Please don't hate me until you read my note at the end of the story! It broke my heart to write this, but it isn't that bad, I promise! Also, I've changed a few details from the show to suit the needs of this story.
"So you were never a saint,
And I loved in shades of wrong..."
"And how do you know of it?" Klaus asked, suspicion rising at the brother who had been MIA since Klaus's fake death.
Klaus wasn't bitter that Elijah never bothered to call and say, 'I'm glad you're not permanently dead.' No, he just wondered what happened to 'family above all.'
Elijah raised an eyebrow in amusement. "Just because you have given up on hunting Katerina, now that another woman has caught your eye," he said, shifting his gaze on to Caroline, "doesn't mean I have."
Klaus growled at Elijah's tone toward Caroline, causing Elijah to look back at him. "If you cannot speak of her with respect, do not speak of her at all, Elijah."
"Oh, no disrespect intended," Elijah immediately clarified. Walking up to Caroline, he waited patiently with his hand outstretched.
Looking at Klaus questioningly, Caroline hesitantly placed her hand in Elijah's strong but gentle grasp. Her eyes grew as he bent to kiss the back of her hand. This happens in movies.. to women like Scarlett O'Hara or Elizabeth Bennet. Not to me. Not to Caroline Forbes…
"I have nothing but the utmost respect and an unparalleled admiration of Miss Forbes, the woman who brought out the man in you, Niklaus, that I had believed died when we did," he said straightening his elegant form.
Seriously, who spoke like that anymore? It's kind of… hot. With these thoughts running through her mind, Caroline could not form words to respond. But Elijah wasn't done.
"You have renewed my hopes in my brother. I may have been away, but I have kept tabs on this town, particularly on my family. Your role in their behavioral change has not escaped my notice," he said, causing Caroline to blush at his old school charm. "I apologize for the part my siblings have played in your recent distress. However, I assure you they will never harm you again."
Not liking the wondrous look Elijah was putting in Caroline's eyes, Klaus came up behind her and pulled her back, away from Elijah's hold to rest against his chest. "I have taken care of it. Do not worry yourself over Caroline. She is not your concern," Klaus said with a menacing look in his eyes that Caroline couldn't see.
But Elijah did, causing his quiet amusement to grow exponentially. Caroline however was not amused.
"Um, excuse me," Caroline said, twisting away from Klaus so she could glare at him for his high-handed manner. Apparently he forgot I'm still mad at him!
"I get that you're the 'alpha-male,' or whatever, but you're brother's not your little bitch, and neither am I!" Caroline exclaimed, stabbing her finger into Klaus's chest in anger.
"Elijah was just being nice, so you can either appreciate him for it, like I do," she said turning to smile at Elijah, "or you can leave with your bad attitude and come back when you've exchanged it for something reasonable!"
Klaus narrowed his eyes at Caroline, not liking having anyone question his authority, but Caroline met him glare-for-glare.
"Well, I see you've met your match, Niklaus. May I congratulate you for picking a stunner?" Elijah said, cutting the tension between the two.
"What you can do, Elijah," Klaus said swinging his angry gaze on him, "is tell me what you know of Katerina."
Raising his eyebrows Elijah glanced at Caroline before looking back at Klaus. "You don't mind an audience?"
Klaus leveled his gaze back on Caroline. "Whatever you need to say to me can be said in front of her. I trust her," he added, more for her benefit than Elijah's.
Caroline accepted this statement and let go of the anger that had been building inside her. This was just Klaus's way of reiterating how much he had given in to her. Caroline could accept that. For now.
"So what do you know?" Klaus asked turning back to Elijah.
Getting back to business at hand, Elijah started, "I've learned that Katerina has found herself a hunter, one of the Five. I hear Jeremy Gilbert is one as well?"
"You hear right," Caroline answered, still upset that yet another one of their friends had to be supernatural.
"Well, this is an accomplished hunter. He has nearly completed his mark and the second it is done Katerina will move in to take the cure and use it to get her revenge on you, Niklaus. A human Klaus will be no threat to her."
"How did she come by a hunter so easily? We have seen no sign of them for centuries and now we know of two?" Klaus asked.
"I believe Katerina is working with a werewolf, Hayley. My informant tells me she was here in Mystic falls. She seems to have all the information Katerina needs."
A low sound escaped from Caroline's throat at the mention of Hayley's name. As Elijah spoke, Klaus looked over at her, wondering if the little wolf still made her jealous of the chemistry she had with Tyler.
"We need to find the cure before her, lest she use it on you or all of our family, as we have been the reason she has been running for 500 years."
Looking up at this, Caroline turned to Klaus. "Klaus, we need to get that cure for us… for Elena. We can't let Katherine get her hands on it."
Klaus studied Caroline, debating just how clean he'd need to come about what he had learned from Kol's tip about the sword. Coming to a decision, he told Caroline, "call your friends. I have some information they might like to hear."
"I must say, I never expected to get another invitation back here. Not after the last two times I was here," Damon said as he came in and dropped down on the nearest couch.
Smacking down the boots he propped up on the table, Caroline scolded, "you probably don't deserve one. And unless you want to have an angry Klaus on your hands, I suggest you behave. He really doesn't like you!"
Smirking up at her, Damon teased, "I'm an acquired taste."
"Damon…" Elena chided from where she stood eyeing Stefan and Rebekah.
Damon threw up his hands as if to say, sorry, I'll stop.
Stefan rolled his eyes, annoyed with his brothers antics, and asked Caroline, "so what does Klaus want from us?"
Caroline opened her mouth to answer, but a reply came from the doorway, "Nothing."
Everyone's eyes swung to Klaus walking in with the hunter's sword in his hands. "I have no need of any of you. I only called you all here as a favor to you... to all of you in the race for the cure."
Placing the sword on a table, Klaus looked around the room. "Where's your witch-friend and the hunter?"
"They're working on controlling his urge to kill vampires. Particularly me," Elena explained.
"Hmm. I suppose you dying would be a pity. But moving on… I called you here because my brother Kol brought to light something I had not counted on in regards to the cure… something that may have you changing your minds on whether you want to continue to pursue it or not."
Picking up the sword again, Klaus continued, "Elijah has connections. He has gone to find the descendant of the witch who created the Five to confirm my suspicions."
"Suspicions? What suspicions?" Stefan asked.
"Yeah, not that I'm not a fan of suspense, but can you please forward to the part where this becomes relevant to me?" Damon interjected from his place on the couch.
Klaus smiled, "It's about to become very relevant. You see, there's a part of the sword I hadn't noticed," he said, peeling away the soft leather at the hilt.
"A cryptex," Caroline said staring at the sword.
As everyone turned to stare at her, Caroline looked up and shrugged, "what? I've seen The Da Vinci Code!"
Klaus studied her with a mix of admiration and amusement. Always more than meets the eye.
"Yes, well, this 'cryptex' explains far more about this cure than the hunter's mark."
"What's all the markings?" Stefan asked, puzzled as to how someone could read it.
Rebekah stepped towards Klaus to study the sword. Looking up at Klaus, she said, "It's Aramaic."
"What's Aramaic?" Elena asked.
"It's a dead language," Rebekah answered, still looking at Klaus, "one that we speak quite fluently."
Nodding his head, Klaus continued, "yes, being around for so long certainly has its advantages. I was able to translate it, and I've learned something which impacts you all. There is only one cure. One dose."
Tension covered the room like a thick blanket. Everyone eyed each other, trying to decide how they could get it for themselves. Caroline narrowed her eyes at Klaus who seemed to be enjoying the anxiety spreading throughout the others.
"There's something else… what else do you know?"
Klaus shot her a look, as if to say, you're ruining all the fun, but answered, "here's the part you will like even less: the witch or the hunter will die getting to the cure."
"What?! That can't be the only way…" Caroline said in disbelief.
"Oh, but it is. Kol was right. The cure is buried with Silas. To get it we'll need to sacrifice the witch or the hunter to him. Think of it as a payment of sorts."
"There's no other way?" Elena asked desperately.
"Unfortunately none that I am aware of," Klaus said, sparing her a look. "If you do not believe me, Elijah will be back soon enough to back up my claims.
For a minute, everyone went quiet, trying to absorb the impact of what they had learned.
Then, Elena sat down next to Damon and cupped his face in her hands. "Listen, I know you wanted this for me, and I appreciate it, but this is who I am now. This is who I'm going to be. I love you and you might think it's the sire bond or whatever, but I'm telling you it's real. Can you just take me as I am?"
Caroline's eyes went to Stefan, whose eyes slid shut against the pain of Elena's words. Could you have picked a worse timing, Elena?
"I'll take you anyway I can get you," Damon answered.
Caroline shook her head in pity.
"Are you okay?" Rebekah asked Stefan quietly.
Stefan gave a humorless laugh, opening his eyes. "Yeah, why wouldn't I be? I lived all those years without her. I can do that again. Forever this time."
Caroline wasn't a fan of Rebekah's, but she was won over in the next moment. "Look, Stefan… I know I told you I wanted the cure, but if you're planning on being alone forever, then I don't really need the cure. Maybe you and I can be alone together… forever?"
Stefan studied her with a sad smile. "I'd like that," he said placing a soft kiss on her lips.
Caroline felt her eyes well up in happiness for her friend. She looked to Klaus and found him looking irritated at the teen drama unfolding around him.
"And now my favor is done. I have warned you, and you have had the sense to not pursue the matter any further. You may leave now."
Caroline shot him an annoyed look as everyone made their way out the door.
"You're not joining your friends, love?" Klaus asked raising an eyebrow.
"No," Caroline said, crossing her arms against her chest. "We still have some unfinished business."
Klaus looked away from her as he placed the sword down on the table. Walking over to his liquor cabinet, he poured himself a drink. "I'm still leaving, Caroline."
Unfolding her arms, Caroline threw her hands up, exasperated. "Why? You've asked me to give you a chance repeatedly, you've shown me that you're not just the monster everyone claims you are, and I see it now. I see it all!"
Striding up to him, Caroline placed her hands on his cheeks. "I see who you are, Klaus," she whispered, "and I'm ready to give you a chance… to give us a chance. I think we owe it to ourselves."
"I'm still going after the cure, sweetheart. Elijah is bringing back the witch whose ancestor created The Five. She'll take us to the cure. I need to get my hands on it, before Katerina does."
Placing his hands on hers as they rested on his face, Klaus braced himself to break her heart.
"And I don't intend to come back after I get it."
Caroline dropped her hands. "But… what about me? What about us? You're seriously giving up?"
Klaus sighed, tired of trying to make her understand. "I told you, love, I'm not giving up on anything. You need me to leave. You need the space to come to terms with who you've become. If I stay, and one day you don't like whom you see in the mirror anymore, I'll become an easy target for you and your friends to place blame on."
Klaus shook his head as he took a step back. "I won't allow you to do that to us. I'll leave before it comes to that."
He turned away from her and downed another drink. "Go. Be whomever you want to be. When you've decided, I'll take you. Whether you've decided to remain a light in every darkness or if you've succumbed to the allure of it, if you still want me, I'll take you."
Needing to see her face, Klaus turned back. "I'm giving you up for now. I could never give you up forever. I tried to do that… I just don't have it in me. You are my weakness, Caroline."
Caroline took in the desperation on his face she had never seen in him before. She tried to understand what he was saying, but none of it made sense to her.
"You know what, Klaus… screw you."
As she walked out, Klaus questioned whether he made the right decision or not.
She ended up at the Mystic Grille. Klaus had infuriated her beyond reason so she needed the crowd to drown out her thoughts.
As Matt brought her first round of drinks, she stiffened as she felt someone approach her from behind. "Caroline."
Her shoulders slumped as she recognized Tyler's voice. "Want to join me for a drink?" she asked without turning to look at him.
Taking a tequila shot from her hands, Tyler downed it and faced her. "Listen… I went to see Rebekah. She told me about how everyone has given up on the cure."
Everyone but Klaus, Caroline thought as she took a shot.
"Rebekah won't help me go up against Klaus, but I'm not just going to give up," Tyler said adamantly.
"Tyler…" Caroline started. "Listen, I'm sorry for what Klaus did to your mother. It was cruel and she didn't deserve it. But you know the aggressiveness that comes with the werewolf gene better than anyone. Klaus has it in him as well, only it's ten times more extreme, because he was aggressive even as a human. He had to be with the parents he grew up with. It was either learn to fight or be killed by Mikael."
"Are you making excuses for him, Caroline?" Tyler asked, perplexed.
"No! There's no excuse I could make on his behalf to make up for what happened. I'm just trying to make you understand… betrayal is a trigger for him. He doesn't react well to it. And as his first hybrid, your betrayal at organizing a revolution against him hurt him the most. So he hurt you in the only way he knew how."
Caroline looked at him, hoping he'd just let it go. He needs to let it go for his own sake. Or else Klaus will kill him as well!
She handed him another shot as she grabbed one for herself. "Forget about Klaus. He's leaving town tonight, anyway. You won't hear from him again."
Tyler had been confused at her explanation of Klaus's behavior, but took the good news for what it was. "Good riddance, I guess. I can drink to that."
Taking a seat, Tyler grabbed her hand. "I know I've said some harsh things to you lately… I just… needed to work some things out. But now that Klaus let you go and is leaving… maybe you'd like to come over to my place tonight? We can talk… about us."
Caroline stared at the pleading look in Tyler's eyes, and wondered why she didn't feel any of the things she used to when she was with him. Maybe Klaus was right… Maybe I do need to figure out who I want to be before I'm ready to be with somebody else…
"Tyler… I don't think that's such a good idea." Caroline said quietly.
Tyler narrowed his eyes in confusion. "It's because of him, isn't it? He has you completely manipulated and you don't even see it!"
Caroline stood, wanting to get Tyler to calm down before he created a scene. "No! Tyler, it isn't because of him. It's because of me. I need time. I need to figure out what I want for myself before I let myself want anyone else."
The look in her eyes begged him to believe her.
Maybe he did, or maybe he didn't care anymore, but Tyler nodded his head and said, "I get it, Caroline. You're not available."
Watching Tyler walk away, Caroline sighed in defeat.
Suddenly, it all became too much. The room, the noise… the people. It all became too much for her senses to absorb and compartmentalize. The only clear thought in her head urged her to grab the nearest person and rip into their vein.
Caroline closed her eyes to shut it all out. I can't do this. I can't do this. This can't be me!
The thought repeated itself in her mind like a mantra. Slowly, her world shifted back in place. Opening her eyes, she realized the truth in Tyler's claims. I'm not available. To anyone.
She grabbed her discarded jacket and dropped a few bills by her empty shot glasses. Turning to head home, she decided, I need to sort out who I want to be first.
"Caroline? Is that you?"
There was comfort laced in the sound of her mother's voice.
Inhaling the scent of her home, Caroline realized how much she had missed it. "Yeah, mom. I'm back."
Caroline waited as the sound of her footsteps came closer. Liz Forbes came into the room and rushed at her daughter. As if she suddenly remembered that her daughter was a teen and not fond of mommy-hugs, she came to a jolting halt a foot away from her.
"Are you back for good? Did he let you go?" she asked, fearing the worst.
Caroline gave a small smile at her mother's restraint. Stepping forward, Caroline wrapped her arms around her mother and hugged her just hard enough that she wouldn't break her.
"I'm back for good, mom."
They stayed like that for a moment, soaking in each other's presence.
Eventually, Caroline pulled back. "Are you home for the night? There are some things I want to talk to you about…"
Liz looked at her wristwatch. "I have a nightshift I can't get out of, but I have a few minutes to spare. Want to sit down?"
As they sat down in the living room, Caroline tried to decide where she wanted to start. She wanted to tell her mother everything. Not everything she had done and witnessed, especially not the part where she drank from humans, but she found she really wanted to tell her mother about Klaus.
"He let me go, mom," Caroline started, "he made me go, but if he had let me I never would have left."
"Caroline?" her mother questioned the look in her daughter's eyes she had only seen twice before: when she used to talk about Matt, and more recently, when she talked about Tyler. "Are you in love with him?" she asked incredulously.
Caroline saw the look of panic on her mother's face, but wanted to answer honestly. "No. But… he isn't unworthy. He's capable of love, mom. He loves me. That has to mean he's capable of being saved, right?"
Liz stared at her daughter, perplexed at what had become of her. The light Caroline seemed to have around her shined brighter than ever, but there were secrets in her eyes that Liz found worrisome. "I need to leave right now, Caroline, but I want to hear more about Klaus when I get back in the morning."
The curiosity on her mother's face didn't escape her. Rolling her eyes, Caroline stood to walk her mother to the door. "Absolutely."
Liz opened the front door to exit, but turned to face Caroline once more. "I don't want to leave you alone your first night back…"
Tilting her head, Caroline smiled, comforted that her mother still tried to protect her vampire daughter. "I think we've established that I can take care of myself, mom. You don't need to worry so much about me."
Liz raised her eyebrows in challenge. "You're still my little girl. I'll always worry about you. Call it 'mother's prerogative.'"
Caroline laughed as her mother got into her car and drove away. Closing the door, she turned to head for her room. Standing in the doorway, Caroline thought of how much she wanted to be back in her room at Klaus's mansion. It wasn't the grandeur she'd miss. It was the man she knew was right down the hall.
This doesn't even feel like my room anymore.
Tossing her purse on her nightstand, Caroline went to open her drawers. She wasn't surprised to find everything was brought back and put in its place. Mr. Original Hybrid, efficient as always.
She sat on her bed and faced the door. I could just leave and go after him again… Her mind kept alternating between hating him and missing him. Wanting him… and being glad he was gone.
What have you done to me, Klaus?
"I brought your belongings back while you were talking to your mother."
Caroline's eyes slid shut at the sound of his voice behind her. Not ready to face him, she remarked, "I thought you would have left Mystic Falls by now."
"Without saying goodbye?" Klaus came around the bed to sit down next to her. "you still think that low of me?"
"Yes," Caroline answered still not looking at him.
Klaus pulled her chin to face him. "Caroline…"
Looking into his eyes, Caroline couldn't keep up her ruse of hatred any longer. "No… I don't think low of you at all."
Klaus's lips parted at the need in her eyes. He came to say goodbye, to see her face one last time. He didn't want to leave on another spat.
"It's time, love. You need to go back to your world.
"My world, Klaus?" Caroline questioned. "You're a part of it now. I wouldn't know how to go back without you…"
Klaus held himself still, but the wetness in his eyes betrayed the bittersweet pleasure he felt hearing Caroline utter the words he never thought he'd hear.
"You'll get over it soon enough, love," he said in his low voice that raised goosebumps throughout her body.
Raising a tentative hand, Caroline touched his face and slowly leaned in to press her lips to his. Klaus tried to keep himself from responding, but failed when she flicked her tongue against his lips, demanding entry.
For a few moments, he gave in to the pleasure he knew he would be denied for long time. In a thousand years, the hardest thing I've ever done is pull away from this girl…
But he did pull away. Resting her forehead against his, Caroline whispered, "stay."
Klaus growled low in his throat. "I'm not used to denying myself what I want, Caroline. I need to go now, while I still can."
"And no happy ending for me?" Caroline questioned, frustration building inside her.
"You deserve a love story, Caroline," Klaus said, pulling his head back to look at her. "We'll get there someday."
Caroline laughed at the idea. "We're not a love story, Klaus... We're a tragedy."
Klaus tilted his head and assured her, "we won't always be."
They both went quiet at the prospect of a different future for them.
"Perhaps in a century?" Caroline asked, reminding him of a promise he made not so long ago.
"Definitely in a century," he promised.
Caroline fell back onto her bed with a sigh, not liking the idea of such a long wait. "So what does that make us for now? Friends?"
The smirk that sent shivers down her spine appeared on his face. "I don't have friends, sweetheart. And nothing I feel for you is even in the same realm as friendship."
Caroline considered this. He's right. We're definitely not friends. "I wish you would make me forget… if not the bad in you, at least make me forget you altogether. Make it easier on me to get over this."
Klaus mirrored her movement and fell onto his back to stare at her. "I told you, love, I can't do that. I won't. I won't make you forget how I surrendered to you… I won't let you forget.. how I fell in love with you."
Witnessing the blatant vulnerability in his eyes that he only let her see, Caroline felt something flip inside of her as anger came spewing out. Pushing up off the bed, she glared at Klaus who had raised himself on to his elbows to watch her.
"Get out," she said in a quiet fury.
"I said get out."
"Caroline, what did I do?" Klaus asked, standing up to face her.
"What did you do?!" Caroline was losing her grip on the anger she tried to keep banked. "Oh, I'll tell you what you did… you said I could have it all!" she said with a shove hard enough that, if he hadn't been an original hybrid, would have sent him flying through the wall. Klaus braced himself as she continued to push him after every statement out of her mouth.
"You said I could have anything I wanted… that all I had to do was ask! You made me believe it and you made me want it and I wish you hadn't because you didn't mean to give me any of it!"
Tears were now streaming down her face, as Caroline beat her fists against his chest.
"You made me want a life you never meant to give me," she cried in a broken voice that ripped through Klaus.
Klaus grasped her arms in an effort to control her aggravation. "Caroline… love," Klaus tried to console her, pulling her into his embrace.
But Caroline was having none of it.
"No! Don't touch me! You wanted to leave, right Klaus?" she asked sniffling to get her tears under control.
"Here it is. This is the only good-bye I can offer you. Get out!"
The fight left Klaus as he watched her body convulse in shudders from suppressed sobs. He never meant to bring her pain, but in his need for closure, he never took into account the toll it would take on Caroline.
"As you wish, love." Klaus said quietly.
Taking in her features one last time, he turned and walked out of Caroline's life.
"Love is a ruthless game,
Unless you play it good and right."
Please don't be mad! This is the end of this fic, but it's not the end of the story! Here's what's going on: If you like this and want to know what happens next, I have continued the story in another fic called "Who You Are Without Me" consisting of one-shots occurring within the next century. The first one picks up 6 months after this fic leaves off (remember that this story took place the week following Carol's death so it's still December-ish here).
Then, after about 5 one-shots I'll continue this story in another fic. It'll be what happens when a century has passed. You'll get a darker Caroline in that fic. And that story will have a happier ending! I promise!
Thank you so much for sticking with me for so long! I want to say thank you to the people who reviewed after the rocky second half of this story. Thank you to:
Cookie-chan91, Mystery Girl3, AGoodOmen, DuchessQueen, HelloCutePanda, HotHybridSex, justine, littlee-ol-me, onorinapr, lorita1635, angel1725, thehybridmikaleson, MJTE, Taylor, glevez25, Dramatic Melody, AgathaN, Addle, MTGZ, moon2012, Sadsunflowers, Ariel C. Rilmonn, Rianeliza, little miss michelle, Sam, lola, Melissa, KCforever, DGfleetfox, sunshinegold, meredith77, Sam0728, Chetopat, ForWhoCouldEverLoveABeast, CMT1992, jessnicole, Erianne, Irinaaaa, Native Princess, MyBrokenButterfly, el, and all the guests! (This was a long list. Next time I'll just thank you all after each chapter!)
Please review and let me know how you liked this chapter! Also, I plan on making graphics (gifsets or some sort of picture edits) to go with each one-shot, that'll be posted on my tumblr (givemelovelikeklaroline). Hope that sounds interesting!
A special thank you to foreverhybrid for the cover of this fic! Meghan, you're the best! (: