Damon was alone in the parlor, sitting at his usual spot on the couch and staring into the fire. The obligatory glass of bourbon was in his hand. All of a sudden, he was thrown back to reality when he heard a knock on the door. He growled slightly and trudged out in the hall to open, too annoyed that anyone would be knocking on their door at this hour to even think about who it might be.
"What?" He exclaimed curtly as he swung the front door open. He looked out into the dark but didn't see anyone. He tilted his head downward slightly to see a little girl standing there. She had dark wavy hair down to just below her shoulders and looked to be around seven years old, albeit a bit small for her age. Damon thought there was something familiar about her face… She looked up at him with bright sapphire eyes and he cursed under his breath. He suddenly had an idea about who this girl might be.
"What are you doing here?" He snapped and he saw fear flash across her face before she tilted her chin up and said in a clear little voice.
"I'm supposed to knock on this door and ask for Damon Salvatore." She said.
"That's me." Damon said through clenched teeth, eyeing the little girl. "What do you want?"
The girl's lip trembled slightly and her eyes started to water.
"I don't know…" She admitted. "I don't know how I got here and my mom is gone." She looked around, as if expecting to see her mother jump up from around the corner.
Damon pursed his lips and eventually let out a sigh. He would regret this for eternity.
"Get in here." He said to the girl, gently (for him that is) pushing her into the house.
She was his daughter after all.
He led her into the parlor and sat her down on the couch where he had been sitting before. Damon crouched down before her. She looked around, appearing to be in awe. It was quite an impressive house for anyone who hadn't seen it before.
"Look at me." Damon told her and she turned her head towards him. Her eyes were almost glowing in the dim light. "What's your name?" he asked her.
"Katie" she replied.
"Of course it is." Damon snorted. "Short for Katherine?"
"Yeah!" Katie burst out, looking surprised. "How did you know that?"
"Just a hunch." Damon muttered. "Like I said before, I'm Damon and don't you think about calling me anything but Damon."
"What else would I call you?" Katie frowned at him.
"Nothing, that's what I'm saying." Damon hissed, knowing that he might be exaggerating. This girl clearly had no idea about who he was.
Katie yawned, looking as if about to fall over. Damon sighed and rose, picking her up in his arms.
"Why are you carrying me?" Katie demanded. "I can walk actually." Yet she didn't struggle to get out of his grip, but closed her eyes as her head fell on his shoulder. Damon didn't answer her but kept going until he reached his room. He wouldn't go through the trouble of putting together one of the guest rooms for her, because in his mind she would not be staying long. He held Katie in one of his arms and pulled off a corner of the cover. He laid her down on the bed and put the cover over her but she immediately sat up.
"I haven't brushed my teeth." She declared. "I have to brush my teeth before I go to bed."
"You're excused this once, just go to sleep." Damon turned to go back downstairs but Katie repeated herself:
"I have to. Don't you have toothbrushes?"
Damon turned back to her, looking into her determined eyes. He realized she wasn't going to back down on this so he sighed and walked into his bathroom, taking out an unused toothbrush from one of the drawers. He always kept several spare ones in the event of nightly guests. He had never had one quite this young before though. He placed the toothbrush and toothpaste on the counter and went back to Katie, who was now standing beside the bed.
"Toothbrush is in the bathroom, be quick." He told her and she ran off into the bathroom.
Damon sat down on the bed and heard the water being turned on. A few minutes later, Katie came back and even smiled a little.
"It's very important to brush your teeth." She said. "Do you brush your teeth twice a day?" she asked him.
"Yeah, yeah." Damon said, lifting her up and placing her back in the bed. "Now you can go to sleep."
"I don't have anything to sleep in." Katie said in a matter-of-fact tone. "May I please borrow some pajamas?"
"Do I look like I own children's pajamas?" Damon let out, frustrated. "Hm?"
"No." Katie mumbled, looking away.
Damon felt a pang of guilt, which annoyed him even more but still drove him to walk over to his closet and pick out one of his t-shirts. He handed it to Katie.
"Please, please, will you lie down and go to sleep after you put this on?"
"Yes, thank you!" Katie said, smiling. She dove in under the covers and Damon watched them move, slightly amused, before she came back out. Her hair was ruffled and she was now wearing his black t-shirt, which was so big on her it was practically a night gown. She took her skirt and sweater and crept to the end of the bed, where she hung them over the bedpost. She once again dove under the cover and Damon once again watched them move until she came up at the other end, lying down with her head on the pillow. Damon raised his eyebrows.
"Ok?" he looked sternly at her. "You'll sleep now?"
"Yes." Kate said and he started walking away. "Damon?" she called out and Damon moaned slightly.
"What?" He asked, half turning around so he was looking back at her from the side.
"Why are all your rooms so big?" she looked around the room. "My room is really tiny, you could put… ten of my room in here."
"You just don't stop, do you?" Damon sighed.
"My mom says I'm very inquisitive."
"You're too young to know that word." Damon told her.
"But I know it because I asked what it meant." Katie said triumphantly. Then her face turned darker. "Damon? Where is my mom?"
"I couldn't tell you, sweetheart." He said impatiently. "You might as well give it a rest and if you sleep she might be here tomorrow. Ok?" He knew that he shouldn't say that, since it was probably not the case but at that moment he would have said anything to get the girl to sleep so he could be alone with his thoughts. So he could develop a game plan to get her back to her mother and away from this house as soon as possible.
"Ok." Katie seemed to relax. She leaned back against the pillows and actually fell asleep. Damon let out a sigh of relief. He crept closer to the bed, to make sure she really was sleeping. She was. Against his will, Damon had to admit to himself that she was very cute. But then again, he thought to himself, how could she have been anything else when she had him for a father.
Damon quickly went back downstairs and into the parlor, where he filled a glass with bourbon and drained it before refilling the glass. He was happy Stefan was staying at Elena's tonight. Having his brother standing around judging him would have pushed Damon over the edge. He sighed as he sat down on the couch, resuming his previous staring into the shrinking fire. Damon considered putting more wood on it but couldn't be bothered. He stretched out on the couch, placing his glass beside it. It wasn't long before he drifted off to sleep.
"Mom!" Damon woke up from Katie screaming upstairs. "Mo-om!"
He cursed before speeding up the stairs and into his bedroom, where he was surprised to see that Katie was actually still asleep. However, she was crying and kicking which indicated she was having a nightmare. Damon contemplated leaving but something kept him beside the bed. He crouched down and looked at Katie as she fought in her sleep. He placed a hand on her forehead as if to still her and mumbled in her ear.
"Katie. Katie, wake up."
She woke up gasping for air, hysterically looking around her. He moved his hand from her forehead to her chest to keep her down.
"There now." He said in a slightly bored tone. "No need to panic, it was just a dream."
Katie looked at him with furrowed brows. Then she quickly turned away from him, wriggling out of his grip. He could have held her down of course, but instead stood up and watched as her shoulders began to shake from her crying. She was trying hard to be quiet but he obviously heard her anyway. Damon sighed deeply before sitting down beside her little body, stroking her hair back from her face. It was tear-stained and wet and her blue eyes practically glowed in the dim moonlight shining in through the window; they glittered with tears.
"Katie." Damon said in a gentler voice. "I get that the dream was scary but it wasn't real, ok?"
"I know that!" Katie sounded insulted.
"Then why are you crying?" Damon asked as if it was the stupidest thing he could think of.
"Because it felt real!" Katie exclaimed, but in a voice that was mad rather than upset. "Duh!"
"Did you just say 'duh'"?
"Maybe." Katie muttered and wiped her tears with the back of her hand.
They were silent for a while; Katie showed no sign of going back to sleep and Damon eventually asked:
"So now what? Do you… want to tell me about the dream you had? Will that make you feel better?"
"No." Katie shook her head.
"All right, so what do you want me to do?"
"I don't know." Katie said sourly and Damon felt himself getting irritated again.
"Ok, fine." He said, rising from the bed. "I'll just go then."
"No!" Katie cried out, making him turn back with raised eyebrows. "Please don't leave me alone."
She was looking up at him with those eyes that were identical to his own. Except for one thing: in Katie's eyes there was innocence. Innocence and sincerity that had hadn't been seen in his eyes in… A long time. Damon sighed for the umpteenth time that night and kicked of his leather boots.
"Scoot over." He told Katie and got into the bed as she moved away.
He lay down beside the little girl and she curled up into a little ball on the other side of the bed. Then she suddenly reached for his hand and a bit surprised, Damon gave it to her. She clutched it and closed her eyes, falling asleep almost instantly. Which was more than what could be said for Damon. He lay completely still for over an hour, scared that any move he made might make her wake up or withdraw her hand. Damon would never have admitted it to anyone, but his daughter wanting to hold his hand warmed his dead heart more than he would have thought possible.