Disclaimer: don't own, only borrowing.
A/N: My apologies for the wait in between updates. My beta and I have had a rough past few months, and the story just wasn't flowing. I didn't want to update before I was sure on the direction I was taking – which has shifted to a more AU plot, more focused on Klaroline, yeah – and happy with the product. I got the sense that readers weren't as jazzed up about the story as they had been, and the lack of feedback made me rethink some things. Part of my writer's block was due to watching TVD and becoming increasingly disappointed with what was on the screen in front of me. There were still parts I loved, but… I digress. On with the chapter. It's at least a longer one, so you can't be too mad at me for the wait. Enjoy!
Born to Die
…Feet don't fail me now
Take me to the finish line
Oh my heart it breaks every step that I take
But I'm hoping at the gates,
They'll tell me that you're mine…
"Where ya going, Barbie?" I hear Damon's uncanny, derisive tone calling from behind me. I grunt in annoyance, spinning around on my heels to face him. My eyes narrow in on him guardedly, searching for anything he might be able to use as a stake.
"I've got nothing," he shows me his empty hands, demonstrating innocence and chuckling arrogantly at my concern.
"What do you want?" I ask, lamely. I can think of a million other things I'd rather be doing right now than having an impromptu tête-à-tête with Damon Salvatore.
"You seem tense..." He observes with a smirk, eyebrow cocked in consideration as he studies me. For a brief moment, I think he might try to massage my shoulders, but he doesn't. "Is the dream house not so dreamy when Ken's not around?" he asks in the smuggest of tones.
I want to rip his head off, snarling at him I answer with the first thing that comes to mind. "If you're referring to Klaus you can put a sock in it!"
Unfortunately this only instigates him further and he moves closer. "Don't think I didn't notice him blowing you that kiss before leaving last night," he drawls, pointing a finger in my direction as if he'd just solved the crime of the century. "And you, my dear…blushed." He adds, conspiratorially, and smiles when I react.
"I did no such thing, and you know it!" I deny his accusation, doing my best to sound sincere. Truth is, I had blushed; but it doesn't change anything. "Seriously Damon, don't go there. I'm not in the mood." I exhale tiredly before turning to leave.
He lets me get a few feet away – giving me a false sense of victory – before crashing back into me. "Do you have a death wish?" he growls, all playfulness vanishing as he grips my arm and pulls me back to his side.
Death wish? I look him square in the eyes as I repeat the question in my mind for a third time. Seriously, this is the same jackass who literally tried to stake me less than 24 hours ago, and now he's asking me if I have a death wish? Unbelievable!
I shake my head in disbelief, snorting from the absurdity of it all as he stands there with nothing to say. "You're kidding me, right? You do realize how unbelievably idiotic that sounds coming from you. I mean, of all people, my god!" I literally stomp the ground in annoyance.
"Do I need to remind you that Klaus leaves a trail of death and destruction wherever he goes?" he lectures me as though I'm a child, temper flaring up with each giggle that escapes my mouth. I just can't help it. It is beyond absurd to be getting a lesson in morality from a man who not long ago thought it fun to play me like a chew toy.
Without warning, he takes his hand off of my arm and grabs me by the throat, shoving me up against the nearest tree. I can feel the bark digging into my back as he breathes out angrily. Well that got my attention, I suppose. A little dramatic, but none the less, effective.
"What makes you think he won't do the same to you once he's gotten his fill?"
His words hit me like a slap to the face, and I struggle harder against his grip, refusing to give up despite knowing I'm no match for him. "Like you did?" I choke out bitterly, practically spitting in his face.
He loosens his grip slightly, eyeing me up and down. "Is that what this is about?" he wants to know, clearly amused that I would bring up the subject.
Arrogant ass! I scream inwardly, as the shit-eating grin forms on his face.
"Oh get over yourself, Damon!" I squirm out of his trenches, shoving at his chest when I move forward. "There is nothing romantic going on between Klaus and me, and even if there was – which there isn't – you'd be way out-of-line!" I pause for a moment, not wanting to spiral into full-blown theatrics. "As far as I'm concerned you were no better than him up until a few months ago, and two months of good behavior does not a savior make! You've done despicable, unforgivable things, and so has Stefan and…" I trail off, not wanting the say the last part, because it makes it that much more real. "…so have I." I finally manage to say the words, lowering my eyes shamefully at the same time.
I look back up after another moment and see his crystal blue ones staring back at me. He's trying to hide it – admittedly, he's doing a decent job – but I can tell my words affected him. Sure, he's a giant dickwad 99% of the time. I think most everyone in Mystic Falls, save Elena and his own brother on certain occasions, would attest to that. But he does have his moments, sometimes.
As much as Damon tries to act all tough and cool, he'll slip up every once in a while, proving otherwise. Maybe not in my case, personally, but I've seen it. He cares. You don't spend a century and a half pining over someone if you don't care. Trust me. You just don't. He knows it...I know it, Katherine sure as hell knew it, and Elena would have to be deaf and blind not to as well.
"Just don't do anything stupid." He replies sternly, brushing me off before sauntering away. For whatever reason – maybe because I feel like I've cheated death three times now in the last 72 hours, this time sans Klaus – I can't stop the triumphant grin from spreading.
…Walking through the city streets
Is it by mistake or design
I feel so alone on the Friday nights
Can you make it feel like home, if I tell you you're mine
It's like I told you honey…
I spend the rest of my afternoon doing mindless tasks, like cleaning the house, watering my mom's plants and fixing a fancy dinner that I no longer need to survive. No matter what I do, nothing seems to get my mind off of what happened earlier. Being all alone doesn't make it any easier.
As much as I hate to admit it, it was sort of nice having Klaus around. Even Rebekah, obnoxious as she was at first, had been pretty entertaining. Having them around made things, I dunno…interesting, like I was living in some weird vampire soap opera.
Thing is, it's not like I'm used to having a house full of people around me. Believe it or not, an empty house is actually the norm for Fort Forbes. So why do I feel so lonely all of a sudden?
I guess usually I'd have cheerleading practice, or the planning of another school function to worry about. Or more recently, I'd be sneaking away to tongue wrestle with Matt – oh how I miss those lips! If all else failed, I'd always had the company of Elena and/or Bonnie to pass the time with. But all of these things seem like distant memories now, a completely different lifetime.
For the first time, in a really long time, I feel truly alone. Truth be told, the only thing keeping me even remotely sane is a constant stream of utter nonsense on MTV. Yes, the knowledge that my existence has yet to spiral into complete oblivion and disgrace keeps me going. Still one can only survive so many episodes of 'Jersey Whore' before their quality of living begins to plummet.
For real, it can't be healthy that I know how many pickles Snookie can cram into her mouth!
I decide after watching my 5th episode that it is time to head to bed. It's relatively early for a Saturday night, but I could use to catch up on my beauty rest, and god knows it's better than this!
Just as I'm about to shut off the TV and head upstairs, I hear my phone beep next to me. I grab it from the end table where it's charging and look at the screen expectantly, hoping it's my mom. 'You have 1 new message,' it reads, but I don't recognize the number.
Maybe she doesn't have her phone with her? I rationalize, eagerly swiping at the screen to unlock it. It's not my mom.
Come to the boarding house. We need to have a little chat. – Bekah
…Lost but now I am found
I can see but once I was blind
I was so confused as a little child
Trying to take what I could get
Scared that I couldn't find
All the answers honey…
I continue gliding across the wet grass, reaching the stone walkway of the Salvatore's boarding house with ease. Admittedly, the change in scenery isn't completely unwelcome – after all, I had been bored out of my mind when I received the invite – but the little blood slut could have at least shown some respect and asked in person. Even if she had been rightfully pissed-off from earlier, a phone call wouldn't have killed her, would it?
What is it with these ancient vampires, so damn pushy and demanding? I grumble to myself.
Figures all I get is a cryptic text message telling me to come over for a chat! What does that even mean? Am I really supposed to believe a thousand year old vampire wants to shoot the shit with boring ol' me? Not likely...
For a split second fear takes over, and I wonder if this is all some sort of set-up, a trap.
Could I be walking into an ambush right now and not even know it?
My stomach drops at the thought as my mind plays out all the possible scenarios, each one gorier than the last. I can just see it now, getting stabbed in the chest as soon as I cross over the threshold. Wouldn't that be a fantastic way to go out!
Fortunately, before my imagination can fully sink into despair, I see Rebekah's golden locks greeting me from the doorway. There's no turning back now.
"You came," she muses, playing with a piece of her hair as she directs me in. I immediately look around, eyes darting from corner to corner uneasily.
She smiles in amusement, after sensing my restlessness. "Damon is out, Stefan, as you already know, is with Nik, and Elena is busy pouting upstairs over an old photograph she found of Stefan, Nik and I," she explains nonchalantly, as I make a mental note to bring up the last subject later. "I suppose you are wondering why I asked you here?" She asked with a sly smirk.
I gulp, nervously before responding. "Listen, if this is about what I said this afternoon, I'm sorry. I was upset and took it out on you..." I tell her a bit frantically. Her smile fades, and I worry that I've done more damage than good by reminding her.
"You were quite rude." She confirms, lifting her head up slightly in defiance, only to lower it again to my level, the tiniest of smiles on her face, threatening to ruin her angry facade. "Though I may have been a tad insensitive telling you the truth of your friends' intentions so callously," she adds in good-naturedly.
I take her lighthearted response as an unspoken "apology accepted" and allow myself to relax into the conversation. Maybe too relaxed my inner voice states as I start to fill in the uncomfortable silence with my babbling. "Well, I shouldn't have said anything about your family. Really! No matter what, families are always off limits," I tell her knowingly.
Her face scrunches up in confusion, and I feel compelled to elaborate. "Let's just say you learn to live by that philosophy on the playground when your dad leaves your mom for another man." I let out an awkward laugh, realizing what I'd just shared. For her part, she seems to take the news surprisingly well and nods slightly. "And, you were right, I don't know anything about them," I add as we walk further into the house, heading towards the den. "Your family that is… But I'd like to."
She stops and turns to face me once we reach our destination. I can tell she is torn by my statement, and quite honestly I'm a bit stunned myself. Do I really want to know more about her family? The diabolical duo that has laid waste to centuries of unsuspecting, naive individuals just like me I'm sure. No. I shouldn't want to know, but then again, I've never been one to shy away from situations like this. It's sort of my thing. Make-shift counselor, if you will.
By the look in her eyes, it isn't easy for her to just open up to me, someone she barely knows – assuming that is what she's contemplating doing – but I am likely the closest thing she has to a girlfriend. It is a scary thought considering she has lived for over thousand years.
Taking control of the situation, I quickly make my way over to Damon's stash of whiskey and pour two glasses. I grasp the bottle in one hand and move to her side, handing over one of the drinks. We both sit down simultaneously on the couch, and I place the liquor on the table in front of us before angling my body in her direction.
"I have been told I'm a good listener..." I encourage her, lifting up my glass as if toasting the honor. "And, alcohol always helps."
She seems interested in my offer, taking a swig of the amber liquid in her glass casually before speaking a moment later. "We weren't always like this you know, killers…" she says almost reminiscently, as though the mere thought was enough to bring her back to another time and place. I sit patiently, listening on as she talks of her family – how close they once were, with the exception of Klaus and their father, Mikael – and the fateful night her youngest brother was brutally killed. "Everything changed after that," she says.
Despite the vivid picture she's painted for me, I can only imagine the nightmare it must have been to live through – dying by a blade yielded viciously by their own father; only to reawaken terrified, confused and forced to drink the blood of an innocent girl.
And I thought my turning was tragic? I mentally admonish myself.
Sadly that was only the beginning. It's what she says next that really tears into me:
"You remind me of her, a little, maybe..." she admits, with what I have to believe is sadness, a hint of apprehension and fear under the surface, but that's all she says on the subject.
Snapping her focus back onto the tale, she continues. "The following morning Nik found my mother dead in her bed, a gaping wound in her chest." My eyes widen in horror as the information registers. "She was still conscious when he found her, just barely though. By the time Nik woke the others it was too late. Mikael, of course, was long gone by then, and the rest of my family scattered soon after. Nik stayed to help me bury her, and Elijah too joined us. From that moment, for centuries after, we had only each other. I swore that day, as did Elijah, that I would never turn my back on Nik…"
Rebekah pauses, almost painfully, and I rethink back to her reveal of Klaus's parentage earlier, how their mother had somewhat abandoned him, using the curse to keep his werewolf side dormant as protection. Something was off. I just can't figure out what. None of that matters now though, looking at the girl sitting next to me. She was clearly fighting some serious inner demons.
"We broke our promise..." she cracks, and I think I'm following her train of thought, Elijah and Katerina, she and Stephan. "We did the one thing we said we never would, and for what?" she questions dejectedly, turning her head away in disgrace.
It takes me a moment to recognize her genuine confusion and shame, but the message is clear. "You did it for love," I answer her in typical Caroline Forbes, fairytale believing, true love conquers all preaching, fashion, as if it were the most obvious thing ever. By her lack of reaction, clearly I am both naive and wrong.
Her loyalties to Klaus, while thorny at best, have never appeared more absolute or misguided than they do now.
"You fell in love." I tell her again, this time with slightly more emphasis. "That's nothing to be ashamed of! If anyone should feel guilty it's Klaus. He had no right to make you choose like that!"
I place my hand on her arm, comfortingly, trying my best to be supportive. Regrettably, the following seven words roll off my tongue before I can stop myself.
"Has he really never fallen in love?" I ask, as a strange sense of disappointment takes up residence in my chest.
Where did that come from? I quickly shoo the depressing thought aside and pull my head up. At the same time, Rebekah turns toward me, and I take in the new expression she's wearing. She's smiling, but not in a good way. While innocent enough on first glance, there is an air of something incredibly wicked behind her amusement. It raises a chill down my spine.
"You really don't get it do you?" she remarks in disbelief, her expression turning darker. "Love is a vampire's greatest weakness...my brother cannot afford to be weak," she adds defiantly.
"But…" I start to argue, only to be cut off a second later.
"You wanted to know why I asked you here?" she looks at me for validation, and I reluctantly nod. "Well this is why…I love my brother, and I love my family. Nik's fascination with you, however short-lived it may be, poses a threat. Last night, he chose to put my family in danger to save your life. Do you see the problem?"
I have no words as the fear washes over me. Instead, I close my eyes, half-expecting her to do the honor of killing me right then and there. Slowly her pent up anger begins to fade, and I find the courage to re-open one eye. She's smirking at me.
"Killing you would only make matters worse," she sighs, as if reading my mind. "Besides the impediment your presence has on my brother's decision-making skills aside, I find you mostly harmless and genuinely likeable."
"Um…" I gulp, taken aback by her blunt honesty; that is one thing both she and Klaus share. "I'm not sure if I should be offended, flattered or just plain scared." I laugh nervously. "But either way, I don't think it's as dire as you're making it out to be. I heard him myself, 'I'm just a means to an end.'" I say trying my best imitation of her brother.
"Pfft," she practically blows me away with the force of her breath. "Don't be ridiculous. What means? What purpose, would you serve in my brother's plans if not of the personal variety? You are an infant by our standards, with no other magical skills that I am aware of. Honestly," she shakes her head in disbelief, "if I thought for even one second that my brother had become delusional enough to consider you an asset, I would be forced to take far more drastic measures. No. He saved your life on his own accord, because he wanted to. Exactly why he felt compelled to do so, I may never know, but I can say this with absolute certainty, under no circumstances were his intentions strategic."
"Okay," I exhale dramatically, not knowing what else to say. How awkward. What else do you say to that? On one hand she basically implied...no, scratch that, she declared me useless; and on the other hand, if I'm not mistaken, she suggested that Klaus has feelings for me, real feelings. .
Lucky, or unlucky, for me – I'm still not convinced I'll make it out of here alive at this point – there is a faint creaking noise coming from the foyer. Rebekah immediately moves in the direction of the sound, leaving me no time to ponder my fate. Out of instinct, I follow her, stopping short when I see that the unannounced visitor is Bonnie.
Right as I make it around the corner into the room, Elena comes bounding down the stairs in a panic. "Don't hurt her!" she cries from halfway down the staircase. Without hesitation Rebekah pins Bonnie against the wall, and Elena pleads again. "Please, she's only here to see me."
Rebekah tilts her head, the corner of her mouth turning up in a devilish grin as she watches Elena try to catch her breath. "And I should care, why?" she asks boldly. "My orders were to keep you safe. Perhaps I see the witch as a hazard to your health? After all, she was involved in an attempt to literally stab her best-friend in the back," she gestures toward me casually. "Was she not?"
I look toward Bonnie first and then Elena, expecting one of them to deny the accusation. To my disappointment, neither says anything. That pretty much says it all. At least it should. I feel my stomach curl at the realization, and my heart breaks into what seems like a million pieces. I can't remember the last time I've felt so alone, so betrayed. The feeling I had earlier was nothing compared to this.
"How could you?" I struggle to control my temper, holding back a wave of burning tears in the process.
I manage to keep it together just long enough to grab the bottle of whiskey from the other room and run out the door. I take one last painful glance in their direction before sprinting off. As soon as I am out of earshot, I collapse to my knees and take out my anger on the ground beneath me. I chug the remaining liquid in one desperate gulp – about half a bottle's worth – before chucking it violently against a nearby tree.
…Don't make me sad, don't make me cry
Sometimes love is not enough and the road gets tough
I don't know why
Keep making me laugh
Let's go get high
The road is long, we carry on
Try to have fun in the meantime…
Before I can think better of it I find myself walking – stumbling rather – into the Grille. Nothing seems out of the ordinary; quite the opposite really. By all accounts, it seems like a typical Saturday night, filled with the regular patrons. There are teenagers and college kids by the pool tables, older couples sitting by the fireplace, and the crowd with whom I will soon be joining: the bitter, depressed, drunks leaning up against the bar.
I take a step forward, moving about the room in a way that is painfully slow compared to the manic tracks I had been making in the forest. Reenacting that wouldn't exactly be the best way not to draw attention to myself though would it?
I only make it a few paces before I see him standing in the corner taking a couple's order. Even through hazy, drunken eyes, finding Matt in a crowd is like finding a glowing light in the dark. It's just entirely too easy and ironically cruel. I head straight to the bar, purposely picking up my speed, so that we won't make eye contact.
Before I have the chance to get situated in my seat and order, the bartender is greeting me with a drink – exactly how I would have asked for it, right down to the three maraschino cherries.
"I didn't order this." I eye her suspiciously, and she smiles back at me like a teenager at a Joe Jonas concert.
"Compliments of the gentleman over there," she explains dutifully, pointing behind me.
Despite my better judgment, I make the mistake of following her finger. Sure enough, the "gentleman" in question is none other than Klaus, and he is predictably awaiting my reaction with an obnoxious (oh so sexy) smirk on his face.
I cannot deal with this right now! I huff out in frustration, rolling my eyes and sliding back to my original position facing the bar.
Naturally, my first instinct is to refuse the drink and ignore him. He'll give up sooner or later, right? I tell myself. Just wait out the storm.
I do this pretty well…for a while; each time I turn down a drink I'm filled with a sick and twisted sense of pride. Unfortunately, it becomes quite clear that with Klaus there's no such thing as waiting out the storm! Nope, he is the storm. Instead of giving up like any normal guy would, he insists on sending that poor waitress back with more and more drinks, all of which I am forced to decline on principle.
By the third or fourth attempt, I've learned the girl's life story, and it isn't a particularly charmed one at that. Her name is Tabitha (Tabby for short, or as the mean kids used to call her…Tubby). She's from Pensacola, Florida, is a single mother with a five year old son, and most importantly, compelled beyond recognition. She won't remember a damn thing tomorrow. I suppose that is for the best, considering.
I end up caving on the fifth or seventh attempt; I can't even keep up anymore! As a courtesy, I hold up the glass in his direction and smile before taking the first sip.
Oh shit! I curse inwardly, almost dropping the glass as I attempt to make eye-contact with Klaus and instead find Matt's beady little eyes staring back. Well, I think it is safe to say Matt knows I'm here. At least that's one charade I no longer have to worry about.
Judging by the daggers he's currently sending my way, he isn't too keen on me being here. I have to wonder whether this new-found anger is due to my interacting with the town's most recent psychopath (and I say recent because, let's face it, Klaus isn't the first, and he likely won't be the last) or our untimely breakup. I'd like to think it's the latter, but that might be pushing it. I'll settle for a little bit of both.
There. I reassure myself once Klaus gives me the nod-smirk thing that only he can pull off. Now that he sees that I've accepted it, he can go back to doing whatever it is he was doing in the first place…before he started bothering me.
But you like it. There goes the little annoying voice again. I did it to spare Tabitha's legs! I argue back.
The solid conviction in my rebuttal soothes me for the moment, but I know it isn't the whole truth. Deep down, there was always a small part of me that wanted to take the drink. Hell, there's still an eensie-weensie part of me that wants to walk right on over there, push him up against the wall and have him take me right here in front of everybody. It's the part of me that is completely reckless and will probably get me really dead one of these days. That's why I don't listen to that part of me, and instead focus on spinning the coaster in front of me.
My peace, if that's what you want to call it, is short-lived. Before I've even finished the drink in my hand good ol' Tab is back at my side grinning like a buffoon. This time she feels the need to impress up me, "how lucky I am to have caught the eye of such a charming and handsome man." I nearly spit out my drink at that one. Lucky, indeed. If only she knew, really knew what he was capable of.
…Come on take a walk on the wild side
Let me kiss you hard in the pouring rain
You like your girls insane
Choose your last words,
This is the last time
Cause you and I
We were born to die…
After swallowing the last bit of my drink, I move toward the exit, wishing to avoid Matt at all cost. This leaves me with the only other viable path, one which happens to lead me, by design of course, straight into Klaus.
As I get closer to him, I feel my body slowing down. If I didn't know any better, I might wonder if I'd involuntarily shifted into some sort of freaky Klaus-autopilot. Maybe I am? It would explain the compulsion I feel to stop in front of him, to look into his beautiful, crystal blue eyes.
When I do, it's like my entire core is taken over by this strange, almost transcendent sensation. As if, in that moment, I have the power to reach through centuries of carefully constructed walls and into his soul. It's more than bizarre, but also completely intoxicating in a destructive way.
The first thing I notice is the pain. It is excruciating, almost otherworldly, and as I hold his gaze I can sense it with every fiber of my being. It consumes me in an instant. My heart suddenly feels too heavy, and all I want to do is look away, anything to make the burning stop.
Despite the obvious contradiction, it feels like he's trying to lure me in and warn me to stay away at the same time. He's conflicted.
The rational side of me tells me to shut him out, run for the hills and never look back, but I can't. Klaus is immortal, yes, possibly indestructible, and let's not forget, a self-proclaimed monster. He's dangerous, deadly even, and has a temper only Christian Bale on a serious bender could rival. All of this I know, and yet here I am unable to tear my eyes away from him long enough to break the connection. For whatever reason, just knowing he has some semblance of a soul left, however damaged it is, gives me hope.
I realize now that I too am conflicted; and furthermore, as a new and even more terrifying revelation takes shape in my mind – the one where I'm comforted by the idea of Klaus being redeemable – then I realize that I am an idiot.
"Ah, so you finally decided to join us, love? He croons, waving his glass in the air ceremoniously to grab my attention. Just like that, the pain is gone, his whole demeanor changes, and he's smiling, actually smiling, as though there isn't a care in the world. "Shall I get you another?"
Great! I mumble to myself. Hyde is back (or maybe it's Jekyll, I dunno). Does it matter?
"I'd rather die of thirst." I bite back defiantly, declining his offer and pivoting on my heels to leave. Much to my own surprise, I manage to stay fairly unaffected, even though his inappropriately adorable and charming dimples threaten to unravel the thin veil of composure that's left.
I have got to get out of here!
As I strut away I can feel his attention shift back to the man standing next to him. He's still watching me, probably miffed that I turned him down – it wouldn't be the first time, not even tonight – but he's isn't angry like I'd suspected he would be. He seems, if anything, pleased.
"Isn't she stunning, brother." I hear him sigh, before letting a small chuckle escape.
Brother? My body tenses as I get further away. He must have gotten his coffins back. Why is he still here then?
It takes all my strength not to turn around and double back. But I know that would defeat the whole purpose of standing my ground. I continue walking to the door, keeping one ear tuned in on their conversation.
"She's definitely something," his brother seems to pacify him by agreeing. "I bet she's a tasty little thing. Reminds me of the good ol' days with Charl—" Before he can finish what he's saying, Klaus's temper flairs and while I can't make out the words exactly, I have a feeling they aren't pleasant.
A/N: A few things…there is a method to my madness, I just conveniently can't divulge everything just yet. So, if you're a little confused, that's a good thing. If things seem a bit off, remember that Caroline only knows so much right now and some of what she does know might not be true. Anyways, I hope you liked this chapter. There will be more C/K in the next one and from now on. I'd love to hear your thoughts on where the story's going. Any guesses as to what's really going on?