A/N: Hi everyone! This is my first Dalena fic. I just started watching TVD a month or two ago and caught up finally. This fic takes place in season three.


The front door of the boarding house swings open on its hinges with enough force to bounce.

"Honey, I'm home!" Damon sing-songs, stepping over the threshold, well, more like stumbling really. He met Ric for drinks at The Grill and the two of them, spurred on by a couple of co-eds, ended up racing through a line of tequila shooters and a yard of beer. Meredith carted home Dr. Jekyll when he puked all over a barmaid, but Damon passed on her offer for a ride in favor of walking. The quiet would do him good.

When there's no answer a thrill of fear of fear zips up his spine and he cocks his head to listen.

"Stefan?" he calls out gingerly, a flipbook of dismembered corpses painted across the inside of his eyelids. It's not that he particularly minds the gore or his brother's body count, it's just that they're running low on clean rugs and that for some unfathomable reason, the whole 'Ripper Stefan' thing really upsets Elena.

Elena. His dead heart drags down the front of his ribs at the thought of her and he staggers in the hallway, rerouting towards his scotch instead of searching out his brother.

She'd been the reason for his drinking tonight. Most nights. Every night.

He tried to exorcise her with the alcohol, wanted to drown his want for her in bitter taste and a hazy mind. She'd called him a liability. It would always be Stefan. He was stupid to think he ever had a shot. She'd let him be her crutch, but never more than that. She needed him, but only as a stand-in. And usually he was good with that, being Mr. Right Now, but with her it was different. Everything was.

It's when his mind wanders off on these tangents that he realizes he isn't nearly drunk enough and pulls the stopper on his scotch. But before pouring a few fingers into his favorite tumbler, he lifts the bottle for closer examination and frowns into the crystal - someone has been drinking it.

"Do you realize what aged scotch like this costs?" he fumes to no one, bristling, serving himself a generous helping of the amber liquid. "Next one's on you!"

Then, swirling the drink in his hand, he saunters towards the stairs, willing to bet that if his brother was indeed home he'd prefer pouting in the luxury of his bedroom versus the musty basement.

He climbs the steps slowly, nursing his glass, remembering his hunger but also that the blood bags were locked away downstairs; much too far.

"Haven't fallen off the wagon again, have we?" But copper scent doesn't curl into his nostrils at the top of the stairs and he lets out a breath of relief. If Stefan's been out terrorizing the town, at least he hasn't brought his dinner home.

Damon sways in place for a moment then, sleepily peering down each end of the hallway. Both rows of doors are closed save for one - the bathroom.

Quietly he totters towards the sliver of light contrasted in the dark, taking tentative sips from his glass as he nears the door. Squinting, he can make out tendrils of steam escaping through the crack and his face twists into a scowl. Not because he might be in there scrubbing away stains of red, but because -

"Really, Stefan?" he groans, pressing one broad palm against the door to slowly ease it open, "everyone knows bath's are my - Elena?"

He nearly drops his tumbler at the sudden sight of her, takes a self-preserving step back into the hall and just gapes for a beat.

She's laid out in a tub full of bubbles, her mass of hair swept up and over the edge of the porcelain to keep it out of the water. She's got both arms lining the bath's lip and her ankles propped over the opposite end, but it's not the decadent tease of maple-colored skin that startles him so much as the mate to his scotch glass empty on the rug and the glazed over quality of her eyes when she turns her head and throws him a sloppy grin.

"Hi, Damon."

"So you're the scotchnapper." He tries for levity, but the worry is there in his voice. In a blur he's dropped off his own glass by the sink, painfully aware that something's wrong by the fact that she's yet to scream and tell him off for peeping.

"Guilty!" she giggles, slipping deeper into the bubbles, openly admiring him from where he's propped against the wall. Afforded more than just a glimpse, he notices then that not only are her eyes glassy and unfocused, but that they're also rimmed red.

Desperately trying to smother the blanket of intoxication clouding his mind, Damon fruitlessly tries to gather himself, to keep his mind from bouncing from the fact that she's naked to the fact that she's been crying to the fact that she had a penchant for dancing all over his heart, and cautiously approaches her.

"Well, would you care to enlighten me as to what you're doing here in my bathtub, drinking my scotch?"

She goes quiet at that, lowers her arms into the tub, and turns away from him to look straight ahead. If she's had half a glass of what he had downstairs, she's got to be blitzed. And Elena may have been many things, but a heavy drinker she was not.

There are only two possible reasons for this breakdown and they both end with the word Salvatore.

He wants to ask what's wrong, but she's playing coy and might just button up if he prods her for information. So instead he just snags a chair from the corner by the door and takes a seat at the head of the tub, putting himself behind Elena.

"How was school?" he ventures, feeling out a safe topic, resigned to the fact that it's time to put on his Good Guy mask again and save the day.

She exhales a quiet, "fine," and pushes at the bubbles with her fingers, turning her cheek against the porcelain again.

Her hair brushes over the tops of his thighs where he sits and before long his hands are sifting through the silken strands, twisting it into tiny braids and curling it around his fingers. "That's good," he murmurs, inspecting the ends, resisting the urge to fold over and put his nose to her temple to breathe in the scent of her shampoo. "Hear any good gossip? Who's taking who to the prom? Which cheerleader's got an eating disorder? Anybody get their - "

"Stefan was there."

His hands still in her hair and he leans forward to get a look at her face, wincing at the helpless ache in her expression.

"Oh." He falls back against the chair and lets the oncoming silence engulf the room. Ordinarily, he'd be thrilled to cross his name off the suspects list, but tonight Elena looks a beat from broken. She's staved off this breakdown for months now, hadn't done much more than crying quietly those first few nights Stefan was gone with Klaus. Honestly, it's overdue. He just wishes she'd waited until he was sober and full and ideally, until she was clothed. It's hard to want to be valiant when she's just laid out for the taking like this. She might not even remember if he were to strip down and crawl into the tub with her. She's not wearing her vervain necklace. It would be too easy.

And the old Damon would have done it, would have had no qualms about claiming the girl who'd put him through hell, but at some point in the time since he's known her, he's grown to want to be better. For her.

"What happened?"

But she doesn't answer. With a wet breath she finally shatters, curling in on herself with a violent sob. And before he can even think, he reacts, sinking into the soapy water fully-clothed to gather her against his chest.

"You're okay, you're okay. I've got you," he soothes against her temple, diligently ignoring the fact that she's naked and bundled in his lap to tuck her head in the space between his neck and shoulder.

"He's never going to be the same, is he?" she chokes out between sharp breaths, arms snaking beneath his (ruined) leather jacket to clutch at his shoulders.

The water sloshes out of the tub in waves as her body's wracked with sobs, but Damon knows he can't answer her question, knows she doesn't even need to ask it. The both know. So he just holds her, lets her pulls at his shirt in fits of rage and meets her eyes when she looks up to plead with him, strokes her hair when she succumbs to more tears.

They stay like that for, he doesn't know how long, entwined. She trembles against him and rubs her cheek against the scratch of his jaw. Her eyelashes are a ticklish flutter against his skin and when she speaks, after too long, he only catches her words because of his amplified hearing.

"No," he repeats too quickly, his voice harsh and authoritative as he wretches her back by the shoulders to snag her gaze. "Elena, no."

She flinches at his tone and wilts, but still whimpers a feeble, "please," when lowering her eyes. "Bite me."

He's been around a long time, but this particular brand of self-harm was new to him. He doubts she wants to die, but wouldn't rule the notion out.

"Let's just put you to bed..." he supplies instead, trying to hook an arm under her legs to haul her from the tub, but she kicks and writhes and shoves against his chest.

"No, no, just, please. I want to feel something...anything." She's begging now, her hands fisted into the collar of his jacket, her eyes huge and pleading and he's hungry, but still he says, "no."

This rejection leads to more tears but now she doesn't want his arms around her, now she's backed herself against the rounded porcelain and is holding him at an arm's length with both palms pressed against his sternum.

Her breasts, full, perfect swells, are bared to him now, but he levels his gaze with her face, warring with his hunger and her need and some foreign moral compass that's keeping him from her throat.

"You're drunk," he reasons, but his resolve is slipping and she must be able to sense the shift or hear it in his words because after a moment she swallows and slinks close again, turns around in his arms and grasps his wrists, pulling his hands up to lay them flat against her stomach.

Their new position puts his mouth at her ear and does little for his sense of honor. He hasn't fed in days, too busy keeping Stefan in check to consider human blood for himself.


His name is a whine that seeps out past her teeth and lips, a whine that she might make if he were inside her.

It's his ultimate undoing.

He pushes out a calming breath through his nose and shakes her head, but his next, "no," is hollow and his head droops forward until the curve of her shoulder is against his mouth. He reasons with himself that this is for her, that if he doesn't indulge her in this twisted want, next time he happens upon her in the tub the water might be red and her veins might be split open. He reasons that he's going to do this because he loves her and because he can't deny her anything. And maybe those are all valid motivators, but the truth remains that he's a vampire (a monster) and she's a human being, and he's hungry.

"Only a little bit," he promises them both in a rough whisper and she tenses for a beat in his arms before sinking back against his chest on her knees, her thighs splayed open and her hands still heavy, covering his own.

She nods and tilts her head to one side, still sniffling from her tears when she whispers an encouraging, "please, Damon."

That's all it takes, consent and provocation wrapped up in two words.

The veins below his eyes push up purple under his skin and his jaw drops down to reveal extended teeth. One hand leaves her navel to gather her hair in its fist, keeping her ear pressed to her shoulder as his lips feel out the soft curve of her throat. Ignoring his need for a moment he just trails hot kisses down the elegant muscle, fangs rasping down the edge of her skin.

But soon it all becomes too much and in his fervor he hardly notices the sigh that leaves her and the way her hand is slowly guiding his own down her abdomen.

Overwhelmed then, he curls his fingers in her hair and, trying to remember restraint, sinks his teeth into the juncture of her neck and shoulder in one quick clamp.

She hisses and squirms a little as warmth rushes over his tongue. His eyes fall closed and he pulls at the fresh wound, revelling in the way she tastes without drawing out too much of her life.

It's the closest to salvation he's ever likely to get and the only thing that drags him from the surge of strength her borrowed blood gifts him is the feel of his fingers at the juncture of her thighs. In his bloodlust he's let her bring his fingers down to a place between her hips he's only ever dreamt of and when he realizes, it's all he can do not to drain her then and there.

Swallowing down one last mouthful that has her whimpering in the best way, Damon reluctantly pulls off from her throat and feels the red in his eyes fade out, licks at the remainder of her blood on the insides of his lips and the backs of his teeth.

"Elena," he pants. It's embarrassing, just how desperate he sounds, but against all instincts he tries to withdraw his hand from her grip, tightens his fingers to keep from touching her. "You're drunk."

"Only a little bit," she mewls in retort, using his own words against him, letting her head drop back against his shoulder, affording him a sinful view of her body in the disappearing bubbles.

He doesn't even grapple for restraint this time, gives in with a shudder and dips his fingertips into her soft folds, finding that little bundle of nerves and applying gentle pressure, wondering what he'll think of himself in the morning when he remembers this.

His hand leaves her hair to brush it back from where it's sticking to her face as he rubs lazy circles against her clit.

Soon she's boneless and breathy 'yes's and 'oh god's are spilling from her lips. She reaches back with one hand and curves her palm around his nape, turning her face into his throat as she slowly comes undone. He leans and pushes two fingers into her, pumping them at a leisurely pace at first and then faster, his cock painfully hard and straining against the fastenings of his jeans.

He's been waiting forever for this, to reduce Elena to a quivering mess, to know that he's the one bringing her pleasure for once instead of pain. But just when she's about to tip over the edge and see stars, just when she starts clenching around his fingers, she chokes out a sob and doubles back into devastation.

Damon flexes his jaw to bury his irritation, but really, he shouldn't be surprised; she's unstable right now, broken.

Putting everything that's just happened on the back burner, he gets to his knees in the tub and gathers her in his arms, carefully standing and stepping out of the bath to put her on her feet and wrap her in a towel.

She just cries quietly and shivers while he quickly dries her off. "Hold on," he murmurs, wrapping the soft material around her shoulders before dashing from the room to strip down and dress himself in a pair of boxers and a t-shirt, grabbing a spare of each for her.

He returns and helps her into his clothes. The hem of his shirt dusts the tops of her thighs and his underwear is too big, but it'll do.

"I'm sorry... I don't know what I'm doing," she mumbles hopelessly to the rug, but he waves off her apology with a careless hand and scoops her up into his arms once more.

"Don't you worry your pretty little head about it," he grins, resting his chin atop her crown as he walks them down the hallway towards his room.

She's asleep before he can even get the covers down, but after some maneuvering he manages and slips her under the sheets.

But before joining her in bed, he turns out the light and walks back down the hall to the bathroom. Leaning on his elbows, he just stares into the mirror for a long moment and scrubs at his face, filling his lungs to bursting and letting out the exhale in a slow column of breath.

In the morning they'll have to answer for what's happened tonight, but not now.

Picking up her stolen glass from the rug and placing it next to his own in the sink, Damon allows himself a moment to remember the way she felt on his tongue and on his fingers, then turns to rejoin her, sparing the wet rug one last glance before flipping off the light and padding back down the hall towards Elena, his heart.

He's got no doubts anymore. She'll be the one to wreck him.

His little hell.