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Beating Around the Bush

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“Beating Around the Bush”

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Klaus sat in the corner of the small bar nursing a glass of bourbon. It was a Friday night and usually he would avoid somewhere like this, full of humans and busy, but he couldn’t help himself. It was the same thing that had drawn him back nearly every evening for the last week and a half; a tiny brunette barmaid.

He had gone into the bar, Rousseau’s, with Elijah the first time he’d encountered her. They were there for some trivial reason or another and he had stopped to speak to Cami when she had breezed in through the door, all long dark hair and dark eyes and a scent that made him want to just follow her around all day sniffing her.

She had waved at Cami and continued on her way to behind the bar, disappearing out the back; to stash her jacket he presumed. His eyes had followed her without his permission, roaming over her petite frame and as he’d turned back to Cami, his mind suddenly blank, he found her smirking at him.

“Do you need a moment to pop your eyes back in your head there?” she had asked and Klaus had been completely and infuriatingly unable to think of a suitable response. Fortunately, Elijah had come to his aid, stating he was ready to leave and Klaus had managed to save a miniscule amount of face; even if Elijah had looked far too entertained by it all.

Of course, Cami wasn’t stupid and she knew exactly why he had been in there for a least a brief visit almost every night since. She never said anything but her amused smirks and knowing looks declared it all for her. It was lucky for her that she was one of the few people he actually respected; otherwise he wouldn’t have taken too kindly to her subtle mocking.

Refusing to ask Cami about the newest staff member like a teenage boy with a crush would, he had instead compelled several people for information and had found out the girl’s name; Isabella Swan – though by all accounts she preferred Bella – and that she came from Forks, Washington. She had remained tight-lipped about her reasons for moving so far away, though Klaus would have bet anything that it was more than just a bad break-up.

He had watched her closely each time he’d been in and had quickly seen that for a barmaid she was ridiculously clumsy, though there was an odd kind of grace about her despite that. He had also observed, much to his displeasure, that he was not the only one to notice her appeal.

Night after night he had watched various men make their moves on her while she had simply brushed them off, blushing beautifully as she did. He had been vaguely amused the first couple of times it had happened but now it was seriously pissing him off. He had already lost count of the humans he had compelled to stop their flirting with her. There may have been a few broken fingers and hands involved too, just for good measure.

Vampires were a whole other issue. With a scent like hers, it was no wonder they were drawn to her like cats are to catnip. Luckily for him – and for them – most of the vampires had been put off of pursuing her the minute they saw him in the bar, yet still there had been a very stupid minority. Klaus liked to think he had done the vampire race a service by culling those brainless few.

Though one of said brainless few had provided some interesting information before he’d died screaming. It appeared that the delightful Miss Swan could not be compelled, yet there was no trace of Vervain on or in her. Klaus had made that vampire’s death extra special for daring to try and compel her but it was useful information to have.

Watching now as yet again some dim-witted excuse for a man tried to charm his way into her knickers, Klaus felt his anger rising. He was definitely going to need to hurt somebody before the night was through at this rate.

Cami, having a good eye for spotting trouble brewing, took in Klaus’ murderous countenance as he watched Bella being hit on and decided to step in. She knew full well what he’d been doing to Bella’s unfortunate suitors and as long as he wasn’t doing any permanent damage to the human customers she had let it go; but judging by his expression and rigid posture this new one would not survive the night if she didn’t do something. Bella didn’t enjoy all the attention from them anyway and would be glad of a diversion; Cami had a sneaking suspicion that a diversion in the form of Klaus would be very welcome for Bella.

Inspiration struck and Cami grabbed a cloth and headed over to Bella. Pointing her towards the quiet corner where Klaus was sitting she told her to give the tables a quick wipe and then take her break. If Klaus had any sense he would take advantage of the opportunity she was practically gift-wrapping for him and actually strike up a conversation.

Bella walked over to the corner and smiled nervously at the man sitting there. She recognised him of course, he had been in nearly every evening and a face like his was hard to forget.

The first time she’d seen him she was just coming into work. He was standing talking to Cami but by the time she had come back from ditching her coat, he was gone. Too embarrassed to admit she was crushing on a man she had never even spoken to, she had decided against asking Cami more about him.

His eyes flicked to behind Bella, where Cami was standing at the bar waving sarcastically at him. She mouthed that Bella was due a break and Klaus didn’t know whether he wanted to strangle the blond or send her flowers.

He snapped his attention back to Bella who was wiping over a table nearby, close enough that he could easily pick up her scent. Again it hit him like a wrecking ball and he fought the urge to just bury his face in her neck and breathe her in. Instead, he clenched his fist under the table and internally berated himself for being unable to think of a single way to strike up a conversation without being just like every asshole coming onto her in this bar.

He was a thousand years old dammit, and known for being able to charm his way into anything when he wanted… so why had that ability suddenly deserted him? The fates appeared to be smiling on him tonight though, as when she got closer she tripped seemingly on thin air, and practically fell into his lap.

His arms shot up, gently catching her just before she face planted right into his crotch, because appealing as the thought of any part of her there was, it really wouldn’t have been the ideal way for her to get close to that area of him.

Smoothly helping her get her balance he genuinely smiled at her flustered, blushing apology. “It’s quite alright love, though I should at least get the pleasure of your name if you’re going to make a habit of it.”

Again the blush spread across her cheeks as she told him her name and Klaus found himself enchanted by it. Just as he was trying to decide on the best way to get her to sit with him for a while Cami appeared, handing Bella a glass of coke and telling him to ‘keep Bella company on her break’.

Flowers… Cami was definitely getting flowers…

Seeing Bella looking a bit nervous he had told her she was welcome to join him, and much to his pleasure she’d sat down with a shy smile.

That was how it had started. Once they had gotten talking they hadn’t stopped, though she’d been quiet to begin with, Klaus quickly found that he enjoyed her company immensely. For the next couple of weeks he was there for a least a short visit every evening Bella worked, and every break she had she would spend talking to him.

She had admitted fairly quickly that she was aware he wasn’t human and one quiet weeknight he had told her a good deal of his history. He had been worried it might frighten her off, but to his astonishment, on the very next quiet evening in the bar she had told him her story in return.

He had been equal parts amazed and angry as she’d described the ‘family’ of cold ones and their treatment of her, how they had left her behind with knowledge that could get her killed and loose ends that had almost gotten her family killed. The part that had floored him though was how she had left everything behind, cutting ties to everyone she knew in order to keep them safe.

That was the night he had admitted to himself that he truly cared about her, as he swore to himself that he would hunt down this Victoria that was still out there plotting her death, little knowing that it would soon be much easier to find her than he thought.

On his return home, he had proceeded to finally admit to Elijah why he had been disappearing on a regular basis. Elijah of course already knew exactly where his younger brother had been going but had been glad to have him finally being honest about it.

He had accompanied him to Rousseau’s several times since, also appreciating Bella’s company and finding it far too entertaining to watch Niklaus’ issues with her various suitors.

Bella seemed to understand that it was an occupational hazard of working in a bar and simply brushed them off politely, but Niklaus took exception to each and every one of them, and the more persistent or audacious ones were probably lucky to get away with just a couple of broken bones to go with their compulsion.

The thing that really amused both Elijah and Cami as time went on was the fact that despite his determined efforts to eliminate all of Bella’s unwanted admirers and his obvious affection for her, he had yet to make a single move of his own.

Bella stood behind the bar as she drifted in her thoughts, half listening to the chatter of the couple of regulars they had in that night. Cami was taking her break, reading a magazine at the end of the bar and it was quiet enough that Bella could let her mind wander.

New Orleans was unexpectedly becoming a real home for her. She liked the people, the lifestyle and she liked a certain hybrid a lot too, though she would only admit that to herself.

She hadn’t known what to make of Klaus at first, especially after that embarrassing first meeting, but he’d kept coming back. Each time he came in he would stay to spend her break with her while they talked about anything and everything. She had surprised herself when she’d told him her story; she’d never told anyone the full tale, but then he had trusted her with his.

Lost in thought as she was, Bella didn’t notice someone new walking into the Rousseau’s, stopping as they entered and staring at her with a vicious sneer. It was only as they approached and she heard a high, cold “Hello Bella” that she looked up and froze.

Cami looked up from her magazine as a red-head approached Bella, something instinctually ringing alarm bells for her. Seeing Bella’s face drain of all colour she slipped her phone out of her pocket and dashed off a quick text to the number Klaus had given her for emergencies, because something in her gut told her that this was definitely an emergency.

Only a couple of tables away a New Orleans vampire had watched as the cold one entered the bar and approached the human. He was here under orders to report to Klaus or Elijah if anything strange happened, and without a doubt, this qualified as something strange. Correctly guessing that the nearby blonde bartender would probably be texting Klaus, he pulled out his phone and sent a message to Elijah.

Across town the Original brothers both put their hands in their pockets as simultaneously their phones went off. Exchanging a quick look they both growled as they read the messages sped from the room, abandoning their conversation with Marcel and leaving him wondering what the hell could have happened to make both vampires leave so fast that even he had trouble seeing the movement.

Bella stood facing the woman who had haunted her nightmares and was suddenly angry. “All this time Victoria… what, did you wait until I was actually almost happy?” she asked bitingly.

Victoria looked at her disdainfully, “Of course, no fun killing you if you’re miserable now is it?” She looked around the bar distastefully, “Though I can’t see exactly what about this place would make anyone happy. Still, Bella,” she sneered her name, “You have two choices. You can either make this easy and just come with me, so I can kill you… or you can make this hard, and I will kill everyone here and then still kill you.”

The fight drained out of Bella as she thought it over for a second. There was no way out that she could see, and she refused to endanger innocent people. Just as she was about to answer, a smooth voice cut her off.

“I don’t think the lady finds either option appealing… might I suggest a third one?” Bella wanted to cry as she saw the two Originals standing on either side of Victoria, having materialised out of nowhere. She almost wanted to tell them to be careful, but although she had never seen them in action, instinct told her that Victoria was actually the one in danger now.

Victoria seemed to agree with that assessment as she tried to back away, Niklaus’ hand flashing out and tightly gripping her elbow preventing her from actually getting anywhere.

“Now love,” he said mockingly, his falsely polite tone oddly disturbing when paired with his rage-filled blue eyes. “You didn’t ask what the third option is.”

“That’s fine, whatever it is I’ll take it.” Victoria was still trying to unsuccessfully back away.

Both brothers smirked unpleasantly. “I’m pleased to hear that,” Elijah said, his voice like ice as he laid a hand on her shoulder, “You will allow us to escort you out.”

Recognition dawned on Victoria as she realised she was in a situation that even she couldn’t escape from. She struggled futilely but was no match for the brothers as they easily steered her out the door and to a nearby alleyway.

Bella sagged as Cami appeared next to her, hugging her. “Are you alright?” The blonde asked and Bella nodded shakily, flinching slightly when she distantly heard the distinct sound of tearing metal from somewhere outside as Victoria was no doubt being disposed of.

The brothers walked back inside, Elijah wiping his hands on a handkerchief as they surveyed the bar. Satisfied that no one else in the place had noticed anything was amiss, they headed back towards Bella and Cami.

“Ladies, are you both okay?” Elijah asked quietly as Cami poured them all a glass of bourbon, waving off the vampires’ attempts to pay.

Niklaus stood drink in hand, watching Bella as she blushed under his intense gaze. “Come home with me tonight.” He said suddenly, mentally kicking himself for blurting it out like an overeager teenager.

“What?” Bella breathed, beyond surprised, “Why?”

His face softened then, a little smile forming as he looked at her. “Sweet little Bella, you know why… and no, it isn’t just to keep you protected.”

The smile on his face widened when she eventually nodded shyly, blushing a delightful cherry red as she did.

Elijah and Cami both looked on amused, the latter telling Bella to just go ahead and leave early for the night. Elijah watched them depart with a chuckle before turning back and ordering another drink. He would give his brother some space tonight, and perhaps he could get to know Cami a little better.

Bella walked along beside Klaus as he carried her overnight bag, a faint blush still staining her cheeks. They had stopped at her small rented room so she could pack her small bag and she had made a point of inviting him in, knowing that she was sending a very clear message with that action.

Klaus had smirked at her racing heart as he’d entered and stepped closer to her, moving forward as she timidly edged back until her back pressed against the wall. She had let out a nervous squeak when he’d placed his hands either side of her, effectively caging her in, and then all rational thought had fled once he ducked his head and pressed his lips to hers.

The memory made her blush deeper and she swore her lips were still tingling from the spectacular kiss he’d laid on her, and he really was spectacular at it. At twenty-two, she was no virgin, but she wasn’t exactly what you could call experienced either, and she’d been embarrassing close to rubbing up against him like a cat in heat from just that kiss alone.

Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on how she looked at it, he had slowly pulled back before gently reminding her to pack herself a bag, and now she found herself walking beside him as they made their way to his home, when in a move she never would have expected from him he reached out to take her hand.

Still keeping hold of her, Klaus led Bella into the courtyard area of his abode and up the stairs, not bothering to acknowledge any of the vampires who were looking on curiously as they passed.

They reached his bedroom, and as he shut the door firmly behind them he turned to look at Bella intensely. “Are you sure about this, love? I could still let you leave now, if it is what you truly desire…” His eyes all but glowed as he looked at her in a way that sent a flash of heat through her and made her knees go weak.

“If I have you in my bed, then there’s no going back, do you understand? You’d be mine… and I’m a possessive bastard.”

Bella leant in towards him. She’d never been more certain in her life than she was in this moment. “I’m sure,” she breathed as she softly kissed the corner of his mouth, then she smiled, “Possessive huh? So that was you scaring off anyone who hit on me.”

Klaus rested his hands on her hips, pulling her against him. “Guilty as charged love.” He smirked then kissed her again, backing her up towards his bed.

It was an ocean of sensation and Bella was lost in it. Hands, fingers, lips and tongue all played their parts as he made her cry out in blinding pleasure, over and over. When at last he slipped into her, Bella had almost sobbed at the sheer ecstasy of it as he moved, their sweat-slicked bodies sliding together.

She could not have counted how many times he had made her scream out in completion that night, but she had eventually drifted off to sleep sometime in the early morning, feeling thoroughly ravaged in all the best ways as she lay with her head on Klaus’ chest, his bare skin warm under her cheek as she listened to his slow heartbeat.

After that first night with him she had stayed with him through the following day, spending much of it in his bed as they talked and laughed and enjoyed each other. They had only emerged in the evening when their need for real food had finally overwhelmed their need for each other.

At his insistence, she had stayed again the next night, and the night after that and so on until they gave up the pretence that she would actually spend a night away from him and just packed up her few belongings and moved her in.

It was several weeks later and a busy night in Rousseau’s. A lot had changed for Bella following that first night with Klaus, or Nik as she usually called him – favouring that over the name everyone else knew him by.

Life with Nik wasn’t always easy, but Bella had never been happier. She had been half in love with Nik already so it hadn’t taken much for her to fall completely, and she knew without a doubt that he loved her just as much in return.

Her relationship with Elijah had quickly grown too, and in him she had found a good friend, brother, and confidante.

Distracted from her thoughts by an overly flirtatious patron, she smiled as she caught Nik glaring at the man who was trying to gain her favour, and was completely unsurprised when the same man seemed to vanish no more than a few moments later.

A giggle escaped her as she saw Nik saunter back into the bar looking extremely pleased with himself, and taking advantage of a quiet moment, she slipped through the crowd to where he was sitting with Elijah.

“Hello, love.” Nik smiled roguishly as she approached, standing up to kiss her.

“Mmm,” Bella hummed against his lips, “Feel better now?” She asked with a grin.

“I have no idea what you’re talking about, love.” He replied his eyes gleaming mischievously.

“No, of course you don’t.” Bella laughed.

She stood there for a few moments, content to stay in his arms while there was a lull in people waiting to be served. A muttered oath from Elijah got her attention and she fought back the laugh as she followed the direction he was staring in. Another one of those slightly drunk and very eager patrons had decided unwisely that Cami was his latest target.

Bella and Niklaus exchanged an amused look as Elijah made a beeline for the unfortunate man as he left the bar after Cami firmly but politely refused his offer to buy her a drink.

“I guess he has the same possessiveness issues as you do,” Bella said dryly, “Has he even tried telling her that he likes her?”

“I don’t believe so,” He replied smirking “We Mikaelsons are not always the most straightforward of men.”

“I just hope he doesn’t beat around the bush as long as you did, he really should just ask her on a date, or even just to come home with him…” she smirked up at him, “I mean it worked for you.”

Nik chuckled as he pulled her closer. “It did indeed love, it did indeed.”

~Fin~