Wtf. What is this even? Somehow this became elena + elena/stefan, elena/damon, elena/MATT, elena/caroline/bonnie, caroline/bonnie. HOW IS THIS EVEN

Title from The A Team - Birdy (Ed Sheeran cover) Except, this isn't about what the song's is about. /smh

wasting, crumbling like pastries.

This is the story of Elena.


After Abby's turned and Bonnie won't speak to her and Caroline's choosing without meaning to and Damon and Stefan keeping hammering in her head – Elena flees.

Tears on her cheeks, rugged breaths caught in her throat, Elena coughs with weak knees, and falls to the pavement.

Matt's there in a flash – but not really because he's human, the only innocent one left – helping her up with a concerned hand on her back. "Elena, you okay?"

She looks up through teary vision, bile lodged in her throat – "Matty?" Her fingers claw into the asphalt, hair stuck to her neck with sweat, she searches for his hand.

"Hey, I'm right here. Let's get you out of the road." She tries, then, to take in her surroundings. But all she can feel is the hammering in her head and chest and her hands ache with scrapes and bruises. She simply nods her head, becomes dizzy with its rattling.

Matt takes her to the curb, sets her down gently on the concrete, rubs soft circles on the middle of her back. She can hear the frantic concern in his voice as he tells her it's going to be all right and shh.

She doesn't believe it though, so Matt shouldn't either. She shakes her head slowly and it causes something in her to swell and she's going to be sick – the omnipresent lump in her throat growing bigger and wider and stronger. It makes her choke.

She leans to the side, braces one hand on the concrete, the other where the curb meets the grass – it tickles her palm – and a coughing fit begins. Matt's still there with his shaky, but reassuring, hand on her back telling her it's going to be all right. She shrugs off the contact, tries to see through her tears, but there's nothing.

Elena vomits in the grass. There's a mixture of sweat and tears and coughs and a few strangled breaths. She can feel Matt flinch when a scream tears through her.

Then he's frantic again – never really stopped – "Oh God, Elena. I'm gonna – I'm." He stands then, words tumbling passed his lips in the ugliest manner, mixed with confusion and worry. He brings his hand to his forehead; it runs over the concern arched in his brow, down over his face, settles on his chest.

"I'll, I'll call someone. I'll call Caroline. Yeah, she'll know what to do." Matt's never been good at tears and Elena. He's never really been good with everything that Elena is, anyway.

He pulls his phone from his pocket. He's typing in Caroline's number when – "Matt, no." Her voice is groggy and low. "Caroline doesn't want me. Not like this. Not right now."

He drops his phone to his side, thumb slides over and presses the end button. Matt tries to imagine a day when Caroline doesn't want her best friend. He can't think of one. "She's your best friend, Elena. She cares – "

"No." She's stern this time, but still hunched over, knees weak, hands bleeding.

"Damon, then. Ric. Someone." Matt's blue eyes catch in the light of the streetlamp and there's nothing but tears welling in them. "'Cause, I can't do it. I've never been able to do it, Elena."

She's silent for a moment, tries to speak over the lump in her throat, the tears in her eyes. "No, Matt. Just take me home, please." It's quieter, with less fight – her voice.

"Yeah?" His voice drops as he kneels down in front of her, "Yeah. Let's get you out of here." He tries to give her one of his smiles, but it just comes out watery and sad. "Yeah," he says again.

He picks her up then, feels the weight of nothing in his arms as he carries her back to his truck and settles her in the passenger seat. "Let's get you home," he whispers as he pushes her hair off her face.

Matt drives her to the Salvatore boardinghouse. He does this because he knows Elena – knows her from the sandbox to her eighteenth birthday – knows that even when she's strong, Elena should never have to be alone. And there's been a lot of that lately.

She falls asleep on the way over, curled up in the seat with her head resting against the window. Matt tries not to notice when she absently draws circles on her wrists.

He doesn't knock when he gets there. He walks up the driveway, stares at the intimidating door, then pushes it open and stands in the foyer.

Both Damon and Stefan are in front of him before he's even had time to call for them. "What're you doing here, Quarterback?" Damon asks with his usual amount of bite and creepy eyes.

"It's Elena," is all he says and suddenly both of their resolves are broken. (Stefan tries to cover his up more and quicker because he isn't supposed to care, but Matt knows.)

"Where is she?" Stefan asks, tries not to let any eagerness slip in between his words.

"She's uh – She's in my truck." There's a tremor in his voice.

"What happened?" Damon questions him sternly, his eyes cutting between Matt and the door.

"I don't know. I found her – She's freaking me out. She's so – so sad." He looks up at Stefan then; eyes going back and forth between the two brothers. Stefan walks passed him, towards the door, and by the time he's turned around to see, he's gone.

He watches Damon's face contort after he tells him. Then, like one second it's there, the next it's gone. And he's stoic again – but Matt sees, sees the pain – telling Matt, "I think it's time you go on home now."

Matt's own face contorts into one of confusion, "No, I'll – I'll stay."

Damon walks towards him then, stands right in front of him, "No, you'll go."

"She's my friend, man. She needs me." And pretty boy anger surges inside of Matt, "Let me stay."

"We've got it. Now, leave." There's something constricting in his command, venom splitting up the words.

Matt sighs, frightened. "Okay, okay."

Stefan walks in holding Elena, fingers splayed out over her ribs, hand gripped tightly behind her knees. Matt looks at his face; Matt sees. He sees the anxiety and the worry and the helplessness.

"I'm gonna go." He retreats to the door. "Um, tell Elena, I, I'm. Just – make sure she's gonna be okay." Then he turns and walks back to his truck.

Matt is silent on the drive back to his house, just like every other night. But this time tears prick at the corners of his eyes.


Elena wakes up on the couch in the living room. As soon as she's alert, she's aware of the two figures sitting fairly close to her. She doesn't open her eyes right away though, tricks herself into believing that if she doesn't open them, she won't have to face whatever they throw at her. She doesn't want to face them at all.

But only a short few minutes pass before the throbbing in her hands and fingers and the taste in her mouth will her to open her eyes. When she finally opens them, they're both sitting on the coffee table right in front of her. She wasn't aware that they were in this close of proximity to her.

She sits up slowly, winces when she tries to ball her hands into fists. It's Damon who speaks first. Her head rattles at the softest of his voice, the achingly enormous amount of concern in it.

"Hey, are you okay?" And he's kneeling down in front of her, a reassuring hand running up and down her arm.

She simply nods; cannot afford to say anything, doesn't know if the words will be too mean, too accusatory, too much for either of them right now.

She shrugs off his touch though, closes her eyes for a few seconds before she gathers herself together, and stands.

She walks to the bathroom, hears their quiet footsteps as they both follow her. She rinses her hands in the sink, blood trailing down the porcelain, and winces when the water's too hot on her cuts.

"Here, let me." Damon tries, again, to get some footing with her. He walks swiftly to her side, takes her hands in his and dries them with a hand towel. He grabs ointment for her cuts, and she lets him fix her up.

She's all too aware of how familiar this scene is. She's also all too aware of Stefan standing behind them, leaning against the door frame. She tries not to meet either of their eyes in the mirror.

Damon says, "All finished," in a sweet voice and when she looks up from her hands, she sees a small smile on Stefan's face in the mirror.

She feels the lump settle back in her throat, knots establish themselves as burning victims in the pit of her stomach.

She breathes out a shallow breath, rinses her mouth out, and walks away before Damon can carry her hand in his and accompany her; before Stefan can walk away.

She tries to think of reasons why Matt would bring her here. Can't think of any good ones. (There's a whole lot. She just doesn't want to think about them.)

She crawls back onto her space on the couch, brings the throw blanket up to her chin, settles her eyelids over her eyes and tries to sleep away the steady hammering in her head, the hammering in her chest.


The sun shining through the window wakes her up. It burns her eyes, causes her to squint, and shield it with her hand.

"Sorry," Stefan mutters as he walks over and closes the curtains tight.

"Thanks," she says quietly as she drops her hand to the couch. She looks around and is met with silence everywhere. "Where's Damon?" She asks curiously, misses the strain in Stefan's features.

'He, uh, had some business to attend to." She notices the scotch in his glass as he sloshes it around.

She nods her head and sighs. "Well. I guess I should get home. Jerem – " Jeremy's probably worried about me. But she remembers, there's no one at home to worry about her. There's no one anymore. She shakes her head free of the thought, "I should get home."

She stands and as she's walking away, Stefan's voice envelopes the room. "What happened last night, Elena?"

She turns around, stares at him, voice low. "I thought I could run away." Her voice is already watery, giving way to whatever this is inside of her. This lack of anything; this empty hole.

"I thought I could get away from Caroline, Bonnie, Damon, everybody." She pauses, "You."

"Me." He states, finger hitting rhythmically against his tumbler.

"You," she confirms. Then chuckles humorlessly. "But look where that got me." Here.

"Here." He says.

She has to get away from the lump in her throat, the knotting in her stomach. She nods, "Stupid idea."

"No," he counters, "wishful."

Tears spring up in her eyes, "Yeah, wishful, Stefan."

She walks backwards away from him; her eyes trace over his features. She turns around and walks out the door.

The lump burns in the back of her throat – omnipresent.


She goes back to Bonnie's house, tries to make all of her wrongs right.

Caroline's still at the door this time, pleading with her, and I love you Elena, but it's not the time. The words push and pull inside of her head, holding onto something bigger than her, bigger than them.

"Please." She begs, her bottom lip quivering.

Caroline, with loyalty running deep in her bones, blinks back tears, "I'm sorry, Elena." And she closes the door in her face.

It hurts a lot more than Caroline intended for, but Elena's sure she would have broken all the same.

When the door closes and she hears the latch lock, Elena's eyes fall close, tears falling onto her cheek, cascading down. She flexes her hands into fists, grits her teeth, finds herself desperate to shove something – anything – into the gaping holes in her chest.

She gathers herself – breathes in and out slowly, opens her eyes, wipes away tears, wraps her jacket tighter around herself. With one last deep and strangled breath she retreats back to her car, and pulls off with a low hum of the engine.

("Is she gone?" Bonnie asks, sadness and anger mixed together in her speech.

"Yeah," Caroline rubs her hand up and down Bonnie's arm reassuringly, "she's gone." Her tears glimmer under artificial light.

"Good." Bonnie says quietly before walking back into the room where Abby is.)

Elena drives back to her house, a steady thumping in her head reminding her to take a few Tylenol and wash them down with a tall glass of water.

At home, she finds the house empty. She can't quite remember where Alaric's staying, doesn't remember him telling her anything. It's eerie, like always, too dark without the lights on, too bright with them on.

She takes four Tylenol and gets into bed, pulls the covers over her head, doesn't even try to wipe away all the tears.

Elena's always been a strong girl. She's always had to be strong, never fleeting with her emotions. She's always been steady on the same path: rebuild after parents die, take care of Jeremy, hold onto Caroline, lean on Bonnie, love Stefan, protect, fight, endure.

She didn't think she'd be doing so poorly this early on.

But she will endure. She has to.


Damon's sitting by her windowsill when she wakes up. She jumps when she sees him, her hand flies to her chest. "God, don't do that."

"Sorry." He says. His eyes are dark and hollow. "I just came to check on you." He stands and walks closer to her, sits on the edge of the bed. "Make sure you were okay."

"I'm fine." She says, hopes it reassures him.

But this is Damon, he knows her, whether she likes to admit it or not. "Really?" He asks, voice low. "Why have you been crying?"

She tries to ignore the parental tone of his voice, "I'm fine, Damon." She grits her teeth, already annoyed. "It's too early for this."

"For what?" He asks as she pushes back the covers, stands, and walks to her vanity.

She turns around to him with a sigh, "Too early for you and me to start bickering." She pauses, "Just – don't worry about me. I'm fine, okay?"

He puts both hands up in defense, "Alright. Okay."

She smiles a little when he does.


She runs her fingers over the cuts and bruises on her hands as she walks through the door of Mystic Grill.

Matt's there and smiling, taking an order. She's shy when she walks passed him and says a soft "Hey," before sliding into a booth by herself.

He comes to take her order next. "Hey, Elena." He's hesitant, cautious. "How are you?"

"I'm fine." She smiles slightly, "Really. Sorry about the other night. I don't know wha –

"It's all right. I'm just glad you're okay." He gives her one of is quarterback, award winning smiles. "Now, what can I get you?"

I'm okay. "I'll take a root beer float. With extra float." She smiles at him.

"Just like old times." She simply nods. Then he walks away.

She tries not to feel the overwhelming presence of nothing when he leaves and she's by herself all over again.


"You didn't tell Damon what I told you." She pauses, "you didn't, did you?" Her arms are folded over her chest. "Why didn't you tell?"

"Elena." He's drinking scotch again, the tumbler resting on the arm of the chair.

"I mean, you could've Stefan. But you didn't." There's confusion in her brow.

"It wasn't my business to tell." He puts the tumbler to his lips.

"It wasn't your business to know either." She says quietly, asks herself why she told him in the first place.

"Maybe not. But you told me, didn't you?" He looks at her intensely. "Why did you tell me, Elena?" The glass knocks against his teeth harshly. "That's the question."

Tears well up in her eyes, stinging heavily. The lump in her throat threatens to choke her. "I guess I thought you'd understand better than anyone." She says quietly, hand pressed against her throat.

He nods his head slowly. "You're right," he says warily. "I do understand." You should've ran. A long time ago.

"I know." She says so softly she doesn't think he heard.

She should've ran.


This is the story of the ones she loved. And the ones she didn't love enough.