This was only supposed to be a one-shot, a little way of venting some frustration with the slow, slow burn of Damon and Elena. Somehow, without my quite knowing how, it morphed into a massive alternate version of Season 3 with a key difference: Elena chooses Damon. That changes everything. This was written right along with the season, trying to stay one step ahead and twist canon in new ways, always trying to dodge the curve balls the show threw at me while looking at what a real relationship between the two would look like and tossing in a few surprises of my own.

This story is a very hard T, with graphic violence and frank sexual discussion. Damon also says "fuck" a lot. It's been an insane story to write, challenging and difficult but so rewarding as a person and a writer. I hope you enjoy.

-Allison, 5/12/12

"You know what? If I'm going to feel guilty, I'm going to feel guilty about this"

Damon's hands were on her face, lips pressing hers in a feather-light touch. Everything spun in Elena's head in a desperate swirl of emotions and input. It was all too much, the situation with Jeremy, Stefan's "betrayal," and now Damon kissing her so tenderly, almost fearfully, like she was a confection of blown glass that might shatter into a million pieces at the slightest touch. Where was the fire of the Damon who'd drunkenly sworn there was something between them, the sweet regret in their death bed encounter, that fierce protectiveness of the man who'd saved her, in so many ways, time and again?

They parted by mutual consent a moment later, her lips cold from his touch. Those blue eyes searched her face and seemed to find their answer. "Goodnight, Elena." He started down the steps.

No. If she was going to make a fresh start, to truly and really let Stefan go, it wasn't going to happen like this. She grabbed his leather-clad forearm, and he turned towards her in surprise.

"If I'm just as guilty, I might as well feel bad about this." Elena snaked one arm around his neck, drawing Damon in. And she kissed him.

This time, there were no pesky invading thoughts, no angst over Jeremy or memories of another Salvatore's touch. No, there was only an outpouring emotion for this man, this son of a bitch who'd threatened her, hurt her, protected her, saved her, comforted her and always, always loved her.

This was no gentle press of lips, this was a kiss that consumed all thought, her body pressed against his, fingers woven through his dark hair. Damon's body went rigid for a moment, surprised by her sudden advance, but then he relaxed against her, his fingers raising once more to brush her cheeks, the calloused pads of his thumbs caressing the delicate skin. His lips parted, yielding under her insistent tongue.

For an endless moment they devoured each other, standing in the pale glow of the porch light. When they finally released one another, each backed up a step, staring at the other with wide eyes, breath coming in short gasps.

"God. Elena-"

Elena's hand lifted to brush Damon's swollen lips. "Good night, Damon."

With a secret smile over her shoulder, she disappeared into the house. She knew she'd regret this in the morning, but for now, that kiss was worth a little guilt.