a one-shot by safetywords
Damon Salvatore was well aware of the stinging agony of rejection.
He spent 145 years pining for a vampire, someone who he believed was his soul mate and one true love. And where did those thoughts get him? Alone. Bitter, fucked up, emotional, and alone. The icing on the cake was that Katherine Pierce, the Wicked Bitch of the South, had duped him all along.
Sometimes, he'd reminisce or have flashes of the past. Was anything real that year? Or was she just playing an Oscar winning role with him? Because if there was anything Damon knew about Katherine, it was her penchant for games and cheap thrills.
Nothing she ever did was driven by love or emotion. It all was done to satisfy her childish desires. In her mind, everyone and everything was a toy meant for her personal usage. There was no wrong action; just simple means to ends.
Even her temperament was unnatural. She was deadly and glacial and savage when she transformed. But she was alluring and beautiful and gentle when they shared a bed. So, who was the true Katherine? Was she a sweet, loving vampire with humanity? Or was she nothing more than the true embodiment of a monster?
Because all these years later, she was still torturing him, still lingering in a dark place of his mind. A broken heart from a damaged love story wasn't easy to heal. (Could they even heal properly?) Damon knew because he carried that emptiness every day - distraught over the fact that he couldn't distinguish who the real Katherine was.
All Damon wanted was the real thing.
But he had to hand it to her. She was entirely too good at what she did; she knew how impressionable he was from the start, how easy it was to intertwine herself into his heart. He was shy and cautious while she was confident and rash.
Damon's eyes flitted to his hand. The wound was healed but dried spatter clung to his palm. He made his classic 'mmm hmm' noise and wiped the blood onto his pants. Damon was aware of exactly how it happened.
Elena called crying that she couldn't reach Stefan and that she found her father, John Gilbert, bleeding in her kitchen with his hand cut off and blood pouring from a chest wound. She just kept repeating over and over again that blood was everywhere. And that there was a message on the wall that read: You asked for it. So, here I am. -K. It was written in blood with perfect, cursive penmanship.
Damon didn't need her to go into gory details to understand the startling truth: Katherine was back in Mystic Falls.
What posed as the biggest threat was her identical looks to Elena.
How long was Katherine in Mystic Falls? Was she masquerading as Elena? What made her come back?
Questions multiplied in his head. Soon they became utterly unbearable, flying at him faster than he could answer...or guess. With so many scenarios and possibilities floating around in his head, he couldn't wrap his brain over her sudden interest in the town, Elena, and him and Stefan. All he knew was that if he didn't figure something out soon, there would be a body-count.
Damon wouldn't allow a body-count, especially not on his watch. Katherine was out there, somewhere. She was lurking just out of plain sight, and would strike when the moment was right. He needed to predict her every move before she made them. A message so cold and written in blood was all the proof he needed to know his ex's true intentions: she wanted revenge.
And it was too convenient that Stefan was suddenly unaccounted for. He had a pretty good idea she was involved, intent on having the youngest Salvatore brother. Damon always thought she held a torch for Stefan anyway.
Over the past 145 years, Damon had plenty of time to ponder why Katherine chose Stefan to be her lover on the sly. It wasn't for his sexual prowess because Stefan had been unexperienced in that department. And it wasn't for loyalty either - Stefan wouldn't betray his brother. So, why did she chose him?
The only answer he could effectively conclude was that she reveled in the idea of destroying innocence. She could make Stefan her puppet by controlling his mind, by having him do all the things she knew Damon never would. Stefan projected virtue and every quality that made people trust and confide in him. Damon kept promises, but he deserted the Confederate Army. With others faith in him wavering, people began to wonder if he was capable of anything worthwhile.
Damon wasn't innocent. He wasn't evil either, but he saw things that Stefan hadn't. And these things had made him darker and harder on the inside. He hid it well, but it was a failed attempt. Katherine knew he was easier to break and mold into anything, but Stefan was the real challenge.
Katherine was like an on-target honing device. She was smart and precise and knew that Stefan was premium choice. Damon was just the runt of the litter- fun because he was different and struggling, but so small and insignificant that he was easy to overlook.
And was he ever overlooked. He saw how girls weren't lining up from miles to get a glimpse at him with his dark, unruly hair and blue eyes. No, the girls of Mystic Falls were entranced by Stefan, the heartthrob with his light hair and green eyes.
Stefan was the perfect target.
Everything was always about Stefan, Stefan, Stefan.
He was wholesome and loyal. Giuseppe loved him most because he was obedient and never questioned or pushed boundaries. His manners were just as flawless. Everything about his brother was a perfect model for what Damon was supposed to follow.
It was easy for Damon to slink into the shadows when Stefan had everyone's undivided attention.
Times were different then. In 1864, Stefan paraded around with confidence.
He was always taking charge, always playing the role of the big brother; he was Giuseppe's favorite son, the golden child. It was blindingly obvious to anyone in town. They'd assume that Stefan was older and the heir to the Salvatore fortune, and after a while, Damon stopped correcting them.
But he didn't hate his brother. There was a time when Damon could smile and laugh and joke with Stefan.
Once they were functional. Once they were inseparable and playing football together. Once they shared all of their secrets and regrets. But most of all, once being siblings meant a hell of a lot more than it did right then.
Damon clutched tighter onto the empty scotch glass. It shattered from his sheer strength. Shards of glass cut into his hand, blood dripping down his arm and staining the couch. But what did he care about the furniture at the boarding house? Personally, it was too kitschy for his taste and deserved an upgrade.
He leaned against the back of the couch and exhaled sharply. The mixture of pain and alcohol was coursing through his body. Even when he refused to admit it, he missed the real days with Stefan. Deep inside him, there was a small, maybe infinitesimal piece that wished that they had remained close. Even in death.
And then Stefan had gone and slept with his girl. Why couldn't his brother be happy for him? Why couldn't he have Katherine to himself? To Damon it was the ultimate betrayal, something completely unforgivable. And the worst part was that he was being betrayed by the woman he loved, too.
For true love, wasn't that supposed to be enough? Wasn't he supposed to be the only choice?
Katherine didn't think so. Maybe she picked him first, but he had never felt more like the last choice. Or maybe he wasn't a choice at all. He was just another nice guy finishing last.
And now she was back. That night he swore he was kissing Elena, he knew something wasn't right. He was just swept up in a moment he didn't want to end. But Elena would never betray Stefan. She made it clear so many times.
Maybe Damon was the stupid one. He didn't realize Katherine was impersonating as Elena until they kissed. It was soft, sweet, and gentle, but something about it didn't feel right. He should have called her out then; he didn't. If Damon wanted to outwit a vampire that had seen many more blocks than him, he couldn't bluff. He had to play into it like it was what he wanted.
And he had.
But how could he tell the difference, anyway? Katherine never looked at him with that kind of affection. And so he put his guard down, fully believing that it was nothing. Stefan wanted to dredge up the lake, but Damon didn't want to see what laid at the bottom. He was over and done with the evil bitch; he didn't need closure again. Damon was finally at the point in his life where Katherine Pierce didn't matter. An eternity was too long to spend making mistakes and choosing all the wrong roads.
Elena wasn't Katherine.
She saw through his thick fog and despair. Maybe he wasn't her favorite person in the world, but Damon knew he felt something. There was a connection, a camaraderie. The more time he spent with her, the more he realized he had spent so long on the hunt for someone who claimed to love him. It was just a silly obsession and fascination. Meeting and getting to know Elena proved that. The unknown feelings danced in his stomach. And when they started acting up, he'd make a wise crack. Being tough and the asshole had its perks: masking true feelings and vulnerabilities.
It was always Elena that saw through the thick fog and despair.
And even on some level, she was breaking his heart too. It wasn't her fault—at least not intentionally. He knew she didn't want to demolish what was left of his heart, but it didn't stop the throbbing ache in his chest. She was rejecting him, proving over and over again that Stefan Salvatore always got what he wanted.
As much as Damon wanted to be convinced otherwise, it was becoming 1864 all over again. And he just didn't get why everyone thought Stefan was fearless and perfect and better. Damon knew he had plenty of insecurities, but he wasn't always a monster.
Where did being loyal and loving ever get him?
And then becoming the undead-living.
Stefan made his choices, too. He chose not to tell him about Katherine. It was breaking the guy code. Even more, it was destroying a sibling bond. It severed a line that could never be repaired. Damon knew that, but some days, it was hard to hold steadfast on that grudge. Both of them had been duped. They were supposed to unite and get over it. But if there was anything Damon knew, it was that he had a lifetime to think. And in a lifetime, he learned that at the end of the day, Stefan would always win.
Good would triumph bad.
And that made Damon jealous. The more time he spent around Mystic Falls and the people, the more he felt like this was the first time he had belonged in a long time. It felt like a place that could be home again, but no matter what Damon did, he would be the bad cop because in the world of Stefan, there could only be one good Salvatore brother. And Elena would choose the better of the two.
Clearly, he didn't have a chance; he was far from perfect. Hell, he didn't have any redeeming qualities left. But, a part of him wanted a shot with Elena. And the other part, deep down, reminded him that he didn't deserve or have the right to love after the countless human lives he ended.
He remembered many conversations with Elena. She understood why he made such awful choices, but that made him feel worse about his past. Justifications were just an excuse; Katherine was just an excuse. He couldn't hide behind that anymore.
Nothing in the world could take away what he'd done. There wasn't a 'do over' card he could whip out and try again. These were all of his decisions—his choices and burdens. No amount of good could make him a better person or erase the past he was intent on destroying.
For a long time, a world without Katherine wasn't worth living. At all. Some nights he'd sit awake, laying on the grass with his hands behind his head as he watched the murky, midnight skies. He'd think about all the evil things he had done, and he'd wonder how he could top it the next day.
If he was made a mockery of in human life, he wasn't about to let it happen in the afterlife. He'd be the biggest, baddest living-undead creature to ever walk the earth. And those feelings and this damnation, it was Katherine's fault. She was toxic, sucking him in while she sang her pretty song of seduction, and pulling him under into a world of pure darkness.
It was true that he was willing to die for Katherine.
Or it used to be.
But Damon was just a fool in love.
He'd never damn anyone to the cruel fate of being a vampire, not anymore. No matter how good he or Stefan tried to be, it didn't change the fact that they were vampires.
At the end of the day, he had to realize that Katherine transformed him into an animal. Everything became instinct and survival. There was hardly an room to feel emotion, and what little he had left, it was all for her.
It had always come down to her. And first love. And hundreds of other firsts. But the bitch had torn him apart. She wasn't in the damn tomb; she just snuck through the back door and left him like it was something she did all the time.
Hell, she didn't care enough to find him. She was the reason he was so tortured and miserable. And she could have ended it. She didn't.
Damon would never, under any circumstances, ever forgive Katherine for what she did to him. She just didn't deserve it. And for a while, he wondered what was the point in being a vampire. Everything he became was for nothing—for a woman who wanted to play a game until it was old.
He wasn't supposed to recover.
This was meant to be the bitter end. This was the best it got for a vampire.
And then, as if it were the most natural thing in the world, Damon thought of Elena. He thought about how she restarted his heart; he thought about how different and special and achingly beautiful she was. There was this fire that burned deep within him, a fire that wanted him to protect her at all costs. Nothing, not even his animalistic needs, could tempt him to hurt her in any way. The innermost part of his soul cared for Elena as if she were the only significant person still alive in this hellish world.
Why else would he save her from a car wreck and carry her to his car?
It was a sweet gesture, something the white knight did to protect his Guinevere. Even in the absence of good intentions, it was clear that the true Damon was swallowed by layers of brick walls. It was a place where his humanity was hidden, a place that he couldn't seem to find unless Elena was there, removing his wall brick by brick.
There was no denying that she had saved his life in Georgia. He didn't deserve her understanding and sympathy then, but in that moment, Damon knew something was changing. She wouldn't save and protect a monster, not even for Stefan.
The truth always floored him. He was desperate to know what was so great about him that he was even worth saving. In the beginning, he followed her everywhere; entranced by her beauty.
She'd sit at the cemetery for hours, writing in her journal so fast. He'd smile at her furrowed eyebrows when she made a mistake and lost concentration. And that was the day he created the fog and tried to scare her off with the crow.
Someone so beautiful and pure wasn't meant to spend hours in a cemetery. Plus, as much as it ruined his ego to admit, he despised cemeteries. It brought him back to memories of his father. He was only a few weeks turned, and with Stefan on his blood binge, Damon realized he was alone. Of course Giuseppe wasn't a role model father; he was exactly like every other founding family of Mystic falls. He chose a favorite son. And maybe, on some level, Damon could understand it. He deserted the war; he wasn't cut out for all of the blood and death and destruction. It was too hard to fire a gun. His hand never stayed steady.
Did Giuseppe resent him because he tarnished the family name? Probably.
But Damon couldn't help but laugh about it. His favorite son was the one to end his life. Although, Damon wasn't about to lie. He loved his father up until the point he took Katherine away and shot him and Stefan. Vampires were dangerous. Giuseppe was a vampire hunter, so the understanding was there. True, there was a lot he could hate his father for, but he still loved him and respected him. And yet the idea of being in a cemetery chilled him. It always unsurfaced the unwanted memories of what Damon told his father's tombstone. They were words he didn't want to relive.
And that was why Damon wanted her far away. She needed to go home. Elena was precious and fragile and delicate. It wasn't until the first time, over dinner, that they officially met. He knew right then that she was genuine. And she had a nice, honest laugh. Elena wasn't artificial, and she didn't try to glorify the truth. She just apologized to him about losing Katherine.
That was the night Damon started respecting Elena Gilbert.
She was different in a way he could respect. Sure, he didn't enjoy when she was sullen or yelling at him or even scared of him, but he was a vampire. The truth was, he couldn't let her get too comfortable with that idea. There was a lot worse out there than him. If she wanted to be surrounded in a world of vampires, it was only fair that she knew what she was getting herself into. No matter what, Damon would follow Stefan. He would always torment him—even if they got on good terms.
Damon Salvatore was never going to be out of the picture.
If he had to play bad vamp with Elena, he would. Stefan was too entangled in his own world of torture and moroseness. Denying his existence just put everyone in danger. He needed to be strong, to feed on human blood. But it was clear that Stefan didn't have the strength or patience to handle anything other than animal blood.
How could Stefan adequately protect his so-called soul mate and one true love when he was too preoccupied with moping around and living out his days as if he were Bambi and his mother was dead?
Pretending that animal blood was enough was a silly notion. Damon knew, first hand, it didn't work. When the brother's parted ways, Damon had a phase in the 60's where he was adamant to change his lifestyle. It worked for a few years, but it never lasted. He was lying to himself and so was Stefan. Surviving on animal blood for an eternity wasn't a possibility.
But Stefan was bull-headed. He was determined to be the do-gooder. And hell, he was entirely too simpleminded. Back in the 1800's, he was enamored and obsessed with everywhere that she went and whatever she said. There was no doubt in Damon's mind that - that kind of power and deep-rooted obsession was still lingering. He suspected that his brother still thought of Elena as Katherine, at least on some level. And Damon was well aware that Elena wasn't and would never be Katherine.
It was time for Stefan to get the memo - wherever he was. The Katherine of modern times was just as bad as the Katherine of period times. She was evil incarnate with bad intentions. He imagined she had legions of follows from all over the world, waiting for their signal to rally and overtake Mystic Falls and the rest of the world.
Damon was positive that he and Stefan were collateral damage. Too much time had passed for him to want to justify why Katherine turned them in the first place. Exchanging blood was something she did with all of her toys. But in the end, she was the one to disappear. She moved on, and Damon felt that they were left to die. She knew they were creatures of the night; she could've trained them to be her most loyal follows. But she didn't.
All Damon needed to know about Katherine was that he didn't matter to her. It had been a mistake to chase after her for the greater part of a century. He would've loved her and never let her go, but she wasn't in the tomb. She never had any intentions of returning. Ever.
But Elena was vastly different. She didn't play games or try to be coy; she didn't try to make out with him when Stefan fell off the wagon. Elena was honorable and trustworthy - something he'd never forget. She saved his life - multiple times and in different ways. There was so much to thank her for.
Would Katherine ever look behind his shortcomings? Would Katherine ever console him when he hit the bottom?
The more the questions surfaced, the more he knew the truth. Katherine wasn't capable of love. Her vampiric lifestyle had ripped every last shred of humanity from within her. It was time Damon got over her. He had a friend in Elena. Maybe they were growing closer and deeper. He was sure the friend line would blur at some point, but Elena gave a damn.
That was all Damon needed to commit to being her friend.
She saw that he could be good even when he was maniacal and twisted. And broken.
The worst kind of vampire of all were the heartbroken kind. And Damon reeked of despair and loss of hope. There was nothing like a first love that was never reciprocated. It was something that would always cut into him. He'd never forget the way she messed with his head, the way she had ripped about what good he had left over the years.
Damon couldn't walk down that path, again. He had done it one time, but never again. With Katherine, it wasn't entirely love. It was obsession and the thrill of having someone other than his brother and father in his life.
Could he love again?
It was a loaded question, the kind that left him wide awake at night, draining bottle after bottle of scotch. He thought about how Elena had this undeniable pull over him, and how he couldn't sleep at night until he knew she was safe.
Long after Elena was asleep, Damon would end up in her room, watching her. He didn't touch or caress her face like he had done those many months ago. Instead, he'd just sit on her bed for hours, staring at the contours of her face and the way her lips were curved into the slightest of smiles. And Damon would grin slightly, just happy that she was having pleasant dreams when Katherine was lurking in Mystic Falls.
As soon as he was sure she was okay and safe, he disappeared just as quickly as he came.
But no matter how much his feelings changed, the sad truth was that Elena Gilbert belonged with Stefan. He was the reliable, white knight. Damon couldn't promise to always do or say the right thing. Stefan was predictable, easier to trust. And he couldn't blame Elena for making the safe choice.
Damon couldn't be her Prince Charming.
All he could offer to Elena was himself, complete with his baggage of flaws and mistakes. With Damon, Katherine would be nipping at his heels, ready to self-destruct any human relationships he tried to forge. The more he thought of it, the more he didn't want to risk it.
He had to make a big gesture; he had to get Katherine's attention. And when he did, he'd lure her out of town - even if it meant he could never go back. He had to do something right to prove to Stefan that there was something inside of him. But most of all, he had to prove to Elena how much he cared about her. She was too special for cheesy, over said three-word phrases. She needed more than that, and leaving was the only way he could accomplish that.
Because, at night, before he drifted off into a restless sleep, all Damon could think about was how she deserved so much better (and more) than him.
This is my first foray into the world of fan fiction in a few years. I haven't done much writing, so I apologize if this is rough around the edges. Some events from the finale were purposely left out as I tried to focus on only a few areas. If you like this, would you like to see it turned into a multi-chaptered story? Something with action and dialog and not limited to the musings and thoughts of a character? Any feedback at all would be absolutely wonderful. Thank you in advance to anyone who reads this. -Andrea