May I present the first chapter of Paradise for the Lost 2: Who Holds the Devil.
I wouldn't have written it without my amazing creative beta Marie aka all-thedevilsarehere, the same talented fiend that made the trailer. (if you didn't see it, shame on you!)
Summary: Caroline's dreams about college are crushed. Elijah prepares for a Broadway audition. Kol loses a friend. And who actually thinks Klaus is serious about babysitting his nephew when the gang goes to a Comic Con? Oh, and by the way, Hell is empty – literally.
Paradise for the Lost 2: Who Holds the Devil
Who holds the devil, let him hold him well,
He hardly will be caught a second time.
—Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust: Part 1
There are things in this world that aren't supposed to happen. Things that should remain impossible.
But isn't the whole concept of possibility and impossibility just a simple matter of agreement in principle? Our ancestors took advantage of reality and molded it into the form of world they agreed upon. Mortals shall not change the Order. Mortals shall not defy it. The living make choices within the time they've been given. What one does while the sand trickles down is purely up to them. But what is dead stays dead—once the last grain of sand leaves the top bulb, there is no going back.
...at least until a supernatural deal gets sealed. Then the Order changes, and the impossible happens.
And so the journey begins anew.
Tires screech, horns honk, people cover their children's eyes. Matt Donovan shuffles off this mortal coil so quickly there's a post-mortem, surprised look on his face. Nobody's there for the blonde guy with pretty blue eyes.
What a tragedy. Bystanders love tragedies, don't they? They love some blood-curdling, hear-breaking experience. Well, just let them wait for the best bit.
"Aaaand the plane comes crashing dooooooooown! BAM!"
Kol Mikaelson, the Fourth Prince of Hell and the Trigger of Apocalypse (that Didn't Happen), is spoon-feeding his son. A dark eyed, ten-month-old giggles and makes an attempt to clap his tiny hands. Crash-landing is his favorite part.
It's been ten months since the baby was born, ten exciting months for almost every member of Kol's family. Almost, because there's always that one grouch spoiling everyone's fun.
"You look like an idiot." Klaus leans against the kitchen door with his arms crossed. Kol doesn't take his eyes off the baby.
"Who is this, Spawney? Is this the grumpy uncle Klaus? Come on, let's throw food at him." The spoon turns into catapult. Orange indistinguishable mash lands precisely on Klaus' face, much to the baby's joy. Kol triumphs. "Carrot face!"
Klaus slowly wipes the food off his face, aiming a murderous stare at his younger brother. "When your son grows up and understands what you call him, he's gonna bash your skull with a baseball bat. I swear I'll teach him."
Technically it's Aiden, the name of a Celtic god of sun. Kol wanted to give tribute to his adoptive mother who was a pagan, and Meredith hoped this name would counterbalance the dark side Spa—I mean, Aiden was certainly born with. But at first nothing about him seemed unusual or extraordinary. Meredith, being a doctor herself, was pleased by such a turn of events. The boy slept peacefully at night, he was healthy and cheerful. Perfectly normal. (And to Kol's relief, there was no sign of hooves or horns. Klaus' cruel joke had ruined Kol's psyche for good.)
Problems started some time ago, when Spa—I mean, Aiden brought his rubber ducky from the corner of the bathroom to the bath—with telekinesis. The duck just floated in the air till it landed in the water. It was just a matter of time for other weird events to follow. The objects Aiden moved are still light, but every time he keeps them in the air for a bit longer.
"If things progress as I think they will, Spawney won't need a bat to bash my skull." Kol grimaces. "He won't even need hands."
Klaus nods thoughtfully. The boy's... skills have been a taboo matter among the family so far, but soon they will have to stop pretending nothing's going on. Who knows what that demon-child will grow up to be?
Seeing Klaus deep in thought, Kol ventures, "Will you babysit Spawn on Halloween?" Maybe this time Klaus is distracted enough to agree.
Well, maybe next time.
"It's Caroline's turn, isn't it?"
"But she has plans for Halloween. And so do I. Matt is supposed to fill in for me at the bar." Klaus remains stubbornly silent, so Kol's tone turns reproachful. "Truth be told, you didn't even hold him since he was born!" That is actually true. Everyone in the family, including the God-fearing Elena, has taken care of Kol's son. Aiden has the most loyal legion of aunts and uncles. Except for Klaus.
It's nothing personal, Klaus says, he hates all kids equally. How can you enjoy a tiny human whose favorite pastime is fitting plastic squares and triangles into the matching holes? Besides, the boy didn't take an instant liking to his uncle either. More than once Aiden tried to spit on Klaus. And those big dark eyes are always drilling into Klaus' blues, as if in some kind of creepy staring contest. As if the kid was challenging him. Challenging Klaus! How ridiculous.
"What plans exactly?"
"I promised the girls I would go to the Hallo-Con with them." Kol cocks his eyebrow at Klaus.
"What the hell is it?"
"A convention. They are going to the panel of that TV series they've been recently fangirling over."
"Good Heavens, doctor Rob is amazing!" Elena's fanning herself with the newest issue of People.
"Why can't I have such doctors in my hospital?" Meredith frowns trying to figure out how doctor Rob can be in a love triangle with his two ex-wives while still being adored by all the nurses and the doctors. Isn't it too much for one man? Oh, right, doctor Rob isn't just a man.
Caroline munches on a cookie. "Because your ovaries would explode."
Solemn silence falls as they all stare at the screen. A man in a white lab coat is kicking a bad guy's ass while guiding a young doctor through a complicated surgery on the phone.
"I am so excited for the Hallo-Con. It's gonna be the best Halloween ever!"
"Just a few days left. Just a few days."
They all take a deep breath. Just a few days, and they will meet doctor Rob in person.
"Have you told Klaus?" Elena asks Caroline. The blonde shakes her head.
"Not yet." Both Elena and Meredith gape at her. "What? I've been busy."
"Really?" Meredith teases the angel. "With what exactly?"
Caroline's cheeks flush. She keeps her stare down looking at her hands. "You're gonna laugh at me if I tell you."
"I can't believe she didn't tell you about the Hallo-Con." Kol's back from Spa— Aiden's bedroom. The little fella doesn't seem to need much sleep. So when he does take a nap, it's like Christmas came early. (Metaphorically of course, you all remember what last Christmas looked like.)
Klaus sulks standing with his back to Kol, watching people on the street through the window. For the last ten months a lot has changed. Caroline has changed. CAROOKIE has been thriving, but Dean left—and Klaus had a hand in it. They never got along, obviously. In Elijah's wise words, Klaus doesn't get along with anyone. His family bears with him because, as they promised, they remain together always and forever. Who would have known that always and forever would be such a long row to hoe.
Klaus' mind is brick-thick, closed to persuasion. No wonder the first thing he did when Caroline announced she wanted to go to college was crushing the wine glass with his hand.
"We haven't been exactly talking much lately. She was studying for months to take that goddamn entrance exams." Klaus spits in anger remembering all those nights Caroline spent with her nose in the books instead of being with him.
"But she's not in college," Kol reasons, "so I assume she failed?" Klaus stays silent. Kol studies his brother's features before he slaps himself on the head.
"Hey! I know this guilty face!" He thunders at Klaus. "Tell me you didn't sabotage her college career!"
Klaus crosses his arms like a petulant child, but says nothing. All he did was make sure the letter from college, whatever was in it, never got to the addressee. No big deal. What she doesn't know can't hurt her. Right?
Kol drops his shoulders. "You can at least make it up to her by taking care of Spawney on Halloween."
"I said, no."
"I guess you don't get my subtle way of blackmailing you, big brother. Don't make me drop the subtle."
Blue eyes open and squint under the bright light of the lab. The muscles contract, the ribcage hurts. Then the man takes a sharp breath. Air enters the body through the nose and passes into the nasal cavity. Into the pharynx, then larynx, then trachea, and finally, the lungs. So this is how breathing feels like, he marvels. This is how oxygen is delivered and carbon dioxide gets removed. What a thrilling sensation.
The brain expresses the idea sending the signal to the nerve cells, and the body slowly sits up. The metal table is causing a tingling sensation to his skin. It's... how do people call it? Cold.
The muscles contract again. Legs move down the table, onto the floor, and the body straightens up. Bones crack. Echo bounces off the walls.
He comes to an old mirror hanging up above the sink. Blue eyes peer at their reflection. So this is the host. The man stretches out his arms, examining them. Then he looks over the rest of the body. It's strong, young, lean—should serve well for many years.
Then the heavy door opens with a scrape. A worker enters the mortuary fridge to do an autopsy. She freezes in the doorway clutching at her chest and lets out a piercing scream at the sight of naked and very much alive Matt Donovan standing in front of the mirror.
You've been probably wondering what Elijah was up to for those ten months.
"In the shadows of the city, a hero's waiting for the call!" He's singing, puffing his chest. "And all the devils are waking up, and all the angels start to fall!" The noises he's making sound partially like woodcutting and partially like a howl of a very hungry, deaf wolf.
For decades he's been dreaming about getting a role on Broadway. Now he has his chance. Nobody can say Elijah doesn't dream big.
"Come with me and bless the night! Let the darkness be your—", he coughs,"—salvation. Curse the day! Escape the light! Break the chains of imagination!"
Elijah spins around and finds Elena leaning against the doorframe with her arms crossed. Her lips are twisted in a playful smirk Elijah has never seen before. Elena never wears that kind of a tempting smile. If she smiles, it's sweet and gentle. But he likes this expression. The devilish part in him senses a challenge.
Then he realizes she's caught him singing Carpe Noctem, lyrics from the Dance of the Vampires Broadway musical, and all the dirty thoughts he might have had vanish as quickly as they appeared. Embarrassed, he clears his throat.
"I wasn't, um, expecting you here so early."
"Clearly." She pushes off the doorframe and sashays towards Elijah. His blood runs faster when she grabs his tie and pulls him down by the neck, their lips locking in the process. It's a short but fiery kiss. Enough for him to bury his hand in her curls—did she go to a hairdresser?—and the devil in him awakens again. Suddenly she pulls away, and Elijah lets out a growl.
"I want you to sing to me tonight while you're making love to me." She whispers into his ear.
"Why not now?" Hot and bothered, he leans in for another kiss.
"Because I have some errands to run." Elena winks at him and turns to leave. He watches her walk away, all lyrics gone from his head.
Caroline closes a book on behavioral psychology and glances at the clock. Half past midnight. A theory about training people through reinforcement and punishment has fried her brain. But wouldn't it be easier if she could train a devil like that? Good dog, bad dog. She lets out a tired sigh.
"Are you planning on getting any sleep tonight?" She hears Klaus' voice coming from behind her back. Great, she thinks, yet another bitter, heated argument is brewing. But before she can start a rant on how inconsiderate he is towards her, Klaus sits down next to her and takes her hand into his. It temporarily puts out the fire starting inside Caroline's mind.
"I heard about the Hallo-Con, love." He says as he strokes the back of her hand. "I will babysit Spawn so you can go with them."
Caroline's jaw drops. "Seriously?" She stutters, staring at him in amazement. She opens her mouth to say something, but then she changes her mind and throws her arms around his neck instead. They have been at odds for some time now and the atmosphere's gotten practically unbearable. His fits of jealousy and possessiveness have been driving her crazy. For a moment she even thought the monster in him awakened again, making Klaus incapable of real feelings—pure feelings that spring out of love and not out of dark desires. But despite his evil roots and his dark side, he's still the same Klaus that brought her wings back long time ago.
"I thought I would do something decent for once."
"I knew you couldn't be a hundred-per-cent-jerk."
"Occasionally I reduce my nastiness level by ten." He holds her in his arms, taking in her scent, a mixture of coffee and baking powder. He's getting himself in a deep shit with this Spawn business, but right now it doesn't matter. Caroline matters, like gravity that keeps his two feet on the ground.
He presses his lips against her neck, sucking at it, earning a moan of approval. She tilts her head to a side feeling his teeth graze the delicate skin of her collar bone. Longing for intimacy their relationship's been lacking, Caroline pulls him down onto the couch with her. As he deepens the kiss, some part of Klaus' mind wonders whether the angels is happy with him. The question itself seems odd and disturbing. Klaus isn't the one to sit on the bare stone and ponder, growing a two-meter-long beard in the process. But some strange feeling is nagging him, a prick of conscience he never had.
Hopefully she'll forget about the whole college affair. If Kol blabs out about Klaus' part in Caroline's failure, his younger brother will have a new costume for Halloween: Real Headless Horseman.
"Kiss and make-up, then?" He breathes heavily against her lips. "No more quiet days?"
"No more quiet days." She laughs.
Caroline's about to unbuckle Klaus' belt when a loud howl comes from Elijah's apartment upstairs. They both jump to their feet, alarmed.
"COME WITH ME AND BLESS THE NIGHT!"
And it's followed by Elena's scream, "ELIJAH?!"
Looks like somebody came.
They don't talk about it.
Elijah threatens to unleash Hell on Earth if anyone ever mentions what happened that night. And you never know with Elijah's metaphors.
Halloween comes along with scary pumpkins, trick-or-treaters, and ruined bed sheets.
Matt Donovan walks out of the mortuary and takes a deep breath. Breathing is so fascinating. He might be addicted to it.
He doesn't stand out much in a stolen lab coat, with his pale face and some blood rolling down his temple. Actually, it makes a great Halloween costume.
So this is the City of Angels. He remembers the times when the land was inhabited by the tribes of Tongva and Chumash. Then the Spanish came, and after them it was claimed by the Americans. The Mexican–American War was a busy time for him. Real harvest. But now it's time to explore the other side of the coin.
Kids are running around with bags of candy and chocolate. It's surprising how death becomes a reason to celebrate on that one special day. Matt, or whoever is possessing his body, has very fond memories of Samhain. Rituals—symbolic or quite real—and bonfires. People losing their inhibitions. The spirits coming freely to the world of the living. But it was never as real as he feels now.
The spirits remained ephemeral. He, on the other hand, is now flesh and blood.
Caroline tells Klaus about Take Heart, her favorite TV series featuring doctor Rob. A heart surgeon who fights evil under the cover of darkness. Cutting out the bad guys' hearts is his trademark. He's also divorced (twice), but keeps sleeping with his ex-wives, because it's actually a very deep, complicated relationship between them, Caroline assures Klaus. Nobody knows his true identity except for Hudson, a gay dwarf that buries the bodies after Rob's done with them. Oh, and Rob writes poems, because deep down he's very emotional. Sometimes, to give vent to his emotional turmoil, he sleeps with some random nurse. But none of them holds a grudge against him. Because, mind you, it's doctor Rob. The badass heart-surgeon that made it to season two.
Klaus' shock is understandable. "I sacrifice myself for the cause which turns out to be a soap opera!"
"Klaus, we talked about it. Suppress the anger." Caroline instructs Klaus, brandishing a finger at him. When he raises his arms giving up, she rubs her hands together. "Good."
"But I want you to know, I will strip this costume off you when you're back." He grins at Caroline's bloody nurse costume. Meredith thought it would be fun if they demonstrated their love for doctor Rob as sexy, bloody nurses. (Only Elena, as they'd expected, needed some convincing.)
"No, Meredith!" They hear Kol shout in the bedroom. "I will not dress up as a gay dwarf!"
Klaus manages to transport the kid from the crib to the living room. Stretching his arms as much as he can to keep dangling Spawn at a safe distance. It feels like carrying a sack of very delicate flour. The sack, however, seems to enjoy the ride.
Eventually Spa— I mean, Aiden gets seated on the couch, carefree and drooling. Klaus sits across the coffee table with his elbows propped on his knees. His fist clench. He has never given a serious talking-to to a baby. At least the guy is too young to object. Or rebel.
"Listen, Spawn. We need to talk, or more accurately, you need to listen." Klaus starts. It's not awkward at all. He's just threatening a ten-month-old. "I'm here today because I want Caroline to get over the college thing. You will not interfere. You will not tell her what you know." Ha. He exults internally at the prospect of Aiden not being able to reveal the truth. The kid stares at Klaus with his big, clueless eyes, tilting his head to a side.
"You will sleep through the night like a baby, no pun intended, and we're done for a decade. No whining, no crying, no pooping. Do you understand me?"
Prolonged, strained silence hangs between them. Klaus' eyes bore into his nephew expectantly.
Hallo-Con in LA resembles a beehive, even though it's much smaller than the typical San Diego convention. The place is like one, huge living exhibit hall. Kol sees all the heroes from his childhood. People that, just like him, have never really grown up. Costumes tend towards the weird, upgraded to the Halloween level. All the Lokis are much paler. Khaleesis wear dark bags under their eyes and a few Khal Drogos are back from the dead. But it's Once-Upon-a-Timers who excel in the costume department. Sherlockians carry banners that say either I believe in Sherlock Holmes or Moriarty was real. The Walking Dead fandom seems the only one that naturally fits.
But the gang is waiting in line to get to Take Heart panel. From what Caroline told him, he expected just a small group of mentally unstable fangirls with a fetish for lab coats. What he sees throws him off balance. It's a whole legion. Or maybe even two. Nurses, doctors, patients, and villains from the series. And there's even a gay dwarf.
Bored by the subject-specific fandom, Kol looks around the hall and notices a group of people dressed up as demons. They remind him of the rescue trip to Hell he went on with Elijah and Klaus. It was all about running for the most of the time there, but he remembers the demons. They would easily pass for humans, if it hadn't been for those scary eyes and fangs. Eyes... Kol casts a second look at them, but this time they are only showing off their fake fangs. But he could swear he's seen some eyes flicker.
Well, he shrugs. People probably go to great lengths to make a cool costume.
"No!" Klaus snaps, clutching at his head, pulling his hair out. "It's a triangle! It fits in the triangle hole! Look!" Klaus swears to make sure Kol doesn't procreate any more. Kids are so dumb. Spa— I mean, Aiden looks at him and giggles.
"Do you see this block?" He holds a plastic square right in front of his nephew's face. "This is a square. It fits—" He angrily shoves it into the matching hole, "In a damn square! Spatial cognition skills, Spawn. Got it?"
Aiden throws a rectangular block at Klaus. The devil clenches his fist. Taking a deep breath, he sits down on the floor next to the boy.
"You know what pisses me off? That Caroline is out there, swooning over some guy in a fake lab coat."
Aiden blinks, gurgles, and waves his hands at his uncle. Klaus stares at him for a moment, then a sly smirk grows on his face. He nods at Aiden, impressed.
"That's actually a good idea, mate."
He just has to figure out how to put that weird baby carrier on.
"We made it!" Caroline high-fives Elena. They get into the panel room, finding a good place close to the scene—not without Kol's compulsion, but oh well. They're the biggest fans, they deserve it. People flock around, excitement is filling the room. It's an amazing feeling, being around people that are as crazy about something as you are. Here Elena, Meredith, and Caroline don't have to hide with their Take Heart feelings. Here they can get carried away. Emotions are heightened, tension's growing.
And then someone pats Caroline on the shoulder.
Caroline's eyes grow wide as she stands there speechless. How did he get here?
"Klaus!" Kol yells. "Why the hell are you wearing Spawn?!"
Meredith gapes at Klaus who's, indeed, wearing the pink baby sling on his chest, with Spawn happily fidgeting in it, pulling at Klaus' necklaces. Then she shakes the first shock off and whack Kol on the head.
"I can't believe it." Caroline huffs, ignoring the whole Spawn vs Aiden dispute. It's been going on forever. "You took a baby to the convention? Do you know how dangerous it can be for him?"
Meredith nods angrily. "Bacteria! Baby kidnappers! What were you thinking?"
"Do you really think anything can happen to a devil and a devil's spawn?" Klaus rolls his eyes. If what Kol told him was true, then Spawn might be well capable of protecting himself. It's not Spawn they should be worried about. He could probably set the whole building on fire with just one fart.
"Can we just enjoy the moment?" Elena sighs. "We're here together, we're having fun, let's not ruin it."
Elena is right. They've been waiting for Take Heart panel for months. They have supernatural security guards with them. What could go wrong?
The lights go off, and the spotlight focuses on the scene. People hold their breaths in anticipation.
Drumming starts. Murmurs spread. Everyone's waiting for the big moment.
Finally curtains open and a man walks in, greeted by a cacophony of hysterical screams and shouting.
"Doctor Rooooob!" Elena yells, and Caroline joins the crowd of shrieking women.
"I think I'm gonna cry!" Meredith sniffs.
"Good evening ladies!" The blonde man in his forties wearing a black V-neck T-shirt and a pair of matching jeans bows down. "Tonight your hearts are mine!"
More shrieking follows. Only two people in the crowd stay silent.
Klaus' jaw drop down and hits the floor. It's impossible. Impossible. It can't be.
He would recognize those piercing blue eyes even in the deepest pits of Hell—where they actually belong. Kol raises his eyebrows, forgetting to breathe.
The man applauded by the room full of TV-addicts isn't human.
He's their father. The Ruler of Hell roams the streets freely among the living.
And he's a TV star.
DUN DUN DUN!
TO BE CONTINUED
What sort of a supernatural deal let Mikael escape Hell?
How come Elijah didn't notice what all of you probably did?
What the hell happened to Matt?
Why Klaus must be such an asshole sometimes?
What's going on with Spa— I mean, Aiden?
Stay tuned, my dear readers. And be afraid. Be very afraid.
You can follow me on FF or Tumblr (liarfaker) to keep up with the story.