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~ The Vampire Diaries ~

 

"Damon!"

Bonnie glared at her best-friend's evil look-alike, refusing to let the tears escape and let the bitch revel in her grief. Instead, stoked the fire of hatred for this vampire and concentrated on keeping the strong monster pinned against the wall with the force of her magic without the help of the Gilbert device to weaken the vampire any longer.

She'd never really used her magic physically like this, or for an extended period of time. It was exhausting, but her fury and sorrow strengthened her resolve.

"Is this it?" Katherine mocked, blood still dripping from her ears and nose, her eyes bloodshot as her body was slower to heal from magical harm. "Are you all I have to look forward to, the wannabe Bennett witch?"

"Shut your mouth, you bitch!" Bonnie hissed and in an act of viciousness she'd never felt cause to feel until now, focused her essence in a small pocket and Katherine gave a cry of surprise and pain as the witch broke her collarbone, the splintered bone poking through the skin.

"You got her?" Damon blurred into the living room, blood staining his upper lip.

"I got her." Bonnie whispered.

They didn't know the range of the completed Gilbert device, only that its magic could incapacitate a vampire, so Damon was forced away, leaving Bonnie as sole infiltrator into the house as long as the device ran. But even 2 blocks away, he'd felt it. It had him on the ground, doubled over in pain, he'd almost blacked out from its power, shouting in pain. His speed seemed to be on the fritz, going in and out, that was why it took his a bit longer to get here.

His sharp gaze took in the room instantly, his gaze sliding over Alaric's prone body, flickering to Bonnie's eyes in assurance, only to stutter at the sorrow, ignoring Katherine altogether—and finally landing on his inert brother. "No no no," Damon blurred to Stefan on his knees, focus skirting in denial as he broke his brother from the restraints, not even reacting to the burn of vervain; pulled the wooden spoon that skewered him through the back of the chair and laid him out on the floor.

"Stefan," he whispered, forced to face the true reality of it as he met his brother's open, unfocused, unseeing forest green eyes. His fingers were like the caress of a feather against Stefan's cold, grey cheek, the desiccated veins raised to the surface. His gaze travelled down over the blood-stained skin, to his torn shirt and the gory hole in his chest.

"Damon?" Bonnie's voiced cracked, breath shuddering. But she already knew the answer.

Katherine was watching Damon's back, a tiny smirk at her lips. His head hung and his shoulders trembled. "Are you crying?"

A tear finally broke free of Bonnie's lashes and trailed down her cheek. Her aloft hand slowly tightened as she gritted her teeth. The magic pinning Katherine tightened, the vampire gasped as the witch was intent of simply crushing her from existence.

"You ugly fucking bitch," Damon hissed. He blurred to her, his hand around her delicate throat, squeezing and Bonnie sucked in a breath, releasing her own crushing hold, but still immobilizing the vampire. Damon's fingers were clawed, piercing Katherine's flesh, but she still smirked as she chocked on her own blood, seeing the turmoil, helplessness, and anger in his beautiful blue eyes.

"Poor, sweet, heroic Stefan." She mocked, blood bubbling at her lips. "He died with a broken heart. It was beautiful, watching his soul shatter through those lovely, expressive green eyes he had. Knowing that I had taken that from him, felt him die in my hand--"

Damon slammed her. "His heart's still in his chest."

Bonnie's gaze was drawn from the vampire's smirking face, down to her bloodied hand as it clenched into a fist. "Her hand,"

He glanced down at the brunette's side, to the bloodied fist that murdered his little brother. He grasped her wrist, the pressure of his grip crushing the bones in her wrist and making her grimace as he rose it. He released her neck, he didn't bother asking, he just pried her thumb back until the digit gave and broke.

"I could have given him everything." She told him as Damon started on her index finger, breaking it at each joint, three successive crack-pops that made her grunt at the sharp pain. "He only had to give me the one thing I asked for." He broke her middle finger the same. "But he was selfish so I took it from him instead," her ring finger. "And now... he can't give it to anyone anymore." She grinned, even as Damon broke her pinkie sideways so it lay against the edge of her palm. And even as her hands tried to heal itself, there was one piece that never could, not with a mortal element embedded beneath the skin of her palm.

"You put splinters in his heart," he uttered.

"I just gave the metaphorical favour into a more literal return,"

Damon's fangs flashed and he snarled at her, his hand plunging into her chest without warning, fingers clawed around her undead heart. She gasped, strained. "You can rot in Hell, alone and unloved for all of eternity, Katerina Petrova."

Bonnie barely stopped herself from flinching back at the crunching sound as Damon jerked his arm back and tore her undead heart from her chest. She watched the vampire dry out and desiccate, her true-face fading, a mirror image of Stefan, pinioned by an invisible force to the wall like a butterfly on display. There was a terrible squelching sound as the raven vampire squeezed his fist, turning her heart into a gory pulp before dropping it carelessly on the floor.

The witch just stared for a blank moment before she exhaled, releasing her magical hold and stumbling back a step. Damon stepped out of the way as Katherine crumpled to the floor. But he wasn't finished yet. Putting a boot to her chest, he grabbed her under the ears, and with a roar, his vamp-face flashing—he tore his sire's head from her shoulders.

Bonnie turned away, one hand to her stomach, the other to her mouth, gagging.

"Ding dong." Damon's voice was toneless. "The bitch is dead." Wiping his hand clean, he crouched by his brother. "I'm so sorry, Stefan." He gently scooped him into arms and carried him from the house; he wouldn't allow that bitch to be near him a moment longer, dead or not. He laid Stefan in the backseat of his car, pressing his lips to the grey forehead before he closed the door. He came back into the house to find Bonnie kneeling worriedly at Alaric's side.

"He doesn't have his ring," she looked up, holding the dirty-blond's right hand. "But he reacted to the Gilbert device."

"He's in transition," Damon hauled the man up, throwing him over his shoulder in a fireman's hold. "She took his ring, feed him her blood, and killed him in front of Stefan. She broke him by dooming the man that he loved." He turned his gaze from Bonnie's trembling hues, to the corpse on the floor. "Burn her, Bonnie. Burn her to Hell. Burn her from existence."

Bonnie nodded, firm-lipped as she turned to the body, Damon leaving to put Alaric in the car as well. The witch focused, chanting. A flame burst into existence of the vampire's body, and quickly caught, consuming. Bonnie watched for a moment before slowly backing away, chanting harder, faster—the flames grew, spread, crawled up the wall, spread across the floor, the vampire blood catching and fuelling the fire like an accelerant. She was about to leave as the flames started to lick across the roof of the front hall, when she noticed the things by the door—Stefan's things. His jacket, his buckled boots, his wallet on the table. She quickly grabbed it all into her arms, slamming the from door as the flames reached for her. Scrambling backward, she chanted a containment spell that would keep the fire from spreading to the neighbours in the closing day.

She crossed the street to where their cars were, pressing her nose into the collar of Stefan's jacket. It smelled like him; the woods, parchment, a faint peppermint. Fresh tears clouded her eyes. Her gaze was jerked up as Damon slammed the driver's side door.

"Hey, where are you going?"

He just shook his head, the engine turning over and tires squealing as he sped away. She stared after them. Damon was leaving it to her to break to Elena (who had only stayed away because Damon had literally locked her down in the cellar at the Boarding House) that Stefan was dead and Alaric was in transition of becoming a vampire. She couldn't blame him, he just lost his brother, he wouldn't have the capacity to deal with Elena's grief.

Bonnie quickly got into her Prius as she heard sirens in the distance, the fire finally noticed by the neighbours as the roof caved in under the magically influenced fire, carefully setting Stefan's belongings in the passenger seat.

...

Damon didn't return to the Boarding House. Instead, he let emotion drive him and he ended up at the quarry. This was one of the brothers' favoured places, he had such fond memories of this place in his childhood, growing up with Stefan. With exception for that one night when Damon had vowed to give Stefan an eternity of misery.

Damon picked his brother up in his arms and carried him to the water, carefully laying Stefan on the long, soft grass bed with a clear view of the darkening evening sky. He just wanted to collapse alongside his brother, but he knew Stefan would be more comforted with Alaric laying by him, too, so he went back to the car and dragged Alaric's limp body next to Stefan's, then laid on his other side. His baby brother was dead, it was something he could not fathom, not after 145 years of him being virtually immortal. Not after everything they had been through to finally get to this point in their relationship.

He heard Alaric's heartbeat moments before the man woke up. It would continue to beat for about the next 24 hours, weakening with each hour if he didn’t drink human blood to complete the transition to a full vampire, until he faded into darkness and death.

Alaric bolted upright with a startled shout, hand going to his throat with wide eyes. He should be dead, he should-- he quickly looked at his right hand, his finger absent the Gilbert ring. "No," he wasn't alive, he wasn’t dead either, he was in transition. Katherine fed him her blood, then killed him. "Stefan." He finally noticed in confusion his change of surrounding, then noticed the two brothers at his side. Stefan was prone, but Damon was looking at him with an emotionless mask, his eyes seeming too wide, too raw in the fading light. "No." He said again, shifting to the still teenager. Alaric put a hand on his sternum, but his chest didn't rise. His chest... with abstract horror, his hand shifted to the dark, gapping wound in Stefan chest. "No!" he grabbed the vampires face, lifting it and he made a strangled sound in his throat at the lifeless eyes that stared back; they were just empty, there was no love or teasing or laughter or care. "Stefan," he choked, tears dripping from his eyes and onto the teen's grey skin, to run down the sides of his cheeks like Stefan was shedding tears, too. "You were supposed to rip her heart out, not the other way around."

Alaric bowed over the brunette, resting their foreheads together, his eyes closed. His body thrummed, he felt gutted, his muscles sore. His jaw ached like he'd had a root canal without any morphine. I'm sorry. I was there and I didn't help you. I'm supposed to be a vampire hunter and I couldn't kill the one vampire that needed killing. He pressed his lips to Stefan's before he rose his head, and thumbed Stefan's cheeks dry from his tears. He looked over at the other vampire.

Damon pulled his knees to his chest like he was a child. He remember what it was like without Stefan, he could not take that now. He was aimless, he'd lost his only family, his only brother of the past 162 years of his life. He'd only had seven years of his life where Stefan hadn't been alive, hadn't been born yet—they were insignificant, forgettable. His life only truly started when his baby brother came into it.

"I vowed to this pink, wriggling being that I would take care him." Damon spoke out into the water, pulling his brother’s cold, limp, right hand into his lap, "I'd only just met him, but it felt like I'd known him my entire life. The second he blinked those forest green doe-eyes at me, there was no doubt to me that he was the thing, the person, that I would love most in this shitty world.

"I just had to do one thing, one thing right... keep him safe, keep him alive and I couldn't even do that. Dear Drunk Daddy was right... my existence held no value if I couldn't do that one damn thing right!" he shouted it despairingly into the falls. "I had all this time, by some miracle, I was given this extra time and I did nothing but use it to hurt him. My baby brother, whose only fault was having me for a big brother and finding it in that big heart of his to love me anyway. I destroyed him--"

"You didn't--" Alaric whispered.

Damon’s head snapped to him, his blue eyes bright with tears. "What do you know?" he snarled. "You've known him for a month. Your just some fucking... asshole that he gave his heart to and would blame himself for what happened to you because he would think if he'd never met you, this never would have happened." He turned to Stefan, "You're a real fucking martyr now, aren't you? This is your wish fulfillment finally come to pass, huh, Saint Stefan? You fucking selfish bastard!" he grabbed fistfuls of the already torn and bloodied shirt, shaking his brother. "I told you to get your ass home, Stefan. Why didn't you come home, baby brother? Why?" he howled his anger, his frustration, his anguish.

"I can't do it without you, Stefan." He didn't want to, he couldn't face it, not without knowing that his baby brother wasn't somewhere out in the world, stalking hapless bunnies and writing in his millionth journal to date. They were supposed to go together, that had been the deal all that time ago, hadn't it? But Stefan had pulled them toward the living, had changed the rules. "We were supposed to have an eternity together, you can't just go back on your word now."

He looked up, almost startled as Alaric grabbed a fistful of the material of his jacket, like an anchor, his blue eyes mirrored the vampire's. "Tell me you killed her, Damon. Tell me you fucking ripped her heart out. That she didn't get away with breaking and killing the kindest, strongest man we know. Can you tell me that?"

"Yes," Damon told him firmly. "I ripped that bitch's heart out and crushed it in my hand until it was nothing more than a bloody clump of papier-mâché. I tore her head from her shoulders and Bonnie burned her from existence, burned that entire place to the ground."

Alaric gave a short nod. "I was there. He was alive and I was there and I was useless. I only caused him more pain, more suffering before she killed him. Fuck, Damon. I'm so sorry, man."

Damon looked at him. "You're not going to complete the transition, are you?"

Alaric looked at him in surprise. "You think I should?" Damon didn't answer and Alaric looked down at Stefan. "I told him that I didn't think I could be a vampire, that I wanted it, couldn’t even contemplate it, but I wanted to be with him. But he still wanted to be together,"

"Sounds like him," Damon murmured wryly.

"He told me once that he wouldn't wish vampirism on anyone, that he wish he'd known that before it was too late, before he killed your father, made you complete the transition. But if Stefan were alive... I would fucking take it with both hands. But without him," he shook his head. "I know how this sounds—we've only been together officially for 2 weeks—but love doesn't have bounds, it can't be confined—I would do it for him, but why the fuck would I want to do this shit without him?"

Damon stared at his brother. "Yeah."

"Why are we out here?" Alaric finally asked quietly. "Why aren't we back at the Boarding House?"

He looked up into the sky. "It felt right. We began here, it only seemed right to end it here." He sat back and there was silence between enough for the sun to finally set, the sky to darken and the full moon and stars to reveal themselves.

Alaric suddenly perked up from where he was allowing himself to simply, silently, slowly fade away. His heart felt heavy and slow in his chest, even as senses were bright, like a constant surge of adrenaline making him antsy. "Christ," Alaric inhaled deeply, his mouth watering at the alluring scent, "Is that--?"

"Blood." Damon blurred to his feet, facing the direction of wood. Someone was coming.

Bonnie came into view with the moonlight from the shadows of the trees, her chest was heaving, the scent of blood thick. She looked manic tramping through the underbrush toward them. He reached out to steady her as she seemed to stumble, but to his confusion, she dodged him, her expression intent—and tackled Alaric instead.

"Bo-- Mmph!" Alaric was cut off in surprise as the witch shoved her bloodied wrist into his mouth. He swallowed the mouthful of her hot delicious blood involuntarily. The pain in his gums intensified acutely and his new fangs snapped down in relief. He grabbed her arm and she grimaced as his fangs pierced her delicate skin, but let him drink, watching his face transform with his complete transition into a full vampire with the link of her blood.

"What the hell, Bonnie!" Damon managed to tear them apart, pulling the teenager away and leaving the new vampire on the ground, putting himself between the 2 as he kept a wary eye on the bampi and quickly shoved his own bloodied wrist against the witch's mouth, making her drink and heal.

Alaric licked his lips and chin clean of blood, relishing the delicious taste, his thirst both quenched and awakened at once. He sucked the blood from his teeth, all the previous pain vanished; he felt like he was 20 again, and then his tongue traced his fang, his eyes snapping open and returning to their normal blue with horror. "What did you do?" he shouted at Bonnie, jumping to his feet and startled to find it happen in a blink.

"Saving your life," she wiped Damon's blood from her lips with a grimace.

"You turned me!" he snarled in anger, his fangs snapping at her. She took an involuntary step back, but Damon already had the teacher on the ground before it was necessary.

"Calm down!" he growled, his own fangs free, shoving the dirty-blond into the ground as he instinctively fought back. "Ric!" he snapped.

At the sound of him name, Alaric just seemed to drain. Damon rarely called him by his real name, let alone his preferred abbreviation. "She turned me, Damon," he uttered in shock. "I'm vampire. I can't be a vampire."

"I know... You good?" he asked.

Alaric was quiet for a moment, panting. "I don't know. Yeah, I guess."

Damon didn't look convinced but he climbed back to his feet, watching the dirty-blond roll onto his back and sit up, but move no further than that, looking a bit shell-shocked. "Want to explain what the you think you're doing?!" The raven vampire spun on the witch, who was kneeling by Stefan's left shoulder.

"Saving their lives," she answered.

"Stefan's dead, Bonnie." He told her harshly. "There's no coming back from that. He's gone!"

"You're wrong!" she stroked Stefan’s mussed bangs from his forehead. "I can bring him back."

"What are you talking about?" he grabbed her shoulder.

Bonnie looked up at him. "I communed with Emily," she said. "She told me how, she's going to help me bring him back from the Other Side."

Damon released her but scoffed in disbelief. "Just like that, she's gonna help us bring back Stefan. I thought that was against balance of nature that you witches are so obsessed about?"

"It is... but Stefan's different."

"What do you mean?" Alaric crawled over to Stefan's legs.

"Emily said," she looked between the two men, "She said that Stefan is special, like Elena is special."

"You mean, he's a doppelganger, too?" Alaric glanced up at Damon, who just shrugged in confusion.

Bonnie nodded. "He existence, his birth, it was a supernatural occurrence. Shadow-selves were created to keep nature's balance since the beginning. His blood, his human blood, holds magical properties that the dark magic of vampirism neutralized. That's what I’ll draw on. I can bring him back, Damon! Are you really going to stop me?"

"No." Damon whispered. "Do it, Bonnie."

Bonnie nodded and turned her attention back to Stefan. "The Gilbert Ring, created by Emily's magic, it's her link to him and by turn my link." She moved his left hand to rest on his abdomen, grasping his ringed hand tightly; her other hand over the open wound of his heart. Inhaling deeply, closing her eyes, she focused her magic and started a low chant.

She drew from the magic in her blood, from the earth beneath her, the air that surrounding them. She channelled her powerful ancestor’s magic, through the link of the ring, through herself and back into the brunette.

Alaric and Damon stared, gazes transfixed on the still, grey body of the man they loved, both in different ways, but neither less powerfully. And then, as Bonnie felt warm blood dribble from her nostril in exertion as she harnessed and used more magic than she was used to, water started to bubble and leak from Stefan's mouth.

"Stop!" Damon told her in fear, watching as water continued to spill from Stefan's lips, but was frozen to the spot.

But Bonnie didn't stop, she chanted harder, more powerfully, drawing deep into her magic, her voice and essence swarming with her Emily’s on the Other Side, around Stefan, drawing him here, from there—anchoring him.

tbc...

~ The Vampire Diaries ~