Disclaimer: Don't own.

Damon and Elena

Slow Burn

They're a slow burn.

That's always how she thinks of it when she finds herself think of her and Damon together.

She and Stefan were more of a combustion.

Chemicals reacted and the fireball that ensured burned bright and high but eventually faded away into the stillness of before.

It's not like she never felt anything for Stefan, she couldn't have professed such a deep, abiding love for him if she hadn't felt anything but half truths and omissions and the dodging of the truth led to the fireball flickering out.

There was also the fact that - looking back - they were always going to burn each other out.

Sure they loved each other, but they were both seventeen.

He may have been seventeen for a hundred and forty-five years but even though he spoke as if he'd seen it all and done it all - and he mostly likely had - there was still something in him that remained uncomprehendingly seventeen and she's always wondered where they would have gone if she'd grown up and he'd remained stubbornly seventeen, without even realizing that's what he was doing.

Damon was different.

Forget the evil, the way he completely embraced being a vampire and all those dark, unforgivable things that came with that nature. Damon was - and she suspected has always been - completely different from his brother.

Where Stefan seemed to remain unerringly seventeen, Damon often seems to skip years while still being twenty-four.

There are times when she thinks that he is uncomprehendingly one hundred and forty-five years old and then there are times when he seems like he's seventeen and then there are those times where he acts his age.

Then there are the confusing times where he can be five, twenty-four, seventeen and a hundred and forty-five all at once and it always leaves her head spinning.

She doesn't understand how he can be immature, reckless, irritatingly confident and weary and make it work, but he can.

And he can do it with sarcasm or without it. With surprisingly tender moments and brutally honest ones. How old he acts matches his mood and his mood always matches the situation.

It's frightening really, how easy it is for him to click into a mode, an age and take the situation into a completely different realm to what it had originally been.

The problem is, it's only one part of the slow burn that they make up.

Another part is how she is when she's around him.

She has her own feelings when he shifts his modes.

When he's sarcastic, she's aloof. When he's tender, she goes into denial. When he's brutally honest, she's falling apart. When he's weary, she's affectionate.

When he's pushy, she needs a five minute time out.

That part of the slow burn, is confusing and irritating and she sometimes kind of hates it, but most of the time she loves it.

The other part of the slow burn, the one that forces the fire to flare up, is the dance they always seems to engage in whenever they're within three feet of one and other.

It's part sexual, part emotional but it smolders when one of them takes the first step.

It doesn't matter who starts it, whether its a thinly veiled innuendo or a physical step - a brush of his hand high on her thigh, a hand run down his chest - what erupts causes the slow burn to burn a little brighter.

She can flirt with him then turn her back.

He'll down a drink then whisper against her ear that he finds it sexy when she ignores him.

She'll watch him from beneath her eyelashes as she leans in, the strap of her dress sliding slowly down her shoulder.

He'll drag his fingers up her arm, catching the strap and sliding it back up as he leans close, his blue, blue eyes intense before he pulls away to take a sip of whiskey.

The pull of each other is too great sometimes and early on - when she was still torn between two brothers and trying desperately to light the fireball of her and Stefan up again - she pulled away, flustered and unable to compete with someone who had been playing the game for a long time.

Then one night when she was feeling reckless and lighter and free she saw the game through to the end.

It surprised both of them when she hadn't pulled away from him, she remembers, when she'd slid her arms around his neck and let him taste her even as she offered herself to him.

The slow burn had erupted into a flame that burnt bright and hot for the time they trapped themselves in his room to the next morning, when it had returned to the slow heat they both enjoyed.

The fact that the slow burn kept burning had not escaped her notice nor had it escaped Stefan's or Katherine's, later she had thought maybe they'd let it flare at the wrong time.

In the end, it hadn't mattered.

Because the knowledge of what it could become was there, under both their skins and the dance had taken on a whole new meaning, as had the way they dealt with each other and how they both came to see the outside world and how the outside world began to see them.

Maybe the burn had been noticeable before, when she was too afraid to acknowledge it and he was more interested in releasing a lover who'd never loved him from a tomb but the night it had erupted had turned it into something she felt beneath her skin, in her blood.

Where it had been noticeable before, it became a glaring neon light.

The problem with fires though, was that they burnt people too.

Maybe it hadn't burnt them. Maybe the burn had been pleasurable for them and the flame that erupted a vortex of pleasure but it had burnt other people.

Bonnie, Caroline, even Jeremy hadn't been safe from it.

But Stefan was the one that had come away with third degree burns.

She was never going to forget the way he'd fought for a chance to re-ignite them. The way her heart had broken because she loved him but their fire had gone out because they'd been seventeen and had no idea how to make it keep burning when all that lay between them was always going to haunt her and hurt him. When she hadn't been able to resist the pull of his older brother even though she tried so hard to.

When she'd come to realize the slow burn was never going to go out and it was harder to ignore than she'd thought.

Stefan had fought so hard for them, for her and all he'd had to take away from it was third degree burns and a heart that would always break because he knew he would spend eternity watching them.

It had been one of those times when she'd fallen apart and he had been brutally honest and she'd wished that she hadn't given up the softer, sweeter brother for the slow burn with darker, dangerous one.

She wonders sometimes - when she has nothing to distract her and the heat is at a comfortable level beneath her skin - whether the fire between her and the older brother would have gone out if she'd fought for the combustion with other one.

She sometimes thinks she could have been happy if she'd done just that.

She knows, however, that she would have ended up being unhappy.

They all would have been unhappy if she fought for one and let go of the slow burn with the other.

She'd fallen into the slow burn partly because she hadn't been able to resist and partly because she'd rather be furious, hurt or crying than unhappy for eternity and fighting to make it right.

"Uh-oh. You've got your serious face on. I'll let you keep thinking."

Damon's voice breaks her out of her reverie and she jerks a little, shifting against the pillows and causing his shirt to hitch higher on her thigh.

Rolling onto her side, she props her head up with her hand and looks at him as he begins to back out of the door.

"You can come in, you know. I won't tell, if you don't ask." She practically dares him, knowing he won't be able to resist her words or the mischievous tilt to her lips.

He eyes her before cautiously approaching the bed, lifting a glass of thick red liquid to his lips and handing her a glass of water. She eyes the glass of blood, wondering whether he really thinks she'll kiss him after drinking that.

He apparently knows what she's thinking.

"You've kissed me with blood all over my face, before. Don't get grossed out now." He places the glass on the bedside table and slides back into bed beside her. "It always surprises me that you make that face, still. In case you haven't noticed, you're in a relationship with a vampire."

She eyes him for a moment before rolling her eyes and taking a sip of the water he so obligingly - grumbling the whole way down to the kitchen and back up again - went to get for her.

"As if I don't know that." She snorts and he closes his eyes.

She watches him for a moment, wanting to reach out and map out the curves and contours of his face because he's so unbelievably gorgeous and she loves touching him.

She takes another sip of her water before leaning over him to place it on the night stand next to his blood.

Her long hair brushes across his cheek as her torso rubs across his as she draws back.

She can feel his smirk and before he can make a comment about her seducing him, she settles back down onto his chest, pressing her ear to where his heart should be and sliding her leg up his thigh as her arm curls over him.

His hand rises to her hair and he tangles it there, a possessive move that holds her in place because - as much as he proclaims to do it because she'll get bitchy - he loves cuddling her as much as she loves cuddling him.

"So," he starts after a moment. "What were you thinking about when I walked in? Because it looked serious. Your face was doing that thing where your forehead wrinkles. Hey, did I mention that you'll get lines from that?"

She pinches his side uselessly, she's learnt it really only tickles him when she does that. He chuckles at her reaction and she shifts so her chin his resting on his chest and she can look at him.

He must have felt her eyes on him because he opens his own and quirks an eyebrow.

"I was thinking about you." She replies with a smirk. "And me. And us."

She doesn't need to see his eyes to see the flicker of emotion that passes through him whenever she says that word.

She knows sometimes - when he's feeling really vulnerable and will let her curl around him as much for him to hold her as for her to hold him - that he's still waiting for someone to come along and shout 'time's up!' and he'll wake up alone and she'll wake up next to Stefan.

"I really hope you were thinking about how you do this thing with your tongue where - "

She cuts him off with a shake of her head and a blush.

"I wasn't, actually. I was thinking about how we're...a slow burn."

It sounds kind of stupid being spoken aloud when it made perfect sense in her head and she tries to ignore the strange look he gives her.

"Uh, 'Lena, in case you haven't noticed. Vampires and fire equals dead vampire. And I imagine a slow burn is even worse."

She pinches him again.

"I meant us and our relationship and how it got us to this point." She gestures at their position and his room as she speaks and he smirks.

"Must've been a really slow burn if its taken us three years to get here, then." He quips, untangling his hand to stroke it down her hair in a way that makes her want to purr. "But go on, I'm curious."

"It's just that...well, I think of Stefan and I as a combustion. Something that burnt high and bright and then couldn't burn anymore." She traces her hand down his side. "I think of us as a slow burn that's never going to go out because we only burst into flame every so often."

"I hate to say it, but we might burn out quicker than that. We do have sex all the time."

She laughs. "I don't think of our flame as sex."

And she doesn't.

Maybe the first time the flame exploded was about sex but she thinks it was more about the dance come to an end.

Every time it's exploded after that has been important.

Katherine dying.

The label they gave their feelings.

The first tentative step they took towards her turning.

He considers her words.

"Your right, our sex is way too hot to be described as a slow burn." He agrees and she rolls her eyes.

"Your an idiot."

"Nuh-uh. That would be you."

She has to smile as he reverts to being a five year old and then she forgets what she's smiling about as he suddenly rolls them, settling on top of her comfortably and smirking down at her.

"But see, accepting your diagnosis is the first step towards recovery." He leans down to press his mouth to the slender column of her throat. "I think we should improve your theory of a slow burn though."

She feels slightly breathless and hates that she has to clear her throat to speak.

"Oh really?"

"Oh yeah, after all we can't have you thinking we're too slow especially seeing as I know for a fact we're much hotter than a slow burn."

As he leans down to pull her into a kiss designed to seduce and arouse, she thinks maybe she'll let him try and convince her that they are hotter than her original idea.

She decides she won't tell him that she'll probably always think of them as a slow burn that won't ever go out.

A/N: This was a definite change for me - the pacing, the feeling and the scenarios are very different to what I usually write - but I hope you guys enjoyed it. It ended up a little fluffier than I originally planned. I still hope those who read it, enjoyed it!