The more people who know, the easier this will be, Stefan had said. Just go along with the act until I can figure out what Katherine is really here for.

She'd been fine with that plan. It seemed like the smartest, safest thing to do, and she trusted Stefan to get to get this resolved.

If she just stayed out of the way, things would go fine.

But what about Katherine being able to enter both of our houses? she'd asked. Because even if they were to meet here, in her room, secretly it would make no difference if they followed the 'plan' or not. Katherine could easily catch on to what was really happening.

I guess we just stay away from each other. Just for now. He'd said this last part quickly, seeing her hurt expression. She'd wanted to argue, and she did for a few minutes, but finally she relented. She knew he was right. It'll all be worth it in the end, she thought.

But as she stands in a corner of The Grill, her back against a pool table, and Damon's lips inches from hers, while Stefan sits and pretends to ignore them, Elena doesn't know exactly what to think.

=..=..=

"One ill-fated barbeque does not mean we're friends, Damon." Elena is sitting in a booth, books surrounding her. She has four tests tomorrow and has no time for any disruptions. Especially from Damon, who has slid into the seat across from her with a basket of fries.

"I know," he pops a fry into his mouth, and he places the fingers of his other hand on the pages of an open text book to flip it around. "A.P History? You might as well throw this book out and just ask me the questions. I was around for all of it." He eats another fry.

She refuses to get sucked into his banter. "If you know, then why are you here?"

He looks up from the book and gives her a look that if verbalized would sound like 'duh.' "Vampire. We're pretty much around for forever. You know, unless you have a crazy mini witch out for your blood."

She ignores the dig at Bonnie. Not only because she doesn't want to get into an argument about it all, but also because some of Damon's statement rings true. Bonnie's been...different lately. Meaner. Harsher. Not the same sweet girl as before. Before she knew about her powers. Before he grandmother died...

"I mean, if you know we're not friends, then why are you sitting here?"

"Oh," another fry and a close lipped smile. "I've decided I'm not going to give up."

"Excuse me?"

"I've decided I'm not going to give up. I have all the time in the world, literally, and you can't hate me forever. And it will be forever. After Stefan turns you," he leans in, whispering the last two words and wiggling his eyebrows like it's something naughty, before leaning back and speaking in a normal tone, "we'll be like one happy family. And I'd hate for family to hate me." He thinks for a moment, and shrugs shoulders. "Well, you, anyway. Could care less what Stefan thinks, feels, etc." Elena rolls her eyes and looks back down at her notes, but she can see through her lashes that Damon's eyes are scanning The Grill. "Speaking of which, where is my little brother?"

Just go along with the act...

Which won't be that difficult actually. Elena already knows that along with Caroline, Damon heard that 'argument' she had with Stefan that night. She won't need to give a big explanation, even though, no doubt, Damon will prod.

"I don't know where he is." She keeps her eyes down on her notes, and mumbles, trying to act as if she just wants it all to go away. It's not such a stretch.

"Trouble in paradise?" She doesn't need to look up to see the smug grin on his face.

"Something like that," she says in a low voice. Damon doesn't say anything, surprisingly, but continues to sit across from her, chewing. He's leaning forward slightly, focused entirely on her bowed head, and her moving pencil, but he doesn't disturb her, and soon she forgets that he's even there.

=..=..=

"I heard about you and Stefan. I'm really sorry Elena, but at least you know now that I was right." Elena tries extremely hard not to slam her locker and storm away from Caroline. She gets it; Katherine is terrifying, but she and Caroline have been friends since they were babies. Elena was the one who fought for her to stay alive, faced Damon after he attempted to kill her little brother just to keep her alive. She and Stefan were the ones who begged Bonnie to make the ring so that Caroline could even walk into school, but at the drop of a hat, she's working against her. And Elena shouldn't be that surprised, really. Caroline has always been a selfish person, and Stefan explained that who you were as a mortal amplifies once you're a vampire, but still, Elena wonders just how much of an effort Caroline put in to stand up for her. She wonders if she even attempted to refuse Katherine's idea, or was so afraid of dying that it didn't even cross her mind.

She doesn't slam her locker, but closes it softly, deliberately, and turns away from it, towards Caroline, and forces a smile on her face. "I know, Caroline. I was delusional to think this could work. You were just trying to help."

Caroline looks relived, and links her arm through Elena's, steering them towards their math class.

=..=..=

"What are you doing in here? And don't wear your shoes in my bed." Elena drops her keys and ipod on her desk, and tries to ignore Damon the best she can with him sprawled on her bed.

He disregards her last statement. "Just thought I'd come pay my friend a visit." She doesn't answer him, but goes into her bathroom to start up the shower.

She hasn't done it in a while, but she's been so stressed out lately that running has become her outlet. She knows Stefan would kill her if he knew that she was out at night by herself, but she thinks, in a spiteful way that she's not used to, that it would show that communicating just through texts isn't going to keep her satisfied. She can't help but consider how much her temperament has changed, recently. She finds herself thinking spiteful thoughts, hateful thoughts. Most of them at Katherine, but still, she's not used to wishing ill on anyone. Her mother had always told her to 'keep a kind mind' and until... everything she was doing pretty well.

"Oh, so the silent treatment is what I'm getting now? That is so eighth grade, Elena."

She flicks her eyes over at him, and thinks, not for the first time, how odd it is to see him playing with a teddy bear. Her teddy bear. But it's not that odd, she supposes. Damon's hands are always moving, touching something, holding, gripping, caressing something...

She clears her throat and ignores him, rifling through her dresser to find a pair of pj pants, a tank top, and underwear. She has a brief flashback to that day he was in her room, with those hands rifling through this very drawer.

She clears her throat again, and finds what she needs.

Elena doesn't slam the bathroom door behind her when she closes it. She takes her time in the shower, carefully washing everything, scrubbing at her long hair. She doesn't rush as she moisturizes and brushes her teeth, hoping that when she leaves the bathroom he won't be there.

When she opens the door, towel in her hand to her head, he isn't.

=..=..=

"How are you feeling?" She and Bonnie are sitting on the patio of the Mystic Cafe. The same outdoor table that she, Bonnie, and Caroline would sit around and gossip either before or after school. Before she knew the truth about Stefan, and her town, and her life.

"I'm fine." She smiles, but Bonnie frowns. "Really, I am. I mean, I couldn't expect to be with him forever right? I'd have to turn..." The crease between Bonnie's eyebrows deepens and Elena knows what she's struggling with; she loves Elena, wants her to be happy. But at the same time she'd prefer that happiness to be with someone living. In this moment, Elena realizes, despite how much Bonnie's changed, that she's still a great friend.

Even though she's bound by her duty to her ancestors to rid the town of vampires, she's helped in keeping the two of the most important people in Elena's life at the time alive. Time and time again she's helped in their plans, and most of the time it's been because it's only because she wants to help Elena. She's glad that Elena isn't with a vampire anymore, but she wants so badly for her to be happy. Bonnie is pulled in so many directions, but still she's always there.

A lump lodges in Elena's throat and she reaches across the table to take Bonnie's hand.

"How are you Bonnie?"

=..=..=

She stares down at the last blank page of her diary. She doesn't have a new one to continue her entry into, and she can't muster up enough energy to go and pick out another. She knows she has to get her feelings out of her somehow, but she knows it's less than wise to write anything down during this time.

Elena stares at the blank lines until they blur.

She closes the diary and sets it aside.

=..=..=

From – Stefan:

How is everything going?

Elena stares at the text message, not really seeing it. She wishes he would at least call her. She hears his voice, in the halls at school, answering questions in class, but never right in her ear, or against her mouth. She misses the feel of his cool lips forming into a smile against her cheek, and his arms around her waist.

She wishes they could just talk on the phone for a few seconds, to hear him tell her that he loves her.

But of course, Katherine is around, Caroline is around. People are watching, talking, and Katherine has ears. She's been invited in, and she's promised Stefan that she will leave Elena alone if Stefan leaves her alone. In all honesty, Elena doesn't put much stock in Katherine's promises.

She just wants to hear him speak to her in that soft voice again...

Her vision blurs and her eyes are prickling, and she's still staring at the message on the screen.

The air stirs and she looks up to see Damon standing in front of her window. Her cheeks flush and she simultaneously wipes the wetness from her face as she presses Delete on her phone. Don't want him seeing, and ruining everything.

"Bad time?" He isn't smiling, but instead looking mildly surprised, as if he didn't expect to actually find her here, least of all find her here crying. For once, he looks like he doesn't know what to do.

"Go away, Damon." Her voice is clogged in her own ears, and she hates it. He doesn't go away of course, but instead he walks slowly over to the bed, and settles down next to her.

She wipes at her cheeks again, and snaps her phone shut. They sit there for a moment in silence, and slowly he raises his hand to rub circles on her lower back. She allows her eyes to slide shut for a second, relaxing into the touch. But then she remembers who this is, who's touching her, and its not Stefan, but the guy who snapped her brother's neck.

She jumps up and the phone lands on the bed spread. She folds her arms across her chest, and forces out through clenched teeth, "Get. Out. I don't want you here. I don't want to see you, or talk to you, and I don't want you touching me. Jeremy may have forgiven you but I haven't, and I won't." The words feel horrible and wonderful at the same time. She wants to hurt Damon. She's hurting right now, and she can't be the only one, and she hates that this is who she's become. Just like Katherine, hurting people because she can.

And she knows she's hurt Damon, because even though he gives one of his gracious smiles, it's stiff and his eyes flicker and go out. She turns her back on him, and goes to the bathroom, this time slamming the door behind her. When she finishes crying thirty minutes later, she goes back into an empty bedroom.

=..=..=

The smell of Matt envelopes her, and Elena buries her face into his neck. God, Matt has always been there for her. And he's here now, holding her as she cries into his skin, wetting his collar. He thinks she's crying over the breakup that doesn't exist, but she's not. She's crying over the fact that her life has gone upside down, and because of it, she might as well have broken up with her boyfriend, with the little amount of time she actually speaks to him. She's crying over the fact that a vampire, who looks exactly like her, can so easily ruin her life and claims designs on aforementioned boyfriend. She's crying because, even though it was weeks ago, she still wakes up in a cold sweat, dreaming about Jeremy falling to the floor lifeless, but there is no ring on his finger, and she has no family left. She cries because Caroline got her life snuffed out because of all this, and is under Katherine's control; that even as a vampire Caroline isstill in trouble.

They sit on Matt's couch with his arm around her, holding her close, tucked into his side, her face hidden in the fabric of his light blue checkered shirt. And she cries.

=..=..=

From- Stefan:

She keeps insisting she's here for me. Besides turning Caroline, she hasn't done anything else, and I don't see what else there is for her to do here.

She stares at his message. She wants to ask if he's going to leave. That if that's all she really is here for, what's the plan, now. She doesn't ask those, but instead writes, What are you going to do?

She waits a long time for his response, and what it reads makes her heart sink and her eyes squeeze shut.

I don't know.

=..=..=

"Have you spoken to him?" She and Jenna are sitting at the kitchen counter while Alaric drains some pasta in the sink.

"Not really, no." And it's true. Where Stefan would text everyday, it has changed to every other day, and now it holds no pattern except scarcity. She looks down at her hands, and wishes that she weren't this girl. The one who is falling apart because her boyfriend broke up with her. And since no one else knows the situation and what it extends into, that's exactly what she looks like. She wishes she could just tell everyone that her doppelganger is in town. That the main reason why Stefan even came back to Mystic Falls, is actually back, and that when you look at it on paper, it would only make sense that he'd fall for her again. For the original. But she can't say it, and honestly, she doesn't even want to think it.

Jenna looks sympathetic and Elena can't take it. She slides off of the chair, and makes her way to the doorway. "Sorry Alaric, not that hungry tonight."

She ignores the feeling of sad gazes on her retreating back.

=..=..=

It takes a week and a half for Damon to remember that he's not giving up. This time when she gets in from her nightly jog, she's startled by the sight of him laying on her bed (with his shoes on, of course.) He notices her slight jump and grins.

"I thought you'd be used to me in your bed by now."

She says nothing.

"I got you a present."

Her eyebrows raise. "What?"

He sits up and reaches down, leaning over the side of the bed she can't see. He straightens up and returns with a huge stuffed teddy bear. It's wearing a red bow tie, and Elena can't help the smile that forms on her lips. "I got tired of the small one."

She walks forward a few steps. "So basically you got a present for yourself?"

"No," he sets the plush toy on the bed, and sits back. "I got a present for you. You didn't even notice Mr. Small Bear was even gone. Thought if I got you one big enough, you'd know what you were missing." She ignores his wiggling eyebrows, and opts to look around her room. He's right. Her small teddy bear is gone, and now that she thinks about it, she can't remember the last time she's seen it.

"Where is he?"

Damon shrugs. "I took him home. He needed a change of environment."

Elena lets out a full laugh, now. "You stole my teddy bear? Are you trying to win super villain of the year?"

Damon just shrugs again, but his smile is a satisfied one. Elena just shakes her head, and makes her way to the bathroom. After putting the water on, she returns to the bedroom. She sighs. "Why are you really here Damon?"

She goes over to her dresser to get out some clean clothes. "I told you." She looks up and stares at him in the mirror. His light eyes meet her dark ones. "I'm not giving up. You can't hate me forever."

For a brief second, Elena wonders why she would even consider hating him for forever, but then the picture of Jeremy lifeless on the floor flashes before her eyes, along with that lost look Damon had given her seconds before he did what he did, and her chest burns. She looks away from his reflection, and gathers up her clothes. "Just get out, Damon."

She closes the bathroom door behind her, and takes her time. When she comes out, it's to an empty room again, but there are two new things on her bed. The huge teddy bear of course, but also a flat rectangular box.

Elena throws her towel to the side and sits gingerly on her bed.

The box is plain black, and there is a silver bow tied down one side. She fingers the silk fabric, and imagines Damon's long elegant fingers doing the same, perfecting the proportions. She slides the fabric off, and opens up the lid. Inside is a dark blue, almost teal, velvet covered book. There is a gold lock on the side that opens and on the front cover the wordElena is written in elaborate golden script.

She slides her fingers over the soft cover and lifts the book out of the box. She opens the front cover and finds heavy, creamy, expensive paper pages of a lovely off white color.

She eyes the book in wonder, and doesn't notice the heavy key, an expensive looking fountain pen, and a small note on the bottom of the box right away. The heavy gold key is attached to a golden wrought necklace, and she holds both in her hand as she pick up the note and opens it.

The writing is as elegant as her name on the front of the diary, but this is penned by hand.

Elena,

I was blatantly violating your privacy the other day, when I discovered you've run out of pages.

She figures she should be annoyed at him, for going through her stuff, but really she can't even be that surprised, or that angry. Instead she swallows the knot in her throat, and ignores her watery eyes as she reaches up to fasten the necklace around her throat. The key lies cool and heavy on her water warmed skin, but it soon heats up to match her body temperature.

She carefully folds the note back up, places it in the box, and reaches over to place the box in her bedside table. Then she pulls the covers back, slips underneath, and opens up the diary. As she sits there, writing everything that's been buzzing around in her mind for so long, surrounded by the smell of ink and paper, and warmed by the heavy stuffed toy at her side, Elena hasn't felt so good in so long.

=..=..=

This is different from how it went in the beginning. When this first started, Stefan wouldn't speak directly to her, but he would send secret little looks and smiles her way. They were sharing this secret, and even if he couldn't walk up to her and kiss her, or rub his fingertips across her skin, they were still together.

Now he avoids her eyes. He won't look her way, and walks right past her. His expression is always one of confusion and guilt, and it hurts Elena so badly; she wants to help, but he won't even let her in. He doesn't text anymore. Doesn't ask how she's doing, or if she's alright. Apparently, it's enough to see her alive at school. Thats all he really needs to know isn't it? That she's still alive? If that even matters to him anymore. But Elena won't think like that. He would never want her hurt, or dead, or anything like that. That's why they're are doing this in the first place. That is why they decided to put this plan into action. That's why he's staying away.

So why doesn't it feel that way, anymore?

=..=..=

Damon is around a lot more. If he doesn't meet her in the Grill, he's there when she gets home, waiting on her bed. She doesn't talk to him any more than usual, but she doesn't kick him out. She lets him ramble on about things she feigns no interest in, and makes sure he's out before she goes to sleep. Sometimes she gets a crazy, burning desire to ask about Katherine. If she's been hanging around the boarding house lately, just how much time is she spending with Stefan? How much time is Stefan spending with her? How do they spend that time? It wouldn't be so off for her to ask. It would seem like an ex-girlfriend inquiring about an ex-boyfriend. Totally normal. But she can never get up the courage to ask. Every time she opens her mouth to speak, she realizes with a hard hit to the chest, that she doesn't want to know the answer.

=..=..=

"You seem a little better." Jeremy has finished brushing his teeth, and Elena is washing her face.

She shrugs. "I guess. I mean, I have to get over it sometime, right?" It still aches to say it, but she'd realized a few days ago that she and Stefan were actually broken up. That even if it didn't start out that way, that's how it ended, the way it is now. When she'd realized this she'd cried harder than she ever had during this whole thing, but this time she let Damon rub circles on her back.

Jeremy folds his arms across his chest as he watches her pat her face dry. "I just thought you two would be the together forever type of couple."

Her heart jumps unpleasantly. "Yeah, me too." She grabs her moisturizer and rubs it into the skin of her hands, face and throat. "Doesn't matter now. Where have you been lately?"

Jeremy shrugs this time. "You know, just out."

"Just out?" She gives him a disbelieving look. "Really? Well every time I've seen you lately, you're with Tyler. What's that about?" Elena thinks she imagines the blush that creeps over Jeremy's face as he says something incoherent, and slides out of the bathroom.

=..=..=

"You can't buy my affections, Damon."

"It's just dinner."He holds her chair out for her, and she slides into it easily. He'd insisted on going out of town for dinner that night, claiming that the Grill food was making him 'fat.'

They are in a small restaurant that has an intimate setting; dark blues and faux-tarnished silver tableware, and the kind of lighting that makes everything glow in an eerie, beautiful way. The outside of the building is plain brick with a simple sign that reads Aldea. Elena had been pleasantly surprised at the interior, and was glad that she'd dressed up. Nothing much, just a black skirt, with a dark silver top, covered by a lose short sleeved cardigan. And with Damon in all black as usual, they look the perfect couple.

Elena doesn't bother thinking about why that assumption doesn't upset her.

She's never had Mediterranean before, but she finally makes her choice and the menus are taken away, and suddenly she feels awkward. She's never felt awkward with Damon before, never had a reason to. Does that mean I have a reason now?

"Why so quiet?" Damon's expression is watchful, and somewhat careful.

She shrugs. Might as well tell the truth. "I was just wondering why I feel awkward around you all of a sudden."

He smirks and leans forward slightly. His eyes look like diamonds in the new play of light on his face. "Maybe you've just realized how good looking I really am."

Elena laughs. "No, I noticed that a while ago." Her smile fades gradually, and she really looks at him. He meets her gaze steadily. "I think I'm just realizing something else."

He doesn't say anything, but continues to stare into her eyes. He only looks away when the waiter comes with their meals. They don't say much over dinner, but there isn't that much that needs to be said.

=..=..=

Stefan's eyes narrow when he watches her get into Damon's car on the days that she hasn't driven. She's surprised to realize that she doesn't really care. She likes being in his car. It reminds her of the road trip to Georgia, the two days her and Damon really figured out they could trust each other. She's thinking of this now, as they lay in bed, her head on his shoulder, and Mr. Big Bear (his name choice) under her arm, and the moon streaming through the window.

"Remember when we went to Georgia?"

He lets out a 'mhm' of agreement.

"Did you give me some of your blood? Is that why I could drink so much and not really feel it?"

He shifts a little and she feels his fingers smoothing up and down her bare arm, and she shifts closer before she can stop herself. "Would it matter if I did?"

She shrugs. "Not really. I was just wondering. I'm usually a light weight."

He laughs a little and she can feel it vibrate through her body. "Not what you were saying that night."

"Yeah, well, I exaggerate a bit when I'm drinking. Gimme a break." She smiles at the ceiling, and after a while closes her eyes, letting the caress of his fingertips lull her to sleep. Before she completely falls, she hears him say in a low voice, "I couldn't let you stay hurt."

She doesn't kick him out that night.

=..=..=

"Your aunt is worried."

Alaric sits on the edge of the desk, letting one foot hang against the side.

"What about?"

Elena stands in front of him, a book clutched to her chest, and playing stupid.

He sees right through her act, and sighs. "You know about what. Damon, Elena? I understand that you're upset about Stefan but-"

"It has nothing to do with him," she interrupts him, and she thinks that this is mostly true. Sure, it was easier to let Damon in after she and Stefan collapsed, but on further inspection, it's something that she thinks she has been wanting to do for a while. There were times when she was with Stefan and she'd pretend to be so mad at Damon for saying or doing something inappropriate, when really she was so upset with herself for forgetting for a moment who they were. Like that time he'd pretended to be drunk, so that she'd fix his shirt. If Stefan hadn't walked in when he did, well... She's not saying she would have kissed Damon, but the urge would have continued to build until it was too hard to brush away.

Alaric doesn't seem convinced, but he doesn't refute her. Instead he looks at her with those caring eyes and says, "I'm worried too, Elena."

She smiles a small smile at him. "I'll be fine."

=..=..=

Damon is agitated when she seems him next, but no matter how many times she asks, he won't tell her whats wrong. But if she thought he was protective before, it's nothing compared to how he is now. Before he would smirk at Stefan when they'd run into him outside school, or in the Grill, and Elena would pretend not to notice, but now Damon downright glares, and although Stefan tries to be defensive about it, his face shows his guilt and worry.

Elena's stomach ties in little knots as she wonders what could have possibly happened for this shift in mood to occur.

She ignores her stomach though. It doesn't matter anymore.

Funny. She thought that if she and Stefan had to end, it would be a blow up affair. Not yelling, but this big dramatic goodbye. Not this ill executed plan and a fade into nothingness.

=..=..=

"It's good to have you back."

She, Matt, Tyler, and surprisingly Jeremy, are all sitting at a booth in the Grill. Elena doesn't even bother to ask Tyler how he's got the bottle of beer he's drinking.

She smiles. "Thanks, Tyler. But I didn't think you would actually notice."

"Of course I would." He doesn't elaborate, just takes another pull off his drink.

Elena rests her head against Matt's shoulder and tunes out of his and Tyler's football laden conversation. Instead, she watches her little brother, noticing a few things. Things she should have noticed a long while ago, like how tall he's gotten and how much he looks like their mom, to things that she's just now realizing, like how he's cut his hair so it's not too long, and how even though he tries, he can't stop from watching Tyler a little too much.

=..=..=

She shifts in bed. Her eyes squint at the clock. Two oh eight. She wonders for a split second as to what woke her up, but she shifts and turns on her other side, and she feels him next to her. He wasn't here when she fell asleep, but he's here now, laying on top of the covers, hands behind his head.

Without thinking, Elena moves closer and smoothes her hand across his chest, and up and over to touch the soft skin of his neck. She breathes in deeply and sighs in content when he lowers and arm to hug her to him. She blinks a few times down at the length of his body, and huffs slightly. "Take your shoes off, Damon" she manages to mumble before she slips back into sleep.

=..=..=

Caroline looks like she's won the lottery. "I am so happy for you!" Elena stares at her, uncomprehending. "For you and Damon. I think it's so sweet." Elena looks back at her locker, even though she's gotten all that she'll need from it.

"I thought you didn't think I could make it work with a vampire. That I was wasting my time."

Caroline's expression flickers to unsure for a second, so quickly Elena could think she imagined it. The other girl grins quickly to cover up her slip. "Well, it's different with Damon. I could actually see you guys being together forever. I always thought you were with the wrong brother anyway."

Elena doesn't know how much of this is truth, and how much of this is a lie.

She doesn't give an answer either way.

=..=..=

Bonnie looks upset.

"Really, Elena? Damon?" Elena doesn't answer, just looks down at the ornate metal weaving on the table of the Mystic Cafe. It's getting to be too cold to sit outside. "Elena." She looks up to see Bonnie's hurt and slightly angry eyes. "I thought you were just trying to get back at Stefan, but now I'm not so sure. Why him? After everything he's done?"

Elena can't answer, and soon Bonnie just sighs, and sits back in her seat, eyes on the traffic in the street.

=..=..=

Jeremy looks indifferent and shrugs. "Not any of my business, is it?" But there is a simmering anger underneath the surface of his voice. But Elena knows him well enough to know that it's the kind of anger that won't erupt into anything to powerful. She actually thinks that most of that anger isn't even directed towards her.

"How's Tyler?" she asks, testing.

He doesn't meet her eyes when he shrugs again, and says in a falsely nonchalant voice, "how should I know what he's doing?" That isn't the answer to the question she posed, but it answers everything she wanted to know.

Elena twists bites her bottom lip. She wants to push some more, but now isn't the time. Instead she just sits on the end of his bed, and tugs at his sock, like she used to do when they were babies, and he was still in his crib.

=..=..=

Matt looks dubious, but doesn't really say anything.

There isn't any reason that he's aware of as to why he shouldn't like Damon, but he does know that he's not to fond of the guy.

"His brother, Elena?"

Elena can see his point. "As silly as it sounds, I forget that they're brothers most of the time."

Matt looks at the table, and sighs as he looks back up at her. "If you think that that's what's best." He doesn't sound condescending, just wary and concerned. Like Matt. She smiles at him.

=..=..=

It'll all be worth it in the end, she thought.

But as she stands in a corner of The Grill, her back against a pool table, and Damon's lips inches from hers, while Stefan sits and pretends to ignore them, Elena doesn't know exactly what to think.

But when Damon moves a little closer, places his hand on her hip gently, while the other cups her cheek and lowers his head so that their mouths finally touch, Elena stops thinking about anything at all.