The third time Alaric wakes up with a crick in his neck and a few too many pounds of teenage girl draped over him, he sucks up his desire to avoid confrontation and asks Elena if she's doing it on purpose.
"This is going to sound pathetic," Elena begins, in the kind of matter-of-fact tone that really says don't argue with me. He wants to get an answer out of her, so he just raises his eyebrows incredulously. Not that this is a contest, but he spent months looking for his vampire wife, became friends with his vampire wife's murderer slash lover who also stabbed him, and is now spending his nights on his dead girlfriend's couch. All he's saying is, he knows from pathetic. "Okay," Elena says, "I'm really lonely. I'm in my room and my bed is empty and there's no one sleeping down the hall, down either side of the hall, and I start fretting about Jeremy and how he's doing and thinking about when Aunt Jenna used to check up on me in the middle of the night to make sure I was sleeping after my parents died, and it's just. It's easier to fall asleep on the couch and smooth out all the wrinkles in the morning."
"I could go home if you want."
"No," Elena says, quick and loud. "I mean, you can if you want. But it's not the couch I want. It's just—being with someone."
"Okay," Alaric says. He felt less lost when this conversation started.
"You could... sleep with me," Elena suggests, and Alaric feels his eyes go wide. "I mean, not with me, just. In my bed."
"Yeah, that makes it normal."
Elena's shoulders square up in response. That's the gesture that says I'm going to argue with you. On the subject of—wanting him to sleep in her room. In her bed. With her. He didn't anticipate that one. "It doesn't make it normal, it makes it comfortable. More comfortable than the couch. There's actual room in it." She shrugs at that, smiling a little, trying to play it off as routine. The horrible part is it sounds just like it—just like the couple of times he heard her promise Jenna she'd be back really soon from a weekday party. Having that tone directed at him, asking for this, is freaking surreal. "It doesn't have to be all the time, but I haven't been sleeping at all, and these past few days, the times I fell asleep on the couch with you--I slept the whole night. I know it helps you, too."
The thing is, she's right, and she's right when she remarks that it's not like any of her life is normal. He wishes, sometimes, that he could give her that, but that ship sailed long ago and he's the least qualified person on earth to try to bring it back. She's made her choices.
"We can just try it," Elena says. "If it's too weird we don't have to do it again. But I think it would just be awkward to get settled the first time. It would be fine from there. We've done the rest already."
"Not exactly," Alaric points out, but he can feel his resolve dissipating, and apparently so can Elena, if her thankful smile and the way she squeezes his arm is any indication.
He's just glad it spares him having to agree out loud.