Inspired by Klaus' line in 3x20. "Well, there were moments, real friendship, brotherhood." Stefan/Klaus snippets from the 20'0,s with a side dose of slash for good measure.

Warnings: none, really.

Disclaimer: I own nothing. further disclaimer at the end.


Chicago, 1924


The bodies of the two dead girls drop to the ground nearly simultaneously; thudding dully against the asphalt. Klaus moves to wipe his lip with the pad of his thumb, but finds himself pressed up against the brick wall before he can follow through.

"Let me get that for you," Stefan grins playfully, eyes glittering in the dim light of the back alley. He moves closer, aligning their bodies and licks the blood away before leaning in for a kiss.

Klaus kisses him back without hesitation, quickly losing himself in the soft swipe of tongue and growing sense of urgency. They are shrouded in darkness, out of sight from anyone passing by, but close enough to still feel connected to Boul Mich's vibrating night life.

He can do nothing to prevent the frustrated sound from escaping him when Stefan pulls back moments later; only satisfied when a trail of open-mouthed kisses are placed down the column of his throat, fangs scraping against the delicate skin. There's never enough time, only stolen moments that leave him breathless and aching. Klaus spreads his own legs further, hands greedily searching for naked skin, and hisses out a groan as Stefan pushes up against him with a chuckling laugh.

Mild exasperation blends with something else entirely, something much softer; exciting and new despite his long existence. It is seeping through the usually thick walls of his mind, the way blood soaks through fabric. It renders him wholly incapable of distancing himself for long enough to once again find his bearings – and he's reluctant to try. He could spend the rest of eternity like this; dimly aware of the world changing from the depth of half-forgotten alleyways, lost in the taste and feel of the man pushed up against him. It's sappy and melodramatic and so fucking true it makes his jaw ache.

Out on the street, the noise grows louder. Gloria's is closing for the night, and someone could walk by at any moment. Even though he has little to fear from anyone displeased with their level of PDA, Klaus is raring to go somewhere a bit more private, before the window of opportunity closes.

Stefan is sliding one hand inside Klaus' collar to grip his shoulder tightly, and Klaus shifts his weight, startling a groan out of both of them. He can feel Stefan grin against his jaw, before unhurriedly repeating the motion with a push of his hips.

"You're being a tease, love." Klaus points out in a rough voice, and fists a hand in the hair at the base of Stefan's neck. Tugging lightly, he forces Stefan's head back to look him in the eyes.

"Don't worry, darling." Stefan mimics his accent breathlessly, eyes dancing with mirth, and moves against him in a way that forces Klaus' head to thud back against the unyielding stone wall. "You know I always follow through."


They hurry through the busy Chicago streets, punch-drunk with want. The feel of skin on skin can't quite come soon enough, and as they make their way up the stairs of the apartment Stefan has claimed as his, they're already pulling at each other's clothes.

Klaus shivers in the dimly lit hallway, distracted by Stefan pressed up against his back, mouth against Klaus' neck as he unlocks the door. Stumbling into the room, Klaus manages to regain balance first. He has Stefan backed up against the door within seconds, effectively shutting it behind them and silencing the other man's laugh with a bruising kiss.

They stagger across the room, ending up on the bed in a tangle of limbs. Klaus surrenders, allows himself to be trapped; arms pinned above his head. He can feel Stefan hot and hard against his thigh and squirms in his lover's hold; watching his eyes grow darker, hungrier.

"I believe you had plans for me," Klaus reminds him hoarsely, feeling oddly defenseless under Stefan's unwavering stare. He could easily overpower the other man, but the rush of adrenaline through his system is heavy, holding him firmly in place.

"Careful," Stefan whispers against his lips, nipping lightly. "Don't want me getting any ideas."

Careful. The truth behind his friend's words hits Klaus like a whip; reminding him of everything that's wrong with the scenario as guilt crashes over him like a wave, threatening to pull him under. Apprehension must have shown on his face, because Stefan immediately loosens his grip a fraction, frowning lightly. Determined not to let anything come between him and the promise in Stefan's eyes, Klaus shakes his head, willing the thoughts away.

"Come on, then." He smirks, stretching leisurely in the ripper's hold; grin widening when Stefan instinctively tightens his hold, the predator in him not really prepared to give up on his prey. "Show me what you've got."


"…and you're not listening to a word I'm saying."

"Of course I am," Klaus replies, just seconds too late. He doesn't even bother with a guess as to what Stefan's talking about; having been too lost in the cadence of his tone, and the warmth at the pit of his stomach that has nothing to do with the sun shining from a clear blue sky.

The elbow to his ribs doesn't hurt, and he laughs at the pointless gesture. Prying one eye open, he looks over at the younger man stretched next to him on the grass. Their chosen area of the park is surprisingly empty, except for a group of teenagers too busy flirting and being merry to bother with the two men.

Stefan mutters something unintelligible under his breath, but the smile on his face is blinding as he pushes himself up on one elbow. "I was saying maybe we could go to Italy? I've never been, but apparently there's a family mansion outside-"

"Okay." Klaus agrees easily, turning his face towards the sun once more. The grass is tickling the palm of his hand where it rests against the green softness, the scent of it filling his nostrils.

"Okay?" Stefan sounds a little surprised, and the tone of his voice brings a smile to Klaus' lips.

"Portofino." He says in lieu of an explanation, eyes still closed against the sunlight. "There's this cliff, just above the harbor, the view is spectacular."

"You've been there before." Stefan states, as he reaches out to feather a fingertip down the bridge of Klaus' nose, across his cupid's bow, forcing a snort out of him.

"Once or twice." Klaus admits, leaning into the touch as Stefan's fingers traces the line of his cheekbone and barely keeping from purring like a cat. "I had some spare time."

This time, it's Stefan's turn to laugh,


The skies are painted in muted shades of grey and dark blue, and the sound of rain on asphalt filters in through the open door to the balcony. Klaus has another mouthful of scotch, but his right hand never stops sketching in precise swipes. Stefan is lounging on the bed, sheets barely keeping him from being on full display. Klaus has spent the past half hour transferring the sight onto paper, secretly pleased Stefan has yet to notice what he's doing.

"O captain?" Klaus sing-songs, grin widening when the only response he gets is Stefan giving him the finger, eyes never leaving the pages of his book. Looking down on the sketch on his lap, Klaus is finally content enough with what he sees to drop the pen and stand up.

It has been a battle to remain in the chair for so long, watching but not touching, the artistic side of him too caught up in the picture in front of him. But now he's done, and in one swift move he drops down beside Stefan on the bed, and grabs for the book. Swallowing Stefan's objection in a kiss, he throws the book over his shoulder and hears a dull thud where it lands on the carpet.

"I was reading that," Stefan grumbles against his lips, but kisses him back with fervor.

"For the hundredth time, I'm sure."

"He did have a way with words..." Stefan throws back playfully; one arm cushioning his head, the other hand drawing maddening patterns on Klaus' abdomen. "Who knows what could've happened had he not been so dead set on finding his brother…"

With a growl and a tug, Klaus is only satisfied when Stefan's half-draped over his chest, still shaking with soundless laughter. Silence stretches out, Stefan seemingly in no hurry to leave his position, every breath he takes a soft sigh against Klaus' skin. When his eyes fall shut and his breathing evens out, Klaus doesn't stop looking. He ghosts his fingers up Stefan's arm, over his shoulders and down his back; committing it all to memory. He loses himself in the dips and curves of muscle, the spidery shadows of his eyelashes, and the way Stefan's lips tug into a smile when Klaus skims a hand over his ribcage.

Klaus lets himself believe, just for a moment, that maybe, just maybe he can have this. Forcing all thoughts of Rebekah out his mind, he swallows down on the ever-gnawing guilt and tells himself to let it go. There's too much that he wants to say, needs to say, and he won't if he keeps thinking about his younger sibling. Words catch in his throat and his hand stops its explorations as Stefan opens his eyes, watching Klaus silently, a soft smile on his lips. The ripper is completely relaxed, so much boy in this moment it's breathtaking. "You know I-"

Klaus trails off, still unable to get the words out, and nearly snarls in frustration but Stefan cuts him off. "Yes," Stefan murmurs, slowly dragging himself close enough for their lips to meet, and it's more than just a simple answer.

Yes. Always.


Night is shifting into morning; pale sunlight beginning to color the wooden floors a muted brown, and birds have begun to sing in the trees outside. Klaus' mood is dark as night, colored by the ticking of a clock. It's mocking him from its place atop the mantle, a continuous reminder of the limits that exist for their arrangement. Never having enough time is an abstract concept with an eternity ahead of you. Seconds, minutes and hours have rarely been of any importance to him, but now he can feel every tick of the clock like a bee's sting. Did he honestly believe he could make this work? They received word earlier; his sister is on her way back from New York, having travelled there to create a side track for Mikael. Stefan has been quiet since the letter arrived; distant as he lounges on the bed, bottle in hand

"'… Therefore release me now, before troubling yourself any further - Let go your hand from my shoulders. Put me down, and depart on your way.'" Klaus polishes off the last of his gin and sends the empty bottle flying through the room, crashing against the wall. He smiles grimly at the sound, and makes a move as to get off his slouched position against the living room wall, but comes nowhere as the room starts spinning around him.

Suddenly Klaus finds himself with a lapful of drunk Salvatore, and Stefan's right in his line of sight, a blurred, smiling shape. There's a hand on his shoulder, warm and gentle and there, squeezing gently. Klaus knits his brow, tries to focus. "What are you doing?"

"'Here to put your lips upon mine I permit you. With the comrade's long-dwelling kiss'" Stefan quotes back at him, face buried in the crock of Klaus' neck and lips brushing against the skin as he speaks.

Klaus snorts, finding himself smiling despite the heavy weight in his gut. "Comrades, huh?"

He can feel Stefan nod against his neck, before biting down hard enough to prick the skin, and sending a spike of want down Klaus' spine. Combing a hand through Stefan's hair, he tilts his head in silent invitation, but can't keep the words from spilling out. "What about Rebekah?"

Stefan pulls back, and Klaus immediately regrets his words. The ripper watches him with somber eyes, slowly unbuttoning Klaus' shirt, uncovering skin.

"She's not here." Stefan says finally, his palms warm against Klaus' chest. "'For thus, merely touching you, is enough - is best. And thus, touching you, would I silently sleep and be carried eternally.'"

The kiss that follows is frantic, an almost whine tearing its way up Klaus' throat as he allows himself to be distracted. The ticking of the clock soon nothing but a distant echo at the back of his mind.


Moonlight is filtering through the sheer curtains, disrupting his peace and leaving him restless. It's always harder to pretend when the moon is rising; when the shadows leave room to sharp edges and fewer shades of gray. His thoughts won't leave him alone; scratching and clawing at the back of his mind until he feels raw from it; cut open. Klaus sits up in bed, turning his back on the sleeping form next to him; can't quite stand the proximity.

"Hey."

Klaus nearly startles, too lost inside his own head to have noticed his bed partner stirring, and promptly flinches when a hand comes to rest on his shoulder. He can feel the bed shift as Stefan sits up behind him, resting his forehead against Klaus' back.

"'s something wrong?" Stefan mumbles groggily, seemingly not ready to give up the idea of sleep just yet. His hand comes to rest on Klaus' upper arm, squeezing lightly.

Klaus cringes at the affectionate gesture, shoulders tensing involuntarily. The inevitable is closing in on him and he wants to run. At the same time, he wants nothing more than to stay right where he is; spend the rest of time wrapped around Stefan like a vine and never let go. The soft press of lips against his shoulder blade is the last straw. In one swift move he's off the bed and in front of the window, looking out. The street down below is empty, colored silver in the moon's muted light. Enough of this...this foolish attachment. It's not for him, not his to keep.

"Nik?"

Stefan sounds confused, and a little hurt, and Klaus closes his eyes against the onslaught of remorse he shouldn't feel. If Stefan can lie next to him without guilt, and justify everything with a shrug and a 'she will tire of me eventually anyway, you said so yourself', then why can't Klaus? Everything is a jumble of things he can't. He's never good enough, always the disappointment; the abomination.

"What's wrong?" Stefan says, and there's a shift in the air behind Klaus, the sound of sheets rustling.

Klaus manages a jerky shake of his head. "Nothing," he lies, swallowing back any term of endearment because it feels wrong to be using them. As if he had any right to them. To Stefan. The words come out strangled, and he balls his fists in frustration, clears his throat. "Go back to sleep."

"No." Stefan's reply is immediate, a stubborn streak in his voice. "Look at me."

Klaus flees; walks briskly out into the kitchen to pour himself a drink. His mind is racing, and he can feel the echo of a panicked heartbeat in his chest. It doesn't take long before Stefan is behind him, Klaus can feel his presence like a cloak wrapped around his shoulders. One hand gripping the countertop hard enough to hurt, he downs the content of his drink in one slow burn.

Klaus turns around before he can stop himself, he can't deny Stefan anything, not really. The sight that greets him is like a punch in the gut. There it is, his downfall. That look on Stefan's face; like he would spend eternities looking at Klaus without ever growing tired of what he sees. A promise of loyalty unlike any other. 'Always and forever', echoes at the back of his mind, but it comes off bleak compared to Stefan's startling, unwavering faith. Klaus diverts his gaze, swallowing thickly. "Rebekah will be back tomorrow." He points out the obvious, hands twitching at his sides, barely able to look at Stefan as he does.

"Tomorrow is tomorrow," Stefan replies quietly, extending his hand. "Come back to bed, Nik."

It's too easy; locking everything away for a few more hours, and to let himself be led back to bed and forget everything but the sensation of Stefan's hands on him.

The next night Klaus watches Stefan and his sister dance at Gloria's, when the sound of gun fire suddenly rips through the night, and everything shatters like glass. Compelling his friend feels like a dam breaking; poison gushing through his veins, acrid and burning. But if speaking the words physically hurt, the fleeting emptiness in Stefan's eyes is so much worse. For a second Klaus contemplates taking it back, restore everything to how it was two seconds ago, but knows that he can't. He wants Mikael dead and his family reunited but needs Stefan safe. With one last, lingering look at his friend, Klaus runs.


I ate with you, and slept with you - your body has become not yours only, nor left my body mine only,

[…]

I am not to speak to you - I am to think of you when I sit alone, or wake a night alone,

I am to wait - I do not doubt I am to meet you again,
I am to see to it that I do not lose you.


The end


A/N

Disclaimer; the book Stefan is reading is "Leaves of Grass" by Walt Whitman. Fic title, and poetry quoted in italics is from "Whoever You Are Holding Me Now In Hand", and "To A Stranger", from that book (the only exception being "O Captain" that is from Whitman's poem "O Captain! My Captain!")

According to some sources Whitman spent parts of 1864 in Virginia, searching for his brother, who was captured by the Confederates…it was too good a detail to pass up.

Eternal thank you's to my amazing friend nondescript for her endless encouragement, mad beta skills and the suggestion to look at Whitman's work. You rock, nonnie!