waltzmatildah: (tvd: damon in close up)
[personal profile] waltzmatildah
Title: I'm All Out For The War
Fandom: The Vampire Diaries
Characters/Pairing: Damon and Katherine (and Elena)
Word Count: 2200
Rating: R (violence and imagery)
Prompt: For [livejournal.com profile] cassiehayes. Cause I built you a home in my heart, with rotten wood, it decayed from the start. Cause you can't find nothing at all, if there was nothing there all along.
Warning: Major character death
Spoilers: None
Summary: He hesitates. She doesn't.
Thank you: [livejournal.com profile] miss_blanche




He hesitates.

Holds his breath for a split second and stalls as his fingertips press against the solid muscle that surrounds her heart. It flutters against the pressure and she opens her eyes. Wide. Blinks.

She's crying silently and her heart is beating, feather soft, against his palm and so he hesitates.

He hesitates but she does not.





*






The first stake goes in just below his ribcage. Splits him in two. He fists his grip around the six inches of timber that has just gutted him and watches as the hole his hands had made in her chest knits itself back together seamlessly.

He coughs and an agony that pulses from midnight black to bright, bright white flares through every inch of him.

Blood, his own, bubbles in the back of his throat, slides, ropey thick, over the gentle curve of lips that drop to open in a beat.

She cocks her head a little to the left and laughs.

The sound is music.





*






She's severed his spinal cord with that one blow. He's numb. Dumbfounded. Only upright because she's holding him in place.

Blood, so much blood.

And confusion. And his eyes droop to closed before snapping open again. Wide.

Too wide. But it's getting harder and harder to keep them that way.

She has a second stake in position, just above where he imagines his heart used to live. All those months and decades and calendar pages ago.

His gaze drops to the point of it. Can already feel it piercing his skin.

The inevitability of what is coming next brings with it a semblance of peace that has so far eluded him. He's tired. So tired.

Of running. Of pretending.

Of all of it.





*






She ghosts cool finger tips down the length of his cheek. Brands him in the most final of ways. He licks at lips that are covered to slick and sliding with his own blackened blood.

Gags on the acrid tang as he swallows involuntarily.

“Why?”

The word erupts from somewhere low in his gut. Sounds weak, pathetic, even as he clings desperately to the hope for some kind of resolution.

“Why not?” Her voice is a chime. Echoes like a marching band through his shattered ribcage.

“I loved you.” A lie. He still does.

“Exactly.”

He prays that it will all be over soon.





*






She opens her mouth as though to add to the everything, to the nothing, that she has already said. Pushes her pursed lips against his forehead instead and shifts her angle by degrees.

It doesn't hurt anymore. And he's not scared.

And the idea of sleep, of deep, dreamless rest, brings a degree of relief that he thinks just might drown him.





*






The stake above his heart stutters then. And her face blanks. Mouth falling open to a perfect O as she sighs around a sob that he knows beyond doubt is not for him.

She looks so much like Elena in that moment. Young and innocent and a thousand other adjectives that she hasn't been in centuries.

Her grip on the sliver of wood loosens in the same split second that he slumps to the grassy carpet at her feet. He cries out. Can't quite bite down on the murmur of agony before it drops from his tongue.

Defeated.

He picks his gaze back up. Dizzy. Nauseous. Vomits blood that threatens to choke him as he fails to coordinate his paralysed limbs into anything resembling motion.

Blinking up at the stars that filter through the canopy he searches his peripheral vision for where she's surely standing over him.

Finds instead the night sky filled only with an endless inky black and as eyes roll sluggishly in their sockets he catches a glimpse of her curled by his side.

Lifeless.





*






Her fingers are fisted in his, tight even in death. And he can't quite remember how long they've been like that. Hours? Months? Fragmented split seconds?

There's movement then. An unholy commotion as the sky seems to explode above him. Around him.

Inside him.

Her face is contorted. A perpetual scream that he knows now he'll never manage to erase. The image etched as it is on the underside of his eyelids.

Tattoo sharp.

Something in him shifts. Realisation hits hard and fast and he curls her fingers into his. Wonders what letting go will feel like.





*






Darkness comes. Anvil heavy. Drags him so far down into the abyss he's not sure he'll find the badly lit path back out.

A slide show plays out across his synapses. Running. Laughing. Her loose curls tangled for eternity between his fingers. Lips and thighs and endless smiles that all amount to nothing in the end.

A game. Very little else.





*






Awareness is a blade that splits him in two. He screams.

Can't even bring himself to care.

Wishes for the end with the power of a thousand suns.

There are hands on his face. Raking across his tortured chest. He slits his eyelids, saltwater burning, and tries to focus through the haze of pain and blood and complete despair.

“Shhhh... it's going to be okay.”

Whoever it is that owns those words, he does not believe them.





*






An image morphs from blurred to crystal cut and back again.

It's her. He is sure of it. The gnarled corpse by his side nothing more than a morbid hallucination. A side effect of the fact that the ground beneath him is blood muddy.

“Damon, open your eyes...”

He complies but only because obeying her always was second nature to him. She looks different. He longs to bring his fingertips to the tears that carve her face into pieces.

To banish them in the only way he knows how.

I forgive you, I forgive you, I forgive you...

A mantra on repeat.





*






The stake is still where she's plunged it. He watches, fascinated, as it moves up and down with each gurgling inhale. Exhale. Inhale. His legs are a dead weight and the sensation is oddly grounding. Waits with baited breath for the rest of him to catch up.

A pair of blood stained hands come into view and wrap around the exposed wood. He closes his eyes because he's gathered enough lucidity to know that nothing good can come from what must happen next.

“Oh, god. Oh, god. Oh, god.”

Snaps them open again amid a stunning realisation.

Elena.

Not Katherine.

Elena.





*






“Where is she?” He sounds drunk inside his own skull as the words reverberate hollowly. He rolls his head to the side. To the other side. Back again.

Panic settles deep in the space where all his blood has leaked from. Takes up a permanent kind of residence.

“Shhh, Damon it's okay.”

Her voice catches on his name. It always does.

“I can't get it out... I can't... Caroline is coming back. She'll fix it, I can't-” Her hands are flapping uselessly above his chest. Like she's forgotten what to do with them.

He catches one in his. Only just manages the coordination required.

“Where's Katherine?” Slurred and liquid thick around the blood on his teeth.

“She's- I'm so sorry- She was going to- I-”

And the way she can't quite finish a sentence is all the answer he needs...





*






“Can't feel my legs...”

He's always wanted to say that. The dramatic nature of the simple syllables when grouped together in such a manner, oddly intriguing.

Shocking.

It doesn't disappoint.

“What did you say?” Fingers tighten around his wrist. Draw it away from him, towards her, by inches and feet.

He coughs again, inhales more of his own blood. It's a gradual trickle now when compared to the start of this unravelling. And he's slowly becoming accustomed to the taste.

“I can't...” He trails off because the point will be more than lost on her and his motivation for inane conversation topics is falling sharply. “Doesn't matter...”

And it really doesn't.

In the grand scheme of things.





*






He hears shouting then. And the rumble and crash of feet on forest floor. The hysteria in his veins rises by degrees.

He writhes against the sound of screaming inside his skull. Feels his fist connect with something solid.

Ice.

Her.

He moans, deep. Wraps fingers that shake and stutter around the weapon that threads his chest. Struggles to grip the barbed timber where his insides have coated it, slick and sliding.

Needs it gone. Now.





*






When he wakes again the mocking sun is high in the sky. Falls in lines through drapes that have been pulled hastily askew. A weight shifts at the foot of his bed. He catches her scent, rolls sideways lest his gaze settle on the shadows that cross the planes of her face.

Lest he can't bring himself to look away...





*






He leaves her sleeping. Lips parted, fists gathered in the filthy sheet that had been wrapped around his broken body.

He showers. Leaves his jeans on. Ruined as they already are. Runs unsteady palms over the flat plane of his stomach. Bounces fingertips across the heaving expanse of his ribcage. Sees nothing left there but blood and betrayal.

Still can't quite fit all the pieces of what he knows into a picture that makes sense.

Slides his weight down the water slick tiles 'til he's knees on chin under the scalding stream. Wraps arms around shin bones and pulls tight. A misguided attempt to keep everything inside.

I loved you...

Exactly.






*






There is movement then. Cold air across his shoulder blades as she slides in beside him. Curls her arms around his. Pulls him, shattered, against her until they're both lost in the steam.

“I'm not sorry,” she whispers, presses her lips to a point just south of his right ear. “Not for what I did.”

He tenses to solid stone beneath the weight of her words. Feels his insides shift and then stand still.

“But I am so sorry for what she did to you...”

And there is no stake this time but the memory remains red raw.

The pain in his chest is shocking and he lifts his head, opens his eyes. Half expects to see rivers of blood curling between his toes, twisting a garish path towards the drain. Washing him away completely.

But he's never been privy to that kind of luck.





*






“I hate her.”

And it doesn't even sound like him. Rings hollow. Like lies and half truths.

“No you don't.”

She's right. She's always right when it comes to him.





*






She unwraps her arms. Chunks of him fall away as she does so. Fight for position at the lip of the drain. He pushes them down with the heel of his hand as she cuts off the water and drags towels into where they're still slumped to seated in the puddles.

And he thinks she doesn't even notice that he's less than he was only seconds ago. Missing vital pieces that have dripped and faded to nothing.

She lifts her fingers to his chin, tilts his jaw 'til he can't escape.

“Damon.”

And it's her voice and her face and her wet hair that hangs, ragged.

“I can't-” He stops because he doesn't know how that sentence ends.

Doesn't know how it ends without heaping guilt and pity and an aching kind of avoidance on her already overburdened shoulders.

He can't look at her.

But then, he can't look away either.





*






She's wrapped thick, white towels around them both but they're yet to move. The pooled water turning to ice cold beneath where they're still tangled together.

He'd shiver if he hadn't already been frozen for decades.

She's still staring back at him. An unbridled mixture of fear and concern as she waits for the words that will complete his unfinished declaration.

He swallows them down. A denial of sorts. The motion is achingly familiar.

A ragged inhale expands and contracts around the phantom pain in his ribs and he sighs against a cracked sob that catches up to him before he's quite managed to regain what little remains of his composure.

He smirks because it's what he does best. Breaks her eye contact with a flick of his chin.

“I can't... believe Stefan hasn't barged in here yet.”

Forced light.

“You should probably go.”




*





She drops her gaze. Reads between his lines perfectly despite the half-hearted attempt at subterfuge.

Nods her head, a silent yeah, I should...

She's almost out the door when he finds his voice again.

“Elena?”

She stops but doesn't turn back and he's more grateful in that moment than he ever remembers being previously.

“Thank you.”

She shrugs, offers him a half glance.

“You'd do it for me.”
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