A/N: I'm backkkk! I've had the idea for this fic ever since this past summer, and I finally got the chance to sit down and start writing it today. It's a lot different from any of my other fics, but I'm really excited for how the storyline is going to play out. Enjoy!
To any bystander passing by, the two brunettes standing opposite each other in the airport looked like complete strangers. Upon a closer look, one might be able to discern from their body language and stiff postures that perhaps the two women did not like each other very much.
Katherine Pierce irritably ran her fingers through her straight hair, missing the way her tight locks would layer around her shoulders. She shot a disdainful glance at Elena Gilbert, who was awkwardly fiddling with the designer sunglasses that framed her face. "Could you make it a little less obvious, maybe?"
Elena's hands immediately dropped guiltily to her sides. "Sorry. It's just that, I'm not used to…" She gestured unnecessarily to the Louis Vuitton luggage set next to her, "To stuff like this."
"Well get used to it," Katherine snapped, "Because if there's any chance of you pulling off being ME, then you'll have to start acting like you've been surrounded by fancy things your whole life. Got it?"
Elena pursed her lips, seeming to restrain from rolling her eyes with great difficulty. "Maybe you should be a little less worried about me and more concerned with how you're going to pull off slumming it in the sticks."
Katherine huffed, placing one hand on her hip. "No need to take that snippy tone with me, Elena. I wasn't trying to insult you." She hesitated and then wrinkled her nose, "Is Mystic Falls really that bad?"
"No," Elena sighed resignedly, abandoning the defensive tone in her voice—for now. "But you grew up on the Upper East Side, and you've never attended public school, and…" She chewed on her lip, "Mystic Falls is going to be like stepping into a whole other world, that's all."
"Through the looking glass," Katherine quoted distractedly, kneeling down to rummage through her (non-brand name) luggage for something.
"You've read that book?" Elena asked, surprised. "I didn't think you—"
"Read?" Katherine straightened, holding a thick white binder in her hands. "So am I the one who should be offended now?"
Elena had the grace to flush, "Sorry, you just didn't seem like...never mind."
"Two months is hardly enough time to get to know someone, Elena," Katherine held the binder out to her companion, "Though this should help in that department."
Elena took the binder with a frown, and began flipping through it. Each page had a person's face on it, along with basic factual information (age, relationship to Katherine, job description, birthday, etc). "Um, what is this?"
"That is some reading for the plane," Katherine announced, looking quite proud of herself. "It's also how you're going to survive pretending to be me."
"But…" Elena paused on the page of a young woman named Anna, and quickly skimmed it. "Wait, you have your own maid?"
"Relax," Katherine placed a hand on Elena's arm, her voice taking on a persuasive edge. "Most of the people in that binder just work for my mom—my hairdresser, my trainer, my makeup artist—they're not people who'll be able to tell the difference between you and I. Don't worry."
Elena closed the binder and irately stuffed it into her purse, "Maybe not, but I'm pretty sure your maid will be able to tell the difference!" She swatted her new oversized curls out of her face, annoyed. "The only reason we said this was going to work is because your mom and my dad are both workaholics who never spend any time with us, and so they would never be able to tell—"
"They won't," Katherine interrupted, looking off to the side as a boarding announcement came over the speaker. "That's my flight," she turned back to Elena, her eyes becoming alight with excitement. "It's really happening," she grinned, reaching over and giving her newfound identical twin a hug. "We're really going to do this."
Try as she might, Elena could only muster up a halfhearted smile. "Be careful," she called after Katherine, "Call me if you—"
"Yeah, yeah," Katherine waved over her shoulder, "I'll text you when I land! Don't forget what we talked about!"
Nudging her sunglasses over her nose again, Elena shifted the Coach purse over her arm and took a deep breath as she gathered up her luggage and began walking off in the opposite direction towards her own flight.
Four hours later, Katherine landed in Richmond, Virginia. Hiding her nervousness, she exited the plane and made her way down to baggage claim. She sent a quick text to Elena to let her know that she had landed, and then scrolled through her newly programmed contacts up to the name that sent a fresh wave of nausea through her system. "Come on Kat, suck it up," she ordered herself under her breath. Glancing over her shoulder to make sure no one was listening, she hurriedly pressed the TALK button before she lost her nerve.
A couple rings later, a tired sounding male voice answered, "Hello?"
Katherine's breath caught in her throat, and she coughed to clear it. "D-dad, hi." A pause. "It's me," she added unnecessarily. "I just landed."
"Elena," John Gilbert's voice became lighter, though he still sounded strained. "Did you have a good flight?"
"Yes, no problem," Katherine replied, suddenly feeling lightheaded with anticipation. "Are you...picking me up from the airport?"
"It's been really busy down at the station today," John sounded evasive, "I sent your friend's mom down to pick you up. Just give her a call to let her know you're there, alright?"
Katherine's throat felt dry. Damn, she had been counting on John getting her from the airport. "Sure," she swallowed, "Which friend?" John's voice became muffled as he spoke to someone on the other end of the phone, and Katherine figured he had covered the mouthpiece with his hand. "Hello? Dad?"
"Um, okay...bye," Katherine muttered, her heart sinking. At that moment she became aware that the area around her had largely cleared out, and only a few pieces of luggage were now making the rounds on the conveyer belt. She caught sight of her modest black suitcase immediately (there was a bright green ribbon tied around the handle—Elena's idea of identification) and she quickly hurried forward to pull it off. It was so heavy, however, that she ended up staggering forward with it until a pair of hands grabbed the other end of the suitcase and helped her lift it to the ground.
"Thanks," Katherine gasped out breathlessly, sweeping her hair out her face to see a kind-faced woman beaming at her. It took Katherine a second, but she was able to recognize her from one of the pictures that Elena had shown her over the summer. "Mrs. Forbes!" Katherine smiled brightly, accepting the woman's warm hug. "How are you?"
Up close, Katherine could see the black circles lining the older woman's face, but Liz Forbes made no indication that she was exhausted. "Happy to see you, for one," she laughed, sounding sincere. "Caroline has been complaining all summer without you and Bonnie to keep her company."
Caroline Forbes. Best Friend. Cheerleader. Boy-crazy.
"I've missed Caroline, too," Katherine responded correctly, rolling her luggage down the large expanse and out of the airport. "I thought she went to cheerleading camp?"
"She did," Mrs. Forbes answered, ushering her into the parking garage. "But that was only for a couple weeks. She's been working down at The Grill since she got back last month. Do you think you're going to be getting a job once school starts?"
Katherine frowned. Work? She'd never had to work a day in her life, and she certainly wasn't going to start now. "No," she replied, realizing that the other woman was waiting for her response. "I mean, it's senior year so it's going to be pretty busy. I'm taking four AP classes this semester."
"Yes, your father told me," she leaned towards Katherine conspiratorially and winked, "He might not always show it, but he's really proud of you, Elena. He's been talking about you non-stop all summer. I think he really missed having you around the house. It's the first time you've been gone for such a long period of time, right?"
"Yeah..." Katherine trailed off, confused. The way Elena had spoken about John, it had seemed like he was never at home anyway. Why would he possibly miss her being around? "Well, it was only a couple of months," she added, "Taking those summer classes at Harvard was a really good experience."
"Did you meet any new friends?" Mrs. Forbes asked, glancing at Katherine as they pulled out of the garage and onto the busy freeway leading out of the airport, "Any cute guys?"
Katherine smiled in spite of herself, "Yeah, I met a couple of unexpected people. It was a lot of fun. I'm glad I went."
"If there's anyone that deserves to have a little fun, it's definitely you." Mrs. Forbes nodded towards the radio, "Go on, plug your iPod in. I know what those long plane rides are like. You must be dying to catch some shut-eye."
"I'm pretty tired," Katherine admitted, stifling a yawn. "And I can't wait to shower." She turned her head to study the passing scenery thoughtfully, "I can't believe school starts tomorrow."
"You must be excited to see your friends again."
Katherine took a deep breath, steadying her nerves. "Yes," she said confidently, "I can't wait to see them."
If Katherine had been nervous, it was nothing compared to how Elena felt when she landed at JFK. This is never going to work, she silently berated herself. Why had she let Katherine talk her into going through with this boneheaded scheme? There was no way she was going to be able to cut it in Manhattan, of all places! Everyone would know she was a fraud the second they set eyes on her.
She dragged her feet into baggage claim, and was surprised to see her luggage already neatly assembled side by side next to...Elena quickly wracked her brain for the faces from the binder that she had spent her plane ride memorizing. "Oh Trevor," she said formally, "Good to see you."
"Ms. Pierce," he bowed his head slightly, "Did you have a good flight?"
"Yes, thank you." Elena followed him out to the limo, feeling supremely uncomfortable as he held the door open for her. She slid into the spacious compartment, her hands touching the leather almost reverently. It was empty inside, but Katherine had already warned her that Isobel rarely left her office save for emergencies. "How is mother?" Elena asked once Trevor had taken his seat behind the wheel, "Her last e-mail said she was working on a big case."
"She is," Trevor confirmed as the limo pulled smoothly onto the road. "It has been getting a lot of publicity in the papers." Their eyes met in the rearview mirror, and he gave her a friendly smile, "Did you have a good time in Boston?"
"Yes," Elena turned her head to look out the window, the lights making her head spin. "But I missed home."
Trevor muttered something in response, but Elena didn't catch what he said. Instead, she let the lull of the engine draw her into a much-needed sleep. Far too soon, she felt the limo coming to a stop and she confusedly opened her eyes to see that they were parked outside what could only be described as a mansion.
With Katherine's instructions ringing in her ears, Elena left the luggage to be brought up by the staff. She carefully made her way up the stairs and entered the expansive hall, her boots digging into the luscious carpeting. "Katherine, darling," an unfamiliar voice greeted her, and Elena looked up to see her mother walking towards her.
"Mom," Elena whispered in awe, but luckily Isobel was too busy studying her with a scrutinous eye to notice.
"You've gotten thinner," Isobel frowned, touching Elena's shoulders gently. "Were they not feeding you over there?"
"The food was fine...mother," Elena had to dig her fingernails into the palms of her hands to will herself not to lose her nerve, "I've missed you."
"Yes, the house was simply not the same without you." Isobel placed a hand on Elena's back and led her towards another spiraling staircase. "Why don't you go upstairs and get ready for dinner? I've told the cook to make all your favorite things to celebrate your coming home."
"Okay," Elena agreed with a smile, and slowly made her way up the stairs. The map that Katherine had drawn her was etched into her mind's eye, and Elena's footsteps carried her into Katherine's room as if she'd been there a million times before. "Wow," she murmured, taking in the luxurious purples and pinks that draped the room. It looked like royalty. It looked like Katherine.
"You're back!" someone squealed, and Elena turned around to see Anna standing at the doorway, carrying a school uniform. She carefully placed it on the bed before holding her arms out to Elena, "I've missed you, Kat."
Well, clearly Katherine and Anna were closer than her dear sister had let on.
"Anna," Elena returned the hug, "It's good to see you, too. How have you been?"
"Better now that you're here," Anna held both of Elena's hands, "Isobel has been an absolute nightmare since you've been gone."
"Really?" Elena's brow furrowed, "Why? I was only gone for a couple of months."
Anna rolled her eyes, "I know she plays the cool and collected lawyer well, but she obviously missed you this past summer. But I think most of her bad mood was due to..." she trailed off, "Well, I'm sure she'll tell you over dinner."
Elena's nervousness, which had slowly ebbed away, now returned in full force. "Is something wrong?"
"I'm sure you want a hot shower after that long plane ride," Anna neatly sidestepped the question, "Shall I tell them you'll be ready for dinner in a half hour? And I'll tell the staff to bring your luggage up as well." She paused at the door and smiled again, "It really is good to have you back, Kat."
Exactly 30 minutes later, Elena descended the stairs and made her way to the dining room where Isobel was already seated. She smiled briefly at the person who pulled her chair out for her, and sat down across from her mother. With a shaking hand, she reached out for her glass of water and hurriedly took a sip to soothe her dry mouth. "The food looks delicious."
"I'll send the cook your compliments," Isobel smiled back at her, but the smile didn't quite reach her eyes. "Katherine, before we begin eating, there's something I need to discuss with you."
Oh god, she knows.
"Yes?" Elena squeaked, "Is something wrong?"
Isobel sighed, "I didn't tell you about this in our e-mails because I didn't want to concern you, but since school starts tomorrow, I don't think I can push this off any longer."
Curiosity getting the better of her, Elena slowly put down her glass. "Mother, what is it?"
"I'm sure you've been wondering what the big case my law firm has been working on lately is, and you'll find out soon enough because the local papers have been splashing it across their front pages for the past couple of weeks." Isobel bit her lip, "Do you remember when I told you the story of how your father and I split up?"
Elena's mouth nearly dropped open, and all she could manage to stammer out was, "Um, m-my father?"
"I know we haven't talked about him in years," Isobel went on hastily, "And I hate to bring him up, but..." She heaved another sigh, "The case that your father and I were both working on 18 years ago—about Giuseppe Salvatore embezzling money from his own company?"
The name rang a bell in Elena's memory. She vaguely remembered her father speaking about the case to her one time, though he had spoken of Giuseppe in less than favorable terms. "Yes," she nodded, "I remember. What about him?"
"Well, he's back to his old tricks again," Isobel answered slowly, "He's back in the city, Katherine. Needless to say, there is a lot of bad blood between the two of us. I want you to be careful, especially at school."
Elena only grew even more confused. "At school? What do you mean?"
Isobel spoke with the air of someone about to deliver some potentially destructive news. "When I say he moved back to Manhattan, I meant to say his family is back in the city." She looked deathly serious, "His son has enrolled at your school for senior year. You remember him, don't you? Damon Salvatore?"
*each chapter will follow a similar format: half in Katherine's POV and half in Elena's POV. A lot of familiar characters will be popping up in this fic ;) hope you liked the first chapter! xoxo