A/N: Yes, yes I'm a horrible person who continually yanks you guys around on chains. I apologize oh so very much, because I really do love this fic and those of you who love it, too, inspire me like no other. I'm sorry I've kept you all waiting so long. It's not much, but I think you'll like it (;
I'd like to thank Erica, MidnightAngel30, for beta-ing this chapter.
Please stay tuned at the end of the chapter for more Author's Notes!
"I'm studying," came the disgruntled reply. Andrew was studying, evident by his hunched shoulders and the mess of highlighters on his desk. His desk lamp was on, since the sun was setting and the rest of the room was still dark. Henrik was too lazy to go turn the light on. "You should study too."
"I did, I'm done."
"How can you be done studying?" Andrew asked, tempted to swivel around in his chair and fix Henrik with an incredulous look. On second thought, though, did he really care?
"I'm good at school, it's my thing," Henrik said as he stared up at the ceiling, throwing a ball in the air.
"Everyone's good at school, dude, that's why we're here. The trick is to stay 'good at school' or else no money."
No money, Henrik laughed to himself. When had he ever had to worry about money?
When had he ever really had to worry about anything?
As a kid, his parents had taken care of everything. After they'd passed, Klaus had taken care of him, giving him everything that he could have possibly asked for. Then the Tatia fiasco had happened, and while life with her in it had involved some of the best times that he could remember, Klaus' behavior had changed after that. Henrik had become so protected after. It was almost as if Klaus had tried, and succeeded in, overcompensating for the loss in Henrik's life.
The eighteen-year-old seriously wondered how he was this well-adjusted. He didn't have much to worry about, except school, which he'd always taken seriously. His parents may have been gone, but it didn't mean that he had nothing else to live for, nothing else to do. Henrik had decided at a young age that he was going to make them proud, no matter what.
He just didn't know if he was. He didn't know how he could have been.
What did he really do in his life except study? He didn't have too many friends here in New York, just the handful of people he'd met around campus and actually talked to. He'd taken Katherine's advice and struck up a tentative friendship with Andrew, though, and that seemed to be going well.
"Why'd you choose Columbia?"
"What?" Andrew finally put his highlighter down and swiveled in his desk chair to face his roommate. Glasses askew, he pushed them up his nose to look at Henrik properly. "It was close to home," Andrew shrugged. "They gave me an academic scholarship."
"You needed a scholarship?" Henrik frowned. He'd been laying flat on his bed, knees hanging over the edge to touch the floor, but now he sat up to meet Andrew's gaze. "I mean, not like that but-"
Andrew raised his eyebrows. "I know what you meant. And yeah, kind of," he said slowly. He seemed reluctant to say more on the subject. Understandable, considering how tentative their friendship was. Still, his roommate seemed like a nice guy, and Henrik figured that if he couldn't even make a friend out of someone like Andrew, then what was the point?
"I'm not gonna- I mean- You can talk about it, I won't judge."
"Right," Andrew replied warily, nodding his head slightly. "You have siblings, right?"
"Yep, five," Henrik counted them off. "Finn, Elijah, Klaus, Kol, Rebekah."
"And they're all a lot older than you, yeah?"
Henrik shrugged. "I was kind of the accident."
His roommate laughed. "My parents didn't really do accidents." Henrik frowned at the implication.
"I have three younger siblings," Andrew continued. "Saving the money helped a lot. That's why I worked through high school. My dad's a teacher at my old private school, so tuition was free for me. It's free for my siblings, too, but I figured just in case my grades weren't good enough, it was a probably a good idea to save for tuition."
"So, you worked through high school?"
"Yeah, I had a steady job."
"How'd you get hired?"
Andrew stared at him. "I applied."
"And you can just- You can just go out and apply anywhere?" Henrik asked curiously. "Just walk in and ask for an application and they'll take you?"
"No," the other teenager replied. "Why the fuck would they just take you?"
Henrik shrugged. "I've never really done this before, I don't know how it works."
Andrew exhaled, taking one last look at the work on his desk before rolling his chair closer to Henrik's bed. "They're not going to just hire you, dude. You have to go through the interview process and shit like that, but- Why are you even asking? You don't really seem like you need a job."
Henrik ducked his head. They weren't close enough to actually discuss, in-depth, the stupid existentialist crisis he was having. Besides, how do you tell someone hardworking like Andrew he needed a job because he felt like he wasn't doing anything in his life? His roommate was someone who had worked hard all his life because he needed it. Henrik didn't need Andrew to think of him as a brat, one of those rich boys who only did things for reputation.
Then again, Andrew did have experience. Besides, if they were going to be friends, Henrik needed to be honest. This wasn't a huge problem, so it wasn't like he was asking too much of Andrew, anyway, and it wasn't like his roommate didn't know how to help him.
"Are you looking for a job?" Andrew asked, breaking Henrik from his thoughts. "The Community Food&Juice off-campus is hiring."
Henrik looked up, blinking rapidly. That seemed like the first piece of good news he'd heard since his fight with Klaus, and the pit in his stomach started to loosen up. He'd been feeling like throwing up all weekend. That was what happened when he fought with Klaus, when his brother made him feel like he was a disappointment. Maybe he hadn't worked all his life or had to struggle with the things that his siblings had, but that was going to change. He needed to change.
He needed to grow up.
Henrik was going to do something with his life, and he was going to prove Klaus wrong.
Even if it was just some stupid job at an off-campus restaurant.
Andrew shrugged at him. "Sure. Everyone has to start somewhere, right?"
"Okay, we should go."
"Great." Andrew rolled the chair back over to his desk and stood up, moving around the room to grab his wallet, a jacket, and his keys. He was at the door when he turned back to look at Henrik, who was still sitting on the bed, stress ball in hand. "Dude," Andrew motioned his head towards the door. "Let's go."
"Uh, yeah, you have to actually do it, you know? Talking about it isn't going to do anything."
"Can't we go tomorrow morning or something?"
Andrew sighed and pushed his glasses up before running his hands through his hair. He pulled his hand away from the door handle and crossed both arms across his chest, staring at Henrik expectantly. "Are you gonna move?"
"Yeah," Henrik said, getting up from his bed, grabbing the jacket hanging on the back of his chair. He tried to stamp down the nerves in his stomach to no avail. "Yeah, we're doing this."
And so they went.
Klaus blinked at the empty whiskey glass in front of him. It was accompanied by a half-full bottle of Jack Daniels Black Label, which had been full two hours ago.
He felt like shit, but that had little to do with the alcohol itself and more to do with his fight with Henrik. Of all his siblings, Henrik was closest to him. He'd raised the boy, cared for him, trusted his brother, and now the teenager was going off shooting his mouth to people he shouldn't even be talking to.
He couldn't even imagine what was going through Henrik's mind right now. He'd treated the teenager harshly, but he couldn't bring himself to feel even the slightest bit of regret. Henrik had been pampered long enough. Klaus had made sure of that. His brother had grown up with all the finest things, lived in a nice neighborhood, gone to the best possible school... He'd been showered in affection, too, by all of his siblings.
Henrik might not have had his parents, but they'd damn well tried to make sure he knew that he had them.
Now, though, that couldn't be enough. Henrik needed to use his brain, use common sense. He needed to start acting like an adult and wisen up.
Klaus remembered a time when he didn't have to worry about Henrik, when the kid wasn't his responsibility. He'd been relatively carefree back then. No cheating wife, no dead parents, no one trying to force him to spill his guts to a far too-intelligent blonde that he wasn't entirely comfortable with.
He sighed, leaning back into the black leather couch, throwing one arm over the back.
Telling Caroline about Tatia, that was what he'd promised to do in his next session. His wife... When he thought of her, all he felt was pain. She'd betrayed him, in the worst possible way. He had chosen her to share his life with. Tatia, with all her grace, wit, and charm. She'd been his wife, his life, and she had torn him apart with barely a look.
They'd met because of Henrik. Klaus remembered like it was yesterday.
"Can I have some coffee this time, Nik?" Henrik asked as they made their way to the nearest Pret A Manger. "I think I'm old enough now."
Nik laughed at his eleven-year-old brother. The boy didn't even reach his shoulder yet, there was no way he was going to give Henrik caffeine. He'd heard somewhere that it stunted growth, and even if it didn't, Nik didn't need to go carting a hyper-active child all around London. "Absolutely not," he replied firmly, pulling open the door.
Behind them, Trafalgar Square was a flurry of activity, and Henrik looked through the glass walls at the double-decker buses and and cabs on the road. "Dad said he was going to take Mum and me around London, one day. Show it to us like all the tourists saw it."
"What do you want to do that for?" Nik asked, putting one hand on his brother's shoulder and steering him towards the refrigerated shelves. "Pick a sandwich."
"I want a coffee," Henrik protested. "Just once, please?"
Nik sighed and ran a hand through his hair. "How about we order one coffee and get two cups. You're not going to like it, and I'm going to end up finishing the rest."
His brother visibly brightened. "Really?"
"Half a glass."
Henrik smiled at him brightly, turned to grab a tuna sandwich boxed triangle off the shelf, and then went deeper into the store, towards the cashier's counter. Nik pulled out his phone and sighed at the missed calls from Finn before shoving it back in his pocket. By the time he reached the counter with his own sandwich in hand, Henrik was already being handed his coffee.
His brother tried to hold everything at once, his sandwich, a packet of cookies that he'd picked up, and the cup of coffee. Before Nik could so much as hand Henrik a lid for his coffee, the eleven-year-old stepped forward, tripped over his own feet, and then spilled half the coffee onto the woman in front of him. The cup of tea she'd had in her hands fell to the floor, too, but the liquid spilled away from them and the counter.
"Oh fuck," Nik exclaimed, "I'm so sorry."
"No, no," she said, exhaling slowly. "It's just that was really hot. Shit."
"I didn't mean to do that," Henrik said hurriedly. "I really- I didn't mean- I tripped, I haven't done that in six months. Stupid, stupid, stupid."
"It's okay," the woman said kindly. "These kinds of things happen all the time."
"Do they really?" Nik asked, one eyebrow raised.
The woman held back a smile as Henrik went to go get her napkins. "No," she said finally. "But your son feels really bad, I can tell, and I didn't want to make it worse for him."
"He's not my son," Nik said, gaze moving from Henrik to the woman in front of him. She was gorgeous, he noticed. Long, brown curls falling forward; kind, brown eyes; lips that he had the sudden urge to kiss. "He's my youngest brother."
"How cute," she said, letting the smile out full force. If the coffee had burned her, she didn't show any signs of pain. "I'm Tatia, by the way. Tatia Petrova."
"Niklaus Mikaelson," Nik grinned, holding his hands out. As his younger brother re-approached them, he continued. "That's Henrik. Henrik, this is Tatia."
"It's a pleasure to meet you, Henrik," Tatia said to the boy.
"I'm sorry about your dress," he told her sullenly. "I didn't mean to do it."
"Quite alright," she told Henrik, turning to Nik. "How about your brother buys me another cup of tea and we can sit and chat for a while?"
It felt odd to think about being happy with Tatia, after having been mad at her for so long. He'd mainly ignored thinking about the good times. They hurt too much. Klaus had been taken with her from the start. She'd been nice to Henrik, for starters, and he knew, from experience, how painful it was to have scalding hot coffee spilled all over you.
He had bought her that coffee, and true to her word, they'd sat and chatted for he couldn't even remember how long. What he did remember, though, was that the first words out of Henrik's mouth when they got home were, "Nik, I think you should fall in love with her."
That wanker. Henrik had been a romantic since birth. Klaus ran a hand through his hair, not realizing that there was an actual smile pulling at his lips. Tatia. She'd changed his life.
Was he ready to talk about it, though? On a conscious level, he knew he had to, but it had taken him so long just to stop repressing the happy memories. It didn't matter if he was alone at home or sitting in Caroline's office, the topic of his late wife left a bad taste in his mouth. He wasn't ready to talk about Tatia.
Still, he'd promised Caroline. The blonde was just doing her job, and he'd made things difficult enough for her. He'd told her he'd try, and that, he decided, was what he would do. It wasn't that he didn't trust her, specifically, but...
Klaus was pulled from his thoughts by a knock on the door. He stood up, disoriented, and shook his head before making his way over to the door. When he opened it, he found his sister.
"Rebekah," he greeted.
She launched herself into his arms, and he let go of the doorknob, awkwardly wrapping his arms around her.
They weren't really a hugging family. He and Rebekah were close enough, but this was unexpected.
"Is something wrong?"
"Everything is," she said quietly, turning her head to press a kiss to his cheek. "Can I stay here with you tonight? I don't want to go home to Stefan."
"Er, alright," Klaus agreed. The things he said when he was drunk, honestly.
"Thank you, Nik," Rebekah said, pressing a kiss to his cheek. She pulled away, wrinkling her nose. "Have you been drinking?"
"So what if I have?"
"Nothing, never mind," his sister shook her head. "Are you going to invite me inside?"
"Didn't realize you needed to be invited."
Rebekah talked for half an hour before Klaus decided he couldn't pretend to care any longer. She'd ranted about Stefan and their relationship, something about work, if he recalled correctly, and just how generally frustrated she was with her life. He understood the sentiment, he supposed- frustration with life came easily to him- but Rebekah had some good things going. Why didn't she see that?
Before he could point any of that out to his sister, his phone rang, the shrill noise ringing through the room. Bekah glanced at the vibrating object on the glass coffee table, craning her neck to see the display once she noticed that Klaus hadn't made any effort to pick it up. "It's Henrik," she said, picking it up and holding it out to him. "Probably something important."
"Doubt it," Klaus replied, standing up and wiping his hands on his pants, not knowing what else to do with them. "He's probably drunk and out with friends, I think it's a better idea if I don't pick up. It'd save him the embarrassment."
His sister cocked an eyebrow at him. Klaus turned away from her, but he could already tell that she was abandoning her own problems for his. It was unfortunate, but Rebekah was like most women- she was amazingly perceptive when he didn't want her to be.
"Have you ever ignored Henrik's calls? Ever?"
"Countless times," he replied. "Besides, I'm here with you, to answer it would be rude."
"Since when have you been worried about being rude to me, Nik? I'm like...your last priority."
"No, don't try to deny it. It's alright, you had a young child to raise, a dead wife to grieve, et cetera. My problems were- are- the least of your worries. I suddenly can't remember why I came tonight." Rebekah rolled her eyes, looking down at his phone in her hand. It was still ringing. Henrik, it seemed, was being persistent tonight. "You should probably answer it, lest he joins the ranks of the rest of your siblings and starts to think you don't have time for his problems, either. That would be horrible for you, considering how you've built your life around him and all."
"Bekah-" Klaus started, reaching out to her. She shrugged his hand off her shoulder and started walking toward the front door, hitching her purse higher up on her shoulder. "I'm-" What? Sorry? The apology got stuck in his throat as his only sister shook her head at him before stepping into the hallway.
"No you're not, Nik," she said softly. "Call him back, he's our darling baby brother."
"I'm not taking orders from you."
"Do what you like," Rebekah said. "I'm going back home to Stefan. He'll clearly be more interested in what I have to say than you."
He sighed when she closed the door behind him, making his way back to the living room and collapsing into one of the leather seats. When the phone started ringing again, he picked it up and threw it across the room. It didn't break, as far as he could tell, but the loud clattering as it fell to the floor eased some of the rage.
A/N: Yes hi hullo again, it's me, Meha. These past few months have been kind of rough on the writing front, because I got busy with school and kind of addicted to RPing (it's an excellent distraction method). The show and the writing frustrated me to the point where I didn't want to think about TVD too much, and I kind of pushed Therapy to the side. Now, though, after my brief (but very deep) foray into the Teen Wolf/Isaac Lahey fandom, I want to come back to this wonderful fic and try and finish it as best as I can for all of you. In the past six months, you all have shown so much support and love for me and the fic, and the amount of dedication you guys have has actually made me cry. It's lovely. I'm not too much a part of the fandom anymore (but congratulations to everyone who was nominated for a Klaroline Award! If it's not too much trouble, y'all should vote for my best friend Erica's fic, Hellbound, in the Best Crime/Thriller category), but I am still on tumblr. You can find me at felicitysqueens. Feel free to leave me a message, on or off anon, pushing me to write some more. Trust me, I'm going to need those little pushes and nudges.
I'd also really love it if you guys could review this chapter! It's been a really long time and I'm a little nervous, especially for Henrik's plot. Not to mention the Klaus/Tatia flashbacks (I didn't think I'd ship it, ever, but writing that snippet made me want to write more, so be on the lookout!)
This is definitely not the last you'll be seeing of this fic.
Love you all!