A/N – As usual, my story, but borrowing from TVD.

A/N – Real reviews directly impact my motivation to update.

A/N – There some style ideas I was playing with for practice herein. I hope you like it. Remember, these are missing scenes/perspectives as a companion to the show.

School Days #41

Caroline shared her teenage drama with the Salvatore's. Katherine's message provided the perfect opportunity for Stefan to share his intent with Damon. Stefan wanted this next and hopefully last and successful attempt to kill Katherine with the caveat that no one else would get hurt. His secondary goal was to leave Elena completely out of it. The Masquerade Ball would be Katherine's Murder Ball, or so they hoped.

But success was not all-encompassing, it never was in Mystic Falls. Sure Katherine ended up in the tomb but she wasn't dead. When she'd been immobilized and unconscious, Damon looked at the situation like it was an added bonus to all their trials and tribulations with Katherine. Instead of killing her, he insisted she be trapped "alive" as a more just punishment attributable to her crimes. He wanted her to suffer under the well-deserved irony of ironies that she was supposed to have been in the tomb since 1864. Stefan knew that Damon had suffered long and hard, loving her and waiting for her return to him. It was justice that she should suffer in the tomb where twenty-six others had suffered without the complicit Katherine en tow. She'd executed the perfect Houdini act but would be unable to repeat that feat again.

Stefan didn't argue too hard for staking their sire, although he feared they'd regret it later, much as he regretted not staking her when he had the chance in the cellar. Then again, Stefan's own compassion might have gotten the better of him again if they'd continued down the path of staking Katherine once the link from Katherine to Elena had been severed. He'd never know for sure now if he'd have been able to follow through killing a completely disarmed Katherine but he suspected he might have done it in the end if it hadn't been for Damon.

Katherine lying there, overcome by the spelled moonstone, probably saved her life. If she'd still been her evil self, spitting venom at the brothers, they'd have likely staked her without much thought beyond hating her. In the end, Stefan knew Damon would be easier to handle if he could exact his form of revenge. So, they were successful at eliminating her from their daily lives, so they hoped.

The more difficult pill to swallow was being rejected by Elena. Despite having said he understood that Elena still didn't feel fully safe, that her family was not yet safe, it still hurt. Stefan had thought for sure Elena would be in his arms now that Katherine was out of the picture, that he'd be the one tending to her wounds and making her comfortable as she healed. It might not have been a perfect ending to their plan, to know the evil doppelganger was locked away, but Stefan never thought she would push him away again. Maybe if they had killed Katherine, Elena wouldn't have kept her distance.

For the rest of the night, Stefan struggled with her decision to continue their break. In the morning, he decided to get to school and try to get him and Elena back to normal, if there was a normal state for them.

But, this is Mystic Falls.

Seeing Jeremy first thing started the day off with a major problem. Where the hell was Elena?

XOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXO

Shit! She was not safe! How did I not make sure she got home safely?

Yes, she'd walked away from him. Yes, he was heartbroken about it. But still…

Stefan's thoughts and fears were swirling. He knew he was spiraling. He needed to get it together.

With the help of Jeremy, he went to Bonnie for help. Damon even surprised the team by offering his hero services in support of Stefan's rescue mission. Damon could not have known if Katherine's warnings were true or just a desperate ploy, but guilt for not heeding the poorly timed honesty about Elena being in danger drove his atypical desire to help, not to mention his burgeoning desire for his brother's girl adding to his motivations.

The trip to the abandoned plantation lent itself to road trip bonding for the brothers, if only Damon would participate. The most surprising secret shared was that Stefan was drinking human blood, Elena's no less. Damon was torn between the positive indications that Stefan was addressing his bloodlust, seemingly successfully; as well as jealous that he, Damon, could not taste Elena. He was sure she'd be sweet, exquisite perhaps, not to mention shivering excitedly against his hard body as he'd held her to him while savoring her life's blood. He'd be careful to not over indulge but sure to give her pleasure as they connected, oh, and how they would connect...

If Stefan knew the thoughts flashing before his brother, he'd likely have punched Damon. Damon would have laughed knowing how innocent the actual blood-sharing was between Elena and his little brother. Stefan, so restrained during, if not thereafter, only took a hint of her blood. Damon's philosophy was, a donor, as willing and desirable as Elena, deserved oh so much more than a tip to take a vitamin B supplement, so much more...yes, more… Thinking of Elena in ecstasy was too distracting, it reminded him of Katherine, and Damon forced himself to focus back to reality.

When they arrived at the decaying plantation, Damon, always the big brother, nearly tried to stop them from going up against a probably 500 plus year old vampire who had taken Elena. Stefan didn't flinch. There was no better reason to risk his life than to try to save Elena's. Damon again was torn. While he felt jealousy veiled as disgust at his do-good brother's never failing to be the hero, he was a bit impressed at Stefan's complete devotion to doing the right thing and all things Elena. He wished he could be that clear of purpose. Then again, he always felt strongly about his decisions so maybe the issue was simply not making decisions in line with what others believed to be the right decisions.

XOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXO

And with the remnants of a coat rack, Elena was saved and Damon proud of his contribution to the effort. Seeing Elena running into Stefan's arms was like having the wind taken out of Damon's sails. For a moment, just a brief moment, he could feel what it was like for Stefan to be the hero, to be wanted, to be the one deserving of a multitude of thanks. Elena and Stefan weren't even together technically, but their embrace defied their current relationship status. Damon was mollified as Elena mouthed her thanks to him as well, but he still wished his arms were around Elena, that it was his nose in her hair, his chest her breasts were pressed against...

Elena wanted to get out of that house as quickly as possible. The front door, blocked by the impaled corpse of Elijah, inspired Stefan and Elena to make their way to a side door which exited down to what had been a garden long ago. Damon called out just as they went. "I'll be right behind you." He set to checking over the house for any clues about the perpetrators. He found the few scattered belongings that appeared to belong to the kidnappers but it wasn't much. They'd been traveling light, he presumed. This wasn't a place where any of the enemies lived, at least not at present.

The bloody and headless handiwork he guessed was the work of the now dead Original. There was some real skill to this beheading, disturbing though it was. There hadn't even been a drop of blood on Elijah's suit, none that Damon had noticed. Next it became clear that some if not all of those using this dilapidated mansion were not able to walk in daylight. Old paintings and scraps of old plasterboard where covering most of the windows in the few rooms where the dust had been kicked around and shoe treads marked recent paths.

Spying a small bit of glittering light, something on the floor catching a sneaky bit of afternoon sun, Damon bent to pick up what turned out to be Elena's necklace. No doubt one of their enemies had torn this from Elena's neck to compel her. The clasp was bent but could be fixed. He stowed the found object in his pocket for later. It burned a little as the locket touched his hand before it was safely tucked behind the denim and cotton. Damon went back to packing up what was left of Alaric's weapons and headed out in time to see Elena again in Stefan's arms. So he watched his feet mow through the long and weedy lawn instead of watching the hero and his girl.

XOXOXOXOXOXOXOXO

Stefan insisted on carrying Elena to the car. She was exhausted, still healing from her injuries, over-tired, and emotionally drained from the strain of the entire kidnapping ordeal. On top of that, she stumbled at the few small steps out of the side door into the former garden. Catching her before she could abruptly land on a knee and probably break or sprain a wrist trying to stop her fall, Stefan had her scooped up like the lightest feather. Elena squeaked, sure she would be on the ground and hurt more, but then in surprise at Stefan's grace and speed. "I got ya," he said with a soft smile barely concealing the pain in his eyes, pain for her, for her pain.

Elena tried to smile back but was too beaten down by the ordeal she'd been through. She leaned her cheek against his chest as she gave into the feeling of being taken care of, of being safe, if only for a while. After making it out of the collapsed garden, with its various twist and breaks of concrete and stone pathways, through shrubbery long out of control, Stefan was still carrying her through the long grass clearing beyond the home. Elena looked up expecting to see a car near them. "Did you walk here?" she asked quietly.

Stefan mildly smiled, relieved to hear a little humor in this woefully wronged girl. "We left the car across this field so no one would hear us coming."

"Oh, ok, you can let me down now." Stefan continued walking without altering his stride. "Really, I can walk."

"Elena, I know you can walk and you would if I put you down. But, you've been through too much and I'm going to take care of you and get you home, all the way home, like I should have last night. So you'll just have to suffer through my overprotectiveness a bit longer. It's the least I can." There was more meaning in his words than either would address now. Clearly he was telling her that if he couldn't heal her, that if he couldn't hold and kiss her, or just plain touch her during their break that he needed to at least do this, to do something for her. He was going to leverage this reason to help her and touch her without her pushing him away, without her reinforcing the break-up, however temporary.

In truth, Elena was glad of it. She wanted his arms around her. The whole business with the kidnapping had truly frightened her. Elijah had traumatized her more than she'd care to admit. She was shaking in his presence just a short time ago. The adrenalin coursed through her body with limited escape.

And, now her head was swimming with information about her, her blood, the breaking of the curse, all of it, revolving around her. It was too much. She desperately hoped and longed for someone to tell her that none of this was true, that she could go back to just having a vampire boyfriend with a vampire brother. That was enough crazy for a lifetime already. She didn't need Original vampires taking her further away from her reality already accommodating the other-worldly truth of the Salvatores.

Stefan set her down lightly at the passenger side of Damon's car and prepared for her to enter the back seat to have a lie down. She didn't want to mislead him but she wouldn't quite let go of his fingers as she climbed in so he followed her into the back seat closing the door behind him. Sliding over to give him room, Elena stayed close. "I'm sorry," she said ever so quietly. He stopped still and looked at her puzzled. She glanced at their intertwined fingers and then back to his eyes. "Is this all right, for now?"

"Of course. I brought a blanket too," he said, indicating the folded up picnic blanket he'd tossed into Damon's back seat. Stefan would have let her sit cuddled on his lap the whole way home if she wanted. Elena recognized the quilt and sought its comfort, draping it over her legs. It was plenty warm outside, but the loss of blood, low blood sugar from hunger, and perhaps a bit of psychosomatically induced shock, if one could have just a little shock, all this made the protection of the quilt preferable to feeling exposed to the elements. Settling in, she raised Stefan's arm over her head and ducked down to rest against him while wrapping his arm around her neck to her chest, her fingers never letting go of his.

Damon caught up, stowed the weapons cache, got in, and started the car. Glancing in the rearview mirror, Damon caught Stefan's eye. Just a look between them was enough. Neither was sure what it meant exactly other than they'd gotten Elena back safely. Neither believed this, whatever this was, was completely over. They still had so many unanswered questions.

The rest of the drive to Mystic Falls was quiet in deference to Elena's need to recover. She kept her eyes closed and clung to Stefan. Eventually, she was nearly horizontal, her head in Stefan's lap, her grip on his fingers easing slightly as she dozed off. Stefan's free hand lightly stroked her hair.

Elena woke when Damon downshifted as they entered the outskirts of town. Another mile down, he pulled into a drive thru to get Elena a little something to eat hoping a little sustenance would help her answer some questions tonight. Sitting up but still leaning against Stefan for strength, she declined any food saying she couldn't possibly eat. Another glance was shared between the brothers and Stefan said, "I'll take a shake, chocolate." Elena perked up at that idea and glanced to Stefan knowingly. He wasn't ordering for himself. He knew her so well. "And a bottle of water."

Sipping on the shake and occasionally some water did make Elena feel a bit better. Damon read the signs and figured they could start asking some questions. Slowly, he pulled the car back into the slight bit of traffic. She prepared herself knowing that questions were about to come faster.

"Elena, do you feel up to telling us what happened?" Stefan jumped in first to ensure she was ready. She nodded yes as she sipped. "Good. Start at the beginning, ok? The last we know is that Jeremy was giving Bonnie a ride home which left you…and your car…at the Lockwoods."

"It's a little bit of a blur, but I swear some giant jester jumped me. I think I was knocked out because the only thing I remember was being in the dark. It could have been in a trunk or something but we were moving and then I was being carried into that huge old house. That's when I was really coming out of it. That vampire who was…" Elena slowed as she remembered, her hand went to her neck as she recalled the bloody event she'd witnessed.

"Decapitated?" Damon filled in the word for her and she nodded.

"His name was Trevor. He was going to feed on me but the woman, Rose, stopped him. I tried to find out what they wanted. I kept asking them why I was there. Who were they? They were going to give me to the one called Elijah because I'm, I'm…a doppelganger. They said 'Katerina' like they knew her. They were scared of Elijah. They were tired of running from him. I was supposed to be their way out." Elena put her hand to her cheek. "She struck me, hard. I think I was passed out again." She sat thinking again.

It was hard to tell the story in order. Different bits and pieces from the chaotic day were coming back to her out of order. Damon jumped in when she paused. "How did they find you? How did they even know you existed?"

Elena could not think of an answer. She didn't think she heard an answer to that, at least none that she could remember. "Maybe it was Katherine? I don't know…" The brothers shared a look in the rearview mirror. Could Katherine have had yet another back-up plan at the ball which included kidnapping Elena? Was it all part of her plan? Was this what her warning was about? They would need to find out if these new old vamps were in cahoots with Katherine or just catching up to her after years of searching.

Elena looked so tired all over again. Having downed most of the shake, she relaxed into Stefan's body for the little bit longer she could. She knew that shortly, she would need to move on from this bit of respite from their break. Suddenly she gasped at a memory.

"I told them about the moonstone! The woman, Rose knows that Katherine is in the tomb with the moonstone!"

"Why?! Why would you tell them?" Damon asked as he stopped just short of rear-ending the car in front of them.

Elena reached up to her neck again, this time to feel for her necklace but instead confirmed it was indeed gone. "He, Elijah took my necklace," she whispered quietly to Stefan knowing full well Damon could hear too. The pain on her face told him how heartbroken she was to no longer have his gift. "Wait, first, I got Bonnie's note."

"What note?" asked Stefan.

"She told me you were coming to get me, both of you. I don't know how but here." She pulled out the piece of paper she'd stuffed in her pocket earlier to hide it from her kidnappers. Stefan looked it over, impressed by Bonnie's ability, and handed it over the seat for Damon to see. "I was trying to buy some time, until you came,…so that's why I brought up the moonstone. It was the only thing I could think of to delay them."

"It's ok, Elena…" Stefan said with a light squeeze of encouragement. "Go on. What happened then?"

"He tried to compel me and tore off my necklace. Then he did compel me to tell him about the moonstone and where it was and why…and then you surprised them."

"It was good thinking, Elena, really, quick on your feet in a tough situation."

"I don't think I've ever been so scared. But then you killed him. Why were the other two so afraid of him? They were older vampires. They could have killed him too. Two against one like you two did."

"We're just that good," Damon said but all of them were pondering the same curiosity despite the sarcasm.

The question hung in the air as they approached the Gilbert home.

"Thank you for recusing me, both of you."

Damon brought the car to a stop on the street and Stefan exited the car in order to help Elena out and up to the house. "Get some rest, Elena," Damon said as she exited with the help of Stefan's hand.

"It's ok, Stefan, I'm alright. You can go."

"No way. I'm making sure you get home, all the way home this time. I'll see you at home, Damon." Stefan slipped a spare hoodie around Elena's shoulders.

Elena was about to protest, but thought better of it. The conversation, the distance she needed to put between them again, should happen without Damon en tow. Damon pulled away with a wave, his taillights nearly gone by the time Stefan and Elena reached the front door.

"Stefan, really, thank you. For everything." She stood facing him at the front door handing him back the hoodie indicating the end of their reprieve. "I'm sure I'll be better in the morning and we can arrange a time for your next…dose…"

Stefan looked like a cross between hurt and confused. "Elena, I just want to,…wait, do you think I'm here to feed. I'm not. I…"

"I know, I know, you just want to keep me safe. Well I'm home, and thank you, and now Jeremy and Bonnie will be hovering over me and I just want to take a shower and go to bed so everyone else can go back to their lives." Stefan pulled back ever so slightly, stiffening at her tone. Elena sensed she'd been too hard but it was her turn to protect her loved ones. "I'm sorry. I'm tired. I'm home and safe."

"It's ok. I understand." Stefan felt defeated despite having just accomplished a great rescue with Damon. "Go on, get inside. I'm sure they are both anxious to see you." She cringed inside knowing he was not anxious to let her go. This wasn't easy for her either, but she had to be strong in her resolve to make everyone safer.

Reaching back, she squeezed his hand again, briefly. "Thank you." He nodded, waited until she was inside, the door closed and locked before he slowly left. He could just make out the excitement inside once Jeremy and Bonnie heard Elena arrive. Family, he thought. There's nothing like family.

XOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXO

Dear Diary,

I know I'm hurting Stefan and I hate it. The look in his eyes…His beautiful green eyes…He tried to hide it but I can always tell. I want to touch him, kiss him, and tell him everything will be ok, but we don't know that. It's what he would tell me, and he'd hold me and kiss me…But he has been wrong. I'm sorry that I don't agree with him; I'm not trying to be mean, truly I'm not. I can feel sadness radiating from him across the distance I'm creating and I just hate it. I don't want the distance between us. I just want him out of harm's way. What would be the point of him getting hurt or killed and me still being taken by Klaus? I can't be responsible for getting him killed. It would kill me if he died at my expense. I love him. Crazy mad, I love him. And I can understand why he wants to protect me. I just want the same in reverse. I wish we were on the same page. But I can't just go with his way. He will do all he can to keep me alive and someone else will get hurt or worse, killed. Maybe my way won't be that much better, but…

But I'm right. I can feel it in my bones. If I don't think of other ways to keep him, my family, everyone safe, he's going to get himself killed. I hate to admit it, but as good as Stefan and Damon are at staying alive in the dangerous world of the supernatural, Katherine is better. She's always steps ahead of anyone else. How does she do it? I'm her double, her descendent. Do I have it in me to have the better plan?

Dear Diary,

Evil doesn't play fair. Most people don't play fair, well the bad ones don't. It's a weakness I can't afford right now. I have to find a way to get ahead of the problem, to be in control of stopping the fallout if someone else is calling the shots. I don't mean Stefan or someone on my side, but whoever is the one we are fighting. They know more than we do presumably, about the curse, about the "Originals", about doppelgangers…

It was Elijah in this case,…or wait. Strike that. It's Klaus. Elijah was just helping find a doppelganger, right? Others could still be looking. Maybe there is a way to stay alive and give enough blood working directly with Klaus. Maybe this doesn't have to be an all-out war between vampire factions. Rose would say that's crazy, that Elijah was a "foot soldier" or the "Easter Bunny" compared to Klaus. What does that even mean? Klaus is frothing at the mouth? A monster? Or just hard and angry? I would be too if I was waiting thousands of years for something, found it, and lost it. The description of Klaus could mean all sorts of different things. Still, if he's at all reasonable and I am willing, maybe we can work it out.

Ha, optimistic, right? I can see Damon's smirk, Rose rolling her eyes, and Stefan, my poor Stefan dreading any hair on my head being touched. I don't want to be taken or hurt, but one versus many…I'm thinking the ends justify the means…if I'm using that right. Less get hurt, more get saved…

There isn't enough information. There isn't enough knowledge to separate fact from fiction. We need more than Rose's info. What about Rose's source, Slater, in Richmond she'd said, right? Maybe he knows more or could find out. What about Alaric, maybe he can help. Maybe…Isobel knows something. Ugh. Speaking of Isobel's research, Katherine…I need to do some more Petrova reading.

Yes, that's it. I need to look closer to home, to the one closest to the history of Klaus looking for a doppelganger. I need to talk to Katherine. She's got to be getting hungry by now. I'll bargain some blood for information. I'll bring her the Petrova book. When? Tomorrow? I'll have to get Stefan to, no, strike that, I'll ask Caroline to help me open the tomb. She can distract Stefan like she did to me for Katherine's little visit. How about that, taking a page from Katherine Pierce. I must be a Petrova afterall…ugh…

Dear Diary,

I needed to know and now I do. Klaus will kill my entire family, friends included, just to get back at me for running. Turning isn't even an option, not that I would. He'd still kill them all. Besides, running for hundreds of years like Katherine isn't living.

He wants to drain every single drop of my blood.

That's what she said.

How does one live through that…you don't.

And now we know what else is needed to break the curse. It's not just me. It's Bonnie, Tyler, Caroline, potentially any vampire.

My only hope, more of an evil wish really, is that Klaus only takes me and finds other innocent people instead of my friends to kill in a deadly sacrifice. Great, right? Sure, wish death on others instead of my friends. At least Jeremy, Jenna, and everyone…and Stefan will be safe.

P.S. Stefan, I love you. I hope you know how much. I'm so sorry to pull away. I'm so sorry I was weak tonight. I couldn't keep my distance. I needed your strength, your arms. And I didn't want to let you go. I just couldn't weigh you down in my tears any longer. I just can't, scratch that, never mind….

Dear Diary,

AAAAARRRRRRRGGGHH! Flippin' Damon. Rose is a double-crosser. Should I be surprised? No. But she owed me, dammit. Sorry, but come on. And it turns out that Elijah is alive!? How? I've no idea. But he didn't even take me. Maybe, if Damon hadn't been there, I could have found out why. I could have talked to Elijah. Ok, that's probably delusional…he probably would have just taken me like he'd planned the other day. But still. I could have talked to him. But why did he kill those vamps that were supposed to get me for Klaus? Isn't that what he wants? Odd though, that he asked them if they'd told anyone else about me…

Ok, I know I'm ranting on like a crazy person, but this is real, it's what I'm feeling and I'll get it out here instead of bawling on Stefan's shoulder and confusing him when we are supposed to be apart. I couldn't even do it if I wanted. And it's probably the reason I'm such a pissed off mess.

Stefan saved Jeremy and is locked in the tomb. See, because of his sacrifice. Again, he's in harm's way for me, my family. Sometimes, I think he and I are more alike than we even realize. We both want so much for the other to be safe and happy. And now, keeping my distance from Stefan to protect him was one thing. Now that it's not my choice, that he's locked away and I can't see him, no thanks to Damon...I'm not ok. I suppose this makes me a hypocrite in one way or another. When we're apart on my terms, that's ok, but apart due to someone else's terms, not ok. I'm so weak. I need him.

Maybe the real reason for my desperation is that he's locked away with HER.

Dear Diary,

Being locked in the house is ridiculous. I could just scream. How the flip did Bonnie get involved with Damon's plan? She's my best friend. I can't believe she did this to me. And Jeremy, my own brother. I can see he's wrapped around Bonnie's finger lately.

Yes, that rang of jealousy. It's not their fault that I can't be with Stefan right now.

It's mine. All of this. It's about me. Not me personally. Me, the doppelganger with the witchy blood. There's nothing magical about it, lol. I'd say 'why me?' but I guess I wouldn't even be here if I wasn't the doppelganger, would I? It's not like I could have wished for a different life, could I? Is my soul tied to me being a double? Could I have been in a different family line or would I just never have existed at all?

Yet more questions I'll never have answered. And if I have to have these philosophical conversations making a mess of my head, I'm going to need ice cream. BRB

Well, dearest diary, I think things may be looking up, except for the fact that an Original now has access to my family's home. As scary as Elijah is, or can be, I just saw something in him tonight that I did not pick up on at that crusty old plantation home. While he seemed to be all judge and jury, (case in point, Trevor and Rose) he seems downright fair and reasonable, relatively. If he stays true to his word, there may just an end to all this Klaus/curse madness that won't lead to unnecessary pain and death, at least for my family and friends.

I'm still locked in my house until Bonnie lets me out of here but at least I now know where I stand with Elijah. The safety of my family and friends is now negotiated with the one who can provide it and Stefan will be free shortly with the help of Elijah's witches. Just the thought of Stefan's release from captivity puts me in a better state of mind. Yes, I realize it means he'll be able to get away from Katherine's clutches and that probably helps my mood. But I sure wish Bonnie would answer my call and get me out of here. I want to see Stefan in the flesh, to see that he's safe and sound, out of the tomb, out of that foreboding place…to touch him…I want him to hold me…

I should probably do some homework or something, but I'm just so antsy. I wonder if Stefan will at least call. Probably. He'll want to tell me he's home, out of there…

Ok, he'll come here, won't he? Elijah will have told him I requested his freedom. He'll know I did that as part of protecting everyone, won't he? I guess it depends on what exactly Elijah tells him. Crap, I should have been more specific in my request. Elijah was very specific with his words to me. Important lesson, E-take note.

Elena went to the window seat to bide her time for the rest of the night. She'd finally gotten a text from Bonnie about the entrapment spell. It would be faded by morning due to the waning power of the full moon but if Elena really needed her to come over sooner she would. Elena let Bonnie off the hook. If anything, the lingering trap would keep her from rushing over and tackling Stefan like a manic girlfriend now ready, beyond ready, to end the separation.

And then, there he was, in the reflection of her window. "Elena," he said softly, a smile teasing his lips. "Hey." Her beautiful Stefan, none the worse for the wear, in fact, looked amazingly good for being trapped in a tomb. Elena sprung to life and ran to him as he entered her room.

Embracing fully, not holding back, they were immediately wrapped up in each other's arms. Elena pulled back to kiss him fully on the lips. Her eyes told him all he needed to know. She was enraptured. Her smile and eyes were radiant with happiness at seeing and feeling him here and now, no more separation, self-imposed or not.

She finally spoke a word between kisses and smiles. "Hey." Hands were cupping each other's cheeks helping their kiss stay planted on the warm lips that felt like home. Drifting backwards, Elena pulled Stefan with her to her bed where they fell lightly together, still kissing.

His weight upon her, a favorite feeling for her when she needed to feel grounded, that this was real, he was really here. Warm and soft, yet firm and urgent, their kissing continued, each reaffirming how missed each was to the other.

Stefan began to slow their pace, trying to pull back and allow Elena time to breathe. She, however, simply didn't want to breathe and pressed for more of his sweet mouth, those sweet yet sexy kisses. Teasingly, she coaxed his tongue to join in. Elena was panting, nearly gasping, so Stefan tried more firmly to ease their escalating display. "Elena, breathe, we have time, don't we?" Gradually, she eased her intensity.

"I, I…," Elena took a deeper breath to get her words working again. "I just missed you so much. I didn't want to be apart, really I didn't. I just wanted everyone safe. I just wanted you safe." She planted one on him again and he smiled coming out of her hold.

"How did you do it?"

"Elijah wants to kill Klaus. I know, surprise right? And he wants to use me as leverage to lure him out so he can set him up. So, I'm not going to run. I stay with my family and friends. Elijah, and he has witches, they protect us. When the time is right, I help trap Klaus." She smiled so very pleased with how her negotiations with Elijah had come to a close.

"And he doesn't want to kill us? He's not going after Damon or me? We fought him. We thought we killed him."

"Nope. He knows that you will protect me so I can stay right here with you."

"Amazing. Almost too amazing…" Stefan said trying but failing to not look a bit disbelieving.

"Stefan, trust me, I trust him. He was a very proper negotiator, gentlemanly really. Still scary considering Trevor and all, but, something,…I trust him to keep his word as I will in return."

"K, but you'll be bait…"

"Stefan, we have time for all that…I've been missing you so much, even when you were right next to me…" Elena leaned up to start kissing again. "Wait, you're ok, right? You weren't hurt, Katherine didn't…"

"No, I'm fine. A little hungry but I'll deal with that later."

"Oh, here, let me,…"

"No, no, I'm good. I'll hunt on the way home. Besides, I drank a bit from a blood bag on the way to get you back the other day. I did ok."

"Well, that's great…but should I be offended that I've been replaced?"

Stefan smirked and looked a bit bashful. "If it's important to you, we can discuss it but not now."

"I see it more like sharing life, just with you though."

Stefan was a little impressed with his girl. But enough talk. Elena wanted more kissing, he would give her more kissing. They went back to lips pressing lips, the occasional tongue slipping between to taste, to touch. Thumbs and palms lingered on soft cheeks.

It reminded him of a make-out a while back, when he'd lost control and had to stop, turn away from her. But now, there was no turning away. Now there was love and longing, tenderness and passion, and…Elena.

Her hips moved under him just enough to feel him respond. She made a soft noise at the feel of him, growing harder. It was a normal reaction and didn't always mean he was headed for sex. Another subtle roll of her hips, her right leg slipping out from under him and angling back over his hip however might mean she was. Stefan slowed their kisses again wanting to savor just being with her again, kissing her again, seeing her eyes look at him the way she was looking at him.

"I missed you," he whispered.

"Me too. I'm so sorry."

"Don't apologize. It worked, right?" He kissed her cheek softly, nuzzling down to kiss some more.

"I didn't want to be apart, you know that right?"

"Yes." He was softly kissing her neck and working his way back up.

She moaned lightly, craving his lips again on hers. "Please, kiss me, just kiss me. Let's forget all this..." His lips were on hers, his tongue requesting to enter, her words swallowed with his more demanding kiss.

Her fingers in his hair, she skillfully roused his every sensual nerve on his head. The tingling sensations ran through his body like a warm electrified current. Her left leg had joined her right, snaking around his body to press him closer. Her legs squeezed him like a vice that would not let go. The message was so clear. She missed him, bad.

"Elena, hey," he whispered. "You know the door is open."

"No one else is home." Straight back to kissing, down his jaw…

"But…" He knew Jenna had let him in. But then again, he couldn't hear anyone else anymore. It was too late to protest further anyway. Elena's finger was across his lips, effectively shushing him for the moment. She went back to kissing him.

Eventually, he got a few more words in. "'Lena, you know,…I have been in a musty old tomb…"

"You smell perfect…taste delicious…feel wonderful…Please stay," she sneaked out between kisses. "Please. Please take your clothes off." Stefan chuckled. "Seriously, they're all dusty. Get your clothes off my bed," she added with a sexy smirk.

"Well if that's what you want," he said getting up from atop of her.

"Just the clothes, you stay. If that wasn't clear."

He smiled, stood at the foot of the bed and took off her shoes, one at a time. While she unbuckled her jeans he quickly closed and locked her bedroom doors. Elena giggled at his sense of privacy now put at ease. Coming back to her bed, he helped pull her jeans off and started on his own clothes.

Soon they were naked for both to see. There was something almost sacred about being there, naked, together, body and soul on display. It wasn't lust-filled ogling. It was love, longing, passion, desire. He came forward as she offered her hand in summons to join her back on the bed. Crawling up from the foot of the bed, he brought his cheek to her warm outstretched hand. Slowly she lied back and he followed, their eyes clear and sparkling.

"You are amazing," she said. "So beautiful."

He blushed and shook his head lightly. "You are beautiful."

Her fingers were on his lips again. "No, Stefan, really." She gave his shoulder a gentle push as she had them roll over. "I mean it. You are so beautiful, inside and out. Sometimes I think we are alike and then sometimes I'm just so amazed by you, your heart." She kissed him softly before sitting up straddling him. His hands rested on her hips as he took in the view of her above him. She began to explore his chest, fingers grazing, following along the muscular definition and stopping to gently circle a nipple. "Don't get me wrong. I mean it physically too. Do you remember our first time?" Of course he remembered. "When we got your shirt off, did you know, you totally blew my mind?" She giggled. "Did I drool?" Stefan looked embarrassed and was using one hand to rub his eyes. "I don't mean to make you uncomfortable." She leaned down to kiss his chest. "I just want you to know how much I appreciate you, all of you. Inside and out. Even if we don't always agree." She continued to kiss his chest making her way from left to right and back again.

Her hands found their way to his arms and stroked the bulging biceps, triceps, and every lovely cut and curved swelling of his well-defined arms. Slowly working lower still, her fingers threaded with his as she kissed down his abs, nibbling and sucking lightly at his smooth skin. Stefan was moaning now, well aware of where she was headed. "Please…" he said. It was barely a whisper, more like a hiss.

"Please what?"

"Mm, please, touch me…"

"Mm, I am touching you," she teased, kissing lower, below his hardness to the delicate areas even lower.

His manhood throbbed forcing his words. "Your mouth, pleasss…" He was about to say it, to please suck him, but she took his head inside and swirled her tongue round and round. He let out a pleased groan of relief and pleasure at the feel her warm wet mouth savoring him. His head lolled to either side as his hands gave hers a squeeze. The waiting was over. She sent him soaring with pleasure. He lost track of time, of having been locked up just an hour before. All was bliss, and warmth, an aching pleasure-filled happiness as sight and sound blurred in his body and mind.

His hips rolled softly with her movements, his muscles unable to fight the urge to move, to find a soothing rhythm. Her hands moved on, trailing down his gluts to massage the dimples of his tight and clenching buttocks.

Keeping a splendid pace, just enough to keep him wanting and loving every stroke, she persisted until she could no longer wait to have him. Carefully, she replaced her mouth with her hands trying to not disrupt his bit of heaven too much. Quickly she straddled over him and slid down his length, squeezing her inside muscles to counter the loss of her mouth and hands.

His eyes had opened to see her taking him in, a sight of which he would never tire. She rocked on him, matching his rolling hips as she scooped her hair out of her face. Their eyes, both half-lidded, found the others and the slightest of smiles was shared. His hands found her hips and eventually trailed up to her breasts, fondling gently. Her hands joined his and encouraged firmer touches that sent urgent signals to her core. Her head fell back at the intensity and a guttural groan, soft and low was sent up to the ceiling.

He needed to feel her body on his. He wanted more skin to skin contact. Sitting up, his lips reached her nipples, shocking her head up to look at her lover. Her hair enveloped them as her arms and hands wrapped around his head. She rode a bit harder to compensate for him sitting up, but he could tell she wanted more. After biting and teasing her perfectly firm young breasts, Stefan kissed up her neck, found her lips and flipped them over. Elena gasped at the sudden intensity and depth. "Oh Stefan, yes…yes…" They were soon sailing over the edge, her cries for more taking him with her.

"Love you," quickly escaped him in a heated whisper as his mouth affixed to hers yet again. She moaned in agreement as she wrapped around him like the bow on a present, her limbs encircling the gift that was Stefan Salvatore.