I've Seen Your Flag On the Marble Arch
(Caroline's body burns from the inside out. She is burningburningburning.)
"Elena!" a voice calls her(Elena's) name and she is jolting awake, upright in bed, Alaric clinging to her biceps with a worried look plastered across his face.
"Ric?" she asks, confused. "What's going on?"
"You were screaming again. I thought you might hurt yourself, kicking around..." he trails off and Elena(Caroline) puts a hand to her forehead in silent prayer.
"I'm sorry I woke you." she forces out stiltedly as Ric searches her face. "I'm fine now, thank you. All better."
"You're lying." Ric deadpans, fingers growing so tight around her biceps she would have bruises later, she knew.
"I'm fucking fine, Alaric!" she snaps furiously, wrenching her arms from his grip and kicking under the covers at him until he slides to the floor with a thump and a grunt of pain.
Blood seeps from the cut where his arm caught the bedframe.
Elena throws the covers from her legs and stalks into the bathroom she shares with Jeremy, slamming the door in Alaric's face.
Caroline still sat in the imprint left by Elena's impromptu exit, Alaric's blood calling to her inner beast, and she could feel the veins spread from her eyes like they hadn't since she'd been turned.
Alaric stands slowly, shakily, and Caroline gasps silently, clasping her hands over her mouth(like he'd hear her?) when Ric stumbles almost sleepily. He grabbs the doorframe in an attempt to keep himself upright and leaves half a bloody hand print on the wall, painful against the stark white the doorframe had been painted.
He glances back at the bed and for a moment Caroline was sure he could see her and then Caroline was alone.
She discovers (after figuring that Elena was not coming out of the bathroom anytime soon) that she could move through the walls and solid things. She wonders if she was incorporeal (Big Word Of The Day!) or if everything around her was. Then she wonders if she's gone back in time or back in memory.
(It's all very Twilight Zone-ish in Caroline's mind and she can't help but glance over her shoulder, waiting for Rod Serling to appear from the shadows and narrate.)
She floats through the house, taking in the state of it after everything as it was in 2012.
Walking through to Jenna's old room, she finds it in a displaced state. There are school papers everywhere, scattered across every surface. Books that look like they date back to well before Niklaus and Rebekah, Mikael and Esther. The entire room stank of whiskey, with and underlying taint of blood and...Damon?
(She sees Damon's jacket tossed over the desk chair nearby and the smell suddenly makes sense, even if the jacket doesn't.)
Ric is busy pulling on clothes, readying himself for the day that will begin in a few hours and tugging Damon's jacket over his shoulders. Caroline giggle-snorts when the jacket is a bit tight over Alaric's frame but otherwise slides smoothly on.
(She giggle-snorts because he buries his face in the neck and breathes deeply before he leaves the room.)
"I knew it." she murmurs before she floats through the wall and into Jeremy's room, where the owner is hidden beneath a mountain of blankets.
"Jeremy, get your ass out of bed you're going to be late for school!" Elena's angry voice trickles through the door, shortly followed by a loud thump that makes Caroline jump where she stands(floats?).
"School ended last week, Elena!" Jeremy shoots back, pushing the covers back and sliding from the bed regardless, scratching his head sleepily as he makes his way down the stairs and into the kitchen, aiming for the coffee maker.
(Caroline is pulled slowly after him, fascinated by this still human Jeremy Gilbert.)
"All about the coffee." he mumbles into the mug, taking a long drag and staring out the kitchen window. He glances down at the paper on the counter where Ric had no doubt left it after fleeing the house and picked it up, reading something on the front page.
Caroline sees the date only after he hums in acknowledgement of something and tosses the paper on the table, draining his coffee cup and moving back towards the stairs.
(June 3, 2012)
Over the next two days, Caroline follows Jeremy like a hawk to the point of ignoring every one of her other friends in lieu of chasing after him.
He spends most of his time in the town square, people watching, occasionally sketching something.
She is right in front of his nose when he suddenly glances up and his eyes bug out of his head.
"Caroline?" he sputters and Caroline blinks in disbelief, unable to think of a way to explain herself even as Jeremy's eyes unfocus momentarily and he glances around in confusion. He shakes his head and gathers his things, heading towards the Grille with his head down when he runs into Tyler's stocky frame.
The pencils clatter across the ground and the sketchbook goes flying, sending bits of paper through the air like abnormally large snow flakes.
"Walk much?" Tyler snarls, kicking at Jeremy's hand as it reaches for the sketchbook nearby and Caroline shrieks even as Jeremy cuts off his own howl of pain. He draws his now broken hand into his chest like a wounded animal and whimpers, glancing up at Tyler like a stubborn child.
"Fuck you, Lockwood." Jeremy spits, attempting to stand without jostling his bad hand too much and a terrifying smirk crosses Tyler's face as he is faced with the back of Jeremy's head and he raises his hand.
"Tyler Lockwood, don't you dare!" she shrieks, her mind yelling that he can't hear here and Tyler freezes, head snapping up and his eyes dart around, looking for something.
There is a crunch and blood spurts as Tyler stumbles back, clutching his nose in surprise at Jeremy, who stands there defiantly, blood trickling over his knuckles, and Tyler growls, deep in his chest.
Jeremy, as if suddenly just sensing the very real danger that he's in, turns tail and makes it to the edge of the woods before Tyler catches up to him and he is thrown against a tree, effectively knocking the wind out of him. He slides down the trunk with a groan, the rough bark carving thin gashes in the flesh of his back as his shirt rides up on his way down.
"Let's get one thing straight, you snot-nosed crackhead: I'm stronger than you. I've always been stronger than you and I'll always be stronger than you. I'm not the person you wanna piss off." Tyler hisses, grabbing Jeremy around the throat to keep him in place and Jeremy's lip curls even as blood trickles from his nose into his mouth, staining his teeth red.
"I said it before, you hybrid bastard: Fuck. You. Fuck you!" Jeremy snaps the last bit out and spits his bloody saliva onto Tyler's face, barely making the hybrid wince.
(Caroline could see his muscles ripple beneath the surface and worried.)
Tyler wiped the spittle from his eyes and dragged Jeremy upright, pressing him further back against the tree, leaning in so that he was pressed flush against Jeremy, trapping him against the tree.
"Tell me, Gilbert: does that precious ring of yours work if someone drains you completely?" he whispers tauntingly in Jeremy's ear and Jeremy's hands fly up to scratch at Tyler's fist on his throat. Tyler's hands slide almost tenderly down to Jeremy's shoulders and she can see the purple marks beginning to bloom beneath Jeremy's skin moments before Tyler vamps out and buries his teeth in Jeremy's neck, drinking deeply.
Jeremy struggles for a bit before he starts to go slack in Tyler's arms, groaning, and the hybrid pulls back with a smirk crossing his Jeremy-Gilbert-laced lips.
"I always knew you were a sick fuck, Gilbert. This is turning you on isn't it?" Tyler spits out and it's only when Jeremy doesn't respond that the look of sheer panic crosses his features. "Gilbert? Jeremy? Jeremy?"
(Tyler's cries and Caroline's sobs fall on deaf ears as Tyler sinks to the ground with an unconscious teenager in his arms. It is then that Caroline sees that Jeremy's fingers are bare.)
Tyler takes in the situation for a moment before pulling the younger boy into his lap and tearing into his wrist.
"I'm sorry." Tyler murmurs, letting his blood drip into Jeremy's mouth, making a small noise in relief as Jeremy begins to (weakly) respond to Tyler's blood. He gulps momentarily and lets out a sigh of contentment.
(Caroline glances up and sees the outline of the full moon, unable to tear her eyes away even as she hears the sickening crack of Jeremy's neck being snapped. She vomits in the bushes nearby as Tyler holds Jeremy for what seems like hours.)
She follows him to Elena's house and he sets Jeremy down on the porch steps before he knocks gently on the door. There is a stomping and the door is ripped open.
"Wha-oh my god. Oh my god...Jeremy! Jeremy, wake up!" Elena's cries as she moves to kneel beside her brother break Caroline's heart and she watches as Elena begs Tyler to bring him into the house, the hybrid carrying the broken body up the stairs and into his own room.
(She is about to follow when Elena's shrieks of rage ring through the house and Tyler zooms by before she can comprehend anything at all.)
Caroline floats into the house as Elena runs out the front door, jerking to a halt as she looked around wildly. (As if she could have stopped Tyler by herself.)
She floats up the stairs, down the hall, into Jeremy's room through the closed door and she floats to sit on the bed beside Jeremy's still form.
(The door slams shut downstairs and Caroline can hear Elena grappling with the house phone, dialing numbers. She has a short conversation that Caroline chooses not to hear before walking through the downstairs.)
Very suddenly, Caroline smells blood. Rich, sweet, tangy, doppelganger blood and, shortly, Elena enters the room.
She comes bearing a coffee mug full of blood and Caroline can't tear her eyes away from the bloody gauze Elena's wrapped her hand in as the brunette sets the mug on the bedside table and sits down across from Caroline on the bed.
(Elena looks up and stares for a moment, looking right at her before she shakes her head and turns back to her brother, stroking her fingers down the side of his face before running them through his hair.)
"You'll be fine. I promise." she murmurs, laying beside him on the bed.
(Caroline watches with bated breath as Elena slips beneath the covers and falls asleep.)
The room is silent for what seems like hours when Jeremy's eyes snap open and he stares right at her once more. He looks at her actively and she is confused when his face changes from surprised to sad.
(Caroline's confused heart breaks when he finally speaks.)
"I'm sorry, Caroline. You deserved better."