Strange to think that Caroline, of all people, is the one to knock some sense into her. Once her focus shifts from Stefan the boyfriend to Stefan the doppelgänger, she can finally see what her sister had tried to tell her. It's like a dark shadow descent upon the town, always a beacon for the supernatural, the influx of the last few days a clear warning sign of the danger ahead.
It's frustrating being caught in the dark of what Stefan's existence means to the world. Not knowing how or why they need to be stopped, only that they must. The argument she and Caroline get into over whether or not to tell him nearly tears the house down.
"Name one time," Caroline insists. "In the history of anything, that ignorance has ever protected anyone."
So they tell him and, much to her chagrin, he takes it fairly well. Even jokes about being the luckiest guy in the room having to smoking hot bodyguards watching his back. It's that moment that Rebekah understands he doesn't realize just what kind of protection they had in mind.
"No way," he says with a swift shake of his head. "I've already been locked up against my will, what makes you think I'd volunteer for it?"
"It's this or dead," Caroline says.
"Hiding isn't living," Stefan shoots back.
"I could make you," She threatens, eyes focusing into his.
"Do it," he replies, not stepping down. "And I'll never forgive you."
"At least you'd be alive to hate me."
"I didn't say I'd ha-"
Rebekah clears her throat loud enough to get their attention, refraining from uttering: I'm still here.
Stefan looks at both of them.
"We'll find another way," he says, stepping out of the room and toward the door. "It's still light out, I'm probably safe, and I'm going home. You two can decide who takes first shift or whatever."
He leaves without looking back.
Neither girl moves to stop him.
The sun is just beginning to dip behind the treeline when Rebekah slinks an arm into the sleeve of her jacket, heading for the door and over to Stefan's. Caroline catches her before she makes it past the porch, slips two stakes into her palm, and offers a blade big enough to cut the head off of anything.
"Where did you get-"
"I'm always prepared," Caroline interrupts.
"Yes, I imagine many people have tried to kill you."
Caroline actually laughs at the joke, offering a shrug as if to say 'what can you do?' Rebekah looks down at weapons, knows she will use them however she must, knows that Caroline will too.
"How much do you care?" She asks.
"More than you want me to," Caroline offers. "More than I can help."
"We're going to have to talk about this."
"Let's not, okay?"
Rebekah sighs, putting the stakes in her pocket, and clipping the blade to her belt.
"Maybe it'd be easier if his brother were around," Caroline kids with a lift of her brow.
"I've met Damon," Rebekah says backing away. "You wouldn't get on."
He's not moving. He's not moving. He's not moving.
Her thoughts are a single statement, repeated again and again. Stefan lay on the ground, neck slicked with blood, life slowly fading away.
"No," comes out in a sharp whisper. "No, no, no."
It was a mistake attending the Miss Mystic Falls banquet, she knew it the minute he tried to use his status as a founding family member to guilt her into agreeing. Hard to say no to that baby face, she naïvely thought she and Caroline would be enough to keep him safe.
Lesson learned. Whoever is behind this, their numbers are more, their ambition ravenous. Stefan is dying because she wasn't strong enough.
Hand to his chest, breath slowly fading, she knows what to do.
Gnashing her wrist, she lets a few drops trickle onto his mouth, hope threatening to bloom when his lips part slightly. Pushing closer, she forces more down his throat, each swallow offering encouragement to a light all but faded.
His eyes don't open, but his heart sounds stronger, breathing slow but steady. So relieved, she cups his face in her hands, and presses a kiss against bloody lips.
For one shameful, fleeting moment, she's tempted to just twist and keep him forever.
Caroline is furious.
About what happened to Stefan. About being blindsided. About not being strong enough to stop it.
Rebekah can't blame her anger, feeling ridiculously inadequate herself, knowing her sister suffers from the same insecurities. They don't like being left to feel foolish, useless, or powerless. The events of the last few weeks have done nothing to quell any of these feelings, only a constant slap in the face that they're simply in over their heads.
It took nearly dying for Stefan to fully understand the weight of the situation, now not as resistant to their ideas for his protection. He goes to school, heads straight home, stays indoors. They give vervain jewelry to his closest friends so he doesn't turn into a total hermit.
A kiss goodnight in his doorway, she listens to him bound up the stairs, before turning her attention back to the long drive in front of his house. Caroline rounds the corner, moving to stand next to her on the porch, twirling a stake in her hand.
"All clear in back," she says, still scanning their surroundings.
Rebekah nods, head tilted slightly, listening to the sounds of night.
"We can't do this forever," she says after a few minutes.
Caroline nods her agreement. "Let's just turn him."
"I don't think he wants that."
"Have you two never talked about it?"
Rebekah shakes her head.
"You should know," she starts, castling a sidelong glance. "That I appreciate all that you've done."
Caroline shrugs nonchalantly.
"I mean it."
"I heard you, now shut up."
Rebekah smiles, looking back to the drive and listening for anything out of place.
Katherine and Elena are in the hospital.
Tyler Lockwood, too.
Apparently they missed a lot, skipping the Founder's Day celebration, and the attack that ensued. The company line is some kind of gang activity, but word on the street that was something off about the people doing the damage. No one has to guess as to what exactly is meant by 'off.'
The three weren't involved in the mayhem, however, but a car accident. One, according to Elena, that was caused by some kind of sound only Tyler could hear. Rebekah and Caroline share a look, both victims of that mysterious sound earlier in the night, both wondering just how the hell Tyler heard it too.
Tyler has a bruised sternum and a concussion. Elena has a broken wrist. Katherine worst for the wear with a ruptured spleen and internal bleeding. The doctors aren't sure they can do everything they need to, and Rebekah stands helpless while Elena clings to Stefan sobbing uncontrollably. Stefan's eyes catch hers and she knows what he means to ask.
Elena leaves the room, only under Caroline's suggestion, the bracelet Stefan had given her removed in place of her cast.
"I know it seems like a quick fix," Rebekah says. "But the connotations are so much more than that."
"It's not just one life in the balance here," Stefan says, looking at Katherine's unconscious form. "If she dies Elena will never recover."
He looks to her, to Caroline.
"Please," he says. "They're my oldest friends. They're my best friends."
Rebekah opens her mouth to answer, but Caroline beats her to the punch.
"Fine," she says, moving quickly to close the door. "You two keep a look out. I don't feel like compelling an entire hospital staff because some nosy nurse wants to know what we're doing."
"Thank you," Stefan says with all sincerity.
Rebekah stands there, not saying a word.
She leaves Stefan in the room with Caroline, passing Elena on the way out, heading for the exit feeling like she's just disappointed him in a way he'll say he forgives but never actually does. It burns helplessly at her insecurities, flushing her cheeks scarlet, and putting an extra stomp in her walk.
Five steps outside the hospital when Stefan comes running up, hand to her elbow, pulling her to stop.
"Hey," he says, spinning her to face him. "Where are you going?"
"I needed some air," she says, turning her head away so he can't see the lie written on her face.
"It's okay," he assures, taking her chin in his hand tilting her gaze back to him. "That you didn't want to. I shouldn't have-"
"I would have," she says, putting her hand over his. "I just, I don't know, froze in the moment. But I would have done it for you, Stefan. I would do so many things for-"
He cuts her off with a kiss.
"I believe you."
Rebekah's jaw drops open at the sight.
Stefan and Caroline kissing on his front porch.
She'd think it a nightmare if every detail weren't so vivid. His hand cupping her jaw, her hands clutching his shirt, the push and pull of sheer ecstasy on both their faces. She'd scream if she weren't so stunned, but what pulls her back to reality is the hand squeezing hers.
"What the hell?" Stefan says at her side.
The kiss is broken, Caroline seeing the two of them standing on the walk, and to her credit recoils instantly upon the realization.
"Always a pleasure Caroline," he says with a slight bow.
Kenneth turns to them, offering a snake oil grin.
"You must be Stefan."