not so sure about this.

title from think i'll go inside - joshua radin.


i am a sea without a shore.

This is what Elena remembers:

Caroline and Damon are the ones that bring him in. Tyler, Bonnie, and Matt follow behind with different expressions on their faces and she does not have time to decipher any of them.

Caroline's voice is rushed as she speaks to Damon and Elena can hear the uncertainty in his voice when he speaks. Bonnie walks to her side, grabs a hold of her hand, says something about Alaric and Jeremy. Then there's Damon yelling for help and they're all running off.

"Stay here," Tyler says to her as he runs by her in a rush. Then they're all out of sight, walking down hallways and stairs and she can hear the heavy metal latching on the door.

She looks around and everything's in a disarray. She looks to the door, standing wide open, then to the floor. She sees the blood on the floor from where they drug him in.

Her hand flies to her mouth in panic and she has to see him. She hurries down hallways and stairs until she's in the basement, faced with everyone.

"Where is he?" She asks in a rush, concern wrapping around her every word.

Caroline is the first to say anything. She walks closer to her friend, holds Elena's shaking hands, and says, "It's pretty bad, Elena."

But that doesn't answer her question. Damon only stares at her. "Is he okay? He's okay, right?" Caroline gulps back a response, then the words are on the tip of her tongue.

Elena looks around the room, stops on Damon, she pleads, "Damon – he's alright, isn't he?" Then her voice. It gives out on her. The words come tumbling out with tears and she squeezes her eyes shut tight. She can feel Caroline's grip on her fingers and then her trying to console her.

Bonnie walks to her other side. "Elena -" she starts, but stops when Damon finally speaks. "Elena, you need to leave. Now." And his voice is so paternal, so harsh, no games.

Her eyes fly open and her brow raises in confusion. "What – What are you even saying? No, no!"

She frantically turns to Bonnie then. "Bonnie. Bonnie, where is he?"

Bonnie opens her mouth, closes it, and with a sigh, says, "He's in there."

Elena thinks she probably already knew that.

She steps around Damon when she gets to him, feels him hesitate to let her get any closer to where Stefan is. "I have to." She whispers so just he can hear. "Please, Damon."

He moves a little to let her by.

She has to brace herself before she looks up through the bars. She wipes away the tears on her cheeks, scrubs at her eyes, before she takes a deep breath and looks up.

She doesn't see Stefan.

She sees a bloody pile on the floor. She lookers harder though, looks closer, and sees his face pressed against the dirty floor, his ring gleaming under artificial light. His flesh is ripped open in places and there's claw marks and burns on his chest.

"Stefan," she cries. Voice cracking, tears filling the gaping holes, a heaviness in her chest.

She turns around quickly to everyone. They're standing there, heads hanging low. "Is he going to be okay?" There's a tremble in her voice that paves way for the acknowledgment that she may lose him forever. She can't lose him forever. More tears fall from the corners of her eyes.

Damon's the one who shakes his head. He never takes his eyes off of the floor. "Damon." She says, and she manages some fire behind it. "What happened to him?"

No one says anything. Elena knows that they are tiptoeing around her feelings, trying to keep her in the dark. But she's seen it, she's seen Stefan in a bloody pile on the floor. She can handle the truth.

It's Matt who gathers the courage to look at her. And he's still the tenderhearted football star she loves, "The wolves got a hold of him." His voice trembles, there's tears in his eyes.

She fumbles around with the idea, allows different scenarios to roll around in her mind along side the always prominent feature that she could lose Stefan. Then, "Tyler?" She turns to him with wide eyes, tears pricking at the corners.

Shell-shocked, Tyler looks at her, so terrified that she thinks he did it. "No, no!" He assures her, "Elena I didn't."

Caroline gently touches Elena's arm, "No, sweetie." And in her gentle voice, "This was Klaus."

Elena gulps back air, steadies herself, hates Klaus so fucking much. She wants his heart ripped out, steady beating in her palm. How could he do this to her Stefan. "We have to help him, you guys. We have to."

Tender, judge-y Bonnie, with concern, looks at her, "There's nothing we can do, Elena."

And Elena knows that Bonnie's never liked vampires, not since Grams died. That is where this is coming from. Because, "Of course there is. We have to help him."

"Damon," she turns to him abruptly, walks to him, grabs his hand, "we have to help him. He's your brother." You love him, she doesn't have to say.

Damon sighs, "How could we not help him?"

–;

Elena stays at the boarding house every night. She goes to school, goes home, grabs a change of clothes, and heads over to the boarding house.

She's always met with the same faces – Damon and Caroline with hushed voices and strategic plans.

"What have we come up with today?" She asks, just like every other day this past week.

They reply with the same effect as the other days, "still working on it."

She sets her bag down at the foot of the stairs and walks away. They don't have to ask where she's going.

She stalks down the stairs to the basement, careful not to make too much noise, wary of what she may find in the cell.

She hasn't opened the door yet, merely stands with her hands wrapped around the bars, face pressed as close as possible. She's been pushing blood bags through the bars, waits for him to get them, but he never does.

He's getting weaker, she knows. But most of the claw marks and the burns have healed. It's just, there's the gaping hole of rotting flesh on his shoulder that gradually gets worse. And she remembers, so clearly, when this happened to Damon. She remembers the hallucinations and the agony.

She wonders if Stefan's started doing that yet.

Today she decides to go in. Damon's the only one who's been in since that night and she knows he doesn't want her to know, but she's heard him tell Caroline how he had to pour the blood down Stefan's throat and "He's taking it worse than I did." This makes Elena unstable, she tightens her grip on the bars when she thinks about Damon saying that.

Stefan will get better. Elena will help him. She gathers up the courage and unlatches the lock on the door. She pushes it open and walks in, blood bad tight in her grasp.

Stefan manages to look up at her, his eyes lost somewhere in his existence and the pain. He lets out a wretched sound when he tries to alter his position. He manages though – sits up against the wall. His eyes barely stay open as she walks closer to him.

She knows he won't hurt her. She knows he can't, but she also knows that he wouldn't.

She sits down beside him, pulls her knees to her chest, breathes in and out slowly. After a minute she holds the blood bag in front of him. "Here, Stefan." And those are the first words she's really said to him since all of this began. She can feel the tremble in her own voice, wonders if he's alert enough to hear it.

"Elena," he says. And he sounds so strange – this helpless, broken boy that she's loved for so long now. He doesn't sound like himself at all.

"Shh," she tells him. "Drink." But he never does.

"Elena, I -" but she puts her finger over his lips. She doesn't want to hear what he has to say, doesn't know what the words are going to be.

"I'm going to fix this, Stefan." She assures him, sad smile on her face, tears in her eyes. "You'll be better. I promise." She smiles through her tears, tries not to choke on them.

His eyes close lazily and she thinks he's finally dozing off. She leans toward him and kisses his cheek gingerly, sits right beside him the entire time.

Her thoughts go back to Klaus. She cries harder when she thinks about just how much she hates him, the bastard. She thinks of Stefan – so beautiful and kind – ripped away and stolen from her. She fucking hates Klaus.

–;

"I have a plan." She tells Damon the next day after she comes back from school. She's spent all day thinking about it – all day cursing herself for being so blinded that she couldn't even see the clear and only option.

"Yeah, and what's that?" He folds his arms over his chest, looks unimpressed. She doesn't understand why he's so cynical all the time.

"I'm going to ask Klaus for his blood." She says plainly. "Simple as that."

He scoffs. "Do you really think, for a second, that Klaus is just going to offer up his blood to you? This is why we leave you out of making the plans, Elena."

"Oh, and you don't think he's got every hybrid ready to kill you without a second thought? That was your plan, right? Just kill a hybrid, get his blood, feed it to Stefan? We all know they're sired to Klaus. They're stronger than you, Damon. They'll kill you." She argues.

"There's no other option. This is what we have to do." He doesn't back down from her, never has.

"Really? Then why haven't you done it already?" And she stalks off towards the basement.

–;

This is what Stefan remembers:

He feels the first werewolf tear through his shirt, sink its teeth into his skin and rip out a chunk of it. He feels the pain expand throughout his body. It happens so quickly, so painfully, he falls to the ground. The next one is on top of him before he even realizes it. Despite the aching in his shoulder and the fire hot electricity spreading through his body, he tries to push the wolf away from him.

When it's hovering over him, shining, sharp teeth so close to his face he can almost feel them, he looks into its eyes. Golden yellow and brown, slitted – Stefan is frightened.

He feels the claws dig into his skin – everywhere, burning hot like fire, his skin scalds.

Then he hears a yelp and the wolf's not on top of him anymore. He faintly hears both of them running through the woods, breaking branches.

He touches his chest, feels something wet, pulls his hand away and it's covered in his blood. Damon's there lifting him up off the ground.

He doesn't remember anything but Caroline's voice as she shushes his whimpering every time he comes to again.

–;

She tries to tend to Stefan's wounds. But she just ends up cradling his head in her lap, talking him through everything, peppering kisses to his hair.

She can feel all of it coming to an end. A dangerously sickening end that she is not ready for.

It's time to do something about it.

–;

She skips school the next day so Damon thinks she's at school and not wandering around looking for Klaus. She doesn't worry about any of the others, they won't stop her like he will.

She goes to his prodigious mansion and when she stands beside her car it towers over her, intimidates her a little.

She stalks up the walkway and she should've known that he would answer before she knocked.

"Well isn't it my favorite doppelganger?" He flirts, wearing his pretentious smirk.

"We need to talk." She's stoic Elena again and she needs to do this.

"Oh, what about, my love?" He asks as he gestures for her to come inside. She cautiously walks over the threshold.

"Stefan." She says with a sigh, grip on the strap of her bag tightening.

He turns around then, "Ah, Stefan. How is he?" He smiles.

"You know exactly how he is. I know you did this to him. I know." Her teeth are gritted. She continues to tighten her grip on her bag, tries her hardest not to slap him.

"Now, why would I want to do anything to good ole Stefan? The thought is ludicrous." He lazily brushes off the thought with a swat of his hand, brings a drink to his lips, indulges.

"Then help him." She blurts out, voice heavy and quick. "Help him, please."

Klaus walks closer to her then, hand raised to cup her cheek. "Now," he asks, so close she feels his breath on her face, "why would I do that?" He looks in her eyes, searching. She's not sure what he'll find there.

"How are you going to make more hybrids if I'm dead, huh?" The words are like ice, pushing passed her gritted teeth, hitting him right where it should hurt.

He releases her then, "I've heard that before, darling."

"Yeah, well. This is Stefan. It's not like before." She pauses. "It's Stefan. Help him, or I'm dead."

Klaus takes in a deep breath, and with a roll of his eyes, "Fine. I'll save Stefan." He says nonchalantly. "But," he begins again. "I'm going to need something in return."

Elena tries not to have any relief just yet. She won't be relieved until Stefan's well, holding her tight and kissing her sweet. This is Klaus, after all. He can take just as easily as he can give.

"I'm going to need your word. No schemes from you or your vampire relations to kill me, no petty drama. All that jazz." He says, a smirk on his lips as he feigns interest.

She ponders this for a moment. And then she thinks she shouldn't have to. She'd choose having Stefan over not having him any day. All she has to do is agree and she's guaranteed him forever. She doesn't think it's that big of a decision.

"Deal."

He's in her face again, tempting her with his devilish grin, "Say it, love."

"You have my word, Klaus."

"You sound just like my brother." He chuckles. "Oh, lighten up, Elena. It's going to be all fairytales and rainbows after this."

–;

Klaus fills up a whole glass full of his blood. And asks Elena if she wants a sip with a chuckle before closing a lid over it.

–;

She walks into the boarding house with the glass tucked in her jacket pocket, careful not to lose it. Damon and Caroline are sitting at the table, still hushed voices. Caroline looks up when she walks in. "Hey, Elena."

"Caroline," she smiles. And it feels good. She knows they're curious because lately she hasn't smiled at all.

"What's up with you?" Damon asks, confusion arched in his brow.

Elena pulls the glass container out of her pocket, holds it up for them to see. "I talked to Klaus."

Damon's angry and spitting off foul words and something could've happened and god, you're so stupid sometimes! Elena simply disregards him because this is about saving Stefan.

–;

She walks down the stairs to the basement, careful not to make too much noise, careful not cause a disturbance.

When she opens the cell, Stefan's leaning against the wall, head lulling around, sweat stuck on his brow. He's gulping back breathes every so often, eyes closed lazily.

She says his name softly, walks to him and kneels down in front of him. "Stefan," she says again, placing a gentle hand on his cheek.

His eyes open slowly, "Elena?" He reaches up to touch her but his hand stalls in the air and falls back to his side.

"Shh." She tells him, cards her fingers through the hair at his temple. "Drink this." She says, pushing the glass to his lips. He slowly drinks it, eyes on her the entire time. "Good, good." She tells him, smiling.

She sits down beside him after a few minutes, grabs a hold of his hand on the way. She runs her finger over his knuckles, slides her fingers between his, squeezes his hand tight every so often.

Stefan opens his eyes suddenly, more alert, traces circles on Elena's hand for a change. She looks at him expectantly. He turns to her, a small smile on his face.

He's still exhausted but he's better. She lets out a sigh of relief when she sees him smiling. She checks his bite, watches all of the rotting flesh heal – his silky smooth skin appears, good as new.

She kisses him hard and long. "I thought I'd lost you." But I didn't.