Hellos again! Well, finals are over so I have a few weeks to write more! This is Elena's take on the break up, and a few cameos :) D/E will share a few scenes in the next chapter. Do you think we can be crazy bold and get to 400 reviews with this chapter? Yeah, me neither... but how about 375? As an early Christmas/birthday present?

Disclaimer: I do not own The Vampire Diaries, the characters, or their likenesses. No copyright infringement intended.

The six-block walk back to her house was the coldest and loneliest Elena had ever felt. There were a few times that day when she'd been immersed in shelving books and reading through some of the new arrivals at the store that she'd let herself forget about Damon. She'd let herself forget about his blue eyes and the way his voice frosted his sarcastic comments in such rich velvet that she wanted to listen to him talk forever. She knew all along that she had been reckless in letting herself fall for him so quickly but she didn't care. She loved him. He appeared in her life in a time when she needed someone just like him; when she needed someone to let her be reckless.

All of the strength she had built up throughout the day ground into dust when she saw him leaning against the door of his Camaro. The way his voice brokenly tripped over her name was nearly her undoing. She wanted nothing more than to wrap him in a warm hug and press her lips against his. A part of her was okay with being second chair to Rose's ghost; she knew it wouldn't take much to convince herself that he loved her as much as she loved him. And that same part of her was okay with living a lie, as long as he remained her beautiful lie.

It didn't take long for New Elena to slap that notion right out of her mind. New Elena screamed that she was done living illusions. She was done convincing herself of things that simply weren't. She was done living for other people and doing things to make other people happy. She had abandoned everything she'd ever known in Boston for the opportunity to lead a genuine and honest life for the first time ever. She just didn't expect that genuine and honest would hurt so damn badly.

A smile broke across her face when she saw a black SUV parked in her driveway and the lights in her living room leaking through her new curtains. The moment she opened her front door a cloud of warmth and the smell of fresh lasagna cooling on the kitchen counter swaddled her in a welcoming embrace. There was a fire crackling in the fireplace and pithy football commentary was echoing off the walls in the living room. She smiled at the neat row of olive drab boots lined up by the door.

"I'd better call the police, I think I'm being robbed by the world's most considerate thieves!" she called out lightheartedly as she shed her jacket and scarf in the foyer.

"Does this town even have a police a department?" an equally happy voice responded and in a flash Elena was throwing her arms around Kol's neck and leaping into his open arms. "I'm only half kidding about the police department. You certainly aren't in Kansas anymore, Dorothy," he chuckled as he set her back down on the carpet.

"I like it here!" Elena giggled and brushed the wrinkles out of Kol's t-shirt.

"Yeah its great if you fancy banks without ATMs and patchy 4G," he answered with a clear note of sarcasm in his voice.

"I guess it is a little different than home."

"Worlds away sweetheart. Worlds. Excellent Danishes though," Kol compromised. Elena giggled because she could just imagine how out-of-place Kol and Jeremy must have seemed strutting into Mystic Bakery and inadvertently interrupting the weekly Historical Society meeting.

"Did you guys have any problems finding the house?"

"Nope, believe it or not that lady at the bakery saw Jer's debit card and asked if we were visiting you and told us exactly where to go. He's around here someone, probably sexting Bonnie again."

"Kol! That is my little brother and best friend. Ew!"

"If only you knew that half of it…" Kol smirked at Elena's disgusted expression. "Come on, there are some people here for you to meet. We kind of emptied the dorms and brought some friends with us. Jer didn't think you'd mind too much."

"Mi casa, su casa and su friend's casa," Elena laughed as Kol lead her to the living room with his warm hand on the small of her back. Three young men, all about Jeremy's, age were sprawled out on the sofa and armchairs engrossed in a game on TV. Kol cleared his throat and they all looked his direction, instantly straightening their posture when they saw Elena.

"Alright gents, here's our generous host: Elena. Elena, this is Luka Martin, Marcel Gerard, Aaron Whitmore, and…"

"Doctor Brady Williams," the fourth man cut in as he kissed the back of Elena's hand chivalrously but the look in his eye as he raked over Elena's figure was anything but chivalrous. He was handsome, but Elena couldn't help but notice that he didn't have blue eyes and his hair was too short.

"Back off Doc, she's got a boyfriend," Kol joked and put his arm around Elena's shoulder just in time to feel her tense at the word boyfriend. "How about a drink for Little Gil, gentleman?" he suggested to break the tension that was no doubt building in Elena's head. She sighed in relief at the ease with which Kol could read her and she was grateful he was by her side.

"Let me guess," Brady offered enthusiastically and looked at Elena critically. "Tequila sunrise?"

"Anything but bourbon," Elena smiled and Brady disappeared into the kitchen to mix her drink. "Nice to meet you all."

"Nice to mate you, too. I mean meet you. Nice to meet you!" the blonde man whom Kol had introduced as Aaron stuttered, drawing snickers from Luka and Marcel. "Shut up assholes," Aaron snapped in their direction, only making them laugh harder.

"Cretins," Kol muttered shaking his head. Brady had returned with her drink and she swallowed it down in a few gulps, drawing a concerned look from Kol who was about to mutter something about slowing down.

"Lena!" Jeremy shouted as he snuck up behind her and spun her around roughly. "Surprise!"

"Aw, Jer Bear, you're so drunk," Elena giggled and patted her brother's cheek patronizingly.

"So drunk, but you aren't," Jeremy frowned. "Where's the fun in that? Someone get my sister another drink! And get me another beer! Trust me sis you're going to need it around these guys."

"Now that you're back from chatting with your mysterious lady friend, Gilbert, let's get started with this Pictionary tournament! I call whoever is the best artist!" Marcel exclaimed.

"That'd be me, of course," Jeremy answered confidently as he set up the easel.

"I've got Kol, as usual!" Elena squealed as she jumped onto the armrest of the sofa next to him. Emboldened by a few beers and Elena's enthusiasm Kol gave her knee a gentle squeeze and let his hand linger on her thigh.

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"What the fuck?!" Marcel shouted, waving his hands around violently. "How is that a fucking horse?!"

"It's not dumbass," Jeremy shot back. "It's a biscuit! See," the younger Gilbert emphasized pointing to his eye drawing. "Biscuit. Seabiscuit!"

"How the fuck am I supposed to know what a biscuit looks like?!" Marcel groaned as Luka marked another tally against their team. "You should have just drawn the fucking horse!"

"How the fuck am I supposed to know that you don't know what a biscuit looks like?!" Jeremy scoffed and tossed the marker to Brady.

"Come on Gilbert we can't all live with One Direction over here," Aaron laughed pointing in Kol's direction. "We don't all get biscuits with our high tea."

"I'm offended by the insinuation that I am English. There's only like half a globe of difference. And for the record, it really doesn't look like a biscuit."

"Seriously Whitmore, Kiwi Kol never could have been a hobbit extra is he was English," Luka guffawed, taking a healthy drink of his beer.

"Still wrong. Elena, do you mind offering these yokels a geography lesson?" Kol asked with faux propriety.

"Kol is a true blue Sydneysider. My brother from Down Under," she squealed as he pulled her onto him lap.

"Sydneyside? Never heard of it," Brady shrugged, knowing how sensitive Kol could get about his hometown; his nationality was a long-running joke among the men in the unit, he'd woken up to stuffed kangaroos in his bed and Vegemite on his toothbrush more times than he'd ever admit.

"Quite alright mate, I wouldn't expect someone who graduated last in his class to," Kol fired back, drawing a bark of laughter from Jeremy.

"Second to last, and I'm still a doctor, nurse Michaels," Brady smirked.

"This is getting a little too kinky for my taste," Aaron grimaced reaching for a handful of popcorn.

"That's what she said… except not because the last thing a woman said to Whitmore was 'L-O-L'," Jeremy pointed out.

"Women like a man who can make them laugh. Isn't that right, Elena?" Aaron asked with his mouthful. Elena stopped laughing long enough to wipe the tears from her eyes.

"He has a point," Elena admitted.

"Suck it, Gilbert," Aaron said with a middle finger thrown to Jeremy, which was quickly returned by the younger Gilbert.

"Who wants a refill?" Elena asked standing up to gather a few empty beer bottles from the coffee table.

"I'll help," Brady announced and jumped off the couch to take a few of the bottles from Elena's burdened hands. Had she not been concentrating on not dripping beer on her carpet she would have seen the knowing look that her brother and Kol exchanged at Brady's offer.

"You have a lovely home, Elena," Brady said as he leaned against the counter and shamelessly watched Elena bend over to pull more drinks out of the refrigerator.

"It's a rental, but thanks," Elena responded unaware that she was being fully appraised.

"Thanks for having us all over," Brady said sincerely and pushed himself off of the counter. "It's nice to get out into the real world once in a while."

"I'm glad you could all make it," Elena answered and nearly dropped the box of beer cans she was holding when she turned around and almost collided with Brady, who was much closer to her than before.

"So your boyfriend is ok with this?" he asked in a low voice and took the box from her hands and set it on the counter.

"Uh… what do you mean?" Elena stuttered, trying to shrink herself against the cool metal of the refrigerator as Brady closed the already-minimal space between them.

"It's just that if I had a girlfriend as beautiful as you, there's no way in hell I'd be ok with leaving her alone at night."
"Lena! Are you brewing the beer yourself?!" Jeremy shouted from the living room, giving Elena enough of a distraction to slip out from between Brady and the refrigerator.

"Sorry, patience was never his strong suit," she smiled awkwardly at Brady, hoping to dissipate the tension in the room. She grabbed the box of cans and rushed back out into the living room. She passed out fresh drinks and excused herself for a few moments.

Brady's words shouldn't have affected her as much as they did, but the truth of the matter was that if she and Damon were still together he would have been there with her. He would have been throwing back beers with Jeremy, Kol, and their friends, he would have had his arm around her, and probably would have kissed her indiscreetly when he though Jeremy wasn't looking. It hurt because she knew that Brady was right, if Damon was her boyfriend there was no way in hell he'd leave her alone at night. The revelation only served to highlight how much she truly missed Damon.

3 3 3

"Sad and pining is not your best look, Little Gil," Kol joked as he sat down on the porch swing next to her and handed her a cup of piping hot coffee.

"Who said I was sad and pining?" Elena tried to smile, but the gesture fell horribly flat under Kol's concerned gaze.

"Well you ditched your Pictionary partner and you're huddled all alone out on the patio when it's forty degrees outside. You've always hated the cold." Kol pointed out as he unfolded the flannel blanket he found in her hallway closet to drape over her shoulders.

"Damon and I broke up," Elena muttered miserably.

"What did he do?" he asked, on instant alert and looking like he was ready to hunt Damon down and rip his heart out.

"Why do you assume it was him?" Elena asked with a humorless laugh.

"Because there's nothing you could do that would be so bad for someone to leave."

"Matt did."

"Matt's an idiot. Obviously."

"They can't both be idiots."

"Can so," Kol replied matter-of-factly. They settled into a comfortable silence and Elena rested her head on his shoulder.

"If you love somebody, and I mean really love them, do you think it's possible to move on?" she asked shyly.

"What are you getting after?"

"Do you think it's possible to fall in love twice?"

"I don't know," Kol answered and shifted a little uncomfortably.

"Have you ever been in love?"


"I'm serious, Kol!"

"Ok, fine. Yes, I have."

"But you're single."

"Astute observation, no wonder you're the author of the family," he joked and pinched her side lightly.

"So what happened to her?"

"Eh, you know, she moved on to bigger and better things."

"Did you get over her?"

"Not even a little bit."

"Do you think you will someday?"

"I don't know if I'd want to."

"So it's not possible then?"

"I think that you don't know what love really and truly is until you find it; even if you think you've got it all figured out all it takes is one amazing person to come in and change everything you thought you knew."

"Now you're just trying to make me feel better."

"I'm a healer, Lena, what can I say?"

"Noble Kol, mender of bullet holes and broken hearts," she giggled cheerfully and rested her head back on his shoulder.

"Are you scared?"

"Of what?"


"We're going to be in a hospital kilometers away from the bad stuff, Lena. We probably won't even be able to hear it from our post. The worst part is going to be the food, I hear it's bloody awful. I worked so hard for this gorgeous physique and I'm going to come back all waif-like and frail." Kol smiled brightly when he felt Elena tremble with a small giggle against his shoulder. Another comfortable silence fell over them and she shifted slightly in his arms to inconspicuously wipe at the small tears that were gathering around her eyes. "I'm sorry about Damon, by the way."

"It's okay," she sighed and sniffled slightly.

"If he can't see what he's got then he doesn't deserve you. There's someone out there who would hang the stars for you, Lena."

"Thank you."

"I'm glad you guys all came."

"Me too," Kol agreed and kissed her forehead.

A/N: What did you think? Whaaat? Something is up with Kol, you say? Perhaps... perhaps not (*evil laugh*). So how about it... 375 reviews? Pretty please :)

~XOXO Anna