title: the first beat to the flat line
pairing: damon/caroline. mentions of damon/elena. post season finale.
summary: it's typical of his life, everything goes straight to hell and Vampire Barbie decides to play doctor. [damon's pov]
a/n: I want some damon/caroline. Or a lot of it. AGAIN. D: blame unoshot and random Caroline discussions, which are never not fun.
He wakes to the sound of something being moved.
"What the hell are you doing here?" The irritation makes its way through his voice, coloring every word.
Blondie looks up from the stack of his books in her hand, face obscured by the massive volumes. And whatever she's up to, he's really not in the mood for it. Just, not now.
She shrugs, like he's stupid for asking, "I just thought your room needed cleaning. It's a mess. And by the dust on all these books, it's pretty obvious you're just pretending to be smart by stacking them in your room like you're some great reading-person or something."
"Says the girl who thinks Twilight was the highest point of literature in the current millennium," he says automatically, only half registering he'd even opened his mouth.
She stops on the way to his shelf, just for a nanosecond but his eyes can register the difference, and he knows why. It's the holy grail of their…whatever it had been. They don't talk about why he knows practically all there is to know about her. He can see the effort it takes for her to continue moving without responding or punching him. It's annoying as fuck; since when does Caroline ignore his jibes? And it's sort of surreal because he fell asleep to Elena (Elena, oh god) and he's waking up to Caroline like somebody really messed up a lot of wires somewhere.
"Why are you in my room?" he repeats, like he's talking to a particularly slow child.
"I just told you, I'm—"
"Cleaning," he finishes, "but why are you cleaning up my room? I don't need you here; I don't want you here, so really, by default I'm pretty sure you need to not be here."
And then because he's pathetic, he just thinks something about how Elena might have called her, might have stayed through the night and wanted company and called…
"She's not here," Caroline says briefly, her glance sliding unconcernedly over him.
He clenches his fists in annoyance and something else, and gets up. Or attempts to, which is almost the same thing.
She's by his side in a flash, hand outstretched. He ignores it, "did you inject me with vervain or something, because I swear to God, I'll—"
"I didn't do anything, Damon" she says, and for the first time this morning, he can see her composure break, "stop being an ass, okay? You're just weak from the werewolf bite and Klaus's blood. It's going to take time to heal."
"Oh, excuse me," he says, voice thick with sarcasm, "I mistook you for the girl whose boyfriend, mother, and pet dog have all tried to kill me within the past three days. Sorry, my bad."
He notes with indifferent interest as she stills, her hand stopping their constant flitting.
"Matt's not my boyfriend," because obviously that's all she got out of the entire thing, "he broke up with me, because he knows and he can't—" she stops, not looking at him.
He waves his hand in a gesture that might mean anything from sympathy to unconcern. Okay, who are they kidding, he couldn't possibly care less, "whatever, you've had enough experience with the whole people-breaking-up-with-you thing anyway, get over it."
He waits for retaliation, for her to throw something at him, leave, anything. It's oddly disappointing when it doesn't come.
"I made you breakfast," she says unexpectedly.
"…you did what?"
She sighs in exasperation; clearly the whole scenario isn't turning out like it had in her head. What had she expected, anyway? That he'd fall to his knees in gratitude, hail her as his savior? Hello, has she met him? "Breakfast, Damon. Chocolate chip pancakes with that disgusting syrup thing that you like so much."
He's about to ask her why she knows his favorite food or favorite syrup or favorite anything and maybe give a lecture on evils of stalking— they're not friends, they're barely acquaintances. And then realizes that she knows it the same way he knows that she uses the blown up picture of her dad's boyfriends' daughter as a dartboard. It's the first time he's thought about how much she must know about him, how much she would have remembered. The thought is a little disconcerting.
"I don't eat food," he says, the disconcertment easily translating into jackassery, he's good at that, "I drink blood. Warm human blood, straight from the source. Not like little brother who—"
He's not stupid; he knows the only reason he hasn't physically thrown Caroline out is because he's trying not to remember. And doing a shitty job of it.
She looks at him in silence for a while, "it's not your fault, Damon. None of this is."
"Of course it's not my fault," he snaps, because it totally is, "I can't stop Stefan from running off and playing hero whenever he feels like he isn't doing enough for the 'Best Simulation of Humanity by a Vampire' trophy or whatever. I can't stop his girlfriend from kissing me because she's so sorry her boyfriend's brother is dying and that he's in love with her, and she wants to give him that last moment of peace because she's nice like that. And then— oh wait; he's not dying after all, courtesy her boyfriend. Awkward."
He catches a glimpse of her face in the periphery of his vision, because there's no way in hell he can look at her directly after that.
"You should have killed me."
He turns then because, what? "What?"
She puts the books down, finally, and he can see why she'd held them in the first place, her hands are shaking too badly to disguise it, "I mean," she amends quickly, aiming and failing miserably at flippancy, "you should have let me die. It wouldn't have made much difference. Jenna would still be alive and…Tyler wouldn't have bitten you and Stefan wouldn't have had to go with Klaus. So really this is all your fault."
— Oh, that's why she's here. Guilt; he's been there, done that, got the parking ticket.
"I'm glad Saint Stefan at least managed to give you a few lessons in heroism before he wandered off to play Dracula," he snorts, "don't stand too close to me, the Everything in the World is My Fault syndrome is probably catching."
"You kissed Elena?" she questions and suddenly she's not the sullen baby vampire, she's Caroline Forbes, Miss Mystic Falls, head cheerleader and all round gossip queen, "when? How? Was it good? Did you tell her you were in love with her? What did she say?"
He'd forgetting this about her, the utter blunt way in which she puts everything, with no subtext, no thought even, just a burning desire to know everything, and be happy about the good things and stay silent during the bad because that's the only way she can sympathize; she's really not good with the whole consoling business, "do you even listen to half the things you say?"
"No," she says cheerfully, "not really. But you and Elena, it's like Gone with the Wind, epic, romantic, tragic."
"We're nothing like Gone with the Wind," seriously, what are they even taking about, why is he talking to her? "you've never read it, have you?"
"I have," she says indignantly, "I had it in my course. I wrote papers on it."
He almost smiles, "you mean you read the SparkNotes for it." It's odd how many things he remembers about her.
She turns on her heels crossly, "just because you've been alive since forever and found it hard to get laid…"
He gets out of bed slowly, he doesn't feel so heavy anymore, "oh come on, Caroline, you know that's not true. I mean, look at me, I'm the eternal stud, who doesn't want a piece of this?"
"Someone with taste?" she retorts, voice laced with fake-sweetness, as she makes her way downstairs.
He follows her, "you do realize you just owned yourself, b-t-w, that stands for 'by the way', by the way, considering you slept with me on our first non-date?"
He's sorry before he's said it, because he's managed to bring it up again. After it almost seemed like she could move beyond it, he's moved them back to the first square. I remember how you manipulated me, pushed me around, abused me, erased my memories, fed on me.
"H-E-R-P-E-S," she says, "that stands for 'you're an idiot, Damon Salvatore'".
He laughs then, without meaning to, or wanting to, and watches the tense line of her back soften slightly. And thinks that's probably all she'd wanted, and it's probably the first time that that's all somebody had wanted of him.
"You need to get out more," she's sprawled across the couch, and he keeps forgetting to tell her to stop pretending the place belongs to her, "this isn't healthy."
"Maybe you should get out of here more," he retorts, "I'm pretty sure you're the only thing ruining the chi of this house. If you wanted to play nurse, couldn't you at least have bought a sexy outfit or something?"
She ignores him, she does that a lot, he's starting to realize, "I'm dead certain the Grill's running into debt because you haven't been buying off their bourbon stocks like it's going out of fashion. And EL-verybody is going crazy wondering where you've been."
She's said the 'E' word, and he can tell by her expression, she's waiting for him to explode, "Everybody knows where I am. If they'd wanted to see me they would have."
"She's stupid," Caroline says softly, "you know that, Damon. She's freaked out, okay?"
"Yeah," he says, and he knows he sounds bitter, but he's not good with the whole emotions thing, never has been, "All that effort, and I didn't even die."
She punches him on the shoulder, hard, and it hurts, like punching a wall hurts. He's not strong enough, which sucks. "It's not all about you, Damon. Maybe she's confused because she wants you and she'd never thought she did. And now it's all teen drama and uncertainty and everything."
"Are you trying to match-make here, Blondie?" he asks, trying to keep the desperation out of his voice, only half-joking.
"No," she returns, face set in all seriousness; she looks fifteen when she's like this, her hair undone, sans make-up, and it's ridiculous but all he's thinking right now is that she'll never be allowed into any bar without compulsion, ever, "I would never do that to Stefan. Not after everything he'd done for me."
"Then what are you doing?" he's realized he might not be good with feelings, but he's definitely good with confrontations.
She looks at him, startled, "Nothing, I haven't done—"
"I mean, here," he says, clenching his fists in frustration, "what the hell are you doing here, Caroline? Coming over here day after day, playing Florence Nightingale? When will it get through your head that I'm fine? I don't need your fucking pity and I don't need your help."
"I'm substituting Elena," she replies, quietly.
"What?" he asks roughly, because there's no way in hell she just said what he thought she just said.
"Look," she says, bossy and overbearing and caring way too much as usual, "Elena's confused and you're confused. And if we're going to find Stefan, we need to stop with the drama and just find him. Which is impossible till you're happy and she's happy and not thinking about how hurt and betrayed and fucked up you are. So I'm substituting Bonnie for her, and Elena for you. I'm good at that."
"Are you happy?" he asks, unexpectedly he can tell by her blank expression. She hasn't thought about it.
She has a hang-up about it. He knows that, remembers that. The whole always-being-second-to-Elena thing.
"It's your turn to cook dinner," she says getting up, "I'm going to take a shower. And if someone's put grease in my shampoo bottle again—"
She didn't answer, he notices.
The next evening, he wakes up to cleavage. It's not the worst way in the world to wake up.
He blinks, and automatically reaches his hand to touch, till an offended squeal late he's flat on his back, with Caroline sitting on his chest, "you disgusting, perverted jerk."
He looks up at her…face, yeah, that's what he's looking up at, "you're wearing that while leaning over the bed of a hot guy, and I'm the pervert?"
"It's Elena's Halloween costume," she says getting off, and he's not disappointed, he's really not, "you said you wanted a hot nurse and I've always wanted to be a hot nurse. So I think everything mutually works out. Besides it adds to the whole 'playing substitute for Elena' thing."
"Except I'm not supposed to look below your neck."
She glares at him, as he raises his hands in defeat, "just checking."
"I'm going to get you out of the house today," she turns back and he can't help staring, she's annoying as hell but she's fucking gorgeous, "and kindly notice how that isn't a question."
She has him at the Grill in thirty minutes; he's a sucker for a half naked girl.
"You could've worn the nurse costume," he says, trying to sound casual, as if every single muscle in his body isn't stretched to breaking point, "gotten us free beers or something."
She looks at him, and she knows, how the fuck does she always know? "She's with Jeremy at home; she's not going to come here."
"Who?" he asks, and it's stupid to pretend when she already knows, but it's the only thing he's holding onto right now.
And then she's not looking at him anymore. He glances to the side, and sees Donovan freeze, his eyes wandering between them.
"Matt," she exclaims, voice too bright to fool anyone, "hi!"
"Caroline," he acknowledges stiffly, turning back to wipe the table.
Her silence lasts longer than he can stand, because it's awkward and unusual and it's Caroline. She never stops talking, "so why isn't this important."
She turns to him, and he can tell she's not really focused, "why isn't what important?"
"You," he shrugs, "why aren't you important enough for you to try and fix like you've taken to doing to everybody around, picking up Saint Stefan's mantle and all."
"Please," she scoffs, "fixing? Could you be any more melodramatic? I'm not broken. Like what does that even mean? Oh, I don't have a boyfriend any more, nobody loves me. I've never been good enough. I'm shattering like glass. Don't step too close; it'll cut into your feet. Fix me, Damon, love me, hold me, tell me I'll always be the one like I've never been for anybody else!" she rolls her eyes, "whatever."
"You know," he leans in conspiratorially, "the whole sarcasm thing has much more impact if everything you're saying isn't true."
She gets up from the table, and walks away. And he realizes he hasn't thought of Elena in thirteen minutes.
The next day she doesn't visit. Not that he notices or anything.
"I thought you wanted to save Stefan."
He lasted all of two days.
She looks up from her dressing room mirror, dress still only half unzipped, "go home, Damon."
"Funny," he says reflectively from her bed, crossing his hands behind his head, "seems like it's the same thing I've been saying the past fortnight."
"What do you want?" she asks flatly.
"Oh come on, Blondie, now you're just straight off stealing my dialogues."
She's on him in a flash, "get out."
He flips her over with ease, "yeah, the problem with that is that I'm not as weak as I was a week ago. You can't do that anymore."
She leaves her hand on his chest, "I don't want you here."
"But since when has either of us done something because the other wanted it?" he responds reasonably, he's totally being reasonable about this.
"See, you wanted to be left alone and I left you alone," she seriously believes this? "I don't see why you've taken it into your head to suddenly be friends."
He gets off her, "you're not substituting Elena, you never were."
He can see the five seconds of hurt making inroads in her veins, till it's gone. "I never said I could, I just tried. Failed. But tried. I'm sure they give out certificates of appreciation for that."
"You couldn't do it if you tried," he shrugs, "you're too Caroline. You're always going to be too Caroline to be anybody else."
He's out before she's had a chance to respond. He's made a fool out of himself, he needn't stay for an encore.
"Can I kiss you?"
He turns away from the storage, blood bag in hand. She's standing behind him in what appears to be her oldest, unsexiest nightdress.
"Do you want to?" Maybe that's important because it's never been important before.
She thinks about it, stands in front of him and thinks about whether she'd want to kiss him. The Caroline of it all makes him ache a little.
"I think so?" she says finally, looking at a spot behind his head, refusing to meet his eyes.
"Go ahead", he offers.
She leans in uncertainly, like she hasn't done this already, like they haven't been here before. She's all teeth and soft lips and seventeen year old experience, coupled with sounds that lodge themselves somewhere at the base of his skull.
"Okay," she says, moving away, eyes wide, "Okay."
She turns to leave, hand shaking slightly, and then turns back, "thank you." she says politely.
It's more than he can bear.
He flashes in front of her as she reaches the door.
"Can I touch you?"
He stares directly into her eyes, daring her to look away, she doesn't. And it's possibly the hottest experience of his life.
"Do you want to?"
He has the 'I think so' at the tip of his tongue, but he's not so patient.
"It's nothing special," she clarifies between moans, as his mouth makes its way to her throat, "we've done this before and I know you love Elena and right now you're just heartbroken and I'm comforting you, or" he nips at her breast, pushing his hand through lace, pressing his thumb against her clit as she arches involuntarily, "something, we're just—"
"Stop talking," he says through gritted teeth, cock pressing hard against zipper till he's sure it'll cause permanent damage. "Or if you have to talk, say something about how much you want me."
"I want you inside me." She says gravely, and maintains it for about three seconds before her face breaks up involuntarily, and then she's laughing "god, does anyone actually say that outside of badly written romance novels? I don't think they'd—"
He slides two fingers in her and he really doesn't want her to think. He doesn't want her to be left capable of thinking.
"I want to be inside you." he says, seriously.
She lowers her eyes, "stop being crude."
He leans in closer, his bare chest pressing against hers "I want to feel you clench around my fingers and come harder than you have ever before with my tongue at your clit. I want to taste you, lick you off my fingers, feel your mouth around my cock. I—"
"Damon," she exclaims with teenage piety, avoiding his eyes entirely.
"Caroline," he mocks.
And then she's looking at him, "first time you've said my name," she says casually, "earlier it was always Katherine. Oh Katherine," she mimics him, and he should tell her she's not really as good at pretending nonchalance as she thinks she is, "yes, just there. I kind of thought it'd be Elena, now. But Caroline suits me fine."
He's got her in his room, in front of his mirror, before she can get her bearings, "what the—"
He points ahead, "look."
She looks at them in the mirror, her nightdress unbuttoned, bra left buried in his couch somewhere, panties halfway down her legs, "Damon, I can't—"
"Look." He insists, and kisses down her body till he's kneeling in front of her, "don't stop looking, Caroline."
"This doesn't change anything," she says stoically, standing beside his bed, still unable to look him in the eye.
"Of course not," he says agreeably from his bed.
"Can't you wear something?" she asks furiously, "you're making me—"
"Nervous?" he offers.
"Sick," she completes, "and why are you so cool. Aren't you supposed to be the one breaking over having betrayed your one true love?"
He shrugs, "does anyone really break at all? What does that even mean?"
She looks at him for a moment and then clasps her hand, "I've fixed you! I should've known it would take—god, you're such a whore."
"You're beautiful," he returns, and he can tell it disconcerts her.
"Whatever," she manages, "I'm leaving. We should start searching for Stefan. Properly. Not just sit around—"
"—making love?" he suggests.
"Fucking," she says crudely, "and we didn't even do that. Not really."
"We have time," he says suggestively. He doesn't even know why he's pushing this. He's in love with Elena; he'll probably always be in love with Elena.
"Good night Damon," she says finally.
"Good morning Caroline."
She glares at him one last time, and moves away towards his door. She turns with her hand on the handle, "I'm glad you're okay."
It's funny he didn't realize he was till now.