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stargate, DanielJackson

Torment Of Tantalus (chapter 1)

Posted on 2012.10.24 at 13:29
Tags: , , ,




torment_of_tantalus_fanart_by_lovingcompulsion-d5izv5g




Stefan paces around the cave, fingers perpetually rising to—and poking at—the wound on his shoulder. Deep red and sunken into his flesh, the bite’s venom spreading along the bulging veins surrounding it. He has to get out quickly. Walks up to the magical wall blocking his passage, nudges it forcefully, walks to the back of the cave; shoves ineffectually at some rocks, searching for a weak point. There is none. He keeps looking, placing his hand in his pocket; sparing the potentially fatal werewolf bite from his fidgety fingers.  At least he won’t have to worry about getting the cure from Klaus once he escapes. He chuckles warmly at the thought of how far they’ve come, mind drifting back to the beginning.


It starts with Stefan crushing Klaus’s heart, literally. Klaus’s temporary death unleashes an assault of compelled away memories on Stefan’s mind. Different from when Klaus compelled him to remember, this time the memories have added dimension; sense and feeling and cohesion that had been lacking. This time he realises how special what they had had been. Of course, at first he suppresses the feelings, hiding them away, withdrawing from the whole Klaus issue. There are other things to worry about and occupy himself with: Elena turning for one. By the time Klaus is back in his own body, Stefan already feels like he might explode, from need and want and guilt and self-loathing. Damon is giving him funny looks, but not saying anything. No one else has noticed.


Then one day Klaus settles in a chair at the boarding house, apparently just to be a general nuisance.


“I really thought we would be getting on together by now,” Klaus says, with the same half broken, half amused tone he always has.


And the damn breaks.


Stefan rushes at Klaus, pushing him into a kiss that’s more of a bite. Klaus returns the kiss just as violently, no hesitation at all. They scramble together for a string of moments that run into each other like colliding trains. And then break apart by inches, still threaded together by fingernails. 


“I hate you,” Stefan whispers.


“I know,” Klaus says with a smugly delighted expression on his face.


In the following weeks, they fuck, a lot. On tables, in corners, fields, restaurant restrooms, and beds, but always places no one they know would catch them, much to Klaus’s dismay. 


“This doesn’t mean anything,” Stefan says, wonders whether the words sound quite as weak as when Klaus used to threaten to kill him. Waits for Klaus’s usual smirked ‘of course not’. It doesn’t come.



***



Klaus glances at the clock again; Stefan was supposed to be back from his meeting with the Tilda Corp CEO three hours ago. They probably just went for drinks, and Klaus tries to supress the possessive spike that appears at that thought; besides it’s not like Stefan isn’t perfectly capable of handling himself. Klaus would like to think he’s above caring but has long ago resigned himself to Stefan being the exception.  


“Niklaus, I have news,” Elijah says, his face holds his usual stoic expression, but Klaus can see the undercurrent of worry present.


“What?” Klaus asks, affecting a grin.


“My witches have informed me that some of their kin have taken Stefan.”


“What, where are they?” Klaus snaps angrily, covering his panic with rage.


“Stefan is here,” Elijah says, handing Klaus a piece of a map.


Klaus takes it, contemplating how the location was so easily found, even for Elijah.


“They’re luring me into an ambush,” he states.


“It appears so,” Elijah replies, nodding.


Klaus says nothing more, heading towards the place as fast as he can go.



***



Klaus hovers nearby; just because he’s indestructible doesn’t mean he can be reckless and risk the witches killing Stefan before he steps onto the site. He edges closer; he can’t see or hear any of the witches, so they must be hiding from him. He scopes the place, moving in a circle, impatience growing as he fails to find anyone. Minutes later, he suppresses the urge to mockingly yell ‘come out, come out, wherever you are’; Stefan’s too important to lose the advantage. 


Then Klaus hears a sigh. It’s Stefan, he’s sure of it.


“It’s about time,” Stefan says in an amused, tired tone. “It’s okay, I’m all alone down here.”


It’s probably a trick. Klaus doesn’t care; he speeds down to the caves, coming to an abrupt halt as he slams into something an instant before reaching Stefan.


“What the hell?”


“No entry to vampires,” Stefan laughs, tapping on the air in front of him.


“And I suppose you want me to get you out,” Klaus says with fond amusement, mood lightened by Stefan’s good spirits.


“No rush, I could always find a way out alone,” Stefan says, feigning a pout.


“I’ll go call some witches,” Klaus says, rolling his eyes as he moves to leave the caves.


“Wait, stay,” Stefan asks.


“What is it?”


“I just don’t want to be alone here,” Stefan says.


“When those witches who put you here come back you’ll wish otherwise,” Klaus argues, looking at Stefan with incredulity.  


“Just stay for a bit; I’ll even let you rant about Damon.”


“We have to get you out before your captors return, there’s no time for idle chit chat.”


“I’m pretty sure they’ll be gone a while,” Stefan says.


“What’re you not telling me?”


Stefan sighs and rolls up his sleeve. Klaus’s chest constricts in shock as he sees it; flesh dark and rotting; a werewolf bite. 



***




Stefan watches as Klaus bites into his wrist.


“What are you doing,” Stefan asks.


“Even if I can’t get across this, my blood should be able to, after all the barrier is made out of air.”


“It’s made out of magic.”


“Just come here already.”


Stefan stands, Klaus bites his wrist again, and places it against the barrier, the blood doesn’t smear against it like glass, just sits there--waiting. Stefan puts his own hand against the barrier where Klaus’s wrist is. They both stand there for a tense moment, and then Stefan chuckles, shows Klaus his bare--spotless--hand.


“That would’ve been too easy,” Stefan says, sinking back to the ground.



***




Klaus stands at the edge of the caves with a little girl; he doesn’t want to see Stefan in this state—doesn’t see why he should. Once he fixes this it won’t matter anyway. He leans down to the girl’s eye level and speaks.


“I want you to take this mug all the way into the cave, and when you see a man, give it to him okay?”


The girl nods with a typical blank compelled air and proceeds, carefully stepping inside the cave. Klaus watches her, pretending he doesn’t see Stefan in the background; trying to breathe like this isn’t the difference between salvation and the end of everything he cares about. She reaches the barrier and steps through like nothing is there, but the hand carrying the mug lags behind.


Confused, she tries to yank the mug through, which results in it toppling out of her little fingers. The blood splatters onto the ground, pooling tauntingly up against the barrier.  



***




Klaus strides towards the group of his witches pouring over grimoires.


“Why isn’t the barrier down yet?” he snaps.


Everyone stays silent, avoiding his gaze and staring intently at old spells. They’re nervous, which is unusual for them; he doesn’t keep the meek in his entourage. This is bad.  


“Tell me!” Klaus growls.


“It isn’t an ordinary spell that stops vampires from crossing. It’s a curse.”


“Oh, swell. And how are you going to break this curse?” Klaus asks forcefully.


“That’s the thing; only you can.”


There’s another silence.


“I don’t appreciate this slow meting out of information; just tell me what needs to be done!”


“You need to find redemption.”


“What!”


“Only once you have redeemed will the barrier dissipate.” 



***




Damon ignores Klaus and the girl Klaus is force feeding his blood to and walks straight into the cave.


“Hey,” Stefan says, giving him a nod.


“Hey, care package 2.0,” Damon grins, throwing the bundle into the cave.


“Thanks.”


“I’ll fix this,” Damon states.


“Sure you will,” Stefan replies, words somehow assured and lacking conviction simultaneously.   


Damon nods back and walks out.



***




Riffling through the items Damon left him, Stefan smiles as he finds a couple of Grisham novels. He flips one open, but his vision blurs as he tries to take in the words on the page. His mind floats away on a haze of spinning words, and then he’s somewhere else.


Stefan is almost three quarters through reading ‘the confession’, and trying to ignore the smell of blood permeating the air; the words sit static on the page but he can’t comprehend them, he looks over at Klaus. His lover’s head is tilted down at an angle that highlights his cheekbones, shadow starkly construing the stunning planes of his face, and exposes his long slender neck. Stefan knows it’s wrong to find the sight of Klaus drinking beautiful, but savours it anyway. Watches as blood paints his lips, an idle droplet on his chin; somehow subtle and messy at the same time. The girl in his arms is pretty, but moderately so, she sinks lower, fading. Stefan gives an audible sigh but says nothing at the thought that Klaus might kill her; they wouldn’t have gotten this far if they hadn’t allowed for push and pull.


“Don’t look at me like that,” Klaus snaps, without even looking, he continues to take another drink for appearances sake, but stops soon after.


Stefan still doesn’t say anything and hides his smile. He goes to the fridge, picking up a blood bag and letting the cold sear into his palm for a moment before languidly pulling the top off. He waits an extra beat (he’s the one in control, not the bloodlust) and takes a sip.


He doesn’t like to be a disappointment. He can be better for Klaus, especially when Klaus is trying so hard for him. He folds over the top of the blood bag as Klaus approaches him wolf-like, lets the warm blood wash luxuriously over his lips as their mouths meet in a kiss. This is Klaus’s push to his pull; they will reach a medium together (Stefan’s not turning ripper for Klaus, and Klaus isn’t turning ‘saintly’ for Stefan; they’ve already agreed, they’re making it work).


Later, sated and lying naked on sheets with a ridiculously high thread count, Stefan finishes reading his book. It’s the last of the books he has with him; he’ll probably go back to the boarding house in the morning to bring a few more over. It’s at that thought he pauses, he hasn’t been back to his house in almost four months. 


“What are you grinning for,” Klaus asks, startling him out of his thoughts.


“We’re living together,” Stefan replies, somewhat surprised.


“You only just realised,” Klaus mocks, slightly too quick to be believable. 


The bed turns to dirt floor, and Stefan sighs with frustration at the realisation that he was hallucinating.



***




Caroline stands on a hill top just beyond the caves and looks down--well she’s definitely in the right place. About two hundred people are milling around; witches, hybrids, vampires, humans, all following Klaus’s orders. People in lab coats and hard hats and grimoires and altars spill all over the place.


“What are they doing?” she asks, indicating the people with drills and cranes as she walks up to Klaus.


Klaus stamps his foot where someone points, and a whole section of the ground collapses.


“We’re opening up the caves, and then I’m going to find a weak point in the barrier.”


Caroline looks around, noticing the plethora of holes and worn out witches beside them. Immediately decides that this isn’t a productive plan and makes a mental note to never mention aloud that Damon was right.   


“You need to be more positive,” Caroline says instead.


“More positive? I’m doing everything I can! I even had those scientists put my blood in a centrifuge, so I could try to get the constituents of my blood across the damned barrier. And I’m going to keep going until I find something that works! So do explain, sweetheart, how I could be more positive?” Klaus says, half sneering, half frustrated. 


“You’re trying all the things that haven’t worked again and again, instead of trying the one thing that has a chance; if you’ve already given up on Stefan at least do him the respect of admitting it!” Caroline argues.


Klaus growls angrily at her, amber lighting his eyes, but she only holds his glare in return and a moment later the anger fades. She watches as his shoulders slump and he seems to fold into himself.


“I can’t lose him Caroline,” Klaus whispers, voice cracking over consonants.


“I know,” she replies softly, wondering how someone over a millennium old could look like such a vulnerable child.



***




“Are you sure you can handle all this?” Klaus asks, filling a large bottle with his blood in case they figure something out while he’s gone.


She gives him a glare that says ‘do you know me?’


“Right, you’re Caroline, what was I thinking.”


“Come on,” she orders, taking the bottle and dragging him off.


Klaus groans as the Camaro comes into sight.


“Why are you here?”


“I’m not going to let you screw this up. Get in,” Damon answers.



***




Stefan listens as Klaus orders around his witches, thinks about telling Klaus to go easier on them, to be less bossy, but his eyelids droop and he’s somewhere else again.


“I have a surprise for you,” Klaus says with a wicked cheeriness.


“Since when do you do surprises? Should I be concerned?”


“I’ve decided that we’re going to get married,” Klaus says.


“You decided,” Stefan repeats with amusement, knowing this is the only way Klaus could pop the question.  


“And I’ve organised the whole thing; it happens this afternoon.”


“You did what!?”


“I did this for us Stefan, now we never have to be apart,” Klaus states simply, grin still in place.  


“And you thought the best way to do that was to spring it on me at the last minute and strong arm me into it,” Stefan argues vehemently.  


“You could afford to show more gratitude, Stefan, after all the work I’ve put in,” Klaus says in a low, darkly toned, register.  


Stefan’s reply is to storm off. He runs until he almost crashes into Elena. At which point he begins ranting,

“Can you believe he did this, he didn’t even ask, like I’m supposed to just submit to whatever he wants. He organised the whole thing so I can’t say no, it’s so manipulative. He’s so possessive, you know that’s what this is about; he wants to be able to keep me, like a toy.”


“Look Stefan, I get it, Klaus is a controlling ass, but it’s simple. Do you want to be married to him?”


“I guess I do,” Stefan huffs, frustrated.


As the horse-drawn carriage pulls up to the expanse of land the wedding is taking place on, Stefan looks out at the event in awe. The sheer size alone is dizzying; there are at least a thousand guests present, and the bays of orchestras, smaller bands and pianos alone seem to match that number. The setting has been made enchantingly beautiful with lanterns and fairy lights.


“Is that Mylie Cyrus?” Stefan asks, and in the next instant begins noticing other famous people who are around.



***




Caroline visits sometime in the middle of the wedding, and he’s about to make a joke about her dressing up just to come to a cave when he realises she’s not actually wearing the dress he’s seeing her in. 


“How’re you holding up?” she asks.


“You’re wearing a ball gown,” Stefan replies.


“Oh. Then there’s one advantage of hallucinations. Everyone’s working hard on getting you out of here.”


“I know.”


“Do you want to talk about it, or we could play--I brought cards,” Caroline says, smile encompassing her face.


Stefan finds himself genuinely smiling for the first time in what feels like forever.


“Definitely, don’t think you can beat me at poker just because I’m dying; I’ll still kick your ass.”


“Don’t think I’ll let you win at gin just because you’re dying,” Caroline responds, dealing out the cards, managing to land all of them face-down even as they fly through the barrier.



***




Klaus and Damon stand reluctantly in front of the giant banner declaring ‘Houses for the Homeless,’ taking in the ridiculously chipper and determined volunteers. It was their second job of the day.


“Stefan is going to owe us so big.”


“Can’t we just find another children’s hospital that needs a mural?”


“No more art projects, it doesn’t count if you’re enjoying yourself.”


As his assignment requires, Klaus quickly saws pieces of wood, finds himself glancing around every few minutes like the last plank could be the last straw, and maybe he could smell on the air that Stefan’s now fine. He chides himself for his foolishness, but doesn’t stop doing it. Two hours trip over into three and then grind into four, and he keeps going, plagued by the dull monotony.


Damon lounges on a spare work bench, debating with the project manager about appropriate furnishings for a house of this style. Said manager is much too eager to take on board Damon’s input.


“How about you actually help?” Klaus suggests with impatience.


“But the less I do, the more there is for you to do, and you know, redeem yourself,” Damon smirks.  



***




They honeymoon in Chicago, because--where else?--and they have all the time in the world for other places. The hotel room is overly lavish, and the concierge delicious; well, the little they had anyway.


“All mine,” Klaus says, running kisses down Stefan’s sternum.


“Don’t forget; you’re all mine too,” Stefan replies, pulling Klaus up by his hair.


“All yours,” Klaus whispers with wonderment.


Stefan realises Klaus has never belonged to anyone before, only had belongings, he tries to hide the level of glee he feels at the idea of making Klaus understand just what it is to belong.


“Don’t smile so much, you’ll ruin the mood,” Klaus says, nipping at his hip.


Stefan’s attention is partly distracted by a bellhop who looks like one of Klaus’s witches, carrying a bottle of blood, telling someone they still can’t get through the barrier, but it bores him so he turns his attention back to the hotel room and Klaus’s ministrations.


***




“It’s not working,” Damon informs him.


“Maybe I need to be there in person,” Klaus suggests.


“They’re your witches, they say the barrier would be completely gone if you’ve redeemed. Do you think they’re wrong?”


“It’s unlikely.”


“Okay, time for something new; Elena suggested that you try apologising to some of the people you’ve hurt.”


“They’re mostly dead.”


“Yeah, how about their families then?”


“It’s an insurmountable and pointless notion, next idea.”


Damon angrily grabs a hold of Klaus and shouts;

“Listen, I don’t really care what you think; I’m not letting you half-ass your way through this when it’s my brother’s life at stake. I’ve looked after Stefan his entire life; I will find a way to save him. I always do. So are you going to follow my lead, or do you want him to die?”


Klaus thrusts his hand into Damon’s chest, fingers squeezing his heart;

“The only reason your heart isn’t on the floor right now is Stefan. Do not question my determination to keep him alive again.”


Chapter Two



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