A/n: Edited on 10/23/2015.
Disclaimer: I do not own TVD.
Chapter 1: Louder Than Thunder
January 14, 2011
"Unbelievable," the young blonde said to herself. It seemed to be one thing after another; never ending, never relenting, or so it seemed from Caroline's point of view.
Living in Mystic Falls all her life, Caroline thought that she had seen it all. This little town seemed to breed trouble and the only thing you could do was just deal with it as it came. Caroline had always been good at that, dealing, persisting, surviving.
She was born a survivor.
It still came as a surprise to her that after all this time and all the obstacles thrown her way, she had managed to hang on just a bit longer before barely giving in.
There was a need deep inside of her to persevere, to not let go, but holding on was easier said than done.
Leaving the Salvatore's boarding house, Caroline had nowhere in particular she was going. She just let her feet guide her. The only thing she knew was that she needed to get away from what had just happened.
The young vampire usually never complained. She was always there; always ready to support the people she cared about. Her friends, family, Tyler; her caring heart held a special place for all of them. She had a heart that would never stopped caring.
But everyone has his or her breaking point. She could only care so much before it took a toll on her, mind and body.
All of her thoughts and emotions had been buried deep within her, and it had become very taxing indeed. She hated to say it, but she was tired. Utterly and completely exhausted.
That was the word that kept rolling around in her mind, tired. She fitted the exact description.
She was so fucking tired of all of it. Tired with the love triangle drama with Elena. Tired of the competition to find the cure. Tired of giving on her end, but not receiving anything in return. Tired of all the grief. Tired of being unheard. Tired of being there for someone instead of someone being there for her. Tired of being assumed. Tired of being used for convenience. Just tired of being tired, physically and emotionally.
Caroline didn't know how much more she could take.
Having walked off some of her pent up emotion, she finally stopped, sitting on the grass in the front yard of someone's house. She hugged her knees to herself, resting her head on them. Her sob caught into her throat as everything came crashing down. All of her walls broke. She cried for all of her frustration, guilt, anger, and everything in between into the ironically silent night.
Long moments after her breakdown, she let out a steady, but still shaky breath to calm herself. As much as she wanted to wallow in her misery, it wouldn't do her any good. She still had to live in reality, no matter how much she would like to escape it, Mystic Falls' cruel madness always caught up with her.
She could definitely understand why someone would want to get away from this cursed place, and only one name came into mind. Her ticket out of this town, and with thought of him came fruition.
The hybrid that had tried to kill her just for his own selfish ends, her savior who later gave her a second chance at life, without wanting anything in return. A wolf that always had something to prove as the alpha male. A stubborn jackass who could not take a hint after repeated refusals to his advances, and the man beneath the rough façade, who on occasion gave her a glimpse of his more human side.
It all came down to one thing in all of them: humanity.
Humanity is the starting point.
What a person does from that point on determines the path they will forge for their life. A person's actions are only part of the journey; the important point is that everyone is fallible. No one is unbreakable. Even the most powerful and strong fall to their weaknesses. That's humanity.
She turned her eyes to the nearly wrecked Gilbert home. Shock sparked in her eyes. She had heard of what happened, but this was still unheard of.
"What the hell?" she whispered quietly to herself.
Curiosity baited her and against her better judgment, she made slow careful steps inside of the eerily silent house. Caroline heard her footsteps echo from the hardwood floors. She was then startled, her train of thought broken by the sound of sudden banging. Loud yells of anger bellowed not too long after.
She stopped short, the gears in her head turning. That strangled, angry roar sounded all too familiar.
'Oh no,' she thought. 'Please don't let it be him,' she desperately wished, but it was futile.
It was too late though. As she stepped into the living room, her eyes were already trained on the angry hybrid, confirming her fears.
Klaus paced back and forth, impatiently and frustrated, but she could tell there was more to it than he was letting on. She could see it all in his face. His real pain presented itself in his eyes as they met hers.
Surprise appeared in his eyes briefly before it vanished being replaced with rage. "Well, isn't this a grand turn of events? If they sent you here to compromise some backward halfway term of peace, you couldn't have a picked any worse of a time. And trust me, sweetheart, those little distraction plans you and your friends pulled in the past aren't going to help you this time either."
"I'm not here for that," the blonde vampire answered him, crossing her arms over her chest defensively.
"Then what are you here for? You're one of the last people I want to see."
Though she didn't let it show, the infliction of pain behind his words went straight through her. She didn't know anything about the grand plan to complete Jeremy's hunter's mark until it was too late. She was never part of the planning process, only used when needed, left hurt or captured while her friends gloated about their victory.
Her mind traveled back to the whole reason why she had left the boarding house in the first place.
Twenty minutes ago...
"You did what?!" Caroline belted to the others in the Salvatore's living room. "Are you crazy?! Do all of you have a death wish?!"
"Easy, Blondie." Damon smirked, knowing how much that nickname got under her skin. "We have it taken care of. No big deal."
He walked nonchalantly up to her, patting her cheek reassuring her. She slapped his hand away from her face, and her body recoiled under his unwanted touch.
"Don't touch me!" Caroline practically growled the words out before turning and walking across the room to where Bonnie and Jeremy stood.
The last thing she wanted was another fight between them. She couldn't help but think maybe standing up to him would drive home the insanity that all of them have dived down into. Caroline calmed herself down though, not wanting any more confrontation. Damon always had a way of getting to her and after her transition and his compulsion wore off, he had not been one of the people on her favorite list.
"Hey now, don't go all crazy bitch on me, Blondie."
Caroline couldn't pinpoint it, but something inside of her just snapped. She flashed over to the eldest Salvatore and pushed him, causing him to fly across the room. He landed on the coffee table, glass breaking everywhere. Within seconds she was on top of him, her hand firmly around his throat, squeezing as hard as she could. Her fangs elongated, piercing her gums, as the dark veins formed around her eyes, which held a fury in them that Damon rarely saw.
Damon should have been able to easily overpower her, being older and with more experience, but the anger that fueled the blonde vampire allowed her to hold him to the ground. Something raw, exposed, and deadly spurred her on, allowing the beast inside of her, the one she kept hidden, to take over.
Her hands were still firm around his neck, cutting off his air. Just as she was getting the satisfaction of watching the light fade from his eyes, Stefan pulled her off of him. Everyone looked on with shock, none of them thinking that Caroline was capable of such an attack. Sure, she was scrappy and less deterred than as a human, but she usually didn't lash out.
Even Bonnie, with her new powers, didn't do anything to stop the attack, which was understandable seeing as she held disdain for Damon just as much as Caroline did. Jeremy held a look of indifference, but he had his crossbow up just to be safe. Elena, protective over the elder Salvatore, came over to Damon scanning his body for any injuries, giving disapproving stares towards her supposed friend.
"You need to calm down, Caroline," Elena urged her.
She shook herself out of Stefan's hold, her body fuming.
"I should calm down? Seriously?!" Caroline rubbed her hands over her face. "You know what, I should be calm because I had no hand in this. I'm not the guilty one here. So when Klaus comes after you, which he will, don't come running to me for help."
"It was the only way to complete the hunter's mark, Caroline. We needed to do this to find the cure," Elena tried to explain.
The Cure. The Cure. The fucking Cure!
That's all everyone seemed to talked about these days and Caroline was sick of it.
"To what end, Elena?!" Caroline asked, waving her arms expressively close to unleash her fury again. "There had to have been another way besides killing Kol."
The room darkened as a few light bulbs popped within their fixtures around the room. "You need to calm down, Caroline." Bonnie said slowly, but firmly.
"Bonnie, you have to see reason," Caroline pleaded to her friend, "or has the expression gone to your head and made you irrational?"
The Bennett witch's gaze turned cold as she concentrated on Caroline's skull, sending unimaginable pain coursed through the vampire's veins.
To Caroline, it felt like someone was splitting her head in two. She crumpled on to the floor clutching her head in pain. An incoherent groan escaped her lips at first but as the pain continued her pleas escalated into screaming. Dammit, she wanted it to stop!
This spell had been cast upon her before, but this was far worse. This was a whole new level of magic.
Jeremy had seen enough and placed himself between Bonnie and Caroline, placing both of his hands on her shoulders. "Bonnie, that's enough. You're hurting her. You're hurting Caroline. Stop."
"She was going to hurt, Elena. Stay out of this, Jer." Bonnie ground out between clenched teeth, her powers increased dangerously. Sounds of bone cracking and blood vessels popping could be heard from the young vampire, making Caroline cry out in agony.
"Bonnie, please!" Caroline screamed.
Bonnie's concentration finally broke as guilt ate at her core. She didn't mean for this. She was only trying to protect those she cared about. "I'm so sorry, Care. I didn't mean to. You gave me no other choice."
Caroline was still slumped on the floor recovering from the witch's attack. She was healing slowly, but she made herself get up from the floor as her blue eyes simmered with a mix of sadness and disappointment. "You always have a choice Bonnie, and I can see now which way it went."
"Come on, Bon," Jeremy urged, taking the witch's hand in his, "let's get out of here. You need rest."
Still racked with guilt, Bonnie turned away from Caroline who was steadying herself on a side table and went towards the front door with Jeremy.
The tension was so thick that it was suffocating. The silence in the room was deafening, and Caroline hated it. She had always hated those awkward, stressed filled moments.
"Caroline, it had to be done. There was no other way." Stefan tried this time to explain their reasoning and make her see it as truth.
"Not you too, Stefan." Caroline always felt a special bond with him and considered them to be good friends, but she couldn't condone this. "Once that spell wears off, he's going to be coming after all of us. You have effectively pissed off a thousand year old hybrid who won't think twice before killing the people responsible for offing his brother."
They all looked at her with blank expression. Why wouldn't they listen to her? 'Because to them your opinion doesn't matter Caroline,' she berated to herself.
That was when Damon spoke again. "Well, not all of us, as you pointed out earlier. And, I'm not just saying that due to your lack of involvement."
She saw this suggestion coming from a mile away, and just like everything else that came out of Damon's mouth, she was tired of hearing it. She was not going to be used again for his gain.
"No way, Damon. I'm not doing it." She flat out refused. "You got yourself into this mess therefore I'm sure you can think of a way to get yourself out."
"Come on, the guy was practically asking me for advice about how to win you over." Damon grinned as he saw her interest perk. "Plus, we all know how you love the attention."
That was the last straw. She fumed, clenching her hands at her sides, wishing she could wrap them around his neck again.
"It could work," Elena's small voice came from behind her.
Caroline rounded to face her friend. "No."
Elena stepped around Caroline, going to stand next to Damon to form a front against the blonde. "You wouldn't do this for us…for me?"
That was it. Whether it was the sire bond or Elena just being selfish, Caroline didn't care. She had enough. The room seemed to be closing in on her and the air around her became heavy. Caroline was on the brink of cracking. "Just shut up, damn it! All of you, just shut up!"
Her outburst echoed throughout the boarding house. Elena and the brothers staggered back away from the young vampire who was boiling with anger. Her blue eyes blazed with a fire that was rarely accessed. They pushed her to her limit.
"I'm done! I've had enough!" She ranted going straight towards the door.
"Caroline! Don't go. We need your help. Don't you want to find the cure? It could help all of us." Elena begged, hoping for Caroline to stay.
How dare Elena ask this of her? That hypocritical little… Caroline was working hard to hold it back, but the reins of her mind made it difficult. It was too hard to keep it all in and the last thing she wanted was to snap again, but she couldn't help it. Not anymore.
"No, Elena. Not all of us, only you. You meant it could help you. That's what you're saying." Her words were laced with a bitter tone.
Elena's face contorted with the hurt. Caroline's heart ached for her friend, but only for a moment. The truth was harsh, no matter how she would have worded it.
"I think you've said enough, Barbie." Damon warned, putting himself protectively between Elena and Caroline. When he saw that she wasn't going to attack again he made a move to grab her arm. Caroline radiated an anger that was unfamiliar to her, and that anger grew with each step he made toward her. Her face held an expression of disdain and her hands twitched, just wanting to give in the urge to break his neck for the hell of it.
With a devilish smirk a thought passed through her clearing mind, 'Oh, why not?'
With quick and fluid movement, she flashed over to Damon and twisted his neck. She heard the sickening crack of the bones, but it didn't faze her.
Moving her hands together, as if she was removing imaginary dirt from her hands, she exhaled fully. "So that's how you shut him up."
Elena flared up and yelled. "What the hell?! What is wrong with you?!"
Caroline was not surprised by her friend's reaction. In turn she simply turned to Elena and spoke. "How nice of you to finally care enough to ask what's wrong, though it is a little too late in my opinion, but here is goes. I'm tired. I'm so tired of all it. This town. The drama. Everything!" Her voice began rising slowly. "Excuse me if I just want to get away from the same fucking mantra. I'm tired of giving everything and getting nothing in return. What does it give me in the end?" She paused for effect. "Jack with a side of Squat! It always comes down to one thing: you. Elena Gilbert. So excuse me, but I don't care what any of you do with the cure. Just as long as you leave me the hell out of it!"
She turned on her heels and spanned the last ten feet to the front door. Slamming the heavy wood behind her, she took in a deep breath of the fresh night air before crossing the front lawn.
Before she could make it off of the property she heard footsteps running after her. She already knew that it was Stefan.
"Caroline, please come back." Stefan pleaded.
Caroline wanted to. The small part of her that loved her friends and would do anything for them wanted to turn around, but the tired, unappreciated part of her won.
Stopping her forward motion she waited for him to catch up and as much as she wanted to snap at Stefan, she couldn't do it. He didn't deserve it, but she was going to be honest with him. She cared for him that much.
"Stef, I can't. Please don't ask me again." She wanted to end this briefly.
"We can talk about this." He tried to console her.
"What else is there to talk about? It would be a waste of time. I meant every word I said in there. I'm tired. I'm done." There was a determined finality in her voice that made Stefan really take a good look at his young friend.
Knowing now that arguing with her was futile, he spoke once more to try to at least help her out. "Care, please. Is there anything I can do?"
She sighed and looked into his forest green eyes. "Just protect them. They're going to need it. All of them will. And you know what? You were right."
Confusion settled on his face. "What about?"
"That night when we were talking all of the bad stuff that has happened. What you all did today proves that your theory was right. We're no better than Klaus when it comes down to it. The only difference between him and us is that we have people to care about and talk to. Him…thanks to you, has one less person in his corner." Without another word she turned around walking away from Stefan and headed for town.
"What are you going to do?" He called out to her.
"I don't know." That was the only answer she could give him.
Caroline came back out of her thoughts, still standing a good distance from Klaus, not wanting to get trapped in the barrier with him.
As soon as the witch's spell was dropped, hell was going to break loose. Klaus was just itching to kill the two Gilberts' in retribution, but the blonde vampire still held his attention.
"That still doesn't explain anything. Why are you here?" Klaus asked with anger in his voice but grief written across his face.
Caroline shook her head not knowing the answer herself. "To tell you the truth, I don't even know."
"I'm not one to play the fool, Caroline. You really expect me to believe that you came here of your own free will?" The hybrid sneered at her.
Honestly, she didn't. She didn't expect him think anything of her or of her being here. She had no right to after all her friends had done.
"No, I don't. But you can take it or leave it for what it is." She hoped he could see the honesty in her eyes. She didn't blame him for feeling the way he did. The Salvatore brothers would have acted the same way if the shoe was on the other foot, though she didn't know who out of Stefan and Damon would have acted out worse.
"Well, since leaving is not the choice I seem to have at the moment, I guess I am stuck with you then." Klaus remarked. The beast inside of him demanded vengeance. His thirst for revenge would only be quenched when he had Caroline's friends' blood rain down over the small town of Mystic Falls. The image of his little brother bursting into flames kept repeating in his mind. Never ceasing to stop, no matter how hard he wished for it.
Caroline would never understand the pain of losing a sibling, but she did understand loss, far too well.
"If you're here to give me pity, I suggest you leave before I do something I might regret." The last thing he wanted to do was hurt her, but the softer side of him that cared for Caroline was being dominated into submission with anger and pain. His body kept shaking with the urge to kill. The monster inside of him kept clawing its way up.
Caroline wasn't the only one who noticed. She still remembered the first night she was a vampire. The urge to kill was so hard to defeat. A person can only hold it off for so long, but she knew what could ease his mood.
He needed to feed.
She knew what she had to do.
Carefully, she made the first step through the barrier, being rather confused as to how she was able to get through. She wasn't the only one confused, but she couldn't focus on Bonnie's containment spell right now. She was stepping into the wolf's den, and he was hungry and angry.
Putting on a brave face, she slowly made her way over to Klaus. He remained unmoved, restraining himself from lashing out at her.
Pulling up her sleeve, she pressed her perfectly manicured nail into her wrist, feeling the skin give under her strength. Just the coppery smell of blood enticed Klaus, but Caroline's blood called out to him, making it more tempting than ever. It was so beguiling like a moth to a flame.
"Do you have even the slightest idea of what you are doing, love?"
She scowled at the redundant question. Of course, she knew what she was doing.
"You need to feed, and I refuse to be responsible for your actions of the very grim future after what happened. I'm giving you a choice. You can't hunt being stuck in here with the spell intact," she tried to reason with him. She knew she was crossing certain lines doing this, but there was no other way. It would take too much time to find blood bags, and she was too tired as it is; which left her with this option.
"I'm sure you know how rather…intimate blood sharing is." He watched some of her blood run from the open cut and pool in the palm of her hand, like a crimson offering to him.
Oh, she was completely aware. After what she heard from Stefan about the Elena drinking from Damon, she had a good idea of what she was doing, and what it would entail. Blood sharing was the last thing she wanted to do with Klaus, but a thirsty hybrid was worse than - she already knew how delicate the situation was.
Caroline impatiently snapped. "Just drink before I change my mind."
Without a moment of hesitancy, he closed the distance between them. His eyes changed from stormy blue to fathomless black and gold as he brought her wrist to his mouth with his hands, savoring the euphoric taste of her blood. He backed them up into a wall next to the fireplace, sending framed pictures crashing to the floor.
With her back against the wall, she looked down to where his lips were touching her skin and saw the vulnerability that was sewn into his face. She found his transformed face almost handsome; his canine fangs gleaming in the light and dark lines running under his eyes. The fangs sliced deeper into her skin as he dug for more and more of her precious blood. Caroline felt the sting of his venom enter her bloodstream as he reopened her healing wound. His eyes even darkened as he dove deeper into the unexpected pleasure. He latched himself to her as if he hung on for dear life.
The part of blood sharing that she dreaded hit her like a tsunami. She could feel his desperation. All of his raging emotions: primarily anger, confusion, and regret came rushing over her.
Caroline felt him open her wrist once more with his fangs, winching at the slight pain, but she ignored it; she was used to someone taking from her. It didn't hurt her so much anymore.
Her eyes widened as she was hit again with an onslaught of emotion to the point that they were almost overpowering her. Klaus drinking from her brought out something she had been drastically trying to put down. She never voiced it, but the attraction between the two of them was there. It was easy to ignore it before, but this brought it to a whole new level. It was to a point where she could no longer deny the pull they felt towards each other. It left her mind in a haze. It was almost like having him joined to her, as if his mind was touching or merging with her own.
She felt as if she was betraying everything that made up her being. Everything that kept her grounded was slowly becoming unglued.
He leaned in closer to her. Her mind so hazy from his consumption of her blood that she had no other choice than to hold on to him as he drank. The arm that was not attached to his lips wrapped around his shoulders, steadying herself between his firm body and the wall. It was then she felt something wet fall onto the skin of her hand. Klaus released himself from her wrist. His golden eyes were glazed over as trails of blood dried over his lips.
This was when she finally saw where the moisture had come from. There were wet trails of tears down his face.
Her heart broke for him.
She didn't have to walk into the kitchen to see what had made Klaus react this way. She already knew.
He sunk into his knees, his arms hung limply at his sides. 'Why?' He questioned himself. His thoughts ran through his mind. Why did he have to be so weak? Why could he never protect his family? Even since the beginning, he couldn't. First Henrik, then Finn, and now Kol.
He didn't know whom he wanted to kill more. The vampire who came up with the plan or the hunter who welded the white oak. No, death would be just a luxury compared to the torture he would unleash on them for taking away another member of his family. Still, which one? His former two-timing blood bag or her younger annoying hunter of a brother?
'Decisions, decisions,' he thought. Who to choose?
Caroline's heart ached for his loss. No one deserves this, not even a man as twisted and complicated as Klaus. She coaxed him closer to her as his hybrid eyes faded back to their original state. He remained silent as she enveloped him in an embrace. "I'm not leaving you."
Those four words were all it took to break him. He held onto her like a child would cling to its mother. A sob escaped his throat as he cried, his head resting on her abdomen. Caroline didn't make a sound, except to hum a lullaby her mother used to sing to her when she was little and needed comfort.
She had no idea how long they stayed like this, with her holding him close, and him gripping onto her like she was his salvation. The last time they had this close of contact was when on her birthday, when Klaus saved her from Tyler's hybrid bite. Finally his sobs relented and all she could hear from Klaus was his slow labored breathing, hoarse from his pain.
"You know, Kol said he was coming after me next," his voice cracked as he looked up to meet her compassionate eyes.
"No, I didn't."
"Despite all of the silly things between us, I wanted to save him. But, I couldn't. I was too late. I'm always too late." His voice rose as he spoke through clenched teeth, a few more tears slipping down his rough cheeks. Caroline shushed him gently slightly rocking a little bit as she rubbed the circles on his back.
"I'm sure you did what you could for him. You are not to blame for his death." Caroline fully believed the words she was uttering.
"Everything I do for them is never enough. I'm not enough! No matter how hard I try." His inner turmoil was starting to show now, and Caroline's eyes pricked with tears of her own. Seeing him like this brought her inner demons to the forefront of her mind, but she didn't let them show. It wasn't about her tonight.
"I'm always going to be alone. Maybe it's…better this way," he said brokenly.
She had to put an end to the self-deprecating talk, if it continued it would only make him angrier.
Placing her hand on either side of his face, she brought his full attention to her. "Now you listen to me, and you listen well. You're not alone. You still have family, Elijah and Rebekah are still here."
'…and me…' she added silently in her thought.
Things were not going to be the same after tonight and she knew full well that her next actions would forever be on her head now, but she didn't care. Maybe this is what she needed to start doing more often. Only caring for herself. But tonight she would care for another and be the compassionate young woman that Klaus had come to respect time and time again.
Caroline could care less about their differences, and she didn't want to imagine the horrors he had suffered. At least for tonight she could do it. Tonight all she wanted to do was focus on comforting him before life would take a grimmer turn.