AN: Still haven't caught up in The Vampire Diaries but here's the next one anyway :)
Damon leaned heavily against the bars in an effort to peer around at Stefan. He gripped the bars tightly between his knuckles, struggling to catch even a glimpse of his younger brother. Stefan had gone quiet except for the laboured breathing.
"Stefan, what's going on? Stef! Stefan!"
The water was so cold. It was rising steadily around him and he gasped desperately for breath. Stefan beat his fists against the steel sides, panicked.
The bars of Stefan's cage rattled as he pounded against them. Damon looked toward the basement door anxiously; Wes was going to hear him.
"Stefan, you need to calm down!"
The older vampire reached a hand through the bars, attempting to angle his arm to where he could reach the younger but it was no use. The angle didn't work and Stefan either didn't notice the attempt or was ignoring it.
"Come on brother," Damon let go of the bars and dropped again down to the opening in the wall between their two cells. He slid forward on his stomach and stretched his hand as far as he could.
It occurred to him that Stefan wasn't seeing the dirt walls and steel bars any longer. His brother had been off ever since getting his memories back and it took Damon till now to remember that; Stefan thought he was back in the water.
"Stefan, it's not real!"
Can't breathe. Need air. Help me. Need to get out. Damon. Elena. Damon. HELP ME.
"C'mon, Stef, listen to me! You're not in the safe."
Damon moved his hand around, trying to feel around for Stefan. He needed to pull him out of his head.
Stefan's breathing has become a full blown panic attack and blackness was creeping in around his vision. He stopped pounding on the safe as his energy began to leave him. Unknowingly, he stepped back from the bars.
Damon felt Stefan's foot brush against his hand. He grabbed on to the fabric of his brother's pants and tugged, "Stefan!"
Stefan jerked his head around, frowning, "D-Damon?"
Damon nearly cried out in relief but he wasn't clear yet. He tugged again on Stefan's pant leg. "Yeah, brother, I'm here."
"Yes you can! You can, Stef. You're not in the safe; there's no water!"
He felt and heard Stefan drop down to the ground in his own cell and he reached out blindly for his brother's hand. He needed something that could anchor Stefan to the here and now. Not that their current predicament was a good one but still, it was better than drowning.
He found Stefan's hand and he gripped it tightly, tighter maybe than was necessary but he needed Stefan to feel him. "Let it go, brother, c'mon!"
It took a moment before he felt Stefan return his grip. Damon dropped his head to the dirt floor, sighing in relief and squeezed back.
"I'm here, Stefan. You're okay,"
They'd been sitting silently for a while now, their hands still locked together through the wall. The silence was starting to make him feel anxious and he needed to know that Stefan was in fact okay and mentally here with him.
"Yeah, Damon, I'm good."
He wasn't sure what else to say. He felt bad about setting off Stefan's panic attack in the first place and he was worried about doing it again. But he also didn't want to just leave it as is.
"Has that been happening a lot?" He finally asked.
Stefan tensed slightly but otherwise was okay. He nodded slowly before remembering that Damon couldn't see him, "I uh, I guess, yeah."
"Why didn't you say anything?"
"Why didn't you tell me you were held prisoner and tortured for five years?" Stefan fired back.
Damon rolled his eyes. He was, naively, hoping that maybe Stefan would let that one go.
"You couldn't have done anything about it," He began after a few minutes of silence. "The first year I was here I kept thinking that you'd find me-"
"I didn't," Stefan interrupted, a bitter edge to his words.
Damon sighed, "No, you didn't." He agreed. "But you didn't know. How could you have? I mean, we weren't even talking at the time. I wanted to be mad at you, sometimes I was… But most of the time I was just happy you weren't trapped here with me."
He wasn't sure whether to laugh or cry at the fact that here he was decades later trapped with Stefan. It was comforting back then to know that Stefan was safe; Enzo reminded him of that. But now? He thought the agony he experienced the first time was bad but it was nothing to the fear that Stefan would face the same thing.
"Part of me was angry with you,"
Damon snapped out of his thoughts at Stefan's words. He frowned and made to answer but Stefan cut him off, "For not finding me."
"The entire time I was trapped… It was agony. The pain was so much sometimes that I'd just sort of… black out."
Damon clenched his eyes shut and tightened his fists. The sudden wave of guilt and regret that hit him was stronger than anything he'd felt in over a century of existing.
"I saw you, you know?"
Damon tilted his head toward Stefan. "What do you mean?" He asked quietly.
"I'd have these sort of visions, I guess. I'd be back at the house and everything was glowing. You'd walk up behind me and just talk to me. Most of the time, you were trying to talk me into turning off my humanity."
Damon laughed without any humour. "Sounds like me, I guess."
"It was comforting, talking to you. Even when you were trying to get me to turn it off,"
"How was that comforting?"
Stefan sighed deeply. "You didn't want me to be in pain. The you that I'd imagined… You knew that the only way to stop feeling all that pain was to let go of that part of me that made me feel it."
"You told me I didn't deserve any of that,"
Damon swallowed back the lump in his throat. "You didn't,"
It took him a minute to realize that he'd gripped Stefan's hand so tightly the skin was starting to turn white. He made a move to loosen his grip only for Stefan to hold tighter. Damon supposed they both needed the reminder that the other was there.
"I'm sorry I didn't get there sooner, Stef,"
Stefan blinked. "I'm sorry I didn't come for you back in the 50s,"
I'm not sure I like what I did here… What did you guys think?