A/N: Hope you all had a good holiday! sorry for the long wait, enjoy!
"I'm surprised you decided to do that midnight movie with us, Elena," Bonnie commented as they all walked out of the movie theater, "What happened to your dad's curfew?"
Katherine's smile faltered, but she quickly shook it off. "My dad's been working like way overtime at the station," she answered breezily, "I'm sure he won't even be home yet."
Caroline shot her a worried look, "You sure about that? My mom says he's never actually pulled an all-nighter at work before, even when some of the other cops have."
Stefan slid an arm around Katherine's shoulders and pulled her closer to him, squeezing her arm gently. "That's because he brings all of his work home with him—at least, from what I've seen."
Caroline stopped walking abruptly, causing Matt to bump into her. "You've been inside her house!?"
Matt hurriedly linked arms with her, flashing Stefan an apologetic look. "Don't mind her, she's just a little tipsy. She tends to blurt things out without thinking them through when she's...well, actually, I think she does that when she's sober, too..."
Bonnie snorted, rolling her eyes at Katherine. "Don't worry, Stefan. It's just that the three of us have known each other forever. We tend to make each other's lives our business, whether it is or isn't."
Stefan held up both hands, grinning. "I get it, trust me, I do."
Katherine glanced at him curiously, "Do you have some friends back home who act the same way?"
Stefan hesitated before shaking his head, "Actually, I meant my older brother, Damon. He's always made it a point to nose his way into my business, even if I don't want him to."
Luka eyed him, "Well, then you must be glad he's so far away now. He can't interfere in your life while you're here in Mystic Falls and he's all the way in New York."
"Yeah," Stefan nodded, tightening his arm around Katherine as they walked back to his car, "That's true."
Damon smirked, and Elena's breath stuttered as he brushed his lips over hers once, with the barest of touches. Before she could even contemplate what was happening, he was already stepping away from her. "I could kiss you to prove a point," he told her, his eyes darting to her mouth once again, "But I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that's exactly what you want me to do."
Elena blinked, taking a deep breath and attempting to gather her bearings. Damon was right. She was standing there—probably looking like a total fool—waiting for him to kiss her. That was decidedly something that Katherine would not do, and was probably one of the many reasons that Damon thought he had her all figured out.
Her shoulders slumped forward slightly. This was all her fault. Katherine was so going to kill her for ruining the plan.
"Hey," Damon's sharp voice interrupted her musings, and she looked up reluctantly. "What's your name?"
Elena sighed, running a hand through her hair. "Katherine," she offered dully, "Katherine Pierce."
He didn't move, didn't even blink. "Try again," Damon ordered, though his voice became significantly softer. When she met his gaze, she was surprised to see that he didn't seem particularly angry. Instead, he merely looked expectant. "Does anyone else here know who you are?"
Elena didn't say anything, but the expression on her face was all the confirmation that he needed.
"That's what I thought," Damon moved towards her cautiously, "There's no one here that you can confide in, no one here to help you." He laid his hands on her shoulders gently then, "Why don't you let me in on your secret?"
The offer was tempting. Elena gazed at him, trying to discern the sincerity of his words. She was tired of trying to figure everything out on her own, she was tired of trying to outsmart Damon, she was just...tired.
"Elena," she responded slowly, "It's Elena Gilbert."
"I'm sorry we had to leave the party early," Elena said as Damon led her into his house. "I know you've been looking forward to it."
He briefly glanced at her over his shoulder, looking confused. "What gave you that impression?"
"I just..." Elena trailed off, "That's what it seemed like."
"Don't get me wrong," Damon answered offhandedly as they walked upstairs, "I love a good party. Just not the ones where Mason Lockwood is in attendance. Or the host, as it were."
"Right...because he was Katherine's boyfriend." Elena said it as a statement, but still found herself feeling irritated when he didn't contradict her.
Damon gestured for her to follow him into his room before shutting the door and locking it behind them. "Have a seat," he offered, noticing her slightly nervous demeanor. "Relax, Elena. I'm not a serial murderer. You can trust me."
"No, I know," she agreed hastily, avoiding his gaze as she took a seat in a large chair in the far corner of the room. "This is just all pretty weird for me."
Damon shot her a disbelieving look, "This is weird for you? What about for me? The last time someone who looked like you was in my bedroom, we—" He broke off, looking down at the ground with a frown. "Never mind. Let's just say it was under different circumstances."
Elena shifted, feeling the tension rise in the room. "I'm sorry," she blurted out, "For tricking you...or trying to trick you, I mean...I guess it didn't really work, did it?"
He took a deep breath, folding his hands together as he took a seat on the bed across from her. "I wouldn't have figured you out if I didn't know you—her—so well." When she didn't respond, he leaned forward. "So you were serious? No one else here knows?"
"No one knows at all, except for me and Katherine," Elena mindlessly played with strands of her hair, curling it around one of her fingers and letting the ringlets bounce back and forth." Then she sighed and added unnecessarily, "And now you, of course."
"Start at the beginning, Elena," Damon said suddenly, "How did you two meet?"
Hayley laughed when Elena answered the door, purse in hand. "Girl, please don't tell me that's what you're planning on wearing to the bars tonight?"
Elena's brow furrowed as she looked down at her outfit (jeans, flats, and a loose-fitting pink top). "What's wrong with my outfit?"
"Oh god, you really are hopeless, aren't you?" Hayley sighed, pushing the door open further so that she could step into Elena's dorm room. "Don't get me wrong, everyone digs the whole small-town-girl thing, but we're in the city now! You don't want to act like you've never been bar-hopping before—speaking of which, have you?"
"They don't have under-21 clubs where I'm from," Elena mumbled, scratching her neck in embarrassment as Hayley began rifling through her closet. "You know, this is why I said I didn't even want to go out tonight, Hales. It's not really my thing."
Her new friend spun around, placing one hand on her hip indignantly. "We are graduating this year, Elena," she threw her hands into the air, "Do you understand what that means?"
Elena shook her head wordlessly, feeling extremely out of her depth.
"We're going to be adults, like actual grown-ups out there in the real world," Hayley pointed out the dorm window for emphasis, "It doesn't matter what tiny town or big city you grew up in, because none of us know where we're gonna end up." She turned her attention back to the closet and flipped through the last of the clothes dismissively. "Nothing you have here is going to work," she announced, "I think we need to make a little pit stop at my room."
"I don't know how I feel about this, Hayley," Elena gripped her friend's wrist as she carefully (and painfully) walked down the cobbled sidewalk in high heels. "This isn't really my style."
"That's the whole point," Hayley smiled proudly at the outfit she had created for Elena. "You're in Boston for the summer, no parents, no one that you know, and no supervision. You can finally let loose for a bit!"
"I didn't come here to let loose," Elena grumbled, wincing as her toes appeared to go numb with pain. "I came here to take stupid summer classes that would look good on my stupid resume."
Hayley smiled indulgently, but didn't slow down the pace. "No pain, no gain, Elena."
"That's what they say on those dumb makeover shows, isn't it?" Elena eyed her friend suspiciously, "Am I like a little makeover project to you?"
"No," Hayley said firmly, pausing so that she could turn and look at her friend. "Listen to me. We are here to have fun, understand? It's Friday night, and you look HOT. You're gonna dance and flirt, and have a blast. Okay?"
"Fine," Elena let herself be dragged along, "If you say so."
A couple hours later, and Elena was unexpected to find that she actually was having a good time. To her surprise, Hayley stayed close by her side inside the club. Even on the dance floor, she made sure that Elena was never out of her sight, often pulling her along and ignoring the guys that were attempting to dance with her on their own.
"Having fun yet?" Hayley yelled into her ear, grinning when she pulled back and saw Elena's flushed face. "I knew you would...Even the quiet ones have an inner party girl just waiting to be released into the wild."
Elena laughed, reaching out to give Hayley a quick hug. "Thank you," she said honestly, "I thought you might ditch me when we got in here for a hot guy or something, but you've been such a good friend to me tonight—there's no way I could've done this without you."
"Ditch you?" Hayley shook her head firmly, her hair flying around her shoulders. "I would never do that to a friend. Especially not on your first club experience. Don't worry, Elena, I got your back."
Someone grabbed her arm at that moment, and Elena spun around to see an angry blonde in her face. "You little slut," the woman spat, shoving her backwards and sending her stumbling into Hayley. "You think you could just sleep with my boyfriend and I'd never find out about it!?"
Elena's mouth dropped open, "Wh-what? No! There must be some mistake—"
"JULES! Stop it! Get back here," another voice called through the crowd, and the blonde momentarily turned her head in that direction. Elena thought this provided an ample opportunity to get the hell out of there, but Hayley seemed to have other ideas.
"You stupid bitch," she shouted, running forward and tackling Jules to the ground. "You have no idea who you're messing with! How dare you—"
"Hales!" Elena frantically pulled on her friend's arm, "Let's get out of here!"
"There he is," Jules screeched as someone else suddenly entered the scene, "Brady, there's your stupid whore!"
Brady turned to look at Elena, his eyes wild, "Katherine, I swear, I didn't—"
Elena held up a hand, "Wait, who the hell is Katherine?"
Damon was staring at her, "I don't know whether to laugh or..." He shook his head, "Typical Kat, huh?" He looked away from her, rubbing a spot on his bed spread and muttering under his breath, "Some things never change."
Elena bit her lip, recognizing the disappointment in his tone. "You can't have thought that she was going to wait for you to come back to New York. She's not that type of girl, even I know that."
"I never asked her to wait for me," he said quickly, "I'm not...that's not what I meant."
She studied his expression for a second. "I'm sorry," she offered quietly, "That she's not who you wanted her to be." When he looked up at her, she swallowed thickly. "And I'm sorry for all the games. It seems so juvenile now."
"You don't have to apologize," Damon gave a casual shrug, and Elena could almost see his mask slipping back into place. "Not your fault." Then he nodded at her, "Go on. What happened when you two met?"
Elena twisted her hands in her lap, thinking back to that night. "We put the pieces together pretty quickly about what had happened 18 years ago. Then, well, Katherine came up with this plan."
"To trade places," Damon stated when she didn't continue, "Why?"
She looked up with a frown, "What?"
"Why did she want to switch places? Is there some master scheme behind this plan? Are you planning on getting your parents back together?"
Elena opened her mouth then shut it, trying to figure out how much she should tell him. Damon blew out a gust of air, sounding annoyed. "Come on, Elena. You've told me everything else. Why keep this a secret?"
"I haven't told you everything," she pressed her lips together, "For example, I haven't told you what Katherine has been up to, living my life in Mystic Falls." She paused for dramatic effect, "With your brother."
Damon immediately straightened, his eyes widening. "Katherine is with Stefan? They're...they're in the same place? They know each other?"
"They're in a lot of the same classes together," Elena informed him, "And I think they've gotten really close."
He stiffened, tilting his head at her, "How close?"
Elena crossed her arms, less than pleased to see the expression on his face. "Don't tell me you're jealous, Damon."
"So it's true?" He demanded, standing up and making his way across the room towards her. "They're dating?"
"That's what it seems like," she stared up at him defiantly, "I understand why my father wouldn't happy about it, but why do you look so pissed?"
Damon clenched his jaw, looking like he was attempting to control his anger. "I'm not upset, I'm just...I wasn't expecting that."
Elena shook her head once, looking down to avoid his gaze.
He suddenly reached out to grab her wrist, "I'm not jealous, okay?"
"Whatever, Damon." She snatched her arm out of his grasp, getting to her feet. "I think I should go now."
"Elena, wait," he called after her, but she didn't stop to listen to him. She hurried down the stairs, and only remembered at the last second that Damon had driven her to his house. And—Rebekah, damn it! She was still at the Lockwoods...Elena ran her fingers through her hair in frustration. She couldn't just leave Bex at that house, not unless she was sure that Tyler would be taking care of her. "Fuck," she muttered under her breath, "Now what?"
She groaned, turning around to face Damon, who was standing halfway down the stairs. "Not now, okay? I'm just going to call Trevor, and he'll come pick me up in a few minutes."
"My limo driver."
"I can drive you home, you know," Damon slowly walked down the final few stairs, "I haven't been drinking."
"I'm not going home," Elena turned away from him so that she wouldn't have to stare into those probing blue eyes anymore. "I have to go back to the Lockwoods."
Even though she wasn't facing him, she still felt the room suddenly become about ten degrees colder. "Why the hell do you have to go back there?" Damon snapped, "Have to pay your respects to the horny hosts?"
In spite of herself, she felt her lips tug upwards into a smile. "No," she unsuccessfully tried to hide her laugh, and shook her head. "I have to go back for Rebekah, make sure that she's all right."
Damon narrowed his eyes at her, "I'm sure she's with Tyler by now. She won't even have noticed you're gone."
"I just want to make sure that she doesn't need a ride home," Elena began dialing Trevor's number on her cell phone, "Then I'll head home, too. Don't worry, Damon. I'll be fine."
He moved towards her, covering her hand with his before she could press the 'talk' button. "Rebekah wouldn't have done the same for you. Once she finds a guy who'll pay attention to her, she doesn't give a second thought to any of her so-called friends."
"I figured as much," Elena said plainly, "And I think that's really sad for her." Then she glanced up at Damon, "Luckily, I'm not one of those girls. And I will check on Rebekah no matter what kind of friend she was or wasn't to Katherine."
Damon let go of her hand and eyed her with renewed interest, "You know, Elena Gilbert, I think I just might like you." She blinked, taken aback. Before she could find the presence of mind to form a reply, he was taking her arm and gesturing for her to follow him outside. "Come on, I'll drive you back to the Lockwoods. I wouldn't want you to head back into the lion's den on your own."
Elena smiled, allowing him to lead her back to his car. "Thanks, Damon."
*One of my guest reviewers has informed me that there is a new fanfic out there called "The Switch" that is pretty similar to this one. Thank you for letting me know!