DISCLAIMER: Don't own a thing. Trust me if I had *any* control Season 2 would be a very different place.

A/N: Okay, so this is uh…something. I meant to continue The Difference. And then I started something else. And then I saw the promo for 2x18 (where Elena slaps Damon) and went bat crap crazy because I wrote a four part fic that twisted that two second scene into something there's no chance in hell of it being. It took me all day. Right. I have issues.

At any rate, I'll be editing and posting every other day. This is probably complete crap, but I'm sticking it up here in the hopes that I am not the only completely obsessed person desperately craving something Damon/Elena centric set right where we are in Season 2. I warn you, this is dark. There is a major (not main trio) death. This is also not gushy/feely Damon, not at first. I think there's a lot of conflict and fear in him – I think he fights his heart for Elena every minute. So, that's where I write him from. And it's probably pushes the limits of what these characters would do as written on the show, because as written on the show, Elena wouldn't take a phone call from a salesman without making sure he knows she loves Stefan like whoa so much. But I need something more than that - ergo this fic. :-)

And now this is officially the longest and most bitter author's note ever. Shutting up. :P Please review if this is of any interest at all. Your comments are email gold to me – sunshine in my inbox. :-) That said this really might be one best left for the old recycle bin.

((Elena's POV – Chapter One))

Damon.

As soon as I see him, my whole body goes tight, and not in the usual way. I feel sick and cold, like I've been sucked into a vacuum. Something is wrong. Terribly, horribly wrong. I don't know how I know this, but I do.

"No," I say as I hear his hand twist on the doorknob. He isn't knocking because civility doesn't matter. He's not here for a social call.

"No," I say again, twisting in this ridiculous dress, feeling these stupid peace-sign earrings bang against my face. Cold, smooth metal against my flesh to match the icy fear slithering up my spine.

He opens the door and my tears spring up instantly. Because I know it's bad. Damon's face reads like a book to me. I know what it means when his eyes are this soft while his face is so hard.

It means I was right.

Something is wrong. Beyond wrong.

He takes a single step towards me and I shake my head, my tongue too thick and numb to speak, my feet too heavy to move. He takes another step and I feel a burst of anger towards him. Hatred, almost. I strike out like a crazy person, my hand cracking against his cheek. As if that will stop him or undo whatever has already been done.

But Damon knows my face, too, so my little outburst doesn't phase him. He meets my gaze again and I feel my ribs shudder at his darkening expression.

"You need to brace yourself for what I'm about to say," he says.

I shake my head again, but the tears come anyway, slicking my cheeks and blurring my vision. No. No, I don't want to hear this. He tells me anyway.

"Bonnie is gone."

My world shrinks in around me. Everything is small and tight and condensed and there is no feeling. None at all. My thoughts come in fragments, tiny jagged pieces.

Gone.

Bonnie.

Bonnie is gone.

Bonnie is dead.

Everything rushes back in a sickening roar and I suck in a breath that makes my stomach churn, closing my eyes against the light. Against Damon's face. Against the truth.

I hear a sound, a horrible strangled keening. It sounds like me, but it can't be me. It is a sound that wild animals make.

My hands reach blindly, searching for a wall and finding Damon's body instead. Something hot swirls through me, flushing my cheeks and curling my fingers into fists.

"You!" I scream, rage pouring out of me like water. My punches rain down on his chest, nails clawing at his neck as I choke out a litany of nonsense and blame. "If you'd listened—if you'd—you could have stopped her! This can't—this is your fault! I hate you! God—Bonnie…"

I hit him even after my voice fails me, words disintegrating into sobs. I feel bruised and raw and horrible. The world is not right. It will never be right, so I kick and scream and thrash like a cornered dog.

And he lets me.

I explode until a spot of crimson forms on Damon's bottom lip, courtesy of my knuckles, I'm sure. It stops me, this drop of blood. I take a breath, held captive by the indescribable blue of his eyes.

He licks his lips and the blood is gone. My violence erased.

I am reduced to soft, low sobs, the kind that come from a place too deep to think about. I lean, or maybe fall, against him, and feel his body brace. Stiff and tensed beneath me.

And then his arms are around me and we are sliding down to the floor. He makes soft, soothing noises I never dreamed him capable of. I think of Rose dying in his arms and me falling to pieces now and I wonder where this part of him hides. Where does he keep this tender voice and these feathery touches.

I'm gathered on his lap like a pet, quivering and crying and staining his alabaster skin with my make-up. His neck is so warm against my cheek. Every breath draws him into me, the smell of soap and fire and something coppery that I know better than to define.

And I curl my hands into his jacket and press my cheek hard against him. I don't care that I shouldn't. I don't care that it's Damon. I mold myself to him because I need something solid. I need an anchor or I will wash away.

When I open my eyes, I see the damp black of Damon's shirt beneath my chin and then a smattering of glass beside me. I broke something.

Good.

Now I am not the only shattered thing in this house.

"I'll make tea," Damon says abruptly, and when he moves, I cling to him harder, making a soft noise of protest.

"Tea," he says again, picking me up quickly and depositing me neatly on the couch. I look at him, asking 'Why?' with my eyes since I still can't find my voice.

He looks tortured, his cheeks flushed and hands twitching at his sides. But his eyes flash to the window and I get it.

Stefan.

A car door wrenches open and then closed and Damon blurs away from me, disappearing into the kitchen. A supernaturally fast rush of footsteps on the steps and then Stefan, warm and solid, is in the living room, crouched before me.

Pulling me in.

"I'm so sorry, Elena," he says, stroking my hair, making all the right sounds, doing all the right things. I wrap my arms around him, but I am softer. I don't squeeze him as hard. I don't tear at his shirt or sob against his neck.

I tell myself it's because Stefan calms me down.

I never was a very good liar.