the beam chicago

When they come for you, I will shield your name
I will field their questions, I will feel your pain
They don’t know, they don’t
They don’t know, they don’t know
Foot on the Devil’s neck ‘til it drifted Pangaea
I’m moving all my family from Chatham to Zambia
Treat the demons just like Pam
I mean I fuck with your friends, but damn, Gina
I been this way since Arthur was anteater
Now they wanna hit me with the woo wap the bam
Tryna snap photos of familia
My daughter look just like Sia, you can’t see her
You can feel the lyrics, the spirit coming in braille
Tubman of the underground, come and follow the trail
I made Sunday Candy, I’m never going to hell
I met Kanye West, I’m never going to fail
He said let’s do a good ass job with Chance three
I hear you gotta sell it to snatch the Grammy
Let’s make it so free and the bars so hard
That there ain’t one gosh darn part you can’t tweet
This is my part, nobody else speak
This is my part, nobody else speak
This little light of mine
Glory be to God, yeah
I'mma make sure that they go where they can’t go
If they don’t wanna ride I'mma still give them raincoats
Know what God said when he made the first rainbow
Just throw this at the end if I’m too late for the intro
Ugh, I’m just having fun with it
You know that a nigga was lost
I laugh in my head
Cause I bet that my ex looking back like a pillar of salt
Ugh, cause they’ll flip the script on your ass like Wesley and Spike
You cannot mess with the light
Look at lil Chano from 79th

Ultralight Beam

Chance, the Rapper’s verse from Ultralight Beam, the first song on Kanye West’s new album, The Life of Pablo

MIT scientists find weird quantum effects, even over hundreds of miles

Neutrinos traveling 450 miles have no individual identities, according to MIT analysis. 

In the world of quantum, infinitesimally small particles, weird and often logic-defying behaviors abound. Perhaps the strangest of these is the idea of superposition, in which objects can exist simultaneously in two or more seemingly counterintuitive states. For example, according to the laws of quantum mechanics, electrons may spin both clockwise and counter-clockwise, or be both at rest and excited, at the same time.

The physicist Erwin Schrödinger highlighted some strange consequences of the idea of superposition more than 80 years ago, with a thought experiment that posed that a cat trapped in a box with a radioactive source could be in a superposition state, considered both alive and dead, according to the laws of quantum mechanics. Since then, scientists have proven that particles can indeed be in superposition, at quantum, subatomic scales. But whether such weird phenomena can be observed in our larger, everyday world is an open, actively pursued question.

Now, MIT physicists have found that subatomic particles called neutrinos can be in superposition, without individual identities, when traveling hundreds of miles. Their results, to be published later this month in Physical Review Letters, represent the longest distance over which quantum mechanics has been tested to date. 

A subatomic journey across state lines

The team analyzed data on the oscillations of neutrinos — subatomic particles that interact extremely weakly with matter, passing through our bodies by the billions per second without any effect. Neutrinos can oscillate, or change between several distinct “flavors,” as they travel through the universe at close to the speed of light.

The researchers obtained data from Fermilab’s Main Injector Neutrino Oscillation Search, or MINOS, an experiment in which neutrinos are produced from the scattering of other accelerated, high-energy particles in a facility near Chicago and beamed to a detector in Soudan, Minnesota, 735 kilometers (456 miles) away. Although the neutrinos leave Illinois as one flavor, they may oscillate along their journey, arriving in Minnesota as a completely different flavor.

The MIT team studied the distribution of neutrino flavors generated in Illinois, versus those detected in Minnesota, and found that these distributions can be explained most readily by quantum phenomena: As neutrinos sped between the reactor and detector, they were statistically most likely to be in a state of superposition, with no definite flavor or identity.

What’s more, the researchers  found that the data was “in high tension” with more classical descriptions of how matter should behave. In particular, it was statistically unlikely that the data could be explained by any model of the sort that Einstein sought, in which objects would always embody definite properties rather than exist in superpositions.

“What’s fascinating is, many of us tend to think of quantum mechanics applying on small scales,” says David Kaiser, the Germeshausen Professor of the History of Science and professor of physics at MIT. “But it turns out that we can’t escape quantum mechanics, even when we describe processes that happen over large distances. We can’t stop our quantum mechanical description even when these things leave one state and enter another, traveling hundreds of miles. I think that’s breathtaking.”

Kaiser is a co-author on the paper, which includes MIT physics professor Joseph Formaggio, junior Talia Weiss, and former graduate student Mykola Murskyj.

A flipped inequality

The team analyzed the MINOS data by applying a slightly altered version of the Leggett-Garg inequality, a mathematical expression named after physicists Anthony Leggett and Anupam Garg, who derived the expression to test whether a system with two or more distinct states acts in a quantum or classical fashion.

Leggett and Garg realized that the measurements of such a system, and the statistical correlations between those measurements, should be different if the system behaves according to classical versus quantum mechanical laws.

“They realized you get different predictions for correlations of measurements of a single system over time, if you assume superposition versus realism,” Kaiser explains, where “realism” refers to models of the Einstein type, in which particles should always exist in some definite state.

Formaggio had the idea to flip the expression slightly, to apply not to repeated measurements over time but to measurements at a range of neutrino energies. In the MINOS experiment, huge numbers of neutrinos are created at various energies, where Kaiser says they then “careen through the Earth, through solid rock, and a tiny drizzle of them will be detected” 735 kilometers away.

According to Formaggio’s reworking of the Leggett-Garg inequality, the distribution of neutrino flavors — the type of neutrino that finally arrives at the detector — should depend on the energies at which the neutrinos were created. Furthermore, those flavor distributions should look very different if the neutrinos assumed a definite identity throughout their journey, versus if they were in superposition, with no distinct flavor.

“The big world we live in”

Applying their modified version of the Leggett-Garg expression to neutrino oscillations, the group predicted the distribution of neutrino flavors arriving at the detector, both if the neutrinos were behaving classically, according to an Einstein-like theory, and if they were acting in a quantum state, in superposition. When they compared both predicted distributions, they found there was virtually no overlap.

More importantly, when they compared these predictions with the actual distribution of neutrino flavors observed from the MINOS experiment, they found that the data fit squarely within the predicted distribution for a quantum system, meaning that the neutrinos very likely did not have individual identities while traveling over hundreds of miles between detectors.

But what if these particles truly embodied distinct flavors at each moment in time, rather than being some ghostly, neither-here-nor-there phantoms of quantum physics? What if these neutrinos behaved according to Einstein’s realism-based view of the world? After all, there could be statistical flukes due to defects in instrumentation, that might still generate a distribution of neutrinos that the researchers observed. Kaiser says if that were the case and “the world truly obeyed Einstein’s intuitions,” the chances of such a model accounting for the observed data would be “something like one in a billion.”  

So how do neutrinos do it? How do they maintain a quantum, identityless state for seemingly long distances? André de Gouvêa, professor of physics and astronomy at Northwestern University, says because neutrinos move so fast and interact with so little in the world, “relativistic effects — as in Einstein’s special theory of relativity —are huge, and conspire to make the very long distances appear [to the neutrinos] short.”

“The final result is that, like all other tests performed to date under very different circumstances, quantum mechanics appears to be the correct description of the world at all distance scales, weirdness not withstanding,” says Gouvêa, who was not involved in the research.

“What gives people pause is, quantum mechanics is quantitatively precise and yet it comes with all this conceptual baggage,” Kaiser says. “That’s why I like tests like this: Let’s let these things travel further than most people will drive on a family road trip, and watch them zoom through the big world we live in, not just the strange world of quantum mechanics, for hundreds of miles. And even then, we can’t stop using quantum mechanics. We really see quantum effects persist across macroscopic distances.”


1000 Days Of You Part 6


Chapter 16 – Jet Plane 


A/N 1: From the John Denver song – Leaving on a Jet Plane  

               // ‘Cause I’m leaving on a jet plane

                 Don’t know when I’ll be back again

                  Oh babe, I hate to go . . //


“I need you to be in New York for a few years. .” His father informed him.

“Because the Board isn’t happy with everything that happened?”

“The Board is right. You need to be as far away from the company as possible right now. Unfortunately that entails you leaving the city.” His father continued speaking dispassionately.

“I can just keep a low profile.. .”

“If you stay, the local news will run the story every time they see you on the street or in a mall . . God forbid they see in in a club. The economy is not what it used to be Stefan, we cannot afford to take a chance . . goodwill is a precious commodity. You need to disappear for a while.”

“What am I supposed to do in New York?” he asked irritated.

We have an office there. An impressive one I might add. You will work there for the time being. .”

Stefan shook his head. He couldn’t believe it. This was where he belonged, and now to be banished to another city, to disappear. .  This was a nightmare.

“Stefan, this was my grandfather’s business… he started small . his son added to it and his son after that. I will not be known as the Salvatore who brought it crashing to the ground because he couldn’t bear to disappoint his son.”

“What about . . the investigation .  . I thought I wasn’t supposed to leave the state”

“Leave that to me.” His father commanded.

“Dad. . you don’t think I did it on purpose do  you?” he asked in a small voice.

“Doesn’t matter.  Pack your things, you leave tomorrow morning”


“Damon?” Stefan said, surprised at the seeing him on his door-step.

“Stefan!” he said pushing his way into the apartment. 

“What uh . . what are you doing here?”

“I have good news brother” Damon said dramatically, turning and patting his shoulder.

“Okay . .”

“You are coming home!” Damon beamed.


“Chicago . . your dad wants you back asap”


“Well things have cooled down… he wants you back where you belong” Damon informed him.

“I uh . “

“SO I figured, why not break the news myself. . we can have a fun few days here, I’ll help you pack . . scratch that , you’ll pack and we can go home together” Damon said and paused for a reaction. He didn’t get any. “What?” Damon asked confused.

“Nothing . . I just. . wasn’t expecting this. . at all . .”

“Surprise?” Damon mocked. “I’m starving, thank you for asking by the way”

“Right. umm..”

“Dinner would be good. .” Damon suggested.

“Okay uh. . I just need to make a quick phone call . . why don’t you . . uh make yourself at home. .” Stefan told Damon.

“Phone call?”

Stefan entered his room, shut the door behind him and dialed Caroline.

“You know you don’t have to call and check with me every time you wanna come over !” She said instead of the usual hello.

“No that’s not what this is for”

“You okay?” She asked.

“Damons here” He informed her. 

“That’s . . good?”

“He’s here to help me pack.. sort of  “

“Pack?” She sounded confused.

“my dad.. he uh . . wants me back in Chicago.”

“oh… uuhhh”


“This is … great” She said finally.

“it is?”

“yeah! I mean . . you finally get to go home . . it’s what you’ve wanted for what? 5 , 6 years now?”

“Give or take . .” He answered

“yeah .. yeah .. so. . “ He heard her pause. What is she thinking?


“I’m. . happy for you …Do you want help packing?”

 “yeah . . I guess I do . .” he said.

“When do you leave?” She asked. 

“Couple of days?”

“Okay. . umm. . I’ll see you first thing in the morning. .”

“Yeah . .”

“Caroline?” This doesn’t feel right.


“nothing. . uh.. . see you in the morning. .”

“Good night” She said.


 … . .             … . .              … . .              … . .

 He got back home from dinner with Damon and immediately dialed Caroline.

“This better be an emergency!” he heard Caroline’s groggy voice.

“So I packed some New York Crumb Cake in case-“

“I’m coming!” She said and hung up.

“Wow you weren’t kidding when you said you and Caroline were best friends” Damon said referring to his constant need to talk to Caroline, or text her.

“You uh. . gonna stay up or. .” he started as he scratched the back of his head.

“Don’t worry, wouldn’t wanna intrude on your best friend time . . I’m beat anyway. . night”

“Night” he said and turned to the door to see her walk in. She looked like she was sleep walking in her pink striped pajama pants, and white spaghetti top, her hair in two pigtails and matching pink fluffy night slippers to boot. She looked adorable. His stomach did a twist at the thought that he would never see her like that again… He put it out of his mind when he saw her smile. Her eyes might have been heavy with sleep, but it still sparkled.

“Where is it?” She asked.

“Where is what?” he asked feigning ignorance.

“My cake !” She said in a matter of fact tone.

Your cake?” he asked with a lop-sided grin.

“What?” She asked clearly confused. He loved that look. Her eyes grew wider, her face looked puzzled and she looked like the picture of innocence.

“Well technically it’s my cake.  . but I can share..” He said taking the cake box in his hand for Caroline to see. 

“You don’t eat cake” She said reaching for the box.

“Sure I do”

“Since when?”, she looked baffled.

“Well I eat New York Crumb Cake  … . and cupcakes… sometimes” He said moving to the kitchen to get a plate.

“Cupcakes?” She asked yawning and rubbing her eyes. It made him smile.

“C’mon” He said snaking his hand around her waist and lifting her slightly and taking her to the couch, his other hand holding the plate with cake and forks. She didn’t protest, instead yawned again.

She sat on the couch, turned sideways and tucked her leg that was against the backrest under her other leg that was dangling over the side. He placed the plate on her lap and slid close to her, mirroring her sitting position.

 He felt a slight twinge of guilt. He knew telling her about the cake he brought back with him would get her in his apartment. He had been good for weeks he reasoned with himself. Even thought it drove him insane to not be able to see her whenever he wanted… . And he would leave very soon, why shouldn’t he spend as much time with her as possible until then? Of course, he didn’t want her to feel guilty about walking into his apartment so late into the night when her boy friend was still so threatened by him. So cake was the only way to go. He commanded his conscience to shut the fuck up.  

“You’re not eating any” Caroline commented.

 “Well I’m uh.. still really full from dinner”

“oh. .” She said taking the plate and placing it on the coffee table. “We can wait” She was onto him.

“Caroline. . “ he chuckled. “We both know I don’t care about cake” he said blushing. 

“Hmmmhmm” She said licking the crumbs of her fork.

“You know you don’t have to use cake as an excuse to talk to me” She said placing the fork on the plate and looking right into his eyes.  There was a hint of sorrow in them. “And you definitely can’t use it as an excuse when you’re in Chicago . .”

“Yeah … ” he breathed out heavily.

“What’s wrong?” She asked, the sorrow in her eyes spreading to her voice. Her lips moving ever so slightly as if trying to curtail her grief from seeping out.

“What do you mean?” he asked, deflecting, trying to buy more time. His brain had momentarily stopped functioning as he gazed upon her face and took in the sound of her voice. Neurons firing only the image of what was right in front of him; replaying her voice like a stuck record player. Only, it wasn’t annoying as a stuck record player was usually attributed to be, it was enchanting . . even with a drop of sadness, her voice was captivating and beautiful and he could listen to her talk all night long.  

She didn’t answer. She just looked at him patiently, waiting for him to speak when he was ready to.

“I just…” he sighed again. “For years all I’ve wanted was to go back . . and make up for the shit that I did. . to get this second chance to prove to my dad that I’m not some crack head. .  to.  .  earn his trust back . .”

“okay. .”

“But now . . now… well that’s all still there. . I do want to make it up to him . . I want all that . . but. .” he said fumbling for words, trying to express all the emotion that he felt. It was a lot. . every since Damon told him he was here to take him back, he was overrun with emotion, some of which he couldn’t place.

“But what?” She urged him on gently.

“But it doesn’t feel the same anymore” he said glancing around the room, trying to come up with the right words to articulate all that he was feeling and thinking.

“I thought it would feel different. . I thought when it was time to go back … I wouldn’t worry about missing New York. . at all . .”

“It’s okay to miss New York Stefan … you spent almost 6 years here . .it was bound to rub off on you… you just didn’t expect it to . .”

“Yeah . . I guess I didn’t”

“I think Kristelle will really miss you. . even though she’d never admit it” Caroline said leaning the side of her head to the backrest of the couch. 

“Yeah she’d sooner die than admit that!” He said mimicking her motion. They stared at each other for a few seconds, both their heads using the couch as their shared pillow.

“What do you think you’ll miss most about New York?”

You. . but he didn’t say it.

“I donno. . Jay’s? Movie nights? Pizza? Pictionary? ” He looked away.

“Good times…” She mused. 

“But hey, plenty to look forward to in Chicago … I’m sure you won’t miss New York for long. .”

But I’ll miss you. .

“Maybe you and Damon can play Pictionary” She joked. He laughed at that. “But I don’t think he’ll be as good as me. . “ She continued, he could tell she was imagining him and Damon playing Pictionary.

“No . .Not by a long shot” he said smiling.

He grabbed the plate Caroline had earlier abandoned on the coffee table and placed it back in her lap.

“You sure you don’t want a bite? No New York Crumb Cake in Chicago . .” She said breaking off a piece with her fork.

No New York Crumb Cake and no you in Chicago. “Yeah … it’s all yours” He said softly.  The little light hearted moment that he had experienced a minute before suddenly dissipated as reality sunk in. He felt even more depressed than he did few hours ago when he had first heard the news.

… . .             … . .              … . .              … . .

Damon woke him up with a slight pat on his arm. Caroline and him were still on the couch.

“So is this normal for you guys?” Damon asked looking at the blonde who had fallen asleep with her head on Stefan’s shoulder.

“Go away” Stefan mumbled to Damon.

“okaaaay” Damon said raising his hands up in surrender.

“Caroline?” he whispered into her ear. She didn’t stir. “You’re gonna get neck cramps if you sleep like this all night. .” He continued whispering groggily, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear. 

“And then you’ll yell at me for not waking you . .” He received no acknowledgment that his words were being heard . .

“Besides, you’ll probably feel cold… wake up in the middle of the night…  search for a blanket…  and not be able to go back to sleep by the time you get to bed … and then… you’ll be cranky all day tomorrow…” He continued to whisper. Her eyes remained shut and her breathing at a steady rhythm. She was still very much fast asleep.

“Not that I have a problem with cranky . . your cranky is . .” he stopped and looked at her resting on him . . it felt so right. . He sighed.

“Come on” he said, his voice inaudible to everyone but himself. He gently lifted her in his arms and carried her across the hall, he tried the door to her apartment, and it was unlocked. He entered and placed her in her bed and pulled the covers over her slowly so as to not wake her. “Good night” he whispered resisting the urge to place his lips upon her forehead.  

He came back to his apartment to see Damon waiting for him.

“So . . do you talk to unconscious people a lot. . or is this just a Caroline thing?”

“Good Night Damon” he said ignoring the question.

“I mean .. do you like. . visit comatose patients and talk to them in that soothing voice of yours? That would be nice I guess. .”

“Not now Damon. .” He warned him. He was not in the mood for his sarcasm. 

“Cause you know, you don’t really talk much to conscious people. .  so imagine my surprise when I hear you whispering furiously to someone in REM sleep”

“Maybe you should wait till I fall asleep to talk!” Stefan suggested entering his room and shutting the door on Damon’s face.

“So you’re saying you’d rather talk to asleep Caroline than awake me?” Damon shouted from outside the door.

“Go to sleep Damon!” He yelled back. 

“Coz I’m a great conversationalist. . as opposed to someone who can’t respond to you because they are .. well.. sleeping. .”

“Bye Damon!” He yelled from his bed.

“Fine. .  be like that” he said childishly. Stefan waited for more jibes from Damon. The house fell silent. He turned on his stomach and closed his eyes. His brain brought up the picture of her blissfully asleep in her bed. He opened it and looked to his won bed. He suddenly felt very alone.


“FUCK OFF!” Stefan yelled and placed his pillow over his head.

… . .             … . .              … . .              … . .

“Are you seriously gonna just stand there and watch us pack?” Caroline demanded.

“No .  I’m gonna take a seat . . and drink  . .  while you pack” Damon said pouring himself a drink.

“I don’t think I like him” Caroline whispered to Stefan. He chuckled.

“Not very many people do” he admitted in a hushed tone.

“Are you two whispering about me?”

“You wanna help us pack or not?” He asked Damon. 

“Not” he said leaving the room.

“Why do you have all these books. . I mean. .  haven’t you heard of E-books? wait… how old are you again?”

“Shut up” he said his voice dragging out the syllables, his lips smiling.

“These look OLD”

“Yeah they are all first editions. .” He informed her.

“hmmm” Caroline said packing them in boxes.

“If you’re in a hurry to leave, I could pack these up and mail the -“

“I’m not in a hurry” he said cutting her off.

“Why is it that you are so nice to her and a dick to me?” Damon yelled from the other room.

“Cause you’re a dick” Stefan yelled back. Caroline giggled.

“Stop laughing Barbie”

“Don’t call me that Jerk-face”

“I feel very ganged up on right now . . I need more alcohol” Damon whined.

“Stefan!” He heard Kristelle’s voice as she entered the apartment.

“Krisssss” he heard Damon address her.

“Demon” She replied coldly. Stefan and Caroline exchanged a horrified glance and headed quickly towards the living room. The last time these two met, it was a disaster.

“Hey ..uh .. ssup?” Stefan said stepping in between his two cousins. 

“Well I thought I would help you pack . . a little . .but now I wanna vomit” She said, her face twisted in disgust looking at Damon.

“Bathroom’s that way” Damon said pointing to the powder room. Stefan turned and glared at him.

“Issok . . you don’t have to help us pack” Stefan said reassuringly to Kristelle.

“Why not? There are like a gazillion boxes to fill and Damon’s not helping!” Caroline said sounding surprised.

“I’m helping ! Like right now, I’m finishing this bottle of Bourbon . . one less thing to pack. .” Damon said pouring himself another drink.

“That’s okay . . we’ll uh… get it done. . “ he said awkwardly, his hands on his hips.

“Sure . . okay . .“ Kristelle said frowning. “Well . . I’ll be at home if you need anything” Kristelle said walking away.

He turned to see Caroline sulking. “What?”

She looked around “This will take forever with just the two of us packing!”

“Don’t be lazy . .” He teased grabbing another box.

“You’re lazy” he heard Caroline retort childishly. He smiled.

… . 

“This vintage too?” She said waving the DVD in front of him.

“That’s not mine” He said going red at the porno Caroline uncovered.

Caroline giggled. “So should I pack it or not”

“Not” he said still blushing.

“Maybe I’ll just leave it in the box . . I mean. . wouldn’t want it to feel left out” She said pouting and teasing him.

“Shut up” Stefan said as she giggled hysterically.

“OH I was wondering where I put that” Damon said reaching for the DVD in Caroline’s hand.  Stefan chuckled at the uncomfortable silence that followed suit.

Caroline wiped her hands on her shorts like it was filthy.  “Gross” She said shuddering.

… .

“Its like you’re color blind. . “ He heard Caroline say slightly bewildered. He turned around to see her stare at his T-shirts. “There are white T-shirts, black T-shirts.. T-shirts in different shades of grey . .  and then that’s it. .” She said sounding more flabbergasted with each word. “It’s like there is an invisible line .  . . like here” She said gesturing to the door of his walk in closet “and no color is allowed past it…”

Stefan crept up behind her “Caroline, stop teasing me and get back to packing” He whispered into her ears, her blonde curls tickling his nose, his hands itching to hold her. 

“How’s the packing going?” He heard Damon from behind them. He turned back and scowled at him. “Just great” He replied. “Why aren’t you passed out yet?”

“ppfftt… Do I look like a light weight to you?” Damon said walking away. “Now come on get this done, I wanna get back home to my own bed. . CHOP CHOP” He concluded clapping his hands. 

“I certainly won’t miss him!” Caroline commented packing up Stefan’s room. The feeling of dread that had taken over him last night came alive again. He felt like he would drown in it. He dropped the box he was holding gently to the floor and sat on his bed. He realized that this was the first time Caroline was in here since they had sex. However uncomfortable it was the morning after, he somehow didn’t feel awkward thinking about it now.

“You okay?” Caroline asked looking at him with worry.

“Yeah. . you wanna take a break? Go grab coffee or something?” He asked looking up at her.

“Yeah . .” She said.

“Great!” he said grabbing his jacket.

“What about Damon?” She asked.

“He’ll be fine” Stefan said as walked out of the apartment, Caroline following right behind him.  

“Maybe I should change” Caroline mused pausing to look at her denim shorts and top.

“You look beautiful” he said tugging at her arm and leading her to the elevator.

… .

They had been in the coffee shop for over two hour when Caroline decided to break his happy bubble.

“We should get back..” She suggested.

“Somewhere you need to be?” He asked thinking that she might need to meet Cami or see Nick. 

“Yes. WE need to be back at your house packing. .” She reminded him. 

“Oh. . well. . umm. . are you sure you don’t want to get a bite to eat?”

“Yes.. I can’t pack if I’m stuffed with food! Come on don’t be lazy”

“I’m not lazy” he whined

… .

“I guess we are done. . “ Caroline said in a soft voice. She sounded lost.

“Yeah. .” he said standing beside her, hands in his pocket, looking around his apartment. It was filled with boxes that would be shipped to Chicago; boxes containing everything of value he held in New York, packed with care so that its contents wouldn’t be damaged during the move. The most treasured part of him however, would be left behind. The irony of it all was not lost to him. So he just stood there not wanting to move or talk. Caroline didn’t say anything to break the silence either. They just stood there, as if at a funeral of a loved one.

The doorbell rang and snapped him out of his trance. He walked towards the door, his whole body felt numb.

“HEY!!” He was greeted by a bunch of people. He glanced at their faces. His friends had come to say good bye looked like.

“BRIAN!” he heard Damon call out his name.

“Hey, thanks for letting us know Stefan was leaving!” Brian said shaking his hand.

“How thoughtful of you Damon” Stefan said pretending to be happy.

“Well we can’t throw a party in here” Zack said looking at the apartment flooded with boxes.

“Yeah let’s just go to a club. . boys night. I’m in serious need of a wing-man!” Conner suggested.


“Hey Caroline !” Brian “Sorry didn’t mean to be rude, would you like to-“

“Noo issok. . boys night sounds like a great plan” She said smiling politely. “Enjoy your night!” She said to Stefan as she headed out.

“You guys decide where we’re headed…I’ll uh be right back” Stefan said going behind Caroline.

“Don’t ask” He heard Damon tell the guys.

“Caroline!” he called out to her. She turned around confused.

“I can blow those guys off-“

“No” She said immediately. He shoved his hands into his pocket and looked at her disappointed.

“You should go out, have fun with your friends. I know Damon would love it too.” 

“What about tomorrow?” he asked swallowing. My last day. .

“Well I have a class in the morning that I can’t avoid. . and after that I’m all yours”

“What do you wanna do?” He asked her looking forward to the next day.

“I was uh… I was thinking . .” She stopped short.

“Lemme guess, you wanna call the rest of the people I know and have a farewell party?” It was her thing. . she liked getting people together for big events such as this. But he just wanted to spend time with her.

“No. .  I was thinking we could just spend the day together. .just the two of us. .but a party with the rest of the people you know is fine too if-“ Caroline said.

“No I’d rather it just be the two of us. .” He said, the words tumbling out rapidly. 

“Okay. .” She said smiling. She really did look happy about spending the day with him  “I’ll see you tomorrow” 

“Yeah . . do you want me to bring you some dinner or dessert?” He asked, unwilling to let the conversation end. 

“Nah I’m good” She said smiling and walking into her apartment. “NOW GO!” She scolded him, forcing  him to scurry back to his apartment where his friends were waiting for him.


“Hey” Kristelle said opening the door, “Carolines not here she’s-“

“Gone to class. I know” he said pushing his way in. “I’m uh.. here to see you”

“You are?”

 “Yeah . . I’m leaving tomorrow . . so. .”

“What’s that?” She asked gesturing to the little brown paper box he held.

“Peace offering?” He said giving it to her. “Cupcakes. . all yours” he added.

Kristelle smiled and shook her head. “This is so weird”

She went to the dining table and opened the box. Stefan took a seat opposite hers.

“Sorry I didn’t help with the packing. Ma wasn’t happy about it.”

“Nah issok. . I . .” 

“Wanted to spend time with Caroline?” Kristelle asked. 

“Yeah . .”

“You guys have gotten really close. . You gonna miss her aren’t you?”

“Yeah. .” he admitted. He looked to Kristelle, she seemed to be avoiding his gaze. “Something on your mind?”

“No. . just uh. .  I think this is for the best… I mean. . your life is in Chicago. It’s like you pressed pause when you came here.” She said.

“Hasn’t felt like that in a while though “

“Yeah cause you were living in your Caroline bubble. . “ Kristelle said.

“My Caroline bubble?” He asked his eyebrows raised.

“Yeah like you were in this alternate reality where it was just you, her and your weird dysfunctional friendship… maybe its time you live in the real world now. . I know Caroline is.”

“Caroline and I . . we are best friends. . not some bubble that is going to burst with time. . “

“yeah sure, you’ll always remain friends I guess. .  normal friends… I think it’s good for her too . .”

“’Cause Nick doesn’t like me. .”

“I don’t think any guy who wants a romantic relationship with her would Stef” Kristelle said softly.

“Because we have a weird dysfunctional friendship?”


“Never felt dysfunctional to me. . “ He said softly.

“That’s what all bubble-residents say”

… . .             … . .              … . .              … . .

“We can take a cab if you don’t wanna walk” She suggested.

“Why? We always walk to Jays” he reminded her. She smiled.

“So how was last night?”

“It was okay. Damon was pretty happy to get out of the house I think”

“I bet. . so did the movers pick up the boxes?”

“umm .. no . . I was thinking-“ Stefan started.

“issok, I’ll get it done” She interjected. 

“Right. .thanks. .” Guess he won’t be buying more time with that excuse.

“You know . . I’ll uh. . miss this. . “ he said.

“Walking 30 minutes to a bar?”

“Yeah . . I’ll miss walking 30 minutes to a bar” … With you

“Liar. . you hate walking” Caroline said laughing.

“I don’t hate walking” … With you  but he left that out“Do you wanna get dessert on the way back?”

“Yeah .  .”

She smiled, it was her enchanted smile. The one she had when she was really looking forward to something.

“Hey there kids, haven’t seen you in forever.” Jay said as they walked in.

“Yeah. . we’ve been . .busy” Stefan said. .

“No Nick I see. .” Lisa commented.

“No uh. . just us. . Stefan’s going home tomorrow” Caroline told Lisa.

“Home ?”

“Chicago , I’m going back to Chicago” Stefan clarified.

“Oh. .we’ll miss you kid. .” Lisa said

“Yeah I’ll miss you guys too”

“But hey. . home. . that doesn’t sound so bad eh?” Jay mused. 

Stefan smiled politely.

Jay brought them their drinks. “On the house.”

“Thanks” Caroline beamed. She took her beer mug and looked like she was going to do a toast. “Here’s to you and your return home.” She said clinking her mug to his Bourbon glass and taking a sip.

“Do you think you’ll ever visit Chicago?” Stefan asked.

“I donno . .” Caroline shrugged.

“For your birthday, if I gifted you tickets to Chicago would you come?” Stefan blurted out remembering that Bonnie got her tickets to go to Virginia. 

Caroline hesitated to answer. 

“I guess Nick wouldn’t be thrilled about that huh?” Stefan asked softly.

“I’m guessing no …”

“Are you still gonna spend you birthday with Bonnie or will you spend it with Nick this year?” She didn’t make an exception for him, would she do it for Nick he wondered. Even though they were dating for months now, he still thought of himself as more important to Caroline. But he could anticipate that that would change, especially with him no longer in New York. And he didn’t want it to change. 

“I donno… my birthdays months away. . but yeah . . I’d probably spend it with Bonnie I guess… that’s the one constant in my life . . I donno if I want to change that…”

“What about me? Do you think we’ll drift apart.” First Kristelle with her Bubble Theory and now Caroline referring to Bonnie as her constant and not him was making him anxious.

“I hope not. .”

“But you can’t say for sure. .” He asked sorrowfully. 

“Well. . I don’t want us to drift apart…”

“I don’t want that either”

“There you go” Jay said placing their food in front of them.

“Thanks” they both mumbled.



I’ll really miss you. 

“I’m glad we came here”  He said instead.

“Yeah me too . . it’s gonna be weird coming here without you though” She admitted sipping her beer. She looked somber as if there was a sadness she couldn’t shake.

“Maybe we can skype when you’re here” He suggested fondly.

“That might be weirder” She said sounding depressed. She rested her cheek on her hand. “I’ll be here talking to a laptop and drinking beer. . how pathetic is that.“ She sighed. His attempt to lighten the mood didn’t work was not working.   

“Text then? Might be less weird. .”

“Yeah. . I guess. .” She mumbled.

“This is so saaaad !” Jay sobbed, dabbing his tears away with his handkerchief.

“There, there hun” Lisa consoled him. “Sorry about him,” She said turning to Caroline and Stefan, “he’s kind of a lightweight when it comes to the emotional stuff” She said soothingly rubbing her husband’s back.

“I’ll uh. .  I need to use the little girls room” Caroline got up and hurried to the washroom before he could react. He sighed and gulped down his drink.

“So when do you leave Stefan?” Lisa asked him.

“Tomorrow morning” he said glumly.

“Well I’m glad we got to see you before you left.”

He smiled at her. “Yeah me too”

“You okay?” he asked her as she sat down next to him. 

“mhmm” She hummed gulping down her beer.

“Easy there tiger” he joked. She smiled.

“One more round?” She asked.

“yeah.. why not. .”

… .

“Not hungry?” he asked eyeing her plate that should have been empty hours ago.

“Nope. .” She said staring at it. “I think I’ll just get it packed. .”

“You wanna go get some dessert maybe?”

“No . . I think we should just head back.  It’s getting late and you have a morning flight”

“That’s okay. . I’ll just sleep on the flight. .”

She smiled at him woefully. He got up, stepped towards her. “No . .” he said shaking his head softly.

“No what?” She asked.

“No sad-smiling” he murmured. 


“The smile you’re giving me right now …that’s not the smile I wanna see… ever…” he said, feeling down and out.

She stared at him perplexed.

He lunged forward without warning and tickled her. She shrieked and squirmed in her seat. He caught her in his arms, making sure she doesn’t fall off and stood her up, her back facing him as he curled his arms around her.

“Are you still sad-smiling?” He murmured into her ears. She turned her head to look into his eyes, their noses almost touching, and an impish smile on her face. 

“I’m leaving New York, not you” He said looking into her eyes.

“Okay” She said softly.

“Good, now eat your food, ‘coz you know . . you can’t sleep well on an empty stomach” He said grinning at her.

She smiled right back.

… . .

He was back home in his bed. The reality of leaving sinking in.

“Caroline?” he spoke into the phone. “Can I come over?”

“Key’s under the mat” She said her voice echoing her sorrow.

He quickly went to her room, got under the covers and turned to face her.

“It’s you…” He said softly. “You asked me what I would miss most about New York. . it’s not Jays or pizza. . or Pictionary . .its you. .”, He said, his voice hitching, his breath labored. She crawled next to him and hugged him. “I’ll miss you too” 

He held her tight and placed a soft kiss on the top of her golden head.

“You’ll pick up my calls right?” He heard her muffled voice as she spoke into his chest. 

“Of course I will . . why wouldn’t I” 

“You ignore phone calls a lot. .” She said her voice faltering. 

“I won’t ignore yours.” He promised, resting his cheek on her head.

He stroked her hair as he felt her tears soak his T-shirt. “Maybe I should just . . stay. . “ he mused.

“Stay then. .”

“Okay. . “ He whispered.

“Okay. .” 

She hugged him tighter. “Not okay” She said sobbing.

“Why not?”

“You need to go . . fix things with your dad… get back to your life.”

He didn’t say anything. “What about us?” He asked.

“We’ll be okay”

“Promise?” He asked, his voice shaking.

“Yeah . .I promise”

He continued to hold her as she drifted off to sleep. He couldn’t bring himself to close his eyes. If he did, he would open it in time to leave and he would miss holding her.

… . .

He felt her stir awake. “What time is it?” She asked scrambling to check her phone.

“Shit shit shit !” She said clearly panicking. His eyes however were fixed on her study table.

“You don’t have our picture on your table” he said almost in a daze.

“Stefan, go get dressed!”

“You have everyone’s picture, why isin’t my picture there?”

“Seriously? You are going to miss your flight!”

He just stared at her heart broken. 

“I have a picture of us . . I just haven’t found the perfect frame yet” She said softly. He swallowed and looked away. His phone rang just then. “yeah I’m coming” Stefan said into the phone. “I uh” he started. 

“Yeah. .” She said. 

He got up and left, his heart sinking. He quickly showered and changed into his travel clothes. He packed whatever little was left and headed out the door. Caroline was waiting for him, leaning against the door to her apartment.

“I’ll meet you downstairs” He told Damon.

“Hurry up .. “ Damon told him. He nodded goodbye to Caroline, she nodded back.

“So. . “ She started, her voice cracking.

“yeah. . “ He said unable to look at her. This didn’t feel right. He felt miserable.

“Don’t forget about me okay?” She said tears rolling down her cheeks. He immediately grabbed her and hugged her tight.

“Shut up” He said as she hugged him back. They stood there in silence, him never wanting to let her go, until his phone rang. “That must be Damon” Caroline said breaking the hug.

“Time to go Stefan” She reminded him. His phone rang again, he silenced it.

“Bye Caroline” He whispered finally breaking his silence.

“Bye. .” She said. “Have a safe trip. .”

And with that, he walked away. There were so many things he wished he would have told her. If only he wasn’t crippled by the weight of the emotions running through him. Emotions he was still coming to terms with. I’m gonna miss you so much. .he wanted to say. .you have no idea what you mean to me.. . 

He entered the elevator. I’d stay forever if I could.  .  .

He leaned against the elevator wall and took in the sight of her one last time. I love you…

The door closed. His words remained unspoken.

A/N: A moment of silence for my friend Cami aka camii75  who I’m sure just died reading this.

Chapter 17 - Home Is Where The Heart Is


“Seriously?” Damon sounded annoyed.

“What?” Stefan asked not taking his eyes off his Bourbon. He was seated at the bar. The Gilberts were having a party for reasons entirely alien to him.

“You’ve been here for two weeks and all you’ve done is mope around. It’s like New York all over again…I fucking don’t get you Stefan. In New York you moped cause you wanted to be back here and now that you’re here you’re brooding because.. what ?”

“Lets see… I got here to find out my house has been sold. . thanks for the heads up by the way” He added sarcastically. .

” and then surprise surprise, turns out my dad has decreed that I live with him . . I feel 12. . thanks for not trying to change his mind about that !” He said through gritted teeth..

“ Not that it makes that much of a difference because he hasn’t really talked to me … not unless its work related and absolutely necessary . Oh wait it does cause I feel like an imbecile “ He breathed out sharply and stopped short.

“And?” Damon mumbled into his drink.

“And what?”

“Is that it?”

“no . . I. .uh… I can’t help but think that had Caroline been here. . I would have felt differently about all this” he said feeling depressed.

“Did you and Caroline. . the night before we left New York. . did you guys.. you know. .”

“NO Damon!” he replied gritting his teeth.

“Okay.. just uh.. . checking. . I mean you slept at her house and you didn’t look like you slept at all. . ”

Stefan glared at him.

“Look . . you guys are close friends… more like the only friend you let into your life in New York. .so yeah. . I get why you miss her. .  But Stefan, she’s in New York. .in a relationship with someone else. You’re here in Chicago . . single. .… maybe it’s just a crush . .  I mean. . granted, she’s hot. “

Stefan just sighed. “I don’t think it’s a crush” 

“I’ve known you your whole life and you’ve always been a mind over matters of the heart kind of  person. . .”

“Yeah . . “

“I’m sure you had your reasons for not wanting to pursue anything more with her after you guys slept together. “

“I did”

“Past year and a half of your life has been all about Caroline. .  Maybe you just need to get back out there… you won’t know till you give it a shot.” Damon suggested.

He didn’t reply. 

“Can we at least enjoy this party… “

“I hate parties” Stefan said tapping his glass for a  refill .

“Stefan…” Damon sighed in exasperation.

“Fine. .” Stefan buckled to his brother’s whim.

“Great! Come on, let’s mingle”

Stefan grabbed his drink and followed Damon reluctantly.

 “Rebekah, have you met Stefan?”

“I don’t believe I have” The girl replied.

“Stefan this is Rebekah Holt” Damon introduced him.

“Holt as in Holt Industries?” Stefan enquired.

“That’s right. .”

“I hear the company is doing very well in the U.S. markets” Stefan complimented her.

“yaay us” She said clearly disinterested in talking business.

“What’s up Bex, you don’t sound like yourself. ” Damon chatted. Looked like they were friends.

“Just a bit down in the dumps. .” She sulked.

“I hear ice-cream helps with that” Stefan quipped sipping his drink.

“I beg your pardon?” Rebekah sounded confused.

“You know ice-cream. . well one scoop of cookie dough ice cream and one scoop of vanilla with sprinkles” he replied like it was common knowledge.

“Ice-cream with sprinkles?”

“Yeah solves all of life’s problems” Stefan declared.

Rebekah burst out laughing. “That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard ! But thank you. .  I needed the laugh.” 

You’re stupid !  “You’re welcome”

Damon smiled uncomfortably. “Excuse us, we’ll be right back” he said grabbing Stefan’s arm and yanking him away.

“What the fuck was that?” he asked irritated.

“I have no idea what you’re referring to” Stefan slurred.

“Gimme that” He said taking the drink out of Stefan’s hand. “Water for you”


“Ice-cream solves all of life’s problems? Really? What are you 8? This is a Caroline thing isn’t it? You know what don’t answer that. Enough with the Caroline obsession Stefan. Wake up and smell the coffee. Because if you don’t, you’ll find yourself in a situation where she’ll be married with 3 kids and you will still be using ice-cream solves all of life’s problems as your pathetic pick up line” Damon ranted.

“I’m very grateful that I’m drunk for this” Stefan replied apathetically.

“I am trying to help you-“

“If I want your help I’ll ask for it” Stefan said walking away.

… . .                       … . .                       … . .                       

“And she thought ice cream was stupid” he told the blonde haired, blue-eyed face that occupied the screen of his laptop.

“ugh” Caroline stuffing a spoon full of ice cream in her mouth.

“She’s stupid” They both said in unison. That got them both chuckling. Stefan licked the spoon clean, his ice-cream bowl empty.

“How are things with your dad?”

“Same” He answered.


Stefan shrugged. “What did you do today?”

“Nothing much. . the usual”

“No Nick?”

“Nick has been busy at the hospital for a while”

“Hmmm do you miss him?” he asked. Caroline froze. He stared at the screen to read her reaction. She shrugged. “Not really.. I mean. .  he’s just at work . .  why would I miss him?”

“hmmm” Stefan hummed.

“How’s work” She asked him.

He shrugged. “Fine”

“More ice-cream?” She suggested.

“Yeah!” He got up for a refill.


“Drink?” Damon asked him and his father. 

“Sure” Stefan replied. His father nodded.

“Mr. Salvatore” Elena said embracing his father.

“It’s lovely to see you again Elena” his father said politely.

“Nice of you to join us Stefan” Elena said smiling.

Stefan gave her a tight-lipped smile. He then proceeded to find Damon.

“So what’s this about?” he asked

“What do you mean?”

“Since when do you invite people for dinner. . you’re more of a club kind of guy”

“Well I can’t imagine my uncle would want to go to a club.”

Stefan rolled his eyes. “Whatever”

The doorbell rang. Stefan turned to Damon puzzled. “Be right back” Damon said handing Stefan his drink. “And Stefan . . you may wanna take it slow. .” he said referring to the drink in Stefan’s hand.

“Mr. Holt, Rebekah. .” He heard Damon’s chipper voice and tuned out. He sighed. This was a business dinner to get to know the Holts. He wasn’t surprised. His family always had an ulterior motive for everything they did.

He picked at his dinner, as if bored.

“How’s the lasagna Stefan?” Elena asked.

“It’s uh.. good” He said not wanting to offend her.

“Not hungry?” 

“Yeah, no , I’m just. . distracted” he said staring at his food.

He zoned out again. The lasagna had carrots in it. Caroline wouldn’t have put carrots in the lasagna. Also Caroline wouldn’t invite people for dinner for the sole purpose of future gain. But then again Caroline was nothing like the people sitting around this table. He wondered if he was. Before New York he would have gladly had a business dinner, flashed a fake smile, pretended to thoroughly enjoy a conversation with snooty businessmen to further the company’s agenda. Maybe he should just treat it as business, suck it up and be the man he was raised to be. The company would come to him eventually, he’d probably have to do this a lot more than he wants. He glanced around the table at the politely smiling faces, perfectly appropriate in their speech and movement. Scripted almost. Did they like each other at all he wondered. Did it matter? Should it matter? He felt conflicted. Maybe this was what his dad meant when he said Elena would be the perfect fit, she was someone who was accustomed to all of this. Would Caroline sit here and just make polite conversation all the while knowing the only reason she was doing so was so that an artificial entity could benefit from her hospitality? Maybe Kristelle was right. .  maybe it was a bubble… maybe reality was too complicated to accommodate him and Caroline. Not in the way he wanted to anyhow.

He decided to pay attention to what was happening. US politics seemed to be the topic at hand.

“Well the chances of the Republican party winning the elections seem to be dropping by the second.” Mr. Holt complained.  

“yeah well. .  that’s cause they have an idiot for a candidate.” Damon quipped.

“Well I wouldn’t call him an idiot. . ” Mr. Holt said.

“He’s fighting a losing battle is what he’s doing.” His father said disapprovingly. 

“He just bugs me for some reason . .can’t put my finger on it” Rebekah commented.

Stefan chuckled.

“The presidential elections funny to you?” She asked him, taking offence to his amusement. 

“No uh.. not at all. . I just remembered a funny incident that’s all”

“Pray tell” Elena beckoned.

“Well Caroline, she’s my, well we didn’t really know each other at the time” he scratched the back of his head smiling like a dork. “Uh so. . I hear this frightened loud scream. . Like somebody broke in to the house or something, so I run in with a gun thinking she’s in trouble” he paused to chuckle again. “ And Caroline’s on the couch, completely terrified, I’m looking around for the perpetrator . . who turns out to be a little bug!” He laughed again remembering how cute she looked pointing to the bug and asking Stefan to kill it. Why didn’t he find it funny at the time? It had ticked him off back then. He stopped laughing and looked around the table to catch the bewildered stares of everyone including his father. 

He cleared his throat. “Um.. you should have been there I guess.. not funny when its.. um. . narrated. .” he clarified awkwardly. 

Everyone continued to stare at him. “You said bug.. and uh ..  the incident involved a bug . .so . .” he gave his reasoning for the story popping up in his brain.

Rebekah smiled politely and went back to her meal. Damon scowled at him. He should have kept his mouth shut he realized. His phone rang to his enormous relief. Caroline. “I have to take this, excuse me” he said getting up from the table.

“Thank You” He said answering the phone and closing the guest bedroom door behind him.

“You’re welcome.. uh .. what are you thanking me for again?” He heard Caroline’s voice

“For saving me from the most annoying dinner with my dad and-“

“Oh crap, I didn’t mean to interrupt your dinner with your dad”

“No its ok”

“Its not! Hang up and go back”, Caroline exclaimed.

“No you don’t get it, the Holts are here and I told them the bug incident and now they think I’m retarded” Stefan explained.

“The bug incident?” She asked confused.

“You know, when you saw a bug and you screamed and I came in with a gun” he said suppressing his laughter. 

“And then you were a total dick. Yeah I remember”

“Yeah I was a total dick … but now that I think about it. . it was kinda funny”

“There was a giant bug in the apartment. . how is that funny” She demanded to know.

He let out a short laugh, “It wasn’t a giant bug, it was a tiny thing, it was probably more scared of you-”

“Wait, why was it scared of me?” She asked incredulously

“Maybe ‘cause you were yelling kill it !” He teased her. 

“The bug understood English?”


She burst out laughing. He laughed with her. There was something contagious about her laughter. He fell flat on the bed. “What did you do all day?”

“Nothing. . well . . Nick and I had a fight . .so”

“What about?”

“He asked me to move in with him” She said. His heart skipped a beat. “And I said no…so . . lets just say he didn’t take it so well”

“hmmmm what did he say?”

“Stuff.. ughh.. not important..” she deflected.

“Why did you say no?” he asked softly.

“I just… I think it’s too soon ..  I just. .. I just don’t feel it” She said vaguely. 

“Well if you don’t feel it, you don’t feel it. . that’s that. .”

“yeah . .” She sighed.

“Was he rude to you?” he asked gently.

“Well he certainly wasn’t charming !”

“I’m sorry”

“Nobody’s perfect right?” She said sounding glum.

“Time for you to get back to your dinner. .” She reminded him.

“Naaa I’ll just-”

“Stefan!” She scolded him,

“ugh, you’re no fun” he teased. She giggled.  He loved the sound of her giggling. It brought a wide smile to his face.

“Call me when you’re done?” She asked. 

“yeah. .”



He sat up just as the door opened to reveal Damon’s disapproving countenance.

“What now?” he asked Damon feeling exhausted.

“Bug? Really?” 

He rubbed his hands over his face.  He couldn’t do anything right looked liked. 

“Yeah that was… stupid” he admitted.

“You know . . it’s really an uphill battle setting you up with Rebekah”

“I’m sorry what?”

“Rebekah, the hot blonde at the table?” Damon said condescendingly. 

“I know who she is, why the hell are you setting us up?” Stefan demanded to know.

“Because, I think she might be good for you”

“Good for me? Does this have anything to do with her last name?”

“Look she’s great,! Elena and I have known her for a while now. . you gotta give her a chance” Damon reasoned. 

“I’m not really-”

“Look we can double date. . less pressure. . I’m not gonna drop this Stefan. . and your father approves so. .”

“Of course he approves.” He said getting up.

… . .           

“Nightcap?” his father asked him as they got back to the house from Damon’s.


His dad poured himself and Stefan a drink in his study and gestured to his son to have a seat. He hadn’t been in such a formal meeting with his dad in years, it made him nervous. 

“So I hear you did well in the New York office..” he started.

“yeah. . it was. . fine”

“Damon tells me you are no longer using.” His father commented casually, not looking him in the eye.

“I’m clean. . been clean for years”

His father started at him intently, as if trying to gauge him.

“I’ve never known you to be inappropriate at business dinners . .” His father said hesitantly.

“yeah I guess I’m rusty . . It’s been a while since I attended one”

“Who’s call did you attend?”

“A friend’s. .  from New York.” 


“Look, if you have something to say, why don’t you come out and say it” Stefan said growing impatient.

“Alright then. What I want is for you to put our business and this family first and not leave abruptly to attend a call from a friend when you are in the middle of a conversation with someone like Holt” 

“It was one phone call dad, not the end of the world” 

“It takes time to build up a working business relationship Stefan, and you disrespecting potential partners does not help matters” His father said sounding slightly exasperated. 

“I didn’t disrespect anyone, I answered the damn phone.” 

“How about you do what I ask of you and not talk back?” His father ordered.

“How about you acknowledge that I’ve always done what you have asked of me. I have obeyed you my whole life starting from which sport to play in high school to which college to go to, what to major in, hell I even let you pick my girl friend – look how that turned out.” Stefan rambled. 

“I didn’t ask you to do drugs or kill anyone”

“No that was all me, but did you really not notice that I was on drugs, or did you just choose to ignore it because I was playing my part like you wanted me to.”

“I thought you were responsible enough to quit on your own” There was disappointment in his father voice.

“Yeah ‘cause that’s the effect drugs have on people .. Look I’m not blaming you for what happened, that’s on me. But you didn’t help either. So lets not sit here and pretend you ‘re always right”

“You do realize if it weren’t for me, you’d be in jail right now”

“Yeah and I’m grateful. But we both know that was not just about me… it was also about the repercussions my possible incarceration would have on the company. You can’t hold that over me forever, dictate my whole damn life, tell me where to live, how to go about my life, who to love.” Stefan said getting angrier with each word.

“You never had a problem heeding my advice before” His father argued. 

“Well I guess I know better now and I’d like to make my own decisions and not just blindly follow whatever decision you make for me . . “ He said getting up. “Also, I can’t live here indefinitely. I’m gonna move into a hotel till I find a place” Stefan said walking out.

“And I never intended to kill Justin. I’m not a murderer. It was an accident.” He turned around declared.

He went up to his room, locked the door and rang Caroline.

“Hey” He heard her voice. She sounded upset.

“What’s wrong?” he asked, the anger that was boiling within him dissipating with the sound of her voice. 


“You’re lying. . is it Nick?” he asked, worry seeping in.


“What did he say?”

“It’s not what he said. . more like. .how he said it”

“What do you mean?” His eyebrows furrowed as he pushed her for more information.

“he was mad. .really mad. .”

“Well don’t let him pressure you into doing anything you don’t wanna do” he said.



“I’m okay”

He breathed out sharply. She didn’t sound okay.

“I found a frame for our picture” She said sounding better.

“You did?”

“Yeah” She said. It made him smile. “Good. .  it’s not behind Bonnie’s is it?”

She chuckled.

“How did dinner go?”

“Fine” he lied. 


“I’m moving to a hotel till I find a place” He informed her.


“I uh. . had a difference of opinion with my dad and . . I can’t live here anymore Caroline, it’s driving me insane. I need my own place, I’m not 12, I don’t need a parent watching my every move”

“Hmmmm” Caroline hummed.

“You don’t think I should move out?”

“I didn’t say that. . I mean. . I get why you would want to move out” Caroline admitted.


“But nothing. .”


“really. .  I mean . . maybe yours is a good fences make good neighbors situation . . so. .” Caroline sounded like she was thinking out loud.

“yeah I really think it’ll be better if I move out. . I don’t feel like myself here”

“But I do think you should clear the air with your dad before you move out”


“So you intend to follow through with what you said the other night?” his father asked looking at him standing before him, his bags packed and ready to move.

“Yeah. I think it’s better this way.”

“Very well. .” Was all his father said before heading up the stairs.

“Is it though?” Damon asked from behind him. “I mean. .  you haven’t even started looking for a place-“ he stopped just as he caught the look on Stefan’s face. “Fine” he muttered heading to the door. 

“Did you think about what I said?” Damon asked him. 

“You said a lot of things”

“About Rebekah” Damon clarified. 


“You know  she is your type. . “

“And by that you mean?”

“Pragmatic, intelligent, hot. .”

Stefan didn’t reply.


“He keeps bugging me to go out with Rebekah” He whined to Caroline over the phone.


“The girl who thinks ice-cream is stupid”

“Oh.. hmmm”

“This is the part where you say, yuk no, why would you go out with her . . or something to that effect in Caroline Forbes lingo…”

She let out a short laugh and fell silent.


“Well you didn’t like ice-cream either. . until very recently. .”

“But I do now. .” 

“Stefan . .” 

“The other day she joined Damon and me for lunch and she kept complaining about how it might rain”

“You complain about rain too” she said. 

“That. .  that’s not the point”

“Maybe he’s right… Maybe she is your type. .” She sounded sad.

“What about your whole – you should be with someone with more soul epiphany. 

“Look . . Damon knows you better than anyone else. .  so if he thinks she’ll be good for you-”

“I don’t think Damon knows me better than anyone else” he interrupted her.

“Stefan, when you were here in New York, you were not happy, not because you couldn’t be, but because you didn’t allow yourself to be happy. .” She said gently.

“What’s that got to do with Chicago?” 

“I just feel .. maybe you’re falling back into old patters and refusing to let yourself be happy in Chicago . .”

“So you’re saying. .” 

She sighed.

“I’m saying. .  You won’t know if she’s your type, unless you… give it a shot. . a real shot”

“So, you want me to date her?”

He heard her sigh again. Was this difficult for her? If it was, was it because maybe she has feelings for him too? He was the one who had decided they wouldn’t work, he was to one who put an end to it before it even began…

“I want you to be happy . . and if your happiness lies with her.  . then I will find it within myself to like the girl who thinks ice-cream is stupid.”


“So now you want to take her out on a date? What changed your mind?’ Damon sounded confused.

“Who. .” Stefan corrected him


“Who changed my mind.” He sighed, “Caroline thinks I’m not giving Chicago or Rebekah a real shot . . and that maybe I should…”

“Caroline. . hmmm..”

“Look. .  I know I have feelings for Caroline… but she… she’s with someone else. . and we did agree to remain friends. .  and I . . . I haven’t really been with anyone since Elena… I . .Maybe I’ll feel differently if I date someone else. . I don’t know. “

“When you say you have feelings for Caroline. .” Damon began hesitantly. He cut him off.

“Damon… . Life’s far more complicated for love or whatever to be the answer to everything. Maybe Caroline and I are better off as best friends… and if that’s the case…then maybe me moving on is what’s best for the both of us”

“Okay. . that’s… I don’t entirely understand it. . but. . whatever.. I’ll text you her number”


He heard a knock on his hotel door. He opened it to find someone he had never expected to see at his doorstep. 

“Mr. Nelson?” It was his mother’s husband.

“Hi Stefan. .”

“What are you doing here..”

“Well your mother told me you moved here till you found a place. . and . .” David Nelson said politely. 

“Would you like to come in?” he asked stepping aside so he could come inside. They sat in the living area of the suite.

“Look I realize we haven’t spent much time together. And you probably hate me for breaking up your family-“ He heard him start.

“No I don’t hate you . . I’m past all that. My mother’s happy . . you make her happy. . ”

“I’ve always felt that I had a role to play in your. .”

“No. . that. . you didn’t. Don’t worry about it.” Stefan reassured him.

“Stefan, your mother and I would really love it if you would move in with us till you find a place. .I mean… we don’t want you to have to live in a hotel. . and your room has been unoccupied since I don’t remember when. .”

“You don’t have to do that. . I don’t think-“

“Please. .  I think Lily would love to have you live with her even though it’s for a short while” His stepfather sounded sincere and he had never really gave him a chance before.

“Okay . . yeah . . thank you”

Chapter 18 – Accidentally In Love

“So what do you like more? New York style pizza or Chicago deep dish?” His sister asked him while pouring herself cereal. He had been at his mother’s house for a week, but he felt more at home there than he did at the house he grew up in. He had never really taken the effort to get to know his sister and he regretted it now. She seemed sweet and welcoming, well as sweet as a teenager can be.

“Both?” he said sipping his coffee.

“You have to pick one.” She stated.

“New York” he said immediately.

“Traitor” She accused him. He chuckled.

“So uh-“

“Do you think you can convince my mom to get me a puppy?” She interrupted him.

“A puppy?” He asked. 

“yeah. .” 

“uhhh … I donno if I should. .uh” He replied awkwardly.

“Ugh ! Lizzie is right, brothers are useless” Sara said dramatically.

“Sara!” Lily admonished her. 

“What?” She asked turning to her mom who had just entered the kitchen. 

“It’s fine” Stefan said turning to his mother. “Kristelle is way ruder” 

“Is Kristelle coming to Chicago anytime?” Sara sounded excited.

“I don’t know. ” Stefan replied.

“Morning guys” His stepfather walked into the kitchen, pecked Lily on the cheek and proceeded to get coffee and breakfast. Everyone returned his greeting.

“So Stefan, you wanna go catch the game somewhere on Thursday?” David asked him.

“yeah sure”

“Yes please goooo, I need to watch my BS Diaries live!” Sara declared. 

“BS Diaries?” Stefan asked. 

“Blood Sucker Diaries”

“Don’t get her started” His stepfather David mumbled.

“Dad doesn’t appreciate the intricacies and layers of the show” Sara explained seriously.

“It’s a show with 100 year old vampires attending school dances, how layered can it be?” David commented.

“That’s rude Dad. . really rude. .I’m offended. .  I’m gonna go get ready for school now. . bye rude family” She said walking away. Stefan chuckled. He had spent enough time around TV show obsessed girls to know better than to insult their show or favorite character.

“I’m gonna pay for that aren’t I?” David asked.  

“Yeah” Both Lily and Stefan replied decisively. Lily and her husband turned to him wondering how he was so sure.

“Caroline once threw me out of her apartment for insulting a TV character. . she didn’t speak to me the whole day . . I had to bribe her with food. .  they can get pretty intense. .” He explained.

“Intense you say?” His step father sounded worried.

“I went to a coffee shop one time with Caroline and her friend Sakshi and they had an argument with complete strangers because they were insulting some characters on their favorite show . . It was ridiculously intense. I was surprised we didn’t get thrown out! I think someone took a video of it and its on YouTube with like hundred thousand hits.”

“So are you saying my kid doesn’t need therapy or that they all need anti-psychotics?” he asked looking nervous.

“Sara is pretty normal. Just pray no one important dies on the show. . that’s when things get really crazy” Stefan volunteered information.

“Exactly how crazy we talking here?”

“I’m talking acid trip alternate dimension crazy. . one friend of Caroline’s asked me to shoot her dead” Stefan replied.

“Maybe I should cut the cable?”

“She’ll kill you in your sleep” Stefan informed him seriously.

He looked across the table to his mother who was uncontrollably laughing at their serious discourse.

“This is not funny Lily, our daughter might lose her marbles over this Bull Shit Diaries”

“She’ll be fine ! Don’t worry about it. And she’ll definitely loose her cool if you call her show bull shit diaries.” Lily said stifling her laughter.

“So your Caroline. . she’s ummm.. okay despite all this ?” David Nelson asked Stefan.

“yeah she’s perfect”


“What’s with all the noise?” He heard Caroline’s voice on the phone.

“Rebekah wanted to go to a club”

“Wait you’re on a date? I am so sorry I-” 

“Chill its ok.” Stefan interrupted her unnecessary apologies.

“No it’s not, next time you need to ignore my call if you’re on a date and call me back whenever you’re free” 

“Caroline. . “

“Stefan . .”

“Why’d you call?” he asked.

“No reason”

“Are you sure-“

“yeah ok I’m gonna hang up now. Enjoy your date” And with that the line went dead.

He reluctantly went back to where Rebekah was seated.

“Everything alright?” Rebekah asked politely.

“I’m not sure” he said still thinking about his conversation with Caroline.

“You’re not a club person are you?”

“No not really.. . too many . . people” he said.

“Yeah you do look like a bit of a loner”

“Caught that did you?” He joked.

“Maybe we should just do dinner next time” She suggested. 

He looked back to his phone and sent a text to Caroline – Are you sure you are okay?


“yup” Stefan said looking up from his phone.

“so dinner next time?” She asked him again. 

“Uh. .yeah. . dinner. . sounds fine”

He checked his phone again. No reply.

“Please tell me that is an important business contact you are worried about”

“uh.. sorry. .” he said shoving his phone in his pocket. He did promise himself to give Chicago and Rebekah a fair chance. 

“Do you want to get some dessert on the way back?”

“No I don’t want the extra calories” Rebekah replied. 

“Yeah, I’m not much of a dessert person myself” 

“Then what made you ask?”

“My best friend,  she is obsessed with dessert. Every time we went to our favorite bar, we’d walk back and grab dessert. Sometimes we’d go to this ice cream store and she always picked either the cookie dough flavored ice cream or nutty delight and she’d eat it on the walk back. Sometimes, she’d want cake and we’d take a detour and go to this quaint bakery that is open till really late and she’d pack red velvet cupcake or crumb cake or sometimes pie, but rarely pie.”

“Why did you walk?” She asked confused.

“She likes walking and I didn’t at first. .but . .I donno I got used to it I guess.” He said smiling.

“Hmmmm” Rebekah hummed, obviously disinterested.

“So where do you wanna do dinner next time?” He said changing the topic to something she might be more interested in.

“The new French restaurant of course”

“Right. . I’ll get us a reservation” His phone buzzed and he immediately fished it out of his pocket.

Stop texting and enjoy your date. IM FINE - - the text read.


“Just tell me which house to pick!” Stefan said exasperatedly staring at the screen of his laptop.

“They are all great houses really I mean you should go with whatever feels like home to you” Caroline reasoned.

“What would you pick?”

“The one with the white fences.”  She said immediately.

“okay. See wasn’t so hard was it?” he cribbed.

“What’s your deal? Why are you grumpy? Fight with Rebekah?”

“nope.. no fight. .”

“So it’s going well then?” She enquired.

“I donno. . too soon to tell. .”

“Well you’ll know when you know..” She said shrugging.


“I gotta run” She said looking at her phone.



“Your birthday . . are you spending it with Bonnie ?” he asked her. It irked him that she might be in New York for her birthday this year and he wouldn’t.

“Yeah she’s coming over here. .”

“You’re gonna be in New York for you birthday this year?”


“great” he muttered.



“Why are you sulking?”

“I’m not sulking”

“you look like your sulking” She replied, her eyes narrowed.

“I thought you said you have to go?”

“Yeah shit! Bye” She said jumping up and grabbing her bag.

“Call me-“ he said to have her cut him off.

“I’ll call you tonight”

He looked up from the laptop screen to see his mother staring at him curiously.

“So the house hunting seems to be almost done?” She asked.

“Yeah .. sorry I took so long, I didn’t mean to-“

“Stefan, I love having you here. . I’m just sorry you’ll be leaving soon”

He smiled. “I love being here too. .  Sara is . . pretty great. . should have gotten to know her sooner”

“yeah well. . better late than never right?” She reassured him. He nodded and opened his laptop again.

“So Caroline… she seems pretty sweet..” Lily said out of the blue.

“She is. You would love her.” 

“Feels like I already do … Did you guys date while-“

“No. . Caroline and I are best friends. . nothing more. .” he cut her off, swallowing.

“Is she not your type? I mean, she seems very different from Rebekah” 

“No .. uh. . I’m not her type” he looked up to see his mother raise her eyebrows questioning that statement.

“She’s all sunshine and rainbows… and I’m . . me”

“hmmmmm” His mother said reaching for the fridge.

“Besides she’s seeing someone else so…” He added. 

“So are you, technically”


“Hey I gotta take this” he informed his step-dad as he grabbed his phone and exited the bar.

“Hey” He answered her call.

“Busy?” She asked.

“Nope”, he lied.

“Watcha doing?”

“Nothing” He knew she wouldn’t talk if he mentioned that he was catching the game with his step-dad. “When is Bonnie getting there?”

“She’s on her way.”

“So what plans for your birthday tomorrow?” He asked.

“Girls night”  She said

“Sounds fun”


“Something on your mind?” he asked her pointedly.

“No why?” her voice sounded a little high pitched, like she was hiding something. 

“Feels like it”

“Nope. .  .just normal stuff. . school . . work . . friends” She rambled a little.


“Yeah him too.”

“Caroline“ He called out to her lovingly, beckoning her to speak her mind. He heard her sigh.

“Stefan I-“ Bonnie barging in cut her short.

“I gotta go” She informed Stefan. 

“Yeah I’ll catch you later, have fun” he said sighing.

“You too !! bye !”

He ended the call and thought about what could possibly be going on with her. More than just worry gripping him. His mother’s words echoed in his head about his relationship status. “So are you, technically”.  Yeah he was in a relationship but that didn’t stop him from feeling the way he did about Caroline. Give it a shot. . a real shot . . Caroline had told him. Well he was giving it a shot. Both Chicago and Rebekah. He had to admit Chicago wasn’t so bad ever since he moved in with his mother. But Rebekah was a whole other story. Maybe he’ll feel more for her with time. Or maybe he was just wasting his energy in this foolish pursuit to regain control of his heart. Maybe what he needed was for his mind to accept the dictates of his heart rather than for it to silence his heart. Or maybe his brain has it right and Caroline and him wouldn’t work in his world. But what if they could?

He put it all out of his mind and went back to sit beside his stepfather.

“Caroline?” His stepfather asked not taking his eyes off the game. 

“How’d you guess”

“She’s the only one you drop everything for” David said smiling slightly.

“I didn’t mean to be rude” He clarified. 

“You weren’t being rude. She’s important to you.”

“She is” he asked the bartender for a refill.

“Can I ask you something?” he spoke turning to his step-dad.


“Why did you decide to pursue something with my mother? I mean she was married, with a kid. . it was complicated. . and I don’t mean to say you were wrong for doing so. . I’m just. . curious. .” he asked hesitantly. 

“I’d be lying if I said it was an easy decision to come to. . . she had a family . . I would be breaking up a kid’s home. .  we were from different worlds. Hell it didn’t get easier when we got together either, with your dad refusing joint-custody. . .”

“but ?”

“But I knew I wouldn’t be as happy or as content with anyone else . . I just couldn’t let her go” David said looking right at Stefan.


“Did you sign the papers yet?” Damon asked while they had lunch. 


“Why not? It’s a good house, it’s not going to stay on the market forever. You need to close the deal bro”

“Yeah it’s a nice house” Stefan admitted.


“But nothing . . it’s a nice house” Stefan said going back to his sandwich.

“So how’s Caroline?” Damon asked changing the topic.

“I donno..”

“That’s new.” Damon retorted.

“I haven’t heard from her in two days” Stefan said feeling glum.

 “Are you seeing Rebekah today?” 

“Tomorrow. . dinner”

“Exciting!” Damon commented sarcastically to his lack of enthusiasm.

 “How are things with you and Elena?” he asked.

“Great. Couldn’t be happier” 

“So it was worth the risk?” Stefan asked.

“What risk?”

“It was worth the risk of me never speaking to you?” Stefan asked getting straight to the point.

“Yeah . . I guess it was… I thought we were past this-“ Damon said cautiously.

“We are. . don’t worry about it. I’m happy for you.”


“Mom” he called out to Lily who was in the kitchen making breakfast. “Have you heard from Kristelle recently?”

“Recently as in?”

“As in, in the past couple of days?” He asked.

“No .. last I heard of her was from Lydia, something about your friend Caroline’s birthday?”

“Aunt Lydia hasn’t spoken to her since then? Cause her birthday was 5 days ago”

“I don’t know. Why?”


“Doesn’t sound like nothing”

“I haven’t heard from Caroline in three days and Kristelle isn’t picking up my calls and I can’t reach Irene and I don’t have anyone else’s phone number” he rambled.

“I can call Lydia and ask if you want.” His mother offered with a slight smile playing on her lips. 

“Well … only if you want to. .  if it’s not too much trouble. .” He said scratching his the back of his head awkwardly. 

“It’s not too much trouble to call my sister Stefan”

He smiled at her. “Do you want me to take over for you?” he asked pointing at the eggs. “Sure” She said stepping aside and grabbing the plates for the family.   

“You know, the work you do here in the Chicago office, can be done in New York just as easily” his mom said smiling and setting the little dinning table in the kitchen where they ate their meals.


“I’m just saying” she said putting her hands up in surrender.

 … . .

 “Here we are” He said parking his car in front of her house.

“It’s not too late, come in for a coffee maybe?” Rebekah offered politely.

“Yeah coffee sounds good” he said switching off the ignition. He still hadn’t heard from Caroline. Tomorrow would be day four without any word from her and he was losing his mind. He didn’t have the will to come up with an excuse to not have coffee.

He entered the house. It looked a lot like his fathers in spirit, but colder. The furniture was all white and the walls held paintings of contemporary artists.

“So dinner was fun” She said heading to the kitchen.

“Yeah” he said not wanting to be rude. This was getting ridiculous, Caroline should have texted at least by now. She can’t just disappear. If her phone was switched on he could have tracked it, but it was off. He felt like a stalker. Damon was right, he was obsessed. Did his love for her steam out of his unhealthy obsession or was his obsession a direct result of him so vehemently trying to move on from her. 

He took a seat on the couch and waited for Rebekah to return. He tried Kristelle again. No answer.

He didn’t notice Rebekah coming back with coffee. He didn’t realize she was sitting on the couch with him.

“You know. .  you could stay. .if you’d like” he heard her sultry voice. It brought him back to his current reality.

“Uh . .why would I-“ He stopped short as he saw her move towards him. This was suddenly getting too real for him.

“Rebekah-“ he started to be cut off by her pressing her lips against his. She pulled away and looked at him with confusion.

“Yeah this is not happening” He said awkwardly. She looked down between his legs “oh .. well they have treatment for that you know” She said sympathetically. 

“What? NO ! That . . that is not the problem.  . . everything works just fine there” he rambled getting up and going completely red. 

“Okay so… what then?”

He sighed and ran his hand down his face.

“Do you really think we are good for each other?” he asked sitting back down.

“Well yeah… I mean. . why wouldn’t we be?”

“If you strip away my last name, would you feel the same way?” He asked her gently.

Rebekah frowned “Wait, what are you doing?” She asked.

“Chasing a feeling. .” he mumbled softly gazing absent-mindedly at the painting behind her. 

“I didn’t catch that.” Rebekah informed him.

“Look, I don’t want to be in a relationship simply because it makes sense, I want to be with someone who I just can’t possibly imagine being without” he rambled.

“Uh..” Rebekah wasn’t sure what to make of that looked like.

“I just. .” he paused. How could he possibly explain all that he was feeling to someone who had obviously felt nothing close to it before? It was like explaining taste to one born without taste buds !

“Have you watched the movie Wizard of Oz?” he said finally.

“Yeah. . but what does that-“ Rebekah started completely baffled. 

“When the movie starts it’s all in black and white. Which is fine, I mean, you can still see people and scenery and hear what their saying.  Gets the job done right?” 

“Right” She nodded.

“But then the protagonist goes to Oz and then suddenly, without warning screen is just overrun with color. And it’s overwhelming at first. Its bright and there are all these colors and you’re not sure if you prefer the colors over the black and white for a second, cause the black and white is safe and familiar and there’s just so much color. . But then, your eyes adjust, and you fall in love with the greens and the blues and you never wanna see things in black and white again”

“I’m still confused as to what this has got to do with us” Rebekah informed him. 

“Rebekah, you and I are black and white people. Living what we believe are sensible lives in a world where nothing really matters apart from business and family, and most of the time, the lines between the two are blurred.“ He paused for it to sink in before he continued. 

“Being with Caroline, was like… seeing color for the first time. It was overwhelming, I didn’t know what to make of it and I chose the familiar path. I chose wrong. I don’t wanna be on the safe route anymore, not if it means I’ll never be with her.”

He took her arm gently, “You need to find that person who makes you see color for the first time, and hold on to him. Don’t settle for anything less”

With that he got up and left.


“Hey what’s the emergency? Did you move back to your dad’s” Damon yelled as he entered the front door. 

“Come up to my room” Stefan yelled back.

“You still haven’t unpacked? Hold on I’m not-“

“Shut up and listen. You need to ship all these boxes back to New York.” Stefan spoke with urgency.


“Yoouu neeed toooo shhiippp aalll -”

“I heard that. . what I meant was, WHHYYYY” Damon yelled.

“Cause I’m moving back” Stefan declared.

“Your moving . . Does this have anything to do with you breaking up with Rebekah?” Damon asked him. 

“You heard about that?” 

“Yeah “

“Well if you must know, I am going back for Caroline” Stefan said.

 “That’s healthy” He remarked sarcastically.

“Remember when you carried on with my girl friend behind my back for six months?” Stefan sniped at him.

“What’s that-”

“Sometimes people do things others might consider unhealthy or illogical for love. So I need you to support me here.” He said looking right at Damon.

“So this is not just a best friend thing?”

“No not just a best friend thing…I’m in love with Caroline” He confessed. Felt good to say it out loud, even if it was just to Damon. 

“Since when?”

“I don’t know. . since. . forever?”

“Okay. . okay . . but what makes you think . . I mean. . what changed? The last time I spoke to you, you were going to buy a house and -”

“What if I’m enough?” Stefan cut Damon off. He sat on the bed and looked down. “Elena said she wanted more and I couldn’t give her more. What she needed was you.” He looked up to him, “But what if, I am enough for Caroline?”

“What about the boy friend?”

“I don’t think she should be with him.” Stefan said shrugging.

“But she is. ” 

“Damon, I know I can make her happy.”

“You know?”

“Yes. . Because I’m nuts not Nick” he said in a matter-of-fact tone.

“Couldn’t agree with you more” Damon said sarcastically.

“No I mean, I’m the nuts in her banana bread, I make everything better. ME, not Nick. She belongs with me.” Stefan said decisively.

Damon stared at him incredulously for a minute. “Fine. . Good Luck!” He said patting Stefan on the back and turning to head out.

“Where are you going?” Stefan asked.


“No you have to drive me to the airport” Stefan told him.

“Now? You’re going NOW” Damon asked.


“Okay. . This is happening.” Damon said still sounding like his coffee hadn’t kicked in.

They headed down the stairs to be greeted by Stefan’s very disapproving father.

“I though we talked about this Stefan.” His father said.

“We did and I told you I will continue doing the work I’m doing in New York. No harm no foul” he shrugged.

 “ And I told you I need you here in Chicago”

“Well I’m sorry, but I have to go” 

“I’ve had enough of this Stefan. First it was the drugs then the murder and then it was you refusing to go to work in New York, when you came back, you behaved as if you were never brought up in a business family and now THIS?” His father looked furious.

“I know it feels like I’m just all over the place. But I can’t stay. I have a flight to catch. I’ll call you from New York dad and we can talk”

“You step out that door and you’re cut off.” His father said grimly.

“Okay” Stefan said and hugged his dad. “I love you dad. But if I let you stop me now, I’ll resent you for the rest of my life”

Both Damon and Stefan walked out, bags in hand.

“So you’re really going to do this?” Damon asked as he drove.


“I’ll talk to your dad” Damon said

“Thanks” he was beginning to get nervous.

“You still haven’t heard from her?”

“Nope.” He felt like a bundle of raw nerves.

“What are you going to say to her?” 

“I have no idea” he admitted gulping.

“I see this is a very well thought out plan” Damon mocked.

“Shut up and drive”

“Maybe you should just. . kiss her?” Damon suggested.

“You think?” Stefan asked considering the advice seriously.

“Yeah . . I mean…Why not?” Damon shrugged

Stefan’s phone rang just then and he scrambled to answer it. It was his mother.

“Hey mom, I’m on my way-“

“Stefan, honey. . I spoke to your Aunt Lydia”

“okay. . and?”

“Caroline. .” She didn’t finish her sentence. She sounded somber.

“Is Caroline okay?” He asked anxiously.