We've only just begun
Hypnotized by drums
Until forever comes
You'll find us chasing the sun


I.


Stefan winced, and Elena instantly pulled the washcloth away from the cut on his cheek. "Sorry," she murmured, "I'll try to be more gentle." She gave him a small smile as she pressed the cloth to the gash across his forehead. "It doesn't look that bad, you know…It kinda makes you look badass."

He reached up with his own hand to grab hold of the washcloth. "I can do that," he said quietly, "Don't worry about it."

"No, I want to," Elena insisted, and Stefan dropped his hand back to his lap. She wrung out the cloth in the bowl of hot water beside them and then reapplied it with a softer touch, "How come it's taking so long to heal?"

"Too much vervain in my system," he answered, resting his head tiredly against the wall. "I need blood to flush it out."

Elena had been kneeling next to him on the floor, but she began to get to her feet. "I can go ask Elijah and Klaus if they have any blood in the house—"

"No," Stefan said hoarsely, grabbing her wrist and pulling her back down next to him. "Can't we just go home?"

She sent a paranoid look towards the door, "No, they asked us to stay…something about having a civilized conversation over dinner and there being enough bloodshed for one day."

"So they're really dead," Stefan stated, his gaze lingering on the burnt corpse on the other side of the room. "It's hard to believe."

"Well, believe it," Elena replied heavily, moving to sit down next to him. She drew her knees up to her chest, wrapping her arms around her legs. "You should've seen Elijah's face when he saw what I…when he realized…" She shook her head, remorse filling her expression. "Stefan, did I do the right thing? And if I did, then why do I feel like this?"

"You did what had to be done," he responded slowly, "And I'm sure that on some level, Elijah understands that you were just protecting the people you love. As for why you feel guilty, it's because your empathy has been amplified. You identify with Elijah, more than you did when you were human."

"Yeah," she muttered moodily, "That must be it."

"It's not like he's completely alone," Stefan reminded her, "He still has Klaus."

Elena pursed her lips, "When Bonnie showed up at my house, rambling about how she had put Klaus' spirit into Tyler's body—I thought she was kidding. I couldn't believe that she would've done something like that and just LEFT town without telling us!"

"She must've figured that Klaus couldn't cause too much trouble while he was hiding in Tyler's body...I guess she didn't know that Rebekah and Kol would be hellbent on getting that stake back."

Elena turned to look at him incredulously, "Are you seriously taking her side on this? You and Damon almost died, Stefan! Not to mention that Klaus was pretending to be Tyler while he was with Caroline—do you realize how WRONG that is?"

"I'm not taking her side," Stefan explained patiently, "What she did was wrong, no question about that. But don't tell me that you don't understand why she did what she did. To save her mother's life? To ensure that her friends didn't die? You might've done the same, if you were in her shoes."

Elena didn't say anything for a minute, but she could feel Stefan's eyes on her. "I'm not angry with her," she replied finally, "And I do understand her motives. I'm just saying, she shouldn't have left us in the dark about what she had done."

"At least she came back," Stefan offered, "Speaking of which, why did she decide to return? Guilty conscience?"

Elena raised an eyebrow and then fished into her pocket for something. Stefan peered at her curiously when she pulled out an object and laid it onto the palm of her hand.

"Er, lipstick?"

"I used it early this morning to write on Jeremy's mirror," she told him, "And apparently Bonnie had some spell in place where she could use his mirror to check up on him. When she saw what I had written, she realized that Jeremy was spinning out of control—so I guess she actually came back to for him...But when we filled her in on what was happening, she decided to help."

"Is Jeremy alright?"

"Yeah, he's waiting out in the dining room. Like I said, Klaus won't let anyone leave."

Stefan sighed, "I guess we're really stuck with them now."

"With Klaus? Yeah, I guess so."

"The stake has been reduced to ashes, and we know for sure that Klaus is the origin of our bloodline, so killing him would the end of…all…of us."

"Except for me," Elena tried to smile to lighten the mood, "Since I died with some random vampire's blood in my system."

Stefan looked surprised, "Damon didn't tell you?"

"Tell me what?"

"I thought you knew," he frowned, "Meredith didn't tell you either?"

Elena straightened, "Stefan. What are you talking about?"

"It was…" he hesitated, "The only vampire blood Meredith had in stock at the time was Damon's blood."

"Oh," Elena said faintly, "I didn't know."


II.


Damon was waiting for her when she exited the room, and she came to a halt when she saw him. "I thought we were all meeting in the dining room?"

"We are," he held an arm out to her, "I thought we could walk over together."

"Okay," she acquiesced, linking her arm together with his. She glanced at him from the corner of her eye as they walked down the hallway, noticing that he had fully buttoned his shirt. "Did your wounds already finish healing? Stefan still looks pretty beat up...For some reason, Rebekah only focused on slicing up his face."

"That would be because she was in love with him," Klaus suddenly appeared in front of them, clearly having overheard their conversation. "Damaging someone's face is more of a personal attack. It means she was deeply angry with him for how he had treated her, but she couldn't bring herself to truly hurt him. The high dosage of vervain that's preventing him from healing shows that she wanted him to feel powerless and weak, the way that being in love with him made her feel."

Elena gaped at him, "How do you know that?"

"Because I know how my little sister thinks," Klaus held the door to his left open, and gestured for them to follow him. "The dining room is this way. Everyone else is already seated. Where's Stefan?"

"Still back there," Elena answered uncertainly, "He said he would catch up. I was actually coming to ask you if you had any blood I could take to him?"

"My caterers will take care of it," Klaus said dismissively, snapping his fingers at someone walking past. "You. Take several packages of blood to Mr. Salvatore. He's in the room at the end of the hall. Make sure he drinks all of it, and then escort him to the dining room. Understood?"

Damon frowned, "Are you sending him human blood?"

"Don't worry, it's not enough to trigger a relapse," Klaus smiled, though his expression remained oddly sinister. "Come along."

Elena's eyes widened when she saw the large dining table in the middle of the room. Elijah was sitting at the head on one end, and she assumed that Klaus would take the head on the other end. On the left side, Caroline was seated in between Tyler (restored to his rightful body) and Bonnie. Jeremy was sitting on the other side of the table, next to three empty chairs.

Damon squeezed her hand lightly and then graciously pulled back the chair next to Jeremy so that she could sit next to her brother. "Thank you," Elena murmured, smiling at Damon as he took the seat to her left. "Jer, you okay?"

"Fine," he answered shortly, keeping his eyes trained on the plate in front of him. "What about you?" He looked up at her, his expression softening. "I'm sorry about those things I said to you last night. You're all I have left, Elena. Sometimes it just gets to be too much, you know?"

"I know," she said quietly, "And you don't have to apologize. Some of those things you said to me—they were true. Look, I don't want you to keep all that bottled up inside, Jeremy. I want you to feel like you can tell me anything, alright? I'm your sister, and I want to be able to be there for you."

"Such a beautiful family moment," Klaus drawled, ignoring Elena's glare as he took his seat. "You know, Jeremy, you and I have something in common now."

"Oh yeah?" Jeremy scowled, "What would that be?"

He took a sip from his wine glass and swirled it around thoughtfully before answering. "Thanks to your sister here, we each only have one remaining family member left."

"Niklaus," Elijah said warningly, speaking for the first time. "This is meant to be a civilized discussion, per your own terms."

"I'm merely pointing out the facts," Klaus replied with false politeness, "I'm sure Elena would agree."

Elena gritted her teeth, "You want to talk facts? Fine. I might've killed Kol and Rebekah today, but let's not forget everything that you've done—You've been either directly or indirectly responsible for the deaths of Isobel, John, Jenna, your own father, and god knows who else. Your mother killed Alaric, and your sister killed, oh yeah, ME! So don't you dare look my brother in the eye and talk about remaining family members."

Damon tossed back the rest of his wine, "Well, there goes the Peace talks."

Caroline leaned forward, her eyes flashing. "Yeah, Klaus, are you trying to make yourself out to be an innocent bystander in all this? You turned Tyler into a HYBRID, then took over his body which is, like, a total violation! And Rebekah didn't only try to kill Elena—when that car went over the bridge, she knew she was sentencing Matt to death, too. MATT, who was nothing but nice to her at that stupid Ball."

"Not to mention that you had the nerve to lay a hand on Caroline while you were pretending to be me," Tyler snapped, "Dude, that's seriously messed up!"

Elijah heaved a sigh, lifting his glass towards the waiter. "More wine, please. And keep it coming. Thank you."

"We didn't sleep together!" Klaus hissed at Tyler, "And clearly your little girlfriend doesn't know you as well as you think she does, if she couldn't tell the difference between me and you!"

Caroline's mouth dropped open, "How dare you—"

"Enough!" Bonnie bellowed, and everyone fell silent at her sudden outburst. "Alright," she said in a calmer voice, "The only thing we have established so far is that a lot of innocent and not-so-innocent people have died along the way of everyone's quest for revenge and power. But that doesn't mean that we can't all come to an understanding."

Jeremy lifted his head wearily, "Do you even think that's possible at this point? So much has happened...sometimes there's a line you cross, and there's no looking back."

Her eyes narrowed, "Of course it's possible. After all, we've all forgiven Damon, haven't we? I mean, this is the guy that fed on and abused Caroline for WEEKS, and has killed no fewer than Matt's sister, Tyler's uncle, and my own mother." Her gaze swung around, "Am I missing anyone important?"

"You forgot Lexi," Stefan announced, and everyone turned around to look at him as he entered the room and took a seat next to Damon. "Oh, and our dear nephew Zach, of course."

Damon raised an eyebrow, "Well, when you say it like that..."

"But I can't let you take all the credit for the deaths in this town," Stefan went on, accepting the glass of wine that was handed to him. "Seeing as how I lost the bet to Damon about who would be responsible for turning your mother into a vampire," he said to Bonnie, "But Damon decided to go ahead and do the deed, anyway."

Elena frowned, looking between Stefan and Damon in confusion, "What?"

"Oh," Stefan snapped his fingers, "And Andie! We can't forget about her."

Bonnie closed her eyes briefly, and took a deep breath to calm her temper. "My point is, despite the mounting death toll, we've all found a way to co-exist more or less peacefully."

"I agree," Elena said, to everyone's surprise. "I don't think we really have any choice in the matter, other than to co-exist."


III.


"Are you sure you don't want a ride back?" Jeremy asked, frowning down at Elena from the driver's side of the van. "I don't like the idea of you staying behind with...them."

Bonnie leaned towards her from the passenger seat, "Do you really trust them?"

"Yeah, I do," Elena tried to smile, "Just get Stefan and Damon home. I'll meet you guys there as soon as I can."

"Alright," Jeremy nodded, revving up the engine. "Be careful, sis."

As the car disappeared down the road, Elena became aware of footsteps approaching. She turned around to see Caroline walking towards her, "Hey, I didn't know you were still here. Where's Tyler?"

"I sent him back home—well, to our hideout," she amended, sighing. "I can't believe I had to give him directions...and that this entire time, I was living with Klaus." She shuddered, crossing her arms. "God, Elena, am I a complete idiot for not noticing?"

"Come here," Elena reached out and pulled Caroline into her arms for a hug. "First of all, you did notice...remember, you kept telling me that Tyler was acting weird? There's no way you could've known that he wasn't himself, I mean who would guess something like that?" She shook her head, "Don't blame yourself. Klaus was just trying to get under your skin when he said those things. Even Tyler knows that it wasn't your fault."

"Yeah, I guess," she muttered, absentmindedly scuffing her boot into the dirt. "I just wish..."

"And now that Bonnie is back, maybe we can figure out some sort of memory spell or something for the Founder's Council?" Elena suggested, "And then we can make them forget everything Alaric told them about you and Tyler."

Caroline smiled in spite of herself, "Two years ago, could you ever see yourself saying that sentence out loud?" The corners of her mouth turned down, "I guess this is our life now, huh?"

"Yeah," Elena shielded her eyes, watching as Elijah and Klaus exited the house with a coffin for Kol. "Like Jeremy said, sometimes there's no going back."

Elijah paused when he saw her, confusion flitting across his expression. He said something to his brother, then called to her. "How about a ride home?"

"Go ahead," Caroline said to her, keeping her eyes on Klaus. "There's something I want to do, first. I'll talk to you later."

"Okay," Elena agreed, squeezing her friend's shoulder gently. "Call if you need anything." Then she blurred towards Elijah's car, smiling at him when he held the passenger door open for her.

Klaus didn't speak, choosing to remain silent as he began loading Kol's remains into the coffin. He looked up, however, when Caroline's shadow loomed over him. "Can I help with that?"

"I've got it, thanks," he responded under his breath, "Go home, Caroline."

"No," she said forcefully, standing her ground. "You don't get to pretend to be all self-righteous, not after what you did!"

He abruptly got to his feet, whirling around to glare at her. "Did I ever hurt you?" Klaus hissed, getting into her face. "I've done nothing but treat you with kindness and respect, Caroline!"

"Respect?" She repeated incredulously, placing her hands on her hips. "Letting me believe that you were Tyler, manipulating me like that—how could you do that to me? That's not how you treat someone you supposedly care about!"

"Well, seeing as how I'm leaving town, you don't have to worry about me impeding on your epic love affair with Tyler anymore," Klaus snapped, "I have nothing left tying me back to Mystic Falls anymore. Not even you."

Caroline crossed her arms, "Do you even know why I stayed behind to talk to you?"

Klaus finished clearing the ground of Kol's remains, and shut the coffin with a loud thud. "Do enlighten me, love. I don't have all day."

"I wanted to give you a chance to explain yourself," she said crisply, causing him to stop in his tracks. "You saved my life twice, and that's not the sort of thing a girl forgets."

He turned around to look at her, "Maybe I wanted to see what it was like to face you everyday and not see the contempt in your eyes. To touch you and not have you flinch away in disdain. Maybe I wanted to see what it felt like to have your love in return. Ever think of that?"

She shook her head, "It wasn't real. This past week? None of it was real...You understand that, right?"

"I know," Klaus agreed, putting the coffin down and walking towards her. When she didn't move away, he hesitantly reached out and touched her shoulder. She kept her face expressionless, knowing that he was watching her carefully. He came closer, until they were inches apart. "Do you think it could ever be real?"

"I love Tyler," Caroline said quietly, but she still didn't pull away. Instead, she closed her eyes as she felt Klaus' lips brush her forehead. "I should go," she whispered, "I just wanted to say goodbye."

He nodded, letting his hand drop from her shoulder. "I'm sorry," he told her, "For what it's worth, I'm sorry for what I did to you." Klaus stepped back and looked at her seriously, "There's something to be said for living for an eternity, Caroline. If you ever want someone to show you the world, come and find me."

She hesitated, but gave him a small smile, "I'll be sure to keep that in mind." Then she quickly leaned forward and kissed him on the cheek, "Goodbye, Klaus."

He stared after her as she blurred away into the distance, "Goodbye, Caroline."


IV.


"Where will you go?" Elena asked as Elijah pulled into the driveway of the Salvatore house. "Do you know yet?"

"I want to bury my sister and brother back in our homeland," Elijah answered, keeping one hand on the steering wheel as he peered up at the house in front of them. "But after that, there's no set plan in motion."

Elena nodded, keeping quiet as she tried to figure out what to say. "I'm sorry," she said finally, "For everything."

"Don't apologize," Elijah turned to look at her, "I know you had your reasons for what you did."

She bit her lip, "So you don't hate me?"

"No more than I despise myself for my own actions," Elijah reached between them and produced a broken vial. "I shouldn't have let my emotions get the better of me. If I didn't, then the elixir would still be intact and you might've had a chance at becoming human again."

"It's not your fault," Elena smiled as she took the vial out of his hand and put it back down. "I'm glad you forced me to make a decision about my vampirism. I mean, someone had to."

"But this isn't what you wanted."

"True," she acknowledged, "I never wanted to become a vampire, and sometimes when I think about everything that's happened, it still hurts to know what I've lost."

"Elena..."

"But I've also gained something else."

Elijah looked at her curiously, "Which is?"

"Something that Caroline said to me earlier," Elena said thoughtfully, turning back around to look at the Salvatore house. "An eternity to spend with the one I love."

"Ah, the proverbial silver lining." He tilted his head towards the front door, "Come on, I'll walk you out." As they slowly walked up to the porch together, he finally turned to face her. "I guess this is goodbye, Elena."

"I guess so," she agreed, holding her hand out. "Thank you, Elijah. For everything."

He shook her hand, acknowledging her sentiments with a smile. "I daresay our paths will cross again sometime in the future. Until then, good luck with everything." She nodded, and Elijah backed away. "If you ever need anything," he called over his shoulder before getting into the car, "Don't hesitate to ask."


V.


"Um, what's going on?"

Stefan looked up from his duffel bag as Elena entered the house, and he gave her a tight smile. "Hey, I was waiting for you to get home."

She frowned, "Are you...going somewhere?"

"Yeah, he is," a familiar voice said, and Elena looked up in surprise to see Katherine standing by the fireplace with Damon. "You really made a mess of the place, by the way," Katherine went on, "Quite rude, if you ask me."

Stefan shot a glare in Katherine's direction before turning back to look at Elena. "Can I talk to you for a minute?"

"Sure," she said suspiciously, following him into the kitchen. As soon as the door swung shut behind them, she turned on him. "What the hell is she doing here? And where are you packing off to?"

"Katherine told me you called her," Stefan started, "Pretty good idea, by the way. I'm glad she was able to help you find the stake."

"You're avoiding the question."

He took a deep breath, "Damon and I had a deal. If and when you made a decision between us, then the other person would leave town."

Elena stared at him blankly, "I don't understand. Why are you leaving? What does Katherine have to do with any of this?"

"She came to make sure that you managed to save the day," Stefan tried to smile at her, "I told her you always do."

"Stefan, no one is making you LEAVE."

"Elena, listen to me," he grasped both of her hands within his, "That night on the bridge? You chose to come back to Mystic Falls out of obligation—"

"That's not true," Elena snapped, wrenching herself out of his grip. "How the hell can you say that? I've never stopped loving you, not even after the hell you put me through this past year."

Stefan sighed, "I know. And I'm sorry." He smiled at her sadly, "Even you have to admit, you and I are like broken glass, Elena. Every time one of us tries to put the pieces back together, we just end up getting hurt." He stepped forward to embrace her, and she closed her eyes as she rested her head on his shoulder. "I never stopped loving you either," he whispered, "But the time for us has been and gone, Elena."

She pulled back, tears streaming down her cheeks. "I never meant for any of this to happen, Stefan. I didn't mean to fall in love with Damon, I didn't mean to come in between you two, I didn't mean to ruin everything."

"Shh," Stefan wiped away her tears with his thumb, "I know. It's okay, I know." He rested both hands on her shoulders, and waited till she met his gaze before he began speaking. "You're going to be fine, Elena. Toeing the fine line between control and bloodlust has always been Damon's forte, and I know he'll teach you everything he knows. He loves you, and he cares about you. I know he'll never let anything happen to you."

"Will I..." she swallowed, "Will I ever see you again?"

He pulled her forward, resting his forehead against hers. "Six months till graduation, Elena. You better be sure as hell that I'll be back to see you walk across that stage for the first time."

The door opened at that moment, and Katherine walked in, "Ready to go?"

"Yeah," Stefan squeezed Elena's hand one last time, "I'll just go say bye to Damon, then we can leave."

Katherine nodded, holding the door open for him. "So," she said to Elena once they were alone, "I was right."

"About what?"

"About the stake...about your feelings for Damon...about a lot of things, really."

Elena rolled her eyes.

"It's always been Damon for you, hasn't it?" Katherine asked suddenly, "You always knew."

"What are you talking about?"

Katherine studied her expression shrewdly, "You didn't ask Stefan to stay."

Elena frowned, "Yes, I did. I told him he didn't have to leave—"

"But you didn't ASK him to stay," Katherine pressed, moving towards Elena. "Tell me something- what if it had been Damon who chose to leave today? Would you have asked him to stay?"

Elena could only stare at her wordlessly.

"Yeah," Katherine backed off with a smug look, "That's what I thought."

"Kat, you ready to go?" Stefan called from the living room, "I'll be out by the car."

"Coming," she called back, before turning around to face Elena. "Well, I'm off," she said, smiling mysteriously. "I hope you figure everything out Elena, and that you find everything you're looking for."

'...want you to get everything you're looking for.'

Elena's eyes widened.

'...but right now I want you to forget that this happened.'

"Elena?"

She blinked, startled to see Katherine standing in front of her instead of Damon. "Yeah, um..." She shook her head, disoriented. "Take care of Stefan, alright?"

"I will," Katherine responded slowly, "See you around, Elena."


VI.


"They're gone," Damon told her when she finally emerged from the kitchen ten minutes later, "What have you been up to in there? Hiding out?"

"No," Elena tried to smile at him, "Just thinking."

He picked up on her mood instantly, "What's wrong? Upset about Stefan leaving? Don't worry, he said he would be back soon."

"I know, that's not..." She sighed, moving across the room so that she could sit next to him on the couch. "Why didn't you ever tell me? After all this time?"

"Tell you what?"

Elena met his gaze, "That we met first."

Damon immediately looked away, his shoulders tensing. "I see the last of your memories came back."

"It was only a matter of time."

"True."

She tilted her head at him, "Why do you Compel people not to remember when you do something selfless? Why do you try to hide the real you?"

"Elena..."

"I hated you, you know," she interrupted, "When you showed up in Mystic Falls...the way you seemed to treat everyone like chess pieces that you could just push around for your own personal gain."

"I know."

She ran her fingers through her hair, "And now I come to learn that the first time we met—the REAL first time—you just...you wanted me to be happy. To fall in love. To live my life the way I wanted to. A complete stranger wanted those things for me. Why?"

Damon sighed, shrugging his shoulders. "I don't know, Elena. There was just something about you that night...your innocence, your purity. Just the complete opposite of Katherine, the complete opposite of what I was looking for. I don't know. It just...spoke to me."

Elena let a soft smile cross her lips as she reached out to cover his hand with hers, their fingers interlacing. "A love that consumes me," she whispered, and their gazes instantly locked. "Passion...adventure...danger," she murmured each word in between kisses, and felt Damon smile against her lips in response.

"Did you find everything you were looking for?"

"Yeah," she closed her eyes in pleasure as his lips grazed down her neck, "I think I did." She brought his mouth back up to meet hers, and squealed when he suddenly swept her up in his arms and blurred them up the stairs into his room. She smiled up at him as he lowered her gently onto the bed, and she curved two of her fingers around his wrist to pull him down towards her. "There's something else you didn't tell me," she said to him as he held himself above her, "Something important."

His brow furrowed slightly, "What?"

She placed a hand on her chest, directly over her unbeating heart. "Your blood," she looked up at him, "Meredith used your blood to save my life. I just...I wanted to thank you for that."

He shook his head, leaning down place a light kiss on her lips. "I'll always save you," he whispered, "I love you, Elena."

"You're in my veins, in my bloodstream," Elena said softly, "You'll always be a part of me, Damon. I love you, too."


When Daylight's fading
We're gonna play in the dark
'Til it's golden again
And now it feels so amazing
Can see you coming
And We'll never grow old again
-Chasing the Sun


fin.


*thank you to everyone who read and reviewed this fic! As of right now, I don't plan on watching the next season of TVD so this is probably my last canon fic...but I will definitely do more AU/AH fics in the future :)

Currently, I've just started a Castle fic (seriously, I can't believe I haven't been watching this show in the past four years!) so if you're into the Caskett fandom, be sure to check it out ;) xoxo