Life is crazy, I'm sorry, thank you, I love you guys, I really hope you enjoy.
He entered with something in his eyes that she couldn't read.
There was still the grief, yes; the sense that he had lost something. But there was more, and it seemed to draw his face closed, shutting him off to her.
Still, she asked. She asked because it was all they had.
"Did you talk to Rosemary?"
He looked so tired, she realised. And gaunt. Like a soldier back from war.
Bonnie scrambled up with a clear of her throat.
"I'm sorry about Marcel, Klaus."
She waited for half a second – like maybe she was reading his aura wrong and he would actually make some sort of reply or acknowledgement – then shot Caroline a quick look before making her way into the bathroom.
Finally Klaus met her eyes, his dark. An unpleasant shiver struck her spine.
"You're not to talk to the witches again. Am I understood?"
She took a step back in surprise. Then she blinked.
"I said you're not to talk to – "
"I heard what you said, I'm just confused who you said it to, since last time I checked I'm not one of your minions and you don't give me orders."
There was a strange sensation in her gut. The unkindness in his eyes definitely didn't put it to rest.
"You're free to take it as you wish. What you're not free to do is talk to those witches."
Fury began to grow in her stomach, roiling like the storm only he could cause.
"What about Bonnie? Can I talk to her? Or you? Or why don't you just put a muzzle on me?"
She knew she should be thinking about his grief and Marcel and where what he was saying must've been coming from, but she couldn't. She could only see that look in his eyes; that of a threat, and suddenly she knew what the feeling was: betrayal.
They'd been partners, once, but now he was the enemy, because their agendas no longer lined up.
Her main concern was nobody else dying and his was her.
"I'm not being facetious, Caroline. You will obey or I will lock you in here."
Just like that, she exploded.
Shoving him hard by the shoulders, she shouted.
He sped back up to her. "Why can't you grasp what's at stake here?!"
"Funny, that's exactly what I was thinking about you," she spat. "All you do is sit in your fucking study and make decisions all by yourself and all I do is sit here, trapped, while people die for me! God! How can you not see how screwed up that is? Are you really that selfish? These aren't even just random humans anymore; these are our friends; the people we care about!"
"Apologies," he growled, "I wasn't aware that I was dealing with Elena Gilbert."
"Elena may be a martyr and far from perfect, but she's fifty times the person you are."
His jaw hardened and she took satisfaction from that, stepping closer so he was forced to meet her eyes dead on.
"As for locking me in here: go ahead. I fucking dare you. Try it and see how much fun it is to have Caroline Forbes locked up all day with nothing to do but escape. Oh, and don't forget where I'd be escaping to."
The shock was evident in his eyes as she referred to the outside – AKA where Reese's men were waiting for her.
She held his eyes for another smug moment before turning around, needing the moment to compose herself.
But it was a whole minute of silence, awkward, as she practically heard the cogs turning in his mind.
Then he stepped forward and laid a hand on one of her folded arms. Immediately she shook it off.
"Don't you dare touch me."
He withdrew and she listened to them both breathing, trying to find a way to calm herself down.
Moving closer to the window, she pulled open the curtain a little, staring out at the inky night. This room had specifically been chosen for her, not just for size but because it was the furthest away from the main gates. She couldn't even see Reese's troops. But she knew they were out there, on the other side of the house, slaughtering.
So she imagined it. Imagined an army of sorcerers armed with heart-ripping machinery and torches as they advanced ever forward.
Imagined being recruited by someone who represented Klaus, being force-fed blood then having her neck snapped. Imagined being trained then forced to go out and fight to the death for a woman you'd never met.
Imagined being the woman's friend – for what it was worth – and volunteering to go out and end all this because it would please Klaus. Imagined being Marcel.
In her reflection she saw tears make their way down her cheeks and she stared, incredulously, remembering.
She'd been staring at herself trying to figure out whether to put her hair up or not.
That had been an actual problem, once upon a time. And now this was her life.
"I can't lose you, too," his voice came quietly from behind her.
Her gaze jumped up to see his reflection's head bowed.
Her voice came out soft, too.
"It's lose me now, for a while, or lose me forever when Reese's army storms in and rips out my heart."
He looked up sharply and in the window, against the dark sky, she saw yellow strike like lightning through his eyes.
"That's not going to happen."
"No, you just don't want it to. There's a difference, Klaus."
She loved him. God, she loved him. But he also had the emotional maturity of a toddler sometimes.
With a step forward he bowed his head against hers, digging his face into the nape of her neck to speak into her hair.
"We're not there yet."
"We don't have to wait till we get there."
"Caroline – "
"There are people dying." She gestured towards the window, where she still saw people fighting for her. "They haven't even met me. We were supposed to rule New Orleans – all we've done is destroy it. God, Marie Antoinette has nothing on me."
"This isn't your fault."
"But I can fix it."
His sigh swirled along her collarbones.
"That spell's list of side effects spans pages."
She knew. She'd seen it.
"Possible side effects. And even if I experienced them all, it would be better than this."
He shook his head.
She kept staring out. The real view was of the garden. It was surprisingly pretty, which she'd teased Klaus endlessly about when she'd first gotten here. Was there a team of gardeners? Or did he have a lady friend who took care of it? Was she expected to take over that role now? Or, better yet, was it his pride and joy? She'd like to see him in garden gloves with a pair of shears, she'd informed him, giggling.
How had everything gone to shit so fast?
"I love you, Caroline."
Drawing a deep breath, she summoned courage.
"I don't want you to."
She felt his body go rigid and she pressed her eyes closed. It hurt to hurt him. But she couldn't let it go unsaid anymore.
"Not if this is what it's gonna be like."
She tried not to breathe, terrified of the consequences of her own words, but all sound had seemed to snap out of the room and she forced her eyes open. They met his in their reflections.
It was the most she'd ever seen him look like the classic vampire: staunch, pale; no soul. She knew he was feeling what she had minutes ago: betrayal.
Because she was thinking about the exact same thing she knew he was – what she'd told him right at the beginning of all of this.
Don't ever apologise for loving me. I don't care what kind of danger it puts me in. I want this. I want us. I want your love. Never doubt that.
She hesitated, every word seeming to petrify on her tongue, before forcing herself to speak.
"I know what I said, but that was before the humans and the dying; Marcel, and locking me in a room against my will – "
"That was wrong."
"Yes. But so is all of this. I can't – I can't do it anymore."
She started to cry fully now, watching concern spread through his features.
"I didn't tell you or Bonnie, but… I've thought about giving up. I've thought about…" She could barely stand to let it off her tongue – that was why she hadn't been able to admit it; hadn't even been able to write it – but she couldn't hold it in a second longer. "Suicide," she sobbed, then immediately covered her face in shame.
She was supposed to be the strong one, the one who never gave up. But it was so damn hard. So damn hard to fight the depression rolling in in heightened waves, while pretending to be hunky dory for your best friend and the man you loved.
She was sunny, she was optimistic; she was dying inside.
"Caroline," he uttered.
There was a second of hesitation – then he wrapped his arms around her waist and pulled her as close as possible.
"I'm so sorry, love. I'm sorry."
He kept repeating it as she cried, feeling as if she were finally getting to empty out the dregs of her soul. It felt so good to tell someone. To make someone understand how hard it was to know that your life would put a stop to all the killing and dying. To make them see that there came a time when you had to ask yourself whether your life was really worth it all.
There came a time when you began to hate yourself because you realised that point would've been right at the beginning for Elena; she never would've willingly let a drop of blood spill for her.
But Caroline wasn't Elena. She was never the one. Never the one to do the right thing.
Only she could, now; finally. She just had to make him see it.
"I'm sorry," he whispered for the hundredth time, when her sobs had eventually dulled to dry heaves. "I shouldn't have said any of that; I didn't mean it, love."
"Me too," she breathed, remembering her own venomous words. "Me neither."
She laid her arms over his.
"Promise me you'll think about it."
He was silent, hesitating, for a moment too long.
"I need more time."
"Klaus – "
"Give me more time. We can still win this, Caroline. One weakness and this will all be over."
It had been months, she wanted to point out, but he knew that as well as she did.
She wiped at the tears on her face. "If you promise to think about it, I'll wait a little longer."
In the reflection his eyes pleaded with her.
"Caroline – "
He stared at her powerlessly, furiously, for a few more seconds, then looked away.
"Thank you." He was still looking away and she frowned. "Klaus."
Reluctantly he forced himself to meet her eyes in the glass again.
"I love you."
He winced. "Don't."
He stared at her, hard, then began pulling away with something in his eyes she couldn't read.
Turning, she stared at him up close, trying to figure out what was behind the now-dark blue eyes, but it was impossible.
"Could you ever have imagined that party would go as wrong as it did?"
"I doubt even George R. R. Martin could've, sweetheart," he attempted a smile.
She did, too, but it didn't work either.
"You should go." He recoiled a little, looking hurt, and she hurried to explain: "Bonnie must've pretended to take twenty showers by now."
Immediately he understood and nodded briskly before heading towards the bedroom door. He froze for a moment with his hand on the doorknob, hesitating, but then he seemed to change his mind and left without another word.
With a sigh she turned to look out at the garden again, where in her mind it was covered in blood, not roses.
Then Bonnie came out and I told her the barest minimum. I wanted to talk about me and Klaus' fight more, but I honestly just couldn't. I barely managed to write about it (honestly, screw Elena for this entire idea because I swear to god it only makes me feel worse).
Anyway. Today me and Klaus had our worst fight ever and it went nowhere close to ending in orgasms. I still feel awful about everything we both said, but… we made it through it.
And now there's a light at the end of the tunnel.
Caroline breaks down sobbing.
"Put it on the counter," Klaus directs.
The various minions obey, placing the groceries on the counter before exiting the kitchen again.
He's agitated. He knows he should be looking forward to this evening but it's impossible to focus. All he can think about is that day. About how she has yet to read about it.
Each time he intends to focus on the menu or begin a dish, he thinks about how she'd looked at him earlier. How she will look at him once she's read it. His hands refuse to be put to work because they're regretful – he should've gone through the journals; should've taken that one away.
What use is respecting her privacy if it causes him to lose her?
He places his hands flat on the counter to prevent himself from speeding back over there and all but pleading with her not to read it.
Instead he thinks back.
Opening the door, he saw Bonnie. One glance told him Caroline was in the bathroom.
"Caroline's in the shower," she informed him anyway.
He nodded, hesitating. He wasn't sure whether to wait or not. This had been his idea and yet he felt ridiculous.
"Nice flowers," Bonnie mused, her eyes saying something different entirely.
"Is there something you'd like to say, witch?"
She held out her hands. "Just surprised by how clichéd the big bad hybrid is."
He took a breath with the intention to calm down, reminding himself that he'd risked too much to save her, only to now turn around and crush her windpipe. And, after all, the truth was that he was no less surprised or disdainful of his methodology – but it had been all he could come up with.
He opted to say nothing, conveying his sentiments with a murderous glare. She absorbed it then swallowed, as if gaining the nerve to state something.
"She told me. About your promise."
His eyes widened.
"You knew? About the spell?"
"Of course I knew. She wanted my opinion."
He scoffed. "And you thought it best to encourage her?"
Her eyes were guilty but she shrugged helplessly.
"It's the best option we have, Klaus."
He wanted to say it was no option at all, but held his tongue. She seemed to notice.
"You lied, didn't you? When you promised."
"How dare you," he growled.
She pointed. "The roses."
He looked at the bouquet of flowers in his own hand as if they'd sold him out. He supposed it was a common theme for today.
"I brought her something to cheer her up, not out of guilt."
"The last time something was wrong, you sent a rose," she accused, her voice level.
Throwing the flowers down, he turned his back to her, rage beginning to build inside.
"Watch your mouth, witch."
But it was a façade. Because she was right. He'd brought the roses because he felt guilty. He felt guilty because he'd lied.
"You promised but, really, you aren't ever going to allow the spell."
He bristled. "The promise doesn't matter because the spell is irrelevant. It won't be necessary."
"As powerful as you are, not even you can wish things into existence, Klaus. It's been months. Your best chance – your best ally – just died. This is the way."
His hands curled into fists.
"You're inside here. You have no idea what it's like out there; what is necessary or not."
"What I know is that you don't want to let her go. But you're going to lose her anyway, if you don't keep that promise."
He spun. "And since when is that something you care about?"
Bonnie sighed. "I care because I've lost too many good guys because I was so busy taking care of them – keeping them alive – that I forgot to take care of our relationship. I may not like you, but Caroline loves you, and I don't want to see you screw it up." She hesitated. Then, lowly: "She's in a dark place, Klaus. If she finds out she can't trust you after all, that might be the last straw."
So Bonnie knew.
He wasn't sure if she'd perceived what he had not or if she'd simply overheard their conversation earlier.
Either way, he was struck breathless just thinking about Caroline's confession. It had almost brought him to his knees. Suicide, she'd uttered out, and his heart had stopped.
No. He needed her.
He forced himself to breathe now. He was still processing it, though he was sure that there was no way to ever fully do so. His actions and their repercussions – his love – had driven her to thoughts of suicide.
All this time he'd thought she was fine – wary, but fine – when in actuality she'd been having darker thoughts than he'd thought her capable of. She'd been drowning and instead of being there to pull her from it, he'd only been shovelling water onto her.
He could barely stand, thinking of his love – her, with the light behind her eyes and emanating from her smile – driving a stake through her own heart. It revolted him; utterly paralysed him.
He needed her.
"You're going to lose her," Bonnie enforced, forcing him to meet his eyes.
"No," he shook his head, refusing. "I won't. I can't."
"Then don't. I won't tell her, Klaus," she pleaded. "But you promised to consider the spell when the time came. Stick to that promise. Stick to it, and I won't tell her that you lied."
He swallowed, watching her; trying to figure out if he could trust her. But the witch had been trustworthy thus far, if a little too easily swayed by Caroline for his liking.
Thinking of her words, he let go of the image of Caroline with a stake in her heart, or one of Reese's devices in her chest.
Instead he saw her face falling when he had to admit that, not even for a second, had he meant that promise. That the one person she had to rely on in all of this had lied to her.
I don't want you to. Not if this is what it's gonna be like.
"I will," he breathed.
She let out a breath too, seeming relieved, and he heard the shower turn off.
Breaking eye contact with the Bennett witch, he grabbed up the flowers and vanished.
It had all been so long ago. But his mistakes always caught up with him. That was the curse of living for as long as he had.
He jumps when his phone rings, Liz's ringtone sounding out against the dead quiet of the house. He sighs but reaches for it, answering hesitantly.
"Klaus," she says, and his entire body stiffens, hearing unconcealed panic in her voice. "It's Caroline. She's…"
"Liz, what's wrong?"
"I don't know. But it's bad. She was crying so much; I couldn't console her. And then she started speeding around and tearing down her room and – Caroline!"
There's utter fear in her voice as she shouts out at her daughter and, on instinct, Klaus speeds off without waiting for more.
He almost misses her completely, with her speeding away and him speeding towards. Towards her, always towards her.
"Klaus," she blinks, stopping.
She's halfway down the pathway to her house and he's halfway up it. There's something in her eyes that he can't interpret.
He's never been as able to read her quite as well as he feels she's able to read him. There are exceptions, of course – when she wanted him, when she was sad, when she felt helpless – but he'd always assumed that he would get better at it, with time.
He'd thought they had forever.
"What's wrong?" he breathes.
He's breathless because his instincts have picked up on something his mind hasn't just yet.
"I…" she starts, but can't seem to finish.
Her eyes are scanning him and finally his brain catches up – he knows that look.
"You read the rest."
She wants to deny it, he can tell, but she nods.
"Caroline –" he almost fucks her name up, he's so busy stumbling over himself – "the-the things I said – I don't –"
She stops him with a shake of her head.
"It's not that."
He deflates, confused.
She looks off, into the direction she'd been speeding towards when he'd gotten here, considering for a moment.
Then she turns back and steps toward him.
"You know I've never really written anything before?"
He doesn't say anything; doesn't feel it's his place.
She continues: "The odd essay or motivational letter and tons of to-do lists, but I never really wrote anything. That was always Elena's thing."
She rubs her arms and he watches, thinking about how vampires can't feel the cold.
"So reading these journals, it's so crazy. I mean, reading something by yourself about actual things you experienced without remembering either those things or actually writing it – it's pretty damn trippy." She smiles, a little. He doesn't. "But the thing is, Klaus, the way I wrote about us – reading those parts is even worse. There's so much emotion and uncertainty and… intensity. And they've always messed with my head, but that entry…"
She drifts off, meeting his eyes again for the first time since the beginning of her explanation and it's as if she expects him to understand, already, but he doesn't.
"I never read it," he reminds her, his tone low.
Add that to his list of regrets.
She steps away; turns away, frustrated.
"I know," she sighs.
There's awkward silence and he feels eyes on him. Turning, he sees Liz at the front door. She looks concerned and questioning. He nods at her to leave them alone and, after a second of hesitation, she turns to head back into the house.
He stares at Caroline's shoulder, where her hair hides his view of her face. It's something he'd appreciated about her shorter haircut.
"If there's something I can do, Caroline… I'll do it."
She turns slightly.
"What are you going to do, give me a hug and make it all better?"
"If that's what it would take."
He can just about glimpse the corner of a tiny sad smile.
"…Trust me, I wish there were something that could change how I'm feeling right now."
He latches onto this; steps closer.
"What are you feeling?"
There's a brief moment of silence, during which he hears the fear pumping through his own veins. As much as he wants to know what is troubling her, he also has the sense that it will be nothing good.
"Trapped," she breathes. "Just like she was – I was, back then."
He steps closer and now her shoulder is to his chest. He wants to touch her but he doesn't know how. Doesn't know if he's allowed. Doesn't know what sort of touch would make either of them feel better.
"I don't understand, love."
She hesitates for a moment then turns to him fully. He notes the way her eyes widen at their proximity; how she doesn't move away.
"She felt so trapped and… regretful. You promised to show me the world and instead all she saw was the inside of that one room in that one house in New Orleans."
Shame floods his features visibly and suddenly he can't meet her eyes. She's not the only one who'd had regrets.
But she shakes her head, frustration creeping into her movements again. Whatever she intends to say, it's not coming out right and she keeps trying to course-correct, to no avail.
"I'm not trying to blame you, I just – I'm trying to make you understand what it was like reading those pages. It was like being trapped in a box with one air hole. Like she could see the world and just barely breathe it, but that was it."
"I'm sorry," he says anyway.
"I know," she nods. "This –" she gestures around at their current situation, "isn't because of that. Well, not because of you." She drags her hands through her hair then looks up to meet his eyes square on. "The truth is that I realised I feel just like she did. Trapped in living without really living. Except this time it's my own fault, not Reese's."
"You are living, Caroline –"
"No, I'm not!" she refutes, stepping away and spreading her arms to gesture. "What am I really doing, Klaus?" She doesn't wait for his answer: "Playing catch-up! That's it. Reading those journals and getting to know the man she was in love with."
He feels as if someone had physically stabbed him, stumbling back, but he forces a straight face.
"That's the entirety of my life now," she continues, breathless from her speech. "And I want more. I want different. I can't just stand there staring out the window anymore."
In his mind he sees her staring out at the rose garden, her shoulders hard in their powerlessness. He'd been thinking that he'd never met anyone else who could be so downtrodden and determined at the same time; so ready to give up yet stubborn. He'd been thinking he couldn't lose her.
He can't lose her. Not again.
But all he's hearing is that he'd been a part of the life she no longer wants.
"I know it's not fair," she finishes, her voice tiny. "Every time things are going well, I change the game."
"Yes," he agrees, "but what happens now?"
When she meets his eyes again, he knows that she knows exactly what he is asking. But it's not the question she answers.
"Now I need time to think about things; about the kind of life I want. But for right now – I want to say goodbye to my friends."
She steps back and his mind whirrs, remembering the cemetery for the supernatural Mystic Falls had erected decades ago. He'd had all her friends exhumed then flown back to be re-buried there.
He supposes Liz had told her.
"I could accompany you."
Again that sad smile.
"No offence, but I think it would be kind of weird to mourn my friends with someone who didn't like any of them for a second of their lives."
He wants to point out that that's not entirely true or that he could just accompany her to the cemetery, not join her at their graves, but he stops himself because, though he knows she isn't lying, he also knows that isn't the whole truth.
It's not just that she doesn't want him there with her, it's that she doesn't want him with her.
She stares at him like she doesn't quite know what to do with that reply and he knows it's not his best, but he's bloody far from his best at this moment so he leaves it at that, watching her flounder.
"Uh… so, um, and then I guess I'm going to burn those journals or something so –"
"Yeah… Unless you want them?"
He does. But, even after all his self-flagellating earlier, he doesn't know if he should take them.
"…I suppose I'm just surprised."
She rubs her arms again.
"…Yeah. I know it's going a bit far but… they've been a real crutch, and I don't mean in a good way. I mean, yeah, at the beginning they helped a lot, but now it's like they're controlling my life. And like I said, I want different."
He nods, though he's still not sure he entirely understands what she is trying to convey to him. Mainly he has gathered that, progressively, she wants to burn all bridges to her past. And he is on those bridges.
Realising he intends to make no response, she continues: "So, I was going to say, I won't be able to make it to dinner tonight after all."
"Of course not."
Her eyes search his face, flicking from his forehead – straining with the urge not to frown and shatter the façade – to his eyes then down to his mouth. He knows she's looking for something that would imply discontent; malice. But his mind is elsewhere. He's thinking of earlier, when he'd pressed himself up against her and listened to her heart race.
He doubts George R.R. Martin could've foreseen this, either.
Caroline looks torn: on the verge of leaving, but she's wringing her hands.
He raises a brow in question. He could do more to help her along, but he finds himself wanting this to be as difficult as possible for her. He won't help her make it easy to leave him behind.
"I just wanted to say… I know I've thanked you a lot over the past few days, but I never thanked you for this. For putting up with… well, all the times I changed the game. Thank you. Really."
"Why does the way you say that sound like goodbye?"
He can't help the acidic fury that boils beneath his tone.
Her mouth forms to say what her eyes are already relaying: I'm sorry.
But then she changes her mind and says something else instead: "I don't know what anything means right now."
She stares at him for a while longer, searching again, with so much guilt still behind her blue eyes. Then, with a sad sigh, she begins to turn.
She begins to leave.
Without thinking about it or really meaning to, he finds himself reaching for her; forcing her to stop with a hand around her forearm.
She looks down at his hand with surprise; he with trepidation.
She has enjoyed being able to draw him back or hold him – but he actually can. He can keep her here. He has the physical strength to do so.
They meet each other's eyes and he immediately relinquishes his hold, fisting his fingers instead.
He remembers Liz's words as Caroline draws her gaze from his.
She's not going to run.
But she does. Away from him, always away from him.