Work summary: I have turned Alaric a couple of times in fic and thought it was time I actually explored what vampire life would be like for him and Damon. This will literally span a hundred years or so, eventually, and I will just add a chapter for each year I write (though I swear not to go all sci-fi on you, and can promise there will not be one hundred chapters).
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Essentially a series of one-shots which will eventually reveal multiple character arcs and everything from smut to crack to angst and back again.
Goes AU from roughly halfway through S3. This means a few things which may or may not become significant; for example, the Gilbert rings don't have the negative effects they have in canon, and anyone killed in season 3 is probably still alive.
Enjoy, and if there is something you'd like to see explored, one of these years, let me know.
Disclaimer: I don't own anything you recognise here. If I did, this would be canon.
Chapter summary: They tell no one where they are going: they just go. When they get back, Alaric is a little cooler to the touch. Includes telling council members who must be told, taking Elena to college, and meeting Alaric's parents.
Chapter warnings: Mild slash, a bit of schmoop.
Damon and Alaric disappear for a long weekend as soon as school lets out for the summer and Elena's graduating class has had their ceremony. Alaric has resigned from his job at the high school, though this is not yet common knowledge, and has relinquished his loft; half of his stuff is packed into boxes in a storage unit and the rest is at the boarding house where he has, for all intents and purposes, been living for the last few months.
They tell no one where they are going; they just go. It shouldn't be interesting enough to prompt speculation but it does, because Mystic Falls is boring, when no one is trying to kill them.
"What do you care? Damon probably compelled them a penthouse hotel room. They're fucking each other's brains out as we speak." Caroline gives a lascivious grin, looks at everyone from beneath perfectly black curved eyelashes.
"Gross, Care," says Tyler, though his pulse quickens. He's fooling no one.
"I think it's hot," she says. No need to make things harder on Tyler than they already are. Across the dining hall at the Grill Jeremy busses tables and Tyler watches because he has no other option.
"Weird for them to leave without saying anything," Bonnie muses. "Last time they went off for a dirty weekend Damon said he was going to tweet about it. All weekend." She shifts in her seat. "He didn't, though."
Elena says nothing. She knows. At least she suspects. They never left the boarding house.
When they do reappear, on Sunday evening, Alaric knocks on the door of the Gilbert house, which he hasn't done in years; and Elena opens it wide. He is a little paler, and she imagines his touch must be a little cooler. He moves with a fraction more grace, grins a little easier. Elena speaks before Alaric gets a chance to.
"I'm drinking vervain," she says, but she's smiling. "Until you have the hang of this." She has always been more observant than people give her credit for. "Come in," she adds, and when he crosses carefully over the threshold she wraps her arms around his waist and hugs him tight.
"Thank you," he says, and lands a kiss on the top of her head.
Damon watches from the door with an expression that makes Elena fear for canaries everywhere.
They drink coffee and speak in soft voices. "I'll never know, now if I could have done this for Stefan," Elena says, stirring the artificial creamer she favours, adding too much milk.
"He'll be back," Damon says. "And when he is – we'll help him. Whatever it takes."
There's stuff to do. No one is suggesting they go and announce to the council that there is another vampire in their midst but Liz most be told, of course, and maybe Carol. Liz of course being a friend and a fellow vampire hunter. Carol being one prone to conspiracy theory and also poisoning suspected hidden vampires.
Liz first, though, as she is at least somewhat sympathetic to their situation and also inexplicably fond of them both.
Damon has a look in his eye. He is ready. He's too ready, looking forward to this. Alaric grins, but it's a rueful grin; not looking forward to the look on Liz Forbes' face. Disappointment, perhaps. Anger, possibly. She might decide he needs staking.
Good luck. She'd have to go through Damon first.
"Ready as I'm gonna be."
Damon knocks and it's Caroline who opens the door, with a bright smile. She is about to speak, but she falters, and bites her lip.
"Crap," she says. "I can't invite you in. Dead, you know."
Alaric flinches. "Don't say that," he insists; he says this to Damon, too, sometimes. "Your heart beats. You do things. You think, Caroline." He doesn't give Damon time to disagree. "Sometimes, anyway. You're not dead."
Caroline shrugs. Not big on introspection. "Same rules apply. I'll get mom."
Liz looks uncharacteristically relaxed in an oversized red shirt instead of her uniform, and prettier than she thinks she is with her eyes big and walnut-coloured and her blonde hair untidy. "What are you doing out there?" she asks, with a strange twist to her lip, a cautious smile.
No easy way to say it.
"Waiting for an invitation," Alaric says.
There is a flash across Liz's face. Grief, perhaps. They've had a complicated relationship, she and Alaric, but they are friends, they know too many of each other's secrets, too many of everyone else's, as well. "No, Ric," she says, and Alaric flinches and nods. Takes a step away from the door.
"You know where to find me, if you need me," he says, as he turns.
"That's not what I meant." Liz crosses her arms, shifts her weight from foot to foot. "Are you… okay? Under control?"
Alaric nods, holding her gaze. Liz casts her eyes down and away. Alaric takes a step back, pulling gently at Damon's sleeve. Nodding away from the house. They both know what he's saying, but Damon doesn't want to back down.
"Council loses Ric, it loses us both," he says. Trademark smirk tucked away for later use, and storm clouds collecting above his eyes. "Don't be an idiot, Liz. If it wasn't for me and Ric everyone on the council would be long dead by now. How many monsters have you killed?"
Caroline takes a step towards Liz, catches her elbow in her hand. "Mom," she says, a quiet reminder that prejudice can be overcome. "You did it for me."
Liz nods. "Come in, Ric," she says, and steps back.
Alaric falters, but follows Damon inside. Damon is busy trying to make things better, or worse, or something. "If it'll make it less weird, we could always recreate the absinthe night. Found a case of sloe gin in the cellar. No hallucinations, but I guarantee you'll be so drunk you won't care who's a vampire."
"Something I don't need or want to hear about," Caroline says. "Anyway, if you're plotting against vampires, I should probably be elsewhere." She's a rainbow flying out the door, off to meet friends. Their last summer together before they all head off to separate colleges.
Liz boils a jug for coffee, but Damon steers her to a chair at the dining table and opens one of the bottles of wine he brought, instead. "I mean, really. Do you need the caffeine?"
She shrugs, as Damon finds three glasses that are roughly the same size and shape.
They are silent there at the dining table for some time.
"What happened?" Liz asks, at last.
"I chose this." Alaric says, smiling in a way he hopes makes him look not like a predator, but like a man who really did that, really made a choice. "I chose, Liz. And I'm not leaving. Mystic Falls needs the council and I'm sorry, but the council needs some strong arms on it."
"Is that why?"
"Maybe reason number four, on a short list." He shrugs. "But it's a factor."
Liz shakes her head again. "I just… why else? Why would you, of all people?"
(The night of Liz's homemade absinthe, that was the night Alaric told her about Isobel, leaving him to become a vampire; Damon admitted his own part in it, and Liz had looked from face to face with incredulity in her eyes. But because the wormwood had captured their imaginations, lithe green fingers in their brains, it had been hilarious, instead of tragic. Tears had poured down their faces and Alaric had declared them all fucked up.
Liz had laughed so hard she made a snot bubble out of her nose and said that if Bill and Steve had a better origin story she might have wished them well, instead of researching voodoo for a year.)
Halfway through the second bottle of wine things get more relaxed and Liz seems to resign herself to yet another new reality. "No free passes, Ric," she says. "You kill anyone, you're done. I'll stake you myself."
"I kill anyone, Liz," he agrees, "and I'll hold still while you do it."
The following night is the first Council meeting since Alaric's change. Carol greets them at the door like the Southern Belle she was raised to be and invites them in, courteously, as she does every time and without a second's hesitation. She's distracted, but Carol is always distracted, and doesn't notice Alaric moves a little differently now.
After the meeting, at which it is declared that Mystic Falls is quiet, still, as it has been for months, she rings a little bell and a young man and two young women arrive with plates of canapés and a selection of aperitifs. Alaric sniffs suspiciously at the drinks and mutters a complaint that aperitifs always taste like aniseed.
"You like liquorice."
"I do like liquorice. I just don't like it in my drinks." Alaric skims for something malt based and, finding nothing, settles for brandy.
The council members drift way one by one until Damon, Alaric, and Liz are all who are left.
Carol kicks off her heels, unbuttons the top button of her blouse, and pours herself a large glass of cognac from the second–to-top shelf. "Help yourselves," she says. "I sent the help home."
She's more fun like this than she usually is. Having determined some months back that the likelihood she'll ever sleep with either Damon or Alaric are slim-to-none she has been quite cheerfully sloppy in their presence, and generally a good source of entertainment. The trailer trash might be buried beneath three layers of Chanel and a pair of silk stockings but the woman knows how – and when – to let her hair down.
Damon pours bourbon for himself and Alaric and a vodka tonic for Liz. Liz and Carol bond briefly over the trouble with supernatural teenagers, their worries about letting them leave Mystic Falls for college.
"Rhode Island," Carol says. "It seems a long way. But he has talent and he got in. If his father was alive…" Carol sighs, and doesn't say what they all don't say: Tyler is supposed to run the mill, but he won't, not ever.
"Los Angeles," Liz adds. "Further than Rhode Island. UCLA. Caroline was born for it. Think there are a lot of vampires in California?"
Damon swirls the bourbon in his glass. "Not since Buffy cleared it out," he says, and smirks at the blank looks. They are all silent a long moment.
"Some days I think I miss vampires," Carol admits, pouring another brandy.
"In that case, I have good news," Liz says.
Carol narrows her eyes.
"Meet vampire Alaric," Damon says, and Alaric gives a dry wave. Carol sits up straighter a moment. Her eyes hold Alaric's concerned, wary, though not alarmed, which is nice, and then drift to meet Liz's. Liz shrugs.
"What's one more?" she says, and then "Caroline and Tyler are managing to not kill anyone. As far as I know."
Carol shakes her head and then sinks back in her chair.
"Should have seen that coming," she admits. "Seems it's all the rage."
It's the last they say about it, for now.
Ten weeks later Damon and Alaric drive Elena halfway across the country to the tiny liberal arts college she has chosen.
(She and Alaric had pored over catalogues and consulted Google Earth for weeks before Elena made her final decision. In the end, it had been easy. "Ever heard of Henton College?" she asked a few people. No one had.
Damon and Alaric help Elena move into her dorm, help her conceal weapons where no roommate is likely to stumble upon them. They explore the whole campus identifying potential hidey holes and weak spots in the school's security. They compel the security staff to pay particular attention to Elena's building.
Outside the fitness centre Alaric reads the schedule. "Women's wrestling, women's boxing. You should sign up." Elena looks incredulous but Alaric is firm; "You'll keep your training up?"
"You know I will." Elena rubs at her temples, shakes her head. "My dads are Marines," she groans. "Vampire Marines. Would you just go home? No one will ever want to be friends with me. You two are scary."
"Actually, good idea," Damon muses. "Permanent bodyguards. What do you say, Ric? Plus, women's wrestling. Works for me."
Alaric contemplates for a long moment. "Think we should leave her to it. This is supposed to be Elena's shot at a normal life."
"Thank you," she says, and she hugs them both. "Now, please, go away."
In one of the diners that serves the college population Damon and Alaric eat rare steaks for dinner and snack on a very attractive young couple for dessert (Damon takes the girl – says the boy is too hairy even for him). They send the couple away hale and whole, and looking more than a little horny, if a touch pale.
They find a hotel and Alaric compels them a suite. Damon gives Alaric a blow job in the spa and fucks him hard over the back of the lounge. Alaric returns the favour on a bed which is smaller than they're used to, but big enough. He bites hard into Damon's shoulder as he comes, and Damon swears a blue streak because life is too perfect. They tear at each other until the sun comes up, doze a while, and drive the long way back to Mystic Falls.
The best sort of lazy Sunday morning in bed and Alaric is quiet. Damon licks the back of Alaric's knee and mouths lazily up the side of Alaric's thigh, pausing every now and then to demand to know what Alaric is thinking about.
"It's nearly my birthday," he says at last.
Damon thinks for a moment and then kisses his way up the knots in Alaric's spine, feels Alaric shift and resettle beneath him.
"You want to do something." It's not a question. "What did you have in mind?"
It's a deliciously weird plan and Damon is all for it.
Alaric idles the car a few houses away from his parents' home. Damon says nothing.
"I'm starting to think this is a really bad idea," Alaric says. Damon says nothing.
"Maybe I should wait a few more weeks," Alaric says. Damon says nothing.
"You know, they'll be dead, soon," Alaric says. "Maybe they'll just die, and I won't have to…"
Damon says nothing.
"What do you want me to say?" He has a tone, he knows he has a tone, but what, precisely, that tone is, he doesn't know.
Alaric switches off the ignition. "Talk me into this. Or out of it." He flinches. "Tell me you won't let me eat my parents."
"I won't let you eat your parents." Damon leans back against the seat of the rental car. They'd picked one with every stupid additional creature comfort, right down to the heated seats. Totally unnecessary for a pair of monsters who simply don't get cold, but it had amused Damon no end to think of it. "You didn't eat the annoying woman at the check-in counter. Why would you eat your parents?"
Alaric gives a half smile, and then sighs.
"Talk me out of this."
Damon shakes his head. "No," he says. "I've never been brought to meet parents. Can you believe that? Me. Such a catch. And yet."
Alaric snorts, and it's a snort that speaks volumes. He still has a lot to learn about Damon. Damon doesn't mind. They have plenty of time. "Ever wanted to meet parents?"
Damon thinks about it.
No, he hasn't, but he's never wanted to keep someone, before, either. This seems like such a normal thing to do that it is positively debauched. Meet parents. Hi, parents! Or shall I call you Mr and Mrs Ric? Your undead son and I had sex at a rest stop between the airport and here. He seemed stressed, but he's more relaxed now. You know how that goes. The secret is this spot below and behind his ear. You lick that just right, and… It's a really terrible family comedy waiting to happen, or, depending on how it goes, John Carpenter's new straight-to-video oeuvre. Fantastic.
Wonderful. Meeting parents. You do this. You shake the dad's hand and you tell the mom she doesn't look a day over thirty herself. You tell them you brought a bottle of wine (carefully selected so you know it's what they prefer to drink) and that you hope they like – shudder – unwooded chardonnay.
This will be a little different. For one, Alaric's parents are old. Alaric's father is eighty, his mother not far behind. His mother has dementia and is unlikely to have a clue what's going on. His father tires easily and they will be staying in a hotel, rather than cause any stress.
(Alaric told Damon once that his parents referred to him as a miraculous gift, but that privately, he thought of himself as more a horrible shock.)
Damon realises Alaric is actually waiting for an answer.
He shrugs. "No," he admits. "But I want to meet yours."
Alaric still doesn't move.
"They'll have to invite us in. It's not my home, anymore," Alaric says, and he sounds a little sad.
"C'mon, Ric," Damon says, nudging Alaric's shoulder, pushing him. "You think I wanna listen to you bitch for the next thousand years about leaving it too late?"
Every time he makes a joke like this Damon has the odd sense of his nerves rearranging themselves across his shoulders and forehead. The next thousand years. Optimistic, of course. The fact that vampires are hard to kill is effectively balanced by the fact that a lot of things tend to want to kill them.
Still. Could happen. A thousand years. More.
Awesome. Damon snakes a hand across the gap between the seats. Runs his finger across the back of Alaric's arm and finally teases the hair at the base of Alaric's skull.
"Tell me it's not because I'm sporting a Y-chromosome."
Alaric laughs softly. "No. It's not that. I'm… I'm a vampire, Damon."
"Yes. You are. I was there when it happened." Damon smirks.
Alaric stills again. "Do you think they'll know something's different?"
Damon considers. "Breathe," he says.
"I'm doing the best I can, here…"
"No, I mean, try to remember to breathe. Not just when you're speaking. We're… very still. Or…" Damon considers. He's a ball of barely constrained energy, most of the time. Alaric is the still one, contained. Languid.
Languid. Terrible word, that. Makes Damon think about sex. Sex. Sex.
Parents can wait. Hotel first, parents another day. Languid. Limbs.
Fuck. Focus. "It's going to be fine, Ric. You're as neurotic as Caroline."
Alaric starts the car, chuckling as he does it. "No one's as neurotic as Caroline," he says, and they park in the driveway of the elder Saltzmans' home.
By some miracle Alaric's father is close by the front door when Alaric knocks and he opens it, with a smile, and he says, "Don't just stand there, come in, come in. Both of you," and Alaric breathes out. Across the threshold he puts his arms around his father and Damon feels a vicious stab of jealousy. Imagine being so easily accepted, he thinks.
Alaric's father is almost as tall as Alaric, taller than Damon. His eyes look vital, intelligent. Very much alive, though Damon knows he is dying. If Alaric had continued, human, he'd look just exactly like this in forty-five years.
There is a smell of decay. A cancer, somewhere. Cancer has a smell. Even dogs can smell cancer.
When he pulls away from Alaric he holds a hand out to Damon. "Damon, is it? Very happy to meet you. Call me Ed. My son has a type, don't you, son? Your mother's asleep," he adds unnecessarily. "We'll sit out the back."
His accent is pure Boston, far thicker than Alaric's. Damon wonders why.
The day is warm, or warm enough, and the back yard is full of cats. The cats keep their distance. No surprise. Dogs can be remarkably trusting, but cats recognise a predator easily enough.
The nurse, Natasha, brings tea. Earl Grey. Damon approves. Of the tea, and the nurse. She's spunky. Efficient. Legs to her armpits. Alaric catches him looking, and smiles.
"You seem a little different, son," Ed says, cautious.
"Perhaps." Alaric pours tea into what is no doubt the good china. "But like you say, things are always different."
"Progress," Ed says, and Damon notices Alaric only fills his cup to halfway. The shake in Ed's hand would make it impossible for him to manage a full cup.
The nurse comes back, this time with an ashtray, and a pipe, and a tin of tobacco Damon instantly recognises as one he favoured during his years in London. He opens his mouth to speak, and the nurse shuts him up.
"Don't you start," she says. "Why quite smoking at eighty? Americans think they can live forever, if only they do what they magazines tell them." She has quite a harsh South African accent, and that seems to complete the ensemble nicely. "Ridiculous."
Damn snorts. "I was going to ask if Ed had a pipe I could borrow. But now I'm worried you might feed my testicles to one of the cats, so maybe I won't."
Mollified, Natasha puts a hand on her hip. "There are spares. Alaric?"
Alaric shakes his head. "I'm good."
Yes, you are. Damon smirks. "Where's the bathroom?"
Damon follows Alaric's directions but before he finds the bathroom he finds Alaric's mother's room. She is awake, just barely, and she looks worried. She still bears traces of the woman she was fifty, sixty years ago. A stunner, Damon suspects, and her hair is the colour of fine silver.
"Are you the doctor?" she calls. Damon takes a cautious step into the room.
"I'm a friend of Alaric's."
"Who is Alaric?"
Well, shit. Damon takes another step inside the room.
She seems to have forgotten he is there, for the moment, anyway. She has her finger caught in a loop of wool on the blanket, and that seems to be upsetting her. Damon crosses to the other side of the bed to help her unloop it. Touching her hand, and her finger, like that's okay to do. Like that's something nice and normal. Her skin feels like onion parchment. "Alaric," he says. "Your son. Do you remember?"
Damon has next to no experience with old people or children. He might as well be trying to wrangle a tiger. Also, he thinks, he shouldn't be here. At all.
Alaric's mother – Dianne, Damon suddenly remembers – squints. "I used to know a little boy called Alaric, I think. Are you here to take a blood test? You're always sticking me with needles…" She looks disappointed, and a little upset, though pleased to have her hand free of the blanket.
You can't cure disease with vampire blood but you can slow it, and you can treat the symptoms, for a little while. He turns away and lets his fangs descend, cuts into his finger. Settles his features back to human. "No. Medicine," he says. "Close your eyes and open your mouth."
She does so, unquestioning, trusting. Damon acts before he can think better of it, puts a little blood on her tongue, and then slips out of the room. In the bathroom, he washes his hands and looks at himself in the mirror for a long moment.
That might have been a really dumb thing to do.
He returns to the porch to wait for the fallout, listens to Alaric and Ed talk about Dianne's condition.
Natasha comes outside after a little while, frowning, arms crossed. "Well, perhaps she heard your voice, but she's back," she says. "Don't get excited. It won't last. Still come and speak to her, before she goes again."
Ed and Alaric go inside and Damon follows behind. Hovers awkwardly in the doorway.
Dianne is lucid, if disoriented, and Alaric leans to hold her tight, while she can still manage; she seems shocked he's there, but pleased. Alaric settles by her side, sitting on the very edge of the bed, his fingers tangled with his mother's, and Damon feels another stab of jealousy. Far greater than the first. He lost his mother the day he gained Stefan and that loss was the greatest loss, until the loss of Katherine eclipsed it. Which is stupid.
"This is Damon," Alaric says, and Dianne smiles.
"He seems to be a very good doctor," she says, and Damon smiles, and has to get away. He returns to the porch, to sit on the step and drink the tea that is now nearly cold.
"You couldn't look more uncomfortable if you had a live scorpion hanging off your nose," says Natasha, leaning in the doorway.
Damon shrugs. "Got that pipe?"
Natasha sits by his side, producing the pipe and the tobacco. He smiles his thanks, and expertly packs the pipe, lighting it and puffing gently.
"You seem a little young for a pipe." Natasha's voice drips knowledge. She knows he is not that young.
"I'm an old soul," Damon says, and puffs again.
"I know. I see that." Damon tries not to narrow his eyes but Natasha doesn't shift her gaze. "I know what you are."
Damon curls his lip. "That had better not be a threat. I don't take well to threats."
Natasha nods. "Your sort never do. Still I see kindness in Alaric, nothing but that. He wouldn't choose to be a monster if he didn't have ample reason to trust."
Damon's heart stutters. He puffs, and puffs again, the chocolate flavour of the tobacco encompassing all. You never know who you'll meet in the wide world.
"How can you tell?"
"The women in my family are witches, for the most part. Not me." Natasha pulls her cardigan tighter. "But I know enough. I'd best get back to work," she says, and rises to her feet.
"You won't tell them." It's not a question.
Natasha shrugs. "They'll be dead within the year. Why trouble them?" She turns on her heel. Pauses a moment, holds Damon's eyes in her own. "What you did for them, just now. It was good."
Damon nods, and Natasha heads away.
In the hotel Damon unlocks the door cautiously, and wonders if Alaric has noticed Damon is avoiding his eyes. He lets the door close with a click behind them, dropping an overnight bag by the foot of the bed. His eyes watch Alaric cross the room and open the sliding door to the terrace, twenty floors above Boston's bustle. Alaric stands at the railing, just looking, still as still. Not breathing, either, Damon thinks, as he watches.
After a while Alaric takes a seat on one of the long rattan deck chairs.
Normally if anyone can see through Alaric's big dark eyes and into his squishy brain it is Damon but this appears to be Residual Human Stuff so Damon does what he can, which is open the bottle of wine sitting on the side table and grab a couple of glasses and go outside and pour drinks. He slips silently onto the terrace as he does it. He is silent, while Alaric swirls the wine in his glass.
"How long could…"
Damon shrugs. "Indefinitely."
The wine is gone before Damon speaks again, not an hour but not much less. "She wouldn't want that. You wouldn't. Your father wouldn't, either."
Alaric shakes his head. "No. Still, I got this. Today. Might be the last time I see her. Probably be the last time she sees me, anyway."
They are silent a good deal longer, stretched out as the sun goes down and the air cools, until Alaric whispers "thank you, Damon."