the world that's waiting for you
She stands before him in all of her teenaged vampire glory, hands on her hips, toe tapping. She'd somehow found the apartment he was staying in, and she'd harassed him at his door until he'd granted her access. She's carrying a large shoulder bag; it's pink and sparkly and so Caroline that he wants to laugh.
Klaus sputters. For the first time in a long time, he's speechless, "Care to run that by me again?" he asks, a little frazzled. The blonde huffs out a breath, looking truly exasperated. The bracelet he'd given her a few days before jangles on her wrist as she dumps the pink sparkly bag onto his lap. A few books spill out of the bag, and he picks one up, examining it.
"'How To Be a Good Guy For Dummies'?" he questions in disbelief, looking up at her.
"I'm going to teach you how to be nice, whether you like it or not." she singsongs, plucking a few more books from the bag and dropping them onto the coffee table. Klaus stares down at the book in his hand, afraid his mouth is going to drop open at any moment. He's truly confused.
Caroline flits around his apartment, dusting thing off with her hands and humming to herself. She looks back at him after a few minutes, "Well?" she questions, crossing her arms over her chest and lifting her eyebrows.
Klaus stares at her, disbelief at what is happening passing over his face.
"Read it." she encourages, moving to his side and motioning for him to open the book.
Klaus does as she asks, perhaps to only humor her, but mostly because he's afraid of what she'll pull out of her bag if he doesn't.
"Caroline, have you, by any chance, altered this book in any way?" Klaus asks later that night, appearing at her desk and taking a seat like she'd invited him in or something.
Caroline blinks at him, expression neutral, "I have no idea what you're talking about." she says, smoothing her tank top down her midsection.
Klaus gives her a pointed 'yeah right' look, and licks his thumb before flicking to the very last few pages of the book. "Chapter thirty six," he reads, "Do Not Kill The Residents Of Mystic Falls." he looks at her, quirking an eyebrow and she shrugs sheepishly. He continues, "It is prudent that you, under no circumstances, try to kill anyone in Mystic Falls again. It's also important that you do not harm Caroline Forbes' friends in any way. This includes compulsion, hybrid-ism, or anything of the like." he snaps the book shut, and adds, "Your hand writing is atrocious."
Caroline looks mildly offended, "I thought you were trying to be a nice person!" she pouts, crossing her arms over her chest. His eyes flicker over her body for a moment before he's pursing his lips.
"No, you're trying to convert me to Stefan-ism, and it's not working." he reminds her.
Caroline sighs, shaking her head, "Look, I'm the only one around here who's, well, who's seen your nice side, and I think that if you showed it a little more often...we wouldn't want to kill you so much. I'm really doing this for your benefit." she says, voice chipper.
Klaus pinches the bridge of his noise, muttering a few choice swear words under his breath, "Caroline..." he sighs, "Sweet little naive Caroline, you truly are a gem. I've been killing as long as you've been alive, longer even." his eyes catch hers, and she doesn't shiver out of fear of compulsion, she shivers because she detects the pure honesty so clearly in his eyes. "And I'll keep killing long after you've forgotten me."
She speaks before her brain catches up with her, "I could never forget you." she toys with the bracelet at her wrist as she says this. Klaus' lips quirk and she blushes. She wants to smack herself for blurting that out but, thankfully, Klaus doesn't comment on it.
Instead he crosses her room towards her window, and she jumps up, catching his arm without thinking. She's pretty sure he could kill her just by looking at her, but she doesn't think he will. He likes her, for some strange reason.
"Why did you pick me?" she asks, "Why not Elena?"
Klaus blinks, "Do you want me to pick Elena?"
"No!" Caroline backtracks, "I just—why me? It's never me." she looks down, and she asks him what she's been wondering since she'd gotten the bracelet, "Are you just using me to get to Stefan? Or—or as something to hold over Tyler's head? Because if you are let me tell you something—"
He cuts her off then, placing his hand over her mouth. His skin against her lips makes her body tingle and her eyes widen when he steps closer to her, their bodies flush. "Has it ever occurred to you that I might actually like you? Not as a pawn, but as Caroline?" he questions, shaking his head at her.
He removes his hand and in a small voice, she asks, "But why?"
Klaus chuckles, and holds up the book she'd given him. She cocks her head to the side at his abstract answer. "You're quirky. It's refreshing." he says, and then he's gone.
Klaus thumbs through the stupid book, eyes flickering to the bottle of scotch he has on his coffee table. Caroline's sitting on the couch beside him, and she smacks his hand when he reaches for the bottle.
"Book first, drink later." she says. She's very irritating. She's sat here every day the entire week, just like this, ordering him to finish the books she'd gotten him. He growls at her before he turns another page. She doesn't seem to comprehend the fact that he's an Original vampire, and he could snap her like a twig. Smash her like a bug. Swat her like a fly.
Klaus considers this for a long moment, and decides he won't harm her. Mostly because she's trying, though he's not cooperating. She seems to believe that he can turn into a good person just by reading a few books, so he'll humor her for now. She'll learn that he's not easily swayed in time.
He finishes the moronic book and she beams at him. He ignores her, reaching out and grabbing the bottle of scotch, forgoing the glass and drinking straight from the bottle. She frowns, jerking it from his hands. "Nice guys aren't alcoholics."
"Is not a nice guy." Caroline quips, standing. She leaves his apartment, taking the scotch with her.
Klaus opens his eyes the next morning to a ball of fur being shoved in his face. He sits up, lashing out. The scent of Caroline's perfume and something distinctively animal assaults his nose. He drops his legs over the side of the couch, staring in disgust at the kitten Caroline's holding.
"What is that?" he asks, lip curling. The kitten is tiny, tail curled cutely, green eyes wide and observant.
Caroline strokes the kitten's black fur, and says, "This is Perseus. I found him yesterday when I was leaving your apartment." she thrusts the kitten into his face, "Isn't he cute?" she squeals.
"When do we eat him?" Klaus asks.
Caroline's eyes widen in horror, "We're not going to eat him!" she cries. "No, we're not gonna eat you, Percy." she coos to the kitten, burying her nose in Perseus' fur. He can hear the kitten purring from his seat on the couch.
"Then what are we going to do with him?" Klaus asks, confused. What's the point of having an animal if he's not going to eat it at some point? He truly will never understand American customs.
Caroline drops the kitten into his lap, sitting beside him. Klaus rears back as far away from the kitten as he can get without knocking the animal off of his lap. The kitten circles in his lap for a moment, digging his little claws into his jeans before he lays down and curls into a ball. Klaus hides a shudder.
"We're going to take care of him!" Caroline says, reaching out and petting the purring kitten. "We're gonna feed him and give him baths and-"
"We?" Klaus cuts in.
"Yes, we." Caroline rolls her eyes.
"...But why?" Klaus asks.
"Because!" Caroline cries, exasperated. "If you can take care of this kitten, you're a good guy. Good guys take care of little cats!" she throws her hands up as if it's all very obvious. Klaus isn't sure if he's slow or she's just crazy. He pokes at the kitten, eliciting a purr. "I want my friends to believe in you, too. I know they'll never like you, but maybe you can prove to them that you're not just a big, mean old Hybrid Original."
Klaus blinks, "But I am a 'big, mean old Hybrid Original'."
Caroline face palms.
Klaus stares at Perseus, arms crossed over his chest. Perseus blinks at him before he returns to licking his black fur. Cats, Klaus growls mentally, I hate them. So pushy and selfish and annoying.
Perseus is lying on the floor in the center of the apartment's kitchen while Klaus leans against the island, as far from the animal as he can get without leaving the room. He doesn't know what will happen if he takes his eyes off of the kitten.
"Klaus, what are you doing?" Caroline asks, dumping grocery bags into the island counter.
"The cat is cleaning itself in the place where I make my food." Klaus says, still staring at the kitten.
"His name is Perseus, and duh. Cats have no qualms whatsoever about invading anyone's personal space." she crouches down, petting the kitten, "Right, Percy?" the kitten meows in response.
"Isn't he adorable?" Caroline squeals, jumping back up and clapping her hands. She goes back over to the bags and pulls out and bunch of cat things that he doesn't want in his apartment.
She plays with the kitten for hours while he watches. He's not sure how this is going to make him a better person, and he's definitely questioning Caroline's sanity. She's truly odd, the teenaged vampire sitting crosslegged on the floor rolling a little purple ball to the spazzed out kitten across from her. She giggles when the kitten bats at the ball with his paw, sending the ball back to her.
Klaus' lips twitch, and damn it, at that moment he considers taking her 'lessons' to heart.
Klaus runs a hand through his short hair, grumbling to himself. Caroline tugs on his arm, leading him through the Grille. "Remember that music you were talking about?" she asks loudly over the roaring teenage crowd. It's a Friday night and they're all rambunctious and the noise reminds him of why he kills for fun.
"Yes." he answers back.
"You're about to experience it." she yells back, laughing when she gets jostled into him. Her hands fall on his shoulders, and she smiles up at him. "Lesson number four." she tells him.
Off the top of his head, he remembers the title of chapter four in his book. "Nobody Likes A Stick In The Mud." Caroline smiles wider, taking his hand and leading him towards the pulled out stage.
"What are you doing?" he asks when she lets his hand go and walks towards the stairs.
"I'm gonna sing, and you're gonna dance. With everyone. And you're gonna have fun and you're not gonna eat someone if they step on your shoes."
"But that's not-"
"It's what a nice guy would do." she says imploringly, eyebrows rising.
Klaus glares at her, pouting, "Very well." he mutters, waving her away.
She stands in front of the microphone. "Hi." she says, all big smiles and flashing teeth. The crowd yells back at her and she smiles wider. "I'm Caroline, and I'm gonna sing a song for my friend Klaus." she points to him, "He's trying to be a better man..." she trails off, meeting his gaze. Her voice softens, "...I think he's doing a great job."
Klaus swallows roughly, eyes landing on the bracelet dangling from her wrist. He still doesn't understand her. Doesn't understand her need to fix everyone, but he likes it. Likes how much she cares.
Caroline clears her throat, and she sings. She sings a song he doesn't recognize, and it's about believing in oneself or something like that. He doesn't pay attention to the words, only watches the way her lips brush together and the way she flicks the hair out of her eyes and smiles like the stage is where she belongs.
"I'm sorry." Klaus mumbles, looking down at his shoes. He feels ridiculous. And he's sure he looks it to.
Elena crosses her arms over her chest, lifting her chin.
"And?" Caroline prompts, nudging him.
Klaus looks up, sighing loudly and dramatically. "I'm sorry for killing your friends and your family and scaring the hell out of you," he finally breathes out through his teeth. He can't believe he's here right now,apologizing to Elena Gilbert. He briefly wonders if Caroline could compel him, but he quickly brushes that off because he's much too powerful for the little slip of a vampire to be able to compel him. So, he really has no one to blame for his being here but himself. Tragic.
Elena tilts her head at him before she says, "Care, can you give us a sec?" she asks, "But don't go too far, I don't trust him."
Caroline nods meekly, and gives Klaus a pointed look before she walks to the opposite end of the Grille towards the pool tables. Elena speaks as soon as Caroline is gone. "What changed you?" she asks.
"I-I have seen the light." Klaus says, eyes flickering to Caroline.
"You murdered my aunt Jenna." Elena hisses, looming closer to him. "She was all I had left. Do you know what it feels like to not have a family?"
Klaus thinks about the coffins, and answers, "Yes." without hesitation.
"Then you understand why I'm so hurt." the doppelganger rocks back on her heels. "I don't trust you. We don't trust you, and we have no idea why Caroline thinks you can change. She sees the good in everyone, no matter how bad they are." she shakes her head, and steps closer, "If you hurt her, I'll find a way to kill you." she hisses.
She walks away then, leaving a dumbfounded Klaus behind. She stops suddenly, and looks over her shoulder, "Apology not accepted." she quips, exiting the Grille.
"Elena's mad at me." Caroline sighs into the phone.
"Why?" Klaus asks, though he thinks he might already know. He sits down on his couch, Perseus immediately jumping into his lap. He scratches the cat behind his ears, and waits for Caroline's answer.
"She thinks I'm stupid...for trusting you." Caroline says. "I know-I know you're not the greatest guy ever, but you're trying." Klaus is silent, and she continues, "Do you remember what you said? When you gave me the bracelet? I-I'm only doing this because I want you to be able to look back and see that, yes, you can be human. You can feel. You can learn." she pauses, and in a small voice, adds, "You can love."
"I'm a monster, Caroline." Klaus murmurs back, running his hand over Perseus' back.
"It's not fair! Stefan-Stefan's done bad things just like you and she forgives him! She's just-she's just angry."
"I murdered her aunt. I think she has a right to be angry."
"But you're sorry...aren't you?" she asks quietly.
Klaus settles deeper into his couch. Is he sorry? He thinks he might be. He'd never realized, never truly contemplated, the pain his actions had caused. He'd never considered how wrong he was. "Yes," he answers, "yes, I'm sorry."
"Then that's good enough for me." Caroline breathes.
"They'll come around." Caroline says brightly, "They always do."
Klaus looks away from the group sitting five tables away from them; the witch, Stefan's brother, the human boy, and the doppelganger. "As if I care." he snorts.
Caroline looks up from her menu, giving him a pointed look. "You know you do. You're trying to earn their forgiveness, remember? And anyway, they didn't like Tyler at first either...if that helps."
"It doesn't." Klaus assures her.
Caroline blinks, "Where is Tyler, anyway?"
Klaus shrugs, "Feeling sorry for himself somewhere."
Caroline's mouth drops open, "You're his sire! You're supposed to care!" she cries. She jumps up, dropping her menu. She grabs his hand, dragging him out of the Grille. "C'mon, we're going to go find him, and you're going to talk to him."
They search for half an hour, and find him sitting under a tree by the town hall. Caroline drops Klaus' hand, and motions for him to go on.
Klaus approaches the hybrid slowly. "Tyler." he says, and the boy jumps, staring up at him. His eyes are rimmed with red, and he stares at Caroline like he can't believe she's alive. Klaus realizes he probably didn't know she was. He's wearing the same clothes he'd been wearing when he'd bit her. He surprises himself by feeling a little guilty. "Get up. Let's go for a walk."
Tyler stands unsteadily, and Klaus places what he hopes is a reassuring hand on his shoulder and leads him away.
"I don't know what you're doing, or how you're doing it, but I'm on board." Elena says to Caroline the next day.
Caroline closes her locker, and turns to her friend. "Yeah?"
"Yeah, it's really weird, but...he seems nicer. You know, less scary and less Original like." Elena shrugs, "How'd you do it?"
Caroline beams, "I got him a cat."
Elena gives her a funny look.
"No, I'm serious."
"I've been thinking..." Caroline starts, scratching Perseus.
"Never a good sign." Klaus quips, smirking.
Caroline laughs a little, "Anyway, I think you're ready to, you know, be good. There are some loose ends- okay, there are a lot of loose ends -but we're getting there." she smiles at him. "You don't need me anymore." she plays with her bracelet absently.
Klaus just laughs, shaking his head. "I'm going for a walk." he says instead of telling her what he really wants to say. Caroline blinks in confusion as he stands. Before he leaves, he points to a black box on the coffee table. "I bought you a present."
Caroline tears the box open as he leaves, and pulls out a book. "'How To Know He's In Love With You For Dummies'," she reads out loud.
She drops the book in shock.