(A/N: Written for Fandom Aid on LJ, for waltzmatildah. The request was "Katherine is above all this" fic, with bonus Elijah. There are references to the Season 4 cure storyline, but other than that, no real spoilers.)

A Proposal

Vampires love universities. They're full of drunken students looking for a good time who won't care that they don't remember anything in the morning. Nobody bats an eye at a nocturnal lifestyle. And best of all, it's perfectly normal to move on after three or four years, before anyone notices that she hasn't aged. She can graduate and never see these people again.

A few vampires treat the experience in earnest. She knew a guy called Trevor who collected degrees like a hobby. Most take the opportunity to have fun.

Katherine is definitely the second type.

She tells her friends that she's a languages student. Italian and Russian, to be precise, because she's fluent in the former and a little rusty in the latter, and she figures there's no harm in brushing up her skills.

When she's not reading Russian literature, she's hooking up with the local vampire population (they have their own society), fulfilling her own personal mission to dine at every college hall, and partying. She kills one vampire who recognises her and another who annoys her, but generally speaking they're a fun bunch. She brings back the hunting game that was once a popular tradition in the city – not one that the tour guides normally talk about, since it involves a pack of ravenous vampires gleefully chasing down a group of terrified students through the quad.

At the end of the night, she thanks the porters for their diligent work in blocking off every exit, wipes the blood off her mouth, and returns to her room in high spirits.

Life is good.

Life is good, until the day that Katherine walks into a study to meet her thesis supervisor, and discovers that the pleasant and knowledgeable Dr. E. Zhirinovsky she's been exchanging emails with is in fact Elijah.

Dear fucking Lord.

Elijah is a professor.

Of course he is.

He's sitting in an oversized dark green leather armchair behind an intricately carved mahogany desk, surrounded by the smell of books and polished wood, and old-world elegance.

She does a heel turn so fast she thinks her boots may leave a trail of smoke behind her, but it's too late. He sees her. There's a moment when their eyes meet and his gaze pierces right through her – she feels it, like an electric shock, and she runs, runs, runs, but it makes no difference.

A hand grips her arm like a vice. She turns back and there he is, right there, the dark flash of triumph in his eyes.

Her breath catches. Elijah. She has nightmares about him, sometimes. Not so much now, and less often than her dreams featuring Klaus, but she never forgot his face. His eyes. She fears the power of his gaze, even when her blood is laced with vervain. He only has to look at her, and she's caught.

Never get caught. Never be seen. Rules that Katherine Pierce lives by. She curses herself for being so careless.

"Katerina," he says. "My office is this way."

His voice is low and pleasant, polite. It chills her to the bone.

He escorts her back to his study, walking just at her shoulder. She can practically feel his breath on her neck, and she has to hold herself still, attempt to calm her racing heart. It's deliberate; she knows that, everything Elijah does is deliberate. He has the art of terror down to the bare minimum in efficiency, and Katherine is terrified.

They enter the study. The door clicks softly shut behind her.

Katherine lets out a shaky breath. Elijah moves over to lean against his desk, watching her as she surveys the room. There are no other exits. The window is latched shut. She's still trapped but now that he's further away from her, she has space to think. She needs to come up with a plan, and fast.

First tactic: stall.

"Did you lure me in here?" she asks. "Was that the plan?"

Elijah's eyebrows lift. "As I recall, you came here willingly." He turns to pick up a paper from his desk, scanning it. "You wished to discuss the subject of your thesis proposal. The Brothers Karamazov."

He can't be serious. She recalls what she learned about him from his assumed identity. He's a visiting lecturer from the University of Amsterdam. He has a string of impressive-sounding qualifications and published research to his name. And he's teaching 19th century Russian literature.

He probably is teaching 19th century Russian literature, she thinks. None of the other vampires mentioned him. Maybe he compelled them, or maybe his cover is just that good.

Katherine purses her lips. "Isn't that all academic?"

"That would be the point."

He's playing with her. She can see the amused glint in his eyes. Of course it's all academic – everything between them is; it's been five hundred years, after all, and in those centuries everything has changed for both of them except that he still hunts her and she is still hunted. Some habits persist.

She's the girl who likes to be chased, but not like this. This is no fun.

Elijah seems to wait a moment for her to appreciate his joke. When she fails to do so, he discards the paper and becomes all business. "Actually, I have a proposal for you. Are you aware of my brother's recent activities?"

"Klaus?" She shakes her head. "I know he's not looking for me."

Which begs the question of why Elijah is here.

"I'm afraid that's no longer true," Elijah tells her.

Her heart jumps. "What?"

Klaus is looking for her? She had been relying on him doing exactly the opposite of that. Elena was supposed to provide enough of a distraction to give her at least a few years free of him. A knot of anxiety tightens in her stomach.

Elijah explains. "Klaus is looking for a cure. A cure for vampirism."

She stares. She's never heard of such a thing. No witch she has ever talked to – and Katherine has known quite a few witches in her time – ever mentioned it. No vampire either.

"A cure," she repeats, as if to make sure that she heard the word correctly.

"He wants the cure for Elena," Elijah goes on. "Her blood is the key to turning more hybrids – but only if she is human. However, Elena is not the only doppelganger around."

Oh.

Oh.

"Klaus sent you," she whispers. Her body feels cold. He wants to turn her human too, so that he has two blood sources to use in order to create his pathetic hybrids instead of one. She can hardly think of a worse fate.

Elijah steps forward, and again her first instinct is to bolt, but there's something else going on here, something contemplative in his expression that she can't quite read.

"I have no desire to stand idly by while Klaus rebuilds his hybrid army," he says in a low voice. "Since he is invulnerable, I am left with two options. Destroy the doppelgangers. Or..."

"Destroy the cure," she breathes. That's why he's here. If he was going to kill her, he would have done it already. And it's not because of her that he won't, she can figure that part out. No, it's – her lip curls – precious Elena. She'd wonder how Elena does it when the girl is such a drip, but she is a Petrova. They do whatever it takes to survive, and if that means lying with the devil, Katherine will do it too. "So you want my help."

"If the cure exists, I want to find it before Klaus does. I believe that may also be in your interest."

He says it carefully, she notes. It's the first thing he's said that's less an order and more of a suggestion; he's gauging her reaction. Katherine smiles.

Here it is, finally: an opportunity. Oh, there's mistrust in his eyes, certainly, but for once he's not looking at her as if he's contemplating the most satisfying way to kill her.

It looks like she finally has an Original on her side.