Damon's sitting in the forest, staring out into the darkness, when Stefan finds him.

"You can't make me feel guilty." He's never heard Damon sound so. . .dejected. "You can't make me feel bad for wanting her back."

"Damon, they would have-" Stefan rests a hand on his shoulder, but faster than even his eyes can see, Damon has a hand around his throat.

"I know! I know they would have slaughtered all your poor innocent little townspeople and I don't care." Damon drops his hand from his brother's throat and sits back down.

Stefan stares at his back for a moment before his glare softens and he realizes something; he wraps his arms around Damon and even though he feels his brother stiffen, he doesn't move away. Stefan pulls him close, Damon's back to his chest as the shock of it hits him.

"I miss her too, Damon." And for a while, neither of them moves; he swears he hears Damon crying; he swears he smells the salt from the tears, but he doesn't say anything and just lets Damon be human for once.

They used to be a famiy: Stefan, Damon and Katherine. A strange family, and a little destructive, but a family nonetheless and deep down, Stefan misses the closeness, the intimacy, of it. Maybe Damon does too.

"I wanted it to be like it was." He almost jumps when Damon finally speaks and he keeps his cheek pressed to his brother's neck. "I told myself it was because I love Katherine, and I do, but-"

"But what?" Stefan asks, his breath warming Damon's cheek.

"I thought if I brought Katherine back, you'd stay with us and I could have you both. I thought that you'd finally stop looking at me like I'm a monster and start looking at me like you used to look at her." Damon sounds exhausted; he feels exhausted, like every muscle in his body would refuse to stand if he chose to move.

Stefan doesn't say anything for a moment, but his grip tightens on Damon. When he finally does speak, it feels as though his body is being torn apart. "Things will never be like they were, Damon." But then he feels lips on his jaw. "But maybe things aren't so bad now."

Damon sighs and lets himself sink back into Stefan's arms. Maybe his brother is right. Maybe things are good enough. Sleepily, he thinks for now.

(A/N: Sorry if either character is OOC. In case you haven't noticed, I tend to like a more submissive Damon. -sigh- I love their relationship on the show and the recent episode broke my heart.)