Nope I ain't dead! And I am so ashamed that I cant even think of apologizing, so yeah lets just get on with the things that are important!

Damon looked at her face now, very well aware of what he consciously did just seconds ago. 'So what? I'm a guy and I just simply can't deny my eyes the pleasure if something beautiful presents itself before them, especially if there's no harm in it.'

They were standing so close together at that moment, that they could feel each others breath on their faces. The reason was clear why they stood so close; Elena loved invading Damon's personal space and he was just too stubborn to move away, and stepping away would also mean backing down from a situation and that most certainly wasn't in Damon Salvatore's book. You could also say that there were certain personality traits of Damon's that he was completely slave to, his ego has been a big dominating factor in his life, directing him to make all sort of choices that lead him so far.

Noticing their proximity a distant observer would defiantly assume that the two were possibly enthralled by each other, which in result possibly captivated them in their current position, but as a known fact, it was far from the truth; well at least not in Damon's case.

Liking the closeness Elena smiled widely and opened her mouth to say something, but she got interrupted as they heard a frantic Alaric shouting out to the students, that were apparently still not ready. Sighing she said, "I think we should head over to the front." Damon nodded and waited for Elena to pass by him so that he could follow her instead of leading. They made their way to the rest of the class that was gathered around Mr. Saltzman and were impatiently listening to whatever he was saying.

"Finally, is everyone here?" Alaric questioned. Almost everyone nodded or replied with a 'yes'. "Good." Waving the clipboard that he held in his hand he proceeded, "Now, you all can comprehend the fact that we're way behind the schedule!" Staring at all the unresponsive expressions on the students faces he continued in annoyance, "Urgh! Now without any further delay I must tell you about this week's activities. We've got six days ahead children, seven if you count today as well, so I've planned the tasks for the days as follows." After flipping a few pages of his clipboard he started reading from it, "Now, I want you all to split into pairs for the first task, yes I'll repeat myself, PAIRS! The list of students tells me that we've got twenty-four campers including me and Mr. Salvatore, so one of you will have to pair up with me, probably. So lets take a moment and choose a partner everyone."


After Mr. Saltzman's last shout, a lot of shuffling was heard along with a few quarrels here and there. Elena immediately turned towards Damon, who stood staring off into the space before him, he was already aware that fate had long since paired him up with Miss Gilbert for this day; so no point in turning around to confirm it. The unfortunate strings of his duty, had bound him to her, with tight knots no less.

Elena smiled at Damon's blank stare, she knew he only appeared blank, in actuality this state of his meant that he was more than aware of his surroundings. He had a habit of doing this thing quite often and obviously Elena found it more then adorable; the girl's infatuation knew no bounds, she found everything the man did delightful.

"So have we all settled up on pairs?" No one paid the teacher any attention as squabbles were still going on. Clearing his throat repeatedly for a good measure, Mr. Saltzman once more shouted at the top of his lungs. "I said, are we settled in pairs?"

"Only Bonnie's left sir," Stefan squeaked immediately after the teacher's outburst.

After nodding his head at Bonnie and Stefan's direction in acknowledgment, Alaric turned towards Elena, "Elena, I was hoping you'd partner with Bonnie for this task, as you know this is a students only activity. I know due to your circumstances your bodyguard was allowed on the trip but it would be preferable if we don't stretch that too far."

The instant Alaric started talking, Damon came out of his 'blank mode' and stared intently at Elena, she blinked twice at her teacher, then contemplated how to respond to him. Damon stayed silent, but he couldn't help but wish that he'd be allowed to partner up with the teacher, at that moment anyone beyond the mental age of seventeen would do for him, but sadly he knew fate was a cruel bitch and would smack his duty hard in his face. Also he was well aware that he couldn't risk Miss Gilbert's safety out here in the wilderness, this was what he was actually appointed for.

"Mr. Saltzman, you do know why Damon's here in the first place? I wouldn't even be here if Damon wasn't here, so um... it'd be best if he stays with me," Elena responded politely.

Alaric exhaled loudly and said, "I guess that leaves me with Bonnie, then. Well, In this case, I don't really have to inform you about being careful and all the precautions for the wilderness Elena, I'm sure that Mr. Salvatore here is more then well versed in that area." He took a pause and then pointedly stared at both the people in front of him, "But I must inform the both of you clearly, it would be best if you don't entirely rely on Mr. Salvatore and in turn I would like to advice you Mr Salvatore, that you only help her out, if it's absolutely necessary, otherwise there will be no point in doing the first task."

Damon attempted to smile at the teacher in reassurance but failed miserably; he was hopeless at somethings, so instead he nodded his head briefly. In contrast to her companion Elena smiled brightly at Mr. Saltzman, "Oh, you don't have to worry about anything Mr. Saltzman, I'll not depend on Damon." Damon didn't believe the girl's claim one bit, and from the looks of it, neither did Mr. Saltzman.

It wasn't that Elena was the kind of person that would deliberately rely on someone, it was just that she was naturally incapable of being self sufficient, and no one could blame her for that because she was not your average girl. Staring at both the male's unconvinced expressions her own face fell, "What? I'll be able to get though the task without Damon's help."

"I seriously doubt that," Alaric muttered under his breath, but Damon caught it and a smirk slipped passed his lips.

"Well then I believe I should inform Bonnie that I'll be accompanying her, while I do that you guys go ahead and stand with the rest, I have yet to explain what you all are suppose to do for the first task." After indicating towards the rest of Elena's class, Mr. Saltzman went to Bonnie.

Damon and Elena waited with the rest while they saw the teacher conversing with Bonnie. It was a little over a minute when they too made there way over to the class. Once more standing in front of the kids and the bodyguard, Alaric cleared his throat and started speaking again.

"Well now that everyone's got their pairs, lets move on to the next step. Now you all do know that you aren't little children, which is why I've thought of actually giving you a camping challenge. You guys settled well enough yesterday here with all your camping gear, even though a lot of you struggled long and hard with even setting up your tents," at this point his eyes quickly surveyed all the students he remembered having a really hard time, his eyes stayed on Elena a little longer and then he continued with his speech, "Now although sleeping in tents and having minimal facilities around may not be as comfortable as your houses, it's still enough to make you feel well accommodated in the current environment. You've spent one night at the campsite with your belongings to facilitate you; now however, the idea is to see how will you fend for yourself if all that is taken away from you."

The instant Alaric paused all the kids started talking amongst each other in confusion, they still had no idea what their teacher had planned for them. The hushed whispers slowly escalated in to shouts and Damon was having a hard time controlling his annoyance, Elena stood next to him but was deeply immersed in a conversation with Caroline and Klaus, which two by the way had somehow ended up paring together. Seeing as the chaos unfolding in front of him wasn't gonna go anywhere, Alaric intervened with a loud cough, which definitely went unnoticed and caused one of his eyebrows to twitch in annoyance, 'kids these day were so infuriating'.

Standing amidst the crowd Damon too shared the teacher's sentiment, he crossed his arms onto his chest and stepped outside the group of frantic teenagers. He almost wanted to help out Alaric because he knew what it felt like dealing with teens, but he refrained from doing so, cause it really wasn't any of his business.

Glaring as hard as he could at his students Alaric couldn't contain his anger any longer, "Would all of you just shut up and listen to me before jumping on to your own conclusions!"

Not expecting such a tantrum from their usually calm teacher, made all the students absolutely quiet. The silence was so noticeable that everyone could hear the wind softly whistling around. Somehow Damon found the whole situation quite enjoyable, maybe perhaps somewhere deep down he could relate to Alaric, after all, his job on some level was akin to his, it may be distressful but both their roles were authoritative. For a second the bodyguard wondered, had they interacted more was there a possibility that he could have been friends with the teacher, for all he knew he seemed like a likeable character.

Not risking to loose the silence by further stretching it Alaric continued, "Well, now what was I saying, yeah; now the idea is to see how will you fend for yourself, if all the facilities are taken away from you. It's something like, what would you do to survive if someday you just land unprepared within a forest? So the task is, I want you all to leave this campsite for exactly 24 hours, explore, go as far as you think you can manage within the given time, as I want you back here tomorrow at exactly the same time you leave here today. You are not allowed to take anything of use, you are just supposed to pack enough material that would suffice for one meal and some water, that's it! Now I had thought of not allowing you anything at all as otherwise it would defy the purpose of sending you to this task altogether, but I figured that then it would be really cruel, so I discarded the initial idea."

The man took a brief pause to observe everyone's reaction, and they appeared awestruck, well except for Damon of course, who looked as if he had seen this coming.

After not even hearing even a squeak from anyone, the teacher continued talking once again, "Now you already know that you've been divided into pairs, I'm sure you've figured it out by now why exactly is that; if not then let me tell you, I thought it wouldn't be wise to send you all independently on this excursion. Hence the pairs. If one of you is incapable of something you can rely on your partner for that, it'll be a mutual relationship that might get you through the next 24 hours. So are we clear so far?"

There was no response from the students only some crickets chimed in the background.

"I said, are we clear so far?"

"Yes!" The entire group chorused as if suddenly they were reawakened from the dead.

"Good, now on to the next thing; there's gonna be eleven pairs considering you all, and I want you all to head in different directions, as you shouldn't be bumping into other pairs, nope I absolutely don't want that. You might cheat, due to thinking that it might benefit you somehow, but let me inform you, on one side it might turn out to be beneficial for you but on the other hand the other pairs may turn out to be a liability for you, so yeah do yourselves a favor, avoid others on your way. Everyone out there should be or at least try to be self sufficient."

" Mr Saltzman, how come there's eleven pairs, I thought you said we were twenty-four."

"Good observation, Tyler. You see me and my partner, that happens to be Bonnie by the way, aren't going on the excursion. We'll stay back here and make sure that none of you come back before the given time," answered Alaric with a knowing smile on his face, the guy knew what he was doing. Bonnie looked relieved, while the rest of the class glared at her with envy. The girl knew of the class' response to her good luck, but all she did was turn around and glare at Elena, who in turn ignored her and happily went over to Damon.

Upon seeing Elena next to him, Damon was once more assured of what was to come, 'life just couldn't get any better.'

"So Miss Gilbert, I believe we should pack the food and water we require."

Sighing Elena nodded. Although she seemed excited, probably at the prospect of being entirely alone with Damon for the next 24 hours, she appeared a little shaken too, and Damon noticed it.

"What's the matter Miss Gilbert," he dropped his voice and teased, "you scared?"

"I'm not scared, it's just that I'm worried, this isn't gonna be easy."

"Well not for you of course, frankly speaking I was wondering how did you manage out here in this tacky campsite till now, and now we have Mr Saltzman's "task". I personally think you're not up for it."

"The campsite's been okay, It was just scary during the night," exclaimed Elena and then she averted her eyes, "I just didn't like the feeling of being in open woods."

Her words bridged a repellent subject, one that both were hoping to avoid till it was completely forgotten. But as fate was against them concerning certain matters, Elena made the mistake of unconsciously staring at his hair with a spark of longing in her eyes. As Damon saw where her eyes were directed, his face started heating up. As the awkwardness from the morning returned completely Elena chose exactly that moment to stare straight into his eyes.

Both were aware of what was going through the others head, and they silently kept on staring at each other. Sheepish Elena might be at the moment but gradually realization dawned on her that she hadn't done anything out of the ordinary, her caressing Damon's hair was something akin to her usually expressed affections, like holding his hand or circling his arm while walking, maybe perhaps her initial bashful reaction was the cause of her being caught by him. While still staring at the man in front of her, her thoughts finally settled and she accepted it to herself that she wasn't going to hide the unavoidable any longer, in fact she was going to express what she had held back since that beautifully wonderful moment.

Damon's face scrunched up in a slight dread as he saw the girl's expression change from a startled to a shy one. He knew something horrendous was coming his way, he metaphorically braced himself for the inevitable annoyance that he was most certainly gonna feel.

He stared at her a second longer, and then he saw her lips move,"Damon, I-I wanted to tell you something." And with that he sighed to himself, 'Here we go.'

"Y-your hair, I love it."


"Yeah, umm well, it's softer than what it appears to be."

A frown now covered Damon's face as he remarked, "Miss Gilbert, why are we talking about my hair."

"Cause I like talking about things related to you of course."

Elena's reply only made him angry, the girl was once again stepping onto the forbidden line and Damon had to stop her before he got more irritated. "Listen Miss Gilbert," he raised his pointer finger and stepped closer, "I know what you did last night, and I don't like it. So stop talking about it and never do anything like that again, you understand me?"

Elena looked at his stance, he looked so threatening and masculine, it only made her heart flutter.'I love this man,' she thought and smiled exuberantly. While seeing her smile, Damon could only sigh, he wondered about how useless it was to reprimand the girl about certain matters. Thankfully Mr Saltzman chose that moment to speak once again, it helped both of them to avoid the matter at hand.

"Now I expect all of you to pack up and gather in front of me within fifteen minutes, I'll be checking your bags to make sure that none of you packed unnecessary materials, once that is done then you'll all be allowed to leave at precisely the same time, and we'll all be meeting at that same time tomorrow. Now is everything clear? Any questions? No? Good! Now get to packing!"

Finally taking in all that was about to come, Elena sighed deeply. Damon turned towards her directly and sternly said, "I think we should start packing up." The girl gave another sigh, "Yeah we should." Subtly she grabbed his hand and pulled them towards their tents.

"Damon are we allowed to pack some clothes?"

"I don't think so Miss Gilbert, the teacher only mentioned food and water."

Listening to those words the alarmed girl abruptly came to a halt and Damon stopped right next to her, "No, it can't be, it gets really cold at night and I'm just wearing shorts and a shirt that has absolutely no sleeves."

She was right, her babydoll shirt had thin straps to hold it up instead of sleeves. And that wasn't the only thing wrong with it; the shirt's material was flimsy enough, that since Damon was standing so close, he could make out the elaborate design of her white bra underneath. As his eyes raked her body he noticed how snugly her soft chest fit within the gorgeous piece of silk and lace. The man could also make out her flat bare stomach beneath the fluttery material of the shirt that cascaded below the chest area. The girl's short shorts didn't offer much covering, meaning; she was in for a rough night.

After a quick inspection of her flawless body, Damon brought his eyes back to hers, and as she stood there staring back into his with her brown pools of innocence, a sudden unpleasant thought hit him. If he was able to observe her like he did, then every other guy around also had the same privilege. And Damon Salvatore didn't like that thought one bit. A feral rage burst in his chest, and he could minutely feel a conflict in himself, on one side he wanted to reserve this enticing site, but never at the cost of other predators lurking around. He mentally used that term deliberately because he was aware of how dirty men could get and just the thought of it made him clench his fists.

Elena witnessed the fluctuation of expressions on her bodyguard's face and it immediately alarmed her because mostly he showcased exasperation. The girl was excessively confused because just a moment ago she had experienced a wave of pleasure as she saw him observe her figure in detail, she wondered what caused him to switch from inspection to anger. "Damon what's wrong?"

"What's wrong?" his voice sounded like a growl as he stepped closer, "This is what's wrong!" Elena looked down and saw his hand, it had some part of her shirt crumpled up in it now.

"What about it?" she trembled, and not just from his angry demeanor but also from the sensation that flowed through her as his gesture seemed not decent at all, on the contrary it was completely improper. Him stretching her shirt by holding it had cause her stomach to expose and she knew he could see it, her flawless skin was on display for him and adding to that he was being rough; it all felt amazing.

Damon knew what he was doing was inappropriate, but something overcame him and he continued as he stepped even closer. "You know what I mean," As he glared at the girl, he wanted to tell her how she shouldn't have worn what she did, but what he didn't understand was, why at the moment her being exposed to other males mattered more then being exposed to the cold later. The funny thing was her body wasn't even revealed in an indecent manner, however short or flimsy it may be she had on a proper form of clothing.

"No, I don't." By this point they were so close that their faces could be misinterpreted for touching each other. Damon was highly conflicted at that moment, he didn't know why his advancement on the matter had a possessive feel to it, he just felt something pinching him from the inside, and it was proving hard to decipher, it only made him more agitated with the girl in front of him and himself. 'Whats wrong with me, why am I even bothered about this?'

"Damon, what's wrong?" the girl questioned again, but he was too immersed within his thoughts to notice. 'Is it, is it because it's Miss Gilbert? Yeah that might be the reason. Don't want this girl to be in any sort of inconvenience, that's my job after all' his thoughts echoed a satisfactory reason, and he believed it without pondering further .

But he couldn't tell her that, it would be like confessing that he cared about her encountering any sorts of problems, which he definitely did cause she was his responsibility. But he knew Miss Gilbert, and he knew she'd twist that fact and make something entirely bizarre and unbearable out of it. So he had to change tactics. "This is wrong, your clothes, they're not even covering you properly, they're not enough to hold up against the cold. What do you expect to do when you'll be undoubtedly shivering at night."

"Err... well.."

"And what if you catch a fever, that will be even worse."

"Umm, I..."

Glaring Damon started "That's what I-" but he was unable to finish his sentence as a third voice intervened from a slight distance.

"Hey, Elena." It was Stefan.

Acting purely on instinct, Damon grabbed Elena by the waist and positioned her behind himself in order to obscure Stefan's vision of her. Damon most certainly didn't want that guy ogling Miss Gilbert. Startled Elena tried moving back, but Damon's arm that he stretched backwards stopped her from it. In a swift movement he slightly turned and glared at her, "Go inside your tent and pack edibles for the two of us, I'll get the water," She tried saying something but another glare from him made her leave.

Turning around he faced Stefan, the boy was scowling at him but Damon didn't pay him any heed, he moved towards his own tent in order to get the water and saw Stefan leave through his periphery. He knew an unexpected mentally aggravating day laid ahead of him and he just wished he could quickly get over with it. Sighing he opened his tent's flap and went inside. He emptied the entire contents of his backpack and just put in a water bottle, once done he exited and waited patiently outside Elena's tent.

A few minutes later she came out carrying a bag that seemed like it held the right amount of food. Reaching forward he said, "Here give me that, I'll put the stuff in mine, we don't need to carry two bags." Elena did as she was told. After the exchange was done Elena slipped her bad within the tent and looked at Damon. "So we ready to go?" she asked with a tint of excitement.

Nodding Damon didn't say anything, but grabbed her arm gently on his own accord and steered them towards where Alaric was waiting at their departing point.

WHEW! Long chapter! Longest yet! Anyway, I hope you guys liked it. Now I'm again not gonna make any promises, I'm unpredictable as you've probably noticed. Plus I'm actually experiencing a problem that's further hindering the progress of this story. Guys I'm struggling greatly with my English language skills, I've sort of developed a complex that's really bringing me down. If you've seen nonsensical and ill structured sentence in the chapter, well guys that's the problem I was referring to. If you're further curious and don't exactly know what I mean by what I just said, then you're more than welcome to PM me and ask about it. Maybe you might even be able to help me out of my turmoil. Anyway thanks for reading and bye for now.