Cool leather, under her cheek.

Her hair lightly brushing against her forehead in a breeze.

This is what roused her out of her slumber.

Elena opened her eyes slowly, assuming she dozed off in the Salvatores' living room, with Stefan beside her. But the grogginess began to lift when she couldn't focus on her surroundings. She made out a dim analog radio tuner... a reflection on glass, a window. The nighttime forest landscape blurring by. The low notes of an eighties rock song playing in the background.

"...I used to love her, but I had to kill her..."

She was in a car, one that was vaguely familiar. She quietly rolled her head to the side, to the driver's seat.


His jaw visibly tensed and unclenched, over and over, as he stared straight ahead, eyes narrowed. His window was down and one arm rested there, his other hand tightly guiding the steering wheel. He reached down to take a swig of scotch from the bottle stashed between them.

"Hello, Elena."

His voice was carefully even and stretched taut, ready to snap at any moment. His eyes never left the winding road.

"Where are you taking me? Where's Stefan?"

"Don't worry about my useless brother." He turned to her finally and her blood ran cold. His expression - his whole demeanor - was frightening. He looked... unhinged. She swallowed hard as he surveyed her appearance slowly. "And we are going farrrr away."

"Damon, please. Just turn around. Bring me home."

He didn't answer her and instead turned his attention back to the road. She moved slowly, eyeing the door. When she reached down for the seatbelt, his hand shot over and gripped her wrists together. She cried out in a mixture of pain and surprise.

"Don't even think about it." He stared her down as he parked on the shoulder. He never let go of her but managed to grab some cord from the backseat, making fast work of binding her hands together.

"Why don't you just compel me?" she asked with a grimace. The ties weren't too tight but she couldn't break free either. He pulled the Mustang back onto the road with a lead foot. She could hear the gravel flying as the tires spun out.

"Wait until you see what I have planned."

Her stomach lurched at the tone of his voice. That was when she noticed her attire. A delicate long ruffled linen skirt, paired with a brocade corset top, both showing wear and aged ivory in color.

Impossible, she thought. But fear snaked its way through her veins. Damon was gazing at her now, her pounding heart drawing his attention.

"It fits you perfectly," he murmured, a depraved smile spreading over his features. "I saved them. A part of her to keep with me until I could rescue her."

But she didn't need to be rescued.

The implied words weighed heavily inside the car, and her skin crawled at the nameless confirmation of who these clothes originally belonged to. It had only been a handful of days since his century and a half mission came crashing down around him. Stunned and reeling, Damon blocked himself off from everyone. He withdrew from Elena's tentative offer of a shoulder to cry on. Stefan grew more worried as Damon became more despondent. He eventually forbade her from coming over, worried for her safety in his brother's presence. But Damon's twisted state of turmoil only festered in seclusion, fueled by an alcohol and blood binge.

His eyes were back on the road, his profile again in her view. The continued clenching and untensing jaw hypnotized her. His internal struggle was clearly apparent in the muscles of his face. It gave her a sliver of hope that she could bring him round to sanity again, but she knew she needed to tread carefully. He was obviously more volatile than usual in carrying out this unknown plan.

Damon held the bottle of scotch toward her with a glance but she declined and he set it back onto the seat. He began to sing the lyrics softly - Guns N' Roses, she remembered - and his stare burned into her.

Elena turned her head back to the window and feigned sleep, all while trying to calm her frantic mind. But she kept an eye outside for any clues, anything to help her escape once they her dismay, it appeared he was driving them further away from civilization, into the wilderness. Eventually the mindless repetition of passing trees won out and lulled her into unconsciousness.