New story! Ok, so I wanted to tackle Ripper!Stefan so this is kind of a personal challenge and I would love your feedback. Will be multi-chapter but definitely shorter than All At Once.

Disclaimer: Own nothing.

Falling Off the Wagon

The first time he tasted Elena's blood was after he'd been tortured by the tomb vampires. At the time it had barely registered to him, he'd been so badly wounded and the danger of Frederick had sidetracked him completely. Only later, once he'd torn the other vampire to pieces did he think back on the incident and how badly it could have gone.

As it was he didn't come out unscathed.

The taste of her blood, however small in it's amount had his gums aching every time the memory resurfaced. It wasn't that Elena was special, or at least he didn't think so. It was merely the fact that human blood, fresh from the vein, hot and smooth in his mouth...was exquisite. And he wanted more.

Damon kept a steady supply of human blood in the basement of the boarding house and while the donor bags weren't the same as feeding fresh, they held a much larger appeal than animal blood in every way and Stefan found if he heated them in the microwave he could imagine that he was drinking from soft, supple flesh and not recycled plastic.

Not only was the taste better but he felt better. He'd always thought Damon was wrong for keeping a steady diet of human blood, but honestly, Stefan understood now. It was fine to be self-righteous and feel guilty about your nature when you didn't remember the taste of human blood, but you don't know at the time what you're missing.

It was how they were meant to be. And in Stefan's opinion that was confirmed by the fact that their powers of compulsion were heightened when they were on a proper diet. After all, a vampire could easily feed from a human and compel them to forget it completely – no harm no foul, everybody wins right? Of course that didn't really work for Stefan because the more human blood he drank, the more he wanted it and he couldn't stop.

It was hard just to walk down the street without tearing someone's trachea out these days. The wind would blow back a young woman's hair, just enough to showcase her neck enticingly and he would have to force himself to turn the other way, to walk in the opposite direction and not compel the girl to leave with him quietly.

And then there was Elena. He'd look at her and feel so guilty. Young, impressionable Elena. She'd seen him at his worst when he'd killed Fredrick but she still believed the best of him. If only she knew. Every time he looked at her guilt rose up through his chest and choked him and it wouldn't stop until he was out of her presence altogether. He was spending less and less time with her just to avoid the feeling.

She had noticed something was up of course – her and Damon both. He felt all around better and it showed. Although his brother soon found out why, Elena went on without a clue and what irritated Stefan the most was that she called him on it. She was irked by his new attitude, it was as if she was annoyed he was happier and that started a burning in the bottom of his gut that he couldn't fan out.

When the founder's day kick off party came around he was having more fun than he'd had in the last fifty years, dancing around and just generally enjoying the party. While Elena once again noted the difference she didn't say anything until they bumped into Duke. He was helping her out really, he couldn't see why she had a problem with it. Compelling Duke to apologise didn't hurt him or anyone else, but it was a lesson he deserved to be taught and it was for her benefit anyway! Apparently none of that mattered though because vampire compulsion was 'bad'.

He was beginning to think at that point that Katherine's look-a-like was hanging around with the Bennett witch too much. She was becoming so judgemental of him all the time and though she wasn't vocal about it, every little thing he did seemed to set off the disapproval in her eyes.

The kicker of course, was the Miss Mystic Falls Pageant.

He didn't care if Elena found out he was still drinking human blood, Damon knew after all and he wouldn't have kept it to himself for long anyway, not while he was still making goo-goo eyes at Elena. He was getting tired of his "I'm clean" spiel to his brother anyway when they both knew he was far from it.

He'd told Damon that he was fine though and he meant it. While he knew what his brother said was true, that sometimes you could just snap, it hadn't happened to him and it wouldn't. He was feeding from the blood bags, he was keeping it under control and everything would be fine, right? It had been a long time since he'd drank the good stuff and his memory was a little rusty, but surely he'd be used to it enough eventually that he wouldn't want to tear out the throats of every person that walked passed him.

At times like these when he tried to convince himself a little voice in his mind emerged whispering that he was a ripper and he'd never be the same as every other run of the mill vampire.

He'd told his brother he was back off and he thought that just maybe he might of convinced him if it weren't for the disastrous events of the pageant. He lost control.

He'd been having fun we they were taught the dance and Elena seemed to enjoy it as well, while she noted that he seemed to be more lively than usual, she informed him that she was "not complaining," and they had a good time fooling around and making jokes with each other about his age. He was actually looking forward to the pageant with her before it all went to hell.

He remembered the indignant feeling that rose in his chest when she believed Damon over everything he was saying. Insisting that he 'wasn't alright'. He felt bitter then, the snide voice in his mind commenting that perhaps she should be with Damon then if she liked him so much better.

What he remembered most from that day though was the taste of Amber's blood sliding down his throat, sating a thirst that had been scratching at him for over fifty years. If he had of just compelled her to be quiet, taken what he needed and then left, taking her memories with him then everything would have been fine. But he didn't; he'd compelled her to run and then lost himself completely.

He could close his eyes right now and remember clear as crystal the taste and smell of her blood, but what he'd said to her was a blur. "Your carotid artery right here...control the blood takes practise...don't have to waste any." The words would flit through his mind, taunting him, her face burned into the back of his eyelids. Don't have to waste any.

He realised that day that it wasn't just about the blood, it was about the hunt. He wasn't human, he was another species entirely now, a predator and he needed the thrill of the hunt, the catch before he fed to sate his appetite completely.

Three words he learned to hate the most after that were "This isn't you." Elena said them all the time, constantly trying to reassure him that he was something better, that he could be better. She made him want to try.

And then they locked him up and she was there. Everything she did for him...he owed it to her to try.

And so he did. And look where he was now, where did trying get him?

Months later and Elena was standing in front of him, cutting herself and telling him they were going to do this together. That he would take a little bit everyday and he would gradually become accustomed to it. He didn't know what was worse, the hypocrisy of that action or the fact that she was doing it because she actually cared.

What he did know, was that she had no idea what she'd done. He wasn't like his brother, or other vampires. He was a ripper.

And he was about to fall off the wagon.

A/N: Short and sort of a prologue, thoughts?