Well HI! *awkwardly looks around*

I give my deepest apologies to the handful of people who have read my other O/S and have asked about a new update... It's just that life suddenly got so BUSY, with college, exams and all that... I just didn't have the time to properly focus on my writing.

To make up for the embarrassing amount of time I've spent off I have written a super-long update, which I REALLY hope you will enjoy.

Here we go! :)

Disclaimer: I don't own The Vampire Diaries , even though the thought of it haunts me at night :p Some lines are actually taken from the show. You'll know which ones, 'cause they're flawless and I'm not NEARLY that talented. ^^'


ooo

Elena lay in her bed, wide awake despite the several attempts in falling back into Morpheus' arms. She'd had a restless night, constantly tossing and turning, thinking about everything that had happened during and after the Mikaelson's ball.

Finally giving up on sleep, the girl scooted over to the edge of the bed, grabbed the covers to throw them off of her and sat up, her legs dangling on the side of the mattress. Elena stared at the wall in front of her for a couple of seconds, thinking.

Ok. Regroup.

First thing first, she needed to talk to both Salvatores. She had to make sure that Stefan was all right and…and…Damon. Damon was her biggest worry. The brunette had incessantly called the vampire for at least two hours, before giving up and going to… Elena shook her head.

Ok. Focus, Gilbert. Stefan first, then full attention to Damon.

Elena picked up her phone from the nightstand and dialed Stefan's number. Still on the bed, she circled her knees with her free arm, listening to the ringing on the other side of the line. As said ringing went on being unanswered, Elena nervously got up from her bed and quickly walked to the window, leaning on the wall beside it. Suddenly the phone fell silent and after a moment, she heard a beep.

«Stefan, hey. It's me. I'd really like to talk to you. Please call me back.»

Ok. Her first feeble attempt in doing the right thing had just slapped her right in the face. Great. Elena felt sadness stir up in her guts, but she vehemently pushed it back.

Damon.

Elena once again dialed a number on the device's screen, wishing for an answer. After a couple of rings, a groggy and annoyed voice filled her ears.

« What?» Ok, he probably wasn't in the best of moods, but she had expected as much. At least he hadn't ignored her or sent her to voice-mail.

« Hey…I…I called you ten times last night. We need to talk.» Elena's tone was tentative. She didn't really know if she should go with "comprehensive and sweet" or "snappy and dismissive", since he kinda deserved both.

« Sorry, I've been busy» Damon's voice was sarcastic and Elena rolled her eyes.

« If you're mad at me Damon, you need to get over it.» Ok. Snappy it was.

« Oh, I'm over it.» *click*

He had hung up on her. He had actually hung up on her.

Elena dumbfoundedly looked at the phone with her mouth slightly open. In a moment of discouragement, she let the arm holding the device ungracefully and blatantly fall against her side, going back to looking through the window. Damon was angry and definitely not over their fight. If that's what that was.

Elena felt her throat close up at the thought of Damon drifting away from her...NO.

Wait.

What the hell.

She had called him to talk, right? Apparently, he wasn't willing to chew the rag over the phone, giving her no choice but go straight to the source. It takes two to play a game. He wanted to be a child? Fine! She could do that too. And she was a girl, so she was allowed to scratch and pull hair.

With new-found determination coursing in her veins, Elena moved towards her closet, opened the white door, grabbed a couple of hangers and threw them on the bed. Bare-foot, Elena quickly walked to the bathroom,and pulled her hair up in a bun looking at herself in the mirror.

She so wouldn't let this go. Damon had to talk to her. Ok, she couldn't really…. make him, but she could try her hardest. And yes, being annoying was one of her main talents. Elena gave to her reflection a faint smile. Oh, she could be so annoying.

With that thought in mind, the girl stripped and entered the shower, swiftly lathering herself up and rinsing. Actually, she could also talk to Stefan. Two birds, one stone. Yeah, a trip to the boarding house sounded brilliant.

Stepping out of the hot, steamy spray, Elena draped herself with a fluffy purple towel, went back to her room, put on the clothes she had previously chosen and removed the band from her hair, letting her silky locks fall over her shoulders.

The brunette hurriedly exited the room she was in, headed to the kitchen, where she fetched her car keys. After putting on her coat and scarf, she finally left her house behind.

ooo

« So, let's not make a big deal out of this.» Rebekah said matter-of-factly, peeking at Damon through her long lashes. He wasn't even looking at her, but knew from her tone that she didn't really mean it. He repressed an eyeroll. Women.

« My thoughts exactly» Damon's lips twitched downwards. Maybe if he played dismissive, she'd get the hint. The blonde slowed her pace, never taking her eyes off of him.

« Besides, I'd expect you'll come calling soon enough.» Damon saw a knowing smirk on the Original's face. Taking advantage of the fact that she was behind him and couldn't really see his face, the dark vampire gave in and dramatically rolled his eyes, also letting a sarcastic chortle out of his mouth. Ok, maybe she hadn't got a damn thing. For the love of God, she really could be naive, considering her age.

Oh well.

Turning towards her, Damon opened the door and gave her a dry smile.

« Let's not hold our breaths.»

As he opened the door, Elena magically appeared on his doorstep, moving her gaze from him to Rebekah. Then back to him.

Fuck. She looked hurt. She was standing there, gaping at them, and she looked hurt. The vampire felt his heart clench at the thought. Damon glanced to his right, playing indifferent, and exchanged a look with Rebekah. Barbie Klaus had a smug smile plastered on her face and he felt like punching her. Shit. Maybe it was him who needed a nice punch. Rebekah had been hoping for Elena to catch them. Bitch. He should have known better. Damon sighed and nervously looked at his feet. What was done was done. No point in thinking about the "what ifs".

The Original started to walk away from the Boarding House, knowingly swaying her hips in her forest green cocktail dress. Damon looked at Elena and raised an eyebrow.

Wow.

Elena was shooting daggers at Barbie Klaus.

Interesting.

No.

Focus.

« I'm mad at you because I love you! »

« Well, maybe that's a problem! »

Images of the previous night started flashing into Damon's mind and he felt anger building up in his chest.

What the hell was Elena doing on his doorstep in the first place? And for Christ's sake, had she even had the nerve of looking hurt? After what she had said to him? Not 10 hours before that moment she was claiming he was a liability because he cared too much. Well fuck, this was him not caring.

Damon looked at Elena intently, narrowing his eyes and passing his tongue over his perfect teeth, in clear annoyance.

Elena couldn't tear her eyes from Rebekah's back. My God, she had never felt like this. What the hell was going on? There was something stirring in her stomach, her breath was hitched, her face felt like it was on fire and her fingers were tingling. She couldn't really pinpoint what she was feeling, or give a name to all the emotions she was experiencing, but what she did know was that she wanted to rip the stupid smug from that tramp's face. And than she wanted to slap Damon. Hard.

Seriously? They had a fight and his solution was to sleep around? With Rebekah nonetheless?
The brunette was silently staring at Damon, but in her mind, she was screaming.

Elena was fuming. Damon smirked and without saying a word, he turned his back to her leaving the door open and walking back into the house.

It felt good.

So good.

She was... angry?

Hurt?

Good. She deserved to taste a little bit of her own medicine. The vampire heard the door slam and then a series of heavy, quick steps.

"Oh, stomp away Elena. You can stomp all the way down to the basement, for all I care."

He wouldn't give her the satisfaction of feeling sorry about being himself. Not this time. Not even acknowledging her, Damon went upstairs to grab a shirt. He didn't mind being shirtless in front of her, especially since when that happened, Elena's heartbeat embarrassingly sped up, but in this particular occasion, something told him that it was better not to distract her with his good looks.

Once in his big bedroom, he took a black shirt from the closet and shrugged it on, buttoning it up on his way down to the living room. Half-way there Damon stopped, smirking.

Elena was muttering something incomprehensible to herself, and that was high praise coming from someone who had supernatural hearing. And thanks to that supernatural hearing he was positive she was nervously pacing back and forth and that her breathing was so uneven that it sounded more like a snort.

That'd be fun to watch.

Not one moment after Damon had been in her eye-sight, Elena was already barking at him.

« Did you stop taking the vervain?» The girl slightly raised her hands. What else could it be? Right? He couldn't have been willing. Right?

Damon just looked at her, frowning.

« You think Rebekah had to compel me?» He couldn't help but sound unbelieving. And given the situation, the vampire didn't even try to hide the snigger that followed his remark. She could suck it up since she was obviously playing dumb. As cherry-on-top to his dismissive behavior, he just focused on his half-buttoned shirt.

« What's wrong with you? She's tried to kill me less than… 48 hours ago!» And now he was smirking! Ugh, what wouldn't she give for someone to wipe that smirk off his lips!

« Can't we just move past that, Elena?» Damon made a brush-off gesture, stressing the matter, and gracefully walked down the two steps that lead to the Salvatore's spacious living room, directed to the liquor trail. He couldn't see her face, but he knew she was either shaking her head, rolling her eyes or exasperatingly raising her arms. Possibly all of the above.

«So is that how it's gonna be now? I hurt your feelings, and this is how you lash out at me?» Elena knew her voice was shaky, but at the moment she couldn't really help it. She was so….so… angry, and… and… disappointed? Well, he was sleeping with Klaus' sister, of course she was disappointed in him! Yes, she had hurt him, and for that, she was sorry. But she didn't deserve to have him hurt her like this.

Wait.

Hurt?

Oh, she wouldn't make this his fault again. Oh, no. He wouldn't let her. He was done being her lapdog.

«Well, maybe, for once, something I did had nothing to do with you.» Damon poured himself a glass of bourbon and smirked at her again. Elena tilted her head, looking just like a confused puppy. Yes, she was hurt. At that, he raised his glass at her, silently cheering.

Elena was at a loss. She didn't know what to think, or what to say. She didn't trust herself not to burst out crying. The only thing that popped in her head was to fill him in on Esther's plan, since he probably didn't have a clue anyway.

« You should know... that Esther's planning on killing her entire family. She's linked them all together with a spell. Whatever happens to one, happens to all of them.»

« That's great. Klaus'll finally be dead. We win. » Damon sipped from his glass. And Elena found herself at a loss. Again. Who was this man? « Why do you look like someone just shot a panda bear?» The vampire puckered his lips, mocking her.

« Because to kill Klaus, she has to kill all of them, including Elijah, and he doesn't deserve this.» Damon was just being purposely hostile now. He couldn't be this clueless. Could he? As if he had heard her thoughts, the dark-haired vampire raised and eyebrow.

« I'm supposed to care about Elijah?» " Yes, you are! " Elena really felt like bawling. This Damon upset her in a way she didn't think was possible. This wasn't the Damon she had come to care so much about.

« Shouldn't you at least care about Rebekah?» Damon gave Elena the googly eyes and swaggered towards her.

«Two seconds ago, you were pissed that she attacked you.»The brunette rolled her eyes. The vampire noticed but decided to ignore it. «It's a win-win.»

Elena shook her head and started to turn her back at him. She just couldn't stand it. The unfairness of the situation and him. She had to go home and find a way to get her mind away from everything.

She couldn't even finish one step that the dark-haired vampire, moving with supernatural speed, stopped in front of her, effectively blocking her from going anywhere. Damon had a stern look on his face, the amusement and the cockiness all but gone from his features. He scoldingly pointed his index at her. « Don't do anything to screw this up, Elena»

«Why are you doing this?» The girl sounded pleading. Desperate. She was painfully aware of that, but too overwhelmed to actually care.

« He's right, you know. Klaus has to die. They all do.» Damon turned to look at his younger sibling, lightly smiling. Elena gaped.

« See? It's democracy in action.» Damon was feeling good. Saint Stefan was backing him up and there was no way that Elena would be happy about that. He'd bet a leg she was counting on Stef backing her up, not only with being against Esther's plan, but with his rendez-vouz with Rebekah as well. In response, Elena pouted and strolled away, deliberately bumping her left shoulder on Damon as she walked, making him spill half of his drink on the rug. He impotently watched the liquid spreading on the expensive, fluffy, classy material.

Shit.

Damon felt like growling. One thing Elena and Stefan had in common? They loved ruining his Persian carpets.

ooo

Elena sat by the coffin that had once sheltered Esther's body, tightly holding the torch in her shaking hands, and thinking about a loophole, any loophole that could help her in the situation she was currently stuck in.

She reeked of gasoline, she was cold, scared, and the only visible, and as far as she knew existing, exit from the small cave she was in, was guarded by a barking blonde vampire. How could she get out of there? How?

« You can come out now.» Elena was startled by the sudden sound of Rebekah's voice, echoing in the small environment, and quickly got on her feet. « It seems your boys took care of the problem.»

What? "Her boys?" What had Stefan and Damon done? What price had they paid to get her to have her freedom and safety back, this time?

« And how did they do that?» Rebekah stood behind the invisible barrier that prevented her from entering into the chamber, looking at Elena with disdain. She answered the girl's question out of hatred, knowing the words she was about to say would hurt her.

« Damon turned your witch friend's mother into a vampire.» Elena opened her eyes wide and took a couple of steps towards the original vampire. The sudden pain she felt in her chest made her choke up on air. Elena tried to talk, only to hear strangled noises coming out of her lips. She concentrated on the word she was trying to say.

« What?» Rebekah quickly elaborated on that.

« Quite clever actually. They needed to sever the witch line and well… You can't be a witch and a vampire» She smiled coldly. Elena's pained features made Rebeka's skin tingle with pleasure and she went on speaking, craving for more. « In any case… you're free to go.» The girl started to walk away but stopped mid-step, turning on her heels to face Elena once again. « Oh, and…By the way, you were right. I do prefer taking my time watching you suffer. Much more satisfying.» With a smirk plastered on her face, she gracefully marched out of Elena's way, swaying her hips, designer's shoes clacking on the pavement.

Elena remained still, her arms hanging on her sides, feeling confused. She felt her lips wrinkle, sign of the effort she was putting into fighting back the tears that were welling up in her eyes. Bonnie's newfound mother was dead.

Damon had killed her.

Abby was going to be a vampire.

Elena brought her left hand to her mouth and suffocated a sob. Feeling that little strength she had left abandoning her limbs, she just let herself go, kneeling on the hard floor and crying her eyes out for everything. She had failed everyone. She had failed Elijah by lying to him, she had betrayed Rebekah by literally stabbing her in the back, and now Damon was acting like his post-Katherine self. All because of her. Tears stained her cheeks even if she repeatedly wiped them away with her sleeve and sobs made her chest jump against her will. Elena looked up, only to see a dark, empty rock-made ceiling.

That was enough crying. As she had said to Rebekah, she wasn't tough, but nobody could ever point a finger at her for the lack of trying.

Elena inhaled deeply, trying to regain some composure and tiredly lifted herself up. Her breath still slightly ragged from her crying, she walked away from the coffin, directed towards the dim light coming from one of the underground tunnels. After some minutes spent wandering through the passages, she found herself out in the open, not far from where Elijah had abducted her that morning.

Ok, she was alone in the woods and since she had driven there with Elijah himself, she was car-less. Elena reached her pocket with a hand and fumbled in it, trying to get a hold of her phone. She took the device in her hands and automatically tapped a number on the phone keys.

Oh.

Elena stared at the small screen, dumbfounded. She couldn't call Damon. She couldn't, she shouldn't and she wouldn't.

The brunette vehemently erased the number and huffed, raising her gaze and looking around, not sure of what she was searching for. She could call Car…Wait. Was that a car?

A black SUV was parked about sixty feet from where she was standing. She narrowed her eyes, adjusting to the mist and quickly reached the vehicle, which as she had suspected, was empty and closed. While standing beside the car, something small and white caught her eye. An envelope was tucked under one of the windshield cleaners. She reached out with shaking hands and grabbed the piece of paper, finding it a little bit heavier that she had expected. Still unsure, Elena opened it and saw a set of car keys, along with a note written in an elegant, old-fashioned handwriting.

"Elena"

She flipped the card but as fas as she could see, her name was all that was written on it. Elena was willing to bet a million dollars that this was Elijah's doing. He almost had her killed, but since Damon and Stefan had held onto their end of the deal, he was making sure that she'd get home safely. The doppelganger nervously combed her hair with her left hand, and pushed the button on the key with her right one. The SUV squeaked and the blinkers flashed a couple of times, indicating that the car was open. Sighing with relief Elena opened the door and climbed inside, started the engine and drove away.

ooo

Elena stopped the car in front of Caroline's house and hurriedly got off of it, almost running to the porch. She knew Bonnie well enough to know that she wouldn't bring her dead mother in that same house where her grams had died: that thought alone was depressing enough. No need to add fuel to the fire, inside those four walls.
Elena was about to knock, but then saw Caroline coming over to the door and just waited for her to get there. The blonde vampire sweetly smiled at her though the glass and opened the doorway. « Hey, Elena.»

« Hey. May I come in?» Elena asked out of habit, waiting for the Caroline to step aside and let her in. The vampire nervously bit her lip.« I don't think so.» Elena was taken aback, and just looked at her friend, blinking.

« I'm sorry, what?» Caroline leaned onto the wall, awkwardness clear on her features.

« I'm sorry Elena. I…Bonnie asked me not to let you in.» Elena was speechless. Why would Bonnie as...And that was when it hit her. Painfully, like a slap on the cheek.

Bonnie blamed her for Abby's death.
That she hadn't taken into account.

« She doesn't wanna see you.» Caroline whispered sadly.

« Please, just let me talk to her.» Elena's voice was pleading. She couldn't believe that Bonnie would really shut her out like that.

The thought of not being able to stand beside her friend during this time of need, made her throat close up in sorrow.

« Abby's in transition. It's gonna be very hard over the next few days and if Bonnie needs some time to deal…then I think you should give it to her.» The blonde vampire spoke slowly and softly, trying to be firm but soothing at the same time.

Caroline loved the witch and the doppelganger profoundly, and even if she couldn't find it in her to completely understand Bonnie's reasons, she also saw that given the situation, her witchy friend was allowed a couple of bitchy cards. Despite herself, she had to take sides and dismiss Elena as gently as possible.

« She's always been there for me, Caroline. Please, let me just be there for her too.» Caroline started to shake her head while Elena was speaking. Her heart was breaking at the sight of another crushed friend, but she had to stay strong. God please, she had to stay strong. Don't cry. Don't you dare.

Stupid heightened emotions.

« I'm sorry, Elena. I know that you wanna help, but put yourself in her shoes. Everything that happened tonight, was to save you…And that's okay, because she loves you...so much. But somehow she's always the one who gets hurt. » Elena nodded, tears prickling behind her eyelids.

« Yeah. No, you're right. I should just… » Elena choked on her own words, managing to get a single sentence out. «Just tell her that I love her, okay?» The doppelganger's voice then cracked and the brunette allowed herself to cry, not being able to hold back her sadness anymore.

« Of course I will.» Caroline smiled encouragingly and watched her sobbing friend as she walked to the car. With a sigh Caroline closed the door and turned, only to find a crying Bonnie staring at her. The vampire cocked her head to one side and parted her lips, exhaling.
« Oh, Bonnie. » The blonde swallowed the tears hiding behind her eyelids. Yes, she was an emotional wreck and was going to sink like the freaking Titanic. But not today. Today she was going to hug her friend and suck it up. Holding onto that thought, Caroline smiled and walked up to Bonnie, so that she could nestle between her supernatural arms.

ooo

Elena drove aimlessly through the city for quite some time. Tears wouldn't stop pouring from her eyes and sobs kept coming out of her mouth. Even if rationally she knew it was dangerous to drive in such a distraught state, she just couldn't seem to find the will to go home. What was the point? She'd just lay on the bed and feel useless. Huffing, Elena glanced around and recognized the city square. Stopping the car, she weighted her options: she could go to the grill and maybe grab a bite. At the thought of food, her stomach loudly agreed with her and she felt more and more convinced of the idea since, after all, she hadn't been able to eat much all day, having been held captive and all that.

Elena got out of the car and walking without haste, she reached the entrance of the bar, pushed the doors open, and saw that luckily, it was a slow night and the vast room was quiet, exception being made for the background music. The girl sat at a random table, allowing the tension to ease away from her limbs and waited for someone to come and take her order.

« Hey stranger!» Matt walked up to her and squeezed her shoulder. Elena furrowed her eyebrows, genuinely surprised.

«Oh, hey Matt. I didn't know you were working tonight.» Matt smiled ironically.

«I work here every damn night, Elena. I might as well set up a camp in the storage room.» Of course he was. Stupid Elena. Ugh. Great. Stupid tired brain. The girl let out a heavy breath and apologetically waved her hand.

«I know. I know, sorry.» Matt titled his head, puckered his lips in confusion and sat next to her.

« Is everything okay?» Matt's familiar blue eyes worryingly stared at the doppelganger who in response, felt her insides melt to the boy's warmth and affection.

« Yeah. No. I mean…» Elena chuckled. It was so Matt-like to understand her that well. Eighteen years of friendship and nearly half as much of dating would do that to you.« Everything is not okay. A lot of things are not okay, but many of them aren't really my place to tell.» Matt nodded and they stared at each other in mutual understanding. The silence didn't last long though.

«Okay… What is your place to tell, then?» Abby? No. Esher's plan? No. None of those things were really her place to tell and moreover, she wouldn't even dream of getting Matt tangled up in all that. Not anymore than he already was, anyway. Of course, her stakhanovite mind had plenty of discussing topics to choose from.

« Stefan. And Damon. » Elena said wryly

« Shocker. » Elena glared at him and Matt raised his hands, changing his tone «What about them?» Elena massaged her forehead, collecting her thoughts.

« Stefan… We had a moment, after the ball. I thought I was reaching out, you know? That maybe... But he's been dodging my calls ever since and he just seems… I think he's going to close himself shut all over again.» Elena groaned and looked at the ceiling « I don't know how to help him. He won't let me.»

Matt took Elena's words in and pondered, carefully considering the right thing to say and trying not to let his mistrust towards vampires impair his capability of being a good friend.

« Well… Maybe he doesn't want to be helped. Maybe he needs to reach his balance on his own. I mean… I don't wanna sound harsh, but…If he relies on you that much, what is he gonna do when he inevitably outlives you?" Elena weighted his words.

« Maybe. I don't know. I just don't get him anymore. I used to be good at that, but now I don't have a clue.» Elena was playing nervously with the hem of her shirt. « I'm okay with the truth, even if it's a rough one… But he keeps on getting farther and farther away, without giving me an actual reason other then "It's better this way". I just can't let him go like this. He means too much to me.»

« I think that you have to come to terms with the fact that he'll accept your help when and if he's ready.» Matt reached out to Elena and and took her hand in his. « What about the other Salvatore?» Elena scoffed.

« He's just being a jerk, that's all. I was kinda hard on him the other night, and now he's lashing out at me by sleeping with the enemy.» Matt raised an eyebrow.« Yeah, I know right? What's gotten into him? I mean, sleeping with Rebekah? Of all the people, her?» Elena's voice pitched and her breath was getting ragged. « And he was practically gloating! You should have seen him, this morning!» Matt cleared his throat.

« Wow. You're jealous.» Elena blinked. No, she wasn't. She was angry. If she allowed herself to just think about that stupid morning and the stupid conspiratorial look that Damon and Rebekah had shared on the doorstep of the boarding house all she felt was blind rage. Ugh. How could he? Elena clenched her fists, releasing it only when her fingernails digging in her palm distracted her from her inner turmoil. Whoa. Ok. Maybe she was a little jealous. No. No, she wasn't. Why would she be? Right? Right? Right.

« No, I'm not. I'm just angry. He should have known better. First he beats Kol up, just like that, and then…» Matt held up his left hand, stopping Elena mid-sentence.

« Wait, what?» Elena shrugged, missing Matt's point.

« What "what"?» Matt scratched his forehead

« Far be it from me to actually defend Damon, but… he actually saved me, last night.» Saved? What? How? When?

« He what?» Matt heaved a soft sigh and rested his elbows on the table.

« Kol wanted to kill me. I don't know why, exactly. Maybe I was just an easy prey and he was bored. Maybe he didn't like my tux. It was rented, you know. The shame.» Matt smirked «Truth is, if Damon hadn't gotten in the way, I'd be dead by now.» Oh god. She had assumed…She always assumed, whenever Damon was involved. If snapping Kol's neck hadn't been a very stupid and very impulsive reaction to her words, maybe there was an explanation about Rebekah too.

« I have to go.» Matt raised an eyebrow in response to Elena suddenly getting up and hurriedly picking her things up.

« Don't you wanna eat?»

« Yeah, I'll…I have to talk to Damon." Matt smiled knowingly

« You are so whipped.» Elena grabbed a napkin and threw it in Matt's face.

« Stop that. It's not what this is about.» The blonde waiter carefully folded the napkin and put it back on the table.

« Maybe it is and you just don't wanna admit it. You sure as hell sounded bothered by him sleeping with Rebekah. And not in a "the bitch has tried to kill me" kinda way. » Elena shook her head, deeply inhaling.

« Maybe. But I can't deal with this too, right now. One thing at a time.» Elena put a hand on her forehead « Thanks, Matt. I know this is hard for you. Thanks for listening.»

« Nah. I don't get it, but it's your life and I'm not telling you how to live it. I'm just trying to be a good friend.» Elena smiled, grateful.

« Well, for what it's worth, you're doing a great job.» Matt beamed for a second, and when he got up, Elena pulled him in a tight hug, which he happily returned.

« See you at school, Elena.» The girl nodded and strolled out of the diner.

ooo

Once out of the Mystic Grill, Elena took her phone and dialed a familiar number, waiting for an answer that never came. Great, now Damon was dodging her calls too! The girl loudly huffed in annoyance and looked around, trying to remember where she had parked her newly acquired car. Which, oddly, was nowhere to be seen. She could have sworn that she had parked it right beside that fire hydrant… Ok, brief pause. She was holding the key in her hands, and the car was super-alarmed and super-modern. She had been in the grill for 20 minutes tops and there was NO way that the car had been stolen.

The only answer was that Elijah, or more probably a certain blonde bitch, had retrieved her car. Sighing in defeat, she abandoned the car keys on a bench and grabbed her phone once again, dialing.

« Hey. I know you have your hands full, but is there anyway you could come at the grill and pick me up? My wheels have vanished.» Elena quickly said in the microphone.

« Uhm… I don't know Elena. Abby is going to…You know… soon.» Caroline's voice was low and uncertain.

« I know. I know. I'm sorry I called. Ok, never mind. » Plan B. The boarding house was a little bit far, but she didn't mind the walk. Elena had just wanted to get there fast.

« No, wait a sec.» Caroline had probably put a hand over the phone because all Elena could hear were muffled sounds. « Ok, I'll be there in five.» Had Bonnie said something to convince Caroline?

« Are you sure?»

« Yeah, Bonnie said that Abby's gonna wake up in a couple of hours, so if you just need a ride, we have plenty of time. As long as you don't need to go over the state line.» Caroline chuckled and hung up.

Elena started pacing in the city square. Was she being jealous about the whole Damon thing? Admittedly, she felt bothered by him sleeping with Rebekah, but… Ugh. Against her better judgement, her mind started picturing a naked Damon and a naked Rebekah unequivocally moving under the sheets. Their bodies were covered in sweat and he was holding her wrists down on the pillow, just beside her blonde tresses. Occasionally they would moan and exchange a passionate kiss.

« Oh for the love of God Elena, stop!» OK. She was definitely jealous. Crap. Crap. Crap. She really had feelings for Damon. Like... a lot of feelings. Crap.

Elena's thoughts were interrupted by a honk. Raising her head, she saw Caroline's car on the opposite side of the road, pulled over and waiting for her. She quickly crossed the street and hopped on the silver car.

« Hey…What happened? What did you mean by "my wheels have vanished"?»

« Elijah left a car for me in the woods. He must have taken it back.» Caroline snorted

« How very gentleman-like of him.» Elena shrugged

« Actually, this seems to me like something that Rebekah would do. She enjoys seeing me all damsel-in-distress-like, apparently. » Caroline tapped her fingers on the wheels, making a face.

« Stupid bitch.» The blonde looked at Elena and gave her a big smile « Should I drive you home, then?»

« Actually…Can you drive me to the boarding house?» Caroline furrowed her brows.

« Why?» Elena sighed, mentally preparing for the hell that she was about to unleash. Caroline was going to give her a wholehearted lecture about this.

« I have to talk to Damon.» The vampire pursed her lips.

« Elena. He's a jerk. Leave him be and go home.»

« Please, Care? I know he can be a jerk, and I know he turned Abby, but… He was making progress! And it's not like Elijah had given him and Stefan much of a choice.» Caroline gaped at her.

« Elena, are you actually saying that we have to cut him some slack ?» Elena touched her arm

« NO! He was horrible and I know that. But he's pretending not to care because it's easy! And, listen...» Caroline opened her mouth to talk, but Elena was quicker « I'm not defending him, ok? Just listen. At least he gave Abby a choice. He could have just snapped her neck and the plan would have worked anyway. By making her a vampire, as terrible as it is, and you know no one understands this better than I do, he gave Bonnie a chance to stay with her mother.»

« But Bonnie hates vampires!» Caroline objected.

« She does, but she likes you anyway, doesn't she? And that's because she knows you're still you. And believe me, an undead mother is better than no mother at all!» Caroline let out a heavy breath and rolled her eyes.

« Maybe I'm just seeing this whole thing on Bonnie's perspective only. I can't really think straight, because my friend is hurting. I know that. But I still don't think he's the great guy you think he is. And as sure as hell I'm never gonna make excuses for what he has done.»

« You shouldn't. And I'm not, even if it does sound like it. I'm just saying he's trying to do the least possible evil. His priority was to save me. I've tried telling him that he needs to stop doing that, but he just won't listen.» Caroline looked at her lovingly.

« No one actually wants him to stop, Elena. We love you.»

« Yeah, I know. But I love you guys too, and it's hard seeing my friends struggling or being in pain because I have to be saved.» Caroline clicked her tongue, giving in.

« OK. Fine. I'll drive you there.» Elena smiled.

« I love you Care.»

« Ass-kisser. I love you too.»

ooo

The two girls were almost at the boarding house, when Caroline started to make a face.

« Ehm…They're arguing, Elena…I…I think I should get you home.»

« Arguing? About what? Are they fighting? Like...Physically?»

« No. no. They... Oh.» Caroline narrowed her eyes, evidently surprised.

« Caroline?» Elena started to fidget on her seat.

« Ssht. Let me eavesdrop.» Caroline closed her eyes and listened, repeating aloud everything that she heard.

"I lost that coin toss, Damon. it should have been me who turned Abby. Why did you do it?

"Cause I'm not blind. I've seen what's going on around here. You're hanging by a thread Stefan, barely over your last ripper binge and all you want is be the old Stefan again."

"That part of me is gone for good."

"Oh yeah? How long has it been since you had one drop of human blood?"

"How did you know?"

"Spend 146 years with someone, you kind of start to pick up on their tells. Into the question. How long has it been since your last drink?"

"Since the night I threatened to drive Elena off the Wickery Bridge."

"See? You have enough to feel guilty about. Why add to the list? By the way, you're welcome."

"You know, you're not fooling anyone either. You still love her, Damon."

"I do. I thought I could win her from you fair and square. She didn't want me. It's for the best. I'm better at being the bad guy anyway."

Caroline was speechless. Elena had tears in her eyes and was breathing heavily.

« What am I supposed to do? What do I do?» Caroline took her hands.

« First of all stop crying. Stefan is trying to get better. You should be happy.» Elena loudly gulped.

« I am. I am happy for him but… Damon is being…. He's trying to save Stefan with all of his might, and here I thought he just wanted to… I'm a horrible person, Care. I thought he had given up.»

« Well, it's not like he has given you any reason not to think that, Elena.»

« I shouldn't have doubted him. I have a brother too, and even if sometimes I think I hate him, I'd gladly give my life for him. Damon's not different. He's a big brother too." Elena looked out of the window for a minute and then turned towards Caroline once more " I wanna talk to him. I want to understand.» Caroline gestured for her to go on.

« Do I have to wait for you?» She loved Caroline so much. So very much.

« I think I'm okay.»

« Okay then. Call me if you need me. I'll kick Damon's ass if he pulls a D-bag.» Elena smiled and got out of the car.

ooo

Elena softly knocked the Salvatore's main door, patiently waiting for someone to come and welcome her in. Not that she really needed that, since the house was still technically hers, and she did have a key. Normally, she'd just storm in, but knowing that the brothers were arguing, she thought that turning to some kind of good manners would be appropriate. Suddenly she heard muffled footsteps on the other side of the wooden barrier and she straightened her coat up, wishing for it to be Damon, so that she could simply ask him to go out for a walk without having to face Stefan too.

« You should be home.» Of course, she just couldn't be that lucky. Stefan spoke before the door had been completely open.

«Yeah, I know. I ehm… Is Damon around? I need to talk to him.» Stefan had an unreadable look on his face, but stepped aside to let her in.

« Can… Damon, can you please come over here?» She didn't bother asking Stefan. She knew that Damon was probably eavesdropping from his room and could hear her loud and clear. Stefan smirked, probably because Damon said something only he could hear. Ugh, stupid, inefficient human hearing. « What did he say?»

« Let's just say that he'd rather you go home.» Elena fumed and entered the house, quickly going in the living room and stopping in front of the liquor cabinet. Desperate times call for desperate measures. She grabbed the old key inserted in the piece of furniture and turned it lightly, unlocking the glass doors. She sifted through the bottles, extremely aware of Stefan's gaze on her.

« What are you doing?» Elena shrugged and ignored his question, busying herself with her current task, which was finding the oldest, finest and more expensive bottle of liquor in that cabinet. An anonymous wooden box got her attention. She smiled and slipped it from the shelf and into her hands. Carefully putting the box on the food cart standing just below the cabinet she opened the lid. Inside it, Elena found a shiny transparent bottle, roughly pear shaped, elegantly arranged on a white silk bed and filled with a dark brown liquid. Beside the untouched bottle there was an equally shiny and skillfully crafted top.

« Elena...I wouldn't...» The girl quickly pulled the bottle out of its case, and held it out by its neck with only two fingers. Stefan's eyes went wide.

« Just FYI Damon, I'm currently holding a funny looking spiky bottle, with 1930 and champagne written on it. It was in a wooden box, it's kinda heavy and it might just accidentally slip on the floor, if you don't get here.» Faster than she could blink, Damon was before her.

« Woman. Put my Remy down. Now.» Elena scoffed, making a wide gesture with her free arm.

« Are we twelve? Do I have to "lure" you out of your room, to actually talk to you?» Damon's eyes were fixed on the bottle, and his every muscle was tense, ready to jump at need. « Are you even listening to me?»

« No Elena, I'm not! Wanna know why? 'Cause you're holding my 1938 Remy Martin Louis XIII Grande Champagne Cognac bottled in Baccarat Crystal in your unsteady human hand.»

« Seriously?» She just couldn't believe him.

« Just think that you're holding about 15.000$ between your thumb and index. .Down.» Elena gaped at him. Wow. When she wanted to score, she surely scored high. Well, she had wanted the most expensive liquor, after all…

« 15.000 $?»

« Yes. Please, put it down. That thing's almost as old as I am.» Elena put the bottle back into its container and closed it. « Now, what do you want?» Damon crossed his arms and looked into her eyes, waiting.

« Can we take a walk? I wanna talk to you.» Elena took a couple of steps forward

« I can hear you just fine, right here.»

« Stop doing that!» Elena hissed « Please. » Damon's shoulders relaxed a little and he loudly exhaled.

« Ok. Whatever. Lead the way." And she did.

Stefan didn't know what to do. He was kinda disappointed that Elena wouldn't even acknowledge him, but he really shouldn't be, since he had decided that they wouldn't be an item anymore. Still, that didn't mean that he'd be cool as a cucumber, seeing the bond between the girl he loved and his own brother growing stronger and stronger each day. Elena didn't deserve to live the life she was living, and being constantly around vampires, hybrids and werewolves didn't help in the matter. If she shouldn't be with him, how was Damon any better? He had to do something about that, but… Maybe Damon was able to make her happy, and above everything else, that was what Elena needed and deserved. Happiness. The real question was if any of the Salvatore was actually able of giving just that to the doppelganger. Did one of them love her more than the other? Value her life more than the other?

Stefan sighed and decided to let it go for the night. It had been a long day and he was beyond tired. With that thought in mind, he quickly went upstairs and got himself to bed.

ooo

Damon and Elena were silently walking in the Salvatore's front lawn.

Elena was pulling her thoughts together and Damon was painfully wondering what could it be that she wanted to tell him that needed his brother to be out of hearing-reach. The wait was killing him.

« So, what is it that you needed to tell me?» Elena looked at him, biting her lower lip.

« I talked to Matt.» The vampire raised en eyebrow.

« And…»

« He... uhm… He told me about Kol. At the ball, I mean.» Damon furrowed his brows. Stupid bus boy. She wasn't supposed to know that. No one was supposed to know about that. He wasn't suited for being the good guy. He should have compelled Matt. Ugh, stupid booze, for making him sloppy. Stupid him for drinking that much. Hell, stupid Elena for making him want to drink in the first place! It all came down to her!

« What about him, exactly?» Damon had to keep it together, so he pushed the anger aside, for the moment.

«I know you went after Kol to save him.» Damon chuckled, deciding to play dumb. Yes, that would be for the best.

«Well, you should tell your ex-boyfriend to get over himself. I didn't do it on purpose. I happened to be there.» Elena stopped and grabbed his left arm, making him turn towards her.

« Why are you doing this? Why do you want people to think that you're an ass? You and I both know that you can be better than this.» Elena stroked his flesh with her thumb, making Damon's insides churn. Oh for God's sake. Elena was just brushing her thumb over him. Not even that sensitive part of him that needed her the most. He was so whipped he wanted to puke. Great.

« Oh, do we know?» Damon challenged, ignoring the conversation he was having with himself.

« Stop being "Katherine's Damon"!» Damon gaped at her, moving his arm out of her reach. What an infuriating woman!

« Come again?» Elena pursed her lips. How on earth did he always manage to get her mad? How? One minute she wanted to hug him and the next...

« When you were after Katherine, you were like this! Careless, mean, always hungover. Stop it. I don't want you to be this kind of Damon.» Elena let out, almost screaming. The vampire was fuming. This was her fault. This was her bidding. He wouldn't have gone anywhere near Barbie Klaus, if she hadn't said what she had.

« That's your problem, not mine. Maybe "Katherine's Damon", as you eloquently put it, never went away to begin with. » Elena raised a hand, aiming at his cheek. Of course, he grabbed her wrist mid-air.« I told you countless times not to do that. It pisses me off.»

« That's your problem, not mine.» Elena repeated, and Damon roughly released her arm and evilly smirked.

« Oh, it's yours too. When he's pissed, "Katherine's Damon" has the tendency of going on a killing spree.» Elena swallowed the insult in her throat and decided to try another approach.

« You wouldn't. That's not who you are anymore.» Damon punched a nearby tree, breaking it. Elena flinched back. Ok. Wrong approach.

« Stop saying who I am! This is who I am. This. If you're not okay with that, just walk away and leave me the hell alone!» Elena looked at his panting form and knew he was on the edge. She should have been scared, but oddly enough, she wasn't. And she was determined to talk to him about Matt, about what he did for Stefan and about Rebekah.

« I don't want to walk away. But if you keep pushing me away, one day I might do just that.» Elena tried to keep her voice steady. Damon snapped his head towards her, feeling the blood rushing to his head. She didn't say that. He'd heard wrong. How stupid was she?

« Is that supposed to be a threat? The world doesn't revolve around you, 'lena» Elena opened her eyes wide and raised her arms. She was out of options. Might as well scream and let the anger out of her system.

« Why would I want to threaten you? I'm just stating a fact. God, stop reading what you want into what I say!» Every single time they had something to talk about, they ended up arguing. How could two people fight that much? Why would two people fight that much and still be around each other?

« Oh, because that's what I do, right? I read into things.» Damon barked, exasperated.

« Yes, you do!» The girl shrieked. Damon took a couple of steps towards her, taking in a long breath, ready to shout something at her. Elena was waiting for anger that didn't came, though. Instead Damon just shook his head and walked past her. « Hey! I'm not finished!»

« Well, I am. Go home.» That was it. He wasn't having this conversation.

« Fine! Be like that! Run away! That's one thing you're good at!" Elena shouted at his back. Damon came to a halt, turning to look at the girl's panting form. Seriously? She was calling him a coward? With vampire speed, he walked to where she was standing, towering over her and looking into her eyes.

« Then I'd say we're a match made in heaven, wouldn't you? You've been on the run since the night we kissed.» And now she was staring at his lips. God, this girl. « Go home, Elena. »

« I don't have a car.» Damon looked away, mentally cursing. He couldn't believe her. One minute she was safe from the Originals and the next she was walking in the night alone, an easy prey for pickpockets or, God forbid, rapists.

« You walked here? Honestly, If you wanna die just ask. I'd make it quick.» The vampire hooked a hand behind his neck, massaging his tense muscles. Curtesy of Elena Gilbert.

In response to his snark, she just made a face. « Caroline drove me here.» Damon huffed. He really didn't feel like being around her for much longer, but apparently, fate hated him more than usual that night.

« Fine. I'll drive you.» Elena's lips moved upwards, giving him the tiniest smile. And just like that, Damon's anger was gone. Why did he even allow himself to get all worked up? Getting angry at her was just an humongous waste of energy.

« Okay.» Elena's bitterness vanished. More-or-less-reasonable Damon was back. The Gilbert's house wasn't that far, but if she could talk to the vampire for those full ten minutes, she thought she could get out the things she needed to say. Maybe they'd even manage not to fight.

ooo

« Get in.» Damon opened the passenger's door of his blue Camaro and Elena breathed a thank you, sitting in the old car. She waited for Damon to get to his side of the vehicle, enter and start the engine. After they had crossed the threshold of the Salvatore property, Elena finally spoke.

« I still wanna know why you saved Matt.» Damon gave her an eyeroll.

« And I already told you, I happened to be there. I needed to punch something, and an Original face sounded perfect.» Elena bit her lower lip, pondering. She needed to outsmart him, or this conversation would end just like the previous one had.

« Ok, but excuse me if I find it weird that you'd go after Kol, who could snap you like a twig, without a good reason. it's just plain stupid. It's not like you.» Damon snorted. She was actually flattering him. And being successful at it. Minx. She knew him too well. Not good.

« Whatever. I did need to throw some punches. I heard him threatening Matt and I thought I could kill two birds with one stone. If I hadn't found Kol I would have gone after a wall anyway, and since I don't like the Original brat, I chose to take it out on him. Happy?» Elena nodded. This was Damon, a pissed one nonetheless, so she couldn't really expect a plain and honest answer.

« Can I ask you something else?» Damon combed his hair with a hand.

« Why do you even bother saying that, since we both know you're gonna ask me anyway?» Fair point well made. She'd have asked him regardlessly of his answer. He really did knew her well.

« I'm sorry for believing that you had given up on Stefan.» Damon furrowed his brows in confusion.

« That's not a question.» Elena scratched her head and chuckled. Boy, this was going to get awkward. She just knew it.

« No, I guess it's not. I mean… you didn't give me any reason to think otherwise, but... now I know.» Now? What's now? That girl was gonna make him lose his marbles.

« And what do you mean by that?» Elena looked at her hands, knotted on her stomach.

« Caroline drove me to the boarding house earlier and…when I was about to get out of the car, she heard you and Stefan arguing about… you know…» Damon nodded, clearly annoyed. Crap. He really needed to have a word or two with Caroline and her nosy self.

« About Abby.» Damon sternly finished Elena's sentence. He was so not liking their talk. She wasn't supposed to know all of that stuff. Ugh.

« Yeah. Her, the coin toss, the blood thing and… me.» Screw it. He was gonna kill Caroline. The only thing left to do was to batten down the hatches. Like five minutes ago.

« Ok, this conversation ends here, or I swear to God I will throw you out of the car.» Elena had one last question though.

« Why did you sleep with Rebekah?» Damon gripped the wheel. "Don't throw her out, don't throw her out."

« Have I not made myself clear?»

« Why?» Elena stubbornly went on with her crusade. Damon was he kidding? He'd never hurt that stupid doppelganger.

« She was there, she's attractive and virtually indestructible, and she was willing. I needed hot, steamy, rough sex. She fulfilled her purpose quite well.» Elena felt sick to her stomach. « And it's none of you business.» Elena scoffed and Damon grinned. She was... No. Could she be?

« What was that, 'lena?» Elena shook her head and shrugged.

« Nothing.» Damon was all of a sudden incredibly interested in the conversation.

« Are you actually jealous that I slept with her?»

« No.» Damon raised an eyebrow. « I'm not, stop that.» Damon just stared at the brunette. « None of your business, anyway» The vampire smiled.

« Fair enough. But just FYI, I'm not gonna stop. So, jealous or not, suck it up and leave me alone. I'm a man and I have needs.» It would always be Stefan. Damon knew that. But... What if he had win her over? She was obviously upset. And not in a I-hate-her-and-you-slept-with-her kinda way. Was there something more? Could he even dare to hope?

« Why her, though?» Damon whined and moved an arm from the wheel, resting a hand on the gear shift.

« Just because, Elena. What difference does it make?

« None at all, I guess. Thanks for being honest.» The vampire slightly raised his feet from the throttle, seeing Elena pouting from the corner of his eye. Maybe this ride home hadn't been an entire waste.

« I've never been anything but honest with you, Elena.»

« What are you implying?» Why would he say that? Was he trying to get them into a fight? Again?

« I'm not implying anything. I'm stating a fact.» Elena knew he was insinuating that she hadn't been... and he was right. She had fed him lie after lie for one reason or another, and the latest was about her feelings for him. They were there, right under her skin, ready to burst out. She wouldn't let them. The reason still escaped her: she couldn't quite understand what she was so scared of. Was it Stefan? Or Damon's consuming love? Or… Could it be her own love for him that she was so terrified of?

Elena knew that she could say to Damon that the kiss under the porch happened because he had surprised her. That she wasn't green with envy about him sleeping with Rebekah. She also knew that Damon would look at her and know that she was lying, and that it would break his heart piece after piece.

Truthfully she was hurt by the fact that he was willing to give up on her on behalf of his brother's happiness. The last thing that Elena wanted was for Damon to give up on her. Oh God. That's not what she should be thinking and it was a further proof of her feelings for him. Ugh. Couldn't she go back time to primary school, when all you needed to do to know if you liked a guy, was seeing if you appreciated or not the fact that he constantly tried to make you fall during P.E.?

Elena's thoughts were interrupted by Damon's silky voice.

« We're here.» She unbuckled her seatbelt and brought her fingers to the door-handle.

« Thanks for the ride.»

« It's not like you gave me much of a choice, right?» The girl got off the car and slammed the door behind her, annoyed.

«God!»

« Don't blame him. You've been a pain in the ass lately, get angry at yourself.» Why? Why did he have to be like this! She missed her Damon!…Wait. Her Damon? Where was she when Damon had become hers? Oh no! Hell no!

« I hate you!» Damon smirked and added with a smug tone.

« Oh, you wish. Wouldn't it be soo easy, if you really hated me? Hm?» Elena decided to just literally turn her back on him and get the hell away from there. She needed a shower and sleep. Screw Damon. She heard the roar of the Camaro's engine and knew that he was gone.

« Idiot! » "honk honk" «Ugh!» Damon had heard her and was probably laughing with all of his might. Ugh!

Angrily she walked to the door of her house, unlocked it and kicked it open. Entering the threshold, she made sure that the door was closed again and went up to her room. Elena removed her coat and scarf, throwing them on the bed, only to have her attention caught by a letter resting on her red comforter. Suddenly her quarrel with Damon didn't seem so vital. She'd think about that tomorrow. Or the day after that. Or the day after that.

Her name was written in the same elegant handwriting that had been drafted on the note she had found on the car in the woods, just a couple of hours before that moment. Hesitantly, she picked it up, looked around and opened it.

ooo

Damon couldn't wipe that stupid smirk off of his face. Elena Gilbert was jealous of him. Hope was not lost. Admittedly, he couldn't see Elena coming to terms with his feelings for him any time soon. Eventually, yes, but not today. Not tomorrow.
Damon shrugged and kept smiling, lost in his thoughts. « Maybe the day after that. »


A/N: So...How was it? Please please please let me know what you think :) Nice and easy, with the new and improved fancy review section :) PLEEEAASE?

Other than that, I just wanted to tell you guys that I have really missed writing. Like, REALLY. Writing Damon is probably the funniest, more relaxing thing for me. And I get to imagine Ian Somerhalder a lot, which is not bad ;) And honestly, with the NEVER-ENDING hiatus, it can only be good for my sanity.

Oh! If anyone is interested, on my profile you can find a link showing what Damon's "Remy" really looks like ;)

Last but not least, a big fat THANK YOU to my AWESOME soulmate and soon-to-be pen-friend (YES, we are weird like that. THE INTERNET IS NOT ENOUGH OMG) Stroumfita, who is always super-kind to squeeze my beta requests into her super-busy schedule. I wouldn't even be publishing my stories, weren't it for her ;) So either hate her, or love her, depending on what you think about my O/Ss :p If you're still not convinced, just go and read her AWSOME Delena fics, Learning to Love Again and You Can Never Be Sure. If you still don't love her after reading those, than, my friends, you have issues! :P

TOODLES!