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cyndrarae

Rebelling against Reality since 2003

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free, IS: On the bed
cyndrarae

TVD fic: Exorcising the Ghost of Giuseppe Salvatore (PG)

Title: Exorcising the Ghost of Giuseppe Salvatore
Summary: Stefan invokes the past to help Damon overcome his nightmares. That’s right. Monsters have their demons too.
Rating: PG (Gen)
Verse: TVD tv series. Set sometime after S2 premiere, no spoilers for anything except S2E01. Stefan’s 1st person POV.
Author Notes: I couldn’t find any information about their mother anywhere, so ended up inventing most of it. Creative license please? :) Also, for someone who’s lived for a hundred and fifty years, I would imagine their language to be an unintentional mix of 19th century formality in parts and contemporary American in others. It’s deliberate, and personally I’m comfortable with the way it is. FYI, I don't write first person POV often but I've decided not to be scared of it anymore. Constructive feedback is much loved!
Word Count: 3630

***

The wait won’t be long.

So I stretched out on the couch by the fireplace with my good old copy of Faust. I didn’t need a clock to know how late it was. The Salvatore mansion stood blessedly still this time of the night. But it wasn’t going to last, I knew that too.

I wasn’t wrong.

At twelve minutes past two the noises began, like they had every night this past week, every night that Damon was home and sleeping, up in his private chambers. I glanced upwards to the top of the stairs, not that I could see past the closed doors, obviously. I’m just a vampire, not Superman. It wasn’t hard to visualize the tossing and turning though, or hear the pained, garbled words spilling out of my brother’s mouth.

Nightmare. And from the sounds of it, the same one. Again.

Disappointed as always… Why... Stay out of your way...

That’s right. Monsters have their demons too.

I put my book aside and sat up, wondering not for the first time what to do. The past few months had been extremely hard on my brother. But true to his character, he’d been keeping it all bottled up inside, erupting every now and then with unpredictable vengeance that knew absolutely no bounds. His latest freak-out for example, left Jeremy dead (temporarily) and his friendship with Elena destroyed forever. As self-imposed penance he’d kept the bloodbaths to a minimum since, but I knew something had to give in its place, and looked like it finally had.

The noises grew louder first and then abruptly stopped. That was my cue to rise and prepare to meet Damon who would no doubt be heading downstairs for a drink, any moment now. I went over to the bar and poured three fingers of his favorite scotch into a crystal glass.

“You’re making a habit of staying up way past your bedtime, little brother.”

His voice was bored and languorous as always, his footsteps sullen and heavy as Damon made his way to the couch and practically collapsed onto it.

“And you, big brother, are starting to talk in your sleep.” I handed him his drink and he took it without a word. “Getting on in your ripe old age much?”

“Eavesdropping is more my style, not yours, noble Stefan. Or am I finally starting to rub off on you?”

I just smiled. Damon needed the solace of his sarcasm to hide behind, but he couldn’t stay there for long. He took a tentative sip of his drink, not once taking his eyes off me. “What have you heard?”

I crossed my arms and took in his unusually disheveled appearance. Vampires were supposed to be ageless but right then, with the slumped shoulders and the wariness in his eyes, Damon looked like all his years had suddenly caught up with him. All one hundred and sixty years at once.

“You know, in all these years, this is the first time I’ve gotten a glimpse of what really goes on inside that head of yours.”

Something wavered in Damon’s eyes, but he quickly covered it up. “Fine, I confess. I’ve a fetish for can-can girls and glam rockers and preferably both at once. Sue me.”

I took a seat beside him on the couch gingerly. “That’s not what I heard, and you know it, Damon.”

He swirled the liquid in his glass before gulping it all down. Then he stood up and started to walk out of the living room. “Bored now. Think I’ll go jerk off to Moulin Rouge for a bit…”

“Damon Salvatore!” I threw out, clearly bordering on desperate. “Aren’t you the one who’s supposed to make all other vampires look like freaking saints in comparison?”

At least it made him pause. “Is there a point to this rant or should I just stake myself already?”

“It just blows my mind how you of all people are allowing yourself to be reduced to a sniveling little child by a stupid nightmare.”

“Why the hell do you care, Stefan?”

“Do you even have to ask?”

Damon bit his lip, struggling visibly. “Not that it’s any of your business, but it’s not… exactly a nightmare.”

Yeah, I’d gathered as much. “You’re reliving the memories of our long-dead father.”

“Dead and disappointed, as always, not that you’d know anything about how that feels.”

I stood up and walked over to my brother. “I’m sorry. I wasn’t trying to be flippant, Damon. I just didn’t realize you were still so bothered by it after all these years…”

“Yes well, my pathetic sense of inadequacy as a man was only amplified a thousand times after you turned me into a vampire, Stefan.”

I wasn’t sure who was more stunned by his sudden outburst of honesty, me, or Damon himself. I nodded, mostly just relieved to even get this far in this conversation.

“You realize it wasn’t really about you, Damon, don’t you?”

Damon flinched, almost as if I’d hit him across the face. “Save the pep talk for your high school sidekicks, Stefan. And mind your own damn business.”

He turned away for good this time, running up the stairs to get as far from me as possible. I let him go, not like I had much of a choice. I couldn’t possibly force Damon to hear me or anyone out if he didn’t want to.

If he wasn’t ready to.


***

Nothing I do is good enough… Why, Father?... Please just… look at me…

I sighed and put my book down again. The muted (though not so much to my ears) mumbling had finally stopped which meant Damon was wide awake. But after what happened last night, no way was he coming down for his usual drink. Not when he knew I’d be here waiting for him, for another chance to talk him to death. Obviously, we use the term rather loosely around here.

I decided to play offense instead. Some mistakes I could never fix, like my selfishness in turning Damon against his will. But Damon didn’t have to bear the sins of our less-than-perfect father too, not anymore. Seconds later, I found myself in Damon’s bedroom, a brand new bottle of scotch and two glasses in hand.

He was still in bed, shirtless and lying on top of his covers instead of under them. He was rubbing his eyes with the heels of his palms, almost as if trying to erase the images imprinted on his mind.

“I got the Macallan, 1947,” I spoke as softly as I could but ended up startling him anyway.

“Damn it!” He hissed and jumped while I tried not to laugh. “What do you want, Stefan?”

As if it weren’t obvious. “To talk, that’s all.”

Damon huffed. “What can you possibly say that I don’t already know? I get it. I have daddy issues.” His eyebrows spiked up at the last two words cynically. He looked miserable.

Cautiously I approached the bed, afraid he might bolt if I startled him again. I poured the scotch and handed a glass to Damon who quickly poured it down his own throat all in one go. I actually didn’t mind so long as it helped loosen that reluctant tongue of his.

“And it’s only getting worse because of… of everything else that I’ve gone ahead and fucked up.” Damon folded his legs under himself, running a hand through his unruly hair. “I was a screw-up then and he knew it, just like I’m a screw-up now. Never could do anything right. And you were the perfect son, exactly what he wanted in every way possible…”

I wanted to laugh. Sure, so perfect I killed my own father and feasted on his blood to become a vampire. I pushed my own guilt aside (no time for it now) and refilled his glass while Damon continued to ramble.

“For twenty years I was a thorn in his side. He just wanted me gone, and boy was he mad when I quit the Confederates. I see it all so clearly now. He wanted me to join the army to get rid of me. He was disappointed not because I didn’t come back a war hero. He was disappointed that I came back!”

Damon paused when I handed him back his drink.

“Even in death, I disappoint him, Stefan. Just when I thought the man couldn’t possibly hate me any more I turned into the one thing he did hate more than me: a fucking vampire!”

I put a hand on his shoulder then, prepared to use as much force as might be needed to keep the man here, with me, talking. But Damon didn’t flee. And he didn’t continue either. It was like he was done, wrung out, having finally let his frustrations out after a hundred and fifty years. And once he was done he just sat there, seething, drinking, chest heaving with nothing but adrenaline and misplaced rage. Rage that was directed entirely at himself.

That’s when it hit me.

“You really don’t know,” I whispered. And this time it wasn’t a question.

Damon frowned. “What don’t I know?”

I squeezed his shoulder firmly, taking an unnecessarily deep breath to begin. “Damon, when I told you yesterday that it wasn’t you, I wasn’t just saying it for the heck of it.”

I put the bottle aside, and drew out from my pocket the piece of parchment I’d been carrying around all day. Unfolding it with all the care and reverence it deserved, I showed it to my brother.

“Father gave this to me when I was six, do you remember?”

Damon’s face was… indescribable. The angelic features were frozen, devoid of any emotion. His eyes were focused on the once vibrant and colorful painting already starting to turn sepia. His brows were furrowed, as if he didn’t recognize what he was seeing. Correction: he recognized it, somewhat, but was having trouble believing it.

“Is that really…?”

“Sure is, the only one that survived. Father gave this to me when I wouldn’t stop asking him what she’d been like. He couldn’t bring himself to talk about her, and it was too painful for him to look at anyway. So he let me keep it instead.”

“I haven’t seen this in ages…”

“You didn’t want to, Damon.” I smiled sadly, remembering the angry and bitter young boy my brother was, even back then. “You never wanted to talk about her either. Turns out you’re our father’s son after all.”

Damon looked up at me then, and I knew him well enough to read that conflicted expression on his face – mostly offended but also kind of pleased with this likeness to the late Giuseppe Salvatore, our father.

“I don’t understand,” he griped, turning away again. “What does this have to do with… anything?”

“I’d say it’s fairly obvious, Damon. Please, just, for once, look at her.”

A shudder ran through his body and seeped into my hand. All I wanted to do was pull him close and hold him, protect him from this pain that’d been wrenching his gut for as long as we both could remember. But I knew Damon wouldn’t allow it, not yet anyway. I settled for holding the man steady, curbing any possibilities of escape.

“He didn’t hate you, Damon. He just loved her too damn much.”

The silence was unbearable, until the shoulder clutched in my hand stiffened and pulled away. The brief glance he threw my way was cold but it radiated so much helplessness it broke my heart.

“Why are you telling me this now?” He demanded, sliding off his bed and reaching for a black shirt that he must have flung to the floor earlier. “Is this supposed to make everything hunky-dory?”

“No, of course not. But it does answer the question you’ve been asking yourself, over and over again.”

Why?… Why Father?… Why me?…

Damon buttoned up his shirt and refused to look at me again. “This changes nothing, Stefan. Nothing at all.”

Yes it did, and Damon would see it too if he’d let go of his self-derision for just a minute.

“Where are you going?”

“Out, to grab something to eat.”

Once again, I had no choice but to watch him leave. Besides, I was too busy trying not to let my disappointment show on my own face.

The last thing Damon needed was a reminder of how much I resembled our father.


***

I couldn’t concentrate on Faust anymore. Not that I actually needed to; I knew every word practically by heart.

I hadn’t seen or heard from Damon all day, not since last night. I did pick up a few rustling sounds sometime around midnight and figured he must have slipped into his room through a window. The lengths Damon had gone to all day to avoid me were painfully obvious, so I let him be.

But it was well after two AM now and all I could hear was… nothing.

Maybe Damon was sleeping peacefully at last, which would be a good thing. Maybe he wasn’t sleeping at all, which would be bad. Or maybe he wasn’t even in his room, which meant he was out snacking on some unsuspecting cheerleader somewhere and that would be really, really bad.

“The hell with it,” I muttered to myself, picked up what was left of the Macallan and sped up the stairs to Damon’s door. It was closed, as always. Steeling myself for a probable vicious attack, in which I may well lose an eye or two, I pushed it open.

“Damon?”

At least he was home, thank God. He was wearing a white shirt with black jeans for a change, I didn't know he even owned a white shirt. His hair was damp, like he’d just stepped out of the shower. The bed hadn’t been slept in since the night before. Damon sat in front of his dresser, staring at his reflection in the mirror intently. He’d rested his elbows on top of the dresser, and his fingers were entwined, wrangling each other restlessly.

Damon looked at himself like he’d never looked at himself before.

“I’m a fucking spitting image of her, aren’t I?”

I sighed, almost in relief. Damon was finally seeing himself through my eyes.

“Down to the last detail. Except the girl parts, of course.”

He scoffed, and I moved in closer, cautiously, until I stood right behind him. You’d think after a hundred and fifty years I’d get used to treading on broken glass around my own brother, but I hadn’t. Damon lifted his gaze to look at me in the mirror, then went right back to admiring himself. He narrowed his eyes and studied the tip of his nose with such intensity, it made me smile.

“Do you remember Hector, the old-timer who used to do odd jobs around the mansion?”

“Uh-huh.”

“He came to Mystic Falls with her, as part of her dowry or something. And he used to tell me all these stories about her. Like, how she stuck out in a family of five daughters like a sore thumb. Where all her sisters were green-eyed blondes, Arianna Conti had hair as black as the raven’s wings, and eyes as dark and deep as a bottomless well on a moonless night.”

I was reaching out long before I could think to stop myself, carding fingers through his hair, watching his jet black eyes glaze over with memories of the three year-old toddler he’d once been.

“And it wasn’t just the way she looked, you know. She was… odd, had her own eccentric little ways. Loyal to a fault to her sisters, but she kept to herself most of the time. Couldn’t care less for needlework; wanted nothing but to be with her horses all damn day. Her father didn’t quite know what to make of her, and never could give her the love or attention she deserved.”

Damon trembled with empathy while I continued to caress his hair gently. Hector’s words came back to me as easily as if I’d heard them yesterday.

“Arianna was her mother’s favorite though, and growing up, that was more than enough for her. When she was sixteen, her father invited Giuseppe over to try and fix him with his oldest daughter Alessandra. But Giuseppe-”

“-took one look at Arianna,” Damon interrupted, eyes still transfixed at his own face. “And fell head over heels in love with her.”

“That’s right. How did you-?”

Damon flashed me his classic lopsided grin. “Figured that’s where you were going with it.” But a moment later, he lowered his eyes. “I remember you tried to tell me this story once before, but I didn’t want to hear it. I told you to get lost…”

He trailed off and looked away just as I felt a powerful surge of memories wash over my senses. I was seven years old, less maybe, and I’d forgotten. But Damon had remembered.

“Stefan, I’m…”

“I know. No apology needed.”

He sneered at me. “I wasn’t apologizing. I just… I was going to thank you.”

I smiled. “Oh, well in that case, you’re welcome.”

We shared a moment. A brief, nano-second of a moment that, for a relationship as dysfunctional as ours, was probably more than we could handle.

Damon exhaled, breaking us out of it. “At least I didn’t get stuck with that atrocious Salvatore nose. Lucky you!”

I rolled my eyes and stepped back, removing my hand from Damon’s hair. “Hey, whatever, you’re the one who was known as ‘bella bambina mostro’ in all of Venice by the turn of the century.”

Damon glowered, I laughed.

“Elena looks like Katherine,” he said, stopping my laughter in its tracks. He could be cruel that way. “Elena doesn’t torture me.”

That she didn’t in the least, unfortunately.

I felt the big vein in my temple start to throb like it did every time Damon looked at Elena, or even mentioned her by name. This time though, I forced myself to ignore the superficial taunt and focus on the question my brother really wanted to ask. I planted the bottle of scotch on the dresser and put both my hands on Damon’s shoulders, squeezing them affectionately.

“That’s proof you're nothing like our father. Or that you didn’t love Katherine all that much, after all, Damon.”

He looked like he wanted to protest, insist on his undying devotion to the bitch that ruined our lives and pretend that the century and a half he’d spent in mourning had been more than just an exercise in futility. Instead he plucked the bottle of scotch off the dresser, stood up and turned towards me.

“This stuff is ridiculously expensive, you know. If you insist on drinking it, then you better enjoy it.”

He drank straight from the bottle before passing it to me and I followed suit, wincing a little as the smooth single malt burned its way down my throat. It made him smirk like his usual carefree self, so I did it again.

“That’s my boy. And woah, that’s enough.” He snatched the bottle back from me, and I pretended to pout.

“Trade you another story for a swig?”

Damon hesitated, swallowing hard to down the alcohol in his mouth. He licked his lips and nodded. “Yeah, okay,” he whispered, barely audible even to me.

I grinned and walked over to the bed, situating myself on top of the covers clumsily. “So this one time, when she was fourteen, young Ms Conti decided to go cherry picking in the woods.”

“By herself?” Damon asked, coming over to sit beside me, eyes narrowed with skeptical curiosity.

I smiled and continued with the story. The story of the quintessential wild child who wouldn’t forgive the men who didn’t love her, and couldn’t requite the love of men who did.

Two hours later, I pulled the covers over my brother's sleeping form, dimmed the bedroom lights and left. I hoped the happy memories of Arianna Conti were strong enough to keep the ghost of Giuseppe Salvatore's bitterness at bay.

If not, well, there was always tomorrow night, and thanks to good old Hector, I had lots more stories to tell.


*** THE END ***

  • 1
Can't read it yet, since I haven't caught up with the second season yet. =( But will do so, as soon as I've caught up!!!

Sure hon! You don't actually need to know anything about S2 to read this, but read whenever you want to :)

Great story! I really enjoyed reading this!

Thank you sweetie :) Glad you liked!

This was so unbelievably sweet!! Love the backstory you created for mama Salvatore, and the reasoning behind their father's disapproval of/relative harshness towards Damon :( wish they'd come up with something like this on the show, it would certainly mitigate my dislike for Giuseppe (although, on second though, I don't think anything can truly mitigate my dislike for a man who shot his own sons lol *cringes*) great stuff :)

Thank you so much!! So glad you enjoyed this take on the Salvatores' backstory. And I completely agree, I couldn't forgive Giuseppe either. cheers :)

Hooray for a Vampire Diaries fic. :) Poor Damon being tourtured about his father not liking him. :( I love how Stefan keeps tentatively trying to talk to him about his nightmares. I loved this line:
Damon huffed. “What can you possibly say that I don’t already know? I get it. I have daddy issues.” His eyebrows spiked up at the last two words cynically. He looked miserable.

And I kind of love the idea that Damon lookes like his mom. At least it gives him an answer for 'why' even if it's not a particularly forgivable reason, it's still a reason. I loved Stefan telling Damon stories of there mother in the end. Nice to see them bonding. :) Thanks so much for the story!

Hey you :) Thank you so much for reading and reviewing! Glad you liked this story.. I just wanted to write something completely centered on Damon, and I started this with the clear intention of writing some good old h/c slash. But alas, this thing turned out to have a mind of its own hehe... thanks again hon! *hugs*

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