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Sweet Cruelty

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When Katherine is in a good mood, she gives Elena a present.  Elena eyes the small grey package with a silver ribbon bow.  “Today’s not my birthday.”

“Open it.” Katherine orders and flips Elena’s skirt up in the process. “Nice panties.”  She hums happily, parting the panties aside to finger Elena’s clit.

Inside the box lies a small cylinder device.  Upon closer inspection, Elena soon discovers it to be a purple dildo.  “Erm…thanks?”

“I want you to wear it.”

Elena must have heard her wrongly.

“Wear what?”

“Wear my pretty present the entire day. I’ll help you.”  Without further ado, Katherine sticks two fingers into Elena’s clit and starts thrusting.  Elena moans.  “Katherine… Please.”

“Fuck you? It’s so unlike you.”  Katherine’s thumb brushes roughly against her sensitive nub and the younger girl’s hips rock violently.  She is close; Katherine knows by the way Elena’s thighs tremble.  So she plucks the dildo out of the box and pushes it inside her.

Elena gasps and bucks against her dresser.  She rides out her orgasm whilst Katherine ogles her behind.  “It looks good on you. Don’t try to take it out in the middle. I’ll be checking.”  The vampire settles on the already-made bed and watches Elena collects herself before turning around.

“It’s a school day. I can’t…”

“Oh you will. I could call Jeremy to come up here and you could give him a show.  You know how boys get so horny these days they have to take whatever they can get.”

 

Elena is weak and Katherine is strong.  The fact echoes in her memory and that is how Alaric finds her predicament after she is caught daydreaming and squirming in her seat.  It turns out the gift that Katherine failed to mention its extra feature, most likely on purpose as Elena shifts uncomfortably in her seat, was that it was also a vibrator meant to distract her during every class which Stefan isn’t in. For a brief moment, Elena was grateful.

 “It isn’t nice to daydream in class when the teacher is teaching. Am I boring you Elena?”

“No, of course not… Ric….”

“Mr. Saltzman, Elena.  Have you been a good girl today?”

“Yes…”

“I received an odd present this morning.”  He shows her the gift-wrapped package and Elena struggles not to grit her teeth.  In his palm lay an identical box from this morning.  Katherine.  She set this up.

He presses the small black remote and at that very moment, the dildo inside her pulses wildly and Elena lets out a choked moan.  Alaric watches Elena writhe in her seat, crossing her legs tightly.  He closes the classroom door and slowly moves towards her like a predator stalking its prey.

He kneels next to her and bunches her skirt up to reveal a pair of black lace panties.  “Oh Elena, you really are something.”

“I’ve been wondering who gave me this little remote all day.  I kept pressing this little darling every now and then but nothing happened.  But it seems to work on you.” 

Elena grips the desk tightly as she comes onto her seat.  A puddle had already formed and pooled in the center.  Alaric nudges her legs open and drags the flimsy material down to her knees.

“How many times have you come, Elena?”  She sobs and whimpers as Alaric’s breath ghosted onto her already weeping pussy.

He yanks her hair roughly.  “How. Many. Times?”

“Th…three.”  Elena splutters and shuts her eyes when he finds the dildo and slowly pulls it out and pushes it in.  Oh the agony.  The rhythm builds up steadily and she rocks involuntarily against the movement.

“Perfect little Elena Gilbert fucking herself in the classroom. Does Stefan know about your little extra-curricular activity?”

“No…” Elena shakes her head and grips the table tighter. 

“Good. You can keep a secret right, Elena? We’ll have so much fun together. I just love the way you just keep on coming like a good little whore.”  She cries and comes with another shudder.  She lies there, spent and drained on her desk and her soaked chair, with her panties at her knees and skirt bunched up messily.

Alaric stands up and whistles.  “What a fantastic way to start the weekend.  Elena, I didn’t think you had it in you. I better go. You can see yourself out right, Elena? I have a date with Jenna tonight.”

He leaves Elena a parting gift, pressing the remote button one last time as she sobs in abject humiliation.

 

That night, there is no escape for Elena because Katherine is back.  Elena sits still like a doll and allows her to strip her pajamas off.  “Are you still wearing it?”  Numbly, Elena nods and without further instruction, she turns around to show the older vampire her slicked cunt and its protruding toy.

With her ass high in the air and her arms secured onto her pillow, Elena cries softly as Katherine mercilessly fucks her with the dildo.  “I bet you had fun with Alaric.  Next time, I’ll teach you to ride his cock after we do a bit of stretching.  Then you and him can have a go right here and I’ll sit there and watch.”

Elena twitches helplessly and the dildo slips out of her sopping cunt.  “Sweet dreams, Gilbert.”  Katherine flashes out.

*

It’s Monday morning, the start of a brand new week, students shuffle into the classroom sleepily and there he is, Mr. Saltzman, writing on the board the assignments for the day.  Elena moves to her seat and stares at it, the vividness echoing in her mind.  She sits down nervously and flips open her history textbook.  He turns around, meets her eyes, and grins.

Chapter Text

There is a house guest rule now; a special one pertaining to Alaric Saltzman.  She does not have a choice in the matter because he overpowers her.  She can’t even ask Katherine, the other third party, because she started it all.  Katherine would probably be amused and let Alaric continue this twisted sick game.  Elena nervously takes out the innocent-looking purple dildo and slowly aims it down below.  She is wet enough that it goes in without any difficulty.  The doorbell rings and Elena groans, dreading the entire event that is to come.  She doesn’t want to know; she doesn’t want to be there.  Anywhere else is preferable to being here right now.

Overexcited and cheerful voices make their way into the house.  She hears her name being called from the kitchen.  She yells back, “Coming.”  Elena shudders, as she is barely prepared for the vibrations in her pussy as it the dildo buzzes quietly through her loins.  She bites back a moan as she stumbles out of her bedroom, walking on unsteady legs.

By the time Elena reaches the dining table, everything is set up – pasta on the plates, utensils neatly placed and they are all sitting down, waiting expectantly for her.  She forces a smile to Alaric who is smiling widely; almost too widely, at her.  Aunt Jenna is sitting opposite him so Elena slides into a seat next to her.  

“Hey Elena. I was just telling them some old jokes about back when I was a kid,” says Alaric who scoops a generous helping of ravioli onto his plate.

“Oh this is heavenly. I could eat this all day.” He smiles charmingly to Jenna who rolls her eyes and blushes at the compliment.

“C’mon fatty! We’ve been waiting for the joke. Don’t keep us waiting. You want more of this heavenly food, you gotta provide some entertainment man!” says Jeremy who helps himself to the salad.

“Who you calling fatty, young man?” Alaric mockingly glares back.

Jeremy chortles as he leans away from Alaric who had mocked punched him in his shoulder.

Elena smiles as she begins to relax at the easy, familiar atmosphere and begins to enjoy her lunch.  She listens to Alaric begin his next joke, temporarily forgetting about her predicament.

“Alright, so once upon a time… Ouch!” Alaric begins his joke and is kicked swiftly under the table.

“Dude, are you drunk this early?! We want a joke not some kiddy bedtime story,” says Aunt Jenna with a playful smirk.  

“I was joking. This is a joke and no, there are kids here and we are not playing painful footsie under the table.” Alaric arches a brow at Jenna who grins and returns with a quick reply: “If you can’t handle it, you should be playing at the kiddy pool.”

The first vibration caught Elena off guard and her fork misses the ravioli. Whilst she tries desperately to maintain a façade of enjoying her lunch, she keeps a wary eye on Alaric, whose right hand holds on to his fork, and his left hidden under the table, chattering both her aunt and her brother with his college jokes.  There is no doubt the remote control is resting comfortably in his jeans pocket. 

“Okay, okay,” Alaric puts his hands up in the air in mock surrender. 

“A son called his mum from college and tells her that he just got his degree.  The mother said: That’s great honey! What kind of degree? And the son, almost squealing with excitement says: The best one ever, a Celsius degree!”

Laughter fills the room and Alaric’s hand disappears back off the table.  Elena is prepared for the second round of anguish. Her nails scrape against the table legs and she keeps her legs crossed tightly.  Her panties are soaked by now, but it is better than wetting her jeans and letting everyone know her dirty secret.

After lunch, Jenna and Alaric have settle down in the living room with a big bowl of popcorn to watch the football match between their local hometown team, Timberwolves, versus another local team, the Flying Squirrels.  Jeremy had left the house to hang out with Matt’s troubled sister, Vicky, so Elena was left with dishwashing duty.  She didn’t mind because it meant Alaric was busy with Aunt Jenna and he would leave her alone. She hoped that was the case.  She really did. 

Without any warning, someone slips into the kitchen and was slowly walks up to her half bent form over the open and loaded dishwasher.  A hand slips smoothly into their pocket and Elena moans softly in response.  Her thighs quiver shakily as she tries to hold her awkward position and in her delirious haze, she barely feels another pair of hands unbuckle her jeans and push them down to her knees.  Said hands wander upwards from her hips to her abdomen, and then to the pair of soft, firm breasts which are squeezed roughly.

An almost silent whisper in her ears as she was jerked upright.  “I said commando.  You think I wouldn’t check?”  Alaric’s rough breath brushes against her ear.

Fear floods into Elena’s body as she struggled valiantly but he is too strong.  His hand reaches down and roughly yanks the offending white garment up ignoring her quiet protests.

“Not here. Please Alaric. I’m sorry.” Elena tries to plead to Alaric.

Alaric hand keeps a firm strong grip on Elena’s body while the other hand seeks blindly, pulling the drawers open.  A small laugh escapes his lips as he clenches around the object.  Elena barely registers the snipping sound until she feels the cool summer air touch her nakedness.  Shame overloads her senses and ignites a fiery burning sensation that went straight to her core.

While she was still processing her half naked state, Aunt Jenna excitedly pops into the kitchen for more beers and grabs the empty popcorn bowl and begins refilling it hurriedly, completely missing Elena’s shell-shocked expression.

“What are you still doing here? The Timberwolves are thrashing the Flying Squirrels. I cannot believe they named their team that. It is absolutely ridiculous!”

She hands the newly filled popcorn bowl back to her boyfriend who was surreptitiously tucking a white cloth into his pocket and moving away from Elena.  She grabs the beers and drags Alaric in tow and Elena clings onto the counter island for dear life utterly horrified and grateful for the sudden interruption. 

Embarrassed, Elena slowly bends down to pull her jeans back up when the vibrator suddenly pulses back to life and she lands back sprawled on the floor moaning helplessly as an orgasm rips from her body that she is no longer able to control, soiling her jeans that are bundled around her ankles.

 

 

Chapter Text

Katherine sneaks into Elena’s bedroom and curls up patiently on the bed, waiting for her to finish her shower. It was their almost nightly ritual; it had progressed from fortnightly to at least three times a week. Katherine had stopped by more often, always claiming she couldn’t sleep in peace with Damon wanting to have sex with her every night. Elena opens her bathroom door, unsurprised to see the older vampire curled up on her bed, in nothing but lacy lingerie.

She hangs the towel up and changes into her usual tank and shorts, before walking toward her bed. She curls up beside Katherine, one hand slipping under her pillow and the other caressing Katherine’s smooth cheek. She smiles warmly when Katherine opens her eyes slowly and moves in, closing the distance to breathe her fresh scent and kissing her gently. She feels Katherine swipe her tongue across her lips as she deepens the kiss. Her hands roam all over Elena’s tank before running her hands under, traveling from her taut abdomen to her breasts and kneading them expertly.

Her tank top gets pulled up, exposing the two round symmetric globes to the older vampire, who breaks away from the kiss and moves gracefully down to the younger girl’s erect nipples. She looks up to find Elena staring at her with cloudy eyes filled with a twinge of lust and receives an imperceptible nod. Her expertly skilled tongue licks around the erect, perky nipple in a circular motion purposefully neglectingthe other. A hand reaches down and grabs a handful of thick locks and in attempt to pull her head down.

She ignores the silent demand and reaches back to make out with a desperate Elena, pushing into her mouth with a more passionate and intense kiss then the last. Elena was strangely more aggressive than usual and was attacking her mouth, letting her hands roam all over Katherine’s upper torso. She let her fingers wander leisurely down to the front of Elena’s shorts. Teasingly, she applies pressure on the area between her legs intermittently, stopping every time the younger girl lifts into the air for more friction.

Very abruptly, she stops the rubbing and kissing. Elena opens her eyes questioningly at Katherine who staresback with dark eyes. Confused, Elena leans upwards into the sudden distant space to reach for Katherine, who leans away.

Katherine brings her lips to Elena’s ear, “Beg.”

She lifts her body up, moving away and sits akimbo atop the younger girl looking down at her with a slight glint in her eye.

“W-what?”

Her tone hardens a little. “You heard me. Beg for more or I’ll leave.”

Elena doesn’t reply but strains her hips instead to grind against Katherine’s still fingers resting lightly on her shorts. There was a whoosh and her bedroom curtains fly as the seductive vampire left, leaving a flustered, horny child alone masturbating furiously on top of her bed covers. She comes with a frustrated muffled groan, feeling unsatisfied even though she got herself off. Once it used to give her pleasure, but now just serves to magnify the feeling that something, or rather, someone was missing. She gets under her covers, closes her eyes, and tries to think of other things.

Peaceful thoughts. She still has school tomorrow.

~

The next day during school, Elena trudges wearily from the car park to the school grounds. Tired and annoyed, she makes her way to her locker and begins pulling books out for her classes. She feels a tap on her shoulder and spins wildly around to find one of her classmates smiling sheepishly at her. Chloe from History, she recalls as the girl in question begins probing her about their current history project assignment and its details. Elena nods robotically and thinks nothing of it whenever Chloe’s hand lingers a little longer than necessary whilst the girl gesticulates excitedly.

She had History during her third period and Alaric was preoccupied with the students’ individual project topics and he seemed busy sorting out those who had picked out the same topics.

It was time for lunch and she picks up to queue up for some food in a crowded cafeteria. While waiting, she thinks she feels a hand making a grab for her ass. Just as quickly, the feeling passes and by the time Elena whips her head to the side, there is nobody there. She shakes her head tiredly and continues forward with her lunch tray.

A couple of hours later, a brush on her thigh has Elena looking up to spot a lower grade student shoving his books into his well-worn backpack fraying at its seams. He had accidentally brushed his hand against hers. Exchanging an apologetic smile, he leaves the room hurriedly.

Her day was halfway over, she ponders on what she would do for the rest of the day. Go home, work on her homework, and then help Aunt Jenna with dinner in the evening. Routine and predictable, Elena dwells on her lack of exciting activities; there was no vampire-related drama lately. Things seemed to have calmed down and settle back into a monotonously lifestyle.

What started out with a little pressure on her back, which pushed her and the rest of the other students sandwiched and shepherded through the hallway, hustling to get to their correct classes on time, turned into something more assaulting. A hand crept under the back of her shirt and inched upwards towards her bra. She yanks the back of her shirt down, her face bright tomato red, to control the situation as she attempts to shift around to yell. She panics the moment she feels her bra clasp fall apart and rushes for the nearest bathroom.

She steps quickly into an empty stall and reaches behind to re-fasten the clasp with trembling fingers. Her feelings and thoughts begin to muddle together in hysteria until they settle down and come together.

Who would dare accost her in public? The first person she thought of was Alaric but it couldn’t be him. He wouldn’t jeopardize his job. Just as the thought finishes forming in his head, she re-contemplates, But then again, it could be him. She wasn’t able to see who was behind her. It wasn’t Stefan, the kind sweet brother completely opposite of his brother in terms of looks and personality. He wouldn’t. He’s a gentleman.

She shakily straightens her clothes and peeks out from the bathroom. The hallway had thinned out and there weren’t many students left. Not taking any chances, she runs to her next class – Chemistry.

Two floors up and a turn in the corner, Elena quickly snags a back seat instead of her usual middle-row seat. Matt turns around in his seat and gives her a confused look which she reciprocates with a weak smile. How could she tell him about her weird day without turning it into an awkward bemused conversation? Maybe it’s all in her mind and today she’s feeling a bit paranoid. Someone else claims the seat next to her just as the bell rings. Melissa, she dimly recalls from this morning when Chloe was speaking to her, said girl was standing behind her, listening to them; she shares a shy smile with Elena before pulling out her heavy Chemistry textbook, a notebook and a pen.

As the class starts and the teacher drones off about equations and formulas off the blackboard, she notices that the space between them had gradually disappeared. She ignores it at first because she thinks it had to do with her the fact that things had been weird the whole day and her imagination was just getting the better of her. She pushes the feeling aside until she notices that their Melissa was close enough that her thighs were touching hers intermittently. She could have pulled away. Retrospectively, she should have. But she didn’t. They were just girls; nothing to worry about.

During the middle of class, when Mr. Barton starts droning on about the importance of safety procedures for handling potentially dangerous chemicals if they were wrongly mixed, Elena feels a small feminine hand trailing up her bare thigh, her skirt riding higher as the invading fingers ghost past her panties.

Embarrassed, Elena turns bright red and feels hot white heat creep to her back of her neck. Her hand captures Melissa’s hand and slaps her away. “S-sto-op,” she hisses.

“Relax. I’ll make you feel real nice.” Elena ignores the promised soothing whisper in her ear and in her head in favor of working on the actual experiment resting on the table untouched. The hand has re-settled back on her right knee and its slender smooth fingers explore every crook of her knee before inching higher bit by bit.

Elena bites her lip as she tries to concentrate on the assignment. She feels the skin tear and tastes blood on her tongue as the hand creeps steadily past her skirt and nestles comfortably into its final destination. It cups her pussy momentarily and one of the digits presses on her sensitive nub, moving in a circular motion. A finger slips into her throbbing center and starts to probe into her sensitive insides, moving around, looking for the sensitive spot. Her legs involuntarily spread open wantonly as her mind starts to lose focus. Just as another finger enters her, the feeling that she might have poured too much liquid into the beaker because the fumes seem to be getting thicker as her eyes struggle to see through the hazy fumes.

Defenselessly, her will starts to weaken and her hip grinds against the fingers thrusting in and out of her in class as she tries to pretend she is taking notes with a clenched fist with her head down, eyes shut tightly. A sharp bite on her swollen lips suppresses a moan from escaping. Her hip bucks forcibly onto the stool and her knees bump into the desk.

Almost…there. Please…don’t stop.

Riinnggg!!! The familiar bell sounds, signaling the end of her period and the hand slips out of her drenched panties, and Elena chokes back a sob, her eyes watering in misery and her pussy throbbing painfully. She nearly came during class. How humiliating!

~

That night, she waits impatiently for Katherine to arrive but she doesn’t turn up. Elena dials her number but she is left hanging; her needy text messages get ignored as well.

Irked at Katherine’s inconsistency, she takes it out on her pillow. Quickly, she sheds her pajama pants and ruts against the folded pillow’s rough edges. Desperate muffled moans stifle against her palm as she rocks violently, trying to re-create the sensation of Katherine going down on her. She comes with a loud moan, spent and exhausted yet the horny feeling doesn’t fade away. Instead, it lingers and pools uncomfortably in her gut. She gets under her covers, turns away from the window and tries to sleep. She has cheerleader practice tomorrow. Sleep is what she needs the most; she reasons internally and wills herself to an uneasy sleep.

3:47A.M.

She wakes up and blinks sleepily at the digital clock on her beside tables and whines pitifully. She’s tired but her brain just won’t cooperate with her body. Tears pool in her eyes as she shreds her remaining pride and reaches into her bedside drawer to grasp for the vibrator. She has stopped questioning her actions because she really needs to sleep right now or else she would have to endure Caroline in full team captain mode berating her throughout practice.

Elena presses the tip against her hooded clit and turns the toy on, letting the vibrator do its magic. The toy plays with the outer folds of her vulva and then traveling inwards towards her more sensitive parts. The sensation causes her to shiver and she shudders harder as her insides tighten against the vibrator. It buzzes and shakes against the inside of her as she pulls it in and out happily while her constricted hip bucks wildly against the heavy bed comforter, seeking for more freedom.

Short shallow gasps and half shrieks of pleasure fill the closed bedroom with the exception of an open window. Tiny droplets of her juice drip down to her ass, bypassing the perineum. The harder the vibrator presses against her hungry pussy, the wetter she becomes; a steady stream trickles steadily down, wetting her sheets. Elena passes out like a light as she curls up with the vibrator still inside her. Her half-naked body spasms as her unconscious body ride out the orgasm.

~

Next morning, Elena rushes downstairs dressed and so not ready for school. She dumps her bed sheets into the washing machine and quickly moves away before she crashes headlong into Aunt Jenna holding a brimming hot cup of coffee. She takes a sip as she looks on at her niece latching onto the coffee machine with an arched brow.

“I just washed the bed sheets last week,” she pointed out dryly.

Elena stills for a second and continues capping the flask full of coffee. “I… uhm… I had an accident.” She turns hastily and walks out of the kitchen, not looking at Aunt Jenna.

“You could just say it was a wet dream. Everyone has those,” Aunt Jenna shouts after her.

~

Elena went through the rest of her classes in a zombie state and didn’t run into any more strange incidental touches. During Calculus, Matt made sure to pick a spot next to her, causing his best friend Tyler to stare at him oddly from the back. He waves to her to get her attention before asking, “So what was going on yesterday, Elena? You usually hate seating in the back row in Chem.”

Elena sighs softly. “It’s nothing, Matt. Just a really strange day.”

He doesn’t believe her but decides not to push her. “You know what’s weird? Tyler and Jeremy are friends suddenly… or rather they’re not insulting each other anymore. I didn’t even have to do anything.”

She gives a small smile at Jeremy’s sudden good behavior. The compulsion placed on him by Damon is working perfectly. “Isn’t that good? That means they’re maturing.”

He quickly quips, “Or… they’re plotting to prank me when I’m off guard. I feel like one of them is going to shove a cake or something icky in my face.”

Tyler must have heard them because he shouts from the back. “Keep it up Donovan, and you’ll be walking home.”

The bell rings again and the teacher arrives on cue. He pays no attention to the endless chatter and begins to write the homework assignments on the board. Elena glances on her right and notices her other best friend’s seat is empty. She feels a sharp pang in her stomach and her happy mood dissipates. “Have you heard from Bonnie lately?”

Matt puts on his usually sweet yet concerned smile “Give her time, Elena. She’s coping at her dad’s place.”

She nods absentmindedly. “Yeah I know. It just sucks to have someone you love to be suddenly torn away from you without saying good-bye.”

~

She robotically heads into the girls locker room after school to change into her cheerleading outfit. After fixing her hair, she walks out with the rest of the girls to the field. Caroline was in team captain mode, hands on her hips as she starts shouting out instructions.

“Let’s start with a double pike herkie hurdler. What do you say?”

1…2…4…5…6…7…8…

She messes up once and Caroline loudly chastises her, which has her flushing bright red at the simple mistake. Caroline struts up and down as she counts and yells, “We’ve got a game in four days, ladies. This is not the time to be making mistakes.”

1…2…4…5…6…7…8…

After two hours of grueling practice, she got dragged aside by Caroline where she had to endure a long lecture which lasted a lot longer than necessary.

A sudden change in the subject so has Elena’s head spinning and clueless. She winces at Caroline’s angry never-ending rant and suspects her vampire doppelganger was somehow involved, considering she remembers clearly being in the woods with Bonnie and Stefan.

So whatever altercation happened at the Grill with Damon Salvatore was not her fault, but she can’t defend herself because it would cause another big mess that Elena didn’t want to explain. So she takes the heat and lets her best friend vent it out.

~

Finally Elena finds herself alone in the shower room and sighs in relief. She turns on the shower knob and strong jets of water hit her face and body. As she starts shampooing her hair, her eyes shut lazily from exhaustion. She thinks back to the time when Katherine first entered her shower to “thank” her. Elena had been frightened and embarrassed at the interruption but the vampire knew the way around her body because she remembered the pleasing, electrifying sensation of her fingers touching her and playing her body like a fiddle. She knew how much pressure to pinch her nipples and it felt so right. Her tongue trailed sensually downwards until it reached the younger girl’s throbbing pussy. Her pair of dark eyes never left Elena as she gently and firmly pushed her thighs apart and Elena just let her. Her wicked tongue flicked the tip of her clit and Elena shudders in anticipation.

The sensations that she was imagining felt so real that that she kept her eyes close. She thought the steam was just getting to her head as she enjoys the sensation of the imaginary hands roaming about her body.

“Katherine,” she whispers.

“Who’s Katherine?”

To her horror, it isn’t Katherine who replies her from below. Elena snaps her eyes open and finds Chloe, just inches away, wearing an amused smile. She tries to move her arms up to cover herself but they are restrained high above her head, pulled up and tied to the shower head with rope. She yanks hard frantically but the binds don’t budge.

Elena blinks like a frightened doe and hangs her head in a confused and humiliated state of defeat. She doesn’t understand why her classmates are doing this to her. She doesn’t deserve this. Melissa’s head pops out from between her legs and grins cheekily at her.

“Hello Elena.”

She tries to shut her legs together but her captor brings her open palm up and slaps her there. It isn’t meant to be painful but it earns a reaction from Elena who gasps softly. The intention hangs in the sexually charged space. Keep them spread or else… Katherine had slapped her there once, but in a playful teasing manner.

Captor #1 resumes pinching and fondling her soft, breasts whilst captor #2 places light kisses along her inner thighs and then runs her warm tongue along the exterior of her vulva. The pleasing sensations flow over her slick breasts, heaving chest, shivering underarms, and her very swollen nipples.

As soon as she prays for a particularly vulnerable spot to be left untouched, captor #2 zeroes in on it. She had never felt so completely naked, so stripped of any defense, totally vulnerable to the soft, gentle manipulations of her throbbing libido. She could feel her strength slipping and as she pants quietly. Her hips start to move on their own accord, betraying her. She manages to suppress a pathetic whimper from escaping when Chloe stops massaging her breasts and bites her lip harder as the hands trail downwards to expose her pussy fully to Melissa.

The fingers mercilessly expose her clit and hole as her folds are pinched and pulled apart for Melissa’s wicked tongue flicks and wiggles its way into her exposed cunt. A second pair of hands joins in the fun and Elena flushes bright red and struggles as they pull apart her butt cheeks to tease the pucker.

“W-w-why… are… you… d-doing… t-t-this?” She half struggles and pants as firm hands hold her hips still whilst both of their tongues pistol in and out. Close to cumming, she clings desperately to the rope bindings and her thighs begin to tremble as she tries to resist.

“Because you told us to. Shhh… just relax Elena and enjoy.”

“She likes it. She’s dripping wet.”

Their voices echo loudly in the empty room and fuse together with her thoughts like a mantra of prayer.You want this. You crave it. I can smell you, Elena. You taste so good. We’re giving you what you need. Because you told us to. Don’t you like this, Elena? You’re dripping wet. She likes it. I know you want more.

“Please…” Elena releases a ragged guttural cry that sounded more of a strangled sob. She didn’t know what she wanted anymore. Stop? Carry on? Let me go? I want more… I want more… I need… More.

They take turns, continuously and unrelentingly feasting on her dripping cunt, relishing in her helpless torture. It didn’t take long until for the tears start to flowwhich only served to encourage them to lick, suck, fondle and tease even more. She moans, she screams, she begs to no avail.

One hour? Two hours?

How long had they tortured her like this?

Time did not seem to exist anymore; all that existed in her world is that burning need for more that came from her very core. Her body starts to shake violently as she reaches her limit. Just as quickly as it started, it stops, everything disappears and she drops onto the cold, wet tiles of the shower room like a lifeless doll. Intruding fingers and tongues withdraw from Elena’s curled fetal position. A small helpless whimper emits from the floor as she mourns for the loss of the wonderful yet torturous pleasure. She was so, so close to cumming.

She doesn’t remember how long she stayed or how she fell on the wet tiles when she was supposedly tied up. Where did they go? The rope bindings seemed to have miraculously disappeared into thin air. Was it a dream? But it felt so real. How could a wet dream achieve results of her swollen erect nipples and her painful throbbing pussy, with sticky fluids flowing down her thighs?

~

Five hours later, Katherine slips into Elena’s bed and curls into the younger girl’s side as usual. She is pinned down instead and to her surprise, it is Elena who straddles her with an aggressive growl. The pair of hazel eyes glare at her angrily, which only serve to add to the vampire’s amusement, but her voice gives way to a hint of desperation as she begs, “No more games please. I… Katherine, just fuck me!”

Chapter Text

Five hours later, Katherine slips into Elena's bed and curls into the younger girl's side as usual. Before she can settle down comfortably, a sudden burst of movement has her pinned down instead, and to her surprise, it is Elena who straddles her with an aggressive growl. The pair of hazel eyes glare at her angrily, which only serve to add to the older vampire's amusement, but her voice gives way to a hint of desperation as she begs, "No more games please. I… Katherine, just fuck me!"

 

Her hand reaches to the back of Elena’s neck and pushes her down, deepening the already desperate kiss. She re-positions Elena on the bed without separating their lips from their passionate make-out. She breaks the kiss and looks down, lustily watching Elena whom is inches from her, staring at her upside-down. She takes off her top and bra hastily while shimmying out of her jeans, leaving her in just her panties. Slowly, she crawls seductively towards Elena who licks her lips in anticipation.

 

Elena’s hands reach out to touch the seductress, only for them to be slapped away. Katherine murmurs a warning that leaves Elena to moan her frustration as she cups her breast with one hand while the other nestles between her legs, tugging at her already soaked panties.

 

The vampire vixen positions herself such that she is opposite of Elena, and starts her tease, leaving a trail of soft kisses on Elena, starting with lips and travel downward to her neck, which she nips with her blunt teeth. She continues alternating soft kisses and bites until she reaches Elena’s nipple. Her teeth gently graze the erect nipple, drawing a needy moan from the doppelganger. Her tongue licks enticingly in a circle of torment. She continues this for a while before paying the other attention. She gasps suddenly onto the nipple as she feels her own nipple being bitten and suckled.

 

She glances down and meets Elena’s eyes twinkling in mischievousness. A silent challenge Katherine was more than willing to deliver. She narrows her eyes when Elena bites her other nipple a little harder in an effort to continue her journey.

 

Sensing the glare Katherine is sending, she releases the captured nipple and licks the tip, soothing any pain away. Katherine’s lips trail sensually down her chest to Elena’s toned abdomen and dips her tongue into Elena’s belly button. She arches her back when she feels the same sensation of Elena imitating her. She gasps at the heated kisses Elena leaves while she moves towards her final destination. She crawls until she is staring directly at Elena’s dripping panties. She knows Elena is staring at hers too and the thought sends her nerves tingling as her body yearns to be touched.

 

Katherine crooks her head, pulls the younger girl’s panties off, and licks teasingly at the outer folds, drawing an audible moan from Elena who whimpers. Her legs spread wider and her hips rise up to their own accord, causing a light chuckle from the vampire. She considers prolonging her sweet torture just a little while longer when she hears Elena’s needy voice begging and pleading. “Please,” Elena whispers, half-panting.

 

“Eat me out,” Katherine demands of the younger girl who responds fervently by tugging her lacy panties aside. Her mouth attacks the vampire’s pussy eagerly as she licks and sucks desperately, sending Katherine moaning at her ministrations. The more Elena sucks at the sensitive bud, the wetter Katherine becomes. “Elena...” she moans and her hips buck as she feels a tongue thrust into her center.

 

Katherine purrs into the younger girl’s center, sending sweet vibrations to her nerves. She pumps two slender digits into Elena, sending her hips bucking wildly off the bed. The sensation was too much to bear after being teased all day.

 

Elena shivers in pleasure and shrieks in delight. Switching position, Katherine presses her lips onto Elena’s, drowning those pleasured screams from escaping. Her fingers close around the vibrator on the bed next to them and flicks the switch. They then move to press the toy between Elena’s already shaking thighs, straight into her pussy with one smooth thrust. Katherine smirks and murmurs into the crevice of the human’s neck, nipping it with blunt teeth.

 

“Ready for round two, Elena?”

 

A lick soothes the pain away whilst her younger counterpart’s mouth form a wide “oh” and bucks wildly into the air, her back arching as the hard toy inside her spasms violently. Her orgasm erupts from her sweating body quicker than the first.

 

She was already worked up.

 

Panting loudly, her head turns to the side facing her smirking double. She smashes her swollen lips onto Katherine’s, silencing her screams with a searing kiss.

 

An arm wraps around her torso firmly while waiting for the human’s intense orgasm to subside.

 

Elena opens her hazel eyes to meet the vampire’s and shuffles closer, erasing any space between them. She shifts her head from the pillow to Katherine’s chest and wraps her right arm around her waist. Her eyes begin to droop heavily but she blinks rapidly to get rid of any traces of sleepiness.

 

Her ears pick up on Katherine’s husky voice “-leaving tonight to take care of some unfinished business.”

 

Elena blurts out unexpectedly. “I’ll miss you.” Her face feels hot at her sudden, impulsive declaration and she’s grateful she isn’t facing the seductress.

 

Katherine gathers a handful of the younger girl’s hair and runs her fingers through it. A bit of affection seeps through. “You’ll have your hands too full to miss me. I’ll be back before you know it.” She continues to play with Elena’s hair and at the same time massages her scalp, well aware that the action would lull the younger girl to sleep quicker. It worked; the vampire could feel the human’s heartbeat slow down.

 

What does she mean by that?

 

Elena murmurs sleepily to Katherine, “Are you really going to share...me with Alaric?”

 

Katherine stills her scalp massage. “Do you want to be shared?”

 

“What if I said no?”

 

Katherine raises a brow. Why ask?

 

“Then I won’t,” she replies.

 

At her response, Elena lifts her head off Katherine’s chest and gazes into her eyes, as if trying to search for any signs of deception. Finding none, Elena tentatively asks, “So... You’re not working with Alaric then?”

 

Katherine blinks. “Why would I want to work with that amateur?”

 

Elena breathes a sigh of relief that the vampire isn’t in cahoots with Alaric. She wants to question her further but her head feels heavy. She settles her head back onto Katherine’s chest and grips her waist tightly. The massage on her scalp resumes a few minutes later. Elena sighs contently and drifts off.

 


 

The morning after, Elena stretches and rolls sleepily around her empty bed after switching off her alarm clock. Groaning at all the aches and sores gained from last night’s sexual activity, she grabs a bathrobe draped on her desk chair and puts it on before padding softly into the shared bathroom. She blinks groggily into the mirror and turns her head and is unsurprised to find pinkish hickeys all over one side of her neck. She takes a quick shower before she quickly towels off and reaches for the concealer and begins dabbling the cream onto her neck in attempt to cover all the hickeys.

 

A knock from the other side of the door startles her and she jumps, before realizing that it’s just Jeremy.

 

He hollers, “Are you done? I need to shower, Elena.”

 

She yells back. “Almost!”

 

She hears his groans from behind the door and inspects her neck again. The hickeys are still noticeable even though some of them are covered and barely noticeable. Not wanting to risk anyone seeing, she opens Jeremy’s side door so as to let him know he can have it and walks out to her bedroom, shutting her bathroom door. She decides wearing a scarf would be wiser and chooses a floral scarf with her white blouse and denim jeans.

 

The Gilbert siblings arrive at school earlier than usual. Immediately after closing the passenger door, Jeremy waves and shouts to gain the attention of one of his friends and leaves without turning back.

 

Elena locks the car and begins to trudge through the parking lot. Halfway through the half-empty lot, she hears Caroline arguing hotly with someone else in a car. Curiously, she makes her way toward the commotion which had, unsurprisingly, gathered a group of students looking on. She pushes herself through the small crowd and finds Damon in his Ford Convertible and Caroline standing rigidly with her arms crossed.

 

As she gets closer, she catches Damon persuasively coaxing Caroline to drop by his place. “Remember all those fun times we used to have?”

 

Caroline remains staunched in her decision. “No,” she says loudly and firmly.

 

“Come on, Forbes. Just for a day,” he grins suggestively, his gaze darkening at hers.

 

Elena notices the telltale signs of compulsion as her best friend falters in her passive aggressive stance and become uncertain, her arms falling limply to her sides.

 

Quickly, Elena strides towards her best friend and stands in between them, breaking the hold he has on her.

 

“Leave her alone, Damon,” she says firmly.

 

He narrows her eyes and in return she sends him an arched brow. He shrugs and takes off without another word.

 

She turns back to Caroline who whispers, “I can’t believe he did it again.”

 

Elena wraps her arms around her best friend, offering comfort. The crowd surrounding them had begun to dissipate. Her fingers brush her other wrist and they run across the vervain bracelet Stefan got for her. Without any hesitation, she removes the bracelet and fastens it onto Caroline’s wrist. Her friend looks down at the proffered gift and Elena explains quietly, “It has vervain in it. This way, you can’t be compelled by Damon or any other vampires. It’s like their kryptonite.”

 

Caroline furrows her brows together as if Elena just asked her a complicated math question. “But what about you?”

 

Elena just smiles “There’s more where that came from.”

 

Worse comes to worse, she could always get Damon to provide her with more vervain.

 

She gives Caroline a side-long hug. “Come on, Care. Classes are starting soon!”

 

“Only you, Elena, would love school so much!” Caroline smiles brightly and as they make their way towards the school building, absently fingering Elena’s scarf.

 


 

It was like any other day; classes resume normally. Elena sits sat in her usual seat surrounded by her friends, chatting and eating happily.

 

She strolls into the history classroom and gets a surprise at the new-comer resting on the teacher’s chair balanced precariously, its hind legs creaking to support the young graduate who has his boots resting on the desk, the back of the chair touching the wall behind him. His eyes are glued to the phone in front of him.

 

She takes her seat and glances curiously at the substitute who looks bored, twirling his pen. The bell rings and he motions with his free hand for the nearest student to shut the door.

 

His pen doesn’t stop twirling as he looks up from his smart phone and addresses the class. “Mr Saltzman has taken a leave of absence.” He ignores Tyler’s shout of joyful exclamation and continues. “He left a bunch of worksheets for you to do... So if you have nothing better to do during this period of time, feel free to take a copy of the assignment. Otherwise, it’s a free period. You may do whatever you like so long as you keep the noise down to a minimal. Is that clear, Lockwood?”

 

Tyler nods happily and replies, “Crystal clear, Mr Barton.” He whistles to catch his best friend’s attention who turns around and jerks his head in question. Tyler takes out the football from his bag and passes it to Matt who catches the ball and with a quick glance at Mr Barton, he turns in his seat for a better position and tosses it back over a girl’s head.

 

He hears his girlfriend, Caroline, hissing at him with disapproval. “Seriously...”

 

He shrugs at her and continues passing the ball back and forth with Tyler. She shakes her head and turns towards Elena who is staring absently at the two empty seats around her. Bonnie had been absent for a while, dealing with Gram’s sudden passing. She was surprised the younger Salvatore was absent; he had had a perfect attendance since he’d started attending.

 

Irked that her boyfriend was ignoring her for Tyler and that Elena was lost in her thoughts, she couldn’t help being snappish. “Missing your perfect boyfriend, Elena?”

 

Elena turns her head and shakes her head as she replies, “I’m not seeing Stefan anymore.”

 

Caroline knows this to be true, given what she had seen this morning and the other times but she can’t help to stop her bluntness as she continues, “But you’re dating Damon now.”

 

Jealousy rears her head as she studies her best friend. Why does she always get the hot guys? It’s not fair. I have to work for it while she does nothing and gets everything.

 

Caroline watches Elena give a little shrug and goes back to checking her phone again, a tiny frown tugging the corner of her lips. She seethes silently in jealousy and ignites a conversation with her other friends.

 

Elena sighs and begins to start working on her homework for her other subjects. She cannot deny she’s not dating Damon when her vampire double seems contented to hang around the older Salvatore. Her friends don’t know about Katherine and she prefers to keep it that way. Therefore, pretending to date Damon to maintain the fake relationship is far easier than explaining to them about having a vampire twin.

 


 

The bell rings signaling the end of school period and Elena starts to pack her books into her book bag. As she makes her way out towards the history class exit, she is brushed rudely aside, causing her right shoulder to smack against the door frame loudly. She catches a blur of blonde curls shoving past her and recognizes the quick strides to be Caroline. She frowns and moves slowly to follow her and the rest of the students towards the school’s massive exit doors, her left hand crossing over to her right to rub the sore shoulder.

 

An incoming text from Jeremy notifies her that he would be hanging out with his friends at the Grill. She combs her bag for her car keys to unlock the car, before starting up the ignition, and begins her journey home. She reaches home within fifteen minutes with every traffic light in her favor. Upon opening the front door, she hears Aunt Jenna calling for her from the dining room. She deposits the keys onto the tray and quickens her pace towards the source of Jenna’s voice.

 

There, she encounters Aunt Jenna sitting in one of the dining chairs with the laptop in front of her and a box full of files sitting next to her. Seeing Elena, she plasters on a nervous smile. “Hey, how’s school?”

 

Elena tucks a stray hair behind her ear and replies, “Good. What’s this about?” She gestures to the mess of files scattered over the table where Jenna gulps nervously, “I did some digging on your birth mother.”

 

Elena stares at her, her heart beating quickly at the mere mention. “Did you find anything?”

 

Jenna picks up a black notebook and hands it to her as she explains, “Your dad kept everything from his medical records, logs, and even old appointment books. I found an entry on the night you were born.” Jenna helps flip to the specific page and Elena bends down to scrutinize her father’s notes stating the patient’s name and the birth date - Isobel Peterson.

 

Elena wonders aloud, reveling in the discovery of her supposed-to-be mother’s name. “Do you think that’s her real name?”

 

Jenna counters quickly, “Being a teenage runaway? Probably not. First name maybe but her last name could have been taken from a classmate, best friend...” Jenna’s fingers dance across the laptop’s keyboard quickly as she typed out Peterson and included the location and the birth date. The results popped up quickly, displaying only 3 persons - two men and a woman.

 

“Trudie Peterson. She lives in Grove Hill, Virginia,” Jenna said, glancing at her niece who is hovering over her. Elena squints at the location and murmurs, “That’s not far from here.” Jenna nods and quickly types “high school” in the search bar and finds a cached page of what seemed to be a scanned copy of Grove Hill High School Memorabilia showcasing the class of 1993 alumni. Elena catches sight of Isobel’s name and stares at the picture of two girls posing for the camera. She smiles wistfully, “Isobel. She was a cheerleader too.”

 

Jenna had already written Trudie’s address onto a sticky note before Elena came home, having used the time to do some digging while the kids went to school. “Trudie still lives there. This is her address,” she says and hands the small sticky note to Elena who takes it and then sits on the chair adjacent to her.

 

“But what about Isobel?”

 

Jenna shakes her head and Elena tries to hide her disappointment. “I couldn’t find anything about her. It’s like she vanished after high school but there’s something else I need you to know. Mr Saltzman - Ric - his wife was from around here and her name was also Isobel.”

 

Elena freezes with dread seeping in upon hearing Alaric and Isobel together in a sentence.

 

It’s just a coincidence; Isobel’s a common name, she rationalizes desperately to herself.

 

Her ears catches on to the past tense and she finds herself parroting Jenna’s words. “Was... As in...”

 

She observes Jenna’s eyes twinkling in pity and her tone drops an octave lower as she replies softly, “She died, Elena.”

 


 

Outside of the town border were two vehicles parked one behind the other by the roadside. A man gets out of his white Chevrolet Tahoe, opens the back door of a black Gen3 Ford Expedition and climbs inside. He converses with another man with a shaggy medium hairdo and scruffy features.

 

The visitor’s eyes glaze towards the window and he goes into a sleep-induced hypnosis trance after the conversation. What felt like hours turns out to be roughly twenty-four minutes, the man jerks up from the seat and clumsily steps out of the SUV and back into his Tahoe. He reverses the car, making a U-turn, and drives back into town.

 

The female driver glares into the rear view mirror at the passenger sitting directly behind her. Her hair was cropped short like a pixie, the end tips of her brunette hair sticking wildly as she fixes a displeased expression to her companion, not paying her any attention.

 

She speaks frankly, disgust laced in her stern tone. “We are only here to locate the doppelganger and let Lord Elijah handle the rest.”

 

Her scowl deepens as he rudely waves her away as though she is beneath him and dismisses her like some unintelligent brawn.

 

He replies smoothly, having heard this conversation too many times since discovering the doppelganger, “Until he arrives, I will get what I want. The doppelganger to myself.”

 

“He has forbidden you to step inside Mystic Falls. He expressly stated-”

 

“Who said I’ll be traveling into town?” He counters quickly and smirks to her great displeasure.

 

“Your obsession with Katerina needs to stop. This is getting out of hand. The doppelganger is not the same as we know Katerina to be,” she implores urgently.

 

Over the decades of years from being hunted and pursued for their previous mistakes, she had watched him become delusional and this absurd venture she now finds herself embroiled in, was starting to take a turn for the worse.

 

That naive human; whom they had met in a bar months ago, had sought their help to solve the mystery of his wife’s disappearing act. He didn’t know what he was signing up for when they offered their services to solve the unexpected. In return, the human was to help locate a girl for them. It was heavily emphasized that the girl was special and was not to be harmed.

 

However, her partner had other grandiose delusions of the doppelganger and had commanded the school teacher to act upon his lusty desires. Like a good man she knew him to be, he had resisted till the end; his back slamming into the wall he found himself backed into a corner he couldn’t slink out from. He compelled the human to do his bidding and subsequently, the teacher had shown up thrice in the dusty, abandoned mansion they had recently acquired in the next town, not too far from Mystic Falls.

 

Like clockwork, every time the human came to the mansion, he would access the human’s memories revolving around the doppelganger and watch the defiling act of violating both the girl and teacher. The teacher would fall into an induced stupor as the mind assault begins and he would have no recollection of time and memory spent during the visit.

 

She is jerked out of her reverie when his dark lusty gaze meets hers and his facial features twisting into a cruel expression as he responds. “Oh don’t worry, Rose. I’m not going to hurt her unless she wants me to.”

Chapter Text

The clock on the wall of the classroom says 3:20; Moments later, the loud shrill of the school bell resonates throughout the entire building. Elena Gilbert is the first of many eager students to exit the large school doors. She brisk walks to the packed parking lot and gets into her SUV - Jenna’s vehicle. Due to her previous transgression on the road, her car is still stuck in the repair shop for crashing into a vampire stalker. That was about six months back and Jenna had grounded her. However, being the only other driver in the Gilbert household still has its perks, and Jenna had been her thesis paper. Therefore, the only functioning vehicle is currently shared and rotated between Jenna and herself.

 

Elena slides the key smoothly into the ignition and the car engine roars quietly to life. She turns the temperature dial up until warm air rises and envelops her body. Her fingers tap impatiently at the loading screen of the GPS navigator installed, just above the radio. “Come on,” she mutters under her breath.

 

The moment the interface screen pops up with a variety of commands, she taps on the most recent address that had been keyed into the system just this morning. It takes only a few minutes for the navigator to pinpoint her current location and a route pops up immediately. She switches the car shift knob into drive and peels out of the parking lot, its car tires squealing loudly against the rough friction of the road. Her attention refocuses back to the road and lights in front of her, thereby missing the confused expressions on her friends’ faces.

 

Twenty minutes later on the highway, she takes the exit to Grove Hill and slows down, searching for the house number as she drives through long stretches of lanes. Her SUV comes to a rolling stop when the calm automated navigator pipes up, “You have reached your designation.”

 

Elena squints at the house with a green tiled roof and parks her vehicle along the side of the road. A wave of uncertainty washes over her and she restrains her trembling fingers that are itching to grab the steering wheel to pull a U-turn and head back home. Her right foot taps gently on the accelerator despite the fact that her handle bar is up.

 

She slides the small mirror attached to the visor above her and re-checks her make-up. Her eyes flicker to the house and back to the mirror where her reflection grins nervously back. She squares her shoulders and nods to herself but makes no move to get out.

 

You can do this, Elena. Just get out of the car and knock... and then… and then her brain short-circuits.

 

Two long pauses follow before a car door swings out from the driver’s side. A set of feet clad in blue worn sneakers lands on the pavement before the car door swings shut with a soft thud and a quiet click of the button locks the vehicle. The sneakers shuffle towards the house and up the porch stairs until they reach the front door mat.

 

Elena smoothes out the wrinkles out of her jacket, blouse and jeans for the fourth time as her eyes blink dumbly at the brass knuckle attached on the middle of the painted hunter green oak door. Her dominant hand grasps the cool brass, reveling in the coldness against her sweaty palm. She takes a breath and raps the knuckle firmly. Her sweaty palms disappear into the comforts of her jacket pockets as she rocks on her heels, her eyes glancing around the quiet neighborhood. Her hearts pounds loudly in her ears, betraying her anxiousness to escape back into the safety of her SUV.

 

This is a bad idea. She’s probably not even home.

 

Just as Elena begins to entertain the idea of running back to her car, a curly blonde woman cracks the door slightly ajar and stares at her in confusion. Her brain reboots and her voice stutters like a dying engine. She clears her throat in embarrassment and tries again.

 

“Trudie… Trudie Peterson?”

 

When the blonde nods encouragingly, Elena clutches her jacket closer to her in anticipation and introduces herself, “Hi, I’m Elena Gilbert. I was hoping I could talk to you about… Isobel Fleming.”

 

The blonde quirks a slight smile and states, “I haven’t heard that name in years. How did you know her?”

 

Elena replies hesitantly, "I think that I'm… Do you think that she had a baby that she gave up for adoption?"

 

She receives a stare in return; both of Trudie’s eyebrows are arched in amazement. The woman eyes her with open fascination and replies, “You’re her daughter.” The smile widens a little more as Trudie continues, “I was just going to make some tea. Would you like some?”

 

Elena bobs her head and Trudie opens the door wider as a silent welcome gesture, which she takes as a cue to step inside. She stands to one side and waits for Trudie to shut the door gently, before following behind. She is led to the kitchen dining area, where she first notices the many photo frames hanging on the walls. The dining table is circular and looks as though it can easily fit eight people. The woman must have been raised in a large family, judging from the size of the table and many smiling faces gathered in the picture frames.

 

Elena takes her jacket off and drapes it over the nearest chair. Her ears pick up Trudie puttering around the kitchen, making tea. There is this awkward silence lingering in the room that she finds strangely jarring. Elena finds herself sporting excuses until Trudie returns.

 

"I had your address; I'm sorry for barging in."

 

“Oh that’s all right darling, now take a seat.” Trudie says as she sits down, beckoning to a chair beside her.

 

Elena's hands intertwine with each other as she inquires curiously, deciding to dive head first into the subject. “When was the last time you saw Isobel?”

 

Trudie replies, “About seventeen years ago when she left to have you. We kept in touch for a while, but we drifted apart."

 

"So you don't know where she is…?" Elena questions.

 

Tilting her head in thought slightly, Trudie responds: "If I recall, Isobel went to Florida for awhile."

 

Elena goes silent for a few moments, taking in the information. She struggles with herself for a few minutes before she manages to ask: "Do you have any idea who my birth father is?"

 

Something flickers in Trudie's blue eyes, and her head shakes to the side. Elena feels the shift in the atmosphere as Trudie responds, "I could never get her ‘fess up." The high-pitched whistle of the kettle interrupts the strange ambience in the room.

 

Trudie pushes her chair backwards and makes to stand up while Elena's eyes tracks the movement. "Excuse me. I'll be right back," Trudie says politely. She turns around and heads back into the kitchenette, leaving Elena a small moment of privacy to gather her thoughts.

 

Her ears overhear the whistle of the kettle come to a stop. A couple of minutes pass, Trudie returns with a smile on her face, a cup of steaming tea in her hands. Elena accepts it gratefully and places it within her reach.

 

"Anyway, she pulled it together and got into college on a scholarship. Duke, I think. Smart girl, smart school." Trudie comments offhandedly.

 

They chat for quite a bit and at some point, Trudie warms up to Elena by showing her an old yearbook. The older woman flipped through the pages and paused at every page, patiently watching as the younger girl's fingers ghosted over pictures of Isobel in full-fledged cheerleader uniform. Soon it was time for Elena to go and she is a little reluctant to. She wondered if it was selfish of her to want Trudie telling her more stories about Isobel. She wished she could pluck the precious yearbook containing of her birth mother off the table and cradle against her chest. She doesn’t want to let it go.

 

"This was great. Thank you."

 

Trudie smiles and nods at the teacup still brimming full, "You haven't touched your tea."

 

Elena smiles sheepishly, having been too engrossed in the pictures. Delicately, she crooks her index finger around the handle and secures the teacup with her thumb, before lifting it to her lips. She takes a sip and furrows a brow at the familiarity.

 

"What is this?"

 

Trudie squirms slightly in her seat and dismisses the question with a wave. "Oh, it's just some herbal mixture."

 

Elena just looks at the woman. "Vervain. You know."

 

"Know what?" Elena detects a hint of nervousness shown by the blonde’s quivering bottom lip. There is now a slight sharpness in Trudie's tone.

 

How does she know about vampires? Someone must have told her.

 

Elena replies, pointing out the little things since her arrival. "You didn't invite me in and you're serving vervain tea. You know."

 

In hindsight, she should have known it is never a good idea to accuse the host who has been nothing but kind of her to open up about her memories of her best friend to a complete stranger who had no solid proof that she was the biological daughter of Isobel Fleming. All Elena had was a lot of speculation and what ifs.

 

What if the Isobel Fleming is the same person who married high school history teacher, Alaric Saltzman. What if Alaric Saltzman was her biological father but had been in the dark of Isobel's pregnancy? What if she was the result of a one night stand that Isobel chose to give up in an attempt to save her marriage?

 

Elena jumps in her seat at Trudie’s abrupt movement. Her eyes are hard and stern; her smile disappears upon Elena's accusing statement. "I think you should leave."

 

The atmosphere in the room drops from a friendly warmth to a frosty chill. What is she hiding? Elena grabs her jacket and puts it on a bit hurriedly as she tries to make sense of what Trudie isn't saying. Trudie advances towards her slowly and Elena steps backwards until she’s out of the room. Elena knew she had crossed a line, just from Trudie’s stern expression. She senses the hostility radiating off the woman tailing behind as she walks down the dim lighted hallway, leading back to the front door. Her hand reaches for the brass door handle, but she doesn't push it down. Her head turns back to the older woman and thinks she sees that same tiny flicker of emotion on the blonde's expression.

 

"Wait…" Timidly, she questions Trudie. "What are you not telling me?"

 

The blonde steps right into Elena’s personal space and she immediately sidesteps out of the way. Trudie yanks the door handle and the door swings open, the chill November wind blasting at her face, ruffling her clothes and hair.

 

"Please leave. Now!"

 

Having no other options or excuses, Elena steps out of the house. Just as she turns around to apologize, the door slams shut in her face. She hears a lock slide into place and feels bad about being too inquisitive and intruding. She can't help not getting excited and worked up. This was new to her; and thanks to putting her foot into her own mouth, she now had more unanswered questions. The strangest bit Elena had picked up on was the lack of a boyfriend being mentioned. Did Trudie not know about Alaric and why did she clam up on the topic of her birth father?

 

All these questions fill her mind with different possibilities of what ifs and what nots that she almost fails to notice a man with a buzz cut standing in the middle of the road, just staring at her. Suddenly feeling unnerved by his presence, Elena reaches for her car keys from her purse and unlocks the SUV quickly. She pulls out of the driveway and drives down the road, leaving the man and the house with a green tiled roof behind.

 


 

Twenty-three minutes later, her SUV rolls slowly into the almost packed parking lot across the grill house. Upon seeing the sun setting, Elena realizes she might have overstayed her welcome at Peterson's house. She gets out of her vehicle and locks it before crossing the road. Her feet land onto Mystic Falls Grill pavement right before her ears catch her name being called.

 

Spinning around, she finds the same man from earlier in Grove Hill.

 

Why is he following me and how did he know my name? Did Trudie tell him?

 

"Elena Gilbert?" The man calls again.

 

She nods her head nervously. "Y-yes. What do you want?"

 

"I have a message for you," he replies without any preamble. Her confusion deepens as he continues, "Stop looking. She doesn't want to know you. She doesn't want to talk to you."

 

Elena interrupts the messenger. "Do you mean… Isobel?" Is she alive?

 

"You need to stop looking. Do you understand?" His piercing blue eyes glare into her hazel irises.

 

"Wait, she's alive then? Does that mean she's a-"

 

He takes a step forward and enunciate each word slowly, "Do. You. Understand?"

 

Without thinking, she snaps a confirmation and he nods and says, "I'm done now." His head swivels to the side and he steps backward immediately. A large truck blares its horn and then runs the man over, killing him instantly. Elena screams in horror and freezes at the scene unfolding in front of her.

 

Several people have gathered and form a large circle. A couple of them have their phones whipped out from their pockets and call the Sheriff to report the accident. Others use their phones to snap pictures and chatter amongst themselves. The trucker jumps out from the driver seat and takes off the cap. He comes around the side to inspect the damage and wipes his hands all over his face. "Oh man. He came out of nowhere, I swear."

 

Lying not too far away from the dead messenger, Elena spots a tiny black mobile phone on the road side. It must have fallen out of the man's pocket. Glancing around quickly, she darts out to the road to pick it up and walks a fair distance away from the accident scene. Flipping open the phone, she finds the last number that was dialed and notices that there were several calls made to one number frequently.

 

Upon hearing distant police sirens blaring and having no intention to be anywhere near the scene, Elena quickly dials the number and presses the phone to her ear.

 


A thousand miles away…

 

Click, clack. Click, clack. Click.

 

The sound of her heels echoes loudly all over the second level. She checks her mobile for the thirteenth time and notes with disdain.

 

She’s late.

 

She stalks up and down the spacious room littered with heavy white cloths draped over the furniture for preservation. Her keen hearing picks up a whinging, rusty sound of wood scraping the cement and blurs down the stairs. Hiding in the shadows, she watches as the front parlor doors swings open, revealing a young dark-haired woman and another young man following closely behind. His hands are full of luggage and what appears to be shopping bags from various luxury brands. A coy smile slithers in as she bids for the perfect time before going in for the kill.

 

The moment the dark-haired woman’s hands are tied up from shrugging out of her well-fitted leather jacket, she darts out of her hiding spot to make her presence known. Her back slams roughly against the wall before she turns the tables on the weaker vampire.

 

Not bad.

 

She pins the younger vampire by her windpipe to the wall; a smirk of amusement tugs at her lips at the sight of the weaker vampire breathing a bit too heavily. It seems this vampire has yet to understand that their species requires no need of oxygen. This one still thinks like a human. Her perfectly manicured fingers tightens on the vampire’s throat, forcing her to tilt her head upwards.

 

"Nice house," she compliments.

 

Isobel chokes out a reply while simultaneously attempts to break Katherine's firm hold. "Nicest foreclosure in town."

 

Katherine releases Isobel who immediately throws her arms around her, enveloping Katherine in a crushing yet comforting hug. She returns the gesture enthusiastically. The embrace lasts a lot longer than Katherine anticipated and her grin widens when her favorite conspirator whispers into her ear, "I missed you."

 

They break apart a few moments later and Katherine lets a genuine smile grace her lips as she takes in Isobel's slender attire. "I hear you've been busy."

 

Her partner in crime nods and picks up a wine bottle from her servant, standing nearby at attention. "Yes I have. I've been busy making a deal with Klaus to save your life."

 

Isobel passes the wine bottle to her before stepping into the living area. "Here. A vintner I knew in Avignon."

 

She walks over to the couches, where two empty glasses are already placed on the rectangular glass table, set by Isobel's man servant who is standing nearby. Katherine uncorks the wine bottle while sauntering to the opposite couch and settles down. She pours the wine generously into the two wine glasses and gives one to her descendant.

 

She takes a whiff and sips delicately from the glass. "He's tasty," she comments as she tastes its rich, crimson blood laced with wine.

 

The fireplace crackles softly in the background; its flames dance and lick the wood logs hungrily while the women laugh and share tales of their own adventures. Katherine pauses her tale mid-way as her keen hearing picks up a low vibration coming from the other vampire and raises a brow at Isobel, who had begun rifling through her purse and pulls out a smartphone.

 

However, the sound was not coming from the phone and the younger vampire huffs in mild annoyance to which Katherine can't help letting an airy chuckle escape, causing Isobel to send her a half-annoyed glare whilst still half-distracted in finding her other noisy device.

 

Deciding to let Isobel off easy, Katherine says sweetly, "Jacket pocket, Isobel darling."

 

True to her word, Isobel pulls out another phone of an older model from her pocket. "Oh, there it is," she says and hits answer, pressing the phone to her ear. Without checking the tiny screen, she speaks. "Was there a problem? Did you find her? What's going on?"

 

Her insides twists uncomfortably into tiny tight knots as her gaze turns to the small fireplace. She swallows a gulp of wine to disguise her inner turmoil and pretends that her younger doppelganger’s anxious voice filtering through the tiny speakers in her head did not affect her.

 

"Isobel?"

 

Isobel snaps the phone shut without a reply. She remains unperturbed to the interruption. "It seems your doppelganger has discovered me. How did she figure it out?"

 

Katherine mutters under her breath and growls, "Meddling Salvatore."

 

At hearing her curses, Isobel just grins in reply. "No matter. This changes things though. You'll just have to help him now. Down to business, how is your progress with the moonstone?"

 


 

With tears pooling in her hazel irises, Elena visibly chokes back on a sob threatening to escape her hollowed throat. The phone slips past her trembling fingers and crashes onto the pavement. She stands there numbly on the spot as two police cars pull up and park near the accident scene.

 

She recognizes Sheriff Forbes and her fellow colleagues as they exit the vehicles and begin working on the scene. Not wanting to be spotted and questioned, she hurries back to her car and takes off in the opposite direction.

 

She grips the steering wheel tightly as she can, wiping her tears angrily from her face. A wave of numbness washes over her and she trembles not from the cold but from the feeling of  abandonment.

 

What was I thinking? Maybe she never wanted me. I'm just a mistake to her untarnished record.

 

After parking the car in the driveway, Elena shuffles into the front porch and tiredly drops her keys onto the wooden tray by the door. The sound of the metallic keys against the base of the flat surface echoes loudly throughout the silent, empty house. No one was home except her. Where was Aunt Jenna? Did she mention she was heading out too? Her morning had been a blur; she barely remembered her classes.

 

A defeated sigh escapes her lips and she shrugs her jacket off and hangs it on the clothes rack by the door. Elena carries her book bag and begins trudging slowly upstairs. Her hand turns the door knob anticlockwise and her bedroom door swings open. Not bothering to switch her light on, she steps inside and drops her book bag on her desk chair.

 

There was a slight unfamiliar scent that she couldn't quite place on the tip of her tongue. Someone was here and it wasn't Katherine. She detects a shimmer of something behind her. Whirling around quickly, Elena comes face-to-face with Alaric who steps out from behind the door.

 

"What are you doing here?"

 

The lines on her forehead creases into one of confusion and her feet stumbles back while he steps deliberately forward. His large, callous hands go around to her neck and squeezes harshly. Elena sputters and coughs frantically, her own small hands attempt to break his bruising grip.

 

"C-c-can't.... Br-r-eat-th-e-e-e..."

 

Full-fledged panic overwhelms her entire being; her heart throbs loudly in her ears whilst her chest feels constricted as she tries fruitlessly to pry loose his strong hold on her. Multiple black spots appear in her vision, clotting her already dark view in her pitch black bedroom. All of a sudden, the hands leave her neck and she could breathe again. The sudden release on her throat causes Elena to collapse onto the carpeted floor and she immediately sucks in lungfuls of oxygen. A wave of relief washes over her but a shiver of fear and doubt creeps in.

 

What does he want with me? Katherine had said that he wasn't working with her.

 

A forceful grab grips her hips and flings her roughly onto the bed, her body bounces slightly from the throw. The bedroom doorway gets blocked by his towering, menacing height as he advances deliberately towards her. He is colder. Rougher. Dangerous.

 

What happened to yesterday? Something within him had changed as his next words punch her into her gut.

 

"Scream all you want. Jenna's out cold and Jeremy's at his friend's house. It's just the two of us. Alone at last, doppelganger," Alaric says, his voice taking on a rough tone.

 

Elena scrambles backwards instinctively on her bed to put distance between him and yells, “What did you do to Jenna?"

 

She doesn’t receive a reply; she’s too busy grasping the thin mattress sheets to stop the tugging of his hands on her lower calf. She fights, screams and kicks empty air as his deft, callous hands make quick work of her clothes. She feels her blouse tearing apart from his harsh pulling and ripping. In midst of her terrified screaming, the buttons on her blouse spill onto the floor and bounces like tiny marbles before scattering everywhere. Her blue blouse floats to the floor. Her bra follows and drops on top of the mess.

 

She is thrown onto the window ledge and her topless body lands on the many multi-colored cushions. Her nose smashes into the soft cotton, temporarily hindering her breathing as an unyielding pressure pins her down. She senses cold air brushing the back of her thighs and realizes with dread that her jeans had been pushed down past her knees. She attempts to twist and turn but to no avail. She can’t move; he’s got her too pinned down.

 

Her cotton panties are yanked off entirely and he kicks her well-toned legs apart. Tears gather at the corner of her eyes and pool together until they stream down her cheeks, ruining her makeup.  A stutter of pleas emits her pale lips as she begs him in a last attempt of desperation.

 

"P-p-ple-a-ssee.... d-do-on't..."

 

Her desperate kicks into the air earn her a short reprieve when her foot connects sharply against his calf. He howls painfully and releases some of the pressure off her back.

 

Elena struggles promptly up from the window ledge where he has pinned her just a moment ago. She doesn't get very far and her victory becomes short-lived as she is shoved down again. His hand no longer crushes her back to the flat surface of the ledge; instead the back of her neck gets most of the heavy pressure.

 

Turning her head slightly to the side to accommodate her breathing, Elena feels his large, stubby fingers squeezing the side of her throat. His fingernails dig painfully into her unmarked skin. Her wrists are pulled back tautly onto her back and she feels something cold clasping one of her wrist.

 

A wave of numbness floods through her skin, paralyzing her senses before a strange, unwelcoming sensation takes over and she knows no more.

 


 

I'm going to make you pay, bitch! He yells furiously in his mind. He moves again just in time to avoid another kick to the shin. Time to test this baby out, he grins dangerously at the struggling girl.

 

His hand reaches into his pants pocket and pulls out a thick, silver cuff carved with strange symbols and unknown cursive Latin words decorated around the accessory.

 

He hadn't bothered to ask his master who had given the object to him. He was ordered to put this on her and have a little fun with her before his master took her for himself.

 

With difficulty, he manages to unfasten the pentagonal clasp on the side of the cuff with one hand whilst the other firmly holds her wrists. The girl - doppelganger - as his master likes to call her, is wiggling too much. The silver accessory falls open and he slides it onto her wrist.

 

It was as though a strange spell had taken over the doppelganger's body and she suddenly goes lax under his grip. His eyes narrow at the slumped, sprawled girl and he cautiously lifts his palm up from her back. When it becomes clear that she is no longer a threat after poking her on the back of her thighs a bit, a tiny, predatory smirk forms in the corner of his lips.

 

The girl is still sprawled out in the same position; her legs are spread apart, her wrists still resting on the small of her back, and her cheek against one of the smaller multicolored cushions. The only sound he hears from her is soft breathing through her nose that telling him that she was no mannequin doll.

 

He begins his fun by spreading her glorious, plump ass cheeks, revealing her treasure. His fingers pull the folds of her pussy lips obscenely wide while his other hand peel her clitoral hood back to expose the tiny, delicate and very sensitive nub.

 

With a sly smile, Alaric flicks his finger at the nub and lets his sharp fingernail graze her center. Her inner thigh quivers and he let out a dark chuckle at the doppelganger’s screams.

Chapter Text

I gotta go. Gotta go.

 

Jeremy tosses his comforter to the other side of the bed as he scrambles out and nearly trips over some of his stuff littered all over the floor. He heads straight for the shared bathroom he shared with his sister and turns the knob anticlockwise.

 

In his blundering rush to relieve himself, he fails to realize someone else had occupied the bathroom.

 

He notices his sister by the bathroom sink, but the thought that he was still dreaming came to him as he takes in the scene before him… why would Elena have fresh bruises on the back of her thighs.

 

He’s not awake yet; his mind must certainly be playing tricks on him. There are more dark bruises on the back of her neck. Elena is hunched over the bathroom sink, her face hidden by her straight locks, brushed to one side. Under the bright light, her skin pales in comparison to the amount of bruises. He shudders to think what other marks were covered under her shirt. She has yet to pick up on his presence and her leg shifts slightly. His eyes narrow and the corner of his lip tilts downward in a frown as he spots what looks like to be a large hand print imprinted on her left inner back thigh.

 

Forgetting his own urgency, he reaches to touch her right shoulder.

 

"Elena?" murmurs Jeremy.

 

His left hand connects solidly against his sister’s right shoulder. She's real. This isn't a trick.

 

She jumps into the air and spins around. He takes in her features and notes that both of her eyes are red-rimmed. He crooks his neck down and his fingers brush the underside of her chin to tilt it upwards for a better view. She flinches at his bare touch and he jerks his hand back as if he had been burned. A burst of anger shoots up into his chest and his hands clenches into fists lying by the sides. Her neck is littered with hues of dark blues and purples. What angered him the most was that these were fresh.

 

He barely resists the growl from escaping his lips. “Who did this to you?”

 

She shakes her head and whispers softly, “I-I can’t say…”

 

It must be the new guy who hangs around the grill house and sits near the bar. “Is it Damon? Was he here last night?”

 

She refuses to look into his eyes as she negates her response. The silence is so palpable in their small, shared bathroom that it unnerves him and he feels the need to throw out another name. “It’s Stefan, isn’t it? I swear to God I’ll-”

 

She shakes her head again and all Jeremy wants to do is to hold her in his arms and tell her that he would hunt down the bastard who did this and punch him in the face. His sister doesn’t deserve to be treated like this. He curses internally as he considers the fact that he can’t do the former because she balked at his touch and he can’t punch the dirt bag in the face because she refused to talk. He can’t even plead with his eyes because she won’t even look at him.

 

If she can’t tell me who did it, she could tell someone else right?

 

“Hey, I get it. You don’t want to tell me. How about Aunt Jenna?” Jeremy suggests and her head snaps up instantly that it takes him by surprise. Her reaction, however, takes an unexpected turn. Her red-rimmed eyes widen marginally by his suggestion and he finds full-fledged fear behind those hazel doe-eyed irises. Without any warning, he feels pressure on his chest and looks down to see both of her palms begin to push him firmly out of the bathroom. “What’s goin-”

 

Unable to process what just happened, he follows the movement and steps backward until his bare feet touches the carpeted floor that informs him that he is back into his own room.

 

Her voice cracks, “I can’t, Jer. There’s...too much at stake.” She closes his bathroom door and shuts him out.

 

Jeremy stares at the closed door dumbly for a couple of minutes and then he snaps out of it. He goes to his wardrobe and begins pulling out a long-sleeved shirt and a fresh pair of jeans. As he starts changing, his mind wanders back to Elena’s strange behavior.

 

Why won’t she tell Jenna? Hell, of all the guys I mentioned earlier, there was barely any response. Who would do this to her if it’s not the Salvatores? It’s not Matt and definitely not Tyler. Elena’s not close to any of the other guys in school despite her popularity. But as soon as Jenna’s name pops up, everything changed. The idea was as ridiculous as it sounds; she wouldn’t lay a hand on us. I’m missing something.

 

With his backpack slung over both shoulders, Jeremy clamors down the stairs hurriedly whilst risking a glance at Elena’s closed bedroom door. If she won't tell, I will. With that thought in mind, he strides purposefully into the kitchenette only to find it empty.

 

His forehead lines crease and deepen into confusion. A bright, colorful sticky note stuck on the metallic surface of the fridge catches his eye and he moves towards it. He recognizes Aunt Jenna’s large and loopy handwriting as his fingers pulls the note off to read. "Morning errand. Ric’s picking you kids up. XOXO"

 

Two short, sharp honks jolt Jeremy’s attention and he walks back towards the front door, shouting as he begins to grab his sneakers from the shoe cabinet. “Elena! Let’s go. Ric’s picking us up.”

 

He yanks open the front door and jogs down the porch stairs, all the while returning Alaric’s wave from the white vehicle parked by the curb. He moves towards the back seat behind the driver but his path gets blocked by a dark blur rushing past him. He blinks at Elena’s appearance dressed in a dark colored turtleneck and a matching set of pants. She pulls the car door handle towards her and scrambles inside. He ends up walking around the Tahoe in order to get into the passenger seat.

 

During their short journey to school, Jeremy nods and replies to Ric’s short conversation on the current baseball scores. His eyes flicker to the rear view mirror and observe Elena has her head bowed down and stays oddly silent until Alaric pulls the car into the teacher’s parking lot section. The minute he pulls the brakes up and turns off the engine, Elena becomes the first person to alight. Jeremy, on the other hand, takes his time to gather his belongings before getting out of the Tahoe. His expression switches to one of concern as his eyes train on the back of his sister’s silhouette disappearing into the sea of students.

 


 

Gritting her teeth, Elena tightens her grip against the edge of the school desk in the act of lowering her bottom to her unofficial assigned seat during English. Moisture wells up in her eyes and blurs her vision from the moment her bottom gingerly touches the hard plastic surface of the chair. She does her best not to squirm, for every little movement she makes, hurts too much.

 

She had woken up to her alarm clock blaring noisily and had found herself lying sprawled on her bed with an indescribably large wet stain. She had wondered if she had been drugged during some point in the night because she had no memory of him doing it. Did he really...? Was I...?

 

And then at some point when she made to rise out from her bed, did she realize he had left her in a terrifying predicament. There was a nylon rope tied around her waist and it passed through between her legs. She could feel a foreign object lodged deep in her ass. She had no recollection of Alaric having rope or going through the motion of binding her. He must have waited till she had passed out or something. She couldn’t remove the butt plug, not with the thick rope secured snugly to her crotch.

 

There wasn’t enough time to unknot or cut the nylon rope. She had come across several obstacles when she tried to get out of this embarrassing situation. First, the knots were too tight and complicated when she attempted to unknot them. Second, there was nothing sharp in her bedroom that she could use to cut or at the very least to saw through the thick nylon material made to withstand the resistance. Her pair of scissors was too blunt and dull for her to even consider giving a crack at.

 

Elena had long given up and pulled open her dresser drawer to get a fresh pair of panties to wear over this weird rope thong. It was so uncomfortable to walk; every single movement she made caused the rough texture of the rope to add friction and rub against her heated cunt. He had positioned two pieces of rope right between her vulva folds, trapping her delicate over-sensitized flesh. Her day had barely begun and she was already in agony.

 

She bites her bottom lip to resist emitting a pained whimper as she grips the side of her desk that the tips of her knuckle turn white. The English teacher drones on and on while Elena struggles to re-focus on his dull monotonous voice. She can already feel a trickle of wetness dribble out of her sensitive area, staining her clean cotton panties.

 


 

Jeremy jogs down the stairs, randomly skipping a step or two as he makes his way to the ground floor from the fourth level. He had just gotten out of Art Club; it had ended a little later than usual since the club was in charge of decorating the banners and they were preparing for the upcoming winter event.

 

He turns a corner and spies Elena exiting the girls’ locker room slowly. He makes to shout to gain her attention when he notices that the person following her behind was not a female. His eyes widen in shock and his hand claps his ajar mouth to muffle the sounds from escaping whilst pressing himself to the wall and out of sight.

 

As soon as he hears the exit doors slam shut with a loud bang, he pops his head out and races towards the exit. He recognizes the white vehicle speeding out of the near-empty parking lot. Damn it! They’re gone.

 

Deserted by his only ride home, Jeremy decides to take his time and walk home. His house wasn’t that far from the school; it would just take some time and he could use some solitude to gather his thoughts.

 

Because there had to be an explanation to what he had just witnessed.

 

Alaric is currently dating Aunt Jenna and yet there was a niggling at the back of his mind when he spotted the history teacher’s hand on Elena’s lower back edging downwards to her hips. He shakes his head in a physical effort to get rid of the disturbing image out of his mind.

 

Ric wouldn’t cheat on Jenna, Jeremy desperately thinks. So what was he doing in the girl’s locker room in the first place?  

 

He hears a serial of honking coming from behind and his head turns to see Tyler Lockwood in his black Jeep slow down and crawl at a snail’s pace.

 

“Yo Gilbert. What happened to your ride, man?”

 

Jeremy’s shoulders give a non-committed half-shrug. “Left me in the dust.”

 

Tyler jerks his head towards his Jeep and tells him, “Hop in. I’ll give you a ride home.”

 

Jeremy quirks a smile and shakes his head politely. “I’m halfway home, dude. Don’t worry about it.”

 

However, his new-found friend doesn’t let him off that easily and continues to drive at a snail’s pace to keep pace with him. Several cars behind the Jeep honk and beep continuously to no avail. Some drivers had wind down their windshield to yell at Tyler who deliberately ignores the angry yells and curses and smirk at him.

 

“I’m not leaving until you say yes, Jer.”

 

He rolls his eyes and with a quick glance at the number of cars increasing due to the fact that it was on a major road, he decides to compromise. His swift strides take him around the Jeep and climbs inside. “Satisfied?” Jeremy glares at Tyler who just grins in reply and returns to a normal, decent speed.

 

The Jeep speeds past his lane and he jerks his thumb back to Tyler and furrows his brows at the same time as he remarks, “You missed the turn.”

 

“Nope. We’re heading to the Grill,” Tyler chortles and adds, “You owe me at least a couple of games.”

 

“What? No, I don’t. Look Ty, I gotta get home,” Jeremy counters back.

 

He needs to check on his sister and see if she’s okay. He can already sense something deep in his bones that something isn’t quite right with her behavior this morning and now seeing Ric and her together, something just ticked at him uncomfortably.

 

“Don’t be a downer, Gilbert. This is why you have no friends.”

 

Jeremy sighs when the Mystic Falls Grill House is within his range vision.

 

“One game.”

 


 

“Let’s play a game,” Alaric grins wickedly as he tosses a glance at her. She returns a weak smile all the while glancing at her surroundings surreptitiously. He had passed by her lane a couple of turns back so she is going to presume he would be bringing her to his apartment.

 

"There's a beach towel in the shopping bag. I want you to sit on it," Alaric glances at her for a quick moment before he returns his attention back to the road. Elena blinks at the unusual instruction but complies anyway. She unfastens her seat belt and lifts her bottom to place the striped blue and white beach towel after folding the huge, thick towel to fit the seat. She re-settles down hesitantly.

 

“Glove compartment, there’s a rectangular white box inside. Open it up and entertain yourself.”

 

Her brow arches in confusion as she opens the glove compartment and finds the nondescript, slim rectangular box. She pulls out the top cover and tilts the box upside-down. She stares at the device that tumbles out and falls onto her lap.

 

No, no, no. He couldn’t possibly… Is this what I think it is?

 

Elena swallows a visible gulp as she holds the object up to inspect it at eye level. A knot forms at the back of her throat and her next words are captured, never to see the light of day. Her chest tightens with anxiety at this constant strain of literal shame she always managed to let herself be tangled up in. It made sense now why he wanted her to sit on the beach towel. She lets out a strangled snort at her current circumstance and her breathing kicks up to a notch as she begins to hyperventilate. She feels sick just from recalling all her previous encounters with Alaric and Katherine.

 

This isn't how my life is supposed to be. Is this what Katherine meant…that I would have too much on my plate to even miss her? They’re both working together, stringing her body and soul to play a twisted melody that only they can hear.

 

Katherine had left her all alone to Alaric’s sadistic pleasures and yet all Aunt Jenna speaks of are praises of how thoughtful he has been to her, or how he isn’t like that douchebag Logan Fell who left her without so much of a message.

 

She can’t breathe; her chest feels like it was about to cave in on her. She wanted nothing more than to cry, to curl up in a ball and die. The car doors are locked and he’s speeding down the long stretch of road that was surprisingly devoid of passer-byes. They were driving on the main road and not on some random back road.

 

“Please… please don’t… make me do… this. I-I can’t…” Her swollen bottom lip wobbles with trepidation and her voice breaks. He switches off the radio and doesn’t reply. The complete lack of noise has her on edge and she can’t stop herself from quivering fearfully. Alaric pulls the car over to the side of the road and pulls the brakes up but he leaves the engine running.

 

He turns to her and says quietly, “You will take that vibrator and play with yourself because I really don’t think your pretty, puffy cunt can take another spanking.” Elena’s doe-eyes widens significantly at the solemnity of his words. Another? He really did do it then…?

 

Alaric reaches over and shoves his meaty hand past the elastic waistband of her pants to yank the nylon rope up and towards him. A pained yelp escapes and her eyes sting from his harsh action. A cruel smirk sneaks from the corner of his lips and he says tauntingly, “Why do you think it hurts so much, Elena?”

 

She screams and sobs when he gives the rope another vicious tug. Her head ducks, letting her hair cover her tear-streaked, ashen face. The sight of her humiliating state must have satisfied him because he releases the crotch rope and begins driving again.

 

"I'll make a deal with you. If you do everything I say without any resisting or protesting on your end, I will remove the crotch rope and the butt plug. However, if you so much as whisper for help, I will duct tape that vibrator to your thigh and lower all the windows down. Which will it be, Elena?"

 

Sniffling quietly, Elena’s fingers dig into the tips of the waistband and peel both her pair of pants and her soaked panties from her hips to rest just above the top of her knee joints, revealing the tight crotch rope. The cotton-polyester fabric against her exposed, almost hard clit that protruded out of its protective hood sends her to a new level of torture. She unconsciously wiggles in her seat and lets out an ashamed whimper.

 

“Give me a good show, Elena. Spread your knees. I want to see everything.”

 

Her face flushes bright red as she is forced to discard her bottom half clothing completely in order to spread her knees far apart. She is aware that using the vibrator is overkill; just grinding into the rough texture of the towel would have her cumming in minutes. She had already soaked her cotton panties way before recess began.

 

Elena flicks the vibrator switch on and watches the bulbous head begin to vibrate. She sets it to the lowest setting and takes a deep breath. With trembling hands, she guides the head of the vibrator and presses it against her hyper-sensitive mound. Her increasingly loud moans and sharp shrieks fill the car as she squeezes her eyelids shut while throwing her head back and her back arches, caught between a seismic sensation of paradise and torment.

 

She fails to feel Alaric’s fingers carding through her straight locks, or hears his soft praises, or even notice that they were heading out of Mystic Falls.

 


 

After three games, Jeremy finally convinces Tyler to send him home. He shakes his head and wonders how one game had turned into three. He had won the second round but Tyler being Tyler, had said he had to let him win at least one since he had been too devastatingly preoccupied in his thoughts and had let multiple windows of opportunity to sink the shots go by.

 

Aunt Jenna must be home, he contemplates whether he should inform her of Elena’s erratic behavior, as he walks past the SUV and trudges up the porch stairs. He hears shouting and a constant commotion “thump, thump, thump” coming from inside.

 

He turns the house key and lets himself in. In front of him, he sees Uncle John half-dragging the luggage up the stairs whilst half-shouting at Aunt Jenna who has also raised her voice to be overheard. He tunes back to the conversation just in time to hear “-keep track of the kids.”

 

“Hey Uncle John. You’re back!” says Jeremy and nods his greeting to Aunt Jenna. Uncle John grins widely at him and says merrily, “Jeremy! You’ve been working out?”

 

He shakes his head to negate the question while Uncle John squints from the top of the stairs and frowns slightly, “Did Elena come home with you?”

 

His confusion returns to the forefront of his consciousness and he replies slowly, “No, she’s not back yet?” But… she got a ride from Ric. Where would they go? Surely, not back to his place…

 

At his negative response, Uncle John goes back to their previous loud argument. “I told you, didn’t I? I don’t know why Grayson left you in charge since you clearly have no idea where Elena is!”

 

Aunt Jenna returns fire quickly, “Like you’re any better. At least I didn’t get a high school girl pregnant and have Grayson clean up my mess.”

 

“You were a junkie!”

 

Jeremy ducks past the arguing duo and walks into the kitchen to see what Jenna had brought back, all the while trying to ignore the pair yelling at the top of their voices.

 

Hours later after a very intense dinner where which the only conversation involved was “pass the salt please,” and John’s accusing statement of whether or not Jenna cooked the oven-baked chicken. She had tersely told him that she had bought it when he complained the chicken was overcooked. Elena had failed to show up for dinner and hadn’t replied to any of the texts they had sent her.

 

After dinner, Aunt Jenna walks into the living room where they’re all currently lounging around, carrying the cordless phone in her hand. “According to Caroline, there is a possibility that Elena is at Damon Salvatore’s house.”

 

Uncle John just pauses his endless switching through the TV channels and stares at Jenna. “You’re joking,” he says finally. “She could have called home and let us know her whereabouts. What have you been teaching the kids?”

 

Jeremy quickly excuses himself from the room the moment they begin to quarrel again. He climbs the stairs two steps at a time and reaches his bedroom in record time. Shutting his bedroom door with a gentle click, he pulls out his phone from his jeans pocket and quickly scrolls through the contact list before stopping at a number. He hits the call button and waits for the other end to pick up.

 

The first attempt was unsuccessful so he tries again with one hand pressing the phone to his ear whilst the other moves the computer mouse around. He spends his time surfing the Internet and switches on his music playlist whilst calling the number for the third time, nodding his head to the rhythm of the drums blasting through the computer audio speakers.

 

Fifteen minutes into the playlist, Jeremy barely hears the faint ringing fade out until a sharp, piercing voice slices through the rock music and forces him to jolt out of a trance and scramble to lower the volume.

 

“Make it quick, Gilbert. I’m busy.”

 

He rolls his eyes; he should have known better the receiver would skip pleasantries so he states bluntly, “Elena’s missing.”

 

The voice drawls uncaringly, “Is that so? Shouldn’t little Gilbert be calling the Sheriff instead? I made it clear that you inform me on supernatural occurrences, not something so trivial that the cops can most certainly handle.”

 

Jeremy fumes angrily and clenches his fist. “I thought you’d care,” he growls into the speaker.

 

“Well you thought wrong.” And just like that, the line goes dead.

 

He releases the phone from his ear and stares at the blank contact profile for a few minutes. Not wanting to let the other person off the hook that easily, his brow furrows in single-minded determination and composes a text message stating he had seen Elena with Ric earlier today and that none of her friends really know where she is. Satisfied with the message, he hits send.

 

The smartphone vibrates exactly two minutes later, blaring Skillet’s American Noise chorus through its tiny speakers. He swipes the touch screen with deft fingers and says as calmly as he can possibly muster. “I thought you said you didn’t care.”

 

The voice takes on a calmer, questioning tone as it speaks, “What time?”

 

Without thinking, he answers with a slight frown. “9:15pm.”

 

The voice snaps. “The time she was last seen, you idiot!”

 

“Oh,” Jeremy dumbly replies as he tries to recall the time. “A little past three, I think.”

 

At his answer, he hears muttering and lots of cursing coming from the other end. He is almost certain the mumblings are in another language because he couldn’t make out a single word. He wonders vaguely if the language was Russian or perhaps something older.

 

The mutterings come to a halt. “Three days.”

 

Jeremy half-shouts exasperatedly into the phone. “Elena doesn’t have that kind of luxury! Where are you anyway?”

 

“None of your goddamn business, Gilbert!” The voice seethes in annoyance. “Now I have far more important, urgent matters to take care of.” The line goes dead again and Jeremy tosses the phone onto his comfortable bed. There was nothing to do except to wait and hope that she was somewhere safe.

Chapter Text

The next morning, Jeremy shuffles sleepily out of his messy bedroom, down the stairs, towards the open kitchenette and blinks groggily at the blonde woman with short cropped hair, wearing the standard navy jacket with a sheriff badge pinned to the side, over light blue blouse and black slacks. Sheriff Forbes smiles sympathetically as she greets him. He looks over her shoulder to see that the adults are sitting at the dining table discussing something in civilised tones. He assumes the officer who was sitting in between those two has the tough role of a mediator.

 

He moves towards the refrigerator and opens it. He gathers all the ingredients needed for his sandwich into his arms before turning on the spot with his arms full of an assortment of containers stacked precariously on top of each other, his chin clamps down on top of the glass jar of mayonnaise to hold it in place.

 

"Do you need help with anything?"

 

His eyes lift up from the containers wobbling slightly in his arms to meet a pair of blue eyes looking at him with a half-amused yet concerned expression.  

 

Very slowly and carefully, he elbows the refrigerator door shut without jolting any of his precious cargo and heads towards the island counter in the middle of the kitchen, where everything starts to spill disastrously out of his arms.  He manages to slap his hand towards the end of the counter to catch a wayward rolling ketchup bottle and rights it up back.

 

“Aunt Jenna called you?” Jeremy questions the Sheriff who nods in affirmative. “We’re going to do everything we can to find Elena. I understand Mr Saltzman sent you and Elena to school yesterday morning. Did Elena tell you her plans after school?”

 

While Sheriff Forbes talks, Jeremy begins preparing his sandwich. He pops two slices of bread into the toaster and continues opening all the containers.

 

“She usually has cheerleading practice on these days,” Jeremy replies without meeting Sheriff Forbes’s eyes. A few minutes pass and the two slices of toasted bread pop up. He grabs one of them gingerly and tosses it onto his plate before he continues to pile the stack with all the good stuff as he helps himself to the leftover chicken from last night's dinner. He slabs a thick layer of mayonnaise generously in between the layers and then covers it with the last slice of bread still resting in the toaster.

 

He grins at Sheriff Forbes’s exasperated expression as he takes a huge bite of his tall, overly stacked sandwich. At the same time, Uncle John slams his fist down on the table; his voice raising an octave at Jenna, “Why did you tell her that?”

 

Aunt Jenna stands up abruptly from her seat and the officer rises as well, to placate her. She hisses at John who is looking at her in an almost angry expression. From his place, he can barely catch their hushed argument and moves to go over but Sheriff Forbes has already inserted herself in his path and goes over to calm the bickering pair down. He stays behind the counter with his breakfast, choosing to let the officers handle the situation.

 

The other officer leads Uncle John out of the room whilst the women remain in the room. Aunt Jenna re-settles back down into the seat and nurses her cup of tea. The Sheriff sits next to her and rubs her arm reassuringly.

 

When it’s time for them to go, Jeremy trails behind Sheriff Forbes to the front door. Aunt Jenna has decided to remain in the kitchen to make another cup of tea for herself.

 

Jeremy finally blurts out, “Try Ric’s place. I-I think… she could be there."

 

The blonde officer turns around and looks at him curiously. “Alaric Saltzman is dating Aunt Jenna, is that correct?”

 

Jeremy nods and Sheriff Forbes looks at him intently, her blue eyes piercing into his own. “And why do you think Elena would be at his apartment?”

 

He looks down to the carpet and toes the corner of the carpeted mat before meeting her eyes again. He shrugs helplessly, “Just a hunch really… Elena…”

 

“What happened to Elena, Jeremy? You can tell me.”

 

He glances back to the quiet hallway leading to the kitchen area and lowers his voice. “You can’t tell Jenna. I’m not even sure if he did it or... if Damon visited her.”

 

Sheriff Forbes guides him into the living room and says, “Tell me everything.”

 


 

Twenty minutes later, Elizabeth trudges down the porch stairs of the Gilbert house and slides into the passenger seat. Her colleague, Wilson, shifts the gears into drive. “Back to the station, Forbes?”

 

She shakes her head and reaches to fasten the seatbelt into the it’s clasp. “No, stop by Saltzman’s place. I think we may have a lead.”

 

On the way, she recalls her hushed conversation with Jeremy and he had told her how his sister had seemed distant and scared that morning. Apparently, Elena had taken a ride from Mr. Saltzman that afternoon.

 

What was she doing with Saltzman?

 

Jeremy had seemed troubled; and she had learned to trust her gut instincts from time to time, and her gut was telling her that he knew more than he was letting on.

 

Elizabeth waits for Wilson to park the car before alighting. She doesn’t wait for Wilson as she strides up to the four-storey building and starts knocking on the owner of the building’s door.

 

A man in his mid-fifties opens the door and she doesn’t even give him time to say anything, snapping a questing the second the door opens, “What unit number is Alaric Saltzman’s?”

 

The landlord replies nervously, “Top floor, 44th.”

 

She lets the landlord lead the way while she follows closely behind, with Wilson trailing at the back end. Eight flight of stairs later, Elizabeth positions herself closest to the door knob while Wilson takes the other side of the front door. With his dominant hand, he grips his holstered gun attached to his hip and nods at her.

 

She raises her fist and knocks twice. “Alaric Saltzman?”

 

A few minutes pass, they hear only silence from the other end. Her head turns to the nervous landlord and orders, “Open the door.”

 

He complies obediently and stays anxiously outside as the officers barge in and sweep the place. She sweeps through her side of the apartment, comprising of the kitchen and master bedroom while Wilson checks the other rooms. She hears Wilson declaring loudly, “All clear,” and walks back to the living area.

 

Elena Gilbert isn’t here like Jeremy thinks she would. She looks around the living room and notices how sparse the apartment is. There wasn’t a shred of personal touch that described Saltzman’s character, not even any self-portraits or family photos. The apartment looks as though it came right out of a catalogue.

 

“Put an APB on Alaric Saltzman, white male, late thirties, 5’8, brown hair,” Elizabeth says into the walkie-talkie clipped to her jacket's shoulder pads and walks out.

 


 

Outside of Mystic Falls

 

Swish.

 

Smack.

 

Scream.

 

The pixie-haired brunette feels sick again when her hyper-hearing catches the beginnings of whooshing sounds of a long, thin sharp stick slicing through the air and landing on soft, tenderized flesh. Muffled screams follow next from the small, locked windowless room. The compelled school teacher stands at attention, guarding the door.

 

I can’t do this. I can’t keep protecting him. Even if I stop him now, he will just find another way to hurt the doppelganger. No, this ends now. The girl doesn’t deserve to be on the receiving end of his sadistic games just because Katerina had tricked him into falling for her.

 

With her decision made, she strides quickly out of the borrowed mansion and underneath an old tree. Thick branches and leaves protect her from the harsh afternoon sun rays. She slides a phone out of her pants pocket and dials a number she had long memorised.

 

The other end picks up and an unfamiliar voice speaks, “Hello?”

 

“I need to speak with Lord Elijah,” Rose replies. “I don’t care if he’s busy. Just get him to call me back. Yes… this is urgent.”

 


 

Inside Mystic Falls

 

Standing on the front porch of the Salvatore boarding house, Bonnie glances around nervously while Caroline continues to rap the door knuckle against the main door. Damon’s vintage blue Ford lies parked in the driveway behind her so he is most likely inside, ignoring the two high school girls way over their heads.

 

“Maybe this is a bad idea. Elena may not even be here, Care” Bonnie states for the upteemth time and is once again ignored.

 

Caroline had contacted her earlier in the day to inform her that her mother was turning the town upside-down searching for their missing best friend. She had this crazy insane plan to confront the resident vampire in town and demand he return Elena back to her worried family. So she finds herself tagging along as a preventive measure to stop Damon lest he try to compel Caroline.

 

Caroline whips her blonde hair as she spins quickly to face her. “Of course Elena’s here,” she says exasperatedly. “Where else could she be?” Her best friend’s face is red from frustration and her head tilts downwards as her fingers trace the bracelet on her wrist. Bonnie follows the movement and spies what looked like a friendship bracelet clasped around Caroline’s pale wrist.

 

“Did Elena make it for you?” Bonnie questions her friend softly.

 

Caroline shakes her head as she replies, “It’s a vervain bracelet. She gave me hers right after Damon tried to compel me again. It’s all my fault and now she's vervain-free.”

 

She rubs Caroline’s shoulder and wraps her arms around her slender frame as she murmurs, “It’s not your fault, Care. Your mother is going to find Elena, okay? You just have to trust her.”

 

The door swings open suddenly, revealing Damon who sends her a lazy wink. She is caught unawares and glares at him instead. He rolls his eyes and drawls, “It’s Blondie and Bitchy. I mean Witchy. What can I do for you bright, young, tasty ladies?”

 

Caroline snaps up from her shoulder and disentangled herself from the hug upon hearing his taunt and she fixes a glare. “Damon!”

 

Simultaneously, a surge of anger flares up from within upon seeing his cocky smile and Bonnie channels that feeling into a single burst of concentrated magick aimed straight for the usually arrogant vampire. She feels a strange satisfaction when Damon doubles over on his knees clutching his head screaming in agony. She is surprised at his weak sarcasm, "Is this how witches greet people?"

 

Bonnie doesn't miss a beat and counters, "Reserved especially for rude vampires like you."

 

Caroline takes the opportunity to step past Damon and hurries down the hallway. Bonnie watches her shout for Elena at the top of her voice and disappears into a room only to exit empty handed. Her frantic search continues as she enters room after room whilst Bonnie stares at Damon who is still grovelling around the carpeted foyer. She had long stopped the aneurysm so he should have recovered by now.

 

"What are you doing?" Bonnie calmly questions while watching Caroline jog up the stairs.

 

He yells, "I didn’t do anything!"

 

Bonnie stares at his outburst with an arched brow. He gets up from the floor and stretches, popping some joints as he does.

 

"Is it too dramatic?" He asks, standing up to stretch leisurely, popping some joints as he moves his neck in a circular motion.

 

He jabs his finger back at the stairs where Caroline had disappeared to. "When you said friend... I didn’t know you meant Blondie. How about Elena?" He continues, waggling his brows suggestively as he points to her and then back to him. "You, me, Elena, and tequila. Now that's what I call fun."

 

Bonnie explains quietly, “Elena’s missing, Damon.”

 

Damon scrunches his face in annoyance and replies, “Damn! So that explains why Blondie is here, wrecking my house, searching for a missing best friend who isn’t even here.” His voice raises in octave until he receives the desired effect: Caroline stomping down the stairs and towards Damon with pure annoyance.

 

“I’m just making sure you don’t have Elena locked up in your room, having your wicked way with her like you have my mother," Caroline retorts hotly and pokes him hard in his chest with her index finger before continuing, "-wrapped around your pinky finger.” She finishes with a sharp piercing glare that has successfully sent most freshmen scattering.

 

Damon, however, just smirks at Caroline and drawls, "Oh you poor little thing, you're in denial. Can't you see your mother likes my good looks, my style and my charms, and my unflinching ability to listen to those puny council talk shop of taking down evil vampires?"

 

Caroline glares at him and then does a complete U-turn; she flashes an overly bright smile at Bonnie and wraps an arm around hers, turning away from the vampire. "Okay, so maybe you were right. Elena isn't here but she could be at the cemetery. I mean she was there last summer..."

 

As Caroline begins chattering away energetically on checking other places of significance to Elena, Bonnie hears a soft chime and feels a gentle vibration in her jeans pocket.

 

Casting a quick glance at her blonde friend, she slips her phone out of her pocket nonchalantly and grins at the text message sent by Damon - Ditch Blondie. Hang out with me instead.

 


 

Sometime during the evening, Elizabeth Forbes strides into the Mystic Falls Grill and finds Damon Salvatore slouching on one of the many empty bar stools, nursing a glass of brandy.

 

"God, I would love to have one of those right now," she sighs tiredly, fingers running through her blonde cropped hair.

 

She reaches the dark-haired man, who she has come to know for the past few months and who has been incredibly helpful to tackling their vampire problem.

 

She settles down on the vacant stool next to him. Damon turns to face her and his expression changes to one of concern, his forehead lines crease and his head tilts towards the bar.

 

"Busy day today?" He inquires politely. "I could hook you up with one."

 

She smiles and negates his question. "Thank you but I'm not off duty yet."

 

He makes a noncommittal noise from the back of his throat. "So I heard from a little yellow bird that Elena Gilbert has gone missing. Do you need any help with organizing a search party? I could help round up some people while you rest and recharge."

 

Please don't tell me he means Caroline.

 

Outwardly, she winces at his statement. "I apologize on behalf of my daughter if she bothered you today. It's just that she and Elena grew up together so she's-"

 

Her sentence is interrupted by Damon smiling in kind understanding as he gently shushes her and waves her apology away with his hand. "It's okay, Liz. I know what it's like to lose someone close to you." His expression switches to one of grim; his eyes stare into the one of the many liquor bottles arranged on the bar shelves, as if recalling a distant memory.

 

She watches his hand nursing his drink loosely begin to tighten around the glass. She narrows her eyes as a tiny crack-line appear on the glass held between his fingers. The thin line gets longer and trails up towards the rim of the glass.

 

That's not possible. He hasn't moved a muscle. He can't be that strong. I'm probably just seeing things; it's been a really long day, what with the sudden disappearances of Elena Gilbert and Alaric Saltzman. And speaking of disappearances...

 

A thought comes to the forefront of her mind and she voices it out. "Is Stefan alright? Caroline tells me he has been absent for a while."

 

Her question must have snapped Damon back to reality because his hand releases the glass and she could see a long, thin jagged line that clearly had not been there previously.

 

"Stefan?" He frowns at the name and takes a sip of his drink.

 

When he sets the glass down on the paper-thin flimsy coaster, she takes note that his bright, confident smile has been taken over by a thin closed lip smile. "Stefan's been busy dealing with some personal matters," he replies slowly and his expression closes off slightly.

 

Elizabeth begins to ask Damon another question, but right at that moment, she hears a familiar voice addressing them.

 

“Damon Salvatore. Just the man I wanted to see,” the strident masculine voice gets louder and clearer as the man walked towards them.

 

She turns her head towards the side and over her shoulder to see John Gilbert smiling thinly. He has his outer coat slung over his arm while the other carries a half-empty bottle of beer.

 

Damon mirrors her actions and glances at him before turning to her. “Who is this guy?” He inquires.

 

Why is my shift not over yet? She sighs internally before replying, “His name is John, but I call him jackass.”

 

John reaches them in mere seconds and throws a dismissive nod of greetings at her. Before she can react, he has grabbed the front of Damon’s dark leather jacket and pulls her friend slash consultant up from the stool and slugs the man with a right hook.

 

“What have you done to Elena?” John growls.

 

Damon’s head swings to the side from the punch and when his head turns slowly back towards John who is still staring furiously at him. Elizabeth glimpses his eyes getting marginally darker and his lips twists to form a strange, confident smirk.

 

Who smirks after getting punched in the face? Elizabeth briefly wonders as she quickly rises to stand between the two men. She grabs John’s arm and begins to yank him towards the exit of the grillhouse. “You’re drunk and you’re done,” she states when he attempts to resist.

 

He yells, “Let me go! I’m not finished.”

 

She shakes him by the shoulders roughly and replies calmly, “I get that you’re worried about Elena but you can’t go around accusing people. Let me do my job. Come on, I’ll send you home.”


She places a cautionary palm on the center of his upper back as a preventive measure in case he suddenly decides to go back into the grillhouse for another round. They both get into her assigned police cruiser and drive out of the parking lot.

Chapter Text

Quiet. In fact it was eerily silent in the abandoned, rundown mansion they have acquired near the border of Mystic Falls. The absence of screaming and crying can no longer be heard from the locked and guarded room. She only hears a very faint, tell-tale beat of the human heart that lets her know the doppelganger is still alive albeit barely.

 

This was never part of the plan. They were only supposed to locate and report back.

 

So engrossed in her thoughts and her fretful pacing, she fails to hear the tiny squeak of the door swinging open, allowing the harsh afternoon sunlight rays to stream inside. A portion of her body sizzles as a ray of blinding sunlight touches her skin and tiny smoke wisps appear. She hisses in pain and scrambles for cover in the shadows while her head snaps towards the open front door.

 

A lean silhouette male, roughly six feet tall, with short brown hair perfectly combed to one side stands at the doorway of blinding sunlight, surveying the interior contents of the house with disinterest. He was immaculately well-dressed in a tailored black dress jacket over a white shirt, matching dress pants and polished dress shoes. He takes a small step forward once his hazel brown eyes fall upon her.

 

He addresses her finally, “Rose-Marie, is there somewhere we can talk?”

 

She nods but remains where she is, safe from the sunlight. Unlike him, she had no daylight ring to protect her from the sun; she could only venture out when darkness took the skies. She replies, “Yes, in here. You’ll have to forgive the house.”

 

The man in the suit brushes a little dirt from his fingers and shuts the door. “Oh no, what’s a little dirt. I completely understand.” He walks past her and into a smaller corridor. She follows him until they reach a smaller room. He settles into the armchair and leans back elegantly before questioning her, “So tell me, what gives you the courage to call me?”

 

Rose stalls for a minute before replying, wondering how best to explain it without getting her killed in the process. “We found the Petrova Doppelganger in a quaint little town called Mystic Falls. Trevor has had other ludicrous ideas on the girl. I'm afraid he has gone mad during the years of constant searching. I should have contacted you long before he became delirious in exacting his revenge.”

 

He puts a hand up and she quietens immediately. A cold shiver creeps up her neck as she watches him narrow his eyes at her coldly and then he leans forwards in his seat. They had failed to uphold their end of the debt. He is going to kill them. There will be no pardons, just quick deaths. His head then tilts slightly to the left as if he was straining to focus onto something. A soft beat thumps faintly and then another beat, followed by another two beats thumping too quickly. It was then she realized he heard the doppelganger’s heartbeat.

 

“You have the doppelganger. Did you not understand my orders? I believed they were to only locate the doppelganger if she exists and then inform me,” his voice takes on a more gravel, serious tone.

 

Visibly, she gulps and forces herself not to step backwards when he begins to rise from the chair. “I’m so sorry, Elijah. I tried to stop him but he’s devious. He had a human compelled to do his bidding.”

 

He moves forward towards her and she stands rooted to the spot, paralyzed by her own fear and foolishness. A loud scream coming from the one of the many hidden rooms of the mansion halts his advances and he blurs past her, not before muttering in her ear.

 

“We shall continue this discussion once I deal with your little pet. What is his name these days? Trevor?”

 

She blinks once, unable to comprehend the girl’s scream had prolonged her life expectancy, and follows shortly.

 

By the time she arrives, the school teacher is lying sprawled on his stomach ahead, his empty eyes staring blankly and head twisted at a horrible angle. Behind him, the bolted, locked door from inside has been ripped apart by the hinges and thrown carelessly across the corridor. From her perceptive, Elijah has spun her best friend around, gripping the vampire’s windpipe callously.

 

“What is the meaning of this… despicable activity you are holding with the doppelganger?” His seriousness in his tone spoke volumes in the cramped windowless room.

 

Rose looks past the men to find the doppelganger bound in a demeaning position. She is stripped from her clothes, arms tied over her head by a rope attached to the ceiling and pulled tautly, her legs are spread apart, depicting a well-illustrated, upside-down Y. Her head lolls to one side. Rose doubts the human is even aware that she has an audience.

 

“My L-lord,” Trevor stutters in fright, “We weren’t ex-expecting you un-until n-next week.” He struggles to breathe as Elijah begins to crush his windpipe inch by inch, lifting him up into the air in such a way that only the tips of his shoes scrape the dirt-crusted floor.

 

“Did I not give specific instructions to you and Rose? Or has the dirt you constantly surround yourself with begun to clog your hearing?” Elijah speaks casually, as though they were exchanging mere pleasantries. He continues, boring holes into Trevor. “My instructions were simple; even a kindergarten child could understand. I specifically ordered you to remain out of sight, to only locate the doppelganger, and then return your findings to me. You were instructed to leave the girl unharmed. Had I known you were too inadequate for the job in which you expressly begged me to assign you…”

 

Trevor’s hands claw for purchase as he attempts to seek some breathing room. “I’m sorry, Elijah. I-I got carried away. Please forgive my transgression. I’m truly am,” Trevor chokes out, his frantic desperate hands fruitlessly grapple the elder vampire’s grip from the steely chokehold.

 

“Oh yes, you are the guilty one,” Elijah replies dismissively and turns around slightly to face her as he mentions her name, “Rose aided you because she was loyal to you, that I will honor.” He focuses his attention back to the struggling vampire and yanks him closer, his tone dropping to a whisper.

 

“Where was your loyalty?”

 

“I beg for your forgiveness. I swear this will not happened again,” Trevor gasps.

 

A long moment of silence descends upon the small room that Rose could only hear the girl’s shallow breathing. At long last the strained tension in the air begins to dissipate as Elijah replies pleasantly, “So granted.” His tone is carefully modulated that both Trevor and Rose release a sigh of relief that no bloodshed would bestow upon them.

 

Elijah sets Trevor gently down on his feet and smoothes his jacket of any wrinkles. She sends a fleeting, encouraging smile to her best friend - her brother. They had managed to escape death once again. Maybe someone up there is protecting them, keeping them together. She would make it up to him for her betrayal by getting him the help he needs.

 

Rose could see the disbelief in Trevor’s blue eyes that he had been forgiven. Somewhere deep down in her heart, she knows it is too good to be true. They have been indebted to Elijah for five hundred years. Klaus had wanted to execute them for their treacherous mistake which was underestimating the Petrova Doppelganger, Katerina. However, Elijah had intervened and allowed them to live, under the condition that they find the doppelganger in exchange for their miserable lives.

 

They had lost Katerina during the late 16th century; it was if she had disappeared off the face of the earth, or perhaps the cunning newborn vampire had seeked protection from a powerful witch or an enemy of Klaus. Her name was mentioned once in passing through another town during the late 19th century about a massacre of vampires who died in the fire caused by the humans.

 

They had spent their remainder of their lives slumming in back roads, dingy hole of bars drowning in their sorrows of the doppelganger getting the best of them once again. Whether it had been fate or just pure coincidence that Alaric Saltzman happened to frequent the same random bar, who was at that time also down on his luck, searching for a missing clue to his wife's disappearance.

 

Rose had sympathized with the human and they had listened to his story. Trevor had initially wanted to eat him for brunch but she had stopped him because the tale had begun to intrigue her. His wife had spent four years of her life researching supernatural creatures; mainly vampires. She felt reminded of her sire, Mary Porter who had been a Klaus fanatic worshipper. This Isobel had sounded like a vampire fanatic too.

 

They hadn't thought it was remotely possible for another doppelganger to exist when the school teacher had contacted Trevor. They had initially been skeptical and she had requested for proof. The human had provided a photograph of the young doppelganger and from there led them to this inevitable situation, their lives in Elijah Mikaelson's hands.

 

"Thank you Elijah. I promise I'll make good on my word this will never happen again," Trevor gushes his gratitude ceaselessly.

 

"Yes you will," the Original replies and in a decisive move, his hand thrusts straight into Trevor’s chest and rips his heart out, leaving a gaping hole.

 

Rose flings herself into the cemented wall flabbergasted, her hand reaching to cover the horror of Trevor’s lifeless body falling onto the ground, his pale skin transforming into ashen, his organ lay discarded beside him. He had been her best friend, her brother, her family. He may not have had the best qualities of a friend or a brother but he was all she’d had for five hundred years and now, she was all alone.

 

Her legs fail to support her weight and she collapses to the ground.

 

"Why?" She barely recognizes herself whispering the question aloud. She watches Elijah pull out a clean white handkerchief from his suit jacket pocket and wipes Trevor’s blood off his bloodied hand.

 

"Don't. Rose. I do not condone failure. Now that you are free, there is just one last thing I need you to do and then you are free to roam wherever you please," Elijah tells her before moving towards the covered furniture. He removes the white drape and strides towards the bound half-conscious doppelganger.

 

In one swift tug, he pulls the restraints holding the girl and wraps the white cloth over her naked body. The doppelganger collapses immediately, having no strength to hold herself up. Elijah catches her frail body easily and carries her to the uncovered couch, depositing her in a gentle manner as he kneels on one bended knee.

 

The girl is too weak and tired that she barely responds. Rose catches the dryness in the girl's cracked voice as she pleads, "N-n-no.... more... please... be... good..."

 

Elijah pulls his dress jacket sleeve away from his wrist and brings it up to his lips, a pair of fangs peek out from under. They pierce into his skin and he brings his wrist down onto the doppelganger's dry cracked lips. As he feeds her some of his blood, he murmurs softly "Forget the last twenty-four hours of your time spent here." He caresses her cheek and pulls his wrist back, giving her just enough to replenish some of her energy. He continues speaking, "I apologize for what that vile creature has done to you. You need not fret, little one. He will never lay a hand on you again."

 

Elijah rises to his full height and addresses her. "Let the doppelganger rest for a bit. Find her clothes, dress her and drop her off at the edge of the town border."

 

He casts one more glance at the now covered girl resting on the couch and his voice drops so low that even she has to strain to hear him whisper "Amazing. She looks exactly like her."

 

It makes Rose wonder if the Original was speaking of Katerina or perhaps of the original Petrova Doppelganger herself. Elijah then fastens the top button on his suit jacket and proceeds to make his exit, daintily stepping over the dead school teacher.

 


 

John Gilbert hears plenty of people screaming and a lot of gunfire coming from the living room. Did someone forget to switch the television off? He walks down the stairs while adjusting his black tie and pops his head into the room to discover his nephew still in his sweats and engrossed in a game. His face scrunches with determination as his thumbs fly nimbly all over the controller.

 

Why is Jeremy not dressed yet?

 

The Founder’s Day Party was due to start in an hour. All the founding families were required to attend as it was tradition for centuries.

 

"Jeremy," John calls and frowns when the teenager doesn't acknowledge him. He repeats again and gradually increases the volume.

 

Jeremy finally turns his head towards him and greets him, "Hey Uncle John. You’re looking good."

 

"Why haven’t you changed?" He asks Jeremy who has turned his attention back to the television screen but has turned the volume down.

 

"Oh I'm not going," Jeremy replies.

 

"Nonsense. You’re a Gilbert and its tradition," he states stubbornly and then turns around to see Jenna walking down the stairs, all dressed up and ready to go. "Can you please talk sense into him?"

 

Surprisingly she nods and steps into the living room. Jeremy, upon seeing Jenna, whines petulantly, “Oh don't make me go please Aunt Jenna. It's boring every year."

 

Jenna just chuckles and ruffles Jeremy’s hair. She replies, "Make sure you're in bed before 11pm. I don't want to come back to see you still gaming away."

 

John yells at her with annoyance, “You’re supposed to get him to change. We’re one of the founding families and with that distinction comes certain obligations including going to the party. One day-"

 

She turns back, interrupting his petty tirade with a roll of her eyes. "It will be our role to break the tradition. Besides,he's fifteen. He can't drink. There's absolutely no reason to force a teenager to go when the party is full of to-be drunks anyways."

 

He feels Jenna pushing him past the front door while handing over her car key before she continues speaking, “When he hits eighteen, you can enforce the mandatory Gilbert rule. I won’t try to stop you nor assist you. I’m not a Gilbert so I was never cool enough." She smirks at him half-amused and gets into the car. He follows and enters the driver’s side. John slides the car key into the ignition and switches the gears to drive.

 

The SUV rolls out of the driveway and begins to head towards the direction of the Lockwood mansion where the party was to be held.

 


 

At the edge of the town border in which a wide signage states "Welcome to Mystic Falls!" A black vehicle has parked along the roadside; the driver's head turns to the side to find the passenger asleep in the seat and then refocuses back to the road. Rose peers at the thick dark canvass above her. With the moon out, it was easier to notice thick clouds gathering and she could smell the rain in the night air. A storm is coming.

 

This won't do. She won't make it.

 

A long sigh escapes and she shifts the gear shift back into drive. She will drop the girl off a few lanes away from her house despite having orders not to enter town. She would have followed his instructions to the letter if she hadn't seen the aftermath after she had found the girl’s clothes bunched in the corner of the room. She had peeled the white cloth covering the girl’s modesty to discover the sheer amount of red marks all over the girl’s body. He had been torturing her. It was abhorrent.

 

Twenty minutes later, the brunette wakes the doppelganger up who stares back in confusion. “Get out," she hears herself command the human. "This is the nearest I can go."

 

Patiently, Rose waits in the vehicle as the doppelganger clumsily unfastens her seat belt and opens the door. She doesn't peel out of the curbside immediately; instead she watches the girl amble her way down the lane. A thick fat blob of water splashes onto her windshield followed by a couple more.

 


 

Walk home, the woman in the SUV says. Her movements feel lethargic as if she has just woken; her body aches as though it had when she had gone through freshmen summer boot camp. Her teeth chatters from the cold harsh night. Her head feels fuzzy.

 

Who was that woman and what was she doing there?

 

Her parents told her never to take a ride from strangers. The wind howls loudly into her ears and presses against her back as she tries to walk against the current. Her hands pull the sleeves of her dark turtleneck to hide them while her arms cross each other in an attempt to keep any leftover body heat. She is startled when droplets of water fall onto her shivering body and seep into the thin material of her clothes.

 

She quickens her speed until she spots a familiar-looking house with a bench swing on the porch. By the time she reaches the porch, she is drenched from head to her converse sneakers. She can’t stop chattering as she bends down to pick up the key under the welcome mat. Her fingers close around the metallic house key and she grips it tightly as she can.

 

So cold. Need to get inside, her dull mind orders her trembling fingers to work the key into the keyhole but they keep missing its goal. A half sob turns into a series of sneezes escape past her quivering pale lips during the same time her head knocks against the front door.

 

She’s so exhausted that she loses her footing at the exact moment the door opens. She feels gravity pulling her to the ground but a pair of arms catch her and help her inside. She hears a loud yet distant shouting around her but she can’t make out the words. The arms settle her down on an elevated level; she doesn’t know how but it doesn’t matter.

 

She’s inside. Safe from the cold. Her head leans against the solid wall and she peers tiredly when a pair of arms swim into her vision and cover her drenched body with a thick towel. A fuzzy image of a teenager with short brown hair is kneeling before her and moving his lips rapidly enters her vision.

 

She blinks confusedly at him and doesn’t say a word. They stay like that for a long moment and very slowly, her senses begin to return. Her vision begins to sharpen on this male teenager pulling out his phone with his free hand and presses against his ear while the other holds her hand tightly.

 

He gives her a relieved, watery smile and then he speaks into the phone. She doesn’t know who is on the other end of the line but she recognizes him to be her brother.

 

“Jer,” she whispers and her head begins to throb and she closes her eyes. His grip tightens and her ears pick out his rambling over the phone.

 

“Hey, it’s me. Elena… She’s back. Where are you?”

 

 

Chapter Text

Along the border of Mystic Falls, two vehicles coming from different directions accelerate towards each other on the long stretch of road under heavy pellets of rain pummeling the vehicles' windshields; against violent wind currents thrashing the sides of both Porsche and SUV. Right at the point when both vehicles cruise speedily past, the driver of the SUV exiting town turns to give the other driver a disbelieving stare that was ignored by the brunette woman. She reaches to the passenger seat and plucks her mobile. Without taking her eyes off the road, she hits answer and presses the speakers against her ear.

 

"Hello?"

 

It is her informant on the other end. Katherine picks up on Jeremy Gilbert's panicked voice. "Hey, it's me. Elena’s back. Where are you?"

 

Her breathing quickens as she floors the accelerator immediately, sending her vehicle to its limits. "I'm on my way. Is she okay? What's wrong?!" She replies, detecting a slight waver in his voice.

 

"She came home drenched. I asked her what happened and she said she walked home..." Gilbert trails off uncertainly. Katherine's lips contorts into a frown as she peers up dubiously at the cascading downpour. There must be more to it. How could anyone walked home in this weather without an umbrella? Even as a vampire, she couldn't beat the storm with her speed. Instead, she replies, “I'm almost there. Make sure no one interrupts us."

 

Ten minutes later, Katherine had sped past all the lights not caring if she had caused some accidents along the way. She parks near the Gilbert’s house and speeds to the front porch, knocking the front door hurriedly. The front door swings open a couple of minutes later, revealing a worried Jeremy. He steps aside and she enters, her eyes scanning the interiors for her doppelganger.

 

"She's upstairs in the bathroom. They left for the Founder’s Party so it's just us," he states.

 

Katherine blurs upstairs to Elena’s bedroom and simultaneously removing her jacket, draping it over the desk chair and then parks her boots nearby before she cautiously pushes the bathroom door open. Her bare feet pad quietly against the cold smooth textures of the beige-colored tiles. Elena is sitting against the side of the bathtub, hugging both her knees against her chest.

 

"Elena?"

 

Her doppelganger is so lost in thought that she doesn't acknowledge her until Katherine walks in front of Elena and kneels gracefully so as to be on the same eye level as the younger girl.

 

She repeats again, "Elena?"

 

The corner of her lips tug downwards into a slight frown and the lines of her forehead crease in concern. Her hazel doe-eyed irises are too unfocused that they look right past Katherine as though she was an apparition. Determined to elicit a reaction from her doppelganger, Katherine brushes her thumb against Elena’s cheek and receives a startled violent flinch instead.

 

"I'm not going to hurt you, Elena," Katherine says quietly as if she was speaking to a wounded animal. Her thumb continues caressing the younger girl's cheek to maintain some sort of physical contact while she waits patiently for Elena to return to her.

 

A long moment passes with still no response from Elena that had the older vampire to become increasingly worried.

 

How long has she been sitting there in her drenched clothes? Why hasn’t Gilbert given her a fresh pair? At this rate, she could catch pneumonia.

 

"K-Katherine?"

 

A faint whisper of her name cuts into Katherine's panicked thoughts and the older vampire forces herself to push forth a confident smirk to hide the bubbling relief coursing through her entire being.

 

"Welcome back princess."

 

As soon as the words tumble out, Elena flings herself at Katherine who catches her easily, even though she had no preparation for Elena’s spontaneous action. She catches Elena mumbling "You’re back.... You came back..."

 

"And I'm not going anywhere," Katherine finishes, one hand gliding around to wrap Elena’s waist whilst the other rubs her hand soothingly against the younger girl's wet turtleneck, not minding that the front of her shirt and leggings are getting  soaked upon contact. Elena shivers and sneezes violently in Katherine’s embrace, reminding the vampire of the human's puny immune system.

 

"How about I run you a hot bath? Let's get you warmed up," Katherine suggests and hears Elena whisper a quiet "kay" in response but makes no motion to move.

 

Katherine reluctantly breaks the embrace and sends an encouraging smile to Elena. She tugs the turtleneck up. "Take them off," she orders, moving past Elena to turn on the hot water. She holds her hand under the faucet until the water runs hot and then puts the stopper in the drain. The tub begins to fill with water.

 

She turns back around to find Elena exactly where she left her. She hasn't moved an inch, her eyes dark staring straight ahead, although she had removed her arms from the turtleneck sleeves but she hadn't taken it off completely. Katherine sighs and kneels again, her hands move to the ends of Elena’s soaked top. Without much difficulty, she bunches the woolen material in her hands and lifts them over Elena’s head.

 

She sucks in a breath at the angry red marks covering her Elena’s chest, breasts and torso. Her bra is missing too. She pulls Elena to her feet and lets her lean against the bathroom counter, before unbuttoning and unzipping her jeans. She sighs with unadulterated relief upon discovering her younger doppelganger’s panties are still intact, however her thighs and the inner areas had received the same treatment. She pulls the thin flimsy wet cotton along with the heavy denim clinging to Elena’s legs and helps her step out.

 

Despite sensing a wave of pure fear that surrounds her doppelganger, Katherine could still smell shame and an aura of musk sex oozing out of the shivering girl before her. She zeroes into Elena’s cunt and notices the sensitive flesh is pinkish in color.

 

She looks up to find Elena staring. Katherine forces a smile and then her lips turn into a grim line as her eyes narrow at a blueish tint on Elena’s neck. She rises slowly and gracefully so as to not scare the younger girl away. Her fingers tilts Elena’s chin up and cranes her head down to inspect the strange discoloration. Her neck had large dark bruises scattering across her throat.

 

"Did Alaric do this to you?"

 

Elena stays silent to at Katherine’s question but allows the older vampire to guide her into the filled bathtub. Keeping a firm grip on Elena’s arm, Katherine watches Elena step gingerly into the tub, hissing quietly at the heat of the water. She lowers herself back to a kneeling position as Elena settles into the water. She had already rolled her sleeves and leggings up so as to not let them be splattered with water. Katherine grabs a washcloth and lathers it with soap, and begins to wash the younger girl quietly, starting with her arms.

 

She gently glides the lathered cloth down her bicep, past her elbow, and finishes at Elena’s bare wrist. Katherine notes her wrist was devoid of the vervain bracelet Stefan had given to her. She knows her doppelganger knows the importance of wearing vervain. She wouldn’t take it off, not unless there was a plausible reason. Katherine motions for her other arm and does the same, this time noticing that both wrists had faded rope burns instead.

 

Her informant, Jeremy Gilbert who she had compelled a couple of months ago before taking off, had texted her some partial details of Alaric Saltzman giving Elena a ride and that she never came home after that. And now she claims she walked home from wherever he supposedly took her.

 

Elena’s bruises on her throat, the marks covering the front of her body that Katherine recognized to be from being flogged with a whip, the rope burns on her wrists; she was tortured by someone. Her doppelganger gets punished instead of her.

 

Why? Is it because they think I'm dead and Elena is somehow easier to capture, considering her human status? How did they know about her in the first place? She had thought she was one of the few who were aware of her existence. She scoffs internally at the sudden thought of Stefan discovering Elena first; it was purely accidental that the sentimental retired Ripper of a fool met her doppelganger in the first place.

 

And then there's something within herself she can't quite describe because it feels so foreign to her; it's almost alien that she doesn’t know what to think or what to feel. She feels an indescribable, intense bundle of emotions in her chest trying to break through the surface and she hates herself for feeling it.

 

“On your knees so I can get to your chest and back.”

 

Elena complies quietly and Katherine continues lathering Elena’s chest and stomach, taking care not to cause her more pain. She refocuses her attention back to Elena who hasn’t said a single word about her ordeal other than uttering her name.

 

“What happened to your vervain bracelet, Elena?”

 

Maybe I should start with something non-threatening and work my way up…? Get some answers that could hopefully paint a picture. At the same time, Katherine shoves the smoldering, threatening emotions down, refusing to deal with them now and certainly not with an audience; no matter how spaced out Elena appears to be.

 

Elena brushes her fingers over the other bare wrist and furrows in concentration for a moment. Katherine pretends not to notice the tiny frown appearing on her lips or the way her hands begin to shyly cover her breasts and private area. She continues working on the back of Elena’s neck and shoulders, before moving to her unmarked back which could mean Elena was lying down or perhaps had her back leaning against something.

 

“I gave it to Caroline… She needed it more than I did,” Elena replies quietly.

 

Katherine shakes her head to Elena’s answer. It was so typical of her doppelganger to be such a selfless, kind person, always tending to other people’s needs before her own. They were complete opposites; she has always placed her needs and priorities first because she learnt through time and experience that no one was going to look out for you, not when you’re the key to a psychotic Original vampire’s curse.

 

“All done. Lie back down so I can wash your hair,” she instructs, shifting slightly on her knees. Once Elena has resumed her previous position, Katherine slides a hand behind Elena’s neck for support as she orders Elena to tilt her head back, allowing her long rain-damp locks to submerge into the water. She then squirts some shampoo into her hands and begins massaging Elena’s scalp gently. She runs her fingers through Elena’s hair until the lather starts to run down the back of her neck.

 

“What was the last thing you remembered?” Katherine questions as she continues massaging Elena’s scalp. Her hair was sufficiently lathered up but she knows the action would help to relax the younger girl’s nerves as it did previously.

 

Except for a slight crease between her eyebrows, Elena’s face is serene, her eyes shut lightly. Katherine lets her gaze linger for just a moment on the droplets of water on her eyelashes and the way her hair looks entwined in her own fingers. Elena’s eyelids flutter open sleepily, and her eyes take a second or two to focus. She makes a noncommittal sound before replying, “I remembered going to Grove Hill to talk to someone who knew about my birth mother and then this strange man told me not to search for her anymore before killing himself....”

 

Elena abruptly pauses in mid-sentence and her body, no longer shivering, goes rigid and tense. Katherine takes note and continues her scalp massage as if nothing was out of ordinary. She had been present when Elena had called Isobel but that was roughly five days ago. Instead she asks, “Do you remember what happened the day before after school?”

 

Wide hazel eyes snap up in panic and her voice shakes as she stutters, “School? I-I don’t remember attending...”

 

So she’s been compelled which clearly means Alaric Saltzman isn’t working alone. But who would hurt Elena Gilbert? Damon’s got a large soft spot for me; he wouldn’t harm her doppelganger anyway. She’s too vanilla for him. It’s definitely not Stefan; he wouldn’t dream of hurting precious little Elena. And if it’s not the Salvatores, then it has to be a former enemy or stalker.

 

Katherine sighs deeply, trying to filter through the large pool of enemies down. There were too many of them and most of them were Klaus’s troublesome minions and his group of witches.

 

She pulls the plug out of the tub to drain the water and grabs the showerhead with one hand while the other holds Elena steadily so she can rinse Elena’s hair and any soap residue coating her body. When she is done, she helps Elena out of the tub and wraps her frail battered body with a thick fluffy towel. Katherine very carefully dries Elena off, patting more than rubbing and getting every inch of her, especially her hair.

 

"Almost done," Katherine coos softly at hearing Elena’s pained whimper when the towel brushes a particularly sensitive spot. She gently guides Elena back to her bedroom and lets her sit at the edge of the bed, before she heads towards the wardrobe and pulls out an over-sized baggy shirt for Elena that comes down to the top of her knees. Katherine pulls back the bedspread and lets Elena settle in. She steps out of her damp clothes, leaving her in just her lingerie and takes her place next to Elena.

 

She pulls the duvet covers over both of them and then wraps an arm around Elena’s waist to secure her snugly. She feels Elena shifts closer and then only quiet sniffling can be heard. Her voice cracks and Katherine brushes her thumb to wipe the tears spilling onto her cheeks.

 

“You’re safe. I’m going to find who did this to you and I will make them pay,” Katherine promises quietly.

 

No one gets to torture her doppelganger...except me, her subconscious swims to the forefront of her mind. Elena was still the key to her freedom. That’s different; it’d be quick and painless, she argues back.

 

She rubs her hand up and down Elena’s back until the younger girl has calmed and her breathing becomes even, with the occasional hiccup. She hears Elena say quietly, “Ric… He was here that night, in my bedroom… waiting for me.”

 

Katherine presses a chaste kiss against Elena’s forehead and begins humming an old lullaby from her childhood past, letting the melody wash over her doppelganger until she falls asleep.

 


 

Same time, Lockwood Mansion

 

John Gilbert sits upright on the carpeted floor in the middle of the darkened room, massaging his neck with a wince. That went rather well. Lesson learned: don’t threaten a vampire alone. He finds himself alone in one of the many private entertainment rooms of the Lockwood mansion, away from the party; he can hardly hear the sounds of oblivious party-goers chattering and laughing.

 

They have no clue there’s a vampire right under their noses, waiting to strike when the moment is right.

 

He gets up from the floor, dusting his suit jacket and walks out of the room with a smirk. Damon Salvatore won’t know what hit him until he’s done. John stops a waiter along the way and says with a pleasant smile. “Open the bottles of champagne I brought and serve it to everyone.”

 

He stands in front of a mirror and re-adjusts his black tie and smoothes his hair, before strolling back to the main section where the party was being held. He stands out of sight by a column pillar and observes with narrowed eyes the way this dark-haired vampire flashes a bright pearly white grin to Carol Lockwood and chats animatedly to Elizabeth Forbes. Jenna joins the energetic group and she converses with Forbes who then follows her towards the bar, leaving just Damon Salvatore and Carol together. Richard moves towards the grand podium and stands on the elevated platform so he has everyone’s attention focused onto him.

 

John grabs a glass of champagne from the waiter’s tray and moves into the crowd, careful not to alert his presence to the vampire. A tiny crooked smirk forms as Damon picks the champagne-filled glass as well as all the party-goers in the room. He turns his attention back to Richard who has raised his voice to speak over the laughter and noises.

 

“Thank you all, thank you very much for joining us tonight in just a few minutes, we will officially begin the countdown for our upcoming founders’ day celebration and it’s a very special one this year. The one hundred fiftieth birthday of our town.” Richard announces and nods towards him, continuing his speech “John Gilbert, would you please join me up here?”

 

John smiles at Richard and joins him on the platform to stand on his left. Whilst waiting patiently for the applause to settle and shouts of “Welcome Back” to die down, he sees Damon furrow his brows and narrows his dark eyes at him. He meets Damon and sends a confident smile as if to say: Do I now have your attention?

 

“One hundred and fifty years of community, prosperity, family. We take care of each other, we look after each other, and we protect each other,” John glances around the familiar founding members of the secret town council and the other party-goers as they hang onto his words and nod in agreement. He settles his gaze to Damon wearing a calculating expression on his face. “It’s good to be home.” He raises his glass of champagne and the crowd follows. A short, momentary pause and the vampire curls his lips to a grin and raises his own mockingly.

 

“To family,” John finishes and lifts his glass to his lips. As he takes a sip, he watches the crowd mirror his actions and then he sets his sight onto one Damon Salvatore taking a big gulp of the champagne. He watches with glee as Damon Salvatore bends down at the waist and spits out the drink and saliva onto the polished floor. He starts coughing harshly and Forbes rubs his back asking if he was alright. John steps forward and catches Damon breathing harshly and turning his face away from her.

 

“S’fine. Went down… wrong tube…” Damon sputters and coughs intermittently between words.

 

“Everything alright? I hope you aren’t allergic to vervain. One can’t be careful these days,” John makes his way over to the group. The crowd around them has gone back to their previous activities, of more drinking and eating. He seethes internally at the two women worrying over the vampire. Carol plucks a napkin from a tray by a passing waiter and hands it to Damon who immediately takes it and wipes his mouth.

 

“That’s absurd, John. We have him to thank for supplying us with vervain,” Carol replies in a low voice. Elizabeth interrupts John with an arched brow and rubs Damon’s back in a soothing manner.

 

He feels a tap on his shoulder and turns around to see Richard tilting his head towards his den. He lets himself be pulled away to the Mayor’s private office. Once they have settled into the lounge and the windows and doors are shut tightly, Richard nurses his glass of scotch before meeting his eyes. “I can’t believe you put vervain into the champagne. What were you thinking?” He shakes his head in disbelief and switches the topic. “Anyway, we’ve run into a problem with the plan. What are you doing?”

 

John interrupts Richard and turns on the radio. His tone drops to the Mayor’s confusion and he jerks his head back towards the shut door. “The walls have ears, Richard. We have a vampire in our midst. Damon Salvatore’s one of them and I bet you his brother is one as well.”

 

Richard just stares at him and asks, “How do you know all of this?”

 

He takes a sip from his drink before replying, “I had a hunch and a reliable source. Think about it. The timing of the animal attacks started roughly around the same time Damon Salvatore and his brother arrived to our town. There is not one single doubt in my bones that believes Vicki Donovan just ran away.”

 

John stands up and moves towards the window, peering out at the thunderous clouds and rain drops hitting the window panels. “So what’s the problem?”

 

Richard replies, “We seem to be missing a mechanical part, a small piece of cog that activates the Gilbert device.”

 

“I’ll check the Gilbert journals again,” was John’s only reply before letting the melodious song fill the silence in the room.

 


 

Same time, somewhere in Mystic Falls

 

The SUV screeches to an abrupt halt, its tires skidding against the slippery wet asphalt road. The pixie-haired brunette whips her head with incredulity at the red Porsche cruising at an insane speed into Mystic Falls, disappearing gradually out of sight.

 

That’s impossible. I just dropped the doppelganger off… unless that was… but it can’t be. Multiple sources have confirmed that Katherine Pierce died in the fire.

 

It couldn’t be just a mere coincidence that she happens to bring the doppelganger back to town and Katherine just happens to be here or… Did she just get here…?

 

What is she doing here?

 

Rose dials a number and presses the phone to her ear. The receiver picks up immediately and a composed, elegant rich-accented English voice speaks. “Hello Rose. All is well, I hope?”

 

“Yes, I dropped the doppelganger off. I thought you should know that Katerina is alive and in Mystic Falls.”

 

“Are you sure?” Elijah implores.

 

Rose nods and replies, “Absolutely. She sped right past me. It appears our sources have been greatly misled.” She hears Elijah thanking her and ends the call. She releases the brakes and resumes driving along the long stretch of road towards her new-found freedom. Katherine Pierce alive isn’t her problem anymore; it’s his and Klaus.

 

 

Chapter Text

"You’re so cute when you do that."

 

The rough calloused hand slides from her clothed waist to the end of the over-sized baggy shirt that she is currently wearing and snakes itself underneath. Flesh meets soft creamy flesh. She squirms slightly in her sleep, eyebrows furrow and her eyes shut tightly while her head nuzzled further into her soft pillow; her thighs rub against each other at the familiarity of its voice. The hand glides past her belly to her naked chest, her shirt riding up past her hips from its movement. An invisible grin emerges as its hand goes back down to cup her fleshy firm behind, its stubby greedy fingers poking at the entrance of her tiny tight pucker.

 

She swats the hand away, muttering into the pillow, still heavy with sleep. "Stop it, Katherine."

 

"Now it's Katherine? I never pegged you for a narcissist, Elena. Then again, after discovering your love for vibrators? Makes a lot of sense."

 

She blinks and squints into the darkness until a hazy image forms before her. Katherine was nowhere to be seen. It's just her and Ric whose maniacal smile curves and stretches widely at her disheveled state. Hastily, she scrambles on all fours to the other end of the bed.

 

"You can run but you can't hide."

 

His breath drowns of liquor as he rips the bed sheets from her bruised body. It felt like deja vu all over again. She was powerless and helpless to stop his onslaught. Terrified screams tear out from the base of her throat as he catches her ankle and pulls her back towards him, chuckling darkly at her pitiful attempts. He flips her over to her back as her legs kick the empty air. Her shirt rides up all the way to her chest, revealing her nakedness. His hand begins undoing the buckle of his belt. She kicks harder and he lunges at her with an angry snarl that has her squeezing her eyes shut and curling into a ball to brace herself for the impact.

 

Instead, a gentle kiss on her cheek jolts her. Elena blinks and stares at her double nudging her in the side.

 

"It's going to burn, Elena."

 

She looks down at the metal skewer pierced with two burnt marshmallows that she is holding in her hand. She takes in her surroundings wide-eyed. How did I get here?

 

This place looks strangely familiar; they’re in a campsite, sitting around a small fire pit and they aren’t alone. She was surrounded by her friends - Caroline, Bonnie, Matt, and Tyler. They were sitting on wood logs facing each other that they formed a triangle with the fire pit in the center. The cold night wind breeze caresses her and she suppresses a shiver. She rubs her arms to warm herself and at that moment upon contact, she realizes that she’s wearing a baby pink parka with a matching set of gloves and neutral ugg boots. Discreetly, she turns to find Katherine also in similar winter attire like her friends. However, the older vampire was wearing a black parka with a scarlet scarf to match.

 

I don’t understand. I was in my bedroom and he… he was there and you were gone! What’s going on?

 

It was as if Katherine had sensed her confusion because she quietly explains, “You were having a nightmare so I switched to a happier memory.”

 

Elena just stares at her, slack-jawed. You never left. It was just… a bad dream. She remembers that this particular memory was before everything went downhill, when her parents were still alive; they had organized a trip with her best friends to the campsite during her eighth grade year.

 

“You can do that?”

 

Katherine quirks her lips in reply and takes two even pieces of Graham crackers from a plate nearby. She presses them against her own evenly toasted marshmallow and slides the warm, sticky golden brown marshmallow out of her skewer.

 

“Here, have mine instead,” she says while offering it to Elena who gingerly takes it and begins nibbling the edges. She feels Katherine's comforting fingers running through her locks and leans towards her touch.

 


 

Katherine watches as Elena discreetly puff her lips to cool the hot s’more before nibbling at the snack as if she was a hamster. Her friends are in their own world, laughing and sharing horror stories together. Their laughter and mock screaming fade gradually as though they were sitting at a distance. As she ponders about making a s’more for herself, the metal skewer vanishes from her grip.

 

How odd.

 

A couple of flames jump out of the pit and begin to scatter around her, spreading rapidly until they combine in unison and form a wide circle. Her fingers grab empty air when she tries to grab Elena to shield her from the hungry flames, but the younger girl had vanished into thin air as well as her friends. Spinning on the spot, she watches helplessly as her surroundings blur in color until they solidify into a deep green forest clearing filled with tall, silent gloomy trees.

 

“Elena!” Katherine shouts frantically, but no reply comes forth except for her yell echoing into the darkness. When she attempts to speed past the fiery circle, it was as though they read her mind and the flames began to grow in height, robbing her of any exits and spitting at her when she strays too close to the fiery edge.

 

A dark, tall figure begins walking towards her from the thickly forested woods. Annoyance creeps into her thoughts. This isn’t funny anymore. It started out great and now Elena’s missing. Damn it! I’m in control here!

 

“Who are you? Where’s Elena?” Katherine shouts at the stranger whilst dodging the hungry, blistering flames licking at her heels. She raises her hand to her eyebrows and squints into the darkness. She is certain the stranger is indeed a man taking his precious time strolling towards her.

 

Who the hell is that?

 

She could see the outline of this man’s features as the flames illuminate him more clearly. He was certainly an attractive man with the lightest shade of blue eyes. He had medium-length, curled dirty-blonde hair. He had such a delicate but masculine familiar face as though she had met him before.

 

It's too late to do anything as her throat clamps up, choking her of the scream forming at the base of her throat. Vine-like tendrils of terror curl into her belly and begin to work its way up her ribs, obstructing her breathing while the other tendrils move to wrap around her thighs and legs, binding her tightly to the spot.

 

He stops at the edge of the fiery wall and gives her his diabolical signature smirk. “I think you know exactly who I am, Katerina.”

 


 

Katherine jolts up from her sleep, shaking and sweating from fear. Frantic thoughts run through her mind as she tries valiantly to shake them off. Does he know I’m alive? Does he know the doppelganger exists?

 

Her fingers run through the number of accessories on her left wrist as she attempts to breathe normally. Some of her bangles were purely for show; she was specifically looking for the bracelet made by a devilish, powerful ally who had one of his witches fashion a cloaking spell to hide her presence from Klaus Mickaelson and then bonded the spell onto a bracelet charmed to be everlasting. It had allowed her to blend in successfully for the past four centuries. She lets out a soft, wet laugh at finding her silver charm bracelet still intact and whole like the witch had promised. Maybe after the centuries she’d spent running, she had grown to be as paranoid as Klaus himself.

 

A soft, delicate sigh enters Katherine’s hearing and she looks down to find Elena pressed against her, sleeping soundly. She smiles at her oblivious doppelganger and smoothes the bedspread over her body. She kisses Elena on the lips lightly and drops another on her forehead, her thumb tracing the contours of her ear and then gliding down to the back of her neck. Elena's neck feels warmer than before which made Katherine pause. Her eyes narrow on Elena’s shivering form as she discovers her flushed skin and quiet sniffling.

 

Initially, she had thought her sniffles were due to the pain Alaric had caused, but it seemed like her doppelganger had managed to catch a cold and fever. It was then realization dawned upon her: Klaus had no idea she was still alive; it had been Elena’s feverish skin all along that triggered her nightmare. Relieved, she resettles down next to Elena and wraps her tightly, before drifting back to sleep.

 

Dawn arrives too quickly and the sound of soft pattering increasing in volume and heading towards the bedroom interrupts her rest. Katherine slides out of the bed reluctantly, having enjoyed basking in the warmth of their embrace. She grabs her clothes from the floor and puts them on quickly while laughing to herself quietly as she half-stumbles and half-hops with one boot on.

 

By the time the bedroom door swings open, Katherine had escaped through the open window and pressed her back flat against the back of the Gilbert house, fully dressed without her jacket. She catches a flash of blonde hair before the curtains are drawn again and the window latches shut with a click.

 

If Elena has returned, then Alaric must be too.

 

With that thought in mind, she heads over to Alaric’s apartment. After compelling the landlord for Saltzman’s apartment number, Katherine scowls at the empty apartment. Not wanting to leave empty-handed, she begins her own investigation. She opens every drawer, cabinet, and doors of the bastard’s spartan apartment. She tears apart his boring wardrobe and opens every box in his cramped closet. She combs through every single unopened box in his storage and ignores everything that was related to Isobel. His apartment was too damn clean for someone who had been here for six months.

 

Katherine drops onto the desk chair tiredly and half-heartedly checks the drawers of what supposedly looks like his work desk. The desk appears more worn than the rest of the furniture in the apartment and she could only conclude that he’d spent a lot of time sitting in this chair doing whatever. She manages to open every drawer of this desk except for the top left drawer.

 

Bingo!

 

Her eyes light up and her lips tilt upward in a canny way as she yanks the locked drawer out of its socket with a swift precise tug. Inside the drawer, she discovers an odd silver cuff sitting inconspicuously on top of a thick white package. She picks it up and feels a strange, weird tingling numbness in her fingers. The cuff drops down with a thud and bounces harmlessly off the package as Katherine jerks her hand back sharply.

 

How did Alaric get his hands on this… magical artifact? He can’t be working alone which begs to question on who hired him.

 

Katherine returns her focus on to the plain white envelope and pulls out several photographs of her. Upon closer inspection, she realizes that these were all about Elena Gilbert going about her daily activities - going to school, hanging out at the grill house with her best friends, grocery shopping with Jenna Sommers, practicing her cheerleading routines on the school field, and many more. She growls at the very last photo of her doppelganger wearing a flowery dress sitting on a bench with her legs spread apart, revealing her shaved and protruding cunt. Elena had both of her hands covering her face ashamedly. She crushes the photograph in her fist and snarls at the empty apartment.

 

How dare he… How dare he force my doppelganger, my Elena to pose in a degraded manner?!

 

Katherine speeds into the kitchen and rummaged around until she finds a brown lunch bag and a clean dish towel. She uses the towel to wrap around the cuff and brings it to eye level to inspect. The insignia looks familiar; it was as though she had seen it before during her travels. She drops the accessory into the paper bag, just as her sharp hearing picks up noises coming from outside of the apartment.

 

So the cops are also investigating Saltzman’s disappearance. Fantastic! I'll leave these for them to discover.

 

She shoves the drawer back to its respective slot loudly but leaves it slightly ajar. She hides near the doorway with a smirk and rolling eyes as she impatiently waits for two fresh rookies to walk towards the suspiciously loud bang, bypassing her completely. With their backs facing her, she speeds out of the apartment and slams the door as she exits. An impish grin flitters onto her features upon overhearing one of the rookies asking the other if the place was haunted.

 


 

In the Gilbert household

 

Katherine wanders into the den to discover John Gilbert digging into a box filled with old journals. She saunters inside and leans against the front of the desk where he flips through a couple of hastily scribbles of Jonathan's handwritten notes.

 

"So what mysterious device are you looking for?"

 

He jumps in his seat and scrambles to shut one of the journals that have been left open for her to decipher the upside-down scribbles.

 

"Elena, you should be in bed..." John says slowly, staring at her and gets up from the chair to walk around the desk. She feels his palm guiding her out and rolls her eyes. Honestly, she wasn't even trying to play pretend and she has managed to fool him.

 

She whirls around suddenly, catching him off guard. "Are you for real?" She hissed sharply and shoves him back.

 

John recovers quickly and glares at her. "Katherine, what are you doing here?"

 

She folds her arms and leans against the opposite wall. "Helping you obviously," she quips back and rolls her eyes for good measure.

 

"Where's Isobel?"

 

"Busy. There's been a change of plans. Your daughter knows the truth … but I doubt she realizes her real father is a coward."

 

John frowns at her reply, before asking quietly. "What do you get out of this?"

 

"The Salvatores out of my way would be a start," Katherine replies, tossing him a glance as she reaches into the box and randomly grabs a dog-eared journal.

 

After a minute or two, John nods at her response and rejoins her. "Alright. I think I might have an idea of the location of the device but who is Pearl? Jonathan keeps mentioning her name all over the journal."

 

Flashback to 18th Century, Toulouse

 

Her carriage came to a halt and the door swung open with a soft creak. A butler held his white gloved hand and she took his proffered hand gratefully. He took care of her heavy luggage and led the way into Kol’s expansive estate. The interiors were furnished in great detail flaunting of the owner’s wealth. Renaissance works of art decorated almost every wall in the broad hallway. She swore she’d heard carefree laughter and a beautiful melodious musical piece coming from the closed doors. Her luggage was handed over to another maid who had been standing nearby. With both his hands available, he pushed the brass knobs down, revealing another expansive living room decorated with fresh accents of gold and pearly white. There were two occupants in the room, both female. It was obvious to Katherine that they were related as she found similarities in their facial features. One of them noticed her first and waltzed across the room to greet her.

 

“You must be Katherine Pierce. We have been expecting you,” the woman with long brown hair welcomes her pleasantly with a smile.

 

“I’m Pearl Zhu and this talented beauty is my daughter, Annabelle.”

 

Katherine takes the open journal from John and re-reads the page again. She walks away from Gilbert and stares off into the distance, recalling fond memories of her past.

 

"Pearl… she was a cherished, dear old friend."

 


 

Somewhere not far from Mystic Falls

 

On the dirt crusted ground of an abandoned mansion, a man lies sprawled awkwardly with his empty eyes staring blankly while his head is twisted at a horrible angle. An inaudible sound begins clicking inside the man’s neck; each cervical vertebra magically snapping back into place until all seven bones are aligned with the vertebral column. The man’s eyelids slide back to cover his empty blank eyes. His chest rises and sinks at each shallow breath. His fingers twitch once and then it repeats again. Not a moment later, the man jerks up from the floor, breathing harshly. His hand massages his recovered but sore neck as he glances around the empty mansion.

 

He groans painfully as the flood of old memories once blocked, spills into his hazy, cloudy brain. Oh, how he remembers every despicable event of forcing his student, his girlfriend’s niece into doing what the vampire compelled him to. All along he had thought he was dreaming wet dreams about Elena Gilbert. How mistaken he had been.

 

His vision spins viciously when he abruptly rises on shaky knees and stumbles into the room, where remains of a broken, tattered door lies carelessly not too far away. He remembered a man in a suit requesting for permission to enter. He had refused on strict orders not to allow anyone in. However, the well-dressed man would not take no for an answer and the next thing he remembered was darkness descending on him. He covers his mouth in horror at the dead vampire with a large, gaping hole in his chest and a still, shriveled heart lying discarded next to him. The bonds and restraints that once held the girl in place are still here, but the doppelganger and the other female vampire have disappeared.

 

He climbs into his Tahoe and begins to drive back towards the town he now calls home. Three hours of endless driving, he enters the town border. A loud shrill pierces his thoughts and the flash of red and blue lights reflect on his rear view mirror. He slows to a stop near the curb and put the brakes on. A stocky built uniformed cop walks up from behind and taps his knuckle against the car’s window. The car window rolls down and Alaric sticks his head out, “Hey man, if this is about the speeding…”

 

“Step out of the car, sir.”

 

The policeman interrupts him abruptly. Surprised and confused that this cop - Wilson - he’d read the name tag on his uniformed shirt, did not bother to ask for his license; he obediently steps out of his Tahoe, only to be slammed onto his own car bonnet as his hands are pulled roughly back and a pair of steel handcuffs slap down on his wrists.

 

“What’s… What’s going on? What are you doing?”

 

“Alaric Saltzman, you are hereby under arrest on kidnapping charges of Elena Gilbert. You have the right to remain silent. Should you, however, refuse this right, anything you say can and will be used against you in the court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford, one will be provided by the court.”

 

Chapter Text

Hidden behind the screen, Elizabeth observes Alaric Saltzman slouching in the chair whilst Wilson fires a multitude of questions. "What is your relationship with Jenna Sommers?"

 

Saltzman just folds his arms and says nothing, angering her colleague. He slaps the thick bundle of photographs down on the wooden table and spread them out. "Were you stalking Elena Gilbert?"

 

Saltzman stares defiantly at Wilson and then he looks straight into the screen, his jaw taut and rigid, back ramrod straight against the chair as he replies stiffly, "You won't believe me anyway."

 

She observes his body language for a bit longer before turning her attention to the other stranger piece of evidence that they had managed to discover in his home and even more stowed away in the school. There were an assortment of wooden stakes, a compact device most likely invented by Saltzman himself that allows the wearer to fire sharp pointy stakes at a short distance, and some homemade grenades filled with green liquid.

 

Just how did he know about the town's situation?

 


Gilbert household

 

Elena bit back another moan that was about to spring from the base of her throat as his hand slid her flimsy, thin cotton panties down her thighs. She squirmed uncomfortably on her stomach whilst she lay prone over his lap; both of her hands pressed against the classroom floor to steady herself. She swallowed a whimper as his hard dick poked her belly through the tent of his pants. A lone teardrop seeped out from the corner of her eye and it splashed onto the ground silently. She felt ashamed and dirty as his words washing over her half-exposed body before feeling his thick, greedy fingers penetrating her roughly.

 

“Fuck! Elena, you’re so tight,” he groaned and began thrusting. Her back arched involuntarily at his fingers finger pressing against her insides at all the right spots. Gradually, he increased his speed at the response to her shallow gasps and hitches.

 

“Moan for me, Elena. I know you want more. Don’t try to deny it. I can feel your slicked cunt leaking,” he teased and continued tormenting her helpless body. She felt a sharp piercing, intense pain at the exact moment as his fingers twisted so abruptly and jabbed cruelly into her core that she came screaming.

 

-A-

 

A short, high-pitched scream shatters Jenna’s concentration that it simultaneously wakes her up from her slouched position on the tall bar stool in the kitchen cum dining area. Another sharp piercing scream follows a couple of minutes after, sending her into a panicked frenzy as she races out of the kitchen, nearly toppling the bar stool in her wake.

 

Elena!

 

She climbs the stairs two at a time until she reaches the closed door of Elena’s bedroom where the screams resonated from. She flings the bedroom door open and flips the light switch on immediately, taking quick long strides to reach the edge of the bed. Her hands reach out to Elena who is tossing restlessly in bed.

 

"Elena? Elena, wake up."

 

Jenna glides her hands up and down Elena’s shaking shoulders and arms. She repeats again, her voice increasing in volume. "Elena, honey. You're having a bad dream. I need you to wake up now."

 

A blink later and she finds herself with a fistful of brown hair in her face, a pair of slender arms clinging tightly around her neck, and a sudden surge of heat that was not her own, crashing into her. She falls onto the edge of the mattress thankfully; her arm encircles around Elena's waist while the other rubs her back in a poor attempt to sooth her niece. The first thing Jenna feels is Elena’s back radiating a slightly elevated heat and the back of her neck feels a lot warmer. Her hand comes around and presses the back of her hand against Elena’s moist forehead.

 

She knows John had tailed her from the moment she had raced out of the hallway and was most likely leaning against the doorway. With the additional weight added on top of her lap, Jenna could only turn her head slightly to find him staring at them rather uncomfortably.

 

"Elena has a fever. Could you buy some fever medicine off the counter?" She asks whilst continuing to rub her niece's back. She takes note of Elena’s quiet sobbing into her shoulder and thinks of brewing a pot of chicken broth, but she can't move, not with Elena clinging to her. She yells after John who had grunted out a reply and had begun to trudge down the stairs. "And get Elena some hot soup at the Grill while you're at it."

 


At the station, Interrogation Room 01

 

Elizabeth enters the room with a bottle of water and a thick manila folder. She places the bottle in front of Saltzman and takes the seat opposite him. Saltzman cocks his head at her in acknowledgement and smirks. “You know you can’t hold me forever. You have no physical proof but circumstantial evidence.”

 

She counters it with a thin smile gracing her blank expression and flips open the manila folder. “Did you kill Isobel Fleming? Says here she filed a restraining order against you,” Elizabeth pulls out a photocopy of the original restraining order for him to look. “Were you stalking her like you did with Elena Gilbert?”

 

“Where… Where did you get this?” Saltzman's confident expression falters as he leans forward in his seat to read the contents of the paper.

 

“Oh, the North Carolina local police were quite happy to hand the case over in hopes a fresh pair of eyes would help narrow down the suspects… not that there was much to go on, with a large pool of blood and that you were the only person who saw her last.”

 

Elizabeth knows she has thrown him for a loop when she begins grilling him about his alleged missing wife; she doesn’t fail to notice the tiny beads of sweat forming on his forehead or the way his Adam’s apple bobs nervously when he swallows. He slams his palm against the table and runs his fingers through his already disheveled hair.

 

“I’m telling you the truth. I loved Isobel; I wouldn’t kill her,” Saltzman states adamantly.

 

Elizabeth leans back in her seat and replies coolly, “But you’re hiding something. What brings you to Mystic Falls?”

 


Gilbert household

 

At some point, Elena releases Jenna from the vice-like hold and murmurs apologetically at the sizable wet spot on Jenna’s shirt. She grabs a handful of tissues and offers them to Elena who takes them gratefully. She gathers the pillows together and fluffs them up, whilst giving Elena a moment to recover. She sits at the edge and waits patiently for Elena to lean back against the pillows. She takes note of an odd discoloration on Elena’s neck and wonders if it’s the same friend Elena refuses to speak to her. It sounds as though her niece was protecting someone or was told to keep quiet about it.

 

“Did this friend of yours do this to you, ‘Lena?” She just had to inquire if this friend was the same person who persuaded Elena to skip an entire day of classes and brought her back home just after curfew. If it was, that friend was most likely a bad influence for her niece.

 

Elena just shakes her head and refuses to meet her eyes. Her forehead wrinkles in concern as her hand rubs Elena’s knee that was under the heavy duvet.

 

“So… it’s someone else,” Jenna murmurs.

 

“I’m sorry if I worried you,” Elena hiccups through her quiet apology. Jenna shushes her quietly and replies, “I’m not mad, Elena. I just want to understand what happened. I’m sorry I didn’t tell you the truth about your birth mother. Your mother was supposed to break it to you when you were older.”

 

She hears the bedroom door swing open with a creak and frowns when Elena’s fingers tighten onto the ends of the duvet until the tips of her knuckles turn to a palest shade of white. Her head turns to find John enter, carrying a tray filled with a bowl of steaming hot, chicken noodle soup, a tall glass of water, and a bag with a bottle of medicine. He sets the tray on top of the study desk and then passes Jenna the bowl of hot soup carefully. She smiles and thanks him gratefully. He exits the room just as quickly as he enters.

 

The soup smells so heavenly that she can't resist stealing a couple of spoonfuls for herself to try, before passing the bowl to Elena. When she refuses, Jenna coaxes sweetly, "Just take a bit, 'Lena. You don't have to finish it all."

 

She sends a warm, encouraging smile to Elena who tentatively begins to take a few spoonfuls.

 


At the station, Interrogation Room 01

 

Elizabeth's brow arches when Saltzman informed her of his plans to start afresh in a new town. She flips a page over and replies nonchalantly, “Isobel used to study in Grove Hill High School, not too far away from here. I don’t believe you’re starting over. I think you’re searching for something... or someone specifically.” She catches an imperceptible glint in his gaze and adds, "And if you wanted to, you could have moved to the west coast or out of the country."

 

“And what does the Sheriff think I’m looking for?”

 

Elizabeth tilts her head and gives him a good long look. Silence fills the enclosed space as he fixates his inquisitive stare straight at hers. “You know the murderer who killed your wife. You think he is here, walking free and you want to avenge her.”

 

Saltzman leans back in the chair and doesn't say anything for a long moment. She finds herself being placed under a microscope to be analyzed. His arms unfold and uncross themselves while his fists uncurl loosely as they come together and begins to clap deliberately, its volume increasing at each contact. He gives her a mocking, calculative smirk and replies, “You got me.”

 

She should feel accomplished, rest-assured that she has solved one part of the puzzle, but tension lingers and pools uncomfortably in her gut. Her investigation had barely begun as more questions arise and she yearns to know how he thinks he knows the perpetrator is amongst them. Where did he obtain the information from? Why does he have a whole bag filled with homemade grenades and wooden stakes that looked as though he was preparing for war?

 

Nothing made any sense so she figures their conversation has reached a conclusion despite gleaning incomplete truths from the suspect. She begins shuffling photographic evidence back into the folder. A quick glance towards Saltzman tells her that she is still being studied and it irks her to no end.

 

Elizabeth stands up from the chair that she had been sitting in for over an hour and a half and makes to turn the brass door knob and leave Saltzman to contemplate his situation. She thought of getting another cup of coffee and going into the observation room to try and piece together the scarce information she'd learned.

 

“What if I told you the murderer happens to be the very person you’re currently consulting with, regarding the vampire problem?”

 

His next words startle her out of her musings as her head whips around so quickly that she might as well give herself a whiplash. "What are you talking about?" She questions him sharply.

 

“I’d watch your back, Sheriff. Damon Salvatore is not the man you think he is," Saltzman leans back in his chair as he lazily smirks.

 


Gilbert household

 

A polished empty bowl and a near empty glass of warm water are placed back onto the tray as Jenna helps Elena settle back down on the bed. She smooths any stray strands from Elena's feverish forehead and prepares to tuck the duvet into her side securely. However, her wrist is captured by Elena's, halting her action temporarily.

 

"Stay. Please," Elena pleads and Jenna finds the tiniest bit of fear behind the wide hazel irises and it pains her that Jenna finds herself acquiescing to Elena’s request. She grabs a random novel on the bookshelf before moving around to the other side of the bed. As she leans her back against some of the pillow throws, she feels a shift in the mattress as Elena moves to scoot closer.

 

She makes headway only into the first quarter of the novel when she begins to feel a slight tugging on her right arm that pauses her reading. She looks over to Elena who is still awake and apparently fighting the drowsy effects. Jenna throws a quizzical smile to Elena and lets her palm spread open, facing upwards. Elena begins tracing random lines with her index finger on her palm.

 

At first, Jenna thinks Elena just wants some physical contact and continues reading and turning the page with her other hand. Slowly, she begins to realize Elena keeps drawing the same lines over and over again as though she was trying to tell her something without saying anything. It didn't feel random and that causes Jenna to stop reading altogether and start to pay attention to the tracing.

 

Was it numbers? Number 45? But the second symbol feels more squiggly… like an S. It’s not a number. Letters then, Jenna decides firmly. She felt certain they were initials. Something S. Is Elena trying to say it was Damon Salvatore? But the first letter didn't feel or come close to a letter D. It was an upside-down letter V but towards the end, the tracing curves upwards and strikes left, crossing one of the vertical lines.

 

Jenna attempts to mimic the tracings in the air, but she couldn't quite decipher the first letter… or was it a symbol? It feels like a triangular shape, but she can’t be sure, but she can’t ask Elena to confirm if they were even initials or symbols. Her finger lies prone on Jenna’s palm while her eyelids flutter shut and eventually, her breathing evens out.

 

Chapter Text

The early morning mist begins to clear as the sun rises, casting orange and pink hues onto a thin layer of cloud. A pair of black loafers jog down the steps of the police station where he had been held and interrogated for over ten hours. Alaric Saltzman whistles a merry tune and breathes in deeply. The air was cool and crisp, like a refreshing drink of cool water after hours in a desert. He had to admit; luck was on his side and Elena Gilbert hadn't pressed any charges or given her statement. He'd doubted she had wanted to relive the nightmares they had both endured under that delusional vampire.

 

As if suddenly remembering that his beloved Tahoe was still parked by the major roadside curb, Alaric groans and swears under his breath. In order to get there, he needed to wait for the bus that comes every half an hour, or he could walk all the way which would most likely take him roughly around the same time. He slowly makes his journey towards the main street, pausing to nod in greeting at a perky brunette walking her retriever whilst carrying a cup of espresso. He could smell the aromatic caramelized cocoa beans wafting through the tiny, filtered sip.

 

A cup of coffee wouldn't hurt and he could always get breakfast to go before trudging on. A left turn and two rights later, he couldn't help but feel a pair of eyes watching him.

 

Really? Didn't I inform her that I had no plans to run and still, you had me followed?

 

He snorts internally. What a waste of resources. Alaric turns around to find a couple of passer-bys paying him no attention as they go about their business; there were no police cars in his sight and yet he could feel the prickly sense of being stalked. There was this dogged feeling that he just couldn't shake off, causing his feet to quicken in pace, his heart hammered rapidly in his chest; he's almost towards the entrance. He can make it. He just needs to pass the alley and take three, maybe four steps more, before he can safely duck into the grill house.

 

There's no one there. All those interrogations in a windowless room have made you deluded, sluggish, famished and exhausted. You just need sleep, Alaric tells himself firmly. His hand rubs his face in a desperate attempt to stay focused on his destination. Briefly, his mind wonders why the breadth of the alleyway seems so wide and with the combination of the morning fog and exhaust smoke coming from the grill house, it always feels as though the alley was emitting a strange mysterious aura.

 

An empty plastic bottle falls onto the ground and rolls until it knocks against his left boot gently. He jumps in mid-stride and stares stupidly at the bottle. A soft crinkle of paper catches his attention and he freezes on the spot, his eye pupils staring wildly into the alley as he tries to pinpoint the source of the noises. Quietly, he edges forward into the alleyway and picks up a thin wooden slab with a rusted nail at the end. His hands grip the other end of the slab as he moves stealthily around the green dumpster. He felt first before he saw a blur of brown furball weaving through the small space between his ankles.

 

"Meow."

 

Alaric sighs in relief and places the makeshift weapon on the lid of the dumpster to pinch the upper bridge of his nose.

 

Definitely a lack of sleep. You’re freaking out over a common, stray tabby cat.

 

He lowers himself to squat on his haunches to scold the tabby that was still staring at him, but a grip on the back of his jacket yanks him backward. He finds himself crashing into the empty wooden crates by the alley brick wall and lets out a pained groan. He hacks continuously at the fogged smoke combustion from the generator blasting him in the face, while trying to get his bearings straight. He’s certain that there was no one else in the alleyway beside him and that cat, yet he hears an unfamiliar clicking noise slowly increasing in volume. His eyes peer up to meet his assailant but ends up blinking confusedly.

 

“Elena? What… what are you doing?”

 

Alaric coughs harshly at her fingers grabbing his throat and slamming his back into the harsh, unforgiving red-bricked wall.

 

No, Elena doesn’t have the strength to do that. Oh dear God. No! It can’t be…

 

“You have some nerve, showing your face. Did you think you could get away unscathed? Do you?!”

 

The glare of his assailant cuts through him and Alaric suppresses a shiver as he catches a glimpse of the danger that this vampire is hiding just underneath the surface. Her eyes darken instantly, matching the color of her dark, wild loose curls.

 

"Katherine," he rasps.

 


 

Her lips curl mockingly at his ragged breathing as her perfectly sharp, manicured fingernails dig into the tender flesh of his windpipe. Her idle hand pulls out a crumpled photo out of her pocket and shoves it in front of his face. It was the same photograph of her doppelganger Katherine had discovered in his drawer. She snarls viciously, "What sick, twisted games have you been playing with her? Is there any more of this crap?"

 

His face drains of color and his guilty eyes dart out everywhere else but the picture. "Look at it, you sick son of a bitch!" He stammers out a reply, his voice shaking at her vampire visage looming down at him. "I didn't know what I was doing, I swear. I never wanted to hurt her. Please. You have to believe me. I was compelled by another. They were searching for the doppelganger."

 

Katherine scoffs at the excuse and raises him higher, causing the tips of his shoes to brush lightly against the ground. "Compel the truth out of me. I'm not on vervain," he insists. Her glare intensifies at his reply and swipes a small syringe from his pocket, before tossing him into the ground like a rag doll.

 

"But you’re carrying vervain. Did you think I can't smell it on you?" Her heels clicked loudly against the gravel pavement, causing him to scramble backward on his hands, moving hurriedly as he could in order to distance himself from one irate vampire. She observes him with great amusement while his hands pat at his jacket pockets and watches as his expression contorts to a frown.

 

Having grown bored of his frantic searching, Katherine waves the little metallic syringe filled with green liquid and drawls, "Looking for this?" She catches his gulp, his Adam’s apple bobbing uncomfortably at her sneer. "I'd thought I save you the trouble of attempting your silly little plan because this homemade cocktail isn't going to work on me."  

 

His back hits the bricked wall and Alaric scrambles to his feet. She continues on, having had his full attention. “Now which pathetic minion of Klaus are you working for? Answer it truthfully and I will let you go unharmed. Answer it wrongly… and I will kill that girlfriend of yours.”

 

“He… He never told me his name… but the other vampire called him Trevor. That’s all I know.”

 

Katherine’s scowl deepens at the lack of information. Trevor. Such a common name, just like any of the usual Tom, Jack, and Harry. She settles on glaring at him. “How convenient. You have nothing useful; I might as well kill you now and do everyone else a favor.”

 

“Wait. Wait, this guy - Trevor - he’s still there at the mansion. I- I can give you the address.” She listens to the human plead for his miserable life to be spared; her eyes narrow onto the tiny movement where he has his hand moving at a miniscule rate to stick into one of his jeans pocket and he begins to pull something out. Not taking any chances, she shoves him around and captures that offending wrist, twisting it roughly behind his back until she hears a pained yell.

 

Katherine chuckles darkly, "Oh no. I have a much better idea. You're coming with me on this little road trip."

 


 

A dark blue SUV rolls to a stop and squeezes in between two parked vehicles along the roadside curb. The driver’s door swings open and out jumps Elizabeth Forbes wearing a collared white polo shirt peeking out of her winter coat, a pair of slacks, and her usual black boots she'd usually wear for work. She glances at the Gilbert’s house and takes note of the vehicle parked in the driveway. Ever since the commencement of the Founder’s Party celebrations, John returning to town, and being swarmed with work concerning Saltzman and his strange involvement with Elena’s disappearance and of the town's unique situation, she never had the time to check on Elena. They couldn't hold him without Elena’s statement and the Gilberts hadn't filed any charges. So she thought she'd drop by and see if Elena is up for a couple of questions.

 

She knocks the door with her knuckle and waits patiently for someone to answer. The door swings open a good five minutes later, revealing a worn out Jenna Sommers leaning against the door frame. "Sheriff Forbes, is something the matter?" Jenna's features had taken on a puzzled expression to her sudden visit whereas the tone of her voice sounded rather tired and her face had shallow eye bags. Elizabeth wonders briefly if Jenna is having trouble balancing her graduate studies with sole guardianship of the Gilbert siblings.

 

"It's Liz. I'm off-duty for today. I was wondering if I could speak to Elena off the record, and see how she is doing," Elizabeth inquires softly. And if I could come in too. Gosh, it's freezing outside!

 

Jenna opens the door wider and steps aside to allow her inside and at the same time, to prevent the cold draft from entering. Her eyes dart quickly up to the closed bedroom door as she hesitantly replies, "I don’t think now is the best time... Elena’s feeling under the weather. Would you like a drink? Some hot tea perhaps?"

 

They enter the kitchenette and Elizabeth eases onto one of the vacant bar stools by the island counter, watching Jenna prepare her hot beverage. All the while, they chatted about trivial stuff mostly about Jenna complaining to her regarding John stirring trouble; and Elizabeth returning the favor by telling her about Carol Lockwood's indecision on the upcoming events for the Founder’s Party. She really had wanted to inquire more about Alaric Saltzman, but she had promised Jeremy that she wouldn't involve Jenna. Instead she smiles, nods along, and sips slowly at her tea.

 

A high-pitched scream ricochets from the floor above, followed by loud panicked shouts of "Go away! Don't touch me!" The screams catch her attention immediately and her senses kick into high gear; she shoots out of the kitchenette, into the hallway, and up the stairs. Her right hand instinctively reach for the strapped gun holster attached to her hip, only to find it missing. She curses under her breath as if recalling the memory of informing her colleague that she'd be taking a day off.

 

She flings the closed door open and discovers Jeremy standing just a few feet away, holding a damp washcloth loosely. He must have entered from the adjoined bathroom. It was then that Elizabeth spots his sister cradling her head with both her arms and huddling in the farthest corner of the room. The poor girl was a mess; tears and snot run down her face endlessly as her breathing grew more and more ragged at each agitated shake, racking her petite frame. She takes a small step forward but halts immediately at Elena’s hysterical cry.

 

"Stay back!!"

 

It was only then that she sensed another presence behind and turns to find Jenna stepping around her. Her hand shoots outwards to prevent Jenna from agitating Elena, but the blonde woman just twists her body sideways and sidles through.  

 

"Oh, honey."

 

Soft, gentle reassurances spill from Jenna’s lips who upon reaching Elena, has dropped to her knees and spreads her strong, guiding arms towards her niece who instinctively latches on to the older woman. Elizabeth can't help but get the impression that Jenna had done this countless of times because the action seemed so natural. Jenna pulls Elena onto her lap, wraps an arm tightly around her waist while the other hand rubs Elena’s back with calm, soothing strokes.

 

“Shhh… You’re safe. No one’s going to hurt you, Elena. It’s just a bad dream. Shhh… ”

 

She repeats the mantra over and over like a prayer while Elena buries her face into the crook of Jenna’s neck. Meanwhile, there seems to be a silent conversation exchanged between Jenna and Jeremy as she watched his facial appearance contorts with so much expression as he attempts to convey himself wordlessly. Finally, his shoulders sag dejectedly in response to Jenna shaking her head while motioning with her hands briefly, pointing at the door and then returning to rub Elena’s back.

 

“But I only wanted to help…” Jeremy trails off.

 

Realizing Jenna probably needed them to clear out so she could settle Elena back into bed, Elizabeth places her hand gently on his shoulder and jerks her head at the doorway. As she slowly guides Jeremy to the hallway, she catches Jenna mouthing her silent thanks to which she nods in acknowledgment and shuts the bedroom door gently.

 

She could still hear Elena’s broken cries punctured with Jenna’s calm voice reverberating through the thin walls. She knows Jeremy can hear his sister hurting and it’s probably affecting him more than it did her. She decides a swift change in topic is in order. “Do you know where your Uncle John is?”

 

He shakes his head and replies, “No, but he did mention the Founder’s Party needed to set off with an explosive start. So he’s probably busy acquiring all the best fireworks he can get his hands on.”

 

-A-

 

Somewhere deep in the forested woods where the old Fell’s Church was laid in ruins, reveals an open tomb. At the entrance stands John Gilbert sporting a headlamp, carrying a bright yellow, heavy-duty torchlight. It had been three days since Katherine had informed him about Pearl being one of the many vampires from the 1864 era who had been stuck in the tomb until the witches had released them. He knew the remaining bloodsucking fiends who survived had all escaped into town. It had taken him three days to gather information and now was the perfect time to hunt down that elusive cog. There was a possible chance the vampire might have dropped it in a hurry to escape the church catacombs. He stares determinedly into the pitch darkness and takes a deep breath, before stepping into the darkness.

 


Outside of Mystic Falls

 

“Well… What are you waiting for? Some hand holding?!”

 

Her glare pierces through and jumpstarts his nerves that he jolts into action immediately, deciding it was in his best interest not to further irritate the vampire doppelganger. He leads the way through a series of long hallways and side corridors all encrusted with dirt and cobwebs. He glances back occasionally to check if Katherine was following behind, not that he couldn’t hear her heels clicking loudly. He finally reaches the room where he had died temporarily, protecting his master - Trevor - from harm. However, the place was completely empty, save for a small patch of dried blood where the shriveled heart was once laid. The dead vampire who was supposed to be his saving grace had disappeared.

 

Dead vampires with their chests ripped out and missing a heart do not just get up and walk away. Someone must have dropped by after I left and cleared the place out. But which vampire was it? The female partner or the man in the suit?

 

He sees Katherine looking around the tiny windowless room, her lip curling in disdain. “Where’s the show and tell?” Katherine finally snaps, turning her full attention to face him.

 

“He… He was supposed to be lying right here,” Alaric hears himself and suppresses a wince at the sound of his voice quivering at the intensity of her glare.

 

“I’m starting to tire of your games. Best you start talking or your girlfriend is going to be my dinner treat,” Katherine slinks towards him and he backs up and away. He raises his hands in surrender to her advances.

 

“Wait. Wait, there was a man dressed in a suit. He came by that afternoon and those vampires… I think they worked for him,” Alaric states quickly.

 

Katherine doesn’t stop her advances until there was only a covered table in between them.

 

“And what makes you so sure?” she impatiently retorts.

 

“Because they called him Lord Elijah.”

 

“Lies!”

 

Her eyes darken at his answer and she comes at him at full speed. He groans painfully at his back and the back of his skull crash against the wall. He barely has time to react at her hand harshly holding his head still, before his vision spins and blurs viciously into a kaleidoscopic whirlwind of colors and stilted images of every interaction he has had with the doppelganger. The chained door that he has been able to successfully shove all the disturbing memories of what Trevor had coerced him to do has now been blasted open to the forefront in his mind.

 

He watched playbacks after playbacks of past memories - forcing Elena to cum with his fingers and sometimes vibrators, spanking her cunt as she lies unconscious on the window ledge in her bedroom, toying with her body until her thighs twitch and spasm against her will, and finally, binding her up and bringing her to the mansion so Trevor could have her to himself. Memory lane slowed to a stop when the man named Elijah appeared before him, demanding to enter. He had refused and then came the darkness.

 

His body collapses to the ground like a lifeless heap, barely recognizing he's back in the mansion. His brain felt like it would swell beyond the capacity of his skull and now his dehydration was too obvious to ignore. He felt pain throbbing on one side of his skull so violently that he wondered why it hadn’t cracked open. His stomach lurches and gurgles. He raises his heavy eyelids halfway only for them to fall shut.

 

I should have died that day, if not for the ring. It doesn’t matter. I know my time is near.

 


 

Katherine stalks away from the human for a breather. Her fists clench so tightly that her knuckles turn white. Burning rage hisses through her body like deathly poison, screeching a demanded release in the form of wanting to rip something - someone - apart. It was like a volcano erupting; white hot fury sweeping off her in ferocious waves. She just couldn’t believe the abuse had taken place right under her nose.

 

Why didn’t Elena say anything? If she had just told me, I would have taken him right out of the picture then she would never be tortured or worse, raped. Why didn’t she tell me? Why?

 

Katherine takes a deep breath and catches a faint whiff of dried blood. She notes the faded aroma wasn’t pungent and sweet; it smelt harsher, leaving a bitter taste on her tongue. Vampire blood, she mentally catalogs and bends down to pick a loose frayed rope off the dirt-encrusted ground. She turns the rope over and recalls the pattern had matched the one on Elena’s wrists. She really was here. There was no doubt in that.

 

If they were working for Elijah, why did he kill his own men? Unless they weren't, and he was protecting the doppelganger from Klaus's henchmen? She dared to hope that the brothers were really working against each other.

 


 

“I should kill you for what you did.”

 

He can hear her walking back towards him, her boots clicking steadily. Her tone was quiet and deadly as poison.

 

Yes, you should.

 

Sharp nails puncture the sides of his neck and Alaric feels himself being lifted up slowly, his hands clawing for purchase. His eyes lock bravely onto hers - hazel with specks of darkness, gradually shifting into pitch black irises, dark as death surrounding itself in a sea of crimson. Dark veins emerge from underneath her beautiful skin and a pair of fangs peek out as the vampire growls, the corner of her lips curl and twist wickedly. A shiver creeps down his spine as her head tilts slightly as if assessing him.

 

“Any last words?”

 

This was it. He was staring down at death’s door. He’d always seen death as a shadow lurking in the dark, following you in disguise as one’s own shadow. Crossing the street and a car speeding towards you swerves out of the way at the very last minute; that was death disentangling from your shadow and slinking back to the abyss of the underworld unnoticed. But he was always there and the closer he got, the sooner he would take you as his own. This death was different; it’s tangible in the form of a supernatural creature. He was going to die here. Alone.

 

Kill me.

 

“Spare Jenna. Please. She’s innocent,” Alaric pleads instead.

 

I’m the one you want.

 

“Is that all?” She chuckles lightly and he was mildly disturbed by the sound of her laughter being so carefree and light.

 

“The ring. If you’re going to kill me, at least let me remove it,” Alaric states and wonders if she knows the magical properties of the ring he wore.

 

There is a funny glint in her eyes as soon as he informs her. Her smile stretches so wide that with her vampire visage, he wonders if she was the devil reincarnated herself with the diabolical smirk.

 

“You think I’m going to kill you? Give you a peace of mind while the girl you tortured is on the receiving end of terror-filled nightmares?! Death would be too easy,” Katherine chuckles and then snarls, “Guilt will eat at you and gnaw away until you come back, crawling on your knees, begging me to end your pathetic life.”

 

The pain flaring at the sides of his throat vanishes instantly as she releases him, his boots landing on the floor with a thud. Her hand moves upwards to grip his chin, yanking forcefully until his wide eyes meet her dark irises. Alaric suddenly feels as though he was walking on the moon; weightless, buoyant, and at ease. He barely hears her speak or feels his neck crook up and down in response. Darkness swoops down at him and Alaric closes his eyes, welcoming the darkness as his body crashes to the ground once more.

 

Chapter Text

The bright blue sky during the day transforms into an ocean of blackness. Shimmering stars illuminate the moonless, jet black sky. The air was still and heavy. A frigid draft sweeps through the alienated street. Birds sweep silently overhead. The side door handle turns and swings inward for a shadowy figure to slip inside, hands reaching out to shut the door with an inaudible click. A pair of black boots pads silently out of the dark kitchen, weaving its way through the furniture. The figure slips past the study den where a man sporting short brown hair and blue eyes, pores over the messy handwritten pages of a nondescript journal. The figure blurs up the stairs in a matter of seconds and steps into a pitch black bedroom where quiet moans and whimpers can be heard as the shadow moves closer to the bed. The teenager tosses and turns restlessly, oblivious to being watched.

 

A slender, feminine hand brushes damp locks away from the sleeping girl’s moist forehead. Hands hover uncertainly over one side of the girl’s body as she writhes under the heavy duvet. A loud cry spills out from the girl’s cracked lips and immediately, two fingers reach out and connect against the girl’s temple. A few moments later, the teenage girl’s breathing slows and evens out that the figure lets out a relieved sigh. However, there was no time to bid her doppelganger farewell as another pair of padded feet enters the bedroom, swinging the door open.

 

“Who’s there?” demands the blonde dressed in a pair of sweats. She can see Jenna, clear as day, squinting into the darkness camouflaging her identity. She rises from the edge of the bed and unlocks the window latch about the same time Jenna flips the light switch on. The guardian was too quick on her feet, her ears sharp and attuned to her double’s cries. Cursing under her breath, Katherine ducks under the roof of the backyard door.

 


 

“Don’t make me do this, please. Anything but this,” she begged from her seat as Alaric took the opposite seat of the park bench, his smartphone in one hand held loosely. She wore a flowery dress as instructed to, tightly crossing her legs together.

 

“What if people see?”

 

Alaric just leers at her and replies, “That’s the whole idea, Elena. Now spread those legs. I want to see that freshly shaved cunt.”

 

She hid her face in her hands while her legs uncrossed and spread for him to see. She chokes back a sob and waits for his smartphone camera’s snap. Instead, she felt warm pressure pressing against her breasts and chest. She blinks at her double turning her head around to meet hers and tossing her a closed quirk of her lips tilting upwards.

 

“Hey, cupcake. Enjoying your book?”

 

They’re at a beach this time, sitting on a beach mat with a huge orange umbrella shielding them from the scorching heat. Elena knows this isn’t real, therefore Katherine must have dropped by again. She snakes an arm around Katherine’s waist and nibbles her ear, all the while looking down to find the older vampire in a bikini. Unlike Katherine, she’s wearing a white midriff and blue micro shorts.

 

“I can’t read if you’re using me as your backrest,” Elena teases.

 

“Come into the water with me. You’re sweating,” Katherine coaxes, sitting up suddenly and extending her hand out for Elena to take the offer. She looks past Katherine and sees the waves roll in, spreading itself like fine lace over the beach as they crash in their soft way. Plenty of people are in the water, enjoying the refreshing coolness from the blistering sun beating down on their skin. Children mill around the shore, building sandcastles with plastic buckets and spades.  She could hear faint pop music coming from a live performance nearby. Small gusts of wind caress her, and her skin would shiver softly before returning to its warmed state. She didn’t feel like moving. For once, Elena feels serenity and almost sleepy, like a silent lullaby in a dreamscape Katherine had created for her. She tugs at Katherine’s proffered hand and smiles sleepily, “Will you stay with me?”

 

“For as long as- Crap! It’s too soon!” Katherine begins and halts abruptly in mid-sentence, catching Elena’s attention in a questioning, puzzling-like expression.

 

“What’s going on? Katherine?”

 

The sand around the beach mat begins to shift rapidly and Elena jumps to her feet as the giant umbrella sinks into the yellow, fine grains like quicksand. Gentle waves that were once rolling in turned into wild horses that reared up before crashing onto the beach, pounding the sand with white foam hooves. Even the image of Katherine flickers shakily as though she was a mere hologram projecting into Elena’s subconscious. Her safe haven - this dreamscape - was collapsing rapidly and Elena feels a sense of helplessness seeped into her pores of her skin.

 

“I’m so sorry, Elena,” Katherine says.

 

“Whatever for?” Now Elena feels more confused than ever.

 

“For everything.”

 

The vampire shimmers out of the dream about the same time as the waves rise in height and stature, crashing violently onto the beach and sweeping her away into darkness.

 

Katherine!

 

Elena’s eyes shot wide open while her mouth opens to scream for the older vampire, but not a syllable escapes her quivering lips. Her skin felt sticky against her flannel pajamas; her throat felt parched and her chest heaves uncomfortably as she attempts to draw oxygen into her lungs. She makes to sit up, but a hand pushes her back down. A sharp pain flares from her upper chest where the hand made contact against her body. Elena glances up to find Aunt Jenna looking down at her with concern and worry in her eyes. She watches Aunt Jenna wet the washcloth in a small basin filled with water, resting nearby on the bedside table. Her hands wring the washcloth dry, before dabbing it onto her sweaty forehead and then on her neck.

 

Elena moans and whimpers in pain when Aunt Jenna begins to rub at her chest again. The pain rears its ugly head and throbs painfully on the one side of her temple.

 

“It hurts.”

 

Aunt Jenna murmurs, “What hurts, Elena? Where does it hurt? Here?”

 

Elena shakes her head, grabbing at Aunt Jenna’s wrist and grips it as tightly as she could.

 

“Stop, please. It hurts,” Elena croaks out.

 


 

Jenna frowns at the strange request but undoubtedly complies. Why would the massage hurt? Was there something else Elena isn’t saying?

 

She unbuttons the first two buttons of Elena’s pajama shirt only to find angry red marks all over her upper chest. Her breath hitches and she can’t help but let out a horrified gasp. “Oh My God!”

 

She lifts the bottom of Elena’s shirt and discovers her torso had received the same treatment too. It’s starting to make sense now. We’ve been looking at this all wrong. Elena wasn’t recovering; she has been getting sicker due to having an infection that none of us had noticed previously. We simply thought that she had caught the fever from walking in the storm.

 

“John!” Jenna yells after buttoning her niece’s pajama top back up.

 

There was a short momentary pause before she hears the thundering footsteps ascending and making its way to the bedroom.

 

“What’s wrong? Is she okay?”

 

Jenna runs her hands up and down Elena’s shivering body and turns her head to face him. “Her fever’s spiking. We need to go to the hospital now.”

 


 

Hidden in the shadows, Katherine observes the main door of the Gilbert’s house swing open and John steps out first into the chilly night, carrying Elena bundled tightly in a jacket. With Jenna’s assistance, he places her into the back seat of the SUV before entering the driver’s seat. Jenna, on the other hand, climbs into the backseat and shifts Elena’s head onto her lap. The SUV rolls out of the driveway quietly and begins to head towards the hospital.

 

Chapter Text

From the moment John had rushed them to Mystic Falls A&E, Jenna had been stuck sitting in this hard plastic, squeaky chair for over seven hours. She remembered the hard grim look the doctor, who had been in charge of the floor, had given her after she had unbuttoned the first few buttons of Elena’s PJ shirt to show him the red marks on her chest. John, not knowing any better, had dismissed them to be rashes but the severity of the redness had alerted the doctor who had immediately begun checking Elena’s feverish neck for a pulse while barking orders to the nurses on duty.

 

"It's not a rash," he muttered finally. Elena had passed out during the journey and had stayed unconscious as the nurses began hooking her up to an IV drip. He demanded to know when the fever had started and she had answered all of his questions to the best of her ability.

 

No, Elena hadn't started complaining about the pain until tonight. She'd caught a fever and a cold from being drenched in the rainstorm; that had happened a couple of days ago. How had she gotten the marks? That was the million dollar question everybody wanted to know, but the main priority right now had been stabilizing Elena’s condition.

 

The doctor had commented that they had been very lucky to have caught it quickly and that they were going to start Elena on an antibiotic drip to counter the infection and hopefully, the fever would go down once they treated the open wounds. She and John were allowed into the room after the nurses have changed Elena into a hospital gown and dressed her wounds. One of the nurses had directed John to fill out some paperwork while the other had informed her quietly regarding Elena's status. Jenna had gasped out in horror at the news sinking in. The information had sent a chill down her spine that condensed into a ball of ice at the pit of her stomach.  Sweet, selfless  Elena was beaten harshly and there were also marks on her upper thighs but they weren't as severe as the ones on her torso. They had given her the good drugs, painkillers mostly, just in case she did wake up but the doctor had assured Jenna that the antibiotics would keep Elena lethargic and asleep.

 

Who had wanted to hurt Elena Gilbert?

 

The Gilberts were one of the Founding families of the small town. Grayson and Miranda Gilbert were outstanding, respected, and very much loved citizens who have contributed so much to build the community until it became what is today. They had no enemies and yet, Jenna felt as though she was missing a piece of the puzzle that would complete the picture. She had failed her guardianship to Elena. If she had set down more ground rules or least tried to enforce them, Elena wouldn’t have been taken after school to who-knows-where. If she weren’t juggling her graduate papers and taking care of the Gilbert siblings, she’d at least know where one of them was.

 

Her head falls onto her hands as Jenna attempts to piece together the scarce clues she’d been given. Elena had tried to tell her the person through tracing an odd doodle that she thinks ends with a S. There was also something else she’d seen that night - a person sitting at the edge of the bed. The bedroom was dark but she knew there had been movement. However, once she had flipped the light switch on, the person had vanished, leaving only the window latch opened and unlocked. Jenna looks over at the sleeping form of Elena and smiles tightly. Part of her wanted to wake Elena up for answers to questions she didn’t fully understand, whereas a large part of her is relieved that Elena is finally asleep. She had been so drained for the past few days, taking care of Elena whilst convincing Jeremy to leave his sister alone. That had been after she realized Elena had thought her brother was someone else and screamed bloody murder, and even then she had flinched whenever John or Jeremy tried to take care of her. It dawned upon Jenna that whoever had taken Elena might have been a male because she was the only member in the family Elena allowed in her room.

 

She reaches out to grip onto Elena’s clammy hand and squeezes tightly. Upon hearing a set of heavy footsteps, Jenna glances up to find Ric standing at the doorway, staring past her awkwardly, before shifting to meet her eyes.

 

"Hey, I got your message and I'm sorry if I'm late... I came as soon as I could," he rasps out and then clears his throat. "How is she?"

 

Jenna rises from the plastic chair numbly and presses her lips to Elena’s forehead. Her feet quickens around the bed and envelops him in a crushing hug. "It's not good," she tells him.

 

“Let’s go outside.”

 

Jenna had refused initially but he had tempted her with chicken stew from the cafeteria and boy, was she starving. They passed John and Liz Forbes down the hallway, conversing quietly near the coffee vending machine. It earned her a strange look from Liz that Jenna was too exhausted to attempt to analyze.

 

They were halfway towards the bustling doors of the cafeteria when Jenna began to think she was seeing double when a duplicate copy of Elena wearing a  white doctor's coat saunters past, pushing a trolley filled with blood bags, and disappears down into another corridor. The only differences between her niece and this stranger were her curls framing her face, sharper cheekbones, and a pair of black-rimmed glasses perched on the bridge of her nose.

 

She is hustled into the cafeteria and then pushed gently into a seat near the corner and her arms slouched onto the smooth cold table, with her head resting against her palm. Her tired eyes track Ric's form shuffling along the counter, filling the tray with various foods. He returns a few minutes later with a full tray filled with a steaming styrofoam bowl of stew, a cup of espresso to go and an apple.

 

"Dig in," Ric says, pushing the tray towards her.

 

"How about yourself?" Jenna counters. She wouldn’t allow him to just sit there and watch her eat. At her words, Ric grins at her and plucks the lone apple and bites into it.

 

"Lazy pig. That was my apple," she mock grumbles but picks up the plastic spoon to start on the stew. It smelt delicious despite its taste being a bit bland for her. She digs in nevertheless; beggars can't be choosers.

 

 


 

 

They ate in silence until Jenna had finished her bowl of stew and he nearly misses her quiet words. “Someone beat Elena up and she escaped… or she was released.”

 

He knows what had happened but he forces the words out anyway. He wasn’t supposed to know. “What happened?” He asks.

 

Jenna shakes her head and cast her eyes down as though she couldn’t bear to face him. “I don’t know. We came back from the party and Jeremy informed us Elena had walked back home alone.”

 

“And then?”

 

Jenna looks up and fixates a tired expression on her features. “She fell sick shortly… and then came the nightmares. I wasn’t even aware she was beaten until recently. You didn’t see her, Ric.”

 

Yes, I did. I was the one who took her away from your family, who chained her up as a plaything for him. I saw everything. I heard every single slash, every single scream, and I didn’t even stop him.

 

Jenna continues on, oblivious to his dark ramblings. “Someone tried to flog her to death and the doctors were amazed that Elena was still alive, with the kind of severe beating that she had received… he doesn’t understand how it’s possible. People have died from that kind of severe abuse. Her fever spiked last night, so now they've been doing everything they can to stabilize her.”

 

His stomach clenches tightly while his insides twist and tangle into a gazillion knots. He can’t bring himself to meet her terrified hazel irises; the guilt sinks down deep into his gut, no matter how many times he has told himself that he had no control of himself, he was still to blame for having to pay the price in exchange of searching for Isobel.

 

Alaric hears Jenna murmuring distantly about heading back to the hospital ward and he rises robotically and follows behind her. He stands in the elevator with her, and the words to spill and confess his misdeeds to Jenna, gets stuck in his throat. He doesn’t mention a word, not even a syllable as her arms pull him into a tight hug whilst thanking him for being there. They reach Elena’s ward and he hovers at the edge of the doorway uncertainly while Jenna moves past him to squeeze her nephew’s shoulders and returns to the plastic chair by Elena’s bedside. He swallows at the pale sight of Elena Gilbert sleeping with a thin tube taped to her wrist and surrounded by machines beeping quietly.

 

“What’s he doing here?”

 

His head swivels to find Jeremy standing up in a defensive stance and glaring at him with open hostility. Naive, caring Jenna was far too concerned fussing over Elena to notice the heavy silence settling over the hospital ward, and that the uneasy tension between them was getting thicker by the second.

 

“I asked him to come, Jer,” Jenna replies and glances at Alaric who is still standing awkwardly by the entrance. “Come in. Sit.” She motions with her hand, gesturing at him to enter.

 

He can’t enter. It’s Elena sanctuary, whether or not she’s awake or sleeping. He owes it to her after all that torture he’d put her through. He shakes his head instead and replies, “I should go. I’ve got… papers to grade… stuff.”

 

Jenna looks at him once more and thanks him again with such sincerity that the guilt he had been harboring, begins to sink a little deeper that it was starting to feel like this was hell. Alaric shuffles away from the ward and towards the elevators. His boot taps inconsistently as he waits for the elevators to arrive to the current floor. His ears pick up quick steps coming towards him and he turns around to receive a sharp right hook to his jaw. He turns his head back whilst working his jaw and finds Jeremy standing there with his fists tightly closed by his side.

 

He hisses angrily, “I saw her get in the car with you but somehow she never came home. I knew something was wrong that morning but I couldn’t figure it out until it was too late. Jenna trusted you; she allowed you into our lives but you chose to abuse her trusting nature and abduct Elena anyway. What the hell did you do to my sister? I saw the bruises on her skin.”

 

“I’m sorry. I never meant for this to happen,” Alaric replies quietly but Jeremy refuses to hear his reason. He stumbles backwards as Jeremy shoves him rudely against the closed doors of the elevator.

 

“Get out. You’re not welcome here. Stay away from us, especially Jenna.”

 

 


 

 

Alaric returns to a darkened empty apartment and flips the main light switch on. He wisely chose not to return fire at the young Gilbert, telling him that he can’t take heed of his wish. He would still see him and Elena during school. If he quit now, packed his bags and vanish to another state, then everything he had done - sacrificed - to find Isobel, would be for naught. He needed this job to pay for the numerous cans of beer and whiskey bottles stored in his fridge and cupboards. He was a drunk, plain and simple. His breakfast consisted of whiskey with a rum chaser. What little food he had left was in the form of chips and cold wieners from a jar. He only left the house for his job and to the grillhouse which was a short drive away.

 

He walks into his kitchen and pulls out another can of beer out from the fridge. He opens it easily and returns to his living room, pulls his feet up onto the coffee table, and switches on the TV with his remote.

Chapter Text

Jeremy drops his backpack onto one of the plastic chairs in the ward and looks over at a sleeping Elena swaddled in a flannel blanket provided by the hospital. He could still spot the faded bruises on her neck. He gives the machines a glance and frowns at the one monitoring his sister’s temperature. It was still high to his family's liking: 100°F, but he's grateful that Elena is responding positively to the treatment. Her temperature had been 103°F when she was admitted in the middle of the night, about three days ago.

 

He takes the empty cot that had been set up on the first night at the insistence of a stubborn Aunt Jenna who had refused to leave Elena’s side. He also observed Jenna’s small pile, consisting mainly of research papers and some textbooks, has occupied one of the chairs in the room. Jeremy saw little point in staying at home. Everyone else was out; Uncle John would disappear for hours only returning to the hospital in the evening, covered in grime and dirt. Aunt Jenna had already made her decision to stay with Elena whilst she worked on her thesis. He would come straight after school, have his meals here, and only leaving the hospital to shower and sleep.

 

His eyes track the sheer number of homemade get well soon gift baskets that have accumulated since he first saw them. It seems once Elena’s classmates and friends had heard of her condition, the baskets not only doubled but tripled to the point that there are a handful of them sitting in the far corner of the room. When Elena wakes up, she was going to be surrounded by almost two dozen teddy bears.

 

He muses to himself wondering where Aunt Jenna could have gone to and then concludes that there had to have been an errand that was urgent and important enough to force her to leave. He does, however, send another text message to a blocked number on his contact list, before starting on his homework.

 

 

 

 

A good three hours later, after Jeremy had completed his pile of homework and stored them back into his backpack, he glances to his left to find Elena still unconscious in the cot. Her hand felt clammy and limp as he clasped his over hers. Her fingers barely twitch. He had decided to leave her room to pick up some food for himself and Elena, just in case she woke up. He helps himself to the free tidbits and lime jello in the cafeteria. Exiting through a different exit from the not so crowded cafeteria, Jeremy thinks he spots someone who looked a lot like his sister, disappear down another corridor. Quickly, he quickens his pace and follows after this mysterious woman.

 

Could it be Katherine? And if it is her, why does she have a doctor’s coat on?!

 

Jeremy walks around a sharp corner, catching the tail end of the white doctor’s coat disappearing in front of him. However, the hallway was devoid of people. He’s certain she turned here. There were a couple of open rooms ahead. He deduces that she might have entered one of the rooms and begins to check each room thoroughly. The first two rooms were just storage rooms that held extra bandages, gauzes, and some other medical equipment. He didn’t bother to check the third room as the janitor had walked out with a trolley full of his cleaning tools while giving him a curious yet disdainful look. After a while, he begins to feel a little frustrated that maybe he might have missed a turn since all the doctors and interns wore the same coat, thereby making it a challenge to follow the brunette woman. All he knows about this mystery woman was that she wore her hair pinned up in a tight bun; and that she wore tennis shoes. He doubted Katherine would ever tie her hair up in a neat bun, let alone wear flats.

 

He turns around and begins to head back when a slender hand reaches out and grabs his arm, hauling him into what appears to be a resting area for staff members. The door shuts quietly with a click and Jeremy begins to open his mouth to spew some bullshit excuse when his eyes lock onto the face of the mystery woman. All he could do was stare at the stranger who undoubtedly looked recognizable and yet so vastly different. It was quite a transformation from the vampire he had come to know for some time.

 

She had donned a pair of black-rimmed spectacles that was currently perched on the crook of her nose, fixating him with an annoyed expression. A stray, loose curl falls and she tucks it back into place, behind her ear. Jeremy can’t help but notice that she had the same expression Elena used to wear when fixing her hair. He glances down to find her in light blue scrubs and colored tennis shoes. Her appearance was far too disconcerting for Jeremy to process that standing in front of him was none other than an irritated Katherine Pierce.

 

Jeremy blinks wide-eyed at her and says the first thing that pops up in his head. “What are you wearing?”

 

“I’m blending in. What do you think this is for?” Katherine retorts and gestures impatiently at her attire.

 

Her rude attitude annoys him to no end that he fires his reply back, “I’ve been texting you for the past three days and here you are, playing dress up-” He glances down at the name tag before continuing, “Pretending to be Alexandria Grey while Elena is upstairs with a high fever and Jenna is starting to get worried that she hasn’t woken up yet. Did you know the bastard even had the nerve to show his face…”

 

Katherine interrupts his rant and replies, “I know her condition, idiot. I’m the one who put her under.”

 

It didn't occur to him that he was holding his breath until her reply threw him for a loop. No one would tell him what was really going on, only that his sister was very sick and needed help. Uncle John would deflect his questions while Aunt Jenna was too tight-lipped about Elena’s delicate condition, and now her vampire double was telling him that she was responsible.  

 

“What? What are you saying?”

 

Katherine sighs tiredly and stares at the ceiling. “She’s been having nightmares throughout.”

 

That was old news. He had already known about it. Heck, he had even experienced Elena after a nightmare. It was ugly; he hated feeling so helpless and that Jenna was the only one who could calm her down. He rolls his eyes and snaps out a terse “I know.”

 

How did nightmares become the highlight of their conversation?

 

“What does it have to do with putting her under? Have you been giving her drugs?”

 

Katherine carries on as though he hasn’t interrupted her explanation. “I’ve been changing her nightmares to happier ones, and I’ve already created a dreamscape for her to roam temporarily.”

 

As Jeremy begins to protest, one glare shuts him up immediately and she continues unhurried. “If I hadn’t, she would have fought with the doctors, the nurses, or anyone who would have tried to touch her. They wouldn’t have had a choice but to sedate her. Did you really think Elena would have allowed you or John into the room while she was conscious? My idea seemed a lot better at that time.”

 

Jeremy can only stare and gape at her. I didn’t know vampires had this kind of ability or does it fall within compulsion? He scratches the side of his head before questioning her. “H-How much longer are you going to keep her under? Jenna’s getting really worried. She's starting to think Elena might have slipped into a coma."

 

The vampire just shrugs, giving an air of nonchalance. "I figured another two days couldn't hurt. She has been getting a lot of rest and her fever is going down."

 

"So you have visited her then?"  He inquires softly and immediately regrets his question as Katherine’s tired expression changes to one of an incredulous look. She fixates him with an identical Elena 'are-you-kidding-me' stare and snaps, "No, of course not. This is the closest I can get to her. Jenna’s around all the time. The Sheriff has taken an interest in her and shows up every now and then to patrol the hallways. And even if she’s not, there are always people in the room. Lastly, in case you fail to comprehend the obvious, we share the same face."

 

 


 

 

Katherine ends her monologue with a glare that sends the Gilbert boy backing slowly out of the room with his hands raised in surrender. He mumbles an apology before scampering out. She releases a long, drawn-out sigh and her head nods down tiredly before she blinks awake and jerks upwards instantly. A far-away, detached voice calls out to her from above, causing her to shuffle towards the closed door and her hand pushes the metallic door handle down. Her forehead rests against the door for a minute as the disembodied voice calls out for her again.

 

"Katherine? Where are you, Katherine?"

 

"Coming. I'm coming," she mumbles as she swings the door open and steps outside. A quick glance at the empty hallway indicates that it’s clear and Katherine blurs through the empty hallways and corridors until she reaches her destination - a small ward with an empty cot which was located the furthest from the door while the other cot had a comatose patient serving as her temporary roommate for the time being. She snags the blood bags off the trolley, tears the first one open, and chugs the cold blood down in one go. Then she does the same for next four blood bags and finishes them in under ten minutes.

 

That little Gilbert boy was starting to be smart with her. He thought she had been fooling around when all this time she had actually been working around the clock, trying to solve what had happened during the time span Elena had disappeared. She hadn't slept properly for days, not since her doppelganger had fallen ill. She had taken quick naps here and there, but they weren't enough. Once the nightmares began, Katherine had made her decision to linger around the Gilbert household. She hadn't gone back to the Salvatore boarding house since she returned to town.

 

Katherine had tailed behind the elder Gilbert's vehicle in her Porsche until the black SUV slowed to a stop at the traffic light. She had mentally reached out and connected her mind with Elena’s, creating a temporary dreamscape for her human doppelganger to roam in. During the process, Katherine had begun to realize the arduous obstacles it held. She had to stay close to Elena in order to ensure the dream world wouldn’t collapse. However, with the Gilberts wandering around the hospital floor where Elena was resting, the task was proving to be harder than she had expected. It was only by coincidence that she passed by one ward where she overheard two interns gossiping about a patient who had no visitors since he was admitted to, due to some brain injury from a horrible automobile accident. Apparently, he was some John Doe.

 

Fortune was on her side. She had taken a pair of clean scrubs and exchanged her heels for tennis shoes after stealing one of the new intern's coat with her badge attached. She blended in whilst stealing blood from the hospital blood bank. She only retreated into the ward when she needed to rest or feed.

 

The other obstacle Katherine found herself facing was maintaining the dreamscape for an extended period of time meant that she had to constantly link her mind with the human. Creating one had been easy but she had to make sure the dream wouldn’t collapse like the last time. It drained her energy fast and she had to stay focused constantly.

 

Just a couple of days more...

 

Katherine lies down on her cot and closes her eyes. It takes her a moment to refocus her remaining energies to her doppelganger who just happens to be resting a floor directly above this ward. She felt as though her body had disconnected from reality and transported back into the dream.

 

The dreamscape was created directly from her memories. Katherine had felt it was easier to use the interior structure from one of the mansions she had stayed in during the early centuries, than to build everything up from scratch. Her body reappears back to the sun room where she had supposedly left Elena. She steps outside of the room and her heels click softly on the carpeted maroon floors down the long, empty hallway.

 

Now where did Elena wander off to this time?

 

Katherine was well aware that this mansion was far too large for either of them but this place was one of her longest residences. It also had been one of her favorite places to hide from Klaus, because she doubted the Original knew of its existence.

 

She turns a corner, expecting to find another empty hallway, only to be surprised by Elena who had immediately wrapped her arms around Katherine’s waist while trailing kisses from her neck to her cheek.

 

"Where did you go? You disappeared for quite some time." Elena inquires softly, her head tilting slightly to one side.

 

Katherine forces a smile forward and hides her weariness behind it. She presses a chaste kiss to Elena’s forehead before murmuring, "I had to do something real quick."

 

Her large doe-eyed hazel irises stare into Katherine's with concern. "Is something wrong?"

 

"No. Nothing's wrong. Stop worrying, cupcake," Katherine lies between her teeth and lets a smirk glide through.

 

Elena rolls her eyes but changes the subject altogether. "This place is really huge. Did you really stay here? How did you not get lost in here?"

 

Katherine lets out a relieved sigh internally. Her doppelganger bought the lie...for now. She had to be careful to time her disappearances in the future. She extends her arm playfully to the younger girl.

 

"Come. Let me give you a grand tour."

Chapter Text

A smile curves her lips as Elena reaches out to clasp the older vampire’s proffered hand and lets herself get pulled down the expansive hallway as Katherine motions with her other hand at each room with a dramatic flair.

 

“All these rooms along the East wing were bedrooms for guests. I used to cohabit in… this one,” Katherine says as she pushes the doors open and Elena stares awestruck at the spacious bedroom suite. The room was literally four times bigger than hers. A large canopy bed stood at the center of the suite against the wall, with an arched headboard featured botanical flourish at the crown. Each side of the bed had an identical nightstand which was equipped with a pull-out tray. There were at least two drawers in the suite that had the same wood texture as the rest of the furniture in the room. All the furniture had a Silver Pearl finishing touch and the color complimented with the white curtains so well that Elena thought she had stepped into a princess’s bedroom.

 

She feels a gentle tug at one of her locks and her head turns around to find Katherine already sauntering out of the room. Elena hurries after her and they turn left into another empty hallway, strolling past an empty foyer and walking down a wide, curving staircase.

 

“We used to own a stable back in the eighteenth century. We would ride during the warm afternoons across hundred acres of land. I wonder if it’s still there,” Katherine muses aloud and catches the look of her awed expression that must have been sketched onto her face permanently. Katherine patiently explains, “The landowner was a very wealthy, powerful, and influential ally back in the century. He had owned many properties, but this was one of the few mansions he’d deliberately left private. He had allowed me to stay while I was hiding from someone more powerful than him.”

 

“So… What happened to your friend?” She asks, her curiosity getting the better of her.

 

Katherine shrugs her shoulders and makes another left turn. “I wish I knew. We lost contact with each other after a century.” Her older counterpart falters in her sentence and quietens. Elena risks a glance and notices her eyes were slightly glassy. Nearing another room, Elena walks ahead and gives the doors a gentle nudge. They swing outwardly to reveal a family room where plush couches and armchairs scatter across the room with a brick wall fireplace occupying one side of the room. Katherine had dubbed it as a sun room due to the golden sun rays filtering through the grand open windows, brightening the room naturally.

 

They passed by a small kitchenette that was located next door and opposite of the kitchen stood a formal dining room which was comprised of a sturdy long table and high back chairs that looked as though it could easily accommodate thirty people.

 

"I guess you didn't really have a use for this room, considering you're a vampire and all." Elena comments as she spins around to meet Katherine.

 

"No, but the housekeepers and chambermaids did. They were humans after all. A team of chefs were hired to cook for them and for me whenever I had a craving for certain exotic dessert delicacies."

 

More complex and sharp turns are made as Katherine lead the way through the long corridors. There were no more paintings that decorated the hallways and the walkways became a lot narrower. Silence descends upon the duo that she can’t help but feel a wave of nervous apprehension that causes her to irrationally jolt forward and grab onto the older vampire’s hand for reassurance.

 

A quick glance from Katherine with a tiny quirk flitting on the corner of her glossed lips, had Elena ducking her head in a last-ditch attempt to hide her flustered expression from the vampire’s amusement.

 

"Not long now. We're taking a shortcut," Katherine states and tugs her further along. She does, however, slow her pace down considerably, allowing Elena to catch up without stumbling behind. The lighting was bad enough and some of the bulbs flickered during some of the more elaborate twists. She had nearly tripped on her own feet but had caught herself; however, in her stumbling, her left shoulder bumps into one of the sharper corridors. She lets out a low hiss, but Katherine was too far ahead to notice.

 

She nearly crashes into the older vampire who had abruptly stopped. Elena cranes her head up to look over Katherine’s shoulder while she squints through the flickering darkness. In front of them stands a solid wall. Elena glances back at the shoddy lighting and flitting shadows. She didn’t really want to go back that way again.

 

“Did we miss a turn?” She inquires gently at a muttering Katherine who had both her palms flat against the surface of the wall. Her question is tossed aside as the mumblings become more pronounced, but Elena couldn’t catch a word of it. It wasn’t English anymore and Elena raises a brow when Katherine’s hands begin to glide sideways against the wall surface.

 

She hears an affirmative exclamation from Katherine followed by a loud hissing noise. Her body stiffens at the sudden noise while her hands clutch and tighten involuntarily, using the older vampire’s arms as a lifeline. After the hissing came the grating noise of stones grinding against one another. Katherine’s steady, quiet murmuring into her ear eases her slightly. A vertical crack appears on the wall and her eyes widen in disbelief at the wall swinging outwards.

 

She is gently pushed forward by Katherine who is still murmuring; her hot warm breath tickling the contours of her ear. “It’s okay. You’ll love this room, I promise.”

 

A light nudge at her lower back motions her forward, towards the light. She takes one hesitant step forward and followed by another, all the while feeling Katherine’s constant touches on her lower back and the back of her elbows. She’s in a smaller room; unlike the other rooms she had been in previously were extravagantly grandiose; this one had a homely feel with a luxurious touch. A semi-circular huge bookshelf loomed over her, and a small wooden round table with a red cushion chair sits in the middle. Directly above the table hangs a golden, glamorous chandelier which makes the room more outstanding. There was a polished wooden spiral stairs beside the bookshelf that looks so gorgeous. She finds herself gravitating towards it.

 

“This is… just amazing. It’s beautiful,” Elena murmurs with breath-taking awe as she spins around slowly, absorbing every single detail in all at once. Even the wood flooring was perfectly varnished that it sealed the whole collection which seems to have an all wood interior design, thus creating a perfect, classic bold nuance.

 

“Just wait till you get to the top,” teases Katherine with a tiny smirk as she nods at the spiral stairs that Elena was lightly tapping the railings of. She takes her time climbing, step by step and her eyes roam towards the jutting, protruding wall that they exited from. She stills and watches with fascination at Katherine gliding to another bookshelf and her slender fingers tilt the edge of the book towards her. It looked like a thick black book embossed with a thin sliver trimming. There were no words or pictures on the hardcover which had her curiosity piqued.

 

What contents could there be in such a book?

 

She lets out a tiny quiet ‘oh’ when her question is answered upon hearing the same grating noise as the protruding wall slowly swing back into place, hissing shut. It was a lever designed and disguised as an ordinary book.

 

Whoever designed this mansion was a genius. Secret tunnels and hidden levers. I wonder what other secrets await me.

 

Spotting Katherine sauntering towards the stairs jolts Elena out of her thoughts, and she continues climbing the steps until she reaches the top landing. It seemed to be some sort of a private lounge area with an array of couches, loveseats, and ample armchairs occupying the middle space. Rows and rows of bookshelves fill every inch of the wall.

 

 

 

 

Her feet twist and turns slowly on the spot in the middle of the private lounge; her vision spins in a collective surreal of magnificent delight. She could live in here forever, surrounded by books and fantasy. A silhouette, in the form of brown curls, alluring dark smoky eyes, and sultry pink painted lips, steps into Elena’s line of sight. Strong, lithe arms catch her twirling in a slow-motion mid-spin; delicate hands gliding down her sides and stopping at her waistline. A soft gasp escapes as the proximity between them vanishes with each step.

 

“Waltz with me,” her counterpart whispers as nimble fingers dance sprightly down Elena’s right hip, skipping to the inside of her arm and trailing downward till they reach their goal. A hand intertwines with her right before lifting their clasped hands together and moving to shoulder height.

 

Elena shakes her head in response and mumbles, “There’s no music. I- I don’t know how...”

 

“We don’t need music. Just follow my lead,” replies Katherine as she brings her younger doppelganger’s left hand and places it onto her own right shoulder. Her other hand glides smoothly to rest at Elena’s left shoulder blade.

 

She bites her lower lip in worry. “What if I mess up?”

 

Katherine meets her eyes and smiles warmly. “You won’t.”

 

Although she stumbles and trips clumsily on her own two feet during the first few attempts, her body naturally reacts to Katherine. A thigh brushing against her inner thigh indicated her to step backwards while a loss of contact indicated her to step forwards. She listens to her older counterpart counting steadily and she follows suit.

 

“You’re doing great,” Katherine praises.

 

Her chest bobs out, bubbling with warmth at the encouragement yet there was something niggling behind at the back of her mind. It was the smile, Elena realized; it felt strained as though Katherine was hiding something from her. Her dark eyes no longer held the same glint of playfulness. They diminish in intensity and something else had replaced it. Katherine nods her head, bumping her forehead against Elena’s. She could feel a thin layer of moisture pooling at the contact. She notices Katherine blink a couple of times but her thick lashes flutter shut each time.

 

During all the time spent in here, Elena has never felt cold or hot. She felt fine. Normal. She didn’t have any urges when passing by the kitchen or the bedrooms. She simply didn’t feel hungry or tired. However, it seems her counterpart doesn’t share the same sentiment. Every time Katherine reappeared, she seemed more exhausted than before. Her smiles became more forced and she sometimes had a glazed look in her eyes. There was something wrong.

 

Elena steps backwards, half-intending to steer Katherine towards the red velvet armchair behind them. The brief loss of contact causes Katherine to jerk upright and blink confusedly at her surroundings. The older vampire barely moves an inch much to Elena’s dismay.

 

“I… I just need a minute.”

 

Did she just stutter?

 

Elena scrunches her forehead in concern. Katherine never, once faltered in her words or movements. She was graceful and nimble, flawless in everything Elena couldn’t be.

 

“You’ll feel better if you sit,” she cajoles and steps closer to the nodding vampire. She reaches out to stroke Katherine’s cheek whilst the other hand rests at the vampire’s hip. She presses her lips against Katherine’s jawline and trails a serial of slow kisses, murmuring, “Take your time. I’m not going anywhere.”

 

Elena hears Katherine mumble incoherently with her eyelids shut tightly so she steps a little closer, pressing her body against the vampire’s. She gently leans her forehead against Katherine’s sweat-sheened forehead, letting the tips of their noses brush. She doesn’t know how much time in the real world has passed. Every dream she had with Katherine felt so surreal and timeless as though she could stay in this position forever and not feel tired. She knows that the minute is up and has been over for a while now, but she can’t bear to move away.

 

So she stands... and she waits.

 

 

 

 

Elena reopens her eyes again and sighs disappointedly when Katherine still has hers closed. Her breathing is much shallower than before. It wasn’t a good sign but she doesn’t know what else to do, other than to allow her counterpart lean onto her.

 

“We can’t stay like this,” she states and wonders if Katherine had even heard her.

 

“Katherine?”

 

The vampire hardly budges from her spot and Elena frowns, her hands moving up to shake Katherine by the shoulders. She calls her name louder. Katherine doesn’t so much as stir but her silhouette begins to waver in front of Elena. Panicking, Elena shouts in horror and grips tightly onto the older vampire’s shoulders.

 

 


 

 

The shout of her name jolts her instantly that she finds herself blinking confusedly at her younger doppelganger staring at her in worry and alarm. Relief flashes onto Elena’s expression briefly, before full-fledged worry swims into view. Something trickles down to her philtrum, making its way down to her upper lips. She swipes her tongue at it and tastes blood.

 

A white napkin appears from Elena’s hand out of nowhere and Katherine feels its soft texture dabbing gently at the bloodied area. She wonders if her doppelganger realized that she had just conjured the napkin.

 

Elena’s lips are moving slowly and it gleans onto her that Elena has been trying to catch her attention. The lines on her forehead crinkle with worry, and all Katherine wants to do is smooth them away. But her hands won’t move and she can’t quite feel her legs. She glances down to find the outline of her body vibrating. She’s losing control. Katherine looks up and realizes Elena is talking quicker than ever but she can’t hear a sound.

 

Focus. God damn it!

 

“You’re still bleeding. Why aren’t you healing?”

 

“Katherine!”

 

“Hey! Wake up, bitch!”

 

“Katherine! What’s going on? What aren’t you telling me?!”

 

Everything rushed into her senses at once. She stumbles forwards as Elena tugs hard at her arm, pulling her towards the spiral stairs. When they reach the top landing, the entire structure of the stairs just collapses to the ground. Katherine yanks Elena back towards her and looks around for another route.

 

“It’s happening again. The dream. It’s collapsing!” Elena is shouting while struggling to balance as jagged lines on the carpet marble appear and erupt from the ground. Books knock against one another and topple out of the shelves, crashing loudly onto the ground. A sharp pain flares on the same side of the cheek. Huge chunks of plaster begin falling from the ceiling and Katherine scrambles to dodge whilst holding Elena tightly.

 

She breaks her hold on Elena for a second and shoves her to the other side of the crumbling hallway as the enormous chandelier crashes in between them. She turns around and makes to dash towards her doppelganger who, on the other hand, is screaming at her to stay back. It doesn’t register to Katherine until she feels something large and heavy slam her into the ground. She goes under, swept away into the darkness.

 

 


 

 

Mystic Falls Memorial Hospital. Third Floor.

Ward B. Room 04.

 

“Hey! Wake up, bitch!”

 

He pokes at her arm harder but the girl lying on the cot just doesn’t move. He had spent weeks hearing Grey complaining endlessly that someone had stolen her doctor’s coat with her name badge attached and her shoes whilst she was in the shower. He and the rest of the second-year interns had thought one of the residents were playing a prank on them. It was either Karev or Sloan; he knew one of them loved teasing Lexi. However, it had turned out to be none of them but some teenage kid with curly hair who was currently napping in front of him.

 

He had a million other things to do besides wrestle Lexi’s coat from the sleeping girl who had wrapped herself like a makeshift blanket. He grabs her shoulder to shake the girl awake. There was no sign of the kid even responding.

 

Oh, come on! Wake up. Wake up. Would you fucking just wake up! Bailey’s going to have my ass if I don’t report to her soon!

 

He grumbles under his breath, “Fucking kid is such a heavy sleeper.”

 

Running out of time and options, he raises his palm back and swiftly strikes the side of her cheek. A loud yelp escapes upon his open palm connecting with the girl’s flesh. “Ooww! What the fuck!”

 

It felt like he was hitting a cold slab of concrete instead of soft flesh. He leans forward and notices the teenage girl’s exposed skin had no visible goosebumps. But her touch was cold and she wasn’t even shivering.

 

How weird.

 

He presses two fingers of his uninjured hand against the side of her neck to find her pulse. There was nothing, not even a beat. But there had to be one. He bends down to angle the side of his face towards the sleeping teen. Maybe all that shouting from Bailey and Sloan combined made him temporarily deaf earlier.

 

Next time, just do what Sloan says, no matter how ridiculous it sounds. Anything is better than Bailey glaring at you like scum.

 

A hand shoots up out of nowhere and grips the front of his scrubs, yanking him roughly down all the way. “W-Whhaa-”

 

Something sharp and pointy grazes the exposed area of his throat and then he feels a combination of hot, blinding pain like his throat was being sliced open by a scalpel, and something sticky started to drip down his neck and seep through his scrubs. He yells in panic and tries to disengage himself from the crazy bitch but he finds himself being dragged down until his cheek smashes onto her shoulder. She’s… making loud slurping noises in his ear; it was the exact same sound Lexi had liked to do. She would slurp noisily during their breaks with a well-satisfied smile because she had gotten the last cup of Slush.

 

“S-st-o-op-p!”

 

Dizziness settles in and he can’t stop himself from keeping himself awake. He can feel his scrubs clinging onto him and he can’t keep his eyelids open for more than ten seconds. His eyelids flutter shut for the last time and he doesn’t feel his body crashing to the white tiled floor.

Chapter Text

“It’s happening again. The dream. It’s collapsing!”

 

Elena yells to Katherine who seems to have snapped back to the present situation. "We have to go!" She grips onto the railings for support as another jagged line appears on the carpeted marble floors and erupts towards the bookshelves. Books simultaneously knock against one another until they tether towards the edge and topple out of the shelves like dominoes. The jagged lines do not stop but continue to surge upwards, ripping the ceiling apart. Large chunks of plaster begin falling and landing on top of furniture with a resounding crash. Elena finds herself shoved and tugged roughly towards the majestic doors of the hallway as the library starts collapsing. A hand appears suddenly in her line of vision as it pushes her forcibly out of the way.

 

She lands on the carpeted floor hard on her hips and grimaces in pain. In front of her lies the remains of a giant chandelier and it was then that she spots Katherine attempting to find a way around the fallen debris to get to her. She knows she should feel grateful that her counterpart has yet to abandon her, yet there was a tiny mix of confusion as to why the dream has yet to collapse altogether.

 

Crack!

 

The sound draws her attention to the high-arched ceiling to discover large crooked lines etching across. A loose chunk of concrete was threatening to drop at any moment and it so happened that Katherine was still oblivious to the danger.

 

"Katherine! Stop! What are you doing?"

 

Why isn't she listening? Can't she hear me?! She's going to get herself killed!

 

Elena repeats her yelling, her volume increasing in crescendo. "Stay back! Katherine! God Damn it! Just stop!"

 

By the time Katherine stopped and actually looked at her, it was far too late. Elena’s eyes widen with horror as the debris smashes the older vampire into the ground. There was a rumbling sound as the ground quaked beneath her feet. Still reeling in shock, Elena stumbles and grabs the nearest door handle, swiftly yanking the door open. White blinding light surrounds her entire being, causing her to raise her arms up as a shield.

 

 

 

 

In the dark abyss, she wanders alone and frightened. Is this another dream? Where is Katherine? Is she here too? She can neither speak nor scream for help; it was as though her throat has clamped itself shut. She couldn’t see anything but pitch blackness. Silence creeps upon her for a long time that she heard nothing until now.

 

Beep. Beep. Beep.

 

What is that sound?

 

She pauses and listens as the beeping noises grow louder steadily. Her ears perk up at the sound of two distinct sets of voices thundering above her. She can't make out the words, but she recognizes one of the voices. It sounded familiar and comforting. One female and an unknown detached voice.

 

I know that voice. It's Aunt Jenna. It sounds like she's having an argument with someone else that isn't Uncle John. If Aunt Jenna is here... then where am I? How do I get out?!

 

She hears the beeping noises again. Her head is throbbing; a small ball of warmth has covered her right fist. It feels good. Comforting. Safe.

 

"Elena, sweetie. Please wake up. You need to wake up."

 

Beep. Beep. Beep.

 

Her finger twitches and that voice grows louder. The tone, however, stays the same - soft, reassuring and there was a tiny flicker of emotion Elena took a moment to understand. Encouragement.

 

But how do I... you know, wake up?

 

It was a silly question really, because she just needed to open her eyes. She's lying down on a bed, not as comfy as her own. Maybe it was that realization that actually woke her up.

 

Elena blinks and is greeted by harsh fluorescent lights that blind her sight that she squeezes her eyelids shut. She hears a loud set of cursing coming from her right side, before it switches to that same encouraging tone. Something cool brushes against her cheek and Elena forces herself to squint through the blinding light. She is met with a white ceiling, two familiar faces, and a man standing at the foot of the bed and wearing a white coat with a stethoscope hanging around his neck. Someone had dialed down the brightness of the room.

 

She feels wetness on her hand and shifts her head to the right slightly. Aunt Jenna has pressed her lips to her knuckles as she breathes out a relieved, watery exclamation. "Oh thank God."

 

She shifts uncomfortably and clutches the blanket with her left hand for protection as the man in the white coat watches her watch him scribble something onto the clipboard.

 

She tries to speak, but it comes out as a half cough. Her throat feels as though it had gone through a grater.

 

"Where's..." Katherine? Damn compulsion.

 

The doctor approaches her from the left side and replies in a cold, professional voice. "You’re in the hospital, Miss Gilbert. My name is Dr. Morgan. You were checked into the facility with a high fever running at 103 degrees Fahrenheit and several flagellation marks on your upper chest and abdomen. If you could enlighten us on how you have managed to acquire those inflictions, we would be much obliged."

 

He moves his large hands towards the blanket and Elena bunches the material into her fists tightly. Her head shakes fervently onto the pillows as she shifts away. "Stay... Back..." she croaks out. The doctor just pinches the bridge of his nose, chasing away a disapproving expression. "Miss Gilbert, I have no ill intentions of hurting you. Please do calm down. I really need to check the dressing."

 

He reaches for her once more and her heart beat quickens and spikes sharply, causing the monitors to beep noisily.

 

Beep. Beep. Dot dot dot…

 

She feels hands around her aching body and she starts to thrash wildly, twisting the sheets and blanket as she did so. Don’t touch me. Stop! Please… I'll be good.

 

 


 

 

“Elena, sweetie. He’s not going to hurt you.”

 

“Miss Gilbert, please stop over-reacting to a simple-

 

“Elena, you need to calm down and let the good doctor attend to you.”

 

“Dr. Fell, what is the meaning of this?”

 

“I’m taking over the case.”

 

“Preposterous. This is ridiculous. I do not require your assistance for something so menial-”

 

“You’re agitating the patient, Morgan.”

 

“I’ll be taking this up to your superior, Fell. It doesn’t matter if you’re one of the Founding families, to push your way in and steal my case is just-.”

 

“Just get out of the room, Morgan, and allow me to attend to my patient. Thank you.”

 

 


 

 

Following Morgan’s departure, Meredith is greeted by Sheriff Forbes in her uniform, resting her back against the corner. As she approaches the cot where one Elena Gilbert lay, still thrashing in Jenna’s arms, she grabs the patient’s chart and glances at the neat written notes Morgan had compiled: High fever. Unconscious for extended period of time. Flagellation marks on chest, torso, and inner thighs. Suspected domestic abuse? Discoloration on neck.

 

Shaking her head at her colleague’s over-imagination, Meredith strikes domestic abuse out immediately and then turns her attention back to her young patient. She pastes on a warm, pleasant smile and modulates her tone to sound friendlier as if she was speaking to a friend.

 

“Good morning- sorry, afternoon, Elena. I’m Dr. Fell. You can call me Meredith if you’d like. I apologize for Dr. Morgan’s terrible bedside manners. He has gotten too used to treating adults. You’ve been sleeping for quite a long time. How are you feeling?”

 

She makes sure not to crowd the girl and stays at a respectable distance, not too far away but not too close either. Her patient - Elena Gilbert - has ceased her frantic movements to focus on her with a slight crease in her forehead while Jenna was subtly rearranging the pillows for the younger girl to lean back on.

 

“It hurts,” Elena rasps and begins coughing intermittently. Meredith frowns at the statement and reaches for the morphine dial. Her thumb presses the button to increase the dosage while she observes Jenna pour some water into a plastic cup for Elena to sip. She hears a quiet growling coming from the patient and bites her lip to resist a grin fighting to break loose.

 

“I’ll have the nurse send up some lunch, alright Elena?” She informs the younger girl who nods hesitantly. “Will you allow me to check the dressing?” She receives another tiny nod after Elena shifts her eyes towards her guardian. So far, so good.

 

“Can you pull down the blanket to your waist for me please, Elena?” She receives another tiny nod as Elena’s fists unclench slowly from its gripping hold to push the white fleece blanket down. Her hands fall to her sides and Meredith watches the way Elena’s left hand begins toying with one of the blanket's corner while Jenna has her right hand in a tight hold.

 

“I’m just going to lift your gown up for a bit, okay?” Meredith informs Elena calmly. She raises the flimsy hospital gown up and takes note of the way Elena turns her head away and nuzzles into the pillows further as Jenna whispers soothing words of reassurance into her ear. Meredith turns her attention back to the gauze and gently peels the white bandages off to reveal multiple long strips of pink marks about a centimeter thick in width. Some of the marks have crisscrossed each other but they all seemed to be healing. The patient’s chart stated she had an infection caused by the untreated wounds inflicted and that her upper chest was an ugly shade of red. She keeps her facial expression as neutral as possible. There was no reason to scare her young patient who was in obvious distress.

 

“How is she doing?”

 

It was such a loaded question that Meredith decided to stall for time by smoothing the gauze back into place and pulls the gown down. She then pulls the blanket back up. It would take approximately a week for the fever to disappear, another few more weeks for the marks to recede and there would be scarring. In addition, there was no telling when Elena would recover from the psychological trauma. But Jenna was inquiring and with Elena present, she could only reply vaguely, "Better. Much better."

 

Meredith bids both of them farewell and follows Sheriff Forbes; who seems preoccupied with her phone, out of the room.  

 

 


 

 

[Incoming message from Wilson: New case. Hospital 3rd floor. West wing. Ward 4.]

 

[Outgoing message to Wilson: Roger. See you in a bit.]

 

Elizabeth Forbes jogs down two flights of stairs and heads immediately towards ward number four as indicated in the text message. She rounds the corner, easily stepping past a nurse holding a stack of clipped boards, and taps the back of Wilson’s shoulder as he leans against the doorway.

 

“What have we got?” She asks as he jerks out of his slouched posture to stare disbelievingly at her. He looks down and checks his watch for a minute, before glancing at her.

 

“How did you get here so quickly?”

 

Elizabeth shrugs and steps into the room where one patient lay comatose on the cot with various machines hooked onto him. There’s a metallic twang hitting her nostrils and then her eyes dart to the right, confirming its source. Next to the patient lay an empty cot and a dead man lying face down on the ground. There was a trolley filled with empty blood bags located near the empty cot in the corner.

 

She gratefully takes a pair of disposable gloves from Wilson and snaps them on. She squats and carefully turns the corpse over, so they could get a better picture of what had happened. The victim looked young; maybe in his early twenties, black unkempt curly hair and brown eyes. Wilson whistled lowly as they discover one side of the throat was viciously torn; carotid artery ripped apart. Blood was still trickling out. The attack must have had happened not too long ago because the body was still warm. This meant two things: the assailant, who was most likely a vampire, was either still in the facility, preying on other unsuspecting patients and employees… or the vampire had fled after it attacked this intern.

 

“Get security to initiate a lockdown protocol, but do it discreetly. I don’t want the patients alarmed.” She stops for a moment. “And find the Chief of Surgery to start a headcount of every employee who is currently working on this shift right now,” Elizabeth orders quietly.

 

“Yes sir,” Wilson replies curtly and leaves the room.

 

Elizabeth walks around to the other side of the bed and notes there were some blood spatters towards the edge of the cot. They had a vampire, here, residing comfortably among her people. Uneasiness settles into the pit of her belly and she resists the reflex to swallow involuntarily. It's made itself resourceful, using the hospital as a temporary shelter and a supply food source. How had it known the hospital had recently done a blood drive?

 

 

 

 

With the cooperation with the security guards, they made progress from the third floor onwards to the sixth floor. So far, there had not been any suspicious character behaving oddly. Elizabeth hears her mobile vibrating and pulls it out of her pants pocket without checking the screen.

 

“Forbes.”

 

“Why the fuck can’t I enter the fucking hospital? Get down here, Forbes. Elena is awake and you shut down the hospital?! What the hell is going on?”

 

Elizabeth sighs exasperatedly and counts to ten internally. Of all the calls she could be getting, she had to get one from a frustrated John Gilbert.

 

“There was a vampire residing in the hospital, Gilbert. It killed one intern and stole some blood bags. I will be reopening the hospital after we find the intruder, and you can see Elena later.”

 

Gilbert snaps. “Said vampire won’t be there, hiding in some dark corner of the place and waiting for you to come find him. It’s probably watching you search the entire facility and laughing his head off. Now, tell this guard of yours to let me in.”

 

She heaves an annoyed sigh. “That guard is there for security. Nobody gets in, nobody comes out-”

 

“It’s Damon Salvatore, I’m telling you. I bet he’s directly behind this, to get back at me for that party trick.”

 

Elizabeth nods at the passing guard who flashes an okay sign and begins to walk down the flight of stairs while she switches the phone to her other hand. “Not this again, John. You can’t just go accusing people of being a vampire just because he rubs you the wrong way.”

 

“You want evidence, Liz? Check the Archives, then we’ll see who’s telling the truth.”

 

The line goes dead immediately.

 

Chapter Text

Cursed by the sun, these night walkers are able to roam freely only during the night as they please. Elizabeth remembered reading her ancestor's journals multiple times to have the words seared into her brain. Have they managed to find a way around it? God, she hopes not. How else were they going to tell the difference between a vampire and a human?

 

She still had to deal with both John Gilbert’s and Alaric Saltzman’s accusations that Damon Salvatore might be the vampire causing all this trouble. Damon displayed no sign of being allergic to the sun, but he did react rather harshly to the vervain-spiked champagne. His name was then mentioned again by Saltzman, whether it was out of sheer desperation or a distraction (she couldn't decipher that maniac gleam in his eyes), who claimed Isobel's murderer was her consultant even though he couldn’t provide any physical proof.

 

She was the Sheriff; it was her duty to protect the safety of her townspeople. She couldn’t just base her decisions on rumors. John had told her to check Archives which records every Founding family members' names in its own respective books. It had become tradition that whenever a new generation was born, the respective patriarch of the family was to record their descendants' names into their own journal.

 

On her way out to her vehicle, Elizabeth gives the go-ahead signal to the guard stationed outside. John and Jeremy Gilbert become one of the first few to rush into the hospital. Within ten minutes, her vehicle rolls to a stop into a vacant parking lot. Elizabeth pushes her sunglasses up to rest atop her blonde cropped hair as she steps inside the library. She nods at the receptionist and heads straight towards the back where the Archived records were being kept.

 

The Salvatores' records were kept towards the end of the shelves since they were filed alphabetically. Her finger glides past the thick journals of the Fells’ and Forbes’ respectively, the Gilberts sits staunchly in the middle, then the Lockwoods, and finally, the Salvatores. Elizabeth pulls out the thick, dusty hardcover journal. It looked as though it hadn’t been opened in a long time. There is a thick layer of dust that when she blows at the cover, she ends up inhaling half of the dust instead.

 

Elizabeth knows the first section of the book explains the background of each Founding Family and their decision to settle down in Mystic Falls. She had read her own ancestry journal therefore she knew what to expect; yet Elizabeth can't help feeling that she was about to breach some invisible line of privacy. She could just ask Damon right? They were friends but... would he answer her question honestly?

 

What if John Gilbert was correct in his assumption? Then she would be a fool to direct her suspicion towards the elder Salvatore. Zach Salvatore hadn't replied any of her emails or her messages. If he had gone out of town, she and the other Founding Council members should have at least heard from him by now. However, it seems the arrival of both Salvatore brothers have caused Zach to disappear without a trace. It was undoubtedly suspicious, now that Elizabeth has started to prod on the thread.

 

Not interested in the first two sections of the journal, Elizabeth flips towards the end of the journal. It was just more effective if she checked the family records to confirm the truth for herself. On one page states the first generation chronologically, starting from the patriarch, matriarch, and down to their children and their next descendants.

 

Name.........................................Date of birth..................Year Deceased

Giuseppe Salvatore.................October 9, 1810.........................1864

Lilian Salvatore..........................May 24, 1816..........................1858

Damon Salvatore.......................June 18, 1841..........................1864

Stefan Salvatore......................November 1, 1846.....................1864

Zachariah Salvatore..................April 30, 1879..........................1912

Joseph Salvatore...................February 8, 1917.........................1953

Zach Salvatore........................January 3, 1966...................................

 

 

Her index finger runs back to the record and slides sideways to the dates. That is- that’s not possible. Could there be a mistake in the records? Why are Damon and Stefan’s names recorded in the nineteenth century period?

 

Elizabeth flips a couple of well-worn pages back until an old, clipped photograph of a man wearing a tall hat and dressed in a suit stood in the center with his arms draped over the recognizable figures of both Damon and Stefan. She claps her hand over her mouth to suppress any syllables from escaping.

 

Oh my god! He’s right. That means they’ve been dead for at least… a hundred and fifty years. So if they’re both looking well and alive, then they must be… vampires, right? Because they’re certainly not walking zombies. I have to alert the council; they need to know! He was right under my nose and I didn’t even realize something was wrong. Did Damon kill Zach? Is that why he hasn’t been replying my emails? Why didn't the sun burn him?

 

 


 

Mystic Falls Memorial Hospital. Fourth Floor

Ward B. Room 06.

 

It has been roughly an hour ago since the nurse had stopped by with a tray of food for her dinner, and three hours since she was able to convince Aunt Jenna that she would be fine for one night and that she could leave with Uncle John and Jeremy to get her first good night of rest. Silence permeates the room between the light scratching of pen on paper with intermittent small bouts of coughing fits. She had missed out a week of school work and though the teachers were sympathetic about her plight and have given her double the time to complete all the homework assignments, Elena planned to complete at least one subject before her week ended. The black printed words in her textbook have begun to blur together until they formed a thick, black squiggly line across the page. She blinks rapidly in an attempt to re-focus, rubbing at her eyelids with the back of her left hand.

 

"You’re supposed to be sleeping, not doing homework at midnight."

 

The disapproving voice belongs to a woman dressed in a white coat, who has closed the door; the sound of her heels click noisily against the smooth tiles. Dr. Fell had bid her goodnight approximately two hours ago, so it couldn't be her. It must be another doctor then, Elena concludes. The doctor has her back facing her as she begins to shut the blinds in her room. When the woman turns around, her quizzical expression switches to one of genuine surprise at her mirror reflection standing in front of her.

 

Is this real?

 

Her grip on her ballpoint pen loosens and it rolls harmlessly to the table. Elena stares at her duplicate before sending a tiny hesitant smile. "Is this real or just another dream?"

 

Katherine's head tilts slightly at her question and quirks her lips. Her heels click softly towards the side of the cot until she reaches the edge of the mattress. She could feel the mattress dip as the older vampire settles opposite of her rather comfortably. Her body jolts in response to Katherine pecking her on the cheek, before leaning back.

 

"You tell me," she replies a minute later.

 

Elena frowns slightly and accuses, "I don’t know. You put me under. I was out for a week, Katherine."

 

"Your fever spiked. There was very little-"

 

"You lied to me. I asked you if everything was fine out there, and you told me not to worry," Elena bristles at the older vampire. She wanted nothing more from Katherine, but to complete her chemistry homework in peace. Avoiding Katherine's identical hazel irises, Elena opens her mouth to order the vampire out. Instead, a serial bout of coughing spell erupts from her dry throat, has her clutching at her stomach, eyes tearing.

 

Her shoulders are pushed gently back to rest against the propped up pillows. The blurry outline of a partial pink object appears in her line of sight as the plastic tip touches her pale pink lips, and a trickle of cool liquid flows through, quenching her thirst while suppressing the spell temporarily. Nothing else is said between them until the contents of the cup are emptied.

 

"I wasn’t working- I was never in cahoots with Saltzman. I need you to know that. I never intended for this to happen," Katherine says, catching her glare and holding it.

 

"But you gave him the remote," Elena insists as she recalled the humiliating memory and shudders involuntarily.

 

Katherine shakes her head and replies, "I left the box in the teachers' lounge. I received word shortly of Saltzman taking it."

 

 

Oh.

 

After a few moments of tense silence, Elena thinks she feels a sense of regret from Katherine’s subdued and suddenly solemn expression. Elena surprises her older counterpart and even herself by thinking aloud, "Chloe and Melissa are working for you, aren't they?"

 

Katherine nods in silent acknowledgement and Elena presses on. "They came by this afternoon." The duo had interrupted a visiting session with Bonnie and Caroline, who had been explaining something then. Elena recalls the stunned expression from Bonnie whose brows had shot up past her fringe as the girls breezed through the room to dump a hefty pile of papers which she later learned to be all the homework she had missed out on. By the time, Caroline manages to splutter a comment, they had strode out of the room, with Melissa winking at her.

 

Katherine starts and then cuts her question off uncertainly. "May I-"

 

However, Elena nods all the same and allows Katherine to lift the flimsy hospital gown up and past the covered torso. She doesn't hide a tiny shiver as the bandages are peeled back slowly. Elena observes the older vampire’s closed off expression. "That bad, huh," Elena states eloquently. She was prepared for the worst.

 

"Would you like to get out of here quicker?"

 

Elena stares at Katherine's determined expression, feeling a bit of confusion settling in. How was she going to accomplish that? Her chest hurt too much that sometimes it becomes painful even to breathe. Not trusting herself to speak, she nods and stares transfixed at Katherine slicing her palm open with a fingernail.

 

Her counterpart makes a fist over the tiny, clear plastic cup on the portable table that once held the pills, allowing her regenerative blood to dribble into the container. Only when the cup is partially full, that Katherine stops and passes it to her to drink.

 

"Bottoms up," murmurs Katherine.

 

Elena quips back lightheartedly, “On doctor’s orders?"

 

She gulps the blood down and returns the pink-smeared cup to the older vampire who crushes it and vanishes from the room in a second, before reappearing next to Elena as her shoulders bump playfully against hers while kicking off her pair of heels.

 

"Now, will you sleep?" orders Katherine whilst pressing some buttons on the side of the cot to have it return to its resting position.

 

Shifting slightly to accommodate Katherine, Elena pursues her lips in a pout and protests, "But I'm not sleepy."

 

A yawn escapes which she immediately tries to hide; but Katherine had already seen it. With her insistent tugging and maneuvering, Elena gives up resisting and rests her head on top of the older vampire’s chest just like before and closes her eyes. Her hand glides down Katherine's shirt to wrap around her waist.

 

Five minutes later, Elena shifts and risks a peek to discover Katherine already sound asleep, her curls spread all over the pillows. She stifles a chuckle, shakes her head and goes back to working on her homework in silence.



Chapter Text

“One thing you learn about doing magic tricks for a living is the close shave in every performance of every magic trick is akin to disaster. There are no robust magic tricks. They’re all hanging from a thread - sometimes literally.” - Penn Jillette

 

She shouldn’t have left despite their attempts to force her tired body home, to take a refreshing shower and sleep in her own soft, comfortable bed where the linen sheets smell of hers than having the smell of disinfectant plunging her nostrils every time she pulled the blanket up to her neck as she tossed restlessly on the makeshift cot. She deliberately ignores her nephew’s and John’s protests and strides towards the hospital, leaving them lagging behind. Without pause, she pushes the doors with her body weight, but she needn’t have as they swing open soundlessly with ease. A draft of air hits Jenna’s face, warm; with a tincture of bleach. She passes by a nurse in pink scrubs who greets her ‘good morning’ and she nods in return, without breaking her pace.  Her finger jabs at the lift button impatiently as her ears alert to heavy footsteps against the slate-tiled floors. The stainless steel lift doors slide open and she steps inside and jams the button that will take her to the correct floor. Her eyes blink indifferently to John’s glare and Jeremy’s sleepy eyes squinting against the harsh fluorescent lights.

 

“What was that for? Couldn’t you wait for me to actually park the car before you go running off?!” John huffs angrily as he turns around and presses the same lighted button. A closed smirk forms on her dry cracked lips, disguising the dread pulling at the pit of her stomach.

 

“I shouldn’t have left her. Something feels wrong!” Jenna replies and fixates her concentration to the digital screen for the up arrow to appear while mentally willing the lift doors to close and ascend upwards. She had woken up in cold sweat in the middle of the night, her senses tingling with fear and panic. The elevator shudders to a halt and as soon as the doors slide open wide enough for a person to sidle through, Jenna was the first one out. She turns into another long, narrow hallway; they’re all the same, never broad enough for the modern equipment that must pass in opposite directions. She briefly ponders on the number of equipment casualties that have happened in these hallways, with the frenzied thundering of footsteps, loud shouting, and tiny wheels braking and screeching to avoid the other. Every few seconds, she passes a different set of doors with a hand-sanitizer dispenser: to oncology, to pediatrics, to maternity. She passes them all heading to emergency, because that’s where her niece is. The air has a pure fragrance compared to the lobby floor, not sterile, just clean. In the background, music is playing from the speakers at just the right volume to give the patients and staff an emotional lift.

 

Jenna stops right in front of the room and turns the brass door knob slowly, before poking her head in. There she discovers an unexpected sight - Elena up, awake, and digging into her breakfast with a touch of over enthusiasm as opposed to the previous days where she was feeling too lethargic and Jenna had to literally force feed her.  

 

“Hey,” she greets softly, not wanting to startle Elena who jumps easily at the slightest noise. Elena looks up from the half-empty plate and breaks into a nervous smile. “Morning Aunt Jenna,” she returns the greeting as Jenna has already taken quick steps towards one side of the cot.

 

“You looked better.” Jenna comments, unable to stop staring at the younger girl whose cheeks are tinted with a healthy blush and color in her lips. She reaches out for a hug which Elena reciprocates immediately. Her body temperature feels normal which is strange in a good way as her eyes peer discreetly at the monitor screen. Huh. What a surprise. Even the machine records it as 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. Not that she was complaining, but how did the fever disappear so quickly in one night? It had only been yesterday that her body temperature was at a hundred degrees. Does it mean the antibiotics has run its course, ridding her body of the infection?

 

Jenna eases up on the bear-like hug and settles into the nearest plastic chair.  She could see John and Jeremy hanging back and lingering nervously near the doorway as though they half expect Elena to start screaming hysterically. However, neither the screams nor the panic return. As if on cue, Elena just motions them closer.

 

"Morning Uncle John. Jer... What are you both still standing there for?"

 

Jenna doesn’t even bother to hide a grin as Jeremy hurries over to plop down on the nearest seat on the other side. "I'm so glad you're back to being you again," he states earnestly.

 

"Can I, please, go home?"

 

John just stares at the monitors,; looking rather confused, and then at Elena, slowly questioning, "How are you feeling, Elena?"

 

"I feel great," she chirps energetically.

 

"Cool. Does that mean we can all go home now?" Jeremy pipes up instantly, straightening from his slouched posture. Before Jenna could formulate a response, a firm knock against wood accompanied by Dr. Fell’s head poking in alerted her.

 

"Oh. Good Morning. All of you are up very early. We've only just began our rounds," Meredith smiles as she enters and stops at Jeremy's left shoulder. Jenna observes the brunette check her chart and then glance up at the monitor, looking a bit baffled for a moment before looking down again.

 

"That can't be right," Meredith mumbles as she start pressing some buttons on the monitor. When the screen fails to produce another image, Meredith motions Jeremy to step aside and her hand dips inside the deep pockets of her lab coat and produces a thermometer. She addresses Elena to tuck her hair behind her left ear, before inserting the tip into her ear drum. Meredith blinks disbelievingly at the number as she scribbles furiously onto her chart. "It's at 98.6 degrees. She doesn't have a fever anymore."

 

"Awesome." Jeremy chimes in energetically from the doctor’s left side.

 

"Yes- but- it's not possible..." Meredith squints at Elena puzzledly and Jenna knows the feeling. Her symptoms aren't adding up. She had a bad bout of coughing fits two nights ago and Jenna was rather reluctant to leave Elena alone, afraid that she would stay up all night, unable to get a wink of sleep. She had expected to walk into the room and find Elena moaning, tossing and turning restlessly in her sleep, instead of being up, early and eating.

 

"Okay, okay. Fever’s gone means the infection has stopped. Next step-." Jenna catches onto the partial muttering of words. Elena leans back against the pillows, looking uneasy all of a sudden that has Jenna reaching out to rub her shoulder and arm soothingly.

 

"It's okay, Elena. She just needs to check the dressing." The men back aside to provide some modicum of privacy. With Elena’s tiny nod of permission, the hospital gown gets pulled up and the gauze peeled back to reveal unblemished skin. There are no ugly pink pulsating wounds, no scars marring her chest and torso. There was literally nothing. They’d just, disappeared. Like it had never been there.

 

Jenna ricks a glance at Meredith who just looks perplexed by the whole situation whilst Jeremy seems rather unconcerned and is just bouncing on the balls of his feet. He has that odd, knowing glint in his eye; one that Jenna has gotten well-acquainted with after all the pranks he has pulled. Elena’s expression, on the other hand, has changed from energetic to just plain awkward and downright uncomfortable from being shoved into the spotlight. Her hand teeters from the uncertainty of wanting to yank the gown down to pull the blanket back up. Jenna watches as the doctor hesitates for a brief moment, after giving a peculiar look to John, before pressing two fingers gently against Elena’s abdomen experimentally.

 

“Does this hurt, Elena?”

 

Her niece flinches at the touch but shakes her head, a tiny strangled laugh escapes her. “Tickles…” The doctor stops her administrations, scribbles on her chart once more, and then turns to her. "She's healthy. I don't see a reason to keep her any longer, but I'll be sending a nurse in shortly for a final blood work check."

 

"Dr. Fell, a word," John tilts his head towards the hallway and they leave. Jenna ignores the duo leaving and catches Elena’s hand that was in the midst of smoothing the gown down. Her index finger brushes gently over the smooth skin, trailing a path from between her breasts down to her abdomen and then to her left side. Her skin feels smooth and there are no bumps or those little flaps of fake synthetic skin that the actors wear over their skin in those grisly horror movies.

 

What kind of magic is this? Jenna ponders as she helps smooth the gown down and pull the blanket back up. Elena still has her eyes averted while her hands fiddle with the fleece. Jeremy has reclaimed the other seat, grinning excitedly at Elena’s nervous smile, as he rambles away on the week’s events. Something odd was going on between them and Jenna wants to know.

 

 


 

 

John leads Meredith away from the room and spins around onto the brunette as soon as they are out of sight. Ignoring a nurse passing them by, he hissed at her, "The gig's up, Fell. What did you give Elena?"

 

"N-Nothing. I'm just as surprised as you are," she replies. He scoffs and moves into a nearby stairwell to prevent any curious eavesdroppers from intruding. “Bullshit. I know you wrote your thesis on regenerative blood being the miracle solution to all illnesses.”

 

“It’s all theoretical. It’s not like I have access to vampire’s blood to recreate a synthetic formula,” she defends, slapping his offending hand away. “I should be asking you since you’ve decided to show up only once right after Elena wakes up. Next thing I know, she’s perfectly healthy. What’d you say to convince Salvatore to donate his blood?”

 

“Wait… You know.”

 

“Of course I do. I know my history.”

 

 


 

Salvatore Boarding House

 

"Hello. Anybody home?"

 

Pushing open the door, Katherine saunters inside and closes the door behind her. Her hand travels down and latches on her hips as she shifts her weight from side to side in an act of indecision. She calls out once more for both brothers and is met with silence. Shrugging her concern off despite noting that both their vehicles are parked in the driveway, she blurs up the stairs and enters Stefan’s room.

 

His room is more organized and neater than Damon’s. She has noticed Damon likes to clump his favorite music discs together, stacking them right on top while leaving the other collections at the very bottom. Stefan, on the other hand, just organizes his possessions and journals in a chronologically manner. She pulls out each drawer revealing tiny little compartments that are separated by a fine wooden slate. He keeps odd trinkets and miscellaneous junk here and there. So far, she has managed to find one of her hairpieces she’d worn, an old photograph of her, and a raggedly, tattered pouch. It stuck out like such a sore thumb that Katherine loosens the drawstrings and turns the pouch upside-down. A circular device with a silver back slides out and lands on the table. Her head tilts as she studies the odd object. It has to be what Gilbert was looking for. He had sent her one text message stating the cog wasn’t in the tomb and that he had searched every inch of it. According to the Gilbert journals, it was allegedly reported to have gone missing after a meeting up with Pearl. Somehow, the cog turns up in Stefan’s room coincidentally.

 

“My dear Stefan, you’re quite the hoarder besides your cannibalistic desire to rip people’s heads off,” Katherine muses to an empty room as she inspects the mechanical cog about the size of a quarter. She slides it back into the pouch and speeds out of the room, heading towards the main door. Her stomach growls in protest, and she backtracks back to the basement.

 

The steel door was hidden behind a sliding fake bookcase. She shoves the thick handle down and frowns upon hearing a quiet rustling that sounds distinctly of pages in a book being flipped, the squeaking of springs protesting from beneath the mattress from one of the cells that was dimly lit. That was odd. She wasn’t aware of any newcomer that had arrived in town recently. Was it a prisoner who had grown resigned from screaming for help?

 

Her curiosity grows as she blurs down the concrete steps silently and peers through the metallic bars of the cell door. Lying carelessly on the bare thread-thin mattress, with his left arm tucked under his head clearly used as a support, his idle hand holds a worn novel as he turns the page with little difficulty. On the walls appear to be a carving of lines being crossed off; it looks like he’s been holed up for more than three weeks now. His hair sticks out haphazardly from all directions as he shifts his head every now and then, his head turns. His eyes grow wide and she could feel hers widening in recognition: Stefan.

 

“Elena?”

 

 

Chapter Text

“Is this your new living quarter?”

 

Her inquisitive comment shifts the dirty concrete ground from beneath his feet and throws him off. He could almost feel an invisible tug-of-war going on with the corners of his lips as he fights the urge between smiling at her sudden appearance or pulling a dark scowl. He ends up grimacing instead when she steps into the light. Her hair was curled too much like Katherine’s,  but her style of dressing has yet to change. Today, she is decked out in a light-purple long sleeved shirt and jeans. He opens his mouth to reply but nothing comes out. A couple of deep, forceful breaths later, he rasps quizzledly, "Don't you remember...?"  

 

I mistook you for my crazy psychotic ex-girlfriend and then tried to kill you. Damon believed I was solely responsible for kidnapping Katherine with the help of the 1864 vampires. Then there's this large paragraph written in the diary by my own messy scrawled handwriting that I clearly don't remember, much less explained how it'd gotten there.

 

Stefan trails off uncertainly as he recalls the incident that landed him into a cell. After that, Damon had shown up randomly at the oddest time with a half filled bottle of squirrel blood. It had messed up his sense of time and then shortly after that, Elena had stopped visiting. So why now? She was so terrified of me back then. Why is she here with a spanking, brand new attitude? Did Damon compel her to forget?

 

"You shouldn't be here, Elena. Does Damon know you're here?"

 

"I- I wanted to see you," she whispers and steps forward towards the cell door. He catches the faint creaking of the thick metal bolt against the cylindrical latch clinking against the door. He sees her grim determination sketched all over her beautiful features and he knows what she was planning to do without looking down. His brain shuts down. He can feel the muscles from his biceps to his calves slacken. His skin feels clammy and cold. A glisten of cold sweat drips from the nape of his neck and trickles down his spine. He couldn’t allow her- He would never jeopardize her safety for the sake of his own freedom. He has to warn her.

 

"No! Don't. Don’t let me out, Elena."

 

She flinches at his panicked shout and he modulates his tone, wincing internally. "I'm dangerous. I remembered a girl in the woods. She was bleeding... I think... her blood just sang to me and I tried- I tried to will myself not to... but I was too weak. I killed her, Elena. I tried to save her but I ended up draining her. I don't want that to happen to you."

 

"You’re not going to hurt me, Stefan." He can hear more clinking noises and he yanks the bars of the cell door back so she couldn’t pull the door open towards her, not with his combined weight. "You never could."

 

What did she mean by that?

 

He stares at her perplexedly as she takes a step back, away from the light and nearly disappears  into the shadows. Then there was this absolute stillness slicing through the room like a sharp blade; his stolen blood grows as cold as the chilled air that creeps underneath the thick, hidden cellar door. Silence gnaws at his insides. It was like a gaping void, needing to be filled with sounds; words; anything. There was nothing. It was an eerie sort of tranquility, but instead of feeling soothed, his senses heighten. He could hear nothing, not even her heartbeat. He squints into the dimly lit corridor through the steel bars of his cell and he sees her staring back with an unreadable expression.

 

“Elena, I don’t-”

 

He cuts his sentence off the very moment her head tilts to the left with a tiny smirk gracing her lips. Just as he thinks he must have imagined it, it flitters away. Elena never visited him; this was all Katherine. He has spent his summer observing the human doppelganger’s mannerisms; when Elena was confused, she had a tendency of squinting her eyes together while tucking her hair behind her ear. She lacks Katherine’s graceful poise and her stance was always so unguarded and open that it always felt refreshing to be around her. Damon must have freed her from the 1864 vampires and now she’s roaming around town while he is caged and locked up. Speaking of freedom, why hasn’t she left town yet with Damon in tow? Just what could be keeping her in Mystic Falls?

 

He was a fool. Of course, Elena wouldn’t visit him out of the blue. He had nearly succeeded in  detaching her head from her torso. The mere memory of this had his head spinning as he struggles to compose himself. The embarrassment of being tricked by Katherine gives way to a quiet rage that begins to build up from his chest. It tightens into a knot like a cramp and Stefan resists the urge to slam his fist against the wall. Instead he growls, “Katherine!”

 

“Aw… Did you miss me, baby?” She laughs and his teeth clamps down hard on the inside of his cheek to resist the absurd temptation to laugh alongside with her. God, he missed that laugh. So warm and hearty.

 

He snaps back quickly. “I’d rather get a stake through my heart. You compelled my love for you, Katherine. It wasn’t never real.”

 

She ignores his sarcastic reply and turns around to flip the newly installed freezer lid open and grabs a blood bag, before spinning around to face him. His eyes narrow involuntarily and his stomach protests loudly in response to the stale but sickeningly sweet crimson liquid gushing out of the ripped packet and down the blood goes, into her hungry jaws. Her blood-stained lips curl in delight at the sight of his tormented suffering as he desperately grips the harsh, unforgiving steel bars, snarling and baring his fangs. He can’t think straight, not with the heady enticing smell permeating the closed space. He throws his entire weight against the door, but the door barely budges.

 

“Don’t fight it, Stefan. I never compelled your love. It was real, and so was mine,” she states deadpan.

 

“You’re lying. What are you really doing here?”

 

No matter how much he slams his shoulder into the door, he couldn’t break it down. His shoulder was starting to hurt, so he stops reluctantly and settles for glaring at her instead. She rolls her eyes and begins to inspect her manicured nails.

 

“I could ask you the same thing but it really doesn’t matter. I’ve got better things to do than to play twenty questions. I've reinforced the door by the way, thank you for assisting. Bye bye Stefan,” Katherine smirks as she saunters past, swaying her hips as she climbs the steps. Just before she slams the cellar basement door shut, she turns and gives him one last wave and blows a kiss as she quips cheerily, “Oh, and I’ll tell Elena you said hi.”

 

 


 

 

Unknown location, unknown time

 

It watches intently, as she skips down the porch steps of Master's house and takes something shiny out of her pocket while coming towards it. She stops right in front and glares. Loud, noisy sounds escape from her mouth. "Shoo! Blasted bird! Get off my car!" Her hands motion wildly while screeching noisily.

 

"Caw!"

 

It hops off the shiny surface and spreads its magnificent wings, seeking safety from Ugly and Rude Two-legged being. Why did the Master want it to watch Ugly-faced? Does Master want to kill her too? Master likes to toy with them slowly and then snap their poor brittle necks with his bare hands. It tracks the moving cumbersome, shiny disaster on wheels until it disappears out of sight, before ruffling its feathers once more, and taking flight.

 

Humans are funny and stupid. Master is one of them but he's special. He's superior over these puny beings. Master likes to order it to watch this Featherless Nice Two-Legs. With its superior sight, it spots her in a lighted room in a large building, just northwest of it. It switches angles and glides smoothly across the empty green canvass. Its flight dips and swoops in a curved downward descent until its feet hit the window ledge. Featherless is standing in the middle of the room, surrounded by tables and stools. It hops one ledge over the other, until its view becomes unobstructed. It knows not what Nice Featherless is doing here alone, but it found Nice Featherless, Master!

 

"Caw!"

 


 

"You didn’t tell me you were starting a secret pyromaniac club, Bonnie. Where's the sign up sheet?"

 

Damon could barely conceal his uncontained glee as she jumps a foot in the air, her hunched posturing straightens instantly like a snap bracelet. She yelps in surprise and hisses, "Damon! Keep it down!"

 

He counters back quickly, "No shit Sherlock. Put out the fires first."

 

She rolls her eyes and mutters, "They wouldn’t be turned on if you hadn't scared me with your crow magic trick."

 

She closes her eyes and continues chanting as though she hasn't been interrupted. Having nothing to do, Damon turns his attention to the pristine whiteboard. He uncaps one of the colored markers and begins to draw a circle with a pointy triangle on top. His drawing of a stick-person begins to stand out after switching to a bright red marker as the felt tip squeaks loudly against the board. He hears an exasperated huff from behind and ignores Bonnie's exclamation.

 

"Stop that, Damon. You're distracting me."

 

"Am not. I'm just minding my own business while my girlfriend plays with fire in the chem lab."

 

His head swivels around to catch her folding her arms with a furrowed expression. "I'm just practicing-"

 

"With fire," Damon finishes with a smirk to counter her pointed glare.

 

She retorts, "I'm not your girlfriend."

 

Damon just hums from the front of the classroom, his stick drawing forgotten. "Says the girl who invited herself over and nearly set my living room on fire. I quite liked that book by the way."

 

He could almost hear the sheepish silent apology as Bonnie later grumbles, "It got out of hand."

 

He grins cheekily at her admitted reply. "That's alright. You were totally drunk."

 

She retorts quickly, "Tipsy. I was tipsy."

 

His left eye twitches slightly upon realizing all the Bunsen burners' flames have gone from blue to the extreme orange. He makes a noncommittal noise at the back of his throat. "Are you going to put out the fires or do we have to do this the old-fashioned way?"

 


 

 

Gilbert Residence

 

She was just fluffing up her pillow and getting ready to retire when her senses detect a presence by the outskirts of her bedroom door. Her head turns to find Elena clutching her own pillow hovering uncertainly with one barefoot in her room and the other out in the hallway.

 

"Is everything all right, Elena?" Jenna gently inquires.

 

She shakes her head and Jenna furrows her brows at the sight of her niece's shaken expression and how her hazel irises keep darting to the bed where Jenna's currently resting on and then back out of the room.

 

She starts and cuts her sentence too abruptly. "No. Yes. I... It's stupid. I'll... I'll just go."

 

Was Elena afraid of something? Jenna calls out to her and pats the empty space beside her. "Come here, 'Lena. Come on, sweetie," she coaches.

 

She waits patiently until Elena is sitting rather stiffly on the bed, her head ducks down letting her hair cover her face. Jenna lifts two fingers and pushes gently but firmly against the younger girl's chin, tilting it upwards until a pair of fearful eyes stare unblinkingly back at her.

 

"You know you can tell me anything. Elena, if there is something bothering you... I want you to tell me, okay?"

 

She nods nervously and hugs her pillow tighter against her chest. Her own chest aches at the saddened sight of Elena in distress that her arms envelop around her niece's shaking shoulders and tighten imperceptibly.

 

"It's okay. Shh... Everything's going to be okay. I promise, Elena," Jenna murmurs soothingly.

 

She feels Elena resting her cheek against her right shoulder. "Can... can I sleep with you... just for tonight?"

 

Jenna nods reassuringly and continues rubbing her back as she replies, "Of course, sweetie. Any time you want."

 

Chapter Text

One moment she was half-sitting; lounging in an armchair she had claimed. The armchair was something like a creamy leather marshmallow. It was the kind of chair that children love and older people see as a back ache waiting to happen. She was none of the aforementioned and at the same time, she was once both of them. She had won it fair and square. The back of her calves rest against the cushiony arms as she flips a page over. Her ears register the front door slamming shut and the thundering of rushed footsteps. She barely has time to react when another person of similar stature crashes into her, tumbling right into her space.

 

Her brain draws a blank when the familiar pair of slender arms wrap around her neck and the smaller body trembles with every hysterical sob. Katherine doesn’t know what to do next. It was as though the impact had knocked all the air from her lungs, and here she was, in a really uncomfortable position struggling to inhale; exhale; anything. Should she push Elena away to hide any evidence from Damon that they’re more than just friends… or should she rub Elena’s back and try to calm her down?

 

It had been the longest three weeks of her life since her arrival to Mystic Falls that she had truly felt alone. She recalled that very night when she had placed the tattered pouch which held the mechanical cog on Grayson’s work desk in the Gilbert house. She had thought of surprising her doppelganger by entering her bedroom through the door instead of sneaking through the window. However, she was greeted with an empty room. Her fists clenched with a mixture of guilt and anger coursing in her veins when she heard Jenna comforting Elena through the thin plaster walls.

 

An amused chuckle breaks her reverie and she sends a dark glare towards Damon who rises from the couch with his arms raised in mock surrender. “Time to feed the Ripper,” he drawls and exits.

 

Katherine waits until he is out of hearing range before righting herself to a more comfortable sitting position. Rolling her eyes, she pulls Elena who is still sobbing and babbling away onto her lap and begins rocking her like a child. One arm holds her younger doppelganger by her waist securely while the other awkwardly rubs her back in a circular motion. Elena babbles incoherently and Katherine manages to catch the gist of it. The minute her enhanced hearing catches Isobel and Saltzman’s names together, she knows Elena is probably assuming Saltzman is her biological father. She weaves a stream of curses internally at Isobel’s caustic actions while whispering words of reassurances into Elena’s ear.

 

They stay like this for several minutes before Katherine feels Elena settle into her gradually and her hysterical cries subside until all that leaves is an occasional hiccup every now and then. Katherine turns her head very slowly when Damon pops his head into the room with narrowed, shifty eyes and a frown. She’s pretty sure Elena has sort of fallen asleep on her, her light snores and warm breath ghosting against one side of her neck. They can’t stay like this forever. One, if not both, would wake up with cricks in their necks.

 

Making up her mind, Katherine removes her right arm from Elena’s waist and tucks it under the back of her knees while her left arm grips and supports the younger girl’s upper back. Simultaneously rising from the armchair, she lifts Elena up bridal style, with the younger girl’s fingers intertwined around her neck. Katherine walks past Damon who tries to offer his assistance, but with a shake of her head, he relents. She continues to heft the sound-asleep Elena up the stairs with ease and heads into one of the guest rooms. Katherine hears his shuffling feet and grumpiness following her every step of the way. Sometimes, it was like dealing with a temperamental, eager to please puppy yapping at your heels. Her feet swing out sideways to remove the door stopper, and kicks the door gently so the door shuts out any unwanted visitors, even if it happened to be the owner of the boarding house.

 

She reaches the king-sized bed and sets Elena down with some difficulty. It takes several minutes to attempt dislodging her own head from her younger doppelganger’s intertwined arms. Every slight shift Katherine makes, Elena would just hold on tighter, refusing to let go. Twenty minutes later, Katherine is still carrying Elena while her right hip rests against the bed.

 

Sighing tiredly, Katherine lowers herself and Elena down on one side of the bed. She kicks off her heels before scooting back rather awkwardly with Elena still clinging tightly until her back hits the soft, fluffy pillows.

 

“You can let go now, cupcake. I don’t enjoy being strangled while asleep,” Katherine mutters and tugs unsuccessfully at Elena’s hold.

 

“Elena?”

 

She was met with another quiet sigh and more nuzzling into her side.

 

 

 


 

 

It was pitch blackness and her consciousness swirls in the land of dreams, oblivious to the physical world. Hot, bright white light engulf and filter through her thin eyelids, and she groans awake. Rays of brightness cast squares onto the wooden flooring, reflecting onto several objects in the room which decorated its otherwise simple design. She blinks a few times in an attempt to help her eyes adjust to the illumination directed right at her defenseless figure. She spies Damon off to the side, frowning at her with his arms crossed. What was Damon doing in her room?

 

She groans, shuts her eyes, and turns over, away from the harsh, blinding morning sunlight. She rolls and rolls until her face makes contact into something equally soft. She breathes in and draws a breath into the oh-so-familiar scent. Katherine, she thinks.

 

No. Wait… Why are Damon and Katherine both in my room?

 

She forces herself to open her eyes and they widen at the sight of a black lacy bra mashing against her nose. Her cheeks feel hot instantly as her brain jump starts, recalling the previous day's events. This wasn’t her room at all.

 

 

 

Flashback to Mystic Fall High School

 

Elena stared unblinkingly at the bright red remark circled at the bottom of her essay assignment. “See me.” it read. Her stomach was in tangled knots as her hands fumbled for her textbooks lying on her desk. They wouldn’t stop shaking. She thought this would stop, that this would end, but apparently it hadn’t. She remembered the previous months when he waited patiently until the last remaining students had trickled out before raising a brow, and she would shuffle over until she had reached his side. He would pull her onto his lap, thus beginning their usual play-torture session.

 

Her trepidation grew at every step until she reached the side of his desk. She had assumed he wanted to play when she bent forward towards his lap. He stopped her and stammered out his apology. Her whole body shook from embarrassment as his words washed over her. She could still feel his uninviting hands all over her.

 

“Jenna told me…” he swallowed a gulp of air, before continuing. “You were searching for Isobel. I- She died, but you probably knew that. I just- I’m sorry… for all the things I put you through. I- I didn’t know you were… our daughter. You looked so much like her.”

 

She fled.

 

She burst out of the school doors, bypassing her locker that held her jacket. She sprinted out of the building as the world - the life she thought she had - spun and crumbled around her. He wasn’t her father. She couldn’t be his daughter. Someone up there, high above the skies and heaven, was probably watching her through a crystal-shaped orb and guffawing away at her miserable existence.

 

Elena shivered on the spot and dug her fingers deep into her bag until they fished out her car keys. She climbed into the driver’s seat, threw her school bag over to the passenger seat, and just drove right out of the parking lot. She stopped by the Grill and parked her SUV by the curb, but she never got out. Her feet lifted up to rest against the seat as she huddled in on herself as her chin rested against her denim-clad knees.

 

She couldn’t go home. It had his fingerprints all over her house, in the living room, in the kitchen, in Jenna’s room, and even in her own room. She felt dirty when she slept alone in her bedroom even though she knew the bed sheets were clean and washed.

 

She couldn’t remember why she turned left into the forked road instead of going straight down the road. All she could think of was how perfect her arms wrapped around her brought a state of serenity Elena had never known before. In the darkness, their cuddles felt like a touch of heaven, warm, cozy, and safe. If she could have just stopped time and extended the night, just so she could stay close to her for a little while longer.

 

 

 

 

Present day, in Salvatore Boarding House

 

“What’s wrong with you?!”

 

Elena cringes at the sharp tone and moves to put some distance between her double. This was a really bad idea. She shouldn’t have come. She doesn’t get very far when Katherine captures her wrist under the heavy duvet, and her thumb traces tiny, electrifying invisible spirals against her skin.

 

Stay.

 

Elena does as she's told and shuts her eyes once more, burying her face into the pillow as she attempts to ignore an argument brewing between a snappy Damon and an irritated Katherine.

 

 

 

She wakes up an hour later, when the bed grows warm from the sunlight filtering through the windows. Yawning, she kicks the heavy duvet away and clamors out of the expansive bed. Both the vampires have vanished and she peeks her head out of the bedroom. Having been convinced that they probably have gone out to snack on some poor, unlucky soul, Elena blearily rubs her eyes as she steps into the bathroom.

 

She strips and steps into the shower, turning the water on high and letting it beat over her head in steamy rivulets. As the pebbled water pours down in an everlasting cascade of waterfall, her mind fades into dullness and everything else becomes a foggy illusion. Her head turns ever so slightly at the sudden feeling of a cold draft seeping through.

 

Standing in front of her in the steam-filled room, Elena finds a half-pissed off Katherine with one hand on her hip and her dark eyes rake over her naked wet body before snapping back up.

 

“Coming here was one hell of a bad idea, Elena. What the hell were you even thinking? Were you thinking at all?!” Katherine sighs, the frustrated exasperation clear in her tone.

 

Elena replies confusedly, “I just… I needed to see you.”

 

“You can’t, cupcake. It’s not safe here.”

 

Elena frowns perplexed and raises a brow at the same time, watching the tension coiled around the older vampire’s shoulders. “Why not? Why can’t I visit you when you can enter my bedroom anytime you wish?”

 

Katherine rolls her eyes and answers, “Because I’m a vampire, Elena. No one is going to notice me and by the time they realize there’s another presence lurking, I’m already gone.”

 

Katherine moves to the shower entrance and Elena takes the opportunity to slip her wet fingers and untie the silk bathrobe, revealing an equally toned body beneath.

 

“There’s still plenty of hot water left.”

 

Her soft words coach and coerce Katherine in as her wet hand gives a few tugs at the older vampire’s dry hand until the silky robe glides down her back and slips off, floating to the ground soundlessly. Slowly, Elena raises a hand and cups her cheek, before closing the distance to kiss her gently.

 

Katherine mutters into the kiss and Elena smiles despite her grumpy remark of exclaiming that this was a really bad idea.

 

Elena leans her forehead to rest against Katherine’s, the tips of their noses brushing against each other as she breaks away breathlessly.

 

“Maybe… it’s time to get your own place… No more… interruptions,” she pants. Kissing Katherine was like fire sometimes. Full of desire and want. It burned her up until there’s nothing left to give.

 

Elena ducks her head and her teeth clamp down on Katherine’s nipple hard. She hears a reduced groan and her wet hair gets yanked roughly back, forcing her head to tilt upwards, right into the cascading spray. Her eyes close instantly to prevent the water from rushing into her eyes as she chokes and splutters incoherently.

 

Chapter Text

Katherine steps out of the shower and wraps a clean bath towel around her body, leaving a wet trail of footprints and Elena trembling in the corner in her wake. Humming to herself, she takes her time to change into a new outfit and then stops by her dresser to grab a turtleneck, a clean pair of panties, and pair of black pants along the way to the bathroom. She places the folded clothes on the bathroom counter and pulls the towel off the metal rack, before stepping back into the glass shower stall. Elena hadn't moved from the spot where Katherine had left her not a moment before. She could easily see Elena’s clit protruding from its protective hood as the younger girl presses her knees against her breasts, exposing her slick, swollen cunt for anyone to see. Her thigh muscles contract and twitch helplessly with each ragged breath she takes.  

 

Crouching down, she silently bundles Elena tightly with the towel and helps her out. Her hand rubs soothing circles onto her younger doppelganger’s back until Elena begins coughing up the water she had accidentally inhaled.

 

“Take it easy. Just breathe, Elena.” Katherine mutters, one hand still gripping onto the younger girl’s side firmly. Her doppelganger sways on the spot as her chest rises and fluctuates slowly with each breath.

 

“Yeah. No thanks to you,” Elena mumbles under her breath as her fingers fumble at the edge of the counter clumsily, latching on and pulling herself towards it. She stares into half-fogged mirror and meets Elena's reflection staring at her. She swallows and gulps unnecessary air as her eyes roam downwards.

 

“I meant what I said back there,” Elena says solemnly and holds her gaze.

 

“I know,” Katherine quietly answers and nods at the folded clothes. “Get dressed quickly. It’s only ten in the morning and Damon’s already getting on my nerves.”

 

Elena rolls her eyes muttering, “Bossy. If I didn't know you any better, I’d say you were itching for another round.”

 

Katherine’s eyes narrow into crimson slits when Elena drops the towel, revealing her nakedness.  Her traitorous body betrays her, reacting automatically; she growls as her clothed body presses firmly against Elena’s nude back while her hands glide down the smooth, toned arms and latch immediately onto her doppelganger’s hips. In one smooth motion, her tongue darts out of her blood-stained lips to swipe across two recently closed puncture wounds on the girl’s shoulder.

 

Katherine sighs and puckers her lips at the tiny area where shoulder meets neck. She sucks harder at the bare skin upon hearing Elena's tiny whine forming at the base of her throat as she throws her head back, resting against Katherine's right shoulder.

 

“It would be unwise of you to tempt me, Elena,” she warns, nipping at the younger girl’s left shoulder with blunt teeth.

 

“I don’t care,” Elena hisses and drags each word for further emphasis. “Bite me. Drink from me. I know you crave it.”

 

It takes all her willpower to resist Elena’s intoxicating scent wafting into her nostrils, her heart beating excruciatingly loud in her ears, or the way her taut muscles flexed as Elena rolls her shoulders languidly. She fails to stop her hands from moving in sync to the beat of the doppelganger's maddening pulse just vibrating against the tips of her fingers. Katherine flutters her eyelids shut and a throaty moan erupts from her clenched throat when Elena grinds her naked hips against her clothed body.

 

She could easily take Elena again, bend her over the bathroom counter top and ravish her, right here without blinking. The younger girl; still naked with her hot, moist pussy dripping in wanton desire. Maybe she could even sneak another taste in. She could prop one leg up and run her tongue up and down that delicious, delicate slit, catching the tiny trickle of juice running down Elena’s inner thigh. She could easily imagine herself going down that downward spiral of lust, giving into her sexual urges. And then what? She still has to deal with a restless Damon who is probably pacing the long stretch of hallway that connected the foyer, living parlor, and the kitchen together.

 

She breathes through her mouth and exhales through her nose, forcing her thoughts away from Elena’s incessant and excessive hip grinding. She ponders how best to spend her day, her next meal which will not be another blood bag, on which brother to tease and toy for her own entertainment, her plans to put into motion; or just basically anything that didn’t remind her of Elena.

 

Composing herself internally, Katherine schools her expression into an icy glare at the reflection of Elena’s wide smirk and orders in a tone that quells any argument, “Get dressed.” She then abruptly spins on her heels and storms out of the room.

 

She only had to wait for a few minutes until Elena emerged from the bathroom, dressed in the outfit Katherine had given her. Her towel-dried hair was tied up in a ponytail while her fingers fiddle with the neckline of the turtleneck, masking the bites from any peering eyes.

 

Satisfied with Elena’s appearance, Katherine opens the bedroom door and silently gestures Elena out of the room. She follows a couple of paces behind her doppelganger who has begun jogging down the stairs noisily. With the racket Elena makes, she is hardly surprised when Damon appears at the foot of the stairs and yanks Elena roughly towards him. His expression scrunches in confusion and a tinge of displeasure forms, his lower lip curling downward. Like an animal, he sniffs the top of Elena’s head and begins to interrogate her doppelganger who immediately stiffens in his grip.

 

“Why do you two smell the same? She smells like you. You smell like her. What’s going on?”

 

She meets Elena's wide and unblinking doe-eyes head on with an expressionless look. She slinks down the remaining steps and locks eyes with Damon’s dark inquisitive stare.

 

“We've been sharing clothes, Damon. After all, we're the same size. It also saves me the trouble of shopping since you won't lend me your credit card.”

 

Katherine purrs at the end of the sentence and moves behind him. Her hands smooth away any invisible creases on his black T-shirt shoulder to sleeve. Her right hand slides down from the cotton material to his forearm and continues until she reaches the tight grip on Elena’s arm. Her lithe fingers make quick work in loosening his grip-like hold, before replacing with her own and intertwining his fingers with hers.

 

She whispers a string of provocative words in her native tongue into his ear. A triumphant smirk forms on her lips as Katherine marvels at how easy it is to play him like a fiddle. His body rumbles and shivers in nervous anticipation. Katherine takes it as a positive response. She doesn't need to stand in front of him to know he has his eyes closed. Whatever she demands, he would give her everything, including his heart, soul, body, and mind.

 

Her fingers dance and skip across the bare expanse of his pale skin, teasing him. It was a distraction and it was one that had always worked wonderfully. She needed to get her doppelganger out safely. For her plan to work, she needed Elena Gilbert alive and breathing.

 

Her doppelganger turns around and Katherine arches a sophisticated brow and tilts her head towards the door, before glaring pointedly at Elena. She watches the younger girl gulps and nervously nods at her in a silent thanks. She rolls her eyes again, at the sound of Elena’s noisy footsteps reverberating throughout the house. Her eyelids shut in exasperation until the front door closes with a gentle click.

 

Katherine huffs and releases Damon, before heading to the living room. She grabs an empty tumbler from the tray and pours herself some scotch. Scowling into the drink, Katherine berates herself internally to teach her graceless, loud, and clumsy doppelganger how to walk silently. It was the very least she could do, before handing her over to Klaus.

 

So lost into her thoughts, she fails to hear Damon coming up from behind. There's a slight detection of distrust in his voice. “What game are you playing with the Gilbert girl?”

 

Katherine tilts her glass and watches the dark amber liquid swirl and slosh around. She doesn't say anything, but knowing Damon, she knows he's expecting an answer. She turns and moves behind an armchair, letting her hand trail along the top of the plush texture.

 

“We had a sleepover, Damon.” replies Katherine, collapsing dramatically into the loveseat next to the armchair. “I believe this is what the young modern generation call it these days, when you have someone spend the night over.”

 

“You’ve never been much of a cuddler until she burst down my front door,” Damon states as he begins to counts down from his hand. “You hate wearing her clothes. That was why you spent three thousand dollars going on a shopping spree with MY credit card in New York. Remember that little impromptu trip where you left me in the hotel room without even a note?”

 

He continues talking and ticking off each finger while she takes; - what she hopes was, - a nonchalant sip of her scotch. By the third statement rattling off his clipped tone, she had already tuned out at the mention of “hating this prejudiced town.” He was supposed to be the oblivious brother, the brother who is and still madly in love with her. Did I lock up the wrong brother?

 

Katherine slants her head slightly to the left as she studies his stiff posture, peering over her drink. There it is, the tiny emotion, she was searching for, peeks out from his defensive posture and she watches it reflect, again, on his lips in a strained effort to plaster the smile on. She interrupts him on the fourth accusation with a blinding wide, devious smile. “Are you jealous, Damon, over my human twin?”

 

“What?! No, of course not,” exclaims Damon before he throws out his hands into the air. “Okay. Fine. Maybe just a bit. Why are we still in Mystic Falls? We could go anywhere. There’s nothing here-”

 

“She fascinates me,” Katherine interrupts and upon Damon’s strange expression, she quickly backtracks. “I’m not saying we stay here indefinitely. When I’ve learnt everything there is to know, we’ll leave. Together.”

 

On the road…

 

Just what had possessed her to unashamedly drop her towel and of all things, provoke Katherine into fucking her again? Her brain racked itself for a reasonable thread of thought as she drove back home. This wasn’t her. It’s lust. It has to be… or maybe Katherine had compelled her somewhere during the night, which didn’t make any sense. She couldn’t remember being this impulsive, or understand where this odd behavior is coming from. An unfiltered thought rises from the abyss of her mind as she begins to cruise slowly into the driveway. All of this unnatural behavior could be stemming from a crush, her inner conscious suggests. Her foot jams the brake pedal so abruptly that her upper body jolts against the snug security of the seat belt.

 

Oh no. No. No. No. I’m not crushing on Katherine. There’s nothing going on between us. Whatever happened was just a one-time thing.

 

Three times now and counting.

 

Shut up. We were horny.  It won’t happen again. It’s just lust.

 

Stop denying it.

 

So lost in battling an internal argument with herself, Elena jerks up in her seat at a flash of blond as the passenger car door suddenly slams shut. She blinks confusedly at Jenna snapping her fingers at her and speaking to her at a very rapid pace.

 

“Great! You’re finally back. Shift back to reverse now! I need butter, mascarpone cheese, and some other stuff. I have a list! Elena! Are you listening?”

 

“Uhh... What?”

 

“I need you to drive me to the supermarket now. I was thinking of trying out that recipe I dog-marked in one of Miranda’s old baking books since the house was suddenly all quiet and peaceful. You kids aren’t causing any trouble that I’m aware of. John is busy with secret important council meetings. Ric isn’t answering my calls. He’s probably just busy marking papers. Anyway, I completely underestimated the measuring amounts so the dessert came out looking weird, so I tried to do a fresh batch but it turns out I don’t have enough ingredients.”

 

Her right hand shifts the gear stick from park to reverse before her groggy brain catches up to Jenna’s rapid rambling pace. She shifts nervously in the seat, her hands gripping the steering wheel more tightly than necessary. It’s not Jenna’s fault; she doesn’t know, Elena scolds herself and breathes a sigh of relief when Jenna just continues rambling.

 

“How is it that when I need a car to get to places, they’re never within range? John took his car and left early in the morning, after dropping Jeremy at his friend’s house. You stayed over at Bonnie’s with my car. By the way, I received a call from the mechanic saying that we can pick up your car in a couple of days.”

 

Bonnie’s? But I was at the Salvatores’… unless Katherine.

 

Elena grins wistfully at the thought of the vampire covering for her, her iron grip loosening a little on the steering wheel and the faintest pink returns to her knuckles. The moment she parks the SUV in the closest empty parking lot to the supermarket, Jenna unbuckles her seat belt and fishes out a folded piece of yellow paper from her handbag. She tears it in half and hands it over to Elena.

 

“I’ll be somewhere in the baking aisle. Come find me when you’re done,” Jenna states, before shutting the passenger door and striding briskly into the store. Elena takes one glance and notices the list is rather short. She just needs to grab a couple of items in the fresh produce section before heading towards the dairy section to grab three sticks of butter.

 

The fresh smell of produce lingers in the air as she crosses the threshold. A peaceful silence surrounds Elena as she picks up a black basket and tears off a piece of produce bag from the rolled up pins located nearby. She takes her time picking each assorted fruit before dropping them into the respective produce bags. The basket is half full by the time she makes it to the dairy section. Her head moves with the soft pop music that echoed throughout the supermarket and there’s a slight bounce in her walk. She was in such a good mood until it all came crashing down. Standing just a few feet away from her was him staring pensively at the vast assortment of fresh meat.

 

Her whole body freezes on the spot in the middle of the main walkway as though her feet are trapped and bound by vines coiling around her ankles, rooting her in place. She could feel invisible hands squeezing her throat, robbing her of precious oxygen and thus choking her in broad daylight. Unwanted memories swim back from the deep entrenches to the forefront, clouding her current thoughts. His back was facing towards her but she could recognize his messy bed hair sticking haphazardly in all angles with his usual jacket and laid back attire. The butcher attending to him noticed her standing there awkwardly and begins to beckon her over with a friendly wave.

 

“What can I get for you, Miss?”

 

Maybe it was his body straightening up from its hunched position or the friendly, confused butcher calling out to her repeatedly that finally forces her frozen feet to move. She does a complete 180 turn; her eyes darting around for somewhere to hide as her walk turns into a brisk frantic jog. She needs to get out. Now.

 


 

Jenna’s brow furrows as she glances up from the frozen container of sealed chicken packaging to find her niece moving towards her like there was a hurricane chasing her.

 

“Elena, sweetie. What’s wrong?”

 

The question spills from her lips quicker than her sight taking in the way Elena’s fingers are gripped tightly onto the handle of the grocery basket. Her hazel eyes dart wildly around Jenna and her whole body trembles so violently that Jenna has to use both of her hands to pry the basket handle away from Elena, so she could place it inside her trolley.

 

She pulls the younger girl into a hug in an attempt to calm her down while using her words to reassure Elena. Elena goes still as a statue and it’s not the reaction Jenna was hoping for. She tries again, “Elena?”

 

“H-he… He’s here,” Elena whispers and whimpers quietly. “I- I can’t.”

 

Somehow she manages to coax Elena about his whereabouts and then leaves her trolley and the younger girl parked against a shelf of canned goods. Jenna knows she shouldn’t leave Elena alone but her curiosity was at the peak of its fullest potential. Elena had refused to tell her his name, only that he was in the meat section. She takes quick, long strides towards the area, hoping that the bastard hadn’t left yet. When she did find him, she would confront him right there in the eyes of the public, damn the consequences.

 

Her feet skid to a stop at the nearly empty section save for some people lingering around, not paying her any attention. Her heart raced with each shallow breath as though she just ran a marathon.

 

Where is he? Where is that bastard who dared harm Elena?!

 

Jenna scans each shopper discreetly while trying to appear normal. It was definitely not the elderly couple bickering to each other in the far end of the aisle. It could not be the middle-aged man talking loudly on his phone either. She knows him to be one of the local firefighters who had five daughters and three dogs. It just leaves this guy standing just a few feet away, with his back facing her. A grey hood rests above his crumpled Oxford blue jacket, paired with denim jeans and black boots. She can’t help feeling that she knows him just from the back of his silhouette.

 

“Ric?”

 

He half-turns with his adorably confused smile plastered on, and Jenna breathes a sigh of relief. It can’t be him. The kids were quite taken with him.

 

Damn it! That jackass must have left. Fuck!

 

“Jenna. What a surprise. I thought you went back to Duke.”

 

She shakes her head and replies, “It’s kinda hard when you don’t have a car, and I have to take care of the kids anyways.”

 

“Oh yeah. Right. Listen, Jenna. I was thinking… if maybe you like to have dinner with me tomorrow night… at The Grill, if you’re free?” He finishes uncertainly and then shoves his hands deep into his pockets.

 

Her breath catches, and it’s not because she’s swooning in her head, but because she caught sight of the butcher waving the sealed packaged ham around to get Ric’s attention. It was what was scrawled messily on the package that sets her heart hammering frantically against her ribcage. Her palm itches and burns hot with the knowing realization settling into the pit of her stomach and stirring in her chest.

 

It all makes sense now. It was never a symbol. It wasn’t even something S. Elena couldn’t say it out loud because voicing out his name was probably ten times worse. How could she be so blind to what was standing right in front of her? She had been carving his initials onto her palm - A.S.

 

Her plans to confront the son of a bitch and give him a piece of her mind suddenly fled her mind, whooshing through a secret backdoor. Her brain feels so full of static like an old television set that has lost its signal. She doesn’t hear his words bouncing off and around her. Part of her wants to scream, yell, or slap him right there and then. The other part just wants to jam her fingers into her ears, shut her eyes, and pretend that this is just a nightmare.

 

Spinning abruptly, she leaves Ric behind calling out to her as she walks away. Without stopping to check the prices or any ongoing promotions, she grabs the first three sticks of butter and heads back to the aisle where she had left her trolley and Elena. Without a word, she guides the half-filled trolley to the checkout line. Elena practically glues to her side until they’re both in the SUV all buckled in. All of a sudden, Jenna turns in her seat and blurts out shakily, her eyes are red-rimmed from the knowledge.

 

“It was Alaric all along, wasn’t it? My boyfriend did that to you. God, you must really hate me. I’m so so terribly sorry, Elena. I have such horrible taste in men.”

 

 

Chapter Text

The whole time; Liz had thought that when Damon Salvatore had first offered his services, he understood her commitment in keeping the town safe. She believed in him; she trusted him because he was one of them - one of the Founding Families - who helped build this community from scratch with their bare hands, developed it into the  bustling town that it was, and safeguarded it from vampire attacks.

 

She had placed her faith, hope, and trust into the wrong hands. He was the enemy - the monster - hiding in plain sight. It turned out he had never been interested in ridding the town of their little vampire problem. He was only interested in covering his own tracks.

 

Liz hadn’t wanted to believe the accumulating evidence starting to pile up when John Gilbert returned and opened her eyes. She couldn’t ignore the truth any longer. She was no use to the protection of the town if she did her duty with one eye closed.

 

So she did the unthinkable. She acted first without thinking fully of the consequences. She always thought herself as a do-er. Act first, question later. She never had the patience to sit through four and a half hours in a private room to discuss and plan strategies with the inner council members. She preferred to get the highlights, and this was one of the many reasons why she never ran for Mayor. Liz only told her team and Wilson her plan and they had  hatched it in hushed voices under a dimmed light.

 

The plan was simple. Invite Damon over to her office one bright afternoon and have a drink with him. She had some of her men “stopping by” her office to drop in their reports on any normal day. He wouldn't suspect a thing. The vervain was colorless when mixed with a drink and should have been odorless. The strong stench of brandy should have overpowered it, but he didn’t even touched the glass. He had just stared at her and she had contemplated giving a toast.

 

Something shifted in the atmosphere, causing a slight dip in hostility or suspicion. It happened too quickly and she reacted instantly with Damon grabbing one of her cadets walking towards the desk. He slammed the young cadet down on her desk so loudly that even Liz thought she could hear the sound of his ribs cracking. Her right hand flew to the holster and whipped her glock out in a single motion, safety off, and aimed it squarely at his chest. Several officers lingering near her office rushed in all at once, and surrounded them with loaded guns all pointed at Damon Salvatore.

 

No one moved for the entire hour. How could they, when they have a dangerous vampire gripping one of their own against his will, crushed against the smooth surface of the desk. The air against was so brittle that it could snap at any given time. Surprisingly for a Wednesday afternoon, there was neither traffic nor birds chirping outside.

 

No one speaks. What was there to say?

 

A week ago, they were gathering around the bar at the Grill, knocking back some booze and trading stories before heading home to their wives and children. Today, there was none of that camaraderie. Liz scans her office and all she sees are solemn expressions and fingers twitching at the triggers, awaiting for her signal. Out of her peripheral, she gives a miniscule shake of her head at her partner stepping forward. Stick to the plan, Wilson. Don’t be the hero.

 

Jamming the muzzle of his glock against Damon’s back, he orders evenly. “Let him go. Now.”

 

Damon merely raises his right hand up in the air as though he was surrendering while his left hand grips the cadet’s throat in a vice-like hold.

 

He turns back and smiles at her tightly. “How about you and I make a deal? I really like you, Liz. Be smart. Don’t start a fight you can’t win.”

 

She can see Jordan wincing from the force Damon is exerting on him and not even breaking a sweat. He blinks up at her with terrified eyes and his lips moved wordlessly. They read ‘don’t make the deal. Please don’t do it.’

 

“I don’t think so. We don’t make deals with your kind,” Wilson snarls and jabs him harder in the back. Liz spies a flash of crimson red in Damon’s irises as they narrow into slits. He retaliates quickly, standing and spinning on the spot to disarm her partner of his weapon and throws it into the wall where it lodges deep into the plywood. His head dips and then Liz hears a wet squelching sound of something being torn off, followed by a set of loud frantic, piercing screams. The combination of those set the small office in panicked chaos. A fresh metallic tange tinged the air, alerting Liz to her senses. She opens fire immediately, putting three wooden bullets in Damon’s back whilst the rest of her team shoot at him, taking care not to shoot at one of their own.

 

He goes down grunting and Liz moves round the desk to find the young cadet, Jordan, straddling the still struggling vampire on the ground as he secures the vampire’s hands and feet with black zip ties. “I got him, md’m. He’s not going anywhere.”

 

Liz yells, not bothering to look up as she hurries over to her partner lying face-down in a pool of his own blood. “Tranq him quick! Somebody get me an ambulance now! Don’t you dare die on me, Larry Wilson.”

 

She grimaces at the mangled shoulder and the part of his throat that had been torn out so violently that she nearly retches from the ghastly sight of it. She turns him over and then wishes she hadn’t done so. She wished so many things. For starters, she wished he hadn't try to play the hero. She wished she had never concocted this stupid ass plan. She wished she was at home watching tv with Caroline. She wished Damon Salvatore had never set foot into her town. She wished - oh how she wished she could rewind the clock four hours ago when it was just her and Wilson sitting in her office and talking. How was she going to tell his wife her husband had been killed in an ambush gone so horribly wrong? Wilson had even told her they were going to have a child.

 

Fuck. I should have just cut the deal. What did I do? What have I done?!

 

Her hands were drenched in his blood. Liz scoots backwards until her back bumps against the concrete slab of a wall.

 

A tiny sob works its way out of her throat, not taking her eyes off the corpse.

 

His eyes were open, staring unseeingly up at the ceiling, and his chest lies a large gaping hole of where the heart should have been. The organ lay shriveled and squashed like a discarded paper ball between Wilson and Damon.

 

Her face pales in color and her brain feels like a balloon swelling beyond its capacity, causing it to throb painfully. Someone pushes a clean rag into her bloodied hands and her eyes glance down at the coagulating red flowing thickly over her fingers with detached apathy.

 

“M’dm? What should we do with the vampire?”

 

“Forbes, can you hear me?”

 

Forbes, snap out of it.

 

She’d recognized that gruff voice anywhere. It can’t be, she tells herself, he’s gone. Nonetheless, she glances up from her slouched position and blinks disbelievingly. There was something shimmering on top of the corpse, as if the air in front of her was being warped and twisted. Then, in a flash of pale, silvery light, it takes the form of her dead partner sitting up from his physical body. Dressed in his uniform attire, he holds her gaze for a brief moment and then turns to the right.

 

Finish the job.

 

Liz mirrors the apparition (because it has to be; there’s no such thing as ghosts), turning her head to the left where she observes four of her squad members attempting to pin down Damon who is snarling with his bloodied fangs and mouth dripping with Wilson’s blood.

 

Do what needs to be done, Liz. Don’t let my death be for nothing.

 

The air around her shifts and her head turns to find the corporeal image of him standing up from his body and exits through her office door. She blinks once and then again, mentally taking stock of the situation, before snapping out of it. She wipes her bloody hands with the clean rag somebody kindly supplied her with. She points to the nearest officer lingering near her and orders, “Who’s got the vervain? I want him tranqed now. Give him the full dosage.”

 

Her right hand slips into her pants pocket and pulls out her smartphone. There are several messages from Caroline and a couple of missed calls from Carol Lockwood. She ignores all of them and dials a familiar number, before putting it to her ear.

 

“You’re right, John. I don’t want to know how you knew about the Salvatores being vampires. No, we can’t wait another week. Yes, I know. It’s already done. I have him in custody. We’ll take care of the younger Salvatore.”

 

She hangs up and then dials another number. She only has to wait a minute this time, before the call goes through. “Hello Mayor. I think I might need to borrow your underground cell. I’ll explain everything on the way.”

 

Her idle hand flies up to grip the shoulder of one the officers and jerks her hand at the drugged up to the gills and finally unconscious psychopath. “I want him gagged. No more accidents.”

 


 

The Gilberts’ residence

 

“I’ll make the arrangements. Yes, I've finally found it. The device should be good to go. We’ll activate it two nights from tonight. There shouldn’t be any hiccups. We’ll talk again. And Liz… be careful.”

 

He holds up the cog up with his index finger and thumb, to the study desk lamp as he examines the intricate ridges before carefully placing it back into the container. A small squarish note card was tied to the tattered pouch with elegant handwriting that read: “Have at it.”

 

His thumbs fly across his smartphone screen as a text message was composed and sent to a blocked number.

 

“Friday night. Stay out of town.”

 

 

Chapter Text

“Fuck you!”

 

She strikes her palm openly across his cheek, sending his head turned slightly to the side. All the commotion bustling around the bar and diner halt abruptly to a standstill as the single sound ricocheted the four enclosed walls.

 

He had been expecting a loose grin instead of a sore cheek.

 

He stands there like an idiot, staring at her retreating back, as the diners resume their own businesses in an attempt to escape the awkwardness. The back door swinging shut with a loud bang, jerks Alaric back to his senses.

 

He chases after her, shoving the back door open with all his might, while his eyes frantically scan the crowded parking space until he spots the blonde. He dodges a couple of vehicles exiting the parking lot as well as a mildly curious couple exchanging confused glances.

 

Finally, he manages to catch hold of her wrist from behind.

 

Panting and trying to catch his breath, he wheezes, “Jenna. Wait…”

 

“Let me go.” Her voice sounds so cold and curt that he acquiesces immediately without thinking. She begins walking away from him and towards her parked SUV that was about twenty feet away.

 

Alaric puffs out a smoke of cold air and blurts out impulsively, “It's not that I don't want to tell you. It's because I don't know what else I can say, that you assume you already know.”

 

Jenna stops walking, her stiff back posture still facing him. He considers it to be a tiny, almost invisible victory. At this point, he'd take what he could get.

 

“I didn't move to Mystic Falls to start afresh or have a change in scenery. I moved here because I wanted to avenge her death. Isobel, she was my everything and then he took her away from me; Or that's what I thought until he told me himself.”

 

Jenna had half-turned her body towards him. He was unsurprised by the wary skepticism and confusion in her voice.

 

“You told me Isobel was killed. What does any of this have to do with Elena?”

 

“It's complicated, Jenna. I don't even know how to explain it.”

 

“Uncomplicate it.”

 

“I can't, Jenna. It's not that simple,” Alaric huffs at feeling a sense of helplessness arising from the pit of his stomach as he watches Jenna zip open her handbag to rummage around for her car keys.

 

“Someone is searching for her, Jenna. Someone ancient, powerful, and extremely dangerous. Please, Jenna. I will tell you everything you want to know, please, but not here.”

 

“Why not?” she retorts back scathingly.

 

“It's not safe,” Alaric pleads.

 

His hands almost reach up to yank at his hair in exasperation at her stubbornness, but he forces them to stay by his sides. “I'm not going anywhere with you. You either tell me right now or I'm leaving.”

 

Jenna faces him, looking absolutely furious.

 

“Damon Salvatore is a vampire. Same goes for his younger brother. I know you think I'm crazy, but it's true. This town has been plagued repeatedly by mysterious  animal attacks. However, the only ‘dangerous’ animal I've encountered whilst I've been here is the occasional pack of wolves in the forest. They don't attack people unless provoked. You have to believe me. These supernatural creatures - vampires - they exist.”

 

Her lips quiver as they move.  “They're just stories to keep children from wandering in the night.”

 

It doesn’t sound like she was talking to him anymore. Her eyes snap back to him whilst her facial features have softened a little, he was still terrified of what she could do.

 

“What proof do you have?”

 

Alaric replies hurriedly, “Isobel did her graduate thesis on the existence of these creatures. She was a vampire fanatic. I still have all her research. You can look over them but it's at my place.”

 

Her blue speckled irises bore into his before her head jerks slightly. “Fine. Lead the way.”

 


 

Her feet stays firmly on the front door Welcome rug while Jenna watches him sweep his trash off the coffee table and couch.

 

He invites her to sit and she refuses, shaking her head. “I'm not staying.”

 

He disappears into one of the darkened rooms and Jenna hears crinkling of something being opened and papers rustling. Alaric returns a short while later, with a pile of papers in his hand. He hands the thick manila folder over to her and she casually flips through, skimming over pages of the multiple black lines of words.

 

“I still don't understand how all of this links to you hurting Elena. She disappeared for two whole days and then she came home covered in bruises and whip marks,” she comments casually whilst gesturing wildly with her idle hand.

 

He exhales heavily, rubbing his tired face before replying, “One of the vampire’s abilities includes compulsion which is something like mind control, telepathy, or just basic hypnosis. They make eye contact with their victims in order to control human beings, or basically anyone who is of a lesser being to their superior status. I was under the control of one of them. I swear, Jenna, I really had no intention of hurting her.”

 

At his confession, Jenna takes a step back, clutching her belongings to her chest. She breathes raggedly, still trying to process the overloaded stream of information to her brain.

 

“But you did it anyway… Oh my god. All this time, you were abusing her. She always came home late at night. I thought she was at her friend’s place all that time. Shit.”

 

“I'm sorry-”

 

A half-strangled laugh breaks out from her throat as she chokes on the harsh realization.

 

“You were never into me, were you? It was always about Isobel. Was any of it real?”

 

“Jenna…” He trails off, his eyes shining with heavy guilt and sadness.

 

Once, she could see the way his eyes sparkled with brightness and a tiny glint of playfulness whenever they met over steaming mugs of coffee and a bunch of papers stacked messily at each other's respective sides. Now, there was none of it behind that serious expression.

 

“No. I don't want to hear any more of it. You stay the fuck away from Elena and Jeremy after school,” Jenna states as calmly as she can possibly muster, before turning away. Her mind screams at her to get the hell out and away from him.

 

Yet, his next sentence sends her reeling back; back to him and her past mistakes; Mistakes and misinformed decisions that she couldn't rewind or escape from.

 

“I can't do it. I didn't know she was mine. Isobel never said anything. I had no idea until you told me about Elena.”

 

“Stop right there!” Jenna hissed. She whirls around and jabs her fingers roughly at his chest. “I'm going to say this once and you better be listening. Elena’s not your daughter. You're not her father.”

 

He makes a sound to protest but a hard glare from her quiets him as she finishes, dropping her tone so low that it drips with danger.

 

“She was never yours to begin with.”

 

Jenna doesn’t give him a final glance as she wrenches open the door, runs down the flights of stairs and out of the apartment suites. She starts up the car engine and rests her forehead against the top of the steering wheel.

 

Is it my fault for being such an easy target?

 

After John, Jenna always told herself she deserved someone better. And then Ric barrelled right into her messed-up life - trying to graduate while singlehandedly raising two teenagers when she was not much older than them. She’d been far too busy juggling her school-guardianship duties to connect the dots together. Of course, John had to return with new emotional baggage, dumping it onto her front porch and expecting her to be okay with it.

 

She can't.

 

Her closet was bursting with so many old memories and skeletons that she sometimes wished she could bury the truth. She can't, not with his living offspring staring back with his eyes, reminding her of what could have been, if he wasn't so hopelessly infatuated with that girl.

 

It was a fucking crazy full circle that had run its course.

 

Everything spiralled back to her - the source of all the angst, trouble, and pure madness. Isobel fucking Fleming. It started with her, and it ended with her all the same.

 


 

The door slams shut on Alaric for the second time in a row tonight. He stands in the middle of his own apartment, feeling lost and defeated. The walls of his apartment begin to shift closer towards him, surrounding and suffocating, limiting his supply of oxygen. The front door and his only exit vanishes and is replaced by a solid plaster wall. The same goes for the wide vertical windows by his open living space. He coughs breathlessly, feeling exposed and raw, unable to breathe.

 

His legs wobble under the heavy burden of guilt and he crashes onto the hard, unforgiving ground, barely managing to extend his arms out to stop his fall. His mind becomes a blank canvass as he crawls to the kitchen with only his arms. He can't feel his legs.

 

Alaric grunts and coughs harshly, spitting out a bout of saliva onto the floor. His forearms tremble from the heavy exertion as he raises himself off the ground, clutching desperately onto the corner edge of the kitchen counter. His fingers miss but he manages to grab onto something thin. Curling his quivering fingers around the cool brass, he yanks it with all his might. His vision blurs constantly and as often as he blinks, he just can't make out the shape of the object.

 

He hears a loud clang as a large chunky blurry outline crashing to the ground beside him, his head turns towards the sound. To the best of his ability, Alaric thinks he sees something grey and black, with a blurred outline of white. He squints and blindly thrusts his hand out, hissing in pain at the sharp tip. It was a drawer full of kitchen knives. It's not what he wanted, but it would do the trick.

 

He couldn't continue this wretched path. All he did was drive people away. He had hurt Elena, the love child of Isobel and her unknown lover, it seems. He spooked Jenna in return, even Jeremy was wary of him.

 

What if Isobel didn't want to be found?

 

What if he was the cause of her running away and heading towards the supernatural?

 

What would happened when he does finally find her? What if…

 

Lying on his back, Alaric finds the courage to take the knife out of the drawer. He raises the knife with both hands and turns the pointed end of the blade towards his stomach. He inhales and then exhales, repeating until his mind is no longer a jumble of thoughts. His eyelids flutter shut and as he exhales for the last time, his hands swing the blade downwards in one smooth motion.

 

He expected to feel a sharp piercing pain in his gut or watch his blood gush out of the self-created wound as he lay dying alone. What he didn’t expect was to discover an invisible shield between the metallic blade and himself. It was as though there was a forcefield surrounding him.

 

He tries again to complete the task but his hands fail to follow through. Something else was in the way, stopping him in his tracks. An old memory flashes to the forefront and he recalls that very night:

 

“I should kill you for what you did.”

 

He hears her walking back towards him, her boots clicking steadily. Her tone was quiet and deadly as poison.

 

Sharp nails punctured the sides of his neck and Alaric feels himself being lifted up slowly, his hands clawing for purchase. His eyes lock bravely onto hers - hazel with specks of darkness, gradually shifting into pitch black irises, dark as death surrounding itself in a sea of crimson. Dark veins emerged from underneath her beautiful skin and a pair of fangs peek out as the vampire growl, the corner of her lips curled and twisted wickedly.

 

A shiver ran down his spine as her head tilted slightly as if assessing him.

 

“Any last words?”

 

This was it. He was staring down at death’s door. He was going to die here. Alone.

 

“Spare Jenna. Please. She’s innocent,” he pleaded instead.

 

“Is that all?” She chuckled lightly.

 

“The ring. If you’re going to kill me, at least let me remove it,” he states.

 

A strange glint enters her eyes and her smile stretches so widely that he once pondered if she was the devil herself with that diabolical smirk.

 

“You think I’m going to kill you? Give you a peace of mind while the girl you tortured is on the receiving end of terror-filled nightmares?! Death would be too easy,” Katherine chuckles and then snarls, “Guilt will eat at you and gnaw away until you come back, crawling on your knees, begging me to end your pathetic life.”

 

She yanks him up rudely by his hair and hisses, “You're not permitted to end your life, nor attempt to ask other individuals for help, not on my watch. Every time your traitorous eyes cross paths with my doppelganger, you will be reminded of every single disgusting memory you've been trying to forget.”

 

He hears her chuckle darkly one last time as the darkness overtakes his vision.

 

“Oh, I almost forgot. You won't remember we had this conversation until you've actually attempted the deed.”

 

 

Chapter Text

Unknown time, unknown location

“Caw!”

Master's in trouble. Master's in trouble! Master needs help, but where shall it find and who shall it ask? Brother of the master is nowhere to be found. Does Master have any friends? It does not know if Ugly-faced is considered one of them.

Under dimly lit street lamps, it spies the cumbersome boxed tin on wheels parked on the side of the road but Ugly-faced isn't inside. It has been shooed rudely away once. Should it try again?

It lands on one of the high rise thick wires and observes. It has perfect view of the one of the lighted rooms where Ugly-faced is speaking to Hairy-faced. It decides to name this other human as such, for it can't distinguish the mop of dark brown hair from its strange attire. Hairy-faced is sitting on the bed, and they seem to be having an argument.

It is not interested in their little petty conversation. It has nothing to do with Master. It sniffs and hops off the steel cabled wire. It spreads its wings and glides away. Maybe Nice Featherless would be more helpful instead. It just needs to point Master's friend in the right direction.

It spots Nice Featherless sitting at the desk, facing the window. Perfect, it thinks. As it lands on the window sill, it tucks its wings neatly. It hops nearer and with its beady alert eyes, it looks as though Nice Featherless is having a hard time. Her face scrunches, causing her nose to twitch. It can help Nice Featherless take a break from whatever that is.

 


 

Bonnie groans and shifts her head to her other hand. She just needs to memorize this chapter before she can call it quits for tonight. A series of soft, short tapping at her bedroom window breaks her concentration, and she glances up from her history textbook to discover a black crow sitting on the narrow edge, staring at her.

“Go away, Damon,” grumbles Bonnie as her head ducks back down to the boring wall of text. “I'm busy.”

Colomb’s law states that the magnitude of the electrostatic force between two point charges…

Tap.

... is directly proportional…

Tap. Tap.

...to the product of the magnitudes of the charges and inver-

Bonnie huffs irritatedly and props her textbook up to block the infuriating crow cocking its head to the side. She slumps down in the chair and slouches.

She's going to finish reading to the end of the chapter.

Scratch that.

The end of the page is more feasible.

The tapping has now transformed into an endless drill that a migraine had started to sprout at the forefront, mimicking the same ceaseless rhythm.

She skips a line or two and attempts again.

 


 

Unknown location, unknown time

It stops tapping at the window and stares.

Does Nice Featherless not realize it has perfect eyesight, that it can still see her hiding behind the object?

Can't Nice Featherless hear it's tapping?

Why won't the human girl respond?

It does not hear any other sounds from the girl’s room, besides her breathing.

Maybe it needs to be louder, then it will be heard.

Tappity-tap. Tap. Tap. Tappity-tap. Tap. Tap. Tap.

The window flies up so quickly that the force sends it hopping backwards in such surprise that it nearly impales itself on the pointy tree branch. Nice Featherless looks - well - Her face changes into something similar to Ugly-Faced.

Oh for Odin’s sake! Nice Featherless has changed into Scary-Faced. It does not enjoy where this is going.

To Safety!

High high up the trees where Scary-Faced can’t shoot nasty fireballs at it! It does not believe it deserves such treatment.

Oh my beautiful feathers!

Not my lovely magnificent feathers!

It is only here on behalf of Master. Master needs it to deliver a message. It has followed Master’s instructions perfectly. It has done nothing wrong. It cannot disobey Master, but it does not want to get cooked.

Reinforcements! It needs help!

“Caw! Caw! Caw”

 


 

 

The loud shrill cacophony of squawking was what drove Bonnie to stick her head out of the window. A dark sheet of black-feathered crows gather from all directions and makes a beeline for her house, swarming in from all four corners.

Screaming in fright, she slams the window shut, runs out of her bedroom, and heads towards the living room where she timidly peeks out from behind the heavy curtains.

“This isn’t funny, Damon!” Bonnie swears and curses.

As if they understood her, the sounds stopped except for a single sound coming from outside her front door.  

Her heartbeat roaring loudly in her ears, she yanks open the door while tightening her grip on a baseball bat that had been lying against the wall.

The pesky crow calls out and pecks harshly against the roof of her car.

“Hey! Don’t do that! What do you want?” Bonnie shouts while waving her hands wildly, before muttering under her breath. “It’s not like I’m a crow whisperer.”

Something else came from behind and swoops above her head, causing Bonnie to duck and shriek, swinging the baseball bat crazily. A metallic glint with a touch of red catches her eye and her vision zeros in onto the object lying on her mat. It was her car keys with a tiny red and white pom poms keychain attached to the thin cylinder ring.

Tap. Tap.

She looks up and catches the crow, still on top of her car roof, watching her expectantly.

Picking up her keys, she huffs, “Where do you want me to go?”

A symphony of loud fluttering wings and black lines cuts through the sky and flies ahead of her. She cautiously walks down her driveway to the middle of the street and squints into the night, staring at every crow perched on trees, high beam cable wires, lamp posts, street signs, and even on top of her neighbors’ cars.

It feels as though they were showing her the way.

The way to where?

Bonnie didn’t know; she couldn’t even hazard a guess as to why Damon couldn’t just give her a call,  but just made the top of the list as the strangest night of her life.

She walks back to her Nissan and gets in. After firing up the engine and turning up the heater, she follows the crows slowly before switching to a more gradual speed after getting used to seeing crows at every turn. The destination turns out to be at the edge of the woods.

A crow sits perched on the lowest tree branch, watching her silently. There aren’t any more crows hanging around, just this little fellow.

“You gotta be kidding me,” mutters Bonnie as it crows once and flies off into the thick of the woods.

If she enters this section, she’d be literally trespassing into Lockwood property. She stares in the direction where the bird takes off and heaves a loud sigh.

She steps out of the vehicle, shutting the car door as quietly as she can. If she was going to trespass, it would be stealthy; like a ninja.

“If that damn crow knew where it was taking me, couldn’t it have been nice enough to drop me a flashlight too?” Bonnie curses aloud as her hands brush past the trees while she struggles not to stumble on any overlying roots along the way.

She’s pretty sure she was superbly lost, in the thick of the woods in the middle of the night with no map or compass.

She had walked too far out from the satellite tower to GPS her way out, which meant her cell phone was practically useless now. And it was freezing cold.

“Where is that fucking crow? Damon! This isn’t funny any more,” yells Bonnie.

Her answer came swiftly and rather noisily, at best. A loud squawk in the distance alerts her attention, quickly following that came the voices of men with a distinctly familiar authoritative voice mixed in with the fuzz.

Zipping up her sweater, Bonnie shoves her freezing cold, clenched fists into the deep trenches of her barren warm pockets and heads towards the tiny yellowish beam of light. She hides behind the closest thickest tree in width that she could find and observes silently.

In the distance, she spots the head of each of the Founding families; with the exception of the Fells, Sheriff Forbes, Mayor Lockwood, and John Gilbert were loitering around the middle of the woods, smoking and conversing in low tones.

Why would the crow lead me here?

The sudden sound of gravel and leaves crunching continuously, causes her to frown with burning curiosity.

An unidentified black van rolls to a complete stop near the trio, and immediately the door slides back, revealing four men wearing light blue shirts and black pants who step out of the van.

Cops!

Bonnie recognizes the familiar blue and the realization sets in the pit of her gut. They worked for Sheriff Forbes, which means Caroline’s mother has finally discovered the Salvatores’ darkest secret.

Initially, she couldn’t see what was going on since the men had blocked her view. However, she got the sense that they seemed to be carrying some sort of cargo. The cargo turned out to be one Damon Salvatore, unconscious, bound, and unceremoniously gagged.

She lets out a horrified gasp as she watches the men take a hold of each of his limbs and carry him past the watchful trio, descending into the ground indicating a sort of underground bunker.  

She couldn't be sure.

She couldn’t see that far away so she inches closer and closer, just stopping out of reach. She peeks behind another tree and watches the same quartet of men re-appear without her friend. Her eyes dart quickly to the van and takes note of the fact that it is now empty.

Where's Stefan? Did they manage d to catch the younger brother too?

Even with her witchy mojo; as Caroline likes to put it, she doesn’t think she would stand a winning chance against six men and the Sheriff. To get Damon out of wherever they’d stored him, she’d probably need a lot more mojo and extra help. But her phone service is out of range so she can’t call her friends. She stands there for a minute, her back leaning against the tree, trying to figure out a rescue plan.

She could wait them out, and then break into the bunker to get him out. But she has school tomorrow and an exam paper awaiting her at first period. She didn’t have a whole lot of time on her hands to stand here and wait.

What if she could start a bush fire or something that could (possibly) draw the men away and investigate? But she highly doubted the Mayor or the Sheriff would follow suit.

There was another option and it was possibly the smartest and safest strategy that tumbled out of her brain. She could mark this tree and leave the woods the same way she came in; it couldn’t be that hard to figure her way out. She had, after all, walked straight. Call Elena and Caroline for help, and then rescue him after school.

No biggie.

They had gagged him and his hands and legs tied together. That alone shows they weren’t going to kill him.

Yet.

There was still a small chance to hope that this could work.

It has to.

Forgetting she isn’t alone, and that she was pretending to be a ninja, she steps on a thin twig which snaps loudly as it breaks cleanly in two. She freezes on the spot, her expression cringing, her heart pounding, and her breath shaking in fear.

Shit!

“Who’s there?” Someone yells and a light beam turns in her direction.

She doesn’t think, doesn’t even try. Heavy sets of footsteps are approaching her quickly and Bonnie doesn’t have an answer if she was caught. She flings her hood up, covering her head and sprints out of there. She can hear loads of yelling for her to stop but she doesn’t. She feels it before her hearing kicks in. Something small whizzes past her ear and lodges itself into the tree in front of her.

Her breath comes out in short, quick spurts as she struggles to inhale. At her sides, dark-skinned fingers curl into sweaty fists, swinging forward as if it could make her swifter. Her lungs and heart were pumping, yet the air didn’t seem to be enough as she sprinted forward, jumping over the overgrown roots and ducking under low tree branches, panic trembling in her terrified limbs.

Was that a bullet? They were shooting at me? Oh this isn’t good. Not good at all.

Behind her, she could hear shouts of “hold your fire” and their thundering footsteps. She runs and doesn’t look back.

 


 

 

The Gilbert residence

“I need you to cover for me,” says Katherine as she folds her arms and glares at the kid lying on the bed, flipping through his comics.

“Depends on where you’re taking her,” came his muttered reply.

She growls and clicks her tongue against the roof of her mouth. “To a bar in Georgia,” she answers finally.

His head shifts and his lips twist into a frown. “Are bars and clubs the only places you can take her to? She’s not that kind of person anymore you know. Besides, I have a much better idea… and it’s better to take me along if you want a more successful chance of a cover story.”

Chapter Text

Her eyes rove up to the clock and then back to the teacher droning on, his eyes glued to the textbook. Her hand slowly slides her vibrating smart phone out of her jeans pocket and her head ducks down.  A tiny quirk of her lips twitch as she reads the text, ‘Wait for me by the gates after school? :)’

Her fingers dance across the screen as she types out her reply while trying not to glance at the clock again, as if to will time forward.

A hand shifts to prop her head up as she half-heartedly copies down the wall of text on the blackboard.

Why would she ask to meet with me after school? It’s too risky. What if someone noticed her? How am I going to explain that? I don’t think the compulsion would have allowed me to, in the first place. Wouldn’t it be better for me to meet her somewhere less crowded instead? It's going to be packed in the next twenty-four minutes, given that today is a Friday and the day of the Founder Day’s celebration. Uncle John mentioned fireworks… Plus, there’s a place I know we could go to watch it privately.

This anticipation was driving her nuts. Her eyes dart up to the clock on the wall smirking down at her as she groans impatiently into her notebook, tapping her pen against the side of her head. Eighteen minutes till the bell rings. Unable to sit still from this nervous kind of energy coursing through her like electrical sparks tingling in her toes traveling from the ground up.

Before she knew it, she had already tidied up her desk and stacked her books up neatly despite the fact that there was literally ten more minutes. Her back straightens ramrod straight as she observes the teacher pace in front of her.

The moment her ears register the beginning of the school bell shrilling through the speakers, her hand slides the books off the desk, into her waiting arms as she careens toward the classroom exit in a jiffy. She makes a mad dash to her lockers on the third floor to grab her winter coat and mittens.

The school hallway was already packed to the brim with people, and the chaos was maddening and impossibly difficult to navigate, with the throng of people behind her, pushy and noisy.

The usual couple was making out on the right side of the hall, and about ten feet farther down was the parade of the band geeks with their huge instrument cases, taking up a wide berth of space.

Elena wishes she could have one of those but she certainly didn’t want to lug one of those down the stairs. She also wishes she could walk through walls so she wouldn’t need to be shoved into another person ahead of her. She passes by the small trio of aerospace tech kids who never did anything but make paper airplanes during class. A breath of air brushes the top of her head; she glances up and rolls her eyes at a football flying over her head.

It takes her another full ten minutes to escape the gleeful laughter joined with excited conversations and shouts as she barrels through the swinging open school doors.

The chill afternoon breeze greets her, blasting her face with a strong puff. She pulls her coat tighter and makes her way towards the gates.

Passing by the slew of yellow buses parked by the curb, she spots a lone red Porsche parked farther than the rest of the vehicles. That must be her, Elena thinks and hurries towards the passenger side.

“Hi.”

“Hey cupcake,” Katherine greets her warmly and dials the knob up for the car heater. “How was school?”

“Good. Is something wrong?” asks Elena cautiously when the older vampire just glances at the side mirror and steers the wheel, letting the vehicle roll away from the curb. Katherine shakes her head and leans forward in her seat, her hand reaching out towards Elena’s chin.

“I thought we'd go hang out for a while,” the older vampire’s lips quirk playfully.  

She feels pulled into Katherine's hypnotic gaze, her hands moving towards her on autopilot as though she was the sun and her the sunflower. Skin meets skin, fingers intertwine and weave together, their lips almost touching, hovering in the electrifying space, warm breath ghosting with yearning desire. A door slams shut, shattering the moment.

“You just had to, right?”

Panic crawls into her sleeves as she bodily yanks herself back into her seat, eyes blinking wide whereas Katherine merely rolls her eyes and glares at the intruder.

“You were strolling.”

“I was brisk-walking!”

She shifts around whilst still being strapped by the seat belt, and discovers that the indignant voice belongs to none other than Jeremy. She stares at him, temporarily incapacitated by the presence of her own brother. Her lips spilling no sound as her mouth opens and shuts like a goldfish. She could hear him and Katherine bickering over something, but her brain feels stuck to this point of time. It was only when Jeremy takes a deep breath and greets her that her brain catches up to the present.

“Hey Sis. We’re going to Whitmore.”

Her brow raises in confusion.

“What. Why Whitmore?”

She doesn’t give him a chance to answer, because she shifts back to face Katherine, tilting her head in Jeremy’s direction.

“You compelled my brother too?”

“Hmm… Oh that. I needed someone to keep an eye out on you while I was away,” replies Katherine casually, still driving.

Some time later, Elena turns on the radio for some much needed background music, and then realizes later on, that there was no need for it, what with Jer and Katherine sniping back and forth sarcastically.

 


  

Mystic Falls High School

Bonnie taps her thumb frustratedly at Elena’s contact number for the sixth time. This makes it the seventh, and yet the call just goes to voicemail. Her most reliable best friend who was always there, supportive and reassuring, is currently uncontactable.

This was not happening.

Not today.

She decides to leave a message instead in hopes Elena will call back.

She scrolls down the contact list and hovers over her other best friend uncertainly. She has to try, right? She won’t know if she didn’t at least convince her to save him.

She finds Tyler practicing his aim by himself and walks up to him. Every ball he throws curves into a perfect arch and lands neatly into the net. Frustrated that none of her best friends were picking up their cells, she unwittingly flicks her fingers at the flying basketball, throwing it off in mid-air and sending it knocking against the supporting board and bouncing against the metallic rim of the hoop with a loud thud, before falling away from the net.

She watches Tyler throw his hands up before jogging off to retrieve the ball. He picks the ball up, and Bonnie instantly feels bad; just a tiny little bit. She suppresses the smile when Tyler notices her standing there by the court.

He jerks his head towards her, “Yo Bennett. What’s up?”

She shrugs and tries to play it cool. He doesn’t know about her magic and she wants it to keep her secret between people who don’t really need to know and people who happened to know. Pretending to fiddle with her phone, she questions, “Have you seen Elena or Caroline?”

He bounces the ball against the ground a couple of times and then spins it with a single finger. “Yeah. I had econs with Elena. Last period. She rushed out of the room before any of us could get up. Must have been something important. It was the first time seeing her like that.”

He shrugs and continues, his lips giving way to a grimace. “Caroline roped Matt to help set up the stuff for tonight. Why do you think I’m playing by myself? Whatever happened to the ‘bros first’ code?”

Bonnie rolls her eyes and retorts, feeling the need to defend her friend. “You could help out too, you know.”

“And see my dad there? No thanks. I have to be there tonight, anyways. If I go, I’ll probably be ordered like one of his lackeys, and then by Caroline. Do you know how annoying she is when she’s in that mode?” He pulls a face and shudders. “Scary. I tell you.”

Bonnie muses on the complexity of her life and feels jealous at the simplicity of Tyler’s; only consisting of school and football practice.

Do you know there are vampires living amongst us? Are you aware that your father has my boyfriend thrown into and thrust up like a turkey in some secret underground hole in the middle of your expansive properties? Do you care about anything else other than your game matches, your precious bro time, and the girls you parade around with like your shiny trophies? Do you care, Tyler? The one supernatural friend that I have… his life is in the dangerous hands of anti-vampires. And I'm the only one who can do something.

She rings Caroline up while opening her car door with her other hand, and amazingly the call goes through with a tiny click; her bright cheerful voice filtering out as the car door closes.

Not bothering with pleasantries, Bonnie cuts to the chase and blurts, “They have Damon, Care. I don't know what to do. We have to help him.”

“Who has who? What are you doing?”

Bonnie opens her mouth to answer but her friend’s voice just rolls on. “No, not you. I asked for white table cloths. This is off-white. Oh my god, is that… is that a stain? Bonnie, what are you talking about?”

“Your mother knows Damon’s a vampire. So does the Mayor and Mr. Gilbert. They have him locked up somewhere underground, I don't know, in the woods,” she explains.

There is nothing else said but white noise. Meaningless snatches of words thrown and jumbled with all the outside noise the tiny speaker picks up as she waits anxiously for Caroline’s reply.

“How… how can you be sure?” came the reply. Bonnie assumes she moved away from the commotion because it sounds less noisy.

“I saw them. It's a long story really. He sent me a message,” says Bonnie.

“So he texted you that he was in the woods? Did he give you a map, Bonnie? Because the woods usually means either the edge of town or…”

“The Lockwoods have him.” She could totally see the raised brows and skeptical look Caroline wears when she says that she can predict the future.

“Uh-huh.”

“Look. You don't have to believe me. I just need your help,” pleads Bonnie.

There is a pause, a full minute long that stretches between them.

“No.”

“What? Why?” exclaims Bonnie.

“He used me. Do you have any idea what he put me through? I had no control whatsoever,” came Caroline’s bitter reply. “He deserves what he gets, Bon. My mum, Tyler’s dad, Elena’s uncle… they’re the good guys. We're not supposed to help the bad guy.”

It was so not the response she was hoping for.

She retorts, her tone dripping condescendingly. "Does that make Stefan a bad guy too? You did tried to hit on him.”

There was a quiet sigh on the other end, before her friend says, “No…. But you said only Damon got caught. You didn’t see his brother, did you? Maybe… he got away. Who knows. Why do you care? You hated him, remember?”

“Yeah. But… He didn't sound so bad after…” Her half-assed explanation gets interrupted by Caroline’s side of background noise of chatter and just noise. She must have returned back to the commotion.

“Hey Bonnie. It’s been great chatting with you but I have- No. No. This isn’t meant to be here. Where’d you get this hideous… thing? Hello. Did you even hear me? I expressly said-”

“Thanks for nothing,” mutters Bonnie, clicking the disconnect button viciously.

 


 

Whitmore Shopping Complex

Light airy laughter erupts from the girls’ glossed lips as they watch Jeremy bolt out of the vehicle with sheer amusement glinting in their eyes. The journey took approximately two and a half hours and though Elena would love to stretch her gangly limbs, she couldn’t bear the thought of not having this precious moment to themselves. She can't help but stare at Katherine; her body reverberating contently, or lavish in her melodious chuckle. Her eyes travel up past her cleavage before her cheeks redden to the wine-stained lips.

She shouldn't be staring. This feels wrong on so many levels. She was not supposed to have these kinds of feelings for her. For Katherine. Her identical twin but not really one.

The thought of wanting to touch her supple skin; desiring to kiss those succulent lips; searing the taste of Katherine's flavour into the deepest recesses of her mind,  was just terrifying.

Yet the temptation is too great for Elena to resist; she reacts without thinking it through, unbuckling her seatbelt. Her lithe body rises from the seat and she slinks towards the older vampire, her irises darkening slightly.

She takes Katherine by surprise. Pink glossed lips graze against wine-stained lips, before smashing together like magnetism. Tongues dart out and clash, battling for dominance. Fingers move on their own accord, mimicking each other without the need to see.

A slender arm glides under Elena’s thighs and scoops her up completely, depositing her onto the older vampire’s lap. Her bended knees open wide to accommodate Katherine and the little space they have. She straddles the vampire with ease and tangles her fingers into the brunette’s curls. She plants soft kisses near the jaw line whilst leaving a trail of smothering butterfly kisses down Katherine’s neck, past the collar bone, towards her intended target.

 


  

Katherine moans softly upon feeling Elena’s hand slip under her shirt and traveling upwards. The fingers skim across her lower back, travelling up to trace the ridges of her spine until they reach her lacey bra to unclasp it in a single motion. Her breathing becomes ragged at each inhalation as those damning fingers move to cup her breast and squeeze experimentally.

Just the right touch combined with Elena’s trail of hot wet kisses, is enough for Katherine to jerk against the seat, jostling the younger girl above her. Her back arches as Elena pulls the front of her shirt down to expose her freed breasts, the cool air hardening her nipples.

“Fuck,” gasps Katherine when Elena bends her head down further and smacks her lips onto one exposed nipple, latching and sucking with intense fervour. A throaty whine escapes her as blunt teeth scrape against the already hardened flesh.

“Elena…”

Her doppelganger hums in response, sending electrifying jolts into her swollen, probably over-stimulated nipple. She feels warm, wet lips unlatching and holds the younger girl's head in place.

“No. You're not done.” Katherine groans, needy and wanting at Elena’s quiet chuckle.

“I was going to give your other nipple some attention-” Elena teases despite having her head nearly squashed against Katherine's desperate vice-like hold. She feels her other neglected nipple being pulled and tweaked.

Her mind doesn’t wander very far from her doppelganger who was behaving rather un Elena-like.

She tugs impatiently at the bottom of Elena’s top and growls, “Take it off.”

Elena complies, pulling the shirt off and flinging it behind. She doesn’t waste much time and grabs the younger doppelganger by the waist, pulling her closer. Heat pools in her loins but she can’t widen her thighs, not with Elena straddling her.

Instead, her fingers travel downwards to Elena’s pants and dips past the cotton panties to cup the smoothly shaven cunt.

She grins into the kiss as Elena gasps aloud, her eyes blinking wide open. A smirk forms upon feeling Elena jolt up from her lap as her thumb begins to fiddle with her clit, running a long manicured fingernail up and down the younger girl's folds.

Several things happened at once, neither preparing both girls for the rippling effect.

Who knew it would take one loud crash and the sound of their car horn blaring to send both of them tumbling back to reality?

Her fingers that were once entrenched in the younger girl’s core, were suddenly dislodged from the tight, slippery channel. Katherine looks up and blinks confusedly at Elena’s abrupt jump.

The younger brunette’s head bumps against the roof of the compact car, sending her ass slamming onto the horn.

Elena lets out a low pained hiss that snaps Katherine out of it. She tentatively grabs Elena by the hips and guides them back to her lap. Her head shifts to the left and finds the source of the loud crash.

Turns out the kid had seen them both going at it that he failed to watch where he was going. The shopping cart that he was pushing must have crashed into the metal railings that contained other shopping carts.

She glares at the kid until he had the decency to look away while her hand snakes around Elena’s naked lower back in an attempt to calm her. Her other hand reaches up to soothe the pain away.

“Crap! What was that?” She hears Elena mutter into her hair.

“Oh that was nothing. Just a kid who got an eyeful of us going at it like bunnies,” murmurs Katherine absentmindedly as her hands continue to stroke her younger doppelganger’s smooth naked back.

Elena tenses up immediately and it takes another full minute before she realizes that it probably wasn't the best thing to say.

All traces of Elena behaving handsy disappears, leaving her doppelganger as awkward as she was ever. “Oh come on. He’s gone now. At least this isn’t Mystic Falls,” Katherine says and then bites her lip to stop a chuckle.

“It’s not funny. You’re not the one half-naked! I can’t believe I even did it,” bemoans Elena, burying herself more into the older vampire’s embrace.

Elena squeezes her thighs together and in turn, which resulted in Katherine’s hips getting squeezed tighter, causing the older vampire to groan.

“Don’t do that.”

Her own hazel irises widen at the moment she sniffs Elena’s sweet arousal mixed with pure embarrassment permeating throughout the air. She ceases breathing as soon as she takes a whiff. Her open palms close to form a clenched fist to resist digging her fingernails into Elena’s.

Staring into the side mirror, she finds herself horrified at the dark popping veins emerging from beneath her makeup, or that her irises had taken on a crimson hue. She wills herself to stay strong; to resist the dark temptation.

Oh it would be so easy. She could just sweep aside Elena’s hair, exposing that delicate jugular and sink in, piercing the flesh until she drank it all. Pliant body. Dead doppelganger. No deal.

I need her alive.

Katherine repeats the words over and over again until the veins recede and vanish. Her eyes brown and normalize until she feels confident in uncurling her fists.

She needs fresh air. It was too close.

She has to put some distance between her and her doppelganger.

“How about some ice cream?” Katherine hears herself say and she feels Elena nodding. However, she makes no move to get up from her lap and open the car door.

Feeling impatient, Katherine adds a warning. “Jeremy’s probably waiting for us. I’m sure you don’t want him to know we’re fucking.”

Again, there was no reaction from the younger girl and Katherine can't read her expression since Elena’s face was practically hiding in the crook of her neck. Fed up with waiting, she unlocks the car door.

The sound of the door unlatching makes Elena grip her neck tighter as if  to prevent her from leaving. Katherine rolls her eyes at the action, and proceeds to carefully maneuver both of them out of the vehicle. One hand goes up to cover Elena’s head like a child so as to prevent the younger girl from receiving another souvenir bump. The other snakes to Elena’s waist for better support, not that it was really needed when Elena's legs were wrapped tightly around hers.

“There’s no one around, cupcake.”

Elena’s head bobs up from her shoulder at the statement and then releases Katherine from the deathly grip.

Katherine reaches back into the car to grab the shirt lying on the dashboard and grabs Elena’s winter coat from the passenger seat, before closing the door and locking the vehicle.

She hands the clothing to the younger girl, silently watching her dress. And if Katherine misses the soft, tight embrace Elena gave, she shrugs it off, chalking it to mere body heat and considers the fleeting feeling irrelevant.

They meet up with Jeremy waiting impatiently by the front doors, and all three end up having frozen yogurt instead. She pays for both of the siblings and they stroll past different shopping outlets in a leisurely manner.

Katherine watches Elena fish little chunks of strawberry out of her paper cup of yogurt, finding her antics rather cute.

It got her thinking.

She’s never really had many female friends or any friends, period. She wasn't the type to make small talk, let alone sleep over and cuddle or whatever it was teenagers were supposed to do with their friends. Most of her friendships had been built on life debts and business transactions, so she doesn’t really know what normal people do. Hadn’t really stopped running to actually live it. This is almost -

 

Well, she could get used to this.

 


 

“Oh no. Hell no! You never said anything about this, Gilbert,” huffs Katherine folding her arms and glaring hotly.

“Only because I knew you were going to say no anyways!” retorts Jeremy.

“Yes to shopping. I’m not going in there.”

“Chicken!”

“Jeremy!”

“Call me that again and I’ll wring your neck until it looks like one,” growls Katherine.

Elena plants herself firmly, arms apart, between them. To any outsider, it would look as though they were merely siblings squabbling which is probably why no one was paying them the slightest attention. She keeps her back towards Jeremy while eyeing Katherine’s statuette form, well aware the older vampire could very easily side step her and reach for him in one blink.

The argument ping pongs back and forth. If she wasn’t so worried Katherine would actually follow through, this argument was definitely laughable.

“Just one game, Kat,” she intervenes quickly before Jeremy could get another word in. She adds, “The game only lasts twenty minutes. We can go shopping after.”

Elena can see the internal cogs turning as the older vampire weighs the decision with a titillating frown.

“Fine, but I get to pick the outlets,” replies Katherine.

Jeremy leads the way inside the dark, dimly lit shop coupled with bright neon lights flashing across the walls while deafening music blasts overhead.

Katherine takes control of the situation yet again, side stepping Elena easily and pushing Jeremy aside. She watches her double ‘charm’ the geeky kid at the counter to let them play for free.

When she was done, and their hands were covered in ink, Katherine saunters towards the small allocated area where the other groups were waiting.

They only had to wait a bit before all the players were ushered into a tiny cramped room that held all the game equipment. The moment Katherine spots the bulky vest that everyone started reaching for, she starts complaining about how ugly it was and refuses to have the “dratted thing" attached.

Shaking her head in amusement, Elena eyes the crowded room for a moment. No one was looking their way, even Jeremy seemed engrossed with fiddling with all the straps.

She takes a step closer to Katherine and wraps her arms around her waist. She could feel Katherine relaxing against her, her cool body temperature coiling around her warmth.

“It’d be over before you know it,” Elena whispers into Katherine's ear as she steps backwards to slide the vest between them, easily wrangling the older vampire into it and fastening the clasps for her. She hands Katherine the laser tag gun and heads towards the wall to put hers on.

 


 

This is child’s play and a complete waste of time, Katherine grouses as the employee drones on reading all the rules aloud monotonously with an annoyingly scratchy voice.

Overall the principle of the game is the team with the highest points wins.

Piece of cake, she thinks and lets a smirk slide in until her doppelganger had to spoil her fun with a light caress on her arm whilst whispering, “Play nice.”

“I always play nice,” pouts Katherine, to which two pairs of brows raise synchronously in her direction. She ignores the Gilberts' snort and pursues her lips together.

Elena just shakes her head and reiterates, “No powers, Katherine. I mean it. Don't ruin the game.”

Only ten minutes into the game, Katherine begins to grumble as she tries to outrun this tireless, annoying, exuberant ten-year-old who had been chasing her ever since the lights went out.

“Don’t ruin the game, my ass,” she mutters and glares at the useless gun in her hand.

She hits a dead end with nowhere else to run. She turns around to find the kid coming in close, gleefully enjoying himself as he aims the plastic barrel at her vest.

“Game over,” the kid crows.

“Yeah, sure. For you,” replies Katherine darkly.

Glaring hard into the kid’s eyes, she makes quick work of him.

A couple of seconds later, the kid runs out the same way he chased her. She hears aggravated, protesting shouts, followed by the sounds of lasers blasting on the other side, before casually exiting with a giddy smile.

At the end of the session, she files out in line with the others and dumps all the gear into the empty bin by the doors. Everyone except Katherine crowds over to the leadership board screen whilst she perches on the edge of the bench, inspecting her nails. Their team was neither in the first place nor the last. They were somewhere in the middle, not that Katherine really cared about the scoring.

It didn’t matter if she did used a tiny bit of compulsion on the kid to shoot his team mates instead, resulting in them having a negative score. It was just a game, she reasoned.

Hands in his pockets, Gilbert shuffles over with Elena following, her hazel eyes twinkling in amusement.

Her brother just shakes his head and says, “That’s not the way to play.”

Elena, on the other hand, just plants herself on her lap, shrugging her shoulders as her petite body vibrates with light laughter while Katherine fights the urge to resist breaking her poker face for a wide grin, secretly relishing in delight at the younger girl’s fingers curling into her own.

“Jer, it’s a consolation she didn’t kill the kid.”

 


 

Unknown time, unknown location

A man sits hunched on the threadbare mattress, clutching his head as he mutters away. A book lying discarded on the dirty concrete, forgotten like the man himself was.

The voice in his head is back again, louder than ever.

<Submit, and you will set yourself free.>

He shakes his head and pants, sweat coating his forehead. “Never. I’m not letting you out.”

<You’re making this harder for you than it is for me.>

A phone buzzes on the ground nearby and the man takes a glance at the flashing screen.

He frowns at the profile picture. “Why is she calling me?”

The voice answers, sickly sweet and infuriatingly calm. <She’s the ticket out of this hell hole you’ve created. Pick up the phone.>

“No.”

<Pick it up. Now. >

“Tell me what you did first?” The man yells to the empty room.

It laughs, clear and loud, in his mind and his head prickles in pain, like a thousand knives stabbing at his forehead.

<I did plenty of things while you were napping, dearest Stefan.>

He falls to his knees, blinded in pain, clutching his head as the dark maniacal voice sweeps in, holding him down. He screams and shouts, but no one comes. Alone and helpless in his own home, confined with reinforced chains bolting the door shut, sealing the man and the darkness in.

Agony. Hatred. Fury. Sorrow. Alleviation. Peace.

A strange state of neutrality overcome his senses. The pain in his head dissipates as if it never existed. He picks up the phone and answers.

Chapter Text

It was almost too easy.

All he needed was to put a confused and worried expression on for her to see and the little witch ripped the reinforced steel chains apart. A shove forces the door open, freeing him at long last.

Alas! He couldn't muster the energy to stride out of this forsaken prison he’d been entombed inside of. His embarrassment renewed at his humane weakness while his newest ally rushed in, catching him by the arm. He felt his head being lowered to the ground carefully before a cold, stale crimson liquid spilled into his gaping mouth.

A couple more of those blood bags and his hunger was satiated for the time being.

“Damon’s in trouble. We have to save him, Stefan.”

That was the reason she sprang him out? He had wanted to guffaw and demand right there that she forget all about Stefan’s nuisance brother. However, it would be ill to not repay the favour. He was after all, indebted to the Bennett witch.

He followed her to the edge of the woods and he saw the way she steeled herself for a half-assed rescue mission, which he thought was absurd. She truly was desperate. Her facial features scrunched up as she whirled around in the middle of nowhere, muttering under her breath.

“It’s not here… not possible… I don't think I made any turns… It should be right here.”

How much time were they going to waste out here searching for some tree she’d stupidly marked in the dark, when he could be at some random chick’s apartment tearing her throat apart and devouring her alive?

The Bennett witch had described a clearing and this area that they were in… was not. He’d been here before, a long time ago feasting on common folks. But Stefan, his weaker human half, knows this territory well. This was his backyard of preying on cute, innocent, fluffy little animals. How terrible of him to eat these child-friendly creatures.

He rummaged around his mind through scattered pieces of Stefan’s memories roaming in these woods and there, not far ahead towards the east, he found images of an underground cell. He veered off in that direction without so much of a thought to update the witchling.

Ignoring her panicked shout, he spied the depilated, dingy bunker - the very same area in his other half’s memories. The steps leading down the bunker were uneven, half-chipped and grimy. Thick vines slithered all over the edges of the steps, camouflaging the route. In front of him loomed a thick iron-rod ivory gate. He bypassed the opened gate and noted that there were rusted chains bolted to the concrete dirt-ridden floor.

There was no unconscious vampire in sight. He shrugged at the lack of a prisoner and returned to the witchling. Her shouts of ‘being abandoned’ and ‘what if scenarios’ went through one ear and out the other.

“Don’t be so dramatic. Do you know where they might have moved him?”

“I don't know,” Bennett trailed off.

“Surely you must have some idea about where they could have kept him.”

The witchling seemed so lost that the vampire figured that throwing her a bone might speed things up. The quicker he helped her, the sooner she left. “How about a locator spell?”

Her expression perked up and she bit her lip in worry. “But I'll need something of his…”

He waved his hand dismissively and turned back to the vehicle parked by the road. “You can do the spell back at the boarding house. There's plenty of his stuff that you can use.”

 


 

Whitmore Shopping Complex

They were supposed to be shopping and trying on clothes in separate cubicles. However, Katherine had wanted to ‘see for herself.’

Elena knew her sense of fashion wasn't that great, so she had acquiesced. They had chosen the largest cubicle holed up in the Abercrombie outlet.

Katherine had pulled out one of the many strapless dresses from the huge pile they’d accumulated for her to try. The bodice of the dress hugged her so tightly that it ended up squashing her breasts together.

She stood facing the mirror, mildly stunned by how different she looked. An insistent set of hands grabbed her waist and spun her around. It seemed the older vampire shared the same sentiment. She watched Katherine eye her up and down critically.

The tension in the air was just maddeningly awkward and Elena was unsure what to do with her hands; by her sides or clasp them in front.

“Is… is this okay?”

Katherine rose from the cushion and stepped right into her personal space without a word. Her eyes darkened significantly, the pink tongue darted out to wet her lips while Elena had good grace to step back until she bumped against the mirror.

“You're stunning,” rasped Katherine and Elena could feel the older vampire's fingers running through her hair. “We should curl your hair again.”

“Yeah.” Elena replied eloquently as ever. She was going to ask Katherine if she had eaten recently but stopped once she felt something sharp graze her lips as they kissed.

“Ouch!”

Elena blinked as Katherine backs away apologetically yet the red veins beneath her eyes remain visible.

“Sorry. I can't help it. Your blood just keeps singing.”

Her cheeks flush at the implication of Katherine's words. She secretly did want to be taken again. Apparently the older vampire could sense the yearning in her blood.

“It’s alright. Do you want to?” Elena tilts her head to the side, exposing her throat.

Katherine wets her lips and shakes her head. “It's too obvious….but-”

Her lips curl devilishly. “I have an idea. Take the dress off.”

It's the second time today that Elena finds herself once again, divested of her clothing whilst Katherine stands fully clothed. Goosebumps prickle her skin as she stands awkwardly, clad only in her bra and panties. Katherine slinks gracefully down to the carpeted floor, her dark eyes holding her gaze. Elena shifts and parts her legs apart at the touch of Katherine's fingertips on her thigh.

She's betting the older vampire can literally smell how wet she is since her face was so close. She nearly moans when Katherine sniffs appreciatively before propping her left leg over her shoulder in such a way that exposes her inner thigh.

“I can make you come without fucking you,” says Katherine with a smirk. Her fangs elongate past her lips to pierce her delicate flesh.

She feels a sting of sweet pain searing through her nerves followed by a sharp burst of pleasure shooting to her core. Her lips form an O as she gasps breathlessly. One hand shoots upwards to grip onto the wall hook for support while the other claps over her mouth.

 


 

The Salvatore Boarding House

He left the Bennett witch alone in the living room, hunched over the map of the town with one of Damon’s possessions.

Three sharp knocks on the front door alerted him and he hollered, “Pizza’s here!”

His enhanced hearing tuned into the witch muttering ‘Great’ under her breath.

He yanked the door open to discover the delivery came in the form of a short, plump chick paying no attention to him whatsoever, too busy texting her on phone singlehandedly whilst balancing the pizza box in the other.  She had dark brown hair with streaks of green peroxide and wore a nose ring.

“My. My. aren’t you delicious?”

“$8.49 for one medium stuffed crust cheese pizza,” the girl said whilst popping bright pink bubble gum.

He had already decided long before delivery came that the delivery person would be his first course of the day. Bennett had wanted to get something to eat since there was nothing but liquid substances at his place. Calling for takeout delivery meant freshly cooked food delivered by humans - ones he could lure in with charming smiles and false words.

For a town which had prior knowledge of vampires existing, it had no safeguards installed. The girl obeyed his commands after he had grabbed her phone and tossed it away.

The town council must be sleeping on their duties. She stood there, compliant and silent, as his fangs punctured her jugular. He drank from her hungrily until he could hear the witch shout triumphantly.

“I found Damon. I know where he is.”

He ignored the thundering footsteps rushing toward him followed by a lot of shouting and then came pain. Sharp stabbing bursts of pain exploded in his head; he barely recalled unlatching from his prey or falling to the ground. They lasted only a couple of minutes and then the pain receded.

He groans and blinks. His meal had been rescued and had jumped on the motorcycle parked by his driveway.

Towering over him was the Bennett witch looking down at him as she vocalized, “I thought you only drink animal blood.”

“This isn’t Twilight, Bennett,” he sneered and stood. “Blame it on your boyfriend for locking me up for 54 days.”

He doesn’t get very far when the witch questions him. “Why did he lock you up?”

“Have you seen his temper?”

She inquired, “You must have done something to set him off.”

Another question and more unanswered questions would lead to expected answers he didn't want to answer. Instead, he switches tactics.

“So where's dearest Damon?”

She gave him a funny look and replied, “He's at the town square, just two blocks away from the clock tower.”

“Fine. I'll meet you there.”

“I can drive us there,” intersected the witch.

He rolled his eyes, plastering a disarming smile and insisted, “Running’s much quicker.”

He could finish what he started on his getaway meal and maybe, just maybe he'd show up to assist her.

He spotted the human sitting by the side of the road with the fallen motorcycle nearby, its tires still spinning away. One of her hands was clutching tightly at the open; gushing wound, courtesy of him. She was going to bleed out in minutes. This was his dinner wasting away.

As he sped closer, the smell of musty copper like old pennies became stronger. The teenager had dried blood all over her arms and the front of her shirt was soaked. A stab of worry entered his consciousness and he wondered briefly where the odd emotion was coming from. She was his dinner. He wasn't going to help her.

A strange thought wormed itself under his fading bloodlust.

Won't her employer suspect something is amiss if she didn't turn up? You wouldn't want any trouble with the local police .

No. They were enough of a nuisance, he agreed unwittingly. He felt something shift in his mind; there was this compelling desire to help the human and send her on the way.

But… she's food! He protested internally and a sudden disconnected sensation overcame him promptly.

 


 

The delivery girl screams and tries to crawl away from him rather unsuccessfully. He barely has time to play nice, so he catches her ankle with one hand while he bites the other, tearing into his own wrist with ease. He dodges every one of her flailing limbs and flings his body on top of the writhing victim.

“Stop moving. I'm trying to save your life,” grunts Stefan as he forces his torn wrist into her mouth. He doesn’t have time to play nice so he yanks a fistful of peroxide hair, forcing the teen’s head back. He waits until her wounds have healed before letting her go.

“You’re going to forget this event ever took place, but you’re going to remember the phone number. If someone with the number ever calls for a pizza delivery, I need you to hang up immediately,” Stefan intones gravely.

The teenager nods her head nervously and looks down at her bloodied uniform top. “What about my shirt? I can’t go back to the shop looking like this.”

Pinching the bridge of the nose, Stefan sighs tiredly. “We’ll go back to my house. I can loan you something to wear while your shirt is being washed.”

Sharp, piercing bursts of explosions whistle through the darkening sky catching both of their attentions and they pause in mid-stride. Stefan glances up and sees fireworks shooting up and bursting into cute patterns, illuminating the blank canvass littered with faint twinkling stars.

“Whoa! Dude, I can’t believe I’m missing this. The party’s already started and… I’m still here,” the girl exclaims.

Stefan turns back to face her in confusion. “What’s the celebration about?”

“You don’t know? Have you been living in a cave?! Tonight’s the Founder’s Day celebration,” she replies excitedly. “Mayor Lockwood would always begin with a historical speech, yada yada yada… There would be music, dancing, free food… Why am I still here??”

“Your shirt,” reminds Stefan.

“Oh yeah. So I'm just going to allow some random hot stranger take me home…”

He heaves another long suffering sigh but keeps walking. They always follow.

 


 

Mystic Falls Town Square

Elsewhere, in the middle of the town square, John Gilbert hums excitedly at his plan being executed perfectly. The fireworks proved to be an excellent distraction. The common folk paid no attention to the obvious while Sheriff Forbes and her team subdue anyone reacting oddly to the device and led them away discretely. There was a man bending over, clutching the metal pipe attached to the building for support whilst the other hand was gripping his head.

Looks like they missed one, John muses and strolls over to the hunched person groaning in pain.

The suit strikes him as familiar but he brushed it off absentmindedly; this will be over soon and Mystic Falls will be vampire-free once again.

He readies the vervain injector out of the small rectangular tin container that was kept in the inner pocket of his suit jacket and stabs the vampire in the back. Instead of the vampire going down like a sack of rocks, the unknown person was no longer attached to the pipe and was instead going for the front of his jacket.

“Make it stop. Argh!! What is that noise?!!”

John makes to shove the crazed person away but it was the familiarity of the voice and the once neatly gelled hair now stuck and messed up, froze him to the spot. He just stares at the man on the pavement, groaning in pain.

He grew up with him all his life, went to school together, got chewed out by the very same person. John closes his mouth and takes the portable device from one of his pockets, staring at it confusedly.

“How is this possible?” was all John could say.

Making up his mind, John helps him into the grill house and settles his best friend down in a nearby booth, before taking the opposite end. He can’t stop running through all the possibilities and scenarios of the how.

There has to be an explanation.

Nothing made sense anymore.

He waves the Donovan kid over and orders two glasses of scotch.

Rich can't be a vampire. It's just not possible. This is the same man who actively spikes his own liquor with vervain. How did vampire blood get into his system? Could it be possible to be injected and then killed? No, what vampire would go all the trouble to do it? Someone with a lot of free time, his subconscious argues. They’ve already captured Damon Salvatore. Katherine Pierce has fled town, this one was accounted for. That just leaves one other Salvatore that is currently missing. The Sheriff has had no luck finding him even after they had raided the boarding house that one lovely afternoon. Is it possible for Rich to be in transition? No, he was behaving like himself at the town square. If he is a vampire, he would be reacting horribly to the sun. It has to be something else then, but what?

The Donovan kid returns to the table some time later, looking down at them with a grim expression. He mentions something about needing to run out for a bit and whether they needed anything else. John shakes his head and sends him off politely.

He watches as the blond nods decisively and then flings the white towel that was over his shoulder onto the bar counter. He rushes out of the grill house with his coat in hand, talking hurriedly into his phone.

 


 

The Gilbert Residence

The passenger door of the Porsche swings open and shuts gently with a tiny click as the younger Gilbert carries the shopping bags into the house, leaving the front door open.

Katherine turns back to glance at her sleeping doppelganger, snoring quietly with her seat belt still fastened and a white fleece blanket tucked into her sides.

Her attempts to wake Elena up grow futile as the younger girl doesn’t so much as stir. Giving up, Katherine walks around the front of the Porsche to and unbuckles Elena. She hooks an arm under the younger girl’s thighs and another goes behind the middle of her back. Katherine straightens up and bumps her hip against the car door, easily shutting the door and begins sauntering towards the lighted front porch.

“I’m starting to think you secretly enjoy being carried,” utters Katherine with a sigh.

Warm breath grazes the side of her collarbone as she feels Elena adjust to the position. She ducks her head down to hide a little tug of a smile flitting across her expression while her doppelganger mumbles weakly, “Do not.”

Katherine teases, easily hefting Elena up the stairs. “Really. Who’s being a little koala here?”

She doesn’t miss the knowing smirk Jeremy has plastered as she drops her car keys into his open palm. She mouths a silent order to which he nods in response, leaving them both in the darkened bedroom.

Chapter Text

This horror freak madness rains down upon the town square in the form of burning buildings next to the watch tower. People rush in and out of the area from all different directions.

Jenna feels almost claustrophobic, trapped in an endless sea of frantic arms shoving to get away. If there is one constant variable, it is this noise that rings in her ears. It is everywhere - someone’s cell phone ringing, a child wailing for his mom, a man grunting as the local police hustles him away. On top of that, sweat trickles down everyone’s faces causing a disgusting odor to linger in the air.

Jenna pushes her way into the crowd, coughing harshly into her fist. She remembers Jeremy informing her that they would be here for the fireworks. She fails to spot them in the throng of maniac faces blurring as one. What she needs is higher ground and a good cell reception. A blur of brown and blue rushes past her from the grill house, jostling her roughly in her shoulder.

She turns to see him mumble a quick apology in her direction, before disappearing into the crowd. She recognizes him as the kid with a kind smile and sad past, always hanging out with Elena since childhood, Matt Donovan. She manages to catch little odd snippets of his shouting conversation into his phone, something about ‘not doing anything stupid’ and that he ‘would be right over.’

She ducks out of the crowd and into the grill house and discovers John and the Mayor sitting in a booth.

“Did you go nuts over the crazy assortment of fireworks, because I don’t think this is what I had in mind of a celebration,” comments Jenna as she slides into the same booth, casually bumping her hip against his.

She spies the full shot glass lying untouched in the middle and grabs it unceremoniously, easily draining it in one mouthful. “Sooo… why are you two hiding here instead of containing the situation outside? You do know that there are buildings burning right?”

John doesn’t answer any of her questions. Instead, he seems to be fixated on two odd devices on the table. One looks like one of those old-fashioned pocket compasses with a bronze needle point pointing towards the exit. The other device looks strange like a rectangular-like box with four different mechanical cogs working whilst the fifth cog which Jenna wanted to point out, looked as though it came from a brooch. It didn’t look like a cog. It seemed to be some sort of peculiarly-shaped key. She doubts as to whether batteries were used to power it.

“What does this thing do?” Jenna reaches for it, only to be slapped away.

John scowls at her and mutters, “Don’t touch it! Don’t you have anything better to do… like writing your thesis?”

“Can’t I take a break, Mr. Jackass? And don’t change the subject. You haven’t told me what you’re doing here or why the Mayor passed out?”

John’s next statement just serves to confuse her even further as she tries to read in between the lines. “He reacted to the device but he’s not one of them.”

“One of what?”

John blinks and parrots after her. “What?”

“You just said… What are you even talking about? Are you drunk?” questions Jenna.

“No. Look, you’re not going to believe me if I tell you. Go home, take care of the kids. This is out of your depth,” rebuts John.

Jenna rolls her eyes at the blatant bullshit and retorts, “This is one of your top secret council matters, right? No outsiders allowed. The kids aren’t at home anyways. Jeremy mentioned he wanted to check out the ‘spectacular’ fireworks. They could be somewhere in that crowd. Don’t you care to check in with them once in awhile?”

His jaw clenches tersely as he glowers, hissing “I’m not their guardian.”

She wants to punch him in the face. She really wants to break his nose if that would knock any sense into him.

She snaps and slides out of the booth. “No, you’re just the cool irresponsible uncle.”

John opens his mouth to reply but a low groan momentarily breaks out as Mayor Lockwood chooses that moment to wake up, blinking blearily at them. John just looks flabbergasted and slams his back sharply against the booth back support. The box-shaped device clicks quietly and the cogs stop spinning. The words lodge in her throat as she stares at a pair of golden yellow slits.

Her voice box fails to work. She blinks not once, twice, but several times. There is no mistake.

The Mayor’s eyes resemble to a feral wild cat and… they glowed.

Jenna shifts minutely and whispers, “This isn’t normal, right? Did you see it?”

Judging by John’s gobsmacked expression, she knows she isn’t the only one imagining things.

 

~A~

 

“What's that look for? Do I have something in my teeth?”

Jenna snaps back to the present and shakes her head furiously. The Mayor blinks again and his eyes return to normal. She presses her lips together and thinks desperately for a plausible, rationale explanation.

It must be a trick of the light. Yup. Because there's no such thing as- Vampires? Werewolves? The inner voice pipes up and Jenna squashes the stream of thoughts down. This is definitely the work of sleep deprivation and watching the BTVS marathon on Netflix.

She cautiously edges away from the table and towards the exit. When Richard levels a curious glance her way, Jenna blurts out an excuse and does everything she can to walk out nonchalantly. The moment she exits, she exhales a large sigh and begins walking back to the SUV parked by the curb.

She throws her handbag over to the passenger seat as she climbs into the car. Her hands go through the motions automatically, before driving into the night with racing thoughts running a mile per minute.

John’s right. I’m not cut out for this crazy shtick. I’m better off focusing on one responsibility at a time.

 


 

The Gilbert Residence

 

Katherine blinks blearily awake for the second time, squinting at the digital time displayed. She groans lowly at the incessant vibration on the far end of the bedside table. Her arm uncoils from the snug hold on Elena’s waist and snakes silently under the blanket. She straightens her arm out and comes out short.

Katherine huffs frustratedly and shifts her body delicately towards the annoying phone.

In any normal situation, she wouldn't have given a damn. However, she had just successfully coaxed Elena to sleep in her own room. She isn’t going to let anything, not even a phone that has been vibrating for the past fifteen minutes, wake her doppelganger who is currently dead asleep on top of her. All the hard work she’d put in would have been for nothing.

She couldn't just push Elena off; It wouldn't have worked anyway, not with the death grip the younger brunette had attached to her sides. Thus, Katherine is left with only one option, and that is to scoot very slowly and carefully until she reaches the phone and to shut it off.

It takes four attempts to slide the phone towards the bed. She comes up short on the first two tries; the third attempt had her middle finger pushing the corner of the phone away instead of towards. Katherine growls in annoyance and halts abruptly upon feeling Elena shifting, the younger girl's head rubbing against her breasts.

Her clenched fist holds the still vibrating smart phone high above her head. A quick cursory glance at the multiple missed calls and texts notification coming from one person explains nothing. Her thumb hovers over the reject call button undecidedly. What could be so important that the Donovan kid has to tell Elena at this ungodly hour?

Her ears twitch at the sound of the front door shutting and a loud voice announcing the guardian's return; albeit too loudly.

Shit shit! Tonight's not her night.

Jenna would most definitely want to check in on Elena and she was currently stuck.

 


 

Salvatore Boarding House

 

They stumble through the foyer together, each holding onto one heavy limb, as they drag the weakened vampire into the living room, and heave him onto the burgundy couch. Alaric rests his hands on his knees, half-bent as he catches his breath, content on just letting Bonnie Bennett tend to his wife’s slaughterer.

How did he go from wanting to avenge Isobel’s death to rescuing the murdering psychopath from the burning building in the short period of time he had spent in Mystic Falls?

“He needs blood. There should be some in the basement. Entrance is behind the fake bookshelf in the kitchen,” directs Bonnie who was still hovering over the vampire.

He easily finds the entrance and walks down the steps leading to the basement. There was no light switch next to the door.

Squinting into the near darkness, his hand claws for purchase on the thick railing and he takes one step at a time until he reaches the bottom.

The place looks dank and smells too much of copper; as though gallons and gallons of pennies are kept down here. A warren of small rooms with only one way in or out are built side by side in this cramped space. Upon closer examination, Alaric notices that these rooms fit the profile of tiny prison-like cells. He spies the giant white storage locker and opens it. Empty.

He did, however, notices a large pool of blood in one of the cells with a flickering light bulb attached to the ceiling. Unlike the rest of the barren empty rooms, this cell feels livelier.

Alaric walks into the cell, tentatively stepping over the fallen steel bolted door. It must have taken a lot of force to blast such a heavy component open. The side of the wall which is the closest to the cot had multiple etchings of lines and strikeouts as if somebody was keeping track of something. He circles around the large pool of semi-congealed blood and picks up a brown leather back cover book with no markings. His fingers pinched the edges of the bloodstained book delicately with a thumb and an index finger.

A shout from upstairs nearly gives him a heart attack as his head does a whiplash.

“Mr. Saltzman, did you find it?”

The blood bags. He’d forgotten about Damon. He rushes out of the room with the book and runs up the stairs. He returns to the living room to discover Damon half-staggering and half-clinging on to the furniture whilst Bonnie attempts to help; only to be pushed away.

“There aren't any more blood bags. What’s he doing?” Alaric jerks his head at the groaning stubborn vampire.

Bonnie shakes her head and watches the vampire grip the door frame tightly with a helpless look. “I don’t know. I think he’s delirious. He keeps mumbling that he can smell blood in the house.”

He stands there by Bonnie’s side, wondering if he should point out that there was indeed a very large pool of blood that he had found in the basement; or that Damon’s sense of smell must be faulty because instead of moving towards the kitchen, the vampire has managed to haul himself up the stairs, clinging onto the railings for support.

His feet gravitate towards the struggling vampire while hearing himself say, “Help me with him. Let’s see if we can put him to bed. I swiped some vervain from one of the cops. It should be enough to knock him out.”

“And then what?”

Alaric shrugs in response as he pulls Damon up to his feet and lets him lean heavily onto his side. “I can head down the hospital tonight and grab a couple of blood bags so he won’t dessicate.”

 


 

Bonnie bumps right into Mr. Saltzman’s back as the teacher abruptly stops at the doorway of Damon’s bedroom. Due to his height and the width of his broad shoulders, she couldn’t peek from behind even though she was already standing on tiptoes.

“What’s wrong, Mr. Saltzman? Is Damon okay?”

“He’s fine but-”

There was something awfully strange from the choppy tone of the teacher’s voice. It sounded as though there was something stuck in his throat.

She hears a but and her brain immediately veers off to the worst scenario she imagined. Her fingers clawed frantically at Mr. Saltzman’s back shirt until there was a small bit of space for her to squeeze through.

Her jaw goes slack as she stares at her boyfriend passed out on one end of the bed whilst the same girl who came by to deliver the pizza earlier this afternoon was now sitting on the other end of the bed, staring blankly at them.

The image itself was eerie to the core. It took a minute or two for Bonnie to realize that the girl’s throat was slit open and her uniform attire was soaked in blood. Damon wasn’t delirious after all; it had been the stench of dried blood that had attracted him.

“Oh my god! Damon, she’s dead. You can’t sleep here!” gasps Bonnie as she moves towards him, pulling at his heavy limb in a futile attempt to wake him up. However, all that shaking only serve to move the bed while the vampire just snorts and turns his head. She hears a quiet thud and glances up.

Her eyes widen in horror as the girl’s head falls off from its perch; which was her neck, and rolls down from the rigid body of the corpse until the head lands next to its own feet, staring back at her with dead soul-less eyes.

Bonnie pales at the unseemly horror; she can feel her heart thudding against her rib cage like a rock rattling in a box. The high-pitched scream rips through her throat and before she can fully process the scene; she has scrambled furiously towards the open doorway, wobbling down the stairs on shaky legs.

She doesn’t know what to think or what to feel, just that she needs to leave, now.

 


 

Mystic Falls General Hospital

 

After an endless session of pacing the highly polished linoleum floor, Tyler forces himself to sit down on one of the monotonously blue waiting chairs aligned together back-to-back in the middle of the waiting room.

The clacking of the keys coming from the receptionist and the constant boring commercials from the TV was going to drive him insane.

Please don’t die. Please be okay. I’m sorry, Care. I’ll do anything you want after this, just please don’t die.

He sits at the edge of the chair and places his hands on his knees with the intention to stop them from bouncing every five seconds. A nurse had came out earlier to update him and Matt on Caroline’s status. Because of him, she had sustained internal bleeding.

He spies the discoloring, sand-colored water dispenser placed in the corner of the room, next to an artificial plant full of faux, olive green leaves. He licks his dry lips and chances a glance at the clock.

Making up his mind, Tyler walks over to the water fountain and picks up a disposable cup to which he mixes both hot and cold water together.

He quickly gulps the water down and then crushes the frail paper cup in his hand, before throwing it in the bin.  The approaching stampede of footsteps gives Tyler pause. His head turns to see his parents rushing in with worried expressions. His mother enters the waiting room first; behind her, his father in tow.

“Are you okay? Are you hurt?”

“Were you drink-driving again, Tyler?”

Tyler shakes his head and tries to fend off his mother’s grabbing hands as she yanks at his jaw to check him over.

“Yes. No, I didn’t touch a single drop. See, mom, I’m fine. It’s not me. It’s Caroline,” he says.

His father just looks at him with disappointment etched on his face and deduces matter-of-factly, “You lost control of the car, didn’t you? When are you going to stop being so reckless? You aren’t a child anymore-”

There it is, that same old lecture, modified differently whenever he fails at something but the ending was always the same.

It makes his blood boil with anger; makes him want to punch something. His father never gives him the chance to prove himself. He was always there, lurking in the back, ready for another lecture with a disappointed look.

Tyler averts his eyes to the sign flashing above their heads, signalling that Caroline Forbes's surgery was still ongoing.

He blurts out suddenly, interrupting his father’s tireless irate rant. “I know it’s my fault! But I was being careful all the way until I- I heard this screeching noise. Like a banshee scream. It felt as if there were a thousand voices screaming in my head-”

He’d lost them. His parents are staring at him as though he was speaking gibberish. His mother just stares at him confusedly, her hands reaching out in an almost cautious way. Her tone, once panicked, moderates to a slight quaver as she questions him, “How long have you been hearing things, Ty?”

She turns to his father, “Maybe we should get a doctor to take a brain scan or something, to be safe?”

He looks at his father who looks like he’d seen a ghost.

“A screeching noise. You heard it too,” mutters his father who takes out his cell phone from his trouser pocket.

“I need to make a call. Just do what your mother says, Tyler.”

Tyler watches his father exit the room with his mouth pursued but slightly open and loose.

He blinks and refocuses. Usually, he would have gotten another round. It feels strangely discomforting to break their little routine. Feeling slightly lost, he turns back to the surgery room doors not knowing what else to do.

Chapter Text

Clutching the forgotten manila folder that held Isobel’s research she found underneath her handbag on the passenger seat, Jenna shuts the car door and heads towards the lighted porch. The kids are most likely at home and sure enough, she could hear the sound of the television blaring from the living room as she fishes for the house keys in her handbag. She slides the key and twists it anti-clockwise.

 

The front door swings forward gently, allowing her to enter. She closes it with a quiet creak while hanging up her coat and scarf on the coat hanger by the door. Jeremy gives her one hell of a jump scare, bounding out from her blind spot just as she tosses the bundle of keys onto the tray.

 

“JENNA!”

 

“Jeepers! Jeremy! Are you trying to wake up the whole neighborhood?! Why are you still up? It’s already past midnight. ” Her eyes narrow at his widening grin and motions him away, so she can kick off her boots.

 

“It’s a Saturday tomorrow,” he replies, having the decency to moderate his tone.

 

“It’s today,” reminds Jenna as she shakes her head. “Where’s Elena?”

 

“Sleeping. Do you want to watch the show with me?”

 

He side steps her, easily blocking her way towards the stairs with his growing frame. Part of her wonders if he’s being playful while the other finds his behavior odd. She frowns and takes a step up the stairs while he takes a step back, mirroring her movement.

 

“It’s a new show called Jessica Jones. I found it on Netflix.”

 

“Later, Jer. Let me check on Elena first.”

 

Jeremy doesn’t budge an inch, causing Jenna to stop in her tracks. He comments whilst gesturing his hands about, “Elena’s fine, Aunt Jenna. I haven’t heard any noise from upstairs. If she has a nightmare, we’ll know.”

 

Am I imagining things or is Jer actually trying to stop me from going upstairs?

 

The unknown certainty fills her from the pit of her stomach, churning upwards. She surges forward suddenly, causing Jeremy to stumble and nearly trip on the stairs. Her arm catches him and steers him away from her intended destination.

 

“I know. But my mind won’t rest until I see for myself. I’ll come down straight away,” Jenna promises and forces a chuckle out to hide her worry.

 

She waits for Jeremy to slump back down the stairs and returns to the living room. Turning back, she schools her expression and continues her walk to her bedroom. However, Elena isn’t there. This, Jenna considers, to be odd because for the past three weeks, Elena had practically camped out in her room and she wouldn’t sleep until she was there.

 

She tiptoes towards Elena's closed bedroom and turns the doorknob slowly. But the door remains shut. How strange!

 

Jenna frowns, scrunching her features as she attempts again. This time, she leans against the door with half of her weight. Nothing. Not a zilch. The bedroom door remains closed even though she could turn the knob easily. She just couldn't enter.

 

Is the door stuck? Maybe I’ll have John take a look later. I just have to take the long way in.

 

Jenna releases the doorknob with a shrug and heads towards the adjoining bathroom. A quiet click catches her attention as she pauses in mid-stride. She pivots slowly, blinking confusedly at the bedroom door creaking open by itself.

 

A finger gently pushes the door with suspicion etched on her features, before poking her head in. A soft stream of light from the hallway spills around her body and filters into the darkened room, highlighting a silhouette of Elena sprawled asleep, lying on her stomach in the middle of the queen-sized bed.  

 

She takes a couple of steps closer towards the bed and turns the bedside lamp on, immediately dialing it to the dimmest setting so as to not disturb her niece. The floorboards creak and Jenna feels a slight swish of disturbance coming from behind. Her head snaps to the direction but finds nothing.

 

Okay… why do I feel as though there was somebody standing there by the door? Jenna, you’re over-imagining things again. You need to sleep. Elena is fine , she berates herself.

 

Yet something feels different, though the room looks the same.

 

Upon closer inspection, Jenna doesn’t know how she manages to miss it. She was the one who washed all the bedsheets after all. She remembers putting on fresh sheets for Elena’s bed just this morning. White cotton linens.

 

These are glacial tinted sheets with a silky smooth finish. She wouldn’t have known the difference until she pulls the duvet higher to Elena’s bare shoulders, her fingers caressing the luxurious material.

 

I wonder if this is 100% Egyptian cotton… Where did Elena get this from? I know these aren’t ours!

 

Her eyes rove around the room casually whilst sitting at the edge of the bed. The furniture all looks the same as she left it, except… the bay window. Tilting her head slightly, Jenna studies it for a moment.

 

There used to be colorful pillows, if I’m not wrong.

 

Instead, a neat row of teddy bears sit neatly in a row from one end to the other. She recognizes the bears were all from the care packages Elena’s classmates had given during the time she was hospitalized.

 

Who else in Mystic Falls has a vested interest in Elena Gilbert? It can’t be Jeremy or John because of these sheets, obviously. So it has to be someone she doesn’t know but one that Elena knows and trusts. Someone rich… with a cultivated touch. It can’t be the Salvatores. She hasn’t mentioned them once. Who could it be?

 

Jenna’s brow arches upon catching the end of Elena’s mumble, “You promised me no powers.”

 


 

The Boarding House

 

His smile twists into a grimace at the trickle of blood dripping from his bloodied clenched fist to splatter onto the unconscious vampire’s pale lips. There was no immediate effect, other than a pinkish tongue darting out for a taste. Crimson irises shoot open and pierce right through Alaric.

 

“You! What the hell are you doing in my house?” Damon hisses.

 

He's prepared for this and replies smoothly, “Bonnie saved your life and I assisted.  Now where's your brother?”

 

Damon just stares at him perplexedly until Alaric heaves a long suffering sigh and spins the still groggy vampire by the shoulders to face the current situation.

 

“Huh.”

 

“That's all you've got? There is a teenage girl beheaded and drained of blood, propped nicely on your bed. We need to stop him before this happens again,” presses Alaric, his eye twitching at the Salvatore's lack of response.

 

Damon lets out a humorless chuckle and sneers, “We? There is no ‘we’ here. You ratted me out to Forbes, and then you saved my ass. What I want to know is which idiot let him out of his cage.”

 

Damon advances steadily despite stumbling, while his line of sight drops significantly to his bloodied hand.

 

Shit! The blood’s attracting him.

 

Alaric casts a fleeting glance at the exit and edges towards it, while his brain wracks for a distraction.

 

“I- I don’t know. The body was already here when we dragged you upstairs.”

 

He can make it out. There's only four feet left between him to the door. There is a high probability of success if he can dash out and get into his car. He’d tell the Sheriff about the missing Salvatore brother, and if Damon manages to catch him…

 

Well, he still has a full syringe of vervain.

 

Alaric shoves a shelf filled with music cd cases behind him as he exits the bedroom. He doesn’t look back but his ears catch Damon’s soft ‘oof’ followed by a noisy crash. He stumbles down the stairs, his clumsy feet getting in the way. He has never categorized himself as a slow runner. However, compared to a vampire; he’s slow enough.

 

The front door is almost a foot away. Alaric reaches for the door knob, desperate to escape, only to be shoved face first into the red oak door; parts of his hair yanked aside to expose his jugular. He resists and pulls the syringe out from his inner jacket pocket, swinging his clenched fist behind wildly.

 

It turns into a scuffle after the syringe gets knocked out of his grip. Alaric grunts as his hands grab fistfuls of Damon’s clothing and attempts to wrestle the vampire to the ground. He succeeds in hooking his boot behind the other’s lower calf, causing Damon to fall backwards. Alaric goes down on bended knee, adding pressure on the other’s chest as his arm stretches for the syringe lying conspicuously, just out of reach.

 

A pained howl erupts from his lungs as Damon chomps down on his exposed forearm. He sees tiny black specks in his vision while his body weakens with each second. He blinks furiously in order to focus on the plastic vial; his fingers stretching to its limit. The supposedly lifesaver is only an inch away from his fingertips.

 

Just a bit more.

 

They touch the cylindrical container and slump against the floor, unmoving.

 


 

Damon shoves the teacher off and rises from the ground, dusting lint from his clothes.

 

“Nice try,” he comments with a frown at the dead man before bending to swipe the syringe of vervain from the floor and tucking it into the pocket of his pants. “I'll take this.”

 

A little twist to the door knob and Damon disappears into the night, leaving behind two recently dead corpses in the boarding house. He’d hide his brother's victim later, down by the ravine. No one has yet to discover the first body. Saltzman will return to the land of the living in a few hours.

 

Revenge first. Everything else can wait.

 

He drops by Forbes’ place, only to realize that not one of the inhabitants was home. He glares at the darkened house whilst his hands stay clenched by his sides, fingernails digging into the flesh. He had been counting on the ditsy blonde to be home.

 

There's always the Gilberts or the Lockwood kid. One of them will pay for this.

 

He speeds down lanes and junctions until the Gilbert residence enters his peripheral. It's a full house. Despite the obvious blaring noise coming from the television, Damon knows it’s useless to attempt staging a fight when the elder Gilbert is present.

 

The oh-so-familiar cycle of vengeance calls out to him even louder than before; like a rat gnawing at him, relentless and unceasing. He squashes the irrational emotion and blurs away from another founding member’s residence for the second time. His stomach protests, forcing him to detour to the hospital.

 

~A~

 

Damon slinks through countless corridors and hallways unnoticed, hitching his dark jacket collar up. He grabs one of those clip paper boards from a startled nurse and pretends to flip through the papers until the officer heads off to another direction.

 

His brow arches up in curiosity as he tosses the papers back to the nurse still standing there, confused and lost. Come to think of it, she would be pretty fetching for a meal. He beckons her into an empty room with a silent order. He wastes no time in devouring her after a quick snap of the pretty neck.

 

He disappears into the same heavy set of doors as the officer sets off. Signs cover the windowless surface. No children under age eighteen. Restricted, no flowers or latex beyond this point.

 

Where is he going?

 

The doors swing shut behind Damon with a gentle click. There is a quiet tension, broken by the low beeps of monitors, the occasional hiss, and the squeak of rubber shoes on tile floors. It’s colder in here than the other rooms. There is a central desk, with flat panel computer screens and nameless monitors that show various patient’s statuses.

 

His need for revenge festers like a septic wound, red, pulsing and angry after spotting the Sheriff and the Lockwoods lingering around a coffee dispenser in a heated discussion. Words of sympathies and apologies are exchanged. He would be an idiot to try anything, so he waits for the perfect opportunity.

 

Up ahead, he finds the Mayor’s brat sitting next to that daft Donovan kid, silent and somber. Who died? Damon does a quick calculation and frowns. Where’s chirpy Blondie?!

 

The answer comes in form of Elena Gilbert stepping out of the room, her lips set in a hopeful tiny smile. She pats the blond’s shoulder in a reassuring manner. “She’s going to be okay. They said the surgery was a success. She just needs to pull through.”

 

He waits patiently in a darkened empty room with a perfect line of sight to the group. He sees the adults usher the teenagers past the doors before he exits his hidey-hole. There is no panic - and there is no need to cause one - just quiet competence and routine that seems to be balanced on the edge, waiting to spring into action.

 

All around are glass-walled rooms, some with curtains pulled for privacy, some open to the view of the watching staff. For the most part, there are only murmured conversations although occasionally, a weak voice would call for a nurse, or a loved one, or just call out to break the silence; the still, waiting hush.

 

There she is, clad in a flimsy hospital gown, a thick flannel tucked into her sides, hooked onto the various machines surrounding the cot. She is as vulnerable as a defenseless kitten. How cowardly of him to end her life in this manner. He had been itching for a slow torture, one he could use to make her an example to those who thought were victorious tonight.

 

His vindictiveness gives way to the monster within. It can only be cured by the cruel yet effective antibiotic which turns out of be a silent smothering. A dish best served cold.

 

Good riddance.

 


 

Unknown time, unknown location.

 

He has seen darkness before, the kind that makes the street look like an old fashioned photograph, everything a shade of grey.

 

This isn’t like that. This is the darkness that robs one of their best sense and replaces it with a paralysing fear.

 

In this darkness, Stefan blinks awake, unable to move. He feels the cuffs digging into his wrists and ankles; his left cheek lay firmly in the muddy dust that coats the cold concrete floor. He smells old dried blood and that’s all he knows.

 

A quiet click alerts him to his right and it takes all of his strength to turn his head.

 

He recognises her.

 

The good rational doctor in the council. He has met her in passing, therefore he finds it rather alarming to see her train the muzzle of the pistol at him with an impassioned expression.

 

“He’s awake.”

 

Who's she talking to?

 

There was nobody there but the good doctor nods all the same and leaves the room. He wants to call out to her but all he manages is a strangled choke.

 

A disembodied distinctive, upper-class accent voice echoes unkindly as it greets Stefan, “Well well, if it isn’t the Ripper of Monterrey.”

Chapter Text

Unknown time, unknown location.

 

“You've got the wrong person. I'm not the person you think I am,” Stefan gasps.

 

He hears sharp clean steps coming from his right and shifts his head, the only part of his body that could move. However, he could see nothing but darkness. What magic is this?

 

“Perhaps you do not know thyself, Salvatore.”

 

“How do you know my name?” Stefan croaks into the darkness.

 

Was this a vengeful witch here to avenge a dear loved one? Questions swirl and race around in his head. He could feel a powerful unknown force containing him and gluing his being to the concrete.

 

The voice speaks again; this time, the tone has taken a hint of a patronising touch. “I know many things. I know which sired line you were descended from. I know this is your third time masquerading as a high school student.  Does this pretence of an ordinary mundane lifestyle not bore you?”

 

Stefan makes to answer but this mysterious bodiless voice carries on, “It surprises me that there has only been a meager death rate of four students killed since you and your brother's arrival. Maybe you do have some self restraint.”

 

He doesn’t know.

 

Damon had kept him locked up in the basement for two to three months.

 

“Who… Who are you? What do you want?”

 

“My identity is none of your concern. Tell me, Stefan. Have you been missing days or should I say, a few hundred decades?”

 

His forehead furrows in confusion as he attempts to search his memory for broken fragments. “N-No. I haven't killed anybody since-”

 

His mind comes up starkly blank. That's funny. Why can't I recall my earlier memories?

 


 

Taking the lost expression as an answer, a gloved hand pulls out a worn nondescript journal from an inner pocket of his suit jacket. He carefully turns to one specific page and reads the diary entries aloud.

 

1922: During my time in Chicago, I was intoxicated with my new power, my limitless strength and speed. I tore through humans as if their lives were inconsequential.

 

Every warm drop of blood made me feel alive, strong, fearless, and powerful.

 

There is a scroll of names in my head, and the list keeps getting longer every day. I carve each name down behind a hidden wall compartment. Some names were more memorable than the others, so I kept their trinkets. They fill them in containers I found in my travels.

 

Alice the barmaid.

 

All the humans I fed on in New Orleans. Too many to name, even if I had bothered learning their names. They were just unlucky folks who accidentally crossed my path when I was hungry or needed something.”

 

He pauses briefly and the crinkle of a page turning sounds before he continues.

 

2002: I've added a new name to the list. Lexi Branson, Stefan’s dearest best friend who turned my lesser extent against me. She taught him to cling onto him; control, and he; in turn, chose the remnant shards of his humanity. Branson should have stayed in New Orleans in her hostel for the undead, safe in her own world where she could continue her own version of good.

 

I am one step closer to freeing myself.

 

Agitated scraps of metal chink against each other as the dark-haired man looks away from the journal. He watches impassively at the younger vampire yell and rage against the bindings.

 

“T-That’s not true! She can’t be dead. I didn’t kill her. I would never lay a hand on her. You’re lying!”

 

“I have no reason to lie. Why, it says right here, property of Stefan Salvatore. You killed your best friend.”

 

“YOU LIE!!! WHERE ARE YOU? I’m going to kill you.”

 

He wrinkles his nose at the incorrigible vampire struggling pitifully against the bindings that were meant to hold someone of his caliber. He closes the journal shut and pockets it, before walking out of the room.

 

“Let’s take a short break. We have a long way more to go.”

 


 

The Gilbert Residence

 

“Men,” grumbles Jenna as she bends down to pick another piece of clothing off the carpeted floor in John’s bedroom.

 

She tosses all the stray, fallen clothes into the laundry bin, before dumping the bin next to washer. She makes her way to Jeremy’s room and sure enough, the mess was larger compared to John’s. Jenna heaves a sigh and continues picking up the clothes on the floor or draped over the edge of the bed and desk chair.

 

“Why am I constantly cleaning up things after the two of you?”

 

She specifically told the kids and the overgrown man-child that she would be doing the laundry in the morning. All they needed to do was to put their bins next to the washer. Only one listened.

 

Screw them both. They can be the second batch.

 

Thus, Jenna tips her laundry bin into the washer, followed by Elena's. In doing so, she spots a long photo strip slipping out from Elena’s pile of clothes.

 

“What's this?”

 

She fishes the photograph out and turns it over, expecting to see Elena and her friends smiling at the camera. Instead, her jaw slackens in shock while her eyes grow wide. The photo strip was a standard two by eight inch divided into six sections.

 

On the left portion of the vertical strip, she recognizes Elena making a variety of silly faces, until the last picture where she finishes it with a bright smile. Squashed in the middle and nearly getting cut out of the picture, sits Jeremy attempting to make do with a miniscule amount of space. His face only appears in the first three sections.

 

And at the right portion, all Jenna could do is inhale and exhale as calmly as she can manage. Because there is an identical twin sitting at the other end of the booth seat, not goofing off with both her niece and nephew.

 

While the Gilberts have scrunched up their faces to make the funniest and silliest expressions, this foreign twin has decided to do the opposite and that is, to flutter her eyelashes and smile coyly for the first five shots.

 

At the very last snapshot, the twin had her head turned to face Elena; with the reddest lips Jenna has ever seen, the girl has a kiss planted squarely on Elena’s cheek.

 

Impossible. Isobel Fleming only gave birth to one beautiful girl. She didn't have twins. I combed Grayson’s medical appointment ledgers myself when Elena wanted to know her biological mother.

 

Does John know? What if he knew about the other twin and told Grayson to edit the entry? It sounds theoretically wacky. But why keep one and give the other up?

 

The more Jenna thinks the theory through, the ideas that spurt from her brain grow crazier and just plain absurd. It doesn’t make any sense.

 

Is this twin Elena’s secret friend?

 

Jenna remembers the time when Elena skipped school and no one knew where she went, or that time when she went missing for two days and came home sick.

 

Is Jeremy in on this little secret?

 

Then there's the million-dollar question Jenna wants answered.

 

How did these two meet?

 

Is this some sort of weird twisted parent trap? !

 


 

Unknown time, unknown location

 

His sight returns to him gradually. For a minute or two, Stefan makes out nothing at all but dark lumps of shapes from where he lay. His vision sharpens and he blinks up in confusion to see two dark-skinned warlocks kneeling over him.

 

From the similarity of facial features of both warlocks, to the way the younger warlock taking nonverbal cues from the older man, Stefan could tell that they are father and son. This is a family business but he doesn’t recognizes them.

 

He tests the bindings and frowns upon remembering something odd. “How is it I can see you now but I could see anything but blackness earlier?”

 

The younger warlock replies, “That’s because he’s a spe- Ow!”

 

“Quiet. We’re not here to speak to the prisoner. Begin chanting,” chides the older warlock in a gruff voice.

 

Stefan flinches at the warlock’s hands rubbing some of the thick paste from a mortar onto each side of his temple. The kid begins chanting in an ancient language and Stefan smells smoke. He turns his head and spots lighted candles around him. How did he not notice them before?

 

He gasps in pain and clenches his fists. Every nerve in his body jolts instantly and runs in different directions. The pain increases in small waves, small lulls giving false hope of an end.

 

Each peak robs his ability to speak, sending him into spasms against the invisible shackled bindings. It’s as though his blood has turned acidic, intent of destroying him from the inside out. All Stefan can do is writhe and scream.

 

-A-

 

All of a sudden, the pain stops and Stefan feels himself standing, with deafening pop music blasting around him. There is a familiar comfort in the atmosphere that causes him to blink as he takes it in. He’s back in the boarding house; specifically in the middle of the living room.

 

There’s a blonde girl with peroxide highlights dancing on the couch while eating pizza. He recognizes her. She was the pizza delivery girl he’d saved but he can’t recall her leaving the house. What happened before that?

 

His feet move towards her as though an invisible hand had tugged him forward.

 

“Dude, you live here? Alone! That’s neat. What are you… some pauper rich man’s son??”

 

Stefan finds him grinning despite the sheer confusion of it all. He doesn’t remember this event. He only recalls a distant memory of watching fireworks and offering the girl some clean clothes. Here she is, still dressed in her own bloodstained attire.

 

“Something like that. You know what this house has that no other properties have?” He hears himself say.

 

“What?”

 

“A hidden passage.”

 

Excitement bubbles forth from the plucky blonde as she squeals and jumps on the couch. She jumps off and takes his hand. “Where is it? Can I see? This is sooo cool!!”

 

He leads her down the basement where she follows with giggles and short exclamations.

 

Stefan watches the girl step over the heavy cell door and into the makeshift room with open curiosity. She bends down to pick up a brown book and turns it over, reading aloud, “Property of Stefan Salvatore.”

 

Turning around, she gasps and points at him. “Salvatore. Why does it sound so familiar? Wait a minute! You’re the new guy from school.”

 

“A gold star to you and another name for me. Be still now, Jade. That’s your name isn’t it? I’m going to enjoy taking you and you are going to scream.”

 

Stefan can smell her palpable fear growing as the familiar ache in his mouth grows. He hates that he already knows what is going to happen next. He hates himself for it; that he cannot change the outcome.

 

This was a memory. His alter ego’s memory. In the end, this all falls back on him.

 

He feels her blood being drained, his large monstrous hands crushing her neck so tightly that the screaming stops. It just halts and he stops; releasing her. The girl’s head drops to the ground and lands next to his bloodstained shoes.

 

Dread creeps over Stefan, chilling him to the core. In this numbness, his mind offers only one thought. I am the monster.

 

He props the corpse up on Damon’s bed as a little present, making sure to balance the severed head on the neck before basking in the aroma of the blood that has filled the room.

 

The scene changes, leaving Stefan in a blur of colors until he sees her.

 

His Lexi.

 

The one and only friend who had his back all these years. He goes behind and calls out to her. She turns around, a bright grin accompanies her always. Always so optimistic and a willingness to see the good in people.

 

The grin fades and her skin pales. She staggers towards him, looking horrified and confused.

 

“Stefan?”

 

I’m here. I’ve got you, are the words he wants to voice out but can’t. He mirrors her eye movements and stares at the vivid red pools staining her pretty white blouse. In his hand holds a stake.

 

NO.

 

“I'm not Stefan,” his lips move on its own accord as his hands cradle her until her corpse hardens to marble.

 


 

The Gilbert Residence

 

Jenna hears the front door shut s and a set of footsteps starts to make its way towards the den. She doesn’t stop her search and continues digging through his things in the dusty box she’d found in the attic.

 

“Hey. That’s my stuff! What the hell do you think you’re doing?”

 

He grabs the box and shoves it at the other end of the desk. It doesn’t deter her and she goes for him instead. Her hands are batted away from the other boxes as he attempts to push her out.

 

She shoves him right back, face red, spit flying everywhere. It’s the momentum that’s channelling her rage, propelling her forward.

 

Brandishing a rolled-up paper, she smacks him in the shoulder. “When are you going to tell Elena you’re her father? You owe her the truth! You fucking coward.”

 

He counters easily and throws her flimsy weapon to the other side of the room. “We’ve been over this. Have you been drinking again?”

 

“Stop deflecting and answer the damn question!”

 

“You stop meddling into my business, Sommers,” growls John. “I had it with you keep trying to tell me what to do. This is my house-”

 

“Grayson willed the property over to me and the kids, you idiot. You know, maybe you got it over your over inflated head… You couldn’t handle two so you gave one away!”

 

John just stares at her, his mouth pursued but slightly open and loose. He blinks, refocuses. “What are you rattling on about?”

 

“This.”

 

Jenna brandishes the photo strip at him and watches him flinch. Got you! Not so smart now.

 

John stares at her and then back at the picture, his eyes hardening. “You don’t know what you’re saying, Jenna. You think… You know everything but you don’t.”

 

He points a quivering finger at the stranger in the picture and his eyes darts his eyes past her head for a moment, before lowering his voice. “Stay far away from her, Jenna. She’s not who you believe her to be. That girl is very dangerous.”

 

Jenna retorts without thinking, going with the first thought that breezes past. “Yeah, right. Like she’s a vampire.”

Chapter Text

Wintry air swirls around Jeremy, taking every lick of warmth it could steal. He wraps his arms tighter around himself, pulling at his coat and tucking his chin downwards into his pullover. Despite the cold, the starry night sky overshadows the carnival; which most of the students had assisted in the setting up of the various assortment of game booths around the theme rides during the day.

 

The ticketing booth could be seen in the distance whilst patrons shuffle a few steps forward every so often, with children bouncing excitedly on their heels and chattering excessively. Upbeat tempos of the latest music trends blast through various speakers, with the occasional happy scream piercing the air.

 

Head bent down, eyes glued to the screen with both thumbs furiously tapping replies out, Jeremy edges forward, joining the ridiculously long queue for corn dogs. He feels a bump on his shoulder and a waft of cinnamon informs him of Aunt Jenna’s presence.

 

“Did you have a good time at Whitmore yesterday?”

 

He gives an energetic shake of his head. “Yeah, it was great.”

 

“What did you do?” She inquires with a slight quirk of her lips, her eyes burning full of curiosity.

 

Jeremy puts his phone away and begins to listing the things they did with his fingers. Oh there was so many things they'd done in one giant shopping mall. “We ate frozen yogurt, went shopping, photobombed people, played laser tag and-” Damn the hells to fucking vampire compulsion. Ah shit! I better come up with something quick. Jenna’s got that weird look on her face.

 

He smiles sheepishly and rubs the back of his head, making his hair stick out even more. “Uh.. Elena’s friend joined us for one round and cheated.”

 

“Is it Caroline?”

 

“Bonnie?”

 

He could have sworn her voice just went up a pitch higher whilst he shakes his head.

 

“Matt?”

 

“Tyler?”

 

He feels powerless, stuck in the queue with nowhere to go, while Jenna begins going down the long list of friends Elena has. Look what you did. Should have kept my mouth shut. She’s going to run out of names soon and then I have to provide her with the one name I can’t speak of.

 

“So it’s none of the usual group of friends she hangs out with. Let’s see… Stefan Salvatore,” Jenna says, eyes unusually bright.

 

Jeremy shoves his hands into his pockets as he negates her answer, his eyes darting for an escape that doesn’t look suspicious. Maybe he could nonchalantly tell her that he needs to pee or something.

 

“Still a no.” She makes a noncommittal hum. “What does she look like? Do you have any pictures?”

 

Of course, he has pictures. In fact, they took tons of selfies of each other in the mall. If he had just said it was just them hanging out, he could show Jenna the safe ones. However, she wants to know the identity of Katherine and he can’t-

 

He doesn’t know how to explain, let alone show Jenna the photos. She’ll have questions, Jeremy is positively sure of it. Ones that he couldn’t answer. He doubts Elena would know what to say.

 

So hey Jenna, here’s the thing. Elena’s friend is actually Elena’s look-alike who happens to be a vampire, and I can’t say anything because… well, I was hypnotized to do exactly what she says.

 

In other words, he’s screwed.

 

Awkward silence lingers in the air, thick and heavy, like a blanket, smothering them both. Jeremy stammers, “We… uh… They’re not in my phone so I can’t show you. We took pictures with a polaroid camera.”

 

It was a half-truth. At Elena’s insistence, Katherine had bought one off the shelf and they had had a hell of a time playing with it.

 

Not daring to look at Jenna, he focuses to the left in between the tented game booths. There he spots Elena wandering around alone, alongside the booths before disappearing into the House of Mirrors. Jeremy half turns back to re-engage Jenna back into conversation but she is no longer by his side.

 

“Jenna?” He calls out amidst to the sea of unfamiliar faces looming around. He steps out of the line and weaves his way through, searching for that recognizable the tell-tale blond ponytail whipping against the frigid breeze.

 

He spots her up ahead and immediately heads towards her. She has both her hands cupping her mouth as she shouts something, but he can’t hear her when there’s a large man holding a megaphone to rally patrons to his game booth. He follows the direction of her shout and his heart skips a beat at the sight.

 

What is she doing here?! Oh this is bad. I have to warn her that Jenna knows.

 

“Damn,” Jeremy mutters, pulling out his phone and after tapping at the screen incessantly, he jams it to one ear while the other has his finger in an attempt to drown out the outside commotion.

 

Pick up. Pick up pick up pick up.

 


 

The chilly cold air whips her hair as she enters the House of Mirrors, a fun house built on wheels like an upgraded trailer, enclosed in a series of mazes with interconnecting mirrors, some conclave ones in the corners greet Elena as she walks past. Her fingers brush against the endless passage of cold glass mirrors of her own reflections watching her every move. They stare at her with the same look she has and it unnerves her in this enclosed space.

 

Quickening her pace, Elena turns left and bangs her nose against the already stained glass mirror littered with numerous other fingerprints, no doubt from the other patrons who have made the same mistake as her.

 

Right, it is.

 

No, it’s a dead end.

 

Damn it.

 

She passes by a rustic timber middle pillar etched with graffiti enough times to realize one possible outcome. She’s been walking in circles the entire time. Elena spins around, cursing whilst trying to pinpoint a route that doesn’t have her reflection staring back her, disheveled and annoyed.

 

Beneath the sound of electro music blaring away, Elena could neither hear her own frantic steps nor her mobile vibrating shrillingly in her pocket. She fishes it out and sees the caller id. She swipes right and presses the phone to her ear.

 

“Hello… Jer? Yeah I’m still inside. What? I can’t hear you. Look, I’ll call back later, kay?”

 

As soon as she ends the call, she can feel this eerie feeling that there is somebody standing behind her. Her back straightens while her shoulders tense; a shiver drips down her spine as she whirls around to meet a confused expression of herself.

 

“Hello?”

 

Her wobbly voice gets drowned in the electro mix as she heads right this time. This sticky dry feeling feels as though she is going to get knifed in the back. Just like in the movies. All Elena wants to do is to find the correct passage this time and leave the goddamn versions of herself trailing behind.

 

Elena spots a dark blur out of the corner of her eyes and something draws her to look. There, at the corner, she sees a distorted version of herself again. Next to the concave mirror, she sees herself once again but the smile is different. It almost reminds her of her.

 

Is that…?

 

Katherine would bite the edge of a smile when a funny idea strikes her as a vain attempt to keep the creeping grin at bay. The intention behind her perking lips isn’t something that could be easily ensured. Elena learnt that the hard way. Sometimes, it is just better to be insured and hope for the best.

 

Elena shakes her head, pressing two fingers to her temple. The combination of loud music and seeing endless versions of herself staring is making her head throb. She blinks and the smile reverts back to an awkward grimace. And yet, she goes with her gut feeling and follows the ghostly slight quirk of lips beckoning her over.

 

She blinks in surprise when she finally finds the exit and steps down hard on the wet crunch of grass as the chilly familiarity of the carnival spread out around her. How long has it been? It felt like she was trapped in there for hours.

 

In front of her, Katherine stands with a slight quirk, only feet away. She didn’t really look like she belonged here because of the way she dressed, so immaculately perfect like a magazine cut-out dropped onto the chaotic spread of the carnival.

 

“You sure took your time, babe. I was beginning to think you enjoyed narcissism.”

 

Her heart skips a beat at Katherine’s choice of words and then flushes a second later, having processed the underlying implication.

 

Elena furrows her brows together. “Were you…?”

 

The creeping grin widens as the older vampire takes a step closer. “Was I what?”

 

She mock punches Katherine in the shoulder as she covers her face with both hands in embarrassment. “You were there and here, I thought I was going crazy. Oh my god! Why? Why didn’t I think it could be you?!”

 

The older vampire laughs and Elena could feel her hands on hers, prying them away from her reddened face, Katherine’s thumb stroking the contours of her jaw. Elena couldn’t find it in her to look away. She stands transfixed to the spot whilst her heart races at tremendous speed.

 

Is she going to kiss me?

 

Her brain shuts down momentarily and she fights hard to keep the disappointment from settling in when Katherine releases her and takes a step backwards. Her eyes, however, hold a dark, indecipherable desire, Elena yearns to set free. She shakes herself to get the unsettling image out of her head, realizing that Katherine had started to speak again.

 

“As much as I wanted to help you, it was rather amusing to watch.”

 

“Jeez. You’re such a stalker.”

 

“I could always go but I don’t think you want me to. Which will it be, cupcake?” Katherine teases at Elena’s whine.

 

“I swear, you’ll be the death of me.”

 


 

With an arm looped snugly into Elena’s, she pulls the younger doppelganger towards the energetic disarray of the crowd, not before compelling the young man handling popcorn boxes to give them one for free. While Elena munches contently on the sweet, sticky bite-sized treats, Katherine proceeds to the balloon darts game booth.

 

She hands over a token and the operator gives her a toothy and encouraging smile. “Five darts,” he confirms.

 

Katherine tosses a wide smirk to Elena who rolled her eyes in return and gestures her with sticky fingers to go on. “People are waiting.”

 

The first dart bounces off the surface of the balloon, causing Katherine to frown. Inspecting the second dart with a slight disdain, she runs the pad of her thumb over the less-than-sharp tip. She aims again, throws, watching it soar before bouncing off another colored balloon. With a huff of frustration, she picks up the last two, and in quick succession, lobs them at the balloon with considerably more force.

 

The look on the operator’s face is slightly fearful as he hands Katherine the small stuffed dragon. Elena shoves the half-empty box towards her, sucking her fingers clean of the sticky mess before proclaiming “My turn.”

 

Katherine steps back, eyeing the younger girl’s confident posture with a raised brow. She watches Elena take the same darts and in the space of a breath, she lets all of them fly within seconds of each other, all finding their mark.

 

Elena returns with a bright grin and a medium-sized stuffed dragon clutched around her arm. She gestures at the popcorn box, to which Katherine lets out a disgruntled ‘No’ and walks away, popping a few into her mouth.

 

She could hear amusement dripping and see Elena’s brow arching as her arm latches quickly onto hers. “I used the same ones as you.”

 

“That was pure luck.”

 

“Okay. How about this one?” Elena gestures towards the next game - a giant statue of a whale with a basket of plastic fish at its tail. Sliding into the small queue, she narrows her eyes at the whale, eight feet tall and looming over them.

 

“This is far too literal,” she complains sideways to Elena. “We throw the fishes into its mouth and it comes out the other end.”

 

“Don’t knock it until you've tried it,” Elena warns, standing on tiptoes. “They seem to be having a difficult time.”

 

“That’s because they have terrible aim,” Katherine scoffs, folding her arms.

 

When their turn arrives, Elena moves to the front of the line, stooping down to pick up the first piece of plastic fish. She glances back and fixes Katherine with a challenging look.

 

The first one lands neatly into the open mouth, and without looking back at her, the younger girl reaches for the next one. Four throws later, Elena finally turns around with the medium-sized stuffed whale happily nested in her arms.

 

Arching an identical eyebrow, she wordlessly indicates to Katherine who gracefully lopes forward, testing the weight of the plastic in her hand. Five for five, all simultaneously in the air, and the fluidity of her movements stuns the gaping crowd in the line. Elena simply rolls her eyes at the spectacle when Katherine claims her prize.

 

“Show off.”

 


 

After one too many dizzying rides, Elena spots her blond friend standing in the open field, drinking from a plastic cup. Her nervousness finally vanishes after the third round of bumper cars, as she nudges Katherine with an uncharacteristically mischievous glint in her eyes. “How many drinks do you think he’s had?”

 

The older vampire turns to look at her and then pauses critically, undoubtedly raking her sharp attention to one Matt Donovan. “At least four. What are you planning, my dear cupcake?”

 

“He looks bored. Let’s go have some fun.”

 

Katherine intertwines her hand with hers and together, they weave through the crowd with ease. Elena releases the older vampire’s snug clasp to grasp Matt’s back shoulders in a split-second hold, not before ducking underneath his swinging arms as he jerks around in surprise.

 

“Hey Matt!”

 

“Hi Matty Blue!”

 

He stares at both of them, eyes wide and jaw hanging slightly ajar. He points at her and then at Katherine, alarmed with a furrowed brows. “There’s… Why is there… two of you?”

 

Elena tilts her head in response and turns to her left. Katherine takes the cue to blur behind her and vanishes out of sight with a soft chuckle meant for her ears alone. “It’s just me, Matt. Are you alright?”

 

He blinks at her, still wearing a puzzling expression. “You called me Matty Blue.”

 

Oh. Katherine called him that.

 

She smiles anyways. “Yeah I did.”

 

“You haven’t called me that in years, Elena.”

 

And she has had good reasons not to. So how did Katherine learn about the old nickname?

 

When she meets his gaze, his blue eyes drawing her closer. She'd forgotten how blue his eyes are. His eyes are blue like that warm wool sweater that you wear when the air gets chilly - comfortable, warm, and familiar. His eyes were that kind of blue.

 

Elena remembers having always been attracted to that blue, but after her parents’ death, she’d no longer seen it in the same light.

 

Stuffing her cold hands into the deep depths of her jacket, Elena breaks away first, hiding her apprehension. Where did she go?

 

“I thought you’d be hanging out with Caroline. Where is she anyways?”

 

Matt gives her a weird look. “She was just discharged from the hospital. Don’t you remember? She’s at home, resting.”

 

“What? When was this?”

 

“Last night. You were there,” he frowns at her.

 

No, I wasn’t.

 

Elena makes to voice her concern but Katherine has returned and taken control of the situation. She takes one look at them and compels Matt to forget.

 

“Why is Caroline in the hospital?” Elena demands, tugging at Katherine’s arm.

 

“She had a small accident, babe. Nothing to worry about,” Katherine promises and then tilts her head towards her friend. “Do you mind if I make him mine for a bit? All this fun is making me thirsty.”

 

Elena nods and her eyes glaze over the sight of her docile ex-boyfriend under the control of Katherine as she laps at his blood greedily. She finds the action so fascinating that her brain barely register her pushing Matt out of the way and her fingertips reaching for Katherine’s bloodied elongated fangs.

 

“Can I touch it?”

 

She moves into Katherine’s personal space, slowly, mesmerized at the congealed liquid coating her lips and dripping from its sharp gleam of protruding fangs. It feels like there’s a rippling crackle in the air. A surge of energy coursing between them. Katherine stiffens, emitting a tiny gasp to Elena’s pinprick touch, but doesn’t move away.

 

Katherine’s irises turn a shade darker as she watches Elena fight against the urge to squirm in fear. She stands her ground, instead, the scent of blood drifts in through her nostrils, a scent she is quickly becoming addicted to when it comes to Katherine. A tingling sensation distracts her and the tables turn. In this game of desire, Elena finds herself caught in Katherine’s web.

 

The worst thing is, she doesn’t want to leave.

 


 

“Jenna, you’re making this harder than it needs to be,” Alaric sighs when the blonde intercepts him, cutting him off from getting more drinks from the stall.

 

She remains undeterred, choosing to ignore his comment. “Earlier on, you mentioned that there were powerful people looking for Elena. Did you mean this girl?”

 

Jenna brandishes the photostrip at Alaric, using her phone as a flashlight for better lighting. Alaric scrunches his face at the sudden bright light and refocuses onto the picture. His expression switches to one that Jenna is suddenly becoming familiar at recognizing for what it is - full blown fear.

 

“Who is she?” she demands.

 

“Her name is Katerina Petrova. She’s the vampire doppelganger they have been originally searching for,” he surmises.

 


Unknown time, unknown location.

 

Under the dimly lit, flickering fluorescent light, he scrubs his hands against each other in a gallant attempt to be rid of the congealed liquid coating his hands. His hands shake badly as he pauses to loosen his black tie from the collar of his shirt. He stares into cracked mirror chipped at its sides, eyes wide as saucers.

 

There was no mistake.

 

His pupils turned into an eerie set of slit. His hands grips at the sides of the porcelain basin and he could feel it crack under his hold.

 

No, no. No way. That’s not - that’s impossible. I can’t be one of them.

 

He exits the public washroom and John’s waiting for him with a cleaned suit for him to change into. “It’s not your fault. He was there at the wrong place. Wrong time.”

 

Richard blurts, “There - There’s something wrong with me.”

 

He grips at John’s jacket lapels in a fit of desperation. “Am I one of them?? There’s something alive, pulsing inside of me. Under my skin. Fighting to get out. I feel this scorching heat in my body. It’s twenty-six degrees and I feel fine in a cotton shirt and pants. Tell me I’m not one of them!”

 

His best friend just stands there, open mouthed at his confession. His brain formulate no thoughts other than to register that he was shocked. He closes his mouth, then glances down at the unfortunate victim before catching Richard’s eye.

 

“I don’t know what you are,” was all he could say.

 

Chapter Text

 

Cold fingers sweep her hair away from her face and she hears his voice, telling her to wake up. The hands shake her again a little bit more urgently. Bonnie awakes to the hard, gravelly asphalt whilst Damon’s face hovers above, peering at her owlishly.

 

She stands abruptly, eyes wide and darting. The back of her head hurts and her hand flies up to rub the pain away. “What happened?”

 

“Stefan. You lost control of your magic and he knocked you out,” growls Damon, playing with a bloodied stake.

 

Bonnie drinks in the feedback of all her senses. Aside from her own noisy breath, she hears people screaming happily and her head turns towards the laughter and shrieks. The carnival. It was supposed to be their first date but Damon thought he smelt fresh blood being spilled, and so they had rushed to find Caroline completing her transition.

 

Her first supernatural best friend had turned one of her best friends into one of them. Whose side was she supposed to be on? Damon’s? Caroline’s? They’re both her friends but simultaneously; they’re vampires right? It had been vampires that caused Grams’s early passing.

 

Damon started talking again but Bonnie can’t hear his sweet words. Why must he force her to choose between him and her friends? It was always ‘ditch Blondie, hang out with me instead.’ And she did without shame or guilt. Unlike Care’s skepticism whenever magic is mentioned, Damon had been the one who had encouraged her to use and experiment with it at his place.

 

Whatever happened to her opinion?

 

He had crossed the line. He attempted to kill her best friend but somehow by some miracle, Caroline had turned instead. She slaps him hard, wide across his cheek and it irates her and she doesn’t know if it’s because her palm stings a lot more than it should, or if it was the fact that his head barely turns.

 

Frustrated at the outcome, she stomps off towards the carnival whilst ignoring Damon’s multiple attempts to check her most likely broken hand. He blurs to the front, blocking her war path. “Let me see, Bon. I can help you.”

 

“No. Go away, Damon. You’ve done enough,” she snaps and side-steps past him.

 

“Where are you going?”

 

She yells back without turning to face him. “To find Caroline and Stefan.”

 

-A-

 

Every call she makes to Caroline goes straight to voicemail. Damon; has once again, decided he has much better luck on his own and has vanished from her sight. Bonnie sighs and belatedly ponders just grabbing a megaphone and using it to get her friend’s attention instead.

 

By some miracle, she finds Matt off to the side, frowning into his cup. She heads towards him and spots two neat puncture wounds on the side of his neck.

 

“Shit! Did Caroline do this to you? Is she here?”

 

Matt turns his befuddled gaze onto her and his eyes have an odd glazed look. It is then that she realizes that he’s been compelled to forget.

 

“Caroline? She’s at home resting like I told her. Why didn’t you visit?”

 

Bonnie narrows her eyes at the demanding question. “Wait… who else did you tell?”

 

“Elena. She’s just as confused as you are, which is funny because she showed up that night”

 

“Where is she?”

 

He points vaguely at a spot in between the two thin trunks and she hurries off after thanking him. She picks up Elena’s giggles and another pair of a huskier voices accompanying it.

 

Nothing could prepare her for the spectacle that is rapidly unfolding before her eyes.

 

Bonnie stops short in front of a giggling duo of Elena Gilberts dressed in similar outfits twirling each other around and around, in their own little bubble.

 

As they pivot round on the spot, she catches a tiny quirk of a smirk from one of the girls but it’s gone instantaneously. Tentatively, she reaches out and grabs one of the girl’s by the back of the elbow and  jerks away from the contact.

 

It’s the same tingling feeling she first gotten from Stefan. This girl isn’t human. They stop giggling and then one of the Elena Gilberts turn around to face her. Disbelief and astonishment etch across her face whilst the second identical twin wearing a lot of makeup, wraps her arms around the first from behind.

 

“Erm… Bonnie, I-”

 

“Hi Bon Bon,” the second Elena Gilbert purrs at her with a smirk, before kissing the double on the cheek whilst side-eying her.

 

Just when Bonnie thinks nothing could be stranger than this, Caroline and Stefan show up out of nowhere, with a scowling Damon in tow. With one foot perpetually stuck in her mouth, Caroline blurts out. “Elena! You have a twin sister and you didn’t bother to tell us?!!”

 

Elena flushes and stutters, “It’s… uhm… complicated.”

 

Forgetting herself for the moment, Bonnie subconsciously leans towards Caroline and stage-whispers, “She’s a vampire, Care.”

 

There is an awkward pause and then Caroline lets out a squeak. “Oh my god. You’re her. At the grill.”

 

She turns to Caroline in surprise. “You knew about her too??”

 

“What? No. I thought Damon compelled Elena to hang out with him.”

 


 

The pixie-haired vampire stands in the shadows of trees, observing the small, odd gathering comprising of a witch, the doppelganger, and four vampires arguing amongst themselves. Tearing off a tiny piece of the brightly colored balls of soft sugar strands, she pops it into her mouth and relishes in the sickly sweetness that immediately dissolves on her tongue.

 

She steps closer to the other observer who was undoubtedly eavesdropping, speaking informally as she watches the chaos breaking out between the doppelgangers and the other supernatural species.

 

“Not that it’s unappreciated, but why are you still here? You could have returned to your homeland and paid your respects to the deceased, or simply start anew,” questions Elijah with a slight tilt of his head.

 

Katerina has pulled her doppelganger away from the newly transitioned vampire’s reach and has even used herself as a physical buffer. It was an unusual characteristic from her sired to do such a thing. In the centuries spent hunting for her, the stories Rose’d had heard didn’t match what she was currently witnessing.

 

Has she changed for the better or did Katerina have an ulterior motive on hand?

 

Judging from the sheer grip Katerina had on her doppelganger who keeps trying and failing to get to her blonde friend, Rose has to admit that her sired has never displayed such protectiveness to any of her other companions before.

 

Instead of replying to his question, Rose fires one of her own. “Will you be contacting Klaus regarding the existence of the doppelganger?”

 

Elijah nods. “I have to. Sooner than later. He has been getting more and more paranoid as of late.”

 

“It’s a pity the girl has to die. She’s nothing like Katerina.”

 

Elijah finally meets her eyes, his tone takes on a more somber note. “Despite my instructions to stay away, you have shown your insolence by being in contact with the doppelganger.”

 

They leave the still arguing quintet and begin walking back towards the carnival. Rose strides up to him easily, rationalising “Someone had to. After Trevor, I couldn’t leave her be. What are you going to do?”

 

“I’m going to offer her the same deal I once did offer Katerina,” Elijah replies indifferently.

 


 

“What’s a doppelganger?”

 

“I don’t really know the exact implication except that it’s a double of a living person,” Alaric shrugs helplessly to Jenna’s demands.

 

“So why do your ‘master’ and other ancient powerful warlords want from her then? Why would they chase someone for centuries?”

 

“I-I don’t know. I never stopped to question the orders.” As she begins throwing her hands up in exasperation and grumbling that she would have better luck googling for answers, he doesn’t stop to ponder on his choice of ‘what’s his life’ moments.

 

He blusters forward, with the trepidation of an alive ticking bomb ready to explode. “I know someone who might have all the answers to your questions.”

 

She turns and there’s an unsettling inquisitive glare pointing at him. “Fine. Who’s this Gandalf the wise of all supernatural stuff?”

 

“Her name is Vanessa Monroe.”

 


 

Duke University

 

Vanessa Monroe turns out to be Isobel’s overzealous research assistant which Alaric had again, neglected to mention. She’s attractive, brilliant, and incredibly resourceful. She’s a millennial, eager to prove herself and so very helpful as she lets them inside Isobel’s office rambling away about the different types of supernatural creatures.

 

Alaric directs his questions towards mystical beings, to which the brunette nods sharply and replies, “Ah yes, witches, also known as the ‘Servants of Nature,’ as they serve their first and foremost primary function to honor the design of nature and to maintain balance within the natural world. This whole section is dedicated to witchcraft although if you were going to ask about the origins of when they came about, it still remains unknown.”

 

Jenna runs a finger down one of the many embossed ancient books lying on the desk. “Actually, we want to know more about doppelgangers and their origins.”

 

She looks up and there’s a strange glint in the assistant’s green-flecked irises. It vanishes after she blinks.

 

“I’m afraid I don’t have any information regarding this aspect. A doppelganger is essentially a shadow-self created when the balance of Nature has toppled. This mystical phenomenon occurs to counter a disruption to Nature’s laws that all living things must die. As long as the original selves still exists in the plane of living, Nature eventually began to create copies of the shadow selves that could die in order to counter the balance that was once disrupted.”

 

Alaric recaptures Ms Monroe’s attention with another question that Jenna finds a glimmer of relief from the heated odd expression the assistant gives her. She chooses to listen instead.

 

“You don’t happen to know how many duplicates that have been spawned?”

 

“The origin of doppelgangers are relatively unknown. Through Isobel’s extensive research notes, we can gage that doppelgangers have existed for at least a thousand years during whichever time they have been born and died in the place of the original selves.”

 

Jenna mulls the answer over in her head and it strikes her quickly as she recalls the glimpse of what she saw from the carnival and the glaringly obvious image captured on film. “Is- Is there some sort of link between the doppelgangers?”

 

The brunette shakes her head and looks between the two of them in curiosity. “Not that I’m aware of. I’ve never met one before. Although, it’s been known or heard from multiple sources that doppelgangers usually torment the people they look like, trying to undo their lives. It’s not exactly uplifting.”

 

They thank the assistant for her time and whilst Alaric continues exchanging small pleasantries, Jenna has her attention focused on the screen of her phone where a tiny red dot is moving away from its current location. It certainly isn’t moving towards the usual direction but in an opposite direction.

 

Her forehead crinkles as she pinches at the glass screen of the map. It’s one of those new residential areas. None of Elena’s friends live there.

 

Just what is she doing there?

 


 

Mystic Falls, Residential area.

 

“So? Do you like it?”

 

Elena swallows. Her fingers glide along the back of the couch as she traipse into the hallway. To the far most left, she sees a room filled with wide windows and bookshelves lined up neatly against the wall. It looked familiar, like she’d seen it before.

 

“It looks a bit like the dreamscape you created.”

 

Katherine’s voice floats through the empty air. There's a slight tinge of satisfaction combined with impatience. Now that sounds more like her.

 

“I knew you loved that room so I sourced for the right place where we could spend time together without any interruptions. Now if you're done ogling, can you at least invite me in?”

 

Elena’s tilts a little and she frowns at Katherine’s folded arms and glare.

 

“I don’t understand.”

 

“I bought this house and put the lease under your name, cupcake.”

 

Oh.

 

She blusters and fumbles with her books, her hand reaching up to tuck her hair behind her ear. “Of course. I'm sorry. Please come in.”

 

“Finally,” Katherine smirks, slinking her way over, slow and purposeful.

 

There's something captivating about watching the vampire stride through the hallway with such a finesse of grace. Elena’s nervousness spills over and her mouth goes dry. Her hands tighten onto the books as though they form a shield.


Katherine doesn't stop her advance until she’s a few inches from Elena. Nose to nose, almost. They would be if Katherine steps out of her heels. If she would ever.



“Would you like a tour?” The tone in Katherine’s speech drops lower, sending Elena to the edge. She stares into the dark thirst of lust and hidden desires and inhales deeply.

 

Katherine reaches up to twirl a strand of Elena’s hair around her finger. Her gaze, dark as night, holds full of promise for a splendid afternoon. Just the two of them. Alone. The very idea of it sends Elena titillating closer and closer. She’s sure her face is flushed bright red, if Katherine’s infuriating and ever-growing smirk is any indication.

 

It turns her on and God, she can smell herself getting wetter by the second. A strangled noise escapes from between Elena’s lips. She sways forward a little, biting down on her lower lip.

 

“I would love one.”

-A-

 

Elena’s pretty sure she would require some exploring of her own later.

 

This must be the study. The thought runs through her head as she scans the layout of the room with half-lidded eyes.

 

She closes her eyes and throws her head back, giving Katherine plenty of access to her neck. A tongue, slick and hot, licks the side of her neck to collarbone, lapping the slow trickle of blood trickling down the indent of her skin.

 

It elicits a shiver through her whole body and she hears her name being whispered with reverence. Everything in her yearns to wrap Katherine up in her arms and pull her closer, but she can’t move.


It is Katherine who places her hands on Elena’s hips and tugs, just a little. Just enough to draw her close enough to place a light kiss on her cheek. Then another on the corner of her mouth. Soft lips replace the pinprick of bone jutting out from under; they dip down to press against her jugular.

 

Elena inhales sharply and exhales, “I believe we… should take this upstairs.”



“Couldn't have said it better, myself,” Katherine hums against the skin of her neck, sending a short burst of vibrations tingling through her senses.

 

Katherine’s hands wander up from her hips to her shoulders, and then she tugs hard at Elena’s coat.

 

She feels the air shifting around her as her coat and long-sleeved shirt get pulled down over her bare arms. Down, they float along the stairway as the older vampire speeds them up and into the bedroom. Clothes are thrown off in a hurry and land in a heap surrounding the duo.



It takes one look into Katherine’s hungry gaze. Her eyes - potent and seductive - have lost its cloudy haze from the blood. They stare into its object of desire, bright and completely focused on Elena.

 

Then the floodgates open. They crash their mouths back together with heated passion, rocking against one another.  Katherine parts her lips as Elena mirrors her. Their tongues touch and curl around, battling for control. Elena wraps her arms around Katherine’s waist, pulling her closer until they blend together as one.

 

Katherine tugs gently at Elena’s hair until her head tilts back, exposing her neck once again. She trembles under the older vampire’s ministrations while forcing herself to be still. Her body still feels weakened from Katherine’s earlier snacking in the kitchen.

 

I hope she’s not taking seconds. I don’t think I have the energy to move from the bed. It feels so comfy and the throw-over feels so soft, plush and nice.



Elena gasps into the unexpected feathery kiss, light and tender; almost un-Katherine-like, on the still-healing puncture marks on the side of her neck. She yelps at a sudden nipping on her shoulder as the open mouth kisses make their way down the front and over her breast. Her back arches in delight as Katherine’s hand trails around the tiny crook of her back, before stopping at her hips.

 

She stares in anticipated awe at the gracefulness of Katherine shimmying down her legs and settling between them. Her head cranes up and her eyes grow wide upon feeling her hot breath ghosting on to her very damp panties. There is a loud ripping noise and she catches the tail end of a promise.

 

Her body is rolled into position, knees pressed against her breasts; her head firmly resting against the pillows. Her eyes widen at the sight of Katherine slinking out of her pants, revealing a bright red strapon attached to the front of her hips. It looks long and sleek with lube. She could feel the silicone rubber phallus tip poking at her exposed clit.

 

Elena freezes in place for a second, her brain running a mile per minute. It feels too fast and she grapples for something. Anything to stall the inevitable. Nervousness gives way to a slight trepidation.

 


 

It is too late because Katherine has noticed the expression fluttering across her face. She backs away and murmurs in soothing tones, “We don’t have to do this if you’re not up to it, cupcake. We can lie on the bed and kiss and touch.”

 

She reaches out slowly and her thumb rubs slow circles against Elena’s knee. “You like this, don’t you?”

 

Elena doesn’t move or react, and a sudden wave of guilt and anger pools in the center of her gut. She quells the growing worry that she might have spooked her doppelganger too early. She moves up and lies beside Elena, one hand discreetly removing the strap on dildo and kicking it off the bed so it stays out of sight. The other hand flounders around for the throw-over fur that grabs and uses to cover Elena’s body.

 

“I’m sorry… I- I wanted it too. I was feeling good but-”

 

Katherine stops Elena with a kiss on the corner of her lips. “I’m not sorry. We can stay like this. We can order pizza in and watch Netflix.”

 

She wraps her arms around Elena’s waist as the younger girl snuggles into her. She hears the awe in her tone and resists vainly to hide a grin at Elena’s antics. “You have a Netflix subscription?”

 

She finds the remote on the bedside table and switches the wall-mounted television on, before handing Elena the remote. “Take your time. There’s no rush. I’m just going to order us a Margherita pizza.”

 

Reluctantly, she withdraws her arms from her doppelganger who whines petulantly to the loss of contact.

 

“I’ll be right back. Wouldn’t want someone to die from hunger.” Katherine teases, but not before dropping another kiss to Elena’s head. She wraps a silk robe over her body and blurs out of the room.

 

It takes a quick eighteen minutes for the pizza delivery kid to reach with a box of piping hot pizza. Katherine pays him with Damon’s money and closes the door. In half a minute, she’s back in the bedroom with the box of pizza, two plates, and napkins. After placing a slice of pizza onto Elena’s plate, she resettles to her spot behind Elena.

 

Two episodes into the Daredevil tv serial, which Katherine finds to be more grittier and more realistic than the 2003 movie version. She feels Elena’s head bobbing every so often against her breast, the top of her head brushing underneath the cleft of her chin. She checks her watch discreetly and notes that it’s only a quarter past eight at night.

 

She must have worn out her younger doppelganger in the afternoon, not to mention snacking on her in the middle of the day. It’s no wonder that Elena was halfway into dreamland.

 

“Kat…”

 

She makes a noncommittal noise and pushes the empty plate of crumbs away.

 

“Are you going to teach Caroline?”

 

“It’s not my responsibility, Elena.”

 

Elena, being Elena, as selfless and thoughtful of other people’s needs before her own, insists through a yawn. “You know Damon’s not going to help her. And Stefan hasn’t been the same. He’s been different.”

 

Katherine sighs fondly while watching Elena fight to blink away the sleepiness. “If I said I would think about it, would you sleep?”

 

Elena yawns again, and rubs her naked body against Katherine’s. “Thank you.”

 

Katherine rolls her eyes and warns, “Don’t thank me yet. I haven’t given you my answer.”

 


 

Duke University

 

Vanessa locks up the office, whilst dialing a restricted number into her phone. Her head tilts to one side to cradle the phone as she juggles a stack of papers, textbooks, and her dinner takeaway box.

 

The call clicks and a feminine voice answers.

 

“Hello?”

 

“Hey, it’s me. Your ex-husband visited me today. He brought a friend along. Jenna Sommers? I’m not sure if you know her but she’s from Mystic Falls. They kept asking me about the history of doppelgangers. You don’t think… they know about… her ?”

Chapter Text

John jolts with a start and pushes the wide-eyed Dr. Meredith Fell away, Unsteady hands fumble with the disconcerting black plastic body bag he finds himself in. He feels whole again. His shoulder has been healed. Pushing with one hand, he stumbles out of the solemn makeshift deathbed, clumsy as a baby learning to walk.

 

There is a close, zipped up body bag next to his, causing his Adam’s apple to bobble uncomfortably.

 

“How- how are you even alive? You lost a lot of blood and… and there was no pulse! I checked. I had to pry your cold dead body off Jeremy to even get to you.”

 

He turns to her slowly. “Where are the boys?”

 

Meredith side-eyes the back door in response. “Outside. I sent Jeremy to keep an eye on Tyler. What are we going to tell the inner council?”

 

Richard returns to the recently cleaned hallway, dressed in a clean sharply cut business suit. “We tell them nothing. People will panic.”

 

“The townspeople have a right to know. They live here too. There’s been too many sudden ‘wolf attacks’ recently. Someone’s going to figure it out. We can’t just sit on our behinds and wait for it to blow over!” Meredith’s fists ball and shake at their respective sides.

 

Richard counters, “We will do exactly that.”

 

“No. We’re not. The whole point of forming an inner council was to control and do whatever is necessary to protect the town from these… creatures.”

 

John moves to stand between them, hands raised up in a placating manner. “Guys…”

 

He gets ignored when both the doctor and the Mayor just wave him away. “What are you trying to say, Fell? Are you going to stage a coup to drive me out of my own town?!”

 

“Well if your… condition happens to fall on the night of a full moon, as Jeremy claims it to be, you could take a sabbatical leave. Do your thing and come back. No one else gets hurt!”

 

John interrupts, cutting the argument off. “Okay, okay. Wow. Stop! You know what? We’ll vote on it.”

 

At the worst/best, they end up with a stalemate.

 


 

14 Gallant Fox St

 

“You’re staring.” Elena snarks, burying her face further into the pillow.

 

“I’m just admiring the view.”

 

“It’s creepy. Stop it,” she huffs at Katherine’s bemused hum. Fingers thread into the loose strands of her hair and massage her scalp, causing her neck to arch in delight.

 

“Make me.” Katherine challenges as Elena squints against the still darkness outside.

 

She knows what they have, this odd connection that cannot be expressed into words, the secret intimate moments that neither of them seem to want to surrender or  push for. Somewhere deep down, she knows that she wants Katherine and it terrifies her, for wanting the older vampire. To give herself in completely. There’s a fleeting pinprick of fear existing in the back of her mind at all times, before she habitually crushes it back, keeping it locked and shut.

 

Is it the fear of being rejected that her intensity of what she feels for Katherine might not be reciprocated?

 

Or is it the fear of being misunderstood by her own friends seeing her with Katherine? What if they discover that the relationship she has for the vampire is on a much higher scale than just friendship?

 

When her friends had surrounded her in the carnival, Elena had felt terror bubbling in her chest, the rising fear, and the invisible threat of a pin waiting to burst the comforting bubble world she had created for herself and Katherine.

 

She can feel Katherine looking at her, hot breath blowing across her nose. Elena knows if she meets those dark, expressive eyes, she’s going to want to kiss her.

 

They keep ending up here. On this precipice - but can they make this work?

 

She scoots forward into Katherine’s space and kisses her, her hands working deep into Katherine’s curls. She feels a pair of hands on her waist, guiding her, pulling at her till her hips rest atop Katherine’s, effectively straddling her. The sounds of Katherine moaning into her mouth sets Elena on fire.

 

The rocking motion of hips and the pressure of Katherine’s thigh pressing into her center make her cunt clench. Their breathing is labored, accompanied with sensual touches against each other’s flesh. It’s slow and unhurried, compared to yesterday’s. Their lips brush each other, tongues rolling and sweeping together. Teeth gently nipping, fingertips pressing.

 

Will this even last?

 

Elena grinds down gently, slow circles with her hips, causing Katherine to bliss out, her nose pressed against her exposed throat. Her hands fall to Katherine’s hips, pulling at her and guiding her slow, leisurely movements. She wants more… and yet it’s the same fear that holds her at bay, out of reach from what she truly desires.

 

Her forehead rests against Katherine’s, eyes still closed as their hips move. Elena takes a deep breath, licking her lips. “I want… to- but I can’t. I’m sorry, Kat. It feels like it was just yesterday...”

 

Katherine’s labored, erratic breathing overlaps her voice breaking and a hand cups her cheek. “It’s okay, Elena. I understand. Shh… there’s no need to explain yourself. We can take it slow, cupcake.”

 

The older vampire soothes loose strands of her bed hair back in place, and places another kiss on her cheek. The kisses change along with the dissipating sexual charge in the room. Softer, lighter, soothing. They calm her doubting heart as she feels her body being guided back to the bed.

 

“C’mon, we’ve got another hour before you have to get ready for school.”

 

Elena kicks lightly against the bundle of blankets pooled in the center. “I have to go home first. I didn’t bring a change of clothes with me.”

 

Undeterred, Katherine presses a chaste kiss against Elena’s protests. “No you don’t. You can wear something of mine.”

 


 

Sherriff’s Station

 

Sunlight filters in through the window blinds and hits her straight on. Elizabeth brings her hand over her still closed eyes to shield them from the unwelcome intruder. The side of her head throbs against the hard surface, along with stiff joints creaking in protest.

 

Is it morning already?

 

Reality hits a second later, and her eyes wrench open to blink stupidly at the scattered documents on the desk. Past the documents lying strewn haphazardly, stands a tall man dressed in a neat pressed suit. The kind you only see on high priced lawyers. She could only see his side profile as his fingers jam open part of the blinds.

 

Slowly, Elizabeth leans back against her chair, one hand reaching toward her hip where her glock rests. The mysterious man doesn’t turn towards her as he speaks with a heavy-accented English tone. “Ahh, how good of you to return to the blissful ignorant world of the living, Sheriff.”

 

She steadies her hands clutching the sidearm as her only lifeline and rises from the seat. “Who are you and what do you want?”

 

He lets go of the blinds and turns to face her, shrouding the office in darkness. The man stares down at the glock and in three nonchalant steps, he sits right in front on one of the chairs, unperturbed by the loaded gun.

 

“You needn’t concern yourself with my name but I believe there is something valuable I can offer to you and your town. Shall we have a civilized conversation?”

 

Elizabeth puts her gun on the desk, with the muzzle still pointing at the young businessman. It’s odd; she can’t place the missing puzzle in the picture. His clean shaven face portrays an utterly serious expression. He has short brown hair and unreadable brown eyes.

 

“And what is it you’re offering?”

 


 

Mystic Falls High School

 

In hindsight, she should have known that this is the biggest mistake on her part.

 

Allowing Katherine to dress her.

 

She’s fine with the change of hairstyle, however wearing this dangerous pair of four-inch suede high heel ankle booties with a side zipper, makes her feel as if she is teetering over the edge of a sharp, pointed cliff.  

 

“People walk differently in high heels. Your body sways to a different kind of tempo.” Katherine tells her, easily holding half of her weight as she sways violently across the floor.

 

“I can’t even stand in these, much less walk in them. Look, I’ll take the top and leggings, but I’m wearing my own converse.”

 

The older vampire just bats her hands away. “Nonsense. Your sneakers don’t match the color scheme I’ve got here. C’mon, you’re going to be late.”

 

She barely makes it halfway down the hall before she feels the spotlight growing larger and larger. She gets second looks from her classmates and even the underclassmen stare at the way her hips move. A shrill whistle catches her attention and her head turns to see a smirking Tyler, slouching by the lockers with an equally jealous classmate whom she has apparently rendered invisible.

 

“Very sexy, Elena. I didn’t think you had it in you.”

 

She rolls her eyes and continues her torturous trek down the corridor. A hand yanks her aside and she is momentarily thrown by the sudden discourse. The classroom door shuts behind her and then a tall lanky figure greets her.

 

“Jer…”

 

“What the hell are you doing here?! Where’s Elena?”

 

She shoves him away and runs her hand through her new locks. “I am Elena, Jer.”

 

He just gives her a once-over and nods skeptically. “Uh-huh. You gotta do better than that. My sister would never come to school dressed like…” His hand gestures obscenely at her attire, causing Elena to scoff.

 

Since when was he so mouthy?

 

“Your sister stayed over-” Her lips refuse to spit forth Katherine’s name, not with the damn compulsion trying to choke her while she is doing her damnest to stand upright without falling over. A growl escapes partially through her teeth. “-and didn’t bring a fresh pair of clothes. Let’s not forget you once hid your stash of weed next to the bag of plant fertilizer, which you almost mistook-”

 

His cheeks flush bright red. “This doesn’t mean anything. Elena must have told you.”

 

He brushes rudely past her and having had enough, she yanks him back. “Seriously, Jer. Snap out of it. I’m your sister!”

 

He opens his mouth to protest and she snaps, “Whatever. Come talk to me when you’re done acting like an asshat.”

 

Elena discreetly peeks around the classroom door and spots Mr. Saltzman chatting with a very new ,very unfamiliar person. They briefly glance at her and she freezes mid step, but she notices two very different reactions from both of them.

 

Is it the mysterious empowering magic that comes with the delicate art of balancing in these stilts that somehow has Mr. Saltzman blanching at her and hurrying away, whilst this newcomer looks on with curiosity.

 


 

Sherriff’s Station

 

“Look the other way? I can’t just do that. It- It’s treason. We don’t make deals with vampires. That’s the one cardinal rule we can’t bend or break.” Elizabeth runs through her short blonde mess.

 

“Not even for your daughter, Sheriff?” The man crosses his leg and quirks a barely-there smile.

 

It sets her spine tingling and her hands itch for the smooth cold metal handle, to wrap around the safety of the revolver and fire without a second’s worth of doubt. She had already erased all cctv footage of Caroline and herself entering and exiting the morgue.   How did he know?

 

But her team was still on the edge; they’re dealing with the loss of two members, Wilson and Briars. No one knows what happened to Briars, only that he had been discovered by a morning jogger on his usual route through the forest. A fatal gunshot wound to his heart. No noticeable vampire attack wounds found. He was one of the patrol guards on duty during the carnival event. Three nights after Damon Salvatore escaped or was rescued.

 

“If- If I say yes…” Elizabeth hisses through teeth and glances at her glass panel door. Some of the members have arrived and started on their daily morning duty rituals.

 

“All members of this station begin their day anew from today onwards. Memories of any recent vampire hunts; including the discovery of your daughter’s new status quo, will be wiped clean. It will be as normal as any day in Mystic Falls.”

 

She leans forward. “And you will protect this town from them?”

 

The man steeples his fingers together and crooks a curved upwards lift in his lips. “Well, as long as there are no overly inquisitive humans poking their noses where they don’t belong.”

 

He stands, half bows, and lifts his hand towards her. She follows suit, feeling more awkward than ever.

 

“Is there any contract to sign our agreement?”

 

Can I trust you?

 

The man laughs as if she’s the entertainment. “I’m a man of my word, Sheriff Forbes. I make a deal; I keep a deal.”

 

She watches him turn the doorknob to exit and stares at the brass. It can’t hurt to check if this man for any shady background details. Keeping one eye on the open door, Elizabeth watches him interact with her team, munching on offered donuts and accepting coffee. Her other hand moves to the drawer where her supplies are kept. She pulls out a small jar of black powder and some clear adhesive tape, and waits.

 


 

Mystic Falls High School

 

“What’s up with Bonnie?”

 

Matt gestures with his pizza to his right and Elena follows the floppy pointed crusted tip. Her best friend visibly stiffens upon seeing her, grimaces, and turns swiftly to another crowded lunch table where she sits with another bunch of her classmates.

 

She continues chewing deliberately into her sandwich. She has a theory - her sudden drastic makeover is the reason why Bonnie is purposely avoiding her and making sidelong glances when she thinks Elena isn’t noticing, or why her own brother frowns and squints like he’s trying to differentiate between the old Elena and the new mini Katherine-ness.

 

It’s times like these when she really appreciates Caroline’s downright too blinding brilliant smile and her ‘one-paragraph-long-rambles’ about the latest gossip or how awesome awesome town events planning skills are, etcetera. Except this time, her tone and pitch sounds different.

 

She’s faking it. Elena realizes a minute later.

 

Caroline plops down opposite of her and uses that high-pitched, chirpy tone reserved when ‘my day sucks but I’m pretending to be alright’ mode.

 

“Matt!! You would never guess who’s passing by in town this week, and I’ve got tickets-”

 

She switches topics abruptly and blinks, taken back for a moment. Her expression changes. She frowns, and then smiles hesitatingly at Elena.

 

“Elena? What’s with the get-up? You look very… Katherine .”

 

The last bit is mouthed and Elena feels relief flooding back into her system.

 

Finally.

 

Though she is curious to know how Caroline manages to tell her apart, but she holds herself back because she knows she can’t ask her. Yet. Not when Matt is still within hearing range and still frowning at Bonnie’s odd behavior.

 

Matt interrupts with a mouthful of pizza. “Wah zer uh suhhing abut fuhkit?”

 

“What?”

 

His ears turn pink and he swallows with a large gulp of gatorade. “Sorry. What were you saying about tickets?”

 

“Oh. It’s Jason Mraz! He’s passing through and he’s doing an impromptu live show this week. I’ve managed to acquire a pair. We can go tonight!”

 

“Really? That’s sweet. I’ll pick you up at your place around seven.” Matt grins.

 

“Or maybe- maybe I could meet you there instead? I’ll text you the address later.” There’s an odd hesitant hitch filtering in. Caroline is anything but timid.

 

Elena tilts her slightly head and probes silently but Caroline pretends not to see.

 

The lunch bell rings a moment later, and Elena doesn’t waste any time looping her arm around Caroline’s, subtly tugging her away from the boys.

 

“What was that about? What’s wrong?”

 

Caroline hums distractingly and glances around the hallway. “Oh, oh no. Did she already tell them?”

 

Her brows furrow and she turns behind to see what got her blonde friend so frightened. Ignoring Caroline’s hissed protests and her arm getting tugged more and more until they’re well-blended in the moving crowd, Elena manages to catch a glimpse of a couple of plainclothes policemen loitering near the school office entrance.

 

Elena gives her best friend the ‘look’. “Tell who what, Care?”

 

“My mom knows I’m a vampire after I woke up in the morgue, and she was there to say goodbye last night. Long story short, Damon threw me under a bus. So yeah, now she and her people know.”

 

Elena leans in with an awkward sideways hug. “Do you need a place to stay?”

 

Caroline shakes her head. “Thanks for the offer, Elena but Stefan offered me one of the guest rooms at the boarding house.”

 

You’re not safe there! He’s… changed. She doesn’t get a chance to say it before Caroline pulls her hand away and nods ahead of the classroom. “Alright, this is my stop. I’ll talk to you later, ‘Lena!”

 

The crowd has trickled down to a mere few, still hurrying along to their next class. She has a free period which she plans to head down to the library to catch up on some revision. She turns around the corner and knocks hard into a solid wall.

 

“Oh I’m so, so sorry. Are you okay?”

 

Not a wall.

 

The woman, albeit shorter than her with dark brown hair, has immediately begun stacking the strewn books and scooping them up in a graceful swoop, before awkwardly handing it back to Elena.  

 

“Today’s my first day of teaching and I can’t remember which side of the wing this class is at.”

 

The woman’s eyes were icy blue and Elena feels herself being drawn in. A pleasant haze surrounds her as the same woman, she’d seen hanging around with Mr. Saltzman earlier, touches her arm as a form of comfort.

 

She finds herself saying, “Yeah, it’s no problem. I can show you.”

 

The last thing she remembers is a warm breath brushing against her earlobe, accompanied by an alluring voice. “You and I are going to have so much fun together.”

Chapter Text

Elena sashays down the quiet school hallway as she is being led into an empty office. The door clicks shut and she is momentarily blinded in the dark as the blinds are yanked down. The sound of the woman’s voice moves her like a puppet on strings.

 

She sits in the middle of the couch at a whispered command, and raises her hips. A ruffling of fabrics is removed and Elena looks down at the hand on her exposed thigh. The hands move to her knees and push them apart until the woman settles down between them.

 

“Elena Gilbert. I have always wondered what Katherine Pierce was like in person. But this is even better. I get to meet her doppelganger in the flesh. Oh how I wonder, if I taste you now. Would you taste the same as she does? I imagine her blood would be more exquisite than yours. Like aged wine. Yours, I presume, would taste like sweet dessert wine.”

 

She hears the words but the meaning eludes her. Somewhere, a chatter of voices filters through muffled slits under the office door and the soft pattering of footsteps. She tries to turn her head but her brain won’t comply to the simple order.

 

“I suppose we better get started. I only have forty-five minutes of playtime before you head off to your next class.”

 

When the woman speaks, Elena feels compelled to follow. “Close your eyes, little doppelganger, and recall the last time you had an unimaginably wild desire to play dirty in a public setting.”

 

###

Darkness-scents-sounds-no air…

 

She is alone and suspended in mid-air, held up by some sort of contraption. She can hear but cannot see, yet she doesn’t feel afraid.

 

The air is heavy with a combination of smoke, sweat, and sex assaulting her senses yet the strong essence of coconut body butter wafting from her exposed flesh calms her.

 

She only knows one person who loves to coat its creamy moisturizer into her flesh so liberally.

 

Alaric.

###

 

Fingers spread out like a starfish and rake down on the expanse of her torso, drawing a hitched gasp from Elena. The brown bob of a head brushes against her collarbone as its sharp teeth graze against her pert nipples.

 

Warm lips suck at the tiny protruding globe and Elena throws her head back against the couch, lost in the constant onslaught of sensory input.

 

“Shift your hips further towards the end of the seat. Good girl.”

 

###

 

He draws two fingers through her slit, separating the folds of her flesh. Moisture drips and glistens between her labia.

 

A thick digit slips inside her, working, pumping her, encouraging her body to provide more lubrication. Elena’s breath grows short and shallow. Every now and then, she keens at the exhale.

 

Another digit is pushed inside.

 

Tight. Hot. Slick.

 

Her body flails and bucks helplessly.

 

A tortured wail escapes and instantly, a rough hand covers her mouth.

 

###

 

“Is the little doppelganger turned on? You love this. Look at how little you resist me. How much you want to be mine.”

 

The woman’s head leans further in and a pink tongue darts out and swipes a long lick from the center of Elena’s sex to the cliteral hood.

 

“You taste so fine. Like sweet nectar.”

 

The tongue twirls and pokes unkindly at the clit; lips quirking as Elena’s body convulses violently. A chuckle tears out at the sight of Elena’s hips moving valiantly in a helpless upwards thrust.

 

“Does the little doppelganger want to cum?”

 

Elena nods and continues to pump her hips against the invisible restraints.

 

“Please… Please…”

 

###

 

Her hips jerk back every time her body registers a sharp sting resounding between her legs.

 

She hisses as his hand spreads her folds open.

 

SLAP.

 

“I’ll try harder…. I’m sorry.”

 

###

 

“You’ll be my toy, to be used whenever I like. Say it.”

 

Elena nods, her eyes wide and unfocused. “I’m your toy. I’m yours to do as you please.”

 

The woman laughs. “You’ll do anything to cum, won’t you, my little pet? Your body is mine. Oh, you lovely thing. You’re too easy. What would the Katherine Pierce say when she discovers her human doppelganger is being fucked by her sire’s former pet.”

 

Electric blue eyes stare into hers while a thumb traces the contour of Elena’s cheek before cupping her jaw.

 

“Remember. Not a word.”

 

The woman unlocks the door and leaves it open. “You might want to dress yourself a little faster, pet. The staff is returning from lunch.”

 


 

 

Gilbert Residence

 

“Where did you get this?”

 

“You first. Tell me you didn’t get into another fight. John, tell me… Buckets, what happened to your eye?”

 

He flinches as her fingers brush against the side of his temple.

 

“The ring, Jens,” John implores and frowns at the unsightly crest.

 

I gave it to Isobel. Why do you have it?

 

“Alaric gave it to me.” Jenna wiggles her hand out of his grasp and checks him over. “Let me get the kit. Hold on.”

 

He follows her downstairs. “Saltzman?!”

 

John stares at her with his good eye as she rummages through the kitchen cabinets. “Why would he…”

 

It hits him right in the chest just as he finds himself pushed into a chair and a cold, damp cloth presses against the bruise. A pair of concerned eyes focuses onto him, wiping bits of congealed blood from his face.

 

Her answer washes over him, going through one ear and out the other in a second. He barely hears her excuses; his heart beats louder in his ears and her face swims in his vision.

 

**

 

Straight black hair flowed down her back, tied up with a single hair scrunchie. Pale skin with a sweet, enigmatic smile, he remembered so clearly. They sat under a tree, red autumn leaves floating around them.

 

“Are you sure you want to meet him? He can be an unpredictable asshole.”

 

She laughed so sweetly and covered his hands with hers, leaning in for a kiss. “I can handle him, John. It’s just for research purposes. My thesis could use all the help it can get.”

 

He kissed her and the world fell away. It was slow and soft, comforting in ways that words would never be. His hand rested below her ear, his thumb caressing her cheek as their breaths mingled.

 

“I have just the thing.”

 

He pulled out a square box and she mock squealed in delight. “Darling, is that what I think it is?!”

 

“It’s a magical ring, designed to protect you from any supernatural monsters. The ones you won’t stop yapping about.”

 

She had huffed at him but flexed her fingers straight, scrutinizing the ring. “I don’t feel anything different, Johnathan Gilbert.” She punched him in the shoulder. “You’re such an unromantic man. I thought you were going to propose to me.”

 

**

 

The soft scratching of the chair legs being pushed back into its original place, jerks John back to reality. The old memory of his first love disappears into a ghostly wisp. The damning ring rests alone on the table, inches away from his hand.

 

He catches Jenna rambling, “I know I’m just the outsider and that ring looks exactly like yours. Grayson mentioned the Gilbert ring having some magical powers but he could never figure out how it works.”

 

John stares at it one last time and then picks it up, scraping the chair backwards as he did so. He holds it out towards her, interrupting her altogether.

 

“Keep it, Sommers. You’ve more than earned this.”

 


 

 

Unknown location

 

Matt checks his phone for the sixth time in four minutes. It’s not like her to be late. He hears excited screams and music coming through the closed doors, and a pair of burly bodyguards standing watch.

 

Dressed in a dark jacket and jeans, he scans the road behind him but he fails to spot her car amongst the rest of the vehicles whizzing past.

 

Maybe she stood you up, the devil on his shoulder pipes up into his ear. But Caroline had looked so cheery after the accident, Matt deduces.

 

The angel counters calmly on his other shoulder, she’s probably running late. You did show up five minutes early.

 

He had wanted to be punctual because; it’s Caroline. She carries her daily planner everywhere she goes, hidden in that enormous handbag she lugs around, along with every little necessity she claims she needs. Hell, she even has a small portable umbrella in there despite having clear skies.

 

Even Elena and Bonnie don’t carry that much stuff. Their handbags are smaller and more compact. But that’s Caroline; always prepared for every little disaster with backup plans to rival the original ones.

 

Matt checks his phone again. No message.

 

It was almost eight, the time of their meeting. He shoves his hands into his pockets and paces down, painfully aware of the of the watchful gazes pointed his way.

 

The screams from inside sounds like they’ve gone up two octaves or so. They must be having a hell of a time. Then came the loud banging against the doors. He stops pacing and turns his head.

 

That’s... weird. Even the security guards seem to think so too.

 

The wide doors burst open to reveal throngs of people rushing out like a stampede of a wild horde. Matt quickly darts aside to avoid being trampled on. The guards, however, weren’t so lucky. One gets whacked by the swinging doors and goes down immediately. The other guard gets jostled between the screaming, panicking girls clutching tightly at their necks.

 

What… is this… madness?

 

Curiosity burns brightly as he stupidly stumbles toward the source.

 

“Help… me… please.”

 

One of the girls’ stagger forwards to him - wide-eyed with brown locks flowing, reminding him briefly of Elena - has her fingers latch onto the lapels of his jacket. Her hands were smeared in the deepest hue of red.

 

Paint? Dye? What were they doing inside?!

 

He reacts the moment her body goes rigid and drops to the ground. He catches the girl’s limp form and his hand cradles the back of her head to find sticky goo seeping onto his palm. His hand stains with blood.

 

A deep throaty cackle catches his attention and his head whips up to find the raving lunatic responsible on the stage to be none other than Stefan Salvatore. His mouth and neck has blood smeared all over.

 

Next to him, off toward the side, he finds his date cradling the singer as she presses her wrist against the singer’s lips. Her lips and chin were coated in red too.

 

“What the fuck!?”

 

Her blue eyes grow impossibly round. “M-Matt. I- This isn’t- what it looks like.”

 

He can’t remember falling on his bum, scrambling away from the girl who wouldn’t stop staring at him.

 

The monster disguised as their friend scoffs and grins into the microphone. “Oh bullshit. This is exactly what it looks like. Wonderful Matt. So humble and loyal. I could hear her talk about you all day, with that dreamy, breathless voice.” He lifts a finger and points at her. “Did Caroline ever tell you she’s like me?”

 

“No,” replies Matt, scrambling backwards and towards the doors.

 

Nononono.

 

He makes a dash for the doors and Caroline appears out of nowhere, in front of him.

 

How the fuck did she do that?

 

He can still hear Stefan’s deep throaty laughter from behind. “I told her you couldn’t love a monster. It seems like I was right again.”

Chapter Text

???

 

His world spins in a horizontal vertigo as his frantic scrambling hits another long corridor. His heart leaps at a glimmer of hope as he spots the green luminous exit sign.

 

That hope shatters into jagged pieces.

 

He doesn't quite fathom, let alone process, how Caroline suddenly pops out of thin air, blocking him.

 

“I can’t let you leave.”

 

Matt pleads, eyes around darting for an exit. “Yes, you can.”

 

Hysteria settles at the bottom of his gut and bubbles up into desperation. All those people - she’s a monster. She did it, didn’t she?

 

“I-I… won’t tell. It’s not like anyone will believe me anyways.”

 

Caroline cracks a sad smile and says, “My mum would. If you tell her about me, she would believe you. But I need-”

 

She takes a step forward and stops, head shaking at his as he inches away. Her blue eyes light up brightly and for a second, Matt wonders if it’s the flickering lights are tricking him, or his own imagination taking a turn down the rabbit hole.

 

“... I need you to know I didn’t kill all those people. It wasn’t me.”

 

“There’s blood on your lips, Caroline,” Matt interrupts, frowning at his girlfriend who flinches.

 

The lights flicker again, this time more violently than before. Her eyes roll back and she begins a slow descent to the ground, screaming and clutching her head in pain. Despite the rushing tsunami of fear, Matt finds himself darting forward to catch her. He just never expected to be the one following her shout with his own.

 

Extreme pain blossoms in his right hand as though it has been smashed between hard concrete and a rock. They both fall to the ground, one hand trapped under her as he lands; albeit awkwardly on top of her.

 

The dark veins bulging on her face begin to fade and her screams soften until she lies motionless on the cold, unforgiving floor.

 

“Caroline? Caroline, wake up!”

 

Time rolls to a stop and he can’t - doesn’t know what to do first. Caroline usually knows what to do next. She’s always the one with a plan. They’ve teased her mercilessly, about a thousand times over, and sweet Caroline, only rolls her eyes and retorts back that the next time they need her help, she wouldn’t be there.

 

He should call for help but… who to ask? Not the hospital. Didn’t she say her mum knows? His fat fingers stab at the phone screen and his only good hand holds the gadget to his ear. It rings endlessly down the empty hallway and he dearly hopes (prays) vehemently that the monster is busy on a rampage instead of hunting them down.

 

He can’t carry her because she weighs like two full bags of pebbles. And even if he could, he doesn’t know where to go. Does Elena know? What about Bonnie? Don’t they tell each other everything?!

 

He punches at the screen and swipes right at Bennett. He places the phone down on the ground and hits the speaker button, while cradling his bad hand to his chest.

 

“Bonnie’s phone speaking.”

 

Matt frowns at the deep velvety timber and plows through. “I need to speak with Bonnie now.”

 

“Uh-nuh. She’s indisposed. Talk to her later.”

 

“It’s Caroline,” Matt interrupts and then he hears some rustling noises and Bonnie’s indignant voice in the background. “She’s… sick.”

 

“Call a doctor.” His fingernails dig deep into his palms in a pitiless attempt to growl into the phone at Salvatore’s utter lack of concern.

 

“I know, I know she’s like you. I don’t know how she turned or what you did to her. It’s not- That’s not why I called. She’s- I- Fuck it!” Matt hisses and it infuriates him that he can’t express himself coherently into expressive words for help that may or may not be offered.

 

Salvatore, for once, is silent. On the other end, more static comes out of the speaker until… Bonnie’s voice - confused yet strong - jolts him awake.

 

“What happened?! Where are you?”

 

Barely managing to find his voice, he croaks out. “At Mraz’s concert. Caroline’s- supposed to meet me at the entrance but- Stefan showed up. He killed-” dozens and dozens.

Matt abruptly stops his ramblings and turns his head down toward the flickering lights and long empty corridor. The building should be empty but echoing down the concrete walls are footsteps. He shoves the phone down into his jacket’s pocket, ignoring Bonnie’s muffled voices. His hands desperately tug Caroline’s unconscious, impossibly heavy body towards the stairwell exit.

 

Her body moves barely an inch at each attempt and each footstep rings out like a church bell on a quiet Sunday morning, rudely awakening the Saturday night revelers. His strength wanes with each futile attempt and sweat beads down the side of his head.

 

He falls to his knees, blinking at his vision tunnels into tiny dark holes. His stomach lurches as though his innards are being replaced by a vacuum dark hole. From around the corner walks an odd pair - the new myopic librarian and a gangly African American teenager chanting in some weird language.

 

It’s not Latin. He has spent years serving the church as an altar boy. Also, isn’t the pixie-haired librarian supposed to be wearing thick framed glasses?

 

As they grow closer, her vibrant green eyes glow as the chanting wraps around his head, and then; nausea creeps from his abdomen to his head.

 

The world grows black.



Gilbert Residence

 

Jenna shuffles out of her bedroom and down the padded stairs in the middle of the night. She slinks into the darkness, weaving her way around the furniture until her hip brushes against the countertop ledge.

 

Her hands grab her mug out of the top cabinet and feet moves toward the tap. She fills it to the brim and then gulps the water greedily down. A sudden cold draft envelops Jenna and she freezes, eyes narrowing upon as she hears the sudden creak coming from the front door.

 

She moves silently like a panther, well-practiced in dodging certain squeaky floorboards and looks up at the empty staircase.

 

There is no one there but the guardian hears that all-too-familiar whoosh and the soft laughter that accompanies.

 

It’s Elena’s and the noises of objects falling to the carpeted floor grow louder as Jenna creeps up the stairs, towards her niece’s ajar bedroom door. She hears another voice and it’s unfamiliar in a peculiar way; like she’s heard it before but can’t quite pin it to the correct face.

 

She’s intruding but she can’t help it when she hears odd noises like rustling and bumping into things because it sounds so very suspicious. And through the open inch of the ajar door, Jenna hears the unfamiliar voice send a chilling desire down her back and between her legs, and the quiet moan that follows.

 

“Do you want more, pet?”

 

Her cheeks pink and her jaw drops. Because that’s- that’s not-

 

Her brain shuts down and Jenna backs away because- there are some things she really doesn’t need to know. Elena’s muffled gasps and quiet moaning send her fleeing to her confines of the bedroom and she shuts the door as quietly as possible.

 

She knows it was only a few days ago that she had gone and confronted Elena’s immortal twin about their relationship. But damn, the vampire moves fast.

 

Elena’s sleeping with Katherine. They’re not twins, not even related by blood, but still.

 

It’s unnerving.




Chapter Text

 

Gilbert Residence

 

She feels like she’s waking up from a dream, shrouded by a thick, dark smog. Everything is blurry. Her brain is foggy and strange, foreign memories return from the carousel of rewind. She remembers school, moving through packed hallways, talking to her friends, and entering a dark office near the teacher’s lounge. Then nothing.

 

Strange noises come up next to her. It is then her senses awaken in dizzying realization; she’s in her own room. The thing above her is the ceiling. Underneath her body is the duvet and mattress. But how did she end up here without remembering anything else prior to it? If the memories are still in her head, there are no bread crumb trails to follow.

 

Slowly, Elena digs her elbows into the duvet and props herself up. Her clothes are lying discarded on the floor and she should be freaking out now, but the feelings of panic do not come. She feels strangely fine… and someone’s fingers trace the contours of her nether regions. Arousal and pleasure flood her senses, but the ringing in her ears don’t stop.

 

It’s dark in her room with just a bit of moonlight reflecting through the mirror. Her brow furrows at the other person prodding her with fingers, pushing and petting. Her hair looks wavy but not in curly tresses. A mass of dark hair pops up and she is greeted by a pair of icy blues. “Am I boring you, pet?”

 

It’s the same woman Elena nearly crashed into when she turned the corner a little too quickly. What is she doing here in her room?! Why are they both naked? How did she- they get here- in this situation?!

 

It scares her enough to kick start her brain. Elena kicks out and the woman who lets out a loud ‘oof’. She scrambles off the bed and rushes for the door. Fingers close in around the knob before she is flung back against the wall. The woman vampire presses in, right into her space. Her heart thumps loudly in the silence.

 

“I’ll scream,” Elena whispers.

 

“You will do no such thing, pet.” The vampire reaches out to tuck a stray strand back from her face.

 

“I’m not your pet,” Elena hisses. “You don’t own me.”

 

The vampire clicks her tongue. “But Katherine does, doesn’t she?”

Elena opens her mouth to protest but no words spill forth. Of course, Katherine’s compulsion stopped her from saying anything about their relationship. She’d been compelled to keep them a secret, even when that secret ceases to be a secret.

 

She glares and the vampire fakes a yawn. “I’ll just have to re-compel you, pet.”

 

She finds herself dragged back onto the bed, the vampire straddling her hip. She puts up one hell of a fight but thin fingers squeeze her jaw, forcing her to meet a cold blue eye stare. The smog resettles around her being and she hears herself moan as teeth nip her nipple.

 

She lets out a hitched gasp and a soft ‘oh’ when cruel fingernails pinch her clit. The woman bites her earlobe and whispers, a wicked grin etching wide on her face.

 

“Behave, pet and reward will come swiftly.”


 

 

On the far edge of town, in an unknown location...

 

“Come to put me back in the cage?”

 

The wayward Ripper sneers and lunges forward, however his movements have been telegraphed.

 

“I won’t go back there.”

 

Swiftly, Elijah sidesteps and neatly dodges the curled fist, followed by the Ripper’s makeshift weapon - a broken end of the floorboard torn from the bloodied stage platform. He snaps the wayward vampire’s dominant wrist clean in one smooth motion, earning a sharp crack and pained yell.

 

Unperturbed, Elijah chucks the offending weapon over his shoulder and claps a firm hand onto Ripper’s shoulder. “I didn’t set free your chaotic other half, just so you can go on a killing rampage.”

 

Ripper throws him the most amused smirk in reply and mockingly gestures in apology. “I’m sorry. Were you expecting me to talk sense into my weaker rational side and have an internal, silent debate? Talking was never my strong point.”

 

“Then I see no other reason left but to return,” replies Elijah as he pulls out a pocket watch.

 

“I’m glad you see my point. Now if you excuse me, I’ve got-”

 

Another snap and Ripper drops to his feet, motionless. Elijah shuts the cover, dulling the continuous ticking of the clock, and looks down at the ground. “However, I’m afraid this town is a bit unsuitable for such a ravenous bloodthirsty… wild creature.”

 

He lifts the unconscious young Ripper in a fireman’s carry-like grip and begins heading toward the back exit. The stairwell door swings open and he nods at his travelling companions whose arms are both laden with a recently turned vampire and a knocked-out waiter.

 

“Time to go. Luka, would you be so kind to lift the boundary spell? We don’t need to gain any more unnecessary attention.”


 

 

Mystic Falls High School Entrance

 

The road lay black with rain under the still shining streetlamps while a feeble morning sun peeks from behind a grey cloud. Rain falls in large, lazy drops and the yellow school buses arrive in groups, headlamps and wipers on. They each come to a stop, patiently waiting for students to descend from their doors with leaden feet. Friends greet each other with a hug or a playful punch while newcomers stand looking scared. The seniors stand, tall and proud, confidence born of experience.

 

Katherine observes the high schoolers with a pinch of interest, whilst on the lookout for her own doppelganger. Elena hasn’t been responding to any of her calls or texts. It’s highly unusual and Katherine finds herself at a loss at the sudden change. And then to add to the confusion, the guardian has left her with an encrypted message, leaving her perplexed.

 

It says: “Tie a scarf on the door next time. Or better yet, lock it.”

 

She frowns at the sight of a familiar blond wearing a cast on his arm walking towards the school’s entrance doors, while raising his good arm and settling for a fist bump with the Lockwood kid. She’s no telepath but she bets she can hear the screaming thoughts from the other blonde. The look on her face, down to her hands twisting and curling anxiously, say it all. Guilty as charged.

 

Katherine rolls her eyes, considers pulling up her brake, and driving away. But she hasn’t seen Elena yet or her car for that matter. There’s still time. The bell rings and the brunette curses. What if Elena had arrived early or had Jenna dropped them off instead?

 

Well, she would never know now. Students amble into the building, leaving a few still hanging by the benches, especially the blonde who just stares at the entrance, unmoving.

 

Against her better judgment, Katherine mutters under the breath, “For fuck’s sake, Forbes. If you’re just going to stand there, you might as well join me on a trip… before I change my mind.”

Chapter Text

 

Everything is blurry. Slowly and reluctantly, Elena blinks awake to the white ceiling of her bedroom. Streaks of sunlight penetrate the window, blinding her for a moment as she sits up and rubs her knuckles onto her eyes. Arms stretch above her head, she yawns and drags her feet off the bed. She stares curiously at a vast sheet of white smoke creeping out from under her bed and spreading throughout her room.

 

She stands and hears a pair of muffled voices coming from beside her. She turns to find nothing but white wisps of smoke enveloping her like a blanket. She tilts her head curiously and holds out her hand in front of her. The wisps follow her every hand movement acting like some kind of shield. Every attempt to reach out for this strange wisp only resulted in it eluding her grasp.

 

Her head feels heavy and her feet takes her to her wardrobe. Her arms move on their own accord. Elena stares into the mirror reflection at her nakedness. Reddened, erect nipples and scattered bite marks on the side of her neck, under her left breast, and another prominent mark on her right hipbone.

 

Was Katherine here last night? She can’t quite recall the vampire sleeping over. Maybe she did. How else could the marks appear all over her body? The wisps linger around her being, looming in their whitened haze like images from some half-forgotten dream.

 

She gets dressed as quickly as she can, choosing a fleece turtleneck and jeans. The smoke squeezes through the tiny horizontal crack between her bedroom door and carpeted floor. She follows it, not quite sure what is going on. It leads her down the stairs and towards the front door. The wisp has thickened into a vast blanket of white, swooping in and skirting around the houses and trees, like a giant eraser moving indiscriminately to eradicate what was once there turning it into something that was not. Elena stands in a pocket of smoke, but it only seems like a pocket to her.

 

It clears the path to a sky-blue Ford Sedan and the passenger car door swings open on its accord. Elena startles and ducks her head down, peeking inside. In the driver’s seat sits a shrouded person wearing a white veil obscuring her face. All Elena knows for sure is that it’s a woman. The woman beckons and Elena settles down, hand pulling the car door shut.

 

She leans forward a little, meeting the woman in the middle. Lips open and a tongue darts out to swipe at her bottom lip. Elena leans back, catching her breath, and turns her attention to the moving scenery.

 

By the time, the vehicle rolls up to a stop in the carpark. Thick tendrils of wisps have thickened and surrounded the school building and all the trees around her. She can’t call it wisp-like, for they have evolved into white smog. It swallows every distant object engulfing everything in white nothingness. It creeps around the oblivious students chattering by the buses, silent footsteps tiptoe around the wooden benches wafting towards the entrance doors. Elena stands in the still silence of the carpark, her only comfort being the cold white blanket curving around her shoulders and grabbing at the bottom of her jeans legs.

 

They push her down the hallways, pressure building in her lower back, leading her past partially empty classrooms one after the next, until she reaches the infirmary. Confusion rises when Nurse Beckett, a plump woman with reddish curly hair beckons her to the furthest corner of the room with a kind smile and a glassy look.

 

What is she doing here? She has class with- Her mind draws a blank and her head turns to find that the smog blocking the door was virtually filling the room with its smothering presence.

 

“Up on the bed. Quickly now. Wouldn’t want your friends wondering where you’ve run off to and coming here to find you,” the nurse offhandedly comments, tugging at her winter coat. “We don’t need this.”

 

Who’s we? It’s just them... and the smog.

 

Elena sits on the edge of the bed, frowning at the coat draped carelessly on the back of the chair. The nurse moves closer and goes for the bottom of her turtleneck as though to lift it up without her consent. She protests, “What are you doing? I-I… not sick. Shouldn’t be… here.”

 

The nurse gives her that withering look. “Nonsense,” she says. “Didn’t she tell you? You have a morning appointment with me.” At Elena’s blank expression, the nurse gestures away. “No matter, it will just be a quick inspection. Arms up.”

 

She blinks confused as her arms respond to the quick instruction and marvels in horrid fascination when her limbs move and her body shifts to accommodate the next set of instructions until Elena finds herself on her hands and knees in nothing but her birthday suit. Her clothes are haphazardly thrown onto the chair without a care. Her panties have been pulled down hanging at her thighs.

 

Her face grows hot and her body shivers, whether it’s from pure mortification or to suddenly exposed to a complete stranger, she knows not. Every fiber of her body radiates embarrassment and the sense to pull away and grab the blanket resting innocuously beside her becomes nonexistent. The nurse pushes the back of her head down onto the pillow and Elena hears the snapping of latex gloves against skin. She shudders, shoulders hunched, and all but screams into the pillow. Her jaw clenches tight against the shoulder and the tears refuse to fall from the ducts in her eyes.

 

Every desperate signal sent out from her brain to its respective limb goes ignored. Her body betrays her at each agonizing second. A burst of heat coils up in her gut and shoots fireworks into her loins.

 

“Wider,” Nurse Beckett encourages and her legs spread even more.

 

Hapless in her own predicament, she presses herself further into the bed, hoping - wishing - a wormhole would open up and swallow her whole. She feels pressure building up between her legs and in the silence of the room, she hears wet schleching noises coming from her pussy as foreign fingers prod, exploring.

 

Elena turns her cheek to face away from the wall to find her only silent companion - smog - filling up the infirmary with nothing but white. It hurts her eyes. She stares at it and tries not to think too much of the nurse’s fingers spreading her juices around her center, inching towards her ass, all the while hearing distant laughter and innocent chatter coming from outside.

 

All the staring at too much white somehow makes her feel like she was staring at herself, staring at nothing. Her brain fights valiantly to drum up a thousand different descriptions to plaster across her blank canvass mind, but there was nothing that could truly describe nothing.

 

A thin shadow of a veiled silhouette catches the corner of her eye and her head lifts slowly from the pillow to watch the smog part obediently until said silhouette reaches the threshold of the bed and where Nurse Beckett stands. She holds her breath and tries to move her head so she could follow the dark outline of the shade but the nurse is there by her side, effectively blocking her.

 

Elena lets out a sharp hiss as the nurse’s fingers caress her swollen nipples, paying each one much dedication. She speaks at the same time as she rolls them around her fingers, twisting and pulling cruelly.

 

“You must have enjoyed a delightful night,” Nurse Beckett comments.

 

If I could remember who I had sex with, sure… now get your hands off of me, Elena wants to scream but glue seems to hold her teeth together, that the only noise she can manage is a half-strangled whimper.

 

Another set of hands have arrived landing on her traitorous body. Open palms rest against the fullness of her buttocks; they knead and push firmly, opening her up so far and wide that Elena is pretty sure anyone else would be blind not to see all her private parts exposed and dripping.

 

A slender finger dips into the folds and glides easily into her center, causing her back to arch in response. A sharp pinch to her exposed nub nips Elena back to reality. Her head snaps up and her arms tremble in anticipation. A trickle of her shame runs down her left inner thigh and Elena finds herself peeking through the blinds, watching the outside world.

 

An odd but sweet-sounding cadence of a soulful Irish lilting voice speaks and Elena grimaces at the way it purrs into her needy pussy filling it with hot wanton shame. Its tongue darts out to lick a thin swipe along the edge of her folds before dipping in for a taste.

 

“I see my assistant has done a number on you. I heard you could barely walk after.” the voice teases.

 

She gasps. Not because of the teeth toying with her exposed clit, its sharp bluntness grazing at her sensitive region.

 

She knows that voice.

 

She has heard it a couple of months back.

 

The once haunting memory she’d once seared into the deepest trenches of her brain, now swims lazily to the surface, daring her to scoop it out.

 

To own up to it.

 

Acknowledgement.

 

She doesn’t want to. She wants to be in a denial for a little longer, because she doesn’t want to think of their past relation. It hurt too much. She squints into the morning sunlight and refocuses her attention to her friends scattered across the school lawn. She sees Matt surrounded by the football team with boyish grins with Tyler’s contradicting troubled expression and his head turns and she almost ducks down.

 

However, he doesn’t look in her direction but towards the school benches… and there stands a familiar blonde just standing there. It’s too far away to make out the expression on her face and all Elena can do is watch her walk away and into a damn familiar red Porsche.

 

Katherine’s car to be exact.

 

Is it simply coincidence that Katherine and her to show up at the same time or just horrible timing??

 

Her thoughts don’t wander far enough when something harsh and biting cold clips at the folds of her pussy and Elena lets loose a pained moan. Her head feels achingly heavy and the pillow feels so soft that she allows herself a moment of respite. She can see a pair of matching gold clips pinching both sides of her lips, and a third dangling loose in the middle.

 

She feels the foreign metal teeth biting at the sheath of her clit and the cool sensation of the air. Each time those hands tighten the leash tugging at the end, shivers of sharp ecstasy send shockwaves into her belly and thighs. Every graze caused by her fingernail causes a light and fleeting sensation. Her anus responding delightfully only adds to her increasing horror.

 

A dark chuckle flitters over from behind and then a thumb presses into her tighter channel. She squeezes her eyes shut. She has nothing. She has no one. Each thought seems too loud and exposed, like every movement she made in the silence has been eviscerated by the smog around her.

 

She heaves a sigh, broken and fractured. Maybe the smog is somehow in her, just as she is in it.

 


 

The smog is merciless and cruel. It fills her mind, erases her thoughts, and forces Elena into frightening white spaces and tight corners. She doesn’t know how much time has passed, only that she is currently in the girl’s bathroom. Numb and empty, she lets their hands guide glide down until her hips are straddling one of the porcelain sinks.

 

A sneer hisses as hands position her, tugging onto the short clit leash that was once attached on one of her belt loops. “Grind down on it, doppelganger.”

 

Naked from waist down, Elena acquiesces silently. Biting back a moan, she hovers until her exposed sheathed clit is touching just the end of the tap. She stares at the mirror… or is her reflection self staring back?

 

“I can’t… yo-you have to…” Please don’t make me say it.

 

“Oh right. I forget I haffa remove this first,” Ashley Clarke from Literature grumbles. The sound of chains hitting brass echoes in the toilet. Elena jerks upwards from the sudden release of unrelenting teeth on her clit, causing a pained groan as the action sends her crashing forward into the mirror; her swollen clit banging into the faucet.

 

She grinds down on the cold brass and rides it through the scathing remarks and glees in the background.

 

“Gosh, look at her go. Have some self-control, Gilbert,” one comments.

 

The other remarks, “Bet she misses Donovan. Do you miss him, Gilbert?”

 

She doesn’t answer. Can’t. Her mouth won’t let her form words except the necessities like removing the clamps or needing to pee.

 

It’s always two classmates, Elena begins to notice despite her haze-induced state. Random ones- they grope her butt on the way to classes in the crowd. No one notices. No one cares. In the shower, they pinch her ass cheeks apart. Something cold and slick slides into her, filling her up. The smog willingly parts for them and each of them have this glassy expression- the same expression Nurse Beckett wore. She takes comfort in these miniscule moments, that she isn’t the only one forced. But it still hurts all the same.

 

To be used and played like a fiddle.

 

Two fingers shove into her pussy and Elena doesn’t stop. Can’t. Those were her orders. Oh how she hates her.

 

Her own biological mother. Isobel.

 

And so she clings onto the memory of their faces, etching their names into the blank canvass of her mind. It’s the only thing the smog allows her to keep.

 


 

She avoids the cafeteria during recess in hopes that no one else will approach her with ill intentions. It was relatively easy to find a more secluded spot outside, towards the side of the school. Very few cars pass by this side road, so it could be considered a perfect hideaway.

 

She’s halfway into her pizza when Tyler Lockwood swings his leg over the wooden picnic bench, interrupting the interlude Elena had thought she had. He grins at her with a semi-glassed eye expression to which Elena pales.

 

“She’s got you, didn’t she?”

 

He scoots closer, one hand slipping under the bench towards the silver chain peeking out through the crack of her jeans fly. Slowly, Tyler unzips and unbuckles the button at the front of her jeans. She can feel her heart pounding and heat pools in her stomach.

 

“Tyler, please…” Elena croaks.

 

“I always thought you were vanilla. Never knew you enjoyed kink.”

 

His hand strokes her thigh, fingers slipping past the hem of her pants. The other hand spreads her thighs. He hums approvingly into her ear. “Nice. No panties.”

 

Elena fights back a whimper as his thumb seeks out her tender flesh. “You don’t have to-”

 

“Shh,” Tyler smiles. “Would you rather a stranger or someone you already know? You know that I know you’re soaking wet, Elena.”

 

He unclips the clit leash that has been pinching her swollen nub since morning. She sighs in relief. “Thank you.”

 

Her heart drops into her guts. “I do have one request though.” A beat. “You used to give Matt quickies all the time. What do you say? Just one, and she promises she will leave you alone for the rest of the day.”

 

Elena freezes. “Somebody could just walk out here, and then what?! I can’t do it. It’s too risky.”

 

Tyler just grins impishly. “You sure, ‘Lena? Besides, a little birdie tells me you like love the idea of getting caught. No one’s going to find us here.”

 

She stares at the side door exit. “Yeah, what if someone comes through there for a smoke break?”

 

He shrugs. “If you want, we could have a go under the bleachers.”

 

She doesn’t answer, opting to stare into the distance. Her ears pick up the rustling noises and turns to see Tyler shoving off his jeans and rummaging in his wallet for a condom. He breaks the seal, rolls the condom down his cock and strokes it, slowly. He leans back and she gets to her feet on the bench, hovering over and positioning herself cowboy style.

 

He breathes in a sigh as Elena lowers herself down in the small space between him and the table. She feels his fingers in between her legs, slipping in easily as she widens her knees. As he curls his fingers to rub against her G-spot, she falls forward, gasping and clinging to the table desperately.

 

Thighs already twitching in anticipation, Elena moans with every exhale every time his fingers slip out of her. In one smooth move, he hitches her up a little higher and guides her down onto his cock.

 

“Fuck,” Tyler groans at her rocking her hips, hard, grinding her clit against his pubic bone.

 

Barely a minute later, she’s coming, trying and failing to muffle her scream by biting her lip. She might have tasted blood, but any concern for that is lost in the blinding waves of pleasure.

 

“Good fuck,” Tyler says as she scoots off him, bending to pick up her jeans.



Chapter Text

 

“Sir, she’s on the move.”

The golden lid snaps shut and the pocket watch is tucked back into its inner jacket pocket. “Follow her. I want to know what she’s up to,” he nods at the pixie-haired brunette who makes to get into the passenger’s seat. He stops her just before she shuts the car door, “Under no circumstances, are you to reveal yourself this time round.”

A younger, boyish voice joins in from the driver’s seat. “And if she has the doppelganger?”

“You will do nothing but observe. It is imperative we remain out of sight. I cannot let my brother know of our plans.”

“But the girl’s mental state-”

“Is not of our concern. They need her alive for the spell to work,” he replies calmly.

The vehicle’s windows roll up as it follows the sedan. He turns his attention back to the wavy blonde tresses of the newborn vampire stepping out of the red Porsche. This is certainly a surprise he didn’t foresee.

The blonde turns back to the brunette who is currently on the phone with someone else. The vehicle then drives off in another direction altogether.

He spots the witch with the older Salvatore in the distance, bickering from the looks of their body language. The blonde remains oblivious and continues walking back into the school. She pops out a few minutes later and begins heading for her car, keys in hand. He too, gets into his, nodding to the elder Martin. “Follow her.”

“Caroline Forbes? She’s the Sheriff’s daughter. What business do we have with her?” Jonas Martin scratches his goatee as the other hand steers the wheel.

 


???

 

The Gilbert girl is once again under the influence. Rose spots the trio exiting the vehicle walking towards one of the foreclosures. One of them tears down the ‘For Sale’ signage while the other has the doppelganger’s arm in her grip. They disappear into the mansion without so much of a word.

Shifting uneasily in her seat, her fingers linger on the interior door latch, her ears hone onto the girl’s too-calm heartbeats. Does she not wear vervain anymore? Has this been Katerina’s plan all along? Seduce her doppelganger and deceive her friends into thinking she’s a long lost twin, only to leave town whilst her faithful ally arrives to do the dirty work.

A hand is placed on her shoulder. She doesn’t shrug it off.

“Lord Elijah says not to interfere.”

Rose hears the low mutterings between the vampire duo and Elena’s calm breathing. “We can’t just do nothing. She’s all alone and Isobel-”

She has heard of a protege that was rumored to be descended from the Petrova’s line. Of stories about a girl with pale skin and long flowing black hair. A free spirit said to rival the great Katherine Pierce. A young girl who has devoted her entire existence into supernatural research. Rose has never seen her in person; she’s heard of her, mostly from Slater and his friends.

“Made a deal with Klaus. If he knows we’re here… he would definitely bump the schedule. And I much rather like my head and body intact.”

A dark blue SUV careens down the empty street, tires screeching in protest as the rubber hits the curb. A blonde female, hair tied up in a ponytail - human with quick hammering beats - exits the car in a hurry. It’s the Gilbert guardian. She’s seen her in town, hanging around with the likes of the school teacher. The guardian, Sommers, pulls out her phone and Rose hears the faint beeping.

She turns around, eyebrows furrowed, eyes squinting, and she too heads towards the same foreclosure as the trio did.

“Wait here,” Rose tells the young warlock. She’s out of the car in a matter of seconds and tucked against the side of the mansion, one ear cocked to the sound of the guardian’s movements.

The blonde is bold and dangerously reckless, and yet so ever protective for the girl. Rose keeps the side of her body planted and pressed against the concrete building, her eyes peeled at the Gilbert’s stiff posture. She’s seated on a high back chair, clothed (thank god for small mercies), with her arms resting on the arm rests. There’s not even a whimper or sound coming from her.

The guardian bursts through the front door, breaking the duo’s concentration on the girl. Rose hears the heavy stomping, frantic footsteps ricocheting throughout the mansion’s emptiness. She hears her shouting for the girl, “Elena?”

Isobel darts out of the guardian’s sightline, just barely. Rose immediately maneuvers to another position to avoid being seen. The guardian must have seen her niece because she all but quickens her footsteps towards her.

The brunette, which Rose is going to assume to be one of Isobel’s minions, confronts the blonde with an air of superiority. “Go home and forget this ever happened.”

“The hell I will,” Sommers growls and Rose hears the loud smack. She chances a glance and finds the brunette’s head following through on the slap. This is interesting. The compulsion isn’t working on her, which could mean two things. The guardian is aware of them or someone else must have slipped her vervain.

She pushes past the shocked vampire, reaching out to jerk Gilbert out of the trance. However, it is futile because the best remedy to cure compulsion is to kill the source or give the subject a hard knock to the head. Rose sees the brunette recover and she wants to scream or slam against the window to gain the blonde’s attention. It goes against Elijah’s order and maybe this time round, he wouldn’t be so lenient as he previously was.

The guardian never sees it coming; her body drops to the ground in a lifeless heap, while the brunette looms over her. “Fine. Your loss.”

 


Somewhere in Mystic Falls

 

Pick up.

Hands grip the wheel tightly and then loosening. The Porsche does a U-turn in the middle of the street, earning the driver a few agitated honks from behind. She ignores it in favor of re-dialing the same number for the past twelve minutes.

Pick up. Pick up pick up pick up.

“Damn,” she mutters.

She finds the last message and re-reads it again. <<Is there another property you bought without informing me? Because I’ve found her signal here. Insert Google Maps link.>> She pulls up the link and takes note of how the tiny red marker is quite close to the border of town.

Gears shift and the engine thrums to life; the speedometer arrow cranks upward to 160. She spies the blue SUV parked nearby but there is no sign of the feisty blonde. The street is deserted, save for another telltale heartbeat, two three beats quicker, waiting in the driver’s seat. Just down the opposite lane. The teenager, Hispanic male, isn’t looking at her.

She gets out of the car, checks her phone and the signal stays strong. The front door is ajar. She hears voices talking lowly in the background. A heart beats calmly, too steady. It’s the smell that attracts her and she’s inside the room in less than a second.

Sitting on the lone chaise is her doppelganger with glazed eyes and an expressionless mask. The guardian lies just a few feet away, unmoving and eyes open wide. Dead. No, not dead. The Gilbert ring sits on her ring finger. It explains the absence and unanswered calls.

Still, it was stupid and careless to walk into a room full of vampires. The kinds that aren’t the Salvatores. The transactional kinds. She knows because she’s one of them. She snaps the wavy brunette’s neck, throwing her aside like a ragdoll. She hears a crash a second later. Hope it hurts.

Her protege responds to her presence a second too late. She’s slow and hates it when there’s a sudden change in plans. Katherine knows and uses that to her advantage. She grabs Isobel by her long glossy locks, viciously yanking her away from Elena.

“She’s your daughter.”

I had a daughter. They took her away from me. What did you do with yours?

Her descendant only laughs in her face. She yanks harder. Isobel lets her, her lip curling, “You’ve gone soft, Katherine darling.”

She spins away, escaping her grasp. Katherine doesn’t know why she bothers reasoning. It becomes clear in the recent centuries that Isobel had no interest in meeting her daughter. Had never once cared about her since her turning.

Her hands curl into fists, fingernails biting into her palms. Isobel caresses the contour of Elena’s face with a lone finger. She wants to crush that finger into dust. She doesn’t; forces herself to stand there. Isobel leans devastatingly close into the girl’s personal space with an enigmatic smile. “Do you remember what you said to me back then when it was just us?”

Katherine remembers it word for word. They’ve been at a high. Spent decades moving and then at a turning point, Klaus simply stopped his quest. They spent two and a quarter years in Barcelona. The longest they spent in the heart of the city. “So long as you’re by my side, the rest of the world can go fuck themselves,” Katherine recalls.

Isobel smiles and rises behind Elena as if she needs a buffer. “I already made the deal with Klaus. He’s coming, and soon, we can be together.”

“Why have you abducted her? Bring her out here. You never expressed a desire in her before.” She inches closer, hears the telltale faint beating coming back to life. The guardian’s close to waking up. She’d want answers, for sure. She’d be more annoying if she finds she’s in cahoots with Isobel all along. Katherine can’t have the blonde questioning where her loyalties lie.

“I saw how attentive you were to her and you gave me the same look you did with her,” Isobel shrugs. “I got jealous. I admit it. I want you back. I’ve missed you. Don’t you miss me?”

She doesn’t. It’s a relief not to be the responsible one. Whenever they’re together, she ends up having to clean up her mess, doctoring memories of any unfortunate souls. Sometimes, she misses travelling alone.

It must have been her hesitance that gave her true self away, because Isobel moves away from Elena and walks to the unconscious vampire. She picks her up so gently, cradling her head, not before leaving with a parting remark. “You and I both know she was born to die.”

 


 

Katherine waits eerily still until she’s almost certain that there’s no one else, before reaching her doppelganger in three strides. She kneels in front of Elena; her hands run down her arms until they reach her hands.

She squeezes them tightly. “What did they do to you? Talk to me, Elena.” A pause. An idea comes to her; it’s far-fetched but it’s all she has. “I’ll be back,” Katherine mutters and runs out of the mansion, towards her car. She rummages the glove compartment until she finds the slim black case Lucy had given her.

Inside the case lies a simple silver bracelet chain spelled with vervain. She smiles and disappears back into the mansion. She wraps the chain around Elena’s wrist and clasps the tiny hook onto the end. It may or may not work, having the spelled vervain counteract against the compulsion, neutralizing the subject.

She counts the beats, hears the frantic skips in the beat, and a smile breaks out. “Hey, hey. It’s me. Just me.” and Sommers taking a nap.

Her hands hover above Elena’s, not quite touching. There’s no telling what Isobel might have done to her. Physically, she looked fine but Isobel has always been particularly good at digging.

“Katherine?” She lurches forward. “W-where where are we? Is this our- I don’t recognize this room.” Katherine steadies her, turning her body slightly to block the younger girl’s view of Sommers. No need to send her into a panic attack.

“It’s a long story. What do you last remember?”

Elena scrunches her face, one hand gripping hers. “I don’t know. School. Did I come from there? Ohh…” She trails off, her face turns pale and ashen. Her mouth forms an ‘O’. She turns to her in panic. “I- she-”

“Isobel,” Elena manages, “she… she was with me… in school, I think. I don’t know. It’s all in pieces.” She looks down and sees the chain coiled around her wrist. “What’s this?”

“Don’t take it off. Not even for me.”

Elena looks at her. “I don’t understand. Why can’t I?”

She holds her face in her hands. “Because this will keep you safe. It’s spelled with vervain. No one else can compel you or remove it from you by force. I should have given it to you earlier.”

Elena nods and smiles down at her. “Okay.”

“Come on, I’ll give you a ride home.” She can come back for Sommers later. Get her doppelganger back to the safe confines of her home, and then deal with the fallout. She’s about to scoop her out of the chair and into her arms when Elena turns to her with furrowed expression.

“What did she mean I was born to die?”

Chapter Text

“The trust of the innocent is the liar’s most useful tool.” by Stephen King

 

She exhales a long tired sigh. “It’s a long story. It goes all the way back to England, 1492 after I was banished. I had to learn to adjust. So I quickly became English. It was there that I caught the eye of a nobleman named Klaus. At first, I was taken with him until I found out what he was and what he wanted from me. And then I ran like hell.”

“So what does he want me for?” Elena implores, “Isobel… she said I was born to die….”

She watches the older vampire swallow slowly. The pieces suddenly click into place and all of a sudden a realization enfolds. “You were going to use me.” She can feel her human doppelganger’s heartbeat thumping painfully quick.

Please don’t ask me the million dollar question.

“A-and Isobel and that- woman, were you in cahoots with them too? Like you once teased me with Alaric. Is this for real? Are- are you for real?”

The silence stretches on. Katherine stays where she is. She wants to lie but finds herself unable to do at the desperation of silent pleas for the truth.

Elena shoots up out of the chair like something ejected her out forcefully, giving her barely enough time before-

“Jenna!” She all but shouts as her feet stampede and skid, dropping to her knees as the momentum slides her towards the blonde’s head. Gently, her hands raise the guardian’s head onto her lap while she half bends in a forward motion to check her breathing. “What happened? Why is she even here?”

Elena cranes her head to glare at her. “What. Happened?”

“You weren’t supposed to see that. I’ll take care of Sommers. You just-”

Elena shakes her head vehemently. “No. No just no. Did you compel her too? Is there anyone in my family you didn’t compel your way into?”

Katherine takes a step forward and stops at the first sign of the doppelganger stiffening. “I didn’t compel Sommers. She found out about us, okay? I wouldn’t be that surprised; you and Gilbert are both terrible liars.”

This is frustrating. How did everything go so horribly wrong? She should have never given the bracelet to the doppelganger until she had taken care of Sommers. She can’t retract the gift back. Ugh. She could almost hear Isobel chuckling behind her. “You were always so full of sentiments, darling.” She remembered retorting back, “And you’re too practical and reckless. It’s a wonder how you’re still alive with all that rash decisions you make.”

Her sired rested her chin on her shoulder as her arms come from behind to press their cold bodies together, her breath tickling her cheek. If Katherine thought hard enough, she’d remember Isobel grinning cheekily as she always had. “Because you know I can make miracles come true… and you’re lonely. Misery loves company and all that horseshit, but I’m getting hungry. So pick a pretty girl and then we can play.”

She comes out of her reverie to catches the tail end of Elena’s question. “What?”

“Did you know about Isobel being my mom? Actually, don’t tell me. I don’t think I want to know. Just- just go.”

 


 

Fast forward to one week later…

 

She slips into the back of the car unnoticed, rolling her eyes as the driver yanks the car door shut, tossing her bags onto the passenger seat without a care. The key turns and the engine roars to life. Deciding now’s the time to speak, she unabashedly clears her throat and relishes at the high pitched scream as the driver whips her head around.

“Ai-yeeeee!!! Katherine!!?! What the fuck. How did- Where did you come from?”

She ignores the question, shrugging instead. “I haven’t been here long. You should have heard me coming in a mile away. What has Stefan been teaching you?”

“Uh…”

Her eyes narrow at the blonde stalling. “He has been teaching you at least how to hunt right? Or are you being spoon-fed by the Salvatores’ unlimited supply of stash?”

“I have not touched their… freezer. Of course, I know how to hunt after he- um… showed me the basics,” Caroline sniffs with a touch of disdain.

Katherine pushes. “Normal basics or… Ripper basics?”

Caroline turns red and her voice tenses, “Normal basics. Catch, feed, release. Assuming it’s not tinier than me.”

She quips, silently enjoying the banter. “Oh. So no fascination towards the furry little beings?”

When her sired shakes her head, she mutters, “Good.”

“Did you… want to do the usual?”

Katherine blinks at Caroline who has been watching her since her panicked scream, now has her body turned more towards her. She doesn’t give an answer, choosing instead to look out the window. She hears Blondie’s hesitant voice coming from the front. “Are you waiting for Elena?”

Gilbert. Her human doppelganger that she hasn’t heard back since…

“No. Just drive, would you?” Katherine gestures at the steering wheel. “Where are you headed?”

“Home,” replies Caroline as she takes them away from the school.

They carry on in silence, letting the radio fill their ears with popular tunes until Caroline timidly catches her gaze through the rearview mirror. “Will I be seeing you tonight at the ball? I wasn’t sure if you’d received it too but Tyler said it was a blanket invitation…. So maybe you’d known.”

The masquerade ball. Was she going? Too many heads will turn if Elena attends as well. Maybe if she slipped in from the side entrance, nobody would know given the masks and anonymity. She could blend into the crowd.

“Maybe I might,” she replies, taking note of Caroline’s anxiety pouring out of her. “Speaking of, try not to get too close with that Lockwood kid.”

“Tyler? We’ve been childhood friends since kindergarten. He thinks it’s just me who is… different.”

Katherine gestures dismissively, “No not that. If he turns, he becomes your enemy. So whatever handsy relationship you’re doing with him, end it before he falls for you.”

Caroline gasps aloud, sputtering. “Handsy?! We were only chatting.”

“I can smell his sweat all over you. You reek.”

“Oh, I cannot believe you said that. Is it always going to be vampires versus werewolves? Can’t we… I don’t know… coexist peacefully?”

Katherine groans. “This isn’t Twilight, Forbes. Their venom is fatal to us. All it takes is one bite and you’re good as dead.”

“Is this your way of acting all jealous? Because you’re shaking with envy.”

She snorts, “Oh please. I think it’s the other way round. You’re having so much ‘fun’ with me that you can’t bear to look at Elena Gilbert in the eye.”

The car skids to an abrupt stop when Caroline all but slams the brakes, causing both their necks to jerk forward. Blondie whips her head back, “Excuse me?”

She snarks with delight, baring her teeth slightly. “You heard me.”

Teasing Caroline Forbes has become her latest favorite hobby, and she did it for two reasons mainly. The first being the blonde was easy to bait and dangle a fat carrot in front, and watch her sired trip over her own feet to prove her wrong. The second reason? She needed a distraction from the main problem and this was familiar territory. When was the last time she didn’t toy with a sired?

Caroline threatens, “Don’t make me come back there.”

Katherine smirks at the empty threat. “What are you gonna do? Bite me?” She winks suggestively and shifts her hips forward.

Blondie’s pupils darken slightly at the motion. She hears the soft click of seatbelt clasp releasing. “That… or I come to the back and squash you with my stinkiness.”

“You do that and I will roll all the windows down!”

 


 

On the other side of town,  Bonnie twirls slowly in front of the standing mirror, admiring her dress while Elena sits primly at the edge of her bed.  “Are you really not going to the ball?” Bonnie pouts at her friend’s shrug. “I don’t know if I’m up for it.” A beat. “I think I just want a drama-less night.”

Bonnie sighs but agrees, “Yeah, it’s been one crazy week.”

“Tell me about it,” mutters Elena, picking imaginary strands off her comforter.

She feels an obliging need to distract her somehow. “Do you think she’s going?”

“Who?”

“Caroline,” Bonnie replies, moving to sit in front of Elena as she scoots backward to make way.

“Up or down?” Elena’s fingers hover over her head.

“Down, I think.” Elena nods and settles down to work. “Are you avoiding her?”

Bonnie shifts slightly as her brain wracks over what to say. Elena and Caroline have always been close, and Elena has been supportive of Caroline’s current lifestyle. She hedges, “No. Yes. I mean no….” Goddamnit. “It’s nothing really. We kind of got into one of those arguments as usual. You know what mode she goes into when you step out of the line she half-expects you to follow.”

Elena gives a sympathetic smile at Bonnie’s ranting and back-hugs her, one arm wrapping around her upper chest. Her eyebrows quirk at the reflection of the new accessory wrapped securely around Elena’s wrist.

“It’s pretty. Where’d you get it?”

Elena blinks, glancing down for a moment. Bonnie could have sworn her eyes flash a flicker of sadness before vanishing. “It’s…. Jeremy. He’s finally got it right this time. You know boys-”

“And their terrible fashion sense,” she laughs, finishing the sentence. “Yeah, Damon is just as horrible. Let me tell you he still thinks corsets…”


But Elena has already tuned Bonnie out completely. Her fingers toyed with the chain as she stares at the mirror reflection of herself. What do people see? They see a brunette girl. Brown eyes. Rosy cheeks. Sad eyes. An image. A surface. But what does she see, when she looks at the people she loves? What they would call imperfections don’t make them more tangible. They’re all… smoke and mirrors. Not so different. Not so readable.

How many times has she been called doppelganger by the vampires? Too many times now. Is she human? She bleeds red like everyone does, and yet… she still is essentially a shadow self of the original Katherine. She blinks again, focusing on her reflection. Her lackluster wavy hair has gone back to its straightness.

 

Almost convincing.

 

Almost human.

 

Not convincing enough though. Vampires after Katherine think they’re one and the same.

 

-Flashback-

She’s sitting in one of those straight-back stiff dining chairs, facing away from the window. She flinches at Isobel’s cold finger tucking her hair behind her ear as she bends towards her. “I thought you’d still be in the dark about your true heritage.”

She spits, “Who’s my father?”

Isobel smiles. Elena decides she doesn’t like that look on her face. It suits her terrifyingly. “Maybe not all the pieces.”

“What are you talking about?” Talking to Isobel was like spinning in circles. It was worse than conversing with Katherine. At least she got cryptic hints and smirks to few answers she’d gotten right. She doesn’t get a response so she tries another tactic.

“Why am I here?”

It’s another enigmatic reply. “Because you’re the bait.”

“Bait? For what?”

“Not what,” Isobel straightens and glances at the door, her lips quirking. “Who.”

-End Flashback-

 

Katherine’s eyes stare back at her, with Katherine’s hands touching Bonnie’s hair. Bonnie’s still going on a tirade of Damon wanting to match colors with her dress and his tie. A thought comes. If Katherine hadn’t turned, if she hadn’t known her destiny, would she be alive? Whose life was she living in? Hers or a stolen one.

Almost a person. Almost someone.

 


 

In a dim lit room with a swaying light bulb acting as its sole source of light, despite the late sun rays peeking through the boarded windows, stands a scruffy-looking young man in his thirties pulling off his dirty overalls, scrubbing at oil-stained fingertips with a wet soapy towel. They came off easier than expected. He’d been busy painting. His newfound friend had very kindly purchased half of his artworks on the spot and then told him to bring his finest masterpieces to the ball. “It will be handsomely packed full of people with loaded wallets,” he said. “Just bring your best collection, an empty stomach, and have a good time.”

He moves out of the bathroom shirtless and into the bedroom where a borrowed second-hand tuxedo like waiting on the bed. Nimble fingers dance over the buttons with practiced ease, pulling up the trousers, fastening it with a simple leather belt. Staring into the mirror as he fixes the bowtie, he isn’t too surprised when a deep rich accented voice carries through the tiny apartment.

“You cleaned up nicely.”

“As do you, immaculately perfect as ever,” he says charmingly. “So what brings a stranger to my humble abode?”

The Englishman doesn’t return the smile. “I have intel telling me a band of merry dogs has crossed the border. Pray tell me this isn’t your doing.”

He folds his collar down and picks his jacket off the chair, contemplating if he should wear it now or later. “You have your protection. I have my… watch dogs so to speak.”

Deciding it’s best to wear his jacket before his friend comes to help load his artworks, he does so with a flourish. The Englishman sidesteps, blocking off his exit. “It’s a small town. There is no need to invite trouble.”

He flashes his teeth. “Keep it clean. Pristine and white. Do you not miss… the red sometimes?”

There is a flinch. He has him under his skin. And as always, his timing is impeccable. The doorbell buzzes twice in quick succession. He grins despite the tension. “Excuse me,” he says before opening the door. “Tyler! What a surprise to see you. I was told by your father that he was going to send someone to help. I didn’t think it’ll be you, honestly.”

The boy shrugs and steps into the apartment. “It’s not a problem, Mister Gerard. I had some time to spare. Which ones are you bringing? Oh hello, Mister Michaels.”

He pretends not to hear the other muttering, “Gerard, really.”

Instead, he gestures at those paintings propped up near the front door. “I have seven here and two large ones by the TV. Not sure if they fit.”

Tyler replies, “Oh they’ll fit. I brought the truck.” He picks two paintings by its sides and steps out, his footsteps fading down the flight of stairs.

He takes one of the larger pieces in each hand and moves towards the exit, not before finishing with a disarming smirk to the not-so-gentleman watching him. “Good talk, Michaels. Hope to see you soon at the party.”

“And you, Gerard.”

Chapter Text

Under the wintry air and the sky looming with black clouds since February came, the town is as grey as a newspaper picture, with the exception of the Lockwood mansion bursting with colors and bustling noises. Elena slides out of the family SUV once Uncle John turns the engine off after putting it into park alongside Lockwood’s long driveway. Aunt Jenna matches her pace, looping her arm with hers while her free hand holds her clutch and mask.

“I’m glad you changed your mind about going to the party,” Aunt Jenna starts. “I overheard Fell complaining to John this morning something about a fundraiser thrown into the mix. I guess we’ll see soon enough.”

Elena forces out a smile. She’s smiled through worse. She hadn’t planned on attending but a baby blue box and a handwritten note addressed to her greeted her on the front porch when she returned from Bonnie’s house. The notecard was a two-fold containing a simple but cryptic sentence.

‘Sometimes it’s safer to get lost in a crowded room than be alone.’

Inside the box comprises of a spaghetti lace black dress and a well-crafted mask with decorated rhinestones. They fit her perfectly, making her wonder if this was Katherine’s doing. However, she has never seen the vampire leave handwritten notes for her. They have always communicated through text messaging or word of mouth via her network of using her own classmates to do the job.

So this development is new and so very unlike Katherine.

It makes her wonder if it was from him.

The Englishman.

 


 

He watches the doppelganger wander through the throng of people decked in suits and colorful dresses adorned with a vast array of gleaming masks obscuring their identities. What is the huge deal between his Katherine and this dull Elena Gilbert? A Gilbert of all the Founders… shares her face. He can’t quite fathom why Katherine lingers in this cursed town. He’d thought she would tire of the human fascination and then come running back to him. He’d even gotten himself a Bennett witch as part of a ploy. She wasn’t perturbed by the witch’s presence.

“She doesn’t care about you,” a silky voice creeps closer, forcing Damon to turn his head at one Isobel Fleming gracing her presence as she slinks up to her, half-draping her arm around his shoulders as though he was merely an armrest.

“You gave her a choice. She chose the girl.”

Oh, he remembers that night.

He’d taken her out for dinner into one of the city state’s finest restaurant, where they served with expensive wines and tiny proportions humans waste their savings on. And for what? To relish in the savory, mouth-watering sensations and flavors that pop just right on their taste buds when you could head to an ‘All-you-can-eat’ buffet with an expenditure of just a hundred bucks for a pair and feel full and satisfied.

 

-Flashback-

“How’s the wine?”

Katherine glances at him as she sips disinterestedly. “This is the third time you’ve asked me that. My answer isn’t going to change from the first two.”

“That’s the fifth time you’ve checked your phone from last seven minutes. I would ask what’s wrong but with that look, you’ve got stitched up, seemed better not to. Stefan not taking your calls?”

Katherine places her phone on the side and looks at him blandly, “Good question. I haven’t heard from him. Why am I here Damon?”

He shrugs and continues to cut into his tenderloin. “What are we? His parents? Stefan…” he waves his fork in the air. “Probably having a feast in another town since Blondie doesn’t share the same appetite.”

“Don’t you think it’s weird we haven’t heard panicked news of sudden disappearances from the locals?” Her brow raises a fraction. “Is this a trial run for the perfect first date?”

He lets out a low chuckle and quips, “We can have plenty more dates like this, and then some dessert for after.” His eyebrows waggle suggestively.

“I mean Bonnie Bennett.”

His blood runs hot at the mention of her name as Katherine dabbles the napkin against her blood-red tainted lips. “Am I your guinea pig?”

“What! No. Of course not,” he scoffs. “Like I have a thing for the witch bitch.”

Katherine gives him a glance-over. “If you say so,” her voice tone returns to neutral., unreadable as ever.

It irks him that he can’t read her, that she has all her cards hidden. His temper flares and his tongue slips, “What about that boring Gilbert girl? That who you’ve been texting to?”

“What about her?”

It has been months since their first encounter, and he has watched through the crow with a bird’s eye view on the comings and goings between the Gilberts and her. Katherine has even, at occasional times, stayed over and only leaving in the wee mornings on the next day.

“Have you not learned enough about your reflection, Katherine? When are we going to leave this forsaken town? It’s been six fucking months.,” Damon hisses, glaring at anyone else dare scowl in his way.

“So go. If it bores you that much,” she smirks. “I, for one, am quite entertained by this quaint little town. It almost feels reminiscing.”

He splutters, “You would stay… for her?! What about me?”

She twirls the spaghetti around her fork, before bringing it to her lips, pearly white teeth reflecting against the silver cutlery as she takes a mouthful. She chews thoughtfully and swallows. “You’re a big boy Damon and you’ve certainly been busy. Befriending a Bennett witch and Saltzman no less. Tsk. I thought you’d have better taste.”

“Right. And what will you do once the Gilbert girl is squirreled away on a beautiful night like this?”

Katherine’s eyes snap as her voice takes on a silky drawl. “Depends on the consequences of your actions. What did you do, Damon?”

His lips curl upwards despite his simmering indignation. “It’s a full moon, love. What could I possibly do to her when I’m here with you?”

-End Flashback-

 

“And what are you want, Fleming? Here to gloat?” Damon snarls, shoving her into a wall.

“You make everything so easy. It’s like taking candy from a baby. There’s no real challenge,” Isobel bends down to retrieve the mask on the polished marble floor. “Besides, I love parties. Especially masquerades.”

He opens his mouth to spew a retort but she lands a chaste kiss on his cheek. “Play nice. Your girlfriend’s here.” She says before pulling away and blending into the crowd of nameless strangers.

Bonnie reaches him with drinks in hand, and he forces a smile, taking the proffered drink.

“Who is she?”

Damon looks past her. “An old acquaintance.”

 


 

His right-hand curls into a fist and he stares into the smooth stone of the ring. He counts to ten and slowly uncurls, unsuccessfully rolling the tension between his shoulders. His left-hand goes to fiddle with the suit tie. He feels a not-so-subtle nudge and a hiss from behind.

“Stop it. You’re making me nervous,” Jemma shoves a flute of champagne to him as she scans the packed room. “How are the fingers?”

 

-Flashback-

Someone had invited her inside without knowing she was the enemy. One of the kids probably… He hadn’t time to ponder which one was the foolish one, not when he’s the one who has been effectively cornered in the kitchen. His hands grip the edge of the countertop tightly. He’d forgotten what she looked like. She had hair so black against the skin so white that it made a contrast that only served to make the woman look all the more ghostly, all the more haunting; her lips that were once pink and soft, were now bloodstained with a bit of blood dribbling at the corner.

“Hello, John,” the wicked glint in her cold eyes glint dangerously. “Care to explain why Damon Salvatore is still alive?”

He stares at her and swallows. “I-Is-Isobel, y-you… you’re here. How did you get in?”

She dismisses it with a wave of her hand. His eyes dart to the next room and back to her slinking closer until her fingers glide up to the collar of his shirt. “It’s not important. John darling, you know how much I hate loose ends.”

“There was a problem. A witch…”

“Yes, the Bennett witch. A sixteen-year-old outsmarted a bunch of grown-ups. She’s practically a newbie.”

“She had powers.”

Isobel glares at him. “Did she use them? Set ablaze the forest?”

“N-no.”

“And still you let her go.”

He doesn’t have a counter response other than moving swiftly and ducking when Isobel produces a knife out of thin air and slashes at the once occupied space. He darts behind the counter island and picks up the chopping board, bringing it up to protect his chest. “Look, we can talk this out.”

Isobel growls, knife raised threateningly above her head and in his direction. “I’m done talking. You’ve outlived your usefulness.”

She tips the knife back as if to throw and John ducks behind the wooden board. But the knife never came. Instead, he hears the panicked scream and turns to his right just to see Jemma entering the foray. “What the hell John!!”

“Watch out!” He shouts, ducking again behind the counter and hears a clang of the knife making contact against the open door of the refrigerator. “Call the police. Do anything but run in here. Do you honestly have a death wish?”

Jemma ignores him and peeks over the ajar door, squeaking, “Isobel Fleming? I thought you were dead.”

Said vampire taunts, “Still am.”

She dashes in front and threw the useless board aside he’d been brandishing as a shield. She yanks one of the kitchen knives resting in its holding place and immediately John feels a sharp burst of pain coming from his right hand. Howling, he pulls back in horror at the gush of blood spewing out from the stump. His legs crumple and the gravity slams him down, hard onto the floor, painting it red.

“Goodbye John.”

-End Flashback-

 

“Good as new,” John mutters, his scowl deepening at Jemma side-eyeing. “Then stop fidgeting.” There is a momentary pause and then Jemma shifts her weight uneasily. “Do you think she’d show?”

“Isobel? I wouldn’t put it past her.”

“I was... actually referring to Katherine.”

John whips around, fixing Jemma with a glare. “You’ve been in contact with that bitch? She’s the reason Jeremy’s in the hospital.”

“It could be Isobel for all we know,” Jemma argues hotly. “The doctors said he’ll make a quick recovery. We found him just in time.”

John steps backward, eyes disbelieving. “Whose side are you on?”

Jemma blinks and turns away. “Don’t be silly, John. Not everyone is out to get you.”

“Whatever,” he mutters and takes a large gulp. He tilts his flute towards the direction of the crowd parting slightly for the suited man who seems to be the only one without a mask. “Go say hi to your boy toy.”

“I do not... have a boy-toy,” Jemma splutters indignantly and squints into the packed room. She spots him quite easily. He’s wearing the same three-piece suit like always. His back is towards her and he seems to be conversing with someone of a smaller stature.

 


 

People in this town call him the Englishman, a foreigner visiting their humble soil. They do not truly know the reasons, can barely fathom why he’s chosen this town, this city out of the rest of the more modernized bustling state. Why here? They do not know we came from the north originally, that we merely dressed like aristocrats. We are not. We never were.

Is it a coincidence that all the pieces they were searching for, have finally turned up in this final destination - Mystic Falls? And all of them are in attendance tonight.

He hangs back out of sight from prying eyes but never out of hearing range. His ears catch onto the startled gasp spilling out of the blonde’s lips and his lips curve.

“You’re….”

She is stunning like none other, dressed in a red mini dress with a drape hanging off one shoulder and a large embellishment over one hip. Her mask matches well with the dress. He can’t help but zeroes into the conversation.

“Elijah Michaels. It’s a pleasure meeting you, Miss Caroline Forbes.”

Ah. The only child of Detective Sheriff Forbes, another one of the prominent Founding families. All are present save for the Fell family. The name matters little to him.

“I require a favor,” his ears latches on and his curiosity peaks. Elijah continues, “We have a mutual friend present. I wish not to have her caught in the crossfires. By any means necessary.”

Friend. How interesting. Which friend are they speaking of?

His eyes dart around the room, catching sight of the Gilberts huddling close to each other. Is it the doppelganger? The very key to unlocking his freedom is finally birthed, giving him the chance to be freed from the damnation curse.

Is it the little witch hanging out with a Salvatore? It is strange; there’d been no word of news about the younger Salvatore when he arrived. He’d simply vanished. Odd indeed.

“What’s wrong?” Caroline asks.

Elijah’s voice turns grave and somber. “Trouble, and it’s not the pretty kind.”

He lets loose a deprecating laugh, earning a few confused smiles around. Laughing to himself.

Oh Elijah, what secrets are you keeping from me? The party’s only starting, and soon, I’ll have what I’ve been waiting centuries for.

He flicks out a slick phone from his inner jacket pocket and dials a number before bringing it to his ear. The moment the call clicks, he directs an order. “Seal them in.”

Chapter Text

The phone’s cover clicks shut quietly as her fingers slide the device back into the confines of her small sling handbag, its strap perched delicately on her shoulder. She casts a dismissive glance at one of the burly guys hanging behind her.

“You heard the boss man. Fan out and secure the doppelganger.”

He grunts in reply and then three identically dressed waiters abandon their stations, melt into the crowd, each heading towards a different exit. It shouldn’t be too difficult to find the girl. Klaus had provided a modern-day picture of her. She, on the other hand, has her own set of orders.

Her directive is to find the little resident witch and measure her wealth of power. “Where are you?” she hums amusedly, dark eyes roving around each and every woman she’d come across. They share the same skin and possibly height-wise, given their ages are relatively close. She’s looking for a petite girl, roughly about five feet tall. Wading into the crowd, her arm stretches out with her palm facing the ground while she looks around furtively.

There. She senses a steady pull of the witch’s magic ebbing in the distance. A gentle flow of the air current changes and she pivots on the spot. Little Miss Bennett is in the northeastern wing. She walks along the edges of the room, graciously mumbling pleasantries and side-stepping around anybody lingering in her path.

She spies the doorway and hears more cheerful laughter and chatter coming from the next room. She turns and walks straight into a block of wall...

“Oof.”

Was her sense of perception off?

“Oh, I’m really sorry. I didn’t notice you there. Are you alright?”

Her hand goes to touch her forehead, where she’s certain she can already feel a bruise forming. A few confused blinks later and she’s staring at a beautiful blonde, her hair is in tangy curls bouncing with a contrite expression.

Vampire. As beautiful as they appear, their appetites leave much to be appreciated.

“Yeah, I’m okay,” she goes to respond but the blonde has already rushed past her, wading into the crowd. She seemed quite desperate as her head keeps turning left and right, as though she is searching for someone. At the doorway, she reaches into her handbag to pulls out a small white quartz, placing it at the corner.

As she rights herself, she hears her name being called and it’s the urgency in the voice that propels her to keep moving, don’t look back. I should have known he would never stop looking. She swipes the door close with her magic as soon as she darts into the next room. He is relentless.

“Greta,” his deep timbre voice implores her to stop. Without a look back, her eyes shift towards the closed windows and they open on command, gust bellowing in whilst some people gasp and chuckle nervously. The crowd changes its usual pattern at the sudden commotion, allowing the female witch to dart in between and hide.

That’s when she spies upon Bennett speaking to the doppelganger. Half of her work is done. She drops the second quartz into a nearby plant, before making her way over. The moment she is within reach, she grabs onto the dark-skinned witch’s arm, silently connecting her magic with Bennett all the while pretending not to see the furrowed expression Bennett has currently switched to.

“Please help me. I know you’re one of us.”

Bennett’s eyes widen at her and look down on her arm and back onto her face. “You’re a witch too,” she marvels quietly.

“Yes. There’s no time to waste. There’s a powerful warlock after me. He’s been chasing me for months now and he’s at the party. I just escaped from him,” Greta whispers, hunching her shoulders inwards to make herself smaller.

“Where is he?” The doppelganger asks, inconspicuously moving to place herself as a shield between the dancing crowd and her.

“He’s coming. I can feel his presence. He’ll be entering through the large doorway. You can’t miss it.”

“How can I help?” Bennett asks.

Greta inwardly smiles. This is too easy. Sheltered kids these days… they don’t see the big picture until it’s too late. Her work is already cut out in bite-sizes. “If we do a boundary spell together, we can stop him from entering. Just split the place in half so we’re not stuck in one room.”

“O-oh. But I’ve never done one this large before. I-I’m not sure if I can even hold it.”

Greta holds out her hand expectantly for Bennett to take it. “We can and will. Our combined magics should be able to hold it if we channel each other.”

“Greta,” her father’s worrisome large frame comes into view, having caught the trio in a direct line sight. He has not yet entered the room, to which she is grateful for the sudden movements from a group of drunk jocks blocking his way.

“That him?” The doppelganger asks and Greta nods affirmatively. “Is the spell up yet? He’s almost reaching.”

“Aven sa fuis sa belise, de la mer…” Greta echoes Bennett’s incantation, pulling a bit of her magic back but allowing Bennett to channel hers. She didn’t want to put her full energy into a spell that is meant to test the witch’s merit. This is going to be all of Bonnie Bennett’s doing. All she has done is speed things up just a tiny weensy bit.

 


 

Something’s changed as she wanders through each room, black Charles Jourdan India pumps clicking against the shiny marble floor. There’s an odd lingering smell in the atmosphere, tasting of damp pine cones and faint acorns in stark contrast to the strong colognes infused together. It follows her like an unwanted shadow. Katherine glances around the different groups of party-goers huddle together, in bright dresses and carefully pressed suits, all shrouded in masks.

In the crowd, she glides around, careful eyes watching for sudden movements. There is none but the stench of sweat increasing, which is a little strange considering there’s only one triggered werewolf who is the mayor, and the last known location last seen was on the ground floor regaling stories to the council members of his staff.

No, these new scents are new and unfamiliar. Unfamiliarity usually means danger lies ahead and she’s never one for surprises. Her hackles rise as her lips pull tightly until a scowl graces her masked expression. She snatches a full glass of bubbly champagne and chugs down one after another, before placing the empty flutes back on the waiter’s silver tray.

The scent is stronger; her guard rises fully and Katherine smiles dangerously at the waiter shrinking. It’s in his eyes’ irises, she realizes, at the rim of the irises glow a faint golden yellow.

“You…” She hisses and grabs his bowtie, pulling him closer. “How many of you are there?”

They’ve come for her, just as she has feared.

“Enough,” the waiter says tightly. “Your pretty head fetch a high price.”

His eyes cast over her head and through whatever silent communication he seems to be getting, for the scents are getting stronger. Her grip tightens at the throat, watching with narrowed eyes as the unexperienced werewolf’s hands raise up to claw at her. His cheeks color and bulge desperately for the sweet release.

“You can’t kill all of us,” he tries to put on a brave face but they both know she has the upper hand.

“Watch me.” Katherine sneers as she drags him along with her, away from the party. “Oh wait, you can’t,” she smiles impishly and snaps his neck, his body falling to the ground with a muted thud.

“Oh. My. God. I’ve been looking everywhere for you, and it’s barely two hours in that you had to go all murdery. What did he ever do to you?”

Caroline bursts into the room, her face set in a fixed disapproved expression, as she goes straight for the dead waiter lying at her feet. Katherine watches her frantically hover her helpless hands and then looks up with a glare. “He’s just a kid.”

“He’s a bounty hunter and a werewolf. Now get away from the door before more of them come looking,” Katherine orders, shutting the door. She casts a glance around the room and her eyes fall to that very expensive granite side-table, which she easily grab the ends of it to barricade their entry point.  

“Why are they coming after you?”

“Because I ran from my destiny,” mutters Katherine as she heads out towards the empty corridor.

“What is it?” She can hear the confusion radiating from the blonde and deliberately opts to widen her scope of hearing. With the loud pulsating beat of the music blasting from the speakers situated in the rooms, it becomes difficult to filter background noises from the looming threat.

Katherine turns around and sighs, “I would have been dead half a millennium ago if I hadn’t turned tail and ran.”

Caroline stares at her, stunned with wide eyes and mouth formed half open. “You’re like a walking ancient fossil. I kissed a relic.”

She rolls her eyes and continues walking. “Hardy har har. Keep your eyes peeled.”

“Okay. So we’re looking for an old- uh I mean really young and attractive baddies. Do you think I have met them yet?”

“The goons chasing me are new. Give or take eighty years and yes, Forbes you have already met one of them.”

Caroline stiffens and squeaks, “I have?”

Katherine nods and takes the left corridor rather hesitantly; she stops abruptly for a moment and then darts into the room adjacent from their slinking. She ignores the incessant questions Caroline keeps badgering her with, in favor of wrenching the unsuspecting werewolf’s heart from his chest from behind. As his body goes down, so did the attention snap onto them by a trio of waiters who have entered, blocking their only exit.

In a uniformed motion, they drop the white towels and begin unbuttoning their sleeves. Katherine curses and pushes Caroline hard back towards where they came from. “Start moving. Find another way down. You know this place better than I do.”

She ducks around the corner, missing three very precise stakes piercing the wall plaster. She follows the blonde down a series of corridors and even passing through a lounge area, gaining curious looks as they exit through the French door Caroline opens for her, not before shutting it quietly and drawing the partition.

The next room looks oddly jarring, with a dark-skinned man with balding hair, his back facing them, sitting comfortably in a camel Valentino mid-century bonded leather club chair with an elbow resting against the arm while playing backgammon by himself. Katherine glances at him with curiosity. Isn’t that board game meant to be played with others?

She hears Caroline muttering in front, “Think it’s through here… and ohh… uh, we might have a slight problem.”

As she moves towards the doorway, Caroline re-enters, wearing the most perplexed expression. “Well, there is good news and bad news.”

Katherine rolls her eyes and snaps, “Out with it. Have you found it?”

“We just have to turn left through there to head downstairs,” Caroline replies with her thumb jerking in the direction. “But… it’s been sealed off.”

Her brows furrow. “What do you mean sealed off?” She speeds out of the room and sees the brightening lights leading towards the grand main staircase. There is no werewolves in sight, no form of barricades or whatever Forbes was yapping about. She snorts and puts in a burst of speed, impatient to get a running start.

Thump!

Katherine blinks and staggers back in confusion. Then cold water drowns her in its unrelenting waves as the realization pours in like a rushing torrent, setting its glacial icicles spreading upwards at her spine, causing her wide wild eyes give way to despair. A boundary spell. Someone sealed them in. He brought a witch and her backup is in the form of a bumbling, chatty newbie bimbo.

Shit! If he is in town and I am trapped whilst Elena is-

She speeds back in a frantic frenzy, grabbing Caroline by the arm and spinning her swiftly around. “Did you see Elena? Forbes, did she show?”

“I think so…”

Katherine snaps her fingers in front of Caroline’s faraway expression. “Don’t say think. Is it a yes or no?”

“I don’t know. I was intercepted by someone called Elijah who asked me nicely to come find you and get you out.” Caroline shrugs helplessly. “I wasn’t sure who he meant at first, but you were literally like the first person I came across and recognized. I haven’t seen Bonnie or… or even Damon. It’s super duper sardine packed downstairs. I thought maybe they hightailed it out or something. Fancy ball parties aren’t Bonnie’s thing. So much for that blanket invitation.”

Maybe it’s in the shocked silence that follows, resulting in Caroline prodding cautiously with tremendous trepidation. “Is... he the one who’s been chasing you?”

She sighs and glances at the man who seems to be still playing by himself. She stomps over and glares down at him and his blasted game. “Get out. This is a private conversation.”

“Can’t do that. Why don’t you take a breather and answer the girl’s question?”

The man neither looks up nor backs down at the threat. Katherine growls at the calm neutrality he’s portraying. “I’m not asking twice.” Her fist comes down hard against the game, sending the colored pieces flying all over the table and the carpeted floor. She ignores Caroline’s shocked irate shouting from behind, not budging from her defensive stance. The man leans back in the armchair and simply remarks, “Feeling better?”

Katherine snarls, baring her teeth but an oddly familiar exasperated voice coming from her right interrupts her with a whine. “There you’ve gone and ruined the game. I was about to win.”

Her head whips around sharply but there is no one there.

 


 

Two moves away from finally crowing in the warlock’s face, not before Katherine Pierce comes charging in like a stubborn rhino, her temper tantrum as its imaginary horn poised to kill. At least he reaps something like free entertainment for one. From the ranging of emotions fluttering from both vampires’ faces, he’d say this would be the best highlights of the week. He feels almost like a poltergeist except he couldn’t levitate or telekinetically attack with flying objects. Still, this beats playing chess for the fourth time now, what with the warlock who uses the same strategy every time. It was like deja vu all over.

Panicked screams erupt in the next room and then the white French doors are flung open by a group of hunters, leering grins and armed to the teeth with nifty gadgets fitted to each wrist, a thin sharpened pointy stake pointed to them.

“Found you, doppelganger. You’ve got nowhere else to run,” the group leader steps forward tauntingly.

A quick glance around the room’s occupants and he knows the statement rings true. Caroline’s face has gone ashen grey, her stance stays petrified whereas Katherine has straightened up slowly as though she is unwilling to make any hasty moves. He can’t see her expression, but he supposed she has gone into a full defensive mode.

“Come quietly and maybe I let your friends live,” one of them says.

He snorts and then lets out a full-blown grin when most of the heads turn in his direction, their eyes blinking confusingly at the vacant spot. Of course, they can’t see him which means- In a smooth motion, he splits one of the legs from the table they were using to play the board game with, and throws the jagged piece aimed straight for the werewolf’s heart.

Said werewolf drops to the ground dead and then the room detonates in chaotic action. He hears a shriek and glances over to Blondie diving behind the couch. “I’m not cut out for this!!” Her eyes lock onto his and she squeaks, “Please tell me I’m not hallucinating Stefan Salvatore popping out from… from...” Her hands gesture wildly at the word blank.

Katherine plucks one of the flying stakes coming right at her and throws it back to the gang leader. It embeds itself in his torso which has him snarling in fury. “Miss!” He spits and comes attacking with brass knuckles. He throws the first punch and her hand intercepts, crushing his fist with a vicious crunch. “Aww, how clever of you to coat them with vervain,” she remarks as he howls in pain, angry eyes blazing; and then out of his peripheral vision, Stefan spots another anxiously loading a stake, who happens to be in the perfect line of sight at Katherine as his intended target.

 

“I need you to protect Katerina, make sure she’s safe from harm,” the Original intones.

“Why can’t you do it?”

“And risk my brother discovering my betrayal?” Somber eyes lock onto him, sealing his fate with hers.

 

It’s from this particular instruction that has him breaking another table leg and speeding forward. However, one of the fools intercepts him but a hard kick in his sternum has the werewolf buckling down. He doesn’t give the other any recovery time, skewering the makeshift weapon up his neck that half of it protrudes out. He ducks another volley and reaches his intended target in minutes, his hands making quick work of the poor fool.

Two down, five more to go. They’re at the bottleneck of a nightmare, fighting for their survival and his every nerve feels like it’s going to ignite. Fighting beside Katherine is an unfamiliar joy. Stefan can ride that edge of battle and she’s one less body in motion he has to figure out. Of course, compared to her, he feels clumsy, his merging personalities fixed not without some unwanted help. A melee’s no place for fancy moves, but next to her? She’s so fluid that it makes him want to snap every throw and land every kick.

“Now’s not the time to play,” he grumbles at hearing another pained yell from the so-called leader on his knees, his crushed useless hand dangling limply while his other has been rendered ineffective. Her hand is currently snug in his chest, and by the wheezing sounds, Stefan almost feels sorry for him. Almost.

Katherine looks up innocently, sly eyes betraying the expression behind, retorts, “Not to say I didn’t miss you, but an explanation is in order once we’ve gotten out of this mess.”

He frees the struggling elder Martin and tilts his head towards the exit. “Sorry, old man. The ripper’s out of the bag. Suppose you could focus your mojo on breaking the damn spell instead of me constantly staying invisible.”

Blondie must have regained her speech because she sticks her head back out with a gobsmacked expression plastered to her face. “You mean you’ve been here the whole time??!”

Stefan nods. “Since the party started, yeah. Sucks pretending to be Casper and watching all the pretty ladies walk past me. Come out, Forbes. Live large a little. I thought only Gilbert plays the damsel in distress.”

True to her predictability, Blondie takes the bait. “Oh, I’m sorry. I never signed up for gory techniques 101.”

Deftly avoiding the armchair thrown at him, followed by the werewolf number three’s launching attack, he yells, “If you ask nicely, I’ll teach you the easy way.”

“Like the time you went all hell loose in a concert?”

“Just snap their necks, Caroline,” Katherine cuts him off as she finally wrenches the leader’s heart out.

“Wait just a sec. Since when are you both on first name basis?” Stefan snaps the neck and grunts in pain when a stake pierces at his side, forcing him to lose momentum as his hand grapples at the stake, yanking it out. “Forbes quit hiding and help!”

Caroline very reluctantly crawls out from behind the plush couch and immediately gets assaulted by a duo tag-teaming Katherine. “I’ll take this snarly one. You take the other,” his sire demands, moving away to gain some distance. With some nifty footwork, she manages to impressively flip one of the broken table legs on the ground up to mid-thigh where she grabs it and shoves it right into the werewolf’s snarling mouth. “Bite that,” Katherine mutters. His golden rimmed irises go wide and his body stiffens before crashing loudly.

“Since you went MIA although I was under the impression you’d left town.”

“That’s what they wanted,” Stefan replies, deftly snapping another’s neck and moving to the remaining hunters. “I was holed up in the Fell basement for two fucking weeks. I don’t know what those witches did other than scrambling my brain but I’d tell ya, that doctor is a real piece of work. Cooked me up some overloaded cocktail and then pumped them in my veins. Nasty stuff but I’m cured.” He spread open his arms wide.

Katherine eyes him warily. “So are you Stefan Stefan or Ripper Stefan?”

He groans at the title usage. “Just call me Stefan, how about that? I no longer have the urge to put them back together. You bring down the barrier yet, pops?”

He can hear the elder Martin muttering as clear as day. “Stop calling me pops.” More muttering escapes from the corridor. “It’s strong, combined with Bennett’s power feeding the spell, it’s nearly impenetrable. But there seems to be a power conduit acting as the anchor points.” He hears a quiet click and then he hears the younger warlock cutting through the static.

Instructions are given quickly and the phone call goes dead. The elder Martin returns, surveying the shambled room for a moment, eyes roving over each of them before speaking, “My son is outside. Once he destroys the conduits, we can leave.”

Caroline drops into the half broken chaise tiredly. “I feel like I just ran a marathon,” she groans and then claps her hands, startling both him and Katherine. “That’s it! You’re the main reason why Elena looks exactly like you. All that running away. You’d literally gave someone else your predestined role.”

Katherine stalks over to her, reaching her in three strides, towering over the blonde. “I’m a survivor. I survive. You don’t make it this far without sacrificing something, someone..”

Stefan watches Blondie shoots up from her perch and begins pointing her index finger at his sire. Oh boy, here comes the bitch fest.

“Were you ever planning to tell me?”

“It’s not need to know, Forbes,” Katherine snaps.

“Yes, it is. Elena’s my friend. I grew up with her for heaven’s sake,” Caroline retorts, throwing her hands up exasperatedly, turning away to exit the room. She pivots back, facing Katherine. “I can’t believe you said that. I even helped you.”

“She can’t be saved, Caroline.” Katherine’s voice has taken a bittersweet tone. “We were doomed from the start.”

Blondie sighs. “It doesn’t matter. You help your friend. That’s what you do, even if we get killed. It still counts as something.”

 


 

Shall we play a game?

Happiness, to Elena, has always been an elusive comfort she could never have. She could see it in the faces around her. They smile and laugh with ease. They hug hello and again for goodbye. They dance merrily to the beat, lips stretched to the fullest. They talk excitedly about movies and new lovers. They drink good wine and have interesting hobbies. Why not her?

She chances a glance around the room; Bonnie has befriended a witch and they are, dancing together in the crowd. Uncle John and Aunt Jenna have gone off to mingle, and she assumes Damon has disappeared to charm some girls. She passed by Matt and Tyler loitering at the bar earlier, before deciding a breath of fresh air could clear her state of mind. Bring a serenity of peace to that nagging feeling which has been bothering her since.

Katherine’s betrayal.

She holds bits and pieces to a jumbled set of a puzzle containing her life purpose, tangled up in scattered bits of the older vampire’s history. Some pieces were missing, like the edges of the puzzle. No one starts the puzzle with the middle pieces. Where are the ends? Who holds them out of her reach?

At the front porch lies numerous display stands filled with amazingly well-crafted masterpieces while portable beams of light are hung above them, illuminating each artwork. She takes her time going through each and every painting. Many of them illustrate cities from different countries although there are a few portraits of animals (a white horse galloping in the night or a pack of wolves and its cubs playing).

She comes across one of the paintings, noting of the style seemed reminiscent of Monet. Each stroke had a smudging quality that rendered the image watery, like a reflection in a rippled puddle. The scene is a street, London Elena believes, the umbrella-bearing pedestrians battle against rain and the red double-deckers and black cabs rumble by. She shakes her head in wonder; it almost looks too real. She looks down at the gold-plated placard titled, “A Rainy Day by Niklaus Mikaelson.”

He sure is one aspiring globetrotter.

To be able to travel the world and paint one’s journeys is a life Elena would never dream of. She continues down the gallery and comes to a stop, gasping at the composition of the painting. In it depicts a beautiful young woman in long dreadlocks, wearing a cerulean linen tunic fitted with a leather sash belt. Both of her wrists are outfitted with tooled leather braces. Pooled at her feet lay several white roses scattered at the bottom half of the picture.

Elena takes a step closer and notices how the stroke lines are bold and the colors so vivid that this particular masterpiece overshadows every other artwork. It isn’t the similarity of features masterfully captured by the artist…

She is me.

Chapter Text

Front Patio, Lockwood Mansion

 

“There you are, lovely.”

A velvety suave voice interrupts her inner monologue while a set of footsteps is heard, and a looming dark presence takes the space on her right. It’s uncomfortable yet impressive in the way that it makes Elena’s stomach churn and her heart speeds up. Her head turns and she comes face to face with dark blonde tousled hair, a maverick pair of blue-green eyes accompanied by the tiniest smirk gracing those lips.

“Do… Do you mean me?” She all but squeaks, chiding herself internally at being caught unawares.

The gentleman chuckles, “Who else could I be speaking to? You’re the only one here, love.” He looks past her and his lips stretch wider into a smile that looks wrong on him. “I see you’ve found my greatest creation. She was truly a… delight to bring into the light.”

At hearing the words, her tongue goes dry and she stops breathing for just a second, and then the gears in her brain kick in. “You-You're… the artist… Nicklous….Mik”

He introduces with a grand bow, extending his hand out. “Niklaus Mikaelson at your service.”

Raised in a family with manners and civility, she returns, “Elena Gilbert.”

“Indeed you are,” Niklaus gives her a look-over, whistling, “The dress does look good on you.”

And I thought it was Elijah all along.

She fidgets in her dress at his remark. “Thank you but I think I better head inside,” Elena responds with a smile.

At the third step, she hears the artist call out, “Do you not want to know who the girl in the painting is?”

Elena pivots on her heel and juts her chin out in annoyance. “I already do. It’s Katherine. Who else shares my face?”

His grin stretches with her irritation increasing by a tenfold like a buzzing bee she wants nothing more to swat at. It makes her feel as though she’s walked into his trap.

Ignore him. He’s just spouting nonsense. He’s probably some vampire Katherine seduced.

Yet her feet stays rooted to the spot when he speeds right into her personal space. His fingers graze her cheek while his maniac eyes held her captive. It’s not compulsion; she's experienced enough to know.

His next words send her to a state of paralysis. “My dear Elena, I adore your naivety. It’s refreshing. Honestly, did you really think Katerina was the only doppelganger to have graced her existence in the new world... until your birth?”

Her brain short circuits and her eyes widen at the implication behind the words. How long had Katherine been running? She’d never think to ask the older vampire the right questions.

 

...caught the eye of a nobleman named Klaus. As in… Niklaus?

Why do we look exactly alike?

You’re not asking the right question.

You were born to die.

How old is Katherine?

 

The vampire turns away and faces the painting once more. “It seems a history lesson is in order. In the late tenth century, or better known as the Middle Ages, my brother and I came upon the most admirable, ethereal girl in a small village that is now called Mystic Falls. Her name was Tatia, the Original Petrova…”

 


 

Ching!

Jenna fishes out her phone from her clutch and unlocks the home screen. A few taps later, she discovers the source and her features paint a confused frown at the red pin moving further away.

“What is it?” John asks when his joke fails to garner a reaction from her. She shakes her head and touches his elbow as she moves past him. “Where are you going?”

“I’ll be right back,” Jenna answers. “It’s probably nothing.” She excuses herself from the small crowd hanging onto John’s every word as he continues his story. The red pin stops and Jenna takes a quick glance at the distance between her arrow mark and the stationary dot.

What could you possibly be doing outside in the cold alone, Elena?

The tracker pinpoints her to the front porch like Jenna had deduced. It had taken some time to maneuver around the crowd. The rooms were packed full and it felt as though she was in a maze filled with moving walls, what with the party-goers dancing without a care.

Almost there.

She moves around a smitten couple and flashes a smile at Bonnie standing by a long table filled with finger food and hors-d'oeuvres. The golden knobs of the front doors grow closer as she makes progress, sidestepping and avoiding jostling shoulders. Time seems to slow down around her surroundings. The music and the noise ebb into a muted, undecipherable white noise. Her fingers brush against the cold polish of brass and then another pale hand appears from the side.

Jenna blinks at the sudden switch and her arm is locked behind her back with a firm bruising grip. “Ow! What the-” A steely voice interrupts her confused mumbles. “If you value your life, Sommers, I suggest you stay indoors.”

She knows that cold-hearted tone anywhere. She growls and shifts her body in an attempt to free her arm. “Unhand me, bitch.”

“Tsk. And let you burst out through those doors? How stupid do you think I am?” Isobel snips from behind. Jenna could feel the vampire’s delight increasing at her own expense.

She breathes through the fresh wave of pain and gasps, “What do you want with Elena? She’s been through enough.”

“It’s not about what I want, Sommers. I want nothing to do with this dreary place, but my girlfriend does. So here I am, doing what needs to be done.”

Something wet touches her ear and Jenna yanks her head away.

Gross, did the crazy bitch just lick my ear with… with her tongue?! Stop flailing and think.

She wets her lips. “What does your girlfriend have to do with Elena?”

Yeah, let’s go with that… and maybe this time around, I’ll make headway.

Isobel chuckles, “Everything, Sommers. You already know her. From what I’ve been hearing in the grapevine, you and her are quite chummy together.”

Her head hurts from the whirlwind of information being thrown into her face.

 

Your niece’s life in exchange for my freedom…

It’s called the sun and moon curse.

I was her before she even existed.

It had to be Katherine. Who else could it be?

I trusted her…

 

Jenna grows still in hopes the hold would slacken but the pressure remains strong. “Stop. Stop… please. I- I can’t feel my arm,” she pleads. If she holds my arm any tighter, I’m going to lose all circulation.

Her savior comes to her rescue with his rich accented tone brooking a no-nonsense finality. “She would be a fool to make her escape in such close quarters with you so near, wouldn’t she, Isabella?”

She’d recognize that rich, modulated tone anywhere.

“M-M’l-lord, f-f-forgive me. Your brother wishes not to be disturbed,” stutters Isobel.

The painful grip loosens enough for Jenna to jerk herself bodily away from the bitch. The abrupt movement only served her a whirlwind of colors and blurred faces in her fuzzy vision. She stumbles backward with no sense of direction or balance while her hands extend to grasp for a solid object.

A pair of hands clamps down on both shoulders, flooding her with warmth and security. Jenna lets out an undignified squeak but manages to right her orientation. She must have looked quite like a drunken fool.

“Are you feeling quite alright, Miss Sommers?”

Now or never.

She pivots to find a dapper-looking man with slick short brown hair, outfitted in a navy blue three-piece Brioni suit and matched black leather Gucci Oxford. It was an odd contrasting sight comparing to that which she was first rudely introduced to.

 

 

<<Flashback>>

 

The doorbell rings for the third time. Jenna looks up from the glaring screen of her notebook as her fingertips rest against the keyboard. She voices her concern, “Don’t you think we should go check it out? Maybe one of the kids forgot their key…”

The other occupant only grunts but spares no effort in following through. She digs her toes hard into his ribcage, smiling inwardly at a disgruntled yelp. “By ‘we’, I meant you,” Jenna states nonplussed.

“Why can’t you go do it? I’m busy.”

Jenna raises a brow at his flippant remark. “You’re reading Doctor Who comics. I’m writing my dissertation. Move your lazy ass off the fucking couch.”

“Ignore it. It’ll stop eventually. Maybe they’ll think we’re not at home,” John snipes back.

“Our cars are parked outside, dumbass.”

The shrill ringing interrupts their argument. It’s not coming from the front door but from the kitchen. The phone! Someone’s calling the landline. Then comes the frantic non-stop knocking amidst the muffled shouts.

Could they be from the same person?

“Get up! Answer the phone, would ya? I’ll get the door.” Jenna shuts her laptop and tosses it next to the untouched bowl of popcorn on the couch. She follows up with a glare that has John flipping her the finger but has him doing as he is told. She could hear his grumbles all the way down the kitchen and the ringing stops at his irritated bark. “What?”

Jenna twists open the door handle to discover the strangest sight unfolding in front of her. A half-conscious young man dressed in full black attire is leaning heavily next to Katherine who seems to be fully supporting most of his weight. Both of them are dressed in formal attires whereas Elena is in her parka. However, the trio looked as though they came out from a forest, with stray leaves in their hair and dirt scuff marks on Elena’s pant legs.

“Oh thank heavens! Aunt Jenna, please help us. He needs-”

The hell…

“Is he doing here? He should be in the A&E!,” a huffed, irritated voice fills in and completes her train of thought. John squeezes past her and the narrow opening of the door frame.

Elena shakes her head. “He can’t go there… He’s um- not like us.” She ends with wringing her hands together.

“What do you mean he’s…” John jerks his whole body back as though he’s been violently slapped. “No, just no. We are not inviting any more vampires in!” He completes with a vehement hiss and whips around to glare at her.

Jenna looks at his furious expression and then scans the doppelgangers, one pleading and the other exasperated by the drama unfolding. The older one snaps, “If you’re not going to be useful, I’m bringing him to my place.”

Elena argues back, “But we have nothing there to-”

“I don’t care. It beats holding him up while you three just stand around and I’m the one who’s fully supporting him,” Katherine glares. “By the way, he’s fucking heavy and I’m wearing stilettos.”

Jenna looks back and forth of those two bicker while the unconscious vampire has slumped further into Katherine’s side. She raises both hands up to quell them, catching both their gazes and says, “He can come in.”

There is a whoosh followed by a draft of cold wind hitting her in the face. She hears the huff and mutterings of foreign cursing coming from behind her. Still blinking at the sight of an empty porch, Jenna shuts the front door in a daze. She follows the source of the commotion where Elena darts out of the bathroom with a half-filled basin and a damp cloth draped on the side. Katherine has divested the stranger of his jacket, leaving him sprawled on the floor in the middle of their living room. She takes the damp cloth and wrings it dry over the basin, before rolling up his left bloodstained shirt sleeve and revealing a nasty deep bite.

Jenna gasps at the deep mangled flesh wound and hastens to help. Towels, I need gauze, antibiotics, lots of it, she thinks. A solid block intercepts her path and she is met with a serious John holding her arm in a vice grip. “Are you out of your daft mind, Sommers? Just so you know, there’s no undo button to inviting vampires like him. Now he can come and go as he pleases!”

He leaves it at that but Jenna isn’t done. There was something in his gravel tone that niggles at the back of her mind. She tugs him away into Grayson’s work den and locks the door. His finger touches her lips before she could even speak. A sports commentary fills the room and then only then does his hand fall away from her.

“Katherine is also a vampire. You didn’t have a problem with her until now,” Jenna whispers.

He shakes his head and takes a seat, grumbling. “She and I had a mutual agreement.” At her befuddled expression etched across her features, he sighs “Getting rid of the Salvatore brothers. She wanted them out of the way and I had the means to get the job done if a certain witch hadn’t poked her nose into it. If you’d read Johnathan’s journals, you know Stefan was- is a Ripper. He has stalked and feasted on our ancestors like this was his backyard. So yeah, we furthered each other’s goals.” His hand gestures wildly towards the door as he continues ranting. “We know nothing about this guy. Nothing, Jenna. Aren’t you the least bit afraid?!”

 

<<End Flashback>>

 

 

A school of butterflies flutters in her stomach as she wrestles against the strange sensation to pull away. She clears her throat instead and eyes him appreciatively, “You cleaned up nicely.”

“Thank you for not kicking me out,” the brunet quirks a closed smile. “I’m Elijah Michaels. It’s a pleasure to meet you, Jenna.”

And her cue to introduce herself disappears…

Fuck.

This is so awkward… Why- What am I doing?

Her palms sweat against the side of her dress that her hand itches to touch something. Anything. She tucks a couple of stray hairs back behind her ear while her eyes scan the dance floor past him.

He extends an open palm towards her as his lips quirk upwards and all she could do is blink stupefied. She must have heard him wrong, surely. Time stops in between the space they stand and then the music track switches to a slower song. “Have a dance with me,” Elijah repeats.

“Oh I don’t think that would be wise, my lord. This commoner only has the knowledge of millennials’ dance techniques. Save your feet the risk of painful missteps from my clumsiness,” Jenna teases.

He lets loose a low chuckle and wiggles his fingers with an air of cheekiness in return. “Leave the technicalities to me and go with the flow, m’lady. That is the common practice these days, is it not? Dive in and worry not until one reaches the crossroads.”

She has to give it to him. He does know how to sweet-talk his way into a favorable outcome. Her hand touches her chest with a dramatic flair. “Oh, how could I ever refuse a Lord’s request?” She takes his hand with caution and is surprised to feel an engulfing warmth spreading from her limb to her toes.

He’s a vampire, remember. They’re warm when at full strength, John’s voice nags at the back of her mind.

He places his hand on her waist and then whisks her onto the dance floor. True to his words, he leads her with a purposeful clarity. They glide from place to place and they twirl around the others, like a ribbon flowing in the winding swirl of colors.

 

 

They must have danced for a full two hours and time passed so quickly around them. The dance floor has opened up at some point and the crowd seems to have thinned out. She turns her gaze towards the closed front doors and takes note of the disappearance of Isobel.

“He only wishes to have a private chat. She will not be harmed, that I can assure you with confidence,” says Elijah who must have caught onto her train of thought. “Come. You may ask me anything.” He leads her away towards the open bar and further away from the front patio. He pushes a high stool towards her while the other holds onto her hand for balance.

“Is this about the sun and moon curse?” Jenna questions with a frown etched across her features.

He looks at her with curiosity shining in his eyes. “And when uponce did you come across this?”

She replies plainly, “Katherine told me. She said she left after discovering what your brother tried to hide from her.”

 


 

“Did she?”

This was news. Katerina always kept her cards close to her vest, only revealing them when it was favorable to her and her alone. So why would she reveal the truth of the past to an outsider? Has she changed for the better as Rose had observed or did she have another hidden motive? What hand does Isabella have in siding with Klaus? Did they have a sudden falling out?

How very interesting… but it does complicate matters. He can’t assure how many casualties will be caught if Katerina and Isabella are playing up each side. Should Klaus catch wind of those two…? There would be no mercy. None will survive his rage.

Jenna’s still rambling on about the fabled curse. “I mean it kind of makes sense to a peculiar witches brew.” Her hands gesture all over the place as she speaks, “You need all of these ingredients to unlock some old curse that binds one supernatural species to its natural element - be it a vampire to the sun or... a- a wolf to the moon. I just never quite understood the nature of doppelgangers and their origins. How many of them are there? Surely, there are more than one in existence.”

“There can only be one doppelganger in existence for every half-millennial from the sparse research I could obtain from the centuries I've searched,” Elijah comments. “To answer your primary question regarding Elena's role requires a story to be told. One borne of survival and self-preservation bred a gruesome discovery.” He takes a breath and his lips thin in solemnity. “In a nutshell, let it be said if it weren't for my dearest mother, vampires would still be a myth. We were humans once upon a millennium ago, and lived during the werewolves’ reign. When the moon turned full and rose into the night, the villagers hid in the underground caves while they roamed free. This went on for about twenty odd years of living in fear. Then the unthinkable came in the form of an accident in my youngest brother’s death. It caused a flurry of panic and instinct drove my mother, a witch, to create a spell that would turn us immortals.”

Elijah pauses and looks down at his hands, his expression turns to one of sorrow. “I’m so sorry for your loss,” Jenna apologizes and refutes, “But this doesn’t explain h-”

“For the spell to work required tremendous power and thus, my mother used the blood of a human doppelganger as a binding agent. My brother and I both happened upon this lovely and so very brave beauty named Tatia. She was exquisite and profoundly different than the rest of the village girls. How my mother knew of her being a doppelganger was stupendous,” explains Elijah.

Jenna grips the countertop ledge as the onslaught of information tumbles out. “You mean to tell me that Elena’s blood is one of the ingredients… for this spell to be free vampires from the sun?” She stares at him in confusion. “But you could just go to the blood bank for her blood.”

He shakes his head and looks away. “We could except when we completed our transformation, we discovered a horrifying detail. My brother had werewolf lineage in his blood. Upon his first human kill, it triggered his werewolf side and he turned into those gigantic beast howling in the night on an uncontrollable rampage. I found him later at dawn break; he was covered in blood-tattered clothes surrounded by mangled bodies parts strewn everywhere on the forest floor.”

 


 

Front Patio, Lockwood Mansion

The bluish-green hue in his irises seems to have been amplified in his gallivanting gestures, causing her to take a tiny step back. Elena inches further back as he continues the recounting of his first kills and flinches when the gleam in his eyes grow crueler. “It was exhilarating to be free, agile, and so wonderfully strong. My father hated my guts. I was the bastard’s son and my mother kept me a secret until that fateful day. The day my first love was killed and her blood spilled to bind my cursed werewolf side into dormant.”

Her head spins as she lets out a gasp, shaking her head in denial. “N-n-no… You’re lying!”

The paralyzing hurt spread throughout her body like an icy sheet coating her in its coldness. Her fists clench while her feet tremble with each hesitant step backward.

He looks at her with half-pity and amusement as though her plight was entertainment. “Why would I lie?” He takes a step forward. “Were you so taken into the allure of Katerina that you didn’t stop to wonder why you share the same genetics? She had that same trait as Katerina, you know? All the villagers wanted to be her suitors. She tore us apart with her charm until my brother stole her love.”

She fights the impulse to whirl around and escape into the oblivious crowd inside, away from the disturbing truth. His fingers catch her chin and tilt her face upwards as his maniacal glint of fang protrudes out from his closed smirk. “My dear Elena, should you try to escape like Katherine did, I will burn this quaint little town to the ground and everyone you love will share the same fate as yours. You wouldn’t want that,” the artist’s voice drops a decibel and while keeping one finger under her chin, he maneuvers behind her.

“I have watched you around your family and friends. You’re caring, thoughtful, and loyal towards all of them. You are everything that she is not. Now I know you will do the right thing, Elena.” Niklaus whispers into her ear. Fire in the form of water threatens to break past her nut-brown eyes. Her jaw turns taut and her teeth crush her bottom lip to quell the whimper.

“Soon you will be the last doppelganger and then the cycle will cease to exist. You will have fulfilled your destiny,” remarks Niklaus.

Chapter Text

“Only enemies speak the truth;

friends and lovers lie endlessly,

caught in the web of duty.”

- Stephen King

 

Lockwood Mansion

They’re back. There is no mistaking of the odd pair - the pixie-haired librarian and her dark-skinned companion are dressed to the nines and making their way towards the south wing. He remembered that horrific night so vividly as though it was only yesterday and not a couple of months back. Caroline dropped like a sack and he had blacked out too despite being the soberest participant in the concert. It had to be unnatural like magic. Surely, those fantastical beliefs exist right? They had vampires roaming about in the town.

Hell, come to think about it... The first time he saw her in the school library, the pixie brunette was picking up stray books left on tables and stacking them neatly onto the trolley. She was polite and demure with spectacles. She had even helped him with his literature assignment once. She disappeared so quickly he barely had time to blink and then she magically appeared from behind. He recalled jumping three feet in the air before the hardcover copy was thrust into his hands.

Titled as ‘The Comedy of Errors,’ it depicted a nonsensical tale centered around accidentally separated sets of identical twins at birth leading their family and friends into a series of wild mishaps based on mistaken identities and false accusations of infidelity, theft, madness, and demonic possession.

He tracks their movements as they enter from the sliding glass doors. What are they doing here?

Maybe they’ve returned to cause more trouble, an imaginary Tinkerbell flutters its delicate wings above his shoulders, tickling the underside of his chin.

It wouldn’t be hard, he notes, but there’d be a stampede to squeeze out through the narrow doors. What were the Lockwoods even thinking of hosting a blanket party?! Even the catering service crew looks unrecognizable. They’ve always used Enchanted Catering for years.

What gives?

He weaves through the crowded room with eagle-like eyes and slumps behind a couple, using them as a physical human barrier. Pressing his back against the curtained wall, Matt frowns in curiosity at their odd actions. From the tiny gap, the dark-skinned teenager looks as though he is rubbing something between his palms, an orange glow reflecting off his white shirt.

Could it be a candle?

The pixie-haired taller companion plants herself in front of him, easily blocking the suspicious activity. The shorter figure then stops and they walk towards the far side of the wall and the process repeats.

Matt follows them while staying at a safe distance. Just-in-case they don’t try anything funny that ends with him in a coffin. The idea leaves a stale coffee taste in his mouth that he did contemplate shoving some mini hot dogs to override the ugly thought.

There seems to be a strange pattern those two are following. It just eludes him for some unimaginable reason. Could it be them casting a forgetful spell over the household? Surely not.

He’s missing something… but what could it be?

The younger accomplice always stops at the outer sides of the rooms, bending over a potted plant, does that odd thing like he’s praying, and then fishes out something small that you could hide in your fist.

Feeling as though he was being watched, he ducks behind a waiter decked in white, holding the metal circular tray with steadiness. Matt pops his head a couple of seconds later in the direction of where he last saw the duo but they’re gone, leaving no signs of which doors they’ve exited from.

He lost them in the endless sea of moving bodies.

 


 

Dimly lit Corner 

“Not to point out the obvious, but you have work to do,” says the dark-skinned witch as she saunters towards the alabaster vampire who has her latest conquest pinned to the wall of the connecting corridor.

“Shush. Don’t ruin my fun, witch. Do you not like parties?” Her pale skin contrasts starkly against bloodstained lips whisper seductively against the poor girl’s bruised neck scattered of bite marks.

“Fleming, we have a window of opportunity. Let’s not waste it,” Greta deadpans with folded arms and leans against the wall with a perpetual annoyed look.

She clicks her tongue, letting it hit the roof of her mouth soundly. Then she turns to the masked frightened prey and smiles sweetly. “Run along now.” Rolling her eyes, she stalks back towards the masses and easily pinpoints the brooding unmasked figure slouching by the open bar with his back facing her.

Perfect.

Pushing her way through the constant flow of masked dancers, Isobel slinks behind Damon and rests her hand on the empty high back stool with a purr. “Is this seat taken?” She doesn’t wait for an answer and eyes his glass of amber liquid and the golden glow of the glass-like cubes. She pokes them with her perfectly manicured nail to hear them jingle in the pre-dawn silence. They bounce back up, remaining mostly submerged like mini icebergs. Wrapping her long fingers around the glass, she feels her heat leech into the alcoholic drink. Ah, the elixir of life. She raises the glass to sip, feeling the keen familiar burn on her tongue and throat.

She hears his grunt and feels a deep-etched scowl plastered on his expression. “Back for a second round of thrashing?”

With a faint smile creeping in the corner of her lips, Isobel lowers the glass back to the table and rests her head in her right hand, taking note of the red lipstick on the rim. She glances at him with an uncaring shrug. “Thought you could use some company.”

He scoffs and snatches his glass away from her. He throws his drink back in one giant gulp. “Because misery loves company. Yeah right. Did Katherine ditch you too -  since she and Elena are so buddy-buddy.”

Underneath the cacophony of dull white noise blaring from the surrounding overhead speakers, she picks apart a distinctive string of mutterings in an ancient tongue. ‘Merabas hic libatal, confremun signas, omus quisa tentum exalis. Merabas hic libatal, confremun signas, omus quisa tentum exalis.’  It’s only a matter of time till the boundary spell weakens, now with Lord Elijah’s reinforcements spilling in.

She turns back to Damon with a sly smirk forming in the crease of her dark lips. “Maybe you’re right and we’re drowning in our miseries whilst she’s having all the fun.” She leans closer and drops her tone by a decibel. “We can have our own kind of fun. We don’t need her validation. What do you say?”

Her hips lift and she shimmies her body out of the tight space between hers and his, heels clicking against the tiled floor. His eyes burn intently at her backless dress with every move she saunters back towards the quiet connecting hallway where the impatient witch waits. She hears - feels him coming closer. His hands grip her shoulders and she finds herself pinned against the wall with his crushing weight. His large hands go straight for her neck and they squeeze hard. In her arrogant triumph, Isobel smirks - just a small pouting of the lips, a narrowing of the eyes, and a tilting of the head.

“She was right about you.”

“And what’s that?” Damon snarls in contempt.

“You’ve always been the weaker one.”

And then his hands leave her and clutches his head in pain, his dark eyes rolling back as he screams. He staggers backward and drops to the ground in an unconscious heap.

She meets Greta’s eyes and nods. The bait is set.

 


Southeast Wing

This has to be the best spot. Situated by the long table draped in silken cloth displays an assorted variety of desserts ranging from lemon tarts, rhubarb creme brulee, orange blossom cakes, minted fresh strawberries, meringues so beautifully shaped it was a pity to eat them, to apple strudels served with ice cream. There are decadent chocolate bonbons that ooze rum cream on the first bite. Drinks for the children ranged from orange juice to candy apple punch, whereas the grown-ups have a choice of waterfall wine chiller and champagne fountain that sparkled with flames.

Her stomach does an ecstatic cartwheel when she feasts her eyes upon the inviting strudel with a ruby red cherry perched atop the drizzle of gooey syrup. Mouth foaming uncontrollably, she almost neglects to pick up the spoon as her hand eagerly reaches for the delectable dessert. The first bite isn’t what Bonnie expects and suddenly the enticing selection turns into a blur and random images seem to float aimlessly in the pool of her muddled brain as though they are blown about by a vicious hurricane. A tap on her shoulder jolts her back to the outside world, but after a second she feels lost again. As she turns to face the person, the image of this nameless boy blurs with the spinning world. His lips move but no sound escapes. Bonnie gets the notion that she is being led somewhere else. The back of her legs hit something soft and she stumbles backward until she lands on some foreign comfortable surface.

Several blinks later, Bonnie snaps back to focus yet her body feels weak as though someone has sapped her energy away. Confusion must have blossom onto her facial expression when the dark-skinned teenager looks at her and then holds up a strange-like clear stone.

“Do you know what this is?”

Bonnie slowly shakes her head. “I’ve never seen it before. What is it?”

“This is a quartz crystal witches use normally in spells and rituals. It can be used to act as a focus of power, allowing it to enhance the potency of one’s magick. In this case, my sister scattered four of these in different sections of the house to act as anchor points for the boundary spell to work.”

“She told me a powerful warlock was chasing her. You broke it, didn’t you?” Bonnie deduces.

“I did. You put us all at risk,” the teenager snaps in exasperation.

“What are you even talking about?”

“She was testing you and you fell right for it! I can’t believe a Bennett witch could be so beguiled into a trap,” he exclaims angrily.

“Hey!” Bonnie retorts. “It’s kinda hard being the only witch in town and everybody else is either a human or vampire. How am I supposed to tell who’s good or bad?”

His silent female partner pats his arm gently but he brushes her off with a temperamental huff. She says, “Don’t mind him. He’s just annoyed it took longer than expected to bring it down. I’m Rose by the way and the grouchy one is Luka.”

Rose cracks a friendly smile before sobering. “I bet you don’t know who Niklaus Mikaelson is, do you?”

As if on cue, she feels a sudden draft of cold air blasting her head on and she blinks in confusion when she recognizes the trio standing in front of her. Blue irises snap onto hers, and then Caroline Forbes blurs right up to the sofa where Bonnie is sitting. “Bonnie, have you seen Elena?”

She nods and replies, “Yeah. She said she wanted to get some air.”

“How long was that?” Bonnie shrinks back to find a murderous-looking Katherine flanked behind Caroline.

“I-I don’t know. Maybe an hour ago, I think. What does this have to do with E-” Bonnie begins and then sputters to a stop at the sight of the other Salvatore brother. “Wait… I thought you left town.”

She looks around each of them all portraying mixed expressions of solemnity, anger, disappointment, and fear. “What the hell is going on?” Bonnie demands and then regrets her choice of words when Elena’s reflection glares at her and takes one slow step towards her. “I should kill you for abetting with that witch’s heinous plans.”

She faintly hears Caroline defending her while someone else snatches her and shoves her back and out of the way. “Calm down. The poor girl doesn’t know anything,” Rose sidesteps the wavy brunette who seems unperturbed by the blonde’s attempts to widen the gap.

“I. Am. Calm,” Katherine grits out. “Now get out of my way.”

Caroline jumps in. “Yeah. No way. You have that same expression like Elena does when people say no.”

Bonnie sees it first, behind the gangly forms of Rose and Luka blocking her from the ferocious brunette. Katherine’s hazel eyes widen and her breaths turn ragged. She grows still and there’s a slight tremble in her hands before she covers her hand over her mouth. “It’s him. He’s here. Shit!”

Bonnie hears a quiet whoosh and then a window gets flung open two seconds later much to some of the partygoers’ fright. She looks around and notices all the vampires’ faces pale in different shades. Caroline’s lips form an ‘O’ and she too disappears out of sight, with Stefan following behind.

“Is someone going to fill me in or is this a guessing game?” Bonnie asserts amidst the sudden awkward silence within the group. Rose turns towards her and sits primely back against the couch. She pats at the empty spot beside her.

“Come, sit and I’ll explain.”

Luka mutters, “We don’t need her. She’ll ruin everything.”

The elder Martin lays his hand on his son’s shoulders and looks at Bonnie with a patient smile. “Give her a chance, son. She’s a Bennett witch and all witches are family regardless of which clan they hail from.”

Bonnie replies, “I’m sorry we got off to a bad start, sir. Please tell me how I can help. I won’t screw it up.” She turns to Luka apologetically. “Elena’s one of my best friends. If she’s in this mess because of me, then please tell me how to set things right.”

 


Northwest Wing

Jenna leans against the open bar, her golden locks lying over one shoulder of her sequinned dress. She tilts her head to one side, pushing out her red lips just a little. She isn’t that far gone yet, but she prefers to give the impression that she is. The bartender is young, cute, and impeccably quick to take her order, his eyes dropping only momentarily to her low-cut neckline. She downs another row of shots before the familiar frown swims into her view, killing her buzz instantly.

“Okay, you’re done. We’re going home,” John pulls the remaining shot glass away and inconspicuously moves the rest out of her reach.

“Don’t spoil my fun, Gilbert. I’m just getting started,” she slurs as he places one hand at her waist while she slings an arm around his neck. He helps her stand and holds her with surprising gentleness when she wobbles on her heels, her legs buckling a little before she catches herself.

“What about Elena? We can’t leave her here,” Jenna protests.

“I’ll come back for her… or I can have Donovan send her home,” John suggests.

They take their sweet time navigating through the throng, choosing to stick closer to the outer walls than attempt to push their way through the tangled moving bodies and limbs. It is only when they finally reach the half-open side doors that Jenna turns to John with a question that has been bugging her since her recent talk with the most handsome vampire she has ever encountered.

“Did you know about Katherine and Isobel being together?”

John lets out a long sigh and looks past the row of vehicles parked at Lockwood’s driveway. “I always knew they were close, like besties, but I never realized that Isobel and she were working against me. Two of the world’s most uncaring and selfish vampires, and yet they are genuinely friends.”

“I have another question,” Jenna starts to John’s amusement. “You’re full of questions tonight.”

Her head nods as she sways on the narrow winding path while John does his best to keep her on the lane. He guides her toward the passenger side of the SUV and his hand pulls at the latch. The door swings open and Jenna feels his hand on her back as she hoists herself up into the seat. She grabs onto the niggling thought simultaneously as her own hands grab at John’s attempts to buckle her in. They hold on to the insanity of an idea forming and before she loses the nerve to dismiss the lunacy. Jenna blurts out, “Can an Original vampire be killed?”

 


 

The Gilbert Residence

She dimly recalls biding ‘good night’ to Matt as her leaden feet drag themselves up the front porch steps and stepping into the comforts of her home. They shuffle up the winding flight of stairs and Elena steps into the dark confines of her bedroom. She doesn’t bother turning on the lights. What’s the point? I know where everything is placed.

There are no surprise visitors tonight. She feels saddened and relieved for the first time. She strips her dress quickly and slips into her pajamas. It’s well past midnight but her thoughts are too scattered and with the whirlwind of information thrown at her, sleep doesn’t come. Instead, Elena finds herself entering the adjoined bathroom door and her eyes glance towards the further end of the ajar door leading into Jeremy’s room.

In her mind, she knows he’s not there and yet she feels this need to check. To confirm what she already knows it to be. His room is the same as ever, except there is a touch of neatness; Jenna must have cleaned recently. He’d always left clothes lying around the floor, his school bag thrown haphazardly near the door as if waiting for its next victim. She sits at the edge of his bed and her hand smooths imaginary lines of the comforter away.

It’s your life or mine. Why did you have to be the one to open the door, Jer? It should have been me.

Elena gently lies at the foot of his bed, curling her body. There’s this humming feeling of being coiled too tightly underneath her skin and sinew and bone that she’s been steadily ignoring for the past week. It’s the same yearning to break free and run forever, anything to leave behind the past and prophecy, but she stays put. The stakes are set in place. Even if she did run, she has nowhere to go. He’ll come for her and she knows it.

She can feel it in her bones.

Her eyes closed and as her breathing slows, she feels a tender warmth lighting her face. She wakes up to a field of daffodils, each one is a perfect sunny yellow like a golden trumpet amid a fanfare of halo petal. There are many, but so delicate, and they wave like tomorrow is a brand new day.

It’s not real.

It’s just another dream and sure enough, she spots her doppelganger lying on top of a picnic tarp. Elena feels bile rising in her throat and her hand unintentionally crushes a couple of daffodils as she angrily stomps towards the lounging vampire.

“Haven’t you done enough?” Elena yells. She waves at the conjured dreamscape violently. “I don’t want you here in my head anymore. Please just leave me alone.” Her tone wavers and even she herself could hear the brokenness in it.

How long must she drown in the cycle of the past in order to be freed?

She drops to her knees and finds herself seeking for Katherine’s touch.

Why is she seeking comfort from someone who started this mess, the circle of torment and pain and death?

The answer comes unbidden to her. It’s because Katherine understands the shadows of Elena’s heart and the dim shimmer of her eyes, for they have both come to an understanding of sacrifice. The conflicting of emotion and the truth sing through their veins and tremble in their fingers, where they curl desperately through the soft hem of Elena’s shirt at her stomach. Katherine’s lungs shatter beneath the overwhelming, conquering weight of a sob and the ache for every moment she once had in the past, denied this emotion its liberty.

Elena breaks apart; her life is nothing but a puppet attached to strings from above, and Katherine only strums quivering fingers through her brown hair and waits, tender kisses dotting the crown of her head to her temple and down her shoulders.

“How can every move I make feel this important, when we are still so small?” Elena wonders breathily, hurt weakening the strength of her voice and drawing it through Katherine’s ear with a shaky breath which makes her quake in sympathy.