Previously in Barely a Memory:
"Please," Elena said brokenly, "fix him. Please, just let Stefan go. I'll do whatever you want."
"You are going to come with us and get us closer to this cure. I'll lie and say that you both got away, and I'll let you say your goodbyes before you come back." Elena hung her head, her tears hitting the floor, but she nodded. "If you don't return, I'll kill him."
"Elysia said the link takes a good twenty four hours to break."
"I don't blame you for breaking the link. I would have done the same thing if your life was at risk," Stefan finally assured her, though it did not make her feel much better. His eyes burned into hers, replete with a chilling look of love and sadness and loss. There was no anger. Not like she'd expected. "I'm just so terrified that I'm going to wake up tomorrow and not feel like this. That you're not going to feel like this." He gestured to the empty space between them. "Once it's fully broken… I'm scared, Elena."
The next morning, she still loved him. God, how she still loved him. She loved him no less than she had yesterday. And he loved her. He loved her just as he always had.
I woke up this morning and a part of me seemed to be gone. When I looked over at you, I felt nothing. I'm not sure what this feeling is, but I do know one thing: the link is broken and I do not love you anymore.
The lies were rushing from the pen to the paper and Elena sure hoped her tears wouldn't stain the page too much.
And with that, she left town, afraid to look back.
2 Years Later…
He would never get used to that sound.
Didn't he just go to sleep? Wait, no… When did he go to sleep? The previous evening was a complete and total blur, and if his raging headache wasn't any indication as to the type of night he'd had, the girl beside him in his bed surely was. Wait. Girl beside him?
Stefan groaned and quickly threw his arm over his eyes, blindly reaching for the snooze button on his alarm clock. "I am never drinking again," he grumbled to himself, aggravated with the relentless jack hammering on his brain.
The girl giggled a bit and turned her body so that she was now facing him, an amused grin playing at the corners of her lips. "I'm pretty sure you say that every time," she observed. "Don't worry, broody. Nothing happened. You seem to forget that you're a cuddly drunk."
Moving his arm just slightly to peek at her, he sent her a raging glare. "I'm in so much pain."
"I, on the other hand, do not get hangovers," she stated with a grin.
Genuinely furious with that fact, Stefan sighed out in dramatic frustration. "I hate you so much."
"No you don't," she quipped as she sat up, her head against his headboard. She appeared to be far too comfortable with being in his bed, not that he really minded. Her being there was much better than the alternative. He hated sleeping alone. More than anything. "You love me, Bitch."
Stefan couldn't help but chuckle at her choice of wording, though he quickly regretted it when his laughter only seemed to make his headache even sharper. His snicker faded to yet another groan. "Ugh… I have to get to Biology." He winced at the thought of surviving through class in this state. Surely, he'd have to wear sunglasses.
"Just skip." She shrugged.
Now, he removed his arm, raising both eyebrows. "Skip? Are you kidding me?" he snapped. "How am I supposed to get into medical school if I just skip because of a hangover?" Stressed –as he so often was-, Stefan ran both hands over his face. "Jesus, Caroline. I'm not a freshman anymore."
"Breathe, Stefan. Breathe," she said calmly. "Harvard is going to accept you. They'd be crazy not to." Comfortingly, she placed her hand on his shoulder softly, sinking back into the pillow. He got so stressed sometimes over such simple things. He worried her sometimes, he did. Stefan Salvatore was easily the most astute pre-med student at Whitmore, only a sophomore taking all senior classes. Of course, he achieved these goals by working hard, by burying himself in work and giving himself hardly any time to just exhale. The summer and semesters and breaks blurred together for Stefan. Honestly, Caroline was glad she actually managed to get him to party last night. She really only ever saw Stefan smile nowadays when he was drunk. Which was a shame. He had a nice smile.
Elena took his smile with her when she left, and since Stefan never had found her, he never found it. Two years, and he never really did find it.
"Why did I let you take me to that party last night? Why?" he croaked.
"Because," she huffed, reaching to the drawer on the left and grabbing her phone, "I was not going to let you sit around and mope all night."
Furrowing his eyebrows, Stefan made sure to avoid eye contact when he asked, "Why would I mope?"
Caroline shot him an annoyed "don't lie to me" glare. "You really want me to say it?"
She crossed her arms over her chest angrily. "It's been exactly two years since Elena Gilbert left your sorry ass behind."
Stefan shrugged his shoulders. "I completely forgot."
Now a bit aggravated, Caroline threw her hands up in the air. "Sure you did."
Stefan sighed and rolled over in bed so that he could slowly get himself into a sitting position. "I told you, Caroline," he said slowly, bringing his hands up to his face, his voice scratchy from sleep, "I'm done with her." Stefan exhaled deeply and trudged his way out of bed. He really did not feel like discussing this.
"That's not what you said last night." As soon as Caroline finished speaking, he cringed in embarrassment. He didn't even want to know what he'd said.
Despite his horrible headache, Stefan rushed out into the bathroom. He couldn't stand Caroline's incredulous gaze any longer. "It doesn't matter. I'm over her. I've been over her for two years," he yelled while staring into the mirror.
"That explains why you've had commitment issues ever since she left," she replied sarcastically with a scoff.
He sighed for what felt like the thousandth time. There was no doubt that he, in fact, had not stayed in a relationship for more than a few months since he'd been left behind by his supposed true love. There were a few girls who he could see himself with, sure, but none of them really managed to fill that void in his heart. During freshman year there was Victoria, a good friend of his from Philosophy class who had developed feelings after hearing him vent about Elena night after night. She'd told him that she'd never met someone so sensitive and helped him get over the breakup. He kissed her once, too, and it was fine—no sparks, but there was no doubt it made him a little hopeful. She, however, was already set up to transfer to a school in California, and when she left at the end of the semester, Stefan did not bother to keep in touch. He felt too guilty to call her back, and he wasn't totally sure why.
And that summer there was Kari for about a month. She was great in bed… Not as great as her though, but then again, no one ever would be. Caroline always said that Kari was corrupting Stefan with her constant partying and explosive personality. Stefan, on the other hand, did not mind being corrupted one bit. It was a great distraction. The Kari days were great and fun and helped him to feel alive again, but his affection for her ended there. Not to mention the fact that after the first summer night that they slept in the same bed, he showered for an entire hour, trying to wipe her trace off of his skin until Caroline told him over and over again through the bathroom door that he'd done nothing wrong.
And Stefan knew, deep in the pit of his chest, that both of these women had been nothing but attempted tools to help him move on. Victoria had his mind and his heart for a sweet, ephemeral moment. Kari had his body and everything that Victoria didn't. The problem was that he couldn't find someone to hold every part of him anymore. To balance out his good and evil and his flaws and attributes. "I haven't found the right person," he answered finally.
"No. You haven't found Elena."
"I don't want Elena." He ran cold water over his face. Please, just drop it, Caroline. Drop it, drop it, drop it.
"You're telling me that if she walked through those doors right now and was magically in love with you again…"
"Caroline," he said firmly, coming out of the bathroom with his lips in a firm line. "I'm over her. I only really knew her for a few months." He slowly walked over to the closet, his shoulders hunched with anger as he grabbed whatever shirt his hand hit first. Those few, rocky months had been the best of his life. "I'm not a seventeen year old, memory-less idiot anymore. I've made new memories and I don't need Elena. I wouldn't want the relationship we had anyways. We were far too dependent on each other."
"But you weren't!" She argued. "You let her make her own decisions and she let you. You were perfect, Stefan."
"And now she doesn't love me," he commented curtly. "Nothing can change that. And I stopped waiting for her to magically change her mind years ago."
Caroline frowned and internally cursed herself for even bringing it up. "So…"
"So I'm done waiting. I've been done." He threw the shirt over his head, almost completely forgetting about his hangover. "If she came through that door right now, I would not go back to her."
Elena's heels clicked across the pavement as she walked outside of the Florida bar, the man behind her practically salivating as he followed her, paying close attention to the confident sway of her hips. She reached behind her, a gentle grin forming on her red, painted lips when he took her hand. "You do stuff like this often?" she asked, her back to him.
He chuckled. "Nah, you're a special case, babe."
"Hmm," she said. "You sure knew how to charm me." She giggled and finally turned to reveal her grin as she gripped him by the collar and pushed her lips to his roughly. He returned the kiss with sloppy fervor as she pushed him to the wall of the ally, her hands pressed against his torso. This went on for a few minutes, just as Elena had suspected it would, until she pulled away, "Wait," she panted, leaning back, just inches from his lips. "I have a question."
"Anything," he breathed, staring down at the space between them.
"Did you really think you could lure me out here to kill me?" Before he could even register what she had said, Elena took a small step back. Within a split second, she had reached into her jacket and pulled out something –a wooden stake-, plunging it deep into his stomach. He shouted out in pain and reached to pull it out, but she only twisted it deeper, which in return made him yell out in pain again. "You mentioned the cure to vampirism in there. What do you know about it?"
"I… don't… I don't know anything," he gasped. Elena gritted her teeth and twisted it deeper. "How'd you know I was a vampire?"
She chuckled, a dark, jaded sound that resonated from somewhere deep in her throat. "It's a skill." After all, she had spent the past year perfecting this: killing vampires, sensing a vampire's gaze, fighting a vampire. Ever since she'd killed the vampires who had taken her from Stefan, she'd been unstoppable. "Now tell me what you know."
"I'll tell you if you don't kill me, please," he begged, pain-stricken.
"I know that there's two humans right now who hold the key. One was resurrected from the dead. I don't… I don't know how. I've just… I've heard things." He coughed in pain and Elena loosened her grip. "There's rumors about them. Whoever kills them, drains them of their blood, gets the cure. Apparently the… dead one's got these… abilities. No one knows."
This incident from the previous night played over and over again in Elena's head as she drove up into her hometown. The "Welcome to Mystic Falls" sign filled her with so much nostalgia that she almost had to pull over and catch her bearings. She'd spent the past year of her life trying to fill her void through hunting, but now… Now, it was all coming back to her.
She lived here. Died here. Lost her parents here. Fell in love here. Fell out of love here.
Elena could already feel tears stinging at her eyes. She'd found everything and lost everything in this quaint little town. She hadn't seen Stefan Salvatore's face for two years, and she was pretty sure that she'd been suffering from withdrawals every single day.
For her, there had been no one after Stefan. There was no need to move on, no one to move on to. All she wanted was him, and every time she found herself in the kiss of a stranger, she only ended up closing her eyes and thinking about him, trying to make herself feel his soft, strong arms around her, trying to make herself smell his manly, comforting scent of leather and clouds. Some nights, when she felt especially lonely, she would ask vampires if they once knew him before she killed them; they never did. Maybe if one did know Stefan, she'd let him go.
She closed her eyes and saw his green ones. Every night. She heard his voice in the silence, heard his broken words through the phone. "I wasn't enough," he once said. "I wasn't enough."
All she wanted was to heal his wounds, see if he was okay. She wanted to fix everything, find him and hold him close. Keep him safe from this new supposed threat that was the blood coursing through his veins.
But more than anything, all Elena wanted to do was see his face and stare into his green eyes again. Her entire body literally ached for it.
When she pulled up to the Salvatore boarding house, her heart was racing. She ran out of the car and rushed to the door, knocking three times. She waited a few seconds and was getting ready to knock again when it swung open. She stopped breathing, so excited to finally lay eyes on…
She had to admit, her heart deflated a little.
His eyes immediately widened in shock. "Elena…," he said slowly, completely surprised. He looked the same as he always had, except his hair had gotten a little longer. He was strangely tense in her presence and it hurt. It hurt a lot that he did not immediately wrap his arms around her, though she couldn't blame him, really. "What are you doing here?"
"I, uh… I was looking for Stefan."
He looked her over, head to toe for a while to note any changes. She noticed that he did not step aside to let her in. His posture was still stiff. "He's not here."
"Where is he?" she questioned, still smiling, trying to stay polite despite her sudden rushed heartbeat.
Damon stayed straight faced. "It's been two years, Elena."
She wasn't quite sure how to respond. Damon was being so cold, so distant… "Is he okay?" she asked, suddenly feeling a cold, dreaded rush of panic run through her entire body. Oh, god. If something had happened to Stefan, if Stefan had died thinking she didn't love him, if she wasn't even there to say goodbye… Why did no one have the decency to invite her to the funeral? She was going to kill them, kill all of them for not telling her…
She felt like she was going to pass out. She reached for something to grab, her breathing suddenly speeding up. Damon stepped out on the porch and grabbed her shoulders roughly. "He's fine! Stefan's fine. Ok? He's fine."
His words sent a wave of relief through her. "He is?" she repeated, trying to recover from her near panic attack.
"Yes. He's in college. Again. Even though he doesn't remember the first five times." There it was. There was some of that Damon snark she remembered so well. Elena nodded slowly until she made a sudden realization in Damon's words.
"He chose not to remember?"
"Yup," he confirmed, finally stepping aside near the door to let Elena in. She cautiously made her way inside, staring around. The Salvatore mansion hadn't changed at all. It seemed to be the only thing that hadn't. "Burned all his journals, too."
She frowned at that. "Because of me."
Damon said nothing.
There was a long silence, and she felt tempted to ask how he'd been, if he was still with Katherine, but she decided against it. She wanted to explain herself, too, but no words would come out. "What's he doing in college?"
Damon narrowed his eyes, crossing his arms over his chest. "What are you doing here, Elena?"
She was hurt by his harsh attitude towards her. "I heard more news about the cure."
He rolled his eyes. "That's still an issue? It's been two years!"
"I really need to find Stefan," she pleaded, staring into his eyes, just as blue as always, feeling desperate. "I know you don't understand. And I know you hate me because I destroyed him, or maybe you hate me for hurting you, but please, Damon, I need you to tell me where he is."
Stefan walked through the Whitmore campus, a pile of books on his arm and a phone squeezed between his shoulder and neck. "No, Caroline," he chuckled. "I don't have an issue with the fact that you like Titanic. I have an issue with the fact that you expect me to watch it with you." There was a brief pause as she replied on the other end, something about it being a classic. "You're a drama major. Shouldn't you be watching movies with decent acting?" He continued to walk, trying to pay attention to balancing the books, not running into people, and listening to his babbling friend. "Yes, I guess that Leonardo DiCaprio is—" Wait a minute. Who did he just pass?
He stopped in his tracks, frozen when he recognized her, no more than a foot away. She was stopped as well, her brown eyes filling with something he could not discern. That was a face he'd recognize anywhere. He knew this girl. She looked a little different, older, but yes, that was definitely her. That was her. And it made no sense. His heart nearly hit the floor.
"I'm going to have to call you back," he said quickly before hanging up the phone, trying to swallow the lump in his throat. There were far too many emotions running through his mind in this moment and he had absolutely no way to identify each and every one of them.
"Hi, Elena," was all that he could muster.
Things You Learn in College:
Make sure your alarm clock has back-up batteries.
Showers become less important.
Sleep becomes more important.
Frat parties are exactly like they are in the movies.
You never realized so many people are smarter than you.
You never realized so many people are dumber than you.
The longer you're there, the less you talk about home.
- Keith Lipke, The Hope Chest
AN: Hello! I'm back, except I'm not sure how speedy these updates will be. This is the first chapter of Part 2! Yay! As you can see, there's been a time jump. How much has Stefan really changed and will he take Elena back? Does he WANT her back, or has she hurt him far too much? If only he knew! Will she explain it to him?
I hope you enjoyed. I'm not too sure how I feel about this because I had serious writer's block, but please let me know if you think it's worth continuing. Please tell me what you loved, what you hated, and any additional thoughts. Every review means the world to me!
Thank you! Xoxo