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four man army

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Elijah has a tendency to not so much roll into town but to appear in a sudden storm of chaos. Damon calls it 'good timing'; Elijah calls it 'saving their ass.' Asses. The whole lot of them, from the Bennett witch all the way through to his very own brothers and sister. Klaus doesn't say so much as a hello, but that's to be expected when he's in one of his moods. In fact, Klaus doesn't leave his room after Elijah gets home. He takes one look at his brother and disappears. The short interaction leaves the home feeling as cold as their skin, until Rebekah comes bounding in to fill him in on all of the details of the past few weeks.

At the end of her story, Elijah clears his throat and says, "Let me get this straight - you found the white oak, destroyed it, found out that there was more, and told Kol?" He gives her a look, a mocking, you-poor-poor-thing sort of look that makes Rebekah roll her eyes at him.

"It was Nik's idea not to involve you," Rebekah says.

"Look how well that turned out," Elijah deadpans. He rises then from the couch in their living room. He swipes his hands down his jacket and informs his sister that he'll be seeing Elena now. To which, Rebekah rolls her eyes a second time and calls him pathetic. He offers her a shrug, reasoning, "I've been mature long enough. I've surely earned a few... moron minutes."

Rebekah laughs at that. "At least you admit what a fool she makes of you." She means it as a joke on him. He hears it as a sad reflection of herself. Of the fool that a certain someone makes of Rebekah. He doesn't comment on it, not when he practically has her blessing to talk to her nemesis.

He gives a small, non-confirming grin. Then he tells her, "I'm glad you are safe," and leaves as smoothly as he entered.

...

In contrast, Rebekah blunders into situations. She goes in whole heartedly and somehow manages to turn all of that strength against herself and take down everyone around her in the process. Re: the whole Stefan Salvatore in the 1920s situation. Or the decade dance. Or their entire time with their mother in the current century. It's not Rebekah's fault, per se; she just has no control over how poorly everything will turn out. No matter how strongly she likes to believe the opposite.

Nik's kind of to blame. For everything. If he weren't so judgmental and paranoid and homicidal, her life would have turned out much differently. She tells him as much from outside of his door. Tells him that hiding away inside of his fortress won't change the fact that he spent the night yelling himself hoarse at the corpse of their mother.

He tells her, quite politely (and croakily), to go the hell away and leave him to plot in peace.

"Plot what, Nik? How to kill Esther yet again? How to get Caroline to love you? How to -"

His door swings open, and he's there in all of his brooding, infuriated glory. "Enough, Rebekah!" he roars. He grimaces immediately after yelling, which only makes Rebekah smirk.

"Told you," she gloats before walking around him into his room. She takes the moment of distraction to really observe her surroundings. He doesn't let people in to his room often despite his open arms policy with the family.

The walls of his room are a dark green, kind of like the dense color of the trees in the forests - before all of the modern day humans hacked them down to eventually be turned into half sheets for their ridiculous vocabulary quizzes. (Oh, the fun of high school.) The floors are polished wood, much like the rest of the home. But there's a lot more space in his room than in others. He's dedicated part of it to pictures. No, paintings, she realizes. Very, very well done paintings of their family.

She spots herself in the present day, hair blowing in the wind on the football field of Mystic High. There's Elijah from before their fight over Katerina. Kol in the same ridiculous get up he was daggered in. Finn on the day he met Sage and turned into a blubbering mess. And last but certainly not least, there's Henrick, smiling and happy, with the ghost of shadows from the pain he would soon face. She glances back at all of the other pictures, looks closely. Each of them has a slight ghosting of color at what would kill them. The daggers through their hearts, some with holes bigger than others.

Curiously, Rebekah asks, "Exactly how many times have you daggered Elijah?"

Nik shrugs. "I've lost count. Maybe you should ask him." Nik moves around Rebekah back to his bed. He drops onto the mattress with a groan. She stays where she is. He pretends to ignore her. She pretends not to be bothered by it.

After a moment or two, she stops pretending. She says, "Give up, Nik. You want me here. You want Elijah here. You don't want to do this alone again."

"I won't be alone," he answers easily.

Her eyes scrape the ceiling. "Right, because you'll have your silly, little hybrids."

He shakes his head. "No, because I'll have the doppelganger."

Rebekah's eyes narrow. "Elena?"

He scoffs, brings his pillow up over his head while mumbling, "No, Katerina. Tatia too. We'll have a bloody Petrova party." Rebekah rushes to him and smashes the pillow forcefully into his face. He pushes away from her grasp, sputtering and glaring. He snaps, "Of course, Elena, how else am I to make an army?"

So her brother really does plan to go to war. That means travel. Lots of it. With Elena. Alone. She blurts, "Elijah would never go for that."

Klaus meets her eye. "It's a good thing I don't care what Elijah thinks then. I do what I have to do. I always have."

"Look how well that turned out," Rebekah retorts. Klaus's eyes flare, and she realizes just how nice it is to be the aggressor for once. Maybe that's why Elijah is only around long enough to fix their problems; it means he gets to say whatever he wants and everyone loves him for it. Even Nik, no matter what he says.

He sits up in his bed and points a finger out angrily at her. "If you mess up my plan, so help me, Rebekah, I will tie you up and make sure you don't mess up anything ever again."

"Tie me up? I'm not really into that sort of thing. Not unless I'm doing the tying." She chuckles a bit while Klaus groans.

"Don't you have a clean up committee or something?"

Yes. It starts in ten minutes, but she's not exactly in the mood for fixing up after a dance she couldn't even attend. "Not going. I'm going to cheer you up. Now come on. We're leaving your room."

"And going where?" he asks.

Her response is simply a grin.

...

The same sort pops up on Elena's face a few miles away. The doppelganger has her left hand on the door knob and her right hanging somewhere between her body and Elijah's. Neither of them make a move to do or say anything. They just sort of smile at each other. It would be sickening were anyone around to see it. Which there isn't since Jeremy's off at the Grill and Alaric is, well, dead.

Elena finds it hard to think it. Alaric is definitely one of the toughest, bravest, most messed up guys she's ever met. He could handle anything. She thought he could handle anything. Fast forward a few years and more than a few dead loved ones and Elena's in an empty house, making goo-goo eyes at an original. Well, not goo-goo eyes. They're more of I'm-so-glad-you-came-back-and-are-over-feeling-guilty-for-nearly-killing-me-in-a-cave eyes.

"Elijah." She says his name on a whisper. She hears hers returned as easily, though she isn't one hundred percent sure that he even spoke. He doesn't need to. She knows what he's going to say. He'll apologize for hurting her, for taking off, for Alaric's death and his family's involvement in the matter. Then he'll reveal whatever reason he has for appearing on her doorstep. It'll be serious, and more than likely it will darken this little bit of happiness that's suddenly appeared in her life. She can't have that happening. She doesn't want to hear it now. Maybe in a few hours, but not yet.

She steps back, using her right hand to gesture him inside. "Come in. Please. "

He steps over the threshold and into the hall. He glances to the stairs out of habit. She wonders how exactly that became a thing when he can hear if anyone else is around. Common courtesy? Maybe he just needs something to do other than watch her shut the door behind him. Either way, he looks up and she seals them off away from the world. Once the lock clicks into place, Elena finds her grin broadening. It's just her and Elijah. Just a girl and her friend, her protector. He's really good at protecting her, and at calming her, and at just being there for her. She likes that. With him, it isn't about anything else. No ulterior motives, no grand romantic schemes, just two people living and hoping to do so for quite some time.

"Tea?" she offers. She doesn't wait for his answer, instead moving around him towards the kitchen. She hears him follow behind her, his steps perfectly in tune with her own. She walks to the cabinet where the tea is kept. The box is nearly empty. She'll have to have Ric - no, she'll have to go get more soon.

As if reading her mind, Elijah says, "My condolences. Alaric was a great man."

The sentence doesn't exactly cover it. Ric was more than great. He was the closest thing to a dad she had anymore. He helped her, not only in everything with Damon but in life. He got Jeremy back on the right track. He changed their lives.

"Yeah, he was."

And that's all Elena wants to say on the subject. She fills the kettle with water and sets it out to boil. As it does, she tries to distract Elijah from whatever it is that he wants to say. She tells him stories from his time away.

Tyler's back, and he and Klaus basically had a pissing contest over Caroline.

Jeremy's out getting more paint so they can finish Ric's room.

Bonnie seems to finally be opening up again, or she did before last night when everything went all crazy.

Oh, and they talked to Rose who seems to be doing great. Though, she must have said something to Jeremy because he's stopped giving her the judgmental eyes he had right after they first picked him up.

"You did not pick him up alone?" Elijah asks. Elena shakes her head as blood slowly starts to pool in her cheeks.

"Nope. Damon went with me." And then she kissed Damon. A lot. Until Jeremy woke up and saw them and made everything really awkward. Not that things between Jeremy and Damon had ever not been awkward. Jeremy's basically hated Damon from the second they met. Add in the fact that Damon turned Vicki, the compulsion, the way he manipulated Elena, the time he killed Jeremy just because Elena turned him down, and just how big of a jerk Damon is half the time, and it's not exactly surprising that Jeremy isn't the biggest supporter of this new relationship.

Not that there is a relationship. It was a kiss. Well, multiple kisses. But she went to the dance with Stefan and had an amazing time with Stefan because she really loves him. Loves him and Damon. Her love life should not be this difficult.

Elijah gives a small grin over the rim of his cup. He says, "Ah, that would explain why Kol told me he broke his bat on Damon." He chuckles and then sobers. "But since we're speaking of my brothers, Niklaus -"

"Is fine," Elena interrupts. "He might be angry about the whole situation with your mom, but Ric won't be hurting anyone, especially not any of you."

Elijah sighs. "While that may be true, Niklaus is again on an army kick."

Army. Army meaning hybrid army. Fun. Elena says, "Alright. He'll take a little bit of blood and be on his way. I don't need a warning for that, Elijah." She says it with a smile, but the look on his face tells her not to be so sure. It tells her that this problem is far from over. Gosh, when is anything ever over in this town?

He explains, "Niklaus doesn't want a few hybrids, Elena. He wants hybrids in every town, in every state, in this country, and as many other places as he cares to go. He wants an army so large that no one will ever dare challenge him."

But how can he get an army that big? That would require years of traveling and hunting down packs and each pack will require some of her blood and - oh. Oh. "No." Her eyes fly up to Elijah's as her head shakes from side to side. "No. I can't go with Klaus. He can't take me. That's not okay. Alaric is dead! I can't leave. Jeremy can't - Jeremy would be alone. Damon and Stefan would never let it happen."

Elijah sets his tea down and says, "Then they will die trying to stop it. It's best to simply go along with it." She opens her mouth to protest. How does he think she can go along with this? This is crazy! "But, you will not have to do so alone. If my brother intends to take you, I will join you both. I will keep you safe, Elena."

This weird sort of sound escapes her. It's somewhere between a laugh and a sigh, and it really just makes her want to curl up and hit the rewind button to back before she met any of these guys. She just needs to work her mind around this. Around leaving. Well, it's not exactly leaving, that would be voluntary. This would be kidnapping. Evil hybrid kidnapping to make more evil hybrids to fight the ghost mother of all vampires. Elena stands up. She needs something stronger than tea. Way, way stronger.

...

"Scotch, and make it a double," Rebekah orders before turning back to her brother. Nik is still moping, but at least now he's moping at the bar. Much better. Now, if she could only convince him to actually do something-

"Rebekah, I can hear you thinking over the pounding in my skull. Relax," Nik says.

The simple joke brings her back to thoughts of Sage and Damon, to feeling violated and used and cheap. That's all she is, isn't she? All she's ever been? Someone to be used by others. Even now, she's being used. She's offering herself up as Nik's little punching bag or cheerleader or whatever it is he needs to get back to his normal self and calm down. She really is pathetic sometimes. Most times. All of the time.

She pushes that away from her mind and forces a carefree smile onto her face. She sends Nik that and the simple deal of "I will if you will. Come on, Nik, an army? We both know that's not a good idea. You tried running one during the Civil War. It didn't work out well."

Nik's grimace gets a bit darker. "That was different, Rebekah. Then, I wanted bloodshed. Now, I just want Esther to wish she had never been reborn. Again."

Nik really is the poster child for Mommy issues. He's never been able to focus on anything other than proving himself thanks to everything with their parents. Even now, he's in a bar with dozens of people all around him and he's talking about his mother. Their mother. Their evil, vampire hating, absolute hunter creating, body stealing bitch of a mother. That is another wound that is a little too fresh to be picked open.

Rebekah catches the bartender's eye and makes a wave for another drink to be made. Nik isn't the only one who needs one now. She might need more than one. Or two. She turns on her stool and catches sight of Matt a bit away. They almost make eye contact so she turns again. She keeps her gaze firmly on the cool surface of the bar. Until Nik starts laughing, then she glares at her brother instead.

His eyes are a bit brighter when he says, "I really thought you to be better than this. He's a human, and the doppelganger's leftovers. Isn't there anyone more suitable for you in this town?"

Right, because there are just so many guys interested in her. It's not like having him for a brother is the world's largest deterrent for attention. He's not in a position to talk about her relationships. His longest relationship is with breaking his stupid hybrid curse. He ruins everything else, not only for himself but for her. She and Stefan could have been happy, but no he wanted to take off and run into the sunset away from Mikael. Then there's the fact that Damon uses her to find out ways to kill him. And Matt, who is just terrified of what they bring into his life and won't do more than talk to her on occasion, and even then it feels like he's mostly doing it out of pity since no one else will go near her. And don't even get her started on the subject of Nik himself.

She huffs, "You're an ass, Nik."

He chuckles and grabs at his drink as it slides in front of him. "And yet, you can't stay away from me." He takes a swig and peers at her out of the corner of his eye. He asks, "So what does that say about you?"

Rather than answering, Rebekah tosses back her drink.

...

Elena's drinking straight from the bottle. She'd get a glass, but that would require a bit too much thought. She can't spare any brain cells right now. She can't... She just can't anything but drink. She likes to drink.

Elijah clears his throat. She glances up from the counter to the table where he's still waiting on her.

He says, "You might want to slow down a bit."

She laughs a watery laugh. "If I slow down, then I might start crying. I'm not really ready to cry, Elijah. Just like I'm not ready to be whisked around the country by Klaus, or be in charge of raising Jeremy, or going to college, which I guess isn't really an issue anymore, is it?"

She got accepted into college. She hasn't told anyone because there's been so much else going on, but she got in to San Francisco State University. She only really applied to schools that were far away. She didn't think she'd actually go so why not try for the dream? A place where none of this stuff matters, where none of it could reach her, where she could be normal. Okay, the waterworks are starting. She feels it. She squeezes her eyes tight.

Elijah says, "It could be. Perhaps a study abroad program."

She laughs again, still watery but a bit less broken. "Right, I'll get on that." She glances down at the bottle and then up at him. She crosses over to the table and asks, "Can I say no? Is it possible that there's some way that I can say no to Klaus and not go?"

His lips purse. It almost looks like he's considering it, but his eyes say the answer she already knows he's about to voice. He sighs. "Not if you want your friends unharmed. You can postpone it a bit. Give your goodbyes, but you cannot refuse to join Niklaus. He will do whatever it takes to get you on his side. You know that, Elena."

She does. She sits down into her chair. Feels the tears a little stronger. She whispers, "I don't think I can handle this."

Elijah watches her a moment, seems to weigh his options, and then one of his hands comes to cover hers. It's warm, too warm for someone who's supposed to be dead, too soft for someone who should be against her, too comforting. Too everything. It's all just too much. Yet, she flips her hand over so she can squeeze his hand back.

...

I have died every day waiting for you,
Darling, don't be afraid I have loved you
For a thousand years,
I'll love you for a thousand more.

Rebekah groans at the music, dropping her head onto the bar. She almost wishes she was human just to feel the cool of the stone against her forehead. It'd be nice to feel something other than self-hatred swallowing her up. She's an idiot.

"I'm starting to see the novelty of this place," Nik says. He's actually fully seated upright with a grin on his face by this point. She'd applaud her success if she didn't sense some sort of awful comment to follow. "The sheer number of mindless, pathetic humans here makes it worth the trip. I mean, I've been to a lot of pubs, but this one, where the teenagers simply stroll up and get drinks without even needing a card, well, that's why this place is in business. That why you like it, Bekah? Or is it the staff that keeps you coming back?"

She barks, "Sod off, Nik. Let it go. I'm not having this conversation with you."

"You wanted to talk. I'm talking now."

"Well, I'm not." She pushes herself up from her stool. He reaches out to stop her but she yanks her arm away. The force of the pull sends her tumbling back a bit, right into Matt's arms. She stiffens at the feel of them around her. This is just her luck. So freaking perfect.

"Hey, you okay?" Matt asks, and there's this kindness in his eyes, this protective worry that makes her feel even worse about herself. It's almost like he cares about her, but no matter how much he cares, he will never be with her. No one will. No one will love her the way that she needs to be loved because no one can. No one even seems to want to.

"No, I'm not," she answers. She starts walking away again and stops to look at Nik. She tells him, "Don't follow me, Nik. You win. We won't talk anymore."

"But I'm so curious! I care so much about you!" He calls after her. She'd throw back a 'bite me' but that response has lost its potency over the last thousand years. Besides, the only person doing any biting today will be Rebekah herself, and boy is she dying to do it.

...

"They're gonna kill me," Elena announces. She's traded the bottle for her cell phone. Damon's contact is open, waiting. She hits the lock button on her phone. She's not ready. She can't tell them. She knows exactly how it will go.

When she tells Damon, he'll fly off the handle. He'll call her an idiot and say they can't trust Klaus, or Elijah. He'll curse Stefan for giving back the white oak stakes and even talk about going to get the fancy one from Ric's tomb. He'll say he doesn't care if he dies so long as she's safe. And then he'd come over and try to fight Elijah even though he isn't the problem.

When she tells Stefan, he'll ask her why she doesn't just stay and fight. Klaus can't exactly take her without killing all of them. They'll do anything to save her. Blah blah blah. She'll say she has to go, and he'll agree but secretly go along with whatever crazy plan Damon has to undermine the whole thing and kill Klaus, which again means that they all die and she's left in a land without vampires. Well, most of them anyway.

Elena groans.

Elijah says, "I would never allow anyone to hurt you."

That's not possible. Maybe he can stop people from punching her or biting her, but how can he stop them from hurting her if it's emotional? Or mental? Not being around her family hurts her. Is he going to bring them all with her to stop that? Television shows hurt her. Is he going to change the writing and let the characters be happy? No, he's not. He can't protect her from everything. It's not his responsibility either. Exactly whose responsibility it is she can't decide yet. She doesn't want to decide yet.

She holds a little tighter to Elijah's hand, pulls comfort from it. She doesn't need to decide between Salvatores right now. She's got bigger problems to deal with. Like the sudden knocking at the door.

Knock. Knock. Knock.

It continues. Elena sighs and rises up. She drops Elijah's hand as she does so, but he still follows her to the door. It's not necessary. Bonnie or Caroline's probably at the door. Caroline most likely. Clean up committee is this morning so the blonde probably wants to rope Elena into spending the next few hours returning the gym to its normal disgusting shape.

Yeah, that's not happening.

Elena opens the door and -

"Rebekah?"

This blonde grimaces at simply the sound of her name. She looks beyond Elena to Elijah and says, "He wants his stupid hybrids. Let him have them. We can do what we please without him."

Elijah says, "Niklaus can not be left alone. You know that."

"I am so sick of him, Elijah. He's awful. I do not know how I put up with him for so long and now I can't even handle one morning with him without wanting to rip his throat out."

Elena gulps at the phrasing. Both originals turn to her after that act. It kind of makes her regret the drinking. Buzzed vampire fighting is drunk vampire fighting, and that's just a really, really bad idea.

Rebekah meets Elena's gaze. Hers is impatient, flustered, and just a bit glassy. Rebekah says, "I didn't mean you, Elena. Though, I might if you don't get some manners and invite me in."

Elijah gives his sister a chastising look. Apparently he's the only one allowed to mention manners in their family. The honorable Elijah. So honorable that he doesn't even have to ask to be invited in time and time again. Meanwhile, Rebekah practically has to threaten her way in.

Elena hesitates before giving in. "Come inside, Rebekah."

"It's about time," Rebekah says. She crosses over the threshold and heads straight in towards the kitchen. Elena watches as she snatches up the discarded vodka and leans against the fridge. That explains the glassiness.

Elijah leans over Elena's shoulder and whispers, "Thank you."

Elena shrugs. "It's not a big deal." Elijah's eyes tell a different story. She gets the gist of it without having to truly think about it. She's accepting his family, which shows that her compassion knows no bounds, even in the face of turmoil. She's proving yet again that she's worth saving. And he's proving that he is too, from the little demons that plague him.

She wishes he were more open. She doesn't know much about him. He talks a lot about Rebekah and Klaus, but never enough about himself. She knows he doesn't like himself very much. He thinks he's no better than the rest of them. He knew Katherine and spent a lot more time with her than Klaus ever did. She's guessing he knew the original doppelganger too. But that's all it is, all she has, guesses. Well, if she winds up going, she might be able to get a few stories out of him. That's a plus.

"Hey!" Elena breaks eye contact to look at Rebekah. The blonde's got a judgmental face on, but she doesn't say anything about the little moment. She asks, "Where's Jeremy? Or Stefan? I'm surprised they let you out of their sight."

Why does everyone assume she needs a babysitter? "Jeremy's getting paint. Stefan's not here. He has his own house, Rebekah. So do you if you want to head over there."

Rebekah shakes her head. "No thanks. If I go home, Caroline might find me."

As if on cue, Elena's phone rings. She gets it from the table and nearly hits answer before she sees the name there. Alaric. All of those tears she thought she had pushed away and all of the mixed emotions started bubbling back up. This is not okay. She does hit answer and says, as calmly as she can, "Whoever this is, this isn't funny."

"And why would it be, Elena?" he asks. Ric asks. Ric. As in dead Ric, as in - fuck