The sunlight felt like a lie to Damon Salvatore's dark and gloomy mood when he woke up that morning. There was nothing bright and warm about today. The tattered remains of the forest green satin were pooled on the plush beige carpet of his room. He hadn't been with a woman in months, much less a vampire; he had forgotten how out of control it could get. There was a few cracks in his wall, where bodies had been slammed in the heat of passion, holes in his sheets where finger nails had curled into fists from sheer pleasure, ripped clothes everywhere in his haste to forget everything last night and feel nothing, but all he could see was her face. He missed her, horribly, and the guilt was overwhelming which was silly. Elena wasn't his girlfriend, he should be allowed to sleep with whoever he wants, but Elena wouldn't see it that way. To her it would be betrayal. He was angry at what she had said, and last night the pain from her rejection had taken over, he had just wanted to shut it off. They had come so far the last few months; she had kissed him for crying out loud. Even though it could never happen again, she had kissed him back. It wasn't anything like he had imagined, but just the simple touch of her lips, her tiny hands wrapped around his, sent fireworks off in his mind. Obviously Stefan was always going to be an issue between them; it was stupid to think she could ever fall in love with him.

He loved Elena, more than he ever imagined possible. She was a wild fire consuming and burning him, inside and out, but he didn't care. It had been worth it to allow himself to love her, especially after Katherine; to have someone to be himself with, even if they were just friends. Anything she wanted, even if it was his brother, he'd give to her. If she wanted the moon, he would have found someway to give it to her. Just to see her smile warmed his heart, to hear her laughter, and he couldn't stand to cause her pain; but he couldn't be hurt anymore either. And when he heard the light foot steps coming up the stairs, he put on his resolve face as she knocked on the bedroom door. She had left him numerous messages, which he mostly erased without thought, so he knew she'd be over this morning. He opened his door wordlessly before shifting over to the window, folding his arms.

The first thing her eyes landed on was his bed, which lay his half packed suitcase. When he had gotten up and kicked Rebecca out he had started throwing various things into the bag, but he just couldn't finish. He couldn't bring himself to leave. "Where… where are you going?" Her voice was barely a shaky whisper as he closed his eyes in sadness. Didn't even have to look at her to know she was going to burst into tears any minute and as soon as she did, he'd be a goner. She knew how to make him weak in the knees right off the bat, already shattering the remaining broken pieces of his heart.

"Thinking about leaving," he said in a velvety voice as he turned to face her. He contemplated leaving Mystic Falls more times then he could count, but every time he went to do it, he only got to the city lines. Her face was always haunting his mind and if he left, she'd be sad, she'd be devastated. With Stefan off the rails, he had wanted to leave at least once a month, but his promise to stay with her always made him come back. The one time he left her, she could have been killed. He had never broken a promise to anyone in his life, and he hated that breaking one to Elena would be the first time, but if he didn't get out, it was going to kill him. He was in a no win situation. If he left now, with all the Originals awake, who knows what could happen, and the uncertainty of her safety was what kept him here. He had to know she was safe. However, no one would be able to do a good enough job.

Her glistening brown orbs traveled around the room, falling on the dress that was on the carpet, but he made no effort to explain, and surprisingly she made no accusations, even though only one woman had a green dress on last night. "I didn't mean it," she whispered, her eyes coming to rest on his as she twisted her white fingers together. The dark circles under her eyes only confirmed her exhaustion, in addition to her wobbly bottom lip as she struggled not to cry in front of him.

You must of," Damon said, hating the way his voice cracked with emotion. Every fiber in his being wanted to forgive her, just pull her into his arms and shut out the world. "Some… part of you must mean it Elena. Something like that just… doesn't slip out. Things that just "slip out" are things that you feel that you've been hiding so clearly there is a problem here. You know that I would have gotten over the conspiracy with Stefan, I'm used to you picking Stefan over me, but you took it way too far."

"I know," she said, taking a step toward him, her vanilla fragrance assaulting his nose as he held it in his lungs. "And I am so sorry. But you don't listen to me. You're always trying to keep me in some glass box and everything that is going on is because of me and I never get a say. Like you don't care about my opinion at all."

Damon raised an eyebrow. "Because you're always off trying to get yourself killed," he said angrily.

"Because you don't listen to me!" she screamed in frustration and he nearly rolled his eyes at how childish that sounded. "You… don't even try to compromise with me Damon and sometimes you're wrong."

"So you… asked Stefan to break my neck so you could go snooping with the original witch and ride off into the sunset together?" he asked, tilting his head. "How am I wrong here? I'm the one who had their neck broken among other things. So, don't you dare try to blame me for this Elena. You betrayed me, not the other way around."

"I'm not blaming you Damon. He only drove me home," she said firmly. "Everyone else had left and I really didn't want to walk home alone. If someone else was around I would have gladly went with them but nothing happened."

"I'm sure," he said moving to the liquor cart in his room. He filled the crystal all the way to the top before downing it in one swallow. "Look, I don't have claim to you Elena, so you can do whatever you want, with whomever you want and I'll do the same. If my loving you is such a problem, I'll stop."

"Damon I don't want it to be like this," she said, taking another step toward him and he turned around so fast it made her jump a little. "I'm just trying to be honest with you."

"Honest Elena? Do you even know what that word means? You've done nothing but lie to me over and over again." His tousled black hair went even more disarray as his angry hand swept over it and he could feel his goddamn humanity bubbling over. He'd be damned if he was going to cry in front of this girl. "You have no idea what you want; you're just… stringing me along while you get over Stefan. You know how much I love you Elena and you're… using it for your own gain, like you always have. Every time you want something you bat those brown eyes at me and get me to do whatever you want. How long do you think you're going to keep jerking me around before I finally reach my breaking point? Is that what you want? You put me through all this grief over the last 3 years to make me feel and all you're making me feel is pain. And I am not going to let you keep ripping my heart out like you have been. I can't do it anymore Elena. You had no right to abuse my feelings for you like you did last night."

Tears finally streamed down her face at the impact of his words as she stared at him in horror. "I'm not using you," she whispered, shaking her head and she tried to close the distance between them but he backed away from her. Damon didn't back away from anyone, and she felt as if she had been slapped when he moved away from her. "I didn't mean what I said. It came out wrong. My mind was already running a million miles an hour and then you were yelling at me without even letting me explain."

Damon mulled over her words for a moment before responding softly. "What if I had Katherine snap your neck while I snuck around your back to protect you from… some bullshit that could have gotten me killed, what would you think? If I had manipulated your feelings the way that you did mine last night, you'd be just as angry as I am. I can't help that I love you Elena. Believe me I've tried to stop and I can't. I just want you to be safe."

Elena's body deflated. "I'm sorry, Damon," she said. "I don't know what else you want me to say or do."

"I don't want to play this game with you anymore," he said, dropping his arms in defeat. "I know you care about me and you can't admit it to yourself or to me for whatever reason and I can't figure out why. So make up your mind. Either love me or don't, but don't swap back and forth. Just be straight with me so I can deal with it. No more games."

It felt like eternity before she had a response and this time when she moved closer to him, he let her clasp both his dangerous hands in hers. "I'm not in love with you," she sniffled and his first instinct was to pull away but she held fast. "But that doesn't mean I can't and it doesn't mean I'm still hung up on Stefan." He really tried to ignore the hope that swelled in his chest. That was a million miles ahead of 'It's always going to be Stefan'. She stared at the ground between them as her fingers tightened around his, trying to form her words properly. "I don't want you to stop loving me and I know you only want to protect me, but I don't need protecting from everything."

Damon had never been sick in his life but he felt like he was going to throw up. "I slept with Rebecca," he said softly, his own hands finally curling around hers, trying to meet her half way. He was always honest with her, even if it hurt, and now was no different. If nothing else, he told her the truth.

"I know," she said, her thumbs running over his knuckles. "I really am sorry Damon… I just… want to be able to make decisions about my life with you. I don't want you to always make them for me. That's… not a relationship. That's you babysitting me."

Her heart was racing, like a gong in his head. "It's a two way street Elena," he said softly. "You can't just go off on your own suicide missions without talking to me. I might not like your choices and I know it feels like you have to report to me but I just want to know that you're safe. I need to know where you are and when you go out of town with witchy or whoever, if anything happened to you, I can't get to you in time."

"Someone is always going to be after me," she said sadly. "I'm the doppelganger. You can't protect me 24/7 Damon. Sometimes we have to make hard decisions."

Damon pulled his hands away. "You don't need to keep looking for trouble Elena. I'm not willing to make any choices that will risk your life," he said putting some distance between them so he could control himself. He would never, ever be responsible for costing her his life, not before his own. He would die before he let anything ever happen to her. "And I can't change that Elena."

"I'll try Damon, I will. I just want a chance with you," she said, freezing him instantly in place. "I do, but it's not going to be rainbows and sunshine, and I'm going to mess up a lot…"

Suddenly his lips were pressed firmly against hers in a searing kiss. His arms banded around her waist, pulling her flush against him as he gently steered them out of his room. Her fingers wound through his hair, tugging and pulling affectionately, causing him to growl against her lips. Their bodies were connected from head to toe, her hips rocking against his, setting his entire body ablaze. It took every ounce of will power not to fall into his bed with her, but he still remembered who the last person in that bed was and Elena deserved better.

Through her lust filled mind Elena managed to realize she was pinned against the wall outside his room as Damon allowed her to breathe, resting his head against her shoulder. "Where are we going?" she asked panting as her hands ran over his back.

Damon winced against her. "I want to… clean my room before you go back in there again," he said softly. His whole body was on fire from being so close to her, her blood was racing so close to the surface of her skin, the only barrier between him and her essence.

"Oh," she said in understanding and cupped the back of his head and kissed his cheek. "I'm not mad. We can make out downstairs." And she ducked under his arm and headed downstairs.

Damon growled playfully and chased her downstairs where they ended up in a heap on the couch with her curled against his chest as her lips sought out his. Her lean arms snaked around his neck as his hands ran over the top of her thighs to rest on her hips. When she had to breathe, Damon leaned his head back against the armrest with a dumb smile on his face. "What are you staring at?" she asked as she turned a light shade of pink.

Damon's thumb ran over her kiss swollen lips. She was beautiful with her hair a little bit messy from his eager hands, her chest heaving with slightly labored breathing. "You," he said softly. "I love you."

Elena's stomach flipped as she smiled and kissed him gently. "I know," she said, bending her knees over his lap to tuck against him comfortably. Her subtle body fit next to his hard one in all the right places, making her tingle all over.

"I probably wouldn't have left," he said, needing to reassure her that he wanted this to this work. "I've never actually gotten out of Mystic Falls when we fight other than to find Michael." His eyes trained on the high ceiling of the parlor, relishing in having her so close to him. For the first time in weeks, he was calm and relaxed.

"I'm glad," she said bumping her nose against his cheek affectionately. "I'm so sorry I make you feel like you have to run from me."

He didn't want to fight with her anymore. They talked, they kissed; she said she wanted to be with him. There was no reason to keep bringing up the bad stuff. "Just be honest with me," he said, stroking her skin tenderly as he lifted her chin. "Whatever's going on in that pretty head of yours, we can work out together. It's different now, no more dancing around this."

"Aww," cooed a voice from behind the couch. "You guys are so cute together."

Elena sighed at the ruined moment and glared at her ex. "Thanks," she said as Damon's fingers gently touched the bare patch of skin that she had revealed by the waist of her jeans. Little shocks of pleasure and calmness flickered through her body, drawing the strength from him. He didn't even acknowledge his brother with a look, just kept his eyes on her face, like nothing else existed.

"Are you sleeping with her and Rebecca?" Stefan asked with a sneer. "Don't think she likes to share."

Damon sighed. "No one does," he mumbled and Elena's eyes returned to his face before she kissed him softly. His first reaction was to deepen it, hoping to irritate Stefan, but he didn't want Stefan to have an influence on them anymore. He stared at her in surprise when she pulled back but she only smiled a little.

"Including me," Stefan said taking a few steps towards the couch.

This time Damon was instantly off the couch, his body between Stefan and Elena. "What do you care Stefan?" he asked. He didn't like the predatory look about Stefan as he stared at Elena. Jealousy was a hard emotion to hide, and Stefan was failing horribly at it.

"You were just supposed to protect her Damon," he said. "Not steal her. And as soon as Klaus is gone, she'll come back to me. You'll just have sloppy seconds like always."

Elena snorted and moved around Damon to shove Stefan hard. "No I won't. You will never, ever come between me and Damon. I won't let you," she growled. "We searched for you for months Stefan and I begged you to come home. I told you I wouldn't wait forever for you and you… blew every chance you got multiple times over. I didn't plan to have these feelings for Damon but I did and you made it very clear that you don't want to be with me, so I moved on."

"Yet you keep trying to convince me to feel," he said in amusement. "It didn't seem like you were moving on earlier when you practically draped over me on your porch."

Elena could feel Damon stiffen behind her, even if he wasn't touching her, she could feel the wall come back up between them. "Don't make up stories. You know that's not what happened," she said, softly. "I care about you Stefan. You were a big part of my life and I don't like seeing you like this. But that doesn't mean I'm still in love with you. You crossed way too many lines," she said faintly. "Especially after Klaus let you go, it got worse. And it cost me my brother. And I am not going to let Damon go through the pain of losing the last of his family like I did."

"That was sweet Elena," Stefan said. "I almost believed you. You should… cry next time or wear something slutty. You have such nice skin; you should show more of it."

Elena's palm connected with Stefan's cheek instantly, the red mark appearing briefly before vanishing and immediately Damon was in front of her. "Let's just go," she said, resting a hand in the middle of his back. She headed to the front door, Damon close behind her, as she let out a shuddering breath.

Damon hauled her against him and kissed her softly, despite the primal grip on her arms. "That was hot," he growled against her lips causing her burst out laughing before kissing him passionately. Watching her defend her feelings for him, and her choice regarding Stefan, was like an epiphany to him. He felt a little bad that he didn't entirely trust her regarding Stefan, but everything was different now. Her words to Stefan changed something in him, his heart grew with love for this woman. He gently pinned her against the pillar of the porch, his hands smoothing over the red marks on her arms as they slid around her waist. "I don't care about what happened in the past Elena. I just want to be with you now."

"Me too," she whispered, rubbing against him happily. "Let's get out of here."