Title: A Pain That I’m Used To
Characters/Pairings: Tyler/Caroline, Stefan, Jules, Matt, Elena, Carol, Damon, Alaric
Rating: Mostly R for language but verges on NC-17 for sexual situations.
Word Count: 3,100
Spoilers: None unless you haven't watched past S02E14
Summary: After all the lies, secrets, and betrayals are brought to light, both Tyler and Caroline have to deal with the aftermath. In their ongoing struggle to come to terms with and adapt to their new lives as supernatural creatures, will they make amends and renew their friendship, and could it ever turn into something more? Totally veers from canon from S02E14 onwards.
Disclaimer: I own nothing
Tyler doesn’t understand how he got there—well, no, he knows how he literally got there: Brady was all, “let’s go for a drive”, which Tyler interpreted as “let’s bond while I pass on to you my vast werewolf knowledge”. But it doesn’t quite turn out that way. Instead, they’re at the Gilbert lake house and Tyler just doesn’t understand how his life has lead him to this, where he’s pointing a gun at a fallen and bleeding Stefan, and Brady is yelling at him, ordering him to “kill the dirty vampire”.
It ends in death.
Brady is dead and Tyler helps Stefan bury the body in the woods. While they dig, Stefan fills Tyler in on everything.
“I’m going to tell you this because keeping you in the dark has proved dangerous for everyone. And that needs to stop.”
They dig slowly because there’s a lot to tell.
“So let me get this straight. It’s not okay to be an unstable vampire who kills randomly? But it’s okay to be a sociopathic vampire who kills—how did you describe it? Selectively? People still end up dead in the end, Stefan. Excuse me if I don’t see the difference.”
“Damon is my brother.”
“And Vicki was my girlfriend!” Even as he says the words, that same old twinge of guilt surfaces because of the way he treated Vicki when she was still alive and he knows he had no right to use the term girlfriend then or now.
“Everything would have been fine. The blood would have worked its way out of her after twenty-four hours. Unfortunately, Katherine learned about this and smothered Caroline while she still had Damon’s blood in her system.”
“Smothered? Jesus.” Tyler feels like he’s just been punched in the gut.
“Katherine was in my house?”
“I’m afraid so. You invited her in when she came by during your father’s wake.”
“Oh, and Bonnie is a witch.”
“She’s a what?!”
Tyler is still horrified over what the werewolves had planned for Elena. Hearing the full story from Stefan makes him feel sick. Sure, he wants the full moon transformations to end more than anything else in the world, but not at the cost of someone else’s life. He’s already responsible for one person’s death, and that was one death too many.
“Look, man, I’m really sorry about last night and tonight. Everything. I didn’t know.” The apology sounds as lame out loud as it did in his head. He tries again. “The last thing I want, the last thing I would ever want is for anyone to get hurt. Or worse.”
“I know, Tyler, I know.”
“Why didn’t you tell me all this yesterday when you broke into my house? Everything that happened to Caroline...” Tyler can’t bring himself to speak of her torture and how he’s to blame for all of it. “Instead, you tried to feed me all that garbage about living together peacefully in Mystic Falls.”
Stefan grimaces. “I screwed up. Honestly, I didn’t know what to tell you. Caroline just wanted me to make it better.”
Tyler laughs bitterly. “Well, you didn’t. And you could’ve just told me the truth about why Mason was here, and that he was working with Katherine. I already knew he was up to something.”
“I don’t have any experience dealing with werewolves. I made the wrong call. I’m sorry.”
“Yeah, you did. And I’m sorry too.” Tyler dumps more dirt into the grave. “You’re just like Jules, y’know.”
Stefan stops shovelling, eyes narrowing as he stares at Tyler. “What do you mean?”
“You’ve totally bought into this whole vampire-werewolf war. It’s ridiculous. You only believe in it because you’ve been told to. Caroline and I...she helped me through the worst night of my life. Once it was out in the open that she was a vampire and I was a werewolf, we still got along just fine. Better even. It wasn’t instinctive to hate her suddenly, to see her as the enemy. She was my friend.”
Stefan shakes his head. “You would have gone after her during the full moon if you hadn’t been locked up.”
“Stefan, I would have gone after anyone—vampire or human—in that state. All I felt was rage and the urge to kill. It was towards everything.”
“Yeah, but look at the state of your friendship now—”
“Because of Jules, you, Damon, Mason, Katherine, and all your damn lies! We’re no longer friends because of those lies. I ended up betraying Caroline and doubting her motives, but not because she’s a vampire. I don’t care about that.”
“Tyler, eventually the fact that vampires and werewolves are natural enemies would have ended your friendship.”
“Seriously? You seriously believe this bullshit?” Tyler throws his shovel down. “Face it, man. You didn’t screw up that talk you gave me because you didn’t know how to handle it. You just didn’t give a damn because in your mind, I’m just a werewolf, and that disgusts you, and you think Caroline’s better off without me in her life.”
Tyler storms off, knowing he needs to leave now or else he’s going to punch Stefan.
“Tyler, wait. That’s not—”
“Save it, Salvatore.”
“Tyler!” Stefan calls urgently.
“Don’t worry. I’m still going to leave town like we agreed.” Just before he’s out of sight, he calls back: “And just so you know, I’m doing it for Caroline. She may no longer see me as a friend, but I still think of her as one.”
Tyler’s mind is reeling and he’s overwhelmed with anger. As he drives Brady’s truck back to town, he wonders if things would have turned out differently had he known about everything from the beginning. He’d like to think so despite a small taunting voice saying “yeah, right” in the back of his mind.
Tyler needs to leave Mystic Falls. He doesn’t really want to, but he knows it’s the right thing to do. He pulls out his cell to call Jules, but ends up with Caroline’s phone instead. He’s forgotten he still has it. He thinks he should probably return it.
With a note resting on his mother’s foyer table, and after a conversation with Matt at The Grill and a lingering moment on Caroline’s porch, Tyler leaves Mystic Falls. He’s got the cash from his dad’s hidden floor safe and little else.
His forehead is pressed against the passenger window, its coolness seeping into his skin and his breath partially fogging the glass. His eyesight is excellent, enhanced because of his werewolf senses, but out here in the remote landscape of Virginia, far from any town and well after midnight, there’s little to see except the road signs and mile markers whizzing by. In the distance, it’s all varying shades of black: black trees, black fields, black hills, black sky.
“It really is better this way,” Jules says.
They whiz past another mile marker.
More black trees.
“I know,” Tyler finally replies.
It’s like that every day. Jules drives, tries to fill the silence with conversation, and Tyler offers only one or two abrupt words in reply. After the third day, Jules finally gives up and doesn’t speak to him at all.
On the sixth day, as Tyler is packing up his meagre belongings, he comes across Caroline’s cell phone at the bottom of his bag. He almost returned it the night he stood on her porch, hoping for one final glimpse of her, but at the last moment, he slipped it into the back pocket of his jeans.
He runs his fingers over the smooth surface of the smartphone and it comes to life. He’s tempted to see if there are messages. And a bitter mocking voice in his head asks, from who? Caroline? He shuts off the phone and tosses it into his bag. Giving the motel room a last once over, he closes the door behind him and checks out.
Jules is already waiting for him by the dusty car. She’s sipping coffee from a takeaway cup. He dumps his bag in the back seat then climbs into the passenger’s side. They’re about five miles out when Tyler shifts in his seat, turning away from his usual position of staring out the passenger window.
“Is it true that a werewolf bite can kill a vampire?” Tyler asks.
He’s surprised Jules because he feels the slight swerve the car makes but she quickly regains control. She looks over to him briefly before returning her gaze to the road.
“Not can, will,” Jules answers.
“I heard about what happened to that Rose person.”
“Vampire, Tyler. Rose was a vampire, not a person.”
“Whatever.” He tries to sound casual.
Jules glances at Tyler again. “Does that bother you? That I bit her?”
It does, but Tyler is not about to tell her that. He shrugs. “Why should it? I didn’t even know her.” He needs to know about the bite and how to best protect Caroline, so Tyler keeps his tone light, sidestepping to avoid arousing suspicion and Jules figuring out exactly why he wants to know if there’s a cure. “Is there something similar they can do to us?”
“Tearing our hearts out with their brute strength isn’t enough for you?”
“Right. Stupid question.”
Jules sighs. “No, Tyler. That wasn’t a stupid question. I keep forgetting you’re completely new to this whole thing.”
“So our bite is fatal to them, then?”
Jules nods. “When we’re in wolf form it is. They fall into a rabid madness until all you can do is stake them, unless...” Jules trails off.
“Unless...? Unless what?” Tyler asks. “Tell me. There’s so much I don’t know or understand yet.”
His silence at the beginning of their journey ends up working in his favour; Jules appears to be grateful for any sort of conversation and he’s sure she takes it as a sign he’s warming up to her, especially when she proceeds to tell him all she knows about werewolf physiology, biology, and lore over the next couple of weeks.
He’s figured out that appealing to her vanity by treating her as the knowledgeable, wise mentor helps loosen her tongue and she answers most of his questions. Sometimes she tells him she doesn’t know the answer and he’s fairly certain he can believe her.
They arrive at their destination after a few more days of what seems to Tyler like random driving. And he’s not wrong, he learns, when Jules tells him she took the “scenic route” to avoid anyone (read: vampires, Tyler’s mother, and Mystic Falls’ sheriff) who might try to follow them. Tyler is disappointed, yet not wholly surprised that Jules has brought them to a trailer park on the outskirts of a town smaller than Mystic Falls. Christ, he wonders, do werewolves not know one investment banker or even a real estate agent?
“I’m still not sure I believe the transformations get easier.” Tyler says remembering his first full moon all too clearly. They’re driving into town (he hasn’t bothered to learn its name) to pick up some supplies. Tyler hopes booze is included on Jules’s list.
“It’ll take some time, but each one will make your body stronger so you’ll be able to withstand it better. It’s the transformations themselves that will help ease the pain eventually.”
“Eventually?” Tyler laughs humourlessly. “Sounds too long to me. Here’s hoping for a heart attack long before middle age. Maybe I should start eating foods high in cholesterol.”
“Not going to happen for a long, long time.”
“What? The heart attack?”
Jules shakes her head. “Middle age. Now that you’ve triggered the curse, you won’t age as quickly.” Jules pauses for a moment. “I’m sorry, Tyler, but you said you wanted the truth. You’ve got more full moons to look forward to than you think, especially because you’re a Lockwood wolf.”
Tyler raises his eyebrows. “Whoa. Hold up. What are you talking about?”
“Everyone thought it was a mystical aspect of the werewolf curse, but a science nerd joined our pack a while ago, and he figured it was down to our accelerated healing. Something about how aging is the degeneration of cells. We heal so completely now that we no longer age like humans do.” Jules shrugged. “Or it could just be bullshit and it really is due to the mystical rather than the scientific.”
“Seriously?” Tyler is struggling to keep his mouth from hanging opening.
“How old are you?”
“I triggered the curse when I was twenty-five—in nineteen seventy-three.”
“Holy shit. So, you’re, like, over sixty?”
“Sixty-three. And that’s why you should never ask a woman her age.” Jules smirks.
“Maybe not a normal human woman.” Tyler says, incredulous. “And what’s the Lockwood wolf deal? Or do I not wanna know?”
“I don’t know all the details. Mason was looking into it, but from what he told me, he’d found out Lockwoods who trigger the curse age at an even slower rate than the rest of us. The best Mason could figure out was one year for every twenty-five to fifty years. He found conflicting accounts in some Lockwood journals so he could never be sure.” Jules knuckles whiten as her grip tightens on the steering wheel. “And he didn’t live long enough to find out for himself.”
Tyler is stunned and doesn’t say anything for the few more miles of road it takes to drive into town.
“Let me get this straight. Werewolves age really slowly, and because I’m a Lockwood, I’m not going to grow old and die for a really, really long time, which means I have a lot of full moons ahead of me.”
“Yep, unless one of your vampire buddies rips out your heart.”
Tyler rolls his eyes. “Oh, you’re hilarious.”
For the first time since Tyler has known her, Jules laughs. Under different circumstances, they might have been friends, the older sister he never had, but Jules had a part in Caroline’s capture and torture, Tyler reminds himself, and he’ll never forgive her for that.
“I guess the curse takes into consideration a potential werewolf not triggering it until they’re much older. There wouldn’t be that many years of painful transformations, would there? Slow down the aging, and well, Grandpa Lockwood would still have a few hundred years of suffering—which is why I think it’s at least partly mystical.”
“Yeah, okay. Thanks, Jules, I get the picture.”
“Someone must’ve really hated your family.”
Tyler thinks she’s holding back a few other things about Lockwood werewolves, things that would align with why Katherine tried so hard to trigger his curse after Mason was killed, things that had to do with that damned ritual. Jules had promised him no more lies or secrets, but his instinct tells him otherwise. And that’s okay, because he’s keeping a few secrets of his own.
When Jules trains Tyler to kill vampires he feels a little queasy, but readily learns these skills because he might need to use them against Katherine, Elijah, and Klaus in order to protect Caroline. He’ll use them on Damon and even Stefan if it means keeping Caroline safe. He may be hundreds of miles away from her, but her safety is always on his mind.
He genuinely enjoys the hand to hand combat training, though. He has so much strength and power in his limbs, it’s a rush. Sometimes he almost feels like he can fly.
They’re at the one and only diner in town when, out of the corner of his eye, Tyler sees a blonde with curling hair walk past and slide into the booth in front of him. He sucks in a breath. He knows it’s not Caroline: she doesn’t move like Caroline or smell like Caroline, but just for a moment he’s transported back to Mystic Falls and it could have been any night at the Mystic Grill, not a nameless town in the middle of nowhere and a diner that’s more of a dive.
Later, under the cover of some trees and at a safe distance from their trailer so Jules won’t know, Tyler pulls out Caroline’s cell phone and enters her passcode (he’s easily seen her enter it a hundred times in the past, especially when she was organising the latest school function) and this time reads through the text messages and listens to the voicemail. There are three missed calls, all from Caroline.
“How could you, Tyler? Wasn’t putting me in danger enough? You had to lead them to Elena as well?” Hearing her voice, even speaking in anger, is like a balm to Tyler. “And I can’t believe you stole my phone.”
She says nothing more. There’s just silence, then a sound of disgust before the call disconnects.
“You could’ve at least returned my phone. Ugh, I really don’t know why I’m bothering to call.” There’s a pause. “Are you even listening to these messages?”
The first two calls don’t surprise him much. She’s actually being nicer than he expected or deserved. The third and last call, though, that’s the one that really gets to him.
“Your mom’s really worried about you. Thank God she doesn’t know who you’re with or she’d have to be hospitalised by now.” Caroline’s voice lowers. “If she doesn’t like vampires, I don’t imagine she’d approve of werewolves either. Um...oh...” There’s an awkward silence. “I’m sorry, Tyler. I didn’t mean for it to come out that way. You should call her and let her know you’re okay.” Tyler thinks the message is over, but then: “I’m still really mad at you. For that night...for stealing my phone...for leaving.”
He almost calls her back, but shuts off the phone before his fingers can do any lasting damage. He shoves the phone into his pocket. He’s angry: at himself, at Jules, at his father, about being born a Lockwood, at everyone and everything. This isn’t how his life was supposed to turn out. He’s never really given his future much thought, but this is something he never would have—could have—imagined for himself. He’s supposed to draw shit like this, not live it day after endless day. Only, he does.
He walks over to the car where he’s stashed a bottle of booze in the trunk. Doesn’t even bother to search for a glass and just gulps back the fiery liquid once he’s screwed off the cap. The bottle is nearly full. He doesn’t stop drinking until it’s empty and he’s numb, and it’s hours later and the crescent moon is high in the night sky.
- A Pain That I'm Used To [1/8]