Title: Half In Love With Pretty Girls

Author: EenaAngel

Disclaimer: Smith owns Vampire Diaries.

Rating: PG-13 (for Damon's pottymouth)

Spoilers: Season One Finale.

Summary: He's half in love with a handful of pretty girls . . . and so completely in love with the witch it was embarrassing. Seriously embarrassing-Stefan wouldn't stop laughing . . .

Notes: Companion piece to 'The Enemy Of My Enemy'-Damon's POV.

Notes2: Title adapted from J.D. Salinger's quote: "That's the thing about girls. Every time they do something pretty... you fall half in love with them, and then you never know where the hell you are."

This was the mother of all stupid plans.

Damon growled, eyes bleeding black and red as he tossed his current opponent into a tree. The young vampire gurgled and then died, hands clutching the branch that had pushed through his heart. Damon took a moment to admire his awesome aim and then turned back to the fight.

"Bonnie!" He could hear Elena shouting off in the distance. "Bonnie hurry!"

"She'd do a lot better if you stopped screaming her name!" Damon roared in the direction of Elena's voice. He got no response, at least not from her. Low pitch growls alerted him to the arrival of another monster. That made it 167 tonight, or something similar. Damon didn't really have the time to count and he did love to exaggerate, so he decided 167 was a good estimate. Damon turned around and dove for the creature's throat.

This was the stupidest plan ever.

There's such pity and sorrow in Elena's eyes that Damon had to bite back the urge to rip them out of her head. It's more the anger, and a lot of the hurt, that drew this impulse out of him. None of it is Elena's fault; all of it was his fault, if you wanted to lay blame appropriately. But he wasn't into self-mutilation and Elena's biggest crime at this point was the having the same face as the one creature he hated above all others.

It was also the face that he loved above all others, and that's what made the whole situation even more fucked up. He wondered now if this emotion for Elena really was about Elena, or more about how he wished Katherine had been. A hundred and forty five years was a long time to love someone, and then to find out that person didn't give a damn about you in the slightest-well, it was hard. Elena was loyal to his brother, loyal in a way that Katherine had demanded of him, but never reciprocated. He wanted a piece of that loyalty, because the closest he ever had to it was from Stefan. And they had spent the better part of a hundred and forty years hating the crap out of each other.

Even that was because of her. All roads led to Katherine and her infinitely messed up plan to have both Salvatore brothers for herself. Damon wasn't sure if it was stupidity or stubbornness that motivated Katherine. In all honesty, he thought her desire for both brothers was more about proving how powerful she was. He and Stefan had been fine before she showed up. Warping that and making them enemies, all because of her, maybe that's what Katherine had been hoping for.

"Damon," Elena was trying to reach for him, but he moved away from her hand. She was trying to comfort him. In the midst of everything (her father dead, her brother dying, her friend in critical condition, and her town shattering to pieces), she was still trying to comfort him. He thought they had shared something tonight, something special. The kiss had left him feeling weird, and now he knew why. It hadn't been Elena. It would never be Elena.

Katherine was messing with him again. She walked right past him, toyed with his vulnerability, and then tried to destroy Elena's life. She almost succeeded. Katherine was never satisfied with 'almost'.

Damon pulled away from Elena and made his way down the hall. He heard Elena sigh and sniffle back some tears and he felt like a giant jerk. He shouldn't be adding to her worries in a time like this. But yet, he also knew she shouldn't bother worrying about him right now. She had other, much bigger problems. But they were friends now, and friends cared about each other. It was annoyingly true. Damon felt himself caring about all sorts of things nowadays, and he hated it. Any other vampire with half a brain would just turn those feelings off and revert to a state of inflated superiority punctuated by a lack of caring.

He should go and apologize. He should apologize to Elena, because even if he hadn't kissed her, he certainly wouldn't have minded if it had been her. That gave her additional drama to deal with at a time when she was stretched far too thin. He should go and find Stefan and tell him Katherine was back in town. The list of things he should do was overwhelming and Damon just needed a break.

He started to wander aimlessly through the halls, spotting his brother at the other end of the emergency ward. Stefan was seated beside Matt Donovan who seemed to have completely caved in on himself. The quarterback looked nothing like himself, completely dishevelled and eyes bloodshot. Stefan was looking all broody and foreboding as he listened to Matt sputter about all his angry-with-life issues.

"I can't lose her, Stefan," Damon could hear him whimper. "I can't lose her too, on top of everyone else. I need her. I didn't know how much until now. And it's stupid, because you should know this stuff before crap like this happens. But I didn't, until right now. I can't-I just can't. If I lose Caroline too-I just can't. I need her-I need Caroline to-"

There was more dribble, Damon tuned it out. His eyes slid over to his brother, noted that Stefan was trying his hand at manly comfort by placing a hand awkwardly on Matt's trembling shoulder. Liz Forbes wandered into the hall, pausing to give Matt a touch on the back before moving towards Damon. The Sherriff had always been a tough lady, but a smart one as well. Liz Forbes knew when to ask for help, didn't think it below her. She was more concerned with getting the job done then getting credit for it getting done. She lived for this town, lived to protect her daughter and her civilian charges. He respected her. Sure their relationship was built on his phony facade of being a vampire hunter, but Damon respected her. She was strong, focused, and dedicated.

And she had been crying.

"I'm sure you've heard about John," she started off saying, voice strong in spite of her bloodshot eyes and red nose. "But Richard got caught up in it too. They're saying he was a vampire, which is ridiculous because we've seen Richard running around in daylight. I've personally administered his vervain shots on several occasions. It's goddamned lunacy to suggest Richard Lockwood was a vampire."

Damon knew this already, remembered the Mayor's last moments from his own spot in the burning basement. But he had gotten through that incident unscathed (thanks to his brother and the witch). So instead he shrugged and put a hand on her shoulder. "Liz, how is she?"

The Sherriff's face threatened to crumble right before his eyes. He watched apprehensively as her lower lip quivered, something deep down inside of him terrified to see this woman fall apart. But Liz pulled through, squaring back her shoulders and replying in the calmest voice she could muster. "The doctors are unsure if she'll make it. They say they've repaired most of the internal damage, but the blood loss and the head trauma make it impossible to tell. We have to wait and see."

Damon nodded. "I'm sorry Liz."

The Sherriff nodded, a few tears escaping her before she brushed them away. "I have to go phone her father," Liz muttered. "I haven't had time before. He's going to be furious that it took so long-"

"He'll get over it," Damon interjected. "Just call him now, and when he gets here, Caroline will be awake and as perky as ever."

Liz smiled, but his reassurance did nothing to chase the worry from her eyes. Damon watched as she turned and walked away, her shoulders drooping with defeat. And in that moment, it was all too much. Katherine's deception, Elena's concern, Matt's heartbreak, and the Sherriff-Liz Forbes looking broken and defeated-it was all too much.

He was inside her room in a blink of an eye. He looked down at her, remembering a vivacious young girl with golden hair, clear blue eyes, and a yellow sundress. That was the day he took her, started his game with Stefan and nearly destroyed this girl in front of him. He remembered the looks of terror, fear, and desperation. He also remembered the looks of derision, dismissal, and fierce defiance in her eyes that never failed to appear on her face until he chased them away with compulsion. Damon looked down on Caroline Forbes, pale-faced, bruised, and looking like death warmed over and felt guilt gnaw away at him.

It was a bad idea, but that never stopped him before. He cared nothing of consequences, only of relieving himself of all this god-awful, fucked up remorse this town and its people had pulled up out of him. He ripped off the oxygen mask, remembering a broken-down girl with long brown hair and large brown eyes who always seemed so defeated but still refused to die. He pried her lips and teeth apart, remembering an adorable blonde whose three hundred years of unlife made her stronger but not smarter than him. He slashed open his wrist, remembering an aged, but beautiful witch with eyes full of that endless Bennett awareness and disappointment. He filled her mouth with his own blood, remembering the feel of his own nephew's neck twisting and breaking under the force of his hands. He lifted her head to make sure she didn't choke and Damon found himself remembering all these things and caring about them.

"What are you doing?"

Stefan appeared on the other side of Caroline's bed, fists clenched and eyes wide with disbelief. Damon spared his brother a quick glance before turning back to Caroline. The blonde was still out of it, her breathing low and laboured as he put her head back down. He reached for the oxygen mask, putting it back over her mouth before acknowledging his brother. "I'm taking care of the situation, little brother."

"She's in critical condition!" Stefan snapped. "She could die any minute now. The blood might not even help. All you've done is-"

"Assured that Matt doesn't lose her," Damon finished for him. "Or Liz. She's too important to them. Neither of them would survive losing her."

"If she turns, she'll be lost to them anyway," Stefan growled. "We'd have to hide her, teach her to control herself, and then maybe she could see them again."

"Maybe is better than never," Damon shrugged. "Either way, it's up to Caroline now."

Stefan shook his head. "Damon, this isn't making it right."

"But it isn't making it any worse," Damon replied easily. "If she dies, then she dies. I'm just making sure she isn't lost forever."

"Why?"

Damon didn't have a good answer for that, so he shrugged again. "Too many people have died," he muttered. "Even a vampire can get tired of death, every now and then."

Stefan looked as if he wanted to bash his head against the wall, the frustration so clearly evident on his face. "Damon, this isn't the answer to every problem."

His brother was getting preachy again and Damon didn't have the stomach for it. He turned to leave the room, pausing in the doorway. "Katherine's back," he tossed over his shoulder before leaving.

He wasn't interested in Stefan's response. Actually, he wasn't too interested in his brother right now. A quick glance down the hall showed Matt and the Sherriff slumped against the wall, looking as tired and wretched as before. He walked over to Jeremy's room, noting that Alaric had shown up. The man stood with one arm wrapped around Jenna and one wrapped around Elena. Damon heard a whisper of a growl before Stefan was striding past him. His brother gathered his girlfriend into his arms and Damon rolled his eyes at the theatrics. He turned away from the grieving family, spotting a flash of black hair disappearing around the corner.

He had business with Bonnie, but nothing that could be dealt with tonight. But the urge to follow after the witch was too strong to ignore. Katherine had thrown him full off his game and in the midst of all the guilt, drama, blood, and death that muddled his brain, it occurred to him that it might be a good idea to warn the witch. Emily had been slightly less than truthful with Katherine, and he wouldn't put it past her to turn her attentions to Bonnie to exact her revenge. Katherine was melodramatic like that. Just look at what she did to John. The term 'overkill' didn't even start to cover it.

Damon cast another glance towards Elena and Stefan, the sight of them pressed even closer together not doing wonders for his mood. He growled, loud enough for Stefan to hear, and then stormed off after Bonnie.

She needed to know.

He looked up just in time to see a burst of flames erupt from where Bonnie was located. Damon disposed of the goblin-like creature he had been toying with for the past fifteen minutes and took off towards Bonnie.

He spotted her, chanting away in the midst of the flames. Leave it to Bonnie to be comfortable in the middle of a bonfire.

"Bonnie!"

"Seriously Elena, stop with the fucking yelling!" Damon growled into the air. "You want her to catch fire?"

Elena appeared at his side, Jeremy along with her. She gave Damon a dirty look. "That wasn't me," she grounded out through clenched teeth.

Damon started, glancing at Jeremy for confirmation. The young vampire nodded and cast an apprehensive look about him. "Stefan said something about kaftars. Apparently they're were-hyenas and they can imitate people's voices."

"Were-Hyenas?" Damon arched an eyebrow. "Seriously?"

Jeremy shrugged and Elena gasped, hands grabbing at both vampires before she pointed a shaking finger to the other side of the fire. Several tall, hairy things with large hind legs and claws about five inches long crept out of the shadows. Damon blinked and then started to count.

"Eight," Jeremy said breathlessly before Damon could finish.

Elena gulped nervously and Damon reached inside his jacket for one of the knives Alaric had given him before. "One of these days," he started conversationally as the creatures prowled closer. "We're going to have a sit down with my little brother and figure out exactly how and why he knows so much about all this monster-shit."

"If we live that long," Elena grumbled, hands shaking slightly as she lifts the shotgun Stefan fought and argued over until she learned how to use it. Elena was a surprisingly good shot, when she wasn't reeling backwards from the aftershock.

Damon grinned, eyes skipping over to check on Bonnie before returning to his companions.

"Optimism. I like it."

Night was approaching and at every step he felt more and more useless. Only Katherine Pierce can do this to him and he wondered if she was doing this to him on purpose. It was oddly thrilling to think, though he had no proof, that Katherine was motivated by him, even if she was only motivated to torment him. Obsession was obsession, whether it was productive or not, and that meant she still had feelings for him, right?

Great. Now he felt useless and pathetic. His life was a fucking nightmare, a twisted joke. And he couldn't even go back to not caring about it because that stupid guilt he felt wouldn't let him do it.

"Sure you can manage this, Little Witch?" The nickname was derisive and belittling. He had no real reason for it. Bonnie had proved herself time and again. The actual depth of her powers frightened some people. Those people were idiots; a powerful witch dedicated to protecting humans? Those didn't come along every other day. Most powerful witches were like other powerful creatures-they concerned themselves with getting more power. Bonnie's complete lack of personal ambition was rare, and unsettling. It was like she was too good to be true.

Bonnie's eyes flickered his way for just one second, but that second spoke volumes. You are so annoying. Can't you shut up for once? Why the hell are you here? I should light you on fire. Why isn't Stefan here protecting me from you? Where the hell did that crazy vampire bitch take the Sherriff? Why can't I find her? Why am I failing Caroline? And why Damon? Why is it always Damon?

He had a knack for reading people, so her thoughts were plain to see. Bonnie was entirely too expressive anyway. He was going to have to teach her to create a poker face, especially if she wanted to tangle with the likes of Katherine on a regular basis. It would take a special kind of oblivious to overlook what Bonnie was thinking-something only Tyler Lockwood seemed capable of achieving. The wolf in question was also present in Liz's bedroom, trying his best to pick up a scent but failing because he was too young and the full moon was too far away.

Bonnie was seated on the Sherriff's bed, holding one of Liz's sweaters in her hand. She clutched the material tightly in her hands and took long measured breaths. Tyler stopped his prowling of the room, coming to stand nervously next to Damon. Together they watched as Bonnie pulled herself into a trance.

There was something incredibly alluring about Bonnie Bennett, something that intensified when she did magic. It was like the air around her shifted and for one moment, right as her spell was complete, Bonnie become absolutely still. Locked in one place, it was all too easy to gaze at her face, marvel at her mocha-coloured skin, and become confounded by the pearly pink sheen of her lips.

Tyler's breath caught in his throat and Damon's relieved to know that she has the same effect on other people. Sometimes when Bonnie does magic, Damon catches himself thinking of all kinds of convoluted and dirty things that he usually saves for thoughts about Elena. But there was no denying that Bonnie was pure magic. Watching her like this was almost addictive.

The magic ended and Bonnie seemed to deflate temporarily. Damon let out a sigh, amused to find Tyler trying to awkwardly shake off his reaction to Bonnie's magic. The wolf ended up hiding behind Liz's armoire as he waited for his body to calm down. Damon snickered loudly, alerting Tyler to the fact that Damon knew what was happening. The wolf went beet red in the face and determinedly refused to look at anyone.

"What are you doing?"

Bonnie's voice was full of hostility, not that that was anything new. Damon did find a little annoying that Bonnie was fully prepared to think the worst of him at every turn. But that burdensome little speck of guilt he felt over her grandmother's death kept him from blurting it out. Stefan said that meant Damon was finally developing a conscience. Damon told Stefan to fuck off.

"I'm not doing anything," Damon replied after a moment of silence. "Sparky's just feeling a little . . . awkward about things. He needs a moment."

Bonnie flashed distrustful eyes at him but said nothing else. She raised the sweater towards Tyler, who darted forward and grabbed it before returning to his spot by the armoire. Damon had the hardest time not bursting out laughing at that, and at the look of utter confusion on the witch's face. But then Bonnie's eyes were back on him, hard and angry. "She's at the old Francher farm," Bonnie growled. "Your crazy bitch ex-girlfriend threw the Sherriff down the well. You two better hurry, and call the others before you go. Katherine doesn't seem like the toss and run type."

Tyler was already out the door and halfway down the stairs before Bonnie finished speaking. Damon arched an eyebrow at the witch, noting the bags under her eyes. "You're tired," he said awkwardly.

Green eyes flashed with annoyance and suspicion. "Yeah, so?"

Damon stifled the urge to snap at her. He was trying to be nice. "You shouldn't stay here. Katherine already found a way in, and she's not above collecting extra hostages. And you need to rest. Things could turn out worse than ever and we might need your witch-fu to deal with it."

Bonnie shook her head, slowing easing off the bed. "I'm going over to Alaric's," she muttered whilst rubbing at her eyes tiredly. "Jenna and Caroline are already there. Stefan will probably drop Elena off there before joining you two. We'll be fine; Katherine's not invited there."

"Won't stop her from doing something," Damon warned. "You can light a house on fire as easily from the outside as you can from within. Keep your eyes open."

Now she was giving him a strange look. Mistrust and Damon Salvatore seemed to be forever linked in her mind. Damon flexed his fingers, trying desperately not to lash out in anger. He knew he had given her plenty of reasons to hate him; Damon was just getting tired of having to prove his sincerity. They were on the same side, whether she liked it or not, and damn if he's going to put up with her attitude and Katherine's shenanigans at the same time.

"Get your things," he ordered roughly. Bonnie went from confused to angry in about three seconds, opening her mouth to let loose some form of verbal abuse but was cut off by loud honking from outside.

"Get a move on!" Tyler shouted from the driveway. "We've got a Sherriff to save and vampires to slay. That shit takes time!"

Bonnie snapped her mouth shut, irritation washing over her features as she snapped up her purse and keys. "You're a bad influence," was all she said as she shoved past him. Damon brushed off her barbs and followed, thinking that perhaps he was a great influence. Tyler used to be this whiny, useless wolf who was still pretty whiny, but was getting quite useful at cutting tension with inappropriate or profane comments that rang too true to be discounted.

"We're following Bonnie back to Alaric's," Damon announced as he exited the Forbes' residence.

"I can drive there myself," Bonnie insisted with a roll of the eyes. "And besides, doesn't this shit take time?"

"Dude, don't be bitchy," was Tyler's contribution. "He's just trying to help."

Damon made a mental note to do something nice for the wolf, right after he tore him a new one for his overuse of the word 'dude'. Bonnie froze, seemingly shocked that someone would come to Damon's aide that wasn't either a) related to him, or b) dating someone related to him. The witch sniffled indignantly, hitching her purse higher up on her shoulder before heading to her car. "I'll be fine," she reiterated. "But you two need to hurry. All squabbling aside, the Sherriff is in a well, most likely surrounded by hungry vampires. The Francher farm is on the other side of town from Alaric's house. You don't have the time to baby me. Go; I'll be fine."

Damon felt the need to argue with her, and not just because he liked arguing with her. She seemed to read his mind, turning on him with determined green eyes. "Just go," she ordered, softening her command by flashing the two of them a half-smile. "The Sherriff needs you more."

It didn't stop him from waiting until she got in her car, backed out, and disappeared around the corner before getting into the car with Tyler. The wolf had a similarly displeased look on his face as he climbed behind the wheel. "You should be nicer when you talk to her," Tyler commented as he eased the car out onto the street.

Damon scoffed. "Why?"

"Because you'll never get her to give you the time of day this way," Tyler replied simply. Damon frowned, unsure if the wolf was implying what Damon thought he was implying. One look at Tyler's face confirmed his suspicions and Damon opened his mouth to start denying/berating Tyler's stupid comments, but the wolf was quicker. "Don't bother arguing, dude. I'm not Einstein, but I'm also not an idiot. You dig Bonnie."

Tyler's fading obliviousness was no longer amusing. Damon rolled his eyes and stared angrily out the window. "If I ever hear you say 'dude' or 'dig' again, I'll wait for the next full moon, pump you full of sedatives, and then take you to the vet to get you neutered."

Tyler was quiet the entire way to Francher's farm.

Damon was having fun, despite Elena's curses and Jeremy's increasing nerves. The kaftars were making for good sport. They were mostly muscle and lacked an ability to plan beyond luring their prey out by calling to them. Tossing them about and hearing their bones crack, it was the most fun Damon had since the night started.

And it continued to be fun right up until the moment when one of the freaks got past him, to Bonnie, and lunged at her with its claws.

Blinding rage overtook him in seconds. He dove for the creature, seeing only Bonnie in his mind's eye. He ripped and tore and gouged and finally wrenched the creature's head from its shoulders.

For a second, there was silence in that clearing. And then: "Wow, you've got it bad, huh?"

Damon growled and Elena shot her brother an aggrieved look. "Jeremy, shut up."

This monster bullshit was seriously starting to get on his nerves.

He trudged through the front door of his house, wincing as one of the cuts on his back began to burn again. He wasn't entirely sure what those Vetala demons were, but they had something a little extra to them because he wasn't healing properly. Neither were Jeremy and Stefan, though Jeremy was the only one whining about it. The kid had a lot of ideas about what being a vampire entailed and when things didn't work out the way he wanted . . . Well, let's just say that it's a good thing Elena was so attached to Jeremy, because Damon did not have the patience for this shit.

"Thank god," Elena ran into the lobby, looking harried. She had two vials of some purplish fluid and a bag of cotton swabs in hand. Her eyes travelled over all three, determined they were in one piece, before starting again. "Did you get them?"

"All of them," Stefan assured her quietly, easing past his brother to greet his girlfriend. Elena rushed to embrace him, but Stefan put up a hand to stop her. "Don't. They had venom in their claws. It's not too painful, more just a stinging sensation than anything else, but our wounds aren't healing completely."

"Right," Elena waved the objects in her hands at them. "Bonnie was reading up on them and she found out about the poison. We tried phoning you, but no one was picking up. She found the antidote and we just need to wipe some of it on all the wounds, and everything will be fine. She's making up the last batch right now, but I can get started-"

"I think I'll let these two stay with you," Damon said with a grin, moving past Elena and in the direction of Bonnie's room. "The idea of watching you smother your brother and nuzzle my brother isn't too appetizing."

He was out of the room before Elena could respond. He was halfway to Bonnie when his ears picked up her mutterings: "Like Bonnie has nothing to do with it."

The witch was indeed finishing up, pouring the last bit of antidote into a vial like the ones Elena had. He knocked at the door in mock politeness, smirking at the way Bonnie spun around, eyes wide and her heart-rate picking up a bit of speed. The surprise soon faded into the usual irritation Bonnie seemed to reserve especially for him.

"What?" she asked with a slight shake of her head.

"Come for my medicine, doctor," Damon chirped, loving the way her eyes narrowed at his flippancy. "Elena is tending to the boy-toy and the bro-cousin. You, lucky girl, get me."

Bonnie's eyes said a lot about how lucky she felt. Damon's smirk transformed into a full-blown grin and soon he was hopping onto the table she used to brew her witchy soups and taking off his jacket and pulling his shirt over his head. "Try not to faint," he instructed with a wink. Bonnie snorted, but moved forward with the antidote and cotton swabs in hand.

"How are the others?" she asked as she worked, eyes losing their irritation as she focused on the task at hand.

Damon shrugged, fighting back a wince at the stinging sensations that erupted across his back at the movement. "More or less the same as me. Jeremy's whinier than Stefan, which comes as an unwelcome surprise to my little brother. He's been practicing his nasal whine for the past hundred and forty years, it's embarrassing to be showed up by a newbie."

Bonnie's eyes flickered upwards and met his own. Damon would be loathed to admit it, but Bonnie's eyes were his favourite thing about her. Yeah, she was snarky and fun to pester, not to mention blessed with a lithe little body that gave him the most interesting ideas, but her eyes were the best. There was humour, righteousness, and deathly potential in those green eyes, and sometimes looking into them gave him the funniest feeling . . .

"You should stop teaching him to be so . . . like you," she murmured as she went back to her work. "He's getting dangerously cocky. And annoying-like twenty times worse than he was when he was ten."

That's right. Bonnie, Elena, Caroline and the other Junior A-team members had known each other since their swaddling years. He sometimes forgot they had a whole history that didn't include him or his brother. Certainly they hadn't been together like they were now, but they had travelled in the same circles their entire lives. Bonnie remembered Jeremy at ten like it was yesterday. Damon remembered his brother at ten, but that was lifetimes ago. He barely felt a connection to that time and for the first time in a long while, he felt bad about it.

"He's not that bad," Damon defended quietly, trying to shake off memories that he didn't want to indulge in.

Bonnie stopped her work and gave him the most incredulous look. "Do you even remember what he did to those sorority girls? Oh yeah, of course you remember. You're the one who encouraged him to do it in the first place."

Damon grinned, his previous melancholy forgotten at the mention of one of Jeremy's more impressive stunts. "Hey, they were having naked pillow fights anyway. I don't see any reason for him not to insinuate himself in there as a referee. They need a referee. Someone could get a feather in the eye, or some other grievous injury. Trust me; I'm basing this on personal experience."

Bonnie snorted again. Damon laughed at her reaction. "No need to be so jealous, Little Witch. Even the memories of the Tri-Delta Phi naked pillow fight of 1997 can't hold a candle to the prospect of you in those go-go boots."

Bonnie said nothing, but Damon was soon yelping in pain as she pressed down hard on a particularly large wound. "Oops," she said absently, flashing him an insincere smile. "My hand slipped."

Damon narrowed his eyes at her, more amused than annoyed by her actions. Bonnie arched a brow at him challengingly and turned around to dump the used swabs into the garbage. A thought came to him, and soon Damon slipped off the table, walked the two strides to Bonnie, faked a stumble, and 'slipped' a hand of his own to Bonnie's lovely behind.

Bonnie screeched, more in outrage than pain, and whirled around to face him. He waved the offending hand in air and wriggled the digits at her. "Oops," he chortled. Green eyes flared with outrage. He was almost tempted to take a step back. Instead, he grinned down at her and arched an eyebrow back at her.

Later, after Stefan finished helping him beat out the flames and Bonnie had run off towards her house with Elena in tow, he was still grinning. Stefan shook his head at him, rubbing at his healing hands. "Seriously? Are you trying to get her to kill you?"

Damon dismissed this with a snort and careless wave of his hand. "Please, she wasn't trying to kill me. Notice how the only thing she set on fire was the cuff of my jeans. She just wanted to get my pants off."

"You were only wearing pants," Stefan reminded him unnecessarily.

"Again, besides the point," Damon frowned at his brother. "Do I have to spell it out for you? If she really wanted to do me harm, she would have set my hair on fire. Until that day comes, it's just her attempt at dealing with her overabundance of lust for my Adonis-like body."

This was usually the point in the conversation where Stefan stomped out, angry to see his attempt at reasoning/reprimanding his older brother had failed yet again. Such stomping was often accompanied by long hours of brooding forehead and dramatic sighs of resignation. But today, Stefan only laughed.

Damon looked at his brother curiously. "What's so funny?"

Stefan shook his head, shoulders still shaking with mirth. "Just trying to remember the last time you tried sexually harassing Elena, and I'm drawing a blank for the past three months. Right about the time Bonnie moved all her supplies here. Funny coincidence, don't you think?"

"Subtlety is not your strong suit," Damon said bluntly. "You have something to say, little brother? Try just saying it."

Stefan's only response was to laugh once more. Damon had the urge to defend himself, make some more lewd comments about where his interests in Bonnie really lay, but he figured that would add fuel to the fire. His brother was annoyingly perceptive some days, and this was a subject he wasn't too keen on having Stefan look too closely at. He would handle this thing with Bonnie his own way, even if she kept setting him on fire.

Besides, hadn't he already established how unbelievably hot Bonnie was when doing magic? It took him a second to realize he was on fire before, his mind too preoccupied with visions of Bonnie and some decidedly un-PG-Rated things.

His silence didn't exactly put Stefan off, though the chuckles had died off into a shit-eating grin that made Damon want to put his brother through a wall. He settled for leaving the room, his face the perfect vision of nonchalance and disinterest that didn't fool his brother for one second.

A loud clash of thunder rang through the house just as he entered the parlour room. He paused, exchanging a frown with his brother, before glancing towards the windows. Jeremy was already there, peeking around the blinds at the storm brewing outside. The young vampire turned at their entrance, motioning to the outside with his head. "It started like five minutes ago," he informed them. "It was really weird, especially 'cause it was sunny before that."

Damon said nothing, joining Jeremy by the window to look at the outside world. It was raining, hard. The water fell from the sky in buckets, looking more like a waterfall than a rainstorm.

"It could be nothing," Stefan murmured from just behind them.

Damon snorted at his brother's naivety. "In this town?"

Jeremy frowned at the brothers, mouth opening to say something but cut off by another bout of glass-rattling thunder. He turned back to the window, his frown increasing rather than easing. "There's no lightning," he muttered despondently.

Damon sighed and rubbed at his eyes tiredly. "We never get a fucking break."

Stefan said nothing, just patted Jeremy on the back for reassurance before giving his brother a significant look. "I'll call the others."

Outside, thunder sounded once again.

The world went to hell.

Wind blew, creatures of the night shrieked, earth rumbled, and skies shook. Damon grabbed Elena and threw her to the ground, pausing to grab Jeremy by the scruff of his neck before toppling down on top of the two. Dirt, rocks, and branches flew around, pelting his back as the wind roared in his ears. A litany of curses spewed from his mouth, causing Jeremy to laugh wildly while Elena sputtered.

It lasted for about ten minutes, but those ten minutes felt like hours. The wind settled and Damon waited a couple seconds before easing off the Gilberts. Jeremy sprang from to his feet, face alternating between joy that the worst was over and annoyance that Damon had tossed him to the floor as if he was a human in need of protection. Elena swatted at her brother, distracting him from his impending whine by waving a hand erratically in his direction, indicating she wanted help up. The other hand was curled up against her chest and Elena slightly pale in the face. Damon thought back to the fight but couldn't remember at what point she had injured it.

Jeremy seemed to notice this at the same time as Damon. He pulled his sister to her feet before reaching out and examining the injured hand. Damon turned and left the siblings to it, eyes going across the clearing and lips curving up into a smirk as he spotted Bonnie standing firmly on her two feet.

Then she wavered, and fell.

Damon ran.

His first thought as he regained consciousness again was that he felt like shit. He couldn't remember the last time he felt this bad. Even grappling with those Vetalas hadn't left him this weak. Damon opened his eyes and found the world blurry. Various curses regarding fox demons rolled around his brain as he waited for his vision to clear. Sounds of fabric swishing and someone moving about and humming told him he had company. He remembered that Bonnie had been with him last time he had been awake, and she had been taking care of him. Of course this had brought to mind many images of Bonnie in a slutty nurse outfit that had made the pain bearable.

A blanket appeared and started to move up his body. He raised his eyes and saw a mane of golden hair instead of the raven locks he had been hoping to see. Caroline's eyes met his own and she quirked a smile at him before resuming her task of covering him. Damon watched this warily, noting that the cheerleader was in an alarmingly good mood for someone who had just found out she was pregnant and almost had her babies ripped out of her.

"Shouldn't make that face," she chirped at him, settling the blanket at his rib cage and smoothing out the wrinkles. "It might get stuck that way."

Damon scoffed and Caroline winked at him as she settled into a chair beside his bed. "What do you think, Mommy enough?"

"Please don't tell me you're using my injuries as a way to practice for the arrival of your pair of squalling brats," Damon replied, a small smile finding its way onto his face. His eyes swept the room as discreetly as possible, his spirit deflating just a bit when he saw that they were alone.

"She's resting," Caroline informed him, shattering his belief in his own discretion. "Stefan had to carry her out of here. She fell asleep at your bedside."

And then Caroline was giving him that grin she used to give when something particularly gossip-worthy came to her attention. Damon just arched an eyebrow at her and settled back onto his pillow, discomforted by the prospect of discussing him and Bonnie with anyone at all, or maybe just Caroline in particular. "What did the doctor have to say?"

"That I'm pregnant," Caroline said with a careless shrug. "I kind of already knew that, but Matt insisted that I go. He gave us this list of dietary habits and vitamins that I'm going to need, so Matt and Elena are downstairs mapping out every day of the rest of my pregnancy."

She was too blasé about the whole thing. Damon shook his head at her behaviour, knowing from the way her lips twitched that she was trying hard not to smile. Her boyfriend might be overdoing it, but his zeal made her happy. "So, have you and Mutt figured out what to do about the Sherriff? She's still a proud shotgun owner, right?"

Blue eyes flickered his way and he saw a flash of anxiety before Caroline covered it. "Forget about that stuff," she ordered him. "It's way too boring. Tell me, what do you need? Nurse Caroline is here and reporting for duty, as long as you shall need it."

Now the images of Bonnie in the nurse outfit wavered and then doubled, until both Bonnie and Caroline were there, stethoscopes hanging in front of barely concealed cleavage. Damon waited a second, and sure enough, Elena soon joined them.

"What are you smiling at?"

Damon just smirked at her. "So, this nursing thing-are full body sponge baths included?"

Caroline narrowed her eyes at him. "Sure," she replied easily. "I might have to get Tyler and Matt to help me lift you-you'd be okay with that, right?"

The images in his head now turned ugly. Damon chased them away with a shiver. "You're cruel," he muttered.

Caroline laughed and then reached across to grab something from the night table. She held a mug of blood in her hands with that blasted pink swirly straw in it. "Open wide," she instructed, bringing the straw to his lips. Damon glared, but obeyed, sucking back the blood with loud slurping noises. Caroline rolled her eyes at his behaviour and then went back to humming. She was oddly content, and pleased to be in his company. It was a drastic change from before. He supposed they had bonded, what with him nearly dying to save her and her unborn children and her frantically slashing at her own wrists to feed him blood when his teeth had been shattered.

He finished and leant back, watching as she went about cheerfully putting the mug away. She became aware of his scrutiny soon enough, sighing as she rose from her chair and settled herself on the bed, her left thigh pressing against his. She took his hand in her own, his eyes the bulky bandage on her wrist before he realized what she was doing. Caroline smiled softly and gave his hand a hard squeeze.

"And this is our dramatic, emotional reconciliation scene," she murmured.

"I don't do tears," Damon warned.

"Like I would cry because we're friends now," Caroline wrinkled her nose, but didn't release his hand. "You're not that amazing."

Damon chuckled and flexed his hand, fingers tightening around hers. "Keep telling yourself that."

"Can you stop being an ass for five seconds and just listen? I'm trying to forgive you."

Damon sighed, thinking of the impending conversation and trying to find a way out of it. "I'm honoured to be forgiven. Let's just leave it at that, okay?"

Her eyes narrowed and her hand tightened around his. Damon recognized the look she was giving him, the same one she used to give him before he would have to compel her into obeying. "Look, Caroline, is the past something we really want to rehash? I'm sorry for the way things happened, but bringing all that up is so going to spoil this whole newfound friendship/kinky-nurse-patient vibe we've got going."

Caroline glared at him in silent appraisal. Whatever she saw was enough for her to lose the angry look, but not enough to loosen her grip on his hands. "Bonnie's my best friend," she said in a quiet voice. "And I know her better than anyone, even better than Elena. Bonnie loves full out, with everything she has, and once she loves, you can bank on it being permanent."

"Thanks for the info," Damon muttered, not liking the way the conversation was now turning. Maybe he should have let her finish her heartfelt forgiveness and make-up scene. He had the feeling it would be less painful than this.

"Don't interrupt," she ordered firmly. "You're going to listen to this Damon, and you're going to hear me. Bonnie is not some cheap, Katherine fill-in; she is not a pastime for you to indulge in until you get either Katherine or Elena back in your bed."

"I don't want Katherine in my bed," Damon objected with venom. "And Elena would never-"

"I know, but that doesn't matter," Caroline shook her head at him. "You're chasing after Bonnie, even if you aren't being over-the-top romantic about it. And she's starting to let you catch up. She better not be a conquest, or something as inanely chauvinistic as that. You better mean it."

"And what if I do?" Damon challenged her.

Caroline smiled, all anger and threats pushed back behind a facade of sugary sweetness. "The real reason to worry would be if you don't. I'm all for forgiveness today, because you came through for me. But I'm just letting you know, Bonnie is my breaking point. She's a lot of people's breaking point-Elena included. Be smart, Damon."

Damon felt slightly insulted. "I'm very smart," he informed her.

Caroline just smiled that sugary sweet smile again and patted his hand before getting up. "Sure Damon."

Damon was quietly, but completely, freaking out. He reached her first, barely hearing Elena's screams for Stefan, Matt, Tyler, Alaric, God, Merlin, and whoever else she thought could fix this. Bonnie was entirely too still, her lips a faint bluish colour and her skin pale and sallow.

She looked dead.

"Come on Bonnie," Damon whispered as he cradled her body in his arms, one hand free to shake her face gently. "Wake up."

Bonnie didn't wake up.

Damon no longer felt calm.

"Bonnie!"

Damon was angry, and so he stomped up to Stefan's room, knocked with fake politeness, and then punched his brother in the face when the door opened.

Elena shouted with alarm from her position on the bed. He took a second to see if she was decent (sadly she was) and then he turned his attention back to his little brother.

"This is all your doing," Damon growled as he watched Stefan struggle to his feet. Damon's punch had tossed Stefan clear across the room. "What the fuck were you thinking? This plan is stupid, and Bonnie will die if she does that spell. Do you understand that? She will die!"

Elena paled significantly. She looked anxiously between both brothers, eyes lingering on Stefan as she pleaded for reassurance. "He's just overreacting," Elena mumbled desperately, staring hard at her boyfriend. "She won't really . . ."

Stefan sighed and dropped his eyes to the floor. "There's a risk," was all he said. Elena reacted with a muffled sob, brown eyes watering immediately. Damon responded by picking up the nearest night table and throwing it at his brother's head. Elena's sob changed to a shriek as Stefan sped out of the way to avoid the large projectile. The combination of her screams and the crash of the table alerted the other monster-fighting club members and soon Matt and Tyler were bursting through the door.

Tyler gazed around the room, taking in the mess and Stefan's bedraggled appearance before letting loose a low whistle. "Dude, you ever think of taking anger management classes?"

"Again with the 'dude'!" Damon snarled. "What have I said about 'dude'?" He glared at the newcomers, not wanting a bigger audience for this situation. Some things were better left private and between brothers (and brother's girlfriend). But privacy had quickly become a thing of the past once all these humans started coming over on a regular basis. And they all had keys. Stefan's doing, of course. "Where's Gilbert and the future Mr. Jenna Sommers? Don't they want to intrude as well?"

"Jeremy went hunting," Tyler supplied quickly. "And Alaric said he didn't feel like angst and teen drama today. He's watching Oprah downstairs."

Matt stopped any further explanations as he pushed his way further into the room, coming to stand directly in between the two brothers. "What is this supposed to accomplish?" he asked quietly. Damon was a second late in realizing that Mutt was addressing him. He rolled his eyes at the quarterback before jabbing a finger in Stefan's general direction.

"My brother and I were just working on a few minor details about the plan," Damon explained with false cheer. "You know, the incredibly stupid plan that's going to get a whole bunch of us killed."

"And I'm sure your concern is with the welfare of all of us, not just the petite, pretty, witchy ones among us," Matt returned smoothly. He gave the elder Salvatore a disappointed look. "This won't stop her, Damon."

"But it makes me feel better," Damon grounded out through clenched teeth.

Tyler snorted from the doorway. "No it doesn't," the wolf laughed. "It just distracts you from having to worry, or you know, do something about your Bonnie-thing."

Damon gave the wolf a deadly glare. "You know I'm fully stocked up on animal tranquillizers and have the vet's number on speed dial, right?"

"There you go again," Matt interjected with a shake of his head. "Damon, don't you think you could come to a rational agreement about this plan if you only talked to Bonnie about it?"

Damon gave the boy a look. "Right, Bonnie has the key to saving the whole town in her hands, and she's not going to use it because I asked nicely? Don't be stupid. We all know there's no pulling her back now."

"True, but that doesn't mean you can't talk to her about this," Matt gave Damon a hard look. "Give her something for good luck."

Everyone in the room came to a standstill. Elena looked contemplative while Stefan looked shocked. Damon mulled over the suggestion, noting that Tyler looked just a tad bit lost but was trying to cover it.

Stefan recovered first. "Matt, you can't be serious-"

"We've all lost enough," was Matt's rebuttal. "And it seems to be working for Jeremy."

"She'd never go for it," Damon mused. "I'd be lucky if she only set my pants on fire if I brought it up."

Elena gave a harsh laugh from her spot on the bed. "We're long past fire days, Damon. Don't you know anything about her at all?"

But he did, and they all knew it. In fact, it could be said that he knew too much about her. Every twitch, every face, every quirk of her lips-Damon knew what they meant. It just wasn't something he was willing to admit. It wasn't something he was ready to name just yet.

But maybe the time had come, nonetheless.

"I love her," he growled, barely loud enough for the humans to hear. "Are you nosy little pricks happy? I love Bonnie for things other than her incredible power, gorgeous face, and killer body-not that those things don't help. But still, I love her. You know it, I know it-deep down, even she knows it-but it doesn't change the fact that she's going to do this spell. She made up her mind ever since my shit-for-brains brother told her about it. So, I love her and now I get to watch her die."

Elena was crying at this point, but she still had a smile for him. "It might not end up that way," she whispered quietly.

"Yeah right, 'cause we'll are so naturally lucky," Damon muttered darkly, spinning on his heel and heading for the stairs.

"Where are you going?" Matt called after him.

"Where do you think?" Damon shot back. "I'm going to go make the witch an indecent proposal, which will end with either her crying and professing love or my ass on fire-again."

Tyler clapped him on the shoulder supportively. "I'll go get the fire extinguisher."

Stefan had the gall to laugh.

Stefan was the first to answer Elena's screams.

"I told you this was a bad idea!" Damon roared at his brother. "She's dying!"

Damon cradled Bonnie's head carefully in one hand, bringing the other up towards his mouth. The action snapped Stefan out of his shock. "Damon, don't! She wouldn't want you to!"

"You think I care what she wants?" Damon snorted. "She never gave a damn about what I wanted! I damn near begged-"

His brother seemed too horrified to continue arguing with him. That was the closest Damon ever came to sounding so desperate since the day when he thought Katherine had been taken away from him.

Bonnie stirred, faintly, in his arms. Damon started at the motion and pulled the witch closer to his chest. He dared to feel hopeful. "Damon," she moaned in a barely audible voice. "Stop it."

Un-fucking-believable. "Goddamn it woman! Stop telling me what to do!"

"Damon! She just spoke to you!" Tyler, the king of stupid and useless commentary.

Damon scoffed and gave the wolf an exasperated look. "Figures that she would use her last breaths to nag at me one last time."

"If she's strong enough to talk, maybe a little bit won't hurt," Alaric suggested from behind Stefan. Damon blinked, not remembering seeing the man arrive. His eyes dropped to where Matt lay crumpled at the teacher's feet. The quarterback looked like he was in pain, and so did a lot of the others. And Bonnie looked more than halfway to dead.

"But what if she gets mad?" was Jeremy's question. The young vampire looked hopelessly lost, his youth blatantly obvious in his wide-eyed expression and every nervous twitch of his fingers.

"Who cares?" Elena interrupted before anyone else could speak. Damon arched an eyebrow at her, surprised at her outburst. She caught his gaze and shrugged. "She'll be alive to do it," was all she had to say.

Damon didn't bother waiting for anyone else. He bit into his wrist, not even blinking at the pain, and moved his hand over Bonnie's mouth. Slowly, the blood dripped down into her mouth. He waited for one breathless moment and then relaxed visibly when she started to swallow.

This might work. Please let it work . . .

The witch had found a pair of black sweatpants to tug on under her shirt (no doubt something Caroline scrounged up from her emergency bag-Mutt had gone mental and packed such a bag for any place he thought Caroline spent a significant amount of time. It would be cute, if it weren't so aggravating). Damon felt just a bit put out to see those gorgeous legs hidden behind the baggy clothes, but at least she was still in his nightshirt. It was the stupidest and sexiest outfit he had ever seen her wearing.

He was also immensely smug about the fact that she had come seeking him. Tyler and Jeremy, for once, weren't completely dense about the situation and left the parlour room with little fanfare. He watched them trot off towards the kitchen, pausing to consider how much time those two had been spending together the past couple of months. Tyler was sleeping over more nights than Elena these days. It was curious . . .

"So what? Are you ignoring me now?"

She said it with a smirk on her face and an arch of her eyebrows. There was no real anger to her question, but her tone belied her anxiety. Damon felt his own lips twitching upwards as he looked upon his little witch, up and about on her own two feet after five of the worst days of his unlife. It was enough to make him want to do something incredibly, like smile or hold hands.

"Why? Would that bother you?" he replied easily. Bonnie paused and stared hard at him. He could see her weighing the pros and cons of expressing her annoyance with him. He didn't really care if she did or didn't. He's just too fucking happy to see her awake. She could yell at him for hours and he wouldn't lift a finger to stop her. Sure his ears would hurt and sooner or later he'd get annoyed, but he wouldn't stop her. Any indication that Bonnie was back from the brink was fine with him.

In the end, she didn't bother yelling or nagging, even though it's very clear to Damon that she wanted to. Bonnie stepped further into the room, circling his position in the armchair before coming to a rest on the couch. He tilted his head her way, signalling that she had his full attention.

"You know, this is kind of crazy," she started off saying. "Actually, it's very crazy. Why are we even here?"

Damon rolled his eyes. "Hell witch, I know you're not that dumb. Are you trying to get me to say it first? Is that it? Well, I'm just as stubborn as you. I can beat you at your own denser-than-a-slab-of-wrought-iron game with no problem-"

"God Damon! That's not what I meant!" Bonnie's eyes flashed with irritation as she scooted closer to the edge of the couch nearest him. "You can't think it would be so easy, can you? There are some serious issues we would have to talk about-"

"How many serious issues could be left?" he countered. "We've done the I-nearly-killed-you-thing and the you-lied-to-me-about-the-watch-thing. We've been kicking monster ass together for almost a whole year-I wanted to give you my blood! Bonnie, I think we've done all the serious stuff. Let's just relax and let it be simple."

Bonnie looked uncertain. "Katherine's still out there."

Damon shrugged. "We'll deal with her when she comes back. You and I both owe her a few pieces of retribution."

"Elena's my best friend, and still with Stefan-"

"Let him have her!" Damon rolled his eyes. "I'm so over that now. I just keep up the random flirting because every time I do, Stefan's forehead expands another inch."

Bonnie's bit her lip, obviously trying to think up another obstacle they didn't really have to clear. Damon let loose an annoyed huff and she stopped her thinking to glare at him. "No more referring naked pillow fights," she declared finally.

"Agree to the go-go boots and we've got a deal," Damon waggled an eyebrow at her. Bonnie tried to keep back a smile, but failed miserably.

"Fine," she muttered, her lips pursed in an attempt to push back the goofy grin.

Damon grinned for a full ten seconds before he sped over to the couch, pulled Bonnie into his lap and kissed her senseless. It was such an utterly perfect moment that the cheers and catcalls coming from the kitchen barely fazed him at all. He pulled back from his witch for a quick second and bellowed "perverts!" in the direction of their audience.

And then he went back to Bonnie.