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"No," Elena gasped, pulling herself from his embrace. Her mind was racing and panic was slowly setting in. She pulled her knees to her chest, trying to protect herself from the truth. This couldn't be happening. It just couldn't.
"Elena," he said quietly, reaching for her. He was thrown when she recoiled from his movement. That hurt like a bitch.
"Wait, what do you mean 'we'?" she asked suspiciously.
"I meant, you and I," he said slowly, maintaining a safe distance from her, but watching her like a hawk.
"Oh my God," she cried, her voice breaking with the sob she was trying to hold back. She hugged her knees tighter, trying to keep herself together, but it was an effort in vain.
"How?" she whispered shakily. Her eyes lifted to his and she saw the anguish written all over his face. He died – she'd watched Tyler/Klaus snap his neck right in front of her.
"Caroline tried to heal you after Klaus was killed, but there was just too much damage done," he explained softly, his eyes never leaving hers. His gaze was too intense and she dropped hers to the invisible piece of lint on the sweats she was wearing. She hadn't been wearing them before and it made her heart feel a little lighter to think that Damon knew she'd want to be comfortable.
"And you?" she whispered, peeking up at him from under her lashes.
The room was quiet for a few moments and she could feel him squirm on the bed uncomfortably. His gaze darted around the room as if searching for an answer to her question.
"I asked Caroline to give me her blood before I came to find you," he admitted in a quiet voice, so quiet she almost didn't hear him.
Her eyes shot to his at his admission. She saw every conflicting emotion laid out plain and simple in front of her. Fear, hope, heartache and love. A lot of love.
"You don't want to be a vampire," she told him quietly, blinking back the familiar stinging of tears behind her eyes.
He gave her a sad smile. "Neither do you."
Tears filled her eyes as she shook her head. The truth of his words hit her hard. What hurt worse was the devastation in his eyes when he uttered the words.
"No," she said and her voice broke. "I don't want to be a vampire."
The floodgates opened and she let out a strangled sob as tears rolled down her cheeks. He reached out and pulled her onto his lap. She went willingly, wrapping her arms around his neck and crying into his shoulder. Everything from the past few weeks came rushing over her. Meeting Damon, the feeling she got around Stefan, Stefan attacking her, seeing Katherine, the cave sex, the sacrifice, seeing Damon's lifeless body on the ground, getting her memories back, and finally, learning that she was becoming the one thing she never wanted to be.
He ran his hand through her hair and held her until her cries turned into quiet whimpering. The tears had vanished, leaving only dry, painful sobs crippling her body and taking everything she had with them.
"You don't have to go through with it," he said softly, burying his face in her hair and inhaling her scent. "You don't deserve this. I'm so, so sorry, baby."
"You don't want me to?" she asked quietly, pulling back to look at his face.
"I think you need to think about this away from me," he said and she could hear the pain in his voice that he was trying to mask.
"What?" she breathed in question, pushing herself away from him more, taking in his whole face with her greedy, searching gaze.
"This is a lot to take in, you just got all your memories back and on top of that you are transitioning into something you never wanted to become. I don't want to be the reason you do something you don't want to do," he said softly, lifting his hand to run his fingers down her cheek and trace her lips.
"Damon," she said, trying to give him anything that would take that desolate look out of his eyes.
He took a deep, shaky breath before speaking again. "You once told me that you loved Stefan, that it would always be Stefan. I know that we have been... together since you've been back, but now that you've regained your memories, I want you to be sure of what you are doing. And of who you are doing it with."
His words made complete sense and it only hurt her more. Could her love for him really be enough to justify turning into a monster? A monster? No. Damon had been a vampire almost the entire time she'd known him and she'd never thought of him as a monster.
Was this something she could do? Was this something he even wanted her to do? Surely if he wanted her to transition he would've said something - begged, pleaded - anything. But he did nothing.
"Can you just hold me a little longer?" she asked in a small voice. For just a few more moments she wanted to just be in his arms and put off the inevitable just a while longer.
"Okay," he whispered, pulling her into his arms without hesitation and burying his face in her hair.
Caroline heard everything. Elena was alive - well, she was in transition. Tears pricked her eyes when she heard the sheer relief and love in Damon's voice when she came to. She tried not to listen to much after that, tried to give them their privacy in case they wanted to do other things.
She hummed to herself and let the liquor flow generously. She was snapped out of her inner thoughts when she heard Elena rush past the living room and slam the door of one of the guest bedrooms. Caroline knew what she needed to do. She got up, rushed to the door and without knocking, walked right in.
Elena was dressed in Damon's clothes, laying face first on the large mattress.
"'Lena?" she asked quietly.
"Go away," Elena groaned, her voice muffled by the duvet.
"That's the vampire blood talking," Caroline scolded playfully.
"I'm sorry, Care," she said quietly, pushing herself up into a sitting position.
"It's ok - it's a lot to take in, but I'm here for you," Caroline said earnestly, crawling onto the bed next to her best friend.
Elena crossed her legs and dropped her head into her hands, sighing in defeat.
"What are you doing down here anyway?" Caroline asked, trying to remember hearing Damon and Elena fight at all, but she couldn't recall a thing.
"Damon basically kicked me out of his room," Elena mumbled, her head still resting in her hands.
"Why would he do that?" Caroline asked, shifting so she was sitting knees to knees with Elena.
Elena lifted her head from her hands, and with tears in her eyes, she said, "I don't think he wants me to do it. To turn."
"Elena, if you really think that, you are delusional," Caroline said seriously.
"He practically threw me out the door, Caroline," Elena cried, putting her hands on her head again and trying to keep the tears at bay.
"You didn't see him when he was sure you were dead. He was so broken, Elena. I could hardly even look at him," Caroline said, leaning forward and pulling Elena's hands off her face. The heartbreak she saw there was astounding.
"Why would he kick me out? Why wouldn't he ask me to turn?" Elena asked, hating how pathetic and needy she sounded.
"Elena, he's not going to make that decision for you, not after the first time," Caroline said, tangling her fingers with Elena's and squeezing them to show her that she was here for her.
Elena thought about the first time. The time when he was so desperate to keep her alive that he forced his blood on her, guaranteeing that she'd become a vampire. It was a moment that she finally understood. She'd forgiven him long ago for it, but now she understood. If she had the choice to force him to turn or lose him forever, she'd force him to turn, no matter how angry he'd be with her.
"You have to decide for yourself what you want to do. I didn't have a choice, Elena. You have a choice and someone who will love you for eternity or follow you in death should you choose either way." It was hard for Caroline to think of Elena choosing death. She was selfish and wanted her best friend for eternity, but, like Damon, she wouldn't make the choice for Elena.
"Thank you, Caroline," Elena whispered.
"That's what I'm here for." Caroline gave her a blinding smile.
"No, not just this, but for saving me. Giving me your blood. Giving me a choice," Elena explained quietly, fighting tears of gratitude.
"You are my best friend, Elena. I love you, of course I'd try to save you," Caroline replied in a shaky voice, fighting her own tears.
"I love you, too." She smiled through her tears and pulled Caroline in for a hug. They just held each other while they cried together.
She knew what she needed to do. She had one last stop, one last conversation to have before she could go back to Damon and bury herself in his arms for eternity. The thought left her with a smile and butterflies in her stomach. A smile that dropped when she stopped in front of Stefan's door. She steadied herself with a deep breath before raising her fist and knocking on the door. Her knocks were strong, much stronger than she felt. The door opened quickly to reveal Stefan standing on the other side, looking very... broody, for lack of a better word.
"We need to talk," she said seriously, and walked past him into the room.
"Elena," he said, his voice full of anguish that only served to piss her off. So she took three very deliberate and measured steps toward him before launching her palm across his face. She reveled in the satisfying sound that cracked through the room and the way his head snapped to the side with the blow.
"Don't you dare 'Elena' me," she growled at him, her face only inches from his. "How could you, Stefan?"
"You remember," he said quietly, his head turning to look at her.
"Yes, I remember," she snapped, shaking her head and turning to walk a few steps from him before facing him once more. "How could you do that to me? To your own brother? I trusted you!" She crossed her arms over her chest and tried to keep her breathing in check.
"I'm so sorry," Stefan replied sadly. He tried to take a step closer to her, but she countered it quickly.
"Sorry isn't going to cut it, Stefan," she barked out with a humorless chuckle.
"I wasn't in my right mind," he tried to explain, shaking his head. He for damn sure hadn't been in his right mind.
"Then you need to get your blood lust under control and start taking responsibility for your actions," she said harshly, pointing a finger in his direction.
"I am. I'm going to work on it," he said urgently, trying to will her to believe him with his words.
"And from now on, I want nothing to do with you," she said in a strong voice.
"Elena, I'm so sorry," he cried, trying desperately to keep her from cutting him out of her life. Out of her eternity.
"I loved you, I really did, but that was a long time ago. I told you three years ago that I chose Damon and I'm choosing him now. It'll always be Damon," she said with a wistful smile flitting across her lips. Jealousy tore through him like a hot iron. And boy, did it hurt. All he could see was green and that only pissed him off. Only once in his life had he ever been jealous of his brother - the night he took Elena's memories away.
"Eternity is a long time, Elena," Stefan said, hoping to inject just enough doubt in her mind.
"What are you suggesting?" she asked, narrowing her eyes at him suspiciously.
"Damon is Damon." Stefan shrugged, trying to give off the air of nonchalance. "He's going to mess up and he'll lash out when things don't go his way. I'm saying that I have an eternity to show you that I'm the better choice," he said, taking slow steps toward her, successfully closing the majority of the space between them.
"That right there, Stefan, is why you will never be the better choice for me," she hissed before moving around him and slamming his door with a resonating rumble. It wasn't over. She would see. Sooner or later Damon would screw up and he would be able to prove to her once again that they were meant to be. He would work with Katherine, he would learn control and he would be the better man.
And sooner or later, she'd see it too.
She moved across the boarding house with renewed purpose, ready to change her life forever. With Damon. She smiled at the thought and her feet started to move faster. Never in her life did she ever think that she'd be ready to make this choice. Never did she think she'd actually be happy to make it.
She was nervous for what that new life could bring her, but she knew that if she was facing it with Damon, everything would be okay. He would keep her safe. He would make sure she wouldn't take an innocent life. She trusted him with her human life and she would trust him with her vampire life.
She burst through his door to see him in the same place she left him. Still shirtless, sitting cross-legged in the middle of the bed, staring straight ahead. His gaze landed on hers when he heard the door open. He looked absolutely desolate, as if he'd lost all hope. His eyes lit slightly when he saw her standing in his doorway.
"Come to say goodbye?" he asked. His voice was hurt and hopeless.
"No," she said, shaking her head and walking to the edge of the bed before crawling across the mattress to him. She sat back on her heels before taking his face in her hands. "I didn't come to say goodbye. I came to say that I'll do it."
He openly gaped at her, his body seemingly frozen as he processed her words.
"Elena, you don't have to do this because you think it's what I want," he said quietly, almost insecurely.
"I'm not doing it for you, Damon. I'm doing it for me because I can't imagine a life without you. Because I'm not ready to be without you and if I don't want to be without you, this is what I have to do," she explained, praying that her words would take the devastated look off of his face. "I love you, Damon," she whispered, leaning into him. "I want to be with you forever."
She let her words hang for a moment before she finally closed the distance between their lips. He stayed frozen a moment longer before one arm snaked around her waist, pulling her against him, and his other hand tangling into her hair, holding her against his mouth as he moved his lips against hers expertly. He tasted like heaven, like her future, he tasted like he was hers. He held her tight, like she'd slip away at any moment, and she gladly held him the same way.
All too soon, he ripped his lips from hers. She opened her eyes in a daze, fearing that he wouldn't want her to do it. But relief washed through her when she saw the awestruck smile on his face.
"You are going to be mine?" he whispered, his voice full of wonder, of hope, of love.
She nodded with tears in her eyes before she breathed out one word.
End of Part I
There you have it. The end of Closer than Most.
I will be writing a sequel. So expect that sometime in the near future.
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Thanks to every single person I bothered about this story. You are all seriously so amazing.
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