this little light of mine won't shine

.

.

.

Caroline's gotten herself captured again, this time by a pair of idiot vampire hunters. He finds this out from Bonnie, who finds out from Stefan, who finds out from Elena, who finds out when she answers her phone and Caroline's screaming into her ear about stakes and vervain. Everyone else wants to sit around and formulate a 'plan', and Damon wants to laugh because, really, since when have any of their plans ever worked out?

Exactly.

So while everyone else is talking and wasting time, Damon's calling the phone company and tracing her cell to its exact location. He flicks his phone shut when he receives word of her exact location, smirks at the tweedle-dee team, and walks out of the boarding house, spring in his step. The prospect of playing Caroline's hero once again is amusing, mostly because she pitches a fit and pouts, then she'll say something like, "I had everything under control!"

He gets into his car, punches the gas, and whistles a Broadway tune he'd heard Caroline singing a few days ago.

She's stashed in an abandoned cabin in the woods just outside of Mystic Falls, such a cliche place, but when are vampire hunters (with the exception of Alaric) ever unique? He parks on the side of the road and ventures into the trees on foot. He reaches the cabin in a matter of seconds, and watches from behind a tree as the two vampire hunters in charge of the party shove Caroline around. Caroline rolls her eyes, but plays along. She knows he's here, because she says. "You guys are gonna die in about five seconds." with a grin.

The vampire hunters both scoff, and roll their eyes. Damon steps out of the trees, crossing his arms over his chest, tilting his head to the side. "Maybe ten seconds, Care." the vampire hunters whirl around, shock crossing their faces for a moment before they're both grinning.

"Two for one," one murmurs to the other. One pulls a stake from his jacket, and takes a step towards an unsuspecting Caroline.

Damon growls, fangs extending from his gums. He flashes forward, but he's just a little too late because the stake slams into her chest before he's within five feet of her. Caroline slumps, knees hitting the ground before she topples over. Hissing, he flings the hunter away from her, grinning in satisfaction when he hears the crunch of a man slamming into a tree. The other hunter comes at him with a stake. Damon sidesteps him, knocking the stake from his hands and snapping his neck with ease.

The woods fall silent, and Damon kicks the dead man aside and drops down beside Caroline. Her eyes are closed, and there's dirt smeared across her cheek. He wipes the dirt away from her face with his thumb, lifting her into his lap with the other hand. "Caroline?" he murmurs hesitantly, pushing her matted hair away from her face. "Blondie?" she doesn't respond, doesn't growl at him, doesn't glare, doesn't move. Devastation settles into his old bones.

It dawns on Damon then. He didn't make it in time. The one time she needed him, he wasn't there. Guilt courses through his dead veins, and he clutches her tighter. "I'm sorry." he murmurs, lowering her to the ground. Her hair fans out, creating something like a halo. He reaches out, tracing her lips with his fingertip. Something stirs in him, a great sadness, one he hasn't felt since Rose. His lips tremble. "I'm sorry." he chokes out again, gathering her back up into his arms. "I never got to tell you that I—I love—"

"Get off me, idiot. You're getting dirt on my jacket." Caroline squeaks from underneath him, and in shock, Damon drops her. She smacks the ground, huffing at him. With a sharp tug, she yanks the stake out of her body, and he realizes that the cursed piece of wood had punctured her alabaster skin just beneath her heart. She was alive. She would live.

Damon falls back onto his haunches, rubbing a hand over his face. Caroline smirks at him, sitting up and flicking her tangled hair out of her eyes. "So, you love me, huh?" she says, teeth flashing.

Damon groans.

fin.