Different, dark.

Title from Ray Lamontagne song.


try to ignore all this blood on the floor.

Caroline prefers women; blood warmer and skin softer. They quickly push their hair away from their necks and when she looks into their eyes, only for a second, she sees genuine desire. She wants to believe that it's because they're compelled, that they're all so willing. But the sadistic monstrous side of her tells her no, Caroline, they want you to kill them. They like it. So Caroline feels no remorse.

She likes the way their skin breaks quickly beneath the sharp tips of her fangs, bright, always so bright, blood gathering fast around the entry wound, her tongue slides to catch the falling drops.

Caroline likes that there's no battle. Just her, her hunger, and the women. And it's like they all line up in wait for death. And it's like she can step away from one girl and strain her eyes to see the women trailing behind her but her eyes hurt because there's so many and all they want is her, her, her. With a little bit of smeared blood and cold lifeless bodies in the end.

She thinks she'd be making someone proud.

–;

When she started her journey, she had a choice. She could either keep records like Stefan or just not give a shit who she kills like Damon. She chooses the latter, of course. Though, she doesn't know whether it's because it's about time she finally not give a damn or because if she doesn't remember the person's name, she won't be haunted by them.

She later realizes that by choosing either of the two she'd still end up with the same result. Because the faces of her victims never leave her alone; always haunting.

But the fact that she had a choice, and chose Damon's strategy, sticks out to her. Maybe she'll just chalk it up to actually just wanting to make him proud.

Because if anything, Caroline wants to impress.

–;

Men are rough and ragged, and she can taste the musky cologne they pour onto their necks when she bites into them. At least with women she smells roses and jasmine before she drains them; she smells something refreshing before the blood hits her and she can't remember her name because it's so good and sweet and savory.

Men are not easy and before she compels them they, most of them anyway, try to push her around and if there's anything she's learned in her life it's that when push comes to shove you push back and say fuck you or something equally as foul.

Caroline does not like the taste of a man's blood. She doesn't like the sounds she hears right before, doesn't like the rough skin never soft from moisturizer, doesn't like the way the body lays lifeless beneath her feet, does not like dragging them to the woods to burn.

Too much effort.

And noted, she is a psycho. Because at one point in her life, she did learn from the best.

–;

Caroline is not picky with her prey. It just has to be a girl who's pretty but won't be missed (and that's only when she's being really nice because usually it's fuck what they say, she's hungry.) Though, she does usually gravitate towards the lonely pretty girls with blonde hair – if she can snag them – who bob their head along with the music playing throughout the bar.

Those girls usually remind her of herself. And she fucking hates who she used to be, so they're easy and a little too fun to kill.

Later, when she's wiping the blood from her mouth in a hotel room mirror, the girl's face will haunt her but it'll be hers and she'll feel ugly for basically killing herself.

But no, Caroline feels no remorse, and if so – not for long, so she simply dabs at her lips as a once over and retreats to bed.

–;

Caroline learned early in this life that you take what you are given and turn it into what you want.

Caroline wants blood and money and lust and company. She does not want to be alone. So she does not stay away from others long.

She just never returns to Mystic Falls to the people who may or may not want her company. She tells herself in quiet moments that they do not want the person that she has become. She can faintly hear Elena's shaky voice calling her a monster. And she's sure it's nothing but the truth.

She usually compels someone to join her on her journey across back roads and crowded bars. Oh, and how nice it is to have someone to talk to.

Then kill. Then someone new. Talk to, kill. Talk to, kill. Until she's run out of plausible options and ends up alone and this is not what she wanted.

–;

The only man that Caroline has compelled and killed is the same man she had lazy, good sex with the whole day before. Then he got so boring that she thought of nothing to do with him except dispose of him. His blood was thin and cold and all she could think of was his face and all she could hear was the gasping sound that left his mouth when her teeth cut into his skin.

Caroline did not even finish him off, ripped his heart out instead, and wiped his blood away from her mouth with disgust.

That's when she decided to stick to warm blood and soft skin. Saved the men for sex and compelled them when she was finished.

Because if she couldn't get dinner out of killing them, then why do it at all?

–;

She's different now than from the beginning; when she was so new and almost frightened. But still, even then, she knew what she had to do. She had to get away and she had to tap into whatever was placed inside of her – this need to kill.

She wonders if the people who know of her call her a ripper. She chuckles when she thinks of how she used to joke with reformed Stefan about his ripper days.

Now, she does not know how he left them behind, relishes in how good they feel.

(No matter the loneliness and haunting. Caroline perseveres.)

–;

She thinks of Damon often. It's usually just in passing when she's drinking bourbon or flitting the hair away from one girl's neck. She wonders though, in those quick instances, how he's doing.

She'd text: getting any good kills? But she tossed her phone in some river ages ago. Plus, wouldn't that make her a little too psycho obsessed. Because trust, she definitely is not.

She tells herself.

That is basically all the thought she gives Damon, though.

–;

Caroline does not know where her humanity has gone. Sometimes she wakes up from fits of nightmares where there's a human form of herself shouting in a repulsed voice, disgusted. Caroline, what are you doing? She'll ask herself covered in blood and a daze of glistening eyes. She never responds, though, just buries her head in the neck of a pretty brunette oddly resembling Elena. Pretty Caroline in a white dress with shining lights behind her gets her answer though. Blood falling from her chin Caroline does not know. But she enjoys what she's doing too much to go back now.

She wakes up and remembers that she is not human and never will be again, therefore she does not need to worry about trivial things such as nightmares.

Caroline cares, she does. Just about different things, entirely.

–;

She does not know how he finds her. One minute she's licking a trail of blood off a pretty redhead's neck in a bar full of compelled hopefuls. And the next she hears his unmistakeable, snarky voice, "What, you're into girls now?" And he's sitting beside her at the bar in a second with a teasing look on his face. "I always pegged you as the type. You and Sabrina were very fond of sleepovers if I do recall correctly."

She pulls back from the redhead's neck and, she can't help the wide eyes, looks at him. She swipes at the blood at the corner of her mouth and does not fight the temptation to lick away the blood from her fingers. After the sudden shock of oh god, he found me wears off, she rolls her eyes. "Can I help you with something? Needing advice on how to get back into the game? Tea parties with Elena and Stefan just not cutting it anymore?"

"Oh, god, shut up, Blondie", he says with a look of disdain on his face before swallowing bourbon. "You're still the annoying twit you were last time I saw you. I mean move on already."

She pushes the redhead away, suddenly bored with her, and coming to the realization that unless she and Damon share the girl, she won't be getting back to dinner anytime soon.

She props her elbow on the bar and rests her palm against her cheek. "Damon, Damon, Damon. How I've missed your Civil War aged angst." She drinks from her glass of bourbon. "Now, I'm bored. What do you want?"

"What I want? Oh, Blondie, you don't want to know what I want." He says defiantly. And she's now even sure what he's trying to get at with that statement, but she plays along.

"Oh, but I do, Damon." She leans toward him, lets her arm fall limp in the space between them, and narrows her eyes and purses her lips perfectly, "I really do." She doesn't think he even knows what he wants, not particularly. And she doesn't even care, not really.

"I want the redhead. You can have the brunette," he says suddenly; contemplates the idea for a moment. "Yeah, that's what I want." He smirks.

She thinks good, she's willing to bargain.

Later, when they've both finished (Damon compelled the redhead to forget everything and sent her on her way, Caroline just drank the brunette dry), Damon sighs and wipes drying blood off the corner of her mouth. "Didn't think you had it in you, Blondie."

She chuckles, "I'm not the same girl you feigned falling in love with all that time ago, Salvatore."

He looks her up and down. "You sure aren't", he says like more of an afterthought.

–;

They're outside the bar. The night air of Tennessee hitting cold against both of them. When Caroline walks she swings her hands back and forth, Damon with his hands stuffed into the pockets of his leather jacket.

"You didn't kill the redhead." She stops walking and turns to him.

His eyes scan their surroundings and he moves his hands, still in his pockets, out to his side as if to ask what. "Where's this coming from?"

"You didn't kill her." She honestly just stares at him. "Why not?"

He sighs and steps back until his head knocks against the wood of the building, closes his eyes.

"Damon," she starts.

"Shut up. Just- shut up. Be quiet for a minute," he says without opening his eyes, but furrows his brow.

She bites down on her lip and looks around their surroundings, counts to like, nineteen in her head before she huffs and walks until she's leaning back against the bar, beside him.

He never says anything. And no part of her wonders if he doesn't say anything because what he planned on saying was so horrible. ("Because I have some decency still intact.") Though, how right he would have been.

–;

She takes him to the motel she's staying at. It's called "Ho Ho Hotel" and when they walk into the lobby there's a sign that says, "Santa Claus Slept Here!" and Caroline chuckles every time.

Damon stops and stares at it, "Seriously?" He laughs and can't help but think there's at least some seventeen year old girl left in Caroline – she's so cheesy. "Of course you'd stay at a place like this."

She laughs with him as she grabs his hand and pulls him down the hall to her room, "It's cute."

Caroline pushes the door closed behind them once they're inside and locks the latch. The room's dark and when Caroline switches on the bedside lamp Damon's already relaxing on the bed, his hands behind his head and his legs crossed at the ankle.

She smiles, only a little, but still.

–;

Caroline does not remember Damon being so good. At everything. Or maybe she does, but she was just so repulsed by it that she completely forgot it. Until now.

He's good at making her feel young again. (Granted she's always going to be young.) But a different kind of young – actually seventeen and reading Cosmo and not being a total bloodsucking vampire (though, she'll never forget that) – a good kind.

She's lying on the bed, head propped up against the headboard, reading from a magazine, Damon lying beside her, head cocked sideways, staring at the ceiling. A 60s cartoon plays quietly on television.

He rolls over, arm stretching out and falling over her stomach, crinkling the magazine. She breathes out his name – something like leave already and you're annoying. He's slumped down on the bed now, his head resting by her side. He looks up at her and she rolls her eyes when he leans up and over her, crushing the magazine between them, until his face is right in front of hers. He nudges one knee between her thighs and the other rests on the outside of her leg.

He doesn't say anything snide nor does he really try to proposition her. He just kisses her straight on the mouth. He ignores the faint tinge of blood he tastes because it's overpowered by cheery lip balm – and he knows seventeen year old Caroline is somewhere inside of there – and her soft lips.

Her hands slowly find their way to his arms, where she latches onto his biceps, knuckles turning white when he pushes his knee up closer to her center. She growls out his name when he feathers light kisses across her cheek back to her lips and kneads at the side of her breast with one hand while still supporting himself with the other.

–;

Later, when they cannot feign exhaustion anymore, and they're in bed with the sheet pulled over them lamely, Damon chuckles into her hair,"You're definitely not into girls, huh."

She smirks up at him, "No, not like that."

–;

She does not get angry with him when he tells her that she is addicted to blood. She just retorts with, "I know. Aren't you?" She could say, aren't we all?Because honestly, how else are they going to live?

"You don't have to kill innocent people." And she's starting to wonder why the fuck she even let him tag along with her. Because yes, she does.

"You used to do it. Then you went all moral on me and decided to actually have feelings of remorse and heartache and boohoo Damon. Get over it, people die." She stands with one hand on her hip.

"Yeah, but not like this." He motions to the dead bodies around them, the situation that started this whole fight. "You're supposed to have it in you to know when to stop." She's never seen the look on his face. She thinks it's something like disappointment. And yeah, of course he's been disappointed in her before, she's used to that look. But this one is different. This one makes him seem like he's better than her, like he's disgusted in her actions because not even he would do such a thing.

"But you have, Damon! You've done far worse than me, you know it. I thought you'd be okay with this, I thought at least you would understand." Her voice is only slightly shaky, because Caroline does not falter without great struggle.

"What, I'm supposed to be proud of you? You're a vampire, Caroline. Not a monster." This is not Damon. This cannot be Damon. Because she cannot even relate to this person, she's always been able to relate to Damon. He's supposed to understand, yeah, he's supposed to be proud of her. Because isn't that what she wanted in the first place?

She chuckles humorlessly, "When did those become two separate things?"

He doesn't reply, just starts dragging dead bodies to a nearby lake. He thinks it's sick that she always finds a place to dispose of them like they're nothing.

He thinks about taking her back to the basement of the boarding house and locking her up there, have Stefan walk her through the steps of being a bunny slayer again, because anything is better than this. Anything is better than being a monster.

And he knows, he's been there done that, doesn't want Caroline to do it either. Wishes he could save her.

–;

Because Caroline does not falter, she packs her and Damon's belongings before he gets back to the motel room (takes hers with her, leaves his by the door) and leaves before he has a chance to stop her, fix her, care for her, change her. She hopes it let's him know that she does not want to be followed.

Caroline is not the girl she used to be. She is not sweet, new Caroline. She is not.

She is hungry though. And she's almost positive she saw a pretty blonde hanging around the bar off Main, just waiting for Caroline to sink her fangs in her.

Blood warm and skin soft, Caroline enjoys her.