Chapter 5: Fight Fire With Fire
Tyler should've known better than to trust two vampires, particularly one who seemed to have no interest in honouring any alliances. Admittedly, Stefan seemed the most decent one of the two, but he still had a certain amount of reservation when they approached the exterior of the block of apartments which housed Mason's old hiding place.
The outside looked... well, unappealing. It seemed permanently under the shadow of darkness, and the walls looked as though they'd caved in on themselves, at least part way. No living habitants remained inside, Tyler recalled, because he remembered one party – hard to tell where and when this had been – had involved a group of them, Elena among them, sneaking into the building, howling with laughter as the girls had, naturally, freaked out at all the old noises the building emitted. That memory belonged to a different part of his life, a part of his life he could never get back.
The building itself wasn't particularly tall, but it had a presence. Stone grey walls made the whole thing appear like a prison – which, in this situation, was exactly what it was being used for – and the boarded up windows and graffiti didn't exactly veer it away from that old, abandoned building stereotype. But the more he stared at it, the more he could see exactly why Mason had chosen this place as his hiding spot. Not only did it repel any potential visitors to the spot, but it was quiet and remote, located a good way from the town itself. He remembered one of his fellow jocks – it might've been Matt, but the memory itself was a hazy one – making a joke about it, remarking that perhaps the reason it was out here left to rot was because it was considered a blemish on the town's spotless reputation, which went some way into explaining why there had been no attempts at renovating it. Some people regarded it as a lost cause.
He shoved his hands in his pockets as he wandered up, shuddering as a nasty wind blustered past. A part of him felt anxious about doing this – the fact Jules had taken Elena seemed, to him, to be an act of spontaneous aggression, like she wasn't thinking clearly, which seemed to suggest she wasn't going to show him any kindness just because she'd shown some interest in helping him. He felt a flash of guilt thinking maybe it was his rebuttal which had pushed her over the edge.
Damon and Stefan, who after giving him a few last words of confidence – Damon's words dressed up in a colourful manner – had retreated into the shadows, explaining Jules with all her senses heightened due to her rush of emotions, would know they were coming, and it was important she knew as little as possible about their surprise attack. Stefan had added that if Tyler sensed the meeting was going badly, he could just call out – or, bark, as Damon had unsurprisingly corrected – and they would hear him and come to his rescue.
He hoped it wouldn't come to that point.
Inching his way into the building, he took the time to study each empty apartment in turn. Unsurprisingly, the first few he came across had no doors – and that wasn't necessarily due to people like himself breaking in all the time. There was a smell of damp seeking from the walls, but he ignored it. This building had been abandoned a long time ago – some said because there had been a massacre here, whilst others suggested there had been plans to demolish it but the building team behind that particular project had never gotten round to doing it, so it was left at the hands of nature instead.
His footsteps, thankfully, didn't echo around the room. As he made his way up the stairs – the lift long out of order, not that he'd trust it to work anyway – he thought about how to talk Jules out of her revenge kick. Negotiation had not been something he'd anticipated himself doing, and, plus, when it came to giving oral reports at school, the only way he'd managed to secure passes for himself was throwing in some dark humour for the amusement of his classmates. Somehow, he doubted Jules would appreciate any humour at her expense; if anything, it would worsen the situation, giving Damon another excuse to tear him to pieces.
Tyler approached Mason's door with a mixture of anticipation and worry.
What could he say?
Before he could work up the nerve to open the door, it opened by itself, a wary looking Jules emerging, every frown line she possessed on display.
"I thought they'd send you," she said, tight lipped. "Figures they'd send another to do their dirty work for you."
"They're smarter than you give them credit for," Tyler retorted, unexpectedly coming to their defence. "They know why you're doing this."
For a moment, a flash of vulnerability crossed her face, and he found himself almost, almost, sympathising with her. But then the reason he was here gave a feeble moan, and he was back on the opposite side of the fence again.
"Elena?" he called, stepping forward before a hand roughly pushed him away.
"You tell those self-righteous bastards to come here and get her, otherwise I'll kill her right now," Jules challenged.
"What happened to not harming humans?" he demanded. "That was werewolf rule 101, you know."
Jules' lip wobbled precariously.
"She's not human though, is she?" she retorted. "She's a doppelgänger which, to my knowledge, is a supernatural being."
Tyler didn't have knowledge of that sort of thing, but even he could tell Jules was clutching at straws here, trying to justify her actions which made him believe he could wear her down.
"But she's still human," he interjected, wondering where this sudden burst of anger was coming from. "You can't objectify her like she hasn't got a life, like she hasn't got a heart."
"Something Mason lacked after your friends were finished with him," Jules interrupted bitterly.
Tyler looked down, still uncomfortable hearing the details of his uncle's death. No matter how much of a dick Mason had been at times, he'd been the only one who'd even vaguely understood him. Hearing about his death now meant he very briefly, if only for a second, felt a wave of hatred towards all vampires. He could certainly understand Jules and her situation, but that didn't mean he liked it.
"Give her to me, Jules," he said quietly.
"Why?" Jules exploded. "Why should I? They took everything from me! I used to be part of something. Now I'm alone. Solitary. For God's sake, they took away Brady, the one guy who actually meant something to me besides Mason." She shook her head angrily. "Why are you even on their side, Tyler? They killed your uncle, they turned your girlfriend - Caroline is it? - so you have just as much reason as me to hate them."
"I'm not here for them," Tyler spat out, enraged by this woman's attitude. "I'm here for my friend, Elena."
Jules shook her head, something dawning across her face that he couldn't quite interpret. It was a mixture of surprise and pity. He couldn't say he cared for the look.
"Friends look out for their friends, Tyler. They don't get each other killed," she said, sounding genuinely concerned. "Hanging around with the Salvatores will get you killed." She hesitated. "It's not too late if you wanted to join me. There's so much you have to learn..."
"I can learn for myself thank you," Tyler said coldly. "Believe it or not, the adults in my world tend to let me down a lot so..."
It wasn't right to think ill of the dead, but he had Mason in mind when he'd said that. It wasn't Mason's fault he'd been killed of course, but he couldn't help but wonder what Mason had done to antagonise Damon exactly. Not that Damon exactly needed a reason to be pissed off enough to want to kill someone, but he figured there had to have been a specific reason behind it.
"It isn't always like this, Tyler," Jules spoke, her eyes pained. "Believe it or not, despite the fact we never get along, we never came into this town to wage war on the vampires. Not until we learned the truth for ourselves. It's instinctive, this need to avenge a member of our species. It runs thicker than blood the bond we have with one another." She held out her hands, like she was surrendering, but he saw something concealed in one of her hands. "Trust me – as you once did."
He made a move to run, but she was faster. A flash of silver flew through the air, and before he could let out a cry for help, he felt a needle pierce through his skin, as sharp as a knife, and then he felt a strange sensation grip his body.
The bitch drugged me! he realized, horrified.
He attempted to run again, but his knees buckled before he could even manage a step, and the last thing he saw was Jules staring down at him, expressionless, before darkness took him.
Elena stirred, the effects of the sedative wearing off.
As her body twitched into life, her eyes flickered open. She was still in the horrid apartment with the horrid smell attached to it – not quite damp, and not quite decay – and as her eyes registered that fact, she came across a new sight, something she'd not spotted before.
"Tyler?" she murmured, noticing his body was slumped next to hers.
"He came to rescue you," Jules said, her lip curling with disdain.
Elena's eyes weakly travelled from Tyler to Jules, her mouth framing the perfect 'O' as she tried to formulate the question her mind had just conjured up. But she felt groggy, disorientated, and it meant everything, including her entire nerve system, seemed to run at a much slower speed.
"What...did...you...do?" she managed to get out.
"Vervain doesn't work on us," Jules said, matter-of-factly. "Wolfsbane...That's deadly to us, but even in lethal amounts, it doesn't kill us." She gestured to the giant needle she held between her fingers. "But it sort of works like vervain, and can keep us weak." She shrugged, a glimmer of sadness passing across her face. "I prepared for the chance your boyfriends would send Tyler up in their stead, but I get no pleasure out of doing any of this."
"Then let me go," Elena begged, with a little more clarity. "Damon and Stefan won't come up here. They're not that stupid."
"Oh, everyone becomes stupid when they're infected with love," Jules said, looking disgusted. "They let their guard down, allow themselves to care..." She shook her head. "It's the worst of human emotion. It gets in the way, clouds your judgement."
Elena had no argument. She felt too drained to even begin to try and talk Jules out of a month's worth of pain.
Truthfully, she understood why Jules was doing this. In times of desperation, she'd learned people did stupid things. It was all part of the human experience, and it was also the way she'd managed to identify humanity in Damon Salvatore's body. He'd done his fair share of stupid stuff, and then come to regret it afterwards. In some ways, he was more human than vampire, only he chose to let the latter state show.
"Killing Damon and Stefan won't fill that empty spot inside you," she said, closing her eyes, hoping to drift back into some sort of unconscious state – at least there was peace there. "You won't get any satisfaction from their deaths. You might think you will, but it'll turn out to be just another regret."
"You don't know that," Jules snarled, pacing up and down. "You can't know that!"
"I do," Elena said, opening her eyes so she could lock gaze with the bitter woman who was holding her hostage. "Damon once killed my brother. He slammed him against the wall, and then snapped his neck like it was nothing more than a twig. He left me to pick up the pieces. I hated him. I wanted to kill him. In fact, a couple of times I came close to making a stake, and I was consumed by the desire to get revenge. But in the end, even though I distanced myself from him, it turned out to be a horrible idea. Because though there are many words to describe Damon Salvatore, he is constantly changing, evolving. You can't pin a single crime against someone and hold it against them forever. It's easy to do so, but in the end, that hatred will consume you. All you can do is rise above it, and tell yourself you don't want to be that person."
Jules contemplated her words, her posture tense, her eyes narrowed into slits.
Before she could respond however, the door had been savagely broken down, Damon and Stefan standing squarely at the door, looking frustrated at the fact they couldn't get in.
"Hello, boys," Jules grinned, dragging Elena to her feet. "Glad you could join me."
"You know the role of evil bitch as already been taken don't you?" Damon quipped sarcastically. "The Wicked Witch of the West will be so disappointed you're coveting her role..."
"And what are you in this little charade? The Wizard?" she shot back. "I can see that, you know. You both share similar traits, like an ego the size of Oz, and the lack of ability to deliver what you promise!"
Damon raised an eyebrow.
"Hand Elena over," he said coldly. "And we'll settle this man to bitch." He grinned briefly. "Quite literally on that last one..."
"No." Jules glared at him. "You killed Mason. You killed my brothers. Why should I go easy on you?"
"How about because you suck?" came another voice, before something came crashing against the back of Jules' head, rendering her unconscious.
This meant her grip on Elena slackened, but because the mild paralysis drug meant Elena could no longer walk – for the moment, anyway – she crumbled alongside her captor, until strong arms caught her. Her fingers gripped the fabric of her saviour's shirt, but rather than feeling Stefan's soft shirt, or Damon's leather jacket, she found she'd come into contact with denim.
Blinking rapidly, Elena glanced up, her eyes locking on Tyler's. He looked groggy, not to mention his face seemed to be a good few degrees paler than normal, but otherwise he looked okay.
"I can't..." she said, grimacing as she realized what the end of that sentence meant.
With one motion, he'd scooped her up, carrying her past Stefan and Damon, who both wore matching expressions of anxiety.
"Let me..." Stefan began, reaching for her.
"I can carry her myself, thanks," Tyler said coolly.
"Putting aside your crush," Damon began, relishing Tyler's look of discomfort. "We still have to figure out what to do with Jules. We can't get in."
Tyler sighed, wondering why he was so reluctant to relinquish contact with Elena.
"I'll be okay," she murmured, giving him a soft smile.
He carefully handed her over to Stefan, his hand lingering on hers for a few seconds. When he was sure Stefan would take care of her, he turned to Damon, already able to read Damon's plan in his eyes.
"We're not killing her, Damon," he said firmly.
"Why not? She took Elena, called me names, was responsible for killing Rose, and has overall been a massive pain in the ass," Damon complained. "Death really is the kindest option here."
"No wonder she wanted to kill you if that's the way you think," Tyler snapped. "Look, whilst she's unconscious, we should just drive her somewhere. Anywhere. I won't watch you slaughter her."
"Then don't watch. I can be discreet," Damon said, flashing him a smirk.
Tyler threw him a look of pure disgust.
"Fine," Damon exhaled, looking irritated. "I'll drive her a couple of towns along, see if I can't compel some police to keep her locked up."
Tyler nodded; it was all his strength allowed him to do.
He walked back inside, gently scooped Jules up and handed her to Damon, giving him a last look of warning before following Stefan back down the stairs and out of the building, blinking as the sudden change in light caught him off-guard.
His eyes followed Elena, who was being gently bundled into Stefan's car – when had they brought that exactly? He had to be thankful for their quick thinking though – giving her a gentle smile when her eyes locked onto his.
His eyes turned at the sound of Damon's footsteps, and he almost had to laugh at the look of comical disgust on his face at having to carry Elena's former captor in this almost tender way. But he still had his principles – murder was never an option.
Says the boy who killed his friend for playing too roughly, a sly voice muttered in the back of his mind.
Tyler winced at the memory of Sarah, wishing he could erase that from his consciousness. Even though both Caroline and Elena had assured him it was because of Katherine that Sarah and Matt had been spurred on to fight him, he couldn't help wondering if had he not had this instinctual need to fight back, whether or not she'd still be alive.
"Are you okay?" Stefan asked, taking him by surprise. "I know that must've been hard for you to do..."
"Eh, she drugged me first. Seems only fair I knock her out too," Tyler tried to joke, even though he felt like there was a bad after-taste in his mouth.
"I do appreciate what you've done," Stefan said sincerely. "I mean, we wouldn't have gotten Elena back if it weren't for you, so...thanks."
Tyler felt uncomfortable with such praise. Stefan's sincerity and kindness only made his determination to avoid contact with vampires really difficult. Plus, he didn't really feel like he'd done much. Negotiation had failed, so he'd had no other choice but to attack Jules. He only hoped she wouldn't try retaliating again, because next time, if there even was a next time, he suspected he would have no other option but to let Damon kill her.
"I do what I need to do," he said, shrugging the praise off, wishing it didn't itch like a severe rash.
After declining Stefan's invitation for a ride back, he shoved his hands in his pocket, and began the long walk back, deciding there were a few things he needed to clear his head about, Elena, of course, being one of them.
He'd liked to have thought his intentions for helping her out were purely selfless, that he was doing it because he would've done the same thing for Matt or Caroline or Bonnie. Truthfully, however, he knew there was a selfish reason behind it, and that reason was both tearing him apart and driving him insane.
Kissing Caroline, he'd thought, had been crossing the line, but then again he seemed to be crossing so many lines these days that crossing just one didn't seem to be that much of a big deal. Still, he felt conflicted, torn between a past crush and a present friend he was pretty sure he was developing feelings for.
Caroline was unbelievably beautiful, and had this incredibly deep, meaningful side to her that he was amazed she'd allowed him to see, and in some ways, despite their differences – physical and otherwise – they were a perfect match. But she was also famous for her temper, not to mention still completely hung up on Matt, so he wasn't sure if pursuing her was the right thing to do.
On the other hand, there was Elena. Vibrant, sexy, kind-hearted Elena, who had pretty much been forbidden territory even before the Salvatores had arrived in town and staked their claim on her – no pun intended. She had constantly flitted from guy to guy, eventually settling on Matt – why was it always Matt? - and he'd pushed whatever he'd felt for her aside. It was just easier that way and, for a split second, he could sympathise with Damon, even empathise with him.
Damn it. Everything was all screwed up now.
He wished he'd walked away when he'd had the chance.
Elena slipped in and out of consciousness, her mind pulling up dregs of a conversation she remembered having a while ago, yet it seemed to be surfacing only now, for reasons unknown.
It was the night of some Founder's Day event – she couldn't remember which -and she recalled standing by the steps, her eyes eyeing the row of boys who'd followed her here, their eyes roaming to places they shouldn't have been wandering to, their gazes leering, combined with a sense of desperation.
She rolled her eyes, waiting for Matt to fetch her a drink. Every now and then, one of the boys would saunter over, usually egged on by the rest of their friends, and it usually only took one look of disdain to ward them away. Something about tonight, however, seemed...wrong, which felt like an odd word to use, except she could sense by the look in the jock's eyes, the beefy guy with dark locks, that he wasn't going to let up. In fact, it seemed to her the fact he'd had the confidence to ignore her withering look and saunter over anyway told her he had a lot more courage than she could've dared to have believed.
One studious look told her the jock's identity – Wes Cooper. A stocky lad, he had transferred to this school only a month ago, and had quickly assumed the jock stereotype – and by that she meant, he somehow managed to possess the muscles of a rhino, and the brain of a turkey, not to mention he'd developed this habit of correcting his hair in the presence of a girl, even when there was nothing to correct. Wes had acquired a number of girlfriends in the short time he'd been here, but none of them had lasted, mostly because the day he'd laid eyes on her, somehow he'd gotten into his head that he had to have her, and thus the awkward obsession had begun.
"Evenin'," he drawled, eyeing her up and down.
Elena hugged herself tighter, wishing she'd chosen to wait inside.
"Wes," she greeted, her tone cold.
"You're lookin' cold," he noted. "Mind if I warm you up?"
His beefy arms came towards her before she could stop, and so she had to be one part of the world's most uncomfortable hug before she could break free.
"Don't touch me," she snapped. "You're drunk."
She could tell by the way he was staggering slightly, not to mention she could detect whiskey on his breath. She wrinkled her nose in disgust.
"Don't be like that, 'Lena," Wes complained, trying to lock his arm around her. "We're gonna have some...some fun."
"Don't be a dick, Wes," came a new voice, and she turned to look, half expecting (hoping) Matt had finally grown some balls and decided to show some passion when it came to their new – and, to be brutally honest, lifeless – relationship by rushing to her defence.
It turned out to be Tyler, which surprised her considering this was his house the party was located at.
"Why? We were jus' about to..."
"Something entirely innocent, I hope," Tyler said, leaping forward to grab Wes's jacket before shoving him away. "We have a game on Monday. Don't be a dick and try and screw everything up for the sake of getting a quick feel from a girl who is clearly out of your league."
Elena felt herself flush with indignation. She should've been dwelling on the compliment, but all she could think about was that Tyler was the wrong guy coming to her defence here. Plus, she'd never quite been sure whether she liked him or not, judging by the fact when he was nice, he could be a decent friend, but more often than not, he was a dick, and paraded it like he was trying to be the most hated guy in school.
"I see how it is," Wes mumbled, glaring from Tyler to Elena. "You're fucking her, aren't you?"
Tyler didn't even flinch; he just lifted back a hand and punched Wes in the face, panting heavily, some sort of madness gleaming in his eyes. Underneath a full moon, the three of them stood in a kind of weird triangle shape, emotions and tensions running high, almost at breaking point. Wes was first to break, after realizing tending to his broken nose was probably more important than chasing after a girl who really did seem to be out of his league.
"I didn't need saving, Tyler," Elena felt it important to say. "I had the situation under control."
"Sure you did," Tyler said sarcastically. "A thank you would be nice – even if it was a fake one."
"Why do you always come to my rescue, Tyler?" she demanded, glaring at him. "It's Matt's job, not yours."
"I don't see him anywhere," Tyler gestured, looking mock worried. "Funny that."
"He's getting me a drink," Elena said, matter-of-factly.
"He's taking his time," Tyler noted dryly.
"Why are you being such a dick?" she almost yelled, feeling a humiliated blush colour her cheeks. "Why? I didn't need saving! What makes you think I need saving all the time?"
He stared at her, indecision resting in his eyes. She almost wished she could know what ran through his head, just to get an idea of why he was the way he was.
"Someone has to," he said, with a tone of recovery. "Look at the messes you keep getting yourself into. It was Rod Colbert last month. Jamie Whittle the time before that... Face it, you're in the fantasy of every guy in this school. I know guys who used to be good friends with Matt before you two became an item, then dumped him when you two became offical, all because they were jealous of him."
"You didn't," she pointed out, narrowing her eyes in suspicion. "Why?"
"I have better taste than you," he responded, giving her an impish grin to show her he wasn't being serious.
If only the grin matched his eyes.
"Funny," she snorted, looking huffy and upset. "I'm not a... I don't want to be known as a..." She struggled with the word. "I'm not the girl who every guy feels he has to save... or throw himself at. I'm stronger than that."
"That's not what I'm doubting here," Tyler told her, shoving his hands in his pockets, silently willing Matt to come here to break up this already awkward conversation.
"Then what exactly is your point?" Elena demanded, closing the gap between them so that she could read every line on his face to get an idea what he was trying to tell her exactly. "Please, be honest. I can take it."
"Wouldn't tell Wes that," Tyler said lightly, "he's licking his wounds right now, but I'm sure he'll be back." He frowned, wondering how to get out what he wanted to say to Elena without saying it, if that even made any kind of sense whatsoever. "Look, I get you show one face to the world, another when you're at home. But you've got to decide what you want to be – strong or...easy." He winced at the expression on her face. "I'm not saying you are, but you kind of...give off that impression."
"If that's the case, why the hell hasn't anyone told me before?" she asked, looking more humiliated than angry.
"Because you're Queen Bee. Every guy wants to be with you. Every girl wants to be you." He shrugged. "I don't get it myself, how one girl can be everyone's perfect person, but you know..."
Elena folded her arms closer to her chest, trying not to let his harsh but honest words sink through to her heart. She looked around, hoping Matt would finally get a sense of timing and come to her aid, but she couldn't spot him, which meant she had to continue talking to Tyler. She ground one of her feet in impatience, letting out a sigh of impatience, hoping Tyler would get the message.
"You done insulting me?" she asked flatly. "Insulting the one person who actually likes you isn't quite the smartest thing you've ever done, now, is it?"
It was his turn to fold his arms uncomfortably.
"You like me?" he questioned. "Why? You said it yourself, I'm a dick to everyone."
"Because I know you don't mean to be," she told him. "You hide your true self under this pretentious façade, and I'm not buying it."
Tyler actually smiled.
"That makes two of us," he said, before walking off, giving her a last impish grin as he left, leaving her behind to ponder his words.
She stirred, secretly aching for that period in her life. Sure, she'd been a bit pretentious back then, almost shallow – definitely a Caroline, in that sense – but Tyler had been the only one to call her on it, and even then she'd never let on his words had actually affected her.
"Elena?" came Stefan's anxious voice.
She opened her eyes, discovering she was back in the Boarding house. She couldn't decide whether she was disappointed by that or not. Relieved to find her legs seemed to be working, she stood up, as an experiment, before finding her legs buckled, causing Stefan to catch her effortlessly. She offered him a weak smile in gratitude.
"Guess I gotta get used to walking again, huh?" she joked.
"I was so worried," Stefan said, holding her close to his chest.
"Thanks for rescuing me," she whispered, closing her eyes and sighing.
He held her back, examining her closely.
"You're actually thanking me for rescuing you?" he smirked. "Makes a change. Usually you tell me off for interfering."
She batted him playfully, although there was a sincere point to his joke.
"Where's Tyler?" she asked, changing the subject.
"Headed home," Stefan replied. "Said something about needing a shower."
"He was unconscious..." Elena recalled.
"He woke up just in time to save you," Stefan told her, smiling, although his smile seemed tight, almost forced. "You can relax. Everything's alright."
"Except it's not. Klaus is still coming and we have no plan to deal with him," Elena sighed. "Elijah was my best bet."
"It would've involved sacrificing you though," Stefan countered hotly.
"There's nothing I wouldn't do to save all of you," was all Elena said on the matter, before a loud grumble indicated another problem they had yet to face.
"You hungry?" Stefan grinned, relaxing despite himself.
Elena nodded. "Starving."
"Let me take you out of town," he suggested. "I know this place a few towns down. It's the least I can do to make up for these rough couple of days."
She wasn't to know it yet, but Stefan had an ulterior motive for wanting her out of town, and had she glanced at his phone, at the last message received, she might have made a completely different choice.
"Okay," she agreed, leaning in to kiss him tenderly. "I'd like that."
A/n: The relationship between Tyler and Elena is building slowly, but did you all like the flashback I included? I'm thinking of including more if you did like it, plus I think it could've happened. I mean, I know Tyler was a complete dick in the books – the books I've read so far – but I think in the show, even before he became a werewolf, he had at least been a dick with humanity. Hope you enjoyed this update. This is my fave AU pairing.