Disclaimer: I do not own, now am I in any way associated with, Vampire Diaries. No profit is made from this work.

Timeframe: between 1x14 "Fool Me Once" and 1x15 "A Few Good Men"

Love Me

Caroline huffed in annoyance, stopping just short of stomping her foot. She'd just come from Bonnie's, where she'd spent exactly two-thirds of the weekend. She had worked out the system shortly after she and Elena got Bonnie to sleep that first night. Leaving Bonnie alone was a serious no-no, but Elena had been through enough heartbreak in the last year and Caroline was too attuned to others' moods for either of them to spend all of their time by Bonnie's side. Thus there were shifts. Three, so that Bonnie got to be with both of her best friends at least some of the time.

It was a perfectly reasonable system and she didn't know what Elena had been complaining about earlier. It was anything but complex.

Now, Caroline was standing in the Grill, alone. She needed some cheering up of her own but she'd somehow lost track of Matt's work schedule and completely missed him. She pulled out her phone, only to falter. She was clingy. She knew that, Matt knew that, but she didn't want Matt to know that. Would he think she was being needy, calling him first just because she needed some entertainment, or would he think she was just being a normal girlfriend, wanting to have fun with her guy? She moaned and decided that this kind of serious thinking should be done sitting down.

She took a secluded booth close to the bar, not her usual place where she sat to be seen, but perfect for trying to sort out her life. She set her phone on the table before her, watching the minutes tick by on the display while she debated. She'd told Matt she was going to be with Bonnie as much as possible, that was the only reason she wasn't annoyed that he hadn't called her in two days. But if she called him would he think she was a bad person for not staying with Bonnie?

"Why is this so hard?" Caroline moaned, dropping her head into her folded arms on the table.

"Because life is an endless road paved in pain and heartache."

Caroline's head shot up, her back going ramrod straight. "What do you think you're doing?" she practically snarled at the man sitting across from her.

Damon toasted her with his glass. "Drinking. You?"

"No," she said slowly, trying to keep her calm. "What are you doing here? Why are you at my table? It's slow now, there are a ton of empty tables. Can't you just not torture me this one time?"

Damon tilted his head, considering her the way he had so often when they were dating. She noticed now that his eyes were dull and lifeless instead of sharp and cruel.

"You sat at my table, Barbie," he said, his words slow. He was drunk. She didn't remember drunk Damon, but if he was anything like most men it would be worse than sober Damon.

"Just because you decide you want this table doesn't mean-"

"I was sitting here five minutes ago. You stole it when I was in the bathroom. My seat too," he added, glaring like it had been a personal insult. "I liked that seat. It was perfectly cushioned."

Caroline rolled her eyes and started scooting out. "Fine, take the damn seat. Just leave me the hell alone."

Damon's hand caught hers on the edge of the table, holding her down. She knew her memory of Damon was hazy at best, but her body certainly remembered and her thundering heartbeat now only served to justify all the secret fears she harbored about that time in her life.

She tired to meet his eyes but he was unfocused, looking through her. She tugged but his hold only tightened and, worse, she'd brought his attention back to her.

He swallowed thickly and looked at her. "Stay."

She settled back against the seat but stayed close to the edge of the booth, ready to escape. He released her hand and let his head fall back. She waited thirty seconds before shifting her weight towards the edge of the seat.


She sighed and tried a different tactic. "Matt's coming. He'll be here soon and he's not gonna be happy if-"

Damon grabbed her phone off the table faster than she could blink. A moment later he tossed it back down, the call records on the screen. "You haven't talked to anyone who wasn't your mom, Bonnie, or Elena since Duke's party. Matt's not coming."

A waitress appeared and Damon smiled cheekily at her, ordering three more of whatever he was drinking.

"Don't you think you've had enough?" Caroline asked, crossing her arms in annoyance. She was trying to move on from Damon. She didn't need him cornering her just when she was starting to get her life back in order.

Damon ignored her question and stared at her so intently that she began to squirm. Just when she thought she was going to snap and yell at him he said, "Take it off."

"What?" she asked evenly, her eyes giving him a clear warning.

He let her ire roll over him, not at all phased. "Your necklace. Take it off."

"No!" she snapped, covering it with her hand.

He gave her a look that made it clear he thought she was acting childish.

The waitress reappeared, setting the drinks down between them. Damon smiled his thanks and, when the waitress was gone, pushed two of the drinks toward Caroline.

"It's not fair if I'm the only one who's drunk," he explained.

She rolled her eyes. "I am not getting drunk with you."

"Oh come on," Damon whined, "I'm alone and vulnerable. You can't let me drink alone."

Caroline only glared. Damon's hand shot out across the table. She felt his nails scrape across her skin as he grasped the chain of her necklace. He gave it one quick tug, snapping it from her neck.

"OW!" she yelled, grabbing the back of her neck. "That hurt! You bastard!"

Damon dropped the necklace casually beside her phone. "Stop whining," he said, finishing off his drink and reaching for his second. He met her eyes and she wondered what she'd been so angry at him for.

"How have you been?" she asked brightly.

He smirked, his chest shaking with silent laughter. She didn't know what was so funny, but then she often didn't know what made Damon do the things he did.

He gestured to the drinks in front of her. She picked one up. "Horrible," he said casually.

Caroline reached across the table with her free hand to cover his. "What happened?"

He cocked his head at her and she frowned.

"Don't give me that look," she said. "I just got off my shift keeping Bonnie company. I am in cheer-up mode here. Use me, seriously."

He smiled dangerously. "I'm sure I could use you, Caroline, in all sorts of ways."

A deep blush stained her cheeks and she pulled her hand back swiftly. She'd somehow finished her drink and thoughtlessly reached for the second glass, clutching it between her hands. "I didn't mean like that," she insisted. "I'm with Matt now. You met him, remember? At Duke's party?"

"He was a loser," Damon said, waving away the very idea of Matt. "He's safe and simple and easy. He's nothing." He reached for her hand but she quickly moved both to her lap.

"Still, I'm with him now." She frowned down at the table as she spoke, saying the words as much to herself as to Damon. Why was she with Matt? And why had she and Damon broken up? She couldn't seem to remember now.

Damon touched her cheek, shocking her and bringing her attention back to him.

"I know I'm a lot of things, Damon, most of them not good, but I would never cheat on my boyfriend."

Damon's eyes hardened. "Forget about the boyfriend," he said, "forget everything." He paused as if considering his next words carefully. "Love me."

Two hours later Caroline was blissfully drowsy. She lay curled into Damon's side, enjoying his sinfully high-count sheets and running her fingers over the curves of his face.

He'd fed on her, that probably had to do with her drowsiness, but had kept the bites to her femoral artery where no one would notice. It had confused her when she'd pulled her hair back for him and he paused. The look on his face made her want to kiss him again but he moved down between her legs, saying, "I doubt the good little boy will be looking down here anytime soon," with a cocky lift of his eyebrow just before he bit down.

She couldn't say she cared much after he started. The biting itself had become its own sort of pleasure after the first time and when he'd moved his attentions further north any thoughts left in her head had quickly vanished.

Now she was happy just to lay beside him, enjoying her time with him. He grasped her hand, pulling it away from his face and rubbing her knuckles with his thumb. He'd been watching her oddly all afternoon, making her feel like she was some sort of experiment whose outcome he wasn't sure of.

"What are you thinking?" he asked suddenly. His voice was detached, the scientist taking notes.

"I love you," she said.

His hand tensed around hers. "Why?"

She smiled coyly and rolled on top of him. She began kissing down from his neck and twisted her hips over his. He hissed.

"That, for one," she said, smiling while she continued making her way down.

He grabbed her by the elbows, stopping her. "Why?" he insisted, suddenly serious.

It was her turn to look at him like he was a child. "I think you're underselling yourself."

"Caroline." His grip on her arms tightened.

"You're sweet," she said, "when you want to be. You're safe-"

He scoffed, apparently so disgusted that he rolled her off him. She waited a few seconds to see if he was going to actually say anything.

"I know you're going to kill me," she said and was pleased when that got his attention. "But that's a kind of safety. I don't have to worry that I'll be hit by a bus or get some gross disease, because you'll do it. You won't make it hurt when it doesn't have to, you'll just - end it."

He frowned at her. If she'd been an experiment before now it was clear she wasn't doing what he'd expected. Whether that was good or bad she didn't know. In for a penny, she thought.

She began tracing invisible patterns over his chest so that she had something to look at other than his eyes. "And you chose me," she said. "I know it sounds silly and more than a little selfish but you came into town and you could have been with anyone, but you chose me first. No one's ever done that before," she finished softly.

Damon was silent for a very long time. Caroline began to squirm, pulling away from him. She may want him, but if he didn't want her- He caught her hands, stopping her before she could move too far. She waited, staring into his eyes and wishing that just this once they'd give something away. His lips brushed tenderly over her knuckles.

"After this," he said heavily, "you'll go home and take a nap. You'll remember going to the Grill and that Matt wasn't working, and nothing else."

"Damon," she said, her brow creasing with worry.

"Shh," he said and kissed her forehead. "After this." He rolled on top of her and made her forget everything else.