I wrote this Friday. It was supposed to be the start of a new story, but after writing this first chapter I've realized that I just don't have the heart right now to write from the show. I'd decided to leave it stashed, but after a little coercing from my friend Daisy, I decided to just post it as an O/S. I mean, it was written, so why not share it with you all.

Since it was supposed to be the start of a new fic, it's not as developed as my other one-shots or as meaningful as I like them to be. Usually, I try my best to wrap things up as nicely as I can where these two are concerned, but as it stands right now, I just can't. I'm staying positive about next season, I am, but right now, this was the best I could do. So just be warned, that there isn't a happy ending with this. Instead there's just a hint of possibility for the future.

The second her eyes pop open and oxygen floods her lungs, disappointment saturates her every limb. She's aware of what's happened, been around supernatural entities long enough to acknowledge why she's seeing the light of day after she'd already breathed her last breath. The problem is, she'd been ready to die. Already teased by the essence of its comforting warmth. The freedom that came with floating through a heaven she's not sure exists and the relief it offered by no longer being entangled in a vicious love triangle with two vampires clambering to own her heart. One where she never fails to end up hurting one no matter what decision she makes.

Those two vampires are what she see's first, both plagued with a combination of relief and utter panic, as the possibility of her second life slams her right back into the devastations of her first.

There's such potent love on both expressions and she can't help when the tears spill over the rims of her eyes because she's just not ready for this, for any of it. She'd made her choice, accepted the terms of setting one free while the other was left to live with the notion that she'd chosen him in the end. She'd died to save someone she'd loved and it held the potential for all of them to move on, and yet, here they were again. All three, stuck to live out this damn repetition of interwoven desires for eternity.

Because although she wants to let herself fade, she can't do it. Already knows that the option of falling into her comforting abyss of whatever comes after life isn't really an option at all. Not when Jeremy's left without a single person attached to his original family. Not after her friends have already been strong enough to own their new second starts. And especially not when everyone around her has risked their lives so many times for the sake of her survival.

In the back of her mind, she understands they'd all stand by her side no matter what choice she makes. They'd accept it as her decision - always have, even if it was the wrong one, so why would they change now? But despite their acceptance, she wouldn't be able to make that decision.

So she lets the tears falls, accepting that they absolutely won't be the last, as Stefan's arms slip around and offer her a warm embrace. She accepts it, the love he's offering and the firm hold he's supplying because why shouldn't she? She'd chosen him in the end.

But as she sinks her body against his and mutters the words, "I'm going to transition," into the fabric covering his shoulder, she's reminded of the one person who's never accepted her choices at face value. Not without at least a little, or maybe a hell of a lot of, debate so she can see the other side that she's choosing to ignore.

"You don't have to," Damon proclaims, and his tone is softer than she's ever been comfortable with. It speaks of nothing but the way his heart beats simultaneously with her.

She feels Stefan's arms stiffen around her as he whispers a heartbreaking, "I'm sorry, I tried to come back for you," into the skin of her neck.

The irony of already having to make a choice between these two brothers and which one to answer doesn't slip past her, but she maneuvers herself out of the predicament by squeezing her eyes tight. A few last tear drops slip down her cheek and against Stefan's shirt as she replies with a simple, general, "I know."

They both sigh in response; one full of relief and the other frustration. Conversations need to be had with each brother, not about where they stand; that decision's already been made and she's decided to follow through with her original choice. She'd made it for a reason. But Stefan's guilt over leaving her at the bottom of the lake is palpable in the way he clings to her figure and Damon's distress over her choice is obvious in the set of his jaw.

This time, it's not a choice she can maneuver her way out of. She needs to choose which brother to deal with first. And there's only one that absolutely needs to be addressed before her first taste of crimson blood. The other has a surreal amount of time to be handled.

So she shifts her eyes onto Damon's cobalt blues and declares, "Stefan, I need to talk to Damon for a minute."

Damon simply replies with a furrow of his brows, but his reaction isn't the one she's worried about at the moment.

Stefan's arms retract slowly as his face inches north to block her view of Damon and reveal his wary expression. It's blatant why he's worried, has every logical reason to believe it's valid, but she leans her forehead against his and assures, "My choice still stands. And I know you'll respect the one I'm making now to turn, but I need a few minutes with him to make sure he will too."

"Okay," Stefan admonishes after another exhaustive sigh. "Come for me when you're done, " he adds with a soft understanding smile. There's no move for a kiss or intimate moment, which she's thankful for considering their heartbroken audience, before he exits.

It leaves only her and the brother she's just previously shattered. There are so many issues that need to be addressed as to how they move forward from here because although she's set him free, it's understood he'll never be able to leave her now. It apparent in the rigid form of his stance and the ache in his irises.

"I never should have left," he doesn't surprise her by blurting out. He doesn't move to her side, instead remains in the corner of the room as he shakes his head furiously. "Leave it to Stefan to drop the ball in the 2 hours I leave him to look after you."

She replies by slashing her head just as violently through the air. "I asked him to save Matt instead of me, Damon. You can't blame him for this." She doesn't want him to. This love between the three of them is already brutal and devastating enough without his added hatred towards Stefan. He can hate her all he wants, but not his brother. She could never handle that.

"The hell I can't," he argues, fury present in his tone as he stomps forward. "You didn't want this, Elena. We both know that and now you're doing it for the wrong reasons."

He stops right in front of her, all their previous safe separation disintegrated, when she refutes, "What are the right reasons?"

He sighs, long and dramatic, before his eyes drift down to his clasped hands and he mutters, "I don't know if there are any."

Eternal love sounds in the back of her mind; loving someone enough to want to spend the rest of your forever with them certainly fits the bill. At another time she can hear the words firing from his lips without hesitation, but not now. Not anymore. And it makes her realize just how opinionated he is when it comes to Stefan and her relationship, but also how broken he is by the days event. Losing your best friend and the teenage girl you've devoted your heart to, all in the same day, apparently has that effect.

As much as she wants to guide him through an explanation of her choice or be there for him where Alaric's concerned, they simply don't have the time. So she sticks to their original topic.

"Look, I know why you don't want me to go through with it," she breathes out, hating the way the sentence sounds as it falls from her lips. "You didn't want it and it was forced on you, but I'm making my own choice. It's not being pushed on me."

"Don't be an idiot," he scoffs. "We both know I want you to go through with it."

"Then what's the problem?" she shouts back, suddenly frustrated that their confrontations never manage to settle without an argument.

But Damon disregards her heated tone and slips his hands around her neck, forcing her to focus on only him and the smooth consistency of his level tone. "You have the chance to end everything, get the peace you've earned after all the shit we've put you through. And I just can't stand the thought of you dealing with regret afterwards. It doesn't go away, only festers."

Agony is swimming around his blue irises and it catches her breath in her throat as he continues, "And as much as the thought of losing you kills me, the concept of you dealing with the same regret I go through every day is ten times worse. I would never wish that on you."

His pain is present, etched in every crease of his forehead and smooth expanse of his defined cheekbones. She fights to keep her thoughts latched onto the reason he's explaining that pain exists but fails as it drifts to the current reason. It's easy to place blame on herself, she does it quite often actually, but she's never had the courage to face him upfront.

Now, she does. Because despite his desire to keep her around, he's still trying to protect her. And it's gut-wrenching witnessing that dedication after she'd dismissed him earlier in the evening.

So she lifts her hands to his cheeks, slips the pad of her thumb across his stubble, and stutters, "I'm sorry, I haven't ever wanted to hurt you." God knows the timings too late. It's all wrong. But she just needs him to know she never meant for any of this to happen.

But he rips her hands down and removes the contact she knows full well he craves, because she's always craved it too. Unfortunately, it's a crave she's never been brave enough to give in to fully. And it's certainly one she can't give in to with her 'choice' standing somewhere within the hospital idly waiting.

Damon slashes his head through the air and snarls, "No, it's not about you and me, Elena. This is solely about you and what you're choosing to do."

And with that, her fight resurfaces. It always does whenever he's around. Her arms cross over her chest and she disputes, "Well my choice still stands."

He scoffs and rolls his eyes, which causes her tone to drop as she adds with conviction, "You're right, I didn't want this in the beginning, but now that I'm actually faced with the decision, I have to make the one that's right. I can't leave Jeremy and as much as I wish I could, I can't leave everyone I love behind. I'm not ready for that."

She pauses as her eyes drop down to the floor. Her breathing is coming out in jagged gasps as she steadies the repetitions and admits softly, "I'd only regret it if I didn't make this choice."

The moment directly afterwards stretches into oblivion as he stares at her unwavering expression. Emotions filter through his, ranging from more rage to yearning to flat out disappointment and she finds herself caught in suspension, unsure of which version of him will re-enter their conversation.

But as he sighs, it's clear adamantly determined Damon's been hung in the closet for another day because all that's left in the tiny room is his utmost understanding concern. "I don't think you comprehend exactly what you're signing up for here," he tries in one last plea.

She forces a weak smile at the corner of her lips and fears she might cry again. "Actually, I do," she whispers. She knows it all too well.

"It's not going to be easy," he breathes out as a warning. "Any of it."

"I know that, but I'll have an excellent teacher," she replies before flinching at her insensitive mistake. She'd just wanted to lighten the mood and remove the undercurrent that came with the fact that they weren't solely referring to the troubles of being a young vampire, but she'd done anything but by throwing Stefan back into the mix.

But he disregards her mention of his brother and cocks his head to the side. "Teachers," he corrects with his million dollar smirk in place. His perfect façade's been lifted to shield the true state of his heart.

There's light in his eyes that his shield doesn't cover and she fears it's hope for something she can't think about right now. They have eternity, maybe at some point she can, but not right now. "Damon, you don't have to…" she starts.

"Yeah, yeah, you set me free," he mutters with a flip of his hand before honing his piercing blues onto her chocolate orbs. His expression is serious, with a trace of adoration she's come to expect throughout the past year and a half. And it's that trace - the one that twists the knife in her stomach - that makes his next words and their future so dangerous.

"But when it comes to those I love, Elena, I guess I'm just like you. I can't leave them behind either."

Please be gentle when reviewing. My heart is fragile right now.

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