Elena gasped when she turned around, coming face to face with a very pissed off Damon. He was the last person she wanted here. The blazing look in his eyes made her take a step away from him as she glared at Rose. "You called him?" she asked. She would have preferred anyone to Damon. He looked ready to rip her limb from limb.
"You should be more worried about me and not her," Damon growled, advancing on her. "What are you doing here Elena?"
Elena had never seen Damon mad at her but he honestly scared her right now. "I don't want you here," she said firmly hoping her voice didn't waver. She couldn't let Damon stand in her way from saving her family. She didn't want any more blood on her hands. "This isn't up to you."
Damon chuckled as Rose took the very annoying Alice from the room. "What makes you think you have a choice in the matter Elena?" he asked. "I am so much stronger than you. Be so easy to knock you out and stuff you in the car. So either come on your own or I will throw you over my shoulder and carry you out."
"Why are you doing this?" she whispered. "Why can't we do this my way?" She couldn't understand why no one could see this from her point of view. Damon would do anything for her, why couldn't she do anything for him and everyone else? This was the only way to make sure no one else that she loved got hurt.
"Because you're going to get yourself killed," he snarled. "Why shouldn't I protect you from that Elena?" It had been a long time since she had a fight with Damon, a real fight. They had never hashed anything out like this. One of them usually apologized and they moved on from it. The tension on the room this time was so thick she could barely breathe. He had never been this upset with her.
"Everyone is gunna die, Damon!" she flared, her eyes stinging with tears. "How am I supposed to live with that?" God he was so stubborn. She didn't know why she put up with him half the time.
Damon's jaw clenched. "You haven't even given us a chance to find another way," he said. "What do you think the rest of us have been doing while you're going on a suicide mission? Baking cookies?"
Her tears spilled over her cheeks, leaving hot tracks. "I don't want anyone else to die," she whimpered. "Damon I can't lose anyone else."
His face softened slightly as his hands rubbed her upper arms. "I know sweetheart," he said softly. "But at least give me a chance to find another way. If I have to keep chasing you down to keep you from doing something stupid, how am I going to concentrate on breaking the curse on the moonstone?"
She understood where he was coming from. She didn't expect him or anyone else do anything but try to help her. But she had to help them in return. She had to save their lives before things got worse. Elena's forehead dropped to his shoulder as she shuddered. "What would I do without you?"
Damon's arms closed over her tightly. "You're not gunna find out."
That warmed her heart a little bit but brought up a whole new set of feelings she had been warring with for several weeks. "You've been so distant," she said softly. "Like you're mad at me or something. I barely see you or talk to you." Even after their fight, he was always around, trying to make up for what happened. But now… ever since he and Stefan had rescued her, he had been different. Since Rose had come into his life. She couldn't blame Damon for hooking up with her, but it didn't make her any less upset. She had no reason to be jealous, but it was too late.
"I'm not mad," was his only response as he rubbed her back.
"Then what?" she asked, lifting her face from his shirt. What could possibly be causing their friendship to be crumbling apart if not the new woman in his life? Maybe he had genuine feelings for Rose. He deserved to be happy. "Have I done something… other than this?" Was it her fault that things between them were taking a downward spiral?
"It's just better this way," he said, taking a step away from her. "Better for us not to be close."
Elena felt like someone had kicked her in the stomach. "What… no Damon," she said shaking her head. That didn't make any sense to her. They had always been close. She couldn't imagine them not being friends anymore. She didn't realize how much she had come to rely on Damon's presence in her life and now that he was pushing her away, it was killing her.
There was a loud commotion and several vampires burst through the door. Damon immediately moved in front of her as Rose joined them. Elena pushed around Damon but he brutally grabbed her arm, twisting it painfully. He was definitely mad at her. "Don't you dare take another step," he seethed. Elena's eyes widened as Elijah appeared behind the vampire and in a matter of seconds, Rose had taken off, the vampires were dead, and Elijah had disappeared as quickly as he came. "We're leaving," Damon said, tugging her toward the door.
"You're a jerk," she said, grabbing her coat by the door. Elijah was alive. She knew she saw him in the window. She didn't know how vampires survived a coat rack through the chest, but she couldn't worry about that now. She had to worry about Damon ripping her head off if she took one wrong move.
"And you're bitch," he snapped leading her out of the apartment. "So now what?"
She stared at him with wide eyes. He had never called her anything mean before. "What is wrong with you?" she whispered. Something was wrong. She felt it. This wasn't just him being upset with her for going off on her own. He was upset about something else.
Damon rubbed his face. "Just get in the car Elena," he said his eyes darting around for danger, his grip still firm on her arm.
She yanked her arm from him and she almost smacked him. "You're just gunna… be mean to me now?" she asked. She was just… trash to him now?
Damon spun to face her so fast that she crashed into her. "All this time I'm spending arguing with you, Stefan needs me in Mystic Falls," he growled. "You're precious boyfriend is probably dying right now because you had to do something stupid and take off. So instead of helping him get the goddamn moonstone, I'm sitting here arguing with a brat. So tell me Elena… how should I act towards you?"
"What?" she whimpered as she tried to process his words.
"Get in the car," he repeated and this time she didn't argue. The drive home was tense and Elena's mind was racing. Something was wrong with Stefan and Damon was worried. Stefan needed his brother but Damon was coming to rescue her and she was being an ungrateful bitch. She probably had pushed Damon too far this time. When they got to her house, Jeremy met them at the door, a gaping wound on his neck. "What the hell happened to you?" Damon demanded as he gently tilted the teen's head to the side. "God Jeremy. What did you do now?"
"Got the moonstone," Jeremy said. "It'll heal."
Elena stared at her brother in horror. "You went in there?" she whispered. "Katherine…" That meant that Katherine fed. She was strong again. She was going to kill her for hurting her brother.
"It had to be me," Jeremy said. "Bonnie wasn't strong enough to take the spell down to let Damon and Stefan in."
Damon's brows creased. "Katherine wouldn't just let you go like that," he said. "Not unless you let her out. And Bonnie is strong enough if she has help which is why I needed to be there."
Jeremy sighed. "Stefan got me out," he said, his eyes diverted to the floor.
Damon growled. "Jeremy I swear to god," he said. Something horrible happened. Stefan would be here with Jeremy if everything had gone okay.
"Damon," Elena said, tugging on his arm. "You're scaring me." Wherever Damon's mind was headed, she didn't like it. All she could think about was the snapping of her brother's neck again ringing in her ears. In her heart she knew Damon would never lose control like again. Maybe on her after what she had done today but not on the people she loved. He had seen the damage it had done to her.
"He's stuck in the tomb with Katherine," Jeremy said.
"What?" she asked, her gaze snapping to her brother.
Damon was already heading back to his car, Elena running after him. He drove like a maniac and the car was barely in park before Elena was spilling out of it. He caught up to her easily before she plowed through the entrance to the tomb. "You are not going in there."
"Damon, let go of me!" she screamed. How could he not want to help Stefan? All this screaming about how much Stefan needed him and now he was turning his back. The nerve!
"Have you lost your mind?" Damon growled grabbing her upper arms. "Katherine's been feeding off of Jeremy all day. She's dangerous now, Elena."
"I don't care!" Images of Stefan and Katherine flashed through her head. She couldn't leave Stefan in there. They needed to get him out.
"Clearly you don't care about anyone but yourself," he said, shoving her into a wall. "But I'm not letting you in there."
"He's your brother," she whispered, her eyes traveling up to his, willing him to understand.
"Everything I've been fucking doing the last few weeks has been for my goddamn brother Elena." Damon growled dangerously low at her. "You think I want my brother to watch the woman he loves die because she's being stubborn? You know how much he would hate me if I let something happen to you?"
Her body sagged in defeat as his words sank in. Katherine could kill her without thinking, especially now that she had fed. Damon really was trying to keep her safe. "We have to get him out," she pleaded.
"And I will," Damon said softly, his grip lightening on her. "But I need you to trust me Elena." There was a little bit of the Damon she knew. The kinder, gentler side to Damon that she so badly needed right now.
"You called me a bitch," she mumbled.
"And you called me a jerk and here we are," Damon said releasing her and backing away. She could already feel him slipping away from her again. Everything she said was wrong. Why couldn't she fix this? Very slowly, she was feeling more alone. Stefan was locked in the tomb and Damon hated her. She was losing them both.
"You slept with Rose," she said softly as she stared at the dirt. "You deserve it."
"I'm not getting into this with you," he said, folding his arms.
"'Course not," she said, running from the tomb, tears blurring her vision.
Damon pinched the bridge of his nose wishing he had a drink. "What did you do Stefan?" he asked seeing his brother at the entrance. "What am I supposed to do now?" Just something else he had to add to his plate. He needed Stefan to help with the Originals and now he was locked underground with the bitch from hell.
"Just keep Elena safe," Stefan said. "I couldn't let Katherine keep hurting Jeremy."
"I swear to god Stefan I'm going to handcuff her and lock her in the basement," Damon said. "We'll have to find another witch to do this." Already he was wracking his brain trying to think of anyone that could help them. He'd have to pull some strings and find a powerful witch.
"Bonnie can't handle it," Stefan agreed. "She tried and she almost had it but it was too much for Jeremy."
"You need blood?" Damon asked.
"I'll be fine," Stefan said. "Just take care of Elena."
Damon nodded once and headed out to the car where Elena was curled up in the front seat, her head resting against the window. Her eyes were puffy and they never glanced in his direction which was fine with him. He said nothing to her as he drove her home and headed inside. He hated to see her cry but his mind needed to be focused and one look from her with a wobbly lip, he'd be a goner.
"You don't have to come in," she said softly. She couldn't handle anymore comments from him. She just wanted to fall into bed and cry herself to sleep as the rest of her life fell apart.
"Not here for you," he said moving to the kitchen. He tore into his wrist and let some blood trickle into a glass.
"What are you doing?" she asked with creased brows. It bothered her more than she liked that he didn't want to be here for her. He used to love when he got to come over and Stefan was busy. They used to spend so much time together and now they may as well have been strangers. Damon just stared at her before moving around her and going upstairs. He gently tapped on Jeremy's door, offering him the glass when the door opened.
"What's this for?"
"You're neck," Damon said. "I should break it myself for what you did today."
Elena slapped his arm. "Don't even joke about that." There was no real threat in Damon's words but she just wanted to remind him.
Jeremy downed the little bit of blood. "Thanks Damon," he said softly.
"Don't do anything like that again," Damon said. "I know you want to help, but until we know what we're dealing with, don't put yourself in any extra danger." He turned on his heel and headed to the stairs.
"Damon," Elena said gently grabbing his arm. "Can we talk, please?"
"About what?" he asked tiredly.
Elena gently tugged him to her room and closed the door behind her. "I don't want us to be fighting," she said.
"We're not," he said folding his arms.
"What do you call it then?" she asked.
"What do you want from me Elena?" he asked. "This is what you wanted isn't it? Me out of your life so you could be happy with Stefan."
She had said that, many weeks ago, and she had meant it. However, she had forgiven since then and made the effort to repair their friendship and until recently, she thought things were fine. "But I thought we were okay," she said, her voice cracking slightly. "I thought we were friends. Now you're mean… like I don't mean anything to you anymore." Her brain quickly ran through anything she may have said or done before today that would push him away but as far as she knew, they were the same Damon and Elena. Clearly, she was very, very wrong.
Damon sighed. "It's just… easier for me to deal with this if we aren't close."
Tears welled in her eyes. "It hard to be close to me?" She didn't like that explanation but it was better than a cold shoulder. This she could work with. At least he was talking to her, not snarling at her in anger. It still broke her heart that she was still causing him so much pain. She never wanted to hurt Damon.
"Very," he admitted.
"But you're always around," she said softly. Even when she hated him, he still made an effort to always be around, to look after her. Even though she was so angry at him, she still noticed what he had been trying to do to fix what happened. She never told anyone about how she felt after Damon had tried to kill her brother. Everyone just assumed that she hated him. But they were very wrong. She was heartbroken. Damon was one of the most important people in her life and so easily he had destroyed everything between them.
"Because you keep putting yourself in danger," he said raising an eyebrow. "I have to keep saving your life. Do you realize what goes through my head, or Stefan's head when we hear that you've been kidnapped or that you're missing? Or today when Rose told me you're planning on turning yourself over to Klaus? Do you know how hard it was for me to not tell Stefan what you were up to?"
"Why do you bother?" she asked. What the hell did he rescue her for then? "If it hurts so bad to close to me?" She knew the risks that came with her actions today, but she knew that everyone would be safe. They would grieve for her, but they would be safe.
Damon closed the distance between them and cradled her cheeks. "Elena it hurts to be close to you because I love you," he whispered. "And I love you with everything in me. So it hurts to be near you and not have you."
Tears spilled over her cheeks at his admission. "Oh Damon," she said, her hands resting on his sides. He was so careful to guard his feelings for her, to not make it harder between her and Stefan. But now… to hear him openly admit how deeply he cared for her, made her heart squeeze.
"So it's easier to turn everything off and push you away," he said sadly. "And share my time with someone else. Makes me forget."
Now she was really at a loss for words. "How can I fix it?" she whispered. "What can I do?"
Damon's hands dropped from her. "Nothing," he said. "It is what it is." He pressed a kiss to her forehead. "Goodnight Elena." And he was gone.
"You should go after him," Jeremy said from the bathroom door.
"And say what?" she whispered, wiping her cheeks. Damon had never said the words out loud to her. She knew he had feelings for her, but the depth of those feelings had never been clear, 'til just now. And it was suffocating her, knowing that his heart was breaking trying to spare her. She couldn't do it. She couldn't let him keep hurting like he was.
"That you love him," Jeremy said obviously.
"I love Stefan," she said automatically.
"You sure?" he asked. "Because I've seen the way you and Damon have been acting around each other. You're scared about everything that's going but maybe opening yourself up to Damon would make you guys stronger."
"I'm not sure that I love Damon," she whispered.
"How can you be sure that you love Stefan then?" he asked. "Look at yourself Elena. You can't stand to see anyone in pain. You try to please everyone except this time, you're hurting yourself. Just don't be so quick to shut Damon out."
Jeremy went back to his room and Elena chewed on her lip. Loving Damon meant taking a risk, but he had taken one with her. She looked exactly like Katherine, the woman who had destroyed him. She had been involved with his brother, she had loved Stefan. Damon knew that. And still that didn't matter to him. He still loved her… enough to stay away from her and not confuse her. But by pushing her away, he had made her realize how deeply she cared for him and couldn't stand to not have him around. She needed Damon and he needed her. She changed her clothes and pulled her hair back into a smooth pony tail. She sprayed light perfume on her chest before heading downstairs.
"Sneaking out to see Stefan?"
Elena turned to see her aunt. "I'm going to see Damon," she admitted. "Stefan and I aren't together anymore." What would be the point in lying? Jenna was going to find out sooner or later, especially if she and Damon got involved. She wouldn't be hiding him.
"Elena you're old enough to make your own decisions," Jenna said. "And I know that Damon loves you."
"I know," she said softly. "And he deserves the truth from me." She smiled at her aunt before heading to the boarding house. Hopefully Damon wasn't wasted yet. This wasn't a chat she wanted to have while he was drunk. But she wouldn't blame him if he had. That's how he dealt with pain. He tried to numb it out with alcohol. She let herself into the Salvatore house, pausing when she heard voices.
"Thought you were going to forget about her?" Rose asked.
"I tried," Damon said. "It's just… keeping my distance from her seems to be making things worse. I can't keep her safe like this. She thinks she has no one, which is not an incentive to stay alive."
"You love her," Rose said simply. "Nothing wrong with that."
"Um…?" Elena asked hesitantly. "Can I… Am I interrupting?" She felt like the third wheel and was interrupting some… secret thing between them. Which she knew was absolutely silly. Damon had already explained the Rose thing to her.
Damon stared at her and Rose excused herself, disappearing into the night. "What are you doing here?" he asked, folding his arms. She noticed how worn down he looked, how exhausted. He usually had that spark in his eye, some smart ass comment. But he just looked tired and defeated and she didn't like that at all.
Elena closed the distance between them and pulled his lips down to hers. Her arms snaked around his neck and she pressed her body up against his. "I love you," she whispered.
Damon tense in her arms. "Elena…"
Elena held his face between her hands and their eyes locked. "Listen to me. I love you Damon." She needed him to believe her. She didn't just throw the words around to anyone but saying them to Damon… made the vice like grip on her heart lessen. She really had been carrying around a lot of weight with her emotions all locked up. Jeremy was right. She needed to open up to Damon and be honest with him. They would be stronger.
Damon stared into her sparkling eyes. "I love you too," he said softly.
"I'm sorry I've been so horrible," she said, stroking his cheek. "I just wasn't sure and I got scared." Scared that she was going to die, scared that he had moved on, scared about what everyone else thought. But she couldn't spend the rest of her life being scared. It nearly cost her everyone important to her.
"I'm scared too," he admitted, his arms tight around her waist. "I've never had anyone like you and that… terrifies me." He had to change his life for her, to make her happy. He had turned his back on all his instincts to be a cold blooded killer. He was a better man.
"Think we can figure it out together?" she asked shyly.
He smiled and lowered his lips to hers. "I'd love to."
Her hands tangled in his hair and her lips devoured his hungrily. She found herself pleasantly pinned into the couch, his body covering hers. "Damon?"
"Hm?" he asked from his position on her neck.
Her eyes fluttered from the sensation of his lips. "Um…" she was having a lot of trouble focusing. She didn't think they should be having sex on the couch this soon. She needed to take baby steps with him. It was going to be new for both of them and too much too fast would overwhelm her.
"I'm just kissing you," he said, lifting his head with amusement. She loved that he was a mind reader. He always knew what she was thinking and what she needed without her having to voice it.
She smiled shyly. "Thanks for helping Jeremy." Damon and Jeremy had seemed to come to some kind of understanding that warmed her heart. She had worried that forgiving Damon would ruin her relationship with her brother but that wasn't the case.
"You're welcome," he said softly. "He's a good kid, just looking out for you."
"I know," she whispered. "This is gunna get worse." She knew it was. Vampires were still going to come after her and they had to be prepared for the worst. But Damon would be able to protect her better now. She knew they were going to be glued to each other after this.
"But not tonight," he said. "So let's not worry about it."
"Jenna knows where I am," she said, softly running a finger over the muscle of his arm. "Think I could stay with you?" How could she have lived without this for so long? Even with the first vampires in the world after her, she felt safe. Damon would take care of her. That's all he ever wanted to do and for so long she had pushed him away foolishly. A lot of people were going to be upset but if they cared about her, they would get over it. Jenna and Jeremy understood and that was enough for her. She didn't want to hurt Stefan… but she didn't like hurting anyone.
He kissed her gently. "I'd be happy to have you over."