sequel to 'love is like a sin, my love'. you don't necessarily have to read that to understand this, but for continuity's sake. . .

written for ishichan's prompt at (you've guessed it) vd-kink over at livejournal. Definitely not as kinky as the last one, though. thanks to becauseyouretall for beta-ing!

and days die young when you're gone (and you're gone)

The sheets are always cold.

As much as his skin slides across the Egyptian cotton and as far as her golden hair spills over his pillows, by the time the sun rises, the bed feels like a wasteland—empty and bare and so very cold. His hands searches and his mind yearns, but the ache in his chest isn't enough to make her appear before him when he opens his eyes.

He runs a hand down the spot where she usually sleeps and tries to imagine her smooth hips and lithe legs warming up the sheets, conjures a memory from the far corner of his mind of the one time he'd woken up and she was still lying there next to him. Golden and bare and beautiful. Soft hair curling against her pink lips. Dark lashes shadowing her porcelain cheekbones. He wants to rest his head against her soft stomach; reaches a hand to touch her, but then she's gone—just a memory, just a dream.

Where his breathing mingles with hers, where her hair falls across his shoulders as she whispers his name above him, where lips touch and hands meet, aren't enough to make her stay. He'll go to sleep with his hands always tracing patterns on her hip; hovering around her waist, never quite touching, and when he wakes his hands hover around nothing.

The sheets remain cold.

But they aren't always cold, Klaus recalls. Not at night, at any rate. Sometimes he likes pressing her close, knowing the heat coming off of him would make her beg and plead for him to throw the windows open. Sometimes the heat gets so that she'll kick the sheets to the cool marble floor and settle down there, and he'll just stare at her for a moment, baffled, before joining her anyway.

Sometimes, when Caroline is finally asleep, he'll draw obscure patterns on the small of her back and watch as she stirs, but doesn't wake, to his warm touch.

He'll draw her at times.

The clench of her fingers just screams how little self-restraint she has when it comes to him, and as she steps through his doors, the look on her face just fills him with the oddest sense of joy. When he pulls her towards him, he makes sure her eyes are alert and open when he starts to work at her buttons and rip at her sleeves, always tracing his hands down her arms, feeling the goose bumps across her flesh.

"I hate you," she'll always say when he has her against the wall—and that's always enough to stop him. Always enough to make him take a step back, always enough to tell her to Please, take a seat, as he collects his charcoals and settles into the wingchair across the room.

"Klaus." She narrows her eyes. "Can we just get this over with?"

"In a bit, sweetheart." He sketches the thin line of her jaw, the curve of her lips, the tilt of her eyebrows, the curl of her hair—and then he glances at her. "The look of self-loathing in your eyes is delicious."

Half the time he doesn't even mean it, but the way she looks at him is enough to put a smile on his face. Better than the way she sweeps her eyes over his face as he brushes his lips across her knuckles—a thousand years on earth and he still can't read through the blank canvas her face becomes.

Hate, he decides, is better than nothing.

It's better than nothing.

But then again, Klaus thinks, no matter how many times she says she hates him—screams it, in fact—it still doesn't stop her from wrapping her legs around him, from letting out a breath—of want? Desire? Need? He likes to think so—when he leaves open mouthed kisses down her neck, doesn't stop her from tearing into his skin with her nails when he gives her an inch instead of the mile that she wants; doesn't make her look away when he's on top of her, whispering You're so beautiful, you're so beautiful.

Caroline has so much life in her eyes when she laughs, he would have thought it ironic had he not been so astounded. She's sitting at her usual table, with Stefan stealing a fry from her plate and Damon nudging her shin from under the table and Elena snapping a picture with her phone.

Really, it shouldn't matter to him when Stefan rests a hand on Caroline's arm as he laughs along with her; shouldn't settle in his stomach like a stone the way she leans towards him in the slightest—shouldn't make him want to burn the whole Grill down the way her eyes shine when he smiles at her.

But it doesn't stop his shoulders from tensing and his pencil from snapping in his hand.

And then, as if sensing his presence from all the way across the restaurant, Caroline turns and catches his eye.

It's like time ceases to exist as she blinks at him, her dark lashes fluttering, her lips set in a straight line. It's a nice change, seeing her in the daylight instead of the soft glow of his bedside lamp.

A sudden desire to walk over to her, tear her away from her little group of friends rises in his chest so quickly his feet almost start to move of their own accord. Stupid, he thinks, because where would he take her? To his house, probably. She doesn't like going to her place, doesn't like him on her bed. Prefers to fuck him in his sheets, meet him at his house, lest her friends catch his scent in her room or see him on her porch.

And then Caroline looks away, and the spell's broken. The feeling that had risen in his chest mere seconds ago is now kicking him in the stomach. He slumps back in his chair, watching her wipe ketchup off the chin of her precious Salvatore.

He doesn't mean to sound so bitter, but his broken pencil seems to beg to differ.

"Aren't you a creep today," Rebekah remarks from her spot beside him, sipping daintily from her straw. There's a smudge of whipped cream on her nose from her milkshake, and he doesn't tell her, opting to smirk down at his sketchbook instead.

He hasn't drawn Caroline as Rebekah had assumed. Rather, he had drawn the idea of Caroline—where she smiles without it being forced, where he runs a hand through her hair and she lets him; where she where she reaches a hand out and he takes it.

He'll look through the pictures in the morning, after he wakes up to an empty bed in an empty room in an all-too-empty house, tries to recall that one golden morning when she was there, but finds that he can't. He also finds that he can't make Caroline stay. Not just yet. Because he knows—he just knows—that the only way she would look at him with more than provoked-revulsion in her eyes, or indifference, is if he released Tyler from his sire bond. And he certainly can't do that.

Tyler's the only leverage he has left.

"It's almost nine," Rebekah says, hovering by the doorway.

Klaus spares her a glance before turning back to his whiskey, swirling the liquid around and watching it splash over the ice. When a few minutes have passed and Rebekah's still standing there, he sighs, frustrated. "I'm aware."

He throws her an exasperated look when she still doesn't leave. "Well?"

Rebekah looks like she wants to say something potentially biting. He knows this because her lips twitch the same way it does before she insults the doppelganger's hair, or slams Kol's face down against the kitchen counter.

Rebekah's not one to stand up to her big brother. And so he waits.

"You know what I've realized?" Rebekah asks, finally stepping inside the room. She walks towards his bookcase in light steps, nonchalantly toeing the ground with the tips of her Tory Burch flats. She raises an eyebrow, the slight bob of her head mocking him.

Klaus relents with a controlled (but just barely), "What?"

"You can make a girl come," his sister says, "but you can't make her stay."

Klaus sets his drink down on the mantel, his eyes narrowing into slits. He's dangerously still, but Rebekah still has that infuriating quirk to her brow. He thinks he feels a faint streak of pride rising in his chest (aren't we a pair?) but then he realizes his irritation outweighs it far more. "What makes you think I want—"

"Oh please," Rebekah says with an impatient sniff. "I see the way you look at her. I see the way you always shut yourself up in your stupid little art room the moment she leaves."

"I just want to know why," Rebekah says, before Klaus has a chance to retort.

"You have me, and you have Elijah, and you have Kol. You have your family," Rebekah says.

"Why are you still pining?" Rebekah says.

"Are we not enough?" Rebekah says.

Klaus releases a sharp breath. "Nothing's ever enough, Rebekah. Didn't you know that?" He tips his head back and drains his drink, watching the ice catch the light coming from the fireplace. "We want the unattainable." He looks at his sister, whose lips are parted as if to respond, but he cuts her off with a: "Yes, we do. You would know. You've experienced it with your precious Salvatores."

Rebekah shuts her mouth as Klaus mulls over his empty crystal glass. He says, more to himself than to her, "We want the unattainable. Foolishly. Hopelessly. All the time."

The doorbell rings.

He thinks he's going insane, the way he keeps trying to remember the way the rising sun had lit up her skin, a glowing ember against his dark bed. How her nose had crinkled when she yawned, how she looked all around her as if searching for an exit strategy before finally settling her eyes on him.

He can't remember the way she looked exactly before she opens her eyes. He tries to, but he can't.

He thinks he's going insane, the way he can't remember.

He's losing his patience; half-tempted to just compel her to love him, like him, want him—even lets her know as much.

"Oh, but I'm on vervain," she'll say, her hair fanning about her shoulders in the light breeze coming from the open window. Klaus wonders if this childlike innocence—naivety, gullibility—of hers will fade over time.

Klaus kisses her then, and it's slow. Languid. Tender. Her fingers stop running through his hair as she props herself up on her elbows, slightly out of breath. "Hey. What are you doing?"

"Kissing you," he says, like it's the most obvious thing in the world—like it's the only thing that matters as he works his lips over the spot that never fails to make her gasp, make her curl into him with an almost animalistic sound purring from the back of her throat.

He thinks it has to be the most erotic thing he's ever heard.

"You smell good," he murmurs against her skin, letting his hand explore the flat expanse of her stomach while the other roams slowly down her thigh. He trails kisses up her jaw back to her lips, brushing the tips of their noses together, wants to keep kissing her, but pauses to look at her when her fingers leave his hair completely. "Something wrong, love?"

Caroline blinks her wide eyes at him, and he recognizes that kink in her eyebrows as she frowns. That exact one before she says—

"I should go."

She slides out of the bed with ease, like she's had practice; like she's done it so many times before (and she has).

Kol thinks Klaus wants her. (Foolishly.)

Rebekah says Klaus needs her. (Hopelessly.)

Elijah doesn't say anything; doesn't make any assumptions. He just flips through Klaus' sketchbook, eyebrow furrowed in thought, and when he hands it back to his brother, he asks, Do you?

Klaus looks away. (All the time.)

The night she almost stays is a cold one.

She's wrapped up in his sheets like an Eskimo and he tells her she looks ridiculous (but of course he doesn't mean this; all the better to rip it off of her later).

"I may look like a narwhal," Caroline says with a sniff, "but at least I'm warm."

"I know of other ways to get warm," Klaus smirks, shutting off the reading lamp and placing his book onto the bedside table. Beside him, Caroline makes a face.

"Not tonight," she says, twisting away.

Klaus frowns, mystified. "Then why did you even come?"

Under the pile of blankets and sheets, Caroline is silent.

"Miss Forbes." Klaus scoops her up, blankets and all, and says (with an almost cheerful tune to his voice), "If I didn't know any better, I'd say you're starting to enjoy my company."

Caroline scoffs and wriggles out of her fort, and suddenly she has him against his headboard, straddling him. "Never. And I'll prove it to you."

"Let me get this straight." Klaus places his hands on her hips, already feeling his throat go dry from the things she's doing with them. "You're going to prove you don't like me by sleeping with me?"

Caroline's answer is in the innocent fluttering of her eyelashes and the slow, not-very-innocent rocking of her hips. Klaus groans and closes his eyes, and a moment later he feels Caroline rest her hands flat on his chest.

"Klaus," she whispers, her lip inches away from his. "I know what you've been doing."

"Being all... sweet." She touches her forehead to his. "We can't have this, Klaus."

He opens his eyes. "Can't have what?"

She's giving him that look, the one that just screams Seriously?, and he relents, sitting up. "Fine," he grouses. "Why not?"

"Because!" Caroline says, like it's the most obvious thing in the world. "Because you're Klaus, and I'm Caroline, and we don't live in a world where creepy psycho hybrids who killed my best friend's Aunt Jenna and the vampire you forced my boyfriend to bite can co-exist peacefully."

Klaus' eyebrows furrow. "Come again?"

Caroline just shakes her head. "We can't have this," she says firmly.

Klaus groans again, resting his forehead on her bare shoulder. He brushes his lips along the length of her collar bone, and when he feels her start to lean in to him he runs his hand down her back, holding her closer when she shivers. Her breath catches in her throat when he starts kissing lower, not stopping even when he feels her stiffen in his arms.

"Kl—" She rests a hand on his chest and blinks, dazed. "I should go." She starts shimmying away, off the bed, but his hand catches her arm.

"Wait," he says, and he clears his throat, chasing the hoarseness away. "Why don't you... it's late. Stay."

"Klaus—" Caroline starts to say, but Klaus already has her by her waist, already has her thrown back against his pillows, already has his hips pressing against hers.

"Stay," he says again, placing a kiss at the tender spot behind her ear. He hears her sigh into his hair; feels her fingers find their way to the back of his neck. She's actually melting back against the sheets, snuggling down into a more comfortable position, until her phone bleats out a catchy, unfamiliar tune.

Her lips pull away from his and he sees her eyes widen in the dark.

"Don't," he growls, but she already has her phone in her hands. He notices the way her fingers tremble. "Caroline?"

"I—" She looks at him, and he looks back at her.

For once in her life, Caroline Forbes is speechless.


tyler's back.

Klaus awakens one morning with the fierce desire to burn Mystic Falls—burn the entire universe—down to its core and a lust for blood humming in his veins.

On days like these even Kol knows better than to provoke him, skirting around him in the hallways and not once making a snide comment. Rebekah doesn't bring home any of her commoner boys. Elijah leaves out a bottle of their finest Bourbon, saved only for the rarest of occasions, for Klaus in his study that night.

If Klaus weren't so wrapped up in his own thoughts, weren't always slashing so viciously at his canvases with colours so dark, he would think his family actually cared.

Klaus awakens the next morning with a dull aching in his chest and a throbbing in his head. He doesn't have skewered visions of Caroline wrapped up in his sheets, but he ends up throwing his mattress through the wall and out into the front lawn.

Too big, he says to an inquiring Elijah.

Too empty, he doesn't say.

"Explain to me this one thing, Klaus," Tyler says through gritted teeth one day, not even bothering with a simple hi there or holla or whatever it is simple-minded boys such as himself go by these days. Klaus feels a pulse in his jaw, feels that familiar tingle in his gums when his fangs would extend; balls his hands up into fists to keep from ripping Tyler's face right off his head.

"Explain what?" Klaus drawls instead, raising his crystal glass in Tyler's direction. "How was your little holiday? Care for a drink?"

Tyler makes his way to the lounge chair Klaus is sprawled across and actually grabs him by the collar of his shirt—grabs him by the collar of his shirt—and drags him to his feet—drags him to his feet—to meet his eyes.

"She smelled like you," Tyler snarls into his face, and it's all Klaus can do to hold back a chuckle. "The night I came back, she smelled like you—I would know, I've been trying to get you and your entire being out of my fucking mind since I left."

"Tyler, m'boy." The genial smile on Klaus' face drops, and the light goes out of his eyes. He grips Tyler's hands (Tyler barely suppresses his cry of pain) and wrenches it off his neck. "One: don't ever touch me again."

"You don't control me anymore," Tyler says with a set jaw. His eyes burn right through Klaus'.

"And two," Klaus continues as though there had been no interruption, "To answer your indirect question, yes. We fucked while you were gone, several times." He pauses in mock thought. "Many times, come to think of it."

Tyler shivers once, and then practically explodes in his rage. "You son of a—"

But Klaus already has him flung across the room, cracking into the granite mantelpiece. Tyler staggers to his feet, and Klaus slowly, casually, makes his way towards him. "She might have hated it, she might have screamed it out for the world to hear..." Klaus shrugs, a wicked smile lighting up his face. "But she also screamed my name. Every. Single. Time."

Klaus is pleased to see that Tyler's eyes are actually glassy as he clutches at his side. He crouches down to meet the Lockwood boy's eyes. "So what, pray tell, are you going to do about it?"

Tyler winces, feeling his cracked ribs coming together and healing themselves. At long last, he looks up at Klaus. "I'm going to love her. Something you could never do." He raises his voice just the slightest bit at how livid Klaus' face becomes, and says deliberately, "Something you could never deserve."

Klaus brings his fist down, and when he draws back it's wet with blood.

Klaus kills three people on his way back from the Grille.

A man walking his dog (whose severed arm ends up being dragged along the sidewalk by his cocker spaniel). A woman with athletic arms and shiny dark tresses who smiles at him as he crosses the street (and later looks up at him with vacant eyes and mouth a slash of red). A teenage boy in a varsity jacket (which ends up being shredded to bits, soaked with blood down to its every fibre).

Klaus would have killed four people, really, but the boy's girlfriend is a pretty little thing with blonde hair curling down her back and youth and terror and something like insanity brewing in her eyes at the feel of her boyfriend's limp body in her arms.

He looks into her eyes once again and thinks, Mostly youth. He lets her go and he knows exactly why and it makes him sick to his stomach.

The doorbell rings.

Klaus looks up from his first-edition copy of Die Leiden des jungen Werthers—Elijah smiles ruefully at that—and frowns when he checks the time on his Cartier wristwatch.


He hears rather than sees Caroline's entrance, considering she's yelling for him at the top of her lungs. He sighs and puts the book aside, but as he's getting up from his wingchair—his favourite one under his window, the one with the direct view of his bed that one morning Caroline had opened her eyes, when she'd stretched luxuriously into him later, when she'd straddled him with her lithe cheerleader's legs, when her hair had tickled his chest as she'd leaned down for a kiss—

"This needs to stop," Caroline says heatedly as she stomps into his room, slamming the palms of her hands into his chest, making him fall back into his chair. "Jack Harper was my partner in biology."

He looks up at her and groans inwardly, because it looks like she's been crying. Honestly, how was he expected to just know these things? Why couldn't the residents of Mystic Falls come with hazard signs or blinking neon signs? ATTENTION: Do Not Kill This Boy; He Is Very Important To Someone.

Klaus snorts.

Caroline's hands slam down on his chest again. "You think this is funny." It's not a question, but a statement. Like she can't believe he could actually be this cruel, this vile—

(Oh, but he can. Just look at that unfortunate dog walker.)

—and she stands back, her cheeks tinged red from her emotional outburst.

"I get bored," Klaus shrugs. He lets his eyes trail up her legs slowly, and then meets her eyes. "Nothing to distract me anymore."

"So that's all I was?" Caroline shakes her head, taking a step back. "A distraction?"

Klaus looks at her, this time with genuine surprise in his eyes. "Does that upset you, sweetheart?" He raises his glass and swirls the ice around, and Caroline narrows her eyes like the cheerful tinkle of ice colliding with crystal is a personal offense. He's takes a large gulp of his whiskey and it's burning down his throat like an inferno until his glass is knocked out of his hand and he hears it shattering against the wall.

Caroline has her mouth in a hard line as she starts to pace the room. Whether subconsciously or not, Klaus isn't sure. She doesn't actually answer his question. "I'm not your sweetheart."

"Then what are you?" He starts to get up to pour himself another drink, because he can feel his gums tingling again, but Caroline shoves him back down. He can barely suppress his growl.

"I'm not done yet."

"Clearly," he spits out, but this time he stays in the chair. "If this is about the Lockwood boy's face—he's a hybrid now. It will heal." And there it is again, that infuriating urge to roll his eyes whenever that infuriating boy comes up in another one of their infuriating conversations. But because he can (and mostly because he's Klaus), he can't resist adding: "If you ask me, I did him a favour."

Caroline glares at him. "Why don't you take a long walk off a short pier?"

"Since we're being mature here," Klaus says, allowing himself a tiny roll of the eyes, "why don't you leave?"

She does, with a huff. He stays in the chair for a long time.

He can hear the blood thundering through her veins like a rushing in his ears, sees the fear in her eyes as his fangs extend, hears the terror in her scream as he flashes up in her face, but before he can quite sink his teeth into her, he feels something crashing into his temple with a sickening crunch.

When he finally blinks the stars away, the girl is gone and Caroline's standing above him, gripping a lamp post—a lamp post, he notes, just a smidge impressed—in both her hands.

"I told you this needed to stop." She says, a hint of a threat in her voice.

"And I told you, I get bored." Groaning inwardly, Klaus sits up. "It seems we've reached an impasse."

Caroline sighs and crosses her arms over her chest. She waits until he's on his feet again to say: "I think a deal is in order."

He sees the way Tyler clenches his jaw whenever he enters the Grill, sees how Tyler wraps his arm around Caroline's waist a little tighter than before if he just glances at her, smirks at how Tyler seems to find any excuse to kiss her in his presence.

The Salvatores, in between casting furtive glances at Caroline take turns sending him dirty looks. They take great pleasure in shouldering their way past him whenever he's standing close enough. (But it soon stops when Klaus dumps a dead body on their lawn, but that soon led to yet another one of Caroline's confrontations, so no one really won that round.)

Elena doesn't say anything. Just sits there with that thoughtful look on her face, and Klaus finds he has to look away when her eyes come to meet his in a silent, I hope you know what you're doing.

Klaus isn't sure whose idea it was in the first place, but he's not about to object anytime soon, especially when Caroline looks like a golden Aphrodite in her sprawled position on his couch.

"How much longer?" she asks, ever the tone of boredom. He scowls when she tosses—just tosses; does she not know the value of a first-edition Tolstoy?—aside one of the books she'd grabbed to entertain herself as he sketches her.

"We would've been done fifteen minutes ago," he says, "but you keep moving."

This time Caroline is the one to scowl. "Well, hurry it up. I've got a da—dangerously awesome movie to watch."

Klaus just raises an eyebrow. "Nice save," he offers dryly. "I'm sure the Lockwood boy can wait." He finally looks up from his sketchbook. "I'm assuming he knows of our arrangement?"

Caroline turns to look at the ceiling, her fingers skimming the length of the arm rest. "He knows," is all she says.

"You're a little full of yourself, aren't you love?" Klaus smirks. "Thinking all it took to stop me killing your little friends..." He puts his charcoal down and presses the tips of his black-stained fingers together, "...was you."

"Only a little." Caroline reaches over and tugs the sketchbook out of his hands. "But it's so totally true."

Klaus watches her flip through his drawings with guarded eyes. Every so often she'd give an approving nod (of course, she likes horses), and she even pauses longer than necessary at a simple drawing of a white egg on a white piece of silk.

"Did you even use white for this?" she asks as she leans closer to the page, squinting. When he shakes his head no, she looks mildly impressed. "How...?"

Klaus stands and takes her by the hand (and ignores the sting when she jerks away), guiding her through the doorway and down the hall. He waits patiently for her to admire the vaulted ceilings, and when they finally make their way to his art room, he pulls up a seat and gestures for her to sit.

At the bemused expression on her face, Klaus asks, "See that egg?"

Caroline looks at the egg he's arranged on the little table in front of her and frowns like it's a trick question. "Yeah," she says slowly.

"I want you to draw it." Klaus plops down a container of Caran d'Ache colour pencils in front of her.

Caroline looks over at the egg once again, and then down at the colour pencils, and sighs.

"Something wrong?"

"You don't have a white one." Caroline looks up at him, a frown kinking her eyebrows. "How am I supposed to draw a white egg on a white piece of cloth, when I don't have a white colour pencil? I don't mean to sound whiny or anything, but some of us don't have a thousand years' worth of experience under our belts."

Klaus leans closer and is pleased to find that her breath hitches ever so slightly. Into her ear, he says mildly: "I don't see any white."

Caroline pushes away, scowling. "You've got to be kidding m—"

Klaus chuckles. "Caroline, Caroline, Caroline. You draw what you see, not what you know. You know there's a white egg in front of you. But do you see any white?" He walks around her and picks up a pencil—a pink one—and holds it out to her. "I see the pink reflected from the sun in the window." He picks up another one. "I see the yellow of the overhead light, where it's reflected on the curve of the egg."

"I see the blue and purple shadows beneath the egg," Klaus says.

"Those are the colours I see," Klaus says.

"No white," Klaus says. "No white at all."

Caroline is looking hard at the eggs; her eyebrows furrowed and her lips pouted in concentration. She looks like a child when she's concentrating hard, he thinks, and has the strangest urge to pat her on the head. But then Caroline's looking up at him with the biggest smile on her face, and he knows she's seen it too.

It takes a few days, but Caroline finally gets it done. The end product is a little crude, a little smudged here and there; without the finesse that comes with his drawings, but Klaus frames it up either way. He tells her he's proud of her and she smiles again, that same smile from three days ago, before she seems to remember who he is.

The smile's gone, but he remembers it. At least, he wants to believe he remembers it.

"I love Tyler," Caroline says one evening, almost like a warning, when Klaus leans a little too close for comfort. He wants to laugh at her, Like that's stopping me. All he does is lean in even closer, brushing away the smidgen of spaghetti sauce in the corner of her lips with his own. He can hear her blood thundering through the veins in her neck, and when he pulls back he sees the death grip she has on her fork.

She kicks him under the table with the pointy heel of her shoe. "Never do that again."

"Not in public?" he asks, absolutely dripping with deceptive innocence.

"Not anywhere," Caroline hisses, pushing her chair back. The restaurant he's taken her to is a far cry from the Mystic Grille (and even further than Mystic Falls), and he did kind of ambush her with this little road trip, he concedes, and he did kind of trick her into thinking they were just going to go feed the ducks at the duck pond in the park. One of the little things he'd gauged about Caroline. She liked feeding the ducks on rainy days. Her hair would frizz and her mascara would smudge, but she likes knowing that the ducks won't go hungry on such a cold day.

Sometimes he has to remind himself that Caroline is a vampire; that Caroline has killing tendencies embedded deep into her instincts, that Caroline is every inch the monster he is.

(But most of the time he likes to remind himself otherwise.)

"Never stopped me—or you—before," he says genially, reaching for the Pinot Noir. "More wine?"

"Yes, please," she replies, baring her teeth in a sorry excuse of a smile. "I'm not nearly drunk enough to have to sit through this conversation."

Later, she's drunk enough to let him press her up against the edge of the bed they would be sharing, drunk enough to let him cup her breast through the thin material of her dress with one hand and the other around the nape of her neck, to lower his eyes to hers, to let out the quietest of moans when their lips finally meet in a kiss. It lingers.

Klaus lays her down slowly, his knee between her legs and his heart in his throat when she slides further up the bed, tugging him towards her. The sheets smell fresh and rich and new, as would be expected from The Ritz. She sighs against his lips and Klaus feels his blood turn cold when she whispers, "Sometimes I miss you."

He opens his eyes and sees her looking at him, her fingers tracing absentminded circles against the sharp indent of his collarbone. She struggles to sit up, but her foggy mind apparently thinks it too much of a hassle, so she slumps back against the silk-clad pillows. "I shouldn't, but I do." It looks like she's blinking back tears, and he wants her to go on but he also wants her to stop but she's already started talking again and—

"I also shouldn't have... all those months Tyler was away—I could have said no, but I... I—" Her breath hitches in her throat and she blinks furiously. And then she's grabbing him by the collar of his shirt and saying so earnestly, "I love Tyler."

Klaus finally finds his voice. "You love too easily," he says huskily.

"And you don't love at all," Caroline replies, and twists her body under him so she's lying on her side. "I'm tired."

Since Klaus can't quite argue with that, he rolls off of her so he's lying down cautiously beside her. She sleeps facing away from him, and when he wakes up the side of her bed is already made up.

Klaus doesn't see her for a week.

He corners a redhead in an alleyway, takes pleasure in her screaming; he lets her scream longer than necessary and strains his ears, waiting for a flurry of footsteps or a swing of a lamp post, something, but it never comes.

He kills the faceless redhead, even sits beside her crumpled body as he licks the blood off his fingers, but still no one comes. After a while he stands up, his lip curling. He's never really relished in collateral damage.

He's nursing his bourbon and tending to his thoughts when he hears the scrape of a stool against the hardwood floor beside him. He doesn't bother to turn around; he recognizes that scent anywhere.

"Well, Klaus," Tyler slurs, grabbing his drink straight from his hands. He downs it in one gulp. "You won. Care broke up with me."

Klaus stills. "Did she now?"

Tyler squints at him through hazy eyes. "I thought you knew." Tyler motions for another drink and the bartender side-eyes him, but Klaus just waves his hand, He's alright. The bourbon's gone almost immediately after it is set down before Tyler.

"She told me she loved me," Tyler says through gritted teeth, slamming the glass down. "And I told her I loved her, no matter what went down between you two, because it didn't matter. It... it couldn't have mattered. Because it's you," he ends with a vicious note. He lowers his eyes to the heels of his hands. "I love her."

Klaus lets out a sharp breath and silently berates himself for what he's about to do. Reluctantly (begrudgingly), he prods Tyler's side sharply with his finger. "Oi. Get up, you look pathetic." Klaus asks the bartender for some iced water, and when it arrives he all but forces it down Tyler's throat.

"You see, Tyler," Klaus says astutely once Tyler looks slightly more alert, "you're an idiot. Not because you use too much wax in your hair, but because you've got a big heart." He pauses to let it sink in, but the only thing that sinks is Tyler's head to the counter. Klaus rolls his eyes and continues either way. "And the problem with people with big hearts is—" his lip curls, "—you love too easily. You love too much. It burns you, it consumes you, and inevitably it just bleeds you dry."

There's a silence, and since Klaus can't exactly see Tyler's face from his position on the counter, he half-assumes the brat's already passed out cold.

"Someone's bitter," Tyler mutters, turning to lie on the side of his head so he can look at Klaus. "And also full of shit."

"One day," Tyler says, "Caroline's going to finally realise what she wants in life."

"One day," Tyler says, "Caroline's going to realise that it's not you."

"And when that day comes," Tyler says through closed teeth, "I'm going to put a White Oak dagger straight through your heart."

"Cheers to that." Klaus looks at Tyler (really looks at him), and raises his glass to touch Tyler's already-waiting one. They have a couple more drinks together and then leave, one not recalling the conversation the next morning and the other constantly reminded of it.

He's not going to wait for her, if that's what Elijah's wondering.

"Other fishes, other seas," Klaus shrugs. There's a pencil in his hand; has been in his hand for more than two hours, but the page still remains empty.

Elijah sighs, because his brother is an idiot.

"Hi," Caroline says. She's standing before his table at the Grill, twiddling her thumbs together.

"Hi," he says, because there isn't anything else to say.

He checks his wristwatch. It's 5pm.

Caroline looks like she wants to draw up a chair, but she never does. Instead, she gestures to the door with her thumb and says, "Could you come with me for a sec?"

Caroline's stopped making sure her windows are locked tight at night; stopped avoiding him in public, stopped taking vervain—even tells him as much.

Klaus lingers on her porch that day, just staring at the way she's gesturing for him to Come on in with befuddled eyes.

He steps into her house and follows her into the kitchen where she busies herself with making tea. "Earl grey okay with you?" she asks over her shoulder, and he just nods, hands in his pockets.

She leans against her kitchen table as they wait for the water to come to a boil, tapping her nails against the scrubbed wood, and Klaus sneaks glances at her every now and again from his spot by the wall where all the pictures are. They don't say anything, and he finds this disconcerting—Caroline doesn't seem to mind, however.

Later, they sit on the porch, Klaus resting the dainty teacup on his knee and Caroline blowing delicately on hers, and it feels oddly domestic. He doesn't tell her this, of course. He turns to her, wants to make some sort of offhand remark about the weather, how it's oddly cool this evening—it's a start, alright?—but gets sidetracked by the pout of her lips when she finds her tea is too hot for her liking.

She licks the tea off her lips and he swallows involuntarily. Being the vampire she is, she notices and smirks into her teacup. "Is this distracting you?"

"No." Klaus lifts his tea to his lips and drinks slowly, disregarding the way it scalds his tongue. "You were never a distraction. You were..." But he finds he doesn't have the words for it. So he says, instead: "The vervain."

She looks up from her tea, eyes too wide. Too innocent. "Mm?"

"You've stopped taking it." He nods sagely. "Why?"

Caroline sets her tea down beside her and looks up at the sky. The slowly setting sun brings out the red of her cheeks, and he feels this need to capture it in his paints, to stop the world and make her sit there with him for a bit (for forever), because he knows a thing or two about forgotten moments.

Her next words shake him out of his reverie.

"I don't... I can't love you, Klaus." She shakes her head and pushes her hair behind her ears. Her eyes are unreadable as she gives a light laugh. "Not the way you want me to."

He can already feel something in his chest sinking, and he finds himself setting his tea down as well so he can rest his chin on his knuckle, until she says, "But I like you. I must be damned, because I like you." And then she looks at him, eyes clear and bright, and... Oh.

"Caroline." He frowns, leaning towards her. "I'm not going to compel you to love me."

She shrugs, the corners of her lips lifting in the slightest. "It was worth a shot."

And that takes him by surprise, because is Caroline Forbes actually feeling guilty? Klaus picks up his teacup and drains it. "It's getting late. I should get back."

"You should," Caroline says agreeably, not looking at him.

Klaus is halfway down the street when he hears her calling his name. He turns around, head tilted in a silent Yeah?

"I'll see you in the morning?" Except the way she says it doesn't make it sound hopeful, neither does it sound like an invitation. The way she says it sounds like it's a right (her right, his right—their right? He's not sure). She's swathed in a haze of golden light, with the sunset on her back and the world before her, and she looks like she knows it. Looks like she's welcoming it.

"See you in the morning," Klaus says in affirmation.

It isn't a beginning and it sure as hell isn't an ending, but it's something.


If you're reading this, it means you didn't give up halfway and hurl your laptop/computer/tablet/what have you out your window like I expected you to. This took me nearly three weeks to write (it was that hard), in stutters and stops, and this… is the end product. It would mean a lot to me if you tell me what you thought of it.

can someone make DJ come back? I miss her.