When In Rome
Title: The Returned
Disclaimers: All characters, events, and ideas from The Vampire Diaries are the property of Lisa Jane Smith. Anything from the Buffyverse (i.e. characters, events, places, ideas, etc from BtVS and AtS) is the creation of Joss Whedon. I am only borrowing them and make no profit. All things Anita Blake are the creation and property of Laurell K. Hamilton.
Spoilers: All 4 books in the Vampire Diaries Quartet (The Awakening, The Struggle, The Fury, and Dark Reunion), through Incubus Dreams for Anita Blake, Buffy season 7, and the Angel series finale (season 5).
Summary: Sometimes the good die young, but they don't always stay dead. Warriors of the Light who return from paradise only do so because the Powers That Be allow it. But the Powers don't do anything without expecting something in return.
Author's Ramblings: I am screwing around with the timelines in this, especially for the Vampire Diaries. The novels are set in the early 90's (like 1990 and 1991). For purposes of this story Elena et al. are the same age as Buffy and co.
1: When in Rome
Rome was . . . busy. She wasn't used to quite so much going on around her. So many sounds. So many sights. So many people. A few short years ago, she would never have believed she might miss her small hometown. Of course, a few years ago she hadn't believed in monsters and she hadn't died twice. She couldn't help the wry smile at the thought of it. Being torn between two gorgeous guys who had a few centuries on the guys she usually dated and then dying to save everything that mattered . . . yeah, that can make a different person out of the coldest high school ice queen.
She turned expectantly, feeling him approach though he didn't make a sound. It had been this way ever since the night she came back. Her senses were heightened, especially that prickle at the back of her neck-a holdover from an ancient time when humans were just another easy meal for whatever came upon them in the darkness. Bonnie had called it her spider-sense. Whatever it was, it worked like a personal advance warning system against all the things that went bump in the night. She watched the doorway, knowing he was there, at the top of the stairs. When he stepped into the room, her breath caught in the back of her throat. He was beautiful. Green eyes as dark as oak leaves, coal black hair tumbling in waves around his face-he was letting it grow out. She felt her heart give that special little extra thump when his eyes landed on her, drinking in the sight of her. She could see his soul, purity and goodness shining out when he looked at her and that was the thing, she thought, that was worth living for.
"Elena." He didn't speak her name so much as breathe it. There was no need to say anything else, and he wasted no time crossing the room, joining her by the window. She settled into his arms, pale blonde head resting against his chest. "Missing home again." He didn't make the words a question.
Elena placed her right hand over his heart and lifted her head, lapis blue eyes meeting his as she whispered, "I am home."
"But you miss Fell's Church. You miss Virginia. You miss Margaret, and your aunt. Bonnie. Matt. Even Caroline, if you're honest with yourself." There was no denial in her face.
Elena turned in his arms, pressing her back against him as she stared out into the night sky. "Margaret's in school now. The smartest in her class. Aunt Judith and Robert are going to have a baby." There were tears in her eyes when she craned her neck, looking up at him. "I wish I could be there." She paused, sighed. A human would never have heard the rest of it, but then, he wasn't human was he? "I never thought living again would hurt so much." The vampire was secretly glad that she had turned back to the window. If she didn't look, she wouldn't see the pain he knew must be in his own eyes. He kissed the back of her neck, whispering endearments in Italian. She knew enough to understand what most of them meant. She could tell what she said had hurt him, though she wasn't sure if he hurt because she hurt, or if he simply thought she was regretting her decision to make a life with him.
The former queen of Robert E. Lee high school turned, placing her hands on either side of his face, forcing him to look her in the eye. "I love you, Stefan Salvatore. You have to remember that. I miss home, yes, and sometimes I wish we could have found a way to stay, but I will never, ever regret any moment I've spent with you, and I will never stop loving you. Nothing, not even death, could ever make that change. I should know," she added, offering him a small smile that didn't quite reach her eyes, but it was enough. He kissed her once, softly, and they spent the next few moments in silence.
The peace of the night was broken by voices. At first they thought tourists, or perhaps students, but distinctively American, probably from "sunny California" judging by the accents. The couple leaned forward, peering into the darkness for the source of the noise. A large shape, vaguely human shaped but too big tumbled into the alley below the window. A tiny blonde woman barreled after it, leaping onto the creature's back. "Andrew. Dawn. Over here." She struggled with the creature, pinning it with impossible strength. The creature was a werewolf, one the couple knew all too well. Two more people appeared in the alley, a young woman and a slightly older man. The glint of metal in their hands drove any other thoughts from Elena's mind. The first woman called out to them, struggling against the wolf. "Now! I can't hold it long. Shoot it!"
"NO! MEREDITH!" Elena screamed. Stefan pushed past her and launched himself out the window, landing in a predator's crouch and pushing the blonde woman off of the werewolf. Elena missed what happened next in her frantic rush down the stairs and outside. She arrived in time to see both weapons skid across the ground-dart guns, a far off part of her mind noticed-and the blonde woman was swinging a wooden stake at Stefan with deadly accuracy. Another shadowy figure was forcing its way past the younger woman and the man, trying to get to Stefan. Black clothes, black hair, a deadly grace in every movement. There was only one person in the world it could be.
Damon Salvatore grabbed the woman's hand, knocking the stake away from his brother's heart. The woman moved quickly, spinning around and throwing punches and kicks at an astonishing rate, for a human that was. And she was definitely human. The young man lay in the alleyway, out cold. No one had struck him. Actually, he seemed to have tripped over his own two feet and fallen, head striking the rough stone wall as he stumbled. His chest rose and fell steadily, so the others ignored him for the moment. The younger woman had produced a stake from somewhere and was moving up behind Damon. "Oh no you don't," Elena said, tackling the girl in a move that would have made Matt Honeycutt-football star, friend, and ex-boyfriend from the pre-Stefan era-very proud. Elena had to admit, the girl was an experienced fighter, but she wasn't really concerned with matching skills against her. Right now, the objective was to keep any and all pointy wooden objects away from her husband and brother-in-law (in that order, she was fairly certain). She pushed the girl, presumably the Dawn that the blonde woman had called out to, away from her and jumped in between the blonde and those she considered hers. "STOP!" she yelled, grabbing the woman's wrist.
Based on what she had seen earlier, Elena should not have been able to hold the blonde woman, but she was pleasantly surprised to find it was true. The surprise was quickly replaced by confusion and fear as her hand met the other woman's skin. Her flesh felt as if it were trying to crawl off, goosebumps erupting all over her normally porcelain-smooth skin. Something stirred between them and a white glow spread from their glowing hands outward, until the pair were shining. It was not unlike that other-wordly ghost light Elena had emitted when she came to the clearing that night, the night she was sent back to the world of the living. Try as she might, she couldn't seem to let go, as if the two of them has fused into a single being. A magical wind swept around the two of them, pulling blonde hair straight back and lifting them off the ground just slightly.
As suddenly as it began, it stopped so forcefully that they were thrown to the ground where they remained, staring at one another and gasping for breath. They spoke at the same time, anger and suspicion ringing clear in their words.
"What the hell did you do to me," the other blonde hissed, hazel eyes narrowed.
"What are you," Elena said.
"Well, it certainly took you long enough," a new voice said. A shapely brunette just sort of appeared between them, bathed in the same white light.
"Cordelia," the other blonde said, blinking in apparent astonishment.
"In the flesh . . . at least I think so. You never know what the PTB are gonna pull next." The Cordelia-woman wrinkled her nose in distaste and brushed at her clothes, apparently trying to remove invisible dirt from the spotless white fabric of her dress.
"I thought you were supposed to be dead," the other blonde said, suspicion plain in her voice. She didn't seem to be a very trusting sort.
"Yeah, well, I could say the same about you, too, Buffy. And by the way, hello, nice to see you too." Cordelia turned to face Elena. "And you must be Elena Gilbert. I hear you were the first one. The PTB said to apologize for the whole naked thing. They hadn't quite gotten the hang of this yet."
"What are you talking about?" Elena said, relaxing only slightly as Stefan and Damon crouched on either side of her, Meredith the werewolf behind them growling in warning.
"The Powers That Be. You know, the beings responsible for, well, pretty much everything. They sent us all back for one reason or another. If it's any consolation, Darla came back naked too; of course I don't think that was as much the PTB's doing as the evil lawyer's screwing up the incantations they used. And well, she did come back from hell, but whatever." Cordelia shook her head and smiled at her audience, giving lingering approving looks to Stefan and Damon before returning her gaze to Buffy and Elena in turn. "Welcome to your destiny, ladies. We have an apocalypse to avert."
"Oh God, it's Tuesday isn't it?" Dawn moaned. It must have been a private joke because only she, Buffy, and the recently returned to consciousness Andrew.
"We should probably all go somewhere more comfortable. I think there's a lot of explaining to do," Cordelia said, looking expectantly at Elena. She nodded and stood, allowing Stefan to help her into the house, not botehring to look back and make sure the others followed. Damon disappeared into the cellar with Meredith, planning to lock her in someplace safe in case the crazy Americans with their wooden stakes and dart guns got any more ideas about attacking his wolf before she shifted back into human form at dawn.