Just a little alternate scene for the latest episode...

The pain felt so real. He remembered it from way back when he was still a human. He wasn't sure whether he welcomed it, or whether he cursed himself for still allowing such a human feeling to consume him.

Pain over somebody's death; Rose's death.

It tore at him. He missed Rose so much and he couldn't explain to himself how that could be. He was Damon Salvatore after all. He didn't do touchy-feely. He didn't do sadness. (Katherine…, that didn't count. For hadn't she compelled him in the past? Nothing about their relationship had ever been real. And yet…)

Somehow Elena's presence made the feeling seem even more intense. Her brown eyes bored into him, not accusing, though. She simply looked at him sympathetically, understanding his pain—understanding it better than he himself did.

He desperately wanted to pretend that everything was fine, with Rose dead and gone, and put out of her misery, by him. He wanted to pretend HE was fine. But with Elena standing right there, it just wouldn't work.

"Damon," she whispered, and although he clearly must have given off a vibe saying "Don't come near me," she took a light step forward, and wrapped her arms around him in a gentle embrace.

When she felt how rigid he stood, how tense he was, the muscles in his back all taut, she couldn't help but tighten her embrace. Finally, she noticed how he gradually allowed himself to relax, to lean into her embrace. She lifted her face, unaware of her hand running through his hair soothingly as if of its own accord. Staring up into his eyes, she saw them shining tellingly. "Oh, Damon."

She felt so sad for him. She wished she could make his pain go away, the pain he didn't admit to. It was palpable, though. It tore at her, almost physically.

He made one last, half-hearted attempt to leave, leave her, leave the house, leave everything behind. But then he allowed his gaze to lock on hers. He sighed. How was it possible that this pain was making him feel so…

… alive?

How was it possible that it made him feel less isolated, standing here with Elena, allowing her to hug him close, look into his eyes, and finally even allow her to see his tears?

How was it possible?

He didn't even try to hide them anymore. He didn't turn his face away, even when he felt her smooth hand wiping his cheek, cradling it.

Instead, he just kept holding on to her, desperately. And just when he thought he couldn't take it anymore, and should get the hell out of there before he started breaking down for real, Elena leaned forward and kissed him. Her warm lips touched his, a gentle gesture at first. But soon enough, the gentleness was gone to be replaced by something else, a desperateness, a passion only a human could feel.

No, the human in him wasn't dead; didn't die back then, didn't die with Rose.

The human in him was right here, alive, with Elena. And he was here to stay.

He kissed Elena fiercely, then, demandingly, expecting her to back away any second. But she never did.

She never did. Kissing him right back, holding him, she stayed with him, making sure he would be okay, would conquer the pain…

I know, I know... I just couldn't help it... :)