title: still looking up
chapters: three of TBD
fandom: vampire diaries
character/pairing: elijah/elena, stefan/caroline, damon salvatore, lexi branson
rating: t
word count: 3013
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. Elijah/Elena.

author's note: This chapter gave me issues. I'd forgotten when I started this how much I despise exploration. That's basically how I see season one - exploration. But I made it through this chapter and hopefully you will too. Also, it's formatted like a normal story now. Sorry if that bugs you. Any mistakes you find - let me know!


THREE || to see what you found


Elijah awakes to the feel of lips brushing gently against his skin. First, his cheek, his forehead, and then finally, his lips. His eyelids flutter open gently. He need not jump or jerk. It's Elena. He knows it is from the smell of her in the air, from the sound of her heart, from the taste. He reacts by returning the pressure, deepening the kiss slightly. To that, Elena pulls back with a giggle.

"Good morning,"she whispers. He returns the sentiment and blinks away the last of the haze of dreams. They weren't bad dreams. That's slowly something that he's growing used to - good dreams. Good thoughts. A good life. These are the things Elena brings to him. And he loves that. Loves her.

He tells her as much with his eyes before allowing them to drift to the clock beside her bed. There are only three numbers waiting there, which is enough of a sign of her discomfort. He asks, "Why are you up so early, Elena?"

Now, her eyes retreat. Her grin does as well. "I heard Jeremy get up. He took a shower a few minutes ago and then he left. I, uh, couldn't fall back asleep." More likely, she didn't want to. She feared what she would dream about, what she would think about."I shouldn't have woken you up."

He leans forward, capturing both her gaze and her mouth momentarily. "Nonsense. If you're awake, I'm awake. Why waste even a second of this day?"

Elena gives him a look, an inquisitive one like she's trying to wrap her head around him. "Why are you so... happy?"

"Because I woke up next to you." She smiles. He smiles. He figures this is how every day should be. Regardless of what horrible things happen, they should wake up in each other's arms, content and safe. Of course, Elena is only seventeen and, no matter how much Jenna likes him, Jenna would never go for permanent sleepovers. Or any sleepovers were she actually in town.

Elena rolls up into a sitting position, asking him, "Are you always like this? All sweet and supportive? Isn't that supposed to wear off eventually?"

"If you're looking for the darker side of my personality, I'm afraid you'll be searching for a long time, Elena. You could always talk to Damon Salvatore. He's rather well acquainted with it."

He expects her to laugh, but instead her face grows stony. She says, "I'm not talking to Damon. He's the reason all of this happened. He killed all of those people. He turned Vicki, and he's the one who brought Sheriff Forbes over there to kill her. He's a monster."

Elijah interjects, "He's human. Underneath all of the bad planning and horrible actions, there's a man who's searching for something."

"Well, I hope he finds it somewhere else." Elena sighs. Her eyes turn forcibly playful. "Enough about Damon. You said you didn't want to waste a second? Then let's not waste it. Let's do something."

He considers objecting, bringing her focus back to the issue at hand. Damon will be hard to ignore when he's so hellbent on being part of Elena's life. It's best to work around him than ignore him. But why should Elijah fix that problem? And now of all times? If Elena wants to do something, then that's what they'll do. Leave the Salvatore situation for later. "Like what?"

As if on cue, Elena's phone buzzes. Elijah's does as well. Curiously, they both reach for them. There's a new text message waiting from Caroline. Their eyes meet briefly before they open the messages. They read:Code red. Last minute party at the Grill tonight. Bring everyone you know and maybe gifts. Starts at 8 and ends when the bar runs dry. Be there or don't bother existing tomorrow. - Caroline.

Elena laughs."Like that. Hmm, I wonder what the occasion is."

...

The occasion, as they later learn, is Stefan Salvatore's birthday. He doesn't know it, but the party is for him. Caroline explains to Elijah that the party is all her idea ("Okay, Damon, might have mentioned it, but I'm the one throwing it.") to celebrate the guy she's totally in love with and to possibly get him to notice her. Which he doesn't, by the way, because he's spending the entire party with his new blonde chick ("Her name is Lexi. What kind of name is that anyway?"). The whole thing gets her down, which leads to Caroline being raging drunk in a booth with a very sober, very entertained Elijah on the other side.

Caroline hiccups mid-sentence. Her eyebrows knit together quickly. Then she continues. "I thought that maybe with Elena with you that I had a chance. But nope! He went and got some other blonde bitch to spend time with. Did she throw him a party? Nope. I did. I threw him a party. And it's a great party. It's a great party, right?"

Elijah looks away from Caroline to the throbbing masses of adolescents. They seem to be having the time of their lives. He nods. He almost answers verbally, but Caroline doesn't need another person for whatever conversation she's having tonight.

She says, "Right! Like, he should know I exist. But I'm just a blip on his radar, a pimple on his face, a popcorn kernel in his extremely sharp and probably extremely sexy vampire fangs. Ugh, I wouldn't mind if he bit me a few times." Elijah's laugh is drowned out by the wistful sound that escapes her. She turns to look at Stefan. He's by the pool table, giving a short little wave to Lexi as she heads for the bar. Thus leaving him alone. Leaving him available. Caroline blurts, "I should go talk to him."

Elijah does verbally respond then. "That's not the best idea, Caroline."

"Why? Because I'm not Elena?"

"No, because you are drunk. You might say something you regret."

She shakes her head. She says, "I'm not that drunk. I have complete control over everything I'm saying."

Elijah sighs. "Perhaps we should get you home."

She shakes her head again. "I just want to talk to Stefan once first. Just once. Please? Pretty please? Pretty please with one of those little umbrellas on top?" Caroline pouts at the end of her request. She looks a lot like Rebekah in that moment. He thinks about telling her no. He hates to do it. Hates that more than he has ever hated dealing with Niklaus. And, to top it off, Caroline twirls one of those tiny umbrellas in her hand, as if it's the solution to her problems. She looks so sad. So hopeful. He sighs for a second time. She cheers.

He uses his most serious voice to say, "One minute, Caroline. One. And I'll be right beside you the entire time."

"That's fine. Let's go!"

She shoves off from the booth, nearly losing her balance in the process. She catches herself before Elijah can, even uses that as an opportunity to give him a gloating glance. He rolls his eyes; Yes, not falling on her face is a sure sign that she's sober. He follows her as she makes her way through the crowd to the pool table. Once she gets there, she freezes. Only ten steps away from where Stefan is. Stefan looks up from the stick, and his eyes meet Caroline's.

"I'm going to throw up," Caroline whispers instantly.

Elijah says, "I'll count that as part of your minute."

She turns to glare at him before taking the last ten steps to Stefan. He watches her curiously. He's a lot more laidback than Elijah has ever seen him. In fact, he almost looks... happy.

Caroline wavers, unsteadily shifting between her two feet. Stefan reaches out a hand to help her, and her breath catches in her throat. She stares down at the hand as her pulse increases. She quickly steps out of his hold, mumbling, "Happy birthday, Stefan."

Elijah mentally groans. This is what she needed to say?

Stefan smiles, and he's sincere when he says, "Thank you, Caroline."

Caroline beams. "I-I- you're welcome. I through this party, you know, because, well, since I first saw you, I've - well, I've -" Alright, that's it. Elijah can't sit by and let this continue. She can't even finish a sentence, let alone confess her undying love tonight. He steps forward, placing a hand on Caroline's shoulder.

He tells her, "Time to go." She groans and pouts, but doesn't seem to argue. Stefan does that for her.

"Hey, if Caroline wants to stay, then she gets to stay."

"She's drunk."

"I can see that. I'm actually not too comfortable with you taking her home like that," Stefan says. Elijah's eyes narrow.

He says, "I don't care what you're comfortable with."

"Well, you're not taking her."

Elijah steps in front of Caroline now. He asks, challenges, "Haven't you Salvatores had enough of this game? You can't stop me."

"No," Stefan says, pulling his jacket tighter around him, "But I can join you. I'm coming with you." He places the pool stick down and steps forward to be face to face with Elijah. "Is that a problem?"

Caroline speaks up from over Elijah's shoulder. "Not at all! Let's go. Please." On the last word, her hand finds Elijah's arm. The elder vampire calms again and steps aside, allowing for Stefan to step up to Caroline and lead the way. The blonde gleefully locks an arm of hers through Stefan's. It might be his birthday, but it seems that she's the one getting the gift. Ruefully, and a bit like a cranky chaperone, Elijah follows. All the way home.

...

It's a bit of a power struggle once they reach Caroline's house. For Stefan at least. Elijah is perfectly in control, and he knows it. He already knows how to act around Caroline. He knows the house. He knows everything. Stefan doesn't. But, like any prideful man, Stefan does not enjoy being shown up, nor does he like the thought that Elijah is more of a part of the town than Stefan is. So Stefan stays as Elijah hands Caroline pajamas and sends her off to change. He stays as Elijah tucks the blonde in. He even stays as Caroline slowly drifts off to sleep. Once she's down, though, he rises.

"Leaving so soon?" Elijah asks. "Are you so sure that I won't kill her in her sleep?"

Stefan fixes Elijah with a simple curious glance. "Will you?" It's very straight-forward. Honest.

"No." Elijah straightens his collar. "Will you?"

Stefan stands his ground. "No."

Elijah hesitates, looking at the blonde and wondering for a moment. Then, he says it without further thought. "Then perhaps you should stay. Make sure she doesn't endanger herself in the middle of the night."

Stefan's eyebrow quirks. "Why don't you?"

"Because I have other plans," Elijah says easily. Stefan's brow knits at that. Elijah ignores him. His point isn't to bristle any feathers, just keep Caroline safe and sound. And perhaps a bit happy through the hangover she'll no doubt have in the morning. "Careful, though, she gets a little snuggly in her sleep."

With that said, Elijah leaves the two alone and heads back to Elena.

...

The first thing Elena says is "How's Caroline?"

It makes Elijah smile to hear it. These girls really care about each other, no matter how snarky they can be in their alone time. He tells her, "Asleep. Thankfully. I'll check again in the morning." He shrugs off his jacket, draping it lightly along the chair near Elena's desk. "How was the rest of the party?"

Elena hesitates, mentions, "I heard something. Something weird."

He rounds to face her. "How so? Explain."

"I..." Elena glances away to the ground. She takes in a deep breath and then says, voice steady as steel, "I'd rather you just heard it yourself."

Elijah understands what she's saying. She wants him to read it, read her mind. He protests, but she takes off her ring and steps closer to him. She puts his hands on her temples and closes her eyes. With a sigh, he closes his and allows the visions from Elena's mind to enter his.

Instantly, he's back in the Grill. The drunken teens are as boisterous as they were before, except they're no longer near the bar, so it's calm there. Quiet. Quiet enough where even a human like Elena can catch the conversation between Damon and Lexi.

Damon lowers his glass from his lips and fixes Lexi with a look that's a mix between amusement and a warning. He says, "Yes, I have an evil, little plan that brought me home. But, sadly, it doesn't involve you, so you might want to get lost."

Lexi scoffs, brings her glass to join his as her voice hardens. "I'm not leaving until I'm sure that Stefan's safe."

"My plan won't hurt Stefan. Plus, once it's done, I'll be out of your hair for good." The smile on Damon's face as he finishes that - it's chilling. Too happy and genuine for a man so typically full of scowls. What could possibly make him so happy? If only Elijah were truly there, he could interject and find out. But he isn't. He's just watching. Watching as Lexi compromises.

She says, "Give me one reason why I should go away."

Damon smirks. "Only one? Well, I'll stick with the big one then. The last thing that you want, my dear, sweet Lexi, is to meet - what did you call her? - Oh, right, the raging bitch."

And Lexi blanches, face going as pale as her whole body should be. "Katherine? How could I meet Katherine? Isn't she dead?"

Elijah's mind swirls at the thought, of both thoughts. Katerina hasn't been seen in over a century. She must be dead, and people do not get brought back from the other side. It's simply not possible. It can't be. Can it?

Damon chuckles. "Ah, ah, ah, you said one and that's up." He rises to leave, but Lexi slams Damon back into the bar. Damon laughs again, tells her, "Ease up and cool down, blondie. This town isn't very vampire friendly, and the leader of the Buffy squad is my new best friend. We wouldn't want you to wind up dead, now would we?"

Lexi glares at Damon a moment longer before letting him go. Gleefully, smugly, Damon finishes off his glass of scotch and leaves the Grill.

With Damon's exit, Elijah returns to the present. He steps back from Elena as his mind reels. How is it even possible to bring Katerina back? Katerina died in a fire, in 1864. She and all of the rest of those vampires are gone. He doesn't understand. What does Damon know, or think he knows, that the oldest vampires don't? Is it a spell? Some magical doppelganger occurrence?

"Elijah?" His head snaps up towards Elena. Her smile, her entire body is hesitant. She asks, "What's going on? What's Damon talking about?"

He honestly has no idea, not that Elena would react very well to hearing it. He starts simply, gives her old information to try and appease her curiosity. "I do believe Damon told you about Katherine at that Founders' Party."

Elena nods. "She died in a fire, back in 1864."

Elijah nods as well, though he isn't sure anymore. "Damon wants her back, which would not be preferable. If Katerina were back, it would threaten a lot of people." It would alert Niklaus. Bring him here. Hurt everyone. "Especially you, Elena."

Elena stares at him. "Me? Why me? What does any of that have to do with me?" Elijah sighs internally. He's not prepared to have this conversation. Neither is she. She gasps, her eyes narrowing as she focuses on something. "Stefan's friend, Lexi, she talked to me and she said 'you look just like her.' Did she mean Katherine? Do I look like Katherine?"

"Yes." He chortles lightly. "In fact, that is an understatement. You and Katerina are identical, Elena." Her eyes pale. He adds, "I know that might confuse you, but it can all be explained. Katerina is a Petrova, a special bloodline that was used to create the very first family of vampires, a bloodline that you descend from."

Elena shakes her head. "This - this is way too much. No, I don't descend from a vampire. You said that vampires don't reproduce!"

"I said that but Katerina -"

"Why do you call her that? Katherine. Her name was Katherine."

Again, Elijah sighs. She's getting worked up. Her heart is racing, much higher than it should be. He says, "Alright. Katherine. Fine. Listen, I will explain everything, but you need to calm down first. You're about to send yourself into a panic attack."

Elena scoffs. "Yeah, maybe because I'm panicking! I-I can't do this." She grabs his jacket off the chair and holds it out to him.

"Elena-"

She shakes her head. "Elijah, please, it's too much. I know I asked, but it's just too much."

A bitter part of him reminds him that this is why he does not entertain humans. They grow overworked too quickly, crumble with the slightest of information. Yes, this is life-changing to learn, but what relevance does it have if Katerina is never even brought back? None. Elena can go on living as ignorant and blissful as before. Fine. If she wants him to leave, he will, and he'll go pay Damon yet another visit.

He takes his jacket and also picks her ring up from where she dropped it. He places it into her palm with a kiss. Elena merely looks forward.

He walks to the window. Hesitates. And then-

"Did you love her? Katherine - Katerina - did you love her?"

He did. For a time. Very briefly. He managed to convince himself that it was not love, simply by avoiding her as much as he could. Still, in hindsight, he did love her. Just "not as I love you, Elena. Until next time."


Shall there be a next time folks?