Disclaimer: The Vampire Diaries does not belong to me. If it did, Alaric would teach all his classes shirtless.

Alaric's sitting at the bar at the Mystic Grill with a red pen in one hand and a glass of watered-down, overpriced bourbon in the other. Hates marking papers, which is why he tends to do it with a buzz.

The plagiarism wouldn't be so bad if his students would plagiarise from reliable sources. Alaric debates randomly assigning marks. Debates assigning marks based on whether or not he's ever heard the student string an intelligent sentence together.

This was not how he pictured his life turning out. From erudite mentor to the future of academia to high school history teacher.

How... mundane.

Less mundane is the maraschino cherry which has just hit him in the face and landed with a soft plop onto the paper he is supposed to be reading.

Alaric picks it up with thumb and forefinger to examine it but despite its extraordinary appearance out of nowhere, it appears to be exactly what it is: a maraschino cherry, with a little whipped cream still clinging to one side.

Alaric is smart. He has a PhD in history and a Masters degree in getting beaten up and stabbed. And of course, he holds a bachelors' in bachelorhood, with a double major in whiskey appreciation.

The maraschino cherry is still a puzzle.

No less puzzling is the whipped cream that has just hit him in the side of the face.

"What the fuck?" Alaric's voice is incredulous as he drops the cherry and grabs for a napkin. Some of the cream has hit his mouth and he can't help it, he has to taste. There's a hint of chocolate mixed with the cream, a little sweetness.

Matt is standing directly in front of him at the bar, expression deliberately schooled to grim. Possibly trying to hide the amusement in his bright blue eyes. "Hey, Mr Saltzman. Or. Um. Ric." he says.

Alaric squints, incredulous. "Did you throw...?"

Matt shakes his head, just barely, and flashes his eyes right. He walks away, polishing the glass in his hand earnestly.

Alaric follows the look and groans.

Damon Fuckin' Salvatore. Sitting at a table nearby with a god damned chocolate sundae, of all the ridiculous things. He's looking at Alaric with a spooky intensity, but his actual expression betrays very little; it doesn't need to, when Damon has a spoon loaded with ice cream and syrup aimed at Alaric's head. That communicates quite a lot, really; that Damon is bored, that Damon has his flirt on, that Damon has decided Alaric's self-imposed celibacy is done with.

Damon, of course, thought the aforementioned celibacy was brought on by some idiotic fit of pique on Alaric's part. Could not imagine why Damon breaking his neck - again - would be sort of a turn off.

And the apology? More like a delighted confession, or at least, a calculated attempt to get Alaric to help him work out what the caves beneath the Lockwood property were all about.

And then he'd shown up at Alaric's loft one night a couple of weeks ago, spluttering at the unfairness of it all, while Alaric tossed a vervain grenade in his hands like a poison apple and refused to let him in. "I apologised!" Damon had protested.

"No. You told me you sometimes do things you don't have to do. And I already knew that."

"I was... being charming. And impulsive. I thought you liked that." Raking his eyes suggestively over Alaric's lips and down his body.

"Sure. I like you charming and impulsive and blowing me behind Carol Lockwood's rose hedge when Founders' Day events get boring. Not breaking my neck because I won't let you run around eating council members." Alaric had shut the door in Damon's face without so much as a twitch of regret.

Might have been the first time Alaric had ever seen Damon Salvatore shocked, that last moment before the door slammed closed.

"He's not even a council member!" Damon had yelled, but Alaric left the door closed.

Of course, Alaric was going to forgive Damon eventually; had to, he'd been blueballing it for days. But not - repeat, NOT because of Damon slinging dairy products at his face.

The spoon full of sundae and attitude, beautifully balanced and no doubt masterfully aimed, is the immediate problem. "Oh, no you don't," Alaric says, barely above a whisper, knowing that's enough to ensure Damon hears the warning in his voice.

Damon hears the warning, but he doesn't care, and a moment later Alaric's face is covered in ice-cream and chocolate sauce.

Someone who didn't know Damon as well as Alaric did would not have instantly seen the set-up, but Alaric also has a graduate diploma in evil vampire schemes. In order to wash his face, he has to walk past where Damon is sitting and head for the bathroom. Before Alaric even gets the tap running, Damon will have the door shut and Alaric against a wall and then Alaric's resolve won't be worth the salt it was written in.

And yes; although he's not planning on dragging this out for much longer, he's planning to make up on his own terms. And his terms don't involve a hand job in the bathroom of the Mystic Grill.

So he gathers up the papers, steps off his stool. Turns to Damon. Smiles widely.

And Alaric gives his best friend the finger.

Heading back to his car, Alaric wipes most of the whipped cream off his face, and hopes that it only got all over the paper on the top, since that one was an F anyway.

He hasn't even got the car door unlocked when he feels Damon's cool fingers at his hip.

"That was about the hottest thing I've ever seen," Damon purrs, running his fingers under the waist band of Alaric's jeans. "And I've been around a while."

"What? Me covered in whipped cream or me giving you the finger?" Alaric doesn't turn around, but he doesn't pull away, either. With Damon leaning against him, Alaric feels himself stir.

Damn it. He's going to fold.

"To tell you the truth, it's a pretty close thing. But I'm going with you flipping me the bird."

"Go home, Damon," Alaric says, trying to keep his voice steady as he feels his body respond to the contact. Aching for the firm, determined warmth of Damon's lips on his.

"I've got a better idea," Damon answers, placing those damnably kissable lips against the back of Alaric's neck.

Alaric turns, then, and is pleasantly surprised to find that he's caught Damon off-guard.

"You killed me, Damon."

"Puh-lease. I gave you a nap." But he looks off-balance, full of false bravado.

"Apologise," he says, one hand on Damon's chest, pushing him away. It's not a hard push. Trying to actually push Damon off him would be bringing a knife to a gunfight, but it's never been like that between them; except, of course, when Damon's in a mood and wants to kill someone. But Damon gets the hint, steps back. Rolls his shoulders in frustration.

"I already did."

"No, you didn't." Alaric's feeling pretty good, at this point; the urge to give in is strong, but not as strong as his desire to get a fucking apology, some admission that Damon feels bad about what he did. He pauses a beat. "Fine. See you around, Damon," he says, climbing into his car and driving away, leaving a white hot mess of lust and misery behind on the sidewalk.

Alaric's been asleep a while when he's woken by a subtle shift on the mattress. Damon is sitting on the side of his bed. "The fuck, Damon? Did you not get the message?" Alaric rubs his eyes, switching on the bedside light.

This thing – whatever 'this thing' is – they've never defined the rules, but Damon's never come inside Alaric's home except by knocking on the door and being invited in. Alaric's about to tear into Damon when he speaks, sober and quiet.

"It took ages."

Alaric's confused. "I don't know what you're talking about, Damon. Go home. Leave me the fuck alone."

Damon isn't laughing, isn't flirting. "It usually takes a couple of hours. I don't know. Three. Maybe. But you were dead for nearly seven hours."

"And you're gonna go out and get revenge on the asshole that killed me? Oh, wait. That would be you."

Damon rolls his eyes. "Do you want your apology or not?" Alaric waves his hand in reply.

"Whatever will get you out of my apartment so I can get some fuckin' sleep," he says, yawning, pretending not to care either way.

"You were dead for seven hours, Ric. I carried you home, I put you on the couch, I thought, another hour – tops – and you'd punch me in the jaw and we'd get drunk and fuck. But you stayed dead for seven hours. I nearly called Sabrina to come and make sure your ring was working."

Something important is happening. Alaric's not sure exactly what, but he's prepared to wait and keep his mouth shut so he can find out.

"By the time you woke up I'd drunk two bottles of bourbon and I was wondering if it was too late to get some of my blood down your throat. Whether you'd hate me for the rest of our very long lives if I turned you into a vampire. And then suddenly you were there again, spluttering, and pissy, and self-righteous, so of course I had to be all pissy and self-righteous, too, when all I could think was thank fuck." Damon's shoulders drop with the effort of getting it all out.

Alaric lets his eyes drift closed. This was not the plan. The plan was wrangle an apology and get back to fucked-up business as usual. He opens his eyes again, and Damon is watching his reaction, looking resigned, and a little miserable.

Damon takes a deep breath. "I – am – sorry, Ric," he says, and is gone out the window before Alaric can answer.

The graduate diploma in evil vampire schemes isn't worth the paper it was printed on. Alaric groans, rubbing his eyes, switches off the bedside light and tries to get back to sleep.

Nope. Not working.

He's feeling odd. Vindicated by the apology. Unnerved by its depth. Alaric lies in the muted dark, his bedroom softly illuminated by the glow of a streetlight, ribbons of brighter white light, and tries to picture Damon sitting by his side for five panicked hours. He should be glad, he thinks, that Damon almost had to face the consequences of being the impulsive asshole he so often is, but instead, he's actually feeling sorry for him.

Alaric grabs his phone, sitting on the nightstand, and types out a quick text on the illuminated keyboard.

Get back here, asshole.

Thumb hovering over the send button. He does still have to get some sleep.

Alaric groans as he sends the text out. In under five minutes, Damon is climbing back through the window, cautious expression on his face. Alaric leaves the light off, knowing that Damon can see well enough in the gloom. A moment later, Damon crawls under the covers, already naked. Alaric laughs.

"Presume much?"

Damon effortlessly draws Alaric towards him, until they're lying face to face, Damon's slightly cool skin warming with the contact.

"Yeah. Well. I figured I was forgiven. And..." Damon lets his tongue flicker across Alaric's lips, while Alaric moans somewhere deep in his throat. "I missed you." He presses a tentative kiss to Alaric's mouth.

"Forgiveness comes with a caveat," Alaric answers softly.

"Seriously? Haven't I demonstrated enough personal growth for one day already?" On the words 'personal growth,' Damon grinds his erection hard up against Alaric's thigh.

"You ever pull that shit on me again, and we are done. Done with this. Not friends. Not anything."

Damon snakes his arms around Alaric's waist, drawing him closer. "I wouldn't," he says softly.

"Swear?" Alaric growls, eyebrows cocked.

Damon raises his hand in front of Alaric's face, hooking his little finger in the air. "Pinkie swear."

Alaric snorts with laughter. "Fag," he groans, covering Damon's mouth with his own, kissing him deeper. Damon tangles his hand in Alaric's t-shirt, dragging it up and over his head.

"I'd even go so far as to get the little witch to check your ring, make sure it's not wearing out or something. I'm not the only monster with a habit of killing you, you know," he says, nuzzling into Alaric's throat. "One of Jules' little werepups killed you, once, too. And let's face it, while we're living in Mystic Falls, we need every advantage we have over the mortal friggin' coil. Don't suppose you want to start taking Vitamin Damon supplements, too? Just in case you get hit by a bus?" As if he's trying to make this sound like a better idea than it is, he's got Alaric's cock in his hand, pumping slow and firm, until Alaric's rock hard and groaning.

"Don't push it," he says. "Fuck, I've missed those hands."

"Yeah? What else have you missed?"

Damon lays a line of kisses down Alaric's neck, his chest. Lower. Pauses at that spot low on Alaric's hip - their spot, their sacred spot, already ghosted with fine white scars that are a perfect replica of Damon's teeth, to press his fangs in, just enough to raise a pin prick of blood, just enough for a taste.

Alaric makes a sound he can't describe. He always feels he should be ashamed of this - not the sex, god no, but this need to be possessed, the sense that he's not quite satisfied until Damon's drawn blood. "Do it," he groans, almost begging, and feels rather than hears Damon's answering chuckle. Damon expertly removes Alaric's boxers, freeing his erection, lets his breath ghost over the saliva-slick scar, the trace of blood there. One hand still slowly pumping at Alaric's cock, he positions his mouth on the scar and sinks his teeth in.

Alaric had been bitten by vampires long before he ever reached Mystic Falls; his early, fumbling attempts at slaying the undead got out of control more times than he could count. It was a very painful, very messy experience. Flesh torn and ragged. Damon is so careful, teeth hooking in just exactly enough, and maybe it's just because Alaric's always swimming in hormone soup by this point in their adventures but there's hardly a moment of pain until the next day. And then he finds he treasures the deep ache.

Damon's hand speeds up as he takes his mouth off Alaric's hip, catching a drip of blood with his tongue. Transfers his greedy mouth to the eager cock, moaning at the delicate taste of pre-come, as Alaric grips the back of his head, anchoring him in place. It doesn't take much; Alaric's been lonely and frustrated for weeks, his orgasms self-directed and miserable, perfunctory. Damon hums happily as he swallows, but barely lets up on the pressure until Alaric pulls him back up for a kiss.

Deep, and hot, and immeasurably slow. Alaric's hard again, takes his cock and Damon's in his huge hand, and Damon groans at the contact, kissing him harder. Just a couple of minutes later, the flesh between them is covered in two flavours of rapidly cooling ejaculate.

Damon groans. "That was just embarrassing. I haven't come that fast since I was a teenager."

Alaric laughs. "Powder keg, man. Don't worry about it. We've got plenty of time to get our groove back." He rubs a warm, heavy hand over Damon's shoulder blade. "You stayin'?"

Damon nods, settling against Alaric's side to sleep.

A few minutes later, Alaric's nearly asleep, when Damon murmurs, "how much time?"

Alaric grunts. "Not tonight. Need sleep." He pulls Damon closer.

"You, me, and eternity, Ric. Think about it. It wouldn't suck." As if to prove his point, he runs his thumb across Alaric's nipple.

Alaric stills. Not because he's horrified but because this isn't the first time he's thought about it. Hadn't realised it had crossed Damon's mind as well. He tries to be dismissive. "C'mon, man. We just made up. Can we leave the heavy shit until things are back to normal?"

As he lets his eyes drift closed, Damon grins to himself, because at least it wasn't a no.

"Hey Damon?"

Damon purrs. "Not tonight. Need sleep."

Alaric scoffs. "What was that thing with the sundae all about?"

Damon grins, chuckles. "You've ignored my texts. You've ignored my calls. You've shut your door in my face. I had to think of something you couldn't ignore. I figure nothing says 'come here and suck my dick' like a face full of whipped cream."

Might be true at that.