"I think you'll be the one to save him," Elena said, tucking her hand under her pillow. "It won't be because he loves me. It'll be because he loves you." A part of her was a little sad she couldn't be the one to bring Stefan back from the edge, but a much larger part of her was warmed to see the bond of their brotherhood stronger than it had ever been. She knew better than anyone that nothing was more important then family. She would do anything for Jeremy, no matter the cost. Exhaustion was starting win the battle as she smiled a little at him. "Can I tell you the rest tomorrow?" she whispered feeling her heavy eyes start to have a mind of their own. It was so nice to just lay here and talk to him, with no pressure, no looks, just them.

The sweetest smile she had ever seen curled on his lips. "Sure," he said.

She snuggled deeper into her pillow, sighing in contentment when she felt Damon's chin barely brush the top of her head. She was letting him so far into her heart right now, she almost felt like he was filling her. "Good night Damon," she said her eyes falling closed. Her poor brain couldn't keep up tonight to sort through her feelings.

"Good night Elena," he said and her hand moved over to tangle with his over his stomach.

Elena inhaled deeply as she became aware of the sun streaming through her window across her face. She stretched, her hand moving over the spot where Damon would have been. She didn't think she could handle a morning after talk. Last night had been a big enough step for them both. With a sigh, she rubbed her swollen eyes before getting up and dressing, her nose telling her there was breakfast. She made her way downstairs, pausing hearing Ric's angry voice in the kitchen.

"You have to talk to her about it, Damon," Ric said in a not so hushed whisper. "She has them all the time. Every night."

Elena's heart skipped a beat. Ric was telling Damon about her nightmares. The horrible images from the night Stefan had attacked her were burned in her mind. She couldn't forget. Every night it seemed she had horrible dreams, Stefan ripping into her throat, and being alone. And now… Damon knew.

"You need to relax and not make a scene," Damon said, softly. Always protecting her virtue, even over something so little. "I will help Elena work it out. But not now. Just… don't bring it up to her, she's been through enough."

Elena hesitantly entered the kitchen, folding her arms. "How bad was it?" she whispered. Might as well jump in feet first and get it over with. Even if it felt like her heart was going to explode in her chest. Her voice was a little raspy, whether from screaming or sleep, she wasn't sure.

"I should leave you two alone," Ric said, making his exit.

Damon rolled his eyes. "Just have breakfast with me Elena," he said, softly, placing 2 plates of food on the counter. "We can talk about this after."

Her stomach growled in response and she made her way to take the stool Ric had vacated. "Thank you," she said softly, eyeing him carefully. How should they act around each other now? It scared her to death to have a change in their relationship, but she knew they had no choice now. She couldn't help her feelings. "I just don't want you fussing." She picked up her fork digging into the steaming plate of food, humming in happiness. The rest of the meal was pleasant and calm, and it wasn't till they were doing breakfast dishes together that she dared to bring up the elephant in the room. "So do I get my lecture now?"

Damon's brows creased as he dried his hands. "Why would I lecture you?" he asked, looking at her in that way when he was trying to peer into her soul, trying to find the answers he must know she didn't have. "There's nothing wrong with being afraid Elena. You've been through a lot." He moved around her kitchen with such ease and grace, like he belonged there. He was so comfortable around her, doing things for her, like it was the most natural thing in the world.

"Except I'm keeping the whole house up with my nightmares," she said sadly as she folded her arms over her chest, trying to prevent herself from having a break down. Her fingers dug into her arms, turning white from pressure. She thought the worse thing that could have happened this morning was waking up with Damon still beside her, and having to work out the awkwardness about her feelings, instead, they were standing in her kitchen talking about some horrific nightmares that had taken over her life.

She would have rather woken up with him next to her.

"What are they usually about?" Damon asked, leaning against the counter across from her. "What makes you wake up every time?"

She licked her lips, but answered him. "It's the same night over and over," she said, with a meek shrug. "But I never remember waking up Damon. Ric only… told me he woke me up and that I was having them. But I've left him with bruises, from thrashing. But I never remember anyone in my room waking me up, just the next morning. I um… had them for three nights I think before Ric told me."

"I woke you up last night," he said softly. "And you… seemed to know I was there."

"What did I say?" she whispered. She fell asleep last night hoping he would stay with her, but she never wanted it to turn out like this. He was already doing so much for her and she didn't want to add anymore problems to it.

Damon stared at her with a strange expression but he finally answered. "You just asked me to stay with you. You were afraid to be alone," he said carefully. "Just… seemed like a normal nightmare, and I woke you up and you went back to sleep."

"I'm scared all the time Damon," she said with a sniffle. "Even when he was locked up I was scared. I hate being alone. All the things I've been through the last two years, and I'm scared of Stefan." Stefan really didn't care about her right now, she couldn't rely on him to come back to her.

His hands gently rested on her shoulders squeezing them comfortingly before rubbing her upper arms. "You never have to be alone, Elena," he said softly. "I will always be here for you. You know I won't let him hurt you again."

"But you weren't there Damon," she said in a desperate voice as tears threatened to fall, her head falling tiredly against his chest. "You… weren't there when it happened. You left! And as soon as you did Stefan came after me. The damage has already been done. How can he say that I was the love of his life and he doesn't try hard enough to come home? He wanted to hurt people and not care and every time I close my eyes, his face is all I see." She clenched her eyes shut as tears leaked out the side as she pressed herself closer to him.

"I wish I had been here Elena," Damon said hugging her tightly to him. "And you don't know how badly I feel about that Elena."

But she did know. She could see it in his eyes every time he looked at her. "You wouldn't have left if we hadn't fought," she said. "It's my own fault." She had been in some land of denial under the false impression that she could recover the scraps of her life, that Stefan would come back to her, that she could fix him. But she couldn't. And she had been hurting Damon the whole time, allowing him to get closer to her, but never giving him anything concrete.

"We always fight," Damon said shrugging as if that wasn't a problem.

"Why?" she whispered raising her saddened expression to his. How could he say that he loved her and stand to fight with her like they did?

He frowned and wiped the tears away from her flushed cheeks. "Because if we don't fight we'll both say or do things we don't mean and end up with many consequences later that neither of us want," he said. "And how am I going to save Stefan if I'm stealing his girlfriend?"

"Is that all it is?" Elena asked. "After everything you and I have been through the last few months? You're… only stealing your brother's girlfriend?"

"If I had stolen you, that implies that I have you Elena," Damon said in a pained voice. "And even if you're screaming for me not to leave you in the middle of the night and even if its me you're falling asleep with, does that mean I have you? Even though you're heart races out of control when I'm in the same room with you, because you know how much you want to be with me, does that mean I have you Elena? Even though I'm not good for you Elena, I'm reckless and impulsive, does that mean I have you?"

"I meant what I said Damon," she said, sliding her hands up his chest to his neck. "I like you just the way you are. Everything we've been through shows that. You're the only one who's been on my side all this time."

"And what does that mean?" Damon asked softly.

She reached out to stroke his jaw, her breath catching in her throat. "That I don't want you to leave me," she whispered. "Ever."

His hands moved around her waist, gently tugging her body closer to his. "Elena," he whispered, even as their heads tilted closer together. "We should stop."

"Why?" she breathed.

"Because I'm head over heels in love with you, and all I want to do right now is take you back upstairs," he said, his forehead resting against hers. "And it's only 8 in the morning."

Elena glanced at the clock on the stove and giggled a little. "Fair point," she said, her hands cupping his face to kiss him softly.

Damon hugged her closer to him. "It's going to take some time, but I promise the nightmares will stop," he said softly. "And if that means I have to make love to you every night for the rest of your life, I'm not going to complain."

"You think that will solve it?" she asked breathlessly. "I think we should do that anyways. Starting tonight."

Damon gave her a searing kiss. "Tonight is going to be amazing," he said. "God I love you."

"I know," she said bumping her nose with his.