Warning: Language, definitely language. And...this is the last chapter? *wince* Please don't kill me!
Disclaimer: Too poor to buy the CW.
-verb (used without object)
-to succumb to temptation or sin
The dinner party did not go well to say the least. Oh they got Elijah, Elijah went down pretty quickly in the scheme of things but one thing they hadn't planned on was Elena showing up, Jenna showing up, in fact there were so many uninvited guests that if they were regular high school students and not 150 year old vampires they might have just found it amusing they were so popular.
Unfortunately it's not the kind of thing that equates to success when trying to kill one's brother.
Elena had of course tried to stop Bonnie as soon as she'd seen Elijah go down but it was already too late. The witch was good, he'd give her that. Stefan saw her put a dagger through Elijah with the help of a handy aneurism in point two five seconds, the original had barely walked in the door when he'd seen Rebekah and faltered and that was all the opening they needed. Luckily there were enough sensible vampires present in the room at the time to stop Elena from foolishly yanking out the dagger the first chance she got.
He could kind of understand where she was coming from, the entire supernaturally aware population of Mystic Falls knew about the ritual now thanks to Elijah (and Stefan's inability to keep his mouth shut as Klaus liked to often remind him) and most sympathised with Elena. Which they should, hell Stefan probably…no. He had known Klaus longer even if he'd forgotten and that was all he needed to justify it to himself.
"You know what your problem is Stefan?" Klaus had said to him the previous night as he watched the younger vampire stare at the ceiling, a million thoughts buzzing through his mind, feeling to pressure of the full moon draw ever closer, along with the pressure to make a decision on exactly how he was going to play this game. Especially since he'd promised Klaus – promised him what, they hadn't specified, but Stefan's gut could tell when he was floating into murky waters.
"You're conflicted, that you're not conflicted." Stefan had frowned at that. "It's just you Stefan, you care even when you don't. You've just always been that way."
Klaus knew him so much better than he knew himself. What he was thinking, how he felt. He could define Stefan's inner turmoil eons before he himself had even thought about it.
His decision had already been made.
The week leading up to the full moon passed quietly and though the tension in the air rose to almost suffocating levels, no one spoke a word about it. There were no group meetings, no talks of 'plans' and Stefan felt himself relaxing a little against his better judgement.
Even Katherine who had spent the last week since her escape from the tomb, surprisingly holed up in the boarding house with Damon hadn't spoken a word of the matter. It was little amusing to Stefan how terrified of Klaus she seemed and while she tried not to show it, she wouldn't fail to make a hasty exit if Klaus ever entered the same room.
Damon was still guarded but seemed to be happy with himself most of the time which lead Stefan to wonder exactly what sort of relationship he and Katherine were having when they disappeared at all hours. He had the right to be worried about his brother, especially with a vampire who had already screwed him over more than once.
But they had a love spanning over a hundred years, that sort of thing sticks.
The morning of the full moon, Stefan wakes to an empty bed and an envelope placed inconspicuously on the pillow next to his. Frowning, he shuffles up into a sitting position and slides the flap up, letting the contents tumble out.
It was a plane ticket. To Charles De Gaulle. It's dated for departure tomorrow night with a layover in New York.
He looks up when the timber floorboards creak and finds Klaus leaning in the doorframe, studying him.
"If everything goes easily, we'll be out of here by tomorrow, love."
Stefan doesn't need to look back up from the ticket again to see the offer for what it is – a bargain, a deal. Don't interfere, make the right choice and we can do whatever you want, go wherever you want.
He's offering him the world, trying to buy his choice right out from under him.
And damn if Stefan isn't easy.
The corner of Klaus' lip quirks up in victory and he slips from the room, leaving Stefan to contemplate the consequences of the decision he never really had to make.
The ripper doesn't want to go to the sacrifice, he doesn't want to even leave his room and he remains in there, long after night has fallen and the others have all filtered out of the house, whether they have their own agendas or not he doesn't know.
Maybe they had all been planning something and kept it from him. He hadn't seen Caroline or Bonnie since the dinner party, he wondered whether Bonnie had found a workable spell, tried and true. Maybe they all just couldn't miss a good show and their curiosity got the best of them.
It didn't matter. He didn't want to leave his bed and he wasn't going to. Until the thought occurred to him that Klaus wasn't indestructible. That even if he had the backup of his sister and the witches, who knows what could happen? Were Damon and Katherine there? He would like to think his brother wouldn't let Klaus die if he could help it but what if, what if, what if?
He growled, throwing on new clothes and stalking out of his room. "Shit."
It doesn't take much to find them, the forest floor is ablaze and the rising smoke and glowing halo guides him like a beacon. He finds himself on the edge of a cliff face overlooking a clearing below. There is an altar, Klaus' witch Greta at the forefront, two fiery circles, Jules' dead body in one and Elena and…was that Jenna in the other? Klaus was by Greta, his head having shot up to find Stefan the second he'd appeared.
The hybrid sends him a look that Stefan can't quite discern from his position and then goes back to what he was doing. No one else is present and Stefan has a dawning comprehension that perhaps this would be too much for Damon to handle. That if he truly wasn't going to interfere for Stefan's sake then seeing Elena die would be all too much for him. Even if it was a manifestation of his love for Katherine, Damon really had cared about Elena to some degree.
So it was just them.
Elena hadn't noticed him at all, she wouldn't being a human. Jenna had looked up though in confusion and that's when it hit him that Jenna was a newborn.
"Why Jenna! Why did you have to do this to her? Jeremy's going to have no one!"
"I thought it was kind of poetic," the hybrid smirked down at the crying girl, circling the two casually. "It had to be someone you cared about of course."
Stefan knew that Klaus had a mean streak but this was beyond anything he'd seen the hybrid do before. He held so much rage for the doppelganger, wanting to see her suffer before she died and Stefan couldn't help but feel a little terrified that it was on his behalf. He bit his lip at the intensity.
"I was going to use your little blonde friend you know," the blonde continues cruelly, "but I've grown to like her too much."
Stefan remained a silent observer, doing nothing to give his position away until he saw the newborn's muscles tighten in preparation to move and he was in motion before you could blink. He anticipated Jenna's bare fanged launch at Klaus and before he even knew what had happened he was watching her fall backwards, pine protruding from her chest.
Elena was screaming and he staggered back a step, brain still processing what had happened as Jenna's body shrivelled. He stumbled literally into Klaus' arms and the hybrid commented fondly, "I had it under control, ripper."
Stefan let the warm hands on his waist anchor him and closed his eyes. "Shit," he croaked, wincing as Elena's head shot up to glare at him through rivers of tears.
"How could you Stefan?" She screeched, not moving from her place in the dirt, cradling Jenna's lifeless body.
"I…" He bit his lip. "She was going to kill Klaus." And that was just it. Jenna was trying to kill Klaus and Stefan stopped her – he was honest in his belief that there wasn't even a decision to be made, he just hadn't realised it until today.
Klaus' grip slipped away from Stefan as he stepped forward. "Come now love, it's not like you'll never see her again." Maybe it had nothing to do with Stefan, perhaps he was being too conceited. Maybe Klaus was just the vicious vampire he'd heard him portrayed as in stories, fierce and cruel and all around heartless. Did that intimidate him? Yeah, but did it scare him off? Not really.
He turned around when Klaus made to pull Elena towards him and took a few steps towards the edge of the clearing. "You're not even going to watch me die Stefan?" Elena spat spitefully and he stopped in his tracks, but still refused to look over his shoulder. Just because her death was necessary didn't mean he wanted to watch the life drain out of her eyes.
He knew if he turned back she'd be standing there trying to be brave and determined to save all her friends, but her jaw would be quivering with the force of holding back tears and he would feel bad – he would, because like Klaus and Damon had said to him a million times, that was just him. But he wasn't going to lose Klaus, so why put himself through anything? Just turn around, face the trees and wait for it to be over. Not very ripper-esque of him, was it?
He could hear them talking but he didn't want to listen, unfortunately for him, every fibre of his body was tuned into Klaus' British accent and he noticed immediately when he stopped talking, heard the squelch as his fangs sunk into Elena's neck and began to drain her.
It was only when the hybrid cut off with a coughing choke that Stefan whirled around again to find Elena on her knees, bleeding from her throat and Klaus staggering back, grasping his head with a snarl.
His head whipped around to locate Bonnie across the clearing, one arm raised, her face scrunched up in concentration. Before he could even process the situation the witch was flying through the air and landing halfway across the clearing on her back.
"Sorry I'm late," was Damon's sarcastic comment and Stefan sighed in relief, noticing Klaus hesitated for only a second before snapping back into action and dragging Elena to him again. He'd been waiting hundreds of years for another chance at breaking the damn curse and he wasn't going to let it slip through his hands again.
"Where's Kat?" Stefan asked suddenly, assuming the brunette would be right behind his brother – she didn't have anywhere else to be right? Unless she'd ran off on him again, which honestly wouldn't surprise Stefan in the least, but he'd been hoping for Damon's sake that whatever they seemed to have this time was genuine.
A dark look crossed Damon's face and Stefan felt dread sink into his chest. So that was what had happened.
"She's at the boarding house."
Okay, that Stefan wasn't expecting. "What?" He frowned, "Why?"
"Well," Damon started furiously, "as you can see," he pointed at Bonnie's prone form a few yards away, "witchy couldn't find a spell to save Elena so there was a big uproar and at the last minute everyone decides, oh shit, we have to do something." Damon waves his hands as he talks and Stefan's eyes are wide with rapt attention. Where exactly is this going?
"So we're traipsing through the woods trying to find Bonnie because we know she's about to do something monumentally stupid and Barbie doesn't want two of her friends to die tonight." He rolls his eyes as he mentions Caroline. "Anyway, we both sort of forgot that it was a full moon and since Blondie wasn't with Lockwood…"
Stefan gaped. "He's running around out here somewhere? Holy shit Damon!" Everyone knew a werewolf bite could kill a vampire and unfortunately there were a lot of important people in this town of the undead variety. "Nice to know now!" He scowls, crossing his arms over his chest.
Damon sent him a baleful glare then that stopped him in his tracks. "He bit Katherine, Stefan." His brother winced even as he said it, as if in physical pain. "He…she…" Stefan hung on every word as his brother tried to articulate what had happened.
"She took the bite for me."
"What?" He frowned sceptically.
"Lockwood was going to bite me and she shoved me out of the way," Damon explained through grit teeth. The 'and now she's dying' remained unsaid. Stefan didn't know whether to believe him or not – Katherine sacrificing herself for someone else? That just didn't happen.
He had no choice though when she stumbled out of the woods and into the clearing, not looking too worse for wear except for the rapidly blackening skin that made up her wrist and the dark veins under her eyes betraying her hunger.
"What are you doing?" Damon hissed, pulling her to him. "You shouldn't be here."
"It's effecting her quicker than it did Rose," Stefan observes interestedly, momentarily forgetting that it meant that Katerina, Katherine, their maker and the girl his brother had loved for over a hundred years, was dying. She would die.
"Don't look too upset Stef," she hissed sarcastically, pulling the sweater she was wearing further up her arm so it wasn't touching the wound.
"Kat…" He sighed.
They still weren't the best of friends but his brother loved her.
He turned his head to find Klaus walking towards them, his eyes a strange blend of a golden yellow and his usual azure, his face sunken and slightly greying.
"It's the initial effects of the merge," he commented offhandedly as he noticed Stefan's look. "It should go away in a minute."
Stefan sighed in relief. He almost thought he'd regret his decision there if Klaus was going to look like that forever. Seemingly reading his thoughts the now true hybrid smirked. "What, you don't think I'm attractive anymore? I'm appalled Stefan."
The ripper rolled his eyes at the sarcasm, pulling the hybrid forward into his arms and holding on tightly. It was finally over and he hadn't lost the best friend he'd ever had. The best anything he'd ever had, since he wasn't even sure what category Klaus fell into anymore. Friend, lover, everything?
"How touching," Damon snipped and Stefan frowned. Damon was losing someone he cared about because of the decisions that Stefan had made, he was losing his love for Stefan's happiness, even if it was unintentional.
"Damon…" he started, but Klaus pushed him to the side.
"Don't tell me this is all over a silly little werewolf bite." He rolled his eyes against Damon's glare. He turned to Katherine then, tearing his wrist open with his fangs and holding it out to her. "Don't say I never did anything for you." He sent a steady look at Damon after that as well, making it clear that they both owed him.
Katherine looked confused, but took to the seeping wound anyway, unable to resist the allure of the hybrid's blood.
"Your blood is the cure?" Damon asked incredulously. "You couldn't have mentioned this before?"
Klaus only rolled his eyes. "I've never needed to save anyone before now, have I?" He glared back at the eldest Salvatore, daring him to suggest that he should have saved Rose after what she had brought on Stefan.
Katherine kept dragging the blood from Klaus' wrist and Stefan watched on as the blonde's eyes screwed shut involuntarily, his body jerking as he stifled a moan. Snarling, Stefan pulled Klaus back, shoving Katherine away from him forcefully and putting himself between them.
Klaus chuckled at his jealous behaviour and Katherine looked directly at him and smirked. Stefan didn't find it very funny. He glared at his brother's conquest before turning on his heel and stalking away.
"C'mon ripper," Klaus called after him.
He had stifled a moan. A moan! Seriously, the bitch was dragging the blood from his veins and he thought it was a turn on?
"I love it when you're jealous." Klaus's breath tickled his ear and Stefan shrugged him off.
"I can't help it if…" Klaus stopped mid-sentence, mouth open as Stefan turned to face him, expression murderous. He stalked the last two steps to where the hybrid stood, moving so they were nose to nose.
"You ever let her fucking touch you like that again and I'll rip your fucking-!" He was cut off mid-threat as Klaus slammed him against the tree behind him, crashing their bodies together and sealing their lips forcefully.
Stefan pulled the hybrid closer, raking his blunt nails down the blonde's back hard enough to break skin. He broke away panting as Klaus began to lift him off the ground. "I'm still fucking angry with you," he spat, before pulling the hybrid back in.
Was this what it would always be like between them?
Yeah, that was another question that didn't need answering.
A/N: So yeah, this is the end and Jesus H. Christ, please tell me you didn't absolutely abhorr it.
Thanks so much to all of you, every single person who reviewed, you brightened up my day and I love you for it.