first try at stefan/elena.

title from a drop in the ocean by ron pope.

praying that you and me might end up together.

Stefan is beautiful – his hand over her heart as he kisses her goodbye.

Still, as tears well up in her eyes and his, she can't waver on the fact that he's always going to be beautiful and like poetry – wrapping her up and holding her tight. When she needs him he's always there and never failing and never shy about his love.

She doesn't know what she'll do after he's gone, in minutes, when his hand isn't warming over her skin and his presence is never ending around her. She doesn't know what she's going to do without him. She doesn't know what he's going to do without her.


Stefan leaves – tears streaming down his face, lips trembling, chin quivering. And yet, he's not ashamed; not hiding his face, taking deep breaths to make the stinging in his eyes go away. Stefan is shameless and that is only one of the many reasons she's always going to love him.

His hands touch her skin one last time, so intimate even she must look away. His fingers idle over the soft skin of her waist, slide up her sides ever so gently, fingertips barely touching the side of her breast. He stops when he gets to her face; fingers gathering the falling tears, thumb grazing over the tenderness of her cheek.

She closes her eyes and her face contorts into one of pain and she almost whispers "Stefan, don't go." But she stops herself, words on the tip of tongue, she bites it until she tastes blood. She doesn't know how she is focusing on other things when he's about to leave. She should open her eyes, drink him in one last time, kiss his face, run her fingers through his hair. She should tell him she loves him. But she can't fight the feeling that if she lets go of her tongue, it'll spew off meaningless words like don't go and please and right here, right now.

He retracts his hand from her face. And that's when she feels the cold breeze from outside the open door seeping in and touching her harshly; the cold whipping at her wet tears and chilling her to the bone.

Her eyes fly open wide and her hands search the air for anything that resembles Stefan, but she finds nothing.

Her screams fill all the empty air they can find and inside she hopes they'll make him come back to her.


She hates herself for the longest time for never looking at him before he left, or kissing him one last time. But never saying I love you or I need you is probably her biggest regret. And Elena Gilbert has many of those, if not too many.


Senior year goes by in a breeze; a flash of nothing, nothing, nothing until she's forgetting she's at school until she hears the last bell of the day ringing in her ears all too loudly. She goes home and starts again the next day.

When she receives her diploma Alaric smiles at her and squeezes her shoulder. She smiles at him in return and when she look out into the audience she only sees one Salvatore brother sitting there. It's like her heart stops and won't restart no matter how hard she tries to keep going. She cannot persevere, she will not persevere without Stefan and most times she wonders if it's the same for him.


Caroline throws a graduation party at the Salvatore house right after pictures and toasts. Caroline squeezes her arm really tight and begs her please come and it's Caroline and she's her best friend so she says yes.

It's the first time she's been in the house in a long while; she hasn't been since before Stefan left. The whole time that Damon's been checking on her, he's always coming in through her window, never inviting her over, knows she can't handle it.

Sometimes she wonders how he handles being there himself because Stefan was his brother. She wants to know if it's eating him up inside that he's not around.

When she walks in through the big wooden doors, Caroline's there at the foot of the stairs with Damon's arm thrown around her waist.

She can't hear over the loud music and the cheering people but she's sure Caroline must say something like "so glad you came!" with her all too adoring smile. Damon nods his head at her and she feels sick because all she wants is the other brother. (He's all she's ever going to want.)


She can't shake the feeling the house is not the same. She knows it has every reason and one to do with Stefan's not being there. But she's never been able to shake his absence – it's everywhere she goes.


She stays for a while and drinks the cups of beer that Caroline push in front of her face. She wonders around and smiles politely to people she's sure she won't ever see again. She thinks she should be more torn up about graduating and the real world. But she's been stuck in the supernatural one for what seems like forever and she thinks a measly graduation of seniors is the least of her worries.

She finds herself going upstairs without even realizing it. Really, she pulls herself out of her thoughts and finds herself at the top of the stairs, staring at the door to Stefan's room. And she's here and she misses him, loves him always, so she can't just walk back downstairs. Her heart says something like stefan, don't go and she walks to his door.

With one hand braced on the doorknob and the other pressed flat against the door, she catches her breath; breathes in through her nose and out through her mouth slowly with eyes closed and shaky fingers.

She opens the door to cold weather and a hail storm of emotions. His bed is made, soft sheets she can still remember him pressing her into, the windows closed and the curtains drawn, too dark with no light, pictures she sometimes wishes she could forget because it hurts all too much.

She walks in and makes her way to the bed. It's soft beneath her touch when she runs her fingers over the comforter, can smell an overwhelmingly strong scent of him like he's just recently been reclining there against the headboard. But he hasn't because she would have known, he would have come to her first, she would have told him she loved him.

He hasn't come back and he's not going to.


She stands in the middle of the room for a long few minutes before sliding off her shoes and slowly crawling onto his bed. She nestles her head against his pillow, curls into a ball, and closes her eyes – squeezing them shut tight.

Dreams flood her mind; some of them memories of times that she's not going to forget, not ever.

It's quiet and it's almost eerie because she can remember vividly the moans and loud noises that he pulled from her in this room late at night. All that's gone and there's nothing left but her sadness and quiet grief.

"I know you miss him." Damon's standing in the doorway, leaning against the frame. His voice is loud in the room, filling it with his own sadness over the situation. He's his brother.

She's startled away from her revery by his voice. She sits up quickly, eyes open wide, heavy breathing. "You scared me," hand to her heart.

He repeats, "You miss him." His eyes are glued to her face, memorizing the lines and the sad eyes so he can report back to Stefan something like, you're killing her.

With her voice soft and sad, tears in it, she asks, "Don't you?" Her hands fall to her lap and she absently twirls her fingers around each other.

He pushes himself off of the frame of the door and walks into the room, his boots knocking hard against the hardwood floor. When he reaches her, he sits beside her on the bed and says "of course I do", indifferently with only a touch of sadness in his voice. But she knows it's there, Stefan's his brother. "But I have Care." He turns his face to look at her and all she can see is the overwhelming sadness in his eyes that say something like but she's not Stefan.

She just looks at him with a frown on her face. He continues, "and you have no one." The sadness from his eyes touch his face and suddenly it's all different kinds of sadness because this is his brother's girl and she's so sad.

"No one's Stefan." She says quietly and he knows she means that no one is ever going to be as good enough as Stefan, no one will ever compare, so why even try if she knows she's going to fall down?

"Yeah," he says quietly as he pulls her into a hug, her pressed against his side. He kisses the top of her head before pulling away and he almost says something like you'll be okay but he knows that's far from true.

She doesn't go back to the party when he does; just curls up in Stefan's bed exhausted.


She wonders if he'll ever call, knows that he won't, but still hopes. And sometimes she gets down on her knees beside her bed at night and prays that he's okay and that he'll call or he'll do something that lets her know that she doesn't have to worry about him being dead – something that will let her know she can hope he'll come back.


She doesn't go to college. She's had her fill of school and normalcy and Mystic Falls. There's nothing holding her back, except for Stefan, and he's the only thing that will also allow her to leave Mystic Falls.

He's always been her ticket out – her escape. She just didn't know he'd be the one she'd have to find when she did get out.


"I want to find Stefan."

Caroline looks at Damon quickly with a look of 'do something' and Bonnie opens her mouth to say something but closes it again instead.

Damon speaks up, "There's no finding Stefan." He crosses his arms over his chest. "He had to leave, Elena."

She stares at him with a harsh glare, "Bonnie will help me." She turns expectantly to Bonnie, "Won't you?"

"Elena, I-" She begins but Damon cuts her off. "No, Elena. You're not going after him."

"Damon," her voice like ice, "there's nothing left for me here. I can't just sit here and do nothing. School is over, Stefan's gone, I have to find him."

Damon walks to her, stands right in her face, with a harsh tone he says, "What about Jeremy? You're just going to leave him here alone?" The words hit her like a ton of bricks and she's just about to falter when she hears his voice.

"I'll be fine. She needs to do this." Jeremy walks to Bonnie and talks softly against her ear, "She needs to do this, Bonnie. Please help her, please."

Damon stands there stone cold, his gaze never leaving Elena, until Caroline's pulling him back by his shirt to stand beside her.

When Elena looks at Jeremy her eyes are warm with something like thank you. Bonnie looks from Jeremy to Damon then to Elena who now has pleading eyes. And she's her best friend and all she wants is for her to be happy, "I can try a location spell." Elena sighs with relief and Damon almost rolls his eyes. "I don't know if it will work though, Elena. I don't."

"But you can try?" When Bonnie nods her head, it's probably the most delighted Elena has been in months.


"He's in the Pacific Northwest."

Elena almost cries when Bonnie tells her. It's the closest she's come to knowing where he may be.


She packs only one bag full of clothes and toiletry items. When she's standing by her front door she tells everyone goodbye. Alaric's there and he's promising to look after Jeremy, smiling when she says thank you. Bonnie hugs her tight and tells her to be careful with tears in her young eyes. Caroline hugs her and whispers in her ear, "Damon's only like this because he wants you to be safe. We can't lose you either." Then she's crying and saying love you. Damon walks up to her, straightens out her leather jacket for her and when he pulls her into a hug he whispers, "try Washington. He's always loved it there." She thinks he may not be Stefan but he sure is a good Salvatore.

She cries the most when she tells Jeremy goodbye because he's the only family she's got left. He makes a small joke about not being gone long and then he has a serious face and he's telling her to call often and I love you, Elena.

When she walks out and feels the June heat on her skin, she feels good – like she might find her heart wherever it went missing.


She drives all the way to Washington state. It's restless days and nights alone in a motel room, rundown diners and dusty back roads. Then it's forever on long interstates and the only sound being the tires on the road rough and monotone.


She finds him in a small town near the Olympic Peninsula and it reminds her of a book – this place. It's wet and dreary, cold wind nipping at her bones and it's June. It's different but it suits him. He would love it here.

He's in a small bar, behind the counter wiping down the bar. When she opens the door the bell above it chimes and that's the only noise she hears besides the quiet murmurs of locals and a distant jukebox playing a soft tune.

He looks up when she walks in – still brooding, dark hair, dark eyes, and shocked.

She takes a deep breath, hands gripping tight on the bag thrown over her shoulder, and stares; takes him in, smells old liquor, only sees him.

His hand, once moving back and forth across the counter, is stalled, hand gripping the rag tightly. His eyes glaze over with something she once knew, now it's distance and Stefan and she hasn't seen him in months and months.

She breathes his name. The letters wrapped in all the warmth she can find, her tongue picking out the bitter parts, all love and security and finally she's here and he's here.

He slowly walks out from behind the bar towards her; his movements slow and it takes him too long to get to her.

He stops right in front of her. "Elena." And it's his voice and the first time she's heard it outside of a dream or memory. She closes her eyes, a small smile appearing on her face.

He stares at her for a moment; his eyes darting from hers to her mouth to her neck, up and down her body. "What're you doing here?" His voice is low, a small whisper just for her. She doesn't answer right away.

Then he's pushing her threw the open door outside where it's still chilly and before she can catch herself she's pressed against the side of the building. The old wood is cutting into her skin, rusty nails prodding at the small of her back.

He's standing in front of her, so close. He's holding onto both of her wrists, pinning them in front of her, but it doesn't hurt and if it were anyone else she would be scared – she'd scream. "What," he looks into her eyes, "are you doing here?" Nothing in his words, just emptiness, and she wonders where the sincerity is and why he hasn't kissed her yet, hugged her yet.

She's breathless, the dew on the building chilling her skin, soaking her tank top. She wants him to let her go, all the same. She pulls her wrists from his grasp and she can tell he doesn't really fight her. She holds them down by her side, then slowly, she takes a hold of him. Her fingers dig into the skin of his forearm exposed by the rolled up sleeves of his shirt. Then she's moving them to his torso, running her fingers over his skin through the shirt and even if it's not enough, never enough, it suits her well for now – holding him. She tugs him even closer to her, so thankful that he doesn't decide to push her away, and wraps her arms around his whole middle. Her fingers find one another at the small of his back, she latches them together and digs her head into his chest. She breathes his name again, can smell him, the overwhelming stefan, stefan, stefan repeating in her head.

She feels him sigh, can feel it heavy his chest. His hands, once by his sides, slowly make their way to her. One hand goes to the back of her head where he strokes her sleek hair gently while the other takes up space on her waist – resting gently over the fabric of her tank top.

He closes his eyes and holds her tighter. Then he's whispering in her ear, asking her again.

She pulls back from him, still holds absently to the shirt at his torso, and says, "Isn't it obvious? I came to find you, Stefan." Her head falls back to the building again, the edge of a nail almost nipping her.

"What do you plan on doing – taking me back to Mystic Falls?" He lightly grabs a hold of her hands and swings them slowly at their sides. She feels like she's still in high school, when he's there and nothing much matters – not running and chasing and misery.

She shakes her head, eyes barely open, she says, "We can go wherever you want to go."

He says nothing, just stares. She closes her eyes completely and tries not to get lost in him casually swinging their hands back and forth, his palms warm against hers. After a moment, she speaks again. "I don't want to go back to Mystic Falls either, Stefan."

He pulls her away from the wall in a split second, flush against him. His nose touches hers and he gently rubs his against hers, listens to her sharp intake of breath. When she's sure he's going to kiss her, touch her face, something – she says, "I just want to be where you are."

His lips are soft and warm and stefan when they envelop hers. It's not rushed or heavy; it's stay, stay, stay and finally. She can't breathe when they pull apart. The pad of his thumb running over the apple of her cheek sends never too many chills down her spine.


The place he's staying at is nice. And that's really all she can say about it until three in the morning when she gets up to get some water.

They came home in a frenzy – hands finding familiar places, backs arching, clothes falling away, and lips everywhere and stefan, god.

When she's back in bed, curling back into her place pressed against his side she says, "nice place," with a giggle before throwing her leg over him and kissing the underside of his jaw.

She's on her back in not even a second, pressed deep into the mattress, Stefan hovering over her and nipping at her lips teasingly. And when she can't handle the throbbing between her legs she pulls him down to her face, trails a line of kisses to his ear, and whispers "Stefan, please".

The throbbing goes away: one because he's so good and the other because he's here and he's Stefan and he does still love her.


Elena takes a job at the bar with Stefan, calls Jeremy on Sundays, and they don't talk about leaving anytime soon.


It's September and cold and she can feel aches in her bones that let her know it's going to rain really soon. She tells him this and he laughs, "It rains here all the time," and hip checks her as they walk down the sidewalk.

She never asks him if they should be running from anyone, she wonders if he ever needed to run in the first place.


They're good. They're always so good. Him cooking breakfast for her and longing looks and she can't quite ever get enough of him; a yearning that won't part either way.

They're the way they're supposed to be.


"I want you to change me."

And because he's beautiful, brooding Stefan he lowers his book and sighs, "Elena."

"Stefan, really." She's been prodding him about it for a while, sliding it casually into conversations only for him to dismiss the idea completely.

"I'm not doing it," he shakes his head determined, "no. I can't."

"You can't or you won't?" And she's strong, seen-too-much-too-young Elena who never falters, with hard eyes and raised brow.

The look he gives her, always heartbreaking and something like don't do this to me, only makes her stare at him harder. "Stefan," she says quietly, "I want this." She walks to him, cups his face in her hands, stares into his glassy eyes, "Hey, I want it. I do." She sighs, "I want forever with you."

She knows he thinks he's being selfish if he does it. She knows he doesn't want to have to see her wake up a different person, someone without a heartbeat.

But maybe she's selfish too, she knows she doesn't want to live without him. And forget the cliché, she can't live without him.

"I can't, Stefan." She rubs the pad of her thumb over his cheek, "I already tried to before. And look at where I am. I'm wherever you are."

He doesn't say anything, only kisses her harshly – rushed, many emotions. She thinks that means he'll do it.


When she wakes up, sore and disoriented, she looks around and finds him sitting in a chair, staring straight ahead, tears drying up on his face. She feels alive and new and it's true – everything is hyped up more after the transition.

"Stefan," she says. He looks to her from his trance, can't look her in the eyes though, not yet. She thinks he must still be upset.

She just didn't want to have to live without him. She thinks they deserve an eternity together.


He tells her she's not like all the other new vampires; blood thirsty and wild. He tells her she has control, pushes hair behind her ear and tells her, "A lot of control." She can tell he's proud of her.

She smiles, "I learned from the best."


Everyone's angry, at first, when Jeremy tell them that Elena's different now and when he finally spits out the word vampire, they all gasp.

Except Damon, he saw it coming. And he thinks he understands, if only a little, why she wanted it. He can't imagine living an eternity without his brother around, either.


Neither of them go back to Mystic Falls. It's the rest of Washington, then Canada, then Florida where it's too hot and Elena complains only a little before Stefan takes her to Italy and she loves it there. They see everyone on occasional visits, almost always overseas. And it's good, normal.


They're not running, they've just got an eternity.