title | a king without a castle.
characters | klaus, caroline, the originals.
pairings | klaus/caroline, mentions of others.
summary | He's always found being in someone else's body a little bit strange, a little unnatural. But here he is, doing it again, with Tyler's eyes and Tyler's voice, and Tyler's hands and Tyler's girl.
notes | this is all mashed up and weird and I don't even know, maybe it's supposed to subconsciously represent my feelings on the finale because what the actual fuck, show.

also, i am never trying to write elijah ever again. he is just too much of a bamf for me. augh.


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"Tyler?" She blinks at him with watery eyes, her lower lip trembling the way it had the week before in that dungeon. He remembers the soft press of it against his own, the way her body had fit with his— with Tyler's— and filled all his empty, jagged spaces. "Tyler, I thought you were dead."

This is not how things are supposed to go, Klaus thinks, pinching his eyebrows together the way he's seen Tyler do when he's about to lie. He wonders if she's caught onto that tic yet, to that telltale twitch in her boyfriend's jaw, and drags his hands along her arms slowly.

She's bunching up his shirt, near the base of his spine, knuckles brushing over his skin in fleeting spurts of scalding warmth. He closes his eyes and breathes in the vanilla of her hair.

"I thought you were dead," she gasps, squeezing her eyes shut so he can count every individual lash. He pretends she's saying it to him, to Niklaus, to the person he could be for her if only she'd ask.

There are a lot of things he could do in this moment, he realizes, as he presses one hand to the gentle curve of her jaw. He could tell her the truth. He could tell her a lie.

"Care," he says, and then again softer, "Caroline," because he loves saying her name and hates the way she'd always glared when he'd used it. Not now, though, as she sighs into his chest. Not with T— "There's something I've gotta tell you."

This is not how things are supposed to go, Klaus thinks, but he will make do.

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When Niklaus is young, only three hundred years old, there is a girl in the village and she is far too pretty for anyone's good.

"A woman is like a rose, Niklaus," Elijah says with the sort of care that only comes from being older, wiser, experienced. It's something he'd say if they were still human, and it touches Klaus in a place he's thought long since dead. "You must tend to her daily, delicately, with care and precision so she may blossom into beauty. If you are careless, rough, she will wilt and die beneath your palms."

Kol, who's had enough experience with women to know when to flirt but not when to keep them from screaming, sniggers, "well, I suppose he's buggered then because Nik is bloody awful with plants."

Klaus says, "Elijah, we both know that regardless of what I do, she will die anyway. They always do," because they had all loved before and it had never ended well, not even once.

Rebekah says, "for God sake's Nik, just go talk to her," and shoves him into the market.

She has a spill of blonde hair that curls down her back loosely, and he's thought about running his fingers through it, thought about drawing her, thought about plaiting it while she sleeps beside him.

When she turns to smile at him with that slow quirk of her mouth, he thinks about how her blood will taste and if she'll fight him. If the skin of her neck is as soft as it looks. If she'll watch him watch the life drain from those bright eyes.

Klaus slides in close to her, so their eyes catch. "Hello there, sweetheart," he purrs, as her pupils dilate, "care to go for a stroll?"

He has learned not to trust people since Tatia, since Esther, since Mikael, since—

The list is long.

When he sinks his teeth into her neck, he realizes he never learned her name. Thinks, absently, that she smells like roses.

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It's almost ridiculous, how easy it is. Caroline is quick to believe what he says, much the way she is quick to love, he thinks. She reminds him a little of himself, when he'd been younger, human, weak.

Caroline is not weak, though. Silly and naïve and stubborn, perhaps, but never weak, because she loves freely and she is hurt, but she is never afraid of what may happen. She is never afraid to try again.

"Why do you think it stopped?" she asks lazily, head tucked neatly into the crook of his shoulder. It's almost dreamlike, the way he feels around her, with a warmth in his chest he's never experienced, not for a single moment, in almost a millennia. "You dying, I mean."

"I dunno," and he hates English slang, but he doubts Tyler's ever said I've frankly no idea, darling in his life, "maybe Klaus is in some freaky, voodoo limbo that keeps him from being really dead?"

Caroline shivers, but the dungeon isn't cold. He twirls a loose curl around his finger, until it coils tightly and turns the tip of his finger white, then lets it unravel and bounce back to its original shape. "Creepy."

He kisses her crown softly, inhales. "Definitely."

When her mouth opens hotly against the spot where Tyler's pulse had once beat steady, he wonders how long it will be before he is figured out. Before Bonnie tells her little gang of misfits what she's done.

Before Caroline hates him, forever.

And forever is a very long time for a vampire.

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He falls in love once, only once, and it is by accident.

Tatia is a soft, doe-like sort of thing, with wide eyes and a sweet tilt to her mouth and a mess of dark tangles that knot easily but she never flinches when his fingers get roped into them, like she's used to it.

Elijah is hopelessly infatuated. Niklaus is curious, and more than anything just trying to annoy his brother (and don't look at him like that, Kol had to have gotten it from someone, you know).

He does not expect her to start smiling more genuinely when he comes around. He does not expect to smile back just a easy.

"I shall marry her," Elijah snarls at him, one late night, with his sword at his throat and a bit of desperation in his voice. "And you will stay away from her, because I am your brother."

This is the only fight he and Elijah have ever had that has led to real violence, and not the playful wrestling Rebekah is always trying to join in on. He doesn't think his relationship with his brother is worth a girl.

He doesn't like taking orders, either.

("It's the wolf in you," Elijah used to argue, when Mikael could no longer hear them, "you cannot help your nature; you simply were not born to be tamed."

Rebekah had resented the idea that she was something to be domesticated as much as Kol had, and when they'd started to yell at each other, Elijah had touched his shoulder, expression tinged with affection.

"You were born to be great, Niklaus," he'd whispered, words whisked hastily away into the wind, "never forget that.")

Elijah is his older brother, yes.

But he is far more clever.

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It takes him a while to learn certain things Tyler should already know, like her favourite movies and how she takes her coffee. He tries to pick up on the subtleties, so he never has to outright ask; where her eyes linger on her DVD rack, what songs she hums more often, what colours she has the most of in her closet and which of those she wears repeatedly. He's attentive, and after a while, he thinks perhaps he is being too obvious, because she looks at him strangely more and more every time they are together.

Finally, when he shows up to pick her up for their 'date' —and god, does he hate that word, so juvenile and he feels very much like the eighteen-year-old body he's inhabiting when he thinks it, but she lights up when he asks her so he thinks oh, screw it and grinds his teeth— and hands her a sunflower, she says: "Tyler, are you feeling okay?"

He blinks, confused. Her smile is breathtaking, a sweet lift of her lips that is higher on one side, and he's never seen her look so happy before. Not even when she was with the real Tyler. "Uh, yeah, why?"

"Um," she bites her lip, and he thinks about digging his teeth into the pout of it until he tastes copper. "Well, don't take this the wrong way, but, um, you're being really sweet and it's great and all but I kind of feel like you cheated on me or something and that's why you're acting like this because you never act like this. This much, I mean."

This stupid boy, he thinks, will never deserve her, not in a thousand years, not in a thousand after that, not if he's never treated her like this before. Properly. Like a princess. He wonders how angry she'll be if he kills Tyler once he has his body back.

Mostly, he wonders how she'll feel when she finds out this was all him, always.

"I didn't cheat on you," he says slowly, scratching his ear, "I just— look, I almost died and it just— it brought a lot of things into perspective."

Caroline's face brightens, until she's beaming down at him with her eyes crinkling at the corners and a look of pure delight. He's actually speechless, because he didn't think it was possible to make her look like this, and the fact that Tyler has the power to and hasn't yet makes Klaus want to destroy him just a little bit more. "I'm sorry," she exhales, touching his face. Her thumb drags across the bow of his upper lip. "You know how insecure I get."

"I don't know why," he says, accidentally, in what is definitely not Tyler's voice, "you're perfect, Caroline."

She doesn't notice, pressing a kiss to the corner of his mouth instead, sunflower petals tickling the back of his neck as her arms loop around him tightly. He doesn't know if he is relieved, or disappointed.

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In a thousand years, there are few things Klaus has not come to understand and few things he shares with anyone else. But the night Stefan approaches him with wary eyes and a stiff back, his expression unreadable for perhaps the first time, he tells him: "Stefan, I am an exceptional liar."

He tells him, "you know I always get what I want."

He tells him, "this is only a temporary arrangement, so be a good sport about it, yeah?"

He tells him, "if you ruin this, I will make your life hell from now until eternity."

Stefan says nothing for a long pause, his head tilted, the corners of his mouth turned down in a grimace. Then, in the quiet of the night, he murmurs, "I won't need to ruin it. You'll do that yourself."

Klaus is inclined to agree, because he knows himself quite well, but he doesn't.

He and Stefan aren't exactly friends, anymore.

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In the end, she never figures it out. Or so he thinks.

"Well," Bonnie lifts an eyebrow, lips twisting unpleasantly as he arches his back and cracks his neck. "Feel good as new?"

He smirks crookedly. "If you mean, do I feel good enough to slaughter a few innocents, then yes. You have my thanks."

"I didn't do it for you," she seethes, eyes turning to slits. "I know what happened with Caroline."

Klaus waves her off. "Oh, fear not, I didn't sleep with her and Tyler and her shall go on blissfully unaware of what's happened, as they always have."

There's a need, as his says it, to grind his teeth, stomp his foot, throw a tantrum both Rebekah and Kol would be proud of. He bares his fangs instead, drawing closer. "Are we quite done?"

"You come near Elena," she warns, "and I'll kill you myself."

"Funny," he purrs, bending so his lips hover over the shell of her ear, "how you don't bother to include Caroline in that sentence."

Bonnie steps away stiffly, her shoulders set, and glares at him so fiercely he's sure seas of lesser men have crumbled beneath her. "Oh, believe me," she says tightly, "Caroline doesn't need me to handle you. She'll end you herself."

Klaus actually laughs, then, a low, rumbling sound, at the thought. "Oh, sweetheart, I'd love to see her try."

"Good," a small hand presses between his shoulder blades, "because I'm about to."

Bonnie is gone when he blinks, and Caroline is snarling into his throat, fangs slicing over his skin. "I take it someone told you about my little game of, oh, what's the word… charades, perhaps?"

"You bastard," she seethes, clawing at his neck. He catches her wrists easily, squeezes once in warning, and pulls her in tight against him. "I can't believe you— you are such an asshole— I kissed you, oh my god—"

"You quite enjoyed it, too," he drawls, catching her furious stare with his own amused one. "Well, perhaps not the first time, but that's understandable."

Her brow crinkles. "The first ti— oh my god," she steps away from him, licking her lips. He follows the movement, surprised at the sheer amount of wanting the action leaves in him. "The dungeon, that was you?"

Klaus snorts. "Oh, as if you hadn't already figured it out. You're strong. You have a beautiful life ahead of you." He taps his fingers against the insides of her wrists lightly. "You're a clever girl, Caroline. Tell me you didn't look back on it later and think it was rather strange of Tyler to say."

Her mouth moves wordlessly for a long beat. Then, she shoves herself up against him, nails digging into his skin until she draws blood and hisses, "I hate you. I will always hate you."

He releases her slowly, so his fingers drag across her palms and all the places her bones bend, and he can feel the warmth of her fade. She blinks up at him once, in that confused sort of way she had in the high school hallway all those weeks before. He inhales once, the sweet smell of vanilla, and closes his eyes.

"I'll see you in a century or so," he mutters, perhaps to air, perhaps to her, "when you finally make the right choice."

She's still there, her voice paper thin, vibrating through his breastbone: "I will never, ever, ever choose you."

The rushed click of her boots against the floor make him open his eyes. She's gone, the warehouse doors banging against the wall loud enough to shake the room. He smiles.

Murmurs, "we shall see."

After all, he is smarter, he is cleverer, he is the better liar, he knows her favourite songs, he brings her flowers, he treats her like a queen

And now she knows it.

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Forever is a very long time for a vampire.