Elena Gilbert woke up bright and early that Saturday morning. Opening her eyes, she saw dawn stretching its pink and purple fingers across the cloudless sky. The weather forecast called for a gorgeous spring day, which seemed so wrong to her. If any day was going to be cold and gloomy, this was certainly the one.

Elena turned her head away from the window and toward the man who slept next to her. She was always amazed by the look of utter peace that sleep painted across his face. Her hand itched to reach out and brush the sleep-mussed hair off his forehead, but she restrained herself, not wanting to wake him. Instead, she stared at him, committing the moment to memory. He might be approaching the two century mark, but Damon Salvatore did not look a day over twenty-five.

Elena slid smoothly out of bed without waking Damon, thanks to years of experience. Her habit of going for early morning runs had numbed him to her movements. She grabbed her running clothes on the way to the bathroom and quickly changed. After brushing her teeth and throwing her hair up in a high ponytail, she took a minute to really look at herself in the mirror, something she tried not to do very often.

She was staring down the barrel at forty and her face showed it. There wasn't one thing she could point to, but she knew she no longer looked like the fresh-faced eighteen year old that had fallen in love with the eternally young vampire.

Elena turned away from the mirror. Agonizing over facts that couldn't be changed was getting her nowhere. She paused to look at Damon again, making sure he was still sleeping, before walking out their bedroom door.

She always felt so human when she tried to move quietly. Every step she made seemed to echo through the boarding house at one hundred decibels. Twenty years of living with a vampire had taught her that she was never as stealthy as she'd like to think, but that didn't stop her from trying. When she reached the foyer, she waited for the telltale breeze to rush past her ponytail, announcing Damon's arrival. One minute, two minutes, and still she stood alone in the foyer.

Elena grabbed her keys from the catch-all table next to the front door, leaving her phone behind, she slipped out the door, closing it quietly behind her.

Damon slid his hand across Elena's side of the bed and found only cold sheets. He hated waking up to a cold, empty bed, not that he would ever tell her. Elena swore that her best writing happened while she was on her morning run when she could just let her mind wander. Who was he to begrudge her that time alone?

He showered, shaved and dressed while waiting for her. She hadn't returned by the time he walked down to the kitchen to start her breakfast. Damon assumed she had gotten a late start and he would hear her walk through the door any minute. He bustled around the kitchen, gathering what he needed to make her western omelet, warming up a blood bag for himself and continued to wait.

His patience lasted as long as the blood in his mug did. Even if she had left after he got up, she would have been back. It was definitely time to go look for his girlfriend. Trouble still had a habit of finding her when they were least expecting it.

He was reaching for the doorknob just as Elena's phone began to ring. Frowning, he picked it up to answer it. He did not like her going out without a way to contact him.

"Stef! How's Paris, bro?"

"Damon? I thought I called Elena's phone." Stefan's confusion was evident. Damon could picture his furrowed brow.

"You did. She forgot to take it on her run. Again." He heard Stefan's chuckle, knowing it was directed at Damon's frustration, not Elena's annoying habit. "So, what's up?"

"I just wanted to tell Elena that Caroline and I would be home for her birthday."

"She'll be very happy to hear that. I'll have her call you when she gets home. I need to go, Stef. Gotta go find my little danger magnet. She should have been home by now."

"OK, brother, just tell her to call me. Don't spoil the surprise. I want to be the one to tell her."

Damon ended the call without another word, his concern for Elena growing by the second. He walked out the front door, heading for his car. He had taken about five steps onto the driveway when he stopped dead in his tracks. Where he should have seen Elena's SUV parked next to his 'new' Camaro, he saw an empty stretch of driveway.

"Elena, where the hell are you?"

Elena knew that every minute, every mile that she put between herself and Mystic Falls was borrowed. Damon could have discovered her absence as soon as she pulled out of the driveway or two hours later. That just meant she needed to put the next phase of her plan into action as soon as possible. She had to keep moving, keep focused, no time for thinking or looking back.

Lucky for her, Elena had picked up a few things from Damon, like how to disappear. She knew all of his contacts, the ones willing to help Damon's human girlfriend, but wouldn't hesitate to tell him what she was doing. Those she avoided. Instead, she had gone to the ones who would be willing to help her to spite Damon, willing to do anything that would ultimately hurt him. She had found eight who were more than willing to supply her with a new identity.

Her first stop was Richmond where she had a car reserved with alias number one. She looked over her shoulder the entire drive, not relaxing until she was behind the wheel of the rental, heading for Cincinnati. With her Audi abandoned in Richmond and an alias on the rental agreement, she hoped she had thrown a stumbling block in Damon's path.

Once in Cincinnati, she turned in the rental car and boarded a flight to LA, using a different alias, of course. From LA, she flew to Hong Kong and eventually to Sydney, each time under a different name.

She walked out of the Sydney airport completely exhausted, barely able to remember which name she should answer to. She hailed a taxi, relieved that her journey was almost over. She gave the driver the address for the house she had rented using new identity number five and stared blankly out the window as the city passed by.

Elena almost cried with relief when the taxi pulled into the driveway of her new, temporary, home. She paid the driver and was grateful when he got out to help her get her luggage out of the trunk. Elena watched the taxi back out of the driveway before attempting to haul her luggage to the front door. Her head popped up at the sound of the front door slamming shut. A huge smile lit her face when she saw who was walking toward her.

A/N - So, here is my new fic, dear readers. Please let me know what you think in the little box below. I have the next several chapters written and plan on posting weekly. Thank you so much for reading! ~ craftyjhawk