A/N: Holy hiatus, Batman! It's been, what, like a year since I updated this. I plead business, in both writing, real life writing, and real life itself. I can't promise when I'll be updating again, except that I'm going to finish this story before focusing on another, so at least there's that.

Also, fyi, this will not be a happy tale. If you can't deal with that, go elsewhere. I'm sorry, but that's how it goes.

I haven't written in this mindset in a long time, so I apologize for any crappy writing. Also, I screwed up the timeline a little, but in my defence, I started writing this before season three clarified the canon timeline, so I'm still operating on my original assumptions.

Enjoy and review!

Disclaimer: I do not own The Vampire Diaries. The song 'If I Die Young' belongs to The Band Perry.

Damon couldn't remember the last time he had been truly content. He figured that it must have been sometime when he was human. Sure, his hedonistic, careless lifestyle during most of his vampire life had been fun, but he'd never fallen asleep smiling.

Until now.

His bed smelled of Elena. He'd refused to changed his sheets after their afternoon tryst the day before, so when he laid down late in the night, he was surrounded by her. A day before, it would have tortured him to have her everywhere. But everything had changed.

He had no idea what had spurred her on to finally admit to her feelings for him. Whatever it was, he couldn't particularly be sorry for it. For once, a step forward in their tumultuous relationship was not due to a life and death situation.

He considered this as he hummed his way through the empty boarding house, sincerely glad that Stefan was out for a few hours. He didn't want to answer stupid questions like, "Why are you humming?" or "Why are you smiling?" or "Jesus, Damon, what kind of woman has gotten you this happy?"

Elena had called Damon that morning to reiterate that she wanted to be the one to tell Stefan about their 'recent development'. It probably would have annoyed him if she hadn't opened the conversation with, "Good morning. I love you." But she had, and she'd sounded so tender about it. A difficult feat, considering it had only been seven in the morning.

It was around two in the afternoon when there was a soft knock at the entrance. Damon blurred over from the parlour, schooling his features into his trademark smirk before opening the door to reveal Elena. He opened his mouth to greet her, but was struck breathless when her lips parted in a wide smile. Her eyes were practically glowing as she stepped past him to examine the foyer.

"Stefan isn't here," Damon informed her, closing the door and turning to place his hands on her hips, nuzzling into the back of her neck.

Elena turned, slinging her own arms over his shoulders and kissing him. He moaned into her mouth, pulling her closer. When she parted her lips from his, she pressed their foreheads together for a moment before breaking away entirely and smiling shyly.

"Hi," she grinned, biting her bottom lip.

He wanted to bite that bottom lip. His eyes were still trained on her mouth when she giggled.

"Really?" He met her gaze, registering that she was laughing at him. "I didn't think you could get any worse..."

Damon wiggled his eyebrows at her, guiding her to the couch with a hand on her lower back.

"It's the same rule that applies to your front door." He sat down and pulled her down to straddle his thighs. "You invite me in once, and I'll just keep coming."

He winked at her again, watching an attractive blush spread over her cheeks at his innuendo. He moved his hands up to cup her face and brought her close for another deep kiss. Her lips parted and he slipped his tongue into her mouth, stroking her own and coaxing a low moan from deep in her throat. His fingers danced under her shirt, grazing her skin until her own hands gripped his wrists.

"Don't tease," she mumbled against his lips. "We can't do anything until he gets back. He'll smell it, won't he?"

"So," Damon responded, trailing kisses down her jaw to her throat. "You're telling him today anyways. What's the difference?"

"Yes, I'm telling him that we're together. He doesn't need his nose rubbed in it."

He leaned back, pouting. "You mean the way you two rubbed my nose in it?"

"Damon," she sighed, stroking his jaw with her thumbs.

Inexplicably, her eyes filled with tears as he stared in horror. He'd meant it as a joke (sort of), but here she was, crying over it. His mind switched into high gear, trying to find a way to fix whatever he'd done.

"Hey," he whispered. "It's okay. We're together now; I'm over it."

"I know," she nodded quickly, smiling a little. "I'm sorry, I'm just -"

She never finished her sentence as they heard the front door open and close. Smoothly, Elena slid from Damon's lap, allowing him to cross the room to his liquor cart. He kept his back to the room as he heard Stefan's approach and entrance, Elena's heart pounding in the background of his thoughts.

"Hey guys," the younger vampire muttered distractedly. When Damon turned around, he was dropping his leather jacket onto a chair. "What're you doing here, Elena? Not that it isn't great to see you, but -"

"Oh, yeah," she giggled awkwardly, leaping to her feet and shuffling over to him. "Do you mind coming into the kitchen for second. I just wanted to talk to you about something..."

For a second, Stefan frowned, glancing over Elena's head to meet Damon's eyes. Both vampires were thinking the same thing: No matter where in the house they went, the elder would be able to hear everything. But apparently, all Elena wanted was the semblance of privacy, so Stefan nodded, allowing her to lead him out of the room.

At the entrance, he spun, raising an eye at his older brother before pointing at Damon, then where Elena had disappeared, then crossing his fingers and mouthing the word 'together'. Damon nodded slowly, an irrepressible grin tugging at his lips. Stefan nodded slowly, then winked at his older brother and made his way into the kitchen.

Damon waited a whole three seconds before blurring after the pair, leaning, unseen, against the wall outside the kitchen. He could hear Elena's heart racing with nerves, and in his mind's eye, imagined her wringing her hands as she paced. If he were a little nicer, he would just walk in and tell her that Stefan had already guessed the gist of her great disclosure. But while he loved her with every ounce of his being, he did sort of enjoy leaving her hanging a little.

"Elena?" he heard Stefan prod quietly.

"Look, Stefan," she began, probably biting her lip. "I know that we've been broken up for a while, and you'll probably think I'm ridiculous for needing to tell you this, but -"

"Elena," he repeated, more seriously this time, although there was an amused hint to his voice that only Damon would be able to hear. "I think I know what you want to say, and to tell you the truth, I agree entirely."

"You... agree?" Elena whispered, uncertain. "Wait, agree with what?"

There was a shuffling sound as Stefan moved toward her, and Damon licked his lips slowly in anticipation of his brother's ruse.

"Yes, I've given this a lot of thought, and I agree that we've both grown enough now to be together!"

Damon's eyebrows skyrocketed, and he suppressed a bark of laughter as Elena spluttered in response to Stefan's sudden enthusiasm.

"I mean, you've matured, I've gotten the blood under control. We're in such a better place now and – Oh God, I can't even keep this going with a straight face!"

The younger Salvatore burst into laughter, cuing the elder to enter.

"He figured it out, Elena," Damon pointed out, taking in her confused expression.

"You looked so horrified!" Stefan exclaimed, still laughing so hard, it encouraged Damon to chuckle a few times as well.

Until Elena glared at him. Then he stopped pretty quickly.

He sauntered closer and slung an arm over her shoulders, pulling her in as she scowled. "So does that alleviate your conscience?"

Her brown eyes snapped over to the still-laughing vampire, and her gaze darkened a little more. "Yes," she said harshly, "I try and do the right thing by everyone, and I get laughed at. Go ahead, Stefan. Keep it up."

"Aw," Damon cooed, pressing a kiss to her hair (stomach leaping because he was allowed to do that), "You can't be that mad at him. Look! He made a joke!"

Stefan's laughter stopped abruptly, replaced by Elena's giggles, and much to Damon's delight, she even slipped a little closer under his arm, tightening her grip around his waist before pulling away.

"Well now that that's settled, I'm just gonna run upstairs and grab my – thing – that I forgot..."

She trailed off and then, blushing furiously, bolted, thumping up the stairs, and leaving a pair of extremely bemused Salvatore brothers in her wake. Damon met Stefan's eyes with a mischievous grin, reaching into his pocket and pulling out a pair of sheer blue panties and winking. Before the younger could say anything, they heard a banging from upstairs, then an exasperated growl, and then Elena came stomping back down. Her eyes narrowed on the item in Damon's palm, then on his face, then at Stefan's smirk.

Damon thought that if he ever had any chance to see someone spontaneously combust, this would be it.

"You," she hissed, storming up to him and snatching the panties away. "I can't -" She cut herself off with a huff and crossed her arms over her chest, pouting.

"Yes, you can," he answered calmly. "This is exactly the kind of stunt I would pull, isn't that right Stef?"

The younger vampire threw his hands up and shook his head, backing away from the couple.

"I'm not getting involved; it's already too weird for me."

Stefan turned and walked away, leaving Damon to stare unabashedly and extremely lasciviously at Elena.

"What?" she snapped at him, although he could already see her melting under his intense gaze. "Damon, why are you looking at me like that?" she asked slowly, warily.

He was sauntering over to her, feeling very much like a predator as he watched her back into the counter and freeze.

"Looking at you like what?" he breathed once he'd cornered her, his eyes on her lips.

"Like you're going to eat me alive."

Something snapped in the air, and Damon pounced, crushing his body to Elena's, mouth open and prying against her soft lips. She let out a soft moan as she writhed against him.

"I waited so long for you," he groaned, breath coming in short bursts as Elena's lips worked on his throat. "And to stand beside you and not have my hands all over you, now that I know what you feel like, what you taste like... It's torture."

"Mm hmm," she hummed, fingers on the buttons of his shirt, when a sharp ringing sound interrupted the proceedings. Damon ignored it, choosing to nip at her soft skin while she pushed, fruitlessly, against his chest. "Damon," she moaned, half-exasperated, half-aroused. "Just... Pause..."

With a laboured sigh, he pulled back, both hands up, palm out, as he stepped away from her.

"Hello," she gasped into her phone, running her fingers through her knotted hair. "Hey Jer! What's -? Oh crap! You're right... No, don't order in. We had Chinese last night for Ric. I'll figure something out. See you later."

She scowled at the phone as she pulled it away from her ear, finally slipping it back into her pocket before meeting Damon's eyes. Her brow smoothed out as she focused on him, and a mischievous grin split across her lips.

"You like to cook, right?"

The vampire was smirking as he followed his flustered girlfriend into her house. He'd been all hands on the drive over, frustrated that she wouldn't just give in to him already. She'd resisted all of his advances during the day, as she watched him slave over her family's dinner, finally admitting that if he got her into bed, she probably wouldn't leave until the next day, and they still had things to do.

"You can have me all night," she pleaded as he pressed against her back, kissing along her neck as she juggled containers of food and a handful of keys. She finally opened the door and simultaneously unloaded arms as he spun her around. "Let's just have dinner -" He kissed her. "- And then we'll just let the boys know why you'll be staying in my room tonight -" Another kiss. "And... and..."

He felt her finally melt in his arms as he pressed her against the closed door and she knotted her fingers into Damon's hair.

"You're so distracting," she grumbled into his mouth.

"Kind of the point," he huffed back, grinding his hips against hers.

Damon was still in a state of half-shock that this was now his life, that he was allowed to just trap Elena against whatever surface he had available, and press his lips to every inch of her skin he could access. He was just testing his new privilege, sliding his hands up her shirt and kneading the flesh of her back, when he heard a car pull up the drive, and two male voices drifting through the wood of the door.

Story of his life: The second that Elena finally gave into him, the universe cock-blocked him.

"I hate your brother and your stupid pseudo-father," he grumbled against her mouth.

"He's your best friend," she taunted back, brushing past him to collect the food and head toward the kitchen. "Now come help me put this out properly, or you don't get to complain about my lack of culinary skill."

"Coming, dear," Damon sighed, turning the corner into the kitchen just as the other men burst through the front door.

"- Not saying that it isn't valid; I'm just saying it loses some of its legitimacy this way."

The sound of Jeremy chuckling could be heard down the hall. "Whatever, Ric, you're just pissed because you have a thing for redheads, and you like Mary-Jane better than Gwen."

A splutter. "That is so – Hang on. Something actually smells good in here."

There was a thumping sound as the newcomers practically ran to the kitchen, and Damon heaved himself up to sit on the counter.

"They're surprised because you can't cook," he whispered loudly.

"You're hilarious," Elena deadpanned, shoving him lightly.

"'Lena, what did you – Oh!" Jeremy blurted once he'd spotted Damon.

Alaric frowned at his friend before narrowing his eyes on the young woman. "Elena, what's Damon doing here?"

"Yeah, Elena," the vampire drawled, ignoring Jeremy who dove onto the containers of fresh pasta and meat sauce. "What am I doing here?"

Before she could answer, Alaric groaned loudly. "You gave into him!"

"I – what?" she shrieked as Damon barked out a laugh.

"Come on, Elena. You and I both know that he could only look that smug if you gave him a reason."

"And you gave me a lot of excellent reasons," Damon murmured in a gravelly voice, leaning away from Elena tiny fist as she swung at him.

"Dude," Jeremy whined around a mouthful of bread. "That's my sister."

"And that," the vampire snapped back with an amused glint in his eye, jumping off the counter to follow the boy, "Is disgusting. Don't talk with your mouth full."

The younger dropped the roll onto his plate and continued to argue with Damon as they made their way into the kitchen, followed by Ric with an armload of serving dishes.

And as the men all settled into their seats, they missed the single tear rolling down Elena's cheek.