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Sky Fever

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You knew that you must float
From the sun above the clouds
To the gloom beneath, from a world
Of rarefied splendour to one
Of cheapened dirt, close-knit
In its effort to encompass man
In death. - David Bourne

 

Her dad liked to tell stories. As a child, she'd dreamed of fallen angels and their cursed wings, of the soaring into the sky. She chased clouds through endless pastures and ran as fast as she could before leaping those few, precious feet into the sky.

Those few seconds airborne were glorious. The trembling in her bones when her feet slammed back to earth, the rattling under her skin was worth ever weightless second. Skinned knees and bruised palms meant nothing.

Then, when she was seventeen, Caroline died.


New Orleans was a risk.

Caroline was the first to admit this was a stupid ass decision. Still, of all her options, scant and limited as they were, this was the best left to her. She took a deep breath, and glanced at her watch. Tried not to fidget.

She'd been in the city for thirteen hours.

Rumor said that Klaus was still in Europe.

The last time they'd spoken, he'd tried to coax to join him with promises of food and beautiful countryside. The wicked note as his voice deepened as he casually mentioned the sights, promised more than just visuals. Her skin prickled, at the thought.

Sometimes, Caroline couldn't decide if sleeping with him was the best decision she could've made or the worst. She still dreamed of the feel of him against her. The way they'd moved, his blood on her tongue.

His tongue… everywhere.

She took a quick sip of her water, tried not to flush as she shifted for entirely different reasons. She'd found herself thinking about those woods far too often, lately. She'd brushed it off as being lonely, and horney, a terrible combination for a vampire.

Regardless, Klaus being temporarily out of the country had given her a brief window of opportunity and she'd taken it. If Caroline was exceptionally lucky, she'd get a curious, if testy phone call from the hybrid once she was back on the road. But she didn't really believe in luck. The best she could hope for was that Klaus had learned of her sudden appearance in New Orleans after she'd set foot in the city.

Either way, her time was about up.

A flicker of lashes, as she glanced at the clock above the bar and she clenched her teeth in frustration. Her father's associate wasn't showing. She'd have noticed someone entering, as the dive was surprisingly empty on a Wednesday night. Not great for her need to blend in, but she'd be gone in an hour. She swore mentally, biting down on her lip and fighting her frustration.

This entire trip was turning out to be a bust. She needed to let Bonnie know where she was soon, needed to figure out her next move. Stephen had been of no use, had spoken in clipped tones when she'd called.

"I'm was sorry to hear about Liz, Caroline. But I sent anything related to your kind to her months ago. You can understand, why I don't want you here looking around. Drawing attention."

Maybe that was why she felt so off kilter lately. It wasn't just the way Stefan looked at her, since they'd turned it back on. It wasn't even the regret that sometimes threatened to choke her. Being an orphan hurt. Her bones ached with it sometimes, and now the friends she'd fought so hard for watched her with wary eyes.

Maybe she should cut her losses now, and just get out of dodge. Head home, decide what her next move was going to be. Talk to Bonnie about what she'd seen, how long the magic would hold. It was better than sitting in a dive bar, feeling sorry for herself.

Dropping a few ones as a tip, Caroline slipped off the barstool and headed for the door. Frustration left her grumpy, and she growled when the heavy wooden door opened, almost whacking her in the head. Narrowed eyes shifted to glare, and she froze at the man casually blocking her exit.

"Apologies, sweetheart. In a hurry?" Klaus questioned as he stepped through the doorway, shutting the door behind him. His gaze scanned her once, as if searching for injury, something relaxing in his shoulders once he was done.

"You must be freaking kidding me," Caroline groaned, arms crossing as she glared.

Klaus shifted to look a the room, gaze suddenly dangerous and magnetic. Her skin prickled, when he didn't bother didn't raising his voice to be heard. "Everyone out."

"Seriously?" Caroline ground out as the remaining occupants moved for an exist she hadn't seen. Figured. "You're being ridiculous."

Klaus arched both brows, hands clasped casually behind his back. "How so?"

She ran her fingers through her bangs in frustration, and tried not to ogle him. The slacks were a little wrinkled, the crisp lines of his dress shirt softened from travel. She'd seen Klaus in a suit before. Klaus rumpled, curls a little wild, with his sleeves rolled up his forearms really, really did it for her.

The sudden spark in his eyes, the heat of his gaze, told he'd noticed. Ass.

"What, did you flash from the airport?" Caroline gripped, changing the subject. There was no way that was going to be a safe conversational topic. Not when they both knew he'd dropped everything in Europe to return to New Orleans.

"Trying to avoid me, love?" Klaus drawled.

She gave him a flat look, at the silky edge to his tone. "Duh."

The blue of his eyes went dark, and his gaze narrowed a clear warning. Caroline ignored it. She tried to ignore the way Klaus smelled as he deliberately stepped into her personal space. Failed.

"And why is that?" Klaus murmured, reaching for one loose curl. "Here I'd thought we're friends?"

Caroline swatted at his hand and stepped back, jaw set. "It's a personal matter, and you're nosey as hell."

A quirk of his mouth, although no true amusement reached Klaus' eyes. "Regarding you? Quite. Although I believe inquisitive is a much better term, love. Let's have a drink."

"Nope, can't, I've got plans."

This time, his gaze sparked with amusement, although he still made no move to let her around him to reach the door. There was zero point in trying to find the back exit. Not if he was in a mood.

"I'd be delighted to escort you."

"My rental car is twenty feet outside the door. I think I'll make it." She gave him a deliberately bright, sugary smile. "And I'll be leaving, immediately, so you know, thanks, but no thanks."

Klaus' head tilted forward, so that they were nearly eye to eye. "No."

"Excuse you?"

There was no give, behind his eyes or in his smile. "Why are you here, Caroline?

"I told you. It's personal."

He made a low, considering noise. "So personal, that you needed to schedule this little trip for when I was in Europe; you've decided to visit my city, alone. No witchy side-kick or that other vampire from your little menagerie."

He meant Enzo. She'd have taken offense to his tone, but that was directed solely at her. She hadn't seen Klaus since that day in the forest, and his expression told her just how unamused he was at her antics. Well, too bad. She hadn't asked him to fly over the ocean, had she?

"Yes," Caroline angled her chin and met his gaze head on. "If I'd wanted your help, I'd have mentioned it."

The edges of his iris bled yellow, at her challenge, but Klaus didn't shift so much as a muscle. "Would you have? Regardless, I'm here now. What trouble have you gotten yourself into this time, sweetheart?"

Caroline growled and turned sharply on her heel, heading for the new empty bar. "Seriously, how did you even get here so fast?"

"Private plane," Klaus said easily as he followed her. Caroline glowered at him as she uncorked a gin. He smiled, dimples cutting deep. "Rebekah was in quite the tizz, at my abandonment."

"You could've stayed where you were."

Klaus reached across her and snagged a bottle of bourbon, shrugging as he leaned against the bar; ignoring the stools on his side of the counter. "My favorite baby vampire, in my city under mysterious circumstances? Come now, love, I could hardly stay away."

That was both thrilling and a problem. Taking a swig from the bottle, she tried not to fidget at the way his eyes burned into her skin. Caroline hadn't thought she could keep her problem from him forever, she was just hoping to maybe avoid this conversation for a few more decades. A century. Maybe two. Give herself time to figure everything out, with a few years of denial added in for kicks.

Instead, she staring at Klaus years before she'd intended, and he was watching her with eyes that saw too much. That knew far too much. And, okay, it was technically her fault that they'd starting talking again, but she kind of couldn't regret it, even now. Post-flipping her switch, Caroline had needed someone who wouldn't judge her. Every other relationship in her life had been in tatters, some of them had yet to recover, and Klaus had answered his phone. She hadn't talked about her mom or her friends, or vampirism. She hadn't said much at all, but Klaus hadn't seemed to mind.

He'd seemed delighted, with each cautious call after that. Had let her set the tone and pace. Until today, she'd have said he was content with how things were between them. The burn in his eyes and the set of his mouth told her just how wrong she'd been on that front.

He'd flown across the ocean, because she might've needed help. Her stomach fluttered and she took another mouthful of gin. Complicated didn't begin to describe how she felt about any of this.

"Let's start with who you were meeting, shall we?" Klaus followed her example, calmly pulled from the bourbon. "The one who didn't show."

Her eyes swung back to his. "Have I mentioned how much I dislike the creepy spy thing?"

"Once or twice," Klaus replied, unperturbed. "And hardly creepy, love. The barkeep here belongs to me. He passed along a few bits of information. You seemed distracted, kept checking your watch. Choose to drink only water."

"To think," Caroline growled. "I tipped him."

Lips curling, Klaus leaned forward, eyes alight with sparks that hit her low in her stomach. Before he could speak, her spine locked up and the gin bottle slipped through her nerveless fingers. Klaus caught the bottle, alarm spreading across his face as she hunched over, fingers digging gouges into the bar, a pained cry escaping her.

"Caroline."

"It's fine," she gritted, sweat bedding across her temples, at the jagged pain. "It's fine."

Klaus made a noise she hadn't heard before, cleared the counter easily. The sweet scent of blood caught her attention, and she opened her mouth to tell him not to bother. Blood didn't help.

She didn't get the chance.

As soon as her lips parted, the bleeding wound was shoved between her teeth. It'd been hours since her last meal and Klaus always tasted so much better than anything else she'd tried. Her fingers shifted to grip his arm, and she hardly cared as he pulled her close, sliding to the floor. There was barely enough room for her, sitting sideways across his lap, and he immediately compensated by moving so that the bar acted as his backrest.

Her back spasmed, and Caroline twitched against him, unlatching her fangs. It took a moment, to blink her monster away, and by then his hand had shifted to her spine. The noise she made as his fingers dug into the protesting muscle was embarrassing, and she felt his surprise, but Klaus obligingly dug his knuckles a little deeper.

"Oh, God, right there."

"Caroline," Klaus murmured after a moment, voice rich and low. "As delighted as I'd be to let you sprawl naked across my sheets, skin slick with oil and my hands along your back, I believe I deserve a bit of an explanation first, hmm? Vampires do not have muscle spasms, love, particularly after a fresh meal."

Her muscles tensed further when she tried to bolt, but his arm slipped around her stomach, holding her to him. She could've tried to push Klaus off, but that would end up just being embarrassing. Instead, Caroline held herself stiff, and stayed stubbornly silent as her muscles protested.

Klaus' exhale was hot against her ear and she bit the inside of her lip to keep from shivering. "We can stay here all night, love. I've no issue with you on my lap. The clothes will take a bit of an adjustment, but I believe we'll manage."

She felt her ears heat, ground her teeth to keep from shifting along his thighs. Caroline didn't need proof of the erection he was sporting. Not when she could smell his arousal, now that her back wasn't seizing. Licking her lips clean, she couldn't help the tiny noise of delight that escaped her. Klaus hand flexed against her side, but he made no other movement.

"Look," she started, paused to swallow when her were words huskier than she'd intended. "I said…"

"This is a personal matter," Klaus drawled, interrupting her. "Shall we take this conversation somewhere a bit more personal, then?"

Oh boy. His voice had gone low and dangerous, and she caught her lip as he glanced down at her. Intent, didn't begin to describe the expression behind his eyes. Caroline swallowed hard, because the last time she'd seen that expression, he'd been between her thighs with wet lips.

Caroline shook her head. "I don't think that'd be a good idea."

"No?" He murmured, eyes dropping to trace her mouth. "If your reluctance to discuss what brought you to New Orleans is a matter of privacy, well, I'd be delighted to oblige you."

Tucked against Klaus and all his smooth muscle, the taste of him fresh on her tongue did nothing to cool her blood pressure. Her back ached, muscles twitching as they threatened to spasm and she let the pain spark her temper. Anything was better than letting the arousal between them build.

"Let go."

To her relief, he did as she asked, arm loosening around her middle and she scrambled off of him. Running shaking hands through her bangs, she startled as he stood next to her.

"Caroline."

She glanced at him with narrowed eyes, which only seemed to amuse him. There was a calculating gleam behind his eyes that made her nervous.

"We both know that I've give you the space that you've requested, that'd I'd every intention of continuing to keep my distance."

"Yes," she said slowly, not certain she knew or would like where Klaus was taking this. His lips curled and he moved forward, until he once again stood within touching distance.

"You were followed into the city, sweetheart," Klaus said and the softness left his tone entirely. "You're friends are accounted for in Mystic Falls, which means you've chosen not to involve them, or they aren't aware you're here."

"How do you know these things," Caroline demanded, irritation sharpening her tone. "Why do you know these things?"

"I believe we are both aware of the why, Caroline, and as the how, I have my ways. Now, do you want to start at the beginning?"

She pursed her lips, studied him. "If I hadn't been followed…"

"We'd still be having this conversation," Klaus said in amusement. "As you said, I'm inquisitive."

"Unbelievable," Caroline growled, spinning on her heel to move around the bar and pace through the tables. Shoulders rolling, she tried to alleviate some of the pressure along her shoulder blades. She didn't realize how deeply her nails were digging into her palms until she caught the scent of blood.

"This is ridiculous," she finally griped, looking at the healing gouges on her palms. "Why couldn't you just have stayed in Europe?"

"I agree that the situation is odd. Why is the blood not helping? You move like you're still in pain, and I don't care for it."

Her eyes darted up, and the yellow tinge to his gaze did not help her wildly careening emotions. She threw up her hands, frustration turning her words sharp.

"I don't want you to get involved. Why is that so hard to understand?"

She shivered, at the sudden blade of his smile, her shoulders going taunt as her monster crawled to the surface in response. Just that quickly, his fingertips were smoothing across her chin, his eyes hot with temper.

"Neither of us are leaving this bar until you talk, sweetheart," Klaus said softly. "Unless, of course, you'd like to take this discussion back to my home?"

Caroline felt her eyes bleed black with temper, and just that quickly, she lost what little control she'd been subconsciously maintaining. Her knees hit the floor with a thud, and she scrambled for something to hold onto as pain left her vision fuzzy. Klaus crouched in front of her, his hands holding her up when she would have fallen straight to the floor.

"Caroline," he rasped, eyes hybrid gold. "Where do you hurt?"

"I need to take my shirt off," she gasped out. She made a noise of complaint as her shirt disappeared, felt him tense as he took in her back. Caroline lurched forward to press her face into his shoulder, hands gripping his forearms tightly as she lost the battle she and Bonnie's magic been fighting.

It hurt.

God, it hurt. Crying out, she shuddered against Klaus in pain. Caroline was wet with sweat, when the worst of the pain finally eased. She smelled his blood, knew her nails had dug in deeply. She was panting, shaky in ways she couldn't describe and so thirsty.

"I need a blood bag," she croaked, wobbling a little as she tried to balance herself. Klaus hadn't moved. Caroline knew breathing wasn't something he needed to do, but the absolute stillness to him left her feeling shy and uncertain. Carefully, she pulled back enough to peer up through her bangs and his face was utterly blank.

She swallowed. "They don't look that bad do they?"

His gaze dropped to hers and her lungs locked up at the desire she found there. Yellow ringed the blue of his iris, pupils blown wide, and nothing about his expression suggested indifference. His eyes tracked the motion of her mouth as she bit her lip. Her next exhale was shaky.

"You have wings."

The gravel in his voice had her gut clenching and she opened and closed her mouth, flushing when she couldn't find her words. Klaus' lips curled upwards, fingers lifting to stroke down the curve of her cheek.

"Such pretty pink," Klaus said lowly. She'd have been irritated by the smugness, but her gaze caught the rust staining his wrist, and her eyes darkened. Klaus' breath hitched at the sight. Emotions a tangled mess, Caroline went to move away, but he caught her hip, holding her. "You're hungry."

"I…"

His thumb brushed across her mouth, silencing her wavering voice. Gaze gleaming, he smiled with sharp teeth as he took her in. "Oh no, sweetheart. Time for dodging has come to an end, hmm? I think we will take this conversation to my home, where you will explain how this came about, and then I'll feed you."

Her breath caught, at the way his voice deepened at the word feed, at the promise in his eyes. Her mouth ran dry and his smile widened, gaze shifting back to the expanse of feathers she hadn't been brave enough to look at just yet.

"And, love, we've quite a few topics to discuss. I'm quite looking forward to it."


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