A/N: As always, thank you all so much for your reviews, favorites, and follows. This fandom has been really welcoming, and I've made some wonderful friends here.
Once again, I'd like to take the time to thank them: Briana, Tanya, Meghan, and Leonie!
Happy reading! I feel like you guys deserve some Klaroline after the news we got yesterday. Keep the faith, guys!
When Katherine called on Thursday morning, Caroline's first instinct was to ignore her phone. She did love her ringtone, a mellow tune she'd bought off iTunes, and there was nothing wrong with letting it just play out as she scrambled around making breakfast in her pajamas. She didn't have any patients until the afternoon, so there was no rush to get to the office.
The problem was that Katherine didn't stop calling, and Caroline knew her best friend well enough to know that five calls in a row meant more than just an apology.
It meant Katherine needed help.
Internally berating herself, Caroline sighed and picked up the phone, sliding open the lock screen to answer the call. "What," she snapped in lieu of a greeting. In the two days since that damned conference call, she'd gotten precisely two apologies, both from her best friend, in the form of text messages.
Klaus-fucking-Mikaelson had yet to pick up a phone and call her, but the arrogant bastard probably didn't even realize how much he'd actually hurt her. Probably, he didn't even care.
"I need help," Katherine said, getting straight to the point. In one breath, she added, "Karen is sick, which means that I can only drop Brynne off at daycare and Elijah's already at work and I have to be there in an hour and I am dying, Caroline, because my baby, as much as I love her, is being a brat right now and I have a meeting that I cannot miss, and I really need my best friend because I am stuck between a rock and a hard place."
"Don't you have a nanny?"
"Yes, but she picks the girls up straight from day care at two. I can't take Karen to daycare if she's running a fever, nor can I just leave my four-year-old to fend for herself until the nanny comes," Katherine said, her tone icy.
"That's not what I was suggesting, Kat, stop being such a drama queen. If anything, I should be mad at you," Caroline snapped. She looked down at herself and decided that her pajamas were probably acceptable attire for babysitting a sick child. Nevertheless, she still had to go to work later. This mission would require a change of clothes, she realized. "I'll be there in twenty-five," she told Katherine, hanging up without another word.
Quickly, she grabbed a pencil skirt and acceptable shirt; packed the makeup she needed, and made her way out to the living room to grab her purse and keys. It didn't take long after that to catch a cab downstairs and get to Katherine and Elijah's apartment, even with traffic. Caroline rang the doorbell with two minutes to spare.
Katherine pulled open the door, a child in her arms. "Oh, you're here," she said in relief, pulling Caroline into the giant penthouse. "Thank God. Can you take Brynne for a moment?" She handed her younger daughter off to her best friend before running into the living room.
Caroline looked at Brynne. "Hi, Aunt Caro," the two-year-old supplied helpfully, a sunny smile on her face.
Caroline tapped the girl on her nose. "Hi, Brynne."
Brynne wrapped her arms around Caroline's neck, pressing her cheek against Caroline's as her godmother carried her through her home. Caroline could hear Katherine in the living room, muttering to herself about medications and phone numbers, and by the time she got to the living room and leaned against the doorway, Katherine's hands were in her hair, messing up her sleek ponytail.
"Going a little crazy, today?" Caroline asked her best friend.
Katherine looked up, her hands dropping loosely to her sides, and sighed. "No, I'm just looking for my wallet."
Caroline spotted it on the floor under one of the coffee tables. She put Brynne down, and the toddler waddled over to one of the black leather couches, using the buttery soft material to pull herself up. Caroline, meanwhile, pushed past Katherine to bend and pick up the bright red kate spade lacey. Rising, she handed it to her best friend.
Katherine fixed her with a look, holding out her hand for her wallet. "You're still mad at me."
"Oh, of course I am," Caroline said easily. "But I'm not here for you, I'm here for my goddaughter." She was still angry, of course she was, but Katherine could probably use a day of ceasefire. While fights between the two of them were rare, they were vicious when they occurred, lasting for days on end. This one would be no different, even if Caroline was stepping in to help out. Katherine had effectively taken sides in a situation that wasn't supposed to involve her. She had betrayed Caroline's trust, and she had gotten in the way of the doctor-patient relationship.
Katherine paused, wringing her hands together as she debated whether or not to start an argument. What she had done was wrong in Caroline's opinion, but she had been trying to help Nik. Did she really have to apologize for something as stupid as a conference call?
There was no time to go into these details, however, and there was a two-year-old in the room, not to mention the feverish four-year-old who needed taking care off. She relented, standing up to her full height, and dropped her hands, deciding instead to give Caroline instructions for the day.
"Karen's got a slight fever, it was around ninety-nine degrees when I checked her temperature fifteen minutes ago, which is a lot less than it was yesterday, when we took her to the doctor. Her pills are on the kitchen counter, and you know the drill, right?"
"Call you or Elijah if I need anything," Caroline rolled her eyes, following Katherine and Brynne back to the front door. "Don't let that adorable child use her puppy dog eyes on me to watch more than an hour of television. Yes, Kat, I know the drill."
"Okay," Katherine stepped outside the front door, reaching to take her daughter back into her arms. "She's asleep right now, but there's some chicken soup that Elijah made earlier on the stove and-"
"I've done this before," Caroline said firmly, cutting Katherine off. Her hands were already on the door, and she was itching to just shut it already and get on with her day. The memory of Klaus' smug voice filtering into her ear wasn't gone yet, and the betrayal she felt at the hands of Katherine hadn't lessened either. It was all well and good that Klaus had trust issues, but the fact that the rest of his family enabled him? Wanting to support him was one thing, but tricking her? That was completely different. She was only here now because Karen was her goddaughter. She had loved that child since Elijah had let her hold Karen for the first time, ten minutes after Katherine gave birth. Karen's brown eyes had blinked up at her before promptly filling with tears, and from that moment, Caroline was in love. She had decided then and there that she would always be there for her goddaughter, no matter the amount of irritation she felt towards Katherine. "You can go."
"Caroline," Katherine protested. "Don't be mad, come on."
"You saying 'don't be mad' doesn't mean that I just magically won't be mad," she snapped back. Glancing at Brynne, she calmed down slightly. "Seriously, just go."
"Fine," Katherine said stiffly. "But this isn't over."
"Oh, honey, it's barely begun."
Katherine ignored her, slipping her wallet into her large handbag as she walked down the hallway. Brynne looked over her mother's shoulder, yelling down the hallway, "Bye, Aunt Caro!"
Caroline smiled, waving in response and shut the door when the two were out of sight.
She had nothing to do until Karen woke up, so she kicked off her shoes and fell back on the couch, turning the TV on in the process.
Life was good.
Until, of course, she had to tend to a sick four-year-old in the worst possible mood.
But she'd deal with that later.
"Niklaus, can you come here a moment?" Elijah called out, preventing his younger brother from filing out of the conference room after everyone else. Katherine was the only one left besides the aforementioned brother, and she threw her husband an inquisitive glance over her shoulder, pausing as she walked out the door. Elijah, seeing this, added, "It's nothing, Kat, honestly."
Nik's gaze went from Elijah to Katherine. He lifted his suit jacket from it's place on the back of his leather chair, and shrugged it onto his shoulders as he looked up at Elijah. He made his way over to his brother after sliding his seat into place. Elijah packed his laptop and other belongings, ignoring Nik's unspoken question until he'd buttoned up his suit jacket.
"Karen is sick," Elijah informed him.
"That's horrible," Nik replied, eyebrows knitting together. Having raised Henrik, he knew the horrors of having a sick Mikaelson child on one's hands. Their inner brats came out, and while Katherine had made sure that both of her children were well-behaved on most days, there was no telling what an itchy throat and a runny nose would do to Karen's behavior. Henrik hadn't been particularly pleasant, himself, when ill, but Nik did not envy Elijah and Katherine. No, see, he had never had to deal with the hell that was a sick four-year-old Henrik, and though he wasn't a religious man, he thanked God for that.
"It is. Anyway, one of Katherine's friends is taking care of her," Elijah said, purposely avoiding any mention of Caroline. He continued, seeing no sign of suspicion on his brother's face. "I don't know when you're planning to take a lunch break, but if you could stop over sometime after two-thirty and spend some time, maybe it would cheer her up?"
"Sure. But why can't you go?"
"Ihave a conference call at 12:30, leaving me about twenty minutes to grab something from the commissary downstairs."
"Ah, I see," Nik answered. And he did. Elijah, as the CEO, was required to sit in on certain calls that didn't actually need his input. The Global Markets department was spearheading this particular international meeting, but the Japanese would be insulted if Elijah didn't make an appearance. They would claim that he felt that they weren't worth his time.
Elijah didn't actually believe that they were worth his time, but their money certainly was. He was an intelligent man; he did what he had to do.
"Why can't Katherine go?"
"She's got a business lunch to go to. We're looking to expand into small business. Our returns from Kol's club were more than satisfactory, and they seemed to have spurred her into action."
"Right, well then. I was actually going to meet Henrik for lunch on campus, but I can just pick him up and go by yours," Nik said, accepting Elijah's explanations.
"Great, when are you going by? I'll call and tell the nanny to expect you."
"Don't bother," Nik replied, making his way out of the conference room. "I'll go to Columbia now, pick up Henry, and get take out. We can eat lunch with Karen, and I'll be back by two."
"You're going now?" Elijah asked, his voice raised. Katherine was going to kill him.
"Yes," Nik answered with a raised brow. "Is there a problem?"
"No...but can't you go after two-thirty?"
"Elijah, I do have work to do, you realize this? I can't just waste my entire day going around the city to spend time with children. You asked me to go, and I will, on my time."
Elijah frowned. Katherine had told him of the stunt that she and Nik had pulled on Tuesday, after Nik's first therapy session, and Elijah had known Caroline long enough to realize that there would be repercussions. From what Katherine had said, Nik hadn't seemed fazed in the least. Nik didn't know Caroline well enough to know what would hurt her, but that didn't mean Caroline wasn't hurt. Besides, Nik liked pushing people away. It was the whole reason that he was in therapy in the first place.
Should he even prolong the wait between the two meeting again? Damn me for opening my mouth in the first place, he thought.
"What are you thinking so deeply about, Elijah?" Nik asked, already standing at the doorway.
Elijah made one last-ditch effort to prevent further chaos. "Perhaps it is better if you just don't go, Niklaus," he said coolly.
Nik, however, didn't understand his sudden about-face. "No need to channel our sister with your indecisiveness, 'Lijah. I'll be off, then, unless there's something else you need of me?"
Elijah blinked, contemplating his next move. Finally, he realized that Katherine was going to rip him to shreds over this either way, and it was his fault for sticking his nose in the middle of this. Nik and Caroline were going to have to meet again, and Caroline was going to react violently no matter what.
Might as well move the process along.
Apparently he had been silent for too long, because Nik left the conference room without an answer, shutting the door behind him.
Oh well, Elijah sighed to himself. He'd tried. A little bit.
At least, he'd tried enough to justify saying that he had tried. In the end, however, it didn't matter. Nik was going to do what he wanted, he'd say what he'd wanted, and he'd be unfazed by others' opinions of him. It was his way.
They hadn't actually talked about the fact that Nik was seeing Caroline, Elijah realized. In fact, he didn't even know if Nik had told anyone else in the family. Obviously he and Katherine knew, but the rest of his siblings didn't. The next time they all went out, it would be difficult to explain how Nik and Caroline already knew each other. How do you explain to your siblings that you're paying one of their closest friends for therapy?
It was Nik's problem, though, not his.
He, Elijah, had to go deal with Global Markets and miss his daily lunch with his wife and try not to think about his daughter, at home with a runny nose and an itchy throat. There were more important things to worry about than Nik. There were always more important things to worry about than Nik.
But he worried about Nik anyway.
"Can you meet me outside your building?"
"Why can't we just eat on campus, I'm too lazy to leave."
"Get your arse down here, Henry," Nik growled into his phone, too irritated already to be on the receiving end of Henrik's pathetic excuses. His brother had the ability to work extremely hard when he needed to, but God forbid you tried to take him out to lunch after his last math lecture of the week. "I'm in front of the Butler Library, meet me here. Your campus is too damn complicated to navigate."
Henrik had started his first semester at Columbia on Tuesday, but Nik hadn't seen his younger brother since Friday night. The boy had been avoiding him, probably afraid that he was going to be yelled at for showing up at Kol's club. Nik wasn't mad anymore, though, and did figure that after living together for nearly a decade, a week was too long enough to go without Henrik's company. They'd planned to go get lunch, and then Henrik had suggested giving Nik a tour around campus.
Of course, plans had changed, but Henrik didn't know that yet.
"Fine, fine, I'm coming."
Five minutes later, Henrik met his older brother in front of the large, redbrick library. Nik was pacing a few feet in front of the entrance, his eyes on the ground, most of his attention devoted to whoever was on the other end of the phone. Henrik waved a hand in front of his brother's face to get Nik's attention, and Nik put his finger up in response.
Henrik rolled his eyes but waited patiently, by now used to this behavior. He couldn't help but listen in on the conversation, wanting to see the business side of Nik. All charm and smiles, nothing fazed him.
He could only hope that one day he'd be as charming as his brother pretended to be.
"Yes, and we at Mikaelson-Pierce look forward to doing business with you, as well, Mr. Tar-oh, alright, Samuel. No, of course not, you're right. There's no need to be formal anymore. Yes, definitely. Alright, it's been a pleasure," Nik said before hanging up his phone. He turned, devoting all of his attention to his younger brother, but before he knew it, there was another distraction.
"Hey, H-Dawg," a girl called out, a few feet from behind Henrik.
Henrik blushed, ducking his head.
"What the hell is happening, Henry?" Nik asked quietly, incredulous. "Did she just call you H-Dawg?"
"Hide me," Henrik whispered furiously, trying to get behind Nik. Nik put his palm flat against Henrik's chest, pushing him away. By that time, though, the girl had already reached them.
"Hi, Danielle," Henrik greeted.
"Hi, Henrik," she said sheepishly, realizing that he had company. "I didn't realize you weren't alone, sorry." Her eyes raked up Nik's form, and he felt slightly disturbed when he realized that this eighteen-year old schoolgirl found him attractive. Her gaze was violating.
He didn't think she was sorry at all.
Henrik, apparently, was having the same kind of thoughts. He stepped back a little, almost as if to block Nik from Danielle's view. "This is my brother, Nik," Henrik said, an edge to his tone. "He practically raised me. I mean, honestly, he's like my father."
"How interesting," Danielle said, in a tone that clearly conveyed that she didn't actually find it interesting at all.
Nik didn't find it interesting, either. He was only thirty-three! Not nearly old enough to be the father of an eighteen-year-old. "Let's not be hasty in our mathematical estimations, now, Henry."
"Henry?" Danielle cooed, cottoning on. "Your family calls you Henry?"
Oh, for God's sake. Which brother was she attracted to?
He shook his head, wondering why he even cared.
"His family calls him a lot of things," Nik cut in swiftly, seeing Henrik opening his mouth. "But right now, his niece is calling him over, because she is sick and she would like the presence of her favorite uncle."
As CFO, he was allowed to take two hours, maximum, for his lunch break. He'd already wasted fifteen minutes to get here, and he wasn't about to waste another fifteen to sit and chat with some schoolgirl that his brother didn't even care for. He was starving, dammit, and he didn't want to stay on campus any longer than he had to. The red brick buildings surrounding him were just a harsh reminder of how much money he was actually paying out of his pocket for Henrik's education.
Bloody America, he thought with disgust.
"Karen's ill?" he guessed immediately. Henrik and Brynne hadn't bonded much, probably due to Kol's monopolization of her time. Karen, on the other hand, had a lot of love for Nik and Henrik.
Thank God for video calling.
"Yes, and she is currently at home with a babysitter, probably bored out of her mind. We should get going, since I'm actually on a tight schedule."
They said their goodbyes to Danielle and made their way to the nearest subway station that would take them as close to Elijah's place as they could get, Henrik calling his favorite Chinese food place on the way, rattling of the address of the penthouse. They got there just as the delivery boy arrived, and Henrik showed his ID to take the food off the other teen's hands.
Once they got to the top floor, Nik rang the bell, waiting impatiently for someone to open the door. He could hear some childish Disney music barely concealing the sound of padded footsteps approaching. Before he knew it, the door had swung open.
He looked up and met the eyes of the last person he'd wanted to see.
"Caroline." Her name dropped from his lips without conscious effort.
"Klaus," she said after a moment, glaring at him. Her hands crossed over her chest and she raised an eyebrow, shooting him a look that said what the fuck are you doing here?
"Henrik," his youngest brother supplied helpfully from beside him, sensing the awkwardness between the two blondes. Neither of them turned to look at him, so Henrik held up the bags of food he had, trying again. "We come bearing edible gifts."
Caroline turned her attention to the lanky teenager, noting the similarities between him and Nik. They had the same eyes, she realized, but Henrik's smile was much warmer. "I've cooked," she replied, her tone softer than it had been with Nik. She stepped aside to let them both in. "And Elijah left some chicken noodle soup. But thank you."
They made their way into the apartment, and Henrik bypassed his brother and Caroline to go see Karen and put the food down on the coffee table. Unlike Nik, Katherine and Elijah had no qualms about eating wherever they wanted.
"Are you sure your cooking isn't just going to hinder Karen's recovery?" The words were out of his mouth before he could help it, but he couldn't regret saying them.
Caroline, who had been walking in front of him, whipped around. The expression on her face was somewhere between anger and injury, and a tiny, perverse part of him wanted to rile her up some more. He finally decided against it, remembering that his next session was in less than twenty-four hours. Nik had actually found her to be quite a refreshing change, but he had to admit that the fiery personality she showed when he'd irritated her was a lot more interesting to him than the composed professional who believed her worth was in her fancy Harvard degree.
"Klaus?" Caroline asked in surprise. "Wait, what the hell, I thought I was talking to Katherine."
"You are talking to me," Katherine spoke up. "But...you were also talking to him."
"You put us on a conference call?" Caroline said, quickly catching on. Her temper rose. "Kat, are you fucking kidding me right now? Why would you do that?"
"Don't blame Katherine, love-"
"Don't call me 'love'," Caroline interrupted.
Klaus entered the elevator, continuing as if Caroline hadn't spoken in the first place. "It was my idea. You kept going on about how I didn't have to say anything to you until I trusted you, and, well, I didn't trust that. So, I asked Katherine to help me out a little bit."
"I'm sorry, Caroline. I just needed to prove to him that you weren't going to talk to me about your sessions. I didn't think you'd be so mad about this. I thought I was doing you a favor."
"No, you were enabling him. Okay, you know what, I just cannot have this conversation right now," she blurted out quickly.
"No," Caroline shook her head emphatically. "No, it was fine when you asked me to see him once, it was even fine that he was a douchebag when we first met, but this is going way too far. I am done with this conversation, Katherine," Caroline said. "So have a nice day, both of you. Or don't. I don't fucking care."
She'd hung up after that, he remembered, but instead of feeling reprimanded, he had smiled. Caroline Forbes was fiery and passionate, and the more she hated him, the less she felt like she had to help him. It was twisted, he knew, but he'd seen the look in her eyes when he'd told her that he didn't want to talk about his family. That had been the look of a person determined to achieve a goal.
Nik knew what her goal was.
He pushed people away, and he liked doing it. Yes, he kept his family close, but they were always going to be there for him. After everything he'd been though, they'd been through when they were younger, there was no way that he'd ever let any seeds of mistrust grow regarding them.
Everyone else was a different story. Yes, Caroline had proven to be trustworthy, but that just meant that she was capable of breaking through his walls and making him vulnerable. The less he let her know about him, the less pain for him. She was his therapist, but she could only help him as much as he let her. He'd honestly rather have her die trying than actually figure out anything about him.
She tore him from his inner monologue, showing some of that fire he had just been thinking about. Jabbing a finger into his chest, she said, "You do not get to talk to me like that. Not now, not ever."
He gingerly removed her hand and let it rest loosely by her side before walking away from her in the direction that Henrik had disappeared off to. "Alright, I won't. But don't go stabbing me with your fingers, either, love."
Caroline followed him to the living room. Henrik had fallen onto the couch next to Karen, who had made her own little cocoon of blankets. She lifted one up so that her uncle could crawl in next to her, but Henrik shook his head. He smiled at her and put his arm around her, and the girl huddled into his side. From their spot at the edge of the room, she and Klaus could just barely make out what the kids were saying.
"You okay, Karen?"
"My throat hurts, Uncle Henry," the child rasped, pouting up at him. Henrik wrinkled his nose in response, and she giggled, the laughter turning into coughs. Automatically, the palm of Henrik's hand was rubbing up and down Karen's back, trying to ease the pain of the coughs wracking her small body. With his other hand, he grabbed the remote and paused the Disney Channel show that was playing. His ears felt immediate relief at the lack of teen pop music in the room, and soon enough, Karen stopped coughing, too. He looked up from her to see Nik gesturing to Caroline with his eyes, signaling that the two adults were going to go talk. Caroline smiled at him, making eye contact, and he smiled back, nodding once.
He watched as Nik followed Caroline into another room.
Those two had some serious chemistry, and he hadn't seen Nik act that way around a woman in a long, long time. How did they know each other?
Why was she already so mad?
Henrik's eyes widened. Why were they so wrapped up in each other when he and Nik had arrived? They'd completely ignored his presence, and Caroline had just barely looked at him when he'd introduced himself, too busy paying attention to Nik.
And while Henrik could tell that Caroline was a beautiful woman, she'd only been wearing pajamas and her hair was in a ponytail. Still, his brother hadn't been able to take his eyes off of her.
It had taken five years, but maybe Nik had actually found a forever girl. (So what if he had rooted for Aang and Katara the whole time?)
Henrik liked Caroline already.
He poked his niece, and Karen lifted her head from where she was curled up next to him to look at her uncle. "Yes?" she asked sleepily, her brown eyes blinking slowly, almost closing.
"How do you know Caroline, sweetheart?"
"Aunt Caro's my godmother," she replied, snuggling closer to him. He grabbed the blankets that had fallen onto the floor and wrapped them around the two of them, running a hand over Karen's forehead. She was warm to his touch, but she wasn't burning up too much, thankfully.
"Alright, go to sleep now, love," he told her. Karen obeyed with complaint. She wrapped an arm around his waist and shifted so that she could use his stomach as a pillow, pulling the blankets up to her neck. His mind started racing. If Caroline was Karen's godmother, then she would be pretty close to Katherine and Elijah. She'd probably been at the club that night, he realized. What if Nik had met her there?
What if that was why Nik had been mad in the first place? Nik had met a woman he genuinely liked and then he'd seen Henrik. After being reminded of all of the reasons that he'd forgone women over the years, he'd run after his younger brother, effectively ignoring the woman he'd met. Now, of course, she was mad at him. Caroline was beautiful, and quite the opposite of Tatia in the looks department. He didn't know much about her, but if the aroma coming from the kitchen meant anything, she was a good cook.
Tatia had been a horrible cook, he remembered. Nik deserved someone who could take care of him.
It all made sense, and he felt horrible for getting in the way of what could be a really great thing.
He'd have to fix it somehow.
After all, there was nothing that Nik hadn't done for him.
"What are you doing here?" Caroline snapped at him the moment he shut the door. She had gone into the dining room and he had followed her, shutting the door behind him so that the kids couldn't hear. He had a feeling that this conversation was going to mention his therapy, and while he wasn't trying to hide his "treatment" from Henrik, he wanted to tell his brother himself.
"I was here to visit my niece, who has fallen sick, but I think I'm going to have to change my answer to 'fighting with you', Caroline," he said, almost charmingly. The contrast between his words and his tone threw her, but she forced herself to think coherently.
"Dr. Forbes," she snapped, moving to the other side of the table. She was furious at him. Adding that to the fact that she was generally a touchy person, there was a good chance that standing near him would lead to her grabbing a fork or a knife and stabbing him.
She'd definitely lose her license for that.
"We're not in your office," he reasoned, his arms opened. "There's no reason for you to not punch me in the face right now. I can tell you want to."
"Oh, for God's sake, why must you constantly feel the need to punish me for being nice to you?"
He tried to move closer to her, a roguish grin on his face. "I'll be honest, I think it's fun."
Nik didn't, really. He would have liked to be nice to her, but she didn't seem the type to just be happy with whatever information he gave her. He didn't know if it was her profession or her personality, but he couldn't shake the thought that if he gave her his finger, she'd take his hand.
He had to push her away, because if he let her get even a little bit closer than she had been two days ago, during their lighthearted conversation about his home, she'd probably go in for the kill.
And he really couldn't have that.
"You just... you're just pushing people away, and it's ridiculous. Who hurt you so badly that you react like this?" Caroline asked, her eyebrows knitting together. She had that same look on her face that he was trying to avoid, the one that just screamed how much she wanted to help him, so he tried to move closer to her by circling the dining table in an effort to throw her off her guard. She was too fast for him, making her way to the middle of the table. Now they were standing directly across from each other.
"Ah ah ah," he shook his head, smile falling slightly. "You checked your psychiatric bullshit at the door of your office, love."
"It's not bullshit!" Caroline exclaimed, defensive. "It takes a lot of time, effort, and patience to help people through their problems, and trust is a big part of that."
"Yes, yes, and I broke your trust, which is obviously very important to you, and now you want to stab me with your best friend's silverware," Klaus replied conversationally.
"No!" she burst out. Caroline was so angry that he was honestly surprised she hadn't stomped her foot on the ground. But then, he supposed, she wasn't a child. She knew how to act maturely in difficult situations. Her composed behavior was the reason she was standing five feet away from him instead of trying to injure him with a dull knife.
The woman had some serious self-control, he thought to himself as she continued, trying to swallow her anger. The next words out of her mouth were much calmer. "I am hurt because you tricked me. You spent two hours in my office, claiming that you would try and let yourself trust me. You opened up, Klaus, even if all you did was talk about some books you read and the people that annoy you at the office. I was really happy I got to see that sight of you, because it gave me proof that you are actually a good guy-"
"I am a good guy!" he protested. "Why would you ever think otherwise?"
"Are you?" she asked gently, reaching up to run a hand through her hair. "I've met you three times in one week, and every single time you've been rude to me. Yeah, okay, you warm up to me later, kind of, but it still doesn't change the fact that you act like a major asshole the rest of the time."
"I'm pretty sure you can't talk to me like that."
"Yeah, well, it goes both ways. You don't get to be rude to me outside the office just because you think psychiatry is a bunch of bull," Caroline said firmly, her eyes fixed on his. She wasn't glaring at him, but he could tell that she meant business. "Either you keep acting like this and go to another shrink, or you get your act together and let me help you."
"Why so you want to?" he asked. "What is it about me that makes you think, 'yeah, him, I want to help him'? Why bother sticking around for me?"
"It's my job. You came to me because you decided that you needed help. On Tuesday, I saw a man who was reluctant to open up, but who tried anyway! That's why I want to help you, Klaus. You came to me, and I do everything I can to help my patients."
"I tricked you," he said. "You're supposed to be hurt about this."
"I am hurt. You hurt my feelings, and I am extremely mad at you about the fact that you lied to me and then you went ahead and abused my personal relationships to test me. That's what it was, right?" she asked, her tone acerbic. "You wanted to test me to see if I would tell Katherine anything?"
"You didn't, though, so I don't see the problem."
"You don't see the- you don't see the problem? That is really rich coming from a man who has trust issues so deep that the middle of the freaking Atlantic Ocean looks shallow. The problem is that you even believed, for a moment, that I would say anything. I am better than you, Klaus, and I am better than your stupid playground trust evaluations or whatever. I want to help you, I do, but I don't deserve to be treated this way. I am good at my job, and I work hard. You and Katherine had no right to undermine me."
"We weren't trying to undermine you," he defended.
"We'll you did," she said firmly. "So here's the deal: you get on my level, or you leave."
Before Nik could respond, however, there was a knock at the door. He raised his hands in surrender when Caroline looked at him warily, before moving to the door to open it. Henrik stood on the other side, his hands shoved in his pockets. "Sorry to interrupt," he said, looking truly apologetic. "I can just hang out, it's not a big deal."
"No, no, it's fine," Caroline waved his apology away. "What happened?"
Henrik looked at his brother before answering, and Nik raised his eyebrows, tilting his head towards Caroline, as if to say go ahead.
"Karen fell asleep again, so I turned the TV off, too. I should probably be heading back to campus. Are you leaving, too?" Henrik asked Nik. "You haven't even eaten yet."
"Yes," Caroline said, replying for Klaus. Her eyes narrowed at him when he opened his mouth to protest, but his jaw clenched and he nodded curtly to Henrik, signaling his agreement.
"Oh, okay. Cool." Henrik stepped back from the doorway to let his brother out. He looked at Caroline expectantly, clearly thinking that she was going to walk them to the door. She shrugged and followed, watching as Klaus stopped in the living room to drop a kiss onto Karen's forehead.
"You can take the food," she offered, motioning to the two unopened takeout boxes on the front. One carton sat next to it, open and almost empty. Henrik, obviously, had eaten his fill. Klaus, who hadn't, wordlessly picked up what was left and made his way to the door, his brother following in confused silence. He was acting like a reprimanded child, Caroline noted, and the knowledge that she had gotten through to him gave her more than a little satisfaction.
"It was nice meeting you, Caroline," Henrik said to her as they stepped over the threshold. "I hope to see you again soon."
She surprised him by giving him a hug. "You're a good kid, Henrik. It was a pleasure meeting you, as well," she said honestly.
Then she was saying bye to them as she closed the door. He and Nik made their way downstairs, and Nik finally broke the silence once they hit the sidewalk.
"I'm seeing a psychiatrist," Nik said suddenly. She wanted him to get on her level? Oh, he'd get on her level. In fact, he was fairly certain that he could make his own level that would blow her mind.
And yes, he was aware that the metaphor no longer made any sense.
"You're...seeing a shrink? As in, someone to help you deal with..."
Henrik didn't need to say Tatia's name.
"Yes," Nik exhaled slowly, fidgeting as they walked. "The reason Caroline was so angry with me today was because she is my shrink, and I abused her personal relationship with Katherine to enable my own trust issues."
"D'you feel any better?" Henrik asked. It was the only question worth voicing, since Nik's emotional state had been screaming for a therapist for God-knows-how-long. Truthfully, Henrik had been expecting it.
Besides, everyone in New York had a therapist. It wasn't uncommon.
"I've only been once," Nik explained. "And then I used Katherine to test Caroline. I wanted to see if she'd tell Kat anything about the session, but...she didn't."
"That's good though, right?"
"It is, but she didn't see it that way."
"She found out it was a test?"
"That she did."
"Tough luck, brother," Henrik clapped him on the back. "She'll come around eventually, though."
She has to, Henrik thought. She's your forever girl. Right?
A/N:Alright, time for another really long Author's Note! (No, just kidding. Kind of).
Okay, so to those of you that follow me on Tumblr (givemeklaus), I apologize for not having a Sneak Peek up on Wednesday. I wrote the majority of the chapter on Thursday, and then I wrote another 1,000 words last night. The reason I love Briana so much is because she stayed up late editing this so I could have it up on Saturday like I said. I won't be spending much time on the computer today.
In other news, I feel the need to point out that the entire scene with Klaus and Caroline here, that would never happen in the real world. Ever. At all. But it's fanfiction, and I'm sorry, this is my excuse. I hope that Caroline's reasons for being angry make sense to you, and that her friendship with Katherine is believable. My best friend and I rarely fight, but when we do, everyone backs away slowly and disappears until we've stopped.
Anyway, time for your review template! (I don't know why I do these, since I'm horrible at them. But hey, reviews! I am obnoxious about reviews.)
This chapter (sucked/was okay/was really, really good).
I kind of wish Klaus and Caroline made out, but they didn't. Oh well, next time.
Henrik was (lame, ew, cool, super cool).
I (loved/hated) your reference to Avatar! (Kataang/Zutara) 5eva!
As (always/never) your writing (sucked/was okay/was really good).
I can't wait until next time! Update before Saturday, you horrible woman!