Fandom: The Vampire Diaries
Pairing/Characters: Klaus/Caroline, slight Tyler/Caroline, Rebekah, Damon, Stefan, Elena
Word Count: 3220
Summary: It was never about them—they become the collateral damage—and as the world continues to spin and plans are made around them, they find comfort in each other.
Author's Notes: For a tvd_rareships's Anti-Valentine Comment Fic Party prompt by ishi_chan HERE.
The night he saves her—or, rather, fixes the mess he made to begin with—she truly was intended to be collateral damage. It had nothing to do with her, and she knows she wasn’t supposed to mean anything.
She never does.
The thing is, something happens that night between them; something understated and, quite frankly, unimportant in the long run, but it changes everything.
He saves her because he is trying to prove a point to Tyler and because he thought he might need her mother’s gratitude. This she knows. He never tells her so, never even says the words to anyone, but she doesn’t need him to. Collateral damage he calls her that night.
The truth is; they become the collateral damage.
He wonders why she comes to the ball at all. He likes to believe it’s because she desires him even a fraction as much as he does her, but he’s not that deluded. The way her eyes find his sister and her date tell him all he needs to know. It’s not about him.
It never is.
He tries to win her over in spite of this. He just can’t seem to help himself. He sees her and that long suppressed urge to draw flares back to life. She’s beautiful and he tells her so. She smiles abashedly and tries to deflect the situation, but he doesn’t let her.
He shows her some of the artwork in the mansion and notes the appreciation in her eyes. The moment doesn’t last long, however, for she displays a little too much insight and he doesn’t like where the conversation is going so he moves to end it.
She doesn’t let him. She gives back the bracelet.
The bracelet rests next to his sketchbook as he draws her, partly from memory, partly from fantasy.
Caroline is only half surprised that Elena doesn’t ask about the beautiful dress and the ball and Klaus. There is always something going on in her friend’s life and it doesn’t surprise her anymore that she doesn’t rate as important sometimes. It does surprise her that Damon calls her and asks her to distract Klaus.
Briefly, she wonders if he noticed because she is important to him in some small way, but dismisses the errant thought before it festers. He only has eyes for Elena and she doesn’t even want his eyes on her anymore.
She doesn’t ask what they’re planning to do because she doesn’t really want to know this time. And, frankly, she doesn’t believe Damon would tell her anyway.
As she leaves for the Grill, she wonders if she should feel used. Once again, everything is about saving Elena at all costs.
Afterwards, she tells herself she doesn’t feel guilty and she doesn’t. Truly.
At least, not until her fingers brush the surface of the drawing at her desk, her fingers coming away slightly silvery. She bites her lip and sighs as she sits on her bed.
She shouldn’t feel guilty anyway.
Klaus watches page after page burn in the flames as he tries to contemplate his next move. He wonders if he should be getting more satisfaction than he actually does out of watching her face burn over and over again as each page catches fire.
Caroline’s betrayal wasn’t the worst of the night. It wasn’t even the most surprising turn of events. Elijah and Rebekah had betrayed him in that they threatened Elena’s life when he has made it perfectly clear that her death is not an option, Finn betrayed him when he took their mother’s side, and his mother had tried to kill him. Again.
In comparison, Caroline’s actions weren’t bad at all. The problem, Klaus finds, is that her deceit hurts more. He probably should have expected it—and, in truth, he even understands it—but he hadn’t been prepared for this type of rejection. His family’s rejection isn’t new, but he hasn’t felt the type of rejection Caroline has just given him in a very long time. It cuts deeper than he thought possible.
Then, Rebekah comes in and tells him that the fight isn’t over, that he’s not safe. He watches the fire for awhile after Rebekah leaves and he concludes two things. The first is that he cannot trust anyone any longer.
The second is that attraction doesn’t burn away in fire.
Caroline is in the woods chasing after woodland animals the next time they meet. She quite nearly runs into him, actually.
He moves to lean against the nearest tree while she stares, unsure of what comes next. He has to be angry with her, she is sure, and yet he is smiling.
“Hello, love,” he greets her. “What are you doing out here at this time of night?”
It’s been three nights since she used his attraction for her against him and each night, she’s been out here. She won’t say it’s because of him, but she has to say something and she can’t lie. She bites her lip as she speaks and averts her eyes. “Bunny hunting,” she answers honestly. “Stefan used to come with me when it got to be too much, but he’s not like he used to be anymore.”
“When what got to be too much?” he asks and she can sense that he’s paying more attention now, having picked up on the key phrase she had hoped he’d ignore. No luck.
She shrugs. “Everything—Matt, Tyler, Bonnie, Elena, my mother, school, all the death in this town; there isn’t a lot that doesn’t just make me want to…so I come out here.”
“And take out your feelings on poor defenseless bunnies?” he finishes sarcastically, laughter evident in his voice.
“It’s better than preying on defenseless humans,” she replies defensively with a frown on her face.
Klaus just shakes his head at her. “I’m not going to get into this debate with you, sweetheart; it’ll just go around in circles.”
Caroline sighs and starts walking away. “Don’t knock it until you try it,” she mutters on her way.
The next thing she knows, he’s just a blur running in front of her. “I bet I can catch one before you can,” he issues the challenge.
Caroline shakes her head. She can bet he’s never done this before. It’s very different from feeding on humans—and she has more practice.
She beats him easily, despite his speed advantage.
“So what do I win?” she asks.
“It’s a small town,” Rebekah remarks later that night, “but it’s got a lot of trees. How are we supposed to find it, and how do we even know it’s still around? It’s been many hundreds of years, Nik.”
Klaus sighs as he sets down his brand new sketchbook. “I don’t know, ‘Bekah. I searched the entire town for a white oak tree and found nothing, I looked today near where the first one was but there didn’t seem to be any sign that another white oak tree was ever there. If the markings in the cave are to be believed, the tree must have been uprooted a very long time ago.”
His sister is standing up now glaring at him furiously. “What are we going to do then? We can’t just sit and wait until we’re killed!”
“We don’t have a choice. The tree is gone. Either it burned hundreds of years before or some bloodline that knew the legends has long been in possession of the daggers. We can’t just burn the world looking for them. We’re just stuck, there’s nothing for it.”
Klaus can see that Rebekah’s worried and he hides his own worry and shows his frustration instead. He has made a lot of enemies lately, all of which would be only too happy to use a white oak stake if they come into possession of one.
When Tyler comes back to Mystic Falls, the sire bond is broken, but so is his immortality. “A witch found me,” he explains to her. “She told me that she could help me break the sire bond with the aid of a spell. Your father was partly right, too, I had to transform into the werewolf for the spell to work. The witch left out that breaking the sire bond severed the connection to the vampire side of me, therefore making me mortal again.”
They’re sitting outside her house and he’s holding her, his arms tangled with hers, she feels the warmth of his skin and knows it’s true. He’s still a werewolf, but he’s mortal again. He’ll grow old and he’ll die.
Caroline bites her lip and tries to be happy for him, but she can’t help but fear what this means for them as a couple.
Klaus learns about Tyler’s achievement from Damon who is talking with Stefan at the Grill. “Apparently, he found a witch who wanted to restore the balance of nature. How she found out about the damn hybrids in the first place I cannot figure out.”
Curious over the mention of the balance of nature and his hybrids, Klaus hides in the shadows in order to continue eavesdropping.
“Not all of Klaus’s hybrids are located in cities around Mystic Falls, you know.” Stefan says. “Klaus sent some of them around the country to look for more wolf packs to turn. I wouldn’t be surprised if the word has gotten around and upset the witches. They’re all about the balance.”
“Whatever. Now we’ve got a not-so-sired Lockwood werewolf who can turn when or if he wants on our hands. What are we doing about that?”
“Tyler’s on our side, Damon. We don’t need to do anything about him.”
Klaus leaves then. He’s out a hybrid and now there are witches who feel that his hybrids upset the balance of nature.
“You have been given a chance to have a normal life, Tyler,” Caroline says softly. “You get to do what I can’t—go to college, get married, have children, grow old—and I can’t stand in the way of that.”
“I don’t want that, Caroline,” Tyler pleads. “I just want you. I love you.”
“You don’t get it Tyler!” she cries, wiping tears from her eyes. “I’m stuck like this forever and I’ll never change. You deserve to be with someone who will change, who will change with you. And it won’t be me…it can’t be. I’m sorry.”
Caroline runs out of the Lockwood mansion and drives home, only to find someone in her bedroom. She sighs.
“Today has not been a good day so I really don’t think I can deal with you right now,” she says as she wipes away the tears still falling down her face.
Klaus, who was sitting on the edge of her bed, notices her movement immediately and is instantly in front of her. “I thought you would be happy to have your boyfriend back,” he says softly. Caroline takes note of the anger in his words that he hides; his curiosity and seeming concern for her taking the forefront.
She doesn’t know why it happens, but he’s looking at her like he honestly cares about her and she just needs someone to care right now so when a new wave of tears fall down her face, she steps closer to him and lets his arms pull her to him. “Tyler and I broke up,” she mumbles against his chest between sobs. “It’s over between us.”
Klaus leads the brokenhearted blonde to her bed, holding tightly to her as she sobs, the sounds of her cries affecting him a lot more than he’d like to admit.
“If breaking up with him makes you feel like this, than why did you do it?” he asks her once he has her lying on the bed. She has traded his chest for a pillow and is hugging it tightly to her as she lies on the bed.
She looks up at him. “I can’t let him give up everything to be with me. I know he’ll regret it when he’s older and he doesn’t deserve that. He can have a real life and he deserves to. He deserves to be happy.”
In that moment, Klaus learns two very important things about Caroline Forbes. She is selfless and she is beautiful even when she cries.
Caroline asks him to stay with her that night. He is surprised by the request, but after a moment nods and settles himself against her headboard. She curls up facing him and meets his eyes. “Talk to me,” she whispers hoarsely, reaching out for his hand.
“About what?” he asks, squeezing just slightly.
“Anything. Tell me about the places you’ve been, and the people you’ve seen.”
He obliges, and speaks softly to her about the last time he was in Tokyo.
He relishes in the couple of times he gets to see her smile before she falls asleep.
At school the following Monday, Caroline learns that Tyler is still angry with her, because he is blatantly using Melanie Tate to make her jealous. She bites her lip and turns away from him, determined to ignore it.
She tells herself it would never work between them anyway, that she’s just ending things before it ruins them both. She tells herself he’ll be better for it in the long run, tells herself that he now has a shot at a normal life, and she doesn’t want to be responsible for ruining that. In history, Elena glances from Tyler and Melanie to Caroline and the look of understanding on her friend’s face comforts her to a degree.
“It was hard letting Jeremy go off to Denver, but I wanted him to have a life without all this drama,” Elena tells her after class while they walk to their lockers. “And I think he would have done the same for me if he could have.”
Caroline takes a deep breath. “It’s just so hard.”
Klaus’s phone rings late at night. His eyes open and he is very tempted to just throw the damn thing across the room, but one glance at the screen and he answers it instead.
“Tell me about Rome,” she demands.
He smirks. “Nice to hear your voice, love,” he replies teasingly. “To what do I owe the pleasure?”
He hears her sigh as she shifts position on her bed. “I can’t sleep,” she answers. “Talk to me.”
He obliges readily, delighting in her interest, and he stays on the line long after she falls asleep, falling asleep himself to the sound of her breathing on the other end.
The phone calls soon become a ritual that is only broken when they meet in person. Caroline finds that his soft, carefully chosen words guide her into pleasant dreams and keep away the nightmares, a most effective dream-catcher. Over the phone, she only hears his voice, but there comes a time when she starts to crave his touch, so one night, she makes her way to the Mikaelson mansion and he whisks her upstairs.
“Elena would kill me if she knew,” she whispers even as she closes her eyes.
In a way, it’s completely innocent—she’s under the covers and he lies on top of them—and they haven’t even kissed. And it’s not like it’s really all that wrong. He’s by no means otherwise attached, and Tyler’s moved on by now. So, really, what they’re doing is not something anyone should be able to judge.
Caroline knows better, though. Everyone is a judge, even when they have no right to be, and although it isn’t wrong for her to be with him, it isn’t exactly right either.
“So we won’t tell her,” Klaus answers as he plays with her hair. Changing the subject then, he continues with their nightly ritual. “What do you want to hear about tonight?”
Caroline is completely unaware of what is coming, but Klaus isn’t nearly as unaware. He shields her from the inevitable because he doesn’t want to see her cry for him—he doesn’t think he can handle it.
His hybrids have been in constant contact with him from the beginning, and they’re all telling him the same things of late. There are whispers of gathering witches. Powerful witches from ancient bloodlines, all being summoned by an as of yet unknown leader.
Klaus hasn’t lived this long and not picked up on things. These bloodlines are as ancient as his family’s, and the reason for this meeting becomes clear.
Not only that, but in Mystic Falls, an unlikely alliance between the eldest Salvatore and the Lockwood werewolf has been forged. Since learning of Tyler’s defection, Klaus has been contemplating possible answers as to how the boy managed such a feat, even with a witch on his side.
Only an extremely powerful witch would have the power to break a bond like Tyler’s to him. And there is only one witch he knows of that would know enough about the hybrid curse to attempt such an endeavor to begin with.
It is Elena, ironically, who finally tells her what has been brewing for weeks under her nose. “The witch who unsired Tyler is Esther, and she knows of a way to kill Klaus.”
She tries to listen to what Elena says after that, but her mind can’t concentrate. After she leaves the Gilbert house, she heads for the Mikaelson mansion earlier than normal. She has to tell him.
She knows it’s a betrayal of her best friend, but he has become important to her too and she can’t just let this blindside him. As it turns out, she is the only one who was blindsided.
“You knew?” she whispers, fighting tears.
“So what are we going to do?” she asks. “I can’t just let you die!”
Klaus’s fingers trace the lines on her hands as he holds them gently in his. “There’s nothing for it, Caroline. We’re not sure how long the tree was left to grow before they cut it down and made the stakes so we don’t know how many there are. We don’t know who has them anymore either. There have been many generations of these bloodlines. It’s a losing battle.”
“So you’re just giving up? You’re just going to let them kill you!” Caroline’s hysterical now, and tears are falling fast down her cheeks.
Klaus lets go of her hands and wipes them away before pulling her to him. Her hands wrap around him and hold tightly.
When the sun shines into his bedroom the next morning he opens his eyes to find Caroline at the window. “What are you doing, sweetheart?” he murmurs sleepily.
Caroline smiles sadly, “Just memorizing the view.”
Her words make no sense at first, and then he realizes. “We can’t outrun them, love, we don’t even know who they are.”
“Well,” she says softly as she walks back over to him. “Maybe I’ve decided I want more than stories each night. Maybe it’s time for you to show me all of the things you’ve told me about. If we haven’t much time, we should probably get started.”
Klaus sighs before agreeing to her demand.
They don’t have forever, but right now they have each other and if she wants to see the world, he’ll show her as much as he can. She deserves that much, at least.