Disclaimer: The characters and other things from The Vampire Diaries don't belong to me. Credit goes to the rightful owners.
Klaus watched his prey from the shadows. The darkness did more than cloak him; it was as if it unfolded from him. The boy looked over his shoulder—once, twice and a third time for good measure before he let his guard down. Klaus could almost read his mind. He felt safe, at least for this one night.
He was wrong.
Tyler cut through the throng of people on the beach, the lone figure who did not sway to the beat. He went straight for the bonfire and watched the flames as if it could cast enough light to chase the darkness that followed him.
"No." Klaus answered, not bothering to turn around.
Elijah stepped out of the shadows to stand beside his brother. "You've come a long way to simply watch the boy, brother."
"Plotting, not watching," Klaus said not taking his eyes off his mark, "I'm imagining the thousands of ways I can make him suffer, break him and bring him to the point of death only to extend the pain a little bit more."
The corner of Elijah's lips twitched but his face remained impassive. "You've changed, Niklaus."
Klaus' eyes narrowed to slits as he turned to face his brother, "Have you slithered out of the hole you've been hiding in to annoy me or do you have a point? If you do not, I suggest we end this unwanted reunion."
"The brother I knew would have killed him on sight for his crimes against you." Elijah answered calmly.
"Tyler doesn't deserve that privilege. Not after he left me no choice but to slaughter my hybrids," Klaus said in a low voice, turning again towards his target, "He will wish he died with them."
"And yet you stand here, waiting for what?" Elijah asked, "Or are you looking for a way out of your oath? An excuse, perhaps, to let him live…to keep from breaking someone's heart perhaps?"
In a flash, Klaus had Elijah pinned against the wall, his eyes burning with anger, "Last I recall you ran from Mystic Falls, coward that you are. You have no idea what I've been through. Do not meddle in things you know nothing of. Do not try me, Elijah. I might just forget you're my brother."
"I have a message," Elijah rasped out, "Left pocket."
Klaus released him, his jaw set as he held out his hand. "Well, give it to me! I haven't got all day. People to kill, terror to spread. Not all of us have the luxury of being pathetic messengers. An Original reduced to this menial task. The shame, Elijah, the shame you bring to my doorstep."
Elijah reached into his pocket and handed over the envelope without a word. Klaus tore it open and unfolded the letter, his face changing as his eyes traveled down the page. He crumpled it in his fist as he spoke to his brother.
"I know Katerina has the cure and cannot wait to use it on me. I will give you the benefit of the doubt that you have been duped into believing this is anything but a trap. So hurry along now, I have a murder to finish plotting."
"I saw it for myself, brother," Elijah said quietly, "Silas has Caroline. It has become apparent that she has a bigger role in this story than anyone ever guessed. No one thought to protect her and now he has her."
"Why would do you even care, Elijah?" Klaus asked, "Who sent you? And why did they choose you? Rebekah could have been an easier choice seeing as she's chosen to play a part in their sorry quest for mortality. Why bring you into play?"
"That is not important," Elijah said, "At least, not now. We'll get to all those answers eventually but what matters now is that you go back to Mystic Falls, if not for her then do it because Silas can end even you, brother."
Klaus's fists tightened by his side, his eyes closed as he spoke, "When was this written?"
"Exactly a week ago." Elijah said.
"Then she's as good as dead." Klaus said evenly, his fist tightening, betraying the building fury in him, "There is nothing I can do for her. I will deal with Silas when he crosses my path."
"No, Niklaus," Elijah said cutting him off as Klaus started to walk away, "You can still save her. There is still time before the full moon."
Klaus shook his head and pushed his brother out of the way, determined not to lose Tyler who had stood up to leave. "Elijah, leave me be. In fact, leave the moon in peace as well. Find another fool to play hero. I am a monster. I cannot be saved any more than Caroline at this point."
Elijah's hand shot out to hold Klaus back, "You will regret this, Niklaus."
"Then I will bear that burden," Klaus whispered as he felt Elijah vanish as suddenly as he had arrived.
Klaus stood still once more. Watching it all until Tyler slid out of view completely. He did not follow the boy. He remained motionless, entranced by the same fire that held Tyler's attention minutes before. He watched the flames dance and grow as the night wore on, darker and darker until the very last second before dawn. And then it went up in smoke, curling around itself as sunlight washed over the ashes. Klaus closed his eyes and saw her once again, letting the nightmare visit him—Caroline gasping for air as she fought the venom of his bite, her plea to spare that mongrel and the look in her eyes as he left her on the porch.
He took a deep breath and walked away, making peace with the choice he made. He was letting Tyler go. He was throwing away his damned pride and all common sense he had left. He will save Caroline, or die trying, and hang on to the one hope for happiness he had in a thousand years. He smiled to himself, wondering how he ever forgot what it felt like to attempt the impossible without waiting for anything in return, just the comfort of knowing she was safe. It would be enough for him. For another thousand lifetimes, it would be enough to save her again.
Caroline slipped in and out of consciousness, unable to even move her fingers. Every limb was too heavy to move. It was simpler to just lie there and do nothing.
"She's my friend, Shane. She's not a part of this."
"You have to look at the bigger picture. Think of Jeremy. Think of your Grams, Bonnie. You can do this."
"The bigger picture."
The voices seemed to know her but she couldn't place them. She knew someone named Bonnie. Or maybe it was Ronnie. She wasn't sure. She only wished they would stop disturbing her sleep, after all, she needed her beauty rest. It wouldn't do for a once Miss Mystic Falls to have circles under her eyes. What would they say? She couldn't be less than perfect.
"It is almost time. Are you ready?"
"I don't think I can do this."
"You have to. It's the only way to get them back. Don't you want to see them again?"
"Then you must—"
There was a loud crash somewhere to her left. Caroline wanted to lift her head but she couldn't. She could barely open her eyes so she settled for listening. There was a flash of heat, followed by a wave of energy that shot right through her and growls that emanated from all over the room. An explosion tore across the room and blasted her off the table, slamming her against a wall. All at once the screams got louder and louder until all Caroline could think about how to make the noise stop.
"Shhh, they're gone, I've got you. You're safe now."
Somewhere in her mind things clicked into place—she was the one screaming. Her bones had shattered into many pieces on impact and the pain was blinding. It added up, didn't it? What was she even doing here…wherever here was? She felt herself healing slowly, the process burning through her but she knew she would survive it. She was safe. She believed this voice. She felt sure of the arms that held her. They were strong. They would not let her fall or crash or anything that would cause her pain. He would protect her. He saved her.
Caroline concentrated once more on opening her eyes. Slowly light filtered in through her eyelids, and when the veil lifted she found herself staring into the eyes of the man who saved her. All she could see was blue. Not the brown eyes she was searching for. No. There was only this endless blue, dark and unreadable, save for the worry that stared back at her.
Of course, it was him who saved her. Who else could go toe to toe with…she couldn't even remember who held her captive. It didn't matter now. Nothing mattered but this.
"Caroline?" the blue eyes searched hers, uncertain about something, "We don't have much time, love. I need to get you home. I've only weakened Silas and the witch but they'll be back for you. Do you understand?"
She couldn't nod, shake her head or speak. Caroline merely blinked and it was followed by a string of curses, anger and anxiety seeping from the words. He scanned the length of her, determining the extent of the damage meant she couldn't walk out of there even if he supported her. Briefly, she wondered why he bothered to come at all but then his arms swept her up, her head rested on his chest and then she remembered he loved her—loves her.
"Klaus," she whispered so softly she wondered if she actually managed to say it out loud.
He froze and it seemed that time stood still with him. After a beat, he recovered. "Yes?"
Caroline closed her eyes and sank deeper into his arms. No matter what danger lay ahead, she had this moment to hold on to where no fear could touch her.
Klaus pressed his lips on her forehead and held her a bit tighter, wondering how long he could make this moment last.
"You're welcome, Caroline. Rest well, love. I've got you. You're safe now."
A/N: One-shot for now given I have a number of unfinished stories (sorry about that) but I really love this pairing and if time permits…maybe it will be a longer story. For now, thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed that.