It had been a few hours since Elena had fallen asleep along side of him when Damon carefully extracted himself from her warm arms. That was the last thing he wanted to do, leave the warmth of her body, but he had things to do. He dressed silently, heading downstairs where he was blindsided as Stefan landed a solid punch to his jaw, splitting his lip clean open. "Impressive," he said, his tongue healing the wound instantly. It had been some time since he felt that kind of strength in his brother.
"How could you sleep with her?" Stefan flared. "You know how I feel about her and you just couldn't leave it alone."
"I gave her plenty of opportunities to change her mind," Damon said, folding his arms. "This isn't your business Stefan. If I make her happy, you should support her if you care about her at all." A month ago, Damon would have said he was trying to make Stefan miserable by stealing his girl, but that just wasn't the case. He had every right to dislike Stefan, but he was never going to use her as bait for messing with his brother. He wanted them to be real, but he knew it was never going to work. Not like this.
"Damon?" a small voice mumbled from the doorway. Elena was wearing her tank top and his pajama pants as she made her way into the living room.
"Sorry if we woke you," Damon said, softly, but he made no move to get closer to her. God she was beautiful with her hair slightly messed up, and in his clothes. However, the look in her eyes broke him to pieces.
Elena folded her own arms as she stared from one brother to the other. "Is it really always going to be like this?" she asked, softly. "The two of you always trying to kill each other?"
"How could you sleep with him Elena?" Stefan demanded. "It's only been one day."
Elena bit her lip but she didn't back down. "I tried to tell you yesterday that things were bad."
"So you slept with Damon?"
"Elena," Damon said, taking a step toward her. "You don't have to explain yourself." He couldn't stand to see his brother tear into her like she was a piece of property. He could see the doubt and confusion start to cloud Elena's face and he knew in that moment he had lost her. He knew that his heart was going to be ripped apart because of the love of one woman.
"Yes she does," Stefan argued.
Elena backed away from both of them, her heart constricting in her chest. "I have to go," she said, putting her shoes on.
"Do you want me to drive you?" Damon asked.
"No," Elena said, shaking her head. "I just want to be alone."
Damon's face fell for a moment as she watched her leave the boarding house and his heart started to crack. He should have ran after her, and begged her not to leave him, but he just stood frozen.
Elena stared at the various people that came to John's funeral. Once she had fled the boarding house she had gone home, now that the police were done crawling around, and she had locked herself in her room before she cried for over an hour. She missed Damon so much and he was all she thought about now that she was away from him. She tried to ignore the leap in her heart when she saw Damon approach her through the crowd. "Hi," she said, softly.
"Hey," he said. "How are you holding up?"
She shrugged. "I'm fine I think," she said. "Hated his guts. So I'm just here because I have to be." She was already more relaxed with him around she knew she had to fix what was happening to them. On impulse she moved her arms around his waist, burying her face in his chest. "Thanks for coming." She knew if Stefan came, that they would be fighting and it would be tense. But Damon calmed her down and was just here for her.
Damon hugged her tightly, pressing a kiss to her hair. "Can we go outside and talk for a minute?" he asked.
"Sure," she answered, gripping his hand as he led her outside. She shivered from the cold breeze and he easily draped his jacket around her shoulders. "Thanks." It was so easy to be with him, so easy to melt into him and forget about the world. Stefan hadn't bothered to check on her at the funeral, to see if she was okay, only Damon did.
Damon sighed. "Elena, you know how I feel about you," he said, softly. "And last night was amazing, but you're right."
"Damon," she said, softly.
"Please let me finish," he begged. "I want to be with you, god help me I do. There will always be that constant battle with Stefan. You'll always be miserable and I don't want that for you. I don't want you to have to make a choice."
"Damon, I never wanted to hurt you," she whispered, her eyes sparkling with unshed tears. Damon was leaving her, so she wouldn't have to choose between him and Stefan and it was breaking her heart into a million pieces.
"I know," he said, smiling a little, as he thumbs stroked her cheeks. "I'll be fine." He pressed a kiss to her temple. "Call me if you need anything." And he left her on the porch as she watched him walk away into the night.
She clutched his jacket tight around her before heading back inside, numbness washing over her.
Elena tiredly made her way upstairs of her dark house, her head pounding and her heart broken. It had been a brutal fight to get through the night, knowing that Damon had just broken up with her. She couldn't wait to get home, and she was surprised to see Stefan waiting for her on her bed.
"I don't want to fight," he said, as soon as she came in.
"What do you want then?" she asked, sliding her aching feet out of her sandals. She was looking forward to putting on her pajamas and crawling into bed, not having some kind of discussion with Stefan. She had hoped Damon would be here, and she long to text him and check on him.
"I saw Damon at the house as he was helping Jeremy," he said. "He said that he was going to leave you alone so we could be happy. It'll be easier for us to work things out if Damon isn't in the picture messing everything up."
Elena pursed her lips and glared at Stefan. "Damon hasn't messed up anything," she said. "I care about him. A lot. And Damon sacrificed his feelings and his heart so that it wouldn't be hard for me. And in order for me and you to work things out, I have to push Damon out of my life and I'm just not going to do that." She tugged jeans up her legs under her dress, deciding that she was not going to be going to bed. "I can't be with you and pretend that I have feelings for Damon." She moved into her closet to change out of her dress away from Stefan's gaze and she put sneakers on.
"So this is it?" Stefan asked.
"I'm sorry Stefan, I really am," she said. "But yes." She grabbed her phone and keys, leaving Stefan in her bedroom as she drove toward the boarding house. Her heart was racing incredibly fast as she finally pulled into the driveway and she couldn't wait to see Damon. It took her a minute to compose herself before heading inside. She heard voices from downstairs, and she made her way to the basement, pausing on the stairs.
"I want to hate her, I really do," Jeremy said. "But I know she was only trying to protect me."
"Your sister loves you," Damon said quietly. "She still didn't know how to deal with the whole vampire thing. She's still learning just like you are."
"I still felt it," Jeremy said. "That something was missing. Wrong."
"I know how you feel," he said. "The woman that turned me, I loved her with everything I had for over a century. Even thought I didn't choose to be a vampire, I dealt with it. And now she's dead and there is a big hole missing."
"But you love Elena now," Jeremy pointed out.
"God help me," Damon said with a sigh. "I tried not to. Knew it would cause people nothing but heart ache. I tried to keep her away, but she was persistent. But it's over now. I want her to be happy and Stefan will never allow that if she's with me."
Jeremy chuckled. "You made a choice for Elena?" he asked. "Good luck with that."
Elena smiled to herself as she came down the rest of the stairs, her hands curling around the bars. "Can I interrupt?"
Both sets of eyes landed on her and Damon pushed himself from the wall. "Elena," he said, softly. "You shouldn't be here."
"I know," she said, nodding. "I needed to talk to you." She had debated with herself the whole trip over here on whether she interrupt him from Jeremy. But she couldn't wait to work this out. She needed it out now.
Damon glanced at Jeremy before exiting the cell, locking it firmly behind him.
Elena stared at her brother for a long moment. "Jer…" What could she say? That she was sorry? Jeremy was going to be happier as a vampire, because he wouldn't hurt anymore, and he had Damon to teach him.
"I'm fine," he said, pushing his hair back. "It just takes time."
"I love you," she said, dropping her hands from the bar. For a moment she thought he wouldn't say anything but he said two words that lifted her up farther than she had been in a while.
The knot in her stomach slowly started to release as she followed Damon upstairs. She knew it was coming, and she felt sick, but the tug in her heart was stronger and helped her not flee from the house like it was on fire.
"What are you doing here?" he asked tiredly.
She decided not to dilly dally and she just put everything out on the table. "I know you're trying to protect me Damon from all the bad stuff that's going to happen if I stay with you," she said. "But I can't do that Damon. I can't be away from you and ignore my feelings. And when you walked away from me, I felt like the floor had been ripped out from under me. I know you thought you were doing what was best for me, but I need you, Damon. Only you."
"Elena," he said, rubbing his face. "I told you I wanted to be with you, I just didn't want it to always be a fight."
"Stefan will leave me alone if he knows what's good for him," she said, grabbing his hands. "I care about you so much Damon. More than I ever thought I could and I want to be here with you no matter it takes. Just… just think about it and then you can come find me when you're ready." She kissed his cheek before moving toward the front door.
"Elena," Damon said, following her. "I don't need to think about it." Gently he grabbed her hands again. "Are you sure this is what you want?"
"Of course," she said. "I'm all yours Damon. Mind, body, and soul." She pulled his arms around her waist and moved hers around his neck. "No games." She kissed him softly. "I should go. I know you need time with Jeremy."
"I'll be over later," he said, his arms tightening around her. "Promise."
"I can't wait," she said, kissing the side of his neck.
Damon lifted her gaze to meet his. "I love you," he said, his fingers stroking her jaw lightly.
"I know," she said a smiling forming on her lips. "I love you too."