Disclaimer: Don't own TVD.
Song: Treacherous - Taylor Swift
Chapter Five: Treacherous
This slope is treacherous
This path is reckless
He holds her hand the entire time he's driving.
They don't speak and Elena's grateful for it because she's sure she lost all power of speech when he'd slid into the car, started it and picked up her hand, lacing his fingers through hers.
She has no idea where they are going and forgets to pay attention to her surroundings as she studies the way their hands fit together.
It's easy to decide she likes holding his hand. She likes the way their fingers lace together and the fact that her hand fits into his in a way she's sure it has never fit into anyone else's. She supposes that maybe she should be wary of the easy way he had taken hold of her hand but can't be because it feels too right for it to be wrong.
The silence is easy, too. Damon's quiet as he drives to wherever they're going and Elena decides that she likes the silence as well.
It's not a silence that comes because they have nothing to say to each other rather, it's one that has settled because there will be time for talking later and he's content just holding her hand.
Elena realizes that it's dangerous.
The contentment with silence they both have, the easy way their hands link together. This is not something that happens with just anyone.
It's enough to make her heart tremble a little and Elena has to make the conscious effort to not bite her lip as she realizes that she's balancing on the edge of a steep slope that's leading down to somewhere she's never gone before.
She feels the car slowing and looks up to see Damon pulling into the parking lot of one of the nicer restaurants of Mystic Falls.
It's Italian and she has only been there once, with her parents but she vaguely remembers an ambiance of intimacy and quiet chatter that comes from being an upper class establishment.
Damon pulls up at the valet stand and releases her hand, leaving her feeling bereft as he opens his door and strides around to open her door.
Elena finds herself smiling softly at him as he offers her his hand and she takes it – mostly because she knows if she doesn't, there's a chance she'll fall in her heels – her skirt swishes as she gets out and Damon's eyes dip down to her legs as he shuts her door and laces their fingers together again.
"You're welcome." He flicks a glance at the boy waiting. "Keys are in the car."
The boy's eyes move to him as Elena realizes he's been watching her and Damon accepts the ticket he hands over without another word.
Quietly, they walk into the restaurant and Elena stops paying attention when Damon is greeted by the maître de. Instead, she watches him and appreciates all over again the angles of his face, the way his dark hair curls over his ears and the smooth tone of his voice as he speaks to the maître de.
It makes her stomach quiver as she realizes all over again just how attractive he really is and it makes her wonder what about her could have possibly caused him to ask her on this date.
It makes her wonder what it is about him that has her beginning to slip down the treacherous slope she knows is there.
"This way, sir."
She tunes in to hear the directive and she doesn't object when Damon leads her in the direction the maître de is walking.
It takes her a moment to realize that they're not going to be eating in the dining room with all the other patrons. Many are tucked into corner tables, their tables lit by a soft, muted light that, combined with the faint hints of a classical music piece, gives the restaurant a romantic, private feel.
Instead, the maître de leads them out through an open set of French doors that is letting the warm air of summer drift through the dining room, along with the faint floral smell from their gardens.
Elena only barely manages to muffle her gasp as they step out into the garden and she realizes that this is where they're going to be dining.
There are tables scattered through a blooming garden a myriad of colors. The tables are lit by fairy lights strung up over them and candles scattered around through the garden. It's a beautiful setting, one designed for romance and as she lowers herself into the proffered chair, Damon's hand warm in hers as he hands her into her seat.
She feels herself slip down the slope a little more as Damon's fingers linger in hers before he lets go and sits in his own chair. Elena's fingers curl into a fist to preserve the lingering heat his hands has left and she meets his eyes with a soft smile, as the maître de hovers.
"Thank you." Damon says as the maître de excuses himself; with the assurance someone will be out soon to take their order.
"Damon, this is beautiful." She breathes, meeting his inquiring gaze.
Elena feels a little blindsided, truthfully. This isn't what she expected when she'd been panicking about her date. If she is honest with herself, she wasn't sure what she had been expecting but this setting, the restaurant, was so far from her expectations she isn't sure where to start.
"I'm glad you like it." Damon pauses for a second. "You look beautiful, Elena."
Elena blushes. She feels the heat rise in her cheeks and spread downwards and Damon's lips pull up into a half-smile that makes her well aware that her blush is visible.
"Thank you. You don't look to bad yourself."
"I know." Damon quips and it surprises a laugh out of her. "You'd be surprised how many people have said that to me."
"No. I really wouldn't."
The words pop out of her mouth before she can stop them and her blush deepens as Damon's quiet chuckle floats over her.
"So. How as work? Anyone dump beer on you?"
Elena grabs the change of subject like a lifeline and shakes her head. "No. It was the usual lunch crowd. Though we had a screaming baby to contend with. It's amazing how the sound carries over the usual lunch noises."
"Babies are usually pretty loud. It happens. I lived next door to a family once. Paper thin walls meant that I knew exactly when one of them had snuck into the cookie jar before dinner." Damon says, amused and Elena's eyes brighten.
"Really? Where were you living?" She asks.
"New York. Crappy share apartment in a building that had a mix of everyone. Made life interesting if you were awake late at night." Damon leans forward on folded arms. "There was a couple who lived opposite me. They fought like cats and dogs when they weren't making up. Both could be heard clearly without even trying."
Elena laughs a little at that. "What's it like living in New York? Is that where you went when you left Mystic Falls?"
"It was the only place I could think of going to." Damon tilts his head slightly and concentrates on her face. "Living in New York is like living in a different world. There's so much to it and so much going on and it's a city that surprises you every time you turn a corner. You can't not love living in New York."
Elena feels a tug of jealousy in her mid-section that she hates. The city Damon is talking about is something she has never seen and something she has only ever dreamed about seeing. It highlights, completely, just how sheltered she is living in Mystic Falls.
"That sounds…amazing." Elena knows she sounds wistful and there's a flicker in Damon's eye that tells her he's noticed.
"Have you ever been anywhere?" He asks, carefully Elena thinks and she shakes her head.
"No. Not really. I went to Hawaii once with my parents but – "
Elena is interrupted when the waiter arrives with their menus and the offer of drinks and she can see by Damon's face that she's going to have to finish her sentence when the waiter leaves.
With a brief smile in thanks for the waiter, Elena finds herself gazing at a menu written in Italian with the English description beneath them and prices that make her wince every time she glances at them.
"Elena? Wine?" Damon asks and she glances up at him in surprise to see him watching her shrewdly.
"Oh, yes, please. Whatever you're having." She replies distractedly, her mind still on the prices listed in the menu and the sinking feeling that the reason she's only been here once before is because of them.
Elena barely hears Damon order the wine and when she glances up the waiter is gone and Damon is still watching her shrewdly, watching her as if he can read what is going through her mind and is finding it amusing.
"Have you seen anything you like?" He asks and Elena meets his eyes.
"Um. No. Are you sure – "
Damon cuts her off with a smirk. "Order what you want, Elena. Honestly, it's fine."
For a second, Elena considers ignoring what he's saying and then really looks at him. There is something about the way he's said that. It's said in a way that only comes from someone who is assured of their wealth and is comfortable with it.
It's because of that the next question that falls from her mouth before she can actually think about what she's saying.
"Where do you work?"
Damon pauses for a second, as if surprised that she's asked the question and Elena isn't sure why. It's not like it's a question from left field nor is it one few people ask. It's a natural question borne from both his reassurance and the fact that she really wants to know.
"Technically, I'm a corporate lawyer." Damon replies slowly, his eyes trained on her face as if to gauge her reaction.
Elena finds it difficult to mask her surprise. She isn't sure what she imagined Damon does; honestly, she just knows that of all the things he could have been, lawyer isn't one of them.
"Really?" He's still watching her carefully and Elena wonders why. "Where did you go to college?"
This time, Elena doesn't both trying to mask her surprise and Damon smirks a little as it shows on her face.
Elena isn't sure what to think. Because the Damon Salvatore who had left Mystic Falls ten years ago had been expected to do everything but go to college with many assuming that the next they heard of the elder Salvatore, he would be on the evening news for doing something stupid the townspeople could sneer at.
Nobody would have expected Damon to attend one of the more prestigious university's in the country nor have the marks to attend law school, let alone graduate. If anybody in Mystic Falls had known, they wouldn't have believed it.
She wouldn't have believed it; Elena realizes with a jolt and suddenly realizes why he's been watching her carefully.
He doesn't expect her to believe him.
That hurts a little, Elena discovers. That he's told her something he doesn't expect her to believe. Yet, maybe she can see why.
She lives in Mystic Falls, after all. It wouldn't be a stretch for him to imagine that she's not going to believe anything he says that could even hint towards him being more than the sum total of what the town believes him to be.
The thing is she does believe him. In fact, she thinks it's kind of amazing that he'd left Mystic Falls at eighteen and done the polar opposite of what everyone had expected him to do.
"Damon, that's amazing."
Elena discovers she wants to reach out and touch him to reassure him that she does believe him. It surprises her when she sees a flash of relief run through his eyes before he grins a little at her words. Like the fact that she hadn't questioned what he'd told her meant something to him, that her believing him meant something.
Elena discovers his grin is more fascinating than his smirk because it's more genuine and lights up his eyes in a way she thinks would be enough for a woman to drown in them, the way she is right now.
She feels the blush start along her cheekbones and start to spread as he holds her gaze and an intense silence settles over them.
It's exactly like the shared look in the storeroom except this time; it's a dizzying rush that is chased by heat that settles over her and this connection they've created with nothing more than a look is solidified when Damon reaches out to take her hand, twining their fingers together.
Elena feels herself start a slow, steady slide down the slope she knows has been there from the beginning and doesn't have the strength to make herself stop.
This should all be too much. The way her heart is tripping over itself as Damon holds her gaze with a steady one of his own, the fact that she's slipping down the slope is in her eyes for him to see, should all be too much because it's so damn reckless for her to do it.
She doesn't know why he's back any more than she knows what he's been doing for the last ten years or why he wants to get to know her, of all the people in Mystic Falls.
That's the question she really wants to know. She wants to know why he's sitting opposite her, holding her hand. Why he has told her something she doubts anyone else would have believed had he bothered to tell them. Why her believing him seems to have meant something.
She wants to know if his heart is tripping over itself the way hers is tripping over him.
The question comes out as barely a whisper and Damon's fingers tighten around hers before he relaxes.
His gaze turns considering and Elena finds herself holding her breath as she waits for his answer. Before he can tell her, before he can even open his mouth to speak, the waiter returns with two wine glasses and a bottle of red and the moment starts to slip away as Damon squeezes her hand once before reluctantly sliding his hand from hers.
With an unsteady hand and a shaky smile of thanks, Elena accepts the glass of wine as she realizes that something has imperceptibly shifted between her and Damon.
It's elusive and scary and reckless but Elena knows it has everything to do with the way her heart has been tripping over him and the slow, steady slide down the slope into unknown territory. It's making her stomach turn and she has no doubt that where she to try and stand, her knees would give out on her.
Because she's shaky from the shift and she's not entirely sure where to go from here. Glancing up at Damon, Elena wonders if he knows which way to go from here and something about how steady he is, makes her wonder.
Because what she has felt isn't one sided and she knows it. She has little doubt that his steadiness is a reaction to the shift and for some reason, it makes her feel better.
"Would you like to order now?" The waiter asks and Elena sees Damon nod and she realizes that whatever has just happened, isn't going to be spoken about now.
The waiter takes their orders quickly and Elena isn't sure what she orders, though she hopes that it's nothing in red sauce because she thinks that there's a possibility that she'll spill it all over herself if she's not careful.
Damon waits for the waiter to leave and Elena thinks he looks tempted to clear his throat even as he picks up his wine and takes a sip.
"So, Elena, tell me where you want to go." Damon isn't asking a question and she decides to grab onto the subject with both hands.
"Europe. Everywhere in Europe." She tells him, wistfulness creeping into her voice as she tells him.
"Where, specifically. Start at the top of the list."
Elena pauses for a second, wondering if he actually wants to know and the she notices the sincerity in his voice and realizes he does want to know.
So she tells him.
Elena starts with Italy, telling him that she wants to go to Rome but Venice has captured her imagination more. She tells him she wants to sit in Saint Mark's square, by the Doge's palace and drink an espresso, to discover the glass factories in Venice and the soak up the old world feel of the city. She tells him that she can't wait to wander through the ruins of Rome and eat gelato by the Trevi Fountain, to go to the Vatican and stare up at the roof of the Sistine Chapel.
The more she talks, the warmer she gets and she's suddenly telling him about how to wants to get lost in London's history and lay on the grass by the Eiffel tower to watch the light show. She describes how she wants to walk through Berlin and discover the nuances of Prague. She tells him how badly she wants to admire the Scottish Highlands and see the majestic Summer Palace in Vienna, how she wants to gamble in Monaco and lie on a beach on one of the Greek Islands after conquering the climb to the Acropolis in Athens.
As she talks, describing every detail of the Europe she wants to experience, Elena realizes that Damon is listening to her. His eyes are trained on her face and every once in a while, he interrupts with a question that shows just how much he's been paying attention.
It's gratifying to tell someone who doesn't dismiss what she wants to do.
Elena knows that most people she tells don't really believe that she's going to Europe when she can save enough. They think that it's a pipe dream and ignore just how badly she wants to be there and experience all that Europe has to offer.
None have asked where she wants to go and listened as she'd described it. No-one has ever really tried to encourage her to see beyond the life of Mystic Falls and the college course she's enrolled in. No-one has ever made her really believe that she could go.
Damon is doing all of that with only a few questions and the fact that he's listening to her. His attention is focused solely on what she's telling him and his questions aren't about how she's going to get there or the impracticalities of going. He's asking her what else she wants to do when she's there. Where else she wants to go, what other experiences she wants to have while she's over there.
Damon seems to believe wholeheartedly that she's going to be there, experiencing everything she's describing to him and Elena feels her stomach do a funny little turn.
Their food arrives as she's describing it to him and they both thank their waiter distractedly as they begin to eat.
The food is almost a signal for the conversation to swing towards Damon and Elena barely notices the deliciousness of her food as Damon starts to tell her about his own experiences in Europe. He amuses her with stories of jumping into the Thames in winter, just to see how cold it actually is and how he got into a little too much trouble in Amsterdam.
He entertains her with stories of getting so lost in Paris it took him all night to get back to where he was staying and making new friends in Greece that led to him spending a week with the family in their home on Santorini and them trying to marry him off to their daughter, a running joke that has continued till today.
Damon seems to come alive as he speaks and Elena is fascinated by everything he's telling her because it somehow makes Europe more real to her.
There's a warm feeling in her stomach as he describes Venice to the best of his ability and Elena realizes that the warm feeling comes from the start of a bond. They're bonding over everything she wants to do and everything he's already done and it layers itself over the unspoken connection they share.
It somehow makes it more reckless because Elena realizes if she ever wanted to, she could have dismissed the slop she's sliding down, the recklessness of it all because it's too scary and too much and not something she can really understand.
But this bond, this shared connection they're forming is real. It's easy and understated and it's there because they are both genuinely interested in what the other has to say.
Damon's telling her about Rome and the gelato shop he'd found by the Spanish Steps when Elena's eyes fall onto his tattoo and she reaches out to trace it.
Damon stops talking almost the second her finger touches his skin and she concentrates on running the tip of her finger over the foreign words.
"Did you get this in Rome?" She asks quietly and he's suddenly watching her intently again.
"Maybe." He replies. "Why do you want to know?"
Elena lets a soft smile pull at her lips. "Because it's mysterious."
Damon's smirk flashes and before he can answer, the waiter is back. This time with a question about dessert and Elena shakes her head at Damon's questioning look.
"No, thanks. Just the check." His eyes fall on her. "I'd better get her home before people start looking for her."
Elena shakes her head a little at that and then realizes that they're the only ones left seated in the garden area. As the waiter disappears, she pulls out her phone and is surprised to discover that it's closing in on midnight.
"We've been here a while." She says when she looks up at him and Damon nods.
"Time flies when you're having fun."
Neither of them say much after that and Elena discovers she's okay with that as she realizes that she doesn't want the night to end.
She hasn't thought about anything but Damon since she'd slid into his car and he'd taken her hand. The entire night, she has been focused on Damon and on what she feels when she is with him and Elena realizes that it's been all consuming.
He has been all consuming.
Biting her lip a little, Elena wonders at even as Damon holds out his hand to help her out of her chair and take her back to the car. Their fingers intertwine automatically and Elena follows him quietly out to his car.
The drive back to her house is silent and almost identical to the one at the beginning of the night and Elena discovers, just as comfortable.
It's almost like he's appreciating just being with her and Elena thinks that even as she knows that why she is silent.
She likes sitting next to him, her hand in his, an easy, comfortable silence between them. She wonders how it's possible that she feels this for someone she still doesn't really know and then realizes that maybe this is part of it.
Maybe the easy silence is something that comes from this slope she's sliding down and that's what makes it treacherous.
Because maybe it's possible to being to fall for someone without knowing their past but knowing them right now.
It's a reckless thought and before she can think about it more, Damon is pulling up to the curb outside her house.
Damon lets go of her hand and is out of the car and around the hood to open her door before she can open her door. He opens it for her and offers her his hand, watching her closely as she unfolds herself from the seat and balances precariously on the heels she's worn for him.
For a moment, they're both frozen as she looks up and realizes how close they are. Elena discovers that even in heels, she has to tilt her head back and there's a sudden, nervous tremble in her stomach as her eyes fall from his to his lips.
In a brief, vivid thought, Elena thinks that kissing Damon Salvatore – really kissing him – could be the most reckless, treacherous thing she will ever do.
It makes her ache with sudden, white hot need to do it.
Slowly, her eyes travel back up to his and she can almost see the reflection of her need in his and feels her breath stop as he leans a little closer in a move that speaks tantalizingly of what they both want to do.
Until he pauses and Elena suddenly realizes that there are secrets in his eyes as well as that white hot need she feels down to her toes.
Before she can do anything to assuage the need building in her, Damon speaks.
"You asked me earlier, why you." He starts quietly. Elena nods, focusing on his eyes which have darkened. "You were eleven. I was nearly eighteen when I got into a fight with Mason Lockwood at a Founder's Party. It was my fault, apparently, even though he'd been the one screwing my girlfriend at the time. I was kicked out and sitting on the front lawn with a bruised jaw counting the days 'til I got the hell out of this town when you came out. You were wearing a blue dress you'd been pulling at all night and were carrying a bag of frozen beans. You didn't say anything; instead you gave me the beans for my jaw and sat down next to me. That's it. You sat next to me and waited until I was ready to leave."
Elena feels her knees start trembling as she remembers what he's talking about when Damon pauses. The memory is hazy at best but she remembers seeing him sitting on the lawn, a lonely figure with the world against him. It had made her sad at the time, knowing even then how unfairly he'd been treated. Now, it makes her heart ache as she remembers the lonely, solitary boy he had been sitting alone, staring up at the night sky.
She opens her mouth to speak when Damon speaks again, softly, as if he's musing and has only just realized what he's saying.
"It was the kindest thing anyone in this town has ever done for me." It's a shock to realize that he means it and Elena isn't sure what to say, even as her heart aches a little more. "Good night, Elena."
Elena's eyes slip shut as Damon leans in and she feels the pressure of his lips on her forehead. He lingers there as heat spreads through her, in a slow, steady pace and Elena feels her breath catch even as he pulls away.
Damon squeezes her hand once, his eyes trained on hers and then let's it go, rounding the hood of his car and sliding in. Elena continues standing on the curb, shaky because of what he's told her and the unbelievable feel of his lips on her skin and watches him leave.
Whatever has just happened tonight is not what she'd expected.
What has just happened has left her shaky and more aware than ever that this slope she's sliding down is more treacherous and reckless then anything she has ever encountered before.
It's everything she should stay away from and yet, as she watches his taillights disappear, Elena knows that she likes it.
This slope is treacherous
And I, I, I like it
A/N: Okay. I'm breaking policy. Mainly because I love this chapter. However, I swear an oath that I will be writing the next two chapters, quickly and there will be an update next week. Anyway, I have to take a moment where I say this. I love the things that I write for Vampire Diaries, I do, but that last part of this chapter, where Damon is telling Elena 'why'? I really love that part. I don't know why. I can't explain it. But it really is one of my favourite things I've written. So, I'm hoping that you all love it too! And as always, I hope you've enjoyed this chapter as much as I did writing it. If you feel like leaving a review, please do!