Disclaimer: I don't own The Vampire Diaries.

Author's Note: Okay, I know I have a billion other stories to attend to, and you would not believe how guilty I feel for leaving everyone hanging for so long. But this won't get out of my head, and I have to write it. If you want more...well, that's what the review button is for. Oh yes, and the story title, and hopefully every subsequent chapter title, will be lyrics from either Something Corporate or Jack's Mannequin. Because they inspire me.

I Want To Feel Through You

Chapter One

"Elena! Where are you?"

Elena's head whipped around, searching for the voice that called to her. She could feel how important it was that she find him, but she couldn't for the life of her remember why.

She was stuck in a desolate landscape, desert as far as the eye could see. The sun bore down on her in the kind of burning, wet heat that made her want to just lie down in the shade until the temperature dropped a few degrees. But there was no shade, and the temperature never changed.

But she couldn't do that. He'd been calling for her, and she couldn't find him. The need to save him burned in the pit of her stomach, even if she couldn't tell why.

"Please! Elena!"

She turned around and took off toward the voice, ever hopeful that this time, she would find him, even though she'd been searching for so long that she couldn't remember anything before this desert.

She ran on, following his voice for what could have been minutes or days. She had no way to tell time, and somehow, she was absolutely certain that the sun would not move in the sky. This was a place that had never known the comforts of the night.

Finally, she ran over a dune and locked eyes with him. His clear blue eyes froze her to the spot as she was assaulted with memories of him, of their time together, some beautiful and others horrifying. "Damon," she whispered, taking in his condition.

He wore only a pair of black pants. The lack of shoes had clearly taken a toll on him; his bare feet were burned and blistered, and what little skin wasn't blackened was cracked and dry. His torso and face were still pale and perfect, though the tortured expression he wore told her that there was more to his story than she could see.

That alone was a horrible thought because there was so much she could see now. What looked like black oil had coiled up out of the ground and formed liquid shackles around his wrists. The oil was churning, moving around his wrists in some unrecognizable pattern, but there was no question that he was held in place by it. Worst of all, his fingers were bare. She could see no ring protecting him from the ever-present sunlight.

Elena ran to Damon, tears streaming out of her eyes. "Damon, don't worry, I'll help. We have to get you out of the sun." She didn't even hesitate when she reached for the shackles, an action which she knew she would come to regret. The oil spread to her skin and started moving upward. The freezing cold spread from her hands and up her arms, traveling toward her face.

"Elena," Damon said, his voice pleading. He looked at her like she was the last hope he would ever have. "Elena, you have to remember. Please. To save me, you have to remember."

The oil reached her neck, wrapped itself around her vervain necklace, concealing it completely, and kept ascending. She opened her mouth to scream, and the oil slipped down her throat...

"Elena!" An entirely different voice called her name this time, and the voice was accompanied by a strong set of hands shaking her. She screamed and scratched at the hands. "Damn it, Elena! Open your eyes!"

Her eyes fluttered open and adjusted to her bedroom. She was lost for a moment, until she finally realized what had happened. "That was a dream? Jeremy, how long was I out for?"

Jeremy looked confused. He glanced between her face and his arm, which bore several long scratches, inflicted on him when she was still caught in her dream. "Uh, I don't know. Stefan dropped you off about four hours ago, I guess, so less than that. Hey, do you have any Neosporin or something?"

"Huh? Oh, sure. Sorry." She winced as she climbed out from under the covers. She ran a hand through her hair to pull it out of her face. "God, it felt like I was there for weeks." She went to rummage through her bathroom cabinet, and Jeremy followed her.

"Felt like you were where for weeks?" Jeremy asked.

"In my dream. Well, in my nightmare anyway." She paused in her search, her mind going back to that desert. "It was so awful. And so real." She found the Neosporin and handed it to Jeremy. "Sorry again about your arm."

"Don't worry about it. It'll heal." He opened the tube and started to spread the clear gel over the scratches. "Do you want to talk about it? It might help."

Elena let herself drift over the details and decided to share what she could with her little brother. She summarized the dream as well as she could, leaving out only the identity of the person who had called to her. For some reason, she really didn't want Jeremy to know that it was Damon whom she so urgently needed to save. She couldn't make herself tell him, at least not until she knew what it meant.

"Weird," Jeremy said. "But you know, it could have just been a nightmare. It doesn't have to mean something."

"I know," she replied through numb lips. But she didn't believe that. She just couldn't believe that her mind could craft Damon's dilemma and her panicked desperation from thin air. She'd never had a nightmare remotely like this before either. It meant something, but she wouldn't pile that kind of insanity onto Jeremy's shoulders.

Her hand subconsciously moved itself to touch her necklace, and she remembered the way the freezing black mass had devoured it in her dream. Though it had been more than two weeks, she'd never forgotten the mystery of how her vervain necklace was returned to her. One moment, she'd been walking into her room, and the next, she was standing in the center of her room, her necklace in place around her neck, and feeling a profound sense of loss that she couldn't explain. Both the mystery and the feeling that she'd lost something precious had stuck with her since.

"Okay, well, I'm gonna go back to bed," Jeremy announced. "Your screaming woke me up." He gave her a little smile. "You couldn't have had your traumatizing nightmare on a school day, could you? You're louder than my alarm clock." He started to leave, but Elena stopped him with a question.

"Jeremy, what does it feel like to be compelled to forget?"

He turned to her in surprise. "You've never been compelled before? I would have thought, given the crowd you hang out with, it'd be something you would have experienced by now."

"No," she said with a shake of her head. "Stefan gave me this necklace to keep vampires out of my head, and Damon...well, I know he could have taken it from me at any time, but he never did. He prefers it when he doesn't have to manipulate me. The only time I was compelled was a couple weeks ago, and that was when Elijah made me answer his questions. So I know how that felt. It was like I was trapped in my mind...my mouth answered the questions, no matter how much I told myself not to, but I was fully aware of what was happening. But...I'm trying to figure out if somebody took my memories from me, but I don't know how it feels to compare."

Jeremy paused by her door, considering her question for a full minute before giving her an answer. "It feels like something is missing, and it's just on the edge of your understanding what it is. Like, I knew I was really sad about something, but I was able to chalk it up to Vicki leaving town, and I knew that I needed to move past that and get my life back on track."

Elena winced. She didn't think she'd ever thanked Damon for that. He'd done so much more for Jeremy than she'd asked him to. "So you know what was taken from you now...but you still don't have the memory?"

"Right," he confirmed. "I think I could remember if Damon would undo his compulsion...but I don't want him to. I like not being out of it all the time, and I wouldn't want to trade being a decent human being for the clear memory of my girlfriend's murder. Anyway, what do you think you were made to forget?"

She touched her necklace again. "Elijah took this from me and threw it across the room. That night, I had it back. Only Stefan or Damon would bother to return it to me, but why would they not want me to remember?"

Jeremy shrugged. "Maybe Stefan did something to piss you off and you broke up with him, so he compelled you so you wouldn't remember."

"No...Stefan's a big fan of his own accountability. He wouldn't compel that sort of thing away. Actually, I can't think of any reason he'd compel me. So I guess it had to be Damon. But...it just doesn't make any sense! He killed you, and yet I remember him doing that. What could he possibly want me to forget more than that?"

With a smile, her brother answered , "You want me to take a guess at the inner workings of Damon Salvatore's twisted mind? No thanks; you'll have to ask him. But maybe not at five in the morning. Get some sleep, Elena." With that, Jeremy turned and left her room.

She tried to take his advice; she really did. But every time she closed her eyes, she was assaulted either with images from her nightmare or with questions about what Damon could have made her forget. She let that go on for a solid hour before she noticed that it was starting to get light out. She'd never get to sleep now. So she climbed out of bed and threw on some clothes. She brushed her teeth and hair, then drove over to the boarding house. If she couldn't sleep, then there was no way she was going to let Damon sleep.

When Elena got to the door, she started to rethink her plan. Stefan was at the boarding house too. Why didn't I just call Damon? She briefly considered driving back home and doing just that, but she talked herself into knocking softly on the door, since driving home would just be such a waste of gas. So she knocked as softly as she could, in the probably vain hope that Damon's keener senses would pick it up and Stefan's would not.

She didn't have to wait long. Less than 15 seconds later, Damon yanked the door open. "Elena?" Surprise colored his voice. His eyes swept over her almost clinically, checking for injuries that would explain her presence at the boarding house this early. "What are you doing here?"

Elena had already thought through the approach she thought would be most successful. She widened her eyes and hoped she looked thoroughly miserable. "Damon...I think somebody compelled me to forget something...and I'm really freaked out about it."

Damon sighed and opened the door farther. "Come on in, Elena."