A/N: A little update for those of you who have me on Author Alert for 'Normal' - I am almost finished with the next chapter, so it won't take months like last time :D
As for this story, it's inspired by how bad I felt for Jenna in last nights episode. I'd say it takes place about a month or so in the future - Jenna and Alaric are not together, Elijah's alive, and Klaus has not arrived yet. Part 2 coming soon!
She had brought this upon herself in some ways.
Though she was sure no one in their right mind would blame her for wanting to be trusted – she just never knew...never even begun to imagine what had been really going on. There was too much.
Alaric was some kind of vampire hunter turned vampire helper, whose ex-wife had died, just not in the way Jenna had thought - she'd been turned into a vampire by her own choosing by Damon, who was also a vampire. As were Stefan and Caroline. Bonnie was a witch. Tyler was a werewolf. Elijah was some kind of super old vampire. John was still an ass, but one who hated vampires. And Elena.
Elena was some kind of doppelganger of a vampire named Katherine who had dated both Stefan and Damon over a hundred years ago. Elena, who was supposed to be sacrificed in order for the curse on vampires to be lifted.
Jenna didn't think that there was a person in the world who felt more foolish than she did.
So after Alaric had stopped speaking, she ran. He had stared at her expectantly, like she had an obligation to respond to him. He was wrong. Her only obligation had been to be as good an aunt to Elena and Jeremy as possible, and she had failed both of them. She had somehow been completely blind to the fact that every single person around her was aware of this secret world except her. She hadn't protected them at all, and now they were both irrevocably wrapped up in this tense and life threatening situation.
So she ran – or tried to.
"Wait, there's something else you should know..." Alaric's voice stopped her, with even more reluctance than before.
"How can there possibly be more?" she asked, refusing to turn back to him. She'd listen, then she'd leave.
There was silence for a moment, "Logan Fell didn't leave," her brow crumpled in confusion, "He – He was turned," and she did turn back.
"Turned? Into a v-vampire?" (the word still sounded like a fairy tale on her tongue).
He nodded carefully, looking down in...shame? He continued, "It's kind of a...long story about how he turned. But he did, and he killed a lot of people – he wanted to kill you."
She was shaking; confusion, anger, sadness - every emotion possible overloading her system. Her brain clicked a moment later, "He's dead then," she said. She hated him, sure, but death was not punishment, it was death.
"I killed him," he answered, and she took a sharp inhale.
I need to get out of here.
"Is that all?" she asked, trying to contain her hysterical tears until she was safe (no longer safe) and alone (so very much alone).
"No," he sighed, "but it's enough for now."
And with that she fled.
She had never been much of a runner, or for that matter an exerciser. She'd spent most of high school getting drunk under the bleachers next to the track, not running on it. When she got older, she may have technically run away from Mystic Falls, but there was no actual running involved (except once through an airport to catch her plane).
So due to the lack of running experience up until this point, her legs and lungs started burning fairly quickly. Thankfully, her brain was still drowning in all this and she barely felt a twinge.
She probably shouldn't have run straight into the creepy forest in the middle of the night, especially now that she knew what kinds of things were out there. Whatever.
She darted between the thin, leafless trees, sprinting over fallen branches and around rocks. The air was cold, and her face stung in icy protest due to the thick stream of tears pouring out her eyes. Her body heaved in effort to take in oxygen, and her throat was dry from the biting wind that slid into her open mouth.
She stopped abruptly, slamming her fist against a rugged tree trunk with a cry of despair. Left fist, right fist, left fist, right fist, and her hands were screaming as loud as her voice. The frigid night air dried and cracked her skin, the bark tearing easily through her flesh. Left fist, right fist, left fist, right fist, and her throbbing legs dropped her to the ground and her throbbing arms dropped to her sides.
All her energy was expelled, but she couldn't stop sobbing. She knew her body was cold; she could feel the goosebumps raised along her skin and the violent shivers in her spine. She knew her fingers were broken, blood flowing rapidly out of the swollen, split knuckles. She knew.
She just couldn't bring herself to care.
She was useless, and weak – she couldn't protect her family, she couldn't protect herself. She had always kind of thought of herself as a strong person. She survived countless, heart crushing relationships, a drug problem, broken friendships, a dead sister, dead parents, a knife to the gut.
So much heartache, so little time.
And now this. This...lunacy. This entire world appearing right before her eyes, telling her that she wasn't strong - she was just really good at pretending.
Her strength was false bravado bred from obliviousness.
What kind of horrible guardian didn't notice all of these things happening around her?
She turned slightly to lean her back against the rough surface of the tree, bringing her knees up and resting her mangled hands on top of them.
"I thought I smelled blood," a calm voice startled her through the darkness. She let out a small cry of pain when her hands jerked in surprise.
She felt pure fear, and yet couldn't even force herself to stand and run again. She was too tired.
When her eyes finally came to rest of his face she felt even more idiotic. He was so clearly not normal. As he took a step forward he seemed to glide. His face was calm, yet something behind his eyes sent a wave of unease through her body. His voice even sounded old.
She was such an idiot.
He was thirty feet away, and in less than a blink of an eye he was standing right in front of her. She sighed loudly, a groan at the startled twitch in her hands. She could barely think around the emotional shock. She could barely think around the physical pain.
Fog and blood clouded her mind. And fear. What for, she wasn't sure. Maybe for her life. Mostly for anymore surprises.
Please, no more surprises.
He knelt down smoothly, and it seemed unnatural – meticulous suit pants sullied by the muddy, leaf ridden ground. He knelt smoothly, but Jenna guessed that it wasn't a common action for him. The silence wasn't awkward, but it was loud.
"So, I'm guessing you're not really a historian," she blurted out as tears continued their path down her face. She couldn't help but be surprised when he laughed lightly.
"More analogous to history itself," he responded, his head tilting slightly to the side as he closely examined her hands. He took them in his own and a painful shout escaped her lungs, tears springing once again to her eyes. Her entire muscular system was tensed; her joints stiffened, agonizing tremors rolling up her hands and through her arms.
He didn't seem phased by her discomfort, and just continued on to study her crumpled face.
"You know," he said in his ever present, even-tempered voice, "Many people assume that vampires don't feel pain. Or that they feel less pain than humans, when in fact we feel more.
"You see, when humans are injured, the body immediately releases endorphins that intercept pain between it's source and the brain. When vampires are injured however, no endorphins are released. Our body instinctively expects to heal, and therefore doesn't find it necessary to expend the energy."
Clearly her endorphins weren't working properly, because she could barely keep from screaming.
"Why are you telling me this?" she choked out, bile rising in the back of her throat as she closed her eyes in attempt to stop the nausea and dizziness from consuming her.
"Because it's something else you didn't know," he replied simply, and her eyes flickered open just in time to see the whites of his eyes fill in with dark, red blood. Her labored breathing sped up and her heart pounded.
Knowing vampires existed, knowing that he was a vampire, was much different than seeing it. This wasn't just some unfortunately realistic nightmare. She really was slumped against a crooked tree-trunk in the middle of the night, bleeding hands on her lap; alone in an empty forest with a vampire.
The word still sounded like a fairy tale to her brain.
"What are you doing?" she asked quickly, barely able to expend the breath for even that short sentence.
"Clearly Alaric told you only the skeleton of the story," and with that bit cleanly into his own wrist. Her mouth was open in shock, but a millisecond later it was covered with his arm, blood flowing into her mouth. She tried not to swallow, but when the tiniest drop overcame her defenses and she felt the pain in her hands receding, she was suddenly ravenous and gulped the liquid greedily. After only a few seconds, when the blood stopped flowing and she was left sucking on mended flesh, she detached her mouth from his skin and tilted her head back.
His eyes were locked on hers, and she felt as if she were being tested – for what, she wasn't sure. She held his gaze, her brain momentarily relaying a message to her fingers and she had to stop herself from looking down. She wiggled them slightly, and there was no pain. Running one hand along the other she found they were still caked with blood and dirt, but the severely swollen wounds and broken bones were gone.
He had healed her.
"Thank you," she said; her eyes still trained on his, the terror and pain gone from her voice.
He nodded his head slightly in acceptance before breaking her gaze and standing. He held his hand out to help her up, and she cautiously slid her hand into his and stood on shaky knees.
Somehow, he didn't seem as frightening anymore.
Despite the fact that learning the truth had certainly scarred her for life, it was nice to be in the fold. To be apart of these meetings that seemed to take place every day at the Salvatore's mansion.
She'd had to learn to control her reactions though.
Alaric had explained many things, but it quickly became clear that she was still in the dark about a lot of events that had taken place in the last two years – things that they now talked about around her like it was nothing. She was desperately trying not to show her cards, as she didn't want to be shunned out again for reason that she wouldn't be able to handle everything.
She would not be fragile.
It was certainly a challenge though. When she heard Damon snap jokingly, "Don't make me kill you – again," at Jeremy all she wanted to do was yell "WHAT?", but instead forced herself down to just widening her eyes.
When she went to get some water, she got lost on the way to the kitchen and had somehow ended up standing in a small hallway leading to an open side-porch door. She went to close it before she continued on her quest for the kitchen, but stopped short when she heard two voices floating in from outside.
"I'm sure he'll be okay – Tyler's strong," a voice said, that Jenna quickly identified as Bonnie's.
"Yeah, but it's a lot," Jeremy's voice replied, "I mean, first his dad dies, then his uncle supposedly leaves, then he turns into a werewolf. And when he finally has Caroline to help him, Jules tells him she's been lying to him the whole time."
She should stop eavesdropping, but it seemed to be the only way to gain actual information.
"Not to mention he finds out that not only is his uncle dead," Jenna took a sharp inhale at those words, "but he also happened to be killed by our friendly, neighborhood Salvatores."
Tears sprung to her eyes. Alaric had told her about the fact that Mason was a werewolf. He'd told her that he died. Honestly, she was in such a state she didn't even think to ask how he'd died.
"Well, at least he's not alone," Bonnie replied comfortingly after a while, "Even if he is with that lunatic wolf-chick," and Jeremy laughed in response.
She didn't think she'd ever laugh again.
After a couple of weeks, she'd gotten used to the layout of the house and took to entertaining herself in the kitchen while the group of them argued about everything and anything. For some reason, they had those fridge sticker letters, and she'd stand there and try and make as many dirty words as possible. After that, she'd try and make as many dirty words as possible in French. Then Latin.
She'd just finished writing -
futete stercus caput
-when she felt a body behind hers.
She spun quickly to find herself face to face with Elijah; his eyes slid momentarily to the surface behind her, and he smirked.
"Is that intended for anyone in particular?" he asked - though by the expression on his face he seemed to know exactly who it was intended for, and reveled in it.
"I was going to spell out his name, but they don't have any 'O's for some reason, so I could only spell 'Damn'" she said, and wished she had the power to control her heartbeat. She may have been able to hide behind false facial expressions, but in a house full of vampires enabled with super hearing, her nerves were evident.
He smiled again, "Still as accurate," before reaching behind her to the handle of the fridge.
She somehow continued to breath steadily, though her heart was still an entirely different story. She could acknowledge that it probably wasn't just nerves. She wasn't blind, and he was standing very close.
Her brain clicked into place, and she moved out of the way so that he could open the fridge.
"Why aren't you in the living room?" she asked, trying to get her mind as far off of his physical attributes as possible.
"Much for the same reason I'm sure you aren't," he responded, pulling out the cranberry juice, "The constant bickering and disagreement is counter-productive, and I get bored by the repetitiveness of their arguments."
"It is kind of ridiculous that no one can seem to agree on anything other than they don't want to die," she said as she sat in one of the kitchen island chairs. His back was now towards her as he grabbed two glasses out of the cabinet, and she allowed this one moment to admire him without shame. When they'd met she'd noticed the old world charm he had, but never knew exactly how true that statement was.
The way he moved was kind of beautiful.
He set a glass down in front of her and the other in front of himself, and proceeded to pour the juice into both. Even the way he poured juice was more refined. When he looked up at her, she only then realized she'd been staring intently at him. Normally she would have looked away immediately with shades of embarrassment across her cheeks. This wasn't normal though, and she just kept looking as he didn't seem bothered by it at all. He just carried on to put the bottle back in the fridge, and turned to sit across from her.
"Are they done yet?" she asked as she took a sip of her drink.
"Not nearly," he replied, lifting the glass to his lips. She bit her lip.
"So tell me," he continued, "Have you read any good books lately?"
For a moment she felt surprise at the simple question, though it quickly passed. She had a feeling 'Elijah Smith' and 'Elijah the Original' had a lot more in common then everyone thought, and in that moment she was happy that she had met him in the manner she did. No vampires, no werewolves, no Originals or doppelgangers or curses – just an intellectual person like herself.
"Honestly, I haven't had much time to just sit and read," she sighed, licking the layer of juice from her lip, "I did manage to squeeze in a few chapters of 1984 a couple nights ago."
"That book fascinated me when I first read it," he said, and she raised her eyebrows a bit. She wouldn't have been surprised to hear this from Elijah Smith, but the idea that this ancient being was fascinated by some little piece of literature was in fact fascinating to her.
"It's my favorite book," she shared with a smile, "I've read it at least twice a year since I was thirteen, and the end still gives me goosebumps."
"'Under the spreading chestnut tree, I sold you and you sold me'," he quoted, "I think I'm a bit surprised that you chose that as your favorite so young."
She laughed, "Yeah, it was a bit out of character for my teenage self – but, I don't know...we read it in English in – it must have been seventh or eight grade – and all of my friends were complaining about how boring it was, whereas I tore through the entire thing in one night," and she was leaning forward on the counter with her chin rested upon her hand, "The idea of this society that is so completely controlled by their government that they can be arrested for even thinking in objection – it...well, it fascinated me."
"That does seem to be the appropriate adjective," he said, "and moreover, I found it a captivating essay on human behavior. Being as old as I am, I've lived to see the consistent malleability of the human mind – jumping at the sound of an order, bending at someone's will – and I was intrigued by the idea that by increasing that strain one notch, you'd find yourself in the midst of a history-less, mindless society."
She's about to respond when he stands, and her confusion is swept away a second later when Damon walks through the doorway. Elijah looks just as intimidating as Alaric described, and she can't help but feel a little flattered that he'd chosen her to drink juice and talk about books with.
"Where the hell have you two been?" Damon says, speaking to Elijah and clearly just adding the "two" as a courtesy to Elena who came trailing in behind him.
"In here," Jenna snaps back, causing three pairs of eyes turn towards her.
Elena, who seemed to have some strange kind of control over Damon (that she very much didn't approve of – though to be fairshe had been staring at a vampire, one with a much higher kill rate, only minutes ago), put a hand lightly on the crook of his elbow before addressing Elijah and her, "We have a lot more to plan tonight," and tilted her head towards the living room before practically dragging a glaring Damon out of the room.
Jenna went to follow, but first gulped down the last of her cranberry juice and looked up to find that at some point Elijah had moved from the opposite side of the counter, to standing next to her. She tried not to twitch too noticeably.
"Is that whole 'super speed' thing really necessary?" she joked, though not getting even the slightest smile and her attempt at lighthearted chit-chat. He was staring into her eyes again.
"Are you going to compel me?" she asked. It seemed like a logical question in the face of all the eye se-contact. Eye contact.
"No," he said, still no trace of emotion on his face, though a small glint of amusement danced in his eyes, "You're much more...fascinating when you're thinking for yourself."
And with a slight smirk at her wide eyes, he 'super speeded' away (presumably to the meeting). She allowed herself a confident smile.
Maybe a lot flattered.
She'd never really thought about death.
Even with all of the danger and uncertainty in her life in the past few weeks, she'd honestly never thought for a second that it would end in her lying cold on the ground - blood sticky and thick in a pool beneath her prone body.
There was so much death.
Living dead, dead dead; death, death, death, death, death.
In her blood and bones and all throughout her body. She could feel the life draining onto the concrete, and it felt like such a waste. All those moments in life that she hadn't taken a chance - had sacrificed her own happiness for someone else, hadstalled –- now, it was just useless. She had been alive, and she had wasted it, and now she was dying.
What a waste.
And she was desperately wishing that dying was like it was in the movies; where the person's whole life flashes before their eyes, and then they smile. But no - she was choking on her own blood, and her brain wasn't getting enough oxygen to remember anything happy.
She could vaguely hear shouting and screaming, and the only image she could bring to her mind was that of Elena's bloodless, lifeless body; she had rushed forward, and the next thing she knew there was a hole in her throat, there was screaming and fire and she couldn't breath anymore.