So a million gifs of klefan in the woods from 3x02 prompted my brain to imagine a Vampire Diares/Hunger Games fusion and this is how it's turned out so far.
Warning: AU, so maybe everything will be a little off. Klefan, that means slash.
Disclaimer: I'm too poor to buy the CW and I think trying to buy Suzanne Collins would be considered illegal.
"In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live television." - The Hunger Games
"C'mon Stefan, it won't be us."
Stefan sighed, sending his older brother a tiny glare. "You don't know that Damon. What if it is?"
"It won't be." Damon intoned forcefully, throwing an arm over his shoulder and pulling him close. "You only have two years left and this is my last year. Our names aren't in there enough – we've never used tesserae."
Stefan let out a small smile then, "the odds are ever in our favour!" He joked, before becoming serious once more, staring out into the trees. "I can't lose you Damon," he bit his lip. "Not after mother…"
"Hey!" Damon snapped, running a hand through his hair, "what did I say? It's not going to be us Stefan…"
"Good. Because you're all I have left." He stood up at that, ignoring Damon's irritation with his negative attitude and hauled the doe he'd shot over his shoulder. He usually preferred his knives but they tended to make more of a mess than necessary so he'd been using his bow lately.
The peacekeepers at the hob used to turn a blind eye to their hunting, one of them even bought their game – even if they were peacekeepers, they still had to eat the food of the district and District 12's food…let's just say it wasn't plentiful and fit for a king in any case.
Recently however their resident peacekeepers had been pulled out on rotation and the Salvatore brothers weren't yet ready to run into the new ones and discern their lawfulness. The punishment for hunting illegally was a severe whipping and those who had been caught often died from infection to their lashes.
The point was, walking through the district with blood all over his clothes wasn't the best option. The doe was small enough that he could lift it with some difficulty, though they'd wait until night to smuggle it off to someone in the hob. Damon was carrying a whole punnet of strawberries and Stefan knew exactly who they were for.
"You're still chasing after her, huh?" he shook his head humorously. Strawberries were rare in District 12, or anywhere outside of the capitol and District 11 he would think and Damon had somehow gotten a strawberry patch growing in their favourite spot, far from the borders of their home. Stefan also happened to know for a fact that strawberries were the favourite food of the Mayor's daughter, Elena Gilbert.
Elena was beautiful – long brunette hair, brown eyes that sparkled – any man would be lucky to have her but for some reason she took no interest in any of the boys, or men, who approached her. She was Stefan's age, only seventeen, and they had gone through school together for a little while.
He had always assumed that she was too…stuck up for any of the local boys, however when Damon began to bring her gifts from the outside, she had quickly shown interest. Stefan wasn't completely sold that she wasn't just another materialistic capitol-fuelled robot, but Damon was fond of her, so he refrained from commenting.
If Damon found happiness in this place then who was he to take that away?
"She still refuses to let me see her in public," he grumbled quietly, his jaw ticking in annoyance. See – egoistic much?
"Maybe you shouldn't give her a choice," Stefan suggested, raising an eyebrow.
Damon smirked, "now that wouldn't be very gentlemanly of me would it, little brother?"
Stefan snorted, "Damon Salvatore, a gentleman?" He received a shove in return and nearly toppled over, the weight of the doe on his shoulder unbalancing him. He was quick to hide the doe in the shrubbery just beyond the electric fence that enclosed the town from the forest, making sure to test if it was live before jumping back through the hole they'd cut years ago.
They hadn't seen electricity running through the fence in years but it paid to check he supposed – better safe than dead.
"I'll take these to Elena," Damon said before dropping his grin at his next words. "You go home and get cleaned up, okay?" Reaping day meant they had to dress in their best clothes and do their hair, just in case they were the lucky one that got to die; a tribute.
Stefan snorted, but followed his brother's direction anyway, assuming he wanted some time alone with the mayor's daughter. Being the daughter of an important person didn't mean she wasn't subjected to the reaping also and for all Damon's protests that it couldn't be them, he was still worried it could be her.
He sighed, making his way back home to wash and force his short brown hair into some realm of acceptability. Their dusty house, if one could call it that was quiet and Stefan hated it. Ever since their mother had died it had just been Damon and himself. Every moment he spent alone in this house reminded him of her, but what could he do? It wasn't as if they could just pick up and build another one.
Damon returned in no time at all, by the look on his face Stefan assumed that Elena wasn't in the best mood today either and had set off his brother as collateral. As soon as he noticed his brother observing him though, Damon put on a brave face.
His name was in there six times. Damon's seven. What were the chances they would be reaped? There were children worse off than them, younger than them that didn't have the resources they did, that couldn't hunt and therefore traded off their fate for tesserae every year.
Of course they tried to supply the people they could with the game they managed to catch, but their friends came first and not everyone in the district could be trusted with their secret. They were better off trading to the hob than helping people out individually and that was just how it was.
"C'mon," he barely noticed as Damon shot back down the stairs, clean and in his finest clothes. "Let's go, we can't be late."
He followed his brother silently out to the square where they were greeted by the usual orderly throngs that denoted reaping day. It was the one day all the children were gathered together like this and Stefan couldn't help but feel a little more relaxed as he noted the amount of them.
There were a lot of people here – a lot of names in that bowl and some of them more than their required times, he should be fine. They both should.
He and Damon whipped around at the sound of a melodious voice behind them.
"Lexi!" He grinned as he caught her, seeing his best friend could cheer him up any time – even reaping day.
"You have your broody face on," she noted, frowning and he sighed, rolling his eyes. She was in a jovial mood even on a day like today, her blonde hair glinting in the sunlight.
"I can never get a break between the pair of you," he gibed, pulling her along with them to the registration. They had to be separated when their blood was taken, Stefan going to the left and Lexi to the right, his brother going in another direction completely.
Separated by age, Stefan didn't really have anyone to draw comfort from in the reaping, but that was okay. It was quick at least, only the build-up was painful – the suspenseful waiting to find out whether it was you or someone you loved being sent to their death this year.
There was a stage set up out the front, a microphone in the middle and the two glass bowls that would decide their fate – filled to the brim with names. Peacekeepers lined either side of the stage and in the centre were chairs set out for the Mayor and his family, the beautiful Elena Gilbert, front and centre in her best dress.
The crowd quieted as a small lady dressed in a bright pink dress took the stage, her tone much more upbeat than necessary for such an occasion. She happily greeted the crowd and generally tried to make them feel it was an honour to offer up their citizens to die every year before turning on a video they were forced to watch every year.
Their nation's history, the dark days and the repercussions of the uprising they now had to endure for as long as the Capitol saw fit, which Stefan assumed would probably be forever, or at least until someone had enough power to overthrow them. He didn't expect to see it in his lifetime anyway.
"Now, now!" She called out happily, "as always, let's do the ladies first, shall we?" She swirled her hand around in the glass ball dramatically and all the girls tensed, each one fearing her next words would be their name. "And may the odds be ever in your favour!" It was added on to the end almost like a sinister parting blow and he couldn't help but wince.
"Caroline Forbes!" There was silence.
Caroline…poor Caroline. She was Stefan's age – they were fairly good friends in fact. He watched as the beautiful young girl was pushed forward by her peers, most of them just glad it wasn't their name drawn out. She ascended the stairs on shaky legs and he could see as she turned on the stage her eyes were filled with tears.
She wouldn't last five minutes in the games.
Caroline was a lover, not a fighter. She could sew, she could cook, but she couldn't fight – she didn't stand a chance. Stefan missed whatever words she managed to utter into the microphone, his mind spinning, unable to comprehend that poor, lovely Caroline was being sent to the death.
He had no choice but to pay attention though when their district's escort called out, "and now the boys!" As reassured as he had been that his name wasn't in the bowl anywhere near the amount of times as some of the others in the district, Caroline's reaping had shaken him and made everything all the more real.
He tensed as her hand swirled around and around, making it out to be something suspenseful, like a game. She grasped a small slip of paper and pulled it out, struggling against the seal with her over-sized pink fingernails.
"Here we go…" She called out, finally unfolding the slip and smiling like she was announcing the winner of some sort of lottery.
Stefan's jaw was hanging open, but it wasn't him who screamed. Elena had stood from her place on the stage, the yell having ripped from her throat as she stared in horror down at his older brother. Stefan couldn't move. It was as if it was all just a bad dream, after all, hadn't Damon said this morning they would be just fine?
Hadn't he said that the odds were in their favour? The odds were in their favour! How could this happen? He turned frantically to try and find his brother in the crowd behind him, Damon was being ushered out into the walkway that would take him to the stage, take him to his death.
Elena was sobbing in range of the microphone and finally his eyes found shocked icy blue. Stefan's legs suddenly moved of their own accord.
Everyone went silent as if they'd misheard.
"I volunteer." He repeated, pushing his peers out of the way to get to the stage.
"Stefan! No!" Damon yelled out from behind him angrily but he paid his brother no mind, continuing the rest of his sprint to the front of the square where the peacekeepers took his arms.
"My, my," their escort called, holding out a hand for him to take. "I do believe this is the first time anyone has volunteered from District 12."
He didn't even know what he was doing to be honest, still moving around in that dream-like state, but what he did know was that he didn't have it in him to sit at home and watch his brother die, hunted like an animal on some TV. He couldn't do it – he was weak and selfish.
"What's your name dear?" He was asked and he found his mouth went dry. He stared down into the crowd to meet Damon's terrified eyes, his arm pulled into Lexi's grasp where she had run out to meet him.
"Stefan." He answered quietly, his gaze never wavering. "Stefan Salvatore."
"Oh!" She said quietly, laughing as if it were the punch-line of some amazing joke – his life was the joke. "And I bet that Damon down there is your brother, is that right?"
"Yes." He said resolutely, holding his chin up.
"I volunteer!" Damon had yelled from the crowd, pulling out of Lexi's grip to run forward. "You can't take him! I want to go."
The escort looked down in surprise glancing at Stefan and then down at Damon again who were glaring at each other furiously.
"Well…this is most unexpected…" She trailed off. "But he volunteered first so…"
Damon's face was full of anger and he turned it from Stefan, across to her. "But I was drawn out first!" He banged his fist on the stage. "I'm going." He said the last part to Stefan, glaring at him resolutely and not for the first time the youngest Salvatore wished his brother wasn't so stubborn.
"Damon!" He glared fiercely. This was not happening. He was not going to let his brother do this. He couldn't.
"Well...a little sibling rivalry is always a good thing!" She managed to pick up her happy tone again as the peacekeepers came forward to drag Damon back. "But rules are rules!" And with that she took his arm and Caroline's holding them up for the crowd.
"I give you your District 12 tributes for the 74th Hunger Games!" When no applause was forthcoming, she quickly pulled them both by the arms into off the stage and into the building, putting them in separate rooms where they would wait to see their families one last time before departing for the Capitol.
Stefan paced backwards and forwards in the small room he was placed in, unable to forget his brother's reaction but unable to regret his own. He wouldn't change his decision even if he could. Damon could move on without him…Stefan didn't think he was strong enough to do that, to be that person.
"Stefan!" The door was thrown open and Damon was suddenly there, hands gripping his shoulders tightly, shaking him. "What were you thinking?" It was alarming to see his brother so clearly distressed but if this was the last time he would see him, he owed him the truth at least.
"I can't live without you. I can't lose you Damon." He repeated his earlier words from their hunting trip.
"And you think I can live without you?" Damon asked brokenly and Stefan dropped his head.
"I'm sorry," he whispered. "I was being selfish…"
"God Stefan," Damon hissed, pulling him close. "You…you can do this." He said adamantly and it wasn't quite clear whether he was trying to reassure Stefan or himself. "You're good with a bow and you're good with knives...you're strong too from all the game we carry back." Damon nodded to himself. "You'll be fine. You can win this."
Stefan decided not to mention that to win he would have to kill Caroline and he wasn't sure if that was something he could do. He would kill others for survival – of that he had no qualms, but a friend? That wasn't something he thought he could do.
Plus, the careers – the tributes from districts 1, 2 and usually 4 – trained for this their entire lives. They were born killers and Stefan's hunting skills couldn't hold a candle to their weapons expertise.
"You can survive in the woods," Damon went on, "survival is your strong suit." He was trying to cram everything into the few minutes they were offered and even though Stefan's mind immediately rebutted that all the arenas were different and he'd have to be really lucky to get a forest terrain, he remained quiet, nodding at everything his brother said.
The peacekeeper's suddenly opened the door, taking Damon by the arm and dragging him back out of the room, struggling the entire time. "Stefan!" He called back and managed enough force to stop the peacekeepers in their tracks for a moment. "I love you baby bro." And with that, he was gone.
Stefan collapsed against the wall behind him, sliding down to the floor. He closed his eyes and tried to hold back tears, lower lip shaking. He wasn't expecting any more visitors, after all, he had no more family and the peacekeepers certainly wouldn't let Lexi in, so he was startled when the door suddenly opened once more and Elena slipped in quietly.
"You shouldn't be here." He murmured, looking up at her softly.
"I know," her cheeks were tearstained. "But I just had to see you."
He sighed, pulling himself up to draw her into his arms. "Stefan," she murmured against his shoulder hesitantly. "…thank you." She didn't elaborate and she didn't need to. She was thanking him for taking the place of his brother, for keeping Damon safe, for making sure he would stay here – for her.
He was suddenly angry, angry that this had happened to him, to Damon, to everyone. Angry that the Capitol had the gall to do this to them, year after year, angry that he was going to die and most of all – angry that Elena was thanking him for going to his death, as if he were doing it for her.
"I didn't do it for you!" He hissed, slamming his fist into the wall.
"I…I know!" Her eyes widened and filled with tears once more. "But-"
"Just go!" He fumed, sending her a dark glare and watching as she nodded silently before scurrying out the door again. Most likely the only reason she even got in to see him was because she was the mayor's daughter.
It was a little upsetting that there were other people he wouldn't get to say goodbye to, especially Lexi who had been his best friend since they were kids. He would probably never see them again. That's not to say he wasn't going to try because he would fight, he would fight fiercely and no one could expect anything less…but the others would be better trained, more skilled than he was…and he really didn't stand a fighting chance.
They were ushered quickly from their separate rooms and onto the 'Tribute Train', not given any time for one last look at their district or anyone from it. The train's carriages were extravagant, tables bearing lavish food spread out across one wall and large plush chairs in the centre of the room.
It was the first time he and Caroline really had a second to stop and breathe, or to even notice the other and realise they were both in this thing together. Caroline burst into tears the minute the doors slid closed and Stefan pulled her into his arms immediately.
"I'm so sorry, Caroline."
She sobbed quietly. "It's not your fault Stefan," she whimpers, burying her head in his chest as he strokes her hair.
Sighing he pulled her back and guided them to the dining table at the other end of the carriage where their escort (whose name he still hadn't bothered to learn) waited with a middle aged man who Stefan could put a name to immediately – Alaric Saltzman. Alaric was District 12's only previous winner and it was no small feat considering the games he had won was the 2nd Quarter Quell, where 48 tributes were entered instead of the usual 24.
He was a skilled fighter, a skilled hunter and hopefully they would learn something from him. Stefan was so far unimpressed however by the bland stare the blonde man was setting on them.
"So you're the new tributes." Stefan noticed a flicker of sadness in his eyes as he looked to Caroline but it was gone in seconds.
"Yeah. Yeah, we are." He responded, taking Caroline's hand in his as she was clearly still distressed. He wasn't sure if he would have preferred to go in with a complete stranger really, that was he wouldn't have to worry about killing a friend, just another nameless face that was his ticket home.
"You're going to help us right?" Caroline asked quietly and looked up at Alaric with the glimmer of tears in her eyes. The older man closed his, resting his head in his hands and taking a deep breath before looking back up again.
"Yeah…yeah I am." There was a certain look in his eyes that made Stefan wonder what was different. Something told him he didn't look at every set of tributes that came his way, the same as he'd just looked at them – and wasn't that a sad story in itself? Being the only previous victor of the games from District 12, Alaric Saltzman had to mentor every pair of kids for the past 23 years…and watch them all die – all 46 of them.
"You each have your own rooms on the train." He sighed. "We'll be arriving at the Capitol tomorrow, I suggest you use this time to go over the other reapings for this year and the past games." He stood up from the table, gesturing for them to follow as he lead them to their quarters. "The recordings are in your rooms. We'll talk strategies once we reach the Capitol."
Even as Alaric retreated and Stefan stepped towards his own quarters, he couldn't help but meet Caroline's pleading eyes and cave, motioning for her to come with him and they settled down to view the other district's reapings together.
In the agricultural district, District 11, a girl named Bonnie who looked about their age and a boy named Luca were drawn from the glass bowls. The girl was stone-faced, refusing to shed a tear and the boy looked worried. Stefan wondered if they had any skills that would help them in the games at all.
From District 8 a shocked looking boy named Matt was drawn and a brunette girl Anna. Anna seemed to be the youngest drawn so far, looking around 15 years old. Stefan was glad for that because as much as he wanted – needed – to come home to his brother, he wasn't so sure he could kill children. If there were any 12 year olds reaped, he was sure he wouldn't have been able to kill them in cold blood. It made it slightly easier to think about when they were closer to his age.
District 4 came with a volunteer, Tyler, who was clearly a career. You could tell just by looking at him that the games hyped him up, that he was excited by the prospect of going into the arena. There wasn't a female volunteer for District 4 as there usually was and a girl named Amber was pulled from the stack of papers, gasping out heart wrenching sobs, the peacekeepers had to physically drag her to the podium.
Caroline shuffled closer to him and he paused the playback for a moment, putting his arm around her shoulders. "We don't have to watch this if you don't want to." She only shook her head silently, taking the remote from him and pressing the play button again.
District 3 reaped a boy named Finn who looked too old to be in the draw, though Stefan supposed he must be 18 years old. He didn't look thrilled (not that anyone would) and it seemed that, by some bizarre twist of fate, his girlfriend, Sage, was also reaped. He watched as they stared at each other in horror, explaining as they were prompted their relationship with each other. What a nightmare.
The reaping in District 2 interested Stefan the most out of all of them. The escort took the stage and without even making one move towards the glass bowls, she announced, "we already have our volunteer tributes for this year's annual Hunger Games." That wasn't so surprising in itself, 2 was a careers district after all, but usually they would go on as usual and the tributes would have to volunteer from the crowd. It seems that was not the case here.
"For the boys, Niklaus Mikaelson and for the girls…Rebekah Mikaelson." Caroline gasped and Stefan stared open mouthed as the escort gestured behind her where two figures stood up from chairs they had been presented in. They were both stunning to look at and Stefan found his eyes drawn to stare intensely at the blonde boy before him. He looked around 18 years old, toned as any career, with blonde hair and bright azure eyes, full pink lips drawn into a tight unimpressed line.
A quick glance at his sister confirmed they had the same blonde hair, the same features and her face, her face held a devastated look. There had to be something more to this. He didn't have to worry about pausing the recording because Caroline had done it for him, the two of them staring at the screen, entranced.
"Why would they volunteer? Knowing they have to kill each other?" Caroline whispered and Stefan couldn't help but frown, studying the look on the blonde boy's face.
"I don't think they did…" He muttered quietly, the wheels in his head spinning. Neither of them looked ecstatic to be there as careers usually did, the girl, Rebekah seemed outright distraught and there was no doubt in Stefan's mind that they didn't volunteer themselves. Not of their own free will anyway.
They un-paused the screen watching as Niklaus turned to give a man behind him a dark glare, before responding to the escort's questions. Unlike the previous districts, Stefan was rapt with attention, hanging on every word the blonde said.
"My name is Klaus, this is my sister Bekah." And when asked about their game strategy, the escort clearly ignoring the fact that to win, either of them would have to kill each other, he answered, "we will kill anyone that gets in our way."
A shiver raced down Stefan's spine. Something about the man captivated him. He couldn't put his finger on it but he knew if – when – he was put in a room with Niklaus in it, his eyes would follow the man every second. He was a predator, all sharp lines and Stefan couldn't help but be interested. He hoped this wasn't going to get him killed.
They watched silently once more as District 1 had two volunteers in the normal fashion. A boy named Kol and a girl named Katerina who bore a striking resemblance to their very own mayor's daughter, Elena, which had Caroline gasping out loud. They both smirked at the other when they were taken onto the stage and he had no doubt that the look in their eyes was sinister. He wasn't drawn to either of them at all – every fibre of his body screamed to stay the hell away from those two.
"Jesus…" Caroline muttered and Stefan couldn't help but agree as the recording went blank. He was glad there weren't any small children reaped this year, but there were certainly some skilled careers and a lot of people they'd have to watch out for – if he thought his chances were bad before, his opinion definitely hadn't improved any.
"Alright." He huffed, flicking through the recordings with the remote Alaric had shown them. "Let's watch Saltzman's games." He said definitively to the blonde girl at his side, pushing the buttons to get the right year for the 2nd Quarter Quell. It would be good for them to see Alaric's skills, to see what he could teach them and how he could hone their own.
Being that it was the year the games had 48 tributes as well, it would definitely be an educational one to watch on what not to do. It would be like an encyclopaedia of how to kill people…and how to get killed for that matter.
As he settled in however to watch the largest Hunger Games to date, he couldn't help but let his mind drift back to the tribute from District 2, Klaus.
One image on a screen and Stefan was like a moth to a flame. God help him when they reached the Capitol.
A/N: So, what does everyone think? Worth continuing? This wasn't the AU I originally had planned but it pounced on me and just wouldn't let me go. *Sigh
My usual crew of readers (who I know I'll be hearing from anyway) know I don't normally beg for reviews...too much ;) But I really need to know if anyone's going to enjoy this before I spend more time on it, so thoughts? Please? (: