A/N: I'm fairly new to tVD, but who wouldn't be in love with Tyler and Caroline? This is a short piece set during Masquerade.

the beginning of all knowledge

He's burning. It catches him as fast as gasoline igniting, sharp and acrid and out of control and it's like he can feel every cell in his body wrench itself loose and then come crashing back into place at a ninety-degree angle. And then as quickly as it started, it cuts out and he thinks he's going to drop, only there's something in front of him to focus on. Caroline. Blue eyes wide with fear and shock and pity and she's there, reaching for him, tucking her body under his shoulder and half-dragging him to a chair and then kneeling beside him, chafing his hands.

The room, it's too bright and noisy (it takes him a long time to understand the rushing noise is his own heartbeat drumming in his ears) and it hurts. He can smell her shampoo and the booze Matt spilled out all over the Aubusson carpet (he thinks fleetingly that his mother is going to be pissed, and it almost makes him laugh but he clamps down on that because if he starts, he isn't going to be able to stop.) He can smell the tang of blood and hand shaking, he touches his shoulder and brings it back wet and red.

Her fingers tighten around his, and his knuckles crack. It should hurt more than it does. And then he blinks because his eyes must be going all wrong and she's suddenly on the other side of the room.

"Tyler," she says and he winces because it's too loud and she repeats it in a voice just above a whisper. "Tyler."

He manages to nod.

"Go next door. That little room off the conservatory is empty. I'm going to take care of Matt and then I'll to explain things to your mother."

"Explain things?" His voice cracks. "How are you going to explain things, Caroline? I...I fucking..." His gaze falls to Sarah, limbs splayed out and he stares hard, willing her to open her eyes and laugh like last time. But she won't...she won't. She's dead and it's already worked through his system, and besides, oh fuck, she smells dead to him.

"Tyler," she repeats. He whips his face back up to her and she smiles encouragingly. "Tyler, just go right now. You were never here. I'm going to take care of this."

She can't, there's no taking care of this but he goes anyway, carefully skirting Sarah's body, ignoring the opposite wall where Matt lies groaning.

The room is dark and quiet and he buries his face in his arms and despite the heat coming off of him in waves, he starts to shake.

It's a while later and he pulls himself together because he has to and emerges to see the last of the guests leaving, and he doesn't have to hear them to know what they're whispering about. Mystic Falls hasn't had the best run of luck lately. Neither have the Lockwoods. The Sheriff arrives (the blue flashing light is giving him a hell of a headache) and he goes to find his mother. And Sarah.

And then there's Caroline and she's still taking charge of shit and all the differences he's been seeing in her? They're gone for the moment and it may be stupid but all he can think about is the Harvest Festival and the car wash and the Homecoming Float and any of a million other things she runs and that edge of anger that he's been trying to bury flares up again, catching him by surprise. What the hell does she think this is?

She's got no fucking idea and that's pretty much what he tells her.

He doesn't understand the expression on her face at all. It's compassion and understanding and knowledge and it scares the fuck out of him.

"Has your wound healed?" she asks quietly.

When he runs his fingers over closed skin and there's only the faintest raised line of a scar to show him he wasn't imagining shit, he realizes that apparently she does have some kind of idea.

Some wave of strong emotion washes over him when he realizes that. It's not until much, much later that he's able to identify it as relief.

A/N: Based on the prompt: "And it's true, it's you who can make this all alright." Thanks so much for reading. I'd really appreciate feedback as this is my first time writing for this pairing.