wheatear: (e/e: antagonist)
[personal profile] wheatear
Title: What Happened in New Orleans
Fandom: The Vampire Diaries (TV series)
Characters/Pairings: Elijah/Elena, Katherine
Rating: PG-13
Warnings: Death, violence, dark themes
Summary: The secret is out. Thanks to Katherine, all but one of the Originals are dead, and the hunters are closing in. Nothing seems to rouse Elijah from his grief-stricken stupor. Until another doppelgänger appears. Elijah/Elena. Season 4 AU.


previous


Dear Diary,

I don’t have any friends. How pathetic is that? But we moved here for Dan’s job a couple of years ago and then I got pregnant and then all my time was spent on Louis. It still is. I’ve been thinking about joining a mother-and-toddler group. That’s a thing, right? They won’t judge me for being young? I’m 22 and married, it’s not like I’m irresponsible.

God, I’ve got an itch though. I want to go out and party. I’ve never partied in my life, not really. Always such a good girl. Is this all that life is? I mean, this is Hawaii, there’s a great tourism industry here. Beaches, hotels, bars. I’ve done the beach with Dan and Louis but I want some me-time.

But if I go, who will look after Louis?

Ugh. Maybe I should suck it up and ask Joyce. I can imagine punching her smug bitch face while I’m on the phone and she’ll never know.



3. In the Name of Family

“Jesus Christ,” one of the vampires muttered.

Everyone looked at him. He could sense the nervous tension in the room, but Elijah did nothing to dissipate it. All he could see was Katherine’s face, repeating the same words, over and over again.

“Do the right thing. Give yourself up.”

She had given a deadline of one week. No doubt the news channels would replay the message every day, just to make sure that the entire world saw it. The presenters were already speculating about what Katherine might have cooked up.

“Ugh, shut up,” Elena muttered. She jumped up, grabbed the remote from the coffee table, and switched the TV off. He stared at the black screen. The vampires buzzed and hovered around him.

Lucia’s voice rose above the others. She placed herself in front of the TV, forcing him to look at her, and snapped her fingers.

“You, sit down. You, do not take the name of the Lord in vain. We all have to stay calm. Clearly, this is a trap. Clearly, Elijah cannot go. But if Katherine is going to be there, this may be our best chance to snap the little bitch’s spine in half. Elijah…” Her voice faltered. “What do you think?”

He met her eyes. “You can say it, you know. Go on. Say what’s on your mind.”

She bit her lip. “You won’t go, will you?”

Would he? Would he return to New Orleans, where two of his siblings had died, and give himself up? Would he finally do as his mother had wanted and bring about an end to the vampire race?

Elena laid her hand on his. “He won’t. Let me handle this. I’ll keep Elijah alive while you plot Katherine’s death. That was our deal.”

Lucia pursed her lips, but nodded. “In a week from now, Katherine will be dead. Shall we drink to that?”

She addressed the whole room, her voice rising, and the vampires responded with cheers and fist-pumps. Lucia grinned, imp-like, flicking her head in the direction of the kitchen. It was their cue to move.

Within seconds, Elijah and Elena were alone. She stood up, tugging at his hand. “Come on.”

She took him back to his room. The first thing he did was remove the urn, which he had kept hidden in his jacket, and place it carefully inside a cabinet. If he listened, he could hear the vampires talking downstairs, saying all the things they had been too afraid to say in his presence, even though they all knew that he could hear them if he wanted to.

He straightened his sleeves and turned back to Elena.

She folded her arms. “You know, they’re afraid you might give yourself up.”

“I figured that.”

“Promise me that you won’t. Give me your word.”

He raised his eyebrows. “My word?”

“Yes, your word.” She stepped forward. Her voice softened. “Even with everything else you’ve lost, I know that’s one thing you have left. If you promise me you won’t go, I’ll believe you.”

He sighed. Moving over to the window, he sat down and brushed the curtain aside, looking out at the pale sky. He caught the word “dagger” downstairs, followed by a lot of hushing. They were considering putting him down – if they could find the means to do it. Not surprising: he would have employed the same tactic in their position.

“I won’t lie to you, Elena. I can’t give it. I don’t know what I’m going to do.”

“So this is it,” she said. “I have a week to convince you to stay alive.”

He looked at her. “I suppose you do.”

*

They argued constantly. It began with him telling her off.

“Rebekah, what you’re proposing is insane.”

Her temper flared up at once. “Oh, of course! I’m reckless, and stupid, and irrational. Spare me. At least I want revenge!”

They were in a log cabin by one of the lesser-known Alaskan lakes. Outside, snow fell. Inside, they had been slowly growing mad with a cramped living space, lack of food, and too much of each other’s company. Rebekah was sans make-up, her hair scraped back into a ponytail. Elijah’s suit was crumpled. They’d had to travel light.

He leaned over his chair, eyes narrowed. “Are you implying that I don’t?”

“I’m not implying anything. I’m saying that you don’t. You’re weak when it comes to her. You always have been. Every doppelgänger that comes along, flutters her eyelashes at you, and you follow her like a lost puppy. You never learn.”

“My past with Katherine has nothing to do with this.”

In front of his sister was a meal she hadn’t touched. She picked up a fork and stabbed it into the table, splitting the wood. “It has everything to do with this. I’m going to kill her, Elijah. For your sake as well as mine.”

“You know full well she has the witches on her side.”

“Witches die easily.”

“They can also kill you. Don’t be such a fool.”

She stood up, pushing her chair back. “I’m an Original. She’s human. The only foolish thing is that she isn’t already dead.”

*

They found the spot in the woods where Elijah had mourned Rebekah. Elena brought a blanket. She spread it over the leaf litter and stretched out on her back, watching the branches above her stir in the breeze. He crouched down on the corner of the blanket that remained, watching her watching the sky.

“What’s your biggest regret?” she asked.

“I have a lot of regrets.”

“I know. What’s your biggest?”

He thought about it. “Failing to be there for Rebekah.”

She made an “mmm” sound. The light kept shifting, throwing different angles on her face. Smooth, impassive. Still no sign of sympathy. He frowned.

“What’s yours?” he asked.

She turned her head to look at him. “I don’t care, remember. That means no regrets.”

“But if you did care. What would it be?”

“Probably something predictable like letting my entire family die. You know me, Elijah. You can guess that.”

He could have guessed that. Elena Gilbert had gone to great lengths to protect her family. She had not succeeded. Nor had he. It was almost like they had a connection.

He exhaled, looking away. The seconds passed in silence.

Presently, Elena spoke. “What I don’t understand is, why haven’t you gone after Katherine? You did when Klaus died.”

“Rebekah and I did,” he corrected her.

She shifted over on to her stomach, propped up on her elbows so that she could look up at him. “She’s the reason Rebekah is dead. She’s the reason you’re being hunted. She put all of us in danger. Do you still care about her, is that it?”

“No,” he said. “Not any more. Not in that way.”

“Then what?”

A lot of things. A lot of history. Not only history: a legacy. The doppelgänger was made to destroy them. She meant only death, and yet he had loved all three of them. No. Not all three. Just…

“You know, it’s painful to look at your face,” Elijah murmured. “It shouldn’t be. I thought I could distinguish you. You’re individuals, you’re… different. But I’ve been such a fool.”

Elena was silent.

“Katerina was a far-off dream. My own issues, my hopes. They bore no relation to the reality at hand. I made the same mistake in New Orleans. If you want to talk about regrets, there’s one. I clung to the hope of family, that we could be together and happy again, Klaus, Rebekah, and me. Always and forever.”

“Well, love is blind.”

“More to the point,” said Elijah, collecting himself, “Katherine is still human. She has doppelgänger blood. With the white oak stake gone, the blood of the doppelgänger is the only thing that can kill me.”

Elena looked at him. “That’s how the witches killed Klaus and Rebekah.”

“Yes.” He could see it again in his mind’s eye: the witches chanting, Klaus screaming, burning… “They tricked Niklaus into drinking Katherine’s blood. The blood that made him would also undo him. The same must have happened with Rebekah.”

It was only after Klaus had died that he understood that, understood why the witches were working with Katherine, why they needed her. He had almost killed Klaus using the same tactic himself when Elena was sacrificed, and yet he had not perceived that it was she who was his primary weapon. Esther had done the same thing when she linked all the Original siblings together using Elena’s blood, and still he had not made the connection; he had not grasped the complexity and gravity of the magic involved. The Petrova doppelgänger was, in a very literal sense, an Original’s ultimate weakness.

“And that’s why we have to kill her,” said Elena.

Elijah blinked, coming out of his reverie. When he shook his head, she frowned at him.

“Wait… Are you saying that you don’t want to kill her because she could kill you?”

“Nature requires balance. There has to be a way to kill an Original.”

“No.” Elena shook her head. “I don’t buy that. That’s not your real motivation, is it?”

He swallowed. “The truth is, I want there to be a way out. I wanted to secure our immortality when I had myself and my family to take care of. Now they’re gone, I don’t want to live forever. I need the possibility of death, Elena.”

“But that’s not what Katherine is offering you. She’s offering you real death.”

He was silent for a moment. Perhaps in death he would join his brothers and sister again. Perhaps they would be together. Faced with that possibility and the alternative of walking the earth as the last surviving Original for all eternity…

“Elijah.”

Elena’s eyes were fixed on him. She looked as though she knew exactly what he was thinking.

“I have no appetite for anything else,” he answered at last. Elena opened her mouth and he held up his hand to forestall her. “No, I know what you’re going to say. But I need time to mourn. I’m… not in my right head. Even if I wanted to, I don’t think I could do what you want, any more than you could allow yourself to feel again.”

She made a frustrated sound and sat up. “Do you know how selfish you’re being? All I’m asking you to do is not die. I’m not asking you to help us. I’m not even asking you to wear pants. Don’t let your pity party kill us all.”

He closed his eyes. “I know.”

But he couldn’t forget what Katherine had said.

*

He learned the news in the worst possible way. Through social media.

“Today all over the world thousands of vampires dropped dead.” A jubilant reporter. “These reports are unconfirmed so far, but what we’re hearing is that Rebekah is the deceased Original. This news is from the United States, from New Orleans in fact, sombre scenes from a city in ruin. That’s where these reports are coming from and that’s where we think the Original sister died.”

Elijah’s mouth went dry.

Twitter had gone mad. His email had gone mad. Pictures of dead vampires, their bodies grey and twisted, were posted from all over the world. An hour later, Cerise, one of his guards, walked in and threw a corpse on the table next to him.

“Marco,” she said. “I just found him. Julian called. Jackson, Xun and Katya are gone too. I don’t know who else may be dead...”

She said more than that, but none of it penetrated the haze that had settled over him. Too many words, too many pictures. Phones buzzing, grainy video, lights and words flickering on screens, ethereal in their unreality and maddening, constant change.

The unchanging, physical truth: the corpse laid out like a slab on the table. He stared at it. The light changed; the corpse did not. Someone wrapped it in a black sheet and took it away.

“Who is responsible for this?”

Julian and Lucia had arrived. It was Julian he directed the question to. The other vampire stopped in his tracks, lowering his phone.

“We’re regrouping,” he said. “Give me half an hour; I’ll find out who we have left.”

“I asked a question,” said Elijah. “Who is responsible for this?”

The room turned silent. Cerise looked up from her laptop. Lucia paused from giving out blood bags, her face turning white. Julian tucked the cell phone inside his jacket pocket.

“No one,” said Julian. “No one–”

He made a choked gurgle as Elijah cut him off, slamming him against the wall. “I will break your spine.”

Julian snarled. “Do it! We lost half our forces! The vampires tracking Rebekah were both from her bloodline and they dropped dead in the fucking street.”

“Julian, don’t!” Lucia tore at her brother’s jacket, petrified.

The veins around Julian’s eyes receded. He gritted his teeth, trying to hold still with Elijah’s hand gripping vice-like around his neck. Elijah could squeeze the windpipe until the other vampire choked, and his fingers flexed, itching to do so, but after a moment he dropped his hand. He stared, breathing raggedly; his shoulders were heavy.

Julian massaged his bruised throat.

“We’ve all lost someone,” he said. “Hundreds of our comrades, thousands. We understand your pain.” He glanced towards Lucia, who was still watching them anxiously. “If something were to happen to my sister…”

His sister.

His dear, beautiful, golden-haired sister.

Elijah stepped back, stumbling for a second; he hardly knew how to balance. “Rebekah,” he said. “Where is Rebekah?”

Lucia touched his arm to steady him. “I’m sorry, Elijah.”

She looked truly sad, her blue eyes glistening with tears.

“Where is she?”

Lucia swallowed. “You mean her body? I suppose – in New Orleans.”

“Then we go to New Orleans.”

*

Two days to go. With the exception of the night that Katherine’s broadcast had aired, the vampires had been careful not to give anything away or speak of their plans inside the house. Lucia had to be planning something. That was certain.

He opened a book, turned a few pages and closed it again, frustrated. Nothing held his attention.

Elena tried increasingly bizarre methods of distracting him. That evening she entered his room without knocking and brought in a guest with her: a boy, no more than sixteen or seventeen years old, wearing a baseball cap, an expensive watch and a T-shirt covered in blood. There were wrinkles in the T-shirt. He hadn’t ironed it.

Elijah frowned at them. “Who is this?”

Elena slung an arm around the boy’s shoulder and ushered him forward. “This is Simon. He’s a newbie vampire.”

“You are aware that I’m not allowed to be seen by anyone who doesn’t already know me.”

“I’m aware,” said Elena. “That’s a rule you set yourself, right? Back when you were functioning.” She nudged the boy. “Say hi, Simon.”

“Hi,” Simon mumbled.

“Why is he here?”

“You need to compel him,” said Elena. “I mean, he’s seen you now, so you’ll have to either kill him or compel him to stop him from talking. We turned Simon against his will,” she added, pulling Simon back as the boy whimpered and tried to wrench free. “He’s kind of a big deal in the human world. Well, his dad is. So he could be valuable – but only if we can ensure his loyalty.”

“If you wanted his loyalty, you should have compelled him as a human.”

“Not part of the plan.”

“Plan?”

“Sorry,” said Elena. “It’s on a need-to-know basis only. And since you’re not in charge, you don’t need to know.”

“I’ll need to know what to say to compel him,” Elijah pointed out.

Elena smiled. “Tell him to forget your face. Tell him to be absolutely loyal to the vampire cause. And tell him to obey me, Julian and Lucia, from now until the moment he dies.”

Simon made a tiny noise that might have been a squeak, but no protest left his lips. He was too scared. He shook visibly as Elijah stood up and approached him, taking the boy’s arm. He compelled the boy exactly as Elena had instructed, and then Elena sent Simon away, a satisfied smile on her face.

How this had anything to do with Katherine’s message and Lucia’s plan to thwart her, he couldn’t fathom.

“Baby steps, Elijah,” said Elena when he gave her a quizzical look. “Baby steps.”

*

They travelled to New Orleans, the three of them – Elijah, Julian and Lucia – a small party, safer for crossing the border. Elijah did not speak once during the journey. They entered the city in the early hours of the morning – a dead city, abandoned and ruined.

“The French Quarter,” said Lucia. “That’s where she’ll be.”

But the way to the French Quarter was barred. At the last standing bridge over the river, they met an invisible barrier. An invitation barrier. Utterly impenetrable for any vampire. It was then, finally, that Elijah sank to his knees, defeated.

“She’s dead,” he muttered. “She’s dead and I wasn’t even there. I didn’t see it.”

It was his fault. The night they had argued was the night she had disappeared. He should have gone after her himself. Should have taken her seriously. Instead he had sent two of his vampires to bring his wayward sister back after another one of her tantrums. Stupid. Stupid.

His hands sank into the dirt. The ashes of New Orleans. His throat closed up.

“We’ll send a human,” said Lucia, laying a hand on his shoulder. “We’ll get to her, I promise. The witches can’t keep her from you.”

But they had and they did. Oh, they found Rebekah’s ashes – he had to believe so, when he was presented with the burnt remains. It may as well have been the dirt in the ground, dust, cobwebs. Dry and dead. But he had to believe it was her.

“Elijah.” Lucia spoke. “We can’t stay here. It’s too dangerous.”

Even the effort of lifting his head to look at her felt too much. He didn’t remember how they left the city.

*

One day to go. He was shut up in his room. There was a vampire outside the door at all times. They were taking no chances.

He had nothing to do, so he listened. Downstairs, a new visitor had arrived. Julian, who had not seen them since they had changed location. Elena and Lucia were both there.

“Where is he?” Julian asked without preamble.

Elijah focused, attuning all his senses to the room below.

“Still here,” Elena answered. “He hasn’t gone anywhere.”

“Will he?”

“No.”

“Did he give his word? Did he promise you that he wouldn’t go?”

“No,” said Elena, “but–”

“Then that means he will.” Julian’s voice was dark with suppressed fury. “Lucia, why didn’t you tell me about this?”

“I trust Elena,” she said.

Julian scoffed. “Oh, really.”

“Yes, I do! You haven’t been here, Julian, you haven’t heard what she has to say. If you can’t trust Elena, then trust me. Trust your sister.”

“I’d trust a dagger,” said Julian.

“But we don’t have one, do we, so why even talk about it–”

“He can hear you,” said Elena quietly. “He’s upstairs.”

“Indeed,” said Julian. “If he’s still there.”

Footsteps thundered up the staircase. Elijah had been reclining on his bed, head turned just slightly so that he could listen. He got up silently, moving to stand behind his desk, hands curling over the desk chair. The door opened. Elijah looked up.

“You’re here,” said Julian.

“You sound surprised.”

“No, I’m – I’m relieved.”

Julian’s relief didn’t last long. Elijah broke his neck, then the neck of the unfortunate vampire on guard duty. Within seconds, he was gone.

*

New Orleans. 9pm. Tonight.

What he would do was never in question. He had to go. Last time, he had been unable to make the final leg of the journey. This time would be different.

“Elijah.”

“Katherine.”

Katherine, the human Katherine, stood mere feet away from him, in the ashes of the old French Quarter. The wind whipped her hair around her shoulders, howled through the abandoned streets, keened in the dark. How vulnerable she was, how slight her stature, flesh and bone running rich with blood. She shivered slightly in the cold night air, her arms folded over her puffer jacket, gloves protecting her delicate fingers, a scarf hiding her soft neck. But her eyes were implacable.

“Come in.”

She beckoned him with a smile, and Elijah followed. Across the last standing bridge, over the river, and through the iron gates to the cemetery, where the scorched grass was just beginning to regrow like straggly hair over the grave mounds. He had to see it again. He had to see where his siblings had died.

“I’m glad you came,” said Katherine. “You did a number on this place, but somehow the crypt stayed intact. Magic, I suppose.”

“There are witches in there?” he asked, stopping at the entrance to the crypt.

Katherine nodded. “They’re going to perform a spell and then this will all be over.”

She opened the gate. He was looking at a black hole, his own personal path to death. And Katherine, the angel who would guide him there. She was alive, warm, and made of flesh that he desired. But he would not devour her; she would devour him.

“Are you ready?” Katherine asked.

He nodded. Inside they went. Candles flickered along the cave walls, dark and gloomy. This, for all intents and purposes, was his brother’s grave and his sister’s grave – they would want to be together, Klaus and Rebekah – and so it was fitting that he should join them.

Sophie waited for him. An array of witches surrounded her. She was thinner than the last time he had seen her, pale-faced, her eyes dark and hollowed. But she was tireless still, relentless in her mission, the mission that had already claimed the lives of the last two members of his family and countless vampires and witches besides. She held a stake, gripping it so hard that her knuckles turned white.

“So you came,” Sophie said. Unlike Katherine, her face was hard. “Let me warn you, Elijah, if you’re here to kill us, we’re prepared.”

“I expected nothing less,” he said.

Sophie was no less formidable a foe than Katherine. He had learned this too late, blinded by the trust he had placed in her.

“We’re stronger than the last time we met,” Sophie went on, clearly determined to make her point. “Thanks to your massacre of the people here, there are a lot of dead witches just waiting for their chance to kill you.”

He spread his arms. “Well, I’m here. Do your worst.”

“Are you prepared to die?” Sophie asked.

He could hear the slight strain in her voice. Proceedings had reached a knife edge: either he would turn on them now, or acquiesce to his own death, giving them a final victory. Elijah licked his lips. His skin felt clammy. All he had to do was say yes. He had already made his decision. He had made it the moment he stepped out of hiding.

The witches stared at him, every one of them tense and nervous. Katherine stepped forward. She held out her arm, rolling up the sleeve. An offering. Her blood, for his life.

He took a breath.

“Daddy?” A child’s voice penetrated through the gloom.

Elijah started. He turned, and there was a tiny girl, barely five years old, walking wide-eyed into the crypt.

“Daddy, can we play basketball?” Another voice, squeakier.

“You said you’d buy me a pony, Daddy! Where is it?”

“Daddy, are you okay?”

A chorus of voices, all children, some running and some walking into the crypt, but all of them headed straight for him.

“Stop them!” said Katherine. “Shoo!” She waved her hands, trying to usher the children away.

Sophie stepped forward. “It’s a trick! Get them out of here!”

“I didn’t do this,” said Elijah, bewildered. He held up his hands as a seemingly endless horde of children crowded around him, forcing Katherine away.

The witches were already moving forward, telling the kids to back off, leaning down to scoop them up. But as the first witch’s hand touched the first child, something happened. Every single child stood still, reached into their pocket, and drew out a penknife. Click. The penknives flicked open. And each child pressed the tip of the blade to the soft hollow at their throats.

“Sweetheart, no!” One of the witches yanked away a knife from a little boy. Immediately the four children surrounding the boy slit their own throats. They gurgled, choked, collapsed; blood gushed out of them, but they did not scream. The witches screamed. A couple of them tried to use magic: three children fainted silently, the knives falling from their hands, but again the children surrounding them slit their own throats. Only one was saved by the nearest witch who grabbed him and forcibly tore the knife from his hand.

“Stop it!” Sophie screamed. “Stop it!”

Terror and blood filled the crypt in equal measure. Elijah watched in frozen horror as the children fell and those that remained stepped over their bodies, still packing themselves around him.

“Do the spell!” Katherine was yelling, bright spots of fury on her cheeks. “Ignore them, let them die!”

She marched over to Elijah and grabbed a kid in a hoodie, shoving him out of her way. But the surrounding children, those just in front of Elijah, did not turn on themselves.

“Bitch!” a little girl screamed.

“Bitch, bitch, bitch!”

They surged forward, blades flashing silver, and stabbed at Katherine in a frenzy of wild limbs. She screamed – the witches were in disarray – but Elijah had a clear path for just one second and he used it: charging forward, he scooped Katherine up and tore her away. Out of the mouth of that dark tomb, the blood-flecked air, the children’s screams: out into the darkness of New Orleans, through the cemetery, and into the ruined maze of the city’s streets.

He stopped, bit into his wrist, and shoved it over Katherine’s mouth without waiting for permission. She was shaking, bleeding out; he could smell the blood leaking from her in at least five places – lacerations on her arms where she had thrown them up to protect herself, on her thigh and leg, and most dangerous of all a wound in her stomach. She retched, but she had swallowed enough to heal her wounds, and she sank down, head lolling. He let her go. Katherine braced herself against a fallen piece of masonry, breathing hard. Elijah crouched down with her, watching the cuts on her arms close up.

“Thanks,” she murmured.

“You’re welcome.”

She exhaled. “You’re not dead.”

“Unfortunately not,” said Elijah. “I think someone had other plans.”

Katherine groaned, shaking her head. “On second thought, maybe we should have arranged this a little more discreetly. More of a private date.”

“You wanted a show.”

“I did.” She looked up. Helicopters circled the sky, searchlights flashing down. The press pack could not be too far off. “So what do you say? Shall we give them a show? The witches can still perform the spell out here.”

“Is that before or after all those children die?”

She shrugged. “Do you want to die or not?”

His breath misted in the cold air. Standing up, Elijah stepped back, his boots scraping over broken glass and gravel. The night was thick with sounds and smells, the dust and the cold and the hum of the machines in the air all clear and present in his senses. There was Katherine, his death. Holding out her hand. And somewhere beyond the city limits, there must be Elena, cursing him for being so pathetic.

He might as well have an angel and a devil at his shoulder, but the irony was, he couldn’t tell the difference.

“Not this time,” he said. “If you want to kill me, Katherine, you’ll have to catch me first.”

“All right,” said Katherine. Her eyes glittered in the moonlight. “Game on.”

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