A/N Okay so this one-shot just jumped its way into my head and demanded to be written. Elena's choice in the finale next week is going to be so important so I wanted to do a little one shot for one of the options. Let's hope she doesn't choose this one! This is a little sad (at least it's intended to be). Anyway, I hope you enjoy it.
In the end she chose neither of them. In fact, she demanded that they both left town and more importantly left her alone.
His heart broke that day but both he and his brother respected her wishes. She had chosen; she'd chosen to be alone.
Despite his promise to leave her be, he couldn't quite bring himself to just turn his back on her and so he'd returned, unbeknownst to her.
He was back within two weeks of his departure. She never knew that he was there and he liked it that way. He took pleasure in just watching her. It sounded creepy but in his head he had made it less so. He just wanted to see her live her life; see her live the life that she had chosen.
He'd watched the tears that ran down her face, every time either he or his brother were mentioned. It had taken every ounce of self-control not to go to her side and comfort her. She needed to cry, to let it all out if she was to ever get over them.
Time flew by but the masochist in him could never leave her. She was his home, where he belonged. He watched as the Donovan guy asked her out again. He had seen the hesitance in her eyes before she half-heartedly accepted. He couldn't stop the stab of jealousy that tore through him. She would rather be with this guy than with him? But it all became clearer days after he proposed and she accepted.
"Matt, there's something you need to know," she said seriously.
Matt's whole body froze in fear that she would take back her acceptance to his proposal. "Okay, what is it?"
"I just- I just want it to be clear with you. What we have is perfect. It's exactly what I need." Matt smiled; he had been expecting something bad. "But I need know whether you can accept that what we have is not an epic love. I've had one of those and I can't ever have another one. I like our small-town love and I just need to be sure that you're happy with it to."
Matt's face fell at her words but he nodded meekly.
He hadn't blamed the guy. Any life with her was better than no life with her. But once again his heart ached hearing that she had only ever had one epic love. If she'd loved his brother so much, why didn't she just choose him?
He hadn't known how the wedding went; he couldn't build up the courage to go, but he had seen her get into the limo to go to the church. All he knew was that she was the most stunning bride he had ever laid eyes on.
He saw her go through the motions of marriage, her heart never really in it. He had watched the emptiness inside her grow and wished he could do something to help her. He had been down this road and it never ended well.
He had seen the spark return a little when she discovered she was pregnant. His whole body soared. His girl was going to be a mother. She would get the chance to experience one of the greatest gifts: motherhood. He could safely say that for the first time since she had asked him to leave, he was actually happy she had done so. This was something he could never give her. This was something she deserved.
He watched her play with her son, Charlie; he watched her teach him his times table and he watched her comfort him when he had a nightmare about the monster under his bed. Like he had always known, she was a wonderful mother.
"Mommy, what is the difference between loving someone and being in love?"
Her eyes immediately caught her son's gaze. "What?" she asked, confused where this question had come from.
"What is the difference between loving someone and being in love?" he repeated not realising that his mother had heard his words loud and clear the first time.
"Loving someone is caring deeply for them but being in love with someone means that they mean everything to you. Why do you ask champ?"
"A girl at school was crying because she said she was in love with someone but they only loved her and weren't in love with her and then I got really confused," he explained. "Have you ever been in love with someone?" he asked curiously.
She smiled, reminiscing the past. "Yes, once."
"What was he like?" Charlie asked eagerly.
"He was funny and charming, a real ladies man but he loved me deeply and so fiercely. He was like my other half. He had the most beautiful heart-stopping blue eyes and his hair was-"
"You're talking about daddy!" the child interrupted, "he has blue eyes." He hadn't picked up on how she was speaking in the past tense.
Her smile slipped off her face. "Yeah Charlie, I'm talking about daddy."
He could've sworn his heart stopped when he heard her words. She was talking about him; he knew it. She had loved him. He was her epic love. He was torn between feeling immensely happy and overwhelmingly sad at what had slipped away.
Seeing the new lease on life she had, now that she had her son, he felt like the time may finally be right to leave her and move on with his life like Stefan had been able to do. He had just moved in with his new German girlfriend; he was over her. But just as he visited her one last time she got a phone call that pulled her back into the darkness again. Jeremy had died in a car crash.
Seeing her crumble to the ground, he knew that there was no way in hell he could leave her like this. She needed him and God knew he always needed her.
He watched her pick up the pieces of her life. She was becoming a pro at it. He observed her put the mask back on her face as she once again kept everyone except her son at arm's length.
She had remained this way until her son went off to college and then she had no-one that was still close to her, except him, but she didn't know that he was there for her, always.
He watched her grow her old gracefully and he yearned to grow old with her. Instances like these were what made him miss his humanity more than ever.
Tears ran down her face as she attended Matt's funeral. His fears that she'd die soon reached heights they had never reached before. He didn't know how he'd deal if she wasn't in his life anymore. His whole existence depended on her now.
Sadly that day came all too soon; he saw her lying in the hospital bed, aged 76 with her heartbeat slowing down with every breath she took. He couldn't stop himself; for 58 years he had watched from afar but he couldn't do it anymore.
He lay down next to her on her bed, his heart swelling, feeling her body lying next to him. He had stayed away for too long. He thought that she was too weak to notice him there but he always had a habit of underestimating her.
"Damon," she whispered without opening her eyes. He froze, hearing his name come off her lips. He didn't have the words to describe how incredible it made him feel.
"Elena," he whispered back just as quietly.
Her eyes fluttered open and a tear slowly fell down the side of her face as her brown eyes connected his cerulean ones. He was still as beautiful as she remembered.
He smiled, "I'm always here."
She stared at him for a few seconds before she replied, "I know."
He decided not to dwell on her words, not wanting to read too much into them.
"I'm sorry I'm a coward," she said as more tears streamed down her cheeks.
He used the pad of his thumb to wipe them away. "You're not a coward Elena. You're the bravest person I know. You chose a life alone; I'm not sure anyone else could ever do that."
She smiled; he always knew how to make her feel better. She could feel her organs beginning to shut down, her health deteriorating and yet somehow this was the most content she had felt in a very long time.
She was slipping away but there was something she had to tell him desperately before she was gone. "I still- I still love you," she muttered out before the call to the other side became too appealing to not follow.
The tears ran down his face. She was gone. He had lost his home. "I love you too, I will always love you," he said loudly, even though he knew she wouldn't hear him. He pressed a kiss to her cheek and just lay silently beside her.