A/N: I wasn't planning on starting another story any time soon, but after 2X12 I couldn't not. This is basically just my reaction to it. I loved the episode intensely, obviously, but I wanted to write a story in which Damon stops putting up with all this shit he's going through. It was a rush write, nothing great, just thoughts on e-paper.

She screams for more
More than just some blue eyed metaphor
And the trouble is, the trouble is
She's always searching
And the hours late, don't wanna hear
That it's all gonna end soon
No I'm not crazy, I'm in control

It happens as he stares over the crumpled, drained body on the ground, as his mind registers the effects of his action. As he is enjoying the rushing feeling that temporarily fills his veins with a false sense of being alive. His eyes flicker closed and for a brief moment he allows him self to remember the feeling of being alive, imagines he can feel his heart beating in his chest, his throat, remembers the smell of his own blood, his sweat.

It is in this moment, with death at his feet, death clustering his past, death lingering inevitably in his future, that he realises he is splitting himself in half. But he is vampire. There are no halves. He has seen many before him die trying not to be who they are, and always will be. He will not be one of them.

He has spent too long in this town, spent so much time watching her, watching her with his brother, hating his brother, that he hadn't noticed himself turning into his brother. Turning into everything he hates. Everyday he feels himself wasting away, so much energy spent trying to hold back the emotion that threatens to consume him. So much energy spent trying to convince himself, and her, that those emotions are not there.

And he sees, with a sudden clarity that dries the tears from his eyes and releases some of the terror he has held so long within him, that it doesn't have to be this way. He has the power to change it all. He has boasted for so long, fear hidden behind his voice, that he doesn't have to feel, that he is a monster, that he doesn't care about anything, her least of all. All this time he thought he had been lying, but now, the pain that has hidden for so long, embedded inside him, has risen to the surface. And he remembers those aren't lies. That was who he was, who he could be again. He cannot face it any longer. He said he couldn't be selfish with her. And he wasn't. But now as the hurt is replaced by a low, dangerous anger, he realises that she has been exceptionally selfish with him. That bitch has spent so long trying to convince him that he is better than what he really is, that he can do better, that if he just followed in his precious little brother's footsteps, he could live a normal life. He could be loved. Well, what did she expect? That he wouldn't fall in love with the first person in 146 years to make him believe that he deserved it? She was more stupid than he thought. No, he didn't deserve her, and she would never love him, but she'd forged this pathway for him, wearing that smug convincing smile, enticing him to breaking point.

And for the first time in months he cannot fathom what he is still doing here. Why he is still protecting her, why he continues to watch her, wallowing in self-pity and ill-fated hope. She doesn't want him, not the way he really is. And, well, he tried, but this 'humanity' thing really isn't working for him.

And why should it? He isn't human. It's time he stopped pretending.




He stands in the open road by her home. It is the darkest time of the night, everyone is asleep, and he can hear the deafening silence that he had recently come to hate. The kind that would allow for someone alive to hear their own body, be reminded that they are not alone. The kind that only reminds him of how alone he really is. But now he revels in it, lifts his face to the cold and empty sky and laughs. He is alone, and he has missed the feeling of everything around him being irrelevant. The power of death.

In her bedroom the sweet smell of her, the small, steady sound of her breath intoxicates him. He used to find these things reassuring, endearing even, but now they only fuel his disgust, and he is disgusted even further by the sudden urge he has to discontinue his escape, to get under the covers and curl himself around her warm body until he can convince himself her warmth is his own and falls into a rare and oblivious sleep. His lip curls, despising the weakness that has surfaced in him, and as he shakes these feelings away from him, he is reassured that he is doing that right thing. He has come dangerously close to thinking he is what he cannot be.

She stirs when he sits on the side of her bed, he watches her closed eyes flutter, a small frown cross her face, and he wakes her as she is turning from her back to her side.

"Elena." Her eyes open very fast, latching onto his own immediately. He ignores the small spark that lights up inside him, knows it will soon be gone. She is disorientated, confused, but she doesn't say anything, just looks at him so understandingly, in a way that he can hardly stand to see. He knows why she thinks he's here. Comfort. But she has gotten it wrong. He isn't here for her support, or to talk about Rose, he has already put that all behind him.

She pulls herself up into sitting position as he studies her face. He wants to remember it, although he's not sure why. He wishes he didn't want to, but he cannot deny that he loves her; it's not something he can turn off. He can only control how he deals with it.

He is interrupted from his thoughts by the feeling of her hand, light and soft on his arm. It reminds him why he is here. He can't let her keep doing this to him, keep pulling him down further into this suffocating feeling, that seems so safe, but is more dangerous than hate. She is lying to him. With every smile, every innocent touch, every whispered "Thank you" and loaded look over the shoulder of his brother, every little speech about how she knows, how she understands.

She doesn't know shit. And it's about time she knew that. He finds himself thinking about how easily he could take her right now, wondering if it's a necessary step to ending this all, proving to himself he can go back to the old him.

He removes her hand with cold, tight fingers, keeping his gaze absent.

Disappointment flickers briefly in her eyes, and he begins to smell her fear. He laughs before he can cry. The harsh, angry noise interrupts the peace of the room, but Elena does not shrink back from him, not the way he wishes she would. Not the way she should.

"I'm not scared of you Damon. I know you say you don't want to feel. I know it's hard when you lose someone you love…" He sees her swallow visibly, remembers too late her parents death, too late for it to make a difference. "But it gets easier. These hard bits…they're worth the good bits. I promise you."

He smirks. God, she never stops trying does she? Always trying to convince him it's worth it. Well, he knows it's not worth it. She's the only thing that would make it worth it. And he is not stupid enough to let himself believe any longer that he could ever have her.

He leans closer to her, allowing no warmth into his eyes as he regards her. He makes his face hard and menacing. It's easy; he's done it so many times before. And now he knows he can go back to who he was, it really is like riding a bike, and he's getting back on.

"It's over Elena. I'm done. No more trying to convince me that this isn't the way it has to be." His words are quick and biting, he sees her flinch, sees her trying not to blink in the face of his barely restrained anger. "Because it is the way things have to be."

"I-I don't understand Damon", she reaches out a hand as if to touch him, but his eyes frown down at it and so instead she crosses her arms across her chest.

"I've tried so hard for you." His voice is earnest but his face is closed off, and she begins to accept that something has changed in him. "But it will never be enough. I wasn't selfish with you, I thought I could be better than that. But the only reason I thought that was because you made me believe it." He reaches out a finger and traces the side of her face lightly, frowning as she leans closer, encouraging the movement.

"Don't do that," he whispers, his voice is filled with despair. "You can't keep doing that to me."

Her eyes are fiery as her confusion at this late-night intrusion, and his cryptic words, turns into anger. "Do what Damon?"

He is suddenly on the other side of the room, his body tense and his eyes narrowed.

"Don't be angry. You're not allowed to be angry. I'm the one who should be angry. All this time I have been trying so hard to be who you want me to be, trying not to be selfish with you…God, if only you knew. But all the while you have been so, so, selfish with me. I couldn't see it before, but I do now."

He is breathing heavily, allowing the anger to take him over, and feels more free than he has since before he met Elena. She does not say anything in response, but he can see the glint of tears on her cheeks even in the darkness of the room.

"You convinced me to feel. You should've known that you'd be the one I'd end up feeling for."

Still she doesn't say anything, and the silence gets thicker as they silently regard each other. And then, so quietly he wouldn't have heard it if he were human, an apology falls from her lips like a prayer.

He can hear her heart beating, fast but certain. He scowls at her, "It's too late for sorry Elena."

"I know." Her voice is soft. He wants to touch her.

"No, you don't. You don't know a fucking thing about it. I've been here before, in this room, telling you I love you. Telling you that I didn't deserve you. Did you know that?" She is crying in earnest now, looking at him with desperation in her eyes. "And I said, 'I can't be selfish with you', but you know what? You deserve to know the truth now. I'm not going to protect you from anything anymore, and least of all the havoc you've been wrecking on my heart."

She chokes. "Please don't do this Damon…"

"Do what Elena?" his voice is mocking her. He wants to kill her, he wants to kiss her, he wants to drink from her veins, he wants to hold her in his arms until she stops crying, he wants to listen to the sound of her breath weaken until it stops entirely. Like always she is splitting him in two.

"I love you." Her eyes lock onto his as he says those words in a way she has never heard before. With hate. She does not look away, but she wants to. " I don't want to love you. But you make promises with your eyes that I always believe, and that you never keep. And I can't keep doing this. I can't be around you any longer." He smiles weakly to himself. "I killed a woman tonight." He hears her sharp intake of breath, ignores the sympathy in her eyes, he definitely doesn't deserve sympathy. " I drained her of blood and left her on the road. And all I could think is, what would Elena say?"

He walks toward her, a threatening look in his eyes. "So…what do you say Elena? How does it make you feel to know that I can never be who you think I could be, who you want me to be?" Tears continue to slide silently down her face as she opens, and then closes, her mouth.

"I thought as much." He looks away, his face suddenly showing every emotion he has been holding back. It is the last time he intends to let them show. She needs to see this.

"I'm leaving Elena. I just needed you to know before I left." His voice softens, "I love you. I always will. But I can't let that rule over me any longer. It's broken me." She is staring at him with wet eyes, and starts to say something but stumbles on her words.

"Please…I can't choose. Don't make me choose." He frowns at her, standing completely still.

"What do you mean? I'm not making you choose anything. You've already made your choice. Over and over again."

"Please don't leave me."

He can't help it, he laughs, and pushes away the guilt that tries to wriggle its way into his conscience when she winces and hangs her head.

"I'm already gone."

Then he really is, and all Elena can hear is the sound of her heart beating in her chest.




He has only just arrived back at the Salvatore estate when it begins to rain heavily, the sound of it hitting the roof and the trees outside soothing him. It seems suitable weather for his departure and he feels unexpectedly satisfied by this. He begins to pack the few possessions that mean enough to him to be taken with him. He feels strangely calm after his encounter with Elena, and although it has left a rather bitter taste in his mouth, it's a taste he's used to and he swallows it back easily. He thought he'd feel more relieved, but shrugs to himself, recognising the fact that it will a long time to get Elena Gilbert out of his system. The process has only just begun. At least now he is free. As soon as he gets out of this town he can put it all behind him, resume the ease of his life before all this 'self-improvement' bullshit started happening. No more tears. No more emotional breakdowns in front of meals. No more trying to be more than he can be. After a quick trip down to the basement to collect some blood bags, he finishes packing clothes into an old army duffle bag, grabs his iPod and a bottle of whisky from his bedside table and takes a last look around the room. He is not affected by the thought of leaving it. After all, he reasons, he has eternity to replicate it anywhere else in the world.

He turns and begins to leave, but as he lifts his eyes to the doorway he finds himself frozen on the spot.

"What are you doing here?" His voice is cold and rough. He has no time for anymore of her games. She is soaking wet, her hair dripping water onto the floor, but he can see that the water on her face is both rain and tears. He notices with a sense of dread that she has changed from the pyjamas she was wearing forty minutes ago, into dark jeans and a black rain jacket. There is a small black bag resting in the hallway behind her. Not fucking good. She gives him a blank look that he finds disturbing, before looking past him through the window into the obscurity of the night.

"I'm coming with you."

Laws of man, are just pretend
They ain't mine
Love so good, love so bad
It won't die
Some talk too long, they know it all
I just smile & move on

Music: Thriving Ivory - Hey Lady & Queens of the Stone Age - I Never Came.