A/N: Thank you guys so much for your reviews, favorites, and alerts. This story has a very unusual kind of plot, so it makes me happy to see that people are reading/enjoying!
Thank yous to: Tanya and Briana for being wonderful betas, and Leonie and Meghan for their wonderful graphics!
"Anna," she said softly. "Are you okay?"
"Yeah," Anna sniffled, wiping the tears from her eyes. "I'm really sorry that I'm crying in front of you."
"Oh, honey no! It's okay. That's what I'm here for, Anna. You can tell me anything and everything. All I want to do is help you."
Anna looked up at Caroline, her eyes filling with tears again. Their session was almost over, and while Anna had spent the better part of it being silent and uncooperative, she'd finally started talking fifteen minutes ago. The words had started coming out quickly, and there was barely enough time for Caroline to understand what was happening before Anna had burst into tears.
Caroline was good at her job. She was prepared for all sorts of situations, and though she didn't like the moments when patients broke down in her office, she strived for the days when they'd come in smiling and tell her everything they loved about their lives.
The fifteen-year-old sitting in front of her, however, was clearly in the former situation. In these moments, Caroline found it best to just offer a tissue and wait for the tears to subside. After that, it would be easy to get to the root of the problem, and to talk everything out with Anna.
"Thank you, Dr. Forbes. I just haven't been affected by something like this in a really long time, you know? I'm over my anorexia. I'm not just saying this so you can sign my slip," she said, anticipating what Caroline was going to say next. "I don't feel like I have to be in control all the time, you know? And I feel good about myself. I'm not worrying about my hunger or how many calories I've had today. Yesterday, I even had a slice of cheesecake!"
"I'm glad, Anna," Caroline smiled. "I really am. But I need you to know that it's not just about what you eat. How you're feeling about yourself is a big part of your recovery, too. The food is a really big thing, and I'm so glad you've managed to take steps towards recovery in that area, too. What I need you to do now is ask yourself why something like this, a boy you don't even know, can affect you so much. You didn't tell me what it was that he said, exactly. Do you want to talk about that?"
"Actually, I think I'm kind of exhausted," Anna replied, biting her lip. She looked worried, as if afraid that her session time wasn't up. As a fifteen-year-old girl who was trying to overcome anorexia, therapy sessions were hard. There were things she wanted to talk about, but she didn't want to go too deep. Once she started talking, thought, Caroline started digging.
When Caroline started digging, her patients started to recede into themselves again. It took her a few weeks to get them to trust her, but once they did, they liked talking to her. She was friendly, she was trustworthy, and she had a non-judgemental ear. It probably helped that she was payed to keep their secrets to herself.
"Alright," Caroline checked her watch. It was 3:28 pm, which meant that Anna only had two minutes left. Technically, she could leave, but Caroline never liked to let anyone go early. "Well you have a couple minutes left, so how about you just tell me a few things you really like about yourself?
Anna slouched back in her seat, reluctant to go through the routine. "How many?" she asked, her tone conveying her irritation.
Caroline shrugged. "Five. But you have to mean them."
Her patient sat up silently and surveyed her with curious eyes. "Okay," Anna said slowly, twirling her long, dark curls with her fingers. "I really love my hair. I like how I look when I smile. I love my taste in music, and I love how I ate a healthy portion for lunch."
"That's four," Caroline pointed out. "Give me one more. Anything."
"I like that...I like that I'm strong enough to try and overcome this. Is that okay?"
"That's perfect, Anna!" Caroline smiled. "Thank you. You're free to go, okay? I'll see you at our next session."
"I'll be here," Anna said, picking up her bag from where she'd dropped it when she'd come in. She waved as she walked out of the door. "Bye, Dr. Forbes!"
Caroline waved bye in response as the door shut behind Anna. She swiveled around in her chair, kicking off her shoes, and stared out her window. Her view wasn't great, but it was pretty nice considering she'd only been working here for three years. The practice was located on Fifth Avenue, and she'd worked her way up to the 20th floor. Maybe in a few years, she'd start her own practice and rent out her own office space, but right now, she was making money and building a reputation.
Plus, she made enough to go crazy at the sample sales all over town.
So what if she had a weakness for boots? She could afford them.
Her phone beeped.
She leaned back in the chair and reached out to grab it from where it was on the desk, but the only reward for all of that hard work was a text from Matt.
'I know things have been awkward between us lately, but can we talk? Please?'
She sighed. Oh, Matty. If only there was something to talk about.
They'd been together for a little more than four years, and while it had been a healthy relationship, one that could very likely culminate in marriage, she had started to think that there was something more out there for her. Maybe she was being greedy, but the fact of the matter was that she didn't want to tie herself down to someone that she didn't really want to be with. She loved Matt, but he didn't make her toes curl when he kissed her. Back when they'd first together, her heart used to flip and her breath would catch, even at the mere mention of his name.
The magic was gone now. Maybe she was fickle, but she didn't want to force it anymore. She didn't want to lead him on, either, so she quickly replied, telling him to meet her at 21 that night after work. Best to just clear the air and try to establish a new normal for them. She didn't want to lose Matt as a friend, but he was going to need time to deal with that.
Caroline checked the time again, and, realizing that she had five minutes before Katherine's brother-in-law came in, scrambled to put on her shoes and fix her hair. She couldn't do much, just finger-comb it, but it was better than nothing. She hated looking like a mess in public, and that neurotic side of her was more present than ever during business hours. When a patient was in, she needed to look professional.
This patient, however, was more important than most. Not only was he a Mikaelson, with the ability to send her referrals, but he was also a Mikaelson with the ability to tell all of her friends how well she actually performed on the job.
Psychiatry was all subjective, after all. If the client thought you were a fraud, there was nothing you could do to save your reputation after that.
She would just have to hope for the best.
"Are you sure about this, Katherine?" Nik asked, stepping out of the cab. He placed his phone between his shoulder and his ear, sticking his hand in his pocket for his wallet. Grabbing a twenty, he slipped it through the driver's side window. Then, holding his phone, he put his wallet back into his jeans and made his way to the building.
"Yes, Nik. If there's anyone I trust to help you, it's my trusty friend Dr. Forbes."
"I don't even know this person," he growled into his phone. "What the fuck am I doing here, Kat?"
"I'm not going to have this conversation with you again, Niklaus," his sister-in-law snapped. "I have a meeting to get to, but it's almost four o'clock. Just get inside, punctuality is important to her."
"Eh," he mumbled, staring up at the building. He could feel the anticipation building in his stomach. What if this woman told him there was something seriously wrong with him? What if she said he was abnormal?
Who was she anyway, to judge him?
She didn't know anything about him, so how dare she?
"Nik, are you even in the building yet? She's on like, the 20th floor. Get a move on," Katherine said, bringing his train of thought to an end.
"Must I do this?"
"You agreed to it, remember?"
"Fine, fine," he grumbled. "I'm going."
Without so much as a goodbye, he tapped the 'End' button on his phone and slipped it into his pocket. Then, with a deep breath, he made his way into the building, pushing past the revolving front doors.
He took the elevator up to the 20th floor, and it opened into a nice, bright office. There was a secretary's desk directly in front of him, and when he told the college student behind it his name, he was directed to a rather large, imposing, mahogany door on the other side of the office.
Connor, the young psych major who was manning the desk at the front, had told him that he could just go in, since Dr. Forbes last patient had left half an hour ago. Still, Nik knocked, waited for the faint 'come in', and then pushed open the door.
What he found was not what he was expecting.
The blonde beauty from the club last week was sitting at a large, chrome and glass desk in front of him. She was writing something down onto a page in the file in front of her, and, without looking up, acknowledged his presence. "Niklaus Mikaelson?" she read out, from what he presumed to be his file. "I'm Dr. For-"
"Caroline," he interrupted quickly, flashing back to the memory of her hair in her face, her bright smile as she introduced herself, and the scent of vanilla and cinnamon mixed together.
The way he'd acted, incorrigibly, as if she was a person that didn't have feelings.
Caroline looked up, recognizing his voice, and her eyes widened as she realized that her newest client, Katherine's brother-in-law, was the same man that she'd embarrassed herself in front of the week before.
The surprise lasted for less than a second before she composed herself, taking in a breath. She schooled her features into an expression of professionalism, gesturing for him to take a seat. "Dr. Forbes, actually," she corrected lightly, giving him a kind smile.
Instantly he remembered why he was there. This whole nonsense about "getting better" and trying to move past Tatia and her betrayal.
The irony of it all, he thought to himself as he took a seat, was much too funny. He had automatically shut down the first woman who had caught his eye in five years, simply because his thoughts had strayed to Tatia, and now that same woman was supposed to be helping him deal with those thoughts of Tatia.
The urge to hit something was overpowering, but Nik understood that a psychiatrist's office was the last place in the world to display anger management issues. He didn't want to waste any more time than he would have to anyway, just to talk about why he felt the need to lash out when he was angry, nor did he want to be prescribed any meds to help with whatever mental illness Caroline deemed he had. This wasn't the best possible situation to be in, and the fact that he'd found his shrink attractive irritated him more than it probably should have.
"How does this work," Nik demanded, seeing her start to write on the pages in front of her. "How do you already have a file on me?"
"Oh," she said, surprised at his harsh tone. "It's not really a file. It's just a manila folder filled with some blank pages and and a piece of paper that lists your name, address, and some other basic personal information about you."
"Like what, my bank account PINs and Social Security number?"
"No," she looked at him oddly. "I have none of that information. What I do know is that you are Niklaus Mikaelson," Caroline read off the information she had. "A thirty-three-year old British ex-patriate. I have an Park Avenue address listed for you, as well as two emergency contacts, namely Elijah Mikaelson and Katherine Pierce-Mikaelson. They are described as your brother and sister-in-law, respectively. No bank account is mentioned, and, as far as I'm concerned, you shouldn't even have a Social Security number. You've been in this country for less than a week."
"That's not the point! The point is that I don't know anything about you, and you seem to know a hell of a lot about me, considering I've only just walked through your door. We're not on equal footing here, and it's unfair, don't you think, love?"
"Okay, really?" Caroline huffed, her face falling in disappointment. She put her pen down and fixed him with a glare. "First of all, you are here because you want to be here, not because I have forced you. If someone else has forced you, I am sorry. I only agreed to see you because Katherine told me that you really needed it and that she would convince you to come yourself. I specifically told her that you had to agree to this, otherwise I wouldn't even meet with you, so please don't act like I'm doing this because I need the money or something. Second of all, this is a trial session. I'm not going to ask you why you look so rigid in that chair or why you're so uncomfortable. I'm not going to ask you about your wife or why you have trust issues, and I am sure as hell not going to ask you about your relationships with your family. And," she checked her watch, huffing. "Don't call me 'love'."
To say he was taken aback would be a severe understatement. "I'm sorry, but are you allowed to speak to me like that?"
"Actually," she said, leaning back in her chair. "Yes. Because you're not technically my patient for another minute and a half."
Katherine hadn't been lying when she'd said that punctuality was important.
"Oh, and lastly, I will never be bringing up our meeting at the club. I introduced myself, you shut me down, and that's all there is to it. As far as I'm concerned, you are my patient, should you decide to stay, and my job is to help you talk through anything you feel is important. I don't have any ulterior motives."
Caroline wasn't interested in listening to his excuses on the topic, he figured. She gave him a look that simultaneously terrified and intrigued him, and he suddenly wanted to bolt out of his chair and leave, never to return.
She checked her watch. "It's 4 o'clock. Are you staying or are you leaving?"
Nik answered her question with another question. "How am I supposed to trust you? I'm supposed to tell you, a perfect stranger, all the experiences in my life that have made up who I am? That's what that is for, I presume? Your fancy Harvard degree," he gestured to the framed paper hanging on the wall behind her desk, the elegant cursive standing out against the bright, bold black font of her name. "That gives you the right to ask me anything about myself, since I'm sitting in your office."
"You don't need to be here," she repeated firmly.
"Oh, but I do," he said, his tone acerbic. "My family is convinced that that I need your help."
Caroline fiddled with her pen, twirling it over her forefinger with her thumb. She had a growing headache, and the near-hostile man sitting in front of her wasn't helping the situation. This two-hour session was supposed to be a favor for a friend, but now that Nik was sitting in the chair across from her, she could see that Katherine was right. He really did need help.
He was sitting straight up in the chair, his hands at his sides. His fingers wouldn't stop tapping on the armrests, and his eyes never stayed too long in one place. Nik had met her gaze when he'd walked in, his eyes full of distrust and barely repressed anger, and in the ten minutes since then, he'd done nothing but try and shut her down.
It was starting to become a habit with the two of them, Caroline discovered. Her initial attraction for the man had disintegrated. Besides, she was never one to break a professional standard. Dating patients wasn't the wisest of choices; when you were privy to someone's innermost thoughts because they paid you to listen and analyze, starting a relationship with that person would be taking advantage of them.
"So," she said slowly, focusing on the last words out of his mouth. "Your family is-"
"You said we didn't have to talk about my family," Nik interrupted, flashing her a bitter smile. "Going back on your word, Dr. Forbes?"
"I never go back on my word, Nik," she snapped, clicking her pen.
"Call me Klaus," he said shortly.
"Any particular reason why?" she allowed.
"Only the people closest to me call me 'Nik'."
"Okay, I can accept that."
Nik was surpised. When he was told that he'd have to go talk to a therapist, he'd honestly believed that the doctor would ask him everything during their first meeting. He had come prepared to put up a fight and a wall, guarding his emotions, but there was no need. Caroline- Dr. Forbes, he corrected mentally- had no intention of trying to tread into the deep, dark depths of his soul. Yet.
For now, he could probably make do with small talk and getting to know her at least well enough to decide how much he could trust her. While she seemed intelligent, considering the fact that Harvard didn't just hand out degrees to anyone, he didn't buy into the idea that four years of medical school gave someone the right to delve through his mind and start telling him how to live.
Maybe he just had a twisted view of the field of psychiatry.
He did believe this entire thing was a waste of time.
The sound of a pen scratching onto paper brought him back from his inner monologue, and when he looked up, he saw that Caroline was writing furiously into the file she had on him. Nik leaned forward in his chair, trying to see what she was writing, but all he could make out was that there was the aforementioned page with all of his personal information on one side, and a sheet of lined notebook paper full of her comments on the other.
He had been here for all of fifteen minutes. How much could she have to say about him?
Uncomfortable when talking about family, Caroline noted. Sits too straight, almost rigid, fidgety when he notices that I'm looking at him = Control issues.
Complex familial dynamics (?) = irritation when I bring up family, doesn't want to talk about anything personal. Possibly stems from trust issues.
HOW DEEP? she wrote, underlining three times for emphasis. Does not want to let me, or anyone in, she remembered his behavior last week, his rejection of her when they hadn't even known one another. Afraid of getting hurt again?
What hurt him in the first place? Who hurt him in the first place?
Caroline glanced up every few seconds to take in another feature of his, but he didn't notice until she was almost done. The page was almost full with comments, but against her better judgment, she made space for one more
. Feels guilty when trying to talk to women. === wife?
What she really wanted to know, however, was why was he so damn uncomfortable? What had caused it?
And how could she help?
"How do you already have so much written about me?"
"Your body language says a lot."
"So that's what you're going to do?" he asked, disbelievingly. "You're just going to write down how I'm acting while you ask me uncomfortable and prying questions?"
"I'm not judging you, it's just a way for me to understand the situation."
"Understand the situation," Nik scoffed, leaning back in his chair. The longer her eyes stayed on him, the deeper he slouched. It seemed childish, but the weight of her gaze made him want to hide, and the only possible solution was sinking so far into the chair that his long legs almost touched her desk.
Caroline stayed silent, waiting for his next wave of anger.
Finally, he broke the silence. She looked up from her notes, by now extensive.
"Aren't you supposed to be fixing me or something?" he asked.
"Why," she asked, leaning forward, elbows against her desk. "Do you think something is wrong with you?"
"No!" Klaus sputtered, clearly not expecting that response. "I don't think anything's wrong with me."
"Then why would you ask?" Caroli- Dr. Forbes- was frowning, her pen tapping anxiously against the desk. From her expression, he could tell that his question had intrigued her, but in the wrong sort of way. Now, she was dead-set on helping him 'become a better person', or whatever sophisticated euphemism that Katherine had used. He could see it in her eyes. He could also see some genuine compassion, as if she could not even understand why the thought that something being wrong with him could have passed his mind.
Either she was a firm believer in people or extremely stupid. The cynic in him wanted to believe the former, but there was no judgement to be found in her gaze. He liked that, and so, against his worse judgment, he chose to believe the best of her.
With this newfound belief, Nik took a step back from the situation. This entire session, for however long as it had lasted up until now, had been a mess. He had told his family that he would genuinely try, and Nik was nothing if he went back on his word. He certainly wasn't Elijah the Saint, but he was no less proud than his eldest brother, and he kept his word.
"I thought that was a psychiatrist's job," he said slowly, meeting her gaze. From this point onward, he would actually try and cooperate with Car- Dr. Forbes, and he would damn well be the best patient she ever had. To do that, however, he had to be honest. "I figured I'd come in here, you'd expect me to tell you everything that has ever happened in my life that could be considered remotely scarring, and then you'd prescribe some medication or something and send me on my way until the next session."
Dr. Forbes actually cracked a smile. "You're not the only one who has serious misconceptions about my field of medicine. But," she paused, looking genuinely thankful. "I appreciate your honesty."
It was a refreshing change. "I appreciate you not pushing me to talk about my family."
"I don't want to talk about your family," she said, shaking her head. "At least, not yet. They are clearly very important to you, but I feel like there's more to that story and you're not ready to tell me yet."
"I'm not," he agreed.
"I understand that. I make it a point to let all of my patients know that they don't have to tell me anything until they trust me. You should also know that anything you tell me, I am required, by law, to keep a secret. Unless," she paused, biting back a smirk. The atmosphere was lighter now, she could crack a joke. "Have you murdered someone?"
Nik shook his head no, unable to keep his laughter at bay. "I haven't, actually, but if my brother Kol ever ends up dead by suspicious circumstances, you should probably know that I had the pleasure of doing that."
She laughed softly, holding her hands up in the air. "Well then, my lips are sealed."
"Alright, thank you," he said agreeably. "So how does this work?"
Caroline smiled slightly, happy to be making some progress. Since this was the first session, things needed to be kept light. Already, she knew that the man in front of her had trust issues, probably stemming from abandonment. He wouldn't talk about his family, which was unsurprising, considering the increasingly complex relationships the Mikaelsons had.
This wasn't typical for a new patient. She wasn't supposed to already know things about him, but she could keep her mind free of bias and judgment and refrain from imposing her own expectations for him. Klaus wasn't always going to be sullen and uncooperative. Sometimes he would actually smile, the way he was doing now, and it was important for him to know that she could see all the different aspects of his personality without expecting him to act a certain way all the time. Showing surprise over his different moods was expecting something from him, and that wouldn't be beneficial to anyone. He'd obviously been shaped by certain experiences in his life, but she would try to ignore those until he brought them up himself.
So, at his inquiry, she bit back all of the questions that were at the tip of her tongue, including his relationship with his youngest brother and his late parents. Instead, she went for something neutral.
"Well, since this is your first session, we're just getting to know each other. So, you can tell me anything you feel comfortable talking about, like your day at work or the maybe guy who spilled coffee on you in the street, or," Caroline said, almost enthusiastically. "You could talk about what you think of New York, you know? How it feels to live here. How much you like your neighborhood...Your apartment."
It was selfish and slightly unprofessional, but dammit, she had put a lot of time and effort into decorating his place. Katherine had taken all the credit for it, which had been the agreement, but she was allowed some sort of satisfaction, wasn't she?
The paintings were placed to the best possible lighting for God's sake. Did Katherine even know how long that had taken?
"I can do that," Klaus said, taking a deep breath. He stopped tapping his fingers against his armrests, crossed his legs so that his right ankle was resting on his left knee, and slouched down in his chair. "Let's see..." he paused. "I like my apartment. I didn't think I actually would, considering how particular I am about certain things, but I have to say that it is starting to feel like home."
"And why is that?"
"Katherine," he paused, ready to clarify, before realizing that Dr. Forbes knew who Katherine was. "She basically got the entire place ready for me before I got here, which was incredibly sweet of her. It's a gesture I can appreciate, even though I don't know why she did it. D'you know, my favorite thing about the place is that, and this is going to sound stupid, but you're not allowed to judge, are you?"
She shook her head, no.
"Right then. My favorite thing is that she went and put all of my paintings at their best possible lighting. I mean, it's not a big thing, I guess, but it's takes time and energy and just...it was done so painstakingly. Probably should buy her something expensive for doing that."
Oh, he had got to be kidding.
But Klaus wasn't finished, apparently. "It doesn't have any of the bad memories that London does, either," he continued, his expression softening. "Plus, it's nice to look out at Central Park every now and then."
She pushed down the flare of jealousy that had erupted within her suddenly. She'd lived in this city for so many years and she couldn't afford an apartment that could overlook Central Park, and while she would be able to in a few years, with the trajectory her career was on, Klaus had it now. He had literally never stepped foot in that beautiful, beautiful apartment before he'd bought it, and while she'd decorated it and pretended it was hers, he got to reap the benefits.
She didn't even get the credit for it, either, she sighed to herself. Oh well, there were more important things to deal with now.
Caroline listened intently as he started talking about his day, offering needless details for his anecdotes. His office wasn't completely set up yet, considering it was his second day on the job. He hated Mondays on principle, but yesterday had been worse than usual since he still hadn't recovered from his jetlag. None of his siblings had been around, and as a means to both occupy his time and try to fall asleep, he'd even started reading Game of Thrones again, but then the unthinkable happened.
"I actually liked it," Klaus said in disbelief. Caroline couldn't hold in her snort of laughter, but she tried anyway, covering her mouth with both hands. He fixed her with a look that clearly said this is not funny, before continuing. "There's no time in my life for me to sit down and try and finish a thousand-page book. It's not possible."
"Not to mention the fact that there are four sequels."
He almost jumped out of his chair. "There are more?"
She nodded, talking through the spaces between her fingers. "Each as long as the first."
"Oh, fuck my life."
"I think it's a good use of your time."
"What? Trying to wade through five thousand pages of epic fantasy is a good use of my time?"
"Not in one go, no, but reading is a great activity for someone who wants to fill their time. You mentioned that you live alone; you're not used to not having another person around, and so some of the time that you would have spent at home earlier, being with your family, is now free to you. Reading is a good for filling that time."
He paused, contemplating how much to share. Finally, he offered, "I paint. That fills time."
"What do you paint?"
"No, no," Nik shook his head, laughing. "You're not going to psychoanalyze my art. I told you because I was trying to be, you know, forthcoming and all of that. But just because I tell you something doesn't mean that you can run away with it."
His art was his, and his only. He didn't talk about it to anyone, he didn't show it off, and he sure as hell didn't do it for other people. Art was a way to relax and pass the time away, something to get lost in and forget about the troubles he had and the pain he felt. Whether he painted an orange or the Sistine Chapel's ceiling, it was his business. No one had the right to see it or opine.
Dr. Forbes narrowed her gaze at him, an unidentifiable emotion flashing through her eyes. It was gone in a second, but he could tell that he'd irritated her. She had been incredibly patient with him, he'd admit, and he was almost sold on the idea of coming back.
"I'm not always going to be as lenient with you," Caroline intoned. "Just because we're not talking about anything serious right now doesn't mean that we won't ever be. I don't want to lull you into a false sense of security." She could tell that he was starting to believe that therapy was going to be easy. If it was easy, they were doing it wrong.
"I thought you were supposed to just let me talk and then ask me how I felt about things?" Klaus asked her, tilting his head slightly. "I'd much prefer that."
"I'm sure you would. Anyway," she checked her watch. "You have five minutes left. Anything else you want to talk about?"
"Not really, no," Nik said, standing up. He started stretching, and they could both hear the bones in his back as they set into place. He'd been sitting in that chair a long time, he realized. Two hours too long.
"What are you doing?" Caroline asked.
"No. You have four minutes left."
He stared at her in disbelief. "Are you serious?"
"I take my time very seriously."
He looked around the room, at the buttery soft black leather couch in the corner, the three bookshelves full of books, and then finally at Caroline herself, sitting behind her half-chrome, half-glass desk, like a queen upon her throne. "I'm not being held prisoner."
"If you are, it's only by yourself."
"Is that some sort of hook? A riddle or phrase that's going to get stuck in my mind and make me come back for another session?"
Ah, and finally, there it was. The elephant in the room.
"Are you coming back for another session?"
"Of course I am!" The words slipped out before he could think about what he was saying, and by the time he'd realized, Dr. Forbes had a bright smile on her face. She extended her hand towards him, unabashedly proud.
"Wonderful! You can just schedule a meeting with Connor out front and then I'll see you later this week, hopefully."
His gaze trailed from her outstretched hand up to her eyes, and he slowly raised his own hand to shake hers. "Thank you, Dr. Forbes," he said reluctantly. "It was nice to not have someone walking on eggshells around me for once."
"Oh, believe me, if anyone is going to be walking on eggshells in this room, it is not going to be me."
"Duly noted. May I leave now?"
She nodded, and he started walking to the door. "But, you're coming back right?"
Nik's hand was already on the door, but at her question, he stopped. He tapped the edge of the door with his palm three times, his fingers standing straight out. "Yes," he said, his voice low. "Yes, I am. Have a good night, Dr. Forbes."
And then he was gone, shutting the door behind him.
Caroline let out a groan, tilting her head backward. She massaged the back of her neck with one hand and took her shoes off with the other. Curling up in her seat, she swiveled around to face the window, grabbing her phone in the process. Quickly pulling up Katherine's name, she sent an iMessage.
'He is a piece of work.'
The reply came instantly. 'I know, Care. That's why I'm sending him to you. Did it go okay?'
'yes,' she replied. 'he's agreed to come back.'
The next thing she knew, Katherine was calling her.
"Okay, so how did it go?" her best friend asked in lieu of a greeting.
"...I can't tell you anything else, Katherine. He's my patient."
"I know that, Care, I watch TV. But I'm asking you in general, was he moody or what? I mean-"
"You are going to have to ask him that, Kat, I refuse to tell you anything. Whatever you want to know, you get him to tell you. I'm not going to be put in the middle of these weird family dynamics that you guys have going on. Professionalism is key. It's already a tough situation; I know things about him that he hasn't already told me, and I'm just worried that at some point, my friendship with you will make him feel like he can't trust me."
"Actually," Klaus' voice came filtering through her ear. "You've just proved yourself wrong."
She almost dropped her phone in surprise.
"Hi, Care," Matt said softly as he slid into the stool next to her. He raised two fingers to get a bartender's attention, and then shifted his own onto the blonde sitting next to him. "How have you been?"
"I missed you," Caroline replied, looking up at him. She snorted, "That sounds insane."
"No it doesn't. We haven't, you know, talked about any of it."
"Are we jumping into that right away, Matt? You haven't even gotten your drink yeeet," she said, timing impeccable, as a beer was placed in front of him. Matt raised the bottle towards the bartender and then brought it to his lips, eyes catching Caroline's.
"You were saying?"
She huffed. "I was saying that I missed you and it's nice to see you again."
And it was. She'd barely seen him since they'd broken up six months ago, and it wasn't until he was sitting right in front of her, that natural grin claiming his face, that she realized just how much she missed him. He had been a constant in her life, there for her when she'd moved from Mystic Falls and left home behind, ecstatic when she'd gotten her Harvard letter. Hell, he'd even tried to come and visit her as often as he could, and they hadn't even been together back then.
Seeing Matt's smile was enough to drain the tension from her body, and she jumped up and hugged him, hard.
"Whoa, Caroline," he said, letting go of the beer bottle. He stood up, wrapping both arms around her to pull her closer. And then he was looking down at her with an expression of such confusion and worry that she honestly wasn't to be blamed for what happened next. She started crying.
"It's okay, Care," Matt soothed, rubbing an arm up and down her back. "Are you okay? Do you want me to take you home?"
Caroline buried her face in his neck and nodded, the soft material of his suit jacket tickling her nose. She took a deep breathe and inhaled the scent of his cologne, reveling in the familiarity of his scent. He'd worn the same thing for years now, since she'd gifted it to him on his first birthday after they'd gotten together. The fact that he'd worn it today, when he knew he'd be meeting her, made her heart break.
"I'm so sorry, Matt," she said, looking up at him, tears clinging to dark lashes. "I don't even know why I'm crying. It's just been a really tough day."
"It's okay, Care," he said. "Look, just sit down and have a drink, and we'll talk, okay?"
In the thirty seconds it took for him to say all of that, Caroline made a decision.
She took his face between her hands and brought him down for a kiss. Immediately, his hands went around her waist, pulling her as close as possible. Her fingers buried themselves in his long, blonde hair, and she needed him closer, closer. She needed to feel the heat when he touched her, the overwhelming sensation of feeling him everywhere at once, as if she couldn't get enough of him.
But there was very little of that, she realized, as Matt pulled away. The expression on his face accurately described how she felt, and, even though she knew this was going to happen, it still hurt.
"So that's it, huh?"
"I thought, maybe..."
"Caroline, you don't have to explain. It's okay. We are...we're not us anymore. And I guess, as much as I'd like to be there for you, through anything, it's not going to be the same again."
She looked down, averting her gaze, but he placed two fingers under her chin, lifting it up so she could meet his eyes. "We're still friends, Care. I still love you, you know that, right?"
"I just wish..." she trailed off.
I just wish it could be different.
Didn't they all?
A/N: K, so I hope I made up for the lack of Klaroline in the first three chapters. They have one scene here, and it's more than 4,000 words. I've never written a single continuous scene that long, and, needless to say, I'm pretty proud of myself. For those of you that are confused, Klaus called Katherine and used her to get on a conference call with Caroline to see if Caroline would talk about him and their session. It was a dick move, but he has severe trust issues. There will be repercussions.
Also, someone mentioned in a review about therapists and the ethics/professional code that prohibits outside interaction with patients. I am keeping that in mind. These two aren't going to be banging on the couch anytime soon, but they will have some sort of personal relationship. I'm very much aware that any romantic or sexual relationships are out of bounds between therapists and their patients in real life, as well as friendship, but, again, this is fanfiction and unless they do interact outside of the office, I have no plot. So please, bear with me.
I'd just like to say thank you to Briana one more time, because not only is she a great beta, she's a great friend. She's also a Psych major, so she (and Google) are extremely important to me while writing this fic. She also calms me down and tells me to write when I freak out and say that there's no way I can write this fic because I'm emotionally stunted.
Anyway, sorry for the long Author's Note. Here's a review template for you if you don't know what to say!
I (loved/hated/moderately liked) this chapter.
I (loved/hated/moderately liked) their first session, (and/but) I feel like next time you should have them (fight more/makeout more/talk about deep emotional issues and fall in love).
Okay, I'm bad at templates. Please do review~