A/N: Thank you for all the sweet feed back, you guys are awesome.
She ends up sleeping for a couple days in his bed and he worries through the hours, keeping watch from a chair.
He'll bathe her and make her eat, he thinks just as the suns coming up on the second day through the glass panels of his balcony window. He'll change her clothes and brush her hair, get her to sit up and talk to him. Scream and hit him, let it out.
He'll fix her, he thinks, he will.
But when she does wake up, she gets out of bed, drags her way over to his bathroom and turns the water on herself. He's so startled by the entire thing that it takes him a full 30 seconds to be able to move.
"Help me." She says and he finds her standing in the middle of the shower, still clothed, not having the energy to take them off herself.
She watches him as he does. Piece by delicate piece, slowly and carefully. Gently. He hesitates when she's down to her underwear and stands back and turns around, ignoring that his chest has started to cave in a little because he saw that scar curl like a wire just over the elastic band of her blue underwear.
"Stefan, look at me." She whispers and Stefan turns, staring at her eyes that are filled with tears, knowing that his are filled with them too. Knowing that he was so in love with her, knowing he might not be enough, that it wasn't ever really about being enough anyway.
"What…what can I do, tell me what I can do."
And Elena bows her head, bending down as she pulled off her underwear, coming to stand again once she had.
"Hold me." Is all she says but he's coming forward and crushing against her before she can get all the words out.
"I'm so sorry, I'm so so sorry."
Somewhere between her falling, unable to keep standing and him holding her against him, clutching tighter and tighter, the water of the shower seems to start and the sobs that had been so stuck in her before seem to fall out all at once.
She's fully dressed, wearing a shirt he didn't know he still had and her sweat pants, lying across his bed when he comes back upstairs, bringing with him two bowls and a cereal box.
"All we have but it's fresh…I hope."
She begins to laugh, soft and muffled but catches herself, bringing her hand up to her face like she's just said something she shouldn't have and he walks into the room, pretending, for her benefit, that he hadn't heard anything at all.
They stayed in the shower for a long while and he washed her hair and washed her back as she sat against him, crying and crying. It was something. She had slept, showered and cried and it was something.
They eat in silence, her feet crossed beneath her and his slumped over the side of his bed.
"This is good." She says and digs her fingers back into her bowl. He hadn't given her much but she had almost finished all of it.
Stefan smiles, setting his bowl back on the ground. She stops, mid chew when they catch eyes.
She frowns, tilting her head to one side, looking suspicious, "Do I really look that bad?"
Stefan shakes his head, fiddling with a bit of his blanket with a smile on his face he can't seem to get rid of.
"No no, you look good."
Elena drops the leftover food from her hands, putting her bowl on the ground. She sits back against the headboard, tucking her knees up to her chest. Her hair was still wet, she hadn't bothered to comb or brush it back and it sticks a little to the sides of her face.
Stefan, without thinking about it, reaches forward and tucks it back behind her ears. Elena closes her eyes, "Stop." She whispers and he can't, doesn't. Coming forward to brush his fingers over her forehead, trailing down across the skin beneath her eyes.
But Elena shakes her head, bringing her chin to her chest and starts to cry.
"I'm not, I'm not."
Stefan, pulling his hand back, draws into himself. Wanting to do more, knowing he had done enough.
"This happened because I didn't want her." She cries and he's sure the ground will give way beneath them. Her, he thinks and closes his eyes as Elena curls herself into a ball. Her, he pictures. Her, he says under his breath and Elena only seems to cry harder.
He finds himself bringing his hand to her back, rubbing circles that don't meet up but seem to continue on anyway. She cries until she can't anymore, falling into a light sleep again and his hand keeps those circles going because he's pretty sure he's close to breaking down completely without her. For her. For how fucked up this all was.
Her, he circles into her back.
"Matt left me."
He's standing in front of the fire in the library and twists quickly around to find her up on the landing; it was late and she had been asleep for hours. He should've heard her coming down the stairs but hadn't and he wonders if maybe, he has just let himself forget that she was even there at all.
She curls her hand around one of the posts of the banister that wrapped itself around the room and he watches as she sways a little, a faint smile on her face.
"You left me." She continues and he knew where this was going before she even had to say it. He starts to walk towards her, feeling like his body was ten feet below the ground. Like moving at all took all he had left and when he gets to her, rubbing his hand across the small of her back, he's exhausted.
"I'm not leaving you now." He says as she turns against him, curling her arms to wrap around his neck; she's only half awake, he can tell, her eyes a grey disconnect.
"Take me to bed." She whispers.
He thinks he's half asleep too, maybe has been all this time and gently lifts her up, bringing her legs around his waist, walking them both back upstairs.
She falls asleep and he traces lines across her cheeks.
"I'll make you better." He whispers, knowing that he wasn't supposed to.
He'd give her the entire world if he could. Would've given her everything even though he left her and she lost the only thing he couldn't give her at all.
"I want to go swimming." She tells him. It's past midnight and pouring with rain.
"Where?" He asks, pretending that they could leave this room even though she could barely open her eyes to even look at him.
"The coast of Mexico." She mumbles with a smile and Stefan drops his journal onto the table, coming around the bed and sitting against it, reaching to take her hand.
"I'll take you." He promises and she closes her eyes again like that's all she wanted. Like it's enough.
"I'll take you too." She whispers and her hand loosens just before he can squeeze it, going lifeless and limp.
He pretends that it's the rain he hears as he chases animals through it, pretends that it's the rain and not his sobs that seem to rip and tear through him.
She's only wearing a pair of shorts as she stands at the long mirror, studying her body. It's less frail these days, she has more skin and more weight from the food he's been making her eat. She still sees the shell though, the lining of what used to be. What should be.
Her finger finds the mark, the thin line of a scar where they had to cut her open. "I'm sorry." She whispers and finds that when she meets her eyes on the mirror, she's crying tears she can't feel on her cheeks.
She traces the line over and over, like it would maybe disappear. Restarting her finger over it when she realizes that it doesn't.
"Enough." He says quietly and takes her hand, takes her body, bringing her back to bed, "It's enough now." She hears and closes her eyes, thinking that it was.
It was enough.
They stay together in that house for two years before leaving it, leaving the town for good. Even though neither of them say it aloud, they both know. It had to be it, had to be final.
"We'll go to Paris last." He sighs into her hair when they're lying in his bed late one night. He was going to show her the world, every last inch.
Elena smiles, rubbing at his chin, "And why, my sweet love, would you keep me from Paris?"
He kisses against her ear, "Because if we go there first, you won't want to see anything else."
She laughs as she reaches over for the light and they move their bodies to lay flat, holding one another's wrist and thinking private thoughts as they looked around the dark room.
"It happened today, you know."
He did know, wondered when she was going to mention it. Assumed she wasn't going to mention it at all.
Stefan pulls her hand up to his mouth and kisses her palm, "It happened today." He repeats and doesn't say anything else.
"Did you come back, knowing you could make it better or thinking you'd leave if it got worse."
The tears are in her throat, the memories, all of them in her words and though his heart seems to break, like it did all those months ago, he moves closer to her so that they were suddenly joined in the middle.
"I came back not knowing if I could help, not knowing if I could understand. Knowing I wouldn't be able to ever leave you again even if I didn't."
Elena hides herself in his shoulders, in his limbs as she pulled her clothes off and then his.
He traces her scar, like he always does right before, then lays his palm flat when she's beneath him, staring with eyes that held the sky.
"Nothing ever leaves you." She whispers, her thumb at his bottom lip, feeling the tiny cracks of it.
Stefan moves away from her stomach, coming to her face, as they seemed to slip into one another, hitching on breathes; her eyes flutter closed for a second or two before they reopen to look at him.
"Nothing ever should." He tells her.