DISCLAIMER: I do not own or profit (or even want to profit, for that matter) TVD or any of the characters therein.

A/N: Yeah, I don't know what the heck I'm doing here. This has been driving me crazy, so I'm writing away and I'm just going to have to start posting it. Spoilers up through 2x11, and this is my version of what could (but almost certainly won't) happen after the endless holiday break that is making me crazy. My inspiration was a line from Rose in a promo for 2x12.

There will be a lot of Stefan and Elena initially as I am working from canon. But I'm a sucker for that crazy blue-eyed vampire, so this will end up D/E without question. I'm guessing 5, 6, maybe even 7 chapters? Who knows. Heck, I may pull this down tomorrow once I'm in my right mind and realize I'm probably the only person alive still OBSESSING about TVD this close to the holidays. ;-) Oh, and this is a little dark and miserable. So if anyone actually enjoys it, please, please let me know. I'm convinced it's trash, but feel compelled (HA!) to post it anyway. Review, I beg you. Nicely though.

Story-wide warnings for character death (not main), language, eventual blood/blood-play (light), adult situations (not too graphic, probably), and copious amounts of angst (naturally)

"It's okay to love them both," Rose tells me.

I want to tell her how wrong she is. I want to tell her I love Stefan, always Stefan. My mouth is open, forming those exact words, but my voice refuses to come.

In the end I am saved by the devil himself. He arrives carrying a heavy quilt he wrestled up from a guest room. Rose is cold. So cold. She shivers over and over, gripping my hands with icy fingers that clawed at my throat not twenty-four hours ago.

That part's all over now. Now we're just waiting.

Waiting for her to die.

"Do you know I had to check four rooms for this," Damon says as he fluffs out the quilt expertly. It falls over the bed and he tucks it around her body with little karate chops around her silhouette. "The bed it was on smelled like my old Aunt Violet, like peppermints and senility."

Damon gives a mock shudder, his shoulder brushing against my hip as he tucks in the covers closest to me. I nearly leap out of my seat, backing out of his way.

Whether Rose laughs at me or at Damon's griping, I can't tell. Either way, it's a sad, wheezing ordeal. One that reminds us she's not long for this world.

"You owe me big," he says, ignoring her looming death in a way I cannot.

"I'm sure," she rattles back, voice small and weak.

"I'm talking filthy, depraved repayment," he says, waggling his brows. "Stuff you'll write Cosmo about."

I really don't need to be here for this. I don't even understand why she asked for me to come to begin with. I head for the door, but Rose's voice calls out.

"Will you stay, Elena?" she asks, shooting Damon a look of warning. "I feel better with you here. And I swear he'll behave."

"Alright, Betty Buzzkill. I'll keep it PG-13," Damon says, still not looking at me.

Dammit.

I don't want to stay. I don't want to be the sweet, dutiful girl today. I want to run out of this mansion and back to my warm bed. I want to hide under the covers until Stefan comes back from his research trip. And I want to make love to him for hours, until I can push all this other stuff out and pretend that I'm just a girl and that he's just a boy and that Damon doesn't even exist.

I want a lot of things, but I stay.

I'm a good girl. Always have been, really.

I pretend to look over the pocket change on the dresser while Damon strokes her forehead with the back of his fingers. He speaks in a voice too tender for his mouth.

"You're still holding up, right?"

"No, I'm not," she says, shaking her head. Smiling in a strange way. "Please, Damon. It's time. You promised you would do this when it was time."

He releases a shaking breath and I see it now. The stake in his hand. She sniffs back tears and I freeze, horror spreading through me like a spray of ice.

"There's still time," I say, unable to stop myself.

"You can't stop this," she says. "Neither of you. I have hours. Maybe less than that."

"Oh, don't turn into a sissy now," Damon says, that familiar swagger back in his tone.

"Damon, stop," I say, my eyes welling as I look at her. She is beyond pale. Her face is bleached. Her veins show starkly beneath her eyes, but her fangs are not descending. Because her body isn't trying to feed.

It's trying to die.

"Stop what?" he scoffs. "Any minute now my saintly little brother is going to trot through that door with a cure. That's what Stefan does. He saves the day."

"Not this day," Rose says and I see that breaking through his indifference. The mask cracks, something raw and painful peeking out from behind the ragged edges.

He jerks off of the bed, going stiff and straight. She twists her fingers into his sleeves and pulls him back down, palming his face in her skeletal hands.

"Damon, please."

"Not yet, Rose," he says.

"Help me go," she says. "It hurts. So much."

"Just hold on a little longer," he says touching the collar of the shirt she's wearing. His shirt. Then his voice is so soft, I can barely hear it. "You're supposed to be my friend."

"You have other friends," she says, and her eyes cut to me. His do not.

I don't look away from her. It's hard. The look makes me ache everywhere, but I hold her gaze. It's the least I can do.

"Don't you let anyone blame him for this," she says to me, and for a moment I see danger sparking in her eyes. The reminder of the predator she once was.

"I won't," I say.

I want to run, but I stay. I think it's because she asked me. I'm afraid it's because I can't leave him.

Damon folds her into an embrace and she coughs wetly, leaving a spot of blood on his shoulder. He poises the stake between her shoulder blades and I hold back a sob, turning my head.

I can't watch this. I can't be seeing or hearing any of this. It's too awful.

"I was wrong, Damon," she says, whispering it so softly I can barely make out the words. "I told you that you were right to fight it, but you aren't. Don't fight it."

"Like I ever listened to you," he teases and as her laughter rings out, he drives the stake home.

And then it is over.

I swipe the tears off of my cheeks and swallow down my sobs as I watch him ease her back to the pillow. He pushes her hair off of her forehead and his shoulders shake. Just once.

It cuts through me like a knife.

I rush to the bed, until I'm right behind him, my hands raised uselessly behind the line of his shoulders. I don't know what to do. I don't know how to help. I watch him clench his fists and hear him drag in tight, angry breaths. And then he growls, whirling on me with dark eyes and fangs bared.

As if I'm going to be so scared with the tear tracks streaking down either side of his face.

My voice is ragged, every word choked. "I'm sorry, Damon."

"Sorry? You didn't give a shit about her!"

"I give a shit about you," I snap back.

He lunges forward, licking his sharp teeth in warning. I flick my hair behind my shoulders, baring my neck. Daring him.

"You're my friend, remember?" I ask.

"I lost my friend forever, Elena," he says, tilting his head in that crazy, dangerous way. "Remember?"

"Don't I wish it were that simple," I say.

He opens his mouth, bares those ugly sharp teeth as if he'll bite me. But he won't bite me. We've all known that for so long that it's not even a novel idea anymore.

So, I haul him into my arms, pulling his head into my shoulder, fangs and all. It doesn't matter that he pretends to try to pull away. It doesn't matter that my chin is resting on the damp spot of Rose's blood. What matters is that I feel him give in. His arms go around my back and he presses his face into my neck and I know I've done something right.

For once.