Summary: AU. Elena starts working for the Council after her parent's brutal murder and gets sent to investigate some suspicious "animal" attacks. Her quiet fact finding mission quickly spirals out of her control into something much more dangerous when she unsuspectingly runs into one Damon Salvator. And is the Council being completely honest with her? She's beginning to think not. Rated M for violence, language and some sexual content.

Author's Note: So this is my first time trying out fan fiction. Hopefully someone out there likes it! Let me know! And suggestions are always welcome.

Disclaimer: Don't own The Vampire Diaries. Sad, I know.

Elena had been in town for a day before she made her trip to the big county courthouse. She arrived afterhours, after the sun had just set and the biting chill of night had started to creep in. A storm was starting to blow in and the first flurries of snow had started to fall, swirling around the glowing street lamps. She entered through a side door and made her way down the large marble hallway, her boots clicking rhythmically.

She stopped at the last door on the right and took a deep breath before slowly walking into the dark office. "Hello?" Elena called, entering hesitantly and glancing around.

A middle age woman dressed smartly in a charcoal pencil skirt and button up white shirt with wavy auburn hair came around a divider and stopped, gazing at her with an odd expression on her face. "Who are you?" she asked tersely.

Elena frowned slightly but stepped forward, offering her hand. "I'm Elena Gilbert. I'm looking for Marian Bradley?"

"They sent you?" she said, a slight scathing quality to her voice.

Elena dropped her hand. "I'm sorry, have we met?"

The woman seemed to realize what she had done and shook her head. "No, I'm sorry, I was just expecting someone with a bit more… experience in these matters."

Elena frowned. "Is it that obvious that I'm new?"

"Yes, it is. That and I heard about your parent's death. I know you started working with the Mystic Falls' Council soon after that. What has it been? Six months?"

Elena winced slightly at the reminder. "Yes." Six months since she had first discovered the existence of vampires.

"I'm Ms. Bradley. Can I see the letter the Council gave you?" she asked brusquely. Elena handed over a folded letter and the woman examined it closely for several long, tense moments before thrusting it back at Elena. "Wait here for a moment while I grab the envelope they sent for you." She disappeared behind a partition for several minutes, rustling sounds accompanying her. When she reemerged she held a thick manila envelope, which she handed to Elena and then stepped back. "Read that when you get to wherever you're staying and do exactly as it says. And for the love of all that's holy, don't tell people who you work for or why you're here." She turned away and just as abruptly disappeared into another dark, adjoining room.

Elena shook her head and tucked the envelope under her arm and quickly left. This was not how she imagined her first assignment from the Council going. She thought that by getting out of Mystic Falls she'd escape some of the stigma surrounding her after her parent's death. Apparently, it had followed her even here, to this small, nothing town in Pennsylvania. The Council had been shocked when they discovered that Miranda and Grayson had told her nothing of her heritage, that she had discovered the existence of vampires when she first saw her parents drained and mangled corpses, the monster responsible still standing over them. Her ignorance initially dissuaded the Council from admitting her, but eventually her adamant resolve to join their cause finally convinced them and they reluctantly decided to allow her to fulfill the role her parents had for some reason denied her.

After almost six months, they had finally decided to let her be useful and told her they had a job for her. It was safe, they told her, merely research into a few reports they had gotten from another vampire aware town up north. Safe seemed to be an overstatement. After only a day here, this town seemed even sleepier than Mystic Falls. She was getting more and more convinced that it was Mayor Lockwood's goal to just get her out of town so she'd stop complaining that they never let her do anything.

As she stepped out of the courthouse, it seemed almost as if it had gotten colder outside in the few minutes she had been in the building. It was only seven o'clock at night, and already the town seemed empty. She got to her car and quickly got in and started it up, blasting the heat. She swung the rental around and drove down the small hill to Main Street and took a left towards one of the town's two stoplights.

In a matter of moments she was on a narrow country road, surrounded by trees and fields. The snow had picked up and the asphalt had started to ice a bit. As she came around a bend, her eyes fell on a large broken tree limb sprawled across the road. She slammed on the brakes, the back end of her car skidding out and swinging around as she lost control, spinning into a large snow bank off the side of the road.

As the car thudded to a stop, she gripped the wheel with fingers tingling from the adrenaline, her breath ragged, barely believing what happened. She sat completely unmoving for a moment then swore softly. She tried the gas but the wheels just spun in the deep snow and eventually she got out, wrapping her scarf a bit tighter, to inspect her situation.

Lights coming over the knoll caught her attention and she watched as they slowed, eventually stopping several feet down the road from her. "Are you alright?" a voice asked as the driver got out of the car.

"I'm fine, just hit a bad spot of ice," she called back, squinting in the headlights. She glanced over as the man approached and froze, her mouth suddenly dry as she got her first good look at him. He was the last thing she expected to see in this podunk little town. She noticed he appeared to be young, maybe a little older than her, and staggeringly good looking with a shock of black hair and startling light eyes, noticeable even in the darkness. The collar of his wool jacket was popped around his neck against the biting cold as he came closer with his hands shoved deep in his pockets. She berated herself silently for acting like a hormonal teen and forced her attention back to her car. "I think I'm stuck."

"Looks that way," he agreed with a hint of humor behind his voice. She looked at him sharply and caught the slight smirk. "Good thing it happened to you. If not, I wouldn't have slowed down and it'd have been me swerving to avoid that tree."

"Anything to help," Elena quipped back. "You think you can give me a push?"

"No," the man said. Elena looked at him in disbelief and he smiled again. "Look at this. You bent an axel. You're not going anywhere."

"God damn it," she swore, standing straight from examining the back of her car with him. She glanced around, the only lights being several miles down the road. She looked back at the man to find him watching her intently. She shifted in the snow self consciously, slightly uncomfortable under his gaze.

"Do you need a ride somewhere?" he asked. His eyes were blue, she noticed, pale and striking, like glacial ice, and all the more bright due to his dark lashes.

She blinked and dropped her gaze with a slight frown. "I'm heading over to the Sharington Bed and Breakfast."

"That's over thirty miles away," he deadpanned.

"Yes," she agreed. "Look, if I can get back to town I'll get a ride from some people I know—"

"No one's going to want to drive thirty miles on bad roads over that hill," he looked her over carefully. "I live just up the road. If you want, you can stay in my extra bedroom and we'll call the garage in the morning to come get your car."

Elena frowned, her heart speeding up at the thought of being anywhere near this man overnight. "Thanks, but I really just need a ride to town."

He shook his head. "I can't get around the tree to take you back. Promise I'll be the perfect gentleman." He grinned and held out his hand. "I'm Damon."

Elena looked back to the tree then reluctantly reached out to take his hand. "Elena Gilbert," she said, sliding her hand into his, surprised by how warm and soft his touch felt. "You're sure you're okay offering up your place?"

"Of course. It's not everyday you run into a pretty stranger on the side of the road that needs help." He grinned mischievously. "Need anything in your car?"

"I'll grab my bag." She popped the trunk and grabbed her big duffle. Damon quickly pulled it from her grasp despite her protests and started heading for his car.

"Hurry, it's freezing out here!"

Elena reluctantly followed him, unable to shake her surprise at how easy she felt around this unknown man as she opened the passenger side door and slipped into the pleasant heat of the car. Damon threw her bag in the back and a moment later had the car in gear, heading back the way he had come.

"So what are you doing here in the middle of nowhere? You're obviously not from around here," he asked as they drove, flakes of snow streaking past the headlights like stars.

"I'm just here for work."

He glanced at her. "What kind of work brings you to a place like this?"

"My company is working with the local historical society. We're based out of Virginia and we're doing some research into small town PA."

"Ah," he said and for a moment she thought she detected a slight sneer to his words. "Sounds intriguing."

Elena frowned. "What do you do?"

"I travel quite a bit. Circumstances have brought me here for a while." Elena started to comment that he hadn't actual answered her question but a moment later he pulled into a driveway that led behind a copse of trees, revealing a quaint farmhouse. He parked and killed the ignition, getting out and grabbing her bag. "Let's get you settled then."

Elena stood next to the car and hesitated. The easy feeling she felt moments before was starting to slip away, replaced by something she couldn't quite place. He stopped and glanced back at her. "You know, I think I'll just use your phone to call into town. It's really too much to stay out here. You've been such a help already," she said quickly, coming around the car.

He looked at her closely but nodded. "Sure, come on in. There's really no reason for you to go though."

The house was warm, heated by a warm fireplace in the living room that they entered upon coming in the front door. The only light came from the flames, sending an eerie, flickering glow over everything. The furniture looked comfortable but worn and lived in. It didn't really seem to go with what little of Damon's personality she had seen.

She slipped out of her coat, then turned and looked at him—and froze. He was standing next to the door, her bag dropped, forgotten, on the floor. His face had transformed into a cold, hostile mask, his pale eyes almost seeming to glow with animosity in the flickering light. The danger radiating off him hit her like a physical blow and she stumbled back a step, cursing herself for a fool, now knowing exactly what she faced.

"Why are you really here, Elena?" he fairly hissed, stepping towards her, his movements unnaturally fluid.

She fumbled in her pocket for the wooden stake she always carried and pulled it out with numb fingers. Damon's figure blurred and pain seared up her arm as he roughly knocked it out of her hand, sending it flying across the room. She clutched her hand with a gasp and fell back even farther, glancing around furtively for something to protect herself with.

Damon blurred again and suddenly his hand had a death grip around her neck. She clutched at it, his unnatural strength just cementing her fear in what he was even more.

"You should answer me, Elena," he said quietly as she clawed at his fingers, trying to draw breath. He let up his hold and she gasped with a choking cough.

"I—I don't know." His grip started to tighten again and she quickly continued. "They said some unnatural attacks had been reported here. I was supposed to check in with the local Council and see what they needed me to do."

Damon's grip loosened again as he reached up and leiserly pulled the scarf from around her throat. He slowly circled around behind her, his fingers trailing loosely across the now bare skin of her neck as he came to stand close behind her. "Tell me what the lovely Ms. Bradley said then," he breathed into her ear, sending shudders through her body.

"She didn't tell me anything."

"Why don't I believe that?" he responded, his head ducking lower. She felt his hot breath over her pulse point and forced herself to remain unmoving.

"I'm telling the truth. I don't know what they want me to do!"

Damon's fingers slipped into her long brown hair, almost caressingly until they tightened abruptly, jerking her head roughly to the side as he reached up and casually ripped her blouse open, buttons flying everywhere, causing a small whimper to escape her as she attempted to control her trembling. "So you are telling me," he breathed into her ear, gently pulling her shirt farther away from her neck and down over her now bare shoulder, "that you showed up and they just told you to go to your hotel and wait?" His head slipped lower and she heard him draw a deep breath over her bare skin. "Hmm. Be a good girl and tell me the truth, or this could turn unpleasant."

Through her fear, Elena remembered the envelope still sitting on the front seat of her wrecked car. She considered not telling him for all of five seconds until she felt sharp teeth brush her skin. She didn't care then; she wanted to live. "In the car," she gasped, pulling against the hand holding her head in a vice grip. "There's an envelope in the car."

Damon chuckled deep in his throat, almost a growl. "Well that's inconvenient."

"Just let me go, please," she said.

"No," he replied and struck. Pain seared through her as his fangs pierced through the delicate skin over her artery. She struggled wildly and the agony only increased, flashing through every vein like fire as her blood was quickly and efficiently drawn out. She beat at him with one hand, the other sunk into his hair, trying to desperately pull him away from her as she begged him to stop.

Damon's other arm wrapped around her waist, pulling her closer to him as her legs went out and her flailing arms grew heavy and dropped to her side. The pain lessened slightly and the dizziness and numbness started to pull her down. Eventually the draw stopped and he pulled back slightly, lapping idly at the streams of dark blood running across her skin and soaking into her ruined shirt.

"Hmm," he hummed again, sated, and hefted her in his arms, walking her over and laying her down on the couch. "You taste fucking amazing. I might have to keep you around after all."

Elena groaned and tried to sit up but was too weak to do more then flop her arms around a bit. She heard him laugh and looked up at him with dim eyes. He smirked at her and then disappeared. She tried again to get up but her head spun violently and nausea pulled at her, and before she really knew what happened, everything went dim and then completely, hopelessly dark.