"A Change in the Weather."

Mystic25

Summary: They had been brothers for over a century and a half. They hated it, but sometimes, they didn't. Bits of "Stelena" but "Stamon" centric. (Stefan AND Damon) No Slash.

Rating: T for violence, imagery, and language.

Author's Note: This is my first TVD fic. I've been working on it for a while. It is a complete thing, that I hope you enjoy reading it, as much as I enjoyed writing it.

A/N#2: I apologize in advance if I got any dates or ages mixed up. It was not intentional.


xxxxxXxxxx

"When all is said and done, there's nothing stronger than the bond of family."

~Elena Gilbert "The Vampire Diaries"

"It snowed last year too:
I made a snowman and my brother knocked it down
and I knocked my brother down and then we had tea
."

-Dylan Thomas

xxxxxxxXxxxxx


1848

"Young master," the woman peered over to the five-year-old standing at the opened doorway, gazing into the commotion of a roomful of women. "This is no place for you!"

The woman was a servant, the young male Salvatore's nurse maid, she had been since the day he could remember. She dressed him, she fed him, but that didn't matter to the child right now. Because he wanted inside this room, she didn't order him around.

"Mama?" Damon Salvatore ignored Matilda's reprimand, watching his mother, still in her bedclothes, arching and screaming on the bed, while two other female servants held onto her hands. "What's wrong with mama? I want to see!"

The boy took a step into the room, but Matilda left his mother's side and grabbed his shoulders before he could come closer.

"It is not a place for young men, Master Damon!" Matilda's rough calloused hands grasped Damon's shoulders in his white linen shirt. His overcoat, he had removed hours ago, even though he was told to keep it on because it was starting to frost outside. It was hanging in the branches of his favorite apple tree, his flag for his fort.

His mother screamed, an ungodly scream like an animal was attacking her. The room smelled foul, like blood and something else.

"Matilda!" the chamber maid on Felicia Salvatore's right, called out to her. "The child is coming!"

Matilda cast one last stern look at Damon. "You must wait outside young sir, this is women's work!" She released his shoulders and returning to her position back by the bed where Felicia was screaming louder than ever before.

Damon was a big boy, 5-years-old, nearly six, and he wasn't supposed to be such a baby anymore. But, he had never heard his mother scream like that. She was not as close to him as Matilda, she did not tend to his day to day life like the servant had. She did not dress his wounds, or sing him songs the way the other did. But, she always had a laugh, or a remark about his cleverness or cunning, she took him for walks in their garden, trips into the city. He was fond of her.

And her screaming, made him fear for her safety.

"Mama!"

A hand clamped onto his shoulder.

Damon turned. His father stood there, tall and regal, in his best tailored overcoat, dark blue, his cravat perfectly starched, his boots so shiny Damon could see his face in them. Because that was where he was looking.

"Come Damon, this is not a place for boys," Father's voice was firm, harsh. His father did not ask questions he gave orders.

And Damon had to follow them. "What's wrong with mama?" he got out this demand, anyway, his eyes moving from his father's boots to his dark brown eyes set above a close cut beard that curved all the way around his face.

Giuseppe Salvatore's face was chiseled in sternness. "Nothing is wrong with her Damon," the echoing screams from Felicia seemed to mock that statement, making his small son's eyes widen in fear. "She is fulfilling the duty of a woman," He gripped his son's small shoulder and pulled him backwards without another add on to his remark.

Damon didn't understand this, how could he? The ways of women and men, boys and girls, they were kept separate, all he heard was his mother screaming. "What does that mean, papa? Is mama dying?" Damon was fearful, and too young to not show it in his quavering voice.

His father cuffed the back of his head. "Boys do not cry Damon, your mother is not dying! Enough of this stupidness boy!" He grabbed him forcefully by his arm and dragged him out of the room.

Two hours later, Damon sat on a high oaked back chair in the long white ornate hallway outside his mother's bedchamber. His bottom sore from the lashing his father had given him outside by their orchard. Boys didn't cry he told him with each lick of the switch, and they didn't go around snooping into their mother's rooms either.

His feet swung in the air, his buckled shoes clicking against each other. He watched the closed door anxiously, waiting. The screaming had gone on for entire time he had been sitting there, and the women inside were shouting things, that were so confusing to Damon. What did push mean? What was his mother pushing? Were they moving the furniture about?

The door finally opened. Matilda stood there, wiping her hands free of something red on a torn rag. She spotted Damon, sitting there. Their eyes met, the servant woman, and the little boy. "Bring your papa young master."

"What for?" Damon asked. But, he didn't wait for an answer and pushed past her and into the room, listening to her cries of "No Master Damon!"

The room still smelled terrible, more so than before. There were bowls of water and red rags everywhere.

And there was his mother, lying with her legs apart, trembling. The young chambermaid saw Damon approach the four poster mahogany bed, and quickly set the bed sheet over Felicia's legs.

"Little master!" The woman was younger than Matilda, maybe 16, her wispy blonde hair falling apart from her white bonnet. She tried to grab Damon's arm when he climbed up onto the bed. "You mustn't disturb your mother!"

Damon was the son of a wealthy landowner socialite, and he was not yet six-years-old yet, which meant that he was stubborn on both accounts.

Felicia felt the down feathers shifting on the bed, and observed her son crawling to her. "Damon, you are as stubborn as your father." For some reason the words didn't sting, it was more like an exasperation.

She signed like she was giving up, she was holding to a bundle of rags, or so Damon thought. But then the bundle moved.

Damon clamored over the rest of the way on his hands and knees to peer at the thing moving, thinking it to be maybe a puppy or something. Their hunting dog had died, and he had been begging his father for a new one for weeks.

The thing in the blankets wasn't a puppy. Damon was confused, it was pink, and moving, and stunk like the room stunk.

His mother's voice was exhausted, like she had been running around the yard ordering servants around, or weeding her small garden. "It seems you have a little brother, Damon."

At the word brother, Damon scrunched up his eyes, and looked at the bundle. It moved arms and legs and made a whining sound. His eyes were up to his mother in surprise. "Mama, it's a baby!" He stated this in startled bewilderment. "Where did it come from?"

Felicia laughed, amused the question. "He came from God, Damon," the bundle cooed again. "Papa and I are naming him after your grandfather, Stefan Randolph Salvatore."

The bundle's eyes opened, hazel colored eyes, little eyes, peered up at all the noise. They found Felicia's eyes, which made her smile and touch the newborn's cheek.

Then, they found Damon's.

"Stefan?" Damon said the name in question, a confusion, the baby was watching him, and it seemed to pause at the sound of its name from Damon's mouth.

"Your little brother," Felicia said to her son.

Damon looked at baby. This was what all the screaming was about? A little brother? Why not just tell him? He was nearly six-years-old for heaven's sake; he was big enough to know these things!

Damon watched the baby, who had yet to take his eyes off of him. "It seems you're my little brother Stefan," he didn't admit it out loud, but he liked the name. On his grandfather, the name was so stern and commanding. Grandfather had been in the Royal Navy back in Sicily before the family had emigrated to America. He was always so loud and commanding and drunk when he would come by carriage no less, to the Salvatore Plantation to see them all. He told Damon he had a mantle to uphold and always smelled like sweating Port and cigar smoke whenever Damon had been forced into tails to sit and eat with him. Damon hated him.

But the name used on this wiggling thing of blankets seemed different somehow. The thing was barely an hour old, his little brother. Somehow it was different.

"I'm your older brother," Damon introduced himself politely, like he was taught to do to grownups. "Damon Nathanael Salvatore the Second."

The baby didn't seemed greatly impressed by the name, it just blinked.

That fact upset Damon because, the Salvatore name was widely known among Virginia. Complete strangers would tip their hats to his father and mother when they arrived in town. They called him 'young master' and gave him toffees and sweet lemonade at the grocers.

But then the baby –Stefan, it kept watching him, blinking tiny eyes like it was trying to wipe them away to better see this new world.

Damon touched a tentative hand to the baby's head. It felt cold and a bit sticky, but for some reason, he didn't mind. "Nice to meet you Stefan." it was said so regally, like a little lord or a king, but the small hand on the baby remained, and the eyes watching the smaller ones watching back.

xxxxxXxxxx


1853

"You are such a tag along!" Damon shouted to the ten feet below him as he climbed up the thick branches of the oldest tree in yard out in the front of their home.

Behind him, Stefan, four-years-old, dressed in his trousers, stockings and crisp white shirt, scrambled up after him. Damon was forever leaving him behind in games, and he didn't think it was fair. He hated sitting down in lessons with their father, while Damon managed to sneak out when the man was asleep. So this time, when Damon did it, climbing out of the window of Father's study, while he snoozed over his latest copy of the Mystic Falls Gazette, Stefan followed.

"You never let me play with you Damon!" Stefan complained as he climbed still higher, trying to reach his brother who was nearly at the top of the tree, where the branches became too thin to climb.

The air was a crisp piercing blue; a cool wind blowing past the branches heavy with red ripe apples just waiting for the servants to come and pick them.

Damon shifted in the branches to smirk down at his younger brother, who was still a good foot below him. A ripe apple dropped from a branch by his foot and clattered through branches below him. Another fell, hitting Stefan on the head.

"Ow, Damon!" Stefan grabbed at his head with one hand, which stung from the impact of fallen fruit.

"If you're going to whine Stefan, you can go back inside!" Damon called down, holding to a thin branch above his head with amazing agility, because it should've broken under the boy's weight, but someone it didn't.

"I'll tell papa!" Stefan shouted back glaring up at Damon's face through the thin branches and leaves. It was his oldest line of defense, even though he knew that they had both snuck out. And tattling to their father about how it was Damon's idea, wouldn't make the switch to his bottom hurt any less.

"You do and I'll tell Matilda about the chocolates you stole from the pantry!" Damon retorted.

Stefan's eyes flashed hurt, in all the way a four-year-old could to his older brother. "You promised you'd keep it secret!"

"Only if you keep your mouth closed little brother!" Damon was nine-years-old now, he tried to talk like an adult, but coming from a high voice, it still sounded like a child talking. But he did it anyway.

There was a shifting movement as Stefan clamored up the tree to try and reach his brother's leg so he could hit it for his remark. But, he climbed too fast, and the branches were too heavy with apples already in one spot to take such a flourish of movement.

The branch Stefan was holding to broke in half. And, the boy could only give an 'oh!' of surprise before he was sent sprawling through the brambles of the tree to the ground.

The thud was heavy, and cracking when he landed.

"Stefan!" Damon climbed down the tree so fast that he lost a shoe along the way. He jumped, one shoe on, the other, still in the tree, to the ground.

"Stefan?" He found his brother on his side, his blue trouser leg torn. Stefan crumpling that leg up to his stomach. Something was poking out of it.

Damon knelt next to him, afraid to touch him, seeing blood coming out of a place on his shoulder from where a branch had torn it.

Stefan's lips were set in a grimace, but then his eyes flew open when he heard his name from Damon's mouth. "Please don't tell papa! He'll be so mad!" His leg was pounding with a horrible pain, and his head hurt.

Damon didn't know what to do. If he didn't tell their father, then Stefan would be lying here forever under the tree, because he couldn't carry him back to the house. If he told, they would both get the lashing of a lifetime.

Stefan moaned a pitiful sound. "Damon, " his voice was heavy with tears. "My leg hurts." They started to break down his face.

Damon still didn't know what to do, but Stefan wasn't helping, and he was starting to cry. A big boy, almost five-years-old, when Papa had said that 'crying had to stop' So Damon knew his leg had to hurt.

Damon and Stefan looked at each other, Damon calculating something. When his four-year-old brother finally gave in fully to his crying, not caring any more that he was a boy, and this wasn't supposed to happen, Damon finally added up all his figuring.

"I'll get Matilda," Damon ran back to the house, grabbing the hand of the maid who protested with shouts of 'What is this about Master Damon?' until the woman saw the sight of the youngest Salvatore brother huddled beneath the apple tree.

"Sweet Jesus! Sweet Jesus!" Matilda flopped herself and her skirts around where Stefan was lying, a mess of torn clothes and snot and blood, his tibia broken out of his pants, sticking out of him like a bloody thorn. Matilda rested her hand on Stefan's head, who was still curled around his injured leg.

"What have you boys been doing!" Matilda examined the break with the eyes of a woman who had treated many a scrape and bruise and sickness from these two boys under her care. But, even with all that, the look in her eyes wasn't good. She hissed and clucked around the fallen boy. "This leg has more than one break!" She whirled her head up to Damon, who was at her side, staring in wide eyed fear at the growing stain of blood on his brother's leg. "Master Damon, fetch your papa, tell him to send for Doc Cranston, I can't mend a break this bad!"

"No please!" Stefan's voice was a mixture of agony and four-year-old pleading. "Matilda, don't tell papa! He'll lash me good!"

"I'm going to lash you both good for not staying out of those trees!" Matilda snapped back. Damon still hadn't moved. "Master Damon, you mind me, and got get your papa to fetch the doctor!"

There was so much blood, and Stefan was so pale and trembling, all Damon could think was Stefan's dead. He barely had a little brother for four years, and he had already killed him. It was not a good feeling.

He ran.

Papa was called out from Sunday lunch, there was a scream from Mama, an irreplaceable china cup was shattered. Tom the stable boy, was dispatched on their cart horse to the Doctor's residence. He came in a haze of a black surrey and clopping hooves to the portico. Stefan was hurried into the house by servants. Damon was herded into the newly tilled field by his father. This time the lashes made him bleed. But, he stood still for all of it.

Damon peeked inside the doorway to his brother's nursery. He saw Stefan, he looked asleep on the bed. A black suited figure hovered over the boy, and then it moved to him, the sound of a medical bag closing snapped in his ears.

Doctor Cranston was in his 60's, with graying black mutton chops hanging into a neatly trimmed beard. His three piece suit was pristine, even with the jacket slung over his arm, and the sleeves of his tailored shirt rolled up to his elbows.

"You made quite a mess of things didn't you boy?" Doctor Cranston had a deep drawing sound to his words, he was from somewhere deep in Mississippi originally, and it still was evident in the accent. "But, don't worry, I managed to patch your brother up. Broken leg is all."

Damon peered past the doctor hearing a rustle of skirts inside the nursery, and a moment later Mama had taken the doctor's place beside Stefan's bed. He didn't admit it to the tall, looming Doctor that smelled like Jamison, that his words made his hammering heart slow down. His brother had been fixed.

"You boys best stay out of those trees ya hear?" Doctor Cranston's voice was authoritative, and what he spoke of wasn't a request.

"Yes Sir," Damon responded in his most respectful voice, trying to make himself smaller so the man wouldn't strike him in the face or anything.

But, Doc Cranston made no move towards the boy, striking, or otherwise. He simply took his hat from Matilda when she held it out to him, and walked past both boy, and woman as if neither existed anymore, heading down the white washed wooden staircase.

Matilda placed her arms around the back of Damon's shoulders once Doctor Cranston was safely at the bottom level of the house. She hated that man, he had a bad temper and smelled like an ale house. But, he was the best doctor within 20 miles; and would be utilized. But, only when Matilda had exhausted all her resources and was forced to call him. She wouldn't let him touch her boys otherwise.

"Come on Master Damon," Matilda's sure, calloused hands patted Damon on the back like a mother. And in a way she was. She had seen both Damon and Stefan through more sickness and injuries, had listened to their stories, their fears, their jokes, more so than the woman who bore them both. "Let's go check on that brother of yours."

Damon found himself being led into Stefan's nursery, with its cream white painted walls, and rocking Hobby Horse in the corner, with the chipped red wooden mane where Damon had pushed Stefan too hard when they were playing 'Knights of Camelot.'

The bed was a huge feather down thing, with white sheets and pillows. Seated at the left side of it was his mama, in a robin's egg blue silk gown. The fabric was expensive, but the design was plain, a simple neck, a white laced collar, with jet black buttons all down the front. A cameo hug from a black ribbon around her neck.

Her skirts rustled as she turned, her eyes spotting her oldest son, being led in by Matilda. "What in heaven's name, were you doing in the apple tree Damon?"

Damon's eyes searched for his brother. His was closed, like he was asleep, he wasn't going to get any help there. He lifted his eyes back to his mother."We were just playing mama."

"Playing?" Felicia Salvatore's voice became shrill. She stood up from the bed and approached him, her skirts swishing ominously with her movements; her dark brown ringlets bounced about under the white laced bonnet pinned to her hair. Hazel blue eyes started at him sternly, upsettingly. "Stefan could've been killed, Damon! Do you understand that!"

Damon's eyes widened. He found himself unable to make a sound. He didn't want to kill Stefan, he didn't. Stefan was a tattle tale, and whiney, and too short. But, he was his little brother, he was!

"It was an accident Mistress," Matilda said in Damon's defense to his mother. "The boys were just roughhousing," She couldn't show affection to him like she had done out in the hall; not in front of his mother – her "place" had to be kept. But, her hand around the boy's tightened.

Felicia huffed an indignant, angry sigh, tuning one half of a turn to her youngest son sleeping, his broken leg propped up on a feather pillow, casted in old bedsheets; then back around to her oldest son. She wore a look on her face, like she loved them, but, she was too tired to be bothered with either of them at the moment.

"Damon hasn't had lunch yet Matilda," Felicia turned her eyes up to the servant, her voice the clipped way it was when she talked to the house staff, even concerning matters about her own children. "Feed him, then send him to his room. Then sit with Stefan until he wakes up."

"Yes ma'am," Matilda took this order as she took every order, without question. But, she could barely swallow the coldness in it. Here was these boys mother, and she showed as much concern to them as she would to the barn cats kept to kill the mice outside.

"Can't I stay with Stefan?" Damon asked, letting go of Matilda's hand to take a step towards his mother, grasping hers, feeling the metal of a turquoise ring sitting on one of her fingers.

"What did I say Damon?" his mother returned, acting like she wasn't feeling the tugging hand on hers. "You've done enough for Stefan for one afternoon."

"But Mama-"

"You mind me boy, you understand?"

When Matilda had said those words out in the orchard when Stefan fell, they were harsh, but harsh because she was concerned. But, his mama shouting these words to him now – they were angry.

Damon felt the words sting like a slap in the face. He felt tears threaten, but he blinked to keep them from falling. He was too big of a boy to cry in front of her anymore, it would only make her angrier. "Yes ma'am, mama."

He let go of her hand, and she pushed past him and left the nursery.

Matilda watched the woman go, feeling a rising heat in her face that she couldn't release, because she didn't run things in this house. She turned back to face the boy. "Come on little master, you heard your mother."

Damon looked at Stefan, who had yet to move on the bed, and he suddenly became terrified. "Matilda, is he dead?"

"What nonsense are you babbling about boy?" Matilda returned. "Course he's not dead!" she placed a hand to his shoulders. "Come on now child, that boy needs to rest."

Damon watched Stefan, still asleep, still not talking to him, hearing that sickening sound of him falling, over and over again as Matilda led him out of the nursery.

Later at night, when Damon had changed into his long white night shirt, and was under the thick down quilt inside his own room, he found himself unable to sleep, mind a whirr of thoughts complete with harsh sounds of branches breaking and little brothers crying. Damon threw back that cover and dropped his feet to the wooden floor. The floorboards were cold, and he stepped on one of his wooden jacks, making him say a word he heard father say one night when he was very, very drunk. That night was why they only had five port glasses instead of six, and why Matilda had a long jagged scar across her left palm.

Matilda had extinguished the lamp beside Damon's bed hours ago, and had pocketed the matches in her apron to keep Damon from searching for them. But, Damon had been playing 'Robinson Cruiso' the day before, and had tried to start a camping fire in the stone faced fireplace at the other end of room, so he had three loose matches inside his nightstand drawer because of this.

He pulled one of these out and struck it against the roughness of a worn plank in his bedroom wall. The match fizzled, and he lit the lamp, turning the knob to make the oil burn hotter.

He carried his little light out of his room and into the long white hallway. The mahogany grandfather clock in the hallway ticked quietly reading five past three in the morning. Late enough for even the maids and servants to have gone to sleep.

He crept past his parent's bedroom, the door next to his. It was shut, but there was a steady 'thunking' sound coming from it. Damon was too young to know what that noise really meant, but he had heard similar noises on previous nights, and the next morning mama would be bleary eyed, and walking slower, and there would be hushed talk from her and papa for days about months and blood, and 'not this time Giuseppe' and 'What is wrong with you Felicia? Three nights we've done this!'

Damon shuddered, and left those ghosts alone and continued creeping. The door to Stefan's nursery was partway open and he pushed it open the rest of the way, saying another bad word when the old wood made a creaking noise.

The nursery was dark, and shadows jumped at him from wherever he cast his small lamp. He quickly had to cover the light when he spotted Matilda lying on a bundled pallet of the spare quilts that were normally kept in the chest at the foot of Stefan's bed.

Matilda was a small, petite woman, but she snored with the best of them, her hands drawn up under her head like their barnyard cat.

Damon crept around the sleeping woman and set the lamp down on Stefan's bedside table, turning down the oil so the light was dimmed, and hopefully, wouldn't wake Matilda.

"Stefan? Stefan-" Damon both whispered and poked his brother in equal measure. There was a heavy sound of rolling over, and Stefan's dark eyes were visible in the partially glowing light of the lamp.

"Damon?" the boy rubbed one eye sleepily, his voice heavy, and too loud.

"Shh!" Damon hissed in a whisper. "You're going to wake up Matilda!"

Stefan rubbed his other eye with a balled up fist. "Damon, what are you doing?"

"I came to see the gimp," Damon said, he reached out a finger to poke at the sheets on Stefan's broken leg made stiff with a flour and plaster mixture.

Stefan squirmed at the touch. "Damon, stop!"

"Don't act like a little girl Stefan," Damon returned. He eyed the cast for the bulky thing that it was. "Does it hurt a lot?"

Stefan nodded. "It feels heavy," he tried to raise the leg up off the pillows it was under, but all he got was a grimace for his efforts. "Now I can't climb trees no more!" His voice was defeated, even whispered.

"Sure you will," Damon said this without any hesitation, almost a little cockily. "Matilda told me bones grow faster'en weeds. You'll be a bushy squirrel again in no time, little brother."

There was a pause, where Stefan absorbed what Damon said, and Damon sat on something, something he didn't want to say. But, then the silence lost, and he spoke: "Sorry I made you fall from the tree. It sounded like it hurt."

Stefan nodded in pained agreement. "Felt like my leg was gonna rip off, my arms too!"

"Shh!" Damon hissed again, finger to his lips, gesturing with his head towards Matilda, who gave one snorted snore and rolled over onto her back.

Both brothers stifled laughs up into their mouths, Stefan stopping first, eyes on his brother. "Damon, c-can you stay?" His voice stuttered in only the way a 4-year-old could when addressing an older brother nine-years-old. "Matilda snores are scary."

Damon smirked at this. "You're such a baby Stefan."

"No I'm not!" Stefan hissed passionately. "I'm almost five, it's just loud!"

Damon stared at the exasperation that was his younger brother, big saucer dark eyes on him, stiff white leg on pillows, expression stubborn as the mule in their barn.

"Fine," Damon climbed up and over the massive bed and around to the other side. His nightshirt bunched up around his knees as he moved. He shoved it back down and scooted underneath the comforters. "Is this better baby?"

Damon 'oomphed' when Stefan's 4-year-old fist knocked him in the gut. "Told you I'm not a baby!"

Damon held up a hand in surrender. "Okay, okay, Jesus Stefan!"

"Don't swear on the Lord Damon!" Stefan snapped in a whisper and rolled over so that he was pulled up against his older brother, one arm flung across Damon's night shirt clad chest.

Damon was a big nine-year-old boy, but his little brother was little enough, not even five, to get away with such things. He casually flung an arm behind Stefan's back, listening to the breathing of them both. "Night Stefan."

"Night Damon."

xxxxXxxxx


1865

"You play too roughly with the women, Damon." Stefan said, perched on the edge of Damon's bed, his lightweight cotton shirt rolled up past the elbows on the sleeves, a roll of bandages from Matilda in his hands.

Propped up against it, on pillows Damon eyed him in amusement, his black hair a mess of stuck leaves, and sticking out in various directions. "Ah, but there is no other way to play with women, little brother." His embroidered silk vest is still buttoned pristinely, but his cravat is hanging loosely around his neck, and his trouser leg is rolled up to the calf. "I merely wear a battle wound from my conquests."

From his position at the end of the bed Damon lifts his brother's naked foot, complete with darkening purple bruising all along its length, hearing a snapping hiss illicit from said brother at his actions. "It's a fine wound, brother." Stefan says, a bit of a joke in his voice as he starts to wrap it with the length of cloth bandage. "Let's hope the conquest proves in your favor."

"Conquests with women always prove in my favor, Stefan." Damon volleys back, hissing louder at the movement of Stefan's hands on his foot. "Are you trying to ruin my ability to walk brother?"

"The foot must be bound, Damon," Stefan says, continuing to wrap the sprained ankle his brother got only an hour before. "As for your ability to walk, brother, it was you who tripped over your own feet in the first place, chasing after her."

"If you saw what I saw when her skirts were raised Stefan, you wouldn't talk so lightly about this." Damon wagged his eyebrows, arms going up behind his head.

"You are a heathen Damon," Stefan jokes, looping his bandage around his brother's foot the way Matilda had taught him. "What would Father say of you talking about his house guest like that?"

"Drag him out of the taverns Stefan, and I'll ask him." Damon throws back with a hard edge at the end of this remark.

There was a beat of silence between Stefan and Damon; now 17 and 22 respectively. Felicia, their mother, had died seven years ago birthing a still born that would have been their younger brother. Before that she had miscarried a baby that would have been a sister – Rose Ann. Secretly, their mother had wanted a girl, a little lady to pamper and dress. But her miscarriage had ended her dreams, and so had her husband, who demanded to try again, not 5 weeks after the incident, wanting another son to add to his line.

The pregnancy had left Felicia sickly, and bed bound, and 28 weeks into it, she pushed out a dead baby boy, before sub coming to a massive hemorrhage. Doctor Crantson had been drunk in the next town over, and Matilda tried in vain to stop the bleeding, but Felica's blood decorated all the white linens before the doctor could drag himself away from his spirits.

Giuseppe Salvatore fell into a despair. His marriage to his wife had been arranged, a business deal. But he had a decent amount of attraction for her. With her passing, he fell heavily into drinking. So much so, that the widower was never approached for offers of wife and mother to his household by any of the women of Mystic Falls.

Matilda fully took on the role of female nurturer, keeping the boys away from their father as much as possible, because he was a mean spirited drunk. They grew up more with the servants than with their own father.

But when Stefan turned 13, Giuseppe demanded that he and Damon become their role as 'Salvatore Men' So they sat in on his business meetings, and went to this ball, or that cigar and port meeting among the landowners.

Thus Stefan and Damon Salvatore became introduced into society, as the sole heirs of the wealthy landowner, and Giuseppe Salvatore was able to redeem himself amongst Virginia Society. Though he still drank ale like water, and became a joke among the other members of his class because of it; when his sons became obviously prized among the socialite circles for their handsomeness and large cash value, he became a powerful man again. Especially when a new threat of evil demons lurking in the woods came to his attention.

Stefan let the remark of their father hang into the air. "She is beautiful, brother." He finished wrapping the foot and set it down onto a pillow.

"Why Mr. Salvatore, you make me blush."

Both Stefan and Damon turn to the sound behind them. Standing in the doorway is a vision. Wrapped in a white and lavender silk stripped dress; the neckline low over full breasts, a low hung ribbon necklace with a cameo pendant deep in the curve of them. A black hat with trailing ribbons is pinned up jauntily in a lose mass of dark chocolate curls. Dark brown eyes, full lips. The daughters of Aphrodite should only have been so lucky.

Katherine Pierce walks through the doorway, one hand, in a delicate meshed glove, gathering up her full flounced skirt. Their father's House Guest. A few paces behind her is Emily, Katherine's lady maid, acting her part as chaperone. Because, it was not decent for a woman of Katherine's standing to enter the bedchambers of a man unescorted.

Actually, it was not decent for a woman to enter a man's bedchambers at all, who wasn't her husband. But Katherine was a bold type of woman, and did as she pleased.

Katherine's skirts swished as Damon remembers his mother's doing when she walked. But, to be fair, Damon never had thoughts of his mother the way he was having them now about Katherine as she glided to him in her silk and finery.

"I trust, Mr. Damon, that I have not hurt you too badly," Katherine is practically cooing with her words as she takes in Damon's bound foot with roaming eyes.

She is a beautiful woman, darkly beautiful. The kind that make other women tug on their husbands arms with a 'Let's GO Mr. Johnson, we're late.' when they see her approach. The kind that made these same women whisper to each other behind their gloved hands about seeing Katherine being escorted on the arm of their father in the town. To Damon, she was intoxicating.

"What, this?" Damon says of his foot, like he hadn't just been hissing and spitting all the while Stefan had been binding it. "It's nothing compared to what I got in the War." Damon had been one week home from the battlefield of the North and South. A hero amongst his fellow Virginians. A fact he milked to get what he wanted, especially out of women. "And my brother had done an adequate job of wrapping it for me. It may even not fall to gangrene."

Stefan recognizes the teasing of his older brother. He also recognizes Damon's need to puff himself out with Katherine. Even though he thinks Damon is stupidly over doing it, he will let his older brother have his play.

Because, Katherine Pierce may be their father's house guest, but it was not really where she found her amusement.

Stefan turns to face Katherine. "Matilda taught us first aid when we were young Ms. Katherine, since we were motherless and really had no one else to do it for us when she wasn't around."

Normally, it fell upon the woman of the family, a mother, or a sister, or a wife, to tend to the minor wounds of the household. Lacking any of these, the Salvatore brothers had taken to patching up themselves. Matilda could no longer do it once Stefan and Damon reached manhood age, it was considered 'unseemly,' especially since she was a colored servant.

So, earlier out in their front yard, when Damon was prepping to toss the leather ball to Katherine, and tripped backwards into a hole dug by their hunting dog, and sprained his ankle, it was Stefan who ran over to bring him back into the house, turning down Katherine's offer to help in the matter. Because, she was not a woman related to Damon, and such acts were completely taboo in public.

Katherine cocked her head to Stefan in a sympathetic way. "And that is why, Mr. Salvatore, you are such a caring and devoted brother." She laid a gloved hand on Stefan's bare arm, letting it linger far longer than was necessary, the scent of rose water and lemon verbena coming off her heavily.

Katherine's touch burned Stefan's arm like fire. She was so beautiful it almost seemed an impossibility. But he swallowed down his desires, because he could see Damon watching them from his perch on the bed.

Stefan knew his brother favored the stunning Ms. Pierce. And though she had already offered herself to him, and though he had become weak and accepted two nights ago – he couldn't let his brother lose face in front of her. Because, Damon cared for her too.

It was a twisted sort of deal. But if it were to be boiled down into its core element, it would be thus:

Stefan cared for his brother's happiness above all others. And if it meant that they shared the same woman because of it, so be it.

"I thank you for your kind words Ms. Katherine," Stefan said politely, sensing Emily in the background, just waiting for a whiff of impropriety to tell Katherine's family about. "And for coming to check on Damon. But, my brother needs to rest now."

It was a dismissal. And even, vivacious, society rule breaking Katherine Pierce knew it was one that she couldn't wave off.

"Very well," Katherine says, but not before tracing her hand languidly up Stefan's arm and across his chest briefly before resting it again on her skirts. She gave a small delicate bow to Stefan. "Good day Gentlemen," She flicked her eyes over to Damon as well when she said this. "I pray you recover quickly Damon. I did so love the game we were playing." Her words were as slow and thick as molasses, and her eyes went almost black.

"As did I Ms. Pierce," Damon returned, in a voice as every bit as low as hers. "As did I."

She left the two young men with a swish of skirts and perfume, leaving Emily to follow behind her.

Damon raised himself up on his elbows and watched the retreating form of Katherine Pierce sweep its way down the circular staircase. "That, brother, is not a woman, but a lynx is a stripped dress." He said this like he was drinking a delicious wine and licking his lips from the aftertaste. "Did I ever tell you how much I love cats?"

"What you do to women is your affair Damon. But I would rather you keep it in your own thoughts." Stefan said, moving off the edge of the bed.

Damon watched him move around to the other side. And, Damon thought nothing of it when Stefan climbed in beside him, sitting up against the quilts and headboard, because they had done this type of things for years.

Damon rested both hands behind his head again, shooting Stefan his famous look of bothersome older brother. "Now what fun would that be, dear little brother? Or are you still so naive about such things?"

Stefan didn't take the bait. "How's your foot?"

Damon cast eyes down to his bound appendage. "I'll survive amputation." He turned his head towards his brother, staring at Stefan. "You favor Ms. Pierce don't you?"

Stefan felt the piercing gaze of his older brother, tearing through all his coverings, asking him things that should be left alone. "What are you saying Damon?"

"Don't feed me that line, little brother," Damon comes back. "I've seen the way her eyes roam over you, and yours hers. I am not a slow wit Stefan, I know what goes on."

Stefan swallowed, remembering Katherine's hands on his chest, down his back, down lower, his on her full breasts, unlacing her corset strings. He smells her, he tastes her, it was an odd coppery flavor, that taste, but it was exhilarating.

"Is it so bad that I want you both?" Katherine pants in between gasps.

"She is beautiful Damon," Stefan repeats, and it is all he offers. Not wanting to say the other things out loud. Not wanting to hurt his brother with the news that he has taken the same woman.

Damon senses there is something more to Stefan's remark. He looks at his brother, who had become a man under his and Matilda's eyes. But his hair is still long, flopping into his eyes. He knows this boy, who masquerades as a man because society had dictated so; he knows that the something more is big.

But he will leave it for now. "Yes she is, little brother." Damon will let it be he and Stefan for now.

There is another rustle of skirts, and this time when the brothers look up, it is to Matilda standing in the doorway. Time has lined her face and made her a bit stout, and rheumatic, but the same look from their youth is there, the commanding mothering look that was as much a part of her face as her nose or her mouth.

"Mr. Stefan, your father is back from –business, and he wants you down in his study. He says he has something important to tell you." Her hair is graying around the edges of her bun, but her voice doesn't show the age. "I suggest you let your brother rest now."

Stefan feels her boring look on him, and he climbs up off the bed like he had done in his youth and she had a switch, and was palming it before him in a threat.

"Father has only been home for five minutes Stefan and you're already on his bad side?" Damon's voice is amused. "Who, I mean what have you gotten yourself into?"

Stefan goes around to Damon's side of the bed. "Such news is too shocking for your delicate state at the moment brother." Stefan half winks at Damon, who cuts him an annoyed look.

"You are a complete, useless, imbecile with no sense of humor." Damon snaps back, from where he is forced to lie with his bad ankle and stare up at his brother.

Stefan only returns such insults with a smirk. "Rest Damon," He grips Damon's head in his hands and presses a kiss to the top of it. "You will need all your strength for when Ms. Pierce comes calling again."

He leaves Damon to scowl at him and follows Matilda out of the room, and down the stairs.

xxxxXxxxx


1923

Chicago seems to pulsate at night. A light sprinkling of snow falls on the roads, and the strewn still forms of women, seemingly asleep in their cars.

Damon Salvatore approaches one of them, a Ford Model T, burgundy, with the back glass windows rolled down, its female passenger still in the back.

She's a petite blonde thing in a gold lamiae flapper dress. A band of feathers in her close cropped hair, and a spray of arterial blood on her neck.

Damon opens the door, and catches the limp thing before she can fall out of the car. He props her up against the seat, and fingers the drying blood on her bare skin.

It clashes hideously with the string of pearls set there, Damon notes. And because he's hungry, and not about to turn down a free meal, he finishes what's left of her, gulping her down, tasting the Champaign in her blood that she had earlier. When she's dry and deflated, he wipes his mouth, careful not to ruin his pinstripe suit, because the salesgirl who sold it to him at that Brooks Brothers downtown tasted too good to hurt her feelings by getting it all dirty with his dinner.

He pulled out a white linen handkerchief from his breast pocket and wipes his mouth with the manners that have been ingrained on him since the previous century. He wipes off the girl too, erasing all the blood from her body, before turning her lolling head so that her bite mark is concealed.

"Thanks doll," he pats her cheek and closes the door, the snow flurrying in through the window and around her still warm body.

The Speak Easy throbs a throaty jazz beat through the bricks, and Damon starts down the iron steps towards it, anxious to see Gloria, it's proprietor. The dame was the best looking witch he had seen since Emily, and she showed a lot more leg.

Damon's foot is on the first iron step, that was supposed to be the basement of the clothing store above it. But, in reality, well, drinks and dames and, and jazz, made that façade a bit of a lie.

There's the sound of gunfire, blaring out on the road, it pings of streetlamps and mailboxes, and one of them brushes against Damon's arm. He is thrown from a stinging impact, and plucks something that is stained with his blood out from the ground behind him.

It was a wooden bullet. Damnit. Guess Gloria was out. Damon staunches the blood flow with his hand and stands back up, ducking behind a wall when he hears people tearing out of the Speak Easy. All humans, he could smell them. But, this wasn't just some Prohibition Raid, not with wooden bullets.

Two more come out, a sexy blonde in beaded silver and a guy in tails who smelled wrong, not human, defiantly Vampire. But the cops and the humans scattering shielded them from view as they ducked behind some alleyway. No way Damon was going to chase some random Vampires to see what was going on. He hadn't survived this long by being stupid. They could fend for themselves, or they could get staked by the cop vampire hunters, it mattered little to Damon.

He waited, watching the cops come back out, with a few struggling, obviously drunk guys in handcuffs, a cover for what they were really doing. A middle aged blonde man with his hair slicked so far back it was like his skull was that color, came out next. He said something to his partner on the left, then settled his gray Fedora on his head, and pushed a handcuffed man towards his car.

Five minutes went by. It was eerily quiet after all that commotion. The place finally looked deserted. Damon was about to turn and leave, when a last figure came out into the falling snow, pocketing something shining into his pants pocket.

He walked casually down the steps, looking around, in tails, and white gloves, same stupid hair flopping down in front of his face.

"Six decades have come and gone, and you're still on with that haircut," Damon steps out of the alleyway shadows with this, seeing Stefan turn to him.

There is a flash of shock on Stefan's face at seeing Damon standing there, but then it's blinked away, and an amusing smile takes its place. "Brother," Stefan's face is lazy, and drunk with all the Champaign and women he had to drink earlier. "What brings you to Chicago?"

"Thought I'd see the sights," Damon throws back, taking a step closer to Stefan, seeing his dark hazel eyes shadowed in the half light of the streetlamp.

Stefan laughs, amused. "You were never a good liar Damon," he places his gloved hands in his jacket pockets and approaches his older brother, stepping around the steaming liquids that line the alleyway ground.

"If you've come to check on me then at least admit it," Stefan's whisper tickles Damon's ear, and when the younger pulls back, the older smirks.

"You flatter yourself Stefan," Damon returns, he glances over his shoulder to the string of cars, to the woman he had just drunk. "Thanks for the appetizers by the way."

Stefan looks over Damon's shoulder, and his eyes grow hard and cold. "I wasn't finished with that."

"You shouldn't leave bits of dinner on the plate Stefan," Damon throws back. "I'm the one who taught you that." Damon's smirk is full on, and Stefan is getting more and more enraged. "If it makes you feel any better, she was delicious. A 20 year old Flapper, truly divine."

Damon's back is into the bricks of the building across the alleyway, Stefan's hands are on his throat.

"Keep your filthy mitts off my dinner, Damon!" The skin on Stefan's face is pulled back, blackness drawing its way up his veins to his darkened pupils, which have now narrowed to slits. His fangs are bared.

Damon torques the hand off his throat and reverses their positions, Stefan's back hitting the wall as hard as his did. "Manners, little brother. What would Matilda say if she hadn't died 80 years ago and were here to see you?"

Stefan throws Damon off of him with a growl and Damon skids back a few feet before managing to stop himself. Damon was older, but Stefan had been on a bender, which made him, at the moment, stronger.

"Why are you here Damon?" Stefan repeats his question from before, with different words.

"I told you," Damon steps closer to his brother, and into a bit of snow that has collected on the ground. It crunches under his black wing tipped shoes. "I came to see the sights." He is staring right at his brother when he says this.

Stefan's hazel eyes betray confusion for the slightest second, before a drunken smirk replaces them. "You are archaic, Damon." He shows all his teeth, including his fangs. "A Vampire who spends all his time hunting down his brother rather than feeding. It's really kind of sad."

"You're one to talk," Damon returns. "I hear you've made quite a reputation for yourself." An eyebrow raises. "Over compensating for my archaic habits are we?"

Stefan laughs at this, his head comes down to his chest, than back up, that flopping piece of hair goes out of place. "I'm only doing what comes natural, Damon. Is there anything so wrong with instinct?" He looks back over to the cars of "sleeping women" "Since you've already got your fingers in my food, you might as well help me finish."

Damon eyes all the unconscious women he sees inside their cars. Dozens of them, still there because the dates of said women had fled on foot and left them there to the elements.

"Tempting at that sounds, I've already eaten." Damon throws this out as he locks eyes on his brother.

There is a slap to the side of Stefan's neck, and a kiss to the part of his head that Damon can reach before Stefan can react. "Enjoy your meal little brother."

Damon is gone into the fog before Stefan can process the moment entirely.

xxxxXxxxx


1969

"Woodstock" was in full swing. On stage Jimmy Hendrix does things with a guitar that only drinking human blood used to do to Stefan's senses. Crowds of bodies are all around, sweating and dancing and barefoot, all dressed in things made of hemp, or tyedyed.

"This is supposed to be music?" the blonde beside him smirks this out, face scrunched up. "It sounds like those stupid Waltzes back home."

Stefan turns to Lexi. She is a good three inches shorter than him, in a hot pink flower patterned go go dress, love beads strung around her neck, red bandana in her hair, white boots completing her outfit.

"Half the people here are stoned, Lexi," Stefan says. "It's more about the experience of it than the actual sound." He has let a beard grow out on his chin, and a mustache that almost connects it. He's dressed in stripped ripped jeans, sandals and pinstripe shirt under a brown fringe vest. Matilda would die again ashamed if she saw him, but 1969 had different rules that post Civil War Virginia.

A woman bumps into Stefan with an 'omph' that sounds a little too loose, along with as her flopping limbs. She turns bright yellow tinted sunglass eyes to him. "Hey, sorry man," She laughs like she's high, or drunk, perhaps both, and she couldn't care less about either. "Hey, you got anything I can shoot up?"

"You wouldn't want what he can give you babe, trust me," Lexi answers.

But apparently, it's the wrong one, because the woman looks pissed, underneath all the blasted parts of her mind. "I wasn't asking you, I was asking him." She spits when she says this, and some of it winds up in Lexi's face.

Lexi growls low in her throat, it's a look Stefan knows, one that says she wants so badly to rip some hippie throat out and leave it steaming on the mud while Hendrix riffed out his third set on his base.

Stefan takes a hold of Lexi's arm, steadying her, heading off an attack. "Sorry," Stefan says to the girl. "I don't have anything."

"Not even a dubie?" the girl exclaimed this the same way she would've exclaimed at the fact that Stefan had nothing beneath his pants but air.

"Not my thing," Stefan says with a casual shrug of his shoulders.

The girl is shaking her head at him like he's all kinds of freaky crazy. "Man, you're stupid!" she waves Stefan off and stumbles away into the crowd, snatches of: 'Hey, anyone got something I can toke?' wafting behind her like a breeze.

A fingered wave raises itself above the throng of writing and dancing bodies, as a new band plays a very guitar riffed song, All Along the Waterfront. It enhances wonderfully the sense of euphoria of those taking hits from bongs and acid.

The girl makes her way over to that raised hand, blinking for a moment to gauge the man behind it. She does not know him, but he holds up a dubie, already lit, and she doesn't let the fact that they're complete strangers stop her from taking it from him.

"Thanks buddy," She takes a long dragging hit from the marijuana, letting it fill her up, as her eyes flicker over the stranger.

He's tall and dark wearing bellbottom jeans and a black button up silk shirt that looks expensive. But, the red psychedelically patterned ascot around his neck, and the way it hangs over the bare flesh of his chest that the low done up buttons of the shirt reveal – it all just makes him look hot.

"How about I do something for you in return?" She starts kissing veraciously on the skin of his neck, and she starts to pant in enhanced stoned-induced pleasure as he responds in kind. There's a sharp pain in her neck that makes her gasp, but she finds herself unable to move from it.

"Shh," the stranger coos with fingers sliding down the flesh of her neck, stopping at where his teeth were kneading their way into her carotid. "Just giving you your best hickey ever, baby."

It feels like biting, but she finds herself unable to move, and is trying to force out a scream, but nothing. She tries to struggle, but his hands are grasping her wrists, and they're strong.

Her scream is born a mew over the sounds of drums and amplified bases. A whoosh of air rushes past her and the pressure on her neck is released and she stumbles backwards. The blonde she saw before grasps her arms.

"Go on Rainbow, show's over."

The blonde woman has intense dark eyes, and she's staring right at her. Her neck still stings, but she's forgetting why, was someone sucking on it? She couldn't remember. Damn, how stoned was she? She grabs at her head and wanders into the crowd in a daze.

Stefan has Damon pinned underneath him, grabbing fistfuls of his expensive shirt. His eyes are dark, but Damon's is only amused.

"Hello brother;" he smiles broadly, making his blue eyes dance. "Welcome to the Summer of Love."

"Are you insane?" Stefan is still on top of his brother, for the time being. Years of drinking an all animal blood diet has made him weaker than Damon. He knows this, Damon knows this. Which means that Damon was letting him have the upper hand, and there had to be a reason for it. "You know how many people there are around?"

"Stoned people, Stefan, they can barely remember their own genders, let alone me having a little fun." Damon waggles his eyebrows in that way that had always annoyed Stefan when they were kids, and enraged him now, because of what Damon had just been doing.

"You need to leave, Damon." Stefan says, quick and shut down of any emotion except insistence. And that would hardly be considered an emotion at all.

The amusement on Damon's face rises. "Now, why would I do that?"

"You heard what he said," Lexi is standing above Damon and Stefan, her long blonde hair falling in her face.

Damon cocks his head to her. She looked a lot different now than in petticoats and hoop skirts, more skin revealed. His eyes darkened at the statement, the pit bull growl, the warning to back off.

Damon glares at her. He finds a thin discarded stick of wood left from some teenage drunken hippie fire on the ground. He grabs it from the grass and drives it into Stefan's chest.

Stefan rears back in a choked gasp, falling off of Damon and curling onto the grass, his face a mixture of pain and stunned amazement.

Lexi is on Damon like a whirlwind, she has a sharpened stake wrapped inside her boot, and she draws it like a sword, pinning Damon to and old telephone post devoid of any wires, now with only a poster announcing Woodstock.

The stake is in her hand, her eyes dark, narrow. "Dick move, Damon."

"Still as charming as ever Ms. Alexis," Damon says smugly, ignoring the entire situation of his imminent demise by her hand.

Lexi growls something feral in her throat and launches the stake right at his heart. A strong hand stops it. Lexi turns around stunned to Stefan, who is now holding her stake, having ripped it from her hands.

"Stefan, what the hell-?"

Stefan winces forward, he heals very fast but the gaping hole from the stick he had pulled out of his chest will smart for a while longer.

"No one's staking Damon, Lexi," Stefan announces in a pain gasped of a voice.

Lexi's eyebrows erupt from her hairline as the same time Damon's do, but his in amusement. "Aww what's the matter Stefan? All that animal blood turn you into a soft feeling love child? We gonna dance around a maypole and braid each other's hair now-?" His words were cut short when the stake found a home in his chest, right above his heart.

Stefan stares at Damon, eyes firm, hard. "No one is staking you Damon, but me." His eyes are on his brother, anger flaring in them like fire, but also there is something else behind all that, something that looked like hurt. Because Damon had never staked him before, not even when he was a ballistic Ripper, going through oceans of people practically every hour.

He grinds the stake in, hearing Damon groan in protest. His eyes are still hard, but he yanks it out, and does not go lower, does not deliver the fatal blow to his vampire brother's heart that would end Damon's otherwise immortal life.

Damon's eyes flicker in amusement again, a stupid smile pulls across his face. "Squirrels have made you weak, brother."

Stefan reaches for Damon's neck, but Lexi's arm grabbing his bicep stops him.

"Stefan, enough. We need to go!" Her eyes are up on the now musicless stage, where the bands are changing hands, and people are starting to mill towards them. A few people, Lexi could compel, but a few dozen, that wasn't an easy task. Already they were approaching the scene of the two seemingly young men fighting, pointing and gesturing with all the curiosity strangers did to something that wanted to gawk at. Even being stoned hadn't lessened it, if anything it made them more boisterous about it.

Stefan shakes Lexi's arm off of him, and has Damon by the shirt collar before the female vampire can stop him again.

"You need to leave Damon," Stefan says again, and adds with more insistence, seeing the people come closer."Now."Stefan voice is still angry, and enraged. But there is a pressing of a kiss to Damon's brow before Stefan can stop himself. It was something they always used to do in their old life, when they said goodbye. And it was so ingrained that Stefan seemed to do it unconsciously.

Damon's face is amused again at the gesture, but not stunned, and his smile is slow. "Same to you." Damon is gone at Vampire speed, so fast it is like a mirage, leaving Stefan clutching at air. Lexi standing beside him, looking at him and to where Damon had been like they were both crazy.

"How could you just let him go Stefan?" Lexi says, her voice shrill and angry, pushing him behind some one's makeshift tent of canvas and rags, the smell of hemp, bacon and coffee coming from inside it. She compelled the stunned people inside it to leave and go have sex away from their tent. They left without even getting dressed, only taking their homemade quilt and pleased smiles outside with them.

Lexi paced it the length of it, her go go boots stomping the dirt. "What is wrong with you?" Her words ring around the enclosure.

"He's gone Lexi, what does it matter?" Stefan says, watching his friend move up and down the dirt floor. When she had full length skirts, they used to swish when she did this. But now, all he hears is her heavy angry breathing.

She stops pacing, and is now mere inches from Stefan's face, and he can smell the deer they had eaten from earlier on her breath.

"He staked you Stefan," she says this like he didn't remember that fact, or that pain.

"I staked him back," Stefan reminded. "He got what he deserved."

Lexi glowered, because she had been trying to save Stefan from himself for a long, long time. "Yeah, well next time, aim a little lower Stefan-"

"He's my brother, Lexi." Stefan cut her off, lowering his eyes to her, letting the words hang in the air, and ring around the tent.

Lexi didn't say anything back.

xxxxXxxxx


2009- September

Elena Gilbert was worth the 100 year wait.

She was beautiful, and kind, but more importantly, accepting. Even though she only thought she was accepting of her feelings for this "new alluring kid with dumb sad eyes", her acceptance of anything to Stefan was probably making his "diary hand" go all wet.

In that way she was perfect for Damon Salvatore's hero complex, guiltier-than-stupid-emo-created-Twilight-Vampires little brother.

And the fact that she looked exactly like Katherine Pierce…could also be a factor for Stefan's infatuation with her.

Infatuation that made Stefan put on a damn football jersey and join Mystic Falls finest strapping teenage boys. To join the team and be adored by millions of drunk high school kids on a Friday Night.

Damon watches the practice, watches them toss the ball around, going for a 60 yard field goal, that misses,winging off the goal post and smacking itself somewhere well out of goal range.

Amateurs. Katherine could play this entire game with Damon and Stefan in full skirts and corsets without such a lame fumble. Okay granted, she was a vampire, but still, Damon wasn't betting any money on the home team.

And Stefan, seriously? What was up with the half attempted passing? Even with pretending 'regular 17 year old jock' boy, he was throwing decidedly like a girl. It didn't mind that he was landing each throw with Tyler Lockwood, some preppy idiot son of the Mayor, or that the coach was getting all dewy eyed at Stefan's 'ability' –Damon knew that his brother was being half assed about his game. A game that Stefan and Damon had played long before any of these kids father's father's had sperm in their balls.

Though it might have something to with Elena Gilbert practicing her cheerleading in really short shorts and a little tank top, jumping up and down, doing high splits, sparking her big brown eyes at Stefan.

1864 women had too much to work with, all those hoops and wires all that covering up for the sanctity of it all; though they did make up for it with the breast heightened corset things. But, that was just one bold woman here and there. Now, screw all sense of covering up, it was now short shorts and tanktops - the liberation of women was an amazing thing to Damon.

Stefan smiled at the girl, and honest to god winked, at her, missing a perfectly good catch, making her laugh at him for staring at her. The coach wasn't impressed.

"Salvatore! Get your head in the game!" His hands were cupped like a megaphone, and he was chewing something that he was pretending wasn't snuff, spitting into the grass every few words.

Damon wasn't impressed either. Time to put an end to this nonsense.

Damon clapped his hands exaggeratedly slow, stepping onto the mowed football field, walking a diagonal across the 30 yard line. "Stunning play Salvatore, truly a half assed piece of work."

Stefan's eyes immediacy go suspicious and hooded at seeing him there. "What are you doing here?"

Okay so maybe it had been a few – decades, since they last spoke, before he came back to Mystic Falls a few weeks ago. And Damon may have tried to stake Stefan once or twice in that time, but still. "Harsh, Stefan."

Matt Donovan jogs to them in all his jock glory along with the coach.

"There a problem here?" The coach says, and spits something at Damon's feet. Okay, does no one teach manners anymore?

"Who are you?" The coach wears a baseball cap with the logo of the school stitched neatly into it. He eyes Damon in leather and jeans, past his teen years (if only the coach knew just how much past) He clearly was not one of his brainwashed 'let's kick football ass!' students, and therefore an immediate threat.

Damon idly wonders what Coach High School Sport's monogrammed windbreaker would look like with a spray of dark arterial blood right across it. He smiles. "Relax coach-" the words were drawn out. Damon flings an am over Stefan's shoulder. "Just came to watch my brother's practice."

Matt Donovan eyes the gesture from Damon, his eyebrows knit together. "I didn't know you had a brother Salvatore." it was sarcastic, and completely untrue since Matt had seen Damon hanging around Caroline earlier. Caroline, having a big mouth, announced to all the world that she had "the better Salvatore brother."

Matt was such a high school jock that Damon wondered if he tasted like jock too. Stefan was recoiling under Damon's hand, and it made Damon grin. Not for some weird evil reason, not now. But because, his brother was 162 years old, and Damon could still make him uncomfortable. It was what older brothers lived for.

Damon removed his arm off Stefan and held it out to the blonde teen. "Damon Salvatore."

Matt shook the hand with an "Matt Donovan," gesturing behind him to the preppy haircut kid behind him. "That's Tyler Lockwood." Tyler shook hands with Damon the same way Matt had. Like it was any casual meeting between teammates and their families. And, for all they knew, it was.

"Lockwood? The mayor's son?" When Tyler nodded, Damon smiled again. "Pleasure, gentlemen, I trust you're going easy with my baby brother here," Damon smiled again with the eyebrow raise that he knew annoyed the hell out of Stefan.

Stefan growled, but he bit his fangs into his lips, and kept silent. He was calculating exactly what it was that Damon wanted. He hadn't come to watch him play.

"He plays a good game," Tyler said. "Whipped my ass around pretty hard."

"I'll bet he did," Damon smiles again, it's a lazy annoying thing that smile. Like its own creature. "Of course I taught him everything he knows."

"Is that right?" Matt Donovan says, ears perking up at the mention of more football, a common ground. "You played?"

"Not for a while," Damon admits, and it isn't a lie, far from it. "Mostly just throwing the ball around in our front yard, right Stefan?" A hand claps itself on Stefan's shoulder and the smirk is back. "Of course I had to go easy on him, being my little baby brother and all."

Stefan eyes Damon's hand, and then raises his head to Damon's eyes. "Whatever you have to tell yourself Damon."

There is an 'ohhh' that choruses into the team's hands at Stefan's slam on his brother.

The coach comes alive at that noise, and tries to regain his order. "Okay, you guys, enough, back in formation. Let's go!"

"What's going on?" Elena jogs her way over to them, her ponytail bobbing, her breasts bobbing too, with each step. Damon really notices that part.

Stefan's eyes darken in fury when he sees Damon watching Elena.

Elena stops in front of the groping of boys, and spots Damon first. "Damon, I didn't know you were here."

"Ms. Gilbert," As from their first meeting, Damon does a little bow and kisses Elena's hand.

She looks at him likes with amusement, so much like Katherine it's uncanny. "Did you come to watch Stefan try out?" Elean's voice is so light and trusting. She is an older sister to a younger brother. No doubt, before Jeremy's stoner phase, she would cheer him on in little league games and all that other human crap. It wasn't a foreign concept to her to want to be there for a sibling.

"Yes, I have Elena."

"Damon-" Stefan's voice is a warning, his full forced growl barely contained in it.

"But first," Damon cuts Stefan off, seeing his brother move in aggravation from one foot to another. The crowd around them, being the only reason he hasn't ripped Damon's throat out. "I think Stefan here needs to work on his skills." He stares into Stefan's burning, heated eyes. "You're getting a little rusty, kiddo."

There is another round of 'ooh's' from the crowd, and the coach is trying once again to restore peace. But, when Damon opens his hand for the ball in Matt's hand, Matt tosses it to him without any compulsion. Because, he and the others want to see some action too.

"Damon, enough," Stefan growls, taking one step towards his brother, who is already shrugging out of his leather jacket, slapping the football in his palm.

"These things are so much more aerodynamic than the ones I brought home from the War." Damon says of the Wilson football in his hand. He brings his nose down to the synthetic plastic. "And it doesn't smell like lard either." He raises his head. "Go long Stefan."

"Damon!-"

"C'mon Stef!" Tyler Lockwood shouts, because it looks like for all the world that Stefan is simply having a hissy fit because his older brother is trying to embarrass him. "Kick his ass!" The tone is both challenging and sarcastic.

Damon flits his eyebrows up. "Yeah Stef, kick my ass," Damon throws the football, long and hard, and fast aiming it right at one of the quarterbacks. At that speed it would break the kid's ribs, even under all the padding he wore.

Stefan runs at the ball and catches it mid air, tackling the quarterback to the ground. There is a whoop from the team at Stefan's moves, even Elena smiles at him, impressed.

Damon cocks his head. "Not bad," he runs, not full Vampire speed, because he was never that stupid, but fast enough to tackle the ball away from his brother, and make a mad dash with it down the yard lines, towards the nearest goal post.

Stefan is on him like a blur, still enraged that Damon would want to kill a kid, simply to piss him off. He throws himself at Damon in an amazing tackle sending him down at the 10 yard line.

More cheers from the team. They jog to him. Matt Donovan reluctantly holding out his hand to Stefan. He still wasn't comfortable with Stefan dating his ex girlfriend, but that tackle was pretty sweet, and he couldn't deny it.

Stefan accepts the hand up, snatching the ball back from Damon with a smirk of his own. "You're a little rusty there, Damon."

Something hard slams him into the goal post.

"Damon!" Elena is between them, the brothers, one against the goal post the other with a hand Stefan's neck.

Stefan chokes for air that is missing. Technically he didn't need to breathe as much now, because of the whole being dead, thing. But, being reborn as a vampire, it still made the feeling of his trachea being crushed by Damon's hands uncomfortable.

"Damon! Let him go!" Elena is trying to pry Damon's hands off Stefan, but his grip is strong. Tyler and Matt try to help, but nothing is working.

Damon finally lets go on his own, and Stefan falls back to this feet, choking, Elena hovering over him.

"Oh my god, are you okay?" Elena's hand is on Stefan's back, she's rubbing it, she's talking to him as he chokes on air, she's being a loving girlfriend. And a pissed off one, her eyes turn to Damon. "What is wrong with you?"

"Your brother plays like an amateur Damon, that's not a reason to choke him," Tyler Lockwood out, as if he had been closing his eyes the entire time Stefan had been playing.

Damon's eyes flicker for a moment. It is just a moment before the masking smirk falls into place, but it still had been there. "I wouldn't say he's that bad."

"I would." Tyler spurts out again. He blows a raspberry as Matt hits his elbow with a "Dude!"

"Okay, smart asses, that's enough," the Coach has finally come back online to claim his authority over the team. He blows his whistle once, sharply. "Back to practice, let's go!"

"Really?" Damon almost shows his fangs with his next smirk. He ignores the coach's words and takes a step towards Tyler who still has helmet hair, and black kohl like streaks under his eyes.

Stefan is ringing the bruising he can already feel around his neck – it will be there for only a few hours at most, but it will hurt like a mother in those few hours. But, he stops his hands, when he sees Damon move towards the kid. Stefan has not seen this look in over 100 years, but he still knows what it is; even in a diluted form.

"Damon," Stefan takes a step towards Damon.

Damon takes another step towards Tyler. "And what makes you the expert?" His head cocks in something only thinly dripped in amusement.

"I've been playing this game for three years man," Tyler says, not knowing that this fact is full on laughable to a Vampire of 167 years. He casts a flickering glance over to Stefan, a sneering flicker, even for its short length. "I can spot shittiness when I see it."

Damon's smile is brighter, still full on cocky. But, there is a popping in the sinews of his neck. A quiet thing too small for anyone to really pick up. Anyone but Stefan. "Really?"

Before Stefan can even think about why Damon has decided to turn a side on he had abandoned for 15 years, over 15 years – Damon has stepped right over to Tyler Lockwood and has gripped his neck in a choke hold.

"Damon!"

There is a scuffle of shouting, and other members of the team advancing at the sight of one of their own being strangled. But Stefan reaches the scene first, pulling Damon off of Tyler Lockwood so hard, that, had the force been used on Tyler himself, it would've broken his head clean off his neck.

Tyler is on the manicured grass, gasping for air, but looking completely pissed off about it, not scared at all. Like as soon as he regained control of the oxygen flowing through his limbs he would launch himself at Damon and go for blood, or at least try to.

"What is wrong with you?" Damon finds Stefan hands on his shoulders as he repeats a line he seems to say to him at least once a decade when they find each other again and one or both of them has done something idiotic.

Stefan's eyes are so dark they are almost black, he is barely containing his fury at his brother. It is all Damon can do not to laugh. Stefan is seriously getting upset for being embarrassed by Damon in front of his team. Or at least Damon pretends that for a moment, because it would appear so on the superficial surface that neither one of them has had since they were both in knee high pants.

Damon slaps off the grip of his brother like a nuisance of flies. He walks the small stride of distance over to Tyler Lockwood who is still down on the grass, and takes the kids hand, not waiting for an acceptance of his gesture.

Tyler Lockwood in all his football padding, and 17-year-old attitude is pulled up to his feet so fast it gives him a head rush.

He throws his hand away from Damon's grip like he was a demon - if only he knew the truth - and cuts Damon with look that is equal to it.

But Damon matches this, his look more intense, darker, something he has honed since before Tyler Lookwood was even an idea. He holds that look, seeing Tyler clench his jaw under it to try and pretend that something so piercing wasn't affecting him as much as it was.

Somewhere in the scuffle and tackling Vampire little brother's and human teenagers, the brown football has wound up by Damon's right foot. He bends down and retrieves it. The coach eyes him warily like Damon had just picked up his newborn and was preparing to eat it.

"Let's get one thing clear, Tyler." The football is tossed easily from each of Damon's hands, tight, smooth spirals caught back down neatly. The last one of these throws goes high up a good foot, gives an impressive arch and is caught back down expertly, before Damon stops watching the football and starts watching Tyler. "I'm the only one allowed to recognize Stefan's shittiness."

Tyler blinked first, as Damon wanted him too. The tone had changed, Damon wasn't admitting to anything. But, he wasn't denying anything either. Elena Gilbert is watching him warily, next to the brother who is repeating the look, but for a different reason. The team is still circled around them, even the coach cannot pretend that he is not watching this scene unfold, like Damon was a car cash, horrifying to see, but unable to stop watching.

Damon's smile is loose, and easy going but he tosses the football hard back at Tyler who catches it at he was taught to do. But, the grunt that came from him at the force of the ball wasn't masked fast enough.

Tyler's eyes look murderous; Damon's eyes look amused, and a second later he lets that gaze flicker away and steps this time over to Stefan and Elena.

Elena, bless all her wondrous body, takes Damon's brother's hand, like Damon is a ghast meant to harm Stefan.

Stefan, the perfect football loving-162-year-old-innocent-teenager who drank bambi instead of Bambi.

Elena was defending her man, taking a stand against evil dooers, it was all so noble.

"It was so good to see you again Ms. Gilbert," This modern world didn't have as much of a hold on manners anymore as the world Damon and Stefan grew up in when they were breathing human young men. So, when Damon says this so politely Elena seems unable to process it, unsure if he was being sarcastic, or hitting on her.

But, her confusion made her nose crinkle, and that was a plus. Beside her Stefan is stiffening, holding her hand like an anchor, to keep it weighed down from throttling Damon.

That is more amusing than Elena's "protective mate" mode. Damon slaps the side of his brother's neck, the flat of his Daylight ring hitting like cold bone against Stefan's face. The hair above it does not flop, his little brother's stupid floppy hair has been tamed with modern gel.

Stefan the ever loving boy band looking teenager. The Underdog. So what if he hates Damon? Damon hates his stupid new hair. In the eternity that is their lives, both these hates seem manageable.

Damon will hate Stefan's hair, and Stefan will hate Damon's face – thus was their world now.

But that stupid teenage dooshy idiot who declared Stefan stupid with all the "wisdom" of his pathetic 17 years – who had the audacity to take a roll that only Damon could claim?

Damon will hate that too – thus was his world, and his right.

He does not say this. He only looks sarcastically amused instead: "Have a good practice brother."

There is no kiss of affection, something not uncommon they did as boys, or as grown men. Affection was showed amongst family more readily back then before family values was a PSA event, and just a norm.

Instead, there is one last slap to the side of Stefan's neck and he is gone, strolling back across the field. He smirks when he hears Elena calling out his brother's name to pull him away from watching his retreat; the yard lines disappearing under his boots.

xxxxxXxxxx


2009 - November

"No, Damon-" Elena is pushing against Damon as he is herding her down the stairs, or at least trying too. She is only a human girl, but she can put up a hell of a fight. "He needs help, I'm not going to just leave him!"

"You are not adept to handle him like this Elena, I'm not asking, I want you upstairs or I'm going to throw you up there myself!"

The walls surrounding him are solid, stone and solid oak, through and through, and Stefan is sure he is burning. But, he is not sure of anything really, so the burning may or may not even be real. Or even the voices of Damon and Elena. Everything seems to have an auroa to it, a buzzing that is like something alive crawling inside of his brain, trying to eat it out from the inside.

There is more of that phantom or real voices, scraping, a few well placed curse words from Elena, a heavy door is shut, a deadbolt is locked and there is a pounding that is pounding the stabbing ice pick in Stefan's head.

It is all too nauseating and too much for his already overly heightened senses. But, nothing in his second, much longer life seems to be easy, because a heavy sound scrapes across his hearing making him cringe. The oak door with the barred little window is opened.

At first it is nothing but shadow, shadow and too much noise.

Stefan blinks and raises his head up from where it has landed on his chin. "Damon-"

Stefan only gets out the name as a part of the shadow pulls itself away from the darkness and takes shape. His brother in all black, expensive black, jeans and a silk shirt that would pay for 10 people's college funds. It is wrinkled and it stinks, Stefan can smell it from here. He idly wonders when was the last time Damon had taken a shower.

Probably about the same time he did.

Stefan blinks again, his eyes feel gritty, but then there is a moment of confusion. For there is Damon standing there, but younger 10 years old, in a white linen shirt and too short pants, bare feet, a stupid mischievous smile on his face. The kind that got them into trouble. The kind that had broken Stefan's leg a century before.

"Get up you half dead hound dog! You can't stay and act like a baby in bed all day!"

"Damon-"

Stefan has blinked again, and it is Damon, as he is now, which is frozen at 22, a century after he had turned 22.

"In the flesh," He smirks. "More or less," that smirk is all sarcastic, and idiotic and Damon. His older brother circles where Stefan has thrown himself into a wooden chair.

Damon is circling him like an appraiser, Stefan hears it, but does not see it because he has lowered his head again, this time down to his knees. All to combat the withdrawal. A very thin set of tremors ripple up his shoulders, and he cannot stop it because it is out of his control.

"You don't look so good Stefan," The circling has stopped, and Damon now stands in front of him. "In fact you look like complete and utter shit," Stefan can hear Damon's next smirk. "I hope it's all worth it."

"What do you want Damon?" Stefan's face is in his palms, not wanting to look up. For being dead he certainly had no problem still feeling pain.

"I've come to visit my baby brother on his sick bed," Damon is still on with the sarcasm, but there is a placing of a hand on Stefan's shoulder, light, but still there. "You're shaking."

It is this declaration, not the touch, that raises Stefan's head to find his older brother's. Damon's eyes are – there is something in them, it was flights of step away from full concern, but not so far away from it entirely that is completely out of that building. His head is cocked to Stefan, holding his breath, like he is waiting to judge Stefan's condition for himself.

This moment is there and gone in half a second as Damon raises the hand he had just removed from Stefan's shoulder to his nose, and scowls. "And you stink. If being a martyr means you smell like a homeless person who just had sex with a dumpster, I'd seriously reconsider the whole thing."

There the faintest sound of crystal tinkling. Then there is a smell that suddenly penetrates the room, a heady thick smell of warmth, and copper.

Stefan raises his head and his eyes go wide when he sees Damon holding a decanter unstoppered. A dark red viscous liquid sloshes around inside. Damon grasps two etched highball glasses in one hand, pouring a drink of the redness from the decanter for himself, then filling the second glass, and holding it up for Stefan to see.

It is thick as syrup, and it is not animal. After drinking Animal blood for years and years, Stefan recognizes the smell, and what isn't the smell. This is from something higher up, out of the food chain, something that could think.

"Get that away from me." Stefan is eyeing the human blood the way humans would if they saw a glass of blood presented before them – with fear.

"I just thought you might fancy a drink Stef," Damon is now holding the glass close enough for Stefan to fully take in the aroma. Not fresh, blood bank, but still, decidedly human.

Stefan is trying to shake off the pull he can feel rising in his whole body. It craves the blood, it wants it. After he had taken that drink from Elena when she saved him he felt it reawaken that need. But, it was why he was here in the first place, that need had turned him back into what had been fighting his entire second existence to not become again. A monster.

Damon is taking a drink from his glass, swallowing slowly, smirking still, but eyeing Stefan with a look that seemed to say "See? It's not that bad." Like a non vampire older brother trying to coax his younger sibling to take medicine that he didn't want.

Stefan is shaking his head like a petulant child. "I said no Damon." and it sends his head pounding, and the daggers shoot out of his eyes. Suddenly he is nauseous, and then he is vomiting an acidic rancidness all over his shirt front.

"Oh of all the lame - Stefan-"

There is a forceful grab at his neck and he is suddenly on his hands and knees on the stone floor, finishing what was left of his vomiting, and dry heaving when that ended.

"Come on," there is a rough, but firm hand balled on the back of his shirt and the glass of blood is back in his line of sight. "Drink this little brother," Damon's face is inches from his own. His breath is blowing in Stefan's face. "I'm not going to watch you regurgitate all the water in your body just out of spite."

"Then leave," Stefan says in a gasp of pain filled agony of dry heaves and detoxing from human blood. Human blood he had been drinking privately from Damon's stash, that he has been unable to stop drinking since that night Damon and Elena had saved him from the tomb vampires.

"Not an option," Damon says this as a finality, and the glass rim is pressed to his lips, the blood inside touching the skin of the lower. "C'mon Stef, the saint act is so last season."

"I said no!"

The glass is sent smashing against the wall, the blood making a graffiti mark against the stone.

Damon releases Stefan's shirt, and a cold clamminess suddenly fills in its absence. Damon is by the wall, eying the stain like it is a piece of art for sale. He is back to looking at Stefan in another moment.

"Fine," the words are hard, and emotionless. "You want to waste away to dust just to prove your better than the rest of us, go ahead. I'm done."

Glass crunches under Damon's shoes as he walks back towards the door, pulling its heaviness open with a scraping. "Have a good night brother." The hardness is in the words, as the heavy door swings shut and leaves Stefan alone.

Much later, Stefan opens his eyes – he has not realized that he has fallen asleep. Passed out, more likely. There is something soft underneath his head, and on him.

He blinks, and feels the softness on top of him curl. He raises his head, and still sees the stone of the basement containment room.

The softness underneath him is a blanket, and the one on top of him is Elena. Elena, who has stirred at him moving, and is looking down at him, her long brown hair, hanging from her face.

"Stefan-"

Stefan says her name, or he must have said a garbled version of it, because her hands are on his face, soothing through his pale skin, made paler from the aftereffects of detoxing.

"Shh, it's okay Stefan. I'm here, I'm here."

Elena helps him sit up, and holds something out to him. "Here," it is red and viscous and Stefan retracts from it, but Elena takes his hand in hers and presses the glass into his palm. "It's animal Stefan." she says this as reissuance and comfort. "You have to eat." Her hands are on his neck once she deems his hand steady enough to hold the glass on his own. "It's okay."

Elena's words sooth Stefan. His nerves are still over sensitized from being in constant pain for almost two days, it makes even blinking hurt like agony. But, Elena knows this, and touches him soothingly on his arm, his back, but lightly, as he drinks down the blood of a deer in gulps.

"Easy," Elena takes the glass from him. "You'll make yourself sick." She is wiping the back of his neck with a cool rag, and the chill seeps into Stefan's flushed skin.

"How long have you been down here?" Stefan asks of Elena, as she moves her bathing from the back of his neck to the front.

"All night," she rings out the rag, and it is only then that Stefan notices that she has a small bowl of water beside to her to refresh the rag on each pass. "Is this helping?"

Stefan nods, feeling the rag and her hands on his head in equal measure. "Stefan, you need to come upstairs-"

"No," Stefan tells her simply, and sadly. He does not trust himself outside these stone and iron walls. Does not trust what will happen there, to her – if he were to step out of this hole. "It's too dangerous."

"But, you're sick." Elena argues, using the word 'sick' like it could be used interchangeably with the words 'detoxing' or 'drying out from a human blood bender' "You need to lie down in a real bed."

"Elena, no!" Stefan's voice is not strong, but it is still forceful. "I can't be around people right now. Not like this."

"How long is this gonna go on Stefan? How long are you going to torture yourself like this?" Elena's voice is shrill, and in agony, because she has decided to care about him despite all his warnings not too.

"Until it ends, Elena. Until I'm not a monster anymore."

Elena looks like Stefan has stabbed her, there is that much pain on her face. "Stefan-" she takes his face in her hands.

He allows this contact for a moment, this brief comfort from a girl he loves, before he looks up to her sadly. "You should go."

Elena looks both angry and pained at his request. But she does not fight it. "Fine. But this little set up behind you stays." She eyes the blanket behind him. The small bit of comfort in an otherwise dank and stone room. T"his isn't a prison, Stefan."

Stefan turns at her words, and eyes the blanket he had been lying on. It is dark in the cell, only a shaft of sunlight that managed to come in through the slits of the bars on the window set high in the stone light it.

The blanket is a quilt, goose down, patch worked. It is old, the threads are yellowed with age, the fabric has faded in places that the patterns have almost been completely rubbed off.

Stefan eyes it like he is seeing a ghost. He didn't even think this thing still existed. That it would have lasted this long - "Where did this come from?"

"Damon pulled it out of some old trunk from his room," Elena answers him, seeing him turn to her with such a look of surprise it surprises her.

Stefan fingers the fading fabric. The quilt that his mother had started the day Damon had been born, and later Matilda had finished when their mother died birthing a stillborn.

It was a patchwork quilt, bits and pieces of clothes both he and Damon had outgrown were sewn into it. Starting from their birth. Here and there were Christening gowns, old night shirts. Stefan touched a bit of what used to be Damon's best blue shirt, before he wanted to help Matilda in the pigpen when he was 7 and rendered it completely useless because it had been covered in mud when he tripped in the slop bucket. And up higher was a piece from the short pants Stefan had been wearing the day he fell from the apple tree and broke his leg. There was a even a small amount of dried blood from his fall in the square. Another part was a blue square from Damon's army jacket, and Stefan's first formal dinner jacket.

Here before him was their life, they're real life, as humans, as brothers. All stitched together, all being touched under his hands.

"I asked him for something to keep you warm, and this is what he brought me. " Elena is talking as Stefan stops fingering the fabric and looks at her. "He even helped me get it under you."

Stefan's head cocks to her again in confusion, and Elena answers the question she sees there. "You're not a light weight Stefan, I actually didn't have to ask him. He just walked down with this thing and told me what to do. Said if you complained for an eternity about a backache that only you would get he would have to stake you himself. Then, he just left in his brooding huff."

Stefan's nerves are shot and his head is pounding like it's alive. But, it is not these things that are sending him into a turmoil. It is seeing this – this – something he hasn't seen in a century. Something that Damon had always kept in his room, but something they had always deemed as theirs –

"I'll be right back," Elena interrupts his thoughts with a kiss, a soft one to his forehead, then his lips. She stands back up. "I told Damon I'd tell him when you woke up."

There is something in Elena's voice that makes Stefan question something. Elena has no love loss for Damon. She at first tolerated him, then she hated him, now she is back to tolerance and caution. But the way she is speaking about him now – it causes Stefan's brows to furrow. Like something had passed between them, because they had shared a common concern.

Elena opens the oak door and startles when Damon is right there, so close to her with a shit eating grin on his face. "Damon!"

"Good morning." Damon wags his eyebrows in that annoying way. He peaks inside the room, past Elena's annoyed look, to where Stefan is still sitting on the floor. "What's shaking little brother? You dehydrate out the Bad Vampire yet?"

"Were you out there all night?"

It is Elena who asks this. But it is Elena, and Stefan – who gets back on his feet – who wait for an answer.

Damon's eyes flicker once over Elena, his gaze going down for a moment, but then back to Stefan. "I didn't hear anything if that's what your worried about."

This has nothing to do with what Damon did and didn't hear, and they all know it. But, Stefan knows it especially. Damon had been outside that cell all night, and it wasn't for Elena, or to get a rile out of Stefan.

"Post detox sex isn't the best sounding thing anyway," Damon saunters into the room and snatches the quilt in one large bundle. "Since you're no longer completely pathetic anymore Stefan, I'll just be taking this back." He eyes Stefan, annoyance already coming to his face before the question is even asked. "Should I even ask if you're coming up from your self-deprecation?"

"Why'd you save it?" Stefan's arms are crossed, and he's eyeing the quilt in Damon's grasp.

Damon smirks again. "Family heirloom, thought it might be worth something." Damon lets it just be that.

"You left town with nothing in that carriage but your clothes Damon." Stefan is not buying it. "Which means you came back for this later – there were hundreds of things in that house more valuable than this." Stefan steps closer on wobbling legs towards his brother, and he is back to touching the fabric. "But, you grabbed this, why?"

"Who's older Stefan?" Damon retorts in anger. "I don't have to answer to you. Especially when you smell like a locker room."

"This thing was 20 years old when we were alive Damon, it would've fallen apart by now." Stefan holds up a section of the blanket. It is faded and yellow, but it is remarkably still intact for something that was almost two centuries old. "You had a witch bind this with a preservation spell didn't you?"

"So what if I did?"

"Why?" Stefan pounds out again.

"I admire the stitchwork Stefan, that's all." Damon is up in his brother's face. So stop tooting your Little Brother Horn." "You think that just because you've granted yourself sainthood so long ago you can analyze me?" He back to smiling, but it is covering something that Stefan can see. "Your girlfriend and I are going to go upstairs and eat breakfast now, all alone." Damon is close to Stefan's ear, breathing in it with a tickle. "Consider it an incentive for you to get your smelly ass up and stop acting like an idiot."

Damon transfers the bundle of quilts, and holds the door open for Elena. "Come on." The words are too Elena, but Damon's eyes are also on his brother.

Stefan does not make a move, not even when Elena pleads him with a tug on his arm. In the end she gives up with a sad sigh, but kisses him. Tells him she is here, and she will wait for him. She walks past Damon and up the stairs.

Damon watches her go midway up the winding staircase surrounded by wooden walls, and then turns back to his brother.

There is a brief moment, a passing of something between them. Damon is holding that bundle of quilts, that he had denied means anything to him, and looking at the brother that he has denied the same thing.

But, his eyes still convey something.

Less than a week ago, he watched Vampires torture and stake his brother, while he watched. Doing it because he watched. To gall him, to hurt him in the worse way. Damon was over a century old, but he will never forget the screaming brought out of Stefan as long as he lived.

And, here they were in that aftermath. Damon holding a bundle of quilts and Stefan locking himself down for self punishment.

Damon blinked, and tried to smirk, but it came out hard, as Stefan refused his request. Despite being so god damn old, it was still his younger brother standing there, half dead, a damn stinking mess because Damon hadn't gotten there in time.

The heaviness of this helped Damon pull the door close.

And Stefan watched him as his own helped push that same door from the other side.

xxxxxxXxxxxx


2010 – Spring

"The thing I don't get is, why save me?"

It is dark, but Stefan has no problem finding that voice, even without his acute senses. Because he has heard it for 162 years, in some form or another – currently it is sarcastic, and questioning.

It seems an impossibility that they can age having been dead for a century. But, they are, standing there under a moon filled sky, in a yard not dissimilar to the one they had grew up in. But, so much between them since that day. With an ancient Vampire that hates Stefan, and a less than ancient one who hates him too. Or so it would seem.

Damon is leaning against a tree with a low branch, feet pulled up like he is sitting in a chase lounge. "Is it brotherly love? Guilty conscious? Does it switch on, does it switch off?"

"Do you have somewhere you need to be Damon?" Stefan insists, forming out of shadow and into leather and jeans and a pumping (if not in the traditional sense) heart.

"Deflection." Damon says this like a psychiatrist. Who knows, he might have been one once. Having eternal life means you had a lot of time to be a lot of things. "You can't use that on me. I invented that."

Or not.

Damon sounds like the annoying older brother, like always. Even after all this time.

"We're done," Stefan says this, trying to keep the tiredness out of his voice. "Can you just go away?" He sounds like a kid, the kid he was a long time ago, who died when Stefan died. Who used to plead with his older brother like this when he didn't want to play anymore, or when he did want to play, and Damon wouldn't let him.

"Not until you tell me why you saved me," Damon is insistent, gnawing. Like a dog who didn't have a bone, but wanted to get one, out of someone else's leg. "You owe me that much."

["Damon, my still leg hurts. I can barely walk on it without this dumb stick thing!"

"Told you it's just a broken leg Stefan, you'll walk on it soon enough."

"I hate it!"

"Well don't go crying. Here, blow your nose, you dumb baby. Better? Told you you'll be fine."

"How do you know?"

"Because I know."]

"I don't owe you anything," Stefan replies short, and brief, and dark.

"Fine," Damon replies just as shortly. "Next question."

It continue like this, their conversation, brothers for over a century and a half. Brothers who both hated and loved each other with equal measure, but who would never admit to the latter. Who now found themselves at odds they had never faced before.

Elena had told Damon to let Stefan go, and as much as it hurt her to say that, she could never know how much it hurt Damon more. Damon had told Klaus the truth, he knew Stefan better than anyone.

"C'mon brother," Damon saunters over to Stefan, lazy, with a cocky smile. "What do you say? If you're going to keep saving my life at least make it for a good reason."

And the same was true for Stefan. He knew Damon better than anyone else would. Back when they cared about each other like regular brothers, back when they protected each other. Back when they hated each other, would stake each other, and now. When Stefan hadn't blinked before throwing himself to Klaus, because he couldn't fathom the thought of a world without Damon.

Damon hadn't guessed it. It wasn't brotherly love, it was beyond. It was staring down eternity without something so basic as what Damon meant to him. The label of 'brother' stretched when it transcended beyond a century. It was more like life, vs no life.

A drop in the Ocean

A Change in the Weather

I was praying that you and me might end up together.

Neither would ever hug, or admit that. Not even with the little kisses of affection they had given up a while ago. But it was there, whether they admitted it or not. It was what Stefan couldn't answer when Damon asked him earlier.

"Fine, but it's just you and me. Elena stays out of it."

Stefan watches his brother stare him down at the request. Weighing how a plan without Elena was possible for Stefan. When Stefan had spent all of last year wanting to die for Elena. And, Stefan has not lost that feeling. It has become more muted, more muddled since Klaus has poisoned his life.

But with her, it was like something outside waiting to come back in. A lost friend waiting to come home.

It was somehow different with Damon.

It was like a missing piece of himself trying to find the place where it broke off so it could be rebound.

It's like wishing for rain

As I stand in the desert

But, I'm holding you closer than most

"Deal," Damon gives Stefan that stupid, cocky smile again. And Stefan wants to clock it off, repay Damon for staking him earlier.

But, he doesn't.

They simply walk through the darkness together, inside an old house, Damon tossing a remark out about witches and what they would do to him.

But, there is an echo of what started this whole mess as they go down winding steps.

["It seems you have a little brother, Damon."]

"Because you are my heaven."


xxxxxXxxxx

End.

The end of my first ever stint in the "Vampire Diaries" world. A month of writing finally come to fruition. I am big fan of the Salvatore brother's relationship. I do love Stefan and Elena, but Damon and Stefan, their bond is different. And that's what I was showing.

I also could not find anything I read that matched how I felt about these boys' bond. It's not this pure hatred thing, or this gushy cooey love fest. It's what I hoped I showed. The lyrics are from "A Drop in the Ocean" by: Ron Pope. It is on the TVD soundtrack.

Thank you and drop reviews.

R/R please

Mystic