Summary: A life for a life and what happens after.
Word Count: 5,477
Spoilers: Vague references to various episodes throughout both seasons up to 2.08 ("Rose").
Notes: This was written for the lovely linsell_farm, who bid on a fic from me for help_japan. I hope you like this, hun! :)
I'd like to thank my awesome buds, Adrienne, Tamara, Vickie, Molly and Julie for cheerleading and helping me through it. Your help and support was much appreciated.
The flames rose quickly. In just a few seconds, the house was a mass of charring ash and bright orange. Elena held onto Stefan, agony etched into every line of her face. Damon looked from her to the building on fire, calculating his odds. Tears rained down her cheeks as her breath hitched. And then she looked over at him for just a second, desperation in her eyes, and he decided that the odds didn't matter. Without a word, he zoomed into the flaming home, barely hearing Stefan and Alaric's shouts and Elena's cry as he located the unconscious Jeremy on the floor.
Damon bent down to pick him up, and a chair to his right crashed apart as a column collapsed and sent splinters flying. Several of them pierced him, felling him, but it was the gigantic piece of wood that lodged itself in his thigh that caused him to yell out in pain. After a few moments, he began to work on pulling out the splinters, big and small. As he did, he heard a crack in the ceiling above him and knew that he wouldn't have time to remove them all, heal, and get Jeremy out of there alive. He glanced towards the open door, heard another slight crack and with a grimace made his decision. Yanking the wood out from his thigh, he bit back another yell, rose to his feet and grabbed Jeremy. With a heave he threw him out into the cool air, before falling to his knees again.
Landing with a loud thump, Jeremy remained unconscious. Elena ran forward, but her gaze kept returning to the building every few seconds. She knelt before her brother, breathlessly calling his name. Feeling for a pulse, she found one, and then held his hand in hers, reassured by the familiar ring upon his finger. Glancing up at the house again, her frown deepened. She looked over at Stefan who was moving slowly towards it. Suddenly, there was a great boom and the roof came crashing down.
It was only the shock which held Stefan still for several seconds that allowed Caroline and Alaric to rush to his side and hold onto him tightly before he could move again. Fighting against their hold, he began shouting Damon's name, cursing the two who wouldn't let go. Alaric fell back, flung to the ground, but Caroline refused to release her tight grip, her desperate pleas to stay mingling with his cries.
Elena rose slowly to her feet, secure in the knowledge that Jeremy was alive, now she could only think of Damon. Damon who had chosen to save Jeremy's life, risking his own. Losing his own. Tears ran unchecked down her face. She didn't feel them; she felt nothing. She was numb.
Damon was gone.
Alaric had taken Jeremy home, his gaze barely able to meet Elena's. She didn't know if he actually blamed her for Damon's true death or if it was just her own guilt. Damon had saved Jeremy for her. He had run into that burning building, risked and lost his life for her. How could Alaric not blame her? She glanced over at the couch where Stefan sat, huddled close to Caroline. How could Stefan not blame her as well?
Taking a deep breath, she pushed aside her own feelings and made a move towards him. "Stefan?" She was focused so intently on him that she saw him stiffen, and the ball of tension that already lay in the pit of her stomach tightened. Caroline sighed, squeezing Stefan's arm before she stood up.
She smiled at Elena, "I'm gonna go get some coffee." Looking from her childhood friend to the man who had become her best friend since her turn, she could only shake her head sadly before leaving the room.
Elena perched on the cushion next to Stefan, making sure to keep enough distance so that they weren't touching. She lifted her hand slightly, thinking of Caroline's supportive gesture earlier, but it felt wrong somehow. She dropped it and glanced away, fighting another onslaught of tears. The silence continued and tension spiraled in the air around them. Elena bit her lip to keep it from trembling, unable to stop from crying despite her best intentions. She wanted to comfort Stefan; she wanted to do, say the right thing, but she just kept seeing Damon right before he ran into the building -- the way he'd met her desperate gaze.
He was gone because of her. She knew it, and so did Stefan. What could she possibly say? How could she possibly comfort him? If she was being honest with herself, she didn't even want to; she wanted someone to comfort her. Someone to rub her back, and whisper meaningless phrases of consolation while she cried her eyes out over Damon. Damon. A sob broke free, and she wanted that moment back so desperately. She wished she'd never begged him to save Jeremy, because she had. In that look to him, there had been an unspoken plea to run into that building and save her baby brother and that is exactly what Damon had done.
She'd never meant for him to die, though. She didn't want to lose Damon to save Jeremy. And at that thought, she was nearly broken. The sobs came heavily now, and she bent over in agony at the terrible, terrible thought. Of course, she couldn't, wouldn't take back that moment. Jeremy would be gone, Jeremy, at only sixteen, who'd just begun to live compared to a sometimes soulless monster who'd been killing and wreaking havoc for one hundred and forty-five years.
She saw Damon's face again, that look in his eyes before he ran and it didn't matter; she couldn't make the choice even though there was no choice to be made. And that made her a terrible person, even more terrible that it was her fault that he was gone. Alaric hated her, she was sure. She hated herself right now. Of course, Stefan hated her.
"It's my fault," she cried out, bitterness laced in every syllable. He shifted next to her. He was silent, quiet too long for him not to be thinking the same thing.
"No," he finally said, but she didn't believe him. She knew he didn't believe it either.
Shaking her head, she rose to her feet. "I can't." Running her hands over her face, she wiped away at tears that were still falling. "I'm sorry, Stefan. I'm – I can't."
She turned to leave, pausing only at the front door, a small part of her hoping that Stefan would come to her, that he would stop her, take her into his arms and make everything better. She waited, even after it was clear that he wasn't coming. Even after she knew that he could hear her heartbeat, her hitched breaths. And he still didn't come.
So she left.
Elena kept wiping at the tears that would not stop falling as she drove home. She was no longer numb; she longed for that lack of feeling once more. Because this was hell. She kept seeing that moment, that look on Damon's face before he raced into the house. And then her mother's look of disappointment as she turned away and faced the road, heard her father chastising her and then the sudden swerving of the car, the crash. The rain falling. Elena laughed bitterly. And now it was raining again. Of course. She was tired, so tired of death, so sick of people she loved dying … because of her. Her selfishness.
Pulling up to the house, she shook her head, forcing those thoughts from her head. Trying to force any thought from her mind. The rain was falling heavily. It drenched her as she wearily, slowly made her way to the front door. Jenna was there to open it, waiting with a towel and a sympathetic look. She wrapped her arms around Elena's shoulders, led her into the kitchen and sat her down.
"I'm not going to ask if you're okay. I know all the stupid questions and I won't ask them. Just," she paused and sighed, reaching out to give Elena a quick hug, "I'm here for you, Elena. Whatever you want. You want quiet support, you want to cry, you want to scream, you want to talk about all of his not-so-many glowing qualities." Elena sent her a look. "I kid, trying to, you know-- Okay, really, the guy wasn't a prince, but I know you cared about him and, God, Elena, I don't know what to say. What do you want me to say?"
Elena shook her head, and sat up straighter. The towel slipped off of her shoulders. She ignored it, but Jenna hurried to pick it up. "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry."
"Jenna, I – " She started crying again.
"Oh, Elena." Jenna moved to her, wrapping her arms tightly around her. "I'm sorry. God, I'm so sorry."
The rain had finally stopped an hour ago. 4:17 am. Elena had glanced at her clock when the sounds faded into just crickets. She'd stopped crying an hour before, and was once more numb. For that she was grateful. But she couldn't sleep, and she couldn't stop thinking of Damon. Instead of remembering last night, she was deluged with memories of him, both good and bad. Dancing at the Miss Mystic Falls pageant, snapping Jeremy's neck, putting her necklace back on because he wanted it to be real, staking Lexi, saving her life, saving Stefan's, drinking with Alaric, flirting, fighting, being stupid, being smart, being Damon.
She couldn't do this. She couldn't sleep; she couldn't stop thinking about Damon. She had to do something. Anything. Hopping up, she slid down her pajama shorts, ran to her dresser and pulled out the first item she came to, not caring that it was 5 am, and cool outside and she was putting on a miniskirt. Without bothering to change her camisole, she grabbed a sweater and her keys and left her bedroom. Not even trying to be quiet, she ran down the stairs, stopping at the door long enough to slide into a pair of sandals.
The windows were down, the wind rushing through, blowing her hair in front of her face, strands falling against her dry eyes, sticking to her lips before flying away again in the brisk breeze. She didn't have a destination in mind, she just drove. When she came upon the expanse of lawn, and the empty shell of the burnt house, all smoke and heat gone due to the rain, Elena braked hard. She sat quietly, the motor humming in the night. Putting the car in park, she took a deep, steadying breath and then switched the ignition off.
Elena slid out into the cool morning, and as she shut the door, she took another deep breath and then turned to face the house. And the numbness was gone. She found herself imagining how it must have been for him, the flames licking at and then devouring his body. She could see it all too easily having witnessed the man on fire before. The tears began, but they were silent, barely noticeable as she began walking towards the ruins. Elena shivered, and wrapped her arms around her body, hugging herself with a selfish desperation that was all too familiar.
It was easy to step into the remains of the great house, no locks, no doors left. She wanted to turn and leave, get back in her car and just start driving, but something held her here. The last memory of Damon Salvatore perhaps. Moving around the burnt furnishings, blackened pieces of fallen timber, she made a straight line for one door that remained, half-falling off of its hinges, a mixed shade of charcoal and walnut. Pushing at it slightly, she peered down, thankful for the dawn breaking, the sunrise shining light though the caved in roof. Cement steps led to a darker space. Despite her grief, she'd seen one too many horror films, not to mention her life for the past year, to just blithely venture down.
She froze. Standing perfectly still, she held her breath, listening, listening.
"Elena," louder this time, and she was sure. With a flash, she ran down the stairs, heedless of her own safety.
"Damon!" It was dark, but enough light had made its way down here, and she could make out his figure flat on the ground. "Damon," she cried again, falling to her knees at his side. He was so still, his face ashen with patches of skin reddened and burnt. But she didn't care; he'd never looked more beautiful than in that moment. "You're alive, Damon, you're --" she began crying, but this time, the tears were welcome, ones of joy.
"Still dead," he managed to croak. His eyes opened and he met her gaze, happiness flooding through him at the sight of her. He tried to move, but a fresh wave of pain hit him. Elena sat back, desperate to help.
"What do you need, what's wrong, what can I do?" It all came out in a burst as she ran her hands over his arms, moving up to his face, down his chest. He winced, and she was still. "Damon?"
"Wood, splinters. Son-of-a-bitch," he bit out, frustrated. "Can't heal, too many."
Elena began gingerly feeling his chest once more, and when she came to a piece of wood, pulled it out. With each one, she noticed a bit more color returning to his face. A larger splinter snagged on his shirt, and without asking, she began ripping away at the fabric. With so many tears, it fell apart easily in her hands.
"Okay, okay," he breathed and she sat back. He rolled over, and she gasped at the sight of so many wounds there. Swallowing deeply, she bent once more to the task at hand, carefully removing as many of the splinters from his back as she could. The flesh around some of the greater gashes began to ease together, but not nearly as fast as she was used to and the smaller ones remained open and bleeding.
"Damon, you're not healing."
He heaved himself up and faced her. Nodding, he rested a hand on the ground beside him, exhaustion and pain written all over him. "I need blood. Too much damage." He glanced around him, "but I'm not complaining. If it wasn't for this basement, I'd be a pile of ashes right now."
An overwhelming wave of guilt washed through her. "Damon, I'm so sorry --" she began.
"Ssh, don't." He reached out and captured her chin gently in his hand. "It was my decision."
Elena shook her head; his arm fell away. "No, you did it for me. I wanted you to, I wanted you to get Jeremy --"
"And I could have just watched him burn, but I made the choice to save him. Being the better man and all," he offered a lopsided grin, doing that eye-thing. His expression turned serious. "Don't own my actions, Elena, good or bad, I made the call." He grinned again, trying to calm her down, ease her mind. "Besides, I figured I owed you, and him."
Slowly, she looked away, biting her lower lip, tears slipping down her cheeks. "Damon."
"No, it's done, it's over. Jeremy's fine." He paused, his eyebrows knitting. "Right? Jeremy's okay?"
"So, Jeremy's okay and I'll be fine once I get some blood. We're good."
Unable to stop the flood of tears, her shoulders began shaking as the rush of emotions took over. Sobbing, she leaned against him. Ignoring his own pain, Damon searched for the right words to soothe her. "Ssh, ssh. Elena, Elena, don't cry over me. I'm so not worth crying over." Her hand gripped his shoulder, and then tightened. "I'm here. I'm fine. Elena, I'm fine." With a few deep breaths, she finally nodded and looked back up at him. Her eyes were still red, her cheeks wet, but she'd gained control, he was pleased to see.
He also saw a determined look in her eyes. Sitting up straight, she lifted her arm, presenting her wrist to him. He couldn't help the surprise that crossed his face.
"You're not fine. You need blood." She moved her arm closer. "Blood."
"Elena, I'm not going to feed from you."
"Can you get out of here on your own?" Without giving him a chance to answer, she continued. "No. You can barely sit up, let alone stand, and walk up those stairs, and I can't help you. There's no one else here, and I don't have my phone, do you think yours survived the fire, the fall and the rain?" He patted his pocket and pulled out his smashed cell. She jerked her wrist in front of him. "Drink."
Damon hesitated a moment longer, but the need was too great. He reached out for her, his fangs descending and Elena's eyes widened, never having seen a vampire do that without the veins popping out, and eyes turning blood-rimmed. "I thought," she began, but he couldn't wait any longer. Damon bit into her wrist, and the words died on her lips. She inhaled sharply, the quick pain of his teeth sinking into her flesh morphing into a sudden hungry pleasure. He felt her entire body stiffen. Elena gasped, shocked at the sensation so different from what she had expected, the feel of his lips against her skin, drinking deeply of her blood, the sucking sensation pulling at her stomach, creating a delicious warmth between her thighs.
Her frame lost its tension, relaxing as he fed from her. Tasting her, feeling her blood flow through him was unlike anything he'd experienced before. He never wanted to stop. Elena groaned and it brought him to his senses. Testing the feel of his body, Damon knew he was recovered enough to get out of there, not fully healed, but it was enough. If he didn't now, in this weakened state, he wasn't sure he could stop feeding from her. Retracting his fangs, he was unable to resist a final taste. His tongue dipped out, licking the blood that remained on her skin. Turning her arm slightly, he rested his cheek against her flesh, inhaling the scent of her. It was delicious. She smelled like smoke and rain, blood, enchanting, beautiful blood, and Elena.
"Why'd you stop?" Her voice was soft, a dazed quality turning her voice huskier than usual.
His head remained bent, pressed against her arm, the rich aroma of blood tantalizing his senses. With an effort, he pulled away and met her gaze. Her eyes were wide, the pupils dilated and he felt a tugging inside, an almost irresistible desire to dive into her. Looking down, he let loose a long, steadying breath, searching for control.
Her arm rose again, her fingers moving slowly through the air, about to rest on his face when he reached out and grasped her hand in his. Forcing a grin, he looked back up and pulled them both to their feet. "I'm better. Let's go." He released her hand, took a few steps. There was a buckling in his knees. "Fuck!" he hissed, and Elena was at his side instantly, her arm wrapping around his waist.
"Let me help you."
Together they moved up the stairs, his arm slung over her shoulder, his hand holding onto the struts and sections of wall still standing. It was a long process maneuvering through the house, each step painful as his body fought to heal through the splinters of wood still in him. He needed more blood. His concern for Elena, not surprisingly, had overridden his concern for himself.
As they stepped out of the remains, a light drizzle began to fall and for that, Damon was grateful. It would help clean away some of the slivers clinging to his flesh. Next to him, Elena grunted and he realized that she couldn't bear so much of his weight any longer. Removing his arm, he pulled back slightly and sat down on the wet grass, his legs splayed before him. He looked up, his eyes closed and savored the sun and rain on his face. He was happy to be alive, or rather, undead, as the case was.
Elena sank to her knees in front of him, kneeling between his thighs. He turned to look at her. She had her concerned face on, mixed with the determined Gilbert mien he knew so well.
"You need more blood." He shook his head.
"Damon, you needed my help to walk. Here," she held out her wrist once more. "I'm here, I'm willing. I feel fine, not weak at all. You need it."
He cocked his head to the side, his gaze focusing on the twin puncture wounds, the pinkened skin around them, the blood so close that the scent was flooding through him. He knew that he should refuse. He could wait while she went to the boarding house and got him some nice, fresh bagged blood. He inhaled deeply. He didn't want bagged blood, nice and fresh. He wanted Elena's blood. It had been such a small taste. Now, he wanted more, so much more.
Elena nudged him with her knee and he looked at her face. Her smile was soft, and joy seemed to suffuse her entire being. She was beautiful. He loved her. He wanted her.
He couldn't resist.
Locking gazes, he pulled her arm to him, pulling her body closer at the same time. Her breath caught and he could feel her heartbeat racing, and it sent a thrill through him. Keeping his eyes on hers, he bit down on the same spot, and the taste of her blood filled his mouth. It was heaven. Lifting her arm so that it lay against his shoulder, he turned his head, sucking at her flesh, his pain replaced by pleasure. His other arm wrapped around her waist, pulling her tight and she sighed.
Moments passed, and with every drop, Damon felt better, stronger, more like himself. He couldn't justify the need any longer. Reluctantly, he pulled away.
Elena took her time moving from him. A blush darkened her face at the feelings coursing through her. They were unlike any she'd ever experienced before. She couldn't even put a word to it because the only one that seemed to fit was ‘passion,' and surely she'd felt passion before, not with Matt, no, but definitely with Stefan. Her gaze rose, and she found it locked on Damon's parted lips. They were moist, and tinged with red. Her blood.
And then he was smiling, that half-smile that was so him. She couldn't restrain an answering grin. She looked up, looking into his eyes, and instead of a flirty teasing, there was ferocity there, unexpected and beautiful. Lust and something more. A twisted pleasure curled in her stomach as she grasped what she was feeling. It was the same as Damon -- pure, unadulterated lust, etched with an intensity so sharp and sudden that she couldn't look at him a second longer.
Her arm dropped into her lap; absently she brushed at a wet sliver of wood on her knee. Her gaze flew up to his chest, concern rising to the forefront. Without considering the consequences of her actions, she reached for his bare skin. Running her hands over his shoulders, down his arms, she rose up, practically leaning against him as she checked his back for any remaining splinters of wood. He was quiet, still under her administrations. Riding back over the curve of his shoulders, she breathed a sigh of relief. He was perfect again.
Elena's hands rested on his chest, over where his heart was beating an unsteady staccato. She could feel its rhythm beneath her splayed fingers. With her worry eased, the heat rushed over her again. The rain had stopped sometime during his feeding, and his skin was cool, drying in the light breeze. She wanted him to speak, to say something and break this tension that was once more growing between them, making the air thick, making it nearly impossible for her to breathe.
He was quiet. It was up to her.
"Damon." Her tongue froze in her mouth, unable to conjure up anything but his name.
"Elena." His voice was deep, an undercurrent of passion humming in the three syllables. Slowly she looked up at him.
Damon swallowed heavily. For the first time in a very long while, the desire to be with someone had nothing to do with wanting to feed. He just wanted her. Elena. It was like a fire burning through him. And everything about her, the glazed lust in her eyes staring at him, the parted lips begging for a kiss, called to him. Her body was so close, less than an inch from his and the heat emanating off of her, the scent of arousal was overpowering. He tried to think of why he should get up, get away, far away. Run to Stefan; remind himself that this was his brother's girl, and that she loved him. That it would always be Stefan.
His hands curled into fists as he fought his urges. Forget Stefan; he thought of Elena and all of the reasons why this was wrong. He was wrong, so wrong for her. He didn't deserve her; she certainly didn't deserve him, not who, what he was.
Her tongue dipped out, licking her lower lip. He was lost. In a flash, his hands rose, cupping her face. Elena met his kiss, her mouth open, sucking on his lower lip while his tongue sought to gain entrance. She pressed against him, her fingernails digging into his skin. One of his hands dropped to her thigh, and he lifted her up slightly and then brought the both of them down, flat on the wet grass. She gasped his name, as his lips trailed from her lips, to her cheeks, her eyelids. He pulled at her camisole, one hand slipping under the clingy material to curve around her breast, pinching her nipple. The other caressed her jaw as she grabbed his head in between her hands, delivering as bruising a kiss as she was capable of.
Elena wrapped her legs around his hips, pushing herself against him. Lowering her hands, she slipped them between their bodies, reaching for the button of his jeans. With a hard pull, she undid it and then slid his zipper down. Damon groaned against her mouth and then licked her neck, moving towards her chest, pushing her top aside to bare her flesh. It lay uncomfortably twisted and bunched up beneath her breasts, but she didn't care. All she cared about was the feel of his lips, his tongue, his hands, his fingers on her, brushing, caressing, kissing, licking, bruising her skin. She wanted him hard and heavy on her, in her. Reaching into his boxers, she wrapped her fingers around the hard length of him, stroking up and down.
Damon captured her nipple, his teeth nibbling lightly, his tongue swirling around the pebbled flesh, while his hand moved down her taut belly, over the rough denim of her skirt. Slipping underneath the fabric, he came upon soft cotton. Moving upwards toward the waistband, he yanked it down with one tear, ripping the panties apart. Flinging them over his shoulders, he pushed her skirt up around her waist.
Elena's hand slipped from him, and he rose to his haunches. She sat up slightly, her elbows bent behind her, a hunger surging through her body unlike any she'd ever known. Breathing heavily, she pushed herself up, reaching for him as Damon pushed his jeans and boxers down. She fell back, licking her lips as he grinned at her. Holding his cock, he stroked himself, loving the sight of Elena before him, her clothes in disarray, her lips red and plump from his kisses, her hair a wild, wispy cloud around her face.
He bent down, his hand curving around her hip, raising it slightly. Reaching up, Elena laid one hand upon his chest, her fingers trailing over his rib cage. Damon pushed her hand aside with a smile, pressing against her and positioned himself at her entrance. She curled her arms around his biceps as he surged into her and he almost came just from the feeling of her tight inner walls pressing against him; her slick heat tugging at his cock as he moved in, slowly, as slowly as he was capable of in that moment. Elena wrapped her legs higher around his hips, her efforts urging him on, without words telling him that slow and easy was not what she wanted. He stilled for a moment and she cried into his ear, "Damon, now, I need you now."
Her voice trailed off into a keening moan as he obeyed, thrusting fiercely into her, burying himself to the hilt inside of her. For a split-second he remained still and then his hips bucked as he pulled out and rushed back in. Thrusting with a primitive urgency, every journey into the heart of her sent his soul soaring, his heart racing. Her cries echoed in his ears as she clutched at him, her breaths coming in gasps. His name springing from her lips as she urged him on with every encouraging lift of her hips, meeting his. He looked up into the sky as he felt the monster inside him rise. His fangs descended, veins protruding around his eyes. He dropped his head, and met her gaze, paralyzed by fear for a split-second, but Elena reached up a hand, caressing his cheek. She whispered his name, her voice as soft as her touch.
A grin spread wide across his face and he thrust into her again before dipping his head to nuzzle her throat. She squeezed tighter around him, her moans and whimpers urging him on and he knew that she was close. The tantalizing scent of her filled his senses, and he ran his tongue over her skin, the pulsing beat of her heart so clear to him. Elena hitched one leg higher, pressing closer. He raised his head slightly as he held still for a second inside of her. Cocking his head, Damon pulled out and then with a powerful surge, he thrust into her one final time, and as he did, he bit deeply into her carotid artery.
Her eyes shot wide open, a gasping breath escaping her as a tear slid down her cheek. She clutched at Damon as shockwaves of the most intense pleasure she had ever felt rocked through her body. As reverberations of her orgasm rippled through her, he drank greedily, hungrily of her blood, and with every drop that he took from her she felt a deeper connection build in her soul unlike anything she'd ever known. She held onto him tightly as she shed more tears, her breath coming in sharp gasps. She didn't want him to stop. Never stop, she thought, as she continued to ride the waves of her climax.
A joyful smile spread across her face as she understood now that this … this was passion. And it was bliss.
The sun was high in the sky. Internally, Damon knew that it was about six a.m. and unless they wanted to be arrested for indecent exposure, they needed to get moving. The problem was that he didn't want to move, he didn't want to do anything but lie next to Elena, his hand resting on the curve of her breast, feeling her heart beat in time with his.
In the distance, he heard a bird caw, signaling the sound of the day beginning. Reluctantly, he slid his hand down, over her stomach and onto the grass. Elena began stretching next to him, and as he sat up, he looked down at her. She met his gaze, and a slight blush tinted her cheeks as she pulled her camisole down, and then her skirt. He sighed in discontent, but he turned to making himself decent as well.
Elena sat up, and leaned against him. She rested her head against his shoulder. Damon turned slightly toward her, sniffing her hair. He heard a car not too far away. The day had officially begun. It was time to move, time to go, back to their lives. Their homes. His brother. His reality. He sighed, and then spoke at last, trying for casual, but it would be impossible for her to not hear the yearning that he simply couldn't contain.
"So, where do we go from here?"
Elena was silent.
And then she reached for his hand.