What is this madness! I'm doing nothing but writing Vampire Diaries fanfiction when I have my final exams in less than a month! Yikes!


The darkness wrapped around Damon like a thick blanket. He could see with crystal clarity every inch of his bedroom. The bookshelf was overturned, volumes littering the floor. The overturned mattress, the shattered glass. Even in the darkness, he could see it all. He wished he couldn't.

He wanted to die.

She wasn't there. She wasn't fucking there – how could that even happen? He had seen her, watched her as she was dragged into the tomb and then watched as the church was set alight. If she had escaped, why wouldn't she have found him? Just across the river. Just a short mile away.

Damon lay back and felt the broken glass crunch under the weight of his back. A small stinging pain of his flesh ripping slightly didn't bother him. The ceiling was pure white, grey in the darkness. He willed himself not to cry.

He could hear them, down the hall.

Is he going to be okay?

I don't know, Elena. He's pretty shaken up.

Maybe I should go in there and talk to—

No. No. Definitely not. He's unstable.

Damon suppressed a snarl. Unstable. Unstable. He felt saner than ever. In a flash, he stood up and brushed the glittering, shattered glass off of his body. He peered around the room, and rolled his eyes. This would not get the better of him.

He opened the curtain and let in what little daylight remained and found his jacket underneath the overturned mattress. Before leaving the room, he cast a quick glance at himself in the mirror. The person staring back at him looked dead.

Well, more dead than usual.

He wiped his face with his hand and determinedly stepped out of his bedroom and made his way down the stairs. He stepped loudly, to make sure that even Elena would hear him coming with her weak human ears.

"Damon, where are you going?" Stefan asked as Damon made his way to the door.

"Out, mom," Damon placed a smirk on his face.

"Are you sure you're okay?" Elena asked, her face etched with worry. He understood her concern. It had been under twenty-four hours since he learned that his one purpose for living never cared about him. Why would he be okay?

"Peachy keen. Just going out," Damon assured them. Before they had time to question him any more, he slammed the front door and went to the nearest bar. Happy hour would be starting soon and that meant a lot of drunk, impressionable girls with bodies full of sweet, pumping blood.

At the bar, he ordered straight scotch and downed three of them within the minute. He was so preoccupied with drinking that he nearly missed Elena sliding next to him at the bar.

"Does your boyfriend know you're here?" Damon asked in a soft voice after catching Elena's unmistakable scent. It was a mixture of fruity flowers and Stefan. He was all over her, like a plague.

"Stefan doesn't control me," Elena murmured, "He knows. He's not happy about it."

Downing another scotch, Damon glanced at her. She was looking at him again with that fucking concerned expression. In a way, he liked it. It was strange seeing Katherine's face twist into a genuinely worried mask. She never once cared. Bitch.

"I'm worried about you, you know," Elena admitted quietly while Damon took another sip of his drink. "You're in love with someone who never loved you-"

"Salt. In the wound. You're rubbing it," Damon slurred. Oh god, only four drinks and already on the tipsy side. This wasn't going to end well.

"So what are you going to do now?" Elena asked, her voice growing impatient. "I just told you that I cared about you enough to go against what Stefan wanted, and you're still going to compel girls into being your playthings because you can't accept rejection?"

Damon gripped the glass in his hand so hard he thought it might break. "Rejection is one thing, Elena. Waiting around for a century and a half to rescue someone, and then finding they never needed to be rescued and – here's the funny part – didn't care enough to find you, is something else entirely."

He turned to face her. "Rejection is you slapping me when I tried to compel you, rejection is your little blonde friend walking out on me. I don't give a flying fuck about rejection, Elena."

Elena wasn't looking at him. She was staring at the wooden bar top intently, as if studying every shift in the grain pattern. Behind a wall of brown hair, he heard her whisper something. She must have only mouthed it to herself, because he didn't even hear it.

"Sorry, what was that?" he asked.

"I didn't know that you were trying to compel me that night," she admitted. "Even after I found out about compulsion… I just assumed you were being a sleaze."

Damon scoffed, "Well, I'd say you aren't even my type, but all evidence points to the contrary."

There was a silence between them, broken only by the sound of pool being played by some college students and the soft tunes coming from the oldschool jukebox in the corner. Elena made a decisive motion and lifted the vervain necklace off of her neck and placed it with a harsh tinkle on the bar.

"Elena," Damon drawled, "What on earth are you doing?"

"Now's your chance to compel me, Damon," she stated curtly, her eyes flicking from the necklace to Damon's face and back again. "Go ahead."

Damon rolled his eyes. "If I wanted you dead you'd be dead."

"But I'm not," Elena pointed out.

"Yet," Damon muttered under his breath. He could feel Elena's eyes – Katherine's eyes – staring at the side of his face like twin laser beams.

With a swift motion he locked his eyes on hers. Without her vervain she appeared to be instantly entranced. He could see past her eyes, into her thoughts. None of them centered around a fear of him. There wasn't even an inkling of nervousness.

"You will stop asking me whether I'm okay," Damon stated bluntly. "You know I'm not. But from now on you will be convinced of my… emotional stability. No more questions about Katherine, no more questions about my love for her. Do you understand?"

Elena's eyes searched his and he waited for the usual 'I understand' to be echoed back to him. There was none. Damon frowned and looked at Elena closer.

"What's wrong?" she asked.

"Open your mouth," he insisted.

"I'm not going to-" she was cut off midsentence as Damon stuck a finger in her mouth and pulled it back out again. She started gagging and saying stuff about how weird and gross he was, but he was staring at his moist fingertip. Elena's saliva glistened on it in the dull lighting of the bar. He leaned in and sniffed it, and then gave his finger a quick lick.

Vervain. Definitely.

"You've ingested vervain," he murmured, "You sly little minx."

Elena frowned. "No, I haven't. What are you talking about?"

He held up his finger to her, where their saliva mingled. "I can smell it, I can taste it. Vervain. You've been eating it, drinking it. It's in your system. I can't compel you, even with your necklace off."

Elena looked at him with genuine confusion before understanding hit her.

"Stefan gave me a drink before I came out to see you," she admitted.

"And thus the truth comes out," he laughed. "He thinks you trust me too much. And here I was, thinking I could compel you into…"

"Into thinking you're okay," she finished for him. "But you're not, Damon. And I know it."

Damon simply stared into his half empty glass. That was how things always ended up. Half empty. All his life he had hunted down Stefan, made his life a living hell, then disappeared back into the night to switch off his emotions and drink as many people as he could. What was so different now? Why couldn't be switch off the way he used to?

He felt, distantly, Elena's arms wrap around him. She was muttering something about Don't Cry but Damon didn't cry. It wasn't his style. But he could feel it, a moisture stinging at his eyes.

"I care about you," she was muttering into his hair, "And so does Stefan, even if he doesn't show it. You'll be okay."

When he didn't respond, Elena sighed and got off the bar stool and walked out. Damon looked into his drink and pushed it away. Not tonight. He hurt too much tonight. Even his body ached.