There is something inherently satisfactory about running away from anything.
So when the dopplegangr tells her stories she doesn’t want to hear, tries to force unimaginable truths down her throat, Rebekah runs away – and because if there’s one skill she’s learned in life, that’s it.
Recognizing something to be true does not mean believing it, and Rebekah does not believe, because she does not want to. Cannot. She runs instead, even though her whole life has been a game of running away.
This time she is running away from her brother, instead of with her hand in his.
And unfortunately for Nik, he taught her well.
She hides her trail with great success, blurring through one false identity after another, learning all there is to know about obtaining as many credit cards as she needs.
The States hold little appeal for her, so she flies to Rome, visits ancient ruins of amphitheaters and feels familiar, nostalgic awe for something older than she is.
And every so often, she thinks she is doing a good job; she is playing this game well, this keep away, this distance. Then she wonders if she even still has a brother to run from, if the joke’s on her.
She doesn’t really believe that, though. Niklaus is always one step ahead of everyone, and she has every faith they failed in whatever pathetic scheme they were thinking up.
She makes a correction to that thought, though – Niklaus is always one step ahead of everyone, except her, apparently, because she’s getting away with it.
Rebekah gets away with it for three years.
She traces circles through Europe, forgets the many names she uses – never forgets her brother’s face (as if he’s always watching her), or the face of that stupid, stupid girl when she came to the boardinghouse and tore down every pillar Rebekah had built her thousand years of life around.
(Sometimes she wishes she had stayed only so she could have made good on her promise, and ripped Elena apart when she made her move.)
But Nik doesn’t really deserve that from her, does she? She almost forgets that sometimes. Tries to. But it is the new pillar – only pillar – in her new life: she is running from her brother because her brother killed her mother and she resolutely refuses to accept any of it.
She finds men that remind her of Nik, sometimes. Their hair, or their eyes, or their mannerisms – never more than one trait, because her brother is a collection of impossible traits. She kills them. Monstrously. Hurts them in ways she wishes she could hurt her brother but knows she never will, even knowing what he did. The scales have never been even between them.
And then he finds her in Vienna.
She’s staying in a hotel near the centre of town, and one day she leaves her room and finds her brother leaning against the wall in the hallway, a slow, satisfied smile quickly appearing on his face.
And then he’s right in front of her – “Hello, sister” – and grabbing her arm, forcing her back into the room and locking the door deftly behind him. She yanks her arm away, steps back and juts her chin out.
“What are you doing here?”
Nik laughs, incredulous, and then steps closer, menacing. “I think the better question is what are you doing here, Rebekah? Or where you’ve been for the past three years? Change of loyalty, was it?” His voice is lower, slower, and his jaw clenched, and even though she’s been running from him for so long, this is the first moment when she feels genuinely afraid.
But she shakes her head. “No... No, you don’t get to lecture me about loyalty, Nik,” she hisses. Her brother might be angry, but she is angry too. And while he’s more prone to violence, she’s the one with the worst temper.
A shadow of confusion crosses his face (and when was the last time she saw her brother confused?). He lifts his hands to her face, holds them there, twisting a gentle gesture into a something she recognizes as a threat. “You know, you have the most appalling timing, sweetheart,” he says slowly. “I killed him. Mikael. Right after you left. But then you were stuck running from me. Another thousand years, was that the plan?” He chuckles. “Or three, as it turns out. Not so impressive, sister.”
“Shut up,” she says, spiteful, because that’s what comes automatically, because she has spent three years knowing this would eventually come and she still can’t accept the truth enough to call him out.
“I brought a dagger,” he says casually. Smiles at her.
So she runs. She bolts for the door, blows by him, and she’s just wrenching it open when he smashes into her from behind, slamming the door shut and trapping her between it and himself. He’s curled over her, one hand splayed against the door, his breath heavy on the back of her neck, and she closes her eyes, expects a dagger plunged through her back any second, wonders if it will be another ninety years or maybe hundreds this time.
But the pain doesn't come.
Nik is silent, unmoving, for a few minutes, and Rebekah is too scared to say anything, anticipating the dagger at any moment. She wonders if that’s the point of this, torture by terrified anticipation.
Finally, he speaks, growls “Tell me why, Bekah,” in a low breath that flutters over her skin like goosebumps.
She curls her fingers, inhales slowly. Her brother has always been impulsive, so impulsive she sometimes forgets he is a man who waited a thousand years to unlock his birthright and prove himself to his father the only way he knew how.
His hand slides down to grip her shoulder, and he turns her around insistently, pins her back against the door now and still presses closer. “Why, Rebekah. Did you know, that they planned to wake Father?” He sneers. “Thought he wouldn’t come after you as long as you weren’t with me?”
She’s shaking her head, shaking and shaking slowly and she can’t stop, can’t make her trembling lips form the necessary words. She wants to hurl them in his face, just for shock value, just to show she’s not his fool anymore. But instead, it’s a pained whisper –
“You lied to me for a thousand years—all along,”
– and she doesn’t even get it right. You killed our Mother, she was supposed to say – she’s imagined screaming it at him, so many times, over and over.
And here she is in the moment and she said it all wrong.
Heavy silence wraps around them, and Rebekah watches her brother’s face change.
He blinks first, as his hand clenches on her shoulder even tighter. His eyes then narrow, his mouth pursing in a hard line. His lips part, as he shudders once, expression wavering. He closes his eyes, and his head slumps forward ever so slightly, his forehead almost against hers—
“She turned her back on me,” he starts slowly, defensive, but the words break off momentarily. “You—you said it yourself, Rebekah,” he insists. Somehow he is the one who gets to accuse. “She was the betrayer, not me—”
“You lied to me!” It sounds so childish, but it hurts so much, and her entire body feels tight, coiled in on itself, and she wonders if she would collapse if Nik didn’t have his hand on her shoulder, if he is absurdly holding her up.
“You let me believe for a thousand years,” she continues, shaky, “—that Father killed her, that I needed to hate him. I spent my entire life hating him, running away from him, always running, and—and why, Nik? What was any of it for then?”
He takes a step away from her, but at first his hand does not move – if anything, he clutches her more tightly before realizing, and then he pulls it back quickly. She does not collapse, and in the back of her mind she marvels at that.
There is shock on Nik’s face. Something almost akin to pain, and a grim determination in the set of his jaw, locking everything away. And then she realizes.
For you. But she can’t say it. (Can’t ever get the truth out right.)
She ran from her father for a thousand years, for her brother. She lived her life wrapped up in his lies, pursuing his warpath to revenge, under his unendingly possessive shadow. Her entire life – and the thought is so overwhelming that she lets herself lean back into the door behind her, needs something new to hold her up, something that is in no way her brother.
“Why, Bekah? What for?” There is a cruel, satisfied edge to Nik’s voice, as if he is preparing to deliver the punchline of a joke – he knows what’s coming and she does not. “You said it yourself,” he repeats, the corner of his mouth curling as he moves closer to her again.
“We’re always and forever, darling.” It is a taunt, a claim, and Rebekah doesn’t know how she could have ever said those words and not realized what it meant, signing her life away to her brother.
Nik leans his head close to hers. “Don’t go back on your word now,” he whispers, grins like he has any right to speak of one’s word. He lifts a hand to her cheek, sweeps a thumb over the wetness under her eye. And then he kisses her, hard and insistent, and all she can think is that it’s been over a century since her brother last kissed her like this.
“You made up the rules,” he murmurs, lips brushing hers; she shivers.
And this was not supposed to be the way it went, this was not supposed to be the way of her grand confrontation, but Nik hasn’t stuck a dagger in her either, and when he kisses her again, gravitating closer and closer, pressed into her and a hand firmly against the small of her back—her moan catches in her throat; she is drowning in delusions of a thousand year old life that she needs to tie some semblance of purpose to, and she can feel the curve of Nik’s grin but she kisses him back anyway.
His fingers glide up her body to her blouse, tear a neat path down it while she tips her head back against the door. Nik’s mouth is at her neck, warm on her collarbone, and she can still feel the way he is grinning, always so self-satisfied, the more he demands and the more she gives.
“You’re a bastard, Nik,” she pants, closing her eyes, ignoring the contradiction of her own hands reaching to tug at his shirt.
“Mmmmm,” his murmur vibrates through her skin, “but you’re stuck with me, darling.”
And isn’t that the truth of it, she thinks.
Always and forever.