Everything in Damon and Elena's lives seemed to have taken a one-eighty turn in the past couple of months. They went from hell to heaven, and the newlyweds couldn't be happier. Gabriel was getting smarter and smarter, and his mother actually had a chance to spend more time with him as she was on vacation from college. Damon had been tempted to also take some days off, but he decided against it, preferring to take them when their baby girl was born in five weeks. He couldn't wait and his mind was on his family more often than not these days.
"He's in an important meeting now," Anna, Damon's assistant said on the phone.
"Stefan is also there," she answered.
"What happened, Mrs. Rossi?" she finally asked, seeing how tense the woman on the other side of the line was.
"I'm getting him," the assistant said, the color on her already pale face disappearing. She felt so sorry for Damon. He seemed to be so happy these days.
She didn't have the heart to deliver the news to her boss, so instead of getting the older Salvatore, she preferred to interrupt the meeting with the board to talk to the younger brother.
She excused herself for the interruption. This was one of the few meetings during which she didn't assist Damon. And when he saw her entering he frowned. He knew something had to be very wrong for Anna to enter the conference room. His life changed so much in the past weeks that the first concern was a situation in any of the branches that needed their attention. And when she walked towards Stefan rather than him, he was somewhat relieved that it wouldn't be something that urgent, otherwise she would have talked to him directly. But then the frown returned to his face. If it wasn't that important, she wouldn't interrupt in the first place. Especially because Stefan was stepping down from his position by the end of the week, that being one of the topics in the current meeting.
But then he saw his brother's face getting pale, and he knew his first assumptions were wrong. As soon as the assistant stopped whispering to his brother, and excused herself from the room, before giving a look at Damon he realized it probably didn't have anything to do with work after all.
"Gentleman, there's an imperative issue that requires our immediate attention, and we're going to have to suspend this meeting," Stefan announced, avoiding looking at Damon's face.
"As you know this is my last week in the company, and if we can't reschedule the meeting until Friday, Damon will point you to my replacement, with whom I have already spoken. I'm sorry for the inconvenience, but urgent matters have arisen," Stefan explained, and after some quiet, but still present, buzz, one by one of the board members left the room.
Damon was rooted in his place, trying to make Stefan look at him, but his brother was taking his time bidding farewell to each person leaving the room. When he greeted the last one of them, he stayed by the door for a moment, his back to his brother. He needed to collect as much strength as possible before facing Damon to deliver the news Anna shared. But he soon realized he didn't have enough, so he just turned to Damon.
"Gabriel or Elena?" Damon asked, knowing without a doubt something happened to his family.
"Elena… she fell from the stairs, Damon. She was taken to the hospital. Unconscious. Anna is talking to Isobel," Stefan said, as the tears he had been holding for the past ten minutes finally started to fall.
"No…" was all Damon could say, feeling the world dropping onto his shoulders.
Somehow Damon couldn't look at his son. He knew his fourteen-month old baby shouldn't be blamed for his mother's condition. But when Pearl had explained what she thought had happened, it became hard for the father to face his son, even though he knew it wasn't Gabriel's fault. Except that it was. Elena was going downstairs holding her son's hand that was eating a banana and trying to carry a car toy under his arm. They concluded Gabriel dropped the car, and Elena stepped on it, because when Pearl heard the noise and looked behind her, Elena was already on the floor. The doctors didn't say much, but according to Pearl and Rosa, Elena was already unconscious a couple of minutes after the fall.
"Damon," Alex called the inconsolable man when he entered the waiting room.
"Dr. Karev," Damon jumped from his seat, followed by Isobel relieved to know a familiar face. He knew they had contacted Meredith, and although she was still on her maternity leave, it seemed like the blonde doctor came as soon as she learned Elena's condition.
"How is Elena?" Damon asked, not even asking about the baby.
"Meredith decided to take the baby out. Elena is going through a C-Section," he explained, but he could see that wasn't the answer the blue-eyed man wanted.
"Is she going to be okay?" he muttered.
"She's still unconscious, we did an MRI when she arrived. She had a concussion. Meredith preferred to take the baby out because of an internal bleed that she detected. We could wait for Elena to wake up, but the bleeding seemed to be getting bigger. As soon as your daughter is born I'll let you know. Five weeks earlier isn't too much, Damon. She'll be okay, Meredith said her vitals were intact," he tried to comfort the man, but it didn't seem to work.
"Please, keep me updated about Elena, Alex. I can't lose my wife," the torn man pleaded, and Alex felt for his friend. There had been innumerous occasions the Salvatores met with the Karevs. The doctors had been invited to Gabriel's birthday, and to a celebratory lunch Caroline hosted for the newlyweds on the following weekend to their civil wedding. The Salvatores had visited Meredith after she gave birth, and Elena went to Meredith's baby shower. Meredith and Chloe had attended Elena's just the week before. The couples also had dinner and lunch at each other's houses a few times. They weren't just patient and doctor anymore.
"I don't have all information about Elena's condition Damon. The bleeding seems more significant than the concussion, but I'll keep you posted. I'll go back inside because I'll take care of your daughter once Meredith is done with the C-Section," the doctor offered, and Damon nodded, thanking him.
"Damon," the man heard the almost familiar voice coming from behind.
"Pastor Norman?" he asked slightly confused.
"Stefan called me and told me about what happened, I was just in the neighborhood. Do you need anything son?" he asked moving his hand to the desperate man's shoulder.
"My wife, I need my wife alive. I can't lose Elena, Pastor Norman," Damon said collapsing on the chair.
"Shall we pray then?" the man sat by his side, looking up to Stefan who was sitting a couple of chairs away.
"I don't even remember how to pray," Damon confessed, and it made him even more desperate. There was nothing he could really do to help his wife, and he wasn't capable of doing the one thing that maybe could help her.
"There's no certain way to pray, Damon, you just say what's in your heart, ask for God to help you and believe he can," the middle-aged man offered when Stefan and Isobel joined them.
"I don't know which one is harder, saying the words or believing it will make a difference" he murmured, and the minister only nodded before holding both brothers' hands and making a simple and short prayer for Elena's life.
The minutes passed, but it seemed like hours. Caroline joined them some time later, as well as John, and they helped Pearl and Isobel with an agitated Gabriel, but Damon still couldn't be around his son. He felt like the worst father in the world. But it was humanly impossible for him to be with Gabriel while he didn't know if Elena was okay.
About an hour later, Alex came back to the waiting room, carrying good news, but not news that would put Damon's heart at peace.
"Your daughter is a healthy girl, Damon. She's 5lb 3oz and 18 inches long. Congratulations Daddy, she's beautiful and you can see her now if you want," Alex announced happy to share at least some good news with Damon.
"What about Elena?" he asked immediately, not giving time for his family to say anything to him.
"I left the room as soon as your girl was born because I needed to check on her," the doctor offered avoiding looking at Damon's eyes, and that pretty much gave him out.
"I know you're keeping information, Alex, please don't," Damon said tiredly.
"The bleeding was already very significant by the time Meredith finally took the baby out; she was trying to control it when I left,"
"How serious can an internal bleed be?"
"It depends, Damon. I was close enough to see it was significant, but my main concern was the baby because I knew Meredith had to keep working on Elena as soon as your daughter was born," the doctor explained.
"You really don't know how serious her condition is?"
"No, I don't. Why don't you come with me to meet your daughter? She missed her mother's warmth when she cried, I'm sure she'll be content to be with her daddy. While you stay with her I'll try to get information about Elena's condition," he offered and Damon couldn't express how grateful he was for his friend for breaking the protocol. Any doctor that wasn't involved in Elena's surgery couldn't give Damon any information about his wife's condition.
"I just need to know if she'll be okay," Damon whispered.
"I wish I could say she will. I can't say that right now, but I hope that's what I'm going to tell you in ten minutes," Alex patted Damon in the back, and he finally agreed to go with the doctor.
His brother and Caroline approached him, hugging him quickly and congratulating him for the baby girl. They were followed by John and Isobel, and the pair had closer feelings to what Damon was feeling. As much as they were happy for their granddaughter, Elena was their main concern.
"Her mother will join you soon there, brother," Stefan offered, and Damon just hoped he was right.
"Elena has always been very healthy and strong, Damon," Isobel tried to reassure not only her son-in-law, but also herself.
"In no time all of you will be able to see her," Alex addressed the rest of the family, as Damon signaled he was ready to follow him.
"Was there any complication with her?" Damon said as they approached the NICU.
"She's absolutely healthy, Damon. I don't think we'll need to keep her in the NICU for very long at all, we're just keeping her a few hours to make sure. She's breathing on her own, I didn't detect any digestive issues. Just jaundice, but that's a normal occurrence even in full term babies. She'll just stay a few hours in a Bilirubin bed, but that's it," the surgeon explained.
"What is this bed?" he asked still a little lost. He was supposed to be happy walking to meet his daughter for the first time, but the bittersweet feeling consuming his chest didn't allow him to fully enjoy that moment.
"It's just a place where she'll be under the lights, so her skin won't be as yellow because of the excessive amount of bilirubin underneath her skin," he continued, and Damon nodded.
"Okay," Damon said almost mechanically.
"Damon, the reason I'm bringing you here is because your daughter needs her father while her mother can't be here. I can't tell you how Elena is doing, but your daughter needs you regardless of what is going on in that OR," the doctor offered as they stopped by the NICU's door, and a nurse handed a gown to Damon.
"I can't, Alex. I can't be there for her if I don't know if Elena will make it," Damon broke down, feeling like all strength had been drained from him.
"You have to, Damon. And you have to be there for Gabriel too. He's scared and he misses his mother and father. Elena can't be with him now, but you can," Alex reached for Damon's arm offering his support. The doctor had heard about the toddler role in his mother's condition and he could only imagine how Damon was feeling in that moment.
"I honestly can't, Alex. I can't look at him knowing that he was the cause his mother fell. I know it makes me a horrible father, but I can't help how I feel," the raven-haired man confessed, really embarrassed by those words, but still they expressed how he felt in that moment.
"Just look into his eyes, Damon. When I look into Chloe's eyes, I find all the strength, the bravery, the love I need," Dr. Karev suggested, and Damon took a deep breath before nodding quietly.
"Ready?"Alex asked after Damon seemed to have finished with the hospital gown.
"As ready as possible," the tired man muttered, and Alex only nodded, leading him to the bed where baby Salvatore was.
But the moment his eyes finally laid in the small girl, any thoughts of her mother were momentarily forgotten.
"She's so beautiful," he said quietly.
"Another Salvatore carbon copy," Alex offered taking the baby from the lights and handing her to her father.
"We have a strong blood," he smiled looking at the baby that seemed very aware of her surroundings, the noises coming from the machines close to them and the adults' voices.
"As I promised I will try to have news on Elena, you can ask anything you need to the nurse," Alex said and Damon barely looked up at the doctor to thank him.
He was absolutely mesmerized by the girl in his arms.
She had big eyes, like her mother, but they were blue, like her father's, her little hair was black, and as far as he could say she had his nose, his mouth, his ears. She looked in fact much more yellow than he expected. But still it seemed like an angel was looking back at him. And she seemed so alert. He didn't know why, but he expected babies at her age to be really quiet, especially if they were premature.
Damon started to talk to his baby daughter, and he didn't know what happened, but then baby held an expression on her face that just reminded him of the first time he saw his son. His daughter was her brother's carbon copy, and in that moment Damon felt his heart breaking for the other baby he completely ignored for the past hours.
"Nurse, please, I need to go, I don't know if I'm just supposed to lay her back on the bed," Damon said to the woman sitting a few meters from him.
"I'll take care of her for you, daddy. After a little more time under the bilirubin light I think she'll be able to leave soon," the nurse offered, and Damon only nodded, getting out, and finally getting rid of the gown once he reached outside.
The hospital was a maze, and Damon had never been in that wing before. It took him more than twenty minutes, but with the help of staff he finally entered the waiting room again.
Stefan was there with Caroline, her arm resting against his shoulder. Pastor Norman was also there, he didn't leave, but Damon couldn't see Pearl and Gabriel anywhere.
"Where is Gaby?" he asked when he didn't find the one person he wanted to see.
"Pearl left with him. He was crying a lot, nothing would make him stop," Isobel said, her eyes puff and red, as if she had been crying along with her grandson the whole time.
"Call her, ask her to come back here," Damon said, as he headed towards the hospital entrance.
"She probably didn't even make it to the car, Damon, she left five minutes ago," Caroline said, but her future brother-in-law barely heard.
"I'm calling her, you go with him," John offered to Stefan, who went after his brother.
"Damon," he called as his brother entered the elevator.
"She's probably reaching the parking lot. They just left," the younger Salvatore explained.
"I need my son, Stefan. I need to see Gaby," was the only thing Damon said, hitting the first floor button on the elevator control panel.
"How is the baby? Did you pick a name yet?" Stefan asked, trying to calm his brother down. He knew Damon; he knew he was a step away from a breakdown.
"She's perfect. We chose two names. Elena said we should look at her face and see which one fits her better," he said when the lifter finally stopped.
"Mr. Salvatore," Pearl called once Damon and Stefan stepped outside the hospital. She was holding a crying Gabriel. His heart dropped when he realized how desperate his little boy sounded. He probably didn't understand what was going on with his mother, but maybe he could feel she wasn't well. Just like his father wasn't either.
"Give him to me, Pearl, you can actually go home if you want, I'll take care of him from now," Damon said, taking the toddler in his arms. He rocked Gabriel and soothed the baby, and as if it was magic, the blue-eyed boy stopped crying just a few seconds later.
"I think he's hungry, I'll go to the mansion take a few diapers, clean clothes, and I'll bring something for him to eat," she offered, and Damon nodded, thanking her for the help.
"I think it's better to stay with him outside, Damon. As soon as Dr. Meredith or Alex comes to give us news, I'll call you," Stefan suggested, and Damon agreed silently, just rocking his son, kissing his hair, and holding him as close as he could.
"Damon," someone said behind him, and when he turned he saw the minister who had quietly offered support and prayers for him and his family. Damon didn't know why, but only his presence in the waiting room, and the brief prayer he did earlier, helped him a lot.
"I wish I could stay more, but I have some visits to do, people who also need me," the middle-aged man said, feeling guilty for not being able to stay longer, he knew Damon needed him, even when he 'hadn't said anything in the past couple of hours.
"Thanks, Pastor Norman," Damon said with genuine gratitude.
"Bye, Gabriel," the middle-aged man said to the toddler that was much calmer since his father took him in his arms. "She will get better, Damon. Remember the words I said on your wedding day?"
"How can love make a difference now?"
"I said love is the answer when hope and faith fails, but now it's time for you to believe, to keep the faith, to count on God, because as hard as those doctors can work, some things only God can fix. We don't know if that's Elena's case. But whatever it is, he can help," the man offered with his usual calm and serene voice.
"I ignored God's existence for most of my life, why do you think he'll listen to me now?" Damon said, hopelessly, while he stroked Gabriel's hair.
"Damon, God is your father, the same way you're holding your son now, and trying to do the best for him, even though you blame him for all of this, God is waiting you with arms wide open, even if you chose to ignore him before," the pastor explained, and Damon actually felt his eyes tearing up. The minister said goodbye, saying he would came back later with his wife to check on Elena and the baby, knowing Damon would need him.
He thought about the words the pastor just said. He looked at the baby in his arms, and in that moment he knew no matter what Gabriel did, he would always be there for his son. He couldn't stop loving him, especially because all he did was drop a toy. It was just bad luck. And holding the baby closer to him, he looked to the sky above. It was a beautiful day, almost no clouds in the sky.
"I need your help. Fix her, we need her. They need her, I need her. I need you," Damon said, rocking his baby, and mentally praying a few more words.
He spent at least another hour outside when he finally felt his phone vibrating in his pocket.
Meredith is here, he read the text from his brother, and immediately he entered the hospital with Gabriel.
"Meredith, how is she?" Damon asked as soon as he spotted the blonde.
"She's stable. She had a major bleed; it was compromising her uterus…"
"I don't care about her uterus, Meredith, we have two kids, if she ever wants more, we'll surrogate, adopt, whatever," he interrupted the doctor.
"She was able to fix it, Damon," Alex offered, but Damon didn't care. Stable didn't mean okay.
"How is she really doing, Meredith?" Damon asked, nervous about the answer. Sensing his father's mood changing, prompted Gabriel to start whimpering in his arms.
"It's okay, Gaby, Auntie Mer will just let us know that Mommy will be awake in a few minutes, and we'll meet her and your baby sister," he spoke softly to his son, while his eyes pleaded with the doctor to confirm his words.
"We don't know when she'll wake up yet, Damon," Meredith said quietly, but looking straight at his eyes.
"But do you know she will, right?" his voice cracked with the implication of his words, but he couldn't not ask that.
"We hope she does. She crashed twice on the table, she has a concussion, a minor one, but still. Taking the doctor badge away, I expect her to wake up. It was serious, but nothing this major to keep her from waking up," Meredith said, and for the first time in her career she was sharing a personal opinion, instead of saying what she knew for sure.
"When she crashed, do you think there were any… problems?" John asked, moving his arm to rest on his son-in-law's shoulder.
"We can't say for sure until she wakes up. It took us a while to bring her back the second time," the doctor explained, and Damon felt like he couldn't bring air to his lungs.
"Damon, I expect her to wake, to be healthy, and to have as many more babies with you as you want," she said giving his hand a squeeze.
"Thank you, Mer," he said, using the nick name she told him and Elena they could use.
"You're welcome, you can see any of your ladies, when you want. The baby is going to be transferred to the nursery fairly soon, but until then you can visit as often as you need to in the NICU. She doesn't have any heart, stomach or lungs issues. She's totally healthy except for the jaundice which is somewhat common, nothing to worry about, and nothing a few hours under the lights won't solve," she said offering him a hug, and a kiss on Gabriel's cheek, before she left with her husband.
"Daddy," Gabriel said, seeing how the tears were slowly falling down his father's face.
"I'm here, Buddy, let's go check on your little sister, what do you say?" he said walking towards the nurse station. He could face his baby son, but he couldn't face the adults. He couldn't take the look he knew he would find in their faces. Isobel was about to follow him, when John reached her arm. As much as they were also anxious to see the baby, and have something to put a smile on their faces now, he knew Damon needed to have a moment with his two kids before the rest of them approached.
A nurse instructed him how to reach the NICU, because he honestly couldn't remember how to get there.
"Is there a problem if he gets inside with me?" he asked the nurse by the door.
"Might I ask which baby is yours?"she asked. She wasn't the same nurse that had been there when he entered with Alex earlier.
"Salvatore," he said, and she offered to bring the baby outside instead of giving him the trouble to get himself and Gabriel in NICU gowns.
"She's going to the nursery shortly, Dr. Karev already signed her discharge papers from the NICU," the nurse explained as she brought the baby out from the special bed to Damon's arms.
"Thanks a lot, is it possible for me to bring her now to my wife's bedroom? Elena Salvatore. She's just out of surgery and I'd like our daughter to be there when she wakes up," he asked, knowing it would make Elena happy to wake up to see their daughter.
"I'll ask a nurse to accompany you," she said taking the phone, and dialing somewhere.
Damon crouched and showed an exciting Gabriel his sister.
"This is your baby sister, Gaby, see how beautiful she is? You have to promise Daddy to keep an eye on her. There will be tons of boys lining up outside our front door when she's older," he said as Gabriel looked curious at the baby in his father's arms.
"Clo?" he asked.
"No, Gabriel, this is not Chloe, this is your sister. Chloe is Auntie Mer's," he explained, but he was positive the toddler didn't understand. Gabriel had met the doctors' daughter only three times, but it had been enough for him to be crazy about her. Meredith thought it was because being with Elena and Damon in almost all appointments, maybe he could already understand he was going to be a big brother. Damon didn't think it was possible for a fourteen-month baby to understand it already, but Meredith said they were much smarter than we thought, they just couldn't say it.
"Mr. Salvatore, this is Nurse Johnson, she'll accompany you to your wife's bedroom. Your girl will have to come back to the light bed in a couple of hours. She had just fed, you don't need to worry about it until we take her again," the older nurse explained, and he thanked her, before walking holding his daughter with one arm, and his son's hand with his free hand.
"I think my family is still outside waiting for us, Elena's parents, my brother Stefan Salvatore and his girlfriend Caroline Forbes, could you get them here, please?" Damon said as soon as they stopped in front of a hospital room.
"Of course, Mr. Salvatore," the nurse nodded, opening the door for him to get inside.
He expected a lot of tubes to be connected to his wife's body, but there was only an IV. She looked peaceful sleeping, just like she looked that morning when he left and the tears he finally could hold back were once again running freely on his face. Once again he made a silent prayer. He knew God wouldn't do that to him. He wouldn't take Elena away from him. He couldn't be sure of that, but he tried to. Pastor Norman said all he needed to do was believe, and he was putting a lot of effort on keeping any other thought out of his head. His wife would wake up, and he hoped it would be soon. He didn't know if he could handle Elena being in a coma, even if only for one day.
He looked around and realized there was nowhere for him to put his daughter, although he knew as soon as Stefan and Caroline entered the room they would want to hold her. They were both crazy about Gabriel, and he knew they would fall in love with his baby girl at first sight, just like did. And there was also John and Isobel. They were the most spoiling grandparents Damon had ever seen, and he knew they could use the good news to cope with having their daughter unconscious in a hospital bed.
"Mommy is sleeping, Gaby," he answered to his son who keeping calling for his mother, "She'll wake up soon, she's resting. Remember when we went to Auntie Mer's office and you saw a baby inside mommy's belly? Mommy just give birth to your sister, she needs to sleep. Why don't we play with Tina, huh?" Damon said, sitting in one of the chairs by the bed's side.
"Mama," the boy repeated.
"Come here, Buddy," Damon said, but Gabriel let go of his father's grip on his arm and ran towards his mother's bed, crying for her.
Just in that moment John, Isobel, Stefan and Caroline entered the room, and the blond couldn't stop herself from speaking when she saw the little boy crying for his mother, "Oh my God,"
Damon was already on his way to get Gabriel, but when he saw his family, he changed his path, and walked towards them. "Here, take care of her, I'll take care of him," he said to Isobel, handing the girl to her.
"Nurse Johnson, could you please ask them to bring a bassinet to the room? I know the baby has to take light showers later, but until it's time it'd be good to have somewhere for her to sleep," he said while he walked to where his son was, and took him in his arms.
The nurse agreed, and he thanked her, trying to soothe Gabriel.
"She's beautiful, Damon," Isobel offered weakly. They had been through so much already; this was a moment that was supposed to be filled with happiness and happiness only. Gabriel wasn't supposed to be crying over his unconscious mother, and Damon wasn't supposed to look like he was about to break down.
"She looks a lot like Gaby," John offered, taking the girl in his arms.
"She is her father's carbon copy. Should I have any hope our kids will take anything from me? The Salvatore blood seems to be invincible," Caroline joked, and the adults smiled, but those weren't genuine smiles.
"We talked to Ric and Bex, they're coming over," Stefan said, stretching his arms, so he could also hold the baby a little, but before Damon could say anything someone knocked on the door.
"Mr. Salvatore, your nanny just dropped these off," the nurse said handling the man three big bags and a thermal bag. He recognized the babies' bags, they had just bought the lilac to their girl, and the worn blue one has been Gabriel's since he was born. Elena refused to buy a new one.
He inspected the third quickly and realized Pearl or Rosa had packed Elena's bag too. He really hoped his wife had a chance to wear her maternity clothes instead of the hospital horrible gown. And he didn't need to open the other bag to know he would find a complete meal, enough to feed everyone in the room. Rosa had always been thoughtful, and he was thankful for her care. His family needed to eat.
"I'll feed him and put him to sleep," Caroline offered.
"No, I'll do it. Let the girl hold the baby, Stefan. You know she's crazy to have one herself, not only you will you not give her one already, but you won't let her hold Baby Salvatore," Damon said to his brother, in a feeble attempt of joking.
He found Gabriel's bottle, preferring it over the mashed vegetables Pearl sent in a Tupperware and gave it to his son, who sucked it strongly. Isobel commented that she had given him a banana while they were waiting, but it didn't seem like he was satisfied yet.
"Here you are," Meredith said entering the room, looking at the girl in Caroline's arms, "I haven't had a chance to take a good look at her. Alex promptly took her away from me," she offered extending her arms, and Caroline reluctantly gave her the quiet girl. Everyone wanted a little bit of her.
"I thought Elena would be in an ICU room," Damon said.
"She's stable, Damon. She's breathing on her own, she's just dehydrated because she lost a lot of blood, I told you I expect her to wake up, soon even," the doctor offered, while she smiled to the girl in her arms, but the baby was too sleepy to pay any attention.
"Is this kind of recovery expected?" Isobel asked.
"After crashing twice? Not really. I expected Elena to need at least a ventilator, but she's doing great breathing by herself," the doctor explained, and looking at the depressed and longing look in Caroline's eyes, she decided to hand the baby back to her aunt.
"Well, while I'm here, I'll check her vitals," Meredith offered, walking to the bed. She measured Elena's blood pressure, heard her heart, and opened her eyes to check her orbs.
"Everything is absolutely normal, now all we have to do is wait," she said when she turned to Damon.
"Once again, thank you Mer. I know you were still on your maternity leave," he said, more coherently this time.
"You have my private number, Damon. Anything you need, call me. I just wanted to take a look at your daughter before I left to check on Chloe. By the way did you and Elena pick up a name yet?"
"We have two options, but we decided we would take a look at her face and see which fitted her better," he explained, and the doctor only nodded, offering him a small, but honest smile, before she greeted her farewell and left.
Time passed, but nothing changed. Alaric and Rebekah stopped and went by, the nurse took his daughter to the light bed, and then brought her back to the room again, but nothing changed. Damon said to his brother and his girlfriend to go home, and take Gabriel with them, who was already sleeping for at least a couple of hours. John and Isobel decided to stay with their son-in-law, and the three of them waited patiently for the brunette in the bed to show any sign of recovery. But she didn't.
Damon called Rose to tell the good – and the bad – news, and the Brit assured him she would come to visit as soon as she could get a leave from her job. It was a good thing she was dating the boss, and that wouldn't be a big problem. He knew he needed his best friend if his wife didn't wake up soon. She's the one who had been there for him when he lost Cecilia, when he lost Giuseppe, but he couldn't allow his thoughts to drift to the possibility of losing Elena. He kept reminding himself he had to believe. There wasn't any alternative, there wasn't a second option, there wasn't anything else he'd take.
"Are you spending the night?" Isobel asked, although she knew the answer too well.
"I'm going to your house, if you don't mind. Maybe Stefan and Caroline will need help with Gabriel," she offered, and he nodded.
"Thanks a lot, Isobel, for everything," he said hugging his mother-in-law.
"I'm also heading home, Damon. Call me if you need anything," the blond also hugged the younger man. The bad air between them had long ago been cleared.
"Will do," he said, and bidding them goodbye, Damon turned to his wife. That was the first time he was alone with her since he arrived at the hospital longer than ten hours ago.
"I know you like Sofia better, but once you see her face you'll agree with me. She doesn't look like a Sofia, but we could always name our next baby girl that," Damon said, holding his wife's hand, tears once again making the tiredness of his features even more noticeable.
"But if you look at her and think she looks like a Sofia, we'll name her Sofia," he continued talking.
"I know you're mentally rolling your eyes, thinking that I'm biased, but what can I say? We both knew my name would beat yours, I'm that good, Baby," he said, his tears intensifying.
"But I'm nothing without you here, Elena. I need you to open your eyes," he pleaded with his wife, his voice barely audible.
"You're cocky," her voice was hoarse and low, but still he heard it.
"Elena! Please tell me you just spoke and I'm not imagining that," he said, cupping his wife's face on his hands. Her eyes were still closed, and he was already thinking he was going crazy, when her lips broke into a weak smile.
"Light, too bright," she said, and he immediately reached the switch, turning it off.
"Water," she said feeling her throat dry even for only speaking a few words.
He put a glass of water but he couldn't find any straw. Maybe because they forgot or weren't expecting her to wake up already. But it didn't matter. She was awake, she was talking, she was holding a glass of water, even if he had to help her.
"How do you feel?"
"Tired, hurting," she said between small sips of water. "Where is she?" she asked, and Damon was thankful for the baby being in the room in that moment, and not in the light bed as he started to call it.
"She's a princess, the most beautiful baby girl, ever" he took the baby from the bassinet and carefully placed her on her mother's chest, careful not to move Elena too much but allowing her closeness to their daughter.
"She's so beautiful," Elena said, tearing up.
"She's perfect," he agreed, also being unable to contain his tears; that was how it was supposed to be. The two of them welcoming their baby girl, stunned by her cuteness and beauty, pouring happy tears. But just like that all the pain he felt the whole day was gone.
"I have to agree, she doesn't look like a Sofia," Elena said a moment later.
"No, she doesn't," he simply said, while they continued drooling over their sleeping daughter.
"Are her eyes blue?"
"Do you really have any doubts about it?" he chuckled, and she looked at him, happily, shaking her head.
"I'm calling your parents. Maybe they didn't even make it to the parking lot. I'm sure they would want to talk to the nurses or on call doctors before they left," he offered, and she nodded her head while he called John.
Both her mother and father were already driving home, but they would be back soon. They would call Stefan and Caroline to let them know, as well as Alex and Meredith, and she nodded when he informed her of that.
"I love you; don't scare me like this ever again," he said, leaning closer and kissing her forehead.
"I love you, too," she answered, closing her eyes, as their foreheads stayed connected, while she held their girl between their bodies.
"He looks really adorable," Damon offered seeing Gabriel running in his tuxedo.
"Adorable? He already looks like a heartbreaker. At age two!" Elena smiled as she watched her baby boy. No matter how old – and fast he grew – he would always be her baby.
"If you think Gabriel is going to be the heartbreaker, you just wait for this one here," Damon said playing with his daughter who was wide awake in the stroller in front of them.
"That's because both of them are your spitting image," Elena said, rolling her eyes. She hated to feed his already huge ego, but she couldn't help. Their kids were absolutely beautiful, and they had nothing from her. They were all Damon.
"I think Gaby has a crush on Chloe," Damon chuckled as his son went to where Meredith and Alex were sitting with their baby girl.
"She's a princess, I can't blame him," Elena leaned against her husband's chest, happily watching the happy people around them.
"Still she doesn't hold a candle to our little Tina," Damon said, while he continued playing with the girl.
"She has such a pretty name, I don't like when you call her Tina," Elena complained.
"You didn't seem to agree about her pretty name nine months ago," he smirked.
"But you were right; she does look like a Valentina. This is such a delicate, yet strong name, and you reduced it to something like Tina?"
"I surrender, but you must agree Valentina is too long. And she'll complain that Gaby has a nickname and she doesn't," he reasoned, and once again Elena found herself rolling her eyes, but nothing he said or did could brush away the silly smile she had on her face the whole afternoon.
"Please, tell me it's time to cut the cake," a very pregnant Caroline interrupted the cuddling couple.
"Come on, Blondie, we barely sat down from the first dance," Damon complained, he really didn't want to leave Elena now. He had already said to the photographers to come in twenty minutes, because he wanted to enjoy his wife's presence. They couldn't really discuss it with him, but Caroline was a completely different story.
"You know I love you and him, but Pastor Norman actually spoke for two hours while I was standing there. I'm six months along, but I feel like I'm twelve, my legs hurt, my arms hurt, my feet hurt and I'm hungry!" the blonde protested, just when her boyfriend fiancée joined her.
"That's your problem, Blondie, not ours. You were both aware of this day when you decided to give Gabriel and Valentina competition," Damon smirked.
"We didn't exactly plan it, and you know it, do you think I wanted to look this fat in the pictures?" the pregnant woman pouted.
"And if memory serves, you were the one that kept saying we should get our own kids so we would stop drooling over yours," Stefan said when he joined them.
"And do you blame me, Stef? Every time I arrived home and went to Valentina's room either you or Blondie were there. I think you two spent more time with her than Elena and I did," it was Damon's turn to protest, while Elena kept chuckling by his side. She only learned recently that Damon loved to banter with Caroline. Things were finally normal in the Salvatore household, although they still missed Giuseppe a lot, but they weren't grieving anymore. Or dealing with complicated and risky premature labors.
"There's food being served, Caroline, don't you think you can wait a little longer? We actually have to take some pictures before we cut the cake," Elena decided to intervene. She knew what being pregnant was, and poor Caroline was looking miserable.
"But I'm craving the cake, Elena. Look how beautiful it looks. I'm sure it'll melt in my mouth, I still remember the taste from the sample, I had dreams about that sample for weeks," the blonde said, and she really sounded desperate.
"Remembering I had to let you eat most samples while I didn't so just because you're pregnant won't make me move from here any sooner," Damon smirked, but when he looked from Valentina to Caroline, he actually felt for the blonde. She was on verge of tears, and he just thanked God once again Elena was never that emotional during her pregnancy.
"Okay, I'll call the photographers, we'll take the pictures, and we'll cut the cake, although nobody will understand why we're doing it before dinner is even served," he finally agreed.
"I love you, Damon," she said, honestly thankful.
"Doesn't everybody?" he said, kissing Elena's side, and saying he was going to find the photographers.
"The ceremony was really beautiful, Elena, even if I had to stand for two hours, we're definitely asking Pastor Norman to officiate our wedding too," Caroline said, taking the seat Damon just vacated.
"I know. I still can't believe my mascara resisted so many tears. It was water proof and all, but that was more like waterfall," she chuckled, the blond following her.
"I'll go get Rose and Meredith, I suppose you need the two bridesmaids for the pictures," Stefan offered, and the ladies thanked him. Caroline waited until he was some feet away from them, already talking to Meredith when she spoke again.
"Don't tell him I told you, but we're also having a girl!" Caroline barely contained her excitement.
"I knew you came home different from your appointment yesterday," Elena said, before hugging her friend and congratulating her.
"Poor Meredith, she had to deal with me changing my mind about knowing the sex for at least six times," Caroline said, looking guiltily.
"We all knew you wouldn't last four more months, Love," Stefan said coming behind them, accompanied by Rose and Elijah.
"How can you be here? I just saw you walking… there…" she pointed to the opposite direction he came from, defeated and feeling even guiltier.
"But I knew you wouldn't keep it a secret for a day, I'm surprised Elena and Damon didn't find out last night," he chuckled kissing her head.
"Well, as we're sharing happy news here, Elijah and I also have some," Rose offered with a big smile, while she held her husband's hand.
"You can't be pregnant, you just married three weeks ago," Damon said, approaching the table.
"Are you seriously going to lecture me about getting pregnant before getting married, Damon? If I remember correctly you and Elena weren't married when both of your children were conceived," she chuckled, but she could feel Elijah feeling tense by her side. He actually thought it was sort of a big deal to get his fiancée pregnant before they were officially married.
"So are you pregnant too?" Elena stood up, turning to hug her friend who happily nodded.
"Another baby on the way?" Meredith said approaching them, holding Chloe in her arms, while Alex rested his hand on her back.
"Yes, and we're seriously considering moving here so you can be our doctor, Meredith," Rose said between hugs from her friends congratulating her.
Meredith laughed, while she also approached the Brit to offer her congratulations, when Elijah finally spoke.
"She's been plaguing me about it since we found out," he said, and the rest of them were actually surprised Rose was being serious.
"What can I say? When Elena and Caroline shared with me how great you are, I didn't want anything else. And Klaus has been planning to open an office in New York for a long time now," she turned to Meredith, and then to her husband.
"See? My wife is getting so famous that she has people moving from overseas," Alex said kissing her hair.
"Don't feel less important, Alex. Elena and Isobel say they've never met a pediatric like you," Rose offered rubbing her hand against her still flat stomach.
"Well this is all wonderful and great, I'm really happy for you Rose, Elijah, Meredith and Alex, but the fat pregnant woman in the room can't wait to eat one layer of that cake all by herself, can we move to that table and take those pictures already?" Caroline blurted, and everyone else broke into laughs, even Elijah, who was always so uptight and controlled.
They took the pictures, danced, laughed of Stefan and Caroline's speeches, the best man and the maid of honor. And after a lot of food, talking, and laugh, Damon and Elena were finally heading to their honeymoon, their first, even if a year after they were officially husband and wife.
"Thanks for today, everything has been perfect," he said while they sat in the back of the limousine taking them to the hotel room where they would sleep before they traveled to Bora Bora the following morning.
"I didn't do it only for you, but you definitely deserved this and much more," she contently answered while she lay in his arms.
"I can't be thankful enough for everything you brought to my life, Elena," he said, intertwining his fingers with hers.
"Neither can I, so let's just thank God for giving us everything," she said closing her eyes, the day's events finally taking their toll on her.
"We do have everything," he contemplated for a while, thinking about what he had in his life.
"Yes, we do,"
"But the one thing I have to thank him the most is right now in my arms. The kids, the wedding, the company, nothing is more important or makes me happier than you do," he said, changing his position to look in her eyes as he spoke.
"Don't you think you already made me cry enough with the vows?" she said, genuinely tearing up with his words.
"I can't help how I feel," he said pecking her on the lips.
"I feel just the same way, and I knew the day I first lay eyes on you that I would never forget you, Damon Salvatore, I would never have any other man in my life. With one look you ruined me for any other man forever," she said, stroking his cheek softly.
"I love you,"
"I love you, too,"
AN: So this is it. I'm sorry for the long delay. I usually take longer to write my epilogues. Also my beta had been really busy and it took her a few days too. But here it is. I really feel like I was in the journey with them, and they're finally happy. My readers know I can't help it, I always write sappy happy endings. Life is already hard, so let the fiction be hard, but at least end well, right?
I really want to thank to everyone who read, reviewed, favorite'd and put it on alert. More than 300 readers put an alert on this story and and more than 200 favorite'd it. It's really amazing, and I can't thank enough - I lack better words in English. It was great to have you with me in this journey.
I really appreciate Daniela's hard work and dedication with my story. I can't thank her enough even though I asked someone else to edit the epilogue.
Avecia, was my beta through most of this story and to the epilogue and she's someone special for me. Without her I'm not sure this story would have been like this. When I was through the hardest part, she was there with me, giving ideas, pointing stuff, but most of all supporting me. That's not the first story we did together, but this one cemented one of the greatest friendships I've ever built through internet. She's an amazing girl, who I really love, and who deserves the best in her life. I hope she conquers it all. And she's also a great writer. I can't thank enough her dedication (I know how busy she's been and she found time for me), her input, her friendship, her support, her care for me and for this story. This story is dedicated to her, and if someday I decide to make it a book, I'll make sure to dedicate it to her there too. I love you, sweetie. From the bottom of my heart.
I have a new AH story coming soon, and I have a canon going on (it's already on chapter 15) so you'll hear (read) more from me soon.
Also, thanks a lot for everyone who's been through this with me.The name to baby Salvatore is a homage to one of you (as she must already know)!