Simple one-shot of vignettes featuring Damon as he deals with what it means to be an older brother. I stake no claim on these characters or The Vampire Diaries (book or show) and there will be no profit made from this story.

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I.

His mother smoothed down his unruly hair and smiled at him, wiping the tears from his face. "Oh, little luna, my little moon, everything will be fine," she said, hugging him tight.

"Momma," his brother said as he pushed his way into her arms and tried to shove him out of the way, but his mother kept her grip on both of them. "And my little sole…you are my sun," she whispered to Stefan. "The two of you shouldn't fight over such trivial things."

The remnants of a broken toy soldier lay on the floor between them, and his ear hurt from his brother's fist and Stefan's face was marred with scratches. He hated his annoying brother, but she held on tight to both of them.

"One day, when you are older, it will be just the two of you. No one can ever take that away. Brothers protect each other. That is their duty, and that is what why God put you here. You must find a way to share. Please, do this for me."

Stefan looked up with solemn eyes and nodded his head. He reached down and picked up the wooden soldier and handed it to Damon. "Here, you can have it. I'm sorry, brother."

His mother offered Damon her usual sad smile as she kissed Stefan on the forehead and stood to leave. "See, that wasn't so difficult, was it?"

Damon watched his mother exit, and when she was gone, he handed the toy back to Stefan. "It was yours all along."

His brother shook his head. "No, I want you to have it." Stefan walked away and pulled a book off the shelf and settled into a chair. Damon stood with the soldier in his hand and a gnawing feeling in his gut. He hated being an older brother sometimes.

Without a word, he set the toy down on the floor and walked over. "You want to go down to the river and see if the fish are biting?"

Stefan smiled. "Sure, that sounds like fun. Let's go."

II.

He killed his first man a month after joining the Confederate Army, and promptly threw up on his shoes afterward.

It had been a bloody battle that day. The ground was strung with corpses and his ears still rang with the echo of cannon fire and musket shots. But there was silence now, punctuated only by the moans and death rattles of dying men.

None of the other soldiers said anything about the vomit on his shoes. They had thrown up too.

The silence faded as the sun set - the pained moans melded into blood-curdling screams as limbs were sawn off in the medical tents.

He tried to ignore the cries, but he couldn't. A grizzled old Captain sat down next to him and handed over a flask. "This will help," he said.

Damon drank it all; the burn going down his throat was the only thing that registered through the numbness. The liquor felt good and the man clapped him on the shoulder. "Keep it, son," he said. "It makes you forget."

For the next six months, Damon never let himself get out of a stupor, if possible. The flask was always there, hidden in his vest, and when the screams got too loud, or the blood became too much, he drained it dry and allowed himself to fall into a dreamless sleep.

It worked until the liquor ran out. Their supply trains were blocked off. Everyone was hungry, Damon was sober, and the screams were driving him insane. Yet he didn't think about leaving until he caught sight of the old Captain's body being carted off towards the mass grave. His face was half-smashed in from a musket shot and his arms dangled over the blood-stained stretcher, and Damon threw up again. He had learned to avoid his shoes.

He turned away and meant to head towards the river to wash his face, but his walk somehow turned into a desperate run, and he couldn't stop his feet from moving. His life, full of battle, armies, and the ghosts of old friends, streamed out in tatters behind him. So did the tears.

Somewhere between a bridge and an old rotting farmhouse, his mind shut down. Damon stumbled, falling beside a boulder and into a deep pile of autumn leaves. His hands shook and the faces of the dead would not leave him alone. But then Katherine - gorgeous, strong, enigmatic Katherine spoke up in his mind. "Come home," she whispered. "Come home to me."

The only thoughts that kept him on his feet during the long, silent march home was her. Marrying her, starting a family, protecting her, bringing her flowers, teaching their children how to fish and letting them do as they wished, and never having to see the smile on her face fade the way his mother's had.

III.

He had waited hundreds of years, dreaming of her starving in that tomb, fretting until he had paced holes in his carpets. Damon made sure everything was right - no detail was overlooked, nothing left to chance. He had turned off his feelings, studied every badass he could find and adopted their ways, screwed witches for spells, and even bought a home for him and Katherine in Europe to retreat once he got her out. Nothing had been overlooked.

The nightmares of soldiers screaming in the tents threaded through his dreams, morphing into her screams and pleas for him. "Come home," she whispered in his night terrors, "Come home to me, please."

The liquor helped - but only the strongest he could find, and always two bottles. Yet, there were other distractions. He took a perverse pleasure in reading every book on vampires and watching every over-the-top Hollywood movie about his kind. Damon mentally derided everyone in the theater as they alternately swooned and screamed in horror at the screen. It made him laugh, which few things did these days.

Humans had a deadly tendency to romanticize their monsters, as if their fascination and kindness towards them meant they wouldn't end up as prey, or have their blood running down his chin or bits of their flesh between his teeth. Everyone ached for these fake Hollywood vampires to find the one thing that was special about them - that no one else could see, or bothered to see - as if that would be the ticket to a happy-ever-after eternity of puppies, frolicking in forests, and long, drawn out sighs and kisses.

But no one ever factored in the blood, or the darkness. Or the loneliness.

When the real monsters emerged, no one hesitated to eliminate them, or him, now that he was simply a villain to be killed with the nearest pitchfork and torch.

It was hilarious, when you really thought about it. The vampire they adored and feared was just a screwed-up, too-innocent kid who fell in with the wrong crowd, who pretended to be evil, who pretended to shut everything off, and did his best impression of a bastard on a daily basis, when he really just wanted to curl up in a ball and bury his nose in the hair of someone who didn't fear him without being compelled.

Every single one person in the audience thought they were someone special. And he hated them all because they were. They had families to go home to, people who loved them, wives to kiss, children to tuck in, and husbands to smile at. He had nothing waiting for him after the movie except the blood of an alcohol-drenched beggar, or if he was lucky, a sweet young thing who just happened to get lost on the wrong road, and it would never be all right.

Damon stared up at the screen and the laughter died on his lips.

They wanted a monster, and they'd get one, only he's just a kid in a Dracula costume on Halloween, playing his part. He should get a fucking Oscar for the shit he's done.

IV.

He bought into the lie, just like every other weak, whining mortal. Katherine had been a lie, just like the silver-screen vampires. He had bought everything she was selling without question.

He had thought of everything in planning to get her out, but forgot to factor in whether she was real, and whether she cared or not. He wasn't special, and now everything he had ever known crumbled away to ash in his fingers. Damon poured himself another drink and hated himself, knowing he had made the fatal error of romanticizing his monsters, and now would pay the price over and over again.

Damon really couldn't be blamed for breaking Katherine. She was already damaged.

Only Elena's tiny arms around him kept him standing up when he realized Katherine wasn't there, had never been there, and had not once bothered to look for him. For the first time in hundreds of years, he truly realized what an idiot he was. Monsters never got a happy-ever-after. Those were reserved for ones who kept their humanity, like the one he could never have. Not anymore.

V.

He worries about the things that will break her. Them. Or more correctly, him.

Elena stands at the kitchen sink, one arm crossed over her chest and the other holding the necklace his brother gave her, eyes staring into the middle distance. A few miles away an ambulance siren wails, and he looks down at the pot of sauce simmering away on the stove. The house is vast in its silence, and here, between the banter and teases, old ghosts hang heavy between them.

It's in his nature to break things, to tear them apart, to strip away the illusions everyone else tells themselves to get through the day. And one day she will break when the realization of what the past year has brought comes crashing down, when she finally realizes more of those she loves are buried six feet under than will be joining them at the table for Christmas, and that most are there because of his hands.

His little brother fixed things, and Damon could only break them apart. It was how it had always been. Stefan dropped his mother's favorite plate and she accepted a humble apology and a hug as repayment, yet Damon told his mother he loved her every day, made her laugh until the sadness left her eyes, picked her favorite flowers, and was rewarded with finding her corpse hanging from the rafters in the barn.

Everything broke under his touch.

Even his little brother, the one who could fix anything.

Elena would be no different. The only question was a matter of when. And how. All he could do was hold on to her for a short while, try to keep her safe until the one who wouldn't break her returned to his senses.

The siren faded into the distance and only silence remained between them. He stirred the damned pasta sauce, thinking of broken toy soldiers, and finding nothing to say as the clock ticked steadily away on the wall.

VI.

He held out Elena's necklace, over and over again, trying to pick up the pieces and put her back together, but he was never any good at that sort of thing. He would at least try, for her. For his brother.

She was there, smelling of hospital astringent, death, and blood, while wrapped up in his blanket. There wasn't enough liquor in the world to make him forget this, how stupid he was, how many things he would never be, how much she loved someone else, and how he had already broken her without really trying. Again.

He waited for her to take it, and the necklace grew so heavy that he didn't think his arm would bear the weight, despite his strength. The clock ticked away on the wall and he couldn't bear the silence.

If Stefan fell into the darkness of his nature, there was no one else to keep Damon from his own, at least, no one who wanted him. His brother had been the only person who knew him before, who understood that he was just a dumb, innocent kid playing at being a monster.

Stefan was the one link to his humanity - the thing he missed most of all but would never admit. The only problem was that when you've spend hundreds of years and millions of bottles of liquor trying to forget who you were, you'll succeed eventually.

For years, he had waited for someone to pick him first. Only it ended up being Stefan, not Katherine or Elena. Now Damon would bear the weight of that choice for the rest of his miserable eternity. Back and forth, Damon and Stefan had always moved like clockwork, like the rising and setting of the heavens. When Stefan went into his darkest places, Damon rose up full and bright, and when he descended into shadows, Stefan emerged like the sun over the trees and lit up the world.

Sole e luna. Luna e sole. The sun and the moon had never able to occupy the same space for long, and now the sun was setting and the shadows were creeping in, and Damon's hand trembled as he held out the locket.

Was the sun rising or setting? He couldn't tell any longer.

Stefan chose him first, and now Damon not only had to be good for her, but for his brother as well. He wasn't sure he liked any of it, and he was damned terrified of breaking everything.

He hated being an older brother. You not only got to carry your own pain, but your brother's as well when you realize he sacrificed everything for you, and all you can think of is finding another drink and hoping he'll forgive you when you break his toys.

V.

There is a grave with new grass and small white flowers beginning to peek out of the overturned dirt, and Damon lays red roses amongst the white.

Broken. Again.

At least Elena couldn't hate him for eternity, which was something. These days, he'd take just about any scrap of hope and pleasantness he could find.

The leaves stirred behind him and he knew who it was without looking. The sun had come to watch the moon descend. At least Stefan would have an entertaining show for a while.

There was no need to say anything, but he hated the silence. He always had. "I'm sorry," Damon whispered, unable to stop himself. "For everything."

Stefan sighed and laid a hand on his shoulder. "Come on, let's go home, brother." Stefan eased him up and together they turned towards the cemetery gates, walking away into the night.

This is what their life would be from now on. Not some canned happy-ever-after dreamed up by a drunk, lonely writer, but an eternity filled with blood, his little brother, memories he could not forget no matter how much alcohol he consumed, silence, and broken toy soldiers.

Sometimes he hated being an older brother. But he wouldn't give it up for the world.