Chapter: 1/2 because LJ is being a jerk.
Warning: R for language, I suppose.
Character: Tyler/Caroline (future fic)
Summary: She thinks it'd be more appropriate if the place were a ghost town.
Word Count: 12,000 (total)
Disclaimer: Don't own.
The second she gets out of the car she wants to get back in and drive away. She hasn't been here in over seven years and the last time she was, she left with blood on her lips in the middle of the night with the one person she had left on her side. They'd agreed never to come back. He'd made her promise she wouldn't and then promised it back to her. She knows Damon will be mad at her for leaving London without telling him, but she's capable of making her own decisions and protecting herself, and there's no one left in Mystic Falls to hurt her anyway. The only one left is Katherine and she's still locked in the tomb and hasn't eaten anything in years.
Now that there are no witches around to break the spell, Caroline knows Katherine isn't ever getting out.
The town is somber, which doesn't surprise her. It's always been a nice, quiet little American town with pep rallies and booster club banquets and a different historical event every couple weeks. That's only because the residents of the town really had no clue what was going on in the dark when they weren't looking. There's been so much blood spilled in this area no one would live here at all if they knew the truth.
She thinks it'd be more appropriate if the place were a ghost town. It makes her a little sick to think these people just carry on their every day lives in the place where so many people died.
Now she can add her mom to that list. At least the sheriff died naturally, not because of a bite or a stake or something else no one would understand. Breast cancer at 48 and Caroline didn't even know her mom was sick. It breaks her heart (metaphorically speaking) that she wasn't here for it, that she just disappeared without a goodbye and only spoke with her mom a handful of times after leaving.
She's standing by her rental car as the hearse pulls up to the cemetery followed by what looks like nearly every car in town. She barely recognizes anyone; they've all changed in the years she's been away, gotten older and gotten married. She sees couples together who didn't have kids before, holding the hands of young children. There are people who looked young when she lived here, and looking at them now it's hard to believe it's been only seven years.
She walks away from her car and moves a little closer. She can hear everything - the sermon, the people crying - and tears sting her eyes. She wonders how much harder this would be if she was human and had lived a normal life and was here for all these years. She's jaded enough to think this is easier. It's not often she's thankful for being what she is, but that's what she's feeling now.
She sees broad shoulders facing her, the cut of a suit that looks more expensive than the rest. His hair is the same and he's standing at the back of the crowd, watching as her mother's casket is lowered. Caroline takes a breath. She didn't expect him to be here. She didn't expect him to be in this town at all.
He turns his head and his eyes meet hers, and she should have known he'd be able to smell her even from where he stands.
... ... ...
She can't go to the house. Someone would see lights on and she'd end up being found out. She hasn't aged a day since she was '17' (she's stopped counting the years; it's just depressing) and someone would certainly ask her about it. It's easier when she's just invisible.
She breaks into the Salvatore house (it's easier than it should be) and it would creep her out that nothing has been touched, but considering the way they left and the fact that there's been no one around since then, it's not that weird to find two empty glasses sitting on the coffee table in the living room and their two old cell phones sitting on the middle couch cushion. She remembers every detail of that night, every sound, every wail coming from Stefan's bedroom. She remembers how hard she was crying and how she had to leave the room when Damon pressed the stake to his brother's chest.
She remembers pouring too much bourbon and begging Damon to get her away from this town and how he'd given in quicker than he'd ever given in to anything else in the entire time she'd known him.
There was nothing left for them then and it took coming back to realize that maybe she was wrong.
Tyler has aged well. Slowly, but well. She doesn't know exactly how someone who always looked that good managed to get even more attractive.
She can't lie and say she hasn't thought of him over the years. She has, of course. She's thought about all of them. They were barely out of high school when everything started going bad. Jules had it out for any vampire she'd ever come across and she somehow convinced Tyler he should act the same way. He resisted it for a long time, longer than anyone probably knows. He'd come to Caroline and they'd talk and try to understand everything, but in the end, the simple fact remained that they'd always be from two different worlds and those worlds would never meet in anything other than conflict.
She doesn't want to blame him for everything. He made it really hard.
Tyler didn't want to believe Jules was there for anything other than just to support him. Even after she kidnapped Caroline and made him witness it.
Until she basically offered him up to Elijah to break the curse changed everything. Caroline knows (has always known) that the way to alienate yourself from Tyler is to break his trust. She knows that first hand. She wanted to protect him, wanted to save him, so she told him what she knew and he turned on Jules in less than a heartbeat, proved she'd clearly underestimated him. She ended up dead, which no one thought anything of until they realized it put into motion a series of events completely out of everyone's control.
They all tried to stop it after Bonnie. They just couldn't stop it without her, and they learned that lesson a little too quickly.
She can still see Elena's cold, dead eyes sometimes. She was already gone by the time they got to her, and no amount or combination of vampire blood was enough to revive her. Given the two men she was with, she should have known there was about to be a bloodbath. It was Damon who suggested they go after Elijah, the three of them, and kill him. The breaking of the curse called for sacrificing a vampire, and it was either one of them, they turn someone new, or they kill Elijah. Elena's blood was on Elijah's hands, so the decision was an easy one.
Caroline is still a little suspicious of how easy it was to kill him but she was there when Damon staked him and she lit the torch to burn him to ash.
So they should have been free. They completed the curse, so they should have been able to take their rings off and live a little closer to normal.
She still doesn't know where they went wrong, but she's still got a ring on her hand and skin that burns in sunlight. The curse was a hoax, or they missed a step, or something went totally wrong, because they can't walk in sunlight.
And she knows for a fact that werewolves still turn every full moon. There are more of them in London than she's entirely comfortable with, to be honest.
There's only one here, but she doesn't know if she can trust him now any more than she trusted him the last time she witnessed him turn. The night he sunk his teeth into Stefan's thigh.
... ... ...
She wakes up in Damon's bed to her phone chiming and him telling her she's an idiot via text message. He obviously knows her well enough to know where she is. She texts back telling him to get over it and that she'll be back soon. He says, "If you don't end up dead," and she hates him for saying what she already knows.
She doesn't know how many tensions still lay in this town. She doesn't know if there are more vampires or more werewolves, and her only saving grace is that there's not a full moon any time soon and she doesn't plan on staying long enough to be here for one.
She runs herself a bath and slips into the tub, closes her eyes, and thinks the house is far too quiet. She's used to the noise of London, even heard from she and Damon's penthouse condo. Turns out Damon's been saving money for like, a hundred years and has a ton of it. She's done a little modeling, 'cause apparently the not aging thing really helps in that industry and cameras love her. Of course, Damon makes fun of her for being a model vampire, but she doesn't care what he says and his barbs don't hurt anymore. He's her best friend. He's her only friend. Sometimes they both make mention of how they'll probably be together forever. She thinks, every once in a while, that he just wants to have sex with her. He certainly does alright in that department on his own. Not that her bed stays cold for long, either. British men kind of have a thing for her, the ex-Pat model they see on magazine pages.
She can't bring herself to go into Stefan's room. The last time she was in there it was to move a body and she could hardly see through her tears then. She considers going to the old Salvatore property, where they buried his body and marked the spot with one of the stones from the house.
But her veins are drying up and if she doesn't drink something soon, she's going to do something terrible. There's nothing in this house and there's been nothing in this house for a lot of years.
She really doesn't like feeding on animals, but she doesn't have much of a choice right now, and she knows that if Damon were here, he'd be making fun of her for this. The thing about being a vampire is that your view on living and living things in general is completely changed. She doesn't care what she hurts sometimes, as long as she gets what she needs.
Raccoons have always freaked her out anyway.
... ... ...
She lets herself in through the back door of her old house with the key she never took off her key ring. She heard that her mom spent the last couple weeks in the hospital, so there's been no one here in a while and the kitchen smells a little rank. She'd do something about it, but she doesn't want anything to be suspect. She just wants to be home for a little while.
When she gets to the living room, she sees the same photos on the mantle that were always there, of her and her mom and her and her friends. There's a photo of she, Elena and Bonnie, and her breath catches. She tries not to think of them too often, because it hurts that she's the only one left, and it's all because of this stupid curse that wasn't even a curse. They both died for no reason at all and she misses them. She misses having friends like that, people who've known you forever and know everything there is to know about you. Damon is great, but he's a guy and it's not the same.
She wants these pictures, so she takes the frames and puts them into her purse. No one will probably notice if they're missing. She knows people are going to be trying to contact her, calling her old number to have her come back here and go through this stuff. It's one thing for them to see her on an ad for some British perfume in an imported magazine, but totally another to see her in the flesh and realize it's not airbrushing, that she actually looks identical to a 17 year old.
She climbs the stairs to her old room, and the door is shut. When she pushes it open, she sees that her room is clean and mostly dust-free, and that everything is exactly the same as it was when she left town. Her mom didn't change a thing.
She lays down on her bed and cries for a lot longer than she wants to admit.
... ... ...
She stops at the hospital and picks up dinner. It's really far too easy to break into any storage room and steal a few blood bags. Damon showed her how years ago and security hasn't increased at all in any of the places she's been or visited.
And she decides that there's nothing left to do in this town and that the bottle of bourbon on the coffee table from seven years ago is probably still good.
Stefan's last journal is sitting out and open, and she does not know why she feels the need to read it. It's stupid. She doesn't want to relive any of that period of time. Once was more than enough. But as she sips from her glass and pulls her legs up onto the couch, she reads the first entry. It's from right after Bonnie died and he essentially predicts everything turning as bad as it ended up turning.
She can feel how much he loved Elena just from how he wrote about her. Caroline can't decide whether or not she's envious of Elena for the way the brothers felt about her. Damon's never admitted it out loud to Caroline, but he doesn't have to.
The pen strokes are deep when he writes about Tyler, and it makes her uncomfortable and angry, so she shuts the book and throws it as hard as she can across the room. She drains the rest of her glass and her body feels full of electricity and hurt and memories, and she'd give anything to go back in time and change it all, make herself normal and just let herself...
The thing is, it was never in her control. She still wouldn't have Tyler, no matter what. Somehow she knows that, even if she doesn't know how.
She ends up at his door in a matter of minutes, more sober than she felt when she left the Salvatore house, and her fist is pounding on the door before she can remind herself this is a really, really bad idea.
He pulls the door open and he's not at all surprised to see her. She doesn't know how that's possible. He also doesn't greet her or do anything other than look at her.
"Can I come in?"
He scoffs, looks away and shakes his head. "Acting like you need permission, Caroline? You know you got that years ago."
"I was being polite."
He grinds his teeth and narrows his eyes like she's somehow said the worst thing possible. He pulls the door open though and she crosses the threshold and pushes the door closed behind her.
"What do you want?" he asks curtly. He grabs a glass off his living room table, sips from it and tries to look disinterested. She thinks he's faking.
"Did you know I was coming?"
"I knew you were here before you even knocked," he tells her.
"Oh," she whispers. She puts her hands in her back pockets and watches him. "How are you?"
She sighs. "Tyler," she says pleadingly, "can you just..."
"Just what?" He laughs bitterly and narrows his eyes at her. "Act like you're an old friend just passing through town?"
She swallows the lump in her throat. She was stupid to come here. She was stupid to come to Mystic Falls at all, but especially to this house. She honestly can't really believe he still lives here. There's about as much here for him as there is for her. (Absolutely nothing.) He's all alone with basically no one, living in this huge house, apparently, all by himself. She doesn't see any women around, and he's not wearing a ring.
She hates that she's relieved. What does it matter to her?
"You look good," she says. She figures she should appeal to his narcissistic side.
And she's not lying and she's been thinking it since yesterday.
"You look exactly the same," he says. It sounds like an insult and lands like one. She closes her eyes and sighs. "What do you want?"
She wipes away the tear as soon as it falls from her eye, looks away from him so he won't see her, even if she knows he can tell she's crying.
"My mom died," she whispers.
"Yeah," he says, and it doesn't sound sympathetic at all. "Surprised you care enough to come back."
"Shut up," she murmurs through her tears. "Don't...Just don't do that."
"It's not like you visited, Caroline."
"She wouldn't understand!" she yells. She takes a deep breath and shakes her head. "You know that, Tyler."
"Not really," he reminds her. He's smirking at her, mocking her. "It's not like I got a chance to tell my mom, did I?"
She sits down on his couch. Given what he said earlier about invitations, she really doesn't need one. If he really wanted her gone, he'd tell her so. She doesn't exactly feel welcome, but she figures he's in the same position she's in. He wants to be around her even if they both know it's a really stupid idea. It was probably always a really stupid idea. Even before he kissed her once and made her want him to do it more and then never followed through. God, she'd love to go back to when that was the biggest of her worries, which boy she was going to choose even though she knew neither of them was a realistic option.
"Can we just not do this?" she asks quietly. Suddenly there's a glass in front of her face and he's offering her a drink. He doesn't say anything, just pushes it closer and she takes it from him.
"You showed up out of nowhere. What do you want me to say?" he asks. He crosses his arms and looks down at her, and she doesn't like how intimidated she is. She could kill him right now if she wanted to and they both know that, but he's always made her nervous, and not just because of what he is.
She wants to switch gears, make this lighter and not about death.
She'd give anything for one day that didn't revolve around death.
"How have you been?" she asks softly, looking up at him.
"Fine," he answers automatically. "I have the whole estate. I basically do what I want."
She asks, "And what is it that you want?"
He raises his brow, smirks, and she knows she's not going to like what he has to say. "Travel around, meet women." She rolls her eyes. "Spend every full moon in a different place." When she looks at him, he looks too accomplished, like making her uncomfortable is exactly what he wants to do. "Shame I haven't made it to London yet."
She sets her glass down a little harder than she needs to just before she stands up. He was always kind of a jerk, but not like this and not really with her. Definitely not with her before everything changed. Before Jules came and ruined everything. They all would have been fine if that bitch hadn't shown up in town.
"You're just trying to be an asshole," she tells him, walking past him. "It was a mistake to come here thinking you'd be different."
"Hit a nerve?" he asks, laughing.
She had her moments growing up where she disliked him, but she's never felt it this strongly, and she honestly doesn't think he knows what he's dealing with.
She crosses the room and pushes him hard against the wall. His glass shatters near their feet and she can feel his body heat. It's nearly burning through their clothing as she pushes her arm against his chest to keep him there. He has the decency to drop the tough guy act, and she's glad to be evening the playing field, or maybe tipping it in her favour.
"You'd be very smart to shut up," she tells him, shoves at his chest to show she's got the upper hand.
"Are you trying to compel me?" he laughs. She reaches out her hand and digs her fingertips hard into his ribs. He groans in pain and grabs her wrist, tries to pull her hand away, but she's stronger than him.
"I'm just trying to warn you," she says. She's not joking. She can't control herself sometimes when she gets mad. He's pushing her towards that point and she doesn't think he realizes it.
She lets him go and he slumps back against the wall, but stays on his feet. She walks away, heading for the door. This visit was the worst idea she's ever had, and she just wants to leave. No good can come from her staying for more of this.
"You started this," he calls after her. When she spins around he's staring at her, and she knows he means every word.
She's thought about it, too, how if she hadn't told him about Jules' plan, none of it would have happened. He wouldn't have done what he did and...
She's not stupid enough to think everyone would have survived it, though, and at the time (still, sometimes) the thought of him dying the way Jules did is practically unimaginable.
"And you ended it when you killed Stefan," she tells him.
He just looks at her like he knows it's the truth. She's glad.
She also understands why he did it.
Stefan blamed Tyler for Elena's death and figured the best revenge was to kill Tyler's mother.
No one in this story is innocent.
... ... ...
"I saw Tyler," she admits to Damon when she calls.
"Idiot," he says. She can picture him shaking his head.
"Naturally." She knows how Damon feels about Tyler. If he were the one in Mystic Falls, they'd probably be disposing of a body right now. (Part of the reason she didn't tell him she was coming.) "He'll kill you in a heartbeat if he gets the chance."
"He won't," she insists. Tyler may be pissed off, but he still cares. She knows he does, deep down, because she still cares about him, even after everything he's done. "And there's not a full moon for almost another month."
"What was I thinking? It's not like there aren't any other ways to kill you," he says sarcastically. "Use your blonde little head, Caroline."
"He wouldn't do that. I know him better than you do."
He laughs a little. "Look where that got you."
She can't stop wondering how many vampires Tyler has killed over the years.
... ... ...
She comes up from the basement and Tyler is leaning back against the wall with his arms crossed. She thought she'd locked the door. He's smart enough to find another way in, but she didn't think breaking and entering was one of his specialties.
"What are you doing here?" she asks. She walks past him, heads for the kitchen for a little water to clear out her throat. He follows her closely.
"I'm surprised you're still in town."
"So what, you just come here and hang out sometimes?" she asks bitchily, hand on her hip and eyes narrowed. "Surprised someone's in the house? What, Tyler? Do you like to visit the scene of the crime?"
He shakes his head and watches her drink down a glass of water. "You make it sound like I wanted it all to happen."
"You didn't stop it."
"Neither did you!" he shouts. "You could have all just left! We all could have."
"You mean run away?" she asks. "You don't get it, do you?" She shakes her head and laughs humourlessly. "You've heard of Klaus, haven't you?"
He rolls his eyes. "Whatever. If the guy cared so much, he'd get that bitch out of the tomb."
She almost smiles at the way he says it, but it's definitely not the point. Plus, Katherine really doesn't count for anything at this point. She's a whole other issue.
"This is stupid," he sighs.
She narrows her eyes at him. She doesn't understand him or why he came here and brought all this up. Why did he say something about leaving when she mentioned it to him years ago, before Elena was even dead, and he said he couldn't leave until the whole thing was resolved. Maybe it was a bad idea then and it never would have worked, but it would have been better than witnessing every person close to her dying or being caught in the crossfire. The only people who left were Jeremy, Jenna and Alaric. She has no idea where they went or what they're doing now, but she's glad they got out.
"Why are you here?" she asks again. "Why are we reliving this? And why didn't you just come to London and kill me?" He looks shocked that she'd ask. "Just add me to the list of vampires you've killed. That's what you want, isn't it?"
"No!" he yells at her.
"That's not what you said last night."
"I was lying," he tells her, like she's stupid for believing it. "You show up at my door and try to act like nothing ever happened? I was trying to piss you off."
"Well it worked. I'm pissed," she admits.
He laughs, lifts up his tee shirt and shows her the bruises from her fingers on his ribs. "Yeah. I got that part."
She'd apologize, but she doesn't want to.
"Damon says I shouldn't trust you," she says, crossing her arms.
"Damon's a fucking asshole."
She tilts her head, raises her brow. "Funny. He says the same thing about you."
"I killed his brother," he says, like that's enough of an explanation. It is. Damon probably wouldn't care about Tyler one way or another if he hadn't been the cause of Stefan's death sentence. "What do you think?"
"I want to think you wouldn't do anything," she says quietly. "I didn't want to think you'd do anything to Stefan either."
"He killed my mom, Caroline." He sounds more upset than mad. She understands why. "I don't have anyone left for you to hurt. You're safe."
She doesn't like him implying that she'd hurt anyone in the first place, but she sees the point to what he's said and she supposes it's as good as a promise.
"We've always had our secrets, haven't we?" she asks quietly. He sighs and sets his jaw and turns his head away from her.
He leaves without saying goodbye, just walks out. She doesn't think they'll ever really get past all this, everything they've done to one another in the name of some curse or some title. Sometimes she likes to think of what it would have been like if neither of them had ever turned. It's one of her biggest fantasies, one of her best dreams.
She locks all the doors and windows, for whatever good that will do.
... ... ...
"Do I need to come there and get you? How stupid are you?" She rolls her eyes and walks around in the kitchen in her panties and a sweatshirt she found in Damon's room from some time in the '80s. "Don't you think it'll be a little suspicious? The mysterious disappearance, the sudden visit? Let's not forget the fact that you still look like you're in high school."
"My mom died."
"I'm allowed to use that excuse!" she whines. She dips her finger into the little jar of peanut butter she bought and leans against the kitchen counter. "It's fine. I'm coming back to London soon."
"Tell me you're not staying around so you can fuck Tyler Lockwood," he pleads. He sounds exhausted, like he's her babysitter and she's testing his last nerve.
"Damon, I don't need you to watch over me."
It's a lie sometimes, but it's not right now.
"Don't be ridiculous. Of course you do," he scoffs.
"Hey, where's Winton High?" she asks, pulling the sweatshirt she's wearing away from her body.
"I'm wearing your sweater and not much else."
She hangs up because she knows that'll keep him occupied for a while (ew) and then turns her phone off and finishes drinking her morning beverage.
It's weird, she thinks, that she hates him and misses him at exactly the same time.
She doesn't know why she's staying around, really, but she knows it does have almost everything to do with Tyler Lockwood.