Elena could hardly breathe as she headed inside her house. Sobs were threatening to rip through her and she struggled to hold them in as she stumbled up the stairs hoping to get to the security of her bedroom. However she crashed into Jeremy a the top of the stairs and his concerned voice asking her what happened as he slipped his arms around her. "Is it Stefan?" he asked.

She clung to her brother as the tears she had been trying to hold in spilled over, sobs wracking her body. "I need…" she didn't know what she needed really. She coughed into her arm as her legs trembled. She remembered vividly what it felt like when Damon snapped her brothers neck but the pain had lessened when Jeremy in fact remained alive. But this… this wasn't fixable. Nothing was going to make this pain go away.

Jeremy fished out his phone out of his dark wash jeans and called Damon as he slid to the hardwood floor, his devastated sister in his arms. He didn't know who else to call but he was sure Damon could handle this.

"What?" Damon greeted so nicely.

"You need to get to the house," Jeremy said as he rocked Elena gently. Damon might not be her favorite person, but he was exactly who she needed right now. She trusted Damon more than anyone and even if she denied it, she cared about him, as he did with her. Damon was special to her, he had a special place in her heart.

"Is that Elena crying?" Damon demanded. "Is she okay?"

Jeremy paused as he stared at Elena's broken face. "Just hurry," he said, hanging up. He liked that Damon immediately picked up on Elena's distress. No explanation was needed, he knew that Damon would come.

He didn't expect Damon to take him literally but in less than 2 minutes Damon had come through the front door. He was upstairs in a blur, crouching beside the two teens, his attention immediately on Elena. "What happened?" he asked, gently resting a hand on Elena's knee. She turned her head but that was her only acknowledgement of him. Her eyes were red and swollen. "Elena?"

"I don't know why she's upset," Jeremy said. "She came home like this."

Carefully, Damon lifted Elena from the floor. "I got it from here," he said softly as he headed to her room. He nudged the door closed behind him with his foot and sat on her bed, cradling her close to him. Her hold on him was nothing short of tight, which was better than her pushing him away. When her sobs faded into sniffles he gently moved her next to him before disappearing into the bathroom and returning with a wash cloth. He gently ran the cool cloth over her flushed forehead, his eyes soft. "Elena?" he asked softly. Something was better than nothing. He wanted to hear words. He wanted to kill whoever had made her cry like this.

"Why am I alone Damon?" she whimpered. She pushed away from him and stood on shaky feet as she wiped her cheeks. "Am I so horrible that no one wants to be with me?" He expected her to say anything, but not that. He hated how defeated she sounded. Elena had always been so strong and full of life but the heart broken look on her face, made him ache for her.

"What in the world are you talking about?" he asked in complete confusion.

"You have Rose and Stefan has Katherine," she said angrily.

She was lonely? He understood Stefan being in the tomb, but him being with Rose? He didn't see how that mattered to Elena. "We're trying to get him out," he said soothingly. At least he could go with something he knew.

"You think he wants to be rescued?" she screamed, startling him slightly as tears stung her eyes again. "You think he wants to be rescued from his nights of passion with her?"

Damon stared at her with wide eyes before getting to his feet. "Elena…" He couldn't imagine his brother sleeping with Katherine. Not after all the lectures he had gotten about Elena. And if Elena had seen them together that would destroy her. He couldn't even find it in him to be mad at her for going down there by herself.

"I saw them Damon," she whispered, shaking her head as if trying to clear the images that would haunt her mind for a very long time. "In the tomb, together. I didn't imagine it."

His face softened considerably and he approached her, his hands already reaching for her. "Oh kitten." He had no kind of speech to give to her for this kind of thing, but he knew what she must be feeling. When he had lost Katherine, his whole world had fallen apart and Elena had helped him pick up the pieces, in her own way.

"No!" she said, backing away from him. "You do not get to comfort me."

He felt like he had been slapped in the face and he folded his arms. "What did I do this time?" He thought things with them were headed back on the right track. Sure they were a little rough but he didn't think she was still mad at him.

"You slept with Rose," she said meekly.

"What does that have to do with you?" he asked with a raised eyebrow.

"You said you loved me," she choked. "And you slept with her. Should I jump for joy?"

Damon stared at her with wide eyes. There was no way she could remember. However the first thing he picked up was that she was jealous. Never mind that she remember what he had said, and he was going to have to admit to erasing her memories. "You said it was always going to be Stefan," he said carefully. "Why should you care who I spend my time with when you've made it blatantly obvious that you will always want Stefan?"

"So you're admitting to compelling me?" she asked with sparkling eyes.

"Why would you want to remember that?" he asked. "Thought I'd be doing you a favor." Thought he'd be doing everyone a favor. He could move on from this mess and try to get his life back together. He knew it was going to kill him to leave her one day but it was for the best. How he was going to walk away from her now, knowing that she knew how he felt about her… he didn't know if he'd be strong enough to do that.

"Except I did remember," she said softly. "And its all I think about. And I don't know what to do."

This time he did close the distance between them and she didn't move away. "Maybe because you have feelings for me," he said softly, trying not to sound too hopeful. Hell would freeze over before she returned his love but there was always a chance…

"Except you slept with Rose," she mumbled. "After she kidnapped me and almost broke my jaw."

His eyes narrowed at her. "You wouldn't let me kill her," he growled. It didn't matter that Rose was 500 years old, Damon would have snapped her neck just for Elena. His need to protect her drove him to do everything now, no matter what it took.

"So you slept with her?" Elena asked. "Just make her feel right at home."

Try as he might, Damon couldn't find the logic in her argument, all it sounded like to him was jealous ramblings. "You don't have claim to me Elena," he said softly. "Regardless of how I feel about you, you're in love with Stefan. Why shouldn't I try to move on with my life?"

Her eyes closed in defeat as a few tears leaked from beneath her lashes. "I'm sorry," she said, rubbing her face. "I don't know what's wrong with me."

Gently he rubbed her upper arms, trying to keep her from breaking down again. He hated to see her cry and he didn't really know what to do. "You're heart is broken," he said. "Whether it's my fault or Stefan's, you're still hurting."

"Make it stop," she whimpered, her eyes pleading with his. "Please Damon." Her tiny hands fisted against his chest and she weakly beat them against the solid wall.

"I wish I could Elena," he said sadly.

"Compel me again."

He shook his head. "It nearly destroyed me the first time to do that to you. I can't." His thumbs softly stroked her cheeks, wiping the moisture away. Her lip quivered and his thumb carefully smoothed it out.

Elena leaned forward, sliding her arms around his waist. "I can't do this anymore," she said. "I'm not strong enough." She shuddered against him, swallowing her tears, trying not to grieve for the man that broke her heart.

"Yes you are," he said, hugging her tightly. "You are Elena. I'm going to kill Stefan for doing this to you. We're going to get through this together."

"Good," she mumbled. "I hate him." Damon wisely didn't comment and scooped her up to tuck her into bed. When he went to stand up, her arms tightened around him. "Stay with me," she pleased. "Please don't leave Damon."

For one night he could ignore how he was supposed to stay way from her and he toed off his boots before settling next to her. "It's gunna be okay Elena," he said, rubbing her back. "I won't sleep with Rose anymore." Anything to help her feel better. The way her arms felt around him, the way his body warmed to her touch, he couldn't imagine being anywhere else, with anyone else. This just felt right.

"That was… very selfish of me," she said, curling against him. "I'm sorry I took that out on you."

"How did you know I tried to compel you?" he asked. Hopefully they could get past the elephant in the room without upsetting her and work out the compelling thing.

"You think I didn't protect myself as soon as I got home?" she asked, wiping her cheek. "You just… what you said meant a lot to me and I tried to respect your choice. Thought it'd be awkward if I told you that I remember when you were so clearly trying to make it easier for me."

"Because it's not awkward now," he said with amusement as his fingers ran through her tresses. He had imagined stroking her hair so many times before, but his dreams could never compare to now.

"It's not," she said. "Honestly, this is pretty nice."

"Get some sleep," he said, kissing her hair.

One of her arms slid over his waist and she exhaled slowly. "Can you be here in the morning?" she whispered. Her muscles were slowly relaxing against him and he could tell she was getting tired. The nights events were catching up to her and he imagined she hadn't slept in quite some time.

His fingers paused in the stroking of her hair. "You're giving me a lot of mixed signals Elena," he said. "This is already seriously crossing your friendship boundery thing and you're making it very hard for me to respect it." The last thing he wanted was to make the wrong move on her or say something only for her to end up hating him again.

"I know," she said with a yawn. "I promise it'll be worth it."

He sighed but pulled her closer to him. "I'll be here then." Howe could he possibly turn down a night with her? A night he would probably never get again. She would work everything out with Stefan and he would be free and he could go back to being alone.

Elena scrubbed her face with cool water before steeling herself to go downstairs. She had woken up alone but rested and she could hear a lot of commotion downstairs. Her face had lost most of the swelling from crying and she could probably get away with minimal explanation and no one would want to know what happened. As she headed down the stair case, and breakfast assaulted her nose. She paused in the doorway watching Damon move around the kitchen, with Ric preparing food as Jenna sat at the counter. Well she hadn't thrown Damon out, that was definitely a plus. "Morning," she said.

"Morning," Jenna greeted. "How are you feeling?"

"Much better," Elena said moving over to Damon to peek over his shoulder. "It smells good." She kissed his shoulder secretively, thankful he had stuck around knowing Jenna had probably given him hell and she was sure that breakfast was a suck up. A much appreciated one.

Damon smiled. "Tastes better," he promised.

"Morning," Jeremy announced coming into the kitchen. "Smells awesome."

"Okay!" Jenna said excitedly. "Not that breakfast isn't wonderful, but I'm not used to seeing Damon so early in the morning. Is something going on?"

"Not yet," Elena said shrugging. "Maybe soon." She could feel Damon staring at her and she smiled up at him. "You're going to burn the bacon." She reached around him to turn off the stove before heading to the fridge to get some juice. Just the normalcy of the morning was helping her feel better. She could easily put the horrific events of last night behind her without feeling guilty.

Ric and Jenna moved their breakfast to the living room to cuddle on the couch and Jeremy disappeared to the confines of his room with his. Damon placed a plate in front of her with eggs, toast and bacon before he sat next to her with a similar plate. "I told them you had a fight with Stefan," he said softly. "And I gave Jeremy some blood to heal his neck. Hope that's okay with you."

"Thank you Damon," she said softly. "If you weren't here…"

He gently covered her hand and brought it to his lips. "Don't ever think like that," he said, squeezing her fingers. "If you ever need me, I will be here." He'd never be able to walk away from her now, but if he got to spend more moments with her like this, then he'd be a happy man.

"What if I need you forever?" she asked, moving her eggs around her plate.

"Forever comes with a lot of promises Elena," Damon warned.

"I know," she said nodding. "I'm prepared to make those promises to you Damon. I just need them in return." She'd like to say Damon wasn't one for commitment but he had loved Katherine for over 150 years and had done everything to get her back. She knew he was devoted to those he loved. She could count on him to always be there for her.

"I think I can do that," he said a small smile curving on his lips.

Elena turned toward him with a sigh. "I have to see Stefan today," she said softly. "Just… I need to settle it so it's not nagging at me for the rest of my life."

Damon nodded. "We can go after breakfast," he said. A small pang of jealousy coursed through him at her seeing Stefan, but he'd rather she get her closure as well. Stefan was still his brother and he was still looking for a way to get him out of the tomb, but that didn't mean things were going to be okay when Stefan was free.

Elena's heart raced as she paused at the entrance to the tomb. She asked Damon to wait for her outside, even though he could hear everything she was going to say. She never imagined losing Stefan, to Katherine of all people, but losing him allowed her to open up to her own feelings that she had kept bottled up for so long. Slowly she made her way down the stairs and Stefan appeared at the entrance a moment later.

"Elena," he said in surprise. "You shouldn't be here."

"Did you think that Damon was really going to be able to keep me away?" she asked, folding her arms. "Was that your plan Stefan? You wanted Damon to seduce me so I wouldn't find out about you screwing Katherine? Did you honestly think I would never know?"


"No!" she flared. "You don't get to defend yourself. When Damon gets you out I don't want to see you."

"He's not gunna get me out Elena," Stefan said softly.

"Told you it was a big mistake," Katherine drawled coming up to stand by Stefan. "You knew Damon wanted her all along and would do anything to get her."

"Damon loves me," Elena said firmly. "You don't know him Katherine. You never did. You used him. He loved you more than anything and you didn't care."

"You know he'll never love anyone like he loved me," Katherine said, leaning against the stone wall. "You'll just be a replacement Elena. You'll never know what it'll feel like to be loved truly by either of them. Their feelings for you are based off of feelings for me. Because you look like me. That's the only reason they gave you a second look. But of course you're going to die and I'll still be around."

"You're right," Elena said softly. "Damon will never love me like he loves you. And he might have looked at me differently because I look exactly like you. It may have started as a game, but when he found out you weren't here, I was there to help him pick up the pieces. He is a better man because he loves me and I'll never be sorry for that."

"Keep dreaming Elena," Katherine said. "You'll get old and die and Damon will still be eternally hot. You'll never work."

Elena remembered Caroline telling her that she and Stefan wouldn't work. And with Klaus after her, she had done a lot of thinking. But Katherine didn't deserver any explanations. "Damon will get you out because you're his brother and he loves you," she said softly. "But if you want to stay down here and rot, I couldn't care. Whether you're down here or not won't affect my being with Damon. He deserves to be loved by someone that isn't a heartless bitch." And she turned on her heel and headed out of the tomb, feeling a little bit lighter. Her heart beat quickened as she smiled a little at Damon who was leaning against a near by tree. "Hi," she said softly.

Damon smiled at her. "Feel better?" he asked sliding an arm around her shoulders.

"Much," she said, snuggling into him. "The hurt side of me wants him to stay down there and suffer. And the logical side of me knows that I'm not that mean and he's still your brother."

"I'm going to kill him when he gets out anyways," he said, leading her to his car. "He might be my brother but he hurt you and he deserves to be miserable, not down there with her."

"Except I'm fine now," she said, smiling up at him. "And we're going to be fine. No matter what."

"That you're first promise?" he teased kissing her lips softly.

"I suppose it is." Her arms snaked around his neck, her fingers tangling in his short hair. "And what's you're promise going to be?"

Damon pushed her hair over one shoulder as he cradled one of her cheeks. "My promise to you Elena is that I'm going to love you 'til the end of time… and probably a little bit longer." Her eyes sparkled with tears but he kissed her once more, passionately devouring her lips, easing her fears.