Author: tmbreck / eclectic_tongue / eclectic / Lilbreck
Characters: Ben McKittrick, Bonnie Bennett, Caroline Forbes, Katherine Pierce, Klaus Mikaelson, Maddox, Mason Lockwood
Word Count: 4,817
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.
Being best friends with Caroline Forbes meant that you spent a lot of time behind the scenes setting up for all the fun –as well as the boring—things that went on in town. That's how Bonnie found herself filling little fishbowls with water right alongside of Elena in preparation for the carnival.
"Okay, where is Caroline and why is she not helping us?"
While she could tell by Elena's voice that she was only half-serious, Bonnie still replied, "There's a shortage of prizes for the ring toss, the cards haven't arrived for bingo yet, and she's convinced that the balloon and dart game has been rigged."
At this both girls stopped what they were doing and just stared at each other for a second before both giggling. Caroline was not a gracious loser, and last year she hadn't been able to pop enough balloons to get the prize she wanted and was convinced the game had been rigged. They hadn't heard the end of it for about a month.
Just as they got back to work, Bonnie glanced up in time to catch Caroline walking toward them with Maddox following closely on her heels. You had to hand it to Maddox; he had not let Caroline's refusal to sleep with him stop him from throwing himself into his duties as her personal gofer. Caroline had confessed to her that, while she felt bad at first, she wasn't going to refuse to benefit from something he so obviously wanted to do. Right now, however, Caroline didn't look like she was thinking about her new personal assistant.
"Just so the both of you know, the balloons were completely underinflated. I don't doubt they were last year as well."
While her tone was haughty, the wink she threw at them said she was well aware of how ridiculous her obsession with the game was. Apparently, something about being a vampire had let Caroline relax a bit and learn to not take herself so seriously. She seemed much happier now. In fact, she seemed a lot happier than she had in a while, a far cry from the Caroline who had worked herself up over the Miss Mystic Falls pageant in order to keep from getting worked up over the upcoming ritual and all that entailed.
As Caroline went on to explain to Elena which booths still needed to be stocked with prizes, Bonnie caught sight of Carter at one of the booths over her friend's shoulder. He had not been subtle in his flirting when she and Elena had first approached him on one of Caroline's many missions for them. She had to admit it was very nice to be the one noticed for a change. And it didn't hurt that he was very good looking and very good at flirting. She was brought out of her musings by the realization that her friends were now silent. When her eyes shifted back to Caroline, her friend was facing away from her and staring at the young man who had just been occupying her mind.
Caroline's smile, when she turned back around, was excited and contagious. She leaned forward, resting her hands on the table holding the fish bowls.
"Do we have another contender for Miss Bennett's affections?"
Bonnie took a deep breath and opened her mouth, though she wasn't really sure what to say. However, she was spared having to say anything by Elena.
"His name is Carter, he works for the carnival, and he is very much into Bonnie. So, obviously, he has good taste."
The smile Elena turned on her was somewhere between proud and flirtatious. There were times she absolutely loved her friends.
"Wait… another contender?"
And there were times she wished they weren't so involved in her life. Elena's tone clearly demanded, and expected, more details. If Bonnie had any say in it, however, those details would not be forthcoming.
"Elena, have you noticed that your brother has turned into quite the handsome young man?"
Elena looked very confused and started to answer with, "Why would I…" and then Bonnie could see the instant that she got what Caroline was trying to say. Yeah, she definitely wished her friends weren't so involved in her life.
She couldn't tell if Elena was upset by the information or if she was just having problems processing it. Suddenly, her eyes got wide and her mouth dropped open for a second.
"If you start dating him, I want absolutely no details. Ever. None."
And suddenly all the worry and anxiety left Bonnie and she couldn't help but give a small laugh in its absence.
"We're not… It's not… It may be nothing."
Caroline's not so subtle snort clearly showed she didn't think it was 'nothing'. Bonnie had asked her when her teasing about Jeremy had begun, if they had something from before but had gotten a vague non-answer. To be honest, she wasn't sure exactly how to take that. Did it mean that they were an almost, or a short lived thing, or did it mean that they were, in Caroline-speak, epic?
Deciding to try her best to change the topic, Bonnie brought up something that had been worrying her a bit.
"Not to get you all worried about upcoming rituals, but do you think we'll be hearing from Katherine?"
Caroline opened her mouth to answer, but it was the guilty, "Um," coming from Elena that drew Bonnie's attention.
"I know I should have told you guys first thing today, but I just wanted us to have some normal time."
She could see Elena working up the courage to continue, but Caroline quickly interrupted her.
"Let me guess, your look-alike has already shown up and started causing trouble?"
She didn't seem surprised that Katherine had already made an appearance, nor did she seem at all put out that Elena hadn't said something sooner. Ignoring the fact that she was a bit put out Caroline hadn't said something to her, she instead decided to address two very important questions.
Turning to Elena, she held up her index finger and said, "One, what and," turning to Caroline, she held up her middle finger alongside it and said, "two, how did you know?"
Elena was the first to answer with, "Katherine paid a visit to John and Stefan. And how did you know?"
Caroline rolled her eyes at the question –Bonnie would have to remind her friend later that not all of them had lived through this before—but answered without a hint of the 'duh' that was in her expression showing through in her voice.
"My mom and I had a talk with John yesterday in the hospital to convince him to leave Mystic Falls, and he told us that Katherine was the one who put him there. Also, Mason Lockwood is in town, and he's the werewolf that Katherine was going to offer up to Klaus."
While Bonnie was well aware of the Lockwood connection to werewolves, Elena managed to catch on pretty quickly.
"Wait, if Mason Lockwood is a werewolf, then…"
Caroline quickly interrupted with, "You're not wrong. However, maybe we should wait until we're somewhere a bit less out in the open to talk about everything?"
While the idea that they shouldn't talk about this stuff out where anyone could overhear them was a sound one, Bonnie knew it was just a way for Caroline to figure out how much she needed to tell Elena about their plans. Though, knowing Caroline, it wouldn't be very much. While part of her almost resented how removed from the grittier and more morally questionable aspects of everything they were keeping Elena, another part of her was all for it. After all, she wasn't so sure her friend would go along with the idea that people –even some she knew—might end up as cannon fodder as a result of all their plans.
Of course, Caroline was still upset that she had unthinkingly told Elena that they already had the moonstone. According to her, the fewer people who knew exactly what they did and didn't have, the better. The part of Bonnie that still felt guilty that they had kept Caroline out of the loop when they first found out about vampires wondered if they had the right to keep information from people. However, Caroline had made a compelling case for it being safer for everyone that way.
Two days later, as she and Caroline were waiting outside the old Lockwood cellar where they had been camped out all night to make sure no one accidentally freed Mason, she had to question why she was so okay with morally questionable actions for the sake of the supposed greater good. She also found herself questioning when skipping school on a Monday to recruit a werewolf to play the part of a ritual sacrifice had become a part of their lives.
Her existential crisis was prematurely interrupted when Caroline suddenly perked up. Grabbing the extra bottle of water they had brought with them, she followed her friend down the steps toward the cellar door. Just as they reached the door, it opened and they were greeted by the sight of a very surprised-looking Mason. Caroline wasted no time in getting right to the point.
"Hi, Mason. We seriously need to talk."
She could see him concoct and reject various different excuses for why he was there. Caroline had said they had to play it hard with him, though, so Bonnie stopped him before he could try one of those excuses out on them.
"Let's skip the part where you try and pretend that you're not a werewolf, she's not a vampire, and I'm not a witch. We don't have time for games."
He appeared to still be gearing up to try and deny everything for a few seconds, but then his body seemed to relax all at once. A patronizing smirk formed on his face and his tone made Bonnie want to smack him when he answered.
"Did you girls have a bit too much to drink, or have you been reading too many trashy paranormal romances?"
Apparently, his voice had the same effect on Caroline because the next thing Bonnie knew, her friend had Mason held up against the wall with the toes of his chucks barely scrapping the floor. Her voice, when she spoke, was pure Caroline-grade mean girl.
"This is more of a supernatural horror, wolf-boy. In it, our idiotic werewolf protagonist has found himself playing the fool for a very cunning vampire who plans to offer him up as a sacrifice. Luckily for him, a friendly witch and vampire duo come along to save the day. Wanna know how it ends?"
It didn't take much more to convince Mason that it was in his best interests to work with them. He seemed a bit less than enthused with the dying part, but when Caroline brought up the fact that, if he should run, they could simply trigger either his brother or nephew and use them, he only gave her a bitter smile and said he'd do it.
"Friendly witch and vampire duo?"
For a second, Bonnie could see a bit of guilt creep across her friend's face before she gave him a blank look.
"For varying definitions of friendly. Either way, you stick around and we'll make sure you make it through all this. And don't try convincing Tyler or his dad to leave, I've got them both compelled to stay in town no matter what."
Mason simply nodded his understanding and they all cleared out of the cellar. As he was getting into his black SUV, however, Caroline called out his name. When he turned to acknowledge her, she simply said, "Tell Katherine that I'm still waiting to hear from her. Also, you should probably warn Tyler about his risk of going furry once a month."
He gave a huff of what could almost be called amusement before he got completely into the vehicle and closed the door behind him. Watching him drive away, Bonnie asked in a casual tone, "When exactly did you compel Tyler and the Mayor not to leave town?"
Turning a bright smile on her, Caroline replied, "Shortly after the next time I see them!"
It took a moment for it to sink in that Caroline had pulled that idea out of nowhere while they were talking to Mason. Turning to follow her to her new car –her dad's guilt gift, she had explained— Bonnie asked if she thought Katherine would finally show up.
"If she does, she does. If not, well we don't really need her, now do we?"
And it was true. In the end, finding and talking to Katherine was just another way to explain away Caroline knowing far more than she really should. It would make things a touch more convenient, but it wasn't all that necessary. Though Bonnie got the feeling that Caroline really wanted to save her. Not because she cared about Katherine, but just to prove she could. Maybe to make up for the fact that she couldn't save other people. God, but they were too young for this shit.
That Friday, as she sat in the Grill with Caroline, Ben, and Maddox –he seemed to be developing some serious stalker tendencies with Caroline— having lunch, Bonnie could almost forget that their world had changed so much. They had managed to go three whole days without mentioning anything supernatural beyond Caroline asking her how training with her Grams was going. It felt… normal.
She was drawn out of her musings when she caught sight of Elena walking in through the door. When she saw her look toward the table everyone was sitting at, she quickly raised her hand to catch the other girl's attention. There was a slight pause where it looked as if Elena didn't recognize them, but the moment was quickly gone, and everyone was making room for her at the table.
With Elena's arrival, however, talk quickly turned to the supernatural and what they needed to do. For once, Elena was the one who seemed to be instigating the conversation. As Bonnie was reassuring her that the spell to bring her back would work she caught Caroline checking her phone from the corner of her eye. For a moment, her face went completely blank, and then smoothed over into what Bonnie had once heard her refer to as her 'boring dinner smile'. When Bonnie was done explaining the spell again, that smile turned into a sneer, and Caroline focused her full attention on Elena.
"You know, the act is really good considering how you probably haven't spent much time around Elena. I'm impressed, actually."
There was absolute silence from everyone around the table as Caroline and Elena –no, Katherine, apparently—stared each other down. And then Katherine leaned back in her chair, her body posture and expression changing completely. Suddenly, regardless of the fact that nothing had really changed, Bonnie was looking at a completely different person.
"As am I, Blondie. It took both Stefan and John a bit longer to figure out I wasn't their boring little Elena. What gave it away?"
Caroline held up her phone, showing a text she'd just received from Elena – it showed her and Stefan holding a bowl of popcorn. Bonnie remembered that Elena had said that she wouldn't be having lunch with them because she wanted some Stefan time. While it hadn't seemed unusual for her friend to change plans and meet them anyway, Bonnie still felt like kicking herself for not being suspicious.
Katherine rolled her eyes at the picture, turning her head to stare off to the side as if she were bored with the whole situation. Clearly, she wasn't overly upset at being found out. Moving only her eyes, she looked at Caroline once again.
"You wanted to talk to me, Caroline?" Relaxing further back into her seat, she spread her hands out in front of her as if to say "so talk".
Caroline settled back into her seat, mirroring Katherine's pose, and told her what they needed and what they were willing to do for her. Katherine, for her part, looked understandably unimpressed. And, going by her tone of voice, she had very little faith in Caroline's abilities.
"You think I'm going to bet my life on some baby vampire's ability to negotiate with Klaus?"
There was a time when the Caroline that Bonnie knew would have bristled at the dismissive tone; she didn't take kindly to anyone doubting her. It was possible that Caroline still felt that way but, if so, she had learned to hide it much better. Her expression and voice were calm and slightly condescending when she spoke.
"What I think is that you don't have much of a choice. We have the doppelgänger, we have a willing vampire, and, thanks to you, we have a willing werewolf. We've also got a much better idea of where the moonstone is than you do. Not only that, but you're effectively trapped in this town."
At this, Katherine looked very interested. She quickly covered that with an exaggerated pout and a patronizing head-tilt.
"Did your little witchy friends put some kind of spell on me?"
Bonnie could almost hear the "seriously" in Caroline's expression at that.
"No, but if you try to leave Mystic Falls, I have no doubt that Klaus will probably snap you up about three seconds before you can cross the town line."
Caroline's smile was almost sympathetic as she caught Katherine's look of surprise.
"I'm going to assume that John and Isobel never told you that Klaus already knows about Elena, otherwise you'd have figured out on your own that he's already here."
For a moment, there was a crack in Katherine's expression, and Bonnie could clearly see her flight or fight response start to kick in. Caroline was right there, however, reaching forward to hold onto one of her hands.
"I have a safe place you can go to that no other vampire would be willing to enter. Klaus won't waste his time trying to get to you, at least not right away. I can use that time to try and negotiate for your freedom. All you have to do is tell us everything you know."
It didn't sit well with Bonnie that they had to negotiate for a pardon –it was the word Caroline had originally used when talking about the Katherine situation—when all Katherine had wanted to do was to survive. However, the situation was what it was, and no amount of outrage was going to change it. She could practically hear that last sentence in Caroline's voice.
Katherine stared at Caroline for a long moment, before abruptly standing up. She gave a brisk, "I'll call you," and then quickly walked out of the Grill, leaving the table silent behind her.
Caroline took a deep breath and then turned back to her food. Before she could take a bite, however, Maddox spoke.
"What if you can't convince Klaus to spare her?"
Bonnie could see the weight of that possibility settle over Caroline and when she looked at Maddox, his expression was as close to cold as she'd ever seen him direct toward Caroline.
"Well, then he doesn't spare her. I still have to try."
With a tilt of his head, he asked, "But why?"
The look Caroline turned on him was the same that she had turned on Grams when she'd asked why she risked continuing to help Ben. The look seemed to ask how the person couldn't see the obvious. Her answer to Maddox was even similar to the one she had given then.
"Because it feels like the right thing, and that's the kind of person I'm choosing to be."
After that the conversation turned back to all the normal things they had been discussing before Katherine's arrival. The mood, however, was a little more somber. Over the next week, Caroline's more relaxed demeanor seemed to take a hit. Even Katherine taking their deal and telling her everything she knew didn't seem to help. Perhaps part of it was that she was regretting telling Katherine about the fact that she had time traveled.
When Caroline had told her that, she thought for a second that her friend had lost her mind. Listening to her reasons however –needing someone who was used to thinking five steps ahead and knew Klaus— it made sense. It still didn't feel right, though, especially when Caroline told her that they couldn't actually trust Katherine to do anything beyond saving her own skin. They hadn't talked about it anymore, and Caroline appeared to be trying to drown herself in normal life once again.
Normal life now consisted them hanging out with Ben and Maddox, watching movies, and talking about what they were going to wear to the Masquerade Ball –Caroline looking far too amused that Maddox had invited himself along as her date even as she turned him down. They were in the middle of a teasing argument over the date that wasn't going to happen when Bonnie saw Ben take out his phone and glance at it. She saw his face go blank, but didn't think anything of it as he stood up and walked into the kitchen, turning instead back to the others.
Caroline caught sight of him as well and called out, "Hey, Ben, could you grab me a water?"
Bonnie saw the confusion on her face when Ben didn't answer, and then something like dread follow quickly. Looking back into the kitchen, she saw him grab something from one of the drawers and turn back toward them.
He raised the stake he now had in his hand to his chest as he said in a dull and toneless voice, "Someone's gotten a bit cocky and needs a lesson."
She knew she had to do something to stop this, but she was far too shocked to even think, let alone act. Thankfully, Caroline didn't seem to similarly affected. Faster than Bonnie could blink, she was standing right in front of Ben, hands on the stake and struggling to pull it away from him.
"Bonnie, get rid of the stake!"
For a second every spell and bit of magic her Grams had worked on with her disappeared from her memory. When Caroline screamed her name again, though, everything came rushing back to her. A quick burst of magic, a push of her will, and the stake was disintegrating in their hands. Ben wasted no time in pushing Caroline away from him and she went flying back into the kitchen bar with enough force that Bonnie was pretty sure it would have to be replaced. She saw Caroline suddenly scrabbling around her, but her attention was caught by movement from Ben.
He walked over to the window and threw open the heavy curtains. His skin quickly turned red and blistering in the sun. Another push with her magic and Ben was flying back away from the window and the curtains were once again closed. A split second after that, Caroline was straddling his chest and snapping his neck. Her head bowed, she took a deep breath and then gave a quick nod, seemingly having come to a decision. She slipped Ben's ring back on his finger –and that explained what she had been searching for—and then strode determinedly to where Maddox was still seated in his chair.
Caroline had him by the throat and pushed so far over the back of the couch that he his body had bowed up into hers where it was poised over him. Her face was nearly touching his and Bonnie could almost feel her anger from where she had moved to sit against the couch next to where Ben was laying.
"I don't care how you do it, puppet boy, but you need to get hold of your master and find out what I need to do to stop this."
She pushed off of him, roughly jerking his head to the side as she did. She then stomped over to Ben, lifted his upper body and, sitting down, laid his head in her lap. At Bonnie's questioning look she said, "If he comes to, I'll have to snap his neck again because I don't think he's going to stop."
She turned just in time to see Maddox lifting his hips to take his phone out of his back pocket. What she wished she hadn't seen was very obvious erection he had. As she turned away in disgust, she heard his phone chime.
"He says you should answer your phone."
Before she could ask Maddox how he could pass on a message from Klaus without actually contacting him, there was a ring from the phone on the coffee table. Caroline's phone.
She was already getting to her feet to answer Caroline's phone when she replied, "Yeah."
The number on the display was unfamiliar, and there was no name to go with it. Bonnie answered the phone, but before she could say anything, a very amused British voice began speaking.
"Bonnie, sweetheart, be a good little witch and put me on speakerphone."
She could see Caroline take a sharp breath in and seem to brace herself. As she sat down next to her friend, close enough to feel the slight buzz of magic from the piece of her soul in the other girl, she prepared for the worst. Even though it was only a phone and not actually Klaus in the room, she still didn't feel comfortable looking at it. Instead, she kept her eyes on Caroline.
"I have to say, Caroline, I am impressed by how quickly you managed to catch on to what was happening and subdue our dear Ben."
Caroline's eyes closed, and she slowly shook her head, letting out a rueful laugh.
"Let me guess, you have your pet's house wired for video?"
Bonnie could feel her eyes widen and she stared at her friend in shock. What was she thinking? Klaus, however, seemed more… amused by her response than offended. When Caroline caught Bonnie's expression, she gave an apologetic shrug. Apparently, she had no idea what she was thinking either.
"How do I get him to stop?"
Caroline's voice was tired and almost pleading; Klaus's voice, when he responded was very calm and sent a chill down Bonnie's spine.
"Do you know why Benjamin was trying to end his life?"
The question threw Bonnie for a loop, though Caroline seemed to almost have been expecting it.
"I did something you didn't like. Going by what Ben said, you think I've gotten arrogant and it's offended you somehow. What did I do, and how can I get you to stop Ben from killing himself?"
There was no trace of mean-girl, no trace of the confident vampire who knew exactly how to get everything done, but there was no begging in her tone, either.
"Sweet Caroline," Bonnie could see her jaw twitch at the hated nickname. "You've been making promises in my name, and to someone who I most definitely want dead. You've also been making assumptions about what I will and will not waste my time on."
She could practically feel Caroline's muscles tighten, and she could see a shadow of dark veins briefly appear around her friend's eyes. Please, lord, don't let her piss him off!
"Your little puppet wasn't very good at giving you the whole story. I only promised Katherine that I would try to convince you to let her free. And while I did assume you wouldn't waste your time trying to get her out of a tomb she can't escape from, I only told her what I needed to in order to get her to cooperate."
There was a moment of silence in which Bonnie seriously began to fear for all of their lives, and then Klaus's voice came through as cheerful as before.
"Fair enough, love. I'll make sure to have a talk with Maddox about how detailed his stories should be, and you keep an eye out for my moonstone. We'll talk about what deals I might be willing to make once you find it."
She couldn't tell from the look on Maddox's face if he was afraid of this upcoming 'talk' or excited over it. To be honest, she really didn't want to think about it.
"Maddox, when Benjamin comes too, make sure he knows that he did a good job of getting the message across. And, Caroline? Make sure you don't lose this number. I do not enjoy being ignored."
Finally, there was the end of call beep, and then silence. There was nothing left for the three of them to do except wait for Ben to come to. That, and think about what, if anything, today changed.