Disclaimer: I do not own, nor am I in any way associated with, The Vampire Diaries. I'm just taking the characters out for a spin.

Warning: Spoilers for upcoming episodes. While you can read this as just me expanding on the most recent episode and the following promo, I know something that happens in here happens in canon's near future. So read at your own risk.

Haunted

The town had gone to hell. Literally. The dead - the real dead, not Klaus' kind of dead - were walking around as if they owned the place. Klaus fell into one of the Salvatores' plush armchairs and stared into the empty fireplace.

Luckily for him, the dead so far were all supernatural in their lives and all had died in this town. Klaus had only killed two supernatural beings by his own hand here and neither woman had shown up yet. That didn't mean they wouldn't though, especially the doppelganger's guardian if she got angry enough, which was why he was biding his time here instead of using the chaos outside as cover to take Elena. Women were ever so touchy about that whole murder thing - and even moreso when it was aimed at their young.

He let his head fall back, wishing he'd thought to bring along a buxom brunette or two.

There was a split second after the faint creak of a floorboard for Klaus to wonder who it was and how they'd gotten inside without making a sound. The next split second saw him flying head first into the fireplace. He came out of it roaring, soot covering his face and clouding his vision. Whoever had done this was going to pay!

"Hello, Niklaus."

Klaus' anger rushed out of him, leaving an odd emptiness where it had been. He wiped the soot quickly from his eyes and quickly altered his growing genuine smile into a sardonic one.

"Alexandra," he drawled, lowering his head in an echo of a bow.

The smile on her angelic face was pained and he watched a debate rage in her eyes before she dropped her hips, giving him what could almost be the beginnings of a curtsy.

"It's been a long time," he said, stepping forward to circle her.

She wore typical teenage fashion of the day but he'd never mistake her for anything typical. Her hair hung loose down her back. He smiled now that she couldn't see him. She'd always liked it long and had taken great pains to keep it healthy. He remembered moonlight shining on it as she brushed it out after a kill. His hands would itch to run through it but she'd threatened more than once to stake him if he dared interrupt her routine. He always laughed until the day she threatened to leave. He'd never bothered her about it again and she'd left anyway.

"It has," she said, completely unconcerned to have the most deadly creature alive at her back. He smiled, thinking she might not have heard just how dangerous he was now. It would be a treat to see her face when he told her. "You finally succeeded." She let a beat go by before turning to him with an impish grin. "You didn't think I missed the news? I may be out of the loop these days but you changed the world."

"I always said I would," he said and returned to his seat. He was not pouting.

She watched him, that sad smile still on her face.

"Oh, what is it?" he snapped. "Do you not approve of me achieving my destiny after over a thousand years of effort? Or is this about whatever perceived slight made you leave me all those centuries ago?" He was not used to being left. He was the one who left them, frequently for dead.

Anger flashed in those soulful eyes and he was perversely happy to have gotten a rise out of her. "Of course I don't approve! And no, not everything is about you! This is not about you becoming a hybrid." She stood over him, arms crossed and motherly mask in place. "This is about Stefan."

A chill settled in Klaus' stomach at the name.

"And what," he asked slowly, attempting to put up a casual demeanor, "do you have to do with Stefan Salvatore?" What, his subconscious added, do you have to do with my friend/servant/slave?

She smirked. "Don't give me that look. Stefan is like my brother."

The corners of Klaus' mouth curved up in relief, only to drop promptly down when she slapped him.

"And you turned him back into a Ripper!"

He shook himself, silently reminding himself that physical force never got him anywhere with this one. "And what is so wrong with that? It's what he is. He shouldn't have to hide it."

"No. No no no. Being a brutal murderer is not like being gay or having a secret love for soap operas, it is a bad thing, the kind of thing you're supposed to fight against."

"I disagree," Klaus said smoothly. This was not going at all as he'd imagined - not that he'd imagined meeting Alexandra again, but if he had, it would have involved her begging forgiveness and promising to fulfill every one of his twisted desires. It would not have involved Stefan Salvatore - not as a participant (he did not share) and not as a topic of conversation (again, he did not share and if she was coming back she was to come back to be wholly his).

Alexandra was furious. "I did not drag that idiot back from insanity time and time again so you could turn off his humanity, Niklaus."

"You taught him control?" Klaus asked, not sure whether to be impressed at her strength of character or shocked that their paths had run so close even after all this time. "Why?"

Some of her anger ebbed, replaced by that sorrowful look again. "I never enjoyed it like you," she confessed, "and after everything I saw with you … it was wrong, Niklaus."

"They're inferior, cattle, they-"

"They're us. They're us and if you can't see that, you're not worthy to lead anyone."

"How dare you!" he growled. He lunged at her, fully intending to bite her, let her languish under the effects of the bite for a few days, then cure her when she was ready to see reason. It would have worked quite nicely, he could already see her wrapped in his arms, crying into his chest and begging forgiveness, but when his teeth should have sunk into her flesh they slid right through it like vapor. His whole body fell through hers and he sprawled on the floor. He rolled over, dumbstruck, to stare up at her.

She smiled sadly down at him and gave a slight nod, confirming what he already knew. She knelt beside him and he actually flinched away from her touch.

"Much as I hate to admit it," she said while her impossibly warm hand cupped his cheek, "some small part of me still loves you, but more than that there are people I love - really, fully love - still in this world."

"Should I be surprised that you were not faithful?" He'd intended it to come out biting but it sounded frightened even to his own ears.

"We made no oaths, Niklaus," she reminded him. That had been his decision, not hers. "And you should be thankful, I'm here to warn you for their sakes more than yours. You've upset the balance, more than that you've beaten her by breaking the curse and keeping the doppelganger."

"Not my fault," Klaus cut in.

"Do you think she cares? She doesn't care about the balance anymore, all she wants is to hurt you, and she'll rip this whole world apart to do it."

"And what do you suggest I do?" he asked. "I can't even defend myself from one vampire ghost. What am I to do against the ghost of the most powerful witch to ever live?"

Alexandra smiled, truly smiled for the first time. "She was the first. That doesn't make her the most powerful."

Klaus frowned and opened his mouth to ask what he was supposed to do with that little morsel. Alexandra's head snapped up.

"Elena's witch friend is doing the spell." She looked back down at him seriously. "Fix Stefan. Save the world from that dead bitch."

She moved to stand and he couldn't let that - two orders, only one he could perform and that for his own gain anyway - be the last he ever heard from her. He reached for her wrist and actually grabbed hold. She seemed as surprised as he was.

"Who killed you?" he asked, a growl creeping into his voice.

She shook her head wryly and leant her forehead against his. "You're a murderer already, I'm not about to make it easier for you." The hand cupping the back of his head tightened painfully. There was a slight choke in her voice when she breathed, "Be better, Niklaus."

And then he was alone, one hand lifted, just about to brush through hair that hadn't been there for a long time.


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