The tomb was damp. The scent reached him as he descended the steps. Darkness embraced him as he stepped through the doorway, his instincts adjusting to the dim light from the inner chamber.
Katerina heard him approach. She didn't expect him; Stefan, perhaps… or Damon, appearing to taunt her, but not Elijah. She scrambled to her feet. Fear filled her eyes, and uncertainty. There was nowhere to run. She couldn't leave until he told her otherwise. "Elijah," she whispered.
"Katerina," he answered. "I see our game has ended at last."
Memories changed her expression, visions of long ago and games on garden paths. Katerina had never been able to read Elijah. He told her nothing in his eyes, and even less through his voice. He merely stared at her, in a manner she did not like.
Quiet footsteps drew him nearer. "Why did you run, Katerina? Why did you not trust me?"
Her mouth fell open. "Trust you? I did trust you, Elijah! I trusted that you were sincere all those months when you were so attentive to me! I trusted your intentions that night when you took me to your bed. But you betrayed me! Klaus was going to kill me, and you let him."
Elijah approached, holding one finger aloft. "As I remember, I did not do the taking. You entered my room and were very insistent." His hand went back to his pocket, and the faintest of smiles touched his lips.
She also remembered… flickering firelight, his resolve melting away in her arms.
"I found your boldness curious at the time, but now that I have met the Salvatores, your usual methods are made clear. Tell me, Katerina, did you reciprocate my feelings at all, or was I just another notch on your proverbial bedpost?"
The shadow he cast over her made her eyes gleam faintly in the gloom. Katerina leaned against the tomb behind her. "Is that what you came here to ask me, after five hundred years?"
Elijah smiled. "No."
He moved fast. Her neck snapped under his grip. One twist and she dropped like a lead weight.
Stepping over her, he opened the book Elena had given her of her ancestors. He turned the pages idly, pausing at the hand-drawn portrait of her family. Klaus had massacred them all when he could not find her.
Behind him, she stirred. Rough dirt scratched her hands as she sat up. Dark eyes burned fiercely at Elijah under the mass of brown curls. Without looking at her, he said, "I was quite fond of you then. You were charming… delightful… and, I thought, innocent. How wrong my assumptions were of you. I had every intention of saving you… without turning you into a vampire."
She climbed to her feet. "And you still hate me; otherwise, you wouldn't give me to Klaus."
"I made him a promise long ago that I would return you to him. I am a man of my word. What he does with you is no concern of mine, but know that it gives me no pleasure, Katerina. Still, countless have died in your stead over the centuries. It is time you atone for your own sins." His hand rested on one important page in the book.
Katerina drew it away from him. "Klaus did this."
"No, you did, when you ran away from him. And poor foolish Trevor lost his life not long ago, for helping you, for his betrayal. Strangely, Katerina, death seems to follow you wherever you go, because you have no interest in preserving any life other than your own."
Reddish lips narrowed into a pout. "I suppose that offends you, kind, moral Elijah."
"Yes," he said simply. "Have you ever loved anyone other than yourself?"
Fingers tightened around her throat, drawing her to him. She was forced to look into his eyes. "Answer me," he commanded. "Tell me, Katerina, whom have you loved?
"Stefan Salvatore," she answered, under compulsion.
"Yes," she whispered.
Whispers filled the tomb, as the wind passed through the arch. Elijah did not break eye contact.
Katherine whispered, "… you."
Elijah released her. Blinking, she fell back from him, onto the crypt.
"It wasn't all a lie," she said, her voice strained from pressure. "I went to you that night to learn the truth, but also because I wanted you."
Her hand touched his arm, fingers loose against his sleeve. Elijah moved so fast, she didn't have time to react. She slammed into the cavern wall and slumped to the floor. The shatter of rock fragments hit the lantern. It tipped over and rolled away, bouncing shadows off the walls. Her hand went to her waist and came away wet with blood. Cringing, she drew the splintered piece of rock out of her side. She hadn't eaten in days. Her coloring was off, her skin tone gray.
Elijah considered for a moment and then knelt beside her. He bit into his wrist and pressed it to her mouth. Rich, original blood flowed through her teeth. She widened them and bit into him. Her tongue caressed his skin, a sensation that made them both vibrate with excitement. His arm went around her, his free hand caressing her hair. Tilting his head back, he stared at the ceiling. Pain coursed through him, and he shut his eyes.
Finally, he removed his arm. The wound healed. Rising, he said, "Klaus should come for you within the week."
Leaving her there, his footsteps died away into the darkness.
Klaus would hurt her, but he wouldn't kill her. If Elijah had his way, Klaus would be dead at the full moon. Then, she would be free to go.
And then, he thought with a faint smile, a different sort of game would begin again.