Little Brother Vampire

A/N: Initially I never intended to write a second chapter – but then Stefan wanted to say his peace as well, so here it is.

Mystic Falls is a town with many secrets and more than its fair share of liars; Stefan Salvatore knows he has more than his share of the former and far too many of the latter to ever confess them all.

For example: Stefan, tortured soul par excellence, regrets a great many things in his long and unnatural life (it comes with the territory of being a vampire with a conscience, after all) but the one thing he doesn't regret, even now, is the one thing he probably should regret most of all: Making his big brother turn.

But he'll pretend that he does. He'll even lie to Damon and tell him he's sorry, and in so doing abuse a moment of closeness the two haven't shared in over a hundred years, because he knows (though Damon denies it) that Damon wants him to be sorry for taking his choice away, for ruining his moment of pointless self-sacrifice in the name of a love that was only ever one-sided in the first place.

Stefan is a very good liar. He always has been. Even before he and Damon turned, back when they were human, Stefan was a liar – or at least, he was deceptive in a way his brother never was. It started with their father. Stefan always knew he was the favourite and he always knew that was intrinsically unfair. Yet he didn't really care. It was nice to be the one Father respected; the one who was looked upon as virtuous, level-headed, responsible and mature for his age. It was also incredibly easy. All he had to do to keep his pride of place was let Damon take all the risks, speak out of turn, and basically do all the things Stefan might want to do but didn't quite dare. Or better yet, convince Damon to take him with him when he went poaching on the neighbours' lands, or sneaking out to the taverns, and then, when their father inevitably found out, it was easy to let Damon take the blame – because Damon was older, wilder, and already well broken in to his role as the black sheep.

(That's why after Katherine was gone and they had the choice to die or be damned, Stefan had been so angry that Damon wanted to make the "right" choice. It felt like a betrayal. Stefan hadn't wanted to die for a woman he hadn't ever loved and he didn't see why Damon had to pick then, of all times, to develop a sense of morality.)

Stefan will never, ever, admit this to Damon although he thinks Damon already knows. Just like Stefan will never admit that for all his debauchery and sin Damon has never actually lost control to his bloodlust – only Stefan does that, because Stefan is the one who can't handle temptation.

Stefan will also never admit that he knows Damon feels worthless and inferior at least ninety percent of the time. Stefan knows this because Damon has always felt that way. This is one of the reasons Stefan has never believed in the "humanity off switch" vampires are supposed to have because really, if Damon had ever truly stopped caring he wouldn't have been so hurt for so long when Stefan left him and moved on alone.

(Long ago, in a letter from the front lines, Damon wrote to him that "all flesh is grass" while describing the horror of another battlefield massacre. The words have stayed with Stefan and although he won't admit it, they have only gained piquancy since he became a vampire. It sometimes feels to him, while watching people he has come to know age and wither and die away that humans are nothing more than background scenery and the only two people who truly matter are he and Damon.)

After Damon lost control (again) and snapped Jeremy's neck Stefan told him yet another lie. He told him that if it wasn't for Katherine (and the threat she posed) he would have killed Damon for what he had done to Elena and her brother. He doesn't think Damon believed him, but he also doubts that Damon knows the real reason he was so damned angry. The reason had nothing to do with Jeremy and everything to do with the fact that once again Stefan was watching Damon self-destruct before his eyes - and there was nothing he could do to stop him. (Stefan is so tired of watching Damon fuck up over and over again.)

If asked Stefan would claim that he will never forget Lexi; you don't get over the loss of your best friend. This isn't exactly a lie. Stefan mourns Lexi deep in his heart and her name makes him ache with regret. He will always wish (so very much) that he'd figured out sooner what a spectacularly bad idea it was for Lexi and Damon to inhabit the same town, even for a single day. The rub however comes when he realises how little he actually resents Damon for her death. He realises then, thinking of Lexi, that every time he's told his brother that he'll never forgive him for all the death and destruction he rains down on both their heads has always been, and ever will be, nothing but more lies heaped upon lies.

(Once Stefan told Elena that he thought love was the most powerful force in existence; this was in fact a lie. Love is not the most powerful emotion he has ever known: need is. Stefan loves Elena (in a way he doesn't remember ever loving Katherine) but he also needs her (mostly to keep proving with every word and deed that she is not Katherine and will never become her). It is this need more than the love that convinces him that he would do just about anything to keep her safe. Just like, years and years ago, it was need that compelled him to force Damon to turn. This is why, in Stefan's mind, need is more enduring than love.)

The biggest lie Stefan has told (recently), was once again to Damon (because in the end you always lie to the people who matter most – and Elena deserved a break). He told Damon that they would not be repeating history. He meant the words but not the subtext. It's not the sharing that bothers him (never actually was – compulsion or no compulsion). Instead it's the thought that it will all end the same way that makes his teeth ache with impotent anger (and he doesn't think he's ever hated Katherine more than he does now).

The one lie he won't tell just because not even Elena is brave enough to broach the subject, is that along with never repeating history, he's also not prepared to try and put right what went so horribly, horribly wrong before. (So instead he watches his brother and Elena silently and thinks again about temptation and need and all the things he's getting tired of lying about.)

One day, he promises himself (and again he is lying) he will admit the truth. He won't be afraid of the need that drives him, or the temptation of his own desires. Instead he'll tell Damon he's not sorry he refused to let his stupid, desperate bastard of a big brother kill himself for a sham love affair, and he'll tell Elena that history damn well is worth repeating – so long as it's with the right girl.

And maybe then, just maybe, Stefan won't have to keep lying so damn much.