Author's Note: Hello! I'm sorry about the wait! Thank you all so much for taking the time to reach out to me! I love hearing what you ahve to say! It's late, and I'm exhausted, so forgive the horrible chapter. Stay healthy out there! Let me know what you think! Enjoy!
Caroline collapses into Klaus's arms, laughing hysterically as she wraps her arms around his neck. She's hot and sweating and her heart is pounding loudly in her chest and even though she's tired from dancing, Klaus's hands settle on her waist and sway back and forth with the music. Caroline presses close to him, resting her cheek against his, not minding his stubble scratching her. She wraps one arm around his shoulders while the other one rested on Klaus's forearm as they sway back and forth.
Klaus surprised her by taking her to a whole bunches of places throughout the day, showing her what he deemed to be the best places in New Orleans. They saw all the sights and ate a lot of food and Caroline listened to Klaus talk about the history of it. She watched him glow with pride as he fondly remembered places that somehow still stood, or recreated the picture of what once stood there for her. Caroline loved how his eyes shined talking about it, the smile that never quite left his face. His anger over Hayley and Stefan ganging up on him earlier seems to have passed, at least, to which Caroline is grateful.
And at the end of the night, he took her to a small club that wasn't like what she imagined a night club to be like, it had a bar on one side of the room and a stage with live bands to play on. It wasn't very big, and it was dark in there aside from strobe lights attached to the stage. Caroline runs her fingers through the soft curls at Klaus's hairline as they sway, happy that all the people around them are too preoccupied with each other to look at them.
She's never seen Klaus shy away from dancing and honestly, he's good at it and a part of Caroline has to wonder if dancing is rooted in his family's culture. Admittedly, she didn't know a lot about Vikings or their culture. But seeing as her child was raised with the culture and it's aunt and uncles are half Vikings, the least she could do is crack open a book about it. Just to know.
Caroline presses herself close to him and he accepts the additional weight without complaint. She feels him turn his face and for a moment, she thought he was going to kiss her cheek, but instead, he pressed his nose into her hair and breathed it in deeply. Her mind instantly bulked at the idea of him breathing in her sweat, as she isn't exactly fresh as a daisy anymore after running around in the hot sun all day and all this dancing has her working up quite the sweat. And the idea of him just breathing it in isn't favorable. But then she remembered something that Hayley said. That werewolves leave their scent behind on people, especially those that they leave a lot of lingering touches on, or have more intimate touches with - like sex.
Now that Caroline thinks about it, she's sweating, so is he, and they are pressed against one another. So now she's not sure if he's breathing in her scent or his own, and whichever one he was doing, she has to wonder if he even realized he was doing it. Either way, she felt her skin prickle, and when she turns her eyes to his, in the darkness of the club, his eyes glitter with the strobe lights. She never noticed it before, probably because she's never just stared into Klaus's eyes, but looking into his eyes, they are soft and kind.
Caroline smiles softly, her heart swelling a bit when the corners of his lips turn up. And once more, Caroline feels bad for how she treated him. Sure, he mostly deserved it, but not always and not all of it.
Her legs are starting to ache and she's exhausted, looking into Klaus's eyes she knows the answer to her question as she's asking it, "We have to go back now, don't we?"
Klaus presses his forehead against her own, squeezing her waist reassuringly before saying, softly, "I hope you had a good time out tonight, Caroline."
Caroline nods, smiling a little bit more, relieved that she means it. She leans close as another loud song starts to play by the band on stage, a cover to a song that she's heard before. "With how stressful everything has been these last few... months, I'm glad we got this time," Caroline admits. "Time to just let our hair down and forget about all the horrible, ichy stuff going on, even if only for a moment."
Klaus nods slowly, staring down into her eyes for a moment before squeezing her waist again saying, "One more song, don't you think?"
Caroline huffs a bit, closes her eyes, and just lets herself focus on the swaying of their bodies. Klaus is good at leading them, even if they are slightly offbeat from the rest of the floor, she just relishes in the feeling. Klaus is able to make her feel better than she has in a long time. And she's brought back to that night - the night of the Mikaelson Gala. The heat and passion between them, how Klaus was telling her the truth. She was the one that made the first move, and despite her being so dismissive of him, she knew that she was starting to be unable to ignore the feelings that she has for him.
They have good chemistry.
That one more song turned into three more songs until Caroline's heart has completely slowed and she's basically falling asleep in his arms. Once the set ends and the band explains that there was going to be a break and the two take that time to slip out of the relatively busy club and head out for the night. As much fun as the day has been - and it has been fun - she's so tired, she's ready to just collapse onto the floor.
Klaus takes her hand and leads her through the busy streets and to his car. Like a gentleman, he holds open the door for her and she barely has the energy to buckle herself in before he's driving down the road.
"Klaus," Caroline says softly in the otherwise quiet car, "your baby is draining the life from me."
She opens her eyes and looks down at the red necklace feeding her energy into her baby. Her words don't match her tone. Her voice is soft and sweet, and she touches her stomach lovingly. Klaus smiles softly, casting her a short, sideways look.
"I'm sorry, love," he says, and she believes him.
"Can you do something for me?" Caroline asks softly.
Klaus nods. "Anything."
"Can you listen to it? Our baby's heartbeat? Without killing us in a car crash of epic levels?" Caroline asks, letting out a little laugh. "I'm jealous. I wish that I could hear it too. I never thought I would ever get annoyed at the sound of my own heartbeat before."
Klaus spares her a look before turning his eyes to the road and adapting this faraway look on his face and she knows that he's split his attention between listening to their baby's heart and watching the road to ensure they don't crash. Caroline leans against the window, staring at the side of Klaus's face as he focuses, that soft expression that she can never get enough of across his features.
"Is it strong?" Caroline asks after a few minutes of silence. "Is it beautiful?"
"Yes, and yes," Klaus says after a few breaths of silence. He looks over at her. "What are you hoping for?"
Caroline tilts her head a bit, forcing herself to sit up and keep herself awake. "What do you mean? Genderwise?"
Klaus nods. "Any preference? Boy or girl?"
Caroline shakes her head, running her hand over her flat stomach, then running her fingers over the red jewel resting over her belly. "I don't mind either way. Boy or girl. There is something alluring about the idea of a mama's boy but the fashionista at heart wants a little girl that I can do her clothes and hair and make-up."
Klaus smiles faintly at that idea. "I don't much mind myself, one way or the other."
They lapse into silence as Klaus drives them back toward their current residence. Maybe it's because of the necklace, or because this is the first time in a while that she's spent the whole day running around sightseeing and dancing and eating a lot of great food, but before she knew it, she was asleep. She had a bad habit of sleeping in the car during long rides. As a kid, whenever they went on trips, she would sleep almost the whole way there in the car because she found it so peaceful. She had a cousin that was carsick all the time, but not Caroline. She could sleep so easily. So it doesn't really surprise her that she fell asleep.
What surprised her, is when she woke up they weren't back at the house yet. The car was on and there was heat blowing from the vents, making it nice and comfortable for her. But aside from her, the car was empty.
She rubs the sleepiness from her eyes and looks out the front windshield to see Klaus standing in front of the car with his arms crossed over his chest with a man in front of him. Both of them are bathed in the beam of the car's headlights. Caroline rubs at her eyes a bit, trying to make out the other man. He's black, shaved head and taller than Klaus, and built stronger.
It takes a moment for Caroline's sleep-addled brain to realize who he was. The picture she has of him from a distance didn't do him justice. This had to be him. Marcel Gerard. The boy that Klaus raised to a man.
Caroline looks around the street to see that it's dark. Klaus must have been taking them a backway to the house. She knows that he's been renting a room at a fancy hotel to hide their real location, so this was just probably another one of his countermeasures to ensure no one followed him. And honestly, she's kind of impressed. She never would have thought of anything like that. But once more, he's proving to her just how serious he's taking this situation. He's protecting her and their baby. He's going above and beyond what she would have expected of him.
Looking at the posture of the two men in front of her again, she can tell that they aren't outwardly hostile, but they are defensive. Both of them. If Klaus raised this guy, no doubt he knows how paranoid and unpredictable Klaus can be, and because of how paranoid Klaus is, he's not quick to trust anyone, even someone he once knew. That and Caroline and their baby being so close probably aren't helping him feel any better.
She rubs the last of the sleep from her eyes before unbuckling her belt, opening the door and standing up. She keeps the door between herself and the two men, just in case something happens. Marcel doesn't look like he's ready to fight, but she doesn't know him well enough to be certain and she's not going to take any chances.
"Klaus?" Caroline calls out softly, looking between the two.
Klaus and Marcel look over at her.
"Is everything okay?" Caroline asks. The cool air grabs at her hair, whipping it into her eyes. She quickly tucks as much as she can behind her ears.
"Everything is fine," Klaus says, shifting closer to her.
"Is he bothering you, sir?" Caroline jokes, looking over at Marcel, hoping that if he was raised by Klaus, he might have picked up his backward sense of humor.
She's rewarded with a huff from Marcel and a crooked, familiar smile, very reminiscent of Klaus's. "A little bit. You mind getting him out of my hair?"
Caroline laughs at both Marcel's playful words and the look Klaus gives her. Seeing as Klaus hasn't completely put himself between the two of them, and Marcel looks friendly enough, Caroling walks around the car door, walking over to him and holds her hand out to him. "I'll try my best. I'm Caroline. Caroline Forbes."
He takes her hand easily, dark eyes kind as he shakes it slowly. Then, his dark eyes drop to her hand, then her other, before rising back up to her own without comment, making Caroline slightly nervous as she realized what he was looking for. She wasn't wearing a daylight ring on her hand - not that she would need to with it being dark out now - but she could feel it burning against her chest from the necklace it was looped through.
Klaus shifts a bit more, lowering his hands to his side, ready to intervene should something go wrong, but Caroline passed the first test. For now, he doesn't see her as a threat. Plus, even if he did know she was a vampire. He has at least a hundred years on her. Not that he would know that, but still. She's not sure how old exactly, he is, just that if New Orleans burned down a hundred years ago, and Marcel was turned by Klaus and was alive and a full-grown adult by then, he's got at least that many years on her.
"Marcel Gerard," Marcel says easily, turning friendly eyes up toward her own. There is a weariness there. Any friend of Klaus's should be monitored closely. Caroline knows that from first-hand experience. "It's a pleasure to meet you, Ms. Forbes."
"Caroline, please." Caroline pulls her hand back and crosses her arms over her chest and leans against the front of Klaus's car, making sure she's placed herself closer to the other blond, already seeing the anxiety working its way across his face and posture.
"Then call me Marcel, Caroline." He smiles, and Caroline is certain he's charmed many people with it. It's so wide and pretty and charming and disarming. It's just one of those things that Caroline automatically notices about people - their smiles. And Marcel Gerard definitely would be in the top three for greatest smiles Caroline has seen yet.
"Will do, Marcel," Caroline says sweetly, pulling herself from her thoughts. "So, are we in trouble? Did we do something wrong?"
Marcel tilts his head slightly, turning his body a bit to include her in the conversation. "Now why would you say that? Did you do something wrong?" The question is easy, smooth, but also slightly probing.
"Nothing of the sort, I assure you, Marcellus," Klaus says, shifting his weight from one foot to the other.
Marcel holds up his hands in mock defeat. "No need to get defensive, Klaus. I was just asking. This is my town and I've got to make sure everything is running smoothly." Klaus twitches at the way he said that and Caroline is starting to get why he's having a hard time giving Marcel the credit that he deserves for his good work on New Orleans. She gets that Marcel is staking his claim for his work, but he's also making it hard for Klaus's ego to get past the blatant... um... rubbing it in, she supposes.
She's not sure anyone is really in the wrong here.
"No one's getting defensive," Caroline mediates quickly, seeing Klaus get this annoyed look on his face. She has to think quickly. "I was just worried that you and Klaus were arguing and wanted to make sure we hadn't done anything wrong."
Marcel shakes his head, looking between Caroline and Klaus. "Nope. Not as far as I know, at least. I just haven't seen my sire in a long time, and our last chat was very brief so I wanted to check in on him."
"That was sweet of you," Caroline comments. She notes the way he eyes her. She heard him say 'sire'. And she knows that he's watching her reaction, not able to get a good read on what she is. So she doesn't react beyond those words and leaves him to wonder. Either she's a human and doesn't catch the meaning of his words, or she's supernatural and not at all surprised by them.
"Too sweet," Klaus says, not appreciating the way the other man was staring at Caroling. "Although, I suggest that you keep your lackies away from me. I don't much fancy being watched as it is. I get a little antsy. I've been known to rip the spines out of strange people following me around."
Caroline and Marcel just stare at each other. Caroline's sweet smile slowly flattens out as she starts to register what she just heard. She blinks a few times as Marcel adopts this look like he wasn't sure why he expected anything different to spring from Klaus's lips. Caroline just couldn't believe it. He said the words so simply, so easily, like he was talking about the weather, that she hadn't realized what he said until she actually thought about it.
She throws him a half-hearted glare, annoyed by his words, but also keenly aware of them. Does that mean someone has been following them all night? Caroline had absolutely no idea. She didn't know, which just goes to show that Klaus really was both paying way more attention than she was, and he was doing everything he could to keep them safe. Honestly, she could have worse men as the father of her baby, but she's not sure how much better she could do in that regard.
She can understand why Marcel would have people watching them. Or specifically Klaus, but it definitely worries her that there is. Thankfully, Klaus is willing to be his loveable self and hopefully, that will take care of itself. That or Caroline's going to be seeing some spines in the near future. Breaking necks is one thing, but organs and bones that should be inside the body coming out? No thanks.
Marcel stares back at Klaus, that friendly smile sharpening a bit. "I just got to make sure that things are running smoothly in my town, Klaus. No need to get upset."
Klaus steps forward, reaching out to grab Caroline's arm. His smile is frosty back at the boy he raised and it hurts Caroline's heart to see it. "I assure you, Marcel, I am not upset. You'll know when I'm upset. From one friend to another, I'd advise that you keep your underlings out of my business."
Then, without waiting for a reply, he directs Caroline back toward the passenger's side of the car and helps her in, closing the door firmly behind her before walking around to the driver's side. As he passes Marcel, he says, loftily, "Have a good night," like he hadn't just threatened the other man and climbs into the car and switches gears before driving around the stationary man. Caroline waves a bit at the other man who tips his head a bit, dark eyes narrow as they go.
He steps closer, making Klaus stop and Caroline rolls down the window so that she can hear him. "Come out tomorrow, Caroline," Marcel says easily, looking at Klaus for a moment before turning his eyes back to her. "There's this really good gumbo served at a bar called Rousseau's. How about lunch?"
Caroline's mouth dries up in surprise as her brain tries to figure out how to say words. "Uh... really?"
"Know the place?" Marcel asks easily and Caroline honestly has no idea what he's trying to get from asking her to lunch.
"I do," Caroline admits. "Is it okay if Klaus comes? He's my escort around town. I'm afraid I'd be lost without him." Sure, she's pretty sure by now that she would be able to sort of find her way there eventually. But she would feel better - and knows that he wouldn't let her go alone even if she wanted to - if he was was there.
Marcel flashes her that award-winning smile that she's sure it melts the hearts of almost all women that cross his path. But not her, she just thinks it's an absolutely beautiful smile. "Sure," he says easily but Caroline doesn't know him well enough to know if he's bothered by her wanting Klaus there or not. She's hoping not. "Tomorrow, noon. Sound good?"
"Sounds great," Caroline says, offering a curt nod. "Have a good night, Marcel."
"Goodnight, Caroline," Marcel says smoothly, dark eyes peering into the car at his sire. "Klaus."
"Marcel." And with that, Klaus rolls up her window for her and drives off. Caroline offers a little parting wave as Marcel takes a few steps back. Caroline spares Klaus a glance that he ignores before looking into the rearview mirror to see that Marcel is gone.
Once they are out onto the street again, Caroline watches in silences as Klaus drives through main streets and then back roads. She's not sure if she's just not sure how to get back to the house from where they are and it just seems like they're going in circles, or if they really were because Klaus was shaking off someone who was following them, she's not sure, but surely he knows what he's doing, so she just keeps her mouth shut and lets them settle into the comfortable silence.
After a few minutes, Caroline asks, softly, "Has someone been following us today?"
Klaus nods. "Two vampires. Day-walkers. I noticed them once we got to the coffee shop. They've been following us ever since."
Caroline takes a moment to digest that information. She really, truly hadn't noticed. She tries to think back through the day since the coffee shop. If there were two people that she kept seeing over and over again, but no one comes to mind. She honestly wasn't keeping her eyes open for anyone, so that's probably why she didn't notice, but even if she had been paying attention... well, she's not sure she could have gone the whole day knowing that someone was following her.
And Klaus never let on that he was tracking someone - two someones - all day. It appeared as though he had given her his full, undivided attention the whole day. She's not mad, just surprised. She was fortunate to have Klaus with her. She's not sure that Marcel would have ordered anything happen to her, but she knows how witches are being treated in the Quarter and while she's not a witch herself, she is probably carrying one inside of herself. Hopefully, since no one has kicked down their door looking for Bonnie, they aren't tracking the witches, just the magic, but knowing Caroline's luck someone would have found out and she could have been in some trouble.
They sit in silence for a few more minutes as Caroline tries hard to recall anyone that she noticed as odd or caught her attention for any reason, but she honestly couldn't think of anyone. She would shudder to think of what Damon would say if he knew. Probably that she was always getting herself into trouble - second only to Elena - because she was never paying attention or some not-funny joke about her being an oblivious blond. Either way, just thinking about him annoys Caroline. She shoves thoughts of Damon away and turns to look at the side of Klaus's face.
"Not that it wasn't completely obvious or anything, but I had no idea anyone was following us today," she admits, ashamed for not being more observant. It wasn't just her life that was on the line anymore. It was the life of her baby too. She has to start paying closer attention. When someone is unwelcomingly eyeing Elena or Bonnie, Caroline can see that from a mile away. She's much more oblivious when it comes to herself. Although the answer to that might be obvious; they may have been watching Klaus, not Caroline. But still, the fact remains the same. She'll just have to be more careful in the future.
Klaus's blue eyes scan ahead of them as they pull onto the road that will eventually bring them back to the house. He blinks slowly, taking in her admittance for a moment before saying, quietly and without pulling his eyes off the road, "I know. And I didn't want you to notice. You were having fun and enjoying a day out. I didn't want them to interfere with my one chance."
Caroline stares at the side of his head, perplexed for a second by his words before they click. "Klaus, I was kidding earlier when I said this was your one and only shot."
"I know," Klaus says, and a part of her doesn't believe him because no one could know with her. Not when it comes to Klaus. "But you were having fun. I haven't seen you smile like that in a long time. And for the first time, it was for me. It wasn't for Elena, or your friends, or for Tyler. It was for me. I was making you happy. I didn't want them to ruin it."
Caroline stares at him, as the moonlight bathes half of his face in light and the other half in the dark as he turns to look at her. They stare into each other's eyes for a long moment and Caroline feels it again, twisting in her gut and not in a bad way. She can feel that chemistry, that connection again. And Caroline can't get over it. How it feels like he really does care about her. Maybe it was for the baby's sake, maybe not, she's not sure. But she does know that Klaus is beyond what she originally thought of him.
He may not have been the monster in her story, as far as she's concerned, but she never expected him to be more than an unlikely ally. She had fun today, truly, and she's happy that he'll be with her tomorrow too. She feels safe knowing that he's there. And she's felt that way long before the baby. Jelly Bean might be the linchpin that will keep them together forever, but it was their own feelings for one another that made her feel safe. Regardless of how many times she betrayed him, or used him, or hurt his feelings when she needed him, he was always there for her. No matter what.
And she is grateful.
"Thank you for taking me out today," Caroline says softly. "I really did have a lot of fun, so I appreciate it."
"I'm glad," Klaus says easily, turning his eyes back to the road. He sighs after a moment, a troubled look crossing his face. "I'm going to have to do something about Marcel."
"What?" Caroline asks, surprised. "You mean like kill him?" Klaus doesn't respond, his expression guarded. "No, Klaus, there isn't a need for that."
"There is," Klaus insists. "He knows about you. If he starts digging, he may come to learn that you're pregnant and that you're a vampire. I can't allow that to happen. Not yet. Not with the witches hovering over us like a black cloud."
Caroline's eyebrows pull together. "I don't know about you, but I'm not completely certain that the witches are in the right here. I mean, sure, they should be allowed to practice their magic, sure, but they are threatening us. They are using our unborn baby to put you at odds with the boy you raised."
Klaus offers her a quick sideways glance as they pull into the driveway and he parks the car. "What are you trying to say, Caroline?"
"I don't know," Caroline admits, just saying things as they come into her head. "But before we make any crazy decisions, let's go out tomorrow. To lunch with Marcel. Who knows, maybe if it will be inevitable that Marcel learns about me, maybe we can be the ones to tell him."
Klaus gives her an incredulous look. "You want to tell him? You just met him today, Caroline, and he's not the boy I raised. The boy I raised should have died in the burning of New Orleans a hundred years ago. I don't know this person. I don't know this Marcel. And you just want to tell him about you? About our baby?"
Caroline shakes her head. "Not entirely. Maybe just about me being pregnant. Not about the baby's real father - at least not that it belongs to you. Not yet, at least. But just that you and I are a pair. Where I go, you need to go, and if I have to stay in New Orleans, you're staying with me. At least it gives him a believable, legit reason for you to be here. Even if we say that you were friends with the father or... or knew him or... I don't know. We could tell him anything, and then later, if he proves to be trustworthy, we can tell him the truth. I don't know, Klaus. He knows about me, and eventually, he'll know about the baby. I think, if we can, we should try and use this to our advantage. Get ahead of this before it runs us down."
Klaus doesn't look convinced, but he's not downright disagreeing, so that's got to mean something. He'll have to think about it, she knows. Maybe even talk to Elijah, his confidant. Either way, they have to do something. And Caroline's not sure killing Marcel is the only way to make it through this. Especially when it's obvious to her how important Marcel is to Klaus, despite his words.
"And besides," Caroline says slowly, "Marcel is like your son, right?" Klaus shrugs his shoulders noncommittedly, which she doesn't believe for a second. Rolling her eyes, she says, "Well, in that case, he's kind of like their big brother. Jelly Bean's, I mean. Which to me means that there is another person who could love and cherish Jelly Bean."
Klaus still looks hesitant but she can see there is a part of him that wants to entertain the idea of the boy he loved helping to look after his child, but his paranoia is making it so hard. There is some much that they don't know about what's going on around them, and honestly, yes, a hundred years have passed since last they saw each other. Caroline understands that a hundred years is a long time and people change, but Caroline didn't get hte impression form him today that he was something that she couldn't trust. At least, eventually.
Perhaps tomorrow will change her perspective. For now, though, she'll leave him with her thoughts, and hopefully they can come up with a plan tomorrow.