Disclaimer: I own not one single part of this incredibly infuriating show.

spitfire

chapter five

Knock, knuh-knock, knock, knock-knock-knock.

Klaus's eyes narrowed at the Mary Had a Little Lamb rhythm, blurring the words on the parchment he was reading. "Sod off, Bekah."

The blonde ignored his dismissal in her typically irreverent way, opening the door to his bedroom with an unceremonious shove and leaning against the doorframe. "Her Grimoire for a thank-you?"

His jaw tightened. Of course she'd bring that up.

"That's a whole new level of desperate, Nik, even for you."

He ignored her, forcing his stare to refocus on the words in front of him. She took this as a challenge and sauntered on in.

"Are you ignoring me, brother?" she asked, lips curling into a smirk. "Or do you just not have an explanation?"

His lips ticked up into a mirthless smile. "Not one a vapid little thing like you could ever understand, I'm afraid." His eyes rose to meet hers, bright and arrogant.

She rolled hers. "The latter, then."

He swiveled about in his chair, dropping his pen. "You really don't understand the first thing about politics, do you, darling? Allow me to enlighten you: it's a give-and-take. You have to be prepared to lose some as long as what you win is worth more."

"And what does giving her the Grimoire win you?" she scoffed.

"Submission," he replied, face a series of razor-sharp angles. "Slowly but surely, little by little, I win her submission. You've met the girl—she's as nauseatingly righteous as they come—but with every thing she grants me, every inch she lets me take, I whittle her pride down just a bit."

Rebekah's brow furrowed. "She's not just giving you an inch, Nik, she's getting something in return—something valuable, no less. How exactly is that her submitting to you?"

He rolled his eyes. "Dim doesn't suit you, Bekah. Giving her the Grimoire doesn't lose me anything since I never had any intention of keeping it from her. How do you propose she find me my spell without it?" He shot her a pointed look. "Besides, you're missing the bigger picture. If there's one thing that girl clings to, it's the idea that she'll never do anything I ask of her. Regardless of if she gets something in return or not, every time she does something I want, it chips a tiny piece off the very core of her integrity." His lips curled. "Little by little, it'll get to her. Trust me."

She stared at him for a moment, lips pursed in appraisal, before donning a skeptical expression. "Sorry, Nik. Not sold. I saw your face when I interrupted. You were rattled."

His lips thinned into a tight line. "You've always had an active imagination, Bekah."

She shook her head, mockery lifting her lips. "I wasn't imagining anything. Now quit with the petty excuses and tell me, brother," she purred, waltzing over to his bed draping herself over it, "what is it about this witch that has you so unsettled?" She dropped back on her elbows, fixing him with her catlike stare. "Ever since she got here you've been acting like an insecure little boy who got second place in the town spelling bee."

He cocked his head to the side in a casual gesture, though his eyes were glinting with warning. "I do love hearing you talk about things you don't understand, sister. It reminds me how naïve you are."

She chuckled. "Defensive, are we?"

His smile was tight. "No, just correct."

"Right," she snorted, holding up her hand to inspect her nails. A beat passed, and then, in an offhanded voice, "She's quite pretty, you know. If you're into that natural sort of thing."

His brow furrowed—Rebekah never said the word pretty unless she was talking about people's necks. Or herself. "She's a Bennett witch," he replied, voice implying a shrug. Bennett witches were always beautiful. Power glittered in their eyes, glowed in their skin—Bonnie came from a long line of exquisitely beautiful women, and she was no exception. The anomaly was the fact that Rebekah was mentioning it.

"I'd argue she's a cut above the rest." She frowned at a questionable cuticle. "More exotic. One of those rare faces where you know the instant you see it that no one else will ever have it."

Klaus leaned back into his seat, arms folding over his chest. "What's your angle here, Bekah?"

She shrugged idly, dropping her hand and shooting him a breezy smile. "Oh, nothing."

His eyes narrowed. He didn't like what she was implying. "She's powerful, Bekah. More than she or you or anyone realizes. She sent that blast of energy through your room with three tablespoons of witch hazel in her bloodstream—hell, the only reason I wasn't sent flying across the room was because I put it in all of our drinks," he said, stare cold with warning. "Don't trivialize this situation with silly ideas of romance. Underestimating her is dangerous: her power is potent to the point of volatile. That, not her beauty, is what concerns me."

She rolled her eyes, though the line of her shoulders lost some of its proud defiance: the older brother had just scolded the little sister, and despite all of her insolence and cheekiness, they both knew she would always default to him. "Whatever," she drawled.

"'Whatever'," he mocked, lips curling upward. "Enough with the atrocious Americanisms—you sound like a sorority girl."

"Better a sorority girl than an Elizabethan noble." She yawned then, throwing her hands behind her in a luxurious stretch. "Well, I'm off to bed. Again."

He smirked as she swung her legs off his bed and got to her slipper-clad feet, sauntering over to the door. "If you feel like playing power struggle with your little toy again, do me a favor and have her cast a silencing spell over the room first," she tossed over her shoulder, swinging the door open. "I can't have trivial things like torture interrupting my beauty sleep."

He rolled his eyes. "Night, sister."

She gave an arbitrary wave of her hand before disappearing down the hallway. He leaned back in his seat with a wry expression, crossing his arms over his chest. Rebekah was a complete pain in the arse, but he'd be lying if he said he wasn't happy to have her around. There was a lightness and vulnerability to her that reminded him what life used to be like before… well, before all of this.

Silence engulfed the room in her absence, and he pricked his ears slightly, directing his hearing to the floor above. It took a few seconds, but he finally heard the sound of a slightly erratic heartbeat—the witch was awake. Her breaths were quiet but rapid, her pulse randomly speeding up and slowing down, and he wondered briefly what was going through her mind.

It was, much like the rest of her, a mystery.

His lips ticked downward. Bonnie Bennett, his leverage, his source of information, the latest addition to his long list of witches, was turning out to be so much more than anyone gave her credit for.

It was irritating. It was frustrating.

But he couldn't quite bring himself to hate it.


Bonnie descended the stairs at 10 A.M. sharp. She hadn't slept a wink: she'd been tossing and turning all night, eyeing the clock and devising her plan of attack. Once she got her Grimoire, she had to work fast—Klaus would know there was something in there that could likely get her past his imprisonment spells. He'd limit her free time with it. Thus, she needed to be focused: she'd hit the chapter on sealing charms first, then move to barrier incantations, and then move to explosion and fire spells.

Oh, yeah. If she had to blow up the house to get out, she'd do it.

Now all she needed was a way to distract him: something to get him off her back for a few hours while she scoured the spells. She had yet to come up with one. Anything she thought of involved putting someone else in danger, and she couldn't have that. Thus, she was simply stuck hoping Klaus had better things to do than witch-sit her.

It wasn't her best plan.

"You got this," she murmured to herself as she descended the stairs, slightly surprised to see the lavish dining room empty. Was she early? Puzzled, she glanced around the large, empty space, searching for any sign of life, though her ears promptly caught on the clink of glasses and silverware floating from what she presumed to be the kitchen.

Unsure of what else to do, she made her way over to the door and pushed it open. The sight that greeted her immediately threw her for a loop. Klaus—serial-killing, sociopathic, blood-drinking, hostage-holding Klaus—was sitting back in his seat, New York Times sprawled open before him, silk robe loosely secured around the pale sinews of his waist, eating pancakes.

Fluffy, buttery, drenched in raspberry syrup pancakes.

She halted in the doorway, utterly bewildered, and though his eyes remained fixed on his paper, a smile ticked at the corners of his lips. "Morning, love. Sleep well?"

She forced herself to shake off her surprise—really, though, he was wearing slippers and everything—and instead fixed him with her best glare. "Grimoire."

His eyes flickered up to hers, mildly amused. "What, no greeting? No 'I slept wonderfully, Klaus, courtesy of the lavish bed you've so kindly provided me with—thank you for asking.'"

She cocked her head to the side. "I slept horribly, Klaus, courtesy of the life-threatening and hostile environment you've so kindly imprisoned me within." Her eyes shrank into slits. "Thank you for asking."

He lounged back in his seat with a Cheshire expression, motioning with his fork. "And now you ask me how I slept."

Her tone was cold. "My Grimoire, Klaus."

"I think it goes a bit more like, "How did you sleep, Klaus?'"

"I think I couldn't give any less of a shit about how you slept, so let's skip to the question I actually care to know the answer to: where's my Grimoire?" She knew she was pushing it with the disrespect, but there was something about getting her manners criticized by a raging serial killer that was kind of pissing her off.

Klaus, apparently in a tolerant mood, merely folded his newspaper in half and set it down, sitting up in his seat. "Sit down, have some breakfast. We'll get to your little witch diary in bit."

Her lip twitched at the derogatory reference to her Grimoire—there were spells that could turn his skin inside out in her 'little witch diary'—but took a begrudging seat across from him nonetheless. He motioned to the plate of pancakes and she glared. "I'm not hungry."

"Don't be silly, love—Holden!" He snapped his fingers and the dark-haired hybrid popped his head through a door on the opposite end of the kitchen, glancing up expectantly. "Serve the lovely Ms. Bennett some breakfast, and be generous—she's famished."

Holden sped over before she could protest and piled pancake after pancake on her plate, overwhelming her entirely. "Okay, okay, that's enough!" she said, shooting an exasperated glare at Klaus before giving Holden a tight, forced smile. He was only following orders, after all. "Thanks."

Holden glanced at her, seemingly surprised by the gratitude, and smiled unsurely. The uncertainty of the expression was strangely heartbreaking; Bonnie wondered when was the last time anyone thanked him for the millions of slave-like things he was likely forced to do. She found her strained smile softening into a sympathetic one. Poor guy.

"Holden." Klaus' tone was frigid. The boy jumped and tore his large grey eyes away from Bonnie. She glanced over at Klaus and saw that his expression matched his voice. "There's Poison Ivy growing in the rose bushes—I need it gone."

Holden nodded. "Got it." He turned to go, and his eyes momentarily grazed Bonnie's in the process.

"Oh, and Holden," Klaus added, causing the hybrid's back to stiffen. "Don't use gloves—bare hands are more thorough."

He glanced over his shoulder. "But the—"

"Goodbye, Holden."

The hybrid dropped his head and walked out of the kitchen, shoulders tense. Bonnie stared at Klaus in disbelief. "What the hell was that?"

Klaus shrugged. "I like to keep my house immaculate."

Her eyes narrowed. "He's a person, you know."

"A person who happens to be entirely indebted to me."

"And that gives you the right to abuse him?"

He rolled his eyes. "I gave him freedom from a curse he'd have to deal with for the rest of his life—do you think he minds having itchy hands for a few days?"

Bonnie stared at him in disdain. "You have an interesting definition of the word 'freedom'."

He eyed her for a moment, head tilting to the side in amusement. "And what, exactly, would you know about freedom, love?"

Her eyes blazed with confusion. "What's that supposed to mean?"

He shrugged, tone idle. "Well, correct me if I'm wrong, but when was the last time you did a single thing that didn't revolve around protecting your little doppelganger friend?"

Her face tightened. "That's different."

"Is it?" he asked.

"Of course," she snapped. "I choose to protect her. I'm her best friend; I'd do anything for her—"

"Ah, ah," he tutted, waving his fork in dissent. "Not 'anything'—you do everything for her. The blonde one—Caroline. That's her best friend, too. A vampire, if I'm not mistaken. Does she go to the lengths you go to?"

"Yes!"

Klaus smiled. "Bonnie. You haven't lied to me yet—don't start now."

Bonnie scowled at him. "I'm a witch—I can do things that no one else can, and it's my responsibility to do whatever I can to help my friends."

"And their responsibility to do the same for you, presumably."

"Of course!"

"So when was the last time they did?"

She faltered, taken off-guard. "What?"

"Your friends—you claim to share an equal responsibility to do what's best for each other, to save each other, so when was the last time they saved you?"

Bonnie stared at him, mind going blank. This was ridiculous. Of course her friends did things for her. Maybe not necessarily recently, since she was a witch and capable of taking care of herself, but in general?

Klaus took in her silence with a glittering stare. "I have a question for you."

Her eyes narrowed.

"On the whole, what occurrence—what singular event—has caused all of the recent death, heartbreak, and sorrow in all of your previously stable lives?"

Her lip curled in scorn. "People like you."

He smiled. "Vampires, you mean?"

"That's what started it, yes."

"Now think more specifically. When did all the trouble begin? What brought all the misery?"

She furrowed her brow, tracing down the long list of horrific events that had befallen all of them—the deaths, the destruction, the suffering—until her mind finally fluttered to a halt on the last normal, happy day of her life. The first day of junior year. And then her answer hit her, lips moving on their own accord, not really thinking, "When Stefan and Damon came to town."

"Interesting," he drawled, leaning back in his seat and tapping his fork against his cheek. "So then why, pray tell, did Elena—the girl you claim would do anything for you—ask them to stay?"

The question hit Bonnie like a thunderbolt.

"Was it for you? Did she think your grandmother dying was in your own best interest? Caroline turning into a vampire—was that her life's ambition? Her brother—Damon killed him once, didn't he? Did she consider that a good learning experience for him?"

"She didn't know any of those things would happen," she gritted out through her teeth.

Klaus stared at her. "But they did. And yet here Stefan and Damon still are, putting everyone in danger. In fact, and correct me if I'm wrong, here, but isn't she currently stringing along both of them?" Bonnie's eyes flashed and Klaus tutted, "Oh, but you can't blame her for that. I'd imagine that degree of flattery and attention would be something of a drug to her—what small-town teen girl wouldn't risk the lives of her friends and family for it?" His eyes glittered. "Oh, right. You."

Bonnie's nostrils flared. "Elena deserves happiness. You cannot imagine what she's been through—"

He started laughing. "Oh, Bonnie. I've been alive for an entire millennium. I've seen things that would drive you to suicide and make Elena's life look like a shiny little rainbow. Difference is, I don't pretend that entitles me to a friend like you." The words struck a chord in her and he went for the kill: "For that kind of selfless devotion, I have my hybrids—servants, really. They're indebted to me and, as a result, do what I say. You, however, are indebted to no one, and yet…" he trailed off, cocking his head to the side, and she felt her insides burning, "for all everyone thinks, you're nothing more than a way to keep Elena alive. Just another hybrid."

She stared at him, entirely lost for words, a torrential downpour of emotions coursing through her. Of course it wasn't true. Nothing he was saying was true. But a part of herself that she absolutely hated couldn't help but wonder, if none of it was true, why did it make sense? The logic was there. His questions were valid. His points were worth considering. So what if—

No. No. She steeled herself against the thoughts, fingers clenching into fists: he was trying to break her. That's all this was. He wanted to plant the seed of doubt and watch her crumble, watch it destroy the one thing she'd never compromised—her loyalty to her friends—from the inside out. It was all over his face, dancing in the smug blue of his irises. Her fierce devotion to people other than him bothered him. Her unwavering love for her friends, her loyalty—the fact that he had to command it from people whereas she gave it voluntarily—it ate him up inside.

And damn it, it would continue to eat him, because she wasn't going to bite.

Her eyes cooled into an impenetrable shell. "I'm here for my Grimoire, Klaus."

He observed the shift in her demeanor with a lingering glance, eyes speculative and vaguely amused. Then, without breaking eye contact, "Harriet, would you please give Ms. Bennett her Grimoire?"

A pretty hybrid with long black hair came out of the shadows, startling Bonnie slightly. She hadn't even realized she was there. She held the book out with scowl, sullen features complimenting the glimmer of malice in her cold blue eyes. "Here."

"Thanks," Bonnie said on instinct, though the girl didn't seem to appreciate it, for she merely rolled her eyes and skulked off.

"Your welcome," Klaus drawled, well aware of the fact that the gratitude wasn't directed at him. Bonnie shot him a glare and he smirked, clapping his hands together. "Well, now that your business is taken care of, I have matters of my own to attend do." He scraped his chair back and got to his feet, though not before catching a glimpse of her untouched plate. He feigned a look of concern. "Do eat, love, otherwise I'll be forced to conclude that Holden did something wrong and will have to punish him accordingly." Spite flooded her, though she grudgingly set her Grimoire down and reached for the pitcher of syrup by his plate. "Ah, ah—you'll want to use the other syrup, love."

Her brow furrowed, "Why?"

His lips curled into a falsely innocent smile. "Just trust me."

Irritated, she reached for the other pitcher and poured it over the pancakes, ears pricked and awaiting the sound of his retreating footsteps. Her entire body was tense, coiled into a crappy portrayal of nonchalance—she'd be lying if she said she was completely over the conversation they'd just had. She refused to let it get to her, but some of his points rang a little too true for her to cast them off as absurd. After a beat of silence, she glanced over at him. "You can leave now."

"I need to see you take a bite to believe you're actually eating, otherwise…" he shrugged casually, glancing down at his watch, "poor Holden."

Her fingers clenched around her fork, and she wished so desperately that she could give him an aneurism. However, in the interest of the guy who was probably knee-deep in Poison Ivy at the moment, she speared off a piece of pancake and brought it to her mouth.

He watched her in that infuriatingly rapt way he'd been watching her eat yesterday during dinner—bright, possessive, enthralled. Irritated, she chewed with her mouth open and said "Happy?" through a mouthful of half-masticated pancake.

His lip curled in a mixture of amusement and disgust. "Your manners leave something to be desired, witch."

"Don't you have lives to ruin?" she countered, taking an extra large piece of pancake and origami-ing it into her mouth.

He smirked. "Of course. Can't keep Stefan waiting." She stiffened at the name, eyes snapping up to his, and he feigned a look of concern. "Oh, don't worry, love—it's nothing about you. Elena's safe at the moment, so no one's been too concerned with getting you free."

The comment hit her like a blow to the chest, heart dropping down to her stomach. He was lying. He had to be lying. Of course they were trying to get her out; she was trapped by a freaking psychopath. And yet, for some reason, her he's-just-trying-to-get-to-you mantra wasn't working as well as it had before. Stirrings of anger and hurt were very slowly, very subtly, starting to leak into her brain.

The resentful feelings thoroughly disoriented her, and the turmoil must've shown on her face, for Klaus chose precisely that moment to make his exit. Leaving her there. Hanging on the brink of something dangerous. "Don't let him get to you," she murmured tightly to herself, averting her eyes from the doorway, though just as she did, her eyes caught on his abandoned plate of pancakes.

Disgust and realization flooded her at the same time, and an overwhelmed feeling quickly started closing in on her. She was out of her league. She couldn't keep thinking she could meet Klaus toe-to-toe; she couldn't keep being that freaking naïve. She thought she'd scored a victory in getting her Grimoire back, that her biggest challenge for today was getting him to leave her alone, but with a few well-chosen words, he had her doubting every choice she'd made since the day vampires set foot in her world.

He had her doubting her friends.

And that was bigger than anything she could've anticipated from him.

She stared at his pancakes with a shaken gaze, resolving immediately that she had to get out of there as fast as she possibly could, because she didn't know how much of this she could handle. Klaus was terrifying in ways that she couldn't predict, and just when she thought she had him pegged, had him figured out, had the right shields up in the right places, he went for the target she hadn't even realized she'd left unprotected. Klaus wasn't the kind of guy who wore slippers, read the paper, and had pancakes for breakfast.

He was the kind of guy whose 'raspberry syrup' was actually blood.

Author's Note: Hey, guys – soooooooo sorry for the wait. I just graduated from college (WHAT UP) and it was such a whirlwind that I had zero time to update anything (if you're on Tumblr at all and know me there, you'll see that I haven't even really been on there either… sacrilege!) If you've somehow found the patience to stick with this story, I am over the moon and envy your endurance and can't thank you enough. Anyway, onto ze chaptah! No digs at Klaroline or the writers this time, buuuut I wanted to point out how unbelievably famazing of a friend Bonnie is to people who don't care about her NEARLY as much as she deserves, so… that was my call-out of the chapter. Regarding the Klonnie, I want this story to be as realistic as possible, which I've reasoned (and let me know if I'm off!) means it should be a bit of an emotional tug-of-war between the characters. One second Klaus is power-tripping, the next he's amused by her, the next he's irritated, the next he's impressed; and with Bonnie, one second she's terrified, the next she's a little cocky, the next she's bantering, the next she's shaken up. I think it's easy to lose sight of the situations one's in and get lost in the present, so this story isn't going to be consistently dark/depressing, nor is it going to be consistently romantic/fluffy—there will be a little bit of everything mixed in at what I (possibly incorrectly) deem the right time… so feedback on how I'm doing with the smorgasbord of emotions would be EXCELLENT. Anyway, this author's note is officially it's own chapter now so imma shut up. But it's good to be back and sorry again for leaving you hanging. Klonnie steaminess is up ahead!