It Split the Night
Elijah held Elena as she cried, silently cursing meddlesome Damon Salvatore who couldn't leave well enough alone. She'd been through enough in the past 24 hours - she didn't need to be worried for her brother's life as well. She'd been crying for less than two minutes before Kol and Rebekah came barging into his room, hastily straightening their clothing and running hands through their messy hair. Finn soon followed Kol and Rebekah, and immediately on Finn's tail was Klaus.
"What did you do?" Rebekah asked Elijah accusingly.
"It wasn't me," Elijah said mildly. Elena was still shaking in his arms. "But thank you all for your confidence in me. Can you perhaps think of anyone else who would cause her such distress?"
"Damon Salvatore," Rebekah hissed immediately.
"And what has Mr. Salvatore done this time?" Klaus asked. Would his family ever be free of those little boys and their antics? Well, Damon’s antics at least. Klaus didn’t mind Stefan’s antics most of the time…even if Stefan was screening his calls.
"He's going after Jeremy," Elena sobbed. "My brother is going to hate me!"
"Can't you just call and give Jeremy a heads up?" Klaus asked, bored already.
"Yes, sure!" Elena scoffed through her tears. "Hi, Jeremy, it's me, Elena. Blah blah boring conversation; oh, and by the way, I turned myself into a vampire and am living with people who have tried to kill you and have killed me! Make sure you're wearing your ring, because Damon's on his way and you're a favorite target of his!" Klaus had backed away - whether from her vehemence or her tears, the others weren't sure.
"When did he leave?" Kol asked.
"Damon or Jeremy?" Rebekah asked.
"Damon," Kol clarified through gritted teeth. ("There's no need to be snippy about it!" Rebekah snapped back.)
"Stefan's message said he left about ten minutes ago. With the way he drives he'll get to the airport in an hour," Elena said. "How could I do this? Oh, God, Jeremy. How is he ever going to forgive me?"
"You can think about ways to punish yourself later," Kol said. "We can get to the airport quicker which means we can throw a wrench into his plans." He was already planning the way he'd like to greet and humiliate the eldest Salvatore.
Elena just stared at him, tear-stained face turning hopeful.
"It’s an hour and a half to the airport and he takes an entire hour? Your old boyfriend clearly doesn't know how to drive," Klaus said. "And he obviously doesn't own a jet."
Elijah arched a brow at Klaus as Elena wiped at her eyes, scrambled to her feet, and began searching for her boots and belt. "You bought a jet?" he asked incredulously.
Klaus shrugged and took the suit jacket Finn handed him and threw it at Elijah, crinkling it on purpose. "I was bored."
"Boredom is solved by buying a jet?"
Kol, Rebekah, and Finn left, presumably to gather a few items.
"It sounded like the thing to do, yes!"
"Can we go now?" Elena asked impatiently. She was waiting by the door and carrying her black bag. "And he wasn't ever my boyfriend."
Elijah hurried about, grabbing a clean pair of socks and shoes. When he was ready, he found that Elena and the others were already out the front door. He cursed lowly and followed them.
Klaus, for his many faults (and Elena could name most of them from personal experience), was a great driver. Elena's eyes went wide when she saw the speedometer of the Maserati he was currently putting through its paces. "You're perfectly safe," he said casually. "And I guarantee you've never ridden in a car this nice."
Elena looked in the rear view mirror to see the four others cramped together. It was so tight that Rebekah was sitting on Kol's lap. It had to be very uncomfortable sitting back there and Elena said as much.
"It is not as terrible as you think," Finn assured her. "Many things are preferable to the coffins."
(She saw Klaus stiffen in irritation out of the corner of her eye.)
"Also it's a fairly quick drive - and there will be room to stretch out on the jet. At least that’s the impression I’ve gotten from Klaus," Kol added as his hands started to roam.
"Not in my car!" Klaus admonished, clenching his gloved hands tighter on the steering wheel.
Rebekah pouted and Kol scowled. On either side of them Finn and Elijah just shook their heads. Elena couldn't help but smile, a reaction that would have been bizarre this time yesterday - the behavior between them was something that should repulse her. Yet they'd lived for over a thousand years; surely after that long, some rules just didn't matter? And she could hardly judge... she had slept with all of them at once.
"This isn't the way to Richmond International," Elena said suddenly.
"That's because we're not going there. I keep the jet at a smaller airport with less coming and goings," Klaus explained, never once taking his eyes off the road.
"Okay then," Elena replied. Why was nothing ever simple with these people?
They drove on, the Originals in the back clearly ready for the drive to be over; Klaus clearly enjoying breaking every traffic rule he could; and Elena clearly trying her best to stay calm and keep her emotions under control.
"And here we are, with time to spare." Klaus pulled the car into a drive marked 'private.'
"I'm surprised we didn't pass Damon's car leaving Mystic Falls," Elena said. "Unless we were just going that fast."
(She wasn't surprised they hadn’t been pulled over; Klaus seemed to have that kind of luck.)
After a few minutes they came to a small warehouse where a jet was already waiting near a runway. They parked in the warehouse ("One scratch on her and I'll murder your entire family," Klaus threatened the warehouse worker.) and as soon as they left the vehicle Elijah sped off.
Before Elena could protest, Klaus reassured her. "He's just going to make a phone call and ensure that a certain major airline flight to Denver is delayed for a few hours," he said. "Shall we? He'll be along in a few minutes."
The rest of them were already boarding and Elena allowed Klaus to escort her up the stairs and into the jet. "How are you going to get clearance so fast for take-off and landing?"
"Elijah is very persuasive, as you well know."
She settled in one of the chairs and gave Klaus a pointed look when he tried to take the open seat next to it. He looked over to where Kol and Rebekah were currently horizontal on the couch and grimaced. "The things I do for you," he muttered to her. He went over to the mini bar to pour himself a drink, and upon seeing the irritated look Finn was wearing poured a second glass.
Elena snorted and sat back, her mind racing. How could she have done this to Jeremy? He was her brother. A girl just didn't turn herself into a vampire and leave her brother to the wind. She was also dreading the fact that she’d have to explain that she’d had him compelled, again. There was no other way, especially since she felt honor-bound to let him know that it was safe to return to Mystic Falls. He was going to hate her, and Elena felt like she really and truly deserved it.
"Everything is going to be fine," Elijah said, sitting down next to her. He signaled something to Klaus, who went to the cockpit. Elena left her own seat and moved to sit in his lap. As soon as his arms went around her she calmed down, fractionally.
She felt the jet begin to move, taxing its way to take-off. Not one of them bothered with seat belts. She shifted closer to him. "How can you know that?"
"Because he's your family and he loves you." Elena rested her head on his shoulder. "Elena, he'll be upset and angry, but he could never hate you."
"Everything was happening so fast and I completely forgot about him! What does that say about me? Who forgets their own brother?"
The jet picked up speed and before Elena knew it, they were roaring into the air.
"The past 24 hours have been hectic and life-altering for you in ways very few could ever hope to understand. You lost your life and gained a new one. Still, you stood your ground against those who would tear you down for your actions. He may not have been in the forefront of your thoughts, but you are not the kind of person who would forget her brother completely."
"I've tried so hard to keep Jeremy away from all of this. He was furious with me the last time I had Damon compel him and I did it again to keep him safe."
"Why did you have to send him away?" came Kol's voice.
"Klaus was using him to get to me," Elena answered. She explained that terrible day when Jeremy had nearly been killed by a hybrid driving an SUV. "I couldn't let anything else happen to him so I sent him away. Or rather, I had Damon send him away."
"Really, Nik?" Rebekah asked. "Going after her brother?"
Finn and Kol were giving him judging looks and the tips of Klaus's ears started to turn red. Even Elijah was eying him with some distaste. "Stefan had stolen the lot of you and I was counting on him caring enough about Elena, and by extension young Jeremy, that he'd give you all back in order to keep him safe. Clearly I was wrong," Klaus said defensively.
Finn just shook his head while Rebekah and Kol thought Klaus's words through. They finally seemed to accept his excuse, though grudgingly. Elijah, however, continued to eye Klaus with a less-than-pleased look. "Why couldn't you have just gone after Damon? Stefan's brother?"
And the three of them were back to glaring at Klaus. "Why are we even debating this?"
Rebekah snorted. "You wonder why no one ever wants to play with you."
"Your family was stolen and you punished someone else's brother, a boy who was not involved?" Finn muttered. "It is a dishonor on this entire family."
"It's not like he ever learns. You should have seen what he did to Katerina Petrova's entire family," Kol muttered to Finn. Finn gave Kol an interested look and Kol mouthed 'Later.'
"It's not like I was entirely heartless!" Klaus protested, not liking the looks the five of them were sporting. "I had someone looking after him in Denver the entire time. He's safe as houses." He hoped they wouldn't notice the faulty logic; or continue to bring up the incident with Katerina's family.
"You sent a hybrid after Jeremy?" Elena nearly shouted.
"No, she's just a vampire. A very old vampire who is more than happy to do whatever I ask of her." He looked around. "Anyone for champagne?" It was a poor attempt at changing the subject.
Elijah squeezed Elena tightly and looked pleadingly at Klaus. "Please tell me you didn't send her."
Rebekah, Kol, and Finn snickered. A wicked smile played about Klaus's mouth. Elena looked at all of them in confusion. "Who?"
"Mary Porter," Elijah fairly groaned. "She's obsessed with us."
"We all had some fun with her back in the day," Kol grinned. "You might say Scary Mary was something of a groupie of ours. We said jump, she asked 'how high?' We said bare your neck, she bared her neck and her thighs." He smirked and shot his sister a sly glance. "Rebekah was her role model, naturally."
"And she's obsessed with all of you?" Elena asked.
"Elijah was her favorite," Rebekah fairly purred. "At least, he was after Finn was daggered."
"And will she-"
"Oh, she's going to hate you," Klaus said, completely misinterpreting what she was going to ask. "She won't say so, but she will."
"Elijah might get his very own cat fight!" Kol said enthusiastically. "I can't wait."
Elena rolled her eyes. "Can we please get back to the important issue here? How am I going to explain this to Jeremy?"
"This will be a difficult thing to explain, particularly as he sees Elijah as someone who betrayed you, and sees Klaus as the man responsible not just for your death, but also the death of your aunt," Finn said. Elena wondered who had given him the Cliffs Notes version of her life.
"Don't forget how Nik tried to kill him as well," Rebekah added helpfully.
"Well when it's put that way, you come off as a heartless, backstabbing bitch," Kol mused. "He's going to be furious."
Elena just curled tighter into Elijah and hung her head. "You're not helping," Elijah growled.
Kol shrugged. "Please, he's what? 16? 17? He'll get over it." He looked at Elena who was trying not to cry. "He will! Unless he's never gone behind your back to do something ridiculous."
"He and Bonnie magically sealed me in my own house once."
"Devious." Kol grinned approvingly. "I think I'm going to like him!"
Elena mustered up a smile, though she knew that were she still alive, her heart would be pounding wildly.
Two and a half uneventful (save Klaus trying to explain the internet to Finn, who was more out of touch with modern times than Rebekah or Kol) hours (and several drained blood bags – she was still so hungry) later they were touching down at Denver International Airport.
Elena hadn't seen the Fowlers in years. Old college friends of her mother, Elena had called them 'aunt' and 'uncle' since she was a little girl. They'd been very supportive and understanding of Jeremy's need to 'get away' from Mystic Falls after such a traumatic year.
They were surprised to see Elena and even more surprised that she'd brought an entourage. Yet Aunt Amy and Uncle Raymond cheerfully invited them all inside (Kol couldn't contain his grin, but all Finn had to do was grab the back of his neck and exert some pressure in order to tell him 'behave'.) and explained that Jeremy was doing very well. His grades were much higher than they'd been in Mystic Falls and he had made some nice young friends. He'd even thought about joining the baseball team in the spring.
By now Elena was getting ready to rip it all apart. Maybe coming here was a mistake-
"He's missed you so much, Elena," Uncle Raymond said. "We wondered why you didn't come out here as well, but Jeremy said you were in your senior year and serious with a young fella." He eyed Kol speculatively. (Kol managed to keep himself from preening, but only just.)
"Oh, Stefan," Elena clarified. "It didn't really work out. Too much baggage on both our ends." She tried to give a look that said 'High school romance, am I right?'
"Who are your friends? Not that we aren't happy to meet you, of course," Aunt Amy added.
"Elijah Mikaelson," Elijah introduced smoothly. "These are my siblings Finn, Niklaus, Kol, and Rebekah. We're actually here to visit an old family friend as well, and since Elena was wanting to surprise Jeremy, everything just seemed to fall into place."
"You have such old names," Uncle Raymond commented. "Kind of unique, at least around these here parts." He chuckled.
Kol grinned. "Our parents were sadists." Everyone had a good laugh. It was incredible how skilled his family members were at acting, they all knew how much Kol's words were the reality.
"Actually our parents had a shared interest in the early 1000s, when Vikings first attempted to settle this country," Elijah clarified.
"Scholars for parents - I could never figure out if it was a blessing or a curse," Aunt Amy said sympathetically. "My mother was a devoted student of psychology."
"Where is Jeremy?" Elena asked.
"Well, if he's not doing yard work for that nice Ms. Porter down the street, then he'll be at the batting cages."
Elena shot a quick glare at Klaus at the mention of Scary Mary. "You did say he was back into baseball," Elena said. "He hasn't even so much glanced at a game since before our parents died."
"I think he uses the batting cages as a way to think. He spends a lot of time drawing, too. He let me look at his work once, it looked like something for one of those graphic novels kids read these days, with vampires of all things." Uncle Raymond shook his head with a smile. "The things you kids come up with nowadays."
Rebekah and Elena just gave (false) bashful smiles. "I think I'll go and find him," Elena said. "The batting cages are still by Carmenisch Park, right?"
"Yes!" Aunt Amy laughed. "I remember when you two visited last. You were thirteen and upset because all Jeremy wanted to do was visit that park and you were missing Shark Week."
Elijah and the others looked at her curiously and Elena tried not to fidget. Of course Aunt Amy would remember that adolescent phase of hers (that she'd never actually grown out of, truthfully). 'Shark Week?' she saw Finn mouth at Rebekah, who shrugged.
"Well, I do believe that we'll take our leave. I think Kol would be interested in the batting cages and I'm sure Elena is eager to see her brother," Klaus spoke. He'd been unnervingly quiet - the entire situation at hand was unnerving, really.
They took their leave and Elena had to control herself when her aunt and uncle hugged her - she was very hungry and could hear the blood coursing around their necks. With promises to be back soon, they left.
They made a quick stop at a nearby clinic. Rebekah and Finn left the car, went inside, and then came out with an insulated cooler. Then they were heading to the park where Elena had been dragged as a young teenager who only wanted to camp out in front of the TV wearing a homemade foil-wrapped shark fin and swimming goggles.
The batting cages were similar to how Elena remembered them. She didn't recall wanting to kill and drink everyone in sight, however. Before she could spot Jeremy, Rebekah grabbed her to keep her from leaving the rented car. "You'll be wanting this," she said, handing her a blood bag. "I'm surprised you didn't go for those friends of yours."
Elena thanked her and drank the contents quickly. The burning in her throat subsided and she sighed in relief. "For a minute there, I was going to," she admitted. "It was just right there, just one little bite and I'd have..." she shook her head.
"It does get better," Rebekah told her. "It sounds trite, but it's the truth. We're okay because we've been doing this for centuries and for us a little goes a long way."
Elena nodded. "Hand me another one. I need to make sure I won't go after Jeremy." Also she was still very hungry. She had to keep reminding herself that it hadn't even been a full 48 hours since she was turned - to expect her control to be perfect would be aiming unreasonably high indeed.
When they left the car Elijah and Klaus were still hanging around. Klaus informed them that Kol was practicing his swing and Finn was curious as to what this whole baseball thing was about. "He's missed so much," Klaus mused.
One day someone was going to have to tell her why Finn had been daggered, Elena thought. He seemed remarkably relaxed about the entire issue, aside from being woefully ignorant of some of the modern world's realities. She could only imagine what it was like to wake up one day and find that 900 years of history had passed. There was also another reason why Elena was so curious: he was the only person of whom Kol appeared to be wary. That by itself made him positively fascinating.
"Are you ready?" Elijah asked, bringing her out of her thoughts.
Elena nodded. "Just-" she steeled herself and looked up him with trusting eyes. "Just stick close by."
Jeremy was hitting ball after ball. That he was actually making contact was impressive - he'd not played in several years. A few cages over, Elena could make out Kol, who was also doing quite well (though she heard him muttering his disgust at the metal bat). Finally Jeremy's session ended and Elena saw her moment.
Jeremy did a double take and then broke out into a wide grin. He took off his helmet and set it on the ground as he left the cage. Engulfing her in a tight hug, Jeremy laughed softly. "I've missed you."
He pulled back and Elena smiled. She didn't feel the urge to drink him at all. He noticed her staring at him in wonder and waved his hand in front of her face to snap her out of it. "Elena?"
She'd thought of so many things she could say, had rehearsed speeches upon speeches in her head, played out various scenarios from a full-on reconciliation for everything they'd ever done to each other to a complete nightmare where Jeremy condemned her, spat his hatred of her and lopped her head off with an axe. She'd had ideas...and yet none of them were the words that slipped out of her mouth, unbidden. "We need to talk."
Jeremy nodded, his expression indecipherable. "About the fact that you had me compelled again or the fact that you're a vampire?"
It was the straw that broke the camel's back, after everything she'd been through in the past day and a half. She couldn't help it; she burst into tears. Upon seeing and misreading Jeremy's newly horrified countenance, she cried even harder.
"Now we're getting somewhere!" Kol said cheerfully, joining his family.
Elijah was going to smack him upside the head, but Finn beat him to it.
Elena and Jeremy walked around the park, talking. He'd calmed her down from her hysterics, which only increased her guilt. She shouldn't have been receiving comfort from Jeremy who was clearly the wronged party. He'd assured her he didn't hate her - he knew her so well - and they'd begun to walk away from curious, staring eyes. (Not that it stopped Elijah and his family from following and listening in at a respectable distance.)
"So you already know?" Elena asked.
Jeremy nodded. "Yeah."
"Did Damon call you?"
Puzzled, Jeremy shook his head. "Damon hasn't tried to contact me since I left. What does he have to do with this? Beside you having him compel me to leave?"
Elena sighed. "I got a message from Stefan telling me Damon was on his way to the airport to come here. He was really upset when he found out that I turned myself into a vampire. I assumed he'd have called you or something, since we thwarted his master plan of flying here."
"You thought he'd tell me everything," Jeremy concluded.
She nodded. "Or that he'd hurt you to hurt me." She flashed back to the night when she'd held Jeremy's lifeless body in her arms, a victim of Damon's anger and hurt at her rejection of him.
"Well, even if he had made it out here, I have this nifty little ring that keeps me from staying dead." Jeremy wiggled his fingers and sure enough, Elena saw the Gilbert family ring. "Damon's a dick but I can handle him."
"That's not the point," Elena said. "I couldn't let him hurt you because of me. And I couldn't let him tell you what it was my responsibility to tell."
"That you're a vampire now?" He asked sadly. "You never wanted to be one, Elena. The other night when you told me what was about to happen, I thought I was just dreaming-"
"Wait," Elena stopped him. "What do you mean I told you? I was in Mystic Falls the entire time. I didn't tell anyone what I was doing."
"You came to me, Elena, as a ghost. You told me that you'd died, but that it was okay, because you were going to come back and no one would be able to hurt us anymore. You said that no matter how much you changed, you'd always love me and look out for me. You said that it was your choice." He stared off into the distance. "It was pretty surreal too. There was one hell of a thunderstorm raging and this giant flash of lightning that all but split the night. Then you appeared."
"I don't remember any of that," Elena said quietly. "Maybe it happened when I was in transition?"
Jeremy shrugged. "I don't know how it happened, I just know that it was one of the worst nights of my life. I dreamt that I lost my sister." He rubbed suspiciously at his eyes. "And now I know that it wasn't a dream."
"I am so sorry, Jeremy, for hurting you like this."
"Did you mean it? You chose this?"
Helpless, Elena nodded. "Yes. Elijah and Klaus's mother was going to kill all her children. I couldn't let that happen. Klaus may have deserved it but Elijah and the others didn't. Mostly."
"Elijah screwed you over, Elena. He was promised to kill Klaus and then when it was time he saved him! Klaus killed Aunt Jenna and nearly killed me. He killed you! Not to mention the fact that his sister hates you."
"Elijah found out his siblings weren't lost. He betrayed me to get his family back, that's the only reason." She always seemed to jump to his defense.
Jeremy snorted. "And the others?"
"I'll never forgive Klaus for what he did, Jeremy, not ever. There is nothing he could ever do to make up for what he's done to me, to our family and friends, and especially to you. But I can't hate him forever, Jer, I just don't have it in me. Rebekah was just lost and frightened and lashed out at a convenient target. As for the others...they never asked to be what they are; none of them did." She shook her head, rueful. "I know it makes me a terrible person, but I'm so tired of all the fighting."
"At least I know you're still you," Jeremy said finally, with a hint of a smile. "Elena Gilbert, champion of the lost, the emotionally wounded, and the damned. The girl who never gives herself enough credit, and who used to be a lot more fun."
"Only now I'm those things on crack," Elena said self-deprecatingly. "Hey! I'm still fun!"
Jeremy snorted. "So what exactly happened, when everyone found out?"
Elena told him what was essentially the whole story; omitting a few choice details such as how that night had gotten far more sexual than any of them had intended. (She really was going to have to stop obsessing over the whole matter.) "What I later found out was that Esther's plan would have killed me anyways, along with every vampire in existence."
"Bummer," was all Jeremy could think to say.
The two of them shared a look and then laughed.
"So you found out about the compulsion," Elena brought up, knowing that it would have to be addressed sooner or later. "How?"
"This vampire lady I know," Jeremy said. "I knew what she was right away - she's pretty obvious. But being around her was kind of normal, at least for us." He shrugged. "I started doing yard work and jobs for her, just to stay busy. Then one day she tried to kiss me. The thing is, she's kind of freaky and I said no, and she didn't like that too well. She snapped my neck."
The Originals' number one fan or not, Elena was going to stake that bitch. Jeremy saw the look on her face and hastened to add, "It's okay! I came back!"
"That's not the point!" Elena said furiously. "She killed you! All because you weren't hot for her."
"Anyways, I remembered what happened as I came gasping back to life on her kitchen tiles." Jeremy looked at her and swallowed. "I'm not going to forgive you, Elena. Not right now." Elena nodded sadly. "I know why you did it and I don't have to imagine how desperate you were, because I've been there. But Elena, you let him mess with my mind, again. You knew how I felt about that."
"I'm sorry, Jeremy. I'm so sorry. I couldn't lose you." She felt tears welling up in her eyes.
"I know," Jeremy said, hugging her tightly. "I don't hate you. I could never hate you, Elena. You're my sister."
The tears fell down her face she held him as tightly as she dared. "I missed you so much, Jer. So much."
"I missed you too."
"I don't know what she was so worried about," Rebekah said. "No one ever stays mad at her."
"Family feuds are the most devastating, Rebekah," Elijah said. "And everything she feels is much deeper now. This is only the beginning."
"I'm getting bored," Kol said.
"Really? I find all of this most fascinating." Finn was watching Jeremy and Elena intently.
Klaus just rolled his eyes.
They made another circuit around the park, discussing this and that. It was the most normal she'd felt since before she'd offered to save Elijah and his family.
Jeremy liked Denver. He enjoyed a school that wasn't hosting dances every other weekend and having friends that weren't elbow-deep in the supernatural. He enjoyed old hobbies like baseball and drawing. But he still missed home; more so since he'd died and remembered what he'd been compelled to forget.
He must have seen the question she was afraid to ask written all over her face. "I don't know. I do miss everyone, but I don't know if I can just pack up and leave."
Elena nodded. "I understand. It's selfish to even ask."
Jeremy glared at her. "You've got to stop doing that!" he said, exasperated. "You have to realize that you're not some terrible person, Elena. You're not a burden and you never were."
Elena opened her mouth to protest and Jeremy cut her off. "You're a good person. You can be reckless and too selfless for your own good, but you're a good person. And one day you're going to see yourself the way we all do." He grabbed her arms and looked at her intently. "I'm not thrilled that you turned yourself into a vampire; but vampire or not, you're still my sister and I would do anything for you."
"And I'd do anything for you, too."
"That's why we're family," Jeremy said. "And apparently I have in-laws now." He stared pointedly over her shoulder and Elena turned her head to see Elijah and the others, who didn't even bother to pretend that they weren't listening in.
"It was for him, wasn't it? Elijah?"
Elena looked at Jeremy. There was no derision on his face, no judgment or shaming. She nodded. "I couldn't let him die, Jeremy. I just couldn't. The thought that he wouldn't-" She shook her head. "Him and me... There's just been this... thing, between us, even when we've done terrible things to each other. Something always brings us back."
Jeremy nodded. "I know the feeling." He quietly added, "I'd have done anything for her." Anna, Elena thought.
"Think we ought to go give them a piece of our mind for listening in?" Elena asked. "Or should we walk around some more and make them suffer?"
Jeremy laughed. "Look at Fun-Elena, making an appearance."
Elena curtsied cheerfully.
It felt as though they were being sized up and found terribly wanting. Jeremy seemed to see right through them, through the individual (and combined) posturing and façades they'd all adopted in order to cope with an eternal existence. The prestige of being them, the oldest and most powerful vampires to walk the earth, was nothing in Jeremy's eyes and to feel so raw and transparent was disconcerting.
"I suppose they'll do," Jeremy said to Elena finally. He looked at Klaus dismissively. "You're still a colossal dick, though." (Kol grinned and eyed Jeremy excitedly as though he'd just found a new best friend.)
"We are ever at your service," Elijah told him sincerely. "No harm will come to you at our hands."
"Just don't hurt her, okay?" Jeremy asked him. "I still can't understand why she felt it was so important to save you, but she did, and gave her life to do it." He was curious about the man Elena couldn't seem to help but trust and care for.
Elijah nodded. "It is a sacrifice I shall strive every day to honor."
"Are you done playing protective brother, yet?" Elena asked, thoroughly amused at the Originals' discomfort at Jeremy's presence.
Jeremy shrugged and smirked. "I figured I'd get my licks in while I could. I can't wait to hear how Alaric deals with this." The grin he gave Elena was sly. "He's gonna be thrilled to learn more about his extended family."
Elena laughed as their faces became (and she hadn't been sure it was possible) even uneasier.
"How much more family do you have?" Klaus asked in a near-whine.
"Considering that you've made it your life's mission to kill just about all of us, not a lot," Jeremy snapped. "So suck it up."
Klaus rolled his eyes as the others again shot him condemning looks at the mention of his trespasses against Elena and her family. Elijah wore a displeased expression Elena knew well. Kol was shaking his head and Rebekah was glaring. Finn, though, had one hell of a 'judging you' face, Elena thought.
"Can we all just stop this?" she finally asked. "I have a groupie to stake." The others looked at her sharply, surprised. "You really didn't think I was going to let her get away with it?"
"We'll discuss it later," Elijah said, putting a hand on her shoulder. "For now, I do believe we are drawing attention to ourselves."
Indeed they had several on-lookers, curious about the seven people who were huddled together in the middle of a park, talking intently. Elena was briefly snapped out of her vengeful mind-set; she could only imagine how strange they must look to everyone else. She glanced sheepishly up at Elijah, who simply nodded. "Perhaps a place more private?"
Elena had insisted on riding home with Jeremy. (Rebekah was pleased she wouldn't have to share the back bench seat of the SUV for the trip, though Kol had pouted.) Elena enjoyed the sight of her brother behind the wheel of the old truck that Uncle Raymond had driven them around in as children. It was a small piece of normal that she'd nearly forgotten.
"What are you going to do about Damon?" Jeremy asked.
Elena sighed. "It's complicated, Jer. I remember things now, things he made me forget."
"What kinds of things?"
"He told me he loved me when I wasn't wearing my old necklace."
"That seems harmless enough," Jeremy said, though he obviously wasn't pleased that Damon had erased her memories.
"And I remember meeting him the night Mom and Dad came to pick me up from that party."
Jeremy pulled the truck over to the side of the residential area they were driving through and parked it. "That was months before you met Stefan at school." He shook his head. "You met him first?"
"I know, it's bizarre," Elena said. "He was just laying in the middle of the road - waiting for some poor passerby, obviously - and he thought I was Katherine, at first."
"We had a moment, and then Mom and Dad showed up and he said he wanted me to get everything I desire, and that he wanted me to forget the entire thing had happened."
Jeremy was quiet as he thought it over, processing her words. And then, "How come you didn't remember this when Klaus killed you to break his curse?"
Elena shook her head. "I don't know. I've tried so hard to forget everything about that entire ritual. Even Aunt Jenna," she admitted guiltily. She'd never shared that with anyone, before.
"I don't blame you, Elena. Anyone else would have completely snapped." Jeremy was looking at her, concerned. "What does this mean for you and Damon?"
"I don't know. Damon is...I know I love him. I just-" she shook her head helplessly. "I'm not in love with him." She stared out the window, watching a pair of young boys playing catch on their front lawn. "Stefan and Damon are just..." she sighed in frustration. "None of it ever would have worked out. If I picked one over the other it would have destroyed them. I was so unfair to both of them."
"The Salvatores just make things complicated, I guess," Jeremy said. "Maybe you did them a favor, letting both of them go."
"I hope so," she said. "I hate seeing either of them upset."
"Well, now you have a whole new family of siblings to tear apart," Jeremy said. "I'm kidding! I'm kidding!" he added hastily at Elena's horrified and hurt look. "They seem pretty close."
"You have no idea," Elena said. "A thousand years and all they had were each other. You know, except for when Klaus had them daggered and in coffins."
"His interpretation of familial love is definitely loose," Jeremy agreed. "So, this whole thing with Elijah...are you going to be happy with him?" Like her friends, Jeremy wasn't Elijah's biggest fan.
Elena nodded and chose her words carefully. Everything had happened in such a dizzying rush and, truthfully, she was still trying to figure it out herself. She suspected she would be for a long while yet. "It's like he's everything I never knew I wanted. When I'm around him I feel powerful, like I'm capable of anything. And at the same time it's like I'm completely vulnerable, because he sees me. But it's okay, because I know he'd never hurt me. There's so much he can teach me about what I am: how to control the hunger, how to cope with living forever, all of it."
"What about the rest of them?"
Elena just shrugged. "We have something of an understanding."
"You have more than that," he scoffed. "Elena, they all came here with you, just because you were worried about me."
"There's nothing more important to them than family." Jeremy opened his mouth to argue, but Elena stopped him. "Klaus gave up on his hybrids because he knew his family was dead otherwise, and when Damon started acting out, Rebekah stood up for me." She looked at him. "They all knew I was doing it more for Elijah more than them."
"So what, now you're their family?"
"I guess so."
"Alaric's gonna freak."
Elena snorted. "It's going to be interesting," she allowed. "If anything, he'll probably live at the Grill for a while, when he's not teaching."
"Poor guy, he just can't get away from vampires." Jeremy saw Elena's face as she realized exactly what her turning would mean for Alaric. "Please don't start crying again!"
They ended up staying in Denver for the rest of the week. While Jeremy continued to stay with Uncle Raymond and Aunt Amy, Klaus had let out several suites at the Warwick. (He later compelled the staff to dismiss any damage that might have occurred to the rooms - particularly Kol's.) Elijah and Rebekah made a practice of taking Elena out into bustling crowds when she was hungry, insisting that learning control while locked up alone was useless. Each day was a little better and Elena fought back the hunger a little easier.
Jeremy, best of all, was very supportive. To Elena and Jeremy's surprise, Klaus had sent a driver to pick Jeremy up after school so that he and Elena would have more time to visit. The same driver would take him home before his ("Lame," Jeremy had proclaimed it) curfew. Elena was actually happy to see that he was finding something of a friend in Kol, who appeared delighted with the youngest Gilbert. (Normally she would have been worried that Kol would hurt him, but Kol not only shared Jeremy's interest in baseball but was apparently happy with anyone who considered both Damon Salvatore and Klaus to be Grade A Dicks.) Jeremy didn't make faces when Elena drank blood in front of him, or when her face changed if she became stressed or upset. And if he noticed any of the deeper looks Klaus, Kol, Rebekah, and Finn sometimes gave her (or in some cases, each other), he never said a word.
It was like living in her own little temporary haven - a place where Elena was safe, loved, and happy.
(Neither Elijah nor his siblings had the heart to tell her the she still had long ways to go before she was adjusted.)
One day Klaus returned to the hotel, grim faced. He looked at Elijah, who was sitting and explaining the fine art of wine to Elena. Kol and Rebekah were off downtown showing Finn 'this magic thing called a movie.' Jeremy was in school - otherwise Klaus was sure he'd be attached to Elena at the hip like he'd been since their arrival.
"It's taken care of," he said to Elijah over Elena's head. "She won't be a problem.
"She?" Elena asked, turning around sharply to face him. "Mary? You went after her without me?" She was furious and suddenly throwing something heavy and breakable felt like such a natural-
"You would have killed her," Elijah said.
"That's the point! She killed my brother! I was going to kill her right back!" How could they have denied her this?
"And you would have hated yourself for it," Klaus said, bored already. He snatched the glass of wine from her and downed it with little appreciation, making a rude gesture at Elijah's disapproving look.
"You are a great many things, Elena, but a killer you are not. I have no doubt that one day it will happen, yet it will most certainly be an extraordinary circumstance in which you take a life," Elijah said. "Your feelings are so much more potent right now, and they will overwhelm you if you allow them to."
Elena nodded reluctantly.
"I won't let you lose yourself," Elijah added. "I do assure you however that we will not make a habit of - what was it I heard young Jeremy call it the other day? - 'Pulling a Salvatore' when it comes to your life."
In spite of herself, Elena laughed. Jeremy had been delighting Kol with tales of life back in Mystic Falls, when the topic of Damon and Stefan inevitably came up. Elena had just rolled her eyes, but Kol was game for just about any story in which the two brothers were bested; and, like Finn and eventually Rebekah, he became indignant on Elena's behalf when he heard of some of the stunts they'd pulled involving her and others.
"Thank you," Elena said sincerely. "Both of you."
"Mary won't be a problem, like I said." Klaus smiled darkly. "She should have known better than to disobey me. Jeremy should be very well-off indeed."
"What exactly did you do to her?" She hated herself for asking...and for hoping that it was something terrible.
"There was a fair bit if torture - the kind that wouldn't get her hot and bothered." Elijah grimaced and not for the first time, Elena thought about what dark skills her new family must have. "And she will be Jeremy's most devoted servant until he decides to return to Mystic Falls - in an inconspicuous way, of course."
"What about after?"
"She'll pull her teeth out, one by one, inject herself with vervain, stab herself with-"
"Okay! I got it!" Elena said hastily.
"I hadn't even gotten to the best parts yet," Klaus pouted.
"Niklaus, leave it," Elijah said. "I believe you've made your point." He spoke next in what Elena assumed was his first language and Klaus answered back in turn before smiling cheerfully.
"Wine 101," Klaus said, picking up and swirling a bottle. Apparently discussion about Scary Mary was over. "Tell me, Elena, has my brother gotten to the part where most famed, lost or stolen, priceless bottles of wine are, in fact, in his possession?" he asked as he poured Elena another glass.
"No," Elena said with surprise, accepting the glass and tasting it as Elijah had been teaching her. "He wasn't quite there yet." She gave Elijah an appraising look.
Elijah merely smirked and took another sip from the glass he held.
The goodbyes to Uncle Raymond and Aunt Amy were heartfelt, at least on Elena's part. (She didn't think Elijah or his siblings were particularly attached, though they were unfailingly polite.)
Saying goodbye to Jeremy was painful, but he promised to call her and video chat and come for a visit soon. He and Kol had even exchanged phone numbers and discussed something about fantasy baseball. Elijah received Jeremy's assurance that he would contact the Mikaelsons if he ever needed assistance of any sort and Jeremy received Elijah's unspoken word that Elena would be well cared for.
Several bags of chilled, untouched blood were returned to the clinic (and the staff happily compelled to forget anything out of the ordinary) at Elena's insistence ("I can manage until we get home.").
The jet was boarded and soon, Elena and her family - it still felt somewhat weird calling them that - were on their way back to Mystic Falls.
("Where are Finn, Kol, and Rebekah?" Klaus asked.
"Check the back of the jet behind the privacy screens," Elijah said unconcernedly. Elena was curled up in the chair next to him; she'd fallen asleep as soon as she'd sat down
"I'd rather not." Klaus poured himself a stiff drink.)
Nothing had changed in Mystic Falls. Most residents were oblivious and looking forward the next Founder's Council or Historical Society event. It was soothing, almost, to know that the world hadn't stopped spinning while she'd been dead and gone. (She supposed she was like most other teenage girls in kind of feeling that it had been a possibility.)
She sent a text message to Matt asking him to meet her the next day for lunch at the Grill and he'd replied yes. She'd decided to give Alaric a few more days before asking to meet with him. Caroline had called ("What do you mean you're in Denver?") and let her know that both Alaric and Matt were okay, but that the two of them had taken Elena's actions quite hard. ("I can't blame them though - all the people they care about keep turning supernatural. That's got to be hard to take.")
Before she could set things right with Matt or Alaric, however, Elena had some unfinished business.
Stefan greeted her with a smile when he opened the door. "It's good to see you." He stepped back to let her in. "How was your trip?"
"It was good," Elena said. "It was...it was exactly what I needed. Is Damon here?"
Stefan grimaced. "I don't think it's a good idea-"
Elena quickly moved past him and sped upstairs. In a matter of seconds she was in Damon's room. He was just coming out of the shower; a towel slung low around his waist and did a double take when he saw her. Recovering, he took his usual low-ground approach. "Didn't anyone ever tell you how rude it is to go into someone's room without knocking?"
"Just following your shining example," Elena shot back.
"How was Denver?" Damon asked cockily.
"It was great," Elena said, crossing her arms in satisfaction. "Especially since you couldn't make it after all. Sorry about that flight of yours."
"What flight? Damon never tried to go to Denver." Stefan stood in the doorway, looking very confused.
Elena looked back and forth between them, a similar expression on her face. "What are you talking about? You sent me the message saying Damon had left!"
"Elena, I never sent you a message," Stefan insisted.
Damon smirked. "Nothing like a little texting mischief," he said. He looked over her shoulder at Stefan. "You should be more careful about leaving your phone laying about."
"I don't understand," Elena said. "Why would you want me to think you were going to Denver after Jeremy?"
"So that you would go to Denver," Damon said simply. He moved about his room, getting dressed and completely ignoring her and Stefan. When he saw her still-puzzled face, Damon sped close to her, shirt in hand. He looked at her with an unfathomable expression. "You just turned yourself into a vampire. You needed your brother."
He turned away and was just pulling on his shirt when Elena slowly touched his shoulder. "Thank you," she said. She really meant it, too.
A too-casual "Whatever," was his only reply as he left the room and then, she heard, the house.
Stefan approached her and walked her downstairs. "Surprisingly the most he's done is get drunk and try to light his car on fire," he said of Damon. "He's still hurt but maybe one day he'll realize that it was never about him to begin with. Just like I realized that it wasn't about me." They were almost to the door. "And there's something that you need to know."
Elena looked at him to indicate he should tell her.
"Semester break is coming up soon. I've already sat my finals. Damon and I are leaving Mystic Falls." At Elena's crestfallen face, he hastened to add, "It's not just because of you or the thing with the Originals. This place hasn't been good for us lately and we need a change of scenery. We're finally starting to get along and repair all the damage we've dealt to each other. We can't keep it up here, not with things the way they are."
Elena nodded, sad but understanding. Klaus and his family had been very destructive towards Damon and Stefan, had pushed them past their limits. She couldn't expect them to hang around, watching her immerse herself in her relationship with Elijah and his family - all of whom Stefan and Damon had wanted dead (and most likely still did). It would be unfair of her to ask them to stay and Elena knew that. She had to let them go, and selfishly she was grateful they'd decided that themselves.
"It's not for forever," Stefan said with a sad smile. "We'll all see each other in about sixty years or so." He smiled blandly. "I've promised Caroline that I'd keep in touch, so naturally you'll know my every move right down to what color shirt I'm wearing."
His words had the desired effect and Elena laughed. "I understand," Elena said. "And tell Damon... Tell him I hope he finds all that he's looking for. Same for you, too," she added. She hugged Stefan goodbye, knowing that she probably wouldn't be seeing him again before he and Damon left town.
Elena forced herself not to walk past her house; she wasn't sure that she'd be able to stop herself from knocking on the door. Instead she leisurely made her way back to the Mikaelson mansion. She was ready to go home - home to Elijah and home to Elijah's (and now hers too) gloriously dysfunctional family. She, Elena Gilbert, had found a new home. And she was going to be happy.