Elena approaches the Salvatore House's parlor with Elijah following closely behind when she hears it. She pauses and holds her hand up to indicate that Elijah should do the same. He obliges. He can hear everything much better than she can, but he's curious as to what her reaction would be.

She can barely hear them, but she's close enough even if she has to strain to hear.

"Tired of your little plaything already?" asks Stefan. For some reason this puts her off. That was a little harsh for Stefan to say, wasn't it?

"Don't start with me, Stefan. She's just my distraction." says Damon.

Stefan scoffs. "She's a person. You're victimizing her." he says. Elena peers around the corner and sees Stefan turn away from Damon.

"You should be thankful she's here. Keeps me from going for what I really want." Elena's curiosity is getting the better of her. What does he really want?

Elena can see a sort of anger flash across Stefan's normally calm features. "You're right. Thank you. For being in love with my girlfriend." Elena's eyes widen. No, that couldn't be it. Right? There's no way that Damon was in love with her. She hears Damon's glass smack down onto the table.

"And there it is." says Damon. Wait. There it is? Stefan was right? thinks Elena.

"There it is. You know, you can be in love with Elena all you want, if it means that you'll protect her." For some reason, this also puts her off. Stefan was really fine with Damon being in love with her as long as he'd protect her? It's strange. Why wouldn't he care? "And I have the one thing that you'll never have."

"Oh yeah? What's that?"

"Her respect." This angers her slightly, but she doesn't have the time to react. She hears them fighting and immediately walks in to put a stop to it.

"Stop!" she says. So many things are rushing through her mind right now, but she tries to keep herself composed. So, she gives a quick look to Stefan and shakes her head slightly, breathing heavily. Stefan quickly looks down, as if he's a child that has just been caught with his hand in the cookie jar. She glances at Damon and notices his attempt to avoid the subject of what has just occurred between the brothers.

"Now you've invited him in?" says Damon.

"Elijah and I have renewed the terms of our deal." she says quickly, saying the words she has repeated in her head countless times as if reading from a teleprompter.

"Really?" says Damon.

"The two of you will come to no harm at my hands. I only ask for one thing in return." says Elijah. Elena is glad he's taking charge of the conversation so she can have time to process what just happened. "An apology."

"A what?" asks Damon in disbelief. All is quiet for a moment until Stefan speaks.

"I'm sorry for the part that I played in your death. I was protecting Elena. I will always protect Elena." says Stefan. Elena glances to Damon, trying to gauge his reaction. He doesn't look happy.

"I understand." says Elijah.

"The sacrifice is going to happen, Damon. Bonnie will be able to kill Klaus without hurting herself and Elijah knows how to save my life. I told you I'd find another way. And I did." she says in her best I-showed-you voice, hiding the thoughts swimming through her mind well.

"Is that true?" he says angrily. Good. She didn't tip him off.

"It is." says Elijah.

"And you're trusting him?"

"I am." says Elena.

"You can all go to Hell." says Damon, angrily, before walking out.

"He's angry at me, you know." says Stefan, almost boastingly, showing off that he could get under Damon's skin. Was he trying to do Damon's eye thing? He really shouldn't. thinks Elena. "But he'll come around."

"Perhaps." says Elijah. Then he turns and heads into the dinning area, taking a seat and folding his arms in thought.

Stefan tries to pull her into a kiss, but Elena pulls away. "Not now. I'm going to check on him."

"Don't. I will." says Stefan, almost too quickly.

"I think you've done enough tonight." says Elena quietly. She walks up the stairs, heading towards Damon's room. She pauses at the open door and listens.

"I'm upset. And you know what happens when I'm upset. You need to leave." says Damon in a shaky voice. She guesses it's Andie and her thoughts are confirmed when she answers "No."

"You need to know that somebody cares about you." says Andie. More than anything, Elena wants to storm into the room and scream that she cares about him. "I care about you, Damon." says Andie. Those words hurt her a little. Elena hears Andie's hushed scream and can pretty much tell what just happened. She puts her hand to her mouth in order to prevent herself from saying anything.

"Get out of here, before I kill you." he says, and Elena can hear the sadness and the oncoming tears in his voice. He's being sincere. "Just go." he begs. "Go. Now."

After a while, Andie comes out, her clothes in her hands dressed in only her underwear and the fresh wound on her neck. Elena goes over and hugs her and whispers for her to wait and she'll take her home. Andie nods and begins to slide on her clothes.

Elena slowly walks into the room and sees Damon on the floor, his head in his hands. She goes over to him and places her hand on his shoulder as she takes a seat next to him. He tries to turn away from her, but Elena grabs onto his chin. "Don't. Don't hide from me, Damon."

Slowly, reluctantly, he lifts his head to look at her. Elena somehow manages to keep from gasping. Damon's face has taken on its vampiric state, his fangs protruding and the veins around his eyes prominent. Tears streak his faces and blood is smeared on his mouth. "Go ahead. Tell me how much of a monster I am." he says dejectedly, his voice slightly shaking.

"What?" she asks lightly.

"I'm sure you heard everything."

"Enough to know that you stopped yourself from killing her. That's better than the alternative." she says quietly, reaching up to brush the tears away from his face with her fingers. She can faintly hear him moan at her soft touch, and within seconds, as the tears are cleaned his face returns to normal. Their eyes connect and she uses the sleeve of her jacket to wipe the blood from his lips, not caring that it'll be ruined. This is more important than a jacket.

Another quiet moan escapes him and she can feel the vibrations on her skin as she wipes the corner of his lip with her thumb. Then their gaze remains, and somehow that's enough. She pulls him into a hug, wrapping her arms around his neck. She feels his arms pulling her closer by the waist.

"Damon, you've been through so much these last few weeks. And I just want you to know that I appreciate you so much more than you can know for keeping me safe. It's just that, I need to help the ones I care about and love. Including you." she whispers, feeling him tense slightly at her final words. She pulls back and places a hand on his neck and she kisses his cheek.

The kiss only lasts for a second, but they both feel that part of their flesh that connected ignite in fire. When she pulls back, she smiles at him and stands up, heading to the door. When she turns around, she can see him holding his cheek where she kissed him. She smiles and says, "And Damon," she waits for him to look up at her. "You have my respect."


ittle random oneshot that popped into my head. I hope you enjoyed it and please review! Should I maybe continue it into a two-shot or something?