Summary: And she wishes that the long strip of road never ends – that the whole road trip never ends. Because then, she'll always be by Damon's side. Based on episode 3

~ The Forever Road ~

The sun shines hot and brilliant as they speed through the highway, Damon at the wheel. He's got the air conditioning on full blast, and Elena's grateful for the fresh, deliciously cold air. Alaric's sleeping on the back seat so, this time around, she's the one sitting next to Damon.

They haven't talked much since they left Duke University, preferring to enjoy each others company silently. That's one of the aspects of their relationship that she misses the most, Elena muses, so she sits back and enjoys it while she can.

Damon's hand is fiddling with the radio as he whistles a tune that makes her smile. He catches her looking at him from the corner of his eyes and he smirks back at her, wiggling his eyebrows. She rolls her eyes at him – like she can't be more annoyed by his antics when, in fact, it's just the opposite – but a traitorous, breathless little laugh escapes her lips anyways. Damon hears it, and the corners of his mouth lift up just that much more.

That doesn't escape Elena's notice, and suddenly her stomach's doing all those pleasant flip-flops again and her heart's racing a marathon.

And just then there's Elvis singing "I'm all shook up" loudly on the radio. Damon turns to Elena, eyebrows all up. "Are you all shook up, Elena?" He asks her, his smirk hinting at a thousand of different things at the same time. "You certainly look like you are. I could help you with that," his voice descends to a warm, persuasive whisper with just a hint of teasing, and he does that little eye thing that she both loves and hates. She just has to laugh then, and she hits his arm playfully with a jokingly reprimanding, "Damon!" that comes off a tad-bit shaken because she's laughing so much – or is it because her heart's beating so hard it's truly shaking her up and down?

She conveniently decides not to think about that.

He pretends to be hurt and she pretends to be annoyed with him, assuring him that he'll "get over it. You're a big boy, Damon" but inside she's all warm and fuzzy and strangely elated. She knows they're far from their normal dynamic – it's still too soon and there's still so many bridges between them – and that it's going to take a while before they're truly 'Damon and Elena' again. But they're already joking around, and things are not so awkward anymore and, for right now, that's alright with Elena. It's a start.

She leans back in her seat and props her feet on the dashboard; she figures that, since the car ride isn't going to end anytime soon, she might as well get comfortable.

The sun's still right up there in the sky, and Elena feels strangely comforted by this sense of lasting – like they're going on forever.

And right now, this kind of forever – in the car with nothing but the road in front of them – is a forever she wouldn't mind living.

She's living it now, she realizes, and while this road trip is far from being over, Elena knows she has to make the best of it while she still can.

She looks at Damon. "Where are we going now?"

He smiles at her that sly, secret smile that's full of wickedness and unspoken promises. His eyes glitter in the sunlight and Elena's reminded of sparkling seas and translucent rivers. "I have no idea," he replies, and he's clearly enjoying himself. "But not knowing is half the fun, right?"

Elena smiles – she knows she should be level-headed and logical; knows that she should stop Damon and tell him that they can't go without knowing where they're going to. But damn it, he's right. The thrill of the unknown is half the fun, so she kicks back her head and rolls her eyes, and retorts with a, "Well, duh – who doesn't know that?"

Damon's surprised – pleasantly surprised, if Elena had to guess – by her answer, and he lets his eyes stray to her, waggling his eyebrows. "That's the spirit."

They continue to talk and bicker; and occasionally they stop to fight over the radio station. Eventually they decide to take turns, and pretty soon the only sound in the car is the music playing, and the motor's occasional rumbling while they pass yet another city.

The sun's starting to sink and suddenly, Elena's eyes are feeling heavy and she's fighting back a yawn. Damon looks at her before he turns his eyes back on the road, maneuvering the steering wheel expertly to avoid hitting a car. "A little nap wouldn't hurt you, you know," he says conversationally. He jerks his head backwards. "Take a leaf out of the teacher's book over there."

Elena laughs softly and she shakes her head. "I'll be okay; I'm not going to let you alone."

"How sweet of you – I'm touched."

"Don't make me regret it."

Damon's smiling when he turns his head. It's darker now, but somehow, Elena thinks his eyes look even brighter. "Elena, I'm not going anywhere," he says softly, in that voice that's meant for her ears only. The one that shows he cares. "I'll be fine. You on the other hand – no offense – really look like you could use some sleep."

She lets the tease slide, and holds his gaze a little longer. She figures that it's okay, that if he can show her he cares she can show she does too.

She lets herself get lost in the blue of his eyes a little while longer before she sighs. "Oh, alright," Elena grumbles. "You win this one." She moves around a little to get comfortable.

Damon grins smugly. "Don't I always?"

"Shut up."

Elena finally finds a position she's comfortable in, and – almost as a second-thought – she reaches out and takes Damon's hand. She feels him stiffen under her touch, and she wonders if she's gone too far, but then he relaxes and squeezes her hand in return – no questions asked. She lets out a breath she knows she's been holding, and looks at the road extend longer and longer still – until it reaches the tip of the horizon – and then sinks in into a place she can't see just yet.

And Elena finds that comforting because, if she can't see the end of the road, then the end is still that much farther away from her.

And God help her, but she hopes that road isn't going to end anytime soon.

Her head finds Damon's shoulder on its own, and Elena allows herself to breathe in his smell. It's a mixture of cologne and leather, with a slight tinge of alcohol here and there, and with a little something that she can't really put a name to; a quality in the smell that's just so undeniably Damon.

Her hand's still entwined with his, and her head is on his shoulder. She's breathing in his smell over and over again as he drives, and she watches the road extend further and further on.

Damon's thumb is stroking her palm, and she unconsciously leans in that much closer into him, her eyes still on the bright, dusk-lighted road.

And she wishes that the long strip of road never ends – that the whole road trip never ends. Because then, she'll always be by Damon's side. Like this, with her head on his shoulder and his hands in hers and with this big unknown adventure right in front of them. It's perfect in so many ways and yet not perfect in so many others, but Elena's learning that it's the imperfection of this whole situation that makes her love it so much.

And when Damon whispers, 'good night' in her ear – with that voice that's only for her – she smiles and closes her eyes.

If I could choose my forever, it would be here with you.

Author's Note: So this one-shot was my guilty pleasure (yes, I'm totally avoiding homework) of sorts after seeing some promo pictures and reading a synopsis of the third episode of the season which, I believe, is "Bad Moon Lighting". I can't seem to remember. Anyways, the summary talked about how Damon, Elena, and Alaric were taking a road trip to Duke University because Stefan thinks that it's unsafe for Elena to be in Mystic Falls with Katherine on the loose. And well – this is the end product of an interpretation of the road trip. We never hear Elena talking about forever, and this is how I think she'd have looked at it – not as an eternal existence, but rather as a moment that she wishes she could extend for eternity.

As always, please review – I was pleased by the feedback I got on my last one-shot, and disappointed that there are still people who are favoriting without reviewing. Well, not everybody's perfect I guess? I just want to thank those who do take the time – I'll get back at you ASAP. Promise!