A/N: My muse got excited and this wrote itself in a matter of hours. Damon/Elena appeal to me more than Stefan/Elena do at this point. Maybe that's because Ian Somerhalder was so perfectly cast for that role. Anyway, this is my first shot at a tVD story. Let me know what you think.

----

She thinks it more often than she'd like to admit, that Damon scares her less than Stefan does. Maybe it's crazy, since Damon is downright terrifying, but when she really lets herself mull it over, she realizes that she never trusted him, not ever, and she always trusted Stefan.

Until that whole I'm a vampire revelation, anyway.

She thinks Stefan can hurt her more than Damon ever could, simply because Stefan has pieces of her heart and Damon has nothing.

Not a thing.

----

He's in her bedroom one night when she gets home after spending time with Matt. She was desperate for some interaction from someone she knows is a human. She didn't really think it through, though, since his sister is a vampire, a crazy one at that, and he was talking about how weird her behaviour was. Elena could only smile sympathetically and tell him that everything would work out, that things would be fine and it's just a weird time.

She tried not to sound condescending, really, she did, but they're so many of the same clich├ęs that people told her when her parents died, and she doesn't really believe them anymore at all. If it's not one thing, it's another. If it's not breaking up with your football player boyfriend, it's breaking up with your vampire boyfriend. If it's not having a brother with emotional issues and a bit of a drug problem, it's knowing someone whose brother is blood-thirsty and out of his damn mind.

Her life is so screwed up. She regrets all those times when she was younger and she wished for a little excitement in her town.

She walks in and turns on the lights, and she swears she jumps three feet in the air when she sees Damon, wearing all black, laying on her bed with one hand behind his head and the other clutching her favourite teddy bear.

"What the hell?" she almost yells before remembering there are other people home.

"Hi," he says. Every single word out of the guy's mouth is arrogant somehow.

She walks over and rips the bear from his hands, pulling it into her arms like it's a small child or like it needs comforting from his touch. "What are you doing here?"

Okay, so he's scaring her right now, because she's pretty sure no necklace or little plant is going to stop him from taking what he wants.

If he really wants it.

The way he's looking at her right now, she thinks he might.

"Oh, you know," he says, sitting up a little bit and watching her as she moves around, trying to steady herself and put distance between them. "Stopped in to say hi. Introduced myself to Teddy over there." She glares as he points to the bear in her hands. "Snooped through your things. Cute undies, by the way."

"You're disgusting."

"You'll learn to love it," he insists. She looks at him like he's insane. The more she comes in contact with him, the more she's convinced that he is insane.

"Damon," she says, almost pleadingly.

He stands and she tenses, because it's just her and him, and she doesn't know how screaming works if you're having the life sucked from you. She thinks she's pretty much screwed if he decides to do what he does best.

"I was thinking that you don't know me very well."

"And I'm fine with it staying that way," she tells him. He's no more than a foot away from her. She can feel his body heat, and if he reaches out for her, she's not sure what she'll do.

"No you aren't," he argues plainly. He says it like a fact, and it bothers her.

Mostly because he's right.

She's been thinking, despite what Stefan says, that if she learns a little more about Damon, from Damon, she might better understand why he acts the way he acts. She knows how crazy that is. She knows she should probably stay far, far away from the both of them, and tell everyone she knows about their secret. She just can't make herself do that.

"Can you like, read minds or something?" she asks. She's being bitter and sarcastic, but part of her wants to know what powers he has that Stefan doesn't.

"Just yours, sweetheart."

"I'm serious."

He rolls his eyes. "No. I can't. But I can read people. And you, my dear, definitely don't hate me as much as Stefan wants you to."

"I just...I don't understand how you're so different," she admits seriously.

"Because I drink human blood and he feasts on squirrels and mice and whatever other insignificant, low-on-the-food-chain animals he can shoot with his slingshot," he says, clearly mocking his brother. She doesn't look amused. "Everything's...more intense when we get what we want."

"So you need to kill people to feel good. Sounds healthy."

He reaches out and runs his fingertips delicately over the vein of her neck, and her breathing speeds up. "Relax," he tells her, laughing softly at the state he has her in. She's starting to think he lives to scare people. "I'm not going to hurt you."

Her eyes lock with his, and he actually admires her confidence as she asks, "promise?"

"Sure," he says, shrugging one shoulder. "For now."

"What is this?" she asks angrily, slapping his hand away. "Some kind of twisted revenge on Katherine? Just because I look like her?"

As soon as she says it, she thinks that she might actually feel better if he says yes. Stefan is so calm and at peace with what he is and what happened and the woman who started it all. She thinks it might actually be healthy to be bitter and kind of pissed off about it. She thinks that maybe it shows a more human side to Damon if he harbours anger over everything that's happened.

But the thought of him being human at all is a stupid one. He hasn't been a human in over a hundred years.

He circles her slowly, sends a shiver down her spine when he takes a lock of her hair and twirls it around her finger, and when he can see her again, look into her eyes and gauge her response, he says something she's not sure if he means or not.

"Maybe I just like you."

She's tired of this. It's a hard secret to keep, especially when her entire town and everyone she knows is going crazy over what's happening around them. She knows the answers, but because of some strange loyalty she has to that boy (okay, those boys), she can't, simply can't say anything to anyone. She made a promise to Stefan, and she knows he's meant the ones he made to her. She won't break her own.

And she really doesn't want to think about what would happen to Damon if people found out he's the one causing the mayhem. She tells herself it's just because she's a compassionate person, and not because she cares for him at all.

"What do you want from me, Damon?"

He raises one brow and flashes a lopsided smile. "Your blood."

Well, at least he's honest.

----

Stefan saves her life.

Damon saves her brother's.

And as she's crying herself to sleep that night, she realizes that she's the only person who ever gets the privilege of being looked at like that by Damon. He shows her some kind of care, respect and maybe something like adoration. It warms her blood (she ignores that that's probably it's very purpose) and makes her feel alive.

She sat there with Stefan and told him she couldn't stop her feelings.

She looked in Damon's eyes and saw that he couldn't stop his.

And she realizes that Stefan may have saved her life once, but even though he's had a lot of chances, Damon hasn't ever taken her life.

She can't decide which of those is more admirable.

----

She tries to ignore it, that nagging question in her mind, until late one night when she can't sleep (it's becoming a regular occurrence) because of those eyes and that smirk and that look he gets when he's being sincere. She knows how rare it is. She doesn't question that at all.

She knocks at the door, and Damon answers. He says that Stefan is asleep, and she shakes her head and steps back outside, almost afraid to be in the house where Stefan is when she has to have this conversation with Damon. It's weird, but it makes her uneasy to be around them both at the same time.

She can see that he's about to make some kind of joke, so she jumps right in.

"Why didn't you do it?" she asks, locking eyes with him.

"Do what?" He tilts his head to the side like he tends to do, but his charm doesn't work on her.

"At the party. You could have...I was bleeding, and you didn't do it."

He sighs like it's a stupid question, and looks away. "Stefan would never forgive me."

She's sure it's true. She's not sure that's the whole story.

She's not above pleading. "Damon."

"I do like the way you say my name," he says, kinking one brow as he grins at her. She sighs and tips her head back, despite the fact that she's always a little weary of baring too much of her skin around him. Them. She might trust Stefan marginally more, but he still is what he is. "He would never forgive me."

The way he says it tells her there's no room for argument and she shouldn't question it, and maybe for the first time, she thinks that maybe he's thinking of someone other than himself.

And then he shocks her even more.

"I really do like you, Elena."

She leaves before she does something completely crazy like tell him that she likes him too.

----

She sees him more and more, the more time she spends trying to understand what exactly they are and how exactly they function. Stefan tries to explain it properly, gives detailed accounts of the things he needs to survive and the side effects of things like sunlight and vervain and not 'feeding' when they feel they have to. He uses all the perfect words so that she isn't scared, and she appreciates that.

But it's always Damon's blunt, and generally hilarious comments that seem to help her most. Sometimes she feels Stefan just takes himself too seriously, and the comic relief is appreciated. And she always gets a moment to compose herself, to keep from laughing, when Stefan inevitably throws a glare in his brother's direction.

And, inevitably, Damon will always wink at her as soon as Stefan has turned away.

----

He meets her one night without her even having to ask him to, and she asks him again about that mind reading thing. Stefan has been distant and moody with both of them, and while he's always a little distant and moody, it bothers her, and she thinks maybe Damon will have a little insight. When she tells him that, he jokes and says he was just in the area and wanted to see her pretty face. They both notice that she laughs, but neither says anything about it. Comments like that are usually deflected. She'll tell him to watch it, that she's not around them for Damon.

And he'll say he's just an added bonus, and he'll grin, and she'll pretend her heart isn't racing.

This time, they have an actual conversation, with none of the animosity on her side, and none of the sarcasm on his side, she the smiles she gives him don't have to be hidden, and he doesn't have to worry about what Stefan would say if he caught Damon looking at her the way he looks at her.

She thinks she may be in love with Stefan, but she's connected to Damon in a way that might be a hell of a lot bigger.

And God, does she love his eyes.

"I should..." she says, gesturing to the door after checking the time. It's late, and she needs to stop talking to him or she won't stop talking to him. Ever. He merely nods, gives her that cocky grin, and makes his way down the steps.

She's just pushed the door open when she turns around, somehow knowing that he's looking at her. He's standing at the end of the walk with one hand in his pocket and a gentle look on his face, like he wants to take in everything about her. His face doesn't change in the entire ten seconds she stares at him, and when she locks the door behind her, she laughs quietly to herself, because he could still come in if he wanted to.

----

She's at the tavern with her friends one night, and it's a rarity (she doesn't hear the end of it) but Stefan isn't there. They don't mention Damon, because they don't know how much time she actually spends with him. She wonders why she hasn't told them. But Bonnie wouldn't approve, and Matt would be jealous, and Caroline would probably go a little crazy, so she says nothing.

She doesn't even realize that Damon is there until she's on her way back from the washroom and someone walking past her breaks a glass. The guy still has it in his hand, and it cuts her forearm, leaving a four inch gash dripping blood, and a pain so intense she wants to cry. Damon's eyes lock with hers across the room like he could smell the blood (he could), and she rushes for the exit before anyone even has a chance to ask her if she's okay.

She takes off her sweater, despite the fact that she has on only a tank top underneath, and wraps it around her arm in hopes of stopping the bleeding, and she wipes her eyes with her free hand.

"Elena," he says from behind her. She spins around and his eyes immediately go to the wound on her arm, the blood seeping through her shirt.

"Stay away from me, Damon," she says seriously. She hasn't been this afraid of him in months.

"I can help you," he says. His face betrays his words. The skin around his eyes goes dark, and his lips look dry, and he looks like he could kill her here and now.

He takes a step towards her and she flinches. "Don't!"

"Elena," he says with conviction, moving forward again. Her back hits the side of the building, and she flinches, closing her eyes as if she's preparing herself for the worst. "Trust me."

Her chest is heaving with terror and some twisted kind of anticipation as he reaches for her arm. He looks weak, like it's taking every single cell in his body not to do what comes so naturally to him. But he unwraps the wound and places his palm over it, closing his eyes. She studies his face so intently that she has no idea what's happening. He really is beautiful, even now.

"I can almost taste you," he says quietly, like he just can't keep the statement to himself. She's completely frozen in place, because the way his face looks doesn't scare her at all.

She knows how hard this is for him.

She knows she's the only one he'll do it for.

He practically collapses onto the pavement with his back to the wall, and when she looks at her arm, it's completely healed. No blood, no scar, no nothing. She kneels down and takes his hand in hers, and there's no blood there either. Stefan told her that they could self-heal, but she didn't know they could heal others too. She realizes that maybe Stefan can't, but Damon can.

"Damon," she whispers.

He opens his eyes, so blue again, and he looks completely exhausted. The look he gives her is pleading.

It's something like don't tell anyone, because I'm not supposed to be so nice;

Something like I'll do anything for you;

Something like because I love you.

She doesn't kiss him, but she wants to. It's not like he saved her life or anything.

But again, he didn't take it either.

----

The on-again, off-again, will they, won't they of Stefan and Elena eventually ends on off-again and they won't. They both know it would never work. They've both known it all along. She raises a good point when she asks how she could ever explain her boyfriend being 17 when she's 30 or 50 or 65. What goes unspoken is that he could keep her the same age as him. But she doesn't want to be, and he wouldn't do that to her.

It's the first time he says he loves her, and she nods, and there are tears in her eyes when she says she loves him too.

She passes Damon on her way out the door and she knows he's heard her, and there's something like heartbreak on his face that she thinks might just match her own.

----

She never looks over her shoulder when she hears wings flapping, lest there be a jet black bird following behind her.

----

The summer after her senior year, she falls back into her group of friends easily. She doesn't care so much about vampires and traditions and things like vervain and rings and her entirely too creepy resemblance to the woman who started it all, turned them both and made them what they are.

Damon finds her at a party where she's had admittedly too much to drink. She asks him how he knew where she was, and he merely tilts his head the same way he always does when she asks him a question she already knows the answer to. He insists he take her home, and Caroline scowls, and Matt looks pissed off, and Bonnie looks worried, but Elena ignores it all because she's seen those looks so much in the last year that she's kind of immune.

"Why are you doing this?" she asks as his hand grasps her elbow, almost pulling her down the sidewalk. "Answer me, Damon."

"You don't want to be at that party."

"Why?"

He sighs and scoffs and wraps an arm protectively around her waist when she trips on her own feet. He always does that, makes it seem like a big chore to take care of her. She knows it's not, but she doesn't say anything. Never has.

"Because there's someone in town who might just be transitioning, and..."

"Might be?!" she asks loudly. He places his hand over her mouth and he can tell that she's not thrilled with that at all.

"I'm not sure," he says, significantly softer than her outburst. He starts walking again, tugging her along with him.

"Why can't you just..." He stops again, stands in front of her, and it's one of those looks that he gives her. She's sure she won't like what he's about to say.

"It wasn't me," he tells her quietly. She looks at him like he's just told her the very worst thing in the world, and she feels like she might pass out, but then a grin breaks on his lips. "I'm kidding. Of course it was me." She punches his chest with the side of her fist, and he just laughs. "Calm down."

She stomps off in the direction of her house, but he follows her, taking long strides until he catches up.

He's really just protecting her. She doesn't want to ignore that it's his mistake, his craving, that has her needing protection.

"Where's Stefan? Why are you here, not him?" she asks. She knows he can't argue, since it's usually Stefan coming to her rescue.

"Oh, Stefan's gone."

She stops walking again and spins around, surprised to find him right behind her, and he cups her elbow to steady her. "What do you mean, he's gone?"

"Family business. Top secret," he says, wiggling his eyebrows.

"Why didn't he tell me?"

"I don't know. Because you were getting drunk at a lame party in the woods?" he suggests. She narrows her eyes at him.

"I hate you," she seethes.

She just wants to cry. She wants Stefan around, and it's selfish, but he's her friend and she feels safer with him there. She hates that she now feels safe with Damon too.

She wants them both. She knows it's crazy, but it's true. They're polar opposites. Night and day. Love and hate. Security and lust. Calm and fury. Good and evil. She wishes they were just one man so it'd make sense to wish for them both.

"Oh, no you don't," he says in that smarmy, patronizing way that's kind of his trademark. She really wishes there wasn't something at least a little sexy about his grin. She fears he can read all that on her face.

"I wish I could," she admits quietly. She looks to the ground, he knows she's telling the truth, and when she looks back at him, she sees a familiar look on his face. It's one she's seen seldom, but has memorized.

"Don't you want to spend forever with me?" he asks.

There's something in his voice she's never heard before, and she almost thinks he wants her to say yes.

She knows better than to do that very thing; granting permission and all that.

----

Stefan never comes back.

Damon never leaves.

She wonders if it's for the same reason.

(He loves her, he loves her, she loves them both.)

----

She doesn't try to avoid him like she knows she should. She simply can't stay away, and she knows he doesn't want her to. She's convinced that he won't hurt her, never would, and though he's never said the words, he feels a lot more for her than just like. She realizes, one day when she sees him in town, that she wants him to feel it. She thinks he just likes to feel anything.

She's leaving soon, going to the nearest city for college, and she thinks she's going to miss him.

She's stopped missing Stefan. She knows that means more than she could ever say.

He seeks her out one day the week before she leaves. She's out to get more boxes, and he's standing outside the store when she comes out. She can't read the expression on his face; it's kind of blank. She recognizes after a few moments of looking at him that it's something she's never seen before.

Sadness.

He asks her to the house to talk, and she can't say no. It's something she's come to understand recently is dangerous and kind of scary, but she can't say no to him anymore. She doesn't make biting remarks about his intentions, and she's immune to his comments about feeding on people, and she knows she should put her guard up around him more, unsure of what constitutes her acceptance of his actions, but she doesn't. He's the only one she's this vulnerable around anymore, and she needs it that way. No one else understands her neurosis and her feelings, because most of them are about vampires and this vampire in particular, and she can't tell a soul.

So he's her one soul, despite the fact that she's not entirely certain he has one.

"So you leave soon," he says. He's seated casually on the sofa as she paces carefully around the antiquated living room of the house that's solely his these days.

"Yeah. Next Saturday."

He looks at her in a way that has her moving towards him, and it's no mind trick whatsoever. She just wants to be near him, decided upon it on her own accord. She sits down on the sofa next to him, tucking her leg beneath her so she's turned towards him a little bit. His arm comes to rest just next to her shoulder, left bare by the fact that she's wearing a thin tank top. Her knee brushes the outside of his thigh, and she can tell they're both pretending not to notice.

He just looks at her. He studies her face like he'll forget it if she leaves and he doesn't take the time to memorize her. It unnerves her.

"What?" she asks softly. It's been a long time since she's been so ill-at-ease around him. And this is a different kind of feeling. It's not fear of what he can do to her, it's fear of what she feels for him.

"I don't want you to go anywhere."

It's a sweet sentiment that he disguises by making it sound far more selfish than it is. He makes it sound smug, like just because he wants it, she should grant him his wish. They both have to know that she's not going to let it go that easily.

"Why not?" she asks, her eyes locked with his.

He considers his answer carefully, knows that if he says too much, she'll cry and question him and he'll hate every second. So he recycles a line he's only ever used on her and no other woman.

"I really do like you, Elena," he says.

He blinks slowly, just once, and in her head, she hears his voice saying I love you. She doesn't know if that's his doing or her own, but there's a lump in her throat because he makes her want what she can't have. Something like forever with this man whose forever is a hell of a lot longer than her own.

She leaves without either of them saying goodbye, and that night as she sits on her front porch alone, she hears a sound she's gotten far too familiar with in the last year.

Wings.

She doesn't look around. She doesn't acknowledge it in any way, other than to whisper, "I love you too," into the night.

----

Two weeks after she's started college, she realizes that missing him is all-consuming. She loves him in a big, huge, unexpected way that really doesn't make any sense. It's some eternal connection that's been there since before they ever met; years and years of his history intertwining with hers in some weird way. Any blue eyes she sees aren't blue enough, and any hand that touches her doesn't heat up her skin the way his does.

She cries the entire drive to his house, resolved to the fact that there's only one way to settle this. Well, there are two, but vanquishing him is not an option; she can't bear the thought. She wipes her eyes before she knocks at the door, and when he answers, he actually looks worried.

"Elena," he says.

She brushes past him, heads straight for the kitchen, and she can tell he's completely confused. As soon as he's close to her again and about to speak, she does something she's never, ever done with him before. She throws her arms around his neck and hugs him tightly until he hugs her back. When says her name again it makes her pull away, and then their eyes lock and he's wordlessly pleading with her to tell him what she's doing.

She kisses him.

She kisses him and everything gets more intense. The feelings, the need, the decision she's made. It's all the proof she needs that she loves him and he loves her. His eyes search hers when they part, but he doesn't ask what's going on. Her breathing is fast and her hands are on his chest, and his rapid heartbeat surprises her; she always assumed he didn't have one (a heartbeat or a heart).

"Just do it," she says.

She knows he understands what she's asking, and he doesn't need to hear her reasons or her thought process. She knows he felt it all in that kiss, just like she did.

And his grin is less of a smirk and more of a smile.

She grabs a knife off the counter, cuts her hand and closes her eyes, and she tries not to think about anything other than the reason she's doing this.

The last thing in her mind before things go black, other than how oddly good it feels to have him so close, his lips on her neck and doing something so intimate (she'll say intimate, just to spin it in a less morbid way), is just one word, three syllables, and the only way she can ever have him.

Forever.

-Fin-