It said a lot about a person’s life when they barely batted a carefully curled eyelash as their friend’s little brother led them down into the dank school basement to visit the body of their best friend.
Okay, Caroline had done a hell of a lot more than bat an eyelash when Jeremy had told her that Bonnie was dead. There had been tears, and denials, and even talk of how they could bring her back to life. Jeremy had calmly listened to it all and waited for her to a get ahold of herself. When he said that Bonnie wanted to talk to her, she cleaned up her face and reapplied her makeup –Bonnie obviously had enough to worry about, she didn’t have to see Caroline looking like she had been dragged through hell as well—and told Jeremy to lead the way.
When she asked Jeremy why they were heading to the school he explained that that’s where Bonnie had died.
“And you couldn’t have moved her somewhere better?”
Caroline could hear both anger and guilt in his voice when he bit back, “This isn’t exactly Sunnydale. There aren’t a lot of places to hide a dead body, and people might notice me carrying around my dead girlfriend.”
It was, of course, the least important part of his statement that caught Caroline’s attention and she spoke without thinking.
“You two got back together?”
Jeremy vaguely shrugged and told her that it was complicated. Luckily, Caroline managed to hold in her thoughts about ghost fetishes as they pulled up to the school. As they descended into the basement, she quickly lost the ability to think about anything beyond the current situation.
She noticed Bonnie… She noticed the body right away. In fact, it took a lot to focus on anything beyond the body of her friend. But Jeremy had brought her here for a reason, and it wasn’t to grieve.
“We set up a circle and got everything ready. All you have to do is put this on your eyelids, lay down in the circle, and I’ll light the candles. You go to sleep, and then Bonnie can talk to you.”
Caroline turned to Jeremy, taking the plastic bowl he held out. She could feel the snark and questions bubbling up out of her and while she knew she should probably be quiet, she had never really learned to hold her tongue. When times got stressful, Caroline was driven to ask questions. The only way to control a situation was to know everything and talk it out. The snark? That was simply who she was.
“First of all, that’s a pentagram, not a circle. Second of all, Bonnie can talk to me? And, of course, third of all, why does this smell like blood?”
She could practically see Jeremy swallow down the urge to snap at her. One day she would have to tell him how much she appreciated it. However, right then didn’t seem like a good time.
“I figured saying circle would sound less… ominous. This,” he continued, slightly raising the bowl, “smells like blood because it is blood –my blood, to be specific—mixed with a few other things. It will, along with a bit of magic on my end and a lot of magic on Bonnie’s end, allow you to see and speak to her like I can.”
Taking the bowl of blood-and-whatever from him, she nodded and allowed herself one last question, albeit asked with a less aggressive tone.
“And the sleeping?”
Jeremy gave a small smile like he knew the small skirmish was over.
“Your mind is more open when you’re asleep. You accept things that would seem out of the ordinary if you were awake.”
With another nod and a deep breath, Caroline walked over to the ‘circle’ and sat gingerly in the center. Wrinkling up her nose, she closed her eyes and dabbed the contents of the little bowl over her lids, then lay down. She tried to concentrate on relaxing her body as she listened to Jeremy walk around her, lighting the candles. Her lips quirked up and she felt her eyes begin to water behind her lids when the thought popped up that Bonnie could have simply lit them all at once with her mind.
Caroline was just about to give in to the urge to speak and dispel her oncoming grief when she heard Jeremy exhale forcefully and felt something like fine dust settle over her face. For a moment, she felt like her brain had shifted ever so slightly to the left, and then the floor seemed to be rotating. Feeling slightly nauseous, she rolled over to her side and gasped for breath.
When she opened her eyes, it wasn’t the brick walls of the school basement that greeted her. She was back home and lying on her bed. But the best part was that Bonnie was there also, lying down, facing her. Reaching out, she traced her fingers down the side of Bonnie’s face, unable to stop the tears from falling from her eyes.
“You’re not supposed to be dead, you know. We’re supposed to be roommates in college, and sisters forever, and you’re supposed to fall in love and have babies I can spoil.”
Bonnie grasped Caroline’s free hand and gave a watery smile.
“I know. I didn’t mean to leave you –any of you—I just didn’t see any other way. But it didn’t work out right, Caroline. It all went to hell like it always seems to.”
With a deep breath and a firm nod, Bonnie sat up and seemed to pull herself together. Trying to bury the sense of unease growing within her, Caroline sat up as well.
“We can’t make this go right from where we are. Too much has gone wrong and anyone that could help is either scattered to the winds, dead, incapacitated, or too caught up in a dysfunctional relationship. But I have a plan. It’s dangerous, though, and I don’t even know if it will work. We could all end up right back where we are now.”
Feeling like she was missing something big, Caroline grabbed onto Bonnie’s hand to get her attention.
“Bonnie, what are you talking about? What’s going on that we need help so badly?”
Turning fully toward her, Bonnie took a deep breath and looked into her friend’s eyes.
“Caroline, Silas isn’t down like I thought. He’s walking around pretending to be Stefan. He’s getting too powerful and I haven’t been able to do anything from this side.”
Caroline couldn’t stop the gasp that escaped her. How long had Stefan been gone? How long had an imposter been playing at being her friend? How could she have missed something so big? Reining herself in, Caroline let go of what she couldn’t change and gave her full attention to Bonnie.
“What do we need to do?”
She listened with a mixture of growing trepidation and grim determination as Bonnie laid out her plan.
It was relatively simple; she was supposed to go back and make everything right. Try to keep as many people from dying as she could all while not fucking up the balance of the universe too much. No pressure or anything.
Ultimately, however, she was going back for one thing: She had to stop Silas from rising or find a way to kill him before he was able to fully awaken.
“I’m going to try and send you back as far as I can. I haven’t figured out a way to give you all the information you’d need that I just don’t have. Maybe if I had more time… But I can give you what I know now.”
Getting up from the bed, Bonnie grabbed a pen and notepad and began writing. As she did so, she explained what she was writing.
“This is a list of objects you’re going to need to get ahold of, and events that are going to have to take place. People that will be important and people that you should avoid.”
She looked up and into Caroline’s eyes, almost apologetically.
“You’re going to have to make sure that Klaus breaks his curse. There are ways to do it without anyone having to die permanently, but I don’t know the details. You’re going to have to figure out everything on your own. I wish I could help you more, but I’m desperate and we don’t have any time.”
Caroline covered Bonnie’s now shaking hand with her own and tried to will confidence into her friend. A question occurred to her then that she wasted no time in asking.
“Are there any rules against telling people what’s going on? I mean, we’re already drastically changing timelines. Is there a reason it has to be a huge secret? You know, beyond avoiding any long talks with doctors who know nothing about the supernatural?”
The question stopped Bonnie and she genuinely looked like she had never thought of it.
“Well… no, there’s no reason you can’t tell someone.”
Caroline offered a reassuring smile as she gently rubbed one of Bonnie’s shoulders.
“Then I don’t have to figure out everything on my own. You’ll give me all you can, and then I can get help when I get back there. You’ll even be one of the people helping me.”
Glancing down at the notepad her friend was holding, Caroline tried to get them back on track.
“So, I’m going to wake up in the past clutching a list of random objects, people, and events. Am I even going to remember what’s going on?”
Taking her cue from Caroline, Bonnie continued to write and explained that, since this was a dream, she wasn’t actually writing on the paper, she was writing this list directly into Caroline’s memory. She would retain her memories of this timeline as a vampire, though they would start to fade rather quickly if she was human.
“If you go back to before you were a vampire, you’re going to have to find a way to get turned quickly.”
Just as Caroline began to mentally catalog the ways she could get herself turned into a vampire, she heard the sound of movement from behind her. Whipping around and getting up off the bed, she stood between Bonnie and their uninvited guest.
“Last time I checked, I did not have an open dream policy where Mikaelson brothers were concerned.”
Kol smirked from where he was comfortably leaning against her bedroom door.
“Now, darling, there’s no need for alarm. I’m not here to hurt the little witch. Quite the contrary, in fact. I’m here to offer my services.”
Knowing that any deal from his family came with strings firmly attached, Caroline wasn’t quick to jump at his offer. Still, it was probably best to get him to expose what he wanted from them.
“And what, exactly, would you be getting out of this?”
Slowly moving away from the doorjamb, Kol stepped over to Caroline’s dresser. Picking up the framed picture of Bonnie, Caroline, and Elena, he began answering her question as he ran his fingers along the edge of the frame.
“I get to make sure that none of my family –myself included—dies and ensure that Silas does die.”
Putting the picture back gently, he turned back to them with a serious expression on his face.
“All you have to do, Caroline, is make sure that the dagger is removed from me as soon as possible and tell me what you’re planning. I can then share everything I know about Silas and how his followers operate, and I can even help you find and kill the bastard.”
Caroline had a feeling that he was leaving out something. As tempting as it was to just blow him off, her gut told her that –whatever was really going on—she needed to know about it sooner rather than later.
“It would only make sense for me to try and get as much help as possible and, given that I know from your terrorizing of Jeremy that you know all about Silas, it would also only make sense that I would go to you for information. So what’s this really about?”
Looking down with a slight chuckle and a shake of his head, Kol made his way over to the open closet to absently play with the scarves hanging on the door.
“I can see why my brother fancies you.”
At this he glanced back over at Caroline.
“Or, would it be better to say, ‘why he’s so in love with you’? You are right, though, there is a bit more to the story. The twelve witches you killed aren’t too keen on this mission. They don’t have any faith in you –understandably so, I think you could agree. They have enough power to mess up Bonnie’s little spell.
“I’ve managed to earn their trust and, if I should express my faith in your ability and willingness to truly kill Silas and make everything right, they won’t mess things up. In fact, they’d be willing to lend their power to the cause.”
This was the part where all the cards were laid out. Caroline figured that, since he led with what he could do for them, then whatever came next was more important to him than ending Silas or even getting the dagger out of his past self. Before she could tell him to cut to the chase, Bonnie spoke up.
“I doubt you’re willing to do this out of the goodness of your heart or because you’ve suddenly developed a fondness for us. What do you want in return, Kol?”
Closing the distance to Caroline’s bed in long strides, Kol grabbed the pad and pen that Bonnie had left and flipped to the next page. He turned to fully face them as he held the pen above the paper as if ready to begin writing.
“So, how this works is, I write down something in here, and it’s engraved on her memory, right? So, I write a little message to my past self, and she can be a good little messenger vamp and deliver it for me. Nothing dangerous, or even particularly difficult. I’ll also write a little personal fact here so that I’ll know it’s really a message from me and not some hoax a pretty young thing is trying to pull. Sound fair?”
A small shot of alarm ran through Caroline and she quickly turned to Bonnie.
“He can’t, like, brainwash me that way, can he?”
Bonnie’s eyes widen slightly at the thought, but she turned and put a re-assuring hand on Caroline’s arm.
“The words will be in your memory, but you’ll be able to tell they aren’t yours. It would be like walking into your room and seeing someone else’s jacket on your bed. It’s there, but you know it’s not yours. It will have a different feel or smell or something.”
They both turned at Kol’s small chuckle.
“Done this often, have you?”
With a slight sneer, Bonnie turned to him and rolled her eyes.
“I’ve talked with witches who have. Now, exactly what message are you wanting Caroline to deliver?”
With a small shift of the pen and notepad in his hands, Kol gave Caroline a questioning glance. At her reluctant nod, he began to write. As he did, he also began to speak in a carefully detached tone that let Caroline know that he was serious about what was in the message.
“I just want a small bit of information delivered. It’s a way of… rebuilding bridges and fixing my family. Do that for me…”
Walking toward Caroline, he handed her the notepad with a smile.
“And I’ll help you find and kill Silas.”
Looking at the message written on the notepad, Caroline couldn’t stop the small gasp that escaped her. She couldn’t fault him for his motives.
“I’ll deliver your message. Just… get the other witches to help.”
With a rueful smile, Kol shrugged.
“Already done, darling.”
At Caroline and Bonnie’s shocked and upset faces, Kol’s smile grew until he resembled a child who got caught with his hand in the cookie jar a few too many times.
“Whispering the ways I’m going to kill her into the ear of a girl who can’t hear me got old really quickly. I spent a great deal of time watching the lot of you. I knew that you wouldn’t mind doing something so simple in return for my help. Especially now that you and my brother are… friends.”
The last was said with a world full of innuendo. Honestly, Caroline was getting tired of everyone commenting about what was going on between her and Klaus. Not that there was anything to comment on. Whatever.
As childish as it was, she took the time to stick her tongue out at Kol’s retreating back. Turning back to Bonnie, she took a deep breath.
“Are we ready?”
Bonnie nodded her head, then gasped. She then relaxed and looked slightly more confident.
“The witches are on board, apparently. Now, I can’t be sure of exactly what time I’m sending you back to, but I can narrow it down to before the twelve witches died but after Stefan arrived in town.”
At Caroline’s questioning look, Bonnie explained further.
“Stefan arriving is about the time my powers started to kick in. It’s the easiest time for me to focus on. Their death is easiest for the other witches to focus on. We just need to aim closer to my focus.”
Leaning in, Bonnie gave Caroline a strong and desperate-feeling hug.
“I know you can do this, Caroline. If anyone can figure out how to re-organize time so that it comes out with less death and destruction, it’s you.”
Leaning back to look in Caroline’s eyes, Bonnie gave her a very serious look.
“I’m going to try and aim for before you met Damon. I can’t guarantee it, but I’m going to try. You ready?”
With a forced smile and a nod, Caroline braced herself.
“And me without a blue box or an alien with a hot accent,” she said, unable to resist one last comment as she felt Bonnie’s hands on her temples and the world started to fade away.
“I love you, Caroline.”