They were not friends. That would be ridiculous. There was too much bad blood and oh, yeah, that thing with Rebekah's brother occupying Tyler's body, that was definitely not doing anything to endear Rebekah to Caroline. Frankly, it would have been enough to hate her that Rebekah always acted the way she did, all entitled and superior and disdainful toward Caroline. Maybe at a certain point in her life Caroline would have been motivated to try and change her mind, but that Caroline was long gone. Dead, in fact. They'd had that funeral and everything.
Still, with Rebekah staying in Mystic Falls and going to school and gleefully stealing Caroline's thunder every chance she got, they reached an impasse. It wasn't like they could blame each other for what had happened; Caroline had tried, trust her. She was sure so had Rebekah. She was sure Rebekah had succeeded at it, too, and just somehow something in her brain had short-circuited when she'd tried to voice how much she hated Caroline and "I'm sorry your boyfriend got possessed" had come out instead.
"I'm sorry your brother got staked," Caroline had said in the same wary, borderline insincere tone. She did mean it—maybe she wasn't sorry for Klaus, but there was more hanging on his staying alive than the fact of it. Besides, she did feel bad for Rebekah. It wasn't actually her fault she was stuck here again. It was her fault Elena was a vampire now, but if Caroline had a dollar for every time someone put Elena in danger, she would never have to compel her bank clerk to overlook her credit card debt again. At least Rebekah's plan had worked, which was more than Caroline could say for, well, a number of other plans in her recent past.
Now Rebekah was officially on the Events Committee, and Caroline was determined to make the most of it. She wasn't going to let some silly thing like loathing and resentment ruin her senior year of high school. She'd have more of them, sure, but not with people she'd known since childhood, and not coming off the proper first-through-eleventh-grade build-up. And anyway, why should they be at odds with each other? For the time being, they both wanted the same thing: they both wanted Klaus out of Tyler's body. Rebekah didn't care if Tyler died in the process and Caroline would be happy if they could bottle up Klaus or transfer his spirit or soul or whatever into a turtle or a streetlight or something if that was enough to keep everybody alive, but all in all they had a common goal, and if Bonnie could get along with Rebekah to work toward it—verbal digs and casual aneurysms aside—then so could Caroline.
It was a good thing Caroline had made that decision, because Bonnie needed her moral support whenever she deemed it necessary to sit down and talk to Rebekah, and Bonnie also had no patience to stick out those conversations and stormed out in a self-righteous huff pretty much every time, leaving Caroline and Rebekah alone with each other.
"How about a drink?" Rebekah said the third time, and headed for the Salvatores' kitchen without waiting for an answer.
"We could go to the Grill," Caroline said when she caught up with Rebekah. It was the sort of thing she suggested when she wanted to hang out casually with someone in a very public place.
Rebekah glanced over her shoulder with a set look in her eyes that said No louder than your average vocal cords could. She took some glasses out of the cupboards and went to look in the pantry. Caroline stood by for a bit, until Rebekah said, "Why don't you get some ice?"
"You realize this isn't actually your house," Caroline blurted. It wasn't like she cared about people taking Damon's things, stealing from a thief and everything, but this wasn't people and, okay, deciding to get along with someone didn't mean she couldn't be annoyed by some of the things they did. Or every single one of them. She still did as Rebekah asked; warm alcohol was disgusting.
Rebekah rolled her eyes and filled up a glass with something that looked and smelled like brandy. The bottle didn't have a label, so Caroline was just guessing. She was pretty good at guessing, though, in a broad sort of way, what with the heightened senses and the party-planning and like, her high school career in general.
"I'm not above nicking booze from Damon when he's too busy to guard his stash," Rebekah said when she was done. She held the glass out and Caroline took it.
The first sip still made her grimace, but it got better from there. Okay, it didn't really. Some things did, but brandy wasn't one of them. She'd just down the rest of the glass in one whenever Rebekah looked away. It wasn't the drunken haze she was opposed to. "Is there anything you are above?"
Rebekah narrowed her eyes like she was considering it. "Not really," she said in the end. "People, occasionally, though I prefer to think of it as them being below me. Or under me. That's rather more common." She tipped her glass toward Caroline before drinking, and didn't smile or anything, which was unsettling. Kept her eyes on Caroline the whole time, too.
Caroline sighed, said, "I'm not drunk enough for this," and finished her brandy even quicker than she'd planned.
"Greedy," Rebekah said as they moved back to the living room and she took over the minibar there. "That's all right. Helps my cause."
"And what would that cause be?" Caroline asked, sitting on one of the couches. Rebekah poured her a new drink from a different bottle, vodka this time. She gave Caroline an odd look when Caroline took a sip of it, but then just sat down without saying anything.
"Well, Damon had my brother desiccated, then failed to hide him well enough to prevent a fatal staking." Rebekah shrugged. "I'm retaliating."
"By stealing his booze?"
"And his blood. We happen to share favorites."
Caroline rolled her eyes. "Of course you do."
Slowly swirling her drink, Rebekah continued, "I briefly considered trashing his room, but then I realized he'd just be glad for the distraction. But the booze is the heart of the operation. I'm picking out what he will miss."
They drank, mostly, and didn't talk much. They weren't friends, after all, and Caroline didn't have any information she had to share with Rebekah like Bonnie did. When they finished the vodka, Rebekah got a couple of blood bags from the fridge in the basement, and they had a discussion about how Rebekah's favorite blood type was the worst (Caroline) and Caroline was too new of a vampire to have developed a taste for anything good, let alone to graze Rebekah's superior one (Rebekah). Then they fell into a companionable silence, until Caroline remembered she was supposed to check up on Elena. She and Bonnie had developed a system to make sure Elena didn't listen too hard to either Damon or Stefan. Bad, bad, unhealthy extremes. Plus, it was a great excuse for sleepovers.
Back in the kitchen, Rebekah put the empty bottles near the back and began to rearrange them. "I'm not going to rip through it. I'm building up to the cellar." One last switch, and everything in view looked the way it had when they got here. "You're going to want to be here for the red wines," she added casually, and slid the pantry door closed.
That's how it started.
The second time, they wandered around the house with their drinks in hand—dark rum this time—and tried on some dresses they found in the guest room. "Has a woman ever actually lived in this house?"
"Not that I recall," Rebekah said, "but I was only here a couple of times before the 20s. Kind of a bull's eye place to be, your hometown, when you're being hunted by your own father." Her voice was matter-of-fact, but it didn't invite any further questions. "Hold still," she told Caroline, and zipped up the dark red dress Caroline was wearing before stepping back.
Caroline looked at Rebekah's reflection, then turned back to face Rebekah herself. There was a smile pushing at the corners of Rebekah's lips, barely contained. "What?"
"I'm trying to figure out what Niklaus sees in you, that's all."
Caroline snorted—in a classy way, thanks—and said, "Are you serious?"
"There must clearly be some sort of charm to you that I am not privy to," Rebekah explained.
Caroline gasped. "Are you jealous?"
"Of course not," Rebekah said, which meant yes, but which also meant I don't want to talk about it. "Don't be ridiculous." If Rebekah were a friend, Caroline might have asked again, a couple more times before dropping it, just in case Rebekah did want to talk about it, but Rebekah wasn't a friend, plus Caroline was, like, the source of whatever Rebekah was feeling at the moment, so she didn't push it.
The third time, Bonnie had tried to communicate with Tyler, like he was some weird, two-personality, two-headed monster thing. Caroline had gone along with it because she wanted to talk to Tyler, even if he was still sharing his body with somebody else. It was a no-brainer. Rebekah had been there to make sure they didn't try anything funny, but it turned out the contact object Caroline had chosen wasn't good enough to complete the spell, so after that all Caroline really wanted to do was get drunk. Bonnie stuck around the first two rounds, and then excused herself, said she was going to see if she could alter the spell so it didn't need a physical baseline.
"If you're that hard up, you should just fuck him," Rebekah said after a while. Caroline's eyes widened in surprise. "Don't look at me like that, you know you would have done it if the witch had got through. At least you've got the right body. I'm sure your boyfriend would understand."
"I'm sure he wouldn't," Caroline muttered. Louder, she continued, "But that's not the point. I'm not having sex with Klaus."
"He'll pretend to be Tyler for you," Rebekah said easily, and took a drink. Some kind of fruity liquor, Caroline thought. She'd mixed Caroline a vodka martini, and then just kept the vodka going. It was exactly what Caroline needed. A fluke, probably. Possibly. If Caroline had noticed Rebekah's taste for brandy—and which type she usually went for—Rebekah might have noticed Caroline leaned toward vodka. It didn't mean anything.
Caroline didn't want to know how Rebekah was so sure about what Klaus would or wouldn't do. "I don't want him to pretend anything, thanks." Rebekah wasn't wrong that Caroline had been hoping she could—you know, but she wasn't that hard up. For sex or anything else.
The only acknowledgment she got from Rebekah was a brief shake of her head.
They sat in silence for a couple of minutes, and then Rebekah said in an unusually careful tone, "How do you even know your boyfriend's not dead?"
Caroline shrugged. The situation called for—for anxiety and full-body crying, if she was honest, but she wasn't ready to open those particular gates yet. "Alaric wasn't," she said. She raised her eyebrows. "You weren't. Besides, Bonnie says he's not."
"And you trust her? You trust the witch," Rebekah said incredulously, and Caroline shrugged again. It was seriously all she could manage, she wasn't kidding about that. "The same witch who bargained with all your lives and sacrificed him in the first place."
"I trust my friend," Caroline said firmly. "And you have nothing to complain about. She saved your brother."
Rebekah huffed out a laugh. "She saved you."
"Like you saved yourself by killing one of my best friends? No, wait, two of them."
"Not actually dead," Rebekah pointed out.
Caroline raised an eyebrow. "Uh, Elena did actually die. And if Stefan hadn't been there, Matt would have too. And he wouldn't have come back."
"Look," Rebekah said, standing up and walking over to the minibar. It looked a lot like pacing, just—with a purpose. A fake purpose. "I was just putting myself in your shoes. See how the lower half lives. Revel in how the lower half suffers." She added some ice to her glass, then set it down. "I'm going to get some blood. Do you want some?"
Caroline sighed. "Yeah. Sure."
The fourth time, Rebekah was waiting for her with a selection of reds lined up on the coffee table.
"We're doing wine-tasting," she announced grandly.
Caroline frowned. "I thought we were going to go over the budget for the talent show."
"Sure, that too," Rebekah said, and motioned Caroline over.
Rebekah's idea of wine-tasting consisted of taking a small sip of something, talking about it, and downing the rest of the glass. By the time they reached the sixth bottle, Caroline had signed off on her own plan without even second-guessing herself and her folder was lying forgotten on a chair, alongside her bag and her sobriety.
That was probably why she ended up curling up next to Rebekah on the couch, nursing a wine glass filled with blood. Damon would definitely notice they'd used wine glasses for this. At least he would whenever he moved back in; he was practically living on Elena's porch these days, splitting his time between there and Elena's actual house, when she let him. Caroline wished she'd had that many people to help her when she was in transition and after, but she could totally understand why Elena was fed up with all the babysitting.
Rebekah shifted away when their thighs touched, but after a few seconds she sighed and lay back herself, letting Caroline rest her head on her shoulder. "Be careful with that," Rebekah said, gesturing vaguely at Caroline's glass, and Caroline made a soft sound of acknowledgment.
When she woke up, she was lying on the couch, her head pillowed by a cushion she recognized from the guest room. Her neck still made an ugly noise when she stretched, but at least she didn't have the pattern of the couch printed on her face. She made a note not to thank Rebekah. She heard Stefan upstairs, and it was just as likely he'd done it anyway.
The fifth time, Rebekah showed up at Caroline's house with a sleepover bag mostly filled with alcohol. "Elena's at the Salvatores'," she said by way of explanation, which made no sense because it wasn't like she and Caroline had an outstanding date or anything, but Caroline wasn't about to say no to free booze, not after it had literally been delivered to her doorstep.
She took a look around and a deep breath. Rebekah cocked her head. Caroline sighed. "Fine, you can come in."
Rebekah pulled a couple of bottles out of her bag before dropping it in the middle of the hallway, and took them with her to the kitchen. She set them on the island and looked around with raised eyebrows.
"I was making cupcakes," Caroline said, crossing her arms over her chest. She didn't know why she was defensive, so she forced herself to drop them to her sides.
"Chocolate?" Rebekah asked, and Caroline nodded warily. "I'll help with the icing if you spike them."
They were already experimental and had coffee in them, so Caroline said, "Sure, whatever. Hand me the vodka." Rebekah frowned at her and held the bottle to her chest. "Not for the cupcakes," Caroline explained, and Rebekah released it gingerly, looking relieved when Caroline crushed some ice into two glasses, filled them up and left the bottle on the counter before returning to the batter.
While the cupcakes were in the oven, Caroline pulled out and rearranged the ingredients for a batch of mint chocolate cookies. She looked at Rebekah and said, "Can you wash that bowl?"
Rebekah's eyes widened slightly, and she looked askance at the sink. "No. Definitely not." She picked up her glass and leaned stiffly back in the stool.
"Well, since you're here you might as well help out," Caroline said.
"I'm here to get drunk, not to participate in your little pity party."
"It's not a—" Caroline trailed off. She filled the dirty bowl with water and got a new one, and told herself she wouldn't engage. That worked until the bowl slipped from her hands and landed on the island with a louder noise than it should have, at which point Caroline set her hands on the edge of the surface and shook her head. "It's not a pity party. It's not an anything."
"Are you going to eat all of that?" Rebekah asked. "Or is it like—are you a stress baker?"
"I'm not stressed," Caroline said, and started to mix the solids. She didn't even have to think about it; she'd been making these cookies since she was twelve. Gilbert family recipe. Elena and Bonnie and her had made a mess back then, but Caroline didn't make a mess anymore. She'd made them for practically every wake Elena had gone through from her parents' death on.
Okay, maybe she was sorting through some issues. But Rebekah didn't know anything about that.
"Is it because of Tyler?" Rebekah went on, and Caroline glowered. "Look, these things help me when I decide which drink to mix you. I have a system."
"You have a system?" Caroline said, raising an eyebrow.
"And you're a stress baker," Rebekah pointed out. "We all have our things."
Caroline considered talking to Rebekah about it—she'd exhausted the topic with both Bonnie and Elena already. By now, Caroline ran out of things to say after five minutes, and Bonnie always ended up going on a tangent about how to solve things while Elena looked like she was on the verge of saying how sorry she was she'd brought so much pain into everybody's lives and how much she wished she could do something about the situation and if she could help in any way they should tell her, she wasn't that unstable. Rebekah didn't really know what was going through Caroline's mind, so Caroline would have to explain from the beginning and Rebekah would just sit there and at least pretend to listen. And occasionally she'd toss in an insulting remark or two.
Yeah, that wasn't going to work.
"Guess," she said, and got the mixer. By the time she turned it off and unscrewed the whisk, Rebekah had found the cocktail shaker.
They worked together in silence for a while, with Rebekah handing Caroline drinks to try and occasionally pushing the bag of flour closer to Caroline with one finger and a lot of skepticism.
"Don't tell me you've never done any baking," Caroline said. There was no way.
"It's not unheard of," Rebekah said, "but these days I normally persuade others to do my bidding. You should try it. Anyway, I've got a guess."
"I didn't ask for that," Caroline said. "I wasn't serious."
"Well my guess is you're baking because you're not getting any," Rebekah said.
Caroline ignored her and started to knead the dough, though not before Rebekah scooped up a bit with her finger and stuck it in her mouth, nodding in a way that looked like approval. Caroline wasn't above enjoying that.
"Why don't you screw Matt?" Rebekah said, probably just to ruin the moment. At Caroline's wide eyes, she said, "He's not seeing anyone. I know you two have history." She waggled her eyebrows a little, effectively demonstrating she had no clue what kind of history Caroline and Matt had.
"That may be the worst idea you've had this month," Caroline said, and she was counting Rebekah's suggestions for Caroline's upcoming Miss Mystic Falls speech in that.
Rebekah picked up another bit of dough, and Caroline glared at her. "Sorry," Rebekah said. "But honestly, if sex would make you feel better you've got lots of options."
"Oh, forgive me if I don't jump for joy at the idea of sleeping with my ex," Caroline said. Rebekah shook her head like Caroline was slow. "Or with my boyfriend's body without my boyfriend in it. No, thanks."
Rebekah shrugged, and then she said, "Ooh," and picked up the cocktail shaker. Caroline rolled her eyes.
When she walked Rebekah to the door a couple of hours later—not that she had to, obviously, but it was polite—Rebekah said, "I think I see it," her voice weird and far too close.
"See what?" Caroline asked, frowning, and Rebekah laid a hand on Caroline's waist, grabbing a fistful of her shirt and stepping closer. Normally Caroline would have instinctively jumped back, but she was well-fed and pleasantly buzzed and it was nice, having someone's hands on her, even if it was just one hand and it belonged to Rebekah. God, she really hadn't had sex in forever.
"Why you've got so many people eating out of your hand," Rebekah said, her voice low, close to a whisper, and kissed Caroline.
Caroline gasped, but she didn't move away; after a second she let herself respond, her lips opening under Rebekah's mouth, her hands settling on Rebekah's arms. Rebekah was warm and insistent, and her hands felt like they were holding Caroline up.
Caroline's knees wobbled when Rebekah pulled away, her lips wet and full of color. Caroline swallowed. Rebekah picked up her bag, slung it over her shoulder and said, "See you tomorrow."
It took Caroline a full minute to compose herself enough to close the front door. By then, Rebekah was out of sight.
There was sunlight coming in through the windows.
That wasn't odd, so Caroline buried her head back in the pillow and made a decision never to go to sleep without closing the curtains again. In her defense, she'd been pretty drunk. And dazed. And confused.
The weight on the mattress only registered when she rolled onto her side and it didn't give, and there were another five, ten seconds before Caroline opened her eyes.
"This is creepy," she said flatly.
Without missing a beat, Rebekah replied, "I know." There was a stretch of silence where they just looked at each other, and then Rebekah said, "Look, I just wanted to make sure you knew, since you're a bit slow—when I said you've got options, I meant I'm one of them. You don't have to take me up on it if you don't want to. I'm just saying."
Last night's conversation—and... the rest of it—came slowly to Caroline. She knew what Rebekah meant right away, obviously, but the context of it was still a little hazy. She didn't think anyone could blame her for that. "Okay," she said in the end. "Thanks?"
"Sure." Rebekah was already sitting at the foot of the bed, slipping on her shoes. "See you at school," she said, and vanished.
The Events meeting after school ran late, but that wasn't exactly unusual. Most people had started filing out when they realized Rebekah was starting to repeat herself just to annoy Caroline—well, probably just to annoy Caroline. She had Ideas, but they weren't good ones. It was Caroline's duty as head of the committee to disregard them.
"You don't have to be an asshole, you know," Rebekah said. Caroline didn't look up from the files she was distributing into her Events binder, which turned out to be a bad idea: it caught her completely off guard when she felt a hand on her arm. Last she'd checked, Rebekah had been on the other side of the room. Now she was sitting on the conference table right next to Caroline, and her thumb was stroking the inside of Caroline's wrist.
Caroline raised her head. "Oh, like you're one to talk."
Rebekah gave her an odd look, head tilted, lips slightly parted. Was she trying to be seductive? It was—it wasn't off-putting, exactly, just odd coming from Rebekah, regardless of the night before.
She eyed Rebekah curiously. "Why do you keep doing this?" she asked, and Rebekah gave her a once-over in response. "Not that. Why do you hang out with me?"
There was a long silence while Rebekah seemed to be deciding whether she should dignify Caroline's question with a real answer. Then, she looked toward the window, her eyes narrowing at the sunlight, and said, "It's slightly less pathetic to get plastered when you've got company."
That was true. True enough that Caroline had nothing to say to it, appropriate or otherwise.
"Meet me at my house in a couple of hours," Rebekah said, and Caroline snorted.
"No. No way." Talking to Klaus every now and then was already more exposure to Rebekah's brothers than she was comfortable with. She didn't want to risk running into Kol. "We can have a drink at the Salvatores'," she offered, and Rebekah nodded, squeezed Caroline's wrist, and stood up to go.
A drink at the Salvatores' turned into making out on the couch turned into Caroline driving herself and Rebekah back to her house and hoping her mom wasn't back from work yet. They could still go in her room through a window or something if she was, but it was all awkward enough without adding to it.
Thankfully, she wasn't, and Rebekah pinned Caroline to the wall as soon as they were inside, her hips holding Caroline there. She kissed Caroline quickly once, twice before she let herself linger and the kiss turned deep and wet. It was still surprisingly slow and gentle, though Caroline wasn't sure what she'd been expecting—some kind of violence, maybe. All the Original kids seemed to have a ridiculous amount of anger problems, but apparently that didn't always translate to the way they acted in bed. Or in hallways.
Caroline cupped Rebekah's cheek with her palm, the skin soft and almost warm. Rebekah's hands slid under Caroline's shirt, stroking her back for a little while before they slipped into the back pockets of her pants. Rebekah moved on to kissing her jaw, her neck, and said, "Come on, I'll carry you up," her hands urging Caroline up, up, until Caroline complied and wrapped her legs around Rebekah.
They were in her bedroom in a flash, Caroline's bedspread soft under her back, her head brushing a plush giraffe Rebekah grabbed and tossed into a chair.
"Was going for the floor," Rebekah said, and yanked Caroline's jeans off before climbing over her again, settling over her thighs. She undid the latch on her own bra before pulling her top over her head, and let them both fall off her arms. Caroline reached out for her, but Rebekah clasped Caroline's wrists in one hand and pushed her arms back until their hands hit the pillow. "Admit I was right," Rebekah said, and Caroline whined deep in her throat.
"You had a point," she conceded. By the time all the words were out, Rebekah had her free hand cupping Caroline over her underwear, her fingers positioned just right enough to be a tease. "Admit you don't hate me."
"Don't push your luck," Rebekah said, and let go of Caroline's hands, going for the hem of Caroline's shirt instead.
Caroline held her shirt in place. "Admit it."
Rebekah rolled her eyes, and Caroline stared at her until Rebekah let out a long-suffering sigh. "Fine. I only severely dislike you. That's the point, isn't it? If it mattered you wouldn't be doing this," she said, and kissed Caroline again, just in time to stop her from freaking out about the fact that she was kind of cheating on her boyfriend, even if he didn't really exist so much right now.
Then Rebekah's hands were on her breasts and her knee was pressed between Caroline's legs, giving Caroline something to rub against while Rebekah touched her literally everywhere else. She seemed determined to make Caroline lose it, so Caroline stopped thinking and just went with it.
They still weren't friends. Definitely not friends. Just—whatever. That was about as much as Caroline could handle it being, anyway; she didn't need a label for it. It could just be what it was.