Title: Soft But Estranged
Rating: 15, for mature content but nothing graphic.
Disclaimer: Smith owns TVD.
Characters: Caroline, Stefan, Damon, Elena, with Stefan/Caroline, Damon/Caroline, Stefan/Caroline/Damon (OT3!), and hints of Stefan/Caroline/Damon/Elena (OT4? I'm down with that!).
Summary: Sleeping with two brothers usually makes a girl a slut. She doesn't want to know the name for a girl who sleeps with two brothers at the same time.
Notes: Title from Red Hot Chili Peppers "Breaking the Girl".
Notes2: For chasityjl, for her prompt at my Livejournal's Prompt Me fic request. It's a tad bit different than your prompt, but I got really into this one. Enjoy.
I am a man
Cut from the know
Rarely do friends
Come and then go
She was a girl
Soft but estranged
She runs, zigzagging her way through the forest in a desperate attempt to lose her pursuers. She speeds north, changes directions on a dime, and floors it with every ounce of her vampire speed towards the East. Five minutes that way and she changes again, heading south towards downtown. They wouldn't try anything there-it's a temporary solution to a much bigger problem.
She can't hear them, can't really hear anything beyond the wind in her ears and the natural sounds of the forest. But she knows they're there, somewhere close or far back, but always on her tail. The fear comes easily, drives her to run faster, to keep her focus in the middle of the dark woods by herself.
Within a mile of the edge of the woods, she finally hears them. But it's too late, because the rustling of the branches reaches her ears mere seconds before impact. She does try to move out of the way, slightly to the left in order to evade him. She only gets about halfway there and he collides into her, catching her by the shoulder. She remembers enough of her lessons to roll with it instead of resist it. She dives for the ground, grasping the hand clutching her shirt and using his own momentum to swing him far away.
He flies over her head and she springs up, ready to run again. His partner takes her by surprise, tackling her around the midsection before she can go further than a couple of feet. He slams her into the ground and her vision swims. Her body still struggles, tries to buck off her attacker, but he's stronger and quicker. Soon he's on top of her, pinning her body to the forest floor with his own while his laughter sounds in her ears.
"Not bad, Caroline."
She rolls her eyes, even though she knows he's being sincere. Her struggles stop and she gives a defeated sigh, at which point he loosens his grip. She capitalizes on it, shoving both hands into his chest and pushing. He's caught off guard and goes flying backwards. She turns over, pushes herself up from the ground, and tries to run again.
But the other has recovered and he grabs her by the waist and throws her back. She slams into a stone wall with arms that lock down on hers. The first speeds over and his hand is around her throat and he gives it a little squeeze before loosening his grip. Blue eyes dance with approval, mischief, and another emotion that she doesn't want to think about. She's currently sandwiched between both Salvatore brothers and things are a few seconds away from becoming very awkward.
"Blondie's not half bad at this," Damon says to his brother, not bothering to back up or release her throat. He continues to talk over her head, like she's not there and it makes her want to knee him in the groin. "Might be some hope for her after all."
The arms relinquish their vice-like grip and soon two cool hands are on her shoulders. She turns her head slightly to the left to see Stefan smiling at her in approval. "Well done, Caroline. For your age, that was very good."
She smiles back at him gratefully. These lessons are not something that she looks forward to, and that's before Damon decided to join them. They are good practice, but sometimes they give her nightmares about being chased through the woods with Katherine on her heels. There's something very discomforting about the monster under your bed wearing the face of your best friend.
"These lessons are doing a lot of good," Stefan says, as if reading her mind. "If we don't know how to win, we should at least know how to survive."
"God! Don't ruin it with your brooding," Damon rolls his eyes and he's still got his hands on her throat. He smirks down at her, a flash of fang entirely for the thrill of seeing her eyes widen. "It got a bit sexy, didn't it?"*
"Damon," Stefan groans and she feels her temper flare. She pushes him away none-too-gently, and he goes slowly, as if to remind her who's got the power here. She's never forgotten, can't afford to forget it, and this master-child thing that he likes to bring up when the mood strikes him really gets under her skin. She's at the point where she can tolerate him, because she doesn't have a lot of other options, but she has no patience for his games. Not anymore.
"I have to go," she speaks directly to Stefan and ignores his brother. "My mom's instituting a new curfew. Apparently wandering around the streets at two a.m. is not okay with her. Couldn't exactly tell her I was coming back from a bunny feast, so I had to take the punishment."
Damon snorts his contempt for this statement and she sets her jaw, refusing to engage with him at this point. She gives Stefan a small nod and brushes past his brother without a word.
"Must you?" she hears Stefan say with a sigh.
"Come on! It totally got sexy."
Elena breaks Stefan's heart along with her own, and it's all so fucking Romeo and Juliet (but with brains instead of raging hormones). Being a vampire has its perks, but there's a whole other side of it that asks for more than a person can give. It's certainly more than she thought she could ever give.
Her mother is blissfully compelled and sleeping it off in the Salvatore cellar. She had planned on taking her home, but with the news that Katherine's on the prowl, looking for vengeance, Caroline figures another night at chez Salvatore wouldn't be remiss.
It's been an exhausting day for everyone, but she can't sleep. Not while Stefan mourns silently below in the living room. She wanders out of the guest room at a little past midnight and heads downstairs. She's not that surprised to see Damon leaning against the wall, just shy of the entry to the living room. These Salvatore boys, as much as they fight and as screwed up as their relationship is, she doesn't think they'll ever let the other go.
"Is he ready for company yet?" she asks softly. Damon's eyes flash her way, a hint of surprise evident. She knows he doesn't think a lot of her ability to be tactful, but she's come a long way from that vapid, blonde blood bag. There's also a modicum of respect in his eyes as well, something she's become accustomed to seeing since the incident with her mother and the deputies. Elena's recount of her altercation with Mason only added to it and while it's a bit gratifying to see that Damon notices that she can have value, she's too tired to enjoy it.
She still hates him, doesn't foresee a future where she won't hate him on some deeper level, but it's tempered now with a bit of gratitude. He says he spared her mother because the sheriff is his friend, but all she knows is that she begged him not to kill her mother and he didn't. And when he didn't follow that up with some sort of twisted loophole that had him orchestrating Liz's death anyway, a part of her softened towards him. Not a huge part, but a part nonetheless.
"He's stopped crying, I hope," Damon shrugs, trying to cover his discomfort at the idea of his brother hurting and failing. "He's just sulking now."
She gives him a grave look, searching for any indication that she should include him on this. He looks back without flinching and the normally wicked gleam in his eyes is a bit dimmed. She knows that he accepts that he had a part in this, and she's almost proud of him for not crowing about it. Damon's feelings for Elena are the worst kept town secret ever and honestly, she was expecting something a bit classless from him. But he's surprised her, and in a good way for a change.
"You get the bottle," she finally says. "I'll get the glasses."
He snorts at her order. "I'll get the bottles."
She rolls her eyes and moves past him into the living room. Stefan is on the floor in front of the fireplace, watching the flames with a dull look that she hates seeing on him. She feels Damon on her heels, collects the glasses from the bar and hears him grab several bottles of liquid fortification. They settle onto the floor as well, Caroline in between the brothers, and she doles out glasses while Damon cracks open a bottle of Jack Daniels.
"Don't you usually drink only the snobbiest brand of scotch?" she asks as she forces a glass into Stefan's hands.
Damon shrugs, pours himself a full glass and passes the bottle to her. "It's been a dirty, Jack Daniels kind of day."
She's in agreement and turns to fill Stefan's glass. He's looking at her with unseeing eyes and she fills his glass right to the top. "Finish it," she instructs sternly, softening the command with a small smile. "We'll talk when we're drunk."
"Blondie is so wise," Damon declares from her right and Stefan shakes his head, a wobbling of his lips indicated that a smile wants to emerge. She smiles again, puts a finger on the bottom of the glass and pushes it upwards. He gives her a look that is part gratitude, but mostly heartbreak, and then drinks. She turns her attention to her own glass and again fills it to capacity.
The Jack Daniels disappears quickly. They have a high tolerance for alcohol, but sharing a bottle three ways is not enough to get them anywhere near where they want to be. Damon happily produces a large bottle of Black Label that also goes the way of the JD. When the Blue Label is opened she realizes that Damon had been easing them into the hard drinking. The Blue Label goes slower and her words are slurring despite her best attempts to correct them. Damon is laid out on the ground, his head in her lap for reasons she doesn't understand, but the alcohol makes sure she doesn't complain. Stefan has been quiet, gazing mournfully at his surroundings the entire night. He breaks his silence only once, and that's to sigh.
It's enough for her. "You'll be back together before you know it," she assures him, her hand sloppily patting his shoulder. "It's not possible for you two to be apart for very long."
This time he does smile, eyes glassy with liquor and the threat of more tears. "You feel like that about you and Matt?"
"Oh no," she shakes her head, a bit too vehemently and she has to hold very still for the room to stop spinning. "Me and Matt are over-he'll never want me like this. I don't really want me like this. But you and Elena are different. You two-you're epic!"
He frowns, like she's speaking some foreign language. "Why aren't you and Matt epic?"
"Because," she replies, and then laughs. Stefan looks at her in confusion and even Damon's frowning at this point. She shakes her head and gives them both a look. "Come on, guys. It's me-I'll never have epic."
"That is a horrible thing to say Blondie," Damon tells her in a very matter of fact way.
Stefan says nothing, but she suddenly finds herself in a hug that screams drunken condolence. It's a bit awkward with Stefan wrapped around her top while Damon refuses to give up his place in her lap. She feels Damon's hands in her hair and she tries to pull back from Stefan to give him a WTF look ('that's What-The-Fuck' he told her sometime last week, like she isn't hip to the lingo of her own friggin' generation), but Stefan won't let go.
"Stefan," she whines, pulling back from the hug as much as she can. She tries to open her mouth for further whining, but very quickly finds her lips covered with Stefan's own. The scotch has left her slightly off her game, so she kisses back almost instinctively. But her brain clicks and stutters and an image of Elena is suddenly at the forefront. She understands the wrongness of it and pulls back with a gasp.
Stefan looks at her with a wounded expression and Damon's head is no longer resting in her lap. The elder Salvatore is now upright and directly behind her, his arm snaking around her waist and his chest pressed firmly against her back. His lips are soon on her neck and she can't quite process what's happening when Stefan starts in on the other side of her neck.
"Wait-I . . ." she struggles to find the words, her confusion battling with tingling caused by the press on lips over her pulse point. "This can't-what are you doing?"
They stop, pull back, and share a look. It's a deep look, an entire conversation within a few seconds of eye contact and she feels absurdly left out for an instant. Finally Damon stirs, his fingers playing with her hair once again.
"Epically fucked up is still epic," he murmurs before grasping her chin in his hand and turning her face towards him. His blue eyes are practically afire with lust and want-it wakens memories of what he can do to her body and she shivers before she can stop herself. He gives her a smug look and then dives down to kiss her. Stefan resumes his work on her neck and everything is happening so fast that she can't tell whose hands are unbuttoning her sweater.
She pulls back from Damon, drawing in unneeded air desperately. Two pairs of hands and two sets of lips seem to run all over her body and she feels incredibly hot and entirely overwhelmed. "This is something Katherine taught you?" she manages to say in between several incoherent gasps.
The brothers still and Stefan slowly raises his head to look at her. The alcohol is still blurring the edges of her vision and she thinks this is a bad idea but doesn't really want to remember why. Stefan swipes a thumb across her lips before his hand trails down her neck and dips just inside the collar of her shirt. "It is the only lesson of hers I ever learned well," he says quite seriously. Cool fingers brush over the top of her breasts and she jumps a bit, causing Damon to chuckle against her throat.
"I'm not the one who's supposed to be here," she stutters gracelessly.
Damon bites down on an earlobe, making her moan. "If you weren't, then you wouldn't be here."
When the sun rises, she tries her best to piece together enough of her clothes to make her decent enough for her trip home. She stands in front of the fireplace, back purposefully turned on the two naked brothers lounging on the furniture behind her. Her fingers shake as she tries to wrestle her hair into something less screwed-six-ways-from-Sunday. She can feel their eyes on her, and it's like an actual physical weight on her shoulders.
Sleeping with two brothers usually makes a girl a slut. She doesn't want to know the name for a girl who sleeps with two brothers at the same time.
She swallows some panic and forces herself to think about getting her mother home and safe. She takes in a deep breath, screws up her courage, and turns around to face them. Damon's watching her with this appraising look, like his opinion of her weighs entirely on what she is about to say. Stefan is looking at her with the same amount of shame she's feeling, and it doesn't make her feel any better.
"I have to take my mom home," she informs them, keeping her tone light and carefree. "I think it would be best if we all agree that this never happened-so it didn't."
Damon snorts and gets up to head for the bar, completely at ease with his nudity. "You wouldn't believe how many times this hasn't happened before."
Stefan is no longer able to meet her gaze, and she doesn't really want him to. A response to Damon's statement is on her lips, but she finds that she doesn't have the words. Or rather, she doesn't have the courage to say them. She purses her lips together, picks up her shoes from the floor, and walks out of the room
The first time Tyler Lockwood kisses her, she feels inexplicably settled. It feels right, feels good, feels like something she is meant to do. It matters little what he is and what she is, and the impending vampire apocalypse seems less frightening when Tyler's lips are on hers.
"He's a werewolf," Damon looks about ready to blow his top, and she isn't sure what the true reason is behind it. She tells herself it has everything to do with protecting his own undead ass and nothing to do with what didn't happen two weeks ago.
"Gee, thanks for that shocking tidbit," she shakes her head and gives him the bitchiest look she can manage. "I can handle this; moreover, I want to handle this. He doesn't even know about you, so relax. Besides, it's my business."
He's in her personal space in the blink of an eye. She backpedals on instinct, her back colliding with Stefan's chest. It's all so suddenly déjà vu that she has to blink a few times to make sure she isn't back in the woods again.
Damon comes even closer; she stops him from pressing his body against hers with a hand on his chest. They all know one hand isn't enough to stop him, but he holds back. There's a swirl of emotions in his eyes, the one she can easily distinguish being anger. They're practically nose-to-nose and Stefan's got his hands on her shoulders again and really, is this how they do it? She can see how it could work so easily. Being pressed between both Salvatores is both frightening and thrilling beyond measure. How does Elena stand this and not lose her mind? It's too intense for words; too overwhelming for her continued sanity.
But she's not drunk and neither are they. She pushes Damon further back and steps away from Stefan. She looks between them, knowing that which didn't happen has ruined the balance of their former relationship. She wonders if it is a vampire thing, if once the non-existent thing is done then it's in your blood forever. It certainly feels like it, because her body remembers caresses that her mind refuses to admit she ever felt.
"This is Elena's spot," she tells them, not bothering to elaborate. "You love her."
It is meant for both of them, and for some reason it isn't enough because Damon is giving her the most amused look. "Honey, you're from us-from me," he reminds her. "Your spot is wherever I damn well want it to be."
Stefan places a restraining hand on his brother's shoulder and gives one shake of his head. None of what she has said can be denied. Nothing of what Damon said is untrue. But she doesn't want it. She doesn't want them to make her want it.
"Tyler's waiting for me," she says and then throws open their front door and races for freedom.
The last time she kisses Tyler Lockwood, his lips are cooling and there's chaos all around. Broken glass and other debris line the city streets and it feels like the whole damn town is on fire.
She hopes it burns to the ground.
She swallows her tears, closes his eyes, and presses light kisses on his closed lids. She lowers him to the ground, ignoring the screams and shouts all around her. He looks so young, lying there, covered in his own blood. A sob escapes her before she can squash it and she presses her lips against his desperately hoping to revive him with a kiss from one who truly loves him.
He doesn't wake up.
Ten years since the last time she saw him, Stefan Salvatore is waiting on her couch when she comes home from work. He's watching TV, his feet propped up on her coffee table, and a warm smile of welcome for when she walks into her apartment.
"How was work?" he asks, like this is a routine of theirs. She narrows her eyes and wordlessly turns, taking off her coat and hanging it on the coat rack. She takes out the remains of her lunch and tosses them into her sink. She wanders to and fro in her kitchen, carrying out mundane chores while her brain tries to figure out the appropriate response to this situation. It keeps settling on throwing Stefan out her window and watching him fall the twenty stories to the street. She figures that this is slightly over-the-top and really, none of it was his fault.
"Do you enjoy it?" he continues to ask, pressing for information about her managerial position at the downtown Gap store as if it were something he was genuinely curious about. She bites her lip, takes her time walking from her kitchen and over to her living room. She settles on the armchair beside the couch he sat upon and draws in a deep breath.
"Where's Elena?" she asks, too scared to ask after his brother.
Stefan sighs and leans back against the couch. He gives her a look that is all resigned affection and it makes her skin itch. He can undo her with a look, remembers how to from their time together so many years ago. "She needs some space, apparently."
"What did you do?"
"Nothing I did," Stefan pauses and rubs his hands together in obvious nervousness. "Do you know about Bonnie and Jeremy?"
She nods and wills her heart not to crack. "They're getting married."
He looks shocked. "They told you?"
"They emailed me," she shrugs. "Well, Bonnie emailed me. She wanted me to know, and to ask me not to come."
Stefan hangs his head, that old shame and regret clinging to him like a second skin. "They didn't even tell Elena," he reveals. "It broke her heart."
Caroline puts an elbow on the armrest and balances her chin on her open palm. "They have a right to be angry," she finally says, her tone defeated. "Let them have their day, without a hint of us."
Stefan gives her a piercing look. "They weren't the only ones to lose that night."
A fleeting pang of the heart and a quick flash of brown eyes and feral grin. "They weren't."
They fall into a silence, whatever sporting event Stefan had been watching filling the air. She watches him closely, sees how he fidgets in her presence. She licks suddenly dry lips and gets to her feet. "I'm going to take a shower," she announces. "Blood's in the fridge, don't order porn, and you can have the couch."
He nods like he agrees and she knows that it means little. She's barely been in bed an hour before he slips under the covers, his hand gliding across her torso and up towards her breasts. She turns, not sure if she wants to scold him or kiss him senseless. He makes the choice for her, capturing her lips in a heated kiss that almost makes her remember what it was like when her heart raced in reality and not just in her imagination.
He stays for three weeks. She doesn't kiss him goodbye when he leaves.
Damon is a more constant presence in her life. Constant, but inconsistent, because she never knows when she'll see him. It doesn't matter if she's changed jobs, changed apartments, changed cities, or even changed continents-he always finds her.
"You're of me-do you think you're ever really free of me?"
He comes at times for company, for reminiscing about the very things she wants to forget. He comes when he's bored and he drags her from club to club, city to city, until even that gets old. Sometimes he comes just for sex-most of those times she kicks him out of her home and tells him to find a hooker. Other times, she's lonely enough to want someone close by-and he's happy to oblige.
Mostly, he comes to check up on her. She knows what he's doing, and it makes her life complicated because she has to reassess her opinion of him almost daily. He's still the bastard that used her for blood and sex against her will, but he's also different. Softer and less whole than ever before-Katherine had taken some part of him with her that night. He often asserts that she died too quickly, but it doesn't cover the pain of her loss. For better or worse, Katherine made him, and she understands unwilling affection for your maker better than she likes.
She can't ever love him-not really. And he doesn't want her to, but he wants something from her that she can't even begin to guess at. He's still too hung up on Elena to ever love her, or love her in a way that is at all comparable. She still misses Tyler with such power that it can force her awake in the dead of the night, already in the middle of a crying fit.
One day, thirty odd years since she left her hometown burning to the ground, he shows up on her doorstep. She expects him to say something smug, something suggestive and maddening. But his trademark smirk is absent and she only ever remembers him looking this serious once before.
"Liz is dead," is not entirely unexpected. The packed bag and tickets home are.
She watches her mother's funeral from the shadows, his hand clutching hers tightly. She cries and weeps and mourns a mother who never knew how much her daughter loved her. He gathers her in his arms, murmurs that he understands, and that night in the hotel, brushes away her tears with soft kisses. She is grateful, she is appreciative; her heart softens just a bit more.
But she still hates him, a little bit.
She sees Elena only once in fifty years. Her former friend is so deeply scarred by what happened that in the first five years out of Mystic Falls, her bouts of clarity are sometimes more welcome than fresh blood. She doesn't know how many phone conversations she has with a disturbed Elena, one who can't tell what day it is, what year it is, and can't remember why she feels so hungry all the time.
It years after Stefan's unannounced visit and she comes home to a new apartment with a different intruder than before.
"He told me," Elena greets her, eyes raking over her stewardess outfit without a hint of interest. "He told me all about it."
She knows what the 'it' is. She can think of nothing to say, so she stands awkwardly in her own front hall, waiting for the axe to fall.
"Why did you stop?" Elena surprises her, her brown eyes not angry, but genuinely curious. "How could you stop?"
She shakes her head, takes longer to answer than she should, and has nothing of substance to offer at the end. "It was wrong."
Elena frowns. "It never feels wrong to me."
"That's because it was always supposed to be you," she shrugs, uncomfortable with where this is going. "I was one of many starter girls."
Elena has her hands cupping Caroline's cheeks within a second of stirring. She waits as delicate pale fingers trail over her face, brushing back hair and skimming over red lips. "You are so much more to us than you think," Elena whispers.
It is the first time Caroline is ever kissed by a girl. It wounds almost as much as it heals.
"Not yet," she protests, pulling back before she is lost.
Elena looks at her with sad eyes. "Just because you have forever, doesn't mean you should take forever. We are the only things that will never change for each other. Sometimes, it's like there's a hole at the heart of it, the heart of us. Damon traces the outlines of it and says you would fit right in. He's not wrong."
Another kiss, this one more urgent than the last. "Love is love-we need it more than most. And you were always part of this story, whether or not you felt like you were headlining it."
Elena is still too beautiful for this world.
One day, she will be the one waiting on the couch with a smile and a joke. One day, she will smirk at their shocked faces, push her way into their homes, and have them fall over her. One day she will fill that hole in the world that is them-but it doesn't need to be now.
The fifty years she has are marked by their appearances, but they are not overwhelmed by them. In fifty years, she is who she is, feels the pain she wants to feel, and learns truths that she never knew were hidden from her in the first place. She tests her own limits, immensely pleased to see how far they stretch. She indulges in independence, on being on her own and never really needing anyone. She revels in the chance to see humanity in all its glory and shame, to see the flaws as well as the perfections.
She mourns the loss of a boy that was perhaps the only person who ever loved her for her flaws, not in spite of them. She grieves for a home and family that she left behind to crumble because she wasn't strong enough to face them. She encounters things that frighten her and delight her, takes the time to remember how to smile without it feeling like a betrayal. Fifty years and she sees this life as her life and not her punishment. Fifty years, and she finds that she is no longer who she was, and yet more that girl than ever. Fifty years to learn how to let those who loved her love her.
Fifty years, and she's ready.
*Best Anya quote of all time!