This fic was written for Biana Delacroix (aka hummingbirds-and-champagne on tumblr). She wrote one of my favorite fics ever Renegade Knights, which I highly recommend to anyone who likes Koroline friendship (or just excellent writing). This fic will be around five or six chapters and is mostly done.
Thank you so much to garglyswoof and chica-cherry-lola for help with this!
"Got a minute, love?"
Caroline's head snapped up so fast that she almost expected it to crack, her eyes wide. She hadn't heard his voice in years, but she remembered it perfectly, the accent and slight growl making feelings stir inside of her that she'd been trying desperately to push away despite them surfacing constantly in her dreams.
He looked just the way she remembered, if not even more attractive. He had the same stubble and dimpled smile, but his hair was matted and sticking to his face, a smear of rusty red dark against his cheekbone.
"Whose blood is that?"
"That's your first question?" he asked, his eyebrows raising as he walked to her bookshelf, reaching to touch the small porcelain hummingbird ornament he'd bought for her their first Christmas together. She was out of her chair and at his side to slap his hand away, but not before he smeared the blood on his hand over the beak.
"Just admiring your interesting choice of decoration, sweetheart."
"Why are you here?" she asked flatly. "I thought I made it pretty obvious that I want nothing to do with you and your minions."
She half expected him to make a quip about her not being happy to see him, but his body tensed, his brow furrowing slightly as his shoulders dropped. "I need your help."
Only the countless nights spent teasing bits of his life from his lips let her hear the fragility under his words. Caroline's eyes widened, her lungs suddenly free of air. She gathered herself quickly, though, not wanting to give an inch. "Why would I help you?"
"The blood is Aurora's," he said, dodging her question by answering an earlier one, and she frowned.
Klaus had been briefly involved with Aurora de Martel after Caroline had left him (not that she'd kept tabs on him or anything), and she'd known it was destined to fail, especially since Aurora was the police chief's daughter and Klaus didn't seem particularly attached. If anything, he was just trying to piss off the entire police force by parading in front of them a free man as the crimes that were obviously linked back to him but unprovable piled up around them.
He did that sort of thing for funsies.
It made no sense for Klaus to kill her, though. Murder meant complications, tying loose ends, and he wouldn't be wandering around covered in blood if he'd planned it. Klaus wasn't the sort of criminal who made it easy for the authorities. Still, she felt like she had to check.
"What? You...Did you...?"
"Of course not. She wasn't exactly relevant in the long-term. We parted ways a year or so ago, and I'd honestly nearly forgotten about her," he said grumpily. "Unfortunately, I sincerely doubt the authorities will care. Once they find the body they'll just be happy to have something to pin on me."
"Klaus," Caroline groaned, not quite sure what she was scolding him for but keeping the tone anyway.
"It's such a perfect headline: Suspected crime lord convicted for killing police chief's daughter," he spat bitterly, ignoring that she'd spoken, and Caroline winced.
"I'm not sure if I can—"
"Of course you can," he said, though there was none of the playful baiting sparkle in his eyes that she was used to, only a pleading resignation. "Caroline..."
"My job is to expose crimes, not help cover them up," she said, her voice wavering.
It wasn't strictly the case and he knew it. You couldn't be the best private investigator in New York—state, not city, thank you very much—without getting your hands a little dirty. Thorough, efficient, and a lawyer's best friend when they needed a little extra for their case. Sure, she didn't go out of her way to help the 'bad guys', but occasionally someone would saunter into her office with a criminal defense case that they needed help with. Whether they suspected the client had skeletons in the closet they weren't sharing or that the prosecution's evidence might have some holes, she was always happy to help...for the right price.
Well, she gave Enzo and Bonnie BFF discounts, but it didn't have much of an effect on her bottom line.
Klaus gave her a long look, clearly aware that she was close to cracking. She looked away, knowing that if she met his eyes she'd be completely screwed.
"And you will be exposing a crime. You'll be finding her killer."
As much as she hated to acknowledge it, he had a point, and she looked up to see a familiar dimpled grin he'd always worn when he sensed that she was about to give in to something he wanted.
"Fine. Now get that dumb smirk off your face and hold still while I get a towel. I'm not letting you smear blood all over my office."
"Don't," she hissed again as she walked out the door, already regretting agreeing to help.
All she had to do was keep her legs closed, her emotions concealed, and her brain functioning. Unfortunately, being in Klaus's presence was not conducive to any of those things, but hopefully he'd be too distracted by a possible murder charge to try to push her skirt up and take her over some dingy bar table while they were looking for evidence (not that she was speaking from experience or anything), or worm his way back into her heart.
Well, to be fair he'd never really left.
Sure, the dreams of his stubble against her inner thigh were frustrating, but worse were the vivid memories that occasionally cropped up when she least expected them. The ghost of his arms wrapped around her when they cuddled in bed, the scent of his cologne, the sound of his laugh. She'd jerked awake before with the answers to years-old flashcards from the memories of long nights he'd spent quizzing her for her tests on the tip of her tongue. No matter how hard she tried to shake him, she still craved everything about him, missed the easy way he made her feel safe and wanted with just a look.
She steeled herself as she walked back to her office with the first aid kit and a few damp dishtowels, and when she returned she saw that he'd peeled off his blood-stained shirt, the cloth a crumpled pile on her desk.
"You know that'll have to be disinfected, right?"
"Was I supposed to keep it on? That rather defeats the point of wiping the blood off, doesn't it?"
She swallowed as he stretched. Taking off the shirt left his torso clean, the dried brown smears creeping up from his wrists fading abruptly where the edges of his sleeves had been, and she had to resist the urge to grab his arm and gently clean it herself, the reaction still ingrained in her despite how long it had been since she'd done it. Instead, she held out the towels and averted her eyes as she opened the first aid kit to get some antibacterial wipes.
Hopefully the case would be over quickly.
"Now, sweetheart. It's nothing you haven't seen before."
"I've seen roadkill before. That doesn't mean I want to see it again," she muttered, putting on the latex gloves from the kit and picking up his bloody henley, stuffing it in the plastic bag from the take-out she'd bought for lunch and tying it tightly.
He chuckled, and she chanced a peek at him through long lashes, catching a glimpse of his lean muscled chest and a familiar tattoo before he caught her eye and gave her a dimpled grin, his eyes sparkling. "I've missed your sharp tongue, love."
"Are you hurt?" she asked, beginning to wipe the desk down, trying to rid the wood of any evidence.
"No," he said, cleaning his hands on the wet cloth. "Well, I was drugged, but no physical injuries."
Her eyebrows crept up to her hairline as she processed, her hand stopping in its movements. Klaus was notoriously paranoid and never ate anything unless he personally cooked it (a skill she'd greatly benefited from as a terrible cook herself). He was almost never taken by surprise, and though he'd always wanted her to stay the night when they weren't living together, it had been almost a year before she knew for sure that he slept while he held her. "You were drugged?"
"Yes. Someone in my inner circle, I suspect. There are any number of possibilities, but I wouldn't be surprised if one of them either defected to Silas's little ring of idiots or sold out to the police for witness protection. Not to worry, love. They'll be taken care of as soon as we unravel this little mystery, hmm?"
"Yeah," she muttered, her mind already racing with possibilities. "So you don't remember what happened?"
"Not after it took effect. I woke up in a hotel room with Aurora's bloody corpse on top of me and a knife on my bedside table that I suspect my killer made sure was covered by my fingerprints. I hung the do not disturb sign so that no one would find the crime scene for awhile, carried her out, dumped the body a few blocks away, and came straight here."
"Are you sure it wasn't something that made you do things after you blacked out?"
"I would know if I killed her, Caroline," Klaus said irritably. "And if I had, you must know me well enough to know that I would never have been stupid enough to leave evidence."
It was true and she knew it. There had been a reason Klaus had never been convicted despite his massive death count. He was an expert at leaving no trace of his involvement.
"Well let's take a vial of your blood first thing then and I'll ship it to the lab first thing tomorrow. Whatever it is will hopefully still be in your system," she said, trying to think of anything else they could do with the immediate evidence.
"Of course," he said. "Good thinking, love."
She nodded absently, still coming up with questions. "Why would anyone pick her to kill then? If you'd broken up?"
"Because the chief will try harder to find her and be more likely to push for a harsher punishment. It's personal."
"Okay, so what's your motive supposed to be?"
"I have no idea. Jilted lover or a message to the police force, I suppose," he said, and she had the distinct feeling there was something he wasn't telling her.
She turned to grab a recorder and blank tapes from her supply cabinet, hoping he hadn't read into her reactions too much. The last thing she needed was for him to think he had a chance. If he sensed any willingness to give in she had no doubt he'd pounce, and she wasn't sure she'd be able to resist if he did.
Being with Klaus was dangerous, not only because he was good with a gun and ruler of the city's seedy underbelly, but because he had enemies who were almost, if not just as capable, all of whom seemed to have an unnatural fondness for playing with their food and drawing out their victims' pain. They all hated Klaus, and she had narrowly avoided being collateral damage when they'd been together.
Still, she wasn't about to let him go to prison. While he definitely deserved it in the grand scheme of things, he didn't deserve to be pinned for a crime he didn't commit (though she could appreciate the irony). Even if she could stomach him going to prison, the criminals waiting with baited breath to see if they'd finally have their chance to take over were infinitely more dangerous for the city. Klaus was murderous and vengeful, definitely had a hand in every criminal operation in most of the city in some way or another no matter how heinous, but he was at least logical and rational. He knew that picking off innocent people for fun didn't have a purpose and would hurt him in the long run, generally kept his kills and schemes limited to people who provoked him, and was therefore by far the saner option.
Well, at least in her opinion.
So really, it wasn't for Klaus. It was for the good of everyone, and Klaus getting off the hook was just a natural side effect... No ulterior motive to be found.
"I'll need you to tell me everything you can remember from tonight, and I do mean everything. The routes you drove or walked, places you went, people you talked to... you know the drill."
She glanced back at Klaus to see him nodding, and her tongue darted out to wet her lips before she could restrain herself at the easy way he was sitting back in the chair. The bloodstained jeans and leather necklaces shouldn't have been sexy, but somehow...
She shook herself, opening her file drawer a bit harder than necessary, a screeching clack echoing in the room as she withdrew a blank manila folder and wrote 'Douchebag Ex' in neat cursive on the tab.
"Well, I'm flattered, love. That's certainly a step up from manipulative murderous fian—"
"Tell me everything," she interrupted, turning on the recorder, refusing to let herself be baited into rehashing their break-up. She saw his lips curl into a smirk and inwardly kicked herself, belatedly realizing that he'd wanted to see whether she had any reaction at all.
And there was the opening she'd been trying so hard not to give him...
He didn't comment though, instead launching into a detailed account of his day. He knew exactly what she was looking for—he'd spent enough time here while she ranted about unhelpful clients that expected her to solve cases with nothing to go on, after all—and she soon had a list of places he'd been and people he'd spoken to. Caroline peppered him with questions as they backed up to the last few weeks. Interviews took forever, and the way she kept catching herself watching his lips as he talked made it feel like it was taking even longer.
When they were done, she shut off the recorder and stuck it in her locked file drawer, glancing up at Klaus as she closed it, suddenly not quite knowing what to say. "Do you want me to like, call you a cab or anything?"
"Do you normally take a cab back to your flat?"
"Well I obviously can't stay at mine. Once the police find the body they'll be after me, and I don't know which of my men I can trust at the moment. I also think that taking a cab shirtless in blood-stained jeans might make me memorable, so I do hope I'm not intruding..." he looked at her with what could only be described as puppy eyes.
They held each other's stare for what felt like years before Caroline huffed, standing up and grabbing her purse, mentally thanking every deity that her office didn't have security cameras. "Fine," she muttered. "But you stay on the couch and I'm not going to cook for you. Got it?"
"It's a pity. I've been craving burnt lasagna," he drawled.
"I hope Tyler tries to eat you."
"He always liked me," Klaus said, sounding genuinely offended.
"He probably won't remember you, and he usually doesn't like people who aren't me."
"Ah, yes. Like that Stefan bloke."
"How do you know about Stefan?" Caroline asked slowly.
"How do you know about Aurora?" he asked with a flash of a smirk, and she flushed slightly.
"Because I go to the police station every other day and her dad is a whiner."
"Ah, well I just stalked you the old-fashioned way. I was worried you'd get tangled with the wrong sort."
"You are the 'wrong sort'," she said, mimicking his accent horribly, and he gave her a small smile that made her insides twist.
"But I was never dangerous to you, sweetheart."
She felt her heart soften in spite of her best efforts, the way he was looking at her making her breath catch, and she hated how easily he could get to her.
"Whatever," she muttered, walking towards her office door.
"You forgot to finish disinfecting your desk, love."
She resisted the urge to pitch her stapler at his head as she stalked back, stuffing the wipes in the plastic bag with his shirt and re-tying the top so that she could keep it away from anything that might interfere with possible evidence it when she got home.
What an ass.
Thank you so much for reading! What do you think so far? Any favorite lines? Any predictions? Let me know in a review! It's the only way I know what you guys think ;)