A/N: So, um. It's been a while since I've written any het, so I'm not entirely sure that this works all that well. Also, it's been forever since I've written any D/E stuff, and even longer since I've watched the actual show, so this story is sort of vague on the when/where of it all. So, it could be human!AU? Or it could be somewhere in that nebulous season 2/3 time..? But either way, I hope I've done okay, and that people enjoy it! Hopefully everyone had a wonderful holiday, and Happy New Year, my lovelies! xx

nicole_baka, I hope you like this little story! Unfortunately, I didn't manage to get any gift exchanging in... unless you count orgasms? *grins*

Prompt: So it's Christmas Day and I'd like to see a grumpy Damon and a cheerful Elena. She's decorating the boarding house but Damon is being Damon. He tells her the reason for his bad mood (childhood memories, etc whatever you feel like) and she tries to cheer him up and show him that this day can be really magical. It's up to you if they are together or not (if they aren't then make them before the end of the fic), but I'd like to see a vulnerable Damon and Elena comforting him. Extra points for a really sarcastic Damon, gift exchanging and lots of kisses! ;)

The first sign Damon had that anything was different was the plant that smacked him in the face as he walked through the front door.

"What the hell?" He stared up at the offending foliage, a sprig of green leaves with a cluster of small white bulbs, hanging innocuously from the ceiling. He reached up to yank it down, but movement caught the corner of his eye; Elena's swath of long, dark hair whipping around round the living room doorway.

"Elena?" Damon rounded the doorway after her, hitching a thumb over his shoulder at the attacking plant. "Did someone forget to tell me we were expecting some really tall werewolves?"

Elena turned to look at him, brows pulled into a delicate frown. "Werewolves?"

Damon didn't hear her; he was too busy staring in horror at the boxes littering the couches. "Oh, hell no."

Elena followed his gaze, frown morphing into a pleased little moue. "What, you have something against the color red?" She dipped her hand into the first box, delicately pulling on a strand of something bright red, glittering and fluffy.

"No. I have something against Christmas." Damon stalked forward, ripped the stretch of tinsel out of Elena's hand and stuffed it back into the box. "Go massacre someone else's house with this crap."

"What could you possibly have against Christmas?"

Elena didn't reach for the box again, but neither did she look like she was going to give in to his demands. Damon was obviously going to have to work harder. He smirked. "That's for me to know, and you to… wait, no, I've already used that one." He sighed dramatically. "Do you know how hard it is to constantly have to think up new material?"

Elena wasn't deterred. "Come on, Damon, it's just a few decorations. Something to get us in the spirit of the holidays."

"I'm sure you can commune with your Christmas ghosts somewhere else just as easily," Damon replied, eyeing the boxes and wondering how many problems it would cause him if he burned them all. Judging by the slightly manic gleam in Elena's eye, he wasn't sure it would be worth it.

"I could, but then you wouldn't benefit," Elena pointed out.

Damon smiled his politest, most dangerous smile. "That's the whole point." He shoved the closest box with the tip of his finger. "Get rid of them. Now."

And he turned away without looking back. Why was everyone always so hell bent on celebrating Christmas? It was a sucky time of year, everywhere was cold and damp, and you had to spend too much time with family that you couldn't stand. Unless you were completely alone, in which case you got to feel even more alone. It just sucked all around for everyone, really, and Damon couldn't understand it.

After a hot shower and an uncomfortable nap, Damon came back downstairs fully expecting Elena to have packed up and gone home. Looking around the living room, however, he wondered why on earth he would ever think that.

A length of fluffy, fake pine needles lay along the mantelshelf, glittery pine cones nestled into it and twinkling fairy lights scattered around it. Bright red stockings, two of the, hung below, swaying gently over the crackling fireplace, one adorned with a snowman, and the other with a depiction of a child's drawing of Santa. Garlands, bells and wreaths hung in every corner of the room, lights wrapped around every single picture on the walls. There was even some fake snow, sprayed into the corners of the windows, little fake snowflakes stuck to the panes. Even the record player had been brought into the action, quiet Christmassy tunes stirring the air.

It was beautifully welcoming, and something sharp twinged in Damon's chest, painfully.

"What did I say?" He said out loud, hearing Elena come in behind him.

"I have no idea, I tend to tune out whenever someone gets their inner Grinch on," Elena said, rounding Damon so she could give him her unimpressed eyebrow. She threw his coat at him, and he caught it reflexively. "Come on, we have to go get a tree."

"No." Damon shook his head decisively. "We are not getting a tree, we are not doing anything other than taking all of this down. Right now, Elena."

"Damon," Elena said, mimicking his stressing of her name, not in the least bit apologetic. "We are getting a tree, we are going to decorate it, and then we are going to drink eggnog and appreciate it."

She had that look on her face; the one that said she didn't care how dangerous it was, she was going to do something and woe betide anyone who got in her way. Damon shrugged into his jacket, glaring at her. "I hate Christmas, and I hate you."

"Only one of those things is remotely true," Elena said, smiling sunnily at him. "And I absolutely intend to find out why."

Damon sighed, tipping his head back on his shoulders and asking the ceiling, why? Then he followed her out of the house.

The tree Elena had chosen was huge, tall enough to reach the high ceilings of the boarding house. The gold star at the very top stood a little crooked, shoved down hard by a puffing Elena while sitting on Damon's shoulders in order to reach. Gold and red tinsel darted in and out of the branches, sparkling glass baubles hanging down and swaying slightly. There were figurines of reindeer and snowmen, sleighs and Santas, balanced precariously in amongst the foliage, and the enticing scent of pine pervaded the air of every room Damon walked into. His fuzzy mind was starting to get used to the sight.

Elena walked back into the room and slid into the corner of the couch, hooking one knee up and tucking her foot beneath her. Her feet were clad in bright green socks, dotted with tiny red and white candy canes. She handed Damon his fifth glass of eggnog, and relaxed back into the couch cushions.

"So," she said, drawing the word out, while Damon choked slightly on the amount of rum in his drink. "Why do you hate Christmas so much?"

Damon glared at her over the rim of his glass. "Because it sucks." Elena made a rude noise, and Damon rolled his eyes. "It's too commercialized, and everyone spends the day eating themselves to death, lying about how much fun they're having, and opening presents that they didn't really want that people couldn't really afford to buy them, and it sucks. Anyone who says they wouldn't prefer to be sitting on a beach sipping Mai Tais is lying."

Elena nodded thoughtfully and took a small sip of her eggnog. "And what's the real reason?"

Damon swallowed back the rest of his drink and eyed the empty glass suspiciously. His head was feeling a bit fuzzy, and he had the sneaking suspicion that Elena had been double-dosing him in an effort to get him to talk. Even more annoyingly, it seemed to be working, because Damon had a slight urge to confess.

"I just never liked it," he said, shrugging a little. "Back when, with my…" Father, he doesn't say, can't say.

Because how can he explain to someone like Elena, someone who was loved unconditionally, who mourned the deaths of her parents with every understanding of just what such a loss meant, how could he explain what it was like to grow up in indifference? How could he explain that holidays made it all the more noticeable, expectations of society shoving them together under the same roof for longer periods, with no chance to escape and regroup?

Or afterwards, after Guiseppe had gone, how to explain how decorations made him remember, made him miss what he'd never had, not really, not in any real, tangible way, made him think self-recriminating thoughts about how he should have tried harder, should have made different choices, even though it was never really his fault. Not at first, at least. Afterwards, yeah, he could admit to that, could admit to pushing Stefan away yet never letting go entirely, too cruel from an empty heart to give his brother that release.

"Christmas is for family," he said eventually, reaching out to snag Elena's glass and toasting her with it. "And I never really had one of those."

Elena looked at him thoughtfully, watching him tip back her glass and emptying it, placing it on the table in front of them. "Maybe not back then," she said quietly, after a long pause.

Damon raised an eyebrow. "Did I accidentally spawn some brats when I wasn't looking?" He asked, making a show of staring around the room, as if waiting for a bunch of children to drop into their laps.

"Family isn't just made up of blood, you know," Elena said, rather sharply, perhaps thinking of her relation to Katherine. "If it was, I'd be lonely, too."

True, but. "I never said I was lonely," Damon said, shaking his head.

"You didn't have to, it's written all over your face." Elena smiled to soften the blow, but it was tinged in sadness. "Not just during the holidays, either."

Damon didn't really like the sound of that; that his feelings could be so easily read by just anyone. But then Elena shifted in her seat, moving closer, and Damon remembered that Elena wasn't just anyone, never had been.

"It doesn't make a difference, I still don't have one either way."

"That's not true, Damon," Elena said softly. Her shoulder was leaning against his lightly. "You have a family now. You made it. Me and Stefan and Alaric, and the others. It might have taken you a while," she smiled pointedly, "But you got there eventually. You got us."

Damon turned his head. Her hair was draped across his shoulder; he breathed in as it brushed against his nose, and he smelled pine and rum and lavender from her shampoo, and the pain that had lodged itself in his chest ever since he'd walked in to find his home covered in decorations eased, with a suddenness that left him wondering what it had even felt like to begin with.

"Yeah?" He breathed, watching with wonder and something like hope as her eyelids fluttered at the feel of his breath on her lips.

"Yeah," she repeated, and maybe she'd also spiked her own drinks along with his, because she let herself fall forward into him.

The first touch of her petal soft lips was like a breath of fresh air; the sigh of the earth at the first drops of rain from a thunderstorm. His hand was reaching up, fingers sliding into her long hair before conscious thought even reached him, drawing her in closer, turning the kiss deeper, yet no less gentle. Her hands found his face, one sliding back to his nape, fingernails lightly scratching at his scalp. Damon's whole body tingled, and his arm came around her waist, crushing her closer to him.

Elena pulled back, not far, just enough to separate their mouths, and laughed, a little breathily. Her foot was still caught under her other knee, and she kicked him in the thigh as she untangled herself. She laughed again, a little silly, but Damon was too caught up in amazement to laugh along with her.

"Hang on," she muttered, giving her foot a little shake. "Just let me…" And she levered herself up and swung one leg over his thighs, settling herself comfortably on his lap. "There, that's better," she mumbled, and leaned in to kiss him again.

And oh, yes, it was, so much better, her weight perched delicately on him like a small bird, light but insistent. Damon fell into the kiss, tongue seeking entrance to her mouth, hands sliding down her back and pulling her in until they were chest to chest, nothing but breath between them.

He wanted to take it slow, wanted to savor it, not knowing if he would get another chance, not knowing if she was too drunk for this, to really be sure of what they were doing. But he was impaired himself, and he couldn't help the small moans he let loose into her mouth, couldn't stop his hand from sliding around her hip, fingers playing with the button of her jeans.

Elena didn't stop him either, didn't do anything other than kiss him deeper when his other hand slid up under her sweater, played with her bra strap for a moment before unhooking it. She arched into him as it released, squirmed closer as his fingers trailed round to the front, sneaking under the wire to cup the warm flesh he found there.

The zipper on her jeans slid down under the pressure of his fingers, and he let himself dip inside, pluck at the edge of lace before sliding underneath, following skin down, down. Elena's knees jerked, sliding further into the cushions at his sides as he followed the curve of her body down and back. Wetness gathered on his fingertips and he swallowed his own gasp as well as hers, at finding her so easily ready for him. He slid down further, zipper catching at the fine hairs on the back of his hand, until his palm cupped her and he was able to sink two fingers deep into her warmth.

Elena broke their kiss, neck arching back as her hips moved downward, feeling the fullness and seeking friction. Damon splayed the fingers of his other hand across her ribs, let a thumb rub across her peaked nipple, burying a smile into her hair at the answering thrust of her hips. He moved his fingers, bending at the knuckles so he could keep the pressure of his palm against her, and she ground down, a pleased hum slipping through her lips. Every downward movement of her hips pressed the back of his against his own arousal, and his hips jerked with aborted thrusts.

And she'd let him, he realized with a dawning wonder, as she moved on top of him, slowly but inexorably, and without a hint of regret or shame. She'd let him tip her backwards onto the couch, slowly peel away every item of clothing, see how the light from the fire would turn her olive skin golden, press her thighs apart and slide between, push into her again and again until they both climaxed. She'd let him.

She was moving faster now, hips grinding down harder and giving his own clothed erection more friction, bringing him closer to release even as she sought her own. Her fingers were biting into his shoulders, teeth digging into her bottom lip, moans slipping out on every inward stroke of his fingers.

"Damon," she whispered, and ground down hard, holding the position and gasping in little sips of breath as he worked his fingers faster, her legs clamped tight to his hips. She hummed again, a deep satisfied noise, and leaned in to kiss him again, a little sloppy, uncoordinated. His hand grew stickier as he stilled his movements inside her, the pressure against his cock almost too much to bear.

Elena ended the kiss with another satisfied noise and a slide of tongue across his bottom lip. She pressed her forehead to his and opened her eyes. The smile on her face was mischievous. She let go of his shoulder with one hand and slid it down between them, fingers wrapping around his wrist and holding him there. She ground her hips down again, harder, tilting her pelvis in a movement that had the back of his hand rubbing just right along the length of his cock, and for the first time in years, decades, centuries, he was coming in his pants, spilling fast and hot with a strength and suddenness that left him gasping.

She gave him a few moments to collect himself, then pulled on his wrist, removing his hands from her clothes. She fell sideways off of his lap and melted bonelessly into the cushions, one leg left splayed across his thighs, jeans still undone and ridiculous socks on display.

"Okay," Damon said, once he'd got his breath and his sanity back. "Maybe Christmas isn't so bad after all."

"Maybe by next Christmas, we'll have worked our way up to taking our clothes off."

She giggled, the heel of her foot pressing against the uncomfortable wetness in his pants. Damon grimaced and shoved at the offending limb, before her words penetrated.

Oh. Maybe Christmas really wasn't so bad. Not if he got to have this.

A/N: Hope you enjoyed it! Oh, and the title is a quote from Dickens' A Christmas Carol, just in case anyone thinks I stole it. :D