A/N: This is the thing that kept me from sleeping recently, so here we go. The story is dedicated to my amazing fiance who patiently waited while I was typing like crazy on my laptop.
Have at it, Pumpkins. Review. Good or bad, make some noise.
Hell If I Know
All he felt was something sharp penetrating his chest.
Then, the darkness swallowed him.
''Wake up'', he heard a creaky drawl. ''Damn those dead, always causin' problems.''
Kol blinked twice.
He was lying on a cold ground, his chest still hurt, his head still spinning, his mind still not entirely conscious. He carefully got up to a sitting position, propped himself on either side, shook his head and looked around.
It was dark around him. Like, in a cave. He was in a cave, a vast one looking like a part of a salt mine, a cave with a lake inside. He heard a distant echo of water dropping quietly here and there.
"Where the hell am I?" Kol scratched his head.
"Interesting choice of words." The same creaky voice said behind his back. Kol turned around to see a —
"Zombie?" He squeaked.
"Now I feel truly offended." The figure pouted. Or would pout, if it had lips. It looked like a man, more or less, in a ragged, dirty black robe, but his skin was as shriveled as the dead man's body. A walking, talking thin corpse. A bald, toothless creature from old-school horror movies, holding an oar.
"I am Charon, the son of Nyx and Erebus, Night and Shadow, the ferryman traveling down the river Styx, the guide of the newly deceased, the guard of the land of the dead." He introduced himself emphatically. Before Kol could as much as blink again, the man opened his dry mouth again.
"Where's ya coin?" Charon creaked disgusted. He sounded like an old black woman straight from Lousiana.
"What coin?" Kol still needed some time to process the data given.
"Gods help me." Charon sighed to his oar. "The coin? My obol? I ain't work for free, boy. Have kids to feed."
"Where am I?" The original looked puzzled like a sad kitty left alone in the kitchen.
Charon rolled his eyes. Modern world, he snorted inwardly, no respect for death at all.
"This is the bank of the river Styx." He pointed with his bony gray finger. "Imma psychopomp that has to escort ya to the other side. Now," he extended his hand, "pay me, take your bat, and let's get down to business."
"What bat?" Kol gulped, curiouser and curiouser! Then he looked down at his feet. A baseball bat was lying on the ground next to him. He took it and got up to his feet. He instantly felt better with some kind of a weapon in his hand.
Charon had the oar, Kol had his bat. The tension between them built up so he could swear he heard Eye of the tiger playing somewhere in the background.
"Okay." Kol said slowly, determined to mind his every word for his own good. "I will pay you. But you'll get the money when we get to the other side."
He didn't have anywhere to go. He could stay in the cave forever, but this particular thought didn't appeal to Kol Mikaelson. He needed some time to figure out what was going on. And whether he was really dead.
"Why should I believe ya?" Charon frowned. Or did something similar with what was left of his face. Kol raised his head and cleared his throat.
"Because I am Kol Mikaelson, the son of Esther the Original Witch, one of the first vampires in the world, the nobility among the supernatural creatures of the night." He tried to sound as noble as he could. The accent, you know. It always works.
Charon stared at the vampire in silence for a while.
"Well, well, well," he said eventually, but the tone if his voice didn't bode well, "then I should take ya at your word, young man." He gestured at Kol to move forward and step into an old, wooden boat. The Original did as the ferryman suggested, still keeping the bat in his hand. He would not go down without a fight. And he did know how to swing that damn thing.
The boat was floating slowly down the Styx, the murky waters were bubbling ominously like a boiling acid. Kol thought it would be better not to stir too much in the boat, unless he wanted a nice impressive burn scar on his body. Charon was slowly rowing the boat up the river, humming something dreary under the hole where his nose once had been.
"Nice job." Kol looked around the vast cave trying to remain calm.
"Work's work." Charon shrugged and kept on rowing.
"You must have met a lot of famous people down there."
"Some of them, yes." The creature nodded. "Kings. Queens. Dictators. Serial killers. Very interesting people."
"I rather thought about rock stars, actors..."
"Oh, them. A bunch of drunkards, if you want to know my opinion."
They were going down a dark tunnel, then there was a light at the end of it, and Kol had to squint his eyes because of its brightness. He noticed that Charon closed his eyes for a moment as well, and the sly vamp didn't waste more time. His hand dived into the folds of Charon's robe and snatched two coins. Gotcha!
The boat reached the shore and Charon looked at Kol expectantly.
Kol got one coin (hey, it's not that he was stingy, it's just that you never know when the other coin would come iin handy!) out of his pocket and handed it to the man. He stepped out of the boat and stood on another dark, hard ground. Another cave. What a boring job it must be.
"Now, go to the very end of this tunnel, you'll find the mouth of the cave. Your destiny awaits you there." Charon mused and turned from Kol, ready to sail away.
"Um. Thanks?" Kol grimaced, supporting himself on the bat.
"The pleasure is all mine, Mr. Mikaelson." Charon's face twisted in a creepy smile, showing his crooked teeth. There was something grotesque about him that made Kol wince.
The creature let the current of the river Styx carry his boat away. Still humming the grim song, Charon disappeared into the dark abyss.
Kol humped the bat on his shoulder and trudged towards the end of the cave. Something told him that this time he would have to fight for his survival even more than normally.
But whatever brought him there, it would never get him.
"Over my dead body," Kol muttered.
After a short walk in the total darkness he finally got to the exit.
(It's not that hard to find it if there's an eye-catching, flashing sign with the word EXIT on it, you know.)
He stuck his head out of the cave and his mouth dropped, then his tongue unrolled on the ground. Darkness embraced him again — obviously there's always the night-time in the underworld — but he figured out his position pretty soon.
He was on a. Fucking. Desert!
On a freaking desert with —
— a giant skyscraper in the middle?
Kol raised an eyebrow.
He approached the building cautiously. It looked like a huge office building with glass windows and those glazed elevators that let you see the whole city and worsen your fear of heights.
The Underworld is an international corporation after all, Kol chuckled bitterly.
Then he saw a big signboard hanging over the entrance.
Make Afterlife Harder
"You must be kidding me."
There was a blonde receptionist inside, a nice one, if a pair of horns doesn't bother you, of course.
"Hell-o Mr. Mikaelson!" She beamed at him from her desk. Kol rolled his eyes. Seriously, this place was getting more and more cliched.
"Do you know me?" Kol asked, not because he was curious — it was clear they knew him. He felt like a celebrity. His ego inflated.
"Of course! Please go to the tenth floor, Mr. Cifer is waiting for you."
Kol shrugged and tightened his grip on the bat.
"Ah-ah. Mr. Mikaelson?" The blonde smiled tentatively. "This bat? Please leave it here." She fluttered her eyelashes.
She gave him an astounded look.
"Excuse. Me?" The smile stayed on her face but she was silently raging inside. She-devil, Kol thought.
"I'm not leaving my bat anywhere."
"But Mr. Cifer — "
"I'm pretty sure I don't care." He swung the bat like a baton and paraded before her eyes, then swaggered into the elevator. He sighed and leaned back against the glass wall, looking at the desert surrounding the building. What a shithole. And he thought that Mystic Falls was boring. He would never find a bad word to say about the town again. That is, if I ever manage to leave this place. No, he shook his head, think positive! WHEN I manage to leave this place.
— ding! tenth floor—
Kol stepped inside the corridor. There was only a long, narrow hall that ended with the dark wooden door. The vampire got through the corridor and stood in front of the door.
There was a golden door plate with black letters saying,
His Royal Evilness
The Lord of the Underworld
"Somebody must have drugged me." Kol snorted. He straightened his brown shirt and shook the dust off his leather jacket, then looked at the bat to gather some courage and knocked.
"Yessss?" The voice answered.
Kol pushed the door and got inside the room. A perfect picture of luxury. Dark colors, leather furniture, dim light, one or two works of art on the wall. The smell of a Havana cigar in the air. You could literally inhale his bossiness.
But Kol Mikaelson didn't bow or scrape at nobody's feet. The Original decided to play it cool.
A swivel chair turned around and a sly face appeared in the faint light. Kol raised both his eyebrows in a slight surprise. The man sitting by a large mahogany desk reminded him of Al Pacino in his forties or fifties. He looked... cunning, mischievous... Devilish. And he had a green parrot sitting on his shoulder.
Then Kol saw something on the shelf behind the man's back. A small golden statuette in form of a trident, a badge with a motto attached to it. The motto said Better to reign in Hell, than to serve in Heaven. Kol gagged.
"Mr. Mikaelson, nice to meet you." The man got up, came out of the shadows and extended his hand. He did look like a boss. A black designer suit and a darker than black shirt fitted him like a glove, a red tie gave the outfit a touch of wickedness. His foxy smile made Kol feel a bit unsteady. But Kol's brave, badass face was still on.
"Mr. Cifer." Kol didn't shake devil's hand, just nodded.
"Give em hell!" The parrot squawked, making Kol flinch.
"Call me Lu." The devil grinned viciously.
"I need answers," Kol said solemnly, "Lu."
"Wanna play twenty questions?" Cifer wiggled his eyebrows. "Just jokin'."
I'm doomed, Kol gave himself a loud mental facepalm.
"You, my dear bloodsucking friend, are in Hell."
"I figured out as much." Kol pouted, obviously jaded. "Where is the eternal flame of punishment and damnation? The Pit? All the damned souls screaming and crying?"
"Oh, right, that Hell." The devil lit up another cigar. (''Want one?" He offered. Kol shook his head.) "It's so last season." He exhaled a puff of smoke. "We have to move with the times, if you know what I'm sayin'."
"Not really." Kol shifted his body a little and propped one arm on the bat.
"Hell is a sad, sad business, my friend. I would say dead business, but I hate stupid puns."
"I am a visionary, I must admit." Lu bragged. "One day I woke up and thought, hey, Lu, you're a visionary, let's give 'em a real Hell, yeah that's what I said."
"Go on." Kol rolled his eyes for a thousandth time that day. Or night. Or whatever.
"So, like I've said before, as a — ("Visionary" Kol chimed in, bored.) — damn right! So, I decided to make some changes. Make it work."
Kol yawned. Is it a real Picasso on the wall? Klaus would love it.
"And I said, let's make the afterlife harder! Ahahahahah! Good one, isn't it?" Lu laughed manically.
"My brilliant idea was, let's personalize it! Let's make Hell a personal thing! No more boiling pitch, no more physical torture!"
Kol finished checking his nails.
"A personal Hell for every damned soul, that's what I'm sayin'!"
"All the rage." The Original scratched his head with a pessimistic look on his face. "But why am I here?"
"You'll be my lab rat! Aha!" Cifer grinned from ear to ear, waiting excitedly for Kol's reaction.
His guest's expression was something between I'm surrounded by idiots and Did you take your meds?
"I'll be what?"
"Arrrrg! Give em hell!"
"Technically, you just died. There's no redemption for you, I'm sorry. In fact I'm not, because I've been waiting for you, like, for a thousand years?" He started to circle Kol like a shark.
"Yes, my friend, I've been watching you. Once I even thought, hey, this guy could be a good mate of mine — "
Not really, Kol thought.
"— but then, I had to invent some crafty torments for you. And as you'll see, I am very inventive. I love a good challenge." The guy was seriously getting on Kol's nerves.
"Yeah, sure. I'm sure you do (you pathetic twat, he added in his head). But again," Kol got closer to the devil and raised his hand holding the bat, "what do you want exactly?"
"I just want you to know that everything I prepared for you... It's special." He smirked.
"What an honor." Kol said and turned away to leave. There was no point talking to that guy. He was obviously mental. The plan B consisted of looking for a way out on his own.
Kol turned his head towards Lu Cifer.
"Give em hell! Give em hell!"
"Mortality all over again, that's your curse. Have a nice eternity. I'll drop by one day." The devil smiled —
—and snapped his fingers. Suddenly, the ground disappeared from under Kol's feet.
Kol started to fall down, down, down... The world was spinning around and the only thing Kol could hold onto was his bat. So he hugged it firmly and prepared himself for a crash landing.
He opened his eyes. He was lying on a familiar wooden floor. The ceiling also seemed familiar. The room seemed familiar. He was home.
"I knew some bastard drugged me." Kol got up, furious and sore, and stomped in a rage into the living room of Klaus' mansion.
"I swear I'm going to kill y— HOLY SHIT!" He almost tripped and fell on his ass. Caroline and Klaus were sitting in the middle of the room, on his leather couch. They were thumbing through a wedding magazine.
A wedding. Magazine.
Klaus was wearing a pink polo t-shirt. Caroline was wearing a flashy pink dress.
"Kol!" He smiled and got up with his arms open, ready to welcome his brother. "Long time no see!"
"What are you talkin—"
"I missed you, bro. So many years."
"Y-years?" Kol choked out.
"I see you're tired after such a long trip." Klaus patted Kol on the shoulder. "But one thing before you get some rest. Meet my lovely wife-to-be, Caroline Forbes." He pointed at Caroline and she also got up, went up to Kol and hugged him tight.
"Nice to meet you, Kol." She smiled sweetly. Kol felt a sudden need to puke rainbow.
"I'm so happy we'll soon be a family!" She squeaked. Kol blinked. Klaus smiled goofily.
"Where's Rebekah?" Kol asked warily.
"With her girl scout team, selling cookies. She's still into it, can you believe it?"
"Bekah's selling girl scout cookies?" Has somebody stolen my sister and replaced her with her doppelganger?
"She's a scout instructor now! Our little Bekah, can you imagine?" Klaus gushed.
"Indeed, I can't." Kol mumbled, astounded and terrified.
"And guess who's performing today?" Caroline chirped.
"Oh please tell me, I can't wait to know." Kol muttered flatly.
"He's got the leading male role in The Nutcracker! We're so proud!"
Kol went pale. Somebody must have cracked Elijah's nuts long time ago. His brother was a... ballet dancer? His brother was wearing...
"Speak of the devil!" Klaus laughed.
And then Kol saw him entering the room. Elijah. Wearing...
"These tights are wonderful, they fit perfectly. So smooth." He said, then he noticed Kol. "Brother!' Elijah exclaimed and rushed to greet Kol. Elijah's legs were wrapped in white tights. Close-fitting tights.
"Tights." Kol whispered.
(Have you seen Mel Brook's 'Robin Hood, Men in Tights'? Yeah, so you get the idea.)
Elijah's arms crushed Kol's limp body.
"I see you all tonight." The dancer sent all of them a knowing look and tidied his perfect-as-always hair.
"We'll be sitting in the first row." Klaus winked at him. "Even Klaus Junior."
Kol thought he must have been hearing things. He looked at Klaus and Caroline, horrified.
"Really? Congrats!" Elijah hugged the blonde.
"Aww, Honey Bunny, you was supposed to keep it secret!" Caroline poked Klaus playfully on the arm.
"I'm sorry, Pumpkin, but I'm so excited!" He kissed her on the hand.
"PUMPKIN? HONEY BUNNY? KLAUS JUNIOR?" Kol felt dizzy.
"I told you it would be too much for him, Sweetie Pie." Caroline gave Klaus a scolding look.
"You're going to be an uncle, man." Klaus embraced Kol with one shoulder.
"Look how shocked he is." Elijah laughed and pulled his tights up. White tights paired with a tight black tank top. The only thing missing there was a pink tutu.
"But it's impossible!" Kol yelled, tearing out his hair with both hands. "You can't! Vampires can't!"
His brothers and Caroline stood there in silence, looking at Kol like he just said that he rode a unicorn.
"Kol. Do you still watch all those vampire TV series?" Klaus frowned, looking concerned all of a sudden. "Poor boy. You're losing touch with reality."
Then Kol heard it.
Heartbeats. All of them had beating hearts. They were human.
He remembered Lu's words. Mortality all over again.
"Sorry." He mumbled absently and sank into the nearest armchair. "I'm just tired."
"You can go and get some sleep, brother. The Salvatores are coming to get the measurements for Caroline's wedding dress."
"Good." Kol wasn't even listening.
Wait a minute.
The Salvatores? Taking the measurements?
As if right on cue, the doorbell rang. Two men appeared in the hall.
Let me introduce to you Mr. Damon Salvatore, the best fashion designer in Virginia, and most probably in some other states too. Look how his tight orange jeans match the yellow tight-fitting t-shirt and the turquoise slippers.
Let me introduce to you Mr. Stefan Salvatore, a top-notch hair stylist whom Lady Gaga pays millions of dollars for taking even a slight glance at her hair.
The Salvatore brothers, creme de la creme in the world of fashion.
Kol's bat fell to the floor.
"Does my butt look fat in those tights?" Elijah pondered.
"Nope, my friend!" Damon announced, taking off his Ray-Ban sunglasses, "it's just perfect."
"Nice hair." Stefan pointed out.
"Caroline!" Damon sang. "Look at cha! Lookin' rrrravishing!" He grinned playfully. He lowered his voice, "Ooooh, is it Dolce?" and winked at her.
Caroline giggled stupidly. Klaus and Damon shook hands.
"I've seen your recent exhibition at Tate. Man, those horsies!" The older Salvatore nodded in recognition of Klaus' remarkable talent.
"Nice to see you again." Stefan — always nice and politically correct — approached Kol. "How's life?"
"I've kinda hit a dead end." Kol muttered, taking his bat off the floor.
"Oh, sorry to hear that."
"You have no idea." He sighed. "How's the dop- I mean, how's Elena?"
"She and Matt got married last year." Stefan's eyes darkened melancholically.
"Sorry to hear that." Kol didn't know why he just said that. He didn't care about Elena's well-being. Still, it was so depressing to see how Mystic Falls turned into Mystic Hells. How everything he'd liked (even his brother's weak spot for Caroline that was a part of the everyday struggle) became included in a soap opera. It dawned on him that he had liked the rut he'd been stuck in before.
Now everything was human. Human through and through. Too human.
Kol was about to get up and head towards the Grill to drink himself senseless, to get smashed, to get uber-plastered, when his ears were attacked by a deafening, infernal noise. A cacophony that sounded like a jackhammer working slowly, drilling a hole in Kol's forehead, accompanied by a masher hitting him in the occiput and a choir made of farting robots strumming something on the cheese graters instead of guitars.
"What the heck is this?" Kol tried to outshout the clamor.
"It's called dubstep!" Stefan shouted back.
"Do you use it to scare wild animals off?"
"No! It's music!"
"This was a rhetorical question!" Kol's voice got lost in the waves of the musical pandemonium.
"Problems with digestion?" Stefan shouted back pricking up his ears.
"No! A Rhetorical question!"
"Whatever!" Kol shouted one last time, grabbed his bat and dashed out of the house.
Lu Cifer might have taken his real family, he might have turned this place into a schmaltzy, nauseatingly sweet idyll that made Kol wanna puke, but he WOULD NEVER condemn Kol Mikaelson to listen to fucking dubstep for the eternity! Never!
Nobody messes with Kol Mikaelson.
Even the Devil himself.
He would lure the bastard out of his burrow and give him what he deserved.
Five minutes later Kol stood before the cemetery entrance. He kicked the rusty gate open and stormed inside. He said he'd drop by. The devil must have a portal somewhere, he kept on looking around. After a while he noticed an old crypt covered with moss. The stone was dark and worn out by the relentless passage of time. Two old, stone statues of fallen angels decorated each side of the crypt door.
Kol's hands gripped the bat tightly and he took a wide swing at one of the angels. Its head fell to the floor with a loud CRASH!
"Come out, come out, wherever you are!'' He sang. ''It might be your last chance to get here."
WHAM! The angel got shattered into tiny pieces.
"I know you can hear me!"
BANG! The other angel turned into a pile of stones.
Kol stepped inside the tomb.
"If you insist so much on having me here, I will destroy your portal once and for all, and then I'll show you how to run a motherfuckin' town!" He yelled. There was no answer.
"Okay. You had it coming." Kol smirked and started to pound on the walls. They started to crumble like sand. Kol pounded even harder. It seemed like an earthquake.
"Enough!" He heard Lu shout behind his back.
Kol turned away slowly, with a mad grin on his face.
"Relax, darling. You wanted to give me hell. I'm accepting the offer." Then he swung once more and before the devil could even blink, Kol smacked him on the head. Lu's knees bent while he clutched on his head.
Kol didn't answer, just hit him once again in the knees. The devil fell to the floor.
"I was amused." Lu whispered, trying to catch a breath. He got off the ground and launched at Kol, pinning the vampire to the wall. "Now I'm angry." He pressed Kol harder against the concrete, making him drop the bat.
The devil swung his arm at his victim and the Original could see a blow coming right—
Kol felt a sharp, stinging pain in the chest
—and his mind was plunged into darkness again.
"Come on, brother, enough with the drama! Or I'll dagger you again." Kol heard Klaus huff and puff. He slowly opened his eyes. Slowly... The sun was dazzling his eyes.
Hey, the sun? A dagger? Kol's upper body shot up to a sitting position in a second.
He looked around, confused. His baseball bat was lying on the ground. He glanced up. Klaus and Elijah were standing above him with their arms crossed and their eyebrows raised. They did look like brothers in such moments. Three more shadows were being cast on the other side of Kol. He turned his head to see the Salvatores and Caroline.
"Where am I?" He asked, puzzled. Elijah smirked. His youngest brother looked like he'd been to hell and back. Kol's messy hair and crazy stare were a clear sign that the vampire needed a nice bloody lunch.
"You, Honey Bunny you!" Kol shouted like a lunatic, pointing at — bewildered and speechless — Klaus.
"And you, Pumpkin!" He spat, turning to the other side and pointing at Caroline, whose eyes widened in shock.
"You two are not having any babies! DO YOU UNDERSTAND?" Kol yelled, raising from the floor. He was panting heavily, seething with rage.
Klaus and Caroline looked at each other, utterly perplexed.
"Have you gone insane, Kol?" Klaus choked out — pretending not to see the blush on Caroline's cheeks — but Kol wasn't listening.
"And you... ballerina!" Kol growled, turning to Elijah who instantly took a step back, disorientated. "Forget— about— THE FREAKING TIGHTS!" He screamed.
Then the youngest Original spun around and focused on the Salvatores.
"If I see you two parading around the town with that oh-so-dandy attitude, I swear I will kill you both with your own turquoise flip-flops."
Damon was about to say that he didn't own any flip-flops, but Stefan mumbled leave the madman to his madness and dragged his brother and the blonde out of the mansion.
"What the hell happened?" Kol asked when he managed to sit down on a couch and calm himself down a little.
"Rebekah daggered you and ran into the woods. You must have really pissed her off." Klaus laughed. Kol, sitting with a sour look on his face, didn't find it even a tad bit funny.
"So I didn't die?"
"No, your idiot! You were just put to sleep." Klaus scoffed.
Kol shrugged and shoved his hands into the pockets of his jeans. Something brushed against his hand.
He took it out.
Suddenly Kol's face went ghostly pale.
Charon's coin. The obol.
"What's wrong with you?" The hybrid shot him a suspicious look.
Kol was staring at the silver coin, hypnotized.
"Hell if I know, brother."