a/n: this is really blerrggh and disjointed and doesn't really work well chronologically and i'm sorry.

oh dream maker, you heartbreaker

Sunlight filters through the open window and the room glows.

Caroline presses her face against the Egyptian cotton sheets – she knows the thread count because Steven's made her feel the difference once when they went shopping together – and she breathes in and out, in and out, not remembering where she is but not being able to find it in herself to care.

The bed shifts and she turns around to see Klaus bent over her, an indecipherable smile on his face. She's reminded of another time, in another room, and it seems like a million years ago.

She wraps a hand around her neck, feels nothing but smooth skin. "Good morning."

"Morning, love." His eyes are cast downwards (anywhere but her face) as he purrs, his lithe white fingers ghosting a pattern in the column of her neck. "Feeling better?"

"Much."

Klaus leans downward and exhales slowly, his breath saccharine. "Good." The tantalizing circles his fingers are making on her skin brushes against her own.

She shivers.

His hands are running through her hair, pulling and tugging and twirling and oh.

It's like he's never even left; his lips are on hers and his hands are everywhere, and she giggles into his kiss and his voice rumbles through her as he laughs right back.

His kisses, warm and feathery light on her neck start going down – down – down

"Tyler—"

It's getting hard to talk.

"Tyler," she gasps again, nails digging into his shoulder. "I'm just – really glad—like really glad—"

A flick of his tongue across her navel and she blinks, seeing stars.

A smirk against her stomach, she feels that. "Really glad about what, Care?"

It's getting hard to breathe.

Caroline likes the way his mouth wraps around her name; how he licks his lips when he's anticipating an answer from her.

She flips through the magazine to read her horoscope (honestly, she doesn't know why she still believes in such things). The picture of boredom.

When it's clear that he's still waiting (she likes the fact that he never prompts; he'll just wait like he has all the time in the world –

– which in fact he does) she meets his eyes and says, "No."

"Doesn't matter." Klaus swoops down to where his charcoal and sketchbook are waiting and trains his eye on the furrow of her eyebrows and her disinterested lips. "I just needed you to make that face."

Caroline reaches a hand up to her face self-cautiously, frowning harder. "What face?" She blows her bangs out of her eyes and says, "Are you getting back at me about the pictures I found? I'm sure every vampire's gone through a hippie phase, Klaus."

Smirking, he waves his charcoal in her general direction, never looking up as he blows dust from the page. "Caroline," he warns.

She bites back a retort and reclines against the wing chair again, but her heart swells.

"…really glad you're back," Caroline says in one long exhale, but Tyler's not saying anything, neither is he kissing her anymore.

Something burns across her neck and she hears Tyler choke and suddenly she's being pushed back against the pillows.

("Tyler, what the hell—")

She struggles to get up but the sheets are in the way, tangling their legs together. She's panting, but this time not from his touches but because she can feel her skin crawling and her heart prickling and everything's hot, too hot.

"Oh God." Tyler's eyes are wide and he's scrambling back, nearly falling off the bed. "No. Please, no."

And she feels it.

("No no no no no," Tyler says, almost like a song.)

Oh yes, she feels it. The sticky wet blood trickling down the side of her neck and that stench. Her eyes tear up because she's smelled it before, and it's how she imagines death to smell like. "You didn't," she says, almost accusingly.

Tyler looks away.

Her hands scramble for the hand mirror she keeps in her drawer and she gasps at the bite festering at her neck.

The mirror crashes to the floor.

Sometimes they dance.

Klaus brings her to his chest and she breathes him in and they bump hips and it's not a perfect dance like you'd expect Miss Mystic Falls and a vampire who's had a thousand years to perfect his steps to share, but they stay that way for a while: Klaus swaying her across the floor and Caroline humming out Moon River.

The shadows of the window fall across their faces and he smiles down at her.

Tyler grabs her arms just as she's traipsing blindly towards the front door, hand clutching her neck as if to stop the spreading wound.

"Where are you going?" He doesn't mean to sound so harsh and Caroline knows it, yet she winces all the same.

Shrugging him off, she puts a hand on the doorknob. Turns it. "You know where."

Tyler gives a near inaudible strangled-cry and runs his hand hopelessly over his face. "Caroline—look, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to, just don't—" He takes her in his hands again, and doesn't want to let go. "Don't go back to him." His eyes burn through hers. "Please."

She doesn't say anything, but her mouth is set.

"Please," he says, quieter this time.

"I don't have a choice," she chokes out, eyes watering from the pounding in her head, "and you know it."

Tyler sighs and releases her, one finger at a time.

It's one of those rare moments where Klaus is touching her, and she's actually letting him.

All the paintbrushes are ruined -

(Klaus had been angry last night, Elijah had told her in a low voice as he meets her in the foyer.

"Angry about what?" Caroline's head tilts to the side.

Elijah doesn't answer, just stares at her the way Alaric would when he knows she knows the answer; it'll come anytime.

"...Tyler?" she asks tentatively.

Elijah pulls his hands out of his pockets. He doesn't say yes, but he doesn't say no either.)

– so they're using their hands to spread the acrylics across the canvas.

She's layering the paints almost mindlessly, not stopping to think about what she wants to achieve. She just likes the colors Klaus mixes for her, a dab here and a dab there and she's done with her canvas, and she casts it aside with the other paintings she'd finished in the span of one hour.

Klaus however, is not even halfway done with his. He frowns, swipes a finger across the canvas, wipes his finger off, mixes another color, and repeats the process. She trails over to where he's standing and has to stop herself from gaping.

"How do you do that?" Lips parted slightly, she waves her paint-speckled hands over his canvas. "With just your hands?" She frowns down on her own. "Mine sucks."

Klaus chuckles. "Don't sell yourself short, sweetheart." He's suddenly behind her, guiding her hand from the palette to the canvas. "Let me show you."

They're never this close when they aren't dancing, the sound of Klaus breathing making her painfully aware of it. They paint silently, his breath on her neck and her heart in her throat.

"Feeling better?" she asks (almost shyly) after a while.

"Much."

"Good," Caroline says. She doesn't know when it happens, but somehow their fingers end up tangling together so tight she doesn't know where she ends and he begins.

"Klaus." Tyler's eyes are vacant, his mouth a straight line.

Klaus turns away from his easel slowly, a stained rag in his hand. "Tyler. Can't say this is a lovely surprise," he says casually.

His eyes fall on Caroline, eyes dark and shoulder limp.

Suddenly Tyler finds himself being flung across the room, Klaus's hand clenched firmly around his neck, glass jars and tins of paint crashing around them.

Tyler's trying to explain, but there's a storm in Klaus's eyes and his hands are crushing, crushing, crushing –

"I warned you not to lay a finger on her," Klaus is snarling, Caroline's scream barely audible over the sound of Tyler's breath, haggard and less and fewer in between.

"Klaus!" Caroline lunges forward, nails digging into his shoulders. "Stop it!" She musters up enough strength to thump him, but knows it's futile. "Stop, just - please, stop!"

Tyler's eyes start to roll to the back of his head.

"She's not going to pick you, you know." Kol leans against the door frame, his smirk clouding up the room.

Klaus tightens his grip around the tumbler. "And what makes you think that?"

"A little birdie told me that hybrid you sired is coming back." He leans forward, unable to hide his smirk any longer. "Tyler, was it?"

He strolls into the room and pours himself a drink. "Apparently he's figured out a way to break the sire bon you've bound him to. Not to mention he can change at will now." Kol takes a sip of his drink. "Gallant of him, don't you think?"

Klaus narrows his eyes at him, white hot rage transferred into the slight trembling of his glass.

"Doesn't matter if you disagree," Kol shrugs. "But Caroline certainly thinks so."

From afar, they hear the familiar rumble of a car, footsteps plodding down the hall and the silver jingle of Caroline's voice as she calls out, "Klaus?"

"This should be interesting." Kol drains his drink.

"Leave," Tyler sneers. "You're not needed here."

Caroline freezes, expecting some kind of blow up – Tyler crashing against her closet doors, her furniture being torn apart even, but Klaus does nothing. She wonders how she had ever kidded herself into thinking she knows him.

Klaus smirks, standing his full height and Tyler visibly stiffens. He may have broken free of the sire bond, but Klaus's stance is still impressive. Maybe that's why he doesn't fight when Klaus hardens his mouth and says, "Why don't we let Caroline decide."

"So." Tyler turns to her, crossing his arms over his chest. His muscles ripple under his shirt and he leans against the edge of her desk. "What'll it be?"

Caroline shuts her eyes briefly, never once daring to look at Klaus.

"Caroline?" Tyler prompts.

I'm sorry, Caroline thinks. She opens her eyes and her mouth parts – but Klaus is already gone.

Later, after Tyler's done regaling her with tales of his painful transformations and lonely days in the woods, he asks (almost hesitantly), "Did you two…"

Caroline inhales sharply. "Did we what?"

Rubbing the back of his neck, his mouth twists into a grimace. "You know."

Caroline repositions her head on his chest. "No. Not like that."

Never like that.

Klaus doesn't say anything, just sits there, tips of his fingers – black from all the charcoal – touching together oh so lightly. Pensive.

Turning her head, she can just make out Tyler disappearing through the trees from the window. She can see a lot of the sky from the window, a lot of golden rays dancing across the walls. What a bright room for such a dark Original. Caroline looks at him. "It was an accident," she says, her voice a croak. "You didn't have to hurt him."

He sighs and takes in her form collapsed on his gilded French bed all trembling hands and thin lips. He rubs his eyes and leaves a dark stain behind – she wonders if it would stain her skin the same way if he touches her.

She wonders why she's thinking such things when she's about to die.

Finally Klaus speaks up. "Did you two…"

Caroline shakes her head once, weary all of a sudden. "We didn't."

The air seems to change around them. Caroline finds that it's suddenly easier to breathe, somehow. Klaus unfolds himself from his wingchair and walks towards her, shaking his sleeves lose. "Go ahead, sweetheart." She can hear his blood like thunder in his veins, and it's making her dizzy. "Have at it."

She flicks her eyes to his, uncertain – he's looking back at her, impassive. Biting down, she briefly wonder what Klaus might have done if she had said yes.

She's had enough to heal herself, she knows, but she can't seem to pull away. He tugs gently but she grasps his wrist and he tries to suppress a chuckle. After she's drank her fill – her head heady and her breathing shallow – she licks the wound clean, eyes on Klaus's.

His jaw clenches, and he moves to leave, but she catches his hand and holds tight.

"Stay with me," she vaguely remembers begging, each blink of her eyes lasting longer than the one before. "Please."

She doesn't allow herself to sleep until she feels the bed shift beside her.

Tyler's humming a song, and it makes her frown, because she can't quite place it. It's eating away at her, and she finds herself unable to concentrate on the Trigonometry spread out in front of her. She tries taps her pencil louder to drown it out, throws pointed looks at him (that go unnoticed). Finally, Tyler clears his throat and the humming stops. She sighs in relief.

"Are you done yet?" Tyler rolls over on his side to tug on a lock of her hair.

"Just two more," Caroline giggles, swatting him away. "Whatever you have in mind will have to wait."

"Fine." Tyler's eyebrows bob once impatiently and he turns to lie on his back. The humming slowly starts again.

This time, her head subconsciously sways to it, she remembers warm nights and floaty dresses and candles and —

She nearly drops her pencil. "Tyler, stop it."

"Mm? Oh." He smiles apologetically. "Sorry. Mom made me watch Breakfast at Tiffany's with her like three times over the weekend. You see," he grunts as he rolls off the bed to face her, "this is what happens when I've been home for two weeks and you barely let me kiss you." He trails a hand down her arm and her lips can't help from parting.

"Tyler, I..."

"I get stuck at home, watching some chick flick from the 60's," he says softly, then wrinkles his nose. "And it doesn't even have any decent arthouse porn scenes."

Caroline snaps her homework shut, tries to shove the song to the back of her mind. "So what do you propose we do instead?"

"You'll see." Tyler walks across to the windows to tug the curtains close and the room dims.