"I thought I heard yelling. Is everything alright?" Elijah jumped, stopped and looked over his shoulder at Elena as the doppelgänger scurried over the sand with a bag on her shoulder.

Breathing in the salty ocean scent calmed the Original, as it always had. There was a nagging feeling in the pit of his stomach as he subconsciously dug one of his bare feet into the soft golden sand. "There was a bit of a... misunderstanding." Catching the slight fraction of a frown that crossed Elena's face, he inclined his head towards the bag on Elena's shoulder inquisitively, eager to change the subject. "Any lead on your plan?"

"Oh, I talked to Arrow-" Elijah winced, thankfully on the side of his face that Elena couldn't see fully "-and got some good ideas. Duncan went out and fetched some wolfsbane and vervain in the forest and I've asked Damon to help me make the grenades tomorrow."

Elijah nodded slowly and turned to gaze upwards at the moon. "That's good."

The moon was growing fuller; the air was chilling and the sand was freezing. In the sky the clouds looked flat, like a single blanket torn in places and stitched together loosely. Cobalt silk threaded over his lean shoulders made him look like a spirit of the ocean; his legs covered in black jeans that made him melt into the night. His hair was slightly ruffled and his auburn eyes glinted silver in the moonlight. His pale skin contrasted against the darkness and made him look almost ethereal.

Elena looked equally as stunning, dressed in lavender with white trainers on for comfort. Her long brunette hair was tied back and out of her face, showing off her her naturally wide eyes, which were fixated on the drop dead gorgeous Original stood in front of her.

In Khimki forest, she had looked at a picture of him on her phone. Of her, Duncan, Philip and Elijah. She'd almost called him several times after that, attempting to convince herself that she'd just been concerned about Damon, but...

"Elijah."

"Hm?"

"If something's bothering you, you... You know you can talk to me about it, right?"

Surprised, Elijah turned to look at her, and Elena immediately averted her gaze and stared out across the sea. She swore she saw two shadows in the waters but her heart was beating too fast and she was conscious that Elijah could hear it.

Immediately she started to fumble over her words. "I meant that if you wanted, but I know being over a thousand years old you might know a lot more than me." She paled. "Oh god, did I just call you old?"

Despite his reservations, Elijah started to laugh. It was quiet and quick, like he didn't want to offend her generosity. "I appreciate your offer, Elena, and it's alright. But I don't need a shoulder to cry on. I'm much too old for that."

"I don't think you can be too old for anything." Elena said.

Elijah smirked. "Do you mean me, or humans?"

Elena faltered then. She settled down on the sand, feeling the water wash over her feet and sink into the hem of her trousers. She pulled them back to reveal unblemished skin on her moon-outlined legs. Elijah may have looked a little longer than necessary.

"Elijah, could you take me into Dublin tomorrow at maybe eleven o'clock?" Elena asked. "I need to get some things, and I can't drive a Cadillac Escalade."

"Of course," Elijah nodded. "Do you still have some of that money I gave you a while ago or do you need some more?"

"Err..." Elena bit her lip and leaned back slightly. "I... Don't know."

"Don't worry about it. I can give you some more."

"Why?" The words burst from Elena's mouth before she could stop herself. Her heart skipped a beat – did it sound as if she were being ungrateful? "I mean, why are you giving me money? I can't pay it back any time soon..."

"I never asked you to." Elijah smirked slightly at the surprise in her eyes as she turned to stare at him. A pleasurable twinge tugged at his heart. "Nor do I want you to. Think of this as, ah... Payment. For all the damage I've done to your home, your life and for dragging you away from your family."

"Hardly," Elena scoffed. "Well, except for Alaric. I keep wondering if he's okay. He hasn't tried to call me. Over the past few weeks I've had so many missed calls and texts from... Well, I haven't had many from Alaric."

Elijah noticed how she stumbled over her sentence and gazed out across the ocean. Not long ago he'd flown this. He still felt remnants of stiffness from the journey. "Do you want to see him again?" He asked. After a pause, he added, "Stefan. I know what he did to you and I still stand with what I said before: it's not right. When this is over, if you want to go back to Mystic Falls, but you don't want to see him, I can... persuade him to leave you alone."

The thought appealed to Elena, even over her jumbled emotions. She still felt violated and betrayed, unwilling to accept what had happened to her. Was this what a rape victim went through? Granted it was a slightly different kind of rape, but... "I haven't decided." She whispered, pulling her knees closer to her chest. Something draped itself over her shoulders; Elijah had taken off his overcoat and given it to her. "I mean apparently my house was burned down so it's not like I have anywhere to live any more."

"You can stay here, if you'd like." Elijah shrugged. "I have no qualms about it. Kol and Rebekah are going to stay. So am I."

"But what about Alaric?" Elena asked. "What about Damon? And my friends? They can't all stay here." Why didn't I say no...?

Elijah picked up a pebble and hurled it across the tide. It skipped a few times before sinking. "I can have guest rooms made, move some things around. I mean this isn't built to hold a school but I can change it. Damon and I get along better now; you and Rebekah do, too. And Kol has calmed considerably since you first met, even if he is still quite destructive. Or you could stay until your house is rebuilt. I'd pay for it, of course, since it was technically my fault it was burned down in the first place."

Elena thought about it for a moment, twisting her feet so they gouged holes in the sand. "I don't know. I'm still wondering whether or not I'm even going to make it through this war. I mean I'm still human; it's not like I have a witch potion to fall back on this time. Once I'm gone, that's it. I don't think any witches would use any life-protecting spells on me and..."

"That would be against the laws of nature," murmured Elijah gently. "But then again, the laws of nature aren't clearly defined either. There's no rule book that tell us what is and isn't allowed – the witches ancestors decide."

"The witches ancestors can be a bit nit-picky some times," Elena complained.

Elijah laughed. "They can be, I suppose. And speciesist, at least towards vampires."

"And banshee." Elena said. She reached back and threaded her hair over her shoulder. "Duncan didn't seem to really like them very much."

"It's an instinctive distrust." Elijah explained, scooping up a handful of sand and throwing it away from him into the spray. "There's not much logic behind it. Witches are there to maintain order. Banshee are said to disrupt it. Effectively that means they are natural rivals. Well, supernatural rivals."

"What other types of supernatural species are there?" Asked Elena with interest. She leaned forward as Elijah began to speak.

~~~ ~~~ ~~~ x ~~~ ~~~ ~~~

"Thanks for bringing me out here, Elijah." Elena smiled sweetly at him, tugging her shopping bags closer to the chair she sat on. After so long of being in Ireland, she had grown used to his altered accent and, according to him, she had developed one of her own. "I really appreciate it."

"No problem." Replied her vampire escort with a smile of his own. He reached towards his plate and cut into a piece of steak.

They had been walking through Dublin for about two hours now; it was one thirty-five in the afternoon, so rather than trek all the way back to the dream house to cook something up there, they'd settled down for a meal at one of the local restaurants. Elena was slightly surprised that, with his exquisite tastes, Elijah hadn't dragged her off into a five star gourmet place at the higher end of the meal spectrum. Instead they were sitting outside on spidery, white, plastic chairs, at a metal table that sounded more like it was about two centimetres thick.

The food wasn't decidedly healthy but neither of them cared. Vampires could speed up their metabolism and Elena was too hungry to give a care in the world. She could have eaten a horse and not thought anything of it. Except that maybe she'd need some painkillers and a damn good stomach pump by the time she was finished.

She tried to look civilised and not scoff her food, but she still ate speedily like her plate would explode and she'd lose her chance. Elijah didn't need to eat since he was technically undead, so he ate with a lazy grace, savouring the taste of the food.

Her inquiry into supernatural species had come up empty. She'd been hoping that he'd mention Angels, and be able to tell her some more things about her heritage. She was sure that after a thousand years he'd have learned something. He hadn't even acknowledged that they'd existed.

"Why did you go and buy blocks of wood?" She found herself asking, eyeing his plastic bag. He'd bought about six fairly large blocks of wood, but she had no idea why. Was he planning on making something? Fixing a wall? She'd not been in the den since she'd heard arguments and banging. Maybe he was planning on some repair work. But then the walls weren't made of wood – he would have used something else, surely?

"A little project I'm working on." Elijah said. "For a friend."

"Building blocks?" Elena smiled innocently.

Elijah called her bluff. "Perhaps."

They continued to eat and talked about random things; the news, gossip, jobs, and again they discussed pets, but this time Elena expressed her curiosity about getting a dog. "I saw Hunter racing across the beach and I just adore him. He's so playful and energetic – and beautiful!"

Hunter was a Saluki breed of dog, the fastest on the lifeguard dog team. A poor swimmer and not very strong, but he made up for his weaknesses in pure, unrivalled speed. Hunter looked like a doberman with long spidery legs, a narrow snout and drooping, furry ears. His body was black with dogs of flame on the inside of his legs, his tail, his face, chest and forehead. His chest was white as was his chin, and he was truly a stunning dog. He easily defeated Riki in terms of looks, but Riki had the better hand in experience and strength.

"From what December tells me, they're planning on finding him a companion." Elijah commented idly, shifting on his chair with an easy grace. "I think, once he's had a litter, you could ask December if you could keep one of the pups."

"You think?" Elena's eyes glittered. Then she frowned slightly. "Oh, but I've never had a pet before... I wouldn't know where to start! You have to feed them, wash them, groom them, walk them..."

Her phone rang. Elena pulled it out of her pocket and peered at it. It was a pale blue one she'd bought to use in place of her old one – the one she couldn't use out of fear of the others tracking her signal. It was Damon.

Excusing herself, she headed away from the table and into the bathroom of the café. She clicked the button to take the call and raised the phone to her ear. "Damon?"

"Elena, everything's set up and ready for us to begin making the Wolfs-vane." Wolfs-vane? Elena nodded, smiling slightly.

"Great. Do you-" She almost asked if he needed her to return then, but this was her idea, her project, not his. Taking a breath, she said instead, "I'll be back as soon as I can. Until then, please organise the equipment on separate tables and make sure that nobody messes with anything. We can begin as soon as I'm back."

"Yes ma'am."

She ended the call and smiled a smile worthy of a scheming Katherine, and left the bathroom with her head held high. Elijah blinked at her curiously as she rejoined him at the table. "Everything's ready," she said happily. "You know, this taking-control thing... It actually feels good."

Elijah smiled. "Brilliant. Shall we be going?"

~~~ ~~~ ~~~ x ~~~ ~~~ ~~~

Elena danced triumphantly to Monster by Lady Gaga, the only Lady Gaga song that she actually liked. She jumped up and down on the floor of her shared room with Caroline, who was also laughing as she partied with her room mate. They circled the room, smacked each other with pillows, flailing their arms around.

The doppelgänger had successfully created five Wolfs-vain grenades and been in charge of the team, consisting of Damon, Duncan and Arrow, who had been unusually quiet even when spoken to. Tyler had insisted on staying as far away from the room as possible, as he'd almost collapsed when he'd walked past the room, the door shut. Elena knew that it was a very positive sign. Well, not Tyler collapsing, but the effect of it. Now the grenades were in storage and ready for use for later, and Damon had decided to begin experimenting with crossbows. Elena had decided to leave him to it.

Her dancing was cut short when she caught a flicker of movement by the door and turned to see a fairly amused Elijah leaning in the doorway, watching her curiously. Gasping, Elena lunged for the music player and flicked off the stereo.

"Elijah!" Exclaimed the brunette, sweeping a wild strand of hair from her face. "I didn't realise you were watching."

Taking her lack of a 'get-out' and scream as permission to enter, Elijah took a cautious step into the room. Auburn eyes skimmed over her tank top and skinny jeans. "Please, don't stop on my account," he teased gently. "I just came to remind you about our training session."

Perhaps the sight of Elijah dressed in white robes should have been warning enough. Glancing at the time on her phone, Elena's face drained of colour. "Oh god, I'm ten minutes late. I didn't realise! Is Philip already down there?"

"He won't be joining us," said Elijah curtly. "Caroline, Kol, Rebekah, Tyler and Philip have gone to explore Dublin a little bit more – with Philip as their guide, of course. They're probably going to party for a bit. I doubt they'll be back until early in the morning..."

"Just let me get my robes and I'll be down." Elena crossed the room and scrambled through her cabinet for her uniform. She had a decent amount of clothing there, not too many shoes. As per usual, she brushed her hair back and pinned it there with a hair tie. "What are we doing today?"

"Well first, we're recapping on what you learned last lesson, then you'll, in a sense, be relearning everything from the start. Call it a demonstration of everything you've learned. I take it you've been practising?"

"Yes. And weapons?"

"Your wooden blade. If all goes well I'll introduce you to another weapon this time: a dagger. I'll be in my room while you dress – call for me when you're ready."

Elena shut the door and undressed as quickly as possible, diving into her training clothes before making sure she looked appropriate and professional. Elijah had told her that discipline of the mind also included discipline of the body. The first time she'd been late, he'd asked her quite politely to straighten up her clothing before they began. Looking back on it now, she'd been in a horrendous state of disarray.

They headed down to the training room in mutual silence; Elijah walking slightly in front. Everything went off without a hitch: she executed each move to near perfection, balancing beautifully on the line between strength and speed.

"You've flourished," Elijah smiled approvingly, earning a blush from the hot, flustered young woman. "Now we can begin the next stage. Rather than your wooden dagger, you'll be using a real one. I want you to use it in the moves I showed you, but you'll be wanting to pay close attention to the weight and the difference in how you move."

The dagger was a beautifully crafted blade; a flawless, silver, one-edged blade. It was cold to the touch, and as she worked in getting used to the new weight and the motion, she found the palm of her hand sweating around the hilt. It was slippery. She wiped her hand against the side of her robes, then the hilt, and then tightened her grip.

"Now you'll attack me." Elijah said. But to Elena's horror, in one swift motion, he removed his shirt. "On the off-chance you do catch me, I don't want to bloody my robes." Scars stood before her like a map on his body; a history of war, of violence, of pain. Mesmerised by it, she missed his next few words, remaining captivated by how his sleek muscles moved as he demonstrated technique after-

SMACK!

Elena gasped. Elijah was standing before her, looking unimpressed. Before she could comprehend what had happened, he was striding towards the door, and for one frantic moment she thought he'd caught her ignoring him and taken offence. She rushed out of the door after him, calling out to him, intent on apologising.

"What...?" Damon was pressed up against the closed window in his crow form, twitching from the impact. That smacking sound had been him flying face-first into the window. Elijah snorted, unable to conceal his amusement, reached out of the window and pulled him inside.

Damon transformed back immediately, his head lolling, punch-drunk. He snickered lazily. "Didn't see the window," he whined, rubbing his throbbing nose. "Thought I left it open..."

"You did leave it open," Aaron said, holding up a giggling warlock by the scruff of his shirt. Duncan suddenly looked too innocent, and as Damon staggered to his feet and regained his senses, Elena swore she caught a glimmer of annoyed amusement in his eyes.

"You'll pay for that, you little midget."