For the record, Alaric tells himself, as Damon backs him against a wall, mouth against mouth and Damon's hands slip under his shirt, running over his chest, I know this is completely fucking wrong.

He knows it's wrong every time he does it; every time he lets Damon do it. Submits himself to Damon's talented hands, lets Damon pull at his belt, unzip his pants, lets himself be crushed to a wall or pushed into a soft mattress, lets Damon crawl over him, all lips and tongue yes, a little bit of teeth as well. He knows. It's wrong.

His body seems to disagree, responds with urgency each time, pulls at Damon's clothing as frantically as Damon pulls at his. His body seems to think this is about as right as anything can possibly be, the way the bones and hollows of their hips just fit, just so, the way Alaric's mouth and chin fit so perfectly into the crook of Damon's shoulder, how Damon cries out when Alaric bites into him, dull human teeth worrying against Damon's flesh as he scratches deep welts into Alaric's back.

Sometimes, buried to the hilt in Damon, lost in Damon, tasting the dull copper flavour of Damon's sweat, the honey flavour of bourbon on Damon's tongue, feeling and tasting and needing all things Damon, Alaric tries to remind himself that this is the man who killed – who fucked, and killed, and turned – Alaric's wife, Isobel, turned her into the cruel shell she is now. The memory just makes him thrust harder, until Damon is a quivering mess, until Alaric has branded deep, dark bruises into Damon's hips and thighs, bruises that will vanish before Damon has a chance to settle his hips back into the mattress and brush that familiar, frustrating smirk across his features.

Still half insensible with lust, Damon stretches his body out, crosses his hands behind his head.

"Minute I saw you, I knew you'd be amazing between the sheets, Ric. I'm glad we didn't kill each other."

Collapsing beside Damon on the bed, Alaric grunts. "Remind me to send flowers. That's the most romantic thing I've ever heard."

Damon rolls over, straddling Alaric's body, aggressive and electrifying, and Alaric holds his bright silver eyes in his own dark ones. "Can I come over tomorrow?" Damon purrs.

"Could I stop you if I wanted to?"

"No," Damon admits. "But you're more fun when you're pliant." Damon kisses every inch of Alaric's neck, and most of his face, slips his wicked tongue between Alaric's bruised lips. With a smile he dresses, and heads back to the boarding house.

It's a pattern, Alaric's heart, Damon's dick. It's not healthy and Alaric knows it. Pulled under every time, a little further, pulled under Damon's spell by virtue of lips and tongue and cock and perfectly chiselled, long, pale torso until he finds himself thinking daily about leaving Mystic Falls for good.

When he can stop thinking about Damon for long enough to think coherently at all.

Months pass. Some nights becomes too many nights, too many nights in a row, too few nights sober and sensible and alone.

Maybe it's the alone part that makes him open the door each time Damon knocks.

One night, Damon arrives, drunker than usual. It takes a lot to get Damon drunk. He's drunk now. He's miserable, too, and Alaric wants to ask him, what's wrong, do you want to talk about it, but instead he submits to Damon's hands and lips and tongue, just as he always does, lets Damon drag him to the couch, seals his hot mouth over Damon's cock, thrilling at the arch of Damon's hips, his slightly cool hands in Alaric's hair. An hour later they are sated and relaxed, still on the couch, Damon with his head in Alaric's lap. Alaric's pants remain pooled around his ankles because kicking off his shoes seems like too much effort.

"What triggered the bourbon-a-thon?" Alaric asks, unable to resist tracing the dips and planes of Damon's face with the tip of his index finger. When the finger reaches his lips, Damon parts them, drawing Alaric's finger into his mouth, and then a second finger, biting down gently.

"Sometimes, I think I'm an idiot," Damon confesses, trailing his fingers over Alaric's arm. "I'm in love with a teenager, for fuck's sake." Fortunately, he's staring off into the distance, as he says it, and doesn't see the look of pain cross Alaric's face.

Alaric schools his features, leans back against the couch and covers his eyes with the back of his wrist. "I can think of dumber things," he admits.

Damon snorts. "I doubt it. But humour me."

Alaric drops his hand again, tangling his fingers in Damon's hair. "Falling in love with a vampire has to top the list."

Damon grimaces, catches Alaric's eye, a guilty, apologetic look. "Yeah…" he agrees. Shuffles, crawls, resettles himself straddled across Alaric's strong legs. "But, to be fair, I was in love with Katherine long before I knew she was a vampire." Damon takes Alaric's bottom lip in his mouth and gives a gentle tug. "Not that I'm excusing myself. I have terrible taste in women. And you'd know. Because you do too." He pulls Alaric to the floor for another round, and this time, Alaric takes him from behind, takes him hard, punishing, relentless, until Damon is almost screaming, with Alaric's hand between his shoulder blades, holding him down so he can't see the pain on Alaric's face.

Alaric wishes he could scar Damon's skin, but he can't, so as he withdraws, he leans to place an open-mouthed kiss at the base of Damon's spine, and without a word, retreats to his bed.

Damon lies motionless on the floor another long moment, and follows.

He climbs onto the bed, lies alongside Alaric, who keeps his eyes closed. "Can I come over tomorrow night?" he purrs.

"Could I stop you if I wanted to?" Alaric doesn't open his eyes, just rolls onto his back.

Damon is silent a moment. "Do you want to? Never got the impression you didn't want me here."

The rational part of Alaric's mind pleads with him, as it always pleads with him, to tell Damon to stay away. He makes his excuses; Damon wouldn't stay away anyway, it's just sex, you can't tell a vampire what to do.

Lies, all lies. So: "See you tomorrow night."

"For novelty's sake, we could start at the Grill."

"Are you asking me out, Damon Salvatore?"

Damon considers this a moment. "I'm planning to get you drunk and take advantage of you. Does that count?"

Alaric shakes his head. "Fuck off, Damon. I'll see you at the Grill."

Once Damon has gone, Alaric spends long moments breathing and breathing and breathing, but he sleeps, in the end.


Damon knocks on the door of the loft. Alaric opens the door, just a little, rubbing sleep from his eyes, still in yesterday's jeans and with last night's bourbon pouring almost visibly from his pores.

"What are you doing here, Damon?" he begs. "Seriously?"

"What?" Innocent expression, eyebrows raised. "You don't look happy to see me." Damon steps inside the loft, reaches for Alaric's belt. "Some people like daytime sex. I happen to be one of those people."

Alaric pushes Damon's hand away, to little effect.

"Go away, Damon," he says, tired and resolved. "I mean it. Can't deal with you today." Damon is already manhandling him, though, running his hands over Alaric's chest, stepping him away from the door.

"I like you better when you're not whining. C'mon, Ric." Firm, insistent lips on Alaric's jaw, against his mouth.

Alaric has no self-control, lets Damon strip his clothes away, feels himself open under Damon's fingers and lips, the brief flare of pain, the exquisite sensation of being finally full. The slap of hard muscle on hard muscle, and always, everywhere, Damon's fingers, Damon's hands. Alaric comes hard in the narrow space between their bodies, moments before Damon follows.

"See? Much better." Damon licks Alaric's come from his chest, and Alaric finds himself settling back against the pillows.

"What are we doing, Damon?" he asks, before he can convince himself not to.

"Sex. Lots of sex." Damon settles back to kneel between Alaric's thighs, runs fingers over the soft, pale skin there. "Were you confused?"

Alaric says nothing, but pulls himself up until he is sitting up higher against the bedhead. "I think you should go," he says quietly.

Damon shrugs, flicks his eyebrows north. "Suit yourself," he says airily, swinging his legs off the bed, reaching for his clothes, dressing quickly and efficiently. "Can I come by later?"

"Could I stop you if I wanted to?"

Damon gives Alaric a cool, predatory look, crawls up the bed until his face looms large over Alaric's. "Maybe," he concedes. "If you wanted to." Presses his lips to Alaric's, nudges Alaric's mouth open with his tongue until Alaric can't stop himself, deepens the kiss, hating himself for it.

"You know I wasn't talking about you and Katherine, right?" he asks, fists bunched in Damon's shirt.

"Yeah," Damon says. "I know. I'll see you later." Breezy, birdlike, he sweeps out of the room.

Alaric stays on the bed far longer than he ought, come and saliva cooling on his chest, before taking the longest shower he can remember having in years.

Alaric drives a hundred miles to an even smaller town. Takes a room for the night and drinks until he can't see, trying not to wonder what Damon will think when he knocks on the door to the loft and no one answers.

It's less than a week later. Alaric is sitting on the couch, alone, marking papers, shaking a little because he hasn't yet cracked the bottle of bourbon sitting by him on the floor, and is altogether too sober.

There is a knock on the door, and Alaric stills.

Another knock. "Open the door, Ric." Damon's voice is a taunt, a tease. Sing-song. "I can hear your heart beating. Just heard it up speed a little, too, so I know you're glad to hear me."

Alaric rubs his eyes and wishes himself back months, before he ever opened the door for the first time. A year, to the days before he moved to this godforsaken vampire town. Years, to before Isobel left him, to before he ever met Isobel. Climbs creakily to his feet and crosses to the door, opening it, barely more than a crack. Meets Damon's slate-silver eyes and tries not to blink.

Damon stands a moment, finally raising his eyebrows. "Are you going to invite me in?"

Alaric shakes his head. "No."

"Fair enough," Damon says, pushing by him. "I only need the one invite, anyway."

Alaric closes the door, rests himself against the wall.

Damon runs his eyes over the room as if to see if the décor has changed. Satisfied, he returns to stand in front of Alaric, their faces an inch apart.

"Why do you keep coming here, Damon?" Alaric asks, mostly breath.

Damon tucks his hand into the front of Alaric's jeans, pulling their hips into alignment. "Same reason you keep letting me in." Takes one more, entirely unnecessary step towards Alaric until their faces are resting together.

"There'll be nothing left of me, soon." Alaric closes his eyes. "You're tearing me into pieces." Alaric wishes, suddenly, that he was at least a bit drunk.

Damon brushes his mouth across Alaric's until Alaric whimpers a little.

Damon's body is pressed against Alaric's and the words are forced out, unbidden. "Why don't you stay away?" Alaric asks, letting his eyes fall closed.

"Neither of us want that, Ric," Damon answers, grinding his hips against Alaric's, rolling with just the right amount of pressure.

Alaric feels one arm snake around Damon's neck, the other around his waist. "You don't even want me," he insists, wishing all the while that he could force himself to shut up. Pulling Damon closer. "You want Elena," he finishes. Tries not to spit her name.

"Don't tell me what I want, Ric," Damon answers, against Alaric's mouth, warning in his tone. "I'm greedy. I want everything."

Every day Alaric thinks about leaving Mystic Falls for good, and every night he opens the door to Damon.

For now, it's enough.