The Making of Monsters
By Tenshinrtaiga
Disclaimer: I don't own the Secret Circle or the Vampire Diaries.
Warnings: Spoilers through both series. Underaged sex. Sex with biting. Biting in general.
Rated: T
Characters/Pairings: Cassie-centric, Klaus, Lexi, Stefan and Damon. Cassie/Klaus, Cassie/Damon
Notes: Written for the CWBigBang. Special thanks to my artist twisted_slinky.
Summary: Prequel to Here Be Monsters. "Battle not with monsters, lest ye become a monster, and if you gaze into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you." -Nietzsche. Cassie is 12 when she first discovers that she's a witch. But as she falls deeper into the supernatural, she begins to feel even less human and even more like the monsters she meets.

Part 4a

Cassie threw her head back laughing at the joke Stefan made. For such a serious, brooding guy, he knew some pretty good stories. Although the fact that they almost always contained Lexi was probably indicative of something.

They were lazily spending the weekend hanging out talking in his new apartment. Well, new was a bit strong. He had gotten it a few weeks after Lexi left and that was over six months ago. Stefan had chosen to stay and get to know Cassie after Lexi returned home to her boyfriend and he was still around all these months later.

"So then Lexi pretends to be completely terrified and points behind him screaming 'shark'. Of course this guy flips out and starts screaming this high pitched scream. But he turns around-"

"And realizes they're on dry land and the nearest ocean isn't for another thousand miles," a deep voice interrupted. Cassie and Stefan both whirled around in surprise at the interruption. "And I think you're being too kind when you call that guy's scream high pitched. Let's be honest, he screamed like a little girl," the newcomer said with a smirk from where he was leaning against the door frame.

Cassie looked behind him and realized that Stefan's front door had been opened near silently. That meant that this person had somehow gotten a key since breaking in would have alerted the two occupants.

There was a surprised, tense moment of silence as Stefan and the stranger looked at each other heatedly. "Who are you?" Cassie asked when she finally realized that neither man was going to say anything.

"You haven't mentioned me to your new friend? I'm hurt." The stranger pulled a wounded expression before quickly smirking once more. "I'm Damon Salvatore, Stefan's older brother," he introduced to Cassie.

"Eternity of misery older brother?" Cassie softly muttered questioningly at Stefan for a moment before drawing her eyes back to Damon. They didn't look like brothers. Stefan was shorter and bulkier with brown hair and brown eyes. Damon, on the other hand, was taller and leaner with black hair and bright blue eyes.

Of course, with vampire hearing, Cassie's attempt at a near whisper did nothing. "You have mentioned me!" Damon grinned broadly, clearly amused. He walked further into the room causing Stefan to warily stand up and face his brother. It was obvious he was readying for a fight, but Damon just ignored him. "And who is this?" he asked, staring straight into Cassie's eyes.

"No one." "Cassie," the two spoke at the same time. Cassie blinked and looked at Stefan in surprise. Stefan, meanwhile, winced and continued to stare at his brother.

"Well, that's not confusing at all," Damon said jokingly at the blonde girl before re-focusing his attentions on his brother. "So, what have you been up to, Stef?"

"Not much," Stefan said, stuffing his hands into his pocket with a shrug. "Kind of a boring town."

Damon gave a chuckle. "It's Jersey City," he replied. "You're in spitting distance of both Atlantic City and New York. I doubt its boring… Then again, you are you," he said in contemplation. "You were always a bit of a downer. You didn't even like Christmas. What kid didn't like Christmas?"

Stefan rolled his eyes. "It wasn't that I didn't like Christmas. It was that I didn't like being woken at five in the morning on Christmas morning just to watch you tear through your presents first. And then you'd start in on mine." The last part was said with a glower. Clearly, one hundred and fifty years later, Stefan was still bitter over that.

Damon shrugged. "You were always doing it wrong." He winked mischievously at Cassie causing her to giggle a little.

Seeing this caused Stefan to glare even harder. "You can't unwrap presents wrong. Just because I didn't tear through them like some sort of Tasmanian devil-"

"Tasmanian devil?" Damon interrupted with a laugh. "Where do you get these, brother? Just because I didn't carefully unfold each wrapper from the gift and then meticulously refold it for re-use doesn't mean-"

"Ripping them was wasteful!" Stefan interjected in what was clearly a very old argument. Cassie laughed at the two bickering brothers, finally drawing their attention away. "Great, now I'm craving fruit," Stefan muttered with the tiniest of pouts. Not that Cassie would dare tell him so. She had never seen Stefan act this… immature before. Then again, she had never seen him being teased by his older brother before. Usually when either she or Lexi teased Stefan, he took it with good fun, but Damon seemed to genuinely rile Stefan up. The effects of family, Cassie figured.

"Fruit?" Cassie asked in curiosity.

"Stocking stuffers during that time, especially during the War," Damon replied. It was perfectly clear to him by now that Cassie knew exactly what his brother was and by association what Damon was. "Which reminds me, who exactly are you, Cassie? Why did my baby brother see fit to blab our little – shall we call it a family secret? – to you? And more importantly," Damon sauntered up to the blonde, looking down at her with hooded eyes, "why doesn't he want me to know who you are?" he asked, stroking a finger down her cheek. "Not that I'm not grateful for the lack of compulsion or the need to censure myself."

Cassie blushed violently at his touch, earning her a chuckle from the dark haired man. Stefan quickly invaded the two's person space and yanked Damon's hand away, drawing both of they eyes.

"Since when have you ever cared about censuring your words or compelling a victim?" Stefan ground out in annoyance. He didn't want his brother anywhere near his best friend. Cassie, despite being a powerful witch and wider than any kid should be, was still, in fact a kid. She was fourteen, barely fifteen, and had little to no experience with boys let alone dangerous men like Damon. No, Stefan had to get Damon as far away from Cassie as possible.

"It's not that I have any compunction about compelling people to forget, but it's just such a hassle," Damon explained. "It's so much easier to just not have to do it at all." For the first time in a while, Damon took his eyes off of Cassie to look at his little brother. "And don't think I haven't noticed you avoiding the subject. Again. Who is Cassie?"

"Cassie is right here," Cassie said, finally getting a word in edge wise. "And Cassie is a witch, thank you very much."

Stefan nearly groaned aloud. He did not want Damon knowing that. That would just give Damon more reasons to be curious about someone that he should really not be curious about. Why couldn't Cassie just follow Stefan's lead and stay quiet?

Damon's gaze was once more drawn to the petite blonde. "A witch, huh? Feisty little thing, aren't you?" Cassie merely cocked an un-amused brow in response. She hated being called 'little' for more than one reason. Having been through so much, she didn't feel young, so she didn't like that connotation and she definitely hated any reminded of her height deficiency.

"Okay, I think its time for Cassie to go," Stefan said, stepping into the middle of the staring contest between the other two.

Cassie turned to look at him silently. She didn't like being bossed around, but she could see that Stefan was desperate for her to leave and she could understand not wanting to air the family business in front of her. She had thought that they were close enough that they could tell each other anything, but Damon was clearly a sore spot and she wouldn't begrudge Stefan some privacy to deal with his brother by himself.

"Alright, I'll see you tomorrow?" she asked with a questioning look. Stefan nodded in return. Accepting that, she made for the door, only to start when Damon blurred in front of her, blocking the exit.

"Now, why are you leaving when things are only just getting interesting?" Damon asked, his head tilted in curiosity and a smirk still painted on his lips. He was intrigued and he didn't often let his questions go by unanswered.

Cassie opened her mouth to reply before hesitating. With a wayward look back at Stefan, she closed her mouth. Stefan didn't want her in the middle of things, so she wasn't going to say a word.

Catching on, Damon scowled, glaring at his brother. "Quite a hold you have over her. Didn't know you were into blondes. What is she, like your pet witch?"

Cassie scowled at the notion that she was anyone's pet, but ground her teeth and bore the insults. Stefan was her friend, she would do what he wanted.

"Get out of the way, Damon," Stefan ground out, angered by the insult to Cassie as well. When Damon didn't move, Stefan reached out and yanked his brother out of the way. Cassie stared wide eyed as the two vampires began to trade blows.

"Stefan," she cried out when Damon got a really good hit in. She hesitated when her cry drew both vampires' attention back to her. She took a step forward to help, but Stefan shook his head.

"Get out of here!" he called out to her.

Again, Cassie hesitated. She saw a blur of motion as Damon ran over toward her, but out of nowhere, Stefan tackled him into the dining room table. Cassie didn't want to leave, but knew that she was causing more problems by staying. She quickly turned on her heel and escaped Stefan's apartment, heading home as fast as she could.

"Cassie? Is everything okay?" Amelia asked when she saw her daughter burst through the apartment like she was on fire.

Cassie stood panting, leaning against the front door. "Fine. What are you doing home?" she asked.

Amelia looked at her only child oddly. "It's my night off," she reminded gently. "Are you feeling alright, sweetheart?" She stood to go feel Cassie's forehead, but the blonde just waved her off.

"I'm peachy, promise." Cassie attempted a smile, but knew that it must have looked awkward on her face. "You know what, I think I'm just tired. I'll just go lie down and go to sleep early." Without waiting for a response, Cassie ran to her bedroom and locked the door behind her. Collapsing onto her bed, the small blonde finally allowed her heart to slow down.

Today had been a weird day. Things had kicked off alright. She had met Stefan after school and they wandered around talking for a while. She even talked him into buying her an ice cream cone in the park. Then they'd gone to his apartment where he'd listened to a message from Lexi left on his answering machine which had sparked the telling of another one of his birthday adventures with the girl.

And then out of nowhere, Damon appeared.

Damon, the mysterious Salvatore.

He was… gorgeous wasn't a strong enough word. Stefan was handsome, of course, but Damon was like a whole other category. Cassie had never seen anyone that… pretty before. Not even on tv.

And he had flirted with her.

Cassie had never really been flirted with before. Sure, she'd had guys notice her before. She kissed a few kids at her school, but there was nothing that lasted longer than a few weeks. Boys were just… boys. They were too young, too immature. She led a complicated life and it led to her growing up a lot quicker than normal kids did. Unfortunately, that left her dating prospects a little sparse. Or a lot sparse, whatever.

The point was, she had never been hit on before. Not beyond the lame pick up lines of her fellow classmates, at least. And while admittedly, she had entertained the thought of dating an older guy, she had thought high school senior, not century plus old vampire.

Not that she was thinking about dating Damon. Because she wasn't.

Stefan was clearly unhappy and Damon didn't exactly make the greatest first impression.

Who cared if he had thick black hair and crystal blue eyes and a mouthwatering body and- whatever. The point was, it was never going to happen.

Besides, what would a man like Damon want with a girl like Cassie? She was thin and pretty, she knew, but she was also annoyingly small and had a pretty serious mouth on her with the ability to piss off anyone she ever met.

There was no way in hell she'd ever end up in a relationship with Damon Salvatore. It was better to lay that particular fantasy to rest before-

Cassie nearly jumped out of her skin when she heard the sound of a rhythmic tapping noise. It didn't sound like the hollow knock of a door…

"Oh, hurry up, I'm getting cold out here."

Cassie whirled around to see the personification of her very thoughts at her window. "Damon?" she asked incredulously, automatically moving to open her window to let him in. Before she could open it, however, she hesitated. He was a vampire and clearly dangerous. This didn't seem like a smart plan. "Vampires don't get cold," she retorted with a scowl, moving away from the window.

"Maybe this vampire does," he replied with a charming grin on his face.

"Maybe this vampire shouldn't be creeping around on fire escapes in the middle of the night then," she replied with a sarcastic grin. "How did you even find me?" she then wondered, beginning to feel wary of the situation.

"Relax. I just got your address out of Stefan's address book," Damon answered nonchalantly.

Cassie cocked a disbelieving eyebrow. "And he just gave it to you?" Doubtful given how forcefully Stefan felt about Cassie and Damon being nowhere near each other.

"Stefan was a little indisposed at the moment." The vampire gave a dark grin causing Cassie to immediately worry about her best friend. "Relax, he'll live. I just snapped his neck and cracked his spine. He'll be up and about in a few hours, no worries."

That didn't sound like Stefan would be fine. Then again, he was a vampire, so that kind of injury was no problem. It did worry Cassie how casually violent Damon was, however. Especially to his own brother. "Why do you treat him like that?" she asked, deciding to go straight to the source. Stefan had told her all about Katherine and their twisted love triangle, but she wanted to hear it from Damon because despite the honesty and friendship between her and Stefan, she still felt like he was holding something back.

Something flashed in Damon's eyes for a moment. Cassie barely caught it, but it looked like rage. "Thought you knew all our deep, dark secrets," Damon replied, a smirk dancing on his lips. "I'll tell you, but how about you open up this window first?" When he noticed Cassie hesitate, he laughed. "You don't have to invite me in, I'd just like to talk to you better."

Thinking this out, Cassie reached forward and opened the window. It was a good point. Vampires could enter unless they were invited, so she was reasonably safe from Damon.

"How much has Saint Stefan already told you?" he asked, once they could easily see and hear each other. Cassie perched on her window sill opposite him so that she was looking diagonally into his face. She quickly gave him a run through of Stefan's confession. Damon raised an impressed eyebrow. "He told you a lot. He must really like you." A speculative look entered Damon's eyes as he appeared to mentally reassess her. But before Cassie could ask, he hastily began his own tale. "The first thing you need to understand is I loved Katherine. Who had her first? Well, that's just semantics. It doesn't matter, not really, not to me at any rate. I loved her. Wholly and with everything I had. Stefan… well, he's convinced she compelled his love. And who knows? Maybe she did. But I was there for all of it. I knew from the beginning what she was, what her friends were. And I loved her still. I begged Stefan not to tell our father what she was, but Stefan was convinced that he would help us. Our father has never helped another person a day in his life. It was Stefan's fault that Katherine got captured. And if that wasn't enough, Father shot us in the back for daring to consort with vampires. Better we die than to let us shame our family with the truth. With that, we were in transition. But with Katherine trapped or dead, I wanted to die… but Stefan forced me to turn with him. I loved her. I didn't want to live without her." Damon took an imperceptibly small, shaky breath. Cassie barely caught the movement, but pretended she didn't for his dignity's sake. "And that is why I vowed to torture my brother for an eternity." He turned to look her square in the eye for the first time since his story began. "Not exactly the picture perfect tale you thought it would be, huh?"

Cassie shrugged. "I never thought it would be a happy little story. Stefan told me most and what he didn't say, I could guess the rest. Still, I wanted to hear it from you."

Damon sneered. "Why?" he asked, his tone turning ugly.

Cassie blinked at him in surprise. "Because your side deserved to be heard," she replied in a tone that said she thought the answer was obvious.

He blinked in response to that. No one had ever said anything like that to him before. No one had ever cared what his opinion was, not since he and Stefan were children. No one had ever wanted to know. It was always about Saint Stefan and what he wanted. And then came this wisp of a girl asking Damon questions and digging up memories that he had long since buried and then she had the balls to say she was doing it for him.

In a blur of speed, Damon had ducked under the window, crossing inside her room. Cassie stood up with a gasp of shock. "You tricked me," she whispered, startled. Her hand was up in a defensive manner, though she knew she had no hope of physically taking on a vampire. "How are you in here?"

"It's an apartment complex," he replied with a sneer. "You don't own the place. No invitation required."

"Then why did you wait outside my window? Why did you answer my questions? Why not just break it and come in?" she asked, tipping her head up violently. She refused to show an ounce of fear in her body language, though she knew her eyes were giving her away. She knew quite a bit of magic, but nothing that could help; nothing that could be used against a vampire. Stupid Klaus. This was probably his fault. Still, Klaus didn't know about her father's book and there were a couple of nasty little surprises in there that she could use against Damon. Although, she wasn't sure how well they'd work against a vampire. If she got out of this okay, she was ringing Klaus and yelling his ear off for not teaching her any anti-vampire spells.

"I wanted to talk to you first. See what my brother saw," Damon admitted easily, taking a predatory step forward.

"And did you?" Cassie proposed, half curious, half stalling for more time.

He paused, thinking about it. Yes, he did see what Stefan saw. This girl… she was something special. The way she saw deep into a person; into their very soul. She rooted around and found the truth and didn't allow anyone to try and hide anything. And what's more, she didn't judge. She knew the deep ugly truths of Damon and Stefan's past and yet, she remained friends with Stefan. Even now with Damon pressing forward, she was scared, but there was no judgment in her eyes.

He took another step toward her so that he was right up against Cassie, caging her against her wall. He vaguely noticed that her arm was still bent as if to try and fight him, but he took no notice. What was she going to do against him? What could she do? Nothing.

But instead of attacking her like he had originally considered, he chose to reach out and gently touched a strand of blonde hair, completely startling the young girl. "Yes," he whispered, finally answering her question. "I suppose I do." And then he swooped down and kissed her.

Cassie froze in complete shock. What the hell just happened? Half a second ago, she was fearing for her life, about to call on some pretty dark magic to break every bone in his body. Then, out of nowhere, he went and kissed her. What the hell?

It took another second for her to respond.

After all, she had just been fantasizing about it before he turned up at her window. She had better take advantage of this complete lapse in sanity before things returned to normal and she was forced to run for her life.

And his kiss… was like fire. Like her lips were burning off, like she should run away.

She admittedly didn't have a whole lot of experience with guys, but she had enough. Enough to know that this was likely to be the best kiss of her life. Enough to know better than to back away. Enough to know to reach up and thread her fingers deep into his hair and pray that this never ended.

Damon pulled away with a startled gasp, his eyes wide. He looked more shocked by the kiss than she did. Cassie was leaned back against the wall, mostly using it to stay standing as her knees threatened to give out on her and her head attempted to regain its previous clarity. The two looked at each other in equal surprise, but before she could say anything, he had blurred away, leaving her alone in her room once more, the only sign that he'd been there was the chill from her open window and the fiery sensation still plaguing her lips.

"My life… is ridiculous," she whispered breathily, her fingertips reaching up to touch said burning lips before her legs finally gave out and she sank to the floor.

"I am telling you, Stefan, as a girl, that Cassie will love it!" Lexi near squealed as they patiently waited for the elevator to make its way up to Cassie's apartment floor.

"I'm not saying she won't like the gift, I'm just questioning whether she'll want to spend the day with us. Maybe she has other birthday plans," Stefan pointed out, adjusting the gift bag in his hand.

"Like what? We're her best friends and she knows how much I love birthdays," Lexi said as they exited the elevator. "Plus, I called Amelia to make sure there weren't any family plans either and she said that Cassie didn't want a big thing for her big day."

"So what are we doing here?" Stefan asked.

Lexi shook her head solemnly at her best friend. "My birthday plans are typically, what? Rambunctious, crazy, loud-"

"Illegal," Stefan interjected helpfully.

The blonde gave him a sarcastic look, but said nothing. So what if maybe her plans tended to be illegal? It was all in good fun. "The point is, Cassie wanted low key, so I made the birthday plans low key. Besides, movie night is like our thing!" Lexi cheered before quickly knocking on the apartment door. They waited a minute before it opened. "Hey, Ms. Blake."

"Hello, Lexi, Stefan." Amelia opened the door wider and let them inside. "She's been in her room for a while so I know she hasn't left. I'll just grab my coat and head to work." Amelia smiled. She was so happy that Cassie was finally making some real friends and while admittedly, Amelia wished they were closer to Cassie's age, beggars couldn't be choosers. She reached out for her jacket and put it on, grabbing her purse too. She turned to her daughter's best friends. "Have fun," she said with a smile and a wink before leaving the apartment.

Stefan put his gift on the living room coffee table while Lexi set down the movies and arranged them in the order that she wanted them to be played. Then the duo made their way further into the apartment, intent on tracking Cassie down and forcing her to have a movie night with them.

They reached Cassie's room and were surprised to see that there was no light shining through from underneath the door. Lexi shot a look at Stefan who shrugged in return. Maybe Cassie went to sleep early? Lexi checked the time on her phone. Super early. She shot Stefan another weird look, but gently opened the door and simultaneously flicked on the light switch.

"SUR-prise?" both Lexi and Stefan cried out. They had started exuberantly (or as exuberantly as Stefan got), but catching sight of Cassie's room, ended up trailing off in confused uncertainty.

"What the hell?" Stefan finally managed to spit out as his brain attempted to put together what he knew with what he was seeing. There, lying on the bed, was Cassie. Okay, normal. There, lying on the bed next to her, was Damon. Not normal. "I mean, seriously, Damon. What the hell?" he finally said, anger building inside once he realized what was going on.

"Relax, Stefan," Cassie said, attempting to soothe her best friend. She sat up from where she had been half laying on Damon, locked in a passionate kiss.

"Relax?" Stefan sputtered, unsure if he had even heard her correctly. She knew how he and Damon felt about each other. "You don't know what Damon's like," he tried to reason.

Cassie shrugged. "I know enough. I know what's important. The rest we'll figure out in time."

"Time?" the brunette vampire asked incredulously, reaching near incoherency. Cassie had never seen Stefan this off balance before. She had to admit, it was rather funny. If Damon's smirk was anything to go by, he agreed. "So, wait. Are you two… dating?" he asked uncertainly, the incredulous tone still coloring his tone.

Cassie and Damon exchanged startled glances. They had never put a label on their relationship, mostly because that would involve talking about it, which neither seemed too inclined to do. "Yes, brother, we are," Damon finally said, reaching a decision.

"Since when?" Stefan asked, even more confused than before.

"Couple weeks." Damon shrugged nonchalantly.

Stefan's mouth popped open a little bit and words seemed to escape him. Cassie and Damon had only met a couple of weeks ago when Damon showed up in Stefan's apartment unannounced. Had they been dating the whole time? Had his efforts in keeping Damon away from Cassie only serve to make him want her more? Was this Stefan's fault?

There was an awkward silence as they all waited for Stefan to respond, but no words came out.

"Well, I think you just broke Stefan," Lexi finally piped up. "Okay, so happy birthday!" she cheered, ignoring Damon for the moment. She wasn't particularly fond of Damon but she didn't have all the emotional baggage that Stefan did. "Stefan and I are surprising you with a movie night. Obviously, we were the ones who ended up surprised, but hey! That's life." She grabbed Cassie's hand and dragged her out of the room, grabbing Stefan too when it appeared as though he was still in frozen shock. Damon followed the trio out as well. Lexi gently pushed Cassie to sit on the living room couch and Damon quickly sat next to her before Lexi could coax Stefan into sitting. The blonde vampire pouted lightly, but sat Stefan on the arm chair which was not so coincidentally, the farthest seat from his brother. "These are our gifts to you." Lexi pointed to the coffee table. "Stefan got you the movie snack kit complete with every flavored candy and popcorn imaginable. I am telling you right now, I have dibs on the caramel popcorn," she said seriously. "And my gift is the complete set of totally awesome movies in multiple genres that I know for a fact you have not seen yet. Tonight's movie night begins with a selection from France called Amélie."

When Lexi stood up to turn off the lights, Damon took the opportunity to lean down and whisper in Cassie's ear. "You didn't tell me it was your birthday."

"It's not," she whispered back. "Technically, my birthday is next Wednesday, but they wanted to make a night of it. I thought Lexi was coming over next weekend, not this weekend though. Sorry," she said apologetically.

Damon nodded thoughtfully.

The group started to watch the movie and Stefan slowly began to come out of it. He began to give sidelong looks at Cassie and Damon. Damon had admitted that they were dating, which generally speaking was very un-Damon. He preferred to keep things casual. Even the way they were behaving was un-Damon. Damon had his arm wrapped around Cassie's shoulders and she was snuggled into his side comfortably. Damon didn't like snuggling or cuddling or any of those things. The only time Damon touched someone was A. for sex B. to make them uncomfortable or C. to kill them. Cassie was officially D. none of the above. This didn't make sense with any of the information Stefan knew about his brother for the last one-hundred and fifty years.

"So, how old are you turning?" Damon whispered into Cassie's ear, making sure that the other two vampires couldn't hear them.

There was a short silence before she replied. "Fifteen." Cassie hadn't realized that Damon didn't know how old she was. She had assumed that Stefan had told him. She wondered what else Damon didn't know about her.

Damon gave an imperceptible start as he turned to look at her. Cassie refused to meet his gaze, her cheeks already beginning to blush. She didn't feel young so she was always embarrassed when her age came up. It was even worse because Damon was older than her. Not just in vampire age, but physically too. She figured that Damon was turned in his mid-twenties, give or take and she wondered how he would take the news.

Damon blinked and seemingly processed before giving a light shrug and turning back to the movie. He didn't like Cassie for her looks, not that she wasn't attractive. But he liked her for the way she saw him, the way she understood him. Age didn't factor into the way she looked at him like she was looking into his soul, so it didn't particularly matter to him either.

Cassie let out a small, relieved breath when it seemed like Damon was willing to just accept their age difference. She gave him a small smile and rested her hand gently on his knee to show him that she was thankful for his answer. The responding squeeze he gave to her shoulder illustrated that he understood, causing her to smile harder. For some reason, she and Damon just… clicked.

Stefan watched this all from the chair and began to wonder if there wasn't more to their relationship than what he had assumed was his brother taking advantage of a young teenage girl.

"Are you sure you want to do this?" Cassie asked four days later as she and Damon made their way to her apartment. "I can already guarantee that this won't end well."

"Tch," Damon replied. "Parents love me. Especially mothers." Cassie took a second to glance over her boyfriend. In dark jeans, black boots, a black v-neck and a leather jacket, it was hard to picture any parent happy with him dating their daughter. She did buy that mothers loved him though. MILFs, at least. Then Cassie shuddered at the thought and quickly turned her attention to her front door, lest her mind wander into treacherous territory.

"Mom! I'm home," Cassie called out as soon as she walked in. "There's someone I'd like you to meet."

Amelia appeared, exiting her bedroom while simultaneously putting earrings into her ears. She was clearly getting ready to leave for work. "Happy birthday, sweetheart. Who do you want me to meet?" she asked pausing, though her eyes were already trained on the stranger in her apartment. She remained in the hallway that led to the bedrooms, standing right next to the kitchen as she looked into the living room.

"Damon, meet my mom Amelia Blake. Mom…" Cassie hesitated. "Meet Damon Salvatore, my… boyfriend."

Damon took note of her pauses and raised an eyebrow in her direction, but put on a charming grin. "Ms. Blake-"

"Cassandra. Skyler. Blake," Amelia ground out, interrupting Damon's attempt at an introduction. "Are you out of your mind?"

"Maybe you were right," Damon muttered to Cassie. This didn't look like it was going to end well afterall.

"How old are you?" Amelia demanded before quickly turning her attentions back to her daughter. "How old is he?" Once again, her attention flipped back to Damon. "You are too old to be dating my daughter! She is fourteen, did she tell you that?" Her head turned to Cassie. "Did you tell him that?"

"Technically, she's fifteen," Damon corrected. It was Cassie's birthday, after all. Amelia's unhappy look illustrated that she did not like being corrected and that whether Cassie was fourteen or fifteen, Damon was still too old for her daughter.

"How old are you?" Amelia demanded once more.

"Twenty-three," Damon replied, giving the human appropriate answer. Somehow, he got the feeling the honest answer of one hundred and sixty eight would have earned him a slap in the face.

"Twenty-" Amelia cut herself off. She felt like she couldn't breathe. Oh, dear God. Cassie had always been such a difficult child growing up; always mouthing off, giving constant attitude. But for the most part, Cassie had grown out of that phase by the time she turned thirteen. Amelia knew that Cassie was due in for some teenage rebellion right around now, but Amelia had just hoped that it would be something tame. Like wanting a piercing or a tattoo. Or maybe to join a nice biker gang. She did not expect this.

"Mom," Cassie said slowly, seeing that her mother was on the verge of a panic attack. "Calm down," she advised.

Amelia flew off the deep end. "CALM DOWN?! MY BABY GIRL IS DATING A PEDOPHILE!" And with no other way to let out her anger, she grabbed the nearest object – a frying pan – and hurled it at Damon's head. Damon's eyes widened in surprise before he quickly dodged. Cassie's mouth, meanwhile, had popped open in complete shock. Her mother had never had a violent outburst in her entire life. "I AM CALLING THE POLICE!" Amelia screamed, reaching for the phone.

Damon suddenly realized that he had to step in before things got really out of hand. In a blur of movements, he had crossed the living room and had grabbed Amelia's wrist from where it was heading toward the phone in the kitchen. Amelia turned to yell at him some more when her eyes caught his. "You are not going to the call the police. I am not a pedophile. I am your daughter's boyfriend and you are going to accept that," he compelled.

Cassie gaped, unsure how she felt about Damon compelling her mom. It took a moment for Amelia to settle down though, even with the compulsion. "Well, at least you're not pregnant," Amelia said, still under the haze of Damon's vampire powers. "But I suppose I should hold off on that 'congratulations' until after you've graduated. Or turned sixteen." Amelia herself had gotten pregnant at sixteen and hadn't been able to graduate, instead earning a GED. "Crap, look at the time," she said, suddenly noticing how long it had been since she came into the room. "I'm late for work." Amelia grabbed her coat and headed out the door, not even looking back as she left her daughter alone with her much older boyfriend.

There was a tense silence as soon as Amelia was gone. "Told you mothers loved me," Damon finally said, itching to break the quiet. Cassie looked at him in disbelief before giving a weary sigh and heading toward her bedroom. It wasn't as though they'd had a lot of options and her mother had been completely freaking out.

Damon hesitantly followed her into her bedroom, unsure if she wanted him to stay or go. She had asked him to come home with her to spend time alone together for her birthday. He had been the one to suggest introducing himself to her mother. It was a stupid idea, now that he thought about it, but at the time he had wanted to show Cassie that she was important to him. After Katherine… after he was turned, he wasn't very good with feelings and had a hard time articulating emotions like that, so he had hoped that by ingratiating himself to her mother, she would understand what he meant. And plus, he thought it would be funny to meet her mom. From an outsider's perspective, he supposed it was funny, but from where he was standing, it just seemed like a colossal mistake.

Cassie shed her backpack and threw it into the corner near her desk. With a groan she flopped back onto her bed.

"Cassie?" Damon asked, trying to hide any apprehension he felt as he stared down at her.

Cassie looked up at him, taking a moment to assess him, before giving a sigh and patting the bed. Taking the invitation, he slid in next to her, leaning back against her headboard as she shuffled backwards to that she was laying back half on top of him, the back of her head resting on his chest. Damon took the initiative and grabbed both of her hands, entwining their fingers and resting them on top of her stomach.

"I'm not mad… I think," she finally said. "I just… want to understand." Damon looked down at her in confusion, but only saw the top of her blonde head. "Why do you use compulsion? In what situations do you use it?" she asked, snuggling further into him as if she were about to hear a good story and not about to start a discussion on morality.

"As a vampire, compulsion is a necessary mechanism in ensuring the secrecy behind the supernatural," Damon stated formally, still a little unsure of where this was going. "In other words, it's how we keep humans from questioning things they really shouldn't be."

"But you used it against my mother and she didn't know about the situation," Cassie counteracted.

"When you're given the power to bend people to your will, you don't end up just using it to cover up your hunting. I tried doing things the nice way," Damon tried to defend, "but she wasn't having it. So I had to resort to compulsion to make her stop freaking out."

Cassie remained silent for a minute. "Okay, let's talk about hunting then." She turned around so that her chin was now resting on his chest and her big blue eyes were looking up into his. "Tell me about compulsion as it goes along with hunting."

Damon blinked, unsure of what she was searching for. "Vampires typically hunt in one of two ways. Either they find a victim, feed and then compel the victim to forget, also known as 'snatch, eat and compel' or they simply feed until the human dies."

The petite blonde tilted her head. "And which do you do?"

"Both," Damon replied with very little hesitation. He was beginning to wonder if even Cassie knew what she was digging for, but he wasn't going to lie about what he did. He was a vampire, vampires killed.

"Why do you kill when you can simply 'snatch, eat and compel'?" Cassie asked, un-phased by his admission.

"Why do you kill animals for meat?" Damon counter-argued.

"Because we need to. To eat and survive," she replied easily. She didn't want this to turn into an argument. She just wanted to understand Damon better, to know why he did what he did, what reasons he had behind his decisions.

"No, you don't. You could go vegetarian," he pointed out with only the smallest hint of snide in his voice.

Cassie paused a moment as she thought on his words. "Is that really what its like for you to kill a person?" she asked. Is that how he saw all humans? As animals, meat, nothing more than something to be consumed. Is that how he saw her?

"You don't understand what its like." Damon sneered. Despite not seeing or hearing any judgment coming from her, he was still defensive of his words, worried of how she would see him now.

"I do," Cassie disagreed softly. She felt oddly… apathetic to the conversation. She wanted to understand and she didn't want to judge him. Cassie wondered if she had spent too much time in the supernatural where things like mind control and death seemed perfectly nice and normal to her. "I've killed. But I'm not asking about me, I'm trying to understand you."

Damon looked at her, a little startled. Intellectually, he knew she was a witch and as such was more exposed to his world, but still, to hear that she had killed someone. That had surprised him. But at the same time, it hadn't. He could see it in her eyes. She didn't enjoy death, but she knew what it meant. Yes, he could believe that she had killed. And he could believe that she would be capable of doing it again. "You don't apologize to a cow, do you?" he asked, returning to the subject.

"But that's different. They're not sentient, I mean not the way humans are" Cassie rebutted, pleased that he was willing to go along with her questions and not prod into her secrets.

"How do you know that? Because they can't communicate with you?" Damon asked with a small laugh.

The blonde witch in his arms took a moment to ponder that before making a cute, scrunched up face of disgust. "…Well, I guess I'll be going vegetarian."

Damon gave an amused smile and placed a kiss to her temple. "How do you know plants aren't sentient?" It was mostly a tease, but Damon paused to allow her to consider this. "Don't apologize for what you are. This is nature; it's the food chain. You can't change it, I can't change it. It just is."

Cassie took another moment to absorb his words before an amused smile crossed her lips. "Is this your way of saying 'it is what it is so stop asking questions'?"

He shook his head while simultaneously nuzzling into her neck. "No, it's my way of saying I'm not going to change. Can you handle that?" he asked, withdrawing enough to look her in the eyes questioningly.

Cassie's lips twitched lightly into a fond smile as her hand reached up to gently comb through his hair. "I would never try and change you," she whispered softly.

Damon gave a small relieved smile, but before she could call him on it, he'd ducked down and kissed her fiercely on the lips. Soon, Damon rolled them over so that he was the one laying on her. Cassie brought her knees up to cradle his body as her hands roved up and down his back and into his hair. Damon withdrew from her lips to make his way down her neck, teasingly nipping at her choroidal artery. She giggled lightly, but all laughter was lost as she gave into the pleasure. Damon reached the top of her shirt, stretching it as he made his way to her chest. He was moving slowly, giving Cassie plenty of time to protest if she wanted to. Luckily, she didn't want to.

As Damon sucked and nipped and tongued the tops of both her breasts, Cassie twined her hand into his hair, tugging when she wanted more. After a few minutes, he withdrew, looking at her seriously for a moment. He would never ask for permission, at least not out loud, but she knew that was what he wanted. Cassie gave him a smile and he knew what it meant. He gently peeled off her top before going back in for another kiss.

"You're sure?" he asked in between kisses, wanting to make absolute certain. She was only fifteen and he was a hell of a lot older than that. He was a jerk, but he wasn't that kind of a jerk.