She told herself that she'd gotten over the whole Inability to Have Kids thing years ago. She acknowledged the suckiness of the situation, realized that she was still getting the better end of the stick with the whole immortality thing, and decided that she'd moved on. There were bigger and better things to be done in the world instead of moping about how she would never feel the weight of a pregnant belly or the immeasurable joys and pride of parenthood. She was maternal in other ways, constantly nurturing someone, somewhere. Sometimes, though, Caroline would let her strength slip. It only happened occasionally and it was generally in quick glimpses of children or parenthood and she would just excuse herself and take a few moments. She kept these moments to herself, because she couldn't bear sharing the weight of her emptiness with anyone else, but sometimes she was sure that Klaus knew. He was sweeter to her then, and more protective, winding himself around her like a barrier between her and the world.
The suburbs affected her the most. The big cities she could handle, even though there were multitudes of more children in them, but the suburbs made her reminisce about her childhood and The Life Plan she had so eagerly wished to follow. Fall in love, get married, buy a beautiful house with a picket fence and have three children and a dog and a Subaru and read issues of Good Housekeeping and spend time at Girl Scout meetings and soccer practice and take copious pictures of her little babies growing up and work on her marriage and fulfill the American Dream. That was the plan. That was her life, up until she was seventeen and a whole lot of shit happened, and even though this Caroline, New Vampire Caroline got to travel the world and had accomplished falling in love, she still missed what could have been.
She was sitting on a train, head nuzzled against Klaus's shoulder as she flipped through a stack of magazines. They were passing green pastures and residential neighborhoods. They'd been in a rush to get to Amsterdam for some party Rebekah was throwing for Stefan's birthday and had just hopped onto the nearest piece of transportation, not bothering to compel a private car or prepare a private jet. They didn't travel in public often, because Klaus was the most paranoid person Caroline had pretty much ever met, but she enjoyed it sometimes. She liked watching people and trying to figure out their stories by observing them. She liked the warmth of human contact and the simplicity involved in a human life.
She was flipping through a lifestyle magazine, mentally bookmarking recipes for cauliflower alfredo sauce and ravioli with strange spices, and then she turned the page and there was a picture of a family smiling up at her, the parents entwined around each other and the three children laughing goofily and normally Caroline was fine, Caroline was strong, but goddamn, sometimes the rush of emotions would hit her and she just wasn't okay.
She stared down at the picture, the suburban house in the background and the compact SUV parked in the driveway and for a second, Caroline could see it. She could see her entire life mapped out again, car and kids and dog, getting up for late brunch on Sunday mornings and eating dinner at the dining room table every night; tucking in children and reading bedtime stories; back to school shopping and parent teacher conferences. She could see it, this entire double life that she thought she had already convinced herself that she didn't need, and the longing intensified.
"Sweetheart?" Klaus questioned, looking down at her questioningly, because she hadn't flipped the page in minutes.
Caroline snapped to attention, shutting the magazine and tossing it onto the seat next to her.
"Bathroom." She said shortly, standing up abruptly and moving to walk around him.
Klaus's hand caught her wrist just as she was about to leave the aisle, pulling her back to him. "What's wrong, Caroline?" He asked again, this time his voice more severe.
Caroline shook her head. "Have to pee." She said, but she refused to look at him because the tears were already pricking behind her eyes. She felt weak, her emotional state so fragile in juxtaposition of her immortal strength, and she was embarrassed to show that side of her to Klaus. He was always so strong, so unbothered by the opportunities he would never be able to experience.
"Sweetheart," Klaus started again warningly, but Caroline shook her head and removed her wrist from his grasp.
"Be right back." She said and walked away from him.
The restrooms were cramped corridors, glorified versions of what they had on airplanes, but Caroline didn't need space to have an emotional breakdown. She slammed into the first available stall and fell against the sink, facing away from the mirror as she let her composure crumble. The tears were immediate, just like the familiar sinking feeling in her stomach and the shortness of breath. She raised her fist to her mouth to keep the sobs from breaking through, fully aware that Klaus was probably listening in. She hiccupped against her fingers, her body shaking with the weight of disappointment and sadness and nostalgia; opportunities lost and also things that she would never be able to experience. Maybe immortality and great cities and art and love were worth it, but a part of her would trade Amsterdam and Rome for children and a dog.
He waited three minutes to come find her, which Caroline had to give him props for because he was learning how to use restraint. He didn't even bother to knock on the door, just pulled it open and stepped inside. She felt the weight of his stare for less than a second before she was curled into him, his arms fitting snugly around her shoulders and waist.
"Caroline," he whispered soothingly into her ear as she shook around him. She sunk into his soft shirt and cried, feeling silly and stupid and weak but also safe, because Klaus would protect her no matter what.
"You'll be alright, sweetheart," he murmured into her ear. "I love you."
He wasn't an expert on comfort, she knew, but he was trying, and that had to count for something.
"I'm s-s-sorry." Caroline stammered out against his chest. "I'm fi-fine."
She pulled away, wiping her fingers underneath her eyes to collect traces of running mascara.
"Fine." Klaus repeated dryly, staring down at her incredulously. "Because sobbing in a train bathroom usually equates to fine."
Caroline sniffed. "Temporary moment of weakness." She turned to stare at herself in the mirror, grimacing at the rings of darkness around her eyes and the flush around her cheeks.
Klaus stared at her through the mirror, dissecting her face for a moment, searching for something, before he placed both of his hands on her waist and pressed a kiss against the side of her neck.
"You're allowed to have those, you know." He murmured into her neck.
Caroline refused to meet his eyes. She wadded up toilet paper and started wiping away makeup remains from her face. She shrugged again. "It's fine. It's cool. Don't worry about it."
"Caroline." He said into her neck, this time less sweet and again in that same warning tone. "You're allowed to feel sad."
"I don't want you to think that I'm unhappy." She blurted out suddenly, focusing on her face in the mirror. She turned on the water and splashed some droplets on her face. "I'm happy. I swear. Sometimes I just – but it's nothing. It's totally nothing and it's totally fine. Seriously."
"My opinion of you is never going to change." Klaus reassured her. "And it's obviously not fine. What's bothering you?"
"I don't want to bother you." She said, trying once again to circumvent the issue at hand and move on. A part of her really, really didn't want to talk about it, to bring up those issues with Klaus, but then a part of her thought that if she couldn't share them with him, after they've been together for so long, who could she share them with? The weight was getting heavy to shoulder along.
"I want you to bother me." Klaus replied quickly. "Your happiness is paramount, love. Now enlighten me as to what has you crying, if you please."
Caroline hesitated, the words caught somewhere between her consciousness and her throat. She took a deep breath, tried to center herself, and finally made eye contact with him as she forced the words out.
"I want a family." She said, and then, watching as Klaus's eyes flickered from concern to fear to something much more guarded, she continued. "I know that it's not going to happen and I'm being totally ridiculous, but sometimes it just gets to me, y'know? Like how there are all of these big happy families with their minivans and their totally normal, totally storybook lives. I thought that's who I was going to be for so long that letting it go is hard. I never had a choice in giving that up and I'm not saying that I regret being a vampire because I don't. I mean, I wouldn't be here right now if it weren't for Katherine's thirst for revenge and bitchiness, but it still kind of sucks that I got that taken away from me. I just – I see these families and sometimes it hits me, this longing for something I can never have. I think a part of me is always going to want that. I know it's unrealistic and I'm not saying that I'm going to go to great lengths to have a family because it's never going to happen, but the want is still there. It just hurts. I'll be fine, though. I swear. I will go on."
Klaus just stared at her, digesting the information slowly. She watched as he swallowed, seeming to form the words carefully.
"I will give you the world, Caroline, but there are some things that I—," he started and immediately she cut him off.
"I'm not expecting you to give me this, Klaus. Seriously. That's not why I said it."
He stopped, nodded, seemed to gather himself once more. "I—I love you." He said, before turning her around and pressing a chaste kiss against her lips. "If I could give you a family, I would."
Caroline nodded under his gaze. "I know," she said.
"I mean it." He pressed.
"I know," she said, "and that's what makes being a vampire worth it."
A/N: This was the response to a request that I got on my writing Tumblr (sociopathsweetserialkiller, for those of you interested ;P) and I think it turned out all right for some nice Klaroline fluff, so here you go!