New story! I hope you all enjoy. Main pairing will be Kol/Elena with a smidge of Klaus/Elena.
Two thousand one hundred and ninety days. It had been two thousand one hundred and ninety days since Elena Gilbert left her life behind in Mystic Falls. Six years ago, down to the day, she left behind the best thing that had ever happened to her. All because she was too young and too naïve.
She allowed the sun to flicker through the closed window and she sighed. She didn't want to get up; she didn't want to face the world today. She'd much rather lay in bed until she simply couldn't any longer.
"Momma!" A little voice yelled from the doorway and suddenly there was a body landing next to her.
Elena turned onto her side and smiled at the little girl who was giggling at her. The girl's chocolate hair hung in messy ringlets around her heart-shaped face and her wide mahogany doe eyes were sparkling with excitement. A light sprinkling of freckles on the bridge of her nose completed her look of innocence and Elena couldn't help but smile.
"Good morning, Claire-bear," Elena said, smiling at her daughter, "You're up early today."
"Momma! We're supposed to be on a plane later!" Claire said seriously, her little eyebrows creasing in concern, "We're gonna go see nana and papa!"
Elena groaned internally. Since leaving Mystic Falls, her parents had always agreed to come visit her, here, in New Orleans. But this year, her father had begged for them to visit home and she couldn't deny him even though she had swore that she'd never be back.
"I know, baby. But our flight isn't until later tonight, when's it's dark out," she explained, "We still have time to pack and have Uncle Nik drive us to the airport."
Claire's eyes widened comically as a smile bloomed across her face, "Uncle Nik? We're gonna see him today?"
Elena laughed, "Yup, he's actually going to be here soon. You might want to go get dressed and brush your teeth."
"Yippee!" The girl cheered, bolting out of bed and scampering to her room.
Elena sighed and lay back against the pillows once more. She could do this. It was only for the holidays.
"Uncle Nik, tell mama she needs to pack!" Claire said, stomping her foot for good measure.
"Sweetheart, I'm sure your mother has already packed," Klaus assured her, sitting down at the kitchen island and grabbing a cookie from the counter, "Besides, if she hasn't, then you'll just get to stay here with your favorite uncle!"
Her brows furrowed for a second as she looked up, "But what about Uncle Damon and Uncle Elijah and Uncle Jeremy and-"
"All right, all right," he cut her off, handing her a cookie as well, "I get it; you have a lot of uncles to choose from."
"I miss Uncle 'Lijah," she pouted, "He doesn't come over that much anymore. Mommy said he's too busy with-with Kaferi-"
"Katherine, love," Klaus corrected her with a smile
Elena smiled as she walked into the kitchen, fully dressed with a smile on her face, "Good morning, Nik."
Klaus stood and placed a kiss on her cheek before handing her a cup of coffee, "Good morning, beautiful. I wasn't sure what time your flight left…"
She accepted the cup gratefully and took a drink before answering, "It leaves at seven. We're all packed and ready to go, I've just been…procrastinating."
Sensing that she needed to talk, he looked over to Claire sitting on one of the barstools, "Darling, why don't you go play upstairs for a little while? Your mum and I need to talk about something important."
Claire's eyes lit up, "Like Christmas presents?"
"Yes, like Christmas presents," Klaus nodded, "So, I need you to go upstairs and I'll come get you when lunch is done, all right?"
"Okay!" She said excitedly before bolting out of the kitchen and up the stairs.
Elena gave Klaus a look of gratitude as she sank into the abandoned barstool. She knew that they needed to talk about what was going to happen for the holidays, but at the same time, she didn't want to know.
"He's going to be there, Elena," Klaus said softly, watching her intently for any sort of reaction.
She nodded, keeping her eyes down, "I know. I'll just stay with my parents or at the Boarding House. Rebekah and Finn can come see Claire, but I just don't want her around-"
"I know," he assured her, prying one of her hands away from the mug and rubbing it soothingly, "I don't think that my parents suspect anything. They thought you had taken care of it and none of my siblings have said anything."
"Good," she sighed in relief as she met his blue gaze, "I just didn't want to have to go back home. I don't want him to even see her. He…he wouldn't handle it very well."
Klaus nodded, "I agree. He wasn't ready for this, but neither were you. However, you made it work."
"I would have had nothing without you," she admitted with a watery smile, "If you wouldn't have taken us in when you did, I don't know what would have happened."
"You would've survived, like you always do."
Elena let out a forced laugh, "Yeah, yeah. I wish I didn't have to fly out today. Christmas Eve should be spent in a nice warm bed, not a plane."
"I know," he smiled, "But once you're with your family, you'll forget all about this. Oh, and Damon called earlier. He and Andie invited the two of you over to the Boarding House for Christmas brunch. I believe Stefan and Caroline will be there as well."
"Good," she smiled back, a genuine smile this time, "I miss them so much. They hardly ever get enough time away to come visit here."
"I guess it's a good thing I already said you'd be there, huh, sweetheart?" Klaus asked, nudging her ribs lightly with his elbow.
She sighed happily, I don't know what I'd do without you."
"Do you have your mittens?" Nik asked, staring intently at the six-year-old in front of him, "And your fuzzy socks? What about your knit hat?"
Claire nodded, "Of course, Uncle Nik! Mama made sure that I had everything I needed 'cause she said it was cold where we're going."
"Indeed it is, little one," he nodded seriously before glancing at the check-in counter and seeing that Elena was almost finished checking their bags, "I would hate for you to come back with your nose looking like Rudolph's."
"No Rudolph!" She cried vehemently, "I'd rather be Clarice! She's so pretty, Uncle Nik!"
He chuckled, scooping Claire up into a bear hug, "I think you're prettier, sweetheart. I'm going to miss you."
"Then why don't you come with us? I'm sure there's enough room on the plane."
Klaus set her down and crouched next to her with a laugh, "I'm sure that there's more than enough room on the plane, love, but I'll be joining you and your mum a few days after Christmas. Someone has to stay here and make sure Santa doesn't forget about you because you're not home!"
"You're right!" She gasped, holding her hand over her mouth as her eyes widened comically.
Elena wandered over and looked at Claire skeptically, "Are you all right, baby?"
"Uncle Nik has to make sure that Santa delivers my presents!"
She laughed, "Oh, honey. I already called Santa a week ago! I told him that he needed to drop off your presents at nana and papa's house."
"Oh," she said, before she smiled, "Yay! I won't have to wait until I get home to open them!"
Klaus stood and looked at Elena critically, "Is everything set, then? Are you two ready to board?"
Elena nodded, "Yup, everything's taken care of. We should be landing around nine or so. And Jeremy will be picking us up from the airport."
"Good," he nodded, "Be sure to text me when you land. Otherwise, I won't get any sleep tonight."
"Final boarding call for flight 9182 to Richmond, Virginia," a voice said over the speakers.
Elena took Claire's hand and secured her purse before looking at Klaus, "We should get going. We don't want to miss our flight."
Klaus nodded and picked up Claire and wrapped his arm around Elena. Since he had taken them in, these two girls had become his entire world. He would do anything for either of them without a single question. He hugged them tight, kissing Elena's forehead and her daughter's cheek before setting the latter down on her feet, "Don't have too much fun without me, girls. I'll be there in a couple days. I love you, both!"
Elena smiled and Claire waved, "We love you, too, Nik. We'll see you soon."
"Are you sure you don't want to stay with me and Bon?" Jeremy asked as he drove through Mystic Falls with Elena in the passenger seat.
The flight had been short and uneventful, causing Claire to fall asleep. And when they had finally landed, the girl refused to wake up; making Elena carry her through the airport until she found Jeremy who had been gracious enough to carry their bags with she held Claire.
Elena shook her head, "No, it's fine. Mom really wanted me to stay with them for the first few nights. After that, I'll probably stay at the Boarding House because there's so much space. And I'm sure Damon and Stefan would love to see Claire."
"And Andie," Jeremy laughed, "She's been trying to convince Damon to have a baby, but he keeps putting her off."
"Would this have anything to do with the vasectomy he got when he was in college?" She giggled, remembering how he wanted to sleep with anything with a pulse without the risk of reproducing, "Because I'm sure that's a story she'd love to hear about her fiancé."
He smiled, "The only ones who know about that are you, me, and Stefan. I'm pretty sure if Andie knew, she'd break off the engagement."
"Damon should really be honest about that type of thing," she shook her head in mock disapproval, but in all honesty, she could never see Damon as a father. He was more of a cool uncle or a stepfather at most."
"Did you text Nik?" He asked as they pulled into the driveway of their family home.
"Yeah, as soon as the plane hit the ground," she smiled, "Not that he'll get any sleep with us away from him anyway."
Jeremy pursed his lips slightly as he turned off the car and gave her a sideways glance, "What's the deal with you two anyway? I mean, you're always together and-"
"He's like my best friend. Jer," she said softly, a small smile curling on her lips, letting the simple lie slip from her lips, "He took me in when I was pregnant and scared. He helped me raise Claire and never once pushed me for anything. He knows where we stand; he's just protective of his girls is all. Elijah and Finn are the same exact way. The only difference is that they have other women in their life now, but before, I couldn't keep them away even if I wanted to."
Truth was, they had had moments, nights where they sought comfort in each other for everything that had happened. And sometimes she had wished it was more and she knew that he did, too, but her heart still belonged to another.
"I guess," he nodded in understanding, "You two are my girls, too."
Elena laughed, "We're everyone's girls."
He laughed with her, before slinging his arm around her shoulder, "We should probably get inside and get Claire to sleep. Bon and I will be over in the morning. How early do you think she'll get up?"
She shrugged, "Claire's normally up around eight, but tomorrow is Christmas. I would plan for seven just to be sure."
"Seven it is."
Elena had about five seconds warning before her bedroom door flew open and an excited five-year-old landed on her stomach with a heavy thud.
"Mom! Mom! Mama!" Claire squealed, shaking Elena roughly, "Mama! Santa came! Get up! Uncle Jeremy and Aunt Bonnie are already here! Come on!"
She groaned, rolling over and pushing the excited child off of her chest, "Can't mama have five more minutes?"
"Nope!" Her daughter said sternly, "Nana made chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast and everyone's waiting on you!"
"Okay, okay," she huffed, pulling herself into an upright position, "Let me get dressed and I'll be right down, okay, Claire-bear?"
The little girl nodded enthusiastically, "Okay, Mama!"
Elena smiled as her daughter scampered from the room. Getting up, she reached her suitcase and pulled out a pair of jeans and a long sleeved black shirt. Once she was dressed, she surveyed herself in the mirror and simply pursed her lips. For the most part, her makeup was still in place, so she wiped the excess off from around her eyes and pulled her hair into a messy topknot.
Pulling on beige slippers, she made her way downstairs, smiling at the dark skinned girl that waited for her in the kitchen with a mug of coffee.
"I figured you might need this after how late your flight was last night," Bonnie said as she handed Elena the mug, "It's really good to have you back. Jeremy wouldn't shut up about it for weeks."
"Of course not," the brunette giggled and took a deep drink from the mug, "God, I forgot how cold it is back here. You don't think it'll snow, do you?"
Bonnie grimaced and motioned towards the bay window of the kitchen, "Too late. It started snowing earlier this morning. Jeremy made me drive so he wouldn't have to."
Elena smiled, peering into the living room and seeing Jeremy sitting with Claire on his lap as she finished eating while her parents were standing near the fireplace. She sighed; this had been the closest she'd been to them in the past six years. Her home was exactly how she remembered it, her room the exact way she left it when she was only seventeen.
"What're you thinking about?" Bonnie asked softly, a sad smile pulling at her lips.
She shrugged, clutching the mug in her hands a little firmer, "It just feels like I've missed out on so much. I feel like by coming here for the holidays, Claire and I are interrupting everyone else's plans. Like, you and Jeremy normally go visit your parents and-"
"Elena, everyone's glad you're back," the petite girl said, placing her hand on Elena's shoulder, "I haven't seen you since Claire was born and Jeremy only sees you twice a year at most. We know why you had to leave; we're not judging you. But Claire is getting older now, she's bound to have questions if she hasn't already."
"She thinks Nik's her father," she admitted shyly, "I told her he's not, but he's really the only father figure she has. I haven't dated anyone or anything and they share the same last name."
Bonnie nodded solemnly, knowing what a hard place her friend was in, "Are you ever going to tell him about her?"
"I've made it five years without doing so," she shrugged, walking to the coffee maker and refilling her mug, "And I'd like to get through the next thirteen years without it, too, but that's just wishful thinking. I know that it's going to happen sooner or later, but I'm not ready." She took a deep breath and tried to keep away the tears that were prickling behind her eyes, "He was the love of my life, Bon. And I left him."
"You did it because you had to," Bonnie reminded her, her brows creasing, "You didn't have a choice. You decided to keep your little girl and I can bet that there's not a day that goes by that you regret it."
Elena sniffled, "I could never regret Claire. I love her more than anything."
"Exactly," her friend said before taking her hand and leading her towards the living room, "Now let's go open presents."
"Mama, are we gonna see Uncle Damon?" Claire asked as they walked up the driveway for the Boarding House.
Damon had been the only Salvatore to visit New Orleans while Elena had been gone. He had been there for Claire's birth, first word, and her first days of preschool and kindergarten. Call it perfect timing if you will, but he always visited when the 'Salvatore Intuition' kicked in and told him that Claire was going to hit a milestone of some-sort.
"Yep," Elena answered, a small smile forming on her lips at how many times she's knocked on the door in the past, "Uncle Damon and Stefan live here."
"Who's Stefan?" The little girl asked as Elena knocked on the door.
"Stefan is Uncle Damon's brother. He's never come to visit us before because he has a lot of work to do," she answered.
The girls shivered from the cold before the heavy oak door swung open and revealed a raven-haired man with a huge smile on his face.
"Uncle Damon!" Claire squealed, jumping into his arms.
Damon scooped her up and kissed her head, "Merry Christmas, Clarabella!"
Elena watched the two interact. She loved how well they got along and it made her heart sing.
"And we can't forget your beautiful mother," Damon said, pulling her from her trance as he wrapped the arm that wasn't holding Claire around her. He gave her a sweet smile and kissed her forehead as he whispered, "Merry Christmas, kitten."
"Merry Christmas, Damon," she giggled, kissing his cheek as he let her go, "Thank you for inviting us."
"You're family," he shrugged, as he led her inside, Claire still clinging to him tightly, "Besides, maybe Andie will finally be quiet about kids when she's forced to be around Claire," he looked at the girl in question and grinned, "Do you still bite?"
Claire shook her head as she scrunched her nose, "Mama bit me back when I bit a kid at school. I didn't like it."
"Damn," he said, his grin falling slightly as they walked into the parlor. He set Claire down next to the Christmas tree and turned to Elena, "I hope you don't mind, but Barbie and Ken went to her house for Christmas. I don't know when they'll be back."
Elena shook her head, "Don't call them that. I'm sure Stefan doesn't appreciate it."
"Since Stefan is Uncle Damon's brother, does that make him my uncle, too?" Claire asked as she set down a present she had been shaking.
Damon laughed, "No. He can't be your uncle because he doesn't love you even a tiny bit as much as I do."
Elena's reprimand was frozen in her throat as a woman with blonde hair came through the doorway, a huge fake smile on her face, "Oh, Elena! It's so good to see you!"
"Hi, Andie," she said, accepting the woman's hug, "It's great to be back."
The blonde pulled away and squealed when she saw Claire, piling on the theatrics, "She's so cute! How old is she?"
"She's five," Damon answered, picking up the little girl and setting her on his hip and making introductions, "And her name is Claire."
Andie smiled brightly and held out her hand to Claire, "Hi, Claire. I'm Andie."
Claire scrunched up her face, "That's a boy's name."
"Claire!" Her mother gasped in embarrassment before turning to Andie, "I'm sorry. She's still young; she doesn't really have a filter yet."
Andie stiffened slightly before giving a forced smile, "No, it's fine. I'm actually going to see if the food is done. Why don't you let Claire open the presents you got her?"
After Andie had left, Elena turned to Damon and creased her eyebrows at him, "Did you really get engaged to her after two months?"
"I'm not getting any younger," he shrugged, putting Claire down and handing her one of the presents from under the tree, "She came along and I figured it was about time I actually settled down."
Claire happily tore into all the gifts Damon had bought her as Elena watched happily. Damon was such a good role model for Claire, most of the time, anyway. Her presents had consisted of three stuffed animals, a monogrammed necklace, a doll, a parka, and a year's worth of clothes money on a giftcard.
"Damon," Elena sighed, looking at everything he had gotten her, "This is too much. She's only five-"
"And I haven't seen her since I started dating Andie," he cut her off, a smile tugging at his lips, "I normally take her back to school shopping and with how crazy the business was in September, I didn't get a chance to do that. I was running around like a chicken with my head cut off. I was lucky to just make it to her first day of kindergarten."
She sighed, leaning into him on the couch, "You and Nik make sure we're always taken care of, don't you?"
Damon smirked and wrapped his arm around her shoulders, "You bet your ass we do. Speak of the devil, when is Nik flying in? I need my drinking buddy back."
"He'll be coming in on the twenty-seventh, I think. He had a lot of business to finish up," she said, watching Claire play with her doll in front of the fireplace. Andie hadn't made an appearance since she left for the kitchen and it made Elena feel bad. Worrying her bottom lip with her teeth, she turned to face Damon, "Andie isn't angry with Claire, is she? She doesn't understand, she's only five-"
He shook his head, "I doubt it. She's probably just trying to see how she can manipulate this situation so it can work for her. We've been engaged for almost a year now and her biological clock's ticking."
"I take it that you haven't told her about your little snip-snip?" The brunette teased, stifling a giggle.
"Nope," he answered, popping the p, "I probably should though, huh?"
"If you want kids, you should."
Damon shuddered, "Definitely not. I'd rather have her think I'm sterile than go get the damned thing reversed. Kids and I don't mix."
"You and Claire get along just fine," she pointed out with a smile.
"That's because she's yours," he said as if it made all the difference in the world, "We both know that if I would've dated you in high school, I would've never had it done it the first place. The world needs more baby Elenas running around."
Elena rolled her eyes. Damon had never been secretive about his feelings for her, but she felt like they just meshed better as friends. She was the type of person to sit at home and read a book, but he was the type of person to go out every night and have the time of his life. No, he was definitely best friend material and he respected that.
"So, how's your life going, babe? What're you up to in New Orleans?" He asked, lightening the atmosphere a little.
She laughed, "I'm still writing for the paper. I've had a few offers on the book I wrote, but I'm not ready to publish it yet. I want to wait until Claire s a little older." She smiled at that. She had been working on a book since she right after she found out she was pregnant and she had about three publishers trying to get her to print it.
"That's great!" Damon said, a huge smile on his face, "I'm so proud of you!"
"Yeah, yeah," she mumbled, slightly embarrassed, "How are things at work for you and Andie?"
He shrugged, "Everything's good. We have a few new artists on our label and they seem to be doing good. Andie's still doing the press part of it and she's great at it. She can really spin a story when one of them messes up." He sighed and looked at her, his lips pursing slightly, "And since I know you're not going to ask, he's still signed with us. As a matter of fact, his third album went platinum last month."
Elena felt like her throat was constricting. Of course, she always knew that he'd be successful with what he wanted to do. She knew it from the second she heard him sing to her when she was sick in the hospital with pneumonia.
Swallowing down the lump in her throat, she nodded, "That's good. I'm happy for him."
He looked unconvinced, but continued anyway, "He just finished up his tour. I think Andie will be going over there soon to talk about everything and make a press release. Did you…did you think about going over there? I could go with you-"
"I'm not ready," she whispered, looking down at her hands in her lap, "I know he deserves to know about Claire, but the more I think about it, the more angry I get with him for not being there. I know it wasn't his fault and he didn't know, but I can't help it."
"I know, babe," Damon assured her softly, stilling her hands with his own and holding them tightly, "But you're going to be here, for what, two weeks? It's a small town, Elena. You're bound to run into him eventually."
She fidgeted slightly, "Well, that leads to my next question, actually. I was wondering if Claire and I could stay here when Nik gets here. My mom doesn't really like him and-"
"Say no more," he said with a smirk, "My home is your home, it always has been. Besides, Andie's leaving to go see her family so it'll be nice not to be alone for the New Year."
"Thank you, Damon," Elena said, hugging him tightly.
"Anything for you, kitten."
So...terrible? Good? Want to read more?
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