A/N: My apologies for not updating on Saturday or Monday, like I said I would.
Henrik doesn't die in this fic.
Thanks to my beta Briana for everything, and also thanks to Leonie, Meghan, Abby, and Mel for making graphics!
Happy reading (:
Caroline didn't realize that she'd been ignoring the Mikaelsons until Klaus walked into her office on Tuesday afternoon. It wasn't an intentional thing, but after the fight with Katherine, she'd subconsciously decided to stay away from any personal drama. As it was, her job was emotionally exhausting. She didn't need to bring up any residual anger around Katherine and start another fight.
Nik hung his suit jacket over the back of his chair as he sat down, rolling up the sleeves to his button-down in the process. Then he loosened his tie.
This was probably going to be a thing, his business clothing, she realized, since Katherine had mentioned that his typical workday ran from eight in the morning to eight in the evening. Last week, he'd come in around lunchtime Tuesday, but Friday had been after work.
"Are these going to be standing appointments now?" Caroline asked him as he put his iPhone into Do Not Disturb mode. "Do you want me to just schedule you in for every Tuesday and Friday for the next month?"
Klaus looked up, moving forward in his chair so he could slip his phone into his pocket. "Am I only going to be in therapy for a month?"
Caroline paused. "Well, I think that depends on you."
"I see," he said, leaning back in his chair. He started to tap his fingers on the arms of his chair, like he'd done in the other sessions. This time, however, the rhythm was slow, almost calming. He wasn't frantically trying to sort through his emotions internally. He was slowly contemplating what his life would be like a month from now, so she let him think.
After a short, relatively comfortable silence, Caroline broached the topic again. "So, standing appointments?"
"I much prefer sitting down," he commented casually.
"...Did you just crack a joke?"
"Was I not allowed to?" Klaus asked, looking around the room. "Is this some sort of torture chamber where no fun can be had?"
"Being flippant doesn't really work with me," Caroline told him as she turned her attention back to her computer. Connor wasn't working today, and the new secretary they'd hired had gone on her lunch break. If Caroline didn't enter Klaus' appointments into the system herself right now, there was a good chance she'd forget to do it at all. Then she'd get booked up and he'd be left without sessions, which wouldn't be good at all. "Just so you know."
"I'm not being flippant, I was just trying to be casual."
"Okay, well I'm your therapist so you don't have to try to be anything with me. You're allowed to just be yourself and tell me whatever it is that you're feeling."
"That's great advice, Caroline," Klaus nodded thoughtfully. She rolled her eyes slightly at the use of her first name, but didn't speak up against it. He'd reached a certain comfort level with her, and she couldn't make everything a battle. Sometimes, Caroline would just have to let the cards fall where they may.
"Thank you," she responded cautiously, unsure of how sincere he was being. This was a different Klaus that she was encountering, one that seemed entirely too wrapped up in his thoughts to realize how rude he was being. Usually, he knew he was being rude, but this? He didn't even realize it. "Now, I've entered you in for the next three weeks; after that, we can mutually decide how much longer you want to continue seeing me."
"How many sessions did Katherine and Elijah sign me up for?"
"Thirty, over the course of fifteen weeks. Honestly, though, it's up to you. If you feel that you're not comfortable with continuing or that you've gotten all you could out of therapy, then we'll discontinue sessions and they will get a full refund."
"Do you think you could give them a refund and just allow me to pay for my own sessions?"
"I- er, yeah, I guess we could do that. But why?"
There were a lot of reasons why. Since his fight with Kol on Sunday, he'd been thinking about his therapy sessions more than he thought he would. Kol had managed to put some things in perspective. Nik had automatically assumed something based off his own previous experiences, but, like Kol had rightly said, Tatia had cheating on him didn't mean that Kol was going to go after a woman who was already with someone. He really had stop relating everything in his life back to his ex-wife, but he needed help in order to do that.
Therapy wasn't going to be some magical experience that just took all of his pain away, but at least Caroline would be able to help him deal with his issues in a healthy way, right? If he was going to be dedicated to this, then why waste Elijah's money? His brother and Katherine had forced him onto this path of "healing", but that was already enough. They didn't have to actually pay for it, as well. He wasn't their responsibility, and it was time that he started taking care of himself.
"I feel like this could actually help me," Nik said quietly, averting his gaze. He didn't know why it was hard to admit to her what he'd already admitted to himself. "They did their part when they talked me into doing this, but it's not their job to make sure I keep coming. It's mine."
Caroline couldn't help the smile that spread across her face. This, right here, was why she loved her job. Since she'd started practicing, there had been patients who had to be convinced to come to therapy, whether by parents, friends, or other loved ones. However, at a certain point, they would all come to recognize how much they could actually overcome if they just had some help. Klaus was coming to terms with this much earlier than she'd estimated, but she couldn't say she was complaining. Now that he was open to talking, there were a lot of issues to work through.
"You mentioned last week that you allow your patients to set the pace, right?" Klaus asked, pulling her back from her thoughts. "They start talking to you depending on how much they trust you at a given point in time."
Caroline nodded. "Basically, yes. Why? How much do you trust me?"
"More than I thought I would," Nik responded. And it was true. He had a hard time trusting anyone, which was to be expected, but Caroline had done nothing but try since he'd met her. Besides, her face was kind and her eyes were bright and she made it seem as if she was actually interested in hearing what he had to say. She obviously knew more about him than what he'd told her, but she had brought none of that up with him. There was also the fact that Katherine had vouched for her to consider. Katherine was fierce and protective of the ones that she loved. Some could consider his relationship with his sister-in-law turbulent, but he knew without a doubt that she always had his best interests at heart. If Katherine had vouched for Caroline, she believed, without a doubt, that Caroline was someone who he should trust and confide in. "Does that surprise you? That I trust you?"
"I try not to be surprised by my patients," Caroline told him. "I don't want them to feel like I'm expecting them to feel a certain way."
"What do you mean?"
"Well, taking you for instance...When you're in my office, you are silent and subdued. You take great pains to monitor what you say and how you behave, except for, of course, your nervous ticks. Sometimes you get agitated, but more often than not, you say what you're comfortable sharing and then you shut down. Right?"
"Not necessarily," Nik countered, not really seeing her point. "I opened up to you about Tatia, didn't I? That goes against what I'd done before."
"Exactly," Caroline said enthusiastically, one arm reaching out toward him in emphasis of her excitement. "You shared with me something that I wasn't expecting you to share with me yet, and that went against what I knew of you so far. But I didn't act surprised, because that would mean that I never expected you to start sharing with me."
Confused, he put his finger up to interrupt her. "Hold on a moment. Let me get this straight. You didn't want me to think that you thought I was never going to share anything, so you acted completely unsurprised when I brought up my dead wife two sessions into therapy."
His tone was slightly acerbic, as if he couldn't believe what the hell was wrong with her. Obviously he didn't appreciate her methods, which was fine, but she wouldn't allow him to treat her like she was stupid. While therapy wasn't about who was in charge, Caroline had to assert her dominance. This push-and-pull dynamic they had was getting damn annoying, she thought to herself, and she'd only known him a week. Klaus was getting too comfortable with the knowledge that she wouldn't pry, but he had to learn that she was going to ask him difficult questions that he was going to be expected to answer.
"Klaus." Caroline met his gaze. "I don't need to explain my methods to you, okay? I just need you to trust me when I say that I have your best interests at heart. You are my patient, and you are here to talk to me about yourself and your issues. At no point in this am I going to be putting expectations on you."
Her tone was soft but firm, and Nik could tell that she was trying to tell him that she was in charge. He could understand that, considering she was his therapist, but what he couldn't understand how the conversation had even gotten to this point. "I think we're talking about two different things now," Nik pointed out. "And that's alright. It's also okay that you expect me to behave a certain way, Caroline, because that's what people do. They expect things of each other."
"Did Kol not meet your expectations?" Caroline blurted out before she could help herself. Her eyes widened and she slipped both of her hands over her mouth as he stared at her in disbelief. She wasn't supposed to say anything, dammit! She was supposed to be unbiased and act as if she didn't know anything about his personal life at all. When she had spoken to Henrik at brunch, he had mentioned that his brothers had looked a little strained when they went off to go have their chat. She wasn't supposed to mention that to Klaus, though.
If he had fought with Kol, and that was a big if, considering how close the Mikaelsons were, then she had just committed a huge error. Then again, the Mikaelsons were extremely internal with their issues. It was entirely possible that Klaus had fought with Kol, and she had crossed her own line by mentioning it.
"I am so sorry," Caroline said slowly, blinking frantically, as if her eyes could apologize in Morse code. "I did not mean to bring that up, I swear. Henrik just said that he saw the two of you go off and talk about something internal, and you guys looked a little angry before I walked over there... I'm the last person who would want to try and-"
He clenched his arms. Despite the fact that he wanted to lash out at her for prying, the rational side of him told him that it wasn't her fault. It was due to the circumstances, Nik knew, it wasn't like Caroline was going out of her way to use his family to find out what he wasn't telling her. Henrik had been left alone and Caroline probably thought she was being nice by having a conversation with the teen. Besides, Henrik was an intelligent teenager with enough common sense to know what not to tell his brother's psychiatrist.
"Caroline, it's alright," Nik interrupted her, slowly exhaling. He uncurled his fists until his hands were flat against the arms of his chair. "It's fine. I knew what was going to happen if we met outside of the office, and if I remember correctly, I was the one who encouraged it."
"I'm really sorry," she said again.
"It's fine. Drop it, please," he said. "Actually, I did want to talk to you about something."
"By all means," Caroline said, folding her hands onto the desk in front of her.
"Right. Well, see, I did have a fight with Kol."
"And it was a bad fight," she stated.
"How do you figure?"
"You guys are close," Caroline shrugged. "That kind of bond only comes with arguing a lot and getting over it. The fact that you're still thinking about it, though, means that this was something relatively big and you feel guilty about bringing it up with him, whatever 'it' was."
Klaus stared at her in confusion. "How do you possibly know all of that?"
"Kol called me and told me that he wanted me to take my job extremely seriously and make sure that I helped you overcome your issues, because you deserved better than what you have. He kind of implied that your talk on Sunday was bad enough that you were forced to tell him that you have a shrink."
"Oh, for fuck's sake!"
"He was just trying to be a concerned brother and a good friend and he didn't say anything else. Neither did I," Caroline said, holding her hands out in front of her as she tried to calm Klaus down. Klaus had a very rational fear that her regular interaction with his family would cause some information to be revealed before he was comfortable, but as far as possible, she would try to avoid that. "I mean, I told him that I wasn't going to talk about you to him, but that was basically it."
"Everyone has this misconception that I don't want to trust anyone. That's not it, Caroline. My ability to trust has actually just disintegrated. When someone asks me to trust them, it's like I get this feeling in my bones to just run far, far away. I want to be able to give people the benefit of the doubt, and rationally I know that not everyone in this world is out to get me. But mentally...it's just hard to believe that people can be better, you know?"
"I know. And this leads back to your fight with Kol?"
"This leads back to my fight with Kol," Nik confirmed, slouching down in his chair. He rested his head on the back of his chair and gazed at the ceiling, a position that was becoming the norm for him when he spoke about difficult situations. He found that it was easier to pretend he was in the room alone, talking to himself, rather than think about the fact that there was an actual person sitting in front of him, someone who could remember everything he was saying and then use it against him later on. He fought the urge to run as he inhaled deeply before continuing. "My fight with Kol stems from my issues with Tatia."
This confused Caroline. Kol was his brother, someone who had a strong bond with Klaus. She didn't know much about their relationship individually, but she knew the family was, overall, closer than most. Still, any fight that Klaus had with Kol didn't have any rational connection to Tatia. Klaus' trust issues with the rest of the world stemmed from the fact that Tatia had wronged him, but he had no problems believing in his family.
What was the connection there?
Before she could ask, he'd effectively tabled that conversation by sitting up straight and looking her in the eye.
Klaus shook his head and ran a hand through his messy, dark blonde curls as he spoke, his words confirming her thoughts. "That's about enough emotional chit chat for today, I'm afraid."
Caroline bit her lip, deciding how to respond. Klaus was still slightly vulnerable, and she was sure that if she pressed a little bit harder, he'd start talking some more. He had made some serious progress today, though, and she didn't want to ruin this streak. If he was going to share a little at a time then so be it.
"You're killing me, you know that, right?" she teased him, letting the topic slide.
"I'll believe it when you're actually dead, Caroline," Klaus responded quickly, a small smile on his face. He seemed grateful for the change of topic. It was an expression of relief that she was familiar with, since most of her patients gave her some variation of that look after a particularly emotionally exhausting conversation with her.
"Damn it, and here I was, starting to think that you liked me just a little bit," she laughed, holding up the thumb and forefinger of her right hand with only an inch of space between them. She shook her head, curls bouncing against her neck. "Not even a little bit?"
"Maybe about half of that. Maybe."
"Aw, thanks, Klaus!"
Nik's talk with Caroline spurred him into calling Kol and persuading his younger brother into meeting him. Kol, luckily, was just as angered as Nik himself, and quickly agreed to meeting for lunch on Wednesday. Nik offered to let his brother choose the place, considering he'd been more horrible and less justified than Kol during their fight. Plus, Kol was a certified restaurateur. Nik figured that unless his brother was feeling particularly vindictive, they'd both be treated to great food. After all, nothing helped speed along the resolution to a feud between brothers like genuinely delicious food, right?
Kol clearly didn't think so, since he asked Nik to meet him at a hot dog cart outside Central Park, across the street from the Plaza Hotel. He was already there, hands shoved in the pockets of his black trench coat, when Nik arrived, twenty minutes past noon. There was a little bit of ketchup left over on his face, signaling that he had clearly already eaten. Either he'd missed a spot while he was wiping his face, or he'd purposely left some ketchup there as a telltale sign that he was snubbing his brother.
"Honestly, Kol?" Nik greeted crabbily, pulling out his wallet. He turned to the cart owner and placed his order, before turning back to his already impatient brother. "First you decide to meet me for lunch at a hot dog cart, and then you eat lunch before I get here just so you can piss me off."
Kol raised his eyebrows and put his forefinger in the air, directly in Nik's line of vision. "Please don't insult New York City's hot dog carts. Don't judge what you don't know, Nik."
"Fine," Nik said gruffly, reaching out to push Kol's finger down. "I just don't see why you couldn't wait for me before you ate. We were supposed to eat lunch together."
Kol shrugged unrepentantly. "I was hungry. What can I say?" He gave Nik a smile that wasn't really a smile, eyes glinting with anger and another, unidentifiable, emotion. "In case you didn't know, my anger at you isn't just going to go away if you buy me a hot dog. I'm not Henrik. Or Bekah."
"No, you're a little too tall to be the first and too feminine to be the second," Klaus said, nodding to the cart owner as he took his hot dog. He slipped his wallet back into his pocket, and, ignoring Kol's impatient huff, bit into his lunch instead. He swallowed, commented to himself, "Too much relish. Bloody Americans," all the while still ignoring Kol.
"I don't think that's an American thing at all, actually. Maybe it's just you having another misconception about the world around you."
"Kol, I apologized to you already," Nik sighed. He had, hadn't he? As soon as he realized that he had misconstrued the entire scenario, he had apologized to Kol and confessed to seeing a shrink. He had practically bared his soul to his brother, and yet Kol was somehow still mad at him.
"It's funny how that isn't enough for me, isn't it? I mean, everyone always thought Bekah was the needy one," Kol said offhandedly. So offhandedly, in fact, that it took Nik a moment to realize that his brother was being self-deprecating. "In reality, it's me. I'm the needy one. Can't be left out of the family, Kol, so go ask for financing from Mikaelson-Pierce. Can't be left out of the group, Kol, so invite all of Katherine's friends to hang out at your club. Don't want to be without love forever, Kol, so go ahead and fall for your best mate's girl."
"He's your best mate?" Nik asked in surprise. There was an age difference between his brother and Jeremy Gilbert, he knew, and the boy was a surgical resident. At this stage in Jeremy's career, he was practically married to his job, never mind the fiancée that Kol was half in love with. There was no time to establish friendships outside of his line of work.
"He's sure as hell not my worst mate," Kol answered, tilting his head toward Nik. "Right now that would be you."
Kol started walking away from Nik, towards one of the sidewalks that led into Central Park. He didn't wait for his brother to follow, but Nik did anyway. The conversation wasn't over. If anything, it had barely begun, and the two brothers needed to sort this out right now. Nik was trying, and he needed Kol to see that.
"Kol, wait!" Nik called out to his brother, walking rapidly to try and catch up. He closed the distance between them in a handful of seconds, Kol having stopped at the sound of his name, and reached out to put a hand on Kol's shoulder. "I'm sorry."
"That's nice, Nik."
"I'm sorry for assuming things that weren't true."
Kol tilted his head to one side, an expression of indifference on his face. Nik knew this look. This look was the look that Nik had hated since he was seven-years old and tried to apologize to a then-four-year-old Kol for accidentally pushing him down the stairs. A simple apology hadn't worked then and it sure as hell wouldn't work now.
"You are a far better man than I will ever be," Nik said stiffly, forcing the words out. He shoved his hands in his pockets and looked down at the ground, just so he could avoid seeing the look of pure, unadulterated joy on Kol's face. The apology would be accepted, if only because it was the most genuine apology that Nik had ever given his younger brother.
"Thank you, Nik. And, also, how attractive am I?" Kol baited his brother.
"...Kol, honestly, you are about as attractive as Eddie Remayne or whatever his name is. Far too many freckles on your face to lure in any worthy female."
The insult didn't seem to faze Kol, who thought that Eddie Redmaynewas particularly handsome himself. He simply picked at a few pieces of non-existent lint on his trench coat as he responded to his brother, projecting an image of nonchalance. "Eddie Redmayne, you'll find, is actually quite attractive to the women."
"How many women do you talk to about celebrity males?" Nik asked incredulously. He motioned for his brother to start walking, which Kol did, and then followed. They started to make their way into the park, for once not caring where they'd end up. Maybe if they were lucky, they'd see the zoo, Nik thought. Kol would get to meet some of his kind.
Kol shrugged. "Karen, sometimes. You know, she's really quite precocious for a four-year-old, I don't think I was that intelligent at her age."
"I don't think you're that intelligent now."
Kol continued as if Nik hadn't spoken. "Bekah is very involved in the lives of celebrities, and you'd be surprised to know that it's a trait she shares with Katherine and Caroline, as well."
Nik perked up, instantly interested in the conversation. "You...talk to Caroline about stupid, insignificant things?"
"We're friends," Kol said seriously, the sarcastic tone disappearing from his voice. "She and I have a pretty decent relationship, I'd like to think. But, I think that apart from Rebekah and Katherine, she's closest to Stefan. I don't know what the history is there but Rebekah's okay with it, and I'm not particularly prone to drama. Don't like sticking my nose where it doesn't belong, you know?"
"No, of course not," Nik said easily, a small smile on his face. "I never actually thought of Caroline as a person, though."
"You're right. She does look very much like a robot."
"That's not what I meant, Kol," Nik said, rubbing his hand over his mouth as he contemplated how to explain his thought process. Caroline was his therapist, and while he'd thought she was beautiful when they'd first met, he had started to think of her as someone who was only around to help him. Rationally, he knew that she had a personal life. He knew she had friends, probably a loving family, things to do on a Friday night, but he hadn't realized that the people who made up her social circle were his family. She'd come to dinner on Friday night, but that was a much smaller group than the one present at brunch. Even though he'd seen her outside of the office a few times, he still saw her as only his therapist. It struck him as odd to think that Kol was one of her friends. Speaking of...
"What did you mean?"
"You're her friend, and you're my brother. I only see Caroline as someone who I'm supposed to talk to, you know? She is someone who is supposed to help me, whereas you are someone that she's allowed to have fun with. She's paid to spend time listening to me drone on and on about my life, but she probably enjoys getting to hang out with you."
"Of course not," Nik brushed the accusation aside with a shake of his head. "I've already told you I don't have eyes for Caroline. My strange behavior on Sunday was attributed to the fact that-"
"She's your therapist, yes, whatever, but the fact of the matter is that she is a beautiful woman and I just don't want you to get distracted from what your purpose is."
"I know she's a beautiful woman, Kol. I've already told her that, but that's not the point- Wait, hold on, is that why you called her and told her to do her job properly or whatever bullshit it was that you spewed at her?"
"She told you about that?"
"Caroline and I are trying to establish rules to minimize the her intrusion into my private life."
"She's your shrink, Nik. I think it's safe to assume that she should be intruding everything." Then, realizing that his words held a double innuendo, Kol added hastily, "But don't actually intrude her..."
"Oh, for God's sake, Kol!"
"You just said that you've already told her you think she's beautiful! Besides, the woman isn't blind. You're a Mikaelson, Nik, and we have very fortunately been blessed with some truly amazing genes. I mean, in all honesty, the two of you will probably fall into bed together at some point. Just don't, you know," Kol gestured wildly into the air in front of him. "Don't let it happen while you're her patient because then she'll hate you forever."
Nik didn't have to ask Kol to explain. Disregarding the fact that he didn't even want to sleep with Caroline, he knew that doing so while he was her patient would lead to her losing her license, blaming him for the fact, and then probably cutting off ties with everyone that they both mutually knew. He would be the first person on everyone's hit list, and life would be a bigger mess than it already was.
Having realized all of this, he kept silent as they continued walking throughout the maze of pathways within Central Park. Kol glanced at him once in a while, probably to see if it was safe to start a conversation, but neither of them spoke until they eventually ended up at the Central Park Zoo. Nik vaguely wondered how much time he'd spent out of the office at this point, under the guise of lunch break, but as Kol handed over two twenties to the lady at the ticket counter, he found that he didn't really care.
Kol accepted his two dollars in change, pocketed his wallet, and handed Nik one of the two tickets, gesturing to the entrance of the zoo. "Shall we return you to your home, brother?"
For the first time all day, Nik cracked a smile, thinking back to the similar thoughts he'd had about Kol as they'd been walking. "I was actually thinking that about you earlier," he said, slinging an arm around Kol's shoulder. "I figured maybe you'd find some of your kind here."
"Some of my kind is here, Nik. You," Kol said. With that, he smoothly slid out of Nik's hold and walked forward, hiding the smile on his face.
The siblings were all incredibly close with Henrik, who they had made a point to keep in contact with after their parents died. Rebekah, too, was close to all of her brothers. She reminded them every chance she got that she was their only sister, and, as such, should be treated with respect. They didn't give it to her, but they showered her with love nonetheless, albeit unconventionally, in the form of teasing her about her cases, her complicated relationship status, and the size of her reasonably spaced SoHo apartment.
His relationship with Nik, though, was complicated. They'd gotten along well enough when they were younger, but they'd grown apart once Nik had moved out to go to university. Later on, Kol had come to study in the US, eventually deciding to stay, but it was only after Tatia's death that the two brothers had actually tried to remedy their near-estrangement. Neither of them were used to talking about their feelings, but Kol figured that Nik was in therapy now. Having a psychiatrist meant that Nik would start opening up and letting go of some of his anger, but it was also supposed to lead to more communication between patients and the important people in their lives.
And damn it all to Hell and back, he was one of the most important people in Nik's life.
"We've done quite a bit of sharing today, haven't we, Kol?"
"It's been a long time coming, brother. It's been a long time coming."
They walked through the park, talking aimlessly about stupid, insignificant things like how irritating Katherine was when the girls were sick, how fun it was to tease Henrik about the girls in the dorms, and the rapid increase in business that 21 Club was dealing with nowadays. Kol's success was purely his own at this point. He had paid off his investors, Mikaelson-Pierce, principal, interest, and all, and was now reaping in the benefits of being a successful restaurateur and club owner. Their conversation eventually circled back around to women, two in particular. "Are you sure you don't want to sleep with Caroline?"
Nik, with growing irritation, growled in response. "Yes, Kol, I do not want to sleep with my therapist."
"Ah, but see, that's not what I asked. I asked you if you wanted to sleep with Caroline, not your therapist."
"They are one and the same!"
"No, they're not. Caroline is an actual person with feelings, hopes, goals, and dreams. She has a life, she has friends, and she even has family who really cares about her. Also, she has really nice legs."
Uncomfortable with both the topic and the amount of fun Kol was having at his expense, Nik swiftly changed the subject by probably using the most awkward segue of his life. "Do you want to sleep with Bonnie, then? Is that how those feelings started?"
Instantly, Kol grew serious. He bowed his head slightly and shook a finger in front of Nik's face, indicating that he wasn't going to talk about that subject. He'd walked into that trap three days ago at Sunday brunch, and that wasn't a mistake he was willing to commit again.
"We're not talking about Bonnie," Kol said, his tone final. His jaw clenched and he exhaled deeply, effectively shutting himself off.
Nik couldn't help but wonder if this was how he behaved in his sessions with Caroline when she brought up Tatia. It was frustrating, he thought, to have the person you were talking to completely shut you out because they didn't trust you enough to tell you. He could finally understand where Caroline's anger was coming from, but he felt partly justified in his own actions, considering that Caroline had been a perfect stranger to him before he'd walked into her office, disregarding their brief, awkward, meeting at the club that night. Kol, on the other hand, was his brother, his own flesh and blood. Trust issues should not be a problem here.
And yet they had been on Sunday when he had accused Kol of starting something with an unavailable woman.
Caroline had asked him yesterday whether Kol had met his expectations or not. Truth was, Kol had. Kol had exceeded expectations, Nik thought, when he had rightly pointed out that loving someone, or, at least, feeling whatever the hell he did for Bonnie, didn't mean that you knew what was best for them. That Kol had even managed to think like that was impressive.
Just as he opened his mouth to say as much, however, he saw a familiar figure out of the corner of his eye. Bonnie, surrounded, presumably, by a group of her students, was standing in front of the Sea Lion Pool. Kol hadn't seen her yet, he was too busy fiddling with his phone, but Nik nudged his brother just as Bonnie looked up and saw them. She muttered something to her students before starting to walk their way.
Kol froze when he saw Bonnie walking towards them, turning to his brother with wide eyes and a confused expression. "What the fuck do I even say?"
"I dunno, something that doesn't let her know that you're in love with her?"
"I am not in love with her," Kol whispered furiously through barely moving lips, resisting the urge to stomp on Nik's foot when Bonnie was only five feet away.
Nik ignored him, choosing to greet the approaching object of Kol's affections instead. "Hello, Bonnie."
"Klaus," she said with a small smile, nodding her head at him. "Kol."
"Bonnie! I wasn't expecting to see you here today."
"Oh, yeah," she shrugged, biting her lip. "The professor who was supposed to take his class on this little field trip fell sick, so they asked the department to provide a sub. I don't have any lectures on Wednesday, so I was the most obvious choice."
"Why didn't they just cancel?" Nik asked, gazing over the group of rowdy teenagers. Most of them were fiddling with iPhones or humming along to the music they were listening to, but none of them actually looked interested. "I don't really think any of them are paying attention."
"They have their first exam based on the information they've learned on this little foray into the real world," Bonnie explained. "It's a freshman zoology class. The zoo was really good at giving us discounted tickets, so..."
Nik would hardly consider a foray to the Central Park Zoo an experience in the 'real world', whatever that meant, but he couldn't say that for fear of another fight with Kol. Contrary to the image he projected, he did actually care about his family, and he much preferred being on good terms with them to fighting over emotionally exhausting issues.
He watched Kol and Bonnie talk for another few minutes before realizing something, and made a feeble excuse to the two of them before walking a few feet away. He pulled his phone out of his pocket as he walked. Katherine picked up within three rings and dove into conversation without even saying hello.
"Do you realize that you've been out of the office for three and a half hours on lunch break?" she didn't wait for him to respond before continuing so quickly that he wondered how she had time to even breathe. "You are so lucky that I was in a meeting until five minutes ago, because I called your office the second I got out and your assistant told me you weren't in yet, and I was furious. I have literally held off on calling you because I didn't want to start ranting the moment you picked up the phone, but this is ridiculous, Nik, not to mention completely unlike you."
"I-sorry, I went on a lunch break with Kol."
"I don't even fucking care, you do that on your own time, okay, not on my time. If I had known...I swear to God, Nik, you better get your ass back to the office in ten minutes or I will come after you."
"Katherine, can you just hold on a moment, alright? We are equals, so you can't talk to me like this. Furthermore, I do my job and I do it damn well, so don't you dare even insinuate that-"
"No more two hour lunch breaks," Katherine interrupted him, her voice stony. "You get an hour every day for lunch, except on Tuesday. You're going to have to clear your sessions with Caroline through Human Resources. You can file it under Medical Leave, yeah? They won't particularly care, as long as you work your regular schedules the rest of the time. Since psychiatry isn't covered under the company health plan, it's out-of-pocket, which means HR can't do shit."
"Stop bulldozing me, Katherine," Nik said. "I can appreciate your position in a corporate setting, but I actually wanted to talk to my sister-in-law right now."
She was silent for a few moments, during which Nik looked around the open area and fixated his gaze at Kol and Bonnie. They were still chatting, and the dark-haired woman was laughing at something his brother said. There was a sinking feeling in his stomach that had less to do with Kol than it did Bonnie. It was fine that the two of them were friends, but Kol was being blinded by his feelings, whatever they were, and Bonnie didn't seem to be helping matters by stringing him along. Whether it was intentional or not, he didn't know, but Kol was his younger brother.
Family above all.
Katherine was thinking along the same lines, apparently, since she sighed and softened the tone of her voice. "Okay, what did you call me for?"
"I want Caroline's number."
"Oh, God, no," she laughed. "Did you not learn your lesson the last time?"
"The last time was a blatant manipulation," Nik justified, shaking his head. "This is different."
"To you, maybe. First of all, I don't even know if she thinks that you should have her number. Second of all, maybe she needs to give it to you herself with instructions regarding when it's even okay for you to call her. Third of all, the last time, she told me, none too kindly, that I was enabling you and getting in the way of your doctor-patient relationship. She accused me of choosing you over her, and I don't really want to have another fight with Caroline just because you asked me for a favor and I gave in. So no, I'm not giving you her number. Wait until your next session and then talk to the professional herself!"
"Katherine," he reasoned. "Come on, just give it. I need to tell her something, she's not going to object to my actually opening up and wanting to talk to her."
This talk with Kol had been a big wake-up call, and he wanted to get Caroline's opinion about what it meant. She seemed to know what she was talking about up until now, so there was no reason not to trust her judgment.
"No can do, Klaus. Also, your timer starts now, so if I were you, I'd catch a subway in the next three minutes and get the hell back to work."
Having said her piece, Katherine hung up without another word, leaving Nik to stare at his phone in disbelief.
Nik knew she always behaved differently with family during business hours, she had warned him, but this was ridiculous. Either way, though, he had to get back to work. He quickly sent a text to Kol explaining the situation before literally running down the pathway to the closest park entrance. He found the nearest subway station in three minutes, but it took him another eight to figure out which train to take and where to get off. By the time he got back to the office, another half an hour had passed.
He figured it would probably be a good idea to memorize a map of Manhattan sometime this weekend.
A/N: Someone asked me if Henrik was going to die in this fic. Nope. No one else is going to die in this fic. Tatia, Esther, and Mikael already have, but that's it.
I hope none of you thought that Kol was too OOC. In the show, I know his interesting/intelligent side has only surfaced in the past three episodes, but I always figured that Kol was a little more intelligent than his siblings let on. Due to the events of 4x12, I shall be writing a lot more of Kol in this fic because you know what, I want to. And it'll fit into the storyline, too, I promise.
Thank you all for all of your wonderful support. I warn you that school starts this Monday and I am one of those obnoxious people who finds Bs unacceptable. Plus, I'm at a community college so I'm extremely worried about transferring to a four-year. This fic will still be a priority, it just won't be as important to me as it was during my six weeks of winter holiday. If, at any point, the Saturday updates stop, I'll warn you guys beforehand, I promise. Just in case, follow me on Tumblr. I am sassyklaroline, and sometimes I liveblog when I write rofl.
Special thanks to plainmyths on Tumblr who reviewed all seven chapters of Therapy yesterday and brought up my review count because she wanted to do something nice for me after that episode. Vivian is awesome, guys! Go welcome her to fandom.
Abby, there will be some Henrik/Caro next chapter, just for you.
Tanya said my review templates were asking too much of you guys, so I'm gonna try and simplify. Sorry for having to read through my horribly long Author's Notes.
Why the hell did it take you so long to update? You're supposed to update on Saturdays!
The Klaroline was (boring/eh/ehhhhh/eh eh eh/okay/not half-bad/good/really good).
Your Kol characterization was (spot-on/puh-lease that is the opposite of Kol) (and/but) I (liked/hated/didn't care about) reading about him. I can't believe what happened in that episode, (since/even though) I (love/hate) Kol.
Oh look, Kennett!
GIVE US MORE KLAROLINE, WOMAN!