Something is wrong.
It doesn't take a genius to figure that out.
Matt has been weirdly twitchy all night, eyes darting off in every direction that isn't her. He doesn't want to dance or hold her hand. He does all these things, of course, but she can tell he just doesn't want to.
She pouts and he doesn't notice. Which is like, red alert number one, because her pouty face is patented and has been used to her advantage on numerous occasions. It fees like every time she moves, he flinches. Every time she wants to touch, he resists.
It's hard to have a good time when it seems like her boyfriend wants to cut and run at every suggestion or initiative she takes. It doesn't help that she's on edge too. That Klaus is running around somewhere, but damn it, she's at least making the attempt of putting on a happy face to make it through the night.
For a split, terrifying second, she thinks it's because of the vampire thing that Matt is acting so funny. But that can't be right because she fixed it. He doesn't remember, and everything is good now.
Which means, he must be upset about something else. Which means, she must have screwed up again somehow.
She looks around for Stefan but can't find him in the crowd.
Sighing, she puts her head on Matt's shoulder and pretends not to notice how he tenses as she does so.
"Okay, out with it."
He escorts her to the door, which feels kind of off with the two foot buffer all the way up the walk, one he keeps once on the porch.
"It," she continues. "Whatever the problem is that has you acting like I kicked your puppy, which I would never do by the way, all night. I thought we were okay again."
"Caroline," he says, eyes finding his shoes suddenly more interesting than her.
"Tell me," she insists, hoping it doesn't sound too desperate, hands bunching into fists at her sides. "Whatever it is, I'll fix it. I can do that. I promise."
Of course her mom chooses that moment to suddenly start acting like one, opening the door with arms folded.
"Great," Caroline mutters. "Can you give us a minute please? We're kind of in the middle of something."
It's then that she notices a look exchanged between the two of them. All tension and anxiety, sprinkled with a dash of fear. A look that her mother and boyfriend should never share. A look that tells her they know something she doesn't.
A look that tells her they know.
"What's going on?" She asks, trying her damnedest to keep the tremble out of her voice.
They both say her name at the same time, eyeing her like she's a…
"No," she says, more to herself than to them. "You can't…"
She runs away before either can say anything else.
She ends up at Stefan's house because it's not as if she had a plan after running from hers. Well, other than staying away. Far, far away.
He answers on the second knock, and one curious arch of his eyebrow makes her realize she's still wearing the stupid costume, and for whatever reason that of all things is what makes her burst into tears.
"Hey," he says putting a hand on her shoulder. "Caroline, what's wrong?"
"I'm sorry," she replies between sniffles. "I know it's late but I just…"
A reassuring squeeze lets her know he doesn't mind, stepping aside to let her in the door, but the invisible barrier blocks her from entering.
"Sorry," he says with a shrug. "I'll get Elena."
"No don't," she replies stepping back. "I'm fine out here."
He steps onto the porch, closing the door behind him.
"They know," she continues, turning to stare out into the woods. "I'm not sure how, but they know about me."
Stefan steps toward her.
"My mom," she goes on, pulling in a sharp breath. "Matt."
He nods, understanding now.
"Because you saved him?"
"Yes!" she all but shouts. "He was dying Stefan, what was I supposed to do?"
He throws his hands up. "I'm not saying you did the wrong thing with that," he says. "But you could have compelled him."
"I didn't want to," she admits, wrapping her arms around herself. "He finally saw me, you know? What I am? I didn't have to lie anymore, which I never wanted to do in the first place, because I love him. I love him with all this stupid, icky heart that doesn't even beat anymore, and I want him to love me back, warts and all."
Stefan purses his lips, thinking of a response.
"Warts?" He finally says with a grin.
She rolls her eyes.
She almost starts to cry again.
"I don't know," she sighs. "I kind of told him everything, hoping he still would, but I don't-I did compel him, eventually. Because he asked me to. Because he said he didn't want to know about any of this. So I did it."
He reaches for her.
"And like an idiot, I thought everything would go back to the way it was, but he's been acting really weird for the last few days, and tonight he dropped me off and my mom was there and they just-how can he remember?"
"Vervain, maybe?" Stefan wonders aloud.
"I left that part out," she counters. "I'm not a total moron."
"Your mom was there?" He continues, hand under his chin.
"She could have-"
"No," Caroline interrupts. "She's not winning any mother of the year awards, but she wouldn't do that."
"She's on the founder's council," Stefan puts out. "And is very anti-vampire last I checked."
"It's not my fault I'm-"
"I know that," he replies. "But does she?"
"I can't go back there," she says, hugging herself tighter.
"Then don't," he offers, causing her to look swiftly back at him. "At least not tonight. I'll get Elena, she'll let you in, and we can all figure something out in the morning."
"Okay," she accepts. "That's-okay."
He starts to pivot toward the door, but she catches the crook of his elbow, spinning him back and pulling them into a hug.
Stefan smiles when she lets go.
"What was that for?"
"Duh," she says with an exasperated tilt of her head. "You're kind of my best friend."
She doesn't sleep.
The drama of the night doesn't want to stop unfolding when Elena gets it into her head that the only way to deal with Klaus is to wake Elijah up. Stefan and Damon get into a huge thing over it, Elena shouting the whole time that they promised to do things her way.
Caroline isn't sure what that means as she backpedals away from the screaming, so not in a place to mentally deal with it all.
She feels bad about it for the three hundred feet it takes to disappear from the front door into the woods, before realizing that the only one to notice her leaving would be Stefan. And that would only be after all the arguing died down, but who knows how long that would take.
It's a cold night.
She can feel the chill along her skin even though the sensation isn't as uncomfortable as it would be if she had a pulse. Each step is taken with trepidation, keeping her ears open for the sound of wild animals, despite the knowledge that she could take on anything that tried to attack her.
She wishes Bonnie were home. A place to crash and clear her head would be heaven sent right about now, but something Stefan said about Jeremy being with her, takes that idea off the table.
If only Matt were an option.
Mom is still in uniform, passed out on the kitchen table when she finally decides to go back home some time after the sun rises.
Walking around all night gave her time to think. To plan what she wanted, needed, to say that will make them understand that she's not a monster. That she doesn't hurt people, and she doesn't kill. That she's still the Caroline they know and supposedly love, and they are not allowed to be mad that someone killed her.
A half empty coffee cup rests just beyond the reach of an outstretched arm, and Caroline picks it up and places it in the sink, trying to remember all the things she wants to say.
The details of the last talk they'd had during the first big reveal, all but faded memories now. Which really sucks, because they'd gotten to a good place then, and despite knowing that, no matter what her mother said at the time, acceptance is something they would always struggle with.
Caroline wonders what her mother really knows.
She wonders if Matt told her anything or everything.
She wonders if either of them know that being a vampire was absolutely not her idea, but something done to her. She wonders if either of them would prefer it that she died that night in the car.
Pulling the chair out from opposite the table, stirs mom from her sleep, head snapping up quickly with hands reaching for her belt and gun.
"Good morning," Caroline says as sweetly as she can. "We need to talk."
The look is there again.
Tension, anxiety, and a dash of fear.
She takes a deep breath.
She can do this.