Beautifully Broken

Author's Note: Set in the future of Season 3, dealing with the consequences of bringing Stefan home. Please note there are references to violence and perhaps a non-con trigger (although never explicitly stated, it can be interpreted). Brief references to Damon/Elena/Stefan and Klaus but decidedly Bamon throughout!

He thought he might find her here.

Damon does his best to ignore the smell of stale beer and dried sweat. Instead he focuses on the tiny witch who is holding court on the middle of the dance floor. She is moving to some beat that can be heard faintly over the roar of the Friday night crowd. She has her head thrown back and her eyes closed as her body twists and writhes. For a moment he watches, entranced by the display.

He is not the only one.

Bonnie is surrounded by a small group of men, a mixture of truckers, drunks and frat boys. Each one is vying for her attention. Another woman might find herself in trouble – but Damon knows better; he has experienced firsthand what she is capable of. No one will touch her unless she wants them too.

He moves closer now, remembering his original purpose. The beat has changed, taking on a more sinful tone. She finally allows one of her would be suitors close enough to loop her arms around his neck. With abandonment, she moves.

Damon pities the boy. Within minutes she will without doubt have him worked into a frenzy and then she will cast him off.

He is close enough now to become one in the small crowd that surrounds her. He can feel the stark lust radiating off a good number of them and resists the urge to growl. He could have every one of them on the floor before they even realize what has happened. He knows better than to take this course of action – she will not respond well to it.

Instead he waits as she finishes her dance. As predicted the young blonde is aching for her but she easily skirts his eager hands and turns. Somewhere there will be a drink waiting for her. With her back to him, Damon takes the opportunity to push through the others. He hears a protest but it only takes one glance to have the man heading in the opposite direction. He considers compelling the rest to leave but he knows given her mood, more will take their place. So instead he stands at the front of her thrall and hopes that she chooses him next.

Bonnie is draining a glass of murky liquid at an alarming rate. Damon wonders just how many of the empty glasses on the small table belong to her. He tenses as she turns and their eyes meet, green automatically clashing against blue. For the first time since he has entered the bar he sees some of her confidence waver. He is surprised to realize that he holds some residual power over her; given all that she has been through he would have thought she viewed him as something akin a gnat to be flicked out of the way.

"How did I know I would find you here?" He finally speaks as she stares at him with wide eyes. "You are becoming very predictable, little witch."

She is able to pull in her surprise. He watches as she transforms; steeling herself. "Slumming it tonight, Damon?"

He ignores the barb she has attempted to launch in his direction. "Dance with me." He knows better to ask, to give her a chance to rebuke him. He also knows better than to allow her a moment to think. He has his hands on her before she has even set the glass down. He can feel the lust of the crowd turn to anger – he has touched their fair goddess without permission. He almost wills them to come at him so he can destroy them for trying to do the same.

Bonnie is tense in his arms but she does not pull away. Nor does she use power to force him to his knees. However, she has her eyes narrowed and her fingers are digging into his skin. "Damon," she says and it is a warning.

"Burn me, witch," Damon tells her. "If will make you feel any better."

She is momentarily thrown – he can see the confusion playing across her face. Then she regains control. "It won't work, Damon." Now he is confused. He can feel her body moving away from his so he tightens his grip. He is not letting her get away, not without a fight. She tilts her chin upward, and for a moment he is reminded of the old her, the one who looked down on him with naïve superiority. His finds himself missing that Bonnie. He also finds himself feeling a measure of guilt for the part he played in creating the Bonnie that stands before him. "Do you think that if you save me she will come running to you?" Bonnie continues. "If you manage to do the impossible and fix me then Elena will have to be eternally grateful. Perhaps even grateful enough to return to your side…"

She was trying to provoke him, to goad him into pushing her away and leaving without serving his purpose. He would not be deterred by her tactic – after all he had perfected it. "Bonnie," he begins. "If you think you are going to be rid of me, you are mistaken. You can cut me down with words, light me on fire, turn my brain to mush and I am still going to be there when you turn around."

"You can follow me until the day I die and she will still not come to you," Bonnie shoots back immediately. He can't help but flinch at the truth in her words. "Let me go."

"No." And to prove his point he pulls her flush against him. She is warm and her eyes glitter now. He knows he is wading into dangerous territory. Despite what he has said he does not look forward to having his flesh burn. Instead of further provocation, he waits. When he feels her relax just the slightest against him, he knows that her defenses are weakening. "I know why you are doing this," he says.

"Do you?" She asks and he can hear the amusement in her voice. However, her eyes show the smallest measure of fear.

"I recognized it immediately. You don't live as long as I have not to have thrown away your inhibitions in hopes of forgetting." Damon found himself growing solemn. "It won't work, Bonnie."

He can tell his words have had an effect on her. She sags against him for a moment. When she speaks, she has lost the fire. In the dim light of the bar, he thinks perhaps he sees unshed tears. This is an unguarded moment – a rarity from her now. "I can try."

In the moment, he curses the thing that has made her this way. Damon knows if he ever gets his hands on Klaus he will die trying to inflict as much pain on him as he has on her. Perhaps only then can he rid himself of his own guilt. If he hadn't pushed her so far to do 'the right thing' then maybe she wouldn't be standing before him now, ruined in such a spectacular fashion.

She is tensing now, the moment passing as quickly as it arrived. He knows she is loathed to share that side of her with him. "I am surprised that you are not trying as well. Trying to forget your time with her, trying to forget that your brother ever came home…" she trails off, her eyes searching his face. "Or perhaps this is another ploy – play the part of the good brother in comparison to the one who is in the throes of an addiction."

Perhaps at one point she would have been right. His brother's return had blown to pieces what his life had become. He had stood to the side as Elena did everything she could to coax her Stefan out of the monster he now was. Despite all the months she had spent by his side, all the things she had said to him in confidence, all the times she had clung to him, Damon now knows he is an afterthought in Elena's life. Her soul focus is Stefan, so he must readjust his own purpose.

"You always see right through me, Bonnie," he states. "So you will know if this is all an act."

Bonnie's eyes widen. Her hands on his arms heat up enough to singe and he briefly considers holding tight despite it. However, doing so will raise too many questions. He concedes momentary defeat and lets her go. Bonnie steps back and he knows she is fighting the urge to flee. He takes a step back as well – it is his way to allow her to regain control, to make her feel comfortable. Because the last thing he wants is to chase her through the streets of Mystic Falls.

She turns from him, back to her drink and back to her harem. He decides it is time to retreat, but only a little. He needs to regroup and be ready for another round. He seats himself at the bar as she wraps herself around another eager young man. He asks for a bottle and watches as she weaves her seductive spell. Every so often, her eyes fall on him. No doubt to see if he has truly meant it when he promised to be there when she turns around. He wonders what goes through her mind every time she sees that he is.

And so he waits while she drinks and works up the crowd. He manages to finish off his own bottle before he notices that she has zeroed in on one poor sap. She is pulling him away from the crowd, toward a darkened corner. He pays his tab, hops off the stool and follows. By the time he has pushed through the dejected souls she has left behind he is not surprised to find her locked in an embrace with a man who had at least ten years on her. Damon feels it now – his own monster begging to be set free. He knows he can rip the man's heart out before Bonnie even pulls her lips away. He clenches his fists as he strides toward him. Perhaps his grip on the man's shoulder is a little too tight, perhaps he feels the crunch of bone, but he does not care as he pulls him off of her. The man spins with a yelp of anger mixed with pain. Before he can say anything, Damon holds his gaze. "Leave. And never come near her again."

Her conquest scampers off like a cowardly dog. He turns to find Bonnie leaning against the wall, breathing rapidly. Her eyes have taken on a glassy quality – the result of too much alcohol. Her lips are parted and swollen from the kiss. It is almost as if she is in a daze. Still, he can feel the power circling around her. It is intoxicating. Before he can help himself, he has stepped closer.

He knows she has realized what she holds over him in this moment. A smile curves at the corner of her mouth. She shifts, her head tilting slowly to the side, hair falling away, exposing the expanse of her neck. It is a taunt – one that she makes all the more clear when she looks at him, her eyes glittering. She speaks with speech slightly slurred. "What do I taste like, hmmm, Damon?"

The monster howls now – for it doesn't take much to remember. A rich heady taste – and she hadn't even fully embraced what she was when he had ripped part of her throat out. Now, he imagines she would be so addictive it would take every vestige of control not to drain her right then and there. His mouth aches and for a moment he thinks he will give in. Her eyes sparkle with victory and her head moves offering more of her warm skin to him.

The effect is akin to a cold shower.

Damon straightens as the marred patch of flesh comes into sight. The monster is drowned by guilt and he cannot stop himself, his fingers come up to trace the scars of bite that will never heal properly. He can feel her shudder involuntarily under his touch, her eyes falling shut. He knows she will always carry his mark, Klaus' mark. Perhaps it is the distinct mixture of werewolf and vampire that allows the scar to persist months after it was inflicted. It serves as a permanent reminder that Bonnie had paid a dear price to bring Stefan home. He wonders if every time she sees it she relives the eighteen hours she spent at Klaus' mercy while he and her friends searched desperately for her. To tell the truth, he hadn't expected to find her alive. But then again, he should have known better than to doubt Bonnie's resilience. She had been breathing when he had stumbled upon her in the woods.

Alive but beautifully broken.

Damon suddenly pulls his fingers back as if he has been burned. It is not of her doing, but a result of the image he can't seem to wipe from his mind. In all his time of knowing Bonnie Bennett, he had never seen her as vulnerable as she had been in the moment he had stood over her assessing the damage while Elena and Caroline cried. He knows she has never told anyone everything that happened when she was with Klaus but he thinks he can piece it together. The very thought of it has him stepping back and clenching his fists as he is yet again consumed by an uncontrollable rage against the thing that tore her apart.

Bonnie's eyes flutter open and there is pain evident in them. She is vulnerable now and he has the desire to pick her up just as he did then. However, it would not be welcome so he settles for extending his hand. "Come on, witch. Let's get you home."

She does not resist this time, perhaps too consumed by memories to put up any sort of fight. Her hand curls into his and she allows him to lead her through the crowd and into the cold night air. She shivers now and Damon knows that she has sobered up quickly. She is looking at him with wide eyes. "Why do you care Damon?" She asks just as she does every time he has pulled her back from the brink.

He has had time now to consider the answer. He shouldn't care. He is just guilty, smarting from losing someone to Stefan yet again. But he is beginning to realize that it is more than that. From day one Bonnie has made it clear that she hates him. At one point he was glad of it – he didn't need a judgemental busy body trying to 'save him from himself'. But now, after seeing the lengths she will go to protect those she cares for, he finds himself wishing that she didn't look at him like she wanted to squish him under her shoe. Maybe if he helped her the guilt would go away but more importantly, maybe she would begin to see him in a new light. He has no disillusions – he knows that there is a good chance that Bonnie Bennett will go to her grave hating him. But the desire to try has him seeking her out time after time.

He can never tell her this – not without risking the uneasy truce between them.

So instead he answers as he always does. "For Elena," he says, the lie tasting bitter in his mouth.

Hopefully, she sees right through him.