The Secret Face of Damon Salvatore

Afterwards, she'll always wonder why she hadn't been waiting for it to finally happen. So many months of desperate attempts to figure him out, this mess that he was, watching his every move and facial muscle to somehow decipher what he really felt. She even began to think, inconceivably, that she, Elena, was the only one who saw the real Damon, the only one with the ability to translate eyebrow-, eye- and smirk-things into motivations and thoughts. How was it possible that she never noticed how small the parts of him he showed to her really were?

They are into the second week of the "Save the Ripper" mission and Elena begins to wonder if it is appropriate to feel this comfortable around your boyfriend's brother while roaming the country in order to save said boyfriend. Granted, Damon was trying his utmost to not let her get too worried and moody, still, she feels a little guilty about that time where she couldn't stop laughing about his stupid joke (a guy visits the doctor to get his balls examined and – ew, no self-respecting girl should have laughed about that one in the first place). Or the time when they sing-shouted a rather energetic version of "Stumbling In" while racing along the highway. Elena feels she should have been feeling embarrassed singing a love-duet, of all the possible songs!, with Damon and not enjoying it instead, and especially not getting all flustered and light-headed after hearing him declare "our love is alive" in a slow and velvety bass timbre. That particular incident had her so confused that she gave him the silent treatment for hours afterwards. And yes, she knows perfectly well that it was childish and it's really not his fault that she is apparently unable to keep her boundaries up around him. Even worse was the fact that he didn't press her about the sudden change in mood and she'd rather not dwell on the possibility that he understood perfectly what was going on. What bothers her so much with all of this is that it feels decidedly too much like being in a relationship. The silly, fun part even, the one that she and Stefan never really got to because life-threatening problems were going on all the fucking time. Which makes no sense whatsoever for aren't they in the middle of their most serious crisis right now? And she is worried, well scared shitless frankly, she really is, but a load of sorrow and danger like hers will numb you a little and Damon's imitation of James Dean is priceless and she is only 17 and most likely already on the road to insanity.

This is her mindset on this particular morning and on top of it she's not been sleeping properly. Hunting your blood-crazed boyfriend and spending your nights in the same room as his brother will do that to you. She's perched tiredly on the rim of the bathtub, fighting with her knotted hair, so exhausted and this is why she just asks Damon to bring her the leave-in spray. Which she does.

"Damon, can you bring me my leave-in spray? It's in the upper right corner of the suitcase."

This is what she says, exactly. She registers a non-committal "humph" and resumes her hair-battle. It takes her all of two minutes to be sure that something's off because that's how long it would have taken him to do what she asked of him, in slow-mo. Only that Damon doesn't do slow-mo.

"Damon?" she calls.

Still no answer. Immediately her mind begins to list possible catastrophes that could have happened to him, this is her life after all. Understandably, she is not prepared for the sight that greets her when she all but rushes into the room. He's there alright, with no immediate danger apparent and so she heaves a sigh of relief. That's when she notices it. In his hands. Her bra.

She feels enraged? Furious? Embarrassed? Vulnerable? Alive? Something and, a flow of insults on the tip of her tongue, her eyes slide up to his face. This is when she stops breathing in earnest.

Right there, in front of her eyes, is the version of Damon Salvatore that she's never seen.

He's smiling.

Not smirking, half-smiling, scowling, pouting or one of the other endless expressions that she's seen his mouth make. No, this a real, honest to God, teeth-showing, cheek-hurting, eye-shining smile and she realizes he looks just like a boy who got his big Christmas wish granted. I'll never see something this beautiful again, she thinks, her heart wrenching painfully. He's looking at her now and his eyes are so overwhelmingly full of him, as if his heart were about to spill itself right there, down on the floor. Elena practically feels her skin melt away under the power of his gaze, it's too much and her own eyes drop down, back to his hands. For the first time, she notices exactly which bra he's holding; of course it had to be that one, her secret favorite. She remembers buying it shortly after the Miss Mystic pageant, when they had so much trouble with Stefan. Treating herself to a set of over-priced, decadent and possibly never to be worn lingerie is a habit of hers whenever life gets too messy and tragic. Something about purchasing such luxurious underwear has always given her back an illusion of being in control, being grown-up.

She had been standing in front of the mirror, her breasts tightly encased in red silk, black lace adorning the seams, reaching all the way around her back, and deep in the valley that the bra created between her breasts shimmered a black pearl. Her mouth had been slightly parted as she was staring at her reflection, her back arching involuntarily, the delicious mounds clearly begging to be touched. There had been a flashing memory of Damon in her mind at the time, rendering her speechless with his eyes during their dance, and suddenly she had known, without a doubt: he would adore that bra. Afterwards, she was way too chicken to really ask herself why she was so hell-bent on buying that insanely expensive scrap of silk and lace.

Now he's standing there, holding the very same piece of lingerie in his hands and with a sudden jolt in her lower belly, Elena notices that his thumbs are stroking the red silk of the cups in lazy, sensual circles. Oh dear God, she prays inwardly, please let him not have seen the panties or any of the other stuff for that matter.

"My, my Elena, whatever happened to pastel-colored stripes?" he suddenly drawls, his usual lewd smirk back and firmly in place, her own image in various states of undress and lingerie as clearly visible in his eyes as if he would show her a picture show.

Ok, so clearly he's seen it all - the matching panties with that little hole right above her bottom, the set with golden satin behind black lace, the one with see-through red and pink – god, she feels like a dirty minx listing them mentally. She remembers that time when he came to her room, giving her advice for handling blood-thirsty Stefan while simultaneously rummaging in her underwear drawer. At that time she had luckily been fast enough to shut the drawer before he came any further than her innocent pastel, official undies. The thought that he had now seen this secret side of her makes her head swim and her thighs tremble. Not even Stefan knows of her passion for seductive lingerie; his confession that he loves her girlish sets because he found anything more sexy to be weird and unnatural on young women prevented her from ever trying to seduce him in one of her more mature sets. She had wondered if that was his puritan, last century upbringing talking…

"In case this is you, trying to find a new personality – I'm so approving of this one," Damon tells her now, because he surely remembers that day too.

"I'm not – " she mumbles, "this is not -, I've had these for years-" She stops then, not sure why she felt the impulse to explain herself in the first place, it's not like her undergarments are any of his business.

Suddenly he's walking towards her with his head slightly back, eyelids lowered, hips tilting just so, her bra still in his hands – looking like predator and prey at the same time.

"Lies", he purrs, looking at her through lowered eyelashes. "I can smell that you've hardly worn these. Unless - " and the growing devilish glint in his eyes makes Elena search for something to support her, "this is your confidential stuff, of course." And he's so awfully close to the truth now that her mouth goes dry. Don't lick your lips, she commands herself, don't lick them! but it's no use; her tongue slips out as if on its own and the tiny sigh that escapes him makes her repeat it immediately.

"Elena," he whispers, leaning imperceptibly closer, "why would you raid your secret lingerie stash for our little trip?"

She had been packing hectically, so very much worried about Stefan, Damon waiting impatiently outside the house, and then she had opened that goddamn drawer, her hand automatically reaching for the neat cotton piles. Damon had chosen this exact moment to honk, possibly still a little pissed off that she had emotionally blackmailed him into taking her along on the trip, and the thought of being alone with him for possibly a very long time had made her grab for the hidden shiny piles at the very back of the drawer instead. She had taken them because she felt they would make her more confident, even if he would never see them. Just the idea of spending weeks and weeks with Damon while wearing cotton undies made her feel weak, inferior and so young and stupid. Really, it had felt like a good idea then. Right now, however, her inner sermon went something like: stupid, moron, stupid, fool, dumb, moron…..

Finally she pulls herself together and he's standing there, still holding her favorite bra with an air as if he had taken it right from her body and she explodes helplessly in righteous anger.

"You pervert! You have no right to look through my things! Take your hands from my stuff!" Then she does what she's best at when it comes to him: she swings her arm back and slaps him across the face, hard. Her hand's not even lost contact with his skin before he has her backed up against the wall, leaving just enough space between them that they're not technically touching. Elena still has a hard enough time telling her body to stay. the. hell. back.

His mouth is directly at her ear now, urgent and rough. "You can deny it all you want, but we both know that this part of you – your anger, your dancing, your fists, your drunkenness, your secret love for slutty lingerie, hell, let's just call it the woman in you, she belongs to me! Go ahead, hit me if it makes you feel better – I can take it. But it won't change a thing."

When he steps back lightly, his arms hanging at his sides, just the hint of a smirk on his face, she loses it. She's beyond reason now, her arms thrashing wildly at him, hitting, scratching, clawing while she hisses curses and nonsensical syllables at him, trying to wipe that smile of his face, but it only gets wider the longer she rages on. God, she's supposed to be worrying about Stefan above all, instead her mind is acting like a satellite, orbiting around him, all the damn time. She hates him for it so very much. Finally it's no longer clear if she's trying to hurt him or prevent herself from falling, if she's still swearing or just crying furiously, and he's staring at her the whole time, drinking her in while he's smiling again, really smiling, like there couldn't be any greater joy for him than watching her lose control. Elena's panting heavily, staring at him, and she wonders how she never searched for this smile, how he kept it from her for such a long time and how she seems to hold the power now to evoke it.

There's no way I can stop this now, she thinks, her chest heaving, there is no way I could stop myself now from falling for him.