DISCLAIMER: I do not own the Vampire Diaries, The Originals nor any of its names/characters/places previously established. They belong to WB Television, The CW, respective creative minds - L.J. Smith, Julie Plec, Kevin Williamson and Caroline Dries [and additional writers]. The rest belongs to, and is copyrighted to me. I write for my own pleasure and enjoyment, not for monetary gain. Copyright © G.M. Portraepic, 2014
"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that."
– Martin Luther King, Jr
For that split second, her life was in his hands. He held it, beneath the surface of that fountain. The subsequent repugnance and remorse for that truth knifed at his heart, in the place where his father's sword had been driven through a thousand years ago.
But he was somewhat impervious to it. He didn't really, fully feel it. He should have.
It had become mechanical; ripping away people's lives as if he were swatting a fly – as if their lives, their existence, meant nothing; as if they were dispensable. That was almost what frightened him most; it was his darkest secret: the fear of being so totally, and utterly lost - so angry, so destroyed – that he couldn't find within himself one shred of humanity. That, should his former self stared at his own reflection – he wouldn't recognise the man before him.
A man without emotional consequence – without remorse, or regret. Without consideration, without compassion...without love.
A spiteful tormenter. A lonely, angry soul.
On occasion, he revolted against the monster he was, but more often than not, revelled in it. This, he did not deny, and would not execrate himself for. The vampire and the werewolf were part of him – and he, a primal man, had always encouraged others of the same species to never suppress their true natures; to appreciate and exercise the liberties being a supernatural afforded them. Slowly, he had convinced himself that was the life he wanted and needed, and in the process, fallen further and further away from the young, loving man he'd once been.
His darkness had grown out of habit. When he'd first taken the life of an innocent, the guilt of such an ordeal had plagued him – tortured him.
Murder had been such an unthinkable sin, and yet…he had done it again.
There had been an undeniable surge of euphoria; to have that power, to control the sway of someone's life in the swipe of a hand – in the twist of a neck, or in the puncture of one's teeth. It had been an addiction; after an entire childhood and young adulthood of abuse from his father – to for once, hold all of the power in his hands – Klaus hadn't been able to separate his hunger for authority, and thirst for blood. Its lethal combination allowed him to be the perpetrator of violence, and not the receptor.
So, despite his natural human pain – despite his remorse, and his regret...unable to deny himself the indulgence, he had killed again.
It figuratively knifed at him every time (it always had) – but it was no longer physically sickened him; he had become immune to its pain. The process had become so monotonous. There was no longer any shock – any agony. He did not feel what should have pained him.
For this inability to love, to resist selfishness, to resist darkness – his soul paid the price.
With every kill – with the magnitude of pain that he inflicted, that sword-wound – that gaping hole inside of him, that reminder of his sins, of his darkness – grew. It had became a great void – a deep abyss; a bottomless chasm, that allowed for no love; no light. It was cancerous, and mutilated any goodness in him.
It was an endless cycle of inflicting, of lashing out – all to escape the pain that such actions created. It was a curse with no end; self-inflicted, and without a cure.
Love was the only cure – but he had accepted a long time ago that he wouldn't be loved. Not by his family, not by friends – and least of all, by his soul's counterpart.
This very night was no exception for his habitual behaviour.
To bury his pain, to bury the sting of betrayal and loneliness, he had retaliated in the only way he really knew how: sacrifice. His fury and impulsiveness had resulted in him killing another person, and as a consequence, he'd orphaned a young man, and destroyed his happiness, in ripping away his only family.
But in order to do that, Niklaus Mikaelson had had to make a sacrifice of his own. True darkness, true revenge – always came with a price. And he had been willing to pay it.
Amidst it all, as he left Carol Lockwood's lifeless body to wither in the waters of the town-square fountain – for the first time in centuries, that repressed pain fought it's way through. He had a conscience; he began to feel.
Because of her.
She, whose happiness he'd had to sacrifice, to exact his revenge.
The one person he knew would turn on him, and wouldn't look back when she discovered the truth; the girl he'd grown to deeply care for – and perhaps even love; someone his actions would infuriate and distress.
Despite once again throwing her world into chaos, despite exposing her distress – despite knowing he didn't deserve her...all Klaus could think about was Caroline Forbes. He didn't deserve her – he knew that...but his thoughts could not be redirected; she was all-consuming.
But he'd made his choice in exacting his vengeance; he'd set himself up for emotional failure on that count.
The empty streets of Mystic Falls offered to no solace for him; for the new burden of remorse he felt. Perhaps, a small part of him regretted taking Carol's life – however, not because he had hurt Tyler (that had been his sole motivation and intention), rather, because he knew that in killing this woman, he would lose Caroline. He'd never had her to begin with, but he'd certainly lose what ever chance he could have had with her.
He knew her forgiveness would not come easily – most likely not at all: because people could forgive pain. But darkness? Spite? The difficulty of pardoning such things could not be measured – for anyone that had morals, for anyone good...pardoning evil was understandably unfathomable.
Klaus hated hurting her. For the first time since Tatia, he genuinely felt for someone. Of course, for what ever short time, he'd had Stefan for a friend – but nothing contested the companionship of a woman. Nothing contested the love and partnership that a romantic relationship afforded.
This woman – this young, beautiful woman bedazzled him. She had caught him completely off guard. Caroline hadn't fallen for him, as numerous others over the centuries had – and he, a man who enjoyed the thrill of the chase, had been drawn to her because he couldn't have her. This magnetic, enchanting girl...hadn't wanted him. God, how it had astounded him; not being able to have something he wanted – not being able to have her.
Or her light.
Caroline was full of light.
Just the thought of her filled him with warmth.
But sensation quickly fled his veins, when the reality of his own actions and impulse settled in. He had to get out of there; he needed to flee from his guilt.
Leaving town, Klaus was in the woods within moments, thereafter finding himself at the ghost of his old home – a place he often came on nights where sleep (or peace of mind) evaded him.
Falling back against the cushion of dead pine needles on the forest floor, he allowed the biting cold to engulf him.
He had just slaughtered all of his hybrids.
All of them. How could he have allowed it to get so out of hand? How had he not seen it? Fucking Tyler, he thought, ungrateful, disloyal mongrel.
Klaus understood how it worked: to break the sire-bond, his hybrids needed to feel like they were no longer indebted to him. They were loyal to him, because in making them half vampire, he'd afforded them a choice; to never face the pain of turning again, unless they wanted to. Therefore, if they wanted to free themselves, they would have to let all of that pain in: they would have to turn, and turn – until the pain became a part of them, and not something that they had been 'liberated' from.
But no being could master that amount of self-discipline – or endure that pain – alone.
Tyler had met Hayley when he was breaking his sire bond. She had helped him through it.
Klaus exhaled sharply. Of course. He felt furious with himself for having overlooked what was right before his eyes; the conniving, bitchy little werewolf had 'helped' all of his hybrids to break their sire bonds to him too.
His stomach churned sickly with a sort of fear, as his new reality sunk in; that they were gone. That that was it. No second line of defence. No backup family.
His heart was too black for anything else; for a real relationship with his real family; such hopes were lost. No one had ever understood why he couldn't let in his blood in; why he couldn't trust them, or even begin to open his heart up to the possibility of rebuilding what they'd once had. No one, except for Caroline.
His heart plunged fearfully in anticipation of her fury and disappointment.
But he forced the guilt away as quickly as it had come.
It didn't matter. She didn't matter – not to him; she shouldn't. She deserved better.
He was a lost cause.
And now, he had no one.
Closing his eyes, he replayed the events of that day. Memories flickered through his mind with the lifespan of a dream; everything fitted into the space of a few seconds.
But try as he so desperately did, his thoughts honed to one person. To one feeling. To one longing.
"Is that our 'thing'?" He had flirted, smiling warmly.
"We don't have the a thing," Caroline had teased coyly.
The way she had smiled at him – played with him. God. His heart jumped like a bird in a cage.
And then stopped altogether.
He sat up in a motion that was so swift, a human would have blinked, and missed it.
Had she been playing him? Not just the facade of harmless teasing; of jesting at both the pageant and Winter Wonderland function.
No; the whole time.
Hayley had helped break Tyler's sire-bond – and, subsequently, all of the hybrids. Klaus himself had unwittingly been quick to assume that her presence in Mystic Falls was the result of an unresolved love-affair in the Appalachia mountains. What if the 'love-affair' he had surmised between the two had been a hoax all along?
Fury boiled in Klaus' stomach. Had Caroline's civil demeanour towards him been nothing more than a means of distraction? – a cover for what her boyfriend and his company had been orchestrating behind his back?
The answer didn't even need further confirmation.
In a rage, Klaus flew back to his manor. Slamming the door behind him, he removed his jacket with such force a sleeve tore off. Hurtling the item of clothing across the foyer, he gripped the sides of his head in torment.
The sole person he had opened his heart to...
And she didn't care.
Of course she didn't.
Shouldn't he have expected as much? He had come to acknowledge the simple truth; that even when he extended the hand of friendship, at the very least – it was was never reciprocated. But that hadn't stopped him from trying – it had been no reason for him to give up, because he knew – he had thought – that she'd felt it too: the connection. He wasn't mad on that count: there was something there; something cosmic, unique. He'd felt it the moment he'd saved her life on her birthday; when her teeth had sunk into his arm; when they'd been connected. It was why he'd taken such an interest to her – why he'd pursued her, why he'd wanted to get to know her. Because he'd felt it. And he was damn sure that she had too, only alternatively, refused to believe it.
Amidst his epiphany, a feeble knock on his front door seemed to echo throughout the whole house. He froze, boiling blood dropping to a simmer, stomach falling to the floor – heart clenching.
Why? He thought frantically. It had to be either coincidence, or a Godsend. Doubtful, his rational mind argued. Sheer happenstance? Most probable.
She was shifting from foot to foot; nerves, impatience or, perhaps, in response to the chill of the night air, he surmised.
Klaus swallowed his fury until it wrestled at the pit of his stomach, and blinked back the hot tears in his eyes. Grasping the knob in a second, within a fraction of a moment, her usually collected, reserved face (now soft with compassion) stared up at him through an unfathomable blue gaze–
–which quickly flickered through a phase of fear when she registered the blood that stained his white shirt front and sleeves.
"I was just thinking about you," he tried to murmur lightly – though his eyes only bore turmoil.
Caroline exhaled unsteadily at his words. "May I come in?" She managed, fingers curling into her palms.
Her voice was soft, but rich; an antidote for his pounding head. God.
Klaus nodded wordlessly, and stepped aside.
His anger had all but evaporated when he shut the door and they stood facing one another in the empty hall.
For a moment, neither said a word.
Klaus broke the ice.
"Why are you here, Caroline?"
To his surprise, she smiled. It was shy – and evidently nervous; she was seemingly at loss for words, but managed to formulate, "To take you up on that offer for a drink." It was an attempt to hearten the atmosphere.
Props to her – but his expression was unchanged.
"Klaus?" Came her gentle voice.
"Why are you here?" He repeated, in a hard tone.
Caroline exhaled. "I…I don't know. I got in the car to drive myself home–" she broke off in her soft laugh – the one that only slipped out when she couldn't make sense of her own words; when she couldn't order her thoughts. Composing herself with a deep breath, she answered quietly, "I was...thinking of you too, and I felt like I needed to…talk to you about…well, that I needed to–"
"I know what you came here to discuss," he interjected.
She pursed her lips; and he saw the brief flicker of fear in her eyes. "You…do?"
He could hear her heart pounding.
"Tyler and Hayley never had an affair; it was a ploy," he deadpanned.
Caroline's eyes seemed to lose some of their colour, when she replied slowly, and carefully with, "No...they didn't. And you're right. It was."
"To mask their little mission to free my hybrids – correct?" He inferred, voice hardening with irritation, and the sting of betrayal.
"Yes," she answered – almost inaudibly; she sounded ashamed of herself.
Klaus' eyes glazed over. "Was any of it real?"
"I...Klaus–" Caroline was caught off guard – genuinely unsure of her answer. For Tyler's sake; for her to upkeep her morals – she wanted to tell him there really was nothing there. But after her conversation with Stefan not even half an hour ago, she found that she was questioning herself.
And it frightened her.
"Why trick me!" He yelled, suddenly gripping the sides of her arms.
She jumped. "I didn't want to hurt you–" was all she could manage, though she felt as though she were lying; and she hated it.
"Why are you here then?" Klaus demanded. "To grovel? To–"
"Jesus, Klaus – apologies don't always have to be about people falling at your knees and begging for mercy!" She shouted heatedly in reply, yanking herself away from his grasp.
He glared. "Then what?"
She brushed passed him, and entered the spacious parlour. "I told you that I came straight from the Salvatore's, right?" She didn't wait for his response. "Stefan and I were talking, and then, he said...–"
"What?" Klaus pressed, now a couple of metres from her again.
"He said that…we're all the same. That we're just like you; that we all do horrible things." She caught his eyes in an unshakeable gaze. "But the only thing that separates you…from us – is that we have friends and family; people that we can count on."
Klaus' emotionless face coloured with anger. "If I don't have anyone – why are you here? To rub it in?"
She took a tentative step forward. "I came here, because after the time we've spent together lately, and I suppose…after the truth behind Stefan's words, I felt like I owed it to you, to tell you the truth. I was feeling...horrible about going behind your back. I'm a good person; I try to do the right thing – and coming here; being honest;...it felt like the right thing to do."
Klaus tore his eyes away from her, and his mouth lifted at one corner in a grim smile. "So your visit had nothing to do with you coming of your own accord; guilt prompted you to apologise? You weren't coming here to apologise for anything else?"
"I don't understand," she murmured, chest beginning to rise in trepidation. "I wanted to come clean with you Klaus–"
"So come clean!" He roared, moving towards her once more. "Tell me if you felt something – anything at all, in these past few weeks. Anything." His face was inches from hers.
Caroline exhaled unsteadily. "Klaus, I–" She stopped in her tracks, when her cell vibrated in her pocket. Meeting Klaus' gaze with a mixture of apology and uneasiness, she answered her phone. "Tyler?" She spoke into the receiver.
Klaus felt sick – foreseeing how the events to come were going to unfold; watching the transformation, as she stepped away to take in what her boyfriend had to say.
"Wh-what?" Her voice barely came out in a croak. "Ty…I'm so sorry. God...I'll be there in a minute. It's okay." She hung up.
"What; no 'I love you's'?" Klaus uttered coldly.
"Argh!" Caroline darted to him, and for a moment, the snap of her hand against the flesh of his cheek was the only sound in the room. "You…son-of-a-bitch! I came to apologise – and what right did you have to be furious with me? The whole time…you…"– she broke off. "You killed Carol? She was innocent." She placed both hands on his chest and shoved, pushing past him. "What is wrong with you?" She stepped back, heaving – eyes wild and round. "God – when does it ever stop? Why can't you just fucking grow up?"
"Caroline," Klaus began, stepping forward.
"No!" Her words sliced his short. "Do you know what your problem is, Niklaus? When someone's done wrong by you, or upset you somehow, it's World War Three; you can unleash a demon – or be a demon, and no one is allowed to question you for it! But if you hurt someone else – or you betray them? It's all fun and games. It doesn't matter. They don't have the right to be upset. And that is why, despite the fact that we all do bad things, we still have people to turn to, and you don't." She back towards the door, chin lifting, shaking her head in disgust – voice lowering. "You push people away, and you don't treat them as equals. Mystical hybrid blood or not, we have feelings too." She flung the door open, swallowing back tears. "And don't make the mistake of thinking that we don't."
The slam of the mahogany door returning to its jamb bounced of the walls like a gunshot.
And Klaus felt the bullet.
A/N: This chapter was originally a one-shot, so it almost feels like more of a prologue in the context of the story; but the whole point of continuing from this point (4x09), is to completely redirect the plot, and shift the focus (obviously) onto Caroline and Klaus (we will absolutely avoid catastrophes like 4x16 and the baby-plot in this fic). Please sound off your thoughts in the box below if you have the time; I'd love to know what you think! :)
NB: Edited [grammar] 03/10/14