It was 3:00am as Damon stood admiring the amber glint of the liquid in his glass before he tossed it back and poured another. A fire crackled in the ancient stone fireplace and he took a step towards it, enjoying the warmth.

It had been hours since he last spoke to Elena, and all he could think about was the look in her eyes as she walked away from him. Confusion. Hurt. It was as if she was questioning the appropriateness of her base emotions. Like she neither understood nor accepted these desires that coursed through her, and yet she nurtured them, savoring the exquisite pain.

Damon tossed back another few fingers of scotch and slammed his glass down on the table, shaking his head.

This was just history repeating itself. Another exciting chapter in Katherine's social experiment on the tormented Salvatore brothers. Maybe the perverse debutante just liked to watch.

He had to get her out of his head. Things were just beginning to form some semblance of normalcy between him and Stefan, and as much as he wanted to be the suave, debonair Damon everyone expected and pursue Elena with his signature persistent nonchalance, he found himself wishing to preserve this new life he was building. Although fraught with murderous ex-girlfriends, witches, werewolves and a town controlled by generations of vampire hunters, this life seemed to have more interest to him than the majority of the last century.

So he needed to be good. The reliable brother, and friend to Elena. He just wished he could stop wanting her. Needing her. And it wasn't her likeness to Katherine that drove him, in fact the similarity nearly tore him apart with anger as old emotions surfaced, emotions he thought were gone and buried just as surely as the lives he'd drained in his quest for numbness.

He turned on the stereo. "Hurt" by Nine Inch Nails cascaded from the speakers. Sometimes he felt like Trent was one of the only ones who understood his trials, Maynard maybe. The Maynard before Puscifer.

He heard the wooden floor of his study creek and turned to see Elena in the doorway, her hands shoved deep in her jeans pockets. Her hair hung loose about her shoulders. He could smell the soap from her shower. He was more than a little surprised to see her, especially at this hour.

"Elena, I –" Damon trailed off, surveying her posture, her uneven breathing. "Are you alright?"

"I don't know," she whispered, slowly walking in his direction. Her eyes never left his.

"Stefan isn't here."

"I'm not here for Stefan," she said quickly, picking up the discarded scotch glass and pouring a shot. She tossed it back and set the glass down, enjoying the instant warmth that sizzled down her throat.

She was here to figure it out, to see why her heart sped up every time she was near Damon Salvatore. She couldn't take it anymore.

Elena crossed the room to where Damon stood frozen, unwilling to blink least he awaken from this dream.

"I can't stop thinking about you," She said, stopping a mere two inches from his shirtless frame. He was barefoot, wearing only jeans despite the cold. His eyes shimmered in the firelight.

Without another thought, he dipped his head and took her mouth in a hungry kiss. His arms reached out to embrace her, crushing her against his body as he claimed her lips. Elena sighed and leaned into him, kissing him back with a fervor that mirrored his own.

This is what it felt like. To be alive. To be loved like there was no tomorrow. Just now.

Damon threaded a hand through her long, silky hair, coaxing her head to the side so he could trail his tongue down her neck, nipping softly all the way to her collarbone as a moan escaped her lips. A ripple of desire flooded through him. Her moan was for him. Him. Not Stefan. She wasn't compelled into it, but had walked willingly, tasting of his scotch no less.

His mouth returned to hers, letting her feel the raw sexual power in him, his desire for her that he always tried to keep so carefully in check. He lifted her against him and spun her around to pin her body against the wall. Her legs slid up to clasp around his waist.

His head was spinning. He was never the one to get what he wanted.

Damon pulled back slightly, reluctantly, and rested his forehead against hers. "Why Elena? Why me, after all this time?"

Elena, breathing heavy, trailed a hand down his chest. "Because I feel this fire every time you look at me, and I'm tired of tiptoeing around it, pretending it doesn't exist. People I know are dying every day it seems, and I don't want to go another day without telling you how I feel." She scraped her nails gently up his chest and he growled, low and animalistic.

"I thought you said you would never kiss me back, that this could never-"

"Shh," She said, placing her fingertip against his lips. Then she kissed him, hard and deep, removing all doubt from Damon's mind that he wasn't exactly what she wanted.

Damon ripped the shirt over her head and allowed his hands free roam of her skin. She was so soft, so much more beautiful than he had even imagined. He let her back down onto the floor to strip her of her jeans, then carried her to the couch.

He fell with her then, his mouth never leaving hers. Elena was a sight in her black lace bra and matching panties, and he knew that no matter how many centuries he lived he would never forget this vision.

She ran her lips along the line of his jaw to nip at his ear, coaxing a moan from between his gritted teeth. Quickly, she rolled him over and straddled his hips. She kissed him passionately as his hands ran up her back to unclasp her bra. It fell away effortlessly and she was all there in plain view for him. A moan escaped her as he captured her nipple between his teeth, suckling gently before moving to the next. She ground her hips against him in response, feeling his arousal strain against his jeans. When she went for the button he flipped her onto her back and ran his palms down her hips, sliding her panties off in one swift motion.

Elena's breath caught at the primal excitement in Damon's possession. Never had she been so overtaken by passion like this, so consumed by the need that coursed through her. He stripped off his jeans, pressing his naked body against her. She groaned and arched her back as he caught her bottom lip between his teeth.

Unable to conserve himself any longer, Damon lifted himself up, stared deep into her eyes, and buried himself inside her. He started at a slow pace, letting her feel every inch of him, then gradually worked them both into a fever as Elena climaxed and clenched around him. He held back, allowed her to shatter, then kissed her softly as she returned to him. As soon as her eyes unglazed, he worked her back up to the peak and over once again as she came and shouted his name. This time he followed, losing himself completely in Elena as he buried his head in her neck.

It was a long moment before either of them moved, then Elena began kissing the curve of his shoulder.

"I'm in love with you Damon," she said softly. "I tried so many times to talk myself out of it, but I know what I feel, and it's never felt so right."

Damon leaned up on his elbow, peering down at her curiously. He cocked an eyebrow and smiled that sly, knowing smile that she had come to love.

"Are you sure about that Miss. Gilbert? You know, I've heard I'm not the best company to keep."

"Well you're certainly the best at something I'm sure," she mimicked sarcastically, wiggling her hips and dragging her nails down his back. He moaned, leaning over to capture her lips in a kiss that promised this was merely the tip of the iceberg.

"I happen to have been madly in love with you for a while now, so I'm glad you finally wised up. I mean, what are the odds of ever finding another girl like you? Oh wait, never mind." He smiled, the curve of his lips genuine.

"Well Damon, besides Scotch and Nine Inch Nails, what else did you have planned for tonight?" Elena traced a lazy circle on his hip, gazing into his eyes seductively. She felt him pulse deep within her, filling her once again. She giggled, wondering if she would ever be able to get enough of Damon Salvatore.

"Why don't you stick around and I'll show you." When he kissed her she knew, this was where she belonged.