Fandom: The Vampire Diaries (Show'verse)
Warning: Mentions of canon events including non-con
Spoilers: Season 1, Season 2 though 2.12
Posted to: tvd_fic
Challenge: Written for Vampire Diaries Exchange, recipient eenaangel
Summary:Caroline knows she's living many lies.
She understands why Matt broke up with her.
After all, she deliberately made it happen. She set out to make it happen, and it did.
Matt had always been wary of her need to show the people around them that they were in a relationship. In the beginning, even holding his hand at the wrong time made him feel that she was being ridiculously possessive, that she was trying in some way to stake a claim on him.
But, if you cared about someone, didn't it make sense that you wanted to show that affection around other people? That you might want to hold your boyfriend's hand? That you might take it badly if you saw a girl you knew had a crush on your boyfriend flirting with him?
She'd known, when she warned Amy off, that Matt would end things. It was why she'd done it so publicly, after all.
Deep, deep down inside, though, she doesn't think it should have been that way. She sees Elena and Stefan, who even broken up can't go five minutes without either getting a text or running off to ensure the other is OK. She sees Alaric's soft touches and Jenna's sweet hugs, the demonstrations that make a new relationship special, and it makes her think that Matt gave her up much too easily. How could he just end it, if he really did care about her? If he'd really wanted her?
The truth is, she doesn't understand at all.
She's only involved with Tyler because she has to be.
She and Tyler had never been friends. They'd known each other all their lives, but had never really clicked despite both being part of the founding families, attending all the same functions, going to the same schools.
Maybe it was the overwhelming familiarity, or maybe it was just that Tyler was a dick and Caroline had never been someone to put up with that.
(Damon didn't count.)
Whatever it was, it had kept Caroline and Tyler at loggerheads all their lives, until that fateful moment when Sarah had died. Then, taking responsibility for keeping an eye on him just in case had just seemed smart. After all, as a werewolf, his bite could kill her. Someone had to make sure he didn't find out about the other vampires. Better her than the alternative. Better her than Tyler, dead.
But now, curled around Tyler's shaking body, stroking his sweat-soaked hair with trembling hands, she strove to let him know through soothing touch and soft words that she was with him, that he was going to be okay, that he was not alone. He'd become, in that night of shared terror and the frantic days before, more than just the annoying boy who she'd been forced to deal with all her life. He was more than just an assignment, more than she'd ever expected. They were linked by this experience, irrevocably, intimately changed. Forever.
She was helping him because he was her friend, and she couldn't do it any other way.
She is nothing like her mother.
The whole time she was growing up, Caroline knew that she came second in her mother's life. Through the years of her mom fighting with her dad, the topic was the same. Caroline's mother was too focussed on her job, too little home. Too little involved with their lives.
She swore that in her life, she would be present, damn it. She would be there for her friends, there for the people she loved. No matter what, she would always put them first.
She'd show her mom what love was supposed to look like.
Staring into her mother's eyes, watching the pupils dilate as Caroline stole her memories, she cried. Because in order to protect them all, she had to turn this part of her mother away. She had to turn her back on the acceptance that they'd finally found when all the secrets were stripped away. In order to protect the people she loved, she had to deny the only family she had left.
She cried for the innocence she left behind, and the understanding she'd gained. She cried for how Elizabeth had really been putting Caroline first all along. It broke her heart to .know the sacrifices her mother had made, how she'd pushed Caroline away to keep her safe.
And now, Caroline was just like her.
She hated everything Damon did to her when they were together.
The memories had started coming back pretty much immediately after she'd turned. It was such a horribly innocuous word for such a traumatic experience, but it was all she had.
She'd remembered her terror that very first night, when Damon had looked down at her in her bed and shown her the monster inside. She'd remembered waking the next morning, trying to escape her room before he woke. She remembered failing, and remembered him taking her blood as cruelly as he took her body. As bluntly as he later held her face in tender hands and stole her fear.
She remembered his teeth, his human teeth, squeezing playfully at the nape of her neck as his body covered hers. She remembered the shock of pleasure as they'd made love in ways that still brought a blush to her cheeks when she thought of it. She remembered how her body would rise to his, so eager for that lovely combination of ecstacy and pain, seeking the fit of his fingers over bruises that she wore with a secret pride. Damon might have taken her horror, but he hadn't forced her enjoyment.
No, that was all her own.
The irony was that it was probably her only honest relationship. Damon had stolen her fear, and sometimes twisted her will, but he'd never, ever lied. Even when he'd held her tightly and told her she was about to die, and there had been a tiny part of her that wanted it if it came with the overwhelming intoxication of his touch.
She understood him so much better, now. It hadn't been anything personal.
Damon hadn't discarded her because she was Caroline. He'd discarded her because he was done.
In retrospect, it was the nicest breakup she'd ever had.
And if, sometimes, she still felt phantom bruises and dreamed of hard hands and a harder body, well... that really wasn't personal, too.
Dying was the best thing to ever happen to her.
She could still feel the fear, the terrible pressure over her mouth and nose as Elena... As Katherine had smothered her feeble struggle for air under the suffocating pillow. She could still hear the thunder of her heartbeat in her ears.
It pissed her off that it was, of all people, Damon's blood that had saved her.
The hunger was always there. It burned in her constantly, and the memory of how wonderful blood felt pumping hot and delicious down her throat only made things worse. Her teeth itched, all the time, and she usually felt like she was about to jump out of her skin.
All the things that made her Caroline also drove her insane. The slightest noise made her jump, the mildest anxiety was magnified into earth-shaking proportions. Sensation was heightened, sometimes unbearably. And after she breathed through all of that, after she'd regained control over her desire to run and scream and hunt and fight, there again was the hunger, waiting for her.
Stefan was an incredibly soothing presence. She wasn't sure how he did it, achieved that zen-like calm for her, but she was grateful for it. If it hadn't been for Stefan, especially in those early days, she would have lost it.
Well, she'd be dead. All the way dead - Damon would have seen to it, Elena or not. She could see it in his eyes, even now; that cool evaluation of whether or not she should live. In a funny way, it was reassuring each time he let her leave a room alive. It meant he felt she was handling it, and despite everything she trusted his opinion because he'd never cared about her. The others might try to save her even as she went over the edge, out of love.
On the other hand, she loved her new strength and speed. She'd saved Stefan and Damon from the police; she'd kicked Mason's ass. She'd pulled Stefan and Elena out of the well and had disabled Matt before he'd done something irrevocable.
She'd learned while fighting the hunger that she was strong inside too, that she was made of sterner stuff than she'd ever guessed. It made her laugh, now, to remember calling herself shallow. She wasn't shallow. She was just... complicated.
Dying had been horrible, but it was the best thing that had ever happened to her.
Of all the lies she lived every day, this one was becoming the truth.