Caroline had been through enough drama for one day, she had bearded all her lions, and now she just wanted to go somewhere safe and warm where she could relax. Standing on the front steps of her childhood home she took a deep breath, she wanted to savor this moment, the second before she knocked. Even if her mother wasn’t home or was just leaving for another shift at the station she wanted to have this one moment suspended forever in her mind.
The sound of the door opening and her mothers sure and steady heartbeat made her body fill with a warmth she hadn’t even realised she was missing until she got it back. She needed this, needed her, and now all she wanted to do was cry. She wasn’t being mistreated, nothing about living with the Mikaelsons was horrible exactly, but it wasn’t home.
It wasn’t here.
They weren’t Elizabeth Forbes.
The feeling of her mom’s arms around her made everything inside of her relax. As long as she was safe and surrounded by the feel and scent of her mother she didn’t have to worry anymore. It didn’t matter that Jeremy hated her. It didn’t matter that Elena was waiting in the attic like some kind of looming boogeyman. It didn’t matter that all of her friends were being nicer to her than they ever had before because they were being forced to. None of it mattered, because she was home.
“Oh, sweetie. Are you okay?”
“Yeah. Sorry for coming over without calling first. If you have to go to work I understand.”
“No, I’m all yours. Come inside and we’ll talk about it, whatever this is. I’m sure we can find a solution together.”
“Yeah.” She knew she couldn’t spend the night, part of her agreement with Klaus was that she would sleep under his roof for a full year and she wouldn’t put it past him to tack on a day for each night she missed. She couldn’t spend the night, but she could spend the day and that could be enough.
Kol spent the better part of his morning tracking Little Gilbert but he finally found his opening when the boy went off into the woods in a huff around lunch time, most likely trying to keep from having to track Caroline to offer her his blood. The boy was deep in denial if he thought that was going to work.
Pushing him into the house he shared with his siblings he took a whiff to make sure that the little ray of sunshine wasn’t home yet and found himself blissfully alone for once. Each of his siblings were out doing god knows what, leaving him to his own devices.
He hadn’t been sure initially which direction he wanted to take this particular chat, did he take the little blighter to see his sweet sis or the demon below? Both would make a good object lesson but Damon was the only one who would heal from any pointed comments he needed to make, the doppelganger was still very much human and far too breakable for the mood he was in. If he killed her he would have to listen to Nik whine about it for ages.
Guiding him down the stairs with a stern grip on the back of his neck he couldn’t help but whistle a happy little tune, sometimes he truly loved his life.
“Hey baby Klaus, what are you doing with baby Gilbert?” He paused in the middle of shutting the door. Baby Klaus? Never in all his years had anyone ever called him that before. Sure he and his dear brother might share some personality traits on the surface but it didn’t take a genius to realise they were very very different. While Klaus was feared and the sound of his name made most at least pause in fright as their prey instincts took over at the mention of the big bad wolf he was something else entirely. He was the thing that nightmares dreamed about at night, he was the worst of the worst, and he was in no way inferior to his brother.
“One what?” He could see the bravado abandoning both boys the longer he stayed silent. They weren’t here for a chat, they were here for Jeremy to get his head out of his arse around Caroline. The compulsions obviously weren’t enough so they were having to step it up a notch.
“Jeremy, do you know why you’re here?” He ignored Damon for the time being, he would of course be called to answer for the baby Klaus crack, for now though he was only meant to be a prop and if he had to rip his tongue out to help him become a silent one then all the better on every side.
“Because you’re a psycho!” The boy was back to bluster and he could practically taste the desperation. He loved this part of the game, the beginning where everyone still had hope of a happy ending.
“Oh, close but no. Can you really not think of anything you’ve done today that might make a member of my family a bit cross with you?”
“Is this about my fight with Caroline?” Now he was stepping back, like distance would save him. The boy was truly in way over his head.
“Fight? I didn’t see a fight. Did you think that was a fight? No, a fight takes two or more people, no what I saw was you throwing a tantrum because you had to offer your neck to her. She hasn’t taken you up on the multitude of offers, in fact the only thing that has even slightly inconvenienced you is the fact that you have to find her every day. So why the attitude?” He knew, of course he knew, he just wanted to see how self aware Jeremy was.
Sure having to make the offer might be a touch humiliating for the boy, but that was the whole point he was meant to be learning some damned humility. No, his problem wasn’t making the offer or even the fear that sweet Caroline might take him up on it. His problem was that he wanted her to take him up on it, deep down good boy Jeremy wanted to be bitten. He’d seen it before, it was right in line with his more addictive personality, the boy was begging for someone to take it all out of his hands and make the move for him. He wanted to be a victim because then it was easier, right now he was the one in the wrong and he couldn’t stand it. He needed to make Caroline the villain because he didn’t want to be.
“Why the attitude? She hasn’t even tried to help any of us!” He was letting his anger lead him now, stepping back into the center of the room.
“How is she supposed to do that?”
“By getting Elena out of here.”
“Just Elena? Damon is here too, hell he’s in the room with us.” Damon was watching silently and the dread was mounting in his eyes. He at least knew that this was never going to be a simple conversation.
“She should be helping.” He was whining now, his voice pitched higher and his face falling on the verge of a pout. Young people today were truly over indulged.
“You said that but you still haven’t said how. Could she get your darling sister out of here? Maybe. Not likely but the girl is quite clever and fairly creative so lets say for argument’s sake that she can. She gets your sister and slips her past not one but four of the oldest, deadliest, vampires on the planet. What then? You know my siblings and I at least a bit by now you have to know there’s no way we’d let that pass. Not only does Nik have plans for your sweet sisters even sweeter blood but we as a family don’t take kindly to people going back on the deals they make with us. So please enlighten me what is your brilliant plan for after the great escape?”
“She doesn’t have to sneak her out. She can just make Klaus let us all go.” Oh ho, this boy was truly dense. He thought that just because little vampire sunshine had a bit of an in with Nik that she would be able to talk him around. No one talked Nik out of a plan, especially one already in motion.
“Now that I would pay to see. A baby vamp less than five years dead making my stubborn hybrid ass of a brother do something. She has some clout. I’ll give her that but I don’t think even her pretty blues would be enough to force his hand.” He was getting too much out of this for him to ever change the rules of the game to ones favoring the other side.
“Yeah right, Barbie has psycho ken wrapped around her finger.” The idea of ripping Damon’s tongue out was starting to take a stronghold on his mind. It was nearing the levels of a compulsion really the craving for carnage.
“I suppose in a way you might be right. Nik has been rather more lenient with her than with any who have come before her. That doesn’t automatically make her able to play my brother like a marionette. Can she distract him? Yes. Ask for small favors and have them granted easier than most? Yes. Sway him when he does not wish to be swayed? No. No one can do that, not even little miss sunshine.”
“She hasn’t even tried.” There was the crux of the argument, they both seemed to be of the opinion that Caroline somehow owed them the effort if not the victory.
“Why would she? Why put energy and effort into something that not only won’t work but might even make things worse?”
“How could this get worse?” The moment the question crossed Jeremy’s lips he saw Damon begin to panic and felt the smile start to stretch across his face.
“I’m glad you asked.”
Rebekah thought about presenting the bags to Caroline as a gift but then decided to just put the clothes where they belonged in an effort to surprise her a bit. She wasn’t good at kind gestures or overtures of friendship but she thought she was off to a good start. She had tried to keep the more modern fashions in mind whilst picking from the limited selection at her current fingertips, the shipping from the online stores would have taken an age and she wanted this done today. Flowing dresses and tight jeans were paired with more elegant fare that would stand the former Miss Mystic Falls in good stead if she was going to be moving in her family’s circles for the next year.
While she was putting things away it had occurred to her that the gesture might not be as welcome as she had originally thought it might, but she had simply shrugged it off as being a silly idea. What girl wouldn’t appreciate a closet of high end clothes? Sure she might have overstepped a bit by putting them away, but it wasn’t like Caroline had any real expectation of privacy while here.
She was just about to leave feeling accomplished and hopeful when she stepped on something that crinkled beneath her heel. Reaching down she picked up the picture that had fallen at some point, probably from the closet door and that garish collage. She was just going to stick it back amongst the mess when the contents caught her eye. Caroline was of course center stage of the photo, but she was bracketed by Elena and Bonnie, Matt was behind her putting two of his fingers up behind her head for some reason. They were all much younger in this photo and while it was bent and damaged with age it was clearly well looked after.
Looking at the smiling faces of the young people who now danced to the tune her family played she began to feel a tightness in her chest. She wasn’t sure what this feeling was, but she was certain that she didn’t like it at all. Throwing the photo down on the bed she stormed out and towards her own room, this was what trying to be nice caused.
She should have known better.