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Song: I Knew You Were Trouble. - Taylor Swift

Burning Red

Chapter One: Trouble

I was in your sights, you got me alone
You found me, you found me, you found me

He has a tattoo.

Black ink runs down the muscle of his right forearm, stark against white skin and the words – written in a language as old as time – ripple whenever his forearm flexes.

There is, Elena Gilbert decides, something inexplicably erotic about that tattoo.

The fact that it's permanently imbedded in the arm of Damon Salvatore is somehow makes it more than erotic.

Damon Salvatore was the bad boy of Mystic Falls when he was in his teens, sauntering around town with nothing more than an attitude that invited fights, looks that threatened to become more devastating with time and an acerbic tongue that suggested just how angry he was with the world.

She remembers him from when she was younger and had no time for skinny girls, with scraped knees and wide brown eyes, particularly young girls who happen to be the daughter of the most prominent doctor in town.

Now, the bad boy is more than that.

He's grown into those looks that had made him good looking when he was younger and now make him simply devastating. The lithely muscled body, the angles of his face covered in a dark five o'clock shadow, the intense blue eyes that smirk even when his mouth doesn't and messy dark hair that falls every which way.

The attitude that seemed too big for him when he was younger has been honed down into one that combines experience with a sliver of danger that suggests he's seen and done more than she could ever imagine. The anger isn't there but the acerbic tongue has been tamed into snark.

In essence, he's still the bad boy that everyone knows is trouble.

Despite all this, it's the tattoo that she notices.

It's the tattoo that makes her curious.

It's the tattoo that makes her know he's trouble.

She's leaving the Mystic Grill late when she runs into him for the first time.

It's the middle of summer and she's been working as a waitress to save money for a trip to Europe she promised herself when she was sixteen and had fallen in love with the idea of Italy.

Her feet are aching, she's sticky from sweat and she's bone tired from a double shift and maintaining a cheerful demeanour the entire time.

Her mind is on her bed as she steps outside into warm night air and fights back the urge to call her mother and have her come and pick her up instead of walking home.

He's standing outside, leaning against a wall, arms folded, staring at the sky.

She stops short when she sees him, thoughts of finding her phone drifting away as she tries to place the man standing in front of her.

Before she can place him, he turns his head and pushes away from the wall when he catches sight of her standing there.


There's not much she can think to say when it appears he's not going to say anything. He steps into the light when she speaks and Elena finds it takes effort to keep from having her mouth drop open as she recognizes who is standing in front of her.

"Well, well. Elena Gilbert. All grown up." Damon Salvatore's voice is like velvet, she decides, as he draws the words out while taking a slow inventory of her.

He's so much more attractive

The slow look makes her blush as she realizes what he's seeing. The basic white shirt and black skirt, stained from sweat and soft drink she'd accidentally spilled on herself. Her long ebony hair is pulled up in a high ponytail and the strands that have fallen out are stuck around a face that is void of any make-up she had put on before her shift had started, the mascara darkening under her eyes as she has no doubt it has run during her shift.

In short, she looks like a mess and she supresses a wince as he finishes his inventory and his eyes move back up to hers.

Her wide brown eyes meet his startlingly blue ones and the curiosity in them startles her.

"You know who I am?"

The question sounds even more inane when she voices it and Elena regrets it the second it leaves her mouth.

She forgets to regret it the second a razor sharp grin flits across his face and she feels herself go week at the knees.

That grin, she thinks, should be illegal. It's dangerous, dosed with a healthy amount of charm and makes the corners of his eyes crinkle in such a way that she sincerely hopes he never grins at her again.

Her knees may not survive it.

"Yes, Elena, I know who you are." He drawls hooking his thumbs into the belt loops of his jeans and tilting his head to one side, as if he's decidedly amused by this exchange. "It's hard to forget the girl who's the darling of Mystic Falls."

She frowns a little at that.

Not because it's not true but because she hates to be reminded of it. It makes her wish that instead of being the daughter of a founding family and the town's revered doctor, she was simply a girl without a title.


Damon ignores the inadequate response. "And you obviously know who I am?"

She wrinkles her nose a little at the insinuation because he's obviously aware that she knows exactly who he is.

"Damon Salvatore." She confirms. "I hadn't heard you'd come back to town."

Which, Elena realizes suddenly, is actually quite strange. If people had known Damon Salvatore had returned to town, she most definitely would have heard about it tonight.

It was hard to ignore gossip about Mystic Falls resident bad boy being back. It would have been the biggest piece of gossip in town, if anybody knew.

He laughs a little at that. "That's because I didn't want anyone to know."

She eyes him at that. "That's quite a feat, actually. Why are you hanging outside the Grill?"

Damon steps closer and Elena realizes she has to tilt her head back a little to maintain eye contact and that surprises her a little. She doesn't remember him being tall.

"Waiting for my brother. I suppose he's not here?"

His eyes are really, really blue, she notices. Like, the kind of crazy blue you hear about but can never quite believe exists. They're penetrating and it's quite disconcerting because the effect it has on her is devastating.

She feels the first tug of serious attraction even as she realizes that she hasn't answered his question.

"Who? Oh, Stefan." She recovers from her absentminded slip and hopes he doesn't notice. Those blue eyes flashing tells her he noticed it, all right. "No. I haven't seen him tonight. Does he know you're back?"

Damon rolls his eyes at the question. "With the girlfriend he has? Like I'm going to tell him that I'm back. Are you heading home?"

The change in subject is disconcerting and for a second Elena has to think about the sentence before she nods slowly, wondering why he'd ask a question he should have already guessed the answer to.

"Obviously. Walking," she gestures vaguely to her right. "That way."

Damon's silent after that and it draws out until she starts to feel awkward as she realizes just what she's doing. It's not hard to imagine someone might come along and see her talking to someone who could be taken for a stranger in this light and report it back to her parents.

God forbid, someone tells her parents.

Hitching her bag higher on her shoulder, she shifts uncomfortably from one foot to another and then swallows slightly before refocusing on him.

"Well, I'm going to go. It's good to see you."

Damon is obviously surprised that she's saying goodbye and she wonders why before he reaches out and tugs the bag she's just readjusted off her shoulder and swings it over his, in one swift move.

"I'll walk with you."

She stares. She can't help it. Because he's taken her bag and offered – told, more like it – to walk her home.

It's as his arms falling to shove his hand into his pocket that she notices the tattoo running down his forearm.

It makes her mouth go dry.

Because she knows, without a doubt, Damon Salvatore is most definitely not someone she's used to.

No-one she knows has a tattoo and they most definitely don't have smiles that are a little too dangerous or eyes so blue they're unbelievable.

They also don't hold the title of the bad boy of Mystic Falls that has stuck even though he'd left town the second he'd graduated high school, nearly nine years ago.

It's a really bad idea to say yes to having him walk her home, even though he seems to have not given her a choice, mostly because she can't imagine why he'd want to walk her home any more than she can imagine actually walking home with him.

It takes her maybe three seconds to realize she genuinely doesn't care.


She starts walking the second she agrees and he's silent as he walks next to her.

The town is quiet for a Friday night. There's not even a hint of movement on the quiet streets, the houses dark as their occupants sleep peacefully. Though, Elena imagines that there's a party happening in the woods celebrating the beginning of summer.

A party she was invited to but never had any intention of going even though she'd smiled and said 'maybe'.

"Why are you still in Mystic Falls?" Damon's question breaks into her thoughts as they walk past picture perfect houses with manicured lawns.

She wrinkles her nose at the question. "It's summer. Why are you back in Mystic Falls?"

Elena doesn't bother to glance at him even though she can sense that something about her comment has amused him. She waits for his answer and starts to think he's not going to when he shrugs.

"Heard things were getting boring back here. Thought I'd come back and shake things up a bit." He replies caustic amusement in his tone and she almost laughs.

"You'll certainly do that. Gossip's been slow lately."

"A slow gossip day in Mystic Falls? It must be snowing in hell." The amusement is still there as well as what she thinks is resentment.

Elena supposes that the resentment shouldn't be unexpected. Except that he couldn't be that resentful, as far as she can remember he'd managed to create gossip in Mystic Falls on such an unprecedented level that the gossipmongers were bereft when he'd left.

"Probably. But what are you going to do about it?" She asks rhetorically.

He seems to appreciate her response and they continue to walk in silence and it dawns on her that maybe she should be nervous.

It's not every day she walks home with someone she barely knows, at night and with the unsettling feeling that if she sees him in full light, that serious tug of attraction she'd felt would become full blown and she doesn't want that to happen.

It's with surprise that she realizes they're approaching her house. The porch light has been left on and she's suddenly grateful she didn't call her mother; her parents have obviously gone to bed instead of waiting up for her.

"That was quick." Damon comments, as she stops and turns to him.

The porch light creates shadows that fall over his face, shading half of it in darkness and she nods, jerkily reaching out a hand for her bag.

He shrugs her bag from his shoulder, handing it over and she catches a glimpse of his tattoo again.

The letters are foreign but she thinks they must be Latin.

"You have a tattoo."

She blushes at her words, embarrassed that she's said that and he smirks.

"I do."

"What does it mean?" She asks, deciding that she may as well ask now that she's bought it up.

Damon's silent a moment longer and she shifts her gaze from his tattoo to his face and the expression she can see in her eyes is something she can identify all too well and knows she should stay far away from.

His expression is trouble and she knows if she's smart, she'll stay far, far away.

"I'll tell you one day. Maybe." The words hang in the air between them, tantalizingly teasing and she sucks in a breath. "Nice to see you, Elena."

Damon gives her one last look before turning around and walking back the way they'd come. Elena watches his receding back and then blows out a breath.

Trouble, she thinks. He's trouble for so many reasons but mostly because she has no idea what has just happened and he knows it.

Shaking her head slightly, she turns to start walking up the porch steps and then dismisses him from her mind.

She's too smart to think about someone she knows is trouble.

I knew you were trouble when you walked in
Trouble, trouble, trouble

A/N: Hi, welcome to my new procrastination project! I'm trying very hard to not do my uni work - anyone who is even remotely involved with school will understand this, I hope! - and this story has been rolling around in my head for a little while. A product of awesome ideas at three a.m. and the fact that I think Ian Somerhalder's tattoo is really hot. And no, this is not going to be one of those where I post and then never, ever post again. I'm actually in the middle of writing it out right now, so hopefully, if you like it, you shouldn't be waiting too long! I hope you enjoyed this chapter!