Liz stared at him as her mind raced, wanting to demand he further explain himself, but understanding his opening parry was designed to unseat her, probably in a bid of intelligence gathering. She could appreciate that tactic; she often used it herself.
She opted for silence, knowing it was sometimes the greatest weapon in one's arsenal. She wondered just how much he knew and who had told him. Undoubtedly it had been Elena, Jeremy, or Alaric, or some combination thereof. She was unsure whether to be grateful that she had another potential ally in this war, or if Kurt was merely another opponent she would have to face.
She was disappointed that she was the only one unnerved by the quiet. Kurt appeared as though he could have cared less. In fact, he looked faintly bemused, as if he knew what she was doing and was more than happy to wait her out.
She suppressed a sigh and refrained from shaking her head in consternation. She had lost this round.
"How much do you know?" she asked evenly.
"Probably more than you," he said, though his tone was inoffensive. Again, his eyes met hers. "This isn't my first time at this particular rodeo."
What the hell did that mean?
"I'm a witch."
She blinked. "Huh?"
Brittany stared at the closed office door, frowning in concentration, distressed and annoyed when she ascertained Kurt had sealed the room.
Why would he do that?
Unless he was hiding something.
She had always suspected there was something he had never told her. Someone or something long ago had hurt him, and he had kept it to himself, most likely to protect her.
Or to protect someone from her.
But what was it?
She was sure Santana didn't know what it was, or Santana would have told her. Their mutual radio silence had been agreed upon long ago, but Kurt wasn't covered by it. If Santana knew about whatever this was, she wouldn't have been able to keep it to herself; she would have demanded retribution and asked Brittany for help.
She didn't know. Santana didn't know.
Kurt wasn't that close with Mercedes anymore, so she was out.
Kurt didn't tell personal things to many people, and that definitely included Finn and Rachel. He trusted them, but only so far, and not with secrets.
Sam might have known, Uncle Burt as well, but they were gone and had taken their secrets to the grave, as was only right. Even had they lived, they never would have exposed Kurt.
Quinn was the only logical confidant, and suddenly Brittany was aware that whatever this information was, Quinn was in possession of it. She knew this to be true.
She also knew that there was no hope of anyone extracting that information. Under no circumstances would Quinn ever betray Kurt. He was perhaps the only person on the face of the earth to whom she held such allegiance. Quinn would go to the wall for Kurt, using every weapon at her disposal; she could be, and had been, utterly ruthless when the situation demanded.
Brittany could respect that. She also respected Kurt and his privacy, which was why she would force herself to let this go. Kurt would tell her when he was ready and not a moment before. That was his decision and she would not take it from him. She would never mention this to Santana, whose relentlessness knew no bounds.
Still, she wondered. She worried.
And she feared.
What could be so bad that Kurt wouldn't tell her? What was he afraid she would do?
It had to have been awful. There was no other explanation.
Kurt wasn't a devious person, but he was secretive. She didn't fear that he had acted out of malice, but was terrified something had been perpetrated against him, something over which he'd had no control or held himself accountable for creating.
He really was such a martyr sometimes.
Why was he telling the sheriff and not her?
It must have been part of some plan, she realized, something designed to form some kind of alliance, which suggested Kurt considered Elizabeth Forbes to be a major player in all of this.
Or he thought of her as a friend.
That bothered Brittany. Elena and Jeremy were okay because they were Kurt's family and would soon be thought of as such by the others. Alaric was acceptable because he was a potential love interest who had been temporarily friend-zoned, though Brittany doubted it would last long. Elizabeth Forbes, however, was a wild card.
Obviously, Kurt saw something in the woman. It had been apparent just from their greeting, how pleased they had appeared to see one another.
It was odd, now that she thought about it, but none of them had close friends outside their small circle. Even within that circle, friendships were tenuous. Each of the girls, herself included, adored Kurt beyond reason, but had not much use for each other. Finn and Rachel loved Kurt unreservedly, but Brittany suspected Kurt would never really believe that.
After high school, Puck had only stayed in contact with Sam, and thus with Kurt. Mike, Matt, and Artie had disappeared into the ether. No one knew where Tina was, except possibly Kurt.
Kurt still spoke with Coach. Their relationship had always been strange.
Holiday emails were exchanged with Schuester, who had gone on to marry Pillsbury and have the requisite two children, adorable house, cuddly dog, and irritating cat.
No one else had really come close to penetrating their circle, save Blaine Anderson, who was promptly ejected after only a handful of months and rightfully so.
They were alone, adrift in the world. They had only each other to whom they could cling - whether that of their own creation or some other force was unknown - yet they didn't cling.
Still, they couldn't escape their associations. Finn and Rachel had married. Kurt and Sam had been as good as married. She and Santana would one day find their back to each other. Mike and Artie had never gotten over Tina, who had never gotten over them, but had put an entire world between them. Quinn and Puck had never had successful relationships with anyone after high school. Matt continued to linger on the periphery, as he had before leaving McKinley, but he was still one of their own.
Friends, lovers, family - each member had loved and lost some measure of all three, yet they still each other, even if they didn't speak to one another. Sometimes Brittany wondered if they were blessed or cursed. She doubted she'd ever have the answer. She wasn't sure she wanted one.
Yet one simple phone call from a lawyer had changed everything.
Now there were three new people, people who knew about them, who understood what they were, and didn't fear them. Elena and Jeremy would be adopted as the younger siblings. Everyone, from Finn and Rachel and even Santana was now, or soon would be, dedicated to those children, just as Cosette was regarded as the child of the collective.
Alaric could never replace Sam and he was likely to be mistrusted for a long time, particularly by Finn and Santana, but room would be made. He would be accepted, even if things between he and Kurt never manifested or failed altogether.
It was just the way things were, the way they had always been, but Elizabeth Forbes was throwing a wrench in the works. Well, truthfully, Kurt was doing it, but he must have had a reason. He never did anything without one.
Just what had he seen something in Elizabeth Forbes, Brittany wondered. What had made him trust the woman? Kurt didn't give his trust easily nor as a matter of course. It was a precious commodity, and once you lost it, heaven help you, because no one else would.
"You look worried," Alaric whispered.
"Why?" Elena hissed.
They were sitting alongside each other on the bench in the foyer, waiting for Kurt to emerge. Brittany had cast a privacy spell that would allow that obnoxious secretary to ignore them.
"Kurt sealed the room," she said. "He's blocked our connection."
"Why would he do that?" asked a bewildered Jeremy.
"What do you think he's telling her?" Alaric prompted.
Brittany stared at him. "Everything."
"A witch?" she dumbly repeated. "Like the Bennetts?"
"Not like them, no," Kurt replied. He briefly launched into his now patented spiel, explaining how magic was practiced differently depending on the caster. "I'm much more powerful."
"Why are you here?"
"The children," he promptly answered, "and for no other reason. They're my family, Elizabeth, much like Caroline is yours. I don't do well when my family is threatened."
This she understood. "Do you see me as a threat?"
"Of course not," he scoffed. "If I did, we wouldn't be having this conversation."
He omitted the part where he would have simply eliminated her had he deemed her such, but she heard the unvoiced words.
"I'm to be an ally, then?" she asked crisply.
"A friend," he whispered. "I was nothing but honest when I said I wanted a friend, Elizabeth, and I want it to be you."
"Why?" Liz asked helplessly, throwing up her hands. "What's so special about me? I can't really help you, Kurt, no matter how much I might want. I'm not a witch. I have no...special skills when it comes the supernatural. If anything, I'm a detriment. I could be used against you."
His eyes raised to meet her. "Elizabeth, I'm not Damon."
She sucked in a sharp breath. "What do you know about him?"
"Probably more than you do," Kurt replied. "I know he's in love with Elena. I know he has a contentious relationship with his brother." He paused. "I know he's already killed Jeremy and Alaric."
Her eyes bulged. "What?"
"You know about the rings."
She blinked, frowning. "Yes, now that you mention them, but I haven't thought of them consciously in quite some time, and I had no idea they'd had to be used." She tilted her head. "And how did Alaric get one?"
He nodded. "And Elena's biological mother."
Liz paled. "Does Elena know?"
"She does," he said. "I don't believe she's happy with the information, and she probably wishes she didn't know, but yes."
Her lips pursed. "Damon killed them."
Kurt's eyes grew stormy and Elizabeth would have sworn that even she could sense the magic swirling about him. She became concerned.
"Kurt," she asked softly, "who else did he kill?"
Kurt swallowed and turned away from her. "Isobel herself, turning her into a vampire, and a friend of mine, a vampire named Lexi Branson."
Elizabeth was floored. "A vampire was your friend?" She had no idea how to process that.
Kurt sighed gently. "Elizabeth, I know about the Council, about your oaths, and I respect that, but how much do you truly know about vampires?"
Faced with such a pointed question, she found she had no ready answers. "Not much," she finally, and reluctantly, admitted.
"How much do you want to know?"
Well, that was the question, wasn't it? She knew how to kill vampires. She understood the victimology of those they murdered. She knew about the legends of her town.
Did she understand the psychology of vampires, she asked herself? No, not really.
She should know, she decided, considering her daughter had been turned into one. Regardless of how she felt about that, and she still wasn't quite sure, forewarned was forearmed.
"Whatever you feel comfortable telling me."
He raised a brow. "That will be quite a telling, indeed. Buckle up."
Ten minutes later, Liz was glad she was sitting down.
"Three kinds of vampires?" she whispered.
"At least," Kurt affirmed. "There could be more. There probably are." He paused. "It's best if you consider them as totally different species, ones who rarely interact. They are wary of each other and tend to stay as separated as possible. When they meet, carnage inevitably ensues, so while it might be temporarily helpful to have one of the other species come to town, I wouldn't recommend it."
"Werewolves?" she asked.
"Tend to be pretty much the same across the board, although there are various mythologies."
She slowly shook her head. "And, as you earlier explained, different kinds of witches."
He nodded. "Many types, some with more power than others. Bonnie, for example, is very powerful for her particular type of witch."
He met her eyes with a steady gaze. "I am perhaps the most powerful witch walking the planet."
"Please don't be frightened of me," he said quietly.
She wasn't. She really wasn't, and said as much.
He heaved a soft sigh of relief. "I'm glad."
"Do you have specific powers?" she asked, changing the subject slightly. "From what I know of the Bennett witches, their magic is...systemic."
He gave a mild shrug. "I think that's an accurate statement, and, yes, I do have specific powers. The ones I use most frequently are telekinesis, pyrokinesis, telepathy, and teleportation."
Her mouth fell open and Kurt knew she had overloaded. It would save time and countless denials if he simply demonstrated his abilities. To that end, he described in detail one of her favorite childhood memories of her mother. He then popped about the room, disappearing and reappearing in different locations in the blink of an eye. Finally, two large fireballs appeared in his hands. He shook them, and the fireballs evaporated.
They gazed at each other for several moments.
"You don't understand how I, with all of this power, allowed myself to be raped."
She blinked harshly. "That is most definitely not the word I would use," she thundered.
He held up a hand. "Apologies. It was a poor choice on my part, but your question is valid." He cleared his throat. "I'm not omnipotent, Elizabeth, nor am I immortal. Despite my magic, I'm still human. I can be hurt. I can be killed. I can be taken by surprise. I can freeze when something unimaginable occurs."
He sat down and looked at his hands, folded in his lap. "That was unimaginable. I never..." He shook his head in frustration. "It wasn't until after that I realized what he truly thought of me. Prior to that, I thought he was a homophobic bully." His eyes turned distant. "Then, in the blink of an eye, everything changed."
He looked at her. "It's funny how that can happen. It's strange how we use that phrase as though it's meaningless, when it's so very true. In a single instant, everything can change: your thoughts about yourself, the people you know, your friends and family, your home, your view of the world and your place within it. Those can all change in the space of a second."
He ran his tongue over dry, chapped lips. "I'm telepathic, but I never saw it coming. I'm empathic, but I never felt the rage he held for me. I'm enormously powerful, but I was so trapped by my fear and disbelief, I could do nothing." He bit his lip so harshly he drew blood. "When the attack began, I astral projected out of my body and watched it take place."
She gagged, close to retching.
"I couldn't get back in," he continued, his voice quizzical and so very innocent. "I tried, but nothing worked. It wasn't until later, much later, that I realized it was my magic's way of trying to protect me. I saw the rape, but I didn't feel it. I felt the effects afterward, yes, but I didn't feel the attack. I'm grateful for that. It didn't erase the violation, but it was somewhat muted."
"I can't," she rasped, "I can't even imagine."
"I hope you never have to."
She closed her eyes and shuddered.
"I'm vulnerable, Elizabeth," he said. "We all are. There are things, forces in this world, that are beyond our control. It's not easy to accept, and I certainly haven't managed that well, but ,in my experience, I've found that it's how you deal with the ramifications that defines your character."
She nodded weakly.
"I'm a good person," Kurt said. "I don't use my magic against people unless it's in defense of myself or another, and by that I mean mortal peril. I've never killed a human with my magic. To do so, to surrender myself so completely to my power, would cost me my own humanity. It's a line I don't ever want to cross."
She nodded firmly, appreciating his words. She had taken lives in the course of her duty, and though she didn't regret her actions, she deeply regretted they had been necessary. She understood the cost she had paid, and she hoped Kurt would never have to share it with her.
"You speak of your magic as thought it's a separate entity," she observed.
He nodded. "It's difficult to voice just what magic is. I am magic. I own my magic. However, I am also keenly aware that it is a gift; that I was chosen, for whatever reason, to wield it. When I do, I am conscious that my magic has a purpose of its own and that I must respect it."
She dimly comprehended what he was trying to communicate, but suspected she would never truly understand.
"And your friend? Lexi?"
"Caroline would have considered Lexi to be ancient. Damon and Stefan would have considered her a tribal elder, so to speak. Older vampires would have considered her a child." He sighed gently. "She was my friend. She was very kind to me.
"Vampires and witches are not, by our very natures, allies. We're aware of the power we hold over each other, that we can kill each other." He paused. "That doesn't mean, however, that every witch and every vampire is stereotypical of their respective cohorts."
She supposed she could understand that. She cautiously nodded.
"When a vampire of the kind of which Lexi was is turned," he continued, "the bloodlust is insatiable. No matter much their consciences torture them - oh, yes, they have consciences - they have to feed to survive. It is not until much later, years, that they begin to understand they don't have to kill in order to feed unless they desire to do so. Lexi hadn't killed for over three centuries. She felt remorse for those she had killed, but, at the time, she had no control."
That made sense to Elizabeth, despite her disgust.
"With this particular type of vampire, age is the ruling factor. The older a vampire grows, the more powerful they become. Other factors influence this, including what type of person they were when human, specifically their strength of will."
Liz tilted her head thoughtfully, surprised and ashamed she hadn't considered this point before. In terms of personality, Caroline had not drastically changed.
"Lexi was a good person, Elizabeth," Kurt said softly, eyes on the floor. "She was moral. She was loyal to a fault. She would never have hesitated to sacrifice herself to protect one she loved. Her strength of will was truly awesome. She was kind and smart and so funny. While I was always cognizant that she was a vampire, I can honestly say that word would have been somewhere around the twentieth I would have used to describe her." His voice was tinged with fondness, sorrow, and rage. "Damon will pay for this."
"Why did he kill her?" she asked baldly.
"To throw suspicion off of himself while simultaneously impressing you."
Her brows raised sharply. "Me?"
Kurt hesitated for a moment. "What I'm about to say, you probably don't want to hear, but neither do I want to lie to you."
"Damon likes you, Elizabeth. He truly does. In fact, I think you're probably the first friend he's made in fifty years. His motives were spurious and he committed unspeakable acts, but his affection for you was and remains genuine."
She had no idea what to say, so she said nothing.
Kurt smirked. "He paid me a visit last night, you see, during the course of which I explained to him my displeasure. We traded barbs, him most ineffectually, I slapped him with an impotence curse, and then threw him down the stairs."
She stared at him for what seemed like minutes before her lips trembled and she snorted, which soon segued to outright hysterical laughter. "You did what!" she roared with glee.
Kurt buffed his nails on his pants. "That was only the beginning. He's hurt my family. He's been stalking Elena and playing with her emotions. I've already recounted his sins against Jeremy and Alaric." He sighed. "It's difficult, however, because he and Alaric are friends. Damon was...incensed...when he smelled Alaric on me. He was outraged that I had trespassed on what he considers his."
"Alaric is his?" Liz drawled.
Kurt waved a hand. "So Damon believed. Now he thinks Alaric is mine, and I'm not disabusing him of that notion because it is amusing for me not to do so."
Liz was vastly bemused. "And you have even more in store for him?"
Kurt hesitated. "I offered him a conditional alliance, and he's currently considering it. He knows it's his best shot. That doesn't mean, however, that I won't punish him for his transgressions."
"You really think he'll work with you?" Liz asked dubiously.
He shrugged. "It's in his best interests, and Damon always does what's best for him. He's also overly impressed with himself, far too impetuous, and overly concerned with his own gratification. I prefer to have him close so that I can keep an eye on him. He might be powerful compared to the other vampires in this town, but he's practically an infant. I could incinerate him with a thought and he knows it. I'm willing to work with him, but I will never trust him."
"I'm furious with myself for believing him," Liz hissed, two spots of color emerging high on her cheeks.
"No," Kurt gently argued, "you're angry for caring about him, and even knowing that he cares for you in return can't assuage that."
He internally debated telling her that it had been Damon who had turned Caroline, but he didn't see how it would benefit him. Elizabeth would be devastated and outraged, becoming irrational. Despite knowing for a fact that Damon cared about her, he wouldn't hesitate to kill her if she became a threat to him. It was simply his nature.
Kurt wouldn't engineer a situation which would bring harm to the woman, so he kept silent.
"You could dispose of him so easily?" she pressed.
"He's insignificant," Kurt said coldly. "The only reason I haven't killed him is because it would hurt Elena and Alaric, and I won't do that, no matter how distasteful I find their respective relationships with him." He paused. "Also because he could be a valuable pawn to me. He poses no danger. I can't be compelled."
"Really?" she asked, obviously both intrigued and jealous.
"It's a byproduct of my telepathy." He smirked. "I can make sure you're immune, as well. It's a simple charm."
Twenty minutes after entering Elizabeth's office, Kurt reemerged with the woman in two, both of them whispering to each other and snickering, their arms linked.
Hr turned and smiled widely at his cousins, Alaric, and Brittany, all of whom, despite their curiosity and worry, smiled back.
Abby stared lustfully at Kurt, who had finally had enough and sneered.
"Newsflash, sweetie. I couldn't be more gay if my name was Gay Gayerson. Translation: I like penises. Large ones are preferable."
Her mouth fell open.
"If you were the last person on the face of the earth, I'd demand a recount," he cheerfully added. "Not a chance."
He turned back toward Elizabeth, who was braying like a hyena, patted her hand, and promised to call her later.
He then strutted toward his family, hips set on maximum sway just to further entice and infuriate Abby. Sure, he was grown and now the head of a family, but he was still a bitch, and he was totally okay with that.
He wrapped an arm around Brittany's waist, who laid her head on his shoulder. He suppressed a snicker when Alaric sneered triumphantly at Abby, who flushed and glared down at her desk.
"Let's continue that tour!" Kurt chirped.
They exited the building, Jeremy and Elena exchanging wheezing whispers, as Alaric quickly flocked to Kurt. Liz's loud cackling serenaded them as they departed.