A/N: This is the last part. Thank you to everyone who's read and reviewed.

Damon wakes to someone pounding urgently on the door downstairs. He's disorientated, because he's pretty sure the last thing he remembers is dying. He blinks down at his arm, which has gone back to its normal colour. Either he's hallucinating again, or he's not dying anymore. Maybe it's wishful thinking, but he wants to pick not dying. He glances next to him, and sees Elena stretched out there, asleep. He has a fuzzy memory of her being here before (and Katherine, although he wonders if that was real or if it was his mind fucking with him).

Whoever is downstairs starts knocking again, and Damon kicks free of the covers. Elena stirs but doesn't wake and he walks silently out of the room before running down the stairs. He pulls the door open to see Jeremy standing on the porch in his pajamas, breathing hard, like he ran there.

"You're not dead." Jeremy says, but then his eyes widen. "Fuck. Maybe you are."

"Alive, I think." Damon frowns. He can remember a gunshot and the smell of Jeremy's blood. "But I could still be dying. You might be a hallucination."

"I'm not a hallucination."

"Well, of course that's what a hallucination would say." Damon steps aside to let the teenager into the house anyway. "Did you get shot tonight?"


"Okay. That one was real. But you're not dead? I smelled a lot of blood."

"I was dead."

Damon's eyes narrow suspiciously. "You're not a vampire. Why are you alive if you were dead?" From the way his head is spinning, Damon is leaning farther away from not dying and closer and closer to hallucinating again.

"Bonnie." Jeremy says simply, and that does make sense.

"I'm not dead. And you're not dead. Even though we both should be dead."

"Yes." Jeremy confirms.

"Well that's…unexpected."

Jeremy laughs, the sound more hysterical than amused. Damon can see the tension in his shoulders, and his eyes look a little bit wild.

"Are you all right?" Damon asks cautiously.

"I saw Vicki. And Anna." Jeremy looks like he might be sick. "They're dead, but there they were, standing in my hallway. So then I had to come here. I had to know if I was going to start seeing you too." Jeremy eyes him worriedly again. "You're sure you're alive?"

"I haven't been alive for almost two hundred years." Damon smirks.

"Damon." Jeremy pleads with him.

"I'm very much undead, Jeremy. Promise."

Jeremy nods, but he still looks unconvinced. Damon reaches out and grabs Jeremy's hand, lacing their fingers together, trying not to think about how long he's wanted to do this. Jeremy looks surprised, and Damon takes his opportunity to pull him farther into the house, swinging the door shut behind them.

Jeremy seems reassured, and he squeezes Damon's hand tightly for a moment. Damon squeezes back.

"I could use a drink." The vampire grins. "You?"

Jeremy nods. "God, yes."

Damon leads the way into the living room and pours two drinks. They both toss them back immediately.

"I'm happy you're okay," Jeremy says quietly after a moment. "But I'm so mad at you."

Damon sighs. "What have I done now?"

Jeremy pulls a face, "All you said was 'you'll be fine, Jer'. That is the worst goodbye ever. And then you just left, like it wasn't a big deal. Like you didn't even fucking care."

Damon scowls. "Well, you'd know. You're the expert on leaving, after all."

Lashing out comes easily to Damon. He doesn't know how to have a conversation about feelings with anyone, let alone Jeremy. He can count the number of real conversations he's had with the teenager on one hand, and none of them have ever come close to expressing the things he thinks he'd like to say.

"Damon," Jeremy says softly, and Damon is fairly certain the expression on Jeremy's face is something like pity. Damon loathes pity.

"Don't." He snaps. "I don't need you to feel sorry for me."

"Would you just let me talk?" Jeremy snarls, and Damon is surprised at the venom behind his words. Jeremy sighs heavily, and it's a couple seconds before he starts talking again. "I kept telling myself it was just sex. But it wasn't, was it? I mean, obviously that's all it was at the beginning, but then you started looking at me like you wanted more. And I didn't know what to do about that."


"I'm not finished." Jeremy cuts him off. "I know it's a fucking cliché, but I really didn't know what I had until I thought you were dying. And I know you care about me too. You can deny it all you want, or pretend none of this happened—

"I wasn't the one pretending, Jeremy." Damon snaps. "You were the one walking around like you didn't care, and believe it or not, this whole unrequited thing is getting a little old."

"What was I supposed to do, Damon? I went into this thinking you were in love with my sister."

"Yeah, well, I'm not." Damon snaps. "Although, in the interest of full disclosure, she is in my bed right now." Jeremy looks stricken, and Damon knows he shouldn't enjoy it, but somehow it's reassurance he didn't realise he needs. "Fully clothed," he adds. "I imagine she fell asleep during my deathbed vigil." He smirks.

Jeremy doesn't look particularly reassured. "It's not funny, Damon."

Damon doesn't often feel guilty, but he does then. "Sorry," he says, meaning it.

Jeremy shrugs. "I just don't know how you can joke about it."

"C'mon, Jeremy," Damon rolls his eyes. "You've known me long enough by now to know that I'm kind of a dick."

"More than kind of." Jeremy shoots back, a smirk pulling up the corners of his mouth.

They fall into a silence just this side of awkward, and Jeremy opens and closes his mouth a few times before finally saying, "Can we just admit that we're on the same page here?"

"And what page is that?"

Jeremy looks exasperated. "Jesus, Damon. I care about you. It wouldn't kill you to admit you feel the same way."

Damon's first instinct is to push Jeremy away. He's already let the teenager get close enough to hurt him, any closer and Damon knows he's probably headed for disaster. For once, though, Damon ignores his instincts. He reaches out towards Jeremy, even though his brain is practically screaming in protest. His hand lands on Jeremy's shoulder and he steps closer, sliding his hand around the back of Jeremy's neck. His fingers tangle idly into Jeremy's hair and for a moment they stand frozen, Jeremy's eyes locked on Damon's.

Then, one of them moves, and Damon isn't sure which, but he really doesn't care, because Jeremy's lips collide with his, hungry and demanding, his arms winding tight around Damon and his tongue pushing roughly past Damon's teeth. Damon lets his hands roam, tugging uselessly at Jeremy's clothes, and they start to stumble backwards. They land awkwardly in one of the chairs, and Jeremy pulls away, blinking down at Damon.

"Is this a good idea?" He asks, even while his hands are already reaching for the hem of Damon's t-shirt, pulling it up, his knuckles skimming across Damon's skin.

"Probably not," Damon shrugs, "but I'm not stupid enough to let you walk away from me again."

Jeremy grins and leans forward again, his lips grazing across Damon's jaw and his breath warm against Damon's ear. "I'm not going anywhere," he whispers, and Damon feels a thrill at the words, knowing he's been waiting to hear them for too long.

"Good," he whispers, trailing his lips across Jeremy's jaw before pulling him closer and capturing his lips in another hungry kiss.