I apologize for the jumbled mess that was the last chapter! It was written half-heartedly. Hope you guys enjoy this one.

Chapter 9

The next morning broke sweltering and misty, the warmer winds of summers nascent on the late spring breeze. Along with it, came a torrential downpour that pelted angrily against Elena's windowpane. It's maelström shook her window with the force of its heavy squalls and howling wind.

Elena didn't mind its turbulence though; she was far too absorbed with her own emotional disorder and jumbled thoughts. Like the driving sheets of rain outside, her tears were pouring and uncontrolled.

For a few minutes she allowed herself to give in to the weakness, desperately needing to vent through tears. They were a cleansing escape that briefly helped to sever all her emotional ties. And she needed them badly, for just one second.

When she finished her pity party, She bitterly swiped the moisture from her sable hued lashes and gazed out into her hallway curiously. Who was home?

The illuminated mouth to the hall revealed nothing but stark emptiness and the grating strains of her brother's heavy metal music. Which was a good thing. It meant no one was home to question her about last night.

Lethargically, Elena withdrew from her burrowed spot under the covers and slid into her furry house shoes, determined to get an early start to her day and to avoid her parents.

She showered quickly and hastily donned a simple navy long-sleeved t-shirt and blue jeans. Slipping on her navy sneakers, she gathered her hair into a messy ponytail at the top of her head, smeared on some lip-gloss and walked down to the kitchen.

Elena approached the room, sad and angry with herself. Last night had been a total disaster. She had meant to come off as cool and aloof. Instead, she'd strip herself bare in front of him. She had even cried in front of him, again. He must think she was pathetic. Taking a deep breath, she pushed open the kitchen door.

"I didn't hear you come in last night" Her father's voice greeted her coolly from behind his newspaper.

Elena's breath hitched in the back of her throat, his tone, as deceptively mild as it was, still left her feeling terrified and short of breath.

Swallowing back her fear, Elena mutely trudged over to the cabinets and began preparing a bowl of cereal, unsure of what to do next.

The newspaper still cloaked her fathers face and fortunately for her, he seemed immersed in it, pausing every so often to drink the hot mug of coffee that had tendrils of mist swirling out of it.

Maybe this was a good thing. Maybe she was overreacting and he hadn't even noticed how late she had come in last night.

"So?" Her father suddenly spoke into the tensed silence, putting down his newspaper.

Surprised, Elena couldn't suppress her jumpiness and accidentally spilled some of the milk she was pouring on to the stainless island.

"So?" She echoed, looking up from underneath the fringe of her lashes to meet his gaze. He was staring at her expectantly, as if waiting if he was waiting for her to come up with some type of logical explanation.

She had none.

" So. What time did you get in last night"?

Fear and panic gripped her as she searched her mind for a good lie. Mentally, she sifted through words and scenarios, searching for something that was good enough to help pull the wool over his eyes.

"I was home by midnight" She settled for a lie, too afraid of where the truth might get her.

"Elena" Her father started warningly, his gaze steely and probing" We've been over this before. What have I told you about lying?"

"Don't do it" She squeaked, clearing her throat, she attempted to catch her breath before responding " You said not to lie."

"Ok then. So I'm only going to ask you this one more time, just one more time. That's it." He paused to give her a grim look " What time did you get in last night?"

Elena ran a stressed wobbly hand through her brown locks, silently warring with herself about whether or not to tell the truth. Her body quivered with a palpable fear, and she hoped that it wouldn't give her away to her father. She needed to come across as convincing.

"I already told you Daddy, I was home by midni-" Elena didn't even manage to complete the lie before the banging sound of her father's fist hitting the kitchen table cut her off.

She jumped reflexively from the loud sound, shaking as she met his wild and angry gaze.

"STOP LYING TO ME!" He yelled.

"Ok. Ok. Ok" She stammered holding up her hands fearfully " I'm sorry Daddy. I lied. I wasn't home by midnight but I swear to god I came in at one. I swear"

"Were you with that girl" He snarled the words like it offended him to even mention her.

"No I was with Bonnie"

"Where'd you go?"

"To the movies"

"What movie theater in Mystic Falls closes at one AM Elena? You're lying again," Her father growled incredulously.

"No I'm not. We went to the grill afterwards" She retorted quickly surprised with herself at how good she was getting at lying. It was becoming easier and easier to make up stories. It was almost scary.

Her father said nothing in response. He simply looked at her through new eyes, as if he were seeing her for the first time. And judging by the expression on his face, he didn't like what he saw. Not one bit.

An oppressive silence filled the space around them and for some reason it scared her more than his yelling. She was used to his tyrannical ways and shouting, and that was scary. But this, his brooding expression and menacing eyes, it was a whole new level of terror.

Was he going to hit her?

"You listen to me because I'm only going to say this once" The room suddenly grew so quiet that the clock on the sideboard could be heard ticking away, imperious and demanding "You'd better not lie to me ever again".

"Yes daddy" Elena replied in a shuddery tone.

Damon awoke neither relaxed nor rested as he listened to the footsteps that rang along the wooden floor in the hall. At the sound of the angry footsteps every single cell in his body came to attention. He didn't move off the makeshift bed he'd made with a pile of blankets and a box spring, instead, he waited. Just like so many times before tonight.

He was always left waiting, and wondering. Waiting for it to happen. Terrified that it might finally actually happen. Tonight was no different.

Growing up, he had feared very little. Hell, he hadn't even understood the meaning of fear. Now, he lived with it constantly. It burrowed under his skin and nestled close to his heart. And grew with every second the footsteps came closer.

Not tonight. Not tonight. Please god, not tonight.

It was like a religious litany for him. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't. The fear clung to his stomach and clawed at his nerves as the footsteps edged closer, echoing their menace. Reiterating that they brought agony with them.

He squeezed his eyes shut. Maybe if he didn't look. Maybe if he pretended that it didn't exist then it would just go away. It was torture. He knew the footsteps meant a beating if he was lucky or worst if he wasn't.

His breath felt stuck in his chest. The sound was even closer now, right outside his bedroom door.

The creaking sound of a door jamb being twisted made his heart stutter and for a brief second he wanted it to stop beating. He wanted to die. Anything was preferable than what was coming.

His azure eyes opened swimming with unshed tears as they stared out into the darkened mouth of the room, searching for the foreboding form that haunted his dreams.

They rushed at him, screaming at him immediately, kicking him when he moved to rise too slowly for their liking. His screams and protests that echoed off the cavernous halls went ignored as usual.

No one heard him. No one ever heard him.

Elena tightly squeezed the small withering hand of her grandmother into her own and pressed a soft kiss against her pallid brow, sighing forlornly. Hoping that even in her comatose state that she had somehow felt that kiss.

The Doctors and Nurses had all informed her that it was helpful to engage the coma patients.

Elena blinked back tears of fury as she mulled over their suggestions bitterly. They had given her that advice nearly a year ago. A fucking year! She had ruminated over all their suggestions, taken it all into consideration, listened dutifully and yet none of it had worked.

None of it had stopped the woman she had once known and loved from turning into a fucking vegetable, a dormant atrophying vegetable that vaguely resembled a shell of the woman that she had once loved.

Wiping at the moisture that dotted along her brown lashes, Elena snuggled deeper into the uncomfortable hospital chair and smiled weakly at her Grandmother as a distant memory rose to the surface of her mind.

"Remember that time in second grade when Matt Donovan beat me up and stole my lunch?" Elena paused to laugh, her voice hoarse and pained.

"I came running home to tell you and mom about it after school. – I was so scared." Elena's eyes filled up with tears as a tableau of that day flashed before her eyes.

"But you told me to stop crying. You said-" Elena's voice broke as she began sobbing. " You said that tears didn't help to solve anything.

Elena leaned forward and buried her face into her hands, sobbing brokenly. Her shoulders quivered slightly from the force of her wails and for a second she allowed herself to give in to the weakness. Desperately needing to vent through tears. They were a cleansing escape that briefly helped to sever all her emotional ties.

"You were also so strong." She choked out "So fucking strong"

"I can't do this. I can't. I can't I can't" She wailed shaking her head. "It's too hard. I'm not- I'm not strong like you. Please-" Elena pleaded. "Please come back. Please don't leave me. Everything's a mess right now"

She knew her pleas were useless though. She needed to stop this. Gradually, her cries subsided. She let out a shuddery breath then ran a hand over her face. She ignored it's shaking. It always shook when she cried.

Glancing around the nearly isolated hospital, she sighed once more. It was getting late and visiting hours would soon be over. Plus, tomorrow was Monday and she had school.

Dragging herself out of the chair, she headed for the door. Passing the mirror she stopped and glanced at her face, grimacing at the sight of her unkempt hair and running mascara. Wetting a towel, she dabbed at the black tracks running down her face and fixed her hair.

When she was presentable again, She grabbed her belongings and pressed a kiss to her grandmother's papery cheek and exited the room.

She was walking down the long winding hallways and replying to a text that Kol had sent her when she saw him. Instantly, she felt the usual nervousness and stutter of her heart.

He looked terrible, but still unerringly beautiful.

His hair looked disheveled, his clothes had been haphazardly applied, and his blackened eye had gauze over it. It looked as if he hadn't slept in days and would keel over at any second. Somehow though, he managed to wear despair well.

Reflexively, her mouth tightened into a scowl. He was the last person on earth that she wanted to see. Sure, she felt a strange speck of pity strangling at her, but not enough to engage in a conversation with him. Hopefully, she could leave without being seen.

Emotionally, she wasn't up for another battle with him. The scar tissue he had left from their last encounter still hadn't completely healed. She was still crying about him too. Not as much. But every now and then it'd still happen.

With long determined strides, She walked towards the elevator and held her head down, praying he didn't see her.

Luckily, she made it to the car without any interruption. Revving the engine, she adjusted the radio station and spent twenty minutes replying to texts before taking off.

The trajectory of the road leading out of the hospital was dark and isolated. She reveled in its stark emptiness as she drove along the curve humming along to a song on the radio.

A shadowy figure walking along the gravel road caused the tune to die in her throat. It was weird seeing someone out walking this late at night. A skitter of terror coursed through her as she imagined wild scenarios.

Careful not to engage the stranger, She tried keeping her eyes ahead as she drove, but something familiar tugged at her mind.

Glancing curiously out of the window, She saw that the figure was indeed familiar. It was Damon.

Why was he walking? And where was his car?

Instinct and self-preservation told her to keep driving, that she didn't need any of the problems he brought tonight. Her heart told her otherwise.

Sighing agitatedly, she softly pressed down on the break and slowed her car to a stop. Not even really sure of what the hell she was doing or why.

Rolling down her window, Elena stuck her head out and called out to him " Need a lift?"

Damon turned around slowly and suspiciously, shielding his eyes from the glaring headlights that beamed at him. The voice sounded familiar, but he couldn't quite place it. Cautiously, he approached the car.

"Who's asking?"

"Elena. Now do you a want ride or not?" She snapped irritably, annoyed that he didn't know who she was.''

Mutely, Damon trekked over to the car and slid inside, shaking his hoodie off his head and running a hand through his brown tresses.

"Thanks" He stated simply, not really sure of what to say in this situation. The last time they had been around one another it had resulted in a shouting match. One he wasn't too eager to relive.

He didn't even want to spend too much time thinking about why she had stopped for him or the fact that she had. He just wanted to rest, and forget about the last 24 hours. Every part of his body was stiff with pain and at the moment that was the only thing that mattered.

Noting his uncharacteristic silence, Elena gazed out at the murky road ahead, trying not to pay attention to how awkward things were now. He was quiet, too quiet. Even his sarcastic wit was preferable to this tense silence.

"Where to?" She asked, attempting to break the quietude.

Damon didn't respond. He didn't know how to. It was embarrassing. What was he supposed to tell the little princess? The truth? That he didn't have a place to stay right now? She would only look down on him even more than she already did now.

Letting down the window, he searched his hoodie for his smokes, locating the carton he took one out and lit it up.

"Wow. So you're just gonna smoke in here without even asking?" Elena laughed incredulously.

"Sorry princess. Mind if I have a smoke?" He countered with a frown.

"Yes! Now put it out "

"Fine" He flicked it out of the window with an exaggerated sigh "Happy now?"

"Besides the fact that you just littered, yes"

"Don't tell me you're one of those green people"

"Then don't ask and I won't," She griped angrily rolling her eyes at him. Why had she even bothered giving him a ride? She didn't even like him.

"Anyways you never told me where you were going"

"Nowhere" He answered automatically.

"What do you mean nowhere? " She complained

"Exactly what I said. Nowhere"

"Well correct me if I'm wrong but how the hell am I supposed to drive to nowhere?" Her voice rose. "You know what this was obviously a mistake, get out" She pulled to a stop.

"Seriously?" He laughed but stopped immediately when he noticed the dark glower on her face.

"I mean it Damon. Get out" Her stanch mask of anger conveying how serious she was.

Angry and tired, Damon undid the seatbelt dramatically. " Fine. Have it your way princess" He snarled bitterly while yanking open the door.

"Fucking unbelievable, why offer me a ride just to kick me out?" He laughed humorlessly, shooting her one last look of outrage before descending down the darkened road.

"No you know what. This is bullshit" He stopped in tracks and turned to her. "You keep making yourself out to be the victim. You knew what you were getting yourself into. No one forced you to do shit"

"And so what that makes it all ok?" She yelled incredulously, exasperation laced in her tone.

"EXACTLY! You're acting like I was your fucking boyfriend or something. We met, we fucked, end of story, it happens everyday princess"

Uninvitingly, The tears began to slide down her cheeks at the cruelty of his words. No matter how true they were it still hurt to hear them out loud. True, it had been intended as a one-night stand but how could he regard it as such after everything they had shared that night? She had opened up to him in ways she hadn't thought imaginable. And for once in her life she had finally felt as though she was talking to someone who understood her. How could it mean so much to her and so little to him? It was daunting. Sure, she knew it happened everyday but damn unrequited feelings were nothing like she would've ever imagined. It hurt. It fucking hurt like nothing else she had ever felt. It was like having your heart ripped out and stepped on. And the only person that could fix it was the one who was so insistent in breaking it.

She knew it was crazy that she should feel this way, and she hated herself for caring this much, she didn't even know why she cared but damn she did. Apart of her longed for him so bad that it scared her. It wasn't love, because she couldn't possibly love someone she barely knew right? But it was something, it was strong, and it pulled at her like nothing ever had before. And to know that she would never get to explore those feelings was like a cruel slap to the face.

"Fuck you" She whispered brokenly, praying that the darkness would hide the revealing tears.

"Too late " He scoffed cruelly.

"Don't remind me it was the worst mistake of my life"

"Poor little rich girl," He mocked " Fucked the big bad, and now she can't twist him around her little finger like everyone else"

"Fuck you! You don't know me, you don't know ANYTHING about me".

"Oh really? I know that the only reason you even gave it up was to piss daddy off, and now you're just looking for a reason to validate your shallow meaningless life. When you're with me I make you feel less guilty right? Maybe even charitable, "

"What! Oh that is bullshit," Elena shrieked in outrage.

"Then what is it huh? You want me to tell you I love you? You want me to be your boyfriend is that it?" Stark silence followed his sentence. Guiltily, Elena stared at him with emotion filled eyes, exposing her hidden truths.

"That's it right? "He laughed as if finally understanding " I hurt your feelings? That's why you're so pissed off? " He shook his head incredulously. "Like I said, you knew what you were getting yourself into. I didn't promise you anything"

"Are you fucking kidding me? The moment you found out I was a virgin you freaked! You treated me like shit! You wouldn't even talk to me except to ask me if I was going to stop crying or not! And then you had the NERVE to call another girl right in front of me. You couldn't even wait for me to get out the c-a-ar" She choked up, swiping viciously at the unwelcomed tears " No I didn't expect you to be my boyfriend but I also didn't expect you to be the biggest asshole I've ever met."

His features softened as he soaked up her words. He hadn't realized just how terrible he had been until she had catalogued all of his wrongs just now. She was right. He was the biggest asshole ever.

"Yeah well that's who I am. I'm selfish. I'm not the good guy. I take what I want. I do what I want. I don't give a fuck about anything, so deal with it," He stated harshly.

"Liar." She laughed sardonically " You're a liar and you fucking know it. You care Damon. Everyone cares about something"

"Well I'd hate to break it to you but the only thing I care about is ME"

"Bullshit. You'd like me to believe that wouldn't you? Because it's just easier that way to pretend that nothing affects you, nothing matters, but some things do matter. You're just too scared to admit it. And that makes you a coward."

"What do you know? Huh! What's the hardest thing you've ever had to deal with? Mommy and daddy ignoring you" He mocked in a sing-song voice "Well guess what some of have real fucking problems " He pointed to his blackened eye. "Some of us don't even have a mommy and daddy to ignore us. Some of us don't even know where we're going to rest our head at night, some of us are actually fucking struggling unlike you".

Comprehension dawned as she took in his words. He was homeless! He hadn't given her his address because it didn't exist. That's why he was so angry, so defensive. He was embarrassed, too ashamed to admit that he didn't have a place to sleep. Suddenly, it all made sense to her. And although it didn't completely exonerate him from his actions, it certainly helped to understand things a little better.

On the one hand she felt bad for him, really. She couldn't imagine a life without shelter, going day-to-day not knowing where you would end the night, sleeping on stiff benches and trying to weather the gruesome elements. But then again, he had been a complete jackass to her. He had mercilessly taken her virginity and casted her aside the moment she hadn't lived up to his expectations. He had been horrible to her. So terrible that she shouldn't feel an ounce of pity for him. But she had always had a bleeding heart that she wore on her shoulder. As a child, she had always brought home wounded animals, battered friends, and all things injured. She liked fixing things. And it was obvious that he was broken. She couldn't resist.

"Where do you live Damon?" She asked softly, her eyes searching his. He shifted uncomfortably under their probing scrutiny, deflecting his gaze to a speck of dust on the gravel road.

"What? It's none of your business you-

"Where do you live Damon?" She cut him off, stepping dangerously close to him and closing some of the space that separated them.

"Why the fuck does it matter mind-"

"Where do you live Damon" She stated more loudly and firmly closing the space that distanced them, a breath away from him.

"No where! " He exploded angrily, his chest rising rapidly with each angry breath he took. "Happy now?" He laughed hoarsely, his eyes glistening with the threat of tears.

"Why didn't you just say so?"

"What do you care? You hate me right"

"How I feel isn't important right now. This is about you"

"Five seconds ago you hated me, now all of a sudden you wanna help me? Well save it. I don't need your pity"

"Good, because I'm not going to give it. I don't feel sorry for you. But I understand."

"You understand?" He laughed disbelievingly.

"Yes. Contrary to what you think my life isn't as perfect as it seems"

"Doubtful" He retorted dubiously, his eyes perusing her expensive clothes and shoes "Highly doubtful".

Elena sighed wearily, feeling more tired than she could ever remember feeling. She was drained. She didn't have any fight left in her. She was sick of arguing with him, and now the revelation of him being homeless had somehow changed things. She didn't forgive him, she didn't know if she ever could. But she did feel sorry for him. And she wanted to help, as someone had once helped her.

"Look I don't wanna fight with you anymore. I get it. You think I'm spoiled and entitled. I think you're an inconsiderate asshole, fine. Think what you want. But I'm trying to help you. I wanna help you. Let me help Damon"

"And how are you gonna help me?"

"Stay at my place tonight" She offered impulsively.

Damon's eyebrows lifted skeptically at her, his gaze full of innuendo.

"Not like that" She rolled her eyes "That's never gonna happen again".

Sighing dejectedly, Damon licked his lips before shaking his head slowly "Yeah ok. I'll stay, but just for tonight," He agreed.

Finally! This update was truly a labor of love. I must've written at least 10-12 drafts and over 60 pages. I'm glad I finally found something I felt would be conducive to the story! I hope you guys enjoy it. I'm off to stay up all night playing sims 3 and watching Orange is the new black! Thanks for being so patient with me and sorry for the ridiculous waiting time! I hate being one of those people that takes MONTHS to update but WRITERS block is a bitch!