notes: can we just agree that klaus is a bamf? #leggo my eggo.
it's just real was my beta, thanks to her! caroline's reading tuck everlasting.
please do not favorite without reviewing. i loathe that immensely. REVISED 2/29/12.
take me away to some place real
because they say home
is where your heart is set in stone
—home, gabrielle aplin
She was six, when she first wanted to learn how to ride a bike.
Elena and Bonnie were already riding their unearthly cool princess bikes, and she was stuck on her immature tricycle, with peeling stickers, and unwieldy pedals. She had asked her mother to teach her, but—"Caroline, someone has to work in this family. We can't all dilly-dally, with childish things like learning how to ride a bike!"—and most of the time, she thinks it doesn't really matter, something as stupid and trivial as learning to ride a bike. She's taught herself to grow up, and her parents are fundamentally divorced, even if not legally.
Mostly though, it's the fact that her mother smells like those things called cigarettes and tart coffee, with disapproval firm in her stern hazel eyes—Sheriff Forbes' eyes, not mommy's eyes—not warmth and comfort and home. And maybe, a little bit because her father comes home past twilight, with the pungent smell of scotch and perspiration—it's sad she knows that her daddy's been having s-e-x, isn't it?
This is how it always begins for her—never being enough, never having a home.
Caroline used to fantasize about her pale hair. Loved wringing her fingers through it, twirling it in ringlets, only to let it out again and again, have the most wonderful dreams about it—cherish it so much, because it was the only thing Elena didn't already have, even if she wanted to have it—Elena could never have the exact shade as hers though.
She's seventeen, with an almost-perfect attitude, almost-perfect thoughts, and an almost-perfect smile—caught in the midst of other ordinary, almost-perfect girls and boys. The thought that she is never quite perfect, isn't lost on her, just shuffled, and stashed in the back of her brain, where the seams are un-tied, or unthreaded all-together.
Seventeen—a birthday away from being of legal age to vote, and—not much else. But the age seems so elegant, something unrecognizably special, something she has first before Elena and Bonnie.
Caroline is seventeen when she is bitten, rotten and ruined for any other aged, poised forever at the everlasting age of seventeen—which has absolutely nothing special about it. Except, maybe it being the emphatically almost-perfect age.
She flips ascending through the dog-eared novel, shouting joyously, with a gap widening in her heart, "I'm going to be seventeen forever!"
She likes the Salvatore's basement.
(She swings her legs back-and-forth on the frosty fridge—perched there so innocently—letting it hit her bare legs on the unyielding piece of furniture. She makes sure the door is locked, so that Damon can't just burst in, without the acknowledgement of a simple door-knocking. Cut off from the world of vampires she's been forced to become accustomed to. The brisk air, squirming its way through the cracks of cement—grasping at her arms, that are covered in the skimpy lace of a barely-there sweater, and heels the color of her maraschino red skimmed lips. She probably would have shivered—if she was able to feel it.
There's a mirror across from her, a big, clear, without speckles of hand or bloody duplicate finger-prints.
If she squints really hard—scrutinizing her appearance, with her eyelashes fluttering on her cheek—just a brush of almost-long-enough lashes—she can see pin-straight brunette tresses, naturally pink-pink lips, and perfect-ocher eyes. A perfect-Elena, with adapting-age, changing every year and—
"Goddamn, I'm tired—" she yells, but doesn't finish her sentence because she's forgotten the next words, moving with her supreme, vampire-speed towards the mirror and smashing it—allowing for shards to dig into the soles of her flesh laden palms, striking long strips, making exes. The cuts are intact in a few moments, like they were never there in the first place. The blood was never there.
Good, she thinks belatedly, that's better now.)
(Klaus who calls her love, darling, doll, and sometimes sweetheart, and he never calls her Caroline—it's a bit maddening, the way he drawls them out too, all suave and mellifluous on her, sliding down her skin like honey and blood. He's chalked her up in charcoals, the distinct opposite of her fair complexion, with sweet, dazzling, gentlemanly words, quite the contrary of his volatile reactions, but—she convinces herself, that this is just an act, a perfectly-executed act of humanity. Klaus, with old Hollywood glamour, golden hues of electricity that flows through her veins. Klaus, with baby-blues, ones that rival Damon's, but more eloquent and, how does a fucking psycho-path, you goes around changing her sorta-boyfriend into his freaky Hybrid-kind (see: population of two), have... fucking dimples?)
The glittering chandelier lights glare off the tiny encrusted diamonds on her dress, her hand clutching a champagne flute as she wonders wordlessly about the audacity these Mikaelsons have.
"You look... stunning," Klaus grins devilishly, popping out of nowhere, the feeling of glory in his smile festering in her heart. It's the damn dimples, she swears. She's always had a thing for dimples. "That dress looks lovely on you, sweetheart."
"First off," she starts pointedly, holding a slender finger up, "I am not your sweetheart. And secondly," she pauses for effect, arching a daring eyebrow. "I know I look beautiful, and you do too, since you sent me the stupid dress in the first place!" She continues on her ranting success, wagging her claret painted-finger at him in shameful way. "Why'd you send it to me anyway? Tyler's gone now, so—"
"Why not send you the bloody dress? I sure as bloody hell don't want it." He murmurs idyllically, drawling in a lazy fashion, and vampires as evil as Klaus should not, in any way, be idyllic.
"Because... Because—" Caroline sputters, trying to think up a plausible excuse besides you're the bad guy and because I said so. "You tried to kill Elena and you did your sire-freaky whatever to Tyler, who is my boyfriend, by the way, you—"
He just laughs good-naturedly, in a husky tone that makes her see stars for a second, not at all caring about his misadventures with her friends over the months. "Wow," he takes a sip of whiskey soundlessly, caressing the shell of her ear lightly. She ceases to shiver, suppressing the eminent urge. "You sure are a feisty one, aren't you?"
"Oh my god!" She almost screeches, listing off his unredeemed qualities, as onlookers glance at them disapprovingly, "Listen you, moronic, pompous, faux-gentlemen—" she doesn't bother to finish her sentence, with the proximity of his body and blue eyes.
He leans down, too close to her—way too close, before letting his lips linger on the corner of her hers for just a second longer than necessary, but then it becomes necessary—yes it does. His long svelte fingers pressing languidly on the small of her back, an electrifying experience. And—she can taste the faint tracing of dulled whiskey and peppermint, and she wishes she smelled the same, with her hands on his lapels of his tuxedo.
But then he's swooping away, leaning on the bar, while swirling his glass of amber and winking at her arrogantly, before waltzing away like it's no big deal.
"Seriously, Care," Elena says, Bonnie giggling into her hand arbitrarily. "You seriously don't know how to ride a bike?"
Caroline's cheeks flush. "Well, 'Lena, you didn't know how to swim, until, like ninth grade, when Matt taught you." She feels the familiar pang in her chest at the mention of the golden boy. It was for the best though, staying with Matt, would have hurt him.
Elena glares at her, but doesn't refuse the acclamation. "Whatever."
"Do you think you can... maybe, like teach me though?" She asks, a bit embarrassed.
Elena shrugs her shoulders, which more or less means no in "Elena Language."
"What about you, Bon?"
Bonnie shakes her head, looking apologetic, "Sorry, Care. I need to practice some new spells. Ever since Gram's died; I've been getting a bit rusty."
She hides her disappointment behind a toothy smile, and wide eyes. "It's okay, guys. It's just learning how to ride a bike, right?"
They answer in a simultaneous yeah, before going on and on about Elena's seemingly-eternal boy troubles.
Caroline all but forgotten.
Klaus first sends her an invitation—nothing even that grand, more like a note, with messy scrawl at best, odd, considering he's centuries old—to a coffee date at The Grill. Attached to the foot of an owl, Harry Potter-esque style. It's abhorred, the fact that she finds his humor—endearing.
She doesn't answer back, because well, why should she? She just happens to be walking by The Grill, and she got a bit hungry, so she just happened to go inside, and she just happened to not see Klaus, and truly, she was going to go, but—
"Looking for me, love?" calls a tuned voice, old-English, and she cracks a little smile just thinking about the invitation he sent to her. "I think you were."
She stutters unconvincing, "Wha—no! That's absurd, Klaus." She crossed her arms of her chest defensively, unknowingly enhancing her cleavage, where Klaus' eyes were now trained to. "I was... I was looking for Stefan. He told me to meet him here."
Klaus just smirks rakishly, dangerously treading on arrogant territory. "Oh, you mean that Stefan, who's tossing back shots, with Rebekah?" Pointing over to the bar, where Stefan and Rebekah were indeed tossing back shots.
"Why do you want to hang out with me, anyway?" Caroline ran a hand through hair, exhausted with fighting with everyone. "You don't even know me," she insisted.
"Well, darling." He intertwines their fingers, tugging her along to a pre-ordered coffee, it slightly tepid. "Maybe, I would like the chance to."
She lets the silence hang over them, reverberating without the sound. Until, coming up with a decision, "Fine," stopping to lick her lips. "But no touching."
He hesitates, only for a moment. "Okay."
"Okay," she repeats slowly. "And get me another cup of coffee, please; this one's cold."
"I'm sorry," or, "It's not you, it's me," maybe, "it's just Elena's perfect, and you're... insecure, but we can still be friends—"
Whenever someone leaves her—and they always do, sometime or another—she waits a while behind them, waiting and waiting, for them to turn back around, and look back at her. Think she's worth another chance—another glance, just once, to see if maybe they're wrong. That maybe she doesn't need to be perfect, or maybe she is perfect in her own Caroline-esque way.
But, they never do and things never change. Caroline doesn't know if she'll ever stop waiting and that's the worst part.
I'll be waiting, she mutters into the sky, glazed over on dawn and the blood of a woman, with warm skin and hot blood curdling on her tongue, the veins around her eyes red-red.
Stefan would be disappointed.
A string of hair falls from her hair, onto an ivory parchment, while she's reading that night, darkness encroaching on her into the silence of her lone house. "Spend forever with me, Winnie?"
Wishing and waiting.
"Don't be afraid of death, Winnie—" she reads, her hair in a sloppy bun, her periwinkle pajama shorts bunched up, almost as if she's in a prolonged-wedgie. "Be afraid of the unlived life."
She pretends not to see Klaus' dark melancholic cloud sweeping in the room, the intensity of his gaze burning a hole in the skin of her collarbone, and the movement of her lips. It doesn't matter anyway; he's gone before she turns the page again.
"Tyler!" Caroline squeals, "What are you doing here? How are—"
But his fingers are already wrapped around the small patch of skin between the top of her jeans and her shirt, grabbing and licking at her navel and oh my. She giggles sultrily, waiting for that fluttering feeling to drag its way up her ribcage, but it never comes. His grumbled laugh muffled through their kisses. He smiles against her throat, hot on the tenderness of her neck.
No, not now—not yet—
"I'm cured now," he smiles proudly. "I'm fixed, Care," she resists the urge to cringe at the nick-name, hearing the crescendo of sweethearts and loves, in a potent English accent. "Isn't that great?"
She nods, "That's awesome, Tyler."
He licks the long column of her neck. "I missed you," he says simply, the eyes glistening in the sunlight that filters through organza curtains.
There's a small blimp of silence, before she replies with, "I missed you, too."
He pushes her on her back, letting her fall on the covers, and she imagines blue eyes looking down at her instead of chocolate.
"Tyler's back," she shouts at his sprawled state across the velvet couch, a fickle hand loosely holding onto his glass of custom whiskey. The disposition is almost frightening alike to one of Damon's. She wonders if she should take this as a sign, the world trying to tell her get out of that house, get Klaus out of your thoughts. "Did you know?"
He takes his sweet time answering her, before saying simply, "Yes."
"Why didn't you tell me?" Caroline huffs, practically throwing a temper-tantrum.
He walks away, going up the stairs, as she follows identically, trying to keep up with him.
"Well?" She asks again, verging on a shrill bleat.
"Because I didn't feel like it, sweetheart," Klaus replies, mindlessly, studying the movement of her lips once again.
"Did—did you just?" She's trying to figure out if he's insane or just a lunatic like that. "You didn't feel like it?"
It's this time when he starts stripping, removing his shirt, and shoes, as she paces on in the doorway. When he's about to remove his pants, she finally notices—a tad inappropriate, she realizes, tardily.
"Wha—what are you doing?" She screams, commanding attention to herself. She tries to stop her pants, doing yoga breaths she's learned with Bonnie over the summer. Caroline is bewildered at his sense of meager modesty.
"Getting ready to take a shower, love." She barely has time to turn herself around, but gets a brief flash of boxer-briefs, and lean legs. "Care to join me?"
She momentarily forgets her next words, trailing off in her head, the continuing relapses of Klaus, boxer-briefs, almost-naked, elapsing past the sensible part of her mind.
"Piss off, you idiot!" She yells (unpolitically correct, consider Klaus is a bit of a mastermind, but that's just technicalities), once again, before storming out in a flurry, once again.
Klaus, boxer-briefs, almost-naked.
The morning when she wakes up, she finds a sketch of herself from a distance, she doesn't know when he remembered this from, creased and smudged by her turnings in the night—she figures, she forgives him.
"Don't you care that he tried to kill me?" Elena blares, pained hurt painted clearly on her features. "Or—or that he sire-bonded with Tyler, you know, your boyfriend?"
Caroline shrugs her shoulders, finding it hard to care anymore about how Elena feels and how Elena is hurt and Elena, Elena, Elena. "Elena, it's not that big of a deal. Klaus isn't even that bad." Elena opens her mouth, but Caroline interrupts her before she can say anything. "Besides, aren't you the one who kissed Damon? And, who thinks Elijah walks on water? Didn't Stefan kill hundreds of people, too?" Caroline demands bitingly. "Yeah, I think that was you, wasn't it? You're always so quick to judge, Elena."
Elena's speechless, her mouth catching flies, she doesn't deny it, either.
This time Caroline leaves first, without spewing an I'm sorry into forgotten air, because she's not sorry this time. She sees the allure of not looking back.
Caroline likes the way he never leaves; so much that she just has to leave, before he will want to. She kind of always wants to run, because it's like a train coming, she can feel the ground clattering, with consecutive undulations, and she kind of wants to run.
"Caroline, what the hell is going on?" Tyler exclaims, she looks at him quizzically. "I just heard from Elena, that you've been having... fucking dates, with fucking Klaus?"
"No, Caroline," he rules, kicking walls so hard the picture frames shake in her lone house. "No, no, no, no. You have to fucking choose! Me—me, who fought my instinct to Klaus' sire-bond, which Klaus put on me. Or," he barely manages not to gag, "the fucking lunatic himself!"
"I," she speaks, but she has no more words to slip past.
"Well, I guess I have my answer," he says bitterly, stomping out, without looking back.
Sometimes she lets herself draw with him. It's one of those seldom times where he's touching her, and she's letting him, because trying to elude Klaus is like trying to elude the lit sun. Virtually impossible.
A bucket of paint-brushes sit off to the side, lonely and wet.
Lacing her fingers with his graceful ones, while he holds the charcoal, and she draws the delicate lines or swirls—smudging their hands together in the foreseen process.
(She has an impulsive idea to see if she touched his lips or his chest, maybe his arms, what the color would like against his skin. But that wonder, fades away, because she's Caroline and he's Klaus and who was she ever kidding?)
Usually they make a jumbled mess, and un-orderly, but sometimes they make this field of bright white, graphite grey, and lead black—weaved in strips, complicated yet simple. She finds it similar to their relationship—so utterly complicated, bound with loose ends that it makes it so simplistic and maybe they can just be.
"... so, you're serious?" Caroline addresses Klaus, looking at him unbelievably. As if what he's telling her is crazy. "You've never had birthday cake before?"
Klaus walks around her house, opening cabinet drawers, staring at her pictures on the mantle, absorbing the information like a sponge, soaking up all the clippings and pieces of Caroline that he can get his hands on.
"No, doll." He licks his cracked lips. "I've never had a birthday cake, if that's so hard to believe."
"Hey, mister." She cocks her head to the side, her hands on her hips. "It is totally hard to believe."
Klaus half-smirks, "What, little Miss Mystic Falls, got the most marvelous cakes, right?"
She guffaws, "No, I always had to make my own birthday cakes."
He stares at her blankly, a small twitch in his eyes that remind her to blink. "Really?" He inquires.
"Yes," she consents, bewildered.
He hums dulcet.
Later, that same night, when her mother decides to take an extra shift—they bake a cake, or at least, attempt to. The cake batter splattering on the counters, flour and eggs chaotically spread out in heaps, the bottom of the cake stuck to the pan, crusted and burnt.
They feed each other small bites, the warmth spilling over in their hands, torn between retching it out, or reveling in its beauty.
The sky is blue—blue as Klaus' eyes, blue as glacier lakes, bluer than ever. The sweat sticks inside the crooks of her elbows.
"Don't let go," she makes him promise, gripping the handle bars with steady strength. "Just—just don't let go, okay?"
"I won't," he lilts. She shakes her head; he rolls his eyes. "I promise I won't let go, darling."
"Okay," she nods, hoping it will give her the courage to do this. "I can ride a bike, right? I'm a fucking vampire, I can ride a bike. I'm ready, Klaus," she called.
She starts peddling, tittering on the edge of falling down, her feet going radically fast, then slow, her flaxen weaves of silk blowing in her eyes, but Klaus is always running with her, never letting go.
Caroline thinks, maybe he never will, either.
"For some time passes slowly, an hour can seem an eternity. For others there's never enough. For the Tucks, it didn't exist," she whispers, and for once, when she looks up, Klaus' laying right next to her. The hard body pressing into hers, his skin intriguingly warm—inviting like warmth and comfort and home.
She kind of wants them to stay like that forever.