and here we are (at the end of all things)
It happens in a blur of pure, unadulterated fear. Caroline moves across the room faster than she can comprehend, thoughts whirling. In the next moment, there is a heart in her hand and gold-green eyes are looking up with a mixture of horror and sickening pleasure. The body of one of The Five falls to the ground, lifeless; dead. She discards the heart almost as an afterthought and leans down to where Bonnie sits, cowering.
"Caroline," Bonnie says, eyes wide, tears staining the rosy tint of her cheeks.
Caroline fights back her own tears. "It's okay," she says, "none of this was your fault." She helps Bonnie to her feet and embraces her, the back of her throat burning from unshed t.
Almost immediately, she is being pulled away harshly by the arm. "You should not have done that," Klaus snarls into her face, his grip tightening on her upper arm. "It was incredibly foolish."
Tyler is also there, glaring holes into Klaus' skull. "Let her go, Klaus," Tyler says, tone unwavering.
Klaus spares him a derisive sneer. "It would be best if you backed off, mate," he growls. "Caroline is coming with me."
"Like hell—" Tyler bites out before Klaus grabs him by the face roughly with his free hand and burns him with a glare.
"You know nothing of the horrors she will have to endure now, all because the friendly neighborhood witch couldn't defend herself," Klaus says, bite to his words as he flickers his gaze to Bonnie, who bows her head in shame. "So pardon me if I don't let all of you and your little friends get her killed." He releases Tyler with a shove and pulls Caroline into his side, dark gaze daring anyone to defy him. "Do none of you lot remember the Elena fiasco?"
Across the room, Elena wilts. "Listen to him, Tyler," she says, eyes pitying.
"Finally," Klaus says, "the doppelganger speaks. Thanks for your lovely input, sweetheart. We'll be going now."
Caroline manages a small smile in her friend's direction before she's hauled from the area, following Klaus' angry gait. Once they are a ways away, Klaus turns on her with an angry scowl. He grips her shoulders a little too tight; she winces. "Listen to me very carefully, Caroline," he says seriously, sea green eyes flashing a thousand different emotions. "You are going to see things. People you love, people you've hurt, and they are going to say horrible, horrible things to you. They are not real. Do you understand me?" He shakes her. "None of it will be real."
She looks at him, eyes dead. "That doesn't mean I won't want to kill myself," she laughs and it sounds horribly hopeless. "I remember what Elena tried to do."
Klaus' gaze darkens. "You are stronger than her, Caroline." He says it with such resolution, such belief, it shakes her to the core. No one ever put her over Elena. Only Klaus; it was only ever him.
"I will fix this, love," he promises as he brings his hand up to cradle her cheek, the press of skin against skin warm. "I promise you that."
She falters and then, "I trust you."
Something in his features shift and the edges around his hard exterior soften. His lips part as if he is going to say something meaningful, but he clamps them shut again, eyes tearing away from her gaze. "Come," he commands, guiding her to his car, opening the door and helping her up.
The drive is long and silent. Caroline watches Klaus, watches the way his eyes narrow and his lips twitch. It pulls at something within her. She sees the worry there, etched into his features, plain as day. And she wonders how, even for a moment, should could have doubted the genuineness of his affections for her.
Though, perhaps, now wasn't the time for that.
The room is windowless and decorated with beautiful art. "This is where you kept Elena," she realizes aloud.
Klaus shuts the door behind him with a soft click. "Yes," he confirms.
"No windows," she notes dully. "So that I don't try to burn myself out of existence." She pauses. "And if I try to stake myself?"
"You won't," Klaus says, voice like gravel.
She turns, tears glistening in her eyes. "And how do you know that?"
He regards her for a moment. "Because I believe you are above suicidal tendencies. There is a light in you that is impossible to snuff out." His lips twist into a frown and he averts his eyes, like he is kicking himself for saying such things. When he meets her gaze again, he has returned to his emotionless default. "I will be back," he states. "Don't do anything foolish."
Caroline tries to smile but fails dismally. "I'm prone to stupid choices, don't you know?"
But Klaus is already gone.
The first hallucination is her father. He appears out of the corner of her eye and he's smiling like he always does. "Baby girl," he says, and oh god, it sounds just like him. Her dad, her wonderful father. "What have you become?"
Caroline swallows the lump in her throat and looks away. He's not real, she reminds herself.
Bill walks around her and kneels at the edge of the bed, right at her knees. "I let myself die, why couldn't you?" he asks.
Caroline looks up, tears flowing freely. She wants to argue with him. But he is not real. He is a personification of her guilt; her shame.
"Don't ignore me, Princess," he continues, reaching up to touch her face. It feels so real. She sobs openly then.
She breaks. "I'm sorry, Daddy," she cries. "I'm sorry."
"Shh, shh," he purrs. "Don't apologize to me. Apologize to Carter."
Caroline blinks and her father is gone. In his place stands Carter, the very first life she took. He's covered in blood; thick, crimson death. She gasps and backs away on the bed. "No, no," she whimpers, guilt swirling upwards and claiming her.
"What's the matter Caroline?" Carter sneers, edging closer to her.
"You're not real," she growls, grabbing a candle holder off the bedside in-table. "Get away from me!"
Carter smirks sadistically. "Going to kill me again? Suck the life out of me? It was okay, right? I was only a Carnie. No one would miss me."
"It shows your character, Caroline; that after I showed you kindness, you ripped out my throat. Why don't you just do us all a favor and kill yourself?" Carter laughs and the sound is ugly, repulsive, mocking. Caroline closes her eyes and wills him away.
"You're not real, you're not real, you're not real," she chants to herself, pulling her knees up into her chest and rocking back and forth.
It is Elena's voice that breaks her mantra. "Poor Caroline Forbes," she says, voice mocking. "Always second place. Never good enough."
Caroline opens her puffy, swollen eyes.
Elena is grinning at her.
"Stefan didn't chose you. Matt still loved me. And Tyler? Well, have you seen Hayley?"
Caroline glares. "You're not Elena," she spits. "Elena would never say those things."
Elena smirks. "Oh no, I'm not Elena," she sing-songs, "I'm who you think Elena is. You're a twisted one, aren't you?"
Caroline doesn't sleep that night.
It isn't until four days later, that the never ending torture stops.
Caroline vows when Klaus walks through her prison door she is going to kiss him senseless.