The summer is over, and so is this story, for now. This chapter did not benefit from a beta look (nor did the last, hence errant wonkiness and dull parts), but I would be remiss if I didn't thank latbfan and CreepingMuse for their continued wisdom and solidarity, long past when any reasonable person would expect it from even such stalwart friends as these.
And to my readers both silent and review-y, thank you.
Rebekah's hand flies to her mouth. "You were there. All the time."
"Not all the time," Elijah corrects her with an indulgent grin.
"During those dark years with Klaus? I remember, maybe twice… your face emerging from shadow."
"Hey, thanks for saving my life," Matt says, rubbing his neck.
Elijah kneels almost to the ground, gracefully, and retrieves the Gilbert ring. He holds it out to Matt. "You," he says with the hint of a grin, "are welcome."
"I can't believe this," Rebekah says, eyes still wide.
"Veronique was fast and smart," Elijah continues. "I had hoped to prevent an incident like this one. I've been tracking her since… well." They all know now when it started. And why.
"Max knew it was you, didn't he?"
Elijah leans back in playful reminiscence. "How is Max?"
Rebekah stomps, indignant. "Elijah! Honestly, all this time!"
"Honestly, little sister," he confirms, gently serious.
"But why?" Matt asks before he can stop himself. It's not exactly his business, but after everything he's been through, it's not exactly not, either. "I mean, how did you know what Veronique was capable of?"
"I didn't. She wasn't the only one," Elijah tells him, squinting subtly against the coming realization.
Rebekah steps back at the weight of the truth. "You tracked everyone," she gasps.
Inside Veronique's small kitchen, Matt pounds a few glasses of water while he listens to Elijah and Rebekah talk in the living room.
"He knows your history and he's still with you," Elijah says. "He's a very special man."
"He really is," Rebekah agrees. Matt grins as he drains another glass.
"And he loves you."
Matt grips the edge of the counter beside him, steadying himself. Elijah says it with such conviction. But it's easy to have conviction when it's not your own heart on the line. Or is Matt's hesitation just habit at this point?
Fuck it. Elijah's right.
"You think so?" she asks, the beginning of a smile in her voice.
After a moment, Elijah speaks again. "Your family needs you."
"You don't need anyone," Rebekah answers, breezily at first, "and Klaus… it's best if I'm not around him at all for now."
"He's going to be a father."
Matt loses his grip on the counter – he realizes he's been clutching it hard – and almost falls.
"I assume you're being poetic," Rebekah volleys back.
"There is going to be, in fewer than nine months, the birth of a child fathered by our brother. You are going to be an aunt."
"How? Magic? What did he do?" There is something so bare and hopeful in her stammering, it hurts Matt to hear her.
Elijah takes a sharp breath. "Something to do with being a werewolf, and with another wolf…"
"Ah," she sighs. Then, pertly trying to change the subject, she asks, "who's the unlucky girl?"
"Her name is Hayley."
Matt rubs his temple. Tyler's friend? Things just get weirder and more horrible every second, don't they?
Rebekah begins to laugh, the tone bitter. "Of all the people in the world to be given a miracle. Klaus? Seriously, Klaus gets this?!"
Matt wants to interrupt, talk her down maybe, or just hold her hand. But Elijah is with her. Elijah, probably the closest thing the world has to an actual savior. So Matt stays frozen in the kitchen, braced against Veronique's woodblock counter, freaking out noiselessly, alone.
Not freaking out, exactly. Processing the shitty news.
"You've wanted a child, I know," Elijah intones.
"Don't," Rebekah insists, interrupting. "I just… please don't."
"The child is a gift, Rebekah. For all of us."
Elijah continues. "This child presents the possibility of redemption. Klaus wants to protect his burgeoning family. He's with Hayley now, in New Orleans, making arrangements. He wants to make New Orleans our home, like it once was."
Like it once was? Matt has tons of questions, but he dreads the answers. No part of this sounds good.
Rebekah snorts. "He can change diapers without me."
Elijah's voice is soothing and deep. "This is a chance for us to be a family again. We need you."
"We?" she asks, measured.
"I have been in New Orleans. With Klaus." He clicks his tongue, a sure response to some look from Rebekah. "It's complicated there: witches, werewolves… An old protégé of Klaus's, Marcel, is running the city. Into the ground, it seems. I felt a cooler head managing events would be useful."
Rebekah's voice is pleading, and so soft Matt can barely hear it. "I'm just getting the hang of this, and with -"
"Bring him with you," Elijah interjects, just as quiet.
"Into that? It's too much to ask. Of either of us."
"This is going to change Klaus, Rebekah. I can see it already. He's becoming the man we've hoped he could be. The man he was in the beginning."
Rebekah is quiet.
"You can't doubt the possibility. Not after what has happened in your own heart."
Without warning, Elijah is stepping, nearly floating, into the kitchen. "And it's time for you to call home, Matt. A message from your friends in Mystic Falls," he explains in the doorway, then steps out into the night.
"I have to do this."
Matt lets their rented car wind through pine forest, back to Thiers, back to the world and reality. Jeremy answered when he called, on the first ring like he'd been waiting for him, and told him the principal was frantic, needed a replacement for the coach at the last minute – their new, incompetent but well-meaning coach had moved away out of nowhere, left a note and hit the road. No idea why. The players were clamoring for Matt, begging the principal to hire him. The parents, too.
He could do the job, no question. Coaching was better than bussing tables. Hell, it was better than pretty much anything he could think of as a real, actual job. He hadn't imagined something like this was possible, not right out of high school, but the principal was adamant. He offered Matt a livable salary and promised him a full ride at the community college to get a degree, as long as he only went part time while he was coaching.
It's the opportunity of a lifetime.
Rebekah stares out the window, watching the tall, planted pines fly by in regular lines. "I know you do."
"Mystic Falls," Matt muses. "Home sweet home. Land of the free and the terrifying."
"You're going to be a wonderful coach, Matt," she assures him, squeezing his forearm as he shifts. "You deserve this."
Matt hears the bittersweet undertone in her words and pulls over. He can't give her the reassurance she needs and drive at the same time. He shifts in the seat, turning to her. "They're going to see that you're different, right away, I promise. I'll vouch for you, I'll be right be your side. Seriously, if Damon Salvatore can be forgiven and welcomed into the fold, you're got it covered."
"I'm not going back."
How is it possible that both of these things have to happen at the same damn time?
"Matt, I'm going to New Orleans. I have to, for Elijah."
Matt opens his mouth to protest, but Rebekah stops him with a fervent kiss.
Matt unwraps the red wool scarf from around his neck and drops it on his desk. Jeff Daltry, the new quarterback – a lanky, dark-haired kid Matt played alongside for the last three years, handing the ball over once the job was mostly done – calls after him. "Good game, Coach!"
"Great game, Daltry. Nice work."
It was awkward at first, leading a bunch of guys who had been his teammates only months before. But they wanted him to lead them, and after a few games he had to admit he was doing okay. A few losses but mostly wins, and the team was improving. Now, a few days before Thanksgiving and the season nearly over, he's starting to consider that he might have been born to coach high school football. He feels like he's exactly where he belongs.
Only one thing missing.
The locker room fills with cheers and steam. He swings the door to his office shut.
A plain, white envelope lies on top of his closed laptop, with an M written in the center. He opens it quickly, ripping the flap, and pulls out a plane ticket to Montreal, and a note.
Christmas in Quebec? Love, R.
A/N: Doesn't that sound like a delectable set up for a series of fluffy one-shots? Matt and Rebekah's stolen weekends... Perhaps, if the muses and the TVD/Originals writers are kind, there will be more to come.