TITLE: still looking up
CHARACTERS: Elena Gilbert, Elijah Mikaelson, Stefan Salvatore, Jenna, Damon, Jeremy, etc.
TYPE: multichap, alternate universe
GENRE (darkfic, romance, angst, etc) : angst, hurt/comfort, friendship, romance, everything
SPOILERS (from the show or books) : Eventually, for a lot, but currently nothing.
SUMMARY: s1!AU. He knows that voice. It has haunted him for one thousand years. But it's not possible. Tatia is dead. Katerina had no children. And yet, here she is. Who is this girl? He could ask her. Just one word. One question. That should be enough. But it isn't. Elijah/Elena.
NOTES: The formatting of this fic is different than I normally do. You'll notice in a little while that the action/thoughts are all italicized while the dialogue will be normal. It's something I started doing during the writing of this fic, and I feel as if that's as much a part of it as anything else. If you don't like it, and seriously can't handle it, tell me in a review and I can change it for the future chapters where it isn't already written and formatted. For this one, though, it's staying. Give it a chance. I think the actual words are worth any annoyance you might feel over it. I do not plan on stopping writing, but I will stop posting if other people are not interested, so, please do review if you are.
The rushing sound of a million sirens circles in his skull, blaring louder than the screams of the dying or even the slow dripping of the blood off his fingertips. It circles and ensnares him. Captures him like the beast he is in a cage of sound. He tries to look away from the bodies before him, but how can he? How can a human being not stare at the dismembered fingers and slivers of organs that litter the ground? Somewhere, in one of these bodies, a heart still beats, still pumps blood out only for it pool on the floor. He can't pick out which it is. Every victim is coated in red, a taunting kind like a mirage that calls to him. The song it sings is like a different sort of siren, the sort that makes him hungry despite the way his stomach churns. He forces it back. Not now. He can't do this now. He manages to look away, but he finds another body. One look at this one sends him reeling back, tripping over some nameless man. There's a name on his lips though, on Elijah's. He doesn't know if he says it, only that every other sound and sight and emotion fades away. In place of everything, there is but one word, one name -
Elijah wakes with a jolt, a shuddering charge ripping through his flesh. He blinks quickly, but the image refuses to disappear. He wonders how it's possible that one thousand years haven't managed to cure the nightmares. If anything, they have only gotten worse. But that is life. The more a person sees, the more they can be tortured with. Elijah has seen a lot. He does not wish to see anymore. Not today. Not after that. In fact, he wants to go back. Being in the place of his death, the place of hers, should help him. Whenever the guilt gets bad, it helps. So he pushes away the covers and hurries to get dressed, hurries to Mystic Falls.
The memories he encounters in the town are widespread. Memories from 1864, of watching the future ripper of Monterey tear into his own father, and from years before when vampires from all over came to mourn the death of the Salem witches, and also from his own childhood. He remembers how Kol and Rebekah would draw figures in the dirt with their shoes during prayer. Then, once all of the others would leave to return to work, Elijah would stay with them, justifying every line and circle in some scathing satire on their lives. Now, the only joke is that they never end.
He walks the rows of the dead in the cemetery. Their lives get to end. How lucky they are to be free of all that they have done. They do not have to see the children of those they have killed. They do not bear the burden of the destruction of society. No, they are dead. As many wise people have said, himself included, it is the living that should be pitied. From the distance, he hears the sound of sniffling. It's a prime example of what he means. The living have such emotion, such heartache. He moves towards the sound out of curiosity. What is this person mourning? Who? He spots the person - a girl - crouched in the dirt, her face tucked down to look at the book in her lap. A journal most likely. The sight brings him back to another memory of his sister. In the days following Henrick's death, Rebekah would sit beside his tombstone, leaving presents and inviting him to play with her. Elijah's heart goes out to this girl, whoever she may be. He turns, prepared to leave her to mourn in peace. But then, she speaks, and everything changes.
"Hi, Mom. Hi, Dad."
Elijah stiffens. He knows that voice. It has haunted him for one thousand years. But it's not possible. It can't be. Tatia is dead. Katerina has no children. And yet, here she is. The next Petrova doppelganger. She's captivating. She's so broken, so plagued that when she speaks the sound of sorrow seems to seep from her soul. She talks to them, her parents, and apologizes for taking them away. For going to some party and bringing them out of the house. For killing them. She seems to believe it, that she is the reason her parents are dead. Elijah feels for her even more. She knows the same pain that he has been trying to let go of for centuries. He wonders how long she has until she learns to move past it. How long has it been since they died? He wants to know, but it's not just that. It's everything. He's overcome with the urge to know all he can about her. Who is this girl? What's her name? How old is she? She can't be much older than Tatia was, or Katerina. From the look of her, she's the same age. Is she as problematic, as enticing, as hauntingly, torturously addicting? Perhaps he could ask her. Just one word. One question. That should be enough. He glances up, prepared to move closer, and sees only the tombstone. She left? Was he that lost in thought? Now she is lost, gone off into the same town that has taken the last two doppelgangers from him. No, he will not lose another. He will find her.
He walks to the tombstone she called home. He skips the message, reading the names instead. Miranda and Grayson Gilbert. He knows that name, that property. He hunts down the Gilbert home. Stakes it out, watching as she and two others come in and out. The older woman, though not by much, is her aunt named Jenna. The boy, Jeremy, is the youngest of them all and also heavily medicated; the rhythm to his breathing and the scent on his blood gives that away. Though, Elijah doubts the females know. It takes hours before he finally learns the name of this doppelganger. Her brother says it on a dash out of the building, a simple, hurried "Elena." The rest of the sentence falls away. Elena. Her name is Elena.
It's a beautiful name. Fitting. He learns more about her as well. She's very well-known, a cheerleader, brilliant student, and has recently broken up with her boyfriend, a Matt Donavon. Elijah devours the information, but for as much as he learns, he creates more questions, more things he needs to know. So, after a week or so, he approaches her.
She's sitting at the Mystic Grill, a neglected plate of fries in front of her. She occasionally picks at it, but she's obviously done. He walks up to her slowly, giving her plenty of time to notice him and turn away if she wants to. She doesn't move.
Elena watches him curiously and apprehensively. She's not afraid, a symptom of being a small town girl who's lived here her whole life. He gets to the edge of her table and offers her a small smile. He tells her that he's a historian, and he was wondering if she was willing to talk to him about the town. She seems ready to turn him down when something catches her eye. She stares at it a moment before nodding, gesturing for him to take the seat opposite her. He grins and glances quickly at the other person, a young blonde girl with a confused expression. That must be Caroline, the pushy overzealous girl of Elena's circle. He turns back to Elena quickly enough; the blonde girl is much more Niklaus's speed. His eyes meet Elena's once he turns, and she quickly switches to looking back down at her fries.
He asks her how long she has lived in the town. Does she like it?
She doesn't know anything else. She's lived here her entire life, in the same house, with the same friends. It's... nice.
"Most of the time."
"What makes it unsafe? The people?"
"No, it's the area. There've been accidents." And then she goes quiet. He recognizes a similarity between her and Katerina at this point. They both hide insides of themselves, both physically and mentally. He recalls the way he brought her back, brought her to life.
"You go to the high school obviously. I've heard you have dances."
She chuckles a bit. "We do, but the real dancing happens at the parties Caroline throws." Real dancing? He wonders what that entails. Alcohol and drugs no doubt. He must have a look on his face because Elena gestures behind him to where Caroline has taken up residence at the bar. "That's Caroline Forbes. She's head cheerleader, in charge of every committee imaginable, basically an overly enthusiastic Type-A with no boundaries."
"I believe in boundaries. They keep people safe." That brings Elena to that other place again. He doesn't like that. "Though, I suppose sometimes cutting loose isn't a bad thing." He offers a smile. Elena returns it slightly.
"What did you say your name was?"
"Elijah Smith." The name rolls off his tongue so easily. He's used it for years, a simple way of evading Niklaus. Not that using Mikael's name would attract much attention. Still, it's what he uses this century.
"Elena Gilbert. Nice to meet you."
It occurs to him then, as her hand reaches for his, how backwards this has been. No names exchanged until a while into the conversation, no hands shaken. It's very modern of him. He can't fight his gentlemanly training though. He bows his head slightly, brushing his lips against the knuckles of her hand. "The pleasure is mine, Elena." He releases her hand easily, softly to the table. He thanks her for her time and tells her that his is sadly running out. He must be going.
She says her goodbyes, says it was nice to talk about something else for a change. He doesn't comment on her slip, doesn't ask his new question ("Something else?") since he already knows the answer. He merely agrees it was pleasant before turning away.
He leaves the Grill, but he doesn't go far. He walks around to the wall and leans there. Listens as footsteps approach her table and Caroline begins asking about him. Caroline is blunt, quick to assume and nowhere near as fast to apologize. She defends the boyfriend - Matt - saying that he deserves more than Elena flirting with some old guy.
Elena assures her friend that she wasn't flirting, and Elijah can't be that old. Caroline scoffs and says that he was definitely flirting with her; he kissed her hand. He wants her. It's like basic logic. Elena tells Caroline to drop it; she's not dating now.
Caroline's voice softens. "Because of your parents?"
Elena's hardens. "Because I don't want to, Caroline. I'm headed home. I'll see you at school tomorrow." And he hears the scraping of her chair, the sound of Caroline calling out to her, the door opening. He turns the corner, busying his hand with the change in his pocket. He hears her sharp intake of breath and glances up. She's right in front of him. Perfect.
She apologizes for nearly crashing into him. He apologizes for still being around. He managed to get himself a little lost. Could she direct him to a hotel?
She tells him how to get there and he thanks her again. He turns to leave, but she asks, curiously, how old he is. He pauses and when he looks at her, she has the faintest flush to her cheeks. It suits her. It makes her look more alive.
She takes in the information with a nod of her head. He hesitates and pulls out his business card from his pocket. He asks if she wouldn't mind meeting up with him again, perhaps to explore some of the town and give a bit more of the history. She agrees and takes the card and the pen he offers. She writes down her number and hands it back. He gives another card to her and tells her that he'll be in touch. Then he truly does take his leave. He walks to the hotel, checks in, and heads up to his room. He goes to the mirror and looks at himself. Makes the first of many promises.
"I will not get involved. I will gather only enough information to soothe my curiosity and then I will be gone. That is all."
He knows even as he makes it that it is one promise that will be difficult to uphold.
He calls Elena the very next day. He waits a respectable amount of time and then he calls.
"Hello. This is Elijah. We met yesterday at Mystic Grill. I was wondering if you were up to that tour and talk today."
She is. She tells him to wait one moment. She lays the phone down on something soft, a blanket perhaps. She goes out of her room and a bit away. Tells Jenna she's leaving for a few hours. Jenna gives her dismissal and Elena tells him to meet her back at the Grill. He's waiting outside before she can even hang up the phone.
They spend hours walking through the town. She informs him about the Founders parties and the things she's picked up over the years. He admits that he knows quite a bit about the early days of the town, back during the time of the Founders. He asks her about the folklore surrounding the town. Elena chuckles, "What? About the vampires? If you're here for those, you're going to be pretty disappointed."
Elijah shrugs. "I'm sure I'll find something else to keep me occupied." He glances sideways at her. Again, her cheeks flush.
She says that she won't be able to spend that much time with him. She has school, friends, family.
He tells her that's good. She has her priorities in order. Family first, and curious strangers last.
"You're not a stranger."
"Aren't I? What have I actually told you about myself?"
"Your name. Your phone number. Your age."
And I lied about two of them, he thinks. "What else would you like to know?"
She starts to deny that she wants to know anything, but she stops herself. "Do you have any family?"
"Yes and no. I was one of six children, but ill fortune has brought the number down. I'm honestly unsure if the number is currently three or two. Both of my parents are dead and have been for a very long time."
She gets that look again, like she's disappearing. "I can't even imagine what that must be like. I -" she steels herself "- my parents died this year. Four months ago. I couldn't even imagine getting through that without Jeremy or Jenna. That's my brother and my aunt. You don't have any other family?"
He shakes his head. "It's alright. I've learned that there's a peace in solitude. Lots of room for reflection. Though, at times, I seem to think too much. I've taken to writing down some of my thoughts. I find it helps... sort things out."
A bit of a spark returns to Elena's eyes. "You keep a journal?" He nods. "I do too. It's pretty simple stuff, mostly the little things I do and think about. It's probably just a bunch of whining."
"If it's what you're truly feeling, it's not simple. Your emotions are everything, Elena. They're how you perceive the world and how it perceives you. They're... they define you."
"So I'm defined by sadness and fear?" She chuckles breathlessly, uncomfortably, almost as if she can't believe she's opening up. She probably can't. He can't. How could she be so... trusting?
"No, by your strength. To accept that you're feeling those and not something more aggressive. Many people hide behind anger. You're not. You're strong."
She shakes her head. "You don't know me. I-"
"I'm a quick study. Alright. My turn to ask you a question."
"Your turn? Is this a game?"
He shrugs. He finds he does that a lot with her. Allows her to take what she wants in whatever direction she chooses. "If you wish. Where do you keep your journal?" She pauses. "It says a lot about a person."
"I hide it, where no one can get to it."
"Keeping it close to yourself and out of reach. You're afraid of how other people will read what you write. What they'll think of you after."
She doesn't get that look this time. She looks at him with a bit of shock. She's quick to respond. "Where's yours?"
"With me, right now."
"Right now? So you keep it very close because you don't want it in the wrong hands. You're afraid. You're paranoid."
He grins. "Cute." She grins back. "And, for the record, I'm not talking about your trick."
Her grin doesn't falter. She pushes at a loose strand of hair. "I know."
They go a few days without talking. The Saturday, the Sunday, and the Monday before her first week of school. On her actual first day, he waits outside of her house. He doesn't necessarily mean to, but he winds up a few houses down, watching as she gets picked up and heads away. He watches the car as it leaves, listens to her conversation with Bonnie, the witch. He's just standing and listening, so focused on that that he doesn't notice when another person approaches him. He turns when he hears a throat cleared. He finds himself looking directly at Elena's aunt, Jenna.
"Hello," he says.
She says, "You've been out here for an hour. It's creeping me out and the rest of the neighbors. I'll have to ask you to leave."
"I apologize for the inconvenience. I had come by to possibly speak with Elena Gilbert, but I got a little turned around once I got in this area."
Jenna's eyes narrow. "Elena? You do know that she's seventeen, right?"
"I'm aware. She was informing me on the way of the town. I'm a historian, and I like to compare what I've read with what exists today."
"Did you try talking to someone from a university? Or the Founders council?"
"I was told that Elena is a Founder. Well, a descendant of what you all classify as the Founders."
"She is, but she's also only in high school. If you want to talk to Elena, you talk to me first. Got it?"
Elijah nods with a grin. "Perfectly." He regards Jenna a moment before adding, "If you don't mind me saying, I can tell that Elena's a person who pushes away her own needs. It's good that she has someone to watch out for those. You're doing a fantastic job, especially for someone thrust into the role."
Jenna is stunned. Silent. She clears her throat again, though he's certain this one is just to regain some semblance of her tough exterior. She says, "Thank you. But that doesn't mean you get to talk to her whenever. I don't want to find you camped out on our street again either. Good bye..." And she waits for him to say his name.
"Good bye, Elijah Smith."
"And you as well, Jenna." Again, she seems stunned. She also seems impressed, intrigued. No doubt he will be the subject for discussion once Elena gets home from school. He can't help but wonder how that particular chat will go.
Hours later, Elijah finds himself listening in on that chat, well, on dinner as a whole. He's not technically on the street. He's lying on the roof, looking up at the moon while he listens to the food swirling around. The boy is absent, and Elena is... distracted. Jenna comments on it between a scrape of a fork across a plate.
"What's with you? Bad first day?"
Elena scoffs lightly. "Bad year, Jenna. But, um, actually I've been thinking about after school. I bumped into this guy."
"Do you mean the guy who was camped out here this morning?"
"Camped out? What guy?"
Another fork scrape. "Elijah Smith."
And Elijah isn't sure if it's his mind playing tricks on him that adds the hint of hope in Elena's voice when she asks, "Elijah? Here? I guess he really isn't giving up."
"Has he tried something? Because, Elena, this is definitely not something I should be condoning."
"He hasn't tried anything, Jenna. And, honestly, he's not the sketchiest guy I've met this week. The guy I met today, Stefan, is... mysterious, brooding, tortured in this way that makes me think he's seen a lot of dark stuff. He's got family in the graveyard, and he ran away from me."
"Ran away?" Jenna sounds confused. Elijah is too. Who would run away from Elena? And more importantly, is this Stefan the one he thinks it is? The great ripper of Monterey? The very same one who spent quite a while wrapped around Rebekah's finger?
"I had a cut on my leg. I was bleeding. He ran away."
"Yeah, so, I'm thinking about him."
"And not Elijah?"
He hears a pick up in the speed of Elena's blood. Not much, but she's probably slightly flushed. Her fork tosses around some pasta, which plops into the sauce as she exhales. "I'm thinking about him a bit too... He's interesting. Cultured. Intelligent. Caroline thinks he's flirting with me, but-"
"Oh, he's flirting."
"Jenna! He's not-"
"Elena, guys like that don't stick around at seven in the morning unless they're interested. Again, on the record, I can't condone it."
A pause. And Elena definitely does sound hopeful here. "Off the record?"
Jenna clears her throat and her fingers intertwine. She leans forward and says, "He seems nice, respectable, and he's definitely not bad on the eyes. I'd say be careful. Don't even think about anything going past eleven. No dates at his place. No sex-"
"Okay!" Elena's pulse is racing. She must be very embarrassed. She clears her throat, says, "I'm meeting Bonnie at the Grill. I should probably go get ready for that."
Jenna dismisses her with a little laugh. Elena rushes up the stairs and closes her door behind her. Elijah debates momentarily before pulling out his phone. He dials her. She answers instantly.
"Hello, Elena. It's Elijah."
"Yeah, they have this thing called caller id, so I already knew that."
"Right." He wonders where all of his words have gone. He's been around for one thousand years. He can talk on the phone without sounding like an idiot. "I've only been in town a few days at this point, and I don't know many people. I wondered if you would like to... do something."
"Do something?" She repeats. "Like... dinner or drinks or...?"
"I just ate actually. I was thinking a drink. Non-alcoholic of course. And possibly tonight."
Elena is silent. She's considering it. He's not exactly sure what to make of this silence. There's no fidgeting, no change in pulse, no breathing sounds. He can't prepare what to do next if he can't hear. What if she says -
"Alright, but I'm supposed to be meeting a friend. Is it okay if you have to share?"
He's spent five hundred years waiting for her. He couldn't give a damn about anyone wanting to spend time with her so long as he got his time. Well, okay, he might care about Niklaus, but his brother seems to be as ignorant as possible about this situation. Elijah hopes it stays that way.
"Of course. Friends before curious strangers, remember?"
She chuckles. "Right. Do you want to meet at the Grill, or you can come by and have another talk with my aunt Jenna about stalking?"
Now he chuckles. "I was not stalking. I was... curious. And I will gladly suffer through another interrogation for the honor of a night in your presence, Elena."
"I-I'll see you soon then."
"That you will. Until then, Elena."
He spends a moment looking at his phone, imagining the look on her face. He savors it until the moment is ruined by a noise. He glances out towards it. There's a figure in the distance. He looks a little closer, and it's a man with a book in his hand. Not just any man. It's Stefan, Stefan Salvatore. He should have known that one of the boys turned by the last doppelganger would find the current one. Elijah hops down, crossing easily towards Stefan from behind.
From over the younger vampire's shoulder, Elijah says, "Nice house, isn't it?"
Stefan doesn't bother glancing back. "I know one of the people who lives there."
"As do I. I'm actually headed there now. Could I pass along a message?"
Stefan's grip on the book tightens. Now that he's closer, Elijah can see it's a journal. Elena's? She did say she went to the cemetery. That seems to be where she does her writing. She must have left it. Stefan slowly unclenches and says, "I'll pass it myself. Tomorrow. Thanks for the offer though."
Elijah nods and heads forward to the home. Stefan doesn't leave until after Elijah knocks and Jenna opens the door. She does not seem exactly pleased to see him, but she's not displeased either.
"You know, camping out on the porch is still camping out," Jenna says.
Elijah replies with "It's not camping if I get permission. I would like to take Elena to the Grill for a brief night of conversation amongst her friends and possibly one or two non-alcoholic beverages that speak to us over the next say... two hours. Is that alright with you?"
Jenna looks much more pleased by this point. The edges of her lips have turned upwards, and she's about to consent when Elena comes barreling down the steps. Elena answers for her.
"Yes, it most certainly is," Elena says directly to him. She looks to Jenna. "We'll be with Bonnie, and probably Caroline too. I'll be back before eleven, and now that I have sadly shown my true age, I'm sure there will be no reason for you to call me on my phone, which is in my pocket. See you later, Jenna."
Both adults seem amused with Elena. She's had practice with this, this rundown of the itinerary. Were her parents protective? They must have been. He wonders if they would allow her out on the first night of school with a strange man. Then he figures that his chances with the aunt saying yes are much higher. He respectfully waves his goodbye and leads Elena down the street to where a car awaits. After a brief smile as they buckle in, he pulls away from the curb and off to the Grill. He doesn't have to be warned to know that he's about to enter the lion's den, with the prized cub on his arm. Still, it adds a bit of menace when Elena says, "Don't look them straight in the eye, and avoid Caroline. At all costs. I'm serious. You will never get away." And then she opens the door, waits for him to do the same, and they enter the building, side by side, ready for the first time to take on the world together.
That night, Elijah has another nightmare. It's similar to the one that drove him to Mystic Falls. He's again in a room of bodies, a room twenty times larger than any ballroom, with every inch of the floor covered in blood and carnage. The sight tosses him, forces him to the ground. Instead of finding Tatia, he finds Elena, a living body in the wreckage he has created, someone that presents him with a choice - to feed, or to save? He doesn't recognize what he's doing until his teeth are tearing into her throat. He awakes before she even gets the chance to scream. He spends the remainder of the night lying on her roof, listening to every constant beat of her heart to assure himself that she is still here. He has not harmed her. She is safe. She is safe.
Elena calls him first this time. It's a bit of a shock to Elijah to have his phone ring at all. The conversation is brief despite the numerous times that Elena stutters over her words. She's nervous, and it's not until a few minutes in to their chat that he realizes why. She's inviting him to a party, the Founders' Council Celebration. She needs an escort, and, well, it seems like an event a historian would enjoy. She rationalizes it, tries to make it seem a little less like she's asking him out officially, but they both recognize it for what it is. He agrees of course. Asks what color her dress is so that his tie can match. She tells him, "Pink."
It is less of a ball and more of a meeting. He watches as, one by one, the adult founders take their leave from the party. It reminds him of the way the alpha of the pack would meet with a few chosen werewolves to discuss Elijah's family. How to handle them. He listens as they call their little meeting to order, and, more importantly, he hears the Salvatores appear to the event. Stefan is alone, but the talk amongst the teenagers is that he's there for Elena. Of course he is. When the second Salvatore brother arrives, Elijah grows worrisome. He's heard of the trouble these brothers cause, the attention they stir. He also knows that they are not nearly as observant as they pretend to be. So he watches them throughout the evening, while they have no idea that they should be watching him. He doesn't force Elena to stay by his side. He allows her to do as she pleases, which eventually does include a chat with both Salvatores.
Her chat with Stefan is pretty simple. He apologizes for his erratic behavior. She tells him not to worry about it. He wants to make it up to her. A dance? She agrees, and their bodies spin on the floor. He admits that having his brother around brings out the worst in him. She mentions family can do that. He wants to say something more, but the song ends and Elena excuses herself.
Her talk with Damon is a bit more complicated. He uses the opportunity to mention his origins as a vampire, talking about the 'original' Salvatore brothers and the woman who tore them apart. It's clever really, but it only confuses Elena more. At the rate Damon is going, Elena will know about vampires by the end of the week. By the end of the next song, Elena is headed towards Elijah again.
She asks what he knows about the Battle of Bull Creek.
"I know what the history books say, but I also know that there was a fire that killed twenty-six people in a church. The interesting thing about that is that it is also tied into the folklore of the town. The people inside were thought to be vampires, and fire is supposed to be one of the few ways to kill them."
Elena grins a bit, teases, "You're pretty fascinated with vampires, Elijah. Are you Team Edward?"
He chuckles. "My version of vampire doesn't sparkle; it burns."
Elena opens her mouth to respond, but stops when she sees Caroline. The blonde is wrapped up in a scarf. Elijah can hear the way the soft fabric brushes against the healing bite marks. She's been used for feeding, very recently in fact.
Elena admits, "I'm worried about Caroline. She's acting different ever since she started spending time with Damon. I know it's silly because, if anyone's been different lately, it should be me, but I feel like... like she's in danger, you know?"
Oh he knows. "I'll look into it," he says easily.
What he means is that he'll put a stop to it. He waits until he finds Damon alone and, in not so subtle terms, tells the more devious of the brothers to stay away. Damon doesn't like to be told what to do. He puts up a fight, talking a strong front before charging at Elijah. Elijah uses Damon's own momentum to get a firm hold on his heart. In between Damon's sputtering, Elijah tells him, calmly, "Do not test me. It would take me seconds to kill you, and I would not blink an eye. Stay away from Caroline, Bonnie, and Elena. And, stop attacking the residents. You're drawing too much attention."
"And if I don't?" coughs Damon. Elijah squeezes down and watches as the skin on Damon's face tightens and pulls in, graying ever so slightly. Elijah slowly loosens his grip before releasing Damon completely. Without the support of Elijah's arm, Damon drops to the ground. The original pats him on the heaving shoulder.
"It was a pleasure talking to you, Damon."
Damon attempts to return the favor. He and Stefan stop by Elijah's hotel room with a vile of vervain and a plan that would have worked were Elijah not an Original vampire. Elijah recovers from the vervain in seconds and merely invites both brothers in. Stefan and Damon are stunned. Worried obviously. But they enter nonetheless. Elijah fixes them tea and offers it. They both decline. Stefan is the one to speak first.
"What are you doing here in Mystic Falls?" he asks.
Elijah sips at his own cup of tea, his back resting against the edge of the counter. His demeanor is as casual as his voice when he says, "I suppose the same reason you are, Stefan, to get to know Elena."
Damon scoffs. "Great. What did Katherine do to you? Pledge her love and then leave you to die?"
A smirk forms on Elijah's lips as his memories return. He thinks of the stolen kisses when Niklaus was away, of the laughter and whispered secrets. "No. In fact, I left her to. But, we're not here to talk about Katherine. We're here because you want to kill me and you both want Elena to yourself." Both brothers share a piercing look. Elijah's smirk broadens. "Am I wrong?"
Stefan stands a bit straighter. He asks, "What will it take for you to leave Elena alone?"
"Nothing short of Elena herself telling me to go. In the mean time, I assure you any other attempts you might make on my life will only wind up hurting you. As your brother has probably told you, I'm quite strong. I'm also a fan of ripping hearts directly out of the chests of those that cannot see reason."
Damon's quick to say "We see reason. We just want you out of here. It's our town, and we're not exactly welcoming of other vamps strolling in."
"Well, I was here first, so I have - what do they call it - dibs."
Stefan asks, "On the town or on Elena?"
"Both." Elijah sets down the empty cup of tea, brushes off a spot of lint and stands to his full height. "Well, if you boys will excuse me, I have to go meet Elena for lunch. Lock up after yourselves, won't you?"
Elijah's hand is on the door when the stake comes straight for him. In a flash, he has that same stake wedged into Damon's liver. His eyes flare with rage momentarily, but they return to the cool, collected look he normally has as the older Salvatore writhes in pain. Elijah makes no verbal comment. He meets Stefan's gaze, his warning from earlier hanging between the two of them. Stefan's lips purse, and Elijah leaves. As he goes, he listens to the Salvatores's confusion. They want to know who he is, what he is. He almost wants to tell them, but what's the fun in that?
His date with Elena goes off without a hitch. In fact, that night Elena brings up the subject of dating. They're walking back to her home, hands hanging somewhere between the two of them, brushing but never fully latching on. It reminds him of the way courting worked when he was younger.
She stops the walk, looks straight in his eyes, and says, "I know that I didn't seem all that interested at first, in dating or anything, but I think I'm better now. I want to be better because I'm sick of worrying about who's going to die next, or what I'm not going to get the chance to do. I want to live my life, Elijah, and right now, I want that to include you."
It's presumptuous, frank, and honest. He almost makes a comment about her spending too much time with Caroline before he realizes that a comment like that would set them back. He does not want to move back. He wants to move forward. He wants to feel her warm hands in his and imagine that the warmth spreads through him as well. He wants to understand how someone who has lived for such a short period of time has managed to be so open and understanding when he himself has problems with it. He wants her, in every way possible and any way she will allow.
"As you wish, Elena." He steps forward, his hand finding the side of her face. She shivers at his touch and he wonders what has caused it. The coolness of his fingers or the warmth of this approaching touch. Their lips meet, softly, tentatively, but it does not last long. He's hungry for her. He can tell the difference instantly in her kiss from Katerina's, or Tatia's. He can't pinpoint what it is, but he will gladly spend the rest of her life trying to figure it out.
They kiss until even his lips have turned red. Then, he takes her hand in his, slips them both into the pocket of his coat, and brings his lady home. At her door, he offers a chaste kiss and steps back. She opens it and hesitates. She mentions that Jenna isn't home; he's more than welcome to come in. He steps into the house, bypassing the threshold with a gentle ease, and his lips find hers again. It's stronger than any of the others. Hungry on her side for all he will give her. He would give her the world. But, not tonight.
"Until next time, Elena," he whispers against her lips. She sighs.
"Always the gentleman," she mumbles. He grins and steals another quick kiss. "Until next time."
Should there be a next time, folks?