Disclaimer: I do not own The Vampire Diaries or it's characters. If I did, The Originals would never have happened, Kol would be alive and happily causing mayhem somewhere, and Klaus and Caroline would be travelling the world and sexing it up.
"Good morning passengers, this is your captain speaking. We will be commencing descent into Heathrow shortly but first I ask that you move your seats to an upright position and stow away your tray tables and all personal belongings. It is currently six thirty am Greenwich time and we are experiencing some cloudiness with scattered sunshine."
Caroline moves her seat to an upright position, eyes flicking towards her crutches to where they're stowed in the cupboard with the rest of the coats from first class. She flexes her left knee experimentally, wincing at the slight twinge of pain she experiences.
A flight attendant bends down as if guessing the direction of her thoughts. The younger girl's name had been Vicki, and she'd been nothing but attentive for the entire flight out from LAX, even fetching heat packs and ice for her when her knee required it.
"Good morning Caroline." Vicki greets her warmly, and it's amazing that the girl can look as fresh as a daisy after pulling a red eye shift. There's not a single wrinkle on her uniform, and her smile is just as bright as it had been when they'd left at the other end. "Can I get you anything before I land? I'll pop back to help you with your crutches once we've got wheels on the tarmac of course, and the other passengers have agreed to let you disembark first."
The first class cabin was relatively empty this flight, just an older couple who were on their way home and another girl she recognises as a Victoria's Secret model.
"I'm fine, thank you Vicki. And please pass my thanks onto the other passengers. That's very kind of them." She gives Vicki a smile, and the flight attendant gives her a polite smile in return before continuing down the aisle to carry out her pre landing duties.
Caroline leans back into the headrest of her seat and closes her eyes, wondering again why this was a good idea to even come to London in the first place.
Sports injuries were a funny thing, especially at an elite level. In fact, it didn't matter what level you were at, injuries were a massive hit to your confidence. And when you were in a sport like gymnastics, a loss of confidence was the last thing that you needed, especially when your team was headed to the Olympics in the next year or so.
It happened at a world meet. She was captaining the US women's artistic gymnastic team to what would have been an easy victory. All it had taken was one misstep in a tumbling line, and she'd ended up sprawled out on the sprung floor with a torn ACL.
In one fell swoop she'd gone from being the best gymnast on that team to being a liability. The doctors couldn't decide whether or not she'd ever compete again, but she was getting old. Most gymnasts retired early 20's, and she was pushing 24, practically a dinosaur.
It was her coach, Alaric Saltzman, who seemed determined that she would compete again, and that she would captain her team again at an elite level- The Olympics.
Ric had wanted her to recover out of the public eye, and away from the pressures of the people around her who might push her back into competition far too early. As it turns out, Ric was friends with Enzo Augustine, one of the top rehabilitative physiotherapists in London. Enzo had agreed to take her on as a patient, and when Caroline had rung her oldest friend Bonnie Bennett, the other girl had immediately agreed to let her stay in the guest bedroom of her Canary Wharf apartment free of charge.
Long story short, she was the luckiest person on this planet right now.
The plane slams down onto the tarmac, and she can't help but tighten her grip on the armrests of her chair, eyes squeezing shut with the squeal of the brakes and the shuddering of the plane. She always had hated take offs and landings.
She unclips her seatbelt once the light chimes on over her head, and as promised Vicki materialises at her side, waiting patiently with her crutches as she gathers her backpack.
"I'll have one of the ground staff gather your bags for you and help you through to the foyer. Do you have anyone waiting for you?" Vicki asks politely as she tucks the crutches under her arms.
"Yeah I think I'll be alright. Thank you again for all your help." She smiles warmly as she levers herself to her feet, Vicki handing her the crutches, looking on anxiously while she tucks them under her arms.
As Vicki had promised, a uniformed man was already waiting at the front of the plane, and immediately took her carry on from Vicki, slinging it over his shoulder.
"Let's get to it then Ms Forbes." The man tips his head towards her respectfully as she begins the slow progress up the air tunnel. "Is this your first stay in England?"
His tone is polite, no ulterior motive behind his question.
"My first extended stay." She returns with a smile. "I'm doing some rehab on my knee before heading back to America."
She continues to make polite small talk with the man as they grab her two suitcases off the carousel and continue through customs and then to the foyer. Her progress through was faster than expected, probably because of her first class status and the fact that she had a British Airways employee helping her along.
And perhaps because of the crutches as well.
She spots Bonnie almost straight away in the arrivals foyer, a tall dark haired man with a mischievous smile waiting beside her.
Bonnie lets out a grin before meeting her halfway, pulling her into a gentle hug so as not to jostle her crutches.
"It's so good to see you Care! I'm just sorry it had to be under these circumstances." Bonnie remarks quietly as she steps away carefully.
"Are you kidding? You're an absolute godsend for letting me stay in your apartment. I really can't thank you enough." Caroline replies, shifting her crutches slightly. "Seriously Bon, it's so great to see you as well. Let's not wait so long next time."
The man steps forward, bending down to press a chaste kiss to her cheek.
"This is my fiance, Kol." Bonnie supplies with a laugh as Kol steps away to take her suitcases from the British Airways employee. "I think I'm going to keep this one."
"I heard that Witch!" Kol calls, just loud enough for them to hear.
To her surprise, Bonnie lets out an honest to god giggle at his words.
"Come on. Let's get you settled back at our place."
She crashes in the end, some pretty brutal jet lag catching up to her. When she wakes up and reaches for her crutches, wincing at the furry feeling of her mouth, she spots a note slipped underneath the door.
She struggles across the room and picks up the note, the pain always worse in her knee in the mornings. On it, Bonnie has written a few sentences in her own scribble, and she has to squint to decipher the spidery handwriting.
Make yourself at home, and please don't feel bad for passing out early last night. I'm at work all day today, but Kol would be more than happy to show you around London if you'd like. He's promised he won't bite.
After cleaning her teeth and splashing some water on her face, she emerges from her bedroom to join the outside world. They always stressed that, in her post recovery phase. Interact with people as much as possible, and avoid spending time alone dwelling on what might have been.
Kol is sitting at the table doing a crossword, a mug of tea paused halfway to his mouth as he puzzles out a particularly difficult clue. His eyes flick towards her as he hears the steady 'thunk' of her crutches against the hardwood floor, and a friendly smile creeps across his face as she approaches.
"Morning Caroline." Kol remarks in a neutral tone, pushing the bowl of fruit towards her. There's a veritable spread of breakfast foods on the table, everything from toast to pancakes, to sausages. "Bonnie googled a little bit about what sort of diet you may or may not be keeping, and made sure to stock the house with plenty of elite athlete friendly food."
In answer, she reaches for the plate of pancakes and spears a few with her fork. Kol just laughs, returning to his crossword.
"Something funny?" She asks carefully, not sure how friendly Kol is willing to be towards her, considering she's an intruder in the life he and Bonnie seemed to have carved out.
"Not in that way darling." Kol promises with another quick smile. "You just reminded me of my brother then. That same stubbornness."
Caroline drizzles maple syrup on her stack of three, practically moaning at the taste of the first bite.
"What does your brother do?" She asks curiously, wondering just how big Kol's family is, whether he'd be willing to share more information about them.
"You've probably heard of him actually, considering he's at the top of his game as well. Niklaus Mikaelson?"
She wracks her brains, trying to figure out why that name does sound so familiar. It comes to her at the same time that Kol opens his mouth again to explain.
"He plays soccer doesn't he? He's the Captain of one of the Premier League teams over here."
Kol looks horrified.
"It's football." He hisses in a low voice. "But yes that's about the gist of it. Captain, Striker, all around game maker. He's playing a game tonight actually and he asked me to come. Bonnie hates the game which is absolutely beyond me, but you're more than welcome to join me if you're interested in watching some sport instead of participating yourself." Kol says the whole thing very quickly, like he can't wait to get the words out, like he's yanking off a bandaid.
"I have to be up early tomorrow for an appointment with the physio. Otherwise I would have loved to come." She smiles apologetically at Kol, who nods his head emphatically.
"You are still on rest period, which means that you are allowed to take certain liberties with your diet apparently, and your sleeping patterns. Please come tonight. If you don't have any fun, I promise I won't make you do it again, and you and Bonnie can have pillow fights in your underwear or whatever girls do when they gather together socially."
She throws her head back and laughs at Kol's crass humour.
"For the record, we skip the underwear and just do it naked. But sounds good. How about I get dressed and you can show me around London like Bonnie promised?"
The shocked look on Kol's face makes her teasing all the more worth it.
Hours later, she's absolutely wiped, but Kol has actually managed to jam in a whole lot of landmarks for her. He'd immediately made a beeline for the nearest hop on hop off bus, and although Kol went to great lengths to inform her that he usually wouldn't be caught dead on such a thing, this was the best way to see London, especially when she was indisposed and still on crutches.
So Kol took her to Buckingham Palace, St Pauls Cathedral, and the Tower Bridge. They spent hours at the Tower of London, then to Piccadilly Circus, and then to Westminster Abbey before having lunch at a cafe tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
It was miles away from Karolyi Ranch in Huntsville, Texas, where the women's gymnastic team spent most of their time training, and where she'd been living before her injury.
During their time together, she found out more about Kol and how he met Bonnie. Kol came from the Mikaelson family, who apparently were ambitious enough to succeed in each of their chosen fields. They were bona fide nobility, and Kol took great relish in seeing the shocked expression on her face when he revealed that his mother still lived in their mansion out in the Lakes District of England, a house that had belonged to the family since the reign of King Henry VIII.
There were five Mikaelson siblings including Kol, with Elijah being the eldest. Elijah was a high flying lawyer who worked at the Doughty Street Chambers, specialising in international law and human rights. It was commonplace for Elijah to jet over to The Hague in The Netherlands to work in the United Nation's International Court of Justice.
Next came Klaus, who had begun playing football at a young age, and had worked his way through various clubs and training camps until he'd been signed to his team at the age of 18 years old. From there he'd very quickly proven his worth, and now at the age of 25 he was very successfully captaining the side to numerous victories. They were even tipped to take out first place in the League this year, although Kol did mention there would be some stiff competition.
Kol himself was a research scientist at Oxford University. He lectured part time, but from what she could understand from his complicated explanation, he was trying to figure out what caused cancerous cells and a less lethal way of eliminating them from the body.
Rebekah Mikaelson was Kol's twin, and even Caroline had heard of the other girl, a fashion designer known for her affordable and yet still stylish clothes. Rebekah had recently enjoyed a boost in revenue when the Duchess of Cambridge had worn one of her dresses.
Rounding out the Mikaelson family was the youngest, Henrik, who was studying engineering. She had no doubt from what she'd heard of his other siblings, that he would succeed in both his studies and his later career.
It was nice, to hear Kol talk about his family, to see how obviously close all of them still were despite the different directions their careers were taking them. It was nothing like her own family, divorced parents and a mom who couldn't care less about her career in gymnastics.
Kol glances at his watch, and she notes that it's quite an expensive brand, although the name escapes her at the moment.
"Come on. Kick off is at eight o'clock, and I'm sure you're dying for a rest between now and then."
She gets to her feet, leaving her half empty cup of tea behind her.
"Honestly I thought you'd never realise."
She'd always loved watching sport. The atmosphere itself was always absolutely electric, the barely contained excitement of thousands of fans all in the one place at the same time, watching a game they were passionate about.
Of course, it also helped that she wasn't the one competing for once, everyone else's attention all devoted to someone else. She could deal pretty well with the pressure of competition, but she always did hate being the centre of attention.
Kol pulls his Range Rover into the back entrance of the stadium, to where the players usually park. She takes note of the expensive cars with barely concealed interest, tucking her crutches under her arm as Kol helps her down from the passengers seat.
There's a security guard manning one of the doors, and it's not until Kol has showed him his ID and explained that she was a guest of his that he finally speaks.
"I should warn you about the WAG's." Kol begins in a low voice, very much aware that the concrete corridors in the bowels of the stadium make his voice reverberate, louder than what it actually is.
"You have to be kidding me." She murmurs, reaching out and stopping him by the arm.
Wives and girlfriends, or WAG's as they were most often christened by the media, were present in almost every elite sport. Glamorous and beautiful, the wives and girlfriends of the players were often notorious in their own right, without even being attached to one of the team.
Depending on the sport, it could be quite a vicious atmosphere. And judging by the apologetic expression on Kol's face, it seemed that she was going to walk right into the lion's den, so to speak.
She suddenly regrets picking out the jeans and the top that she was wearing, along with her simple simple flat heeled boots.
"I wish I was. I should have probably warned you before now. They're not the most pleasant of people to deal with at the best of times. And they're probably going to talk about you a fair bit. Just ignore them and stick with me, okay?"
"Fine." Caroline remarks with a sigh, turning her gaze towards the elevators at the end of the hallway.
They continue their progress, Kol pressing the appropriate floor.
When the doors open at the other end, there's a moment of silence before Kol straightens his shoulders, gesturing for her to proceed before strolling out after her.
"Good evening Ladies." He pronounces with a charming smile. "Lovely to see you all again this evening. This is my friend Caroline, it's her first game tonight so be nice."
Her eyes scan the crowd, and she can't help but try and guess which ones were the wives, and which ones were the girlfriends.
"Kol Mikealson, aren't you a sight for sore eyes?" A gorgeous brunette drawls with a wicked smile, unfurling herself from one of the many leather couches scattered around the private box.
Kol accepts a kiss on the cheek, returning the embrace before introducing the brunette.
"Caroline, this is Katherine Pierce, my brother Elijah's fiancee. Kitty Kat, this is Caroline Forbes, one of Bonnie's friends from America."
Katerina's lips curl into a smile.
"Yes, the gymnast from America. How are you settling in? I hope this one hasn't scared you off yet." She gestures towards Kol, who scoffs, looking slightly insulted by Katherine's insinuation. "Come and sit down before you fall down. I'd rather not have you re injure or yourself on my watch."
Caroline just smiles shyly at the other woman, shaking her head to the first question as a way of response.
"He's been fine, nothing but accommodating. We spent some time wandering around London this afternoon."
She can hear murmurs and whispers as Katherine leads her over to the front of the glass box, the best seats in the house.
"Ignore them." Katherine guesses the direction of her thoughts before she can even voice them out loud. "They have nothing better to do but sit around and talk about everyone. Kol darling, can you get Caroline and I some drinks?"
"Oh I probably shouldn't drink…" Caroline begins hesitantly as Katherine and Kol exchange a look.
"Two vodka sodas please Kol." Katherine asks with another smile.
Kol disappears across the room, squeezing through a crowd of younger girls dressed in tight dresses. Girlfriends, she supposed.
She can't help but be surprised by how nice Katherine is to her. When some of the wives and girlfriends come up to introduce themselves to her and ask about her injury Katherine remains by her side, moving them along when the other get a little bit too inquisitive.
Kol plants himself on her other side just as the first whistle blows for kickoff.
The next 90 minutes are tense in the best sort of way. It comes with the territory, when two teams who are evenly matched in ability play against one another. She can't help but be drawn to the player with the number 8 jersey.
He's gorgeous. Tall and leanly muscled, his blonde hair is swept away from his face, eyes sweeping the field, taking in every aspect of the game that he can. There's an air of authority about him, like he's a man who knows exactly what he needs to do and when to do it.
The game unfolds in ebbs and flows, each play hotly contested. And the whole time she keeps her eyes on number 8, watching as he directs his team mates around the field, waiting for something.
Kol follows the line of her gaze at the beginning of the second half.
"Ah. I see you've found my brother with very little assistance." Kol nudges her with a teasing smile as she finally tears her eyes away from the game.
"That's Niklaus? Your brother?" She asks warily, because of course Kol neglected to mention that his brother was gorgeous. "You look nothing alike."
"He prefers Klaus actually. And it's mother's genes." Kol supplies. "Rebekah is the same, with the blonde hair and all."
"Looks like he's headed for a goal." Katherine points out from beside them, having remained silent up until this point in time.
Caroline turns her gaze back to the figure in the red jersey streaking towards the opposition goal with the ball at his feet.
The skill displayed is astounding, as Klaus manoeuvres around two players, jumping to avoid the tackle of another. He outstrips them all after a few moments, and seconds later the ball is thundering into the back of the net.
The box she's in is slightly more dignified, but the crowd before them erupts into screams as Klaus' team mates rush towards him in victory. He's magnified on the big screen, and he punches a fist into the air as he finally lets a smile creep across his face.
It makes him look softer, more human, and she tunes out Kol and Katherine as they discuss technique and the shot that Klaus took previously.
Klaus leads his team to victory half an hour later, and the wives and girlfriends immediately fall into excited chatter once the final whistle blows.
She turns to Kol, who seems full of energy despite the late hour.
"What now?" She asks of him, as Katherine gets to her feet and slings her bag over her shoulder.
"I'm going to head off Kol. Lovely to meet you Caroline." Katherine offers her a curt nod, which she returns in kind, watching the brunette stalk across the room towards the elevators.
"She's kind of scary." Caroline admits to Kol, who just laughs softly.
"She liked you. And she's fiercely protective when it comes to family. She and Klaus get along well and she usually tries to catch any game that she can. But to answer your question, I usually hang around and wait for Klaus. It'll take about half an hour, but if you want to head home I'll catch up with him another time."
"Don't miss spending time with your brother on my account. It's fine, really. I kind of want to meet him as well, after hearing so much about him. And seeing him play." She adds thoughtfully.
Kol looks uncomfortable.
"Caroline, I should probably tell you…"
The elevator opens with a ding and another tall, stunning, brunette saunters languidly through the doors. If she didn't know better she would say that it's Katherine coming back to pick up something she'd forgotten, but the skin tight dress betrays the other women's identity.
The woman zeroes in on Kol and for a moment scowls in displeasure. It's a micro expression, a blink and you miss it moment, and Kol looks just as enthusiastic to see the brunette as she does him.
"Tatia. What a pleasant surprise." Kol begins through gritted teeth as the other woman stops in front of them, eyes sweeping around the box in displeasure.
"They won I presume?" Tatia asks in a bored tone, inspecting her finely manicured nails.
"Yes. Two to nil if you'd care to know." Kol supplies as she gapes at the other woman, wondering how another human being can be so damn rude.
As if sensing her gaze, Tatia turns and meets her eyes, giving her a languid once over.
"Is this your new flavour of the month darling?"
Kol rolls his eyes, giving her a warning look.
"Tatia this is Caroline Forbes. She's staying with my fiancee and I for awhile while she recovers from her injury. Caroline, this is Tatia Petrova."
"Klaus' girlfriend." Tatia fills in the blanks as Kol looks uncomfortable.
Caroline can't help but arch an eyebrow in surprise at this particular piece of information, something that Kol had failed to mention earlier. She recognises Tatia now, one fourth of a girl band big over here in the UK.
"Tell him I'll be waiting in the car won't you?" Tatia turns on her heel, making a beeline for the elevator, pushing a shorter brunette out of the way.
Kol sighs, turning back towards her.
"God she's an absolute bitch." Kol pronounces with great relish. "I didn't realise that she was planing on coming tonight, I'm sorry you had to meet her in the first place."
"That's Klaus' girlfriend?" She asks incredulously, because for all of the good things that she's heard about him, she refuses to believe that he would date someone who held such disdain for other people.
"Unfortunately." Kol replies. "Rebekah and Katherine both hate her."
"And you?" She asks, sipping at the remnants of her drink.
Kol gives her a twisted smile, but before he can answer, the door on the opposite side of the room twists open and the players begin spilling into the room, dampened by the showers and with tired smiles on their faces.
Klaus is the last to enter the room, and she can see his face light up when he spots his younger brother, weaving his way through the crowd of people, stopping before Kol.
Kol pulls Klaus into a hug, clapping him on the back briefly.
"Nice game brother."
"I didn't think you were coming tonight." Klaus replies, ruffling Kol's hair playfully. "Aren't you meant to be out at Oxford?"
"Shuffled a few things around." Kol says with a laugh, stuffing his hands into his pockets. "Klaus, this is Caroline Forbes. She's staying with Bon and I for awhile."
Klaus turns his gaze on her, and she's very aware of his crystalline eyes, the barely concealed interest on his face as he takes her in from head to toe, lingering on her crutches.
"I'm sure there's an interesting story behind that." Klaus remarks lightly as she shrugs as a way of reply.
"Sports injury. It prevented me from competing in the World Championships." She remarks a little coolly as Klaus grimaces apologetically.
"My apologies. I should not have made a joke out of it. You're an athlete?"
"A gymnast." She supplies, watching as his face dawns with comprehension. "I'm hoping to be well enough to captain my team at the next Games."
She doesn't need to elaborate further, knowing that Klaus would know to what Games she's referring too. The Olympics, of course.
"Well then, I wish you a speedy recovery." Klaus inclines his head towards her, Kol watching their whole conversation unfold with barely concealed amusement.
"Yes well, speaking of recoveries, Caroline has a date with her physiotherapist tomorrow, so we'd best get going before the clock strikes midnight and she turns into a pumpkin." Kol interjects, slapping his brother on the shoulder again. "We'll see you around. Don't be a stranger." He adds to his brother a little bossily.
Klaus looks amused, but slings his sports bag over his shoulder and tosses his brother a salute.
"As you command, brother. I'd best be off as well, I'm sure the she devil is waiting for me." Klaus says, no doubt referring to Tatia's dramatic exit before hand.
Kol steers her towards the elevator with a sigh.
"Don't ask, sometimes I wonder what's going on in his head if he's stuck around her for this long."
She doesn't respond, knowing that it's not her place. They manoeuvre into the elevator carefully, and she turns.
The last thing she sees before the doors slide shut in front of her is Klaus' curious expression as he watches her go.
A/N: Okay, so I've had the idea for this AU/AH bouncing around in my head for well over a year now and I've been dying to begin writing it. I can't promise regular updates on this one due to the current craziness of my life, but as always, this will be completed.
I hope you enjoyed this first chapter! See you on the other side