Disclaimer – I do not own The Vampire Diaries or any of its characters. Oh, how wish I did…
Author's Note – This is just a little two shot – the idea popped into my head and wouldn't let go! I am working on the sequel to Falling in Love the Hard Way and will begin posting it after the Fourth of July holiday.
With an irritated sigh, Elena pushed the call button for the elevator a second time. City Hall was one of the few buildings in town with an elevator and it was notoriously slow. Tired of waiting, she turned to make her way to the stairwell and slammed into a solid chest, the jolt causing her to drop her belongings.
"I'm sorry. I didn't see-," she stopped abruptly when she looked up and met Damon's amused eyes.
"Excuses, excuses," he sighed. "Elena, if you want to grope me, all you have to do is ask nicely," he smirked at her.
She rolled her eyes at him dismissively and knelt to pick up her things which were now strewn about their feet. "What are you doing here anyway?"
He crouched down next to her and began to help her. "Council business," he replied in a bored tone. Picking up a piece of paper, he examined it briefly before she snatched it away. "What are you doing here?"
Elena tucked her birth certificate back into her purse hastily before meeting his eyes. "Research."
"What kind of research?" he asked, leaning close.
She looked around cautiously and whispered, "My adoption. I didn't find anything though." She shrugged and stood up. "It was a long shot anyway." Elena could feel her throat closing and the last thing she wanted to do was cry in front of Damon – she just couldn't deal with his sarcasm today.
The ancient elevator dinged to announce its arrival and Elena hurried inside, jabbing at the door close button. The doors were easing closed before a white hand shot between them and pushed them open. Damon strolled inside and leaned against the wall casually, arms folded over his chest. "That eager to get away from me? If I had feelings, they might be hurt," he smiled at her and hit the button for the first floor.
Those piercing eyes leveled her and Elena fought the urge to fidget. "I'm not in the mood to play verbal volleyball with you, Damon." She just wanted to get home and mope in private. Maybe confront Aunt Jenna, ask her what she knew…
She had softened towards him since their road trip. Once or twice she had even caught herself admiring the way his shirt stretched over the muscles of his back or how unbelievably blue his eyes were. Honestly, before Atlanta her fear of him and his violent tendencies had completely overshadowed anything else. Now that she was no longer afraid of him, it was impossible not to notice how attractive he was. She was so conflicted by these errant thoughts; she refused to acknowledge them at all. Not even her diary was aware of the occasional inappropriate wanderings of her mind.
Suddenly the elevator shifted violently and Elena was thrown off balance. Damon caught her easily and steadied her. "You okay?" he asked, his hands clasped around her upper arms.
"Yes. What the hell just happened?" Her head whipped around, looking for an answer. The elevator had stopped and the overhead light had gone out, leaving them in total darkness.
"The elevator stopped. I think we're stuck."
Elena pulled out of Damon's grasp and searched blindly for the control panel. "Damon, you can still see, can't you? Which one is the emergency button?" she asked as she ran her fingers over the panel frantically.
"The power's out. That button won't work."
"How do you know the power's out?" She turned to face him and he could see her narrowed eyes glaring in his direction.
He released an exasperated sigh and replied, "Hello? Vampire, here. I can hear electrical currents – there are no light bulbs humming, no computers running – nothing."
"Oh…." She slumped against the wall and slid down, landing in a graceless heap, her bag in her lap. "I guess we just wait then?"
"Mmmhmm" He was smiling widely, thankful for her inferior vision. This could be fun. He sat down opposite her and stretched his legs out. He enjoyed the novelty of being able to stare at her, unseen. He watched her eyes as they tried to adjust to the darkness; the blindness was obviously making her feel vulnerable.
Fifteen minutes passed in relative silence and Damon had used the time to scrutinize her features, her gestures. He catalogued every nuance –the way she breathed, the nervous way she tucked her hair behind her ears, how her eyes drifted and became unfocused when she was thinking of something that was obviously important to her. He saw her stiffen slightly when she sensed that he had been watching her.
Damon tore his gaze away and shifted to take off his jacket. She froze, sensing the movement but not knowing what he was doing. "Relax, Elena. I'm just taking off my jacket. The rest doesn't come off until I lose several rounds of strip poker. Or after you take me out for a lobster dinner. I do have standards after all."
She shook her head and tried not to smile. He was an insufferable, arrogant, jackass but he could distract her from her problems and inner turmoil in a way that nobody else ever seemed to be able to. Realizing he could see her, she quickly wiped the amusement from her face.
It was too late, he'd seen it. He was grinning at her when he asked, "How should we pass the time? Twenty Questions?" His voice dropped seductively. "Truth or Dare?"
Intrigued, and eager to break the silence that was beginning to make her uncomfortable, she sat up and set her bag down next to her. "Why not?" She was confident she could deflect any questions that were too personal and ignore any dares that were inappropriate. Knowing Damon, they all would be. Truthfully, there were some things she wanted to know and he had just offered her the perfect opportunity to get some answers.
His eyebrows shot up at her response, he had clearly been joking. This was unexpected, but then again, she was always surprising him. "Well, ladies first. Truth or Dare, Elena?"
"Truth." That was the safer choice, right?
His mind scrolled through various options, anxious to make her squirm, see her blush. It was almost too easy to embarrass her. Glancing at her, he saw that she was already on guard and defensive. Switching tactics, he asked her something he honestly wanted an answer to. "How much do you still hate me?" he asked in a flippant offhand manner that did little to conceal how crucial her answer was to him.
She flinched slightly and responded instantly. "I don't hate you, Damon." She paused, searching for the right words. "I just don't…..understand you. Sometimes, you're absolutely horrible to people – Caroline for instance. Other times….you can be almost kind." She smiled a half smile before continuing. "You have a bit of a Jekyll and Hyde thing going on."
Damon's eyes were glued to her face; he hadn't moved a muscle while listening to her speak. It wasn't exactly glowing praise, but he relaxed at her words, smirking slightly.
"Okay, your turn. Truth or Dare?" she asked.
"Truth." He was curious to see what she wanted to know about him.
"Why are you and Stefan so….different? You both got the same start and ended up complete opposites. How did that….happen?" she asked hesitantly, worried about his reaction.
Damon sighed heavily and rolled his eyes. "That's a loaded question. Stefan wasn't always such a choir boy, Elena."
"What does that mean?" Her tone was bordering on snippy.
Taking a deep breath to calm his temper, he spoke quietly in a tight voice. "Let's just say he wasn't always on the Bambi and Thumper diet. When he drinks human blood, he's violent – uncontrollable. Ask him about it, see what he tells you." Her expression shifted from budding anger to apprehension as his words sank in.
Elena's voice was soft when she said, "That didn't really answer my question…"
Exhaling heavily, he answered abruptly. "Simple answer? He fights his nature and I don't." His voice was thick with false pleasantness when he spoke again. "Your turn – truth or dare?"
Needing to break the tension Elena smiled. "Dare."
"Come sit next to me."
"And…?" Her head was tilted toward him, poised to hear the rest of the dare, bracing herself for whatever lewd suggestion he was going to throw at her.
Chuckling lowly he said, "That was the dare, Elena. Come sit next to me." He needed to see if she trusted him enough to be close to him physically. Also, on a purely selfish level, he just wanted to sit next to her. Wanted to watch her to come to him, even if it was only in response to a childish dare.
"Okay…" Warily, she got to her feet and crossed the scant distance that separated them. Her arms were stretched in front of her and Damon caught her hand, letting her know where he was. She left her hand in his as she sat down against the wall next to him. "Thanks," she murmured as she pulled her hand away, palm and fingers brushing his in a pleasant way.
She was right next to him, her body heat warming his left side. "So, it's my turn. I'll go with….dare."
He saw her grin widely and turn to him. "I want to see your vampire face."
Damon burst out laughing. "What!"
Her face lit with amusement. "I'm curious! I've gotten a glimpse of Stefan's, but he always turns away. C'mon – that's my dare." She fixed a stern look in his direction and raised an eyebrow challengingly.
Damon sobered instantly at the thought of Stefan's darker nature making an appearance in front of Elena. Stefan didn't possess one-tenth of the control Damon had long since mastered. Just how close had his weak little brother come to tearing into her slender neck? Unwittingly, he fulfilled her request, his canines lengthened and dark veins snaked around his eyes.
His head turned in her direction, and the budding rage he felt dissipated instantly. "Well, I'm doing it, but you can't see it," he mocked with a nod of his head.
"Wait wait wait!" She dug into her pocket and pulled out her forgotten cell phone. She flipped it open and pointed it in his direction. "Oh…" She leaned closer to get a better look, completely unafraid. The delicate tracery of veins around his eyes wasn't quite so fierce when viewed up close. Without conscious thought, she lifted her hand and followed one of the slightly raised lines with her fingertip.
To say that he was enjoying her gentle focused attention was an understatement. He concentrated on taking unneeded breaths, keeping still. Her lips were parted as she studied him and he wanted nothing more than to pull her soft lower lip into his mouth and lave it with the tip of his tongue.
Fixated on her exploration, Elena's hand slid down his cheek and she tapped on his jaw line gently. "Teeth?" she asked quietly, her eyes flipping to his.
A dare was a dare. He smiled widely and heard her inhale sharply. She hesitated for a moment before curiosity got the better of her and leaned even closer, practically climbing into his lap. Noticing her position, she pulled back. "Sorry, that was rude." Snapping her phone shut, she relaxed against the wall. "Thanks for showing me."
"Mmmhmm." The veins and fangs receded and Damon willed his spiraling lust to do the same. He regarded her keenly and asked, "So, the fangs don't bother you?"
She shrugged lightly. "Surprisingly, no. My answer might be different if we referring to someone else, a vampire I didn't know, but with you – no." Elena couldn't pinpoint exactly when the change had occurred, but he was definitely no longer a source of fear. Actually, she was more afraid of herself. She had been far too comfortable touching him, it had felt almost natural.
Damon's eyes were riveted to her profile as she spoke. Her cheeks were tinged pink and her breaths were a bit deeper that they had been. He could swear that could sense the faintest stirrings of arousal within her. It was a delicious thought, one he turned over in his mind leisurely.
Dropping his voice an octave, he tipped his head in her direction and spoke directly into her ear, eyes narrowing in predatory fashion when he felt her shiver. "I believe it's my turn?"
"Oh – um - yeah. Truth or dare?" Turning her head she was startled by his proximity, she could feel his warm breath on her cheek.
Her heart stuttered in her chest and thumped chaotically. Yep, he was definitely having an effect on her. Grateful for the cover of darkness, he inched closer, his mouth millimeters from hers and whispered, "Dare."