Title: "Paradise Circus"

Author: Lila

Rating: PG-13

Character/Pairing: Caroline, Klaus

Spoiler: "All My Children"

Length: Part I of III

Summary: Klaus takes Caroline on a trip, but he's the one to see the world.

Disclaimer: Not mine, just borrowing them for a few paragraphs.

Author's Note: Apparently can't stop writing Caroline/Klaus fic, even thought I do want to finish "Be So Happy." What can you do, right? Title courtesy of Massive Attack (and Hope Sandoval!). Enjoy.

Klaus doesn't forgive and he doesn't forget.

He's roamed the earth for 1,000 years; he's learned to hold a grudge.

Tyler comes home before he's ready, tugging at his bonds with all his might.

His resolve is strong but some circumstances are impossible to change: there's a voicemail on Caroline's cell and a strange tone to Klaus's voice and when she arrives at the clearing he has Tyler strung up from a tree with one hand plunged into his chest.

"I don't take well to betrayal," Klaus tells her calmly, fingers tightening around Tyler's heart. She watches the boy she loves contort in agony, his face turning a horrible shade of purple. He tries to say her name but he chokes on the hand squeezing out his (non)life.

She turns to Klaus with tear-filled eyes and gasps at the look in his. They're bright and blazing and if her heart truly beat, now is the time it would grind to a halt in her chest. She can't remember the last time she felt so scared.

"I'm sorry," she pleads. "I didn't know what they had planned."

"But you knew there was a plan." His jaw tightens and Tyler's eyes start bugging out of his face.

"Please, don't do this." She stops caring about the tears in her voice or blinding her vision. She already lost her father and stood by Bonnie while she mourned her mother; she can't handle losing someone else she loves.

Klaus's face relaxes and a blood-stained hand slides out from Tyler's chest. She ignores him while she cuts Tyler down, holds him in her arms while he gasps around the blood pooling in his lungs.

Klaus picks up Tyler's shirt, wipes his hands clean. "Don't think there will be a second chance."

"I hate you," she hisses, strokes the hair back from Tyler's brow.

Klaus shrugs. "Flip side of love and all." He pulls on his jacket, casts one long look in her direction; his eyes rake her from head to toe. "I'll be seeing you, Caroline."

His boots thud into the distance and she holds Tyler tighter, tries to shake the heat that still lingers from his gaze.

She wishes the only thing in her heart could be indifference.

Caroline takes Tyler home.

Carol gasps when she takes in the gaping hole in her son's chest, but immediately springs to action.

Covers are pulled back and a warm cloth lain on his brow and within five minutes Tyler is sprawled out in his childhood bed with a woman who loves him on either side.

Carol holds her son's hand, leans over to press a kiss to his forehead. Her eyes widen as the wound literally closes in front of them, but smiles tightly and doesn't cry out. Caroline admires how hard she's working to remain strong; her own mother didn't handle the truth nearly so well.

"It's every parent's fear that they'll outlive their children," Carol says. She glances at Tyler's chest, the smooth expanse of skin where there used to be an ugly wound. "I guess I'm lucky not to have that problem."

Caroline wants to agree, but her thoughts are filled with her father, the man she believed would always be there for her only to betray her and leave before she was ready. It won't hurt any less when she loses her mother. "He's still going to lose you," she says softly.

Carol's eyes fill with tears but Caroline knows it's not all because of Tyler. "Oh, honey. I'm so sorry."

"I keep forgetting," Caroline says. "He didn't live here, but he's not just a phone call away anymore. I'm never going to see him again."

"I thought the same thing when Richard died. He worked so much…every night, I waited for him to come home." She pauses, leans over to brush Tyler's hair back from his brow. "When you lose someone you love, the pain eases but it never really goes away." Caroline nods, takes Tyler's other hand in hers and squeezes. His skin is cool but she can feel the pulse in his wrist. He's alive, and that's what matters. "I'm sorry, you know," Carol says and Caroline looks up. "For what I did to you over the summer. Back then…I didn't understand."

Caroline sees the fragile look in Carol's eyes, the thin thread holding her sanity together. It's not every woman who could fight vampires but love the son that's become one. "I forgive you," Caroline says even though a part of her will never forget what this woman set in motion. She forgives because she's going to live forever and it's much too long to hold a grudge.

Carol nods her thanks and they sit together in silence until Tyler wakes up gasping Caroline's name. Carol sighs in relief and folds her son in her arms. He smiles at Caroline over his mother's shoulder, but there's still fear shadowing his eyes. She swallows her guilt and smiles back. It's her fault that he almost died.

"Take care of him," Carol whispers, squeezes Caroline's shoulder before leaving her alone with Tyler.

"I thought I'd be strong enough," Tyler says, falls back on the pillows and closes his eyes. "I'm never going to get away from him, am I?"

Caroline curls into his side, rests her head beside his. Not for the first time, she holds him in her arms while he cries. "We'll figure something out," she promises, takes Tyler's future into her hands. Love means making sacrifices and she's the reason for his pain. She's the only one who can make this right.

Klaus's warning repeats in her mind – there's no second chances when making a deal.

It doesn't take long to make her decision.

Caroline goes home and writes her mom a note: tells her that she loves her, tells her that she doesn't know when she's coming back.

She decides to travel light; she's already carrying enough baggage in her heart.

Tyler's bracelet is the only thing she takes from her old life.

She shows up on Klaus's doorstep and wraps her arms around her waist.

She tells herself it's the cold, but she stopped noticing temperature the day she died. She presses harder, fingers digging into her ribs, literally holds herself together.

Klaus leans against the doorjamb, lips quirking into a mocking smile. "I knew you'd be back."

"You need to let Tyler go."

"Do I?" His smile widens into a full-on grin.

She unwinds her arms and holds up her hands in supplication. "You wanted to show me the world. Now's your chance."

"And in return?"

"I know you can't break the sire bond, but you can let Tyler have his life back. Stop asking him for things." She pauses and raises her head to stare right into his eyes. "Stop using him to get to me."

Klaus straightens. "If I let Tyler go, you'll come with me?"

She reminds herself that love means sacrifice; love means Tyler being safe at all costs. She holds out her hand, suppresses the urge to flinch as Klaus's fingers slide through hers. "Whatever you want," she says, tries to shake his hand and formalize the deal.

Instead, he lowers his head and presses a kiss to the back of her hand, soft lips brushing over her skin. "We have promises to keep. And miles to go before we sleep."

She jerks her hand away, concentrates on what she's achieved: Tyler's safe and she'll get to see the world.

She regrets her decision already.

They don't leave immediately.

Klaus hands her his credit card and tells her to buy whatever she needs. She didn't get to shop the last time; she won't blow this opportunity.

She buys dresses and shoes, coats and purses, buys so much she has to fill her backseat because her trunk is overflowing. She buys and buys until the card is declined.

It feels almost as good as the time she told him that his father didn't love him.

She's sorting through her new purchases when Rebekah makes a surprise appearance and comes to an awkward halt beside the bed.

Caroline has nothing to say to her, the girl who made a play for Tyler and put Matt in danger and slept with Damon while he was in love with Elena. So she ignores her, folds a silk negligee and places it in the suitcase.

She feels the bed shift as Rebekah sits down but she still has nothing to say and continues to fold her underwear. It's La Perla and made entirely of lace. She represses the sigh; she'll never own anything else this nice.

Rebekah is quiet for a long time and silently folds a stack of sweaters. Neither girl says anything; both are reluctant to break the silence. "You don't have to do this," Rebekah finally says, twists one of Caroline's t-shirts into a tight ball.

Caroline shakes her head in disgust. She's learned the hard way that Originals can't be trusted. "Aren't you supposed to be shagging Damon ragged right now?"

"Being rude won't change the subject." Rebekah repeats herself, reaches out to rest a hand on Caroline's knee. "You don't have to do this." Caroline sighs and stops cutting tags off her new bras.

"Yes, I do. It means Tyler will be safe."

"There are other ways."

"Why do you care?" A week ago, they spent an entire fancy dress ball staring daggers at each other. She doesn't understand Rebkah's sudden interest in saving her.

"I've spent lifetimes with Nik," Rebekah says and she might be one of the deadliest creatures on the face of the earth, but she's also a girl whose mother just tried to murder her. Her fingers rattle against Caroline's jeans. "He doesn't like to share his toys."

"I know what I'm doing," Caroline says but she can't bring herself to look into Rebekah's eyes. She's afraid of what she'll see there.

Rebekah's grip tightens on Caroline's knee and she grabs Caroline's wrist, digs in her nails until Caroline meets her eyes. Hers are wild and filled with caution. "No, you don't."

Caroline twists away and drops her gaze, turns back to the clothes strewn across the bed. "This isn't your business," she says, layers venom into her voice.

Rebekah sighs but stops trying. "Remember, I warned you," she says to Caroline's back; Caroline suppresses the flinch when the door clicks shut.

She turns back to clothes littering the bed, the sweaters and t-shirts and underwear and cocktail dresses. She blocks out Rebekah's warning, tries to focus on the task before her.

She can't keep her hands from shaking.

She ignores Klaus on the way over.

They're going somewhere in Europe, but she refuses to look at the departure sign and wears her headphones when their flight is called.

She's agreed to be a pawn, but this is his game. The rules are his to make.

She spends the entire flight reading.

There are three months left in her senior year and Mr. Saltzman has agreed to sponsor an independent study; Damon will convince Principal Reed.

She's lugged along a history textbook and loaded her kindle with classics, even signed up for a calc class on the University of Phoenix site.

She left Mystic Falls ranked third in her class, a shoe-in for prom queen, waiting for that letter from UVA welcoming her to join the class of 2016.

She'll never give a speech at graduation or wear a tiara in her hair or live on the Lawn, but she only needs one high school diploma.

She won't let it go without a fight.

They start in Rome.

Caroline is silent while Klaus steers them through customs and collects their luggage at the baggage claim.

He hasn't tried to make small talk and she hasn't forced the subject. There's nothing she can say to him that he doesn't already know.

He touches her instead: grabs her hand when she starts for the wrong custom's line, rests his fingers on her waist when a poliziotto smiles at her.

She doesn't shrug off his hand even though it feels like a lead weight holding her down.

She glances at the policeman, notes the friendly warmth in his brown eyes.

She can't have another death on her conscience.

She's takes in the city on the way to the hotel.

It's a sea of mopeds and people, men in tight jeans and women carrying designer purses.

She counts churches and fountains, opens her mouth in amazement when they zip by the Colosseum. She can't believe Caroline Forbes gets to see these things.

Klaus breaks the tense silence filling the car and talks to her for the first time since their plane left Richmond. "Beautiful, isn't it?"

She makes the mistake of turning away from the window because it means looking into his eyes. They're shadowed, but they linger over her face. When he looks at her that way, she's not sure he's talking about the city.

"Yeah, it is," she agrees because it's freaking Rome and she won't let him spoil it for her.

"I haven't been here in almost two centuries," he says. "After unification, the city was never the same."

She rolls her eyes and doesn't respond. He can't impress her when he's holding her hostage.

They lapse back into silence and it fills the tiny taxi, makes her shift in her seat but she can't get comfortable. She doesn't know what she hates more: that he has the power to make her skin crawl, or how desperate she is to make it stop.

She chooses the latter, hates herself a little more for engaging him. "Why did you bring me here?" she asks. She doesn't look at him, even when she feels his eyes on her.

"Rome is the Eternal City. When all else is gone, it will still be here." His voice is soft but it isn't menacing. It's the way he spoke to her the night of the ball, like a man rather than a monster.

"Everything disappears eventually."

He reaches out and grasps her chin in his fingers, turns her head so she can't avoid his gaze. Even in the darkness of the cab, she can feel the burning blue of his eyes. "Not us."

It takes epic willpower to keep tears from springing to her eyes.

She's already given him so much. She's not ready to turn over forever.

They share a hotel room.

There are two beds but one bathroom and he makes himself comfortable while she studies herself in the mirror.

…beautiful, strong, full of light…

They're Klaus's words, but she tries to make them stick. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but strength is undeniable.

That night flashes through her mind, the agony etched into Tyler's face and the terror in his eyes. She remembers how scared she felt; how much the guilt weighed her down.

She turns back to the mirror, snuffs out the light.

She already knows she's beautiful.

She only hopes she can be strong.

Klaus is sprawled in a chair, sketchpad in hand.

He doesn't look up when she steps out. Instead, he furrows his brow and the charcoal scribbles faster over the parchment. She can't see what he's drawing, but she hopes it's not another horse.

She doesn't want a reminder of the time she almost let him in.

She draws her robe tighter across her stomach. She's paying too high a price as is.

"I'm ready," she says but he doesn't look up until the thin robe drops to the floor in a rustle of silk.

He doesn't say anything but he does swallow hard as he takes in what she has to offer. She keeps her gaze fixated over his shoulder, forces Tyler's mangled chest into her mind, never takes her eye off the prize.

"My, my," he finally murmurs. "You're even more beautiful than I imagined."

"I'm yours," she says, keeps her eyes from looking at his face. "Whatever you want."

He puts aside the sketchpad and rises, crosses the few feet separating them. "Caroline," he breathes. "You don't know how beautiful you truly are."

She waits for him to touch her, trace patterns over her skin, but he doesn't so much as brush against her. Instead, he circles her, leans in close, so his breath blows her hair back from her face, and whispers in her ear. "I want to draw you."

"What?" A wave of heat flashes through her and she's thankful he can't see the blush creeping from her breasts to her cheeks.

He returns to the chair and settles in, flips to a fresh page in his sketchpad, and acts like he didn't hear her. "There." He points to her bed. "I want to draw you there." He smiles when she doesn't move and his voice is gentle again. "Lie down, Caroline."

The tenderness in his voice snaps her into the moment and she storms to the bed and lies down on her stomach, acutely aware of her bare butt sticking up in the air.

He laughs but doesn't get up. "If that's the face you want to offer the world, it's your choice. I much prefer your real one."

She turns to glare at him and his expression softens. She realizes how she looks, hair falling around her face while she stares at him from beneath thick lashes. She looks like…she looks like she wants this. "You really want to draw me?"

"You are one of my passions."

She knows she should turn in for the night and pretend this never happened, but she doesn't. She always wanted to be Rose DeWitt Bukater when she grew up. There's no harm in living out one fantasy when she's let so many go.

"Okay," she says. "Tell me what to do."

She follows his lead and becomes the girl he wants her to be.

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