Elena woke up with a splitting headache. She'd been out the night before with Caroline and Bonnie, and Caroline had compelled the bartender to keep her well-stocked in tequila. According to her, Elena had forgotten how to have fun with all that had been going on. She vaguely remembered leaving the Grill at closing, Caroline half carrying her down the sidewalk. She had been trashed, quite a feat for her. Elena breathed a grateful sigh that it hadn't been Damon who'd brought her home. Her relief would be short-lived. Elena stretched out an arm and jumped. She wasn't alone. A very shirtless Damon was gazing back at her, smirking in a way that couldn't possibly mean anything good. She examined her own body. She was in her camisole from last night, but her jeans had been removed, leaving her in a pair of relatively skimpy briefs. Oh shit.

"Oh, my god. What...What happened?" Elena was starting to hyperventilate. Damon looked like Christmas had come early. "I thought Caroline brought me home?" Damon's wolfish smile was wearing on her nerves. She wasn't sure what had happened, but he was half-naked and grinning like a fool. Elena's stomach flipped as she thought about everything that might have played out. She had been fighting her feelings for him for so long, if she'd finally acted on them and couldn't remember, she was going to be really pissed.

"Oh, she did. Then she came back to check on you, and you'd staged a prison break. She called me. I found you. Here we are." The look of pride on his face only deepened her fear that something irrevocable had happened.

"Damon, seriously, did I…?" She trailed off, unable to say it.

"Puke all over my shirt, strip down to your unmentionables and ask me to stay and watch X-Men? Yup." Elena cringed. She felt herself pale with humiliation.

"Sorry." He shrugged, still fighting laughter. Elena wasn't sure how to react. She'd never been so mortified in her life.

"Aren't you going to ask where I found you?" Elena paused before answering. She wasn't sure if she could handle the information. She'd had a few drunken adventures before this, and the memories did nothing to ease her mind.

"Was I wearing clothes then?" Damon looked as though he was considering whether to lie or not.

"Unfortunately, yes. But we could work on that next time." This earned him a dramatic eye roll. Elena shook her head.

"Then no, I can deal." Damon looked a little disappointed that she wasn't playing anymore, but his smirk returned as quickly as it had gone.

"Hmm…I don't know. Take a look at your right hip and say that again." Elena narrowed her eyes, wondering why he knew something she didn't about a region normally covered by her shirt. She tugged the fabric up, revealing a black mark the size of a silver dollar. She moved to the mirror and saw it clearly for the first time. It was a crow. She tried to rub it away, but to no avail. The skin was incredibly tender and rather red. This was bad. Everyone knew how closely she associated the animal with Damon, since she had told the stories of her first meetings with him to everyone within her inner circle. She might as well have gotten his name next to it, and they weren't even dating. Fuck damn it, now he'll never shut up. "Nice choice, I have to say, it's a personal favorite of mine. What's the story behind your desire to have it under your jeans?" Damon was in his element. He knew exactly what it meant, and he was trying to provoke her into saying it. She wasn't having any of it.

"A girl can dream, right?" She batted her eyelashes at him. He looked surprised for all of a second before she spoke again. "Damon, I was wasted. I'm just lucky I didn't end up with a Keebler elf on my ass." Damon chuckled, still looking at her like she'd handed him the keys to the Playboy mansion.

"Kinky…and a little sick. I like it. Let me know when you're ready to hash out all the psychological issues that went into the new addition." Damon grinned at her as he stood to leave, slipping his leather jacket on over his bare torso. He was so busy watching her turmoil that he almost ran into Jeremy at the door. "Hey. Your sister got a tattoo. Don't say I never gave you anything. Call me later, Elena."


Jeremy hadn't asked questions about why Damon was leaving Elena's room at eight in the morning, or about their mutual states of undress. He had, however, laughed hysterically when he'd wrestled an answer out of her about the tattoo situation. Somehow, despite the fact that Damon had been indirectly responsible for the death of his first girlfriend, the near-death of his aunt, his own temporary demise (that one was pretty direct, actually), and countless other terrible things, he apparently still found Elena's relationship with him to be utterly hilarious. She wasn't about to try to comprehend her brother's rationalizations, but he genuinely seemed to almost like Damon. Elena suspected that it was mostly due to the fact that no one managed to find more ways to publicly humiliate her. It saved him a lot of legwork in the "irritating little brother" department.

Elena had spent the better portion of the morning staring at the brand on her pelvis. Of course, she'd gotten it there. It would have been too intelligent of her to go for the arm, or the ankle. Drunk Elena didn't do intelligent things. Drunk Elena did things like wake up in the back of her SUV with Drunk Caroline and Drunk Matt surrounded by empty cans of whipped cream, feathers, and a half-destroyed Scattergories game. Apparently, Drunk Elena also got not-so-cryptic tattoos which alluded to her ex-boyfriend's brother in very private physical locations.

When she wasn't contemplating her own stupidity, she was debating whether or not she should record the events in her journal. She decided against it. It wasn't like she'd ever forget it, after all. She'd forever have a little reminder of her attraction to Damon stamped just above her underwear line, and he would have an entirely new motivation to make sure she never died. She imagined he'd have to turn her into a vampire at some point, because half a century would never be long enough for him to run through all of the witty remarks he was undoubtedly flooded with. She pictured herself wrinkled and senile, drooling into a bucket, with an eternally sexy vampire pushing her around in a wheelchair, cackling like a hyena while rattling off raunchy Edgar Allen Poe references. She wondered numbly if there were any more psychotic hybrids looking for a doppelganger sacrifice. Fiery, bloody doom was looking really, really good about now.


Damon Salvatore hadn't smiled this much since…ever. He had actually caught himself giggling as he drove home that morning. He had been thrilled at the prospect of hunting down an intoxicated Elena Gilbert. She was an awesome drunk. He'd only seen her completely smashed twice now, since the bonfire hadn't been real. Atlanta had turned out to be one of the best ideas he'd ever had…minus the whole almost-dying thing. He remembered that evening as the night he knew without a doubt that Elena was too much fun for Stefan. He'd expected her to be all emo-broody-uptight like his brother, or at least emo-broody-whiny like Jeremy. He'd been riveted at the unveiling of her true nature. Elena was epic when she drank, and he'd jumped at the chance to experience it again. What he'd witnessed was more priceless than anything, ever.


He'd checked the Grill, called Bonnie, Jeremy, and Alaric (who hadn't been too keen on Damon being around an uninhibited Elena). He had been about to get worried when he saw a flash of long brown hair in a window he'd never have thought to check, because it was beyond what even he thought she was capable of. There was Elena, leaning back in a chair inside Black Dragon Body Art. Damon's first thought was to stop her before it was too late. As he got out of his car and walked toward the building, he caught a bit of the conversation she was having with the artist, who had already started whatever it was she was going to be stuck with.

"Give it pretty blue eyes. Like, really blue…like ice, but blue. Like the ocean, only icy…" She snorted. "Ocean ice."

The guy who was working on her looked up at her, probably wondering why he'd agreed to do this in the first place.

"You want a blue-eyed crow? Whatever, honey. I'll be right back." He set his tool down, walked to the back of the shop, and Damon took this moment to analyze what he was hearing. Elena was getting a tattoo of a crow, somewhere fairly interesting from the looks of it, and she was asking for it to have "pretty blue eyes". Damon's shock was followed by something that might have been dangerously close to glee. He'd love to see her deny there being something between them now. He knew she was still a little hung up on Stefan, and that she'd be mopey and unstable for awhile, but he couldn't wait for her to be sober enough to torment (in a playful, seductive, I-know-you-secretly-want-this sort of way, of course). Even if Stefan came back all reformed and repentant someday, there would always be indisputable proof that at some point, she'd wanted Damon too. Damon almost doubled over with laughter at the thought of his little brother seeing that tattoo. It was the perfect cock-block. Even if nothing ever happened between them, even if she never let him get that close, at least he'd have this.

Damon almost felt bad that after a hundred and fifty years, he'd made almost no progress when it came to Stefan. He loved his brother (although he would literally rip someone's throat out before admitting it to them), but things always came too easily to Stefan. He'd always been the favorite. Their father had loved Stefan more, Katherine had loved Stefan more, and now Elena loved Stefan more. Little bro could slaughter entire villages, and he was "not himself". People just forgave him. Damon, on the other hand, couldn't even feed on a perfectly willing human without being a monster. It was the eternal double-standard. Since Stefan's arrival on the planet, Damon had heard nothing but, "He's a baby, Damon, he doesn't understand", "You're his older brother, it's your job to guide him", and his favorite ego-busting catchphrase, "It'll always be Stefan". Just this once, Stefan would get a little taste of what Damon lived with. Yes, Damon had been with Katherine when Stefan had, but Stefan always knew she would choose him if she could only have one of them. That was the only reason Damon had never demanded she stop seeing his brother. He took what he could get. Elena was only different in the sense that Damon loved her so much that he was willing to settle for her friendship. It didn't stop him from flirting, and enjoying the way her heart raced when he touched her. He knew she wasn't like Katherine, but he certainly made her want to be sometimes, and that was enough for Damon. It was enough to know she desired him, if that's all he could ever have.

But, right now, as Damon watched Elena marking herself for him, he couldn't help but feel that things might turn out differently this time. She would probably regret this tomorrow, and he would probably wish he'd gotten there in time to stop it (well…maybe not, but he'd at least try to feel bad). All he knew was that he'd never felt this close to first place. Damon had never felt this loved, ever. It was weird that a drunken lapse in judgment could touch him so deeply, while making him laugh like he hadn't laughed in a century. This was classic Elena, and he felt for the hundredth time that she was made for him, because this was exactly the sort of stupid thing he'd do on a bender. Of course, if it were him, the tattoo artist would end up with a broken neck for wearing that Metallica t-shirt.

Elena was unsteadily swiping her credit card at the counter, all gauzed up and ready to go. Damon decided to finally make his entrance. He opened the door, smirking so much it almost hurt as Elena whipped around and almost toppled over when she saw him. No, he would never let her forget this. He would tease her, toy with her, and make sure she knew on some level that this was a massive breakthrough for them. He couldn't wait to watch her try to write this one off, like she had their near-death kiss/cuddle session. Eventually, Damon knew, Elena was going to run out of either excuses or self-control. As much as past experiences hindered him, and made him cautious to believe she wouldn't always want Stefan, there was something in her unfocused gaze that told him he might be right to keep hoping.

The rest of the evening was less than pretty. She twisted her ankle, argued with him for wanting to heal her, and finally relented when he'd pointed out how useful running was when trying to stay alive. Apparently, blood and alcohol were a bad combination for Elena, because she only kept it down for about five minutes. It was enough to take the edge off, but he was out one of his favorite shirts. All of this should have been disgusting, and it would have been, if it hadn't also been rib-crackingly funny. He carried her up the stairs to her room, ignoring the glare Ric shot him from the couch, where he had once again taken up residence.

Elena managed to brush her teeth and find her way back to the bedroom, discarding her pants as she approached. He briefly considered spiking everything she consumed from that moment on, even if it cost him his entire wardrobe (which might not be so terrible, on second thought). He sighed, knowing he had to draw the line somewhere if he wanted to keep her respect tomorrow. He tucked her in, and made to leave, but she was having none of it. Her hand reached for his, and she smiled slightly.

"I don't want to sleep. Stay here and watch a movie." Damon knew this could end badly. He weighed the thought in his mind, deciding if it was worth the wrath he might face in the morning from everyone they knew. There was no question. She had lifted up the edge of her shirt to pick at the bandage. It wasn't really necessary, since his blood had mostly healed her. Seeing the crow emblazoned on her hip, and the lack of proper clothing, in addition to her pleading face, he caved. Sure, there'd be hell to pay, most likely from Elena herself, but he was still Damon Salvatore. No matter how much he changed for her, some things were intrinsic to his character. Looking at the state of them, he was full of contentment and anticipation. Nothing would happen tonight, he would never let it get that far, but she was going to be so much fun when she woke up tomorrow. He let himself drift off next to her, picturing the myriad of colors her cheeks would turn when she observed the scene around her, and wondering if she'd remember any of what had happened. He kind of hoped she wouldn't, just so he could be the one to fill her in. Damon could spend forever doing this dance with her, and tonight had rekindled the hope that there was a possibility he'd get to. Maybe this time she'd realize what was happening between them, and not run away from it. He loved her more than he ever had as he felt her curl herself against his body. Yep, Ric would almost definitely stake him for this. Damon couldn't care less.


Moments after arriving, Elena no longer had a clue why she'd thought seeking out Caroline's advice had been a good idea. She had gone seamlessly from laughter, to disapproval, to nosiness before Elena's tired brain could process any of it. Caroline was already deep into the third stage when Elena finally felt capable of speech. Not that she'd been given an opportunity. She'd merely walked in, presented the souvenir of her idiotic little adventure, groaned dramatically, and plopped down on the bed. Caroline had taken it from there.

"You are so screwed. You know that, right?" Elena nodded, burying her face in her friend's pillow. The lecture didn't stop, though. They were twenty minutes in, at this point. She'd heard all of the reasons why Damon was a bad choice, how he'd been the worst boyfriend in the history of catastrophic relationships, and how stupid Elena had been to leave the house again after she'd dropped her off. Caroline huffed before asking the first question that required more than a grunt in response. "So, do you think you might be ready to come clean now? I think it's safe to say he's definitely, literally under your skin, Elena. What are you going to do about this?" Her tone was bossy and cranky, but there was a layer of concern…maybe even sympathy underneath. Elena's voice was rougher than usual as she said everything she hadn't ever wanted to say to anyone.

"Yes, okay? I'm attracted to him. I'm more than attracted to him. I don't know what to do, Care. I can't shake this thing." Caroline softened a little bit, but didn't move from where she sat, propped against her wicker headboard.

"Look, I still think he's an asshole, and it kills me to say this, so listen. He loves you. He loves you more than anything. ", Elena already knew this, but hearing it from an outside party, especially the person with the most reason to resent him, was bizarre. It shook something loose for her. Caroline was searching her face, reading her as easily as she would herself. "I think you should consider the possibility that you might love him back."

Elena felt her stomach clench. She couldn't be this person; she was supposed to love Stefan. She hated that she couldn't force down the feelings she had, that Caroline knew her so well, and most of all, Elena hated that she'd actually liked waking up with Damon this morning. She'd liked all of it, even seeing that she'd branded herself as his in some weird, drunken moment of self-awareness. She didn't know whether to laugh or cry, so she sat there silently. Elena stayed stock-still on Caroline's bed, fully aware that she was completely in love with a man she only liked half the time she was with him. Even when she hated him, she loved him. There was no more denial, no going back. The whole ordeal gained an ironic symbolism for her. Just like there was no getting rid of the mark on her skin, and there was no fighting the fact that she needed him more desperately than anything in the world.

"How can you not hate me for this?" Elena sounded weak, even to her own ears. Caroline scooted over, squeezing her hand.

"Do you hate me for loving Tyler, despite everything?" Caroline had an uncanny ability to look both helpless and powerful at the same time. It made what she said seem more meaningful than it would have from anyone else. Elena knew that Damon would never betray her in the way Tyler had betrayed them, the way he'd betrayed Caroline. She knew that Damon would die before selling her out to Klaus. She knew that he loved her more deeply than she'd ever been loved by anyone in her life. The terrifying reality was that she returned those feelings, so much that she had afraid to acknowledge it. It still made her quake down to her bones to think of telling him. But she was also painfully conscious that she would never stop loving Damon. It was beyond her control now. She saw her own pain reflected in the eyes across from her.

"No, Care. Never."


"What's up, Lohan?" Elena heard him calling playfully from the parlor as she let herself in. She walked with purpose, willing herself to be stronger that the doubt and fear that had plagued them for so long. Her heart was put a little more at ease by his characteristic smirk, as he looked over his shoulder at her. There was a new twinkle in his eye, and she knew that she would never live the previous night down if she didn't give him something better to remember. He had turned back to the bar, where he was dropping ice cubes into a tumbler. Elena didn't respond to his greeting. She snatched the glass from his hand and slammed it back on the cart. Damon's eyes widened a bit. She'd knocked him off guard. It was hard not to take pleasure in seeing his arrogance falter for a moment. Taking advantage of his surprise, she grabbed him by the hair at the back of his neck, pulling him forward and kissing him as forcefully as she could. He stiffened at first, and she smiled into his mouth as he struggled to understand what was happening. He pulled back enough to speak, but she kept her hold on him.

"What the-"

"Damon, just shut up and let me kiss you." He didn't argue, and she yanked him back to her. He responded enthusiastically, wrapping his arms around her, and tugging on the ends of her hair to gain access to her neck. Damon's lips trailed reverently across her collarbone, causing Elena to dig her nails sharply into his back. He moved one hand to her stomach, reaching down to press on the tender spot on her hip. He kissed his way up to her ear, his tongue darting out to taste her skin before speaking softly against the curve of her cheek.

"This…"He pressed more firmly on the tattoo. "This means you're mine."

Damon's voice was both possessive and pleading. It was as much a question as it was a command. Elena nibbled on the part of his neck she could reach, intoxicated by the feeling of giving in, of letting every forbidden emotion take her over. Her response was more breath than speech as the intensity of the moment overcame her.

"I'm good with that."

Damon let out a sound that was somewhere between a whimper and a growl as he yanked his shirt over his head. She followed his lead, handing the reins over to him, having exhausted her desire for total dominance. Their clothes were discarded carelessly, their bodies barely separating, and Elena was lost in the electricity that crackled around them. It was like she'd never been alive before this moment, the hesitance she'd felt shattering as she felt Damon's skin against her own for the first time. He didn't stop to ask permission, and neither did she. In one fluid movement, they were on the floor, entwined completely. They moved like what they were doing was the most natural thing in the world, like they'd joined like this thousands of times. There was no pause, no need to think. It was carnal, and instinctive. Every inch of skin that touched him caught fire, and thrummed with a burning heat that she'd never felt in her life. His body instinctively knew hers. She heard nothing but his ragged breath; saw nothing but his chest, his neck, his eyes. His spicy, woody scent filled her nose as she tasted him on her tongue. Her hands roamed his body, memorizing every dip, every plane. She laid claim to him with every caress, and willingly offered up her own soul in return.

Elena had never known how much she had hidden away until she let herself love him. As they lay on the carpet, still consumed by the aftershocks of the passion that neither had fully anticipated, she laced her fingers with his. He met her eyes, his expression softer than she'd ever seen it. Elena smiled at him, knowing he had felt everything she had. She rolled into his embrace, laying her head on his chest like she'd done so many times before, but knowing the new significance it held. This was forever. She had consciously committed herself to the irrevocable bond her heart had made long ago. She was marked, physically and emotionally, and he was hers just as surely.


So, this is the longest oneshot I've ever written, and my first venture into pseudo-smut. What do we think? Reviews make me insanely happy, so please leave them, even if they're short. Thanks for reading!