AN: OMG! They kill me, break my heart, hurt my soul ! This is fluff ! And I make no apologies for it ! FYI – I hate the end but whatever :P Rough and unedited because it was written in a haze of emotion :D
DISCLAIMER: If I owned The Vampire Diaries, Stefan and Damon would have left Mystic Falls, and Elena already : )
"You stop me from killing Klaus and then you steal his family; why? It doesn't make sense! Answer me!"
Damon's hand twitches where it is wrapped around the branch embedded in Stefan's abdomen. He feels a little mad. He's not surprised if he is – if he has been since the day Katherine walked into his bedroom with Klaus' blood and told him that Stefan had sacrificed everything.
Stefan grunts and Damon subconsciously loosens his grip on the branch, and the pressure against Stefan. He wants to know why, needs to know, but that small part of him that is still Stefan's big brother won't let him hurt him, not badly anyway.
"Piece by piece, Klaus took everything from me." Stefan managed to get out. "I'm doing the same to him."
The words make him angry. "But I had him, Stefan! Why'd you screw it up?" he shouts at his brother.
Stefan's eyes flash with something, a hidden emotion. Damon recognizes the look. He's seen it when he was shot back in 1864, when Stefan fed him the girl's blood – sealing both their fate, when he was trapped in the burning building, when he told him about the wolf bite, when Stefan had him pinned against the wall after killing Andie, when he saved him from yet another werewolf, and when he stopped Michael... Damon never likes that look.
"I did it to save you!" Stefan half shouts half groans.
Damon loses his grip entirely on the branch and Stefan gains enough ground to throw him off. He lands on his back only a foot away but the impact doesn't register.
"What? No, no way!" he isn't talking to Stefan, not really anyway. He doesn't want to know anymore. He can already feel the guilt settling, the knowledge that once again Stefan had sacrificed for him. He didn't want to believe it.
" You didn't do this for me!"
He sits up now, his eyes immediately falling on Stefan who had also sat up and removed the branch. He doesn't say anything at first but he doesn't need to. Damon knows. He remembers back to when Stefan was hovering over him after stopping him from killing Klaus. He been angry, furious, but now... all he can remember is Stefan's face, and the flash of that emotion, whatever it is, that was in his eyes. He doesn't need to hear Stefan's words.
"Klaus was one step ahead of us. If he died his hybrids were going to kill you."
Of course, he thinks bitterly. Klaus was always a step ahead. "How could you have known that?" Damon murmurs to himself.
Stefan shakes his head. "Klaus told Katherine, at the party when she was posing as Elena. She came to the house and told me."
Damon doesn't say anything. He's not sure what he's supposed to say. Distantly, he thinks how ironic it that the two people who weren't supposed to care about him were the ones who conspired behind his back to save him, but he doesn't voice that thought.
Stefan's looking at him now. There's no emotion in his brother's eyes, no hint of anything resembling the Stefan he both loves and hates. It makes him angry again.
"When are you going to get it through your head?" he demands, standing and moving back towards Stefan. Stefan watches him warily but doesn't make a move. "Stop saving me!" Damon screams.
He's close enough to see the change in Stefan. His brother's eyes flash again but not in the way that signals he's about to do something stupid and noble. No, this is all anger.
Stefan jumps to his feat and shoves Damon away from him. The colour around his eyes has darkened slightly. Damon has the foresight to be weary but a much stronger part of him just doesn't care.
"You know what Damon? Screw you! Everything I've done since this whole thing started has been for you! I was with Klaus in the first place, for you! I killed Andie, for you! I've saved you directly and indirectly! I gave up the chance to be free of Klaus for you! You don't get to be angry!" Stefan's voice rises with each point until he's screaming. His hands are shaking and his breathing has become strained. Damon ignores it.
Faster than the human eye would be able to detect, Damon is directly in front of Stefan. His own eyes have darkened.
"That's the point!" he yells back. "Every time you do something for me, you end up putting yourself in danger! I don't want you to save me! I don't want you to sacrifice for me! When are you going to realize that it's not worth it!"
He doesn't see Stefan's hand move. Doesn't register that Stefan's face has fully transformed. He does; however, feel Stefan's fist make contact and his body go flying back. He hits the ground, hard, and Stefan's on him before he has time to move.
Stefan's hands wrap around his shirt and he yanks him up so their eyes meet. Their breath is mingling and they're both angry.
"Do not tell me it isn't worth it! Everything I've gone through, everything I've put you through – do not say that!"
Damon's own hand s have moved to grip Stefan's and he tightens his hold. "Why not?"
"Because it is worth it! It has to be!" Stefan's voice is still angry but now it sounds almost desperate. Damon gets the impression that Stefan is pleading with him, although he's not sure what for. Still, the tone causes him to relax his hold.
Damon shoves almost gently against Stefan and he moves back so he's not so in Damon's face. He doesn't move to fully get off Damon and for the time being, Damon allows it.
"Why, Stefan? Why would you do that? You're not supposed to have emotions. You're not supposed to care." His tone is much softer, gentle even. He's truly confused and anger isn't getting him anywhere.
Stefan sighs and drags his hand through his hair. His eyes are hidden from Damon but when he looks up Damon sees something he'd only gotten glimpses of – he sees his brother. And he looks completely destroyed.
"You know it's a myth. You can't turn it off – not really. I thought I could, I even did for awhile... but some things are just too strong, too important, to not be able to feel."
He understands. He'd tricked himself into believing he could turn it off to. He remembers Rose and how she told him it wasn't real. He doesn't know why he never thought the same would be true for Stefan. Of course his martyr, emotional, sensitive little brother would feel. If he could feel, so could Stefan.
"You're my brother Damon." Stefan continues, oblivious to Damon's thoughts. "All my life you've been... well, you've kind of been my everything; brother, friend, parent, tormentor, playmate, teacher. No matter what I always had you."
Stefan isn't looking at him now. He appears almost lost in his own thoughts and memories. Damon prefers it that way. He's not sure he could handle it if Stefan looked at him right now. He wants to interrupt him, tell him to stop – hearing this just makes him feel like a worse brother – but he doesn't. Despite the guilt, he needs to hear this. And he knows Stefan needs to say it.
"I couldn't bare the thought of losing you. I've never lived in a world without you. I've never wanted to. When Tyler bit you I knew I had to do anything, everything, to save you, even if it meant giving up everything, including you. Going with Klaus wasn't a choice – it was just what I had to do. I felt awful for the things I was doing but I never thought of backing out. I knew you were alive and it was enough for me. I was willing to hurt you if it meant keeping you alive."
Stefan pauses here. He moves out of his position of straddling Damon's legs and instead sits next to him, his eyes unfocused, staring out at the woods around them. Damon sits up and angles his body toward Stefan. He hasn't said anything since he started talking – doesn't think he could.
"When Michael nearly killed you, something inside me snapped. It didn't matter that Klaus had compelled me. I knew I had to find a way around it in order to save you, so I did. And when Katherine came to me and practically begged me to care, it wasn't even hard. I knew you'd blame me, hate me even, but I couldn't let you die."
He turns to him now and Damon takes notice of the tears in his brother's eyes. His chest tightens and his own eyes burn but he doesn't allow tears to fall.
"I'm never going to not save you, Damon. It may not be worth it to you but it is to me. It's worth everything, you're everything."
Damon's body moves without his permission and he grips his brother's should tightly. Stefan lets out an involuntary sob and it's all Damon needs to move. He pulls Stefan to him. His arms going around his neck and he feels Stefan's wrap around his waist. He thinks it should feel awkward, it's been decades since he last hugged Stefan, but it doesn't. For the first time in years everything with Stefan feels right.
They stay there on the forest floor with their arms around each other for several moments, Damon feels Stefan's tears every so often but he doesn't comment. He's still not sure what to say. Instead, he just holds him, letting him know that he's there and that he isn't going anywhere.
Stefan is the first to pull back and Damon reluctantly lets him go. He's not ready to go back to the disaster that surrounds all of them. Back to Elena, and Klaus, and a brother who's probably going to get himself killed. But what choice does he have?
Stefan attempts to rub away the signs of his tears and Damon can't help the small smile from making its way to his face. At least one thing went right – the most important thing.
"I'm sorry," Damon finally says.
Stefan turns to him with a slight frown marring his features. "For what?"
Damon shrugs. "For being pissed at you? For not realizing everything you've done for me? For nearly giving up on you?" The last part is said so softly that he's not sure Stefan hears him. Hopes Stefan doesn't hear him. It's not something he's proud of
Elena had caught him in a moment when he was feeling betrayed, hurt, and angry. He'd never have agreed to give up on Stefan, never have even thought it. The fact that he did leaves him feeling worse than he ever has in his over 100 years of life.
Stefan's expression is blank and Damon worries that he may have hurt the younger vampire more. He's about to say something, to explain, to apologize again but Stefan's voice stops him.
"You didn't though. Even when you had every reason – I wouldn't have blamed you. I don't think you could give up on me any more than I could let you die. It's who we are."
Damon doesn't want to be let off the hook but he also doesn't want to fight so he lets it go. Besides, Stefan is probably right. Just because he came close doesn't mean he would have gone through with it. He decides to let this one go, for both of them – they have enough to worry about.
"Whatever you're doing with Klaus – I want in. I'm not letting you go up against him alone, not again."
Stefan welcomes the change in subject. After so long fighting and hiding them, he can't handle all the emotion right now. He nods. He can use all the help he can get.
Damon nods as well and they lapse into silence. Neither brother moves to get up from the forest floor. Instead, they stay there; shoulders brushing against each other, staring out into the woods. Neither is ready to move yet. They'd gone without the other for so long that for now, as long as they could, they were just going to sit. Together.
Review and let me know what you thought please! : )