A/N: If you've found your way here because you have me on Author Alert, this probably isn't what you were expecting.

This one-shot is a gift I agreed to write (pre-Plan) for freefallinginlove.

In case anyone's curious, I AM WRITING more Twi-fic. In the process, actually. Because of how my schedule is, I feel I have to have the story completed before I begin posting, otherwise the wait between updates would be unconscionable.

For now, here's this story. This is part of a project launched by a really great Facebook group, of which I am a part, that supports writers & readers alike. 1700 strong. Some of the best, brightest, funniest, most uplifting people I've ever encountered. When people talk about the negative aspects of fandom, I can say this group is a positive aspect. Virtually drama free. My Happy Place. Intangible friends that mean more to me than most that I see every day.

Ficawesome Gift Exchange- TAKE 2

Title: Death Everlasting

Written for: Kate - freefallinginlove

Written By: QuantumFizzx

Rating: M

Summary/Prompt used: Damon/OC – Vampire Diaries General / Pillows, Duvets, and Cushions / Can tragedy lead to love?

If you would like to see all the stories that are a part of this exchange visit the Facebook group: Fanficaholics Anon: Where Obsession Never Sleeps

...

Death Everlasting

Green means go.

ATM screen letters are green, at least this ATM. So bright in the pitch black night.

One single, flickering streetlamp teeters on the edge of burn-out.

Almost. Buzzes.

Burn-out. Flicker. Back again.

Hum.

The men…boys…males are gathered around it. A cluster of contempt. A throng of thugs.

They think they've picked me. They think I'm easy pickin's.

I'm not easy, I'll never be easy. If things go right - soon - I'll never be anything.

They shuffle, knees sway, pants scuff the wet pavement. They aren't whispering anymore.

"Whatcha got there, baby?"

"Gettin' cold? I got something to warm you up."

"Shh, man."

Cat calls… caterwauls…wanna taste my cunt.

Nothing they can say or do right now matters. I came here for this.

They think they picked me.

I've picked them.

It's so cold out now. Bitter wind bites my face, chill nips at fingertips.

Pressing more buttons, flipping through screens.

WITHDRAWL: Yes

OUT OF NETWORK FEE: Agree – Just give me the fucking money. It's only money.

FAST CASH: Max – Just get the ball rolling already.

The males slink closer. Silent.

The bills spread out in my hand, like a debutante's fan. I turn to the men – mere feet away now – and fan them and bat my lashes coyly. Yes, gentlemen, I am free to dance. Come court me.

A stocky one licks his lips. I think I see the green screen lights reflect in his saliva.

"What are you playing at?" I don't know who, which one, says it. It doesn't matter.

My eyes narrow and I turn back to the screen and punch the keypad.

WOULD YOU LIKE TO MAKE ANOTHER TRANSACTION? Yes - Why yes, I believe I do.

The bills are a green wad in my fist. The air a knife in each lung.

One is breathing down my neck now. It's warm. It's wanted. It's what I came here for.

"That's a lot of paper." His voice is warm, like a campfire too close to the tent.

I nod.

More buttons and then the machine rumbles and shuffles through crisp bills before it vomits them out.

They murmur behind me. Patient and biding their time.

More buttons, but this time the withdrawal is denied.

Suddenly, my face is slammed into the cold screen and my skin sticks to it, almost freezing. A rough hand tries to wrench the bills from my hand but I let go instantly. Surprised by this offering, a few bills escape his grab and another man runs after them.

The one holding me lets go with a final twist of my hair as he bangs my head against the machine. All I can sense for a moment are the distorted green words burning into my retinas. I vaguely register that something, maybe a stocking cap, has been shoved over the camera lens.

Then, I whirl and shove him from behind. He loses his balance on the glare ice and flails awkwardly for a moment. His friends snicker.

"You are one stupid bitch." His eyes blaze and he comes at me, backhands me, hits me so hard I know I'm alive.

"Was gonna let you go. You seemed so sweet. Smiling." He leans over me, presses me into the corner of the machine, the ridge digs into my spine.

I know I need to make this worthwhile. The money I got out really isn't enough money for what he's going to do.

It's an implied contract. A non-verbal agreement. You do what I want and you'll be compensated.

"Wait," I say, my voice more desperate in my ears than I expected. "I…I can get more."

His head pulls back. He likes this idea. He nods once. Go ahead.

His hand is a vice on the back of my neck.

I get out another card and punch in the numbers. I can see him watching me in the screen. The others must be getting nervous; I can hear them moving constantly around behind us.

$400 more. "Again," he says. "Hey, man, come take this," he says, tearing the money from the machine and hands it over his shoulder.

"Today. Hey, you got something better to do back there?" His voice drops off on the last few words as I feel him turn to look behind him.

"What the fuck? This shit ain't funny…" His hand tightens painfully on my neck; I feel like turning into the promise of his grip.

He's lost his focus. I'm supposed to be the focus here. Me. The victim.

He needs to remember that this is serious situation. He needs to tie up the loose ends.

"I know what you look like," I sneer. "You won't get away with it." I pull out every tired movie phrase.

He pushes me away and starts walking, fist full of dollars and eyes wary, looking side to side at the empty street.

"Hey, motherfucker!" I try to run up on him but slide and land on my ass with a thud. The sky is starless.

My hands clench and I feel like screaming in frustration. Stupid, unprofessional thieves. Carelessness, sheer carelessness to run off mid-mugging.

Huffing my annoyance, I crawl to my knees and try to incite his ire. "Listen up you degenerate bastard come back and finish what you started. You can't expe-"

The words die on my mouth. He's gone. All that is left is me and the ATM's illumination on the slick road.

"Arrrgggghhhhhhh!" My arms stiff and my sides, I yell into the night.

I yell and yell and yell until it feels like the night itself has reached out to silence me with a cold hand over my mouth.

Except it is a cold hand over my mouth.

"Oh, well now, I just resent that." It's a new voice, a new male. "I may be a lot of things, but I know who my father was."

Slowly, he circles around me. Concentric circles.

"In fact, without dear old Dad's sacrifice, I wouldn't be here today."

He's pale, unearthly. Eyes like ice.

He talks through them, through his eyes. Squint, narrow, side. Each word's punctuated with a varied glare.

"As for the rest….'Finish what I start' you say?" Before I can blink, he's behind me. A sound like rapidly freezing water fills my ears. His mouth moves to my neck.

"Well if you insist."

He bites.

And my world goes from green to black.

Fucking finally.

...

Okay, yeah. This is not quite what I expected.

Angels or serpents or…nothingness. Any of those things are things for which I am prepared.

I am not prepared for stone walls and a thick door and…what are these? ancient looking metal cuffs chained to the wall like some medieval dungeon.

Well, holy shit, the hereafter has a dungeon option. That just doesn't make sense. Where would one go upon escaping the afterlife?

That's the whole point of dying to get away from…from everything. That's death's perk.

It's dark and dank and dull and I don't really care as it already looks better, less painful, than the life I left behind.

A ridiculous pile of ornate pillows dominates a corner of the cell. Velvet cords, burgundy brocades, wine entwined threads. They look preposterous against the stone floor.

A tasseled bolster looks promising and I curl up around it as I start to fall back asleep. Also a surprise. One would think sleep unnecessary for the deceased.

All the folk who say they'll sleep when they're dead are in luck.

Scuffle-scrape on the dank stone floor stirs me to consciousness.

I am not alone.

Through the slightest slits I can manage, barely discerning light beyond my lashes, the light plays as someone paces in shadow. The figure stops, moves to my side, crouches, hovers.

"Awake yet, Sleeping Mediocrity?"

My eyes fly open and before they can blink again or I can process the thought to obey fight or flight instincts, I've already moved to the farthest corner and hold the largest pillow up to my chest like a big, fluffy suit of armor.

If the guy is allergic to poly-fill, I'm golden.

Slowly, almost a saunter, he moves scant steps closer. His skin is next to ivory in the darkened room and near-glows against his black shirt. This is definitely the man, the last man, from last night.

His heads cocks to the side, his eyebrow even further along that same route, and he opens his mouth as if to speak.

But he doesn't.

He shakes his head and leaves as quickly as he came.

Sometime later, I'm still in the corner, cowered down, big pillow propped up in front of me. A fort nearly as formidable as I feel.

The light never changes, like a single bulb outside the cell.

The smell never changes, like a dank basement after heavy rain.

The stones are hard, the odd pillows soft, everything stagnant.

And in this silent, inert state, one steady truth stands out above it all: my heartbeat.

My scream rips the air.

...

"Out of your system?" He's crouched in front of me again.

I don't know what to say and it makes little difference as I've screamed myself hoarse. Whatever look passes my face must tell him enough to go on.

"So," he begins, and peers at me like his gaze could pierce my skin. "I've gotta ask: What possesses a person to go looking for and hand money over to murderous thieves?"

I manage a croaky squeak and he laughs at me.

"You want to know what I think?" He looks at me as he asks and I'm certain the particular gesture I show him demonstrates my lack of desire to learn his thoughts on the matter, but he clearly doesn't care what I think or want, so he continues to listen to his own voice. "I think you're just the unluckiest bitch with a deathwish ever."

"Not because you spent a chunk of your life savings on dying. And not because the guys you hoped would kill you ended up a tiny bit deader then you…" His voice trails off. I begin to breathe again – I don't know when I stopped.

"No, you manage to be so clearly intent on dying….I don't like doing favors."

...

He's spent the better part of an hour – I'm guessing – clamoring around out of sight. Overhead mumbles. Doors creaks. Dishes clang.

When he appears again, he holds two highballs. One he sets near me, almost as though he's been coerced into doing so. Perhaps he has. The other he keeps, swirling its dark, viscous contents before gulping them back. With a side glance, he sees my revulsion. He smiles.

My pillow fort wings through the room, grazes his side. He looks…bemused.

"You have complaints? Not a good enough host for you?" He takes another swig. His lips are momentarily crimson.

"Host?" I scoff. "Aren't I more the host and you the parasite?" I lean back on the wall, arms folded over my chest.

He shrugs. "You may have a point there…" Then, he claps his hands together. "Well, where do we go from here?"

"We?" I say, shifting my back against the cool stones. "Your basement. Your rules. You are the one with the fangs, after all."

"Yes, true. Speaking of…why is this not a concern for you?" He's not really asking, just enjoying the sound of his own voice again. "Oh, yeah…deathwish."

My turn to shrug. "For all the good it does me. You gonna preen me to death, pretty boy?"

"Oh, and Plain Jane comes out swinging," he mocks me, even going so far as a slow-mo at-bat mime. Great - I'm Marcel Marceau's captive muse. "Tell me, Janey, what's got you itchin' for a shallow grave? Typical Boy-Meets-Girl, Boy-Dumps-Girl-for-more-beautiful/interesting/flexible-Girl tale?"

"Sure, yes. That's it. Totally worth throwing your life away over a person who doesn't want you." I roll my eyes and push off from the wall.

He seems taken aback by my retort. A chink in his armor. "Daddy doesn't love you enough?"

"Nope. Dead," I say. I circle him now. What's he going to do? Kill me less?

"Fatal disease?" He watches, near grins.

"Life's a fatal disease." I run my hand along his back, unsure from where the urge has come.

"So am I."

"Couldn't prove it by me."

Faster than I can see, he's spun and holds both my wrists within his hand. "So anxious…" His eyes dance along my face. I straighten and set my jaw.

"What do you want me to say motivates me? Debt? Taxes? Another green-lit 'Transformers' sequel?"

"You show me yours, I'll show you mine." Somehow, he manages to waggle his eyebrows and not look the complete turd.

"Fine," I say, yanking my hands from his. "Plenty of people off themselves every day. Why save me?"

"I would go so far as to call it 'save' yet…"

"Postpone the inevitable. Whichever. Spill."

He quirks an eyebrow, gives another little shrug. "You had such flare. Curiousity."

"Buried my daughter last year. SIDS." I practically spit, the words foreign on my tongue. "They say that's on the decline. Decline…right…." My voice trails off. I swallow. "Only other person I bothered to breathe for was my grandfather. He stopped recognizing me two weeks ago."

"And you want to-"

"Not feel." I cut him off. "I want to not feel."

He shakes his head once. "Apathy is overrated."

"So is caring."

One long finger scratches the back of his neck while he contemplates. I return to the stack of pillows and straighten them, some near-dormant nesting instinct arriving unbidden.

From behind me, his slow exhale fills the void. I don't turn to face him.

Suddenly, he's behind me, breathing across my shoulder. "One of us is wrong."

I lean back, unable to stop myself, unsure why. His hands travel a long path down from my shoulders to arms to hands.

"I want to…feel." I almost don't hear him. "I want real."

And instantly I know why I'm here and breathing and having this conversation and not questioning why vampires exist and saying things about myself I haven't spoken aloud to anyone…ever.

Because his wrong guesses about my life are his story.

Because he's never been anyone's first choice.

Because the reality of my love-driven pain is more mythical to him then his existence is to me.

He looks at me, runs his tongue along his bottom lip…but he's staring at mine.

And…somehow…somehow I know he's going to change me. In one way or another. Or both.

I bring my hand to his face; he's warmer than I would've anticipated, warmer than last night. "What's your name?"

His eyes narrow. "Damon." Demon. "And you're not really Jane, I take it."

"Mara," I say as I look, really look, into his eyes. "It means 'bitter.'"

Giving a half laugh, he brushes my hair over my shoulder, exposing my neck. "We'll see."