Disclaimer: Still not mine.

Author's Note: This chapter...is long. And there's a lot of talking. It's all relevant things that need to be gone over for the future, but this chapter took so long to be posted because I kept thinking it literally needed 'a little less conversation, a little more action.' But sometimes, our heroes just need to sit down and have a serious discussion about the future. And the past.

Author's Note Part Two: Almost forgot to put this one in before posting...anyway, my original idea for this story involved Lexi coming back in the exact capacity that I have her doing so in this chapter. However, that original idea occurred to me right after 2x08, Rose, aired. The show has taken a distinctly different turn involving the Original family, making this story even more AU than it already was. Some of what is in the show will be the same as here, but some will be drastically different. This is what I get for taking so long to write.

I Want To Feel Through You

Chapter Nineteen: Trying To Feed My Bleeding Mind

Damon was, for once, speechless. Lexi was here. Standing right in front of him, solid and real and alive. He could hear her heart beating, pumping borrowed blood through her very not dead body.

"Lexi?" Elena asked hesitantly. She took a step forward, torn between wanting to hug her and being wary of the returned vampire. She'd seen Damon stake her. It had taken her ages to forgive him. In retrospect, it had taken almost as long for her to forgive him for Lexi as it had for his attempt on Jeremy's life. But then, things had been very different between them by the time he'd hurt Jeremy. And Jeremy had survived the encounter.

Damon was torn too. Lexi was probably the only vampire he'd ever taken out that he felt any kind of guilt for. It wasn't only that she was Stefan's best friend. It's that she had saved his brother from himself. Saved him because Damon had asked her to, when he couldn't do the saving himself. Killing her was not something that had made him happy. All that guilt, he thought, could it really have been for a vampire I didn't quite manage to kill? What's going on here? I saw her wither away, just like every other dead vampire.

But Elena's motion forward ended his internal debate for the moment. He could work out his feelings on the matter later, but Elena's safety came first, and he would not be letting her approach an unknown factor like a back-from-the-dead vampire until they knew more. He pulled her back just as she made to step forward again, and she fell backwards into his arms. He caught her, steadied her, and placed her behind him.

"Not that I'm not always glad to see you, Lexi, but I did drive a stake through your heart, watched you die, and dumped your body. Would you care to explain to me how we're having this conversation?" His shock and his dilemma over whether he should feel guilty or not could wait. What he needed was to make sense of this and, above all else, to keep Elena safe. Even if it was from a possibly un-killable vampire.

"Feeling inadequate, Damon? Unable to get the job done right?" Lexi was still glaring at him, but she favored Elena with a little smile. "Don't worry, sweetie. You have nothing to fear from me. More than I can say for your boyfriend here, though."

"I was beaten with a bat, thrown into a wall, drenched with gasoline, and very nearly set ablaze by your boyfriend because I killed you. Not to mention the stake Stefan drove into my stomach and the beating I took from him. I'd hate to think that was all for nothing." Elena was now actively trying to get around him to approach Lexi, but he turned to her and murmured, "Not until we know how she's here."

"Damon..." she started, about to argue, though she could hardly think of what to say.

Stefan cleared his throat, and for the first time, the other three seemed to remember he was in the room too. They all looked toward him, and he leaned forward in his chair, running a hand through his hair. From the look of it, that was something he'd done many times since the last time Elena had seen him. Instead of being perfectly gelled into a casual mess, his hair was sticking out in all directions, and she could see the stress in his face. "It seems that Lexi has been...not entirely truthful about...well, about a lot of things."

Lexi sighed, as if she'd had this conversation with Stefan several times over the past few days. "You've always known who I am, Stefan. The only things I was less than honest about were my age and where I came from. And how I became a vampire, of course."

Stefan looked like he was about to argue, but Damon interrupted whatever he was about to say. "Hey, how about we clarify for those of us that have no idea what you're talking about? That sounds like much more fun than having what looks like a very tired argument."

"Yeah, an explanation wouldn't be the worst thing ever," Elena said. She was still staring at Lexi over Damon's shoulder. "I'm happy to have you back, but I'd really like to know if we're going to be flooded with a ton of dead vampires, or if this is just a one-time thing, or..."

Lexi raised a hand, and Elena stopped talking. "All in due time, I promise." She looked back at Damon, and her eyes were cold, but at least she wasn't glaring anymore. "Stefan tells me you've met Elijah."

"Yeah," he replied impatiently. This didn't sound like the explanation he was looking for. "Met him. Exchanged a few words. Killed him."

Lexi's mouth twitched, and she crossed her arms over her chest again. "Yeah? How?"

Damon shrugged. "Drove a coat rack through his chest. Solid wood. Nice and thick."

She nodded. "Yeah, he's fine. Probably not too happy with you though. I'm surprised you haven't heard from him again yet. You should watch your back. Speaking from personal experience, a stake to the heart hurts."

"Actually, if you want to get technical, a stake to the heart usually kills. And you're still not being exactly forthcoming as to how that isn't the case with you and, apparently, Elijah."

"Elijah is an Original vampire. Part of the first family. They have all sorts of tricks that every vampire that came after doesn't have. And...he is my brother," Lexi admitted, uncrossing her arms and leaning against the back of the couch. It looked like the statement took a lot out of her, but she also looked lighter for it.

"Making Lexi also an Original," Stefan added quietly.

"Unneccesary to state the obvious, Stef. Why is it we never knew about this? We never even heard of the Originals until Elijah showed up wanting Elena. And now we find out that your not-so-dead bestie is one of them?" Damon felt a poke in his side and looked behind him. Elena was there, looking very unhappy about being hidden behind him. He considered for a moment, and finally moved to the side so that she could come further into the room.

Elena immediately went to one of the couches and sat down, hoping Damon and Lexi would follow her good example and keep this a somewhat civil conversation. Stefan was already sitting in one of the armchairs. Damon was sitting down next to her less than a second after she'd hit the cushion, but she could tell that he wasn't doing it because he actually wanted to sit. He just wanted to be as close to her as possible in case things got violent.

Lexi turned to face them, but didn't sit. She remained behind the couch, still wary that Damon was going to try to stake her again, just for good measure. Elena understood. "I think what Damon's trying to say is if you're so powerful, like we keep hearing the Originals are, why weren't you using those abilities enough for Stefan, your best friend, to notice? And why lie about being one?"

"Because Elijah is not my only brother." She sighed again and walked around the couch, finally settling down on it. It wasn't like Damon could actually kill her. He'd never even get close if she didn't let her guard down, and she'd never let her guard down around him again. "Rose told you about Klaus. Also my brother. He's unstable, and he's dangerous."

"What's dangerous to a vampire that can't die?" Elena wondered out loud.

Lexi hesitated, biting her lip. "I'm going to tell you a secret that Klaus would kill me for sharing. It's not that we can't die. It's that there's only a few very specific ways that will work. Or we can be...taken out of commission. Which is what Klaus does. He started...incapacitating the rest of our family. And I ran before he could get to me. I went underground for a few years, then re-emerged with a new story, and I never told anyone who I really am. Not until Stefan, a couple days ago."

"Fantastic!" Damon said, almost cheerfully. "So how do we kill Originals?"

She laughed, but the sound was bitter and caustic. There wasn't a trace of mirth. "You seriously think I'm going to tell you how to kill me? After you already tried and failed?"

"Of course not!" he exclaimed, all wide-eyed innocence that no one in the room bought. "I think you're going to tell me how to kill Elijah."

"You can't kill Elijah!" she yelled. Her voice was urgent, panicked. She took a deep breath to calm herself. "You...you don't understand. He's not bad. Stefan told me you didn't exactly have the best experience with him, but...Elijah, he..." Lexi didn't know what to say to explain how important her older brother was to her, but she had to try. She had to make them see that Elijah wasn't the bad guy. It was Klaus they needed to be worried about. "He taught me how to read. He was always the one to make me feel better when Klaus teased me." She sighed again. "He's the only one in my family I've truly missed since I left. He's...different from the rest. Like me. He...has a moral code. Kind of."

"Everyone has a moral code. Damon has a moral code. That doesn't mean it resembles anyone else's," Stefan argued, not even glancing away from Lexi to see whether he'd offended his brother with his comment. He hadn't. Damon was smirking. "According to Rose, he took off her friend Trevor's head without any hesitation."

"But he didn't hurt Elena," Lexi said stubbornly. She looked to the girl in question. "Did he?"

"No," Elena said after a moment of hesitation. "No, he compelled me, and he scared the crap out of me, but he didn't hurt me."

"He doesn't kill humans." Lexi jumped on this new topic frantically. She could not let Stefan and Damon fight Elijah. They would lose, and she would lose Stefan, or they would win, against all the odds – the way they sometimes did – and she would lose her big brother. And if they didn't put aside their differences and unite with Elijah, none of them had a prayer of taking down Klaus. "Not if he can avoid it. He feeds off them, but he compels them and lets them go." They still weren't convinced. She could see it all over their faces. So finally, she told them the hard truth. "I will never help you kill Elijah. And if you don't make peace with him, Klaus will find Elena, and she will die when he's done with her. Elijah's your only shot, so it's time to make nice with him and keep your fingers crossed that he doesn't kill Damon."

"Oh, good. I always like it when we're depending on hope to keep me alive. Hey, maybe we can find a rainbow and wish on it too!"

Elena put her hand over Damon's to calm him. "Let's think about this rationally, shall we? Does Elijah even want to work with us on this? If he does, he knows killing Damon would end all chances of that happening. And if he doesn't, why are we even talking about it?"

"I don't know," Lexi answered honestly. "I haven't talked to my brother since I left, 739 years ago. I faked my death to disappear, so the last I heard, he believed I was dead. I don't know if he figured out that I'm not yet."

"Last I heard, he doesn't take betrayal too well," Damon said. "You think he might take a swipe at your head, like he did Trevor's?"

"No. Trevor was different," she said, and she couldn't have sounded more certain. "He took Katherine away from Elijah, and five hundred years later, that was something Elijah couldn't forgive."

"Wait," Elena interrupted. "I thought it was Klaus who wanted Katherine. Not Elijah."

"From what my sources tell me, it was both," she replied. "Klaus wanted her for whatever he wants Elena for now, but he also wanted her in his bed. And Elijah believed he was in love with her. Their animosity over Katherine is what finally destroyed their relationship. The last straw. Katherine has a talent for destroying brothers."

"Katherine," Elena murmured softly, looking between Damon and Stefan. "Or the doppelganger?" Everyone in the room looked at her, but she spoke again before they could answer. "What about Lee? He didn't know you're an Original?" She paused, horror dawning on her as she saw the look on Lexi's face. Lee had been the first one to voice what she'd already known, and the sentiment echoed in her head. If you want to be with someone forever, you have to live forever. "He doesn't know you're not dead yet, does he?" Her tone was accusatory, and she didn't care. She couldn't understand how Lexi could do that to someone who obviously loved her so much. Enough to give up on his revenge. She'd never be able to do anything like that to Damon.

"I can't bring him into this," Lexi whispered. "I wanted to tell him right away, but there are so many things I don't do in order to keep Klaus from figuring out that I'm alive. I don't have a daylight ring because, despite how things work in your little circle, they're not actually all that common among vampires. Vampires that walk in the sunlight attract attention. I don't compel other vampires if I can avoid it because that's noticeable too. If I went to Lee after Damon so kindly staked me through the heart, people would know. Klaus has spies everywhere, and that brings danger to me and, worse, to Lee. So I can't tell him until we get this mess sorted out. I'm only...re-emerging now because Klaus will be coming to you, and if all of us unite with Elijah, that's the best chance we're ever likely to get to take him out. And I would like very much to get back to my life. That can only happen once Klaus is no longer a threat."

"That's what I don't understand," Stefan said, deciding to rejoin the conversation he'd been mostly happy to observe. "We know Elena is 'The Doppelganger,' and we know Klaus wants her for that. But why? And how does the moonstone fit into all of this?" He glared at Lexi, as if it were all her fault. "We only have a few pieces of the puzzle, and the more I look at them, the more I wonder if they're even all from the same puzzle."

"Oh, they're definitely from the same puzzle, Stefan. But I don't have answers for you. I was gone before Katherine came into their lives. And I have no idea how the moonstone ties in either. Elijah knows everything." She sighed and stood up from the couch. "And I think it's long past time I went to talk to him."

"Are you crazy?" Stefan was suddenly on his feet, yelling at Lexi. "What are you going to tell him?"

One look at Stefan's face confirmed for her that she'd made no progress in convincing him to give Elijah a chance. He would stick to his first impression until he was given one hell of a good reason to change his mind.

Lexi looked over to Damon and Elena. Elena looked thoughtful, but then, she seemed to always be a little too willing to forgive the absolutely unforgivable, so a little kidnapping and compulsion probably wouldn't make her hate Elijah forever. Not if he could potentially save her life and the lives of those she loved.

Damon was, as usual, unreadable. He wore a mask of indifference, but she knew that he had to be hiding a tumult of emotions while he worked through all that he'd learned since stepping through the front door. She could never be sure with Damon. Certainly, his staking her had come as quite the surprise. But if she had to guess, she would say that he would do whatever he had to in order to protect the girl sitting beside him, whether that was working with Elijah or staking him through the heart until it took. Which it never would, not the way he was doing it, but she didn't think he'd wrapped his head around that yet.

"Everything," she finally replied, turning her gaze back to Stefan. "You want honesty from Elijah, and he deserves the same, especially from me. So I'll tell him everything." She glanced at Damon one last time before she swept out of the room. "He won't be happy with you, Damon. Watch your back."