This was written in early January, and I just never posted it (along with about ten other fics /sigh.) However, today I decided to do so. It's Stefan, Caroline, and Elena. But, there are small moments of Stefan/Caroline - mostly because my mind is in love with them and it writes what it wants to, okay?

Anyway. This is some weird combo of Caroline being insecure and scared and loving/loved - all in equal measure. I think I only wrote this because I wanted Stefan/Caroline/Elena brotp.

This is an unnecessarily long author's note. (Completely random: Thursday's episode of TVD, ugh. So Much Anger/Heartbreak/Frustration/Love For Stefan. Agreed?)

Title from An Army Of Lovers Cannot Fail - Lovers. (Aka, my all time favorite song. One of, anyway.)


there's bears in the balcony (in the drunken dream i had.)

"Is it bad that I'm still scared? After everything's that happened, I'm still scared." The night air is hollow and brisk around them; gusts of wind coming in and taking her breath away for a moment before leaving her to the silence – only the sound of his shoes crunching against the gravel as an assurance that she's not alone.

As they sit prim on the doorsteps right outside the boarding house, her breath blows out like smoke rings going higher and higher into the sky and she knows he's watching them until they disappear.

It feels like minutes before he responds to her. She busies herself with the sound of his shoes and the burning in her eyes – almost feels foolish.

"What are you scared of, Caroline?" And she promises she can feel his breath touch right against her cheek as he turns his head to talk.

She inhales deeply, feels like a small child when she tries her hardest to make a sound akin to laughter when she barely musters out, "Everything." Then the burning in her eyes has turned to tears stinging, ready to fall over onto her cheeks. And because Caroline tries her very hardest to never falter when it isn't necessary, she tries to muster up a smile for him. But her tears and her smile get caught up in one another and her teeth feel foreign to the softness of her lips and soon she's turned back away from him so he can't see her face. So she can't see his.

It's minutes of the slow trailing of his breath in the air and her quiet hiccups because she does not want to cry, before she realizes that he's waiting for her to say something else. Before she does though, she swipes a side glance his way and can see how the moon lights the shadows in his face and makes him intimidatingly handsome.

"I'm scared of being like this forever. Of losing my ring," she clutches her fingers around it, "of who I am. The dark." She offers a small, but hesitant laugh. "Of how you make me feel." And she doesn't know why she's saying it, just that she is and the words feel right falling off of her lips.

He turns to her then, with sharp movements that still manage to convey his hesitation. "How do I make you feel?" And when she musters up the courage, she looks at his face, gulps back a distasteful lump in her throat, and tries not to fall over her tears and the stinging and the raw skin from where she's been digging her nails into her hands.

"You make me feel like I have hope. Like I'm Caroline again and nothing's changed. Even if everything has and I'm not like anything I used to be. Even then, you make me feel like I can be. If I just try hard enough." She pauses, watches her breath swirl through the space in between them. "You make me feel like I have a friend who finally understand where I'm coming from."

He places his hand on her knee and squeezes it just reassuringly enough and smiles small at her with his endearing lips and his pretty teeth. "You don't have to be scared, Caroline. I'm not going anywhere."

She thinks it's just like a best friend to say that. And mean it.

–;

She thinks loving Stefan blurs with the line of wanting Stefan. And she's always tried so hard with all her might to stay away from that line. To keep the two so far apart that she'd laugh at the simple mention of Stefan in any way other than her friend.

She has never denied that he is strikingly handsome and good in all the right places, but she's never really admitted it either. Only under her breath and then she curses herself with words that burn like acid, words like Elena. (Because she could never do that to either of her best friends. She couldn't.)

She shakes the thoughts from her mind, from her memories. Fills herself with things like eternity, blood, and existence. Fills her mind with being Caroline for so long that she forgets she's never going to be anyone else.

Until provocations creep up on her, shouting, verbatim, her priceless insecurities. Then she's running, hiding, like the innocent girl she can sometimes always be.

She always finds herself at the boarding house; hoping Elena's staying there just this one night because she does not to be this tender, this broken without her best friends.

She calls them that late at night when she has tear tracks on her face and spoonfuls of ice cream just within her grasp; plunged deep down in the covers of Stefan' bed, snuggled with Elena in the middle, holding her tight. She believes she whispers something like don't let me go right after. Elena and Stefan must feel so heartrendingly bad for her that they let her spend the night and the next nights there too.

She wakes up lazy the next morning with Stefan sitting on the edge of the bed, coffee mug in hand, offering her sips. She smiles at him, lets him rubs soft circles on her shoulders, and tries to be discreet about her hunger. The undying hunger that never fails to remind her that she is different.

"You're just like me, Caroline." Stefan chuckles, when she tells him. But the truth is, she's not. She is not like Stefan with a warming smile and so much wisdom it will knock you over. She does not have control and will never gain it and even he can make eating a bunny seem like the right thing. She just can't; cannot live up to everything he is, wants her to be, wants herself to be.

She tries to tell herself to face the facts. "I'm not," she laughs humorlessly. "You're Stefan and I'm Caroline." She pauses, "two entirely different entities. One just far better than the other." Then there's her small, sad smile that she hates, but knows she's showing.

She brushes off any of his further remarks with eyes that try to say it's really okay. But say something different, entirely.

;

"You know I love you, right?" And she thinks this how the worst break ups begin.

"Love you too, Elena." She smiles back hesitantly, waits for the but you have to go.

Elena's soft sweet smile digs deep down into her skin, takes up residence there. "Okay, I just want you to always remember." And Caroline begins to wonder when they started acting so young around one another again; so fragile and tenderly holding each other until the storms passes overhead.

Caroline continues to smile sweetly, only musters up a small, "Okay." And god, does she love that girl. She does, with just about everything she's able to have left in her. She'd give it all to Elena and better her some more and give it all to Stefan, love him some more.

She'd give herself away if there was really anything left to give. Because the world and her insecurities and immortality have just about taken everything she ever had.

–;

They hold her like she may slip away if they don't do something quick.

"I told you I was scared of everything, Stefan." She whispers hauntingly one day when he's promised Elena he'll keep an eye on her like she's too fragile for her own good. (Which, she probably is.)

He wears his serious, seen-so-much-it-may-scare-you-at-first eyes and his worry in his brow. He sighs, runs his fingers through her blonde hair, "And I told you there's nothing to be afraid of. Nothing." He stares into her eyes and she gulps back dry air that scratches her throat.

The windy night chills play like a memory in her mind, reminding her that even though Stefan's her best friend and he means well, and Elena means well because Stefan is not without Elena, he is wrong.

But the dark's never really been so inviting to her. But Stefan always has been. And Elena always has been. And they've always been able to remind her that she's got nothing to be afraid of. She's just got some things to overcome.

Still fragile like glass, Caroline decides not to listen to the night (or the hollowness in her heart, her insecurities). She decides to listen to her family instead.