A/N: Mikky Ekko, man, Mikky Ekko. Also, my love/hate relationship with this show is getting to be a bit much, but what can you do. Therefore you'll find that this is only canon–compliant with certain parts of Season 5 and not others, and I'm not really sorry about that. Also, there's some references to Jeremy/Elena if you read in–between the lines, so don't read this if that will make you uncomfortable.
we could be king and queen of the moonlight
(you can show me where trouble goes
tell me secrets only trouble knows
pull me down ––mikky ekko)
"you take a lover for granted, you take a lover who looks at you like maybe you are magic." ––frida kahlo
Katherine Pierce looks like his sister. It's obvious, doesn't need to be said, and certainly shouldn't be thought, but Jeremy thinks about it anyway. It's a weakness, he recognizes early on, because when the instinct to rush to her aid and protect her in any way he can makes its way to the surface, slowly weeding itself into the foundation of his attitude regarding her and corrupting his decision–making process to a dangerous level, he can't even hope to combat it.
He sees it in the corners of her eyes, sometimes, just the slightest of softness that dissolves so quickly it's possible that he simply imagined it. I can love, she's screaming silently, I can care. I am capable of feelings. I am –
He laughs to himself, then, not because his changing perception of her is funny, but because it's the exact opposite. The sound echoes across the empty room. He's more than glad there's no one around to hear him practically question his entire life – because that's what Elena is, and Katherine is her shadow. They state quite often that they are from disparate worlds and lead varying lives for a score of reasons, but Jeremy knows that their differences are not so large and infinite, because Jeremy has looked them both in the eye and uttered deal–breaking statements: I love you, too non–hesitantly but making the breaths between words last to create meaning, and Stop running through an overdue spark of determinism and clenched teeth. Jeremy has watched their responses, seen the similarities in the way they sigh. Jeremy, more than anyone – more than Stefan and Damon in their self–pitying glory, more than Elijah and Klaus in their understated and overstated egomania – knows that Elena and Katherine are more alike than they claim.
That isn't to say that they aren't distinctively separate in their choices and motivations and emotions and actions. Elena wouldn't have killed him, or threatened to multiple times prior to the actual action. Elena wouldn't spew profanities at him that degrade his self–worth. Elena wouldn't be entertained through his pain.
The distinctions between them are constantly evident, but he has to remind himself on occasion that Elena wouldn't do any of those things, because Elena cares, and because Elena loves him and he loves her. He would give up anything for Elena, and Katherine would give him up for any cause at any cost. The only problem, of course, is that he's not sure anymore whether he would do the same to Katherine.
Nearly every meaningful moment in Katherine's life is one she hasn't cared to share unless it's been coerced out of her. Anything vaguely treasurable or valuable exists only in her mind, disappearing gradually from memory because if it's a subject solely in her thoughts, then it might be imagined, might not have happened at all. That would mark a slow but sure descent into insanity, and she doesn't want to yield to that. Mental instability is the most fatal form a weakness can take.
An increasing amount of these stolen moments – though she wouldn't precisely regard them as that, as they border on a confusing line between utterly pointless and the stakes of the game she's nearly forgotten how to play – have occurred with the same person as of recent, the last person she would have bet on to be a challenge but simultaneously a strange comfort. She's torn on whether she should be suspicious of his true intentions or not, but considering how she tells herself that he's a minimal threat and nothing more, she eyes him with little apprehension and a lot of amusement when he appears legitimately concerned about her on occasion.
"I could still kill you," she begins conversationally, more times than actually necessary and thus a signal that she inherently doesn't think that she really could but wants to demonstrate to the world that it should believe otherwise, "It'd be easy."
Jeremy doesn't even look up, concentration in completing his incomprehensible number of daily push–ups unbroken. "But I know that you won't."
"No one knows what I will and won't do. No one even knows me," she scoffs as if he's the one who needs a reality check, rather than herself, as she is lounging on a couch, shamelessly enjoying the view of the nearly shirtless and sweating brother–cousin–whatever of her doppelganger and is pretending to ignite a worthwhile argument to justify her actions. She appreciates it, his whole nonchalance thing, but it's undeniably becoming a growing distraction. "Everyone only knows bits and pieces, because that's all I've given them. That's how you survive."
"Or that's how you end up alone," Jeremy responds, and she opens her mouth to retort sharply only to read his tone more carefully and recognize that he's not being condescending, but understanding, "Trust me, I know. I've been there." He halts, looking up at her now, and gathers himself to stand, moving to lean against the wall.
"Right," is all Katherine can bring herself to say, and lamely at that, suddenly pausing and surprising herself by thinking The Gilberts aren't actually that bad. Self–righteous with ridiculously high morals as ever, but not exactly terrible to be around. Maybe it's just another irritating side–effect of being human, the empathy–slash–seeing–people–in–a–new–light thing, or maybe it's always been there and even with her humanity turned on, it was the one switch she didn't manage to keep flicked in the right direction – up or down, alive or dead, loved or lonely. It was never a toss–up, never hard to guess which of the above she found herself to be time and time again throughout eternity.
Jeremy apparently picks up on her thought process, infuriatingly enough yet again, as he goes on, "But there must be someone who knows you for who you are. Someone you trust. Someone who cares about you."
"Nope," she replies blankly, not realizing when her demeanor had shifted to ice, "They're all dead."
Jeremy, crossing his arms, can't help but wonder if this is what his sister will look like in five hundred years, bitter and reclusive, alone in the wilderness, and running towards and away from fears that can't be named because they aren't even being acknowledged. He aims for denial, because acceptance would make him feel too heavy, too burdened with the reality that these are their lives, this is what they've become, and there's no changing any of that. "That can't be true. There must be someone. Something to hold on to."
"Little Gilbert, that's a long shot," she says, more truthful than she'd like to typically be to hide her vulnerabilities, "Who do you think could possibly know me if I don't even know me? Let's not kid ourselves here."
"I think you're wrong," he shrugs, a contradicting gesture since it's evident that he's not indifferent, "I think more people know you than you'd care to believe. After all these years, all the running, all the apparent selfishness, bitching, and manipulating – you've tried so hard to create a certain image of yourself that you've really failed to fool anyone. If I can see through it, then it's pretty safe to say that anyone can."
"What is that supposed to mean?" she narrows her eyes, contemplating retracting her previous mindset because the Gilberts, in all their trademarked compassionate glory, don't seem all that endearing to her any longer.
"You're supposed to be super smart, aren't you? Figure it out."
And just like that, with no achieved rising tension or conflict or climax to speak of, Jeremy walks out the door, leaving her sitting there waiting for the resolution. It almost feels like personal victimization, skipping the parts of a story that have to be present not to make for a good ending but to hint to some semblance of an ending nonetheless, all but saying Fuck you, I don't have time for that shit. Let's just get on with this except Katherine has no real clue as to what this is, and though he's instructed her to, she doesn't plan on figuring it out. It can hardly be called the calm before the storm because she knows there won't be a storm at all, but she still craves the conflict, not a resolution. He should know better than to torment her in this manner, just like he should know better than to tell her to care, and she should know better than to think that he won't.
In a somewhat obsessive fashion, Katherine starts to take careful note of the way Elena says Jeremy's name. Jeremy, she says like a prayer, like he's hers and she's his but it's still not enough, Jeremy.
Katherine wants to know if it would sound similar coming from her voice, but she isn't willing to risk the embarrassment of testing it out. She shouldn't even be deliberating on something so trivial, but she is, pacing the length of the Salvatore house and thinking about why it seems so impossible to impersonate Elena for approximately two seconds when she's successfully done it for much longer in the past.
But that's the thing – she doesn't want to imitate Elena. She wants to remain herself and practice Elena and see if anyone notices.
"Jeremy," she says, out of nowhere one afternoon, and it's obvious as soon as the syllables leave her lips that she's made a huge mistake. Physically she and Elena are the same, but even vocal cords know a way of betrayal when emotions are involved. Clearly this is just a result of her not feeling the same towards Jeremy as Elena does, since that's where the vital difference in their inflection lies.
"What?" What is it? What's wrong? What do you want? his expression reads, unaware that she's used his name as an experiment to test – well, she's not entirely positive what. She reckons his cluelessness works better for her than if he would have picked up on it.
"Nothing," she responds, lightning–fast and on the defensive, "You're paying too much attention to me these days. It's verging from flattering to creepy at this point."
Jeremy rolls his eyes, though suddenly self–conscious. He has struggled for quite some time with the inherent wrongness of attraction to someone who outwardly resembles his sister to an unbearable degree. It's disconcerting, to say the least, but he's oddly fine with it, because it's always the scars that hurt more than the wounds. He loves Elena, but not like he loved Anna or Bonnie. He tolerates Katherine, but not for the sake of utilitarianism or giving her the benefit of the doubt. It just so happens that someone he loves more than he should ever possibly be capable of is physically identical to someone who runs and keeps coming back when she needs to use the same people for her own gain again. The shallowness of his own motives consumes him, so all he says before he can dwell on it is, "Whatever, Katherine."
She rolls her eyes back at him, but in reality, it takes her several moments to catch her breath. Confusion is the air and losing her breath in the first place. Calamity is the arch of his shoulders as he turns around, the realization that all they will ever do is edge around one another out of fear of stepping onto fragile ground. Certainty is only found in her own madness, the relic that is her life as she watches him go for the countless time with no clash and no aftermath. She wishes she could believably say that she doesn't feel anything about that.
A/N: I'd sincerely appreciate reviews, but please don't favorite without reviewing!