Take a chance on me

Disclaimer: The characters and other things from The Vampire Diaries don't belong to me. Credit goes to the rightful owners.

"This is kidnapping Damon!" Elena screamed, "Stop the car!"

"Nope." Damon said, popping his lips together before smiling mischievously

"Let me out! Stop the car!" she yelled again, checking around for her phone, that maybe by some miracle it was on her.

"Yeah, not gonna happen Elena. I will return your phone to you and all other personal effects after this little excursion. All this," Damon said gesturing to both of them "is getting old and it's time we finish this once and for all."

"..out." Elena said, her voice low, "now."

"Or what, Elena? You don't even know where you are, no phone, no money and might I add, no Stefan for miles. He doesn't even know you're gone thanks to my little diversion." Damon said without even glancing at his irate companion

"What did you do?" Elena asked, eyes flashing with anger

"Relax," he responded with a wave of his hand, "No one will get hurt…permanently….I hope."

"What did you do Damon?" she repeated louder, fuming at the man next to her

"Elena, relax. I just let out a dog," he said mumbling the last part out as Elena raised an eyebrow at him," Fine, a dog that was the closest I could find to a werewolf. Let me tell you, not easy to do. I just let it roam around, get some fresh air and stretch its legs a bit. He's just running around, having fun. Harmless fun, I might add. Granted, Stefan might not agree once he finds out that I let him chase after it but hey, so he frowns at me. Big deal. Nothing new there."

"You're incorrigible!" Elena yelled, "Why would you do something like that? What if he lets his guard down next time because he's going to think it's just one of your games?"

"Again, Elena, relax, this isn't the boy who cried wolf. Or some twisted version of it," Damon said trying to put his hand over hers, which she promptly swatted away, crossing her arms in front of her, "Look, I'm sorry I lied to Stefan, and I'm sorry I kidnapped you while you were sleeping—nice pajamas by the way, BUT we're still going through with this. I promise to abide by our road trip rules."

Elena huffed and looked stubbornly out the window as she pretended not to listen to him. Damon sighed and counted off, "Oh Damon, what are those?" he said mimicking Elena, "You mean the rules from before that we sort of agreed on? Well, let's see, one I'll keep you safe. Two, I won't compel you and three, you can trust me—even if everything in you says otherwise."

"Let me out." Elena repeated

"No." Damon said shaking his head, "Look, Elena, just give me this one day. If after this you choose to cut me out of your life, fine, I'll accept it. I won't bother you again. I'll even stop trying to save you. Just give me this."

"I don't owe you anything. No. Stop the car," Elena said stubbornly.

"Open the glove compartment," Damon said calmly

"No." Elena said

"My, my, is that your favorite word? After breaking out with 'incorrigible,' I thought we've progressed to more sophisticated language. Anyway, just open it." Damon said rolling his eyes

She hesitantly reached out and pressed the latch to open it. Inside it was a wooden stake and a vervain dart.

"What the…?" Elena said trailing off, puzzled, unable to connect the dots

"Pick one or both. I don't care. If this is what it takes for you to believe I'm serious that you can trust me, even just for 24 hours, then take it. I won't stop you from using it on me." Damon said with uncharacteristic resignation in his voice

Elena glared at him but shut the compartment without taking anything. "Where are you taking me?"

"You'll see," he said with a satisfied smile on his face, "for now just sit back and enjoy the scenery. There's a rest stop along the way so you can change. Your things are in the trunk and there's breakfast in the bag on the backseat."

Still glaring at Damon, Elena reached around and took the food, taking a peek inside and sniffing the contents.

"Seriously? You think that I went through all of this just to poison your breakfast? I could have done that in Mystic Falls and make appear like an accident." Damon said rolling his eyes

"No, it would be easier this way because you can just get rid of my body by the side of the road or dump me in a ditch." Elena responded after taking a bite

"Nah, I'd take the effort to bury you. I'm not sloppy." Damon responded, "And I really don't think this is easier considering the state of my eardrums after all your yelling. "

"Am I supposed to feel grateful that you'd take the time out to dig out a hole for me?" Elena said sarcastically

"Yes, Elena, because digging is dirty work and I'm wearing a white shirt today." Damon responded, "Look, while I'm grateful that you are no longer on silent or screaming mode, this conversation is not really amusing. I will not, I repeat, I will not allow any harm to come to you today. I will bring you home in one piece, safe, whole and hopefully happy."

"I doubt that," Elena muttered, "if you want me to trust you, give me my phone."

"Uh, no can do Elena. Stefan will be on us like white on rice. Can't let that happen until after we get to do what we have to do. After, let's see. You might need him to come."

"What is it that you intend to do?" Elena asked, her voice tinged with mild curiosity.

"Very simple thing actually," Damon answered with a smile, "I just need you to take a leap of faith with me."

"I should have known you meant 'leap of faith' literally," Elena exclaimed a few hours later, as she looked at the contraption in front of her, "You did all this so you could take me bungee jumping? Are you insane?"

"Maybe." Damon said with a shrug as he stood in front of her

"You want me, to jump off a bridge and plunge into the water. Me? A person who was in a car accident that involved those two things? I almost died, Damon. My parents actually did. The trauma was enough the first time around, Damon, thanks but no thanks." Elena said as she started to walk away angrily

"Don't you think I know that? Don't think for one second that I don't see you, that even if Stefan managed to save your life that day, there was still something that died in you." Damon said with his hands firmly planted on her shoulders

"You're supposed to apologize, grovel and beg that I forget you killed Jeremy in front of me. Not this. I never asked for you to save me," Elena said tears forming in the corner of her eyes

"No, that part comes later," Damon said releasing her, straightening up, "I will do all that but I won't be asking you to forget. Even I can tell what's impossible and what's not. But this, I'm not trying to save you, at least not yet. I just need you to find every missing piece of yourself before things hit the fan with this whole Katherine thing. It will and you won't stand a chance if you've got blind spots she can exploit. Stefan is too blind to your seeming perfection and it will cost all of us, you most of all because your life will be on the line for as long as that bitch exists."

He caught a tear with one finger, wiped it away and stepped back, giving her space. "You're not perfect Elena. I can see that. Scarred and hurt in so many ways, I don't think you even recognize yourself anymore. And I'm sorry that I did the one thing that meant you never would. But I'm going to try anyway, to give you even a few seconds to clear your mind and just strip away everything, until the only thing that's left is even a few seconds to clear your mind and just strip away everything, until the only thing that's left is you."

Elena closed her eyes and took a deep breath, placing a hand in Damon's outstretched one. "Fine, but if anything happens to me, I'll hate you forever."

Damon's lips instantly twitched into a smirk, "Don't you already?"

Elena rolled her eyes and turned away as she was strapped in. "Hey," she said placing a hand on the attendant as he secured the cord around Damon as well, "wait. What are you doing?"

"He's making sure we don't plummet to an early death Elena," Damon said

"No, I mean why are you being tied to me?" Elena asked

"Oh, yeah that. I figured you might as well even out the damage in my ears by letting you scream in my left ear this time." Damon said pointing to the left side of his head, "Did you really thing I was going to let you do this alone?"

"I thought you were going to shove me off the damn bridge Damon," Elena said glaring at him

"Never," he said taking her arms and putting it around him, before reaching out and locking his arms around her waist, "Ready?"

"Nope." Elena said honestly, looking into his eyes, tightening her hold on him

"I know, but we're going to jump anyway," he said, "Clear your head. Don't think. One, two, three."

Elena closed her eyes and everything just fell away as they plunged head first, everything inside her freezing before tumbling all together. The sensation of falling taking over, making her feel cold and disoriented, as she screamed her lungs out. The rush was overwhelming her senses, making her feel like she was going to black out as she spun out of control.

And then she opened her eyes and it was over. She was still alive and she felt it. Every fiber of her being screamed, finally awake from a slumber she wasn't even aware of. Everything locked in place again and all she could see was Damon staring into her eyes, half-worried but half-amused as he searched into her. Elena just looked at him as the rope continued to fluctuate, moving them up and down until their fingers could graze the water. As he watched her, Elena could see everything in his eyes, even the repentance she didn't want to acknowledge.

"Elena, I'm going to release us and we'll fall into the water but I got you okay? I'm not letting you go." Damon said reassuringly, waiting for her to nod before he did it

With a splash, Elena felt herself sink and for a second she flailed about, reliving the sensation of almost drowning. Panic seized her for a few seconds before Damon's strong hand pulled her up and her face broke through the surface.

"See, not so bad right?" Damon said laughing.

"Very bad Damon, very, very, very bad." Elena said shivering as she swam away from him.

"Elena…" Damon called out to her, disappointment laced in his tone.

She grabbed a towel from the staff waiting for them, thanking her quickly before stalking away to sit on a boulder just by the edge of the water.

Damon followed and sat down next to her, "How badly did I screw this up?"

Elena sighed as she turned her body away from Damon, "Too risky Damon. You brought the nightmare to life Damon—that it could happen again. In so many different ways, the danger is real and you just had to come out and make me see that."

"Because I want you to survive Elena, and the only way that's going to happen is if your eyes are wide open."

"You didn't screw up Damon. Not on this. But setting me on the path to overcoming my fears, helping me realize I can survive it again and again, doesn't really change things. I can still feel the horror of watching you kill my brother. Damon, do you really think there's a way to get past that?"

Damon bowed his head, "That's my cue for phase 2."

He pulled out something from beside the rock, a small plastic bag, and handed it to her. "Open it."

Elena pulled out her phone and a wooden stake, before looking quizzically at Damon.

"Call him, and ask him to pick you up." Damon said gesturing towards the phone

"And this?" Elena said lifting the stake

"…is what you'll use to kill me." Damon said looking straight at her, "That's why you need an alternative ride home."

"I'm not a murderer Damon." Elena said, "Don't make me one. Look, don't bully me into forgiving you by saying you'll die otherwise."

"No, Elena I'm saying I don't have the right to ask for it anymore. I can only say I'm sorry and that's it. I've lost you forever remember?" Damon said with a bitter smile on his face

"I'm not going to kill you." Elena said throwing the stake at him

"Why not? I'm a monster Elena, you'll do the world a bit of good and Bonnie will be so proud of you for finishing me off." Damon said trying to hand back the weapon

"Because I can't. Okay? Just drop it and drive me home." Elena said standing up

Damon rose to face her, "Why not Elena? I'm dangerous. I can't promise you I won't lose control like that ever again. I can only keep trying but I'll never be good. Not in the way you want me to be to stay in your world."

Elena looked at him, struggling with what to say as Damon looked defeated in front of her, "Bring me home. You promised. Please Damon."

"Okay, I've never been suicidal but now seems like a good time to start." Damon said flipping the stake and positioning it over his heart

Elena ran to him and put her hand over his, "Stop it. Is this the clear head you've been bragging about getting after jumping? Damon, why do you want me to watch you die? Have you gone completely insane and cruel?"

"Maybe. But normally to deal with that I shut off my emotions but haven't been able to do lately. So, like I said. This ends today."

"Do you really want me to see this or do you just want me to stop you? Because you could have done this alone, when I wouldn't suspect it and yet here we are," Elena said not letting go of her grip on his hand

"Neither, I just wanted to be selfish one last time and die in your arms," Damon said with heartbreaking honesty, his voice caught as he swallowed the lump on his throat

"Well that's not going to be today." Elena said tugging his hand away, taking the stake from him, "or any other day. I refuse to let you die on me."

"Why?" Damon asked quietly

"I don't know," Elena said, clenching her jaw tightly, "I don't have answers Damon. I just know that no matter how much I hate you right now, the world won't make sense to me if you're dead."

Damon took a step closer and faced her squarely, "I'll ask you again, have I lost you forever?"

Elena closed her eyes and took a deep breath, "Just take me home and promise me that you won't try to kill yourself again."

"Answer the question, Elena."

"Promise me, Damon."

"Answer."

"Promise."

Damon sighed, "Fine, I promise. Answer?"

"I can't forgive you just yet." Elena said softly

"You didn't answer the question." Damon pointed out

"I know."

"Elena."

"Damon, just stay alive."

"Still not an answer." Damon said shaking his head, standing his ground

"Well, it's the only one I can give you right now because after scaring me like that, it's the only thing I can think of."

"So let me just get this straight, I'm supposed to stay alive but out of your way?" Damon said

"Yes." Elena replied

"How will you know I'm still alive if you refuse to see me?" Damon said raising his eyebrows

"Stefan will tell me." Elena replied

"Assuming I stick around Mystic Falls to carry out your orders, "he countered, "I can always go to another country and be psychotic and/or suicidal there."

"Don't force an answer out of me Damon. Twisting around logic won't accomplish anything." Elena said

"Or what?" Damon said

"Is it not enough that I need you alive?" Elena exploded, "Can't you let this go? I don't have an answer for you Damon."

Damon stared at her for awhile before nodding, "You do. But you're not ready to say it. I can wait. Apparently life doesn't end for me today so I can wait. Let's get you home."

"I'll sleep on the way back so don't bother bringing this up again," Elena said

"You'll pretend to sleep but okay I won't bother asking. Not today." Damon replied

"Promise me." Elena said

"So many promises you're asking me to make Elena. Do you want the moon and the stars too?"

"Damon…" she said with a warning in her tone

"I promise, I promise." Damon said with his hands up in the air, "Anything else?"

"Yes, don't stop trying." Elena said, her voice thick with emotion

"What?" Damon asked confused

"Don't stop trying to make up for what you did. Just don't stop trying. Please." Elena said, before turning around to walk alone to the car, hugging herself as she did, as if it would be enough to keep her life from falling apart.


A/N: Tempted to leave this as a one-shot but there seems to be something more here. In any case, I hope you enjoyed this :) Thanks for reading!