So, folks…. Here we have a premiere. I normally don't ship Damon/Caroline. Not even close (Delena FTW!). BUT, my usual beta AVECIA – who is also a dear friend – has her birthday tomorrow… so I wanted to write her a little something. And she likes this pairing, so I thought I can jump over my shadow, just this once. It's not all-out romantic; but if you squint a little, you can see it.

Now, a huge thanks to written in dreams who took on the task to beta this story. I can't thank you enough!

Disclaimer: I don't own anything 'bout TVD, I just mess with them because it's so much fun!

On with it!

xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo

By the time she and her mother where done with their mother-daughter moment/talk, the sun was already starting to lighten up the sky again.

From the point she had received the message that Jeremy was going to be fine on, she had been nearly euphoric. Her mum no longer wanted to kill her, Klaus was finally out of town (as well as The Evil Doppelganger Bitch, a.k.a. Katherine). Life finally started to look good again.

And then she had to remember the reason why Jeremy had been shot. Namely that her mum had originally had aimed for Damon who had been out of his mind at the time; out of his mind, and dying – because he had come to save her, and she had demanded they take Tyler with them.

Fuck.

So instead of taking a long, relaxing shower and then snuggling into her warm, comfortable bed she sped to the boarding house. She didn't even take her car – just used her preternatural speed to save time.

Entering the building, she found it eerily silent. Usually there were at least some signs of life.

A forgotten TV or radio, the faint sound of footsteps as one of the brothers was pacing the length of their respective rooms, something.

Rhythmic pounding – either out of Stefan's room when Elena was over and they were having some…fun – or from random places in the house, if Damon was doing the same with a random girl. Or, well…Andie.

But tonight? Nothing. Just dead silence.

Fearing the worst, she made her way up to Damon's bedroom, hesitating a moment before she pushed the door open.

The first thing she noticed upon entering, was the slow and steady heartbeat coming from Elena, who was lying – deeply asleep – on one side of the bed. Both of her hands were clasping Damon's right one tight to her chest, as if she had to make sure that he was not about to dissolve into thin air.

Following the arm with her eyes, her sight finally came to rest on the man himself. He was very pale, more so than usual, and had dark circles under his eyes. But he was still very much alive (or undead? Well, he was not grey and vein-y so there.).

A movement made her look back to her best friend, who had her eyes open and was looking at her.

Slowly, so as not to disturb the sleeping vampire, she let go of his hand and gestured to her to leave the room. Doing as she was told, or signaled, she turned around again and waited just outside.

Only a few moments later she was joined by Elena, who carefully shut the door behind her.

They went down to the kitchen in silence, only breaking it once they had each a cup of hot cocoa in their hands.

"So…Stefan found a cure?"

Sighing and then taking a deep breath, Elena recapped what had happened since she parted. Beginning with being taken prisoner by the Sheriff, breaking out again, finding Damon…everything (minus a few of the more…personal things that had happened and been said).

At the end of her little tale, Caroline took a closer look at Elena, and saw the blatant signs of exhaustion on the girl's face.

"Okay…now that I'm up to date, you're going to go to one of the million and one bedrooms and sleep. You look like you're going to fall off this chair any moment."

Seeing that her friend was about to refuse, she simply shot her a stern look…they had known each other long enough that they could communicate without words, if they had to.

"Come on, just go. You need the sleep, and there's nothing either of us can do tonight. I'll even watch over sleeping asshat up there."

And as it was obvious that Elena was too tired to make much of a fight, anyway, she nodded, put her cup in the sink, and went off to find a bed. Caroline waited a few more minutes, and then went to go upstairs herself. She had promised to look after Damon, after all.

When she was in his room again, she placed a comfortable looking chair beside the bed, took up one of the books piled on the floor, and started to read. Like she had said earlier…nothing much anyone could do this night.

After a while – it couldn't have been more than an hour – she felt someone watching her. Gazing up from the book, she saw Damon's blue eyes open, tired look directed at her.

Sitting up straight, she sent a hesitant smile his way.

"Hey, you're alive… I started to think Elena had been wrong and you weren't."

"Yes, I'm alive."

"And you're awake!"

"I'm awake, yeah." Silence, then…

"Why are you repeating everything I say?"

Damon rolled his eyes and – slowly, with obvious effort – sat up and leaned against the headboard.

"I don't know. Why are you stating the obvious?"

Huffing out an irritated rush of breath, Caroline slumped back into the chair. Damon was being an ass again. He was going to be just fine.

"And to think that I came here because I had been worried. Laughable."

"Worried? Oh come on, Barbie. I know we're all big in pretending in this damn town…but you know as well as I do, that I won't ever hurt Elena."

Blinking, Caroline tried to find out if the man was actually for real. But judging by his suddenly serious face…yeah, he was. Sighing, she combed her fingers through her hair. It had been a long day, and an even longer night. She needed sleep.

"Damon…I know that Elena is safe with you. That's why I hadn't been worried about her. Nobody had thought about telling me if you're all right though, so I came here to find out if you're still around to make my life harder."

Damon looked at her as if he was trying to figure out all of the great mysteries of the universe at once.

"So you came here because you were worried about…"

"You. Yes."

Then, there was silence again. Neither of them knew what to say. Caroline was embarrassed because she let it slip that she didn't quite hate him and Damon…well, there were rarely people who would admit to actually like him.

"So…Stefan's gone? And…Katherine did something nice, and actually brought the cure?"

Safer ground, even if it was a depressing one.

"Yeah. If what Katherine told is true, then…he's off, paying for my life. Typical Stefan; always the martyr."

Shaking her head, Caroline got off the chair, walked around the bed let herself fall down on it, opposite Damon. At his raised eyebrow she just shrugged and said, "Well, I'm tired. I haven't slept at all tonight. I want to at least be comfortable. Sue me."

"No use. I have too much money as it is. Whatever would I do with the few bucks I could get out of you?"

A quick grin flew over her features; irritating as the man might be, he had come to be a constant in her life. And he had saved her life. First, as he gave her his blood, and then again, breaking her out after Klaus had captured her. The last, something that nearly has cost him his unlife.

"Listen Damon… I'm sorry."

He just raised his eyebrows in question, obviously not know what she was talking about.

"You nearly died… you would have died, if not for Stefan and Katherine."

"I know. I was there." Shaking her head in exasperation, she tried to make him understand.

"You nearly died – because you saved me, and because I made you free Tyler, too."

Understanding lightened up his features, and for a moment she saw something soft flash in his eyes.

"Yeah well… Elena was angry at me, so I decided to get you free – you know, to get back into her good graces or something. God knows that girl can be a pain when she's angry, and she's pretty good at holding a grudge, too. And you would have been angry if I left your little pet wolf… which in turn would have pissed off Elena…an endless circle of doom, for little old me. So you see it's been all for myself."

Caroline ignores his dialogue, knowing better than most that it's no use to get through to him when he was like that. So she just toed off her shoes, shrugged out of her jacket, got under the sheets, and closed her eyes.

"And what exactly do you think you're doing?" It's said in this bored tone of voice, that tells her he knows exactly what she's doing; but he wants her to say it anyway, because he is in the mood to rattle her nerves a little. She's letting him have that little bit of fun. He nearly died because of her, after all.

"I'm tired. This is huge, comfortable bed. I'm going to sleep, duh."

Instead of saying something else, the man let out a long-suffering breath, as if it was torture to put up with her. His breath had evened out only minutes later – it was a telltale sign how fatigued he really was, that he'd fallen asleep that quickly. She was not all that awake herself, anymore; but still she mumbled something, had to get it out.

"Thank you. For saving my life. And Tyler's. For…being a good friend." Seconds later, she was asleep herself, the long day taking its toll.

She didn't see that, even though he was nearly there, Damon wasn't quite asleep yet; that he heard every word she'd been saying; so he reached over to her, and pulled her slightly over to him, holding her in a one armed embrace. Later he'd be blaming the near-death experience and exhaustion, but now he had the feeling she needed someone to hold her. So he did.

Xoxoxoxoxoxoxo

Months later – coming back from another fruitless try to get his brother back – he realized something. Elena had once said that it would always be Stefan. And even though she had come face to face with one of the worst things his baby brother had ever done…her love for him was still shining brightly in her eyes. So slowly, he started to really believe her. That it wasn't just some teenage infatuation, but that she had found her one, true love in the younger Salvatore.

It tore at his unbeating heart, this realization…for him, it would always be her, after all. And to now see, that he would never have a chance to have her was excruciating; and never could be a fairly long time for him, seeing how he would never grow old, and never die.

But then his gaze fell on the blonde baby-vamp, currently stealing his bourbon yet again. She emptied her glass in one go, and then went back to the couch, where a devastated Elena was huddled together with Bonnie. He wondered how the so very blonde (and he wasn't thinking about her hair color) girl he used as a walking juice box, had turned into this confident, grown up, young woman.

She looked up for just one moment, her eyes locking with his, and he knew what this gaze meant: you're going to explain what the hell happened. And – for the love of everything unholy…how could you take her along with you? You're a moron!

She focused on her best friend again, doing her best to put the broken pieces of Elena's heart back together. Then a thought wormed itself into his brain… Yeah, for Elena it would always be Stefan but…would it really be always Elena for him?

Smirking, he went to get himself a drink, marveling at the strange ways of life. For now his heart still ached for the deep, brown eyes of the living Petrova doppelganger. For her kindness, her fire; to bury his hands in her brown locks, and to never let her go. But at the edge of this dream, hovered eyes of a lighter color, and hair like spun gold. Maybe, just maybe, his heart wouldn't always be doomed to yearn for something unattainable.

Xoxoxoxoxoxoxo

Right. I'm done^^. My first (and probably last) Damon/Caroline story. I know it was a little bit on the… well, boring side, but I hope you still enjoyed it, at least a little. Now, reviews are love, people,

So long,

Zora.

P.s.: HAPPY BIRTHDAY AVECIA!