As I promised, next chapter before Thursday. It might take a little while before I update, though. I know that the chapters are short but it's done on purpose. I can't write too much in each chapter. Think of it as "scenes" rather than as a whole story.

Seriously, I've never had so many reviews in so little chapters. Keep going!

Damon empties another glass of bourbon before he sits down on his couch. It's been a week since Stefan left town and he still hasn't called. Damon may not admit it out loud but he's starting to worry about his brother. And he hates to even think this, but Elena's timing for telling Stefan that she had feelings for his brother was really bad. Stefan was ready to do anything to find a cure for her, and it makes Damon feel even guiltier that she chose him in the end. The mix of happiness and sadness within him is not a good thing. So he drinks, all alone in his house. It's better than being at the Mystic Grill, where he could easily snap at anyone trying to push his buttons. Since this morning he's been avoiding Elena's phone calls, and Damon knows it won't be long now before she comes over to see what's wrong with him. There is no right answer to give her.

"Thanks, Lee. It was nice seeing you."

"Take care of you, Stefan. You're welcome here, anytime."

"I'll come back soon."


The two men shake hands, and Stefan jogs back to the car, where Katherine is waiting for him. When she sees him, a smile lights up her face.

"Hey. You didn't take long."

"Well, I promised him I'd visit him more often."


Stefan wishes he could have introduced Katherine to Lee, but he's pretty sure Lexi had made a negative portrait of her to her boyfriend. Four years later, Lee still hates Damon's guts for killing Lexi. And it's understandable. Stefan himself will never forgive his brother for killing his best friend. Lexi wasn't fond of Katherine even though she had never met her personally. She had just heard Stefan's stories and to her it was enough to spread the word that Katherine Pierce was a heartless bitch. Stefan doesn't know Lee very well; they've seen each other a few times over the years. But the loss of Lexi brought them closer. Maybe next time, and if Stefan is still with Katherine, he'll make the introductions.

"Where do you want to go next?"

"Katherine… I'll understand if you leave, you know?"

She looks at him with a raised eyebrow.

"What do you mean?"

"Well, you've been listening to me complaining about Elena and Damon for a week now, you practically carried me every night into our hotel room because I couldn't walk straight and I almost puked on you the other night. I'd understand if you were fed up with all this and wanted to leave."

To his surprise, Katherine bursts out laughing, and after a few seconds he can't help but smile.

"What? What's so funny?"

"You! You are, Stefan. You really think I'm fed up with you? C'mon, it's been a while since I've had so much fun!"

"Oh, I can't believe that," Stefan says as he drives away from Lee's apartment. "You are the definition of fun, Katherine!"

"Don't flatter me, Salvatore. You're still buying first round tonight!"

Stefan doesn't answer, but the smile doesn't leave his face the whole time they're on the road.

Caroline slumps down on the couch in her living-room with a letter in her hand. Her name is written on the envelope but she has no idea from whom it is. It is not Klaus' handwriting. She opens it quickly and starts reading.


I'm sorry I didn't answer your calls. I guess I needed some days for myself, without having to worry about Mystic Falls. Don't try to reach me on my phone, it has no battery left. Don't worry about me; everything's fine. I'll write more to you in a few days. Take care.

Your friend,


The blonde vampire sets the letter down beside her and sighs. At least Stefan is still alive. He did not say where he was, but it doesn't matter. She hesitates: should she call Elena? Damon? Finally she decides not to tell anyone that Stefan wrote to her. She's not sure he'd want her to share the information.

"Damon? Damon where are you?"

"In here."

Elena frowns at his slurred answer. She speeds up to his bedroom and opens the door. Damon is lying on his bed, shirtless, face buried in his pillow. Immediately she notices the empty bottles next to the bed. She sighs loudly and enters the room.

"Seriously? It's three p.m. and you're drunk. Nice job."

"Don't speak so loud," he whines.

Silently, she sits down next to him and tentatively runs her hand through his short hair. At last, he looks up and meets her eyes.

"Don't do that, Damon."

"Do what?"

"You know what. Stefan will come back. You're his brother and he loves you."

"I stole his girlfriend away from him. He hates me."

"You didn't steal me. I just happened to… return your feelings. We are not responsible, Damon."

"I'm a crappy brother."

"No, you're not."

"He just wants to help you, to save you."

"And so do you. Look, I love Stefan but it's not the same as it was before. I died, Damon. I became a vampire. As much as I hate it, it's what I am. And I couldn't lie to Stefan, not after everything we've been through. So I let him go, and he let me go. I know it's gonna take some time, but we will have our chance together."

Damon finally takes Elena's hand and pulls her towards him. She doesn't resist.

"Do you think he'll hate me forever?"

"He won't, Damon. He's upset; we all are. I just wish I knew where he was, and with whom. I don't want him to feel alone."

"What if I teach you how to feed properly?"

The question comes out of the blue and takes Stefan aback.


"Your problem is that you can't control yourself, Stefan. I can help with that. I'm stronger than you. Every time I'll feel like you're losing it, I'll pull you back. We have time. We can start slowly. It's not like we have anything better to do anyway."

Stefan expected to reject the idea immediately, but to his own surprise, he doesn't. He ponders on Katherine's words. What if he could control himself around human blood? Then he could help Elena. He could be more free.

"That would be great, Katherine."

She smiles at him and holds out her hand:

"Shall we begin our first lesson?"

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