Part of the drabble-exchange between ellensmithee, duchessofdisaster and me.

The first thing he sees upon entering the front door is the ring. It's lying on top of Alaric's jacket that someone has dropped in the middle of the hallway.

He hesitates, for just a moment, doesn't want to go further, doesn't want to find out what that means…

The living room is silent. There's a fire burning brightly in the fire-place, wood crackling softly in the quiet. A still figure on the floor, head turned toward the couch, one arm flung outward, toward a stake that's just out of reach, the other cradled against a not-moving chest.

Alaric's eyes are open, unseeing.


Damon freezes in the open door—and his eyes meet Stefan's. His brother is sitting on the couch, sipping from a glass of Scotch. His legs are stretched out in front of him, crossed at the ankles, shoes resting on Alaric's thigh. Stefan watches him for a moment, then raises his glass in a silent toast. Grins.

Stefan never says a word, just stands up and places the glass on the table next to the couch.

And leaves.

Damon sinks to the ground, next to the lifeless form, defeated. He looks at the still body, tries to recall Alaric's voice, the grin in his eyes, the growl in his voice, the warmth of his skin. Has no energy left to be angry. Or sad.

Or anything.

Something hits him on the side of his head and falls into his lap.

A blood bag.

Stefan's voice comes from the hallway.

"He'll need that, when he wakes up."

Alaric's hand twitches.

"Happy birthday, Damon."