Disclaimer: I don't own anything.

Summary: Damon would do anything to protect Elena and Stefan. Even risking his own life. And how far will Stefan go in order to help him... Takes place at some point during the second season.

Author's notes: Just a one-shot before I continue my other story.

Stefan wrapped his arms protectively around Elena and shielded her body with his when the werewolf attempted to attack. He closed his eyes and prepared himself for the impact but it never happened. Damon had jumped between the wolf and Stefan just in time before the animal could harm his younger brother or Elena with his sharp claws and teeth. Damon himself wasn't that lucky. The wolf had bitten into his side when he had jumped in front of Stefan and had also left deep claw marks on his shoulder. But nevertheless Damon snapped the werewolf's neck while the animal was trying to get another bite. The thickening sound of the breaking bones caused Elena and Stefan to turn around and they eventually realized what had happened. Stefan instantly hurried over to his older brother who was lying motionless on the ground and pulled the dead werewolf off his body. He bent down and tentatively reached out and laid a hand on Damon's forearm.

"Damon, can you hear me?" he asked.

Damon stirred and moaned in pain. Stefan carefully unbuttoned Damon's shredded shirt and inspected his wounds.

"Shouldn't I be dead by now?" Damon mumbled.

"The legend seems to be wrong. Maybe the werewolves just made it up to keep the vampires away." Elena suggested happily.

"Do you think you can stand up and walk to the car?" Stefan asked.

"Sure." Damon replied nonchalantly and sat up.

But when he stood up a wave of dizziness hit him and he would have collapsed if Stefan hadn't caught him. The younger Salvatore supported him on the entire way to Elena's car and the fact that Damon wasn't complaining worried Elena and Stefan. By the time they reached the car Damon's skin was ashen and glistened with sweat.

"We have to take him home, he needs blood." Stefan stated the obvious.

"He is awake and can hear you." Damon said sarcastically.

"You can't fool me with your witty comments, I know that you're in pain." Stefan replied while Elena was driving as fast as she could.

When they finally arrived at the boarding house Stefan helped Damon out of the car and took him upstairs to his bedroom. Elena waited in the living room while Stefan helped Damon to change into some sweatpants ans a clean t-shirt after he had tended his still bleeding wounds. She felt the urge to do something useful and went down into the cellar to the big fridge where Damon stored the bloodbags. Not being sure how much he would need she grabbed three bags and descended the stairs up to the second floor. She hesitantly knocked on the door of Damon's bedroom and only a moment later it was opened by Stefan who motioned to her to come in. She gasped when she spotted Damon lying in his bed. The vampire was drenched in sweat and he was trembling violently. She handed Stefan the bloodbags and approached Damon's bed.

"Damon? How do you feel?" she asked him and sat down on the edge of the mattress.

"It sure hurts like hell." he admitted through gritted teeth but still tried to sustain his usual nonchalance.

Elena and Stefan had been convinced that the blood would help him to get better but it didn't. Surely they were relieved that Damon hadn't died but it was obvious that the vampire was in a very bad condition. He was still drenched in sweat and kept tossing and turning in his bed due to the pain he was in. The wounds didn't heal and he threw up the blood that they gave him.

After a night of caring for Damon they were exhausted and eventually came to the decision to ask Bonnie for help. It was the desperation in Elena's voice that finally caused the young witch to agree. She immediately started to leaf through her grandmother's books before heading to the boarding house.

The moment Bonnie saw Damon lying in his bed she knew she was doing the right thing.

"So I didn't find anything to heal him but there is this spell that can take away the pain. It already worked before when Elena was linked to Katherine." Bonnie explained to Stefan and Elena.

The two of them nodded and Bonnie approached Damon's bed. Although it wasn't necessary the vampire was breathing heavily.

"Damon, can you hear me? It's me, Bonnie."

"You just couldn't resist to catch a glimpse of me being in pain, could you?" he tried to joke.

"I'm actually going to perform a spell that can take away your pain." Bonnie simply answered and ignored his comment.

The young witch took Damon's hand in hers and started to chant. She repeated the words over and over again but nothing happened.

"I don't know why, but it's not working. I'm really sorry, Damon." she said sadly.

"Thanks for trying it anyway." Damon whispered.

Bonnie nodded and looked apologetically at Elena and Stefan before she left the room.

"Stefan, you have to do me a favor." Damon suddenly spoke up.

"What is it?"

"Let's just face it, there is no cure or spell. That bite is going to be fatal. And I need you to stop this now because I'm already to weak to do it by myself."

At first Stefan was confused but suddenly it dawned on him what Damon was talking about.

"No Damon, I can't do that." he immediately objected.

"Please Stefan. I can't take it any longer. And you owe me this since 1864." Damon pleaded weakly.

"Listen Damon, we've also called Alaric and he is currently on the way to North Carolina to meet this woman Vanessa. She will give him every single note and book about werewolves that she has. And if we won't find a way to help you in there I will do it. Just hang on for another day, okay?"

Damon eventually nodded and closed his eyes. Elena was shocked about the conservation she had just witnessed.

"You're not really going to kill him, are you?" she asked Stefan.

"Elena, look at him. He's constantly getting worse. The legend is right, the bite just kills not in an instant but slowly and painfully. He saved us and he doesn't deserve to suffer like that. And he's right, I owe him." Stefan replied with tears in his eyes.

Elena pulled him in a tight embrace trying to comfort him but herself as well.

While they were anxious for Alaric's return Elena and Stefan felt helpless and useless since there wasn't anything that could ease Damon's pain. The only thing they could do for him was sitting with him and holding his hand. It was so hard for them to watch Damon suffer. And the fact that he was going through this because he had saved them made it even worse. When another wave of pain hit him Stefan climbed into his bed, pulled him into his lap and hold him tightly in order to soothe him. He gently stroked his hair and face and was relieved when he felt that Damon relaxed a little bit, but he also knew that it wouldn't last very long. When Alaric finally returned Elena and Stefan took it in turns to sit with Damon and to go with Alaric through the notes and books.

Hours later Stefan closed the last book and sighed utterly frustrated. He knew what he had to do now and swallowed hard. Going upstairs to Damon's bedroom he had a hard time not to think about what he was going to do. When he opened the door he saw Elena sitting on the edge of Damon's bed. The same spot where he had spent so many hours trying to comfort him.

Damon wasn't tossing and turning anymore, he was simply too weak. He was still drenched in sweat and marked by the pain that he was constantly going through and his eyes were tightly closed. Elena looked up when she heard him and looked hopefully at him but immediately noticed the defeated expression on his face. Holding back her tears she leaned forward and placed a soft kiss on Damon's forehead. The vampire slowly opened his eyes and watched Elena leaving his room.

Stefan sat down next to him and tentatively pulled him up into a sitting position. He hugged him tightly and gently stroked the back of his head.

"I'm so sorry, Damon. We couldn't find anything." Stefan said trying to suppress his sobbing.

"It's okay, it's not your fault." Damon whispered weakly.

"Please, give my ring to Elena. She might going to need it at some point." he added.

"I love you, Damon."

"I love you, too."

Stefan started to cry hearing those words and placed a soft kiss on Damon's temple. With one hand he was still holding Damon and with the other one he reached into the hip pocket of his jeans and pulled out a small but sharp wooden stake. He hugged his older brother even tighter and buried his head into the crook of his neck before he swiftly pushed the stake into Damon's back right into his heart. His sobbing increased when he felt Damon flinching briefly and then going limp.

Downstairs in the living room Elena and Alaric waited for some time until they decided to go up and look after the two brothers. Since he didn't receive a reply to his knock Alaric slowly opened the door of Damon's bedroom. He stopped dead in his tracks when he spotted Stefan who was still crying and holding Damon's corpse in his arms. They remained standing in the doorway nobody of them wanting to disturb this heartrending moment. Elena was crying, too, and even Alaric felt a big lump in his throat. Damon was gone. But at least he wasn't suffering anymore.