set at some Nebulous Point between 1x08 and 1x09.

Lexi's dead (again, anyway, this time probably rather more permanently than she'd like), Stefan's out for coffee, notebook paper, and possibly Squirrel, and Elena pops by the mansion for a chat. With Stefan. Whom we've just established is out buying groceries/murdering puppies. Squirrels. Whatever.

Which means Damon will probably have to keep her company.

(for the sake of this fic, we'll need to pretend that Damon already knows that Elena knows he's the one who killed Lexi, and furthermore, that Elena knows that there're some people in town out for vampire blood. which she could probably have deduced on her own after that whole Shoot-and-Stake Incident at the grill.)

[i own an ian somerhalder refrigerator magnet, which is good enough for me. as for the show? not so much.]

Damon's flipping through Stefan's diary (see: dull, pedestrian opus), merrily invading his brother's privacy for the simple Thrill of Indiscretion, and he's just reached a particularly nauseating bit of purple-ish prose detailing the softness of Elena's skin (which is actually a more-or-less welcome change of pace from all the Wallowing Bitchery –honestly, Stefan can be such a girl) when his supernaturally-enhanced hearing discerns the soft, even tread of the very young lady whose lips, apparently, are 'supple warmth, full and sweet' (note-to-self: Stef definitely needs to get laid).

He tosses the journal carelessly onto Stefan's bed and moves to peer out the window, supplementing the distinctive scraping steadiness of her stride with the corresponding visual of her hurrying up the walk in dark flats, blue dress flagging behind her as she pops up the stairs and disappears onto the porch. He listens to her shuffling in front of the door, hesitating for a long moment before she raps softly once, twice against the aging wood. If he focuses, he can hear her breathing, the pattern heavy and ragged, as if she'd run all the way here. Flicking his gaze outward, seeing no vehicle he recognizes as hers, he wonders if maybe she did.

Ten, maybe fifteen seconds later, he hears her twisting the brass knob, pushing through the door (which is always, always open; after all, what the hell could possibly get in that a couple of vampires needed to worry about keeping out?), tentatively stepping inside. He allows himself a wry grin when the sonorous rasp of her voice drifts through the house, Stefan's name ricocheting off of decaying wood paneling and leaping upstairs, ringing through the halls and spilling into empty bedrooms through keyholes until the mansion is all but filled with the sound.

Damon wearies quickly of her siren call (to his brother), and in the instant following his decision to greet her (he wouldn't want to be an ungracious host, would he?) he's downstairs, smirking from his excellent new vantage point directly behind her. (Goodness he enjoys being dead.)

Elena smells like rain and bubblegum and sweat and also, he detects with a touch of annoyance, faintly of vervain.

"Stef--!" She startles back when she turns and discovers him standing so close, and he spares her a crooked grin that twists her expression of surprise immediately into one of guarded hostility. "You," she sneers, endearingly innocuous.

"Me." He confirms, menacingly playful. Though she clearly wishes she was doing otherwise, she holds his gaze, afraid perhaps, to let him out of her sight. He thinks her wibbling bravado is cute.

"I'm here to see Stefan." She informs him coolly, a tacit dismissal he blithely ignores.


"You really shouldn't be out and about by yourself at night, Elena. Don't you know," his voice dips conspiratorially, "there are dangerous people in this town." She snorts disdainfully, a flippant gesture belied by the subtle tautening of her entire body.

"Like you, maybe?" He hefts a brow and shakes his head, feigning disappointment.

"You keep forgetting, Miss Gilbert, that I haven't been a 'people' in a good long while." He grins broadly. "And I'm hardly 'dangerous.'" She scoffs, outraged, and opens her mouth to argue this point (probably unkindly, in spite of the feelings he—yeah, okay—doesn't have), but he heads her off, deftly laying a finger out across her lips (which, incidentally, actually are rather 'full and supple,' now he's thinking about it). "To you, anyway." He pauses for effect. "Yet." Something pulls low and tight in his abdomen when he accidentally grazes his thumb along her lower lip as he's drawing away from her, which is irritating for oh-so-many more reasons than one, not the least of which is that he's definitely not expecting the reaction. "And anyway, I was actually referring to the cattle –sorry, sorry, the humans trying to kill dear, dear Stefanie."

Elena responds pretty much the way he expects her to, glossing right over his cute new pet name for Stefan in favor of fixing him with a withering glare he supposes is meant to communicate unto him her Righteous Indignation at –oh, golly, any number of silly, trifling things.

"They wouldn't be after him if you'd stop killing innocent people." He thinks he likes the way her slender fingers are curling into fists, as if she's entertaining the idea of attacking him. She won't, of course. She's intelligent enough to know better. (Probably.) But he likes that she wants to.

"Hey, now. I'm doing everything in my humble power to take care of the problem, remember? Even sacrificed his oldest, bestest buddy to keep him safe. Really, my selfless benevolence is staggering." The expression she wears in the wake of this proclamation is equal parts horror and revulsion, and he meets it with remorseless indifference.

"What is wrong with you? She-she was…she was his friend and you killed her."

"Stefie's a big boy. He'll get over it." She bumps right over the remark, undeterred.

"You killed her, Damon! You killed her when she hadn't done anything wrong, and you don't even—don't you know what this is doing to him? Do you have any idea how much he's hurting? How much he's suffering? How…how could you?"

"Pretty much the old-fashioned way. Duplicity, betrayal, wooden stake." He decides (charitably) not to punish her when she forgets herself, closing the expanse of inches between them and raising her arm to strike him. He definitely sees it coming, has ample opportunity to stop her, even, but he (generously) lets it happen, head snapping left when her fingers score across the opposite cheek so her hand won't break against the hardness of his jaw.

(This girl and her spunk.)

She retreats immediately, shaking her head in mild panic, astonishment underlying hard resolve, and then, interestingly, he catches the bitter-sharp tang of salt, wrinkling his nose briefly in distaste as her eyes begin to water. He waits in patient silence while Elena composes herself, breathing deeply, dragging the heel of her palm over her eyes before any tears have the opportunity to win free. Eager to salvage her dignity, she proceeds to glower at him for all she's worth, and for precisely one half of one instant, he experiences a twinge of Something that's alarmingly like…ugh, regret. (That's new. And revolting.)

"Is this the part where I feel bad? Apologize? Promise to make amends for my wicked, wicked ways?" He steps right back into her bubble, gleefully impudent and very much invading her personal space (it thrills him how perfectly absurd humans are about the sanctity of maintaining this distance), movements lazy and languid as he catches her at her elbows and begins to walk her backward, a slow, (probably, for her) harrowing migration that ends when her shoulders hit peeling wallpaper. "Surely you know me at least well enough by now to know that that's not going to happen." Damon looms over her in an affably sinister sort of way, smiling pleasantly as he lifts his arms to trap her against the wall.

He experiences a moment of (the most exquisite) sensory overload while she's defiantly setting her jaw, steeling herself; the electric-sweet smell of rushing adrenaline, the deafening pound of her heart throwing itself against her chest, the heady, spicy spike of fear, warming her blood, speeding her breath—

"You're a monster." Damon considers this accusation thoughtfully for a moment.

"Yes, well. Vampire." He gifts her with an angelic smile that makes her lip curl. "Sort of in the job description." She's clearly terrified; her breath trips and staggers against his lips as he dips toward her, but here's a curiosity: Elena's refusing to shrink back (again). She's got both hands braced at his chest, straining with every ounce of her meager strength to hold him at bay. It's a hopeless futility, of course, but it's intriguing nevertheless.

And then,

"Stefan's not a monster." She asserts with a truly disgusting measure of faith, seething, and he meditates, briefly, on ripping out her throat. Just a quick flick of the wrist, a twitch of his fingers, and she'd be happily burbling away, drowning in her own blood, unable to speak or scream or do much more than gape soundlessly, maybe cry a little.

For the sake of his Diabolical Master Plan (and for its sake alone), he settles against ending her life.

For the moment.

"Stefan," he says, calm, restrained, smiling serenely, "is a freak of nature. What's the fun in immortality if you're gonna be off brooding all the time? The guy can suck the fun out of anything." The heat of her renewed indignation brings a furious blush to her cheeks, and the air is suddenly heavy with the copper-rich scent of Dinner. (Oh, dear.) "He's so terribly depressing. And talk about pathetic –subsisting on cute, fuzzy creatures when he could be doing his civic duty and helping to cut down the surplus population." He knows he's basically rambling at this point, but the smell of her blood is driving him crazy; all he can think about is the slender, creamy-smooth line of her throat, the mouth-watering perfume of her skin. "And actually, since we're on the subject," (the effort of holding her gaze is agonizing when all he wants to do is press her into the wall, really get her blood pumping, maybe take a small bite--) "did my beloved brother tell you he locked me in a basement for days and days and days, with the intention of leaving me to shrivel and rot in a coffin? That's no way to treat family." Elena clearly senses that something's wrong (the antelope always intuitively knows when the lounging lions are hungry); she's perfectly still, lip caught between white teeth, keeping her faithfully silent. "Plus, he stabbed me." He murmurs distractedly. "Twice."

"Damon." She says, tremblingly, but he's already leaning in, lips very nearly against her delicious pulse point, throbbing its tormenting invitation, and he wonders, rapt, what she tastes like. He wonders if she'll taste anything like Katherine, if he'll even be able to remember for comparison's sake. Mostly, though, he wonders what the hell is taking him so long to rip that damnable necklace from her neck and sink his teeth into her luscious throat. He feels his eyes bleeding red at about the same time his head begins swimming with the Hunger, and his stomach tightens painfully when he slides his palm over her heart (beating a wild rhythm against her breast) and breathes her in.

He's so close; he can practically feel the warm liquid sliding down his throat, the soft acquiescence of her body sinking into his embrace, her inevitable surrender to his every (very likely sordid) whim, and…and this girl, he muses blackly, is far more dangerous than she knows.

Drawn hypnotically nearer, he breathes her name in a puff of cool air against her neck and his teeth graze along overheated skin, and his Diabolical Master Plan's going straight down the crapper, apparently, because there's no way he's stopping now, and he shoves her back, hard, against the wall, pressing the line of his body firmly into hers, and she tenses and whispers "don't," lightly, pleadingly, barely at all, and he…

…he…he doesn't.

(How ridiculously quaint.)

Damon's teeth close harmlessly over her pulse, nipping without breaking skin, and she exhales shakily, slumping somewhat in his grasp. He lingers for an instant or three longer than he should before he finally pulls away, and when he does she's looking up at him like she's never seen him before, and he's grinning down at her like he's just discovered something veeeeery interesting. (Which, incidentally, he has.)

"Huh." He says, and cocks his head to one side, fascinated.

"Get. Away from me." Elena commands, menacing in her own meek, unthreatening sort of way. His smirk tilts up cruelly, but he steps away from her, yielding, hands raised in a(n admittedly half-hearted) placating gesture.

"I don't know about you," he begins, cutting gingerly through the tension, "but I am famished. Would you like some coffee while we're waiting for Stefan?"

"Go to hell." She spits, spinning abruptly on her heel and very nearly sprinting for the front door.

Absently, as she flies over the threshold, he admires the enticing, shapely length of her legs, bare from mid-thigh down.

Clearly some adjustments to his Nefarious Design are going to be necessary.

(Damn it all.)

And now, a POEM:

everyone has their vices

and mine comprises three—

sucrose, lactose, and

(yes, of course)

that devilish caffeine.