The Pit Of Your Heart
Jeremy/Katherine | bizarre future!fic I guess | ~1150 words | R
For wheatear's prompt: "Because it's wrong." I don't know what this is and I preemptively apologise for it now. Warning for incestuous undertones (necessarily) and suicidal ideation themes. Thanks again to upupa_epops for making sure this was fit to be posted.
It's a novel offer: "I could pretend to be her for you, you know."
"That's totally sick" -- as though that means something.
He looks at old family albums a lot these days.*
"Nostalgia is for the weak" -- she would say this, as though there weren't a faded picture of her own long-dead family tucked away in her bra. Or even somewhere less appropriate.
"Do you miss it?" One of them asks this.
Points to the old photos of days yore. "That."
The other considers. "No."
One evening, she tells him to follow her somewhere. He does. Contrary to what his rebellious adolescent self would claim, this is what he is good at.
(Their destination, suitably enough, is the middle of nowhere. This suits him just fine.)
She wants him to lie down in the middle of the highway. He does that, too.
It isn't long before the screeching of brakes announces his near-death, closely followed by the death-death of the dumbstruck samaritan. Jeremy vaguely wonders what that must be like.
Katherine is licking dark blood off her lips, and looking at him like her next meal.
Truthfully, it makes him painfully hard. (Some things don't change.)
"You want to kiss me, don't you."
He nods in a mechanical fashion.
"Come here, then," she says, as a schoolteacher says to a shy kindergartener.
Of course, he obeys.
*Sometimes, he considers burning them all.
This isn't tiresome adolescent rage at unsuspecting still models. Worse than rage-inspiring, they're simply irrelevant.
(The less worse truth is that these days, he can't look at images of Elena without wanting to peel his skin off.)
She asks him once, what he thinks he's doing. Would drive him to do this.
He stares at a speck of dust on the wall. "I guess I'm just damaged."
Katherine laughs, a disturbingly girlish giggle. Presses the pad of her finger against his bottom lip. "Poor sad Jeremy Gilbert who's seen too much."
And there's a pause as they take each other in, eyes darkening. Here's something surprising (but not really): He's the one to speak next. "I think I want to do something else now."
On cue, Katherine's hands reach for his belt. "It's good to want things, Jeremy."
It becomes normal.
He can think this without irony, because there is no "normal" here, in a town where ghosts still roam the streets and vampires run the town council. The framed image of his sister-cousin behind his eyes each time he comes inside her identical twin -- that's normal, too.
"Have you told her?"
"Of course not," he says absently.
"But she knows?"
She shakes her head in an affectionate sort of way, and hisses against his lips, "You Gilberts."
He flicks his tongue against her dark red one, and wonders how long until the bloody end.
The funniest thing about Katherine is, she likes to play therapist.
You see, he's trying to punish his sister for preferring other (murderous) men. He's fucking her doppelganger as an outlet for his sick repressed desires and self-hate. He's all twisted up; he might never be right again. So it goes on.
"If you think all of that, then why are you here with me?" he breathes.
"Why else?" Katherine simply retorts.
Surprisingly, it's Elena's idea for him to move out.
"Oh yeah?" He reverts back to sullen teenager. "Where exactly am I meant to go." What's gonna happen when I'm not here.
Elena is wiping her soapy hands and not looking at him. "You're an adult, Jer. I wish I could look after you forever, but I can't."
The scene ends with a tired slammed door, signalling both redundant rebellion and fervent agreement.
He fumes in a self-indulgent sort of way. Wonders how it is that she can prefer the company of the dead to him. (He's allowed to be a hypocrite sometimes.)
This is when a wild thought emerges.
Katherine is bored. "And here I was hoping you wouldn't be quite so repetitively cliche."
"Will you do it for me or not?"
She surveys him with narrowed eyes for a long time.
He starts spending his days sketching out ways to die.
There's only one way he's really counting on. Still, the pencil feels good between his fingers again. He thinks he'd like to make a different kind of album.
It doesn't take long for her to find the sketchpad. He may have left it lying around.
She treats the images with a skeptical eye. "I could have killed you already, you know."
"Then why didn't you."
She tosses the sketches away. "Because of your many amazing talents, of course."
He doesn't find her quite so opaque as he used to. "You understand, don't you?"
"You're beneath my understanding."
He grips her wrist as she moves past him. "Please. Katherine."
Quicker than he can comprehend, she's pulling out of his grasp and backhanding him across the room. By the time he's gathered himself, she's long gone.
The sketchpad lays open on the drawing of a noose.
Katherine is unreachable and invisible for a good two months.
Elena seems glad of it. Jeremy doesn't care what Elena thinks.
In the end, she finds him in the woods.
This means something, he thinks, and tucks it away in the back of his mind.
"I've considered," she tells him, pursing her full lips.
"And?" he says, and tries not to sound childishly hopeful.
"I'll do it."
He exhales, long and relieved.
She's staring off to the side, staring at the golden orange sunset. "And then I'm leaving."
He blinks. "Because of this?"
Her gaze is sharp and irritated. "I should have left a long time ago."
"Why did you stay."
"Because I could." She's staring into the horizon again, distant and enigmatic. He suddenly longs for his drawing pencil. "I have all of eternity, you know," she says, almost to herself. "I can do what I want."
A pause. Then, "What do you want, Katherine?"
In the end, it ends with her familiar teeth in his jugular.
He thinks it might be the happiest moment of his life.
(Maybe not, but it is the last.)
Elena is grief-stricken.
But Elena is always grief-stricken.
It begins (again) with him jerking back to consciousness on a dirty bed.
Elena's eyes are full of reproach and questions and tears.
He should say "I'm sorry," he should say, "You didn't deserve this," he should maybe say, "I was led astray by your evil twin."
Instead he says nothing, and thinks, Katherine's gone.
Long after everyone else is dust in the earth:
A deserted highway at sundown. And the same offer: "I could pretend for you."
We could pretend.
She looks more like Elena than she ever has. (He'll never see that familiar face again.)
We could pretend, she offers, sun glinting off her perfect profile.
It seems the thing to do.