I'm writing this so that I have a record. Or the police do, I don't know. I think Julian is a vampire. I'm taking Louis somewhere safe and then I'm going to call the police.
Dan, I'm sorry. I love y
8. The Doppelgänger
"Mr Smith?" A knock on the door.
Only one person called him that. "Come in."
He glanced up as Tamara walked into the study. Elijah was sitting behind a desk, a laptop screen open in front of him. He had tabs open of various news pieces, all results of Tamara's handiwork.
"Good news." Tamara beamed. "The launch video has gone viral! Over a million hits already. Everyone's talking about it. And I got a call just a few minutes ago. They want David to do an interview on the Late Show with David Letterman."
David with David. The corners of his mouth twitched. David was the only surviving vampire featured in the video. The rest had been staked in the hotel, a fact which Tamara had been only too happy to reveal. Somehow she had gotten several news articles published which called the police attacks "brutal", "uncalled for" and "state-sanctioned murder, plain and simple". Meanwhile, the witches' deaths had gone unreported.
"Impressive work," said Elijah. "We've only just begun, but you haven't put a foot wrong so far. I'd like to ask your advice." He leaned forward, clasping his hands together on the desk. "Katherine. We have her in custody. What would you recommend we do with her?"
Tamara's eyes widened. "Oh. That is a toughie. Well, if you kill her, you run the risk of making her a martyr right when we're throwing out all these good vibes. You could turn her into a vampire."
"I'm not sure that would work."
She frowned, confused. "Um. We could get her to send out a different message. But a pro-vampire Katherine would make it obvious that we're putting words into her mouth. So I think the best option here is to take Katherine off the radar completely. Take her out of the spotlight. If anyone asks, she went into permanent hiding. Give it a couple of years and no one will be asking."
"Thank you," Elijah said softly. "I think it's time. Could you fetch Elena, please? Tell her to bring Katherine to me."
Tamara nodded. "Right away."
Elena pulled Katherine in to see him by her hair, fingers twisting to make Katherine grit her teeth in pain. She threw Katherine down on the floor with a smug look. Katherine looked up, breathing hard. She looked dirty, dishevelled. Her hair clung limply to her face.
"Hey, Elijah," she croaked. "You got me."
Elijah took a moment to close the lid of his laptop, then his gaze flicked from Katherine to Elena.
"How long has she been incarcerated?"
"Nearly a week," said Elena. "The vervain has left her system and she doesn't have any on her. I checked."
"You mean you groped me," Katherine retorted. "If I had known you were this touchy-feely, Elena, I would've–"
Elena aimed a kick at her back, and Katherine cried out, losing the thread of her words. She turned back to shoot a hateful look at her doppelgänger.
"Why don't you just kill me?"
Elena's mouth curled. "Oh, that would be too easy. You're going to suffer way more than that."
They lay entwined together, her hair tickling his chin, his arm curled around her waist. The sun had not yet risen but dawn was approaching, suffusing the room with an eerie half-light.
Elena looked up at him. "Is it possible for a vampire with no humanity to fall in love?"
He glanced down, meeting her eyes. "That would be a sign of getting their humanity back."
"But I don't want it back." She sighed, snuffling into his chest. "Can't I pick and choose?"
"Emotions can't be chosen. That's the nature of love. It comes unasked for, whether you want it or not."
She smiled, leaning in to catch him with a soft, open-mouthed kiss. The sheets slipped down her back. They had made up for their interrupted night at the hotel several times over.
"I want you," she said. "That's a choice, isn't it?"
Elijah smiled back. "An excellent one."
"It's good to see you like this," she said.
He brushed away a strand of her hair, and gently tugged at her earlobe with thumb and forefinger. "Well, you make me happy."
"Can I ask you a favour?"
There was a slightly mischievous glint in her eyes. She slanted her head to one side, arms crossed over his chest, looking impossibly cute.
He would have granted her anything.
They had intercepted Katherine on the way to New Orleans, following the tracking device that Elena had planted on Elijah. Katherine was captured and her guards killed. After that, it was a simple matter of Elena impersonating her human counterpart. She had convinced the witches to move location, to the church in New Orleans that wasn't protected by the anti-vampire barrier. The other vampires had followed at a distance, ready to move in.
Since then, Julian had taken responsibility for the girl who had made him into a vampire, imprisoning Katherine in their hideout. Elijah had not seen her. Until today.
"Elena has requested my permission to devise a suitable punishment," Elijah told her, not moving from his seat. "I've agreed that she may do so."
Katherine stared. "Why? Because I killed your siblings? I'm just finishing what Elena started."
Elena was still standing behind Katherine. She stalked around to face her doppelgänger, her expression one of disgust. "Look around you. You lost, Katherine. You won't get to finish anything."
"Maybe not," said Katherine. "But from where I'm looking, I already won. It doesn't matter what you do to me. The world will never stop hunting vampires. There'll be others to fight the good fight."
"Oh, so suddenly survival isn't your top priority."
"Well, that's the thing about becoming mortal. You're gonna die anyway, so why not accomplish something before you go?"
Elena shook her head. "And there I thought you wanted a normal life."
"Sweetie, I think we both know I'm beyond that."
"That's rich, coming from you."
Elena's mouth tightened. She knelt down and grabbed Katherine by the shoulders, baring her teeth. The veins spread beneath her eyes. Katherine tensed, and Elijah braced a hand against the desk, ready to get up and stop them if necessary, but Elena had a few words to say first.
"Do you think I wanted to be this way?" she asked. "Do you think of all the choices I could have made, I wanted to make this one? I didn't ask for you to come to Mystic Falls and systematically destroy my life. I didn't ask for any of this."
Katherine laughed. "Oh, that's funny. I could say the exact same thing. Do you think I invited the Originals into my life? And you wonder why I want to destroy them."
Elijah coughed lightly. "Ladies."
Elena stood up. "I'm going to kill you. I'm going to compel you and make you forget everything you are. I'm going to make you a doll, a plaything for any vampire. Katherine Pierce will no longer exist. Katerina Petrova will be a dead face no one remembers in a history book no one will read. You'll be dead, and the rest of your life will be a living hell."
"Elena," he said. "Please, give us a moment."
She didn't look happy about it, but eventually she pursed her lips and departed, closing the door of the study on her way. He listened for her footsteps receding down the hallway, until they faded and he judged that she was too far away to listen in.
Katherine was still huddled on the floor, arms wrapped around her legs. She stared at him balefully.
"So what is this, our last goodbye?"
"Yes," he said. "I think so."
"Elijah." She swallowed. "You can't let her do this."
"Don't worry," he promised. "You'll be safe."
It was rare to see her so fearful, so desperate. But he could hear her heartbeat, and it wasn't racing. She was calmer than she looked.
Katherine shook her head. "But I won't be me. I might as well be dead." She paused. "I thought you loved me."
"I did love you. But that was a long time ago."
"You should think before you do this, Elijah," Katherine said, her voice turning low. "Elena has you eating out of the palm of her hand. But how long do you think she'll be loyal to you once she finds out that she's not from your bloodline?"
He stared. "What?"
"Here's a little secret I learned from the witches," Katherine said. "When I became human, the line that connected me to Klaus was broken. So my family tree survived even after Klaus's death."
It felt like a ball of lead had plunged into the pit of his stomach. She was lying. She had to be. He got up, moving around the desk to crouch in front of Katherine, and compelled her.
"Is this true?"
Her face was expressionless. "Every word."
"Does Elena know? Did you tell her?"
"I haven't told her anything," Katherine replied, perfectly calm. He frowned, and she blinked, smiling. "But she will find out, sooner or later. And when she does, she will kill you. She is a Petrova. We were made to destroy you. And the biggest joke of all is: you won't see it coming."
Elijah's jaw trembled. "She loves me."
Katherine laughed. "She doesn't even have her humanity on!"
Somewhere inside him, something snapped. His hand shot out, choking Katherine as he pulled her up by the throat. He gripped her with his mind too, focusing all of his considerable power.
She sank down when he let her go, clutching her neck, but she didn't make a sound.
"Stay where you are," he ordered, and left the study, his hurried footsteps absorbed by the thick carpet. He looked up and down. Their new hideout was a country manor, a much larger and older building than either his last residence or Elena and Caroline's apartment. It was big enough to occupy all the surviving vampires in their group. "Elena?" He raised his voice. "Elena."
He counted the seconds. One. Two. Three–
There she was. She zipped around the corner, then approached him at normal pace. His stomach dropped.
"Are you done?" she asked.
"Yes," said Elijah. He glanced back over at the study. "I think we're done."
They gathered in the entrance hall. Suitcases piled up by the door, while bags were strewn haphazardly across the floor. Lucia was packing blood bags into a cold box. He watched Caroline drag a pink suitcase down the stairs and wheel it over to stand by the others.
"Burn your photographs," Elijah told her. "You must make a new life now."
She started. "How do you know about those?"
"Oh, come on," said Elena beside him. "I knew. You didn't think that I couldn't hear you crying over them, did you?"
For a moment, Caroline looked stricken. Her lip trembled.
"Your loyalty is to me," said Elijah, "and to your bloodline. All of you." He looked around, raising his voice. "Kneel."
In the cold light of day, he could see them, all of the vampires responding to his command. One by one, they obeyed. Those who had survived. Three of his guards, Lorenzo, Jacob, and Cerise. They would be rewarded for their loyalty. Lucia, ever graceful, who gave him a small smile as she knelt. Caroline, who in a second had returned to being perfectly impassive. Elena, who looked up at him with a gaze so loving and proud, he could have scooped her up and kissed her right there.
Only Julian hesitated, frowning. Julian, who had been the de facto leader of the vampires for several months, and would now be his second-in-command.
Elijah gave him a pointed look.
"Elijah," said Julian. "I've served you. I swore an oath–"
Julian swallowed. Then he dropped to his knees. "Always and forever."
The vampires spoke as one. "Always and forever."
Elena rose first. Moving towards him, she took his hand, reaching out with her other hand to grasp Caroline's. As the vampires stood up, they each joined hands, forming a circle. Elena was at his right shoulder. On his left, completing the circle, was Julian.
Elijah looked at each one of them in turn. His inner circle. His bloodline. His family.
He nodded. "We start anew."
Waves lapped against the beach. She could hear the surf as if she were directly beneath a waterfall, the water crashing over her head.
Megan stumbled back, catching her hip against the kitchen counter. She stuffed her hands in her ears.
"I can't hear – I – everything's so loud." She looked up. "My baby. My baby's crying."
Panic overwhelmed her. He was upstairs, safe in his cot – but not safe, not safe, there was a vampire in her house, he couldn't be safe–
Her father impaled upon a sword, her mother's corpse laid out on the bed and her sister besides; blood pooled around their bodies and her baby gone–
She started forward and Julian caught her. "There now," he said. "I don't care about your boy. You're much more interesting."
She swallowed, gritting her teeth. "What's happening to me?"
"I think you know."
"I need a doctor." Why were the lights so bright? Why was her head ringing? Why did she feel like an entire section of her skull was trying to drum its way back into her head? "My teeth hurt, my head hurts, I–"
The sound of an engine added to the cacophony inside her head. A car was pulling up the driveway.
Julian glanced at his watch. "Right on time. Honey, I'm home."
"He can't see me like this." She clawed at her face, tears spilling from her eyes. "He can't see me like this, Julian – you did this to me."
The door opened. She felt like she was drowning. Running, running, always running, running from him – from vampire eyes and wolf claws–
She had to bolt. They would be caught any second, but there was nowhere to go, nowhere to hide. Then Julian disappeared – no sound, no warning, no anything – she simply looked away and when she looked back again he'd gone. The heavy footsteps of her husband greeted her, the grating sound of the car keys jangling as he tossed them on the counter.
"Car needs fixing again. I knew they'd done something wrong, that's two hundred bucks down the drain and I almost hit a pedestrian at the–" He stopped. "Megan? Is something wrong?"
She was breathing hard, hands braced against the counter. Upstairs, Louis was still crying. "I think I've done something bad, Dan."
Then Julian appeared and sank his fangs into Dan's neck and she screamed. Blood. There was so much blood, how could there be so much blood everywhere… Julian was holding Dan, carrying him towards her like an offering, a meal. His face, his eyes, his mouth dripping blood – and that open wound on Dan's neck…
She swallowed. This feeling, this hunger – she'd felt it before.
She knew what to do.
She lunged forward, sinking her puny human teeth into Dan's throat and the blood filled her mouth – bitter, metallic at first, but then she gulped and her fangs lengthened, and the blood turned sweet. She drank and drank and when she had drained him dry, she let his corpse fall down on the kitchen floor.
And then she stood still, memories hitting her like waves.
Julian smiled. "Hello, Katherine."