Set during 2.22 - The Sun Also Rises, during the sacrifice. Does not change any of the events, but is a brief Damon/Elena moment.

We all know that Damon only lets Elena see his real self, right? Many thanks to This Is My Escape (Kate) for her help. -MLL

Dpov

Bonnie, Elijah and I have arrived at Stevens Quarry just in time to see Klaus stake my brother and then snap his neck. He said he has other plans for Stefan, but I know it was simply because he is a sadistic bastard and he is trying to break Elena. I can tell she's held it together pretty well to this point, but the mask is starting to slip.

As Jenna dies, when the terror that was roiling just beneath the surface finally breaks free, Elena's screams and cries nearly undo me, and it is all I can do to stay out of sight. Thankfully Stefan comes to and the StrongSacrificeHerselfForEve ryone Elena manages to push the horror down and slip the mask back on. I hear her ask him if the plan was still in play, that there was a reason for this whole horrible ordeal, and see her resolve strengthen when Stefan whispered, "Yes."

It is almost a beautiful thing to watch, as she refused Klaus' hand and walked with the presence of a queen to the altar to wait for the inevitable. She looks so strong and brave, but I know that she's barely holding it together. When his lips touch her neck, I close my eyes and do the only thing I can think of to do for her. I give her a time out...

The fire and smoke shift around us and became a beautiful spring day. We were sitting on the banks of the river and I'm tossing pebbles into the water. "I don't know about you but it was getting a little intense back there. It's much better here."

"Back there? Here?" she asked. "Damon, where are we?"

"I couldn't stand what was going on back there any more so I brought you here." I shook my head to clear it of the scene that was really playing out.

"Here? Where is here?" Elena huffed. "Please don't tell me you've gone and saved me again." She looked around. "What have you DONE, Damon?!"

She moved to stand and I put a hand on her arm. "Keep your pants on, O Sanctimonious One Who Has to Die for Everyone Else." I said snarkily. "Your body is still there," - I gestured off somewhere- "…and Klaus is still draining your blood, and you're still gonna DIE for all of those stupidly noble reasons you so tenaciously cling to." I looked out at the river and softened. "I saw you were going to lose it and know you'd hate that, so I'm giving you a Time Out. Think of it as your mind is taking a last minute vacation. You can be mad all you want, but I'm not going to apologize,"

She looked at me suspiciously. "Time out?"

I rolled my eyes and threw the rest of the pebbles clear across the river with a sigh. "Look, Elena. Even though neither of us has said it out loud, you know how I feel. It is KILLING me to have to watch what is happening back there. You already hate me for forcing you to take my blood so I figured why not go for broke and mess with your mind." I looked away. "Anyway, it isn't like you'll forget this because I compel you to; your mind will choose to or not. It is a dream. Some you remember, many you don't."

Elena's eyes darkened as her anger grew. "I can't decide what to be more pissed off about. The fact that you are messing with my brain, which you KNOW I hate, or the fact that you picked this place for my last seconds on earth. Sure, it is a nice sunny day, but really? Not my choice by a long shot."

I shook my head wryly. "Yeah, I guess not. You'd pick some romantic love nest with Stefan..." I swallowed thickly. "I can give you any dream you want Elena. If that's what you want..." I didn't look away quickly enough as my face gave away my emotion.

She was quiet for a moment and I felt her body relax a little. "No, that wasn't on my list of Dreams to Have While Dying, but thanks. This is fine." She bumped me with her shoulder. She looked around again. "I know this place, I think. I've been here hundreds of times to hang out with friends and swim, but it looks different. I don't remember the gazebo and there are a lot more trees. What is this place?"

"First, time isn't the same here as it is out there. What takes a few seconds out there can be minutes or hours here. Whatever the dream needs, the dream takes." I stood and pulled her to her feet, and led her to the gazebo. There, on one of the benches, was my favorite book, The Call of the Wild. I picked it up and ran my fingers gently along the spine, and looked at her intently. "You asked me once where I was the happiest when I was human...before Katherine." She nodded. "It was here." I pointed off to the left. "Back there was the house, all of the responsibilities of being the firstborn son, and my father who hated me. But here..." I closed my eyes as I allowed myself to remember things I hadn't thought of in 158 years. "Here I could lose myself. In books, or fishing, or swimming..." later kissing a pretty girl or two... I looked down at her. "Here, I was happy."

She smiled. "You know, this place is sort of the same thing for me too. Here, I have been care free and happy. Sort of a same thing different day, right?" She took the book from me and set it back on the bench, frowning as her eyes clouded with concern. "Your father hated you? I knew you didn't get along but you've never said that."

I sighed. "My father...was complicated, and unpleasant." I shook my head lightly to clear the memories. "There's enough of that in our lives at this moment. Let's skip that." She nodded and we walked along the river for a bit.

She stumbled, and when I caught her, I noticed her hands were getting cold, and she was getting pale. I picked her up in my arms and she laid her head on my shoulder. "I think Time Out may be over, Damon," she said softly.

"There's still time," I said. "Where would you like to go now?"

She thought for a second or two, and then said, "I want to be safe. You've shown me where you were the happiest, now show me where you felt the safest." I nodded, and the scenery swirled around us once more. We were lying in my bed, surrounded by pillows and the warmth of a fire in the huge fireplace. "Really, Damon? You feel safest in your bed? I thought you were trying to be sweet and you're just...just Damon instead."

She huffed as she tried to move away but I pulled her back down to my arms. "Wait, Elena." I said softly. "I promise. This isn't me being me…Well it is, but not that way. It's a memory." I gestured to the bed we were lying on. "This isn't my bed and we aren't in my room. Look." My own eyes were glued to something across the room.

Elena followed my gaze and gasped, for standing at the foot of the bed was a beautiful woman with raven black hair and the clearest blue eyes. The woman smiled at me, and my heart ached at how much I still missed her so very much. "Damon?" Elena whispered. "She looks like you - I mean you look like her. Is she…is she your mother?" I could only nod, as a tear made its way down my cheek.

My mother walked around to where I lay, and brushed her fingers through my hair as she sat on the bed next to me. "Hush, baby. It's only a little thunder. The storm will be over soon." She glanced over at the window, where the rain was pelting the glass. "Do you want to sleep here tonight?" I nodded, and she smiled at me again. "All right, but don't tell your father," she said conspiratorially. "He thinks that now that you're 5, you're big enough to sleep by yourself in your own room." She leaned over to kiss my forehead and rubbed my nose with hers. "I have to go be a proper hostess now, but you stay here, safe and secure in my bed. I'll come check on you later." I nodded again. "Always remember - I love you, my darling boy."

"I love you too, Mama," I murmured as we watched her disappear through the door.

I looked down to see Elena looking at me with wide eyes. "What? I may be a monster, but I did love my mother," I said quietly. "Here was where I felt safe and loved. No matter what I did or what I said, I knew my mother loved me unconditionally and I could always come to her." I swallowed thickly again. "It was after...after she died that things changed."

"I get it now," said Elena quietly. "You look just like her. Your father hated you because you reminded him of her. Oh Damon, I'm so sorry." Tears welled in her eyes.

I blinked and laughed sadly. "Wow, THIS idea sucked. I gave you a time out so you wouldn't think about how awful things are and ended up making you cry. Damon does it again. Yay me."

She frowned and shook her head, reaching up to put her hand on my face and wiped a tear away. "Oh, no, Damon, no. Please don't." She smiled through her tears, again trying to be the strong one. "It was perfect. I was scared, and I asked you to take me somewhere safe. You gave me your mother's love, which is something I don't have any more. This was more precious than anything anyone has ever given me. Please don't feel bad. I loved it." I nodded and closed my eyes as a pressed my forehead to hers. After a few moments, she said, "Damon? I'm getting really tired." Her hand fell away from my face, landing gently on her chest.

I pulled her close, knowing the dream had to end now. "It's okay, Elena. Go to sleep. I'll see you on the other side. You're safe. I've got you. I've always got you."

She snuggled into my chest and I heard the faintest whisper as the scene swirled back to the fires and the altar and the horror of seeing her lifeless body drop from Klaus' arms. I know it is horrible of me, to smile, as I stand, watching - no, ALLOWING all of this to play out before me, but I am giving myself a small time out, as I remember, that for one short moment, whether she ever remembers it or not (and she probably won't, because it will never be my time), she loves me.

I have been following with _ThisIsMyEscape after reading one of her awesome fics and saw this just today, after I'd written the above. WOW.

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