Title: And the Moth Danced with the Flame (Until They Burned Out Together)
Category: The Vampire Diaries
Word Count: 1,888
Prompt: Picture - dhfreak
Summary: "I've lived forever, Caroline… I've chased you for as long as I can remember… Am I ever going to catch you?"
And the Moth Danced with the Flame (Until They Burned Out Together)
"Are we going to do this forever?" he wonders, his voice nearly a shout over the heavy fall of rain.
She's walking down a cobblestone street, her heels clacking beneath her, but his voice makes her pause. She'd known he was there; she always knows when he finds her. He was across the bar, a glass in one hand, that knowing smirk playing at his lips, a silent invite for them to catch up, for this conversation to play out. But she'd left, stepping out into the rain soaked streets, no umbrella in reach, deciding to put off destiny a while longer. Apparently Klaus wasn't so accommodating.
Stopping, she turns on her heel to face him, her lips pressed in a firm line. "We have forever, don't we?" she returns flippantly.
He raises an eyebrow, but the wry twist of his lips is absent. He's not playing games tonight. "I've lived forever, Caroline… I've chased you for as long as I can remember… Am I ever going to catch you?"
Her eyes fall to the ground, where puddles are collecting, splashing with the onslaught of raindrops. Her skin is soaked through, her hair hanging long and heavy. Water sluices down her face, clinging to her lashes. If she was human, she'd shiver, but she's not and so it's only a minor inconvenience. It's a fleeting thought. She's long past wishing for anything humanity has to offer her. Unlike most of her friends, being a vampire has more ups than downs for her. Especially since she left Mystic Falls, since she started traveling and seeing the world, leaving behind the Elena/Salvatore triangle and the freak of the week out to destroy them.
She's been happy, she's seen more than she ever expected to. Compulsion means she gets the best of the best, wherever she wants, whenever. She can vaguely hear Stefan's chastising voice in the back of her mind telling her not to use her powers for evil. She doesn't think free anything is evil, it's not like she's really hurting anybody.
With great power comes great responsibility… Hm, maybe she's mixing up movie wisdom with Stefan wisdom. She should probably call him. She usually does after an Encounter of the Klaus Kind. He's always warning, exasperated, telling her she should stop playing with fire. She's not sure how to tell him that she can't, that maybe she doesn't want to, that she likes fire. Stefan's her best friend, but there are some things she just can't explain to him.
It's been decades since she started traveling, decades she's spent living every moment to the fullest. But every few years, she finds herself here, within touching distance of him, and she has to question herself again, she has to question her life and whether or not it's as fulfilling as it can be.
The thing is, once upon a time, she was the girl who never felt like she was enough. The girl always looking for a boy to love her. And she found them, over and over again, until they realized she wasn't normal and they couldn't deal, or they found someone more their speed, or her insecurities got the better of her. She's stronger now. She doesn't need a man, but… does she want one?
Klaus is not average. He can be dangerous, scary even, and she thinks sanity should discourage her from getting too close, but it never does. So they find themselves here, two travelers meeting at random; he tells her it's serendipitous, but she sometimes wonders if he plans it. He fancies her, he tells her, he always has. Never stops. He goes back to his life when she tells him she's not done searching; for what she doesn't know, but she hasn't found it yet. He gives her space, reminds her that they'll find each other again, with that nagging grin of his that promises one day he won't walk away alone, one day he'll leave with her hand tucked in his.
"Have you found it yet?" he asks her.
She stares at him, the rain has soaked him through; his shirt clings to his chest, his arms, and she bites her lip. She's always been attracted to him; not just physically, but emotionally and mentally. He's more complicated than just the cruel villain title he's usually given. Daddy issues, mommy issues, whole family issues, and don't even get her started on that whole trust thing. It's not an excuse really, because she's had her fair share of crap, but she gets it. She gets him.
Didn't she tell him once that anybody who loved could be saved?
She wasn't lying.
She was in love with Tyler at the time, yes, but there was always something, a pull, a desire, a need that drew her to him. Like a moth to a flame, Stefan would tell her. He would be her death if she let him.
But as she stands there, staring at him – he who wants her to see that they can be happy together, but is still willing to walk away and leave her to her wandering if she asks him to – she thinks he's not the flame. She is. He is the moth that dances within reach of her fire and whenever he gets close she flickers away.
They are standing in rain, and she thinks she's done flickering. Done searching. Done wandering.
"I'm not lonely," she tells him, her brows hiked high with purpose. "I'm not afraid or confused and I don't need a hero to come in and save me."
He nods, his lips pressed in a frown, as if he's waiting for her dismissal, as if that's all he has to offer.
"I'm happy, I'm free, and I can do anything I want…" She smiles widely, throwing her hands up. "I'm not naïve little Caroline, begging for a boy to love her!"
"You shouldn't have to beg… They should fight for you. They should be honored that you even care about them." He stares searchingly. "I know how strong you are, Caroline. I've never doubted that." He walks toward her slowly, his shoulders wide, his gait confident. He doesn't look like a predator stalking its prey, but a man meeting his equal. "I have loved you even when I knew you could never love me… When I knew I would never be worthy… I tried to be what you needed, what you wanted, but I can only be who I am… I can only try so much." And he looks truly remorseful for that, like all of his trying has done nothing to better his odds.
"I wasn't ready for you." She shakes her head, her eyes burning as she laughs thickly. "I needed to be on my own. I—I needed to know who I was before I could ever…"
He cocks his head curiously. "Have you figured it out yet?"
She stares at him, blinking against the rain that falls in her eyes. "We don't know this will work…"
He grins then. "I know it will."
She laughs, rolling her eyes, and shakes her head at his certainty; it's not arrogance, though he plays it well. She can see it in his eyes though, how strongly he believes that they were always meant to find their way back to each other. That it was always supposed to be her for him and him for her.
"How'd you find me?" she wonders. She holds up a finger to stop him before he can answer, her eyes wide with warning. "And be serious this time!"
"I don't follow you, if that's what you mean… I don't have anyone else follow you either." He looks around, smiling faintly at the bright city that surrounds them. "I just frequent places I think you'd love… Places I think you'd flourish in."
Her chest warms and she can barely hold back her smile.
He sees it. "You think I don't know you…" He walks forward until he's just inches away. "I've never known anyone better than I know you." His hands find her arms and squeeze lightly. "Maybe you don't need me… but I hope you'll have me."
She thought she'd stopped fighting when she left Mystic Falls, but she realizes now that she didn't. She's been fighting him, keeping him from getting too close, and it's a battle she was never going to win. One she's not even sure she wanted to win. So she gives up, she waves the white flag, and she feels relief flood through her.
"I've got a room here for a few more days. After that, I was thinking… somewhere warm, a beach maybe. Interested?"
He grins. "I have the perfect place in mind."
She raises an eyebrow and scoffs knowingly. "Let me guess, you own the perfect piece of beach property I could ever imagine and you're going to whisk me away to paradise!"
He laughs under his breath, ducking his head slightly. "Something like that."
She nods, chewing her lip. "Let's do it then… Paradise, here we come."
He sobers a little and meets her eyes. "You're sure about this? I'm not going to wake up tomorrow to find you've jetted off somewhere else…"
Reaching up, she presses her hands to either of his cheeks, the faint whiskers rough on her palms. "I'm sure."
He searches her eyes a moment before leaning down to kiss her. Caroline lifts up on her tip toes as she meets his lips, her hands sliding down to fold behind his neck. He's warm and firm and somehow, decades fill that moment, until each swipe of their lips is like a thread of tension breaking under the weight of them. His teeth scrape and his tongue soothes and hands slide over soggy clothes to draw her in, pull her close. Their chests press together and her fingers slide up into his hair, scratching his skin lightly. Each time he exhales, she inhales, and she feels dizzy with it. With him and the moment and the decision she's come to.
When he finally draws back, his forehead it still pressed to hers, his nose fitting atop the bridge of hers. Her hands slid down, feel his chest heaving under her palms, and settle at his waist, fingers hooked in the loops of his jeans.
She can feel his breath panting against her lips and she wants to keep kissing him, to let the city fade away as she wraps herself around him, sinks herself into everything he is. This is a long time coming and she doesn't want to waste it anymore. It's funny, how she didn't know she missed him until she had him.
She's been content for years now, fulfilled with her traveling and her exploring. But now she feels like she finally understands that there was something missing, some little Klaus shaped piece of her that only now found its place. She feels whole and at peace. Caroline doesn't know if they'll last, if the rest of forever is going to be spent with him, but she wants to find out.
"Ready, love?" he asks.
She opens her eyes and meets his. "Ready."
When they walk away then, toward a future with so many possibilities, her hand is tucked in his, and the victory is mutual.