if you don't love me, just pretend until you do




He's sitting on her porch steps when she gets home from school, and she doesn't have the energy or the patience or the heart to tell him off, so she drops her bag into the grass and sits next to him. He's quiet, turning his head to the side and gazing at her. She'll never get used to the inexplicable adoration that fills his gaze, she thinks. It surprises her that someone of Klaus' stature could love, or feel affection.

She smooths her shirt down, sighing, "Tyler's not coming back, is he?" she asks quietly.

Klaus lips quirk sadly at the tone in her voice. "I don't know about that, love." he tells her, voice soft and lilting.

Caroline swallows, and asks the question she's been wanting to ask since the ball, "Did you make him leave?"

Klaus regards her with a kind of cool surprise. He doesn't look the least bit offended, and she knows, that with his questionable track record, that she has a right to ask. "No." he says, "Tyler left of his own accord."

Caroline slowly lets out a breath. His answer doesn't make Tyler's disappearance any easier to handle, but now she knows he wasn't ordered to leave her. So, why did he leave then?

Klaus looks away from her, staring up at the sky. He smiles a little, licks his lips, and idly remarks, "Paris is quite lovely this time of year."

He stands after he says this, stretches, shirt riding up his stomach. She swallows harshly at the sight of the expanse of skin, and averts her eyes. "Have a wonderful day, Caroline." he murmurs, voice as light and sweet as the caress of the sudden wind against her face. He bows to her, and strolls down the sidewalk.

It's now or never, she thinks. She could either stay here and rot, or she could go with him, accept his unspoken invitation and flee. She doesn't know if this makes her a coward or a bad friend, thinking these things. She does, however, know that she deserves to make her own decisions without anyone else having a say. She's eighteen, damn it. Liz doesn't control her, Elena doesn't control her, Bonnie doesn't control her.

She can do what she wants.

Caroline jumps up, running after him and catching his hand. He turns quickly, chest touching hers. She's reminded of how close he'd held her as they'd danced, and how easily she's brushed him off. She gulps, "You said something about Paris, right?" she asks shyly.

Klaus' answering smile lights up her whole world.

Caroline sighs, sinking down into her seat. The plane rises, and her stomach drops. She's being silly because it's not like a plane crash could kill her, but the fear had carried on trough her transformation and heights, such a ridiculous fear, still terrified her.

Klaus is sitting beside her, leg thrown casually over one knee, sketch pad in one hand, pencil in the other. Out of curiosity, she tries to peak, but he pushes her nose away with a gentle finger, "Nosy." he berates her, smirking.

She flushes, closing her eyes. A few hours pass, and Klaus scribbles away at his sketchbook as she dozes on and off. When she's about to fall into a fitful sleep, the plane suffers a bout of turbulence. She lashes out, nails digging into her arm rest and then Klaus' skin. She gives him a wide eyed look, and she's about to tell him she's sorry when he gently extracts her hand from his arm, and holds it between both of his own. He smooths his fingers over her hand, over and over. Slowly, her fear dissipates, and she relaxes into her seat.

Caroline meets his gaze, and his lips quirk up into a sweet smile. This goes against everything she knows about him, and she wonders if this is the man he hides from everyone else. He hides this gentle, kind soul behind the mass murdering Hybrid Original. She shivers at the thought, and he smooths his fingers over hers one more time. "Relax, darling," he coos, and against her better judgement, she lets his voice hum her to sleep.

They go through baggage and customs and it takes hours. Klaus is bouncing on the balls of his feet impatiently. She giggles into her hand at the sight of the thousand year old Hybrid bouncing around like a child. He gives her a mock offended glare, and says, "We could just compel our way through this bloody line."

"We could, or we could wait our turn like normal people. It's only fair that we wait hours if everyone else has to."

Klaus' lips curls, and he sighs, "The things I do for you." he mutters, and turns away from her. Her cheeks tinge pink, and she looks out around the airport. Looks at anything but him.

She stands in the middle of a crowded street, staring up at the flats and the apartment buildings and the quaint cafe houses. Everything in Paris is beautiful and homey. She wonders why she'd never thought to come here before.

A French woman jostles her as she walks by, and Caroline folds into herself. She loves this place, and yet, she's afraid of it. It's big and winding and she's so used to small towns and people smiling at her on the streets.

A few more people bump into her, sending her back towards the street. She sees Klaus already on the sidewalk, and panic grips her. A French man slams into her, and she growls lightly. For a split second, she considers tearing into his throat, but she gulps that down.

She runs towards Klaus, pushing through the people, reaching out and grabbing his arm. She squeezes herself closer to him, feeling safer near the volatile Hybrid Original than in the street. Klaus hooks an arm around her waist, leading her through the bustling crowd.

She doesn't mind his hand on the curve of her waist at all.

"Do you like Paris?" Caroline asks him.

Klaus scrunches up his nose, setting his glass of brandy down. "It's a beautiful city, certainly. I've always preferred Rome and Venice to Paris, though."

Caroline bites her lip. "Can we...can we go to those places, too?"

Klaus crosses his arms over his chest, an amused smirk flickering across his face, "Caroline, darling, do you really think I would let you return to Mystic Falls without experiencing Rome and Venice and Vienna and Tokyo?" Caroline shrugs, and Klaus gives her a boyish smile, "No, love. You're going to see it all."

Caroline can't help but smile.

The next time they dance, there are a thousand stars twinkling above them, screaming that this is fate.

Venice is beautiful. It's old fashioned, torches hung on the walls instead of lights on the ceiling. She hears the water everywhere she goes, and its soft melodic churning relaxes her. She allows Klaus to escort her to a restaurant he'd been raving about, and he buys her a beautiful black dress, and she wishes the dress wasn't so pretty and that he wasn't so sweet because it makes her like him just a little bit more.

He takes her arm when they enter the restaurant, and leads her to a table out on the patio. The stars are out, and paired with the water, it's the most romantic view she's ever seen. She hopes that he isn't considering this to be a date.

He pulls her chair out for her and runs his hand across her back as he walks around the table to his own seat. She shivers, averting her gaze from his and picking up a menu. Surprisingly, she has fun. He tells her all about Venice's history and tells her all about the masquerade balls he'd been to in the 1500s. She listens intently, wishing she could have been there.

"Care for a dance?" he asks her when they've finished eating and the conversation has dwindled down to comfortable small talk.

"There's no music," she says.

"The water is music enough." he counters, taking her hand and pulling her up before she can say anything else.

As they dance, she's reminded of the ball some weeks before. She'd kept distance between them, and dodged any sort of conversation. Now, their chests touch and they speak in whispers.

She looks up at the stars, and then, his eyes. She can't see a difference in the twinkling of either.

Later that night, Caroline finds Klaus on the couch in their hotel room, sketchbook in hand. He flips it closed when she sits beside him, smirking when she glares.

"Where are we going next?" she asks.

Their trip ends in Tokyo.

They hop on a plane back to the States after four days in Tokyo, and she clutches her Hello Kitty stuffed animal tightly to her chest the whole way there. She's not sure what she's feeling, but whenever she looks at Klaus, she can't make herself look away.

He sits beside her, quietly scribbling away in his sketch pad. She's learned not to try and sneak a look, so she just lets him be. Some hours later, he rips the paper he'd been drawing on out of the book and hands it to her.

It's of her. Before they'd left the States. When they'd been sitting together on her front porch. She looks haunted, tired even, but beautiful.

"It's...wow. It's beautiful, Klaus." she whispers.

He beams, and they lapse into silence once again.

Two days later, they're in Mystic Falls. She gets out of his car, and he helps her carry her things into her house. She turns her phone on for the first time since she'd left, and she's immediately bombarded with texts and missed calls. She shuts it off again and tucks it into her pocket.

"That's it," Klaus tells her, dropping her last bag onto her couch.

"Thank you." she says lightly, toying with the ends of her hair.

Klaus steps towards her, brushing a kiss to her forehead, "No," he breathes against her skin, "thank you."

She closes her eyes, lets his lips hover over her skin for a moment longer than she should. The air around her changes, and she knows he's gone.

Caroline's watching TV later that night, ignoring texts and calls, when she sees an ad. It's telling her all about Miami and how beautiful it is and how wonderful and how fun and how magnificent.

Without another thought, she picks up her phone and dials the number she now knows by heart. "Have you ever been to Miami?" she asks.

She holds his hand on the plane.