Two Years Later
Caroline heaved a sigh as she placed her gun back in the lockbox. She didn't waste any time in removing the snug blue uniform from her body, still not used to it even after a year. It was better than getting back into the fray, at least. It was better than working on the heavy cases where there were dead bodies and people who reminded her of the past. Petty robberies and domestic disputes were where she wanted to be. Maybe one day she would work back up to that, but not now. Not yet.
She strolled toward the stairs, her eyes catching sight of the packed boxes in the corner of the kitchen. Caroline was going to miss having Bonnie's margarita mixer in the house. And having Bonnie in the house.
Their friendship took longer to repair than Caroline would have liked, but she never forgot the night Bonnie came into her room with a tray full of unhealthy snack foods, and movies that were either of the romantic comedy variety, or strictly romance. It was the day Caroline had decided to go back to work with the local department rather than the FBI. Bonnie had told her she saw how difficult it was for her to get back on the straight and narrow, but that the effort was what mattered to her. And that she knew Caroline would never intentionally put her in harm's way. Having Bonnie back was like lifting a weight she didn't even know was on her chest.
It never stopped the constant watching though. She saw how Matt and Bonnie looked at her when either Mikaelson brother was featured on the news. Caroline could only imagine how many times they wondered if she had secret contact with them. There were times her paranoia got the better of her and she thought Matt might actually be tapping into her phone conversations, but she refused to vocally accuse him of doing so. After a while, the feeling of trust began to come back though. They stopped stealing glances at her, and she stopped wondering if she should get a new number without telling them.
Caroline walked down the upstairs hallway, passing many open boxes Bonnie had yet to put her things in. Not one of them was in a hurry to get her stuff packed. It was the end of an era. The three musketeers would be disbanded, in a sense. They would still see each other since Bonnie was only moving forty-five minutes away, but it was still a good drive out of the way.
She almost didn't bother changing as she entered her bedroom, but she knew she couldn't walk around the house in her underwear. She pulled out a tank top and shorts, unable to help glancing at the window now and again as she changed. Sometimes she would stare at it, wondering if a lost murderer would climb through again. Maybe tonight will be the night, she'd think. It never was.
"Care, you home?" Matt called from downstairs, bringing Caroline from her daydreams.
"Yeah, I'm up here," she said, walking to the door and leaning against the frame.
"Come help me set this dinner up. I want it to look fancy."
"If you wanted it to be fancy, we should've gone to the restaurant, not ordered pick-up," Caroline smiled as she descended the stairs.
"Bonnie won't be here much longer. We have to enjoy these dinners while we can." Caroline could hear the rustle of paper bags before she even caught sight of Matt in the dining room, taking out the white boxes and putting them on the table.
"Is Jamie coming with her?" Caroline asked, grabbing plates from the cabinet.
"Nah, he's got work to do. She said he wants to come to the fair with us this weekend though."
"That'll be fun," she said sincerely, putting the load of plates, silverware, and glasses she carried onto the table. Once Caroline arranged them accordingly, she grabbed a box and began scooping the food onto the plates, making it look as pretty as she could. Then again, it was only spaghetti and garlic bread, so it wasn't like a masterpiece was waiting to be created.
"Yeah. I thought I'd invite April to join us, if that's okay," he asked. A tad sheepishly, she might add.
"You're going to make me a fifth wheel?!" She groaned. It's not like his relationship with this girl would last long anyway. Caroline never saw her around the house as much as she used to.
"Well what about that Enzo guy you met? You could invite him."
Hmm. There was a thought. A hot guy who rode motorcycles and wore leather jackets. A hot guy she'd spent a lot of time with. A hot guy who found out his fiancée was murdered by the one and only Damon Salvatore. Yeah, he seemed just like her type. "His inner serial killer is probably waiting to be awakened," she sighed. "I'd rather not push him toward it."
"At least give him a chance. You haven't talked about a guy so much since…you know," he shrugged, trailing off.
"I know," she mumbled. Caroline stopped scooping food onto the plates and went to fetch the wine.
"We haven't heard anything for a few weeks, by the way," he said, still in the dining room. "They weren't able to get his trail again after Indianapolis."
She wasn't sure if she should say that was good or bad. "Interesting."
His mouth formed a thin line, albeit while still appearing amused by her answer. "We haven't heard anything about the Salvatore brothers either. It's like they dropped off the face of the earth."
"Seems to be what they do," she said, inwardly happy that they weren't in the spotlight again. Maybe Damon had convinced Stefan to give up their life of crime. One could hope that was the case, and it wasn't the other, more depressing option. The one where they died and no one had found their bodies yet.
She wasn't sure if Matt was waiting to see if she knew anything about their whereabouts, but he never asked her aloud, if that was the case. Caroline hadn't talked to any of them in two years, anyway. It's not like she'd know.
"I'm gonna go change before they get here," he finally said after another round of silence. He gave her a small smile. "I think I still have a burger stain on this thing somewhere from earlier."
Caroline smiled, flopping down at the end seat as he walked off. She'd told him and Bonnie about what happened while she was away, about the running and the talks and…well…even that relationship she'd had with Klaus. It had been tough—tough was an understatement—but at least she got her point across on why she didn't want to go to therapy. She didn't trust someone to not break the doctor-patient confidentiality agreement. Despite both of them knowing the measures that needed to be taken should that happen, it still left them a bit wary. Besides, they knew it would be too late by then. Her history would be out there, and no one could take it back. Bonnie hadn't been the same way when it came to seeking counsel, but she was able to weave a story so that Caroline was left completely out, and she was still capable of getting the advice she sought.
From where she sat, Caroline heard keys being turned in the lock, as well as the faint sound of talking outside the front door. She smiled, standing and walking into the foyer. The door opened and in walked Bonnie, Jamie close behind. They were both smiling, and Caroline would be damned if that wasn't a sight she didn't get tired of. Bonnie smiling.
"Hey, Care," she said, shutting the door behind her.
"Hey, Bonnie. Hi, Jamie." Caroline smiled and gave him a tiny wave. "I thought you had to work?"
"Thought I'd take a night off and help this one get packed," he teased, giving her a nudge. "I don't know if you've noticed, but she's a little slow."
"I'm sorry," Bonnie said, "I'm just…I'm going to miss these guys."
"It's not like you're movin' across the country," he said as he pecked her on the cheek and went into the dining room. "So what's cookin' tonight?"
"Spaghetti," Caroline answered, clasping her hands together behind her back. "We slaved for hours over it."
He sniffed the air, holding back a grin. "I can tell. Smells just like the place Bonnie and I went to on our first date."
Caroline shrugged. "What a coincidence."
He smiled, taking a spot across from where Caroline stood. Feet thumped down the stairs as Matt came down in jeans and a new t-shirt. His smile brightened when he saw Jamie. "Hey, man. I didn't think you were coming tonight."
"Change of plans. Caroline tells me you guys worked hard on this," he said, giving the girls a knowing look.
"Well, you know—" Matt began, talking about how few people knew of his hidden cooking talents. Caroline ignored the spiel for the most part. Her and Bonnie were already walking into the kitchen, allowing the boys their time to chat.
Caroline didn't miss how Bonnie lingered behind, her gaze wandering over every inch of the kitchen, her fingers gliding across the counters. She gave her friend a sad smile. Caroline was glad she was happy with Jamie, but she would miss having another woman around to chat with. She could talk to Matt about a lot of stuff, but not everything.
"I always thought you would be the first to move out," Bonnie said, leaning against the sink, her lips turned upward.
"Me?" Caroline's brows furrowed as she hopped onto the counter beside Bonnie, legs dangling over the edge. "Why's that?"
"You were the wounded little bird we brought in from the cold. I thought you would want to fly off on your own once you were better. I mean, obviously I didn't want you to. Matt's my best friend, but you were such a breath of fresh air that I was dreading when the day would come. But then you stayed. I don't know if I ever told you how happy I was. It's why I never brought it up to you. I was afraid it would be like some reminder that you actually had somewhere to be and couldn't stay with us anymore."
Bonnie was just now telling her all this? It might've been nice to have this to hold on to when they weren't talking. Actually, knowing how deep her betrayal had been to Bonnie would have made it worse. "I'm sorry I wasn't a better friend to you. You brought me in and I repay you by being terrible."
"It wasn't easy being mad at you for so long. But I know things haven't been any better for you either." Bonnie leaned her head against Caroline's arm. "I'm just glad we're okay."
"Are you sure you have to leave?" Caroline giggled, pursing her lips to hold off the tears.
Bonnie laughed, her body shaking against Caroline's. "Yes. I want to do this. But I'm going to miss having you down the hall."
"Be careful what you wish for. You might never get rid of me after the next sleepover."
"Is that a threat or a promise?"
Caroline hopped down and wrapped Bonnie in such a tight hug, she thought she might suffocate her.
"If you don't stop, I will cry," Bonnie joked, though Caroline could hear the sincerity behind the words. "Our food's probably cold by now, too."
"That's why microwaves were invented," Caroline assured her. She pulled away from the hug and walked into the dining room with Bonnie.
Thankfully, the food wasn't that cold, and they were able to eat without making multiple trips to the kitchen. Jamie made a decent addition to their group, seamlessly blending with their dynamic. Moments like this were what Caroline cherished most. It was a reminder of what she almost gave up because she thought she could never come back from what happened. God, had two years really passed since then? Where did the time go?
Dinner ended on a happy note with them working out the details for their carnival plans, agreeing they would make the most of the day and get there early. Matt offered to take care of cleaning duty so Bonnie and Jamie could start on her packing. Caroline wanted to help him, but he shooed her away, saying he had it.
She made her way upstairs, listening to the laughter coming from Bonnie's room as some of her stuff flew out of her room and into the hallway. Caroline shook her head and retreated to her bedroom. He was so good for her. Hopefully they went the distance with their relationship. Caroline was more than willing to help plan that wedding.
As she walked to her desk, Caroline found her thoughts lost in what Bonnie said to her earlier. Should she have moved out? The idea had crossed her mind—and not just when she considered running away with Klaus. She thought about getting her own place, but the solitude scared her. She didn't want to be alone. She didn't trust herself to be.
Her fingers grasped the handle to her bottom desk drawer and pulled, plucking a manila folder from it. On the outside it looked like any case file might look, but inside…she thought of it more as a scrapbook. A twisted little scrapbook that reminded her of what was. Of who she wanted to keep tabs on. There were assorted newspaper clippings jostled around, both big and small. Some articles were of Kol and his continuing sprees of terror, some were about the prison outbreak that was now notorious throughout the states, but the majority of articles were of Klaus. Of who his victims were, of where they happened. An in-depth character analysis a journalist wrote to try and understand "what went wrong." She had it all.
Caroline leaned back in her chair, turning to look at the window. Stars twinkled beside a crescent moon, illuminating her room and the yard outside. It was hard to forget what transpired, even if she didn't have the constant reminders scattered across her desk. Would she ever be over it? It was more than just her time with Klaus. It was her whole life leading up to that time. It was everything. How did someone simply…move on? While she felt like she was making progress, she had to wonder if she should've been farther along in her recovery process.
She bit her lip, looking back to the mess of memories she had kept hidden for so long. Her eyes flicked between the wastebasket and the desk drawer. This could stop now and no one would be any the wiser of what she collected. She could cut her losses right this second. Caroline packed the folder with all the clippings she'd gathered over the months, holding it tight in her grip when she finished. The longer she held it, the heavier it got. She inhaled deeply, her thumb caressing the folder.
The desk drawer opened slowly as she tugged it open, placing the folder neatly back as it had been before. Caroline stared at the closed drawer a moment longer before standing and going to the door. She should see if Matt was done with the dishes.
The sun shone brightly on the fair grounds as Caroline and the rest made their way through the crowd of people looking to enjoy the breezy summer day. Bonnie and Jamie held hands ahead of the rest, while Matt had his arm comfortably around April's shoulder. That left Caroline to eat her sugared funnel cake and drink her lemonade as she trailed behind the group, trying to remind herself that she hadn't invited Enzo for plenty of reasons, even if that meant she didn't get a big stuffed bear like the one Jamie won for Bonnie. She enjoyed listening to the drone of chatter and faint carnival music, at least.
"What about the swings?" Jamie asked, pointing to the swings where everyone was practically horizontal from spinning so fast.
"I don't think that's the best idea. I just ate a corndog and Caroline's still eating her funnel cake," Bonnie chuckled.
"Fine. What about the merry-go-round? More your speed?" He grinned.
"Still a lot of spinning. Let's try another game until our food digests," Bonnie suggested, pointing toward a booth off in the distance. "Like that one."
"Shooting targets? I can do that," Matt smiled, giving April's shoulder a squeeze. That girl was definitely getting a bear. Caroline would've made a joke about it had she not felt the sudden need to find the ladies' room.
"Guys, I need to find a bathroom," Caroline stated, slurping down her last drop of sweet lemonade. "I've had a lot."
"I think there were some by the food stands," Bonnie said, holding back a grin.
"I'll meet up with you guys when I'm done," she said, tossing her empty cup into a nearby trashcan and handing her funnel cake to Matt.
"We'll text you if we go somewhere else while you're gone," Matt assured her, picking at the funnel cake.
Caroline nodded; shuffling back toward the food while the four of them went off toward the booth. It was fairly easy to find thanks to various signs, and luckily she wasn't stuck with some port-o-potty where she felt like she needed a shower afterward. It looked more like a stadium bathroom, just not as shiny. She could handle that.
When she finished, she washed her hands at the sink and spent a little time fluffing herself while she had a mirror at hand. She straightened her light blue tank top and tried to calm the loose strands of hair that were determined to go everywhere after spending a day in the wind. It was around then when she heard the clack of heels against the tile flooring and wondered who in the hell would wear heels to a fairground.
"This heat is hell on my hair," the girl said, placing her purse on the counter and surprising Caroline by speaking at all. She immediately ran her fingers through her dark, tight curls, moving her head from side to side to look at herself from different angles.
"Mine's the same," Caroline said nonchalantly, not entirely sure what to say as she watched the girl open her purse and pull out a tube of lipstick. While the woman was beautiful and smelled like a floral shop, Caroline wasn't sure she wanted to stand there and share hair tips with a woman who clearly didn't know what attire to wear at carnivals.
"It doesn't take a genius to see that," she said, making Caroline's mouth drop. "Honestly, I don't know what all the fuss is about."
"Excuse you! You could be a little nicer to someone you just met," Caroline scolded. "You don't see me pointing out your tacky boots."
"There it is," the woman purred, a smirk gracing her tinted lips. "Now I can see it."
"See what? Your bad taste?"
"It's a perfect day for a ride on the Ferris Wheel, don't you think?" She asked, finally turning from the mirror to face Caroline. She moved her sunglasses from the top of her head and put them over her eyes. "It was nice meeting you, Caroline."
Caroline froze. Did she just say her name?
"Oh, and Caroline? I always have good taste." With that, the woman strutted out like she held an overabundance of confidence in that slim frame.
Caroline didn't follow her out until she had shaken herself from her daze, but by then it was too late. There were too many people to see where she could've gone, and there was no place for Caroline to logically start looking. The woman was gone.
Her eyes darted around, feeling a sense of dread wash over her. Caroline was sure she would've remembered meeting someone like her in the past, so who was she, and how did she know Caroline? No answer she could come up with made sense, and there was no point in staying where she was. The girl wouldn't come back.
Caroline felt her phone vibrate in her pocket, prompting her to take it out and see who messaged her.
Jamie and Matt made a bet, so we're going to the swings. Come find us in line, Bonnie texted.
Caroline's thumb lingered over the keys, thinking of what to say. She looked around, seeing if her surroundings would be the answer to the woman's cryptic suggestion. It wasn't.
Still full from food. I think I'll do something else until you guys are done. Text me when you finish, Caroline replied.
You sure? I can come find you and we'll do something.
No, I'm okay. I want to try for a stuffed puppy.
Okay. Message you when we're done. xoxo.
Caroline put her phone back in her pocket, taking a deep breath. At least they were occupied. Now she could solve this puzzle because there was no way in hell she wasn't going to let her curiosity get the better of her.
She weaved through the throng of people; eyes open for anything out of the ordinary. Her heartbeat increased as time went on and there was still nothing. Was the girl going to be at the Ferris wheel? Was this some kind of plan to mug her or something? No, they were around too many people for that. Christ, this was infuriating.
Eventually she found herself in line for the Ferris wheel, still searching for signs of someone who might be looking for her. There were none. Though the sun was beating down on her, she was sweating from more than just the heat. She felt like she was being watched, the thought making her skin prickle. Maybe she should've waited for someone to come with her. Now she just felt like an idiot for listening to some stranger who knew more than she should have.
Minutes passed before she finally made it to the front, the man running it attempting to usher her into a carriage as he held the barred door open. She hesitated, making him lift an eyebrow. "Waiting for someone?"
She swallowed, shaking her head. "No…no, I'm not waiting."
Caroline gave him a tiny smile and stepped into the carriage. It was small, but still gave her enough room so that she didn't feel cramped when she sat. Well, despite the roof and the silver bars encasing her, presumably to keep someone from falling over. The carriage itself was a dark blue with different designs on it to make it look festive. Caroline grasped a bar with her hand, looking out the opposite side she entered from, getting quite the view of the fairgrounds. She felt the carriage shift from the weight of another person entering and sitting down across from her, topping the two-person capacity. The operator shut the door and started the machine once more, making Caroline grin when they started gradually moving higher. It had been a long time since she was on a Ferris wheel.
Unfortunately, the man she was partnered with was determined to take up as much room as he could, his legs moving into her space as he lounged. She tried not to stare since it was awkward enough being stuck in a carriage with someone she didn't know instead of a friend, but these weren't that small. It took talent to take up that much space.
Her glare shifted to him all the same, having to do a double take after first seeing his ball cap and sunglasses. He was already watching her intently, and if that knowing smile he wore hadn't been so familiar, it would've been creepy. Instead, it made her heart stop.
"Surprised to see me?" he drawled.
She wasn't sure if she should smile or frown, so she decided to say the first thing that came to her mind. "Really? You choose a crowded carnival instead of somewhere private? Really?" She huffed, crossing her arms over her chest. "I don't know if you're a genius or an idiot."
"Always a pleasure to see you, too," he grinned, taking off his glasses to reveal the blue eyes she so often thought about.
"Seriously, people have cameras on their phones. You know, pictures and videos of anyone they might see?" She doubted sunglasses and a hat would keep someone from noticing him, but then again she didn't think this was his first rodeo either. All she knew was that he wasn't as careful when he was with her, and that certainly wouldn't do him any favors here.
"Relax, sweetheart. I have complete control of the situation. I managed to pull a few favors from dear Elijah. He assures me he'll warn me of any complications, should they arise. Besides, there are ways to get around this place without walking through crowds."
"Elijah's here?" And to think she thought they knew how to hide.
"It was a necessity to coerce his fiancée into lending a much needed hand."
The girl in the bathroom. Oh, Caroline felt like such a moron. She slapped her forehead with the palm of her plan. "I should've known that was you."
Klaus only grinned. She was sure he was proud of himself. "It's been too long."
"That wasn't my choice," she reminded him. In all the months they'd been separated, she hadn't once been able to guess where he was. She tilted her head to the side. "Why now?"
"Because I wanted to," he said indifferently. Maybe he was bored without her there to terrorize, but she didn't think that was the case.
"You missed me," she grinned, sounding like a two year old.
"What brings you to that conclusion?"
"I can read you," she said, keeping his gaze. His expression fell, and she knew she was getting close to it.
"Here I thought you were too preoccupied with your friend Lorenzo to notice much else," he mused.
Caroline's eyes widened. "You're stalking me?"
"I know a lot of people, Caroline. I couldn't leave you unattended."
She scoffed. "I didn't think you would be one for jealousy."
"Really? So if I were to say I slept with Enzo because a certain someone wasn't filling my needs…would that bother you?"
His jaw ticked. "No."
She rolled her eyes. Caroline wanted so badly to smile, even if she knew it wasn't the brightest idea to get him angry. Not much had changed, but she could tell he wasn't the same man she first met two years ago behind a wall of glass. Time had done a real number on him. "Good. Because I slept with him."
"I wish you two all the best," he ground out, fists clenching the bars.
Of course it was around this time that the Ferris wheel stopped at the top. Caroline sighed, looking out over the fairgrounds. "You know you can admit you feel something."
"I feel nothing."
She eyed him up and down, though he refused to meet her gaze. Caroline slowly placed her hand on his knee, waiting for him to turn and face her. "Nothing?"
He stayed silent, though his face seemed to reluctantly soften. She knew that, besides her better instincts, she felt something. Two years apart and her stomach still danced when he was around, but it was no longer from fear. Problem was, she didn't know what to do with that dancing. He would never change, and she would never change her mind. Whatever was between them was complicated, and messy, and probably going to send her sanity swirling down the drain, but she couldn't back down from her beliefs. Not even for this feeling.
"My offer still stands, you know," he told her seriously.
"Unless you've suddenly taken a hiatus from work, you know I can't do that," she said, taking her hand off his knee. "I want to dance with someone at my friends' weddings. I want someone who can win me a stuffed puppy, or go to dinner with me. I want someone who can be there for me."
"You want quid pro quo," Klaus grinned.
Caroline returned the grin. "A heart for a heart."
Klaus nodded, rubbing his lips with his hand. "It seems an unstoppable force has met an immovable object," he smirked.
"I'm not an object," Caroline retorted, quirking an eyebrow. Though she couldn't help but agree that they were quite the paradox.
"You most certainly are not," he said gently.
Caroline felt her cheeks burn. She sat up straighter, forcing herself to meet Klaus' eyes. He stared at her in such a way that she almost forgot what she wanted to ask. "Why don't you stop? What's the point?"
"I have a thirst that can't be quenched," he explained. "My work brings me a peace I've rarely found elsewhere."
She didn't understand how killing brought him peace, but that would be why she wasn't a murderer. As she was about to ask something else, the Ferris wheel began to move again, and she knew her time with him would be up soon. "How long are you staying?"
"I leave tomorrow."
Her face fell. That gave her no time at all to see him, to ask everything she wanted to ask. Where had he been? How was he surviving? What the hell was Kol doing? She sighed, looking out at the fair with apprehension.
"Do you know where Damon and Stefan are?" she asked, needing to know if they were still breathing.
"Last I heard, they were hiding away somewhere out of the country. Italy, I believe it was," Klaus grinned.
She sighed. Good. They weren't dead. "Explains why I haven't heard from them."
Klaus put a hand over his heart and feigned a hurt expression. "Were you not concerned with my whereabouts?"
"You're Klaus. No one can touch you." Klaus seemed so invincible to her. She always wondered where he was, not if he was alive.
Without any warning, she watched Klaus swiftly move forward, his lips crashing into hers. She cupped his face with her hand, taking her time with the kiss. Despite their time ending soon, the moment was…sweet wasn't the right word, but it was something. It made her content. It let her know that after two years, whatever she remembered there being between them was still going strong. When Enzo kissed her, it never felt like this. They never felt right.
Klaus pulled away, lingered in front of her face for what felt like ages, and then sat back down in his seat. He put his sunglasses back over his eyes and resumed a casual stance before their carriage came to a stop. "I will see you again."
"But will I see you?" She asked, frowning.
His only answer was a smile, waiting until the operator opened their carriage door before stepping out into the crowd. She walked out closely behind him, stepping away from everybody and watching him disappear as if it weren't strange at all for him to be walking out in the open. Not once did someone pull a double take and wonder if that was the Klaus the news couldn't stop talking about. But eventually, even she lost sight of him, and it didn't seem like such a mystery how he could get away so easily.
Her phone vibrated, pulling her from her daydreams. It was Bonnie again, telling her where they were. Caroline messaged back to say she was on her way, walking in that direction as she did so. Once again, Klaus made her wonder how she could do any of this. She had no intention of telling anyone about who she saw, about Elijah being nearby. Maybe that was something that just wouldn't change though, no matter what she did to better herself.
The rest of the day she spent with the group was much like it had started. Normal. No killers coming to check on her, no women in the bathroom to give her strange hints. She knew it was for the best, but she couldn't help but feel like something was missing. She could never have the life she wanted with Klaus, but was getting what she wanted going to make her happy?
When they finished eating all the cotton candy they could handle, and had more souvenirs in their arms than they knew what to do with, everyone piled into their respective cars and headed toward home. Jamie drove Bonnie and Caroline back to the house, while Matt went to take April back to her place. Bonnie and Jamie were lost in their conversation, but Caroline couldn't take her mind off the fair. She couldn't stop thinking about the Ferris wheel.
They walked inside, still cheery from their day's festivities. As Jamie skipped up the stairs toward Bonnie's room though, Bonnie stopped. "Is everything okay?" she asked. "You've been kind of distant."
"I'm fine," Caroline covered rather well, she thought. "All this couple-y stuff just makes me wish I had someone."
"You know, it's not that late," Bonnie said, a mischievous grin forming as she wiggled her eyebrows. "I'm sure you could find Enzo and give him a nice surprise."
"Bonnie!" Caroline smiled, unable to stop laughing.
"What? You deserve to have some fun," she said as she moved toward the stairs. "I'm going to."
Caroline made a face. "Don't forget to put a sock on the door."
Bonnie laughed. "Just think about it," she said over her shoulder as she ran up the stairs to her bedroom.
She was right. A little distraction never hurt anyone. And she had to start somewhere if she was ever going to move forward. Caroline walked up the stairs and went to her room, shutting the door behind her. She froze, however, as she felt a slight breeze blow across the back of her head. She didn't remember leaving the window open.
Caroline turned sharply, exhaling deeply when she didn't see anyone. But there was something on her bed. She dropped the stuff she was carrying onto her desk chair and moved slowly to her bed, staring at what lay waiting for her.
There was a small, stuffed puppy sitting upright, staring at her with big, black eyes. Underneath one soft paw was an elegantly printed invitation to an Elijah Pierce's wedding, and under the other paw was a handwritten note. She picked it up and looked at the two words neatly written on it.
She did as she was instructed and grinned from ear to ear when blue eyes stared back at her; body crouched on the windowsill and a smile upon his face. Maybe this wasn't meant for forever. Maybe one day she would feel like her life was together again and she would join the ranks of the FBI once more. Maybe she would finally attract someone who could walk out in the light with her and not need a disguise. Maybe one day she would be attracted back. But now, in this moment, he was the one she wanted to walk in the shadows with. He was the one she wanted.
And when he offered his hand to her?
She took it.
A/N: The End.
Wow I can't believe this is over. First, I tried to pay homage to the end of Silence of the Lambs where Hannibal walks through the crowd as the credits roll because I thought it would be a nice way to end this with Caroline there. I just added a little more before this story's credits rolled.
Second, I really want to thank everyone who stuck with me and kept me going. I don't know what I would have done without you :) And I hope the ending was satisfying for you. I tried to fit it to their relationship as best as I could without keeping them apart or making it too fluffy. So hopefully it was an open enough ending that everyone can do what they wish with it.
And lastly, I hope you guys enjoyed the journey as much as I did. You all are really the best.
Until the next story!