Bonnie hated herself as soon as the name was out of her mouth, but she knew or rather prayed that he would be forgiven for anything he’d done to Caroline. The two of them had barely interacted in the last few years and even recently it was like they were in different halves of their little circle of friends. He would stay with the boys and she would mostly avoid them for one reason or another causing little to no overlap between them unless absolutely necessary.
“Lovely, so who wants to go first?” Klaus sounded so smug, but she wondered what his answers would be if these questions were posed to him. She doubted he would be forgiven either, but he had the benefit of not being asked. Jeremy had better be okay or she would never forgive any of them, especially Caroline.
After she had refused to help Tyler she wasn’t so sure anymore that they would all get out of this safe and sound, like she’d thought at the beginning. She knew the originals were vicious and they’d likely get a little hurt, but when they’d said that Caroline would decide their fates for a moment she’d thought everything would be alright, and then Tyler just kept talking and Caroline wouldn’t see reason about it, and now she was frightened. For the first time since this whole “game” began she was really and truly scared.
Closing her eyes she sent up a silent prayer that the rest of them would be forgiven, except for Damon who she was sure was going to burn before it was all said and done. It wasn’t like they didn’t have enough people waiting for them on the other side to hear her after all. She just hoped there was a way for them to help.
Opening her eyes again she saw Rebekah standing in front of Jeremy her hands on her hips, apparently it was her turn to go first.
“So baby Gilbert tell me, how do you feel about all the effort put into saving your sisters sorry existence?”
Jeremy took a deep breath, what kind of question was that? Elena was his sister, what did she think his answer would be?
“She’s my sister, I want her to survive and have a nice normal life no matter what it costs. She deserves it.” His answer seemed to amuse the blonde original. Apparently his convictions were funny.
“Why?” What? What kind of question was that? He opened his mouth to ask her to explain but apparently the compulsion didn’t need any more information; it understood what she was asking even when he was a little behind.
“She deserves to be saved from what Klaus wants to do to her because no one deserves what he’s planning. Being a human blood bag, never having any control over your own life. What kind of a monster does that to someone else? My sister is a good friend, an amazing sister, and genuinely a good person. Why wouldn’t she deserve to have her life back?” Once again his answer seemed to amuse her, it was like she knew something he didn’t. Whatever, as long as he, Elena, Matt and Bonnie made it out of this he wouldn’t care one way or the other. He just wanted this whole thing to be over and done already.
“I suppose that would really be a matter of opinion and perspective. Oh, well, your turn brother dear.”
Kol stepped up taking several steps closer until they were almost touching. He couldn’t believe he’d once thought of this bastard as his friend. He supposed it was true what they said, teenagers really did do stupid things.
“Hello old friend, I’d ask how you’ve been but I pretty much already know the answer to that so we’ll just move right along to my question for you. You say that no one deserves what my dear brother has planned for your darling sister so tell me, if it were Caroline in Elena’s place would you be so eager to save her from the same fate?”
Of course he would, no one deserved what Klaus was doing to Elena. Why would they think his answer would be anything but yes?
“No.” Apparently because it was. Where did that come from?
He racked his brain trying to think of the best way to put it, the best way to phrase his answer, but the compulsion wouldn’t let him change what he was about to say. Brutal honesty was all that was allowed, there was no room for sparing someone’s feelings or cushioning the blow of your answer.
“Because Caroline isn’t Elena.”
“So I guess when you said that no one deserves to be treated like your sister is right now, what you really meant was that if they were being treated that way someone else should really do something about it, huh. Not your sister, not your problem.”
Damn it, he hadn’t meant it like that. Not really. The compulsion had twisted his words!
“Your turn Elijah, though honestly your question is getting quite repetitive and downright boring. You should really try mixing it up a bit, variety is the spice of life after all.” Looking back and forth between the two he would almost say they were teasing each other, but the originals didn’t do that. Did they?
“I will take your words under advisement brother. Now if you are quite done I have a question to ask Mr. Gilbert.”
“Done, promise.” Kol dragged his fingers across his lips to mime zipping his lips.
“Good. Now Mr. Gilbert please tell us, what do you really think of Caroline Forbes?”
“I don’t think of her. She’s just always there. The only time I ever really have anything to do with her is when we’re all together in a group and even then she and I don’t really interact. Elena’s my sister, I’m dating Bonnie, Tyler is my best friend, Matt is a stand-up guy but we don’t really interact, Stefan and Damon I’d rather avoid if given the chance, and Alaric is well… he’s Alaric, he’s more a parent than a friend. Caroline isn’t any of those things for me. She and Elena and Bonnie have been friends for years so I’ve seen her around but she and I aren’t friends with each other, so I don’t really think of her at all unless something comes up where I need her help to save one of the others.”
Silence followed his answer and he knew why. What he’d said had been harsh true, but it had also been completely honest. Everyone who knew them all knew that he and Caroline weren’t exactly in each other’s orbit.
“Well, that was certainly one of the more interesting answers to your question Elijah. Now, my turn. So tell me mate, have you ever hurt Caroline in any way?”
“Maybe.” What? What did he mean by that? This compulsion to tell the truth was leaving him beyond confused.
“What the hell do you mean maybe? This is really a yes or no answer type of question, care to try again?”
“I say maybe because I truly don’t know. Some of my actions over our many schemes and plans could have hurt Caroline or led to her getting hurt but if they did I never paid enough attention to her afterwards to really notice. When the dust settled I was always with Elena or Bonnie and Caroline was always either alone or with Stefan or Tyler. Like I said before we never really interacted, so my answer is maybe.”
“Alright then. So Caroline love, time for your answer. Do you forgive him for his inattention and uncaring ways?”
“Yes.” Jeremy finally let out the breath he hadn’t known he was holding. She had forgiven him, not that he thought there had been anything to forgive, he’d done nothing wrong as far as he was concerned. He was just glad that now it was unlikely that he would die for it though.
“Oh you’re no fun, I had a really special one planned for him too.” He never wanted to know what Kol meant by that. Ever.
“Moving on then Bonnie, who’s next on your little hit list?”
Bonnie knew she was running out of options just as she knew from the looks on their faces who they were waiting for her to name. Well, they could just keep waiting. She wouldn’t name Elena until the very last second. Only when there were no other options would she go down that path. Unfortunately that only left her with the Salvatore brothers now. She couldn’t say Damon, not now. Everyone knew that Caroline would never forgive him for everything he’d done, his fate was as good as sealed, and she couldn’t do that to Elena yet. Despite what she said, she knew that Elena loved Damon, and if he died from tonight’s little game she would be devastated. So she would put it off a little longer, even if she would hate herself for it forever.
“Well then Ripper ready for your turn in the hot seat, so to speak?”
Stefan tried to hold his answer back, but found that he couldn’t, which was one of the most irritating feelings in the world for someone with his control issues. Ever since the game had begun and the questions started he’d gone over and over in his mind everything he’d ever done to Caroline versus everything he’d ever done for her. Honestly he didn’t know if he would ever be forgiven, or even if he should be, all he could do was play the game and hope that at least Elena made it out of this alive. He already knew his brother’s fate was pretty much set in stone.
“I’m ready.” Keeping his voice calm and eyes steady he waited for them to begin. There was nothing else to do, his time of judgment had finally come. Watching Kol walk up to stand in front of him, that look of demented glee in his eyes had to be one of the scarier things he’d seen in his long life.
“Good on you mate, being a man about this whole thing. Now what should I ask you then? There are so many interesting things about you, and I only get to pick one, a real shame that I could pick you apart for weeks and not get tired of it. Well, why don’t we go with how you really feel about this little group of yours? Let me hear your thoughts about each and every one of them, save Caroline of course wouldn’t want to steal Elijah’s question when it seems like he’s only got the one after all.” Kol had turned to bow towards his older brother in mock deference which only seemed to amuse the elder original rather than irritate him as was the norm. Why couldn’t they just start fighting amongst themselves and forget about them long enough for them to think up a way to escape.
He knew he was stalling with his inner monologue, he was trying to put off answering as long as possible but that feeling, that need to answer was already fighting with him, he knew he would lose.
“Thank you for your consideration and restraint brother dear.”
“You’re quite welcome. Come on then Ripper let us hear it. What do you think of your friends here?” The childish bastard was looking right at him, both eyebrows raised in mock question. He couldn’t put it off any longer the second asking of the same question had strengthened the urge to talk.
“Alaric sort of became a part of the group by default really. Originally he was in Mystic Falls to hunt vampires, to hunt Damon but he didn’t know that at the time, but then after everything started to spiral out of control we somehow found ourselves all on the same side. I respect him for not only what he’s done but for what he doesn’t do, even when justifiably provoked by all of us, he has better judgment and more restraint than most of us combined.
“Matt, got dragged into our world kicking and screaming very much against his will. I try to avoid him if possible out of guilt over what happened with his sister Vikki. He brought her up earlier and the truth is that every time I see him all I can think about is what he’s lost, what we took from him. With all the knowledge he now has about vampires and how we live and die, a lesser man would have sought revenge by now, but all he does is try to stay on the fringes of our little meetings to avoid temptation. He’s stronger than most men his age, or even most men my age.
“Tyler is another person who found themselves thrown into our lives without much of a choice, thanks to Katherine. It’s amazing how often that happens with us. Honestly I don’t think much of him at all except to disapprove of most of the choices he makes. He’s rash, opinionated, stubborn, and an all-around pain to be around, but he’s a part of the group now so I tolerate him. Most days anyway.
“Bonnie, is more powerful than any witch I’ve ever met, but she’s also more reckless. Being a part of this group, being friends with Elena and dating Jeremy makes her put her life on the line again and again without much thought to the consequences. I worry about her almost as much as I worry about Elena, which is really saying a lot about how she behaves. She rushes headlong into danger without thinking it through first, and even if she does think about it she still goes for it regardless of the risk to her own personal safety. I can never decide if she’s brave, foolish, or if she just wants to die.
“Jeremy is Elena’s kid brother, which makes his life important to me, because he’s important to her. Other than that, I find him childish, arrogant, and far too stubborn for his own good or the good of those around him. He’s always so sure that he knows the right way to go or the right thing to do that he never listens to anyone who says otherwise, not even his sister.
“Elena is an amazing person and I love her more than I’ve loved anyone in a long time, but she’s very much a teenager. She’s in turns indecisive and stubborn. She’s so sure that it’s up to her to save everyone else that she puts herself in situations that make everyone around her risk even more to save her. If she stopped for a minute and thought things through before she did them we’d all be a lot better off. At the same time she’s only seventeen so doing anything but what she’s already done would be counter to her teenage nature. No one thinks things through too well when they’re her age, they think they’re invincible and that everything will always work out for the better in the end no matter what happens along the way. Because that’s how happy endings are supposed to go.
“Damon is my brother, and I love him. Unfortunately that doesn’t necessarily mean that I like him even half the time or respect him most days of the year. In fact I think the main reason he and Klaus don’t get along besides Elena, is because they are far too much alike. Damon would never admit it, and the rest of us keep coming up with excuses for his actions but my brother is just as vicious as yours, he just refuses to acknowledge it, and so do we.”
When he’d finished speaking and the last of his words had finished echoing off the walls he saw the stunned expressions on the faces of all of his friends, and the mockery on the faces of the original whose question started it all.
“Oooh, I bet tonight has changed some opinions hasn’t it. Wow, been bottling all that up for long have you?”
“Since the beginning.”
“Well I’ve had my fun, your turn Bekah.”
Closing his eyes he tried to will himself somewhere else, hell anywhere else. He’d thought that their questions wouldn’t hurt him, he’d thought that he’d already faced all of his truths but apparently there had still been a few that he’d been hiding even from himself.
“Oh, don’t be like that Stefan, it’s almost over I promise. Worst of it’s likely over and done now right? Now, on to the best bit of it. Tell me Mr. Salvatore why did you ever pursue Elena Gilbert in the first place?”
“Because she looked exactly like Katherine and I wanted to know why. I never planned to fall for her, I just wanted to know how much like Katherine she really was. If the likeness was only skin deep.” He hated himself even as the words fled his mouth. How could he say that?
“Ouch, that’s gotta hurt to hear. Sorry darling Elena, almost forgot you were there.”
He hadn’t meant to say that, any of it, but it must have been the truth. The actual truth, no hiding or evading. Two more questions and his part in this would be over for now. He could do this, he just needed to ignore the looks he was getting from all of his possibly former friends.
Some looked hurt, others betrayed, and some just looked angry. Strangely enough though Alaric and Matt just looked understanding, as if they knew what drove the feelings that he had been forced to put on display for everyone to poke and prod at. That wouldn’t make any sense, unless they shared some of the sentiments he’d spoken of, which was impossible wasn’t it. This was Elena, everyone loved her, even him deep down, in his own way.
“Now you know my question Stefan but I shall ask it anyway. How do you really feel about Caroline Forbes?”
“She’s my best friend. I used to have this friend, her name was Lexie, she and I were together for nearly a century. She kept me sane, helped me regain my control … my sanity every time I lost it again. Caroline is just like her. She makes everyone around her feel again. Damn near everyone she meets she brings their humanity closer to the surface, she can’t help it, she’s just so good and amazing that it rubs off on those around her. When she looks at you she sees all the good that’s in you no matter how buried it might be at the moment, and she drags it back out into the light again, past all the darkness you’d let surround you for so long. She’s the strongest, kindest, most beautiful person I’ve ever known.” For the first time he didn’t regret the answer he’d been forced to give, Caroline really was all of those things.
“Just curious then, tell us how do you really feel about Elena? We know now why you pursued her in the first place, but now that you know her, how does she measure up?” Why! Why did he have to ask him that?
“At first I thought she was a lot like Caroline is now. Kind, beautiful inside and out, caring about those around her. It wasn’t until later that I realized that she was only that way because nothing much had come along yet to really push her. Yes, her parents had died, but that had been an accident and while it had made her more caring especially towards her own brother and family it wasn’t until the supernatural invaded her life that I finally saw the truth. She tries to be all those things, but when it comes down to it, she’s just not. When push comes to shove she plays favorites. Everyone in her life has a specific place on her list of people she cares about and if… when it comes down to a choice there’s always someone that she’ll save over someone else. No one is on equal footing with her.” He kept his eyes downcast knowing what he’d see if he dared to look up. The silence of the room was charged with disbelief and anger. He couldn’t face that, not yet. His turn wasn’t over yet.
“Interesting Ripper, now on to mine. Normally I would give us all a moment to digest that little revelation, but I simply can’t wait to move on.” Of course he couldn’t after him the only options left were Damon and Elena the two people he and his siblings seemed to hate the most out of all of them. “So tell me Stefan, have you ever hurt Caroline in any way?”
“Yes.” It nearly hurt to just say the words. After knowing Caroline for so long, and getting to know her so well, his early actions with her still haunted and shamed him. Now he would have to drag it all out into the open for everyone to see.
“When I first met Caroline I saw her as Tyler did, shallow and unimportant. I was so focused on Elena and getting to know her that I didn’t give much thought to her feelings and when she tried to introduce herself to me I cast her aside without a second thought. When I saw her again she was with Damon. I could tell she’d been compelled but I was more worried about my brother’s plans for Elena than I was about Caroline’s safety so I just turned away and left her with him. When I needed to subdue my brother I knew that I wouldn’t be able to trick him into drinking something spiked with vervain he was too paranoid for that so instead I gave the vervain to Caroline. After Elena publicly chastised Damon for abusing Caroline I knew what he would do, so I waited, and when he fed on her I watched until the vervain hit him and he fell over. After that I took my brother away to lock him up and I left her there for someone else to find. Ever since I’ve tried to make things up to her, helping her during her transition and being her friend, but she’s always been more of a friend to me than I was to her. I don’t listen to her, I nearly always side against her with Elena or someone else, and I always say I’ll apologize for it later but never do.”
“Quite the list of sins there Ripper.” He could tell from Klaus’s tone that even if Caroline did forgive him by some miracle, Klaus wouldn’t. He might survive this but he was fairly certain that by the time it was over he may not want to anymore. “Fortunately for you it’s not my forgiveness you require. So love, what will it be for Stefan then? Is he forgiven?”
Caroline didn’t know what to think, her brain was frozen so that she couldn’t think. She had always known deep, deep down that Stefans bond with Damon ran deeper than his bond with her. Especially in the beginning. She hadn’t ever expected anything else really, Damon was his brother after all, and no matter how close a friend you were family always comes first. Hearing it though, knowing that he’d left her lying there on that stupid lawn, alone in the dark. That was so much worse. She tried to weigh it against everything he’d done for her since, but she honestly didn’t know if she forgave him or not.
So she did the only thing she could do. She closed her eyes and let the compulsion take hold. She couldn’t lie, so this was the only way she could think to tell the truth.
Opening her eyes again she found herself staring straight into Klaus’s baby blues. He was smirking, completely smug in his knowledge of what she’d just done. He knew as well as she did that she hadn’t been certain herself what the answer would be, and he found it amusing. Well screw him, he had his answer now he could move on.
“Good on you love, shall we keep going. Bonnie darling, make your final choice.”
Oh my god! It really would be the final choice. They’d established at the beginning that Bonnie herself would go last so the next pick would cement the final order of things. The game was almost played out, she didn’t know how she felt about that. Part of her was almost relieved while the rest of her was scared about what was still to come. Truth was hard enough to bear, the consequences had to be so much worse. She couldn’t stop her eyes from once again darting over to the pails of vervain near the fireplace. Sending up a final prayer that they would somehow survive this she refocused on the room just in time to hear Bonnie’s inevitable answer.
Oh joy, just what they all needed, to relive the hell that was Damon freaking Salvatore.
“Alright then, shall we begin? I imagine we have a lot to talk about don’t we Damon.”
Damon looked up at Rebekah as she moved to stand in front of him, very much in his personal space, and tried to appear unaffected even though he knew he was more than likely going to die in this shitty little room. Why oh why did the originals have to have such a hard on for vampire barbie? Normally in situations like this he could console himself with likely plans of escape or reasons why his bravado would carry him through to the other side of things, but not this time. No, because Caroline just had to go and get herself mixed up with Klaus of all people. This was going to end horribly for them, for all of them, but most especially for him.
“Tell us Damon. What all have you done to hurt Caroline?” Wow they were really just diving into things with him. Starting with the question that everyone else was led up to. As he felt the compulsion take hold to tell them everything, he closed his eyes so he wouldn’t have to see the original bitch as he did. The last thing he wanted to see as he basically hung himself was the face of a smug original bitch!
“Well let’s see. I’ve compelled her for blood, and sex, and information back when she was still human. In fact I nearly killed her a few times back then like I did Vikki Donovan. It was my blood that turned her, though I hold only partial blame for that mess because it was Bonnie who made me give it to her in the first place and it was Katherine who actually killed her. After she turned I tried to kill her, and I would have succeeded if not for my ever valiant little brother. Although she did kick my ass earlier that same night so I figure we’re even on that score. After that it was mainly intimidation, threats, and a little bodily harm for a while until her dad showed up in town and I nearly killed him, mainly because I was bored, and because Elena was being particularly wishy-washy that day. Then again I only didn’t kill him because the vampire barbie over there charged to his rescue and actually won the fight, injuring me, so again I say we’re pretty much even on that one. Beyond that it’s been mainly snarky comments and helping her friends emotionally manipulate and blackmail her into doing things that frankly I’m surprised she’s survived til now.”
The silence after his confessions was deafening. No one spoke, or moved, or even breathed very loudly. Everyone was waiting for Klaus to react. So everyone was taken off guard when it wasn’t Klaus who attacked him, but Kol. Kol’s hand was in his chest before anyone else could react, his strong fingers wrapped around his stuttering heart for what seemed like hours, but was in reality only seconds before he spoke.
“You know you seem rather cavalier about your treatment of Caroline. Why is that?”
“Because it’s all in the past really. Besides the manipulation and snarky comments this mostly all happened over a year ago. Besides you didn’t know her when she was human, trust me, she deserved it.”
His last words made Kol so angry that he began to slowly twist his hand making the pain unbearable and forcing his skin to begin to grey and harden in preparation for his death.
“Kol! Control yourself or you’ll kill him far quicker than he deserves.”
“Right you are sister. Forgive me brothers, I momentarily forgot myself. It won’t happen again. So tell me Damon. Why? Why did you choose Caroline?” As he spoke he slowly released his grip and drew his hand back, most likely fighting temptation.
“Because she was Elena’s friend, which would give me the in I needed to get invited into the Gilbert house, and because she was almost always alone. I would have taken Bonnie, or at least tried to since I didn’t know she was a witch at the time, but she was always with someone. Elena, Stefan, her über witch grams. Caroline was the friend that they always pretty much forgot, but she was pushy enough that compelling her to do something no matter what wouldn’t raise suspicions. She was perfect for what I needed at the time.”
“Well, I suppose that answers that question, and the one I had about what kind of vampire you are as well. Elijah brother, I believe you’re up.”
“Thank you Kol. Though I do believe that I shall abstain from my normal question. I could not care less about how Salvatore feels about Ms. Forbes. So instead I shall ask you, why was it so important to you to get close to Elena? It was my understanding that during that time, you were far more obsessed with Katarina.”
Wow, another direct hit. How was it that these bastards knew just what to ask, knew just the questions he didn’t want to answer?
“I was curious about her. I had been since I first met her, the night her parents died. I had some time to kill before I could do the ritual that I thought would free Katherine, what a waste of time that was, so I decided to get to know Elena.”
Another stunned silence. Well at least he was consistent.
“Fascinating as your doppelgänger hijinks are shall we continue. I only have one question for you Damon and know that it will be the most important question that you answer. Are you sorry?”
Was he sorry? Really, that’s what the big bad wanted to know. Well the answer was simple really, and it was obvious too.
“I thought as much, but it wasn’t me that needed convincing. Now that everyone’s on the same page, on to the final question. Caroline love, do you forgive Damon?”
Caroline didn’t know what to say. Looking around at all of her friends she saw them silently begging her to say yes. To not condemn another one of them to whatever fate the originals had in store for those she failed to forgive. Wait, no, that wasn’t really true. Elena and Stefan wanted that, but everyone else seemed more angry with Damon than inclined to save him. Maybe she would come out of this with a few friends left after all.
“Very good love. Now I believe it’s time for another break. So we’ll just un-compel you and be on our way. Don’t worry though we’ll have dinner sent down so you can feast while you talk among yourselves. I know some of you are getting rather peckish.”
Great, more alone time with her friends. Just what she needed.