wheatear: (elijah/elena otp)
[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,

Wow, my last entry sounds angry. I guess I was in a really bad mood when I wrote that. Maybe I should try writing this stuff when I’m less emotional. Get a little more perspective.

The thing about Dan is, he gets worried and overprotective. He’s like me really. I have alarm bells going off in my head whenever I see Louis toddling a couple of yards closer to the front door. So I can understand where he’s coming from. We came to a compromise. I’ll ask him first about going out. That way he has peace of mind because he knows where I am, and he can call me to check that I’m okay.

I read an article in the newspaper today about vampire activity in Honolulu. That’s not far from us. Suddenly it makes a lot more sense that Dan brought it up. He didn’t mention the story and I don’t think he wanted me to know since he threw out the newspaper, but I saw it when I emptied the trash. I guess he didn’t want me to worry. Well, I am worried. How did they even make it past airport security?

I’m staying in. No more trips for me.



6. A New Brand of Vampire

A chauffeur drove him to the venue, the fanciest hotel in town. Which wasn’t saying a great deal: it was hardly a five star resort. It had palm trees and a faux Greek-style portico. Elijah walked in to the foyer, his shoes squeaking on the polished marble floor. An equally polished black telephone gleamed on the reception desk counter; it had an old-fashioned rotary dial and looked more decorative than functional.

The receptionist, a woman with shiny bobbed hair, greeted him. “Mr Smith, welcome. That’s room 501 booked for one night, and, oh, the party is just this way, sir. Through the double doors on the right, then straight ahead, follow the signs for the Montague Suite.”

“Thank you,” Elijah said.

A young couple were already walking that way. He followed them, adjusting his pace so that his footsteps made no sound at all, but before he caught up with them the frosted glass doors that led into the suite opened and Caroline stepped through.

“Welcome!” she said to the couple. “Yeah, it’s this way… Have fun.” Then she looked at Elijah, putting one hand on her hip. “You’re late.”

Elena had given him a pocket watch to complete his period costume. He squinted at it. “My apologies.”

“Whatever,” said Caroline. “This way.”

She turned around and Elijah followed: she wore a bright sequinned dress and a gold headband that was easy to track as she navigated the crowd. They passed through the glass doors and into a lounge area where the guests could hang up their coats before joining the party. The panelled walls were made of dark mahogany, the carpet was a rich wine red, and a few guests milled around the cloakroom or seated themselves on plush armchairs.

Caroline tugged at his arm. “I can’t believe we almost lost you. I told Elena she should have gone with you.”

He blinked. “Why didn’t she?”

“I think she wanted to make an impression.”

She gave him a look as she said that, raising an eyebrow, but Elijah simply adjusted the cuffs of his dinner jacket, not taking the bait. They moved down a corridor and into a second, much larger room. Here there was a bar, and two sets of stairs leading down to what looked like a ballroom, except that the floor was occupied by several round tables. At the back of the room, patio doors opened into the night air and the sound of a bubbling fountain drifted in from the garden.

Waiters were already laying the tables with white cloths and silver cutlery, while on the upper level they carried trays bearing cocktails. Elijah took one, then stopped to scrutinize the crowd more closely. At the bar, he spotted Lucia wearing a feather boa, talking and laughing with other guests he did not recognize. She caught his eyes and smiled, raising her glass. Elijah did the same.

Meanwhile, Caroline was also looking around, hands on her hips. “Where is she…?”

“Are we in a hurry?” Elijah asked.

“Yes, we’ve got ten minutes.”

“Ten minutes until what?”

She huffed. “It’s a surprise, okay. Let’s just say… this whole vampire hunt thing. Major bad PR. Everyone thinks we’re the bad guys.”

“Aren’t we?”

“Yeah. But Lucia thinks we can change that perception.” She paused. “Okay, don’t say I told you that.”

He nodded, intrigued. Caroline still looked anxious, biting her lip. She needn’t have worried, however, for a moment later they were approached by a young lady in a red dress.

“Look who’s dashing,” Elena greeted him.

He had gone for a pinstriped suit with a waistcoat underneath, nothing particularly ostentatious. He had neglected to wear a hat. Elena, on the other hand, certainly stood out from the crowd. Her hair was curled into a loose bun and her red lipstick matched the exact shade of her dress. She looked stunning.

“Miss Gilbert.” He lifted her hand to kiss it.

Elena smiled. “Mr Smith.”

“Okay, good,” said Caroline, who seemed to have a mental checklist she was ticking off. Elijah half-expected her to pull out a clipboard. “That’s everyone. Can we move along to the demonstration room, please?”

A few other guests detached themselves from various groups and moved along too as Caroline ushered them towards a side room.

“Only guests with golden tickets, please!” she called. “Guests with golden tickets, please move along to the demonstration room.”

“That’s us too,” said Elena, laying a hand on his arm. Elijah eyed the other guests who were about to join them. Lucia was heading their way, accompanied by Julian, who appeared to have taken the whole theme of this night very seriously and dressed as a gangster. There were others he knew too: Lorenzo, Cerise, Sarah, Blake, Jacob; all the vampires who had been his guards for the past six months were present, with the exception of the recently deceased Dario.

They followed the trickle of guests into what Caroline had called the demonstration room. It was, in essence, a theatre. A large screen dominated the front of the room. In front of it was a podium with a microphone, and seating for an audience of around twenty or thirty. He saw Lucia in the third row next to Julian, and made a beeline for her.

Lucia leaned over to him, fluffing up her hair. “Glad you could join us.”

Elijah settled back into his seat. “So what’s the show?”

“This is how we take over the world,” Lucia replied, enigmatically.

Elena had taken the end seat next to him. “He’s been asking a lot of questions,” she said. “I think he’s ready for some answers.”

The room had filled up. They were almost all vampires, Elijah could discern that, except for two people in the front row. It was Caroline, however, who stepped up to the podium first. She had implied that she had nothing to do with any plans for stopping Katherine. It seemed that was not the case.

“Welcome!” Caroline said, pulling up the microphone to her height. She looked every inch the glamorous hostess; her dress flashed gold and silver every time she moved. “Thank you all for joining us tonight. I know this is a little flashy, but trust me, although the entertainment is good, what you’re about to see is better.” She took a breath. “Last month, Katherine issued an ultimatum. She told Elijah, the Original, the maker of all our bloodlines, to give himself up. To die. And when he refused to do so, she told all the news networks and the media that he had declared war on humanity. She created an atmosphere of paranoia and fear. We’ve been thinking of a way to combat that, and the person I’m about to introduce you to is going to help us do it. Please give a warm welcome to Ms Tamara Chiu!”

Caroline stepped aside, and started the applause for Ms Chiu, who was one of the two people he had identified in the front row as probably human. She was young, perhaps in her late twenties, slight, and she tottered up to the podium with a slightly nervous stumble over her high heels. The other person in the front row, he now saw, was carrying a laptop. The tech guy, Elijah guessed. He pressed a button and the screen in front of them lit up, displaying a company logo.

“Hello!” Tamara greeted them with a pearly smile. “Thank you, Caroline, for that introduction. My name is Tamara Chiu and I represent the PR company, Rosewood Media. I guess it’s an understatement to say that right now vampires have a bit of an image problem.” She paused. There were a few titters from the audience. “You know, for companies, image is everything. My firm helps companies to put out a positive image for the world. We’ve been asked to do the same for all of you.”

The screen changed, this time showing an image of Katherine. Elijah felt his stomach drop, as it always did when he saw her. The reaction in the room was instantaneous: shoulders tensing, low murmurs, hisses.

Tamara continued. “For the past year, Katherine has dominated the headlines. She has dictated the story here, the narrative around vampires. Not only has she convinced the entire world that vampires are evil and should be eradicated, she has also become the face of humanity. She’s a rallying point. Humanity’s story.

“Removing Katherine won’t solve the problem. She’ll become a martyr and she’ll be even more celebrated in death than she was in life. The image of Katherine will live on. Stopping Katherine is one thing. But to change the image of vampires in wider society, to stop this vampire hunt – that’s something else entirely. Right now, vampires are a faceless enemy. There’s no story, no one for people to relate to – just a void. We are going to tell that story. Now I’d like to show you a short video that will launch our campaign.”

Tamara stepped back and the screen went dark. Elijah glanced at Elena, raising his eyebrows. She gave a small shrug.

The video played. Faces appeared on the screen – faces he recognized.

“I’m Simon.”

“I’m Emily.”

“I’m Li.”

All the newbie vampires they had turned and compelled to obey them. They were all here, in this room; he glanced sideways at Emily, then Li next to her, and Simon in the row in front, just a teenager.

“I’m David.”

The last face. Unassuming, gentle, normal. David in particular looked open and friendly, with wide expressive eyes. An honest face.

“I’m a vampire,” said Simon.

“I’m a vampire,” said Emily.

One by one, they all said it. A soft, lilting melody played in the background. No snarls, no fangs, no veins beneath the eyes. Only the frank admission from each person in turn.

“I’m a vampire.”

Finally, the film ended with a strapline: Vampires are people.

The screen faded to black. For a moment there was silence in the theatre. Tamara glanced around anxiously – though he and the other vampires could see perfectly well in the dark, she would not be able to see them. But as the lights turned back on, the audience broke into applause. Elijah joined in, this time turning to catch Lucia’s eye.

“Was this your idea?”

Lucia smiled. “I hired the PR company. I told them what we wanted, and this is the result.”

“Thank you,” said Tamara, stepping onto the podium again as the applause faded. “Vampires are people – that’s our key concept for this campaign. We have a website ready to launch, a Facebook page, Twitter and YouTube account. We’re going to hand out flyers, host awareness raising events, and generate press in the United States and beyond. We’ve even got a “Vampires are people” T-shirt so that people all around the world can show their support.

“We’re going to offer support to families who have a vampire living with them. All the stories we’re not hearing – stories of acceptance and love, of vampires co-existing peacefully in society – those are the stories we’re going to tell, starting with the six people starring in our video, who are all here tonight…”

She went on to introduce each of them. He understood now: they had all been carefully chosen to present the best image of vampirism to humanity. They varied in age, ethnicity and background, but all looked respectable, well-spoken, well-educated.

“And some of them are famous,” Elena added, whispering to him. “Emily is a daytime TV presenter. Obviously she had to give up that job, but she can do interviews. Simon’s father is a politician, one of the guys who has spoken out against vampires. Watch him change his tune. Oh, and that lady over there is a journalist. Writes opinion pieces. She is going to get us into the New York Times, and other respected publications.”

“You have been busy,” Elijah murmured back.

“Well, I can’t take the credit,” said Elena. “Lucia dreamed it all up and Caroline did most of the legwork.”

“Even so,” he said. “It seems you don’t need me after all.”

“You compelled them, remember.”

She fell silent as the lights switched back on and the crowd began leaving their seats. Elijah too rose from his seat, joining the throng as they filed out. A low murmur filled the room. The vampires were already beginning to discuss what they had just seen. Elena beckoned him with a smile. Elijah trailed after her, lost in thought.

Vampires are people.

Were they?

*

More drinks. Celebrations. Smiles. The twenties theme had begun in earnest: a jazz band played in the ballroom, the lighting was soft and moody, and the place was crowded with men in suits and fedoras, and ladies dressed as flappers, wearing short fringed dresses and beaded necklaces.

“Impressive, isn’t it?” said Julian. “Very… glittery.”

They were by the bar. Downstairs in the ballroom, cocktails and canapés had already been served. Their human guests were just starting their main meals, while the vampires gradually moved down to join them. The humans were there, of course, to provide dessert.

Elijah took a sip of his mint julep. “Your sister’s work, I hear.”

Julian leaned back against the bar, elbows on the counter. “Yes. This stuff is not my area.”

“So what have you been up to?”

“Waging war,” said Julian grimly. “You heard about Dario? He got jumped by a hunter in Boston. He was supposed to be following a Katherine lead, but she’s too well-protected.”

Elijah frowned. “Was he killed by one of Katherine’s allies?”

“We don’t know.”

“And if he was, what if this hunter interrogated him before he killed him? Dario knew my location. That’s not to mention the hunter who almost killed Caroline.”

Julian paused. “Dario wouldn’t have given us up. He was loyal. But you’re right, we’ve had a few too close encounters lately. We’ll move out after the party.”

Elijah nodded. He finished his drink and put the empty glass down on the counter, but before he could move on Julian stopped him with a hand on his arm. The other vampire fixed Elijah with an intense look, brows shadowing eyes as blue as his sister’s.

“I just want to say… I’m glad you’re concerned. For a long time there, you weren’t. It looks like Elena did a good job with you.”

“She hasn’t deemed me ready yet,” said Elijah.

The ringing of silver on glass echoed through the room. Both men looked up. Caroline, their golden hostess, was calling for their attention.

“Ah,” said Julian. “Dessert.”

*

Later on, when most of the guests had dispersed and the hotel staff had begun to clean up the blood, Elena came over to Elijah at the bar.

“I’m impressed,” she said. “You didn’t get even one drop of blood on your shirt.”

“Well, I’ve had centuries of practice. And I hate dry-cleaning.”

He’d seen her tearing into their dinner guests, the blood dripping from her mouth. She fed with the appearance of abandon that disguised controlled poise, moving from victim to victim with an almost bored expression. Her dress was stained, but not very much.

“So what did you think of the party?” she asked.

He considered. “You certainly succeeded in distracting me.”

“Oh, please. We didn’t do this to distract you. Caroline and I wanted to have fun.”

“Yes,” he said, glancing over at Caroline who was talking with Tamara and Lucia. “I thanked her a moment ago. She knows how to throw a party.”

Caroline was absolutely glowing with all the praise she’d received. It was enough to make him think she hadn’t really turned off her emotions after all.

Elena shrugged. “She just likes telling people what to do.”

“Well, did you have fun?”

She nodded. “It was okay. But I’m not sure I’m ready to call it a night yet.”

“No? Would you like another drink?” He caught the eye of the bartender, but Elena shook her head.

“I was thinking.” She sidled a little closer. “We have all night. Why don’t we use it?”

There was a glint in her eyes. And underneath that, perhaps, there was Elena Gilbert, getting what she wanted.

He gave her a suspicious look. “You’re bored.”

Her expression was blandly innocent. “Maybe this time I’d like you to distract me.”

“Haven’t we had this conversation before?”

Elena shrugged graceful shoulders. She turned away and for a moment Elijah thought she had been teasing him. He stared after her, watched her slip away from him with every step, felt it almost like a rope stretching between them.

Then she glanced back. “Coming?”

*

He shouldn’t do this. Elena was still without her humanity. Whatever she wanted from him, it didn’t mean anything to her. She didn’t care.

Yet here they were, in his hotel room. He avoided looking at her, instead walking over to the window where he had a charming view of the palm trees outside. But he could make out her reflection in the glass.

Elena approached behind him, folding her arms. “Cold feet?”

He shook his head. “No, I… I need time to consider.”

“Consider what?”

He drew the curtain shut, turning to face her. She looked less perfectly made up by this point. Some of her lipstick had come off and she had removed her heels as she entered the room, so that she was barefoot. Loose strands of hair framed her cheeks. He took in a breath.

“Everything I’ve just learned.”

“What, so you can give it your vote of approval?”

“I thought you wanted me to take an interest.”

“I do. But right now, not in that. There are other things to be interested in.”

She moved forward, making her meaning clear as she traced her hand lightly over the contours of his suit jacket. He swallowed.

Elena met his eyes when he didn’t respond. “What?”

He took her hand, moving it back down to her side. “I don’t want another distraction. These past few weeks… Being in your company has worked, Elena. I haven’t spent every moment thinking of my family, dwelling on past regrets. But that’s not enough. What I’ve done isn’t living, it’s passing the time.”

“Passing the time until you’re ready to do more.” Elena’s voice was soft, imploring. “That’s why I brought you here tonight. There’s so much to be done.”

“I see that,” he said. “It’s a clever idea. It might even work.”

She raised her eyebrows. “But?”

“My mother once said to me…”

Elena sighed, rolling her eyes. “We’re going to talk about your mommy issues?” She turned away from him, moving to sit down on the bed with a huff. Elijah stayed where he was, aware that he had killed the mood.

“Elena,” he said, “you understand the desire to please your parents, don’t you? Centuries go by and so many things change, but the relationship between a parent and a child does not. I was the eldest son. It was my responsibility to… to protect my siblings and the family name.”

She looked at him. “You feel guilty.”

“For a thousand years, I believed in the values my family stood for. Loyalty. Duty. Truth. Honour.”

“You still believe in all that, don’t you?”

“I do.”

“So what’s the problem?”

“My mother hated us. She called us a curse on this earth. For all my talk of honour, she thought me no better than the rest.”

“Well, that must have been a blow to your ego.”

He glared at her. “I spent my life protecting my family only to be told by my own mother that we were all monsters who deserved to die. Everything I lived for… Worthless.”

Elena shook her head. “You don’t believe that.”

He could hear the watch tucked inside the pocket of his waistcoat ticking away the seconds. Outside was dark; it was well after midnight. Perhaps some of the vampires had gone out to feed again. Perhaps they would compel the whole world if they had to, as he had done with the newbie vampires, as they had all done at this party tonight. Marketing was only a more subtle form of mind control, after all; it worked to the same end.

They could spend their days convincing humanity that vampires were people too, and their nights wreaking whatever havoc they pleased. The ideal solution. How his mother would despise him.

Elena stood up, smoothing her dress as she did so. Her eyes narrowed.

“Is this going back to those dead children?” she asked. “Because let’s be honest, Elijah, you didn’t actually care about that. You spent all of five minutes being self-righteous about it, and then you moved on.”

“Maybe you’re right,” said Elijah. “Maybe that’s exactly why none of this should happen.”

She stepped towards him. “You know what the solution is? Not to care. There is a line between people who matter and people who don’t. It’s easy to draw. The vampires in your bloodline, we’re your people. We want you to care about us like we care about you, like family. Everyone else…” She shrugged. “They’re lunch.”

He lifted his eyes to her. “You make it sound so simple.”

“You’re a vampire. More than that, you’re the Original vampire. Embrace it.”

“Embrace the monster?”

“Embrace us,” said Elena. “I’ll be loyal to you, Elijah. I’ll be honest. I’ll fight to protect you and I’ll kill anyone who opposes us. I just want you to do the same.”

Her hand was on his arm. He could feel the press of her fingers, light and gentle as her words.

“Elena…”

He made no conscious decision. He simply pulled her to him, roughly. Grabbed at her waist, fingers slipping on the sheer fabric. And Elena responded in kind: she raked her hands through his hair, grabbed at his neck, kissed him full on the mouth. Her lips tasted of gin and blood.

He shrugged off his jacket and she grabbed it from him, throwing it aside on the floor. Her bun had come loose. Her eyes were brilliantly dark as she laughed, showing her teeth, and he thought how beautiful she looked with blood on her mouth. Smudged red lips. Moonlit eyes.

Flashing lights. Sirens.

They were entwined, stumbling towards the bed, when he stopped.

Footsteps. Running.

Elena let out a breath, her mouth opening in surprise. “What–”

The door burst open.

“Freeze! Put your hands up! Now!”

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