The Dirty Thirst

Damon had been watching him closely, watching for signs that he would completely fall off of the wagon but as usual Stefan was trying to be a martyr. Stefan would have them all believe that he was fine, but he was so not fine it was unreal. As usual Stefan denied his cravings and tried to fight it. When would he learn that in order to get the monster off your back you had to confront it in order for it not to get the best of you?

"Right now is not a good time for me to be worrying about you snapping Stefan." Damon emphasized as Stefan smiled on at him smugly and shook his head. He had been trying to get through to him all day and Stefan just wasn't hearing him. Right now John Gilbert had the council in his pocket and they were all in danger because of it. Stefan was so inside his head, he was clueless. Damon held his eyes for a minute, trying to make his point more emphatic.

"I know that it pains you, to see this…but I'm fine." Stefan leaned in and squeezed his shoulder. Damon gave out a laugh of disbelief and humour. "Ok? I'm fine." Damon raised his eyebrows and nodded in jest as Stefan reached into the freezer of blood that he had stolen from the hospital. "So just do me a favour and back off." Stefan smiled with warning tones in his voice, before walking away and leaving Damon to put his hands on his hips and exhale in frustration as he looked at how much blood Stefan had stock piled.

He was going to have to watch him like a hawk, while trying to placate Elena and deal with John and the council. No small task then. Thanks a lot brother. Since when was it his responsibility to look after everyone? Saint Stefan should be the one to do all of this running around. As much as he had jested and tortured Stefan about his high sensibilities, the thought that that part of him might be taken over by the ripper again, horrified Damon. This wasn't just a case of Stefan being moody and acting out for a while. When Stefan fell off the wagon he fell hard and the last time he had fallen so hard that Damon hadn't been able to cope and had to flee. That wasn't an option now, not when there were so many people here to care about and protect. If he had too, he might have to lock Stefan away or take him away from Mystic Falls. He couldn't risk Stefan losing it completely here, not with Elena so close at hand. He closed the freezer and leaned against it as he tried to plan.

He had had to tell Elena. She needed to know what was happening here. Of course she hadn't wanted to believe him but she couldn't deny what her own instincts were telling her. Stefan had been mad at him for that, but screw him. He couldn't have known Stefan would go on a rampage and feed on Amber in the woods while he danced merrily along with Elena, pretending not to be concerned. He had pushed Stefan and Stefan had fallen completely. Damon fretted and tried to appear cool and confident for Elena as they headed out into the grounds of the Lockwood property. Elena insisted on coming with him. They heard a scream from the woods and ran following the noise to find Stefan feeding from a screaming, half conscious Amber. Elena cried out horrified and Stefan dropped the girl.

"Come on, get control of it, come on." Damon had lulled him, putting his body between Stefan and Elena warily as he tried to get Stefan's brain working. "It's ok, come on. Breathe through it man." He stepped closer and tried to squeeze Stefan's shoulder as Stefan became panicked and distressed, blood running out of his mouth as he drew in deep gasps and hyperventilated. Stefan looked at him as though he didn't know who he was and that set Damon's heart thundering.

"Stefan, calm down brother, just breathe for me!" Damon said with a little more fear in his resolve as Stefan continued to stare at him panting. Suddenly Stefan lunged forward and grabbed him, biting into his neck painfully. Damon choked in surprise and held Stefan to him, trying to get control of him and push him away but Stefan threw him into the air a few feet away from him and Damon groaned as he hit the ground. Elena was sobbing and Stefan continued to pant. Damon got to his feet unsteadily and looked towards him again. Stefan was staring at him with a look Damon had never seen before. Stefan was hungry for him. Damon shook himself a little in confusion, trying to clear his head. Stefan had drank from him. What the hell? What was happening? Stefan growled and began to march towards him and Damon shrank back for a second.

"Stefan stop it!" Elena cried in fear but Stefan only paused as Damon frowned and tried to read his body language.

"Brother…" Damon put his hands out trying to calm him but Stefan bore his fangs at him and dove for him again. He knocked Damon into the tree behind him and Elena screamed. Stefan kept snapping at him, trying to drink from him again and Damon struggled against him. Stefan had drank so much human blood today, it was like fighting against a titan and Damon knew he was going to lose.

"Elena! Get Bonnie!" Damon shouted urgently and she ran as fast as she could as Stefan's eyes clouded over with hunger and he bit into Damon's neck again. Damon growled furiously but Stefan forced him against the tree, crushing him as he drank until Damon began to weaken. Stefan was like a rabid animal as he moaned and dripped blood all over the two of them, until he started to scream and let go of Damon as he fell to his knees and grabbed his head. Damon leaned back against the tree weakly while he tried to gather his wits and Stefan screamed on. Damon looked over as two figures approached and he groaned as he struggled to stay on his feet.

"Damon!" Elena shouted and he gave her a weak nod to say he was ok. Stefan began to sob and grabbed Damon's ankle desperately and Damon looked down into his face. Stefan looked up at him begging him to help stop the pain and Damon sighed in fatigue. He looked up to Bonnie.

"Stop! He's had enough. I've got him." Damon called to her but she looked at him sceptically as he pushed himself off from the balancing tree behind him and tried to stand up straight and confident. Stefan was whimpering by his feet and still holding his ankle like a stabiliser. "Enough!" Damon shouted with more authority this time and Bonnie begrudgingly took a step back and dropped her eyes to the ground to break the spell. Stefan collapsed and hugged Damon's legs as he breathed. "Thank you." Damon said in gratitude but she scowled at him, shaking her head and walked back to stand by Elena, putting her arm around her. Elena was shaking and watching Stefan with eyes full of tears.

"It's going to be ok brother." Damon lulled and Stefan slowly got to his feet staggering slightly. He turned to look at Elena. She looked beyond horrified and heartbroken and he couldn't take the expression on her face. He began to panic again and looked to Damon's neck, to how badly he had hurt his own brother. He let out a remorseful sound and Damon tried to speak to him again. He couldn't be here. He had to get away. He backed away and ran as fast as he could away from the mess he had created with Damon shouting after him.

He ran all the way home as though he was on autopilot. It felt good to run, it helped him control himself. Exercise had always been such an aid to helping him in the past. Maybe if he just kept running it would be ok. He got into the Boarding House and climbed the stairs to his room as fear and revulsion washed over him. What had he done? He'd almost killed that girl. Elena had seen everything! Elena looked so disgusted. She was never going to be able to forgive him! He began to throwing things around his room wildly. Everything was ruined!

He fell onto the floor and put his head between his knees as he tried to breathe. Damon. Damon had tried to calm him down and he had attacked him. No…more than that. Stefan raised his head as he replayed it all in his mind. He hadn't just attacked Damon, he had drank from him. He exhaled loudly as he shook his head. Why had he done that? He'd bitten into his neck and began to feed and it had been amazing. Damon hadn't tasted so different from the human blood. It had made him want more. He began to weep and freak out internally as he replayed the satisfaction he had gotten from drinking from his own brother, pinning him against a tree and drinking him until Damon couldn't resist any longer. He let out a sound of anxiety as he realised how aroused he had been, how much desire he had had to take Damon's last drop and drop him to the ground to desiccate. What the hell was wrong with him? Damon wasn't food, Damon was his brother!

"Oh my god…" He cried, putting his head between his knees again. He was so deep in his own misery and despair that he missed the sound of footsteps creeping up the stairs towards him. He looked up sharply when he smelled her scent.

"You shouldn't be here." He said, trying to calm himself. She still looked frightened but she was trying to be brave.

"I know."

"Now you know." He said bluntly. She shook her head sadly.

"That wasn't you."

"No it was absolutely me. I'm a monster, a predator, it's who I am Elena."

"That was just the blood."

"The blood brings out what's inside of me and if you think any different then you're an idiot."

"I know this isn't you Stefan." She continued, unwilling to believe and he scoffed and stood up.

"I wanted to drain every drop from that girl's body…from Damon's body."

"No…"

"It's who I am Elena!" He was getting frustrated again.

"This isn't you." She said emphatically.

"Stop saying that!" He roared, knocking over a table next to him as he began to pace. "You don't understand, you don't know what you're talking about!"

"I'm not going to give up on you. I believe in you!" She countered, approaching him as he growled and fidgeted.

"Stop!" He warned and she took a step closer again. She was too close. He could smell the blood under her skin and he knew he wouldn't be able to stop himself from going for her much longer. He had to scare her enough to leave. He dove at her and shouted. "Stop!"

She screamed and shed some tears as he pinned her against his wardrobe and he pulled back to see her fear and pain. It ripped through him like a tornado. He pulled back to arms length and realised what he had done and he softened as he felt like sobbing.

"I'm sorry. I'm so sorry…" He began and she shushed him and put her arms around him as he sobbed against her shoulder.

"You're going to be ok." She whispered comfortingly and he closed his eyes. He exhaled into her shoulder as she raised her arm and stabbed him with a vervain needle. His whole body jolted in surprise and he choked as he pulled back to look at her. He couldn't hold on long enough to utter a word before he felt himself slip into unconsciousness. Elena looked down at his body mournfully as Damon stepped into the room. They made eye contact and Damon gave her a reassuring smile.

"Are you ok?" She asked, looking at the bloodstains all over his clothing. She hadn't known a vampire to feed on another vampire before. It had been so strange and Damon had seemed just as confused an unprepared for it as she had. Damon gave her a small smile and nodded as he looked to Stefan.

"What happened out there?" She asked, looking Damon over for signs that he may need to feed. He looked paler than usual. Could a vampire die by having their blood drank?

"Vampire nature 101." He said. "You sure you wanna do this?"

"Yip." She said confidently. "I wanna lock him in the cellar until we can dry him out. We have to get him back on the animal blood again before we lose him." Damon nodded and sighed. He moved forward and leaned down to pick Stefan up. He seemed to groan a little at the effort and Elena watched him closely.

"Do you need blood? It looked like he took a lot from you." She commented as Damon carried Stefan down to the basement and lay him down.

"I'm fine."

"Damon. Was that normal?" She squeezed his arm and he looked at her and frowned.

"We're vampires Elena. We hunt, we play with our prey and then we feed. Think of us like cats in that fashion. Amber was just in the wrong place at the wrong time."

"No, Damon he bit you." She held his gaze as she raised her eyebrows. "Is that normal?"

"There is no normal for a vampire. I stood in his way so he went for me. It's as simple as that."

"Yeah but he drank from you. He let me escape and run to Bonnie while he fed on you." She pointed out and he tightened his expression.

"He was hungry. The thirst takes over your brain. Don't worry about it, I'm fine." He offered, hoping she would drop the subject. Truth was, he had no idea why Stefan had done that either and it made his stomach churn with worry. She seemed unhappy with his explanation but she nodded anyway and gave him a tight smile as they ascended the stairs together and left Stefan to sleep it off.

The next morning Stefan awoke alone in the cellar and he groaned as he rolled onto his back feeling nauseous. She had vervained him. He groaned miserably. His head thumped as though he had the worst hangover in the world.

"Morning brother. How's the come down?" Damon approached the bars on the door and looked in at him. Stefan sat up slowly and avoided his eyes. "Brought you some breakfast. It's 100% Stefan diet approved." Stefan continued to stare at the ground and ignore him. "You know what'll happen if you don't eat. You'll get all rotten and crusty."

"I'm not hungry." Stefan mumbled quietly and Damon snorted.

"Of course you are. We're eternally hungry. The human blood should be gone by now, you wanna explain why you're still in here feeling sorry for yourself? Come on, drink up." Damon pushed the bottle of animal blood through the bars and onto the floor in front of Stefan's feet. Stefan looked at it and let the veins in his eyes protrude, but he didn't reach for it.

"What's wrong, Bambi not tasty enough for you now that you've tasted the good stuff?" Damon smirked and pointed to his neck jokingly. Stefan looked up at him in horror and Damon's smile disappeared. They looked at each other for a few seconds as an air of unease filled the space between them. Damon cleared his throat to end the silence and smirked again, trying to brush off how uncomfortable he felt right now and Stefan looked down at the floor again.

"Fine. Starve. What do I care?" Damon said sarcastically and went to walk away.

"Damon." Stefan mumbled and Damon paused and exhaled. He turned around a walked back to the window. Stefan looked up at him nervously.

"I'm sorry. I don't know what happened."

"I'll tell you what happened Stef, you fooled yourself into thinking you could harvest a whole ward worth of blood in our cellar and drink it all yourself, in spite of how many times I warned you this would happen and then you almost blew our cover!" Damon sneered and Stefan gulped.

"I know."

"Good for you. Happy days! Now get over yourself and come out and face the music brother because we have problems down here on planet earth and I'm tired of babysitting your girlfriend." Damon pulled open the bolt on the door and opened it huffing impatiently. Stefan got to his feet slowly and looked to him.

"I can't. I'm not in control."

"Boohoo. Get control and stop feeling sorry for yourself." Damon sighed bored as Stefan took a deep breath and chewed his lip. "I keep telling you, you can't control the urges until you accept that they are part of you. They're normal Stefan. The more you fight that, the harder you make this for yourself."

"It's not as easy as that!" Stefan snapped at him and Damon sighed again. "How am I supposed to vent this? How am I supposed to replace the need to hunt and bite into someone's flesh? Huh? You've got it all worked out so why don't you tell me? Oh, that's right, you can still drink human blood. Hooray for you!" Stefan fumed and clenched his fists as Damon leaned against the wall and listened to the tirade.

"You could drink it too, you just need to learn not to drink everyone in sight." Damon said calmly. The events of last night replayed in Stefan's head again as he relived drinking from the girl and then from Damon too. He hadn't been able to stop.

"I drank from you." Stefan said gravely and Damon tensed a little. Were they really going to talk about this? "I drank from you." Stefan emphasised again, trying to get a response from Damon.

"Yeah I was there for that part." Damon said sounding irritated, folding his arms across his chest.

"I don't know what happened."

"Hmmn." Damon sounded frowning.

"I just…I had all of this adrenaline and I needed to get it out. I needed to feed and do something. I thought I might explode if I didn't. You were there." Stefan said, avoiding his eyes as Damon studied him. Drinking another vampire's blood was a very intimate act. It was akin to sex when both parties shared their blood. Thankfully Stefan had felt no such urges or connection with Damon, he merely had to feed on someone and Damon had been right there in front of him. A few moments passed in silence as neither of them knew what to say.

"Did it help?" Damon asked, finally breaking the tension. Stefan sat down on the sandbags behind him and sighed.

"Yes." It really had helped him. It was lucky that Damon had been there. At least he knew that he couldn't kill him by feeding on him. If he hadn't been his new prey it could have been Elena and he would certainly have killed her. He let out a puff of air as he thought on it. Damon clicked his tongue and sighed.

"Ok." Damon said calmly and Stefan looked up at him.

"Huh?"

"Use me."

"What?"

"When you feel yourself slipping and you need to hunt and feed, feed on me."

"What are you talking about?" Stefan laughed in disbelief but Damon's expression was calm and clear.

"I need you above ground right now, not hiding down here Stefan. If the urge to drink from a person becomes too much for you to control, feed on me. You can't kill me and I'll heal."

"Are you serious?!" Stefan stood up horrified and Damon huffed in annoyance.

"You think I want you to feed on me? Of course I don't! But I can't have you running around ripping people apart and ruining our cover. It's either this or I have to put you down for a while in the crypt." Damon was angry, angry and frustrated and Stefan's heart raced as he saw how serious Damon was being. Stefan opened his mouth to speak but nothing came out as he tried to figure out what to say, how to respond.

"What's it to be?" Damon stepped towards him, his arms still folded confidently and Stefan took a breath to speak again.

"Ok." He squeaked.