Fandom: The Vampire Diaries
Characters: Stefan, Klaus (Stefan/Klaus)
Words / Rating: 1614 words / T for language, violence, emo sociopathic-ness
Summary: Come find me.
A/N: For lynnenne, prompt: "We were friends" / "We are friends". This is vaguely lulzy, as this pairing is wont to be.
There are many other places Stefan should be right now.
(But he's not thinking about that.)
Stealing Klaus's coffins was a good idea at the time. Lugging them across the country proves more tiresome.
Stefan regrets nothing. He'd do this all over again.
He knows Klaus is coming for him. Probably with a stake. Wonders if there's a cute little urn picked out for his remains, to be placed beside the other coffins.
Stefan doesn't feel afraid. (He doesn't feel anything. Remember?) Stands at the balcony of his hotel room, whispers to the Bahama breeze: "Come find me, friend."
"One more move, and I will tear apart everyone you know," Klaus hisses, all impotent fury across a tinny phone line.
"You do that," Stefan says, as though he doesn't care. "I'll set your family on fire."
The clenching of Klaus's fists is damned near audible. This makes Stefan smile. (This is what makes him smile, these days.)
"What exactly do you think you are playing at?" Klaus says, voice low and steady, exuding a semblance of calm.
"I'm just enjoying my freedom, comrade." Stefan plays with the severed head on his lap. Licks a strip of congealed blood off his finger. "The freedom you granted me."
There's no response on the other end.
Stefan pours himself a glass of scotch. "Or maybe you're starting to regret that?"
"Mark my words, friend," Klaus finally says, slow and deliberate. "By the time I am done with you, you will regret the day you were brought into this world."
Stefan’s smile spreads, twists up into something that’s almost a grimace. "Is that a promise?"
If Stefan were to describe himself as feeling anything, he'd say he feels… good. It feels good to be a step ahead, to be out from under someone's thumb, to have absolutely nothing to lose.
(He has already lost everything; that's how he knows that he's finally winning.)
Really, he thinks, he should probably thank Klaus; he hasn't had this much fun in years.
There’s an incident in Florida. He's in some sleazy nightclub, drinking from a young man in a dark corner; the thumping of a processed bass drum beats in time to the slowing pulse of the man he cradles in his hands. If anyone were to look over now, this would seem like a loving embrace.
Stefan drops the boy, dead now, back in his chair, too-blue eyes staring vacantly up at the strobe lights. Truthfully the boy left something to be desired. Stefan's always preferred his blood fresh and pure, not laced with illicit chemicals. Damon would probably disagree. But he's not here with Damon.
Stefan moves on. Heads back out to the dance floor.
Then he freezes, feeling the weight of someone’s gaze. Turns around, sees a man watching him from an alcove.
Stefan moves through the crowd so fast, he's up on the alcove with his hand around the man's throat before the music's skipped two beats.
It’s only then that he realises he got it wrong. The human gapes at him, eyes wide. Blue eyes, again. Stefan's truly growing sick of those.
"Sorry," he says, not sounding sorry at all. Lets go of the frightened man. Briefly considers eating him. But no, the rush of adrenaline's passed. He just wants to be alone now.
He's never been good at this nightlife thing. (He was, once.)
Sometimes he gets bored. Puts the phone on loudspeaker.
"Hey there, friend," he greets when the call picks up.
"What the hell do you think you are doing," is Klaus's gritted-teeth response.
"Me? Oh, I'm just dining with some friends," Stefan says cheerfully. "Well, in a manner of speaking." Looks out of his window, at the starry night sky. "It's a beautiful night. Wish you could join me."
Klaus chuckles, sounds almost amused. "As do I, comrade. You can't imagine what I plan to do to you."
"Are you trying to turn me on?" Stefan slashes open the limp wrist of his dining companion, squeezes the blood into his wine glass.
Klaus doesn't say anything for a moment. Then his voice comes quiet, tense, almost gentle: "I will find you, Stefan."
Stefan sits back, raises his glass to his lips. "I'm counting on it."
There's no response.
"It's been good talking to you, pal." Stefan hangs up the line.
He’s in Georgia for Christmas. It's a little too close to… other places; but it's necessary to pass through on his way to Tennessee. Stefan has some old friends in Nashville he hasn't seen in massacre-free decades. Figures now’s a good a time as any to re-forge old connections, etcetera.
He's checking the baggage van when his phone shrieks a ringtone. For a split second he thinks it’s Damon or Elena, and panic hits him, swift and nauseating, it’s so inconvenient, so unfair; it’s what he ran out of town to escape.
But when he presses the phone to his ear, it’s Klaus’s voice that comes through. The relief is sickening.
“How’s my family doing?” Klaus asks, too lively.
It immediately sets Stefan on edge. “Klaus?”
“Yes, it’s me, old chum,” Klaus says, equally cheerful and disdainful. “I realised that it wasn’t fair to leave it up to you to arrange these chats each time. Must be costing a fortune.”
Stefan shakes his head. “What are you up to?”
“Oh, can’t a friend simply get in touch with his friend? Must we have ulterior motives for everything, Stefan?” There’s a dark undercurrent to the question.
On instinct, Stefan turns, surveys his surroundings. But there’s nothing. Just the empty parking lot. Some birds in the sky.
“I would like to know, though,” Klaus continues, “how is my family?”
The question is calm, but there’s a sliver of tension in it. This, more than anything, makes Stefan feel assured. “Oh, they’re great.” He hoists himself up into the back of the van. “Just looking at them now.” He knocks on a coffin for Klaus’s benefit.
“Wonderful,” Klaus says, smoothly. “Well, do keep taking care of them, will you. And I’ll return the favour.”
Stefan leans against a coffin. “What’s that supposed to mean.”
“Your brother is unexpectedly accommodating, did you know?” Klaus says. In the background, there’s a yell of pain. “Then again, perhaps that is to be expected from a brainwashed vampire. You can get them to do the funniest things to themselves.” Another distant cry of pain.
Stefan’s jaw clenches. “Stay the fuck away from my brother.”
“Now now, Stefan. Let’s not be a hypocrite. I’m a man of compromise. Give me back mine, I’ll release yours.”
Stefan closes his eyes. Silently counts to ten. He can’t afford to break. If he breaks, then he’s lost. Overwhelmed. They’ll overwhelm him.
(But of course they will. Sooner or later. He’s never managed to escape them completely. It’s the one thing at which he’s always truly failed.)
He opens his eyes, and says, “Fine. Whatever you say.”
There’s a moment of silence. Then, “Good man.” The line goes dead.
They meet in New York. In Times Square. Midnight, on New Year’s Eve. There’s something romantic about that. Probably Klaus planned it that way. Stefan doesn’t linger on that thought.
Minutes before the bell chimes, he arrives in the square; around him, happy families and couples linger, awash in warmth and laughter. Stefan tries his best to ignore them. Looks instead for the face he hasn’t seen for months, the one that’s permanently branded in his memory.
(No compulsion could make him forget now.)
“There you are, my friend,” a familiar voice says.
And Klaus is there, light blue eyes blazing.
This is the moment, Stefan thinks. Doesn’t know what that means, completely, but it hits him like a remembered melody.
“You know what I’m going to ask,” Klaus says plainly.
Stefan nods. “Two blocks down. White van.” Pauses. “And mine?”
“Last time I saw, safe and sound.” Klaus closes the distance between them. Puts his hands on Stefan’s shoulders, and leans in until their foreheads are almost touching.
What must people think? Stefan wonders. The sight of the two of them like this.
It occurs to him that he doesn’t care.
(Of course not. He doesn’t care about anything anymore.)
“Do you know, I truly thought we’d make it right this time around.” Klaus grips him tight, eyes glistening with some emotion Stefan doesn’t care to place.
“Well, whose fault was that?”
Klaus smiles slightly. One hand moves in a blur, and then Stefan feels it, the sharp wooden point pressed to his back through his shirt.
He doesn’t move. “You’re gonna do it right here? Around everybody?”
“They won’t notice.” Klaus sneers. “And it seems poetic. You were always afraid to die alone, weren’t you?”
Stefan swallows. Around them, the crowd starts chanting, counting down the clock. “Ten! Nine! …”
“It’s been good knowing you, brother,” Klaus tells him, pressing the point of the stake over Stefan’s heart.
Then he pauses.
“Eight! Seven! …”
“Well? Go on. Do it.” Stefan holds Klaus’s gaze. “Kill me. I’ll even let you.”
Klaus’s eyes flash, some emotion Stefan can almost place.
“Six! Five! …”
“This is the moment, Nik,” Stefan murmurs; it seems the right thing to say. “It’s now or never.”
Klaus does nothing but gaze at him, expression unfathomable.
Stefan takes an unnecessary breath, and waits.