They were all the other had. Stefan was moving on. Caroline was being Caroline, except Tyler couldn't stand the sight of her most days. Bonnie was dead. Damon was dead. Jeremy was lost in drugs. Matt was Matt, a boy that, in theory, both Elena and Tyler could turn to. Neither of them did. Past experiences made it awkward. Instead the two turned to each other.
One night turned into another. Another night turned into a week. A week turned into a month. A month turned into months. Suddenly the two are rarely apart. When Elena goes back to school Tyler goes with her. Caroline judges, not that either expect any less, but Tyler is all too quick to remind her that she had no right because of her incident with Klaus. Incident because he doesn't want to think of the two of them fucking out in the woods, where they had one upon a time. No that just pisses him off. Which just makes her speechless, something she will later complain to Stefan about, they are both certain. For as close as Tyler and Elena are Stefan and Caroline are closer.
When there's one, there's another. Quickly it becomes Tyler and Elena. They are just friends. Nothing more. Something they tell time and time again. Just friends. She's been mourning Damon, for far too long, says everyone including Tyler. He's trying to figure out who the hell he is now that he is human. They are broken messes of people who need each other and there's no one else who could possibly understand.
Both without parents. Both without lovers, for different reasons, both without everything that had once made them whole. Neither ever dealing with what had torn them apart. Deaths are plenty between the two of them. Both orphans. Elena has Jeremy, a person she is grateful for, but they aren't as close as they maybe had once been. She feels alone. Tyler is alone, for no matter how much Matt is his brother they've been broken ever since Tyler had slept with Vicki. A name neither ever utter, an elephant that sits in the corner of every room they are in, along with Matt's mother, no matter how much time passes and how close they are.
Both Tyler and Elena will never have the same relationship with Matt they once had.
Instead it's parties where the two just hang out and drink with one another. It's late night study sessions in the library where they have to make each other concentrate. It's stumbling back to one of their dorms because they can't be bothered to separate. Being together was better. Laying there together, holding each other, was better. Elena plagued by the memories, Tyler not doing any better.
One day he wakes up and realizes that she's not just Elena Gilbert, the girl he grew up with. No, she's Elena Gilbert the girl who means more to him than Caroline did. It's the thought of fearing that she will be out of his life. It's the fear that he could die and leave her. Her own thoughts mirror his. She'll never admit that. She'll never admit that she had found some way to move on after Damon and it's been Tyler.
Caroline nags. It's nothing out of the ordinary. She's curious, unsure whether they are good together or they aren't. Tyler can't help but drink to drown out the sound of her voice. Hatred for her builds and builds as she judges. It's sad but they all made their choices. He drinks and drinks and soon he's focused on Elena. He grabs her hand in his and breathes against the shell of her ear, yanking her out of the room and into his dorm. His dorm where he know they won't be bothered.
It's a full moon and he feels as if he is going to crawl out of his skin. There's an anger he's not all that used to yet and he needs her. Needs her in a way he has needed her for months but was trying so desperately to respect the death of her former boyfriend. But now he's hard and straining against the too tight jeans he knows she appreciates and if he doesn't get to touch her it's going to be a completely new level of embarrassing. For all of the things that he is embarrassing isn't one of them.
But then she's tugging and ripping his clothes, which he doesn't complain because it's really fucking hot. He expected her to be good and innocent but he's not sure that she has an innocent bone in her body. Then she throws him against the bed and he can't find it in himself to care. They are drunk but they both know what they are doing. There's biting and nipping. He's bruised in far too many places and is thankful it's winter so he doesn't need to explain half of the marks she left on him. His neck is her favorite spot and he spends far too much time between her legs.
By the time the sun rises he's certain they are both on the verge of completely passing out. Not just nodding off only to wake the other up. Tyler's not exactly sure if he could move even if he wanted to.
It's not until there's a knock on his door that he even wakes up, Elena still right there, something that makes him smile. It's not just sex. No matter how much he would have fooled himself into thinking that she meant nothing to him.
It's the first and most certainly not the last time they find themselves together like that. It happens over and over. Caroline finds out and doesn't speak to either of them for a week until Stefan talks to her. Tyler doesn't thank Stefan but Elena does.
The semester draws to a close and they spend the holiday together. Jeremy doesn't want to see Elena for reasons Tyler doesn't know. He won't push even though he wants to punch the kid in the face for it. He decides not to. A punching bag is a much better substitute, the pent up anger needing to be released somehow. They spend some time in the snow. Together.
Holidays aren't that fun without family but they make the best of it. He loves her. It's something he finds himself thinking when he wakes up in the middle of the night and she's sleeping next to him. It just hit him and in some twisted, fucked up, way that he will never understand, Damon's death is probably the best thing that happened to him. Tyler can't find it in himself to care.
It's Christmas Eve and they've been telling stories from their childhoods. Some are together. The Lockwoods threw a few too many parties that the Gilberts always attended and now there they are together. Their parents are dead and their friends have moved on. It's only each other and as Tyler pulls her to him overlooking the fire neither of them really need he can't help but care.
For the past hour he's been debating as to whether or not he should tell her. Tell her that he loves her. It's a heavy debate and he really doesn't know what to do. He's terrified. Not that she doesn't feel the same way. There's something about the look in her eye. He's a guy who takes chances and even if she doesn't say it back he'd live.
He's terrified of the heartbreak that would most certainly come. Caroline called him the love of her life and still slept with Klaus. He can't go through that again. He won't. He's afraid that admitting their love is something that is going to doom them. Vicki is dead. Caroline is with someone else. Damon is dead. Stefan is with someone else. They don't have luck, any luck, and their lives are nothing but doomed romances, along with everything else.
But God does he love her and all he wants is her. For now. For always.
"'Lena…" He whispers, looking down at her, only for those bring brown eyes to look back up at him and he's such a fucking lost cause.
"Yeah, Ty?" Her voice is soft, like it usually is when the are together, she's looking at him but resting comfortably against his body. She fits there. With him.
"I…" And he breathes because suddenly he's this stupid mushy guy that reminds him of the kids he would tease when he was in high school. He wasn't a good guy then and now he's this huge fucked up mess that is in love with a girl that he'd die for. Then and now. There's always been something about Elena fucking Gilbert and even with how much he's changed he's not the right, good guy for her. It's a complex he ignores and leans down to steal a kiss from her.
"I know." The two words mumbled against his lips as she turns her body to him. "Me too."
Both of them are fucked up beyond belief and the words aren't needed. They were never needed. Over the years there was so much unspoken between the two but they both care a whole hell of a lot and always would.
It's love and they have each other. He'd rather love Elena and risk it all then be the guy with a big ass mansion and nothing else.