I don't own anything. The characters all belong to CW.
Elena has been a foster kid her whole life, switching between several foster families, she never really found a place that she could call her home. Things take a dramatically change when she finds herself on the porch of her birth father. During the journey of trying to find her place in the world and figuring out who she truly is, she mets someone, a man, who will change her life forever. Someone to hold on to. Someone who makes her feel safe. Someone to love.
It's a journey of a young girl searching to find her place in the world, wanting to start believing again. And as Elena struggles with the difficulties of her new life in a place she never imagined, she finds something different, something she didn't believe existed anymore – Love - in someone she isn't allowed to.
GUIDE YOU HOME
PROLOGUE: Stand In The Rain
She won't make a sound.
Alone in this fight with herself and the fears whispering if she stands she'll fall down.
She wants to be found.
The only way out is through everything she's
running from wants to give up and lie down.
Charles Dickens once said "Home is a name, a word, it is a strong one; stronger than magician ever spoke, or spirit ever answered to, in the strongest conjuration" – his words were wise, spoken from the deepest spots in his heart, from his inner belief. But after all the pain, the fear that the universe had put me through, I couldn't push myself to believe in them, not anymore. Having a home, a place where people love you not because of who or what you are but despite of it, a place where you can feel safe in the embrace of a family - of your family – where you are always welcome. A place that sounds so wonderful, so meaningful but still so surreal to me. I never had any of this nor will I probably ever have it, a family, a home.
I guessed that was the downside of being a foster kid since I was a baby, the always being alone. The people here from the foster care kept telling me that one day I wouldn't have to be alone anymore, that a nice couple would take me in and love me like their own daughter, and I could for once feel like I belonged to someone, have a normal family. But there came a day, when it just got too hard to believe in it – the stories about families, the fairytales – because I realized that they were just that, stories, fairytales. These things didn't happen to kids like me, to outcasts.
The ringing from the alarm clock pierced through my ears, forcing me to lift my head, my eyes opening a slit wide. I stirred and searched for the button to turn the annoying sound of my alarm off, not wanting to get up just yet. I turned around, burying my head deep in the soft old pillow that covered the upper side of my bed. I groaned – five more minutes. Five more minutes of sleep and I'd have woken up in a cheery mood. This dream, it had seemed so perfect, so peaceful, so... free. Everything about it had felt so good, light as if I could fly, run away from the horror that had taken a permanent place in my life. And for just a tiny bit of a moment, it felt like it was real. But then reality set in, and with it the cruel truth of my human existence. I wasn't free, not as long as I lived there, under the roof of those people who only craved money and couldn't care less about me.
And as someone had read my thoughts, I could hear the stamping footsteps that rose up the stairs, getting louder with every move towards my bedroom. The door flew open, revealing the crinkling face of my 'foster dad' – Dad, even thinking about him in that way made me cringe. He and his wife, my so-called foster parents, together with their six other foster kids never felt like my family, because they never were. No one ever really was my family. My whole life, it was just me. Myself and I in a constant battle against the world.
"Elena!" his deep voice shouted at me. "Get your lazy ass down in the kitchen, it's time for school."
I groaned against my pillow. "I'll be downstairs in a minute, Frank."
I could hear him grumble in anger before he tore the blanket away from my freezing body, exposing me in my short PJ's. "Now, Elena."
Knowing that nothing could make him leave, I got up and rubbed my tired eyes with my fists, mumbling. "I'm up! You can leave now…"
"I expect to see you at the breakfast table in five minutes. If not, I'll drag you there by myself," he said in a raised voice, making his way over to the door. "Understood?"
Shooting me a last disapproving glance, he slammed the door behind him, leaving me alone with my thoughts. Letting my shoulders slump, my gaze wandered around the room that I had called 'home' since they dragged me here six months ago. I didn't like it, I didn't even want to be there but at least I had a comfortable bed and I got something to eat three times a day – in my case, that's all I needed. I never really expected to get more, so I settled for what I got.
I stretched my arms as I slowly dragged myself out of bed and made my way over to the bathroom, ruffling my hair with my hands. Exhausted. That was the exact word to describe my mood right now. Not just tired, simply exhausted.
I suppose re-reading my favourite book all night didn't really help it – On My Way by Miranda Sommers was the most epic and most beautiful book I'd ever read. Something about the story she told was special – maybe because I wished it was mine sometimes - a mother wanting to find her kid that she gave away so many years ago, wanting to embrace her and hold her till the sun goes down. The regret of giving her little daughter away and the hurt in her eyes, the pain inside of her heart.
Or maybe because it gave me some hope - hope that my mother had searched for me, had actually wanted me, and still loved me even when I wasn't there – hope, the only thing that remained in my mind while reading that book. The hope for something better… something real.
Fully dressed in a dark blue jeans, a black tank top, a grey jacket and my old black Converse shoes, I grabbed my school bag and keys and ran down the stairs into the kitchen, tying my hair into a messy ponytail.
"Morning," I mumbled as I entered the kitchen, putting my bag on the floor.
I simply ignored Ashley, my foster mother, who was sitting on the kitchen table drinking coffee, and wandered around the kitchen. Putting some bread into the toaster, I moved over to the fridge, looked into it searching for my own personal stock on strawberry jam. I grabbed it, and turned it around in my hands, putting off the lid.
Just as I wanted to turn around and go back to the toaster, a sudden ache spread through my head, making me cringe. My heart bumped hard against my chest. My hands started shaking, my grip slowly loosening on the jar. My eyes squinting, I tried to ignore the pain moving through my whole body, the shattering of glass piercing through my ears.
My trembling hands moved to my head. Screaming and shrieking that probably came from Amelia, my foster sister and the only one in this household that I actually cared about filled the kitchen. I ignored it – all I wanted was for this pain to stop, to stop from eating me from the inside out.
I felt a little hand grabbing mine, trying to give me support, as the hurt slowly seemed to lessen. Bit for bit, it disappeared. The hand still squeezed mine. I carefully opened my eyes, looking down, and gazed into the teary eyes of Amelia.
A small smile crossed my lips, as I heard her whisper. "You're okay, 'Lena?"
I squeezed her hand in comfort. "I'm fine, little one."
Amelia's emerald eyes lit up, her tears dried out, she swung her little arms around my lower body. I knew that she was worried about me and these constant headaches that seemed to come and go whenever they wanted, so I just held her.
"I'm okay, Amelia", I whispered softly.
She lifted her head and gave me a small smile before letting go of me and settling herself down on a chair beside Ashley, who eyed me suspiciously. I looked around the kitchen, and noticed the broken jar on the floor.
I grabbed a towel and kneeled down besides the mess I made, ignoring Frank's angry glares as he entered the kitchen. I sighed, this day could only get better now.
"What the hell did you do now again, Elena?", he spat.
I didn't answer, just simply continued cleaning the kitchen tiles with the towel. Before I could react in any way, I felt him grab my arm, yanking me up to look into his dark brown eyes.
"What did you do, Elena?" he asked once again, his voice angry and harsh.
I looked into his eyes, freeing myself out of his grip. "Nothing. It was just an accident, I swear."
He snorted. "Do you actually think I'd believe that?"
"It's the truth," I said in a steady voice, taking a step back from him. "But believe what you want, I don't really care."
With that, I grabbed my bag from the floor and turned around, no longer wanting to be in his presence. Everything about this man disgusted me, his laugh, his face, his cruel personality. He didn't care about us foster kids, he did it for the stupid money so he could continue buying his 'oh so precious' alcohol.
"Elena! You're gonna clean this up!" he shouted. "You hear me? You won't leave this house until this mess has disappeared!"
"Screw you," I mumbled, not looking back at him.
I heard his screams, his angry voice telling me to stop in my tracks and come back but I didn't care. I just wanted to leave the house, and that as soon as possible. I tightened the grip around my bag, walking through the front door and slamming it behind me. The ache in my head kept coming back, but I fought it not wanting to appear weak in this moment. I needed to be strong now, like I've always had been. My whole life I fought against everyone and everything, never letting someone get too close to me – except for one person.
A smile crept on my face as I thought about him – caring, protecting Elijah – my best friend, my brother, the only one I ever considered as a kind of family. Of course he wasn't my real brother, but he was the only person in my life who never really left me and that made him more my family than any other human being that had ever made an appearance in my life.
Everyone left me, but not he. Not Elijah.
I walked through the streets of Richmond, passing house after house, knowing exactly where my feet were dragging me. I was supposed to go for school, but that was the last topic I could think about right now. Today was one of these stupid days again – I'd have to meet up with my social worker Mollie and talk about my life with my new 'family'. I'd tell her how much I loved it there and that I was happy. That's how these things worked, nobody cared if we were actually happy.
My hands in my pockets, I continued on my way. I walked and walked, ignoring all my surroundings till I reached my destination. I climbed up the fire escape to his apartment, and knocked on the window, knowing that he was awake. My mouth twitched upwards, a smile forming on my lips as his familiar face appeared from behind the bedroom door.
He made his way over to the window, having no intention to open it and just stared at me, a big knowing smile on his face.
"Elijah! Come on, open the window!" I said. "I'm freezing."
He folded his arms across his chest. "What did you say? I didn't quite hear you."
"Elijah.." I sighed, trembling.
"What did you say?" he answered playfully.
"Fine," I said. "Could you, good and handsome Elijah, please open the window and let me into your lovely home?"
He chuckled quietly before opening the window and shooting me an amused look. "See, you can actually be nice."
Instead of answering, I stuck out my tongue at him and climbed through the window finding a firm hold on his shoulders. Without saying another word, he closed me in his embrace and held me close, knowing that this was exactly what I needed on a day like this.
"Eli, it's okay," I whispered, freeing myself out of his arms and moving further into the apartment.
He gave me a small smile, following me. "Want a coffee before your big meeting with Mollie?"
"That'd be fantastic."
He nodded with his head towards the kitchen, swinging his arm around my shoulders. "Come on then, let's prepare you for this horrible day."
Fifteen minutes and a coffee later, we sat quietly at his kitchen table both enjoying the silence and the unspoken, but existent words between us. Elijah knew exactly how I felt about these days on which I had to meet up with my social worker – it wasn't about meeting Mollie or actually talking to her, it was about the lying at her. Mollie always had been there for me, no matter how hard I had tried to push her away, or how often I had shouted at her to leave me alone because no because nobody really cared about me, about my well-being. The difference with Mollie was that she actually did care.
"Elena?" Elijah's voice brought me out of my thoughts.
I looked up at him, tears threatening to fall from my eyes.
He took my hand in his. "Elena… You don't have to live like this, you know. You could just tell Mollie the truth… I'm sure she can find you another family."
"I know, but I.. I can't okay?" I answered, my voice trembling. "You're a kid like me, Elijah… You know how it is to be passed back and forth between foster families, I just want to stay at this family till I'm eighteen and can live in an apartment on my own – no matter how screwed up it is at Frank and Ashley's place, it's better than living in some orphanage. Besides, I can't leave Amelia alone… I couldn't do that to her. She hates it as much as I do there, Eli. I can't leave her."
He nodded, squeezing my hand in understanding. "I understand. It's okay."
I smiled gratefully at him, knowing that no other words were needed. That's how Elijah and I worked, the never saying anything but still the always being there. Even when I sometimes had the feeling that I was alone in the world, I knew he always had my back – he would always stand silently behind me, watching over me, protecting me, making sure I'm okay. That was the Elijah I learned to love since I had was eight years old – a little girl, scared and lonely, wanting someone to hold her at night - and that was the Elijah I had always loved.
After spending the whole morning with Elijah, I dragged myself over to the café where I was supposed to meet up with Mollie. It didn't take me long to spot her familiar face under the costumers of the little lunch bar – her shiny red hair, her emerald green eyes and her always so welcoming smile simply stood out of the crowd.
As soon as she laid eyes on me, she waved me over to her table and gave me a comforting hug.
"Elena!" she greeted me. "How are you, honey?"
I smiled happily at her, taking place on the chair beside hers. "I'm good, thanks. What about you?"
"Oh, I'm good. Work is stressful, same old stuff you know," she said winking.
I let out a small laugh, positioning myself in the chair and playing nervously with my hands. Mollie always gave her best to make me feel comfortable talking to her, I was glad to have her as my social worker – most of them wouldn't even bother to actually listen to me – Mollie, she did listen. Carefully, and capturing every word in her head, one look into my eyes and she knew the truth.
"So, Elena.." she began in her normal friendly voice. "How have things been lately? Are the Muller's treating you right?"
I took a deep breath, preparing myself to lie, just like I always did at these conversations. "Things have been good, I guess. Frank and Ashley have been really nice to me in the past months, I appreciate them taking me in very much."
I felt Mollie's eyes watching me suspiciously before she spoke up, in a serious voice. "Elena, don't lie to me. I know you, and I know when you're not speaking the truth. So tell me, are you happy?"
Imposing a smile, I said. "Of course I am. I have a bed, a house, a… nice family who took me in. I couldn't ask for more now, could I?"
"Stop it, Elena!" the normally quiet Mollie exclaimed.
My gaze wandered down to my hands as I mumbled. "No, I'm not happy. Not really."
"I know," she paused, her voice softened as she continued speaking. "I.. I'm not supposed to tell you this but I found something out."
My eyes shot up, meeting her green ones in question. "What do you mean?"
Mollie reached over the table, taking my hand in hers. "I did some digging the other day, about what happened to you after your birth parents gave you away. And thereby I stumbled over your dad's files…"
"What? I don't understand, I.." I stuttered, not really knowing how to process all these information's.
"Elena, your birth father lives nearby – he lives in Mystic Falls."
My heart bumping reflected in my ears, an uneasy feeling spread through my stomach, my feelings confused. My birthfather, my dad, the man who gave me away the moment I was born – was I supposed to be happy about knowing that he was alive? Sad that he had never looked for me in all these years? Or rather upset because he and my birth mother abounded me, just like that?
"Elena?" she asked. "You're okay?"
I looked at her in confusion. "You mean, he… he… Do you have his address? His name?"
"I do. His name is Grayson Gilbert," she said. "He has a little service station in Mystic Falls, his business is doing pretty good. And he lives over his garage, no wife, no kids. It's just him, Elena."
I processed her words in my head; he didn't have a family, which meant that I was his only kid. His only daughter.
"Could I.. I mean would it be possible for me to go and see him?"
"Of course, I mean I'd have to talk with the people from foster care first but.." Mollie rambled but I cut her off.
"No, I mean as in now. I wanna know who I am, Mollie. I wanna know my roots, I wanna know if I have his eyes, if I laugh like him or if I have this annoying habit to bit my lip from him, " I chuckled, tears forming in my eyes, my head shaking in protest. "I wanna know why he gave me up, I want him to look into my eyes and tell me why he gave me away. Did he and my birth mom ever consider keeping me? Wasn't I good enough for them?"
She sighed. "Elena.."
"Please!" I begged her, a small tear escaping my eye.
I could see her struggling with herself, the social worker and the human being, Mollie, arguing in her head, about what was the right thing to do. I knew it was selfish to ask something like that from her, but after all it was my birth father – maybe, after all these years of being alone, of wishing to have a real family someday, after giving up hope so many times, I still was this little girl who grew up under people who didn't gave a shit about her and who just wanted to be loved. By someone. Anyone.
I heard her sighing, thereby bringing my attention back to her. "I wish I could help you Elena, but I can't risk losing my job. I'm sorry."
She squeezed my hand a last time before she got up from her chair. I looked up at her, my eyes pleading for some information, anything that would give me a hint. I wanted to shout at her, hit her, everything just to make her talk. She couldn't do that – telling me something like this and then just leave. No, that wasn't right. I deserved to know the truth, about myself, about my birthparents, about everything.
Just as I wanted to open my mouth to freak out on her, she placed a bunch of files on the table, her gaze watching me.
"I can't help you finding your dad, Elena. I'm not allowed to," she explained. "But I'll give you this, there is everything you need to know about yourself. About your parents. We will just say I forgot it here, and that you found it."
She smiled at me, that welcoming smile of hers that always made me feel like the world wasn't too bad after all. I mouthed a small "Thank you", placing my hand on the folder.
"Goodbye Elena," Mollie turned around and walked away from me, slowly disappearing into the crowd of people, leaving me alone with my thoughts, my confusion and… My gaze wandered to the table - the folder that contained my whole life on papers.
I knocked hysterically on Elijah's door, my grip tightening around the big folder in my arms. My impatience grew with every minute that passed, my thoughts spinning around only one subject – my birthfather. I needed to see him, I needed to talk to him and know the truth. The truth that had defined my whole life. I knocked again, louder and more determined this time. Damn it, where the hell was he?
Only seconds later, the front door of his apartment opened, revealing a confused Elijah. I stormed passed him, my grip still around the files in my arms, ignoring his puzzled looks and his murmured words. I needed to tell him, now. I couldn't hold it together anymore; it was eating me up inside. So I turned around to him, seeing him as he closed the door behind me.
He shot me a questioning look. "What the hell? Elena?"
My gaze wandered around the room, searching any hint of how to start this conversation. As kids, Elijah and I spent nights together imagining how our birthparents would show up one day and take us home with them. We imagined how they would look like, what they were like, and if we were anything like them. We could talk for hours about them without having any clue about their personality – for us they were always great parents. The one kind that would cuddle in bed with you and tell you Good Night stories so you could sleep at night, the kind who would always love you. And maybe one day, we imagined, they would actually exist… So if I couldn't trust Elijah with this, who could I trust then?
"I know where my birth father lives," I blurted out, covering my mouth with my hand immediately.
His eyes widened in shock. "What?"
I took a deep breath, sorting out all the thoughts and feelings that ran though my body before explaining him everything that Mollie had told me within the last hour. I told him exactly what she told me – how she asked me about Frank and Ashley, if I was happy there. How I lied to her and she didn't believe me, how she told me that she had found out that Grayson Gilbert lived and owned a garage in Mystic Falls, that he had no family. I told him everything, every little detail leaving him speechless at some parts and smiling at other ones.
"She found him, Elijah. Mollie found my dad. It really has happened," I finished.
He let himself fall on the stool in his kitchen, looking at me with a staggered expression. "Woah! That sounds… amazing, Elena."
I settled myself beside him, and placed the folder on the table. "Do you think I should visit… I mean, do you think he'd want to see me after all these years?"
Elijah's hazel eyes softened. "To be honest, I have no idea. But Elena, this is what you always dreamed of – your dad. Your own family. You waited for this so long… you would be dumb not to adopt this chance."
"You think so?" I looked up at him in hope.
He laid both of his hands on my shoulders, shaking me. "Elena! This is it - the defining key moment in your life, don't waste time. Jump into the next bus and get your ass over to Mystic Falls, go talk to him. Go and get to know him."
A smile crept up on my lips. "You're right. I should probably…"
"Go!" he said enthusiastically.
I got up from the chair, grabbed the files from the table and just as I wanted to turn around, I felt his hand taking mine.
"Good luck, Elena."
I swung my arms around him, closing him in a grateful embrace. "Thank you, Eli. I don't know what I would do without you."
He laughed. "Probably nothing, you'd be a total lost cause if it weren't for me and my awesomeness."
I let go of him, giving him a playful slap on the shoulder. "Oh shut up, you!"
"What?" he held his hands up in surrender. "I just pointed out the obvious."
"You wish," I said, shaking my head in amusement and turning around to leave the room.
"Oh come on, you know it's the truth!" he yelled behind me.
"Bye Elijah," I shouted back at him, walking through the front door out into the hallway, a decision made – I would go and see my father, today.
An hour later, I climbed out of the bus. There I was, Mystic Falls, the hometown of my father. How that sounded – my father, my dad… I let my eyes wander over the streets, capturing the surroundings in my head like photographs, I wanted to remember this. All of it. Every single detail of the moment when I'd finally meet him for the first time in my entire life.
A big bubble formed itself in my stomach, my nervousness growing with every step I took. I was closer to him more than ever, nearer to my family.
During the whole drive over to Mystic Falls, I had placed the folder into my bag and thought about all the things I had to say to him. I mean, what would I tell him? That I was the daughter he gave away as a teenager?
How could I tell him something about myself without letting him think that I was some messed up kid who only searched for some proper place to stay? How could I tell him that I hated him for abandoning me when I was a toddler but that I also missed him every day? And why should he even believe me? Right, I thought, I had the folder.
I walked past people, old and young, past houses, big and small, past grocery stores and pubs till I reached the place I was looking for – his service station – Grayson Gilbert's car shop. My whole life I waited for this one moment, the moment that could turn my whole life around. I made my way over to the front door of his little business, little steps, setting one foot before another, trying to ease my nerves.
From the inside, I could her men's voices, talking, joking, and laughing. And one of these voices belonged to him. I slowly breathed in and out, my hands shaking, my heart bumping fast against my tiny chest, my thoughts exploding in my head before I tensely pushed the door open.
A bell rang, forcing the men's voices to stop laughing; three pair of eyes were now focused on me. I gulped. This was it.
The tall man in the front, brown hair and hazel eyes that reminded me a lot of mine, wiped his hands off with a cloth as he spoke up, his words directed at me.
"Hello. Can I help you, girl?" he asked.
I pressed my lips together, my hands trembling in apprehension as I tried to answer him. "I… I am.."
One of the other men, dark-skinned, deep brown eyes and black hair, cut me off, laughing. "You're assuredly a girl scout, aren't you?"
"I want chocolate chip cookies," said the third one, a muscular tall man with blond hair and blue shiny eyes. "So delicious."
"Come on guys, let her be," the brown-haired man in the front spoke up again and then turned to face me. "So, how can I help you? Want me to buy something from you or what?"
I took all my strength together and answered him. "Oh no… I'm not a girl scout."
As the words left my mouth I could hear the blond guy mumbling, making me bite back laughter. "Man, I've been looking forward to those chocolate cookies."
The guy's eyebrows in the background furrowed in question. "Who are you then?"
"I'm searching for Grayson Gilbert, he's the owner of the service station, right?" I asked hesitantly.
"That'd be me," the man in the front said. "And who are you if I might ask?"
I closed my eyes, taking a deep breath, my hands clenching into fists. I gazed around the room, the three pair of eyes now looking puzzled at me. This was the moment – the moment of the truth. The moment where my whole future would be decided.
"I'm not a girl scout… I'm… kind of… I'm your daughter," I breathed out trying to set up a smile, noticing how Grayson Gilbert's smile faded from his face, leaving a shocked expression behind.
So stand in the rain.
Stand your ground.
Stand up when it's all crashing down.
You stand through the pain.
You won't drown.
And one day, what's lost can be found.
A/N: So that was it. The Prologue of my New Story - Guide You Home. This story is very different from the other one, it's gonna be a little darker, but I hope you'll read it anyway. I hope you liked the first chapter, I really do. And I'm not abandoning my other story, the inspiration is just not there at the moment - I'm sorry to leave you guys waiting on that one.
A special thanks goes to Mollie (EverythingBasedOnMe) for pre-reading this chapter and correcting the mistakes I made. She's one of the best authors out there and if you haven't read her fics yet - GO READ THEM NOW! She's awesome, thank you hun. And another thanks goes to Nour (HopelessromanticDE) who also looked over a bit of the chapter and is a great friend of mine - she just started her first fic, so go and read it, it's a great start.
Well, anyway thank you guys for reading and I'd really appreciate to hear your thoughts about this one.
Reviews are love!