For a while now, Jeremy had been living alone. He didn’t know how it had slipped his mind, but he felt like he’d suddenly awoken one day and realised that he’d been living on his own for months now. His parents had died, leaving him with Jenna as a carer - Elena in the room down the hall-way from him. Then Jenna had been sacrificed and Alaric had unofficially taken centre-stage in the caring-of-teenagers division. But the man was roughly put together, spending long evenings down in the bar and coming home to crash on the couch. But after Elena hit her eighteen year mark, he started to live at his own place again. On the other hand, Elena had slowly stopped living in their house, spending her nights in Stefan’s bed.
Now, Jeremy lived here alone. He wasn’t really complaining anymore. It was quiet and with everything that had happened to him and his family - each of them being killed off one by one - he wasn’t surprised to be left to his lonesome.
Sometimes he thought that maybe they all forgot how old he really was. He wasn’t an adult, he wasn’t big and strong like they all seemed to see him, able to take care of himself; he was fourteen years old and living alone, doing his homework and making himself dinner every night. Looking and acting mature didn’t make him any less of a kid, but this was the hand that life had dealt him and he wasn’t going to complain about it when he could easily be six feet under.
Looking through the cupboards and then the fridge, Jeremy sighed when he found that they contained no more food at his disposal and geared himself up to start walking to the supermarket, ideas of future meals for one and prices coming to mind as he walked. The Grill didn’t really pay him very well, but it was enough to buy him enough food for a month with a couple of weeks worth of wages, half of the money that his parents had left them being locked up tight and untouchable until he turned eighteen (Elena had already claimed the other half).
Making sure to lock the door behind him, Jeremy walked down the street like he’d done a million times before with his black and red earphones playing loudly for his background noise.
Little did he know what was about to happen to him whilst searching in the frozen isle for some chicken nuggets.
Elijah had been having a very bad day.
Everything that he’d planned, a nice book to read by the fire with a glass of blood before he cooked himself a human meal to calm his nerves, had been utterly ruined by his siblings continuous bickering and tantrums. Elijah had to duck every now and again to avoid a flying projectile that Rebekah had tried to throw at Kol or Klaus due to their offences towards her.
Now, he had nothing to cook with.
Over the years, cooking for him had become a domesticated cycle of calmness and normality that he had grown to enjoy as a sort of ‘guilty pleasure’. When he discovered that their pantry was empty of any scrap of food, he’d gone to his brother to get his hybrid slaves to go out and get some. Obliviously, Niklaus had decided to be a larger inconvenience than he already was as he denied his request with a smirk, before he went back to his canvas of painting.
Now, Elijah had to travel to the local market and he was less than pleased to be having to do such trivial work. The chore was completely beneath him and he couldn’t do anything about the odd or hungry looks he got, from women of various ages, as he travelled down each isle of the unfamiliar supermarket in his cutting-edge suit in search of his desired spices and sauces. He felt like he should just compel someone to do it for him while he did something better and was about to do exactly that, when a familiar face caught his eye from among the crowd.
Standing in the frozen isle, two boxes in his hands and seeming to internally debate which brand he would consider buying the most, his earphones playing loudly in his ears, a song that Elijah was not familiar with.
Curious, Elijah quietly walked up to the oblivious teenager, and upon looking around he found no one else in sight. Was Elena and the other interferences really so carless as to let her brother roam free unprotected? Or was this merely a stupidity on her brother’s part?
Just then, Jeremy seemed to have chosen which item he wanted more and placed it in his basket, where everyday food items were piling up, raw meats and jarred sauces, with cereals and bread all packed together. Why with the child shopping for food when it was usually the adult’s job? There was a distinct absence of the usual things that youngsters seemed to buy, no sweets or pastries - only the essentials. He looked at Jeremy then, taking in his youthful features and couldn’t help but wonder how old the child was exactly…
When it looked like the youngest Gilbert was about to walk away with his new purchase, he loudly and expectantly cleared his throat, hoping that the child would hear him over that infernal music that was honestly far too loud, even for human standards. He got his wish when Jeremy’s limbs stiffened, knuckles going white around the metal handle of the basket that he had shifted closer to his body on instinct. Slowly, and slightly regretfully, he turned around to face Elijah, a pained expression on his face as their eyes briefly connected, Jeremy immediately ripping his eyes away in a fearful attempt to stop any compulsion that Elijah might try - despite the boy wearing his vervain bracelet.
Hesitantly removing his earbuds, Jeremy coughed awkwardly, his muscles tense in his instinctual fight or flight instinct, but he seemed to keep them at bay, knowing that both would end in his inevitable death right there in the frozen isle. There was pure and raw fear in the boy’s wide brown eyes as he realised who it was, standing merely two inches away from him, and Elijah couldn’t help but feel slightly guilty over the fact that the boy was so familiar with that terrifying emotion and could force himself to stand his ground. The Gilbert boy’s sense of safety and innocence having been destroyed by having to fear for his life on a daily basis due to his brother terrorising the whole town and killing off the rest of his family, leaving him with only his sister.
“What do you want?” came the stiff voice from Jeremy as he raised his chin in defiance, fear and fire swirling in his dark eyes. Elijah couldn’t help but note that in the florescent lighting of the store, his deep brown eyes took on a hint of red as they bore into his own blue eyes, before flicking away once again.
Frowning slightly, Elijah cast one last look around, his ears tuning into the whole shop, but he still found no Salvatore, vampire, werewolf, witch or sister within the premises, or beyond. “How old are you?” he asked, curiosity getting the better of him.
Suspicion and confusion was Jeremy’s immediate response. Confused questions and theories ran rampant through Jeremy's head, his suspicions made clear by the intensity of his brown-eyed stare that he connected to Elijah’s, momentarily forgetting about his fear of being compelled. After a few short seconds, Jeremy shifted, muscles tense as he cast his gaze towards the frozen food. “Why?” he settled on as he moved up the isle, picking up another box of preserved food as to distract him from his fear of the powerful vampire just beside him.
Elijah followed, his $500 shoes gliding over the white floor, that had been shined and buffed with cheap polish, with inhuman gracefulness that added to the vampire’s old and chivalrous manner. “Curiosity,” he spoke honestly, “Though I do not mind if you refuse to answer as I can just obtain the information by other means.”
This time, Jeremy’s eyebrows rose, a list of pros and cons in telling the original his age seeming to waft over his eyes, before he made to answer, “I’m fourteen.” he stated, voice cautious.
Elijah found his eyebrows climbing at the news of this; he hadn’t expected the boy to be so young. “And where is your sister, Elena, or one of her lovers? Surely you should not be alone.” he pressed, making sure to not let his tone slip into something threatening or endangering - as it often did - to put the child at ease.
In reply, Jeremy shrugged, reading the instructions of a box as he answered distractedly, “I don’t really know where Elena is nowadays, but she’s probably with Stefan. Damon and Alaric will probably be drinking at the bar, so something. And I think the others are trapped doing a school thing orchestrated by Caroline.” he then paused, winced and then muttered, “I shouldn’t have said that…”
Nodding, Elijah ignored the murmured remark as he gestured to the basket, “Do you have a passion for cooking, young Jeremy?” he inquired, prompting them to move on - Jeremy on the look out for ingredients to buy once more.
The youth shook his head as he picked up another packet, “No. I only cook because I need to eat. I ran out of food in the cupboard so I got some savings and now I’m buying some easy meals. It’s easier to buy for one, now that Elena doesn’t live with me.” he answered absentmindedly with another shrug.
Elijah frowned once again, storing the information away as the boy revealed more and more about his less than satisfactory home life. By what he was saying, the child worked for his money and lived on his own without any help from his older sister who seemed to have abandoned him. It also seemed as if he had no other carer either.
“How have you learned the art of cooking, then?”
“My friend, Anna, helps me sometimes,” Jeremy smiled at the mention of his friend, but then he looked beside Elijah and his smile widened, before he gestured to the same place, “She’s here now.” he then saw the elder’s confused frown and decided to elaborate, “She’s a ghost. Killed by my Uncle for being a vampire, but he’s dead now as well. She’s all alone on the Other Side, so she hangs around me and helps me cook sometimes.”
The spark of reassurance, that maybe Jeremy wasn’t all alone in his house, was swiftly extinguished with that fact and Elijah gained some more concerning information with the admittance that Jeremy was a medium, meaning that he had previously died and came back to life…
Seeing something he wanted, Elijah reached up to a high shelf before putting the object in his basket, the teen’s eye seeming to zero-in on the movement, with a healthy dose of caution, before settling on the basket of food that the ancient vampire held. “What are you doing here anyway? Don’t you have little helpers to fulfil all of your shopping needs?”
Smirking slightly at the boy’s less than subtle interrogation, Elijah answered, “To tell the truth, my brother was feeling petty and so wouldn’t lend me a hybrid to do my bidding. I wished to cook and so I am here.”
“You cook?” Jeremy asked, unable to mask the surprise in his voice.
Nodding, Elijah replied, “On occasion. I have many other interests and hobbies that I have collected over the years. And you?” he asked, curious as he didn’t know very much about the boy, all of his focus having been on his sister (perhaps that was why Jeremy was on his own, his sister having taken up everyone’s attention).
The fourteen year old gave a small one shoulder shrug as he picked up something else that he needed, “I like drawing sometimes. I stopped for a while after my parents died, but I started up again when Damon compelled my ‘suffering’ away when I witnessed him and Stefan kill my first crush. I still don’t remember what happened though…” he frowned slightly before giving a weak smile to Elijah and another shrug as if to say ‘what can you do?’, obviously having accepted the amount of death around him long ago.
“Ah,” Elijah started, with a hidden smile, choosing with utmost determination to ignore the boy’s obvious suffering, “Perhaps that is why Niklaus has spared you thus far. A young artistic mind appeals to him most often than not.”
Jeremy frowned at Elijah, before he shook his head and turned down a different isle, stepping passed the hurried and haggard mother with ease, “Yeah, right. I assure you, the only reason I’m still breathing is because I’m good leverage over Elena,” he looked down slightly as he added, “I know that sooner or later, he’s going to find me as more expendable than useful and kill me off.” he smiled weakly up at Elijah, “Thanks for trying to make me feel better though.”
Distantly, Elijah knew that what the boy was saying was true. Knew that Klaus’ best interests only lied within his own jurisdiction and that when Jeremy stopped being more troublesome than useful, he’d kill him off without a second thought. Elijah felt slightly ashamed that it was his own brother that was threatening this child, his brother that would probably end his life.
Any lesser being would have run away from the threats of his terrifying brother, or broken down crying, loosing all hope. Jeremy seemed almost unaffected, treating the major threat to his life as a minor bump on the road or a task he had to deal with in order to protect his sister. However, it would seem to Elijah that Jeremy cared more for his sister than she did for him. Her absence in his life being nothing short of abandonment.
It didn’t please Elijah on any level.
His views on the brave girl that had taken him down due to her fast thinking and caring heart suddenly diminished at a great rate. It would seem that her actions and personality were slowly changing in the face of her own happiness.
For the rest of the time that they were shopping, Elijah kept silent, following Jeremy down one isle and the next. Elijah only watched as the boy went about his human life, seemingly unaffected about living alone at the age of fourteen, talking a little, presumably, with Anna as they walked and picked things up, seeming to argue with her about the things he should pick up. Jeremy’s views being the cost and concerning the little money he had and Anna’s views being more along the taste and quality of the food, if Jeremy’s mutterings and eye rolls were anything to go by.
It wasn’t as clear to Jeremy, who had taken to taking care of himself like a fish would to water, or perhaps he refuses to acknowledge it, but to Elijah it was clear as day that he’d been abandoned and left behind in the name of protecting Elena. He was collateral damage that no one seemed to care about. A child left alone in the world of supernatural horror. And Elijah could only feel anger and disgust for the so called holier than thou Mystic Gang, that fought him and his family so often, with this new detail that had come to light in the form of Jeremy Gilbert.
As they came to the end of their small trip, Jeremy paid for his food out of his own pocket before he started to carry the heaping bags towards the exit. He stopped to give a small nod of ‘goodbye’ to Elijah, his arms too weighed down by the bags to wave, and carried on.
However, before the boy could begin his trek home, Elijah’s hand clamped over his shoulder as he lead the youngest Gilbert to his car. Swiftly, he put Jeremy’s bought items into his trunk, doing the same to his own bagged groceries, all whilst ignoring Jeremy’s pitiful protests, that only seemed to amuse Elijah if the small quirk to his lips were to say anything.
Wordlessly, Elijah got into the driver’s seat and there was only a moment of hesitation before Jeremy climbed in beside him, his head turning subtly as he took in the decorated interior of his fancy car.
Both of them remained in comfortable silence as Elijah drove, Jeremy shifting slightly every now and again. He let out a small breath of relief when they pulled up alongside his house, thankful that Elijah took him home instead of kidnapping him. Jeremy wasted no time in putting his shopping indoors, waving a thanks to Elijah as the vampire drove down the road.
When Elijah arrived home, he felt strangely empty as he closed the door of his car, his own small amount of shopping in hand. Well, he did feel empty until Klaus came round the corner, a smirk in place.
“Ah, Elijah,” he greeted with a smile that showed more teeth than necessary, “I was just wondering when you’d return home to us. I need the Gilbert boy-“
He was suddenly interrupted by Elijah, fury filling the elder’s chest as he advanced on his brother, teeth bared in his usually stoic expression; his black veins prominent and red clouded his eyes, as he gripped his younger brother’s neck in a painfully tight grip, “No,” he didn’t raise his voice, “You will not harm the Gilbert boy any more than you already have, brother. He is not but a child. Fourteen years old and look at what you have subjected him to already. Have you no honour at all?” he practically spat, his face slowly turning back to normal, though a disgusted snarl still graced his features, “Leave him out of your plans, brother, or you shall have my wrath to deal with as consequence.”
Klaus’ smile had fallen as he stared at his brother with an unreadable expression. He leant forward as he murmured in Elijah’s ear, “As you wish, brother.” and then stepped around Elijah, stalking off further into the house.
Elijah let out a small breath of relief, knowing that his brother would not pursue young Jeremy. For a small time, at least…
Katherine Pierce was a survivor. She could live through anything and she didn’t care who she had to sacrifice in order to do it.
She felt nothing for her doppelgänger, but jealousy and hatred. She wanted everything Elena had in her perfect little life because she had everything that Katherine had lost. She wanted a clean slate, loyalty and she wanted Stefan. Elena also had something that Katherine hadn’t realised she wanted, not even thinking about it until it was in her face, clear as day. She wanted a little brother.
In the 15th century, big families were a normal occurrence and so Katherine had grown up with many siblings, both older and younger than her.
At the sight of Jeremy, Elena’s fourteen year old brother, Katherine had been painfully reminded of her own little brother that she had lost when Klaus had murdered them all. Alexander had been the only sibling to not turn his back on her when she fell pregnant with a child after sleeping with a man before even marrying. He had been the one to help her pack, to kiss her goodbye as he escorted her as far as he could, pressing a large bag of coins that he’d earned into her palm before he wished her well and they had to turn their separate ways.
Alexander had been the only family member she had mourned beside her mother when she had happened upon the massacre of her family. She remembered his lifeless body cradled in her lap, his skin pale and the blood over his chest had long since dried and turned cold, as she cried over him, using shaky fingers to close his eyes for one final time.
It had hit Katherine with a bout of homesickness when she had noticed how similar Alexander was to Jeremy, their eyes, their smiles, their softly spoken voice that was deep and soothing. She’d often wondered if perhaps a sibling of hers had lived and produced a child, the child being an ancestor to the Gilbert family. It was at those times looking at Jeremy that she missed her younger brother the most. Maybe that was why she hadn’t killed him yet?
What pissed her off more than her shadow self getting everything Katherine had ever wanted, was that Elena seemed to take advantage of the loyalties of her many friends and took advantage of Jeremy, still so young, naive and innocent. Expecting him to give her no second of doubt even when she obviously picks and chooses when she should concern herself with him.
Currently, the famous and ever so righteous Mystery Gang had left Jeremy all on his own, fending for himself alone in a large house as Elena lived it up with Stefan. They barely bothered to keep the kid up to date with everything that was happening, making him oblivious to certain things and vulnerable to manipulation. Obviously they kept him in the loop for the important things going on in the dangerous town, like the latest murder or Bad Guy, but they neglected to inform him of the smaller things.
Small things such as Elena heading out of town for a romantic weekend away with Stefan.
If Jeremy knew that, he would know that it was Katherine who had just walked into the Gilbert household, looking perfectly like Elena. Evidently, the Gang’s lack of communication worked in her favour...
“Hey, Jer.” she greeted casually with a small wave.
“Hey, Elena,” Jeremy smiled at Katherine warmly, “You staying for dinner, tonight? I got some food the other day or so…” he trailed off. His expression looked unconcerned as if he didn’t care whether she left or stayed, but his eyes were full of desperation, wanting to spend some time with someone. His desperation for wanting to spend time with the only remaining family he had left, had him quickly dismissing all of Katherine’s quirks. Which he would have spotted and deduced her as not Elena, if he hadn’t been so overcome with emotion.
Smiling slightly, Katherine nodded, “Yeah, sure. Thanks.” she then walked to the living room, flopping down on the couch next to Jeremy and folded her legs under herself, “I was thinking about having a Sibling Night. You know, with a movie, maybe eat some pop-corn. We haven’t done anything in so long.” she pouted slightly, not being able to resist doing something that was so un-Elena, but Jeremy didn’t seem to notice it. Or simply ignored it.
The smile that she got from the Baby Gilbert was absolutely radiant, the love and joy in his eyes being solely directed at her made Katherine give the kid a real smile back and made her relax slightly as he started to talk, an edge of excitement to his voice that was almost contagious, “Okay, I’ll get started on the bolognese! You chop up the onions!” he called as he bounded from his seat and into the kitchen, pots and pans banging about loudly as he tried to set everything up.
Katherine could only roll her eyes, a reluctant smile to her face before she stood up, waving him away as he went to collect the chopping board and ingredients.
In the time that both ‘siblings’ were cooking dinner, chaos reined in the Gilbert household: the onions made ‘Elena’ cry; pouring out the source from the jar so roughly had caused it splat all over their faces; neither of them were certain how long the spaghetti was supposed to boil and so both of them ended up throwing most of the pasta at the tiles, see if it would stick or not (a technique Jeremy had been told about by Anna).
When dinner was finally finished, there was an unmistakable mess in the kitchen that made it looked like an atomic bomb had gone off. Both of them ate the dish from bowls, standing up in the destroyed kitchen, laughing at little things with one another, Jeremy reminiscing about childhood memories and their parents, Katherine just laughing along or laughing at Elena when he told a story of her doing something stupid.
When their food had been demolished, Katherine had pulled out the sweet pop-corn, putting it in the microwave. Jeremy also started to put together a plate of cheesy nachos and as they made their way out to the living room, they made sure to grab the tub of strawberry ice-cream and two spoons.
Greedily, they ate their way through each portion, stuffing their faces and Jeremy dared his ‘sister’ to stuff as many marshmallows into her mouth as she could and then say ‘fluffy bunny’ before adding more. The movie was something Katherine had never seen before and she found herself enjoying the pastime as she spoke with Jeremy throughout it.
Soon the movie ended and they put another on, and another, and another, and as the night progressed, the amount of food about them dwindled to nothing but crumbs on a plate. Not before long, Jeremy was asleep on the sofa, cheek squished into the pillow as he breathed deeply and soundly, looking content, even in a deep a sleep as he was.
Katherine couldn’t help the small, genuine smile that made it to her lips as he muttered slightly in his sleep. She felt relaxed, something she hadn’t felt in a long while, and she just wished that she could bring the kid along with her, turn him maybe and adopt him as her own little brother as it was clear that Elena didn’t care about him or deserve him. But she couldn’t. No one could know how she really felt about the Gilbert Boy, that he reminded her of her own brother, because it was a weakness and weaknesses got you killed. If she left now - the revelation that it had been Katherine and not Elena, coming to light later - they would assume that she had used Jeremy for information about Elena, which she did. So it wasn’t a complete lie.
Looking about the mess of the room, Katherine stealthily made her way around the mess of things on the coffee table and on the floor, turning off the television as she went. Whether she had a good time or not, there was no way she was cleaning any of the rubbish up. Jeremy’s house, Jeremy’s mess.
With a small kiss to the Baby Gilbert’s cheek, smirking at the red lipstick that printed itself there, she upped and left the house with a small bounce in her step and a smirk on her face.
Oh, she did love to meddle…
As Jeremy woke up, it was slow going and sort of painful. There was a crick in his neck and his shoulder felt funny from sleeping on it, dried up dribble had travelled down the corner of his lips to his chin in the night and his hair was a huge mess that wouldn’t look out of place in the wilderness.
Wincing at the natural sunlight that streamed through the open curtains, Jeremy stumbled slightly to his feet, a tired sigh on his lips as he stretched out his limbs before dramatically sagging his shoulders, hunching them like a gorilla. Eyes barely open, Jeremy took in the mess still around him with a small frown, His hand went out to the spot that Elena had been sitting in the night before, but found the spot stone cold. Had she gone up to her room after he fell asleep? Why didn’t she clean at least a little bit of the mess?
Rubbing a hand over his face and shuffling his feet to the kitchen, Jeremy made himself a cup of coffee and sighed into the heated goodness. God bless caffeine. When he took his first sip, the liquid instantly waking him up, he noticed a note in cursive writing pinned to the fridge by a magnet.
Cautiously, he took the note from the fridge and read it:
Dear Baby Gilbert,
Thanks for the movie and snacks, I’d never watched Narnia before. I had fun.
However, like all good things, it just had to end.
Looks like you’re not as boring as your sister after all.
See you around. xx
Panicked, Jeremy read over the note again and again, willing for it to be some kind of sick joke made by his sister. But the more he read, the more he started to believe it: he’d had Fun Sibling Time with Katherine Pierce, Manipulative Bitch extraordinaire.
“Oh my god…” he said slowly and regretfully. He felt awful. Like he’d somehow cheated in his sister with her arch-nemesis. Scraping his hair back with his hand, Jeremy let out a breath before he set down the note and started to clean up the empty packets of food around the kitchen, putting it in the bin. He didn’t really want to torture himself with thoughts of what could have happened and so occupied himself with cleaning.
Suddenly, a knock came from the front door and Jeremy felt his gut drop in dread when he heard Stefan’s voice through the barrier, telling him to open up.
Opening the door, Jeremy greeted his sister’s vampire boyfriend with a smile, “Hey Stef-“
“What is that?” he interrupted, Stefan’s own greeting smile giving way to a frown of confusion as he pointed at something on Jeremy’s cheek, “Is that lipstick?”
Jeremy felt his cheeks start to flame up at that, his hand instantly going to his cheek to rub away the offending mark that Katherine must have placed there. Jeremy really didn’t want to think about it too much…
Seeing his obvious panic, Stefan grabbed his bicep, grounding him, “Hey, what happened?”
Wincing slightly at the question, Jeremy reluctantly answered Stefan, wincing as he confessed, “Katherine may have hung out with me last night, pretending to be Elena...”
There was a silence between the two as Stefan looked down at the young teen blankly, looking like his brain had crashed with an overload of information. Patiently, Jeremy waited for his reaction with a slightly pained expression.
Damon was bored as hell. There was absolutely nothing to do. Stefan and Elena had gone on a date in Richmond for a whole day, threatening that if they saw him there, they would stake him to a wall by four different parts of his body and leave him there or the whole day. It was rather brutal and an overreaction in Damon’s opinion, he’d only barged in on, maybe, a half a dozen of their dates.
He sure did love being a third wheel.
But with the threat hanging in the air, he really had nothing to do, the large boarding house seeming too big as he drank his bourbon on his own, too quiet, too empty. He was bored and everyone else seemed to outright hate him, which would only result in them trying to stake him as well, or explode his brain, both of which hurt like a bitch.
Sighing out into the hollow room, Damon stared at the wall as he nursed his drink, the glass cradled to his chest like a precious baby, his mind conjuring a million different things that he couldn’t do, or wasn’t allowed to do. Damon then threw his head back against the back of the sofa with a pained groan, he sounded like a neutered dog. How pathetic.
Then, like God answering his prayer after much neglect, the front door opened and a voice called out into the ridiculously large halls, “Elena?”
Speeding next to the intruder, Damon smirked down at Baby Gilbert as he gave a startled jump and turned to glare at the vampire. Lazily, Damon walked around to stand in front of the teen as he drawled out, “Well, well, well, if it isn’t Little Gilbert. What do you want with Elena?”
Glaring at the annoying vampire, Jeremy gritted his teeth to stop himself from saying anything that would give Damon a reason to snap his neck again (seriously? What did he mean ‘what do you want with Elena’?! She was his damn sister!). “There’s a parent-teacher conference that she signed up to go to. Alaric said that he couldn’t take care of it because he had some stuff to do outside of town. Elena said she’d do it instead.” he explained. He was really nervous about his parent-teacher conference as it was becoming clearer by the day to the teachers that Jeremy didn’t have a proper guardian. If they found out he was living alone, they had a ‘duty’ to take him away and put him in a more ‘stable’ home for his benefit. He really didn’t want to go into Foster Care. Matt and Vicki nearly did when they were younger, but then they decided that Matt was mature enough to take care of them both while his mother was away for extended amounts of time. It had been a lucky miss. Jeremy was fourteen twice-over orphan and living home alone with a sister/guardian that stayed with her boyfriend 24/7. He really needed the visit to go well. “Do you know where she is?”
“Yeah,” Damon nodded, brining a relieved smile to Jeremy’s face, “She’s in Richmond for the day with Stefan. I wouldn’t bother calling either, they both turned off their phones.” Jeremy’s smile fell immediately…
Eyes impossibly wide, he looked at Damon, “What? You can’t be serious.” he shook his head in denial despite knowing that the vampire was telling the truth, “You are serious. What am I going to do…” he wiped his hands through his chestnut hair as he breathed deeply. Then his eyes lit up with an idea. Turning quickly to the immortal, he pointed at him, “You could compel them.”
“To do what?” the dark haired vampire asked before he turned and started to walk away, prompting Jeremy to keep in step behind him.
“If they start asking about my home life, tell them everything’s fine and that they have absolutely nothing to worry about. Tell them that I’m in a stable environment. If they, at all, say anything about sending someone, you tell them ‘no’ and to never send anyone. Ever.” Jeremy explained clearly to Damon, the vampire having stopped and turned to face the kid half way through.
Frowning slightly at what Jeremy had said, he lifted his chin and asked curiously, “When is it then?”
“About a half and hour from now,” Jeremy said as he looked at his phone for the time, “You’re not recognised as my guardian, but you can compel that as well.” he shrugged and added, “I’m not allowed to be there and you’ve got to be there on time.”
Waving the teen off, Damon said he’d do it and sat down on the sofa, knocking back his drink before refilling his glass once again. It might be interesting being a parent. Besides, it’s not like he had anything better to do.
By the time the conference was starting, Damon was sitting on one of the uncomfortable science stools, cursing Jeremy from Heaven to Hell as his supernaturally delicate ears were forced to listen to the teacher drone on about the school’s curriculum for the year. Everything was going smoothly and Damon didn’t know what Baby Gilbert was so paranoid about. That was until Damon was called out of the class.
“I need to speak to Jeremy Gilbert’s guardian, please?” a petite woman in a deep grey pencil-skirt stepped into the classroom, half-mooned glasses perched on her nose as she looked about.
Casually raising his hand, Damon got up without a word and followed the woman down the hall and into the Headmaster’s office where the door was immediately shut behind him and the blinds closed. He was confused to see Liz standing behind the desk with a balding male sitting in the Headmaster’s chair and another stern looking woman at his other side, clip-board and pen at the ready.
As he looked into Liz’s guilty eyes, he felt concern rise in him for the first time that day.
“You are Jeremy Gilbert’s guardian?” the stern woman asked (looked like she could use more than a stiff drink to loosen her up).
“Yes. My name’s Damon Salvatore,” their eyes connected, “I’m sure my name is on there as guardian.” he indicated the clipboard on the woman’s arms.
The woman paused and nodded. Damon ignored the heated glare he was receiving from Liz.
“Right, your name’s right here,” the woman nodded again, as she flipped through the papers to double check, “I am Abigail Burton and I’m a social worker,” Oh, god, “I’m here due to the many reports of Jeremy’s condition. Several concerns have been made from Jeremy’s neighbours, stating that they have seen him living alone for the past six months, his sister, Elena Gilbert, never staying for the night, and he’s been witnessed by neighbours and other close family friends to be ‘neglected’ as stated in Sheriff Forbes folder.” the woman explained, Liz looking guilty as she set down a folder, “It’s clear to us that you have been neglecting your charge Mr. Salvatore and his attitude in school has only raised more concerns from the many employees at this school. Quiet, withdrawn and defensive behaviour are normal indicators of neglect. With six months, a notice was sent to you and no change in the routine or behaviour has been made, I’m afraid that we are going to have to remove your claim on Jeremy and move him to a more stable location where he will be properly cared for.”
Shocked and wide eyed at how fast this had all escalated, Damon snapped as he stood up, “You can’t just take him away! He has a family here, his whole life is here! You have no right to just up and take him!”
“Damon-“ Liz tried to interrupt but the other woman cut across her, her voice as sharp and cutting as shattered glass.
“I’m afraid we have every right to do that. With Jeremy’s parents having passed away and any other legal guardian also passing, Jeremy is at a very difficult time in his life and with the lack of care that you are providing him, it is in his best interests that you let him go.”
Finally loosing his cool, Damon sped over to the woman with a face like thunder, ignoring the panicked exclaims of the Headmaster, as he compelled the woman, “Jeremy is fine. You feel no need to move him into a ‘stable home’ as he is already in one. There are no problems that you can see with his behaviour or home life.” he didn’t even wait for the woman to recite it back when he was on the Headmaster, telling him to forget what he saw and all concerns about Jeremy.
Fuming, Damon waited for the woman to dismiss him with a warm smile and stormed out of the boxed office. Liz followed soon after, hot on his heels as he shoved open some swinging doors in the hall, uncaring that he dented the walls with the handles.
“Damon,” the Sherif called sharply, “Damon! Stop! This is a place of public education. You can’t afford to throw a tantrum right now.” she hissed and watched quietly as Damon paced the hall with his hands on his hips, a dark look in his eyes.
“They wanted to take him away, Liz, how could you not tell us this!” Damon hissed at the woman, “Elena would have been devastated if she came back from her trip and found that her brother was rushed off into Foster Care!”
“Maybe the laws of humans don’t concern you all the time, but I am still the Sherif, Damon!” Liz snapped back, anger rising as she spoke, “I’ve got over two dozen complaints in that folder and a detailed report about how Jeremy goes home to an empty house every night, cooks his own meals, does his own laundry, and gets himself to school. His is fourteen, Damon, and no matter how good he is at doing it, he’s not allowed to live on his own while his guardian lives somewhere else! It’s called child neglect! And maybe fourteen years old wasn’t classed as a child when you were born, but in this day and age, he’s classed as a child and unfit to take care of himself until he turns eighteen!”
She was right in his face now, a finger prodded in his chest, but Damon only had an unreadable expression on his face as Liz carried on, “This is bigger than one woman feeling like you’re not doing a good job. This is about a whole network of people who have decided that Jeremy is no longer fit to live with you. They will come back for him if changes don’t happen soon, so tell Elena to get her act together, or she’s going to have to say goodbye to Jeremy as well.”
With that, she walked around Damon and headed out of school, leaving the vampire in deep thought about what he should do.
Slowly, Damon made his way out of the school, driving back to his house where he found Jeremy pacing in the hallway, muttering to himself. The teen immediately stopped when he saw Damon, rushing up to him with wide eyes as he asked what had happened and if they said anything.
Giving the kid a convincing smile, Damon waved him off and said, “They’re completely clueless. All they said was that your grades are good and to keep studying like you have. Didn’t even have to compel anyone except to say that I was your guardian.”
“Really?” Jeremy asked, shocked and then let out a long breath of relief, an easy smile coming to his face, “Oh thank god. I was only panicking because I heard a rumour saying about how they’re thinking of sending me away because I live alone. I do not want to go to Foster Care.” he waved to Damon as he walked to the front door, “Thanks for doing that Damon. Tell Elena I said ‘hi’.” and then he was gone.
Damon’s cocky smile fell into a concerned frown. He wasn’t sure if he should have lied to the kid about it, but he didn’t want to scare him by saying that they were about ready to march into his house, pack his things, and force him into a car before shipping him overstate.
One thing for sure, he really needed to speak to Elena.
If she didn’t do anything, Damon might actually let the people take Jeremy next time; he really shouldn’t have to take care of himself like he was. If it was in the kid’s best interest, then it didn’t matter if Elena would be upset about it.
After several minutes, Damon left his house. He really needed to look at the folder and see what exactly Jeremy was having to do and where the complaints were coming from…
Walking down the corridors of the school, Rebekah couldn’t help but feel board as she looked around at all the humans, teenagers laughing or panicking over the smallest of things. Everything seemed so tedious in this century and everyone that had a different diversity each cared extravagantly much about just one thing: for the nerds, it was their studying; for the jocks, it was their sports; for the cheerleaders, it was their perfect routine; for the druggies, it was about their next hit. The list just went on and on and it was beginning to become quite boring.
The only fun she had anymore was when she bothered Elena and her pesky group of tag-alongs. They just got so bothered whenever one of them had their feathers slightly ruffled, it was rather amusing, if not slightly annoying, how high they viewed themselves on the spectrum of things.
One thing she was sure about though was that the 'tables of caring' seemed to be shifting. Where everyone used to be ‘Elena this’ and ‘Elena that’, eyes were now turning to the youngest Gilbert for some particular reason. She’d heard her brothers fighting the other day and it sounded like Elijah would really act on his threat if Klaus were to hurt the little insignificant human; she’d also heard rumours of Damon and Katherine getting up in the boy’s business. She didn’t really see the appeal, in all honesty. It was just another attention seeker, just another helpless human that they wont even remember the name of by the time half a century or two had passed.
It would only make sense that the other Gilbert would start acting up when the other was getting more attention. Sibling rivalry and all…
So, that was going to be her new person of interest to annoy.
Also, ignoring Elena and the prissy bunch would surely bruise their egos a little, so this was like a 'two birds with one stone' deal for her.
Smirking slightly at the thought, Rebekah commenced her hunt during the lunch hour, intent on low-key threatening Jeremy and his little friends, who would be blissfully ignorant of everything she was implying. Practically marching down the hallways in search for the little runt, Rebekah found herself growing more and more annoyed as she couldn’t spot him in any area of the school: the bleachers were a no-go, the benches were filled but he was nowhere in sight, the classes were all empty. Literally, every place she went, was with an absence of the youngest Gilbert.
Just as she felt like she was about to give up on her search for a little fun, she rounded into the library and stopped.
Sitting there with a large book in hand, black lines and smudges all over the pages, was Jeremy. But his art was being neglected at that moment as he paid complete attention to his sister as she muttered quietly to him, harsh and short in his ear. What was more intriguing was that little Jeremy seemed to not enjoy his sister’s company, his subtle glare less prominent to Elena but clear as day to Rebekah’s advanced eye.
Then he spoke up, his soft voice having a dangerous edge to it, “Look,” he started, “I’m sorry that you think we shouldn’t have lied about it but there was really no other option, Elena. Why do you always want to get rid of me so badly? First you send me to Denver and now you’re thinking of sending me away permanently?”
“Jeremy,” Elena sigh with great exasperation, a hand rubbing over her forehead, “I’m not trying to send you away again. I’m just keeping our options open. You’re only fourteen and you live by yourself and you work to pay for food. I looked at the bills last month and you’ve paid the electric and water bills. No kid at fourteen years old should know how to do that.”
“Then why don’t you come home, then?” Jeremy suddenly snapped, glaring at his sister with heat in his eyes, “There’s a simple solution to all of this. One that doesn’t involve you shipping me off to a random home so I can officially say that no one cares enough to look after me, even though it’s clear that I don’t need it, and that’s you coming home. I know I screwed up in the past, but you can’t just brush your hands of me just because you want to shack up with your boyfriend.”
“No!” Jeremy stood up, then, finger pointed accusingly as he practically spat at her, “When Jenna died, we promised to be there for one another. Mum and dad are dead. Uncle John? Dead. Aunt Jenna? Dead. All I have left of my family, through this whole mess, is you. And now, your saying to me that you can’t be bothered to check in on me a few times a week, so you want to ditch me?”
“This is not all about you-“ Elena cut in sharply, a harsh glare directed at the boy.
“And this is not about you, Elena,” Jeremy cut across, “The things you think are best for us are sometimes not what we want. I don’t want to be stuck in the Foster System until I turn eighteen.” he shook his head, “If you were a year younger and in the same boat that I am, you’d be kicking and screaming to Stefan to make it so they never take you away.”
With that, Jeremy snatched up his things and stormed out of the library, a dark look on his features, ignoring Elena’s call of his name as he went. Rebekah melded herself into the wall as he stormed passed, not even noticing her.
Following him, she watched with curious eyes as he stopped mid-way down the empty hall, turning around to face the lockers, his hands gripping his hair tightly, as half choked-off sobs escaped his throat before he could stop it. Then, out of nowhere, he started to punch at the metal lockers; three fast punches, the noise of it echoing down the halls painfully loud, drawing a small amount of blood from his knuckles.
“You should be careful not to bleed everywhere when you know your town is infested with vampires,” Rebekah spoke up, immediately gaining the boy’s attention as his head whipped around to look at her, “Never know who you might set off…” she trailed off as she leaned against one of the lockers, a small smirk in place as she allowed the black veins under her eyes to appear.
Jeremy only shook his head, his fist falling away from the locker, getting a bit of blood on the door but he didn’t seem to care, “I’m not in the mood, Rebekah.” he turned, meaning to walk away but was stopped when she sped in front of him, freezing him in his tracks. His only response was to look at her with a hint of annoyance.
“So,” she drawled, “I heard, that you were going to be taking a little trip out of town. Away from your sister,” she suddenly grinned, “I guess sweet, little Elena wants a little break from you.”
He glared down at her, trying to put on a brave face, but he knew that he wouldn’t be able to hide the hurt in his expressive eyes from the likes of her, “You don’t have to rub it in that the last of my remaining family is planning on abandoning me.” he growled, tears shining brightly in his eyes and thick eyelashes, before he started to move around her.
“Oh, darling,” the blonde pouted mockingly, “I think your overreacting about a little time away from your sister.”
Jeremy then looked at her, a confused and incredulous frown marring his features, “A little time? Foster Care is a place where kids go when their parents are dead, and their families don’t want them. I’ll be there for four years before I could be released.” he explained before he shook his head and then walked around her, leaving her to stare after him with a thoughtful expression.
Would Elena really be so selfish and set in her ways that she would go completely against her little brother’s wishes to satisfy her own desires? Surely he had to be joking, or overreacting… Thinking back to her own family, Rebekah felt a small pang of sympathy for the young boy as, while her parents have proven to be less than stellar, her brother’s had always been there for her when she needed it the most - even when she didn’t want them to be. But Elena seemed to want to give up her brother for some reason. Perhaps she thought herself above taking care of her little brother? Perhaps she just didn’t care?
With these thoughts, running ramped in her head, she walked out of the school, uncaring that her classes for the day hadn’t finished. After all, it’s not like she needed to go.
“Nik,” she called as she came into the house, dropping her bag carelessly on the floor. As she walked further in, she found her half-brother sitting on his plush sofa, a glass of blood cradled in his hand. “Why didn’t you answer?”
“Because I had a distant hope that somehow you would not see me.” he sighed before he stood up from his seat, going to top-up his glass, “What do you want, little sister?”
“What do you know about Foster Care?” she asked, a small tilt to her head. Honestly, she had heard of the phrase before she had been daggered by Nik, but she had paid it no mind. After all, it didn’t effect her or her family in any shape or form and so she remained uninterested and oblivious to the workings of it.
The question seemed to startle her brother, as he stopped what he was doing and gave her a suspicious look, “Why do you wish to know?”
“Little Miss Doppelgänger is thinking about sending her brother there. He seemed rather upset about her suggestion.” she waved off, acting like she didn’t care as she sat down gracefully in an armchair, hiding just how curious she was.
Frowning, Klaus looked at Rebekah, a small amount of shock on his features before it was gone, replaced by his usual smirk, “Foster Care is a system for young orphans with nowhere else to go. Although, the place of stay is usually less than satisfactory. Often, the system is corrupt with the carers being manipulative or boarder-line abusive. No wonder, young Jeremy had been so against the offer.” he dwelled and then smiled at Rebekah, “He probably wont get out of it until he turns eighteen.”
Rebekah felt her eyes widen at the information, having more questions than she did answers, “Why would Elena do that to her brother?”
“Perhaps, in her small world of rainbows with Stefan, Baby Gilbert is no longer part of that and that is why she wants him to leave,” Klaus shrugged, completely uncaring about the boy’s situation, unlike Rebekah was, “Do not feel bad, sister, I’m sure you will never see him again.” he smiled at her before he walked out, knocking back his glass of blood as he went.
Rebekah just frowned at her hands. She just couldn’t understand how Elena could do this to her brother. It was such a cruel repayment for all that he had done for her, for all that he had lost because of her.
For the first time in his long life, Rebekah actually felt sorry for someone other than herself…
Matt had always looked out for Elena, like he said he always would. He was there when she needed a shoulder to cry on, there when her life needed saving, there for comfort, help, support. Anything that he could ever do to help her get through a hard time, he’d done it. Even though he was only human, he came through for her, even at risk of his own life.
Thinking of everything that had happened in their small town, all the lives that had been lost due to Stefan and Damon, all the people sacrificed due to Elena or the Salvatore’s judgement, all the needless deaths, just to keep her from an inevitable death as the human doppelgänger, Matt had to wonder if it had all been worth it. Don’t get him wrong, he would always love Elena, and continue to look out for her, but there was only so much death that a person could handle...
Matt’s sister, Aunt Jenna, the numerous school kids that had gone missing, Matt’s dentist that had been found dead at the side of the road, Caroline being turned. It was just one sacrifice after another and it became hard to see past all the bodies and justify it all to ‘Elena needs help’.
Even now, when she was happy, living her life with Stefan in his big house and no more problems (other than Klaus, but he’s always been a problem, even if he wasn’t there to put a face to the issue at first), there was someone else’s happiness being forfeited for it. Namely, Jeremy.
Matt could see in Jeremy what he’d seen many times in the mirror when Matt had been younger. The pressure, the loneliness, the constant fear that one day, strangers would come to take him away. He’d felt that way whenever his mum had gone out of town, months at a time; things that he wasn’t used to handling spiralling far out of his control. Often, he’d blamed himself for Vicki’s attitude, for her drug use, his guilt keeping him from speaking out against it, until he developed the habit to turn a blind eye.
Where Jeremy was now, Matt had been there. Except Matt had been a little older, his mum phoning in every week, coming home at least one week out of the month (until he got older, that was). But Jeremy hadn’t been dropped by his mum, his mum was dead, same for his dad, same for his aunt. Now, with Elena living with Stefan, ignoring Jeremy, and Alaric too busy falling apart every night to really take care of anyone, Jeremy was the one suffering for his sister’s happiness.
He’d heard her ranting about it at school, to Caroline and Bonnie, who only wore strained smiles when she did so, obviously not agreeing but not speaking up either. Saying about how Jeremy was being too stubborn, that he couldn’t see the benefit of him moving away to a Foster Home, that she’d visit him all the time.
Reflecting back to his youth, Matt could still feel the echo of fear that pounded through him, in rhythm to his heartbeat, when he’d opened his door one day to see a smartly dressed man in a suit, saying that he was with social services and asking to see his mother. To this day, Matt had no idea what made the man stop looking to take him and his sister away, but he was sure that it had something to do with his mum and her unfortunate ‘skill' in the bedroom - Matt remembering when dirty men with stains on their shirts had commented about her to him.
Foster Care was every kid’s worst fear. It was an unknown entity and the stories told were bound to be like cake compared to the stories untold. It wasn’t a happy place and Matt couldn’t help but avoid Elena for the rest of the day when she’d complained about Jeremy ‘kicking up a fuss’ about going there.
Looking at Jeremy now, Matt couldn’t tell why he hadn’t seen this coming. He hadn’t even noticed that Jeremy had been slowly taking up more shifts at the Grill, there nearly all the now except, for when he was in school. All the signs had been there, the stress, the behaviour, the fact that his clothes were beginning to look a little more baggy than he remembered (due to not eating right, or not having enough food, Matt didn’t know).
It wasn’t fair on him.
When Matt looked at Elena’s smiling face, full and happy and completely focused on her own life, and then he looked at Jeremy, taking away their empty glasses, tired bags under his eyes and a false, customer service smile on his lips, he knew what was going on. The contrast between the two siblings were completely wrong and it made Matt’s expression turn grim whenever he thought about it.
As Jeremy bussed tables, doing one after the other, his work diligent as he did so, a smile for the customers and a thorough wipe down, Matt couldn’t help but think that maybe Elena didn’t need protecting anymore. Maybe she had used up his services and now, it was time to turn to someone who needed it more, someone that Elena should have been looking after herself.
The times had changed and Elena wasn’t a sad little girl that had just lost her parents anymore.
But Jeremy was the sad little kid that had been forgotten by his only remaining family as he took care of the house on his own.
“Hey, Jer,” he called, gaining the teen’s attention straight away, “Why don’t you take a little break, I got this.”
For a second, Jeremy seemed to hesitate but soon, he gave a relieved smile and nodded, making his way to the back, a small grateful smile aimed in Matt’s direction.
Yeah, Jeremy was definitely going to need Matt to protect him.
Sitting in the car, the silence feeling hollow and empty once she turned off the engine, she looked up at the house she’d grown up in with a feeling of heavy regret in her stomach. Elena stared into the windows of the living room, alight with a glow from the living room lights but the curtains drawn to keep any unwanted eyes from peering in. Staying with Stefan had been a dream for the last couple of months and she could almost imagine that they were a real adult married couple, no school to interfere, no worries to mull over. It had been paradise.
But then, it had been shattered by reality once again when Damon had practically barged into her and Stefan’s room and he wasn’t very impressed…
As Elena looked up into Stefan’s green eyes, her fingers dancing patterns into his bare chest, he hummed a tune before he gently took her hand and pressed a sweet kiss to the pads of her fingers. Lost in one another’s eyes, they were quite happy to stay like that for the rest of the day, naked in one another’s arms, warm and comfortable.
Then Stefan tensed.
Confused and slightly worried, Elena sat up slightly, a frown marring her features, “Stefan, what’s-“
Suddenly, the door slammed open, both vampire and human in the bed simultaneously wincing at the loud sound of the metal handle being crushed into the wall behind it. As quickly as humanly possible, Elena dived under the covers, glaring in annoyance when Damon didn’t even apologise for storming in; Stefan didn’t move, except for a protective hand on her covered shoulder.
“What do you want, Damon?” she gritted out as she let her head appear from the covers, glaring heatedly at him.
However, she frowned more when Damon’s usual suggestive smirk was blank from his face, a pinched expression in its wake, as he stared at her with cold, blue eyes. When his pursed lips widened in an act of a smile, it sent a cold shiver down her spine. It wasn’t a smile, or a smirk, or a grin, or a quirk of his lips, this was a baring of teeth as he looked down at her.
“Oh hey, guys,” he strolled over to one of the bottom posts of the bed, putting his elbow on it as he casually leaned against it, “I didn’t know you were here.”
“What do you want, Damon?” Stefan repeated, a bored tone in his voice, showing that he was rolling his eyes without even making the action.
“I was just going to ask a question,” he smiled down at Elena cruelly, the cold look still present in his eyes, “How’s Little Gilbert, by the way? I haven’t seen him in ages.”
Immediately, Elena shot up in bed, barely making sure that she had her covers around her bare chest, her eyes wide in fear, but that soon morphed into a glare, “What did you do?” she demanded accusingly, tense and nearly shaking with her anger and fear for her little brother’s safety.
“Nothing,” Damon drawled with a roll of his eyes, “But I did have a lovely chat with his teachers when I went to his parent-teacher conference, very informative with all his teenager needs. I think, perhaps you forgot to attend?” his sarcasm practically dripping from his words.
Elena froze in realisation, her hand coming up to her forehead as she cringed at her own forgetfulness concerning something so important, so wrapped up in her own adventures with Stefan and their romantic get-away. Then she frowned, what he said finally registering in her head, as she turned to Damon, “What? You went? What did they say?”
“Well, the art teacher practically adores him, so that’s a plus. The science teacher didn’t beat around the bush to say that he sucked. Math as well,” he listed off, eyes having rolled up to the ceiling, his fingers going up as he counted along. Then his eyes zoned in on her again, a narrowed glare in place, “Then, I got called to the Headmasters office, Liz and another woman was there.”
Feeling slightly panicked, she asked in a slightly desperate voice, “Oh, god, please tell me he’s not doing drugs again.”
“He’s not doing drugs again,” she had a moment to sigh with relief, “The social worker was about to take off with him,” she tensed once again, “She said something about complaints and that Jeremy’s guardian wasn’t looking after him right,” he gave her a bland smile, “You might want to get on that and start looking after your kid brother for once.”
With that, he sauntered out of the room, ignoring Elena’s shock and Stefan’s comforting words.
With the revelation that Jeremy was nearly taken away from her, she picked up some Foster Care pamphlets and looked online. What she read up wasn’t half as bad as people made it out to be, the carers being thoroughly checked out before they received the children.
She’d felt confident about sending Jeremy there. After all, it’s not like she could take care of him.
A week later and she’d cornered him in the library, reading up on some things. She didn’t waste any time in promoting the subject, pushing him to see past the label people would put on him and think about the benefit to everyone and himself if he were to leave.
Obviously, Jeremy had reacted poorly to her idea and had stormed out before she could really convince him into agreeing with her. Although, technically, she didn’t need his consent to sent him to a Foster Home but she thought it would be decent to at least let him know first.
She’d anticipated Jeremy’s resistance, but she’d never predicted Rebekah’s interference.
With Caroline and Bonnie with her, they were all laughing about the ‘good old days’: Bonnie’s hair-cut mishap, Caroline’s lazy eye when she was really little, Elena’s gap tooth as a kid until her adult teeth came in and blocked it up. They spoke about all the things that they had done as little kids, the way they cried, or when Matt made Caroline cry and he started crying himself because he thought he’d broken her. Showing old photos on their phones and acting out little scenes.
Everything felt just like old times, before the supernatural came into their lives, before knowing death and heartache. Elena almost felt giddy from recalling all the memories of the ‘Golden Days’.
Too giddy to remember that nothing good happened without something bad to taint it. The sudden arrival of Rebekah Mikaelson was a very large taint and Elena never expected to encounter her in the bathroom, still chuckling from a refreshed memory of childhood.
“Well, well, well,” Rebekah drawled as she leaned against a cubical, her lips quirked and her eyes as piercing as ever, “Look what we have here. Not only a little manipulative bitch but a family deserter.”
Sneer on her face, Elena went to walk past the original bitch, but was stopped by the steel trap that had encased her bicep (Rebekah’s hand) and winced at the tightness. Fear skyrocketing in her chest, she fought to keep a straight face and a steady voice as she commanded, “What do you want?”
The vampire cocked her head, her face drawn in mock confusion, “You don’t know?” then the smirk was back, the one that Elena wanted to slap right off the blonde’s face, “I’m here to see the new monster of the town. I never really knew you had it in you, Elena, not even my family have ever considered something so tragic - we have our pact, you see.”
“What are you taking about?”
“I’m talking about your decision to kick your little brother to the curb and toss him aside like last night’s takeaway. While my brother may have subjected me to decades long slumbers, at least he did not abandon me when I had no one left. That takes someone really evil.” she smiled then, widely, as she looked at Elena’s carefully blank expression, “Nice chat, Elena.” she wiggled her fingers cheerily before walking out of the toilet and out of the bar.
After that, she’d taken some time to think it over and then decided that she and Jeremy needed a proper talk, face to face with a calm environment. They could talk about the different options they had for their situation. Maybe they could send him to Denver again? Damon can compel their family friends to let him live there again.
Taking another deep breath, Elena didn’t hesitate when she opened the car door and stepped out, a determined expression on her face. She needed to do this, even if it hurt Jeremy’s feelings, it was for the best.
As she stepped up to her childhood home, her heeled boots echoing on the wooden panelling of the porch, she took out her keys and put them in the door. But that was as far as she got when the door suddenly swung open to reveal Matt, laughing brightly at something that was said inside the house. However, when he turned to face Elena, his smile morphed into something akin to surprise.
“Oh,” he started lamely, “Hey, Elena.” he greeted with a small, thin-lipped smile and a nod (not his usual response for when he greeted Elena, or had he finally gotten over her without her realising?).
“Matt,” she started with a confused smile, “What are you doing here?”
“I live here.” came his simple response, his eyebrows raised in an expression that suggested that she should have known this.
“Since when?” she asked, her arms folding over his chest.
“Since I took over guardianship over Jeremy when you didn’t want to anymore.” he explained slowly and evenly, like she was stupid.
“What? When did this happen? Why would you do that?” the brunette asked, completely shocked.
Suddenly, a familiar dreaded blonde came sauntering round the corner, heels clacking on the polished wooden floors dangerously, “Matty,” she called, ignoring Elena completely, “When are you going to be finished? It’s your turn on this stupid board game that Jeremy insisted upon.”
“Hey!” came the offended tone of Jeremy from the other room, “You’re the one that wanted to know what it was! You’re winning! What are you complaining about?” he questioned incredulously, chuckling slightly.
A twitch of a smile came to the blonde’s face as she rolled her eyes, “Just hurry up,” she ordered Matt with disinterest in her eyes, her voice raising to answer Jeremy as she walked back into the room, “Yes, and you’d best remember who’s kicking your pale little ass at this game you declared yourself ‘champion’ in.”
Eyes wide with shock, Elena’s eyes snapped back to Matt when she could no longer track the blonde, “You let her into my house?!” she hissed, feeling like punching her ex-boyfriend, “Are you crazy?”
“Actually,” Matt tossed his thumb over his shoulder, “It’s Jeremy’s house. You don’t live here anymore.”
“What are you talking about?” she asked, arms crossed again.
“When I went to the social workers, I asked about Jeremy and it had already been signed that you wanted to send Jeremy into the System. I said that I’d take him as I was eighteen and then I signed a bunch of forms. After that, they said that the house was in Jeremy’s name, you getting your mum’s property in Philadelphia, while Jeremy got this house, and when I became his guardian, I could live here too.” he explained, ignoring Elena’s growing shock, “I sold my house and now I live here and take care of Jeremy. He doesn’t even have to work at the Grill at all hours of the day anymore.” he smiled happily, like he’d achieved something great.
Fury flooding onto her features, Elena poked Matt’s chest as she hissed, “You had no right-“
“No. You had no right,” Matt interrupted, a sudden chill in his voice that had her freezing up, “You didn’t even bother to listen to what he wanted. I bet you have no idea what’s going on in his life right now.”
“I know that he’s in danger because you stupidly invited Rebekah in,” she shook her head, “You know what? Forget it. Where’s my brother, it’s not safe for him here anymore.”
“Did you know that Katherine visited him?” Matt asked and she completely froze at the name, “If you were really afraid of vampires getting in, then you should have done it the second she had been invited in.” he shook his head, disappointment evident in his voice, “Jeremy and Rebekah are actually friends, she wouldn’t hurt him unless he stabbed her in the back, and as that’s mainly your department, so he’s not in any danger. Elijah even gave him a job. Ridiculously over paid, but I think he does it on purpose.”
“Are you telling me that Jeremy works for the originals?” Elena asked, panic growing.
“Yeah,” he nodded, “He does Elijah’s food shopping.” he said plainly, with a raise of his eyebrow.
At Elena’s shocked silence, obviously not expecting that job to come to light. Matt just sighed, “Look, he’s happy now. I’m happy to look after him, it’s nice after so many years of looking after Vicki and then loosing her. Rebekah and Elijah come over nearly all the time; Elijah’s practically taken Jeremy in as a chef apprentice and Rebekah… I don’t really know about that - it’s like she’s adopted him, in her own way? She took him clothes shopping last weekend. In all, Jeremy’s doing fine and he’s really happy. Don’t do anything to destroy that.”
Feeling slightly betrayed and angry, she was about to start shouting when Jeremy came to the door, his face as blank face as a white canvas when he looked at Elena.
“Jeremy…” she started, trying to put all her stress and helplessness into her voice, wanting him to come with her.
However, instead of caving in, Jeremy only shook his head, “You wanted to get rid of me so badly… I’m happy here, Elena,” he took the door, “Bye, Elena.” he said before he closed the door on her, the soft click of the door locking from the inside having more of an effect on Elena than words ever would.
Feeling a tightness in her chest, Elena fought with herself not to cry as she turned around and drove home, straight into Stefan’s arms. She then had a break down and all Stefan could do was hug her through her big, heaving sobs. Later that night, Stefan helped her forget about the hurtful, silent rejection of her little brother and her oldest friend.
Over time, she would completely forget about the rejections and live her life as she wished, ignoring the fact that Jeremy seemed far more happier without her...