Author's Note: This piece sprouted from a prompt offered for Klaroline Wednesday on Tumblr. I'd always wondered what kind of advice/words of wisdom Klaus would offer after learning not only that Liz died, but that Caroline turned off her humanity. I hope you like it.
"You have exactly two minutes to tell me about being the bad guy before I hang up," she muttered, "Go."
She could feel his smirk through the phone.
"Caroline," Klaus drawled in his thick British accent, "how lovely to hear from you."
After their last scandalous (passionate) encounter, Caroline had sworn to herself that she'd de-Klaus her life—an Original Hybrid detox, if you will—and remove both him, and her feelings for him, from her life forever. When he'd promised never to return; she'd promised (silently) never to talk to him, never to think of him again. Unfortunately for her, she found this forever vow was hard (impossible) to preserve…at least where he was concerned.
And as a result, here she was: Parked in the middle of Nowhere Tennessee, her head pressed against the steering wheel. A bag of open Doritos resting in her lap. On the phone…with Klaus Mikaelson.
Caroline hated it! She despised herself for her weakness, for her Achilles heel. But Klaus? Oh…Klaus loved every minute of it. No—wait—that didn't sound right. He didn't just love it…he relished in it. Smug bastard.
"Is this interest personal or academic?"
Eyes closed, Caroline sighed. "I didn't know who else to call..."
Hearing her dejected tone, that lackluster inflection, Klaus dropped his wry pretense. His voice low and gentle, he replied, "You called the right person, love."
"Now," he continued, his attitude a little probing, "What do you want to know?"
Caroline jolted back in the driver's seat, allowing her head to rest comfortably against the headrest. Muting the radio, which seemed to be blaring music from Sad FM, she threw her arms over her head and spoke, unloading words in an agitated, need-to-vent manner.
"Here's the thing…My mom's dead. I don't know if you know that or not, but my mom died. From cancer. Not from a supernatural curse, a rogue vampire, or a werewolf bite, but from cancer. Freaking brain cancer. Isn't that ridiculous? To die of something so human—in Mystic Falls?"
Caroline hiccupped here, either to prevent herself from laughing or crying. She wasn't sure which one.
"Anyways, I couldn't deal with it. I just couldn't. I couldn't fucking breathe, Klaus. I couldn't fucking breathe!" She paused, licking her lips. "So, I shut it off. I shut off my humanity…and I gave into my darkness. The one temptation I swore to myself, and to you, that held no charms for me." She scoffed, obviously disgusted with herself. "I gave in!"
"And…?" Klaus asked with hesitation.
"It was amazing! It was awful!" Caroline checked herself. "I—I was awful," she corrected. "Though I still controlled the bloodlust, I was a heartless and vindictive bitch. I terrorized my friends, my town, and perfect strangers who offended me for literally no reason."
Klaus chuckled softly. Though he said nothing, it was obvious he took some odd delight in hearing her tale. And something else, too. What was it? Satisfaction? Pleasure? Pride? That's it—that's what it was. A part of him was proud.
Without interruption, Caroline continued.
"I mean, not only did I almost revert Stefan back to his Ripper days—and we all know how many years he takes to recover from one of those episodes—but I played Caroline trivia with my ex-boyfriends and snapped some guy's neck because he refused to buy me a tequila shot. I blood-binged—which ruined my necklace; I traumatized innocent studiers; and I killed 6 people to prevent boredom on a Friday night. I suck!"
At this, Caroline smacked her hands over her eyes and let out an exasperated huff. Rubbing at her temples, she begged for the guilt to disappear. To fade. To lessen. Anything to appease that relentless fire that scalded her veins with remorse, with regret. She'd do anything to stop the torment!
She heard him shut a door before plopping down on something soft—a bed or a chair of some sort—probably cradling his phone into his neck.
"Hold on," Klaus interjected, "What on earth is Caroline trivia?"
"Are you kidding me?" Caroline's eyes popped open and she shouted at Klaus' name on the call screen in her car. "I unload all of that crap on you and that's the one thing you want to know?"
Caroline could almost see him fixing her with that infamous puppy dog stare, his blue eyes twinkling with flirtatious mischief. He'd jut out his lower lip for extra emphasis, too, just to irk her.
"I'm simply curious…" he crooned.
She scoffed. But secretly, she was amused. A small smile crept across her lips as she readied herself to answer him. Though it was a weak one and it felt a little foreign on her face, Caroline savored the pleasantness of smiling again after so many weeks of misery. And he'd been the one to instigate it. Interesting.
"Matt and Tyler stumbled across me at a bar where I was engaging in some murderous activities. They disapproved, of course, and wanted to go. But I decided that only the winner of my game could leave." She shivered in remembrance, and then nestled her legs into her chest to finish her explanation. "And since they both dated me, Caroline-themed questions seemed like the most fun. Whoever won, would live; whoever lost, would die."
As she said this, she opened her bag of Doritos and grabbed a handful.
"That's rather creative," Klaus replied, his interest piqued, "Who won?"
Shocked? Startled? Surprised? Whatever he was, Klaus masked it well. He delivered his question with a practiced monotone. "You killed them both?"
Caroline coughed, almost choking on her junk food.
"What? No—no!" she exclaimed. "Damon ushered them outside before I—before I could—no. No, I didn't kill them."
She shook her head and laughed without amusement. "Could you imagine? Could you imagine if I had been responsible for killing one of my friends, or worse, one of the ex-loves of my life? I just—" she crumpled her hands into fists "—there'd be no return to humanity after that. Not for me."
Klaus considered her words for a moment with a "hmm" humming on his lips.
"What makes you so sure?"
"Because! I'd never forgive myself; I'd never recover."
Caroline wrapped her fingers around the steering wheel and leaned forward into the speaker, almost like she was about to tell a secret. When she spoke, it was in a whisper.
"The guilt and shame would bury me. I'd never survive."
"You would," Klaus challenged. His tone was uncompromising and unyielding, like he spoke an absolute truth. "You're strong, Caroline. And the strong are resilient, sometimes stubborn, and often tenacious to the point of obsession. I would know," he said with self-directed mockery, "The strong always find a way to survive…you would, too."
"I'm barely surviving now!" she countered, half-hysterical.
"I mean, listen to me!" Tears trickled down her pale cheeks, smearing her brown mascara. "I'm locked in my car, alone, at a crummy Tennessee gas station vampire-shaming myself to a rage-a-holic hybrid who's probably killed more people than I've ever met!"
"True, I have," he admitted nonchalantly, "Most of them were collateral damage. Or perhaps boredom? It's hard to remember…"
Caroline imagined Klaus lying there—locked away in some swanky mansion in NOLA—with his head resting against his fancy pillows and his mind wandering to his burgeoning list of victims, innocent and guilty alike. How many were there? Hundreds? Thousands? Millions? She shuddered at the thought. Exhausted, Caroline allowed her forehead to collapse against her hands on the steering wheel. Again.
"I'm so lost, Klaus," she confessed, exhaling in surrender. "Can't you just be a pal and tell me your goddamn secret already? I'm tired."
Klaus laughed heartily at this. It sounded warm and relaxed, like he had received a reprieve and could take a moment to revel in something fun, not dire. In this moment, it was clear that Caroline entertained him. He sounded almost…happy?
In the meantime, she was drowning. Typical.
After taking a minute, Klaus cleared his throat. "I am an almanac of secrets, sweetheart," he said, "Which one would you like to pick apart?"
"Just tell me how you do it. How you swallow your regrets and prevent them from consuming you. Don't lie to me—I know you have them," Caroline mumbled from the steering wheel.
She could hear him scratch the stubble on his chin in thought.
"You presume to know me well," Klaus responded.
Not lifting her head or opening her eyes, she added, "You do vile, despicable things, Klaus, but they bother you. They always have; they always will."
She heard the lid of a decanter, then the sound of liquid—probably Bourbon—clinking against ice cubes as it emptied into a glass. Klaus needed a drink. And from the sounds of it, a strong one. Taking a sip, Klaus let out a small groan before he answered.
"Time helps. Years, decades, centuries…they help to fade the atrocities you've committed. It helps you to overlook them, so to speak," Klaus began. "You never forget, but you learn to ignore. And eventually, with time and practice, you'll learn to master the skill of evasion just like I have."
Devoid of callousness or calculation, his words expressed an openness, a truthfulness, that struck Caroline in the heart. Klaus had granted her access into his psyche—willingly and without restraint. He wanted her to know him, to understand him. It was like she'd accidentally cracked open a window and his soul blew in to arrest her, to awaken her heart with its warm breeze. And that touched her. She hated to admit it, but it did. It genuinely touched her.
"What do I do until then? You know, until eternity passes and I'm a billion like you?" she asked.
Caroline heard Klaus take another large swig from his drink. After he finished, she heard him clunk it down on the counter and unplug the decanter for a refill.
"Well, for starters…drive," he said, "Put the keys in the ignition, start up your car, and drive away from that dilapidated little town you're hiding in, and just go."
"I can't go back to Mystic Falls, Klaus."
"So don't." His voice was calm, soft. "Just drive."
Abruptly and with no goodbye, the call ended. Like a new moon, he disappeared into the black March night. Klaus spoke his wisdom, and then was gone.
Rolling her forehead across her hands, Caroline peered at the call screen with one eye and stared, his name still plastered there in blinking white. They'd spent more than fifteen minutes on the phone. Much longer than she'd expected...or intended.
After releasing a long sigh, she sat back in her seat and started the ignition. As she maneuvered out of the parking lot and onto the interstate, she extracted a map from the glove compartment. Although Caroline still felt lost, she at least knew her next destination. The map laid flat on the passenger seat next to her, starred and circled with the name of one city: New Orleans.
And so, like Klaus suggested, she just drove.