2007-09-13: Old Problems For New

Starring:

Elena_icon.gif Eric_icon.gif

Summary: Eric calls Elena over so they can catch up. Elena tells him about Gene. When the two start talking about other things, that's when Elena realizes she's only traded old problems for new ones.

Date It Happened: September 13th, 2007

Old Problems For New


Eric Walker's Apartment, Greenwich Village

Late night at the office. Eric made it home just after the sun went down. Not that the dark bothered him, infact he liked it much better to be honest. It made him feel much more relaxed. He needed to feel a bit more relaxed lately. Things have been bothering him much more than usual lately. He hides it well enough, but it grates on his mind. Right now though he has a smile on his face as he opens the door to his apartment and rushes in. He was getting home a little bit late, and he had told Elena that she could meet him here to talk if she wanted.

…of course, Elena was one of those things that he might be thinking too hard on.

He shakes his head to clear it though as he throws his briefcase and jacket haphazardly on the table and makes his way back towards the kitchen to see what he can grab to drink before his dinner guest gets here.

The study session just let out. Luckily, Eric lives near NYU. She got a text from him during the get-together at the Bobst Library, and texted him back to say she'll stop by on the way….well. Not home but sort-of home. She'll probably crash at Heidi's again today. She really needs to get on that apartment thing. Nadia had expressed rooming with her too.

So she arrives, knocking on the door and waiting for him to answer, and when he opens the door, she gives him a flat look. Her arms are, as always, laden down with books. It was partially her fault, she didn't need to check all of those out from the library. But she did. Because she's insane.

"…I miss summer already," she grumbles towards him, stepping inside the apartment once she's let inside."How was your day?"

The door opens promptly to reveal Eric with a half smile on his face. He opens the door enough for her and her stack of books to come in as he shakes his head. "…I swear, you have read every single damn book in that library by now haven't you?" He says with a chuckle as he sets down his drink to reach up and pick up a good half the books so she can sit in peace.

"…no you don't," He accuses with a smirk. "If you didn't have something to do you would just be complaining that you were bored." He adds with a shake of his head as he closes the door behind them. "…and hi by the way." He adds with a wink. "…it was just long is all. Nothing too bad about it. Busy and long like usual."

"Well you shouldn't be the one talking about doing too much in one day then," Elena says, a little smugly. Pot calling the kettle black and everything. She wanders further into the apartment, setting the books down and stretching her arms over her head. "God. I'll be bent like an old woman after the seven years of schooling are over," she says, dropping into the couch and pulling one of the couch pillows towards her to hug."Anyway, how are things with you? Have you reconnected with your displaced family members yet?"

She glances down at the pillow for a moment. "I invited Gene up for the weekend last week," she tells him. "I had to talk to him about….you know."

"Yeah yeah…" Eric replies with a laugh. "…I never said I don't get bored on slow days too." He adds. "No need to look so smug about it!" He adds with a laugh as he turns towards her to watch her a moment. The smile never leaves his face. It never quite touches his eyes either. "…you mean you'll be looking for more trouble to get into once your school is over. If your not married with a half dozen kids by then." The way she is going she will be. "…oh I've seen Michelle a few times, not Mark or Miranda though. I didn't expect too, Mark is a work-a-holic of the highest order. A good guy, but a work-a-holic." Pause. "…alright, maybe he is an asshole and not a good guy, but the working thing still stands."

However as she glances down at the pillow and her face falls slightly, his smile turns into a slight frown. He crosses to the couch and settles down next to her, looking towards her. "…yeah…how did he take it?"

"I have trouble even accepting the fact that I'm of an age when I should be dating, you honestly think kids are part of the agenda while I'm not even in my twenties yet?" Elena says with a laugh. She probably would want children, eventually, it's just that it was hard to think about that now when she has school and getting a doctorate to worry about. And then there was work. And the unresolved issue that's happening with her family now that Juanita's manifested. And half a dozen kids? She wasn't even sure if she wanted that many!

"Sounds like the workaholicism runs in the family," she teases. Yeah, Eric? Not one to talk in terms of being crazed over work. "I hear about you, and Mark, what the hell does Brett do?" she wonders out loud. "Does he just….drive through life leeching off your trust accounts?"

The last question removes any traces of mirth from her face though. She sighs, and looks up at him. "Not well." She leaves out the fact that Gene broke down to the point of seeking physical comfort - something he never does. The man had his pride, and given she was raised by a father who's all about manly pride, she'll do her best to preserve Gene's. "Then again…no one would be when told that your own brain's killing you." And Gene's identity rested on how smart he was. How mentally in tune. "We honestly should spend more time with him, Eric. Not like he'll be….gone…any time soon." Because she won't let it. "But because…I don't think he should be alone too often right now."

"I can never know with you, you seem to plan further ahead than most people can think," Eric replies before he laughs. "…and that's three times I've done the pot and kettle thing today. I'm not one to talk about that," He says as he smiles towards her. "I'll stop, I'll stop…" He says though holding up one hand in defense.

"…well I've just had alot of my mind lately is all, it helps when I keep myself busy," He adds before he smirks slightly. "I used to not be that bad, you know that…" A pause then as he closes his eyes. Leaning back just a bit onto the comfort of the couch. "…I wish I had a bit more free time, but your busy too and there isn't all that many others that I'd like to spend it with." He adds with a slight shrug and honest enough tone of voice.

A snort then as she asks the question about Brett. "…yes that's pretty much it. He gets arrested, sleeps around, and thinks everyone should bow down just because he has more money than them." Seems he doesn't think much of his older brother. "At least Mark and I both work…he just seems to never got out of the frat boy stage. He just got more cunning about it." A smirk. "He was actually mad at me for making headlines over him in one of the magazines. Complained to mom about it."

At the last though he goes quiet, its not a thought out gesture, but almost automatically he slides an arm around her shoulders to give her something to lean on when her smile fades entirely. Unasked for comfort, but freely given. "…I think your right. I'll /make/ more time if I have too as we can all spend it together." He murmurs quietly. "He deserves no less than that. Hell he deserves more than that…but hopefully that'll be enough for a little bit."

"Only when it comes to school and maybe work," Elena says with a smile. And her family. Those were the three most important priorities in her life at the present moment. Then again, there was also the Saving the World Or At Least New York thing, but that goes without saying. Eric's been involved with the same thing since the beginning, so it's not like he doesn't know it.

When he talks about free time, she can't help but shake her head, and smile a little ruefully. "Doesn't help that all our friends are busy too," she says. "Gene works more hours than all of us combined, and Jaden's got his fun and his philanthropic endeavors." Jaden operated very much like the face of Evosoft these days. "Only time we can really see each other most of the time is at school. But it's not like we haven't met any cool people this year either. We can make the time." She's met Mikhail and Ian this year, after all.

When he snorts over Brett, she rolls her eyes skywards. "One of those, huh? I remember him vaguely, he hit on me during Jaden's benefit this year….the first one. For Seville Medical." She dropped him though, so that wasn't much of a problem. She just pretended he had way too much to drink.

The arm is slid around her, and she nods, her shoulders sagging a bit under the weight of it. "I don't suppose you can find someone we can trust to look into this? Cass and I…we aren't exactly doctors. This sort of thing requires someone with a degree. Maybe several. Someone with a specialty on neuroscience."

"And family…most often family," Eric replies with a laugh. "I can't do that with mine…they are more like a force of nature than anything that you can plot." He smirks. "…and remind me to keep your father away from Mark. I don't think they would get along…at all." In fact he's sure that there would be a few little bumps in that road. "…and Ramon seems to be settling down rather well at EvoSoft." He adds with a slightly relieved note in his voice.

"Yeah…at least there all busy with /good/ things though. Jaden hasn't gotten into too much trouble and no one has tried too…" He waves a hand vaguely. "Do anything to us." He shakes his head slightly. "…he's the only one not at school. He told me before that it would take a court order to get him to go back. Even then he might just move if he got one."

"…yeah that's him…the wonderful smiling face of the Lancasters. He's one of the reasons I went and got my name changed," He smirks slightly and gives and elequent shrug. "Family like him I don't need enemies."

He pauses a bit at the question, frowning in thought. "…mom…she's into some of the major medical things. I'm sure she knows someone that might be able to help him. No real promises though, but I'm sure she can at least point me in the direction of someone with a specality in neuroscience."

"Yeah he is. He's always been a fast learner, but he's really been surprising me these days. Then again, if you sit in a board room with a lot of high-powered executives all the time and you know how their mind works…" Easy to anticipate business decisions and learn how to make them. Ramon's learning curve augmented by his ability is extremely scary. Elena smiles slightly at the thought of her father.

Though when he brings up Brett, she can't help but roll her eyes again. "He sounds like a charmer. Hope I never meet him. It sounds bad but if he's been doing everything he can to make your life miserable, I don't need to." She wrinkles her nose. "I'd only try to punch him in the face or something, or worse."

At the last, she looks relieved. "If you could look into it, I'd really appreciate it. I could always go to one of my professors at NYU, but…." But clearly she doesn't know who she could trust. Going through a good friend with connections seems more palatable to her in this case than just going to someone who has ties to the Academic community and who she doesn't know that well. If she did, she'd anticipate questions she doesn't want to answer.

"Exactly…he's going to be just fine in that boardroom, even though when he took the job I actually had to do a bit of calming him down," Chuckling softly he shakes his head. Of all the things he's done in his life calming down /Ramon/ of all people has been rather amusing and ironic. "I think he wanted to talk with me about something tomarrow…ah well I'll find out whatever it is then."

"Charmer isn't how I'd describe him," Eric says with a wry look coming to his face. He has other words, none of them nice or what would be used in polite company. "Oh no, you meet him and want to punch him, you tell me and I'll do it. He might think its foreplay or something." He grumbles. He's known that to happen before, when Brett was thinking girls were being 'hard to get'.

He nods though towards her at the last. "Its not trouble, it doesn't take anything more than a trip home and a little conversation," He says cheerfully enough. "I think mom and dad wanted us all to drop by anyway…something about a family protriat. We havn't tried one of those since the Great Disaster of '98," He shudders slightly. "I didn't even know snakes /got/ that big." He adds after a moment of thought. There is a pause then, before he continues on. "…I'll get some names from Mom, ones that wouldn't ask too many questions, ones she should trust. I'll get a list and bring it with me…" He glances then out of the side of his eyes towards her then, a slight smile playing across his lips. "…and you can meet me at the marina to pick it up." A pause before he adds. "Come alone and the'll be a suprise and dinner involved."

"Exactly…he's going to be just fine in that boardroom, even though when he took the job I actually had to do a bit of calming him down," Chuckling softly he shakes his head. Of all the things he's done in his life calming down /Ramon/ of all people has been rather amusing and ironic. "I think he wanted to talk with me about something tomarrow…ah well I'll find out whatever it is then."

"Charmer isn't how I'd describe him," Eric says with a wry look coming to his face. He has other words, none of them nice or what would be used in polite company. "Oh no, you meet him and want to punch him, you tell me and I'll do it. He might think its foreplay or something." He grumbles. He's known that to happen before, when Brett was thinking girls were being 'hard to get'.

He nods though towards her at the last. "Its not trouble, it doesn't take anything more than a trip home and a little conversation," He says cheerfully enough. "I think mom and dad wanted us all to drop by anyway…something about a family protriat. We haven't tried one of those since the Great Disaster of '98," He shudders slightly. "I didn't even know snakes /got/ that big." He adds after a moment of thought. There is a pause then, before he continues on. "…I'll get some names from Mom, ones that wouldn't ask too many questions, ones she should trust. I'll get a list and bring it with me…" He glances then out of the side of his eyes towards her then, a slight smile playing across his lips. "…and you can meet me at the marina to pick it up." A pause before he adds. "Come alone and there'll be a surprise and dinner involved."

"He wanted to talk to you?" Elena wonders, glancing over at him. "About what?" But it looks like Eric doesn't seem to know himself, but there's a curious expression on her face. What was up? Then again, whatever it was, she hopes Ramon was playing it safe. They can't afford too bold moves at the present time. Leaning back on the couch, she exhales a little bit. But when Eric gets into detail about his brother…she wrinkles her nose. "What," she says, but it's more of a statement than a question. "He sounds like some piece of work."

Getting rough with girls was something she's heard of before, some like it - what Sam and her more knowledgeable college gal pals say anyway, or talk in the locker rooms after dance practice. But Brett just sounds like a giant a-hole in general. That and she didn't like the word on how he tormented Eric when he was just doing his own thing.

When Eric launches on a bit about his own family, she stares at him after the words 'Great Disaster' and 'Snakes' and 'That Big'. "…do I want to know what happened?" she wonders out loud. But at the last, she hesitates. There's a torn look on her face, but she inquires, straightforwardly. "….like just a get-together or…?"

You say, "…I don't think piece of work even begins to cover him…hopefully you'll never have to deal with him though, I'll make sure of that much." Eric says with a shake of his head as he comments about his elder brother. Dismissing him though as a subject that dosen't need to be dwelled over he continues right on. "I don't know what Ramon has for me, he said something about some project. It'll be nice to have something to do besides busy work though whatever it is."

"…no," He answers wryly. "You don't want to know. It was a total debacle. We havn't tried again for ten years…but mom and dad said they want something special this christmas, and I'm willing to try for their sakes at least." He does seem to at least care about his parents, even though other members of his family can die in a fire as far as he is concerned.

At that look on her face though he closes his eyes for a moment. There is was again. He shouldn't have brought it up. It always seems to hurt her when he does. The look that passes his face at her question is a very calculating one. Something that she sees in the boardroom from time to time when he is deciding just how much to tell someone.

He shakes his head though before breathing out a sigh that turns into a half smile. She made him promise, no more secrets. "…I think that's more up to you. I know which one I'd like better, but…" He replies to the inquiry, his own answer just as honest even though it trails off like it does."

"It's not like I can't take care of myself if I have to," Elena says simply. "If Papa's going to keep being Chairman for a while, I know I'll have to interact with your family on occasion." She would prefer not to be in the same room as some of his siblings - it takes a lot for a guy like Eric to dislike anyone, and even more so to dislike family, so she's taking his word for it that they're not the sort of people she wants to deal with. She nods at what he says about her father.

But when he admits that he probably doesn't want to know, she laughs. "Sounds like some story. Maybe I'll get to hear it one day," she says easily. She exhales a breath, and she leans against the couch, still cradling the pillow against her and toying with the edge of it. "Well it's Christmas. If your father and mother want to do something to try and put the family in the same room…" Without killing each other. "…then you guys should try."

Oh great, put the ball in HER COURT, Eric. She worries on her bottom lip a little bit, even as Eric gets honest with her. "We're friends," she begins. "No reason why we can't hang out, right?" She gives him a small smile, curling her fingers more securely on the pillow. After a bout of silence, she exhales. "You know I don't want to hurt anybody," she responds quietly. "But…the moment he came back, he…" No question as to who he was. And one of the first things he did upon arriving from the future is kidnap her from class and say he was sorry and drag her back in again.

Her position was a difficult one. They were both her friends. Good friends. She cared about them both plenty, and most of the time they can be so damned similar. They were both stubborn. They came from similar backgrounds. They even had the same coloring. It was ridiculous. Perhaps the smarter way to go really was just ditch them both and sail solo. But she couldn't do that either. She had to stay in New York, and she had too much pride to run away.

"Oh believe you can take care of yourself," Eric replies with a warm laugh. "…and you might…though I hope I can just limit your exposure to dad and /maybe/ Mark." He falls silent as he thinks about it. Yes. He can manage that well enough. Just limit of the family instead of overload of evil. It'll be better for all sides that way. "…well maybe I'll tell it one day." He says with a smile. "…and yes. It is Christmas. That's why we are all supposed to get together. I have /no/ clue if that'll happen or not though.

Well what was he supposed to do? The ball always was in her court for the most part. She was going to have to make the decision even if it wasn't a very pleasant one. Watching her for a moment he sees her figiting, the slight sight, the fading smile. "…I know." He replies. "…or at least I figured. Peter always was a stubborn one." He smiles at that slightly, looking away from her at the same time.

"…you know what I mean though Elena, that I'd like to take you out again." He says quietly, the smile on his face not quite touching his eyes. He glances back towards her quickly after a moments pause. "…and your hurting yourself over all this. That's not something I want." He tells her bluntly. "Every time the subject comes up you…wince…" He shakes his head. "…I don't know if you do the same with Peter or not." He adds. "…the last thing I want to do is that though. I want to help you, I want to be there if you need me…"

I want to love you.

"…but…I don't want to hurt you, to see you hurt and worried." He falls quiet for a moment then with a shake of his head. "I…should apologize for bringing it all up. Just…I'll have the list later."

"I don't…" Elena rubs the back of her neck, and she stands up slowly from the couch. She braces her hands on her hips, looking down on the expensive, hardwood flooring of his apartment and she can't help but exhale. "I spent so much time with him and I've gotten to know him so well that despite my misgivings about this entire situation, I can't help but…and even after the fight, it was…." She takes a deep breath. "You're both so damned similar."

She looks over at him and she gives him a rueful smile. "Would've been easier for me if…you hadn't left for a while," she confesses. "I was so sure then, you know? One day. Eventually. But it happened and I couldn't blame you, there are more important priorities in your life as much as it does mine." And while he was gone, Peter had been there. He was always there. Calling her. Hugging her. Slowly driven mad over her. So determined to protect her and her father and siblings from everything. Clawing and pounding at the glass wall she tried to keep between them to make their lives a little easier only for it to fail anyway. "Now…"

Oh she does wince. She winces about a lot of things. Every time Peter brought up Eric. Every time he brought up Elle.

"I'm not worried about me," she tells Eric, sitting back down next to him as he apologizes. "I'm tougher than I look. You know it's difficult for me to keep to boundaries as far as you're concerned, not after everything we've been through together. I remember everything you've done. I remember how much I owe you. I know you'll do it all over again if you have to. Part of me wonders if I'm actually deserving of something like that. I'm so terrified of losing your friendship that I honestly don't know what to do….but I know it can't be helped and I have to be honest and…I can't." She bites down on her bottom lip. "He came back before I could really let him go and now I can't."

She glances away. "Part of me hates it, actually…" she says softly. "Was never this dependent on feelings."

"…yes we are," Eric agrees with a soft chuckle. "We grew up together…neighbors you know that?" He asks, his eyes closing again. Some memory or other that he has fixed in his mind. The eyes open as she stands up and he watches her a moment. His eyes fasten on her before he unfolds himself, standing in one smooth motion.

If he hadn't have left. He sighs slightly. One more thing he can thank his family for, his mother's machinations seemed to have worked this time. Her plans fulfilled. Hell he wouldn't be surprised if he insisted that Peter and Elena meet. Its something she would do. A wave of anger is quickly clamped down on as he takes one step forwards. He smiles, and reaches out to slide his arms around her waist, pulling her into a warm hug. There is a slight sadness in his smile as he does so though, something about it that isn't quite full, isn't quite right. Full of self reproach. He bends his head down slightly, placing his lips close to her ear.

"…I was wrong," He whispers. "I was wrong…nothing should have been more important…"

Then he lets her go, stepping away from her as he glances out the windows in the back of the apartment. Away from her. The apology cost him, that much is obvious. He hides it well as he hides most everything else though. When she sits back down, he remains standing for the moment as he looks back towards her. "…you won't loose my friendship Elena. I don't think you could if you tried." He adds with a smile towards her, then looking away again. He is quiet for a moment before he nods. She made her choice. It was his fault. His mistake.

He didn't fight hard enough for something he didn't know he was losing.

"…everyone is dependent on feelings. Its just a matter of how much we admit it." He murmurs back. She isn't the only one that hates it, that how it was though. His fault for leaving. For letting someone else in.

Again he offers her a smile. "…and that's why someone has to worry about you. You /never/ worry about you." He is quiet for a moment longer. A shake of his head then. "…and you owe me nothing."

The moment Eric engulfs her in a warm hug was almost enough to drive her to tears. Almost, but not quite. Her arms curl around him, her fingers curling at the back of his shirt as she remains there. She hears the whisper, and she closes her eyes at the sound of it. He hides it well, but she could tell. The tone of his voice. She's known Eric a couple of months longer than she had known Peter, and she spent a lot of time with him before he left for two months. She knows. She's reminded of the time he held her, just like this, after the disastrous benefit in the Crystal Pavilion.

She shakes her head, Elena pulling away, her expression serious. "No. No, you weren't wrong." She is let go, and she can't help but curl her arms in front of her. "There'll always be other things that are more important at the time, sometimes," she tells him. "You couldn't just abandon your family. That's not the kind of man you are and if you were, I wouldn't like you as much. I know…if I were in the same position, I would've done the same. No matter what I lost in the process. You and I….when it comes to our blood, we're the same. It's one of the reasons why we get along so well…"

She shakes her head. "I'm not so egotistical to demand that people drop everything they have to do just for me. I wouldn't accept it."

At the last, she smiles. "Chances are, I worry a lot of people anyway. I try not to, but….it'll happen no matter what I do, I guess." She watches him for a few more moments, standing up slowly from where she's seated. "…Eric I'm…" She was sorry. He knows it. It's not out of pity, but she didn't want to hurt him.

He shakes his head a moment, turning back towards her. Wordlessly he crouches down infront of her on the couch too look into her face. "I was wrong," He says, his expression as serious as her own. His voice holding a conviction that she had seldom heard come from him before. He shouldn't have trusted so redily even his own family. "I trusted them too much, and…" He pauses a moment before he reaches up to run his finger across her cheek. "…and it cost me much more than I wished it had." Still that look of anger directed inwards hidden in the back of his eyes. He won't trust now, not his mother at least. Not when it hurts this much to let go.

"…you shouldn't have had to demand it. I should have been there,"

He stands then slowly, stepping away from her, looking away from her again. He can't watch her right now. "…don't say it. I'll be fine." The response is quick and ever so slightly clipped. "…you know me Elena. I'll be fine." He repeats the words. Softer, slower.

"…just be happy Elena, that's all I want for you." A pause before he smiles, but its a brittle smile. There is a strength behind his eyes and his smile. He won't break, but he won't be the same for a time. "…and you know, if you ever need me you will always know where to find me."

…what is he talking about? There's a bit of confusion in her face. What did he mean he shouldn't have trusted them? There was something he wasn't telling her. Elena can only watch him even as he crouches down in front of her, and draws a finger gently down the curve of one cheek. "Eric…" His name is spoken softly. Just his name. Nothing else. He looked so sure about it, and she didn't have the heart to argue. And she didn't want to insist it any other way because…well, what the hell did she know? She doesn't know what happened in those two months.

"You can't be here all the time," is what she manages. Because it's true. Because that would be unrealistic. "No one can. Not even me." She pauses. "…unless you're Jaden because..uh. Well. He can be everywhere if he wants to." But people aren't so lucky to have the sort of power he has.

When he looks away from her, she glances down, and finally she stands up. "I'm happy no matter what," she tells him simply. "I've never been…it's not like I was never happy. I'm a happy person by nature. Sometimes the only thing that doesn't is…" Is hurting everyone else. Especially when she knows she has to in lieu of being honest. But she reaches out, to press a hand gently on his back.

"I know." And she does. About him being there. "I am too, you know. If you need…anything…you know you could always come to me, right?" She has to trust that. Even before all the crazy they helped each other. She didn't want to lose that on top of everything else, despite the promises. She can't help but look at him. It was almost easier if he got mad at her and told her to get out.

But no. He had to be so damned noble. All the time.

Yes there was. Something he was hiding, it doesn't matter now though. Very little is mattering to him at the moment. Takes a shuddering breath as he lets his hand fall away from her face, resting on his knees. He didn't know his mother and his brother had blocked all the calls and messages from getting back home. He only found out later, and even then there was no proof of it all. Its too late now though. Hindsight is perfect, Eric can see it now. It won't change a thing thats happening now.

A smile then. "…but that doesn't stop me from wanting to be…"

He looks back towards her as she stands. "…and that's what is wrong right now. Stop thinking about me Elena, stop worrying about me. I'll surivie. Be happy yourself, with him." Ouch. That hurt more than he thought it would to say. He glances away before he feels the hand on his back. Turning to face her he glances down towards her.

"…your still short you know," He murmurs softly as he musters forth a smile.

He just nods in response to her words. A simple gesture. He knows though, he won't go to her now. Not for everything. It'll be too hard on her. After this…he doesn't even know what to call it. Its not a falling out, he still cares about her. He can't bring himself to be angry with her.

Its just who he is. How he is. He can't change it.

One hand reaches up to caress her cheek softly before he closes his eyes and sucks in a deep breath. The urge to hold her, to kiss her. Its so great an urge that he has to clamp down hard enough on it that the tension shows in his arms. "…you should go Elena. Before I try to…" He shakes his head. "…I'll get the list…I'll find a way to get it to you."

There is silence - it draws out a little while, after he asks her to be happy. Elena shakes her head once. "I told you," she says simply. "I never needed this to be happy. Any of this. I always was."

She had always been a happy person, despite everything. She doesn't look so happy now though. Then again, it can't be helped. But generally she was. She didn't really care about all this stuff until later. Until she realized things have been dropped on her lap. Until she realized she wasn't as unattainable as she wanted to be because it had always been safer that way. She was right, she could've tried harder to be, but it wouldn't be human.

"Okay," Elena says quietly, her eyes closing when he lifts his hand up to touch her cheek. She probably imagines it, but she could hear something shattering somewhere. She feels the tension on his arm, even though she can't see the look on his face. Young, terribly inexperienced, her first year in trying to explore anything with someone, and she already has to inflict pain on one of the last people she wanted it on. It sucked. But she'll have to bear it so she could be honest with him. Dangling a carrot on the string would've been more deplorable and disgusting than this. This, at least, was truthful, no matter how much it hurts.

She knows all of that. There wasn't a lot on the face of the earth that could stop Eric Lancaster from getting what he wanted. But one word from her.

Her hand comes up to touch his on her cheek, curling her fingers around his palm and giving it a squeeze. She braves a small smile, before slipping her hand away.

"Goodnight, Eric."

Goodnight. Not goodbye. Everything was as fresh as an open wound at the moment, but there were some things in this world that were stronger than heartache. She had to believe that, at least. Otherwise…

The door closes behind her, and she heads out of the building. She doesn't get far though. She leans against the side of the building, tears stinging her eyes. She rubs them defiantly, scrubbing away before they could fall.

She hated this. She remembered what she said to Peter the other night. That after all the changes, she just traded old problems for new ones.

One word from her stops him dead in his tracks.

"Goodbye, Elena."

His own words are soft, said as she turns around. There is a smile on his face until she walks out the door. Then the smile slowly fades. Its an almost numb look, completely neutral as he stands there a moment. His hands in his pockets, his eyes on the door that just closed. The shadows dance around him like mad things, forming shapes and whirls as his mind chases itself in circles.

Then it all stops. He clamps his mind and his will down on it like a vise.

Closing his eyes then he turns away from the door and towards the kitchen, very little in the way of expression on his face. He thinks he needs a drink. Then he'll get to work on something else.

…after all, its like he always says.

No rest for the wicked.

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