Your reviews never fail to make me blush, so thank you. This story really would be nothing without your continued support.

Now...I feel I should warn you all. If you haven't realised by now that I'm a writer who loves her angst, well – you haven't really been paying attention. From here on out, things will pick up and all I'll say is that you're in for one hell of a rollercoaster ride.

People will die.

Some may come back.

Some may not...

Ye have been warned.

Enjoy!


"We can't blow up our hometown."

Matt frowned at the overly gleeful and careless look on Damon's face as he perused the map of Mystic Falls. This was not what he'd signed on for, not that he'd really signed on for anything, but blowing up Mystic Falls? It was crazy. There was crazy and then there was crazy. This was on a whole other level.

"Says one of the only people left in this group who can actually live there," Damon raised an eyebrow at him, his voice a sharp whine that spoke of tempered annoyance.

Excuse him for being human then.

It's not like it was actually his fault he'd managed to hold onto his humanity. And besides, setting fire to and practically destroying their entire hometown had to have been one of the worst ideas he'd ever heard of. There had to be a better way to kill Markos. Did any of them really think Kol had any idea what he was actually doing, or saying for that matter? Rebekah had always described him as the larrikin, the loose and uncontrollable brother, not some great mastermind or tactician.

Matt had his doubts.

So did Jeremy.

He chanced a look at his silent and brooding friend. Matt was worried about him and for him. The fact that Bonnie had sided with Caroline, the fact that their spell had actually worked and there was one less dead Mikaelson roaming the Other Side, didn't sit well with either of them. Matt didn't know if Jeremy could forgive Bonnie for this. The tense line of his friend's shoulders had pulled so taught when his girlfriend had called and relayed the plan. It was the cheerfully British voice in the background that had nearly burst the veins in Jeremy's neck.

So no, Matt didn't think this was a good idea at all.

"We're not blowing up our town," Elena's voice filtered through the phone on the desk and Matt nodded in silent agreement, watching the way Damon winced at the sound of her voice. "We just need to lure enough Travellers to one spot."

"How?" he asked, morbidly curious as to where she was going with this. Was Elena Gilbert really okay with committing genocide outside Mystic Falls and not within? "None of you can lure anyone anywhere stuck out here."

Markos' spell had stopped, presumably, when the Travellers had run out of doppelganger blood. It was a finite source, as Liv put it, so the spell could only spread so far. Unless they got their hands on Stefan or Elena a second time; if the Travellers managed to get more doppelganger blood then it was all over.

For his friends, anyway.

Jeremy had worked out the perimeter of where the spell ended and started, which worked in their favour to a degree. But Matt knew by the look on Damon's face that his train of thought was not a good one. They were all collateral damage in the end.

As long as Elena remained safe and sound, the rest of them could burn with the town.

"That's where Mama Forbes comes in."

Matt frowned.

Caroline was so not going to be okay with this.


She hated waiting. Caroline had never been an overly patient child, an even less patient teen, and now was really no different. Her body jittered with barely suppressed anxious energy as she stared down at Klaus' phone, mind scattered with worry.

Kol was alive.

He'd waltzed through the door of their rundown little motel room as though he was the messiah reborn, so nonchalantly arrogant with his 'miss me' smirk and cheery facade. Caroline wanted to smack him, to wipe that snarky little smile and flirtatious wink off his overly pleased face. Klaus had snapped Luke's neck all because he'd tried to play his own sick little waiting game.

Bonnie had explained it all...right down to the part where they wanted to blow up Mystic Falls. And wasn't that just the cherry on top of an overly awful twenty-four hours.

They'd left Whitmore shortly after Kol's burnt corpse remained still and unmoving a second time. Liv had worked so hard to resurrect the dead Original, repeating the spell over and over again only to fail every single time. Only she hadn't failed and her thanks, it seemed, was a dead brother stuffed into the back of a four-wheel drive and shackles that chained her to the seemingly insurmountable task ahead. Caroline felt sorry for her and angry on her behalf. She'd had to restrain herself, nails biting into the flesh of her palm when Kol had walked through the door, Bonnie in tow.

Klaus was reservedly happy and acutely aware of her rage. Caroline knew deep down that he was overjoyed at the sight of his overly smug little brother. It was her ire and her wrath, the insurmountable anger she felt at being used and taken for a fool, that kept him silent. She could see the happiness glow in his eyes and the short sweetness of his smile. Dimples spoke of tempered joy. She was happy for him, truly; it was the fact that he didn't seem to care one iota about his brother's proposed genocide that made her insides writhe in anger.

They couldn't just blow up Mystic Falls!

There were people there, people she loved, people she'd known her whole life.

Her mother, for one.

"Don't look so sour, darling," Kol crooned, swinging a too friendly arm around her shoulders. He ignored Klaus' answering frown and folded arms, his fingers curling across her collarbone. "I happen to think it's a wonderful plan."

Caroline shrugged off his touch with a baleful glare. "Oh course you would. It's your plan."

"Which is why it's so ingenious," his salacious wink, the mischievous charm with which he moved only served to increase her ire.

"Because blowing up a bar is a stroke of pure genius," she rolled her eyes and moved to stand beside Klaus, her heels taping angrily against the floor. "I mean your IQ must be through the roof if you came up with that one all on your own."

Caroline felt the hybrid shift and caught the amused half-grin on his lips. The fact that her anger served to amuse him only made the pit in her stomach and the red fury in her blood grow. She was trying to be calm about this, trying to be rational. It wasn't her fault Bonnie had lost all sense, Klaus his tongue and Kol – well, he was proving to be more trouble alive than dead.

"What are you smiling at?" she groused, arms crossed firmly across her chest. Caroline chose to ignore Klaus' arched brow and continued to stare at him. "If you think this a good idea then you're as much of an idiot as he is," she sharply inclined her head at the careless joker, eyes unamused and hard in their rage.

Klaus licked his lips and chuckled lightly. "Sweetheart –"

"Oh don't you bloody sweetheart me," Caroline snapped, gesturing between the two brothers who seemed to stand resolute in their reunion. "Idiocy obviously runs in the family. You can't just blow up The Grill and hope for the best. We're talking about genocide..." she trailed off at the equally blank look on both brothers' faces. "Oh. Right. I forgot who I was talking to. Silly me – I mean, mass murder is a just a pastime for you lot. Murder and Mikaelson seem to go hand in hand."

Klaus frowned, shooting his baby brother a silencing stare as the younger Original opened his mouth to make some smart remark. Caroline jutted her chin out, absolutely refusing to back down. Matt had said that Damon wanted to use her mother as the bait. How Klaus could be okay with that – wasn't he supposed to care? Perhaps it was silly but Caroline had always thought that if someone loved you – or at least said that they did – then they were supposed to think of your wants and your needs, your thoughts and feelings just as much as their own. She didn't know how he could side with Kol and Damon on this. She didn't know how Bonnie could side with them on this.

Her lip quivered under his stare. "My mother is not collateral damage," she spoke with surprising force and blinked back the angry tears that threatened to spill.

Caroline looked at them all with hard eyes.

They could do what they liked.

She was out.

It was ridiculous to think that they could just destroy everything, that they could literally obliterate the foundations of their tiny home simply because one warlock refused to die. Caroline desperately wanted to find another way, to find some alternative that put her mother out of the firing line as she remembered her fight with Klaus and his brother. She'd been so damn furious when Matt had called her and relayed their plan, immediately turning her rage onto Kol and his ridiculous grin.

Damon wanted to use her mother to lure the Travellers to the Grill. He wanted to use Liz to draw them to ground zero and then blow the place sky high. How any of them thought that she was even remotely okay with that was beyond her. Elena followed Damon's will like some sick little puppy. Bonnie drowned her with overly sympathetic stares and Klaus – well, he'd remained quietly alert and resoundingly silent.

She'd wanted him to fight, to argue for her and with her. Instead, he remained as silent as the grave and she hated him for it.

She hated Damon for suggesting her mother as the bait.

She hated her mother for going along with it.

She hated Kol for ever thinking that genocide was a good idea.

And she hated Mystic Falls for ever being her home.

Caroline seethed silently in her displeasure, eyes locked onto Klaus' phone as she resolutely ignored him. He knew she was angry with him, what he didn't know was just how lividly helpless she truly felt. They hadn't even bothered to ask if she was okay with this. None of them, not even Bonnie – before she'd pissed off with Kol to God knows where – had bothered to stop and ask what she thought. Caroline had had to tell them, to yell at them her displeasure, and even then they hadn't stopped to listen.

"Caroline," Stefan tried to reach for her, his hand inches from her face, when she looked up and threw a withering glare his way.

He was just as bad as Klaus for not saying no.

She watched as her friend sighed, face resigned to his condemnation. He only meant to comfort her and yet, his comfort was the last thing she wanted. Her ire was all-consuming and she wanted none of it. Stefan could keep his words of comfort and his goddamn Salvatore eyes to himself, thank you very much! And Klaus could join him.

She saw the look they shared; the poorly veiled concern and shared understanding that seemed to pass between the two of them. Here were two men whose history spoke of violence and manipulation, of a war between friends turned enemies turned hesitant allies. They sat in tense silence, terse in their discomfort. Caroline knew that Stefan hated Klaus with a passion that rivalled Tyler's. Caroline also knew that for Klaus, Stefan would always be the 'almost brother' and lost friend he'd pushed away with violent insecurity and personal greed.

The fact that they were both here for her meant more than she was willing to admit. Caroline knew that they were on 'guard duty'. It was patronising to think that she had to be watched, but then Caroline supposed that she did. If she could stop this, stop her mother from becoming the collateral damage – consequences be damned – then she would.

Stefan had chosen her over Elena. Klaus had chosen her over Kol. They'd both chosen to be with her, to stay with her and to watch her; it was in her nature to be stupidly loyal, according to Damon. They'd chosen to stay with her and yet their very presence made her want to scream out in anger because they hadn't really chosen her at all. If they had, then they'd be just as against this stupid plan of Kol's and Damon's as she was.

In the end, she came second.

She always did.

With an agitated huff, Caroline stood abruptly from her perch on the edge of the hotel bed. She couldn't just sit here and wait for Bonnie or Kol to ring and tell them it was done. Caroline was over the drama and the danger and the anxiety. And she was so damn sick of staring at the God awful floral wallpaper in the ratty room they'd rented out of desperation.

While the Travellers' spell had ceased to spread beyond the boundaries of Mystic Falls, Stefan and Elena were still highly sought after and so they had to hide. Their blood would continue the spell and, as Klaus had put it, if he were Markos he'd hit the doppelgangers where it hurt the most; their friends and family. He'd push and push until they bent to his will. Klaus was nothing if not the expert on all things evil, so into hiding they all went.

Stefan threw her a worried look, while Klaus simply raised an eyebrow at her restless agitation. She needed air and space, and told them as much with an argumentative stamp of her heel and swish of her hair as she moved to the front door. They'd be able to see her from the window, so there was no need to worry their pretty little heads over her escaping; it's not like she'd be able to outrun either of them even if she did decide to make a dash for it. Besides, they were driving her insane! There was only so much broody silence a girl could take.

Caroline breathed a sigh of relief as the cool breeze hit her face. She could hear Stefan move to the window and frowned, indignant and resentful. How they could sit there and watch her and pretend that everything was going to be alright was beyond her. Damon's plans always ended in someone getting hurt. There was always collateral damage. Normally, it was her – the pretty blonde distraction – that ended up bruised and battered in favour of saving Elena Gilbert's pitiful arse. The brunette was in her bad books, blacklisted and highlighted, underlined with thick black pen. Elena was supposed to be her best friend and yet, according to Matt, she hadn't even paused when Damon had relayed 'Mama Forbes'' role in his disaster of a plan.

Caroline ground her foot into the dirt beneath her feet as she leaned against a nearby tree at the edge of the parking lot. Her hand wound its way into her back pocket, fingers grazing the crumpled drawing she'd hurriedly stuffed there. She hadn't even had a chance to look at it, to smooth out the wrinkles she'd caused in her haste. It seemed an offence to damage something so beautiful and yet, she absolutely refused to let Klaus know that she'd kept the damn thing.

He'd know that she cared then. Hell, he already did know. It was just...Caroline wasn't sure if she was ready to accept just how much she really did care about him. Neither of them were ready to face that – not yet, at least.

The sound of a twig snapping underfoot made her whirl around. She'd expected to see someone she knew from Mystic Falls, a face of home, the body of a vessel, a puppet to some faceless Traveller's will. It was not Doctor Winter, her childhood physician and nor was it Mrs Wilkes, her neighbour, or Barry the postman. The face she saw made her blood run cold.

He smiled at her, so charmingly arrogant, so pleased with himself and her fear.

"Hello Caroline," Mikael tilted his head, a pleasant smile on his face.

Real.

He was real.

And alive.

So very alive and so very real.

Caroline felt as if she couldn't breathe, as if the very air in her lungs had turned to ice. Her eyes instinctively drifted down to his hand and the weapon he held there. Caroline's eyes widened in response to what she saw and she turned on her heel and ran for the motel room.

"Klaus!" Caroline's voice rose in panic.

She had to warn him.

Mikael was alive.

And he had the white oak stake.

She heard the answering footsteps from inside the room, saw the flash of panic on Stefan's face as he pushed through the door first. Before she could reach them, strong arms pulled her back and into their vice-like grip. Mikael's arms wound around her neck and her waist; she was a bird caught in his trap and try as she might, Caroline could not move. His grip was like iron and it was suffocating.

She coughed, fingers clawing at the arm around her neck. Her vision blurred, tears of exhaustion and fear blinding her. And yet, despite the pain and the fear, Caroline could tell that Mikael did not mean to kill her.

At least, not yet.

Hers would not be a quick death.

Klaus' panicked face swam before her eyes and she struggled harder.

"Let her go," the hard tone, the immovable rigidity of Klaus' voice broke as he looked at her. All she saw and all she heard was genuine fear and it made her want to cry. His mask was slipping and so was hers.

Her life was in Mikael's hands.

Paris, Rome, Tokyo.

Klaus' eyes remained locked onto hers.

They could say goodbye to their 'one day'.

"I don't think I will, boy," Mikael's voice sounded like thunder in her ear and his grip around her throat tightened painfully.

Stefan's voice drifted through the tense silence. "You want to kill Klaus? Fine. Kill Klaus," Caroline tried to twist her neck to look around Klaus and at her friend in disbelief. "Just let Caroline go."

Stefan looked fierce in his determination. She wanted to scream at him, to scream at both of them – Klaus remained silent despite his former-friend's words – but Mikael's forearm cut into her throat. It was almost too painful to swallow, too painful to breathe.

Stefan needed to think.

If Klaus died, they all died.

And not just that – Caroline could not imagine a world without Klaus in it.

It was the thought of his eyes, the remembered touch of his lips, of his breath as it ghosted across her skin; it was the beauty of his unbridled passion, of the tempest he created within her with just one small glance – Caroline could not, and she would not, live in a world where he died for her.

With an almost feral grimace, Caroline stamped her foot down and ground the heel of her boot through Mikael's flesh. The action was jarring and the force of her boot cutting through leather and bone made her jerk forward, knees bending painfully. Mikael reacted with a surprised grunt and his grip on her lessened. It was all she needed to move and Caroline quickly and forcefully threw her elbow back and into his stomach. The answering momentum gave her room to breathe and she quickly surged forward, eyes locked onto the surprised blues in front of her.

A part of her cheered silently at the look on Klaus' face as she quite literally tumbled into his waiting arms. She was not a damsel, not some porcelain doll he needed to coddle and protect. Caroline could take care of herself, not well sometimes, but then she was still learning. Even she managed to forget sometimes that she was practically a toddler in vampire years. And for a toddler, for a young baby vampire, Caroline was doing just fine.

As his arms instinctively wound around her, his palms hot against the skin of her lower back, Caroline let her eyes close and his smell calm her. She could pretend all she liked, deny and lie until she was blue in the face; Klaus was like a drug and she was the addict. He was her dirty little secret that was, thankfully, not so secret anymore.

His arms tensed and she turned to watch as Mikael moved forward, only to be thrown back as Stefan moved with fierce speed. Her friend's hand pushed outwards and into Mikael's sternum and Caroline watched in awe as the Mikaelson patriarch was propelled into a nearby tree. Stefan was furious; she could see the harsh lines etched into his brow as he stared down the older Original. She'd never thought he'd choose her, that he'd fight for her as she did him. Even now, even after all they had been through, the insecure little girl shined through.

Stefan looked back briefly, eyes wide and hard as they moved from her face to Klaus'. "Get her out of here!"

No.

Caroline shook her head in denial as he turned away from her and back to Mikael.

He meant to fight.

He meant to die.

"No!" she struggled in Klaus' arms, a trapped sparrow flailing helplessly as Mikael rose from the ground, white oak stake gripped tightly in his left hand. "Stefan!"

Caroline kicked and scratched and tore at the arms surrounding her. She was vaguely aware of his soft British accent whispering in her ear, of his comfort that tasted like poison in her mouth. Caroline ignored him and continued to kick out. He couldn't do this. He couldn't let Stefan do this. She would not let either of them die, not her best friend and not her maybe last love. Caroline refused to let them die.

Not for her.

Never for her.

With a small cry she used her weight to propel Klaus forward and over her head, not unlike she'd done with Mikael in her dream. The impact surprised him and she raced forward, keenly aware that she would have a small window of opportunity before Klaus managed to regroup and stop her. Caroline ran toward Mikael, her legs pumping fast and hard as she sped past a surprised Stefan and into the hard planes of the Mikaelson patriarch's chest. Her hands reached for the white oak stake, fumbling slightly but managing to wrangle it from his grasp.

She was strong and fast.

Just not strong or fast enough.

Mikael's hand moved to her neck, lifting her off the ground, and she felt, reflexively, her fingers open as the grip around her throat tightened. The weapon slipped from her hand and, just as she was ready, just as she'd prepared – this would be her end, her death – a hard force collided with the older Original's body and she fell from his grasp.

Klaus was everywhere. He was above her and behind her, in front of her and darting all around. He and Mikael were a blur of violent words and fists as they smashed into the nearby forest. Caroline scrambled for the white oak stake, which had scattered to her left, too far for her to reach quickly, when Mikael's voice bit through the silence.

"Do you really think you can stop me?" she looked up in horror, eyes wide as the man lifted Klaus from the ground and slammed him into the hard earth. Both men breathed hard, blood lining their clothes and face. Mikael reached down and placed a hand on either side of Klaus' face, knee coming up hard when the latter fought back. "You always were a fool, Niklaus."

Caroline swallowed hard at the look on Klaus' face.

No.

This wasn't happening.

This could not be happening!

Klaus lifted his head, indomitable against the force standing above him. "I may be a fool but –"

He moved as a blur from behind her, darting to the left and moving directly for Mikael. Before she could blink, before she could even comprehend what had happened, Stefan had moved, white oak stake poised, his aim true. She watched as Mikael's eyes widened in surprise as the wood pushed deep into his chest. And then she screamed as his hand, his last act, buried into Stefan's.

"NO!" Caroline scrambled forward, eyes wide and hand reaching.

Mikael's ashen face went lax and he tipped to the side, body falling with a resounding thud next to Klaus' stunned face.

In his hand, lay Stefan's heart.

"Stefan!" she screamed, running for her falling friend, tears streaming down her face.

Caroline collapsed, her knees cutting into the hard earth as she fell by Stefan's greying corpse.

"No no no no no no no," harsh raspy breaths escaped her as Caroline struggled to breathe, hands flittering across her friend's ashen face. "Come on, Stef. Don't do this to me."

Open your eyes.

Please don't do this to me.

Don't leave me.

Please.

Please?

Don't leave me, Stefan.

Don't leav –

She felt his hand on her shoulder, a touch of fire that burned. "Caroline..."

"Don't touch me!" she shrugged away from his comfort, ignoring the pained expression on his face and the whisper of his own suppressed tears. His lashes were wet; hers were soaked. Caroline couldn't stop the shuddering gasp, the pained cry that wrenched from deep in her gut as her eyes landed on the gaping hole where Stefan's heart should have been.

This couldn't be happening.

This wasn't supposed to happen.

Stefan was supposed to live.

He was supposed to –

"Stefan? Stefan, please," hers was a foreign voice, cracked and so child-like, a voice not at all her own. Caroline felt his cold cheek beneath her palm and she shattered like glass. "Oh god! Please no. I can't –"

"I've got you love," Klaus' arms wound around her and she felt his body fall forward, curling protectively around her shaking form. She held onto his arm like a lifeline, a pained cry escaping her lips. "It's alright love, I've got you."

But he didn't.

There wasn't anything left to hold on to.


Should probably go hide right about now.

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Till next time ;)