not for him a watery grave

Summary: He's saved her life, more than once. Doesn't she owe him the same? An alliance, a rescue, a race against time. A possibility. Hope. AU after Season 3: Before Sunset.

Author's note: This story is only 4 chapters and was first posted over two years ago. I took it down for personal reasons, but have since rethought my decision so here it is. I don't watch the show or ship Klaroline anymore so there will not be a sequel (which was my original intention).
Thanks to my beta Anastasia Dreams.

My story begins at sea ... The wild waters roar and heave. The brave vessel is dashed all to pieces ... A lady whose soul is greater than the ocean and her spirit stronger than the sea's embrace. Not for her a watery grave but a new life beginning on a stranger shore. It will be a love story, for she will be my heroine for all time. ~ Tom Stoppard, Shakespeare in Love, from which I adapted the story's title

Chapter 1 of 4: dashed all to pieces

She's standing in her living room, shaking, calling, "Mom! Mom!" She's half-relieved when Liz does not bustle in, taking charge, and demanding answers from Caroline, as if Caroline is her own personal database of vampire knowledge. She still needs her mother sometimes, except it can wait. When she pulls herself together, wipe away her blood and the still-burning vervain, stop shaking. Appear stronger than she feels. Liz doesn't need to see the evidence that her daughter is still weak sometimes. Caroline doesn't need her mother's instinct to run off determined to end Alaric and be lost. The tide has turned and they protect each other sometimes.

She breathes in and out, slowly, as her father taught her, as Stefan taught her, to control her cravings. She can do this. She's been tortured before. In and out. Slowly.

She's still jittery, and God she needs a drink.

She never used to drink so much, but being a vampire has changed that too. The alcoholic burn quenches the flare of bloodlust when she is tired or hurting or anxious or just relieved. All those jumbled up confused teenaged emotions made worse by her undead status.

And by Klaus.

He's really good at messing with her emotions.

Like making her trust him – just a teensy bit. Enough to believe him when he told her to leave and let him play the hero.

Of course that's not what he actually said.

It's okay. It's me, it's okay. You're safe. We'll save Elena, you go straight home, you stay inside.

Low and soft and caring.

Like he hasn't tried to kill them all at one point or other. Even her.

Like he is a hero and not a serial killer.

Like he isn't just saving Elena to be his personal blood bag / donor.

But, really, the only thing she's thinking about clearly is: go home, is Elena safe, is Alaric gone forever?

Mostly, is Elena safe?

Because Caroline cannot bear the fact that she did flee and leave her friend behind, even though there were others more capable of saving Elena at that moment.

But Elena had rushed to her, to save her.

And precious few actually do that for Caroline.

Except apparently Klaus.

She's still searching for her stashed emergency vodka when her phone buzzes and starts to ring. She fumbles through her pockets with it's "should have been a princess ..."

In spite of her distress, she half-smiles at Tyler's flashing name. She nearly drops her phone at the news. "B-but I thought that – what about Alaric?" Is that the floor rising up to meet her?

Is that a normal reaction?

She somehow listens to Tyler's explanation, though her mind races so that she hardly comprehends anything at all. Just no – something recoils inside so abruptly that she could really just coil into a ball or lash out to anything, possibly violence, even preferably violence.

"Are you sure?"

"Of course I'm sure."

"I mean, is it... permanent?"

"Well, yeah. Damon and Stefan are going to make sure of that."

Of course they would. Does she murmur this to Tyler? – that "of course" that sounds more bitter than she expects? She can't even be certain why. She hears him say "Atlantic," and all she sees is a coffin lying lonely on the ocean floor. For all time.

"But he's not ... dead?"

"No, I'm safe," Tyler responds as if he has not heard her, and for one freaky moment, Caroline thinks, that should be my worry. I should have thought of that. I should. Why didn't I?

She nearly hyperventilates.

Why didn't she?

She loves Tyler.

Except – no, not except.

Klaus is supposed to show her the world, someday, in a hundred years. She was supposed to show up on his doorstep, and she believed him. For once, she believed him completely. She could see that happening, someday. Someday. When Mystic Falls was so far behind that it didn't matter.

She just isn't ready yet. She doesn't want it yet – and she doesn't want him. She can't think "not yet."

He chose her first. He saved her first.

But she loves Tyler.

Suddenly, she is excruciatingly aware of everything that Klaus wanted to tell her or show her, but didn't or couldn't. His past. The nonviolent part. Courts and paintings and a million things that she would never see.

And she couldn't ever deny him again.

Mystic Falls has a way of fucking everything up.

Oh, God, is that selfish of her?

"Don't you see? We are free, Caroline, finally free."

"We're not free Tyler. There is a psycho Original wearing our history teacher's face, determined to exterminate our race." Even though everything sounds murky, she is absolutely certain of this.

"I know that Caroline." He sounds irritated. "But let's just enjoy this victory tonight and worry about stopping Alaric tomorrow."

She cannot help the huff that escapes, and twirls to the bookcase, rifling through shelves. God she needs that drink. "Victory? You've just neutralised an ally." And all the books are on the floor and she still can't find a drink. She's actually proud that her voice sounds so steady, a complete opposite to her shaking thoughts.

"An ally?" His incredulity makes her frown at her own indiscretion and stop her search for alcohol. Because, really? She needs to be of sound mind and body for the territory that they have wandered into. "Let me get this straight," he says, "you are angry at me that Klaus is defeated?"

"I'm not angry, Tyler."

He scoffs.

"Well, a bit, but only because Alaric is still out there and we might need Klaus. For once in our lives, Klaus is not the problem. He might actually be useful to us, on our side."

"Caroline –" he can't even address the Klaus issue with her on the phone. He recognises her point, as much as he doesn't want to recognise it, but he can't acknowledge it. She can sense it, and dreads the in-person conversation later. He won't drop it. Not after the drawing. "Can we just forget about Alaric tonight?" he pleads.

Can we just forget about Klaus and celebrate his maybe-permanent demise? is what he should have said, she thinks.

She doesn't even understand why she is reacting this way. It is not normal, she knows that. She knows, but she can't stop recoiling.

She sighs, "No, you're right. Of course we should." That's how she should react, right? That's how a normal person reacts when a murderer, who has just tried to kill her best friend, has been defeated. Right?

Is this part of her humanity wavering? Because, really, the only thing that she can focus on now is that Klaus could be gone forever.

No more dances or long, slow looks, or entirely inappropriate gifts that make her feel like the princess she always wanted to be. No softness reserved only for her.

But he's not dead, and some niggling half-formed thought suggests that it could be reversed. It could, hypothetically, couldn't it? He could be woken.

If he wasn't at the bottom of the Atlantic.

Oh my God, she is a horrible person.

"I'm coming over," he says.

"Great," she murmurs, and tries to sound a bit more enthusiastic. Except, doesn't she sound a bit psychotic? "I miss you Tyler." And she does. He's been away for so long that she can't stay angry, especially when that anger is inappropriate.

He sighs as well. He cannot resist that soft tone. "I love you, Caroline." He pauses, "This Klaus thing? It will turn out fine. Trust me, Caroline. We'll take down Alaric and we certainly don't need him."

And just like that her horror is back, creeping over her slowly, sinking her like quicksand.

"I'm on my way over," he insists again, and she's wondering, why he is saying this again? Why is it so important? But, then, she was tortured right? Even though he didn't really say it, Tyler must be worried. He would be. Or maybe he had been, but she had latched on to the news about Klaus like a vice.

She is relieved, as always, to have Tyler near, so she insists as well, a startled "yes," like a yelp. Soon she wouldn't be able to breathe at all. He asks if she is alright.

No, she's not. She can't be yet. She still feels his hand pressed against her mouth.

It's me, it's okay. You're safe.

She's about as far from okay as you can get. Or safe.

She's sinking through the floor and she needs to right this ship. Even her metaphors are all mixed up, fucked up. "I'm fine, fine," she says. She needs to call Elena or Stefan or someone. They need to ... celebrate ... she chokes on the word.

That niggling thought? It's turned into a full-fledged idea, and clear on it's way to be a plan.

An eye for an eye, a life for a life, makes the world go round.

She calls Rebekah instead.

The thing about Caroline? She's impulsive. She may worry and obsess over every word and action later (because, neurotic), but she acts first. She doesn't really think about ramifications when she picks her phone back up and scrolls for Rebekah, thanking all the gods for all those horrible hours in committee together. That she even has Rebekah's number.

She just does it.

She owes him this much.

She cannot, will not, think about Elena and all her blood siphoning into bags.

It rings and rings and rings and damn it – doesn't Rebekah know that Caroline would never call her willingly?

She just cannot leave a voicemail.

Unfortunately, Kol answers – and that is so much worse than no answer at all. She may have only seen him a few times, but she'd recognise that gleeful sadistic tone anywhere. "The ever-stunning Caroline. You are living yet?"

"Is Rebekah there?"

"She might be, darling," he equivocates, probably just for the hell of it.

This is a fucking emergency, and she just doesn't have time for this. "I need to speak with her," Caroline insists, firmly if a little desperately.

"Hmmm," he considers, and she hears muffled fumbling in the background, and a "Kol, you fucking reprobate, give me the phone!"

If one of the remaining Mikaelson brothers had to answer, why could it have not been Elijah?

Another fumble, and a crack and a thump, and Caroline suspects that Rebekah has either broken Kol's neck or skull. Or at least she hopes it is Rebekah and not Kol the victor. She doesn't know how to handle that brother at all. She needs an Original, but she doesn't know if she can trust Kol with this completely. He is, quite possibly, the most insane one of the family.

She can trust Rebekah with this. Even if her methods are horrific, she will find Klaus. Caroline knows this implicitly. Rebekah is nothing if not loyal to her family and she loves Klaus more than anything in this world.

"Right," Rebekah says. Caroline hears her fumbling with the phone and threatening Kol with a table leg. "I am moderately pleased to hear that you escaped Alaric Saltzman, but you really didn't have to call, Caroline."

Caroline rolls her eyes. "I didn't call to commiserate over our mutual close call, Rebekah. We have a much bigger problem. It's Klaus."

Rebekah huffs. "I may be annoyed with my brother, Caroline, but I am not teaming up against him … again."

"Pleased to hear it, but Klaus actually isn't the problem. He's in trouble."

"Right. As if I'd believe you. How many times exactly have you tried to kill me or my brothers?"

"Jesus Christ, Rebekah. I don't have time to argue. Klaus really is in trouble and he could be spending the rest of eternity at the bottom of the Atlantic or he could be staked by Alaric very soon."

"What?" The commotion on Rebekah's end stills to an eery silence. Kol must be listening as well. "Caroline, you must be mistaken. Nik is leaving town. He just had to run a few errands."

"Well, one of those errands was the attempted abduction of Elena. Damon and Stefan caught up with him."

"What do you mean?"

"Klaus went after Elena and ended up dessicated instead of Alaric," she clarifies, "the same spell that was used on Mikael."

"Okay, okay," Rebekah's voice wavers just a little. "And they plan to drop him in the Atlantic, I take it?"


"Why are you telling us this, Caroline?" Kol interrupts. His serious voice scares Caroline more than Klaus's ever had. It has a peculiar chilling effect that she can feel inside her bones, and as irrational as it seems, he feels like the most dangerous Original of all. At least to her. But she is glad to have him on her side this time – in a manner of speaking.

"I don't know, okay? I just – this can't happen." Some part of her recognises that this can't ever happen.

"How do we know that we can trust you?" he says.

"I'm telling you this, aren't I? Going against my friends for this."

"See, darling, that is what I find most troubling. Why would you do such an immeasurably bold thing? For my brother?"

Oh God, she does not need this conversation now. "Look, grill me all you want later, but we need to do something now."

"Kol, shut up." Caroline has never felt so grateful to hear Rebekah's voice again. "Caroline, if you are setting us up for some nefarious Salvatore plan, I will hunt you down and everyone you love and rip their intestines out in front of you."

"Duly noted." She is definitely Klaus's sister.

"Right then, we've got a rescue to plan," Rebekah says.

When Tyler shows up, she has already downed half a dozen gulps of vodka and planned her party. Pizzas, chocolate, chips, and cheese – all on their way to the Gilbert house for a night of victory (and betrayal) and general sticking one's head in the sand. She feels better, steadier, and slightly proud of herself for going rogue. Caroline Forbes, rogue vampire saviour, that's her.

They'll all realise that it was for the best, when they are all still not dead.

Tyler takes the bottle from her for a swig. "Celebrating without me?" he smirks and draws her near.

The vodka also restored some anger, so she scoffs. Of course he says the wrong thing. He is Tyler fucking Lockwood. She is just a bit unreasonable, considering, but shouldn't he have asked about her? Hello, she was tortured. Or is everyone too used to that scenario already? Phone concern does not entirely count.

As always, his expression softens and he redeems himself. He cradles her face in his hands and murmurs that he loves her, that he needs her, and she swallows the anger and guilt. He broke the Sire bond for her, endured hell for her. On some level, she's still dancing with Klaus, and hiding things.

Even if it was for their own good.

So, she kisses him to swallow all that down completely, and closes her eyes against Tyler's triumphant expression. She just can't be triumphant.

She just can't think of Klaus veiny and grey and dessicated. She just can't.

He's Klaus and he's saved her so many times. Shouldn't that count for something? Even when Tyler holds her, shouldn't that count for something?

Still, she presses against Tyler, before the anger threatens to shoot up again. She opens her mouth to his urging, but freezes at his touch. Those hands, they held him back and vulnerable as the greying rushed over, cold like death should be, veins creeping over, dessicating, paralysing. It's just not right. She could almost feel it too, death in Tyler's hands and kiss like poison. Like she's dessicating too.