When Hearts Collide

A Damon & Elena fic

….

"Where were you, Damon?" she asks, her voice barely above a quiver.

That's the worst part – hearing the broken notes in her voice. And, for the first time in a long time, guilt trickles through his bloodstream. He's never had cause to feel it before; not when Elena was kidnapped, not during the countless times he's betrayed her in some shape or form, and not even when Stefan made the stupidly rash decision to go skipping off with Klaus in exchange for saving his life (it had been his decision anyway, and he'd never asked for it).

But this, this, is the cause of a momentary lapse in judgement, a split second of rash thoughtless, combined with a minute's desire to just escape all the crushing pressure to be something he's sure he's not. And because of his selfishness (let's not dress it down here), she's had to face a hellish night, literally face to face with the devil (or as close to him) himself.

"I shouldn't have left," he murmurs, for all the good it will do him.

A hesitant hand reaches out (reaches to her) and lands on her leg. It's a somewhat redundant gesture, meant to show her he knows he's made a stupid, horrific mistake, and that he's unbelievably sorry for it, but even now, a small part of him does a leap for joy that she's not shaking it off, not shutting herself down – which, logically speaking, would've been perhaps the sane thing to do.

"I promise you," he speaks, in a low and clear voice. "I will never leave you again."

Something in her expression breaks at that point. Her lips quiver, like she wants to say something, and he can sense she's at bursting point, at the point where one little thing can tip her over the edge, sending her to some dark, unfathomably cold place he'll never be able to save her from, but like she has this wonderful habit of doing so, she surprises him, managing the weakest of smiles before letting it drop.

He shuffles a little bit closer, entwining the hand which had been on her leg with hers, and he can tell how much she's hurting, how frightened she is, by the fact her hand is shaking so hard it's even affecting his hand.

"I don't know what to say," he murmurs, in a rare moment of complete honesty. "What can I say – do – to make it better, Elena?"

She raises her head, her eyes revealing what the rest of her face simply cannot. All the misery, all the pain, all the anger she's feeling swims around in those beautiful orbs of hers, and he lightly squeezes her hand, fighting back the urge to compel her (and to hell with the consequences) and he can hear each painful swallow she makes.

"I lost him tonight, Damon," she tells him, swallowing back sobs. "And that wasn't even the worst part. The worst part was as I realized I was losing him, there was a part of me which just didn't care, like I'd already known I was going to lose him." She hiccupped. "Am I bad person for feeling that way?"

"No, no," he soothes, taking his other hand to wipe away the odd tear which has managed to sneak past her defence. "You've been through more than enough tonight. I should've been there – I failed you."

"No." She shakes her head, suddenly vehement. "I failed you."

She looks at him through teary eyes, suddenly inhaling deeply, the sound hitching halfway through (and each echo of the sob claws another piece of his heart to pieces), and he's beginning to think she's about to reveal something to him.

"Why would you ever think that?" he wonders, shaking his head. "You could never fail me. Elena, I don't think you get how much of a hero you even are."

"I wasn't referring to tonight," she mumbles, and he raises an eyebrow quizzically, suddenly confused.

"You're going to have to elaborate, as I have no idea what you're going on about," he confesses.

"That night in my bedroom – you said there was something going on between us." She inhales, as if mentally preparing herself for the words her heart is bursting to say. "And I denied it." She begins to cry. "I think I was lying."

He watches her, unable to really react, wondering if the injuries she's sustained tonight has resulted in something more serious. Despite the various times he's saved her, he's never seen her this vulnerable before. Usually, like him, she's equipped with her own one-liners, her own verbal defence, but now, all that seems to be shot to sunshine. And he's surprisingly uneasy about hearing what she has to say.

"I think there's always been this attraction, y-you know?" she stammers, the tears making it almost impossible for him to discern what she's trying to say. "But over the past few months – " She sighs, the final truth brimming on her tongue. "We got closer and closer and then, somewhere along the way, I think I fell in love with you."

He freezes, suddenly aware of every little sound in the room. His grip on her hand never loosens (if anything, it tightens that little bit further), and his eyebrows have skyrocketed into his hairline, but God those words do something to him, something that even Katherine's passionate kiss couldn't.

"You don't know what you're saying," he sighs, completely aware of the role reversal here.

"Yes, yes I do," she affirms, wiping her free hand across her eyes. "Today, if anything, proved that. When you weren't around, it physically hurt, and not just because I needed you. I know I've been trying to change you, and I'm sorry for that, but I think the reason behind it was because I was trying to change you into Stefan so my heart wouldn't feel so bad about loving you. But every time I see you, I just have this crazy desire to just run up to you and kiss you, even when the timing is just completely inappropriate." She begins to sob, hysteria rising up in her throat like bile. "And what gets me is that I can't help but think it's wrong – it physically hurts me to love you. Because I suspect what I've felt has always been there, in some shape or form, and I think of everything you've done for me, and it just makes me – "

"Ssh," Damon tells her, putting a finger over her lips, swallowing loudly at the effect of just her eyes rolling onto his has on him. "We don't need to talk about that tonight, or ever if you want to." He smiles sadly. "I can compel you to forget that if you'd like." If it's easier, he silently adds to himself.

"No."

And that one little word – even with its negative connotations – has such a startling effect on him, he can't help but smile.

"I need to remember the way I feel about you," she continues, sounding surprisingly confident.

"Why?"

"So I can decide if I'm ever going to act on it in the future," she tells him, giving him the most heart breaking smile he's ever seen.

He clears his throat, unable to comprehend the fact they are even having this conversation.

"So, it's a possibility then?"

She rises from her chair and goes to sit next to him, looping a frail arm around his body and leaning against his chest (he relishes the contact) and he tentatively allows himself to unfold, realizing he doesn't deserve this contact but God does he need it after the evening he's had.

"Yes," she whispers. "It's a possibility."

And he's almost glad neither of them have ruined the moment with rash actions they would soon come to regret.

Besides both of them being emotionally exhausted, he can't help but think just holding her right here, right now, is quite enough for now.

And the fact that the for now clause is even there fills his heart with a kind of joy he's not felt since 1864 – and even then this kind of joy surpasses the joy he felt with Katherine because this time it's real.

Real, and something he intends on fighting for with both hands.