Disclaimer: I don't own the guys or the song, all belongs to someone else.
Summary: Set a day after Smells like teen spirit, Stefan gets back at Alaric for shooting him with vervain darts. Damon has to intervene.
Note: Established-kind-of-friends-with-benefits-relationship. I have no idea what to call them.

A/N: This is my Christmas present for the lovely ellensmithee. Merry Christmas, Ellen, thank you so much for the last months! :)

Also, big thanks go to my beta for this, pleasebekidding, who kindly stepped in when I was in need of help. Thank you! Possessive Damon for the win! :D

There's a cold heart, buried beneath,
and warm blood, running deep,
secrets - are mine to keep,
protected by silent sleep


Damon is changing into a shirt after a long, hot shower when he hears it, a choked off cry of pain, echoing through the boarding house.

He knows the voice, has even heard it scream before, but not like that, Alaric doesn't sound like that. Damon hurries out of his room, faltering for just a second when the smell of blood—Alaric'sblood slams into him halfway down the stairs. Alaric is in the living room, heart racing, panting for breath and Damon uses his speed to round the corner, ready to act.

The sight that greets him is… unsettling.

Alaric is pressed against the far wall of the large room. His head is thrown back and his eyes are closed, his face pulled into a grimace of pain. Stefan is standing before him, both hands fisted into the teacher's collar, trapping him against the wall. He is leaning into him, face inches from Alaric's, whispering something to him. It's too low to make out.

Or maybe Damon just isn't listening hard enough, because his attention is drawn to the fire poker that is sticking out of Alaric's left shoulder, the handle barely visible. Stefan starts to reach for the poker, but stops, shoulders tensing.

"Good morning, brother." His voice is cold, devoid of emotion. "Look what I found."

Damon's fists clench at his sides as he fights to hold himself back. Stefan has been unstable for days, living and interacting with him has been hell. But everything he's done so far has been predictable, to some degree, nothing has really shocked Damon, it has always been 'in character' for off-the-rails-Stefan.

This—this is different, this is like nothing he has ever seen his brother do before, it's personal. It's meant for his eyes, it has nothing to do with Alaric as a person, it's a form of power play, but with their usual roles reversed. And Alaric is caught in the middle, stuck to a wall in their living-room.

Damon slows his steps, crossing his arms in front of his chest as he saunters closer, his body purposefully relaxed.

"What did he do, disagree with your party-girl-diet?"

Alaric's eyes snap open when he hears Damon's voice and they stare at each other over Stefan's shoulder for a second, before Alaric averts his gaze. Damon frowns and gets closer, trying to read the weird look that flashes over Alaric's features. It almost seems as if he is scared—of him? It doesn't make any sense, they are at odds these days, true, Alaric is still carrying a grudge over his temporary funeral from weeks before—but this is ridiculous, he would never—

But apparently whatever there is between them is so fucked up right now that Alaric isn't sure whose side Damon is on anymore. And that stings, way more than it should.

Stefan turns his head, looking back at Damon over his shoulder.

"I'm getting even for the vervain," he says, eyes dark and dangerous. His voice sends a chill down Damon's spine. This is so wrong; the whole situation is just too fucked up, in so many no-longer-funny ways.

"You're going to kill the town's only history teacher then?"

Alaric tenses and tries to pull back, but he is stopped short by the metal in his shoulder. The move drags a miserable groan from his lips and Stefan's head snaps back to him.

"Stay, Ric."

"Fuck you."

Stefan leans into Alaric, putting pressure on the wound, not pulling back when Alaric starts struggling against him, back arching against the wall as the tries to get away from the vampire.

Stefan's eyes narrow. "Maybe you shouldn't be so cocky, considering you're no longer wearing your magic ring."

Damon's gaze immediately snaps to Alaric's hand: Stefan is right, the ring is gone. Damon grimaces, but he keeps his voice light as he draws closer. "You know, unlike your other victims, it won't go unnoticed if you kill him."

"Who says I'm going to kill him?" Stefan grins at Damon, eyes flashing darkly as he nods at the fire poker. "We are going to have somuch fun together…"

Before Damon can so much as blink, Stefan reaches up and grabs the handle of the fire poker, twisting it viciously. Alaric lets out a bloodcurdling scream and his head flies back, cracking against the wall as his knees give out—

—and Damon moves, he pulls Stefan away from the struggling human, slamming his brother into the closest wall, hard enough to send chunks of brick and mortar tumbling to the floor, hands fisted in Stefan's collar.

"Get the fuck away from him," he snarls as Stefan looks at him— and laughs.

"Relax, Damon, I'm not going to start killing our—your… friendsnow just because I can…"

There's some sort of humor in his eyes now, but it's a nasty smile that twists his lips, his voice dripping with venom, with the promise of torment and pain.

And suddenly Damon gets it, it's crystal clear. This, the attack on Alaric, it's not random, it's not Stefan having some sort of ripper-fun, it's a test. Stefan set him up—both of them— to see if Damon would chose Alaric over him. They've been there before, threatening each other's friends, pulling them into their fights and, eventually, killing them. Except while that has always been one of Damon's favorite ways to make his brother suffer, Stefan has left other people out of their games. Going after Alaric like this is a challenge, something they both know Damon won't be able to ignore. Stefan wants him to take a side—and he has.

He's made himself vulnerable and put Alaric in the line of fire. This is not going to end well.

Damon lets go of Stefan then, takes a step back, needs space now, can't have anyone close—

A cheery voice sounds, making the hair at the back of his neck stand up.

"Is that the takeout you ordered?"

Can this get any worse?

Damon only just holds back a groan as Barbie Klaus rounds the corner and steps into the room. She barely spares them a glance, zeroing in on Alaric almost instantly. He in turn watches the blond woman stalk closer, face unreadable. His injured arm hangs limp at his side, his good hand curled around the metal embedded in his shoulder, holding him in place. He stares at the Original with a defiant expression, not flinching, his racing heartbeat the only indication he isn't as cool as he looks.

Damon tenses, watching the older vampire closing in on his friend—on his—on Ric. There's a sudden, almost overwhelming urge to just grab Alaric and get the hell out of there and he barely fights it down, jaw clenching against the curse that threatens to escape.

"What's this?" Rebekah stops and picks something up from the floor.

Damon doesn't need to see it to know it's Alaric's ring. Stefan walks over to her and takes it out of her hand.

"Let me keep a hold of that." He takes a step toward Alaric, holding the ring up for him to see. "I will keep this as an insurance against other… surprise attacks. I suggest you behave from now on if you want it back." Stefan turns, pinning Damon with a glare.

"Bothof you."

Stefan turns to Rebekah, holding out his arm to her. "Let's find someone to eat and let them clean up the mess here."

Rebekah gives one of those fake laughs and they leave, arm in arm, like they are best friends all of a sudden and not just barely tolerating each other. Damon watches them go until Alaric's strained voice pulls him out of his thoughts.

"A little help—please?"

Damon turns to look at him, at the wound. With Stefan and Rebekah gone, Alaric's stubborn pose has changed; he is slumping tiredly against the wall, swaying slightly as he fights to keep upright, the pain now clearly visible on his sweat-soaked face.

"That's gonna hurt," Damon says, mostly to himself.

"You think?" Being pinned to a wall apparently makes Alaric even more grouchy than usual.

Damon rolls his eyes and goes over to him, studying the wound and especially the angle at which the metal went in. Without the ring as a backup this will be a bitch to get out, and there isn't any option but to pull it out as fast as he can. Alaric is watching him wearily, shivers coursing through his tense frame. Damon sighs, moves to stand in front of him, placing one hand on Alaric's good shoulder—

"You ready?"

—and pulls out the metal in one swift move. Alaric's legs give out and he starts sagging to the floor with a hoarse groan that ends on a choked sob, a weak, miserable sound Damon has never heard from him before and hopes he'll never hear again. He braces Alaric to keep him upright and the teacher sags into his arms, his head coming to rest on Damon's shoulder, Alaric's breath hot against his skin as he pants for air.

"I hate vampires," Alaric moans.

Damon grins despite the situation. "You have a funny way of showing that, coming here all unarmed. What were you thinking?"

"'m not unarmed—" Alaric breaks off into a groan when Damon pulls him to his feet.

"Let's get out of here."

Alaric doesn't protest, doesn't do anything but continue to gasp for air. Damon hoists his uninjured arm across his shoulder and drags him to the door, impatient to leave the house and the potential danger behind. He gets Alaric into his car, pausing long enough to get some cloth from the back seat. He puts it on the wound and presses Alaric's good hand on top of it, telling him to keep pressure on it. And then he's in the car, pulling away from the house with no idea where he is headed or what to do now.

"I think I'm gonna need a hospital," Alaric says at some point, twisting in his seat to find a comfortable position.

Damon turns his head, taking in Alaric's pale complexion, the pained features—and something inside him snaps.

"Enough of this."

He pulls off the road abruptly, ignoring Alaric's pained yelp when he is thrown against the seatbelt.

"Damon, what—" Alaric breaks off when Damon leans across the space separating them, biting into his own wrist.

Alaric's eyes grow wide and he stares at him in shock, then pulls back, shaking his head vigorously, the wound seemingly forgotten as he presses himself against the door behind him, raising his good arm in protest.

"No, stop—"

Damon ignores him and leans closer, crowding the teacher against the seat and the door. He reaches out and grabs Alaric's neck, roughly pulling him toward him to press his bleeding wrist across his mouth. Alaric glares at him over his arm, eyes shooting daggers at him as he tries to twist his head to the side, fighting to push him off with his good arm.

"I will not lose you to Stefan's games!" Damon's voice rises without him really noticing it. "As long as he doesn't give you the ring back you're gonna do what I say and you aregoing to let me help you with this. I won't have you bleeding out in my car. Do. You. Get. That?" He stops short of shaking Alaric like some disobedient dog, but it's close.

Alaric glares at him, making no move to drink the blood he's offered. His body is tense, pressed against the door, his good hand wrapped around Damon's arm, still trying to push it away. Damon doesn't budge, not one inch, holding Alaric's gaze with increasing difficulty. They stay like that for what seems like forever, locked in a stare-down—and just when Damon is about to reach over to clamp his other hand over Alaric's freaking nose to force him to drink, Alaric finally gives in and swallows. He immediately starts coughing; trying to pull back reflexively at the taste, but Damon only pulls back when he sees the big, gaping wound close beneath the torn fabric of Alaric's shirt.

Damon sinks back against the driver's seat, watching Alaric closely. Alaric looks like he is going to throw up any minute now, taking a few deep breaths with his eyes closed.

"What the hell was that all about?"

Damon hasn't heard that tone for three weeks now, curious, almost teasing, but still very much pissed off. He's missed that, missed all the time they've spent together, missed him—and fuck him, but he wants that back, the drinking, the joking, the spending time together—the feeling— He wants it back. Now. Everything is better with Alaric not mad at him, with Alaric being there for him when Stefan isn't and Elena is just some teenage girl in love with the idea of a man who never existed.

"I'm not losing you to his games, Ric."

He surprises himself with the way it comes out, all soft and honest sounding. They both blink, Damon in surprise, Alaric in something else, something more like… anger.

"You really are an idiot, you know that?" Alaric sounds incredulous—and Damon has no idea why, but he feels like he might just have said something incredibly stupid.


"You killed me and you never even bothered to apologize for weeks— and now you'regetting all angry at Stefan for sticking some metal through my shoulder?"

Damon is numb with surprise. That'swhat he is still moaning about? After everything that just happened? After Damon choosing Alaric's side over his own brother's, that is seriously the only issue Alaric is having with everything? Anger bubbles up his throat suddenly, almost choking him with its intensity, fueled by something he doesn't waste time on trying to identify.

"Don't you get it? He took away your cereal box ring and he's threatened to killyou—"

"You didkill me—"

"Can't you just get over that already? I checked if you were wearing your ring and you were pissing me off and Elena was being worse than Judgy—"


"I shouldn't have done it, okay? I shouldn't have done it and if you could just get over yourself and stop bitching like a fucking girl every time you see me we could get back to before—I fucking missyou!"

Well, fuck, he had notmeant to say that.

Alaric is watching him, wide-eyed, an unbelieving frown on his face that slowly, very, very slowly turns into a smug grin.

A grin Damon would love to punch off his face right about now.

"So, you're saying all I had to do was get myself almost killed by your brother to hear you say you're sorry?"

Damon stares, unbelieving, completely caught off-guard for just a second—until his brain gets back online.

"I never said I was sorry."

There's a sparkle in Alaric's eyes, part amused glint, part warning, the grin Damon's been missing for weeks. It's all the invitation Damon needs. He's on Alaric the very next second, pushing him back into the seat as he claims his bloody lips in a bruising kiss, tasting his own blood. Alaric laughs into the kiss, and then tugs at his collar, pulling him closer, biting playfully into his lower lip before deepening the kiss and everything is just perfect. Damon forgets they are parked on the shoulder of a busy road, pushes away the fact that they might be seen and just enjoys being close to Ric again.

But Alaric pulls back way too soon, pushing him away a little, blinking up at him with a wicked grin.

"Maybe we should continue this someplace else…"

Maybe he's right about that, maybe they should, but Damon doesn't want to move away, too content with being this close to him again. He ignores Alaric's words and slips a hand beneath the torn shirt, running his fingers lightly over the warm skin. Alaric sighs, then pushes him back again, looking at the steering wheel pointedly.

"Drive, Damon."

Damon stares at him, then pulls back, starting the car without saying a word. Alaric watches him, shakes his head and looks down at his torn shirt, pushing it aside to have a look at the now completely healed, but still bloody skin beneath. He looks incredibly hot with blood still smeared across his lips and half of his shirt blood-red and torn open. Damon takes a deep breath, forcing himself to watch the road.

"What were you doing at the house anyway?"

"Elena asked me to pick up some books she left yesterday."

"What did you do to get Stefan mad at you?"

Alaric shrugs. "You tell me… The front door was open, I walked in, called out to see if someone was there and he appeared out of nowhere, threw me into the wall and ran that thing through my shoulder. He was grinning like a maniac and he was saying something, but I was a little too preoccupied to listen… And then you showed up." Alaric looks at him, eyebrows raised questioningly. "What was that all about?"

He should tell him.

Stefan knows what we've been doing, he's gonna use you to get back at me for ruining his life. That fucking fire poker? Only the beginning, he'll probably tear you open next time, decorate our living-room with your intestines to say 'I hate your guts, bro'.

Yeah, that's totally going to win him a lot of brownie points with Ric, especially now, moments after getting back on his good side.

Still, they've always been honest with each other and Alaric has to know what's going on.

"Stefan knows."

Alaric looks up from his shirt. "Stefan knows what?"

Damon waves a hand in the air, indicating both of them. "About you and me—about us."

Alaric cocks his head to the side. "About us?"

Damon takes his eyes off the road long enough to look at him. "Yep."

Alaric is silent for a moment. "What's there to… know… about us?"

"This isn't a joke, Ric, okay? I've been there with him before, I know how he gets when he's off the rails like that and without that ring—"

Alaric turns in his seat, cutting him off. "Will you stop worrying about that ring? I've been around vampires for some time now; I know how to defend myself. Jesus Christ, Damon, listento yourself!"

He sounds seriously offended and he's right, maybe, before Alaric had come to Mystic Falls he had been hunting vampires on his own—and survived. Alaric does know how to look after himself, but still—the thought of him being around Stefan triggers some protective instinct he's never associated with Alaric before. It's disconcerting, to say the least. Ridiculous.

He gives Alaric a dark look, but Ric doesn't back down, just rolls his eyes at him and leans back into his seat, pointing at his torn clothes.

"I'm gonna need a clean shirt," he says, and that ends their discussion.

They spend the rest of the drive to Alaric's apartment in silence, Alaric watching the streets, lost in his thoughts, while Damon tries to figure out just how he is supposed to deal with the situation and cursing his stupid brother in every language he speaks.

They arrive at Alaric's apartment and make it inside without drawing any kind of unwanted attention to themselves. Once the door is closed behind them, Alaric kicks his shoes off and makes a beeline for the shower. He gets about three steps away before Damon takes a hold of his wrist and pulls him close, crowding him against the beam near the door. Alaric opens his mouth to protest and Damon takes that opportunity to crush his lips against Alaric's, capturing his mouth in a hungry kiss. Alaric wastes no time kissing him back, pulling him close by his collar.

When he finally comes up for a couple of much needed breaths, Alaric lets his head fall back against the wood, panting softly with his eyes closed. Damon watches him closely, admiring the view for a moment, then starts kissing his way down Alaric's throat, stopping to nip at his skin here and there. The familiar scent of Alaric's blood—even old and already dried but close, so very close—draws his fangs out and he doesn't even try to retract them, instead he lets them graze across Alaric's throat, causing him to shudder.

Damon grins and pulls his head back, studying Alaric's relaxed features—and finds himself suddenly swallowing hard, flashing back to the events at the house. He almost lost this—him, if Stefan—if he hadn't stopped the whole thing when he did…

"Whatever possessed you to go into that house vervain-free…"

He speaks without really meaning to and Alaric picks up on the change in his mood, opening his eyes to slits to look down at him. "I have vervain onme, I just didn't put it in my coffee."

Damon glares at him; this is too important, too potentially dangerous to let it slide. "Well, having it onyou didn't help you much when you were stuck to that wall like a fucking insect in a showcase."

Alaric's eyes narrow, his frown deepening. Suddenly his hand is in Damon's hair, pulling his head back with a little more force than necessary. "I can take care of myself." His eyes wander to Damon's lips and he leans closer, lowering his voice. "And no matter how much vervain I would have had on or in me, it wouldn't have protected me against getting skewered by a fucking fire poker, so stop bitching about that…" He leans in, capturing Damon's lips in another, hungrier kiss, pulling him closer.

Damon fights back a growl, just barely stopping himself from reaching out to push Alaric back against the beam. He lets him set the pace, allows him to take the lead for a moment, even nicks Alaric's tongue when Alaric runs its tip teasingly over his fangs. Damon moans at the brief taste of blood and feels Alaric grin against his lips.

Following a sudden inspiration Damon moves then, vampire strength and speed and all, ripping open Alaric's already torn shirt at the front and pulling it over his head, then down his back, trapping the teacher's arms and hands in the sleeves. Alaric sucks in a surprised gasp and immediately starts struggling against him, trying to pull his hands free. Damon doesn't allow it; he ties the torn ends of the shirt into a firm knot over the wrists and leans his head back, studying Alaric's face.

Alaric hates games like this, no matter how playfully Damon tries to include some form of bonds into their fun. Alaric always pulls back and stops anything they are doing; even now Damon can feel his heart beat hard against his chest, like it's trying to break free. They both know Alaric can get out of the shirt if he really wants to, in less than a second or even faster, but still his body is tense against him, as if Alaric is getting ready to fight him off for real.

But not this time, something inside Damon insists on this, on pushing Alaric's boundaries as far as they will go. He leans closer, his hands still on the T-shirt-knot, breathing softly against Alaric's parted lips.

"Let's see how you get out of this…"

Alaric stares at him, hard, for the longest moment, studying him, arousal warring with caution. Not for the first time that day Damon wonders if the trust between them is broken, if his outbreak has literally killed that part of their relationship he's always treasured the most. They might fight a lot, they argue about pretty much everything just to rile each other up, to get a reaction, however violent, but at the end of the day there's always been peace, quiet. Trust. To think that this might be gone—

He is pulled from his thoughts when Alaric takes a deep breath and nods, slowly, leaning back against the beam.

"Okay," he whispers softly, relaxing. "What now?"

For just a second Damon feels almost giddy with relief and has to fight down the urge to smile broadly. He settles for a smirk, stealing a short kiss before leaning back and running his eyes over Alaric's body, pretending to think about his answer.

"Now you are going to tell me where you are hiding the vervain on your body, I can't have you using that against me if you get free somehow, can I?"

"Maybe you should search me then," Alaric says and he seems to be back in their game, the look he sends him is nothing short of challenging, sending a spike of arousal straight to Damon's cock.

Damon takes a step back and lets his eyes wander over Alaric's body, studying the naked chest, the left shoulder that is still covered in blood, trails of it sneaking down Alaric's side, disappearing beneath the waistband of his jeans. For just a moment he flashes back to how serious the wound had been, he's reminded, again, that there is no ring protecting Alaric if anything should go wrong. For the first time ever since they got together, blood on Alaric's body doesn't look sexy or arousing—

He pushes that though aside, tells his mind to shut the fuck up and get with the program. Damon leans into Alaric again, starting to lick and nip at the skin of his throat while running the tips of his fingers up and down his sides.

"I should do that," he whispers and slips his hands into the back pockets of Alaric's jeans.

"Not there," Alaric mumbles into his hair, jumping slightly when Damon squeezes his ass roughly through the cloth.

"I have to keep looking, then," he breathes across his throat and feels Alaric shudder against him.

"You do that—" Alaric moans when Damon drags his tongue across his Adam's apple, sucking at the skin while he lets his hands wander between their bodies, caressing Alaric's chest until he can feel Alaric start to squirm against him. Damon hooks his thumbs under the waistband of Alaric's jeans and pulls him closer, sliding a leg between Alaric's and brushing deftly against the erection he can feel there. Alaric grunts in surprise and sags against him for a second, then struggles to lean back against the beam, closing his eyes.

Damon captures one of his nipples between his teeth, starts to tug slightly and Alaric shudders, his breath starting to become ragged. Damon runs his tongue over the dried blood and lets his hands glide into the front pocket of Alaric's jeans, hissing and pulling his right hand back when something burns against his skin.

"You found it."

Alaric chuckles and Damon can hear the self-satisfied grin in his voice. He responds by deftly rubbing his knee against Alaric's crotch, tracing the outline of the bulge there with a few determined moves that cause Alaric to gasp in surprise and then give a long moan that might have been Damon's name again.

"How am I going to get that away from you," Damon muses quietly, grinning when Alaric starts to move against his leg, seeking more friction. He lets him, uses the distraction to open Alaric's belt and slide a hand inside his underwear, wrapping it around Alaric's straining erection. "Think you can give me a tip?"

Alaric isn't listening to him, he grunts something completely incomprehensible. Damon tightens his hold for a second, applying just enough pressure to make it slightly painful, snorting in amusement when Alaric whinesand tries to pull back.


"Get with the program, Ric, I ask you a question, you answer, or I'll do this—" He squeezes once more and Alaric hisses and becomes very, very still. Damon continues, "—and you're going to have a lot of apologizing to do... Now, how do I get the vervain away from you without having to touch it?"

Alaric blinks, is clearly fighting to get his scrambled brain cells to work and looks at him dazedly. "Get the pants off?" he huffs breathlessly after a moment and Damon laughs at the lost expression on his face.

"You are sooo enjoying this... "

He keeps up the pressure and leans in for a kiss that leaves Alaric even more breathless. Damon begins stroking in earnest then and Alaric moans, leans into him heavily, his forehead coming to rest on Damon's shoulder as he starts panting. Alaric tries to get his hands free, twisting in the bonds and his struggles increase when Damon picks up the pace relentlessly, not granting him a single second to catch his breath. He turns his head to the side to watch Alaric's profile as he gives himself over to Damon's touches, eyes closed, mouth slightly open, huffing against Damon's shoulder.

Damon works on Alaric's pants with his free hand, completely unnoticed by him, has them open and down to Alaric's knees in no time, followed by his boxers. It doesn't take long until he feels Alaric tense against him, breath catching on a sound that is a mix between his name and a hiss as he comes. Alaric's knees give out and Damon barely has enough time to catch him, snickering into the sweaty neck.

"Mine," he growls softly, knowing Alaric won't hear him, too mired in post-orgasmic bliss. He frees Alaric's hands from the T-shirt and one of them comes to rest heavily on his waist as Alaric huffs something into his shoulder that Damon can't make out.


It takes Alaric a long moment to lift his head long enough to get the words out clearly. "Were you trying to make a point or something?"

It's a loaded question, he can't answer it without diving into topics he definitely does not want to touch right now, not when Alaric is looking at him like thatand the idea of a hot shower together starts to sound better by the second. He decides not to say anything, not now at least, and pushes Alaric upright, steadying him until he finds his balance and his footing again.

"I think you were going somewhere," he says, nodding toward the bathroom.

Alaric looks at him and even opens his mouth to say something—but doesn't. He steps out of his boxers and his pants, picking them up from the floor. He is about to turn to walk away from Damon when he suddenly stops and looks at him, face turning serious.

"So… this is us then?"

Damon has no idea what to say. He looks at Alaric, naked, bloody and torn clothes clutched in his hands, waiting for an answer that will change everything, put a name to something Damon isn't sure he wants to commit to. If he accepts this, if they follow through with this—things aren't going to be easy for them, for any of them.

He wants Alaric, he does, he wants to spend his time with him, do things like they just did, over and over again, get other things in return and just enjoy every moment they spend together. But that means putting him in danger, putting Alaric between him and whatever crazy ideas his brother might come up with. If Stefan decides to get serious and start a war between them, Alaric will most likely be the first casualty. The logical, the safer choice would be to leave him and try to make Stefan forget about Alaric.

Alaric is watching him silently, reading him in a way he shouldn't be able to—and it feels right. And Damon makes a decision, there and then, if Stefan tries to take that—Ric—away from him—well, he won't sit around quietly and do nothing. If it really comes down to that he will put up one hell of a fight.

He allows his lips to widen into a grin. "For the record: If Stefan doesn't give you your ring back, I'm turning you."

Alaric stares at him, mouth falling open to protest, but then he laughs, shaking his head. "Anyone ever tell you that you have a gift for spoiling just about every moment?"

Damon winks at him. "That's why I'm so much fun to be around."

I'm not ready,
I'm not ready,
for the weight of us,
for the weight of us.

The weight of us – Sanders Bohlke