A/N: In keeping with my determination to post as much as possible while I have the time, I submit for your consideration this one-shot. It takes place after "The Dinner Guest" and contains spoiler's up to that point.

The song lyrics are from the song Crazy For This Girl by Evan & Jaron.

Rated T for language.

Stefan, Caroline and I have been on rotation guarding Elena's house at night. A couple of notes here; first off, Stefan got all alpha male, and tried to insist on doing it himself. Oddly enough, it was Caroline who objected. Without the littlest Lockwood around for her to babysit, she needs a new hobby, I suppose. Secondly, I don't really see what exactly we're guarding her from, at the moment. Elijah's dead, for all intents and purposes, and Katherine's pretty much under constant supervision at our house. Although, knowing Elena, some supernatural beastie will be along soon enough, thirsting for her blood, so we're hedging our bets.

No one actually told Elena about this… Or, at least, that was the plan. I guess that when I showed up for my first 'official' shift, waltzed right into her room, and announced my presence, she figured the rest out. She's smart like that.

So tonight, while I'm sitting on the roof outside of Elena's window (since apparently my actually being in her room makes her feel uncomfortable…), I'm surprised when a window slides open in the early hours of the morning, and a head of chestnut hair pops out.

"Damon," she whispers.

I'm down and in front of her window in a heartbeat. Which is saying something, because her heart is beating really fast.

"Good evening Elena. Fancy meeting you here."

For a second, I could have sworn that I saw her grinning. Then the grin faded into a small smile, and she leaned back through the window, inviting me in. I crawled through the tiny frame, and landed on the floor. I was surprised (and a little disappointed) to find her completely dressed (she has such cute pj's). I scanned the room, and noted a packed bag on the bed. When she saw that I'd noticed it, she started fidgeting uncomfortably.

Okay, so maybe not quite smart like that.

"Elena, I don't know how often you've run away, but you generally don't draw the attention of your chaperone while you're doing it."

I got a laugh out of that. It's sad how much it surprised me. I hadn't heard her laugh in… too long.

"I'm not running away Damon!" She pushed me a little, and my heart (hah!) leapt. God I'm a sap. "I need you to do something for me. Please," she added when she saw my face. "I promise, it's safe, and it won't hurt anyone. Please!"


"What are you doing?" I sighed.

Her face lit up. "I want to get out of town, just a little road trip, just for the weekend. Please!"

My heart leapt again. It was going to have to stop doing that before it starts thinking it's alive again. She just got back from out of town with Stefan, and she could just as easily ask Caroline to go somewhere with her. Why me? And as per usual, I had no filter when I started speaking.

"You just came back from a weekend with Stefan a few days ago. If that wasn't enough underage, premarital coitus, then I suggest that you go talk to him."

Her expression darkened as my heart lightened.

"Stefan and I are… Well, we're not exactly seeing eye to eye, and it's just a little overwhelming right now. I just need to get out and clear my head about everything; Stefan, Bonnie and Jeremy, John, Katherine." She gave me an odd look when she said the last name, but I just shrugged. Fuck Katherine.

"Alright then, where do you wanna go?"

She rolls the window down, and she talks over the sound of the cars that pass us by.
And I don't know why, but she's changed my mind.

By the time morning actually came, we'd been driving already for hours. Or, I'd been driving for hours. Elena had been great company until she dozed off, and left me to my thoughts. When the sun rose, she woke up, smiling at me and stretching.

"Good morning," she croaked, still grinning.

"Just in time," I answered, pulling into a greasy spoon restaurant and gas station.

An hour later, we were on the road again. It was warm, and she rolled down the window, reaching her arm out and letting her hand ride the air current.

"You know…," she said, still watching her hand move along the waves of wind. I could see the corner of her mouth turned up, and I smiled too. She made it so easy! "Try not to let this go to your head, but you're really great for road trips."

My smile became a grin. "So you're saying that I'm good for a ride, huh?"

She turned and smacked my arm, but she was still smiling, and she was perfect.

Jesus! Such. A. Sap!

I coughed. "So, anywhere in particular you'd like to go? We're headed south now."

She shook her head. "Just gone. I needed to get out of my town, because I was going out of my mind!"

And that was it… Just that little phrase planted the tiniest doubt. Doubt, that maybe when I compelled her to forget my confession, maybe I had done the wrong thing. Doubt, that maybe things were playing out naturally. Doubt, that maybe I could deserve her.

A wise philosopher once said: "A very small degree of hope is sufficient to cause the birth of love."

And now I'm reflecting on philosophy. What has she done to me?A very small degree of hope is sufficient to cause the birth of love. A very small degree of hope is sufficient to cause the birth of love.

Would you look at her? She looks at me. She's got me thinking about her constantly!
But she don't know how I feel.

We drove in almost silence for hours. The radio was on, and Elena would scan the dial searching for something not quite so country. And it didn't matter what was playing, but I couldn't help but think of her. Every song; every beat; every word; every note. Everything is about her now.

And sometimes, I'd glance over, and she'd look away quickly, and I knew that she was looking at me. And I'd almost wonder… But then she'd look out the window for hours, her mouth set in a hard line, and I knew that she was thinking about Stefan. Why shouldn't she? Disagreement or not, he was her boyfriend. And she had told me before that it was Stefan, that it would always be Stefan. Of course she would be thinking about him. And of course she wouldn't be thinking about me. How could she? Why would she?

And as she carries out without a doubt, I wonder if she's figured out that I'm crazy for this girl?

But then she'd look at me again, and she'd try to suppress a smile, but I could see her mind racing behind her brown eyes. Was she figuring it out? Was she remembering what I'd so thoughtfully and thoughtlessly made her forget?

Did she know that I loved her more than anything? That I'd risked my life for her, and that I would do it again in one of her ultra-fast heartbeats? That I'd made the ultimate sacrifice? That I wouldn't make her choose; I wouldn't put her through that because she was so young and innocent and wonderful that the pain of such a decision could destroy her?

Maybe she wasn't remembering; maybe she was piecing it together, all on her own? Maybe everything that I'd done recently was starting to add up behind those eyes? She's smart like that.

And she kept on during that day, and into the night, acting like we were friends again. Acting like there was no one else in the world but us, and she had to know! She had to know; otherwise… otherwise… otherwise she isn't smart like that.

She was the one to hold me the night the sky fell down.
And what was I thinking when the world didn't end?
Why didn't I know what I know now?

Late in the night, we approached Atlanta, and I looked over to ask Elena to watch for a motel. She was curled up against her door, arms wrapped around her legs, staring out the window with a heartbroken expression on her face.


She jerked and wiped her face. "Yeah? Sorry, I dozed off."

I pulled into an exit outside of the city itself, headed toward a chain hotel. I didn't believe her for a second, but I waited until we were in the parking lot before I spoke again.

"Elena, you didn't just 'doze off'. What's wrong?" I knew that my voice sounded awkward. The truth is I was profoundly uncomfortable. Talking about feelings is not exactly my thing.

She sighed and reached forward for her soda, playing around with the straw. "Nothing. I'm fine. We're having fun, remember? Why would you ask, anyway? You're not usually too interested in the talking." She winked and smirked a little, but I could see through it.

And here was where things got strange. She did something to me, she changed me, she made me do things that I wouldn't otherwise do, say things that I wouldn't otherwise say. Such as…

"The night, before…" I was staring at my hands in my lap; I couldn't meet her eyes yet, "The night back when I tried to free Katherine, and she wasn't there. I tried to kill you that night; I almost did. And when she wasn't there," I looked up at her now, "You held me. No one had held me like that in over a hundred years. We weren't friends, or even particularly friendly. But you were there for me, because that's who you are. So I'll be here for you."

Her eyes were filled with tears again, but she nodded slowly, letting her hair fall into her face. "It isn't just about the fight that Stefan and I had at the lake house. Or any other fight since, with Katherine back and all. It's about the fact that he never leaves me any choice. He does everything he can to protect me, without letting me even try to protect myself. It's like he doesn't trust me, or think that I'm capable enough, or anything."

I nodded, and when she looked at me pleadingly, I shrugged. "Do you want me to comfort you now?" I asked softly, honestly. "Or do you want to know what I think?"

She sniffed. "What do you think?"

"I think," I reached forward and tucked her hair behind her ear, "That Stefan's past failures to protect certain people," I looked at her pointedly, and from her eyes, she knew that I was referring to Katherine, "Are pushing him to go overboard protecting you. But," I moved my hand down to her chin, and tilted her head up so she would meet my eyes, "That doesn't make it any less valid. He loves you, and that's why he's doing what he's doing. But you have to understand that no matter what you say or do, he'll probably never back off. You'll either need to get used to it, or get over him."

We were both quiet then, leaning across the seat of my car, my hand still on her face. A few tears rolled down her cheeks, and she spoke again.

"I am," she whispered. "I broke up with him a few days ago." My jaw dropped, but she continued before I could say anything. "It wasn't just this either; Katherine being around put pressure on us, and when he got in touch with John of all people to try and help… Well, that was the big push. I've known it was coming for a while, and the lake house was sort of a last resort."

My mouth was still hanging open, and I realized that we were very close. So close that I could feel her warm breath on my face. We were both leaning in…

And then a car pulled up beside us, the headlights disrupting the thick atmosphere, and Elena shook her head.

"Come on," she said, popping her door open, "We should get inside."

Would you look at her? She looks at me. She's got me thinking about her constantly!
But she don't know how I feel.

As we entered the lobby of the hotel, Elena pulled me to the side, shifting her weight from foot to foot. She appeared to have just realized something, and it freaked her out.

"Um, Damon… How many rooms are we getting?" She kept eye contact with me as she said it, and while she waited for my answer.

"Why?" I wiggled my eyebrows. "Wanna snuggle?"

She laughed. "No, it's just… Look, I know that everyone's all worried, and that you spend every night watching me while I sleep. I'm not gonna pretend around this, so I just figured that, well…" She scowled a little. "Two beds Damon! Two separate beds!"

I snickered a little, and went to check in for one room with two beds. All the while, my thoughts were running a mile a minute: She broke up with Stefan? For actual good reasons? And she needed to get out of town to deal with it? Why didn't she ask Caroline, or Bonnie, or Jeremy, or Jenna? Why me?

But, of course, she has no idea how I feel, right? She doesn't realize what she's doing to me; how she's driving me insane with all of this back-and-forth. She likes me? She hates me? She loves me? She trusts me?

And as she carries out without a doubt, I wonder if she'll figure out that I'm crazy for this girl?

That night, she slept soundly in the soft hotel bed. I slept for a while, but woke early, laying still in my bed, listening to her breathing. I was still wondering what everything meant. She was still acting normal, like she hadn't noticed the tension in the car. Was it simply something that I had imagined it? Or was she trying to forget it?

I noticed the red light of her BlackBerry flashing, and against my better judgment, I grabbed the handset, selecting the text message key. It was from Stefan.

"I miss you. I know that you need time to think everything through, but I just wanted you to know that I'm thinking of you. – Stefan"

"What an ass," I muttered. Like she wasn't having a hard enough time dealing with her decision, but him pestering her, as well-intentioned as it was, was just cruel. I deleted the message, and set the phone back down on the table.

She moaned and rolled over in her sleep, her back toward me. I wondered what she was dreaming about, if she was dreaming about anything. She could just as easily be dancing around naked in a field of cotton candy, or having some stupid picnic with Stefan. Hm, I definitely liked the first idea better.

Maybe she was dreaming about me. That would be an interesting, and entirely unlikely development. Did she realize that I love her perhaps? Was she dreaming about my forgotten confession?

The rest of the night, I tried to take my mind of the conundrum that was Elena's affections by considering our next move. Should we head back to Mystic Falls now, or continue on?

Elena mumbled something in her sleep again, her voice sounding strained and afraid. The perfect place dropped into my mind, and I dozed off again, smiling at my own brilliance. Sometimes, just sometimes, maybe I could be smart like that.

Right now… Face to face… All my fears… Pushed aside.
And right now I'm ready to spend the rest of my life with you!

"Are we there yet?"

"Ask me again and I'm turning this car around, Elena."

She threw herself back into her seat, pouting dramatically before smiling.

"Fine, will you at least tell me where we're going?"

I glanced at her and rolled my eyes. "I'll give you a clue: If you ever tell anyone where we're headed when we get back, I'll… I'll buy you a puppy and shave it." She frowned at me sceptically. "I have a rep to protect here."

It was true: The destination could destroy my reputation, but it would definitely cheer her up, so it didn't matter. It would be worth it to see her keep smiling. When we would eventually return to Mystic Falls, that smile could potentially disappear again, and I couldn't bear the thought. Speaking of which… I asked her a question before I had time to talk myself out of it.

"What's going to happen when we get back?"

Then the frown was back, and I could have kicked myself if it wouldn't have resulted in a collision.

"I really don't know. Stefan will probably be sitting on my porch, wanting to talk. Jenna's gonna be pissed that I bailed. Katherine will still be Katherine. Nothing much will change I bet."

Inexplicably, her heart rate sped up, and she shot me a strange look. I tried to ignore it. I was having a hard enough time trying to decode everything else she was doing and saying.

Would you look at her? She looks at me. She's got me thinking about her constantly!
But she don't know how I feel.

When I took the last exit, Elena screamed.

"Oh my GOD! DISNEYLAND! We're going to Disneyland?"

I didn't answer for a while, until we parked and got out of the car. She sped around the front end and barrelled into my arms.

"This is so… Ah! I'm so excited Damon!" Then she looked at me conspiratorially and whispered, "Don't worry, I won't tell anyone." Then she winked, grabbed my hand, and started tugging me toward the entrance.

"You're worse than a four year old," I teased.

"Shut up!" But she was grinning, and she still hadn't let go of my hand. My extremities tingled with her contagious excitement, but I didn't show it. In fact, I let out my most cynical self, trying to battle this lovesick fool who had taken residence under my skin. Rotten scoundrel was trying to make me into some sort of romantic. Well it wasn't going to happen. Not at all.

"You're the best!" she exclaimed.

I smiled unconsciously. Ugh, so much for not being a romantic. I kept repeating a line in my head to distract myself from the pleasant feel of her hand in mine.

Don't think about it. Don't think about it. Don't think about it.

It became my mantra during the day, watching Elena really enjoy herself, and try to force me to have a good time too. Disney really wasn't my thing at all. But she didn't need to know that, just like she didn't know how I felt.

That was my decision. I decided that she didn't know, that she didn't even suspect. She was just excited to get out of town, and confused about Stefan, and particularly excited to meet whatever Disney princess she was taking a picture with now. That was it. That was all.

And as she carries out without a doubt, I wonder if she's figured out that I'm crazy for this girl?

After what felt like an eternity, the park closed for the night, and I had to practically carry Elena back to the car. She managed to stay awake for a whole five minutes before collapsing against the window, mid-sentence.

The ride back to Mystic Falls flew by. We made it back early the next morning, and she woke up just outside city limits. I watched, powerless, as her carefree attitude melted away, and she fell back into the tense young woman that she had become over the past few months.

"You'll be fine," I whispered, taking a chance and squeezing her hand.

She squeezed back. "I know. I'm just anxious."

The streets were practically empty this morning as we crept in silence back towards her house. I drove below the speed limit, trying desperately to draw out the time that we had left. But I couldn't drive forever.

At the last stop sign before her house, she turned to me and opened her mouth to speak. I waited expectantly, but realizing that she wasn't going to be able to say the words, I turned back to the road and kept driving. True to her prediction, Stefan was sitting on the front porch, and his face dropped when he saw us in the car together.

She looked at me again. Did she know yet? Did she figure it out?

She looked back out at Stefan. Of course she didn't. It wouldn't even cross her mind.

"Well, good luck," I murmured.

She turned to look at me again, our fingers still intertwined. Slowly, she leaned forward to hug me.

"Thanks," she whispered in my ear. She pulled back, and I leaned into my seat. Then, without warning, she darted forward again, pressing her lips to mine in a soft and shy kiss.

And then she was gone, out of the car, with a nervous smile on her face as she looked at me.

"See you later?"

I nodded and pulled away, smiling wide. I guess she really is smart like that.

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