Just Once

~An AU Fan Fic starting in the middle of episode 1x15, "A Few Good Men". Damon, already emotionally wrecked from discovering that Katherine wasn't in the tomb and never loved him in the first place, hits rock bottom when he finds out he "killed" Elena's mother. Too distraught to take it any longer, he packs up and skips town. Time passes, and Elena realizes she's no longer angry at Damon. Her life isn't at its best, and she decides to go find Damon and try to bring him back. Because someone needs to pick him, just once. ~

Fan Fic #2! I'm infinitely grateful and shocked at the response my first story, Reading Between the Lines, got. To all of you who read that one and are giving this story a chance, thank you so much! I hope and pray this one doesn't disappoint. A few points before we get started: in this story, the tomb vamps never escaped. I decided they would muddle up my own storyline too much, and hinder Delena progress. Some characters will also be excluded, like Uncle John and Katherine. This story takes place before Katherine's return, as I'd like to pretend that we're still all blissfully unaware of the idea that she would come storming back in. Also, for those of you who don't know, I'm an intense team Damon/Delena shipper. So if Stefan is what rings your bell, I would advise you to stop reading right now, unless you're looking to be converted. On a side note, we're less than 2 weeks away from season 2! The anticipation is torture. All of these promos and interviews are such a tease! Enough of my fangirl ramblings; I hope you enjoy!

Disclaimer: No, nothing has changed since last time. I still don't own the Salvatores, or anyone else in TVD for that matter. I'm just delusional to the point that I have to write my own Delena tales to satisfy my obsession with the two of them. Because being a Delena shipper is much more masochistic than being a Stelena shipper, as most of us very well know.

Chapter 1: Behind Blue Eyes

No one knows what it's like to be the bad man

To be the sad man behind blue eyes

No one knows what it's like

To be hated, to be fated to only telling lies

But my dreams, they aren't as empty

As my conscience seems to be

I have hours, only lonely

My love is vengeance that's never free

"Did I forget to mention, earlier when we were talking, about my birth mother, the one who gave me up?"

"Mhm?" Damon murmured in reply, curious to see where Elena was taking this.

"Her name was Isobel," Elena related to him coldly, her voice threatening to tremble.

Shit. Damon couldn't form a coherent thought other than that, and his stomach dropped. His emotions were already in shambles, and finding out that he had taken away the birth mother of the only human he cared about was the straw that just might break this camel's back. The smirk fell off his face, revealing a rare glimpse of his real emotions. He was too stricken to try and cover them up at the moment.

"Go ahead. Reminisce about how you killed her," Elena ground out, hurt and anger clouding her voice. She pushed past him, stalking off with her head down. Damon turned, numbly watching her go. Stefan shook his head, giving him a weary, chastising look, and followed his girlfriend. Damon's face distorted in distress, something unnamable eating away at him. What was wrong with him? Since when did turning someone bother him? Since it hurt someone you had gotten to know. Since when had hurting someone bothered him? Damon refused to let himself answer that question. Not knowing what else to do, he walked around the building and traipsed across the parking lot to sit in his car. Sitting alone in the glow of the streetlights, he sighed and rubbed a hand down his face. He couldn't go back in there and face Elena; he wouldn't be able to stand her looking at him, knowing what she knew. Anger he could handle; but seeing such pain in her eyes, and knowing that he was the reason it was there, was unbearable.

Damon glanced around, suddenly wondering why he was still here. There was nothing to keep him here; Katherine wasn't in the tomb and obviously didn't give a damn where he was, his brother and his girlfriend didn't want him here, and all of the memories of the town haunted him night and day. No one wanted him. There was no reason to stay. Something tugged at him, telling him that there was one reason to stay, but Damon pushed it away, knowing that that one reason didn't want him to. Especially not after tonight. Resolutely, Damon started his classic old car, revving the engine and turning to cruise down the street. A few minutes later, he was at the boarding house, the old structure looming above him in the night.

As Damon stepped through the front door, he was suddenly in a hurry. He didn't want to stay here a second longer. He packed his belongings with supernatural speed, tossing his entirely black wardrobe and a few other things into a suitcase and dumping it into the trunk of his car. Not looking back, he slammed the front door with unnecessary force and ducked into the front seat of his car, speeding away. Yet as his car drew near Maple Street, he unconsciously slowed down, his eyes drifting down the road to Elena's house. Not really knowing why, he turned onto the street, cruising to a stop in front of her home.

Quietly shutting the door to his car, but leaving the engine running, Damon snatched a rose from the bushes near the house and made a graceful leap onto the roof, landing near the window he knew led into Elena's room. Easing it open, he carefully stepped over the sill, his boots meeting her soft carpet. In the room, he was overwhelmed by the heavenly sweet scent he had memorized by now. Closing his eyes and inhaling, he savored the moment before crossing over to her dresser, studying the pictures she had tucked into the mirror. Her with her girlfriends on a night out, leaning on each other and laughing; Her with her parents and Jeremy, everyone posed but smiling genuinely; Her and Stefan, their heads leaning together and his brother smiling yet pensive; and finally, Elena on her 16th birthday, not looking directly at the camera, her mouth twisted into an amused smile and face aglow from the candles on the cake. Damon gently pulled the last picture from the frame of the mirror, and glancing at it once more, he tucked it into his pocket. Why he wanted to hold on to the memory of her, he didn't know; it would merely force open old wounds. Thinking of her would never allow him a fresh start, but then maybe he'd rather remember her and be miserable than start over and never see her face again. Looking down at the rose dangling from his fingers, Damon carefully laid it on the top of the dresser beneath the mirror. As his fingers brushed the deep red petals, he marveled at their softness, and was suddenly reminded of how similar Elena's cheek had felt under his fingers that night when he had sneaked up to her room, close to when he had first met her. Shaking his head as if to clear it, Damon lithely climbed back out the window and jumped carelessly back down to his car. He was about to set off for good, before he remembered something he forgot to clarify. He personally could care less about the teacher's well-being, but if he told him the truth about Isobel, maybe one day Alaric in turn would tell Elena that her mother was still out there somewhere, if she ever wanted to know. Damon told himself it had nothing to do with making Elena hate him a little less. He didn't care what she thought anymore, or so he forced his thoughts to tell him. Making a sharp U-turn, he turned a few streets over onto the teacher's street and parked outside his house. He spotted Ric turning the key in his front door, glancing from side to side in a slightly paranoid manner; not that Damon could really blame him. He slammed his car door, announcing his presence.

"What you looking so nervous for? Afraid your wife is gonna come back and tap a vein?" Damon didn't mean for the truth to slip out so suddenly and was slightly taken aback by his own words, but what did he care, anyways?

"What the hell? What do you mean, 'tap a vein'? You know what? Don't even talk to me right now. You come one step closer, and I swear I'll stake you." Ric looked like he could punch a wall.

"Chill, Saltzman. I didn't kill your dearly beloved. Or should I say dearly departed?" Damon drawled lazily, his infuriating smirk on display.

"You sure as hell did something to her!" Ric growled.

Damon shot the teacher a "duh" look. "Obviously. I turned her."

Alaric's eyes widened, his expression livid. "You what?"

"Oh, you heard me. And for your information, she practically begged me to. Guess she wasn't…satisfied with life at home."

"She…she asked you to?" The teacher mumbled, looking crestfallen. Damon nodded slowly, rolling his eyes. "I should've seen it coming…" Alaric whispered to himself, his heart sinking.

"Well, now you know. See you around, teacher…or not." Damon tossed a careless wave over his shoulder and returned to his car, slamming the door harder than when he arrived. He sped toward the interstate, this time not turning around, stopping for nothing and no one.

As he cruised down the darkened roads, passing lone 18-wheelers and the occasional weary traveler, his mind kept wondering back to one question that had been gnawing him earlier. Since when had hurting someone bothered him? No matter how hard he fought back the answer, he knew it nevertheless: since that person happened to be Elena. Lately, he'd often found himself going out of his way for her, trusting her and coming to her aid. He never did that. He was Damon, for god's sake. He only helped himself. Only trusted himself. But at the tomb, Elena had proven that she could be trusted after all. She was there for him. She had made sure that he didn't get left in the tomb, and she was the only one who had offered him any comfort. Foreign as the concept was, Damon found himself looking out for her interests more and more. Because…because he cared about her. Dear god, he cared about her. The second he admitted it to himself, the emotional switch inside him that had been threatening to flip as of late snapped, and he was flooded with his long-absent humanity. All the sorrow, guilt, regret, and disappointment from the past 145 years took over his senses, hitting him like a wrecking ball, and he lost control, hot tears springing behind his eyelids involuntarily. He realized that the real reason he left was because he was afraid he would hurt someone else connected to Elena if he stayed any longer. God, this girl would kill him, he thought, pounding a fist against the steering wheel. He felt his already battered and bleeding heart rip wide open, aching down to the very core of his soul. Once outside the city limits, his vision blurred, Damon veered over to the shoulder and shut off the engine, leaning against the steering wheel and burying his face in his hands.

Saltzman had leaped back into his car, dumbstruck by Damon's confession. He didn't know what else to do, but he didn't want to be alone, so he drove back to the grill. He needed to tell someone. Stefan and Elena were standing off to the side, away from the bustle, looking somber and speaking in hushed tones. Shoving his hands in his front pockets, Alaric ambled over to them, his brow furrowed.

"I just spoke to Damon."

Elena's expression darkened, her eyebrows knitting together. Stefan grimaced. "What did he say now?"

"He said he didn't kill Isobel." Elena's eyebrows shot up, hope and confusion mingling in her eyes.

"What are you saying, then?" She inquired, her voice rising slightly.

"He turned her. She begged him to." Ric hated how the words tasted on his tongue, and his eyes fell to his boots.

"And you believe him?" Stefan asked, skepticism obvious in his voice.

"Against my better judgment, I'm afraid so. The weeks before she disappeared, she had been obsessing over vampires and how they lived their…afterlives. I passed it off as another one of her quirky phases. It seems…I was wrong." Alaric's voice cracked at the last sentence. Elena's eyebrows drew back together, and she bit her lip, lost in thought.

"She…begged him to…" Elena repeated in a whisper, stricken. Damon didn't mindlessly kill her. He was just doing what she asked. Elena shook her head. That still doesn't make it right, she reminded herself, but even so, she felt her anger towards the older Salvatore brother already beginning to melt. Stefan wrapped an arm around her shoulder.

"This is a lot for one night. Why don't we just call it a day and go?" Stefan rubbed her arm, his expression weary yet soft. Elena nodded, and they exchanged goodbyes with Alaric before heading out to the parking lot. "Meet me at the boarding house?" Stefan suggested tiredly. Elena agreed and they parted ways, each climbing into their own car.


Elena walked into the parlor of the boarding house to find it empty, dimly lit by a few candles flickering half-heartedly in their sconces. She was half-expecting to find Damon lounging on the overstuffed couch, nursing a glass of his favorite scotch, but he was nowhere to be seen.

"Stefan? Damon?" She called out, her voice echoing faintly against the high ceilings. Stefan slowly made his way down the stairs, his steps sluggish and expression forlorn. "Stefan, what's wrong?" He didn't immediately answer, instead shuffling over the carpet and wrapping a hand around her elbow.

"Damon's gone." He admitted gravely.

Elena felt her heart drop. "'Gone'? What do you mean, 'gone'? He's probably just out on a binge, hitting it up with some sorority girls." Elena rolled her eyes. "He'll more than most likely come stumbling in sometime early tomorrow morning, won't he?" Elena somehow felt that the situation was different than what she had described, yet she still allowed herself to hope. Despite this recent little bump in the road, she and Damon had been becoming friends, no matter how unorthodox it seemed. They…understood each other.

"No, Elena. Not this time. All of his stuff is gone, his room emptied. There's no sign of him. He left. For good this time." Elena bowed her head, her eyes drifting shut in disbelief. Damon may be many things, but she would've never pegged him as a runner. Stefan pulled her into a hug.

"It's better off this way. The town is safer with him gone." At this, Elena pulled away, aghast that he would say such a thing.

"How can you say that? About your own brother?" Stefan's mouth fell open, speechless. "I know Damon did some terrible things, Stefan, but he's recovering from some harsh news. He doesn't need to just be left alone right now!" Elena crossed her arms, taking a step back.

"Come on, Elena! He's done enough to rip this town apart. He's dangerous and emotionally unstable right now. His leaving is for the best." Elena's teeth clenched in anger.

"You know what? I don't want to do this right now. I'm really tired and I think I'm just gonna go home." She said in a resigned voice that still had a chilling edge to it. Not wanting to fight, Stefan opened the front door, kissing her on the cheek as she went out. She didn't return the favor.

Elena wearily climbed the stairs to her room, shut her door, and dumped her coat and purse on the carpet with a muffled thud. She was about to fall face first into the mattress when something caught her eye. Crossing her room to the dresser, she picked up the perfect, lonely red bloom, lifting it to her nose and inhaling. The sweet aroma filled her head, and she caressed the satiny petals with her fingertips. Her gaze flickered to the mirror, feeling that something was off. Her eyes roved over the photographs, stopping at the bottom corner of the mirror. The picture of her from her sixteenth birthday was missing. Elena's shoulders slumped, knowing instinctively who had taken it. He had stopped here, leaving her with nothing to remember him by but the rose before he disappeared. Elena's fist tightened around the stem of the rose, and she didn't care that the thorns bit into her palm when she did so. Clutching the sad flower to her, she curled up on her bed and cried for the lost man that was out there somewhere, who had left her, driving away from her and into the night.

To be the sad man behind blue eyes…

But my dreams, they aren't as empty

As my conscience seems to be

SO much more to come. Hope you guys enjoyed! Hate it, love it, feel somewhere in between about it, please leave a review! All opinions are welcomed. It's greatly appreciated, and honestly is one of the few things that brighten my day. So just please take a few seconds and let me know if I should keep going (or stop while I'm behind). If you didn't stop reading before you reached this author's note, you rock. Over and out!