Disclaimer: Vampire Diaries isn't mine. I wish Damon was, though.
A/N: I've been insomniac lately. So here's what comes out of it. I'm hoping it makes sense.
This is set sometime in 1x17, 18, 19, 20
Elena woke up with a startled gasp. Her eyes adjusted to the darkness. It was late at night and someone was creeping around.
"Sorry," Damon's droll voice cut through the darkness from the other side of the couch, "Didn't mean to wake you."
Elena sat up and peered over the back of the couch. She frowned at him, her eyes raking over his bare chest, the loose pajama bottoms, the tousled hair, and the sleepy hooded blue eyes. Why he had to look so damn good was beyond her. Why she couldn't seem to take her eyes off of him was even more of a puzzle. But there she was, half hidden by darkness, her face behind the Salvatores' couch, peeking at one of Mystic Falls's most ineligible bachelors.
Most dangerous bachelors, she reminded herself.
Damon followed her gaze, as she looked him over. He almost felt self-conscious and wondered if he should throw a shirt on. But he could see in the dark. And he could see the faint blush on her cheeks. He could see how her fingers tightened around the top of the couch.
No, he was definitely not putting a shirt on. Almost subconsciously, he started rubbing a hand up and down his chest and stomach in a sleepy, relaxed movement.
Elena blinked away from the movement that kept dragging her eyes back to the long lean perfection of him. Instead she tilted an eyebrow at him. "Up for a midnight snack?" she asked with just a hint of sarcasm.
He twisted his lips in a wry smile, crossed his arms over his chest casually and leaned against the doorframe. "Are you offering?" he retorted.
Elena rolled her eyes at him with a small chuckle. "In your dreams, Damon," she grinned. It was still a wonder to her how she had developed this strange tentative friendship with Damon. But ever since they had put their heads together to save Stefan from Pearl, she had started to slowly (very slowly) trust him. And then, there had been that moment when he had stepped in for Stefan at the Founder's Day Ball. Dancing with Damon had been…exhilarating.
Not that he was ever going to know that.
But it just added one more thing on the growing list of "Damon's not so bad after all" list. Not that he was going to know about that either.
Then, they had thrown Stefan into lock up downstairs. She knew it was necessary. Stefan was getting out of control, the Founder's council was getting suspicious and even Damon had to admit, he was risking exposing himself.
So with Stefan locked in a cage in the basement, Elena had started spending her nights at the Salvatore manor to be close by in case anything happened. And that also meant she had started spending a lot of her time with Damon.
She settled back into her little cocoon of sheets and pillows on the couch and closed her eyes. She heard him saunter over towards her, peering down at her from the back of the couch.
"You know," she mumbled, "Some of us actually need sleep."
Damon could see the teasing smile on her lips. He licked his lips in response and felt the fangs start to elongate. He shook the feeling away. This was Elena, for crying out loud.
One eye cracked open. "Hello? Human here."
He leaned forward, resting his forearms over the back of the couch so he was practically hanging over her. "We can always change that, hmm?"
Both eyes stared up at him now. Such beautiful, dark brown eyes.
"You're a dick." She frowned up at him. Okay, even with that, she still had beautiful eyes. And he liked that she never backed down from him. It was stupid, but admirable.
"So, why are you here on the couch? Stefan does have a room, y'know," he mused.
"I…well…his room…without him…it just seems so depressing."
He gave her an undecipherable look, then shook his head. It had been so long since he attached any sort of meaning to anything. A bed was a bed was a bed. A place to sleep in whenever he felt like it. Then again, he had lived for over a century. When you've been alive for that long, sentimentality simply lost all meaning. "If you say so." He drummed his fingers over the top of the couch as silence descended between them. "All right then, seeing as this non-conversation is so scintillating, I'm outta here."
"Where are you going?"
He gave her a look that said the very obvious. "Hello, vampire here."
She grimaced at him, "Ugh, spare me the details."
He walked away with a chuckle. "Sweet dreams, Elena." He called out before he disappeared into the darkness.
"I wonder what it's like to hop trains," she mused, staring into her mug of dark chocolate. He had called a truce by bringing her a mug of hot chocolate tonight and starting the fire in the fireplace. It had been an unseasonably cold spring night and she was secretly glad he noticed.
Damon tilted an eyebrow at her, "Hop trains?"
"Y'know, just going from one to another, riding, going on and on and on…never having to feel like you're stuck in one place," she gave him a quizzical look. "I bet you've done that before."
He shrugged and watched his scotch swirl around in his glass. "Sure."
"What's it like?"
He gave her a measuring look. "Endless."
"Aw, c'mon, Damon, I'm stuck here in Mystic Falls and I've only ever really known Mystic Falls. Humor me." She playfully threw a pillow at him. He caught the pillow at the last possible second before it hit his face. The sheet smelled of the hint of cologne Elena wore.
He threw the pillow back at her and she caught it with a little laugh. "Damon, c'mon. All the experiences, the new sights, the people you meet…it had to be exciting."
"I mean it. It's endless. You could literally go from one train to another, hop off in one city, then get on the train again and move on." He didn't tell her what he did in those cities. The experiences, the sights, the people he…met. It would have been too easy to remind her that one of those people he so casually "met" as he criss-crossed the continental United States and the world had been her mother.
She was looking at him in that way she did when she was trying to understand him. Her eyebrows knitted together, her eyes inquisitive, her lips pursed, and her head tilted to the side. "You didn't like it?"
"It was as grand as it was supposed to be, Elena," he sighed. "But it's endless. It never stops. You don't know where you're going, and you don't know where you came from. You have nowhere to go back to. But you just keep going."
At that moment, in the flickering light of the fire, Elena could have sworn that Damon looked…tired. He had that far away look in his eye as if reliving memories that he would rather forget. And then it dawned on her that he was talking about his life.
Immortality was endless. And when he had no point in living—no destination—it can seem like an endless train ride, stopping at stations, in towns, but having to go on anyway. Because as time went by, as everything changed, he never changed. And he would be forced to leave again.
"You have a home here, you know."
Damon gave Elena a little smile. Leave it to her to be so perceptive. But that wasn't true. Home wasn't always a place. A destination wasn't always a place.
Sometime in the last few days, he only thought of the manor as home because he knew she would be there. He looked at her as she slowly blew into her mug to cool the hot chocolate. He felt an unfamiliar warming in the vicinity of where his heart should have been as she sipped gingerly at her chocolate. He smiled inwardly. No, home wasn't always a place.
He got up to leave and stretched languidly, perfectly aware of how her eyes followed his movements. "Go hop trains, Elena. I promise you, if you join me, the possibilities would be…" he grinned suggestively at her, "…endless."
"You know, at this rate, I'm going to be an insomniac," whispered Elena, her eyes still closed, her hands tucked under her cheek. It was the fourth night in a row that Damon had woken her up in the middle of the night.
"I keep offering the night to you, Elena," drawled Damon, "You keep turning me down."
Elena opened her eyes to find Damon slouched into a loveseat across from her. As always, he had on a different set of pajama bottoms and no shirt. He had a playful smirk on his face. She rolled her eyes at him, "Still not tempted."
And as she said it, a little voice inside her head whispered, liar. But she ignored it. She blamed it on the fact that she was barely awake.
Damon shrugged. "We could work on that."
"No, thank you," Elena declared, as she snuggled deeper into her sheets and turned her back to him.
She heard his chuckle and rolled her eyes.
Damon got up from where he was seated. He had spent at least the last half hour watching her sleep. She looked so peaceful and innocent. He was almost sorry to be in her life. Almost.
He sauntered across the room, intending to head towards the kitchen.
"Wait, are you leaving already?" Elena peered at him over her shoulder, pushing the blankets down.
Damon stopped in his tracks. To be honest with himself, he couldn't leave her if he wanted to at this point. But she didn't know that. So instead, he grinned mischievously at her, "Do my ears deceive me? Is that…disappointment I hear in your voice, Elena? Miss me already?"
Elena bit her lower lip. She hadn't intended to blurt out her question. She felt like such a fool. She wanted to smack her hand on her forehead. Stupid, Elena. Just give him one more thing to annoy you about. But of course, she'd expected him to stay for a little while. Last night, they had laughed over chess, hot chocolate (his scotch) and train hopping. The night before, Damon had told her stories about being a construction worker in New York working on one of those high rises.
But now, as he sauntered lazily back towards her, she saw the triumphant grin on his face. She wanted to wipe that grin off and maybe smother him with her pillow. If one could smother a vampire.
"No way," she replied flippantly, pulling the covers over her head. "Just wanted to make sure I was actually gonna get enough sleep tonight."
"Get up, I got us something," he called. But before she could protest, Damon grabbed her hand and hauled her right off the couch. She was so surprised and out of balance that Elena could only throw her arms around him for support. Before she knew it she was pressed up against a warm chest, her head somehow cradled between his neck and shoulder, her lips just touching his pulse.
She was frozen in shock and at the same time wanting to melt against him. Subconsciously she inhaled the scent of him and moaned in pleasure. He smelled like…Damon. Like she always imagined he would. He smelled like cool breezes and evergreens, with just a hint of a dark spice.
"Elena." His voice was a taut warning.
Damon didn't know how this happened. Well, he knew how she could have lost his balance. What he didn't understand was how he seemed somehow unable to unlock his arms from around her. How his entire body was stiff with surprise and yet so gentle because he had her in his arms.
Damon's voice broke through the haziness in Elena's mind. Oh no, Elena, what are you doing? She untangled her arms from around his neck and pushed away from him. "Don't do that again!" she hissed.
"I could say the same for you!" he growled.
"And why don't you put a shirt on or something!" she retorted.
Damon was slightly taken aback by that statement. Then he smiled. Slowly. "Does it bother you that much?"
"You're – "
"Dashing. Charming. Irresistable." He smiled suggestively at her.
"Self-serving, psychopathic, annoying." She countered.
He pursed his lips and gave her a fang-baring grin. "You didn't seem to mind my company the last three nights," he drawled, placing both his hands on his hips.
Elena couldn't resist the urge to just check him out one more time. What, with him standing there half naked, hands on his hips, his irritatingly handsome face just inches from her. She let her eyes rove all over him, before finally locking with his startlingly blue ones. "You didn't manhandle me the last three nights," she bit out, also putting her hands on her hips, matching him. But she couldn't exactly hide the blush that stained her cheeks.
"I think you secretly like it."
Elena narrowed her eyes at Damon. He was so infuriating. That smirk, the twinkly eyes. How was it that he was so gorgeous but so annoying? And now his eyes were traveling up and down her body, too. Elena wished she had decided to wear sweats instead of a pair of sleeping shorts and a tank top. She felt absolutely undressed by those eyes.
She put both hands on his chest and shoved as hard as she could. "I don't secretly dislike it."
"Oh, Elena, get over yourself." He drawled, not budging, enjoying the fact that this girl thought she could push him around. "Believe it or not, I've slept without my clothes on for more than a century. It's not purely for your benefit."
Elena gaped at him in disbelief, then narrowed her eyes in sheer annoyance. "Ugh, I don't know what I could have expected from an egotistical maniac like you."
"Careful, Elena," he cautioned with a measured voice. "At least I kept my pants on."
He started to walk away, but turned just in time to catch the pillow that Elena had flung towards him. "Oh, and by the way, I had some cupcakes for a midnight snack for you in the kitchen for tonight. But since I'm self-serving, psychopathic and annoying, I think I have the prerogative to change my mind."
It was absolutely quiet. Elena focused all of her senses to listening for any signs of life in the Salvatore manor. Well, in the general area of the living room of the Salvatore manor which was as far as she could really hear.
Elena pursed her lips. She was disappointed. I guess there were no more midnight snack rendezvous with Damon. Not that she should really care all that much anyway. She should be worried that Stefan was taking so long to recover from purging the human blood out of his system.
"I was right, you did miss me."
Elena sat up on the couch. "Oh, you're here."
"Well, you called, I came. I thought that was how that whole thing worked."
"I didn't think you would have heard me."
He gave her a look and tapped his ear. "Vampire, Elena, remember?"
He threw himself onto the couch next to her and stretched his arms over the back of the couch.
"I suppose I should be thankful you have a shirt on?"
He rolled his eyes at her exaggeratedly. "Right, because it had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that I was outside when you called my name."
"What were you doing outside?"
Damon sighed heavily. "Fine, I was out hunting. Or…or…better yet, I was dropping off one of my nightly midnight snacks back home. Is that the answer you wanted to hear?"
"Ugh," Elena groaned, pushing Damon away. "Can you be serious for a second?"
He turned to face her, "Can you relax a little? It's the middle of the night, Elena, what could possibly be so serious right now?"
"Look, I'm worried about Stefan," she started.
"Of course you are." He scoffed sarcastically.
Elena glared at Damon. She hated these moments when he patronized her. "Just listen."
He waved a hand in the air in a random gesture that Elena took to mean as 'go ahead'.
"How long does this…detox…usually take?" she asked, a frown furrowing her brows.
He rolled his eyes exaggeratedly at her. "Do I look like I would know how long a "detox" would take?" he asked drily.
Damon gave her a displeased look but settled back into the couch, perfectly aware that Elena had somehow tucked her feet against his leg. "Fine. I'm not sure. A few days, give or take?"
"It's been five days!"
"So give him more days!" He was getting exasperated by this conversation. Elena was here, sitting next to him on the couch, her long brown hair messy and tumbling all around her, and here they were talking about Stefan.
Elena huffed loudly and fell back against her pillows. It was almost intimate, really, the way she was laying on the couch her toes just underneath Damon's leg as he sat at the end of the couch. "I'm just worried that he's not getting better."
"Elena, we're vampires. I don't know what you mean by better, but in my opinion, it's better for him to drink human blood—in moderation, of course, we wouldn't want to get in trouble with the Council and all the Mystic Falls drama that goes along with that—but it's much…healthier for his system."
Elena sat up to face Damon squarely. "You don't know Stefan. He's different from…you."
He twisted on the couch so they were directly face to face. He leaned closer to her, so close that their noses almost touched. "You don't know Stefan. You don't know the whole story. You don't know me."
Elena leaned ever closer so that they were a hair's breadth away. "Then tell me the story."
Damon looked at Elena with a dangerous glint in his eye. "No."
"You drive me crazy," she growled.
Damon gave her a lazy smile before leaning back against the couch. He stretched his arms along the back of the couch once again, letting his fingers slightly graze across her shoulders. She stiffened and sat up straight, her back no longer touching the couch.
He gave her a sideways glance, amused to notice that she was suddenly extremely interested in the tips of her hairs.
"Elena," he murmured, leaning closer, "Do I make you…nervous?"
She looked at him behind a curtain of dark brown hair. "Isn't that what you want?" she countered. "To throw me off? Confuse me? Seduce me?"
"Careful, Elena," he warned, as he brought a finger to slowly push the hair away from her face. "I might just have to live up to what you think of me."
"Why are you always warning me about you?"
He let a deep, low growl resonate as he leaned ever closer to her. He knew his eyes and face were changing. He could feel the tingling in his fangs, the desire, the bloodlust, overcoming his humanity. "Because you should never, ever forget what I am. You should be nervous, Elena, because I can have you any time I want."
"But you won't." she whispered, although her voice was wavering, unsure. She could feel the heat of Damon's breath brush her cheek. She was too scared to look at him, knowing from the growl that emanated from him, that he had transformed.
"And you're far too sure."
"I've stayed here for the last few nights and you haven't done anything to me."
Suddenly, with lightning speed, Damon had his hand around her neck. Elena didn't even have a moment to process what was going on before she was pressed against the back of the couch and he was straddling her. "You need to learn your lesson." He hissed. His eyes were blood red, his fangs long and sharp.
He was terrifying.
Elena couldn't breathe. She grabbed at his wrists, struggled to pull them off from her. But it was impossible. She felt like she was trying to pull against an iron rod. "Please," she cried. Tears were streaming down her face. "Damon…" she gasped. "Please, you're hurting me."
All of a sudden, air flooded through her lungs as Damon flew off of her so fast he was across the room in the blink of an eye. He stood there across the room, perfectly still, like a dark shadow.
"Go home, Elena," his voice was cold, void of any emotion. "You think you know me, you think you know Stefan, but you can't possibly understand."
And with that he disappeared into the darkness leaving Elena shaken.
"Home sweet home, huh?"
"I got those cupcakes for you," he said teasingly.
Elena put down her hair brush and got up from her dresser to face him. "You tried to kill me."
"Hmm…so I owe you…dinner? For two weeks?"
She glared at Damon, wondering why it didn't seem weird to her at all to be talking to him in the middle of the night anymore.
He gave her one of those slow lazy smiles. "Besides, I don't try to kill people. I kill them. Or I don't. And obviously I didn't kill you. So what do you say?"
He was oozing charm tonight. The Damon that was both incredibly irresistible and yet utterly unlikable at the same time. She hated when he thought she could use those eyes and that smile on her. She crossed both arms in front of her and tilted her head in expectation. "This isn't a joke, Damon. What do you want?"
Damon shrugged expansively. What did he want? Good question. He wasn't sure really. He had somehow just ended up here, in Elena's bedroom, in the middle of the night. Because he had missed seeing her dark little head peeking from beneath the sheets in their living room. Maybe because he hadn't actually expected to not see her all day. Maybe he just really wanted to annoy her. Maybe he just wanted to be around her.
He bit his lip. "I don't know," he replied honestly. "I just…I guess…I don't know."
Elena watched as he shifted his weight from one foot to another, how he avoided her eyes. How he looked just as confused as he sounded. This Damon, this unsure, honest, confused Damon was one she could almost like.
"Maybe you came to apologize?" she suggested.
He gave her a smile that said she was clearly out of her mind. "Nah, I'm pretty sure that's not it."
Elena rolled her eyes at him, and put her hands on her hips. "So, again…what are you doing here?"
Again, he seemed at a loss. He fidgeted with his jacket a little bit. "I just wanted to say that, y'know, Stefan, he's going to be all right."
That was the last thing Elena expected him to say, so she gave him a small conciliatory smile, "Um…that's good."
"And if there's anything worth trying to be good for, it's you, Elena. So I know…that no matter how hard this is going for Stefan right now…I know he's going to fight for you." He swallowed briefly and then looked at her. Their eyes locked and there was something so deep, dark, and lonely in their depths, something that even the semi-darkness of the night couldn't hide that almost made Elena stop breathing from agony. "You're worth the fight."
He crossed the two steps that separated them and suddenly Elena felt the way she did when they were dancing at the Founders Ball. Like all the air had been taken out of the room and replaced with a charged electric feel. He cupped her chin and lifted her face to meet his. His finger trailed across her jaw and down the side of her neck, tracing her pulse with an expert light touch. He couldn't possibly have missed the way her heart beat had quickened, the way she could barely take a breath.
He slowly, very slowly, tilted her head to the side, exposing more of her neck to him. Elena knew that she should be scared. Her experience yesterday told her she should be scared. But she couldn't. She was too busy trying not to fall into Damon, trying to resist this magnetic pull inside of her that just told her to simply melt against him.
His fingers were still working their way down her neck and across her collarbone. His forefinger made lazy circles around the sensitive area right in between her collarbones. "I left bruises," he murmured, his voice low and husky, filled with some kind of dark emotion.
Then he bent his head slowly. Elena couldn't have gotten away if she had wanted to. She closed her eyes in anticipation of the pain that was sure to come when Damon bit her. She realized that her hands were clutching at his forearms, her fingers digging into his skin.
But he kissed her neck instead.
A soft kiss, like a butterfly's caress, that literally had her tingling all over.
"I'm sorry," he whispered, his lips still touching her skin. Then he moved on to the next bruise and kissed it again. And then to the next. And the next.
Elena knew that if she hadn't been holding on to him so tight, she would have fallen to the floor by now. He had one hand buried in her hair, pulling her head back, the other just around the small of her back, supporting her. She finally understood what weak in the knees meant. Finally understood what it meant to literally melt into a puddle on the floor.
She couldn't remember the last time she felt like this. Not even with Stefan.
Her eyes flew open. Stefan!
"Damon," she whispered, her voice hoarse. "Stop."
He stilled. Damon didn't know the limits of his control until he had Elena in his arms like this. Until he had her pulse beating just beneath the thin soft skin underneath his lips. But this—this pleasure-pain—he could go on forever.
But he knew he had to stop. Not just because she had said so. But because he knew she wasn't meant to be with someone like him. The bruises on her neck were a testament to that.
So, with all the control and willpower he had, he stepped away from her.
"I'm sorry," he whispered. And he meant it. He was sorry that he was the way he was. He was sorry that he wasn't the better man. He was sorry that he had hurt her. He was sorry that the world was cruel enough to have a Katherine and an Elena who would forever taunt and tease him in his dreams and nightmares.
"No," he whispered. "Don't say anything. I'm sorry, Elena. I'll go. I didn't mean to…" He stopped talking, just looked at her standing there with her hair wild and tumbled, her dark eyes hazy and confused, her lips parted as if she wanted to say something but no words came to mind.
She looked beautiful.
Elena couldn't read the millions of thoughts that seemed to flicker through Damon's eyes. But tonight, she had realized that Damon had a gentle side. A side that he always kept in check. Maybe a side that he had buried so deep because of Katharine, because of what Katharine had made him.
"I just have one thing to say," she whispered. "You're worth fighting for, too."
He gave her an unreadable look. Then slowly, like the mercurial master that he was, he smiled. He gave her a smile that was half-crazed and half-amused. "I think it's too late for me."
Then he turned to the window, "Good night, Elena," he smiled. "Your cupcakes are in the kitchen downstairs." And with that, he jumped out her window and disappeared into the dark, leaving Elena wondering who would fight for Damon.