Reveal time! Yes, I did a ficathon this year. I know! I was surprised too.

Originally written for [personal profile] silviakundera for the 2011 [profile] tvd_holidays ficathon; Klaus/Stefan.

(Hilariously, halfway through this I got the idea for a different story, which will, if I ever write it, end up being better than this one; if I do, that one's for [personal profile] silviakundera, too.)

Pulling Pigtails
by gale

SUMMARY: Nothing says "hi, I like you, let's make out" like rampant murder and sibling theft.


I. Klaus

It's been a long time since Klaus has had a brother.

He still does, he supposes; if he took the daggers out of Elijah and the others, they'd be up and walking around and trying to ruin all his wonderful plans. But they're brothers in half-blood, brothers because of their mother: not real brothers, not the kind that would take a blow for you or slay your enemies. Not since Elijah left his side.

He'd been delighted when he found Stefan again - found Stefan in this sad little cow-town, no less, part of an experiment Katerina had indulged herself in a hundred and fifty years ago. Less delightful had been finding that Stefan had backslid, become the kind of mealy-mouthed little nothing most vampires were these days. Their blood was too thin, their skin not strong enough to withstand daylight without dragging a witch into the whole process. Disappointing.

It somehow hadn't surprised him at all to learn that Stefan was the one watching over the doppelganger. He's wondered, more than once since he got here, if maybe this whole thing isn't some sort of cosmic joke: all of them moved around like chess pieces, like actors in a play.

Still, he has Stefan back, and he has brothers and sisters - children - to make. If he's trapped in a play, at least he's the lead.

*

He's less sanguine when he learns Stefan's been lying to him.

Lying to Rebekah, fine; Klaus loves his sister (inasmuch as he loves anyone, these days), but he's been her brother his whole life. There's no sin in watching her get irritated, just amusement. And Stefan's so good at it, even - especially - when he doesn't mean to be. But Stefan's lied to him, too, and that he cannot have.

He can't stand here and say emotion is a weakness, because not all of it is. Love, certainly, but he appreciates loyalty when it's directed at him, and anger will always have its place. He thinks that's the wolf in him; the vampire still wants to shut everything off, become as dry and logical as the grave. The wolf wants to run. The wolf's been the one to keep him from closing off his emotions as so many of their kind do.

The wolf, like Stefan, is his newest sibling. Klaus has never been one to deny an indulgence.

*

He watches Stefan fight him - fight him, as if he doesn't know that Klaus is trying to do right by him, to make this all so much easier for him. Not that he cares about anyone else's ease, not really, but he likes Stefan. He likes Stefan in a way he hasn't liked anyone since Elijah. Rebekah's all well and good, but women - especially his sister - are flighty and fickle, moreso when you make them hunters and give them prey. Brothers are loyal.

And if a brother won't be loyal by nature, well, nurture will do the trick just as well.

"What did you do?" he hears the doppelganger (he still can't bring himself to call her "Elena" in his thoughts, though he might as well; it's a lovely name, and she doesn't seem quite as mad as Katerina) ask.

Klaus smiles as gently as he can. It's a fair question, and he's always liked hearing that horrified tone in a woman's voice. "I fixed him," he says, and for Klaus, it's the truth.

*

The hardest thing Klaus has had to do in a very long time is leave Stefan here.

Not Rebekah; Stefan can mind her too, or not, as he will. It's not as if anyone here can kill her - not even the little witch, powerful as she is. She won't lay a hand on Elena, though she'll be tempted to. Klaus gives Stefan strict orders to keep the two apart, if he can.

"Please," Stefan says, with an eyeroll. (In that moment, he and his ridiculous older brother could be twins. Klaus resists the urge to slap him.) "I'll be fine. I'm a big boy, Klaus. I can make sure nothing happens to Elena."

"And Rebekah," Klaus adds, somewhat absently.

"Rebekah's old enough to do for hersel--aaaagh," Stefan says, looking put out at Klaus' hand around his throat. Klaus doubts he's strong enough to break the hold, but he doesn't seem terribly concerned about it, either. "Fine, fine. I'll keep an eye out for her too."

"Good," Klaus says, and lets go. "I shouldn't be gone that long. You'd be surprised how few werewolves make their home up north."

"You'd be more surprised if I cared," Stefan shoots back, one hand on the rapidly-fading bruises around his neck. But he grins.


II. Stefan

Dear Klaus, Stefan mentally writes, how are you? I'm extremely pissed you left me in this shithole, watching over my whining ex-girlfriend as she and my brother the failed dandy make cow eyes at each other and fending off the well-meaning but fucking infuriating attempts at "redeeming" me.

Seriously, everyone's been doing it. Maybe not as overtly as Elena, but who is? Everyone else is giving him a wide berth, which seems smarter than he'd given them credit for; even Damon's staying away, though of course he's seen him do things like this before.

That had been different, though. It hadn't been this free.

Every other time he's felt this good, it's been conditional: he'll have to stop eventually, wake up and realize what ~horrible things~ he's done, make amends. And he'll be on the wagon for a year, or five, or ten or twenty, before something happens to kick him back off and it starts all over again. He can never entirely enjoy himself, knowing that he'll have to wake up and go back to being civilized at some point. It's like trying to get shitfaced and knowing that you tend to have fucking awful hangovers the next morning: you can never entirely let go.

This is different. He doesn't even feel a twinge--not deep down, not creeping closer, nothing. He feels like himself, like he had those first few incandescent days after he'd changed. He drinks deeply, he sleeps deeply, he turns his head into the sun and looks at people like chatty cows instead of like people whose feelings and lives he has to worry about when he gets hungry.

It's amazing. He should really get Klaus a fruit basket. Or a basket of college kids. Something.

*

He considers, more than once, asking Klaus to do the same for Damon.

The thing is, even with everything else stripped away, he really does still love Damon. It's not so surprising; Klaus loves Rebekah, so it's not like it has to entirely vanish when you let go of all your encumbrances. Elijah couldn't have hurt him the way he had if there were no feelings whatsoever. It just--you let go of what's important, like worrying about people. People come and go, but family lasts. Especially immortal family.

He gets it, though. Elena's a great girl, funny and smart and pretty good in bed for a relative newcomer; and yeah, she's the doppelganger, so it's not like she's human-human. But that's the problem. Emotions, when they run rampant and unchecked, are as dangerous as any drug ever invented. He's seen opium dens that don't contain the level of desperation that had been in their house the day Damon had given Elena blood.

If he did that now, Stefan wouldn't fight him. He'd protest maybe, idly, but inside he'd be grinning.

*

So of course, as much as he likes Klaus and loves Damon, Mikael has to go sticking his ancient, dusty, vampire-killing ass in there, because why not.

Admittedly, one of the reasons Stefan likes Klaus as much as he does - above and beyond the compulsion - is that they're not far different: they used to be men, their families are complicated, and their fathers turned out to be total assholes. Giuseppe had never been as bad as Mikael, but that's just because the circumstances are different. If Stefan had given him blood in those last few moments before he died, it's entirely possible Giuseppe could've become something very similar: driven, ruthless, hating his wife's child. A predator of predators.

So no, Stefan doesn't like him that much. He can admit Mikael's handy, because, as it turns out, being compelled fucking sucks. (Pun intended.) He doesn't want to go back to being what he'd come back to Virginia this last time--but he's been under the yoke for a while now, and it chafes. He wants the freedom to be whatever he wants, whoever he wants, without it being anyone else's responsibility.

He really, really gets why that pisses Damon off so much.

*

And then Mikael puts his hand inside Damon's chest--inside his chest--and threatens to rip out his heart, and it takes everything Stefan has not to just take his head off.

That--that's his brother. They'd never been a particularly large family, like the Fells or the Lockwoods. It was just him and Damon, always, after their mother died; Giuseppe never remarried, and his brother had remained in Italy. That branch of the family hadn't come to the States 'til the next generation, though they'd set up in Fell's Church and taken over admirably well. He hates Damon as much as he loves him, but he can't imagine a world where there's a Damon-shaped hole with no Damon in it.

And just that fast, Stefan feels old.

He doesn't want to be here, doesn't want things to be this complicated. He wants his brother, and he wants to be back in Mystic Falls, and he--fuck it, he wants Klaus. Not so much because Klaus could tell him what to do (though he would), but just because--

Well. Just because.

Mikael just smiles at him, too much of Giuseppe in his face, hand clenched around Damon's heart.

Stefan hates him.

*

He makes the call to Klaus when Damon asks, feeds him the lines he's been directed to say. The whole thing feels very surreal, like he's standing outside himself and watching a bad small-town production of something showy--Phantom, maybe, or Avenue Q.

He knows, in the back of his head, that getting through this will mean Klaus is dead. And yeah, that hurts, but losing Damon would hurt worse. Stefan doesn't bother asking himself if Klaus will understand; Klaus would kill him in a heartbeat if it meant keeping any of his own family in one piece. Vampires are monsters, but they're not without feelings.

He's a little surprised, though, at how much the idea hurts.

*

"Hi, Stefan," Katherine says, looking for all the world like Elena--even down to the hair and the mannerisms--and Stefan feels himself relax, just a little.


III. Klaus & Stefan

It's a game, Stefan says sub vocally, without actually speaking. He wonders if this is how Damon feels: Does this bother you? I'm not touching you.

It's not a game, Klaus shouts back, just as silently, and hates him through the phone.

But at least he has his attention.

*

"What," Damon says flatly, when Stefan finally tells him. It's not precisely the reaction he was expecting.

"I took them," Stefan says. "Don't worry, they're fine, they're in a safe place."

Damon just looks at him. "So you just--you stole the Originals."

"The ones that are left, yeah."

"You stole them. Just--the way you'd pocket a china pig at someone else's house."

"That's not quite the--wait, people make china pigs?" Stefan blinks. "That just seems strange. Those little collectible figurines, yeah, but not pigs."

"Yeah, and they're usually Godawful--" Damon waves a hand. "Focus! China pigs are not the important part of this conversation!"

Stefan sighs. "Yes, I took them," he says patiently. "It's pretty decent collateral, all things considered. And no, we can't kill them, unless someone finds a cache of white oak stakes or something, but as long as they're daggered they're fine."

"Yeah, and now Klaus is going to be more murderous and pissed," Damon says, pinching the bridge of his nose. Stefan doesn't bother to hide his smirk; let Damon be the one who worries, for once, about what dumb-ass thing his brother is doing. "You know he's going to come after you."

"Let him," Stefan says breezily. He wants that, in some vague way he can't articulate.

"And not just you. The rest of us." Damon glares. "Elena's the only one who gets a free pass, and that's as long as he needs her to make hybrids. Probably Tyler, because Klaus is gonna want a souvenir of his time in Virginia. But the rest of us? Stefan, the rest of us are screwed."

Stefan narrows his eyes. "Yeah, because it was so much different before," he says. "You know, every other time something's happened and we're screwed? We tend to come out okay."

"It's not gonna last forever," Damon says, jaw set.

"Of course it--" And Stefan stops, suddenly, because holy shit. "Oh my God," he says. "You're worried about them."

Damon looks at him silently for a long time. Then, witheringly: "What?"

"You're worried about everyone," Stefan says slowly. "Not just me or Elena. Sheriff Forbes, okay, and obviously Ric, but--everyone. Like, Bonnie and Jeremy and Matt everyone."

"Okay, one, I don't even know who the hell this 'Matt' everyone keeps mentioning is--"

"You give a shit," Stefan says, wondering now. "You give a shit about what happens here. You've put down roots."

Damon looks at him for another ridiculously long time, then stalks out of the room and slams the door behind him.

Holy shit. Holy shit.

*

"What?"

"So I've been rethinking this whole thing," Stefan says. That's good. That proves that Stefan is not entirely stupid. Three-quarters, maybe, because he stole his siblings, but he's not just blindly running into the night to be chased down, the way so many others had over the years. That's--not good, but respectable. Klaus can sort of understand people who turn and face their own deaths.

It won't make Stefan any less dead, but that's Stefan's own fault.

"Bully for you," Klaus says. "Where are they?"

"Somewhere safe. I can't kill them, without a white oak dagger--not that I would. I'm in a weird position, Nik." And oh, that shouldn't warm as much as it grates. "See, I get that you want to kill me. That's fine; I did a screwed-up thing, and if someone did that to me--if someone took Damon--I'd want to kill them too."

Klaus doesn't see why; Stefan's brother is like the worst parts of Rebekah distilled into a man's body, all petulance and arrogance and needless emotion. He plays at being a hunter, when anyone with eyes can see he hates what he is. Klaus never hated being a vampire; he just thought it less when compared to what he was born to be. What he is. "And?"

"And I'm not sorry. But it's only fair that I give them back to you."

"Fair" isn't quite the word, but it's not wrong, either. Just--inelegant. Klaus doesn't say anything.

"So," Stefan says, when he realizes Klaus isn't about to talk first, "I should probably just put them back in--"

"There's a house," Klaus interrupts. "Big one, a little ostentatious, about half a mile from your--what is that, a public house?"

"Boarding house," Stefan corrects. "I know which one you're talking about. Is--other people have stayed there."

"Isobel," Klaus says. "I know." He'd gotten it from her, along with a surprising amount of useful knowledge (and the usual pointless dross), before he'd given her her final orders. "One hour. If they've been harmed--"

"They haven't," Stefan says quickly.

"Good. One hour." Klaus hangs up first, then stares at the phone for a long time.

*

Klaus makes himself go outside for a bit. This town is ridiculous at best, and far too small, but it has its charms. It's surrounded by woods on all sides, for one, and the people seem delightfully susceptible to stories like "mountain lion attack" and "sudden stroke". Isobel had mentioned something about a council of people dedicated to destroying vampires, but it's not like they have to worry him. And anyway, half of the people on the council he either knows or has ties to via blackmail. It's not a problem.

And--well, it was home, once. He doesn't let himself be maudlin enough to think it'll ever be home again, but maybe he can rest here for a time. There's no more Mikael on his back, no chance of him waking up. So maybe--

Stupid. Stupid, idiotic thinking. Klaus spends the rest of the walk back chiding himself.

*

When he gets there, Stefan's waiting outside. "They're in one of the bedrooms upstairs," he says, without preamble. "They're fine." He pauses. "I put Rebekah in there, too. That one's not me; I guess Damon and Elena couldn't trust her not to tell you at the last minute."

"A safe bet, from their perspective," Klaus agrees. "Mind you, I'll have to have a word with my sister. She keeps grudges like they're pets, and if Damon--"

Stefan shakes his head. "Elena."

Well, now. His little doppelganger has more backbone than he'd figured. He's momentarily sorry he can't spare to make her a vampire; with enough experience, she might be even more fun than Katherine. "Ah. Then I'll definitely have to have a word with her."

"Can't have her cutting off the pipeline," Stefan says, sounding--is that petulant? Klaus raises an eyebrow at him. "Call it a show of good faith. I didn't have to tell you."

"Stefan," Klaus says, not unkindly. Of course he did.

Stefan just sets his jaw and looks particularly mulish. "I didn't," he says again. "Anyway. They're up there, unharmed." He waits for Klaus to say something.

Klaus doesn't.

"So whatever you're going to do--" Stefan starts, and Klaus swarms over, faster than any vampire that's ever lived, and puts a stake to his throat. A common one, not white oak or anything all that fancy. For all that he likes Stefan, he is, after all, just barely out of infancy.

"I could kill you," he says, conversationally. "I should kill you." He digs the stake in, just enough to draw a trickle of blood. Klaus isn't Mikael, not by any stretch of the imagination, but blood is blood: Stefan's smells like earth, underneath all the copper.

"Your call," Stefan says. He doesn't have a heart rate, but he seems--unconcerned. "I betrayed you. I stole what you loved. I hurt you."

"I don't get hurt."

"Bullshit. Everyone gets hurt. It's not that easy to do, but--" Stefan grins "--my tutors always called me exceptional."

Klaus just looks at him for a minute, then digs the stake in a little bit more. The trickle becomes thicker, more steady.

"You are infuriating," Klaus says, not looking away from Stefan's eyes. "You surround yourself with humans, like a farmer who's decided to pal around with his livestock. You ape their behavior. You're going to high school, for God's sake. You have almost no sense of self-preservation, or you'd never have gone after my family."

"It's family," Stefan says. "And you went after mine first."

"Only because he's a twat," Klaus insists, and leans down to lick the blood away.

Stefan shivers in his arms, but doesn't move away. "This is a terrible idea," he says. Klaus doesn't need to look up to see that his face has shifted away from human and closer to his true skin.

"I'm a thousand years old, Stefan," Klaus says, still licking. "Haven't you heard? All of my ideas have back-up ideas. One of them will work out."

"'s what I was hoping," Stefan says--and digs his nails into Klaus' skin, breaking it. Klaus lets out a yelp and jerks his hand back, but not before Stefan's gotten blood under his nails and started licking it off.

"Hopefully one of them will work out," Klaus amends, and kisses him.

*

They tell Damon first, because whatever else is going on, the little-brother part of Stefan is always going to love giving his older brother conniption fits.

"What," Damon says, because apparently that's what he's doing this week.

"Klaus is going to be staying," Stefan says. They're not holding hands; they are not, in fact, 14-year-old girls at a Jonas Brothers concert, and even if Stefan wanted to, he's pretty sure Klaus would laugh 'til he peed if he tried. "Temporarily, anyway. He's not going to try to kill anyone--"

"For food," Klaus adds, "in town. It's just messy if you shit where you eat."

"Yeah, I get the premise, thanks," Damon says, not looking away from his brother. "So you're just...forgiven for stealing the rest of the Originals."

"'Forgiven' isn't the term I'd use, no," Klaus says. "But every relationship has its own weird shorthand and hurdles. Ours is just weirder than most."

And no, watching Damon snort Jameson's out his nose is never going to stop being funny. "I'm sorry," he says, "relationship?"

"It sounds nicer than 'sport-fucking friends'," Stefan says helpfully. "I don't know, okay? It's been like a day. We're negotiating." He doesn't hold Klaus' hand, but the urge is there. He settles for standing too close, shoulders bumping.

"On the plus side," Klaus says cheerfully, "Thanksgiving this year should be fucking amazing."

"Oh my God," Damon says again, and thunks his head against the wall.
scy: (Default)

From: [personal profile] scy


I am choking back laughter so I don't wake my roomie.

HYSTERICS OF LAUGHTER.

I LOVE it.

Stefan BOGGLING, after FREAKING OUT.

And, AWKWARD dating.

And, Damon has put down ROOTS. So he will kill anybody who messes with that.

OMG.
.

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