Author: Lila2 PM
Klaus takes Caroline on a trip, but he's the one to see the world.Rated: Fiction T - English - Angst - Caroline F. & Klaus - Chapters: 7 - Words: 31,512 - Reviews: 341 - Favs: 345 - Follows: 430 - Updated: 11-05-12 - Published: 02-19-12 - id: 7853693
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Title: "Paradise Circus"
Character/Pairing: Caroline, Klaus
Spoiler: "All My Children"
Length: Part IVc of VI
Summary: Klaus takes Caroline on a trip, but he's the one to see the world.
Disclaimer: Not mine, just borrowing them for a few paragraphs.
Author's Note: More fic, more apologies for the delay in updates. At this point, it looks like Part IV is going to be five sub-sections. This part just won't end! Title courtesy of Massive Attack. Enjoy.
Klaus makes up in spades for Magdalena.
There are no designer jewels or couture clothes, although he does compel a curator into letting her try on the Holy Crown of Hungary. Instead there's a moonlit cruise on the Danube and a gastro tour of Central Market Hall, but her favorite is a walk around Margaret Island right at sunset.
It's different than Venice or Berlin or any sunset she's seen before. Klaus stands at the water's edge, the sun bringing out the gold in his hair, painting his skin with a warm glow. In the fading light he looks young and beautiful, like he's a normal man and not an Original over two thousand years old.
"It's so gorgeous," she whispers, rests her head on his shoulder. He slips an arm around her waist and pulls her close.
"Rebekah and I had a party here."
"The monarchy was fighting with the Hapsburgs." She can't see his face but she knows he's smiling. "No one was paying attention to the younger set."
"Tell me about it."
His hand slips from her waist. "It wasn't your kind of party."
She pauses, absorbs the meaning in his words: murder, mayhem, massacre. Even if it's not a part of his present, there's no denying how it shaped his past. She takes his hand, puts it back in place. "Tell me about it."
"We were starving. There had just been an outbreak of cholera and it decimated the countryside. We came here where the pickings were ripe."
"Well, it would have been post-Industrial Revolution. Most of the population lived in the cities."
He laughs, gives her waist a squeeze. "Look who knows her history."
She sends a mental "fuck you" to Magdalena and laughs with him. "So why here? Why not Berlin or Prague?"
He takes his free hand and points at a sturdy family of blonde tourists taking photos. "Germans, they're hearty." He points to a pair of skinny dark-haired girls eating ice cream. "Italians are a mixed bag." He rolls his eyes at a group of college students drinking on the riverbank. "Americans...McDonald's has ruined the world."
"What does that have to do with your party?"
Klaus keeps his eyes fixed on the Americans. "It's harder to understand now, but back then your diet determined your worth. Rebekah invited every noble family in the city. They had the meat, the fresh vegetables…it was a feast to remember."
Caroline digests what he's saying. She's only fed from blood bags, sterile, filtered food that's more about nourishment and less about enjoyment. She never knew there was more to it. "You can taste the difference?" she asks.
He turns, pulls her to him. "Oh, yes. Perhaps one day, you'll understand."
She shakes her head. "It's not for me."
"Never say never," he whispers against her hair.
She curls against his chest, watches the final rays of light sink into the Danube. She's not ready to open that door.
They run out of blood bags by week's end.
Caroline tries to hold out, but she almost loses it during a private tour of Parliament. The rooms are cavernous and nearly empty and she can hear every thumping pulse, every raspy breath bang through the room. It hurts her ears and makes her eyes sting and it takes every lesson Stefan ever taught her to keep from throwing a tween from Minnesota against a column and draining her dry. Klaus holds her hand, rubs his thumb over its back but it's not enough to stop her from twitching like a tweaking meth addict.
She buys a cup of coffee in the museum café, finds a quiet table and wills her hands to stop shaking long enough to get the caffeine into her system. A chair scrapes across the floor and she winces, even as Klaus pushes a metal water bottle across the table.
She stares at the bottle for a long time, tries to get her coffee mug to her lips but it only rattles against the saucer. "No."
"You need to take care of yourself."
She tries hard not to cry, even as she can feel the veins pressing against her cheeks. "I don't kill people," she insists.
He smiles and unscrews the lid. "No one died in procuring this meal." He glances around the room. People are staring at her. "If you don't, there's only so much I can do."
There really is no choice so she sighs heavily and tips the bottle to her lips. The blood is rich and smooth, flavored slightly with something citrus. Half the bottle is gone before she remembers where she is, where it came from, but it's too late.
It feels good all the way down.
It happens again the next morning.
Caroline still hasn't had time for a hospital visit and she wakes to a teacup of blood on the bedside table.
"Klaus…" she starts but he only smiles and raises his own cup.
"Good morning," he says and opens the paper.
She tries to resist but it smells too good, a whiff of cinnamon this time, and she tells herself she's only going to take one sip.
The cup is empty when she slips into Klaus's lap to catch up on the morning news.
Caroline raids a clinic on the way out of town.
When they pull into Poland, the blood bags are still untouched.
She promises herself that things will be different in Warsaw.
Klaus checks into the hotel; she can't stop staring at the pulse thrumming in the concierge's throat.
It goes to hell within the week.
They wander down the Royal Route, backtrack to Stare Miasto and the Barbican, tour St. John's Cathedral and nibble on obwarzanki in the Market Square.
Each sight is more lovely than the next, all cobblestone streeets and baroque architecture. Caroline is particularly excited when she can recognize the style on her own.
"I think that deserves high marks," Klaus says as she correctly identifies the gothic-structure of a former burgher house. He looks impressed and Caroline feels something soft and warm settle in her chest. She likes showing him how much he's taught her.
"I had a good teacher," Caroline responds, pushes her sunglasses further up her nose and peers up at ancient city walls closing in around them. She takes a step closer to Klaus; the barriers might have been invisible, but Mystic Falls was just as much a cage.
They wander through the rest of the square and Klaus points out different buildings, tells her what they were like when there were still kings of Poland, explains the slight differences in how they appear now. Over 80% of the city was destroyed during World War II, but carefully rebuilt in the 1950s. It might look old, but Caroline can't help feeling like it's trying too hard. She remembers dying in a hospital bed at the hands of a girl wearing her best friend's face.
No matter how close the similarity, there's no recreating the past.
Klaus notices when they're getting ready for dinner. She's waffling between a red dress and a blue, simple cotton sundresses she bought on a whim at an H&M, but it's not the wardrobe crisis that's holding her back. She doesn't like this city or the history it tries to hide.
"What's wrong?" he asks as he zips up the red dress.
"Nothing," she says, slips her feet into the handcrafted wedges they bought in Rome. Klaus's hands tighten around her shoulders and she turns, has to face him. "I don't like it here," she confesses. There's no point in hiding the truth; she already knows he can see through her.
"Warsaw is a lovely city. Moreso since the war."
She shakes her head. "That's just it. Nothing about this place is real."
"It was once."
"But not anymore, and when you talk about it…it's what you remember, not what's here. I like your stories, but I need to be part of them."
His hands slide to her waist and pull her closer. "You are. The next time I'm here, all my stories will be about the time I showed a beautiful girl the world."
He lets her go and finishes dressing, but she can't shake the feeling that something is wrong. He talks about coming back to Warsaw in the future; he doesn't say it will be with her.
Dinner is a quiet affair. Caroline isn't hungry and even less interested in going through the motions of eating her pierogis. She pushes them across her plate, keeps her eyes downcast so she can avoid Klaus staring at her over his vodka.
"I'm sorry," he finally says, reaches across the table to rest his hand over hers. "We'll leave tomorrow. I think you'll find Krakow more to your liking."
She sighs, realizes how immature she's acting. Klaus has taken her all over Europe, paid for fancy hotels and fancier clothes, meals and museum entry fees and gondola rides and train tickets and beautiful jewelry and everything she could ever want. He deserves more than for her to sulk and pout because he inadvertently screwed up.
"No, it's fine," she says, forces a smile. "I'm sorry I've been such a pain."
He leans back in his chair, studies her face. "Everyone makes mistakes."
Caroline can feel the layers of meaning in his words, the threats he's made and the people he's hurt, the decency lurking under the surface. She feels a smile bloom; some of the change is because of her. He starts to smile as well but it quickly disappears as booted footsteps approach their table. Caroline feels her own smile fall; she can't take another confrontation with an ex.
"Hello, brother." The voice is silky and smooth and she only met him for half a minute, but Caroline recognizes Kol Mikaelson's voice immediately.
Klaus rises and throws his arms around his brother, wraps him in a tight hug. Kol hesitates a moment before accepting the embrace. Caroline watches the rigid line of his back; he's waiting for his brother to stick a dagger in it.
"It's good to see you," Klaus says, genuine happiness reflected on his face. Caroline watches, unsure how to react; the bonds of family have never been something she's understood.
Kol slips into the empty chair at his brother's side, takes a sip of Klaus's vodka. "Ms. Forbes."
"Hi, Kol," she says. He's still making her nervous, but she's not without manners. "What have you been up to?"
He stretches back in his seat. "A little bit of this, a little bit of that. There was this ballerina in Moscow…the things she could with that body..."
Caroline is unnerved by the smile that breaks out across Klaus's face. "And will never do again." She can accept what he is, but that ballerina was a person too.
"Have you enjoyed your trip?" Kol's question is perfectly reasonable, but the way he's looking at her makes her skin crawl. Klaus is the only person who can undress her with his eyes.
"It's been lovely," she says. "I thought nothing could top Rome, but Klaus keeps surprising me." She smiles at Klaus, relieved when she recognizes the way he smiles back.
Kol stares at his brother. "Nik is a master of surprises."
Klaus's jaw tightens and he signals for the waiter. "We have an early morning train," he says as he signs the bill. "We should be going."
"I was going to have a nightcap," Kol says in response but his eyes are on Caroline. "I always sleep better when I'm well fed." She freezes as she slips on her jacket, understands every word he's not saying. He's faster, stronger, better…blood bags are an acceptable alternative, but they're not the same as a beating, pounding pulse.
"Not for us," Klaus says, brushes his fingers over the small of her back.
The laughter dies in Kol's eyes. "Two thousand years," he says with disgust. "Two thousand years and you risk your existence for some girl."
Klaus growls, he actually growls, but Caroline is the one to feel the full impact of the blow. She only thought about the sacrifices she made for Klaus; she never even considered that he made any for her. She feels safe with him but she wonders if he feels the same way. It's not what she wants to do, goes against everything she's made herself stand for, but there's no other choice. This is the one thing she can't take from him. She forces a smile, straightens her back. "We'd love to."
Kol looks nothing less than triumphant. "I'll be outside."
Klaus turns to her. "You don't have to do this," he says. "Ignore Kol. Let's go home and have a bath."
She cups his face in her hands. This isn't about Kol and he needs to understand that. "Do you remember what you said to me in Rome?"
"I said many things in Rome."
"It was at breakfast. Rather than pay the bill, you told me to compel the waitress. I refused."
He pulls away, lets his annoyance show. "That was months ago."
"But you're still right. You've survived this long because you know how to play the game. "
"It's the 21st Century. There are hospitals, clinics…you can make that choice, Caroline."
"But you didn't," she says softly. "And it's made all the difference."
He leans in and cups her face in his hands, peers deeply into her eyes. "You don't have to change for me."
She smiles at him, nervous, but confident in her decision. "Sometimes change is good."
He's giving her another out, but she doesn't take it. She's almost certain that she never will. "You'll stay with me, right?"
"Every step of the way."
She pulls out of his grasp and takes his hand, clasps his fingers so tight that they should be ash, would be dust if she and him were anything but exactly what they are. "Let's go."
She's about to take the biggest risk of her life but she's never felt safer.
Caroline doesn't want to admit it, but she enjoys the hunt far more than she thinks she should.
They could take the easy way out, grab an unsuspecting victim behind a nightclub, but there's no fun in that. They have keen eyes and ears, superstrength and magnified healing for a reason; it's time they put those talents to good use.
Instead they take up residence at the bar in a rundown warehouse in Praga. It's not unlike the place Klaus took her to in Stockholm, except all the patrons are human.
Caroline feels like an idiot in her cotton dress and sandals, but she catches the flash of red in Klaus's eyes and remembers what she is: better, smarter, stronger. All these people are hers for the taking.
Both Mikaelsons choose brunettes, but she opts for a tall, lanky blond with those high, Slavic cheekbones she envies. He's beautiful, almost as beautiful as Klaus, and he doesn't protest much when she takes his hand and tugs him towards the ladies' room. Klaus is already there, blood dripping from the corners of his mouth as his chest heaves. His eyes are a deep crimson and the expression on his face makes her cheeks burn; she's never seen him enjoy something so thoroughly.
She's relieved to see that the girl isn't dead – shaky and pale – but her heartbeat echoes weakly through the bathroom. Klaus crouches down and looks deeply into her eyes. "Go home and kiss your mother goodnight." He dribbles a few drops of blood in her mouth and some of the color comes back to her cheeks as she slips out of the room.
Behind her, Caroline's new friend gasps loudly, struggles against her, but she's faster and stronger and has him pushed against the closed door before he can yell. "Shhh," she croons. "You're fine."
His eyes widen and then the light goes out. He smiles broadly. "I'm fine."
Klaus comes up behind her. "There are several veins to choose from, but the jugular is the least messy." He points to a spot on the boy's neck. "Bite here." He smiles when she hesitates. "I'll hold your hair."
His fingers tangle in her hair as she sinks her fangs deep, rich, warm blood filling her mouth. The veins flare in her cheeks and she wants to close her eyes, lose herself in the feel and taste of it, but Klaus whispers in her ear, "Listen to his pulse. Keep it strong and steady." He takes her hand, presses it to the column of his throat.
She pushes through the haze, focuses on the thin rhythm beating beneath her fingers. "Easy, easy," Klaus says, pulls the boy away and lets him crumple into a pile on the floor. "No need to go all the way the first time."
She smiles at the joke, bites into her wrist and lets the boy drink a few drops. "You drank too much," she whispsers in his ear, pushes open the door and watches him stumble out.
She catches her reflection in the mirror, the wild eyes and swollen lips, the trickle of blood on her chin. She looks like she did more than just eat. The bathroom is small and Klaus isn't large, but he's bigger than her. It feels like he's taking up all the space, especially when he leans in and licks the blood from her skin. "How do you feel?" he asks.
"Like I could run the world," she says, breathless even without breath, especially when his mouth trails down the column of her throat. She doesn't recognize the girl staring back at her. Her back is a little straighter and her shoulders a little stronger, but it's the look in her eyes that shakes her to the core: they're the same bright blue but they're hard and piercing, predator's eyes in a cheerleader's face.
"You did well," Klaus says as he pulls back, wipes the remaining blood from her cheek with his thumb. "Next time will be even easier."
Caroline watches him slip his thumb into his mouth and hers waters. No matter how much she wants it, this experiment needs to end here.
Kol is gone when they vacate the bathroom, but there's a bottle of champagne waiting for them at the hotel.
Klaus pops the cork and Caroline laughs as a stream of champagne drenches the carpet. They don't bother with glasses and drink from the bottle, passing it back and forth in easy silence. ""You passed his test," Klaus finally says and Caroline's fingers tighten around the cool glass.
"What do you mean?"
Klaus takes the bottle, leans in and presses a soft kiss to her mouth. He doesn't try for more than a faint brush of his lips over hers but her gasp makes him smile when he pulls away. "You're not afraid of what you are."
She pushes away how the light dimmed in that boy's eyes as she almost drained the life from him, the rush that flowed through her from the power it gave her. She ignores how it makes her what she hates most. She ignores everything but the feel of Klaus's mouth against hers.
Nothing scares her more than the way he makes her lose control.
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