Title: Love's Fool

Summary: Elena made her choice and Damon kept up his end of the deal. He left Mystic Falls more than a year ago and he hasn't looked back since. Now the Original stake has gone missing and suddenly they need him again. But Damon has no intention of playing their whipping boy anymore and this time he has a powerful ally on his side.

Spoilers: Everything through the S3 finale.

Pairings: Delena is the plan but you never know. I'm not the biggest Elena fan at the moment.

Disclaimer: If I owned Vampire Diaries there would be a lot less of Damon getting left to die heartbroken and alone. As it is, I can only hope to vent my frustration by punishing those characters responsible.


He was smiling when the phone rang. Not a smirk, not a grin, not a fake curling of lips to cover the hidden pain…a real genuine smile. It wasn't the first one either. He'd done a lot of smiling these last few months. As insane as it sounded, for once in his god-forsaken undead life, Damon Salvatore was actually happy. Who'd have thunk it? Of course, when he pulled the phone out of his pocket and glanced down at the name on the screen that same smile turned into a grimace. Life wasn't meant to be all sunshine and roses after all. Here came the rain and the weeds.

"Who is it?" the beautiful brunette he'd been smiling at a moment before was now pouting at losing his full attention. She plopped down on the stool beside him and leaned in close to look at the screen.

"Your lover boy, actually," Damon drawled. "Wanna answer it?" He tossed the phone down on the counter and reached for his half-full tumbler of exquisite bourbon. Something told him he was going to need the liquid fortification.

The brunette smirked as she ran her fingers through the short black curls at the base of his neck. "You really want him to know you're with me? He'll think you've defected to the dark side." Her fingers danced on his neck and her lips were a whisper away from the shell of his ear as she purred. "Don't forget, Damon, I'm a bad bad girl."

"Hard to defect when you already live there," Damon told her as he reached up to remove her hand from his neck and placed it harmlessly on the bar. "I'm the evil brother, Katherine. Hanging out with you would just be living up to my potential."

Katherine Pierce rolled her eyes in disgust as she thought about the merry band of Mystic Falls misfits. "Self-righteous little assholes, I honestly don't know how you put up with them as long as you did."

"I was still in my tragic love phase," he chuckled.

The phone finally stopped ringing when neither of them reached to answer it. Katherine pursed her lips and stared at the gadget as if it would bite her. "You realize he's going to call back. We're not that lucky. The world must be coming to an end if he's desperate enough to call you."

"Or maybe he just wanted to invite me to the wedding," Damon said. He turned to face the brunette and cocked his head to the side. He wiggled his eyebrows suggestively. "Wanna be my plus one?"

"Eww…" and a comical facial expression were her only reply.

Damon couldn't help but laugh. It'd been a year and counting since he'd packed his bags and taken Katherine up on her offer to skip town and Damon honestly hadn't regretted the decision once. He and Katherine still fought like cats and dogs and she still pouted and bitched that he wouldn't hop into bed with her, but somehow the two of them just fit. She was one of the few people alive who truly knew him. She was his sire, his first real love, and they shared a bond that could never truly be broken no matter how hard they tried. Besides, in the end who else did they really have but each other? Certainly not his saintly brother, Steffy was still living out his epic love with his soulmate in Mystic Falls.

Speaking of baby brother, Damon's phone started to ring again. Katherine snarled and crossed her arms over her tastefully accentuated chest. "I am not watching your idiot brother marry that whiny little doppelbitch."

Damon's answering grin held an affection that would have shocked most of the residents of Mystic Falls. "You can dress yourself up in mourning," he teased.

"Please," Katherine said, "how many times do I have to tell you I'm over it? I thought your brother would be more fun as a vampire, boyish and charming with a zest for life. As it turns out, he's just annoying and broody both on and off the wagon." She raised her eyebrows haughtily, "my doppelbitch is welcome to him. They can sit around and cry together."

Still grinning, Damon shook his head and reluctantly reached for the phone. Unfortunately Katherine had been right before. Their luck seemed to be running out and Stefan would just keep calling until he answered. Damon pushed the button and placed it to his ear. "Big evil speaking, how can I help you?"

"Damon, why the hell didn't you answer your phone?" Stefan growled. "We've got a serious problem and we need your help. How soon can you get back home?"

Now Katherine's eyes narrowed as she listened in to the conversation. "That shithole is NOT your home. Your home is with me."

"Touching," Damon said, "but not the point." He turned his attention to his brother. "What's the problem, Steffy? It better be cataclysmic or you're on your own. I have my own life to live."

"Are you talking to someone?" Stefan asked annoyed. "It's not like I come to you often for help, Damon. The least you could do is pay attention to me."

"What…is…the…problem?" Damon asked again.

"Someone stole the stake," Stefan admitted reluctantly. "I know what you're going to say but save it. We kept it safe and hidden. There was no way someone should have been able to locate it."

Damon ground his teeth together, "and yet they did." He hadn't wanted to leave the stake in Mystic Falls when he left, but he'd been seriously outvoted. Against his better judgment, Damon had given way to the others. Now, as always, it was coming back to bite him in the ass.

"There's no guarantee that they wouldn't have found it on you, Damon," Stefan insisted. "We're almost positive witchcraft is involved. Bonnie thinks Esther's up to her old tricks. She's been having dreams about her."

"Fabulous," Damon drawled, "those two do have so much in common after all. They're both witches and bitches."

For once Stefan let the jab pass without comment. "We've also found symbols around our houses, ways witches apparently marked their targets in the old days. Someone's coming after us all. We need your help. You have just as much at stake here as we do."

Damon rolled his eyes at the unintentional pun. "Where's Klaus?"

"What do you mean, where's Klaus? We can't trust him to help us."

"Have you been sniffing paint, Stefan?" Damon said. "I mean, we need to warn him to watch his ass. If he dies, we die. Get it?"

There was a pause before Stefan spoke again. "We don't have a way to contact him, Damon. He left town right after Bonnie restored his body and put him back in it. That was part of the deal. But I guess we can ask Rebekah if she has a way. They haven't been on the best of terms."

Now Damon's expression turned incredulous. "Barbie Klaus is still in Mystic Falls?"

"Where else did she have to go?"

"Hell?" Damon said. After her fucked up stunt on Wickery Bridge Damon had been more than ready to send her there himself and he'd had just the stake to do it with at the time. Fortunately for the Original bitch she'd gone to ground before he pulled himself out of his grief and went after her.

"Look, I'll talk to Rebekah," Stefan said, "just get back here."

"Whatever," Damon hung up the phone and slammed back the rest of his bourbon. He closed his eyes and propped his head on his fist. Mystic Falls was the last place Damon ever wanted to see again. He hated even thinking about it. But what choice did he really have?

"Looks like the shit's about to hit the fan," Katherine drawled as she leaned against him and rested her head on his shoulder.

Damon could feel it already. The weight was settling back on his shoulders. That town was sucking him back in like a black hole. He hated Mystic Falls and everything it stood for. He hated what it represented, what it turned him into. In Mystic Falls, Damon was the evil brother everyone loved to hate. They all sat up on their pedestals in their glass houses and looked down their righteous little noses at him. In Mystic Falls Damon would always be that asshole psychopath who rolled in on a cloud of bad attitude and tried to eat the town. Nothing he did would ever matter. They would always be better than him. Just ask them. There was no redemption, no wiping the red off his ledger. There was only room for one Salvatore hero in Mystic Falls and Damon was well aware it would always be Stefan.

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