I don't own The Vampire Diaries.

The Solution

Chapter 99

Caroline stayed home at the house to make a late dinner for them while Damon drove to Brindisi's Casale Airport to pick Ric and Katherine up. He hadn't wanted to take the kids because he couldn't drive as fast with them in the car. With the kids in the car it took around 35 minutes to drive to Brindisi, but without them, Damon floored it and made it there in 20 minutes. He parked the car then went inside to the arrivals' lounge and waited. The flight was early by ten minutes, so it wasn't long before Katherine and Ric walked through the doors hand in hand each rolling a suitcase. They both grinned at the sight of Damon and gave him a hug.

"Where's your wife?" Katherine asked looking over his shoulder – she didn't even say hello which made Ric and Damon chuckle.

"She's at the house making dinner." Damon replied and they both laughed at the frown on her face. "Missed her, huh?" Damon teased.

"She's been so annoying. Every five minutes she's like, 'wonder what Caroline's up to', 'let's call Caroline'." Ric teased and Damon laughed while Katherine rolled her eyes.

"I love her. Get over it." Katherine snarked and they chuckled.

"Let's go then. She's just as excited to see you." Damon said amused and Katherine grinned then they went to the car.

"You'll need one of these in the States." Ric remarked when they got to it.

"I know. I really like it actually. It drives really smoothly and the twins are secure in it." Damon approved as they put the suitcases in. Ric sat up front with Damon and Katherine sat in the middle seat, so that she could talk to them both. They were used to Damon's crazy driving, so neither of them batted an eyelid when he put his foot down and drove at a crazy speed out of the airport. "How was the flight?" Damon asked.

"The flight to Rome was really long and there was a little turbulence over the Atlantic." Katherine sighed. "But the food was good." She said.

"The flight from Rome to Brindisi was like bouncing a ball though." Ric remarked amused and they chuckled.

Damon pulled up at the house about 25 minutes later and Ric made some geeky comment about medieval architecture which Damon laughed at and Katherine ignored because she was too busy hopping out. Caroline appeared at the door then ran over to Katherine with a grin and the two girls hugged tightly which made Ric and Damon chuckle.

"Think they love each other more than they love us." Damon quipped and Ric snickered.

"They so do." Ric agreed amused. They laughed again when Caroline pulled Katherine into the house. "We're just the bag carriers." He teased and Damon laughed.

Damon and Ric followed them into the house with a suitcase each and got in just in time to see Conrad get a look at Katherine. His face cracked into a huge grin and his arms went up almost at vampire speed.

"Katta!" He exclaimed and they chuckled fondly.

"Hi, baby! I missed you!" Katherine grinned as she picked him up and kissed him.

"Reep?" Sessily asked Katherine from her spot on the floor as she hadn't noticed him yet. They were all kind of amused that she associated Ric with Katherine already.

"There's my girl." Ric said and her little head snapped to his direction and she grinned.

"Reep!" She exclaimed and he chuckled then picked her up and smothered her with kisses which made her giggle happily.

"When are you two going to Bulgaria?" Damon inquired.

"We were thinking from the 19th to the 22nd." Caroline replied. "Katherine said that the Christmas markets are great."

"We're on baby duty." Damon grinned at Ric who grinned back and the girls giggled at the fact they looked so happy about that.

"Are you sure that it's safe?" Ric asked Damon who nodded.

"I contacted these two guys that I compelled their control while we were there and they'll pick them up from the airport and follow them just to make sure that they're safe." Damon assured.

"But how can we have tawdry hook-ups with hot Bulgarian men if you're having us followed?" Caroline teased and they all laughed loudly.

"It's not like they're going to tell me what you're up to. They're just going to make sure that you aren't attacked by vampires or dangerous humans." Damon smirked at her amused.

"Alright." Caroline nodded. "We're still good then." She winked at Katherine who giggled.

"Women." Damon shook his head in mock disapproval and they snickered. "Drink?" He asked Ric who nodded. "I'll show you the super old library. You'll be bouncing up and down again." Damon joked and the girls laughed while Ric smirked at him amused – he couldn't believe that he'd actually missed Damon.

Ric did practically bounce up and down which made Damon laugh and Caroline showed Katherine the house. Caroline had made up the bed in the nicest and largest of the four rooms that Damon had 'allocated' to them and Katherine really liked it. A short while later, the two couples were seated at the dinner table having grilled chicken stuffed with mushrooms and spices with potatoes and vegetables.

"I really love this house." Ric remarked and Damon smiled.

"So do I. I was born in this house." Damon revealed surprising Ric and Katherine.

"Was Stefan born here too?" Caroline asked.

"Mmhmm." Damon nodded. "He was actually born in the room that I told you he would stay in. I figured that he'd like that." He said.

"Aww, you're so cute sometimes." Caroline smiled and Damon snickered.

"Don't be ridiculous." Damon replied amused.

"Which room were you born in?" Caroline asked.

"Our room." Damon replied amused and she giggled.

"That's cool." Caroline smiled. "I love that you still have your first home. It's really nice that the kids will get to know this place." She said.

"I saw the olive trees. Do you ever get anyone to pick them?" Ric queried and Damon nodded.

"I have a small company that makes fresh olive oil and a couple of guys come out here every year and pick the trees to make it with. They don't get a whole lot out of it, but because it's such old land, it's hard to find olives as fresh as these ones so the oil sells really well." Damon answered.

"You don't have a vineyard anymore." Katherine noted as she'd seen a little of the land as they drove up.

"No, most of it was destroyed in a fire and I didn't live here often enough to replant everything. Vineyards take a lot of work." Damon replied. "But I like the olive grove." He added.

"I want to try one." Katherine remarked.

"A fresh olive?" Damon asked and she nodded. "Alright." He said then disappeared out of the room. He was back about twenty seconds later with a small vine that had six olives on it then he sat back down. Katherine took one off the vine and ate it and moaned in pleasure.

"Now that is one hell of a good olive." She approved, so Ric and Caroline tasted it too.

"You weren't kidding." Ric said surprised. "Wow, that tastes really different to other olives."

"There aren't any chemicals used at all. Olives have been growing in that grove for hundreds of years, so it's like the land is made for it. It's difficult to find that nowadays." Damon explained.

"Don't you want one?" Caroline asked as she picked another one off the vine.

"No, go ahead." Damon encouraged and Katherine and Ric ate the last two.

"Did Stefan tell you about Rebekah?" Katherine asked Caroline.

"I know that they've been on two dates already. Is that what you mean?" Caroline asked and Katherine nodded.

"Blondie gave her blessing." Damon teased and Caroline rolled her eyes while Ric and Katherine looked surprised.

"Is that what he was waiting for?" Ric chuckled.

"He didn't want Caroline to be mad at him." Damon remarked amused with a nod.

"What about Hilda?" Ric asked.

"She's coming to visit at the end of January, I think." Damon replied. "What do you want to do tomorrow?" He asked Ric and Katherine.

"I've only been in Rome, Venice and Florence, so anything would be great." Ric replied.

"Want to go down to Taranto for the day?" Damon suggested.

"Ooh, yeah, definitely." Ric nodded at the thought of such a historical city and they snickered at his expression knowing exactly what he was thinking.

"You two can go do the history stuff while we shop." Katherine said and they chuckled.

"I understand why you like the couples' vacation." Caroline teased Damon and they laughed.

"Italian shoes, Caroline." Katherine grinned and Caroline grinned back.

"Good thing that the credit card is unlimited then, huh?" Damon teased Caroline and she giggled.

"Good thing you bought a people carrier for all of our bags." Caroline winked and they all laughed.

They went to bed around midnight then got up early, had a quick breakfast then were off to Taranto for the day. Katherine and Caroline sat in the very back seat going over the small map of Taranto that they'd printed out deciding how they were going to tackle it. Damon and Ric were highly amused by them planning their shopping. When they got to the city, they split up. Damon and Ric took the kids in the stroller and walked around looking at the noteworthy outdoor sites like the famous Piazza Fontana and church of San Domenico that had been untouched for over 1000 years, while Caroline and Katherine went shopping mad. They met back at the car at 1pm, Damon and Ric laughed at all of their bags, they dumped the bags in the trunk then they went to lunch together.

After a good lunch, Caroline and Katherine went shopping again in the other direction with the twins while Damon and Ric went to the museums. Damon wasn't normally that into the historical stuff, but it was a little different this time because it was Italy. He did have a great fondness and interest when it came to anything Italian, so he went to the museums happily and made personal comments when they were relevant. He told Ric about how he saw the Ponte Girevole swing bridge being built in 1887 and Ric found it to be such a thrill hearing a first person account. Damon just really enjoyed spending time with Ric.

They met up with the girls again at just after 6pm, they went to another restaurant and had a lovely meal then at just after 9pm, Damon started to drive them home. Ric and Damon were highly amused when both Katherine and Caroline passed out in the backseat just like the twins had done five minutes into the return journey.

"They literally shopped 'til they dropped." Damon teased and Ric snickered.

"It's nice that they have each other though." Ric commented and Damon nodded.

"It is. Though, Caroline's going to freak the hell out when she finds out that Katherine might not turn back." Damon said quietly and Ric sighed.

"I know. I don't want to do that to either of them. I… just don't know if it's what I want." Ric admitted and Damon nodded.

"I know that. There's no pressure. I just hadn't expected them to get this close, you know?" Damon asked.

"I know. I really am thinking about it." Ric promised and Damon smirked.

"Stop worrying so much. There's plenty of time for that." Damon waved his hand unconcerned.

The next morning, Damon drove Caroline and Katherine to Bari airport and they flew to Sofia in Bulgaria. Caroline was kind of worried about being away from the twins for a couple of days but Damon promised her that they'd be fine and that she should try to have some fun with Katherine – that, and he assured her that she could call at any time day or night and he'd put them on the video call, so that she could see them.

They arrived into Sofia in the early afternoon and they checked into the five star Arena di Serdica hotel that Katherine had reserved for their three night stay. Caroline was especially surprised when she found out that Katherine had gotten them the VIP suite, though, she knew that Katherine had expensive taste so she figured that she shouldn't have been surprised. They'd been picked up by two vampires at the airport who were both really nice to them and promised to take them anywhere that they wanted to go. The suite had two bedrooms, so they each dumped their stuff then freshened up and left the hotel to explore Sofia.

They went to a spa then did a little shopping. After that, they went to one of Katherine's favourite restaurants, Pri Miro. They got a table then sat down and Katherine ordered them some drinks then Caroline smiled at her.

"This is your favourite restaurant in Sofia, right?" Caroline asked and Katherine nodded. "You know me, why don't you order for me." She said and Katherine grinned at her. The waitress came back and Katherine ordered them Serbian salad, butter stuffed mushrooms and thin Serbian bread to start. For the main courses, she ordered a sausage and meatball dish with a cream sauce, chicken fillet done in a specialty Belgrade sauce, smoked grilled pork ribs and smoked trout. She explained that they could share the four meals instead of each having their own and Caroline was more than up for that considering the two of them were pregnant and starving constantly. They devoured the meals and Caroline thought that it was amazing. They were stuffed full afterwards and didn't want dessert. After dinner, they went for a stroll through the city arm in arm on the way back to the hotel as it was getting late and they were pretty tired.

"Care?" Katherine asked softly as they walked.

"You okay?" Caroline smiled and Katherine nodded.

"I just wanted you to know that it means so much to me that you would come to my home with me." Katherine said sincerely and Caroline smiled.

"I love you and so far I love Bulgaria. I'll come here with you any time you want." Caroline promised and Katherine couldn't stop herself from giving her a hug.

"I love you too." Katherine said and Caroline hugged her back tightly.

Damon and Ric were also having a fabulous time. They'd spent the day driving through the tiny fishing villages along the coast, drinking and eating and spending time with the twins. As much as Damon loved Caroline with his whole heart and soul, he was thoroughly enjoying having the kids to himself. It was especially great because Ric was enjoying himself just as much.

The next day, the two vampires drove Caroline and Katherine down to another city called Dupnica. They drove past the city into the woods and Katherine directed them. A short while later, she asked them to stop then she and Caroline walked through the woods for about twenty minutes until they came to a little clearing where a very old and tiny house stood. It looked more like a shack from all of the years that had gone by. Caroline noticed that next to the house were four graves and Katherine's eyes stung.

"This is where I grew up." Katherine said softly and Caroline hugged her tightly because she knew that Klaus had murdered her family and Katherine had to bury them herself. "Thank you for coming here with me." Katherine sobbed.

"Thank you for sharing this with me." Caroline replied caringly.

That night, Damon and Ric were sitting outside in the olive grove because it was a really clear night and it was warm enough for them to drink outside.

"What are you thinking about so hard?" Damon queried seeing the serious expression on Ric's face.

"I… I want to marry Katherine." Ric said and Damon smirked.

"Isn't that a good thing? Why do you look so constipated?" Damon questioned and Ric shot him a look.

"She's Katherine, Damon. Do you really think she'd marry me?" Ric asked and Damon laughed because he couldn't help it. "What's so funny?" Ric asked confused by his loud laughter.

"You do know that Katerina thinks the sun rises and sets because of you, right?" Damon teased and Ric looked surprised.

"What do you mean?" Ric asked.

"She loves you so much. Of course she'd marry you." Damon replied and Ric smiled.

"You think so?" Ric asked and Damon nodded.

"You going to ask her?" Damon asked.

"I want to. But what kind of ring could I get her? I want to get her something different. Not just a boring diamond solitaire, you know?" Ric asked.

"Leave it to me. I've been meaning to ask Blondie why she hardly ever wears hers anymore, so I'll just ask her in front of Katherine and find out what she likes and report back." Damon winked and Ric laughed.

"Okay." Ric replied amused.

The next day, Caroline and Katherine trolled through the Christmas markets and had a blast together. Caroline definitely wanted to go back to Bulgaria some time and Katherine was really enjoying being there with her best friend. They went out to dinner to another restaurant then had an early night because their flight back the next day was very early in the morning.

Damon and Ric took the twins to the airport to pick them up on the morning of the 22nd and they secretly couldn't wait to have their girls back – not that they told each other that. They'd had a really amazing time with each other and the children, but they were both total saps and missed the girls. They laughed when they saw that both of them had two huge suitcases each as they'd only gone with one each and they knew that there was obviously mass shopping involved.

Caroline kissed the kids and hugged them then kissed Damon deeply while Katherine hopped on Ric and kissed him like she hadn't seen him in years. They went back to the car and the girls filled Damon and Ric in on everything that they'd gotten up to and Damon and Ric did the same. Damon told Caroline that Conrad finally said Ric, but it came out 'reek', but Ric was more than happy with that.

Damon had barely dropped them home when he had to drive back out to pick-up Stefan and Liz. They'd had an over-night flight, so it had gone pretty quickly and both were excited to finally be there. Damon drove them to the house and Stefan was hit with memories and did remember the place. He was so pleased that Damon had bought it and even more so when he explained the significance of his room. Liz thought that it was sweet that Stefan would get to stay in the room that he was born in.

When they got to the house, Caroline and Katherine had prepared a late lunch and both Stefan and Liz were ecstatic to see the twins. The twins were just as happy to see them too.

"I love this place, Damon." Liz smiled at him motioning around as they ate at the table.

"It's so great." Caroline agreed.

"Are we going to get a Christmas tree?" Stefan asked and Damon rolled his eyes.

"Get one if you want but you can clean up the pine needles." Damon quipped and they laughed.

"Damon, it's the kids' first Christmas." Stefan appealed and Damon sighed.

"Fine." Damon muttered and they snickered at his expression, knowing that he didn't want them to have anything but a great first Christmas. Not that they would remember it, but Damon would…