He hated hospitals. Absolutely hated them. Not only was there a constant smell of blood, but all other hospitals smells bothered him. Damon leaned against a large pillar in the waiting room, his arms folded over his chest. Jeremy and Ric were also seated in the uncomfortable chairs along with his little brother; all of them waiting for word on Elena. He hadn't heard from her in two days, but he thought nothing of it until Jeremy had told him to get to the hospital as soon as possible. So here he was; his heart in his throat as he they waited. And he hated waiting, more than he hated hospitals.

"Mr. Salvatore?"

Damon nearly rolled his eyes but didn't move from his spot as he watched Stefan approach the doctor. "How is she?"

"Are you Damon?" the doctor asked, peaking Damon's interest.

"I am," he said, stepping forward along side his brother. "What's wrong?"

"I'm her boyfriend," Stefan said in obvious agitation. "Can I see her?"

"I'm sorry," the doctor said, shaking his head. "She is asking for Damon only and I'm afraid we cannot allow her to be upset. So Damon if you'll follow me." Damon hesitated for half a second before following the doctor down the hall as the doctor briefed him on her condition. Elena asked for him only? He didn't want to think anything of it, but he couldn't ignore the little pull in his heart. He knew some part of him so insist that Stefan be the one to go see her, but the larger part of him wanted her all to himself right now. He needed his own reassurance that she was going to be okay. "She's hurt pretty bad and very scared. She might not like you touching her or loud noise."

He thought he had seen everything there was to see in the world, but when he saw her almost lifeless body in the hospital bed, he nearly burst into tears, but he carefully approached her, hating the beeping of the machines echoing in his head. Her breathing was much shallower then he was used to, various bruises on her arms, a bandage over her temple that was already starting to tinge red. "Elena?"

Her swollen eye cracked open, her brown eyes meeting his instantly. "Damon," she said, smiling a little. Her beautiful olive skin was a dark collage of blue and purple marks outlined in red, a few piece of tape holding some lacerations together. The scent of her blood was thick in the air, almost making him sick, but he kept it all to himself.

"Hi Sweetheart," he said softly. "How are you feeling?" He almost cringed, knowing that was such a dumb question to ask, but he wanted to hear from her how she was doing, not from a doctor. He wanted to hear her voice, hear her tell him what happened, but he knew it was going to be ugly.

"Not bad at the moment," she said. "They gave me a healthy dose of morphine for the pain."

Slowly, he lowered his body next to hers picking up her hand. She didn't flinch or pull away from him like the doctor had warned him which he took as a good sign. "Jeremy and Stefan are outside with Ric. Jenna should be here soon," he said. She asked for him specifically and he wanted to ask her why, but it was hardly the place to be trying to put the moves on her, or making her think he was trying to be in Stefan's place.

"I don't want them to see me like this," she said shaking her head a little as a tear slid down the side of her cheek. But she trusted him enough to show her weakness in front of him. He could be strong enough for her where his brother obviously could not. Stefan would smother her, fawn over her, and try to do countless things for her that she didn't need.

"What happened?" he asked. No matter what she said, it wasn't going to be good, and he was going to be angry. Whoever had done this too her was going to pay.

"I went to a party with Caroline," she said. "Of course she bailed on me when we got there and these guys wouldn't leave me alone. I think they put something in my drink because it's all a big blur. I just remember being so tired and dizzy, but that's all. I woke up here." He was very glad that she hadn't asked for Stefan, he would be all in her personal space, suffocating her, most definitely freaking her out. It was going to be a long time before she would be able to let her boyfriend near her in such a physical way.

"Ms. Gilbert," the doctor said, returning to the room. "I have your test results."

"He can stay," she said when he glanced at Damon. Anything the doctor had to say, she wanted Damon to hear.

"I'm afraid… you are pregnant," he said sadly and Damon felt his heart drop. Babies were always a possibility with humans but he knew Elena would never have that with either him or Stefan. Now she had some guy's baby growing inside of her and he could feel the tension fill the room. "Under these circumstances, there are steps you can take."

Elena stared at him in shock and horror and Damon could feel her pulling away from him, but he didn't let her. He gently curled his fingers around her hand, holding it between his larger ones, offering her some silent support while she processed the news. "A baby," she whispered. "I can't… I can't be a mom. I'm only 17."

The doctor hung her chart at the end of her bed. "I'll give you some time with your family to adjust. And when you're ready we can make a decision," he said, leaving them alone.

Damon kissed her hand, squeezing it slightly. "Elena," he said softly. "I can't… tell you what to do in this situation, but I think you would be a great mom. You have a lot of people around you to help." He would never leave her alone to deal with this with no support. He promised himself some time ago that he would always protect her, always be here for her, no matter what. He never imagined a baby would be involved, especially in this kind of world, but he didn't care.

"They would never have a father," she whispered. "What would I tell them when they were older? How would I keep them safe from all the crap we deal with?"

"You can't base your decision on what if's," Damon said softly. "And they'll have awesome uncles. You know me and Stefan would never let anything happen to either of you." The back of his knuckles gently brushed her bruised cheek. "I would never let anything happen to you Elena. Never."

She managed a smile through her tears and there was a knock on the door. "Hi Jenna," she said in a shaky voice.

Damon kissed her finger tips as he got to his feet. "I'll be outside," he said squeezing her hand softly before leaving her with her aunt. He leaned against the wall outside her room, clenching his eyes shut as she struggled to keep his own emotions in check. He knew Elena would not want him to tell anyone what the doctor had said, so he had to calm down before he went to face his brother. Regardless of all the bad things he and Elena had been through, he felt so much closer to her right now, even if the circumstances were awful.

"How is she?" Stefan asked when he finally returned to the waiting room. "Why won't she see me?"

"You know Elena," Damon said collapsing in a chair. "She just doesn't want you to see her like that. She's just a little banged up; some guys slipped something in her drink at a party. But I don't think… there's nothing seriously wrong with her." He had to tell Stefan something about her condition, and he hoped that would be good enough for now.

"Does she know who they were?" Stefan asked, sitting next to him.

Damon growled low in his throat. "No, but you can be damn sure I'm going to find out," he said.

TVD**TVD**TVD**

Damon glanced up from the novel he was reading as Stefan stormed through the front door. "Panties in a bunch?"

"You knew Elena was pregnant?" He flared.

It had been about two weeks since Elena had come home from the hospital and he knew she was breaking the news to everyone slowly. It had taken every ounce of will power to not be jumping up and down all the time with sheer joy at the news, and to see his brother so angry over it confused him. "I was in the room when the doctor told her," Damon said with a shrug. "She won't be able to hide it forever." He didn't know what Stefan was so angry for. It wasn't like she intentionally cheated on him or something. His brother should be overjoyed at this opportunity to be with Elena while she raised a baby..

"You should have told me," Stefan said.

He nearly snorted. He should have spilled the biggest secret Elena had ever shared with him to his brother? In what reality did that make sense? "What difference does it make?" Damon asked, raising an eyebrow. "And… you should have heard it from her, not from me."

"She shouldn't have to raise another man's baby," Stefan said, running a hand through his hair. "What kind of life is that going to be? No father and a life full of vampires? Elena deserves so much more than that Damon."

Damon stared at him as if he hadn't heard correctly. "You're very stupid Stefan," he said heading toward the door. If his brother had been this retarded to Elena, she was going to be upset. "That baby is Elena's. And nothing else matters." He made the short trip to Elena's, his sensitive ears picking up her quite sobs from her room. Normally he would sneak up to her room, but instead he knocked.

"Hey man," Jeremy greeted when he opened the door. "I don't think she's going to want to see you. She just had a massive fight with Stefan. He's really being a jerk about this."

"He's jealous," Damon said heading to the kitchen. He dug around in the freezer, finding the chunky monkey ice cream. "I keep offering to kill him and she keeps telling me no." He couldn't wait for this baby to be born for him to spoil and he was only going to be the uncle. Stefan had the chance to practically slip into the father position and he royally messed it up.

Jeremy chuckled. "Just take care of her," he said. "I know that you'll stick around."

"That I will," he said grabbing a spoon and heading upstairs. He paused outside Elena's door, his heart aching at her tears, but he knocked gently.

"Go away," she muttered from the other side.

"Now you don't think that's going to work on me is it?" Damon said in a teasing tone, offering her a small smile when she did open the door and he handed her the ice cream.

"Thanks," she said sitting on the edge of her bed as she started shoveling the desert into her mouth. "I'm guessing you saw Stefan."

Damon sprawled on her bed, picking up her teddy instantly. "I did," he said carefully. "I wish I could say something to make you feel better about it, but he's just upset that he couldn't give you a normal life. You know his noble streak of whatever."

Elena stared at him disbelief. "This isn't noble," she grumbled. "How can he say he loves me and want me to get rid of my baby? He didn't even ask me what my decision was. He just assumed I wasn't going to keep it. It's wrong for me to bring a baby into this world, a baby that's not his."

He wanted nothing more than to kill his brother right now, but he had to shift his anger. "Did you decide what you wanted to do?" he asked, sitting up next to her.

Elena stared at the half filled carton of ice cream for a long minute before raising her eyes to his. "This baby is mine," she said softly. "It doesn't matter… how it came to be, it's mine. I know it's going to be hard with school and everything, with me being so young, but those things don't seem to matter. All that matters is that my baby is happy and healthy and if Stefan can't accept that he's not going to be the most important person in my life anymore, then too bad." She took one more bite of ice cream before putting the lid back on and crawling up her bed. "I'm tired. The morning sickness has no sense of time, my chest and stomach are killing me."

Damon smiled a little and turned off her light before settling next to her, on top of the covers. "So you're going to keep your baby," he said in wonder. "I hope it's a girl."

Elena stared at him with an odd expression. "I'm a little surprised at how happy you are," she said softly. "I wasn't sure what you're reaction was going to be when I told you I wanted to keep it. Didn't know you were… a kid's kinda guy."

He shrugged. "I didn't know I was either," he said pushing her hair away from her face. She didn't seem to mind his innocent touches, she seemed to almost welcome them. In the past she had always pulled away from his advances and very upfront about her feelings for him, but things had been different since the hospital, and he didn't want to do anything to mess that up. "And it doesn't matter what I think or what Stefan thinks. You need to do what's best for you and your baby."

"I think you're going to be the favorite uncle," she said her eyes falling closed, her head leaning against his arm.

He pressed a tender kiss to her forehead. "That is the plan," he said. "We'll just take this one day at a time."

A small smile appeared on her face as her hand tangled with his.