disclaimer: i own very little.
dedication: for the END of this fic, yay! it's dooooooone.
warning: kind of a completely shoddily done ending with a dubious plot alteration. just go with it, even if it feels a little wrong, we'll ease into it - OH GOD NO, I SOUND LIKE A CREEPY SEX FIEND. NOT INTENTIONAL. (blame hannah, she's a bad influence). and don't be lazy, check out my other fics, please. also, bonnie is completely ooc, but screw this, she needs to just snap and flip the fuck out on damon once in a while. where was the bonnie who dealt out vamp-migranes on an hourly basis? i miss that bonnie.
notes: blegh. i literally do not care right now. i am so darn tired. and whateves. like i honestly don't understand my lyric caption choices for chapters anymore, it all used to be so much simpler.
even moar notes: cutting to the chase right now. read, and review, please. kthxbai.




So you're feeling tied up to a sense of control and make decisions that you think are your own.
You are a stranger here, why have you come?
Why have you come? Lift me higher, let me look at the sun
Look at the sun and once I hear them clearly, say
"Who, who are you really and where are you going?" I've got nothing left to prove,
Cause I've got nothing left to lose. See me there waiting for you
"Who, who are you?"



She finds a man no younger than twenty-three in a diner by a gas station somewhere far from Mystic Falls but never far enough, it always seems. Caroline marches across the gravel in her heels, breath misting in front of her in the chilled dark air, with her blood thrumming beneath her skin.

She's a terrible person. She's a terrible friend for being ready to do this, a hypocrite really. It's not like she's really going to be hurting the guy forever anyway, it's just a onetime thing. She rolls Jeremy's ring around in her pocket, the metal of it seems old and grave, like something that Gollum would ferret away. Or maybe she's been watching too many movies from the times she used to hang out with Matt.

There's a surge of guilt then when she thinks about Matt, when she spots the boy through the glass windows along the bars of the diner, looking in from the outside, numbed from the cold. Matt was just a great normal guy, and he'd probably be disappointed in her, for picking up some poor boy in Virginia and using him for this supernatural shit again.

Screw that, he'd probably never even talk to her again once he found out she'd practically backstabbed every one like a complete and total traitor.

Her phone buzzes in her pocket, Caroline knows it's Bonnie probably telling her to get a move on, so she does. Ignoring the thing and choosing instead to pull her hands out of the pockets of her leather jacket and do this thing, she doesn't want to touch the phone or the ring right now.

She takes a fortifying breath, pushes her hair back from her face and finally pulls open the door. The bell above her jingles, there aren't many people in the diner, her boots squeak against the flaking linoleum floor as she turns looking for the Not-Matt boy again.

Because he isn't Matt, he doesn't look anything like Matt. She doesn't even know why she picked him in the first place. He's gone back to wash dishes or something, Caroline's super-hearing tunes in on the sound of water rushing, of voices of the coworkers bemoaning the hour in the kitchen.

She should hurry up, a few lone truckers raise their brows at her but they mind their own business, no matter how strange it is to see a pretty seventeen year old dressed to kill at three o'clock in the morning on the highway out.

Caroline takes a booth where she still has a clear view of the kitchen area, waits for the boy. She hadn't chosen him for sentimental reasons, she rationalizes, the truckers were old men with cholesterol issues and though no one would notice them missing Caroline couldn't risk getting them legit killed in the actual procedure.

Not-Matt looks tired when he comes out, he's pale in a way that suggest to Caroline that he doesn't eat much, or can't afford it. (And in this economy who can?) He has a droll unexpectant look to his eyes, that suggests to Caroline that he can't afford to go to college either, and she's scared for Matt when it comes to that, because Matt doesn't have the liberty (and doesn't want it) of living forever to just forgo things like college. And these are probably all just half assed assumptions she's making, but Caroline likes to think she knows people, that she has an idea about them. Even when those ideas come to bite her in the ass or try to court her and make her their bride or whatever.

He comes to her table finally, and mutters some sort of customary greeting, asks what she'd like.

Caroline looks up, and she can't lie. Her hands do shake a little. He looks so damn mediocre and normal that the old part of her that still pretends she's not undead aches.

His nametag says Ryan, or Roy, Robin or something else. Caroline can't really tell, it's a blur she doesn't want to read, she doesn't want to know his name and have it haunt her for the rest of her existence. If she outlives tonight then she wants to live, not remember Roy and the way she used him.

"Ma'am," he says, dull as the pull of water up a straw. "Ma'am, what'll you have?"

Caroline looks into his eyes, and they're bluegreenbrownsomething, she thinks. She has to do this. The forks by her hand rattle on the surface of the table, she has to bundle her hands back into her lap just so she can stare at him straight and not cry, or say sorry, or beg this complete stranger to please understand why she's essentially taking apart his mind.

Instead, she says. "Hello," She feels the slow pull of her compulsion settling, like drawing blood from a vein it's so phenomenally easy to tap into a mind, it's wrong. "I can't promise that you're not going to die, but I'm going to try, alright?"

Bonnie snaps her phone shut, follows by Damon's side, tuning out his annoying monologue of snark with the clock ticking wildly in her head. The drafty storage unit is practically empty, and she really does not want to know why Damon even has a shed in here in the first place. Must be storing outdated cognac and stripper heels from the 50's.

Alaric was on the prowl and Stefan had doubled back for Elena, leaving Bonnie alone with Damon. The universe was giving her a goddamn opportunity and she was going to take it.

Damon lolled a sarcastic little smirk at her, and she sneered on reflex because it was expected in response to whatever condescending thing had rolled off his tongue. Damon bought into it.

What the hell was taking Caroline so long?

Her phone beeps and she flicks it open again, Damon stops and scowls at her, like she's wasting his super important time of whatever.

Done, it says.

"You're looking awfully distracted, mind not here?" Damon drawls, they've stopped in front of the shed, the first spark of suspicion.

Okay, she's done this before. Lie, and the rest. And she's also K.O'd Damon enough times to be conversant with doing it on a whim.

It's like they pay her or something.

"Weren't you idiots supposed to throw him into the ocean?"

"Blegh." Damon says, like it's an actual word.

"So this is it?"

"So who're you texting?"

"None of your business." She practically hisses, but then Damon's looming, getting all up in her personal space and he's not as big of an idiot as he looks. Not right now, anyway. So yeah, maybe she panics, but she's been panicking since the beginning of the year and this need to freaking end right now.

"Bon-Bon," he says low, the kind of low that normally precedes an episode of neck-snapping. "Are you going to screw this up?"

She almost laughs. That's rich. Years of rage, and being everybody's bitch just boil beneath the surface of her skin and it is so on. Because screwing things up are a Salvatore perfected trade! And all she's ever done is protect Elena, and her way is the best way and the only way to do it.

So she has no regrets whatsoever when Damon clutches his head with the migrane that would have split his brain in half if he didn't have super healing powers. Vampires, Bonnie almost rolls her eyes, pushing him against the shed wall with enough force to break his skull.

She doesn't even feel sorry. It's Damon.

"Don't call me that, you bastard."

She divests him of his phone, his wallet, and his shoes – just to make him feel a little more uncomfortable whenever he finally gets around to waking up. Besides a pretentious douche bag without his pretentious Italian leather is like a Greaser without his hair gel, she's pretty sure it constitutes as half of his power.

Bonnie drags his body into another empty shed, works quickly before he wakes. Sets up a boundary that would make the Origi-bitch proud and traps the motherfucker in there.

When Damon wakes he can shout and scream all he wants, but no one will hear him, no one will be able to contact him.

Caroline comes in with a dazed teenager halfway after Bonnie's done setting cement over Klaus's body. She hovers in the doorway, doesn't go in. "You got rid of Damon?"

"Trapped in aisle B3."

"He can't get out?" Caroline sounds apprehensive, and Bonnie can tell she's been crying. "What if Ric –"

"No one can get in, either." Bonnie clarifies, muttering latin under her breath to make the mold around Klaus's (Ugh, ew.) icky desiccated body harden. "So he's safe."

Of course, the spell weakens in time, so it's not exactly fool-proof. Alaric could get any other witch to undo it, which is why Bonnie hadn't used it as a first option when it came to locking away Klaus's body from Ric's reach.

It's done. Klaus has a really unnerving stare, it's creepy. Bonnie glares just as hard while Caroline brings the kid in. He's already wearing Jeremy's ring.

Caroline takes a deep breath and comes close to the coffin, heels abnormally loud, echoing all through Damon's storage space. Bonnie gives her credit for not jumping out of her skin when Klaus's gaze fastens on her.

"Is he going to be alright?"

"This is the first time he's wearing the ring, killing him once won't cause any personality disorders like it did with Rick. But we have to work fast."

"I'm not sure he'll even make the deal."

"It's the only option we have, Care. Better a moving target than a sitting duck, and he sure as hell knows it." She looks sorry for a moment, lips clamping together. "You'll be making the biggest sacrifice, Caroline. I wish you wouldn't have to, I wish there was another way."

"Yeah," Caroline smiles, small and faithless. "Wishes and horses and all that. Just don't think I'm a martyr or anything, Bonnie. Please?"

Caroline takes a deep breath, moves closer. She sets her hand onto Klaus's chest, it feels cold, like stone. She can't feel any human beat over there, the blood lays stale and dead in his veins, frozen cold.

"Let's do this," Bonnie determines, heaving a breath, "Let's do this our way."

The world swims up, and he can't go up with it, there's hot water on his tongue, like salt water, the acrid foam of an ocean wave. Blood, he wants to form the words but his throat's stuck, a corridor of dust. He could move, but his arms stick, the coffin sticks. He's trapped.

The irony is not lost on him, Bekah would have laughed, a smile like a bite of the moon. "How'd you like it now?"

But the gold haloing around her head, in curls that would make goldilocks green with envy lets him know this is a different kind of girl entirely. The kind of girl he can't have, she won't let him have her.

She's pale, her lips look bloodless. He could hear them talking before, the sounds coming from their lips like murmurs from another room that he couldn't possibly decipher, he can't hear Caroline yet, not until he tries to move and the heart that's just started beating in slow, retching, lurches in the most god-awful way. Tears him up from navel to throat.

She has his heart in her hand, her nails dug just so into the flesh and he tries to summon up a laugh because isn't this just dandy? Isn't this a little shred of poetic justice? She's got his heart in her hands.

"Listen," Caroline says, low, "Apparently you people have honor, and apparently if you die then we're all going to kick it as well."

She takes a shuddering breath. "You try to move and Bonnie's going to unstart your heart again and we'll throw you in the ocean like we originally planned."

That little witch, no wonder, he's bleeding out from the hot sticky cavity in his chest. She's right there up on his list next to Stefan Salvatore, right up there, and there's nothing but murder screaming through his veins, and rage, and fear – no, he would have flinched, never fear. He's not afraid.

Caroline is, her fingertips shake, he can feel it like an electric charge hooked up to the red muscle in the cage of his ribs.

That maybe terrifies him, her ability to do these things to him.

It terrifies him that she can see him in a glance and take him apart just as easily, that her eyes will always put him through a torture more violent than vervain or sunlight. She'd tear him apart as easily as he'd torn apart others.

He moves his lips, what do you want? And it hurts in the most painful way, drawing air into his throat, for the words to scrape out of his voice box, weak and no stronger than a whisper.

Caroline leans in, over his body, her hair tickles his shoulder, lays in heavy gold coils. He wants to draw his useless hands into her head and dig and dig in the most ferocious, most wanting of ways. She wrinkles her nose distastefully, pulls a lock behind her ear so his lips are just a breath from her skin. So she can catch his words better, not even vampire hearing can collect on the words of this quiet death rattle sufficiently enough.

What, his lips twitch and pull, he doesn't like this being feeble and old and with enough anger to set the world afire and not being able to. Stefan, he wants to rip his throat out, he wants to cut him up and hang him on the wall, and make Rebekah cry enough for the both of them. Do you want?

"To live," Caroline says, pitching her words so they're only for him. "To keep my friends safe."

Martyr, he accuses, as if it repulses him.

"So you know the terms?"

He doesn't make a move to say anything to that.

"Bonnie will set you free, and you can go wherever you want, run to wherever you want. All you have to do is leave Mystic Falls and never come back, you run to all those places and you make sure Ric doesn't find you." She inhales sharply through her nose, a child gearing himself to throw his very first punch. "And I'll – I'll come with you, and you leave Elena alone."

He bears his teeth, wordlessly showing exactly what he thinks of that.

"You can have your family, your real family – Elijah and Kol and Rebekah. And I'll go with you, wherever you like. Elena will marry someone, she'll have kids, she'll continue the doppelganger line. Let her die of old age, give it eighty years, because Ric expires with her. He'll die just when she does. All we need to do is wait."

Why? He doesn't have to say it, his eyes do, and it accuses again. Why?

"You saved my life once," She says simply, but she can't summon up a smile, her hands adjust around his heart and his gasp catches in his throat, lodged like a stone, "some might think that warrants me giving you an opportunity to take back yours."

He doesn't want her like this, it makes him no better than Katerina, the whore.

He'll be a warden, and she a prisoner, and she'll be miserable. She doesn't want to come with him, she never would, not in a million years.

Caroline watches his eyes like they're a spectre about to disappear between the trees outside her window. Searches them like he might vanish.

No, he could say, No, I can't.

She could never love you.

"Caroline," the witch hisses from somewhere, "Caroline, we have no time."

Caroline purses her lips, a grim line of fortitude, eyes darting to his mouth. Speaks without meeting his eyes then, it's too much of a feat for her. "I'll be with you, and I'm not much, I know. But my loyalties will be to you, and I – I can't promise you anything, Klaus, please, just. You can't die." She meets his unblinking stare again. Her face pinched white, her mouth trembles, like flower petals growing at the very precarious end of branch in a rattling wind. "You're supposed to take me places, remember?"

He wants her, more than he's ever wanted anything in his life. More than he wanted Tatia's heart, more than the lingering firelight on the slopes of Katerina's naked flesh. He wants Caroline the way he had the night he came into her room, the agonizing burn of her defiance, the sting and pull of the challenge in her words, the mass of her curls swerving around her face. Her grin, her insolence, her anger, everything.

He wants it all.

So when she asks, "You're a man of honor, and you keep your word. You have to promise me you'll keep your word. Do we have a deal?"

Klaus, tension pooling beneath his muscles, filling him like molten steel, straining violently, viciously hating his own weakness, he mouths the word, Yes.

Bonnie brushes off the kid, and Caroline helps a blood-starved Klaus who's much to weak to move himself into the car outside. It's Damon's. Today is probably not his day, today is a Mystic Falls national holiday probably, because the Grinch finally got his ass handed to him, maybe.

Damon swears, cusses that singe her ears, when he sees Caroline helping a hobbled Klaus out of the containment facility. Beating at the sides of his own. "I am going to rip you apart, Blondie. You too, witch."

Caroline's jaw tenses, but she ignores him. She looks over the kid she'd picked up. He's still alive, a little shaken, but no worse for wear, thank god. Caroline compelled the diner kid to go home and forget about everything after Bonnie's slid the ring off his finger and pocketed it.

Damon sneers when he catches the glimpse of silver. "Gilbert Jr. was in on this, was he? Or you stab him in the back too?"

"If you don't shut up," Bonnie says, as pleasant as she can get at this hour in this kind of company. "I'll stab you in the face."

Damon snarls, and it reminds them all of how not long ago he'd tried to kill them all at some point. His teeth are still as sharp, and his soul might as well be just as black.

"You can't hold me forever."

"I won't," Bonnie says, Caroline standing beside her with her arms folded. "I'm holding you just until these guys get far away enough."

"Alaric could get here any second –"

"Jeremy and Matt aren't as useless as you think," Bonnie sneers, angry on their behalf. "They're distracting him."

"With a unified strip tease?" Damon barks acidly, "Yeah, good fucking luck."

Caroline snaps her fingers around Bonnie's wrists before she makes good on her threat and stabs Damon in the face with one of the snooker sticks lying around, or exploding his brain into a thousand flecs of blood and bone with one of her Bennet Aneurisms.

"Good bye, Damon," Caroline says, instead, in a dry voice that doesn't seem her own at all. "See you on the flipside."

"Ha," Damon says, "but, oh, wait, you just sold your body to the devil. Don't make a promise you can't keep, Blondie. You've really dug yourself one this time."

Damon's look of disgust almost makes her feel guilty, has a bite to it that turns her stomach over, to think they'd almost been friends. In spite of herself she can feel her eyes sting with tears.

"We had to, Damon."

He scoffs.

"He's just jealous we had a plan that actually worked and we didn't let them in on it." Bonnie says, sounding like Damon herself, that same airy condescending tone she was intentionally going for. "This plan was Salvatore proof, Care. But it isn't done until you've left. Where's Klaus?"

"In the car." She'd been all packed since the night Ric tried to kill her, and she was relieved that it was almost coming to an end. "We're leaving immediately."

"Car?" Damon echoes, blinking.

"Yeah, I liked yours better than mine. But don't worry, I'm just using it for a bit, we'll park it on the side of some road when I switch to another car. It's temporary."

Bonnie throws her arms around Caroline, whispers fiercely. "I'll get you out of this, Care." While Damon hisses expletives, "My car, why you little –"

"No," Caroline says, tugging her fingers into Bonnie's shoulders in a desperate way, clutches because letting go is the worst part of a hug, it's the absolute worst. "Don't. I'll write, I'll contact you, I'll come around. I made a promise," she shot Damon a meaningful look over Bonnie's head, "I'll keep it."

She holds on for as long as she can, when she lets go she throws a watery smile at the both of them, flees.

Klaus's skin is almost gray in the dull light of the car, and they're not out of dodge yet, so she keeps glancing at him, makes sure he's tucked in tight into the seat, belted right and safe. He's too weak to sit up straight, and she won't give him any blood until she's sure they're out of the thick and far, far away from Virginia and all surrounding states.

He's been silent this whole time, let her handle him, put him in the car like a child. Watched the night pass by with the window rolled down.

Caroline's blood flows in anxious stutters in her veins, she knows she'll have to feed him soon, she can't keep him weak forever. It's no better than leaving him desiccated, he doesn't even have the strength to defend himself.

He's weak, but not to weak to speak it seems. Because he does, when the horizon is lit in the angry red of the coming son, and makes the glass of the car tint in wild bloody orange.

"Boyfriends not tagging along?"

Her hands tighten around the steering wheel, crackling into the old leather of the car she'd hotwired after she'd ditched Damon's on the street. She hadn't had time to break up with Tyler, Bonnie said she'd talk to him for her. Caroline had even tossed her phone out of the window, gotten rid of anything that could trace their location.

Tyler had to run as well after Ric snitched on them, they were supposed to do it together. Her head ached, her body felt sore and tired. She was supposed to run with him. Like, eloping, or something. Caroline's eyes hurt, burn in the glare of sunlight, until the road is only a long stretch of blurry gray. This is what running looks like, she thinks, a road leading to nowhere, forever and ever and ever.

"No," She swallows, every time she thinks about Tyler she feels like someone's scooped a hole out of her heart, and she has to get used to that. "Not that it's any of your business, but I don't have a boyfriend anymore."

He laughs, a dry thing that sounds like a cough more than anything, rumbles in the back of his throat and wheezes through his parted lips. He's less dead than before, but not very alive either, not yet.

Caroline bites the inside of her mouth, refrains from hissing at him. Because she chose this. They could have stuck with the Salvatore plan, and everything would have ended up as screwed as fuck, but she still wouldn't have ended up here. Sharing an enclosed space with this bitter, vibrant with all the colours of scorn, individual.

She'd done the right thing. Like hell she would regret it.

"What were you thinking?" He wants to know, sobering up quickly enough.

"I told you –"

"Yes, you did. All that self-sacrificing rubbish," Klaus says, turning away from the window and looking directly at her in that impatient, discriminate way of his. Looking for the catch, for the trap door, saving them both the trouble. He smiles, a nasty little smile that has Caroline's guts knotting and roiling. Waves upon waves of self-loathing rolling over her. "You darling saint, you perfect little martyr, so bloody sly. You're to suffer my company forever, are you?"

"Not forever." Caroline says.

He frowns, brows pinching. Not understanding the cool assertion. "No?"

"The deal we made said forever, but we both know it won't come to that. I'll be here as long as you want me. I know what you are Klaus," she says simply, explaining in a clear and concise manner that speaks of well-established Encarta fact, "you'll tire of me eventually, and you'll find something else to distract you, something else more fascinating than a girl like me. Soon I'll bore you just the same as the others did. And you won't want me anymore, and you'll let me go."

"Just like that?" Klaus prompts, malice turning his grin sour. "Will I?"

She shrugs, eyes focused nonchalantly on the road. "Yeah."

He slams his foot clear through the floor boarding, she yelps, sparks hiss across the bottom where the metal scrapes across the tarmac rushing beneath them. Caroline stomps down on the brakes, the car careens as she tries to get control of it, to stop it. Her heart jumps into her throat, because he just shoved a foot through the fucking car, and the cars barely rocking on its tires as it stops before Klaus is tearing into her the sleeve of her arm, and pulling her bodily. She cries out, because it hurts.

"You haven't a clue, have you?" the sunlight glancing off the ridges of his cheekbones, harsh red, and his eyes are blue as the storming punches of waves she has to roll with. Terror isn't the only thing that lodges her words in her throat, because Klaus – Klaus is looking at her, and it's a look that burrows beneath her skin and steals into her bones, and he's close, he's pulled her half the way towards him, the knobs on the radio digging into her ribs, his lips are close enough to steal the very wisps of her life from her. He whispers again, she watches his adam's apple bob hard in his throat, and he shouldn't look like this, like a boy, injured by the errant cruelty of her words, instead of the man with the snarl and the penchant for sticking daggers into the hearts of his immediate family.

"You have no idea, Caroline." He says, yearning violently towards her, hands fisting into her hair as her heart runs a mile a minute. "I'm never letting you go, I'm never going to get tired of you, I'm not a child. Remember? You're not a momentary fancy, I told you that before. I'm not a fickle Salvatore with their revolving doppelgangers. I'm not a fool."

"I don't –"

He cuts her off before she admits it, before she says the word. "You don't have to," he says, the anger burrows beneath his words, makes them like a sigh. "But I want all of you, not morsels, not glimpses, everything."

"You can't have all of me. I'm not a horse, something you can own, I'm not a pet. I can't pretend to feel things that I don't – "

But her breath shudders against his lips, and he can taste the agitated, anxiousness in the air. He can hear her heart.

"You can't." He agrees, her eyes dart down when he wets his lips, dart away just as quickly, her cheeks heat up red. He feels his starvation acutely, a hunger gnawing at him when he looks at Caroline, a raw heat beneath his quiet proclamation. "But I, just as you, can't pretend to not feel the things that I do. I'm quite taken, you see, Caroline, and I've wanted – I've wanted…well, let's just say that the very notion of keeping this off any longer destroys me."

His mouth is searing, red hot, and the kiss isn't tender at all. It's ferocious as a heat wave, makes cracks in the earth's floor, dries out the very oxygen from the space, and steals her consent from her lungs, makes firecrackers in her head, firecrackers behind her eyes.

Caroline can't breathe, can't breathe, can't breathe.

"All of you," Klaus says, "Everything."

He steals from her, this time, she doesn't stop him. Caroline curls her fingers into his hair, nails biting down into his scalp because she's stolen everything from him, and he figures, these are just desserts.

And he gives just as good as she takes. Always.




Now you're moving on and you say you're alone. Suspicious that this string is moving your bones.
We are the fire, we see how they run, see how they run, lift me higher, let me look at the sun.
Look at the sun and once I hear them clearly, sayl
"Who, who are you really? And where are you going?" I've got nothing left to prove
Cause I've got nothing left to lose. See me there waiting for you,
See me there waiting.




end notes: so people just sort of bitterly ride off into the sunset, and i'm exhausted. thank you everyone who read this, for taking your time! i now need to sleep. the end. because idec what right now. like what the hell is wrong with these two. why can't they just end a story properly, they make it so hard for me to tie things off. blegh.

just, blegh.