Notes: A short WIP, maybe three or four chapters long. I just want to say that I hope we don't lose Katherine from the show any time soon, because she is so great for creating general mayhem and dangerous, angst-inducing situations for our heroes to work their way out of...



The night air was icy and clear. Midwinter, closer to dawn than dusk, the quiet was all-encompassing as he came from the cover of trees onto the road in a flicker of inhuman speed.

He reached the threshold of the bridge before slowing to a walk. His chest didn't heave. He didn't pant heavily, breath misting in the chill. He showed no signs of exertion or distress, physical or otherwise. That wasn't what was needed here.

"Damon, I was hoping you'd make it. These things are always so much more satisfying with an audience."

There in the middle of the bridge was Katherine. She was leaning against the metal railing that bordered the bridge on both sides, separating the narrow footpath from open air. From her posture, one hip propped casually, looking along the road towards him as he approached, she could have just been hanging out. Except for the body she was dangling over the side of the bridge. Elena, unmoving, hung limply from under the arm Katherine had wrapped across her torso.

"Elena," she crooned sweetly in the girl's ear. "Elena, sweetie, we have company, time to wake up." Receiving no response, she pinched her side, cruelly twisting fragile flesh between her nails.

Elena groaned, tried to twist away from the pain, then came awake with a gasp which became a panicked cry as she realised she was hanging over empty space, nothing but black rushing water below. Her hands flew to the arm wrapped around her chest, clutching instinctively as her feet flailed, trying to find purchase on side of the bridge but finding none.

"Nice of you to join us," Katherine purred in her ear, and she went deathly still, confusion and panic overcome by the sudden realisation of what was going on.

"So what is it you want this time, Katherine?" Damon called to her, drawing her attention to him. "What's the deal?"

"No deal, sorry. I just want her dead, and I thought this way would hold a sort of poetic irony. Stefan would have appreciated it. I only waited this long because I wanted someone here to see it, which, since Stefan won't take my calls, is you. My forever second choice. You ever get tired of that?"

"You know all those movies where the villains spend all their time yapping away about how evil they are? Don't you ever get tired of being a big fat cliché?"

"In the movies the villain talks so that the hero has time to save the girl. But we both know, I think even poor Elena here has figured it out, that you can't stop me from dropping her. And if you take one more step closer, I'll snap her neck before I let go."

Elena tried not to let a sound escape her. She wouldn't give Katherine the satisfaction of hearing her whimper in fear. The arm supporting her was like iron under her grasping hands, but the hold Katherine had on her was quite loose - one tiny move and Elena would fall.

She looked down. It was impossibly dark under her feet, the street lights' glow not reaching down to the level of the river. She couldn't see the water, could only imagine how cold it was at this time of year, snow falling every night and ice on the ground. But she could hear it, the current rushing by, churning around the bridge pylons.

And beyond all that she knew it. She knew this river, this place, what it had already taken from her.

She did not want to go back into that water. The thought went beyond horror. Not like this, the silent plea wrenched a sob from her, god please, not like this. She would almost prefer the neck-snapping.

She wrenched her eyes up from the forbidding darkness below and turned her head instead to watch Damon, knowing he was her only hope. His face was blank, his eyes tight, and she could read the frantic energy screaming from every inch of him to do something. But she was right, Katherine, of course she could kill her before he got close enough to stop it.

Damon felt Elena's desperate gaze but refused to look at her, not allowing his attention to drift from Katherine's face for a second. If there was a chance, a split-second's chance, he had to be ready to take it. And with Katherine it was all about reading the signs, the shifting moods beneath the facade.

"He won't forgive you," he told her. "Come on, you're going about this all wrong. If you do this he won't magically fall back under your charms. He'll just kill you."

"No he won't, but he might die trying. I'm okay with that." Katherine shrugged, the gesture drawing a cry from Elena as she slipped a few inches. "Shh," she soothed, "In a few minutes this will all be over, Elena. Don't worry, I'll take good care of them. I do know how, after all, they were mine first."

Damon forced a laugh, shaking his head, his tone mocking. "You don't even know what you want, do you, Katherine? Oh it's so tough, having your own way all the time, and then suddenly your playthings don't want to play any more? What to do? It must get confusing, you being kind of a dumb bitch in your own way."

"Don't try to make me mad, Damon. I know exactly what I want. I'll kill Stefan if it comes to that, but I don't want him dead. You either. I just want you broken, because that's what happens to toys when they don't play nice. Personally I can't think of a better way to do it than this." She stroked Elena's hair and gave a menacing laugh. "Damon, Damon. Sweet boy. You're not going to be the hero here, or ever. That's not you - remember, you said that to me yourself, that night on Elena's porch, when you poured your sweet little heart out to me? Stefan's the hero. He saved Elena right here, didn't he? That night her parents bought the big one? I've heard the story. So touching. If he hadn't been there, she would have died down there in the water with her parents, drowned, a life cut tragically short." Her mouth pressed resentfully to Elena's ear as she hissed her next words. "That's how it should have gone for you, and now I'm going to put things right. Good bye, Elena."

She didn't even have time to scream. In the blink of an eye Katherine was gone, and Elena was falling.