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Seriously?” Caroline demands at the sight of him. He’s leaning against one of the porch columns, and she will not notice how the soft yellow light from the porchlight adores him, bathing him in gold, nope, not gonna happen— “Did you honest to Chris Hemsworth fly from New goddamn Orleans to Seattle? In the middle of a pandemic?” 

Klaus blinks, a slow sweep of his lashes that reminds her, ridiculously, of her cat, and looks over his shoulder as though he expects a Welcome to Washington sign to appear behind him to confirm that he is, in fact, in Washington state. He turns back and blinks again. “It does appear that way, yes.”

(Two years ago, she had closed her eyes and picked a place on a map of the continental United States, letting fate and where her finger landed decide where she was going to spend the next four years of her life. And she’ll never tell, but she had peeked a little—just to make sure it was good and far from the Eastern seaboard; away from the drama, away from being bait, away from the—well. Away was all that mattered.

Her fingertip had landed somewhere in Kansas, but she had scoffed and picked Seattle instead. Dorothy she is not.) 

Caroline taps her foot and crosses her arms across her chest, silently fuming at him. He smiles at her, one of those smiles she had always secretly liked—one of those smiles she had stashed away in her memory for the moments when she felt nothing but self-deprecation. And despite herself, she feels her resolve start to soften. 

He doesn’t move from his spot against the porch column, but his eyes roam, skating down her bare legs and back up to where she had tossed her hair into the messy bun from which it’s already escaping. “I come bearing gifts,” he offers, and as though summoned—she hates how good he is at that—a beaten up car pulls up to her curb and a tired looking teenager in a facemask hops out, holding two pizza boxes. 

She watches as Klaus accepts the boxes from the kid, who backs away quickly, eager to be away from strangers, before he approaches her spot in the doorway. 

“May I come in?” he asks, and ah—now that he’s closer, she can smell the alcohol on him, and the pieces start clicking into place. Something must have happened in New Orleans, and he got rip roaringly drunk and bought what she’s sure was a first-class ticket to Seattle. Probably on a whim.

To see her. 

“It’s a rental,” she says, not moving. “You don’t need an invitation.” 

His nose wrinkles and when he looks up at her through lowered lashes, she feels her knees give just a little. “Common courtesy, love.” 

She considers him—the stubble that dots his jaw, the way his hair is just a little longer than he used to wear it, as though it’s been a minute since his last trim; how he doesn’t bother to hide the way he watches her—and, with a roll of her eyes, turns to open the door. 

“Fine,” she says with an overly dramatic sigh. “I guess you can come in.”

She holds the door open for him, and points him in the direction of the kitchen as he brushes past her. The house looks like the epicenter of a mini earthquake—the open notebooks, stacks of textbooks with sticky tabs lining the pages, various party supplies, the empty La Croix cans all sitting abandoned on various surfaces; and her cat Sparky, irritated by his vet-mandated weight-loss plan, meowing loudly from under her bed. 

Caroline bites back the excuses that automatically form in her throat. We’ve been stuck here for four months, she could tell him. Classes on Zoom are the absolute worst, and I’ve almost murdered Kelsey in her sleep more times than I’m comfortable admitting. 

But she doesn’t, and all he says is, “I like it.” 

It shouldn’t make her blush. 

But it does. 

— 

The pizza is from Frank and Marley’s, a local place that had quickly become her favorite after their veggie supreme had fueled three all-nighters her first semester freshman year. Caroline doesn’t ask how he knew to order from there or how he knew her usual; instead, she piles two slices onto a plate before sitting in her usual spot at one end of the worn sofa Kelsey’s dad had let them take from his vacation home on Vancouver Island. 

Klaus sits on the other side, pizzaless, taking in the room around him. Sparky, intrigued, she’s sure, by the smell of food, pokes his head out from behind her half-closed door before sending the both of them a haughty look and vanishing back into the depths of her bedroom

She doesn’t know how she’s going to explain Klaus’s presence to Kelsey. See, Kels, he’s a vampire—well, a vampire-werewolf hybrid, if we’re being precise—so it’s okay that I’m breaking quarantine by letting him in. Also, I’m a vampire, so I can’t get sick either. Surprise! 

Yeah. That’ll go over really well. Shaking her head, Caroline nibbles at her pizza, watching Klaus watch her out of the corner of her eye. 

When he makes no move to explain himself, she folds, unable to take it any longer. “What’s going on, Klaus?” She narrows her eyes at him. “I’m out of the whole Mystic Falls Scooby Gang thing, so if you’re here because of, like, doppelganger crap—” 

He straightens, his gaze sharpening on her. “Can’t I take an unplanned trip?” he says with a wounded look, one hand going to his heart. “Must there always be an ulterior motive?”

“With you? Yes,” she shoots back, unimpressed. “Always, actually.” 

“Now, now, love. Is that any way to treat an old friend?”

“Probably not,” she acknowledges with false brightness. “Let me know when you see one of my old friends and I’ll be sure to adjust accordingly.”

Klaus grins back at her, a biting smile full of teeth. 

“Tell me something,” he says, making himself comfortable in the cushy armchair, his ankle coming to rest on his knee. “Why are you doing this?” He gestures around at the mess and she feels her face heat. 

“Listen,” she begins defensively, “it’s been a rough few weeks, okay? Kelsey is super anxious because her parents are, like, eighty and refuse to stop going to like, Pilates or whatever, so half my day consists of listening to her screaming at them about how she fully plans on donating her entire inheritance to the ACLU if they die because they didn’t get their shit together—”

“No,” he interrupts, “why are you doing this? Staying inside, isolating, quarantining—” He scoffs at the end, as though the very idea of not continuing about his normal life through all of this never once occurred to him. It reminds her of who he had been when they first met, and how very much she did not like him. 

Not that she’s all that sure that she likes him now. 

“You’re a vampire,” he continues, “you have no reason to shut yourself away in here like some tragic Gothic heroine.” 

Caroline blinks then scowls at him. “Maybe because I’m not a selfish prick,” she retorts, her eyes narrowing. “I like Kelsey, and I like her parents, and I’ve already been to six funerals in the last five years. I’ve had my fill, so sue me.”

The look on his face is one she recognizes—disbelieving, affectionate, and just the slightest bit exasperated. 

“Very well,” he says, dipping his chin in her direction. 

She’s pretty sure that means he doesn’t agree but isn’t willing to fight her on it, so she chalks it up as a victory.  

Kelsey texts that she’s decided to stay at her parents’ place through the next few weeks—I caught Mom on her way to an allegedly socially distanced lunch, the message reads, but no way she breaks out a double strand of pearls for a five person charity board. The second text is just a string of the cursing emoji. 

Caroline can practically hear the disdain in her roommate’s voice, and honestly, she can’t quite blame Kelsey for her reaction. After all, Liz Forbes is the ultimate essential worker, and Caroline had debated for days on flying home so she could do all of her mom’s grocery shopping for her. 

Instead, she had settled for shipping her no less than three boxes worth of hand sanitizer and bottles of Clorox right before they became scarce. 

(She’s not proud of the fact that she had compelled her way to her current stockpile of toilet paper, but a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.) 

From the way Klaus is lounging in her armchair, it looks like he’s decided to stay a while, so she puts him to work. The tiny shotgun house she shares with Kelsey is a relic, lacking in both air conditioning and, crucially, a dishwasher; but with lovely original hardwood flooring from the 1900s and, Caroline is pretty sure, at least two ghosts. 

She’s washing the dishes and making him dry, hyper-aware of how close his bicep is to her shoulder, when he says, much too casually, “You haven’t asked me why I’m here.”

“Because I don’t care,” she says with far too much flippancy to be genuine. “You know you don’t need to talk to dry.”

Klaus sends her that grin again, the one that always makes her knees feel a little wobbly. “You’re not even the slightest bit curious?”

“Nope,” she says sunnily, handing him the final dish and turning so she’s leaning against the counter. It gives her the opportunity to shift slightly away from him so that she can’t feel the warmth of his arm through her sleeve. “I’m sure it has something to do with Cajun vampy drama—I’ve seen True Blood, you know—and to be perfectly honest, all of that kingmaking bullshit sounds one, exhausting, and two, too rich for my blood.” She folds her arms over her chest. “It was hard enough dealing with that godawful Game of Thrones finale, so, you know. Hard pass from me.”

His laugh is low and warm and it slips through her veins like wine.

With the dishes put up and Klaus being disturbingly chill about not interfering with her plans, lacking though they may be thanks to the pandemic, Caroline decides to continue her party prepping. He doesn’t ask, but after the fifth side glance he slides her way, she says exasperatedly, “It’s a virtual quarantine party, okay? God.” 

He looks at the streamers, then at the stack of colorful hanging lanterns that are carefully folded on the side table and says mildly, “It looks extensive.” 

She snorts indelicately. “It freaking should. I’m chair of DG Recruitment this year—Delta Gamma,” she clarifies when his brow wrinkles. “My sorority.”

“Ah.”

Caroline points her pen at him. “Don’t you dare make fun,” she warns. “Being Recruitment Chair is hard during the best of times, okay? Now I have to figure out how to have a party where the entire purpose is getting to know a roomful of hundreds of strangers when literally no one can be in the same room as anyone else.” She takes a deep breath as anxiety, a feeling she’s been long familiar with but is grappling with more and more lately, flutters deep in her belly. “It fucking sucks, okay?” 

Klaus is watching her, his eyes dark and fathomless. “If anyone is capable,” he says, “I would imagine it would be you.” 

She looks up sharply, meeting his gaze. A girl could drown in those eyes, she thinks, sucked in by all of the tides and currents. And she knows better than most what it feels like to get swept out into his sea. 

“Fake nice doesn’t look good on you,” she grumbles, looking away first. 

He looks like he wants to say something more, but that’s the moment that Sparky decides he wants to be social, hopping up onto the couch and promptly plopping his rear on the arm of the sofa. His large green eyes stare unwaveringly at Klaus, and the mood is broken. 

“Your familiar?” he asks lightly, reaching out to give the cat a few scratches behind the ears. Sparky, ever the traitor, shuts his eyes in delighted content.

Caroline scowls at the two of them. “Feel free to take him back to Louisiana,” she suggests acidly. As though he understands, Sparky blinks up at her and meows softly in protest. “Yeah buddy,” she tells him, leaning in just a little despite the increased nearness to Klaus. “You think the humidity is bad here, just wait.” 

Klaus laughs low in his throat and it sparks along her skin. 

— 

With Klaus content to leave her to her party planning, Caroline eventually slips back into focus. She checks the slideshow of potential recruits, ticks off supply lists, sends approximately eighty texts to her committee’s group chat, and is frowning at a misprint on the banner currently pending at the printer’s when Klaus says, “Perhaps a break is in order, love?”

It’s on the tip of her tongue to tell him off, and to remind him that she’s not his love, but something stops her. There’s a tiny ache right behind her forehead and now that she’s stopped and taken a breath, she can feel her shoulders protesting the way she had hunched over her laptop for the last—she looks up at the clock on the wall—two hours

“Fine,” she decides, standing and cracking a few of her joints. She doesn’t miss the way his eyes darken at the sound; it sends a heady rush of—something down her spine. Hurriedly, she aims to distract. “What did you have in mind?”

As soon as she speaks the words into existence, she could smack herself in the forehead. In another life, one in which he didn’t try to kill the people she loved, she could easily imagine herself saying those exact words to him, her voice an octave lower as she looks up at him from beneath sultry lashes, a flirtatious glint in her eye. 

But in this one—

From the look on his face, the implication doesn't miss him either. But he doesn’t push it, and she feels a rush of gratitude. “Whatever you want, sweetheart,” he says agreeably, settling into the cushion of his seat and giving her what she’s pretty sure is his best attempt at looking harmless. 

Caroline considers, then reaches for the remote on the coffee table. “Guest’s choice,” she says, handing it to him before standing and walking over to where the living room becomes the kitchen. “I’m getting a Whiteclaw.” 

When she comes back into the living room, he’s moved to the couch and is now staring at the tv screen with a bemused expression. She can hear from the low volume that whatever trashy CW show Kelsey had last watched is playing. “Didn’t take you for a Supernatural fan,” she quips blithely, raising an eyebrow at him as she retakes her seat. His arm is draped over the back of the sofa and his fingers are mere centimeters from her shoulder. If she moved just slightly to her left, she would be pressed into him. 

She stays where she is.

A few minutes into the show, she sneaks a look at his face, wondering if she’ll see a smirk, or polite disinterest. But his attention is focused entirely on the tv screen where Sam and Dean Winchester speak in low tones. He seems to be—enjoying it. Belatedly, she wonders how much he actually gets to just sit and be, with no other responsibilities beckoning for him. 

By the half hour mark, her Whiteclaw is gone and when she returns to her seat with a second one, she suspects he has scooted over towards her spot just a bit. The mental image of him scooting is enough to send her snickering over her can; he sends her a questioning look but she just shakes her head and takes a long sip.

With a scant ten minutes left in the show, she finishes her second drink and his hand has braved the tiny divide between them, his ring finger just brushing the edge of her thigh. She doesn’t move away; there’s no point, she reasons practically. She already let him in, and it looks like he’s here for the foreseeable future—or at least the night. And she’s pretty sure she’s the one setting the limits on their—er, activities

She’s so lost in her own head that she misses the ending of the episode, almost flinching in surprise when the next episode loads, the fiery letters splashing across the otherwise dark tv screen. “We don’t have to watch this,” Caroline finds herself saying, her voice almost apologetic. 

Klaus doesn’t so much as glance her way as the opening scene begins. “Nonsense,” he says easily. “I’m quite invested.” 

And it’s insane, but she believes him. He hasn’t glanced her way since the plot picked up. 

They’re halfway through the second episode when his hand comes to rest on her hip, his fingers moving just enough to draw tiny circles on her hipbone. Caroline can’t quite stifle the tiny inhale the touch draws from her, but he doesn’t say anything. His gaze remains fixed on the tv screen where two handsome actors are hunting a—

“This show is very inaccurate,” he comments lightly, his fingers sliding into the small slope between her pelvis and her hip. “Werewolves don’t look like that.”

Caroline swallows, her throat dry. “I don’t think the CW has, like, a research team dedicated to mythological creatures.”

The pressure from his fingers increases just enough to make her want to squirm; she tamps down on the desire. “Hardly mythological,” he murmurs, and his mouth is suddenly much closer to her ear than it had been. 

“You know what I mean.” 

He hums, and the fingertip of his index finger dips below the waistband of her denim shorts. 

“Getting awfully brave with those hands,” she says, finally calling him out; but it comes out less sarcastic and breathier than she intended. 

It makes him laugh, the timber of the sound low against her ear. His stubble slides against her temple; how did he get so close? “I have yet to be warned off,” he points out, his hand roaming lower but staying a layer away from her skin. He traces the line of her underwear and goes no further, as though waiting on permission. “Forgive me for pressing my luck.”

Three things occur to her as they watch Sam Winchester flirt with a pretty girl that she’s, like, eighty-five percent sure he has to kill by the end of the episode. 

One: she hasn’t had contact—real skin to skin contact with anyone since at least March. Possibly longer—Kelsey, her best friend for at least two thousand miles, doesn’t touch as a general rule, and certainly no hugs. It’s not you, she had said after shirking away the first—and last—time Caroline had attempted one. My parents never did, so it’s weird. 

Caroline, though, is tactile by nature, and she hadn’t realized just how much she had missed the feel of another person until now. 

Two: it’s been even longer since she’s gotten laid. 

But it’s not, like, by choice okay? She’d gotten her bring-a-skeevy-guy-home phase well out of her system by the end of her first semester freshman year, and she’d deleted Tinder not long into her second after a particularly bad catfishing experience. Then there’d been Jake, her semi-serious boyfriend her sophomore year, but that had ended in spectacularly terrible fashion after she’d walked in on him in bed with his lab partner. 

Three: there’s no one for thousands of miles to judge her other than Sparky (and he can add it to his lengthening list). She isn’t going to tell anyone, that’s for sure—except maybe Kelsey, whose interest will extend to a demand for details and no further. Klaus is a looser cannon, but even so, she has a feeling whatever she decides in the next few minutes won’t be making its way back to Mystic Falls. 

As though reading her mind, he dips his head towards her ear, murmuring, “I can keep a secret, sweetheart.” His finger runs across the edge of her underwear.

Well.

In that case.

Her bedroom is the first door off the hallway that leads from the living room, but it seems an impossibly far distance at this exact moment. 

It’s just kissing, Caroline reasons to herself even as her hips shift to cradle him between her legs, her head resting against one of the decorative sofa pillows Kelsey had bought. The button and zipper of her denim shorts both gape open, but his hands have mostly stayed above her waist, one curling around her collarbone and the other sliding under her shirt towards the line of her bra. 

It’s just kissing—but he’s got over a thousand years of experience and it damn well shows.

Her hands wander—try to wander, as he puts a quick stop to it, capturing both wrists over her head in one of his hands without pulling his mouth from hers. “Not cool,” she says against his lips and he smiles before slowly lifting first his index finger, then his middle finger, allowing one of her hands to wiggle free. She sends it immediately to the fly of his jeans and now he does pull his mouth away, which tears a highly undignified sound from her throat. 

“What’s the rush?” he says, pulling away slightly so that he can recapture her hand. He lays a kiss in the middle of her palm. It’s a gesture that is all at once unexpected and entirely too sweet for all the things she knows about him. She blinks and maybe he sees how the reality of their compromised situation is about to come crashing back to her—who he is, who she is, the wide chasm across which they have stared at each other for years—because he gives a quiet, “Ah,” and then his mouth is back on hers with a new intensity. 

There’s a soft rip followed almost immediately by the sound of multiple tiny plastic buttons hitting the floor. Caroline pulls away just long enough to begin to complain—she likes that top, God— but both of his hands come up to cup her face and his mouth is insistent on hers. 

With her shirt in tatters on the hardwood, Klaus’s hands move from her face to her bra, unclasping the hooks at the back expertly and tossing it to the side. His tongue slides against hers as his hands work their way down to her denim shorts; they skate down her legs and she kicks them off helpfully before reaching for the hem of his Henley shirt. 

He breaks the kiss just long enough to duck his head so that she can pull the shirt off of him; it follows her clothes to the floor but his mouth doesn’t return to hers. Instead, he drops long, hot kisses down the length of her neck, her throat, the dip between her breasts, before nuzzling one nipple with his nose. It pebbles and hardens beneath the attention, straining upward for his mouth, his teeth— 

She whines when he drops a kiss on the side of her breast, one of her legs jumping in frustration. She brings one hand up to take care of it herself— 

Before she can blink, both of her wrists are pinned to her sides, trapped by his hands. When she looks up at him incredulously, there is a half-smile playing at his mouth and he holds her gaze as he does the same to her other nipple, teasing her, tormenting her. 

“You’re horrible,” she sighs, letting her head fall back. She feels him laugh then finally, finally, he takes one nipple in his mouth and sucks, the flat of his tongue pressing against the tightly straining skin as his hand trails down her stomach. A finger slips past the flimsy cotton barrier of her underwear and ugh, she hadn’t even worn cute panties since at least the beginning of quarantine because she hadn’t seen the point. 

He gives a soft hum and the vibration against her nipple has her head falling back heavily against the couch cushion. 

After several tortuous moments, his stubble leaving red patches against her breasts, he continues his journey southward, pausing to suck bruises into the dip of her waist, into a spot by her navel, into the point of her hipbone, before finally nosing at the top of her panties. 

“You are taking forever,” she groans, one hand coming up to pull her hair off of her flushed face. Klaus glances up at her and she seriously might die on the fucking spot when he— 

—takes the elastic of her underwear in his teeth— 

Her undead heart might actually stop; her mouth drops open in shock before he tugs and her panties come apart as though they are made of paper. 

For a long, excruciating moment, nothing happens. Caroline peaks down and feels her cheeks redden at the sight of him just...looking at her. Her breath catches in her throat and he hears it, blinking up at her slowly, like a cat watching a mouse as it squirms. He doesn’t break eye contact with her as he touches her clit with his tongue, but after several gentle strokes, she has to drop her head back down, her hand burying itself in his hair. 

Klaus does nothing by half-measures—she knows that from experience, has seen it firsthand, and honestly, she should not be surprised that this is no exception. 

His tongue is magic, and she thinks, almost deliriously, tracing and swiping and putting just the right amount of pressure in just the right places. His grip on her hips is almost painful as he spreads her open, but she barely notices. Something blinding and white hot is unfurling in her stomach, her foot digging into his back— 

—but he stops— 

Why?” she cries, coming up on her elbows, not even the least bit ashamed that she is almost in tears. 

He kisses her hard, the line of his body pressing into hers, and it’s then that she realizes he’s discarded his jeans and boxers. 

She can feel the hard length of him against her thigh, and something tightens in her belly. There’s no undoing this, once it’s done; there is no going back. Doubt flares in the back of her mind, and maybe he senses it because he breaks the kiss, pulling back and looking down at her. 

The eyes that look down at her are all at once strange and familiar—the same stormy blue she’s met across many a room, but she has never seen them so patient, so gentle, so full of— 

A part of her thinks he’s about to offer her a reprieve, that he’ll tell her they can stop if she wants, that if she isn’t completely sure about this, they should cross no more lines. But as soon as the thought whispers across her mind, she discards it as entirely un-Klaus-like. This is that moment, she thinks—him hovering over her, poised to enter her but waiting, waiting for her to look him in the eye and tell him that she wants him. 

So she does, leaping over the line without a backwards glance. 

“You can’t just stop there,” she complains tartly, her lower lip jutting out in the tiniest pout. “That would be like, seriously depraved. Even for you.” One of her hands comes to rest on his shoulder and the other wraps around his neck, bringing him flush to her for another kiss. She feels the smirk on his mouth as their lips meet, and it would be annoying if he wasn’t already pressing into her, the top of his cock sliding past her entrance. 

Klaus lingers there, poised at her entrance, long enough that she tries to tilt her hips up, which earns her a stern look and the pressure of his hand easing them back down. 

“Behave,” he scolds lightly before kissing her, his tongue sliding into her mouth as he pushes forward just a bit more. Slowly, incrementally, he pulls back out, and Caroline takes his lower lip between her teeth and bites

It’s as though that was all the permission he needed. Klaus leans back slightly, and she thinks she recognizes the glint in his eye before he wraps one hand under her knee and hitches it up as he slowly, tortuously sinks back in, inch by inch until he bottoms out. She gives a gasp that she won’t be proud of later, and he hisses through his teeth, leaning forward to drop his forehead to the ball of her shoulder. 

His hips begin to thrust, and his hand moves between them to brush lightly over her clit. She feels herself grow impossibly wetter, the slide of him growing ever easier. He moves so that his face is just hovering over hers, his eyes locked on her, and it’s easily in the top ten of the most erotic things she’s experienced: the prolonged eye contact as his cock moves in her. 

Caroline gets the distinct impression from the steady snap of his hips that he can keep this up as long as it takes for her to come, but her body is already worked into a near frenzy. His fingers increase their pressure and she can feel the tell-tale tightening deep in her abdomen. 

He must feel it too, around him, because he touches his nose to hers and says, his voice deeper than she can ever remember hearing it, “That’s it, sweetheart. Go on.” 

As though to emphasize his words, he closes the tiny space between them and kisses her, hard enough to bruise, his tongue easing past her teeth. 

Everything, everything tenses—her entire body shudders, her fingernails digging into his back hard enough to draw blood as she clenches down on him, unable to hold the moan that escapes from her throat. His hips speed up at the sound, and she is so tight around him that it’s a wonder he has any space to thrust at all. 

Her wave crests and her limbs, warm and sated, slacken around him as he fucks her, chasing his own release. It’s not far behind hers, and she feels his human teeth scrape her neck as he comes, his hands unyielding on her hips.

Across the room, the tv screen goes black and the credits begin to flash. Holy shit, she thinks as she tries to catch her breath. But maybe she says it out loud too, because she hears Klaus chuckle as his face drops into her neck. 

She doesn’t feel any different but she knows the world, her world, has just tilted on its axis. 

It’s early the next morning when his Uber arrives, and neither of them say anything as they stand on her front steps, shoulder to shoulder but not touching. 

The car pulls up and Klaus puts his hands in his pockets, casts a glance at her and looks as though he may say something. She braces herself for platitudes, for declarations of intentions, for entreaties to come with him—but he seems to think the better of it, settling for a half-smile and a single nod of his head. He makes his way down her stone walkway and something deep in her heart twists and twists until it snaps. 

He’s halfway to the car when she calls out, “Klaus!” The morning sun catches the gold in his hair as he stops and turns, one eyebrow lifting questioningly. 

Caroline chews her lip before she dives in head first. “Why are you here?”

For a moment he just looks at her, his eyes meeting hers before dropping down to her lips, her neck, the bare skin exposed by the v of her t-shirt; and for a long moment, he doesn’t say anything. It’s long enough that she thinks he may leave her to her curiosity—it would be entirely Klaus-like, after all. 

But then he clears his throat, looks down at the walkway and says simply, “To see you.” 

And—well

Her chin juts out and she squares her shoulders, marching right up to him—

Past him—

“Sorry for the confusion,” she calls to the Uber driver, gesturing at him with the universal you can go, your services are no longer needed hand-wave. “He’s not actually leaving, sorry!” 

The driver rolls his eyes and peels away from her curb. 

When she turns back to Klaus, his face has gone from carefully blank to just the slightest bit hopeful. It makes him look younger, she thinks, as though the weight of the world has been lifted off of his shoulders for just a minute. 

“Stay awhile,” she suggests, her voice soft and her grip firm.

— 

Four days.

That’s how long he’s been here with her, in her room, in her bed, in her sheets. 

Caroline has no idea what went down in New Orleans that drove him here, and she meant it when she said she didn’t want to know. Her own drama in Seattle consists entirely of yelling at girls smoking in their sorority letters and who Kelsey decides to bring home after a night out at the bars— pre-pandemic, anyway. Currently, she’s buying up all the Lysol wipes that Target will sell her and shipping them directly to her mother’s front door while demanding daily temperature updates; but the point is that she’d had her fill of world-saving, love-triangle bullshit back in Mystic Falls. She has zero desire to return back to any of that. 

But. 

His hands, his painter’s hands with their long fingers and nimble wrists, work magic on her, and well—it’s been weeks, months since anyone has touched her at all. She keeps telling herself that—that this is one of the weirdest years in history, that she’s allowed to indulge herself, that it’s just sex— 

Nobody needs to know. 

Someone on her block is throwing a fucking party

“It’s irresponsible,” she hisses at Klaus, who seems much more interested in how the way she’s leaning out over the balcony railing to shoot angry glares at the house across the street is making her dress ride up. His fingers skim over the swathe of exposed skin of her thighs, and his lips find her neck. 

“Quit that, I’m busy plotting the murders of people breaking quarantine,” she says, but her voice lacks firmness and he ignores her. 

“They’re college students,” he points out, moving to the other side of her neck. “Of course they’re being irresponsible.” 

“Excuse you, I am a college student—”

“—and you did not make me quarantine for fourteen days before letting me in.” His hand slips up under the hem of the pretty sundress she had put on that morning, determined to feel some semblance of normalcy, to feel like herself again. His teeth scrape the shell of her ear. “Highly irresponsible, I’m afraid.” 

Caroline tries to scowl but his fingers have dipped past her underwear, finding her clit. 

Public,” she protests, her hands gripping the railing hard enough that it splinters. 

He is unmoved. “Do you want to stop?” His fingertip traces the outline of her clit as though he takes a personal affront to the suggestion. Her knees weaken and she pitches forward the slightest bit more, thankful for once that she can’t see what is undoubtedly the smug expression on his face. 

“There is no one out there, love,” he murmurs into her ear, and something about it—maybe it’s his tone, or the low pitch of his voice, or just the way the absence of cars on the roads is amplifying the sound of her breathing—sends a rush of wetness between her legs.  

Finally, finally, his finger slips between her folds, and he exhales heavily, the air brushing over her flushed face. “Sweetheart,” he purrs, his thumb barely stroking her clit, “would you like for me to take you? Out here? Like this?” As if to emphasize exactly what he means, as if she needs a demonstration, a second finger joins the first, and his thumb speeds up. She feels stretched open around him, and before she can stop herself, her hips push back against him insistently. Her forehead drops as though her neck can no longer support the weight of her head. 

“Klaus,” she tries to say sternly, but instead she half-moans it. He leans over, his free arm wrapping around her middle to pull her closer, his chest pressing firmly against her back. She can feel him grin against her neck as his fingers continue their wet slide in and out of her, his thumb working fucking magic— 

Her muscles tense and her mouth drops open, half hidden by her hair as her walls clench around his fingers. White hot stars are born and die in the same aching instant behind her eyelashes. 

When she finally opens her eyes, the party across the street is in full swing, with some of the occupants spilling over to the front yard. Someone strings up a large object in the large tree in the front yard and even in her blissful haze, Caroline can’t help but nosily squint at the shape. 

“Is that a piñata?” she demands, her head falling back to rest against Klaus’s chest and her arm coming up to cover his where it’s still wrapped around her waist. He gives a pleased hum that she feels more than hears as his fingers slip out of her. “Seriously? Like there’s not a fucking pandemic going on, I swear to God, people are the worst—” 

“You didn’t answer my question,” he interrupts, and Caroline realizes belatedly that the back of her dress is still hiked up, her mostly bare ass still pressed fully against him. 

“Um,” she offers, still glaring at the party house, “what question?” Hand to God, she doesn’t remember a question. 

Klaus laughs and she feels his lips against her temple when the rest of the party in the house moves to outside of the house. There are feminine shrieks of laughter and Caroline narrows her eyes suspiciously before craning her neck to see if she spots any of her fellow sorority members amongst the crowd. “I’ll destroy them,” she mutters, having mostly forgotten Klaus behind her, until he says amusedly, “Of that, I have no doubt.” 

With the party having seemed to split itself between indoors and outdoors, Caroline grits her teeth and forces herself to push his hands away. “They might see us,” she points out, tilting her head up at the white lights that she and Kelsey had strung along the overhang of their balcony. They don’t cast that much light, but it’s enough to bathe them both in a soft backlight and all she needs for this shitty year to get even shittier is to have some drunk frat boy look up, see them, and post all over that stupid anonymous gossip site—JuicyUni or whatever the hell—about the Recruitment Chair for DG getting fucked in semi-public. 

It’s enough to douse her libido in ice cold water. “We should go inside,” she decides hurriedly, tugging her dress down and pushing his hands away firmly. 

He looks amused at her sudden urgency and lets her pull him back through the sliding glass door. She’s shutting it and turning the latch when strong hands pull at her waist and turn her quickly, pushing her up against the wall. Klaus grips her thighs, pulling her up, and her legs automatically move to wrap around his waist. 


Caroline blinks and his face, still carrying his amused expression, is inches from hers. 

There’s a soft rip and she lets her head fall back to the wall, groaning. “Seriously? That's like the third pair since you got here! Stop ruining my—”

Her complaint is muffled by a bruising kiss, his tongue sliding past her teeth and one hand coming up to curve around the back of her head, tangling in her hair. 

She hears the sound of a zipper, then the thick head of his cock teases her clit before he sheathes himself to the hilt inside of her, making her stutter out a gasp. 

Klaus is entirely unashamed, adjusting her hips to hit a deeper angle inside of her. “Say the word, love,” he says in her ear, “and I’ll buy you whatever you want.” He emphasizes the words with a languid thrust of his hips. 

“Famous last words,” she retorts, her fingers burying themselves in his hair before she kisses him. “I’ll drain your bank account dry.” Her tongue brushes past his teeth and she nearly jerks her head back when she feels their sharpness. 

Caroline pulls her head back just slightly—his eyes are still blue, shaded in black veins and he arches an eyebrow questioningly at her. Her heartbeat picks up and her eyes widen before dropping down to the vein in his neck. 

His nose brushes against her temple. “Have at it, sweetheart,” he murmurs, his voice a low rumble.

She swallows, hard, unable to tear her eyes from his neck. “Okay,” she whispers, her gums aching as her fangs slide out. “Okay.” 

Years of subsisting on blood bags and woodland creatures has almost made her forget this part—the heady rush of teeth piercing skin, the first taste of warmth on her tongue. Caroline gives a tiny moan, her thighs gripping tightly around his waist, and his exhale across her cheek sounds suspiciously like a laugh. 

His hand comes up to her neck, one long finger stroking down the artery there. “May I?” 

It’s been a while since she’s felt fangs at her throat, but the memories are sharp. Damon had hurt, Tyler had hurt, but Klaus is asking permission, and she finds that that makes all the difference.  “Mhmm,” she sighs, taking a final dainty drink before releasing him and letting her head fall back, exposing the column of her neck. 

Her first thought is that it doesn’t hurt, exactly—there’s a tiny twinge of discomfort followed by a slow burning heat—the poison before it’s neutralized, she thinks hazily—but she’s almost immediately distracted by the way his hips are moving. His hands cup her ass, hitching her further up, her back sliding against the wall. He’s hitting that spot inside of her, the one that never fails to make her—

She gasps his name, her body shivering as she comes. 

His teeth slide out of her neck and she feels his tongue sweep away whatever droplets of blood have escaped as his own release follows. 

Outside, there’s a loud thud followed by the sound of drunken cheering. Klaus slips from her and she blinks, pushing her hair back from her face. He lets go over her thighs, letting her slide back down to her feet, her legs still shaking. She has to hold on to him to steady herself, which makes him look way more self-satisfied than should be allowed. 

Caroline catches a glimpse of the two of them in the reflection of the sliding glass door. There’s blood on his collar and her dress is wrinkled beyond salvaging; but her body sways softly towards him and he angles himself towards her, one hand curling possessively over her hip. 

They look together, and it’s…not the worst thing.

“I think,” he muses, leaning past her to look outside, “that your fellow students have found a diversion.” 

She follows his gaze to the house across the street. The piñata has burst and its contents have spilled all over the front lawn— 

“Oh my god,” she says in disbelief. “Are those condoms?” 

Klaus laughs appreciatively and she feels the rumble of it where his body is pressed to hers. “Appears so,” he says into her hair. 

“I’m transferring,” she announces grimly, heading into the kitchen for a drink with his laughter echoing behind her. 

Caroline wakes up a bit hungover and naked from the waist up, a firm, possessive arm slung low over her hips and the haughty green eyes of one particularly judgmental grey tabby inches from her face. She blinks blearily at Sparky, who leans in to sniff at her curiously. He rears back in what she can only assume is feline disgust before leaping away to parts unknown—probably, she guesses, to paw at the door of the tiny side closet where his food is locked away. 

The events of last night are blurry—surely, surely the condom piñata was a Whiteclaw-induced nightmare because otherwise she will have to make good on her threat to transfer, just out of pure judgement for the entirety of her fellow student body—but a brief glance under the covers confirms her suspicions that somehow, in her less than sober state, she had managed to swipe Klaus’ boxers off the floor and wiggle her way into them. 

She flushes at the hazy memory and a sleepy voice next to her rumbles, “What a sight to wake up to in the morning.” The arm around her waist tightens and the covers rustle as Klaus shifts, pulling her closer and burying his nose in her neck, inhaling deeply. Sharp teeth scrape the column of her throat and her heart starts to pound in her chest. “A man could wake up to this every morning for a millennia,” he murmurs close to her ear. 

“In your dreams,” she retorts even as her backside shifts instinctively to line up with him. Klaus doesn’t laugh—instead, his hand travels down her stomach and under the waistband of his boxers. His fingers part her easily and the tip of his index finger dips shallowly inside. She’s already wet and she would be embarrassed but honestly—after almost a week of this, she’s given up on kidding herself. 

“Apparently not,” he says, his mouth hot against the skin behind her ear. His hand falls away and she catches the protests that form on her tongue before they take flight. 

But he does her one better, hoisting himself up so that he hovers over her, the corded length of his necklace dangling in the shrinking space between them. His knee gently moves her legs apart while one of his hands pulls his boxers off of her, dropping them to the side. 

“So you don’t destroy your own clothes,” she sniffs, then inhales sharply when the blunt tip of his cock presses into her. He laughs, low in his throat, and she acts on instinct, using her own vampire strength and quickness to flip them. 

Klaus looks up at her through dark, hooded eyes as one hand comes up to cup her breast. She fights off a grin as she shakes her head, wrapping her fingers around his wrists and pinning them over his head. 

“What goes around comes around, Mikaelson,” Caroline breathes, her knees bracketing his hips. 

“So I’ve heard,” he says, voice gravelly. 

Her hair falls over her shoulder, obscuring her face as she leans down, planting wet, open-mouthed kisses down his bare chest. She lingers in a few spots on her journey southward, pulling the skin between her teeth until a bright red spot appears.  She feels fingers in her scalp and pulls away immediately. “Hands up there,” she orders sternly, and his lips twitch as though he’s biting back a smile.

“Yes ma’am,” he agrees amusedly, his voice so velvety smooth that it sends sparks down her spine. 

But she is a woman on a mission, so she files that away as something To Be Explored Later. 

Slowly, she continues to make her way down until she’s at eye-level with the thatch of dark hair between his thighs. She sends a look up at him, one eyebrow raised suggestively, only to see that his eyes have closed, his lashes dark against his skin. A tiny, self-satisfied smirk is playing across his mouth. 

A very small part of her is sorely tempted to just sit here like this, her mouth mere inches away from his very interested cock until he opens his eyes. But the larger part of her, the very turned on part of her, would rather take him in her mouth and make him see the same stars that have been going supernova behind her eyes all week. 

That part of her wins, and, resolute, she licks a stripe alongside the vein near her nose. 

His hips twitch and she watches in naked delight as the corded muscles in his arms tighten as he very clearly wars with her directive and his own desire to bury his hands in her hair. 

“Caroline,” he warns, and she smiles up sweetly at him. “You are playing with fire.” 

She blinks, her expression that of perfect innocence. “But you like it,” she points out, and his cock somehow swells even more, as though agreeing with her. Her smile broadens. “See?” 

Before he can answer, she places a soft, almost delicate kiss to the tip of him. The muscles low in his abdomen contract and he makes a hissing sound that sets her veins aflame. 

“Caroline,” he says again, voice low and gravelly, “I yield.” 

It’s something she hadn’t even realized she was waiting for, but it sends a rush of arousal straight through her and just like that, she’s done playing games with him. She hums appreciatively and takes him in her mouth. 

His skin is warm, like a human man’s, and she lets her eyes close. She sucks gently, letting her teeth graze him just a little, and she lets one hand come up to grasp the base of him. Her other flutters near his hip, landing there and gently stroking the bone with her fingertips. Before long, he’s hitting the back of her throat and she’s waiting for that telltale sign that he’s almost there when— 

“Sweetheart,” Klaus rumbles from somewhere far above her, “get back up here.” She releases him with a pop just as strong fingers wrap around her upper arms, hauling her up so that they are nose to nose. 

“But you didn’t—” 

He cuts her off with a searing kiss, his grip still strong as he settles her on top of him. She gets it then, and reaches down to guide him inside of her. 

The angle is different, hitting new places inside of her and she lets her head fall forward, her forehead resting against his as her eyes shut. Her hips begin to move in slow pulses, and his hands grip her hard enough to leave bruises. 

Klaus shifts, sitting up so that his back is flush against her headboard, and pulls her in, his hand spanning her back. His mouth finds her chest and moves down, laying hot, open-mouthed kisses against her flushed skin until he finds her nipple and sucks

It’s enough for her—the arousal that had been building since she had him in her mouth writhes and snaps. Her belly tightens, her body tightening around him, her fingers grasping the muscles of his back, and she exhales his name loudly enough that she thinks she sees it written in the air around them. 

He flips them as she floats back down to her body, thrusting into her with a ferocity that both terrifies and thrills her. 

“Klaus,” she whispers to him as he comes, his face buried in her hair. “You yielded.”

His hips give a final fierce snap before his body relaxes so that he is heavy on top of her. “So I did,” he murmurs into the column of her throat. “So I did.”

— 

He’s going to leave soon—they both know it. Caroline figures he probably stayed a lot longer than he meant to anyway, not that she can totally blame him—the sex is really good, after all. She can tell a difference in her own state of mind: the anxiety and the worry for her mom, for Kelsey, for Bonnie, for all of her human loved ones, are still there, lingering in the back of her mind, but in the back they have mostly stayed. 

As far as Klaus goes—well. She doesn’t pretend to know just how regularly he’s getting laid in New Orleans. He hadn’t offered and she hadn’t asked; but he’s always been very direct in his desire for her, so she’s pretty sure she’s not being a total narcissist when she credits the newfound looseness in his shoulders and his easier laugh to sex with her specifically. 

Still, their tiny bubble can’t last forever. Kelsey will come back from her parents’ place in just a few days, his tiny Louisiana fiefdom will beckon, and their paths will diverge once again. Back to their regularly scheduled programming. 

But that day is not today, and so she settles in next to him on the couch, Casablanca on the tv and his arm slung across her shoulders. It’s one of her favorites, buoyed by memories of watching it as a kid, under the covers with her mom, and she can nearly recite the entire script off the top of her head. 

“If I asked you to stay,” Caroline begins softly, her gaze fixed on the screen where Humphrey Bogart is leaning over the bar, his eyes on Ingrid Bergman, “would you?”

His fingers, which had been carding gently through her hair, still. He’s quiet long enough that she looks over at him, and something small and fragile flutters in her chest at the contemplative look on his face. 

“If I asked you to come with me,” he says, echoing her instead of answering, “would you?”

She chews her lip, and his thumb comes up to gently pull at her lower lip, freeing it from her teeth while he waits, more patient than she’s ever seen him, for her to answer. 

“Seattle has been—” she struggles for a moment to find the right words, “—a really good thing. For me. I didn’t know anyone, literally anyone, for at least a thousand miles when I first got here.” Caroline shrugs, gesturing to the house around them. “I got to like, build this for myself. These are my friends, you know?” She peers up at his face and his fingers resume their slow pull through her hair. Encouraged, she continues, “These are my people. Not Elena’s, not Bonnie’s, but mine. And they’re mine because they like me, not because we grew up together, not because I’m anybody’s girlfriend, but just because I’m me and they like me.” 

“It is impossible not to like you, Caroline,” he says quietly, his eyes intent on her face. 

That draws a snort from her and she gives a little poke to his chest. “You’re biased,” she informs him, her mood lightened slightly. He captures her hand in his, his fingers lacing through hers. “But I can’t go with you.” She straightens and motions to the stacks of party planning supplies that she hasn’t touched since that first night. “I have to get through Recruitment first, anyway.”

Klaus laughs at that and it makes her blood warm. “I meant what I said, sweetheart,” he tells her, his hand cupping her face and his thumb tracing the line of her brow bone. “However long it takes.” 

The declaration, the same one he made last year, emboldens her just enough to repeat herself. “If I asked you to stay,” she prods. 

He tilts his head, his eyes on her face, and for once, she doesn’t try to fill the silence. 

“Are you asking?” he volleys back finally. 

And there’s the rub—she honestly isn’t sure. 

Instead of answering, she reaches for the remote and pauses the movie. The screen freezes on Ingrid Berman’s face as she gazes at Humphrey Bogart. 

“It’s been...nice,” she says slowly, “having someone—having you here.” 

“But,” he prompts gently, his thumb running a slow, steady trail across her knuckles. 

Caroline hesitates before saying in a rush, “But all of what I just said about Seattle and my people here? That—kind of applies to you too.” She struggles to find the words to explain, before settling on, “I’ve been here for, what, three years? And the worst thing to happen to me was when I found out my ex-boyfriend was cheating on me, and yeah it fucking sucked, but like—no one died, which honestly, is pretty good considering. It was super normal, you know?” She laughs. “Kelsey and I egged his car and almost got arrested.” 

Klaus is watching her closely. “Caroline,” he says, his voice low and warm, “You don’t have to justify yourself to me.” 

“No,” she says quickly, heart sinking as she realizes she’s flubbing it. “No, that’s not what I’m trying to do, I just—what I’m trying to say is that this whole experience has been really, really good for me. And if I go with you, or if I ask you to stay, then maybe that ends up being good too, but I’m not ready for this,” she gestures around at the house aimlessly, “to end yet. And I think I…I need to know that I can do this by myself. That I can see it through without anyone’s help.” She sits up straight, her knees drawing into her chest. “So I’m not asking you to stay, but I’m not…I’m not saying that this is it. It’s not—it’s not the end or anything, it’s just—” she shrugs. “A pause, maybe. If you want.” 

His head tilts and as he considers her, she gets the distinct feeling he can see more of her than she has ever realized. But before she can ponder the thought any further, he brings her knuckles to his lips. 

“I want,” he tells her firmly and she flattens her hand against his face, her thumb moving over his cheekbone. 

“Okay,” she says before nodding once and withdrawing her hand as she leans forward to unpause the movie. 

He stops her, taking her face in both of his hands and kissing her deeply. 

“One day,” he murmurs against her lips, “this year, or the next, or the one after that—I’ll take you wherever you want to go.” 

Caroline opens her eyes to find him looking directly at her. “What about your bayou?” she whispers. 

“It will keep.” 

She hums thoughtfully. “Klaus—”

He kisses her again, and she lets him. She kisses him back as she shifts to her back, cradling him between her thighs, tugging his shirt over his head and allowing her own to be dragged off as well. Her fingers make deft work of the button and zipper on his jeans, and as he pulls them off, she shimmies out of her shorts and panties. He sends a rueful grin her way at the sight.

“I like those,” she defends, and he quiets her with another long, searing kiss. 

The last week—or has it been longer? God, she’s lost track—has been filled with sex of all stripes, but this feels different. Caroline can’t explain the difference, but she feels it in the movement of his body and in the touch of his lips, gentle and reverent. 

She wonders if this is what making love feels like. 

In the hazy afterglow, his hand tracing loops on her bare shoulder, Humphrey Bogart says from the tv screen, we’ll always have Paris.

The couch is barely big enough for the two of them, but Caroline risks it, turning in his arms so that she’s facing him. “Maybe,” she breathes into the tattoo along his collarbone, “Maybe one day I’ll just show up on your doorstep.” Her hand flattens against his chest, over his heart. “Just roll up to New Orleans with a bag and stay awhile.” 

He presses a kiss to the crown of her head. “You have an open invitation,” he tells her, his hand covering hers. 

Someday, she thinks, she’ll take him up on it. 

— 

fin.