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He is alone in the study, and she is grateful for it since it means she doesn’t have to usher anyone out. She closes the door with enough force to alert him to her presence and straightens up when he spins to face her.

She sees it in his eyes, the barest flicker of awe; it goes as quickly as it comes and she is left staring into the dark.

“Elena,” her name drips from his tongue, no matter how high the walls he erects he can’t keep the syllables from coming out in a soft exhalation.

“Elijah,” she returns. It’s their way – or maybe it’s his way. She can’t help but remember how he had greeted her in the gazebo. Her name sounds nicer from his lips than Katharine’s does; that hard ‘k’ makes everything sound harsh and puts her in mind of the cruel vampire who shares her face; by comparison her name is a lover’s caress sliding from his lips to glide over the shell of her ear.

His question breaks her from her thoughts, reminding her why she is in the city in the first place because while her name is a soft whisper his eyes do not match his tone.

“What are you doing here?”

It’s harsh and cruel with the faintest hint of a cocky smirk, and she knows in that moment why the concern was raised. This is not the man she has come to know; this is the Original that ripped off Trevor’s head with a single savage blow; this is the vampire who tore the still beating hearts from her would be assailants’ chests without batting an eye; this is the Elijah who had been prepared to kill his own brother.

“I got a call,” she shrugs, “apparently you’ve ‘snapped’…” she walks the length of the room, examines the artefacts he keeps on the study’s book shelves, “… you’re ‘off the rails’… gone ‘postal’.”

She glances over her shoulder, sees the barest traces of amusement around the corner of his mouth, but it doesn’t reach his eyes; they are cold, calculating, shielded.

She’s still not sure why she got the call. There must be someone better equipped to deal with the situation; someone closer to him than her. They’ve barely spent any time together during their short acquaintance. She doubts that she has left the same impression on him that he has left on her.

“Who called you?” He stalks toward her.

Elena turns around and lets him cage her in against the shelves. Despite the rigid set of his shoulders and the distance behind his eyes she feels safe; he has never harmed her despite having ample reason to want her dead. She’s certain others have died for less serious offences than she has committed against his family, yet he has never hurt her; he’s gone out of his way to protect her.

There’s something predatory in his eyes, something heated in his stare; his gaze rakes over her features, lingering on her lips; she bites them, swallows, looks up. She can remember all too well the feel of his mouth, the gentle but insistent prods of his tongue: a kiss that had never been meant for her lips.

Would he be as gentle if he were to kiss her again? She supposes she’ll never know; he’s sworn to never feel for another doppelganger again, but the way he looks at her suggests he is not opposed to a second kiss, and perhaps a third and fourth.

Maybe he will. He doesn’t feel anything right now, anyway. She remembers what that was like; the only emotions that ever leaked through were bored annoyance and amusement.

“Who called you?” He repeats his question.

She realizes it’s been a beat too long since he asked the first time.

“It wasn’t Niklaus,” his eyes dance over her throat, lock on her carotid artery. It flutters under his gaze.

A vein darkens beneath his right eye and she wonders what he really looks like. She has seen Rebekah, Klaus and Kol, but he has always maintained his human features; even when he was starving after weeks in the Salvatore’s basement.

“Even if he knew to call you, he would know you’d never listen to him,” he wraps a lock of hair around his finger, rubs the silken strands with his thumb.

Her heart skips a beat. She knows his smirk is because of that. She decides to push his comment to the back burner and find out what he means by ‘knew’ later.

“It was Rebekah,” she tilts her head, feels his knuckles graze her jaw. Somehow during their Thelma and Louise moment they had struck up an uneasy alliance; it isn’t strong enough to be called friendship yet, but they have all of eternity before them to get there if they choose.

“Rebekah fled town months ago,” he cocks an eyebrow.

“She got a phone call,” Elena blinks. “She got a couple of phone calls, actually from Hayley. Plus Klaus and Caroline still talk occasionally. Also,” boldness overtakes her and she places her hand on his chest, “rumors are starting to spread.”

“What would those rumors be?” He drops his eyes to her hand.

It’s the strangest sense of déjà vu when she taps his chest, feels his heart pound. She’s back in the gazebo and half expects him to snatch her arm in an unbreakable grip.

“That I’ve gone ‘postal’,” he tests the word on his tongue, smirks and meets her eyes. “That I’m extremely and uncontrollably angry to the point of violence.”

“That was the rumor,” she nods, “but it’s not true.”

“Isn’t it?” He twists his lips into a perversion of a smile.

“No,” she shakes her head, “it’s not. You’re not angry, Elijah, because you’re not anything. You turned it off.”

She doesn’t stop to question how she can tell. It’s in the eyes, the smirk, and the veiled indifference.

“Why?”

“You know nothing about me,” his eyes narrow. “How could you possibly know that?”

He backs up, shakes his head, but she doesn’t let him go. She curls her fingers around his tie. He’s amusing her; she knows it because there is no way she could hold him otherwise.

“I know,” she steps with him, follows his short retreat. “Why did you do it?”

“It’s easier this way,” he shrugs. There is no use fighting her because she knows.

“I remember that,” she blinks, “but is it really easier to not feel anything?”

“Yes,” he nods, “I’ve grown tired of being underestimated Elena. My emotions have made me weak.” He walks her backwards, pins her again to the shelf. “I’ve done nothing but care for a thousand years and all it’s brought me is heartache; my emotions kept me from doing what is necessary to protect my family.”

“Can you even care about them without your emotions?” She exhales, tips her head up to meet his eyes.

“I don’t care,” he narrows his eyes, tilts his head.

She recognizes that she’s in dangerous territory and that she must chose her next words very carefully. There are two possible ways that this will end – that she can see, anyway – either she will drive a wedge between him and his siblings, or she’ll push him back towards them and the humanity he is keeping at bay.

“They’re your family,” she pleads with her eyes; even in her darkest days she retained her love for her brother. Under everything she knew he still cared; it was just a matter of how deeply he had buried his feelings. “Can’t you feel anything?”

“I don’t need emotions to feel Elena,” his eyes darken.

There is a hunger in his gaze that stirs something in her. It convulses swells and sends a shiver through her. It’s all she can do to keep from arching into him when he catches the small of her back.

His eyes search her face, cold and disinterested but still hungry. There is a ravenous hunger in his gaze that thrills her as much as it scares her.

“You’ve embraced yours.”

“A couple of months ago,” she confirms. She almost parrots back his words: ‘it would be a shame if the world lost a soul as compassionate as yours’.

“Pity,” he hums. She thinks she sees disappointment in his face. “It could have been fun.”

“What could have been fun?” Her brows lower in confusion. An impish grin lifts his lips and puts her in mind of his youngest brother; Kol doesn’t remain on her thoughts long though because Elijah moves and even with her enhanced senses she nearly misses it.

His mouth connects with hers, slanting in a deep kiss that is so far removed from the gentle one he gave her in the gazebo. This – as Rebekah would say – is a proper ravishing, complete with a groping. His hands slide down her back, cup her behind and squeeze.

She gasps into his mouth. Pulling back to breath she sees the mess she has made of his hair and wonders when she ran her hands through it because the short strands are on end.

She tries to speak, but it comes out as a squeak. His answering smirk is infuriating and she hates that he knows how he can affect her.

She is dazed, and she remembers the feeling well. He took her by surprise in the gazebo – nearly making her flip her emotions back on.

His hands are still on her ass. It takes her a second to realize her shock was his goal from the start. Determination fills her, and she vows that she will not be the only one in his study wearing a thunderstruck look.

She wraps her hands around his neck, grasps the back of his head and plants her lips on his. The shock works to her advantage. She presses her chest to his, feels her breasts mold into a delicious new shape, and clutches him closer.

She pulls back after a moment. The surprise on his face thrills her, but he recovers fast and spins.

Elena blinks and clings to his shoulders to keep from tumbling over the arm of the leather sofa. His knee presses between her thighs and she knows that one little nudge will push her over the edge in more ways than one.

“Why did Rebekah send me?” She is breathing the words, scared to speak too loud and break whatever spell has descended on them.

“Perhaps my sweet sister wants me to kill you,” he lifts one hand, cups her cheek. “Shall I?”

“That’s not it,” she shakes her head.

Something flickers in his eyes – it’s a secret he’s still holding on to. She wants to know what it is.

Elijah pushes his knee up and she gasps, biting back her moan.

She closes her eyes and doesn’t open them again until she feels his fingers popping the button of her jean shorts. He teases the edge of her panties, but hesitates. She thinks it’s a thousand years of habit rearing it’s head; he may have flipped the switch on his emotions, but his manners have remained.

She briefly considers telling him no, pushing him away and leaving, but she would be lying if she says she’s not curious. A year ago she might have even claimed that he wasn’t in his right mind, but that was before she turned off her own humanity. She knows what it’s really like; he’s drunk and sober at the same time. He knows exactly what he’s doing. It might not have been something he would have thought of before, but she knows it’s something he wants. That’s how it works without humanity – you decide what you want and take it by whatever means necessary. She considers walking away, but the truth is that she wants it too, and she’s not attached to anyone.

She’s curious, and tells herself that if he’s with her than he’s not out slaughtering people without reason, so she nods and spreads her legs a little farther apart. It has nothing to do with the ghost of emotion in his eyes.

He smirks and she knows exactly what he’s found. She can feel the wetness as he trails his fingers through it finding her clit. He circles the tiny pearl and her knees buckle.

She bites her lip, wanting to hold back as long as possible, but he’s had a thousand years to hone his skill and knowing her doppelganger means he knows her body; he might even know it better than she does. He certainly knows just the spot to curl his fingers and the perfect pressure to apply to her clit. She twists, trying to relieve the agony of the building pressure by further impaling her body on his fingers, but he’s stronger than she is and is in a teasing mood. It’s a default setting for the humanity free.

She feels his eyes on her face, knows he’s watching the exquisite anguish that is playing over her features. She thinks she knows what he’s waiting for, but she’s not about to give it to him.

She lifts her hands and tugs him closer by his tie, kisses him with abandon, plunging her tongue into his mouth while pulling the silk from around his neck. She makes quick work of his black dress shirt and tries to push it off with his jacket before she remembers that he is inflicting the sweetest of torture on her body. She hates the whine that escapes when he removes his hand from her panties and lets the fabric drop, pooling on the floor.

Her eyes roam his chiseled chest; if she wasn’t already soaked the hard plains of his body would have done the trick.

He tilts his head and sets his wet fingers on her bottom lip. He stares, transfixed, as she opens her mouth and cleans her juices from his hand.

She can see the veins pulse beneath his eyes.

“Do you have any idea what you’re getting into?” He pulls his hand from her mouth, runs his finger along the neck of her blouse. “This city isn’t safe. You shouldn’t have come here, Elena.”

“How could I not?” Her voice is breathless. She wonders if she’s imagining the concern in his voice. “You would have come for me,” she raises her eyebrows in challenge, “wouldn’t you?”

His answer is to tear open her pink blouse and attack her throat with bruising kisses. She takes the assault as a yes – or as much of a yes as she’s going to get – and steps out of her jean shorts.

Her ruined shirt falls away and she’s left before him in her mismatched underwear. She doesn’t get time to feel embarrassed before he rips the blush lace bra away and spins her around. She feels the bulge pressed against the curve of her behind.

He dips his head, sucks at her hammering pulse and palms her full breasts, tweaking the hard nipples.

“Elijah,” she groans. There is an ache between her legs that demands satisfaction. It increases when she feels his fangs scrap over her fluttering vein.

He tweaks her nipples, nibbles on her throat and then pulls away. She can hear the sound of his belt being undone and reaches to help him, but he captures her wrists before she can turn and ties them with what feels like his discarded tie.

She could get out of it anytime she wants, but the thought of being at his mercy turns her on more than she wants to admit in that moment.

He slaps her ass. She gasps.

The hand between her shoulders urges her forward. She bends over the arm of the couch, shivering when he slides her panties down to the middle of her thighs. Shaking her hair over her shoulder she is able to see the pure lust in his eyes and gets a glimpse of his cock: long, thick and hard. She wants to sink to her knees, take him in her mouth and make him groan but she’s not in a position for that at the moment.

“Is all of this for me?” He traces her dripping center with the tip of his erection.

It’s not a dangerous question and doesn’t involve begging so she nods against the leather. Her non-verbal answer earns her a slap; the sting brings a flood of moisture to her center.

“Yes,” she breathes.

“What was that?” She can hear the smirk in his voice and repeats her answer louder. “Not thinking of your precious Salvatores?” She shakes her head. “I apologize, Elena, I’m a little out of the loop. Which brother are you betraying this evening: Stefan or Damon? Or are you channeling Katerina now and betraying both?”

Her eyes grow wide. It’s a combination of the accusation and forward thrust of his hips. For a moment she can only sputter as he bucks into her from behind with powerful strokes.

“Neither,” she grunts after a particularly brutal thrust.

At first she sticks to the leather, but then the sweat forms and she slides. She tries to thrust back, but the angle she’s at makes it difficult, and even if she could she doubts she could match his pace. She thinks that maybe he could tear her apart if he wanted to, but knows he won’t.

She’s desperate for something to hold onto, for some type of leverage. She doesn’t really know what she’s doing until she hears the rip of silk.

He curls his fist into her hair and pulls her up. Attacking her neck with savage kisses he snaps his hips faster and uses his free hand to rub her clit; he pinches and rolls until she can’t take anymore and cries out. The ecstasy washes over her, drawn out by his continued fucking.

She writhes and wriggles and eventually comes down. Using every ounce of strength she has she pushes him away and flashes across the room, shoving him into his desk chair. She shimmies out of her panties and straddles him before he can move, sinking down until he is buried in her body again.

She rides him, her vampire stamina allowing her to recover from her first orgasm quickly. The shift in position lets her control the speed and angle, and this way she can see him. She can see the strain in his jaw and the struggle to conceal his vampire features; there is a small ring of red around his eyes, and a couple of pulsing veins accompany every other beat of this frantic heart.

It almost makes her laugh; he has abandoned his emotion, but he still clings to the control he spent a thousand years perfecting.

He lets her take control until she’s pushed herself through two shuddering orgasms before standing and laying her out across his desk. He hooks her legs over his arms and slams into her.

It doesn’t take long before she starts to writhe on the desk top, twitching around his length. She loses track of how many times she comes and for a while is aware of nothing else but the intensity of her pleasure until a fast wind brushes her flushed skin.

She opens her eyes and sees that she is on the couch again. She wraps her legs around his waist, moaning as his thrusts change, shifting from fast and shallow to long and deep.

There is something in his eyes that flickers behind the flood of red; it goes back and forth as he stares into her lidded gaze.

She arches her back when his thumb lands on her clit. She has come so many times that the orgasm borders on painful.

She lifts her head, nips his throat.

He groans, bends and teases her fluttering pulse with his razor sharp fangs.

She tilts her head, a silent invitation, and ignores the voice that says it’s meant to be personal. Nothing has ever felt so right to her.

His hesitation surprises her. He hovers over that artery for what feels like eternity, inhaling the rich combination of blood, sweat and arousal clinging to her skin.

She grasps the back of his neck and urges him closer, using her free hand to move her hair aside.

“Elena.”

Her name drops from his lips: a lover’s whisper in the dimly lit room. It’s the only precursor to his teeth sinking into her throat. She doesn’t think before reciprocating in kind. She doubts her bite is anywhere near as neat as his, but it does the trick.

An array of emotions flood her, exploding over her tongue: passion, anger, and something else she’s not ready to name yet – not while he’s like this, not while he can crush her heart with his indifference.

His pace stutters. She feels his abdomen clench against her stomach, and traces the straining muscles in his lower back. For one brief moment he relaxes completely in her arms. They lay like that for a bit until she feels him shake under her hands.

There is something wet on her neck and she knows that it’s not blood.

She doesn’t have the heart to pull away from him so she lets him roll over and hug her to his chest. She gets only the briefest glimpse of his face and the moisture in his eyes, but says nothing about it.

She can feel his heart beat fast against her back and holds his arm for balance and security; the couch is narrow, but wide enough that she has an inch of space between her and the sudden drop to the floor.

She waits until his breathing levels out, passing the time by licking the remnants of his blood from her lips. She’s more relaxed than she has been in months; the last time she felt so close to carefree was when she had turned off her humanity – except she’s not carefree.

Her problem is that she cares too much; she always has.

“What happened?” She runs her thumb over his knuckles.

“Why do you care so much?” His voice is strained. She’s never heard him sound so broken before.

“I care, Elijah,” she grips his hand.

“Even after the Katerina comment?”

She stiffens in his arms. It’s momentary, but he knows he’s struck a nerve. That had been the very reason he brought up the comparison in the first place, hoping it would drive her away before he gave in to his base desires.

He knew he was wrecked the moment she said he would have shown up for her because she was right. Emotions or no emotions, he would have raced to the ends of the earth if he thought she was in trouble.

There had been no turning back at that point, but that didn’t mean he couldn’t try to push her away. He had done his level best to avoid meeting her eyes during the romp he had been intent on keeping a passionate fuck and nothing more. There was a light in her eyes that always drew him back.

“I owe you a smack for that,” she says, twisting to glance over her shoulder, “and for ripping my clothes to shreds.”

“I did no such thing,” he scoffs, amusement evident in his tone.

“My bra and blouse are ruined,” she nods to the end of the couch.

“Unnecessary pieces of clothing,” he glances at the pink material.

“I can’t exactly walk out of here without them,” Elena rolls over so she’s facing him. He catches her before she can fall backwards. “I’d call that extremely necessary.”

“Maybe I just won’t let you go,” he traces the line of her jaw with his eyes.

“Maybe I’ll steal your shirt,” she counters.

“I’m rather fond of that shirt,” he tightens his hold on her waist.

“It’ll look much better on me,” she smirks.

He frowns when she disappears from his arms and sits up in time to see her rise from her crouch. The black silk hangs off her shoulders, skimming the middle of her thighs.

He finds that he has to agree. The shirt looks much better on her, especially with the knowledge that it is the only thing she is wearing.

“You didn’t answer my question,” she twists her daylight ring around her finger.

“It’s not important,” he shakes his head. Taking her wrist he pulls her down on the couch.

She follows his guiding hand and sits, draping her legs across his thighs.

He runs his fingertips along her leg from ankle to inner thigh and feels the shiver race through her body.

“You shut it off Elijah,” she makes no move to stop his fingers, “that’s pretty important.”

He’s not sure how to tell her what transpired. He doesn’t know how to explain the utter betrayal of his brother’s dealings with the werewolves, or about the lost cause that was New Orleans.

He looks at her through his eyelashes.

How does he tell her he can never feel nothing in her presence?

He can still taste her blood in his mouth. The plethora of emotions hits him again. He doubts she knows what blood sharing really means, or that the feelings flooding her bloodstream do not belong to her. She’s probably not even suspicious since he tasted his own suppressed feelings in her blood.

“Elijah?” She catches his hand, squeezes his palm.

He wonders if she knows he feels again. He doesn’t wonder long because of course she knows. She might have known before he did.

“I’m so tired, Elena,” he closes his eyes.

She waits, a constant pressure on his hand urges him to continue. It’s a moment before it pours out of him. Everything he’s concealed over the last six months.

“We are forever bound to those with whom we share blood,” he finishes, stares up at the ceiling.

“You can’t choose your family,” she glances down to their joined hands.

“No,” he agrees, “but that bond is always there; it can be our greatest strength, or our deepest regret.” He looks at her then, wonders who she is thinking about: Jeremy, her greatest strength, or Katherine, her worst regret.

“Are they your deepest regret?” She lifts her gaze.

“No,” he has never been able to lie to her.

“Then what is?” She frowns.

And there it is: the million dollar question. One of the many reasons he had flipped the switch was because of that question, because he had thought she would never reciprocate his feelings; he would have rather felt nothing at all than the sting of her inevitable rejection.

“You,” he exhales, meets her eyes and holds her leg; his thumb finds the dimple in her knee. “I owe you an apology.”

“For what?” She frowns.

“Many, many things,” he sighs, “but right now I’ll focus on the most recent offences.” He starts rubbing her leg again. “I threatened to kill you.”

“I’m used to death threats,” she shrugs, “you’re hardly the first Original to issue one.”

“I compared you to Katerina,” he shakes his head, shame prickling at the back of his scalp. He knows he’s hardly the first to do that either, but that just makes it all the worse. “You’re nothing like her. You can’t even act like her.”

“I fooled you,” she murmured.

She tries to play it off with a smile, but he knows it’s a fact that’s bothered her for a long time. He stops tracing her leg and grasps her chin.

“No,” his thumb catches her bottom lip, “you didn’t. I knew the second I saw you in the gazebo.”

“But you…” he can see the confusion in her eyes.

“Took advantage of a situation I never should have,” he slides his hand into her hair, “I’m sorry.”

“I’ll tell you what,” she tilts her head, “promise to never turn it off again and I’ll let it go.”

He can’t stop the smirk that plays over his lips.

“Are you negotiating with me?”

“That’s kind of our thing.”

“Oh,” his tone stays teasing, “I thought it was backstabbing and betrayal.”

“That is the basis of my relationship with Rebekah,” she shakes her head, “but you and me…” she motions between them, “… we always seem to come back to this.”

“Unless I’ve been experiencing blackouts I’m pretty sure this,” his free hand slides beneath the hem of his shirt to tease her inner thigh, “is a first.”

“That’s not what I meant, and you know it,” she lets her legs part for his wandering fingers.

He does know it. They always seem to find a way back to each other for a negotiation that – nine times out of ten – results in betrayal; he wants this to be the tenth.

“I have a counter offer,” he meets her eyes, “I won’t turn it off, and you stay around to ensure I keep my word.”

“You’re humanity sponsor?” She cocks an eyebrow. “I do trust you to keep your word Elijah.”

“Maybe I just want you to stay.”

He hopes his emotions show in his eyes. He hopes she can see.

She shifts, tilts her head and watches him closely.

“Why did Rebekah call me? Why did she send me?”

He knows why. He knows the precise reason Rebekah chose Elena to come on the hunt for his humanity. His little sister is perhaps the most perceptive woman he has ever met. No matter the lies he told she could always see through them, through him. Rebekah has known the truth since he saved Elena before the ball.

“She has eyes,” he runs his finger over her jaw. “She sent you because, unlike my brother, she knows how I feel about you. She knows that it’s impossible for me to feel nothing in your presence.”

She moves up and holds his wrist, trapping his palm against her neck.

Even confused there is a light in her eyes that warms him and speaks to his soul, or maybe it’s a by-product of her blood on his tongue, her emotions flowing through his veins.

Leaning forward he brushes his lips against hers in a gentle kiss. There is a trace of blood on her tongue that ignites his senses.

He rests his forehead against hers and exhales.

“I love you, Elena,” he hears her breath catch and maybe it’s selfish, but he can’t stop now. “I have been in love with you for so long; I think it started the day you gave me back the dagger.”

“You couldn’t have told me this sooner?” Her breath shakes.

“You were a little preoccupied,” he plays with a lock of her hair, “and rather adamant on remaining human. The last thing you needed was my admission, and then you transitioned and… sire bonds don’t form without a reason… without feelings.”

“Trust me,” she sighs, “those feelings are gone.” She sees the confusion in his eyes. “I told you it was because my brother was dead,” she bites her bottom lip, “that was only part of the reason.” She lowers her chin, stares at the hand on her leg, rubbing small circles into her skin. “I was freaking out… inconsolable and Damon… he… he used the bond to make me turn it off.”

He grits his teeth, swallows his strong desire to leave and find Damon Salvatore so he can tear out his spine and make the cocky vampire truly spineless.

“I… I killed someone, and that’s on me, but…” she chews her cheek.

He cradles the back of her head, lowers her cheek to his shoulder and lets her release a few silent tears. His other hand leaves her thigh to press into her back.

“I should have gone back for you,” he breathes against her hair, “I never should have left you with them. I didn’t know any of it until I went back to Mystic Falls.”

“How could you have?” She shakes her head. “You were there when I needed you. I wasn’t exactly grateful at the time, but…”

“I think we both needed someone to talk sense into us,” he murmurs. “You were right, I was an idiot.”

“You weren’t an idiot, Elijah…”

“I was attempting to use a stand in for something I couldn’t have,” he chuckles, “that sounds idiotic to me.”

She swallows and smiles. He can feel the way her lips tip up against his chest.

“Okay,” she flattens her hand over his heart, “just remember that you’re the one who said it, alright?”

“I think I can do that,” he smiles.

He hears her heart beat slow, relaxing into a peaceful state. In a thousand year he has never heard anything like it and wants to listen to the steady beating for the rest of his life.

“Elijah…” she trails off, unsure of herself, and not quite ready to voice her feelings. “I…”

He uses a finger to tip up her chin and kisses her: soft, slow, promising.

“It’s alright,” he pulls back, his breath fans over her chin. And it is alright. He knows how she feels even if she’s not quite ready to say it; he’s tasted it in her blood and sees it in her eyes. He has endless time to wait.

“Will you stay?”

The danger of the city is not forgotten, but he’s confident she can handle herself and when she can’t he’ll be there to keep her safe.

“In a house with a man who once killed me?” She cocks an eyebrow.

“In New Orleans,” he clarifies. “Niklaus will not harm you.”

He holds his breath, conscious of what he is asking her to give up: the life she once knew because he can’t leave Klaus. Until she had come he had entertained the idea of abandoning his millennia long quest for his brother’s redemption, but now he cares again.

She tucks her hair behind her ear. There is nothing left for her in Mystic Falls; it’s the town that took everything from her, including her life. New Orleans is a fresh start with a man who loves her, so she nods.

“I knew you cared,” he smirks.

“Maybe I just want to see Klaus fumble through fatherhood,” she counters, leaning in to kiss his cheek.

“That does promise to be amusing,” he agrees.

She giggles. The sound lights up his heart, and he’s certain he’s floating.

His lips trail up her throat until he reaches her ear. He nibbles with human teeth and smells a fresh wave of arousal rise from the apex of her thighs. There are so many things he wants to do to her, to do for her. He is about to flip her around and knee between her open legs when the door swings inwards with a crash.

“What the bloody hell is going on? I leave the lot of you alone for five minutes and you start a damn war.”

Elena yelps, grasps his shirt and holds it closed over her naked breasts. It’s a moment before Kol’s eyes land on her and grow round.

“To be fair,” Elijah rolls his eyes, glaring over his shoulder, “it was more than five minutes, and I’ve been trying to stop a war. What are you doing here?”

Kol’s eyes land on his brother.

“Rebekah called,” his gaze darts from Elena to Elijah, “said you turned it off.”

“Yes,” he drawls, “and now I’ve turned it back.”

“Clearly,” he cocks an eyebrow and turns his attention to his brother’s companion. “Elena,” he greets.

“Hey Kol,” she manages a small smile.

“I was sorry to hear about your brother.”

“Sorry to hear you were daggered.”

“Were you?” He scoffs.

“No,” she shakes her head, “you threatened to have Jeremy killed.”

“I’d have been content with ripping off an arm,” he glances around the room. “What happened to the desk?”

Elena glances to the left and feels a flush rise to her cheeks.

“Not that it isn’t nice to see you,” she grits her teeth, “but please get out; I’m kind of naked over here.”

“I’ve got no problem with that,” he smirks.

“Kol,” Elijah growls.

“Alright, alright,” he holds up his hands, “I’m going.”

Elena waits until the door is closed. She can hear him somewhere beyond the wood telling someone they ‘really don’t want to go in the study’. She ignores him in favour of his older brother.

“What happened to the desk?”

“I may have gotten a little… aggressive,” he smirks, pulling her to straddle his hips. “You seemed to enjoy it.”

“You broke solid oak?” She leans back to get a good look at his desk.

“Technically you broke off a chunk of it,” he nips at her throat, opens his shirt and drags his mouth down to her pebbled nipples. “Would you care to break some more furniture, or take a shower?”

He scraps her nipple with his teeth.

“That depends,” she closes her eyes and hums, rocking her hips. “Will we be breaking the shower?”

“That’s always a possibility,” he stands, wrapping her legs around his waist.