Congratulations to all you die hard fanfic writers who have managed to post despite the hectic nature of Christmas/New Year's break. You have helped to pass the "family togetherness time" of football game watching. It never ends! Sheesh, sports. Anyway, here's the new chapter, thank you for being patient. P.S. By the light of the moon sucked! WTF?

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Damon paced from wall to wall in his bedroom. She haunted him, permeating his every thought. The look she had given him as they parted at her front door echoed through him, causing him to question what he knew could never be: did she remember? Was it possible that their love was stronger than his compulsion? Or was his association with the humans and the other side of the fight making him weaker? Whatever it was, it had him in its grasp. Surely she didn't remember. Surely his sacrifice would stand, and she would be safe. From him. From a future with a blood-sucking monster.

He had to let her go. Put her from his mind and hope it got easier. He resigned to believe that she didn't know, that it was just his overactive imagination grasping at straws. He retired to sleep, waiting for the passing of time to ease his regret. He knew he deserved no such peace, but maybe in his sacrifice he may find solace.

Damon was nearly asleep when he heard a disconcerting sound.

A wolf's howl.

Distant, but distinct. It was coming from the direction of where he knew Mason's truck to be hidden. He lept off the bed, and sprinted towards Stefan's room. Stefan met him halfway.

"Did you hear that?" Stefan asked.

"Wolf. Do you think it came from..."

"It can't be."

"Come on," Damon said, and they headed for Mason's truck.

As they reached the truck, they both grimaced.

"Wasn't Mason," Damon concluded, studying the remains.

"Then... another werewolf?" Stefan asked suspiciously, surveying the area. Using the light of his cell phone he looked for any sign of wolf prints in the soft ground. "Look at this," he said finally, drawing Damon's attention to the mud.

"Footprints," Damon said, kneeling to get a better view. "And from the shape of them, looks like a woman." Damon looked up at Stefan, perplexed.

"They're following the truck tracks," Stefan observed. "She's going to follow them back to the Boarding house."

Damon sighed, annoyed. "Of course she is. It's a full moon tomorrow night."

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Elena woke the next morning grasping lazily at empty sheets. When she opened her eyes she realized that she'd only been dreaming. She was supposed to meet with Stefan and Damon this morning, and she wondered how she was going to be able to look Damon in the eye and not betray the emotion behind all her returning memories. He had erased their love from her mind. Whatever the reason, she knew she had to let it play out. Sometimes Damon was all madness, but there may be method to it too, so despite his betrayal she was going to let it lie. For now.

But that didn't mean she couldn't toy with him. Just a little.

She dressed in a low-cut red satin tank and a short black skirt with knee high black shit-kicker boots. And a smile. She was going to make it painful for him. She grabbed her keys and headed for the door.

When she arrived at the Boarding house she walked in, following the sound of male voices to the main room where the men sat huddled around a book. As she entered the room, Damon looked up to catch her gaze. He was surprised, and as his eyes raked hotly over her body she was instantly aware of her revealing outfit. She pretended like she hadn't noticed, and took a seat on the couch beside him.

"Elena, just in time," Stefan said with a smile. He passed the book along so she could see what the discussion was about. "We have been trying to figure out the connection between Elijah and the curse of the Moon and the Sun. In order to find out why Elijah wouldn't want to break a curse that he would also benefit from, we need to better understand the Moon side of the equation."

"So you think the werewolves inheriting an equal share of power would be a deciding factor? I don't know, he didn't look like the type to be afraid of a few dogs." She scanned over the werewolf drawing in the old book.

"I don't think it's the werewolves he's trying to stop," Damon said, turning the page. "I think he's trying to stop us. Vampires. I mean, admit it, to grant every vampire the ability to walk beneath the sun would be to condemn humans to a life of servitude. Whatever remains of humanity would slowly be drained away, and with it the supply of resources until there is nothing left."

"So you're saying that this ancient vampire wants to give up his winning lottery ticket to save humans?" Alaric asked.

"I'm saying that he's doing what needs to be done to preserve the natural balance." Damon looked back at Elena, studying the delicate fall of her hair around her face, cascading down to half conceal the plunging neckline of the red satin. The black lace of her bra tantalized him, and he wondered if that was the one with his teeth marks just below the left breast. When he reached out to turn the page again, his arm brushed against hers and he felt the fire of the friction.

Elena immediately pulled her hand back, then stood from the couch, needing to put some distance between them. "Whatever the reason for Elijah's involvement, it isn't our only concern. Tonight is the full moon, and Tyler will change."

"Caroline said she had this one," Stefan interjected.

"She knows he can kill her, right?" Alaric asked.

"Yes, he's going to be locked up on the Lockwood property tonight, she's just going to make sure he stays put." Stefan closed the book and looked up at Elena. "Unfortunately, Tyler's not our only problem. There's another werewolf."

"What?" Elena replied, her eyes widening.

"We heard her howl last night. She found Mason's truck."

"She?"

"We don't know yet," Damon said, shaking his head. "We saw a woman's footprints. A girlfriend maybe, or a sister. I would be greatly amused if he'd been cheating on Katherine." Stefan laughed at that.

"So this woman, does she know you killed Mason?"

"She followed the truck tracks back to the Boarding house."

"So what are you going to do tonight? Stay here and wait?"

"Precisely." Damon looked back at Stefan, who looked to be deep in contemplation. "What?"

"We can't leave Caroline out there alone with the werewolf on the loose. I'm going to have to stay with her." Stefan nodded his head with resolution, then pulled out his cell phone to notify Caroline of the change in plans.

"Stefan..." Elena pleaded.

"It will be okay. Caroline is... surprisingly good at being a vampire."

"So I guess I'll just wait here for the big bad wolf," Damon agreed, standing to pour himself another Scotch. "Alaric?" He questioned.

"I've got plans with Jenna..." He said, looking uneasily between the brothers like the guy who couldn't make it to the party because he had to work the next morning.

"I'll stay with you," Elena said finally, running her hand over a crossbow laid out on the table. She looked up at Damon, running her finger around the tip of the arrow.

Damon's mouth went suddenly dry, and he licked his lips.

"Great," Stefan said, grabbing his keys and heading for the door. "I didn't want you to be alone tonight. Just in case." He left, with Alaric not far behind.

When silence echoed through the house, Damon became suddenly aware that he was alone with Elena. She was leaning against the wall, watching the morning sun rise in the sky through the window. He wanted to see her smile. "I didn't get a chance to tell you how much I like those boots." Elena looked back towards him, and he thought he saw amusement flash across her features. "You don't have to stay and babysit me you know. I can handle this."

"If you don't want me to stay I can leave." She didn't move, only glanced back out the window.

"I didn't say that."

"What are you saying, Damon?"

Damon took a step back at her tone, cocking his head. "I'm just surprised that you would jump at the chance to spend the evening with me."

There was fire in her eyes when she looked back at him. "I didn't jump. I conceded. Did you miss the long pause in conversation? That was your volunteer base."

Damon studied her curiously. She'd become instantly defensive. "What are you up to?" he asked bluntly.

"Why do you suspect an ulterior motive? I'm not the one here with the master plan."

"And what does said plan entail?"

Elena walked towards him, observing his annoyed stance, arms crossed across his broad chest. His dark shirt was open at the neck just a button more than it should be. "How about deception?" She circled him. "A false reality maybe?"

"What are you talking about?"

"Why don't you tell me? That's what you'll do eventually anyway."

Damon's arms dropped. His face screamed disbelief.

"Forget it," she said, walking towards the door. "Maybe you're right. I'm going home."

She was almost to the door when she felt a hand lock onto her arm. She looked back at Damon, unrelenting in his grasp. "You know." It was all he could say.

"I know."

He held her captive a moment longer, searching her eyes for a resolution that he just couldn't fathom. Her breathing quickened, and suddenly she was wrapping her arms around his neck and pulling his mouth to hers. He met her assault, sliding his hands up her back, beneath her shirt to the smooth skin beneath. He pinned her to the wall, deepening the kiss and demolishing his best intentions at keeping his distance from this beautiful, vibrant woman.

Elena jumped and wrapped her legs around his waist, running her hands over his chest until she reached the buttons on his shirt and gave it a swift tug. She heard the buttons scatter as they hit the tile. Her lips trailed down his throat, and her teeth sank into the delicate skin below his ear.

Damon growled, pinning her in place with his hips and dragging the satin shirt over her head. He was right. She was wearing the bra with the bite marks. She came here for this. For him. The realization hit him hard and he kissed her, giving himself over to the moment and the slamming of his heart inside his chest.

Elena let her legs slowly drop, slipping out of his embrace. She stepped back, fixing him with a seductive smile and pulling the side zipper on her skirt. The material dropped, revealing a black lace thong. She took another step back.

"Jesus woman," Damon growled, taking in the impossible sight of Elena in lace and boots. He started walking towards her, and she slowly retreated in the direction of his bedroom. When her strides increased he gave chase, running to her and tossing her lightly back onto his bed. She laughed, and he followed her to the mattress. He felt Elena's hands exploring his shoulders, pushing his shirt off before traveling down to the button of his pants. When it came undone and her hand slipped inside to grip him tight he brought his mouth to her breast. He roughly pulled her bra off and tossed it to the floor, allowing his tongue to tantalize one nipple, then the other. When he had her gasping his name he slipped a finger around the thin material of her panties and pushed it deep inside. She came, and he captured her cry with his lips.

"Damon," she breathed, allowing him to divest her of the last thin scrap of lace. "Why Damon? Why did you take this from me?" She couldn't stop herself from asking, the question tumbling around inside her head.

"Because you deserve better." He answered honestly, reluctantly.

"What's the real reason?" She asked, unconvinced.

His eyes met hers. "Because I'm completely in love with you and that scares the hell out of me."

Elena took his confession, processed it, then leaned up and kissed him lingeringly, encapsulating the culmination of her emotions into that one meeting of lips. She didn't need to say anything, and he knew.

When he thrust himself deep inside her, she bit his lip and dug her boot heals into the muscle of his butt. He rested his forehead against hers, watching the passion flicker across her face. She dragged her nails down his back, lifting her hips to meet him. He kept himself carefully in check, holding back until he saw her begin to tremble, her eyes closing as she shattered. He held her tight, then doubled back to ride his own release.

She trailed kisses lightly across his shoulder, and he turned to kiss her. He slid beside her, pulling her across his chest as he propped an arm beneath his head. They laid there in silence, and he memorized the steady thud of her heart, his free hand absently tracing the curves of her body.

Elena stared curiously into his eyes. "Do you have any intention of compelling me again?"

Damon shook his head. "For some odd reason it seems my compulsion is flawed when it comes to you. Perhaps it's because it wasn't something i necessarily wanted." He brushed a stray lock of hair from her face, admiring her easy beauty. "And for the record, I'm sorry. I would never do anything to hurt you."

Elena smiled, dragging her fingertip down his chest. She moved until she straddled his hips, and she could feel him pulse against her. Slowly she lifted, and he slid back inside her. She moaned, and gradually started bucking her hips. "Well here's your opportunity to make it up to me," she purred, leaning back to bounce against his dick.

"What about... the werewolf...?" Damon gasped, watching the steady rise and fall of her perky breasts.

"It's merely morning," she whispered seductively against his ear. "And we have all day my love."