A/N: I wasn't supposed to write a sequel to Forgotten Mistake, mostly because the only ideas I had were Klaroline-through-the-centuries kind of things and it's been done so many times by so many talented writers that I didn't think I could write anything new. But then this idea woke me up in the middle of the night, and it wouldn't leave me alone. And since so many of you asked nicely (and some not so nicely ;)), here it is.
Thanks to everyone who reviewed Forgotten Mistake, it's always nice knowing people are reading and enjoying. Although I'm really feeling the pressure here lol It's scary continuing a story that got so many responses. If you liked the ending to Forgotten Mistake and would like to stick to your own version of what happened afterwards (if anything), just don't read this. No hard feelings :)
Spoilers until 4x09, we're going off canon after that because I didn't feel like dealing with what happened in 4x10. I'm lazy that way.
I checked, and sadly, English is still not my first language, so even though I try my best, mistakes happen. Feel free to point them out.
Disclaimer: do we really need to go through this again? NOT. MINE.
Caroline crouches down, one hand placed between her feet, holding onto the branch she's perched on, helping her keep her balance as she looks down at the ground from her spot in the high tree she climbed in just under two seconds. Her other hand is resting lightly against the trunk, trying to feel any movement caused by something other than the wind.
She was careful not to climb all the way to the top. The last time she did this, all the werewolf that was chasing her had to do was run into the base of the trunk, and the brutal assault made the tree shake so hard that she fell down, breaking almost every bone in her body and becoming an easy target. She hopes that by staying a few feet lower than the top, she's in a more stable position.
Plus the spot she chose is perfect for what she has in mind. One side of her hiding place is concealed because of how dense the foliage is, but the other side has a clear view of the ground, so when he eventually finds her, all she will have to do is jump and land on his back, hopefully doing enough damage to slow him down.
She wonders how long she will have to wait. It's been a few hours. The moon was at its peak when they started this session, but she can see a faint light on the horizon now. With the wolf's sense of smell, he usually finds her easily and there's not much she can do about that. What's taking so long this time?
Then it hits her.
He's playing with her.
He's always telling her that she needs to learn patience, that her greatest weakness in a fight is that she never waits for an opening, choosing instead to launch herself at her assailant even when he's obviously ready for it.
She bites back a groan, knowing that while not as sharp as his vampire hearing, his wolf hearing is still much better than a human's. If he's decided to test her patience, to see how long she can stay up there without moving, either to run or to attack him, she could be here all day. And once again, there's not much she can do about that, short of giving up right now and never hearing the end of it.
She wonders if he's even started looking for her. He always gives her a head start before he starts transitioning, and for all she knows, he could still be in the mansion, calmly sipping whisky near the fireplace while she's freezing her ass off up there. Ok, so vampires don't really feel cold. That's not the point.
God she hates him.
Except she doesn't.
Ugh. That's another side effect of having to wait, an inevitable one, she supposes. Thinking.
It's been two months since she showed up on his doorstep and asked him to teach her how to fight. Two months of seeing him every day, of digging a little deeper into his not-so-deranged psyche – and oh, how she wishes she didn't know that he's not nearly as psychotic as everyone thinks he is. Yes, he's a murderer and mostly evil, but is she the only one around here who's noticed that everything he does, he does for a reason? Reasons she may not agree with, but they definitely rule out the insanity theory.
She remembers her fight with her friends about three weeks into her arrangement with Klaus. There are so many things they don't know about him. So many things they don't want to know. And their lives are so much easier than hers for it.
When they look into his eyes, they don't remember the flicker of vulnerability only she got to witness a couple of times. When they watch his hands, they don't picture them holding a pencil and tracing the lines of her face next to a gorgeous horse. When they see his mouth, all they know is that it's his most dangerous weapon, they don't wonder what it would feel like to…
Snap out of it, Caroline.
Yes, the guy's weirdly nice to you, and he's fucking hot, and Tyler broke up with you with a noble speech about always putting you in danger, and there's a spark here that goes beyond physical attraction… There, you've admitted it. Now you have to bury it and focus on the fact that killing comes as easily to him as breathing does to most people. Not on the fact that for the past two months, he's been using all this power not to wreak havoc on your town and threaten the people you love but to help you get stronger. And definitely not on the fact that you know he's doing it because he actually, genuinely, truly cares. Oh, and not on the fact that while he's made it clear as day that he's attracted to you, he hasn't once tried taking advantage of the time you spend together to seduce you, which you're pretty sure would have worked.
Damn there are a lot of things she needs to learn to ignore when it comes to him!
When he told her last week that she was good enough to take down most vampires he knew and that they could move on to phase two – How To Escape A Werewolf Until It Turns Back Into A Human 101 – she thought it would make things easier. Not having to face him in his human form for most of their sessions should have helped.
Mostly because when she told him that she wasn't sure about this, that her experience with Tyler proved that werewolves have absolutely no control over their bodies and emotions and that she didn't know for sure he wouldn't harm her, his gaze turned soft and his response gave her a warm feeling she didn't want to be feeling.
"Even in wolf form, I can recognize the people I care about. I'm not going to hurt you."
She almost wishes he had been proven wrong. She would have been willing to endure a werewolf bite – provided he healed her once he was back to his human form – if it meant not knowing what she now knows. That his feelings for her run so deep they're instinctual. That even at his most savage, primal self, he won't let any harm come to her.
That it's real.
She was so nervous the first time… But when he found her after less than five minutes, the wolf just sat down and looked at her expectantly, not moving a muscle until she started running again. Only then did he go after her, tracking her, finding her, and then letting her go over and over again throughout the night, and the night after that, and the night after that, until she figured out that it took him just a little bit longer if she climbed up a tree, and that he didn't seem too keen on following her up there.
Once, after she finally admitted to herself that he was right and that she really wasn't in any danger, she tried attacking him instead of running. He was taken off guard when she launched herself at him, tackled him to the ground and placed her hands on either side of his head with the intention of snapping his neck, but he recovered quickly and he had her pinned to the ground before she could do anything useful.
It didn't even occur to her to be scared when he had her in such a vulnerable position. The thought that he could have bitten her didn't cross her mind until they were back at the mansion and he made a comment about how she was oddly calm through the whole thing.
That's when she began to appreciate just how much trouble she was in.
It's one thing to sort of trust him when he's his civil self. It's another thing entirely to face him as a beast without the slightest hesitation.
If her friends knew…
Well, they don't! the part of her that's so fucking tired of always doing what's expected of her snaps. It's the same part that doesn't scowl at her when she catches herself staring at his lips for just a little too long.
The part that's getting so hard to ignore.
The part that keeps reminding her of what he's putting himself through, transitioning every night when she knows how much it hurts just so that she can get better at avoiding werewolves.
Who does that?
Tyler did. He did it after he almost killed her. He did it because he didn't want to be a threat to her anymore. He did it because he loved her.
And that's the most disturbing of it all, isn't it? This comparison she's making here is dangerous, and wrong on sooo many levels…
Her body abruptly jerks forward as the tree starts shaking violently and she catches herself just in time, her grip on the branch tightening while her gaze travels down, looking for him. As soon as he feels her eyes on him, he looks up, and she jumps on the opportunity – quite literally.
She lets herself fall.
She's quick and strong, and the arc is perfect. She lands on his back, feet first, on the vulnerable spot right in the middle of the massive body, where the spine is at its weakest because it doesn't quite meet with the powerful hind legs. The noise is deafening and she feels the wolf collapse beneath her. She takes advantage of the element of surprise while she still can, placing one hand under his snout and the other at the base of his neck, using it as leverage to snap his head backwards, the movement swift and precise. There's another loud crack, and the animal goes limp.
She jumps up in excitement, bumping her fist in the air, feeling like she should do a cheerleading routine or something. She just took down a hybrid in his werewolf form! And not just any hybrid either. THE Original Hybrid. The self-proclaimed most powerful creature on Earth.
Damn it feels good!
She doesn't know how long he'll be out, she suspects it's not going to be more than a couple of minutes, but it would be more than enough for her to rip his heart out if he were any other creature and that's what matters.
She suddenly wonders… Wouldn't ripping Klaus' heart out kill him? What about beheading?
Not that she's going to do it. She doesn't want him dead, she's come to term with that fact a while ago. But even if it didn't kill him, it would at least paralyze him. Who can walk around without a heart and/or without a head?
She realizes right then and there that she's going to betray her friends… That she is betraying them. She's in the unique position of having their supposedly indestructible enemy at her mercy, and she's not going to do a damn thing about it.
Sighing, she sits down with her back against the trunk of the tree.
They usually walk back to the mansion together, him still in his wolf form. She'll wait for him to recover.
Yeah… She hadn't really counted on him transitioning back while he's healing.
Every muscle in his body feels like it's been pierced with a knife and then lit on fire. Every bone is breaking into a thousand pieces and then putting itself back together. Every nerve ending feels like it's been immersed in icy water. He's used to it, changing back to his human form always hurts more than turning into the wolf. But being used to it doesn't make it any easier. He groans when his shoulder blades snap into place, completing the transition. But wait, no. There's something wrong. His head is hanging at an odd angle and he can't move. Then there's a new pain as his spine sets itself right and he manages to get into a kneeling position. He cracks his neck and the healing is complete. Everything's in its right place again. About time. What took so long? Why was his spine… Oh.
He turns his head in the direction of her voice, remembering the unbelievable pain when she landed on his back so hard that she broke his spine. He didn't even have a chance to jump out of the way. Definitely a move he hadn't expected. She's sitting a few feet away from him, watching him with her head tilted to the side. He gives her an appreciative nod.
"That was remarkable."
"I know, right?"
She's not doing a very good job of hiding her excitement and he has to smile.
"Well done, love."
Right. That's why he usually stays in his wolf form until they get to the mansion where he can have some privacy to change back. But his body must have decided that the healing process would be easier this way.
"Yes, I am."
She rolls her eyes at him.
"Do you think you could do something about it?"
He can definitely think of a few things that he could do in his naked state, none of them safe to mention unless he wants things to get out of control. And he doesn't want that. The last time he let go of his control, they slept together. He wouldn't mind a repeat performance of that, it's the whole erasing-her-memory-so-that-she's-not-consumed-by-guilt-and-doesn't-hate-him-afterwards he can do without. Though the memories of that night make it even harder to keep his hands off her, he's managed to be a perfect gentleman for the last five weeks. He is not going to let his accidental state of undress ruin that.
"Like what? Did you want to give me your pants?" he asks with a smirk, cocking his head to the side.
Another eye roll. She's in fine form this morning.
"Can you just, like, run back to the mansion and get dressed? I'll meet you there."
He decides not to push his luck, nods, and flashes away. It only takes him a minute to get back to his place and throw on a pair of jeans and a t-shirt. He hears the back door open and close and Caroline's footsteps as she walks into the kitchen. He finds her there and takes a blood bag out of the fridge. He throws it at her and she catches it mid-air, thanking him with a small smile. He's made a habit of keeping a few of those around ever since he started training her, since she's usually starving by the time they finish. It's not surprising given how hard he makes her work.
She hops herself up on the counter in what he's come to recognize as her relaxed stance and he leans against the fridge, sliding his hands in his pockets as he watches her feed. Third eye roll in about as many minutes. She finishes the blood quickly and throws the empty bag in the bin on the other side of the room, smiling when it lands perfectly. She then turns her attention back to him and notices that he's still watching her. Something in his expression must give his curiosity away, because she frowns and asks, "What?"
He doesn't answer right away. He doesn't know if he should ask the question that's been plaguing him since he woke up in the woods. He's pretty sure he knows the answer, and it's going to make her uncomfortable. But he knows that they'll need to talk about it eventually. He's sensed the shift in her over the last few weeks, there's something different about the way she looks at him, especially since they've started the werewolf avoiding techniques part of her training. She's more trusting, but that's not the only thing that's changed. There's something he can't quite put his finger on. It's like she's given up, but instead of making her sad, it freed something in her. He knows what he wants it to be, but until today, he hasn't allowed himself to hope.
Her answer to his question could change that.
"How come you didn't try to tear out my heart while I was unconscious?"
He sees her tense up and for a moment he thinks she's going to run. But she seems to reconsider and she carefully asks, "How do you know I didn't try?"
"Not a drop of blood anywhere on you, me or the ground. So? Why didn't you?"
"After everything you've done for me? You really think that low of me?"
Hearing his own words thrown back at him makes him smirk despite the fact that she still hasn't answered his question. He should think that low of her. It's not that long ago that she was conspiring with his hybrids to kill him, even after he had repeatedly saved her life. But things have changed.
"I think that low of your friends," he replies. "And if they ever find out about this…"
"That's just one more thing I'll have to hide from them, I guess."
He's intrigued, not only because of her words, but also because of how defeated she sounds. After the stunt he pulled over a month ago, attacking her near the Grill in front of Damon, Elena and Bonnie as one of his tests, she had to come clean and tell them about their arrangement. Of course, she didn't tell them that she came to him after that and spent the night in his arms, but that's because she doesn't remember, he's made sure of it, so that doesn't really count as something she's hiding from them. What is she talking about?
"What are you hiding from them? I thought they knew all about these lessons. Aren't you supposed to use them to get closer to me and use it against me later?"
He sees her smile at the matter-of-fact way he asked the question, more curious than accusatory. He's not supposed to know this, but she doesn't look surprised that he does. She hasn't really tried to be subtle about it, and he would have suspected it anyway. It's the only way to explain why her friends ended up letting her spend time with him.
"Yep, I am. I guess you're gonna have to stake me and get this charade over with," she teases.
It's amazing how far they've come in a couple of months. The fact that she's able to joke about something like this knowing that he will never hurt her should worry him, because it means that she knows she's his weakness, and if she knows, then there are others who must know it as well. But the truth is he can handle a few of his enemies trying to use her against him if it means he gets to see her so comfortable around him. It's almost enough to distract him from the fact that she still hasn't answered his question, but not quite. Yet he doesn't push it. Instead, he says, "You did incredibly well today. I think the lessons are over."
"But it's only been two months. You've been fighting for a thousand years. Surely you haven't taught me everything you know, have you?"
No, but you know enough to defeat almost anyone, anything. You have no idea how much I want to keep doing this… But you also have no idea how hard it is to be this close to you and not be allowed to do a thing about it.
Of course these are things he can't say, so he settles for a joke.
"If I didn't know any better, I'd think you actually want to spend some time with me."
"Well, I do," she snaps.
The pieces fall into place when he hears her tone. Anger is her defense mechanism, something she uses when she's trying to protect herself from feelings she's not supposed to have. He understands then that what he suspects about why she didn't take advantage of his vulnerable state in the woods is only part of the truth. It wasn't just because she trusts him, or because she doesn't know what to do with him, or because she feels she owes him for teaching her how to defend herself.
"That's what you're hiding from them," he whispers in awe. "That you care."
She flinches and looks away, and he knows he's hit the mark.
This is definitely something they need to talk about. Not just the fact that she has feelings for him, but the fact that she's accepted them enough that she didn't even consider the possibility of incapacitating him when she knew that her friends would have wanted her to. For the first time, she chose him over them. Granted, it's not like it was a life or death situation, none of her friends were in immediate danger, but still… He thought he would have to wait hundreds of years before she got to this point. Hell, he'd been prepared to wait for hundreds of years.
She meets his gaze again and words elude him. For the first time in forever, he's not sure what he wants to say. Apart from 'let's leave this bloody town and travel the world together', that is. But that probably wouldn't go well. Although he's beginning to suspect that it would go better than the last time he offered. That's progress.
"Look, I… I need to figure some stuff out."
She bites down on her lower lip and gets down from the counter, crossing her arms in front of her in a clearly defensive posture. Not so relaxed anymore, then.
"Like why I'm feeling this way about a mass murderer! Or why I can't stay away from you. Or why you seem to be the only person in this town who's always putting me first. Seriously, what's up with that? Why are you always so freaking nice to me? Why can't you be like you're with everyone else, a psychopathic killer who's so easy to hate?"
"You know the answer to that," he says softly, his quiet tone a stark contrast to her outburst.
"Yes, well, I wish I didn't! 'Cause, see, it really doesn't make this any easier."
He can't help but smile at how frustrated she sounds, and she seems to see the humor in her basically telling him that she'd be happier being on his hit list, because she relaxes slightly and returns his smile – though hers is somewhat wary.
"You know you have all the time in the world to figure this out, don't you?"
"Patience has never been my strong suit. Oh, shut up!" she adds when she sees him lift his eyebrows in a 'No kidding' way.
He smirks and raises his hands in an appeasing gesture. Then his face turns serious again.
"You need to stop thinking about what everyone else expects from you, sweetheart. I'm not just saying this because it would be in my best interest. What good is your friendship with them if they can't accept you for who you are, trust you to make your own decisions, and see what I see?"
She deliberately chooses to ignore the thinly veiled compliment and addresses the rest of his speech instead.
"You know it's not that simple."
"But it is. It's as simple as the simplest of questions: what do you want?" She opens her mouth to protest, but he cuts her off to clarify, "I'm not asking you what you think you should want."
As he watches her ponder this, he wonders what happened to the noble notion that he would not make her choose, that he would not make her turn her back on her friends to be with him. The answer is standing in front of him, looking more and more unsure by the minute. She happened. She looked him straight in the eye and flat out told him that she can't stay away from him. That's what's changed, he realizes. That thing he couldn't put his finger on, what she's given up. Her denial. She's finally acknowledged that there's something there for her too.
It doesn't mean that she's not going to fight it. But she's not fighting it for herself, because she believes that he's going to hurt her and that this is what's best for her. She's fighting it because she thinks it's the right thing to do for everyone else. This makes a difference.
Thinking back to that night they spent together, he smiles to himself and for the first time in five weeks, he allows his desire to shine clearly through his eyes as he walks up to her, all wolf stealth and vampire grace. She tries to stifle her gasp at the sudden shift in the atmosphere, but he's watching her too closely to miss it.
"We could be good together, you know," he says, his voice deceptively quiet.
She doesn't get the allusion, of course, but she gives him a half-smile anyway.
"I don't doubt it."
He's right in front of her now and he leans down, never taking his eyes off her face. She tenses, in fear or anticipation. Maybe both. But she doesn't move. It's not exactly an invitation, but it's not a rejection either. He'll take what he can get.
He's so close that he knows she can feel his breath on her cheek as her name falls from his lips in a husky whisper. He fights against every instinct in his body, everything that's telling him to just take what he wants, and he hovers there, willing her to take this last step. Please, love. Please, just stop thinking for a second. Let me have this, if nothing else.
She closes the gap.
She's hesitant at first, a far cry from the passionate woman who seduced him five weeks ago, and he knows why. Now that she's admitted to feeling something for him, this means much more and it has to be frightening. He'd know, he's terrified.
But as soon as he gently coaxes her mouth open, her eyes flutter shut and she lets herself go. One of her hands travels to the nape of his neck while the other comes to rest against his shoulder as their tongues meet and dance together. He keeps his own hands to himself. If he lays a single finger on her, he's not sure he will ever be able to let her go. Not this time.
She understands what he's doing, and the hand that's resting on his shoulder slides down his arm, grips his wrist and guides his hand underneath her shirt to rest against the small of her back. His fingers involuntarily dig into her skin, bringing her body closer to his, and she moans her approval.
It seems ruining his plans is quickly becoming a habit of hers.
The kiss is both slow and forceful, as if she's exploring while trying to make a point. He lets her take the lead, committing it to memory, still not convinced that she's not going to push him away once she comes back to her senses.
She does end up breaking it off, but her fingers stay buried in his hair and instead of trying to get as far away from him as possible like he half expects her to, she keeps her eyes closed and rests her forehead against his shoulder. Confused, he uses the hand that's not holding her against him to tuck her hair behind her ear so that he can look at her face.
"Shh! I'm processing."
He chuckles and sees the corner of her lips twitch up in spite of her obvious distress. He holds her tighter, not sure if he's making things harder or easier for her, but he's selfish and right now he doesn't care. She's trying to make a decision and this might be the last time he gets to hold her this way, he's going to make it last for as long as possible.
Only when he feels her trying to take a step back does he release her. She takes a deep, shaky breath, apparently hoping that he's going to say something and offer her a magical solution. But what else can he say? He's almost as unsettled as she is, not only because he knows that any possibility of a future for them hangs in the balance, but because he's never seen her like this. She's never short of a snarky retort. Never this uncertain. She's usually so in charge that it's hard to reconcile this indecisive young woman with the tyrant who lashed out at a busboy because he was 4 seconds late in picking up two empty glasses.
Then again, he'll be the first to admit that the decision she's facing today is slightly more significant than the type of music that should be played at a pageant.
"Damn, this is fucked up," she says at last.
"That's one way of putting it."
She runs a hand through her hair, trying to regain some control over the situation.
"You know, if I didn't know how selfish it would be, and if I wasn't so scared of compulsion, I'd ask you to erase all this. The past two months have been confusing the hell out of me and… What?" she asks abruptly, narrowing her eyes at him.
Her whole demeanor changes as she watches him, switching from unsure and open to suspicious and accusatory in a matter of seconds. He has no idea what she just saw but… Oh, who is he trying to fool? He knows exactly what she saw. He felt his face fall as soon as he heard the word 'compulsion'. He tried to mask his reaction, but it seems he didn't do such a great job.
"What is it?"
He flinches. She's not going to let it go. He's still trying to think of a way to avoid this conversation when her eyes go wide and her jaw drops open.
"You compelled me," she whispers in horror.
How the hell…?
She steps further away from him when his expression confirms her suspicions, backing away until she's trapped against the counter she was sitting on earlier. He takes a step towards her, but stops when he sees how she tenses at his proximity. Sighing, he runs a hand over his face and asks in defeat, "How did you know?"
"You look guilty. Like you did something wrong and you actually feel bad about it. But I can't think of anything you've done lately that would get that kind of reaction out of you. Only one explanation. You erased it."
Close enough. It's not what he did he feels guilty about, it's the compulsion itself. Though he's still convinced that it was the right decision for them, her look when she realized what he was about to do is hard to forget. He's seen her on the brink of death, he's seen her at the mercy of people who wanted to torture her, he's seen her stand up to him, yet he had never seen her so scared. Not to mention the look she's giving him right now. A mix of fear, horror, disgust… He can't even decipher it all, but there's not a single positive emotion in there. How everything could have gone so wrong in a couple of minutes, he has no idea.
"I didn't have a choice."
"You mean it was the best choice for you," she snaps.
"No… Well, yes, but it's…"
"What was it?" she cuts him off abruptly.
When he shakes his head, refusing to answer, she swallows hard, obviously fighting back her tears, and he knows he's just lost whatever trust he had managed to earn. He reaches out, desperate to establish a contact, anything, but she flinches away and he brings his hand back to his side without touching her, trying to ignore the sting of rejection.
"Give me my memory back."
"You won't," she corrects.
He nods, conceding her point. There's no vervain in her system right now, her last dose was yesterday morning. Yes, he could compel her to remember.
"I'll never forgive you if you don't."
She's made her voice soft so that it sounded like the simple fact that it is and not like a threat. It softens the blow, at least to some extent. He sighs and shakes his head once more in dismay. His voice is equally low when he replies.
"You'll never forgive me if I do."
"No, you won't."
"You told me you wouldn't," he confesses in a murmur, closing his eyes against the dreadful feeling that's settling in the pit of his stomach.
He's damned if he does, damned if he doesn't. Typical Catch-22. Oh, how he hates no-win situations. Especially when they happen after such a rush of hope and crush everything in their path.
"Klaus, I can't not know. Please, I… There's no way the truth is worse than the scenarios that are going through my head right now."
His eyes snap open at that and bore into hers, his shock clearly written all over his face. What on earth is she imagining?
"I would never…"
"No! No, I know. I don't think you hurt me. At least not physically," she mumbles, and he wonders if he was supposed to hear that last part.
And really, how ironic is it that she thinks he has the power to hurt her even half as much as she can hurt him? He's almost shaking with the need to lock her up and never let her go because he knows she's about to break him.
"Love, I don't think it's a good idea," he tries again.
"It's not your decision to make. I know it might seem strange to you since technically, you already made it," she adds resentfully. "But Klaus, I swear, if you don't give me my memory back, I'm out of here and I'm not coming back."
He doesn't bother getting angry at her ultimatum, choosing to give her a bitter smile instead.
"You're leaving either way."
"You're gonna have to take a chance."
"Then you're going to have to let me come closer," he retorts, motioning at her posture, which is still quite obviously defensive.
She straightens up and gives him a look that says 'Happy now?'
"You're running out of excuses."
He sighs and nods, closing the distance between them and standing in front of her.
"How do you know I'm not just going to erase this whole argument?"
She's right, of course, but he's curious as to how she can be so confident about this. Sure, she trusts him with her physical wellbeing, but this is taking it a step further, especially now that she knows he's already messed with her mind once.
"No. If you do, you'll never know if I'm with you because I want to be there or because you tricked me into it. Your ego couldn't take it. If this was what you wanted, you would have gone much further with the compulsion in the first place and we'd be in Rome right now."
He manages to smile. She knows him better than he's ever expected.
"Perhaps Paris," he reminds her.
She rolls her eyes to express her impatience.
"Or Tokyo, yes, I know. Just do it, Klaus."
He gives a resigned sigh and plants a quick kiss on her mouth before pulling away, his hands on either side of her face, his pupils dilating…
"Wait," she demands, brushing her fingertips against her lips, frowning. "That was… That was goodbye, wasn't it?"
"You really think I'll want nothing to do with you after this. Is it really that bad?"
"I honestly don't know anymore."
He can see that he just cemented her decision. He wonders if a lie would have changed her mind. She gives him a resolute nod, her apprehension apparent, and for the first time, he sees what she means about the truth being better than whatever scenario she could come up with. Imagination can be a powerful enemy, and contrary to popular belief, ignorance rarely is bliss.
Looking deep into her eyes, he lets his power take over and orders "Remember that night, after I attacked you at the Grill."
There's nothing for a second, and then he sees her eyes widen and he lets go of her, taking a step back to give her some space as she stumbles backwards and leans against the counter for support, trying to escape the flow of images that's invading her mind. Her fingers suddenly grip the edge of the counter harder and she bites her lip to keep a moan from escaping and though the situation calls for gravity rather than humor, he can't help but smirk. It looks like he's not the only one who's affected by the sensual memories. She wanted to remember. Now she'll have to live with it.
"I slept with you," she says slowly, looking at him in disbelief.
"And enjoyed every second of it," he adds smugly.
He easily avoids her punch and she doesn't make another attempt, distracted that she is by another piece of information.
"I… I'm the one who seduced you. You didn't…"
"No," he confirms, instantly serious again. "I can't say I didn't enjoy it too, but I wasn't the instigator."
"That's what a man wants to hear about his sexual prowess," he mutters under his breath.
Amazingly, this earns him a small laugh, but before he can feel relief or hope or anything even remotely optimistic, it turns into a choking sound and he realizes that the reality of the situation has just hit her. He's by her side in an instant, wrapping his arms around her, holding her against him as her whole body starts shaking uncontrollably.
"Fuck! We… I…"
She can't finish her sentence, but after a minute, she does manage to disentangle herself from his embrace and to push him away without collapsing and she seems to regain her composure. She shakes her head, probably trying to make sense of some of the images he's just unlocked.
"I'm sorry, love. I had to make you forget. It was…"
She holds up a hand to cut him off.
"Stop it! I can't deal with you right now."
He lifts his eyebrows at that. He kind of thought that dealing with him would be her priority after what she just learned.
"No," she says firmly.
"We need to talk about this."
"You don't get it. This isn't about the compulsion thing." His eyes widen in surprise and she snorts. "Oh don't get me wrong. I'll be mad about that as soon as I get over the initial shock." Her voice loses some of its bite as she sighs and goes on. "No, this is about me. Me and the choice I made five weeks ago. That night, I drove back to my place knowing that I'd made the right decision. And now… Finding out what really happened is like… It's like having the ground suddenly swept from under my feet. Like I'm not who I thought I was."
He swallows hard. She sounds so lost… This is exactly what he wanted to avoid. Her blaming herself for her moment of weakness. How long until she starts hating herself so much that she won't be able to take it and will need to take it out on someone else? How long until she decides that he should have pushed her away and that this is his fault? How long until she starts hating him again?
"Indulging in one night of passion to forget about the world for a while doesn't make you a different person, Caroline. It certainly doesn't make you a bad person."
"Of course you'd say that. You invented the whole 'want, take, have' philosophy, screw the consequences."
"Not this time, love," he points out. "I tried to protect you from the consequences."
"Is this where I thank you?" she retorts, her voice harsh.
Alright, that's enough. He's tired of this hostility. She has every right to be angry and to want nothing to do with him, but she doesn't have to drag this out. He screwed up, he gets it. Now if she's going to write him off, he'd rather she do it quickly.
"No. This is where you realize that this was for you just as much as it was for me. This is where you admit that you wouldn't have given me a chance today if you had known. This is where you stop trying to find more reasons to hate me, because I think you have enough of those already. This is where you either forgive me or get the hell out of my house."
She's staring at him, her mouth hanging open, shocked and perhaps a little frightened. It's like she suddenly remembered who he is. Well, good for her. She can go back to her friends and to her life and forget about falling for a man who only ever exists when he's with her. The illusion would have shattered at some point anyway. Better sooner rather than later.
She's still not moving, and suddenly he can't stand looking at her. He bares his fangs at her and growls, "Out!"
She jumps a little, taken aback, but she doesn't run right away. Instead, she glares at him for a few seconds, making it clear that she knows that no matter how mad, disappointed, or hurt he is, he's not going to harm her. His fists clench by his side but he doesn't move, proving her right. Once her point is made, she shakes her head at him and walks away – human speed. Then he sets about the very important task of destroying his kitchen, starting with the bloody counter.
Before the death threats start, I want to make it clear that there is going to be another chapter. I will gladly admit that I'm a mean, mean writer, but I wouldn't just leave them in this mess.
Some of you may be mad at Klaus after the last few paragraphs. I thought he was more than understanding throughout the story and I felt the need to remind everyone (Caroline included) that he's not going to be all unicorns and rainbows just because he's in love (besides, he makes a few good points, IMO). The next (and last, I think) chapter is going to deal with that and will probably have more of Caroline's POV. You might have to wait until next week for an update as work is going to be crazy for the next few days, sorry about that.