Notes: This one was written for the Klaroline Arbor Day event. It was supposed to be just forest smut but a teeny hint of plot crept in.

Short Shallow Gasps

(Prompt: "she can make plants erupt from the ground and do her bidding." Title from "All This And Heaven Too" by Florence + The Machine. SMUT)

The tiny huff of breath Klaus lets out – not quite annoyed but definitely impatient – is the final straw.

As they'd trekked through the bayou Caroline had pointedly ignored his questions. What was her plan, he wanted to know, how long did she think it would take etc. etc. Eventually, Klaus had gotten the hint and fallen silent. And it wasn't even that she didn't want to answer, it was that she really couldn't and she hated to admit it. Caroline was still figuring out her freaky mutant powers, just what she could do, and they seemed to grow by leaps and bounds. It's not like the crazies at Whitmore who'd experimented on her had provided a manual so she relied on instinct and a whole lot of trial and error. Once they'd arrived at a suitable location - enough space, decent tree cover – he'd taken to pacing.

A pointed glare had nipped that in the bud.

She'd thought she could finally concentrate but nope. Did Klaus think that standing barefoot in the center of a clearing trying to coax life into being was her idea of a good time? She'd had big plans with Netflix and a batch of peanut butter cookies when he'd knocked on her door with what he'd termed an emergency.

Which it totally wasn't but by the time she'd gotten the details they were already in the car and outside the city limits.

Caroline whirls, flips her hair out of her face, and stomps the few paces to where Klaus is leaning against a tree. His brows lift in interest as he surveys her but he doesn't flinch away from her temper. "Is there a problem, love?"

She stops when they're toe to toe, crossing her arms defiantly. "Yes, there is a problem. I am attempting to regrow a flower that has been extinct for fifty years. It's not native to Louisiana, and oh yeah, I only have like three measly dried petals to work with. Do you seriously think that's easy?"

He opens his mouth to reply but Caroline shakes her head, shifting forward and invading his space. It's a classic-Klaus move, one she'd been on the receiving end of way too many times. She's stopped finding it intimidating and Klaus doesn't flinch away from her attempt either, his lips curling in indulgent amusement. "Newsflash: it's not."

"I have the utmost faith in your abilities," Klaus tells her. She narrows her eyes, searches for evidence that he's patronizing her, but Klaus' expression shows nothing but sincerity.

Maybe he actually meant it.

They'd met because of Caroline's abilities, the predicament she'd found herself in when they'd been foisted upon her. Two years ago as a student at Whitmore College she'd been blissfully unaware of the unsavory activities that went on behind the scenes. Secret societies, experimentation on living subjects, the supernatural – the campus was a cesspool of dark and dangerous things. Caroline had been unwittingly sucked into the pit, had left it forever altered.

All because of a creep whose daddy was an Augustine bigwig. He'd objected to Caroline repeatedly kicking his ass in organic chemistry, had sought revenge, and tried to break her.

He'd failed.

She'd ended up in a cell, cold and hungry and confused. She'd yelled for help, had been so relieved when said creep, a classmate she'd recognized, had wandered up to the bars. Until he'd smiled, cold and eager, and told her that he had great plans for her, that she was sure she'd be so much less annoying when they were through with her.

Caroline had endured injections and pain and his endless speechifying. She'd screamed, cried, begged until her throat was raw. It hadn't helped, no mercy was ever shown and no rescue came.

With no other options she'd begun to plan. Forced herself to focus on what her captors were saying, learned that they thought her too stupid and too far gone to save herself.

Oh, that had been a mistake.

An idea had formed but she'd needed a little help, some extra muscle – that's where Klaus had come in. The Augustine nutjobs hadn't been shy about mentioning his name, their plans for him and his family. Namely the deaths of all The Originals and the extinction of vampire kind. Caroline had decided that Klaus sounded like the ideal ally.

Once the evil scientist types were finished with her, her body different and no longer just human, they'd put her to work. Simple things at first – saving wilting bonsai trees, growing daisies from seeds to blooms, bending branches and vines to her will. She'd done what they asked, feigned meekness. Then they'd told her she was ready for a bigger task.

White oak.

A whole new world had been opened up to Caroline – vampires, werewolves, witches. She learned of battles that had waged for centuries between species she'd been sure were nothing more than fairy tales. She'd have been terrified if not for all that she'd already endured at the hands of the worst kind of humans. No matter what they said about The Originals, spoke of how vile and bloodthirsty and cruel they were, Caroline had been willing to take her chances if it meant getting out of her cage.

Causing a minor cave in had been simple. The buildings the Augustine Society inhabited were old, surrounded by trees with deep, strong roots. Controlling them, and allowing her friendly cell neighbor (and vampire) Enzo to escape through a crack she ripped into the foundation, and speed away (with strict instructions to find Klaus and inform him of the plotting against him that was happening), had been trickier. She'd been immensely drained afterwards but it had ultimately been worth it.

Klaus had shown up, more quickly than Caroline had dared hope. He'd ripped the doors open and immediately gotten bloody, crushing bones and tearing out vital organs. His displeasure with the activities The Augustine Society had been busy with was made abundantly clear.

No one in the building had survived.

Except Caroline. Because she'd made a bargain.

The terms of which were now complete – she'd tracked down each and every white oak sapling that the Augustine Society had forced her to grow. She'd been leery, had held her breath as the last one had burned, afraid that Klaus would turn on her and she'd never leave that forest in Romania. That he'd just been toying with her all along, that he hadn't really been interested in her opinions and ambitions. She'd held herself rigidly, her heart racing, and there's no way he could have missed her anxiety.

Klaus hadn't commented, hadn't even tossed out one of the quips he thought oh so clever. He'd merely placed his palm on her back to usher her away, told her he had an excellent bottle of champagne waiting on ice for them in the plane. Only appropriate for a celebration, he'd murmured.

Caroline had gradually relaxed as they'd shared it. Klaus' taste was impeccable, though she'd never tell him so. By the time they'd been in the air, headed back to New Orleans, he'd even coaxed a few smiles from her.

These days no one makes her feel safer.

As per their initial agreement she'd been free to leave the city, and Klaus' reach, once the white oak was all destroyed. However, for about a million reasons Caroline's done her damndest to shove into a tiny box in the back of her mind, she finds herself unwilling to go.

It's not like she's sitting around waiting for Klaus' to throw her a bone. She had a tidy little business going, sold rare plants to human gardeners and supernatural types alike. She's been having a great time exploring New Orleans, has enrolled in college again, made some friends. She's living and she's happy.

So what if she wakes up tangled in her sheets, sweaty and sensitive and panting Klaus' name more often than not? He was hot and she wasn't blind. Klaus had an uncanny knack for showing up whenever she was considering doing more than just idle flirting and it had led to a lengthy dry spell. He'd waltz in and glare and snarl until any potential companions slowly backed away, terror painted on their faces.

She really needed to get him to stop doing that.

It's her own fault that she keeps getting roped into pitching in with Klaus' problems, Caroline will admit. Something about the dimples, a particularly wheedling tone he used, got her every time.

She lifts a hand, jabs her finger into his shoulder. He doesn't budge. And her finger kind of hurts, damn him. Inhaling deeply she musters her hardest tone and attempts to drive her point into his thick, hybrid skull, "Lurking and sighing and breathing down my neck is not helpful."

He shifts, unconcerned, settling back against the tree once more. His eyes roam over her, a touch of heat darkening his blue eyes. It's a look he's been giving her more and more and Caroline's not enough of a liar to pretend as if she's not affected by it. "Surely you understand why I'm here?"

She doesn't retreat, lifts her chin to meet his gaze squarely. "Because you don't trust me, duh. Which is fair, admittedly, since I was technically blackmailing you for a while there and you're a super paranoid nutball. But why do you have to be here? Don't you have a minion you can sic on me? Someone who'll be quiet?"

"And here I thought you weren't fond of your protection detail."

An understatement. Klaus hadn't informed her of the assigned hybrid body guards. She'd seethed once she'd figured out that the silent, intimidating shadows she'd picked up had been courtesy of Klaus. He'd not flinched when confronted initially, pointing out that they had a bargain and that he was merely ensuring she was doing her part to fulfill it.

Relations had been frosty between them for weeks afterwards, Caroline doing her best to communicate only via text, and only when absolutely necessary.

Klaus hadn't liked that, had sought her out around town, only to leave each interaction surly and frustrated by her monosyllabic responses and refusal to make eye contact.

She'd been super impressed with her ability to freeze him out even when he goaded her.

Klaus was used to getting his way but Caroline was stubborn. Coming to a compromise had been a battle, hard fought and encouraged by the people closest to them (who'd taken to threatening murder and/or temporary excommunication). She wasn't an idiot, she got that a shady organization like The Augustine Society might have hidden branches who'd want to recover Caroline as an asset. She knew Klaus had spent centuries acquiring enemies and she had no desire to be cannon fodder. It wasn't the bodyguards she'd objected to, it was the sneakiness and the fact that they were a little too present.

Seriously, having them lurk outside the lady's room was awkward.

At the time she'd gotten the feeling that concessions were a rare thing for Klaus. She's even surer of that now.

Still, he's managed to bend, for her, on more than one matter. The bodyguards stayed, but she got to pick them, set some boundaries so she had private spaces. Additionally, Caroline was well aware that Enzo's heart remained in his chest cavity largely because she wished it. Klaus endured his fascination with Rebekah (who quite liked the attention) solely because Enzo was Caroline's friend.

He was far from gracious about it, not shy about tossing threats - ones that were both imaginative and promising of endless agony. They were empty, however. Klaus, who'd never hesitated to eliminate enemies or annoyances, fought back his violent impulses all in an effort to make Caroline happy.

That was a big part of the reason Caroline had decided to put down roots in New Orleans.

"They've grown on me. They, at least, aren't distracting."

She recognizes her mistake immediately. Klaus looks far too pleased with himself, he practically preens.

"My, I had no idea you felt that way," he drawls, reaching out to tuck a curl behind her ear.

She grits her teeth together, as his touch lingers, delicately tracing the shell of her ear. Caroline forces herself to slowly counts to ten in an attempt to gather her frayed patience. "Don't flatter yourself. I just meant that you're not exactly great at the whole silent observer thing. And it's annoying. You must have better things to do."

"Perhaps I just enjoy your company."

Her snort is immediate and incredulous. "Oh please, use those lines on someone who's not gonna charge you for services rendered."

He doesn't react to her taunt like she'd expected. Klaus' head tips to the side, eyes growing sharp and intent, "Why is it that you're so reluctant to acknowledge that I enjoy you, Caroline?"

Again, not what she'd expected.

Caroline blinks, can't help fidgeting and yielding some space. Klaus follows her, pushing off the tree with a lithe movement that shouldn't be so compelling. She swallows hard and offers him a grin, preparing to lighten the mood with a joke. It dies in her throat when Klaus cups her chin, his thumb feathering over her lips. She freezes, knows her eyes are round in shock. "You were ever so fascinating," Klaus says softly, "in that cell. Too thin, in threadbare rags, bruised and tired. You didn't cower, or cringe when the blood spilled and bones snapped. You looked triumphant, every inch the conquering queen. When you looked at me, I saw not an ounce of weakness. I know weakness. Can sense it, exploit it. And then you spoke, offered me a rather clever bargain. I found myself impressed."

"Girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do."

His smile is a slow thing, and her pulse kicks up in response. There's genuine fondness in it, warmth mingling with something possessive and wanting that has her fighting a shiver. His fingers slip into her hair, his head dipping as he inhales deeply.

Caroline wants nothing more than to reach out and touch him back, sways into him before she can stop herself.

"Indeed. Still, I was wary. Thought it might be a trap you were in on, that you were pretty, tempting bait."

Caroline bristles, jerks away from him with a snarl, "I would never have worked with them."

Klaus moves faster than she can see, spinning them so she's the one backed against the tree his palm cradling her head and protecting it from impact. "I know," he soothes. "For what they did to you I find myself wishing their deaths hadn't been so easy. I should have made them suffer."

Yeah. Spending all her time around vampires has totally warped her perceptions about romance because that hits her hard.

Caroline surges forward and slants her lips over Klaus' before she can talk herself out of it, grips his shirt and yanks him closer.

Klaus doesn't seem to mind, pressing into her, his hands just as urgent. He tugs on her hair and coaxes her mouth open with a wet glide of his tongue and Caroline moans under the onslaught.

She's thought about this, dreamt of it, but she'd always assumed he'd be smooth, suave and practiced. This is better, his grasping fingers and greedy mouth, as if he's been waiting all this time to learn what she tastes like. Caroline sinks into the tree at her back, widens her legs as Klaus presses between them. Her skirt's a thin barrier and she moans into his mouth when Klaus presses the firm length of his thigh against her. She rolls her hips seeking more pressures Klaus begins to move with her. One of his hands drops, traces idle patterns on her thigh as he pulls his mouth away.

Her eyes flutter shut but only for a moment. "Look at me," Klaus demands, scraping his nails against her skin.

The lick of pain is a shock, a good one, and her mouth falls open around another sound of pleasure even as her eyes drift open.

His are glowing gold, full of hunger and satisfaction, his lips kiss wet and reddened. "I have been very patient," Klaus rasps, once he has her attention. "If you want this, Caroline, be certain. Know what it means."

Does he really expect her to think? Now? With the heat of him flush against her, his cock pressed tight to where she's growing slick and aching with only a few scraps of fabric to dull the sensation? She clears her throat. "Wha…what?"

Klaus smirks, uses his grip on her thigh to hitch her leg higher as he grinds against her deliberately. "If you want me I'm going to begin by taking you against this tree. I won't be able to wait for the comforts of a bed, not with how hard it's been to resist you."

"You've been…"

He hums, leans in to drag his lips across her racing pulse, licking over her heated skin. "Practicing an impressive amount of restraint? Yes. I've been waiting for you to come to me but you're stubborn, sweetheart. Your breath quickens when we quarrel, your skin turns such pretty shades of pink and rose. I can always smell the want on you. Tasting it is even better."

Klaus punctuates that statement with a kiss to her neck, the kind that uses teeth and tongue and leaves marks, and Caroline arches up against him, her fingers clawing at his clothed back in an effort to keep him close.

She's panting when he pulls back and Klaus' eyes remain hungry even as he eases away enough to see her face. "If we do this you'll come home with me when we're done here," he begins, low and gravelly, "and once you're in my bed I'll ensure you'll not want to leave it."

It's hard to process his words when his hands have taken to wandering, smoothing over the length of her thighs, his thumbs tracing the band of her underwear at her hip. All she wants to do is move against him, assuage the pulsing want that's been ramped up by his words with friction, but Klaus has her firmly pinned. He's waiting on her, expression expectant, the desire banked.

Trust Klaus to want to hash out the details now. He wasn't one to play fair when he wanted something.

"I'm human. Well, mostly. In need of things like food and water."

He inclines his head, "I'm well aware of your current state, love. I've no intention of allowing you to waste away on me. Not with all the things I've planned to do to you."

Caroline blinks, makes a mental note to ask him to elaborate later (listening to him speak delicious filth while he moves inside of her might feature frequently in her fantasies). "So, what? You wanna go steady?"

Klaus grimaces slightly in distaste, "Not the phrase I'd choose."

Caroline grins, slips her hands under his shirt. The tensing of the muscles there is both fascinating - she lets her fingers explore, tracing the dips and grooves - and gratifying. "But is that what you want?"

Klaus doesn't hesitate, "I want you. All of you. You thoughts and desires. The practical and the carnal. I want your body hot and slick and wrapped around me. I want your time and not just when I can engineer a need of your skills."

She'd kind of had Klaus pegged as bad at sharing. Not that Caroline had any stones to throw in that department. And she'd totally known he was manufacturing emergencies and dire situations. He was crafty like that.

"I reserve the right to storm off when you piss me off."

"And I reserve the right to use every tool in my arsenal to coax you out of your temper."

Make up sex? Far from the worst thing in the world.

"I don't share either. I'm the only one who gets to touch you." Caroline runs her nails down his abs, hard enough to sting, to emphasize her point.

Klaus' eyes flare, the ring of gold brightening, his grip on her hips tightening. "Another bargain, love? I accept."

They'd sealed the last one with a handshake, though Klaus had lifted her hand to his mouth, run his lips over her knuckles as he'd pinned her with assessing eyes.

It seems as though Klaus has something different in mind to seal this pact.

But he watches her just as intently.

He tears her panties away without preamble, a deep approving rumble spilling out when he slips his fingers into her folds, finds her hot and nearly dripping.

Caroline's embarrassment is fleeting, any self-consciousness at her obvious want gone once Klaus finds her clit. He swirls his thumb around the throbbing nerves, light indirect brushes that send jolts of pleasure coursing through her. She shifts trying to direct the pressure to where she needs it, reaching out with shaking hands to fumble with Klaus' jacket. She wants skin, to make him shudder and clench under her touch. "Off," she demands. "Right now."

He moves quickly, shrugging the offending garment away and stripping his t-shirt. A sharp tug has the straps of her dress snapping and her bra falls away immediately after.

She's pretty sure he'd shredded it but any complaint dies when he pulls her nipple into his mouth. He sucks harshly, scrapes his teeth over the stiff point. Caroline whines low in her throat, running her hands over what she can reach of his skin. They still, gripping tightly, when his hand returns between her thighs, two long fingers pressing into her. She groans, spearing her fingers into his hair and yanking, wanting his mouth on hers.

Klaus crowds her against the tree, the hot line of his torso pressed against her as he devours her. The kiss is messy, needy, more teeth than finesse and Caroline loves every second as she fights to give as good as she's getting. His cock, still trapped behind his jeans, presses insistently against her thigh and Caroline attempts to worm her hand in between them.

Klaus thwarts her, catching her wrist and pinning it above her head. "No," he rasps. "Not yet." His thumb drags over her clit and her thighs twitch, eyes rolling back at the sensation. He squeezes her wrist gently before dropping it. Caroline rests it on his shoulder. "Good girl," he murmurs. He tugs on her knee, encouraging her to brace her foot on the tree and leave him more room. Klaus continues speaking, low and gravelly as he works her up. "You'll come on my hand first. I want you soaked so that when you're tight around my cock you'll need it fast and hard. I want your frantic in my arms, your nails in my skin, my name the only thing you can say."

She swallows harshly, breathes in shakily, "Is that a vampire thing?"

His smile is a promise that coaxes another shudder from her, her body clamping down around the fingers he's been lazily fucking her with. "Oh, Caroline, rough has its place but I want you in all ways. Writhing on my bed under the softest, slowest strokes of my tongue, your lovely thighs splayed wide in invitation. I'll watch your every muscle contract, build the most exquisite tension until you're hoarse from begging to come. I want you sun warmed and sleepy, sighing as I slip into you from behind and toy with your nipples as we move together. I want you on top, riding me, rubbing your clit and taking what you need without shame."

God, her fantasies had really let her down.

Klaus speeds up the motions of his hand and her hips pick up the rhythm, chasing the feeling of fullness at every withdrawal. Klaus watches her fall apart with rapt attention, murmuring encouragement and praise. The individual words cease to hold much meaning as Caroline begins to spiral, leaning more heavily against Klaus. She cries out when she hits the peak, the sound muffled in his throat. Her orgasm rolls through her in long, shuddering waves, leaving her limbs useless and trembling as Klaus draws out spine-melting aftershocks with clever fingers.

She's a panting, pliant, satisfied mess when he hoists her into his arms, the line of his shoulders taut with a strain she knows has nothing to do with her weight. He shoves his jeans down with jerky movements and Caroline does her best to help, bracing herself on his shoulders and wrapping her legs more securely around his hips. She dips her chin to see him stroking himself, her lips part around a gasp as she spies the faint shake of his hands as he spreads her wetness along the thick length of his cock. Her stomach tightens around a new rush of desire.

She's gonna need a repeat performance. In better lighting.

Her eyes flick up to find Klaus watching her knowingly, a healthy dose of intrigue painted across his features. "Hmm, voyeuristic tendencies?" he teases. "We can play with those later, sweetheart."

He sounds unbearably smug and she's tempted to smack him, until he rubs the head of his cock around her clit. Her hips jerk, she is still so sensitive, and all less than charitable thoughts about Klaus' massive ego leave her.

She can deal with him being annoyingly pleased with his prowess as long as he's inside her.

A minute adjustment and he's pressing against her entrance, squeezing past fluttering muscles. Klaus groans harshly, his jaw clenched tight. A long contented sigh wells up from Caroline, her nails scrabbling for purchase against his shoulders as he pushes deeper.

When his hips are flush with hers he stills and his eyes drift shut. His expression is a fascinating mix of pleasure-pain and Caroline kisses his throat, nips just under the hinge if his jaw. He's a solid line of tension, his muscles straining under his iron control.

Caroline wants it gone, like he'd promised. The waiting for her to adjust is sweet but she's beyond ready. He won't hurt her, she's certain of that. And if just this feels so good she's looking forward to the rest.

She drags her lips upward, brushes them against his ear, "Aren't you supposed to be ruining me for all other men right now?" she taunts, biting down on his earlobe.

His eyes snap open and fix on hers, "Gladly," he grits out.

He begins to move, shifting his hips until he finds the perfect angle, one that has Caroline crying out at every entry, her hips meeting his firm thrusts with frantic rolls.

When they collapse to the ground, sweaty and spent, Klaus cushions her fall, settling her against his chest. There are rocks poking at her shins but she's too blissed out to care.

He busies himself with combing through the knots in her hair - the rough bark hadn't been kind to her curls. "Ruined yet?" He asks conversationally while Caroline's heart is still pounding wildly. He sounds only the slightest bit winded, something that just wasn't fair.

The wisest course of action is probably to demure, maybe hum noncommittally. But where's the fun in that?

"Eh," Caroline mutters dismissively, "I…"

She chokes on the rest of the sentence when Klaus rolls them and slithers down her body, his lips hot against her soaked slit, licking her open, before she can take another breath.

She doesn't protest when her drapes her thigh over his shoulder, nor when he grips her ass and lifts her into his mouth.

Taunting Klaus has always been fun but Caroline suspects that it could easily become her favourite past time.

She practices it often that night.

When they make to leave in the early dawn hours, scrambling to put together serviceable outfits (Caroline commandeers his jacket since her dress has to be knotted around her waist), the clearing looks much different than it had when they'd found it. Caroline had never been to a tropical island but she thinks the blooms, in vibrant pinks and oranges, look like they belong on one.

At least the one she'd set out to conjure was among them. Klaus pockets the violets, tossing her a smirk, "Evidently multiple orgasms give your abilities a remarkable boost, love. How fascinating."

She does a slow spin, taking in the clearing dubiously, "I… had no idea I was doing this. What if…" she trails off anxiety filling her. The flowers were harmless (though she'd definitely be recruiting her hybrid body guards to help her rip them up and transport them to her greenhouse so they didn't risk totally destroying the bayou's ecosystems). What if something worse was to happen the next time she lost control? "I don't want to hurt anyone."

"You can't hurt me," Klaus points out reasonably. "Which makes me the ideal partner for future experiments, wouldn't you say?"

He seems immensely pleased with the idea and Caroline cracks a smile. "Funny, you never struck me as the science type."

"I do prefer the disciplines that are more… flexible it's true. For you, however, I'll make any number of exceptions."

Caroline ducks her head, hiding her widening grin, the blush she knows is spreading across her face. Klaus takes her hand, tugs her in the direction of the path.

She'd assumed the truth of Klaus' words, had gleaned enough from the snide comments of his siblings, his occasional bouts of frustration as he fumbled through a conversation that he couldn't bully or manipulate his way through. She'd never had kissed him if her gut hadn't told her this was real.

Still, Caroline was a science person, had three quarters of an honors degree in biochemistry. She liked facts and hearing Klaus confirm that whatever she was to him was singular, unique, was better than just strongly suspecting it.

It was enough to soothe her worries.

She'll have to design some trials. Later. She and Klaus had more pressing matters – he'd made several big promises - to attend to first.