Authors Note:

Inspired by the extended promo for episode 2x20, and my own fantasies on how the Tyler/Caroline reunion should go. Hope you enjoy!

She couldn't remember where she was. The muscles in her shoulders were twitching, and her wrists ached. There was a dull pounding in her skull. Whatever she was against was cold and damp; seeping through the thin clothing she wore. She was supposed to be warm, wrapped in Matt's arms and surrounded by her big down comforter. Instead all she felt was pain. She opened her eyes, and felt them widen considerably when she saw where she was. It was some kind of cellar, and her arms were bound by thick metal chains above her head. The room was empty, but she could smell a human not too far away. She could hear a heart beating, and strained desperately against her chains. She was weak, probably due to the vervain that she knew was still pumping through her veins. She stopped trying, realizing that the only thing that she was doing was further injuring herself.

"Real smart, Care, let's get kidnapped and tortured again. Cause the last time was just so much fun," She muttered to herself sarcastically, shaking her head to move a piece of her honey colored hair from her eyes. Caroline Forbes wasn't weak anymore, not by any means. She stopped being that whiny little girl the moment that Katherine had used her as her own personal vendetta against the Salvatore brothers. The second her heart had stopped beating, she was a different girl. She was fast and strong and she was damn well not going to let herself be hurt this way again. She shook her head to clear those thoughts and tried to remember what had happened.

The last thing she remembered was Matt leading her into her room at home. She had been laughing, clutching to his shoulders to keep from falling over. He had been acting strange for about a week at that point, just kind of distant. Caroline had just brushed it off, thinking it was just an after effect of everything that they had been through, even if he couldn't remember. But, finally, he was back to normal. As was apparent by the way his arms had locked around her waist and the passion that he was emitting as he kissed her. It was almost like things were back to normal, like before. Well not completely normal, since her mind kept drifting to another kiss, one that she had experienced weeks prior on her porch. And then she had realized that they weren't alone in her room. She turned to explain to her mother that they had no intentions at all of having sex (which was blatantly a lie) and then felt a sharp pinch in her neck. Her eyes focused briefly on Matt, on the look on his face and then everything went blank. What bothered her now, more than anything, was that look. Matt didn't look surprised, or angry, or protective. His was the kind of look you have when you know someone is going to die and you've accepted it.

Matt did this to her.

The reality shocked her to her core. She began shaking and pulled on her chains again. She was not cry-baby Caroline anymore. She did not let men treat her like crap. Not anymore. She'd vowed at eight years old never to end up like her mother, knocked up and alone. And she'd vowed the minute that she was changed that she would never let a man treat her the way that Damon had. She was worth more than all of that. Hell, that was the reason she had freaked out on Tyler. And now the one guy, the only guy, she believed would never hurt her had done just that. Matt knew what she was and he wasn't okay with it.

Caroline had been living in this delusional world, thinking that everyone had stories as romantic as Elena Gilbert and Stefan Salvatore. But that wasn't the reality; the reality was that people didn't accept blood sucking monsters into their lives. They didn't think that was a healthy relationship, apparently.

She heard movement, and felt the panic hit her. She was unprotected, she was useless, and if Matt really wanted to kill her, he could. The tears that had been filling her eyes since she realized it was him finally started to break through the moment he appeared. He was caring a gun, and behind him followed an older woman. Caroline honestly believed that if her heart wasn't already frozen it would have stopped beating at the sight of her mother.

"Oh, Mommy," Her voice cracked, and her whole body shook violently. Matt seemed irrelevant after learning that it was her mother who had orchestrated the whole thing. But in thinking about it, Caroline wasn't all that surprised. Matt wasn't stupid, but he wasn't smart enough to come up with a plan quite like this.

"Don't call me that," Her mother's voice dripped with venom, and Caroline flinched.

"Mom, it's me. It's still me. Please don't do this," Her eyes flicked to Matt, who was holding the gun point blank to Caroline's chest. She would bet all the money in the world that it was loaded with wooden bullets. Her mother stepped forward, pulling a large needle from her bag. She stepped to Caroline, shoving it into her exposed flesh. The blonde felt the vervain move through her blood like liquid fire, and felt her head fall back. She was awake and her eyes were open, but she couldn't do anything to protect herself.

"I don't know how I was so stupid for so long. Damon Salvatore? It all makes sense. And now you, just look at yourself. You've been acting strange for months, and I should have known. I guess I just didn't want to believe that you were dead," The elder Forbes' voice was detached, as though she had completely resigned herself to the fact that her child was dead. The eerie acceptance was what truly terrified Caroline. She began pulling on the chains again, praying that they would loosen but she was too weak. Her arms fell, useless .

"I'm not dead, I'm just different," She looked at her boyfriend, thinking for a moment that she guessed he wasn't really her boyfriend anymore. "Matt, please, don't do this. It's still me, it's still Caroline. The girl you love,"

"I could never love you," He walked forward, kicking her stomach swiftly. Her vision blurred slightly from the pain. "You monsters killed my sister, you've killed half the good people in this town and you except me to love you?" She looked up at her mom, who had turned away. Matt kicked her again, and Caroline struggled to pull away. "You're a thing, you're not even Caroline anymore. You look like her and you talk like her but you're not her,"

"You know that's not true," She whispered, looking up at him with tear filled green eyes. She had never seen hate like she did reflected back at her.

"Just do it, Matt. Just get it over with so we can bury my daughter like we should have after the accident," Her mother's voice cracked slightly at the last word, and Caroline closed her own eyes. There was no fighting, there was no persuasion. They were going to kill her and there was nothing she could do about it.

Without hesitation, she heard Matt lift his weapon. She heard the clip click into place, and braced herself for the end. In all truth, she should have been dead months ago. These last months had been a gift, a chance for her to do the things she was meant to do. A chance to say good-bye to the people that mattered; she had been able to save her failing friendship with Elena and Bonnie, and develop one with Stefan. She had forgiven Damon and truly realized for the first time just how much pain he was in. She had helped protect people, she had helped stop Katherine. She had helped Tyler; Tyler with his big brown eyes and his half smile. If nothing else, that was the victory that Caroline was most proud of, helping Tyler Lockwood realize he wasn't damned. Her mind focused on him, she waited for the bullet to hit. She heard a loud noise, but the pain never came.

"I told you to protect her, you asshole," The new voice surprised her, and she opened her eyes.

Matt had been tossed into one of the walls, and the loud noise must have been his head slamming into the stone. Her mother had her gun raised, pointed at the tall figure that was standing in front of Caroline. The figure rushed her, knocking her out swiftly before turning back to Caroline. Her eyes took in the disheveled hair, the dark eyes, the tall stature, and the look of absolute adoration that Tyler Lockwood wore on his face when he ran to her. He knelt in the dirt, drawing her bruised body into his arms. She let the tears pour out, all the betrayal and fear finally setting in. She barely noticed that Tyler had broken the chains until he lifted her into his arms.

"You came," She sobbed, clutching to him. She briefly wondered if this was really heaven, if she really had died and now she would spend eternity with him.

"I'll always be here for you. I'll never let anything happen to you, never again," And she believed him. She leaned her head against his shoulder, barely registering the light brush of his lips over her own and felt herself slip into unconsciousness, feeling safer than she ever had in her entire life.