This is my first attempt at a multi-chapter fic with something of an actual plot *heart beats nervously* – it won't be anything too long or serious, but will delve a little more into the Original family dynamic and the depth of Elena's relationship with Elijah. I'll try not to rush it too much, but that is something I have difficulty with (I'm just impatient that way). So it'll be an experiment!

Disclaimer: if I owned TVD the Originals never would have left the show, and I would be lounging out by the pool at one of my multiple mansions around the world drinking a frozen margarita or a nice glass of good scotch – no ice.

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"I have a proposition for you."

Elijah should have known better than to have opened the mansion door for her earlier, considering how tense things were between her and his family, but he had not been able to resist the sound of her thundering heartbeat and the lingering scent of her honeysuckle shampoo. His weakness for her, his desire to be near her, could be the cause of her death.

Now she sat across from him in the living room, tensely perched on the edge of the leather couch. Klaus sat next to him on the other sofa, while Kol lounged casually with one leg over the edge of an armchair. Rebekah had refused to sit, standing behind Kol with crossed arms and glaring at Elena with ill-concealed hatred. Elijah knew his little sister was itching to get her hands on the doppelganger.

Elijah himself had nearly wanted to kill Elena when he'd found out about her part in his mother's plot to kill her children. He'd been furious, and had acted reprehensibly towards her to save his family from their ultimate demise. He honestly hadn't expected to see her after leaving his letter in her bedroom, planning on leaving town immediately, and now he fidgeted under her soft brown gaze, feeling awkward in a way he hadn't been in years.

"What kind of a proposition?" Klaus asked slyly, cocking his head. "What can you possibly think you have to offer us, now that you almost succeeded in killing our family?"

She swallowed, folding her hands in her lap, but met the hybrid's stare unflinchingly. "If you're fishing for an apology, Klaus, you won't get it from me," she said haughtily, her voice dripping with acid. "I saw a way out of this mess you have created in my town, and I took it. What's done is done."

Klaus growled. Elijah cleared his throat, quickly jumping in to do some damage control. "What exactly is it you're here to say, Elena?" he asked, gently but firmly. He kept all emotion out of his voice.

"I want you to leave," she said definitively, her head high. "All of you. Leave Mystic Falls and its inhabitants in peace, and never come back."

Klaus snorted. "That's quite a demand, little doppelganger. I don't see that happening. You live here, remember? I can't very well leave my secret ingredient behind." He smirked.

"I wasn't finished," she snapped irately, her eyes flashing. "So for once in your miserable existence, shut up," she spat vehemently.

Kol laughed gleefully. Rebekah bared her teeth. The smirk fell from Klaus's face, and he glared at her threateningly.

Elijah held up a hand, signaling his siblings to be still. "Please, continue," he said to her, fighting his own amusement.

She took a deep breath and exhaled through her nostrils. Her heartbeat had calmed down a tad, thumping steadily within her chest.

"If you were to leave and never come back," she said quietly, "I would go with you."

Silence reigned. It had been a long time since anyone had shocked them, but here they sat, stunned, unable to even respond. Rebekah's mouth opened and closed like a fish, Kol's eyebrows disappeared into his hair, Klaus's blue eyes were wide and trained hotly on hers, and Elijah just stared at a spot on the carpet next to her shoe, his mind suddenly blank.

She cleared her throat, shifting restlessly on the couch. "Leave here immediately, and I will disappear with you. I will go wherever you go, travel around the world with you as you see fit. And," she added pointedly to Klaus, wringing her hands, "I will willingly let you draw one vial of my blood once a month, and not a drop more…for the next five years."

Klaus was speechless. Elijah's eyes snapped to hers – she was staring back at him. She looked dejected, forlorn…but resolved. He hated the sadness he saw in her eyes, hated the weight that settled on her shoulders; he hated that she was giving up. And he hated that he was partially to blame.

"I would expect you to protect me from harm, of course – I would be your ward, essentially," she continued, her voice level and calm. "I would also expect you to treat me with kindness and respect. I will not be your prisoner, I will not be your pet, and I will not be your blood bag. You will never refer to me as 'doppelganger' and always call me by my given name. The blood you receive from me will be freely given; a donation, if you will. And you will remain within the parameters I set." Her eyes were narrowed, fixed on Klaus. "I'll require you to sign a written agreement, binding you magically to your word. I may not be able to kill you," she said quietly, her voice full of poison, "but I sure as hell can make you suffer."

Klaus swallowed, looking almost nervous. He was leaning forward with his elbows on his knees, resting his chin on the backs of his folded hands.

Elijah regarded her with a newfound respect. He had always held Elena in high esteem, her compassionate nature and regard for human life appealing to his innate sense of honor; they also had similar values when it came to family. But now he truly saw her strength, her steely determination. She was tougher than he had originally thought. This was not a girl to be underestimated, coddled and treated with kid gloves, but rather one to be admired and respected. He hadn't realized, until now, just how rigid her backbone was; she would never break.

She hadn't given up, he decided – she'd merely given in. There was a difference.

"Why?" Kol piped up, more curious than anything.

"Why does it matter why?" she countered impatiently. "I'm offering a truce. I'm giving you everything you want on a silver platter. No more annoying Mystic Falls residents throwing a wrench in your plans at every turn; the ability to build your army of hybrids or whatever." The way she said it, with her hands posturing, made the whole idea sound ridiculous; Klaus frowned, irritated that his dream had just been made light of. "You will have me, and Mystic Falls will be free of you. Everybody wins."

"Everybody except you," Elijah murmured, staring at her.

Klaus leaned forward, his eyes narrowing. "Precisely. I have a hard time believing that you would give up everything just like that to jaunt off around the world with us for five years."

She sighed. She smiled at his half-brother gently, but it was only a parody of a smile, tight and bitter, and it did not reach her eyes.

"You're both wrong," she said softly, sadly. "If I were to stay here, this war between us would continue to rage. If leaving everything behind means that this will stop, then I will go gladly. You see Klaus, if I don't give up everything, it will be taken from me anyway. People I care about would die for me; my existence brought you to this place, and I would be responsible for their deaths. I would rather give my friends and family a chance to live."

She paused, shook her head. "I wouldn't expect you to understand. Sometimes you have to make sacrifices. This town and the people in it are everything to me. So yes, if I have to give it all up and never look back in order for them to be safe, I will. So, in a way, I do win."

"How selfless of you," Rebekah drawled nastily.

"Actually, it's rather self-serving," Elena responded bluntly. "I suppose my own selfish desire is to see the people I love thrive and grow old and experience life to the fullest; that would make me happy. So my selflessness is a result of my selfishness."

When she lifted her head to look at the blond Original, her eyes were filled with anger and hatred; the fire in them belied her neutral face. Gone was any trace of compassion. It made Rebekah shift uncomfortably, unfamiliar with the expression in Elena's eyes.

"But like I said," Elena drawled, equally nastily, "I wouldn't expect you to understand. You've forgotten what it's like to put someone else before yourself – that is if you ever knew it to begin with."

Rebekah hissed and launched herself at the girl, fangs bared. Elena didn't even blink, merely sat calmly on the couch as Elijah intercepted his sister and flung her across the room. She crashed into a wall and knocked down a painting, but was immediately up again, glaring at Elijah vituperatively. She grabbed a side table and ripped the leg off, brandishing the stake towards her eldest present brother, growling threateningly.

"Think twice about what you intend to do with that, Rebekah," he warned quietly, cracking his knuckles, his eyes challenging. "I think we both know how that would play out."

"Enough, sister!" Klaus barked sharply. "You know better than to challenge our brother. It won't end well for you. Now sit," he commanded, gesturing to the chair at the end of his sofa.

She sent one last glare Elena's way and then huffed childishly, dropping the make-shift stake and plopping herself down into the armchair. She crossed her arms and her face contorted into something that looked suspiciously like a pout. Elijah thought then about how immature she really was – she had never aged a day past seventeen, he realized. Elena, with a fraction of their time here on earth, was far more mature than his spoiled sister.

He sat down again, brushing away imaginary dirt on his pants. "Alright, Elena. Say we agree to this little…arrangement you've come up with. What happens after five years?"

She cocked her head, meeting his stare. Brown clashed with brown. "You kill me."

"Kill you?" asked Klaus skeptically, exasperated. "Why on earth would you want that?"

"Isn't it obvious?" she countered harshly. "If you kill me or turn me, I cannot bear children. The Petrova line will end with me, and I can rest knowing that no descendant of mine will ever fall prey to your schemes, ever have to go through what I have been through." Her voice was but a whisper now, full of passion. Her eyes narrowed on Klaus. "There will never be another doppelganger. That curse ends with me."

They were all dumbfounded, unsure of how to respond. She saved them the trouble.

"Think about it," she said flatly, standing and grabbing her keys from the coffee table. "You have 24 hours. After that, my offer is null and void, and death and destruction are sure to follow; and believe me, we'll give as good as we get," she snarled. "Who knows: maybe I'll be killed in the crossfire…and then I won't have any blood left to give."

She smiled wanly and raised an eyebrow, smoothing her dress down her thighs; then she turned her back on them and walked to the door.

Her hand turned the knob, and Klaus spoke.

"Elena."

She paused, turned to look at him.

"Pack your bags."

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First chapter down – more to come soon. There will be a little Elena/Elijah interaction starting in the next chapter. No smut or anything – I'm trying to take this slower, though I can't make any promises – but just a little hint of the deep emotional connection between them and of the intense relationship they will eventually have with each other.

Read and review!