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There was a dagger in her hand and a smarmy asshole in front of her. A big part of Caroline just wanted to bury the damn thing in John Gilbert's shriveled up heart. Not only was he back in town, but he was also in her home. He had strode right in with Stefan and presented the dagger to her as if he were offering up the answer to all of her problems. To be fair, he was trying to offer her up the answer to one of her problems. She was almost sure he also was attempting to kill her in the process. Not once did he mention that a vampire who tried to use this on an original would die.

"Wait a second."

She held up her hand and folded down all the fingers but one. As much as she was tempted, it was the index, not the middle one.

"One, what makes you think Elijah needs to be taken care of, and two," she brought up her middle finger to join the first, "how do you even know about this thing?"

Given how arrogant and patronizing he usually was, it was amazing that someone hadn't killed John before now. The smirk he leveled at her nearly made her want to change his luck in that regard.

"Stefan called me for assistance. He said that Elijah might interfere with the plan to keep Elena alive. I went to Isobel to see if she could help. She's very good at finding out things. All you have to do is dip the dagger in the ash and then put it in Elijah's heart."

If she needed confirmation that Klaus was behind the dagger finding its way into her hands, she now had it. What she didn't know was if Klaus intended for her to use it, or if that was something that John was aiming for. Her gut tried to tell her that Klaus would never try to kill her. Her gut couldn't seem to remember that she wasn't dealing with the same Klaus.

The conversation continued, though Caroline's mind was only half on it; the other half was busy trying to figure out how not to piss of Klaus or Elijah. John left, apparently satisfied that she was onboard with his plan. Stefan was obviously a bit more observant.

"You don't trust him?"

Rolling her eyes, she put the dagger on her coffee table next to where John had placed the bottle of white oak ash and sat down on the couch. After Stefan took a seat in the char across from her, she deliberately relaxed her shoulders and gave him a smile.

"Bonnie's Grams and I did a lot of research into the original vampires. We came across information on these kinds of daggers. It all matches up with what John said. However, there was one thing that John failed to mention. A vampire who uses this against an original will die as well."

At first, Stefan only looked mildly troubled. However, she could tell by the mounting horror in his expression the moment he remembered how John had made sure to always say that she could use the dagger on Elijah. That wasn't the only thing wrong with the situation, however, and Caroline decided that Stefan needed to know just how bad it was. While she couldn't give him the full truth, she could give him a modified version of it.

"It's not just that, though. We've only found secondhand accounts of these kinds of daggers. We don't know how well they actually work, if at all. What if I try and use it, it doesn't work, and then we've got a pissed-off Elijah out for blood?"

For a long moment, Stefan just looked at her, obviously trying to figure out what to do. Leaning forward, he rested his elbows on his knees, hands clasped loosely between them.

"Do you think we can really trust Elijah?"

Caroline didn't bother trying to stop the burst of laughter that came out of her.

"Everything we've learned so far has shown us that the number one rule of dealing with an original vampire is that you never fully trust them."

Standing, she carefully picked up the dagger and bottle and began walking toward her room to put them somewhere safe. She didn't think they would use them, but she still hadn't figured out a way to tell Elijah that Klaus had their family with him without causing Klaus to lash out in paranoia because she had too much information. She wasn't one of his siblings, so she wouldn't survive the fallout.

She had just made it to her bedroom doorway when she was brought up short. Suddenly, she had an idea how to handle the Elijah situation. Turning back to a now standing Stefan, she offered up what she hoped was a reassuring smile.

"I believe we can trust Elijah not to try and stop the ritual from happening. The rest we might just have to leave up to Klaus."

Looking at Stefan, Caroline could see him struggling to come up with an alternative strategy. While she appreciated that he wanted to save Elena, his call to John had already proved that his help would only cause problems for their plans. She didn't have any choice but to shut him out.

"Stefan, what you did today? Don't ever do it again. I need to know that I can trust the people around Elena not to screw up our plans. You brought John back into town and that's just one more knife we've got aimed at our back."

He didn't say anything and, after a moment, Caroline turned back around and walked into her room. It didn't take vampire hearing to catch the anger in his stride as he walked out of her living room and toward the front door. It was a slight miracle that the door was undamaged after he slammed it closed.

She found herself lying on her bed thinking about how difficult the past week had been. It wasn't hard to blame it on Elijah since his arrival had been the cause of most of the difficulty. She could have ignored his presence if part of his agreement not to interfere in her plans hadn't been to be kept in the loop. That self-satisfied smirk on his face when he informed her –after he'd given his word and she'd called off her friends—of his condition to the agreement had made it hard to keep her cool.

While she knew that his plan to kill Klaus actually involved waiting until the ritual was done, she couldn't exactly tell him that. The movies and TV shows always make it seem like it was easy and satisfying to be the one with all the information and pulling the strings. For her, so far, it had been frustrating as well as hard work trying to keep straight who got to know what information. Maybe she wasn't made to be a puppet master. Thankfully, she had her mother, Bonnie, and Sheila to help her.

She had been even more thankful for Bonnie and her Grams when Elijah had shown up in Mystic Falls with Jonas and Luka Martin the day after they made their deal. He apparently hadn't been expecting her to be close to such powerful witches and she took special delight in letting him know that they already had a way to save Elena and the other two sacrifices. She could only imagine how he'd try to use her needing the Martins against her. She had hoped he would take the hint and be content with simply being kept updated on their progress.

Not even a week later, though, Elijah proved he wouldn't easily be pushed into the background. He had shown up at her house, supposedly to 'acquaint himself' with everything involved in her plan. She had been forthcoming –save for the exact details on how she knew what she did, the whole time travel bit, and Silas— but it soon became obvious what his real goal was. He started asking her about Klaus; when they first had contact, how often they talked. It wouldn't be half so frustrating if she hadn't got the same line of questioning from Klaus in regards to Elijah.

After that, it went from weird to downright bizarre. Their conversation had somehow turned more personal, and she let it slip that she hadn't actually been shown the ropes by a vampire. While Stefan had taught her something of control, which she didn't tell Elijah about, and she had some basic memories from when Damon had her under his thumb, which she only told him about vaguely, that had been the extent of her training. It was right after that she found herself on the receiving end of an impromptu lesson on the basics of being a vampire.

While some males would have taken the opportunity to turn it into some sexual situation, Elijah hadn't. Instead, it became something else. Where someone trying to get into her pants would have praised everything she did, no matter how poorly done, he pushed her to stretch herself. Only when she had finally made out a conversation he had her listening to from an impressive distance away did he acknowledge how well she was doing. The tone of voice he used and the weight of his hands on her shoulders felt very familiar.

"To be honest, it was like he was playing daddy or something."

Right after Elijah had left, she'd called Bonnie and asked her to come over. After she had chanted and burned sage to set up a privacy barrier, Caroline told her all about his visit. Bonnie's eyebrows had risen when she'd described his behavior.

"So, he was hitting on you then?"

Caroline threw a pillow at her as she burst into laughter.

"Not that kind of daddy, you perv! Like, actual father-daughter stuff. It was just like when my dad would help me with something really difficult."

After that, they went on to talk about how Elijah's presence would change their plans –the actual reason behind the need for the magical privacy. When Caroline brought up her fear that Elijah would have the Martins try to magically track the moonstone –and why had no one done that before?—Bonnie looked more than a little smug when she said that she and Grams had already taken care of it. Caroline had to admit to herself that Bonnie had more than a bit of a right to being smug when she explained that as soon as the other witches –"They said warlocks, Bonnie."— showed up in town, she and Grams had put a masking spell on the moonstone.

Bonnie told her that the spell on the Lockwood cellar was also complete and that her Grams was actually hunting down Mason to tell him that he wouldn't need to use the chains anymore.

"The magic barrier goes up when it gets dark, and goes down when it gets light. Very straightforward and guaranteed against werewolf strength."

Caroline was under the impression that they had thought of everything. Of course, then creepy Uncle John showed up with a dagger that she had somehow completely forgotten about. How the hell did she forget about the daggers that Klaus used to put his siblings out of commission for long stretches of time? She knew she couldn't use the dagger on Elijah, at least not the way Klaus obviously intended her to use it. However, if she was going to cross Klaus, she had to make it count. The only way she could think to do that, would be to offer up the dagger to Elijah as a show of good faith.

The main problem with her solution –aside from the fact that it would piss off Klaus – was that Elijah had never actually left her a way to contact him. He simply had been showing up whenever he wanted over the past few days. She could always try carrying the damn thing around with her wherever she went in case he showed up, but that could get awkward. She could only think of one other option; she would have to arrange a dinner and then invite him to it whenever he popped up next. The whole thing left her very frustrated and she was more than half convinced that was the reason he behaved that way.

Caroline was unaware of how right she was. After a thousand years, the little things were what kept Elijah amused. He enjoyed needling people just to see how far he could go before they finally protested. While he didn't often do so with Caroline –he found himself enjoying mentoring her too much to want her to pull back—he did enjoy keeping her on her toes. Leaving her no way in which to control when they were in contact was proving an excellent method, going by the frustration evident in her expression. That frustration was, oddly enough, not what he was greeted with when he surprised her with his presence at the Historical Society Tea Party.

He had found himself making polite conversation with the Carol Lockwood and Elizabeth Forbes. As he continued to spin his tale of being a historical writer, he could see Elizabeth's right eyebrow occasionally arch up with some of his more… fanciful additions to the story before she got her expression under control. It was easy to see where Caroline got her sense of humor. Much like with Caroline's frustration, he couldn't resist pushing at her mother's control. The opportunity to push even further came when Carol went to greet newly arrived party guests.

"Why, Elizabeth, you don't seem entirely convinced someone would want to write about your quaint little town."

There was that eyebrow again, complete with an amused smirk to match. She took a sip of her tea before schooling her expression once again and giving a slight cough.

"That's not it at all, Mr. Smith," he didn't bother to hide his smile at her tone. Apparently, Elizabeth was as unimpressed with his alias as her daughter was. "I'm sure there are plenty of writers who would find Mystic Falls absolutely fascinating. Though I'm not sure that historical nonfiction would be the particular genre they'd be writing."

Noticing that her cup was empty, he quietly signaled for one of the young women carrying teapots around. As he shifted position, he took the opportunity to rest his hand lightly at the small of her back. Although her expression read as amused and slightly indulgent, he could hear her heartbeat pick up just slightly as he rubbed his thumb against the fabric of her top.

"Whatever you're trying to do, I'm sure you could do it so much better if you tried it without touching my mother."

The reprimand had been whispered from the doorway, but he could clearly hear in her voice how much Caroline didn't appreciate his overly familiar behavior. When Elizabeth noticed the direction of his gaze and followed it, he finally removed his hand.

"Your daughter is very protective."

The small huff and amused expression she aimed at him showed that she didn't need to hear what was said to know what had upset Caroline. Quickly turning serious, however, she responded, "It runs in the family."

Tilting his head in acknowledgment he said, "An admirable trait."

Something over his shoulder seemed to catch her eye and cause her to stiffen. Turning, he saw John Gilbert walking toward him. While his own research had only provided the bare bones about the man, Caroline had let it slip that he was 'a slimy toad who everyone hated' and wasn't to be trusted. Watching the man in question walk toward them with a very self-satisfied expression on his face, Elijah found himself inclined to agree with Caroline's assessment.

"John. I was really hoping you would have left town again by now."

John's face subtly shifted into a sneer.

"And I was hoping you would have come to your senses and stopped associating with vampires."

There was a shift in his expression, and he suddenly resembled countless other opportunistic bottom-feeders Elijah had encountered over the past millennium.

"I wonder what the council would think if I were to let it slip that the sheriff's daughter was a vampire and that the sheriff herself was consorting with vampires."

John's not-at-all subtle once over of Elijah left little doubt of what he thought she was doing and with whom he thought she was doing it. Elizabeth appeared less embarrassed than bored by his attempt at intimidation. Just as Elijah was about to interject, he caught a movement on the other side of Elizabeth from the corner of his eye.

"The first time they'd just laugh in your face. After that, they would probably begin to question why you had it out for my mom," While John looked completely caught off guard by her presence, Caroline looked as if she had known this was going to happen. However, Elijah had learned that she was rather good at faking confidence.

"After that, it's only a matter of time before they run you out of town. Compulsion's a crude yet effective weapon."

Caroline looked as if she expected the conversation to be done at that point. After a moment of shock, however, John quickly recovered.

"Compulsion's a bit difficult when people are on vervain, Caroline."

Elijah was quickly losing his patience with the conversation. He restrained himself from ending it in a very brutal and efficient manner however, when he noticed Caroline nodding her head and humming in agreement with John. What did the baby vampire have up her sleeve?

"Yes, the council is on vervain. Supplied by a member of the local vampire population at that! And I was there when they received their very first dose."

John seemed to register her meaning a few seconds after Elijah himself did. He had to wonder what else she had compelled the council to do or believe when she had the chance. He was drawn from his imaginings when he noticed a very cold look had come across Caroline's face.

"If you try to threaten my mom again, I'm going to take that pretty magic ring of yours and we'll see how brave you are then."

John stared at her for a short moment, then turned and swiftly left. The three of them were left to stare silently after his retreating form. Elizabeth was the one to end the moment.

"Good thinking, compelling the counsel."

Caroline turned to her mother with a wide-eye look that clearly said she'd been caught doing something wrong.

"So… you think we should maybe switch out their vervain for a bit and do that, then?"

While Elijah was left silent with the minor shock of Caroline's bluff, her mother was having no such problem. Through the laughter she tried to muffle behind her hand, she told Caroline that they should definitely think about it.

The matter apparently settled in Caroline's mind, she quickly turned an overly bright smile on him.

"I'm so glad you're here today. I wanted to invite you to a small dinner I'm throwing tomorrow. Technically, it's… kind of in your honor. Please say you'll come because I've got a surprise for you!"

He was bemused by her manner. Anyone looking on would think she was simply inviting him to a social dinner where she might be surprising him with a rare diary for his historical research. However, his time in this world had taught him to be wary of anything that looked too benign or innocuous.

"I really do hope it's a pleasant surprise, Caroline. I'm not fond of the other sort."

Her expression was relaxed and unguarded when she replied, "I think you'll definitely find it to be a pleasant one."

While she was good at faking confidence, he believed he would be able to tell if she was lying about her intentions with him. Nothing in her expression, tone, or body language led him to believe she was being anything other than honest. With a smile, he agreed to dinner.

As she was handing him a slip of paper with an address, date, and time already written on it –at his raised eyebrow she only shot him a haughty look—she let slip that there would be a small gathering of people at the dinner. Before he could inquire as to who would be attending, she was already on her way across the room, playing the part of the perfect social butterfly the whole way.

"Your daughter is quite a force of nature."

Elizabeth, when she answered, looked more sad than proud.

"She's good at being larger than life. It makes you forget that she still needs protecting from so much. I'm just afraid that I'm not going to be enough to protect her."

She inhaled deeply before he could respond, seeming to shake off her mood, and changed the subject. Her words stuck with him, however, and he was still thinking about them when he arrived at Pearl's home the next night. Judging by her manner at the dinner, however, she seemed to have put the conversation out of her mind and so he chose to do the same.

Walking into the house, he was surprised to find John there among the vampires and witches, though less surprised to find Elizabeth there. He recognized Harper from their first meeting, though he hadn't seen the relatively young vampire around since then. Perhaps Pearl and her daughter Anna had been trying to keep him out sight because of the part he played in Elijah's temporary death. While he held no grudge against Harper for the incident, he didn't inform the three of that as he greeted them. A little fear might keep them all in line.

Unable to resist needling Caroline a little, he made sure she was in eye line when he raised Elizabeth's hand to his lips. However, he did refrain from turning her hand over and placing a kiss on her palm, even though he would dearly love to see if it would cause her to blush. Even over Caroline's less than delicate cough, he caught a small huff of amusement. Looking up, he saw Sheila and Bonnie walking into the room.

"Ahh, the Bennetts. A pleasure as always to see you."

Neither looked pleased to see him. However, John did – overly so, in fact. That look had Elijah almost tensing in preparation for some sort of betrayal. Externally, he gave no sign of his wariness, only raising an eyebrow and sending a condescending smirk at the man. The flare of rage he saw in John's eyes for a moment did give him a bit of pleasure. Before he could decide if it would be worth it to verbally get under the man's skin, he caught a movement out of the corner of his eye. This was someone he hadn't met and whom his regrettably brief research had not shown to be associated with the doppelgänger in some way.

Apparently seeing what had caught his attention, Caroline introduced him in a barely civil tone.

"Elijah, this is Maddox. He's a witch and a… an acquaintance of ours."

While she was clearly not fond of the young man, he was just as clearly very interested in her. Given that he was here while she clearly did not wish it, he was obviously extremely new in town, and he was a witch; it didn't take long for Elijah to figure out that Maddox was one of Klaus' witches. Not only that, but Caroline was clearly aware of this. The only piece of the puzzle left to figure out was if Klaus and Maddox knew she was aware.

Caroline made quick work of ushering them all into the large dining room. While it was obvious that there were no caterers, someone had expended a great deal of effort to make the table more than presentable. They had even gone to the trouble of placing name cards at each seat. Judging by her proud expression, he assumed that someone had been Caroline herself.

While it was only subtly obvious, Elijah could tell that they had all been instructed to make polite small talk. He could also tell that, although they went out of their way to include him in the conversation, they were not truly comfortable with it. He could try and put them at ease –he had learned how to be extremely charming over the centuries—but it was just so much more entertaining to keep them off-balance. Seeing Caroline and Elizabeth occasionally amused by one of his well-delivered barbs certainly didn't discourage him. John, on the other hand, could apparently only take so much.

Turning to Elizabeth, he gave a false smile and said, "I do wonder what our fellow council members would say if they could see us now, sitting down to eat with the monsters."

Before he could answer, a loud bang drew everyone's attention to the end of the table. Caroline was glaring coldly at John, napkin fisted beside her plate where she'd obviously slammed it down. Within seconds, however, her expression morphed into an overly bright smile that she directed down the table to Elijah.

"I distinctly remember promising you a surprise!"

Without waiting for a response, she pushed her chair back from the table and headed over to the sideboard. While most of the dinner guests looked as if they had been expecting this particular turn of events, John and Maddox both looked confused. As Caroline pulled a black, rectangular box from the cabinet, both of them seemed to get quietly angry. Intrigued, Elijah pushed back his chair and chose to meet her halfway.

Placing the box in his hands, she began with a smile, "I know we have a deal, but when this fell into my hands, I just knew it would be the perfect show of good faith and something you would truly appreciate."

While he hadn't been sure what to expect in the box, he never would have guessed at the truth. Inside, nestled in a bed of satin, lay a dagger and a bottle of ash. Specifically, a bottle of white oak ash and one of the daggers Klaus used to temporarily 'kill' and box up family members. If this dagger had made its way to Caroline, clearly the intent was for her to use it on him, not gift it to him. As he looked into her serious expression, it was clear she knew what the dagger did and what she was risking.

Later that night evening, as everyone was getting ready to leave, he noticed a troubled expression on Caroline's face. Following her line of sight, he saw Maddox walking into another room, phone in hand, apparently texting someone. Elijah followed John toward the door, letting the others believe he was leaving. Before reaching the front door, however, he turned into an empty room. Almost immediately after, he heard someone walk past and caught a quick glimpse of Maddox as he left the house.

He could hear Caroline begin to say, "We should probably," when she was interrupted by the ringing of her phone. "Guess I didn't move fast enough. Everyone just… Just stay quiet."

He heard Caroline answer the phone, and then his brother's voice came through far too calm.

"Caroline, sweetheart, how was your dinner this evening?"

"Oh, you know, the wine was lovely, the roast was done to perfection, and I managed to avoid your plan to get me killed."

While the last was said in nearly a growl, when she continued, her voice was almost weary.

"I've done everything I can to make this easy for you. I've gotten Elena to cooperate, I've got a vampire and a werewolf who aren't going to try and run, and I'm looking for the moonstone. I just don't understand why you would want me dead right now."

Elijah silently made his way to the hallway outside the room the others were gathered in, making sure to keep himself out of sight.

"Tell me, love, what makes you think I tried to get you killed."

The short laugh that came from Caroline was anything but amused. He didn't realize she could reveal herself to be so jaded with just a single sound.

"John Gilbert showed up with a dagger he said could take Elijah out of the picture, insisting that I be the one to use it on him. It didn't take much for me to figure out that you were the one who sent it. The question I have to ask is, did you think I would risk pissing off an original without doing my homework, or did you think I wouldn't find out that a vampire who uses the dagger on an original dies?"

Caroline sounded less offended than… hurt. As though Klaus' low opinion of her was unexpected and painful. Klaus' voice, however, showed no signs of either remorse or anger.

"So, instead of possibly upsetting Elijah, your plan was to hand him the dagger I gave you and take your chances with my anger?"

He could practically feel the tension of the vampires in the room. Caroline, however, seemed prepared for this conversation.

"Actually, my plan was to hand over the dagger to him so I could continue to live while possibly earning a bit of trust from him. I was hoping to use that trust and whatever leverage you could provide to stop him from killing you."

The shocked silence from Klaus was a perfect counterpoint to the stillness that had taken over Elijah. He didn't know what surprised him more; that she knew he was still planning on killing Klaus, or that she seemed so determined to keep him alive.

"I have his word that he won't try and stop the ritual, but he never said a thing about after. I need you alive, Klaus. So you need to give me something to work with and you need to not get me killed."

When Klaus spoke again, his voice was more relaxed, almost amused.

"You seem so certain that I have some way of staying my brother's hand beyond that dagger that you took out of play."

Caroline's reply was to the point. "You always have a back-up plan."

Klaus hummed in agreement, and then, in a brisk tone replied, "Set a meeting up with dear old Elijah."

Though he seemed ready to continue, Caroline interrupted him with a wry, "That really won't be necessary."

In confusion, Elijah raised his head. Across from him, on the hallway wall, was a mirror. In it, he could clearly see Caroline staring at his reflection. While she was still clearly focused on Klaus and his temper, she spared him a wry smile before she continued.

"Your brother seems to have a habit of eavesdropping on my conversations."

Without waiting for Klaus' response, Elijah strolled into the room, deciding to take over the conversation. Perhaps it was her passing resemblance to Rebekah, or the fact that she had chosen to hand over the dagger in front of someone she knew to be Klaus' spy, but either way, he felt the need to try and protect her.

"While I am grateful that Miss Forbes helped me avoid the same fate as our siblings, I have to wonder at her insistence that you not be killed. Would she be so determined to keep you alive if she knew why I wanted you dead?"

The sound of Klaus' mocking laughter sparked anger in his gut and had his fangs itching to drop. "I doubt your belief in a lie would change her mind about keeping me alive."

Everything in Elijah seemed to stop. His brain refused to process what he had heard. Apparently understanding his silence for the shock it was, Klaus continued.

"Yes, Elijah, our dear family is still with me and always has been. Truth be told, I'm a bit disappointed that you know me so little that you actually believed I would throw them in the ocean."

Klaus' voice was genial when he said, "Be a good big brother and refrain from attempting to kill me, and I'll reunite you with them."

Elijah barely heard himself agree, though he was sure he did when Klaus began speaking to Caroline.

"Now, Caroline, what should we do about you?"

He could see her lips thin in anger, but she wisely held her tongue.

"When I sent the dagger to you, it was with the message that a human was to use it. I never wanted you dead, love. I still don't. You did force my hand, however, so you will have to be punished. Do you understand what that means?"

He could see the moment she truly understood what he meant; could hear it in her shuddering breath.

"I understand."

Without a word, Klaus hung up. For a moment, everyone was silent, but then Bonnie spoke up.

"What is it, exactly, that you understand, Caroline?"

When she raised her eyes to answer friend, Caroline looked as if she were already grieving.

"He won't kill me over this, and I know Elena's safe. Do you remember what happened with Ben? We don't know who all he's gotten to, and we can't protect everyone."

While he couldn't help her protect everyone, he could at least take some of her burden. Crossing over to where she stood, he placed a comforting hand on her shoulder.

"In return for your show of good faith this evening, I can offer you one of my own. I will do everything in my power to ensure that your mother is safe."

When her eyes shot up to his, he could see that he had clearly taken her by surprise. After staring at him for a bit, clearly trying to decide if she could trust him, she nodded her head.

Turning to stare at nothing in particular, she let out a deep sigh and said, "I'm gonna need a drink."


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