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Human Delena

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Damon was watching Elena in her beautiful bridesmaid’s dress. He was going to have to thank Jo for that later. Alaric deserved to be happy. That man had lost more girlfriends to supernatural deaths than any regular person could without losing their marbles.

Damon couldn’t help but picture a different wedding as he listened to his friend speak his vows. Damon could see his future so clearly it scared him. It was a strange kind of fear, not the kind you hide from but rather the sort you run to. An exciting sort of terror. He couldn’t explain it better than that, even to himself but the smallest chance of one lifetime of human happiness with Elena was worth the risk. When Damon had asked Elena where she thought she would be in five years she had seen a whole future while he had seen only her. Elena wanted a future with a career and children. She wanted the whole package and Damon was determined to give her that since all he needed in this world was her.

Alaric and Jo ran down the aisle together, smiles plastered across their faces. Damon heard them laughing as they got into their car outside the church. He smiled as he moved through the crowd to stand beside Elena. He gazed at her and tried to express with his eyes what he was thinking. Everyone had their humanity back. Stefan had mother well in hand. Kai was safely locked away and he had passed all of Elena’s silly tests.

Damon had kept his resolve through all of her attempts to talk him out of it. Stefan’s attempts to show him the worse possible version of his future had come so close to working but in the end it had been a simple observation that had cemented Damon’s resolve. That old married couple getting out of the car together. They had been talking in such an ordinary way. Damon wasn’t totally sure what about although he recalled something regarding leftovers. What he did remember was the husband grabbing his wife’s ass. Damon smiled just thinking about it. The look on the woman’s face had been so affectionate, so loving. The couple had kissed then walked arm in arm into the house and Damon had known with perfect clarity that was what he wanted. He wanted that with Elena.

What Elena didn’t understand was that each time he had previously rejected the cure it had been partly due to the cure representing him losing Elena. The first time he viewed her feelings as nothing more than the sire bond and her being cured of vampirism would have meant her running back into Stefan’s arms. The very thought of losing her to Stefan while never really having her at all had knotted up his stomach and twisted his heart. The second time being cured would have meant growing old and dying in her arms a handful of years later while she stayed young and strong forever. Both those times had also been before he’d truly believed she loved him. When the truth of his failure to tell her about his possession of the cure had poured from him, her first reaction was to stay a vampire for him, to give up her future for him. But it was his turn to make sacrifices for her. His turn to bend to what she wanted.

“I’m ready,” Damon said as he took her hand and stared at the only face he had ever truly loved

“Are you sure?” Elena asked again.

“Did you forget my romantic speech earlier?” Damon teased. “I thought I was quite clear.”

“That speech landed us in the hay,” Elena laughed.

“You are my life,” Damon said refusing to be distracted even for such lovely reasons. “I want to give you everything you ever wanted.”

“What about what you want?” Elena asked. “Isn’t that important to you?”

“All I want is you,” Damon said. “There is nothing you could ever say or do that could change that.”

Elena pulled her hair back and tilted her head to expose her neck more. Damon knew he had to drink her blood to consume the cure but the gesture of trust still touched him. He didn’t deserve this woman but for some unfathomable reason he had her unconditional love and trust.

“Don’t kill me,” Elena teased him. Damon rolled his eyes at her.

“That would totally defeat the purpose,” he said. She beamed at him, her smile lighting up his world.

“Are you wearing vervain?” Damon asked her, his eyes habitually flitting to her throat where the locket had once rested. That felt like an age ago now.

“No why?”

“This isn’t going to hurt,” Damon compelled her then ignoring her beautiful neck for the moment he kissed her lips and pulled her close against him. She responded to him like she always did, her arms encircling him. He moved down her jaw line, trailing kissing behind him. When he reached her pulse point he gentled broke her skin and began to drink her blood. As he had compelled her, she felt no pain. Most vampires only compelled their victims to stay silent or still but removing the mind’s ability to register pain was also possible. Damon liked that the last act of compulsion he would ever perform would be to spare his true love pain. Her blood tasted different with the cure running through it and soon Damon could feel his body absorbing the change. It was subtle however and he guessed if he didn’t know it was happening he wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference.

Years of experience told Damon when he needed to stop. He took as much as he could without doing her lasting harm. Katarina had been almost completely drained to give the cure to Silos but there was no way he was willing to risk that with Elena.

“That’s why you wanted to know if I was on vervain,” Elena said shaking her head at him as he pulled away with blood on his mouth. “Painkillers.”

“I didn’t want to hurt you,” Damon said. She wasn’t in pain but the holes in her neck twisted something in his stomach. His first instinct was to feed her his blood to heal her but he knew vampire blood couldn’t heal a cured vampire. His second thought was that he wasn’t a vampire anymore so that wouldn’t work either.

“How do you feel?” Elena asked. Rather than reply Damon felt in his mouth for fangs and found none. He grabbed a pin out of her hair and pricked his finger… it didn’t heal.

“Human,” he said awed. “How do you feel?” he asked anxiously. “You’re probably a bit light headed. We need to find you something to eat.”

“I am fine,” Elena said but she stumbled. Damon caught her and she felt so much heavier in his arms like she ever had before. Of course it wasn’t so much that Elena was heavier but that then he was weaker. This was going to take some getting used to. Damon made a mental note to ask Alaric to train him in human fighting. Being human was one thing but being powerless was another. When you spend over a century and a half relying on your super-human speed and strength you forget how to fight like a human.

“You are not fine,” Damon said, putting his arm around her. “Come on. It’s food time.”

As Damon guided her to the buffet he noticed how dull the world was. It was like someone had turned the volume down from blasting to almost muted. His vision wasn’t quite as good but it was the lack of super hearing he noticed more. The change in his sense of smell shocked him. His nose suddenly didn’t care he was in a room full of dancing, blood filled humans with pounding heartbeats. He had become so accustomed to his awareness of blood. His nose’s sudden interest in the buffet was quite startling.

“What is that smell?” Damon asked her.

“You mean the food?” Elena teased him. “Been awhile since you cared about that huh?”

Damon grinned at her then went to get them plates. He watched to make sure Elena was eating before he dug in. It tasted so much better than it had as a vampire. Sure fries were still fries when you had fangs but your body didn’t want or need them. It was all in your head. Now his mind and body wanted the food the way his body and mind had once wanted blood. The simple joy in eating food and feeling his stomach fill was surprising as well. Damon was on his second plate full when his brother came over.

“You actually did it,” Stefan said, awed. Damon knew Stefan could smell the difference, and was probably now thinking about Damon’s human blood in his veins.

“Don’t go getting any ideas ripper,” Damon teased. If a vampire drank from Damon the cure would leave his body and he would experience a century and a half’s worth of aging within a few weeks. Not something that sounded particularly appealing.

“Relax,” Stefan said. “But you really do smell weird.”

“It’s like the whole world is on mute,” Damon said. “I can’t hear the cars down the street anymore.”

“What horror,” Stefan teased. Damon knew his brother was joking but Damon could also see the pain behind his brother’s eyes. Damon wouldn’t be in Stefan’s life in another hundred and fifty years. Damon felt slightly bad for Stefan but he knew if their roles had been reversed Stefan would have done the same and left Damon alone so he refused to feel too bad.

Jeremy arrived late to the wedding and Damon watched as Bonnie saw him for the first time since getting out of the prison world. He loved the happy look on Bonnie’s face.

“Is it weird how happy you and Bonnie being friends makes me?” Elena asked as she held his hand in hers.

“I didn’t become friends with her for you,” Damon said. “But I am glad it makes you happy.”

“You make me happy Damon,” Elena said. “You, Damon Salvatore, are standing here in front of me, human for my sake and I still almost can’t believe it.”

Damon wrapped his arms around her, feeling the still new weakness in his muscles, and pulled her in for a kiss. He didn’t have to check himself to make sure he didn’t hurt her. It’s true he hadn’t had to check himself when they were both vampires. Though she had been human for the last few days while he was still a vampire and he noticed the difference.

“I love you Elena Gilbert,” Damon whispered to her. It didn’t need to be said; his actions had shown it so much more than words ever could but Damon wanted to say it all the same.

“I love you too Damon Salvatore.”

Chapter Text

Damon understood now that there was no difference in how much you loved someone, no matter if you were a human or a vampire. His attraction and devotion to Elena hadn’t changed now he was human and neither had hers for him. Damon could still remember how hard it was to answer Elena’s question honestly when she had asked if they would be together if she wasn’t a vampire. At the time she had no memory of their time together. He had thought about lying to her, telling her they had been together when she was human but he couldn’t bring himself to do it. Instead he choked out the truth and let the fear of losing her settle in his chest. Of course his Elena wasn’t swayed by his words but spurred on by them. He had listened to her say it didn’t matter if she was human or a vampire and it didn’t matter if she had memories of them or not; it only mattered that they were together now. He had yearned for her for so long he fell into her embrace without thought, even if he didn’t totally believe her at the time. She had no memories, how could she know for sure?

“Remember when you asked me if I thought we would be together if you were still human?” Damon asked voicing his thoughts.

“Of course I do,” Elena said. “That was the first time we were together… at least according to one set of my memories. Why do you ask?”

“My answer to your question then was no,” Damon said.

“But I explained how awesome we are and you believed me,” Elena interrupted cheerfully as she packed her text books.

“I only wanted to believe you then,” Damon corrected. Elena stopped packing and turned to face him.

“And now?” she asked.

“Now I am human,” Damon said. “I know you being a vampire didn’t change how you felt about me because me being human didn’t change how I felt about you.” Elena smiled, forgetting her books she came close and wrapped her arms around him.

“Did I ever tell you about the moment I fell in love with you?” Elena asked.

“No,” Damon said. “That is quite the mystery to me.”

“Don’t tell Stefan,” Elena said grinning. “But it was during that summer when he was missing with Klaus.” Damon’s mouth fell open as he gazed at her. That had been so long ago. He had spent that summer wanting his brother’s girl and feeling guilty for not wanting his brother to come home to her. Damon was speechless.

“On my birthday,” Elena said. “You walked into my room and gave me the necklace that represented hope for me and Stefan. I knew you loved me and I knew how hard that gesture was for you but you did it anyway and in that moment I loved you.”

“Then why?” Damon asked. “I mean it was years after that before…”

“Oh, I didn’t want to love you then,” Elena said, laughing.

“What changed your mind?” Damon asked, suddenly very intent on the answer.

“You did,” Elena said. “In that motel you showed me the side of you I always believed was there somewhere. And lying in the bed next to you all I wanted to do was kiss you. I tried to get up hoping that would clear my head but you followed me and--” Rather than let her finish the sentence Damon leaned in to kiss her just like they had that night. Damon always felt a thrill run through him when she responded to his touch, throwing herself into the kiss.

“And when I became a vampire,” Elena said when they inevitably pulled apart for air. The need to breathe was still new to Damon; he was used to it only being a convenience. As a vampire he had needed air to talk and smell but that was it. Now his body craved the oxygen and quickly demanded it when deprived of it.

“I made you feel alive,” Damon said. “But you made me feel human.”

“Don’t you mean made you become human?” Elena replied, only half joking.

“You didn’t force me to do this, Elena,” Damon told her not for the first time.

“I don’t like the idea of you just waiting around for me all day while I am in class,” Elena said, glancing to her text books on the floor.

 

“Stefan might come over today,” Damon defended himself. She gave him a look and he added. “And I hung out with Enzo just last week. Happy?”

“Of course I’m happy,” Elena said, exasperated. “I have my human life and you! Two things I never in my wildest dreams thought I would have at the same time. But are you happy?” Damon took her face in both his hands and he gazed into her eyes before he spoke.

“I’m with you,” Damon said. “There is no way I could be anything but happy.” Elena rolled her eyes.

“Damon!” she said. “I mean it. Aren’t you bored?”

“Five years in a cell with nothing to do but wait for torture was painfully boring,” Damon said. “Four months reliving 1994 was dreadfully dull. Waiting over a century for Katherine was… well stupid in retrospect but also boring. Trust me, being human isn’t boring.”

“How is it so different?” Elena asked.

“Now I know every day is finite,” Damon said. “Every day I age and come one step closer to death.”

“Morbid much!” she said. Damon sighed. She didn’t get it; she had only been a vampire for a few years.

“I have travelled the world,” Damon said. “I have lived through so many wars they all blur together. I been on earth for 173 years, Elena. I know you can’t understand how long that is but try for a moment to picture it.” Elena closed her eyes and Damon stroked the side of her face as he continued. “Remember the morning we awoke together for the first time?” She nodded, smiling. “You asked me what the look on my face was and I said I was happy. That has been the look on my face every morning since we took the cure together and I don’t regret it for a second.”

“Not even a little?” Elena asked.

“Don’t get me wrong,” Damon said. “I miss a lot of things: The strength, the speed, the ability to compel people. They were super convenient but-” he paused and she opened her eyes to gaze at him. “No, I have never regretted being human for you.”

“Fine,” Elena said. “But will you at least find hobby or something? In our little fantasy plan you owned a bar, remember?”

 

“In Stefan’s fake nightmare I drank my way through that bar,” Damon replied, casually looking down at the floor between them. “Better not to risk it.”

“Are you worried you will become a drunk?” Elena asked him with a slight teasing in her tone.

“Maybe,” Damon said but he couldn’t disguise his answer as a joke. Elena saw right through him. She placed her hand under his chin and raised his face to meet her eyes.

“I am not worried,” Elena said. “Besides, my father was part of the organization that tortured vampires so who am I to talk!”

“Did I never tell you that my father was a drunk?” Damon asked.

“No,” Elena said. “You never talk about him.”

“It was the only part of Stefan’s stupid test that really shook me,” Damon said. “I don’t want to become my father.”

“You are not your father,” Elena said so sincerely that Damon’s worries vanished. Elena’s faith in him was his foundation.

“No bar,” Elena said. “What do you want instead?”

Damon snapped out of his memories easily and turned to her. “I want you,” he said and he kissed her, his hand on her lower back as they wrapped themselves around each other.

“Hold that thought,” Elena said as she broke away panting. “I am gonna be late for class.” Damon grinned at her as he kissed her quickly one last time on the lips before releasing her and watching her leave fondly.

Chapter Text

Damon stared at his nemesis from across the room with determination. He would rather have fought off an angry pack of werewolves than do this. He would rather pull wooden spikes out of his torso or drink vervain than do this. Not that vervain could actually hurt him anymore and that kind of injury to his chest would just kill him now, but you know what they said about old habits.

However, this was for Elena.

Damon took a deep breath then stepped forward to do the horrific task. Damon had only begun when he was saved by the sound of familiar laughter. He jumped slightly. Had this been his first days as a human he would have jumped about a foot in the air. Damon was slowly getting used to this strange muted world where he couldn’t hear a car down the street or someone enter his house silently.

“The great Damon Salvatore, how you have fallen.”

“Ha ha, very funny,” Damon sneered as he turned around. “I made a promise; she will be home soon!” Damon wasn’t sure why he was anxious. Elena wouldn’t leave him over this, he was sure, but that didn’t mean he wanted to disappoint her either.

“You better get back to work then.”

“Can’t you help?” Damon whined.

“No,” Bonnie said as she pulled up a chair. “I think I would rather sit back and watch.” Damon groaned. Best friend indeed! Just when he thought things couldn’t get any worse.

 

“How’s Jeremy?” Damon asked trying to avoid thinking about what he was doing.

“We broke up,” Bonnie said. Damon froze, stunned. Using the surprise as an excuse to take a break Damon turned and gave his best friend an incredulous look.

“Let me get this straight,” Damon said. “You brought him back from the dead twice because you loved him so damn much, giving up your own life in the process the second time. He didn’t get off the couch for months when you died the second time, then once he learned you weren’t as dead he followed you into a prison world not knowing if he would ever come out or not. It’s only been a few weeks since you found each other again and you already broke up!” Damon paused for effect then added. “If he dumped you I’ll-”

“Before you make a threat Elena will hate you for,” Bonnie said. “He didn’t dump me. It was mutual.” Damon turned back to his task but his vengeful feelings were only slightly calmed. “A different Bonnie returned from 1994 and Jeremy changed a lot too. I still care about him but we are going our own way for now.”

“Hmph,” Damon said.

“So,” Bonnie said as she watched him. “How’s being human treating you?”

“I’m still getting used to it,” Damon said. “A hundred and seventy odd years is a long time. My memories of being human are very foggy.”

“I bet,” Bonnie said.

“Stefan is still unhappy about it but on the plus side Caroline isn’t avoiding him anymore,” Damon said cheerfully. “And I have a feeling once he is with her he’ll be less mad at me.”

“You would make Stefan's happiness about you,” Bonnie sighed. Damon was turned back to his task and after a moment Bon Bon added, “You suck at this by the way.”

“I know!” Damon said, throwing his hands in the air and hoping to splash Bonnie with water.

“Why did you tell Elena you would do it?”

“Because I am an idiot who can’t say no to her,” Damon yelled. He dropped the dish towel and backed away from the sink. “When I was growing up men didn’t do dishes.”

“Don’t give me that crap,” Bonnie said. “You are more in touch with the 21 century then most people a third of your age.”

“Still, I was born in the 19th century and I think that should count for something,” Damon whined.

“Yeah it does. It means you’re a cradle robber,” Bonnie noted. “And in no way affects your ability to wash plates.”

“If I hire a maid does that count as me doing the dishes?” Damon asked.

“No,” Bonnie said laughing at him. Damon threw the wet dish towel at her with horrible aim. Alaric and Jo had moved out of Mystic Fall the day after their wedding and Damon missed his friend more than he cared to admit, but he also wanted Alaric around to teach him how to be a less pathetic human.

“Your aim sucks!” Bonnie observed as she watched the towel fly past her head without even grazing her. “Were all your skills linked to being a vampire? Cause the Damon I remember wasn’t so pathetic.”

“You little…” Damon charged and either his best friend was humoring him or he had caught her unawares. He had one hand over her mouth to stop her from chanting any magic hocus pocus while the other hand found the ticklish spot on her ribs. Bonnie twitched and laughed under his grip but Damon was forced to let her go when she bit his hand.

“Ouch!” Damon complained. He let her go and took a step back, gazing at the sore red spot on his skin. “I miss vampire healing.”

“Oh please!” Bonnie said, her laughter switching to exasperation. “That is barely a scratch.”

 

“Yeah, but it’s a scratch that will still be there tomorrow,” Damon combined. “May I remind you that for the last century and a half every cut I ever got healed in seconds.”

 

“Blah blah blah,” Bonnie said as both her hands came up to miming talking. “Wuss.”

“Why are you here?” Damon asked through gritted teeth.

“Well I did plan on asking for your help but since it has been established that you are useless now I will just go find someone else,” Bonnie grinned and Damon guessed she hadn’t come for help at all but merely to annoy him.

“Bonnie,” Damon said. “The door is that way.”

 

“But watching you fail to be domestic has been the highlight of my day,” Bonnie said as she settled back into her chair to watch him fail.

“Then your day must suck.”

Damon saw in her face that he had hit home. With a great sigh Damon collapsed into a chair next to her.

“What’s wrong Bon Bon?”

“I’m lonely,” Bonnie said after a moment's hesitation. “Jeremy’s gone. Caroline and Stefan are all coupled up. You and Elena are too. I’m not saying it’s anyone’s fault but my friends are all I have and I just… I don’t know.”

“It’s funny,” Damon said softly. “But in this moment you remind me of Enzo.”

“Enzo?” Bonnie asked.

“He just told me the other day that he was feeling adrift,” Damon said. “Lily rejected him. She has been obsessed with trying to get her friends out of that prison world.”

“Please don’t tell me you are trying to set me up with Enzo?” Bonnie said.

“If that’s what you want,” Damon teased.

“Definitely not,” Bonnie said.

“Okay…” Damon said. “Anyway, my point was not everyone is coupled up. How about Matt eh? He is still single right?” Bonnie gave him that look he loved, the one that showed affection while still reminding Damon he was being stupid.

“Too good for Matt eh?” Damon teased. Bonnie picked up the towel from the floor and threw it back at him with perfect aim. Man, he missed vampire reflexes.

“Oh please,” Bonnie said. “I knew Matt when I was nine and there is nothing sexy about him.”

Damon peeled the towel off his face as he heard the front door open. Elena was always too forceful with the door while Bonnie was able to open it silently. Forgetting about getting back at Bonnie, Damon dropped the towel to the floor and moved quickly to the front door.

“Oh Da--,” Elena started but he didn’t let her finish speaking. His lips covered hers and the bag she was holding fell to the ground as she wrapped her arms around him. He hadn’t seen her since she had left for classes that morning. They only pulled apart when the sound of Bonnie loudly clearing her throat burst their illusion of privacy.

“Sorry Bonnie,” Elena said but she was smiling at him rather than looking past him to Bon Bon.

“How was your day?” Damon asked. Elena took a step back and looked down at her damp shirt. Damon’s dish washing attempts had soaked his shirt.

“How was yours?” Elena asked skeptically.

“Experimental,” Damon replied. “Can I please just hire a maid!” Elena rolled her eyes are him.

“That’s my cue to leave,” Bonnie said. “See you love birds later.”

“You know where to find me if you want a date with Enzo,” Damon called after her. Bonnie flipped him the finger as she walked out and Damon laughed.

“That girl does grow on you,” Damon said.

“Are you really going to set her up with Enzo?” Elena asked.

“Nah,” Damon said. “But it was too fun to bug her about it. We should see her more often though.”

“Is she okay?”

“She is lonely,” Damon said. “Maybe you, Bon Bon and Blondie need to have a girls’ night.”

“Good idea,” Elena said. Damon asked her about her classes and her day as they moved into the living room. Damon watched her face as she talked, making sure to listen to every word. He found this easy to do this since his selfish nature wanted every detail of her life when she wasn’t with him.

“Experimental huh?” Elena interrupted her own monologue as she spotted the mess in the kitchen.

“Dish washing isn’t my thing,” Damon said.

“I can see that,” Elena said shaking her head. She turned to face him more seriously. “You can hire a maid if you want but you have to do something all day besides wait for me to come home. How is that hobby going?”

“Well I have ruled out another one,” Damon said grinning at her.

“Oh?”

“Caroline tried to get me to be a party planner,” Damon said. “It amused Stefan far more than strictly necessary.” Damon ground his teeth together.

“Stefan likes to fix cars,” Elena said. “You could try that?”

“Oh yes let’s just copy my baby brother,” Damon said sarcastically. “That’s perfect.”

“Okay how about a career rather than a hobby,” Elena suggested.

“The last job I had was being a solider in the American Civil War and I defected,” Damon reminded her, laughing. “I am so not responsible enough for a job.”

“Sometimes I forget--”

 

“How old I am?” Damon said laughing. “Well I suppose Bonnie did accuse me of being a cradle robber.”

“Technically she is right,” Elena said.

“You don’t seem to be complaining,” Damon said as he traced his fingers across the skin of her neck and arms. She closed her eyes as he slowly started to undo the buttons on her shirt, then gently tracing his fingers across her skin, he pulled her shirt over her head.

“Why would I complain?” Elena said breathlessly as he kissed her collarbone down to her navel. As he continued his dedicated exploration of his girlfriend’s body, his ring made contact with her skin. She opened her eyes to look at him.

“You’re still wear that ring,” she said exasperated. He decided her lips had better uses than talking as he seized them in a kiss. She gave in and started to strip his shirt off.

They were both naked and breathing hard when the door opened. Damon’s dulled human senses were consumed by Elena’s presence; he heard nothing. There were footsteps down the hall and two people talking as they entered the house. When Stefan and Caroline stood in the living room, Damon and Elena finally noticed. Elena blushed deeply and pulled the blanket from the couch over herself. Damon wasn’t fazed.

“When you live alone you can do that,” Stefan said. “But this is my house too.” Caroline turned away to hide her face in Stefan’s shoulder and Damon knew it was only him she was affronted by. He grinned.

“Sorry,” Elena said as she hastily got dressed. Damon wasn’t going to bother until Elena glared at him but even then he only wrapped the blanket around his waist.

Elena ran up the stairs to Damon’s bedroom giggling and Damon followed close behind. He shut the door behind them and dropped the blanket covering him.

“Now where were we?” he asked grinning. “Oh yes I believe we were right about here.” He pulled her into his arms and skillfully removed the few clothes she had managed to put back on.

Chapter Text

Damon blinked his sleepy eyes. Elena was late coming home; something about a job opportunity for after graduation. Damon wasn’t technically tired but the task at hand was making him wish he was asleep.

“Damon!” his brother scolded him.

“What?” Damon said shaking his head as if he could hide the fact he had dozed off.

“Pay attention.”

“Sorry,” Damon mumbled. “Can’t you just do it for me?”

“No.”

“Why not?” Damon said. “You can’t give me the ‘you will need to know this when I am gone’ speech because we all know you’ll outlive me.”

“That is not the point,” Stefan said. “And I am still mad at you for that by the way.”

 

“Oh boo hoo!” Damon said. “I deprived you of an eternity with me. It’s not like we spent most of the last century together anyway. In fact, I remember you wishing me gone most of the time. Now you will finally get your wish.” Stefan glared at him and Damon knew this wasn’t the best way to defend himself. “And let’s not pretend for a second you wouldn’t have done the same thing in my place.”

Stefan didn’t say anything but his jaw clenched. Damon grinned. He knew if Elena had chosen Stefan it would have been Stefan who was living a human life with her not him. Damon did sometimes feel guilty for stealing his brother’s girl but it was less now than it had been before. After Stefan was healed of that now and happy with Caroline.

“Told you,” Damon said grinning but he softened his tone as he added. “Caroline wants to stay a vampire so you and her have all of eternity. Elena wants to be human so I get one lifetime.” Damon decided not to add that he totally had the better deal. Damon had had Caroline when she was a human, or rather had used her as a human blood bag, and Elena was far superior. “It’s just how things worked out.” Damon smiled at his brother and tried to convey his apologies for stealing Elena though he was not going to say such a thing out loud.

“I am not the one who can’t do his own taxes,” Stefan replied, changing the topic back to the matter at hand.

“Taxes are stupid,” Damon said. “They only added them during the war to fund it. Little bastards promised to get rid of them after that but here we are decades later and still being taxed.”

 

“Ah but that’s income tax,” Stefan said. “This is your property taxes.” Damon groaned. All taxes were stupid. He’d hired a maid. Why couldn’t be hire an accountant too?

“Brother, if you love me at all you will do the horrible paperwork for me,” Damon said.

“Don’t you remember our little chat while you were still a vampire?” Stefan said. “I did tell you taxes and paperwork came with the deal.”

“But you are so great at taxes,” Damon said, with as much pleading as he could muster. “Please do them for me, oh wonderful saintly brother.”

“Flattery won’t get you anywhere,” Stefan growled. “I used to do them but then you moved out, remember?”

“I didn’t move out so you would stop doing my taxes,” Damon said. “I moved out so Elena and I could have sex in the kitchen without you walking in.”

“It was the living room,” Stefan replied, wrinkling his nose at the memory.

“It was the living room the first time,” Damon corrected with a glint in his eyes. “Then the kitchen.”

“Taxes are part of being human,” Stefan said.

“No, taxes are part of fitting into human society,” Damon said. “Which you know all about, but being human is my thing now.”

Stefan glared at Damon for a moment then his expression softened and he asked in a whisper, “What’s it like?”

“No bloodlust,” Damon said. “Food smells good and tastes better. My hearing sucks! My aim sucks even more and I have the upper body strength of a noodle. Bruises take forever to heal. Seriously I stubbed my toe yesterday and it still hurts!”

“Says the guy who has been tortured more times than I can count,” Stefan said with a sigh.

“I am not saying it hurts a lot,” Damon said. “It’s just so weird that it still hurts at all. I used to be able to break every bone in my body, recover in moments and brush it off without a thought. Now a slight bruise persists for days.” Stefan shook his head. Damon placed his hands on the table absently.

“Why are you still wearing your daylight ring?” Stefan asked.

 

“Why not?”

“Well you don’t need it anymore.”

“You sound like Elena,” Damon said annoyed.

“How so?”

 

“So doesn’t get why I still wear it,” Damon said. “She keeps thinking it’s me trying to hold onto being a vampire.”

“And is it?”

“No,” Damon said.

“Then why are you wearing it?” Stefan asked. Damon was saved from answering by the doorbell. He jumped up and ran to get the door. He could have let Stefan get it but he wanted to escape his interrogatory brother. When Damon opened his front door, Enzo stood in the doorway.

“Hey!” Damon said. “Glad you found the place.”

“Damon Salvatore, shacked up and human,” Enzo said. “Never thought I’d see the day.” Damon stepped aside to let Enzo enter before he remembered Enzo hadn’t been invited in yet.

“Come in Enzo,” Damon said and his friend stepped over the the threshold. “What can I get for you?”

“What do you have?”

“B positive,” Damon said. “Or bourbon.” He paused then added. “Or both.”

“Why do you have blood in the house?” Stefan laughed.

“For guests,” Damon answered easily.

“B positive works for me,” Enzo said taking a seat at the breakfast bar. Stefan requested one as well and Damon went about playing host by serving his guests. It still felt strange to see blood and not want it. He smiled to himself as he handed the glasses of red liquid over.

When the doorbell rang, Stefan said it was Caroline and got up to answer it. Damon knew his brother had heard her car down the road as well as her voice even if Damon’s hearing was too pathetic to know who was at the door before he answered it. Despite the limitations in hearing, human senses weren’t all that bad. Damon often found himself counting the benefits of being human. As he remembered one in particular, Damon followed his brother down the hall to the front door where Caroline stood stuck in the doorway.

“Come in Caroline,” Damon said.

“Ah right,” Stefan said, surprised.

“You really aren’t used to me being human are you brother,” Damon said laughing.

“It seems not,” Stefan replied. Damon fixed Caroline the same drink as the other vampires, and they all sat and talked idly while they waited for everyone else to arrive. This was what Elena had called a house warming. They had just moved in a week ago. It was a smallish place but it had two bedrooms. Elena said she wanted it for guests but Damon hadn’t been fooled. She was thinking ahead which was fine with him. Since Bonnie had handed him that cure he had done nothing but think about the future so why shouldn’t she?

When Bon Bon arrived a few minutes later she walked right in like she owned the place and planted herself right in Damon’s favourite chair, knowing full well it was his favourite chair. Damon pretended to be annoyed with her but he quite liked it when she did that.

“Bonnie,” Stefan said. “How he hasn’t killed you yet is beyond me.”

“But he would never kill me,” Bonnie said grinning at him. “I heard that voicemail you left me.” Damon blinked, staring at her in shock. He had thought that lost to the void long ago. “Jeremy kept paying my phone bill,” Bonnie continued. “So after about a million from him I heard the one from you.”

“Great,” Damon said sarcastically. “My sentimental moment recorded forever. I hope you deleted it.” Bonnie grinned at him wickedly before she spoke.

“The one time I’m actively seeking the sound of your voice, that’s all I get.”

“You memorized it,” Damon sighed. “Fantastic.”

“Defying all possible global scenarios I might miss you a little bit,” Bonnie said in the most annoying voice humanly possible.

“I didn’t say it like that!” Damon defended himself. “I was all grateful and sorry and crap.”

“We will agree there,” Bonnie said grinning. “You are crap.” Damon was saved from having to answer when his front door flew open and his girlfriend jumped into his arms. All else forgotten, Damon held Elena.

“I got the job Damon!” Elena cried. She had pulled out of the job to jump up and down like a kid on Christmas morning.

“That’s great!” Damon exclaimed. She stopped jumping for a moment and he lifted her up into his arms with some effort and whirled her around.

“Oh right!” Elena said when he put her down and she took in the room full of guests. “I planned this party didn’t I?”

“Indeed you did,” Damon said. “But I’ve been playing host well, if I do say so myself. Look, Stefan, Enzo and Caroline have blood and everything!”

“You didn’t offer me anything,” Bonnie complained.

“Would you like some B positive Bon Bon?” Damon laughed.

“Ew!” she replied. “Iced tea!” Damon laughed again, kissed Elena on the cheek and went into the kitchen. When he returned with the iced drink Elena was in full hostess mode. She had music playing and was encouraging everyone to get up and dance in their yet to be fully furnished living room. Damon handed Bon Bon her drink then took the seat next to her. Together they watched Elena and Caroline try to convince Stefan to dance. After a moment Damon broke the silence.

“How are you, Bonnie?”

“Fine,” she said too quickly. Damon turned and gave her a look.

“I hear your girls’ night went well,” Damon said. “Elena had fun at least.”

 

“Yeah,” Bonnie said. “It was great.”

“But…” Damon prompted

“It’s just me and Caroline in the dorm now,” Bonnie said. “And Caroline stays over at Stefan’s a lot.”

 

“You still see her for classes though right?” Damon said.

“Yeah,” Bonnie said discontentedly.

“But Elena is gone now too,” Damon answered his own question. “I’ve stolen your friend huh?”

“Maybe a little,” Bonnie admitted.

“And my brother stole your other friend,” Damon supplied.

“Basically yeah,” Bonnie said. “But Caroline and Elena are so happy. You make her happy, Damon.”

“She makes me happy,” Damon said easily.

“I want that,” Bonnie said, jealousy and sadness subtly creeping into her voice.

“Then go get it!”

“It’s not that easy,” she said.

“Bonnie,” Damon said looking at her right in the eyes. “You are the most caring person I have ever known and I have known a lot of people. I see you give up everything for the people you love over and over again. What guy wouldn’t fall for you? Just pick the one you want and sweep him off his feet!”

“Thanks,” Bonnie said in a small voice. Damon smiled at her. Bonnie had swept him off his feet after all, in 1994. But he loved her the way Elena loved her. If he’d ever had a little sister, Damon thought he would have loved her as he loved Bonnie.

“I couldn’t help overhearing.” Damon looked up and saw Enzo suddenly standing above them. Vampire speed was also something he wasn’t used to not having.

“Ah yes,” Damon said with a sigh. “Vampire eavesdropping. I remember it well.”

“You are the fool who gave it all up for a girl,” Enzo told Damon before turning to Bonnie. “May I have this dance?”

“Um….” Bonnie said stunned. “Sure…. I guess.”

Damon smiled at her as she let Enzo whisk her away. Damon’s teasing about Bonnie going out with Enzo didn’t seem so far-fetched as he watched them dance. Stefan and Caroline were dancing too. It seemed Elena and Caroline’s efforts combined had been enough to make his brother dance. Damon looked around for Elena but she was nowhere to be seen. Deciding the couples were doing fine on their own Damon got up to look for Elena. He found her at the front door greeting the guest Damon had been most excited to see.

“Ric!” Damon exclaimed then in a moment of weakness Damon hugged Alaric.

“Hi,” Ric said slowly, taken aback. Damon straightened up and tried to pretend hugging his friend was totally normal rather than unusual.

“I haven’t seen you since the wedding,” Damon said. “You up and left!”

 

“I promised Jo we would get as far from vampires as we could,” Alaric said. Alaric walked into the house, Elena closed the door behind him, and the three of them walked down the hall toward the rest of the party.

“Well I’m not a vampire anymore,” Damon said. “So you don’t have to avoid me.”

“I know,” Ric said. “But your brother and friends are vampires.”

“And your wife's a witch,” Damon countered. “So your kids are witches… which means you can’t escape the supernatural forever buddy!”

“I can try,” Alaric said with a smile.

“What can I get you?” Elena asked before Damon could open his mouth to explain to his silly friend how silly he was. They’d had no trouble with the supernatural for ages. What was Alaric all worked up about anyway? Okay, sure. His mother was still around and getting in the way but that was only one vampire after all. Alaric had more vampire friends than that. Lily was outnumbered.

“I’m fine,” Alaric said. “I can’t stay long. I promised Jo I’d be back.”

“It’s a long trip back to Dallas,” Elena said. “You know you are welcome to stay the night.”

“I know thanks,” Alaric said. “But my flight leaves tonight. I just came to say hi since I have been neglecting my friends since the wedding.”

“Yes you have!” Damon interrupted.

“I think he’s your most needy friend,” Elena laughed. When they entered the living room Stefan was no longer dancing but Damon wasn’t surprised. He was however surprised that Enzo and Bonnie were still dancing. Alaric did the meet and greet with everyone and soon the party was in full swing. Elena put out appetizers and got out the alcohol. Damon moved around the guests chatting and generally enjoying the party. He noticed a while later that the snacks were running low and went into the kitchen to get more. Damon was head first in the cupboard when Alaric entered the kitchen.

“Hey,” Alaric said. “I have decided to take you up on that drink.”

“Excellent,” Damon said, turning away from the cupboard with a box of crackers in his hand. “Blood or bourbon?”

“Neither,” Alaric said while Damon laughed at the look on Ric’s face. Damon put the crackers down and went to get a glass.

“In the neither department,” Damon said. “I have iced tea or water.”

“Iced tea is fine,” Alaric said. Damon poured the drink and caught Alaric staring at his hand while he did so.

“I wasn’t a vampire for very long,” Alaric said slowly. “But I am fairly sure that’s a daylight ring.” Damon didn’t say anything and Alaric seemed to take that as an affirmative. “Why are you, a human, wearing a daylight ring?”

“I have been wearing this ring for a century and a half,” Damon said, shrugging. “Why take it off now?”

“Do you regret becoming human?” Alaric asked.

“Where did you get that from?” Damon said annoyed. “Stop it. You are going to worry Elena.”

“Hey,” Alaric said holding his hands up defensively. “You’re the human wearing a daylight ring.”

“Noticed that too huh?” Stefan said as he approached. Damon ignored them and returned to gathering up appetizers for the living room.

“Yeah,” Alaric said. Stefan and Ric exchanged a look that Damon pointedly ignored and they seemed to take that as an indication to change the topic.

“Got any more blood?” Stefan asked. “Caroline and I would love a refill.”

 

“Only if you stop bugging me about the ring,” Damon said. Stefan agreed with a sigh and Damon refilled the two glasses in his brother’s hands.

“Oh, did I tell you mom went to Europe?” Stefan said as Damon handed the drinks over.

“No,” Damon said, casually. He didn’t much care where his mother was so long as she wasn’t here. Damon had made everyone promise to never tell Lily where he and Elena were living now. Being human and vulnerable to a potential ripper like Lily was only one of his reasons. Elena liked to remind Damon that Lily was his mother and he should give her a chance every now and then, but otherwise she was the furthest thing from his mind.

“She didn’t really explain,” Stefan said. “Just mumbled something about a stone and ran off.”

“She isn’t any closer to getting into that prison world right?” Damon asked. “Cause we don’t want that.”

“No she isn’t,” Stefan said. “Kai is safely locked away.”

“Great,” Damon said cheerfully as he gathered up the appetizers and headed back into the living room.

Alaric ended up staying later than he’d planned but he still made it to the airport in time for his flight. Stefan left next since he had arrived early to refuse to do Damon’s taxes for him. Enzo and Bonnie left together and Damon made a mental note to give Enzo a lecture about hurting Bon Bon the next time he saw Enzo. Caroline stayed to help Elena clean up and Damon tried to stay out of the way to give Elena time with her friend. At least that was what he would say if he was asked. In reality he just didn’t want to be roped into cleaning up.

When the coast was clear, or rather the dishes were done, Damon made a reappearance. Elena was hugging Caroline goodbye at the front door. Damon smiled with his head tilted to one side as he watched the look of joy on his girlfriend’s face.

Damon snuck up behind Elena as the door closed and wrapped his arms around her. She leaned into him and he kissed her neck.

“Did you enjoy the party?” Damon asked.

“Did you?”

“I asked first.”

 

“Yes I did,” Elena said. “It was great to see everyone, especially Alaric.”

“I think he spend the whole evening showing everyone pictures of his kids,” Damon said. “I couldn’t tell the twins apart. They were both so small and pink.” He laughed. “It must be a new parent thing.”

“Yep,” Elena said. There was a new serious note in her voice and she turned in his arms to face him. “You haven’t changed your mind have you?”

“About what?”

“Kids?”

“Why does everyone keep asking me crap like this today?” Damon growled.

“That doesn’t answer my question,” Elena said but she was grinning. It was a testament to how well she knew him that the serious tone was gone from her voice. She knew this was how he answered when he meant to deny something. Damon had in no way changed his mind.

“So,” Damon said. “You got the job?”

“Yes!” Elena said excited. “And we don’t even have to move!”

“That’s good,” Damon said. “Since we just moved in.”

“I am so excited to be working in an actual hospital!”

Damon could feel the broad smile on his face created by her joy. He touched her face softly and she closed her eyes. He leaned in and kissed her, sweetly.

“I love it when you get excited,” Damon whispered into her ear as he pulled away to see her face again. “But mostly I just love you.”

“I mostly just love you too,” Elena said giggling.

They whiled away the evening in each other’s company. Elena talked about her job interview and what she would be expected to do. Damon explained how he still hadn’t settled on a hobby though he had recently started working out and found he quite enjoyed it. Once he had given up on Alaric training him Damon decided to take his patheticness into his own hands and teach himself. Stefan helped a bit but it was humbling to train with vampires.

“Alaric trained me,” Elena said. “Why don’t we train together?”

“But there are so many other things I’d rather be doing with you,” Damon said.

“It might be fun,” Elena replied. “Like foreplay.”

“Who am I to say no to foreplay,” Damon said laughing as he took her in his arms and kissed her.

Chapter Text

By now Damon was used to the new way his body worked. He wasn’t particularly proud how long it had taken him to get to this point but in his defence a century and a half was a long ass time.

It was a warm summer day and Damon was running down his usual morning jogging trail. Elena had left early that morning for the hospital. It was hard not seeing her as often as he’d like to, but although her job exhausted her Damon knew what it meant to her. This is what he had signed up for and it was worth every minute to be the person Elena came home to every day. To be her human partner in life.

Damon turned and headed down a public walkway. He was halfway through his run now and starting to wonder what he was going to do when he got home.

His options for company were rather limited. Alaric was still in Dallas with Jo and the twins; Damon got regular photos. He even got a calendar with the twins dressed up in little outfits for every holiday. Elena had insisted on putting the calendar on the bulletin board in the kitchen despite all of Damon’s protests. Despite never having met the twins Damon would have recognized them on site. He even knew their voices since Alaric and him had a standing phone call every few weeks.

Enzo and Bonnie had become an item of late, much to Damon’s surprise. Damon was yet to have a talk with his friend about his intentions towards Bon Bon and guessed that it was probably for the better. Bonnie would have cursed him for sure if she found out he was meddling in her love life. Damon would just have to settle for killing Enzo if he hurt Bonnie. Okay maybe that was harsh. Also he probably couldn’t take Enzo in a fight now, but he would definitely conspire with Stefan and Caroline to lock Enzo up and starve me for a few decades as punishment. Hell, who was Damon kidding. Bonnie was stronger than any vampire, that is if she had time to chant a spell or two.

Damon’s third option was his brother. Stefan however was rather busy these days spending every waking minute with Blondie. Sure, they had a rather rocky beginning to their relationship what with them both losing their humanity and all, but did that didn’t mean they got to ignore their friends like this! Damon had tried to guilt his brother into ditching the girl for him but to no avail. Even the ‘I’m mortal now’ trick didn’t work. Stefan had reminded Damon that was his own fault and Damon wasn’t allowed to use it against him.

Damon continued to mull over his options as his house came into view. His mother was still in Europe which Damon greatly preferred to her being here. Stefan was worried about her though but that was so very Stefan of him. This woman had abandoned him twice. Like he had once said to Elena, ‘She left you. She sucks.’ No, Lily’s company was not what Damon craved.

Who Damon really wanted to see was Elena but she was working a double shift today. Damon walked into the house and fixed himself a drink. As he stood all alone in the kitchen with his glass of bourbon he doubted for the first time if he had done the right thing. Just the knowledge that this was the first time he’d had a single moment's indecision banished all uncertainty from Damon’s mind soon after.

Damon looked around his kitchen thoughtfully. He was hungry after the run. Damon had grown to quite enjoy food since his return to the living. There were so many foods to choose from and they were all delicious for different reasons. Blood was always just blood, if it was human blood that is. Sure it tasted better hot from the vein rather than cold from a blood bag and animal blood tasted horrible no matter what temperature it was but apart from that the flavour was the same. That couldn’t be said with human food.

Since becoming human Damon had dabbled in cooking. He’d forced Stefan to give him some rudimentary lessons and there were a few meals Damon could make. What he enjoyed most about cooking was surprising Elena with dinner on the table when she got home. Damon had never tried to make anything really different though. Deciding it was time to take his hobby search into his own hands Damon went to his computer and started googling recipes.

Their maid was due to arrive first thing tomorrow morning so Damon decided he would make a mess of the kitchen to cure his boredom. His first attempt to bake biscuits was edible but not something he was going to show to Elena. He did some research and realized he had over kneaded the dough. Rather than try that recipe again he chose another one. Pie crust was easier than biscuits in that it didn’t require kneading but it was a lot more picky. Damon found himself piecing it together like a puzzle. He ate a piece that didn’t fit and quickly decided to throw out the whole batch. Nothing needed that much salt. Determined nevertheless Damon choose another recipe.

When he heard the door open Damon panicked. He was covered in flour and so was the kitchen. Damon didn’t move as he heard the door close and footsteps approach. When Elena stood staring at him Damon looked back at her sheepishly.

“I baked,” Damon said tentatively as he turned to face her.

“I can see that,” Elena said grinning. “What possessed you?”

“I got bored,” Damon said.

“See, I told you!” Elena said.

“Yeah yeah,” Damon replied waving his hand dismissively. Elena smiled at him then despite the flour all over him she came right up to him and wrapped her arms around him.

“Did you enjoy destroying the kitchen?” she asked.

“I think I did,” Damon said, wrapping his arms around her in return.

“I have to say I am stunned,” Elena said. “You can’t even wash dishes. I never thought of you baking.”

 

“I think I’ll stick to cooking,” Damon said. “Baking is a bit touchy. If you are off on your measurements it doesn’t work.” The oven timer went off and Damon released Elena to take the cookies out of the oven.

“Can I have one?” Elena asked.

“They have to cool,” Damon said, putting the hot tray down and turning to her. “But I have a great idea of what we can do in the meantime.” He pulled her in seizing her lips with his own. He had missed her all day and he tried to put all that emotion into their kiss. One of his hands on her neck, the other holding her face Damon kissed the love of his life until the sadness of being without her all day faded.

“I missed you today,” Damon whispered.

“I missed you too,” she whispered back. “I don’t work tomorrow. I’m all yours.”

“Hmmm,” Damon moaned with a smile. “All mine.” He kissed down her throat and over her collarbone as he enjoyed the thought. Elena was his and that was what mattered.

Chapter Text

Damon was drowning in blood. His lungs were unable to get any air through the thick red liquid. Faces, so many faces screamed at him, screaming that their pain was his fault and he needed to pay for their missed chances. They wanted him to feel their suffering, their anguish.

Damon sat bolt upright in bed, panting. His skin was covered in a thin layer of cold sweat and the sheets were twisted around him. The curtains were closed but Damon could tell the sun wasn’t up yet. It was probably the middle of the night. Stupid human conscience, he thought bitterly as he laid back down and waited for his heart to stop racing.

At least he was in his own bed. Damon had moved his huge bed from his and Stefan’s place to his new home. Elena had totally approved of this. She liked his bed too and now it was their bed which Damon liked even more. Elena stirred beside him and Damon cursed his stupid dream for waking her.

“Shhh love,” Damon soothed.

“Damon,” Elena mumbled. “What’s wrong?”

“Just a bad dream,” Damon said. “Go back to sleep.”

“Again?” Elena said, ignoring his kind gesture by sitting up in bed. She rested her hand on his face and made him look at her. “Why do you keep having bad dreams?”

“I’ve done some horrible things over the years,” Damon told her. “If bad dreams are my only punishment I probably got off easy. Waking up with you makes it all rainbows and butterflies again.” He tried to smile and make it all seem like nothing but Elena gave him that look she always gave him when she saw right through him.

“I am going to call Bonnie,” Elena said. “First thing in the morning.”

“You’ll only worry her,” Damon insisted. “I’m fine.” He hadn’t had the dreams when he first became human; they had slowly crept up on him.

“She would want you to call,” Elena said.

“For reasons beyond my comprehension she has been hanging out with Enzo a lot these days,” Damon said. “I am sure she is busy.” He grinned cheekily. “I mean she could do worse… Enzo is very loyal.”

“Damon!” Elena hit him playfully on the shoulder.

“What!” Damon remarked. Elena looked like she was going to continue the conversation when suddenly she stopped and took his hand in hers. Damon was all for this though he wasn’t sure what was so distracting about his hand.

“Your daylight ring!” Elena exclaimed. “Really! I threw mine away the first chance I got!” Damon had not taken the ring off since becoming a human. Everyone loved to remind him of how foolish he was on a regular basis.

“You go a hundred and sixty something years wearing the same goddamn ring and see if you wanna take it off,” Damon exclaimed.

“You don’t need it anymore,” Elena argued.

“But my hand feels naked without it,” Damon said.

“Coming from the guy who likes to walk around the house naked?”

“That’s different,” Damon said stubbornly. “I like this ring.”

“Does that mean you don’t like clothes?”

“Not when you are here,” he whispered as he pulled her in close. Damon loved how, after all this time, he could still make Elena gasp as if it was their first time.

“Screw getting more sleep,” Elena moaned as she rolled him over and attacked his lips with hers. What small amount of clothing they slept in was soon removed and like usual it was Damon who had to remind Elena they were human and needed to take other precautions now.

“But I thought you wanted kids,” Elena teased him.

“Only yours,” Damon whispered into her ear. It was true that the idea of kids had not been important to him before her. It was the idea of kids with Elena that excited him. Being the father of her children would connect them in every possible way two people could be connected.

“Well then?” Elena said.

“You are halfway through your residency,” Damon said.

“So…” Elena whispered as she kissed his neck.

“And you asked me to stop you if you did this,” Damon said. “Remember the last time you came home from work so tired I had to carry you up the stairs...”

“Maybe I didn’t mean it,” Elena said. Damon could hear the grin in her voice even if her lips were kissing his hip bone. If she wasn’t careful he was going to forget all about precautions.

The first time they’d had all-human sex Elena had explained birth control to him. As a human he had only ever slept with Katherine who was a vampire and as a vampire he hadn’t worried about such things. Infertile disease-free vampires never needed to grab a condom.

“On your own head be it,” Damon gasped as her lips touched him again sending waves of desire through him. He flipped them over so she was under him and became to kiss every inch of her skin, remembering the time he had described this very scenario to her at Jeremy’s school once when he pushed up her against the lockers. Although, in that scenario they had an audience, he remembered with a smirk. Her control crumbled instantly and soon they were joined in heated passion.

After they lay together in each other’s arms while their hearts raced. Sex with Elena was wonderful but holding her afterword was just as wonderful. Damon stroked the side of her face lightly. She made a soft contented noise in her throat.

“What if we just changed our lives forever,” Damon asked softly.

“That was the plan,” Elena said as she snuggled closer to him. “Unless you have changed your mind.” Damon ran his hand down her side to rest it over her perfectly flat stomach.

“I haven’t,” Damon said quietly. “I’ll make you a deal.” He paused for her to smile encouragingly before he continued. “I’ll take my daylight ring off only if I can switch it out for a different ring.”

“Let’s go get a less tacky ring,” Elena said with enthusiasm, not opening her eyes. “Done.”

“The only ring I will exchange it for is a wedding band,” Damon said matter-of-factly.

“Is that so?” Elena said, slyly. Damon could feel her lips pull back in a smile against the skin of his chest.

“That was the plan,” Damon echoed her earlier sentiment. “Technically I proposed when I told I wanted to be your human husband. I have human-ed up to my end of the bargain.”

“Human-ed is not a word,” Elena teased him.

“Oh come on,” Damon said. “Call Caroline.” Elena looked up at him nonplussed.

“I am sure she wants to plan a wedding,” Damon explained. “I bet she could be a professional event planner if she felt so inclined.”

“That’s it huh?” Elena pouted. “Damon’s great romantic marriage proposal is just ‘that was the plan.’” Damon thought of teasing her more but decided to humor her instead. He got out of bed, still buck naked, and got down on one knee in front of Elena where she sat on the bed, with only a sheet wrapped around her.

“Elena Gilbert,” Damon said. “Would you just marry me already?” Okay, so he couldn’t resist teasing her a little.

“Well when you put it like that,” Elena said with a sigh. “What’s a girl to do?” She giggled. Damon rolled his eyes.

“Alright, alright,” Damon surrendered. “You want sappy,” She nodded, with a huge grin on her face. “Then you will get sappy.” Damon climbed back onto the bed and took her face in his hands. He gazed into her wide eyes and was a little smug that his gaze could still made her breath catch in her throat.

“Elena,” Damon whispered. “I roamed the earth for so many years before I found you but the years since I met you have and continue to be the most precious to me. I am yours for as long as I live, no matter what, but I want to show the world you are mine. I want to be your husband.” They gazed at each other for a long moment. Though Damon already knew what her answer was he didn’t like the silence.

“Was that better?” he asked. She nodded but again didn’t speak. “Only you, Elena Gilbert, would make a guy propose twice!”

Rather than answer in words Elena flung herself on him and kissed him.

Chapter Text

There was a constant soaring feeling in Damon's chest that grew only stronger when his fiancée talked of their wedding plans. Damon found great joy in watching Elena and Caroline work out the details. He ignored the dryness in his throat and the ache in his head easily. Nothing would dampen his mood today. He stood at the bottom of the stairs just within human ear shot of the pair sitting in his living room.

"Elena," Caroline was saying. "You cannot get married without a photographer."

"But I was thinking the guests could take the pictures," Elena argued. "Like maybe we could hand out those one use cameras to guests and-"

"No," Caroline cut her off firmly. "You need a professional photographer. You only get married once Elena."

"But this wedding is getting so expensive!" Elena protested.

"What is the point of marrying a Salvatore," Caroline said exasperated. "If you can't spend their centuries of savings on your dream wedding?"

Damon smiled to himself. He may not have vampire hearing anymore but his brother sure did and, going by Stefan's texts, he was currently approaching the house. Damon was surprised that Caroline's vampire hearing hadn't picked up on this yet. The two girls were still in a heated debate when Stefan walked in moments later.

"I would hope, Caroline," the younger Salvatore said as he approached them. "That the point is more than just a big expensive party. Love, for instance, has something to do with it I believe."

"Stefan," Caroline said. "Go away. This is girl stuff."

"Oh well then, don't let me interrupt," Stefan said but Damon could hear the smile in his brother's voice. However, he couldn't hear the soft footsteps and was surprised when Stefan turned the corner and stood in front of him.

"Oh hi," Damon said with a slight jump. He had been very focused on listening to the girls' debate about centerpieces. "You startled me."

"It is fun being able to sneak up on you," Stefan said with a grin. "Even if we can't try to kill each other anymore."

"Ah good times," Damon said.

"Why is your heart pounding like it wants to be free of your chest?" Stefan asked as his hearing picked up on it. Damon shrugged trying to be nonchalant.

"Damon," Stefan asked firmly. "What's wrong?" Damon shrugged again but his cough gave him away.

"Argh," Damon complained loudly when the coughing stopped. "Being human sucks!"

"You're sick," Stefan summarized. "Hasn't Dr. Elena forced you to go to bed and drink plenty of fluids?"

"She's tired," Damon said. "But I snuck downstairs to listen to my wedding planners. Elena doesn't have vampire hearing… though I am surprised Caroline hasn't sold me out yet."

"My girlfriend is far too excited planning her best friend's wedding to you, my idiot brother, to notice anything at the moment," Stefan said with a slight shake of his head.

"It's too bad," Damon smirked. He just couldn't resist. "It seems she sees no point to forever with a Salvatore unless he's a rich Salvatore. Maybe you should cut your losses brother."

"I'm going to blame that on your fever," Stefan said, but he looked mildly annoyed which Damon decided to take as a win. "You. Bed. Now."

Damon glared at Stefan but he knew there was nothing he could do. With Elena he could resist being put to bed. She was after all just as human as him, but if his annoying brother so pleased he could carry Damon up the stairs without much effort. There were so many things about being a vampire that Damon missed. Never getting sick for one! And being able to hit his brother and make it hurt for another.

"Fine," Damon growled. With one last glare he marched back up the stairs.

"Don't get out of bed again," Stefan called after him. "I shall be coming up to check on you." Damon sent a rather obscene gesture in his little brother's direction but continued up the stairs. He was very tired and his willpower to fight back fatigue was running low anyway.

Damon lay down and closed his eyes. He filled his mind with images of Elena in a white dress walking toward him. He couldn't stop himself from smiling a little into the darkness. It was the moment of his wedding he was most looking forward to. The moment when she would be officially his forever. He knew it was silly; they couldn't have forever in weak bodies that withered and died of their own accord, but in these bodies it was easier to believe in forever somehow. Damon couldn't explain it and he didn't try.

"I've never seen you so happy." The voice slowly entered Damon sleepy mind but he didn't open his eyes, unsure if he was dreaming or not.

"And I have to admit I'm rather surprised. I thought you loved being a vampire, despite the fact I forced you into it."

Damon recognized Stefan's voice.

"Even after everything we've been through I've so glad to see you happy, brother. I love to see you happy even if it means I will lose you."

Damon was certain he was awake now, but he was also fairly sure Stefan believed him to be asleep since Stefan was being rather more sentimental than usual.

"Engaged to Elena," Stefan continued with slight disbelief in his voice. "You have officially stolen my girl and all I have to say is it took you long enough." He laughed and Damon tried not to smile and give away the game. "You guys have both been human for years now and I honestly thought I'd be getting a wedding invitation within the first week."

Stefan laughed lightly again then didn't speak. Damon almost broke the silence but he wanted to wait and see if his brother was going to say anything while he thought Damon couldn't hear him.

"I guess it took you guys so long to get engaged because it really won't change anything," Stefan continued. "You stole her officially so long ago. This wedding is fun but it doesn't make you two any more committed to each other. You became human for her Damon. That's a level of devotion much stronger than marriage. Marriages can end but you can never be a vampire again."

Again Damon was tempted to break the silence but he very much wanted to hear what his brother had to say and feared Stefan would stop talking if he knew Damon was awake.

"I'm glad she fell in love with you," Stefan said. "My faith in you was too easily shaken but hers for you was constant. By changing you for the better she gave me my brother back and I think I needed you more than I needed her." This time, his laugh was short with a hint of irony. "You know, I thought I told her that once but it turned out to be Katherine. I haven't decided if I should tell Elena or not. Maybe just telling my unconscious brother is enough."

Damon heard a chair scrape across the floor as Stefan got up. Damon sensed his brother had nothing further to say so when he felt Stefan's hand on his forehead Damon broke the silence.

"Thank you," Damon said as he opened his eyes.

"Were you awake this whole time?" Stefan asked, quickly removing his hand from Damon's face, his look at peace replaced with annoyance.

"I think so," Damon said grinning. "If your monologue started with a revelation of my happiness as a human."

"So you just laid there and pretended to be a sleep so I'd keep talking?"

"Basically," Damon said grinning.

"You are the worst," Stefan said hitting Damon lightly on the head before sitting back down. Stefan was trying to act like he didn't care but he couldn't fool Damon. His brother was embarrassed.

"I missed being human," Damon said after a moment's pause. He felt he owed Stefan something in return for all his little brother had said. "When I was a vampire I mean. I never told anyone… well unless you count that girl I compelled and killed. She wasn't a very good therapist though. She kept begging me not to kill her. It wasn't very helpful." Damon interrupted his own rant and took a deep breath before adding, "I'm glad you forced me to be a vampire, Stefan. If you hadn't I never would have met Elena. So thank you."

Stefan smiled at him and Damon smiled back. They exchanged a look and nothing else needed to be said. Indeed, what had already been said was far more than their usual lack of emotional dialogue. The exchanges of 'I love you' were not necessary but even so Damon tried to tell Stefan with his eyes how much he loved his little brother and he thought for a moment he got a similar look back.

"Elena!" Stefan called down the stairs. "Come and doctor your infuriating fiancé." Stefan turned back to Damon with a grin on his face. Damon knew that look. When Elena burst into their bedroom moments later, concern written all over her face, the two brothers were on the same page.

"What happened?" she asked.

"Damon here is just as obnoxious as always," Stefan told her. "Whether he's sick or healthy, a Human or a Vampire, he is still a dick."

"Oh look at you, so high and mighty! Like you're so much better!" Damon countered, his remarks slightly ruined by his small cough. "You are just as bad as me you just won't admit it."

"You're the one who never concedes anything," Stefan countered. "You are sick and weak and you hate it. You wish you hadn't taken the cure. Admit it!"

"Being sick sucks," Damon replied. "But that isn't what's going on here. I stole your girl and you just can't handle it."

"See what I mean!" Stefan told Elena, pointing to Damon.

"I thought we were past this," Elena said miserably. "You have Caroline."

Elena looked so upset Damon couldn't keep it up anymore. He looked at his brother and they both burst out laughing at the same time. Damon collapsed into bed, his coughing mixing with his laughter. Stefan was still standing but he was holding onto his chair for support.

As Elena looked back and forth between them her expression grew more and more irritated. She figured them out within seconds and stood with her hands on her hips glaring at them until they stopped laughing enough to hear her.

"You two are both horrible!" she yelled before she stormed off.

"But you love us," Damon yelled after her, grinning.

"She loves you," Stefan corrected.

"Don't fool yourself brother," Damon said. "She loves you too. She just loves you the way I love Bonnie."

"Oh yeah and how is that?" Stefan asked.

"Like a sister," Damon smirked.

"Like a sister, huh?" Stefan said unamused. "If you weren't sick right now I would punch you."

"Okay," Damon said. "Save it for later then. I'm going back to sleep." Damon was sure Stefan rolled his eyes but didn't turn his head to look. He heard the door open then close as Stefan left the room.

Damon tried to get comfortable while waiting for sleep. This was rather difficult since his head was pounding, his skin hot and his throat dry. All the laughing had made his throat hurt more but it'd been worth it. Damon's happy soaring feeling was in no way abated. If anything hearing his brother's words had only made the feeling stronger.

Damon had everything after all. Not only did he have Elena but they were human together and his brother was glad for them. Aside from the evil virus raging through his body Damon thought his life was pretty perfect.

For once Damon slept without bad dreams. He wasn't sure if time had helped his mind disconnect from his vampire atrocities or if Bonnie had done something to ease his sleep, most likely on Elena's instruction. Either way he decided not to ask so he wouldn't have to be thankful if Bonnie had helped and awkward if she hadn't. Damon much preferred his dreams vague and warm rather than specific and painful. Anyway, he probably wouldn't admit that he was grateful even if he knew for certain Bon Bon had indeed done something to help. Damon slowly woke from pleasant dreams he couldn't recall. It felt like he had been sleeping for quite a while.

"You're finally awake."

His eyes were closed but Damon knew that voice. His hand moved automatically to check if Elena slept beside him.

"She's already at work."

Damon groaned, and immediately regretted it; his throat had let out an indignant burst of pain. He rolled over and pulled the covers over his head. "I don't need a babysitter," he mumbled.

"Well tough," Bonnie said. "Because Elena made me promise to babysit you."

"Fine," Damon said. "Then get me water."

"Oh no!" Bonnie said. "I am your babysitter not your nursemaid."

"I'm sick," Damon whined.

"Suck it up," Bonnie told him. Damon groaned again and decided more sleep was preferable to getting out of bed, even for water. But alas sleep eluded him. He lay there for what felt like hours as he tried to make his mind silent but all he seemed to accomplish was becoming more conscious. Once his mind was too awake to be content with just lying in bed Damon was forced to sit up. He saw Bonnie in Stefan's vacated chair reading a book.

"You're still here?" Damon complained.

"This is the first time you have been properly sick since becoming human," Bonnie explained. "Elena was worried so she guilt tripped us all into helping."

"Us?"

"Why do you think Stefan was watching you last night?"

"Oh," Damon said. "I thought he was just feeling sentimental." Damon usually slept naked as he liked the feel of the sheets against his skin but for some reason the idea had not appealed to him while sick. He was therefore wearing a pair of Elena's loose fitting sweat pants. They were still slightly tight on him but Damon liked being wrapped up in her clothes when she wasn't home, and even more so when he felt so horrible. He was thankful for the clothing as he got out of bed with Bonnie's gaze fixed on him.

"What?" Damon asked, annoyed.

"Where do you think you're going?"

"To get water," Damon complained. "And I'm hungry."

"Elena said you aren't allowed to eat," Bonnie said.

"Why not?" Damon whined.

"If you don't eat you can't throw up."

"She is just mad at me for that stunt Stefan and I pulled last night," Damon grumbled. He didn't feel nauseous and he hadn't throw up yet so what was Elena's problem.

"She is," Bon Bon said. "But that has nothing to do with it."

"I think it does," Damon said. "And I'm hungry. What's the point of craving food that doesn't require murder if I can't give in to my cravings?"

"Because you will throw up," Bonnie said. "Haven't you been listening?" Damon ignored her and got out of bed. "And you need to keep warm. Put on a shirt at least if you aren't going to wrap up in layers like you should."

Damon rolled his eyes at her as he headed downstairs. He was way too hot to worry about putting on more clothes for warmth. Surely if his skin was on fire he didn't need to wear a shirt. When Damon reached the kitchen he went straight to the sink and drank an entire glass of water in one go. Then he started opening cupboards.

"You are hopeless," Bonnie said shaking her head at him.

"What?" Damon mumbled with his mouth full of granola bar.

"You should be in bed," Bonnie said. "Not eating strange things while half naked and feverish."

"If you want me in bed," Damon said as he continued to find whatever snacks in his cupboards he could, with a half-eaten granola bar in one hand. "You are going to have to make me."

"Tempting," Bonnie replied cheerfully as Damon finished the granola bar and started on a carrot muffin. "But I'd rather watch Elena be proved right. Let the punishment fit the crime and all that."

Damon finished off his muffin. His stomach felt less empty but he was still hungry. Damon ate what snacks he could find while Bonnie watched him. Gradually Damon felt something strange. Damon didn't much like this feeling. Suddenly he was running to the bathroom. His random snacks came up mercilessly as he heaved, leaving his throat sore and raw. When he was done retching into the toilet he heard Bonnie sniggering behind him.

"Told you," Bonnie said. "Now will you listen?"

"This is so much worse than werewolf venom," Damon whined collapsing onto the floor near the toilet.

"But werewolf venom is fatal and this isn't," Bonnie reminded him. "You are not dying."

"I feel like I'm dying," Damon whined.

"Actually I'm surprised it took you this long to get sick," Bonnie observed. "Since your immune system is 150 years out of date."

"Katherine took the cure and her immune system is the same age as mine," Damon argued.

"And didn't you say she complained of a sinus infection," Bonnie reminded him. Damon just mumbled curse words under his breath. He felt disgusting. He was in pain and he hated everything at the moment. Forcing himself up off the bathroom floor Damon washed out his mouth at the sink, drank a tiny glass of water to sooth his throat then went back upstairs to bed. Damon fell asleep quickly this time, his body exhausted by the slight exertion of his badly thought out breakfast.

When he awoke Damon reached out again to see if Elena was there beside him but she wasn't. He missed her even if he felt so gross at the moment he wouldn't blame her for not wanting to touch him. Damon kept his eyes shut tight. He wanted be blissfully unconscious until this horrible sickness was over.

"You were right. He is a mess."

Damon knew that voice too. How did he have so many friends again? It wasn't like he was a nice person who deserved friends and yet they seemed to keep appearing out of the woodwork.

"Go away Enzo," Damon grumbled. "Or I'll puke on you."

"If you do that I'll hex you," said another familiar voice, enthusiastically.

Fanfreakingtastic, Damon thought. They were both here now. When had this happened anyway? In what strange backward universe did Enzo and Bonnie date? Damon's groggy brain had some recollection of a house warming party but he decided it was in no way his fault those two were… whatever it was they were.

"Can you hex me into health?" Damon asked.

"Nope," Bonnie said.

"Then go away."

Damon heard the door open, close then silence. For a moment Damon was relieved but then he suddenly wasn't. He didn't want to be alone. Damon rolled out of bed and throw on a shirt. He went down the stairs and to his great relief Enzo and Bonnie were in the kitchen, sitting at the breakfast bar.

"I told you," Bonnie said. "He didn't mean it."

"It would appear not," Enzo said in that accent of his which made Damon furious. How dare they presume to know him! But the anger faded quickly. Was he really so predictable? Damon sat himself down on a stool then laid his head on the counter, just happy they were still here. The cold stone felt wonderful against his hot skin.

"You put a shirt on," Bon Bon said and Damon thought for sure there was a note of pride in her voice but his groggy brain hadn't a clue why.

"How can I be both hot and cold at the same time," Damon whined.

"It's called a fever," Bonnie explained.

"I don't like fevers," Damon whined. "When's Elena gonna be home?"

"Soon," Bonnie said.

"Not soon enough," Damon whined.

"I would have thought you'd be a bit less pathetic than this," Enzo observed. "Since you are one of the few vampires I know who has experienced almost dying from a werewolf bite."

"This is worse," Damon explained.

"Ignore him," Bonnie said to Enzo then she added in a seductive tone. "Now where were we."

Enzo smiled and accepted her kiss while Damon averted his eyes. Those two had what in common exactly? Damon of all people knew love could never really be explained but it still weirded him out. Both of those people had befriended Damon due to being trapped with him against their will for a long period of time. Sure 1994 had ended rather better than being an Augustine vampire - Enzo had hated Damon for leaving him while Bonnie had given up her freedom to save Damon - but overall Damon thought it strange that these two, of all people, would end up making out in his kitchen.

Damon moved away from the annoying lovebirds and into the living room where he laid on the couch with a pillow over his face. It was nice to be out of bed even if he was just lying somewhere else. He wished Elena was there and when he closed his eyes he pictured her. His thoughts shifted quickly into dreams and soon he was waking up to the sound of her voice.

"Elena," he mumbled as he tried to sit up.

"I'm here," Elena said. Damon felt a soft cold cloth on his forehead and it was all the more wonderful knowing Elena held it to his skin. A very contented noise escaped from his sore throat.

"I'm sorry," Elena said. "I should have called in sick to work and stayed home to take care of you."

"Maybe," Damon said. He was too selfish a creature to say no to such a wonderful idea. "But you're here now." Damon reached out and wrapped his arms around her but just before he touched her Damon pulled away.

"What's wrong?" she asked.

"I don't want to get you sick," Damon explained. "And I'm gross." Elena smiled at him as she leaned in close and kissed him on the mouth.

"I work in a hospital," Elena told him.

"Do you kiss your patients too?" Damon asked. She laughed and it was the most beautiful sound Damon had ever heard.

Elena supported him as he got up to his feet. With one arm around Elena's shoulders Damon made his way back upstairs to bed. His fiancée tucked him in then snuggled in next to him. Damon held her and tried to focus on her solid presence in his arms rather than the pain in his throat. It was in this way he fell asleep and when he woke Elena was still there beside him. She'd taken the day off to stay home and take care of him. Damon had a much better second day with the flu then his first.

Chapter Text

Elena was the most alluring creature in the room as she approached him in her white dress. Damon had not noticed the center pieces picked out by Caroline. He'd forgotten to take note of the layout of the room or the music the band was playing. The rest of the world fell away from Damon as his soon-to-be wife walked towards him, his focus solely on her.

Her dress was backless which Jeremy did not approve of but Caroline called sexy. Damon had to agree with Blondie on this one. The white dress had a modest, but not unattractive neckline. The shoulder straps were lace and almost looked like a straight line since they hung so low on her shoulders. Elena had vetoed a long train so her dress didn't quite reach her ankles and showed off the small elegant white shoes she had on.

As she approached on Alaric's arm Damon thought again how strange it was that his drinking buddy was the only father figure Elena had left. Jo and the twins were playing the part of flower girls – or rather the small toddlers were throwing flowers while their mother tried to keep them out of trouble. Jo was technically a bridesmaid too, since it turned out that Elena only had two female friends and her brother had turned down being a bridesman. Caroline had practically declared herself maid of honour the second she'd learned of Elena's engagement which surprised Damon not at all.

Damon's best man was, of course, his brother Stefan though Enzo was still a little miffed about this. Damon had tried to console him by explaining it was the least Damon could do since he was marrying Stefan's ex and that seemed to help a little. As Alaric put Elena's hand in his Damon turned to face Enzo. Letting him officiate the wedding had helped a lot more.

Elena gave Damon a look, the same look she had given him when he'd suggested this idea in the first place. The look that asked 'why Enzo?' but Damon just smiled at her. He still wasn't sure why she had yielded to him on this matter but he suspected it had something to do with love or some such thing. He was a lucky man indeed.

"You shall have to excuse me if my wording is wrong," Enzo began. "I spent most of the last seventy years imprisoned because my friend here abandoned me," Enzo jerked his thumb at Damon and the crowd chuckled. "So as you can imagine I am a little out of touch but I believe I should start with: we are all gathered here today to join this man and this woman in…" He paused reading off the notes in his hand. "Okay I very much doubt you are being joined in any kind of holy way. I mean you were vampires for pity's sake." Enzo threw the cards away and continued. "Improve it is then."

"On this day we forever bind Damon Salvatore and Elena Gilbert together - except that isn't quite right either since you two are both fragile mortals now who don't have forever."

"Enzo," Elena growled with a fury that worried even Damon.

"Oh alright," Enzo sighed. Damon could see Bonnie giggling silently where she stood behind Elena and was very glad Elena couldn't see it.

"Anyone here who believes these two should not marry speak now or forever hold your peace," Enzo continued. "Though again that forever part really can't be considered anything other than a hyperbole." No one moved through Elena's angry look intensified. "Oh good; no one spoke. Though it would have been funny if Stefan had said something."

Elena looked like she might hit Enzo so Damon sent Bonnie a pleading look. Bon Bon was still smiling with silent giggles but nodded and took a few steps forward to speak into Enzo's ear. Damon did hate to ruin his friend's' fun but he didn't want Elena to pop a blood vessel either. Enzo smiled as Bonnie returned to her place in the lineup.

"Marriage is an ancient human tradition," Enzo said more seriously. "One that has endured the test of time much like the love between the two people before me. If you do not believe me, take a moment to sense the tremendous amount of love radiating throughout this room." He paused and Damon watched as Elena relaxed. This it seemed was more like the wedding ceremony she wanted to have. "Though this is a celebration we must acknowledge that the promises we witness here today are a serious matter. Love is the reason we live, as I myself know all too well." Enzo's expression was only sad for a moment; Damon could imagine Enzo was thinking of Maggie's death and Damon's betrayal but then Enzo looked at Bonnie and his face was instantly free of any past sorrow.

"Now I think you have written your own vows?" Enzo asked. Elena nodded, fumbling with the flowers in her hand. "Good because I don't quite remember how they went and I just threw my notes out the window." Elena laughed as she continued to try and find the small piece of paper that had been hidden inside her bouquet of flowers.

"Elena," Damon began from memory. She stopped looking for her vows to hear his. "Since the moment I met you I wanted nothing but good things for you. Loving you has, in every way, made me a better person. You made me feel human even when I wasn't. When you call, I come. You know me better then I know myself and I don't deserve to be as happy as you make me." He paused for breath. "You deserve all the happiness this world has to offer and by some miracle I am part of what makes you happy. You are my whole life and I vow to be your loving and devoted husband for as long as I live."

There was a silence throughout the room so full of emotion Damon was slightly smug his vows had been such a tearjerker. He heard at least three people reaching for tissues.

"Damon," Elena began looking up at him rather than at her notes. Damon knew she also had them memorized and her fumbling for them earlier had all been nervous energy. "We always had something. A spark. I tried to fight it but my love for you consumed me. You made me feel alive when I wasn't. You have always loved me no matter what I was and I have always found my way back to you regardless of who I thought I was looking for. You inspire me. You helped me understand who I was, showing me aspects of myself I hadn't know existed. Even losing my memory of you couldn't stop me from falling in love with you all over again. You are the love of my life and I vow to be your loving and devoted wife for as long as I live."

Damon could feel the tears pooling in his eyes, but he had never been less sad in all his life. These were tears of joy. He gazed at Elena while Enzo asked them to join hands. Damon's eyes stayed locked on Elena's while he reached out to take her hand.

"Do you, Damon, take Elena as your cherished wife, in front of these witnesses, and promise to stay by her side through sickness and health, joy and sorrow, so long as you both shall live?"

"I do," Damon said.

"And do you, Elena, take Damon as your cherished husband, in front of these witnesses, and promise to stay by his side through sickness and health, joy and sorrow, so long as you both shall live?"

"I do," Elena repeated.

"Really?" Enzo said suddenly breaking the mood. "This idiot?" The room roared with laughter.

"Yes really," Elena said when the laughter died down but she was smiling and Damon thought maybe she wasn't so opposed to Enzo's officiating now.

"Very well then, if you are determined it seems I must continue," Enzo said cheerfully. "Repeat after me."

"I, Elena, give you, Damon this ring as a symbol of my undying love," Elena's voice repeated Enzo's words. "Just as the circle of the ring completes itself, so you complete me." Elena slowly removed Damon's daylight ring and replaced it with his wedding band. Damon knew his daylight ring had been nothing but a trinket since he'd become human but the sun streaming in through the windows felt strange on his face without the ring on his finger.

"I, Damon, give you, Elena this ring as a symbol of my undying love," Damon repeated as he placed Elena's wedding band on her finger. "Just as the circle of the ring completes itself, so you complete me."

"By the power vested in me by this new thing called the internet," Enzo said and Damon rolled his eyes. Being locked up for a better part of a century did not give Enzo an excuse to be behind the times. Damon was older then Enzo and even he knew what Twitter was. "And by the state of Virginia, I pronounce you husband and wife. You may kiss the bride."

Damon had his wife in his arms so fast he almost felt like a vampire again. He threw himself into the kiss and Elena forgot she was holding flowers which fell to the floor as her arms encircled him. Damon had his hands on her bare back, holding her firmly closer to him as their lips moved together. She tasted like she always did, warm and sweet but now she wasn't just his girl anymore; she was his wife. His wife. Damon smiled into their kiss as he let the wonderful reality of it sank in.

Eventually someone cleared their throat and Elena pulled away from him; blushing furiously she bent to pick up the dropped flowers. Damon on the other hand had no shame. He grinned greedily at her, wanting to kiss her again. But Elena grabbed his hand and together they ran down the aisle while flower petals were thrown at them by the beaming toddlers.

Elena stood on the steps leading out of the building and threw her bouquet of flowers behind her, a huge grin on her face. Damon just had to turn and look. Caroline was holding the bouquet and somehow Damon just knew she'd used vampire speed to do it, mainly because she was stand feet from where Elena had thrown it. Damon caught his brother's eye and laughed. Stefan's expression was not quite readable but Damon made a note to tease Stefan about this mercilessly when he got home from his honeymoon.

Caroline had, of course, planned the perfect reception just around the corner. The guests followed the bride and groom as they changed venues. As they entered the reception hall Damon looked around at the stunning decoration for a brief moment then turned his attention back to Elena. The music he could appreciate while having eyes only for his wife and Damon had to admit Blondie had chosen well. It seemed to fit his mood and the atmosphere of the whole room.

Can you still see the heart of me?

All my agony fades away

when you hold me in your embrace

And suddenly Damon recognized the lyrics.

"We danced our first dance to this," Damon told his wife.

"I remember," Elena replied. "Though at the time I was super annoyed to be dancing with you."

"Maybe at the start," Damon said. "But we had a moment despite your reluctance." She smiled at him as the music continued.

I tried many times but nothing was real

Make it fade away, don't break me down

I want to believe that this is for real

Save me from my fear

Don't tear me down

Don't tear me down for all I need

Make my heart a better place

Don't tear me down for all I need

Make my heart a better place

Give me something I can believe

Don't tear it down, what's left of me

Make my heart a better place

Make my heart a better place

"I like this song," Damon decided. Elena had made his heart a better place. He hadn't paid attention to the lyrics the last time he heard it; his stolen moment with Elena had been his focus but now she was his forever.

Dinner was announced in Blondie's ringing voice. Slowly people started moving toward the rows of tables with crisp white linen and silver place settings. Damon held Elena's hand under the table while they waited for dinner, unwilling to not be touching her. She squeezed his hand in return. Unfortunately, he had to use both hands once dinner was served.

As Damon ate he was grateful Caroline had managed to convince Elena to cater the wedding. The piece of salmon on his plate was to die for; he had killed people for less than this fish. After Damon had emptied his plate and everyone else was also finished, champagne was served and the toasts started.

"If you'd told me one day I would one day be the best man at my brother's wedding," Stefan said holding his glass up in the air. "Before he met Elena I would have asked you what you were smoking." Everyone laughed even Damon. He had to agree without Elena this day was an impossibility. "Nevertheless here we are and despite how we got here I'm glad to see you both so happy. To Damon and Elena!" He raised his glass and everyone followed suit before taking a sip of the sparking liquid. Stefan sat down and Caroline jumped up.

"Elena," Caroline said beaming at her friend while totally ignoring Damon. "You really know how to pick em. Though selfishly I have to be thankful for your choice." She reached out behind her and took Stefan's hand. "I know how much he loves you but if he ever hurts you I will hunt him down." Damon gulped, feeling suddenly human and fragile but Elena was only rolling her eyes and Stefan was still grinning so Damon tried to relax. He often forgot about his relationship with Caroline when she was human and he suspected it wasn't often on her mind either. He felt bad for that now knowing how important Caroline was to the people he loved but he would never tell anyone that. Especially not her.

Caroline's serious expression vanished as she returned to wedding planner bubbly and continued her toast.

"So here's to Elena and Damon," Caroline said raising her glass. "May you be very happy together." Everyone took a sip from their glasses again. Caroline sat down and Damon was already thinking about how delicious dessert would be when Alaric stood up.

"Elena," Ric said. "I was honoured when you asked me to give you away Elena. I know I haven't been the best guardian to you and Jeremy but by some miracle you turned into a strong independent woman." He turned to smile at his young daughters. "If my girls are even half as impressive as you I will be the proudest father in the world."

"What about me?" Damon whined.

"Oh yes how can I forget my murderous drinking buddy," Alaric laughed but then winced as Damon suspected Jo had kicked him under the table. "Sorry," Alaric muttered. Then he turned to Damon and said. "You got the girl, now don't screw it up."

"But I've heard that before," Damon said. He could feel Caroline's glare for disrupting the toasts but ignored it. "Nothing else to say, really?"

Damon missed Alaric which annoyed him. Why did the man have to live so damn far away?

"If you hurt her I'll help Caroline hunt you down," Alaric said cheerfully. Damon slumped in his chair sulkily.

"Come on," Elena said standing up. "Guys! Can't you just be nice?" Man, did Damon love her!

"This is nice," Alaric argued.

"Fine!" Elena said. "Then I would like to make a toast too." Caroline opened her mouth to object but then closed it again and sad down as if giving up on perfection.

"To Damon's ungrateful friends," she started her glass in hand. "Sure he killed you a few times and yeah sure he's a jerk a lot of the time but you all know you love him so stuff it." She laughed and Damon couldn't resist standing up to hug her. He lifted her into the air and twirled her around.

"I'll be nice," Jeremy said as he stood up. Elena beamed as him as she sat down. "You did kill me once or twice but unless I'm wrong you saved me a few times too. Either way you make my sister very happy and so I toast to Elena's happiness even if that includes you." He laughed drained his champagne glass then sat down again.

"Time to cut the cake!" Caroline said as if trying to get things back on track. Damon was now kissing Elena and far less concerned about dessert than he had been previously that is until a small circular table with their elaborate three tier wedding cake on it was rolled into the room. It was white with gold icing shaped like flowers around the base. The gold continued in a flower pattern over the other two tiers and atop the cake were the figures of a bride and a groom dancing together.

The cake was set in front of them and Damon was about to dig in when Caroline stopped him so the photographer could get in position.

The photographer started clicking away madly, no doubt on Caroline's orders, and Damon was finally allowed to cut the cake with Elena's help. The two of them each held the knife as it went through the cake. Damon fed his wife a piece of their wedding cake and she in turn stuffed the sweet dessert into his mouth though she had some trouble due to the smile Damon couldn't keep off his face.

Damon had tried to ignore the bright flashes from the camera since he had to admit having a photo of this moment wasn't the worst thing ever. In fact, Damon had to admit to himself that he would probably secretly take out the, no doubt detailed, photos album Caroline was putting together on a regular basis from now on. He was never going to tell Caroline this however.

After that everyone was given a slice of the cake and the hall filled with the white noise of conversation like it had at dinner. Caroline wouldn't let Damon eat the top tier of the cake saying stuff about tradition but Damon hadn't really listened. He had been busying getting a second slice of cake.

When the music came on Enzo announced them and they got up together to dance for the first time as a married couple. Damon's thoughts went to the first time they danced together and how that moment had been theirs, even if she had been with Stefan at the time. They had come full circle since then and Damon couldn't help making parallels to from this dance to their last.

"Husband," Elena whispered into his ear as she held him close.

"Yes wife?" Damon said with a grin.

"I love you."

"I know," Damon said, with a grin. "You can't stop remember?" He winked at her but she just shook her head at him. Damon rested his forehead against hers and repeated the loving phrase back to her. She smiled into his shoulder as a slow song started. They swayed back and forth, not really dancing anymore, simply holding each other close.

Other people started joining them on the dance floor, first of which were Enzo and Bonnie. Alaric and Jo were dancing with their twin girls and even Stefan was seen dancing with Caroline. He had to admit Blondie was damn good at throwing a party and very persuasive to get his brother to dance.

"Photos! Caroline called maybe a half hour later running over to them with a clipboard. "Come with me!"

Elena groaned but Damon smiled at her and guided her in the direction of Blondie. He wanted her photo album to be divine.

"It will make her happy," Damon said, knowing this was the best argument to make Elena agree. It was certainly not his reason for doing it. Damon wanted to remember this day for the rest of his short life. Caroline had multiple photo shoots planned. The first was indoors in a small out of the way room within the reception hall. There was a plain backdrop behind them as they were maneuvered like props by the photographer. The second was in the reception hall itself with the party as a backdrop. The third was outside with nature.

"I saved this for last so you wouldn't have twigs in your hair for the other shots," Caroline explained as she led them outside to where she had lighting equipment set up. This was more than even Damon thought she'd done though if he'd paid more attention to the planning of his wedding maybe it wouldn't have surprised him.

They smiled for the camera until their cheeks hurt. Elena was complaining about her feet by the end of it and she did indeed have a twig in her hair.

"Done!" Caroline said finally and Elena noticeably slumped beside him.

"Do you wanna start the honeymoon early?" Damon asked his wife.

"You read my mind," Elena beamed at him. Damon grabbed his wife by the hand and ran with her to the car parked around the corner with the words 'just married' written on the back.

Chapter Text

With the clear blue sky above him and soft warm sand against his back, Damon basked in the sun. Lifting his hand in the air he stared at his wedding ring. The small thin circular band of metal that had replaced his daylight ring sparkled in the sunshine.

"At least it's a wedding ring now." His wife's voice carried across the beach. "Not an unnecessary daylight ring, protecting you from sunlight that doesn't actually hurt you anymore."

Damon smiled as he turned to see his stunning wife look ever more intoxicating in her red bikini. Damon himself was wearing blue swimming trunks because Elena had said they brought out his eyes. Elena came to sit on the towel next to him, turning on her side to face him.

"Look at this!" she teased, poking him hard in the stomach. "Where did my husband's rock hard abs go?"

"Is it my fault cake is super delicious now?" Damon laughed. In truth he didn't look much different than when he'd been a vampire but there was a slight mushroom top to his waistline that hadn't been there before.

"When we get home I'll add to my workout routine if it makes you happy," Damon promised.

"I didn't sign up to marry a fat Salvatore," Elena said still in a teasing tone. "Gonna have to rethink this whole thing."

"You did technically," Damon argued. "In sickness and in health, remember?"

"Are you saying cake is a sickness" Elena laughed as she laid down, resting her head on his chest. Damon laughed with her and they held each other in silence for a moment, just listening to the waves.

"Having you to myself all day every day is the best," Damon sighed. "Tell me why you work again?"

"Because I enjoy it," Elena replied. "Though this is rather marvelous."

"I vote we make it a yearly trip," Damon suggested.

"Twist my arm," Elena replied smiling. "Maybe you can convince me."

"Oh I know I can convince you," Damon purred as he ran his hand up her thigh.

"Damon!" Elena giggled.

"What?" Damon asked.

"We are on a public beach," Elena reminded him.

"So?"

"You are the worst," she laughed.

"Oh all right," Damon said. "For you… I guess I can take the time to set up a tent." She hit him playfully on the back of the head and Damon grinned as he spun them around and pinned his wife against the sand.

"I see no tent," Elena giggled.

Damon pretended to search for other people, looking to his left and right. Sure it was a public beach but it was an empty beach and Elena knew it.

"I see no people," Damon countered. "I say we risk skipping the tent."

"You, Damon Salvatore, have no shame," Elena told him.

"And you are just learning this now?" Damon asked with a grin.

"Oh heavens no," Elena replied still grinning from ear to ear. "I just like to repeat the obvious."

"You are too sexy for your own good," Damon told her.

"Oh am I?" Elena teased him. "Are you just realising this now?"

"Just stating the obvious," Damon whispered. The time for teasing was over. Damon leaned down and kissed her passionately. Her arms came up to hold him, and her legs wrapped around him.

"How about that tent?" Elena whispered as they broke apart to catch their breath. Damon would have happily made love on the beach but he knew Elena wouldn't be completely comfortable with that. Her legs wrapped around his hips Damon stood up, holding her to him, never breaking their kiss. He started walking across the beach to the small cabin they had rented as best he could while still kissing his wife. He may not have walked there in a straight line but they arrived all the same.

Their honeymoon had just started and so far, all they had done was unpack and hit the beach; that had been what Elena requested. Damon would have preferred to start with this part, though he had to admit the beach had been lovely.

Carrying her over the threshold Damon laid her on the rather large comfortable sofa before climbing on top of her and kissing her again. Their bathing suits proved to be an easily broken barrier to the consummation of their marriage.

"Damon!" Elena scolded. "Don't rip my suit."

"I prefer your birthday suit," Damon smirked as he kissed down her stomach and over her hips. She gasped and quickly forgot about her clothes. As Damon reached for their usual method of birth control Elena grabbed his arm and he turned to her.

"Wait," she said. "I'm ready if you are."

"Oh," Damon said, feeling the weight of what she was saying. "Are you sure?"

"Course I am stupid," Elena said snapping Damon out of his daze. "The question is are you?"

"What are you implying?" Damon scoffed.

"We have been waiting until you were ready, haven't we?"

"I resent that," Damon huffed. "You wanted to be farther along in your job."

"I have been talking to Jo," Elena said. "I don't know anyone else with kids and I…" Damon knew that look. Elena wished she could talk to her mom about this. He leaned down and kissed her sweetly, switching his position from holding his body above hers to laying beside her on the sofa.

"I know," Damon whispered in her ear and she smiled before continuing.

"I don't think there is a right time," Elena said. "Work is always going to be there. It's our honeymoon."

"I agree," Damon said smiling.

"Really!"

"Yes really, you silly beautiful girl," Damon replied stroking the side of her face gently.

"Okay," Elena said firmly. "Put that away then." She turned to look at the protection Damon had been about to collect.

"Wish I hadn't packed it now," Damon remarked. Elena rolled her eyes at him then pulled him down to kiss her again.

When they made love this time there was something different about it. Sure, no birth control was perfect and they could have gotten pregnant many times before now but the fact was that this time they were doing it on purpose, and it made it surreal somehow. They lay naked and panting in each other's arms on the couch after but rather than go to the beach again decided to watch a movie.

The days went by in honeymoon bliss as they enjoyed the beach and each other. Bonnie and Stefan texted to check in on occasion but were often ignored. This was their time; friends could wait till later. Elena argued that Stefan was his brother not his friend which Damon waved away, reminding Elena that Stefan was her ex. He loved the annoyed look on her face whenever he did this.

"Why do you always bring that up?" Elena replied annoyed. "Are you worried I'll end up switching Salvatore brothers again." Damon laughed. "Just because I fell for you while I was with him doesn't mean I-"

Damon stopped her monologue with his lips as he took her in his arms. She kissed him back, annoyance forgotten. They were on the porch near sunset, nursing their drinks together. It was a lovely night.

"I can't wait to start a family with you Elena," Damon whispered into her ear. "But you know this means you are going to get fat."

"You little!" she growled, smacking him playfully on the shoulder. He grinned back as he pulled her in again and kissed her neck.

"You are horrible," Elena gasped as his hand went up under her dress.

"Oh yeah," Damon mocked, his lips a breath away from her skin. "And what are you going to do about it, my love?"

Elena grinned as her hands found the elastic of his swimming trunks and shimmied them off.

Damon couldn't remember a time when he had been happier. Not only was Elena his wife but she was soon to be the mother of his child and the idea made Damon glow with pride. He loved right now, just them together on the beach, but he was so looking forward to what came next.

Chapter Text

Damon was walking through a grocery store while Bonnie put things in the cart. This was a standard Tuesday as Elena worked most of the time, which left Damon stuck with the shopping. Usually Damon was able to persuade someone to come with him and that someone was usually Bonnie but occasionally Stefan when he wasn't busy with Caroline.

Damon loved shopping with Bon Bon – it reminded him of their time together in 1994 – but today there wasn't much that could improve his mood.

"Which one does Elena like again?" Bonnie asked as she held up two boxes of cereal. Damon pointed, but didn't speak.

"You know you should really make her come shopping at least once," Bonnie argued as she had done many times before.

"Elena's working," Damon replied as he always did.

"She works too much," Bonnie said.

"She loves her job," Damon said monotonously.

"Yeah, but she loves you more," Bonnie said as she continued to select items from the shelf. "She'd make time." Damon didn't really feel like explaining how he knew this already and Elena always made time for him. It was just that now Elena needed the distraction.

"Your one-year wedding anniversary is coming up," Bonnie said cheerfully. "You guys got something special planned?"

"Nope," Damon said.

"What's wrong Damon?" Bonnie asked as she turned to face him, a determined look on her face.

"Nothing."

"Bullshit!" Bonnie said. "You two are both acting weird and sulky and I wanna know why."

"I'd tell you Bon Bon," Damon sighed. "But Elena doesn't want me to talk about it."

"This is me Damon," Bonnie said. "Surely Elena didn't mean me?"

"She meant everyone," Damon said. "And I kinda agree with her. When we know something you will be the first to know. Promise." He smiled and hoped she would drop it.

"Alright fine," Bonnie said reluctantly. After a few minutes of silent shopping in which Bonnie knew her best friend well enough to not even ask Damon what food brands Elena preferred, Bonnie changed the topic. "Enzo wants to start shopping with you too."

"Okay," Damon said. "Could be fun."

"The three of us could go and make you the third wheel," Bonnie teased him.

"Ah the dreaded third wheel," Damon replied. The teasing was helping his mood at least. "Something to look forward too." He sighed. "Thanks for shopping with me Bon Bon. I hate doing this by myself."

"No problem," Bonnie replied. They finished shopping in silence, packed the car and headed home. Bonnie helped put away all his groceries, still without speaking, but as she stood by the front door about to leave she turned.

"You guys aren't breaking up are you?" Bonnie asked.

"Of course not," Damon said with a sigh, but he didn't add that wouldn't really blame Elena if she did leave him, at least if, as he feared, he was the problem.

"Alright then," Bonnie said. "And you are going to tell me what the heck is going on with you guys as soon as you can?"

"Promise," Damon smiled at her and she seemed content with that.

"Okay… bye then," Bonnie said. "I'm meeting Enzo for dinner." Damon waved goodbye to his friend and closed the door behind her.

Once he was alone Damon checked if he had any messages on the landline. He checked the mail and just in case he'd ignored his phone while he was out he double checked that as well. No news.

Damon sat on the couch to watch TV till it was time to start making dinner. It was like living in limbo these last few days waiting to hear what the problem was. He was glad Elena at least had work as a distraction. Damon had become quite the cook since becoming human, which had demanded he add considerably to his workout routine. Jogging just wasn't going to cut it anymore. He'd bought exercise equipment that was set up in the rec room, but at the moment Damon decided to give himself a pass and stream some very inaccurate show about vampires on Netflix. These vampires had to be buried in the earth in order to be the undead which Damon found very hilarious. Also it was full of other mythical creatures that weren't quite right. The witches were half demons warlocks and the werewolves were born not triggered. The part angel people were Damon's least favourite part. He gave up on the show to make dinner when he was sick of the TV. He had just finishing setting the table when Elena arrived home. She had that same look on her face she'd had every day since their returned from the clinic. Hope on her face as she asked him with her eyes if he'd heard anything. Damon just shook his head. She looked sad for a moment, as always, then sat down to dinner.

She told him about her day and about her patients, about the ones she'd saved the ones she couldn't. Elena had chosen neonatal for her specialty though he wondered if she now regretted that.

"They'd been trying to get pregnant for ages," Elena was explaining. "Just to have their daughter born four months early." Damon listened patiently since he had nothing to add. He knew talking about work helped keep Elena distracted. "We had to hook her up to a ventilator with an IV and so many other tubes. She's so tiny. Her parents couldn't even hold her."

"Did the baby make it?" Damon asked.

"She was breathing when I left," Elena said. "But I'm not sure if she will still be there when I return."

"That sucks," Damon supplied, not sure what else to say.

"I miss vampire blood," Elena said. "I understand why Meredith stole yours now. It might save her."

"You know enough vampires," Damon suggested. "Get some blood."

"But if it doesn't work," Elena said. "The baby wouldn't get to die a human death, she'd be a tiny immobile vampire… and I just don't think I should make the decision for her and I can't tell her parents about vampires." She sighed.

"Any happy patient stories today?" Damon asked her as they finished dinner.

"I worked on a preemie boy all day," Elena said. "He developed an infection that spread to his blood, threatening to shut down his organs. I kept pumping antibiotics into him and I tried to keep his blood pressure stable. He will probably live if he makes it through the night." She paused pushing her empty dinner plate away. "Dinner was great thanks."

"You're welcome," Damon replied.

"With him I might have risked Vampire blood," Elena began her story again. "It would have cured the infection instantly. I feel so limited by medical technology and conventional science sometimes." She looked so frustrated Damon got up and took her in his arms.

"You did everything you could," Damon said. "And if you weren't there it's not like any ordinary vampire would have healed such a patient. It's not like you being human is why…"

"Why the baby might die?" Elena asked. "Because it feels like that to me."

"Ask Enzo, Stefan or Caroline," Damon replied trying to inject some cheeriness into his voice. "You could do what Meredith did but with volunteer vampires."

"You know it's not about…" She started but Damon saw tears in her eyes.

"I know, love," Damon said pulling her in close and holding her. She never actually cried but Damon held her anyway, praying to a god he didn't believe in that he could make her happy. Damon guided her to the couch and they cuddled up together.

"So enough about me," Elena asked and he could sense the same fake cheerfulness in her voice he'd created in his own. "How was your day?"

"Went shopping with Bonnie," Damon said. "She wasn't happy I didn't tell her what was wrong."

"Not yet," Elena said. "Let's just wait and see if there's something to tell first."

"I know," Damon said. "I agree. It was just strange to keep it from Bon Bon."

"Caroline kept asking me too," Elena said. Damon suggested they watch a movie and managed to see a smile on his wife's face for a solid five minutes while she selected one. He lived for her smiles. They settled in and started the movie, Elena resting her head on his shoulder. Damon wrapped a blanket around them both and pretended to care about the movie she choice. Sometimes in moments like this when Elena was warm and safe in his arms he wondered why he was so upset. Surely he had everything already.

"Maybe this is enough," Elena spoke suddenly as if she could read his thoughts. "Maybe I don't need-"

"Don't," Damon spoke cutting her off. "None of that thinking until we know, one way or the other."

Chapter Text

Damon sat in a cold sterile building, both very glad to finally be here and also dreading what he was about to learn. Elena sat beside him holding his hand. He thought back to the first time they’d come here over a week ago. It had been the most awkward moment of his life but this was the most terrifying. What if the results weren’t good? What if it was his fault? He’d been a vampire for longer than a human life span while Elena had only been dead for a few years. What if that made a difference?

 

“Mr. and Mrs. Salvatore.”

 

They stood up. It was a testimony to how nervous Elena was that she didn’t bother to correct the woman about her surname name. Elena had remained a Gilbert since it had been important to her to keep her name for her job. They followed the lady in the lab coat down the hall into a small room with two chairs facing a desk. In the desk sat their doctor. Damon and Elena each sat in a chair, still holding hands, as they faced the desk. Damon heard the door click closed and guessed the lady in the lab coat had shut the door behind her.

 

“Good morning,” Dr. Cooper said. “How are you today?”

 

“You said you had our results?” Elena spoke quickly, ignoring his pleasantries.

 

“Yes I do,” Dr. Cooper said, with a sigh. Damon just knew that sigh meant someone bad.

 

“It’s bad isn’t it?” Elena asked.

 

“I haven’t said anything yet,” Dr. Smith replied. “Please relax.” Damon heard Elena take a deep breath next to him and tried to follow suit before the doctor spoke again. “I won’t lie and tell you your results are great because they aren’t, but they aren’t the worst. It’s possible, just not probable.”

 

“You don’t think we will ever conceive a child?” Elena summed up his words bluntly, probably hoping for a more direct answer as a result.

 

“I didn’t say that,” Dr. Smith stated calmly. “I just wouldn’t bet money on it.”

 

“Who’s fault is it?” Damon asked. “Which of us is the problem?” He didn’t want to know but he had to.

 

“Neither of you is specifically the problem,” Dr. Smith replied. “You both have low fertility but--” Dr. Smith turned to Damon. “Yours results were worse than hers.”

 

“If Elena was trying to conceive with someone else would she have better luck?”

 

“Damon!” Elena exclaimed turning to him. He had to ask. He had to know. Though this doctor couldn’t tell him what he really wanted to know since this doctor knew nothing about vampires or ancient cures for vampirism. Had they always been like this even when they were human? Neither of them had ever had sex with a human as a human until they’d taken the cure together. Sex with vampires never lead to children. Or was their infertility a result of the cure. The cure had after all been designed as a way to kill an immortal not as a way for two vampires to become human and have children together.

 

“I think she would yes,” Dr. Smith said. “But I can’t guarantee it would make a real difference. Her results were not as good as I would expect from a woman her age.”

 

Damon nodded. At least now he knew. Damon didn’t listen to anything else the doctor had to say. He could tell Elena was still listening but he knew all he needed to know. Elena was better off trying to convince a child with someone else. The very idea created such jealousy within as to be overwhelming but Damon fought it.

 

They didn’t speak the whole way home. Damon’s mind was never restful though. He was trying to decide what to do. He knew what he should do but he also knew what he wanted and they weren’t the same thing. He was selfish and now he was taking another thing away from the woman he loved.

 

When they arrived home Elena sat on the couch and started crying. Damon could do nothing but sit beside her, holding her, feeling helpless. When her tears ran dry she looked up at him and suddenly Damon knew he could be selfless. The grief and pain on her face cut at him and he knew he could do what needed to be done.

 

“You should leave me,” Damon said. “You should find someone who can give you a child.”

 

Elena’s reaction surprised him. She slapped him across the face as hard as she could. Damon reeled, stunned by the attack.

 

“How dare you!” Elena yelled through the new tears pouring from her eyes.

 

“Elena,” Damon whispered. “I just want you to have everything. I don’t want to hold you back!”

 

“After everything we’ve been through,” Elena roared standing up now. “After everything our love has survived you want to give up over this!”

 

“Of course I don’t!” Damon yelled back, also on his feet now.

 

“Then shut up!” Elena screamed, reminding him suddenly of the moment she’d replied to his request for her to stop loving him. ‘I can’t’ she had said. Then Elena’s hands were on his chest and Damon heard his shirt tear. He was on the ground, his furious wife on top of him, stripping him. His clothes were gone in seconds and Damon kissed her back with passion, happy to forget the pain if only for the moment.

 

Elena was in no mood for foreplay and moments later had shed her own clothes. Damon stared up at his beautiful wife, who was for the moment consumed by her passionate need for him. A need that was wasted since he could not give her what she wanted. But when Elena guided his hard arousal inside of her in one fast movement Damon forgot about everything else. He gasped as she started to move her hips quickly, panting. Elena was moaning when her own body tensed with her climax, squeezing Damon’s useless release out of him.

 

Still connected, she collapsed on top of him. Damon realized they were lying naked on their living room floor and made to move but Elena held him there.

 

“You are mine,” she whispered as she tensed her muscles around him again. Damon was spent but he could still feel the possessiveness of her action.

 

“Since the moment I met you,” Damon agreed in a whisper. “I have been yours.”

 

“No more talk of leaving,” Elena said firmly. Damon turned to kiss her sweetly on the cheek. Her head was resting on his shoulder. “We have other options.”

 

“Oh?” Damon inquired.

 

“You didn’t listen to the doctor, did you,” Elena sighed. Damon chuckled. Somehow things didn’t seem so bad anymore. He couldn’t give her everything but he had given her enough; he wouldn’t lose her.

 

“We could try sperm donor,” Elena suggested.

 

“Sperm donor?” Damon said skeptically. The same jealous rising up in him again. That sounded wrong.

 

“It’s not what you are thinking,” Elena told him, clearing knowing him far too well. “It’s medical.” Damon mumbled something that made her chuckle.

 

“I love you,” she told him smiling. Damon seized her lips in a fierce kiss before whispering, “And you know I love you too.”

 

“Or we could adopt,” Elena suggested next. Damon thought about that. He had been ready to be the father of her children, to be linked to her in this new way. To blend their blood together but this was lost to him now. Did Damon want to raise a child that wasn’t his own. Could he even do that? Would he be any good at it? Raising a child that wasn’t your own took a different kind of selflessness than raising your own child and Damon didn’t know if he was capable of that.

 

“Or we could put our faith in the small hope we have of conceiving a child of our own,” Elena said clearing reading the hesitation on Damon’s face. “And if it never happens maybe we don’t have kids.”

“But you want kids Elena,” Damon pleaded cupping her face with his hand. “And I wanted to give them to you.”

Chapter Text

Damon stood on the door mat, suddenly not sure if this was such a good idea. But then again he had flown all the way here.

They had told everyone now. Bonnie had suggested about eight different spells which Elena had turned down, telling Bonnie that sometimes magic came at too high a price and she wouldn't risk it with a child. After that Bonnie had taken Elena and Damon out drinking. When they informed Stefan that he may never be an uncle, his brother had told Damon a story about the first girl he loved, back when he was human. How he had hoped to build a future with her, have children with her. Stephan had tried to empathize and when that failed he had taken Damon out drinking as well. Caroline still didn't like Damon much but she had been a little less cold to him since he'd became human. Though, Damon thought, that might just be because she could now kill him without blinking. Damon smiled at the thought. Caroline loved Elena and Stefan far too much to even harm him. Despite her feelings towards her best friend's husband Caroline was nothing if not supportive of Elena. Damon found blondie quite growing on him as he watched the way she made the two people he loved most in the world happy. She had healed Stefan's broken heart and she continued to be a source of strength for Elena.

Pulling his mind back to the present and taking a deep breath, Damon knocked on the door. An adorable little girl with pigtails in her hair quickly answered.

"Hi," she said with enthusiasm.

"Which one are you?" Damon asked grinning. Even in photos he couldn't tell the girls apart. The little girl crossed her arms and puffed herself up in indignation.

"Livvy!" she scoffed.

"Is your dad home?" Damon asked. Livvy turned to call 'daddy' down the hallway but when Livvy turned back to face Damon, her mother stood on her other side.

"Mommy," Livvy said. "Where'd you come from? I called for daddy."

"What have I told you about answering the door!" Jo scolded. "Back inside." Jo had a hand on her daughter's back as she guided Livvy into the house. Damon knew that Livvy had been named after Jo's sister but he couldn't remember if that was because something bad had happened to Jo's sister or they had just felt uncreative when it came to naming their daughter. Not that Damon could talk since he had never, and would likely never, know the difficulty of naming a child.

"What do you want Damon?" Jo asked crossing her arms over her chest in much the same way as her daughter.

"Can't a guy just pay a visit to his old friend without a secret agenda?"

"Not when that friend had to buy a plane ticket to get here but didn't bother to call ahead."

"Touché," Damon said as he went inside without an invite. That he had to admit was one of the most satisfying perks of being human.

"Ric?" Damon called as he saw his friend coming down the hallway.

"Damon!" Ric exclaimed. "Where did you come from?"

"Well, at least that's a better welcome than the one I got from your wife," Damon chuckled.

"Sorry," Alaric laughed. "I am surprised to see you."

"And so you should be," Jo replied. "Since Damon didn't call ahead."

"Relax Jo," Alaric tried to sooth his wife. Jo huffed but turned and left the room, following her daughter.

"What's wrong Damon?" Ric asked.

"How do you know something's wrong?" Damon replied, trying to smile. "Can't a friend just come to visit without something being wrong."

"I may live far away," Alaric said. "But I still keep in touch with Elena."

"Oh," Damon said the fake enthusiasm sliding off his face. Ric motioned for Damon to follow. They went together through the house and out through the back door. Alaric's porch was rather cozy, Damon thought, even though there were little girls' toys scattered everywhere, dolls and pink toy bicycles. The railing was white and the decking was a light wood. Two wooden rocking chairs were located to the right of the door, a grill and seating area on the left. There was a cooler there was well and Ric pulled two beers out of it, handing one to Damon.

"Light beer?" Damon asked skeptically.

Alaric shrugged. "I have kids," he said by way of explanation.

"Show off," Damon muttered.

"So I hear," Ric replied. He sat down in one of the rocking chairs and Damon followed suit. It was a rather comfortable chair he decided as he sipped his light beer. What was the point of light beer anyway, Damon wondered. It was rather too much like water for his taste. Ric didn't ask Damon again what was wrong but rather waited for Damon to speak. This alone made Damon glad he had come, plane flight and all.

"We have been trying fertility treatments," Damon said after a long silence in which he drank half his beer. "But they're so hard on Elena. The hormones make her so crazy. She had to cut her hours at work which only makes her feel worse." He paused and took a sip of his mediocre beer. Alaric didn't speak and Damon was glad; if Alaric had said anything at this moment Damon was sure he'd lose his nerve. "Bonnie wants to try magic but we both agreed that's a bad plan." He paused again, not wanting to voice what he had flown all the way here to confess.

"Elena wanted to try adoption," Damon finally said. "But I don't know if I can do that."

"Why not?" Ric asked. His voice was free of judgement or contempt. When Elena had told Caroline why they were trying fertility treatments instead of adopting, blondie had glared at him with judgement in her eyes. Elena, of course, had been nothing but understanding. She had admitted she wanted a child of her own as well and they had started the treatments.

"I don't believe I can bond with a child that isn't mine," Damon spoke the words that had been haunting him.

Alaric studied Damon's face intently for a moment, thinking. "When I think about my girls," Alaric said finally. "I don't think about the fact that they share my blood. I remember the nights I sat here in his chair, a baby in both arms, rocking them back and forth until they fell asleep. When I call myself their father I do it because I read them bedtime stories and fix them lunch. When they are hurt they call for me. Those things are what make you a parent, Damon, not your shared genetics. The willingness to put your child's well being above your own is more important than anything else."

"But they wouldn't be my child," Damon argued. "They would be someone else's."

"Not for long," Ric said smiling at Damon. "Once you are needed by a child, that child becomes a part of you. That child becomes your responsibility and therefore becomes your child."

"I was so determined to be a better father than my dad," Damon said softly. "And I thought with a child of ours, a child who looked like Elena, that would be easy but a stranger's child…"

Before Alaric could speak one of his daughters came running out onto the porch.

"Mommy says we shouldn't come find you right now," the little girl called, pigtails bouncing as she ran. "But look Daddy!" She held up a drawing of what Damon had to guess was her home and family. There were four stick figures standing before a box with a pointed roof.

"That's beautiful!" Ric complimented her with nothing but genuine pleasure. She grinned and jumped into his lap. Ric wrapped his arms around her. The moment had been so automatic as to make Damon want to cry. Damon was a selfish man, and always had been, so when he knew rationally that all his horrible deeds meant he didn't deserve happiness and never would, his selfishness disagreed. Despite the fact he had Elena which was already more happiness than he probably deserved, Damon wanted this scene before him too.

"Dianne!" Jo called as she appeared, hands on her hips. If Damon was remembering correctly, they had named Dianne after Alaric mother. "Daddy is busy, you little rascal." There was laughter in Jo's voice as she scooped her daughter out of her husband's lap and tickled her.

"No stop mommy!" the little girl giggled. But she was smiling so widely Damon couldn't believe she really wanted her mother to stop. Nevertheless, Ric stood up and rescued his daughter from his wife's grip.

"Don't worry, sweetie," Ric said smiling. "You are always welcome to bother daddy when he is busy."

"Mommy just doesn't like him," Dianne said pointing at Damon. Despite the fact he was being pointed out as someone disliked, Damon couldn't help but smile. The way Jo and Ric interacted with their daughter had made Damon suddenly understand what Alaric had been trying to tell him. This is what made them a family, the everyday happy moments like this, not the blood they shared.

"Thanks," Damon said, as a smile broke out over his face.

"Did I miss something?" Jo asked skeptically. "Or was that meant to be sarcastic."

Damon stood up and smiled at Jo. "Thank you," he said, sincerely, looking directly into her eyes.

"For?" she asked, a little stunned.

"For showing me what I am missing," Damon explained. She still didn't look like she knew what was going on but Alaric was grinning, knowingly.

"Dianne," Alaric said firmly. "Uncle Damon needs a hug." Dianne giggled as her father put her down then she ran to Damon and latched onto his leg. Damon leaned down to extract the barnacle off his leg and lift her up into the air.

"Wee!" Dianne giggled as Damon threw her in the air and caught her. She settled against him comfortably, trustingly, with her arms wrapped around his neck, as if any friend of her daddy's was a friend of hers. Damon had no words to describe the feelings rising in him.

The next moment she was wriggling to be put down. When Damon set her down she ran off back into the house, calling for her sister.

Damon spent the rest of the afternoon with Alaric before he got back on a plane to return home to Elena. Now finally able to tell her he was ready to adopt.

Chapter Text

Damon would always choose Elena over everything else, and he tried to remember that while he stared blurry eyed at the endless paper work. Oh how he missed being able to compel people to do this for him. As it turned out, adopting a child was not an easy process. Any horny teenager could conceive a baby but adopting a child was a different story entirely. Despite the fact these children needed homes, the government didn't seem to want to let go of them. It made no sense to Damon whatsoever. They wanted to check and double check the prospective adoptive parents' backgrounds and criminal history and everything, to make sure they weren't murderers which Damon found absolutely hilarious since that was exactly what he and Elena were, though him far more so. Elena had only killed that one guy because Damon had suggested it when she was sired to him and so Damon tended to call that one of his kills rather than hers.

"Okay so remind me again why we aren't going through an agency?" Damon whined. He'd heard that agency did all this work for you.

"I want to research every option," Elena reminded him. This he knew all too well since he had spent the better part of the last seven months of his life researching all the options. Adopting a baby was of course ideal but also the most difficult route to take. They had thought about surrogacy but Elena was still on the fence about it. She was scared the surrogate would try and claim custody. They were currently researching adopting a child around the age of five or sex. Damon shook his head, trying to clear his thoughts and turn sex back into six. He turned his eyes away from his wife's beautiful breasts but he was so not paying attention anymore.

"I much prefer the traditional way of procreating," Damon said grinning. "Much more fun than," he motioned to the piles of paper and the open laptop screen covered in statistics, "this."

"Later sweetie," Elena said absently as she shuffled some papers around. Damon sighed. Aside from his lack of getting lucky Damon was also nervous about adopting a child rather than an infant. How could he bond with a child who was already able to judge him?

He reminded himself that he loved his wife more than anything else in the world and tried to banish such worries. He had Elena and she would help him get to know a child, if that was what they chose in the end. At the moment all they had was paperwork.

"Are you sure I can't tempt you?" Damon asked his wife as seductively as he could. She moaned deep in her throat but did not turn to face him, her eyes firmly fixed on the work in front of her. Damon sensed he was going to win this and stood up to stand behind Elena.

"We have been working for a long time already," Damon purred, as he rubbed her shoulders. "I think we need a break."

"Hmm," Elena replied, her hands relaxing as she closed her eyes. Damon seized this opportunity and bend down to kiss his wife's neck. She moaned again. Damon brought his hands around to gently squeeze her breast and she surrendered. Standing up she started unbuttoning his shirt. Even if the traditional child making method didn't work for them it was still a great way to relax. This was Damon's favourite thing to do while Elena was surrounded by paperwork.

Afterwards they usually lay naked and panting on the couch together. Damon sported a wicked grin on his face but Elena got up quickly put her clothes back on and went right back to work. Damon sighed but didn't move. He knew this had been her obsession for the last few months and though he wanted it too he just didn't have the patience that she did. The other great difference was that Damon wanted children with her while Elena just wanted children in general.

"Are you just gonna lay there?" Elena asked him. Damon whined and complained but he got up, put on at least some pants and set to work again, with only a small part of his brain wondering if this was punishment for all the people he'd killed.

Aside from endless adoption drama, his cooking hobby and his wife, Damon's life mostly consisted of time with friends. Damon was seeing less of Bonnie lately. She and Enzo were getting quite serious. Damon had taken to teasing Bonnie that since she couldn't have him she'd settled for the closest she could get, aka his friend. If no one stopped him the joke usually kept going until Damon was implying that if Stefan was single Bonnie would have gone for him instead. Bon Bon quickly grow tired of this joke and had already resorted to magic more than once to shut Damon up.

'You can't mute me with magic over text, Bon Bon,' Damon teased his friend. He was standing in his living room staring down at his smartphone, grinning.

'I am turning my phone off!'

'Nah you aren't,' Damon replied. 'You love the teasing. Admit it!'

'I will admit to nothing. I am gonna set Enzo on you if you aren't careful.'

'Enzo and I go way back,' Damon replied. 'He wouldn't kill me…. probably.'

'Ha!' was Bonnie's detailed reply. Damon was still thinking about how he wanted to reply when his doorbell rang. Elena wasn't due home from work for a little while longer though she could have just left early. Damon put down his phone and opened the door.

"Hey," Stefan said.

"What up little bro?" Damon asked. Teasing Bonnie had put him in a rather fun mood.

"Don't call me that," Stefan replied. "Remember if I break your back you stay down."

"And make your dear Elena a widow!" Damon said dramatically. Stefan glared at him and Damon couldn't help but laugh. He marveled sometimes how they had gotten to this point from where they had started. It was indeed a wacky world.

Stefan walked into the house and then stood awkwardly, shifting his weight from side to side.

"What's going on brother?" Damon asked, concerned. Stefan showing up wasn't such a strange event but his brother seemed on edge about something. "Are you eating people again? Or wait, is mother eating people again?"

Stefan laughed nervously. "No," he said. "Like Caroline would let me. And mother is still in Europe."

"So what's got you wound so tight then?" Damon asked.

"You are the only married person I know," Stefan said.

"And your point is?" Damon said. "Cause if we are just naming strange qualities I can think of no one else who drinks bunny blood."

"I just wanted to ask," Stefan said. "Well you know that I love Caroline."

"Are you going to get to a point or just continue to stand there being confusing?" Damon asked with a sign.

"I'm think of asking Caroline to marry me," Stefan said quickly in one breath.

"Oh okay, actually making sense now," Damon replied relaxing. His brother had looked so nervous he thought for a moment there was an actual crisis.

"And!?" Stefan said as if Damon was supposed to answer a question. Damon had no idea how the word 'and' was a question.

"Congrats…" Damon replied not quite sure what he was supposed to say.

"I'm asking for your advice," Stefan said, reluctantly.

"Oh," Damon said slowly as the strange nature of the conversation dawned on him. "Dude I just drank some funny blood, became a pathetic aging lazy ass then took up cooking on weekends. I am no expert."

"Oh please!" Stefan said waving his arms in protest. The two of them had slowly moved down the hall as their conversation continued. "You gave up immortality to marry Elena. That is not some small thing!"

"Caroline and you are immortal," Damon shrugged. "So nothing to give up. You are probably set."

"Yeah because the key to marriage to how long you will live," Stefan said sarcastically.

"Well it is certainly a factor," Damon replied.

"Why did I think you'd be the person to ask," Stefan said with a sigh. "I should have gone to see Alaric."

"Don't you steal my drinking buddy," Damon warned.

"I think his wife and kids would disapprove of your name for him," Stefan sniggered.

"Elena will be home soon," Damon said. "Maybe she will have better advice for you about marriage. After all it takes two."

"Marriage," Stefan said with a shake of his head. "I still can't believe my crazy murderous big brother is now a happy domestic housewife."

"What did you just call me!" Damon almost roared.

"Well she works," Stefan said. "And you don't. What should I call you. Househusband?" Sometimes Damon really missed being able to break his brother's back when Stefan pissed him off. His weak human hands were capable of no such thing.

"I hope she says no and leaves you bleeding," Damon growled, narrowing his eyes at his traitorous brother.

"Oh yeah!" Stefan shot back. "And I hope Elena finally realizes her husband is a dead beat!"

"I cook!" Damon yelled back.

"I worked as a chef for ten years," Stefan countered.

"You've worked as everything," Damon dismissed his brother's reply. "In those hiding years and everyone around you during that time tends to end up dead."

"Oh please!" Stefan replied. "It was always your fault! My being there lead you to them. That was my curse! The curse of Damon!"

"What the hell is going on!" Both men stopped yelling at each other to face the new arrival.

"Look who I found walking up to the house," Elena said awkwardly. It was Caroline that had yelled.

"Stop with the brotherly bonding and shut up!" Caroline yelled. If someone had told Damon back when Blondie was nothing more than a blood bag to him, that one day his brother would talk about marrying said blood bag to him, who was both human and married, he would have laughed so hard he wasn't sure he would have every stopped. How things had changed. Damon could tell Stefan loved Caroline, it was written all over his face every time he so much as talked about her. At the moment however Caroline was glaring daggers at Stefan, and looked rather unloving.

"Did you forget!" Caroline told her boyfriend coldly.

"Forget…" Stefan said then his eyes went very wide and he froze.

"I will take that as a yes!" Caroline huffed.

"Oh relax blondie," Damon said. She turned to him, still furious and Damon couldn't resist spilling the beans. "He has a great question to ask you. It will make everything better, promise."

"Oh is that so?" Caroline replied, looking again at Stefan. His brother was now looking at Damon with pure hatred but Damon had no regrets. If they left he wouldn't get to see how this went down and he had to confess he was awfully curious.

"What Damon means," Stefan began. "I mean I was thinking about… was going to…"

"Spit it out Stefan," Caroline said coolly. Damon wondered what important thing Stefan had forgotten. Knowing Blondie it was some carefully scheduled and planned thing of little importance.

"I hadn't planned on doing it like this," Stefan said, turning to glare once again at Damon. "So much of our beginning was bad timing and I wanted at least one thing to go right."

Caroline let out a slow deep breath, then walked the few steps to her boyfriend and took his hands.

"I think we've had all the bad timing we're gonna have," Caroline told him gently. "Just tell me."

"I want to marry you," Stefan said, placing his hand on her cheek as he did so. Damon was reminded of the moment during Alaric's wedding when he told Elena he wanted a human life with her. He smiled. He was glad his brother was happy but he was thrilled he'd managed to arrange to witness the proposal. Diabolical genius minus super strength had to be used for something right?

"And you told Damon first!" Caroline said sharply breaking the silence that had followed Stefan's words. His brother's face broke into a smile but he didn't say anything. Damon took a half step closer to his own wife and put an arm around her, sharing a smile with her.

"Actually Stefan just came for advice," Damon told Caroline. "Since I am a married man it seems this qualifies me in some way." He laughed at the silly notion.

"Caroline," Stefan said turning her gently to look at him and clearly not worried about the people around them. Damon squeezed Elena beside him, the content glowing feeling in his chest purring happily with the love of his life next to him.

"Sorry," Caroline said with a shake of her head. Then she smiled and threw her arms around Stefan. "Of course I'll marry you."

"Really?" Stefan asked clearly relieved.

"Oh course stupid!" Caroline almost yelled before kissing him very passionately. In fact Damon was starting to wish he didn't have a front row seat.

"Oh get a room," Damon said dismissively. Blondie detached herself from Stefan to glare daggers at Damon.

"Says the man I have seen naked too many times because he doesn't know how to save it for his own bedroom," Caroline accused him.

"There is no such thing as too many times," Damon replied. "Greatness shouldn't be covered up."

"I will remind you of this conversation when you are old and ugly," Caroline yelled at him.

"Old yes," Damon said. "Ugly never." If looks could kill Damon would be long gone but he knew Caroline would never lay a finger on him so long as his life was linked to Elena's happiness.

"Caroline," Elena said gently. "Congratulations!" Elena moved away from him and hugged her friend.

"Thanks!" Caroline said grinning. There was silence in the room for a moment while the two women held each other. Damon was sure Caroline was extending the hug just to piss him off but he wasn't going to fall for it. Elena was his as soon as Blondie left. Besides Elena loved spending time with Caroline and Damon wanted nothing but her happiness.

"Do you hear that?" Caroline asked as she and Elena broke their hug.

"Hear what?" Elena asked.

"Yes please do explain it to those of us who lack super hearing," Damon said annoyed. Damon wasn't powerful any more but did people really have to rub it in his face all the time?

"It's a flutter," Caroline said.

"Maybe you are hearing the heart beats of mice," Damon suggested then after a moment he added. "Maybe I need to call an exterminator."

"Everyone shut up!" Caroline said firmly. She slowly moved around the room as if listening for the source of the noise. In a moment she settled for Elena.

"It's you," Caroline said in awe. "You have two heartbeats."

Chapter Text

"What do you mean?" Elena asked but Damon knew exactly but Caroline meant. He had been a vampire long enough to encounter a pregnant woman and knew a vampire could hear a fetal heartbeat.

"You're pregnant," Damon said awestruck. The doctors had said it wasn't impossible after all. They had just said it was highly unlikely. Caroline and Elena were suddenly talking monthly hormone cycles, periods and nausea but Damon tuned them out. Despite how long he'd hoped and wished for this he was freaking out. He'd already accepted this wouldn't be part of his ending but now suddenly he was wrong. And how could Elena not know if there was already a heartbeat? What if that meant something was wrong? Damon had an irrational desire to put Elena behind him and shield her from the world while at the same time he wanted to run up the stairs and hide. He did neither but stood perfectly still.

"You just need to go to the doctor and find out," Caroline was saying when Damon tuned back into the conversation.

"Right," Elena said and she got out her phone and dialed. Damon listened to Elena talk to her doctor about her cycle and time of the month without really taking it in. Could this be real? Was this really happening? Did he actually get to have a biological child with the love of his life? Damon remembered the day he'd come to Elena and told her with all his heart that he wanted to be the father of her children. He'd had complete faith on that day that he'd be able to do it but now with the reality on his doorstep, all Damon could think about was how horrible his own father had been.

Elena got off the phone and said she had an appointment for the next day with her doctor. Caroline and Elena talked while Damon and Stefan watched silently. Damon was glad his brother was here. Elena was so happy when their friends left that Damon couldn't help but smile with her.

The next day Damon stood beside Elena, who was laying on a cold metal table at the doctor's office. When the doctor put clear gel on Elena's stomach and showed them a tiny grey jelly bean with a heart beat on the screen it Damon couldn't help but stare in awe. They'd actually done it. He'd always said vampires couldn't procreate but they love to try. It seemed that no longer applied to former vampires. He held his wife's hand firmly as they gazed at their own little jelly bean together.

"I am going to cut my hours at work," Elena said on the drive home from the doctors. "The doctor said it was a high risk pregnancy and I don't want to jinx it."

"Why not just take some time off?" Damon said.

"Well I will need that time off for when the baby comes," Elena said hurriedly. "Oh we should work on a nursery."

"Breathe, Elena," Damon told her calmly. "I don't care how much time you take off. You know I have money from my vampire days. Don't worry about work. Just focus on not stressing out."

"Right," Elena said. She took a few deep breaths as Damon parked in their driveway. When the car stopped Elena turned to beam at him. "Can you believe it?"

"Almost," Damon laughed. He reached out, placed his hands over her smooth flat stomach and wondered how long it would be until she started to show. As he looked back up at her face she was smiling. She kissed him sweetly before leaving the car. Damon followed her into the house.

"What was that for?" Damon asked her. She turned to beam at him.

"For being wonderful," Elena said. Damon pulled her in and kissed her, his hand once again moving over her stomach. The whole concept of a person inside her that was a part of him, thrilled Damon.

"For you Elena," Damon whispered. "I will be as saintly as a serial killer can be." She laughed, seemingly unable to be annoyed at him for even crude jokes.

"We aren't telling people yet, understand," Elena said. "Not till the end of the first trimester."

"Understood," Damon replied then added seductively. "You up for some practice at conceiving our second kid?" She just rolled her eyes at him.

Over the next few weeks Damon couldn't help but watch Elena. Every time she touched her stomach he wondered if she could feel their child move, even though all the silly baby books he'd read told him this early that wasn't possible.

One morning, after making her breakfast, Damon had placed his hand on her lower back and kissed her. This was by no means an abnormal event but as he felt her body press closer to him and her hands under his shirt he realized his gentle greeting had been quite something else too her. They'd had sex right there on the kitchen floor and it seemed to Damon that her climax this time had been something more than normal. A rather similar thing happened the next morning when Damon woke up to find Elena's fingers gently running over the muscles on his arms and chest. He'd kissed her good morning and she'd jumped on top of him, deepening the kiss and moving it forward. Damon put two and two together quickly after that. A pregnant Elena was a horny Elena.

At their next doctor's appointment Elena asked their doctor if increased libido was normal. He'd said yes, and also to enjoy it while it lasted. Damon soon found himself attacked in every room in the house, not that he was complaining. Elena's breasts also got bigger and more sensitive. Picking up on this Damon gave them more attention.

This wonderful phenomenon only lasted a few weeks however. Soon Elena was repelled by his touch and puking every morning.

"Pregnancy is bipolar," Damon told his wife. He was holding her hair back and rubbing her spine as she heaved over the toilet. "I mean you'd think food was important for growing jelly beans. Why'd it make you throw up?"

"No idea," Elena said as she got up from the floor, and went to the sink to wash out her mouth. "But the books and the doctors agree that it's normal."

It wasn't until the puking ended that he finally noticed the swell of his wife's usually flat stomach. Her breasts had remained their larger size and Damon rather loved the change, not that he'd had a problem with Elena's breasts before. The pregnancy in general seemed to be enhancing Elena's natural radiance.

"You are beautiful when you are growing a tiny human," Damon told her one evening as they sat on the couch together. He had a hand on her slightly swollen stomach and he was looking right in her eyes. "There is a glow about you."

"Thanks," Elena said.

The next day they went to the doctor together for the appointment that would tell them if they were having a boy or a girl. At this point Damon just wanted a healthy baby, the gender hardly mattered. What he was most excited about was that Elena had finally agreed to start telling people once they knew for sure what they were having. She still wasn't showing enough for anyone to figure it out, especially since she basically worked in giant blue pyjamas, though she called them scrubs.

Damon watched the doctor place the cold gel on his wife's slightly distended abdomen and bring up the black and white image of his child. The technician pointed out the baby to them then told them the gender.

"A girl," Elena repeated softly.

"Yes," the technician confirmed.

That night they invited everyone over to their place and shared their good news. It was then that they learned that Caroline and Stefan had rather failed to keep their mouths shut. There were guilty looks from everyone, apart from Enzo. Apparently Bonnie had failed to fill him in and, after he had congratulated Damon and made it crystal clear he had absolutely no interest in being Godfather, he spent the rest of the evening glaring at his girlfriend. As Elena tried to glare at Caroline her face split into a smile and she throw her hands in the air, exclaiming that she didn't care because she was having a beautiful baby girl. Everyone laughed and the evening turned out to be a great get together with friends who already knew everything they shouldn't.

As his guests were leaving Damon snuck away to call the only friend of his who hadn't been able to come tonight. To his great disappointment Alaric already knew.

"Okay, who told you?" Damon said grumpily.

"I do still talk to Elena regularly," Alaric reminded him.

"Oh that little sneak!" Damon replied. "She said we weren't telling people. I have been so good and there she goes blabbing." Alaric laughed, loudly in Damon's ear.

"Who's on the phone?" his wife asked coming back into the room after saying farewell to their final guest.

"You told Rick!" Damon accused her.

"Sorry," Elena said half heartedly.

"I knew I should have told Enzo," Damon grumbled.

Chapter Text

Damon stood on his front door and exhaled slowly. His wife had just yelled him out of the house. He knew it was her hormones going crazy, but he was still having a hard time trying to remember that. Elena was so cranky now she was entering her third trimester. She was getting huge and had stopped going into work altogether. This combined with her discomfort and constant need to pee seemed to be making her cranky. Very cranky.

Damon got in his car and drove. He wasn't even sure where he was going until he was suddenly at his old place, the boarding house. Stefan and Caroline lived here now. Let himself in thinking about how familiar it still was to him, that is until Damon walked over to where he'd once kept the bourbon and found a flower arrangement instead.

"Just when I needed a drink too," Damon whined as he flicked his finger at the offended plant.

"Don't touch that!" Caroline's voice moved almost as fast as she did to rescue the flowers.

"Where's Stefan?" Damon asked his future sister-in-law.

"Upstairs," Caroline said with a dismissive hand wave. Blondie clearly did not want him messing with her flowers.

"How's the June wedding coming along?" Damon smirked.

"It was coming along fine before you showed up," Caroline scoffed.

"Later," Damon called to her as he walked past her toward the stairs. The dark wood of the steps looked just like it always had. Damon was aware that he was a little sentimental about this house. There was no way he was gonna be telling anyone else. Damon found his brother upstairs, reading a book like the boring goody two shoes vampire that he was. Damon smiled; he was glad that hadn't changed.

"Hey," Damon said and Stefan looked up.

"Damon," Stefan said, surprised. "What are you doing here?"

"Can't a brother just say hi sometimes?" Damon asked, sinking casually into a chair across from Stefan.

"No," Stefan said. "Not when said brother has a pregnant wife at home."

"Spoilsport," Damon grumbled. Stefan set his book down and turned to glare at him.

"Ungrateful fool," Stefan replied coldly.

"She is driving me crazy," Damon whined.

"And you are lucky to have the opportunity to be driven crazy by her," Stefan told him firmly. "To be human with her. To have kids with her."

"I know I know," Damon sighed. "I love her so much! I'd walk through hell for her but I also want to ring her neck." Stefan chuckled. He seemed to have given up the righteous act.

"Don't laugh!" Damon quipped. "It's confusing!"

"I bet," Stefan was still laughing.

"Oh look I'm Stefan," Damon mocked. "My life is perfect."

"So is yours, you idiot," Stefan replied leaning forward and smacking Damon on the back of his head.

"Ow!" Damon complained. "Okay that really hurt."

"Wuss," Stefan said.

"Human skull," Damon reminded his brother pointing at his own head.

"Sissy brother," Stefan corrected.

"Oh whatever!" Damon dismissed. He stood up. "If I wanted to be verbally abused I would have stayed home!" He made to leave without actually intending on leaving.

"Wait," Stefan sighed. Damon grinned. Worked like a charm. He wiped the grin off his face before turning around and sitting back down.

"What did you really come here to talk about Damon?" Stefan asked.

"I'm scared," Damon confessed.

"Of being a parent?" Stefan asked, trying not to laugh. "Or of your wife?"

"Oh shut up!" Damon said.

"Sorry!" Stefan said, trying to sober. "Sorry. I am really listening now."

With a sigh Damon sat down and finally confessed, "I am scared I will lose them. My wife, the daughter I haven't even met. My whole world is depending on Elena's heart continuing to beat."

"Hasn't that been the case since even before you stole her away from me," Stefan replied laughing again. When did he become the serious brooding brother and Stefan become the cheeky one?

"Yes," Damon said. "But this is different. I can't stop thinking about Zach."

"Oh," Stefan said sobering for real this time. They both knew the story. Zach Salvatore had been one of their indirect descendants and Damon had killed Zach's pregnant wife right in front of him.

"I can imagine only too well now what that did to him," Damon said. "Why didn't he kill me when I returned?"

"I wiped his memory," Stefan said. "He forgot what he lost."

"That makes sense," Damon said. A horrible thought occurred to him. A thought even worse than the anxieties that had brought him to confess his fears to his brother.

"No matter what happens," Damon said with perfect certainly, looking Stefan right in the eyes. "You are never allowed to do that to me. I would rather die than give up my memories of her. Understand?" Stefan nodded. "Say it! Say you understand."

"I understand," Stefan said.

"Now swear," he added. Why had this not occurred to him before. Stefan would so totally do this if Elena died in a car accident tomorrow. The stupid do-gooder thought he could fix everything!

"I swear to," Stefan said.

"To…?" Damon encouraged.

"Never wipe your memory," Stefan finished.

"Good," Damon replied curtly.

"Are you done?" Stefan asked.

"I think so yes," Damon grinned.

"You are insane," Stefan said. "You know that, right?"

"Insane enough to steal Elena from you," Damon said with a wink. Stefan just rolled his eyes. "So how's the wedding planning going?"

"Great," Stefan said. "Though I can't claim to be doing any of the work."

"As I suspected," Damon laughed.

"I do seem to be fitting the bill though," Stefan continued.

"Your best bet is to just show up when they tell you to," Damon replied. "It worked for me."

"Caroline did plan quite a bit of your wedding too, didn't she?" Stefan said thoughtfully.

"She and Elena mostly, yep" Damon replied.

"Damon," Stefan said his tone suddenly serious. "It's been a long time since Zach and everything has changed. I never told you before because I was trying to keep her safe, but I saved the baby."

"What baby?" Damon asked.

"Zach's daughter lives," Stefan said. "Her name is Sarah Nelson. She studied art and now works as a photographer."

"Wow," Damon said, stunned. This, he thought, rather summed up him and his brother. Damon did something terrible and Stefan somehow found a way to lessen the blow.

"Things have been so quiet since Alaric's wedding," Stefan said. "Nothing horrible has tried to kill us in a long while. Mom is still in Europe somewhere probably trying to get her friends out of that prison world." He paused. "And with Klaus's sire bond broken we all don't have to worry about suddenly dying if he's killed. Sarah has never been safer and I probably should have told you sooner."

"It's okay," Damon said. "I know why you didn't. Thank you for telling me now and for saving her."

"You are welcome," Stefan replied. "Though I have to admit, never in my wildest dreams did I ever picture you thanking me for that one day."

"We lead strange lives," Damon stated.

"Don't we ever!" Stefan laughed.

"So what's weighing on your mind, little bro?" Damon said with as much sass as he could.

"Please don't call me that," Stefan sighed but then answered, "Not much. Life hasn't been this good in a long, long time, maybe forever. I am about to marry the woman I love. My brother is going to give me a niece and all's right with the world."

Damon smiled. He was glad his brother was happy. He knew that with Caroline as his constant companion Stefan's chances of going ripper again were slim to none. She was his anchor and his source of reason, and Damon had to be grateful to her for that. Caroline was perfect for Stefan in every way and Damon was glad his brother had someone he could rely on long after Damon was gone. Being mortal made one think of such things.

"Caroline wants something," Stefan said a little while later.

"I miss super hearing," Damon sighed. Stefan got up and headed down the stairs, Damon following behind him.

"Oh good you're both here," Caroline said. She turned to Stefan first. "So how many of our guests know about vampires or are one? Because I was thinking blood would be a great theme for a wedding cake! Oh, and I need you to come with me and try some." She grabbed Stefan by the hand and was leading him off when she suddenly remembered Damon.

"Oh and Damon," she yelled at him over her shoulder. "Elena called. Go home."

With a sigh Damon turned and headed for the door. He had been planning to go home anyway it was true but knowing that Elena had called Caroline made him feel guilty for leaving her.

When he arrived home he found Elena on the couch, wrapped in blankets and eating take out with the container balanced precariously on her baby bump. The TV was on and she seemed to be watching a corny movie. When she heard him enter, she turned and Damon saw tears running down her face. Damon felt even more guilty. He slowly come up behind her and kissed the top of her head.

"I'm sorry," Elena whined.

"I know," Damon replied. "I'm sorry too." He walked around the couch and sat down beside her. She lay her head against his shoulder. Damon placed his hand on her belly so he would feel his daughter kick if she chose to do so. Damon loved feeling the small pressure of her foot against his hand. It was like nothing else. There was a person in there and he couldn't wait to meet her.

Chapter Text

When they had both been vampires Damon had dug wooden slivers out of his wife's chest but her screams during childbirth represented a different kind of pain. This pain was both partially his fault and the meant the arrival of their long awaited joy.

Elena was laying on a hospital bed with her legs in stirrups. Damon stood by the bed, holding her hand. Either childbirth made woman stronger or Elena had never truly tried to crush his hand before now. Damon's hand hurt quite a lot actually, but Damon didn't make a sound. He'd dug bullets out of his own chest before; this was nothing. Though his human nerves seemed to disagree with him.

The nurse encouraged Elena to push just once more and Elena complied with a scream any vampire could hear for miles and Damon knew the two vampires down the hall in the waiting room could most definitely hear. Those vampires being Stefan, Caroline and Enzo. Then Elena relaxed, leaning back against him, and Damon heard the best sound in his world, his daughter's first cries.

"Give her to me," Elena said reaching forward with her arms and the nurse handed over the small screaming pink baby covered in goop who was beautiful despite the goop. The umbilical cord as still attached. A nurse came over and used some kind of suction device on the baby's nose and mouth. Damon remembered from his research that it was to clear her airways. Then they cut the cord and wrapped the baby in a blanket before handing her back to Elena.

"Have you chosen a name yet?" the nurse asked.

"Jenna," Elena said. Her eyes were fixed on their daughter's face. "Jenna Miranda Salvatore." They had decided on this name months ago. Miranda had been Elena's adopted mother and Jenna her aunt who had taken over raising Elena after her parents' deaths. Damon was glad Elena hadn't suggested Isobel, as not only had that woman abandoned Elena but Damon didn't need the reminder that he'd once slept with her and then turned her into a vampire. Damon had agreed to Jenna right away when Elena had suggested it for a first name. Damon remembered Jenna with fondness. She had called him 'ridiculously hot' once. That was a woman with good taste. Damon would never had wanted a child without Elena and felt it fitting that they named their daughter after Elena's side of the family. Damon had no love for his mother and didn't fancy calling his daughter Lily and being reminded of that woman every day.

"Beautiful name," the nurse said.

"It was my aunt's name," Elena explained. The nurse smiled at them but didn't inquire about the past tense of Elena's phrase. Damon supposed in a job like that the nurse was used to not prying.

The nurse left saying she'd be back to check in on them later. Damon stared down at his daughter and marveled had how such a thing was possible. The small pink person in his wife's arms was a part of him. She existed because of his love for Elena and her love for him.

"Can I hold her?" Damon asked. He needed to ask; though he knew she was his, he felt unworthy of her. She was small and delicate and he was known for ruining anything he touched. Elena didn't believe this however. She looked up at him with trust and love and placed his daughter in his arms.

Damon held the small pink bundle in his arms and had no words to describe how he was feeling. He had been expecting the birth of his daughter to bring Elena joy and knew that would make him happy. He had expected a sense of completeness in their relationship when his child was born. He had expecting all kinds of happiness, exactly the kind he was currently experiencing. An overwhelming need to protect Jenna rose up inside Damon. It shocked him. He knew he would stand between her and any threat, no matter what. Damon was a selfish person; he had long ago accepted that but in this moment he knew there was nothing more important than his daughter's life. Damon never thought there would be a life in this world he valued above Elena's but somehow now there was.

Her eyes were closed and she lay peacefully in his arms, as delicate as blow glass.

"Hi Jenna," Damon whispered to her, moving her slightly side to side as he had seen Elena doing. "It's nice to meet you."

"I miss her," Elena whined holding out her arms. Damon placed Jenna back into her mother's arms but he felt an emptiness where his daughter had been. Unwilling to just stand beside them, Damon asked Elena sit up and sat behind her with her arms around both his wife and his daughter. He wasn't sure how long they remained like that, just sitting together on the bed gazing down at their daughter. She opened her eye and stared up at them, rather more alert than Damon had expected.

"She's perfect," Elena said.

"Perfectly hungry," Damon whispered into his wife's ear. Jenna was indeed opening her mouth. From his angle behind her he then loosed the blanket around his daughter so she could stretch her little hands. Jenna reached out then started to suck on her thumb.

"See," Damon said smug. "She's hungry."

"You did read the books," Elena said with a smile. Since Elena's hands were occupied holding Jenna, Damon pulled down the loose hospital gown Elena was wearing. Elena had Jenna resting on her chest. Jenna took her thumb out of her mouth and reached toward her mother's breast. Elena moved Jenna over toward her first meal. Damon was prepared to use his hands to help but Jenna didn't seem to need it. She latched on and started sucking, her hand positioned near her head as he wanting to hold Elena still while she ate. Damon rested his hand on top of Elena's where it held Jenna's back and the two of them watched their daughter. The only sound in the room was the gentle sucking as Jenna drank. Damon found himself spellbound but her every move. He had always been an easily bored person but there was nothing boring about his daughter. She moved her head a half inch while feeding and Damon smiled. Her little fingers tried to grasp and Damon lifted his hands to place his pinky finger next to her whole hand. She grasped his finger as she continued to drink; Damon felt his heart melt.

This little girl already had him wrapped around her tiny fingers and she was less than an hour old. Oh, he was doomed.

When Jenna was finished eating she fell asleep on her mother's chest. Damon stroked his daughter's head so gently he barely touched her.

"You guys can come in now," Damon said softly knowing the vampires down the hall could hear him. A few moments later the door opened to reveal the friends that made up their family.

Stefan and Caroline were in the lead, of course, probably a little too excited to remember to walk slowly, but Damon could see Bonnie, Enzo and Alaric behind them. Rick hadn't just flown in for this one day, oh no. He had shown up on their doorstep a few weeks before Elena's due date, with his daughters and wife, and announced they were moving back. Apparently it had been a sufficient length of time without a major disaster for Jo to finally allow it. Damon had been thrilled! No more long flights to see his friend and his daughter would be able to know Alaric's kids.

"Oh can I hold her!" Caroline chirped almost vibrating with excitement. Damon gave her a dubious look.

"Not like that you can't," Damon said.

"What are you doing on the bed Damon?" Stefan asked.

"I am supposed to be here," Damon told his brother.

"No," Stefan said pointing to Elena. "She is."

"And how many baby books did you read, brother?" Damon asked accusingly.

Stefan sighed. "All those opportunities over the years to just let you die but no I had to save you," he grumbled. "Every freaking time."

"Oh please," Damon replied. "Like I didn't save your life just as many times."

"Nope I am sure I had to save your ass way more," Stefan added.

"Plus Stefan never has never abandon his friends to rot in prison and be tortured for decades," Enzo piped in.

"Hey I had to turn my emotions off to do that," Damon countered. "That counts for something."

Damon thought he heard Enzo mention the time he turned his emotions off but at this point the bickering was hard to follow. It didn't last long however. Suddenly the room was silent. Damon tried to speak but couldn't. He looked to Bonnie. She was holding her hands in the air, a slight white glow around them. Damon rolled his eyes. So Bonnie had a muting spell, fantastic.

"Boys," Bonnie said in a stern voice. "Not the time." She looked to them all for a moment then lowered her hands and lifted the spell. The room remained silent however as Caroline approached the bed, calmer this time, and Elena placed Jenna in her arms. Stefan stood beside Caroline looking over her shoulder at the baby. Enzo followed Bonnie like a shadow, and the pair of them and Alaric crowded around as well.

Elena closed her eyes and laid back against Damon's chest, clearly exhausted and choosing to trust the people around her. Damon put his arms around his wife and felt her even breathing against him. Damon didn't close his eyes but watched as his daughter was passed around and admired. Caroline handed Jenna off to her fiancé first. Stefan held his niece, with a brilliant smile on his face. Bonnie cooed at Jenna and called her the most precious thing in the world, Enzo standing over her shoulder looking down at Jenna affectionately as well. When Alaric held her, Damon saw the same look one his face what Elena's had on hers when they'd chosen her name.

"Hello little Jenna," Alaric spoke softly to the baby. "One day your mom and I will tell you about big Jenna. You would have liked her." Rick looked up at them, his eyes glassy.

"Time to return to mommy I think," Damon said after a moment. Elena was indeed awake again, having only dozed off against Damon's chest for a few minutes. Alaric handed Jenna to Elena and everyone gathered around the bed. Light conversation broke out but it always gave way as people returned to staring at the baby.

Damon wasn't sure how long they remained in that hospital room. It was a happy bubble of friends and love and a part of him never wanted to leave but Alaric had to eventually get back to Jo and the twins. Caroline dragged Stefan away for a wedding thing of some sort; Damon hadn't been paying attention when Blondie had said why they were leaving.

"I'm so happy for you guys," Bonnie said to Elena as she and Enzo prepared to leave. "Oh and if Damon gets out of line just let me know and I'll hex him."

"Bonnie," Elena laughed at her friend's antics.

"No seriously," Bonnie said. "Damon being responsible around kids is new territory."

"We will be fine," Elena told her friend. Damon made a mental note to never complain about anything parent related to Bonnie and put Rick on his speed dial.

"If you say so," Bonnie replied but she smiled and hugged her best friend before leading with Enzo.

Their friends visited a few times over the next few days but it was mostly just Damon, Elena and Jenna. When it came time to go home, a woman in blue scrubs arrived to discharged them. Together Damon and Elena walked out of the hospital, Jenna in her mother's arms. Though Damon knew this was supposed to happen, part of him felt surprised they were letting him leave the hospital with a baby. Him, Damon Salvatore, with custody of an infant. Okay, maybe Bonnie had a point.

But then Elena looked up at him with love and trust like she always did and Damon remembered that, as long as he had Elena, he could do anything.

Chapter Text

Damon was looking down at his daughter's smile. Everything else around him felt hazy and out of focus, except for the bottle in his hand and the girl in his arms. Maybe she was hungry but when Damon went to feed her she looked at him sternly and spoke clearly.

"That's not right," Jenna said. Damon knew she shouldn't be talking but found himself oddly unconcerned by her speech. What did worry him was what she'd said.

"How am I supposed I do it right?" Damon asked her. He wasn't sure if he was talking about feeding her, or whether his question had a more general meaning.

"Don't be stupid daddy," Jenna told him. "You know how."

Then the adult like intelligence of his daughter vanished as she opened her mouth and screamed at the top of her lungs. Damon's sense of reality shattered and he woke from the dream to the sounds of his daughter's cries. Damon shook his head, trying to clear it. He turned and saw Elena still sleeping. Hoping not to wake her, Damon got up and headed to his daughter's room. The nursery was next to the master bedroom so it didn't take Damon long to reach her. Scooping his screaming daughter into his arms Damon went to sit in the rocking chair next to her crib.

"What's wrong, my perfect girl," Damon cooed softly. Jenna wasn't crying loudly anymore but she was still upset, her eyes shining with unshed tears.

"Would you like to hear a story?" Damon asked softly. "It's my favourite story. Do you wanna know why?" She smiled at him. "I shall take that as a yes. It's my favourite story because, Jenna, it's your story." Damon settled into an even rocking motion with Jenna in his lap before he began.

"There once was a mean vampire," Damon said in rather too sweet a voice for the topic. "Though he wasn't quite as mean as he led people to believe. See he was waiting for the woman he loved, and he waited a long time Jenna. A very, very long time. In retrospect he should have given up way earlier since she was secretly the villain of his story. The vampire was sad when he finally learned of her betrayal and turned to his friends. Much to the vampire's surprise the real love of his life was actually among those friends but the vampire wasn't allowed to love her because she was his brother's girl."

"Do you like the story Jenna?" Damon cooed. "Though I seem to have gotten off topic. Is daddy's story good too?" She giggled and Damon leaned down to blow a raspberry on her belly.

"But then Jenna, the girl changed and the mean vampire had to confess he was happy his girl was a vampire too at least at first. The problem was that everyone thought her being a sired vampire was the only reason she now wanted the mean vampire instead of his brother. They didn't know that the girl had actually met the mean vampire before she met his ripper brother," Damon added in a high happy voice. Jenna loved it when he did the voices.

"And suddenly the mean vampire found himself holding the cure," Damon continued. "And he was told to use it to get the girl. But the silly girl gave it to his brother." Damon rolled his eyes and Jenna reached up with her arms and cried out. "I know!" Damon agreed. "What a silly girl she is huh? But as it turned out the vampire didn't need the cure to get the girl. She loved him anyway." Damon grinned remembering that moment when Elena, wearing that simple little white dress, had told Damon she wasn't sorry that she was in love with him. It had been the first time she'd done so without the sire bond. Remembering that moment always made him smile.

"I would say that the two vampires lived happily ever after," Damon continued his story as he rocked Jenna gently. "But that wasn't the case. The mean vampire wasn't so great at being good enough for his girl no matter how much he wanted to be. And the people he cared about kept dying on him!" Jenna made a noise somewhere between a laugh and a gurgle. "Yes, you are right. It was very rude of them." Damon lifted his daughter up and received an adorable giggled for his trouble.

"The mean vampire had to save his brother and his friends," Damon continued. "He wanted to prove he could be a hero too and therefore worthy of his girl's love. Though she didn't know how to not love him so really this was all in his head and rather a terrible idea but where was I. Oh yes so the mean vampire died a hero's death but don't be sad because it turns out dying was just code for stuck in a prison world with auntie Bonnie."

Damon raised his knees up so Jenna was closer to his face. "If it hadn't been for auntie Bon Bon the vampire would have totally lost his mind from seer boredom, yes he would," Damon said in baby talk, marveling for a moment at how baby talk had become a daily part of his life. "And thanks to Bon Bon the mean vampire got home to his girl."

"But when the vampire got home his girl didn't remember who he was," Damon began again. "She'd given up her memories of him. Isn't that horrible, Jenna?" Jenna stared at him, unmoving as if determined not to nod. "Are you messing with me?" She giggled and Damon took that as a yes.

"You are going to be a sneaky one aren't you?" Damon whispered to her. "Inherited daddy's diabolical genius huh?" She smiled and Damon felt a similar smile break out across his own face as well.

"So do you want to hear the end of the story?" Damon asked her. Again she didn't move. "This is going to be so much easier when you start talking, my little one. But Daddy wants to finish the story. So, where was I? Yes, the mean vampire was determined to make his girl fall in love with him again! Plus he had to rescue the annoying girl who became his friend."

"Now Jenna," Damon said seriously. "You will never guess what happened next." Damon scrunched up his eyes and rocked them both sideways while his daughter giggling. "Bonnie had found the incredibly rare vampire cure in the other world and guess what she did with it!" He paused for Jenna to wiggle. "Yes that's right she gave it to the mean vampire. Of all the vampires in the world who had fought for this cure, how is it the one guy who never wanted it got it handed to him twice? No strings attached just handed it over like 'here, picked this up at the supermarket for ya'. I would like to speak to someone about that because it just seems ridiculous don't you think?" Jenna giggled. She was all smiles now, tantrum long forgotten.

"This time the vampire thought the cure would cost him the girl rather than help him keep her and the vampire was scared," Damon said, trying to do a scary baby voice. "Because if he gave his girl the cure and she used it he'd lose her. Maybe not today or tomorrow but eventually. Now the idiotic vampire should have done it himself but instead, someone else thinking it would hurt him, showed the cure to his girl. In that moment the vampire realized what he really wanted. He didn't need to be a vampire so long as he had his girl. They took the cure together and that my angel is how you came to exist." She reached up for him and he lifted her up and placed her on his shoulder, her little arms wrapping around his neck.

"See I told you it was your story," Damon said to his daughter as he rubbed her back gently. "Are you ready to go to sleep now my little angel?"

Damon stood up, still stroking her back, and walked around the room until Jenna's breathing evened out. Once she was asleep Damon placed her back in her crib and returned to the arms of his sleeping wife

Chapter Text

Damon could feel the cold hard surface of the bar stool beneath him. His head was resting on his arms, blocking out all the light from the room in the hopes that it would make him feel better. No such luck. Sliding his elbows along the bar top, Damon let his head hit the hard wooden surface. The slight pain of his forehead impacting the table did nothing to lessen the massive migraine that was making his head pound. Jenna had been screaming constantly for days now. Elena said she was teething but Damon was starting to wonder if she was part banshee. He wasn't sure what sleep or silence felt like anymore. Damon banged his head down on the bar again, hoping the new pain would dull the old.

"Take it easy man," the voice of the bartender interrupted Damon's attempts to bruise his forehead. "You're gonna damage my bar."

"You know," Damon said, looking at the bartender now, and gesturing to her with his pointer finger. "There was a time that I could have ripped this bar apart with just my bare hands."

"Sure buddy," the bartender replied, dismissively.

"No really," Damon continued. "I once had the power." He paused, tilting his head thoughtfully. "Though I don't think in all my years I ever took apart a bar." Damon started counting on his fingers as he added, "Took apart houses, cars, people, probably a much of other stuff I'm forgetting… I was good at destroying thing… but never a bar."

"I am cutting you off," the bartender said. Damon blinked a few times as he registered the person before him. The bartender was a not unattractive woman, probably in her mid-thirties. She was no great beauty but there was a kindness about her eyes.

"Oh no my friend," Damon told her seriously. "This isn't 'I drank too much bourbon and need to get a cab drunk, this is sleep deprivation drunk. And trust me as a guy who has known his fair share of the first kinda drunk I can tell you that this kinda drunk is way worse. Have you ever heard of teething?"

"Teething?" the bartender replied skeptically.

"Yes," Damon said sitting up and trying to keep his eyes open. "See when teeth erupt from the gums it hurts a lot and when you are only seven months old you have no idea why it hurts, so your only solution is to scream like a banshee until your parents ears fall off."

"You are the strangest person I've ever met," the bartender told him.

"Tell me about it," Damon sighed as he rested his head on the bar again. The hustle and bustle of the other people in the bar suddenly sounded like a lullaby and Damon's head felt so heavy. His eyes were already closed after all. What was the harm really in not sitting up? Damon jerked awake as he heard a loud crash. His head snapped up so fast he instantly felt dizzy.

"What happened?" Damon mumbled.

"Some new hire broke a bunch of glasses," the bartender's voice replied. "Were you sleeping?"

"Probably," Damon mumbled as he went to lay his head down and get back to his nap.

"Why are you here?" the bartender asked. Damon looked up at her, confused. Why was he here? His sleep deprived brain had been playing tricks on him for days now and Damon wasn't even sure how long he'd been here, let alone why he was here.

"No idea," Damon replied. Maybe I'm feeling nostalgic. It's been a long time since I was in a bar."

"Go home and get some sleep," the bartender instructed.

"Urgh," Damon groaned. "Screaming baby."

"I thought a saw a wedding ring," the bartender observed. "Does that mean you stuck her with the kid?"

"Bon Bon babysit," Damon replied, too tired to care if she understood that or not. Damon wasn't sure how she got there but suddenly the bartender was standing beside him and hoisting him up.

"You need to go home," she said.

"Nap first," Damon tried to argue as he went to lay his head on the bar again, but she was having none of it.

"Nap at home," she said as if talking to a child.

"Fine," Damon replied pulling his arm out of her grip. He stood up, almost fell over and then walked blurry eyed out of the bar and down the street.

Damon hadn't walked far from home to reach the bar and soon found himself walking into his house. Bonnie was holding a Jenna still clearly crying but no sound reached Damon's ears. Elena was asleep on the couch, her head in Bonnie's lap. Damon walked over to them, kissed his wife and daughter's forehead in turn.

Jenna had been given soft teething toys to chew on. They'd tried cold foods; they'd tried hot foods. They'd rubbed her gums gently with a soft tooth brush. They'd used numbing gel on her sore gums. They'd offered Jenna distractions. They'd tried rocking her. They'd tried driving around the block with her. They'd tried everything until Elena had called Bonnie in hysterics; it was wiches to the rescue and Damon would never again be anything but grateful that Bonnie knew a muting spell.

In the bliss of Bonnie's silence spell Damon fell asleep in the chair across from his family. Damon woke up feeling tired. He was about to roll over and try to sleep some more when he heard a soft baby noise and opened his eyes to see his daughter smiling. He wanted to jump for joy. Jenna wasn't crying. She was in her mother's arms, Bonnie was gone, and there wasn't a tear on Jenna's face.

"Am I dreaming?" Damon asked in a whisper as he got up to sit beside Elena.

"No," Elena whispered back.

"How?" Damon asked, still not quite sure this wasn't a wonderful dream.

"Her teeth are through the gums," Elena said. "She feels better."

"Hallelujah," Damon exclaimed, quietly, as he kissed Jenna's head. The moments adrenaline spent Damon swayed where he stood. Sleeping on the chair had not felt like sleeping. How could he be more tired now than he'd been before?

"Go get some real sleep," Elena told him. "I got a good nap in earlier when Bonnie was here."

"You sure?" Damon asked.

"Yeah," Elena smiled. "I am going back to work soon. I have to get in my Jenna cuddles while I can."

"Fair enough," Damon agreed as he turned and headed straight for his bed. Damon sank into the soft mattresses and thought that in this moment his bed was the best place on earth. Eight hours of blissful dreamless sleep later Damon felt human again.

Elena went back to work a few months later. It was definitely different but Damon adapted. Jenna wasn't screaming like a banshee anymore and Damon found he rather loved all the one-on-one time with his daughter even if Stefan teased Damon regularly about being a stay at home mom.

"I am a stay at home dad," Damon would explain to his brother every time. "With a maid. Totally different."

Jenna grew so fast Damon couldn't believe it. It felt like one day the shirt he'd bought her fit and the next day it was two inches too small in the arms and legs. He knew this to be completely wrong and an over exaggeration but he couldn't help thinking it. Time was flying by faster than ever before. Damon was glad Elena didn't go back work completely full time like she'd done before. She usually worked about four days a week as Jenna wasn't breastfeeding anymore and perfectly happy to eat real food with Damon during the day.

"Uppy!" Jenna giggled. She was sitting in her high chair with mashed pear all over her face and hands. 'Uppy' was her new favourite word and always meant she wanted to be held. Damon, being incapable of denying her anything, wiped the fruit from her face and hands then scooped her into his arms.

"Dadda," Jenna mumbled as she snuggled in against his neck. Damon rested one of his hands on her back and gently angled his head to be closer to her.

"Yes Jenna," Damon said. "That's me."

"Where Mamma?" Jenna asked.

"At work," Damon told her.

"No," Jenna said.

"That really isn't how it works Jenna," Damon replied.

"No," Jenna said again.

"Are you going to just say no to everything I say?" Damon asked.

"No," Jenna replied. Damon laughed and placed her down on the ground. Jenna stood beside him, looking up at him with big brown eyes, her little hands pulling on his pant leg to get his attention. "No," she said again.

"No what Jenna?" Damon asked. "Telepathy isn't my thing anymore."

"No down," Jenna said and with a sigh Damon picked her up again. Jenna smiled and bopped her father on the nose with her plastic toy block for his trouble.

"What am I going to do with you?" Damon asked with a shake of his head.

"Dadda!" Jenna exclaimed.

"Ah yes I see your very detailed argument there," Damon replied in a mock serious tone totally lost on the two year old. Jenna giggled; the plastic toy block she was holding hit Damon on the side of the head with a little more force this time.

"Ow," Damon complained. "No hitting Jenna."

"No," Jenna answered.

"I am not gonna win here am I?" Damon asked.

"No," Jenna said.

"As I suspected," Damon said with a grin as he shifted her in his arms and began to tickle her ribs. She laughed and wiggled joyfully then Damon tried putting her on the ground once more.

"Uppy!" Jenna said pulling on his pant leg again.

"But Dadda has to clean up your mess," Damon told her pointing to the pear mash all over her high chair. The maid was coming in tomorrow and though Damon couldn't boast being the cleanest person ever he wouldn't leave dried pear mush to dry on for a day. He wasn't that messy.

"Then uppy!" Jenna said firmly, pulling urgently on his clothes again.

"Persistent one today aren't we?" Damon told her as he went for a cloth to clean off the high chair. Once he was sure there was no sticky food left, Damon threw the cloth into the sink for the maid to clean up later and scooped Jenna back into his arms.

"Gotta," Damon told her and she giggled. "Where does Jenna want to go now?" She pointed down the hall and Damon obediently walked in that direction. When she turned to point to her bedroom, Damon complied.

"Pretty!" Jenna said as she pointed to the little dress that was hung up behind the door.

"Yes," Damon told her. "Pretty dress for a pretty Jenna."

"Pretty," Jenna said again then pointed to her own chest.

"That's right," Damon replied. She reached out her arms toward the dress. "Oh no," Damon said taking a step back to make certain the toddled didn't get her hands on the dress. "I know you are just going to destroy it if I let you play with that Jenna, and then Blondie might actually kill me." Jenna turned to face him, pouting. "Don't look at me like that. Talk to auntie Caroline."

"Auntie no mind!" Jenna said, firmly as if she could change reality with just her will.

"Auntie yes mind," Damon told her, bouncing her a little in his arms. "You see Jenna, when you're immortal, and, well, Caroline, your wedding takes so long to plan as to actually mean the two week old fetus, discovered the night of the engagement, gets to be the flower girl at the wedding."

"Pretty!" Jenna said pointing to her dress.

"Yes, it is pretty," Damon sighed. "Caroline at least has good taste. We would have had to have words if she tried to put my beautiful girl in a non-pretty dress." Jenna grinned at him them yawned hugely and laid her head down on his shoulder.

"Nap time," Damon whispered. Jenna knew what this meant and instantly lifted her head up defiantly.

"No," she said.

"But tired girls need their beauty sleep," Damon told her. Jenna shook her said and said no again. Damon knew she was tired, stubborn but definitely tired. "You know being a baby is a lot of work. Needs a lot of sleep."

"No," Jenna said.

"You are always growing and learning," Damon told her as he rubbed her back. "The world is new to you and new is always tiring. It's okay to sleep. Daddy will always be here when you wake up, my angel."

"No," Jenna said again but very softly this time. She was yawning again.

"What story would you like to hear tonight?" Damon asked her. "The mean vampire story?" Jenna shook her head. "Mommy's story?" Jenna shook her head. "How about I tell you the story of your pretty dress?" Jenna nodded.

"There once was a vampire with a mean brother," Damon began. "And even though his brother kept messing things up for him the vampire never gave up on him. Even when his brother stole his girlfriend the vampire remained loyal to the only family he had left. The vampire was lonely once he lost his girl to his brother but he was too clueless to notice his long time friend had feelings for him. The vampire somehow managed to break her heart with his failure to be observant. Auntie Caroline was very sad and didn't want to talk to the vampire anymore. By the time the vampire realized he loved her too, so much had happened. The vampire told her he'd wait until she was ready and one day, when she was, she forgave him. After a few years of being very jealous of his happily married brother the vampire decided he wanted to be just as happy. He proposed to auntie Caroline and that Jenna is how you came to have such a pretty flower girl dress."

Jenna's breathing was very even now; Damon had been rocking her in his arms while his voice filled the room. He had learned early on in this new child care adventure that Jenna liked the sound of his voice. Damon had thought it was silly when Elena had told him to speak to her belly but now he wondered if that was why his daughter was soothed by his stories. Damon gently laid his sleeping daughter in his crib. He sat in the chair near her for a while until he was sure she was asleep then he got up and went to enjoy his one child-free hour of the day.

Chapter Text

In Damon's eyes his daughter was the prettiest girl at the wedding, but he wasn't about to tell his wife that, or the bride for that matter. Caroline turned out to be more of a bridezilla than a bride. Damon hadn't been surprised by this though he had to admit her wedding had been spectacular; from the music to the decorations, everything had been beautiful. He expecting nothing else of Blondie's control freak ways however and it was one hell of a party.

"An hour of marriage," Damon sighed, dramatically. "And already she has left you for another."

"The other being your wife," Stefan scoffed. The two brothers were sitting at one of the small tables surrounding the brightly light dance floor, watching their wives and Bonnie. The girls had ditched them to dance, as they'd put it, like old times.

"Blondie could do worse," Damon laughed. "She picked you after all." Stefan gave him an annoyed look which only spurred Damon on. "You what they say about marriage right? The old ball and chain."

"You dad is annoying," Stefan directed his next statement to Jenna, who was sitting in Damon's lap. His daughter was wearing the most elegant little silver dress, with a green sheen to it. After admiring it for weeks hung behind her door, Jenna had been so excited to finally wear the dress today. She was all smiles.

"No," Jenna told her uncle, grinning.

"That's my girl!" Damon exclaimed, pulling her in for a hug. Stefan groaned and got up from the table to join the girls. Damon watched as his brother broke up their dancing to steal his wife back.

"Why Uncle Sef say you annoying?" Jenna asked as she turned in Damon's lap to look at him.

"Uncle Sef," Damon replied. "Has known daddy a long, long time."

"Why that mean annoying?" she asked again. Jenna was now in that phase where she asked 'why' about everything. Damon was starting to long for the days when she didn't talk back.

"Uncle Sef isn't actually upset with daddy," Damon explained. "He is just being silly."

"Why?" Jenna asked.

"Do you wanna dance with mommy?" Damon said abruptly, changing tactics rather than try and answer the same question over and over again.

"Yeah," Jenna said smiling. She wiggled in his arms until Damon put her down then she ran toward her mother. The little silver shoes she was wearing made a soft click noise against the ground. Damon followed behind Jenna keeping an eye on her as she moved through the crowd with the grace of a toddler in formal clothes.

"Oh hello darling," Elena greeted her daughter as she approached

"Dance mommy!" Jenna said, reaching her hands in the air toward Elena.

"Can daddy join us?" Elena asked. Jenna turned to stare at Damon, who was standing beside her, then turned back to Elena and seemed to think very hard about her answer.

"Okay," she said after a very long silence.

"Love the enthusiasm," Damon said sarcastically. Elena laughed a little at him and shook her head before she scooped Jenna into her arms. Damon took his wife's hand in his and placed his other hand at her waist. Jenna clung to each of them as they began to dance together. Jenna's head rested on her mother's shoulder for a time then she shifted her weight to Damon. They were dancing very close together to make sure Jenna was secure. It wasn't the most graceful dancing ever with a toddler between them but it was wonderful nonetheless. Jenna laughed and clung to them as they moved. Damon caught a glimpse of Stefan and Caroline dancing rather well… too well.

"Did you see Stefan dancing?" Damon whispered to Elena nudging his head in the direction of his brother and sister-in-law carving up the dance floor.

"Caroline somehow got him to take lessons!" Elena whispered back grinning. "And even dance in public for more than a single song."

"I will give Blondie this much," Damon replied. "She might be magic. Or she has him under some form of mind control." Elena laughed and Jenna seemed to decide it was time for a new activity. She turned to smile at Damon then demand to be set down. Once on the ground Jenna bolted, forcing both her parents to follow her. As Damon weaved through guests in pursuit of his daughter he noticed just how many supernatural creatures were here tonight: vampires, hybrids, humans, witches. Damon thought, as he ran past a group near the window, that he spotted the original vampires. There was a blast from the past, but Damon barely had time to notice them before Jenna stopped abrupting right in front of the buffet table and immediately began to pull on the table cloth, most likely in an attempt to make the food come to her.

"No Jenna," Damon said urgently as he gently pulled his daughter's hands away before every dish on the table fell to the floor. Jenna's eyes shut tight, her face went slightly red and she was opening her mouth to cry when Damon scooped her up into his arms and placed her on his shoulders.

"Does Jenna like this more?" Damon asked her. "Now you can see over everyone's heads." Jenna sniffled. Damon was sure she'd just really wanted to see all the plates on the table go smash and he couldn't blame her. He had once been rather fond of smashing and knew exactly how much fun it was to destroy something without a care. He however had been a selfish vampire while she was just a little girl who didn't know better.

"Do you want mommy to get you something to eat?" Elena asked Jenna from her perch on Damon's shoulders. Jenna seemed to agree and Elena set to work at the buffet trying to find something there that their daughter would eat.

"Do you want to see everyone?" Damon asked her as she turned around to show Jenna the grand hall, keeping her distracted while he waited for Elena. Damon couldn't help but noticed the size of the crowd. It seems Caroline had invited quite a few more people to her reception than to her wedding. Damon spotted Matt and Tyler among the crowd. Rebekah was standing near Klaus who had a little girl in his arms. If Damon remembered correctly, the werewolf at his side was the girl's mother.

That put every one of Caroline's exes on the guest list. Damon wondered what Stefan thought of that. He turned to look for Stefan and saw the groom dancing with his bride. Damon had never seen his brother so happy. Well maybe Blondie had run the guest list by him before the wedding or maybe Stefan just wasn't the jealous type. Technically Elena's ex had been at their wedding but her ex was his brother so it would have been weird if Stefan hadn't been there.

"Daddy turn," Jenna demanded putting her hands all over his face to get his attention. "Look dat way!"

"This way?" Damon asked as he tried to turn the way she wanted.

"Dat way!" Jenna repeated, her fingers in his eye sockets. Damon reached up to save his eyes before she punctured them.

"If daddy can't see then daddy can't know where you want to go," Damon reminded her.

"Sorry," Jenna said abashed. Damon smiled. This time when he turned Jenna was happy with her new view. As Damon looked out over the sea of people, he found himself suddenly feeling very uncomfortable being merely a human around so many supernatural beings. His daughter on his shoulders, his wife standing a few feet behind him, Damon felt a strange impulse to hide his family away from sight. He knew it was irrational. The majority of the crowd were his friends and it wasn't like anyone, even Klaus, would make a scene at Caroline's wedding. Damon found it hard to imagine anything so deadly as Bridezilla if someone ruined her wedding. Maybe he'd add Bridezilla to Blondie's list of nicknames.

Elena presented Jenna with dinner and that seemed to entertain her for a while. They stayed at the party for a few more hours but then Jenna started crying. It was way past her bedtime. Elena said her farewells to Caroline, explaining how they had to put their daughter to sleep.

"Oh I wish you could stay," Caroline enthused but Elena made their excuses again and the three of them headed to the parking lot. Damon strapped Jenna into her carseat while Elena started the car.

"They are so happy," Elena said beaming as they drove home. "Did you see her smile tonight?"

"Yeah did you see Stefan's though?" Damon replied. "Much the same." By the time they arrived home Jenna was asleep. When Damon placed her in her crib she didn't even wake up. Turning off the light in her room and closing the door, Damon joined Elena downstairs in the living room.

"Did you have fun tonight?" Damon asked her, sitting down beside his wife and taking her hand.

"I did," Elena replied. "What about you?"

"Don't tell Stefan," Damon said sternly. "But it's nice to see him happy."

Elena laughed at him, kissed his cheek then whispered, "Your secret dies with me." She rested her head on his shoulder and they sat like that for a moment in silence. Why speak when there is nothing that needs to be said? Elena knew just how much he loved her and Damon knew how she loved him. They both loved their daughter the most and everything was right in the world.

But a while later as they were going up the stairs to go to bed, they heard a crash. Someone had broken into the house. A million possibilities ran through Damon's head, a million ways that he could lose everything. There had been so many supernaturals at that wedding. Anyone of them could have recognized Damon and followed him home. Had one of them learned that Damon was now the cure to vampirism? Any vampire who had known him as a vampire before and then seen him as a human today would surely guess that right? What if it was a vampire who was trying to break in? A vampire who wants the cure and plans to drink him dry for it or a vampire who simply wants human blood, Elena and Jenna's blood. Damon knew any vampire wouldn't be able to get into the house without an invite but he also knows from experience that there are ways to get people out of a house you haven't been invited into. And there were some vampires who had been invited into his home. What if something had made one of his friends turn their humanity off? And, of course, it could be something other than a vampire? A werewolf or a hybrid? A rogue witch?

Damon hadn't moved a muscle while his mind whirled but when Elena made to take a step down the stairs he panicked.

"Stay here," Damon told her. "I will go see." She nodded and Damon moved slowly down the stairs while his mind went over and over how many different things in this world could kill him and how many of them might want to.

Damon reached the base of the stairs, holding his breath, unsure what he was going to do. He turned to peer around the corner and started in shock at what he found.

It was a human kid, maybe sixteen or seventeen. He was wearing all black and seemed to be trying to steal Damon television. Damon also spotted something shiny in his pocket and suspected he was nicking jewelry as well. Damon burst of laughing so hard, he had to hold onto the wall for support.

"What the hell are you laughing at?" the kid asked. Damon wiped a tear from the corner of his eye, still laughing too hard to speak.

It was suddenly very clear to Damon that you can take the supernatural out of the vampire but you can't take the vampire out of the supernatural. Damon could not conceive of a break in by anyone other than by a supernatural being. The idea of a human breaking into his house to steal his electronics was hysterical.

"Myself," Damon just managed to reply though his laughter.

"Stop it!" the kid said. "You are freaking me out."

"Ha!" Damon scoffed. This kid had freaked him out way worse and the brat had no clue how much!

"What the heck is going on?" Elena said appearing beside him. To her credit it seemed she had actually stayed on the stairs until Damon had burst out into laughter. Elena would never have done so before Jenna was born, Damon was sure. The birth of their daughter had drastically changed their priorities. If they both had gone to investigate and something had gone wrong, who would have been left to protect Jenna?

"He wants our TV it seems," Damon said jerking his thumb in the kid's direction.

"And this is funny because?" Elena asked him slowly as if talking to a dim person.

"You had to be there," Damon told her, still chuckling.

"Alright then," Elena said obviously confused but deciding to let it go.

"So you're a thief," Damon told the kid casually as if stating his occupation as dentist or accountant.

"Umm," the kid replied looking between Damon and Elena clearly lost for words.

"I'll take that as a yes," Damon replied as he walked over and clapped the kid on the back. "Let's sit." The kid was clearly in shock, but sat all the same. He seemed very uncomfortable sitting on Damon's couch.

"What's your name kid?" Damon asked.

"Jacob," he said shakily.

"Alright Jacob," Damon said conversationally. "Why are you stealing from me?"

"I-" Jacob stated but he seemed to stunned to speak.

"Come one let's hear it," Damon said. "Do you need more drugs? Do you have a sick mom? Or is the tuition so high at your university that you have to resort to breaking and entering?" Damon chuckled.

"What do you care?" Jacob asked.

"Good point," Damon said. "I don't. And it doesn't matter why. I will just go and assume you have a good reason, at least in your own eyes." Damon paused but Jacob didn't say anything so he continued. "So Jacob one thing you should know is that unless you have some form of super strength or mind control you will always get caught and once you are caught, well you're caught. Best not to get caught. So here's the deal. Let's agree to disagree about whose necklace is in your pocket and call it a day."

The kid looked truly confused as he spoke, "Why are you being like this? I came here to steal from you."

"Ah yes but all you want is jewelry and electronics," Damon laughed.

"Well yeah," Jacob answered. "Why else would someone break into your house?"

"Oh you'd be surprised," Damon replied, cheerfully.

"I know I shouldn't do this," Jacob said sorrowfully. "I know it makes me a horrible person."

"Horrible is relative," Damon replied, feeling that he had no right to judge someone for taking objects when he himself had taken lives, many of them.

"No it's not," Jacob said standing up and rubbing his hand through his hair. "I'm so sorry."

"And remorse," Damon said shaking his head. "Remorse and material items. Ever killed anyone?"

"No!" Jacob exclaimed.

"See," Damon argued. "Why Jacob you are almost saintly."

"Is this your secret strategy for dealing with thieves?" Jacob asked. "You confuse them.

"Maybe," Damon replied, thoughtfully.

"My husband is a little odd," Elena said apologetically while smiling in such a way as to make it obvious, at least to Damon, that she was trying to hold back laughter.

"Really dear?" Damon sighed. "Odd. You are calling me odd now?"

"Did you just call me dear?" Elena objected.

"Thought I'd try it out," Damon grinned. "You don't like it?"

"Ah no," Elena said firmly.

"Oh well," Damon shrugged then turned back to Jacob. "Anyway so here is the deal. You listening? Good. Stealing is bad. If you need money get a job. Don't do drugs. Being bored is not a good reason to do bad things... or drugs. Stay in school and love your mother. You got it."

"Umm," Jacob said.

"Then again if she is anything like my mother maybe that's bad advice," Damon added thoughtfully. "Yeah forget that last part."

"You're insane," Jacob replied.

"Maybe you should knock the next time you try to rob an insane person's house," Damon grinned. He stood up, making Jacob stand as well and then started walking toward the door, with his arm still around Jacob's shoulder. "No really come round for tea sometime but at a decent hour… and no stealing." The two of them stood in front of the door now. Damon opened it and gently nudged Jacob out of his house.

"I never liked that necklace anyway," Damon whispered into Jacob's ear then added in a normal voice. "Time to go." Jacob stood frozen for only a moment before he started to walk forward. Once he was clear Damon closed the door and locked it. The window Jacob had busted open to get in was a different story.

"I am gonna get someone to fix that tomorrow," Damon sighed. "But got any ideas how to close the hole tonight? I don't fancy the draft."

"Hold on a minute," Elena said waving her hands in the air. "Did you or did you not just give our burglar a dad lecture and invited him back for tea?"

"I think I did," Damon said chuckling.

"Why?" Elena asked.

"I was just really glad he wasn't here to kill us," Damon explained, grinning. His wife rolled her eyes at them and called him strange again. Together they put a temporary cover over the window and then went upstairs to bed. Damon would call and get the glass replaced in the morning. Such things as broken windows and missing jewelry were easy to fix and of no real consequence. The true treasures Damon possessed could not be measured by any form currency. They could not be stolen by a petty thief in search of gems. They could only be lost to him by death, for as long as Elena and Jenna were alive, Damon was the richest man in all the world.

Chapter Text

As Jenna outgrew her toddler clothes, Damon delighted in buying her more. The happy, chatty child she became filled his days with joy. She still looked up at him as she had as a toddler but now she didn't try to swallow watches or pull on tablecloths. Jenna and Damon often did household tasks together while they waited for Elena to get home from work. She loved to help Damon pack lunches for her and Elena. Damon drove her to and from school. His life became that of one who does nothing for himself and everything for his daughter. His weekends were filled by Jenna's sleepovers with her friends. He enjoyed watching her play with them because she looked so happy doing it. Every day when he picked Jenna up from school he asked her to tell him one thing good and one bad thing about her day. She always trusted him enough to answer honestly and Damon felt like they'd been this close forever.

Gradually as she entered high school Jenna pulled away from her father. First she went to other friends' houses to hang out with her friends. Then she gave shorter and shorter answers to Damon's questions and asked for lunch money rather than a packed lunch. Damon had to at least be thankful she never stopped drinking vervain.

Elena and Damon had decided when Jenna was little to tell her about the supernatural world. It had been a long intense conversation but, in the end, they'd agreed that Jenna not knowing was more dangerous than hiding the truth. After all, Elena had learned this the hard way with Jenna's namesake. Jenna knew why vervain was important so she, at least, hadn't rebelled against Damon in that respect.

"You have to let me go dad," Jenna whined. She was standing in their living room wearing an extremely short plaid skirt with a tight white tank top, showing altogether far too much skin for Damon's liking.

"I don't have to do anything," Damon replied, arms crossed. "You are not going to a party dressed like that."

"I'm on vervain," Jenna replied. "And there probably don't be any vampires there anyway."

"But there will be boys," Damon said.

"Human boys," Jenna countered.

"Doesn't matter," Damon said shaking his head. "Put on long pants and sleeves and we'll talk." Jenna half yelled half screamed in frustration as she stomped up the stairs. She passed Elena as she went and threw a dirty look at her mother as well.

"What happened?" Elena asked with a sigh.

"She wants to go to the party," Damon said. "Dressed like that!"

"So?" Elena asked.

"So!" Damon said. "There will be boys there and as a man who has exploited more women than he'd like to admit to his wife, that outfit is not the way to avoid it."

"She's a smart girl," Elena said. "And she's on vervain. She knows who to call if she needs help. She'll be fine." But Damon was shaking his head before Elena finished talking. Elena sighed. "She isn't your little girl anymore. She's almost sixteen."

"Don't remind me," Damon grumbled. Elena sighed and went over to her husband, putting a consoling hand on his shoulder.

"If I don't remind you, who will?" Elena asked. Damon mumbled incoherently. He didn't want to face his little girl growing up.

"Why do you have to be the grown up," Damon whined.

Elena laughed, "Because you aren't."

"Do you think she'd be okay with me following her to the party?" Damon asked hopefully.

"No," Elena replied. Damon hung his head though he'd known the answer to the question. With a sigh Damon started walking up the stairs, very slowly trying to delay the task at hand. When he reached his daughter's bedroom door he knocked and heard something hit the door with a loud crash.

"Go away!" Jenna yelled, through the closed door.

"Never," Damon replied firmly. "I am your dad and you are stuck with me."

"Argh!" Jenna's angry voice echoed through the house.

"Please let me in, Angel," Damon said gently when she'd stopped screaming. There was a short pause then the sounds of movement and the door opened. Jenna turned her back on Damon and returned to laying on her bed, a pillow over her eyes. Damon walked in and sat in the desk chair across from her.

Damon took a deep breath then began. "Jenna," he said. "I know- I mean... you're growing up and…"

"What are you trying to say dad?" Jenna asked in a bored voice.

"When you were little," Damon tired again. "I used to hoist you up onto my shoulders so you could see the whole world. While your mother was at work we used to have adventures in the backyard, making forts and snowmen. I guess what I am trying to say is that I miss those days."

"They were great," Jenna agreed with a smile.

"I just feel like you are slipping away from me," Damon said, feeling the tears in his eyes.

"Dad," Jenna said kindly. She sat up on the bed and looked at him.

"You don't really need me anymore," Damon continued while he was still brave enough. "And letting you out into the world scares me so much. The world is a dangerous place."

"I know that," Jenna replied.

"Yes you do," Damon agreed.

"And I will always need you," Jenna told him getting up off her bed to hug him. "Even if not the way I used to."

"Thank you," Damon said. He held her for another minute and when they broke apart he added, "If you at least cover a little more skin… you can go to the party."

"Really!" Jenna replied, her eyes lighting up.

"Yeah," Damon sighed. "Who was I kidding? Like any daughter of mine wouldn't go to parties." He shook his head.

"Thanks dad," Jenna squealed as she kissed his cheek and jumped up to find something else to wear.

The outfit she chose just barely passed inspection but he let her go joyfully out the door. Damon stayed awake until she got home, reading in a chair by the door. Elena had long gone to bed when the door creaked open and Jenna appeared.

"Did you have fun?" Damon asked his daughter.

"Oh you're still awake?" Jenna said, surprised.

"Like I could sleep!" Damon exclaimed. When had he turned into such a worrier? Oh that's right, when he'd had a kid!

"I'm fine," Jenna said smiling at him. Damon got up and pulled her into a fierce hug.

"I love you," Damon told her. "You know that, right?"

"I know," Jenna smiled. "I love you too, dad."

"Now bed time," Damon said. Jenna rolled her eyes. "Oh no, bed time for dad," Damon explained and Jenna laughed. "You're gonna stay at home for the rest of the night right?"

"Yeah dad," Jenna said. "I'm in for the night."

"Good," Damon said as he kissed her on the cheek. "Maybe I can finally sleep then."

"Night," Jenna called to him as he turned and walked up the stairs. Now that he wasn't worried, Damon could feel just how tired he really was. He crawled into bed next to Elena who rolled over to hold him.

"Told you she'd be fine," Elena mumbled, clearly half asleep.

"You were right as always my love," Damon whispered before he fell asleep.

Chapter Text

Damon was sitting reading the newspaper in his favourite chair. There was nothing terribly interesting going on in the world, or nothing the paper wanted to publish anyway. Damon took his reading glasses off as he heard someone approach. It was a strange thing to require glasses to read but Damon was getting used to it.

"You finally look like my older brother," Stefan sniggered as he walked up the porch steps. Damon's favourite chair was technically speaking just the porch swing.

"It was almost funny the first time," Damon sighed. "But I've looked like your other brother for a while now."

"This joke doesn't get hold," Stefan sniggered. "Unlike you."

"Why did I invite you over again?" Damon groaned.

"I have a limited time to tease you," Stefan replied. "I have to make the most of it."

"Usually you have help," Damon remarked. "Where is that annoying wife of yours?"

"Caroline is parking the car," Stefan explained. "And your wife?"

"Checking on dinner," Damon answered as he stood up and followed his brother into the house. "Company has arrived," he called to Elena as they entered the kitchen.

"Dinner isn't ready yet!" Elena called back. Damon looked over at his beautiful wife. Sure, she had grey in her hair but it wasn't very noticeable and he too had a slight salt and pepper to his hair. They matched; it made Damon smile.

"Did you remember to check the temperature?" Damon asked.

"Yes," Elena sighed. "For the hundredth time yes, how could I forget with you nagging me all the time."

Damon laughed. "Oh it's been known to happen."

"Over thirty years and you are still on my case!" Elena exclaimed as she took the ham out of the oven. "I forgot one time!" The one time Elena was referring to had been when Elena had tried to kill him with salmonella poisoning. She had served chicken without first checking the internal temperature with a thermometer. Damon had almost eaten pink chicken! Thirty years of nagging was a small price to pay.

"And you shall never live it down," Damon chuckled as he approached her from behind and put his arms around her. Elena had thankfully already set the ham down. She turned in his arms and kissed him. Damon moved his hands down her back and squeezed her bottom. She giggled and gave him a dirty look. Damon had a sudden sense of deja vu. That elderly couple, all those years ago, that he'd seen arguing over leftovers, just hours before he'd given up being a vampire and become a human. He'd seen exactly what he wanted in those two and now here he was living it.

"If you kiss me every time you nag me, I might forgive you," Elena said smiling at him.

"Is that so?" Damon smiled back. He kissed her again rather more passionately than one probably should with company, and sure enough Blondie showed up.

"Get a room," Caroline said as she walked into the house like she owned the place. Damon sometimes wished Elena hadn't told her to do that. The whole 'she's my best friend' thing hadn't really meant Damon wanted her around all the time.

"The kitchen is a room," Damon replied with a grin.

"A public space actually," Caroline huffed.

"You're just jealous," Damon told her but he let go of Elena and went to set the table while Caroline scoffed. Damon ignored whatever Blondie said next in favour of getting glasses down from the cupboard. The table was set and the ham cut when the guest of honour arrived.

"Jenna!" Elena called as she ran to embrace her daughter.

"Hey mom," Jenna said, allowing herself to be hugged. Damon joined his wife in suffocating his daughter and it was a Jenna sandwich. "I need to breathe guys."

"Sorry," Elena mumbled as she let go.

"How is University treating you?" Damon asked.

"Oh, like you don't know," Jenna laughed. "Seriously I don't have time for you to call me every Sunday."

"Don't pick up the phone then," Damon grinned. He knew Jenna was just teasing him. They all heard the oven timer go off and Damon excused himself to get the baked potatoes. He'd done basically all the cooking but when it had come close to dinner time, Elena had insisted on helping and banished him to the porch. She'd cut her hours at work a few months ago. She wasn't that close to retiring yet but even just this little reduction seemed to mean she wanted to learn more about domestic life.

Damon brought out the last of the food and everyone sat down. Jenna talked about her most recent classes and what she wanted to do when she graduated. Stefan talked about his experience in different careers and what he liked about each of them, trying to give his niece ideas. Caroline played the doting aunt and Elena exclaimed that her little girl was all grown up! Damon listened to the joyful sounds of his family and smiled.

"How's Dylan?" Caroline asked Jenna.

"He's great," Jenna said. "He asked me to move in with him actually."

"I haven't even met this man yet," Damon grumbled.

"Dad," Jenna said. "Don't you remember what happened to the first boy I brought home?"

"I didn't like his eyes," Damon said. "Too shifty."

"You scared the crap out of that poor boys," Elena laughed. "He ran from the house like you'd threatened to torture him."

"He had bad intentions," Damon defended himself.

"And you wonder why I haven't brought Dylan over," Jenna laughed.

"If he is ever even slightly not nice to you," Damon began but he was cut off.

"You will kill him with a chainsaw," Jenna sighed. "Yeah I know dad."

"Stefan will help too," Damon said, nudging his brother. "Right?"

"By help you mean do all the work, right?" Stefan said. "I mean you are getting a bit old for such things."

Damon hit Stefan over the head with his butter knife, knowing full well it wouldn't have hurt Stefan even if he'd used an actual knife. Stupid vampire healing powers.

"Boys," Elena scolded them. "Not at the table." She turned to Jenna. "I hope Dylan is at least a little more mature than your father."

"Oh don't worry mom," Jenna said. "He is."

"What is that supposed to mean?" Damon whined.

"Oh nothing," Jenna smiled.

"Yeah right," Damon muttered but the subject was soon changed.

Jenna's birthday cake was brought out and Damon was reminded, by the number of candles, of that day twenty-one years ago when he'd become a father. How had the years gone by so quickly? They all sang happy birthday in different keys, as is traditional in a not-musically inclined family, and Jenna blew out her candles.

Over dessert the topic turned to what Jenna planned to do with her friends and boyfriend when she returned to school. Damon and Elena had financed her flight home for the weekend, insisting they needed to see her on such a momentous occasion.

Laughter filled the air as stories were exchanged, and everyone caught up with everyone else's lives. There was one thing bothering Damon, however, so when people started branching off into smaller conversations he took the opportunity to have a private word with his daughter.

"You do know you can bring Dylan to visit if you want, right?" Damon asked her. "If he matters to you I want to get to know him."

"You promise not to kill him?" Jenna laughed.

"I promise," Damon smiled back. "I know he makes you happy and that is all I want."

"Thanks," Jenna said. "We'll visit soon."

"You didn't think I'd actually kill him, did you?" Damon asked sheepishly.

"Nah," Jenna said. "But you are kinda intimidating dad. I like to at least have give the guy a chance to get invested before you try and scare him off."

"If they scare so easily you can do better," Damon told her. Jenna laughed and their private moment ended with the addition of Stefan who engaged Jenna in talk of University graduation and internships.

Laughter, conversation and a familial warmth about the room carried them through the rest of the evening. By the time Stefan and Caroline went home, it was very late.

"Good night," Jenna told her parents once her aunt and uncle left.

"It's so great to have you home," Elena said, hugging her daughter.

"What your mother said," Damon added, getting a hug in as well before letting her go up the stairs.

"I'm so proud of her I can't see straight," Damon sighed, leaning against his wife's shoulders as he watched his daughter walk up the stairs. He'd told Jenna this many times before but tonight especially reminded him just how true it was.

"I know the feeling," Elena said smiling. Together the two of them walked hand in hand, upstairs and to their own bed.

Damon laid down next to his wife, feeling the warmth of her beside him. As she started to fall asleep her breathing became even. The slow repeated sound like a lullaby to Damon who'd fallen asleep to this melody every night for over thirty years.

Damon had meant every word he'd said to Elena when he told her he was taking the cure and though they still had many years left together, in this moment Damon could say with absolute certainty that he'd had one perfect life with Elena and it had been infinitely better than an immortal one without her.