title: they say that true love hurts (well this could almost kill me)
notes: This fic starts directly after “I remember you.” Everything that happened after that phrase in the episode does not happen in this fic. Feedback is awesomesauce and much appreciated.
summary: Some things are better left in the past.
“Rebekah,” he called to her, eyes never once leaving Stefan’s. “Be a dear and give us a moment, would you?”
Out of the corner of his eye, he could see Rebekah bristling at his dismissal. She opened her mouth, most likely to protest, but really, he didn’t have time for another one of her childish tantrums. Not when there were more important matters at hand.
”Now,” he ordered her before she could utter a word, leaving no room for argument. “And don’t forget the door on your way out.”
After a tense moment, she finally moved, practically stomping out as she slammed the door shut, the warehouse and everything within trembling with the force of it. And in less than a millisecond, Klaus was on Stefan, pushing him up against a wall with a hand wrapped around his throat.
“It’s been a long time, hasn’t it?” Klaus murmured, thumb coming up to gently trace the the other vampire’s jaw. “Nearly a century.”
Stefan let out a breathy, choked laugh, though there was no humor in it. “Yeah, well, that was your own fault,” he gasped out, clearly having difficulty breathing. And yet he made no attempt to remove the hand from his throat.
Klaus’s lips curled, pleased.
“It was,” he allowed. “But we’re thankfully all done with that. Now,” he continued, leaning in until their faces were mere centimeters apart. He could hear Stefan’s heartbeat speed up, but it wasn’t fear Klaus smelled. “What is it, exactly, you remember?”
He felt Stefan swallow, his Adam’s apple moving beneath his palm. But even then, he didn’t hesitate, looking Klaus square in the eye. “I remember us,” he answered, strong and unwavering.
Klaus tutted. “Oh, none of those brooding, terse statements of yours.” He carefully increased the pressure on Stefan’s throat. “I’ll need you to be a tad more specific, love.”
Stefan exhaled raggedly. “I remember,” he started, voice rough. “Your birthday present to me in 1924.”
“Ah, yes,” Klaus smiled fondly. “The Harwood Heights Massacre. I was especially proud of that.” He rewarded Stefan by slightly loosening his grip and the young vampire immediately sighed in relief - only to stiffen when Klaus leaned further in, lips ghosting his like a memory on the verge of being remembered.
“And do you remember how you thanked me?” Klaus asked, grinning smugly at the memory of that night.
Stefan didn’t answer, his jaw tensing. His heartbeat raced even faster, but his gaze remained steady, fearless even now. And just like before, Klaus felt that same rush of exhilaration pulse through his veins, still in awe of the knowledge that, despite knowing what Klaus was capable of, what he could do - what he was, the young vampire didn’t fear him. Instead, he respected him - trusted him with his life.
“Well?” Klaus asked, suddenly impatient to claim those lips as his own once again. He’d waited long enough.
Stefan swallowed once more. “I remember.”
“Good,” Klaus murmured, smirking as he bridged the gap between their lips for the first time in nearly a century.
“I also remember that you loved me.”
After a moment, he smiled grimly. “Well, so I did,” he conceded quietly.
His grip on Stefan’s throat slowly loosened, fingers uncurling as his hand fell from the young vampire’s neck and back to his side. Klaus stepped back, face impassive and betraying nothing.
But Stefan still continued to stare at him, his gaze no longer as hard or closed off as before. Instead, his expression was open, soft - sad. He knew what those words really meant. They both did.
I remember that I never said it back.
Klaus turned away and walked towards the door, letting out a silent, humorless laugh. How easy it was, to only remember the best parts of the past and forget the rest.
“Come along, Stefan,” he called over his shoulder, leaving the past to where it belonged - in memories. “Rebekah doesn’t like to be kept waiting.”
A hand appeared on his shoulder, the touch tentative. “Wait.”
Klaus turned his head and arched an eyebrow. “What?”
“I -” Stefan started, but broke off. He cleared his throat, a blush rising in his cheeks. Klaus’s eyebrows rose in surprise and he turned around fully. Well, this was new. He couldn’t recall Stefan ever making that expression before.
“Um, I just - I wanted to say - thank you,” Stefan said, not looking him in the eye.
Klaus’s eyes narrowed. “You’re thanking me,” he stated flatly.
Stefan coughed and finally glanced up at him. He looked incredibly uncomfortable. “Yeah, um - for that.”
Klaus blinked. And then snorted, eventually breaking out into a hearty laugh. He patted Stefan on the shoulder, who only looked on in confusion.
“My friend,” he told Stefan with a grin. “Do not force me to compel you to forget again, if these horrific instances are what I have to look forward to.”
A smile tugged at Stefan’s lips and he let out a chuckle, eyes softening, and suddenly, Klaus couldn’t look away. Something must have shown on his face, because Stefan abruptly coughed and backed away, stumbling out some poor excuse. But Klaus didn’t miss the stain of red on his cheeks.
Klaus chose to say nothing. Instead, he nodded and continued walking towards the door, to Rebekah and Gloria, Stefan not far behind.
He had been right, after all. The past was best left to memories.
He turned to glance at Stefan and the other man’s head abruptly snapped to look at the opposite wall, the move too sharp to be a coincidence. Klaus’s lips slowly curled into a predatory grin.
Especially when one had so much in the future to look forward to.