AU/AH. When Klaus told his brother Kol to get his head together, he didn't necessarily mean for him to start the first serious relationship of his life with a woman so beautiful. He didn't mean to fall in love with her either. Kol/Caroline, eventually Klaus/Caroline.
A/N: Waaaaaah, don't kill me, don't kill me, don't kill me! I'm extremely sorry it took me so long to update this, but I'm in my senior year in high school and it's all very time-consuming, so much more than I had imagined it to be to be honest... sigh. Anyway, you probably don't want to hear about it. I just feel like I should warn you that I'm going to have exams until mid-July so updates will probably be pretty slow until then, I apologize in advance.
That said, a gigantic thank you to my beta, Shy, and to all of you for following, favoriting, reviewing, or even simply reading this story, it means the world to me!
Hope you'll enjoy the chapter!
The waitress walked away after taking their order—one, big, extra sauce and extra topping pizza, two beers for the men, and a coke for Caroline.
She brought the drinks after a moment, and Caroline immediately took a sip from her can through her red straw, humming in delight. She had barely had the time to stop by her apartment and change into something nicer after her shift at the bar and she was positively parched.
"Did you have a nice day at work, love?" Kol asked, leaning against the back of his chair as he loosely brought an arm around Caroline's seat, just above her shoulders.
Caroline sighed. "It was okay," she answered, shrugging. "You know I hate working on Fridays, especially during the happy hour, but taking an extra shift today was the only way to get the weekend off."
Kol nodded understandingly.
"Oh, are you two going somewhere for the weekend?" Klaus intervened, curious—his brother hadn't mentioned anything of sorts to him.
Caroline shook her head lightly with a soft laugh. "I wish," she sighed, "but no, unfortunately. I have exams for extra credits next week and I figured I could use a last few days to study."
Klaus nodded his head in understanding—he perfectly remembered how draining and frantic college life was, with due dates and way too many subjects that didn't make any sense for the course he was majoring in. Add being constantly surrounded by drunk, careless semi-adults, and you had an experience he definitely didn't care to relive. Ever.
"You'll pass with flying colors, babe, you know it," Kol teased her with a smirk, turning his head to the side to look at his girlfriend.
Caroline rolled her eyes, a small smile playing on her lips. "Enough talking about me, please," she pressed, fingering the straw of her coke almost mindlessly. "Kol told me you're a painter?" she diverted the attention towards Klaus.
The older Mikaelson brother shifted uncomfortably in his seat. "Uhm, sort of," he mumbled.
Kol chuckled. "Forgive him, love, a painter is far too common! My brother, here, likes to call himself an artist."
"Oh..." Caroline's lips formed a perfect 'O' as she looked between the two brothers with her eyebrows knitted in confusion.
Klaus shot his brother a warning look. "I like to paint, yes," he added curtly with a strained smile. He had never been one to talk about himself to other people, and he surely wasn't going to do just that in front of someone he still considered a stranger, Kol's girlfriend or not.
"Well," Kol interject after a beat, the silence too uncomfortable around them—his brother couldn't even pretend to be a people's person for the life of his—"since you two boring people obviously don't want to talk about yourselves," he paused for a moment, "let's talk about me!" he suggested with a cocky smirk adorning his lips.
"Seriously?" Caroline scoffed with a laugh, shaking her head in disbelief at her boyfriend's attitude.
"Why, of course, love! I happen to be a very interesting person, thank you very much!" he proclaimed, tipping his head back with his eyes closed and his eyebrows raised in a very serious manner.
"Oh, yeah?" Caroline challenged him, a foxy smile on her lips. "Then please, pray tell, what did you do today, mister interesting?"
"Well, for starters," he began in an announcing tone, "I woke up very early at eleven in the morning"—Caroline scoffed, earning herself a 'don't interrupt me!' glare from her boyfriend—"then I had breakfast, comfortably delivered to my apartment, of course. I was a bit bored, so I decided to play some videogames until–ouch!" Kol yelped, knitting his eyebrows as he massaged the spot of his forearm that Caroline had just elbowed, making even Klaus laugh wholeheartedly.
"What was that for?" he asked indignantly.
"That was because you're an ass!" Caroline answered with a laugh—an indicator that she wasn't really annoyed at him—swatting his arm again.
"Oh, is that so?"
Kol grinned, cocking one of his eyebrows as he took hold of the hand that had just hit him before she could retreat it, effectively immobilizing her and starting to tickle her sides.
"Nooooo! Kooool, stop it!" Caroline shrieked through her breathless giggles, but Kol didn't desist.
Feeling like he was intruding on the couple's moment, Klaus looked away from the scene before him. Saying he had never been a people's person would have been a huge understatement, but that was the first time he had ever actually felt like a third wheel, and he downright hated it.
Looking around the small pizzeria, Klaus noticed that there was but another elderly couple, who didn't seem to mind Kol and Caroline's noisy exchange at all. If anything, they were looking towards their table with shining eyes and a happy smile gracing their lips, surely remembering those times long ago when they were just as young and carefree.
After a few moments, Klaus took a sip from his beer, clearing his throat awkwardly in the process.
Caroline finally managed to push Kol—who still had a huge, amused grin plastered on his face—away. She was puffing and red in the face from all the laughing, her blond curls slightly ruffled.
"You're incorrigible, Kol," she reproached him mockingly with a shake of her head, straightening her blouse.
Kol rolled his eyes, opening his mouth to speak, but any retort he might have had on the tip of his tongue was cut short as the waitress finally came back with their large pizza.
Each of them immediately took a slice and started eating with gusto.
"Mmh, this pizza is delicious!" Kol managed to say between mouthfuls.
Caroline rolled her eyes, swallowing a bite before answering, "You say that every time we come here."
"Well, then it must be really good!" he quipped back.
Klaus finished his first slice in silence and reached over to take another. "Do you guys come here often? It looks very... cozy," he commented, for lack of a better word, his tone sour. "I have to say, not exactly a place I can see you hanging around at a lot, brother."
Kol glared briefly at his older sibling—seriously? "I actually happen to like it very much."
The blond Mikaelson brother scoffed. "If this is the kind of place you happen to like now, then you really have changed," he added almost spitefully.
Kol's eyes widened, and he gaped at his brother. "Why, yes, Nik, some people are actually capable of changing instead of remaining rude and ungrateful twats for their whole life! Maybe you should try it!" he countered with a raised, angry tone.
Really? Really? Klaus had promised, for him, to get his head out of his ass for just a couple of hours, but of course he couldn't do it. Kol should have known better anyway, being hateful came like a second nature to his brother—that was the real sad part of it all.
Klaus raised his hands in front of him in surrender, a cocky smirk playing on his lips, "No need to get all worked up and overreact, Kol. I was merely stating a fact."
Caroline placed her hand on Kol's thigh, trying to sooth him, and the younger Mikaelson brother simply sighed, "Whatever, Nik. Tonight is supposed to be nice and fun, so if you can't act mature, please either pretend to be or leave."
For a moment, nobody said nor did anything, then Kol resumed eating his pizza and the other two followed, the three of them encompassed in a tensed silence for the rest of the evening, which was only broken by Caroline's poor attempts at lighting up the mood once in a while.
Klaus felt guilty and ashamed. Really, he did, which was stupid because it was obviously all his fault. He had been the one to ruin the mood, and whether he wanted to acknowledge that or not, he had sort of done it on purpose. Dinner had been going on rather well up until he had decided to act like the biggest jerk. He had really planned to just have a nice, comfortable evening with his brother, but that was just who he was, and he couldn't help it—he always had to ruin everything.
It was that feeling of loneliness again—the one he felt so much more when he was around other people than when he was actually on his own, and that nagging voice at the back of his head that kept reminding him that there was no way he would ever find someone to be like that with, like Kol was with Caroline. Loving, happy, free. It made him feel weak, so weak, and he hated it.
So, if he couldn't be happy, nobody else around him should have been either. It was selfish, and wrong, and twisted, so terribly twisted. But he was a broken man, what else could people ever really expect from him?
With the mood of the evening ruined, and the talking reduced to an awkward minimum, Klaus, and Kol and Caroline, parted ways as soon as the latter had finished eating her chocolate soufflé, next to no goodbyes exchanged.
The couple wandered together towards Caroline's apartment's building, which was only a few blocks away from the pizzeria. Caroline had both her arms around Kol's left one and her head was resting lightly on his shoulder as they walked, slowly and in silence.
"I'm sorry about my brother," Kol sighed eventually.
"It's not your fault," Caroline reassured him. "You don't have to apologize."
"Yes, I do," he countered strongly, stopping and turning to look at Caroline. "I don't know why I believed for even a second that he was actually going to behave for the whole night," he shook his head dejectedly. "I mean... things are always like this with Nik, always."
Caroline caressed down his arm in a soothing manner, giving him a small smile and tugging at his arm—there was only so much she could say to him right now.
"Come on, don't think about it. Let's just go home."
Klaus woke up with a pounding headache, groaning as he rolled over on the bed and reached for the alarm clock on his nightstand, turning it off grumpily.
10A.M. on a Tuesday and he had nothing better to do than keep on sleeping, he wasn't sure whether he wanted to laugh or cry.
After the whole meet-the-girlfriend dinner fiasco with Kol, he had pointedly avoided any kind of contact with any of his siblings, and it had been over two weeks from then already. Partially, he appreciated the fact that neither Elijah nor Rebekah had yet given up on trying to get a hold of him. It meant that they really cared and could see past his 'I don't need anyone' façade—they were his family after all, but on the other end, all those calls he was desperately avoiding were starting to get annoying. What were they even trying to achieve? He knew the way he had acted towards Kol had been wrong, but, hardheaded as he was, he had no intention of apologizing for it. That was just how he was, and he wasn't going to change anytime soon. He didn't want to change. He couldn't change, to begin with, and after all those years, his siblings should know better, shouldn't they?
Sighing, he threw the dark blue covers off himself, rising to a sitting position and leaning against the bed's mahogany headboard. After a moment, he reached over to his nightstand again, quickly finding his phone and dialing the only number he knew by heart.
"Why should I apologize?" Kol questioned his siblings, disbelief clear in his raised tone.
Rebekah rolled her eyes, setting her steaming cup of hot chocolate down on the bar's table after having taken a generous sip of it.
"Nobody said anything about you apologizing, Kol. Just goddamn be the bigger person! Call him or something, let him know that you're not mad at him, so maybe, just maybe, he'll finally get back to the world of the living," she said. "It's been over two weeks now."
Kol glared at his sister. "Well, I don't care, and I am mad," he corrected her. "Also, I believe calling him hasn't been working too well for you two, now, has it?" he added, raising his eyebrows knowingly.
Rebekah huffed, annoyed, looking sideways to Elijah seeking his support.
The oldest Mikaelson sibling cleared his throat, drumming his fingers on the table's hard surface in an agitated manner which was so unlike him.
"Indeed it hasn't," he sighed, raising his eyes to look directly at Kol, "but one more person trying to reach him wouldn't hurt. You know very well Niklaus does feel ashamed for the rude way he acted towards you and Caroline,"—Kol snorted, earning himself a warning look from his brother—"but you also need to understand–"
"That he's going to mope like a fucking baby for years to end if I don't apologize to him because he is a gigantic bellend?!" Kol interrupted him, raising his arms dramatically and angrily.
"You don't have to apologize, Kol. We're just saying–"
"No, Rebekah! You all have always called me out on my shit, and granted, I was so far much more gone than Nik, but it's not right that we just fucking coddle him all the time!"
"That's not it!" Rebekah exclaimed, tears welling up in her eyes. "You know it's different for him. You know why he is the way he is!"
Kol scoffed, "Don't we all have our issues, dear sister?"
Rebekah gaped at him, "You did not just say that. You can't possibly compare anything any of us has ever gone through to what he went through."
Kol sighed, shaking his head. Rebekah put their brother on a pedestal and there was no way she was going to understand.
Nobody said anything for a moment. "Kol–" Elijah, ever the voice of reason, started.
"Don't. I don't have time for this right now. If it will ease your minds, I'll pay him a visit," Kol spoke sadly, sitting up from his chair, taking his jacket with him, "but this is not healthy for him. No matter what happened in the past, nothing can make it right for him to live the way he is living."
Elijah and Rebekah watched their brother's retreating figure as he swiftly walked out of the bar and into the brisk Manhattan air.
"He's right, you know..." Rebekah conceded with a sigh after a moment, toying with the handle of her cup. "I don't know what got Nik in a mood this time, but there will always be something going wrong with him." She shook her head, casting her eyes downwards. "I thought, maybe, with Camille... I mean, they get each other, don't they?" she asked, her tone hopeful.
Elijah sighed, "I honestly can't tell you. I have long stopped understanding the way our brother works, Rebekah."
"Do you think Kol is right? That we should just stop trying?" she asked in a low voice after a moment.
"Do you?" Elijah countered, looking at her intensely.
She shook her head firmly, "No. I think it does him some good to know we haven't given up on him."
Elijah nodded his agreement, smoothing down his napkin on the table with excessive care as a sad smile made its way to his lips, "Unfortunately, I believe he's the one who has given up on himself."
Klaus felt a big sense of déjà-vu as he opened the door to his penthouse only to find himself face to face with Kol.
He had ordered some late lunch just a couple of minutes ago, and he had been so lost in his own thoughts, he hadn't thought twice about asking who it was before opening the door, ready to welcome in the room service.
"Kol..." he stammered out.
The younger sibling sighed, making his way into the apartment and quickly getting rid of his jacket, "Don't worry, brother. I know you're not going to apologize. That's not why I'm here."
Klaus gulped. "Look–" he started.
Kol shook his head, turning to look at his brother as the latter closed the door behind them, "No, really, that's not why I'm here. I'm not looking for an apology, Nik. Of course, I'd deserve it, but you're you, so I'm not going to get my hopes up about it. I'm here on commission, I guess you could say."
Klaus nodded his head. "I see," he stilled for a second, "Elijah?"
"And Bekah," Kol shrugged, looking around the living room with a scrunched up face. "They're worried sick about you, and I know you want to act like you don't care about a soul in the world, but I'm sure picking up the phone once in a while wouldn't hurt you." He spat his words.
"If they were so worried, they should have come here themselves," Klaus bit back, moving towards the couch, away from his brother.
Kol chuckled humorlessly, "God, Nik. You really are stupid."
"Must run in the family then," he countered, looking pointedly at his younger brother.
"Oh, wow, real mature! Are you seriously going to be this way again?"
"Just because now you have a serious, little girlfriend," Klaus mocked, "doesn't make you any more mature than you were three months ago getting bailed out of jail, Kol. I was there, remember?"
Kol sighed loudly, running a hand through his messy brown hair. "I'm not here to fight with you again," he said through gritted teeth. "Yes, I love you, but believe me if I think by now we should just all let you fend for yourself."
"Then go ahead, I ask for nothing more!" Klaus retorted, raising his hand towards the door, indicating for him to get out, to leave him. Everybody left him anyway. It was just a matter of time.
Kol shook his head, "Can't you see we're just trying to help? And no, don't say you don't need our help because that's obviously bullshit! Just, for God's sake, what's wrong? You were doing so well. Is this about Camille?"
Klaus scoffed, "I was doing well? You lot talk about me like I'm some drug addict recovering, and you seriously ask yourselves why I don't feel like picking up the phone every single time you call? This is unbelievable."
"You know what I meant, Nik. You seemed to be–"—he stalled, searching for the right word—"not sad with her."
"Then what? You thought she was my savior?" he laughed bitterly. "That she could fix me? Well, guess what?" He opened his arms at his sides, "I'm not fixable, brother."
Kol rolled his eyes, "The truth is that you don't want to be fixed, Nik. And you know what? I would be so done caring after that little stunt you put on the other night, but this stupid attitude of yours hurts Rebekah, so just take it down a notch, will you? If there's someone who doesn't deserve your shit, it's her, and you know it."
Klaus sat down on the couch dejectedly, his head in his hands, "I can't be the person she wants me to be. She needs to accept that and move on."
"Accept that and move on?" Kol scoffed. "Only God knows why, our sister adores you, and she doesn't want you to be any different than you are. She just wants you to not hate her."
Klaus looked up in astonishment. "I don't hate her," he mumbled. "She knows that."
"Whether she knows that or not, she's having a rather hard time believing that now, so please, just call her. Ease her mind."
"I can't," he answered in a trembling, strained voice, shaking his head. "She wants me to go to that exhibit..."
"Then go! You could use a few days away, in a new city, with new air to clear your head."
"I can't go without Camille..."
Kol looked at his brother in confusion, walking towards him to sit at his side on the couch. "What do you mean?"
Klaus sighed, "Rebekah—she got me two tickets. She knows I had intended to go with Camille, but now... I can't tell her we broke up. It would just make matters worse if I did."
"You'll have to tell her, eventually," Kol pointed out.
"I know, just... not now."
"Alright. Then, just take the two tickets but go alone. No big deal."
The older Mikaelson brother shook his head again. "No, you don't understand. There are going to be friends of hers there, people she surely set me up to meet up with, bragging about me going there with a girlfriend..." he sighed. "She would know if I were to go alone."
Kol nodded, understanding. His brother really needed some time in a different place, some time out of this oppressive, chocking, suffocating room—he would bet his life he hadn't gone out in days, even weeks perhaps. He knew how much he had tried to find tickets for this apparently huge art show in New Orleans, and surely, being surrounded by art, culture, music, everything he loved, could only do his brother some good. Certainly, if he did go, it would ease their sister's mind a bit, and God only knew how much she needed that—to know their brother was happy, even if for the briefest of times. If only there was something he could do to help...
Suddenly, Kol had an idea. He was going to have a lot of begging and persuading to do, but surely, it could work. It had to.
Patting his brother on the back, he smiled, at last. "Maybe I know somebody who can help you."
A/N: Cliffhangeeeer! Yes? Maybe? I don't know, ahah. What's Kol's big plan going to be? *drum rolls*
Anyway, I'm sorry for the numerous changes of scene, but it's the only way I can make this work, otherwise this story would probably end up going on too slow, and I don't want that to happen... I hope it's not too confusing for you. The Klaus/Rebekah/hate thing will be explained soon enough, that wasn't just some silly plot-filling diversion. I also hope I managed to convey in Rebekah's talk with Elijah how much it's important to her that Klaus isn't alone, hence why he can't just tell her that he broke up with Camille.
I really, really hope you liked this chapter, we have some good (and some bad) Klaus/Caroline moments awaiting, so be excited!
See you soon (hopefully), Giulia.