Author's Note: Hello, my loves! I know it's been a really long time. I've been going through a really bad bout of writers block with all of my stories, so I've been slowly plucking away at all kinds of chapters trying to get one done. I really am sorry for the long wait, although I appreciate everyone's kind words, they really do mean a lot. I'm happy to hear from all of you. I'm kind of iffy about this chapter but I do hope that you guys enjoy it, nevertheless!
They weave through the streets of New Orleans with ease. Without needing to be told, Caroline sticks close to Klaus, keeping her head on a swivel to watch for any vampires that may be following them at Marcel's behest. She's never been great at stuff like that, but she wasn't able to notice anyone out of the ordinary that caught her attention, but she was so preoccupied looking around that she didn't notice Klaus kept having to stop to wait for her to catch up until he finally grabbed onto her hand and looped it through his arm to keep her close.
"Sorry," Caroline mumbles, before looking around again. She grabs the inside of his elbow tightly eyes scanning the crowd of faces.
"You're making it very obvious that you're looking for them with the way your head is spinning around like it's on a swivel, darling," Klaus says evenly, patting her hand a bit, while his eyes were set straight ahead. Caroline shoots him a look.
"Seriously?" Caroline grumbles. "I'm trying to be more aware, you know? Make sure the bad guys don't get the jump on us?"
Caroline glares at the amused look that Klaus shoots her. She rolls her eyes and looks around again as he says, "I think it's brilliant that you are willing to put your safety as a priority, but perhaps you are being a bit too obvious. Maybe you want Marcel's followers to know that you know that they are following us."
He sounded so amused, so playful, that it took a second too long for Caroline to really think about what he said. She casts him a sharp look with her eyebrows pulled together. "Wait! Is someone really following us right now?" Klaus gives her a look, like he's trying to decide if she's serious or not, which makes Caroline groan in exasperation. "There really is someone following us! I knew it. Who? Where are they?"
Klaus shakes his head, amused. He pats her hand again, saying, "Look over your shoulder, at the stall selling the cheap jewelry on the left. The chap with the unfortunate haircut and the tall fellow has been following us for the last few minutes. I'll need to remind Marcel of my warning."
Caroline casts him a sideways glance, not immediately remembering the warning, but when she does, she scoffs and rolls her eyes. She does grip his arm tighter just in case he decides to do good on that threat. She's not interested in seeing any spines today. Or any day, preferably. "Please don't."
Klaus sends her a look that she doesn't appreciate. "I have to ensure that my enemies know that they have to take me seriously."
Caroline rolls her eyes as she tightens her grip on Klaus's arm, moreso now to keep him from running off to do just that instead of just trying to be close to him. Okay, maybe a small part of her - the part of her that drew her into sleeping with Klaus in the first place - was still very attached to him. Her perception of him has really changed these last few weeks. To be honest, while she can remember why she didn't like him to begin with and what stopped her from letting herself get attached to him, she can't help but... she's really starting to like him. Like really like him.
Wait... was she falling for her baby daddy?
No, no way! That is way too cliche!
Caroline shakes her head, ignoring the curious look that Klaus sends her, as she forces the thought from her mind. She's pregnant and hormonal, she's going through a phase that probably has everything to do with the fact that she's pregnant with a supernatural werewolf-witch baby. She's bonded to Klaus, her werewolf-witch baby probably makes her want to be with him. Yeah, that's got to be it.
Something connected to Jelly Bean, and it's magic. That's got to be it. It has to be.
Once they get to Rousseau's, Klaus holds the door open for Caroline, which she thanks him for, before walking over to one of the open tables away from everyone else, figuring that a conversation of this caliber needed some privacy. Thankfully Klaus didn't say anything and just followed her over to the table, making sure to sit down next to her.
Caroline was okay for a while this morning, but now that they're here, at Rousseau's, she's starting to feel a bit nervous. She's not really sure what all she's going to say to Marcel, she just hopes that he's just going to ask her what is going on and she can be forthright. At least, as forthright as she can be, given the situation. She's still not ready to hop onto the 'We hate Marcel Gerard for reasons' train. She's not sure she's seen enough of him to think that he was as bad as everyone seems to think he is.
Despite all of that, she's still worried about how this is going to go. Why can't anything ever be easy for them?
Thankfully, Caroline didn't have to sit around fretting for long. Marcel lowers down in the seat in front of them not ten seconds after they did. Caroline blinks, feeling herself lean back and a bit closer to Klaus subconsciously. She's still not ready to jump onto the "Hate Marcel" bandwagon, but that doesn't mean she isn't going to be careful being around him. Especially since she doesn't know him and doesn't trust him. Yet.
"Good morning," Caroline says, amicably, forcing herself to relax. This is supposed to be friendly. Supposed to be.
Marcel's dark eyes flicker between her and Klause before he leans back in his seat, falling into a completely comfortable pose before flashing them a brilliant, beautiful smile that catches Caroline off guard again. Once more, he probably slays with that smile on the daily.
"Good morning, Caroline," he says with a lilt to his voice before his eyes flicker to the hybrid sitting next to her, "Klaus."
"Marcellus," Klaus greets, smiling back threateningly. Almost like bearing his teeth without actually bearing his teeth. Caroline glares hard at the side of his head until he backs off. Klaus leans back in his seat but lifts up one arm and draping it across the back of Caroline's chair. Whether it was a protective, possessive or unconscious action, Caroline's not sure, but she's not overly impressed with the macho, alpha male energy she's getting from these two. They are both trying to one-up each other and honestly, it's kind of annoying.
She shoves the feeling away to focus on the dark-skinned vampire in front of her, forcing her voice pleasant despite the maelstrom of emotions starting to whirl around inside of her. "Okay guys, I like a good testosterone-fueled verbal sparring match as much as the next girl, but I'm definitely gonna need a lot of mental prep if I'm going to sit through an hour of this."
Klaus sends her a look while Marcel flashes another thousand-watt smile her way. "I'm sorry about that." He slouches a bit, comfortably. "So, tell me about yourself, Caroline."
Caroline blinks, taking the fastest second she can to collect herself before opening her mouth, not entirely sure on what she's going to say when someone cuts her off before a sound can pass her lips, "Oh, hi. It's you again." Mouth hanging open, Caroline turns to see the person who stepped up next to them to see the bartender from the last time she was there.
It takes Caroline almost three entire seconds for the fellow blonde's name to come to her. "Oh, Cami, right? Hi! It's been a minute."
Cami nods, offering a genuine smile. "It has. It's nice to see you again, Caroline."
"Oh," Caroline gasps, eyes widening. "You remembered my name. I'd have thought a popular bar like this would get a lot of people. I can't believe you remembered me."
"Considering you paid an almost three hundred percent tip the last time I saw you, remembering your name was the least that I could do," Cami laughs, rolling her eyes.
Caroline flushes. "Well, don't say it like that. I only paid twenty bucks, but I was worried that the gumbo was going to be hella expensive and the tip wouldn't be good, but I'm glad to hear otherwise."
"Well, I appreciate it nonetheless," Cami admits, crossing her arms over her chest. "So, what can I get you guys?"
"I'll have your finest bourbon," Klaus says, smiling coyly, trying hard not to be aggressive. Not towards Cami, Caroline doesn't think, probably to Marcel and it's bleeding into his interactions with others. And honestly, Caroline can't seem to figure out what is going on with him. She knows that he's worried, and he's paranoid enough for the both of them, but this honestly feels borderline over obsessive. Maybe Caroline isn't seeing the finer points to this.
"Same here," Marcel says, as both gentlemen pull out their wallets with their ID's rather than use compulsion.
Cami nods, looking down at Caroline. "Are you old enough to drink?"
Caroline's face scrunches up, knowing that she's going to be stuck in a seventeen-year-old's body for the rest of her immortal life and have perpetual babyface. Once she can drink again, she's going to be carded forever. Well, she supposed there are worse things to deal with in the world. She's basically complaining about nothing. Woah, one day, her own child is going to look older than her. Holy cow.
"Uh," Caroline mumbles, shaking her head to pull from her reverie. "No, I'm not. I'm eighteen."
Cami nods. "Okay, anything else I can get you? Sweet tea? Water? Soda, maybe?"
Caroline shakes her head. "Oh no, no soda, please. Just water, thank you," Caroline says, rubbing at her stomach. She's not sure what it is, but soda has been upsetting her stomach a lot. Not that she was much of a soda drinker anyway, but something to break up the monotony every once and while doesn't hurt. But since getting pregnant, she would throw up after drinking it. Well, a lot of thinks make her throw up, but soda is almost immediate. At least the brown drinks haven't been going down gracefully.
Caroline can see Marcel staring at her curiously, while Klaus rubs at her back slowly, staring at the side of her face. She turns to look into his eyes as Cami walks away and she doesn't need to be a mind reader to know what he's thinking. He's worried about her. He's probably thinking that she should have gotten some blood in her before they left, and honestly, he's right. She can feel the scratchy feeling in the back of her throat. She had some blood yesterday, but then they went out dancing and wandering around and now she needs more.
Well, not at this moment. She can go a few more hours before it becomes unbearable, she thinks. Besides, she's been through worse.
She clears her throat and casts Klaus a sideways look, appreciating the comfort that he's offering by rubbing her back. She's so glad that he's there with her right now.
"Are you alright?" Marcel asks, narrowing his eyes slightly, looking between them.
"Perhaps we should do this another time," Klaus says, frowning, looking ready to grab onto Caroline's arm and pull her to her feet.
"No," Caroline says, shaking her head. "I'm fine," she says looking between both men before settling her eyes on Marcel. "You're weary of the big bad Klaus Mikaelson being here, I get it. I'll answer your questions, okay?"
Marcel looks into Caroline's eyes, studying her closely. His dark eyes staring into her own and then she saw the slow expanding of his irises. He doesn't say anything, though. He's not exactly using compulsion but she has the feeling that he's trying really hard to figure her out.
"I wouldn't even consider compulsion if I were you, Marcellus," Klaus growls, the hand that was rubbing her back slides down to her waist. "Compulsion won't work on her."
Dark eyes flash, both in surprise, as Caroline is once again sure he wasn't going to use compulsion, and in curiosity. "I wasn't..." His eyebrows pull together, still studying Caroline's face, trying to figure out why it is that compulsion won't work on her.
Caroline figured Klaus probably had an idea about why it wouldn't work on her - because obviously saying that Caroline was a vampire was a hundred percent not what they were going to do - but Caroline felt Marcel's dark eyes burrowing through her and she definitely panicked. Before she could even think about what she was saying, she hears herself blurt out, "I'm pregnant!"
Klaus frowns at the side of her head, no doubt vowing never to trust her in a high-tense situation ever again. Marcel was staring at her like he knew that there was something going on but this definitely wasn't it. And Cami stood frozen for a long moment at the head of the table, a trey with their drinks in her hand, staring at them with wide eyes, wondering what she just walked into. She looks between them, trying to decide how to give them their drinks without actually physically moving any closer and risk entering into the conversation.
"I'm..." Caroline looks between everyone. "I'm so sorry. That just kind of slipped out." She turns to stare into Klaus's angry eyes. "I just went rogue, I am so sorry."
Klaus sucks in a deep breath, blinking slowly while looking at her through long dark lashes. Oh yeah, she's in trouble. "Yes, we'll have to have a chat about all of this sometime later."
"Don't get mad at me," Caroline snaps, half angry because of his tone, half angry at herself for panicking. "Oh come on, I told you I'm terrible at lying. It's safer to just tell the truth. I'm sure he'll understand."
Klaus glowers at her, lips pulling into a tight line as he takes the bourbon that Cami quietly passes over to him and drowns it down in one quick motion before laying the glass down and doing a half-hearted motion for another one, all without taking his eyes off of Caroline. She shrinks under his gaze but has to look away toward the bartender laying down her glass of water. "Thank you, Cami."
Cami offers a little smile, still, obviously, a little caught off guard. She recovers quickly now that Caroline has addressed him. "You're welcome. And congratulations."
Caroline stares at her, paralyzed. For a long moment, she couldn't remember if anyone has ever said that to her since learning about her little jelly bean. Maybe they have and she just isn't able to recall right away if anyone has ever said that to her. And while she's been holding on to this wonderful love for the little life growing inside of her, she was never able to even accept someone else's congratulations. Because she accepted that she would never get to be a mom, she didn't expect that anyone would be able to congratulate her on the happiest moment of her life. But she is. She is going to be a mom, and with all the madness going around, she doesn't blame everyone for not saying it.
But hearing those words made Caroline choke back a sob, feeling her chest tighten as she struggles to regain control of herself. Thankfully her eyes only watered up before she was able to blink them away. "Thank you," Caroline says softly, relief washing over her. "Thank you for saying that, Cami."
Keenly, Cami seems to see how that affected Caroline, so she says again, softly, "Congratulations on your baby, Caroline."
Caroline laughs lightly, smiling brightly, finally feeling that joy. "Thank you. I definitely needed to hear that."
Cami nods, eyes crinkling kindly with her smile. "You're welcome." Then she turns her attention to the table. "Another drink for the two of you gentlemen? And what about food?"
"I think I'll just take another drink, as will my friend here," Marcel says smoothly, dark eyes slightly wider than normal. "Caroline?"
Caroline shakes her head. She's hungry, definitely, but not for anything that Rousseau's can provide. Well, technically it can, but it's not on the menu. And Caroline isn't hungry enough to forsaken not drinking from humans. She'll just have to hold off until they get home later. Or, she can convince Klaus to drive them back home so that she can get a blood bag in her before they go about the rest of their day.
"I'm okay for now, thank you."
Cami nods before turning around and heading back to the bar to get Marcel and Klaus another drink.
"Congratulations," Marcel says, finally overcoming his surprise.
"Thank you," the baby vampire says softly. Caroline relishes in the warm feeling of congratulations for a moment longer before turning around completely in her chair to cup Klaus's face. His lips are pressed tightly together as his jaw is set, staring at her through long lashes. There is a maelstrom of emotions swirling in his eyes as he struggles not to start yelling, which Caroline definitely appreciates.
"Breathe," Caroline says slowly, staring into his eyes. "I know you're mad right now, but you need to breathe. You're kind of freaking me out."
"We will have to talk about your inability to keep a secret when we get out of here, I think," Klaus growls.
"Come on now, Klaus. She wants to tell me the truth, there isn't anything wrong with that," Marcel says, leaning forward while interlacing his fingers together. "What's the big deal with all of this. Especially if you're not here to cause problems."
Klaus turns dark, angry eyes toward Marcel, lips pressed so tightly together Caroline is afraid his jaw is going to fuse together. Caroline turns to look at Marcel, releasing Klaus's face, but grabbing onto his hand under the table. She definitely couldn't hold him back if he really wanted to fight, but she's hoping that the little circles her thumb is rubbing into the back of his hand will help to calm him down a little bit.
"You'll have to forgive Klaus," Caroline says. "He's a bit over-protective of me."
Marcel's face falls neutral aside from the way he presses his lips together, very much like how Klaus does. Caroline has to wonder who picked up the trait from whom.
"I'm starting to see that," Marcel admits.
"Caroline's family is cursed," Klaus says, finally reigning in his anger and annoyance to work with what Caroline has given him. Marcel looks over at him, curiously. His guard is obviously up, but he is open to at least hearing what Klaus has to say. "The women of her father's family have a difficult time carrying children, it seems. So a few generations ago, one of the women came to New Orleans to visit the witches for a way to help them carry children."
Carefully, Caroline uses her free hand to hold up the red gem around her neck for Marcel to see. "This is what they gave her."
Marcel looks at it curiously. "And what does that do?"
"It filters the energy of the mother into the baby to help it survive," Klaus says easily, his imaginary hackles finally lowering as he seems to get control of the conversation. Caroline can see his mind working through this story carefully. Despite that, though, his words are flippant, easy, like they are talking about the weather. "Because not only is Caroline pregnant but her own physical energy is being siphoned into the baby in her womb, she is far frailer than before. I'm not interested in broadcasting her weakness for all to see."
Caroline frowns at that a bit, not liking being considered frail. Technically, she was, but this was only temporary. She's going to be strong enough to protect her baby from everyone in this world, including but not limited to, these scheming New Orleans witches. But if it was going to buy them a bit more time, than she was going to just let Klaus say what he wanted. For now.
"Why would anyone care about some young pregnant girl?" Marcel asks, eyebrows pulling together, leaning close. He nods his thanks when Cami drops off another glass for them before going to see to other customers that came in. He gives Caroline an apologetic look. "No offense."
"None taken," Caroline mumbles as she shrugs. Normally it wouldn't really be all that important. It's just who the baby's father is and the fact that, oh yeah, she's a vampire who shouldn't be able to have children. But he doesn't need to know that. At least not yet. She's still not getting any overly bad signs from Marcel. He doesn't seem like a bad guy. Wary, cautious, but not bad.
"She's important to me," Klaus says lightly like they were still talking about the weather before breezing past what he said with, "and up until now the woman of her family has been having human babies. Their human mothers were able to share enough power to keep them alive. Caroline's baby is stronger than she is, hence we needed to come to New Orleans to strengthen the necklace."
Marcel takes a quick drink of his bourbon before pushing the class away and lacing his fingers together on the table. "And so you came to the witches for help, did you?"
"Fancy little leash you've got on them, Marcellus," Klaus says, grinning in a way that wasn't friendly. "And no, we didn't come for the witch's help. Caroline didn't know that she was pregnant, they had to be the ones to tell her."
Marcel frowns, looking around the room for a moment, making sure that no one was paying any attention to them, while he collects his thoughts. Then, he looks back over at Caroline. "And are you okay?"
The question, and the sincerity behind it, catch her off guard. "I... I'm okay," Caroline admits. "I never thought kids were in the cards for me. Needless to say, I was surprised. But because my baby is stronger than me, I am not able to carry it to term without being here in New Orleans."
Marcel nods slowly, digesting this information. "And the witches, what did they want in return for telling you this information?"
'Nothing,' was the word that was forming on Caroline's lips when Klaus cuts her off with a surprising, "They want me to distract you."
Marcel's dark eyes find his sire, studying him closely. "Is that so?"
"Yes," Klaus says darkly, leaning closer to his one-time son with equally dark eyes. "And that fancy leash that you've got on the witches is going to need a bit tightening if you ask me.
Marcel's eye twitches. "Noted. And so, that's what you're here for? To distract me? You've definitely lost your touch, Klaus, if you think you can throw me off my game simply by telling me your winning strategy."
Klaus doesn't respond right away, still looking into Marcel's eyes. Caroline can see that he's warring inside over something. Marcel, no doubt, sees it too as he opens his mouth, about to add something when he registers that look and decides to give him a moment to figure out what he wants to say. After a few baited seconds, Klaus says, quietly, "All this time I've been arguing with Caroline about what we should do, and this entire time she's been telling me that I have to be honest with you. We aren't the same people we were the day of the fire and while I'm still not sure about everything that happened, Caroline believes that I need to at least remember what I felt back then, before Mikael burned New Orleans to the ground, chasing my siblings and myself away."
Marcel definitely looks like that wasn't where he was expecting this to go. He blinks a few times, trying to wrap his mind around what was just said before staring at the ancient hybrid in front of him. "And..?"
"Perhaps I've been overly hostile, given the situation..." Klaus concedes. "But you have to understand, Marcellus, I thought that you were dead, and you gave me no reason to think otherwise. I didn't even know you were alive when Caroline and I came to New Orleans, some witches had to tell me. Do you know how that made me feel? The boy I raised like my own son? Alive and well after years of me thinking that he was dead?"
His words were angry, but also vulnerable. Caroline could tell that this wasn't easy for him. She can see that still, despite what he'd been saying leading up to this day, there was a part of Klaus, a big part of him, that simply missed the boy he raised. His words now, his expression, show her that mask that he's been wearing is starting to slip a bit. Marcel being alive is a good thing, but the fact that he never told Klaus he was is hurting him. Hurting him bad. It feels like a betrayal, and Klaus doesn't handle betrayal well.
Thankfully it's manifesting itself as mistrust and pain and not as screaming and bloodshed. So, silver lining, Caroline guesses.
Marcel nods slowly, remorse written across his face as he considers his words carefully. "I'm sorry, Klaus. I wish I could take it all back, but I can't. By the time the literal smoke cleared from New Orleans, you and your siblings were gone and I had a city to rebuild. I'm sorry that it got so bad. There is nothing I wouldn't give to change things, but I can't."
"That doesn't mean that you two can't talk it out like reasonable adults, or you guys could just start anew," Caroline offers. She raises her eyebrows, looking between the two men.
Marcel looks away for a moment, honestly considering it before he blinks a few times and casting Klaus a look. "Wait, are you distracting me, right now?"
Caroline groans, rubbing at her face. "No! Oh my gosh, I don't know why you guys are always so paranoid about everything, but it has honestly got to be exhausting. I have no idea how you can just keep going. I'm tired just listening to the two of you."
Marcel shrugs his shoulders. "I'm sorry, it's not an unreasonable question."
No, honestly it wasn't, considering that it was what Klaus said. "No, Marcel," Klaus stresses, giving him a look. "If I was going to distract you for the witches, I would definitely be more creative about it. No, this..." He sighs. "The witches plan to use me to distract you and I have no interest in being anyone's pawn in the game of New Orleans, let alone some witches that are threatening the girl I fancy and my... her unborn baby."
Marcel's eyes sharpen as he looks over at Caroline. "The witches are threatening you?"
Caroline looks away, nodding. Thankfully it was the truth, and Caroline is happy that Klaus is willing to be forthright with the man he raised, but she knows that it is also, in part because Klaus is probably going to be using Marcel - which is kind of sad. But she could be wrong and maybe this is the beginning of their reunion and reconciliation. Who knows?
"The spell you killed Jane-Ann Deveraux for?" Klaus says, drawing Marcel's dark eyes back over to him.
"Yeah..?" Marcel probes, leaning in closer. Caroline looks over at Klaus, knowing that he's no doubt planning something but she's not sure she knows what he's planning, but she really does hope that at the end of this, there can be peace. Caroline does really like the idea of them all getting along and Jelly Bean having just one more person to love it.
"It was to link Caroline to one of the witches here in New Orleans."