I am not really satisfied with this.

Title from When I'm Alone by Lissie.


next time you leave, don't go without me.

She could leave and never come back. She could go to Barcelona and design clothes, go to Washington and listen to it rain, she could get away. She could go and just never come back.

It worked for Stefan and Elena and everyone else, why wouldn't it work for her?

Damon walks into the bedroom, chest bare of a shirt, bourbon in his grasp, his eyes lost somewhere in the pool of blue they've been drowning in.

That's why she can't leave.

And if someone would have asked her a couple of months ago if he'd be the reason for her staying in Mystic Falls she honestly would laugh or spit or do something incredibly unladylike. Because a couple of months ago, Damon was nothing to her and she surely wasn't anything to him. They were just two people who had to watch the girl they love leave town.

She faintly remembers Elena hugging her and whispering something about always being best friends in her ear.

Clear as day, she remembers Damon throwing out meaningless facts as Elena walked toward the door of the boarding house. Elena, you'll regret this and You'll visit. You will.

Elena doesn't visit though.

–;

And Caroline isn't really sure when she became the girl who takes care of Damon Salvatore. She doesn't know when he began needing someone to take care of him. He was always independent and mean and yeah, he loved Elena but he hated everyone else.

She isn't sure when she became the one who stays in Mystic Falls with a boy who doesn't really want her, while everyone else is out trying to do something great.

She thinks maybe, though, she became this girl when Damon told her not go home the night Stefan and Elena left. Just stay, Caroline. She thinks maybe he wanted to say something like, with me at the end. And because she's always been such a fool, she agreed. But it's only because he looked so sad and heartbroken and that's not Damon Salvatore.

When she sits with him in silence, drinking bourbon, she thinks Elena doesn't get to do this to him. He shouldn't let her.

–;

Caroline doesn't really say anything to Damon in the beginning, after everyone leaves. She wants to ask why he doesn't just leave too. But she's almost positive he'd ask her the same question and she's just not ready to answer that; doesn't know how to, really.

He doesn't say anything to her either, doesn't initiate anything, so she thinks maybe there's really nothing to say. Elena left, Stefan left, everyone leaves. It's the same thing backwards and forward and she doesn't think either of them really want to hear it anyhow.

So they just don't say anything. She stays at the Salvatore home because he never tells her she should go and remember, she stays because he looks sad and heartbroken, that's the only reason she doesn't just leave.

(Somewhere, in a place where all her feelings hide, she thinks she probably stays because she doesn't want to sit at her own home, sulking and reading too many Cosmo magazines, because they always remind her of Elena. And that just sucks.)

Damon's company is a lot better than missing Elena.

–;

She sleeps on the couch for a while, lazily watching the fire burn out in the fireplace every night, letting it put her to sleep. When she wakes in the mornings the first thing she does is go to the kitchen to make a pot of coffee. Every morning her back aches a little bit and she thinks that if she's a vampire, all this human stuff just should not get to her like it does. But somehow, it manages, and she's always sore with dark circles under her eyes that she has to hide with concealer.

Damon walks into the kitchen and he doesn't even look at her. She's standing at the counter in front of the coffee pot, waiting with her mug. She looks up when he first walks in, hopes maybe she'll catch his eye or something, and looks down when she doesn't.

She rubs at the sore place at the back of her neck and quietly just prays the coffee'll be finished soon so she can get out of there. It shouldn't be awkward, she thinks. Not this awkward, right? Then she remembers that she's always had some unresolved feelings for Damon and they lie somewhere along the lines of hatred, pity, sadness, and lust. God, she wont admit it though.

He must notice the pain stretch across her face while she rubs her neck. Of course, he does. Because he turns to her, leans back against the countertop, and speaks with a soft voice. She doesn't think it fits him very well.

"Come to bed, tonight."

Then he grabs the mug from her hand, fills it with the finished coffee, and walks away sipping at it.

It's really the first thing he's said to her in days and she thinks that's got to be the start of something, right? Maybe she's finally chipping away at the stake Elena drove into him when she left.

She also notes that he takes his coffee black.

–;

All day she sits in the living room or paces in the dining room, or walks up and down the stairs. She'd go outside but there's really nothing to do and as pathetic as it sounds she's probably a lot more heartbroken about Elena leaving than she let on.

She doesn't see Damon at all during the day. When she's walking up and down the stairs she can hear a faint sigh coming from his bedroom and bourbon sloshing around in a glass.

She doesn't go and see if he's okay. Mostly because she knows he's not and she doesn't know what to do with that.

But when night falls, she thinks she has to, or something. She doesn't really have to but she tells herself the couch really wasn't made for her turning it into a bed. Then a voice in her head tells her she should just go home then. She simply thinks no.

She knocks softly then pushes the door open. She doesn't see him at first. Then he emerges from the bathroom, a towel wrapped loosely around his waist, steam creeping passed him into the room. And even though they hated each other or something and they don't really talk and they're stuck somewhere between being something and being nothing, she still thinks he's going to knock her off her feet. Because, oh lord, if he looks like that always.

He doesn't even smirk when he catches her staring.

She stammers a little, curses herself, before finally speaking. "I really just don't want to sleep on the couch." Her eyes dart from him to his big bed in the corner of the room.

"'S'fine." He looks at her a long while before walking off to his closet to change. He walks back out in just boxers and a dark grey tshirt, holding a shirt for her. He tosses it on the bed and tells her she can change in the bathroom. She nods. And once she's in the bathroom, she looks at herself in the mirror – brow furrowed, eyes dark – and wonders if it's possible that Elena's really messed him up this bad.

(No smirks, no bitter remarks, no leather jackets. Just frowns, sad eyes, and plaid boxers.)

She sighs and looks down at the shirt in her hands. She thinks it's maybe Elena's or something and she stares at to see if she sees any tear stains from where he'd cry into it at night.

She's foolish. She remembers, of course, she won't see anything. Damon Salvatore does not cry. She almost rolls her eyes at all of it.

–;

She opens the door and walks back into his room and over to him. "Here." She holds the shirt out for him to take. "Got another I can wear?" He looks at the shirt in her hands, takes it and tucks it under the bed somewhere, and pulls his shirt up over his head and holds it out for her. She gasps just a slightest bit, because it's actually a nice gesture.

She changes into it. Walks over to the bed in just the shirt and her blue cotton panties. She climbs into bed on one side and he stays far away on the other. He in his boxers and her in a shirt and panties. She thinks it's probably the first time he's never propositioned an almost naked girl in his bed.

But she falls alseep with the smell of his aftershave tucked in the collar of the shirt and she sleeps like a baby.

–;

They do coffee in the morning and it's not the least bit awkward when his hand brushes her when reaching for coffee mug.

Dammit, she almost smiles, even.

–;

Two weeks go by and no one hears from Elena. And by no one, it's Damon and Caroline, because it's hard to forget that everyone else left somewhere along the line too.

She knows Damon thinks she would have called by now or something; would have sent a message in the mail to let him know she hadn't fallen off the face of the earth. Caroline doesn't want to tell him that nothing's going to happen to her because Stefan's there, he wouldn't let anything happen to her. But she's sure that would just stir the pot. And everything's already really messed up as it is.

She's already got some of her clothes moved in, she's a little bit comfortable. She doesn't need him kicking her out because she told him what he doesn't want to hear. Yeah, she'd have somewhere to go, like you know, home. But she doesn't want to so she just doesn't say much of anything about it.

Only sulks a little 'cause a part of her was hoping maybe she'd get a call or something. She doesn't though and it sucks all different kinds bad.

–;

Damon walks around the house now, but doesn't do anything. He hasn't left the house in, Caroline knows, three weeks. She's only left to go pick up more coffee and creamer, but still, at least she's left the house. And yeah, the love of her whole eternity didn't just pick someone else and leave her. But her best friend did leave and she doesn't think Damon realizes that. Or maybe he does, he just doesn't care. Either way, she thinks things need to change.

–;

"D'you wanna go for a walk?"

He just stares at her like her voice is too perky and her hair is too curly and her eyes are too wide. "No." He swirls the bourbon around in his glass.

"Do you wanna go to the Grill?"

"No, Blondie."

"Damon, I really think you nee-"

"No, Caroline." She walks away and out the front door because fuck him if he's going to sit around and wait for someone who isn't going to come back. She's not going to.

–;

She doesn't come back until late at night when she thinks maybe he'll finally be in bed and won't notice her, she wont have to look at him.

No such luck though.

She pushes open the huge door and when did it get so fucking heavy? It slams hard when she's inside and it makes her cringe. So maybe she did drink a little too much.

She walks in and throws her purse in the living room. Legit, throws it and walks upstairs, shedding boots and leather jacket and clothes as she goes. She's loud about it to so even if he was in bed or trying to close his eyes for more than a minute without another girl's face flashing across his eyelids, she's distracted him from doing either, or whatever.

She pushes open the bedroom door and she's suiting the most undeniably Caroline pout that honestly makes him want to do something crazy, like laugh.

Plus she's standing there, just inside the bedroom, wearing nothing but her bra and panties. And something inside of him stirs. Maybe it's guilt or maybe it's lust. He doesn't fucking know.

He knows she's fucking pretty though. Has she always been so pretty?

He chuckles a little bit because he doesn't know what else to do.

Her gaze shoots up to his face and she honestly looks mortified, thinks maybe she should cover herself or something because she isn't drunk enough for this, is she?

God, did she honestly think he'd be sleeping or doing anything remotely close to human nature?

"Oh, God. I-" She stops herself. Mostly because she doesn't really have anything to say. Stupid girl, she thinks. She's so close to hitting her palm against her forehead and slowly backing out of the room. But that would only give her a headache she doesn't need and she would look like an absolute fool if she tried to creep back out as if he isn't witnessing her half naked.

"Caroline." She's been trying to avoid his eyes but when she hears her name she looks at them. They're dark and she can't tell anything from them. Doesn't know what he's feeling, they're never so dark blue.

Before she can even process what's going on, he's in front of her and she's pushed against a closed, cold wooden door and Damon's in her face smelling too good and too much like he belongs to someone else.

She lets him kiss her though because, she tells herself, she likes his rough kisses and his smooth hands and he needs an escape just as much as she does.

She thinks she lets him lay her back on the bed and pull her panties off her hips because she really just wants him to.

–;

She doesn't know if she's just really naïve or just really stupid for thinking she could change Damon's mind. Then she thinks maybe those two go hand in hand, so she's just double of everything.

(Just never enough, though.)

–;

He still doesn't leave the house and she sees him twirling the ring on his finger a lot of the time when he's sitting in front of the big window. It makes her worry. It takes her back to when Tyler bit him and he was dying and he thought about making it easier to go. She doesn't want him to think he can't get through this (she doesn't either), so she walks in front of him and pulls the curtain closed tight, turns around and puts her hands on hips. "Damon."

"Why'd you do that, Caroline?" Yeah, it's nice that he's calling her Caroline now, or even talking to her, but she just wishes he didn't say it the way he does. He says it like maybe she holds all the answers to whatthefuckever kind of questions he may have. She just wants him to say it soft and sweet like she thinks she could say his if he'd ever let her.

She kneels in front of him in the chair he's sitting in, rubs his knee and the bottom of his thigh a little, "You know, I worry about you sometimes, Damon." She looks at her hand while she talks then looks up at his face. His lips are pursed a little, his brow furrowed, his eyes asking her to stop, he doesn't need her worrying.

He doesn't say anything for a long while, just stares at her, feels her hand still rubbing his knee. Then he speaks so softly, it's almost a whisper. "Yeah. Well don't."

She wishes maybe he hadn't said anything at all because it would not have been any different than saying everything all at once. Because with Damon Salvatore you take what you're given and just wish it was something else.

–;

She feels like he needs her. Or something. She gets this sickening feeling in her stomach that just won't quit sometimes. It replays his sad eyes and his cracking heart, his empty bottles of bourbon in the parlor, over and over again in her mind. It makes her stomach lurch to and fro and she can't make it stop at times. This undying feeling that he needs her help and if he'd just let her, she would.

She thinks maybe he knows he needs her too, he's just not doing anything about it. Because he's Damon Salvatore and he can fend for himself.

Sometimes she just wants to shake him and tell him he's not fucking invincible and if he's going to let Elena Gilbert dictate the rest of his life, then he can sit in the dark and fucking let it happen. But she's not going to sit around and watch.

If he doesn't want her help, she won't fucking offer it anymore.

(She doesn't tell him that though because when she gets really close to doing it one morning, he brings her coffee and smiles a little. And she thinks he's fucking trying, so she'll wait.)

–;

When she takes a shower she uses all of the bathwash she can find and stops only when her skin's rubbed almost raw. She doesn't know why she does it. Something about substituting one type of pain with another. She doesn't know. She still gets out of the shower and her heart's heavy and her skin burns, so she doesn't really win either way.

She steps out of the bathroom wrapped in a towel, all red skin and wet, curling hair. Damon takes her on the bed before she's even dried off.

The sheets are wet when they're done and she thinks she's fucking losing her mind for getting into this with this boy.

–;

Caroline's always been a little confused, honestly. Sometimes she didn't get why her mother put bananas in her pancakes or why being Miss Mystic Falls didn't feel as good as it was supposed feel.

Now, she just doesn't understand how she could possibly fall in love with someone who doesn't love her back.

(He tells her, even when he doesn't mean to. He whispers it into the night when he's drawing circles on her hip, distracted. It still hurts all the same. 'Cause she doesn't even know when she started loving him or if he'll ever stop loving Elena.)

–;

So she could go. She could leave and never come back and it wouldn't be so awful. It wouldn't. She could run away like everyone else and forget about a lonely heartbroken boy sitting in an old boarding house in Mystic Falls waiting for someone who wont ever come back. She thinks if it was her he was waiting for – well he wouldn't really have to wait because she would never leave – she'd come back. She'd pick him and Mystic Falls instead of Barcelona and fashion school.

But he's not waiting for her, it'll never be her. And she could leave, she wants to leave most of the time. Never even look back.

(She thinks maybe she'll breathe better if she were away from here, him.)

She almost packs her bags too. Between lazy sex with Damon and never having Damon to herself, she almost jumps out of bed, when he goes downstairs, and packs any of her stuff she can find and leave. Not a note left behind or a kiss to the side of his mouth.

Then he walks back in the room, wearing a pair of dark jeans and sad eyes and she doesn't know if she'll ever be able to leave him. And it sucks. Because whether he will ever know it or not, she still wants to help him. And love him and save him. From everything.

She just wishes he'd let her.