Her head was pounding when she finally managed to open her eyes. Someone was touching her. Through the dizziness that was churning her stomach, Elena glanced to her left, relief flooding her when she saw Damon crouched beside her. "I knew you'd come," she mumbled, her body leaning into him. It had been so surreal to her, waking up tied to a chair, her life source being drained out for nothing more than hybrids for a sick individual. Flashes of the previous time Klaus had captured her assaulted her mind, reminding her that if Klaus had taken her, Stefan and Damon were hurt. Not that she deserved anything from him with the way she had been acting the last few weeks, but she knew what she needed. Damon seemed to know too and he seemed to be okay.
Damon slid an arm under her knees and cradled her to his chest as he scooped her up. "Of course I did," he said kissing her temple. She had this sudden urge to cry, wanting to fix everything she had ever done wrong to him. He was so sweet, tender, and loving; how could she keep pushing him away? He put up with so much shit from her, because he loved her, because she was worth it.
She dragged her eyes open, her gaze coming to rest of Stefan and Klaus. "What… what is he doing?" she whispered. It was an unbelievable sight, seeing Klaus turn ashen, slumping to the floor. She expected him to jump back up and start snapping necks, but he just… laid there. Unmoving. It couldn't be over, could it?
"We'll talk about it later," he said, heading out of the house. "You're safe now and that's all that matters."
Her nose nuzzled the underside of his jaw as she shivered in the breeze. "I don't feel good," she whimpered, her hand tightening on his shoulder. She wanted to crawl inside his skin, hide from the world, knowing he'd protect her. Her brain was trying to tell her to control herself, tried to remind her that she was supposed to be figuring things out, but her heart was doing all the talking. She needed to be close to him, needed to have this connection with him, and if she wasn't so damn dizzy she'd try to tell him everything she was feeling.
Gently, he set her down on her feet, and she swayed slighting against the car as he opened the passenger door. "We're going home," he said, running a hand over her back. His eyes were so soft, not pushing her, just watching her, every now and then glancing around for danger. "You need to eat and then get some sleep."
Elena sluggishly got in the car and buckled her seat belt. She leaned her head against the back of the seat as Damon climbed in beside her. "You always save me," she whispered. She hadn't meant to say it out loud, but she didn't regret it. Damon always, always saved her. No matter what was going on with them, he always made sure she was safe.
Damon raised an eye brow. "Well you should stop sneaking out on your own," he said with a small smile as they pulled away from the mansion. He glanced down in surprise as her hand tangled with his, but her eyes were closed. He squeezed her fingers gently and headed toward her house. The ride was silent, comfortable, just the beat of her heart, slightly irregular, trying to correct the blood loss. He parked on the curb, shutting off the ignition. "Elena? We're home sweetheart."
Her eyes fluttered open, the sun peeking through the clouds, stinging her eyes a bit as she unbuckled her seat belt. "I could sleep for days," she said, as he came around the car to open her door. She held the handle as she climbed out, her knees wobbling. Her head spun as she clenched her eyes closed, trying to focus on her surroundings. She felt like she had to vomit, and she'd doubt Damon would care, but she didn't want him to see that.
Damon pushed the car door closed and once again had her in his arms. She really could get so used to being held by him. Once inside, he took her to the kitchen, setting her on a barstool. "Stay awake for few minutes Elena," he said, moving her hair away from the wound on her forehead. Unable to help himself he pressed a kiss to it, gently sealing the cut with his tongue. Either she was too out of it, or she didn't care, but she didn't say a word, just let him fuss over her. He opened the fridge, relieved to find some orange juice and after pouring her a glass he made her some toast. "You have to put something in your stomach before you fall asleep."
Elena just sipped her juice, watching him through blurry eyes. "He's really gone isn't he?" she whispered. Her temple tingled where he had kissed her, and he had never ever licked her wounds before. Always took care of them the old fashioned way, but she let it go. They had come so far together, and she didn't want to add any tension when things were so calm at the moment. And honestly, she didn't mind. She would take anything he gave her right now, let him take care of her. Her brain was so fried right now she couldn't even recite her phone number.
"Stefan's going to drop his body in the ocean," Damon said with a nod.
"I didn't mean Klaus," she said sadly as tears stung her eyes. She thought she had been able to accept that Ric was going to die, that she was going to lose another parental figure in her life. But this… Ric being an unkillable vampire, hell bent on taking everything away from her, that she couldn't deal with. Having to see him all the time, full of such hate, and worst of all, he was going to do everything he could to take away what was important to her. And they couldn't kill him. His life was bound to hers.
Damon frowned as he watched her. She stared at the white tiles of the counter, tears sliding down her cheeks. He placed her toast in front of her before coming to sit next to her. "I don't know what you want me to say Elena," he said sadly his knuckles brushing her cheek softly.
She sniffled. "Guess you can't really," she said nibbling on her toast. "So… Stefan's going on a road trip?"
"Wolfboy is going with him," he said. "He'll be back tomorrow."
She almost asked how it was decided that Stefan would be the one to do this, but she found she didn't really care. Damon was here with her, and that was more than enough. She'd be calling him every hour to make sure he was okay, or he'd be doing the same to her. "Good," she said softly. "Can we go to bed now?"
He chuckled a little. "Think you can make it upstairs?" he asked.
"Am I too heavy for you?" she teased. She missed this so bad. The teasing, the laughter, the chemistry. It felt so right to be able to be like this with him, have him close to her, touching her, loving her. She didn't want those things from Stefan.
Damon scoffed as they got to their feet. In a flash she was back in his arms again but this time she was giggling. It had been so long since she had laughed, so long since she had felt safe enough to allow herself to. "Never think I turn down a challenge Miss Gilbert," he said as she finished munching on her toast while he carried her upstairs. "How's the head?"
"Just a dull throb now," she said as he maneuvered them into her room. "Mostly just tired now." Her eyes were practically drooling over the sight of her bed. She had been up for almost 24 hours, been drained of blood, and been knocked out. She'd say it was an eventful evening. She hummed happily as he deposited her in the middle and she rubbed her face on her pillow like a cat. It didn't get better than this.
Damon opened the door the bathroom and dug around in the medicine cabinet until he found the Tylenol. He almost laughed when he came back, finding her under the covers, her sweater and sneakers on the floor beside her bed. "Take these," he said handing her two pills. He closed her blinds, trying to drown out some of the sun for them both before toeing off his boots. With a minor debate with himself, he laid in the open spot next to her, on top of her covers. "Have to keep an eye out for a concussion."
Elena stared at her ceiling for a long minute, before deciding that this was silly. She didn't want a repeat of Denver, didn't want the awkwardness of them sleeping in the same bed. They needed each other, so she rolled a little to rest her head against his arm. Talking usually got her in trouble so she just did what she had wanted to do in the hotel. Her hand slid down to find his, tangling them firmly, no hesitation, no worries, just because. Just them. "I'm sorry I took Stefan to the ball," she mumbled, her eyes peeking open. "Caroline talked me into it." Her life wasn't a dating show, her life was a constant mess and she just… needed to give in.
Damon turned toward her, his arm curling under the pillow. "Gotta figure out your feelings somehow," he said softly.
Elena shook her head. "They're figure out," she said feeling the constricting in her chest. She wouldn't be able to turn away from this, to change her mind. She knew that she would lose Stefan. He wouldn't be able to stick around and watch her be with Damon and that saddened her. But she had lived without Stefan. She had healed from the heart break. Did she think she could handle losing Damon? "I was just… running from them."
"Why?" he asked, running his thumb over the back of her hand. "Because of Stefan?"
"Because of me," she said softly as she took a shaky breath. Only her diaries knew this most secret of thoughts. No one would ever understand her train of thought when it came to Damon, but there was no reason to keep it from him anymore. He deserved to know what she had been feeling all this time, how hard it was for her to deal with. "I know what you're like Damon. You're… passionate, intense, and powerful. And I'm not those things. If I gave myself over to you, I'd lose myself in you. And if I didn't make you happy and you left… what would I do?"
Damon propped himself up on his elbow to stare down at her in confusion. "So let me see if I follow this," he said softly. "You have been dancing around this for months, unable to admit to me that you love me because you think you're not enough for me and that I'm going to leave?" He shook his head in disbelief as his heart clenched. "Do you think that you didn't rock my world in Denver?"
"I don't know," she whispered shyly feeling her cheeks heat up a little. "Never been kissed like that so I don't know what it was supposed to feel like." Stefan had always been tender and sweet, but it had never consuming and mind blowing like what happened with Damon. If Jeremy hadn't interrupted them, she was sure they would have done more than kissing. And she would have liked it.
His hand reached out to gently brush his knuckles across her cheek. "You're so cute," he said softly as he smiled. "You over think everything. Give your poor brain a rest."
"It is resting," she said with a pout. "You're laying here with me aren't you? With minimal complaint." She pushed her body up a little so she could pull the covers down a little before flinging them over Damon's legs. "So I rocked your world huh?"
He chuckled as his arms slid around her, kissing her neck. "Consider Damon's world, thoroughly rocked," he said curling around her. "Believe me Elena, you are perfect for me in every way and I am never going to leave you. Not now. Not when I finally have you."
Her heart skipped a beat with adoration as her knee snuck between his. "You rock my world too Damon," she whispered, her eyes falling closed. They would have a lot to deal with in the morning, a lot of pieces to pick up, but they were stronger together. They made each other better, and as cliché as it sounded, they completed each other. Damon wasn't perfect, he had made many mistakes, but she saw the good in him. She saw how he had changed since falling in love with her. She saw the real him, and he saw the real her, no matter how hard they tried to keep it hidden from each other. Her muscles finally relaxed for the first time in a year, allowing Damon's presence to wash over her.