A/N: Wow! 'Want' is more well-received than any of my other short fanfics. Yay! So here's part two. As I said last time, each part is published separately, as they are fairly stand-alone-y, and the next installment jumps from a T to an M, and I didn't want to have all three parts under the same umbrella.

To be honest, this entire chapter was meant to be a flashback. Then I added a bit at the beginning, and a bit at the end, and you know how it goes.

For regular readers, please note that I am working on the next chapter of LoA (Far & Away), but, again, writer's block killing me here, so it's slow going.

This goes into what happened between Damon and Elena at the end of 2X22.

Final note: Again, to follow this story, add me to Author Alerts, or keep your eyes peeled, because they are all published separately.


Shameless self-promotion: Twitter - SweetWillowTree

Disclaimer: I do not own The Vampire Diaries.

Everyone says that love hurts, but that's not true.

Loneliness hurts.

Rejection hurts.

Losing someone hurts.

I almost pushed Alaric Saltzman out of a moving vehicle.

And I'm well aware of how drastic that sounds, but if Jer hadn't yanked me back when we were at that stop sign, Ric would be resting quietly in a ditch right about now.

"Look," Jeremy says quietly as we all three bustle through the door, "I'm on Elena's side about this. I mean -" He meets Ric's eyes, although our teacher and somewhat of a father figure looks none too pleased with what my brother is saying. "I get that you're just trying to help, and I agree that Damon probably isn't the best guy for my sister to be dating, but she has a right to make her own decisions."

"I wouldn't go so far as to say 'dating' just yet," I mumble, and Ric cocks an eyebrow at me.

"You're right. In my day, we called it 'necking' and that's pretty much the gateway to -"

"Like that's any of your business!" I exclaim, a little red at his insinuation.

The frustration is amping up again, and Jeremy throws his hands in surrender as he watches powerlessly.

"You're damn right it's my business! What would Jenna say if she saw what Jeremy and I walked into, hm?"

There's a brief flare of embarrassment at the sheer thought of what Jenna might say, (either, "Well, I can't say I'm particularly happy that you're in love with a player like that, but it's about time he gets a chance," or, "Oh my GOD! I'll bet he's a demon in the sack!"), then I giggle awkwardly when I consider that my subconscious self has implied that I'm in love with Damon, and made an excellent pun about him being a demon between the sheets.

In the split second that it takes for those thoughts to rumble through my brain, I suddenly realize just who I'm thinking about, and my eyes quickly flood with tears.

"How dare you bring her into this?" I ask in a low, trembling voice.

And right about now, I would give just about anything for her to be here, and tell me what I should do.

"Like I haven't spent every moment of the last few months wishing that I could tell her everything that I'm feeling?"

I'm openly crying now, choking on my words and tripping over my thoughts. My emotions have been running so high today that it's impossible to push away the waves of grief that I have so studiously ignored since Jenna died.

I take a hard step forward, then another, until Ric and I are almost nose to nose, except that he's taller than me.

"You have no right to come into my house and tell me how to live my life, when you couldn't possibly know -"

"OKAY!" Jeremy all but shouts, and then his arm is wrapped around my midsection and he's hauling me back. "Time for bed, and we can all talk about this in the morning."

Ric and I are still snapping at each other, although I have no idea what either of us are saying I'm so angry. All I know is that I might never be able to look at him the same way again, and my feet are dragging uselessly along the floor, as I am dragged uselessly up the stairs to my room.

When did Jeremy get so damn big and strong?

I'm dropped onto my bed by my baby brother, and I cross my arms and legs, glaring at some poor innocent spot on the floor that just might burst into flames any second.

"Elena," Jeremy murmurs quietly, calmly, and just like that, I feel my body deflate.

"What?" I whisper back, wiping at my damp cheeks with the back of my hands.

"Are you – Is this – You know how Damon feels about you, right? I mean, it's way to obvious for you to not know."

I raise my eyes and try to figure out where he's going with this. If he tries to pick a fight with me about it too...

"I'm aware," is my terse response.

"So, then..." He shifts awkwardly, a motion reminiscent of our childhood days when our parents made him apologize to me for breaking my things. "You know that if for a second, you had a moment where you needed... something... Well, he wouldn't hesitate. And if you aren't sure -"

A wave of exhaustion suddenly washes over me, and I rub at my eyes. "Not sure about what, Jer?"

His back stiffens and he stands a little taller, adopting his typical 'Taking A Stand' position.

"He's going to take his shot when he can, and if you don't make whatever it is that you have going on here clear with him, then you'll both be hurt."

I flush again, although the embarrassment is a little less sharp this time around.

"He wouldn't," I breathe.

"You know him, Elena. When he's hurt, he -"

"Oh no!" I exclaim, laughing a little. "I know that. What I mean is that he wouldn't just 'take his shot'. I know that for a fact."

I examine my fingernails as I wait for his inevitable question.

"What do you mean, you 'know for a fact'?"

"Bye Elena," Katherine purred before blurring out of the doorway and out of our lives forever. Or, at least, what I'd hoped was forever.

I looked over at Damon, still pasty and weak on his bed, although his eyes were open and clear, and he was sitting up. He opened his mouth to say something, but I cut him off with a wave, quite certain that whatever he was about to tell me, I really couldn't handle right then.

After a few deep breaths though, I felt a lot better.

"What does she mean, that he sacrificed himself?" I asked timidly.

He deflated a little, no doubt hoping that I would have said something about the kiss that I had just so tenderly pressed to his lips.

"Do you really want to know?" he answered, his voice still raw from the toxin leaving his system.

My eyes blurred with tears, and I nodded, slowly.

"I think I need to know," I whispered.

He gingerly stood from the bed, testing out each of his legs before meeting my eyes again.

"It either means that he's dead -" I gasped involuntarily, and Damon's eyes flashed. "Or that we're gonna wish he was."

My eyes narrowed with confusion and anger at the mere thought of my ever wishing Stefan ill. He was my boyfriend, my one true love. Nothing anyone could do or say would ever weaken our bond.

But even then, I knew that that wasn't entirely true. As Damon spoke, and I glowered, I was looking him over, scanning him for any sign that he was still sick, or that the illness would return. I was scared beyond words or thoughts or actions at the notion of Damon being gone from my life in any capacity. He was permanent, immovable. He was forever.

"Elena," he began again, taking a few hesitant steps closer to me, knowing before I did that I was shutting down. All the pain from those few days was overwhelming me, and I was at my breaking point. "You know what he is when he's on human blood? Klaus knows it too, and will probably want to take advantage of it."

Relief washed over me as I pondered that.

"But," I choked out, "But we brought him back from that before. All we have to do is find Klaus, and figure out a way to -"

I had already been moving toward the door when I walked into something solid and oddly sweaty.

"That'd be a very emphatic 'Hell no!'" Damon exclaimed, grabbing my upper arms and pushing me back, steering me back toward the bed as if to contain me there. "The whole point of this charade was to make Klaus believe that you are of the dear departed, and you storming in there, guns blazing, to rescue your perfectly capable, if a little slow, boyfriend, is definitely against the rules."

"But -"

He cut me off with a finger to my lips.

"He made a deal with the devil, Elena. And he'll keep his word. Whatever Klaus is demanding from him, Stefan will do. His rabid need to be 'honourable' is almost as strong as his fun little ripper habit."

I had slapped him then, hard. So hard my hand was throbbing, and he hadn't even budged.

"Ow," he grunted, grabbing my wrist and pinning my hands to my sides. "Look, this isn't your responsibility anyways. I'm the one who got bitten; I'm the one who almost died; I'm the reason he's there. So you can scoot off to Stefan's bedroom and sit tight, and I will go arrange for a trade."

Confusion flooded me. I had no idea what he planned to do, although in retrospect, I really should have guessed.

"Trade what? We have nothing he wants," I thought out loud.

Damon simply looked at me like I was ten different kinds of special. Then, he shook his head.

"Never mind. You just hang out, and it'll all be set right in a jiffy."

He released my arms and turned on his heel, still limping a little as he made for the door.

And then, the penny dropped.

"Wait a second, Damon! You can't trade yourself!"

I jumped off the bed and barrelled into him, wrapping my arms tightly around his waist as if that would make a difference. He stiffened, and I could feel all of the muscles in his back and abdomen tightening. And then something in my abdomen tightened too.

I ignored it.

His hands covered mine, and he pried my fingers apart, turning in place so we were chest to chest.

"Try and stop me," he growled, peering down his nose into my eyes.

So I did.

I stepped up on my tiptoes and kissed him lightly. He froze for all of a second before lifting me up and blurring me back to the bed. I laid back and he fell on top of me, pressing me into the mattress perfectly. His hands were on either side of my head as I threaded my fingers into his hair, holding him closer to me, making sure that he was not going anywhere.

And it was in that moment that something changed. The original intention had been to distract him long enough so that he would think a little more clearly, figure out a way to get Stefan back before putting himself or anyone else at risk.

But as soon as I had found myself underneath him, my tongue in his mouth, one of his hands grazing my side, a whole new intention stormed into my brain with all of the subtlety of German military tank. I wanted this.

After weeks of stress and fear and big decisions, what I needed in that moment was for someone to hold me, kiss me, touch me, love me, tell me it would all be okay.

I needed Stefan.

I had Damon.

I almost did a bad thing.

I would have done a bad thing if Damon hadn't stopped me.

"Elena," he breathed into my mouth, but I only kissed him harder, pressing his face closer to mine.

He tried to pull back, to look into my eyes, but I wouldn't let him, couldn't let him. I was so scared of what I would see there.

But he was stronger, and broke off, leaning back out of our embrace. And when he finally caught my eyes, it was like he could read my mind, see all of my secrets, understand what I was doing before I even knew what I was doing.

"Oh God," he groaned, a look of disgust warping his features as he stepped back from the bed. "I can't – Elena how could -"

"Damon don't, please," I begged, standing up and moving closer to him, trying to get him back to where I needed him. "Can't I just have one night? Can't you just give me one night?"

He was silent for a moment, his fists clenching and unclenching at his sides.

"One night?" he growled. "One night!" he yelled that time. "No, Elena! No! You cannot take one night from me! Not like this! Did you not – Were not just there, in that bed, five minutes ago. Did you hear what I said to you?"

I nodded, almost unable to speak, but he stared at me harder, and I squeaked out a, "Yes!"

He was still far away from me, pacing erratically. "I love you. I love you! I love you! I love you! I love you! Do you know what that means?"

I shook my head. I realized, then, that I had no idea what that meant. Not to him.

"It means, Elena, that you cannot ask me to do this! You can't ask me to sell my soul just for one night with you. Because then what, huh? Tomorrow, we'll wake up, and we'll start searching for Stefan. And that night, will it happen again? How about the night after that? And the night after that? And every night until we find him, and then you're spending your nights with him again, and I'm left to rot and dwell on every moment, every move, every sound that you made during my nights!"

"Damon, I didn't – I didn't mean..." I stuttered, backing away to the bed again, trying to escape the mess I'd made.

"So no, Elena, you cannot have one night. You could have me forever, except that I know what your forever is. It's Stefan, it'll always be Stefan. You like me, but you love him. And I will not be your bed-warmer until he comes back to take his rightful place!"

He was sweating again, and his face had lost it's colour. I had made it worse, I realized, when he clutched at his chest for a moment, before realizing what he was doing and stumbling past me to the shower.

"Go home, Elena. We're done here. We can talk tomorrow when everyone's more clear-headed and sane."

And with that, he slammed the door, and I burst into tears.

"Oh," is all that Jeremy seems to be able to say in light of my revelations.

My admission to being the bad guy, and Damon being virtuous and honourable; the better man that I've always known he is.

"Yeah," I answer, still looking at my hands. "He said the same thing tonight, when I brought up my -" I pause, blush at the melodrama of it all. "- Feelings. He said that I was just trying to replace Stefan, but I'm not Jer!" I turn to him, next to me on my bed, pleading with my eyes for him to believe me. "Stefan's gone from us. And it's time that I stop letting my love for a ghost," he flinches a little at that wording, "Get in the way of how I feel now."

And just like that, Jeremy gets it. He understands that this isn't a spur of the moment change, but rather a slow erosion, like water over rocks. That my feelings for Damon have been percolating over the course of the past year, and are just now ready to be made known.

I yawn, and Jeremy's lips quirk.

"Alright, I get it. And I'll try to talk to Ric for you."

He rises, takes a few steps toward my bedroom door before stopping and facing me.

"I guess I should be happy for you, but I'm still a little worried. This could go really badly, you know that, right?"

I nod slowly while smiling. "But it could go really well too."

Jer grins and disappears and I head into the bathroom for my nightly routine.

When I re-enter my bedroom, I am a little bit surprised that Damon isn't there, in the middle of my bed, teddy bear tucked into his arms, booted feet crossed on top of my blankets. With a disappointed sigh, I crawl under the covers and snap the lamp off, curling up and snuggling into my pillow.

After a few restless minutes, I switch sides, and then flop onto my back. I close my eyes, covering them with my hands. This seems to work, as my thoughts slow and mingle, making no sense and all kinds of sense. My breathing slows, my body relaxes and my mattress dips.

Hold on.

My eyes snap open to see Damon sitting next to me, watching me quietly, calmly.

"Hey," I whisper, reaching out to cover his hand with my own.

"I know you said tomorrow, but..." he drifts off, reaching across with his other hand to tuck my hair behind me ear.

I'm a little groggy, and a little slow, and my eyes close. He cups my cheek and I roll my body to nuzzle his palm. We're like that for a few minutes, in silence, but I'm still hyper-aware of his body so close to mine.

I pull on the blankets.

"Are you cold?" he asks quietly.

"Take off your shoes," I mumble.


I grunt a little, tug the blanket harder.

"Take off your shoes and your jacket and get in here please. I can't sleep when you're that close, and that far."

I know how I sound, pitiful and petulant, but quite frankly, I'm too tired to care. And I know that in the morning, I might be irritated (but secretly thankful) that I'm too tired to do anything to Damon now that he's safely tucked in with me, and I'm safely tucked under his arm. But I don't think I'm quite ready for that just yet. I think I need to figure out exactly how deep this new affection runs before doing something that could hurt him.

I sigh contentedly and wriggle closer, one arm slung over his mid-section, one leg twined around one of his.

He presses his lips to my forehead softly, and I smile.

"Good night, Elena."

I murmur something that should have made sense, but didn't. And then the blackness takes over.

Everyone confuses these things with love,

but in reality,

LOVE is the only thing in this world that covers up all the pain

and makes us feel wonderful.