A/N: This is the last chapter. But... maybe it's not the end. ;) An important note awaits you at the very bottom.
The tigers have found me
what you were
will not happen again.
the tigers have found me
and I do not care.
— Charles Bukowski
Klaus wakes up with the other side of the bed empty and cold. He instantly knows something's wrong, and he's up on his feet in a second. Wandering around the dark and gloomy corridors of the house he finally hears a voice. He sneaks up to Elijah's bedroom door and listens.
Caroline? It's Caroline. What is she doing in Elijah's room? Klaus concentrates on her voice.
"I can't accept you offer, Elijah." What offer?
"And why is that?" Klaus recognizes his brother's patronizing tone.
"I was there when Ben learned how to walk. I taught him how to read. I remember his first day at school. I was there for him when he failed his first test, and I was cheering on him when he started to play soccer." Caroline sighs.
"I want to be there for him when he goes on his first date. I want to see him finish high school and go to college. I know that you think I am guided by selfish motives, and maybe I am, but I will not let him go. He's my son."
There's a long pause on Elijah's part and Klaus is about to burst into the room and kick his ass, when he hears his brother ask,
"Why do you trust my brother, Caroline?" Good question, Elijah. Does she?
Caroline hesitates, but she regains her composure soon enough.
"Because he trusted me. I owe him the same. I just can't fail him again."
"You are risking Ben's life!'' The Original hisses through the gritted teeth. He's getting more and more tense, Klaus can sense it even through the closed door.
"You don't understand, Elijah." Caroline's tone changes a little, too. "It feels like Ben... chose him. He likes Stefan and Damon, he used to like Tyler, he even likes you, but he never looked at any of you this way. Yet, the very moment he met Klaus in that park in New York he treated him like a father figure. I can't explain it."
Something moves, Klaus hears it. Elijah has probably just got up from his comfy armchair, and the footsteps echoing through the room indicate he approaches Caroline. Slowly. Like a predator he truly is deep down his moral, duty-bound heart.
"You are making a terrible mistake."
"I would make one if I let you take him away from me —from us— to make him lead a fake, compulsion-induced life. So, if convincing me to give up on Ben was your only goal, then please leave my house as soon as you can."
Klaus lets out a breath he's been holding all this time. She trusts him. She wants them together as a family. He's shocked, incapable of thinking straight, but he has to come to his senses quickly because the bitter realization dawns on him — Caroline's in trouble.
"I think there must have been some misunderstanding, Caroline." Elijah says in a dry, low, hoarse voice. "I wasn't asking for your permission to save the boy, I asked your allegiance. You are clearly not my ally, which makes you... my enemy."
"Don't you dare—"
The door bursts open with a loud bang. Caroline turns her head, and her eyes widen in shock at the sight of fuming, furious Klaus standing there.
"Enough!" He growls. "Leave, Ellijah, before I break your neck and drop your body into the ocean."
"Here comes the number one dad. I just wonder, dear brother, when will the old controlling you start to abuse your new family?" Elijah approaches Klaus step by step with an ironic expression.
"I'll keep them safe and happy."
"Oh, I have no doubt you will. Like you kept us — in the coffins." He mocks Klaus.
"Elijah, my patience is wearing thin." Klaus' face is so tense it looks like a rock.
His brother stands right in front of Klaus, his lips pressed into a thin line, his nostrils flare. "Mine is long gone."
Then he punches the hybrid so hard Klaus lands on the ground a few meters away, but he's up in a second and launches at Elijah with an angry shout. They fall to the floor and roll around, punching and kicking each other. Caroline gasps when Klaus ends up on top of his brother and is about to break his neck when—
"There. Are. Others." Elijah chokes out.
"What?" Caroline finds it difficult to breathe. Klaus examines Elijah's face.
"Do you know why I'm here?" Elijah spits. "Stefan Salvatore called me. Both brothers are after you. In fact, Stefan had to lock Damon in the basement to keep him from coming here on his own to face a certain death. Even Katerina, yes, suddenly she's all in for protecting her great-great-grandson." The stunned faces of Caroline and Klaus amuse Elijah infinitely.
"You didn't expect such an army, did you? Oh, and Kol is still mad at you for breaking his neck twice when he took the boy."
Klaus is panting heavily, looking down at his brother, feeling speechless. Then his eyes turn bright yellow, his double fangs protrude, and he bits down on Elijah's neck, making him scream in agony, then throws Elijah against the wall. The Original flies across the room and slides down the wall after hitting it with a terrible thud. Caroline could swear she's just heard bones crack and crash.
Klaus looks like a monster from everyone's worst nightmare, with his eyes shining in the dim light of the room, with blood dripping down his chin, with mouth half-open revealing his knife-sharp fangs.
"Klaus—" It sends shivers down Caroline's spine. She almost forgot what he really is. Now she sees it, and it fills her with utter, complete, limitless horror. She backs to the wall and presses herself so hard against it she's sure there will be a hole left. He looks at her, his eyes empty and hungry. No, it can't be, he can't lose control just like that, Caroline's mind is racing faster than her heart. Klaus growls and walks slowly up to her. He smells rage mixed with blood. It's a bad, bad combination.
"Please." She whimpers when he buries his nose in her hair breathing heavily. But when his face is again in front of hers, their noses touching, the monster is gone. She sees his apologetic, wistful eyes. Her hand lands gently on his cheek, caressing it.
Then the wood creaks.
"Care?" They hear a child's voice coming from the door. Their eyes dart to the side, and there he is. Ben's standing in the doorway, with a frightened look on his face, staring at Klaus — poor kid is frozen with terror. "C-Caroline?"
it's been a tough fight worth fighting
as we all drive along
betting on another day.
— Charles Bukowski
Klaus takes care of Elijah's limp body before his brother wakes up, while Caroline takes scared Ben to his bedroom.
It's your decision, Klaus tells her. She has to decide whether to tell her son the truth, or to compel him to forget, at least for now.
It's one of the hardest decisions she's ever had to make. She wants him to know, but it's not a good time. She wants him to have a relatively normal childhood before the vampire world inevitably absorbs him again. Caroline remembers how Jeremy struggled with the whole vamp drama as a teenager. It ruined him.
On the other hand, she hates compulsion. She remembers how it hurt her to get her memories back. How deceived she felt. How angry it made her.
She hopes that one day she'll look into Ben's eyes and confess to all the upbringing crimes she committed. She'll beg his forgiveness. But as for now, he deserves better that a pair of fangs haunting him in his dreams.
There are no fortunes to be told, although,
Because I love you more than I can say,
If I could tell you I would let you know.
— W. H. Auden
Elijah wakes up suddenly choking, trying to steady his breathing. The beach. Sand. He is lying on the beach, he sees water coming to the shore. His head is still spinning, his suit is torn, his hair out of place.
"It took you more time than I thought. Are you getting old, brother?" It's Klaus. He sits next to him like nothing happened.
"Niklaus." Elijah hisses.
"Easy, brother." Klaus smirks and takes something out of the pocket of his jacket. A dagger. "I still can put you to sleep."
Elijah frowns. "Why didn't you do it earlier then?"
"Because I need you to send a message. You will contact the Salvatores, Katherine, and whoever else has evil designs against me and my family, and tell them —order them— to abandon their plans."
That makes Klaus' brother chuckle. "And, pray tell, why should I do this?"
"Because if they come for me, I will rip them apart, tear out their insides, and then feed them to the sharks." Klaus is definitely not joking. After so many years spent together Elijah feels his brother is dead serious about this whole new family thing. It's impressing, though. Klaus is supposed to have no feelings left. Still, he seems to care so much about the girl and that boy. Elijah finds it highly confusing.
"Do you think Caroline would let you kill her friends?"
"I will do whatever I deem necessary to keep her and the boy safe. Nothing else really matters to me." Klaus gets up, so does Elijah. They face each other, both keeping their hands in the pockets.
"Are you that power-hungry, Niklaus?" Elijah's questioning stare drills into Klaus.
"It's not power I am after, brother."
Klaus turns away and starts to walk towards his house. Elijah's eyes follow him. He seems different. Not totally, of course, but there's a different kind of longing in his eyes now. He used to seek power, that greedy bastard. But now... it's something else. It puzzles Elijah so much he still stands —like in trance, utterly dumbfounded— on the beach even when Klaus' shadow is finally out of sight.
I want to
let her know
that all the nights
even the useless
and the hard
I ever feared to
can now be
— Charles Bukowski
It is 2 am when Klaus finds Caroline —still in her pajamas— sitting on the swing in the garden. The cool air kisses her pale, delicate skin. Her head hangs low, her feet shuffle absently from one side to another. She's exhausted physically and, more importantly, she's emotionally drained. Klaus has to admit, he is tired too. For the first time since they met he's so tired he just wants to lie down and close his eyes.
Still, he sits down on the swing next to her and takes her right hand in his left one. The night is silent and peaceful, the stars shine and wink, scattered on the jet black sky. The sea murmurs something quietly bringing them a gently, refreshing breeze.
"Thank you for letting me decide." She whispers.
"Just so you know, I was prepared to tell him the truth. I'm not afraid." Klaus admits, his eyes fixed on a remote point somewhere above the horizon. "One day we'll tell him everything, Caroline. No more secrets."
"But he's too young, Klaus. I just... couldn't do this to him now." Caroline's voice is trembling which makes Klaus look at her with concern.
"I know, I know. Shhh, it's okay." His hand reassuringly rubs her arm. Then he reaches to his pocket and takes out a piece of paper. Caroline looks at him surprised.
It's the drawing she thought she'd lost.
She gasps. "How did you find it?"
He grimaces, slightly ashamed. "I stole it from your apartment when we were packing." Yeah, he remembers, he was so angry that day he wanted to tear it to shreds.
"Oh." She starts to fiddle nervously with her wedding ring. Klaus notices it and sighs.
"You don't have to wear the ring if you don't want to. We'll be probably moving out soon anyway since Elijah and the others know about the Hamptons."
Caroline shifts on the swing to look him straight in the eyes. She stares at his troubled face, a face of a monster, but also a face of a father. A face that caused her so much pain, but also it made her incredibly happy. When he's near she's walking on air. He thrills her. What she feels when she's around him burns her and consumes her, and she now understands the thing Elena had for Damon —he made her feel alive.
"I think I'll keep it on." The blonde smiles at him shyly and sees his surprised eyes. Klaus Mikaelson looks frankly amazed with his jaw dropped. She wants to tell him she likes to be Mrs. Mikaelson, but she doesn't get the opportunity to do so.
Her back hits the grass. His body falls down on hers, pinning her to the ground. His soft, luscious lips meet hers planting a mind-blowing kiss on them, deepening it a second later with his tongue. She returns it with so much passion he gasps for air breaking the kiss for a moment, he looks down at her with his eyes hungry and lustful, then he dives into her hair, stroking it, pulling it, nibbling at her earlobe while her hands wander around his back, her nails digging in his shoulder blades. He's fervently kissing her collarbones, making her moan under the starry sky.
Maybe one day they will have to face each other as enemies again.
Maybe one day she will have to make another heart-breaking choice.
Or, maybe she's just made the best decision in her whole life. Who knows what the future holds.
But right now, late at night, right there with the stars falling down, he's kissing her like a madman, driving her crazy—
—and she loves every second of it.
Love each other or perish.
— W. H. Auden
(OF NOT THE END?
THAT IS THE QUESTION!)
Long and boring A/N: If it's the end, why the story doesn't have the 'complete' status?
I left some matters unsolved just in case I want to add some chapters as a sequel - Klaroline of course, but including also Rebekah (Catherina1996 would be happy I suppose;) ), Kol, and maybe a Salvatore or two... It could take place a few years later when Ben is older.
But I need some time to think it over, refine the plot etc. I'm not 100 per cent sure yet, the original plot ends here.
I'm glad some of you liked the poems. To be honest, I hate poetry, but Bukowski and Auden belong to the group of very few poets I totally admire.
Thank you, my Dear Readers, for the journey you let me take you on. It's been a pleasure to read all your reviews, you made me smile so many times I can't even count. :) It's the best part of writing anything!
Bully/bite/talk to/find me on tumblr if you want to! (I dare you?)
*makes a clumsy bow*