I can finally see that you're right there beside me.
Please don't let me go. I desperately need you.
It is strange to Stefan, that moment.
"Now, you remember," Klaus had said, and suddenly it is all there. First, he opens his eyes and sees Rebekah. In his head, he sees flashes of all that he had done with the female Original. A few halting steps bring him closer to her, and she bears a radiant smile on her face. A smile filled with understanding of the vampire's suddenly acquired memories.
But then Klaus says his name. He hears it so loudly, as though no other sound exists in the entire world. Klaus' voice echoes in his ears, repeating his name as all those memories he'd been made to forget play over in his mind.
When he had remembered Rebekah, he had seen only flashes. But remembering Klaus is like remembering an entire lifetime. It replays in his mind achingly slow. Because - though he does not realise it - Klaus was the only real thing about that time. Rebekah had been pretty, and their love had perhaps been real for her, but Stefan was never there in the relationship. It was only the Ripper.
But with Klaus, it had been entirely Stefan. He may have pretended to love Rebekah, but he had never pretended to love Klaus. Their brotherhood had been nothing but the barely concealed emotion he had so easily turned away. With Klaus, he had truly loved.
Though he did not understand it until now, Klaus had been the one thing in the 20's that had ever broken through his inability to feel.
"I remember you," he says, suddenly out of breath. Klaus has changed so very little since then, and yet so much of him has been altered by those short days spent with Stefan. "We were friends."
Klaus studies him, and his lips tilt into a smile. He walks towards Stefan. When he has reached him, he clasps the vampire's shoulder and nods his head. "We are friends."
He sees more of their time together. Remembers more of their interactions. Never once does he regret his interactions with Klaus.
And then he comes, startlingly, to the moment he had reached for Rebekah's fallen necklace. That moment that Klaus' hand had pressed against his chest, finding his heart and pushing him back into a standing position. Stefan had been too in shock then to truly recognise the look of utter sadness in Klaus' eyes, but now as he remembers the moment that look is all he sees. Gloria's bar fades into a haze around him, and Klaus stands before him, his tuxedo immaculate and his eyes revealing that he is dying inside.
"Stefan," he says, "I'm sorry, but the fun has to end here."
The vampire grinds out a reply, still trying to determine what emotion is resting in the hybrid's eyes. What look is this? The ripper could never recognise it. It takes Stefan to see the love. It takes Stefan to see the loss.
"You must forget Rebekah and me. Until I say otherwise, you never knew us, Stefan," Klaus continues, his pupils blowing wide. And then it sinks in to Stefan's mind with nothing but a resounding 'oh' before the vampire disappears.
Back then, when Klaus had compelled him, Stefan had been unable to hear the last statement the Original had gifted him. The compulsion had robbed it from him before it ever reached his ears.
Now, it is all that he can hear.
"Thank you. I had forgotten what it was like to have a brother."
It echoes in his mind as Gloria's bar fades. The tuxedo wearing Klaus is replaced by this much more modern version of the hybrid.
Before he can stop himself, Stefan leans in and presses his lips to Klaus'. It's strange, because though the movement is no more unnatural than all of the kisses they've shared until now, this one doesn't feel like it comes from him.
It's only as he pulls away that he realises it wasn't his desire at all - it was the desire of the Ripper. The Stefan that Klaus had forced him to forget.
Kissing Klaus had been the one thing Stefan had wanted to do back then, and for that Stefan, the wish had finally been granted. The desire fulfilled. This Stefan had kissed Klaus many times, with all manner of emotion, but that Stefan had never had the chance.
Klaus watches him as he retracts, as though understanding where the sudden action had come from. The two of them stare at each other. Stefan tries to sort through the memories granted to him, tries to force them to fall into place.
But for Klaus, things are far different.
He has waited a hundred years for that kiss. Stefan had come out of a century long sleep to see his lover waiting, but Klaus had spent those hundred years waiting for Stefan to wake.
He had waited so long for the day Stefan Salvatore would look at him with that same revelry he had in the 20's. And Stefan does not disappoint. When Klaus calls his name oh so softly, Stefan rounds on him with a look that nearly brings the stoic vampire to tears. A hundred years of waiting for that look, and there it is. Stefan stares at him, unwavering, for a lifetime, and Klaus knows that he is remembering. Seeing every moment up to the night Klaus had compelled him to forget.
Always, that memory would be lodged in Klaus' mind. That moment that Mikael had come to the bar. His first thought had been for Rebekah. Stefan's presence was so new to him that the immediate need to protect the vampire had not yet imprinted itself. So when he pulls Rebekah to him and Stefan is there, right behind his sister, it is with a sinking feeling that he realises what must happen.
He remembers the feel of Stefan's black tuxedo against his palm. The look of confusion that had flashed in the vampire's eyes. And he remembers, so very clearly, the look of understanding as it had washed over Stefan like a tidal wave. That solitary second of panic in his eyes before everything just disappeared.
Klaus had so long to convince himself that making Stefan forget was more than just about protecting himself and Rebekah. It was about protecting Stefan too. Protecting him from Mikael, protecting him from anyone whom Klaus had made an enemy of. There were too many to count. Too many to let Stefan remember.
He still regrets the decision every day.
Every moment since then has been spent in fear. Fear that Stefan would never look at him like that again. Fear that he had destroyed his chance with the vampire forever. So afraid that his mistake would cost him everything.
When Stefan kisses him then, it doesn't matter that Rebekah is there. It doesn't matter that so long has passed since Stefan last looked at him and truly knew him. All that really matters is that, at long last, Stefan looks at him and knows every inch of his soul.
His torment has finally ended.
"We are friends."
I apologise for the wait, I've been forced to do some work on my legitimate novel so everything else has fallen by the wayside for a while. But here it is, another one shot! There is a sequel to Deja Vu coming, a multichapter, but I'm not pleased with how it looks at the moment so it's not seeing the light of day until I've changed it substantially.
I hope you all enjoy this fic, as always.