He can smell the blood racing through her veins; knows she's half turned on and half scared. Well she needs to fear him. He needs someone to do that – he needs that control he used to enjoy before everything was shot to fucking hell.

He bends his head and moves his mouth to the crook of her neck. He feels the fangs descending past his lips. He wants to bite her. So what if it's not exactly a nice thing to do. He's Damon Salvatore and he doesn't do nice. Sure Elena made him want to be a better man, a man worthy of her love and affection and –

Nope, nope! He's not thinking of Elena right now. He can't or he won't be able to do this and he so badly wants to kill this little blonde. He wants to kill her and make her feel a tiny bit of the pain he will endure in the next fifty-nine years.

Yes, it's been a little over a year since IT happened. Since he was robbed of the one thing he wanted more than any other – a life with the only woman he would ever truly love. He'd been robbed. Worse, Elena was robbed. She was lying in a fucking coffin in a fucking mausoleum all alone. He has visited her a few times but mostly stays away because he doesn't want to alert Cure-hungry vampires to her presence. And then there's that whole part where it shatters him all over again to see her lying there, so still, so quiet, so un-Elena like. She was full of life and vigor. She didn't deserve this.

The girl in his arms twists then, trying to get a look at him. "Umm…" She says. "What are you doing back there?"

Damon rolls his eyes. Okay this bitch annoys him. She's going to die and he's going to enjoy sucking the life blood out of her.

He positions his fangs along the column of her sleek throat and is about to puncture the skin when he happens to spot movement at the mouth of the alley. He feels a presence. A warm, familiar presence and over this chick's shoulder he sees a slight figure with long, dark hair approaching.

Elena! He thinks, even if it's not rational. Elena!

He starts to shove the blonde away but then he gets a good look at the woman. He smells her too. She smells familiar alright – like honey and jasmine oil – but it's not his Elena.

"Meredith, go away," Damon spits at her.

The blonde quakes in his arms. "I didn't sign up for a threesome," she cries and Damon can't take it anymore. He's got to kill her. He needs to kill her.

He goes to rip out her throat but Meredith is suddenly forcefully grabbing the girl and telling her to run, run like hell and don't dare look back. Damon is temporarily caught off guard by Meredith's brazenness. Is she stupid enough to think he won't retaliate?

He lets the blonde go and dives for Meredith instead. The blonde goes screeching from the alley as Damon pulls a struggling Meredith against him. He attempts to bow his head and shred her throat but he flinches away as he notices an amulet hanging from her neck – one filled with vervain, a lot like the one Stefan gave Elena to scare him off, what seems like twenty lifetimes ago.

Damon pushes Meredith away so fast that she lands in a heap on the ground. He looks at her and then darts away. He makes it almost out of the alleyway when Meredith screams after him, "Elena wouldn't want this, Damon. Elena wouldn't want this for you."

Anger – no rage – fills his veins and he whirls around to face her. Vervain-imbued necklace or not, he should still kill her. He stalks to her and she jumps to her feet. "Do your worst, Damon," she said. "But know that you have to live with it on your conscience. Is that what you want?"

"I don't have a conscience."

"Bull shit."

The smell of her blood is taunting him and he's afire with blood lust and yet suddenly he's not sure he can actually kill her. He wants to but he doesn't know if he can go through with it.

"You have to die," he hisses. "You chased away my dinner."

"Fine, but killing me won't solve your problems, Damon. Elena wouldn't want this and you know it." She approaches him brazenly – stupidly – and he is angry as hell at her for evoking Elena's name but yet he makes no move to rip her fucking head off her shoulders. He just stands there, unmoving, hissing at her.

"You have no fucking clue what Elena would want –no fucking clue," Damon spat. "You barely knew her."

"I knew enough. I know that she was a good person; that she believed in you like no one else and if you go around killing everyone who pisses you off or looks at you sideways, she's going to be so disappointed in you when she wakes up. She changed you, Damon – for the better – and you owe it to her not to screw that up. Stefan told me you promised that you would honor her and killing people, becoming this dark, sadistic person again… it will be dishonoring her. "

"Shut up, Meredith," Damon snaps.

"Is that any way to talk to an old comrade?" Meredith says.

"You aren't a comrade, or a friend; you're just another do-gooder type trying to save my soul. Well, it's too late, there's nothing left to save here."

"If that were really true, then both that girl and I would be corpses right now. You are a good person, Damon. Or at least Elena believes you are so-"

"Why do you keep fucking saying her name? You don't know her well enough to talk about her. No one does."

"Well I know she loved you. I know that much. I know you don't want to go down a dark road you can't come back from. She's gone, yes, but not forever. You're going to get a second chance; some people should be so lucky."

Damon gritted his teeth. "Oh yeah. So lucky to have my girlfriend trapped in a box for the next fifty-nine years. Fifty-nine years… I feel every one of them," he muttered.

"I bet the days just creep by."

"Yes!" Realizing he has agreed with her, he pinned her with a menacing glare. "Shut up already. Anything you say is garbage and I don't want to hear it. All you have to offer is platitudes and pity and I'm not here for any of that."

"Damon it's not pity you're hearing. It's empathy."

"Oh yeah. I'm sure you know what it's like to have someone who you love more than anything taken away from you for sixty years."

"No, I don't," Meredith admitted.

"See? You have no frame of reference here so butt the hell out of my business before I really make you sorry you came back to town."

"Damon, stop it. Listen to me right now. I feel your pain, okay? I – I lost someone too. Or two someone's actually and it cuts like a bitch but where they went – I can't get them back. Not in five years or sixty years… or ever."

Damon studies Meredith closely. If she is lying about this just to try to placate him, he really will hurt her and enjoy it. But looking into her deep brown eyes, he sees something there that he didn't expect to see.

Dammit it all. She's telling the truth.

"Okay maybe something bad happened to you but I'd rather not have a pity party over it, thank you very much. Just go. The night is young and my belly is empty."

"You're empty."

"Excuse me?"

"You heard me. You're empty right now. At least that's how you feel. Like you have nothing left, certainly nothing left to give and you just want to turn off all of your feelings, all of your emotions, embrace the darkness…"

Damon pauses in his tracks. "You're trying to tell me you understand the feeling, I take it."

"Damn right I do."

"Whatever happened to you – is that why you didn't come back sooner?" He asks. "Call me crazy but I didn't think you'd stay away from this place for so long."

"I didn't mean to. I didn't even want to; it's just I was dealing with my own stuff and couldn't deal with anyone else's. I left my practice, I left Alaska, I just sort of … existed … for the longest time. I only came back here when I felt I could finally face all of you."

"So whatever it is that happened… You're over it then?"

"Hell no. Damon, you don't get over something like this – losing the love of your life… I know you don't. You won't either."

"Nice to know there's no hope. I kind of figured that anyway."

"But there is Damon. There's hope out there; you just gotta find it. I went back to practicing medicine a few weeks ago. It's really helping me to deal with my loss. I mean, I wouldn't have thought it would but it does. It feels good helping others."

"So you think I should what – go to med school now? Or how about become a fucking candy striper?"

"No. I am just saying that seeing others who needed me … Maybe more than I needed them … It's helped me a lot. The truth is, you're not the only one suffering here, Damon. I saw your brother's face; I heard his voice. He's falling apart too but he has to be strong for you, he has to watch out for you. So I wonder who is taking care of him."

Damon crosses his arms. "He's got Vampire Barbie – Caroline."

"He still needs you, Damon, and you need him. You need people around so stop pushing them away and be there for them the way they are trying to be there for you."

"Did you really come back here just to spew all of this Hallmark Card shit?"

Meredith smiles a bit. "That and I took up my old post at the hospital. My old bosses begged me to come back and I decided that I couldn't say no."

"So you're back then. For how long this time?"

"Indefinitely."

"Ugh."

"That's the spirit. I figure we can keep each other honest. I won't slit my wrists and you won't kill people just because you can."

Damon peers closely at her, seeing the pain in her teary eyes. "What the hell happened to you?"

She hugs herself for a moment. "I lost my husband and my newborn son… In a car accident with a drunk driver. One day I had them, I had everything, and the next they were –"

"Gone."

"Yes…"

Damon studies her and then looks away for a moment. He can't bear to see her pain because he knows it is reflected back in him. He can't deal with her problems and his too.

He finally looks at her. "If I … let you keep me honest …"

"Yes?"

"You have to promise me that you won't let me become some self-pitying slug that just lies around the house all day watching daytime talk shows and licking his wounds…"

Meredith smiles a bit. "I promise, Damon."

"Oh and we're not going to have these deep, emotional conversations all the time. Or ever again. Because I would just rather not. I'd rather be shallow like a kiddy pool."

"Even if you're not?"

He shrugs. "It gets me through."

He looks at her and then motions for her to walk with him. They head out of the alleyway, saying nothing. They've said plenty enough for one night.