So I'm totally stoked by the number of your who have said this fic makes you want to start watching BBC Sherlock and/or Elementary. BOTH fantastic shows! You may not like one or the other, or you may-like me-like them both!
I thank you for all the reviews! To show all you dear readers my gratitude, I'm going to do something I haven't done in a LONG time. I'm going to challenge myself to respond to EVERY review I get on this chapter. Of course, I can't respond to the anons, but just know I love you all!
And thank you to the BEST DAMN BETA TEAM IN THE TVD FANDOM: Becky (a-little-blonde-distraction) and Kady (Klausykins). If you aren't reading their stuff...go do it!
Klaus waited a full ten seconds before darting after their little graffiti artist. As he trailed behind him, he noted that the boy's posture didn't scream serial killer to him, but he also knew underestimating someone could only result in trouble. Caroline was at his heels, her shorter legs working double time to keep up with his longer, quicker strides.
The boy was walking away in a hurry. Glancing over his shoulder every so often at the people who would pass him by on the street. The orange street lamps kept his face hidden in the shadow of his ball cap. Klaus hoped that he would continue walking to a less populated street or cut down an alley so he could have a chance to question him.
"Should we call the police?" Caroline asked in a hushed tone. His answer was to continue walking after their suspect.
Klaus's methods of questioning suspects and witnesses weren't always smiled upon by people like Captain Saltzman, who worked strictly within the letter of the law, so he preferred to do things on his own for the most part when he worked cases. Alaric was a smart man and didn't ask too many questions. Above all the captain valued justice and Klaus often provided a means to that end.
Caroline's heart was speeding. She was out of breath from trying to keep up with Klaus but, he began to slow though as the graffiti boy slowed down to stop at a traffic signal. No cars were seen in either direction. She wanted to laugh at the fact that the guy was a vandal and a potential murderer yet he was still choosing to obey traffic signals.
They were about ten feet away from him, when she saw the bill of the ball cap turn in their direction. She held back a yelp as Klaus grabbed her, spinning her around and up against the wall of a building next to them. His hands pressed up against the brick on either side of her head as his body leaned into hers. His head ducked down, bringing their faces close together; so close that she could smell the warm hint of espresso from his earlier coffee. Encased in his arms, it was the closest she had been to him since they met.
"Just a moment," he whispered to her.
Caroline realized what he was doing. He was blocking them from view, so the boy wouldn't realize they were following him. If he happened to glance at the two of them at that moment, they would just appear to be another couple, enjoying a kiss outside of a restaurant. The thought of kissing Klaus caused her to unconsciously look at his lips, her eyes lingering over them a second too long and she saw them press together in a grin. Caroline looked up to see a rakish twinkle in his eye. With a scoff, she pushed him back, just in time to see the signal change.
"Are you finished manhandling me now?"
"Don't get excited, love," Klaus teased as the signal changed. "Come on."
They continued down the street after the boy. Caroline shook off the weird, dizzy feeling from being flung against the wall and continued to follow. A few moments later, Klaus got his wish when the boy ducked into an alleyway. He sped up after him, no longer concerned with being inconspicuous. Klaus cut around the corner and took off running, in effort to cut him off. The gamble worked and he popped up right in front of the boy, stopping him with an evil grin.
"No point in running," Klaus said.
Before he could move, Klaus grabbed him and hurled him up against the alley wall. He hit the red bricks with a loud grunt. The ball cap flew from his head, revealing a shock of blonde hair. Klaus held him by the throat, working the boy's disorientation to his advantage.
"What the hell?" he heard Caroline exclaim behind him.
"No worries," Klaus said, "just wanted to have a little chat. As long as you cooperate, there will be no more need for violence. Now tell me about that symbol you just painted on the door. The star."
Klaus released him so he could talk, confident that he wouldn't try to run. He looked college aged, Caroline guessed, maybe a year or two younger than herself.
"The tag? Are you campus security?" He passed a look between Klaus and Caroline.
"Yes the tag. Where did you find it?"
"It's my signature. I came up with it awhile ago. I put it on all my work."
"And across school campuses?"
"It's part of a piece I'm doing…I'm generating hype."
Klaus pursed his lips. "You're telling me that you came up with that symbol?"
The boy nodded. "It's an original."
"Well then I imagine that we should probably call the police, they'll want to bring you in for questioning."
His eyes widened. "Over some graffiti?"
"No of course not," Klaus said, "but they'll definitely be interested in you as a possible murder suspect."
The guy's face went white. "What? Murder?"
"That symbol," Caroline interjected, "the one you claim you created, has been found on the bodies of a bunch of murder victims over the last few months."
"I haven't murdered anyone," the boy appealed to Caroline. "Look alright. I didn't make it up. I took it from this girl I hooked up with at a party awhile back. She had it in her dorm on a corkboard. I thought it was cool so I took it."
"Does this former conquest have a name?" Klaus asked.
"We didn't really bother with last names, or a lotta talkin," the boy smirked knowingly at Klaus, who didn't seem to share amusement in the joke. At the lack of response, he quickly cleared his throat and continued. "I can tell you where she lives though. Her name is Hayley and she's over in Baskerville Hall on Van Buren."
Caroline and Klaus walked through the front door of Klaus's flat. After he questioned the graffiti guy, Klaus had let him go, and they grabbed a cab back to his side of town.
"I don't understand why you don't just tell the captain and let him go question this Hayley girl," Caroline said. "Isn't it kind of dangerous to be running after people who might be serial killers?"
"You ran with me love," Klaus replied, walking into the living room. "Now we just need to figure out a way to get into the dorms."
"Well, after watching you throw someone against a wall like a rag doll, I'm surprised you have any qualms about breaking into a college dorm," Caroline said.
"You seemed to have enjoyed it for a moment there."
Caroline frowned. "I wasn't talking about me."
The next day Caroline had class again. She had made it a point to try and go to bed early so she didn't end up falling asleep. Klaus was supposed to stay in his house while she was gone at class. He was pouring over case files again, as well as perusing the Internet for more information about the killer. Caroline also guessed that he was secretly hoping for another body to turn up.
Caroline had planned to be more active in Shane's class that day, but her mind kept wandering to the case. She had been casually looking at Klaus's board while she sipped her coffee that morning and was wondering about the possible connections. Maybe it was something about the paintings? A few times during the lecture, she found her fingers wandering over her laptop, typing the names of the paintings into a search engine and attempting to learn what she could about each of them.
Her brain couldn't make the connections though. It didn't seem to work the way that Klaus's did, pulling conclusions out of thin air.
The next thing she knew, everyone was getting up and beginning to file out of the lecture hall. So much for paying attention and being active. Shane was busy talking to one of her classmates, so she wasn't sure whether he had caught her not paying attention yet again. She packed up her laptop and notebook and slid them into her messenger bag.
"Huh?" Caroline looked to the row behind her. There was a guy with dark, spikey hair grinning at her. He was wearing a blue, polo t-shirt over a pair of khaki cut off shorts.
"The lecture," he replied, "sorry. I looked down a couple times and saw you looking at stuff on your computer."
"Okay…that's not intrusive or creepy," Caroline said shouldering her bag.
"Guilty," he said with a shrug and a million dollar grin. "Tyler Lockwood."
"Caroline Forbes," she said taking his outstretched hand.
Tyler was cute, in a very Abercrombie and Fitch sort of way. He looked like exactly the sort of guy she always dated. His broad shoulders stretched against the fabric of his t-shirt and his eyes sparkled with charm and that hint of cockiness that was normally held by privileged rich guys. Judging by the brand of his clothes and the Ray-Ban aviators on top of his head, Caroline guessed that he definitely fell into the privileged rich guy status.
"Are you an art history major?" He asked, walking with her to the door and out to the hallway. "I just ask cause I saw your searches."
"No," Caroline said, "psychology."
"Oh. So I guess you didn't just think the lecture was boring…"
"Illustration," Tyler said, "I wanna write my own comics. My advisor suggested I take a psych course to expand my views and help with my writing." Caroline was surprised. Nothing about Tyler made him seem like a geeky comic book guy. "I could show you some of my stuff…if you wanna grab a coffee?"
Caroline looked at the time on her phone and then back up at Tyler who was smiling at her hopefully. Shane had let them out twenty minutes early, but she knew she needed to get back to Klaus. Just because Caroline had extra time didn't mean she could go wasting it. Still, Tyler was super cute and he was flirting with her, even if the way he went about it was a little creepy. It had been a long time since she had gotten any boy attention.
"Okay," Caroline said, "but I have somewhere to be in twenty minutes, so just a quick one."
Tyler took her to one of the local shops across the street and bought her a vanilla latte and blueberry scone. When he walked back up to the counter to retrieve their drinks, Caroline quickly applied some lip-gloss and fluffed her hair.
They sat at one of the window tables and chatted. Tyler showed her some of his sketches, which looked quite good to her untrained eye. He told her about his high school days, growing up in a small town in Illinois, and his dashed hopes of a football scholarship to Ohio State after a knee injury took him out of athletics for good.
"Probably the best thing that happened to me," Tyler said, "I was a dick in high school. The silver lining of it all was that I got into drawing, made other friends, I think I'm happier now than I was back then." Caroline smiled. Tyler seemed like a genuine nice guy. He was funny and interesting and she couldn't get over that smile and those eyes. "Well I've rambled enough I'm sure, what about you Caroline?"
She opened her mouth to speak, when she noticed the time. Her stolen twenty minutes were up. "I have to go," Caroline said with an apologetic smile, "but I'll see you in class next week?"
Tyler stood up with her. "Oh yeah you've got a thing," he said. "Well maybe we could meet up sooner? Some friends are having a party tonight. Over in Baskerville Hall."
Caroline's head snapped up. "Did you say Baskerville Hall?"
"Yeah," he said pulling an orange flier out of his bag and passing it to her. She took and read the information. It said the time and place of the party, advertising free beer and jello shots to the first fifty guests. "They always block off like three whole floors and throw these insane parties. Not sure if you're a party girl, but they are pretty wild."
Caroline wasn't really a party girl, she had left those days behind in high school, but there was no way she was saying no to this.
"Look at this!"
Klaus was at the dining table, tinkering with a bunch of locks scattered around. Some knew, some looking like they came straight from the middle ages. Caroline beamed with pride as she slapped a hideous orange flier onto the table, interrupting him. Klaus spared a glance before returning his attention to the lock in his hand.
"An invitation to a college party?"
"At Baskerville Hall," she said sitting into the chair across from him, "this is how to get in. Maybe that Hayley girl will be at the party."
Klaus picked up the flier, giving a second look. "Where did you get this?"
"This guy Tyler, in my class, he gave it to me."
Klaus's gave Caroline a once over, a knowing smile on his lips. "Well that explains the lip gloss. You're flirting with some college boy while I sit here alone, with nothing to do but dream about finding a fix. Any longer and you may have lost me."
Caroline rolled her eyes, getting up from the table and heading for the fridge to grab a water bottle. "Please, you're fine. You have plenty of murders and case files to go over and keep your mind occupied for an extra twenty minutes," she took a sip of water. "What are you doing right now anyways?"
"Organizing my locks," Klaus replied setting the lock down and standing up to look over his arrangement. "By country of origin this time. It helps me think."
She still felt a little guilty about leaving him unsupervised. "Do you think you'll be okay though tonight with me gone again? I promise it won't be long. Just in and out, long enough to find out who Hayley is and what she knows about the symbol."
Klaus threw his head back and laughed out loud. Caroline cocked her head at him. "Oh," he said, his laughter subsiding. "You were serious when you suggested going to a party alone to question a suspect."
"I can do it."
"Did I miss the part on your resume that said you had police training love?"
"Did I miss the part on yours?" Caroline challenged. "I'm a psych student. I know how to talk to people and ask them questions to get them talking."
Klaus raised his eyebrows. "Because you've done so well with me on that count."
"You don't count," Caroline scoffed.
"You know what I mean," she replied, ignoring his feigned pouting. "Look you can't go to this party. There will be alcohol. Drugs. Girls. Too much temptation."
"I don't believe women are off limits the last I checked," Klaus said. "You worry too much, Caroline. I'll be busy with work, concentrating on collecting information. All will be fine."
Caroline twisted her mouth in consideration for a moment, before letting out a sigh.
"Fine," she said pointing a finger at him, "but if you so much as look at a Solo cup of beer we are out of there."
"Yes ma'am," he muttered, tipping back in his chair. "Of course I wouldn't actually call cheap grade frat boy weed a drug…it barely has the effects of a cigarette."
A few hours after sunset, Caroline came downstairs in a purple party dress and matching heels. She had changed her outfit six times before settling on her current dress, still worrying that she might be overdressed for a college party. It seemed weird that she was six years into college yet had never attended a single party. Caroline wasn't much of a drinker, since she found it easier to be a sober companion if she abided by the same rules of abstinence her clients did. It wasn't a requirement of the job; it was just how she chose to work. The only time she really had any alcohol was the sporadic glass of wine now and then during dinners with Lexi or on special occasions.
Klaus was waiting for her at the bottom of the stairs. He was wearing a casual vest and pants over a white shirt, the sleeves rolled up to his elbows. At his neck was the usual array of beads and necklaces. His eyes scanned her outfit, hair, and makeup.
"Dressed to impress I see," Klaus said.
Caroline rolled her eyes as she double-checked her purse to make sure she had everything she needed for the evening. She was starting to get used to his constant assessment of her every move, word, and clothing choice. "Doesn't hurt to look good."
His eyes roamed over her legs again, enjoying the way the heels accentuated the shape of her calves. "Indeed," Klaus said, "I'm sure Taylor will appreciate it."
"Tyler," she corrected, "and we'll see."
Klaus opened the door for her and they headed out to the street to hail a cab.
Baskerville Hall was located in the loop, near her school. It wasn't officially a dorm, but for all intents and purposes that was what was. The building was affiliated with the city colleges and it was mostly students who lived there. That must have been why, Caroline guessed, they could get away with big parties without neighbor complaints.
They walked through the glass revolving door and into the lobby, signing their names to the guest list. The security guard checked their IDs and let them through. They headed into the elevators with the other partygoers. The doors slid open at the eleventh floor and they were greeted by a group of laughing girls.
Music blasted down the hall and a large crowd had already gathered. People stood against the walls with red plastic cups in hand sipping and laughing and bobbing their heads to the beat. A group of giggling girls darted from room to room, stumbling on their high heels.
"Welcome," a blonde said to them as they stepped off, "This is the beer floor, the kegs are in 1104, there's beer pong around the corner in the lounge. Twelve has the bar with all the liquor and on thirteen we have the glow floor, with dancing, jello shots, the usual. And please respect the residents; don't go hooking up in other people's beds unless invited. Have fun!"
With a shared look, they stepped into the party. The smell of beer hanging in the air brought Caroline back to her high school days of getting drunk at the falls with her boyfriend and friends, tailgating at games and sneaking sips from a flask, bonfires with s'mores and a bottle of tequila snuck out from a parental liquor collection. Innocent fun. This party…it was something else. It was like the parties seen in movies or on TV, where everyone was running around wild and trashed.
"Everything alright?" Klaus asked, with a hand on her back.
"Yeah," she nodded.
"You look more frightened at this than you did at the crime scene."
Klaus was right; she was being ridiculous, there was no reason to be nervous. She used to be the life of the party; she should be able to handle it. But them being there wasn't really about being at the party or her enjoyment of it, it was about looking out for Klaus, while he came to do what he needed to.
"So how do we find Hayley?"
"All good things come to those who wait," Klaus replied.
Caroline's eyebrow quirked up. "You really believe that?"
"No, but soon everyone will be drunk enough that I can start asking around for her and they will think nothing of it."
Caroline shook her head and laughed.
"Caroline!" She heard her name over the music and loud din of conversation and turned to see Tyler walking toward her. He greeted her with a smile. "You came."
"Yeah," she said. The charming smile slid from Tyler's face as he looked over at Klaus standing next to her. "Is this your brother?"
Caroline wanted to laugh at the hopeful, yet cautious note of his question. She hadn't even thought about what being there with Klaus might look like to Tyler. For a split second she thought about going along with the brother story, but the English accent would be a dead giveaway that they were not related.
"Tyler, this is Klaus. Klaus, Tyler," Caroline said by way of introducing them. "He's…my butler."
Klaus pressed his lips together in a smirk, while Tyler attempted to correct his confused expression. "Butler?" The two of them shook hands; Tyler eyeing Klaus carefully, but seeming less worried than he had before. "Um well, good to meet you. Can I get you guys some drinks?"
Caroline opened her mouth to respond by Klaus jumped in. "Thanks mate, but I think I'll go upstairs. I'm intrigued by this 'glow floor' whatever it is."
"Uh yeah," Tyler said, "it's pretty cool."
Klaus gave Caroline a smile and threaded his way through the hall to the stairwell door. Caroline looked after him, wondering if letting him out of her sight was a good idea. But Klaus had promised that he would focus on work. Maybe he was just being kind as well, and letting her have some time with Tyler.
She followed Tyler down the hall and into one of the apartments. It was a large layout. Directly inside was the living room with the kitchen toward the back. She could see four bedroom doors branching off, a few people hanging out in each of the rooms. In the middle of the living room were six metal kegs, set in tubs of ice. Tyler headed toward the guy handing out plastic cups.
"Actually," she said touching his arm, "is there water?"
Tyler gave her a confused look but shrugged. "Sure, this way."
He led her over to the kitchen, where there was less people and opened the fridge. Tyler grabbed a bottle of water and handed it to her. She accepted it with a smile.
"I'm not really a big drinker," she said in explanation.
"That's fine," Tyler reassured her, "I'm just glad we get to hang out again. Although…I didn't expect you to bring a date."
Caroline had to smile and the insecurity. It was cute. "Not my date. Trust me."
"Well, good," Tyler said with a smile.
Klaus made a break away from Caroline, having no interest in watching the mating rituals of twenty-somethings. It only took him four seconds to decide exactly what type of man…or boy rather…that this Tyler was. Klaus was altogether sure Tyler wasn't deserving of Caroline's attention. But that was for her to deduce. He had learned long ago from his sister not to delve into her romantic affairs when he didn't approve.
"Nik, just because you don't believe in love doesn't mean the rest of us have to die miserable and alone."
Then again, not trusting his instincts in that situation hadn't ended very well.
But Caroline wasn't his sister or even his friend. She was more or less an employee. There was no reason to care about her or her social life. He shook the thoughts away and continued up the stairs, passing a couple making out against the wall.
Klaus wasn't concerned with relationships the way most people were. Normal people went out to bars and social activities always searching for that special someone. They went on awkward first dates, suffering through the interview process of getting to know someone. They shared secrets and feelings and sometimes it ended badly and sometimes it ended with a house, two children, and a dog. But he also knew love had an end point. It was finite, just like everything else in the world. People could wake up one day and change their minds. Love wasn't something that could be measured or predicted, so he wanted nothing to do with it.
Sex, on the other hand, he understood. Sex he enjoyed. There was a formula to it, a goal. It was human and functional and necessary to living a healthy life. And it could be a nice distraction every now and again.
He grasped the door handle that would lead him to the thirteenth floor. As he pulled it open, a girl slipped through, sliding against him, her breasts brushing against his chest. He followed her with his head and admired the red-lipped, come-hither stare she gave him.
Klaus resisted the temptation however, maintaining his focus and purpose, as he had told Caroline he would. He turned toward the door and walked through onto the thirteenth floor.
This was the 'glow floor'.
Techno music pulsed like a heartbeat, as bodies writhed in time, twisting around in a sweating, alcohol-induced trance. Black lights shined down from the ceilings, casting purple shadows in every direction. The walls of the floor glowed with neon paint and the partiers were decked out in glow-in-the-dark necklaces and braces.
Trouble was afoot. Klaus felt like he could smell it. In fact he actually could smell it. Caroline was right with her concerns. It was difficult being in this place. Certain temptations he could quell, but others…they still had a hold over him. He closed his eyes and sucked in a breath through his mouth, calming his urges. There was nothing to be found on this floor. It was too dark; there were too many people. He would go back downstairs. A better idea came to him…
"So Mystic Falls, Virginia? That's a long way from home," Tyler said.
They had left the apartment with the kegs and found a quieter place to hang out. Tyler said it belonged to another friend of his. There were half a dozen or so other people sitting around, sipping drinks and chatting. It looked like couples mostly, at least to Caroline. She noticed the way all of them seemed to be paired off—boy, girl, boy, girl—and the body language. There were probably those people who still went out to parties because they felt like they should to keep up appearances, but would much rather be curled up at home together. She guessed that every person in the room would be gone within the next thirty minutes.
Then she stopped, shaking her head, and clearing her mind of the obsessive observations. Damn! She was already picking up this habit of Klaus's. Next thing she knew she would be wearing beaded necklaces and obsessing over stab wounds and the size and shape caused by different knives.
"You okay?" Tyler asked.
Caroline gave him a smile. "Yeah sorry," she said. What had Tyler just been asking her before that? Maybe she should ask him something? Or maybe she should just nod?
"Sorry just asking boring first date stuff."
They had settled next to a high top table near the apartment's open kitchen. Caroline turned and slipped onto on of the stools. "This is a date?"
"Ouch," Tyler laughed. "Well if you don't think so I'd like a chance to make it up to you. A real date, not a party. Dinner maybe? "
"Hmmm," Caroline hummed in consideration. "That could be a possibility."
"Hey yo Tyler!"
Caroline turned around to see another guy around their age approaching them. He had dark hair, a similar style to Tyler's, but with a bit of scruff around his jaw and a nice smile. Tyler greeted him with one of those typical high-five handshake things guys usually did, giving him a slap on the back.
"Hey Dean, what up man?"
"Just got here," Dean answered, " who's this lovely lady?"
"Dean, Caroline, Caroline, Dean" Tyler said. In return, Dean gave her a smile and a head nod, then returned his attention to Tyler.
"Have you seen Hayley around?" Dean asked, lowering his voice a bit. Caroline's interest piqued. She wondered if it could possibly be…
"I don't think she wants to talk to you man."
"Come on bro, can't you put in a good word for me?"
Tyler gave him an uncomfortable smile and Caroline decided to jump in.
"Who's Hayley?" She asked, earning an unsure look from Dean.
"An old friend from back home," Tyler said.
"I'm just trying to get my boy to help me out," Dean said to Caroline, slinging an arm around Tyler.
"Well it doesn't help much when you completely diss her by bringing some other girl to a party," Tyler said, "I can only do so much. Hayley doesn't take that kind of crap."
"She lives in this building right?" Caroline asked. "Is she here?"
"She's probably upstairs. She lives on fourteen. And no I haven't seen her yet tonight," the last was directed at Dean, "you know how she is, she'll walk in at the last minute."
Fourteen, Caroline thought. That narrowed things down. There were only so many apartments on each floor. It was time to find Klaus and go look for Hayley. She felt a little proud, and excited, finding the information they were looking for. Plus, it was time to check on him anyways and make sure he hadn't had a slip ups.
"I should find my friend," Caroline said, "just to check in."
She excused herself from Tyler and Dean and made her way through the crowd, in search of Klaus.
"Excuse me, I'm having a bit of trouble and thought you could help me."
Klaus slumped over the security desk, looking rumpled, his eyes blinking and unfocused. The guard behind the desk was a different one from the person who had been there when they arrived. Now it was a thick, older woman on watch. She looked up from behind the high desk, unamused at another drunk person disrupting her evening.
"I've lost my friend and can't seem to remember what floor she lives on," he hiccupped for effect, "could you help me?"
The guard let out a sigh. "Name?"
Klaus grinned, ducking his head down. "Alright you've caught me, love. I didn't get her last name, but I'd like the chance if you know what I mean…"
"Sir, I'm not going to give you the apartment number of any of our residents," she gave him another once over, "aren't you a little old to be at a party full of college students?"
"I like younger women."
With an eye roll, she returned her attention to the small television in front of her, playing reruns of some late night crime drama. Klaus could see he was getting nowhere with the guard. He slunk back, staying in character until he rounded the corner where the elevators were. Best to get back upstairs, and see about Caroline.
He turned to see a voluptuous brunette in the corner, calling for his attention. "Henreitta is a beast. No one gets past her."
Klaus's lip twitched. "So it would seem."
"You're looking for Hayley?"
The girl walked toward him and pushed the elevator button again. She wore short denim shorts and a transparent peasant blouse, giving him a good view of her black bra underneath.
"I'm guessing you're a referral."
His gazed narrowed and he decided to go along. "Something like that."
"Well she's not home right now anyways," the girl told him.
He turned to face her, his hands behind his back, his eyes narrowed. "And how do you know that?"
"Because I'm Hayley," she informed him. "Who are you and who told you about me?"
"Klaus," he extended a hand in her direction, "and it was a friend of yours. Graffiti artist."
"Derrick," Hayley said. Klaus could neither confirm nor deny this, considering they had never gotten the artist's name, but he nodded all the same, watching her roll her eyes. "That little shit."
The elevator dinged and Hayley stepped inside the empty space. "Come on," she said, "we'll talk upstairs."
Klaus rode up with to the fourteenth floor and followed her into an apartment he assumed she lived in. It was the same set up as every other place in the building that he had seen.
"My roommates are down at the party, have you been?"
"Yes," Klaus answered, taking in the details of her home, his keen eye brushing over the things that he saw and even didn't see.
"My room's this way."
Hayley led him to the second room and opened the door. Klaus continued his discreet survey once inside. She walked to her closet and took out a wooden box, setting it on her desk. Burned into the top of the box was an intricate wolf's head designed, surrounded by a flowering, swirled boarder. Klaus ran his fingers over the smooth wood.
"Have a thing for wolves?"
"You might say that," Hayley shrugged. "What are you interested in? I've got something for everyone."
He splayed his fingers across the top of the box, knowing what was inside. He could practically taste it. So close to him. A force under the lid of the box seemed to float up and through the wood, wrapping around his hand and clawing up his arm. It was the first time in over six months he had been that close to any sort of high. He could just imagine the sweet relief from the prick of a needle or the sniff of some powder. It was a battle of will, the beast inside screaming at him, bargaining, growling out just give in.
Then something caught his eye. A small slip of white paper at the edge of the corkboard behind her desk.
"So let me guess…artist?"
Klaus's attention snapped back to Hayley at her question.
"What makes you say that?"
"You know Derrick, plus you have this fuck-off sort attitude that I only get from artists."
"You know," Hayley said running a hand through her lush brown hair, "that pretentious not giving a damn about anyone or anything sort of way that all art guys seem to adapt so they can be taken more seriously. It's total bullshit. An act."
Klaus took a few steps toward her, close enough to smell her perfume and discern the exact shade of mahogany in her eyes. "Known a lot of artists have you?"
She grinned, not in the genuine happy way that Caroline seemed to affect, but in the way that said she wanted the receiver to know she was smarter than them. That she was worldly and rough edged and it was at his own peril if he chose to mess with her, but also that she might not mind being messed with.
"I've known a lot of everyone," she purred back.
"Is that so?"
Hayley let out a throaty laugh and backed away. "How about a drink? And when I come back, maybe we can make this a little more interesting."
She swerved out of the room and left him alone. Klaus fought the urge to roll his eyes at her naivety in leaving him alone with her stash. If he was an actual customer, he could steal whatever he wanted and dash out of there before she could stop him. But he noticed the lock on the box, and thought maybe she wasn't as unaware as he thought.
"Sounds perfect," Klaus called back, taking the moment to slip over and examine the paper that had caught his attention before. His eyes scanned the paper and a smile touched his lips. Fantastic.
Hayley returned with a set of glasses and a bottle, pouring drinks for the two of them. Klaus decided that the charade had been carried on long enough. While Hayley was attractive, he had no interest in bedding her. Half the reason was the drugs. It wouldn't surprise him if any sexual escapade with her began and ended there. The other half was the fact that he could smell the insecurity rolling off of her. He could see it in her room. The lack of photos indicated that she was without many friends and possible family. The fact that she dealt drugs was probably symptomatic of that as well. The wear on her clothes said she wasn't rich; the brands supported this theory too. In her closet he only spotted two other pairs of shoes, boots and sneakers, very practical for someone needing to be frugal.
"Here," Hayley said handing him the glass of whiskey. The bittersweet smell invaded his nostrils as she clinked her own glass against his. "Cheers."
Klaus was about to set the drink down and excuse himself, when they were interrupted.
"Who the fuck is this?"
Klaus and Hayley turned to see the newcomer and Klaus was met with a violent stare.
Caroline was on the thirteenth floor when she heard someone pop in from the stairwell and call out "fight." She had a bad feeling about it and rushed forward to beat the other curious partiers from getting to the door first. Running up the stairs, she burst through the door to the fourteenth floor and saw a crowd gathering outside of one of the rooms and angry male shouting coming from inside. She shoved her way through the audience, trying to get a peek, and praying that Klaus was not involved.
"Hayley I thought you were fucking done with this shit!"
"Dean this isn't really any of your business. If anything is done here, it's you. Let go of me."
"Now that's no way to treat a lady."
Caroline groaned at the last. That had definitely been Klaus's voice.
"What are you going to do about it asshole?"
Caroline reached the front of the line just in time to see Tyler's friend Dean, shove Klaus. Tyler was on the other side, looking between the three of them ready to step in.
"You don't want to do that," Klaus told him.
"What this?" Dean shoved him again.
Klaus stumbled back and chuckled. "Look mate, I'm not the man you want to pull the alpha male act on, so why don't you-"
Dean swung at Klaus, who ducked and then uppercut him in the stomach. Caroline rushed forward when Dean doubled over and Klaus swung back for another punch. Without thinking, she grabbed his arm in both hands and placed her body between him and Dean. Maybe not the smartest move on her part. Klaus paused, but his eyes were still hot on his opponent. Caroline knew that to get the guys to stop fighting she had to break their eye contact. Her hands went to his face and she attempted to turn his gaze to her.
"Klaus," she demanded her fingers pressing into his cheeks, "Klaus stop it!"
His stormy eyes flicked to her and she flinched at the look. For the first time, she saw the anger and rage that she had read about. This was the part of his personality that led him to almost killing a man once. Ignoring the alarm she felt, she kept her eyes locked with his, and held his face firmly in her hands.
"We are leaving," she ordered in the most commanding voice she could muster.
Klaus broke away and she followed him in a blur through the crowd and down to the street.
Once outside, the tension seemed to have lifted from Klaus. "Well I think we found a new lead," he announced, "that girl—"
Caroline held up a hand to stop him. "I don't care. I do not give a damn about leads or murderers right now. Right now I want to know what the hell just happened up there? No, you know what—I think I know. I've picked up a few tricks from you over the past few days and here's what I can deduce. One) you reek of alcohol so all I can think is that you've been drinking. Two) You're getting into fist fights so obviously your judgment is impaired and Three)…well one and two are enough! I can't believe I fell for this."
Klaus frowned, unamused with her assessment. "You really think that low of me? That I took this as a cover to find a fix? To release the anger I've been holding back and learning how to control for months?"
"I don't know what to think Klaus," Caroline said, "but this is it. I've been going easy on you. Tomorrow is a different story. Tomorrow you will start going to group sessions, you will get serious about finding a sponsor, and if you don't start talking to me we'll find someone else for you to talk to. We have five weeks left together and I'm not going to let you bully me anymore. This is my job to help you continue to be better and I'm going to do that and I'm not going to let you or anyone or anything else get in the way of that got it? I don't give a damn how smart you think you are and you think I'm not. No more screwing around. From now on, we do things my way."
Anyone remember the Tyler can draw storyline from season 2? I decided to adapt that here.
Also, I don't want to come off as a Hayley hater! I'm totally not. I think she makes a lot of naive decisions based on the fact that she thinks she's smarter and tougher than she actually is...so that's the kind of characterization I'm giving her in this chapter.
The "locks" thing with Klaus is carried over from Sherlock in Elementary.
Anyways, drop me a review and let me know what you think :)
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