Everyone is human and in high school AU; Klaus is the super nerdy and shy guy and he's completely in love with Caroline (duh!), the popular head cheerleader.
"Hey, man," Stefan's friendly pat on the shoulder brings Klaus back to the present, making him turn around with a slightly dazed expression on his features.
"Oh, hey," he answers with a small smile, setting his square, black-rimmed glasses, which had slightly fallen down his nose, back in place with the tip of his right index finger.
The Salvatore boy sits down next to his friend, resting his yellow tray on the empty table in front of them. The cafeteria is full and loud; like it always is during lunch break—students are freely roaming around, chatting and eating, regaining some energy and simply enjoying some time with their friends, away from annoying teachers and boring books.
"I wonder what had you so captivated," Stefan jokes with a broad smirk on his lips.
Klaus narrows his eyes at his friend for a moment, before quickly shrugging and averting his gaze.
"I don't know what you mean."
"Mmh," Stefan eyes him with skepticism. "Blonde, five foot seven, head cheerleader—does it ring any bells?"
"Riiiight. So what made you forget to get your lunch?" Stefan asks with a pointed look at the lack of a tray in front of his best friend, watching him struggle for a somewhat believable answer with raised eyebrows.
Eventually, Klaus sighs, defeated.
"Whatever, Salvatore. Mind your own business."
"So you're telling me that I shouldn't be worried over the fact that my best friend—that's you, by the way—has been pining for the same girl for over two years, now?"
"It hasn't been two years," Klaus rebuts with a scowl, crossing his arms over his chest.
"You're right, it's probably more," Stefan gives him a pointed look.
Klaus sighs again, shaking his head. "Just... let me handle this, alright?"
"Handle this?" Stefan repeats, almost incredulously, his eyes widening. "Man, you're great and all, but you have no chance with someone like her. Like, ever. You can do better anyway,"—Klaus scoffs—"You can. She's just a snobby–"
"Enough!" Klaus roars, hitting the surface of the cafeteria table with his clenched fist, his voice loud enough to turn some heads from the nearby tables.
He pauses for a moment, avoiding his friend's eyes. "She's not like that; you don't know her."
It's Stefan's turn to scoff. "And you do?"
Clenching his jaw and gritting his teeth together, he exhales heavily, not answering.
"Yeah, that's why I thought," Stefan nods his head, almost looking disappointed. "Look, Nik," he sighs. "I'm not doing this to be an ass, but I honestly think that this little crush that you have on Caroline Forbes has gone way too far. Move on, man."
There's a long moment of silence, before Klaus suddenly stands up from his chair, still not looking at his friend.
"I've just remembered that there's this–this Chemistry project that I should be working on," he hastily grabs his backpack and finally turns towards Stefan. "I'll see you later."
The other boy has no chance to reply, because in a few seconds Klaus has already walked away, allowing himself one last glance at the blonde beauty that has so utterly captured his heart before leaving the cafeteria.
As he walks the almost completely empty hallways towards his locker, a sad frown takes over his features, and a nerve-wracking sense of failure and frustration settles down at the pit of his stomach.
The mere thought that Stefan might be right kills him.
It's not like he isn't aware of the fact that Caroline is way out of his league, but he doesn't like what his friend has implied. His is not a stupid, unrequited, borderline stalkerish crush. Well, alright—unrequited? Probably. But the rest? No. Never. He doesn't only like Caroline because she's beautiful and popular, and he doesn't fancy himself as a character in one of those sappy movies, where the outcast and the princess suddenly fall head over heels in love with each other—no. There's more to it. It hurts him to realize that not even his best friend knows him well enough to understand that.
Klaus is not, by a country mile, a shallow guy. If he were, he would probably use contact lenses instead of glasses, he would actually attempt to comb his messy hair in the morning, he wouldn't dress up with the first shirt that he finds lying around in his room, and so many more other things. And, furthermore, it's not like there aren't dozens of other pretty girls in Mystic Falls. Nobody could ever compare to Caroline—for him, at least—but, with a little bit more effort, he is sure that he could find someone willing to go out on a date with him. He's painfully shy and awkward—he knows that—especially when the opposite sex is concerned, but his younger twin siblings Kol and Rebekah have tried to set him up with different friends of theirs a thousand times before, and it has always been his lack of interest to sink the ship, so to speak. If it wasn't Caroline, he just didn't care.
If he actually stops for a second and tries to think back about when exactly he has fallen so hard for her, one particular moment immediately stands out from the rest.
He had always liked Caroline Forbes better than all the other petty, fake and spoiled girls in his school; she seemed friendly and genuine—she seemed real. She was nice to everyone, no matter what their so-called 'social status' was, and she even frequently chastised her friends whenever she saw them openly making fun of someone else. She was the one who had allowed Rebekah to become part of the cheerleading team, putting her foot down no matter the fact that her right-hand woman—Elena Gilbert—had somehow seemed to take an instant dislike to his little sister. He knew that she freely stayed and helped at a nursing home on weekends, and that she had straight A's. And, most importantly, since that one day when they had found themselves in the same dodgeball team during PE, she would always—always—wave at him whenever they would run into each other, even saying 'hi' to him and making small conversation from time to time (she would do all the talking—of course—while he would simply nod and blush, and maybe stutter a few words once in a while).
To make a long story short, Caroline Forbes was just too kind not to have everyone absolutely adoring her. If anyone actually deserved to be popular in that school, there was no doubt in Klaus' mind that it was her.
And, for a while, he had been content with the simple knowledge that people like Caroline—people who defied the stereotypes—actually existed in this world.
Until one day—it was one of the first weeks of his Sophomore year—something had suddenly shifted.
He was quietly strolling to class after a little break spent with Stefan and Jeremy in the school's back garden, making jokes and talking about movies and comic books. There were next to no people roaming the hallways, and he wasn't paying much attention to his surroundings—well, when does he ever?—instead concentrating on putting his sketchbook back into his backpack. And then, before he had even had the time to realize what was happening and react, he had walked right into somebody else, ungraciously falling to the floor and bringing said person down with him.
Since Klaus has always been a very lucky person in his life (insert snort here, because—yeah, right), that person had been nobody else other than the infamous cousin of the already mentioned Elena—Katherine Pierce; and, if there is anything that everybody knows about Katherine Pierce, is that she's as bratty as they come.
Klaus had simply closed his eyes as the brunette started screaming various insults aimed at him at the top of her lungs, throwing his fallen books at him before hastily standing up and scurrying away. He was no stranger to being ridiculed, but that didn't mean that it didn't hurt him every single time. He could feel every pair of eyes of the students present on him, and all he would have wanted to do was to magically become invisible, to disappear.
Huffing to fight back the tears that were threatening to form at the corners of his eyes, he started to recollect his things, scattered on the floor. Suddenly, he noticed someone kneeling in front of him, and slightly and slowly tilted his head to see who it was.
"Are you okay?" Caroline asked in a low tone, genuine concern marring her otherwise perfect features.
Swallowing down the humiliation that he was feeling and lowering his eyes to the ground, Klaus meekly nodded.
"I'm sorry," Caroline sighed, gathering some of the sheets of paper that had fallen out of his notebooks.
Klaus shook his head. "It's not your fault."
"I just... I should have stopped her before she–"
"Don't," he interrupted her, albeit softly, finally raising his eyes into hers. "It's fine, really."
"No, it's not! It's not fine, Klaus. But... Katherine, she's not that bad underneath it all. It's just... complicated."
Klaus attempted a small, reassuring smile. "You don't have to apologize for being friends with her, Caroline."
"Well, right now I definitely feel like I do," a sad smile curved her lips, as she looked down at a particular drawing, her eyes slightly widening.
"Did you do this?" she asked in a small, awed whisper, showing him the slightly creased piece of paper in her hands.
"Uhm, yeah," he mumbled, somewhat awkwardly, scratching the back of his head with his right hand as his cheeks reddened. He had never really shown his work to anybody before, not his family, not even Stefan, and the fact that Caroline (of all people) was intently looking at one of his drawings made him anxious. Not uncomfortable, just nervous. For some reason that he couldn't really explain, he wanted her to like it.
Her eyes surveyed the drawing with care and attention, taking into its every line and detail, before meeting Klaus' slightly expectant gaze again.
"It's beautiful," she whispered, a genuine smile appearing on her lips as she passed the sheet back to him.
"Thank you," he shyly averted his gaze, finally stuffing all of his things back into his backpack just as the bell rang.
They both stood back up on their feet, Caroline still smiling.
"Well, I'll see you around, Klaus," she said, before leaving a rather dumbfounded Mikaelson in the middle of the now very crowded hallway, wondering how had he just fallen in love with her.
"Alright, kids. If nobody has any questions or doubts about this project, I'm going to pair you up now."
After a few moments of silence, Mr. Blake, the History teacher, sighs wistfully and clasps his hands together.
He starts studying the class register with a small wrinkle furrowing between his eyebrows, intent on making couples that could work well enough together but still wanting to try to pair up people that wouldn't usually choose each other as partners.
After muttering a few times under his breath, he finally makes up his mind.
"Bonnie Bennett and April Young, you two get to choose a topic from chapter one. Meredith Fell and Tyler Lockwood, you get chapter two. Caroline Forbes and Niklaus Mikaelson, chapter three. Elena Gilbert and—"
But the teacher's voice suddenly fades away, because all Klaus can focus on is the fact that he has actually just been paired with Caroline—Caroline Forbes—for a project that will count for more than half of their History grade this semester, and which will therefore require for the two of them to spend quite the big amount of time together.
He wants to pinch himself, he wants to make sure that this is actually happening and that he hasn't instead just somehow fallen asleep during class and is conjuring it all up in his wishful mind.
He's actually a mere second away from doing so, eyes still widened and lips slightly parted, when he catches Caroline beaming at him with a wide, genuine smile from her seat a few rows ahead. It's really all he can do to smile right back, sending whatever Gods live above him his most heartfelt thank you's, for finally giving him a chance to really get to know the wonderful mystery hiding behind Caroline Forbes all on his own.
Take that, Salvatore.
The rest of the period goes by quickly and mindlessly, and for the very first time in his whole high school career, Klaus couldn't remotely tell for the life of his what the lesson was even about, too lost in his many Caroline-related daydreams.
Unfortunately, though, it doesn't take long for his happy, wishful thoughts to turn into the invincible terror of making a complete fool out of himself (even more so than usually) in front of her, given the fact that they will have to be alone, just the two of them, more than once, to properly work on this project.
By the time that the bell finally rings, indicating the end of the class, Klaus is already second-guessing something that hasn't even happened yet, sweating and cursing under his breath.
The nerves get even worse as he notices Caroline saying goodbye to her friends by the door, and then moving towards him with a smile on her face, until she's right in front of his desk as he slowly puts his books back into his backpack.
He has to lower his gaze and slightly clear his throat before answering.
"Soooo, the project."
"Yeah... the project," he repeats, still avoiding her eyes.
She's probably thinking that he's an idiot already, which—hey—isn't all that far from the truth right now.
From his peripheral vision, he notices her frown slightly, almost sadly, and he immediately feels guilty for a reason that he doesn't even know.
Nonetheless, she continues, looking a little bit less excited than she did just a moment ago.
"Anyway... I've checked the book and the third chapter is about the situation in Europe before the outbreak of World War One. I was thinking that we could start working on a general plan for our essay today?"
At her question, he immediately straightens up, looking at her with wide, surprised eyes.
"I mean, if you don't have anything else to do already," she quickly adds, nervously waving her right hand in front of him and almost looking somewhat flustered. "I didn't mean to assume–"
"No, don't worry," he gently interrupts her, as a tentative but genuine smile finally makes its way to his lips. "Today is perfect."
"Great! My mom will be working down at the station the whole day, so you can come over at mine if you want to?"
A sudden lump forms at the back of Klaus' throat, and he stutters incoherently for a moment as his mind wraps around what Caroline has just suggested.
He had thought that they would have been working together at the library or maybe down at the local café, where they have a more private and silent room reserved only for students, and even if it definitely makes sense for her to want them to meet at her house, where they would certainly be less disturbed and where they would have a faster Internet access if needed, her question still kind of takes him by surprise for a long moment.
Caroline nods, seemingly satisfied with his agreement.
"We can meet there right after school, then. Do you know where I live?"
(Duh. Of course he does.)
"Yeah. Yeah, I do," he answers, a bit awkwardly, as he scratches the back of his neck for lack of something better to do to slightly ease his nerves.
"Alright," the blonde nods, smiling. She takes a few steps back and speaks one last time before leaving the classroom. "See you there, then."
Gulping nervously, Klaus nods as well as he watches her disappear in the crowded hallway.
"See you there..."
Klaus hesitates for the umpteenth time, bringing his fisted hand back at his side once again and taking a deep breath.
It's just studying, and he is one hundred percent aware of that, but it still makes him anxious to know that he is just about to enter Caroline's—his-crush-of-more-than-two-years-Caroline—house for the very first time, to pretty much spend the rest of the day with her.
He can't wait for it, but he's also dreading that very moment at the same time–
–his insecurity will be the death of him, he is sure of it.
Finally feeling slightly calmer, he gathers all the courage that he can currently muster and knocks.
However, his newfound composure quickly flies out of the window as soon as Caroline opens the door in only a loose, pink sweater and a pair of far too revealing white, cotton shorts. It's not like he hasn't seen her in her cheerleading uniform a few times before, but, usually, he doesn't have the chance or time to actually fully take her in, and he certainly usually isn't just about to spend hours alone with her in close proximity.
He's a geek—yes; but he still is a man, too.
Unable to stop his eyes from traveling the length of her body, Klaus finds himself with a dry mouth and parted lips when his gaze finally meets hers.
She's blushing, and he immediately mentally curses himself for his blatant ogling. He hasn't even entered the house yet and he has already managed to make her feel uncomfortable around him—just great.
She slightly clears her throat, moving to the side.
"Come in," she smiles, a bit shyly.
He does as asked, and a nervous but exciting thrill takes over his body as his left arm slightly brushes against her collarbone as he moves past her.
"Let's move to my room, shall we?"
Still feeling rather awestruck around her, he simply nods, and then proceeds to follow behind her as she leads the way towards the stairs and then up to her bedroom.
He has never, before, really actually just stopped to think about how Caroline's room could look like, but he's pretty sure that if he had, he wouldn't have imagined it quite like it is.
There's no overdoing of stuffed animals, lace or pink, no posters of famous pop stars hanging from the walls, no designer clothes lying around in disarray. Instead, everything is clean and tidy, and she seems to have quite the serious collection of books and movies. He's impressed.
She smirks at him, and seems to be able to read the thoughts swirling around his mind.
"Not as girly as you would have expected?" she jokes, and for a moment he manages to forget that he's pretty much the definition of a loser while she's the most coveted girl in the whole town, rolling his eyes and smirking himself.
"Kind of," he answers, and Caroline smiles back at him, happy that the conversation between them finally seems to be flowing a little bit more smoothly than usually.
She quickly frees her desk from all the unnecessary books and flying sheets of paper, and brings the chair that she had gotten for him from the kitchen before he arrived closer to her own.
They open their History books and start discussing a few potential ideas, writing it all down and quickly settling into a comfortable exchanging of opinions, interrupted now and then by small conversation and brief food or bathroom breaks.
Time flies by, and it's only when Klaus receives a text message from Rebekah, who wants to know if he is coming back home for dinner, that they realize how late it has actually gotten.
"I'm so sorry," he quickly apologizes, cringing slightly at his rudeness, "I didn't mean to stay this long and impose like this."
With a small smile, Caroline shakes her head.
"Don't worry," she reassures him. "It's a me-and-the-delivery-boy kind of night, anyway."
"Oh," he frowns slightly, dejected, suddenly taken by a strong surge of jealousy, even if he's completely aware of the fact that he has no reason to feel that way, in the first place. Caroline is smart and beautiful, and just because she doesn't seem to have a particular interest in anybody at school, it doesn't mean that she's not actually seeing someone else that he doesn't know of outside of it.
"I mean—because I've ordered pizza," she corrects herself, stammering slightly.
Immediately feeling better at her clarification, Klaus gives a slow nod, fixing his glasses back up the bridge of his nose and looking around the room awkwardly, unsure on what to do. It would be the polite thing to leave now, his family is waiting for him after all, but the thought of Caroline having dinner all alone makes his heart clench painfully beneath his ribcage.
He needs—he wants—more time with her.
"Do you–uhm," she pauses, looking down at her hands on her lap as he turns to her again. "Do you want to stay, maybe? For dinner, I mean."
Taken aback, he opens his mouth, but he's unable to get any words out. Immediately, she takes his silence in the wrong way.
"I'm sorry, that was stupid of me! You have, like, a bajillion siblings, and you probably want to go back home and have dinner with them. Plus, there's only one decent place here who delivers pizzas, and of course it's closed on Mondays, so I had to call–"
"Yes," he cuts her off, grinning broadly at how utterly perfect and endearing she looks, even when she's kind of ranting this way.
"I would love to stay for dinner."
She looks bewildered for a long moment, her eyes wide and almost shining. Their gazes are locked together and neither seems to be able to look away. Neither seems to want to.
Klaus doesn't have any time to realize what is about to happen, nor to react, when suddenly Caroline closes the whole distance between the two of them and presses her lips tightly to his own.
His eyes widen, and he's completely shocked and unresponsive for the first few seconds. But, when he feels the tip of her nose caressing his slightly stubbled cheek and her lips coaxing his bottom one between them, it's all he can do to moan softly, closing his eyes and finally surrendering to what he has been dreaming about for years.
Her hands are on his chest now, and, when a few minutes pass and he finally understands that this is happening, and that she won't just suddenly draw back once she realizes who it is that she's kissing, he tentatively brings one of his hands to the nape of her neck, slightly tilting her face forward towards his.
She moans appreciatively against his mouth, outlining the seam of his lips with her tongue as she softly yet confidently asks for an entrance that he gladly and quickly allows her.
Slowly bringing her hands up to his shoulders and then down his back, she stands up from her chair and settles on Klaus' lap, one leg at each of his sides.
They continue that way for a few more moments, before the need for air becomes too unbearable and they have to draw back from each other.
Slowly licking his lips, and taking the time to savor her taste on him, Klaus looks up at Caroline through his slightly fogged glasses. He wants to say something, to ask why, but he doesn't know how, and part of him is afraid that speaking could break the little, blissful bubble that they're currently finding themselves into.
"I've been wanting to do that for a long time," Caroline eventually admits, still breathing heavily, her eyes shifting around a bit shyly.
Klaus gulps, trying to wrap his currently chaotic, frantic mind around the confession that the blonde has just uttered–
–how can this be real?
"Really?" she asks, beaming down at him and looking actually surprised.
He blushes, looking away for a moment before refocusing his eyes into hers.
"You can't not know."
Caroline shrugs, a small smile still on her lips. "I like you. When you like someone, you never think that they could actually like you back."
"What's not to like about you?" he asks in a low, soft tone, tenderly stroking down her warm cheek with the back of his hand.
"I could ask you the same," she retorts, with a pointed look that leaves no room for argument.
Defeated, Klaus sighs, although a happy smile is still playing on his lips. He can't believe that this is actually happening, that Caroline has just told him that she likes him. It feels like something out of a dream, but, if that's the case, then he never wants to wake up from it ever again.
He secures his arms around her small waist, still awed by the notion that he can hold her, that he can have her this close to him.
With a happy, dreamy sigh, she lets her head slowly fall to his chest, bringing her arms tighter around his slender but muscular enough frame and enjoying his manly smell. She has kissed boys before and she's had a few boyfriends as well, but she's never felt this safe with anyone else.
They simply bask in each other's presence and closeness for a few more minutes, enjoying the comfortable silence around them and holding onto the other like a lifeline.
Time passes without them noticing, both too wrapped up in their current blanket of shared warmth and happiness, and, when the doorbell rings downstairs, neither can hide their discontent frown or cover their mumbled protests at having to move away from each other.
"I'll be quick, I promise," Caroline says, smiling against Klaus' closed lips, the corners turning upwards just like her own.
He brings her back holding onto her elbow before she can leave the room, kissing her one more time just to make sure that this is real, that she is real.
Her laughter as he finally lets her go is the most beautiful sound that he has ever heard in his whole life, and he can't believe to be lucky and blessed enough to be the cause behind her obvious happiness.
As she's just about to exit her bedroom, he speaks up one more time, his smile so content and genuine as it curves his lips, that it makes her blush and bite down on her bottom lip to contain her own grin.
"Caroline—" he catches her attention, and she turns around, still smiling as she waits for him to continue.
"I'm glad that I've stayed for dinner."
She laughs again and it hits him–