A/N: Inspired by the buildup we have so far to 4x14. AU. Stefan, Rebekah, Elena and Damon have all taken the cure. Set five years later, during Rebekah and Stefan's senior year of college.

Taking Chances

By Ninazadzia

"But what do you say to taking chances,
What do you say to jumping off the edge?
Never knowing if there's solid ground below
Or hand to hold, or hell to pay,
What do you say,
What do you say?"

~Taking Chances by Celine Dion

XXX

It wasn't hard to pick out which one she was. Tall, blonde, and spiraling through the air. She was smiling to the masses of people in front of her, raising her pom-poms and screaming "Go Tar Heels!" Even being a hundred some yards away from her, Stefan thought he could pick out her accent. Not that that was possible, of course. Stefan didn't have that kind of vision anymore.

Stefan was human.

And Rebekah was too, meaning that she didn't pick him out of the crowd—at least not right away. But after the game ended, he kept her eyes trained on her, and eventually she caught a glimpse. He thought she saw her stumble a little. She turned to the other cheerleaders, excusing herself. She seemed to bounce all of the way to the bleachers.

"What are you doing here?" she asked.

"I was in the area, figured I'd say hi."

She crossed her arms; it was covered in goose-bumps in the cold November air. "Going to a two hour football game isn't saying hi, Stefan, that's paying a visit."

"Alright, fine. I'm here to see you."

"And why's that?"

How tense their interactions would've been if they were frozen in time, bound by the curse of being a vampire. Conversations this playful were only reserved for one species—humans.

And, god, Rebekah was human.

"Because I wanted to see you," he said.

She nodded her head in the direction of the dorms. "C'mon," she said. She took his hand. "Let's have some fun."

XXX

Alcohol kept the memories at bay. There were times when snippets of his former life—his vampire life—resurfaced in his drunken haze, but those were few and far in between. He learned his Freshman year at Duke that every drop of vodka made some of it go away. The memories, the pain, the blood—

Specifically, the memories of Damon and Elena.

He shouldn't have been surprised at all, really. The four of them took the cure. Tyler and Caroline turned it down, running off into the sunset together. "We're happy the way we are," was the thought they left them with. Damon held off for a bit, sure, but Elena wanted him to take it so bad. "Let's grow old together. Let's have children together. Let's have the life we always wanted."

Everyone knew Damon's secret. The one thing he missed more than anything in the world was being human.

"When's the last time you talked to your brother?"

Rebekah turned to him mildly, stumbling around. "Two years ago," she said. Her words slurred a bit; she shouted over the blaring music in the Kappa sorority house. "I don't exactly associate myself with serial killers anymore. Why? When's the last time you talked to yours?"

"The summer," Stefan replied. He took a long drink from his beer bottle.

She nodded. "How is he?"

Happy. He's happy, damnit. And he won't even gloat about.

He'd been living with Elena for close to three years. "Let's not hate each other for the rest of our lives," they agreed. One of them got the girl, and the other didn't. It was Elena's choice. No point in being bitter about it.

Stefan wasn't bitter. But he found it easiest not to hate Damon when he didn't talk to him.

"He's Damon," he said simply. Rebekah nodded, not pressing any further.

"Well, I'm thoroughly enjoying Nick's silent treatment."

He laughed. It was so honest.

"So he's ignoring you?"

"Oh absolutely. I tried fixing things with him, but he couldn't have a human sister, now could he?"

"Well, that's his loss," Stefan said. "You're as good as a human gets."

"Don't flatter me, Stefan."

"I'm not flattering you. I mean it."

She turned to him, glancing him over. She decided he was telling the truth. "What makes you say that?" she asked.

"Do you see where we're standing right now?" He popped open another can of beer. "You have it all, Rebekah. I bet your brother is jealous."

She inched closer to him. 'Smiling' didn't quite cover it.

"I'm glad you're here, old friend."

"Likewise."

XXX

He meant every word of it, of course.

The only way he could describe it was that humanity became her. As a vampire, Rebekah Mikaelson was unforgivable at worst, pitiable at best. It was a comedy of errors—her misery, how long she'd lived, and how fragmented her family was—that helped Stefan understand why she'd become the person she was.

Being human was her second chance. She was living it to the fullest.

So she went to college. She became a Varsity cheerleader and joined a Sorority. She was studying for a double major and only drank on weekends, but when she drank she drank hard and it was always with a group of friends. And (this especially wasn't a surprise to Stefan) she had a long list of suitors. Every eligible bachelor on campus wanted a piece of Rebekah, and not just for her looks.

Charming. Kind. Beautiful. Headstrong, the same as before, but with an air of confidence.

No, vampirism hadn't suited her at all.

XXX

"Hey, don't be ridiculous, Stefan—"

"I can't stay over. Your roommate will hate me."

"Of course she won't! You're an old friend, I'm sure she won't mind." She tugged him along. "I'm not letting you drunk drive back to Duke, you'll hit a tree or something," she said with a laugh.

Friend. What a weird way to describe the two of them. He wasn't sure what else to call it, given the fact that she was one of the few people from his past that he talked to on a regular basis. Of all people from my past, he often thought, why keep in touch with Rebekah?

He kept trying to tell himself that there wasn't anyone else to keep in touch with. He knew that was as much the truth as it was a lie.

Her roommate—a wisp of a girl—didn't mind at all. In fact, she was just heading out, going to crash at her boyfriend's room. "I hung your dress in the closet, Becca, thanks for letting me borrow it."

She closed the door behind her. Stefan raised a brow. "Lending dresses now, are we?"

"Of course." She changed out of her sparkly clothing, and her lack of modesty seemed almost casual. "She's my friend."

"You're a good friend."

She turned to him. "You sound so surprised," she said. She threw herself onto the bed, curling up into a ball. Stefan eyed the beanbag in the corner (oh, well, he'd just have to settle for a creaky back in the morning), and as he went over to make himself comfortable, Rebekah's voice cut through the air. "What d'you think you're doing?"

"Going to sleep." He laid onto the cushion. He tried stretching himself out; it didn't work.

"Don't be ridiculous. It's freezing, you're not sleeping on the floor." She patted the spot next to her. "C'mon, get over here."

He laughed. "Rebekah, I couldn't—"

"Of course you could. It doesn't have to mean anything, Stefan. Just climb in."

He fleetingly thought of the period of time before they found the cure, when they were vampires. When they made a promise to each other. "No feelings, no attachments." Sex only.

He climbed into bed, under the covers. He felt himself lulled to sleep by the rhythm of her breathing. The only part of her touching him was the bottom of her foot.

He decided he liked it.

XXX

He wasn't surprised when he woke up in a cold sweat.

It was always the same dream—Damon and Elena. Kissing. Kissing in some candlelit apartment in Rome, Paris, wherever the hell they were. They travelled so often Stefan couldn't even keep track of it. And then the kissing would escalate, and it would become more, something that he used to do with Elena back when he was a vampire.

And then that's what his dream would become. He was a vampire again. His freedom was gone, and he was left with the miseries of both species.

Being a vampire meant being miserable. Being human meant no Elena.

He bolted upright, panting and scanning the room. Rebekah was fast asleep next to him. His eyes landed on a half empty bottle of gin in the corner, probably Rebekah's. He scrambling out of bed, clawing for the bottle and drinking from it.

Being human meant there wasn't an off-switch for his emotions. All he could do was drink his sorrows away.

XXX

"You going to pass me some of that?"

She sounded groggy, and still slightly buzzed from earlier. "I'm sorry. I raided your liquor stash, I'm a bad guest."

She rubbed her head, her eyes squinting in the dark. "You could be a good guest by giving me a drink."

She climbed out of bed, joining him on the floor. He passed her the bottle.

They drank in silence for a minute; visions of his dream kept flashing before him.

"Can't sleep?" she asked.

He nodded. "Bad dream."

"Hmm." She took a long sip. "Who'd you kill?"

"What?"

"Well, isn't that what your nightmares are about?" More swigs. "That's what mine are."

He nodded, working that through his head. "No, not really. I killed most of my victims in a haze—I can barely remember some of them."

"Huh. I'm the opposite."

"Well, you were never a ripper." He looked at the clock; 4 in the morning. It was frigid for a November night.

More drinking. It wasn't long before the two of them had polished off the bottle.

"You know," he said, quietly, "You're the only person I can talk to about this."

"That's not true. You have Damon."

He didn't respond.

"I'm sorry. God, I'm stupid—it slipped my mind."

"I can't talk to him, Rebekah. Even when I try—"

"I get it."

"—there's something that stops me from being able to let it go." He didn't stop to think about what he was saying as the words started rolling off his tongue. "I'm not in love with Elena anymore. But I'm not over it either. How does that make any sense?"

She shrugged. "Maybe you're trying too hard not to think about it."

He sighed. "You're probably right."

There was a quiet lull in their conversation. He wasn't sure whether or not Rebekah had fallen asleep. He wished she wasn't, he still wanted to talk to her.

Why? A voice in the back of his head demanded. Why do you give a damn about Rebekah?

It was a fair question. In spite of their history and in spite of them going separate ways after high school, she was the one person from his past he always seemed to go back to.

Maybe because he wished he could be human like she was.

"I know why I came out here this weekend," he said.

"Good, I was hoping you'd tell me."

"You're the one person I have left that understands me."

She laughed. "You have plenty of friends at Duke, Stefan—"

"But you know where I've come from, you've been there yourself." She stopped talking; he kept his gaze fixed on her. "We have the same roots. So how are you so much better at being human than I am?"

"Maybe it's because you were a much better vampire than I was," she whispered.

He shook his head. "There's no such thing as a good vampire.

In the quiet that followed, he didn't take his eyes off the girl that was across from him. She was a thousand years old. They'd met and been together in a decade that was a bloody, lust-filled haze for him.

They understood each other better than they should.

"Thanks for letting me spend the night, Rebekah."

"You're welcome." Her voice had gone hoarse.

He inched closer to her, and heard her breath hitch. He couldn't tell whether or not she'd been anticipating this.

"I want to kiss you," he whispered.

"Is it because you're drunk?"

"Maybe," he replied. "But I don't think so."

He leaned in. "Good," she breathed against his lips.

No feelings, no attachments. That'd been their agreement all of five years ago, when they were fucking each other out of hate and frustration. Because as vampires, that seemed to be something they were beyond capable of. Hate. It was the basis of their relationship and everything they did to each other.

And here he was, kissing a girl that couldn't be more human. She was damaged and impure and had experienced every pain possible in the last millennium, and she was still all of those things. Humanity wouldn't change what time had done to her.

As she kissed him back with a tenderness he'd never felt when they were vampires, he knew.

She loved her second chance more than anything in the world. He wanted to take that chance with her.

XXX

A/N: Blizzard Nemo = Vampire Diaries marathon! I've been loving the Stefan/Rebekah vibe so far on season four, so I got inspired and wrote this down all in one sitting. I hope you guys enjoyed, it was so fun to do something different, I honestly think there isn't enough Stebekah in the TVD fandom so I'm glad I could contribute to it :D

Leave a review and you'll make my day xx

Nina