A/N: Ah ha! Take that Writer's Block! So, I can't vouch for the quality of this thing, since it was mostly just an exercise to get me out of my slump. I have two other parts, a before and after, planned for this, but they won't all be published as the same story, since the ratings will be jumping a little.

For regular readers, please note that I am working on the next chapter of LoA (Far & Away), but, again, writer's block killing me here, so it's slow going.

Set at the end of 3X09. There's a bit about a conversation that happened post-2X22, but that will come out in the next installement.


Shameless self-promotion: Twitter - SweetWillowTree

Disclaimer: I do not own The Vampire Diaries.

I want to be the smile, the first thought, the long drive or the short walk;

The last voice, the random call, the laugh, the perfect kiss, the comfort hug, your second half;

The sparkle in your eye, the everything you need, just what you want.

It kind of feels like the whole world is shaking.

My hands against Damon's neck. His skin beneath my fingers.

I did it. I admitted it. I put out into the universe a truth that I have been hiding from for way too long.

We have to let Stefan go.

I'm staring into Damon's eyes, and it's another one of those moments; one of those moments that we have all the time that are more intense and complete than any conversation we've ever had. Maybe any conversation I've ever had with anyone...

The air is thick, and I can hardly breathe. Damon isn't breathing at all, and his stillness only makes this more surreal. Is it happening?

His phone rings, of course, snapping the taut link between us and he answers. I hear Katherine's voice on the line, and I pull back, cross my arms, look away.

It bothers me entirely too much when she has any kind of contact with Damon. He's so fragile and vulnerable, and she's too dangerous when she smells blood in the water.

I clench my fists, not out of frustration, but rather to hold the feel of Damon's skin against the palms of my hands. It's one of those creepy teenager things that I do when he isn't looking. Or, at least, when I think he isn't looking. Smiling when I'm near him; hell, even when I'm just thinking about him. Drawing a finger over wherever he touched me last.

That one's been a little less frequent lately. Outside of our sparring, during which he tends to manhandle me as respectfully as possible, he won't be near me at all. I mean, he's still way too close by normal people standards. But since when have he and I ever been normal? He seems to think that his God-given territory is right inside of my personal bubble, and I don't have any chalk to draw a new circle to keep him out. I don't even want to.

I try to brush my hand against his, but he's too quick for me. Or I move against his shoulder, but he's already gotten away. It's like I'm some kind of leper with him, which is a little off-putting given that he couldn't keep his hands off of me when I was firmly and confidently with Stefan.

Is that it? Does he not want me anymore now that I'm floating alone? Am I utterly unattractive if I'm not a prize to be won in their unending sibling rivalry?

To hell with that, because one way or another, this is out now. Klaus is still out there; Stefan's free and still being a dick; there are hybrids on the loose, and while I know that I am, for all intents and purposes, safe by virtue of being valuable to Klaus, Damon is still a target. A huge target. And I won't wait for him to be on his deathbed before kissing him. Again.

"Take care of yourself Katherine," he rumbles, and something in me snarls something nasty.

Then his eyes are on me again, and we're having another moment; saying entirely too much and too little all at once. He turns, walks away from me, and I am still frozen, arms crossed.

"Damon," I say, more breathlessly than I'd anticipated. He doesn't turn, but he does stop moving. I step forward, place a hand on his shoulder, but he shrugs it off. "Damon," I repeat, more firmly this time. "We need to talk about -"

"We just did," he snaps, bringing his glass to his lips before realizing that it's empty, and reaching for a new bottle. "That's the new Elena-approved plan, just letting Stefan go. I got it, thanks."

"No, that's not – Damon," I'm getting a little tired of saying his name; though it rolls off my tongue so naturally now. "Will you at least look at me?"

I say that last bit so quietly, I'm almost surprised that he heard me, vampire senses and all. But he has heard, and he cooperates, shuffling around slowly to meet my eyes. And I guess I must look awfully pitiful, because he softens immediately, moves forward but then checks himself and leans back.

So I make up the difference. I slide one foot across the lush carpet, and try to grab his hand, but he twitches it away.

"I don't want to talk about Stefan anymore tonight. There's nothing we can do about him, and I really don't feel like running my head into the wall anymore."

He frowns a little, probably trying to decipher my train of thought. I wish him luck on that one, because even I'm having a little trouble keeping on point. There's so much to say, and he's so sensitive right now. He always is, with me.

I change tact, leaning back against the table and folding my arms across my chest again. I huff out a laugh.

"Caroline and Bonnie think I'm switching Salvatore's," I state plainly. I know he's surprised because his entire body freezes completely. "It's kind of funny though," I continue, scratching an itch on my eyebrow and ducking my head to look at the floor. "People keep assuming that there would be an immediate correlation between me suddenly getting over Stefan, and suddenly choosing you."

He makes an odd sound in his throat, but still he doesn't move. I don't think he's even heard himself.

"It doesn't work like that, though, right? I mean, I'm not over Stefan; it still hurts me to think about him; I still miss him. But it isn't as sharp anymore, you know?"

That's rhetorical; I really don't want his input right about now, since I'm only just figuring all this out as I'm saying it.

"I know it'll take a while to get over what he and I had, but I don't wanna wait around in the meantime and -"

I look up, meet his eyes. His hand is clutching his glass, motionless at his lips, while his eyes are a little closed off. He seems to be putting a lot of energy into not hearing what I'm trying to say. I try to take his hand again, and he finally moves, blurring back by about a foot. I dart forward now, trying to catch him, but he's still dodging me.

"Why won't you touch me?" I finally ask, growling and whining all at once.

"Excuse me?" He sounds bitter, annoyed. He shakes his head and steps around me, slamming his glass down on the table.

"You heard me," I accuse. "You used to touch me all the time, whether I wanted you to or not. And now it's like your life goal to avoid any contact." To prove my point, I reach out, but this time he doesn't move. My hand grips his forearm tightly. "Why won't you touch me?"

"You don't want to talk about this," he says wearily. "Why are you trying to make me talk about this? We're fine; we've been fine. Can't you just let this thing go?"

"No," I grit out, blinking away angry tears. "Do you not love me anymore? I'm too much trouble, or not worth it if Stefan isn't bothered by it?"

"That isn't true, Elena, and you know it," he hisses. "I can't touch you because – Because one of these days I would surprise you, and you would -"

"How?" I whisper, still not relinquishing my hold on his arm, and edging closer.

His face resets into that mischievous smirk I've grown to love.

"I would kiss you."

I smile a little, I can't help it.

"That doesn't surprise me."

He chuckles a little, then brings up two fingers and presses lightly just behind my earlobe.

"I would kiss you here." Then he moves down to the juncture of my shoulder and my neck. "And here. I would nip at your skin a little." Lightly, his fingers glide along my collarbone. "I would taste you here, just with my tongue."

He licks his lips, his eyes following the path of his digits, and I think I might faint. There isn't enough air in the room for the two of us, and I can't feel my abdomen.

"Another kiss here." His fingers press the same two spots from the opposite side. "And here." And then both of his hands are on my hips. "And while I'm doing that, I would rub circles into your hipbones with my thumbs." He releases a shuddering breath and slips his hands under my shirt, doing exactly what he just described.

"Damon... Please do it. I want you to do it; I need you to do it."

And just like that, he's gone again. I blink hazily; confused for a moment before the frustration takes over.

"Stop. Doing. That."

He almost looks amused, except for the inexplicable anger.



He rolls his eyes. "I remember, Elena, what happened right after Katherine told us that Stefan was gone with Klaus. And now, you're deciding to 'let Stefan go', and it's the same thing all over again. I am not a Stefan substitute. I would do anything for you, but I can't do that."

I understand exactly where he's coming from now, although I can't help but wonder how someone could be so right and so wrong all at once.

"It isn't the same this time. You were right, before; I wasn't thinking, I was just panicking. But it's different; I'm different. Things have changed and I want you, not because of what I can't have, but because you are what I need."

He blinks twice, then cocks his head to the side and gives me a little half-smile.

"Say it, then, if you're so sure." My mouth works soundlessly in a vain attempt to give him what he wants, before he cuts me off. "See, there you go. So thank you for the show, sweetheart, but I think I'll be going to bed now. Alone."

He turns abruptly on his heel and begins to stride away.

"I'm tired of waiting, Damon! That's the point!"

He's back in front of me faster than I can see, and I take an automatic step back.

"You're tired of waiting? You're tired of waiting? You've had be on a leash for at least a year now, with the longing looks, and the repressed emotions. And now that you've decided that there might be something here, I'm just supposed to jump for joy that somehow, now that he's out of the way, I'm suddenly deemed worthy?"

"That's not it!" I yell back. "My head is telling me to take it slow, to be careful. And can you blame me? I say one wrong thing, and you're off the deep end again. But I know how I feel about you, and I'm tired of waiting around for my head to catch up to my heart. Of everything else that's going on right now, that's one thing that I actually can control."

He's still staring down at me with fire in his icy eyes, and I can't keep this up anymore. I lean forward, burying my face in his chest and gripping his shirt in my hands.

"I could leave right now, and find Jeremy, or Caroline, Bonnie, Matt... I could curl up, and cry about how my life is so hard. And they would understand. But that's not what I want, Damon. I want you to comfort me, and tell me that it'll all be okay, because I trust that coming from you. And when you're being stubborn, and you won't get out of my bed, I don't want you to sleep on top of the covers; I want you to hold me. And when I wake up, and I'm on your chest, I don't want to have to jump away from you. I'm tired of being guarded with you. I just need it all out. I just need it to be you."

His hands, previously balled into fists at his sides, rest on my shoulders, and he pulls me away from him. I blink a few times, and then manage to look up at his face. What I see there stuns me for a moment; he's staring at me like he's never seen me before, and when he ducks closer, I close my eyes, expecting him to kiss me. Instead, I hear him chuckle into my ear. I shudder, reaching out to grip his forearms as his hands grab my hips.

"Surprise," he breathes.

I gasp when I feel his lips press against the spot he'd marked earlier, right behind my earlobe. His hands have once again slid up under my shirt, and he's rubbing circles into my hipbones with his thumbs. His lips ghost over my skin to kiss just above my carotid. His teeth graze the spot. A moan escapes me and my eyes drift closed.

"Is this what you want?" he asks, and his voice rumbles against my sensitive skin.

"God, yes," I sigh.

He doesn't say another word, simply moves further down to place a kiss on one end of my collarbone. His tongue darts out, flattens, and slides over the rapid rise-and-fall of my breathing. He sucks on my other shoulder, sure to leave a mark, and then lightly pecks behind my other ear. And before he has a chance to move away, my fingers are knit into his hair, and I drag him over, press our foreheads together.

He's smiling, and I can't help but smile back. I let out a low shaky breath, and his hands move around to splay across my back.

"I – I can't -" I stutter, then giggle.

A soft smile pulls at Damon's lips, and I stroke his cheekbones with my thumbs.

"What can't you do?" he asks, his voice uncharacteristically kind.

"I can't believe this is happening. I spent all this time pushing it all away, but -" I giggle again at the thought that crosses my mind. "You're just so easy."

At that, a legitimate grin makes his eyes glow. "I'm going to try not to be offended."

I snort unattractively, then blush. Damon's face inches almost infinitesimally closer to mine, but I can't even wait those few seconds. I tilt my chin, finally capturing his lips.

He presses my lower body closer to his, and kisses me harder. My knees buckle, actually buckle, and now his arms are the only thing holding me up. My arms snake up and wrap around his neck; I'm trying to haul myself closer to him, but I'm never close enough.

"Ah," I hiss when his tongue parts my lips.

He snickers into my mouth, and pulls me with him, stumbling back until he is seated on the couch, and I am seated on him.

"Better?" he asks against my lips, his hands stroking my thighs on either side of his waist.

"Much," I answer, cupping his face and kissing him harder.

He tips his head back, allowing me control, and I take it. I push him back into the cushions of the couch, running my hands along his chest, kneading the firm muscles rippling just under the surface.

"Mmmm... Elena," he groans.

I smile, which makes it considerably more difficult to continue kissing him. I sigh dejectedly.

"What?" he asks, nuzzling into my cheek.

"I keep smiling; it's awkward."

"Oh Elena," he breathes. It tickles and I lean back. "I know that you probably haven't had all that much experience, but kissing actually is supposed to make you happy."

"Shut up," I order, sucking on his bottom lip.

His tongue slips out of his mouth again, and mine moves against it. We're faster now, and more erratically. I know that we should slow down, stop, talk about something, anything. My mind is screaming, Elena Gilbert, you stop this RIGHT NOW, but my heart (and stomach and everything a little lower,) is screaming, DO NOT STOP!

But fate has other ideas.

"Well, well, well..."

We both freeze, and before I know what's happening, I'm on the couch. Damon's crouched in front of me, and we're both staring at Klaus.

I blink, and everything's changed: Damon's flattened on the floor, held down by one of Klaus' booted feet.

"No, Klaus, don't!" I'm on my feet, at his side, clinging to his arm like it would make a difference.

"I'm sorry, sweetheart. But I am not," he blurs Damon to his feet, "One of your pets."

He's behind Damon now, pulling black hair out by the roots as he tugs his head back. From somewhere I can't see, Klaus produces a stake and holds it to the other vampire's chest.

"Now," the Original continued, "Your elder Salvatore here has tried to kill me. Again. And my tolerance for such transgressions is running dangerously low."

"N-No," I try again, edging forward. Damon's eyes meet mine, telling me to run, but I won't. I can't. "You were right; we made a mistake in calling Mikael. We thought that we could trust him, but we couldn't. Not like we can trust you."

For a moment, Damon stops struggling, and Klaus stops pulling, and both men stare at me.

"Excuse me?" the hybrid laughs.

"Well," I choke out. I'm terrified, but I have to say something to calm him down, get him out. "Well, I'm valuable to you, and I know that you wouldn't let anything bad happen to me. And – And you're friends with Stefan, and Stefan cares about Damon, so -"

I drift off, watching Klaus' eyes, waiting for a reaction. And I am not disappointed.

He shoves Damon toward me, and immediately I'm wrapped in a solid embrace. But over the broad shoulder, I can see the Original's amused expression.

"You think I care about your petty little human drama? Oh no, Elena, I have no time for that. But you do make an excellent point: If you remain cooperative, then I have no reason to hurt you."

I let out a breath that I didn't even realize I'd been holding, and I feel Damon relax beside me as well.

"Okay then," Klaus says happily, clapping his hands together, "I suppose that I'll leave the pair of you to it then. But just remember..." His face falls back into his characteristic menacing scowl. "If I am threatened again, I will not hesitate to drive a stake through dear Damon's heart."

He strides forward, uncomfortably close to the pair of us, his eyes still dancing with amusement. He claps a solid hand on Damon's shoulder and winks.

"Good work, mate," he states cheerily, giving me a quick glance.

And just like that, he was gone, the only sound now being my breath and the crackling of the fire.

"That was... weird," Damon mumbles in my ear, and I nod, smiling a little.

He has one hand on the small of my back, but within a moment, he's stepped back, breaking contact again.

This time, though, when I turn to face him, and I reach out for his hand, he doesn't pull away. I close the gap and smile when our lips connect once again. He laces the fingers of his right hand with my left and draws his thumb across my palm.

"So are we picking up where -?"

I groan, displeased, when the feeling of responsibility settles into my shoulders again, and I shake my head.

"Ugh, I can't." He cocks an eyebrow at me. "I have to go and update Ric and Jeremy before they find out everything from someone else. You know how Jer gets when he isn't included, and Ric's already mad at you enough as it is."

I flatten my palms on his chest and watch as his eyes scan my face and hair. He's drinking me in, and it makes me shake, so when I speak again, my voice is breathy and weak.

"No need to antagonize..." Smirking lips draw a path down my jaw to my neck. "... Him anymo-Mmmm..."

His hands are gripping my ribs possessively, and he's leaving wet kisses on my shoulder. And just as I knot my fingers into his shirt...

"Oh God!" I hear Jeremy exclaim from behind me.

Damon's head drops to my shoulder and my eyes pop open. Glancing over my shoulder, I spot my brother and Ric staring openly at the pair of us, locked together as we are.

"Elena," Ric growls warningly, but it doesn't have the desired effect. I turn, squaring myself defensively while Damon backs off toward his drink cart. "Elena, we are leaving now."

"Don't want a night cap?" the vampire prods, and I shoot him a silencing glance.

"Look, Ric," I attempt, "Damon can drive me home in a little -"

"No, I think you should leave now..." Jeremy interjects. "I mean, I kind of want to talk to you without the raging hormones and raging vampire."

I sigh and look over my shoulder at Damon, who shrugs as if he doesn't care whether I stay or go. But I know he cares; it matters to him whether I take this stand or not.

"Okay," I say to my brother, whose shoulders relax. Ric is still scowling but I offer him a reassuring smile. "I'm coming."

And with that, I turn on my heel, registering the disappointed look on Damon's face moments before I cup his cheek one last time and plant a kiss on his lips.

"See you tomorrow," I whisper.

I want to be yours.