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Uncharted Crown

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It was an awareness that first crept up her spine, causing her to awake with a shiver. Caroline's eyes moved to the clock, it was midnight, had she really slept that long? She knew she'd been dosed with a lot of vervein but that was ridiculous. Her mind went back to how Damon and Matt had rescued her earlier. Her gratefulness to Matt came easily; for Damon…less so.

Caroline couldn't shake off the feeling of unease and she eyed her phone. No messages lit up her screen and she didn't dare call Stefan or Bonnie, just in case she unintentionally gave the game away at the ritual. Her stomach lurched and coiled in on itself and Caroline rested a hand fearfully on the curve of her belly. She didn't get stomach cramps. Could it be a side effect of the vervein?

And that was when the pain barrelled into her, scalding her skin like she'd stepped into the sun without her ring. The small part of her mind, that wasn't writhing in agony wondered fuzzily if Klaus had marked her somehow; was it possible she was still going to die tonight, except in her bed instead of a ritual circle?

Her spine warped and shattered, and Caroline screamed as the cartilage fused into a new curve. She half scrabbled, half fell out of her bed, her eyes widening in horror as she watched her fingers claw, yellow blonde fur slipping out of her pores as if it had a right to belong there. For a moment, her mind refused to believe her eyes. She was a vampire, vampires don't turn into wolves!

She heard the front door click downstairs and instantly recognised her mother's gait as she entered the house. An image flashed into her mind, straight out of a horror film. Her, crazed and in wolf form, tearing into her mother before she had time to defend herself.

She had to get out of here.

Caroline tried to get to her feet, but they gave out under her as pain ripped through her haunches. Muscles and bone bunched and warped under her now sleekly furred skin and Caroline struggled against screaming aloud as her face seemed to pull against herself. For a moment, her eyes to dimmed, before brightening into greyed sharpness and. her ears twitched forward. She could hear her mother, cautious now, creeping up the stairs, she could not let this confrontation happen.

Ignoring the pain, Caroline hurtled herself at her bedroom window, splintering it into a shower of glass. She landed on the lawn on four paws, fully transformed, and let out a howl of protest as a bullet skimmed her skin. She looked up to see her mother glaring down at her over the barrel of her regulation firearm. All things considered, she couldn't blame her. It's not every day you come home to find a werewolf trashing your daughter's bedroom.

Another bullet dug a groove into lawn beside her, and Caroline skittered on her paws as she spun and ran for cover. The woods beckoned and Caroline let her gait lengthen as she became a blurred shadow in the night.

It was another wolf, Klaus was sure of it. Not a hybrid, of course, he was the only one of his kind, but surely a werewolf - maybe that Lockwood kid that he was originally going to use for the ritual. Well, perhaps he could still be of some use. Klaus would bestow on him the honour of being his first sired hybrid.

Klaus tilted his head, his ears flicking forward. The paws were light but hesitant, definitely a young werewolf unsure of his new form. Of course he was in the same boat, but he had the advantage of age and hybrid strength. If Klaus could make him submit now, his work would be easier when the pup retook human form in the morning. Make him bow and accept him as his alpha, and he might not even have to turn him by force. Klaus's tongue lolled out in excitement, giving his wolf features an amused cast. The chase was on.

He pounced into the deep pools of shadow and followed the soft beat of the werewolf's paws as they dove deeper into the wilder parts of the wood. He could hear the werewolf's breath now, although he was not catching up as quickly ashe originally envisaged. Klaus, as a hybrid, had a singular advantage over a werewolf - he retained his human acumen; but a werewolf that was quick on his feet might still give him some sport.

They were heading for the river that sped away from the foot of the falls, and once again felt his respect for the wolf rise. He was trying to confuse his trail. Klaus redoubled his efforts to catch up and pounced just as the wolf tensed to leap into the water. They tussled in the leaves, snarling and rolling, and Klaus slowly realised two things as the smaller, sleeker wolf attempted to bite into his ruff despite being obviously overpowered. The wolf was a female...and a hybrid.

Dawn left a warm dapple of light filtering through the tree growth, and the first scent that filled Caroline's hazy mind as that of deer blood. She groaned, rolling onto her back, and didn't tense until a shadow blocked the warmth of the sun.

"If I'd known he woul'd have company, I'd have brought a wider array of clothing," a dry voice said, and Caroline scrambled to her feet as she recognised the figure, Elijah Mikaelson, as he shrugged off his jacket She looked at him warily as he offered it to her, and Caroline realised, with a shrivelling sense of embarrassment, that she was naked.

"Oh come now, Elijah, you know how these things happen," said a too cheerful voice and Caroline turned slowly to see a unfairly fresh looking pretty boy zip up a pair of jeans. Klaus Mikaelson, she presumed. Why were all the evil ones so ridiculously hot? She eyed the steaming carcass a few feet away, Had they hunted together last light? This was too weird.

"What did you do to me?" she asked slowly.

Klaus Mikaelson's eyebrows shot up. "I didn't do anything to you, love. It was mutually beneficial evening. Don't you remember?"

It all came rushing back; the chase to the river, the tussle in the undergrowth, the wary detente as they circled each other, and then the deer that had happened upon them. The hunt had been amazing. She shivered at at the memory, for reasons she didn't want to analyse too closely. Klaus's grin grew wider, and Caroline heard Elijah sigh.

"That's not what I meant," Caroline muttered, trying to regain her equilibrium as she huddled into the jacket. "Yesterday I was a vampire and today I am a hybrid. That doesn't just happen. You and your witchy ritual did something to me."

His head cocked, his eyes examining her intently. "Interesting," he said. He threw a look at his brother, who shrugged.

"It would take an almost unprecedented array of events but it's possible. Someone with an untriggered werewolf gene could technically be turned and then not enter the hybrid state after their first kill because of the curse..but, from what I've heard, such vampires are usually killed when discovered for fear of weakening the curse.

"Wait - untriggered werewolf?" Caroline laughed. "Please, I think I'd have noticed it if either of my parents were werewolves."

"The gene can skip generations," Klaus said. "And let's face it love, the founding families are so interbred it's a miracle more of you aren't turning on the full moon." Caroline opened her mouth to protest before remembering her paternal grandmother was a Lockwood and then shut it again.

"It's not all bad, love," Klaus said. "You'll never need to wear a daylight ring again, for instance."

Caroline looked down at her bare finger. "Will I have to change again on the next full moon?" she asked.

Klaus beamed. "You can change whenever you want, Caroline. Not even the moon can force you." Well thank god for small mercies, she supposed. She lifted her chin and turned to Elijah.

"Thank you for the use of your jacket," she said. "I'll return it once I've retrieved a change of clothing." She wrinkled her nose. "Dry cleaned of course."

A smiled twitched at his lips. "Of course"

"Do you have an address I can deliver it to?" she asked.

The two brothers exchanged a look. "I'll come to you," Elijah eventually said.

"And I'll be along too," Klaus said, with a smug smile. "After all, we have to discuss our evolving relationship."

Caroline's eyes narrowed. "You and I do not have a relationship." .

"We share territory," he drawled. "So I beg to differ. Only one of us has what it takes to be Alpha, but I'm intrigued by the idea of you being my Beta. You're scrappy."

Caroline let out a huff of outrage. "In your dreams," she yelled as she streaked away. The echo of his laughter following her to the highway. She didn't pause for breath until she reached the safety of her porch.

Chapter Text

Caroline didn't know why she thought why it would be a good idea to go to school today. She moved on autopilot from class to class, resolutely ignoring her mother's calls and texts. It didn't help that her senses were out of wack, her hearing was sharper and her sense of smell was heightened, but her eyesight was pretty much the same as when she was a regular old vampire, thank god. It seemed she only saw in grayscale when she was a wolf.

She shivered, remembering the pain of the change. That had been….unpleasant. She had no idea how Tyler could go through that every full moon. It had been excruciating. Her memories then stuttered over the memory of her running through the forest and the thrill of the chase; the glorious satisfaction of bringing down that doe had been amazing and suddenly Caroline found herself tempted to change again despite all the visceral agony.

She considered talking to Tyler about it but something told her he wouldn't understand. He spent his transformation chained to a wall, with no memory of his wolf the next morning while she remembered every glorious minute of it.

Her phone buzzed again, it was her mother's ID on the screen. She hadn't been home this morning when Caroline had eventually got there but a quick search through her room produced her cellphone. She'd scanned her messages and realised her Mom was out looking for her.

Feeling guilty, Caroline sent her a text telling her she was at school. She knew it wouldn't be long before her Mom's squad car pulled into the school car park, so she decided to bunk off the rest of the day and make her way to the boarding house. Maybe she and Elena could hide out together. She knew she was just avoiding the inevitable but she needed to come up with a game plan. Besides she needed to get away from all these people. Her blood thirst hadn't increased but it felt like her sense of competition had been dialled up to eleven. She had poor Sarah Michael in floods of tears earlier because she tried to suggest a different colour theme for the Halloween Dance and, while Caroliner knew that if she ever saw another pumpkin orange streamer she'd scream, Sarah did not deserve such a catty put down. Her nose wasn't that hooked.

It was a wolf thing, it had to be. She should google it later.

Elena answered the door with a tired smile and Caroline remembered suddenly all she had been through the night before. The last thing Elena needed was her arriving on her doorstep to add her baggage.

"Is everything okay?," she asked and, not for the first time, Caroline wished didn't have such a transparent face.

"I've got something to tell you," she said. "You'd better sit down for this."

"Oh god, nobody else is dead, are they?" Elena asked.

"No, no, sorry, nothing like that," Caroline reassured her she scanned the house with her senses. "Where are Stefan and Damon?"

Elena wrinkled her nose. "They've gone to find Elijah," she said. "They're worried he might spill the beans about me being alive."

"Huh, good call, he and Klaus seemed very chummy this morning."

"You saw them?" Elena's eyes went round. "Are you okay?"

"I'm fine, it's just…" Caroline let out a hoarse laugh. "There were a few unforeseen repercussions to the ritual last night. It's turns out I'm part werewolf and last night I changed."

Elena blinked. "Huh," she said. "You know, that kind of makes sense."

"Seriously?" Caroline burst out. "What is it about me turning furry on the full moon that makes any kind of sense?"

"Well, you and Tyler, for one," Elena said bluntly. "Werewolves and Vampires don't get along, but you were so keen to help him."

"But that hadn't anything to do with him being a werewolf. He's a friend!" Elena gave her a look. "Well, okay, more like a long term acquaintance who became less douchey and turned into a friend," said Caroline. "But you know what I mean."

"Uhuh," Elena said. "Sure."

"Fine!" Caroline snapped. "If you want to believe my friendship with Tyler is because of some weird mystical werewolf bond, then go ahead!"

Elena raised an eyebrow. "You're a bit snappy today, aren't you?"

"Sorry," Caroline said, her shoulders slumping."I can't seem to help it. I think it might be a wolf thing, I kept barking at everyone - but not literally!" she added hastily. " Thankfully. I don't think I could handle that particular humiliation."

Elena let out a laugh. "C'mon, I think we're going to need a drink for this.

Klaus stared down at Elijah's greyed face and wondered why his brother had looked so surprised when he'd driven the dagger home. Elijah had tried to kill him, he'd actually reached his hand into his chest and wrapped his fingers around his heart. It would be a long time before he would forgive him this treachery and it wasn't as if if he hadn't kept his word. Elijah was now reunited with their family. Smirking, Klaus closed the coffin lid and slid it into place beside the other coffins on the rack. The spell he'd had Greta place on them was still effective despite her death and began working as he stepped back, cloaking the coffin's presence from curious eyes. The storage space was a short term solution but once he solidified his dominance over the other packs he's come up with with a more permanent solution.

His mind flitted to the other hybrid in Mystic Falls and a grin stretched across his face. That had been an unexpected development. If memory served him correctly, she was friends with that Lockwood boy, perhaps he could kill two birds with one stone; add the boy to his hybrid pack and gain a means to coerce the lovely Caroline to his side, but not before he completed a trial run. He heard there was wolf pack north of Roanoke, that would do nicely.

But first he had to deal with his little pest problem.

"Well, if isn't the Salvatore brothers," Klaus drawled, as he stepped outside."Come to teach me a lesson?"

"Nice pad," Stefan said dryly, eyeing the warehouse. "We didn't think you were the type to slum it."

Klaus's leaped, his eyes glowing a dangerous yellow as he toppled and pinned Damn to the ground, ripped into his throat with his fangs and tainting his blood with hybrid venom. He raised his head and wiped the blood off his lips.

"Oops," he said. "Sorry about that. Does it sting?" Damon just groaned and Klaus laughed as Stefan pulled him off his brother. "Too little, too late," he said. "I'm afraid your brother doesn't have long to live. I suggest you make your peace now."

He sped away, glee lurking in his heart. Stefan would find him later, once he found out Klaus's blood was the cure. He expected to find the whole incident terribly entertaining.

" Hey Mom, remember when you first found out i was a vampire and kinda freaked out and tried to kill me? Well….don't kill me?" Caroline stopped, pulled a face, and then resumed her pacing in front of the Salvatore fireplace. "Hey Mom, remember how you always not to so secretly thought Nana Charlotte was a real bitch? Well, surprise, turns out she really was."

Elena let out a snort of laughter and looked up from her textbook. "I think we can cross that one off the list."

Really? Because I kinda liked it," Caroline. "Short, straight to the point, firmly placing the blame on one of my mother's least favourite people…"

"Your Nana Charlotte was a sweetie, she used to make the best Christmas cookies," Elena protested.

"You never knew her behind closed doors," Caroline said darkly as she threw herself onto the couch beside Elena. "She could be a real harridan, especially after the divorce. I think she blamed Mom for Dad being gay."

"Ouch," Elena said, sympathetically, and Caroline shrugged.

"This is useless," she said. "There is no good way to spin this. I wouldn't be surprised if Mom immediately starts making a stake with my name on it."

"Is there a chance she might already know?" she asked. "She is a member of the council, and if it runs in the family…"

"My Dad's family," Caroline said. "Nana Charlotte was a Lockwood.

"Well, then, maybe you should call your Dad," Elena said. "See what he has to say about it."

"And mess up his life too?" Caroline asked. "No, he's just fine where he is, playing happy families with Steven."

"Well, if you say so," Elena said doubtfully.

The front door opened with a slam and Caroline and Elena leaped to their feet. Stefan and Bonnie entered, Damon slung between him. He didn't look good and he stank of Klaus.

"He got bitten by Klaus," Stefan said, before taking a double take. "Caroline, why do you stink of wolf?"

"On any other day, I'd hit you for that," Caroline snapped.

"She's a hybrid," Elena said, before turning to Bonnie. "It turns out Nana Charlotte was a werewolf."

"She wasn't a werewolf!" Caroline protested. "At least, I don't think so. She just had the gene."

"And when Klaus completed the ritual last night, Caroline got a new hairdo and some paws," Elena carried on, unrepentantly

Caroline crossed her arms. "You're enjoying this way too much, do you know that?"

"Hey, dying here," Damon sniped tiredly "Can we put a pin in this and come back to it when Barbie Werepire here is in less of a huff?"

"I cannot believe you just called me a werepire-" Caroline said.

"And she puffs," Damon muttered. "And blondie blows the house down..."

Bonnie frowned and put her hand to his forehead. "He's feverish," she said.

"How long do you think he has?" Stefan said.

"A couple of hours," Bonnie said. "We need to find Klaus fast."

"Why?" Caroline asked abruptly. "Hasn't he done enough damage," she added, pointing at Damon.

"He has the cure," Bonnie said.

Caroline rounded on Stefan. "So you're just going to just ask him for the cure and he'll go: 'Oh sure, Stefan old buddy, here it is.'"

"I don't have a choice, Caroline, he's my brother."

"I'll go too" Elena said suddenly. "Maybe together we can convince him."

Caroline sighed, giving into the inevitable. "No, neither of you are going," she said. "I am." They both whirled on her.

"I don't think this is a good idea," Elena said, and Caroline rolled her eyes because Elena didn't have a leg to stand on when it came to good ideas.

"Why do you think it should be you?" Stefan asked, and received an elbow in side from Elena for his troubles.

"Because I'm immune to his bite, I'll be better aim to track him down with my hybrid nose and ...mumble, mumble, mumble."

"What?"Elena asked.

"He-wants-me-to-join-his-pack!" Caroline rushed. "There! Happy now?"

Elena gave her a long look. "You kind of left that part out earlier."

"Well, I was trying to block it out, seeing as we were both naked at the time." This time Stefan's eyebrows rose and Caroline groaned.

"Firstly, it was not even remotely like that and, secondly, we don't have time for this. I'll go find him and convince him to give us the cure."

"You know what he's going to want in exchange," Stefan said.

Caroline shrugged. "I'll burn that bridge when I come to it," she said. "Now tell me where you last saw him."

"I'll show you-" Stefan started.

"Trust me, Stefan, you don't want to be with me when I find him. I'm not going to track him down in human form. Her eyes glowed yellow in anticipation, her double fangs extending, and Stefan took a step back.

"That's new," he said.

"Yeah, gave myself quite a shock in the bathroom mirror this morning," she said "I'll be back as soon as I can." She darted out of the house and headed for the trees. This was for Stefan and Elena, she told herself, otherwise she's never intentionally put herself through the pain of the change - but she'd be lying to herself if she didn't admit she was looking forward to feel of the forest floor beneath her feet and the freedom that she'd felt. She had been a wolf less than a day and she already knew she'd never give it up.

Slipping out of her ballet shoes, she shrugged out of her leather jacket and pulled her dress off over her head. She could already feel the slide of muscle under her skin as she slipped her panties off - her body eager to change. She weighed her clothes down with a rock and frowned. She really needed to make a more permanent arrangement for her clothing on occasions like this.

Her spine shivered, releasing crackles of agony, and Caroline fell to her hands and feet. Time to change.

It was the wolf howl that attracted Klaus to the still half built window. The construction workers were compelled to make the property their top and only priority but it still would be a number of weeks before his new home was truly habitable, which gave him more than enough time to find the wolf pack outside of Roanoke and turn them . Another howl came from beyond the treeline on the edge of his estate and Klaus's eyes narrowed. There were no true wolves native to this area and it was late afternoon and past the full moon, so it wasn't a werewolf. That left only one option.

"Well, well," he said softly, as the hybrid stepped from under the shade of the trees and showed herself in the sunlight "You're unexpected. I had thought it would be Stefan or maybe the witch." He fell to his haunches, eyeing Caroline as she slowly approached. She wasn't submitting, he realised, and a part of him was pleased about that. A Beta too easily won wasn't a Beta worth having.

He held out his hand for her to smell and she batted it away with a paw before slinking past him into the half built house.

"If you're looking for a robe, love, I'm afraid you're going to be terribly disappointed." She let out a low snarl in response, and Klaus's grin grew sly as he followed her inside.



Chapter Text

Try as she might, it was pretty much impossible to hard to maintain an air of dignity wearing a bed sheet. It also didn't help that Mr Original Alpha was leering at her as if she were breakfast.

"Would you stop looking at me like that!" she snapped irritably, as she pulled the sheet tighter around her shoulders.

He leaned against the doorjamb, a whiskey tumbler in his hand, and smirked down at her. "And why would I do that, love, when you look so delectable?"

Caroline didn't even try to suppress the roll of her eyes. "You seriously have to work on your material, " she said, as she wondered what her next step should be. She really should have thought this through, Caroline thought, she had a funny feeling she was losing points on the werewolf dominance scale by having this conversation half naked. Why had she thought it would be such a good idea to track him down in wolf form again? Looking back on it, it seemed like a ridiculously foolhardy thing to do. Was the wolf more in the driver's seat than she thought? She bit her lip.

"Penny for your thoughts, love."

"Why did you bite Damon?" she asked, evading his question.

He shrugged. "Do I need a reason? You have met him, after all. Definitely the least personable Salvatore. I had hoped to strike a bargain with Stefan in exchange for the cure, but here you are instead." His smile became predatory. "Come to strike a bargain with the devil?"

"As if I don't already know what you want," Caroline sniffed. "You aren't exactly subtle."

He leaned forward and plucked one of her curls free from a sheet crease. His scent enveloped her, a blend of earth and blood iron, and she shuddered in response. Oh no, that did not just happen. Cool and collected, Caroline, show nothing. She suspected it was too late though, as his eyes had become suddenly thoughtful as he studied her. That worried her. She definitely didn't want him to start taking her seriously. Time to end this...whatever it was.

"Back up, cujo, haven't you ever heard of personal space?" she snapped. She pushed at his chest until he took a step back, the smirk slowly returning to his face.

"So what do you have in mind, Caroline," he asked, drawing her name out as if he got enjoyment from it.

She mentally steeled herself for what was to come. "How about you make me a proposal and I'll counter it."

He pursed his lips. "Hmmm, perhaps a variant on what I was going to propose to Stefan."

Caroline raised an eyebrow."I hadn't realised you were into Stefan like that."

I'm a thousand years old, love, there isn't much I'm not into...but no, where is the challenge in coercing someone into my bed?'

"Silly me, I forgot to factor in your enormous ego into the conversation." A smile curled his lips, emphasising his dimples, and Caroline suppressed a groan. No doubt about it, she was attracted to him. Thankfully her brain had a lot more sense than her hormones. She arched an eyebrow and gave him a disdainful look.

"So let me get this straight, coercing someone into your bed is beneath you, but coercing someone into your pack is a-ok?"

The dimples disappeared in a flash as he glowered at her. "Easy, love, you wouldn't want me to lose my temper."

"And now you're threatening me. Not really seeing the upside to being in your pack."

"You came to me, love, remember?" he countered. "Something about a cure for your friend."

Ugh, Damon, still the bane of her life. "How about a compromise?" she said aloud. "I'll give you a week to convince me that joining your pack is a good idea."

"Two weeks," he countered, without even blinking, and a suspicion reared its ugly head in her mind. Caroline ignored it. So what if she had been outmanoeuvred? She still needed the cure and she could handle two weeks.

"Deal," she said, holding her hand out in front of her to shake. He grinned and tugged as he shook it, pulling her closer. Caroline yelped as she struggled to hold onto the ends of the sheet. So not a gentleman, although what had she been expecting?

"Perfect," he said, his dimpled smile making a reappearance. He was close enough for his scent to wrap itself around her again, which she suspected was the point. Wolfie domination games. Well, if he thought she was going to make it easy, he had another thing coming!

She glared up into his eyes, cursing the couple of inches height difference. She made an inner resolution to always wear heels around this guy from now on. She wasn't an expert at werewolf stuff but she knew enough from Tyler, to know that even a perceived weakness can affect your place in the pack. Well, her place was on top, no matter what this jackass thought. Being old as dirt didn't give him a pass to push her around. He blinked down at her, and Caroline felt a moment of triumph as she caught a moment of doubt in his eyes. He stepped away, and the weight of his scent lifted. Caroline stamped down on the brief pang of regret that burbled within. His scent, however, was about to replaced by something ten times more potent.

"What the hell are you doing?" she said, a squeak seeping into her voice as he drank down the last of his whiskey and bit into his hand, filling the air with the aroma of his blood as it dripped into the glass.

"I'm giving you the cure, love." His eyes widened suggestively. "Want a taste?"

Her mouth watered, her entire body tensing with anticipation at the thought of tasting him. She gripped the doorjamb behind her and felt the oak crumble under the pressure. The tension broke as he sighed and rolled his eyes.

"Careful with the architecture, sweetheart." he said. "The contractors will not be pleased."

Caroline snorted as she straightened, glancing over her shoulder at the carpenters in the other room. Even when mentioned by name, they didn't look up. "The contractors have been compelled to within an inch of their lives and we both know it," she said. "I highly doubt you give a damn for their preferences."

He smirked as he handed over the glass, and Caroline felt her gums ache as she glanced down in the rich ruby colour of his blood. It was more than just a thirst for his blood, it was a need to possess it, own it. It was definitely some kind of hinky hybrid thing. Great, along with the furriness, she seems to have inherited a whole new slew of instincts and needs that she could barely recognise, never mind control. "Need a lift, love?" the Original said, breaking her train of thought. " Might be a little difficult to carry the glass in werewolf form - or we could invite the Salvatores over,"

"So helpful," she said dryly.

"Well, it'll give you a little more time to pack if I help this along."

She blinked. "Wait, what? I'm not packing anything! I'm staying right here."

"You promised me two weeks," he reminded her. "And as I have urgent business out of town, that means you have no choice but to accompany me."

"Can't it wait until you get back?" she protested.

"Are you breaking your word, love?" he asked flatly, eyeing the glass in her hand.

"No I'm not," she said. "You've just moved the goalposts."

"Listen, love," he purred. "An Alpha needs a pack and I'm starting my recruitment drive. If you're going to be my Beta, doesn't it make sense you should be along for the selection process?"

She pursed her lips, foregoing to remind him that she hadn't agreed to be his Beta, merely agreed to let him try and convince her. This was his opening gambit and, reluctantly, she had to admit he had won it.

"I'll need more than a couple of hours," she eventually said. "I'll be ready to go in the morning."

He grinned. "But of course, Caroline, never let it be said I can't be flexible." He pulled out his car keys. "Now, about that lift…?"

She waited until he drove away before retracing her steps to where she'd hidden her clothes. She wrinkled her nose at the dampness that had seeped into them as she shrugged them on. She definitely needed a better solution to stashing her clothes when in wolf form. Unlike Klaus, she did not have the luxury of minions trailing after her and taking care of her every need.

The blood had begun to congeal in the glass by the time she reached the Salvatore's front door, but a cure was a cure. The door opened before she knocked and Stefan eyed the glass in her hand warily.


"Klaus's blood," she affirmed. "Apparently it's the cure. Arrogant ass."

Stefan took the glass from her. "We locked him up in the cellar," he explained, as he led the way in the livingroom. "The hallucinations have kicked in."

Caroline paused as they entered the room. Bonnie and Tyler had arrived since she'd been gone. "Hey guys," she said, with false cheer. "I guess you've heard the news."

"That you're part werewolf?" Tyler asked dryly. "Yeah, we got the memo. Kind of makes a lot of sense, actually, you were always a bit of an alpha bitch."

"Oh, flattery, be still my heart" Caroline returned, equally dry, as she headed for the drinks cabinet. She was definitely going to need vodka for this.

Tyler smothered a grin. "Oh c'mon, it was a good line. Admit it."

Caroline laughed, despite herself, as she poured a drink. "So do you want to hear the bad news or the bad news?"

"Give me a moment," Stefan said, before blurring from the room. Caroline threw herself onto the couch beside Elena. Bonnie, silent until now, leaned forward.

"How does it feel?" she asked.

Caroline looked down into her glass. "Weird," she admitted. "It's hard to explain but when I was turned into a vampire, everything was dialled to eleven but I was still me, you know. Now it's as if this extra door has been opened and all these other instincts have fallen out and it's like - oh, hey, this is you too. Enjoy." She shrugged. "I caught myself trying to physically intimidate an Original earlier. Which is stupid on so many levels but I couldn't help myself. It was like something inside me refused to back down."

Tyler snorted. "Oh, this is going to be hilarious," he said.

"If by hilarious, you mean I now apparently have a deathwish, then yeah, it's a laugh a minute," Caroline deadpanned.

"Deathwish?" Stefan echoed, as he reentered the room.

Elena perked up. "How is he?" she asked.

"Sleeping," Stefan said. "But the bite seems to healing and he's no longer running a fever. I left a few blood bags beside him and locked the door just in case." Elena slumped back into the seat and Caroline felt a spark of annoyance. Since when was she so worried about Damon? Stefan she could understand, because you can't pick your family, even when they're abusive scumbags, but Elena? This had better not be a sign of things to come. Damon was not their friend.

"So what happened?" Stefan asked. "Something tells me Klaus didn't just give you the cure out of the goodness of his heart. What did he ask for?"

Caroline winced. "You're not going to like this," she warned.

"That I already figured out," Stefan said, as he poured himself a bourbon. "How bad is it?"

"Not as bad as it could be," she prevaricated. "He wanted me to agree to becoming his Beta and I made a counter offer - I gave him two weeks to convince me it was a good idea."

Tyler laughed. "Well, that's a bad idea - for him, I mean. Two weeks is more than long enough for you to figure out you're not Beta material."

"What's that supposed to mean?" Caroline asked, frowning at him.

"Caroline," Tyler said slowly. "When I called you the alpha bitch earlier, I wasn't talking figuratively. Your scent screams alpha female and Klaus must know that."

"I think you're underestimating Klaus's arrogance," Bonnie said quietly, and. Caroline turned to look at her as tried to digest what Tyler had said. The witch took that as a signal to continue. "He's an Original," she said. "As far as he's concerned, he's the ultimate Alpha. I doubt he's going to take anyone else's Alpha status into consideration when he subjugates them. It's either bow down or die.

Caroline felt a shiver run down her spine. Put it like that, challenging him as she had earlier had definitely been a bad idea. "Uh, guys, I haven't told you the rest yet." As one, they turned to look at her, and she told them how he expected her to go with him on his recruitment drive.

"You can't go with him alone," Tyler said firmly. "I'm going with you."

"I can't ask you to do that, Tyler," Caroline protested.

"You're not asking, I'm volunteering," Tyler returned. "I'm not letting that ass railroad you into being something you're not before you even know what you're agreeing to."

Caroline flashed him a grateful smile. "Thanks."

He smiled back. "You'd do it for me," he said simply. "I'll pack a bag and sleep on your couch tonight. That way I'll be ready and waiting when he arrives.

"I've got a bad feeling about this," Bonnie muttered.

"It's not as if I have much choice, Bonbon," Caroline said. "You remember what he did to Rose and her friend when they went behind his back and helped Katherine. I don't think he's the kind of guy who takes a broken promise well."

The witch sighed. "Be careful, Care," she warned. "Call me the moment things go pear shaped.

Caroline crossed the room and hugged her. "I promise, " she whispered into her ear, as her friends arms tightened around her.