A/N: 2x10 was so angry, and so sad. This is what I wish had happened after The Sacrifice, because I think they both care too much to just let the moments go like they did. This completely ignores the events of 2x11.

Title from song by Sia. Please don't favorite without reviewing! Enjoy :)

In you there is a loveliness that makes my darkness shine.
- Anonymous

He is hers.

As much as she wishes it weren't so, he is hers.

When it happens, she can still feel the hard bruise of the bricks on her back, the scream of her muscles as he held her so tightly that she was sure she would break at last. The pleas she couldn't suppress.

She trudges wearily through her front door after a short visit with Stefan, her shoulders sagging, tears streaking her face. She can't remember the last time she went to bed without crying.

Damon is sitting on her bed. Of course. "Elena," he whispers, so soft that she has to strain to hear.

She sighs. "Damon."

He raises his eyebrows. But it's not like she has an answer for him. What is she supposed to say?

She cocks her head. Suddenly she is so tired that none of it – and she does mean none of it, not even how many times he has torn her apart with cruel words and even crueler actions – matters anymore.

And the words come out of nowhere, but god does she mean them.

"Have sex with me."

There is just the barest hint of desire in his eyes before he looks at her like she's crazy. "Elena," he says again, a warning so clear in her voice that she feels an inexplicable urge to laugh until she can't breathe. When did her life get so fucked up?

"You don't really mean that," he says firmly.

He sounds so sure of her lack of attraction towards him that she wants to slap him (a reflex action nowadays). She wants to hit him, want to bring her hand across his cheek until it stings. She can't believe that he would deem himself so unworthy of her attention. She can't explain why it bothers her, but it's tearing her apart.

So she does something she knows is not really a solution. She knows it's wrong, and she just doesn't care. She's drowning in worry and fear.

She kisses him.

She launches herself halfway across the room and smashes her lips to his, moaning as his arms automatically come around her, his fingers scorching the bare skin just above her hips. Her eyes snap shut.

She doesn't pause to think about what a palpable mistake this is. Because his lips are moving eagerly against hers, if only for a moment. and it's far too easy to lose herself in the hard planes of his body, pressed against hers.

But he's hungry, and she knows instinctively that it's for more than her body, or even her blood. And she doesn't want that.

She pulls back, eyes brimming with something that feels suspiciously like tears (but she's not crying, of course she's not crying). "Damon."

His gaze locks steadily on her, piercing like the stake she once dreamed of driving through his heart. He sighs again, heavy and subdued, and it sounds like the beginning of the end. "We shouldn't –"

"Fuck me," she interrupts, the words demanding and cold. Her tongue traps her lower lips, harsh and unyielding, and she quivers. This is not her. She's never asked anyone to do that before.

But then, she's never wanted it so badly.

Lust darkens his face, but he eviscerates it so quickly that she thinks she might have imagined the flicker. "Not a good idea," he grunts with a huge effort, abruptly pushing her off him and standing up almost angrily. "Really not a good idea."

She stares at his still form for a long moment. She can't explain this hot feeling that washes over her, poisonous and repellent and painful. It's strangely…oh no. She realizes that she feels rejected. By Damon Salvatore of all people.

Oh God.

But it doesn't matter. She's falling apart. She is falling apart, and if he does not take her right now, she will never be able to put herself back together.

So. "Damon," she whispers, pleading with him unashamedly. She lifts her face up to his, cheeks laced with more moisture than she cares to acknowledge, reaching out to him so anxiously that his eyes narrow.

"Elena." It's another warning.

She can't say his name again. Somehow, those two syllables are all tangled up in their complicated relationship, and if she says them this will be something more. And something more is what broke her in the first place.

She just grabs his hand. "Please," she begs, and the word is so sad that she shakes and she feels herself starting to come apart at the seams. "Please," she repeats needlessly, dragging herself toward him and leaning her forehead against his. "God, please."

It's a testament to how much he has changed that he even considers pushing her away.

His hands gravitate almost naturally to her face. "If we do this," he attempts to explain, and she's gratified because he's speaking in terms of them, they are an "us," and that means something, "I can't do this gently."

She forgets for a moment who she's with. Sex is supposed to be making love. How can he give it any other way?

But he winces as a drop falls unmercifully on his cheek; she doesn't bother wiping her eyes. "If I do it gently, I'll never let go," he confesses in a rush, that enticing blue only slightly vulnerable, mostly determined and gleaming.

Suddenly, she realizes it's what she wants. She doesn't want him to go slow, to hold her as she cries. She wants him to fuck her.

(Never mind how indescribably fragile she feels right now.)

She nods authoritatively. "Then don't be gentle," she shrugs, and the words are so offhand that she swears he doesn't recognize her, and she doesn't mind so much because being herself has only brought sacrifice. "Fuck me. It's what I want."

She's never used so much profanity in her life.

He peers at her curiously, his fingers moving purposefully across her cheekbones, gauging her desire. But she's not exactly a good liar, and the blood hammering throughout her crazily sensitive body is about as much confirmation as she can give.

He grins devilishly, his fingers suddenly dropping to her waist again. She flinches with how close he is but doesn't back down.

"You know, Elena," he drawls arrogantly, clearly aware that he has her irrevocably in her clutches, "I'm sure Stefan wouldn't approve of this."

She growls at the name, crashing her lips to his just to make him shut up for once in his way-too-long life.

In a hurried, frantic, eager motion, he hoists her up and wraps her legs around him, walking the both of them forward until her back is pressed against the wall. She lets out a low, low moan when he moves his mouth to her neck and whispers the dirtiest, most decadent (most orgasmic) words into her skin. She'd forgotten how much she wants him when she lets herself.

She grinds into him, ignoring the tears still pricking her eyes. This is what she needs. She doesn't need to be comforted, cajoled; all that does is make her cry harder and wallow in a sea of self-pity. She needs him to hurt her. Maybe the physical pain will blot out the emotional pain.

He rips her tank top straight down the middle, gasping just the slightest bit when her breasts fall free of their constraints. She glares at him playfully, reaching down to let her hand linger against the front of his jeans. He hisses, his lips pursing unmistakably on the primary vein in her neck, and she smirks.

"Oh, Damon," she sneers, the words burning in the back of her throat as she realizes that she's not saying her boyfriend's name and it hurts that she couldn't, anyways, "Such stamina."

He stiffens, and she wonders if she's gone too far with the mocking. She likes teasing him, of course, but she's still here for one purpose and one purpose only: sex. She needs him to make her fall apart, and not in an emotional way.

But he doesn't pull away (thank God), and he doesn't thrust her harder against the wall, like he would if he were offended by her joke. He just drops his hand, his mouth falling quite naturally to the heave of her chest, his tongue expertly swirling and diving.

She's lost for a moment. Lost in this boy, this boy who took away literally everything she cares about (including that part of him she cherishes beyond reason). Lost in how very clearly she can see the end of her life, the light dying quickly, suddenly, efficiently.

The easy cease of her heartbeat.

She's lost in how indescribably broken she feels, like things are collapsing and she's not enough to hold it up anymore. Maybe she's never been enough, never been able to keep everything together. Maybe she's just not strong enough.

So she lets herself be lost. Better to be lost than found by his delving eyes.

He raises his head at last, his lips capturing her greedily as her hands tear at the silky fabric of his shirt. His mouth fairly attacks her, and her fingers rake the thick muscles rippling through his body. He is beautiful. My God, he is so beautiful.

And she's crying again, hot and furious and killing the side of her that believes in true love. She's crying, tears mingling with his breaths until the salt is fermenting on his tongue. God, she's crying, and she can only grip him tighter, her lower lip trembling as she claws at him anyways.

He pulls back curtly. "Wait," he whispers, and she wonders fleetingly if he's ever said that word in the midst of passion before. His hands cup her cheeks almost…lovingly. "We don't have to do this, you know."

His tone is so serious that she has to look at him, even though she would prefer to stare at the ground or her feet or anywhere else really. She can't seem to stop her tears.

And she realizes, quite cataclysmically, that he's willing to hold himself back. He's willing to leave her right now. All because he doesn't want to take advantage of her when she's distraught like this.

The thought only makes the tears come faster. Because how did she, plain, normal Elena Gilbert of small-town Virginia, manage to come between the two most wonderful men she knows? How did she manage to tear down anew the foundation that Katherine erupted so very long ago? How did she manage –

She curls himself into him. "Please," she pleads, eyes alight, flashing, cheeks stained, devastating. "Please. I need this." She twines her hands around his neck and tucks her head in the hollow of his collarbone, breath coming heavy and ragged. "I need you. I just –"

He doesn't need to be told twice. A flicker of indecision sparks across his glorious face, and then his mouth is everywhere again, nipping at her skin, teasing her and torturing her and driving her crazy. She hates him for it, but she kisses him for it, too, her hands finding his waist and undoing his belt buckle with expert precision.

He groans when she reaches his boxers, and she is shaken by the sheer power that courses through her. As much as she knows how she tends to get under his skin (and even that's an understatement), she wasn't aware he would fall apart so readily when they finally got to this point.

She's jaded enough to realize it was inevitable.

It's as if he reads her mind; his free hand shoots up to rest firmly on her back, holding her up as her head lolls slightly. Still the tears fall. By now, she's sure she will cry even as he moves with her.

He raises his head, smiles, bittersweet. "Elena," he murmurs, his hands stilling. She knows somehow that he's asking her for his permission.

She swallows. Giving into him has always felt like giving into the devil. He wields so much control over her, and she is never more exposed than when she inadvertently reveals how very much her body responds to his.

And here she is, bare-chested, straining against her jeans like she is afraid he will run away if she doesn't get naked, and fast. She literally has no idea how she let him so far in.

But she just nods. "It's okay," she promises, letting her fingers linger on his temple, reveling in how undeniably precious this moment is. "I want to."

His brow furrows. "We can't go back," he reminds her, and she thinks the concern in his eyes is lovely. "If we do this, we can't go back."

She sighs, willing him closer. She leans in and nuzzles his cheek, relaxing slightly when he doesn't tense beneath her touch. "I know," she assures him, and of course she does know, she realizes how much this will change whatever they have. "I know and I don't care."

And those, somehow, are the truest words she's ever spoken.

He nods. And she knows – and maybe it's the way his hand slides across her skin, smooth and careful, or the way he holds her gaze as he tugs her jeans down her quavering legs – that it will be different now, this coming together. It won't be primal anymore, or even very lustful. It will be tender, sweet.

She doesn't know what to think. She doesn't know what to feel.

She wishes he were aggressive, wishes he would pound into her so recklessly that she'd be sore for days. She wishes he didn't make her desperate for forever, a future she can't have but wants all the same. Above all else, she wishes she could slow her tears, step out of his arms, and tell him to get the hell out of her house. Out of her life.

(Out of her heart.)

Finally, she stands bare before him, trembling with the weight of everything she's never said. His eyes trace the lines of her body like she's some kind of Greek goddess (she muses bitterly that he probably looked at Katherine the same way), and he steps forward as if involuntarily, his hands dangling like he needs something to hold onto.

He opens his mouth a little, and it's like she can see the words forming on his tongue, the words that might save her, if she lets them.

But her own words echo in her mind: I don't want to be saved.

It feels like a mantra, or maybe a prayer, and as his fingers delicately graze the dip of her hips, she realizes she doesn't know whether it's a lie.

"God, Elena," he whispers, his gaze lingering on her legs, her hair, her stomach, the curve of her lips, "You're –"

But God help her if she lets him say it. He can't offer her a compliment right now. He just can't. He's supposed to be telling her all the dirty things he wants to do to her. He's supposed to pull her flush against him and sink his fangs into her neck and not even stop to ask her if she's ready for him. He's supposed to take control, goddamn it!

She can feel her eyes starting to water again. He seems to stammer over the word that surely follows such a reverent mention of her name. Her heart speeds up.

So she captures his lips with hers again, tearing his shirt off his achingly contoured body. She ignores the catch of her breath in her throat, instead yanking his pants down his legs. She tries to do it with an air of detachment, but her hands are shaking, and she swings her hair in front of her face, as if she can conceal how strikingly strident she feels.

He catches her, figuratively and literally and every other way (he's always saving her). Even though he is hard between her legs, he wraps his arms around her for a long, long moment that feels neither orchestrated nor calculated. She is numb, limpid in his hold, her hands clutching his shoulders for some kind of support. She is suddenly consumed by a raw sorrow, a need so sharp that she presses her chest against his and lets herself cry.

She wishes she could pinpoint the moment she went wrong. She wishes she could explain when she started feeling something for this dark, twisted boy, something she can't eradicate no matter how hard she tries. And she wishes he wasn't being so nice right now.

He drops his head on her collarbone with the lightest of sighs, his hands rubbing soothing circles on her back, a movement she didn't even know he was capable of. Unthinkingly, she leans against the wall, taking him with her, and smoothes his hair down with a tenderness she never knew lived within her. As usual, he seems to understand that she needs time.

With him.

Her eyes flutter closed. This changes everything. She cannot hide from that.

Just as her lust for him (it's undeniable, and she's tired) begins to overwhelm her, his eyes raise to meet hers, black fire coursing through her veins. That mesmerizing blue smolders, dances.

He says nothing at all.

And suddenly, he is in her, his strong arms bracing her, helping her live and breathe and stay another night, if only another night. He is moving, reaching, and all the while he keeps his gaze locked on hers, staring at her so intently that she cannot breathe.

The feel of him is so right, so fated, that when he brings his lips to hers for a brief, bittersweet touch, she cries in earnest, the sobs ripping through her, hard and angry and inexplicably sweet.

He pulls back again, holding her gaze, moving so slowly, so purposefully, that her muscles clench in anticipation. This is so…intimate.

So final.

He sweeps a hand under her chin, sure and sincere. "We should always be like this," he ventures almost wistfully, and the words are so honest that she strokes the jut of his hip affectionately.

He tucks a hand around her face carefully, his index finger finding her pulse. Her heart is beating luxuriously, wondrously and he begins to move to the rhythm of her life force, in and out so repeatedly that her bones dissolve. "Just like this," he murmurs, low and true, and she smiles weakly.

One finger on her pulse, the other caressing her waist, guiding her, he dives with her, pulling and pushing and breaking, breaking the way they only could together. Tears spark to her eyes when she realizes that keeping pace with her heartbeat is his way of telling her he's going to keep her alive, no matter what.

She thinks about the gentle, amazing feel of him inside her, filling her up and making her whole. She never dreamed he could make something like this so romantic. She never imagined that he would hold her gaze throughout, that he would whisper sweet things and hold her up so she doesn't fall (he never lets her fall), that his eyes would be soft and clear.

That this would even matter to him.

And see, it was angry and it was furious when he was torturing her with his lips and his hands and the tips of his feathery black hair. She could pretend she hated him for it then.

But this…she can't pretend anymore. He is here. He is here, with her, inside her. He is here, and she can't dislodge him.

She doesn't want to.

His lips whisper across the sunken hollow of her cheekbones, his tongue gliding over the dark shadows beneath her eyes. "You look tired," he notes worriedly.

She presses a hand to the side of his face, moaning under her breath as he hits a particularly sensitive spot. "Well," she manages to say wryly, attempting to infuse her voice with snark even as he stares at her with so much love. "I've been trying to save you."

Her voice cracks on the last word, and she looks away. This is just too much.

He drags her face back to his, insistent, coaxing. "Hey," he whispers, forcing her to close her eyes because who he is right now is so magical, so breathtaking. "Hey."

She opens her eyes.

He kisses her, his lips cold and wonderful. "I'm here," he murmurs, beginning to move again. "I'm not going anywhere."

It's exactly what she needs to hear.

She thinks maybe she asked him to take her in the first place because she needs to know that he won't leave her. He's the only one who consistently stays safe. He's literally the only constant in her life. If he stays safe, then she will somehow survive.

She kisses him with renewed vigor, more passion than he expects; he stumbles backward, his mouth moving against hers eagerly now, drinking her in like she's some kind of addictive, elusive elixir, like her breath is – blood.

And suddenly the path is clear.

She tugs her head towards his, his mouth hot on his ear. "Bite me," she commands throatily, smiling when he immediately stiffens beneath her. "Mark me. Please."

He groans, suddenly thrusting into her harder, his hands splayed on her back. "God," he moans, his eyes tightening as the smallest of smiles ghosts across her face, "You're killing me here."

She closes her eyes in rapture, letting his silky voice drift over her, lull her into a sense of security she refuses to believe is false. She arches into him, muttering under her breath, "No worries, it's not one-sided."

His fingers touch her eyelids in shock; she meets his gaze easily, admiring the light dancing, playing over the shadows on his beautiful face. "No, I suppose not," he ventures wondrously, and there is awe in the way he moves with her now, as if he must grasp this moment, hold on, as if…as if he worries it won't last much longer.

She gulps.

He's moving faster now, arching into her, and it's the most painful, the most beautiful feeling…and through a haze of desire, she realizes how much she truly cares about him.

And his eyes are blazing, and he's holding her like it'd kill him if he hurt her, and she's falling apart and the tears are screaming and she realizes he was right all along, there's something between them, and she –

"I don't know who I want," she blurts out, clenching around him.

A spasm of pain flits across his face, and he stills, his eyes anguished. She realizes this isn't exactly what he needs to hear, but she's helpless.

"You –" His voice wavers.

"I don't know who I want," she repeats. It feels like the first time she's ever really been honest with him.

He stares at her for a long moment, his expression gradually softening even as steely resolve creeps into the grim set of his mouth. Determination radiates from him like the sex appeal he so carelessly brandishes. "That's okay," he murmurs, his hand floating up to brush her hair carefully off her forehead. He smiles at her.

Her heart hammers relentlessly in her chest.

And then, his teeth are sinking into her neck, and through the telltale bite of pain there's a pinprick of acute pleasure...It steadily grows, crushing her while she pulls herself forward, onto him, until he's deep inside her, so deep that there are bright flashes of light behind her eyelids.

She is breaking, becoming whole. Falling, flying. Dying, living.

Loving.

And maybe it's still harsh, and maybe it's still angry. Maybe his tongue lapping at the blood he lusts after without shame is just that, a culmination of months of waiting. Maybe the hard, warm, tight feel of him pushing her further and further is an illusion, yet another one of her explicit fantasies. Maybe this means nothing.

Or maybe it means everything.

Because there's such voraciousness in the pull of his fangs on her skin, such inherent desire in his hands on her waist, that it can't be superficial, it just can't.

He brings her to the brink, of course, and she spills over the precipice like the tears spill from her eyes. She gasps and she writhes and she's sorry and none of this makes sense…

He keeps moving, slower now, and somehow pain doesn't blind her. It feels perfect, different, all the things that should be wrong but just aren't. She's high on the pleasure of him drinking her blood, and coupled with the pulse of his body within hers…she is drowning in how much she needs him.

His mouth is by her ear, his arms enveloping her like some kind of twisted claim, and this time she trembles when he drops a small, sweet kiss on her skin.

"Always," he whispers, and if there are tears in his eyes, he hides them well. "Always."

She wishes she didn't believe him.

She doesn't let him cuddle afterward.

She lies there for a long while, facing him, keeping her gaze firmly locked with his even as she has to blink to stop herself from crying. His eyes are compassionate, understanding, an expression she does not think she deserves finding a home on his wonderful, wonderful face. His fingers graze the smooth curve of her hipbone, but otherwise, he does not touch her.

She feels empty.

"Damon," she whispers, the word barely passing her mouth.

His lips curve. "Elena." It's a caress, a promise, and she trembles. "I should go," he suddenly says regretfully, breaking the moment. She closes her eyes against the tide of despair that is engulfing her already.

She nods instead of pulling him in, quietly moving closer. "Thank you," she breathes.

He does what she cannot do; he hooks his arm around her and holds her tight to him. "You're welcome," he grants, his eyes piercing, burning with the severity of what this means. She waits.

He kisses her tentatively, carefully, as if he expects her to push him away. But she responds, gently and with less hesitation, even, than before. She presses her body softly to his and murmurs against his lips, "Turns out you're not so bad after all."

(Turns out he's not bad at all.)

He chuckles, smooth and unhurried, but then he withdraws from her without warning, standing up, pulling on the clothes she so eagerly tore off. He's beautiful in every way, any way, and her heart aches.

Quickly, dangerously, as if she's afraid of what will happen next and she can't look at him through it, she turns her face into the pillow. Her breath is even, measured, and of course neither of them can pretend she is sleeping. She knows it is silly, realizes it is stupid. But it feels like a last shred of hope.

He hovers by her window, fully clothed and cold, real, waiting. Waiting for something she is incapable of giving him.

And then.

"I love you."

It is soft, low, tender. It is an admission so pure, so untainted, that her stomach turns over.

Of course, she pretends not to hear.

And a moment later, he is gone.

fin


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