yeah, who knows. /review?

title from shelter - birdy.


i find shelter in this way.

Stefan kills Elena – hands gripped tight around her neck, he sinks his fangs into her skin, drinking until she's gone dry. He ignores her tense body beneath him, her quietly whimpering his name and please, stop.

He drinks until she's limp beneath him; her hands once struggling to remove his from her neck fall from his grasp, pale white against the sheets. Stefan licks his lips, tucks strands of her hair behind her ear, and kisses her cheek – the tip of his fangs cut her skin.

–;

Elena wakes up, breath ragged, with one of Stefan's hands rubbing soothing circles on her neck. His breath hitting right against her cheek, "What's wrong?" With wide eyes and quivering lips she says, "I'm fine."

"Go back to sleep," he lulls, peppering kisses down her face. His voice is quiet and just for her. She nods her head eagerly, wraps her arms around him tight.

–;

Sometimes Elena dreams of the monster he'll become – the monster he was, the monster he is – and sometimes she's not so frightened.

She traces the outline of one of his fangs with her finger. Slow, warm breath against his mouth, she feels the tip of the fang break her skin. She snatches her finger away with a small gasp, watches Stefan shy away immediately.

"Stefan, no. No." She closes her eyes to regain focus, "It's okay. It's okay." She reassures, walking towards him. She reaches him, runs her hands up and over his shoulders, lays her hands gently against his chest. On her toes, she leans up and whispers sweet in his ear. He turns around right as his face and eyes turn back to normal. She kisses the side of his mouth, "Hey, it's okay." And wipes the blood off on her jeans.

–;

Other times, Elena does not dream at all.

She finds him in an alley, hunched over and whimpering. She wonders what Lexi would do right now – right here with his bloody hands and his sharp teeth and the lifeless body at his feet.

She wants to know what she's supposed to do. But Lexi's dead and she's the only one who knows Stefan like this, but Elena will try because she has to.

She cautiously walks to him, bends down, careful not to startle him, and whispers his name. Her own fear tries its best to tremble in her voice, but it does not. She will not let it. She grabs onto his arm and tries pulling him. He looks up, worry and fear and sadness and shame in his eyes, and he wants confirmation that it's her. "Elena?" He asks, voice hoarse and blood on his teeth.

She nods quickly, "Come on. Let's get you out of here." He lets her pull him up and, careful not to get blood everywhere, Elena holds his hand.

She wonders if Lexi would have done this; wonders if she's even doing it right.

She goes back later, when Stefan's in the bed with the covers tucked tight and nightmares instead of dreams, and disposes of the body.

She wipes no tears away, simply because there are none. She almost laughs humorlessly at how years ago she would have sobbed, but Stefan would have never done this anyway.

–;

Most times she doesn't even have to dream.

Reality is real and it's right in front of, shoved so close to her face that she feels it on her cheek, breathing ragged, telling her this is forever and this is always.

Reality is mean and it's ugly and frightening – slapping her in the face with all of its facts, transferring blood from Stefan's hand to hers when she holds it, kissing her gently at night.

Stefan kisses her so hard he almost draws blood, but he doesn't mean to. And there's reality again, stinging her cheek, letting her know that this is forever and this is always. Stefan is forever, always, and whatever comes with that.

–;

She likes to dream though.

She and Stefan live on the coast and he's so handsome bringing in firewood and she's so delicate sitting by the fire.

Stefan kisses her gently, still chilly from the cold. But she doesn't care, offers him her blanket when he puts the wood on the fire. He obliges, settles comfortable on the couch, lets her cuddle close to his side.

They drink tea and it is perfect. It is normal.

Then she wakes up and Stefan's nursing a blood bag in the bathroom, but she can still smell the crimson.

–;

She doesn't like nightmares. She stays away from those. She tries.

She wakes up again and Stefan's staring down at her with worry arched in his brow and concern on his lips. And he's baby this and shhh that. So she snuggles closer to him, lets him pepper kisses to her hair, lets his shirt dry her tears.

–;

She doesn't tell him what she dreams about. She thinks maybe those are worse than the nightmares. Because all they are are the moments that they'll never have and the normalcy that she gave up, the humanity that was stripped away from him.

She doesn't tell him anything she doesn't think he needs to hear, sticks to the kisses and the I love you, Stefan because that is enough. And that is better than the blood and the fangs and the terror and fact that she's become too comfortable with cleaning up his messes, nursing him back to health.

Anything is better than not having him at all.