licence to kill
A manhunt for two hit men — and it turns out that also two thieves— is under way in Virginia after the fatal shootings of three security guards in the Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond. Investigators believe the men did not only steal the famous Van Gogh that was there on loan, but they are also responsible for killing Fabio De Luca, a dangerous Italian gangster that was involved in a famous art forgery scandal last summer. There's still a string of unsolved murders of people closely connected with the world of art. People have already named the infamous two on the run, one being 'The Ripper', known for his violent murders, and the other is called 'The Artist' because of the paint he leaves smeared on the faces of his victims. For now their true identities remain unknown to the police, so anyone with information is asked to—
Caroline turns off the TV screen with a snort. ''Freaks.'' She is sick and tired of hearing about the shootings. Her mother was there on a training course when it happened, so she took part in the operation with the Richmond police and got shot by one of the thieves. Now she's in a hospital far away from Mystic Falls, and Caroline can't do anything to help her. She has never felt so helpless in her entire life, even when Tyler told her he was leaving Mystic Falls for college. She and her mother have never been close — that's why Liz spends so much time at work— but staying home alone with her mother being away hospitalized is quite different from staying home alone with her mother working somewhere around the town.
Well, at least her father (although gay and divorced from her mother) stays in Richmond now to support Liz. It strikes Caroline that they still feel bound to help each other although, in fact, there's no love lost between them. Yeah, they hate each others guts. It's a twisted kind of bond they still share, probably because of Caroline.
She has promised to take care of their house until the sheriff is back. Till then, Caroline spends every night alone on a couch or in her bed, watching movies, reading books, and making useful notes. Yes, notes, because she is an event planner now, and a good event planner does everything she can to come up with a brilliant idea or to find some inspiration. This time she's doing her research for another decade dance people in Mystic Falls love so much. The theme? The Roaring Twenties of course. Oh yes, she and Elena will roar their heads off!
Caroline settles down on the couch in her living room and presses play. The Untouchables. Eliot Ness, Al Capone, crime, prohibition, bootlegging. They did have style. It's always more stylish on the screen.
Real life is... harsh.
As Capone says, you can get further with a kind word and a gun than you can with just a kind word.
The french fries she's made are almost gone when she hears the doorbell ring.
"What?" She raises her eyebrows. Who would pop out of nowhere in the middle of the night? It was well past midnight.
In her cotton gray pajama set, with her curly blonde hair looking like a messy nest on her head, and a black hoodie with Go!Timberwolves logo on it (one of the very few things Tyler left her), Caroline gets down on the floor and crawls quietly towards the door. Like a snakewoman! she muses inwardly half-serious, even though she's scared shitless. The sense of irony often kicks in when she's stressed.
The doorbell rings again. Caroline gets there, with her back pressed against the wall next to the door, and she slides up the wall. Like a spy, even like a pro! she giggles. Then she slaps herself mentally — there's some creepy stranger at the door! Right. She peeks through the net curtain and sees a man. A tall one and most probably handsome—
"They're always handsome in the dark, then you wake up next to a son of Frankenstein and Godzilla!" Bonnie used to say. Was Godzilla female, really?
— and judging by the body language, desperate to get some help. She sighs and turns to open the door.
Well, now when his young, stubble-covered face is more visible thanks to the light coming from the room she can see that he's definitely handsome. Not Fankodzilla-in-the-dark-handsome — rather ovaries-explode-handsome.
It throws her off balance a little, and the stranger must have noticed her confusion because there's instantly a keen smile playing on his —oh soluscious— lips.
Of course, a sexy guy lost in the middle of nowhere. So the movies come true, after all.
"I'm sorry, love, I didn't mean to scare you." He says in a lovely British accent. A British guy. They seem to be all charming and harmless — just look at Prince William.
Caroline rises an eyebrow, still unable to speak. There's something about him that does scare her (those strange, cult-like necklaces on his neck, maybe?), but on the other hand there's also another thing that makes her shiver with excitement. Damn you, hormones.
"Can I help you?" She finally stutters.
"My car broke down, and I need to make a call, but my phone died along with the car, so..."
Klaus tries to look as innocent as an experienced hit man whose daily routine consists of killing people can look. It is really an awkward situation because he often uses this trick to get into his victims' houses, but this time his car did really break down and his phone battery did really go flat. So much for the bitter irony of life. Maybe not that bitter, because the girl standing in front of him is a beautiful little creature. He's seen a lot of those, of course, but there's something in her sharp blue-eyed stare that makes him think there's more to her than just a pretty face.
Seeing her hesitation, he puts on an apologetic face,
The gorgeous blonde crosses her arms in front of her chest.
"Let's see.'' She frowns. ''There's been a kind word. Now I'm waiting for a gun."
Klaus' eyes widen in shock. What the— How can she— Damn it! He gulps. Does his reputation actually precede him? He's about to reach behind his back for a gun he's hidden under the waistband of his jeans, ready to painfully question her then shoot her, when the girl snickers at his stunned face.
"Just kidding. It's Al Capone." Her eyes are bright, laughing at him. He still doesn't get the joke, but he's impressed by her bold attitude.
"Look, I promise I'm not a serial killer. I just want to use your phone."
He sees the girl smirk. "Even if you were one, I would take you down easily. My mom's a sheriff, I know how to use a gun." Caroline opens the door wider and gestures at him to come inside.
"A tough cookie, aren't you?" He teases her. Well, well well. A broken car, a dead phone, now it's time for a sheriff's house. Isn't he lucky today.
"You have no idea." She doesn't have any idea either, but she's used to play a strong woman because as an only child of a cold hearted mother and a gay absentee father she somehow feels she has to fake it. They say a lie told often enough becomes the truth. Whatever. Caroline doesn't care about logical fallacies as long as they serve their purpose.
"I see you country folk are quite trusting." He smiles as he enters her house.
She shrugs. "It's Mystic Falls. Nothing really happens here."
He follows her to the living room, and every step he takes after her sends shivers down her spine. When the wooden floor creaks under his foot she jumps around alarmed and stares at him ready to do battle. It seems to amuse the stranger immensely.
"I'm Niklaus Mikaelson, but please call me Klaus." He says with a laugh and stretches his hand out.
"Caroline Forbes." After a second of hesitation she takes his hand and shakes it. It's warm. And manly. And soft.
"Um. Here's my phone." She hands him her Blackberry. She was never an iPhone girl to be honest. "I'll make us some coffee since we'll probably have to stay awake and wait a bit for the service."
When she disappears in the kitchen, Klaus takes a quick look at the TV screen. The Untouchables. Now he understands why she's gone Al Capone on him. At least she has a good taste in movies.
He makes a call. Nobody picks up. The voice mail again, for God's sake!
"Stefan, my friend, " he spits with so much venom his face twists with anger, "I'm in Mystic Falls, Virginia, waiting for you. You have two days to get here, or I will throw the key into the local river and you'll never get the money." And with those words he hangs up and deletes the number from Caroline's phone.
When it buzzes back at him Klaus smirks victoriously, I knew you'd call back, but his smile falters when he sees the caller's ID.
It must be her boyfriend. He takes the buzzing phone to the kitchen exactly when Caroline puts two coffee mugs on the table. Coffee's getting ready.
"For you, I guess." He mumbles as he gives her the phone.
"Oh no." Caroline mutters frowning at her Blackberry. Klaus observes her dying with curiosity. She sighs rolling her eyes, and picks up.
"Damon." She pouts.
"Caaaaaaroliiiineeee." The man's voice is so loud Klaus hears everything.
"It's almost 1 am, you dick." She hisses, forgetting for a moment that she's not alone, but the curse word only makes Klaus smirk. This girl has a tongue as sharp as her stare.
"Care, I'm drunk."
"Wow. Tell me something I'm not expecting." She rolls her eyes in exasperation.
"I think I'm in love with her, Caroline." Klaus blinks twice, surprised. Curiouser and curiouser.
"Damon, I'm busy."
"Listen to me. I think she— Wait a minute! It's late at night, how come you're busy?" Now he sounds perfectly sober.
"Good night, Damon." Beep. She turns the phone off.
Klaus looks at her confused, but also more than slightly amused, and somehow Caroline feels a need to explain to him what's just happened.
"Damon's a... friend." Her eyes darken. Interesting, he thinks.
"A troublesome one, I must say." Klaus smiles. God, this guy has dimples. Dimples.
"Yeah, he's probably looking for a drinking companion again." She shrugs. Caroline and Damon share much more than just a simple friendship, in fact they have never been friends per se, but it's the dark part of Caroline's life she prefers to keep secret — at least from casual strangers. Truth to be told, even Elena doesn't know the whole story. Caroline wonders how it is even possible that Damon Salvatore, a man who convinced her once to join the dark side, is still one of the closest people around her. Maybe she just simply lacks judgment?
Then she notices their coffee is ready and pours the steaming black liquid into the mugs. It reminds her why he's here. She swiftly changes the topic as they sit down by the table.
"What about your car?"
"They can't come right now. There's an emergency somewhere else." Klaus lies like an expert. Not a single move, gesture, or grimace gives him away. The mask he puts on is perfect. She just has to fall for it. It's a convincing, easy win.
Caroline takes a sip of her coffee and winces when she realizes it's bitter. She adds a spoon of sugar, then another, and then even one more. The blonde eyes her unexpected guest suspiciously. He's sitting still, his gaze fixed absently on the green coffee mug in front of him.
"No sugar, thanks."
"So what are you going to do now?" She asks him while stirring her coffee, aware that the steam hovering over her mug is turning her cheeks red.
"I don't know, really." He purses his lips. There's a long pause on his part. "I think I'll spend the night in my car. In the morning I'll decide what to do next." He swallows a sip of coffee and smiles satisfied. "Excellent coffee."
"Are you kidding me?" Caroline bridles, but Klaus isn't quite sure as to what exactly has made her angry. He gives her a questioning look.
"You're not sleeping in your car! It's October for goodness sake! I've got a spare room downstairs, you can take the couch."
"Don't you think you should talk with your parents about it first?" Klaus raises his eyebrows. He's so close to getting what he wants.
"I live with my mom. She's in a hospital right now." Caroline says dryly, not wanting to get much into the details of her mom's story. "I'm temporarily living alone here. It's not that fun or pleasant, you know."
Klaus nods. Everything this girl says about her life breeds more questions. He feels he would like to learn more about Caroline Forbes, the brave blonde.
"Aren't you afraid of me? I'm a complete stranger to you."
The blonde shrugs. "I told you, I can handle a gun."
If only she knew how much it amuses him. How much it makes him laugh inside - him, a professional hit man, an assassin, a man who kills people in cold blood, and the worst part of this is that he enjoys every moment of it. He loves to watch how life escapes a victim's eyes. He loves the thrill it gives him. He loves the redness of blood that trickles down somebody's head or neck.
He's an artist after all, who said murder is not a form of art?
In fact he could kill this blonde beauty right now and it would be so delightful his heart beats faster at the very thought of the possible crime. Since he started working as a killer, he's never considered women anything but distraction. They used to prevent him from doing his job. The old Klaus —the one that is a lovesick puppy ready to do whatever Tatia tells him— is long gone. Along with Tatia herself who ends up at the bottom of the river Thames with a bullet he puts right in the middle of her chest. That one bloody night changes his life forever. Sometimes he still dreams about it.
But here she is — a blonde distraction, a girl hiding a lot more than she lets on. She seems so strong and full of light. She's a genuine beauty he just would love to ravish.
He grins at her. "Okay, I'll take the couch. Thanks."
He gets another Go! Timberwolves t-shirt and a pair of sweatpants that her ex-poor-excuse-of-a-boyfriend left her. Caroline has never thought they would be of any use, but — guided by her DVD collection of romantic comedies— she kept some of his clothes just in case. You never know when a mysterious British dude will knock at your door in the middle of the night, she giggles to herself while preparing the room for him.
It feels good to have somebody to talk to instead of sitting alone in an empty house, she admits. They spend an hour or so talking in the kitchen — nothing deep or shocking, just a conversation.
She learns he's an artist. That explains his soft hands and the necklaces, she concludes. A painter and a true art lover. He actually studied art history in London.
"So, you're not only smart, but you also have a diploma to prove it." She laughs, taking the last sip of her coffee. It got cold because they are talking so much there's no time to drink it.
He chuckles. "No, I don't. I've never graduated."
"Seriously?" Her eyes widen.
"Yeah. Things happen, you know." He answers evasively and shifts uncomfortably in his chair. It's the first time Caroline sees his confident expression change a little.
Caroline Forbes has something to say in that matter. Some time ago she found out for herself that things happen. Yes, they definitely happen, and the consequences they bring along are often far-reaching if not tragic.
Klaus learns that she works as an event planner — it's a stressful kind of job but rewarding, too. She says she needs to keep herself occupied although she doesn't explain why. He doesn't ask. There's a lot of issues they don't explore, as if aware that it'd be better to let sleeping dogs lie.
"Would you mind if I smoked?" He asks her all of a sudden, and Caroline feels relieved that the awkward silence is broken.
"Um, it's okay, but you just have to go outside. I'll wait here." She gives him an encouraging smile. A smoker, huh? She should have guessed it right away when he mentioned his artistic skills. Nobody's perfect.
"You're a non-smoker, I assume."
"I try to... stay away from stuff like this." Suddenly an image of his lips flirtatiously half-open with a cigarette between them attacks Caroline's mind and doesn't want to let go. Those lips. She closes her eyes and sighs.
Caroline likes the mysterious traveling artist sitting in front of her. He's different from the guys she knows in Mystic Falls. He's like a breath of fresh air.
While Klaus is taking another drag outside, Caroline turns on her phone. Eight new messages.
1: whtdoes it mean busyyy?
3: ok i get it godnoght
4: hve fun
6: dont worry boutme ill b fne
8: carline im drunks sry
Damon, you drunk phone pest.
Klaus inhales the sharp, cold October air. He definitely likes it more than the burning heat of Los Angeles or Miami. And there's also a very interesting local girl close at hand.
He finds the bold and upbeat blonde stunning and intriguing. She seems so bright, so... striking. She possesses that unique light and strength that has been always inspiring painters, poets, and musicians. Caroline Forbes is from a completely different kind of universe, definitely.
He's sour, she's bittersweet.
Aren't we a pair, he smirks to himself.
When the night falls, a shadow sneaks out through a window of Caroline's house and wanders off towards the woods. There's a big black car that stays perfectly hidden in the darkness. The shadow approaches it fast, opens the trunk, and takes out a big plastic bag and a shovel.
He takes it to the middle of the forest, near a cellar he found earlier, and then starts digging. When the bag is hidden well enough, he buries it under the soil.
Klaus hates digging. It's a really dirty job, not blood-dirty, just muddy. He likes to get covered with paint or charcoal — a painter wears it like a badge of honor. However, when it comes to gardening, as he calls it, he always has Stefan do all the work.
Stefan Salvatore is not a painter, no. He's more like a writer or a poet. He just keeps on journaling to record his extraordinary Ripper Adventures. Strange lad, Klaus though the first time they met three years ago, but just a few drinks later they were already friends and crime partners.
Klaus is wondering, where are you, Ripper? Of course they decided to split, but just temporarily. Yet, Stefan seems to have vanished into thin air. Without a trace, but with a small safe full of money.
Well, if you think Klaus is stupid enough to trust anyone, even his best friend, you are very much mistaken. Stefan may have the safe, but Klaus has the only key that opens it without having the box explode.
It's just a matter of time, Klaus smirks, clambering back into Caroline's house, and I've got a feeling I will be very glad to lie low in this godforsaken town for a while.
A/N: It's just the prologue, as always. I think it's obvious that the other TVD characters are to appear as well. :)
Besides, as you see, all of them have their secrets. It will take some time to discover them all. *evil grin* And we'll see some flashbacks to learn more about them. Subplots, subplots. Be patient.
Anyway, what do you think? Yes? No? Go to hell? Tell me.