Author's Note: Hello happy readers! This fic starts off immediately after the Klaroline scene in 4x23, and is canon compliant except for one very significant change-no pregnant Hayley. I tried to write around it, but every time I thought about it I just got this weird tension headache. Does that make me a lazy writer? Possibly, but at least I don't need the aspirin! Read the note at the end for more details!

Disclaimer: The Vampire Diaries and characters are the property of Warner Brothers and Julie Plec.

Let's get out of this town tonight
Nothing but dust in the shadows
Gone by morning light
Somewhere we won't ever get caught, ever be found
Baby, let's just get out of this town

For once, Mystic Falls was silent.

That was the only thing she could think of, that the small town was finally silent. No vengeful ghosts trying to rip apart her friends. No witches crippling her from the inside out in retribution. Just a dark night, an empty street, and silence.

Caroline hated it. Silence was what was left when the final door had slammed after her parents' fights. Silence was the only thing that kept her company when her mom started working longer and longer hours, leaving her alone in an empty house. Silence was what she heard when she laughed too loudly and the cute boy she liked wasn't even looking her way. Silence meant loneliness.

There's just one problem with her analogy – Mystic Falls is silent, but she's definitely not alone.

Turning her head slightly, she glanced at Klaus' face, trying to make out what he was thinking. The horrors of the day were behind them and all that was left was an empty street and their respective cars which they had now arrived at. Things had thankfully been uneventful for them after the graduation ceremony, no hybrids had come after him and the witches hadn't dared try anything against her again.

(Apparently, it was possible to be scared of Klaus even in death. And though she'd never admit it to anybody ever, the thought of someone that intimidating walking arm in arm with her gives her this little tingle, though she's not totally sure what it means. Allure of darkness, she supposed.)

Klaus looked introspective; he was calm for what she thinks is the first time since she's known him. Maybe it's the warm summer air, the deserted streets, or possibly (probably) it's because of her. Once they came up to her car, there's nothing more they can really do, just idle around awkwardly until he finally decided to break the ice.

"Well sweetheart, I suppose this is where I say my proper goodbye." He idly drummed his fingers on the top of her car, looking unsure of himself for once. A formal 'goodbye' is somewhat out of his depth, and it's not something he'd ever anticipated having to say to her. So wrapped up was he in his inner musings that he almost missed the little flinch she gave at his words.

"Caroline, are you alright?"

Caroline was absolutely sure that the Klaus standing in front of her was the real thing, she didn't care how good Silas was as getting in people's heads, there was no way he would stand around in a football field and make a joke about the subtlety of her graduation invitation. Still, the encounter she had shared with him in the woods rang clear in her head.

"Sorry, it's just… what you just said, about saying goodbye, it sort of reminded me – well , it reminded me of something Silas said," she admitted nervously, noting the way his fists clenched.

"And what exactly did he say?"

"Well, he was pretending to be you," she said, and Klaus inhaled sharply, eyes narrowing, "and he gave me this speech about how he never intended to leave without saying goodbye and wanted me to come with him to New Orleans. It was totally unnecessary, he just wanted to know where Bonnie was so I don't even know why he bothered…" she trailed off, trying to sound nonchalant, but now she was having trouble meeting Klaus in the eye. As much as she didn't want to admit it (to him, to herself) those words had left an impression.

"For what it's worth, Silas spent a good a deal of time in my head so I suppose it would be only natural that he caught on to a few of my…inner sentiments" he said softly, confirming her suspicions.

'Go figure. Silas had been telling the truth.'

"But I meant what I said; I know that you're probably not ready to leave."

She nodded absentmindedly, a rote reaction to anyone who brought up the subject of leaving Mystic Falls. It was something that would happen eventually, but not now, definitely not now…right?

'My friends are here. I'm needed here. I have to stay here.'

Caroline felt the warmth of him standing close in front of her, and suddenly it becomes a little too much. "So, I guess it's off to New Orleans then!" she chirped, trying to lighten the air. He smirked, darting his eyes away and probably imagining a town full of people and music that was definitely never this quiet.

"I do have a kingdom to reclaim," he said with a smirk. "I suppose all that's left to say is…goodbye, Caroline."

She wondered if he was going to kiss her cheek again (so softly, so sweetly,) but their pleasant conversation and her good mood seemed to have emboldened him, and he tugged her forward into his warm embrace, pressing a short kiss on her hair before letting her go. There's a little pang in her chest as she realized that they probably won't be doing this for a long time, no more banter or quiet moments with the one person she was slowly beginning to understand. She was losing a friend – or something of the sort. Tyler would come back, Klaus would concentrate on whatever the hell he had going on in Louisiana, and that was how she knew it should be, but that doesn't help the sinking feeling in her stomach.

He opened her car door for her and she got in robotically, looking back up at him through the window once it had closed. For a split second he stood there, taking her in, and she knew the brief look of regret in his eyes mirrored her own. A second later, he was gone.

She should drive home, hug her mom, call her friends for an update on the Silas problem, make sure Bonnie was alright after using all that magic, and then get into bed and sleep for at least twelve hours. Then in the morning, she could find worry about finding some way to contact Tyler and letting him know he could come home.

That's what she should have done. Instead, as she sat in her car going over that short to-do list there's no mistaking the slow creep of anxiety as she realized that all she wants to do is be far away from here, from all of this. She had completed her (less than ideal) senior year, she had prom and graduation, she made the memories she wanted, but what the hell was she supposed to do now? Figure out a way to live as close to a human life as possible in Mystic Falls, watching and waiting for the next disaster to strike? A vampire has forever, but staring into the black abyss that was her future, she's scared and restless and all she knew is that for the first time, her much beloved small town felt absolutely suffocating.

"Hey Bonnie, it's me! Listen, I know you're probably exhausted from last night but I just wanted to see how you were doing, or at least know that you're okay so just call me back as soon as you get this, alright? Love you!"

She hung up the phone in frustration, hoping Bonnie at least responded to this voicemail if she couldn't pick up her phone or reply to one of Caroline's texts. This was supposed to be the first day of the rest of her life, but so far, the 'make-sure-everybody's-fine-and-dandy' checklist was off to a flying stop. As she drove up the driveway to the Salvatore Boarding House she spotted Jeremy Gilbert sitting out front, fingering a piece of paper.



Her car screeched to a halt and she was in front of him within the next second, absolutely stunned to see him. For a wild moment she panicked, wondering if something was wrong with the veil, if the witch ghosts were back and she was halfway through mentally planning a barricade in the mansion before she realized Jeremy was trying to get her attention.

"Caroline – CAROLINE! You can calm down, everything's cool." He was a little too stiff to be reassuring, and upon further inspection, Caroline noticed that his smile was forced and his eyes were blank. Then again, he had been dead, dead-dead, so she decided not to make any presumptions.

"Jeremy…how are you still here? How can I see you if you're still–"

'I'm not dead, Caroline. I'm alive, actually alive," he said quickly, sounding relieved as if he didn't believe it himself.

"But how…"

"It was all Bonnie," he said with a small, proud smile. "She did a spell and she was…incredible. So incredible." His voice trailed off into a whisper and he averted his eyes, fiddling with the paper he was holding. After a moment, he continued. "I was all ready to go back, I wrote this letter for Elena and everything, but Bonnie, she just wouldn't give up," he said in a small voice, swallowing the lump in his throat.

Finally overcoming her shock, Caroline let out a short laugh of joy before throwing her arms around Jeremy and giving him a tight hug. He looked a little dazed as she pulled back but it just made her giggle, for once, something good had happened.

"So is Bonnie here?! Oh my god, that's why she hasn't been returning my calls, she's probably so exhausted, but I just need to check up on her, I can't believe she actually managed to–"

"Actually, Bonnie's gone," said Jeremy, his voice thick. "For the summer," he added quickly, "she went with her mom; they had a lot to talk about with the expression magic and everything." He was looking anywhere but at Caroline, and she figured that it had been a difficult night for him, but she didn't get why he seemed so down. 'Probably sad that he doesn't get to spend more time with Bonnie right away.'

It also dawned on her that Bonnie had left without saying goodbye and that saddened her immensely. She wished she could've given her one last hug, or told her how amazing she was, but she reasoned that she'd have the chance once her friend came back. The past year hadn't been easy for Bonnie, Caroline reminded herself.

"It'll be fine Jeremy; the important thing is that you're back! Congratulations!" she said brightly.

Jeremy managed a small smile at her enthusiasm. Before she could question him further, the front door of the mansion swung open to reveal Damon and Elena.

"Jesus Barbie, could you keep it down? Little Gilbert here can't be seen by anybody in town due to the small fact that most of them were at his funeral, so we're trying to keep his return to the land of the living under wraps." Damon's snark was in full form, but Caroline could hear just a hint of fondness in it and that probably had to do with the wide smile on Elena's face as she stood next to her little brother. Damon came up behind Elena and settled a hand on the curve of her waist, and she leaned into his touch. It was so smooth and so natural that Caroline nearly missed it, but she noticed the matching looks of content on the two vampires' faces and she realized that Elena had finally made her choice.

As a vampire, with no sire bond and full control over her emotions, Elena had chosen Damon. Caroline's eyes widened as she connected the dots and met Elena's wary gaze, who was awaiting her reaction, knowing her friend had caught the gesture of affection. Caroline's mind whizzed through every fight they had had back at the Miss Mystic Falls pageant and she knows that whatever fight she starts now (no matter how much she wants to) will just end in tears and a possibly irreparable friendship. She and Elena were still on rocky ground, every harsh word that had been said in the past few weeks still rang in her head and now that the danger with Silas had passed, she was acutely aware that Elena had never actually retracted any of her statements or offered an apology. Still, everything in Caroline's life was either changing or deteriorating and they had forever to kiss and make up, so for now, Caroline just managed a tight smile and resolved to at least try to be happy.

'God I wish Bonnie was here.'

"Hey guys! So…this is incredible!" she said, gesturing towards Jeremy.

"Yeah, it really is," said Elena, her love for her brother shining through. The four then lapsed into a brief awkward silence before Caroline felt the need to break it.

"So, did either of you guys get the chance to speak to Bonnie before she left? Did you manage to take care of Silas' body?"

"I haven't seen Bonnie since graduation," said Elena sadly. "I guess she really needed a break after everything that happened."

"As for Silas, my baby brother was tasked with dumping him at the bottom of a lake. Since there have been a stunning lack of panicked phonecalls, I'm going to assume he's fine. He's probably far off on the road by now," added Damon.

Caroline frowned, "What do you mean 'on the road'? Where's he going?"

Damon and Elena exchanged a nervous look before Damon explained, "He's just getting out of town for a bit." Even the shameless Damon Salvatore now seemed very interested in the wood on one of the entrance pillars, and Caroline knew instantly why Stefan had left.

She didn't blame him. Not really. She knew how difficult it would've been for him to live in the same house while his ex-girlfriend and brother carried on a relationship, and she could definitely understand the need to get out of Mystic Falls (it was beginning to press on her, more and more by the minute). She just wished he had said something to her, lately, she thought they had been becoming really good friends, so a quick goodbye would've been nice…

'He needs some space. That's all. At least he had Lexi with him.'

The awkward silence was back, which Caroline decided to save herself from. Damon and Elena had each other and Jeremy probably needed time with his sister, so there was nothing left for Caroline to do here except be the elephant in the room, reminding them of Stefan's departure. Mumbling a quick excuse, she quickly sprinted to her car and took off a little too fast, hands clenched a little too tightly on the steering wheel for a girl who was supposed to be happy.

For a vampire, there are few things that are constant but whatever you can hold onto, you cling to tightly because it gives you a sense of normalcy, of comfort. And if there was anything that could be considered safe and constant in Caroline's life, it was Matt Donovan.

As she pulled up to the Lockwood Mansion, Caroline's mojo was back. While she hadn't been able to personally check up on all of her friends, everything seemed to be fine was them, the rest of her life was waiting and she knew that she could count on her favourite football player to cheer her up. Hopefully, he would've had more luck with contacting Tyler. Granted, it hadn't even been a full 24 hours, but she had thought that Tyler would've come running back at the first chance he had. For some reason, there was an odd feeling at the bottom of her stomach when she thought about Tyler returning permanently and it made her uneasy. Tyler was coming home. He was free. And she was happy for him, really, no one deserved to be banished from their childhood home, but she wondered where they stood now. Could they really just go back to being in a relationship with everything that had happened? She realized her mind was going into dangerous territory so she skipped into the colonial mansion, calling out for Matt.

"I'm up here Care!" yelled Matt, his voice drifting from one of the upstairs bedrooms. She sped up to the guest bedroom that Matt had taken over and was surprised to see clothes strewn over every surface, a large suitcase open on the bed with Matt dashing around, tossing things in.

"Uh…Matt? Planning on going somewhere?"

He turned around to face her and gulped nervously. "Actually, yeah. I'm leaving for the summer. Going on a trip. With Rebekah."

"With who?!"

"Rebekah. We were together yesterday and she saved me from that hunter's trap and she said that she would show me all these places if I made it out alive. And then…after everything that happened, I decided to take her up on the offer."

Before she can say anything stupid, Caroline bit her tongue and winced at the taste of blood. It hurt, but at least it distracted her from saying something too bitchy that she would regret.

(She's quite proud of herself. Old, human Caroline would've just run her mouth. New, vampire Caroline had much more tact.)

"Are you out of your mind?!"

(Well, maybe not that much tact.)

Matt frowned and took a deep breath. "Look, Care, I know she's not everybody's favourite person around here. But yesterday, she stayed with me through everything. She tried to distract me from what was happening, she took my place on that bomb and with everything that's been happening with this cure, she's been trying to be a better person. And she means it. Besides, I'm not leaving forever, it's just going to be for the summer. And honestly – I'm really looking forward to it."

Caroline stayed silent through his speech, trying to process what was happening. Her reaction had been immediate but she stopped to think about what Matt was saying. 'She's been trying to be a better person.' Despite the mean girl power struggle the two blondes had had she remembers Rebekah cleaning up after a dance she never even got to attend. She remembers her helping subdue a raging Alaric. And most recently, she remembers Rebekah trying desperately to keep the shards of glass out of Caroline's reach when she had been so intent on harming herself.

(She doesn't even want to touch on the obvious parallels between Rebekah's relationship with Matt and hers with Klaus.)

So, she decided to be a big girl and realized that she was indeed happy for Matt. He would finally be getting out of this town where he had suffered nothing but pain for two years. He deserved it.

"Well then… 'bon voyage'," she said with a soft smile. Matt grinned back before his expression turned serious.

"Caroline, there's something you need to know – I heard from Tyler."

"Oh my god! What's happening, is he coming back?"

"Well, that's the thing. It turns out he's down in Florida, back where he met some werewolves that knew his Uncle Mason. Over the past few months he's become a part of their pack. Apparently it's a big thing for werewolves – or hybrids, I guess. He told me he's built up a whole life down there."

Caroline sucked in a breath. She knew exactly where this was going. "He's not coming back, is he?"

Matt nodded sympathetically. "He told me to tell you how much he loves you, but there are some things he needs to work through. It sounded like he was finally getting some closure on everything that happened here. But just because he can't come back right away, doesn't mean it's forever, right? He said he'd probably be able to come back in a few months."

She nodded absentmindedly, her thoughts a jumbled mess. She understood why Tyler hadn't called her, another goodbye between them would've been too much. Was she sad? A little. But Tyler was happy, he had a family again, and that was something to celebrate. That family may not include her, but then, they had said their farewells, hadn't they? Maybe it was time to move on.

(There's a little part of her, the part that feels guilty as sin that knows she's feeling relief. Relief because she's not feeling so tied down anymore. And she's not exactly sure what she should do about that.)

She shook her head, trying to clear her thoughts and put a smile back on her face as she looked up to face Matt, who was watching her carefully. "It's okay, Matt. He's happy. Everyone's found where they should be. At least for the summer."

Matt came forward and wrapped her up in a warm hug. She held on tight for a moment and closed her eyes, remembering homecoming dances and summers swimming at the lake. Matt was apple pie and the high school dream, and now even he was moving on from this small town. And then, she knew she had to do the same.

"Have fun Matty. Bring me back a souvenir." She pressed a soft kiss to his cheek then stepped back, smiling one more time before leaving and bounding down the stairs. As she stepped through the front door she nearly ran smack into the blonde Original sister herself, who was holding two Styrofoam cups of coffee.

"Caroline, hi. What are you doing here?" Rebekah was the most pleasant she had ever been towards Caroline and it was almost startling to see how happy she was with Matt.

"I was just seeing how Matt was doing after yesterday. And saying goodbye, I guess."

Rebekah tensed, as if expecting some sort of fight to erupt, but Caroline just nodded and walked past to her car. Before Rebekah could close the door though, she heard Caroline calling her.

"Hey, Rebekah? Take care of him, okay?"

Rebekah shot her a reassuring smile and Caroline climbed back into her car. She didn't start the ignition right away, but sat there, building up courage for what she knew she had to do. It was the next natural step. But God, what kind of person was she? Shouldn't she be focusing on taking care on the people left in Mystic Falls, helping them regroup after the hellish year they had had? But she didn't feel free, she felt trapped, and it was giving her anxiety.

She can practically hear Stefan in her head, telling her to breathe, to calm down, because 'everything's going to be okay.' She wished he were here, he'd understand. He'd talk her through this. Her heart constricted as she properly felt the sting of his departure, and she wondered if she couldn't track him down and join him. But that would be unfair to him, he had left for a reason. Everyone was leaving, one way or another.

Maybe it was time for Caroline to leave too.

And she knew just who to leave with.

The sun had just dipped below the horizon by the time Caroline had properly made up her mind and found herself on the front steps of the Mikaelson mansion.

She took a few deep breaths before knocking softly, but was met with silence. She panicked momentarily; after all, why would he hang around this town, what if he had gotten in his car and driven straight back to New Orleans, what if she was too late…

As she raised her hand to knock again, the door flew open and Klaus stood on the other side, smirking.

"Took you long enough," she said haughtily, if only to get some the arrogance off his face and give herself some comfort.

"Forgive me love, I knew it was you by your scent but I couldn't for the life of me guess why you would be here, I expected you to be having a joyful reunion with my hybrid. Care to explain?" Her plan totally backfired because that smirk was now a full blown wolfish grin and if Caroline wasn't so used to it, she swore her knees would shake.

(Because they're not shaking a little now. Definitely not.)

She looked away nervously, tucking her hair behind her ear and realized she had no idea how she was going to go about this. Klaus for his part just crossed his arms and leaned against the doorframe, waiting for her to start. She decided that Miss Mystic Falls was not a coward and took a deep breath.

"Well the thing is, Tyler isn't coming back to Mystic Falls because he's part of a pack. And that's okay, because he's happy and I'm happy for him, and it turns out that everybody is sort of settled for the summer because Elena is officially with Damon which is a little weird but I'm happy for her and Bonnie's off with her mom because she totally needed the break and Stefan finally left which is really, really great because he needed some time to himself and I completely support that, and Matt is apparently off to travel the world with your sister which I thought I'd be weird about but it turns out they're really happy, so I was thinking I should leave too and I don't know if the offer still stands or anything butIwaswonderingifIcouldcomewithyou."

Caroline wondered if being a vampire allowed you to talk faster. At least she hadn't needed breath throughout that incoherent rambling mess. She thought about repeating some of that because Klaus was speechless, just staring at her with his mouth slightly agape.

Actually, it was pretty funny.

She bit back a giggle, which Klaus noticed and frowned at. "Are you playing with me, love? Because if this is your idea of a –"

"I'm serious, Klaus. Mystic Falls… it's my home, but lately I get the feeling I need to leave. So much has happened here, but it's just getting to be too much, and I feel like I need a break. And I remembered what you've always said, and I'm not looking to leave permanently because my mom's still here, and my friends and I'm not ready to say goodbye forever, but right now, for the summer, I think I should get out." It's only when she says it out loud does she realize how ridiculous she sounds. Worse, her words give off the distinct impression that she's using him but she knows that's not true because she would be lying if she said she wasn't looking forward to spending time with him.

Klaus had stood up straight and was now regarding her with a look of pure hope. She swore she could feel butterflies fluttering inside her at the thought of the big bad Hybrid looking like that because of her.

"Caroline Forbes, are you asking me to whisk you away?" His voice is low and seductive and it sends a shiver down her spine but she doesn't want to make any promises she might have to break.

"Nothing funny now," she said, as sternly as she could. "I'm not – this isn't the start of some summer fling, but we're friends, right? As your friend, I was wondering if I could come along. Is that….okay with you?"

He kept the look of adoration and stepped closer to her, putting a hand on her arm as he had done last night. "I would be happy to take you away from here as your friend. I've always liked a challenge." He leaned forward so that he was whispering in her ear, "And just for the record love, we would never just be a fling."

She rolled her eyes at his smug attitude but there's no stopping a smile from spreading across her face. She was going to do it. She was leaving with him. The butterflies have all multiplied like crazy.

As he stepped back (but he still invaded her personal space – she found that she didn't mind it) he looked behind her to her car, "Do you have your luggage with you already?"

"Uh, no, I actually spent most of the day with my friends and then internally debating with myself over whether or not I should do this."

Her honesty, which she knows he's always appreciated, just makes him laugh, "Very well, you go pack and I'll get us tickets on the next flight out of this godforsaken town."

"Actually, I wanted to talk to you about that. If we do this, I was wondering if we could road trip it?"

"A road trip? You actually want to go on a road trip with me?"

"Well, yeah. My dad…well, my dad used to say that a road trip is when you really got to know yourself and whoever you were with. All that time you spend on an open road in a car just listening to music and talking – he told me it was a pretty special thing. The journey was always more important than the destination, so you should make it count, you know? Look, I know it probably sounds stupid but – "

"No, Caroline, not at all. Besides, why wouldn't I want to spend hours in a confined space with a beautiful girl?" His smirk just will not leave his face, but right now, it's actually endearing. Besides, he's indulging an old fantasy of hers, to speed along a dusty highway with the wind blowing through her hair and a handsome boy driving them into the sunset. Granted it won't be the summer love she'd imagined (nope, nuh-uh, definitely not happening) but she's getting more and more anxious to leave by the second.

"Okay, this is great! So, I'm gonna go pack, and say goodbye to my mom and everything and I'll be back tomorrow! Is tomorrow okay? Oh God, you don't have to be in New Orleans right away or anything do you? Because if you do –"

"It's fine, Caroline," he said with a laugh. "Be back here this time tomorrow, and we'll start then. I'll be waiting." His voice is low and sexy again and she wondered for a second if this really was a good idea, but that smile on his face just brings out his dimples and dear God wasn't the accent enough, he just had to have dimples? Before she could do something stupid, she sped back to her car and hopped in, and as she drove away she could see him watching her leave.

For once, she knew she was definitely going back.

She thought she would've taken the chance to sleep in a little the next day, not knowing when she'd next have the comfort of her own bed, but the nerves proved to be too much and she found herself up at the crack of dawn throwing the contents of her closet around her room like a madwoman. She was debating between throwing in another sundress or a pair of jeans when her mom walked in, bleary eyed from sleep and nursing a steaming cup of coffee.

"Are you planning a trip?"

Caroline felt her stomach drop as she realized that in all the excitement of deciding to go with Klaus, she hadn't figured out how she was going to tell her mom about her little vacation. Dropping her clothes she gently led her mom over to her bed and sat down, casting around for some way to make it sound like she was making a well-thought out, rational decision.

(She's not so sure that's even the case.)

"Here's the thing, mom – things have been just so hectic around here and it turns out a lot of people are sort of getting out of town for a while, so I thought I would too. It's not forever! Just for the summer."

'And I'll be going with Klaus.' The words are on the tip of her tongue but she keeps them to herself, not trusting that her mom won't worry like crazy while she's gone. As it was, it took a little more convincing before she could make her understand that this was something she really needed to do. After forty five minutes and several promises that she would call often, Caroline finally knew her mom was going to be okay with her going away and she feels a little lighter about her impending departure.

Knowing that her mom's duties would keep her at the station long into the night, she said her goodbye to her mom then and there, rolling her eyes half-heartedly at the sheriff's stern warnings about keeping safe on the road. It was nice, it was normal; Caroline could pretend that she was any other high school graduate, ready to take a summer to enjoy herself before starting college.

A tearful hug later, Caroline was left with a mess of a room and an overflowing suitcase which she was prepared to do battle with if it meant taking her entire summer wardrobe. After she had wrangled the zipper shut, she set about the task of calling anybody left in Mystic Falls and letting them know of her plans, still leaving out the very important detail of who would be accompanying her. Elena had sounded surprised at her spontaneity, but Caroline could hear Damon in the background and she knew that she was doing the right thing for herself. There was resentment there, no use in denying it. But she could worry about that when she got back.

Bonnie and Stefan were still not returning any calls, though she left them both voicemails. Matt's voice was a blessing and he told her that he was already in New York, spending a weekend there before heading to Paris. He sounded unbelievably happy and Caroline hoped more than anything that soon she'll sound that way too.

Briefly, she wondered if she should feel guiltier, but this was her summer, and she was damn well going to enjoy it.

Just after sunset, she found herself back in front of Klaus' mansion with the hybrid out in front, leaning against his SUV. She parked her own car in the mansion's garage knowing no one would look for it there, and the secret of her travelling partner would stay under wraps for at least the first few weeks of her trip. Lugging her suitcase, she strode over to him, noticing the large grin on his face.

She wasn't sure what she should say to start them off and settled for standing there awkwardly, licking her lips. His eyes darkened almost imperceptibly at the gesture, and it sent a shiver down her spine, but instead of feeling scared, she only felt excited.

"Shall we get going, sweetheart?" She nodded mutely, but he didn't seem to mind her silence. Walking over to the front passenger door he opened it for her and closed it once she was in, then stowed her luggage with his in the trunk. She realized how much she appreciated the little gentlemanly gesture, and a small smile curled her lips at the thought of being treated like this for an entire summer. As he came around to take his place behind the wheel, he noticed her smiling and his face mirrored her growing joy. They stared at each other for a moment, realizing the significance of what they were doing.

'We're going to do this. We're actually doing this.'

With a turn of the key, they were off. The stars were just beginning to light up the night sky and she thought about how odd it was to be starting a road trip so late. Then again, they were both creatures of the night. Maybe this was just right for them.

She exhaled in relief once they sped past the 'Welcome to Mystic Falls' sign and relaxed, knowing no one was able to stop her. Better yet, she hadn't been able to talk herself out of this. Klaus is silent next to her, but she's practically become a study of his moods and she knows he's as pleased as she is. About ten minutes out though, she caught on to what road they were driving on.

"Uh, Klaus? I know we had that argument over geography, but aren't we supposed to be going south to get to New Orleans?"

"Who said we were going to New Orleans?" he replied teasingly, mischief in his eyes as he turned to face her.

"But I thought…don't you have stuff going on there?"

"I do. But Elijah was more than happy to take some time to fully assess the situation between the various supernaturals in that city, and it'll still be there when I choose to make my claim. For now, I see no harm in taking some time to enjoy some sightseeing with a friend." On that last word he shot her that look she knew so well, the one he gives when he's showing her that he's trying to be serious but is laughing inside.

(It made him look like a puppy. Damn it.)

Caroline rolled her eyes at him, "Well, if we're not going to New Orleans, then what exactly did you have in mind?"

"The drive between here and New Orleans is a mere ten hours, and I could stretch that out but I believe you wanted to escape that one pony town for much longer. So Chicago first, I think, it's one of my favourite cities. After that– we'll take the scenic route."

He threw her another slow grin, and it set her nerves on fire, the way his lips curved and eyes lit up. Slowly, she can feel herself returning it, relaxing into her seat, getting comfortable with being so close to him. The headlights cut through the road ahead, but apart from that, they're blanketed in darkness, and Caroline had never felt so at ease around him before. Rolling down her window, she let the wind blow through her hair.

For once, she doesn't mind the silence at all, but she knows it won't last. They've got a long road ahead of them.

Window rolled down with the heat on high
Stars all aligned in a runaway sky
Holding my hand as the miles roll by
Long gone, baby

I hope you enjoyed! Like the earlier note said, Hayley isn't preggers, so while Klaus does want very much to reclaim his kingdom in New Orleans, he's under no immediate impetus to do so; so I would think he'd feel fine with taking the summer to drive around the country with Caroline. And I hope Caroline doesn't seem heartless for her acceptance of Stefan and Bonnie's disappearances, I tried to write it in such a way that she really has no reason to suspect they're anything other than fine.

The chapter title and song lyrics are from Get Out of This Town by Carrie Underwood

Please leave a review and let me know what you think!

Update 9/19/2013: This fic now has an amazing cover, courtesy of the wonderfully talented nfinneman on Tumblr-go check out her blog, it's fantastic!