Elena wrung her hands nervously as she let herself into the boarding house, and she glanced around for either of the brothers. The parlor was empty so she slowly made her way upstairs. Her heart was racing, which they both could hear if they were upstairs, and the last thing she wanted was a confrontation with either of them, but she had something she had to do. She paused outside Damon's door, knowing that this could blow up in her face. She raised her hand to knock twice before folding her arms over her chest.
"It's open," he called from inside. He had to know that it was her, just inviting her into his room without a thought.
With a deep breath, Elena went into his room, pausing seeing him with his shirt open, the angry wounds on chest not completely healed. "You're… still hurt," she said in shock as she closed the distance between them, forgetting that they were supposed to be fighting. When Stefan had refused to rescue him before they killed one of the originals, it made her confront the feelings that were causing such turmoil within her. The last thing she wanted to do was just leave Damon to suffer, but if they had lost another opportunity to kill the originals, she knew what his reaction would have been. Not that it mattered now. Her first reaction to seeing Damon when he first came home after the torture was to just wrap him in her arms and take care of him, like he had done so many times for her, but she refrained. She had made him something to eat and cleaned up his wrists and chest. He had passed out shortly after that and she watched over him all night, but they didn't make a thing out of it.
"Healing's a bit slow," he said with a shrug, but allowed her gentle fingers to trace the scars on his chest. "So what brings you by? Stefan isn't here."
She swallowed past the lump in her throat. God she missed touching him, being near him. Her heart was already accelerating, as it often did when he was this close to her. She could lie to him and say she didn't care about him, or that they were just friends, but her body could not. Her body knew what she felt, and Damon knew how her body reacted to him. "I'm… here to see you," she said softly, dropping her hand. "I need a favor."
"Figures," he muttered, backing away from her. "Think I'm fresh out of favors."
Elena reached out to gently grasp his wrist. "Damon," she said. "I'm trying to make this better. I really am." She just wanted them to be able to spend time together, like they always used to. He was the only one she could talk to, the only one she wanted to talk to. He didn't judge her or lecture her, and with Jeremy being gone, and Bonnie not talking to her, and Caroline helping Bonnie, she felt like she had no one. She seemed to be so good at ruining everyone's life; she didn't blame them for pushing her away. But she couldn't stand having Damon do the same.
He stared at her for a long minute. "What do you want Elena?" he asked tiredly.
"Want to come to Denver with me?" she asked shyly. Maybe if they had some time away from Mystic Falls, just the two of them, they could sort some stuff out. No one would interrupt them, no one would distract her and they could get their feelings out in the open. "I want to check on Jeremy and… see if he can talk to Rose."
He raised an eyebrow. "And why are you asking me?" he asked.
"Who else would I ask?" she asked tenderly. Damon hardly ever let her out of his sight for longer than an hour, much less out of the state. If she just went on her own, he'd have a conniption. And she was being truthful, it never occurred to her to ask anyone else. Road trips were their thing and she wasn't about to share that with anyone else. "We do everything together… well we used to."
"Yeah before you decided to put a knife in my back and go running back to Stefan," he said bitterly.
"That is not what happened and you know it," she said angrily as she released his arm. He made it next to impossible to talk about things and she knew he was just trying to push her away, but she wasn't going to let him do that anymore. "You go behind my back all the time Damon and do a hell of a lot of things that I don't like."
"To protect you," he said in an obvious tone.
"Well I did the same thing for you," she said forcing the tears out of her eyes. "I don't know why you can't see that. And I did not go running back to Stefan, not in the slightest. I'm standing here asking you to go half way across the country with me and if you don't come with me, I'm going to go alone." She knew the argument would be over at that point; he wouldn't be able to let her go alone.
After a minute, Damon sighed. "When are we leaving?"
"Remind me why we didn't fly?" Damon asked as they arrived at the 2nd hotel of their trip, dropping both their bags on the floor. The first one, they had been so tired, they had stopped for a few hours of much needed sleep, both of them falling asleep instantly in their separate beds. It didn't go unnoticed to her that he was trying to keep her comfort in mind, not that she'd mind sleeping next to him, but he didn't know that.
"I hate airplanes," Elena said, shedding her jacket and stretching her arms. "Besides, you love road trips, so quit complaining." She collapsed on one of the beds, rubbing her face against the pillow. Her head hurt a little bit from the long car ride. She didn't mind road trips either, but his car wasn't exactly comfortable enough for sleeping. So far, things had been relatively nice, not much tension other then maybe the first hour or so, but then after that they slipped back into their comfortable routine. She was trying her hardest to keep things light and not bring up anything that would upset him. When they had stopped at the first diner, he even held the door open for her and rested his hand in the small of her back, like he often did many times before, and it was definitely a step in the right direction that they were back to innocent touches.
"I'm going to shower," he said shaking his head and disappearing into the bathroom.
"Save me some hot water," she called, toeing off her shoes.
"We could save hot water you know," he teased.
Elena snorted. "No we wouldn't," she mumbled. "We'd keep each other in there forever." A dumb smile crossed her face as she yawned. Their usual banter had been back, both of them becoming comfortable with the other again. But her conversation with Stefan was weighing heavily on her mind. She couldn't lie and say she felt nothing for Damon, or that they were just friends. She didn't know what they were; she honestly didn't know what she felt. And she didn't know how to figure out. The shower turned on, and she noticed the bathroom door opened a crack. He wanted very little obstacles in his way should he have to get to her, and he would always save her, she knew that. No matter how many times she told him that she didn't want other people to lose their lives or get hurt because of her, he was always going to chose her. She was his whole world and that scared the crap out of her.
With a sigh she got out of bed to change into her pajamas, smiling a little at the red boy shorts she was wearing, deciding her shower could wait until morning. She stared out the window at the sky, wishing she could figure out her life. She never would have imagined she'd lose all of her family. Her parents dead, birth parents and adopted parents; Jenna was dead, and Jeremy was half way across the country away from her.
"You okay?" Damon asked, startling her a little.
Slowly she turned to face him, her heart in her throat. He was dressed in pajama pants and his shirt was unbuttoned, and she was grateful, she wouldn't be able to talk to him if he was in a towel. "Stefan thinks I have feelings for you," she mumbled. It was killing her not being able to talk to him. She had gotten so comfortable with him after Stefan had left, and she missed him terribly. They were going to have to talk about this, before they went back out on the road.
Like a curtain, she could see all his defenses come down. "Do you?" A glimmer of hope sparked in his eye, and she did not want to destroy that. She wanted to be honest with him, and maybe he could help her figure out her feelings.
She stared at him with a helpless expression. "I don't…" She ran her hands over her face in frustration. "You know that I do. I just… don't know what they are or what they mean."
Damon raised an eyebrow. "Is that what you told Stefan?" he asked in a calm voice. None of sarcastic, cocky self was showing right now, just the side of him that only she was familiar with.
"Yes," she admitted, sitting heavily on the end of the bed. "I thought… that everything would go back to normal if he got better. We would just… pick up right where we left off. But you!" She pointed at him angrily as she started pacing the length of the hotel room, her arms flailing like moron. "You're supposed to be the biggest jerk on the planet and instead you're just sweet and caring and you're always here for me, you always take care of me. You're not supposed to be in love with me and take care of me or do all of these things that you always do.
"I'm supposed to be in love with Stefan. I was supposed to just wait for him to come home and help him get better and he turned into the worst person I've ever met," she said as a lone tear made its way down her cheek. "He tried to kill me, drive me off the bridge that my parents were killed, and he didn't care. And I know no matter what happens, with anything, that you would never, ever hurt me.
"And then you kissed me, really kissed me, and I for some unknown reason kissed you back," she said pointing her finger at him again. "And everything keeps getting in the way, and someone always messes it up, usually me because I have a big mouth and then you slept with Rebeckah who's the biggest skank on the planet and I hated it. It drives me insane… and why are you smiling?"
Damon chuckled and closed the distance between them, gently tugging her toward him. "I think you're cute when you're ranting," he said.
Elena's heart hammered against her ribs as her hands rested on his chest. "I'm trying to explain this to you," she said softly. She thought she had a lot more to say, but at the moment, she couldn't think of anything else. Her eyes were locked on his, full of such warmth and love, the look that she had been dying for these past few weeks.
"I got the point," he said, squeezing her hips affectionately.
"You… you did?" she asked with wide eyes. "I don't think I even got the point. And it was my point." Why could she never think when he was around? All common sense seemed to fly out the window, and she probably sounded like a blubbering teenager.
"Do you want me to stop loving you Elena?" he asked seriously as he tilter his head toward her. "Do you want me to walk out of your life so you and Stefan can live happily ever after?"
Elena shook her head firmly. "I definitely do not want either of those things," she said. She needed him, all of him. If he walked out of her life, she knew that it'd destroy her. Nothing in her life would ever be worth losing Damon, and it had taken her a long time to figure that out. "But I don't… know what that means."
"It means that you should stop over thinking it," he said softly. "I know you care about me, even if you didn't mean to, you can't help your feelings, and if you gave us a chance Elena, you know I would make you happy. You don't have to do any of this alone."
Elena stared up at him for a long minute before resting her head on his shoulder. "You do make me happy, most of the time," she mumbled. "I'm so, so sorry about what I said at the ball, Damon. I honestly didn't mean it, I was just… upset. And I know that isn't an excuse, but please don't be mad at me anymore."
Damon hugged her tightly against him, kissed her hair. "I'm not mad," he said, his hand tangling in her long tresses. "But you're… gunna have to be honest with me Elena. About whatever is on your mind. I can make a serious effort to not… do impulsive things that get people hurt, if you promise to talk to me, especially about what's going on between us. Don't make me believe that we're… getting close just to rip it away. I don't have anything left for you to break Elena."
She nodded against his chest. "I promise," she said, kissing the underside of his jaw. She finally felt like she could relax, finally able to put this massive behind them and move forward. "I care about Stefan, even… after everything he's done, but I'm not going to go back to him Damon. And mostly because of you. I really, really care about you and I don't… want you to be with anyone else."
He tensed a little bit but he lifted her chin to kiss her gently. "I'm only yours," he said, stroking her cheek.
Elena stared at him for a moment before her arms slid around his neck so she could kiss him properly. Her heart skipped a beat or two as her lips slowly opened under his, his tongue dancing with hers. Her feet left the floor and she instinctively wrapped her legs around his waist as he carried them to one of the beds. "Damon…" she gasped, rubbing against him involuntarily.
He chuckled softly as he curled against her. "We'll have plenty of time for that," he said, running a hand down her side. "I just want to enjoy you."
She slid an arm over his waist, one of her legs moving over his as she snuggled into his arms. "Feels so good to be this close to you," she murmured, her cheek rubbing against his chest gently. "I missed you so much." The world wasn't imploding, she had admitted she felt for Damon and the apocalypse hadn't hit. They would be so much stronger if they were honest with each other, not walking on egg shells, always having each other's back.
Damon kissed the top of her head, his hand running over her back. "I love you," he whispered as her eyes fell closed, a small smile on both their faces.