Chapter 3

I've been looking for Damon for over an hour now, and I can't find him anywhere. I checked the Grill, I checked Alaric's old apartment, I checked the cemetery, I even went back and, not wanting to run into Stefan, stealthily checked the boarding house, in case he'd returned while I was out searching. No sign of him anywhere. Finally I give up in frustration for the night and head for home.

When I pull onto my street, I break into a sudden grin as I see his blue Camaro parked by the curb. Of course, the one place I didn't check: my own house.

From the front hallway I hear the unmistakably violent sounds of 'Call of Duty' – don't ask me which version – coming from the living room and the aggressive teasing as Damon mocks Jeremy for missing something or another, again.

The smile on my face stretches even wider. The only thing missing from the normal family picture I'm presented with as I step into the doorway of the room is that Ric's not sitting there with them. Although, come to think of it, he might very well be on the end of the couch right now, laughing away at them, and only my brother would know.

"Hey, Elena," Jeremy greets me, without taking his eyes off the screen. Damon waves a hand in the air in my general direction. I get it - they're busy.

Heading upstairs, I pause at the top of the steps and quietly say, "Damon, come up and see me before you go, please." I know he can hear me, even as distracted as he is right now. Some part of him is always attuned to me.

I grab my pajamas and enter the bathroom to shower. As the steaming water pulses against the tight muscles on the back of my neck, I go over all the compulsions and what new insights they've given me.

Isobel told me that Stefan wasn't really mine, that he only saw me as a human replacement for Katherine. I'm not sure if I fully believe that or not, but more and more it seems like it might have been true at one point. I do know that he believes he loves me. And doesn't that very belief make it real? She also told me the truth about Katherine's lack of feelings for Damon, which we learned later from Anna anyway. And that when Damon loves, he loves with everything in him, unconditionally, something I'm understanding more and more.

The first few times Stefan compelled me were just strange. I'm not sure why he decided each meeting wasn't the 'right time' yet. The fact that he was stalking me for so long before he met me for real that day in school is totally creepy, though. He 'met me' so many times and each time if I acted even a little bit suspicious of him or if the conversation didn't go exactly the way he wanted, he'd erase it and try again later. Our whole relationship was built on a foundation of lies. I see that so clearly now.

And that last time, when Stefan made me believe that Damon wasn't capable of being a good person, that everything he did was just an act for his own amusement or benefit, I actually learned more about Stefan, himself. He was so insecure about our relationship, so afraid of having to share me with his brother like he'd been forced to share Katherine, that he actually felt he needed to compel me to love him and only him, forever. And to not be able to ever really fall for Damon. Stefan's bitterness and jealousy, his determination that I believe Damon is 'bad' and he is 'good', well I see now how it shaped my words, my actions and my decisions right up until the moment I died.

As for Damon's compulsions, well the first one still confuses me a bit. I don't really understand why he reacted to me the way he did, why he told me he hoped I'd get everything I'm looking for. Maybe he doesn't know why, either. It just happened. Two strangers had a moment. He revealed a bit more of himself than he'd meant to, and he took the moment back.

But the second time, when he told me he loved me and that he didn't deserve me but Stefan did - that memory I just can't get past. I've been playing it over in my mind like a YouTube video. He said he wished I didn't have to forget it, and God, in hindsight I really wish that, too. It wouldn't have changed anything at the time, I don't think. But later, when Damon and I grew closer, well then I think my knowledge of that moment could have changed a lot of things about how I dealt with my shifting and complicated emotions for him.

The way I treated him, the times I took advantage of, or worse, completely disregarded his feelings for me – all those moments might have been different if I'd had that memory to fall back on. I thought I was beginning to understand Damon, but now I realize that I never did. In many ways, I still don't.

But I want to. I need to.

As I step out of the shower and reach for a towel, I catch sight of the shadow of my reflection through the fogged mirror. I push open the door with one hand and the fog starts to slowly fade away. By the time I'm dry and in my pajamas, it's gone completely.

I stare at myself and I realize that the girl looking back at me has cut through some pretty thick fog of her own. Finally.

I'm in love with Damon.

Holy shit.

The words on the page in front of me blur and come back into crisp focus, blur and come back into focus. I've been staring at the same paragraph in my book for at least fifteen minutes now, trying to concentrate on the plot and having zero success.

All I can think about is what I need to say to Damon.

Then I hear voices down in the entranceway and the closing of the front door as someone leaves. No! He has to come see me first!

Flying up and off my bed, I'm nearly at my bedroom door, intending to call him back, when it opens and he's standing there staring curiously at me, and then…then I lose my train of thought entirely and my intentions fall out the window, because I've thrown my arms around his neck and I'm kissing him and he's kissing me and…oh, God, I feel like I've waited so damn long for this.

All too soon he's gently pushing me away by the shoulders and looking into my eyes. "Not that I don't appreciate the enthusiastic greeting – cause I really do – but some annoying part of me has to ask. What's going on, Elena?"

"I…I need to…" I can barely make my brain focus enough to form words right now. "Please sit down, Damon. There's more stuff you should know."

He plops himself down onto my bed and I sit cross-legged and face him. He's looking at me expectantly, hair all messy and sexy from my fingers, and I have to force myself to really concentrate on what I want to say to stop from diving right back into him again.

I explain about the final compelled memory I got back after he left the boarding house earlier. His jaw hardens and his fingers grip my comforter tightly as he listens to me relate what Stefan said to me that night.

"Oh, he's so gonna regret he ever laid eyes on you when I'm done with him," Damon seethes, and I reach out to grab his arm. His tension seems to relax a bit at my touch.

"There's more."

"More compulsions? You're kidding me, right?"

I purse my lips and pull my hand back, clasping them in my lap and looking down at them. "No, no more of those, thank God. I think I have all of the memories back now."

"Then what is it?" he asks me softly, reaching over to squeeze my twisting fingers in his.

"I've been thinking about what all these revelations mean, what they say about each person who compelled me and how things might have been different if I'd had those memories to help shape my decisions."

I look up and meet Damon's clear blue eyes. "I'd like to think that I would have been kinder to you, more understanding of you, if I'd known then what I do now. I'm sorry for what I did to you, and what I said to you, at the Ball. And after that. For weeks after that. I think maybe Stefan's compulsion was forcing me to suppress my true feelings."

"But that's over now," I promise him. "I always felt so incomplete before, and I never really understood why. I blamed it on losing my parents, and Jenna, and then nearly losing Stefan, too. Something was missing. Turns out many things were missing."

I smile tentatively at him. He's looking at me with a very serious expression that I can't read.

"How do you feel now, Elena?"

I take a deep breath. Here we go. Time to be brave. "There's still one thing I need."

"What's that?" Do I detect a tiny note of nervousness in his voice?

"You, Damon. I need you. I'm madly, deeply, fully, completely in love with you," I'm smiling and yet I think I've started to cry a little bit, too.

He's just staring at me. Why isn't he responding? Or doing something. Like kissing me, for example. That'd be a great place to start.

Finally I can't stand the suspense any longer. "Aren't you gonna say anything? Am I way too late?"

Then his hands are framing my face and he's wiping away the moisture from my cheeks. "I was just memorizing the moment, trying to hold onto it for as long as I can, so when I wake up in my own bed in a second and realize none of this was real, I'll remember."

I lean forward and quickly press my lips against his. "It's real, Damon. I love you."

"It's real?" His words are full of childlike wonder and that indelible need to believe, even though the real world teaches you things like Santa and the Easter Bunny don't exist, and that wishes don't come true.

"It's real," I assure him, and he's smiling wider than I've ever seen him smile before. "Would you please just kiss me already?"

And he does. Gently at first, soft and warm and tender and I part my lips for him, encouraging him. His hands stroke down the sides of my face as my own pull him closer to me and glide along the lean, tight muscles of his back.

Before long, our kisses deepen and intensify and his hands find their way down to the hem of my pajama top and slide underneath, tracing my spine all the way back up to my neck. Everywhere his fingers touch my bare skin, a trail ignites in their wake. I'm on fire for him, not just deep in the pit of my belly, but all over. Everywhere. I need him like I've never needed anyone or anything. More than sleep, more than blood, more than oxygen. There is no part of my existence that doesn't want him.

Then he pulls away from me and I can't help but moan at the loss of his touch as he tugs my shirt up and over my head. I don't know where it ends up, and I really don't care. He rolls me onto my back and his weight presses down on me as he begins to kiss a electrifying trail along my neck to my collarbone, nipping lightly at my skin with his blunt teeth as he goes.

"Damon!" I gasp, and he looks up to lock eyes with mine. "Is Jeremy…?"

"Gone," he murmurs with a smirk and goes right back to what he was doing. Gone? I can barely think straight right now. Gone? Oh, right, to Matt's. For safety reasons. Good. At least for tonight, it's good. Damon's lips have found their way to one of my nipples and I can't stifle my sounds of pleasure at the incredible sensations he's creating. I could not be happier that my brother is not in this house tonight.

Too many clothes. He has way too many clothes on. I need to get them off of him. But that would mean moving his mouth away from my breasts. Okay, scratch that. I can wait. My God, that boy has a talented tongue. My muscles tense up all over as I suddenly imagine what other mind-blowing things he could do with it.

One of his hands is exploring the soft skin of my lower abdomen. I hold my breath as he slips it below the waistband of my pajama bottoms and strokes lightly over my thin cotton underwear. Please…just please. Don't stop.

He does stop, though, and raises his eyes to mine again, chuckling. "Breathe, Elena." Then his hand dips under my panties.

Things kind of blur for a bit at this point. I know his mouth moves up to my lips again. I know somehow he manages to remove the rest of my clothing, and his own. That bit happens so fast I barely have time to register it before his fully naked body is pressed against mine.

Damon's hands glide down my face, my hair, my arms, my lower back. They caress my hips and squeeze the flesh along the backs of my legs as he kisses me passionately. I can feel the hardness of him pressed against my inner thigh. And I want him. God, do I want him. My love for him is overwhelming me and I need to show him just how much I desire him.

Parting my legs, I bring my knees up and cross my ankles over his tightly muscled butt so he's cradled between my thighs. "Now, Damon. I need you inside me now." I don't even care if it sounds like begging. This needs to happen.

His hands still on my body and he stares intensely at me. The expression on his face says many things, lust chiefly, but his eyes…his eyes are full of the most incredible awe. He is so beautiful and he looks at me like I'm the only one in his entire world. I cannot believe I never truly noticed this before.

Then he's pushing into me, filling me up, stretching me and completing me. And that's the exact moment when I truly understand what Damon and I, together, really means. We're two halves of the same whole, incomplete without the other.

It took us so long to get to this point. So much strain and tension, pain and anger. So much heartbreak. But it's all worth it for this moment. When we lock gazes with each other as he moves within me, time just stops.

I had thought my first time making love as a vampire would be different. I assumed it would be more frenzied and wild and rough and physical. And I'm sure it can be all those things and will be all those things and much, much more. But right now, we are none of those things. We kiss gently; we touch each other reverently; we move in tandem. The time will come for wild abandon and hot vamp sex against every surface, I know it will, and soon. But now is not that time.

And for a long time, a very long time, we keep up the unhurried pace. I don't know how he can stand it, because I'm nearly about to lose my mind. He brings me so close to the edge, time and time again, and then backs off. My sensitivity levels have shot up off the charts and I come to a sudden decision that it's time for me to take control.

Flipping Damon under me in one fast movement, I straddle his body and feel my fangs erupt as I start to swivel my hips harder and faster down onto him. He growls – literally growls – in approval and it's got to be the most erotic sound I've ever heard in my life.

And that's all it takes. He grabs my hips, fingers digging into my flesh, and holds me in place while he begins thrusting upward powerfully. Oh God. So close now. I squeeze my eyes tightly shut and moan his name.

"Come for me, Elena," he demands breathlessly, and, mere seconds later, my orgasm rolls over me. My whole body shivers and convulses around him and I collapse onto his glistening chest, panting for air as I cling to him. But he's not quite done yet. He rolls me back over and presses the entire length of his body against me as he shortens his strokes, drawing closer to his own release. I can hear his breath quicken and I know he's nearly there.

He slams into me hard now, so fast I can hardly register each movement, and then he's groaning into the curve of my neck as, with a couple more shallow thrusts, he finishes with a loud gasp. Rolling to one side, he pulls me with him, so we're facing each other on our sides on my bed, still intimately connected, as much skin touching each other as is possible.

"That was…" I start, but he interrupts me.

"Incredible? Mind blowing? Utterly amazing? When I hit the right one just make that sound again – you know, the one you just made a minute ago? I think it went something like…"

I flush and quickly stop him with a hand over his mouth. "Do you really have to ruin such a perfect moment?" I ask him reproachfully.

He tugs my hand away and gives me a quick kiss. "Don't you get it, Elena? We can have as many perfect moments as we want now. It's all up to you. You know I'm yours. You can have me forever, if you want me." The teasing gleam is suddenly gone from his eyes.

"I do," I reply softly. "I want you forever."

"Forever," he agrees. Then he captures my lips again and time ceases to matter at all.

-FIN -

A/N Short, but sweet, I know. Hope you guys all liked? The best possible way to thank me or any other writer on here is to let them know by leaving a review below please. Thanks to every single one of you that has left a review or favourited or recommended any of my stories to anyone else. Extra HUGE thanks to morvamp, who betaed this fic.

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