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XII


The following days weren't any better for Caroline than the previous had been. Tyler's lawyer contacted her and she knew for sure then there was no going back. Tyler was so determined that she even wondered if he didn't already have someone else. Maybe his lovely sister even found someone more suitable for her dearest brother.

Things at the studio were far from ideal. She knew she had been harsh on Klaus and according to Elena much harsher than she should have. She tried to argue and say that it was like Klaus to do what she implied he was doing, but Elena argued back saying he looked pretty honest while he was there.

Either way, Caroline didn't think she owed him any sort of apology. He didn't try to defend himself per say. Just a few words about what he meant to do, but he never really said she was wrong. Maybe she wasn't so much off the mark as her best friend thought?

She was thankful though that except for Serena and Stefan nobody mentioned the divorce. The two blonds didn't say much, just said they were sorry and hoped things would work out for the best, but still it was hard. She felt embarrassed, she felt small, she felt humiliated by her husband's actions. She was famous and she was dealing with yet another difficulty that came along with it. When her parents divorced, Liz had been as surprised as Caroline was now, but she had time and space to come to terms with it. For a couple of months nobody knew except her mother's parents. And then Liz told one by one of her closest friends. It took nearly six months until her mother was ready to let everyone know, although she was positive some people had learned before her mother told them. Caroline was twelve then and she was old enough to understand some of the things her mother was going through.

Liz confessed that she felt ashamed. It was New York and just about the twenty-first century, but still her mother said she felt embarrassed because all her friends were still married and she was the one getting a divorce because her husband left her. Back then Caroline couldn't understand why her mother felt ashamed when she didn't do anything wrong, but now she understood Liz better than ever.

It was like the society – even in modern times – looked at divorced people with different eyes. As if they had failed something big in their lives. And to some extent they weren't wrong to think like that. Divorcing implied failure. This idea didn't seem like a fair one, but just because it wasn't a perfect theory it didn't mean she didn't feel like that.

And then there was the pain, the shattered dreams, the destroyed plans and hopes. It was as if the ground under her feet had been removed and she found herself on free fall, endlessly. It all felt like a terrible nightmare and she honestly thought she was going to wake up at some point. But she knew that wasn't a dream. It was now her reality. Her marriage was over.

The first day of work went without much trouble. Actually the rest of the week she just acted robotically. She knew she was far from producing her best work in the scenes, but Damon seemed to understand that no matter how much he pushed she reached her limit. She couldn't give more than she was giving.

She didn't rehearse with Klaus – that proved to be useful in the past after all – in fact they barely talked. And in all occasions that they did exchange words that weren't their characters' dialogues they were polite greetings. For the same reasons she believed Klaus would take the chance to pursue her, she knew voicing her theory wouldn't offend him and that probably it would just add to the challenge, to the chase, but he simply backed off completely. That was when she started to wonder if Elena wasn't right after all.

But she wasn't in a good place to have that conversation with him. She would apologize if she was wrong, but she didn't have any emotional energy to figure out if she was right or wrong in her assumptions. She simply let it go, especially because if she was wrong it would only make her feel worse. He didn't seem to be offended, he didn't seem to be hurt, he simply avoided talking to her in the breaks, during lunch and every other moment when they weren't shooting. But then again most people weren't that talkative around her those days. Not even Stefan.

And if she was thankful for the space they were giving her, it only made her feel lonelier than ever. She had no husband, her family was far, both her mother and her father busy with their work, and her friends across the country. Elena had stayed three days with her, but she didn't manage only Caroline's career and she had to go back. Her coworkers were just that, her coworkers and they didn't know much about each other. She was all about herself and finding nothing else to do with herself she simply found company first in the bottle of wine, and then tequila, and more recently bourbon.


"Do you think there's something wrong with Caroline?" Stefan asked during a lunch break the following week.

"I heard she's going through a divorce, but I'm not sure," Klaus answered sarcastically.

"That's not what I meant,"

"She's just the same, Stefan, she's hurt that's all," he answered curtly.

"No, there's something else. I heard the girls from makeup commentating on the circles around her eyes and I started to pay closer attention. I think she's losing it,"

"You know her opinion about marriage and divorce,"

"Actually I don't,"

"Did you actually listen to her when we talked about Tatia and Niklaus?"

"Oh, that?"

"Yes, that," Klaus rolled his eyes, wanting nothing more than this conversation to be over. He didn't want to discuss Caroline Forbes.

He wouldn't admit to anyone what she told him in her house and much less how much it hurt. It had been the first time that he tried to be decent with someone in a very long time, but his actions were he could understand why it was so easy for her to jump to such conclusions. It was him after all. Who would think any differently? He had a reputation that preceded him. One he wasn't as proud of it as usual.

"Maybe you should talk to her,"

"What?" Klaus asked coming back from his thoughts.

"Maybe you should talk to her,"

"Why would I do that?"

"Because you work with her every day, because you guys rehearse your scenes in your trailer or because when you needed someone she was there for you?"

"I thought that was Rebekah?" he quipped sarcastically.

"You know she changed her mind from night to day about you. Those rehearsals were more for your benefit than hers, it was the way she found to help you. She decided to bet on you instead of continue to bet against you. She had been supportive, understanding, nice and even encouraging and I know all that without being in any of your lunch meetings,"

"We haven't been meeting anymore since her birthday,"

"It doesn't mean you aren't the closest person to her in the crew,"

"Let her be, Stefan, the girl needs some time and space," Klaus answered frustrated.

"She isn't you, Klaus, she doesn't need time or space, she needs people,"

"Trust me, she won't think I'm there to help, she already told me with all words I'm trying to take advantage of her moment of vulnerability," Klaus decided to share it with Stefan because he knew his best friend wouldn't back off easily and he just wanted that conversation to end.

"When did she say it?"

"It doesn't matter, Stefan, I tried to be nice and that's what she thought I was trying to accomplish, so trust me, I'm not the person to approach her now," Klaus offered before standing up, taking his tray with him even though he didn't finish his lunch.


The following morning they started reading the script for episode six. The reading started before Caroline arrived, after they waited fifteen minutes for her.

When she arrived – nearly two hours later – they were already done with it. She said to Damon she was sorry for her delay, but didn't elaborate much on what happened. The director didn't look mad – or happy – and informed them they were going to start with Tatia and Niklaus' scenes.

In latest two episodes the couple made progress in their past relationship – although present time they were still struggling with Tatia keeping her position and dodging his advances the best she could. Also most of present times were about Niklaus trying to figure out how his siblings' plan to bring him down. Consequently scenes he shared with Caroline these days were flashbacks where Niklaus and Tatia grew closer. After Zackary had spanked his bastard son because of Tatia and she tended to his wounds in the caves, the fictional couple was inseparable especially as it took a couple of weeks for his injuries to heal enough for him to resume his chores. And Tatia made sure she was with him at every moment, along with Ayanna. The witch prepared the herbs and left it to Tatia to give them to Niklaus as well as feed him as Viktoria thought it was better for Niklaus to recover in her friend's huts rather than theirs.

After Niklaus finally recovered they were still close and he took her to his favorite places near the village. One of the falls she didn't know about, a lake and a clearing surrounded by a field of flowers. Their friendship blossomed and Tatia felt she didn't need to be tough and strong around him as she normally was around strangers – especially men. She didn't trust people, but for some reason she trusted Niklaus Lancaster.

And that's how the characters found themselves in episode six. The closest friends they could be, but Niklaus definitely felt more for the blond girl.

"I've missed you," Niklaus offered when Tatia joined him where he was collecting logs.

"The baby has been sick for three days, Ayanna helped, but little Sophia was really bad," she offered as she started to help him.

"Tatia, let me do this. Why do you insist on helping me on my chores when you have plenty of them yourself?" he reached her arm, holding it softly, taking the log from her hands.

"I'm done with my chores. As I was responsible for Sophia, mother and Catherine were doing the chores for me,"

"Why didn't Catherine tend to her daughter?" he asked curious.

"Shh, I told you nobody else can know she's my niece, not my little sister," she approached him, afraid someone else would be nearby and hear his words.

"I'm sorry, but don't worry no one is around here. So why were you with the baby?"

"Catherine doesn't know how to take care of her baby. As mother had to pretend it was hers, she's the one taking care of Sophia most time,"

"Are you good with it?"

"I guess," she frowned slightly and then shrugged, continuing to help him, leading him to roll his eyes at her actions. He wouldn't insist though, he knew Tatia could be really stubborn.

"That was a stupid question on my part actually," he offered, noticing maybe she took his words in the wrong way.

"Why? I'm just as inexperienced and young as my sister,"

"But you're special, Tatia. Nobody can take care of someone better than you. You're warm, attentive, sweet, nice, compassionate, caring," he said as he stood just a few inches away from her, both of them standing, as she handed him a small log.

"You embarrass me, my lord," she looked away, her cheeks red.

"Are we back to the lord treatment, Tatia?" he reached her chin, making her look at him.

"I'm not used to someone complimenting me. And I don't know if I like the feeling," she offered quietly.

"You're amazing, Tatia, and I'm sure I'm not the only one to think so," his eyes locked on hers.

"You're pretty special too, Niklaus," her voice was low as she watched him move his eyes from her own to her lips.

"I'm not a good man, but I try to be good to you,"

"You're a great brother to all your siblings, you're a good friend, and you're a good… son," she offered and the spell between them was broken when he looked away.

"Don't believe for one second you aren't a good son, Niklaus, because you are," she boldly reached for his hand, not really believing she had dared to do such a thing.

He looked to where her hand touched his skin, feeling like it was burning, and then looking up to her eyes he could see how she truly believe those words. And because nobody had ever said something like that to him and because of everything he had been bottling in for so long he didn't think twice before throwing the logs he had on his arm behind him, and moving his free hand to the back of her head, he brought her lips to his, softly pressing them, his eyes opened watching her reaction closely. He was afraid of what it would be, but he couldn't resist his feelings anymore. He had never felt something like that before. He never even cared about someone that wasn't family in his twenty-three years of life, but Tatia changed it all.

She closed her eyes at the contact, welcoming it although she was completely afraid of it. But only a few seconds in, even if their lips didn't move, she squeezed the arm she was holding and that was enough for Niklaus.

He broke the contact of their lips, but kept their foreheads connected, his eyes now closed as he felt her thumb caressing his arm.

"I fancy you, Tatia," he whispered.

"I'm afraid," she admitted, her eyes also yet to open.

"I would never hurt you, I would never do to you what they have done to Catherine," he broke the contact of their skins, cupping her face on his hands, as he finally saw her blue orbs looking back at him.

"What do you plan to do about me then?" she asked unsure. She was strong and tough when it came to everything, but about the matters of heart, Tatia was insecure and fearful.

"I'll ask your mother's permission to court you, if that's fine with you," he smiled at her, showing his deep dimples.

"Court me?"

"Yes, court you. I want you to be mine, Tatia. I want to wed you, to be with you far, far, far away from this place, where we don't have to be afraid of the wolves, where my father won't threaten you,"

"How can you want all those things when you've known me for not even four full moons?"

"I cannot explain, but that's how I feel and I can only hope you feel the same or at least you don't feel repulsed by me," he showed his own vulnerability, breaking eye contact for a moment.

"I don't know how I feel about you, Niklaus, and I never wanted a man to touch me the way you just did," she explained, and at her words, he let go of her and took two steps back.

"I was never my intention to disrespect you, Tatia, I offer you my deepest apologies," he looked down, embarrassed, his hands behind his back.

"But when you did it, I liked it, I felt things I didn't even know existed. My body liked it. I like you, my lord, I like you a whole much," she also looked away, sharing the same feeling as him although for completely different reasons.

"Are you not angry on me or afraid of me now?" he asked, sounding hopeful, his eyes brightening.

"No," she whispered softly, still incapable of looking at him.

"Would you like it if I asked your mother's permission to court you?" he dared to move forward two steps again, standing just before her.

"I don't know,"

"I won't do it if you don't want me to court you, Tatia. I will always respect your wishes," he could barely cover his disappointment.

"Can I think about it?" she asked shyly, looking at him quickly then back at the dirty ground.

"Take your time, sweetheart. I feel like I've spent all my life just waiting tfor this moment, I would wait as many years as you need me, if only it meant I would finally be with you," he fought the need to touch her, raising his hand to touch her hair, but stopping midway, knowing maybe he'd be pushing his luck.

The moment she heard his words she looked at him, his face adoring her, his eyes assuring her he really meant those words, her own body screaming at her that she didn't have a chance against resisting the man in front of her.

"Just know you're making it very difficult for me to still be afraid," she offered a soft smile, leading him to grin back at her, exultantly that for once something good was finally to come his way.

"Cut," Damon's voice resonated.

"Let's hope it was good enough this time," Caroline muttered to Klaus, once the crew removed the microphone from over their heads.

"At least there weren't any mistakes," he offered, although he regretted it the moment the words left his lips. Caroline had said the wrong lines twice before, and in one of them she completely forgot the line she was supposed to say altogether.

When they finally made it without mistakes, Damon complained about it being shallow and emotionless. The tension between her and Klaus could be felt in the natural set. It wasn't sexual – as the scene would need – but simply tension. Damon had noticed something changed between his protagonists since the previous week, but he didn't say anything. Alaric also noticed and only talked about it with the director. But they also knew Caroline was going through a bad patch and blaming her personal life problems, they simply agreed her divorce was the reason behind it and it had really bad timing. Of course they felt bad for her, but she simply disconnected from her acting in the crucial moment that they were building Tatia and Niklaus' background romance. If they needed Caroline to ace the chemistry she clearly had with Klaus it was now, but the acting kept coming flat and forced on her part, when it wasn't just plain poor.

"Maybe we should resume our rehearsals?" he suggested, thinking of what Stefan said the previous day.

"I don't have the time," she simply dismissed as they waited for Damon to watch the scene.

"Maybe you should invest in finding it, Caroline. This part of the story is very important; you were the one that convinced me we had to sell Niklaus and Tatia's love story like this epic romance if we wanted viewers to be really attached to the show. Their love story is happening now, this scene is supposed to be one of the most powerful scenes in the first season and judging by Damon's face, I'm sure it didn't meet his expectations," he nodded towards the director who was looking less than impressed.

Caroline sighed heavily. She knew he was right and she knew she should focus on her job now, instead of allowing herself to spiral in the depression that was eating her from the inside. It was hard to focus on something when she had the biggest disappointment of her life going on. Her marriage had always been more important than her career. She was one of those women that had always thought family should come before work and she didn't have a problem admitting she would always put it first. But what Tyler demanded from her was being someone she wasn't. He wanted her to simply abandon her career and follow him around for his team's matches, like every other athlete wife – and even girlfriend – seemed to do. He said he couldn't see how she wanted to be a mother if she didn't have time for a husband. He didn't want his children to be raised by nannies and he expected her to simply throw everything to the air and just be the dotting wife with no life or career of her own. She wasn't that girl and even if she could take a break from her career – like many others did – and spend a couple of years being a mother and taking care of her family, that was as much as she could compromise. But Tyler made it clear a couple of years weren't enough, especially when both of them planned to have a numerous brood.

"Damon," she called the director while he talked to his assistants about the scene.

"Yes?"

"Can we try this scene tomorrow again? I think I could use a little bit of rehearsal with Klaus. We're going to discuss it later today and possibly rehearse it tomorrow during our lunch break and maybe we could do better. We can move to the other scenes on schedule for today and just resume this sequence tomorrow," she suggested as graciously as she could.

"I think that's a good idea, Caroline. Thanks for your commitment; I know I can be pushy sometimes,"

"No, you're right. This scene is important we really need to make the audience connect with the characters in this one, otherwise they won't buy their relationship," she offered, while Klaus smiled behind her. He could see she was struggling, he could see that it was really hard for her to deliver better than she was doing. He could see she was trying hard, doing her best, putting everything she'd got into those scenes, but unfortunately it seemed like she didn't have much in herself at the moment and her acting in the past two weeks couldn't compare to her work the previous month.

"Does it work for you, Klaus?" Damon asked.

"Yes, Damon," he said, and then Damon dismissed the crew.

"I see you at lunch, Caroline," the Brit offered to her, before he walked away towards his trailer.


Caroline noticed the change in his demeanor. She realized he wasn't using any endearments with her, although he used them with everyone else. No 'sweetheart' or 'love' came out of his lips when he was referring to her, except the eventual slip – after all it was a habit – but every single time, he quickly corrected it using her name instead. He also kept his distance and except for his suggestion that morning, he barely talked to her. But it was when they were discussing the scene they shot that morning that she realized how uncomfortable he really was around her these days.

"Come on, Klaus, I'm the only one making suggestions here, I thought we were supposed to meet together to improve the scene, but you won't say anything about it,"

"I agree with what you said," he simply answered, trying to sound casual about it, sipping his tea.

"But you always add so much to our scenes, I like your suggestions much better than I like mine," she admitted.

"And I'm flattered, swee—Caroline, but this is a romantic scene – your specialization I guess, I'm sure your pointers make much more sense than mine,"

"Can I ask you something and can you answer me honestly?" she said avoiding his eyes, and sitting by his side, playing with the script in her hands.

"Sure," he followed her motions, finding himself highly entertained by the mug he was holding.

"Was I wrong?" she started, but when he didn't say anything she knew he was waiting for her to give him more information, "In my assumptions," she continued, but he only asked which assumptions both still looking ahead of themselves instead of at each other.

"In my house… the other day…" she asked, feeling really uncomfortable about it.

"No, you weren't," was his first answer. "And anyone should jump to the same conclusions," he answered and for a moment instead of feeling relieved that she didn't misjudge him, she simply felt sad. She thought they were becoming friends, real friends, and that he didn't see her like he saw every other woman, not because she wanted to be special, but because she really wanted to be friends with him.

"But when I said I respected your ring, I meant it, Caroline. I would take advantage of anyone else in your position, but I can't take advantage of you," he admitted, but it was hard for him to do it, and without giving her any time to answer, he stood up, putting away the mug that was still half-full.

"I'm going to take a nap, if I come up with any pointers, I'll tell you tomorrow during rehearsal. Please close the door behind you," he said as he walked to the adjoined room, closing the door behind him.

And it was just then that Caroline realized she had been wrong before. Not only wrong about him, but also wrong about herself. She had avoided that conversation for ten days because she thought she was afraid of him confirming that she was wrong on her assumptions, but when he finally answered, she realized she felt bad for only one moment, the moment he led her to believe she had been right. But when he confirmed she had been wrong, she felt the relief she needed, but also unexpected joy.


AN.: thanks to anyone who read and reviewed last chapter. I really like this one. I hope you do too.

Tell me how you felt about this one. Things are about to change in their dynamics.

xoxo

Babi