Elena sat in her car for a good twenty minutes outside Caroline's house after she said goodbye to her. Silent tears ran down her face as everything started to catch up to her. Her best friend hated her, Damon seemed to hate her, and she couldn't make it stop, she couldn't fix it. Her phone vibrated revealing a text from Damon. 'Where are you?' She nearly rolled her eyes but he had been so cold the last few days, so mean, she was happy to have him ask about her. Finally, she started the car and headed toward the boarding house, her stomach twisting and turning the closer she got. She parked behind Damon's Camaro and wrung her hands as she went to the front door. She knew she didn't have to knock, but she raised her hand to bang gently on the wood. She jumped a little when Stefan answered, but what she really noticed, was how it didn't hurt anymore to look at him. "Hi."
Stefan stepped aside to let her in, scrunching up his nose. "You smell horrible," he said.
"Rebecca thought it would be fun to try to set me on fire," she said, glancing in the parlor for the older Salvatore. She was so nervous she was sure she was going to throw up here on the rug. Her heart dropped a little not finding him downstairs.
"He's in his room," Stefan said. "Probably staring at his phone as the missed calls keep coming in."
Elena headed upstairs, leaving Stefan to stare after her longingly, but she had to do this. She had to move forward in her life, not hold on to a ghost. She owed it to Damon to be honest with him and not make him think he came to second best to anyone. She knocked on his door softly, wrapping her arms around her middle as she waited. If Damon refused to talk to her, she didn't know what she was going to do. But she had to make him listen to her. She had to make him understand, even if she didn't really understand herself. They could work it out together, if he let her.
Surprisingly, he opened the door. "Didn't think you'd be over tonight," he muttered, leaving his door open as he headed to his bed. "You really could have just texted."
Elena let herself in, locking the door behind her as she watched him closely. She was definitely attracted him, anyone with eyes would be, but she knew what was under his suave exterior. Damon had emotions, real emotions, and like her, they often got the better of him. He matched her in everyway, and wasn't afraid to stand up to her, even if he was wrong. He drove her absolutely crazy, but she secretly loved their banters. "I know it doesn't make a difference, but I am sorry," she said taking a step toward him, deciding to jump right in with both feet. "I really didn't mean it Damon, not the way it came out."
"Then how did you mean it Elena?" he flared before scrunching up his face. "And what in the world did you roll in?"
She almost laughed. "That's what you're thinking about? What I smell like?" Elena glanced down at herself. "I um… Elijah had me trapped in some tunnels with Rebecca but when I found my way to the room where no vampires were allowed, she threw gasoline everywhere. But you stopped the spell in time," she said softly. "I haven't been home yet to change or shower."
"Came to check on the big bad vampire?" he growled, rising to his feet. "It's been a long day Elena and I don't want to fight with you tonight. You should just go home and go to bed."
"Then let's not fight," she pleaded, closing the distance between them. "Why does it always have to be like this with us? You don't want anything to do with me but you go around killing people to save my life? How does that work Damon?"
"You tell me Elena," he said tiredly. "You're the one that keeps… changing your feelings. Every time it feels like we've made progress, you take 4 steps back. You can't keep me on a leash and then kick me to the curb whenever you feel like it. I'm not here to be convenient for you and I can't keep changing my feelings just to suite you." He rubbed his face. "Look, I know you love Stefan…"
"No!" she said, cutting him off angrily. "I'm not in love with him anymore."
Damon seemed surprise to hear it out loud. "Oh," he said lamely. "Uh…" Whatever argument he had been ready to feed her disappeared. He really hadn't been expecting her to be so blunt about her feelings for Stefan. "First time I've heard you say that since this all started."
Elena chewed on her lip in embarrassment. It was the first time she really believed it. Damon had stuck by her through thick and thin no matter what, and she could feel how close she was to losing him and that scared her more than anything. She could live without Stefan, she had been. But she couldn't live without Damon. "We're both really bad at this," she mumbled, pushing her hair back in agitation.
"Clearly," he said offering her a small smile, making her heart flutter. "Why don't you take a shower and put on something not soaked in gasoline and we can talk some more? My nose… can't take that."
A smile curved on her lips as well. "I'd like that," she said moving into his bathroom. She peeled her ruined jacket off with a grimace and fixed the taps. She was sore and tired, but she really felt like things were going to be okay between her and Damon. He could help her figure out the rest. She stared at herself in the mirror, wishing she saw something else. Her life was so messed up, and she couldn't grasp it to fix it. She left the door cracked as she finished stripping and climbed under the warm water, sighing happily as the dirt and grime was washed away. Tears stung her eyes at how horrible she had been to Damon, and he was being so amazing, trying to forgive her. She finished her shower and was surprised to find some of her own pajamas on the counter, and her ruined clothes gone. After dressing, she went back to his room, finding him staring out his window. Inwardly she took a deep breath and made her way over to him, her hands reaching out to run over his back.
He was branded on her heart, wormed his way into her life and they had gone through every step of a relationship that led to love. They had hated each other, been friends, fought, forgiven each other, drove each other nuts; but no one had ever made her feel the way he did. Although he hadn't chosen to be a vampire, he made the best of it, and he lived his life to the fullest, even with stupid choices, and she loved that. He wasn't ashamed of who he was or his feelings for her, he didn't want to hide from her. And she no longer wanted to hide from him. It was exhausting, putting on this front for everyone, and not have anyone to really lean on.
Yes she had loved Stefan, but she felt like everything between them had been a lie. He kept countless secrets from her, secrets about her own life, secrets about who he was, things she needed to know. She needed the good, the bad, and he ugly, and Stefan hadn't been willing to trust her enough with that, but Damon had.
It was such an intimate gesture, her hands gently mapping the rippling muscles under his black t- shirt, her eyes glancing up at him every now and then, seeing his eyes closed, seemingly enjoying her touches. Taking an even bolder step she pressed her lips in the middle of his back between his tense shoulder blades, and he seemed startled. He turned around slowly, his eyes locked on hers as he tried to peer through her. "Feel better?"
"Mmm-hm," she said, her hands instead running over his chest. "We've… been faced with a lot of obstacles Damon, and… I've forgiven you for a lot of things. Why can't you forgive me this time?" He had done some pretty horrific things over the years, things that were unforgiveable in almost anyone's mind, but she had. She always gave him another chance, he always earned it. Now she had to do the same.
"That's cheating," he said softly. She could feel the heat coming off him, even through their clothes, the passion was seeping its way through her pores. The one without the body temperature in the room set her on fire, just standing in front of her letting her touch him. "The only way for us to get passed this is for you to be honest with me. We can't forgive each other for what's happened the past week… only for you to turn around and do it again next week."
"I wouldn't do that," she said, shaking her head.
"How do I know that?" Damon asked in a pained voice. "You think I like fighting with you, Elena? Do you know how hard it is for me to stay away from you? I hate it." He rubbed his face tiredly, before grabbing her hands. "Listen to me for a minute, we… have gotten so close since Stefan's… been gone and I wouldn't trade that time for anything in the world. But you have be honest with me right now Elena about him. If you still want him back, just tell me, and… we'll go back to being friends while I try to knock some sense into him. But I'm still always going to protect you and I'm always going to love you."
He was trying to make this easier for her, telling her regardless of everything, the kiss, the touches, the looks, if she wanted to be with Stefan, he would step aside, like he had always done, and for once, she did not want that. She did not want Damon to sacrifice his feelings for her. She wanted to return those feelings. "I don't want to be with Stefan," she said softly, squeezing his hands. "I just…."
"Me and you, Elena, do not have to rush anything," he said, kissing her knuckles.
"I care about you Damon, I do," she said blinking her eyes rapidly against the tears. She didn't know how one guy could be so caring and devoted to her. So willing to bend over backwards to make her happy, at the cost of his happiness. All he wanted was to be with her, to protect her and love her and she had used that against him many times in the past to get what she wanted. "And I'm so sorry that I hurt you."
He pressed his lips to her forehead and she snuggled into his arms. "I'm sorry I slept with Rebeckah," he murmured. "I do stupid things when I'm angry."
Elena inhaled his scent, squeezing him tighter, hands running over his back. "Looks like we're perfect for each other then," she said with a giggle.
"I've been saying that for two years," he teased, resting his forehead against hers. "Am I allowed to kiss you now?"
Elena lifted her lips to his, moving her arms to lock around his neck. A laugh bubbled out of her lips as Damon moved her to his bed as she cradled him to her. Both of them had dumb smiles on their faces as his thumb stroked her cheek. "Don't think I've ever seen you so happy." His eyes were sparkling, and she could feel the energy coming off of him, crackling between them. She knew they were going to be explosive; the tension between them had been miles thick the past two years and she was positive they would burn the house down with their passion for each other.
"Because I never have been," he said softly rolling next to her. "Even when I was human, there wasn't much to be happy over." His hands tangled through her silky tresses, allowing her locks to slide over his fingers.
She rubbed her cheek against his chest before kissing the underside of his jaw. "It's been a long time since I was this happy too," she admitted, tucking her head against his shoulder. "Sorry it took me so long."
His chest vibrated with a soft chuckle as he pulled the blanket over them. "Better late than never," he said, snuggling against her. He didn't usually cuddle nor do anything… romantic with the women in his bed, it was usually always physical but he was sure Elena was going to show him a whole new side to the bedroom, and he would love returning the favor.