A/N: Here is the last installment. I want to thank all of you who have looked in, and commented on my TVD therapy session. I've been really touched that so many of you left a comment with your own thoughts and feelings about what is happening on the show. This has been so different from the other stories I've written, but I really needed this. I now pronounce my therapy session complete.
Lots of Love,
"Finally," Katherine muttered. "This has been coming all night. Who can't you live without, Elena? Is it Stefan, or is it Damon?"
Tonight We Tell The Truth: Part 4
"I can live without both of them," Elena told her. "I would continue to breathe, and my heart would continue to beat no matter who was here."
Katherine pursed her lips. Elena was aware that Katherine had intended the question differently, but the potion made her answer the question truthfully. And the truth was that she wasn't going to literally die if they weren't here.
Katherine stood up and walked in front of Stefan, so the two of them faced her and Damon. How had it come to this? How had she and Stefan ended up on opposite sides?
Katherine looked between Damon and Stefan. "Elena doesn't think twice about dangling you boys on a string, and you think I'm a cold heartless bitch."
Damon stepped forward, and Elena wondered what kind of expression he was wearing as he aggressively addressed Katherine.
"You are a cold heartless bitch. Make no mistake about that."
"I look out for myself. I don't pretend otherwise."
"You think I pretend otherwise?" Elena asked, stepping out from behind Damon, feeling the need to defend herself.
"You have the two of them completely fooled," Katherine told her. "You've played both of them just as beautifully as I did."
"You tore them apart. I have never treated them the way you did."
"Is that what you tell yourself? You say you love both of them, and yet you won't set either one of them free. You want to take a cold hard look in the mirror, Elena."
"You wanted the affection of both of them. I never asked for that. I never wanted both of them to love me," Elena told her angrily.
In the moment of silence which followed, Elena wondered if tonight could possibly get any worse. She hadn't meant it like that, even if it was the truth.
"Do you hear that, Damon?" Katherine purred. "She never wanted you to love her. She doesn't want your love."
"Oh, I hear it," Damon said through gritted teeth. "It's not the surprise you were hoping for, Katherine."
"How very noble of you, Damon, to stand there and defend someone who considers your love such a burden."
"That's me," Damon said, smiling a smile devoid of any humor. "I'm just the epitome of selfless."
"She has treated you worse than I ever did."
"She never tried to have me killed."
"True. But I've been honest with you since I came back."
"No you haven't," Damon told her.
"Fine then, I have been honest about my feelings for you since I came back."
"Can't thank you enough for that, and why do you care, anyway?"
"It's extremely annoying to have to watch and listen to the two of you walking around this house thinking she's some perfect version of me."
"You could have left, and not come back."
"But I'm not done here."
"Of course not. You're too busy hoping Stefan will have a memory lapse and forget what a self-serving slut you are."
"Enough," Stefan told both them impatiently.
Damon looked at the pinched expression on Stefan's face, the panic-stricken expression on Elena's face, and the look victory on Katherine's face, and wondered why he was waiting until tomorrow to leave.
"You're right," Damon told his brother.
"Where are you going?" Stefan asked with frustration, as Damon began to walk away.
"To get an early start on packing."
"You wanted to play this game, Damon. Now you're going to see it through."
Damon faced his brother. "What I wanted, Stefan, was to cut through the bullshit for a night. We've done that. The game is over."
"Elena still has to decide what she wants; who she wants."
"She wants you."
"She loves us both."
"It's never made a difference before. Why should it matter now?"
"She has to choose."
"No, she doesn't. She never wanted this choice, and she never wanted me to love her." He looked at her, and Elena felt something like a knife twisting in her heart. "I'm not an option. Not anymore." He looked at Stefan. "Now you just have to decide if Katherine is leaving or staying." He turned to Elena. "And you have to work out if Stefan lying and keeping Katherine here is okay. Problem sorted."
"Good for you, Damon," Katherine sung out as he walked away.
Damon never turned around, but he put his hand up as if to wave goodbye to all of them. It was as Damon vanished from view that Elena finally realized, it wasn't always Stefan. It was Damon who she was meant to be with. It was Damon she would suffer the most without. It was Damon she would gain the most from being with. But if she'd ever had any real chance of making things right with the vampire who had stood by her, and waited for her to come to the same conclusion he had come to long ago, it was gone. He wasn't an option, not anymore.
She'd been too busy worrying about protecting everybody else's feelings to even work out what she felt. He had loved her, defended her, protected her, and always been honest with her, and she loved him. She wanted nothing more than to tell Damon how she felt, and to ask for another chance, but she still had to deal with Stefan.
"Why is Katherine still here?" she asked Stefan calmly.
"She wants me to leave with her."
"Why haven't you told her you won't be leaving with her? Why hasn't she gone?"
"Because I don't know if I want to leave yet or not."
"Well I think that says it all."
"You're making an excuse so that when you pick him, you can blame it on me."
It was the first time Elena had really thought of Stefan as a coward. He wanted her to pick Damon so he could blame their failed relationship on her. He'd been so distant with her, and now Elena saw it for what it was; a passive-aggressive approach to end their relationship.
Tonight had revealed she didn't know Stefan, not the real Stefan. She had looked at him and seen what she wanted to see, and he had given her the version of himself that he had wanted her to see. Painfully, Elena acknowledged that Katherine likely knew and understood Stefan better than she did.
"You stood there tonight and demanded I choose between you and you brother, but tonight I've seen a whole other side to you. I don't even know who you are."
"I guess I shouldn't be surprised you'd choose him," he told her bitterly.
"This isn't about Damon, Stefan."
He looked so angry and disappointed in her, and Elena thought she'd fallen off the pedestal he had kept her on. Damon had seen her, flaws and all, and loved her anyway, but Stefan hadn't looked close enough, or he hadn't wanted to. They had both had their illusions stripped away tonight, and they were seeing each other clearly for the first time. Stefan was still shaking his head.
"Katherine told me you'd pick Damon."
It didn't matter what she said to him right now, he was going to blame this on her feelings for Damon. She was picking Damon, but it wasn't the reason their relationship over.
"She was right," Elena told him, giving him the answer he wanted. He wouldn't have accepted any other response.
"I knew it," Stefan said to her. "All along, I knew this would happen."
"Then you knew it before I did."
"All the things he did, and you forgave him every time. There was always something between you two."
"Whatever it is you saw, Stefan, I ignored it. I chose not to act on it. I hurt him, so that I wouldn't hurt you."
Stefan didn't say anything, just kept looking at her.
"I put you before him; I put us before him. I knew I was hurting him, but I did it anyway; even with everything I felt for him."
God, she knew how wrong that sounded, but she'd done what she thought was right. She hadn't wanted to be like Katherine.
"You were supposed to put me first," Stefan told her.
"And I did, but you didn't put us first. Katherine is still here, and you couldn't be honest with me about why, or what you felt. Damon is leaving, because he came to the conclusion I'd always choose you. Katherine would have left too, if you'd given her reason to think the same. We're over, Stefan. We've been over for a while now. "
"You're right," he said to her finally, sitting down and putting his head in his hands.
Elena watched Katherine sit down next to him, and try and comfort him. Katherine giving comfort was something Elena had never seen before, but there it was, right in front of her. Stefan and Katherine's relationship, despite being fraught with deceit, tragedy, and death, was more real than the one she had shared with Stefan.
Leaving them to have their moment, she made her way to Damon's room. She stood in the doorway for a while, watching him pack. If she'd ever had to imagine saying goodbye to Damon, she would have pictured crying, and screaming, and lots and lots of anger. It was eerie and unsettling for things to be so calm and quiet between them. They should be fighting, or yelling; not standing there in complete silence.
"I broke up with Stefan," she told him.
His gaze flicked upwards for a brief moment, before returning to the suitcase he was filling.
"Are you okay?" he asked her.
"Do you want a ride home?"
Now they were being polite, and that was worse than the silence. She put her hands in her back pockets, to keep from fidgeting.
"I wanted to say thank you, for tonight."
He looked at her now, his eyes locking with hers.
"It was hard to hear, but I know the truth now."
He nodded, before going back to his packing.
A lump formed in her throat as she walked into his room. "I never wanted to hurt you, Damon."
"You were right, there is something going on between us, Damon. I just never wanted to be like her."
"I get it, Elena."
He was still so calm. Elena wondered if he had already mentally left Mystic Falls.
"Yes. I get it. You never wanted to be like Katherine."
"I thought I was doing the right thing. I thought that ignoring what was between us would save us all a lot of pain. I was wrong. I hurt you. I hurt Stefan."
She may have ruined her one chance at real happiness.
"He'll get over it."
She wanted to ask Damon if he would get over it, but she was afraid to hear his answer.
"Katherine will help him," Elena added.
"I should have figured they'd end up together," Damon said with a slight head shake and eye roll.
"They have a connection; just like we do," she told him.
"They do, huh?"
"He still loves her, after everything she put him through; put the two of you through. He'll forgive her, and they'll move past this."
She waited for him to say something. He didn't. She moved towards him, and stood right in front of him, and laid her palm against his cheek.
"Can we move past this?" she asked him.
"You tell me, Elena."
She cupped his face between her palms and pulled his face towards her. This time, when his lips touched hers, she didn't hold back. She let the love, the passion, and the need she felt for him, speak through her kiss and her touch. By the time she pulled away to breathe again, his arms were wrapped around her tightly.
"Is that enough of an answer for you?" she asked.
"I'm going to need more convincing than that," he told her, lowering his mouth to hers again.
She kissed him again, before breaking away.
"I want you to stay, Damon. Not because I can't live without you, or because Stefan will probably leave with Katherine. Not because I'm ready to act on what is between us. Not even because I love you, and I can finally see what you knew from the start."
"I want you to stay because you want to, and because you'll be happy here."
She'd been so selfish with him; she'd put everybody else before him. Now she just wanted him to be happy.
"This isn't about Stefan and Katherine?"
"No, Damon, this is about us."
"I love you, Elena."
Those words sounded so familiar. She was sure she'd heard him say them before. She was about to ask him about it, when he kissed her again; a toe curling kiss that sent heat zinging through her. Later; she would ask him about that later.