Title: Leave a Light On: Plan 9 From Mystic Falls
Author: tmbreck / eclectic_tongue / eclectic / Lilbreck
Characters: Anna Zhu, Bonnie Bennett, Caroline Forbes, Elena Gilbert, Harper, Jeremy Gilbert, Pearl Zhu, Sheila Bennett, Stefan Salvatore
Word Count: 2,871
A/N: A huge thanks, as always, goes to my wonderful beta velvetwhip. This time more so than others, since she's being forced to read fanfic for a show she has no interest in watching. Though I list a lot of characters, and some of them actually do get dialog, some of them just pass through.
Over the next two weeks just about everyone noticed –or at least sensed –the presence of the vampire peeping tom that Caroline had spotted after what she had mentally dubbed 'The Big Reveal'. She hadn't told anyone that night as most of them were still in a state of shock from learning about the upcoming possible doom. However, when she went to Sheila and her mother, they had quickly decided it was best for everyone to know and report any sightings. And report they had.
It became obvious very quickly that this particular vampire only showed up around Elena, so it was decided that she had to have a vampire with her wherever she went. Since Stefan and Caroline couldn't always be with Elena, Lexi –who had decided to stay once she found out about all the trouble that would be coming for her best friend—would help out. Thankfully, Elena was now secure in the knowledge that Lexi was not a threat to her relationship with Stefan.
Caroline had other things to worry about on top of Elena's stalker. Given that she was head of the dance committee, she had to organize the Decade Dance. While it was a bit easier this time around –she simply stuck to the decisions she had made last time she organized for the fifties dance—there were some unexpected pangs of loss. The biggest of these was when Matt arrived to help set up. While she didn't regret trying to keep him out of everything supernatural, she did regret that it meant they would probably never even be friends.
She didn't want to date him again –that ship had sailed a long time ago and she was better off for it—but it would be nice to be able to talk to him. Instead, she ignored him in favor of talking to Bonnie. At least she got to keep some friends.
Even as she let go of the possibility of being Matt's friend, painted signs with Bonnie, and mentally went over her checklist to make sure all was in order, Caroline could feel her anxiety levels creeping up. So far, Elena's newest fan had stuck to watching from the shadows. However, these things always got worse. Everyone had tried to prepare for any attack he might launch, but, as usual, it came in at a time they least expected it: while Elena was safe and sound in her own home.
Caroline had been staring blankly into her refrigerator trying to figure out what to have for dinner when she heard her phone ringing from the bedroom. The phone was in the middle of its third ring when Caroline picked it up from the bedside table and saw Stefan's name. She was smiling as she tapped the answer button and put the phone to her ear.
"Aren't you supposed to be enjoying pizza with your girlfriend's family?"
She could hear Elena fussing over an obviously annoyed Jeremy in the background and knew –even before Stefan began to speak—that Elena's stalker had finally made a move.
"A vampire tried to get into the house tonight. He had the pizza we ordered and tried to get Jeremy to invite him in. Jeremy almost got pulled outside, but I heard the struggle in time. We need to figure out what we're going to do."
Caroline promised to be right over and then hung up. While she did spend the drive over to Elena's trying to brainstorm up a plan, in the back of her mind she had to wonder exactly how Jeremy almost got pulled out. They had practically pounded vampire safety precautions into his head almost as soon as they told him vampires actually existed.
As she walked into the house, she could hear Stefan trying to talk Elena out of barging up to Jeremy's room to demand he talk to her. As much as she loved Elena, there were more important things to worry about than her brother's emotional state right now. Obviously, Stefan wasn't going to play the kind of hardball it would take to get her to let it go. Caroline to the rescue.
"You need to worry a little less about Jeremy and a little more about yourself. Your number one stalker just escalated so I think it's time we switched from defense to offense."
Thankfully, Elena seemed to see the sense in that. After Caroline got a detailed description –who almost gets pulled out through a door by a pizza box they're holding?—she felt the beginnings of a plan form that she was pretty sure Stefan wouldn't like. Scratch that; she knew Stefan wouldn't like it because it was the same basic plan that his brother had come up with when this kind of thing had happened before. In that time that didn't happen. She was really going to have to figure out a non-awkward way to refer to that whole situation.
Mentally shaking her head to get back on track, Caroline asked if either of them had gotten a good look at the vampire. When they both said no, she told them she would go talk to Jeremy. She made it a point to tell them she was going to talk to him alone when Elena looked as if she would follow.
She could hear the sound of a pencil scratching quickly over paper as she neared Jeremy's door. She could only hope that Elena's mother hen routine –and that was supposed to be her thing, dammit!—hadn't put him in a sulky teenager state of mind. She did not have the time or patience right now to deal with that. She gave three firm knocks and waited.
"I said I don't want to talk about my feelings, Elena!"
It was times like these that Caroline was grateful that she was an only child.
"Then it's a good thing I'm not Elena and I don't actually care about how you're feeling right now."
A few seconds later Jeremy opened the door. He still didn't look pleased to see her, even if she wasn't Elena, but it was a step in the right direction.
"I'm hoping you managed to get a good look at the vampire who tried to get in tonight. No one else did."
Even as she was still talking, Jeremy had turned his back on her and was walking toward his desk. Caroline closed her eyes and took a deep breath to control the urge to grab him and shake him. When she opened her eyes, he was walking back toward her, sketchpad in hand. She ignored the smug look on his face in favor of looking at what she now held in her hands. Part of her kept forgetting that Jeremy was a very good artist. So good, in fact, that the image in front of her might as well have been a photograph.
"Apparently, all those drugs didn't totally rot your brain, baby Gilbert!"
While the words were almost dismissive, her smile was very pleased. Ignoring his rolled eyes and offended attitude, Caroline grabbed his arm and pulled him toward the stairs.
"Come on, we have plans to make and traps to set!"
In the end, it wasn't all that difficult to convince Stefan to go along with her plan. Granted, he wasn't really a big fan of using Elena as bait at the dance, but with her solid debating and some firm insistence from the bait herself, he was willing to go along. It helped that she reassured him that Elena would have plenty of bodyguards at the dance and would never be alone. What Caroline didn't tell Stefan –or Elena and Jeremy for that matter—was that she was pretty sure that this vampire was somehow connected to Anna and Ben. The only way for her to know for sure, however, was to ask Anna herself.
After arriving back home, she called Sheila to let her know exactly what was going on. Sheila agreed that it was best to confront Anna at her hotel room during the day.
"Of course, if she's not there, we're going to have to take the compass and go searching all over the damn town for her."
Thankfully, that proved unnecessary the next morning as Anna was in her room. While she didn't look overjoyed to see them, she wasn't looking particularly worried either. This made Caroline believe that she didn't have anything to do with the attack at Elena's house. However, that didn't necessarily mean that she didn't know about another vampire.
"We have a small problem right now. I was wondering if you knew anything about it."
After Sheila explained what had been going on and flashed Jeremy's drawing, Anna began to look a bit worried. When she finally spoke, her voice was pleading and she seemed to be rushing to get the words out.
"I know the vampire that's going after the doppelgänger. He's doing it because he's completely obsessed with Katherine. I didn't know he'd start going after the girl, or I would have told you he was here. Please, I didn't have anything to do with it, I just want my mother."
While they had intended to stick to playing hardball –and Sheila could pull scary off well enough to do it—Caroline couldn't help but feel for Anna. She knew what it was like to be so desperate for your mother. She could still feel the gut churning terror that had run through her when she found her mother lying on the floor near death after having been attacked by Silas. It was this memory that had her walking over to the bed where Anna was sitting as she practically begged Sheila not to take her mother away from her. Wrapping one arm around the other girl's shoulder, she hugged her close and offered up a suggestion to Sheila.
"She knows this vampire. She could help us figure out what he's going to do next and maybe even the best way to lure him out."
At her words, Anna sat up straight and seemed eager to prove she could be an asset.
"His name is Noah. He's arrogant and reckless. He'll assume that he'll be able to get to Elena and beat anything you send at him. If he's gotten to the point where he attacked once, he's not going to be able to wait to attack again."
This worked well with Caroline's plan to lure him out. She was still thinking about this when she saw Sheila move. Suddenly, the cold and ruthless witch was gone and in her place was the Grams that Caroline remembered from those rare times when she would be over with Bonnie to visit. There was nothing but warmth and understanding coming from her as she knelt in front of Anna and took the vampire's hands in her own.
"It will be okay. We're going to open the tomb, and you'll see your mother again. I understand why you didn't tell us about Noah before. I'm glad you told us now. We're going to have to stop him, but that doesn't change our deal. You help us, and we make sure you mother gets out and you can be with her again."
This seemed to calm Anna and shortly after they left with a promise from her to call if Noah made contact. Caroline then dropped Sheila off at her house and headed home to start getting ready for the dance.
You would think, having gone through this before, that Caroline would have no problem choosing what to wear to the Decade Dance. Just grab what she wore last time and go! While she knew that she hadn't actually worn the floral skirt and matching sweater before, she could still remember wearing it. That, coupled with the fact that she knew there would be trouble at the dance –not having trouble at a dance would be an oddity, but this time they were inviting it—Caroline instead opted for a pair of dungarees and a retro fifties top. Not exactly appropriate party wear for the time, but pants were better for fighting in than skirts.
Even with having to choose a completely new outfit, it didn't take Caroline the two hours to get ready that it did when she was human. However, that left even more time for her to worry and nothing to distract her from her anxiety and fears.
Luckily, she had managed to calm herself down before heading over to pick up Bonnie. Despite the jokes about having the best looking date at the dance –and both of them were looking very good in Caroline's opinion—there was still a palpable tension in the car. One day they would get to have a dance or a party where it didn't feel more like they were gearing up for another battle in a never-ending war. One day.
After all the time spent on edge while keeping an eye out for Elena's stalker and waiting for him to attack, taking him down was relatively anticlimactic. They all knew what he looked like so, even though Stefan was sent on a wild goose-chase after some poor kid whose only crime was accepting Noah's hoodie, they managed to spot him before he got too close. Of course –given that they wanted him to get close to Elena away from the crowd—that only meant that they got to watch as he chased her down.
Caroline was impressed by how much Elena fought back against the vampire. She could have played the damsel in distress and called for the help she knew was just waiting to pounce. However, she did get in a few good hits with a pencil –maybe those episodes of Buffy were doing some good after all. And, if there were points awarded for thinking on your feet, she'd definitely get them for the mop she broke to try and stake him.
However, Caroline thought that maybe Elena was a bit too compassionate to be a future vampire slayer. She looked shocked and even a bit appalled when Stefan used the same mop handle she had broken to stake Noah. Or maybe she wasn't too compassionate; maybe being a vampire made a person too ruthless. It really didn't matter. All the navel gazing in the world wouldn't change the fact that Noah wouldn't stop coming after Elena unless he was dead and none of them were going to let him hurt Elena.
Not surprisingly, none of them really felt like staying at the dance after that. Feeling too wired to go home, Caroline put in a quick call to Sheila to see if she was still awake. Luckily, the class she was supposed to teach the next day wasn't until the afternoon, so she was up studying Emily's grimoire. On the drive from the school, Caroline found herself thinking of Katherine. She knew that opening the tomb and letting out Pearl would force Katherine to make a move so that word wouldn't get back to Klaus that she was alive.
The only way that Caroline could think of to get Katherine to really listen would be to trap her somewhere so she couldn't escape and couldn't hurt anyone. It wasn't until Sheila opened the door that the perfect solution dawned on her. Caroline's wide eyes and excited demeanor had Sheila raising her eyebrow even before the vampire opened her mouth.
"We're going to have to let the Town Council know about the tomb."
While the plan took some hammering out, it was relatively simple. Two weeks later, members of said council were busy dragging desiccated vampires up the stairs leading out from the tomb where Stefan and Liz had stakes ready and waiting. Across town in a hotel, recovering from nearly a century and a half being trapped without blood, Pearl was being tended to by her daughter. On the bed next to them sat Harper –who Pearl had nearly begged them to release as well—being tended to by Caroline.
"They'll never know you were let out. We planted vervain and Bonnie and Sheila sped up the growth. As far as the Town Counsel knows, Stefan found out about the location of the tomb from some family journals, got curious, and found all the vampires inside. Not knowing how long they'd been there, he began planting vervain and trying to figure out how to kill them. Finally, he contacted his uncle to see if he had any ideas. He told them Zach informed him of the council and that he was more than willing to take over supplying them with vervain."
Pearl seemed to take this all in stride, showing no real reaction on her face. Finally, she tilted her head a bit and stared Caroline down.
"And what is it you want in return for freeing us?"
Though she didn't come right out and say she would cooperate, Caroline could tell by her tone of voice that she was keeping an open mind.
"I need you to tell me everything you know about the vampire who can kill Klaus. Specifically, I need to know how exactly Mikael plans on actually doing the killing."