Stefan awoke from a restless sleep. Taking in his surroundings he realized that he was in his room in the boarding house. Alone. Looking outside he realized that it was still late. The alarm clock on his nightstand reading 3:38 a.m.
Getting up from his bed Stefan left his room, knowing he wouldn't be able to get back to sleep. Walking into the hallway he concentrated on his senses so he could listen to everything that was going on in the house...there was nothing. No television static, no music playing, no breathing, no hearts beating. No noise whatsoever.
Stefan looked down the hallway a few rooms down and his eyes locked onto a single door. Damon's door. Walking over there Stefan stood there for about two minutes before opening the door to confirm that Damon was indeed gone.
Stefan wondered where his brother was at this hour. Before he would be annoyed and worried for the innocent people out at the moment because he didn't know(well he had an idea) of what Damon would do if they crossed him at such an ungodly hour, and he would fear that Damon might do something reckless and expose them. But now he was just worried about Damon in general. Stefan had seen the wolf bite and he knew what it meant.
Since arriving at Mystic Falls there had been times when Stefan was angry. So much so that he wished to never stopped drinking human blood. Especially that whole fiasco with his blood thirst getting out of hand...But he managed to control himself those times, for Elena. He didn't want her seeing him like the monster he truly was.
But the fury he felt when his mind finally registered what that bite meant almost sent him on a frenzy. He wanted blood. Not to satisfy his natural primal vampire craving, but he now had a pure blood lust for revenge! He wanted Tyler Lockwood's blood! To spill Tyler's blood. Drain him of every last drop in a slow and painful way, so he too can suffer just like his big brother. Never, with anything that's happened with Elena had he felt like this.
At first he didn't understand. He thought he hated Damon. Hated him for everything he's done, all the misery he's put him through, and for never leaving him alone!
And that's when Damon's upcoming doom hit Stefan the most.
Being a vampire you always see people coming and going. Being born and seeing them die. People you didn't know, people you met, and even people you loved. It was a tragic thing and one of the things Stefan hated the most about being immortal...yet he was used to it. Expected it. Accepted it.
But it never occurred to him that it would ever happen with Damon.
Damon was just so bad ass and strong, and no matter who came into town or who they faced...Damon refused to die. It had come close a few times but they always managed to save him. Sure there were some lives cost to make sure Damon kept on living, but Stefan was now willing to admit that he was fine with that. He didn't care so long as Damon was alright.
Because for over 145 years, both human and vampire years, Damon never left Stefan alone. While everyone else left, died, or disappeared, Damon didn't. Despite the way his and Damon's relationship used to be Damon was a constant in Stefan's life...the only constant. Where Stefan is Damon is sure to follow. It's kept Stefan from being alone, and he never realized it, until now. Until he remembered what happened with Rose and everything she went through. And the thought that it will happen to Damon as well.
The pain, the illusions, the loss of reality and sanity.
Damon...his big brother and only family left in the entire world, will forget him just before he dies. Unable to use him as an escape from the pain and torture...
Someone would have to stake Damon when it got too bad and neither Damon could live with the pain, nor could anyone else stand to see him like that.
Stefan would be the one to do it. Elena wouldn't be able to, and anyone else doing it just seemed wrong.
Walking into the room Stefan reached the bed and lied down on it. He stared at the ceiling for a while before turning on his side and hugging one of Damon's pillows. It smelled like him...his shampoo and cologne filled Stefan's nose. This brought back a very early memory. Stefan smiled at it. It was the day their father decided that Damon should attend school. On that day was actually the first time that Stefan had been separated from Damon for more than a few hours. And usually those hours would be the time they would be asleep. Of course more often than not Stefan would sneak into Damon's bed in the middle of the night because he would have nightmares, or see something in the shadows, or hear a scary noise. When any of those happened Stefan would immediately run to Damon. His big brother would protect him from everything because no one ever wanted to mess with his big brother!
Ten year old Damon Salvatore was standing in front of his bedroom mirror adjusting his clothes. The maid that also worked as his and Stefan's nanny came in with a pile a books locked together in a strap and placed them on the counter where Damon's mirror was and where he was standing in front of.
"These are the books for the school year Master Damon," Madeline whispered.
Damon nodded as he finished with his shirt and turned to look at his nanny and the books she had obtained for him. "Thank you Madeline." Damon whispered back.
"Are you nervous, Master Damon?" Madeline asked curiously as she fixed a few stray hairs on Damon's head.
"About school? No, not about school..." Damon replied as he looked towards his bed. There, under the warm comforter was the small body of his little baby brother who still wasn't even five years old yet. This was the first time that Damon would be separated from Stefan for more than an hour or so. When their mother had died a few days after giving birth to Stefan, the younger of the Salvatore's had become Damon's responsibility. His father, though supplying what they needed, had refused to visit Stefan. He had been hurt tremendously by the loss of his wife and couldn't stand to bare to look at the so called reason why she wasn't with him anymore...his second born.
The nanny's were instructed to care for the infant but there was still something missing and Stefan could feel it. The nanny's, though they cared for the infant, didn't...couldn't give the love that a family member could give. So Stefan would cry and cry until Damon couldn't take it anymore and grabbed his brother from the nanny's hold. As soon as he did Stefan got quiet. Instead of having tear filled eyes he looked at his older brother with pure curiosity. Damon, thankful for the peace and quiet, kissed his brother's forehead and that gained him the babies first smile. Since then Damon was Stefan's world. His teacher, his parent, but most of all...his big brother.
"You'll watch him while I'm gone won't you Madeline?" Damon asked.
Madeline had been his nanny since he himself was an infant. Besides his mother, she was the only one he's ever really trusted, especially when it came to Stefan. His father had grown more affectionate with Stefan over the years but not as a caring fatherly figure, but as a king grooming his heir for the throne. And of course that meant that his father and him had been butting heads lots more the last couple of years.
"Of course Master Damon. Young master Stefan will go by his ordinary routine. And when he gets bored I'll take him to the garden to play. I'll also have his coloring book and utensils ready in case he gets fussy." Madeline replied.
Damon smiled, Madeline was truly a wonderful woman, "Thank you. This is the first time Stefan will be apart from me and I'm not sure what his reaction will be. I really don't wish to leave him but father has ordered me to go to school and has fired my tutors."
Madeline nodded, "I'm sure my lord just wants what is best for you Master Damon. While there is plenty that the tutors my lord hires could teach you, there is much more you can learn at school."
"Like what?" Damon asked.
"Well the most I can think Master Damon is social skills."
"Social skills? Whatever would I need to know those for?" Damon asked. Madeline was the only one who wasn't on the receiving end of Damon's growing cold demeanor. She and Stefan were the only ones though.
"Social skills are very important Master Damon. As the heir to your fathers fortune and name it will be up to you to make the proper deals and the right friends and business partners. Knowing how to act with others will be very important in your future young Master." Madeline replied.
"I know how to act polite Madeline. I've spent hours learning how to act properly for when I have to accompany father to a gala or party or something," Damon said.
"Yes but there are some differences you will notice while around other people your own age," Madeline said. "Now come along before you're late."
Damon took one more look at his bed and at the figure under there with a longing look on his face before heading towards the door.
"He'll be fine Master Damon. He's strong and he'll be just fine on his own," Madeline reassured.
"I know that," Damon said, almost bitterly, "That's why I really don't want to go."
Stefan's eyes fluttered open as the sun came in through his brother's window. Sitting up he yawned and stretched his limbs. Getting out of bed Stefan looked around the room trying to located his older brother. It looked like it was still early in the morning, but his big brother had lots of things to do because he had lots of responsibilities. Father needed De to do lots of grown up stuff. Like the other day De had been ordered to sit and read lots of papers. Almost all of them had their last name on it. Stefan knew that because De had taught him how to spell his whole name! And while De did his responsibilities Stefan always stood around near him. He promised to be super quiet so to not distract his older brother while he was boring because it took lots of time that Stefan perfered to used as play time, but he kept quiet, all that mattered was that he would be allowed to be next to his big brother instead of being pushed off to his room and wait for him to finish like the first time. But father never needed his older brother until late in the afternoon because he himself was busy with other stuff until after lunch.
"De?" four year old Stefan called out but no one answered.
"Deeeeeee?" Stefan tried again.
"Hm...De no answer...Oh! Maybe De in bathroom!" Stefan deducted. It was morning after all and every time they got up from bed they had to use the potty!
Running to the adjecent bathroom to his brother's bedroom Stefan knocked on the door loudly. "De! Open door! Stephy has to go peepee too!"
The door opened as he knocked and as he looked inside Stefan called out, "De?"
It was empty which caused the young Salvatore to frown. That's when he saw the bathtub. Its curtain was closed so Stefan thought that his brother was just being playful and finally playing with Stefan. Covering his mouth his with hands to stop his giggles Stefan approached the tub and yanked the curtain opened and yelled, "BOO!"
But the tub was empty.
Panic set into Stefan at his findings, or lack of there of, and quickly ran out of the bathroom. Reentering his brothers room Stefan looked around. His brother wasn't anywhere here. Hm...maybe De was playing. Maybe he wanted to play hide and seek! Stefan walked to the bed and looked under it...No, no Damon.
He walked over to the closet, opened it, and stepped inside. He moved clothes and boxes and other things that belonged to Damon but his brother wasn't in the closet either!
"DAMON!" Stefan yelled into the room. When no one answered he quickly ran out of the room and headed to his room. He checked under his bed, in his closet, and his bathroom. But Damon wasn't there either. Stefan checked all of the rooms in the hallway that were left unlocked. The ones that were locked he knocked and called his brothers name until he was certain that his brother wasn't in there. No matter what Damon never kept Stefan waiting when he yelled for him. No matter if he was with their own father in an important meeting, if Stefan called him, needed him, Damon would come running. And now wasn't any different.
After checking all of the bedrooms Stefan went downstairs and continued his search. He walked into to kitchen and looked under the table. He liked to hide under there when he wanted a snack and knew that the chef wouldn't give him one. But Damon wasn't hiding under there. So next he checked under the sink and then in the cabinets. But still no Damon...
Stefan's lip began to quiver and his eyes stung with water, but he wiped them away angrily! No, he wouldn't cry! Damon wouldn't cry! And if Stefan couldn't find Damon then his brother must be in trouble! If Stefan was in trouble his big brother wouldn't be crying around like some big cry baby. No! Damon would be looking for him and he'd be brave!
With a new found determination Stefan began to look once more.
After making sure he didn't miss any place in the kitchen he then ventured off into the living room. Looked in the fine china case, behind the sofa, under the coffee table, behind his fathers bar...no Damon.
After looking in all the rooms in the house Stefan wondered off into the garden and all around the house but no matter where he looked there was no Damon...
His brother was gone...trudging back to the house Stefan made his way back to his brothers room and climbed onto his brothers bed. He hugged one of Damon's pillows and sniffed in the smells that belonged to his brother. Like the shampoo and soaps he bathed in.
He missed Damon. He wanted Damon!
Whenever he had a nightmare he would quickly run to his brother's bed where he was instantly welcomed. No questions asked. No making fun off. Nothing. Damon would just scoot over and offer him a warm embrace of comfort. No matter what Stefan could always count on his big brother. Whether it was to learn how something worked, or simply when he was curious about their mother. Damon would take the time and explain everything to Stefan in a way that he not only understood but loved to remember.
But now Stefan was alone because Damon had disappeared. Who was going to care for him now? Who would sneak him a treat after every meal when no one was looking? Who would read to him all of his favorite stories? Who would invent new ones when the old ones got boring? Who would teach him how to grow up?
Who would love him now?
Stefan hugged his brothers pillow tighter and let the tears fall like waterfalls.
Damon arrived home after his first day at school. Madeline had been right. There was something different about being around those boys that he just didn't get around the house. He didn't know what it was but he liked it. Compared to everyone else he was smarter, faster, and everyone liked him...That's why it was different. He felt accepted there. Like the Damon he was now was good enough...more than enough.
Walking into the house he was surprised to see his father there. Waiting for him.
"How was your first day Damon?"
"Exceptional father. The material is simple compared to what I've learned from your tutors you hired and I excel at everything there," Damon replied.
"That's good to hear. I expect you to be great. I will not expect anything but the best from you. Do you understand, Damon?" his father asked.
"Of course father? Father...may I ask where Madeline is? She promised to pick me up from school but she wasn't there," Damon asked, he had hoped she'd taken Stefan there. When he didn't see them he all but ran home.
"Oh yes. There was something I needed picked up. Very important. Only she could be trusted with it. As soon as she dropped you off I sent her to go and fetch it," his father replied.
Damon's eyes widen, "She hasn't been here all day?"
"No." his father replied calmly.
"Then who's been watching Stefan?" Damon demanded but didn't wait for a reply as he dashed up the stairs to find his baby brother.
Running up the stairs Damon ran to Stefan's bedroom but found it empty. Panic set in and his heart jumped into overdrive causing his blood to rush. Stopping in the middle of the hallway Damon tries to calm down. That's when he hears small whimpers. He follows them and lets out a breath of relief when he finds Stefan in his bed clutching his pillow for dear life.
Walking up the bed Damon smiled as he looks at his baby brother. He was alright. Crying, but alright.
"Steph," Damon said gently.
Hearing his name Stefan peeks out from the pillow and his eyes widen comically. Damon can now see the tear stains running down his cheeks as well as the runny nose. Stefan all but jumps and tackles Damon and they almost fall off of the bed, but luckily Damon stops their fall.
"I's find you!" Stefan cheered.
Damon chuckled at the relief tone in his brothers voice. "Technically little brother, I found you."
Stefan removed his face from Damon's chest and more tears swell up in his eyes, not of worry, but more of relief and joy, "I wakes up and I no's see you! I looked and looked and looked but De nowhere! Not in potty! Not under anything! Not even in the backyard!" Stefan sunk his head back into Damon's chest and cried harder, "I thought you left me brother..."
Wrapping his arms around Stefan in a protective way Damon promised, "I'd never leave you Steph. And I never will. No matter what happens, who we meet, where you go...I'll always be there."
"Promise...?" Stefan sniffed.
"Of course. I'll be with you forever," Damon promised.
"And ever?" Stefan was making sure.
Chuckling again Damon said, "An eternity."
Damon walked back into the boarding house nearing dawn. He was tired and his arm hurt. He first went to his refrigerator and grabbed three bags of blood and downed them at his own leisure paste. He closed his eyes and listened to the noises of the house. Since getting his wound there were times when he would have trouble with his senses. Mostly his hearing and smelling. Though from what happened with Rose he knew that soon his vision would soon fail him as well.
But right now the pain was dull so his senses were working normally. There wasn't any activity in the house. There wasn't any sounds of beating hearts so no mortal was here...he did hear breathing so that meant that his brother was here. At least he hoped it was his brother. He was in no mood to deal with anyone else. Nor did he think he had the strength. And like hell he was gonna give just anyone the satisfaction of ending his immortal life.
Taking yet another two bags of blood Damon walked up the stairs and headed to his bedroom where the sound was coming from. He frowned. The possibility of the person not being Stefan increased because they were in his room. I mean for what reason would his little brother be in his bedroom anyways?
Opening the door he was a bit shocked at what he found. His little brother was laying on his bed, clutching one of his pillows for dear life. Walking closer to the bed Damon could see the tear stains on his brothers cheeks and it brought back a memory of a simpler time...a better time. A ghost of a smile appeared on Damon's face as he sat gently on the bed as to not awaken his brother from his slumber. Not seeming to be able to control his actions Damon's hand wondered to Stefan's hair and brushed it and whispered, "I'm sorry brother...I guess I couldn't promise you eternity after all."
"De?" Stefan asked in a groggy voice.
Removing his hand and standing up before Stefan could focus his vision Damon replied, "Yeah Steph, it's me."
Gazing up at his big brother Stefan said with the same tone of amazement and wonder he used over a century ago, "I found you."
Chuckling at his brothers words Damon repeated the same words he used as well, "Technically little brother, I found you."
Without warning Stefan launched himself at his brother. Similar to last time too. Fresh tears fell from his eyes as Stefan whispered into Damon's chest, "You promised forever De...forever!"
Awkwardly, Damon wrapped his arms around his brother and rubbed his back soothingly like he had done many many years ago.
"I know I did Stefan...but you know I'm a liar," Damon said.
"But you promised me an eternity!" Stefan exclaimed.
"Of misery..." Damon replied.
"I don't care. I can't lose you...not you. You're supposed to be there watching over me. Its your responsibility De...I'm your responsibility! Yours big brother," Stefan insisted. As if Damon had forgotten that Stefan had always belonged to him. Stefan didn't have parents, no longer had relatives, Damon was the only thing left so hence forth he belonged to Damon...he couldn't return him. There was no one to return him to.
"I know Steph," Damon said as he combed through Stefan's hair. "But this is just something that I can't beat. It's over."
"NO! It's not over...it can't be...no matter who came into my life, who I met, you were always there. You never left me...I made you like this because I was selfish...I gave you eternity, not for you but so you would be there with me forever...I'm not going to lose you..."
"No Damon! We'll fight this. You can't leave me! I won't let you," Stefan said as he looked at Damon straight in the eye and Damon could see the determination and will in them.
"Well isn't someone a selfish spoiled little brat," Damon teased.
"I don't care...no matter what happens Damon I'll always find you," Stefan promised.
"Technically little brother, I always find you..." Damon said, his voice soothing and dare he think it, hopeful...
Maybe...maybe he could keep his promise of eternity after all.