“I let you walk away. I watched you go over the edge, and I didn’t do anything to stop you.”
He was not used to seeing Damon like this, letting his emotions flow out to the surface and his sarcasm sink beneath. And he had not expected it washing over him like it did, making him unsure of what to say and how to behave. No, he had not expected it, not at all.
The anger towards Damon was dwindling quickly in the face of such an open, unguarded display of regret and something else he could not have bothered pondering on at that moment because he had to give an answer. No, that is not right. He did not have to, he wanted to. The need to reassure Damon gripped him and it did not let go. That was another thing he did not expect since he thought he had buried those feelings forever not so long ago.
“You couldn’t have.”
Stefan said, although that was not something he could know with certainty, but this was Damon. His Damon. And if Stefan needed to lie to make those creases between his eyebrows and self-deprecation in his voice disappear, then that is exactly what he would do.
“Sure, I could have.” Damon seemed lost in memories, as though he forgot where he was for a moment, “But I just didn’t want to.” After a second, his eyes locked with Stefan’s and strength and conviction were back in his voice when he said, “But I want to now.” He closed the distance of a few steps between them and stopped short of touching Stefan, close enough so that Stefan could feel Damon’s breath on his face as he spoke with such vehemence and confidence, clearly making a point of no space for discussion, “Whenever you go too far, I will be there to pull you back,” Stefan swallowed but the lump in his throat did not budge, if anything, it just grew bigger and his eyes burned more, salty liquid only serving to blur his vision, blur those gorgeous blue depths staring at him intently, “…every second…” something big and warm filled his chest and grew bigger and bigger with each syllable. He blinked once to subdue the blur, just once because he could not afford to lose more seconds than necessary of this precious moment, “…every day…” Damon swept his gaze over him quickly, then turned it back up to lock their eyes together again, “…till you don’t need me.”
Each word crashed into him anew and broke his defenses one by one. How he longed… no. How he craved hearing them all these years. Too many years. But all he had been getting were daggers coated with disdain, despising everything he represented, daggers that buried deeper each time and stayed there, just to be twisted over and over again while the new ones found their way to creep inside of him. But now… it felt like pouring warm honey over those wounds and an invisible weight that hung over him like a shadow suddenly felt a little lighter.
Feeling the familiar burn in his eyes, he did not even bother concealing the bitterness and desperate hopefulness intermingled in his voice as the question broke its way through the lump in his throat and came out as no more than a whisper:
He was almost afraid Damon missed the question, afraid that it was not loud enough, although somewhere in the back of his mind, he was aware that was not possible, but every second longer it took Damon to reply, he was terrified, terrified that the moment will be shattered, that maybe it was not even real. Maybe everything was a hallucination, a product of his longing that piled up over the years and the addiction to blood that made him lose track of time and place.
Damon regarded him for a second but when the reply came, there was no uncertainty in his voice.
“‘Cause right now…” apprehension was making every second seem as if it lasted interminably and Stefan had no doubt that Damon could hear his heart beating erratically “you’re all I got.” The bubble in his chest burst and overflowed making the remnants of the blood of some unknown human pulse in his ears, drowning all the sounds around him. They looked at each other in mute silence waiting for the other to make a move, both unwilling to dispel the moment. Damon’s gaze never wavered, he looked confident, not a shred of a doubt or regret touching his eyes, but still open and vulnerable so that if Stefan wanted, he could spit all Damon was offering back in his face. However, Stefan realized he did not care about that, because he would savour everything Damon wanted to give him, everything that Damon was, he would devour it all. And if there was anything Damon wished for, he would willingly surrender. Why would he not? Stefan was nothing without him. A walking, rotting shell, rotting but not dying, never dying, destined to live a life hollow, with only repulsing feelings of addiction filling his being until he was nothing more than a mindless beast. Oh, that was not the worst. Sometimes he even wished for it to happen. The worst of all was the fear of oblivion, the fear of forgetting the one person that made the world burst in brilliant colours and filled his mind with all sorts of all-consuming feelings that he could not even cope with. Nevertheless, it made him feel alive, it made him feel himself in an inconceivable way. He felt like someone who has a right to occupy one tiny spot in this world, someone who has a reason… another being to exist for. Damon was his connection to this world; only next to him could he breathe and smell something other than blood, see his surroundings without the pulsing crimson catching his attention at every turn, not only hear the pumping of blood through human veins but also smooth movements and gentle breathing… Damon’s breathing.
Stefan’s eyes were suddenly transfixed by the movement of Damon’s larynx as he swallowed. However, he did not appear hesitant in the slightest, more like… uneasy. Perhaps he was not so confident about Stefan’s reaction after all. He made Damon wait too long. Without thinking, he moved forward with inhuman speed, pushing Damon back, back over the couch and to the floor but he seemed to have enough sense to push the table as they landed so they would not crash into it. It screeched piercingly over the tiles but both of them disregarded it completely.
His gaze never left Damon’s face. Blue eyes searched his face, a trifle stunned, but that soon dissipated as they narrowed slightly in silent contemplation. He relaxed completely under Stefan, completely unpreoccupied even as a large palm came to rest on his neck, but the gesture was gentle anyway, too gentle even.
Stefan let out a shaky breath, blinked once to chase away the blur and swallowed hard, one time too many for one evening. Their noses were almost touching, Damon’s breath clouding over his mind… It had been too long and now it was all too much to take at once. Damon seemed so delicate and breakable under him, even though he was well aware how far from truth that was.
He wanted to absorb every little detail and store it in a hidden place he would be able to turn to if Damon decided to forsake him, like he had done too many times to count. He took everything in: from the sharp lines of his jaw, soft curve of his lips and the shape of his nose, to the dark eyebrows and long eyelashes making the beauty of his eyes even more prominent… And he had never really paid attention before, but now that he did, he could not believe how he had never noticed all the shades that swirl and merge in those irises; the palest silver just next to the pupil, turning bluer with golden streaks a human eye probably would not be able to catch and then gaining such a dark sapphire tint around the edge. How could he have not noticed all of that?
“Stefan…” Velvety voice pulled him out of his musings but Stefan interrupted him before he could get a chance to say anything else. Abruptly, just like when he pushed him, he closed the distance between them, catching those lips with his own trembling ones, desperately, yearning for both of them to break out of their skin, just to be closer, to disappear into one another so that no one, not even themselves, could distinguish who is who anymore… so that Damon would never be able to leave again, ever again.
Damon’s lips parted and Stefan bit into the lower one, drawing a moan out of Damon and surprising him anew, which was uncommon in itself. Stefan, on the other hand… After such a long time of waiting, hoping, longing, imagining how it might feel like if he ever had a privilege to get one taste… just one taste. Fire blasted through him, first to his chest, then groin and, finally, all the way to the tips of his toes and fingers, making him hungry for air, even though, technically, he did not need to breathe. Spots danced in front of his eyes and everything burst in brilliant colours, the tiniest of sounds and thousands of smells… He could perceive every one of them separately and experience them through all of their dimensions as if each existed all by itself but was still indiscernible of all the others, creating a whole.
And he wanted him. He wanted Damon. Everything related to Damon was utterly wondrous and entirely different from anything he could compare it to. Human blood controlled him. It was an addiction, pulling the worst in him out in the open, dictating his every action, numbing his senses until all they could perceive was blood. Only blood – the way its scent flooded his sense of smell while it pumped through the veins of a warm human body; the way it dripped out of a wound, fresh and dark, splashing on the ivory tiles, seemingly in slow motion, and bewitchingly captured his attention until everything else around him faded; the way it filled his mouth, lush and thick and warm and spicy, teasing his taste buds and fondly whispering, “Drink, drink, drink more...” to the point where nothing held any meaning any longer.
Damon was life. And Stefan wanted him, needed him, craved him... Stefan was truly nothing without him. But with him, oh… with him he could be anything; anything Damon wanted him to be, because Damon was the light, so glorious that he could not stay away even if it ended up being the end of him. Full of the most stunning, clashing contradictions, he was like a wild storm and soft breeze, fireworks and the soft glow of a moonlit night, passion and tenderness… All of that made him lightheaded, but pleasantly, and the burden was incredibly easier to carry. Damon was a lifeline chaining him to this world and everything that was worth in it. Stefan could not, would not lose him.
He broke the kiss slowly, his eyes lingering on Damon’s wet, slightly parted lips, and then moving up to lock with the blue pair. Damon offered him a crooked smile although it did not reach his eyes and said,
“Well, this is not what I had in mind.”
Stefan sighed, breath coming out ragged and shallow. The burning in his chest intensified but it was of a different kind. Fear crept in. Did he make a mistake? Would Damon leave now? Every time he had done it, he left a gaping hole Stefan never found a way how to fill.
He leaned his forehead in the crook of Damon’s neck. The pumping of a human’s blood was loud there, just beneath the pale skin. The urge to press his lips against it and simply stay like that for a while… forever… it was strong but he did not act on it. If he could only keep him there, keep him near.
“Why are you doing this to me, Damon?”
After a few seconds, Damon’s hand found its way into his hair and then he flipped them, now straddling Stefan and looming over him with one of his hands splayed over Stefan’s chest, preventing him from moving. Stefan closed his eyes, one palm coming to rest over them. He was tired. And he was desperate, so if Damon told him to just forget about all of it, well…
“Stefan.” Dropping the subject was obviously not an option because, after not receiving a reaction, he shook Stefan lightly and repeated, emphasizing each word “Stefan, look at me.” His voice was low, but strong as he caught Stefan’s wrist, pulling his arm over his head and keeping it in a secure grip on the floor. Stefan did as he was told. This was Damon, after all, and Damon was allowed do anything he wanted with him. He would gladly accept anything, gladly give anything, if only it were Damon who was asking, demanding, taking... Always. “I’m not leaving you. Not this time.”
Damon did not give fake promises, not when he looked that serious, not when there was something so tender, so frail and yet undeniably certain in his eyes. So Stefan let out a breath he never realised he was holding and the unpleasant burning in his chest diminished.
Damon easily, like always, caught on the change in the mood and flashed him one of his disarming, genuine smiles that he rarely gave. There was a barely detectable wicked glint in his eye as he leaned down and captured Stefan’s lips, his skillful tongue immediately finding its way inside, exploring and teasing and making the fire spread rapidly inside of him. Stefan could not help it; everything burst overwhelmingly again. His arms found their way around Damon’s waist, pulling him down, pulling him closer, ever closer. Damon chuckled into the kiss which might have bothered him once upon a time. This time, however, it made him feel safe.