Disclaimer: Don't own TVD or Kelly Clarkson lyrics.
Damon and Elena
I wish I could save you
She runs after she breaks him again.
She doesn't even mean to this time. It just happened.
She and Stefan had been in the Salvatore's impressive parlour and it must have been how at home she was there – she spent most of her time with the other brother in that room – that had snapped her boyfriend's struggle with the fears that had been building since he'd realized that she was slowly forgiving Damon for, well, everything.
When Stefan had started she had found she just didn't have the energy to deal with the subtle accusations or the fears that he was slowly losing her to his brother.
She'd just found she was so tired of his insecurity that she'd walked over to him and quietly wrapped her arms around him, hugging him tightly and murmuring:
"It's you, Stefan. It's always going to be you."
He'd been stiff for a moment before he'd relaxed and just as she'd let her head fall to his shoulder she'd caught a glimpse of blue, blue eyes struggling to mask heartbreak and had known she'd done it again.
This time, though, breaking him hurts.
It hurts because she can't possibly imagine what he goes through every time he hears her – or Katherine, though she prefers not to think of that – say it's always going to be Stefan.
It hurts because she's scared that maybe it's not so true after all and she runs because she's scared of what could happen if she keeps breaking him and he figures out maybe it's not always going to be Stefan.
She runs because it's easier to run away from whatever she and Damon could be – will be – then deal with the fact that every time she breaks him, something inside her breaks too.
Caroline finds her after she's run again.
This time, it has nothing to do with breaking Damon and everything to do with fighting him.
He's the one person she didn't think would fight with her over this and she's stunned and hurt and furious when he violently – she can still hear the crumble of plaster as he'd slammed his fist through a wall – vetoes any and all suggestions of her going to Katherine and finding out how to give herself up to save everyone else.
She can think of a million reasons why it's practical and worth it to give herself over to Klaus and just be done with this whole crazy curse but every reason she'd shouted at him, he'd countered with logic and when every reason had been tossed aside she'd gone with one she hadn't even thought to acknowledge.
"I need to save you, Damon. I need to save you."
"Well guess what, Elena? I don't want to be saved!"
She clenches her eyes shut as the echo of their desperate words bounce around inside her as she sits opposite her parent's graves.
She can't believe he'd said that any more then she can believe that the one reason she'd never thought of but known all along had come out in their argument.
She can't believe he doesn't want to be saved.
She knows he was speaking the truth when he'd shouted it at her. He was speaking the truth so plainly because he figures he doesn't deserve a chance to be saved after all he's done – to her, never needs to be said – but thinks if he can sacrifice himself but save her, redemption mustn't be far away.
But she still can't believe it because when the bare truth lay between them, both had been too angry to acknowledge it.
So she'd run.
She has no idea how she managed to escape her guard and then isn't surprised when she spots Caroline out of the corner of her eye.
It figures that she's escaped one but another had picked up the slack.
Caroline doesn't say anything – unusual for the chatty blonde – as she lowers herself to the ground to sit next to her and she doesn't say anything as the two of them stare at the headstones in front of them.
"Is Stefan worried?"
She's the first to break the silence and Caroline shrugs.
"I guess. But he was talking to Mr Saltzman when I left so he was distracted."
She nods. "You were in the Boarding House, weren't you?"
"You mean when you and Damon decided to see if you could outshout each other? Yes."
She closes her eyes at the blonde's soft tone and knows that even if every sense Caroline has wasn't enhanced she would have heard their parting shots.
"I need to save him, Care. I can't even explain it. I just need to save him." She whispers, like it's a dirty secret and she supposes it is.
Because if it's always going to be Stefan, why is she so desperate to save Damon?
"You know why, Elena."
She's startled when Caroline replies and then realizes she's spoken aloud.
She glances at Caroline and finds the blonde staring straight ahead, contemplating something in the distance that there's no way she can see.
"But I don't."
Caroline glances at her, her eyes shrewd and Elena suddenly realizes that maybe she should pay more attention to Caroline because she has a feeling that now – with the hell her friend has survived – Caroline knows more and sees more than she lets on.
"But you do otherwise you wouldn't be asking that question." Caroline sighs. "You two can be so similar it's irritating. Both wanting to be the saviour and neither wanting to be the one that's saved."
She has no idea what to say to that so she stays quiet.
Because sometimes it's disconcerting how much Caroline really sees and how accurately she can pin something down.
So she pulls her knees to her chest and rests her chin on top of them.
When tears start falling, she lets them.
They stop speaking after that argument.
She's pretty sure everyone thinks it's because they're both so furious at each other that to speak to each other would only lead to an argument.
She knows it's not the reason at all.
If they speak to each other, she knows, those words – the ones that shouldn't mean anything but mean everything – will come out and he'll reach the end of the endless patience he seems to have for her and she just can't deal with that.
Because if he demands a reason why she wants to save him specifically, she knows there's no way she can lie to him.
She knows there's no way she can look him in the eye and tell him 'it's always going to be Stefan' anymore.
That excuse disappeared when her exhaustion with her boyfriend erupted into a fight that wasn't even a fight.
He'd simply stood there as she'd exploded all over him and hadn't said a word until she'd finished.
And even then, he hadn't even understood where all this frustration and exhaustion had come from because – she'd realized this as she'd shouted and wished he was Damon because at least the older brother shouted back – they were living in two totally different worlds.
In his world, she was his girlfriend and she and his ex-girlfriend – who he swore he had no feelings for and yet, she couldn't bring herself to believe it – coincided in neat little boxes because he thought he knew both of them when he really only knew one.
In her world, he was her boyfriend who should have been the fairy tale prince complete with the white horse but wasn't – she can't even begin to reason out why he isn't – and his older brother isn't as evil or as unredeemable as he makes out to be and instead is one of the only reasons her worlds still spinning.
And that's only the start of the differences in their worlds.
So she breaks it off.
She breaks it off and as she breaks one brother, she can't figure out why she's not breaking as well.
Because if it's always going to be Stefan, isn't she meant to crawl into her bed and cry until days meld together?
Never mind that days have already started to run together because the axe hanging over her neck seems to never disappear and the one person that could give her a five minute time out can barely look her in the eye.
When she leaves – afraid that if she stays any longer she'll run into the other brother and she can't deal with him – she almost believes she's broken Stefan the way she always seems to break Damon.
But she doesn't.
He comes to her room late one night and she finds herself inexplicably annoyed that he beat her to the punch.
The punch being that she's been concocting plans to go and see him as soon as someone left the front door wide open.
Annoyance melts, though, when she realizes how glad she is to see him.
It feels like years since he's stood in front of her when she knows it's only been a couple of weeks and this feeling makes her reach out for him because he's there – just like he's always been – and she's been thinking too much and needs something solid to hold onto.
She feels him tense as she presses herself close and instead of releasing him, she ignores it and snuggles closer, closing her eyes and breathing in his scent as his arms hesitantly creep around her to hold tight.
She rubs her cheek against the leather of his jacket and is suddenly overwhelmed by how right it feels to have him hold her – to hold onto him.
Why has she missed this before?
"Elena." He speaks after a few moments and she murmurs something incoherent because she doesn't want to pull away.
She wants to hide here for a little longer.
"Elena. If you don't want me to feel you up, I suggest letting go of me."
His tone suggests he's not kidding even though there's plenty of sarcasm in it and she pulls away slightly, keeping her arms firmly around his waist because she's not ready to let go.
He raises an eyebrow. "Still planning to hand yourself over on a silver platter to save me?"
His words are faintly mocking and she feels a crack appear somewhere in the vicinity of her heart because he didn't believe her.
Her arms fall away from him slowly and she folds them tightly across her chest to ward off the cold that washes over her when she completely lets him go.
"Maybe." She spits back, hurt as she realizes she'd said something so monumental to him in anger and it has fallen on deaf ears.
"Hmm. And who else knows about this…plan? I can't imagine Stefan does, seeing as he's been brooding more than usual."
She grits her teeth because she knows very well he knows that she broke up with his brother and wonders if he's there to mock her about it.
"No. Stefan doesn't know. But you do." She smiles sweetly, suddenly. "Gonna try and save me, then, Damon?"
His eyes harden at her words and at the faint mocking in them.
Because he doesn't want to be saved and neither does she. It's why what Caroline had said was so true.
"Would you let me if I said yes?"
The quiet question throws her completely because she was expecting a cutting comeback that infuriated her enough to kick him out of her room.
But it's the vulnerability in his voice – something she has never heard and never thought he could be – that makes her falter because some part of her – a huge part that wants only to lean on him and let him help – wants so desperately to nod and let him catch as she falls again.
But she doesn't listen to it.
Instead, she sends him a scathing look that says all the things she isn't going to and nearly breaks because she can see that that one look is about to break him.
"No. I wouldn't. So don't ask."
"Well then, glad we cleared that up." His sarcasm is back in an instant after she sees hurt flash through his eyes. "I'll step back seeing as you so clearly don't care that by going along with this plan of yours, you're hurting everyone trying to keep you alive."
Her eyes widen at his words.
"Am I hurting you, Damon?"
He cocks his head, as if pretending to think about the question and then a smirk – one too malicious for her to think anything good is going to come from it – tilts at his lips.
"No. After all, it's always going to be Stefan, isn't it Elena?"
She suddenly knows what it's like when someone says those words to her.
He leaves her just as she breaks.
It hurts so much to have words she thought were true thrown back in her face by the one person she thought would try so hard not to break her again.
Was that naïve of her, though? Had she honestly thought that after everything Damon has done – after everything she's done to him – he wouldn't break her again?
Had she honestly thought she could keep breaking him, breaking them without him retaliating? Without him throwing something back in her face so she knew how badly it hurt when a question so important is dismissed so easily?
She presses her hand to her face at the thoughts because she knows the answers to all her questions and she knows that she should have seen it coming.
It was inevitable that one day they'd break each other at the same time.
Caroline's the one that tells her Damon's gone.
The blonde crawls into her bed one night when she's laying there, her comforter pulled over head, hiding from the world and gently tells her that Damon's taken off.
He's left because he thinks he can do something about the curse without them and told Alaric not to bother to come with him because he didn't know how long he was going to be gone for.
Alaric, apparently, translated it into Damon's gone and it's unlikely he's going to ever come back.
"He left?" She whispers when Caroline falls silent.
"Without saying goodbye?"
Caroline's eyebrows rise at the question and then she slowly nods her head.
She closes her eyes and forces back a whimper as she realizes that this time, Damon's really not going to come back and it's all her fault.
"You know, you could have stopped him, right?" Caroline asks after a moment. "I mean, if anyone was going to convince him not to do it, it would have been you."
Elena shakes her head.
"No. It wouldn't. He hates me the way I hated him."
She doesn't need to open her eyes to see Caroline's disbelieving look and doesn't feel the need to elaborate because it's true.
After they broke each other, he simple reverted to acting like she didn't exist. Like being indifferent to her was something he found easy.
"Oh for God's sakes, Elena. He doesn't hate you. The guy is in love with you. And you're in love with him. Hence the whole 'I need to save you' thing you've both been going on about." Caroline snaps exasperatedly and she opens her eyes to look at the irate vampire.
"Are you kidding me? Damon loves you. He adores you. You are his world. He hasn't gone on a suicide mission because he hates you or because you've spent the last year breaking him over and over again. He's gone a suicide mission because you're it for him and its easier for him to go and get himself killed then hang around and listen to you go on about Stefan."
"Caroline - "
"Really, Elena? How can you not see it? How can you be so blind when you know every single facet of Damon Salvatore?"
"I do not!"
Caroline shakes her hair back impatiently as she snaps out a sentence that vehemently denies everything her friends saying.
"You do. You're probably the only person in the world who knows Damon Salvatore both vampire and man and you know what you do with that knowledge? You use it to hurt him because you can't bring yourself to admit that you know him, every single part of him hidden or not, and he knows every single part of you, inside out and because he knows you and accepts you, you love him so much more than you ever thought possible."
"But - "
"It's not Stefan, Elena, it never was." Caroline throws the comforter off both of them. "It's Damon and it's been Damon since he saved you from the car crash and took you to Georgia to relax."
The moonlight blinds her for a minute as she thinks about Caroline's words.
She wants to cry because she wishes someone has said all that Caroline has said to her sooner.
But they haven't and she needs to clean up the mess she's made with the other brother because she doesn't think she can live with the fact that he didn't say goodbye.
Not if the goodbye is meant to be of the permanent kind.
"Can we find him?" She asks her eyes suddenly bright with determination as her mind works on a plan to save him.
"Oh yeah, that'll be easy. Damon's spent a hundred and forty-five years dropping off the grid whenever he feels like it. He's had practice." Caroline scoffs.
"We need to find him, Caroline."
She knows her eyes are bright because she can feel the tears building as Caroline's announcement threatens to crash down over her head but she's not going to think about it just yet because if she does, she doesn't think she's going to find Damon.
"Okay." The blonde nods and she closes her eyes again.
Because damn it, he's not allowed to save her before she saves him.
She doesn't know what happens.
When she looks back on it days after they found Damon with Klaus in a clearing that she doesn't remember clearly, she has no idea how they survived. How she survived.
Because it all happened so fast.
There was blood, she remembers blood and she remembers fury from Damon but she doesn't remember anything else.
She really doesn't and she's okay with that because she doesn't think she wants to remember.
It's bad enough she remembers Damon collapsing in surprise as a stake was driven into him, inches from his heart.
She thinks it was a mutual staking – with a little help from Bonnie – that had Klaus collapsing in pain and surprise as well but she doesn't see anything but the stake protruding from Damon's stomach and the way his eyes close heavily, as if he's waiting for the worst.
She doesn't think anything will scar her more.
Because she thought, for a few split seconds as he sank down into the dirt that she was going to lose him.
That her world – the world that she's created for herself when her life was thrown into a whole different dimension – was about to end completely before she told him all the things that they both needed to hear.
That she was sorry she kept breaking him, that she needs to save him because she can't stand the thought he would give up all he could be for her, that he's not allowed to leave without saying goodbye.
That she loves him.
"Damon, Damon." She scrambles over to him, unsure what to do and unaware of anyone else. "Damn it, Damon, you are not allowed to die!" She tugs him onto her lap, lowering her brow to his as tears threaten.
She doesn't realize she's weak and shaking and that maybe something's happened to her that she can't remember because she's so focused on the man laying too still in her lap and the way his beautiful face is immobile and all she wants is for him to open his eyes and make some snarky comment that will make her mad instead of terrified.
She strokes the backs of her fingers down the length of his face repeatedly as she begins murmuring nonsense just in the hopes that he'll wake up and tell her to shut up.
"Damon, you need to open your eyes." She whispers, her voice breaking as she becomes truly, truly scared that he won't. "I need you to open your eyes. I can't – you can't die. You just can't because there's so much I – we – need to say. I just. God Damon, open your fucking eyes!"
The slight curl of his lips is what tips her off that he's as alive as a vampire can be. The low hum in the back of his throat is what makes her realize he's coming around – if he was ever unconscious to begin with.
"You know, I was hoping for a declaration of undying love, but this'll do."
His eyes open and she lifts her brow so she can look at him.
"I'm going to hate you soon." She all but whimpers, horrified of the tears that are beginning to escape as relief washes over her in waves.
"Counting on it. But can you save it until I don't have a tree trunk through my stomach?"
She thinks there's something insane about him – about them – that a comment like that, said with the utmost casualness can make her want to laugh in a situation that should have – was – dire even if she can't remember it.
"Okay," she nods, lowering her brow to his again. "Okay."
She closes her eyes as she feels him reach up to twine her long ebony hair around his fingers.
She decides that she'll yell at him later for trying to save her.
She wakes up in his bed.
She has a feeling that they've slept for days but doesn't remember or care because she's never felt so rested before.
At least, not in recent memory.
Still, she slides from sleep to wakefulness with ease and is only disorientated for a moment when she finds the first thing she sees is Damon's sleeping face.
She honestly doesn't understand how he can still look dangerous in sleep.
His jaw is tense as he sleeps and there's a disdainful tilt to his mouth that makes her want to reach out and soothe him, realizing that maybe now she can, she raises her hand to lightly – so lightly she doesn't think he can feel it – run it down the side of his face.
His mouth softens simply at her touch.
Is it really that easy? She wonders. Is a gentle touch all it takes for him to relax? Does she really have that much power over this beautiful, cynical, jaded man?
It's frightening to realize that yes, maybe she does and even more frightening to realize that he has that power over her as well.
Except for him it might not be a gentle touch but the truth or an offhand comment that sums up any situation easily.
Either way, this power to soothe – even in sleep – is more frightening than the power she has to break him or the power – what little of it there is – to save him.
Because making him relax, taking the edge away from his face, to take the anger away from the tightness in his jaw, means that she's all the way in.
There's no escaping what she is to him or what he is to her because she knows that to be able to soothe someone in the right way means more than anything else.
It's like a balancing act, she thinks as she dances her fingertips across his cheekbone, she has the power to break him and soothe him and has to be able to use both powers accordingly.
He has the power to break her and soothe her as well and while he might still be figuring that out, she figures that it might be a little easier now that they're not trying to save each other and resisting every second of the way.
She didn't really expect him to sleep through her touching him voluntarily but is surprised he managed to keep up the façade of sleeping for so long.
"Because you're still in bed with me and an attack of guilt hasn't occurred yet." He pauses. "Or that you haven't attempted to kill me in my sleep for going off without saying goodbye."
She smiles a little at that because it's so like him to know why she chased him in the first place.
Her smile fades as blurs of memories – Klaus, blood, manic laughter, death – flash through her mind and forces her eyes to remain open when he reaches up to touch her face because she knows if she closes her eyes, she's going to remember what happened and she doesn't want to.
"You know, I could compel the memories away." He says quietly, seriously and she isn't surprised that he knows what's going through her mind as he traces his finger along her jawline.
She shakes her head. "It won't make any of it better, Damon."
"Neither will refusing to remember it."
She's quiet for a moment.
"I don't want to think about it. Any of it. Elijah, Klaus, Rose, any of it. It's over. It's done with. If I remember it, it's just an invitation for it to stay in my life and I'm done with having it hang over my head."
His eyes are a shade of dark blue she's never seen before as he contemplates her silently, his fingers resting lightly on her the curve of her neck.
She waits for him to say something, to say anything when he lets out a sigh and shrugs.
"Alright. If that's what you want." She lets out a breath at his easy capitulation and fights to not snuggle closer. "As it is, we've still got a dog problem and one other maniacal, half decimated vampire to deal with. I'm sure it won't be too hard not think about it."
She's not sure she follows his logic and raises an eyebrow.
"A dog problem?" She asks sweetly.
"I'm only guessing here. We've been passed out for a day and the Dream Team has yet to make an appearance so, let's just assume every other problem exists."
They both fall silent and she shifts so she can rest her head on his chest.
"Does that mean every problem we have still exists?"
His flippant tone doesn't quite hide the seriousness of his question and she wonders if he's right in asking the question.
She tilts her face up towards him.
"Are you still going to try and save me?" She asks blandly.
"Are you going to let me?" He counters.
She thinks back to when they asked this of each other weeks and weeks ago.
They were a mess then and she thinks maybe they're still a mess now but she also knows that if she says no again, he won't come back to her. Not all the way.
It's a little scary to realize that Caroline's right. Because there's no way she would know that Damon won't come back to her if she says no, if she didn't know him inside out.
She realizes, too, that there's no way she can say no to the question now.
There's no way she can deny him something that just seems to fundamentally important to him because she wants to acquiesce. She wants to nod and let him save her when he thinks she needs to be saved, not when everyone else thinks she does.
Taking a deep breath, she looks up at him and offers a small smile.
"Only when you think I need to be saved."
She sees him relax at her words. Watches as those blue eyes soften and knows there's no going back.
Because agreeing to let him save her, she realizes she's made her choice with a permanency that she's unwilling to think about.
She knows, as his hand rises to stroke down her hair, that even if Stefan wants her back now that the threat of death isn't hanging over her head, there's no way she can go back even momentarily.
Because it's Damon.
It's Damon and that thought isn't as frightening as she figures it would be when she finally got her head around it.
Closing her eyes, she presses closer to him and wonders how this is possibly going to work.
She decides she doesn't care when she feels the ghost of his lips over her hair.
Easily, she thinks, perhaps more easily than her and Stefan because he understands her better than anyone else she knows.
But she chooses not to dwell on the comparisons between the brothers because it's a little too like pitting them against each other in her head.
It's unsurprising, honestly, how well they work.
Yes, there are fights and yes, there are moments of tension that make everyone – she's beginning to think of Ric, Bonnie, Caroline, Tyler, Stefan, as her dysfunctional family – shift awkwardly because they all know that one wrong move could result in a spectacular explosion that most certainly will result in casualties.
God knows Alaric's still recovering from being hit in the head with her mother's vase after he stupidly got in the middle of a fight between them.
But there are also soft moments where he'll tug her closer when she's upset or make her laugh with a sarcastic comment that sends Bonnie away fuming and has everyone else hiding smiles. There are the moments where she'll turn her head and find him watching her quietly, those blue, blue eyes soft with emotion he only shows to her and the ones where she'll crawl into his lap – in front of everyone or when they're alone – and curl there because sometimes, it's all too hard.
She thinks that maybe, it's too easy sometimes, how simple it was to slide into a relationship with him.
She wonders because honestly? Nothing in her life has been easy since the Salvatore brothers came into it and she keeps waiting for the other shoe to drop and everything to shatter around her again. She keeps waiting for one of their petty fights to explode into one big argument that they'll never get through and she'll go back to breaking him when he saves her or finding herself broken as he walks away and finding that she hates him the way she did when her life was hanging by a thread and she only wanted to save him.
He seems to know when she's thinking things like that, though.
He can read her like an open book and when he finds her, diary open on her lap, staring into space, he tugs the diary away and replaces the pen in her hand with entwined fingers and pulls her against him to murmur in her hair:
"It's going to be alright."
When he does, she lifts her head and kisses him gently because for once, since he came barrelling into her life, dark, dangerous and damaged, she believes him.
She always believes him.
She believes him because as long as he's there, it's going to be alright and she knows he's not going to go anywhere.
I wish I could say to you
It's gonna be alright
A/N: I think I have a love/hate relationship with this story. There are some parts I love and some parts I can't stand (the whole Caroline thing I don't know how to explain) and as a whole, I'm not too sure if I really love this story. But the word count - over 5000 - is what makes me quite proud that I managed to finish it. So, I hope it was alright - and I know that the Klaus thing was done terribly but I really have no idea how they're going to work that so I chose not to make my own scene up - and that you enjoyed it. Oh, the song wasn't what inspired me. As I was writing it, it started playing on iTunes and I thought that it fit. Anyway, I do hope you liked it!