Chapter 4 – Deeper Meaning

Caroline came bounding down the stairs to start a new day, she was a little early but she didn’t want to just rush out again like she had the whole of last week. If she was going to be living here for a whole year then she wanted to at least be civil, or try to be. Coming to a sudden stop she found Kol at the dining room table with Tyler laid out on the table itself. Kol had arranged his meal on Tyler’s naked body like some kind of buffet table, taking a deep breath she chose to ignore it for now. She knew that Kol would do some truly heinous things to Tyler while his punishment lasted so she didn’t want to use up all of her influence on the smaller things.

“Having fun?” She let her voice show just how unimpressed she was at this whole display, sarcasm dripped from every syllable. 

“All kinds of it darling. I will admit I’m surprised that you’re not getting overly emotional at the sight of my little feast.”

“Nothing to be emotional about.” Which was true enough, she’d seen enough horror since becoming a vampire that a naked body wasn’t anything to flinch at. Besides she wasn’t sure how she felt about Tyler anymore and while she didn’t wish him any harm, she was aware enough to know that it wasn’t up to her anymore. 

“If you say so.” Kol seemed to be pouting a bit, not enough for it to be overly noticeable but just enough for someone to tell if they were paying attention. He hadn’t gotten the shock and awe he’d wanted so now he was sulking. She guessed he wouldn’t appreciate it if she pointed out how alike he was to Tyler at that moment.

“Was this for my benefit or did you actually have a reason for it?” Before this whole mess began she would have just assumed that this was all for her or maybe even just for the psychotic thrill of it, but now she knew better. The Originals each had their own way of looking at the world and their own logic to things, while this may have been a bit about her she was pretty sure that there was more to it than that.

“While I will admit that the thought of your reaction did give me a bit of a chuckle, no you did not factor in that much. Tyler here has been complaining about some of the more mundane tasks he’s been set so I’m showing him the alternative.” While he spoke he stabbed his fork hard enough into his rasher of bacon that the tines went through the meat and into the flesh beneath. Blood coated everything but Tyler barely flinched, running her eyes over him she saw the smears of blood from other already healed wounds, this seemed to be an ongoing thing between them.

“Why not just tell him?” It seemed like a waste of energy and time doing this when a threat most likely would have worked just as well, but she didn’t have that same sadistic streak driving her that he did.

“Why not show him? He seems like a dull creature and I wouldn’t want to waste my words.”

“Fair enough.” Tyler did have a way of not hearing the things that he didn’t like. If Kol had just said things would get worse all Tyler would have heard was that there was still some wiggle room to push his luck.

“Do you really think so?” He perked up at her words, the pout gone from his eyes now that they had connected if only a little bit.

“If this is how you want to act with Tyler then that is on you.” Picking up the fork on her side of the table she took a bit of vicious pleasure in stabbing her own piece of bacon to take with her. She was followed by Kol’s laughter as she left the house for the day, oh how her life had changed.

Rebekah was beyond annoyed with her brothers so she retreated to the only other feminine space in the house. Caroline’s room. The other girl was out so she wouldn’t be there to whine about the lack of privacy or anything. She was curious about what all she’d done with the space she’d helped to provide her with. 

Glancing around she saw nick-nacks and photos all over nearly every inch of the room. It was busy but it wasn’t gauche or anything, it looked like what films had said most teenage rooms looked like. Drifting closer to the vanity she studied the pictures pressed against the glass around the frame. Elena in all her boring glory was in a few of them, but not nearly as many of them as she would have guessed before she came in. Bonnie was far more present but even she didn’t encompass even half of the images. The rest were of her and girls from the cheer squad or ones she’d seen in the school halls but had never paid much attention to. Shrugging, she resolved to find out more about them later, if Caroline thought they were worth such prominent reminders they may be worth investigating.

Looking around a bit more she saw a bookcase taking up nearly a third of one of the walls. It was a deep mahogany and looked well constructed, she was only worried about how the other girl had managed to get it in here without anyone noticing. The books were an eclectic mix of different subjects but they were all biographies and histories of some kind. Next to the bookcase was her bed perfectly made and waiting for her return with one stuffed animal sitting in the middle of the pillows like a guard at the gates. She thought about picking it up to see if it was as soft as it looked but she didn’t want her scent to linger on it, she wasn’t ashamed of what she was doing but she would prefer to avoid any fight over it later. 

Opening the closet door she found another collage of pictures taped to the door. Elena, Bonnie, and Matt stared back at her from some of the photos but again most of them were of other people she didn’t know. Caroline and her mother were in the center and everything else seemed to radiate out from the two of them. She had postcards of different cities cut up into shapes and hidden among the candid shots of the people in her life, this girl had dreams of a life beyond this small town in Virginia. That was good, it would serve her well to be less attached to any one place.

Looking at the clothes she saw there were all of good quality and reflected the fashion of today but they were also a bit worn in places. Being a vampire was hell on a girl’s wardrobe on occasion. Turning to leave she resolved to order Caroline some more clothes from designers she had come to love herself, a sort of welcome to the family gift or something. Maybe then she would feel like she was a part of them, because this room was a time capsule of the past and Caroline needed to move on. With them.

Elijah listened to the new hustle and bustle of the mornings in their home from the drawing room and let himself smile. Their family was starting to come alive again and it was all he ever wanted. Rebekah was taking an interest in someone other than Klaus and boys who always seemed to break her heart. Kol was finding pleasure in non-lethal forms of play, something he thought long gone for his younger brother. Klaus, while still paranoid and obsessed with his hybrids, was beginning to slow down and had finally found someone whose differing opinion he would willingly listen to. 

He was basking in the glow of his healing family when his phone rang. One could not shut out the wider world forever. 


“Hello, lover.” Katarina. He felt his heart clench at the sound of her voice and for the first time he actually wondered if that was a good thing. Was it love or misery that bound them together so tightly?

“Why have you called?” It would be a mistake to say her name out loud in this house. Tempers still ran high where she was concerned, but he needed to know what she wanted from him this time.

“Can’t I just miss you?” He thought about it for a moment before answering, could she just miss him. Has she ever just missed him?

“No.” With his family beginning to heal and become at least somewhat as they once were he was beginning to take stock of the rest of his life and he wasn’t overly fond of what he found. He had focused all of his attention on his blood relations and now he found that beyond a few contacts and Katerina he was alone in this world, he didn’t much like that revelation. It was coming time to change, again.

“Harsh, but I guess I deserve that.” She sounded amused, she didn’t take his clear dismissal of her seriously. He didn’t blame her for it, he had cut her out of his life time and again only to allow her back shortly after. To her he must be a joke.

“What do you want?”

“I want to see you.” He found he wanted to see her too. If he was going to break from her completely he wanted to do so while looking into her eyes. He wanted to see for himself if the girl he remembered was still there to find. 

“Same place as last time?”

“I’ll see you there.”

Kol followed the tasty little thing out of the mansion and to her school, he wasn’t sure what had compelled him to do this but he didn’t want to let their burgeoning connection die so quickly. He didn’t want to admit it but he was starting to like the feisty little thing, he was just beginning to entertain ideas of whisking the tart little darling away for a day of play and adventure when he noticed the younger Gilbert heading for her. My oh my entertainment in every direction today, he loved days like this one.

She stood silently to the side and waited for him to make his compelled offer of sustenance, but the boy was less than gracious in his delivery. They might have to do something more to change his attitude, it would seem that he was even more irritating than Tyler. His eyes were smug and filled with rage, he wasn’t learning a single thing from this exercise it would seem.

Once his offer had been rejected, he was just waiting for the day she would take him up on it out of spite, he shifted back to walk away giving him his opening to sweep in and rescue the damsel. He was just preparing to swashbuckle that shit when little Gilbert paused and started to speak. With his hearing it wasn’t hard for him to listen in even from this distance and what he heard set his blood on fire.

“Why aren’t you helping us?” He sounded frustrated and under it all confused. He really thought she would be doing more for them all.

“Jeremy-” Caroline’s voice was pitched low with empathy and pain.

“No! Don’t tell me it’s complicated or about how you can’t do anything. You can! You just won’t. You can always do something.”

“Like what?”

“Tell Klaus to take these compulsions off of us at least. Do you know how humiliating it is to have to track you down every day and offer myself to you. Bonnie doesn’t talk about anything but being a good friend to you. I haven’t even seen Tyler in weeks. Elena is trapped in that mansion you moved into. Do something.”

“I can’t.”

“Yeah right. Just tell the truth Caroline, you won’t help because you don’t want to. You think we deserve this. Same old Caroline, selfish.”

He had known the boy was filled with anger it was easy enough for him to see, even when he was cultivating their friendship in Colorado. Now though, without his sister, he was giving into the anger. It would seem that Jeremy would be needing some additional help to understand the lesson he was being taught. 

He left Caroline to find comfort in her friends for the day. He would take her on an adventure later, but for now he had some different plans to make. Following behind the youngest Gilbert he kept just far enough back to not spook the boy, it wouldn’t do for him to run off into a house he would have a hard time getting him out of. No, for this to work he needed to be patient, something he wasn’t overly known for.

Matt watched Jeremy stomp off and waited until Bonnie made it to Caroline’s side before he rushed after him. They were all frustrated with how things were working out but yelling at Caroline wasn’t going to change anything.


“What do you want?” He tried not to take it personally, it wasn’t personal, Jeremy was just mad at the world right now.

“Look man, I get it you’re stressed but taking it out on Caroline isn’t going to change anything.” Honestly he wasn’t sure that anything was going to change things for them, at least not for the better. Things could always get worse though, that was a life lesson he’d learned years ago. 

“Bullshit! She could change things, she just won’t.”

“That’s not true and deep down under all that anger I think you know that too. She is just as trapped as the rest of us.” If not more so, even if the rest of them were compelled to do certain things at least they were free to go home after and hide from the world. Caroline didn’t even have her home anymore.

“No she isn’t, they didn’t mess with her mind like they did ours.” He could feel his jaw wanting to drop at that statement. Were the compulsions the only things he could see? Sure they hadn’t been as invasive with what they had done to Caroline, but she was just as bound up as they all were. 

“Maybe not, but what do you really think she can do? Do you honestly think that Klaus will be moved to mercy just because she asks him to after less than a month into a year long sentence? I don’t think so man, if anything going around yelling at her about it might just get us all more time, not less.” He didn’t want to see what that worse would be and he knew deep down past all the anger and the pain Jeremy didn’t either. Given their luck, worse would end up with all of them locked up in the Mikaelson mansion. One on each floor. One for each sibling.

“Oh so now I have to be nice to her?” He didn’t bother to point out that he should be nice to her just for the sake of being a decent human being, he wasn’t sure that would go over well at the moment so instead he just closed his eyes and prayed for patience.

“Jeremy man, you need to lose this attitude. This isn’t Caroline’s fault! She tried to talk us out of going at Klaus in the first place and we didn’t listen. This is on us!” He saw the decision in his friend’s eyes before his fist pulled back but he was so stunned that Jeremy would hit him that he didn’t move. Sure Jeremy had always been quicker to anger than most, almost on the same level as Tyler pre transformation but he had never been physical before.

His fist was just shy of making contact with his eye when it was caught in a firm hand. Glancing over he saw Stefan standing there looking disappointed like he did every time there was what he saw as unnecessary violence. He held Jeremy’s hand in his tight grip for a few seconds, his dark eyes never blinking until he was sure his point sank in. Jeremy tugged his hand back and rushed away from them both, probably adding this whole mess to his tally sheet of things to be mad about.

“You alright?” Stefan sounded calm, but he could see the anger building inside of him. He probably heard everything Jeremy had said about Caroline.

“Yeah, I just never thought Jeremy would ever hit me because of something I said to him.”

“Things are definitely changing.”

“That they are.” He watched Stefan glance around for a few seconds before he decided to put him out of his misery. “Was there something you wanted to talk to me about?”

“I just wanted to ask-” He stopped mid sentence like he couldn’t find the words, but they both knew what they would have been if he could. There was only one thing he would be asking him about. Damon.

“About Damon?”

He couldn’t seem to make the words trip off his tongue so he just nodded. He honestly felt bad for the guy, his brother had been his only constant for decades and now he was shut away somewhere he couldn’t get to him.

“He’s still alive.” It was the only thing he could say to him without opening up a wound he wasn’t sure would ever heal. How could he talk to him about his brothers torture without being a monster himself, especially since he was one of the ones holding the knife.

“Good. That’s good.” As he watched him walk away he closed his eyes and tried to ignore the itch under his skin as the compulsion to go back started to build inside of him. Things had definitely changed for them all. 

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