Elena's jaw clenched and her eyes pooled with angry tears as Stefan's betrayal continued to consume her thoughts. Her fingernails bit into her palm as Damon's words ran through her head for what seemed like the millionth time.

I thought Stefan told you.

That sentence might as well fave been a stab to her heart, for all the pain it was causing her. Damon's hand gave hers a slight squeeze and she was reminded of his presence.

"He...he knew? And he didn't tell me?"

The corners of Damon's lips turned up and his eyes danced, partly because he hoped to lighten the mood and lift Elena's spirits, and partly because this was just too good.

"Oops. Was I not supposed to divulge that information?"

Her reaction didn't meet his expectations. She didn't turn her head towards him and spit out an insult that would have them quickly engaging in an argument, something that would fuel her anger further and make him her central target. No, the only sign she gave that she heard him was the deeper slump in her shoulders that allowed her hair to serve as a curtain, shielding her face from view.

Damon frowned, blindly cupping her cheek and pulling her face towards him. Her lower lip trembled and her eyes glistened. Something akin to hatred settled in his stomach when he saw how the news undeniably broke her, and his fangs begged for release, aching to rip his little brother's throat out.

"I need to see Stefan."

His eyes searched hers when she broke the silence, and his jaw clenched when he saw the misery and hurt swimming in the chocolate depths. Even through her sadness, he found some amusement in the situation by knowing that she'd undoubtedly blow up at Stefan, and that was a show he wouldn't dare miss. He nodded, absentmindedly brushing his thumb over her chin before he stood up with a grunt, extending his hand out to help her up.

"I'll take you."

Her brow lowered, and she looked up at him through her eyelashes as she pushed herself off the ground, and he retreated his hand easily, chalking up her rejection to anger. "Maybe you haven't noticed, but I have a car. I am perfectly capable of getting myself somewhere on my own." She turned around and started heading towards the driver's side of her car, only to come face-to-chest with Damon. "Would you stop doing that?"

He ignored her and grabbed her arm firmly. "I'm taking you." She was about to argue, but he continued before she could. "We both know what happened when you were on the road after getting mad at Stefan." His tone left no room for argument, and Elena scowled at him, tugging her arm out of his hold as he lead the way to his Camaro on the other side of the parking lot while her heart sped up at his never-ending chivalry.

She opened the passenger door and got in, a strange wave of déjà vu washing over her as their trip to Atlanta replayed in her mind. It seemed like forever ago, with all the events that have occurred since then, and Elena couldn't help but reminisce about how she almost got the feeling that she could trust Damon.

Aforementioned vampire placed the key in the ignition and put the clutch in drive, turning the dial on his radio from a station that was blasting Lady GaGa in favor of AeroSmith with a grimace. "Music has taken a serious downgrade this century," he mused, and Elena rolled her eyes, resorting to tapping her fingers on the leather of his seats in rhythm to the music. The corners of his lips quirked and he drummed his fingers on the steering wheel as they passed the long stretch of road, not daring to try and start up a conversation when she was like this - can you blame him? He wasn't in the mood to get yelled at.

A ghost of a smile danced on Elena's lips as she thought that it's certainly been quite the journey for her.

That time the previous year, she was just Elena Gilbert, an intelligent, well-liked girl in school with a mundane life and a sweet boyfriend in the form of Matt Donovan - what she considered huge vastly constitued of the guy Caroline had slept with or how far she'd let Matt push the boundaries of their intimate relationship.

She was average.

Now, well now, she was Elena Gilbert, an intelligent, well-liked girl in school who lived a dangerous life and had her heart torn between two vampire brothers - she willingly placed herself in life-threatening situations on a daily basis in order to protect aforementioned brothers and the ones she loved from the cruel world of the supernatural.

Her life was anything but average.

I thought Stefan told you.

Her teeth grinded together and she cursed her train of thought for not being able to stray away from that sentence for long. She bunched up her hand into a fist and turned to gaze at the rushing scenery past the glass of the window as her dilemma splayed out in her mind, an unwelcome throb encircling her head as she debated.

It was true, she'd already assured Stefan that she chose him - that it was never any competition. Given, she said that when she was still blinded, unable to see through the blurry haze of Damon's secrecy, and believed that the younger Salvatore would never do that to her, but now...

Isn't her decision moot?

Damon had said the only reason he didn't inform Elena about killing her supposed birth-mother was because he thought she already knew, and she couldn't help but wonder if he would've come clean, had Stefan never been aware of the entire ordeal. Elena peeked at him out of the corner of her eye, and she knew he wouldn't have.

But that's Damon.

He was egotistical, self-centered, and narcissistic and he would never do something unless it benefited him as well.

Elena almost wanted to laugh, because, despite all that, she'd still managed to fall head over heels in love with the murderous jerk beside her. It would be funny, if it was anyone else's life, but it wasn't. It was hers, and her lips stayed in a grim line.

Her eyes flitted across the windshield and her throat thickened with a mixture of rage and dread when she could make out the Salvatore boarding house through the wide berth the clearing ahead of them provided. Damon silently watched as her chest rose and fell unevenly as her heart rate sped up. He placed the clutch in park and leaned back against his seats, not failing to notice that Elena's gaze remained intently on the house; he wouldn't be surprised if she burned holes through his windshield.

"Honk."

Damon blinked, surprised at hearing her voice for the first time after twenty minutes of unbearable silence. "Pardon?"

She glared at him, her hand moving quickly to wrap around the handle of the door. "Honk the fucking horn, Damon." She stalked towards the front door, aware that his eyes were on her retreating form, and internally thanked him when she heard the blaring sound of the horn.

Rage pulsed through her veins and made the blood in the pit of her stomach boil. I thought Stefan told you. Those words reverberated through her head like a mantra and she smiled with a twisted sense of satisfaction when Stefan opened the door, surprise etched across his features. She stepped forward and raised her hand, striking him across the cheek with an easy flick of her wrist.

Back in the car, Damon flinched, because ouch.

Stefan's eyebrows furrowed and he looked up slowly, confusion swimming in the jade depths of his eyes, and Elena forced herself to continue, because slapping Stefan, right then right there, had to have been one of the hardest things she'd ever done, and she despised the fact that it wasn't going to stop there.

"You knew."

His eyes traveled to the Camaro in the background quickly before he looked back to her, grabbing her arm, only to frown when she squirmed out of his hold. He jutted his chin in the direction of the house, and Elena begrudgingly followed him. "What did Damon tell you?"

She breathed a humorless chuckle as she closed the door behind her, because of course. "The truth. Which is more than I can say for you."

His face fell. "I...can't even begin to form words that would justify how sorry I am."

She briefly closed her eyes, trying to find the strength within herself to continue. "Then it's a good thing I don't want to hear how sorry you are. I want answers, Stefan." His jaw tensed and her eyes sparkled with unshed tears. "Why didn't you tell me? Why did I have to hear it from Alaric before I heard it from you?" His eyes trained themselves on the floor and she shook her head at his silence, moving to turn the doorknob. "You know what? Save your breath."

His hand was beside her head, holding the door shut, in an instant, and she inhaled deeply at his sudden closeness. "Elena, please," he whispered, and her breath caught in her throat, because she felt his breath hit her skin and she wanted nothing more than to give in, but she held her ground, refusing to give him the upper hand when she knew she was right. "I can explain."

"I don't want to hear it," she told him, exhaling sharply when her voice broke with each word, and the tears spilled down her cheeks when she felt his palm come to rest lightly on her shoulder. "Whatever your reasons were, I don't care. The fact that you didn't tell me as soon as you found out still remains." She moved towards the foyer, crossing her arms above her chest as she stared him down petulantly, although it was much less snarkier than she'd intended, considering the fact that her cheeks were flushed and tears continued to pool in her eyes.

His eyebrows lowered and he blinked, trying to process what just happened and the fact that it was real, not just some nightmare. He knew that he'd abide by whatever rule she made, and she held the fate of their relationship in her hands. Stefan was only there for as long as she wanted him, but that didn't mean he'd give up without effort, and jealousy settled in his stomach as he wondered whether or not she'd go to Damon.

"Where does this leave us?"

She embraced herself and shook her head absentmindedly. "I don't know."

"But you said you chose me," he offered.

She gives him a pointed look. "A decision that's null and void, thanks to your secrecy."

He stepped forward and Elena stiffened, looking down immediately because the near proximity of their bodies made it so much harder for her to focus on the bigger picture. "What can I do?"

"I don't think there's anything you can do," she admitted sadly. Her face contorted into a mixture of grief and frustration and she wound her arms around his neck without a warning. He heard her sniffle, then, "I can't be with someone who doesn't understand that trust is the most important thing to me."

He shut his eyes, slowly wounding his arms around her back, inhaling her scent, memorizing the lines of her frame one last time. He kissed her hair, frowning when he felt her tears on his back through his shirt. "Whatever you want," he assured her, and she stifled a groan.

She could not believe she was doing this. He was Stefan, the guy of any girl's fantasy. Prince Charming paled in comparison to the guy with his arms around her, and she remembered counting her blessings so many times for finding a guy that was perfect in every sense of the word.

She pulled away and grabbed his face between her hands, slowly tipping it downwards until her lips met his, butterflies flying about in her stomach just like they always did. She let her mouth linger on his for a moment before breaking the kiss with a resignated sigh, wounding her arms around his neck once more, leaning her forehead to rest against his.

"I love you. You have no idea how much."

His eyes searched hers, only to find that she was being sincere, and he didn't really know what to make of it. He gave her a slight nod as he held her closer, resting his chin on the top of her head, ignoring the way his eyes pricked with the threat of tears, because her admission made him realize that it was really, and truly over.

"I love you too."

She reached behind her neck and carefully unclasped the chain of the vervain necklace he'd given her so long ago. He was about to protest, but she shook her head slightly, and she placed the necklace in his open palm, closing it with her own hand. She ran her thumb gently across his lower lip before disentangling herself from his embrace, and she smiled at him as tears continued to fall from her eyes.

"Goodbye, Stefan."

She lowered her head and forced her legs to keep pushing her towards the door when she wanted nothing more than to turn back and run into his arms, but she knew there was no going back once she opened the door.

She crossed the treshold quickly before she could change her mind, and clutched at her stomach, bending over until the wave of nausea subsided. As Elena made her way to Damon's car, the waterworks endlessly streaming, she almost felt guilty to think that she almost felt...relieved. As if the weight that had been lifted off her shoulders traveled to rest on her heart, and she breathed a chuckle.

She sat herself in the car, and held up a hand to signify that she didn't want to talk about it when Damon's eyes roved over her face in adamant concern. "Just take me home." He did that eyebrow-furrowing thing that he's so good at before giving an almost inaudible sigh and backing out of the clearing.

When they were halfway there, rushing past the forest at sixty miles an hour, and Elena's tears had dried - even though the pain wrapping like tendrils around her heart had become stronger than ever - , Damon decided to break the silence.

"And here I thought slaps were our thing."

She hid her face so she wouldn't see her attempt to smother a smile.


The Vampire Diaries, The Return: Nightfall

"And then Elena smiled, and he had to smile back,
at first just a quirk of the lip, and then a full smile.
She was...damn-it, she was
everything.
Witty, enchanting, brave, smart, and beautiful.
And he knew that his eyes were saying all that and she wasn't turning away."


Reviews are the Damon to my Elena. Yes, I love them that much.

A/N: First things first, the quote above is my favorite DE quote from the books ever. I'm so sorry I've stalled this update. My muse for this story has been seriously lacking, and I deeply apologize to all who've awaited. Anyways, thank you guys so much for meeting the review target! It means so much, and I won't make you do that again, but I do ask that you please review. It just makes me so happy to get on the computer and see my inbox completely flooded. But sigh, moving on...I hope to update this pretty soon. Keyword: hope. I am in a rut when it comes to this story. Suggestions for future plotlines would be lovely, and I'll be sure to credit :) BTW, it was so hard for me to write SE, so I don't know if it came out right, but oh well. Chappie name is based off the song by Blue October.