"What a beautiful day," Meredith sighed peacefully, stretching her arms above her head as she relaxed into one of her family's patio chairs. "We haven't had weather this nice in months."
Elena nodded, plopping down into the seat next to Meredith's. "It is nice. I can't wait to see Stefan– I was thinking we could go out on a walk later, after we go to his poetry reading at the coffee shop."
Meredith grinned at her. "I'm glad you finally made your choice. It's nice to see you so happy." She took a delicate sip of her iced tea, watching Elena smile over the top of her glass. It was clear that she was just as pleased as Meredith with her choice of the Salvatore brothers. Not only was Stefan more peaceful, but he was kinder, too, and Meredith had no doubt that Damon would be able to fall in love again some day. Stefan, on the other hand, could clearly only ever love Elena.
"OH!" Elena said. "Here he comes now… my love, my Stefan, what a surprise!" She hopped out of her chair as Stefan walked down the street towards Meredith's house. He looked distracted, though, and sped right past Elena's open arms and went straight to Meredith instead.
Meredith was disturbed. It wasn't like Stefan to ignore anyone– especially not Elena! She wondered what was wrong with him. There was a look in his green eyes that was different than normal… somehow more intense.
Suddenly, Stefan grabbed Meredith's hand and pulled it to his mouth, where he gave it a quick, meaningful kiss. Then he looked back at her, and said in a voice that was full of the kind of love that he usually reserved for Elena, "Meredith… will you marry me?"
Meredith was shocked. It was a ridiculous thing to be asking! Meredith and Stefan had never acted romantically towards each other… had never been anything more than friends. So why would Stefan be saying this? In front of Elena, out of all people?
"No, I won't marry you," Meredith chocked out after a long pause. She could see Elena out of the corner of her eye, and she was shaking in horror. "Why would I marry you, Stefan? You're Elena's, and I–"
Stefan shook his head roughly. "Elena doesn't own me. I can do whatever I want!"
Elena began to sob in dismay, but Stefan just ignored her. "And it's you I want, Meredith… with your smooth olive skin… your lovely gray eyes… your long, black hair, like a mysterious curtain that I can push aside–" he pushed some of her hair out of her face "– to find the real, wonderful girl inside. I've always loved you, Meredith. Always."
Meredith was deeply disturbed by all this, but she wasn't sure how to get out of the situation. "Look, Stefan… that's great and all… but I love Alaric."
Stefan started laughing, a deep, sadistic chuckle that made Meredith's skin crawl in horror. What was wrong with him? And why hadn't Meredith thought to bring her stave outside with her?
"Alaric's dead, Meredith," Stefan said bluntly. "I killed him."
It was like her entire world had shattered and she was living in a nightmare. This was a nightmare– a psychotic vampire had suddenly decided he loved her, and had killed her boyfriend! Meredith tried not to think of Alaric right now. What she needed to do was get herself and Elena away from Stefan.
"Okay, Stefan, that's cool," she said slowly. "Elena and I need to go now, to make– uh– wedding plans."
It looked like Stefan was actually going to let them go with that excuse when Damon walked over to them all, holding, for some reason, cotton candy.
"My brother, my hunter, and my beautiful old flame, how nice to see you all!" he gushed, clearly pleased about something. Meredith managed to edge herself over to Elena, but they stayed put, worried for Damon's safety.
Damon beamed at Stefan and said, with his signature half-smile, "And I got your joozie, too, little brother."
Stefan nodded at Damon as greeting, then turned back to Meredith. He appeared frightfully paranoid. "Meredith! I see how you're looking at my brother– such lust should be reserved only for me!"
And just like that, he stalked over to Damon and ruthlessly ripped out his heart.
Elena stifled a scream, and grabbed Meredith's hand. Together, they sprinted away while Stefan threw Damon's heart onto the ground and stomped on it. As they ran down the street, the horrible smell of dead bodies overwhelmed Meredith's nose, and she and Elena began gagging; it looked (and smelled) as if Stefan had killed every man in Fell's Church! Meredith was forcefully reminded of Alaric again, but she was too numb to mourn him now.
As Meredith had expected, Stefan caught up with them quickly after they departed and grabbed Meredith around the waist, where he pulled her into a passionate kiss. Meredith did not kiss him back. It was all she could do to tell him no.
Stefan dropped her down after a moment and frowned at her. "Still no interest from you, I see… what could the problem be? I killed every man in the world… every male being… except Matt!" he realized. "I forgot to kill Matt!"
"No!" Elena yelled. "I won't let you, you can't kill him!"
"Just watch me, you controlling freak!" Stefan shouted, and he ran off. A minute later, he was back, and he held a struggling Matt in his arms.
"Let me go!" the all-American young man yelled. "Let me go-o-ooo!"
Stefan snorted, took a knife out of his pocket, and slit the boy's throat. Elena and Meredith exchanged equally horrified looks.
"Humans are just too easy," Stefan said with a smirk, licking the blood off the knife. Hearing him say that, that reminder that he was a monster, snapped Meredith back into action. She glared at Stefan with absolute hatred.
"I certainly will not marry you after that. In case you didn't notice, you've murdered basically half the population… I'm not into that, Stefan."
"I'm not into that, Stefan," he mocked her in an annoyingly high-pitched voice. "I don't care, Meredith. I'm the only man left, you have to have me now."
Meredith crossed her arms. "I'd rather die." She turned to Elena, desperate. "Please, lets just got get Bonnie and jump off a cliff."
But it appeared Elena had a better idea. "You killed every man in this world… but not the Dark Dimensions. Meredith, we need Sage." Meredith nodded, fervently agreeing. Sage was a strong enough vampire that he could surely stop Stefan from killing anyone else… he had to be strong enough.
Stefan glared at them. "You two are too close…" he growled. "Maybe I'll kill Elena and Bonnie, too… I want Meredith all to myself. That's how much I love her." It didn't sound like love to Meredith. In fact, it sounded like Stefan had completely lost his mind.
Meredith wasn't quite sure how to get Sage to help them, or how to contact him. But it turned out that due to some miracle, he had come to check out what was up with the Earth, and ran to Elena, Meredith and Stefan as soon as he saw them.
"Sage, you need to help us get rid of Stefan!" Elena begged, tears glistening on her pure face. "Please!"
Sage stared at Matt's body, seemed to realize what was going on, and nodded. "But… where is the homme fol? I do not see him."
Meredith whipped around to where Stefan had been standing behind her–it had been foolish of her to let him out of her sight. He was indeed gone. "He was here just a minute ago… where could he be?"
There was a blood-curdling scream in around the corner, and Elena and Meredith both realized it at the same time. "BONNIE!" they yelled in horror.
Sage grabber Meredith in the crook of one arm and Elena in the other and took of running in the direction of the scream. What she saw made Meredith sick to the stomach. Stefan had Bonnie pinned to the ground, covered in blood, as he broke her body and cut her terribly with the blade he'd used to kill Matt.
As Elena fell to the ground, vomiting out of the shock and grief of the past ten minutes, Meredith ran to her friend, tears actually coming to her eyes for the first time. "Bonnie!" she sobbed. "Oh, Stefan, let her GO! Please… don't kill her, too…."
Stefan bared his teeth at Meredith like a wild animal. "I won't kill her, don't worry. I won't put her out of her misery as long as I can help it."
As Stefan spoke, Sage leapt at him, trying to catch him by surprise, but Stefan saw him coming and flung out his arm, knocking Sage to the ground several feet away.
"You know what," Stefan said in a contemplative tone, "maybe I will kill her. You know, so I can have you all to myself." Meredith fell to her knees as Stefan took his knife and slowly but surely etched something into Bonnie's pale, bloodless arm. When he was finished, he plunged his knife once more into Bonnie's chest, ending her life forever. When he stood up and backed away from the body, Meredith gasped.
Bonnie's arm said, in shaky handwriting that was dripping with her blood, MEREDITH LOVER.
"No one will live," Stefan said. "No one but you… and me."
Meanwhile, the Guardians decided that they'd had enough. "We can't let this go on any longer," a Black-And-Very-Nice one said.
"No, I suppose we can't… human life is too valuable to come to an end like this," agreed a Blonde-And-Very-Practical one.
But the Ginger-With-Green-Eyes-And-A-Bad-Attitude wasn't quite as enthusiastic. "Why don't we just go back in time and see if they can help themselves?"
"Well, I suppose we can try that a few times," said the Blonde-And-Very-Practical one. "I am starved for entertainment." So, using their mystical Powers, they reversed the events of that day and brought it back one hour.
Stefan Salvatore was in the kitchen of the boarding house, doing the dishes, when he dropped a plate by accident. It fell to the ground and shattered.
Watching it break like that caused something, something that had been steadily been growing more and more unstable over all the many years Stefan had been a vampire, to snap.
At first he didn't know what was going on. He felt, somehow, free. Free of feelings. Free of care. Free of pain. And as this feeling grew bigger and bigger, he caught sight of a photo of a beautiful young woman, standing with her friends. That young woman was Meredith. It was then that Stefan realized that he wanted… he needed her.
He needed to kill Alaric.
But just before he could go complete his task, his stupid brother came in, whistling and completely oblivious to Stefan's new worldview.
"Hello, Stefan!" he said. He had been making an effort to please his brother recently, and had started using his actual name. "What's up?"
Stefan tried to make his face a blank, emotionless mask. He needed to distract Damon so that he could complete his task. "Damon… you know what would be great? You know what I would like? A joozie."
Damon stared at him. "A what?"
"A joozie. You know… like a hot tub?"
"A Jacuzzi?" Damon asked.
Stefan nodded quickly. He didn't really care what it was that Damon would be looking for… he just needed to get him away. "Yes, a Jacuzzi. And also some cotton candy. The girls would love that." Love. The word alone made him think of Meredith. Stefan couldn't get her out of his mind. She was invading his thoughts… but he loved it. He loved her. So he needed to kill Alaric as soon as possible.
Cocking his head to the side, Damon stepped forward. "You think if I got the girls a Jacuzzi and some cotton candy then they'd make out with me?" he asked. Stefan couldn't tell if he was teasing or not. The idea of Damon making out with Meredith was quite disturbing, but Stefan knew that if it ever got that far he would be able to kill his brother. For now he would try and keep him to use him as a distraction for Elena.
"Sure they'd make out with you. They'd love those things. Humans adore joozies and cotton candy, take my word for it, I've been spending time with them for years."
"Okay, then," Damon said, flashing his wild grin at Stefan, "I'll go get them. Nothing like shopping, really. I love it."
He left, and Stefan heaved a sigh of relief.
But then there were footsteps down the stairs and a second later, old Mrs. Flowers poked her wrinkly, aged head inside and smiled at Stefan. She had surprised him, though, and by instinct he had picked up a knife and thrust it into her heart.
"What?" she gagged, falling to floor as she died. Stefan ignored her, grabbed four more knives just in case, and fled the house with vampiric speed. He needed to find Alaric.
Alaric had recently bought a home in Fell's Church, and Stefan knew exactly where he was. He made it to the man's house in record speed and spied on him for a minute through the window.
Meredith's boyfriend was sitting at his kitchen table, talking on the phone and drinking from a large mug of coffee. Stefan was filled with jealousy just looking at the face which Meredith had no doubt kissed hundreds of times. He looked at Alaric's forehead and wondered how many of his knives would fit in there at once. He decided three, which was good, because then he'd still have one left.
Alaric looked up suddenly and saw Stefan. His face broke out into a bewildered smile, and Stefan broke the glass with his fist, poked his upper body through, and thrust three knives through the air. They landed out after another in Alaric's head. Stefan gave a satisfied chuckle and proceeded to murder every other living man on Earth (except, of course, Matt, who he accidentally forgot).
Then he made his slow way up to Meredith's house, where he pushed back the pale blonde blob he had once adored and asked his true love to marry him. Which caused the series of events that once again led to him killing Bonnie slowly and painfully by torture.
"That was entertaining," said the Ginger-With-Green-Eyes-And-A-Bad-Attitude Guardian. Her fellows rolled their eyes. "No, really, come on… shall we watch again?"
The other Guardians exchanged bored looks but agreed to replay the events once more. "But keep in mind," the Blonde-And-Very-Practical one said, "they might remember it this time. That sometimes happens when you go back in time too much… the humans can remember the other times they experienced something, and change it."
"All the more entertaining!" said the Ginger, so they performed their magic and sent the poor Earthlings back another hour.
In the boarding house kitchen, Stefan dropped a plate on the floor and watched it shattered. He did not pick up the pieces. Instead, he stared at the photograph of Meredith longingly, making plans to kill Alaric.
But wait… hadn't he already killed Alaric?
Where was he? He looked around for Bonnie's bloody body, for Sage's broken form, for Elena's doubled over frame. But he was back in the boarding house, doing the dishes. Huh. He didn't know what to think of it all.
Damon came in, smiling and happy. "Hello, Stefan! What's up?" he asked. Then he saw the look on Stefan's face and froze, no doubt remembering Stefan ripping out his heart. Stefan's hands twitched. He wanted to do it again, to feel the blood of his competition trickling down his fingers.
Normally Damon was the master of disguising his emotions, but this time Stefan could read him like a book. "You know what would be great, Damon? A joozie."
"Nah," Damon said, keeping his voice steady despite the fear in his eyes. "I think I'll stay right here right now… both of us can. Want to watch a movie?"
Stefan shook his head. So Damon wanted to prevent him from killing everyone again? Was he perhaps planning on killing Stefan himself? Stefan didn't like this. "No, Damon, you'll get me a joozie and some cotton candy… right now."
Damon frowned. "I'm staying here, little brother."
Stefan ran towards him at super speed and ripped out his heart. Then he ran upstairs and killed Mrs. Flowers, and then he killed Alaric, and then he killed every man in the world, this time remembering Matt. Finally, he sprinted to Meredith's house, to find his love, to kiss her, marry her, only to find that… she wasn't there.
"Huh?" he said. "Meredith? El– Iliana?" He couldn't quite remember the blonde one's name. "Where are you?" He couldn't find them anywhere inside the Sulez household. "Hm. Where is my love?" He wandered around the streets aimlessly for a moment, wishing that Meredith could be with him. Then he realized where she must have been: at Bonnie's house!
But she wasn't there, either, and neither was Bonnie. Stefan swore in anger and frustration. Where were they!
Then he heard footsteps coming to him, rapidly at first, then more slowly, cautiously approaching him from behind. He acted like he didn't hear, but secretly he was planning on immediately killing whoever it was.
The footsteps were so close. Whoever it was sneaking was right behind him. He acted interested in Bonnie's father's body, his own body tensing as he prepared himself to kill, rip, destroy.
"Stefan?" the voice said. He turned around and grabbed the person's throat, only to realize that it was Caroline. He didn't need to kill her. He let go, breathing hard, but kept close, so he could grab her if she tried to escape.
"What are you here for?" he demanded. She swallowed hard.
"My dad– Tyler– my brother– they're all dead! I just wanted… my friends…." She looked genuinely upset and Stefan almost felt bad for her, remembering how he had laughed evilly as he killed those three men.
Stefan patted her on the back gently. "I'm sorry, Caroline, but they're not here. Do you know where they could be?"
But Caroline was no longer looking at Stefan, but behind him, at the body on the floor. "IS THAT– Oh my God…." She looked like she was about to faint. Stefan didn't have time for this.
"WHERE ARE YOUR EX-FRIENDS!" he snarled, shaking her to put more of an edge on the question. She whimpered.
"I thought they'd be here… listen, why is he dead? Why is my dad dead? Why is everyone–" Stefan pulled a knife out of his pocket. If she wasn't going to be helpful, she was useless to him. She saw the knife, grew pale, and gave Stefan the kind of information he'd been looking for. "We usually hung out here, but since they're not– uh, here, then we used to go down to the–"
"The cemetery, where Elena's parents are buried," Caroline whispered. "We used to go there all the time… it was our secret meeting spot when things were bad… please don't… don't hurt me, Stefan!"
Stefan ran out of the house and to the cemetery as quickly as he could. He needed to dispose of Elena and Bonnie so he would never have to share Meredith, not ever. Luckily, Caroline's information had proven to be true and he found Elena, Meredith, and Bonnie huddled together in the graveyard. But they weren't alone.
Sage was with them, and even from fifty feet away, Stefan could tell that he wanted Meredith. That look in his eyes… such a yearning for the girl Stefan was very familiar with, but he would not tolerate it on anyone but himself. He pulled out a knife in anger.
"There he is!" Bonnie shrieked in terror. "Someone, help me! He hates me! He'll– he wants to kill me, please, someone, HELP!"
Elena clapped her hand over Bonnie's mouth to make the annoying noise stop, and Stefan ran over. "Meredith!" he said, hugging his love. "I've missed you!"
"Get off of me!" Meredith screamed, pushing him away. "Sage, get him!"
Sage smiled at her, and Stefan's blood boiled in acidic envy. "Sure thing, mon ami! We can stop him this time!"
"Stop me from what?" Stefan asked, dodging a lethal looking blow from Sage. "I already killed all the men on Earth, even Matt. It's too late to prevent that. I suppose you can still stop me from destroying you, Bonnie, and Elena, but probably not." To prove his point he leapt up, got his legs around Elena's neck, and twisted hard, breaking her. Bonnie screamed and began to scuttle away fearfully.
"I'll still get you," Stefan told Bonnie. He turned back to Sage. "And you."
Sage rolled his eyes. "Not this time, Stefan," he said. "You can't get me." Stefan shook his head at Sage's delusion. He very well could get him. To prove it, he barreled towards him, and ripped out his throat with his teeth.
"Ha. Dead," he said. "Now, who do I have left? Bonnie? This'll be fun."
He saw that Bonnie was hiding behind Meredith this time, shaking in fear. Stefan shook his head sadly. "Meredith, to protect people from vampires, you need some sort of weapon at least. I'd have thought that you of all people would know that, darling."
Meredith whimpered in uncharacteristic fear. "Please, leave Bonnie…. She's my friend and I love her."
Stefan's eyes narrowed. "You only love one, and that's me," he said. "I can't leave her. You're mine and mine alone."
"Please, Stefan!" Meredith begged. Stefan shook his head and rolled up his sleeves to prepare for the murder, walking around Meredith and reaching his hands out to grab Bonnie….
His hands touched running water, and he dropped the plate he was holding into the sink, where it didn't break, but rolled around a couple times, eventually coming to a stop. He was back in the boarding house, doing the dishes. "NO!" he yelled. "I was so close– SO CLOSE!"
He flung the rest of the dishes on to the floor, where they shattered into thousands of dangerous pieces. "I WILL KILL EVERYONE YOU LOVE, MEREDITH SULEZ! YOU WILL BE MINE AND MINE ALONE!"
He didn't want to wait for Damon this time, and he wouldn't bother with Mrs. Flowers until later. He grabbed his knives and ran outside. He needed to kill Elena, Bonnie, Matt, Sage, and Mr. Sulez, but most importantly, his main competition, Alaric Saltzmen. He needed to get to his house before anyone else.
He didn't make it.
When he got there, not only Alaric, but also Meredith, Elena, Bonnie, Matt, Sage, Caroline, and Damon were there, as if anticipating who he would try to kill first. It was better this way, Stefan assumed. They were just making it easier for him, all flocking together like sheep.
Everyone was watching him. He didn't know who to kill first. Matt, because he was the easiest? Or Damon and Sage, because they were the only real competition? Or perhaps Bonnie, to make up for what he failed to do last time?
He decided on Bonnie and walked up to her calmly, knowing he could defend himself if needed. He pulled out his knife and pushed her down to the floor. She was so easy, hardly defending herself. What few kicks she threw at him barely tickled, and she flopped onto the floor as lightly as a rag doll. Someone was pulling at him from behind. He knocked them away from him harshly, breaking Bonnie's arm with his teeth.
"Little brother, this has gone waaaay too far," Damon's voice said from behind, but Stefan was concentrating on snapping Bonnie's leg in half.
"This stops now, sir. Your fete de massacre is over," Sage said as Stefan began tracing the letters into Bonnie's arm. MEREDIT–
Suddenly, he was knocked away from Bonnie's screaming body, and looked up into the livid, but gorgeous, face of Meredith. "My love!" he said in surprise. "Let me torture her! My message was not done!"
"This… ends… now," Meredith said, her face furious, and she took her stave, which she must have finally remembered, and put it much too close to Stefan's body for his comfort. Stefan wanted to push her away, but he was afraid to hurt her.
"Meredith," he said. "Please… I love you."
Meredith shook her head. "Killing everyone I love is not loving me. Torturing my friends is not loving me. I don't know what started your crazy obsession, but this is not love." She looked over her shoulder just then to look at Elena. "Elena, please don't hate me… you know what I have to do."
Elena nodded, tears in her eyes. "Do it now! Stefan's gone!"
Stefan didn't know what to think of it all. He thought he loved Meredith. He thought he was Stefan. Maybe it would be better if Meredith killed him. Then he wouldn't have to think at all. That's what he'd wanted all along. To be free….
"Bye, Stefan," Damon said mournfully. "I'll miss you."
"You were a good friend," Matt said.
"I loved you," Elena gasped.
And then Stefan realized his mistake. It wasn't Meredith he loved– it had never been Meredith! Elena… Elena was his love, she always would be, she loved him back. What had been wrong with him? What had made him kill those people? He was about to explain, to tell them that he'd been wrong, when suddenly, something incredibly painful pierced his chest.
And Meredith staked him through the heart.
So this is what death is like… Stefan thought vaguely. Five hundred years too late.
Everyone stared at his body, shaking in emotion. "Oh, oh, ohhhh," Elena cried out, doubling over in tears. Damon patted her back to comfort her, but he was crying too.
"We need to get Bonnie to the hospital," Meredith said pragmatically. "Now."
"What just happened?" Alaric asked. "Why did you kill Stefan? Why did he hurt Bonnie? What is going on?"
Matt smiled at him. "Believe me. You don't wanna know."
Caroline sneaked out of the room quietly, obviously feeling out of place. Meredith threw Bonnie over her shoulder and marched out to the car. Matt and Damon stayed with Elena. Meanwhile, Alaric stared down at Stefan's body.
"Whatever you did, it must have been pretty bad," he muttered.
The Ginger-With-Green-Eyes-And-A-Bad-Attitude Guardian grinned devilishly at the other Guardians and sent out a strong burst of Power. "I've got to see that again."