So I only recently found out that Finn is older than Elijah. Welp not in my world folks, not in my world.
There were a few things about himself that Klaus had realized early on in life.
One – he was self-sufficient. He'd learned that at the tender age of nine when Mikael had begun sending him to sleep away summer camp. While the rest of the family vacationed in Ibiza or Monaco, Klaus was sent to a third rate camp in the English countryside. Mikael claimed it was because he needed to be taught respect and discipline but, in retrospect, it was obvious the bitter man had just wanted one time of year where he could be free of the bastard child his adulterous wife had borne. That first summer had been hard but after that, Klaus had decided to make the most of the situation. By the next summer he was a ten year old running an after-dark betting pool, the summer after that business was booming, and the summer after that he was expelled and no longer allowed on camp grounds. Still, by then the point had been hammered home. Klaus had learned he could survive, and even thrive, just fine on his own. He loved his family (most of them, most of the time) but Klaus didn't need them in order to get by. He didn't need to rely on their money, their name, or even their presence. He could stand on his own two feet and had been doing it for decades now.
Two – he was selfish. That insight had come in his adolescence and (in a roundabout way) it was Elijah that led Klaus to this bit of self-realization. His relationship with his big brother had always been an interesting mix of loving and loathing and overtime Klaus had become honest enough with himself to admit that the loathing had been due largely in part to how envious he'd been of Elijah, the first son and golden boy. The summer after he turned sixteen, Klaus' maternal grandfather came to stay with them. The old man was nearing the end and since Esther was his only surviving child, he'd come to see to it that the vast family countryside estate passed safely and legally into the hands of one her offspring. Of course Elijah, first born, had the strongest claim to the property in the traditional sense but Klaus was tired of watching his big brother have everything handed to him on a silver platter. So he'd taken to spending more and more time with the senile old man, snaking his way into the lonely man's heart until finally Klaus suggested that maybe he should be the one to inherit the estate. By then his grandfather was far too fond of Klaus to disagree. Klaus never told Elijah this but the day the final will was being drawn up, good old grandfather had sat across a table from Klaus and asked him if he'd like to consider dividing the estate with his eldest brother, seeing as how there was more than enough land to go around. Klaus had stared at the old man in silence for a moment before calmly declining that suggestion. He didn't want half, he wanted the whole damn thing. That's when Klaus decided that if he wanted something for himself, he would simply take it. Never mind that he hasn't stepped foot on that estate in well over a decade.
His ability to easily manipulate his grandfather was related to the third thing Klaus knew to be true of himself – he was cunning. He'd come to realize that particular trait long before gramps had shown up and that was all down to Esther. Klaus had learned from the very best – a true Machiavellian. If Esther ever had any scruples, she'd certainly run all out of them by the time Klaus was old enough to eavesdrop. His mother always got her way because she was always five moves ahead. That mind of hers was constantly calculating until she was the puppet master tugging on everyone's strings. Whether or not Esther realized it, Klaus had watched and learned the tools of the trade. Learned to anticipate people's decisions before they'd even realized there was a choice to be made. Learned how to deceive people, how to manipulate them. Learned how to force an advantage even where there was none. It wasn't until well into his teens that Klaus realized just how far that cunningness could take him in life. He manipulated and schemed his way through school, graduated at the top of his class, got into Wharton and got as far away from London as he could.
But while Klaus got his cunningness from his mother, he chose to believe his elusive birth father was the source behind the fourth thing he knew about himself – he was clever. Not only was he smart enough to deceive and manipulate the people around him, but Klaus was also just plain smart - through and through. His mind was sharp and it was only made sharper by Mikael who insisted on pitting him against all his siblings, time and time again, in any activity possible. Klaus learned to wield his intelligence like a weapon. At a young age he may not have been able to outrun Mikael, but he could certainly outwit him. And that's precisely what Klaus did. He'd been told a hundred times throughout his adolescence that he was 'too smart' for his own good. Klaus thought that was a load of bullshit. In all his years, he'd never found himself in a problem brought on from being too smart. "Too smart for your own good" was a diagnosis fools made. And Klaus never had any time for fools.
Self-sufficient and selfish. Cunning and clever. Klaus considered those to be four of his more primary traits. Moreover, those four traits in particular are what made him a notable success at his job. Wall Street fit Klaus like a hand to a glove. Wall Street let Klaus exercise what he considered to be some of his most engrained traits. Sacrificing Lockwood would have been the selfish thing to do. It also would have been the clever thing to do. And not too long ago, it's exactly what Klaus would have done without hesitation. Hell, even now his instincts were screaming at him to make a call and offer up Lockwood. The only thing stopping him was the one thing Klaus wasn't willing to risk losing.
Out on his balcony, Klaus braced both palms against the railing and stared out at the city. He thought about what Caroline might list as his best traits. She certainly wouldn't put a premium on his selfishness. If she could, she'd probably do away with his cunningness too. Cliché Wall Street devil. It certainly had an interesting ring to it.
Klaus knew he was fixating on Caroline to avoid the much more glaring issue he faced, but thinking extensively about the SEC and the Salvatores and Tyler Lockwood was only giving him a headache. It was after ten at night and he had already replayed that morning over 100 times. Caroline's voice warred with Beth's in his head as the words kept dancing through his mind.
Cliché Wall Street devil. If I were you, I'd make sure I had a damn good lawyer on hand. Cliché Wall Street devil. If I were you, I'd make sure I had a damn good lawyer on hand.
And then every hour or so, Alaric would chime in.
Scapegoat. Scapegoat. Scapegoat. We don't have time. Scapegoat.
Growling low beneath his breath, he began to pace the length of the long balcony. For Klaus, every problem always had a solution. It was just about finding it. The longer he thought on it the more frustrated he became and Klaus was contemplating going for a swim to clear his head when the tapping of heels sounded behind him.
"Rebekah, whatever it is, can it wait?" He grumbled as he stared over the edge of the balcony and continued before his sister could respond. "It's going to have to."
"Is there room out there for one more?"
Klaus' head shot up but he didn't turn around. "What are you doing here Caroline?"
"I can leave."
"Don't." He spoke quickly, spinning around to face her and leaning back against the railing. "Come on out."
Caroline stepped out onto the balcony, and simply stood there for a moment trying to decipher the blank look on Klaus' face. As his PA she'd done what he'd asked and cancelled all his meetings but as his girlfriend Caroline felt like they should probably talk about what happened earlier so she went home and paced the rest of the day away before finally coming here. And the blank stare on Klaus' face was making her wish she'd come up with a better game plan than just showing up unannounced.
"So," Caroline finally broke the silence though her voice came out barely above a whisper, "are we fighting or…"
The blank stare on Klaus' face broke and he sighed a little, gesturing out to Caroline with one arm. She crossed the distance between them quickly, aligning her body against his and nuzzling her face against his chest. Klaus wrapped both arms around her, bracing his chin on her head. They stayed like this in silence for fifteen minutes before Klaus spoke.
"You're getting cold." He said, running both hands up and down her arms. "We should head inside."
Caroline just nodded, turning around and striding back inside. She took a seat on one of the couches and a moment later Klaus joined her, lowering two glasses and a bottle of amber liquid onto the coffee table in front of them.
"Nightcap?" Klaus asked as he filled the glasses. "I don't know about you but I certainly need one." He passed her a glass before cradling his own tumbler and leaning back against the couch.
Turning fully on the couch to face him, Caroline tucked her legs beneath her, twirling the glass of bourbon between the cradle of her legs.
"Sweetheart, don't take this the wrong way but why'd you come here?" Klaus asked, turning slightly and reclining on the arm of the couch so he could face her comfortably.
"I wanted to check on you." She said venturing a small smile.
Klaus watched her with inquisitive eyes. "You could have checked on me tomorrow morning at the office."
"Would you have preferred that?" Caroline asked.
"No. I'm simply surprised, is all. You didn't seem too pleased with me earlier today." Klaus pointed out.
She nodded slowly, rocking back and forth slightly on the couch. "Yeah well you didn't seem all that thrilled with me either."
Klaus couldn't exactly argue with that so instead he polished off his glass before leaning forward to pour himself another while Caroline continued.
"We left things in a bad place this morning, but if we're going to make 'us' work, we need to be able to hash out our problems."
Klaus caught her gaze again and nodded. "Shall we clear the air then?"
"Okay," Caroline began slowly, wiggling a bit more in her spot and flipping her hair nervously back over her shoulder. "Earlier today you accused me of giving you an ultimatum-"
"Accused?" Klaus cut her off, arching an eyebrow at her over the rim of his glass poised halfway to his mouth.
Caroline's eyes scrunched closed and she slapped her palm to her forehead. "Okay let me start over." She looked over at him again. "Earlier today you insinuated that I'd given you an ultimatum."
Klaus lowered his glass to the table and moved Caroline's as well before it could topple over from its precarious position. "Yes, the ultimatum. I'm paraphrasing here but the gist of it fell along the lines of if I save my firm by scapegoating Tyler Lockwood, I would – in your eyes- become a monster and we would be over."
"I never said those words. 'We would be over.' That isn't even what I meant." She said, running a hand through her curls.
"Then what did you mean, Caroline?" Klaus asked, his eyes locked on hers.
"I meant," She began but then paused, letting out a low huff. "I meant that I don't know what it would mean for us if you'd done what you were thinking of doing to Tyler."
Klaus furrowed his eyebrows in genuine confusion. "What does that mean, Caroline?" He asked again.
"It means, I don't know what it would mean!" She said, flinging her hands in the air. "You have to understand Klaus, Tyler is my friend. My friend. I take friendship very seriously and yeah maybe I'm loyal to a fault and maybe he hasn't earned it, but that's just the way I'm wired. And I wouldn't know how to deal with something like that. I wouldn't know how to be with someone who could do that to someone else I cared about."
"So now you don't know how to be with me?" Klaus asked slowly. This whole hashing it out idea was beginning to look less and less promising.
"Could you please put yourself in my shoes?" Caroline groaned.
"Could you put yourself in mine?" Klaus shot back.
Silence fell again as they openly contemplated each other. It was Caroline that broke it a few minutes later.
"This is your life's work and now it's in jeopardy. And you're right, Tyler does shoulder some of the blame. If you say sacrificing Tyler is the easiest solution, then I believe you. I'm not naïve, Klaus, I get it – Wall Street is a cutthroat world. I wouldn't hold it against you for doing what you needed to do, I wouldn't agree with it either, but I wouldn't hold it against you…if it were anyone but Tyler." Caroline sucked in another breath and rushed to continue before Klaus could interrupt. "Because it's not just about Tyler. It's about me. I don't want to have to walk around feeling like I'm betraying someone I care about by sleeping with the person who, for whatever necessary reason, ruined their life. That loyalty is just part of who I am. And I don't want to have to compromise who I am." She finished on a whisper.
"Okay." Klaus said with a nod, and genuinely meant it. He understood what she was saying. He didn't empathize with it but he could understand it. "I suppose I didn't fully consider the position this would put you in. Believe it or not Caroline, I don't want you to have to compromise who you are either. It may have escaped your notice, but I'm rather fond of you, just as you are now." He smiled lightly but then his face went serious. "I'm actually glad you've explained it to me this way because now I can hope that you understand why I can't compromise who I am either. Not for you, or anyone else."
Caroline's eyebrows furrowed in confusion. "What are you talking about?"
"The 'cliché Wall Street devil'…I'm already him." Klaus said with a shrug.
"What?" She asked, her expression still confused.
Klaus sighed before continuing. "Sweetheart, I'm the same guy I've always been. You're just only now seeing this side of me. But it's always been there and it always will be. I think it's pretty clear I don't dabble in the illegal, at least not knowingly, but the decisions I make and the lines I walk may flirt with the dark side from time to time." He explained, keeping his eyes trained on Caroline and trying to gauge her reaction to everything he was saying. "And I don't hesitate to make these decisions because to me they're innate. I don't lose any sleep at night over it, I don't even bat an eyelash, and this is just a part of who I am."
Caroline stared back at him with discerning eyes and when she didn't say anything, Klaus continued.
"I just needed you to know, completely, who I am." He said, his voice steady. "And I'm asking you to accept all the parts of me, not just the parts you like."
Finally Caroline's lips curled up into a slow smile. "I think I can do that."
A weight he hadn't fully realized was there lifted off of Klaus' chest and he grinned back at her. Reaching over and snagging her hand, Klaus pulled Caroline to him until she came tumbling forward with a laugh. After a bit of maneuvering he was lying flat on the couch with her body flush against his, their shoes kicked to the floor. Klaus' left hand ran idly through the strands of Caroline's hair as their chests began to rise and fall in sync.
"Not to ruin the happy moment, but are we going to talk about…" Caroline trailed off.
"The SEC problem?" Klaus finished the sentence for her.
"Yes, though I like to think of it as the Salvatore problem."
He kept his fingers running through her hair but let his eyes drift closed. "Well right now I'd just like to think of it as tomorrow's problem." It was obvious no grand solution was going to occur to him tonight and Klaus was allowing himself a few moments to just bask in the knowledge that he and Caroline would be okay.
Klaus was almost asleep when Caroline broke the silence again.
"I think it'll be okay." She muttered into his chest. "When it boils down to it, you nor your firm did anything wrong. You're just as much a victim of the Salvatores as all those other innocent people they ripped off. No matter how ugly it gets, in the end I think it'll be okay."
Klaus had blinked his eyes open to stare at her while she spoke and when she was done she finally tilted her head up to catch his gaze.
He stared back at her, lifting his hand to stroke her cheek. "Promise me no matter how this ordeal plays out, you'll hold on to that positive attitude."
He himself didn't share her optimism but still Klaus found it strangely comforting.
Caroline just smiled, stretching her neck to peck him quickly on the lips before laying her head back on his chest. Sometime after midnight, Klaus woke up and carried a still sleeping Caroline up to his bedroom. Somehow she managed to stay asleep as Klaus slid her clothes off before putting her in one of his shirts. He crawled into the bed beside her and passed out again moments after his head hit the pillow.
Caroline's eyes blinked open against the morning sun as she rolled over, momentarily confused by her surroundings. Remembering she was at Klaus' penthouse, Caroline let out a long yawn as she sat up in the bed and looked down at Klaus. He was still out cold but Klaus shifted restlessly for a few moments before he rolled onto his side. Her lips curved into a small smile while she watched him. Klaus only ever slept on his back when she was with him and her head was on his chest. Whenever she got out of the bed his body would roll over seeking hers for a moment or two before slumping back into his side resting position. Caroline found it all oddly charming.
The clock on the nightstand read a quarter 'til 7 and Caroline figured she had enough time to make them a nice breakfast before they had to head into the office. She glanced down at herself as she slid off the bed and realized Klaus must have changed her clothes last night. She contemplated dressing appropriately incase Rebekah was around but Caroline shrugged and decided the other girl had seen her in less than this already anyway.
She made her way downstairs and as she tore through his kitchen cabinets, Caroline was thrilled to find Klaus' housekeeper had recently restocked the place. She pulled together the ingredients for blueberry pancakes and set to work. Another twenty minutes passed and she had a small stack of pancakes done already when Klaus sauntered into the kitchen.
She threw him a smile over her shoulder before turning back to the griddle. Then Caroline felt him come up behind her.
"Good morning, love." His voice was still husky from sleep and Caroline felt his hand land on her stomach as his naked chest pressed against her back.
She flipped the pancakes as she responded. "Morning."
"Truthfully, I was a little disappointed to find you gone from bed this morning." Klaus's breath danced across the back of her neck while his right hand slid to the hem of the shirt she wore before dipping under it.
"I got up to make breakfast." Caroline stated the obvious, pointing the growing stack with her spatula.
"I would have rather had you for breakfast." Klaus said, dipping his head to run his lips across her shoulder.
Caroline sucked in a deep breath, her nipples tightening to sharp points beneath the loose shirt. "You say that now but you haven't tried these pancakes."
"Mmm," Klaus murmured his doubts against the smooth skin of her neck, "I doubt they taste as good as you." He stated calmly as the hand beneath her shirt cupped her between her legs.
Caroline's eyes went unfocused at his touch and she used the last of her wits to flip the switch on the griddle to turn it off. Then the only thing she could focus on was the feel of Klaus' calloused fingers teasing her already wet folds.
"Spread your legs a little for me, sweetheart." Klaus rumbled into her ear.
Caroline's hand shot out to grip the edge of the marble countertop and she did as he requested. In that moment, she would have done just about anything he asked so long as he promised to keep touching her. It was almost scary how quickly Klaus took her from 0 to 60. She felt him press closer against her back as Klaus' free hand pushed her legs further apart. Then his middle finger stroked tight over her clit before gliding inside, coaxing a low moan from Caroline's throat. Klaus withdrew his finger at a leisurely pace, trailing the slick coated finger down her inner thigh.
"You're very wet." Klaus stated matter-of-factly, his free arm wrapping around her midriff and holding her tight against him.
"Mhm." It was the only response she could muster up.
"And is that all for me?" He asked in that same cool voice.
Another mumbled "Mhm."
"Amazing." Klaus growled as two fingers plunged into Caroline.
She sucked in an audible breath, her core clenching around his stroking fingers. She knew Klaus was toying with her by the way he kept changing the rhythm unexpectedly. One moment he'd be plunging two fingers in and out at a rapid pace and then the next he'd run his finger inside her in a lazy circle with soft teasing strokes. Caroline's legs trembled and she gripped the countertop harder. She tried to use her hips to grind down on his fingers but Klaus only tightened the arm banded around her midriff, stilling her motions. He did this for a while longer, teasing her just because he could, and when Caroline was pretty sure she was going to combust with need, Klaus took her over the edge. She shuttered against him as the climax wracked through her and if it weren't for Klaus' arm around her stomach, Caroline might have slid to the floor.
Klaus withdrew his fingers from her and Caroline turned around on wobbly legs just in time to watch him suck those two digits into his mouth. He lapped them clean before speaking again. "No, there's nothing better tasting than that."
If she hadn't been so exhausted from her orgasm, Caroline might have been turned on all over again. In fact, she was turned on all over again –it was a shame she lacked the energy to do anything about it.
"Come on then love." Klaus smirked at her. "Time for breakfast."
While Caroline slid into a seat at the table, Klaus brought over two plates of pancakes and two cups of coffee.
"These are Grandma Ruth's worry-free blueberry pancakes. They'll make you blissfully worry-free for however long it takes you to eat them." She explained as she reached for the sugar and cream. "But that's just according to Grandma Ruth. Who is not actually my grandmother, but my great-great-great grandmother. Or so I'm told." Caroline finished with a shrug.
Klaus laughed a little as he drenched his pancakes in syrup.
"I just thought with everything going on, I'd try to make this morning a little less stressful for you."
"You do that just by being here." Klaus stated matter-of-factly as he stirred milk into his coffee.
Caroline's lips curled into a small smile as she picked up her fork. Klaus dug in as well and Caroline's smile widened at the look on his face after the first bite.
"Sweetheart, these are amazing."
"Thank you Grandma Ruth." Caroline said with a laugh as she devoured her own stack.
After breakfast they rushed to get ready for work, taking separate showers much to Klaus' chagrin. Caroline dressed quickly in one of the outfits she kept here and they were out the door.
The blissfulness of that morning began to wear off the morning Klaus stepped into the building. He'd been able to ignore his problems for an hour or two this morning but now they were back to staring him in the face. Klaus disappeared into his office and Caroline left him alone to work in peace. She fielded all his calls and shuffled around a few meetings, knowing Klaus would need the solitary time to think. He'd find a way out of this, Caroline was certain of it.
Then an hour later Alaric was bursting out of his office and all but sprinting over to Klaus'. The look of alarm on Alaric's face as he passed by her desk had Caroline rising out of her seat and following him into Klaus' office.
"They took the Salvatores into custody 17 minutes ago." Alaric said, running a frantic hand through his hair as he stared across the room at his boss and friend.
Klaus stood up slowly from his chair and leaned forward a bit to brace both palms on his desk. Alaric could practically see the wheels begin turning in his head.
"I don't get it." Caroline said, looking back and forth between the two men. "They got the Salvatores. This is good news."
"Not if the Salvatores were just their first stop." Alaric said, shooting her a look before turning his gaze back to Klaus.
Caroline's mouth open and closed as she tried to process what Alaric was suggesting.
Then Klaus was circling his desk, headed straight for her.
"You're going to need to get ahold of Rebekah. Tell her my bank information is in the last drawer on the left at my home desk. She'll need to post my bail." Klaus spoke quickly and calmly. "Caroline!" He shook her shoulder lightly to snap her out of it. "I need to know that you're following what I'm saying."
"Rebekah. Bail. Bank information left drawer." Caroline rambled off, trying to ignore the tightening sensation in her stomach.
Klaus barely nodded at her before turning his attention to Alaric. "Get our law firm on the line ASAP and let them know its time they earn that ridiculous retainer's fee they charge us. I want their best attorney down at the courthouse within the hour." As he spoke, Klaus moved to look out the door of his office. The hall was lined with heads popping out of doorways to try to see some commotion happening at the far end of the hallway.
Klaus turned back to Alaric. "And get our PR consultant out here now. This will hit the media soon and I want to control the narrative on this. I don't give a shit what she has to do just make sure she gets a hold of the situation before it spirals. Spin the story any way possible. Let's try to keep as many of our investors as we can." Which would be pretty damn difficult when it becomes public knowledge that the head of the firm had been arrested.
Compartmentalizing his different concerns, Klaus turned to the next issue as he turned to face Caroline again. "After you've talked to Rebekah, I need you to get in contact with Elijah. They'll try to get a warrant from a judge to freeze all my assets and I'd like to empty out a few of my safety eggs before then. Elijah will know what to do. Give him this code." Klaus snatched a piece of paper off the desk and scribbled a 24 digit cipher on it before passing it to Caroline.
Glancing toward the hallway, he could see a swarm of about 6 men in blue windbreaker jackets labeled 'SEC' coming toward his office. Klaus turned his attention back to Alaric and fixed the man with a penetrating stare.
"I hereby appoint you interim President. I trust your judgment Alaric. Do whatever needs to be done to handle the initial fallout."
Alaric gave a curt nod just as the office door burst open.
"Well hello gentleman." Klaus' lips curled into a smirk as he spun to the side to face them.
The one up front pulled a pair of handcuffs from his pocket as he advanced towards him. "Niklaus Mikaelson you are under arrest for multiple accounts of microcap stock fraud and attempting to obstruct justice." The tall man spun Klaus around, tugged his hands behind him and cuffed him.
The other SEC agents were carrying cardboard boxes and began unceremoniously throwing Klaus' files and computers into them.
"You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law." While he was read his rights, Klaus kept his gaze locked on Caroline. Her eyes were bright with unshed tears and she was gripping the back of a chair so hard her knuckles were pale white. "You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you. Do you understand the rights I have just read to you?"
His attention was still on Caroline and the officer repeated gruffly. "Do you understand the rights I have just read to you?"
"Yes." Klaus responded to the officer but didn't tear his gaze from Caroline. Though a moment later he had to as the officer yanked him up, spun him around and marched him out the door.
As they led him down the hall, employees stopped and stared with wide eyes. Klaus gritted his teeth in barely restrained rage before barking loudly. "Everybody get back to work. We are still a business and anyone who doesn't feel like proceeding as such should leave their ID at the door and get the fuck out now!"
People scurried away to all corners, disappearing into offices as Klaus was led to the elevator. In the elevator, he turned to watch the steel doors slide close and once they did, Klaus allowed himself a moment to come to terms with the fact that this was really happening.
Back in Klaus' office Caroline stood stock-still, her fingers still clutched around the back of a chair. All around her, the remaining SEC agents packed up Klaus' office in boxes labelled 'EVIDENCE'. And still Caroline couldn't bring herself to move.
A second later, Alaric appeared in front of her.
"Hey," he said shaking her shoulder, "hey!"
Caroline's eyes snapped up to lock on his.
"We don't get to fall apart right now Caroline, you hear me." Alaric said, one hand still braced lightly on her shoulder. "Get ahold of Rebekah and then Elijah. Everything's going to be fine."
Promise me no matter how this ordeal plays out, you'll hold on to that positive attitude.
Klaus' words from yesterday danced through Caroline's mind and she sucked in a deep breath before exhaling slowly. "Everything will be okay. It has to be."
Alaric nodded once more at her before disappearing out of the office. She took a brief moment to admire his grace under fire. Calm, cool and collected. That's what she needed to be too. And that's exactly what she kept telling herself as she marched out of the office and went in search of Rebekah.
Klaus was learning that after the initial arrest, the whole process got a whole lot slower. They'd taken him to the NYPD's 7th precinct – not too far from where his offices were though right now they felt light-years away. They put him in a cell for the first ten minutes and Klaus spent that time pacing the tiny space of the cage. Then one guy came in, led him down the hall and took his fingerprints before escorting him back to the cell. Then after another ten minutes another guy came and took him to get his mug shot before walking him back to the cell. Then what felt like another fifteen minutes passed before guy number one returned and this time led Klaus to a small room that featured four metal chairs and rectangular metal table. He sat Klaus in the chair, cuffed his left wrist to the table and then disappeared again.
And Klaus was left to wait again. Not that he minded all that much. He didn't plan on saying anything until his lawyer got here anyway.
Klaus wasn't sure how long he'd been sitting there when the door finally swung open. A man in his late forties with an SEC badge swinging around his neck walked in and took a seat in one of the chairs across from Klaus. He dropped a manila folder on the table and lounged casually back in the seat.
"Mr. Niklaus Mikaelson. What a pleasure to finally meet you."
Klaus cocked an eyebrow but kept his face otherwise impassive. "I'm afraid you have me at a disadvantage because I have no idea who you are."
"Agent Jim Tobin." The man said. "And you might not know me but I know all about you."
"I'm flattered." Klaus replied dryly.
The man chuckled and sat forward, propping his elbows on the table and flipping open the folder. "So let's get right to it shall we. Why don't you start by taking me back to the day you first heard the name 'Knight Advertising Agency.'"
Klaus recognized the name. It had been the one the shell company had borne before the Salvatores had changed it to Emilios.
"It is my right to remain silent until my counsel arrives, is it not?" Klaus pointed out, striking a relaxed posed that was nothing like what he felt on the inside.
"It is. It is. Though the innocent ones aren't usually so tightlipped." Tobin said with a shrug of his shoulders. "You can remain silent but, if you don't mind, I'll fire off some questions anyway. Just to get us warmed up." He shot Klaus a smug grin.
"By all means, knock yourself out." Klaus said, gesturing in the air with his one free hand.
Tobin stared for a moment longer before speaking again. "When you were approached by the Salvatore Corp. in regards to the acquisition of one Knight Advertising Agency, were you aware said agency was a shell company?"
"I decline to answer." Klaus' voice came out smooth and his eye contact didn't so much as waver. Tobin was trying to get under his skin and Klaus refused to cower in silence.
"When you began selling stocks in the business 'Emilios' on behalf of Salvatore Corp., were you aware this was also a shell company? The very same shell company your firm had just helped them acquire."
"I decline to answer."
If Tobin was annoyed by Klaus' antics, he sure wasn't letting it show. He leaned further back in his chair as he continued questioning. "Do you deny being close personal friends with Stefan Salvatore, one half of Salvatore Corp.?"
"I decline to answer."
Tobin finally broke the staring contest to look down at his folder. "You currently employ one Tyler Lockwood. Were you aware of any criminal activity perpetrated by the aforementioned individual?"
"I decline to answer."
"Do you deny knowing your client, Salvatore Corp., was under financial strain?"
"I decline to answer."
They carried on like this for another ten minutes or so and Klaus was beginning to wonder where exactly his lawyer was.
Then suddenly Tobin stood up and strode over to the door. He whispered something to another man before turning and striding back to his seat. Tobin dropped into the metal chair and just waited. Two minutes later he glanced up into one corner of the room and he must have seen whatever sign he was waiting for because he smirked, fixing his full attention on Klaus again.
Tobin leaned forward on the table, clasping his hands together in front of him. All the smugness disappeared from his face and he fixed Klaus with a serious look. "The camera and mic is off."
Klaus arched an eyebrow. "Am I supposed to find that comforting?"
"No more bullshit Mikaelson." Tobin said, his eyes narrowing slightly. "I know you sold bad stock. You know you sold bad stock. And we both know any judge with a brain is going to see that you sold bad stock."
"If there's a point, I'm going to have to insist that you make it already." Klaus replied dryly.
"You know a prison sentence for stock manipulation can go anywhere from three years to ten." Tobin grinned. "You don't really seem like the prison yard type."
"I'm surprisingly adaptable." Klaus shot back.
Tobin held his hands out in front of him. "Maybe you don't have to be."
"I'm guessing you don't turn off the mics and cameras for just anyone," Klaus said, gesturing with one hand to the wall behind him where he assumed the camera was. "So why don't you tell me why I'm so special."
"I want to offer you a deal." Tobin said, sitting back in his seat.
"Well this just got interesting." Klaus said. If it was above board, Tobin could have offered him any deal on the record with both the camera and mic on. Klaus was waiting for him to reveal the reason behind the secrecy.
"Your firm currently represents a number of companies we at the SEC are very interested in."
Klaus kept his curiosity off his face but that didn't mean Tobin hadn't sparked his interest. During his intake interview Beth had mentioned 18 companies in his clientele were under investigation by the SEC or the IRS. He gestured for Tobin to continue.
"The SEC will drop the charges against you in exchange for your cooperation. You help us nail the 11 companies we're after, we let you walk scot free."
"And how exactly are you proposing I help you?" Klaus asked. "You've already audited my firm, seized my records. By now you would have combed through all eleven of those companies' financial books at least twice over." And as he said it, the pieces began to fall in place. Klaus didn't wait for Tobin to explain. "But you didn't find what you're looking for. No, because you need the real books." A lot of companies, especially the big ones and extra-specially the big ones up to no good, kept two sets of financial records. One set would be the financial books that they showed the world – the one where everything was nice, neat, and most importantly legal. Then there was the second set of financial books. The ones that told the truth. The ones that showed all the wire transfers from banks in Switzerland and the Caymans and all the money being laundered, embezzled, or god knew what else.
Tobin leaned forward on the table again as he spoke. "As an investment firm you have a better chance of getting access to those books, the real ones, than anyone else. These companies take their investments very seriously. They take their money very seriously. If you said there was a dire emergency, those CEOs would whip those real financial records out so fast it would make your head spin."
Klaus figured he was probably right. If he asked for them and gave a logical reason why, his clients probably would fork over their financials. Assuming they were even still his clients after this morning.
"If your grand plan was to get me to be your spy or mole or whatever, then perhaps arresting me in broad daylight at my own firm was not the best way to go. Those companies you're hell bent on catching, what makes you so sure they'll still be my clients after this." Klaus pointed out.
"The companies I'm after are the money hungry ones. They don't give a shit about your arrest or if you've been up to something illegal. All they care about are numbers. Your firm pulls some of the biggest investment returns in the city."
Klaus smirked. "Ah so it wasn't empty flattering when you said you knew all about me. Except, it turns out that you don't know me that well after all. Because if you did, you'd know I'd never even consider going for something like this."
Klaus had already run all the scenarios in his head and there was no way working for the SEC would end well for him. Not only would it permanently tarnish his reputation, but it would put him on the bad side of some very powerful people. He'd rather take his chances going to trial. No matter how incriminating the situation looked, the fact remained that he was innocent. He wasn't sticking his neck out for the SEC in order to drop some charges that he was innocent of anyway.
"Sorry, no dice." Klaus reiterated.
Tobin's face hardened as he leaned forward again. "I meant it when I said I knew all about you. And not just you – your type. Strip away all the veneers and you're all the same. Greedy, power hungry soul suckers. And every soul sucker can be bought." His lips curled into a harsh grin. "I offered the carrot. Now you get the stick."
"I'm positively petrified." Klaus shot back nonchalantly.
"Let's talk about Caroline Forbes shall we?"
Klaus froze in his chair and for the first time since he'd been put in this room, his mask of impassivity dropped. It was only for a moment before he pulled it back on. But it was too late. Tobin had seen him take the bait.
"So I'm guessing you two are an office thing." Tobin didn't bother waiting for confirmation, he already knew. "Anyways, I had her looked into. Just because I like to do my homework and come prepared. According to my buddy over at the IRS, looks like your girl's guilty of a bit of tax evasion."
Klaus feigned a relaxed pose in his chair. "And why exactly should I believe this conveniently placed crime?"
"Oh it's real." Tobin said nodding. "When she worked for her last employer, a Lynda Cabell, Caroline was making an untaxed income. Now see that means it's her responsibility to go out and pay her taxes like a good citizen since the state isn't detracting it directly from her checks. I'm sure it's not her fault. No one ever sets out to commit tax evasion. And yet it's surprisingly common. Normally the IRS doesn't even bother going after tax evaders who fall under a certain economic level but I'm thinking in Caroline's case they'll be willing to make an exception."
Klaus kept his body tense and his mouth clamped shut.
"Do you know what happens next? She gets buried under fine after fine after fine, and of course there's still the backdated taxes that need paying. Then she crumbles deeper into debt, of which she has more than enough of already by the way. Her mom loses the house, the car. It's all very sad." Tobin didn't stop there. "But wait, imagine she wakes up one day and finds out all of this could have been avoided if you had just protected her. All of this is your fault. If it wasn't for you, Caroline would have flown under the IRS' radar like everyone else who doesn't remember to file taxes and aren't rich enough to matter. And she will find out. Namely because I will tell her. If for no other reason than to spite you." Tobin grinned that smug grin again. "But that's all behind door number one. Behind door number two, you cooperate with the SEC."
"So this is how you play it?" Klaus asked, not bothering to hide the rage in his voice anymore. "You sit there and complain about us filthy Wall Street criminals but when it comes time for you to do your job, you're willing to drag an innocent woman down just to get your way. All that indignant rage and here you are, rolling in the mud and filth with the rest of us."
Tobin narrowed his eyes as he spoke. "If that's what it takes to nail you bastards to the wall then yes, I will fight dirty."
Klaus was opening his mouth to speak when the door to the room burst open. A woman in her early forties, dressed in a fitted suit, marched in.
"Excuse me Agent…" The woman waited for Tobin to speak.
"Tobin. Jim Tobin."
"Great. Excuse me Agent Tobin. My name's Sonya Nelson. I'm Mr. Mikaelson's counsel and I'll like a moment alone with my client now."
Tobin threw Klaus a final look before standing up and exiting the room.
Sonya took the seat across from Klaus and lowered her briefcase.
"What took you so long to get here? I don't pay that exorbitant retainer's fee to your firm for a lawyer who can't be bothered to get here faster."
Sonya shot him a stern look from across the table. "I spent the last hour pulling strings in courthouses all over the city to get your arraignment moved up to 4:00 today so that you wouldn't have to spend the night in a filthy jail cell. And for the record, that's the kind of thing you pay my firm exorbitant retainer fees for."
Before Klaus could say anything she continued. Her voice cold and calculating.
"Now I'm going to explain to you how this is going to work, Mr. Mikaelson. In just a few hours, we're going to your arraignment hearing. You're going to enter a plea of not guilty. Then we'll set the conditions for bail. You're not a flight risk and you're not a previous offender so there shouldn't be any trouble getting bail granted. Do you have someone on standby to post bail?" Klaus nodded a yes and Sonya continued before he could open his mouth. "After that we'll set a trial date. If we're lucky, we'll get a date 60 days out and that'll give us some time to prepare. If we're not lucky we could be looking at a trial that starts a lot sooner. That's it, we're out of there, you get to go home and get a good night's sleep then tomorrow you come into my office and you tell me everything." She fixed him with a piercing stare. "And I do mean everything, Mr. Mikaelson. I don't like skeletons in closets and I don't like surprises."
Sounded a bit like she already thought he was guilty. Well she'd be in for a pleasant surprise.
Klaus stared back at the woman for a long moment before he finally broke the silence.
"Well I, for one, can't wait to get started."
so, what are we thinking?