Actions

Work Header

someday you will ache like i ache

Work Text:

Elena sits in the passenger seat of her car and feels nothing. When she glances to her right, all she sees is herself. But that version of her is composed. Thicker hair curled impeccably. Back straight and unbreakable. Fingers relaxed against the steering wheel despite the dried stains of blood against her knuckles. Her reflection sits straight as she tilts her head up and peers over the wheel and floors the car through the dirt roads of Atlanta.

She thinks to tell her she’s been here before. There had been a witch, a bar, and a man broken by grief. There had been a boy posing as a man with bright blue eyes and messy black hair who hid behind smirks to try and make her blind to the pain he felt throbbing inside of him. She thinks to tell her that, but her story now feels like a lifetime ago and is about a man who’s now become the ghost that he’s been for almost one hundred and fifty years.

But that’s not her who sits in the driver’s seat. Elena stares at her and notes the differences. Katherine sits taller. Katherine’s bracelet glints in the sun. Katherine wears sunglasses that are bigger than her eyes which give her a mysterious yet chic appearance that makes Elena want to stare. Katherine drives in her sharp heels with her red lips parted, never turning her gaze towards her. She keeps her gaze straight ahead, her focus on the future while Elena peers back and dwells on the past.

Katherine is strong. Elena is weak.

Elena wills her to look at her. She wants Katherine to see her, but Katherine has never done what she’s wanted.

She realises, momentarily, that she’s shaking. Glancing down at her hand, she sees her fingers move against her wishes. There’s blood in the lifelines of her hands and beneath her nails. She’d tried to wash it out hurriedly as Katherine packed her bag, but she hadn’t been able to clean herself. She hadn’t been able to shed that skin, the grief, the blood, all of them as they stain her neck and face and mouth with their blood.

She thinks to stop her hand from shaking, but that’s as far as the thought goes. Katherine presses a button that winds down a window and the warm air hits Elena hard. She breathes hard and makes herself focus, grounds herself in the car seat and against the air that feels like a slap against her chilled skin. She realises after a moment Katherine’s opened her window.

"If you’re going to be sick, be sick that way," Katherine says unimpressed, voice deep, lips pressed in a purse that makes Elena feel the need to sit taller to impress her. She doesn’t turn away from looking at Katherine. Instead, she tries to defy her as she remains slouched in the passenger seat and does her best to harden her gaze.

But she looks to Katherine’s neck and sees only a stain of red. The wound on her neck has healed. She doesn’t remember it healing. She remembers how she got it. Katherine had been blurred, on her way out the door when the big bad wolf had huffed and puffed and blown her house down, her friends torn to pieces, her house covered in blood. But when Katherine should’ve been halfway to Atlanta, she was in front of Elena, the sharp point of a stake in her neck.

In hindsight, Elena’s surprised he didn’t try and bite her instead.

She stares at Katherine’s throat and thinks of how long it is. The stain doesn’t suit her. Katherine is nothing but flawless imperfection. She’s what everyone who looked at Elena thought she was—perfect. Flawless. Porcelain. A survivor. Someone worth dying for.

Someone who wouldn’t kill them.

"This doesn’t seem like the time to say it," Katherine says, keeping her gaze straight ahead, "but I told you so."

Elena swallows hard against the lump in her throat. She clenches her hands into loose fists. She wants to hit her, strike her as Katherine has struck her again and again and again. She tries to tighten the curl of her fingers, but it’s as though her bones have fled from her, too. They’re the only thing that’s fled from her when her bones should’ve been the only thing that stayed.

She thinks of how her friends refused to leave and how they all died beneath the wolf’s maw. He’ll kill everyone you love. She should’ve heeded the warning from the harbinger, from her mirror, but Elena knows now that she had been entirely too arrogant.

And so had they.

That’s what they all were. Idiots. Dead idiots.

It bubbles out of her, the laughter. It starts as a sound that’s half a sob. That draws Katherine’s attention to her, brows furrowed in something that would be concern if the expression was worn on Elena’s face. Instead, it just looks judgemental. Suits Katherine. She’s been judging her since before Elena’s realised she was under the microscope.

But it oozes out of her like blood from a deep tear and it bursts from her, the laughter that’s neither mirthful nor mirthless. Elena laughs loudly, hand pressed to her chest, and moves in her seat as she feels her throat begin to hurt and her chest empty.

Everyone’s gone. And here she is, left with only a mirror of her true self.

 

 

*

 

 

Katherine drives them until the car’s sheathed in darkness. Elena rests her head against her fist, her elbow hanging out of the car as Katherine manoeuvres it into a car spot outside of a rundown motel. The vacancy sign’s vowels remain dead as the rest of the word flashes in neon red.

"This doesn’t seem like a Katherine Pierce establishment," Elena murmurs, keeping her head leaning heavily against her hand despite the car’s engine finally dying.

Katherine pulls her hands from the wheel and inspects her long nails. Briefly, Elena wonders if there’s dirt and blood beneath them or if Katherine’s as put together as Elena isn’t.

"It’s a Katherine Pierce establishment when I’m on the run," Katherine says with a forced smile. Peering at herself in the visor’s mirror, she runs her tongue along her teeth before she slaps the visor back in place. She doesn’t look at Elena when she barks, "Get out."

Elena’s left alone in the car as Katherine opens the trunk and pulls out two duffle bags. It’s strange to think that her entire life has been packed away inside of one duffle bag—perhaps one and a half if Katherine had truly stored her things in hers. The trunk slams against the car, making it move. Elena still doesn’t shift.

She almost tumbles out of the passenger door as Katherine sweeps it open. Katherine leans over her to unbuckle her seatbelt; her hair brushes against her nose. She smells nice. It’s a strange thought to have.

Powerful hands grip her shoulders and heave her out of the car. Elena stands in her stained converse shoes in front of Katherine Pierce whose slung two duffle bags over her shoulders. Even when she doesn’t look like herself, she still seems regal. Nothing weighs her down.

"It’s your life, Elena," she says with a hint of exasperation on her exhale. "You either come with me into the reception area or you die." Squeezing her shoulders hard, she turns on her foot and walks with both duffle bags slung over her shoulders still, her head held high. She disappears behind the reception’s squeaky door.

Elena leans heavily against her car. With Katherine possessing the keys, she’s truly abandoned. She’s in some car park off the road in Atlanta, a portion of the state she doesn’t recognise. She considers fleeing, letting her feet take her where she thinks to go. But Elena knows where it’ll lead her: to a pile of ash.

Instead of heading towards the road, Elena walks into the reception area and stands behind Katherine as she watches her ancestor laugh girlishly and curl her hair around her finger flirtatiously. Elena rolls her eyes.

The man behind the desk has thick black hair and brilliant blue eyes. He glances at Elena and keeps his gaze on her better half. She’s grateful for it. He looks too much like Damon with his appearance, too much like Stefan with his gentle and unassuming nature.

Once Katherine has the keys to their motel room, she shoves her out of the office and walks ahead of her, stilettos sharply staking the ground. Leading her up noisy stairs, Katherine doesn’t seem to pay any mind to the potential motel residents sleeping nearby.

The motel room is smaller than anything Elena has ever been in. It feels like a coffin. It’s a one-room box with a double-sized bed, round dining table, small television with a bent antenna, and a bathroom attached. Katherine dumps the duffle bags at the foot of the bed before she walks around Elena and closes the door with a huff. Locking it, she cards her hands through her hair and stares at her.

Elena stands listlessly in the middle of the motel room. It feels strange. There’s too much space for her to exist. The walls are too bland, the wallpaper peeling from the top and bottom skirts. The wooden skirting boards are stained as if they’d been half-painted to a darker tint.

"Go shower," Katherine snaps, standing in front of her. Her gaze doesn’t shift away from her. Elena thinks to give her a scathing comment, but her tongue feels thick and cotton seems to fill the inside of her mouth.

Sighing, Katherine’s behind her and shoving her none-too-kindly towards the ensuite. Flicking the light on, it’s smaller than the bathroom she shared with Jeremy. The shower has a porcelain bath that she doesn’t think she’d fit in. The shower curtain is murky clear. She’s disappointed there’s no pretty floral design decorating it.

Katherine stands behind her with her arms crossed. Elena thinks to tell her she can do this. She can shower, she can be human. She can fall back into a routine that belongs to her mundane human life.

But she thinks of how the porcelain of her shower had stained red, of how Katherine forcibly held her hands beneath the running warm water and tried to scrub them clean of Jeremy’s blood. It hadn’t been any use. Jeremy was still on her hands. Peering down at her palms, the lifelines are still stained red with him.

A zipper tugs down. Elena’s brows furrow as she turns too slowly and stares too dumbly at Katherine. She’s stepped out of her heels and is tugging her sleek black pants down her thighs. Stepping out of them, she shrugs out of her jacket and tugs her dark purple tank top over her head.

It surprises her to see that Katherine is human beneath all the physical layers.

Shoving past her, Katherine pulls the shower curtain back and twists the knobs of the shower. Holding her hand beneath the water, she shakes it and steps towards Elena. "I gave you a choice," she says, her hands pulling the lapels of Elena’s jacket, "and you didn’t take it."

Stupidly, Elena holds her arms out as Katherine shrugs her jacket off of her shoulders and drops it to the floor. Then her hands are in the hemline of her discoloured blue shirt, tugging it up and over her head roughly. Elena leans her hands against Katherine’s bare shoulders as she toes off her stained converse shoes off her feet, followed by her socks. Unbuttoning her jeans, Elena sharply inhales as Katherine’s knuckles brush against her belly.

Standing almost identical to Katherine, except in her pink bra and panties to Katherine’s black, Elena gazes along the length of Katherine’s torso, at the light stains on her chin and against the swell of her breast. The blood had seeped down her neck and top, and she can see now how much of the Salvatores Katherine truly carries with her.

She yelps when Katherine tugs her panties down her hips. Elena reaches out to grab her, thrusting her fingers into her hair. She steps out of them obediently and holds her breath when Katherine steps closer to her, body impossibly close, as her hands disappear behind her back and unclasp her bra.

Katherine mutters, "Do you need everyone to do everything for you?"

Elena thinks to tell her no. But Katherine’s tugging the straps down her shoulders and pulling Elena’s hands away from her belly so that she can drop it onto the floor.

"Come on," Katherine says a little roughly. "You need to clean up."

Elena walks clumsily to the shower and steps in. She stands near the edge of the tub and far from the spray. With a roll of her eyes, Katherine steps in and gently nudges her towards the head of the shower. The water’s warm against her skin. Her knees sting. Her shoulders ache. She keeps her head out from the water as she stands beneath it and stares at the red and brown swirl down the drain.

Katherine presses her warm body against her back. Elena holds her breath as she watches Katherine blindly fish for the bar of soap in front of her and wet and lather it between her hands. Katherine pulls back and the cool bar is on her shoulders. Sweeping her hair away, Katherine begins to soap her biceps, ignoring her hiss as she soaps cuts and scrapes and small claw marks against her arms and sides.

Her touch is rough. Katherine rubs the bar against her lower back, her hips, and her ass. Elena spreads her legs when Katherine’s at her thighs, washing the inside of them and then the hollows of her knees. She scrubs at her feet before she’s back at the nape of her neck.

"I know it’s hard," Katherine says so softly the shower drowns her out, "to be the one left behind."

Elena’s eyes prick hotly with tears. Pressing her lips together tightly, she bites the inside of her mouth. Slowly turning around, she pulls her hands from her breasts and watches as Katherine soaps her collarbones with parted lips and an attentive gaze.

Elena watches the top of her head as Katherine lowers herself to soap the inside of her thighs again, her knees and ankles. Her curled hair remains immaculate save for the strands growing damp from the spray Elena protects her from.

As she peers down at the bare shoulders of Katherine, at the rough hands that have done nothing but try and torment her and rip her apart, she’s taken aback by how kindly she handles her now. She wipes the back of her hand against her nose and sniffs hard. But it shatters the fragile resolve she’s built inside of herself since finding her family and friends murdered in her family home.

This isn’t how it’s meant to be. The last person on earth who should be treating her kindly is the one who’s gently picking her foot up and letting her lean her weight against her shoulders as she tries to erase the evidence of her loss from her skin.

Elena’s sob sounds like a howl. Her body wracks as she cries, her hand coming to her mouth to try and stop the sounds. Biting the side of her palm, she sobs harder, it tearing from her gut, from her broken heart, from the place against her chest her seatbelt had dug into as her parents kept falling further and further away from her in the water.

Katherine seems to take her time at her ankles. A part of Elena thinks she’s trying to hide. But when she stands, gently soaping her shoulders and arms, she hears Katherine humming, her lips barely moving. If she hadn’t been staring at her mouth, Elena wouldn’t have heard a thing.

She tries to listen, tries to calm her sobs to focus on what Katherine’s giving her. But she only cries harder as Katherine hums something softly to her in a language she doesn’t understand and the shower washes away the last pieces of her family that she’ll ever have.

 

 

*

 

 

After her shower, Elena allows Katherine to rummage through her duffle bag to find her pyjamas—her dark blue tank top and checkered shorts—and dresses. Once she hobbles out of the bathroom, the door closes behind her. Finally, she’s alone.

As the shower runs, Elena thinks to leave, to pack her things and hightail out of the motel, but instead of making her way to the door, she drops onto the bed and sits against the pillows with the novel Katherine had bought her from the motel’s lobby.

She doesn’t see any of the words. She tries to read, but all she can think of is Klaus’ chin dripping with blood, her friends laying prone on her bed and bedroom floor. Pale, boneless. She had tried shaking them awake, had begged for them to come back. She’d tugged on them the way she wishes she had her parents, but Elena only remembers drowning in her grief.

And Katherine carrying bodies to bury them in the woods, covered in blood and soot as she helped Elena bury her dead and pack her bags. It still doesn’t make sense to her, the series of events that occurred. Katherine had pushed her around, barked orders at her, had done her best to try and help her take what she needed of her previous life as they set her house alight and ran.

Katherine had gone through steps that seemed well-worn by her. Elena vaguely remembers a tomb, Katherine’s grief trying to slip out from beneath the hard armour of her skin. He killed my entire family just to get back at me for running.

Her throat feels heavy and tense. She wipes the back of her hand against her wet eyes. The shower runs as she cries again, a replenishing well of nothing but grief. It follows her as a thunderstorm would, pouring down upon her until she’s drenched and unable to move. But Elena tries to do so, always moving on. Always getting up, living when she should be dead.

She sobs into her hands, so hard and heavy her chest aches as the well temporarily empties once more. Elena pulls herself together in time for the shower to switch off, for the curtain to pull back loudly and for Katherine to be present in a way she has never been to Elena before.

Katherine steps out of the bathroom in a small towel, her hair wet and clinging to her skin. Elena watches her, taking in her long legs, the shine of her skin. She understands the allure almost immediately. Katherine walks to her black duffle bag and rifles through it with glistening skin and curly, wet hair; all Elena can see is confidence.

Despite being her mirror, Elena can’t see herself reflected back. She thinks that this is Katerina Petrova, the survivor, the only person who has ever lived to outwit and outlast Klaus. There’s no mask as she searches for her chosen sleeping wear. She seems at peace, almost forgetting to slip her mask into place to make her appear as hard as steel. Elena studies the line of her neck, her collarbones, the way her fingers curl around a black bra and lacy panties.

When Katherine drops the towel, Elena diverts her gaze. Katherine slips into her bra and panties, and towels off her hair while still standing by the foot of the bed. "I don’t have anything to sleep in," she says, though, she doesn’t sound embarrassed nor apologetic about it. Elena hardly understands why Katherine’s trying to make her feel comfortable.

Elena merely shrugs, glancing at her from the corner of her eye when Katherine turns her back. There’s a beauty spot along the strong line of her spine. She watches her walk into the bathroom, throws her towel onto the rack, and turn off the light. With that, the motel sheathes in darkness save for the lights outside.

Even in darkness, Katherine seems alert. Elena watches her silhouette lit by the dull lights of the verandah outside as she checks the door and window is locked and the curtains are drawn to her satisfaction.

Katherine walks to the bed and all Elena can see is the strong muscle of her stomach and legs. Katherine doesn’t appear overly shy, stretching her arms above her head and elongating her body. Elena glances at the line of her torso and flushes. Quickly, she looks away.

Putting her book on the bedside table, Elena slouches until she’s lying on her back with her hands on her chest, staring determinedly up at the ceiling. Katherine tugs at the sheets, pulls them up, and slips inside of them in her bra and panties. It’s something Elena can’t stop thinking about. She’s as bare as she’s ever been, so much exposed skin—less armour than she’s ever worn in front of her—and yet, she still seems so far away.

Katherine lies on her side with her back to her. She’s still. Her hair’s slightly damp, but she doesn’t move, doesn’t shift. She remains quiet, disappearing into the dark of the night. Elena stares at the back of her head, waiting for something. Anything. For her ancestor to turn and slice at her. For her ancestor to finally end her suffering.

Her thoughts change from anticipating Katherine killing her. She thinks of the warmth she can feel coming from her. The bed’s dipped beneath her weight, reminding her that someone is here. She’s not alone. Katherine is there, out of reach. Warm, there. Present, solid. Bared.

She wants to reach out and touch her, to remind herself that she’s alive. She’s survived. I’m here. But she tucks her hand to her chest and tears her gaze away from her, rolling onto her side to give Katherine her back. Her hands itch to slide in her hair, along her tough spine. She craves to touch her skin like Katherine craves her demise.

She cries quietly. Elena has never felt so alone.

 

 

*

 

 

Showering by herself in the morning, Elena towel dries her hair as she watches Katherine sit on the edge of the unmade bed and slide her heels onto her feet. She’s dressed in a dark dress, all bared legs that Elena imagines she’s going to wield to their benefit.

She licks her lips and eyes Katherine for a long moment. "We’re not leaving?"

Katherine shakes her head. "No."

Elena frowns. The plan was to keep moving. The one thing she knows for sure about Katherine is the fact that she’s always moving, always on the run. She never seems to stand still.

She regards her dumbly. "But why?"

Katherine sighs and rights herself, pressing her hands to the bed all too casually and arrogantly. She eyes Elena, the way she’s dressed in fresh jeans and a pink t-shirt. "Because you’re not ready."

Bristling immediately, Elena stands taller and tilts her chin up defiantly. "I’m ready."

Katherine cocks her brow. "Are you?" With an arrogant purse to her lips, she stands and brushes her hands against her lower back. "Because I heard you cry all night," she says, turning her back to her. Katherine walks to her side of the bed and tugs at the sheets, quietly making the bed.

"I wasn’t—"

"You were," Katherine says, grunting as she tugs the sheets sharply and cleanly. "You’re not ready to run. That means you’re not ready for what comes next."

"What comes next?" Elena asks almost too earnestly. She frowns as she watches Katherine wander to her side of the bed and tug at the sheets, pulling them taut.

"Leaving everything behind."

Her throat tightens. "I have nothing left."

"That’s not true," Katherine says, lifting up the mattress. Once she’s satisfied with her bed making, she brushes her hand against the top sheet proudly. "You can lose every physical thing you own, but you’re still holding on."

Elena licks her lips. "That’s not fair—"

"Nothing’s fair when it comes to Klaus," Katherine says, peering up at her with a hard expression. It’s the same one she remembers the tomb’s shadows highlighting. Dead serious. Fearful. She dislikes seeing the stillness in Katherine’s body. "If you want to make him pay for what he took from you, you need to have nothing holding you back."

Elena swallows against the lump in her throat. "Katherine…"

She shrugs. "I’m going out to scout the place," she says, flicking her hand beneath her hair. Elena watches as another mask slips into place. Katherine becomes distant in a way that’s familiar to Elena. This is her enemy. This is the woman who would throw her off the chessboard if it meant she could get herself closer to the king. "Don’t leave this room. Klaus has eyes and ears everywhere, and it’s best that the person who knows what she’s doing goes out first."

Before she can think of a biting comment, Katherine struts out the door.

 

 

*

 

 

Katherine’s outing proves fruitful. There are no underlings of Klaus’ nearby. No one Katherine remembers from the history books. Despite that, she informs Elena she’s compelled the manager to alert them if anyone asks them by name. It’s a good precaution, one that Elena hadn’t thought of in the midst of her mind being a tangled mess.

Katherine hadn’t allowed Elena to venture out with her at all, insisting on calling her via the motel’s phone and asking her what she had wanted for dinner. She gets her Chinese takeaway and sits with her at the small table, quietly eating as Elena watches the blank television. She’s afraid of switching it on, of seeing their faces plastered on there as the recently and tragically deceased.

Elena sees her murky reflection on the dark television’s screen. "He killed them because I lived, didn’t he?"

Katherine’s quiet for a long moment. "Yes."

Elena eats in silence.

She doesn’t need Katherine’s help showering. Staying in there longer than she should, she slips into her pyjamas and tries to read a page of her book. Instead, she spends the time Katherine’s showering crying and calming herself down so her face doesn’t appear as mottled with tears as it would if the motel room’s curtains were pulled back to reveal the bright lights outside.

Katherine slips into bed, dressed in a black bra and panties. Elena does her best not to stare at her, but she watches Katherine’s thighs as she checks the room and ensures the front door is locked. She moves like a panther, a predator who knows that she’s being watched.

In bed, Elena remains on her back. She does her best to quietly stomp out the temptation to reach out and touch her. Katherine is so tantalisingly close. Her fingers twitch as the adrenaline begins to course violently through her. All she wants is one touch, one reminder that she’s here, that her life right now is stable.

Katherine had promised her that, hadn’t she? In the midst of cleaning her up, pushing her around, lugging her life in a duffle bag thrown over her shoulder, she had promised her one thing. I’m here.

Elena stupidly believes her.

From the corner of her eye, Elena glances at the back of Katherine’s head. Her hair’s thick and curly, and even as she sleeps, it’s impeccable. Quietly, she wills her to turn, begs for Katherine to be the one who reaches out and touches her as she had in the shower. All she wants is that pressure of a hand against her skin, on any part of her that reminds her that she’s here, that she’s not lost and drowning in her grief.

She’s slow to move, tentative to even shift against the sheets. She turns onto her side and eyes the back of Katherine’s head. As she eyes the back of Katherine’s shoulder, she notes no movement from her. She’s asleep.

Elena’s slow in shifting closer to her. Slow in placing her hand gently on Katherine’s hip. Her fingers twitch; she holds her breath. This needs to be enough. But she’s slowly sliding her hand up Katherine’s clothed hip, resting her fingertips against the lacy hem of her panties. She thinks to leave her hand there, not wanting to tempt the sleeping dragon. Touching her feels nice. Elena feels grounded. It’s what she needs to remind herself that Katherine is here.

But she’s slow in sliding her fingers up Katherine’s bare side.

Her skin’s warm and soft, unsurprisingly without any imperfections. Elena stares at the back of Katherine’s head as she slides her fingertips up her side before gliding them forward and onto her belly. Gently palming her, she feels the movement of Katherine’s belly moving as she breathes.

It’s not enough.

It’s a thought that enters her head unbidden. It barely makes sense. But with her breathing growing shallow, Elena swallows as quietly as she can as she slowly glides her hand up the length of Katherine’s chest and to the underwire of her bra.

Her skin’s still warm. Katherine remains still. She’s tentative in moving her hand to cup her breast until she can feel Katherine’s heartbeat beneath the tips of her fingers. Elena shuffles closer to her, curling her front to Katherine’s back. She wishes now that she hadn’t chosen to wear her pyjamas, wishes that Katherine hadn’t had the foresight to even pack them. Slipping her foot between Katherine’s legs, she tries to melt into her as she presses her breasts against Katherine’s bare back.

All she can think of is how good it is to be touching someone. To be touched, even if it’s not in the way she’d want it to be reciprocated.

The bed moves. Elena’s heart jumps as Katherine’s hand rests heavily against the back of Elena’s on her breast. Feeling her heart pound hard in her chest, sharp enough to stake Katherine in the back, she waits for Katherine to break her fingers and hand, to rip it clean from her wrist.

Instead, she leaves her hand on top of hers, pressing her hand firmly to her chest.

"If you wanted to feel me up," Katherine slurs quietly, "all you had to do was ask."

Elena flushes hot, squirming against her. When she tries to tug her hand away, Katherine keeps her imprisoned.

Katherine shuffles against the sheets and Elena thinks for a moment it’s to curl back into her. Then Katherine sighs contentedly and stretches her legs, pressing her ass into Elena’s hips.

"You need to learn to commit, Elena."

Elena’s heart hammers, her body feeling warm all over. She likes the way Katherine presses into her, the way her breast fills her hand. Elena licks her lips and rests her other hand on her own collarbone. Her skin burns beneath the knit rib of her tank top. She thinks to apologise, to make some excuse as to why she’s touching her.

All Elena can manage is a quiet: "Commit to what?"

Katherine doesn’t answer. She’s still in front of her, hand still trapping hers.

Boldly, Elena takes that as her invitation to keep her hand on her breast. Curling to her back, she presses her head against the pillow and peers up at the ceiling. Katherine is warm in her hand, warm against her ankle. She’s warm and heavy. It makes it easier to stop herself from floating away.

When she sleeps, she dreams of them, splayed out on her bed like a set of broken dolls. But she wakes and feels Katherine all around her, warm and solid. Here.

 

 

*

 

 

Katherine grants her permission to leave the motel room, but not without her accompanying her. It’s a safety measure, one that Elena rolls her eyes at but secretly appreciates.

She leads them to the reception area where the motel manager’s eyes brighten at Katherine’s appearance. Elena remains near the door, hands clasped in front of her as she watches the manager—Adam—peer up at Katherine with a lopsided smile on his face.

She wonders what Katherine’s compelled him to think whenever he sees them together. He doesn’t give Elena a second glance, doesn’t ask if they’re related. He simply gazes up at Katherine like she’s hung the moon and stars.

Something ugly curls in her gut. Elena’s lips set hard. She wants to be gazed at like that. She wants to be looked at. Seen.

Turning on her heel with a laugh, Katherine grabs Elena’s arm. "We’ll try it," she says too bubbly as she tugs the door open, "and we’ll let you know how we like it."

"And if you like it," Adam says with a smile, his cheeks flushing a nice pink, "maybe we can go there sometime. I can show you the ropes."

Katherine’s laughter is like bells. She tugs Elena out of the office and lets her smile fall from her face, her expression settling into a grimace. She keeps her arm looped with hers as she tugs her away from the motel, through the car park, and onto the street. Elena doesn’t bother to protest. She likes the weight of Katherine’s arm hooked in hers.

It takes them five minutes to find Adam’s recommended diner. Katherine slips inside, smiles and says a few kind words under her breath that Elena imagines is compulsion. The waitress has thick blonde hair tied in a braid that swings against her back. She leads them to a window seat and smiles toothily as she leaves them be.

Sitting opposite Katherine, Elena glances at her as she watches her pick up a menu and scrutinise it. Her bracelet glimmers in the morning sunlight. Elena thinks to say something, but her tongue feels heavy and she feels uninspired to open her mouth.

The waitress comes back—Stephanie—and takes their order. Elena opens her mouth then, ordering a big breakfast despite her lack of appetite. Katherine smiles at her kindly, a glimmer to her eye, and Elena wonders if Katherine had come to this diner yesterday and compelled everyone on staff to not give them a second look. It makes sense; seeking Adam’s recommendation this morning for a place to eat seems like just the game Katherine would play with someone under her spell.

Peering out the window, Elena stares until time feels like nothing. Katherine doesn’t try and speak to her. She remains quiet as she reviews the menu like it’s a decent piece of literature.

When their breakfast arrives, Elena picks up her knife and fork, but she doesn’t dig into her bacon. It looks delicious; her mouth waters at the sight of cooked food in front of her. But she peers at Katherine who smears her toast with butter and feels compelled to reach out.

"I’m sorry," Elena says, flushing hot, "for last night. I shouldn’t have—"

"What?" Katherine stares at her, tearing her toast in half. She chews casually and stares at her as if she can’t recall Elena feeling her up. At this moment, Elena hates her again. Katherine always knows everything; she’s the smartest person she has the displeasure of knowing.

Elena scoffs, shaking her head. A little too desperately, she says, "Katherine…"

"You can’t even say it," Katherine says with a soft laugh, looking down and shaking her head. Dips her toast into the yolk of her egg and pops it into her mouth. She chews like she’s chewing gum.

"I touched you."

"You were looking for something," Katherine says, staring at her. She settles her elbow against the table and rests her chin on the back of her hand as she scrutinises Elena. "I won’t let you do that to me again if you don’t tell me why."

Elena’s heart races in her chest. Something delightful twists in her gut. The idea of being able to touch her again, to take from Katherine who has never given anything in her life… She grips her cutlery tightly.

But she remembers who she’s playing with. Katherine Pierce is dangerous. A lethal opponent to go up against even in casual conversation. What she reveals to her now will be weaponised against her later. She knows this. She’s heard the stories, witnessed the destruction. Felt her sharp hands be gentle despite their rush in trying to scrub blood from her hands to wake her up.

Sitting back against the booth, Elena crosses her arms against her chest and stares out the window. She should keep her lips pressed shut.

Katherine chuckles derisively and rips her toast again. "Chicken."

 

 

*

 

 

After spending most of the day following Katherine around like a lost puppy through clothing stores and the local supermarket, Elena stands in their motel room and holds a freshly bought shirt in her hands. The style fits her. Even though she had been curious to see if Katherine would have insisted she wear different clothing to what she usually opts for, she found herself a little relieved that Katherine wasn’t intending to make her be someone she wasn’t. Elena’s pretty positive she doesn’t know who she is, anyway.

Gently folding her shirt, she places it on the bed and fishes another out of the shopping bag. Some of the clothing Katherine’s bought for them both is entirely too cheap to match her ancestor’s extravagantly expensive taste. Elena can’t help but be impressed by how Katherine’s still managed to find clothing that looks chic and very much like her. It’s a skill she imagines she’s refined after spending five hundred years needing to shed her skin and become something and someone new.

From the corner of her eye, she watches Katherine stand at the small dinner table, abandoning the map she’s taken from the reception’s pile of printed pamphlets. Elena takes the movement as her opportunity to follow her. There are so many things she wants to say and hasn’t found the words for. She’s not a chicken. She’s a predator, someone who is a mirror to the woman she shares this dingy motel room with. She can do this. She can be the person that Katherine needs her to be so that they can move on and find the closure that Elena’s so desperate for.

But she knows what she has to say first. She’s been quietly preparing herself for the inevitable ridicule.

Katherine begins to toe-off her shoes, ignoring Elena being her shadow. When she begins to tug her jeans down her thighs and steps across the threshold of the bathroom, leaving her shoes and pants on the floor, Elena stops and huffs.

The water runs; the bathroom door remains ajar. She peers in and sees Katherine’s clothes are piled on the lid of the toilet. She thinks to wait until she’s done, but she knows Katherine can’t escape her in such a small space. Adrenaline and anger propel her feet forward and she steps inside of the bathroom and stands in front of the shower curtain. She can see Katherine’s murky silhouette behind the clear curtain.

"I’m afraid," Elena says on a sharp exhale. It’s easier to talk to a silhouette through the shower curtain than to the real thing. Katherine doesn’t stop bathing herself, bending down to soap her ankles. "Okay? I’m afraid."

"Of what?"

Elena huffs angrily. Katherine doesn’t stop applying soap to her arms. Her silhouette continues to move, and despite not being able to see the details of her face, Elena knows she’s smirking.

"First step is admitting it, Elena," Katherine singsongs mockingly.

Glaring at Katherine through the curtain, she thinks to swipe it away. Elena’s hands remain balled fists by her sides until her fingers fan out. She can’t hold onto any anger she thinks she should be holding for Katherine. That anger doesn’t belong to Katherine.

"I’m afraid," she says, staring at her silhouette. Katherine shampoos her hair, tilting her head back. She arches attractively. Elena watches her for a moment and finds a burst of bravery warm her gut. "I’m afraid of being alone."

Katherine says nothing.

"I just want to feel… something," Elena says and sighs. "Someone. I feel nothing."

The shower stops. Elena grabs the towel from the rack and holds it out for Katherine. Watching her through the curtain, Elena wonders why Katherine’s still. Desperately, she wants to know what she’s thinking. Is she thinking of her? Of what she’s said? Does she think she’s lost her mind?

Katherine remains behind the shower for a moment before she tugs the curtain back. Elena averts her gaze as soon as she sees a bare hip; Katherine steps into the towel with a smirk.

Wrapping it around her, Elena watches beads of water slip from her hair to her chest, trickling between what she can see of the swells of her breasts. Katherine plants her hand at her collarbones, holding the towel in place. Elena thinks to stay where she is, pressed up against her, but she takes a step back and brushes her hair behind her ear.

Katherine inhales deeply to only exhale heavily. Roughly wrapping the towel properly around herself, she tucks the corner into the material at her armpit before crossing her arms against her chest. Beneath her scrutiny, Elena stands a little taller. Katherine tilts her head to the side and scrutinises her for too long.

"Okay," Katherine says with a purse of her lips.

Elena’s brows furrow. "Okay?"

"Okay," Katherine says again, eyes widening a little more in frustration. "I’ll let you touch me however you want."

Elena’s face flushes. "It doesn’t mean anything—"

"It means you’re lonely," Katherine says, staring at her. There’s no judgement in her gaze. Water beads tickle from her hairline and slip down her cheek like a tear. "And it means that if I let you do this, you do whatever I need you to do."

Elena runs her tongue along her teeth. Weighs her words. Knows that making bargains with the devil will never get her into heaven. But Katherine is all she has. Katherine is the only person left.

She’s already in hell. She figures the best way to navigate it is to have someone who’s been trapped in it for five centuries guide her.

Elena nods. "Okay."

Katherine smiles. "Smart girl," she says. Eyeing her for a moment, Elena watches as the gentleness of her features disappears. Something sharper slips into place; Katherine cocks her brow and smirks. "Are you staring because you’re planning to wipe me down?"

Elena flushes red and quickly escapes the humid bathroom.

 

 

*

 

 

After declining Katherine’s offer to join her in finding a dinner place, Elena sits cross-legged on the bed with a familiar book in front of her. She’s unsure of why Katherine had chosen to save a few of her diaries. The ones she’s packed in her duffle bag barely exist in the same era.

One diary belongs to a freshly grieving Elena who misses her parents terribly and wishes that she had drowned with them. She keeps that worn diary ducked deep inside the recesses of her bag, not wanting to reach out and touch its sopping edges. She had wished that diary had burned with her house.

Another diary belongs to an Elena who had found love and life blossoming within the weeds of her ribcage. The girl who writes in the cemetery had become the girl who had scribbled of hope and love, and of a silly boy with a gentle smile who brought her back to life. She leaves that diary tucked beneath a cardigan, wanting it close but not in sight. She’s not sure if she’s ready to be revisited by that self-sacrificing ghost.

The diary that sits before her is fresh and unfinished. Half the pages are unmarred and uncurled. Opening it to its first page, she runs her hand down the spine so she can flatten the paper. Her handwriting sits haphazardly against the lines. She can see the stains of dry tears on the corners and in the dry bled ink. Her eyes skim over the details of the sacrifice; this Elena had tried to convince herself with too many words and too many answered questions of why it was the right thing to do.

In her entry, she recalled her conversation with Katherine. Her eyes glaze over the words that had ridiculed her ancestor and praised herself for doing what she couldn’t. She would be stronger. She’d do what Katherine couldn’t. She would save everyone she cared for with minimal bloodshed.

In the end, she still killed everyone she ever loved.

Elena flicks through the diary to one of the later entries and her vision blurs with unshed tears. John had died for nothing. Jenna had died for too much. She thinks she had been resurrected all wrong.

She startles when the door closes loudly behind her. Katherine locks it and her heels stab at the floor as she drops their dinner onto the table.

"Reminiscing, are we?" she drawls unkindly. Peering inside the brown bags, she pulls out plastic cartons of Elena’s selected Indian dishes. Elena’s quick to bury her diary beneath her pillow and brushes her hair behind the shell of her ear. Katherine pays her no mind.

Slipping off the bed, she pads over to the round table and slides into a chair. She waits until Katherine’s pulled out all the dishes, two plastic plates, knives and forks, and brandishes two wine glasses and a bottle from another bag.

Dropping into her seat, Katherine easily uncorks the bottle and pours herself a deep glass. She eyes Elena before she mimics the portion of wine in her glass, sliding it over.

"Thank you," Elena says quietly. Katherine doesn’t acknowledge it with a response, lifting the glass to her lips. Elena begins to pull the lids off the containers and scoops out some of the food onto her plate.

"It’s not your fault," Katherine says, leaning back against the metal seat with her glass in hand. When Elena glances up at her, she finds Katherine’s intentionally not looking at her. She’s busy inspecting her blood-red nails. It’s a little on the nose, but Elena likes it. "The reason why they’re all dead isn’t your fault. It’s his."

Elena sucks on her bottom lip and clears her throat as gently as possible. Something heavy still settles itself in there. It tastes like ash and days’ old smoke. She nods, looking down and serving herself food.

"It took me three hundred years to realise that," Katherine continues. "It’s not your fault for surviving. It’s not your fault that you had people love you."

"Is that what happened with you?" Elena asks quietly. She’s tentative in glancing up at her.

Katherine runs her tongue along her teeth and sighs quietly. "Yes."

Elena sits back and rolls her shoulders. She fights the urge to curl into a ball and make herself so impossibly small no one can see her, least of all Katherine. But she remains sitting tall and ignores the warm food on her plate. This is the closest she’s gotten to the truth of her ancestor; the walls of the tomb had been cold and damp, but the motel room feels clean and fresh. She hopes Katherine takes it as an invitation to relax and unfurl her tongue on the secrets she’s kept hidden for too long.

"Did you forget them?" Elena licks her bottom lip before she clarifies, "Did you forget what they sounded like?"

Katherine inhales quietly through her nose. Elena knows that this is a precarious conversation, one that’s precious for reasons that she understands all too well by now. Katherine isn’t Stefan, always trying to console her. Neither is she Damon, always trying to fix her problems with impulsiveness. Nor is she Bonnie and Caroline who want to wrap her up in bubble wrap. All of them would forgive her if she missteps. If she asks the wrong question in the wrong tone, Katerina will lock herself away and she may not be able to find her again.

Katherine’s expression darkens. She’s quiet for too long, but Elena waits patiently for her to rise to the surface of the memories she drowns in.

"That’s the one thing he will never be able to take away from me," Katherine says, her jaw setting sharply. She stares at Elena, boring holes into her head. "I still remember my mother’s voice."

"That’s a long time," Elena remarks quietly. She knows she won’t live for that long, but it makes her hopeful to know she won’t lose them—not entirely. Katherine shrugs and hides behind her wineglass, taking a long sip from it. "Is that what you were singing before? Her lullaby?"

The room grows still. Elena watches her carefully, noticing the way Katherine takes to a methodical approach at dealing with dinner: she surveys the food in front of them over the brim of her glass while resting all too casually back against the chair, and refuses to so much as show a tic in her cheek to confirm she’s heard her.

Then, Katherine sighs and uncurls from the chair. She leans forward and begins to scoop up food onto her plate. "Eat your food before it gets cold."

 

 

*

 

 

While Katherine cleans up in the bathroom, Elena walks the short distance to the bed and begins to shed her clothing. With the water running, she knows she’s safe from being scrutinised for the way she hugs her shirt to her chest and wishes to find herself back in her room in Mystic Falls. She dresses in her pyjama shorts and tank top again, tying her hair up into a loose ponytail to keep its weight off her back.

Tucked in bed, she waits for Katherine to finish her overly long shower. She’s avoiding her; Elena knows her question had upset her. With a book, she manages to read two pages incredibly slowly when the shower turns off. Elena figures she’s getting better if she can focus on the text in front of her. Two pages slowly read is an achievement. If she can make it through the whole chapter, she knows she’ll be ready. Katherine will insist that they leave then.

Determinedly keeping her gaze on the book in front of her, Elena watches Katherine from the corner of her eye when she enters the room. She’s wrapped in her towel, her hair a little damp. Her skin glistens as she tugs at the knot of her towel. Elena inhales roughly when Katherine drops the towel and slips back into a pair of panties and a bra again.

She pretends that she’s finished reading her page and turns it, keeping her gaze set on the text even if she reads nothing. Continuing to watch her from the corner of her eye, Katherine checks the door’s locked, the windows are sealed, and the curtains are drawn tightly enough or her liking.

It’s after her inspection that Katherine turns off all the lights but Elena’s bedside lamp and slips beneath the covers. The bed feels warmer now that she’s tucked inside of it. Where Elena had feared she may float away if she was left too long without her anchor, Elena now knows she won’t be going anywhere with Katherine lying beside her. With her back to her, she remains quiet despite being so much bigger than the room they’re in.

Glancing at the clock on her bedside table, Elena purposefully waits ten minutes before she feigns a yawn and closes her book. Placing it on her bedside table, she switches off the lamp and pulls her pillow down, sliding along with it. Lying on her back for a moment, she waits until Katherine’s breathing seems even before she slides closer towards her. Her heart hammers so loudly in her chest she’s surprised Katherine doesn’t roll over and rip it out.

Boldly, she slides her hand to palm Katherine’s belly. Fanning her fingers, she tries to touch every slip off her. Her skin’s warm beneath her hand, soft in a way she imagines Katerina once was. Elena watches Katherine’s shoulder as she slides her hand up her chest and to her breast again, this time squeezing her a little more confidently than last night.

When Katherine exhales and shifts, Elena pauses. Then, with a slightly timid hand, she slides her hand down her breast before fingering the underwire. Slipping her hand beneath, her breath catches at the warm swell of her breast.

Katherine remains warm and still in front of her. She thinks to remain like this, with her hand touching skin instead of fabric. But a part of her wants more. That part of her aches to feel connected to someone again, to feel as though she’s not adrift in a tumultuous ocean with no hope of getting back to the mainland.

Elena licks her lips as she moves her hand and brushes her thumb over Katherine’s nipple. Katherine shifts, making a soft noise. Elena finds herself desperate to hear it again, that gentle sound that doesn’t seem common for Katherine. She does it again, brushing her thumb against her nipple, staring at the back of Katherine’s head in wonderment.

Her body flushes as she tilts herself up on her other elbow to watch her hand move beneath Katherine’s bra.

It occurs to Elena that this is merely another thing someone has given her to make her feel better. This isn’t the first time she’s taken from someone greedily. Although she’s often met the accusations with a furrow to her brows and a heavy onslaught of confusion, Elena knows what she’s doing now. Touching Katherine’s bare skin grounds her. She thinks, in a way, it grounds Katherine, too.

She’s taking what’s owed to her. She’s taking from a woman who’s had everything taken from her over and over again. Maybe she should be better. Maybe Elena should give instead of taking.

But she curls around Katherine and keeps her hand on her breast, and takes from her. It’s the only thing she knows how to do.

 

 

*

 

 

When Elena wakes the next morning, Katherine’s not in bed beside her. She’s dressed in black jeans and a camisole that draws Elena’s attention straight to the swell of her breasts. She remembers the warmth of her skin in her hand, the way Katherine seemed to relax beneath her touch. She flushes blood red.

Busy applying lipstick, Katherine smacks her lips before disappearing back into the bathroom. Elena sits up in bed, watching her a little sleepily. Tugging the sheets off of her, she slides out of bed and stretches as Katherine runs the sink and does what Katherine needs to do to prepare herself to be Katherine Pierce for the day.

Sitting at the table with her chin on her hands, she waits patiently for Katherine to emerge and tell her the game plan for the day so she can prepare. She hopes that plan is to leave and begin their game of chase. She’s ready.

But when she emerges from the bathroom, Katherine walks straight to the bed and begins to straighten it. Elena watches her dumbly until the entire bed is made, and then Katherine’s handbag’s hanging at the crook of her elbow.

Elena’s brows furrow as Katherine walks past her to the room’s door. "Where are you going?"

"Out."

"Out where?"

Katherine sighs. "To eat."

Elena understands immediately. Her lips part as she stares at Katherine dimwittedly. Of course. Katherine, while human, still has a craving that needs to be sated. And much like how Elena has a craving for contact, Katherine has a hunger for blood.

Cocking her brow impatiently, Katherine gives her a moment to reply before she rolls her eyes and opens the door.

"Katherine, wait!" Elena licks her lips and sits up taller at the little table. Her heart begins to hammer again, possibly too loud to convince Katherine she’s as cool and calm and collected as she feigns to be. "If you’re hungry… it’s probably not wise to drink from other people, right? We have to keep a low profile."

She sighs in exasperation. "I need to eat, Elena."

"I know," she says. Elena licks her lips. "You can drink from me."

Katherine stares at her. Elena sits up straighter beneath the scrutiny, wanting to prove that she can do this. She can meet her halfway, be as useful as Katherine is. She can be something that’s more than deadweight dragging them both down.

Relief and arrogance warm Elena when Katherine closes the door with a quiet push. Approaching the table, Katherine drops her handbag against it noisily and sits, lips pursed, looking pouty.

"From the wrist," Elena says, holding out her hand. "This isn’t a trick, I promise." With no vervain necklace kissing her skin, she’s as vulnerable as the humans roaming unknowingly outside. Rolling her shoulders back, she tries to channel her inner confidence. She can take charge. She can be in control, too. She’s grateful she doesn’t shake as she offers Katherine the inside of her wrist.

Katherine stares at her hand before she reaches out to touch her knuckles gently. Surveying her hand, she sizes it up, looking at it like it’s an option on a buffet table when both of them know it’s the only one she has. Elena’s grateful she’s the one to propose this plan. Feeding off the manager would have reaped avoidable consequences.

Slowly, Katherine brings Elena’s hand up as she bows her head and brushes her lips to the inside of her wrist. Elena’s breath catches. She stares at her dumbly, afraid to move. Her hand grows slack, even though she can imagine the blood rushing beneath her skin is raging like a tumultuous storm. Katherine’s teeth graze her pulse. Elena’s breath is shallow as she stares at Katherine’s mouth.

Veins slowly rise beneath her eyes. Katherine’s teeth sink sharply into her wrist. Blood slips from between her lips, dripping onto the table. Elena clears her throat, sits up straighter, does her best not to tug her hand away despite it being her instinct.

She watches Katherine drink from her. Despite growing dizzy, she rolls her shoulders back and sits tall, keeping her hand in Katherine’s grip. When Katherine finishes, she lifts her teeth out from her skin and brushes her tongue along the droplets of blood pooling along her wrist. Elena’s breath catches again.

Katherine’s beautiful with her black eyes and veins protruding beneath her eyes, her blood staining her mouth and chin. Elena stares at her. Katherine doesn’t lift her hand to wipe her mouth. Impulsively, Elena reaches out, brushing her fingers against the outline of her lips, smearing blood as she wipes it away.

"How chivalrous."

Despite the fact that she flushes, Elena tilts her head up defiantly. Does her best not to act as though she’s well-aware of the speed of her heart and its intensity.

"Did you want blood?" Katherine says against her hand as Elena continues to wipe at her mouth. She keeps her face where it is, continues to allow Elena to touch her this way. Elena doesn’t know how to read into it.

She thinks to ask for it, to heal the wound of her wrist so she can be physically unblemished while her insides feel scarred and irreparable with grief, but instead, she finds herself shaking her head. "No."

 

 

*

 

 

"I didn’t think those shoes were awful," Elena says as she follows Katherine along the verandah to their room. In her hand is one shopping bag filled with an assortment of things—snacks and a book for Elena, and a little notepad for Katherine. Closing the door behind her, she laughs as Katherine’s face scrunches up in disgust.

Dropping onto the bed, Katherine peels her heels off her feet. "It didn’t match anything I owned, Elena." Peering at her pointedly, her lips slowly curl upward as she teases, "You have much to learn about fashion."

"Hey!" Elena laughs, locking the door. "My fashion isn’t that bad." Finding herself at a crossroads, she glances at Katherine on the bed and the empty chair at the table. She drops herself into the chair and begins to undo her converse shoes.

"But it’s not good, either," Katherine quips.

Elena smiles, shaking her head. As she tugs her socks off her feet and tucks them into her converse shoes, she wiggles her feet and at her chipped bright pink nail polish. It’s hardly holding on. It’s the last piece of Caroline that she has.

"Why were you at my house?" she asks quietly, her gaze on her big toe. Her vision grows unfocused before she glances up at Katherine.

Her ancestor remains seated at the edge of the bed with her hands planted behind her. She’s watching the window through the drawn curtains as two silhouettes pass by. Elena knows it’s deliberate. Katherine doesn’t want to answer.

But she presses on. "He was mad that I lived, wasn’t he?"

"He was mad that you bested him," Katherine says, her voice a low reprimand. Keeping her gaze on the window, she licks her lips and quietly sighs. Glancing down, she still doesn’t look at Elena as she picks at her pants. "You don’t humiliate Klaus and get away with it."

Elena nods despite the anger and sadness sharply twisting in her gut. "That’s what happened with you, isn’t it?"

Katherine reluctantly nods. "Yes." Looking up at her, Katherine’s expression is grave. Her lips are pressed together, her expression is no longer happy nor teasing. Elena misses the openness to her face. "I outwitted him as a poor human girl he thought he was playing with like a toy."

"And so he killed your entire family to get back at you for running," Elena says, eyes narrowing thoughtfully. "And for making a fool of him."

Katherine shrugs, although it’s derisively. "Some men have very fragile egos."

Elena inhales deeply before looking down at Katherine’s knees. "He wants to kill me again, doesn’t he?"

She sighs heavily. "I would say so. It’s hard to understand what Klaus wants when he doesn’t get his own way. I thought he would’ve killed me when he had me."

"Instead, he just kept you alive."

Katherine sighs heavily and shifts against the bed. "Being in his presence is torture enough."

Elena chuckles, unable to help herself. Her throat still feels raw and dry. The mere mention of his name makes her heart stutter. All she can see on the bed beside Katherine are her friends laid out like birthday presents for her to stumble across.

"It’s how I found my family," Katherine says quietly. When Elena peers up at her, she wonders, briefly, if she had spoken aloud. "Lain prone and gutted in my childhood home. I knew it was going to happen again the moment I heard."

Her brows furrow. "How did you hear?"

Katherine licks her lips. "He had a witch—the one who was tasked with babysitting Isobel. I know someone who was in his inner circle. They told me."

"And so you came to my house."

Katherine runs her tongue along her teeth.

"I’m sorry," Elena says quietly. "I’m sorry that you had to go through that."

She doesn’t expect Katherine to parrot her. Katherine doesn’t do apologies or empathy. She does cruelty and walls and rough handling. She turns up when Elena has no one. She stays and lingers and she waits her out patiently to get herself together.

Elena’s beginning to slowly piece Katerina together. She doesn’t hate her.

"I’m glad you were there," Elena continues, forcing herself to keep her gaze on Katherine despite wanting to look away. "I’m grateful for what you did for me. But I have to ask… why did you?"

Katherine’s quiet for a long moment. Sighing, she stands, stretching her arms above her head. If she wants Elena to look away and forget she’s asked her question, Elena doesn’t. She watches her as Katherine rests her hands by her hips. "It’s what I wished someone had done for me."

Elena nods and clasps her hands together. She remains quiet as Katherine opens the window and begins to rifle through the sole shopping bag they’ve brought back.

 

 

*

 

 

She’s eager for Katherine to finish her shower. Elena waits in bed, a book tucked against her bent knees beneath the sheets. She wonders if the shower smells of her. They’ve quietly developed a routine over the last week and a half where Elena showers first and Katherine follows after. Elena hopes that Katherine can smell her in there. She wants a reminder of being here.

When Katherine emerges with her towel wrapped around her body, her hair’s dry except for her drenched ends. Watching her from the corner of her eye, Elena tears her gaze away when Katherine drops the towel. She returns her gaze to her, taking in the long line of her side, the sharp bone of her hip, the swell of her breast. Her breathing grows shallow as Katherine dresses in a red pair of panties and a bra. She thinks to herself that they really need to get her some pyjamas.

After checking the motel room is secure and tucked neatly away for sleep, Katherine turns out the lights and slides into bed, her back to Elena as she quietens and stills. Elena watches her this time, her book closed as she waits a few moments before she places it gently on her bedside table and turns off her bedside lamp.

This time, Elena undoes the clip of Katherine’s bra. It makes cupping her breast easier. It makes feeling connected a lot better. Bare skin works better than clothing. She grips her gently, breathing shallow as she focuses on the feel of Katherine’s chest moving up and down as she breathes. Skin warm, she brushes her thumb over Katherine’s nipple and feels something warm curl in her gut and cunt.

Elena shifts closer to her and ignores the odd angle she holds her other hand in. Pressing her palm to the small of Katherine’s back, she slips her fingers beneath the hem of the back of Katherine’s panties and brushes her hand against the left cleft of her ass. Her skin’s warm, so impossibly smooth. She’s slow in groping her, spreading her fingers around her skin. Katherine shifts, legs moving slightly. Despite the movement, she doesn’t shuffle away from her.

Elena thinks it’s an invitation—wants it to be one—and so she slides her thumb against her asshole for the briefest of moments before pulling her hand away. With her heart pounding, she settles for having her fingers beneath Katherine’s ass and brushes them between her inner thighs. Impossibly warmer, that’s what she thinks when she lets Katherine’s body heat her hand. Elena’s heart hammers heavily in her chest; her mouth goes dry when she brushes the pad of her fingers tentatively against her cunt. She’s slick and warm and Elena keeps her fingers against her lips.

Tentatively, she presses her finger shallowly inside of her. Katherine is warm and wet. She rubs her gently before she brushes her fingers against her clit. Katherine shifts, jerking gently. Elena presses her finger shallowly inside of her before she begins to slide until she’s knuckle deep.

Katherine’s hand grips the back of hers against her breast. Elena remains still, pressed against Katherine and inside of her before she takes that as her invitation to slide her foot between Katherine’s ankles. Curling around her, she shields Katherine’s back in a way she imagines is foreign to her. It’s foreign to Elena, being someone’s protector.

She’s slow in crooking her finger inside of her. Katherine’s warm and wet and so utterly present it makes something in Elena ache. Despite fingering her for a little while, Katherine doesn’t come. Elena’s not entirely sure if that’s what she wants.

But she sleeps and dreams of Katherine’s body curling and writhing against her own, of Katherine wanting her in a way Elena isn’t sure anyone would want her again. There’s blood on her hands when she dreams; Katherine’s skin remains unmarred from her tearing at her.

 

 

*

 

 

Katherine doesn’t say a word in the morning. She sits at the little dining table as she waits for Elena to pull herself out of bed and shower, dress in the bathroom, and ready herself for the day. She wears her straight hair loose, using it to shield herself from the blush that climbs her neck when she peers at the back of Katherine’s thick and curly head.

Following her obediently out of the motel room, she waits silently at the door of the reception office as Katherine makes her rounds of smiling at Adam and ensuring no one’s come asking for them. Something curdles in her gut at the way he smiles at her.

The walk is quiet as they make their way to the diner. Katherine smiles at the staff who cheerily guide them to a booth by the window. Once seated, Katherine’s foot accidentally bumps against Elena’s thigh.

Picking up the menu, Katherine holds it up and in front of her. It’s almost like she’s shielding herself from Elena. As for her, Elena keeps her menu flat against the table and brushes some of her hair behind her ear. She tries to read the items on the menu she’s come to memorise, but all she can think of is Katherine sitting in front of her. Did she hate Elena touching her? Did she cross a line? Elena flushes hot at remembering how warm Katherine had been against her hand.

"I liked it," Katherine says, her gaze on her menu. Elena startles, frightened she’s capable of reading minds. Katherine tilts her head to the side and scrutinises the offerings. "What you did last night."

Elena flushes, watching her. She thinks to turn back to her menu, but she can’t help but stare at Katherine’s hands and the way she doesn’t look at her.

"I’ve never done that before," Elena confesses quietly before she licks her lips. Touching the side of her neck with her cold hands, all she feels is heated skin flushed with embarrassment.

"Touched someone?" Katherine’s brow cocks, but she doesn’t look away from the menu. It’s a power move that’s working.

Licking her lips again, Elena inhales heavily. "Yeah." Her cheeks feel like they’re on fire. "I’ve never touched anyone’s…"

"Body? Or do I need to be more specific?" Katherine lowers the menu and smiles a little too wickedly. At Elena ducking her head and brushing her hands against her warm cheeks, Katherine chuckles. "You have fingering down very well for someone who’s only ever done it to herself."

"I’m sorry," Elena says, at a loss for anything to say. Once she realises that hiding her face won’t work, she rests her elbows against the counter and watches Katherine observe her menu and turn it over. "I shouldn’t have done any of that."

"Did you not hear me?" Katherine looks up at her in annoyance. "I liked it."

Her brows furrow. "You did?"

"Duh." Scrunching up her face, Katherine says, "If I didn’t, you would’ve felt it."

Sitting up a little straighter in the booth, Elena brushes her hands against the laminated menu. She’s still not sure what she wants to eat. She has an appetite for something, but she doesn’t think she’s hungry for anything on the menu. Fanning her fingers against the text, she realises she’s hungry to touch Katherine again.

"You can add more," Katherine says easily before folding her menu and placing it down in front of her. Elena watches her as she rests her hands against the laminated text, her fingers tapping against it. "I don’t get off on one."

Elena’s face flushes as Katherine laughs. Ducking her head, she allows her hair to curtain her face as best as it can. "Okay," she says, lips quirking upward despite her embarrassment. "I can do that."

"I like being touched," Katherine says, leaning back against the booth. Elena dares to peer up at her, and when she does, she takes in the long line of her throat and the slope of her nose as she peers out the window. She thinks she can see it now. Despite the bravado, Katherine’s a lonely woman aching for touch.

Elena nods. "I can do that," she says, meaning it.

 

 

*

 

 

Elena’s a little surprised when Katherine calls for her to enter the bathroom while she showers. Sitting on the toilet seat, she rests her hands between her thighs as Katherine turns on the water and stands near the end of the tub closest to where Elena is. The curtain’s half-tugged across the length of the bath. When Elena leans back, she can see the line of Katherine’s spine and swell of her ass.

"Can we leave yet?" Elena asks when Katherine pauses.

Katherine chuckles. "No." She steps into the spray, disappearing behind the murky transparent shower curtain. "Surprisingly, our mark is here."

"Mark?"

"The witch I told you about earlier," Katherine elaborates. The water’s loud, but Elena can hear her as if she’s standing right beside her. The witch who had been a friend of Klaus’ own witch. The web of the supernatural underbelly has become no less confusing than when she first tangled herself inside of it. "They can help us get revenge."

Elena’s pretty certain her heart stops. Peering at the curtain, she wishes Katherine had chosen to have this conversation at the dining table instead. She wants to see her face to gauge how sincere she’s being. There’s no reason why she would lie about this. Katherine doesn’t get anything out of teasing Elena with such a tantalising carrot.

"How do you know?"

"I have my ways," Katherine purrs and Elena can imagine her proud smirk.

Pressing her thighs together, Elena does her best to try and settle the adrenaline beginning to amp up inside of her. All she wants to do is run, move, flee to this witch and shake them until they set things right. "What do we do?"

"We do nothing drastic," Katherine says, suddenly appearing from behind the curtain. Her fingers grip the material tightly as she keeps it tugged back to fix Elena with a sharp look. "What we do is we play it cool. You won’t be an idiot and you’ll let me do what I do best."

Elena lets her gaze drop slightly to see the jut of Katherine’s bare hip and the swell of her breast. She’s naked before her in more than what Elena’s bare eye can see. Katherine trusts her to be on her side.

She nods. "Okay," she says, raising her hand. Smiling, she teases, "Scout’s honour. I won’t be an idiot."

Katherine rolls her eyes and shoves the curtain back in place, stepping back into the water. Elena laughs as Katherine scrubs herself down with soap and mutters loudly about what an idiot Elena is.

"Just trust me, please," Elena begs to Katherine’s silhouette.

The shower runs loudly. She suddenly feels foolish for saying her wish aloud. Katherine’s not a genie. Katherine traps wishes and uses them for her own gain whenever she needs to.

But Elena lets out a breath when Katherine speaks. "I am."

 

 

*

 

 

Sitting at the table in their motel room, Elena continues to glance up at Katherine, waiting for her to read her mind. Katherine keeps her head bowed as she eats her salad, flicking through her phone as she seeks something she won’t share with Elena. She imagines it’s something about the witch. Elena feels that they’re close to introducing themselves to them.

After Katherine murmurs absently that she wants a list of all the foods that Elena likes so she can start taking only one trip a day for their safety, Elena furrows her brows. With them closing in on advancing closer towards the king on the chessboard, she can see the logic behind wanting to limit her outings. Katherine Pierce and Elena Gilbert are on the supernatural world’s most-wanted list.

But Elena notices a purposeful omission on Katherine’s part. An omission she’s been thinking about for days.

"What about you?"

Katherine peers up at her, brows furrowing. Her expression must mimic her own. "What about me?’

"You need to feed."

Katherine holds up the salad. "What do you think this is?"

Elena rolls her eyes. "I mean…" She licks her lips before she says, "Blood." Katherine rolls her eyes and spears a tomato. "It’s been a while, and I know that you’re older and self-sufficient, but you’re no good to us if you’re not well-fed."

Katherine chews her rocket and tomato as she eyes her for a moment. "Fine," she says brattily. Holds out her hand for Elena’s wrist.

Her heart pounds. "I was thinking…" Her gut warms. She clears her throat and rolls her shoulders back. "People will notice if my wrist keeps tearing itself open. And what happens if someone who knows about vampires sees it?"

Katherine rolls her eyes. "I said I’d heal you."

"You can drink from somewhere else," Elena says. Her heart slams against her chest. Katherine continues to eat her salad as she watches her.

Elena places her burger down and wipes her fingers against her napkin. Wills herself to be brave, to be Katherine. Fingers disappear beneath the hem of her t-shirt as she pulls it up. Katherine watches her, her expression not shifting. Elena notes the way her gaze ducks to her pink bra. Her hands disappear behind her back as she loosens her bra. Hand around her breasts, she tugs her bra off her shoulders.

Katherine runs her tongue along her teeth and cocks a brow. "Interesting."

"No one will see it."

"And to think you only liked to do the feeling up."

Elena flushes.

Katherine drops her wooden knife and fork into her container and wipes her hands. Elena keeps her arms around her breasts. As Katherine rises from her seat, she clumsily follows.

"Where do you want to do this?"

Elena looks around and nods towards the bed. She sits on the edge and does her best not to jiggle her foot. Katherine stands tall, her gaze impossibly dark. Her hair falls around her like she’s something ethereal.

She sits beside Elena, knee bumping to hers.

Elena slowly lies down, arms still wrapped around her.

"This is going to be a little difficult," Katherine says, hovering over her.

Elena’s slow to remove her hands from her breasts, resting them beside her hips. Katherine’s gaze sweeps along her neck and chest, lingering at her breasts. Her chest warms with pink. She’s slow in resting a knee against the bed, it dipping beneath Katherine’s weight as she sits on her heels beside her.

Katherine plants a hand on the opposite side of her. Bows her head, nuzzles her breast with her nose. Kisses her collarbone, between her breasts. Elena’s breathing is shallow.

"You need to be comfortable," Katherine says, then takes her breast into her mouth. Sweeping her tongue along her nipple firmly, Elena squirms, gasping, arching. She doesn’t settle. It does the opposite. It burns need inside of her, makes her press her thighs together as she feels desire pool in her cunt.

Katherine sucks on her other breast, roughly, firmly. She kisses the swells before she nuzzles her right breast. Sucks on her skin warmly, on her nipple, then she presses her teeth into the swell. Sinks in. Elena gasps, winces, but Katherine doesn’t pay it any mind. Feeling a tug at her skin, Katherine begins to drink from her.

Elena gasps and brushes her hands through Katherine’s hair. Thinking to tear her away, she threads her fingers in the strands of her hair and brushes her fingers against her scalp. She wants her to stay there. It stings in a way that sends elation through her.

When Katherine’s done, she laps at her skin and nipple until the droplets of blood no longer rise. Elena’s nipple is taut and hard, and all she wants is for Katherine to suck on her until she melts into her.

But Katherine pulls away, lips red, eyes black, fangs protruding. She’s monstrously beautiful. Elena stares up at her as Katherine peers down at her, veins darkening against her skin as if she’s still hungry.

Then she’s up and off, and Elena’s warm breast cools. Elena watches her and tilts her head as Katherine disappears into the bathroom and uncharacteristically closes the door behind her.

Elena waits until the shower starts before she gives in to an impulse that has sat embedded and untouched in her skin. She undoes her pants, slips them down her ass and thighs, and slides her hand into her panties and her fingers inside of her, pretending that they’re Katherine’s.

She’s a woman lonely for touch, too.

 

 

*

 

 

A few days later, Katherine invites Elena out to have lunch. She keeps her in the dark only slightly, encouraging her to wear her best shoes for luck as the witch has been sighted by someone in Katherine’s pocket. Who that person is, Elena’s not sure—and she doesn’t know if she cares to.

Katherine requests Elena take a seat at a table outside of their chosen cafe and disappears inside to make their order. Elena sits obediently, brushing her hair behind her ear. Her sunglasses make her look a little different from Katherine to those she hasn’t been able to compel to either see them as two different women or as one.

Elena wears a short summer dress patterned red and white. The neckline’s a little plunging for her tastes, but she imagines that this is her prime opportunity to be someone else. She can be a girl who is happy, who is out on a lunch date with her friend.

People pass by unaware that a woman over five hundred years old waits patiently in line inside. Elena licks her lips and people watches, wondering which one is the witch Katherine had pinpointed from a sea of so many faces. When she had asked Katherine to point out their target, Katherine had merely smacked her ass and told her to pick a table for them to do their bird watching.

It’s a little fun, being involved in the thick of everything. Elena had grown too used to being shoved in a glass case and on the sidelines of a fight that she had every right to be in the middle of.

A good ten minutes later, Katherine sits beside Elena and brushes her hand against her thigh. Elena tugs at her dress, bunching it between her legs nervously before she flattens it against her thighs.

"Relax," Katherine says quietly. She wears a sunhat that looks like a beacon for just about everyone who passes them by. Katherine wears a long dress that slaps against her thighs and has a long split up the thigh. Elena glances at her, noting her black sunglasses and bright red lips act as much as a beacon as her hat does.

Katherine’s disguise doesn’t seem much like a disguise. She doesn’t slink into the shadows as Elena had imagined she’d want to. She’s bright and a beacon, and someone that people who pass by them eyeball. Even beneath the giant deep umbrella outside of the cafe, Katherine is still the first thing Elena sees.

Katherine sits, facing the street. She keeps her hand resting on the arm of Elena’s chair. Elena jiggles her foot in her sandals before she stops herself. "I’m relaxed," she says, though she knows that it’s a well-known lie by now.

"You need to relax," Katherine says again. "This is just a simple bird watch."

"You keep saying that, but I think watching birds is a lot simpler than this." Elena brushes her tongue along her bottom lip, consequently licking her own lipstick away and leaving her lips bare. "Bird watching was never a life and death thing."

Katherine smiles toothily and chuckles. Her hand drops from the arm of the chair to Elena’s thigh.

She jumps. "What are you doing?"

"Relax." She squeezes her thigh.

Elena thinks to tell her that’s only making it worse. Touching Katherine at night has come with its own unexpected consequences: Elena finds herself desperate to touch her at any chance she gets. She’s become addicted to feeling connected to her, to being reminded that she’s not alone. That someone might actually still want her carnally. Touching Katherine grounds her in a way a verbal reminder doesn’t latch on anymore.

"You’re not relaxing," Katherine says through her teeth, her lips barely moving.

Before Elena can quietly insist that she is, in fact, relaxed, Katherine’s hand disappears from her thigh and brushes her fingers against the front of her panties. Elena inhales roughly, steeling her shoulders. She should tell her to stop touching her, but Elena’s heart pounds and her body and mind floods with want.

"Ah," Katherine exhales happily, her lips curving into a wide smile. "There she is."

A woman with pale skin and midnight hair makes her way across the road in jeans with torn knees and a nondescript white shirt. She clutches a handbag against her side as if she’s afraid of someone stealing the tatty thing from her shoulder. Elena can’t make out much else about her given the distance between the cafe and the other side of the road. She’s nondescript. She’d disappear in the sea of fish Katherine would stand out within.

"Why is she going in there?" Elena asks too breathlessly. Katherine’s hand is still resting against the front of her panties.

"Secret witch shop."

"What?"

Katherine sighs. "Some witches have a store as a front for their witchy juju. That one’s the best witch shop in Atlanta."

"And you know this, how?"

"I’m over five hundred years old. I know a lot more than you ever will in your lifetime." Elena bristles, wanting to defend herself against a fact she can’t tear apart. But before she can think of a poor way of forming her rebuff, Katherine sighs in quiet exasperation. "I told you to relax."

Katherine doesn’t tear her gaze away from the woman who disappears inside of the record store. Elena shifts, slouching slightly in her seat, not quite sure what she’s doing other than inviting Katherine to touch her a little more. She likes the pressure of her fingertips against her.

When she thinks it’ll stay as a mere, teasing wish, Katherine slips her fingers beneath the line of her panties and brushes her fingers against her cunt. Elena bites her lips and makes a soft sound.

"Sh," Katherine gently shushes, not tearing her gaze away from across the street. The witch remains in the store as Katherine slides a finger inside of Elena. "This is where the boring part starts," she drawls. Shifting, Elena opens her legs a little more so Katherine can touch her. Katherine’s slow, languid, almost bored in the way she moves her finger shallowly inside of her.

It relaxes her in a way that doesn’t relax her at all. All she can think about is Katherine touching her outside of a cafe where people are passing by and can possibly see her. She thinks to tell her to stop, to press her thighs together… but Elena keeps herself as she is, biting her bottom lip and licking at the back of her teeth.

A shadow casts over them as a waiter with bright green eyes appears with a too-sweet smile and a small tray with lemonades at their table. Elena’s heart pounds in her chest as her face heats up. Katherine keeps her hand between her legs, her smile bright and pretty as she thanks the waiter for their drinks.

When he disappears, Elena thinks she’ll end this. It’s too risky. This isn’t her. She doesn’t get touched in public, no matter how many times she’s fantasised about it. But Katherine brings her drink to her lips, pursing around her straw, and crooks her finger shallowly inside of Elena. All thought disappears from her.

Elena bites her lip hard, gripping the armrests of her chair. She’s grateful for the sunglasses Katherine had thought to purchase for her so that no one can see her squeeze her eyes shut.

"Relax," Katherine says around her straw. Placing her drink in front of her, she sits taller. Elena thinks to reach for her own drink and play it cool, but her hands stay where they are, shackled to the armrests. Katherine slides another finger inside of her. Elena lets out a harsh exhale, trying to make it come off as exasperation. The corner of Katherine’s lip curls up at that. Elena hates that Katherine knows she’s getting to her. She loves that Katherine knows it.

"Waiting is so boring," Katherine smirks and brushes a second finger against her.

Elena licks her lips and tries to breathe heavily, slowly, to try and calm herself. But Katherine’s fingers are shallow, too shallow for her liking, and she shifts in her seat, trying to give Katherine more room.

Belatedly, Elena offers dumbly, "Uh-huh."

She grits her teeth and makes a noise when Katherine fits three fingers inside of her. It stings in a way Elena’s not sure if she likes. It stretches her in a way she’s not familiar with. She thinks to tell her she needs to be touched more before Katherine slides any further, but she forces her fingers to flex against the arm of the chair and her breathing to grow somewhat controlled despite how ragged it is.

She wants this. No one has ever touched her like she isn’t made of glass.

Biting her bottom lip, she keeps it trapped between her teeth as she glances at Katherine. Still not looking at her. She barely looks affected.

It’s then that Katherine pushes her fingers further inside of her, the movement soft at first before it’s firm. Elena shifts against the chair, makes a small moan, and earns herself another shushing.

Katherine moves her fingers against her, moving roughly inside of her cunt. Elena holds her breath, finds that she breathes despite trying to keep still. She’s afraid to move, afraid to blink. She stares at Katherine’s ear and the line of her neck, the swells of her breasts in her long summer dress.

Her cunt’s too tight for her fingers, but Elena doesn’t move to try and pull away. She likes it. Hates it. Prefers it. This is what she deserves for getting all of her friends killed.

She jumps when Katherine brushes her thumb against her clit. Katherine chuckles, doing it again. Elena growls low in her throat as she tries to ignore her. The brush of her clit sparks warmth to build inside of Elena like a fire. She wants it to spark, to blow up.

"Relax," Katherine whispers around a knowing smirk. Elena feels hatred for her at that moment and opens her legs a little more. She tugs a hand from the armrest and shoves her dress over Katherine’s hand, earning a chuckle from her and a brush of her thumb against her clit again.

Katherine must hear the pounding of her heart, the blood rushing to the surface of her skin, to her clit. She pulls her thumb away and crooks her fingers inside of her before she stills. Katherine keeps her fingers in her as she sighs in boredom.

"I hate witch watching," she says quietly, her lips pursing in annoyance. "They take too long to browse, talk way too much." Elena can only stare at her, lost in the red of her lips, the perfect way her lipstick doesn’t smear. "It’s one of the most boring things you can do."

Elena makes a sound when Katherine pulls her fingers from her cunt and rests them against her panties. Before she can adjust to the strange feeling of being empty, Katherine’s three fingers are inside of her again. She feels impossibly tight. Her cunt stings as Katherine stretches her open. She thinks to tell her, thinks to tug her hand away and out from her, but Elena’s heart hammers and her legs spread as she thinks to herself I’m here.

It’s what Katherine had muttered to her over and over. She hadn’t lied. She’s still here with her.

She lets out a gust of breath, trying to morph her moan into a clearing of her throat. She wants to show Katherine how she can be as tough as steel and live. She wants to survive. Doesn’t think she can. She doesn’t think she can survive five hundred years alone.

Maybe with Katherine’s help, she can. She can hear her response if she tells her it’s too much. Life’s too much. Life isn’t going to pet her until she’s ready to take it. Life isn’t a walk in the park where people throw themselves down on the swords she’s planted there for them to take.

But Katherine pressing into her reminds her that she isn’t alone. She’s not alone. She hasn’t been since her life was ripped out from beneath her fingers and burned.

Elena presses her hand to her mouth roughly as she comes, her body taut and tense around Katherine’s hand. It hurts in the same way as being bitten. She shifts against the chair, feels it squeak all too loudly beneath her. Her heart hammers wildly as her skin burns, and Katherine remains possessively inside of her.

When Katherine pulls her hand out of her and from beneath her stretched panties, she rests her elbow against the arm of her chair. Still doesn’t look at her. Elena’s flushed, her skin damp; the hair on the nape of her neck sticks to her skin. Her dress feels like a second skin. She pants softly and does her best to try and control her ragged breathing, but all she feels is heat coarse throughout her.

Belatedly, she tugs at her dress to cover her hips. Trying to play it cool, she licks her lips and peers across the street, noting the witch leaving the store. When she turns to look at Katherine, she stares at her mouth as Katherine slowly inserts her index finger into her mouth, pushing it all the way until she’s sucking on the knuckle. Her hand glistens with her.

Elena watches as Katherine sucks her middle finger, then her ring finger. Her gaze is on the witch as she crosses the road and walks along the sidewalk, passing outside of the cafe. Katherine turns to Elena and smiles around her thumb. Letting it pop from her mouth, she grins. "Tasty."

Elena stares at her stupidly. It comes unbidden, the thought of wanting Katherine on her knees in front of her, head buried between her legs, tongue licking inside of her so the entire street block can see that Katherine Pierce bows her.

Katherine Pierce sees her.

Abruptly, Katherine pushes her chair away from the table. Elena stares up at her stupidly. "Come on," she says, pushing her chest out distractingly as she stretches, "we have a witch to catch."

Elena wonders how she’s meant to walk when her legs feel like jelly. But Katherine’s handbag is slipped over her shoulder and she’s walking away from the table. Pushing her chair out, Elena tries to discreetly adjust her panties that feel like a lost cause. She feels spent; she misses Katherine’s hand.

 

 

*

 

 

The hotel has four more stars than the motel they’re staying at. Elena remains on Katherine’s heels as she follows her out of the car and into the lobby, standing behind her as she compels the concierge to give her the floor number of the woman who had just walked through. Elena’s never realised how effortless it is, the way that vampires can control other people.

She follows Katherine into the elevator and wrings her hands together. The rapid change from watching a witch to interrogating a witch leaves her a little nervous, but Elena follows Katherine’s lead. She hasn’t led her astray thus far. She can be trusted. She’s here when so many aren’t.

But that doesn’t stop her from feeling a little anxious at the idea of confronting one of Klaus’ witches.

"What are we going to do?" She glances at Katherine who’s picking at her red nails. She looks too composed, too unaffected by the fact that they’ve followed a witch.

Katherine sighs and shrugs. "Talk to her."

"Nicely, right?"

Katherine doesn’t answer her. Licking her lips, she peers up at the ascending digital numbers as the elevator takes them to their floor. The hallway is lush and cleaner than the outdoor corridors of the motel. Elena follows Katherine until they find themselves in front of the witch’s room.

Katherine raps her knuckles against the door. It takes a few moments before Elena can hear any sound coming from beyond it, and when it opens, she’s taken aback by how wide and saccharine Katherine’s smile is.

The witch eyes the two of them uncertainly. Elena notes the exact moment she realises she sees two identical women standing before them. Katherine kicks the door in, and before Elena can step inside, she closes it and locks it behind her.

"Katherine!" Elena pounds at the door. Quickly turning to look up and down the hallway, she realises that Katherine’s compulsion of the concierge has either kept people away from this floor or she’s been here before. She likes to think it’s the latter.

Katherine doesn’t open the door despite Elena trying to break it down. Her shoulder hurts by the end of it. After a few minutes of endlessly battering the door, she slides down against the wall beside the doorframe. Pressing her ear against the gap between frame and door, she can’t hear anything from inside the room. The witch has to be okay. Katherine’s hands have to be clean. This isn’t the way to get their revenge. They’re meant to do this together.

After some time, the door opens abruptly. Elena’s quick to stand, wrapping her arm across her chest as she grips her elbow. Katherine looks as impeccable as she had when she’d stepped inside. Her hands are clean and aren’t blood-soaked.

She smiles at Elena sweetly. "Sarah’s going to help us."

Elena’s brows furrow as she watches Katherine. "Katherine…"

"Let’s go." Katherine’s not speaking to her. Clicking her fingers impatiently, Sarah steps outside of her hotel room with a small bag in her hands. Katherine plants her hand possessively against the small of her back. While Elena’s gut pinches uncomfortably with jealousy, she sees the way Katherine’s hand doesn’t relax against her back. It’s pushing her forward, reminding her of what she has to lose if she doesn’t comply.

They walk out of the hotel as if they’re three great friends. Katherine waves at the concierge who smiles sweetly at her. Elena walks behind them, unsure of why she feels the need to bring up the rear. She wants to ensure nothing embeds itself into Katherine’s back.

At the car, Katherine smiles at Sarah as she snatches her little bag from her hands. "I’ll take that." The movement of her elbow is quick. She makes contact with Sarah’s head and quickly catches her as her body slumps. Piling her into the backseat, she slams the door shut and slips into the driver’s seat as if she’s packed shopping bags.

Elena remains standing dumbly by the passenger door. She can’t stop looking at the back of the car.

Katherine sighs. "She’ll be okay, Elena." Peering up at her through the window in exasperation, she clicks her fingers. "Get in or walk back."

Elena slips into the passenger seat. As she tugs her seatbelt across her chest, she glances over her shoulder and notes how Sarah slumps in the backseat almost peacefully.

"Why are we bringing her with us?"

Katherine doesn’t tear her gaze away from the road ahead. "So we can make sure she doesn’t tattle." She glances at Elena and sighs heavily. "You trust too easily."

"And you don’t trust anyone at all," Elena accuses, brows pinching together tightly. "She could’ve offered to help us all on her own—"

"A witch on Klaus’ payroll doesn’t offer to help the two women he’s chasing down," Katherine says through gritted teeth. "They align themselves with him in an effort to get out of their debt a lot sooner."

Elena licks her lips and presses back into her seat, crossing her arms against her chest. She feels foolish for even suggesting it.

"Not everyone is good," Katherine admits reluctantly. "Not everyone is you."

She flushes. After a moment of silence, Elena asks, "So, what’s the plan?"

"We use her to find out where Klaus is," she says, "and she confirms the exact coordinates of where the weapon is to kill him." Katherine glances at Elena. "He’s at the bottom of the sea."

Her heart races in her chest. Sitting a little straighter in her seat, she licks her lips and doesn’t tear her gaze away from Katherine. "And Sarah? You’ll let her live, won’t you?"

Katherine’s quiet for a long moment. Glancing at the rearview mirror, she makes a turn before looking at Elena. "For you, I will."

 

 

*

 

 

Katherine carries Sarah up the stairs and into their motel room with ease. Elena locks the door behind her as she dumps Sarah unceremoniously into a chair by the small round table. She slumps over, resting her cheek hard against the wooden surface.

Katherine sighs, brushing her hand through her curly hair. She readjusts her dress and drops her handbag onto the bed.

"How is she going to help us find this weapon?" Elena asks quietly.

Katherine sweeps her fingers against her chin. "Scry," she shrugs. "Channel him. Seek him out. A witch has an infinite number of resources, Elena. Relax."

She flushes, remembering what happened the last time Katherine had requested she relax. She brushes her fingers against her dress and sits on the edge of the bed, tugging the hem against her thighs.

Katherine smiles, watching her in amusement. "Thinking about it, are you?"

Elena looks away from her.

Turning her back to the slumped witch, Katherine wedges herself between Elena’s legs. Brushing her fingers through her hair, she peels her sunglasses from behind her ears and drops them onto the bed. Her fingers are gentle in her hair as they sweep along her scalp. Elena sighs in contentment, closing her eyes and tilting her head back.

Katherine’s fingers glide along the shell of her ears, down the slope of her neck. Tucking beneath the hem of her dress, she slides her hands against Elena’s bare skin.

"Katherine…" She licks her dry lips and peers up at her shyly. "We’re working."

"All work and no play makes a girl very unfun," Katherine smirks, lowering herself to her knees in front of Elena. Her gaze is dark, the skin beneath her eyes glistening with the threat of her veins rising to the surface. "You have no issue with it before, Elena. How do you think I got through all that bird watching, hm?"

Elena swallows, her mouth dry. Her heart races in her chest. This is what she had wanted, isn’t it? Katherine on her knees? With the straps of her dress falling against her biceps, Elena leans back and spreads her legs as Katherine’s hands slide from her knees to her thighs, fingers brushing against her panties.

Katherine tugs at her panties, pulling them off her hips. When she bows her head to brush her nose against her pubic bone, Elena sighs. She closes her eyes for a moment before she opens them again, hearing the scraping of a chair.

The brush of Katherine’s tongue is fleeting. It happens too abruptly: Sarah stands, her face contorting. Katherine on her feet, her fangs bared, the veins beneath her eyes dark and angry. Sarah’s face is ugly as her gaze sharpens, turning a beautiful woman into something grotesque. Hands raised, she curls her fingers and pulls Katherine to her knees.

Katherine grips the sides of her head. Elena’s heart pounds heavily in her chest as she clumsily rises to her feet. Katherine cries out, struggling to stand back up.

Sarah isn’t as strong as Bonnie, but her lips move quietly and her hands raise as if she’s a puppeteer. It only takes a moment, one utter of a word—

Katherine’s skin begins to grow grey and sickly.

Elena charges at Sarah. Hits her elbow against something sharp. Before Sarah can utter another word, Elena smacks her hand against her mouth. Straddling her against the floor, she presses down hard, uncaring if it hurts. Despite Sarah’s sharp teeth, she keeps her hand pressed against her.

"Stop," she breathes heavily, panting on top of her. Elena uses the weight of her human body to keep her at bay. Sarah’s wild and moving beneath her. "Stop." It takes a moment before Sarah stops. "Stop," she repeats again, this time feeling defeated as she pants it out. The room’s silent. Katherine’s no longer screaming. "We want to help you, too."

Sarah’s lips move against her hand. Elena doesn’t trust her enough to remove it.

"If you help us, what you owe Klaus will be considered repaid," she says, peering down earnestly at her. Sarah’s eyes glisten. The tightness to her body relaxes slowly. Her mouth closes against her hand, the threat of her teeth gone.

After a few moments, Elena reluctantly moves her hand. She remains straddling her body and presses her hands against her shoulders sharply.

"I don’t want any part of this," Sarah pants heavily. "None."

"Just tell us what we need to know," Elena says, straightening her spine. "And that’s it."

Sarah licks her lips. It takes her a moment to consider the sincerity of her words. And then she nods. "Okay."

Katherine’s feet are heavy against the floor. Elena glances over her shoulder and peers at her with wide eyes. Her fangs remain pressed against her teeth. Elena watches as Katherine’s face settles. Her skin’s returned to its healthy olive colour.

She stares at her hand, fingers shaking. Elena waits until Katherine’s come back to herself and sheathed once more behind her walls before she allows Sarah to rise and see her.

 

 

*

 

 

After Sarah gives them the information that they want, Elena drives her back to her hotel after Katherine promises that if she betrays them, her Plans B-F will come into play. Elena doubts Sarah needs to be told of the threat Katerina Petrova poses.

When Elena returns, she closes and locks the motel room and cards her hand through her hair. She sighs heavily. Katherine’s sitting on the edge of the bed quietly, cloaked in the shadows.

"What you did was incredibly risky," she says.

"You’re welcome," Elena mutters sarcastically. She drops the car keys onto the small kitchen table and toes off her converse shoes, leaving them by her chair. It hardly went with her dress, but it had made her feel in control and comfortable. She could stand up for Katherine if she felt like herself.

She ignores Katherine watching her as she steps into the bathroom.

Turning on the shower, she licks her lips and plants her hands on the side of the sink. She stops herself from shaking. When she looks up, Katherine’s watching her from the entrance with her arms crossed against her chest.

"I don’t regret it," Elena says to her reflection. Katherine’s expression doesn’t shift away from judgement. "I don’t regret saving you."

"Your weakness was showing," Katherine says, her expression hard. Elena notices the twitch in her eye. "That’s not okay. If you want to be ready for the next step, you need to be better than this."

Anger curls in her gut and her jaw sets. Elena grips the sides of the vanity as she glares daggers at Katherine in the mirror. Through gritted teeth, she snaps, "What’s not okay is the only person I have left dying!"

If Katherine’s taken aback by her outburst, she doesn’t show it. She remains still against the doorframe and doesn’t even shuffle her feet.

Elena shakes her head and turns back to the sink. "Forget it," she mutters. "You appreciate nothing anyone does for you."

When she hears movement, she thinks she’s left. Within a moment, Katherine’s behind her, hands on her hips. When Elena peers up at her in the mirror, she notices how Katherine’s gaze is locked on hers. The silence stretches between them. Elena thinks to look away.

"Thank you, Elena," she says sincerely.

Elena inhales deeply before she nods. "You’re welcome, Katerina," she says.

Katherine’s lips twitch. Her hands remain gentle against her hips. Elena’s heart soars in her chest, running wildly at the bravado she feels at calling Katherine how she sees her. She’s grateful he doesn’t hate it.

With a pinch to her hips, Katherine turns her head and walks out of the bathroom.

Elena stares at the mirror for a few moments after, disliking only seeing herself reflected in it.

 

 

*

 

 

They don’t talk about it over dinner.

When Katherine comes to bed, Elena openly watches her as she drops her towel. She anticipates her to slip into her bra and panties, but finds she’s surprised when Katherine slips into bed naked. There’s a play here, though, Elena’s not quite sure if she wants to disentangle it right now.

She eyes the strong lines of her shoulder blades and bicep. Placing her book on the bedside table, she turns off the lamp and sidles over towards her.

Elena doesn’t hesitate in placing her hand against her hip. Katherine releases a small breath. Gliding her fingertips along the slope of her torso, Elena relishes in Katherine’s small shiver. It’s the most Katherine has ever reacted to her before.

As Elena palms her bare belly, she thinks her being naked is Katherine’s way of being present. Reminding her that she’s not alone. Of being here, present without hiding behind her armour.

When Elena pulls her hand away abruptly, she watches Katherine peer over her shoulder. Elena sits up and peels her tank top over her head and her shorts and panties down her hips and feet. Kicking them to the base of the bed, Elena tugs the sheets up and over her as she lies back down.

Katherine faces forward, back to her. Elena shivers when she curls her naked front to Katherine’s damp bare back. Her hand returns to her belly as she slips her foot between Katherine’s ankles. Katherine deserves a reminder that she’s here, too.

She remembers her hands, gentle and rough, pushing her throughout her house, trying to guide each one of her steps forward rather than allowing her to go backwards. She remembers Katherine in her room, packing her bag, trying to cross off a haphazardly put together list of all the keepsakes Elena needs to keep herself thriving and alive. She remembers Katherine in her bathroom, scrubbing her hands in the bath as she tries to rid her of the blood she’d pressed against her own face.

Walking into her house to utter silence and bloodstains had left her cold. Finding her friends and family draped across her house like broken dolls had killed her.

But Katherine had been there, trying to breathe life back into her, uttering to her in English and Bulgarian, trying to snap her out of her stupor. "I’m here," she’d said sharply, softly, against her skin as she had tried to pull her up and get her moving. Her hands had shaken. Elena had never thought Katherine capable of shaking.

She feels her shiver, shaking a little now. She had felt Katherine bared to her that night she’d helped her burn her house to the ground and move forward. Katherine had been as naked as she was now when she packed her into her car and had chosen to save her.

Elena leans forward and kisses the back of her shoulder. "I’m here," she whispers quietly. She allows her lips to linger before she nips at her skin. Lifting her hand to brush Katherine’s hair away, she slides her fingertips along the length of her arm and down to her hipbone before she dips her fingers between her legs. Katherine’s damp from her shower.

Working her other hand between them, Elena presses her hand to her own pubic bone. Slipping her fingers inside of herself, she gasps as she mirrors her touch to Katherine. The angle’s awkward, but Elena doesn’t let up as she slides her finger deeper inside of Katherine. She thinks she hears an intake of breath, even if she remains quiet and still in front of her.

Elena tries to goad her into action, but Katherine remains still, only parting her legs slightly and curling her feet against her calves. Elena gasps and buries her mouth against Katherine’s shoulder. Nipping at her skin, she slides another finger inside of Katherine, crooking them inside of her. She’s slick from her shower and from Elena pressing her naked body against her.

She moans loudly against her skin, mouthing and sucking at her. She wills her to take what she wants. Katherine Pierce leaves no prisoners, yet she refuses to roll over and take her. Elena continues to touch her, listening intently to her breathing shift. Katherine’s warm all over.

Katherine makes a noise when Elena slides a third finger inside of her. It’s then that she bed shifts, but Katherine still doesn’t roll over towards her. Elena tugs her hands from her cunt and presses her fingers against Katherine’s ass. She rocks against the heel of her palm, gasping and pushing against Katherine’s body. All she wants is for Katherine to feel her, to be as overwhelmed by her presence and touch as Elena is with hers.

Her breathing hitches. Katherine doesn’t turn over, doesn’t so much as moan loud enough for her human ears to hear. But her hand presses against the back of Elena’s between her legs, and Elena’s encouraged to crook her fingers inside of her cunt.

Katherine’s body grows taut and stiffens. She bucks back into Elena’s hips. Elena feels her clench around her fingers. She doesn’t remove her hand. Elena moans against Katherine’s shoulder, writhing behind her. If her ancestor won’t move and be loud, she will be.

Elena comes with Katerina’s name on her lips. She bites at her back until she draws blood, and she licks at it, claiming it as hers.

 

 

*

 

 

Finally, Katherine gives in to her incessant pestering to visit the local secondhand bookshop. It’s only a few storefronts away from the motel. Despite the darkening grey sky and Katherine’s growing annoyance, Elena insists they should walk.

While Katherine originally appears annoyed and unamused in the aisles, Elena catches her eying a few spines and pulling a couple of titles from the shelf. She looks almost at ease with the way she stands with her hip jutted out in her dark pants and her camisole strap falling from her shoulder.

She buys a few books, titles belonging to the Scandinavian era, atlases, and books on the ocean. Elena knows it’s all for research. Despite that, she enjoys the idea of Katherine being shy at admitting she wanted to go to the bookstore and using Elena’s love for stories as the excuse to get there.

When they step out of the shop, it’s pouring down rain.

"I told you we should’ve brought the car," Katherine sighs, pouting rather petulantly.

Elena peers up at the sky, eyeing the clouds as if she can determine if it’ll stop any time soon. She then peers down at her dress and the lack of handbag on her shoulder. Katherine holds the paper bag filled with the books, peering up at the sky as if she expects it to open and dry itself out. It doesn’t.

"Race you?" Elena smiles. Katherine rolls her eyes, but she keeps her pace at a human run, staying beside Elena during the downpour.

They’re sopping wet when they enter the motel. Closing the door behind her, Katherine drops the wet bag on the kitchen table. "Shower, now," she snaps.

Elena smiles, shaking her head. Turning around, she walks backwards, liking the way Katherine eyes the way her drenched dress clings to her skin. Her knees are muddied and bloodied from when she’d tripped in the rain.

"Okay," Elena laughs. "But it’d be nice if you joined me."

Katherine doesn’t take the bait. She lingers by the table, opening the bag and pulling out their damp books. Ignoring the disappointment, Elena walks into the bathroom and keeps the door open. Shedding herself of her wet clothing, she slips into the shower and makes it as hot as she can.

The curtain opens before Elena can even slip beneath the spray. Katherine, still dressed, steps in behind her, brushing her hand against her back. She’s gentle in the way she helps wash the dirt and blood from her.

Elena relaxes against her. She stands with the spray hitting her chest, cupping the water in her hands. Katherine remains behind her, palm pressing firmly against her spine. Arching her back as her hand descends, Elena tugs in a breath when Katherine drags her nails down to the small of her back.

She steps into her, her chin almost resting against her damp shoulder. "Do you want to know what it was like?"

Elena’s brows furrow. "What was what like?"

"Having them both?"

Elena stares at Katherine from over her shoulder, her hands wrapped around her breasts in an attempt to remember her modesty.

Katherine’s slow in sliding her hand along the swell of her ass. Her smirk remains in place, her dully coloured lips a striking red despite being a pale pink. Elena watches her before she looks to the tiles in front of her, focusing solely on Katherine’s warm hand and the sharp graze of her nails.

Katherine’s hand’s between her legs; she slides a finger roughly into Elena’s cunt. Elena gasps when Katherine slides her thumb against her ass.

"Oh my god."

Katherine chuckles and remains as she is, pressing against her firmly.

"It stings."

"It did back then," Katherine purrs. "I was always too impatient to wait." She chuckles. "It felt better that way, that wanton need. I taught them both to love it, too."

Elena leans against the wall, her hands planted flat against the cool tiles. Katherine holds her hand between her legs, one finger in each of her holes. Her heart hammers hard, her skin burns hot. Her hair clings to her back and chest, and all she wants to do is move against her hand, but her legs shake.

"Stefan was a little bigger," Katherine says, thrusting her finger deeper into her cunt. Elena gasps. "I never felt alone with him," she continues, watching Elena’s face. Elena wants to be stoic, to lift her head up, to tilt her head back and show she’s unbreakable, but she bows her head forward and releases a hard breath. "But Damon," Katherine smiles, her voice growing warm as she chuckles, "he knew what he was doing."

Elena gasps as Katherine pushes her finger into her ass. She wants to tell her to stop. But she spreads her legs, tries to plant her feet more firmly against the porcelain of the tub. The water feels hot against her skin, turning her pink.

"You should’ve taken what was yours, silly girl," Katherine tsks sharply, pushing her fingers in deeper. She brings her other hand to slap her ass. Elena gasps, her body stilling, growing tense and taut. She squeezes her muscles and traps Katherine’s fingers, but she knows that’s no use as Katherine pushes further in.

"But you lost it," Elena gasps, her head bowed. She stares at Katherine’s bare feet, toenails perfectly coloured. Licking her lips, she heaves in a breath and looks at Katherine through the wet strands of her hair sticking to her face. "You lost it."

Katherine’s fingers are gentle as they brush the hair away from her face. She glides them along the apple of her cheek before her thumb traces Elena’s lower lip. Elena sucks it into her mouth without thought, feeling warm and powerful at the way Katherine’s lips part as she stares at Elena’s mouth.

"I lost a lot of things, Elena," Katherine says to her lips. After a moment, she lifts her gaze. "You existing tells me what I lost was happy without me."

Elena’s brows furrow as she licks her lips. "Your daughter?"

Katherine’s hand drops from her face. Elena wishes for her to touch her again, to reach out and touch Katherine, but her hands remain pressed against the tiles as the pressure of Katherine inside of her keeps her in place.

She watches Katherine’s tongue dart out to wet her lips.

"Is she why you’re doing this?" Elena says, tititng her head upward. Her cheeks burn when Katherine glances at her breasts. "Why you’re helping me?"

Katherine inhales deeply, her throat growing taut, and then she swallows thickly. Elena watches the impenetrable thick line of her throat, the beautiful olive skin, the way she heaves in a breath. Even in the shower, even after stripping herself of her armour in bed with her, even after she’s allowed Elena to find solace in her warmth, Katherine still remains distant. Elena’s naked and exposed and Katherine remains dressed in her walls.

Elena knows that Katherine’s been bare with her. Wrapped up in damp sheets, lying in front of her, allowing Elena to touch her, to have her at her most vulnerable when she hasn’t allowed anyone to have her in that way since her daughter. It’s why she remains standing, arching her hips back into her hand.

"She’s not gone, Katherine," Elena says, licking her lips. She swallows, wetting her dry mouth. Katherine remains quiet, still. "She’s always with you."

When Katherine peers up at her, her eyes are wet. Elena gives her a small smile and moves her hand from the wall. Her fingertips are cold as she clumsily brushes them against Katherine’s parted lips.

"Thank you, Elena," Katherine says genuinely. Something swells inside of her chest, warm and beautiful. It’s a feeling she hasn’t had since she buried her friends in her diaries.

If Katherine has anything else to say, she keeps it to herself. Her lips remain pressed together, but Elena thinks she can make some of it out in the crooking of Katherine’s fingers inside of her.

She gasps, slamming her hand into the wall again. Katherine pushes her fingers deeper stretching her. It hurts. She thinks to tell her she’s not ready, but she hates and loves the sting, the way her body reacts to Katherine and lets her in.

Katherine slaps the side of her ass and brushes her hand roughly against her back. It takes Elena a moment to realise she’s roughly soaping her spine. She must have dirt staining her skin there. But she can’t think of anything, can’t try and focus on whether it’s dirt or if Katherine simply wants to touch her. She thrusts her fingers sharply into her as she moves the bar of soap roughly to her belly. Pressing hard against her, Elena presses her thighs together, gasping and mewling as Katherine thrusts her fingers in hard.

When she pulls her hand back, Elena gasps, tries to catch her breath, but it escapes her when Katherine pushes her fingers inside of her roughly, her ass stinging. When a second finger slides into her cunt, she bows her head and almost presses it to the wall.

Katherine hums as she slides the soapy bar up her chest and to her breasts. She’s rough in handling her as she sings a quiet lullaby. Elena can’t recognise any of the words, but Katherine’s light voice, full of warmth and lightness and love, curls something in her gut, turning her on. Despite growing wet as Katherine fondles her breast and brushes her thumb roughly against her nipple, Elena still moans sharply at the sting of her fingers.

Katherine keeps the punishing pace up. Elena doesn’t think she’ll come from this. It hurts too much despite it feeling somewhat pleasurable, it sparking warmth in her belly even through the sting. It feels strangely powerful to know Katherine won’t treat her like glass.

She spreads her legs, presses her hands hard against the tiles, and lets Katherine fuck her like she deserves and desires to be.

She comes with a sharp cry, temple pressed against the cold tiles. Katherine keeps pushing her fingers inside of her before she stops, her hand pressed firmly between her legs. Elena feels Katherine so deep inside of her, clawing her way in, curling inside in a way Elena finds comforting.

Katherine’s hand is rough against her hair, pulling it away from her chest and back. It’s her way of comforting, she knows. After a display of such vulnerability, Katherine has to be hard again. She can’t be anything but.

Elena looks at Katherine from over her shoulder, breathing hard and impossible to catch. "I don’t want them," Elena pants. Katherine’s reaction is so small and fleeting. Her lips part slightly. Elena continues to stare at her. Heart pounding in her chest, her throat tightens. "I want you."

She licks her lips and enjoys the flush to Katherine’s cheeks. Her tank top and panties are soaked through, sticking to her skin, clinging to her in a way Elena openly stares at. The way her heart thumps hard in her chest, her skin burning beneath Katherine’s scrutiny, reminds her that she’s alive. She’s here.

Katherine licks her lips before she pulls her hand away from her. She doesn’t rip off her own clothing to step into the shower. Tugging the curtain back, she steps out and holds the towel out for Elena to step into.

And when Elena does, she can’t help but think this is them coming full circle.

 

 

*

 

 

"Are you hungry?" Elena asks from the dining table. Katherine seems antsier than usual. While Elena doesn’t know where Katherine goes when she opts to stay inside the motel room and read, she suspects that she doesn’t go hunting for a more palatable blood donor. There’s logic to her proposition she knows Katherine can see; if she begins feeding on the locals, that’ll be the stone that causes a ripple big enough to reach wherever Klaus is hiding.

Neither of them want him to come before they’ve called for him.

Katherine licks her lips. "Yes." Pulling the curtains back, she peers out the window. It’s an anxiousness Elena remembers overtaking Caroline during the early weeks of her transition. It was like she was trying to keep from tearing off her skin.

Elena ensures to push her chair out noisily. The feet scraping against the carpet is enough to pull Katherine’s attention away from the heartbeats above and below them. She watches her with a sharp gaze as Elena sits on the edge of the bed. Patting the spot beside her, she presses her hands between her thighs and waits.

Katherine doesn’t come to her immediately. She’s not eager like Stefan or Caroline. She doubts she’s as eager as Damon would’ve been. She’s poised in a way that Elena tries to exhibit now with her straight back and her gaze gentle.

When Katherine sits beside her, her thigh presses against hers. It’s the only part of her that shows her hunger.

With an unhappy purse of her lips, Katherine asks unimpressed, "Where am I biting you today?"

That’s when Elena’s heart rate picks up. Katherine’s smirk is slow to spread smugly across her lips. "Oh."

Elena tries to ignore her flush.

"Okay," Katherine says, still smirking. There’s something primal in her dark eyes as she glances over at Elena.

Licking her lips, Elena shuffles back and lies on the bed. Her hands press against her belly before she lets them fall to her sides. Katherine watches her quietly before her hand presses to her knee and slides up the length of her thigh, up her dress, and pushes the fabric to expose her underwear.

Elena watches her despite wanting to look away. Her face burns in embarrassment; she imagines her skin is as red as a sunburn. Katherine’s lips never lose their upward quick. Elena holds her breath when Katherine’s warm mouth presses to the side of her knee, then her kneecap.

"Relax," she murmurs quietly against her skin.

Elena swallows against the lump in her throat as Katherine makes her way slowly up her thigh, kissing warm skin that feels as though it’s electrified beneath her touch. Peering up at the ceiling, Elena closes her eyes and focuses on the gentle feeling of Katherine’s lips as she makes her way up to her hip.

Katherine lingers at her inner thigh, right near the crease of her hip. Mouth opening, she licks at her skin, sucks at her and nips her teeth gently against her. Elena lets out a breath. Peering down at her, she wishes that she could see more than the top of Katherine’s curly head.

Katherine’s gentle in the way she presses her fangs into her. Gasping, Elena grips the fabric of her dress and bunches it at her sides. Body growing taut, she tries to relax, breathing hard and long as she wills herself to remember that she can trust Katherine. She can trust her with more than just her life.

"My contact’s located the weapon," Katherine murmurs against her skin. Elena’s thigh feels sticky and wet, and she imagines that Katherine’s lips and chin are wearing her.

It takes her a moment to realise that she’s spoken, of what the contact is, of why they need a weapon. When it comes together, Elena doesn’t understand why that disappoints her. "Oh."

Katherine smiles against her skin. Elena feels a tug as Katherine drinks, her fangs piercing her skin again. "We should leave tomorrow morning," she murmurs.

Elena’s brows furrow as she peers down at Katherine, willing her to look up. She doesn’t. "So early?"

Licking at her thigh, Katherine gently kisses where she’s torn skin. Against her thigh, she says quietly, "If anyone else catches wind that there’s a weapon out there that can permanently kill Klaus, we’ll have a chase on our hands." Then, she lifts her head. With her mouth red, her chin stained, her eyes dark and veins beneath her eyes, Elena finds herself warming at the sight of Katherine at her most primal. "So, yes, tomorrow."

"Oh," Elena says dumbly.

Katherine’s brow cocks for a moment before she bows her head. Her mouth doesn’t return to her thigh; Elena jolts when she feels warm pressure against her panties. Katherine licks at her cunt through the fabric.

"Okay," Elena says, wanting to try and encourage her onward. She wants to convince her to stay another day or two at the motel, to let it just be the two of them as it’s been for the last few weeks. She doesn’t know if she’s ready for the next step.

Katherine licks at her hard, causing her to squirm.

"I don’t know," Elena gasps, fingers bunching tightly around her dress. "I don’t know if we should leave so soon."

Katherine hums against her. She doesn’t listen, and if she does, she makes no inclination to respond immediately. Elena thinks to bury her fingers in her hair and tug her upward, but she can’t move. All she does is spread her legs a little wider and buck her hips into Katherine’s face. That earns her a chuckle.

When Katherine peers up at her, the veins remain beneath her eyes. She looks hungry in a way that Elena has felt since lying in bed beside her. With Katherine’s fingers hooking into the hem of her panties, Elena lifts her hips and helps her pull them down.

Katherine’s mouth is against her thigh again, licking at where she’s broken skin. Elena gasps as fangs sink into her skin again. Katherine drinks from her for a few moments before she’s kissing her thigh, licking at her, sucking and leaving a blemish in the wake of her tearing and maiming her.

"Do you?" Elena asks quietly, barely able to hear her voice. It’s a stupid question to ask. She doesn’t even know what she’s asking. Does she want to leave? Does she want to stay? Does she want her as much as Elena wants her?

Elena gasps and arches off the bed when Katherine’s mouth slopes against her cunt. She licks at her, into her, and she sucks at her hard enough to cause Elena’s body to tremor. Gripping her dress, Elena bucks her hips and tries to stay still all at once.

Katherine doesn’t move faster. She licks at her languidly, pressing hard, being too light. She thinks she can feel a fang against her, but Katherine doesn’t sink her teeth in. She licks at her, kisses her, sucks at her clit. It’s when she’s licking at her lightly that Elena growls in frustration.

Roughly, Elena pulls her hands away from her dress. Heart racing wildly in her chest, she ignores how her skin feels aflame. Tentatively, she curls her fingers into Katherine’s hair and runs her nails against her scalp. Hearing and feeling Katherine moan against her, she’s gentle in the way she tugs her forward.

It doesn’t encourage Katherine to stop licking at her lightly.

Panting softly, Elena stares down at Katherine’s head of hair, her fingers gripping her tightly. She tugs her head towards her and bucks her hips into her face. Katherine chuckles against her cunt, licks at her harder, and then she feels her tongue slide into her, deeper than she’d been before. She curls into her, licking at her hard, and presses her hands against her hips to keep her steady.

Elena moans beneath her, hands tangling firmly in her hair, knotting it despite wanting to be gentle. Pressing her lips together, she tries not to make a sound. She wants to be as still as Katherine’s been, to let Katherine have her fill as she’s allowed Elena to countless times. But Elena’s too greedy to remain quiet. She tries to buck against Katherine’s head, press her thighs around her face to keep her there. She grips her hair tightly, tangles her fingers into the strands impossibly hard. She pushes her head into her and tries to fuck her face.

She thinks she can feel Katherine smiling against her, can feel a rumble of her laughter as she pinches her hips and continues to lick and suck at her. When she moves her head against Elena’s strength, Elena moans sharply when she sucks on her clit.

Her body shudders. Elena grips Katherine’s hair so tightly she pulls at her. Arching off the bed, she twists her upper body, pressing her thighs around Katherine as she comes. The hands on her hips are firm but she doesn’t try to tear her away from her.

When Elena relaxes, pressing back into the bed and spreading her legs to release Katherine, she sighs and groans at how Katherine continues to lick at her. It’s gentle in the way she’s never associated Katherine to be. She kisses her cunt, licks at her a few more times before she lifts her head and licks her lips. The veins remain beneath her eyes as the fangs press against her wet lips. Blood smears against her chin and across her cheek.

"This isn’t going to stop when we leave this shitty motel and find Mikael," Katherine says breathlessly, looking over her body. Elena’s dress sticks to her damp skin. "I plan to have you in a hotel with a bigger bed," she smirks. Pursing her lips, she teases, "Preferably on very expensive Egyptian cotton."

Elena flushes and licks her lips, her mouth dry.

"But you need to be alive for that to happen."

She thinks she gets it. While she’s afraid to leave, not wanting to leave this bubble that they’ve created, she knows that they need to move forward. Every story progresses, and Elena wants hers to develop in the direction that doesn’t leave her abandoned again. She wants to be splayed out beneath Katherine on Egyptian cotton she’s never felt against her bare skin before.

"Tomorrow," Elena says quietly. When Katherine nods, she glides her hands gently through Katherine’s knotted hair.

Dropping her hands from her, Katherine climbs up her body and slopes her mouth against hers, smearing her blood against her chin and lips.

 

 

*

 

 

With their bags packed, Elena bids her goodnight as Katherine slips beneath the covers in her bra and panties. With her back to her, Elena watches the way her body relaxes beneath the rough sheets.

She doesn’t hesitate in placing her book on the bedside table and turning off the lamp. Sliding around her, Elena glides her hand along her belly and spreads her fingers, wanting to feel the rise and fall of her breathing.

When she slides her hand between Katherine’s legs, she rubs her through her panties. Elena bows her head and kisses her shoulder, her bicep, and bites at the back of her shoulder. Katherine grows wet against her fingers and sighs, but she doesn’t roll over. Elena doesn’t expect her to.

She continues to rub her fingers against her, wanting to feel the warmth of her thighs around her hand. Elena kisses the back of her head, the nape of her neck, and bites at the strap of her bra.

The bed shifts. Katherine begins to roll over. Elena doesn’t pull her hand from between her legs as she dumbly watches her drop onto her back. Peering up at her, Katherine reaches up and brushes her fingers against the slope of Elena’s nose. Staying still, she allows Katherine to trace her lips. Parting them, Katherine slips her fingers into her mouth, and Elena curls her tongue around her, wanting her to shiver. She barely reacts.

Eventually, Katherine pulls away from her, getting onto her knees. Elena’s on her back as she continues to stare at her dumbly, watching Katherine pick at the sheets, throw them to the foot of the bed, and straddle her.

Reaching behind her back, she undoes the clasp of her bra and slides the straps down her arms. Dropping her bra to the side, Katherine tugs at the hem of Elena’s tank top, but doesn’t pull it up and over her head. She slides her hands beneath the fabric, onto the warmth of her belly, and gently glides her hands up until she’s cupping her breasts.

Elena inhales deeply, trying to stay as still as possible. She moans low in her throat as Katherine palms her breasts, kneading them roughly, and then slides them down her chest and to her hips again. Elena takes that as her invitation to belatedly follow her, hooking her fingers into her tank top and pulling it up and over her head.

It’s not lost on her that they are truly mirrors now. Katherine peers down at her with her curly hair wild and Elena imagines her straight hair is on its way to being tangled.

Katherine shifts against her. Elena takes that as her invitation to sit up.

Bowing her head, Elena kisses her collarbones. Pressing her hands gently to her back, she slides her palms firmly up Katherine’s spine until she’s tangling her hands into her hair. Katherine’s hands are on her back, in her hair, tugging at the ends as she bows her head against the top of Elena’s head.

Katherine pulls away from her. "Take off your panties," she orders quietly. Elena watches her pull her own panties down her hips, working them off and leaving them behind her. Elena does the same, roughly tugging her panties down, waiting for Katherine to hold herself up so that she can work them off her feet.

When Katherine straddles her again, she’s wet. Elena knows she’s the same. She licks her lips and stares up at her, heart pounding in her chest.

Katherine’s hand comes to her back, tangling in her hair. Her other hand palms her back and glides along her spine. Elena feels pressure at her back to roll onto her side and quietly obeys. Katherine falls back, facing her, and Elena follows suit. Her legs remain tangled with hers.

"Open your legs a little more," Katherine says quietly. Elena obeys, and gasps when she feels Katherine’s wet cunt against her own. Peering up at her, she blushes at Katherine’s smug smile.

Elena nods. "I want to do this," she says, brushing her fingers against Katherine’s cheek. She slides her hand around her back and glides it down to cup her ass. Katherine smiles against her palm before she begins to move, grinding down against her.

Elena gasps, gripping Katherine’s ass. She tentatively moves, closing her eyes and holding her breath. Katherine’s hand is gentle against her chin, a little rough against her face. She reaches behind her, palming her back. Elena moves her hips against Katherine’s, gasping as she feels how slick she is against her.

Bowing her head, she feels the warm press of Katherine’s open mouth against her temple. Elena palms her ass, grips her tightly, wanting to hold her against her. Her legs wrap around her a little tighter. Lifting her head, she works her other arm beneath Katherine and pushes her head down to meet hers.

Elena slopes her mouth clumsily against hers. She thinks Katherine lets her do it. Her lips are warm, her tongue wet. She nips at her lips and bites a little too hard, and when she tastes Katherine’s blood, she sucks on her bottom lip harder. Katherine moans against her, smirking and panting.

Elena moans when she feels Katherine’s hand press clumsily against her belly, gliding down to where they rub against one another. She gasps when Katherine touches her clit, when she slips a finger inside of her and curls it tightly. Elena grips at her, tangling in her hair, trying to bruise indestructible skin.

She grinds against her finger and cunt, and wishes to untangle her hands from Katherine, but she grips at her harder, afraid to let go of her. She pants against her mouth, bites at her lips again, and draws blood. She smiles against her, licking at her clumsily. Pulling her hand from Katherine’s hair, she tries to copy her, pressing her hand between them. Bumping against Katherine’s against her cunt, she clumsily tries to bury her finger inside of Katherine.

Katherine chuckles against her lips. Elena bites at her again, keeping her lip between her teeth this time. "Let me," she whispers sharply. Katherine fights her for a moment, pressing her thighs together to try and stop her, but then Elena feels her pull her hips back. Elena slips her hand between them and slides two fingers inside of her.

Her hand presses against the back of Katherine’s. It’s not as gentle as how she’s touched her before; it’s clumsy in a way she thinks best suits her. Katherine knows how to move, slithering in and out of the shadows and light while Elena hopelessly nips at her heels. Elena’s always felt composed in how she’s explored Katherine, in how she’s tried to anchor her to her by caressing her. But she feels something primal emerge from her now. She bites at Katherine’s lip, grinds down against her hand, and tries to rub her clit against the heel of Katherine’s palm in a desperate desire to have all of her that she can reach.

She thinks she’s finally allowing herself to need someone. To trust Katherine to be there. She now relies on her to be beside her when she wakes up. She depends on her to remind her that she’s indestructible despite her easily bruising skin. She needs Katherine to remind her that having herself is more than enough.

Elena comes against her hand and slopes her mouth firmly against Katherine’s. She curls her fingers inside of her, rubbing her hand against her roughly and clumsily. Katherine moans against her mouth, her lips bloodied as the skin begins to heal all over again. Katherine keens, her fingers tangling in her hair, nails gently scraping against her skin. She lets herself pull at her, to need her in a way that Elena knows Katherine’s never needed anybody.

Katherine bites at her lip hard enough to bleed. She comes against her hand, veins dark beneath her eyes, fangs piercing her skin. She isn’t afraid. Elena brushes her fingers gently beneath Katherine’s eyes, enjoying the bump of the veins beneath the back of her fingertips.

Elena had never thought the person who would teach her what she needed most would be Katherine Pierce.

 

 

*

 

 

Katherine tucks the last of their bags into the trunk of the car. With a few shopping excursions under their belt, they’ve acquired a few new suitcases and shoes to take on their travels. Elena stands at the back of the car and watches Katherine check herself out in the reflection of the back window.

She wears a nice white dress with a deep neckline and a flowy skirt that brushes tantalising against her thighs. Elena’s opted for a pair of denim shorts and an oversized button-up she’s tied at the bottom. They couldn’t look any different even if they actually tried.

Elena taps her fingers against the trunk of the car and doesn’t take to Katherine trying to shoo her way. She tilts her head to the side as she watches Katherine run her fingers against her lips, trying to catch any bleeding from her lipstick.

"You look beautiful," Elena says, flushing the moment she says it. Katherine eyes her for a moment, appearing unimpressed. "Can we please get going? Someone promised me cotton sheets."

"Thousand thread count," Katherine murmurs. After she brushes her fingers against her temple, she sighs and walks to the driver’s seat, sliding in and slamming the door behind her.

Elena smiles, chuckling fondly. She takes a moment before she follows, sliding into the passenger seat. Buckling her seatbelt in, she rests her elbow against the armrest and her cheek into her palm. She watches Katherine as she pulls the visor and looks at her lips again.

After a moment of staring at her, she smiles wider at Katherine glancing at her a few times from the corner of her eye.

"What?" Katherine barks.

Elena chuckles, watching the movement of her fingers as they trace her lips again. Katherine continues to check herself out in the mirror as if she’s capable of finding a flaw in her perfect mask.

"Why are you being nice to me?"

Katherine sighs heavily, turning her head towards her but keeping her gaze down at the console. "I’m not."

Elena watches her fondly. "You are."

Katherine snaps her head up, brows furrowed tightly. "Don’t mistake loneliness for kindness, Elena."

The engine revs angrily beneath her. Elena chuckles and shakes her head, looking straight ahead at the parking lot that only houses two other cars. The sun’s rising as Atlanta slowly awakens. She wonders if the sky in New Orleans is the same blush pink.

She doesn’t think there’s any truth to Katherine’s statement—at least, not anymore. With the way Katherine’s allowed her to stay with her, to touch her, be with her, see her in ways she doubts anyone else has… she thinks that, together, they’ve found something that neither of them ever had before.

Sometimes, Katherine Pierce lies. Elena allows her to have it.

She turns to look at her again, her cheek still resting in her palm. She intentionally admires Katherine, humming contentedly.

It only takes a moment before Katherine snaps, "What?"

Elena reaches forward, brushing her hand against Katherine’s cheek. She grows still, her eyes narrowing slightly. Elena leans over the console and slopes her mouth against Katherine’s.

"Relax," Elena says against her lips, "I’m here." Biting at her bottom lip sharply, she tastes blood in her mouth. Katherine’s breathing is shallow. Brushing her nose against the tip of Katherine’s, Elena pulls away, knowing that she’s wearing Katherine’s blood against her chin. Slipping her hand onto Katherine’s bare thigh, she glides her fingers until she’s brushing them against her bare hip crease. Elena smiles wickedly.

Katherine rolls her eyes, though Elena can spy her cheeks are flushed a nice pink. "Wait until we’re at least in traffic on the highway."

Despite the request, Elena feels her shift against her hand, thighs opening just a little wider in invitation. Clearing her throat, Katherine reverses the car and takes them to the main road.

Lowering her windows, Elena enjoys the way the air whips inside, playing with Katherine’s wild hair. She watches her as they reach the first set of traffic lights, admiring the way the sunlight plays against the slope of Katherine’s nose.

Her chest no longer feels empty. Not everyone’s gone.

Sliding her hand against Katherine’s bare hip, she doesn’t pull it away as she presses her foot sharply down on the gas.

Elena also doesn’t wait for the highway.