It is exactly 156 years, 9 months, 2 weeks, 5 days, 11 hours, 13 minutes and 7(8, 9, 10) seconds after they defeated the bastard hybrid, Klaus, and she(and the Salvatore brothers) vanish from Mystic Falls, Virginia, never to return until they've long been forgotten.
Stefan tells her that it gets easier as the world moves around them, it gets less and less painful to build a life and leave it. He tells her that they are like living journals, even as he writes his thoughts in a different journal every six months or so. He tells her that it helps to organize his thoughts, rather than having them bounce around his head until he cracks.
It's important not to crack when you're a vampire that's been around for a while, he makes sure to tell her.
Her first journal(and every one after that) is a powder green, leather-bound thing, stamped with some sort of pattern(this is the only thing that changes over time), that can fit easily into a purse or bag. Stefan tells her that she can store them in one of the rooms at the Boarding House, if she'd like, when(if) they return to Mystic Falls. He tells her she can have the room since she won't have any relatives to depend on.
She leaves with Damon a week after Stefan tells her this, choosing to live it up with the bad boy rather than spend her time depressed about something she has no control over.
They make their way through the States, Europe, Asia. Damon takes her to Paris one time, leading her along all the romantic venues and playing along so wonderfully she almost believes it despite knowing that he still carries a smoking torch for a woman that he can never have.
Her skin still burns from the touch of an unwilling traitor and she can still feel his poison running through her veins.
Ninety years after she leaves(which is thirty years after Damon leaves her with nothing but an apologetic note on the pillow next to her head), she finds Stefan again in Chicago and decides to relax for a few years, laying low, but that gets boring after twenty years or so.
Ten years later, she expresses her longing for home and Stefan tells her to wait. It's too soon for them to return quite yet.
Caroline has a tantrum then, throwing things across the apartment and yelling that she wants to go home! She wants to see Bonnie's children and visit her mother and Matt and god damn you Stefan just because you don't want to accept that Elena's moved on and died-
Caroline knows that she's crossed a line that she can quite possibly never uncross when Stefan winces away from her and leaves the room.
She leaves the next day without saying goodbye.
Twenty years afterwards, she runs into Elijah again and they spend time travelling with intent.
Elijah is a gentle soul in Caroline's opinion, one who does not like to use violence or anger, but will if necessary, in self defense or to protect someone he loves. She only discovers this because he manages to dissuade Rebekah from ripping Caroline's head off when they meet by accident in Beijing.
Caroline is clinging desperately to Elijah when he finally gets her back to their current residence and she tearfully begs him to save her.
He is gone sixteen years after having fallen in bed with her that night and she lays in the silk sheets, white curtains blowing gently in the morning breeze, when she decides that it's time to go home.
She gets waylaid in Spain for a few months before she actually can make it back to the States and then, despite what her heart wants, her mind is afraid to face the truth so she spends nearly three weeks schlepping around just outside of Mystic Falls before she can bring herself to actually set foot inside the town lines.
She arrives at dawn and visits the Boarding House, heart falling into her stomach when she steps over the threshold with no resistance. She wanders the mansion for hours before finally choosing a room and tossing herself beneath the covers to sleep for a few more hours, waking just before noon.
She rolls over and shakes her head at her stubbornness. She's Caroline Forbes, after all! She is wonder woman! She is better than this!
But, she thinks, the past shouldn't be so daunting.
She manages to throw herself together and make her way into town, stepping inside the Mystic Grill and breathing deeply.
Her eyes pop open when a familiar scent tickles her nose and another that is vaguely familiar but she can't quite place it. She makes her way up to the bar and sits, taking in the company inside the grill as she walks through it.
(She keeps waiting for Matt to appear from behind the swinging door that leads to the kitchen and grin at her, flipping his pad open to take her order as he approaches.)
She is just compelling the bartender to serve her when a surprised voice calls her name and she spins on the stool, trying to keep her vampire side in check, only to see a face she never thought she'd see again. Not in a million years.
"Jeremy?" she shrieks in a mixture of shock and happiness. "Jeremy Gilbert?"
"Caroline Forbes!" he howls, wrapping his sprawling arms around her tiny frame and nearly squeezing the unlife from her bones before pulling away and holding her face to his for inspection. "Nope! Still as beautiful as the day you vanished."
"Oh my god-how are you even here? I mean, now? How are you now? I mean-" she splutters, trying to understand with her superpowered brain exactly how Jeremy Gilbert is still alive. "Oh god-it's that ring isn't it? The one Ric gave you, right? It won't let you die!"
She shrieks softly in surprise when Jeremy's face changes, eyes changing color and teeth sharpening and she takes a few steps back.
"It's not the ring. Trust me, Forbes, it ain't the ring." he says, chuckling as his face slides back to normal.
"Oh, so I've been reduced to Forbes now, huh? Should I call you Gilbert instead?" she asks, sliding an arm through the crook of his elbow as he leads her to a table and they settle into the chairs, chatting amicably.
"You should probably call me Lockwood, if we're going by last names." Jeremy says with a smirk, eyes falling on something over Caroline's shoulder.
"Jer? Who's the blonde?" a voice calls and Caroline's body goes rigid.
"You're a hybrid?" Caroline hisses through her teeth, pushing herself away from the table and making for the door to the grill as fast as she can without giving herself away.
A steady hand grabs her forearm and she slides into her vampire visage as she turns and hisses through her teeth at it's owner, who drops her arm like it was on fire.
"Stay away from me!" she growls out and is gone before Tyler can fully comprehend that his best friend has just arrived back in town.
A/N: I'm unsure if I'm going to finish this or make it a one shot. For now, it is a one shot but if I get enough reviews, I may write some more chapters. I was writing this and it led to the last line and just went kaput.
Also, go check out onecoldn'tsee's Once is Never Enough! Fantastic Jyler oneshots and such!