8 months later…
"Hey Caroline." Stefan Salvatore offered her a warm, shiny grin as he opened the door to his apartment and welcomed her inside.
"Hey Stefan," she said as she walked past the threshold and inside. "How's it going?"
"Good," he replied, "Lexi's still getting dressed. Can I get you a drink?"
"Sure," she replied, following him down the hall and toward the kitchen.
Caroline always loved coming over to Stefan and Lexi's place. It was exactly the type of apartment she hoped to be moving into very soon. Newly renovated with hardwood floors, two bedrooms, a spacious interior, and a private balcony over looking Michigan Avenue. It was the perfect place. They entered the kitchen, and Caroline set her clutch bag down on the granite island, as Stefan pulled out a bottle of wine. She removed her denim jacket, smoothing out her dress, and hung it on the back of one of the bar stools.
"Here," Stefan said, "Lexi has already cracked this one open tonight." He poured the red liquid and into the glass and passed it to Caroline. She sipped, tentatively, still not being a big fan of red wines. But, since moving to Chicago, she had been all about acquiring new tastes.
Behind them was the great room, the flat screened TV turned on in the background. Caroline could see an Xbox and two game controllers left out on top of the coffee table. She grinned. Stefan was a full-grown man, about to be a doctor, but he would always be a teenage boy at heart. Down the hall, Caroline saw the streak of Lexi's pale blonde hair whip past as she darted from the bathroom towards the master bedroom.
"Hey Care! Just give me ten minutes!" The woman shouted from the bedroom. Caroline laughed and looked at Stefan.
"If I had a nickel for every time Lexi said 'just ten minutes…'
"You could buy the Trump Tower," Stefan finished. "So what is the band you are going to see tonight?"
"Lovedrug." Caroline replied. "I listened to them today while I was working on that piece for The Reader. They sound good."
Lexi Branson, Stefan's girlfriend, was also a journalist and a big music fan. She covered concerts, albums releases, anything and everything to do with music in Chicago for a various number of newspapers. She also had her own blog dedicated to writing and recommending new artists and talent. With her job came many perks, and one of them was free concert tickets, so Caroline was accompanying her to see a new band that night at the Vic; a small concert venue on the Northside.
"They're amazing," Lexi said joining them in the kitchen, glass of wine in her hand, "too bad you will be missing out." She directed the last at Stefan.
Lexi was tall, with long straight blonde hair and a friendly face. Stefan had introduced her to Caroline not long after she had moved and they had become fast friends. She had grown up in the suburbs of Chicago, only leaving for a few years to attend school in New York, before deciding that her true home was in the second city. Lexi and Stefan met by chance one night at a Bon Jovi show and bonded over their love of 80s music.
"Far be it from me to encroach on girl bonding night," he replied, giving her a kiss as she slipped her arm around his waist.
Caroline smiled at the two of them. "Gross," she said, "get a room."
Lexi wrinkled her nose at Caroline while Stefan chuckled beside her. Caroline absolutely loved Lexi. She was fun and smart and one of the nicest people she had ever met. She could see why Stefan was so smitten with her and why they made such a good couple. Stefan had always been a quiet and serious guy in high school, and was still that way, so Lexi was the perfect contrast to his personality. The romantic in Caroline loved to see opposites attracted to one another. It reminded her of her own brush with a similar experience.
"Up next," the announcer on the TV said, "we have an exclusive chat with Niklaus Mikaelson, about his new movie, and his transformation from playboy bachelor to serious actor so stay tuned."
At the sound of the name, Caroline looked over his shoulder. She saw the clip of the interview-Klaus smiling and talking to the interviewer—before it cut to the commercial. He looked excited and happy about whatever he was saying in the clip. Without lingering over it to long, she turned her attention back to Stefan and Lexi, who were staring at her. Twin looks of concern on both their faces. Caroline rolled her eyes and attempted to be nonchalant.
"What?" She said taking a large sip of wine. "It's not like I haven't seen him a billion times on TV since we broke up. It's been eight months."
"Yeah but…" Stefan let the sentence trail off.
Caroline knew what he was thinking. Yeah but you cried every night for the first two months. Yeah but you barely talk to your best friend anymore so you don't have to risk thinking about him. Yeah but you haven't even dated anyone since then. Yeah but you still sometimes turn over magazines you see in supermarkets with his face on them.
"But…we're going to be late if we don't leave like, now," Lexi said jumping in. She gave Stefan a meaningful pat on his shoulder and left to grab her purse and jacket.
"Sorry Care," Stefan offered, "I just worry."
"I know Stefan, it's okay." She replied.
Honestly though, she was okay. Maybe she hadn't dated in a long time, which was weird because Caroline had always been a serial monogamist. But a girl couldn't always be attached to a guy. She was concentrating on her thriving writing career now and trying to move out on her own. She didn't have much time for boyfriends or dating. There had been a few sparse dates here and there, but none that ever led to a second. Either there weren't any sparks or the guy was too freaked out by the fact that she was Niklaus Mikaelson's ex to get past it.
Thankfully, the latter hadn't been too much of a problem. The media did seem to get bored with her rather quickly and moved on to terrorize other famous couples and celebrities. Every now and again, she would meet some press person at an event who would attempt to get an interview out of her about Klaus. A couple publishing houses had contacted her about writing "tell-all" books. But she declined them all, more than happy to put that part of her life behind her.
Giving Stefan a kiss goodbye, Lexi grabbed Caroline and went downstairs to walk toward the train.
"Those are awesome boots by the way," Lexi said gesturing toward the new, heeled leather boots Caroline was wearing as she strutted down the sidewalk.
"Thanks," she replied, "had to dip into the apartment fund to get them, but I couldn't resist."
"How's the house hunt going?" Lexi asked.
"Fine," Caroline said, "my dad isn't ready for me to move out, but I think he likes having me around since he didn't really get to grow up with me in the house."
"Yeah. But I'm ready for the next step. I've got a great job, I get to travel, now I want a place of my own."
"Well good for you Miss Independent," Lexi winked.
The two women handed over their tickets and walked into the venue. It was a smaller and intimate concert theatre. Caroline had become accustomed to these types of shows now that she hung out with Lexi. In high school, she and Elena and Bonnie had gone to see their favorite pop bands perform in huge arenas where you could barely see the musicians'' faces. She had definitely come to love the smaller crowd shows a lot more. It almost reminded her of the few times she had seen Klaus preform in Europe.
Backstage, they could hear the band still tuning up and getting ready for their show. The crowd mingled around, sipping beer and chatting loudly as they waited. Caroline and Lexi had passes to the balcony over looking the stage and they ventured upstairs to their seats. Once they found their spot, Lexi excused herself, heading back to the bar to grab them a couple of beers, leaving Caroline to look around.
She was familiar with the old style of the theatre. The large, old walls were a rich blue color, trimmed with fake gold crown molding. Fancy gold reliefs of angels and faces stared out at the concert crowd and private boxes lined the left and right of the stage. It looked like an old world opera house to Caroline. Many of the seats around her were filled up; the general admission crowed standing below in front of the stage was heavy too. Even though Caroline had never heard of the band before Lexi mentioned them, the must have been popular to draw this much attention.
Her eyes were passing over the people in the private boxes when she stopped, and noticed someone staring. Her heart skipped a beat and her breath caught in her throat as she made eye contact with Klaus, whose gaze was set directly on her. She blinked, wondering if her mind was playing tricks on her. Maybe it was just someone who looked like him and she only thought she was seeing him because she had been thinking about him so much that night. But as his lip curved into a tiny smirk, she knew it was actually Klaus she was seeing across the balcony. The one and only.
"Hey," Lexi said drawing her attention away. Caroline looked over at her friend and accepted the cup of beer she was passing toward her. Lexi noticed her odd expression and became concerned. "Everything okay? You look like you saw a ghost."
"Yeah," Caroline said, "I just-. A guitar chord was struck and the band started playing, cutting off any further explanation for her sudden change in mood.
Caroline eyes focused on the band and the show, but they could have been playing nursery rhymes for all she knew. Her mind was on the box kitty corner from her balcony seat, and the man in it. Everyone around her was dancing to the music and singing along, but it felt like no one else was in the room. She didn't dare look over at him again to check if he was still looking at her. The only glance she spared in his direction happened when the band finished playing and the show ended. She looked over at the box and saw that Klaus was gone.
"What'd you think?" Lexi asked turning to Caroline.
She forced a smile, feeling guilty that she hadn't been paying attention to the band during their set. "They were amazing. You were right."
"I always am," Lexi smiled, turning and heading toward the stairs.
Caroline followed her, feeling dejected. Her first real glimpse of Klaus in months and that was it? It had been so surprising, so unexpected…of all the places to see him. She hadn't even realized how excited it made her feel until after she got over the initial shock. They reached the lobby and Lexi turned toward her.
"So do you wanna split a cab or…"
She heard his familiar accent calling her name. With a deep breath she turned in his direction. Why was she being so dramatic? It was Klaus after all. It shouldn't be that big of a deal. She was over him and their relationship. She had moved on and so had he. Eight months was a long time. There was no reason that she needed to be so crazy about seeing him. Talking to him. It would be nothing.
"Klaus," she returned brightly as he approached them, "I thought I saw you during the show."
Klaus stopped in front of her, a smile on his face. "I saw you as well."
Caroline couldn't help the way her stomach was doing flip-flops at the sight of his dimples. She hated it. Quickly, she grabbed Lexi's arm. "This is my friend, Lexi Branson," she said introducing them, "Lexi, this is Niklaus Mikaelson."
Caroline didn't know how to introduce him, oddly enough. She knew that to the rest of the world he was Niklaus, but to her he had always just been Klaus.
"Klaus, please," he said taking Lexi's hand.
"Klaus. You look familiar…have we met before?"
Caroline laughed, as did Klaus. Leave it to Lexi to fill an awkward moment with a joke.
"I'm about to head out for drinks," Klaus said, "would you both care to join me?"
"We were actually heading home," Lexi said stepping in. Caroline knew she was trying to be a good friend and save Caroline from any further unwanted interaction with him. She didn't know whether to be grateful or annoyed by her efforts.
"Allow me to give you a ride then," Klaus said, "I have a town car waiting."
Caroline didn't answer, choosing to let Lexi make the decision. After a moment's consideration, Lexi accepted and the two of them followed Klaus out to the street, where he was meeting his car. It was small and black. Caroline didn't have time to fret over the seating arrangement as the driver opened the door and Lexi pushed her in, sliding over next to so that she was between her and Klaus. He asked where they were going and Lexi gave the driver her address.
Caroline was silent for most of the ride. Lexi filled the time with small talk, saving her from having to think of things to say.
"So Klaus, what brings you to our humble city? Big Lovedrug fan?"
Klaus chuckled. "No," he replied, "not yet anyways. I'm starting a small indie record company. They're one of the bands I'm thinking of signing."
"You're starting your own company?" Caroline asked, surprised.
The amusement left Klaus's face and he locked eyes with Caroline across the car.
"That's interesting," Lexi interjected, "do you have any other bands signed?"
Klaus was polite and returned Lexi's questions with courteous questions of his own, making a few comments about her interest in music. It was a change, Caroline recognized. Klaus had never been a fan of small talk and had never cared much about being polite or getting to know anyone. And a record company? His own company? Where the hell had that come from? The car lurched to a stop next to the curb.
"This is us," Lexi announced as the driver opened the door. Klaus got out and stood on the sidewalk. Lexi slid out of the car and Caroline scooted after her, so she wasn't opening the door into traffic. "Thanks for the ride."
Caroline stopped for a moment, still sitting down. Her sensible side was telling her that what she was about to do was probably useless and stupid. But the other side of her was telling her that she should take a chance. It was funny that that side's voice in her head often sounded like Klaus. "Lex, I think I'm just gonna head home."
"I can take you," Klaus said before she had a chance to get up.
Caroline's eyes darted to his, missing the look Lexi passed the two of them.
"Okay," her friend conceded, "um, text me when you get home."
Caroline moved back into her original spot and Klaus got in and shut the door. A tense silence fell over the car as it pulled back into traffic. A couple moments passed before the driver requested Caroline's destination and she gave him her dad's address.
"Sorry I live back the way we came," Caroline said, "I should have just had him drop me off first."
Klaus put up a hand. "It's not a problem. Are you still staying with your father?"
"Yeah," she replied, "but I've been apartment shopping. Hoping to move within the next few weeks."
"Mhmm," Caroline nodded. They were silent again. Caroline looked out the window as the car drove over the bridge, across the Chicago River. The city lights reflected on the choppy water, flashing orange and purple and white. She let out a laugh. "Why is this so weird?"
Klaus smiled at her, not denying her point. "You tell me."
"It's been months," she said, "there's no reason why we can't talk like two normal people."
"I'm a world famous musician/actor," Klaus said, "we both know I've never been a normal person, love."
"Well glad to see you haven't lost your trademark humility." They both laughed, and Caroline felt relieved that the awkward tension seemed to deflate a bit. Her heart warmed at his genuine smile. It was one of the things she missed about him. Seeing it on TV earlier had been one thing, but seeing it up close and in person was better. "So you're starting a record company?"
"I've started it actually," Klaus explained, "just a small venture. It seemed like a logical step in my music career."
"I thought you never liked music," Caroline inquired.
"I don't like making music. But I suppose most of that had to do with Mikael and being forced into it." Klaus said, "But I do enjoy the business side of the industry. And running my own company allows me to cut Elijah loose."
"Cut him loose?" Caroline tilted her head. "Are you two not getting along?"
"It isn't that," Klaus sighed. "It's time for Elijah to move on. To be my brother, and his own man, instead of my guardian and gate keeper."
She nodded, and offered him an encouraging smile. Their hands rested on the leather seat, mere inches from one another. Caroline became aware of how close they were to touching and pulled her hand toward her lap.
"You've been well?" Klaus asked. "Happy?"
"Yeah," Caroline smiled, "you know, being in the city, writing, it's been great." Her eyes flicked over his face. "What about you?"
Klaus gave her one of his cocky smirks. "Oh, you know me," he answered cryptically.
A short while later, the car stopped on the street in front of Caroline's dad's home. Klaus got out of the car and walked around to open the door for her, instructing the driver to wait for him as he walked her to her front door. They stood on her father's porch; Caroline pushed a piece of hair behind her ear.
"My dad and Stephen went on a weekend trip," Caroline rambled, "Stephen's been gone for almost six weeks in South America and now has like, two weeks off so they wanted some alone time to catch up and spend together."
Klaus nodded. "Are you sure you don't want to come for a drink? Just one?"
It was tempting, but Caroline shook her head. "No. I'm supposed to go out to brunch with some friends from the magazine tomorrow morning. I should get to bed."
Klaus took a step back, and watched her take her keys out of her purse and unlock her front door. She turned back to him and as she stepped inside.
"It was really nice to see you, in person," she said, "I'm really glad you're doing well."
Klaus pressed his lips together. "You as well Caroline."
He backed away and Caroline went inside. Closing the door and falling back against it. She banged her head back against the wood.
"Stupid," she muttered, closing her eyes in attempt to force down the feeling of regret rising up in her chest. Leaning against the door, she tossed her purse over to the table and dragged her hands down her face. What had she even been expecting?
A loud knock at the door startled her and she spun around.
"Caroline." She heard Klaus's voice on the other side of the door. "Open up."
Tentatively, she opened the door and saw Klaus standing there once again. His eyes were wide and serious and he licked his lips, preparing himself to say something big.
"Why what?" She asked, confused.
"Why did you leave everything so unresolved at the airport? Why did you leave?"
Caroline turned her face away, taking a deep breath. "Because," she said, "because we both needed to be on our own. You had issues and I had was dealing with stuff and we could never get on the same page with one another. Both of us were always jumping to conclusions and disappointing each other. If we let it go on any longer, it would have just hurt more in the end."
Klaus nodded, his lips pursed. "You're lying."
"You're lying," Klaus repeated, "you left because you were scared. And I hurt you and let you go because I was." He spoke slowly, each word difficult for him to get out. Klaus wasn't the type of man who made long heart felt speeches or wore his heart on his sleeve. Caroline brought it out in him. "I've been miserable without you. Every time something good happens Caroline, you're the first person I think of. Every time I do something stupid, it's your voice I hear in my head. Not a day has gone by in the last eight months, two weeks, and four days that I haven't woken up and gone to sleep thinking about you."
Caroline hoped it was dark enough in the doorway that he couldn't see the tears in her eyes. Her arms hugged her torso and she shrugged, not knowing what she was supposed to say.
"You said you didn't love me." Her voice broke. She couldn't help it. It was the one memory she had, that eclipsed all of the good ones. The words had been the most painful for her to hear.
"I lied," Klaus said, "of all the horrible things I've done. Telling you I didn't love you was the worst."
Her jaw ticked back and forth; as she fought against letting herself cry. She didn't know if any of it should even make a difference. There were still too many things holding them back. The fame, the distance, all those obstacles from before still existed. They were two stubborn people, with separate lives that they would never give up. It would just be another trip down a bumpy road of heartbreak that she barely made it through the first time.
"Is there someone else?" Klaus asked when she didn't say anything.
She paused for a moment, before shaking her head. "No."
"Good," Klaus replied, "I wanted to be sure before I did this."
Caroline opened her mouth but her words were crushed as Klaus lips collided with hers. The kiss was something old and something new. He still kissed her with the same passion and demand she remembered that made her body tingle and her heart cry out. Klaus was different though. He wasn't the same selfish, devil-may-care man that she had met almost a year ago. The way he spoke, carried himself, acted, and looked all reflected the changed man he had become. He was still arrogant as hell, and impulsive, but he had become someone new.
Klaus's lips moved over Caroline's and her arms wrapped around his neck. He pulled her up and held her tight against his body, enjoying the feeling of having her pressed so close. After some minutes, Klaus pulled away, nipping a few extra kisses from her lips. She hadn't noticed, but a few rouge tears had escaped from her eyes.
"So what now?" She asked. "We just repeat history? Until I can't handle the fame or you can't handle the distance?
"You never seemed to care about those things before," Klaus said.
"Maybe I should have."
"Caroline," he said brushing back her hair and forcing her eyes to meet his, "I'll repeat history twenty times over if I have to. I will chase after you as many times as it takes. I have no interest in ever loving anyone else. I don't want you to love anyone else." Klaus smirked. "I will ruin your life Caroline Forbes and build it back up again, because I'm a selfish bastard who loves you too much and I will never let you go."
Caroline let out a half laugh, half sniffle, her eyes flicking away momentarily. "That sounds…creepily possessive."
Klaus chuckled, his thumbs wiping at her tears. "Well, you know me."
"Yeah," Caroline replied with a smile, " I do."
Well, that's all she wrote folks!
p.s. Lovedrug is an actual band...they been around forever and are one of my FAVES, so if you don't know them, give them a listen! Pink Champagne is one of my fave songs!
Hope you guys enjoyed the story! Thank you so so so much for the reviews and messages and love while reading! Every single word means so much to me and I am sending you all virtual hugs and kisses xoxo
Special thanks to my lovely beta, Kady aka Klausykins! She is a fantastic beta and writer and you should go read her stuff if you haven't! Love you my tumblr husband, thanks for keeping me motivated on this one ;)
I really hope you guys enjoyed this ending. I am not usually one for the usual wrap up marriage and babies and such. Of course I believe these two are OTP, but I'll leave it to your wonderful imaginations as to where they end up :)
You guys are my favorite and I hope you'll be with me for my next fic. And the one after that...and the one after that...and the one after...
visit me in the meantime on tumblr at hybridlovelies