Prologue: Six Degrees of Desperation

"Wouldn't it be lovely if we were old? We'd have survived all this. Everything thing would be easy and uncomplicated; the way it was when we were young. Katie, it was never uncomplicated." –The Way We Were, 1973.

Elena took in a deep breath as she turned off the highway and pulled onto the long driveway that had once led to her home. Her black Mercedes crawled slowly up the pavement as Elena considered turning around and simply forgetting about this trip altogether. But, deep down, she knew she couldn't forget this. In a few months all of this would be over and today she needed to see him just one last time. She needed to make sure he was still breathing and just look at his beautiful face once more before all was said and done. She had called every day for the past week and no one had answered. She had asked friends and family if they had seen him, yet no one could seem to give her a straight answer. Deep down she knew this visit could be a disaster, but she at least owed him this, frankly she owed him so much more.

Slowly, Elena pulled up to the front of the large French colonial home that sat at the top of the driveway. The breathtakingly beautiful home was just as she remembered it and was definitely something she would never be able to forget: An immaculate archway with large white pillars that opened up to the wrap around porch, the rose bushes he had planted because he knew they were her favorite flower and the perfectly broken step just at the base of the stairs that she had broken when she had tried to back up too fast after one of their infamous fights. Everything in front of her held a special memory of the life that she had lived for the past two years, a life she was now giving up.

Elena took one last deep breath and then finally opened the door to her car and stepped out onto the pavement. She took in the beautiful smell of the freshly cut grass and began to make her way up the driveway. As she got closer to the house she felt panic hit her as she noticed the front door standing wide open. She turned and saw Damon's midnight blue Mustang parked crookedly near the grass. Something was definitely wrong and after months of pretending she knew she was about to find out exactly what that something was.

The second Elena walked into the house she felt as if she had stepped into another world. Everything was exactly how she had left it months ago. The mail was still lying on the table in the hall, the closet door was opened from when she had grabbed her coat and her keys were still hanging on the hook where she had hung them just before she walked out the door. She closed her eyes and felt the pain shoot through her as memories of that night invaded her mind, she shook her head, now was not the time for memory lane. She just needed to check on him and then leave, once and for all.

Elena slowly walked down the hall as the sound of her heels on the wooden floor echoed throughout the house. She quickly ran her fingers through her long chocolate brown hair and then rounded the corner and entered the parlor. Once she entered, she looked around and realized that at least one room in the house definitely had changed since her departure. There was a fire roaring in the fireplace and empty bottles of liquor were scattered across the tables and even the floor around her. A rock ballad thumped quietly out of the speakers beside her and clothes were strewn across the floor. She looked to the other side of the room and saw him sitting in a large overstuffed leather chair. His head hung heavily on the back of the chair and his messy jet black hair fell around his eyes. He didn't move, but she knew he knew she was there.

"I thought you were never coming back." Damon's voice broke through the thick air of the room and almost made Elena jump. She looked down at the floor and then started moving closer toward him.

"I wanted to make sure you were alright. I've been trying to reach you for days and you haven't answered any of my calls." She said quietly. She heard the low rumble of a laugh coming from Damon as he finally turned his head and looked at her. His eyes were blood shot and his face was painfully pale.

"Now you care about if I'm alright? You didn't seem to give a fuck when you packed up your shit and walked out of here a few months ago. Why do you care now?" He asked. Elena shook her head and she felt her hands begin to shake.

"Damon, I have always cared about you, you know that. I just had to get out of here. This wasn't good for anyone anymore." She said quickly as she continued to avoid his eyes.

"It wasn't good for you anymore, Elena? Well, God I am so sorry that this wasn't good for you! Here I was thinking everything was perfect! I know I was having a blast! That must have been fucking horrible for you." He said as he pushed himself out of the chair and shakily found his footing.

Elena looked up and watched as Damon began to slowly make his way toward her. He walked slowly and staggered as he reached down and tried to steady himself on a chair. His black dress pants hung low on his hips and his white button down dress shirt hung open exposing the rippling tight muscles of his chest and stomach. To say that Damon was drunk was an understatement, but no matter what, he would always be the most beautiful man she had ever laid eyes on in her entire life. That, and so many other things, made this even harder than it already was.

"So, why are you really here Elena? Miss me that much, or should I just get my checkbook now?" He asked in a sour tone as an un-amused smile twisted on his lips. Elena looked down at the floor.

"Damon, I don't want your money. I am here because I just wanted to make sure you were alright." She said as she looked up and finally met his painfully blue eyes. She reached out her hand and touched her fingertips to his hand softly.

"So are you alright?" She asked softly. Damon stared at her and then looked down at her hand. He quickly grabbed it in his and pushed her back into the wall as anger rushed through him.

"No Elena, I am not alright. I am fucking pissed off. In the past few months I have lost everything, EVERYTHING! You left Elena, you just fucking left! You packed your shit in the middle of the night and ran like a coward. You couldn't even face me! I might not deserve a lot Elena, but I deserve better than that!" He spat as he tightened his grip on her delicate wrist. Elena winced against the pain, but just let out a ragged breath.

"Damon, I am sorry. I had to leave, you don't understand." She said softly. Damon laughed low once again as he stared at her.

"I don't understand? I understand perfectly. I have known you for almost your entire life Elena, trust me I understand. You got scared. You got scared and you ran. You always run when you are scared. I am here, why couldn't you just run to me? For once in your life why couldn't you have just stayed? Why couldn't you have just come to me? I have tried to give you everything. I would give you my life if you asked me to, all I have ever wanted was you. But I don't get you because you are too afraid, you have always been too fucking afraid." He said as emotion flooded his voice. Elena stared up at him and felt tears begin to well up in her eyes. She nodded her head and then looked down at the floor.

"I know and I am sorry, but I didn't know what else to do but run. It hurt so bad, it still hurts so badly. It was like someone ripped out a part of me and now I can't find it. I don't know who I am, or who I am supposed to be." She said as the tears began to spill down her cheeks. Damon's expression softened and he let out a sigh as he dropped her wrist. He leaned closer to her face and stared into her chocolate brown eyes and saw the same pain he had seen in the mirror every day for the past few months.

"I know exactly who you are. You are Elena Salvatore. You are my wife and you are scared. I am scared too but if you would just let me in then I can be strong for you. I will give you everything that I am and I will love you forever, hell, I've loved you my entire life, let me love you for the rest of it. Just give me the chance to do it, just let me in and we can survive this, together." He said softly, the sweet smell of Bourbon rolled off his breath and made Elena feel intoxicated just by being near him. The tears continued to roll down her face.

"Damon, I…" She started, but suddenly she felt his hands moving up her sides. She closed her eyes and felt the warmth from his touch overwhelm her. It had been months since she had felt his hands on her and feeling him now only made her more confused on why she was really there.

"Let me make it better Elena. God, just let me touch you again." He said in a whisper as his hands ran over her now ridged frame. Elena let out a ragged breath as Damon leaned closer to her, his lips gently touched her cheek as he ran his lips over her wet skin. He kissed her tears and ran his fingers over her lips. Elena opened her mouth and let her head fall back onto the wall behind her. The taste of his skin was like a drug and having one taste always made her want more. It had been so long, she needed him, she knew she needed him and she knew if she just let him touch her she would forget the pain, if only for a few hours, it would all go away.

"Damon…" She whispered, but before she could say anything else she felt his lips crash down on hers. He kissed her hungrily as he pushed her further into the wall. His hands roamed her body as she moaned into his mouth. Months of pain began to fade into the background as all Elena felt was him. He was all that mattered, he was all she needed, maybe everything would be alright if she just stayed and they could be like this, forever.

Damon slowly pulled away and looked into Elena's eyes. His breath came out in ragged pants as he studied her face. Elena felt reality crash back down around her as she stared up into his beautiful cobalt blue eyes. Pain moved through her body as she looked at him. Memories of the four months before slammed into her body and suddenly she remembered why she had left and why his touch, in the end, would never be enough.

"Damon we can't do this." She said softly as she turned her head away from him. Damon let out a sigh and gritted his teeth. He looked up at the ceiling and tried to hold in the rage that was suddenly coursing through his veins.

"Why, Elena? Why can't we do this?" He asked in a bitter tone. Elena felt her heart sink as she heard the pain in his voice, but she wouldn't allow herself to meet his stare.

"You know why we can't Damon. I left for a reason and I came here to make sure you were alright, nothing more." She said slowly.

Elena jumped as Damon's hand slammed into the wall beside her head. He moved so there was one hand on each side of her head as he caged her against him. Her breath began to quicken as she felt his pain turn into anger in an instant.

"This is about him isn't it, Elena?" He asked bitterly. Elena looked at the floor.

"Damon, please." She started, but he cut her off before she could finish.

"God Damnit Elena, I can't do this forever. He's gone, Nicolas is gone. You have to let him go!" He yelled as he looked down at her. Elena turned and looked into Damon's eyes. She stared daggers at him as she felt her heart pound in her chest. Rage filled her body and she pulled her hand free from between their bodies and in a quick flash, slapped him across the face. Damon stared at her and shock seemed to replace the anger in his expression.

"Let him go, Damon! Fuck you! It was a mistake to come here. When I left I never intended on coming back and I should've stuck with it." She screamed as tears once again began to flood down her face. Damon moved closer to her so she wasn't able to get away.

"Look at me. Look at me Elena!" He screamed. Elena shook her head, but in an instant Damon's hand was under her chin forcing her eyes to his. She tried to fight against him, but he was far too strong for her.

"Damon, I can't." She said as she sobbed against him. Damon breathed out heavily and then dropped her chin. He put his hands back on the walls beside her and pressed his forehead to hers.

"Why when you look at me do you only see him? You haven't seen me in months, Elena; I just want you to see me. Maybe if you could just do that, you would remember that you still love me." He said softly. Elena felt another sob escape her mouth. She shook her head.

"I do love you Damon. I love you more than anything." She cried as she reached out and put her hands on his chest. Damon moved his arm and wrapped his hand around both of hers.

"If you love me, then why are you doing this? Why are you leaving me?" He asked with pain in his voice. Elena looked up and fought back her tears so that she could finally say the words that she had been convincing herself of for the past month.

"Because Damon, it's not enough anymore. It's just not enough." She said softly. Damon stared down at her and in an instant pulled his hands away from her. He backed up and looked at her as if she had just shot him in the chest. He shook his head and Elena watched as he bit back the pain and anger flooded over him once again.

"Get out, Elena." He said in a hoarse voice. Elena shook her head and tried to move toward him, but he held his arm out to her and she knew that he was done talking and saying anything else would only make it worse.

"I said get out. I will sign the fucking papers and you can go wherever the hell you want. I will make sure you are taken care of, but I don't ever want to see you again. Do not come back here again and I mean it." He said as he clenched his jaw. Elena stared at him and then slowly nodded. She turned and began to slowly walk out of the parlor to make her way to the door. Before, she made it out of the room she turned back and looked at him. She saw tears running down his face as he stared into the orange flames of the fireplace.

"I will never stop loving you Damon. I have loved you since the day I met you. And someday I hope you understand why I had to do this." She said in a quiet tone. Damon shook his head but did not look at her.

"I hope so too." He said quietly.

After a moment, Elena turned and quickly walked down the long hallway to the front door. She looked around one last time at the memories of the life she was now leaving behind. She never thought she would leave this house because of all the happiness that it once held, but now as she looked around all she saw was pain and sadness. Elena reached out and gently touched the front door as felt tears sting in her eyes. She let out a deep breath and suddenly she felt like the scared little girl she had been eighteen years before. As she turned the knob the only thing that rang in her ears was her mother's voice. "Run Elena Run!"

Please read and review. This is going to be a novel of a fan fiction lol and I definitely want the input if you want to share it. I have had a horrible bout of writers block (as people probably have noticed from my unfinished other works) but am inspired and back in the game now! I will post the next chapter by tonight. Thanks everyone! XOXOXO-Nikki