Author's Note: And here is chapter two! Thank you all for your support so far! I really love hearing all you have to say! Let me know what you think! Enjoy!
There is freedom waiting for you,
on the breezes in the sky,
And you ask "What if I fall?"
Oh but my darling,
What if you fly?
Caroline races through the alley. The rain is pouring, wetting down her hair and clothes and making her backpack weigh like a hundred pounds. She skids to a stop, pressing her back against the brick of the building behind her. She looks both ways down the alley, straining her eyes to see if she can see any shifting shadows in the darkness, holding her breath. All she can hear is the heavy rain pelting everything in the nearby radius and a nearby car drive by. She waits a few moments, heart pounding in her chest, before finally letting out a slow, deep breath.
She outran him. The rain is covering her scent and the sound of her retreating form. She takes a moment to catch her breath before heading down the rest of the alley, keeping her head down as she steps back out on the street, trying to find her way back to civilization. Or at least more people to be able to hide amongst. At least until she can get the hell out of town.
She can't stop looking over her shoulder, but she doesn't see him again. She must have outpaced him. Which is definitely a relief.
She wraps her arms around herself. The mysterious man from last month's shirt was so warm but completely drenched makes it feel paper-thin. It's a soft henley shirt. It's odd. For how rich he was to have such a cheap shirt. What an interestingly weird guy. Aside from the fact that he was an old vampire that knew that she was a werewolf and was willing to risk sleeping with her on the night of the full moon where she is at her strongest and the probability of getting bitten by her was so unbelievably high yet he didn't even seem the least bit concerned. Which was very, very weird.
She kind wished she got his name.
Her teeth chatter together and her wet hair clings to her face. The water is cold as it sinks into her bones through her skin - which feels paper-thin. Caroline looks up, through the thong of people and stops, someone, standing in the rain stares back at her. At first, her reaction was to run, her mind telling her that it was her vampire pursuer, but when sultry full lips purse smile back at her, she recognized him immediately.
She makes her way, carefully, through the throng of people until she was in front of him. His blond hair darkened and flat against his skull. Of course, he isn't bothered by the cold rain as an undead vampire as old as time itself. She's not sure how he managed to find her, but as she stops right in front of him, staring up into his eyes and seeing his smile spread a bit more, she was happy he was there.
"Need a place to stay tonight?" He asks, offering her a sultry smile, eyebrows raised up toward his hairline.
Caroline hugs herself a bit closer, still freezing cold. She is unnecessarily close to him. He doesn't radiate a lot of heat, but any tiny bit of it warming her in this freezing cold is an absolute blessing. As if able to read her mind, he reaches out and rubs her arms in a mixture of both comforting and suggestively.
"Tonight isn't the night of a full moon," Caroline tells him, stepping closer to absorb more of his heat.
He smiles, dimples popping out. "How many days until the full moon?" He asks, but it looks like he already knows the answer.
His smile widens a little bit more. "Then I guess you'd better come to my hotel with me, don't you think, love?"
Caroline shivers harder, stepping closer still until there is less than an inch between them. "Are you really willing to put up with me for three days? A girl with nothing to her name except a heap of emotional baggage who's holding on by the skin of her teeth? A girl who talks a lot whose only redeeming quality is her great attitude and pretty smile? You're willing to deal with that for three whole days?"
He laughs, Adam's apple bobbing in his throat. "You think so lowly of yourself, darling. And so lowly of me to think personality quirks are enough to scare me away."
Since his arms were almost around her already, she steps into them, wrapping her arms around his waist and laying her head on his shoulder. He wraps his arms around her and despite the cold rain pelting them, he was nice and warm. He doesn't seem to mind her invading his space - which makes sense seeing as they spent hours last month wrapped around one another - as he rests his cheek against her forehead. His five o'clock shadow tickles her a bit, making her smile.
"I was thinking more along the lines of annoying you so much that this ends with one of us dead and the other moving on with his life as if nothing happened. And in this scenario, I'm the dead one," Caroline says, nuzzling into his chest.
A low laugh rumbles in his chest as he runs one of his hands over her soaked hair. He's so warm yet her shaking doesn't seem to bother him. Caroline pulls back for a second, wondering if she really did hear what she thought she heard. She hugs him close again, pressing her ear to his chest and closing her eyes to listen hard. She can hear a strong, even heartbeat in her ear. She can't believe she didn't notice before. And by before, she means last month. Her heart was beating off the chain that she wasn't even paying attention to his.
"I'm not going to kill you, love," the man says softly.
Caroline's not sure she believes that, but she's not going to argue with him at the moment. "I never realized that you have a heartbeat. I thought the vampire's heart doesn't beat anymore now that they are dead."
He wraps his arm around her shoulders and leads her down the street. "Well, that's because you're just a baby wolf. There is still so much you have to learn about vampires, my love."
Her "friend" is staying at the nicest hotel with the presidential suite with four rooms attached to it. So obviously he's well off with lots of old money at his disposal, so lucky him. The bathroom alone was bigger than her bedroom at her aunt's home. It was posh and marble and beautiful. The stranger just stood back, following her quietly as she admired her surroundings. She went from room to room "oooh"ing and "ahh"ing, that self-satisfying smirk never leaving the stranger's face.
Caroline, soaked to the bone, turns to her friend, leaning against the doorway of the bathroom with his arms crossed over his chest. Her smile meets his and she asks, "Do you want to shower first or me?" It was only polite to ask.
"I can't catch a cold, love," the stranger says, dimples popping out on his cheeks. "You can go first."
"Point taken," Caroline says, finally pulling her water-logged backpack from her shoulders and lowering it to the floor of the bathroom. "Thank you for letting me stay over..." She blinks, remembering that she didn't ever get his name. "I never got your name," Caroline says. She turns on the huge marble shower with multiple shower heads before turning back to look at the stranger. "What do I call you?"
"Klaus," he says. "And do I get to know your name, love?"
Caroline flushes, not sure if there is any way for her to be able to get used to being treated like this by this beautiful man. Klaus. What a wonderful name. Of course, this beautiful man would have a beautiful name to go with it. Naturally.
She walks up to him, placing her hand on his chest and pushing him out of the room past the threshold of the bathroom and reaches up to close both of the double doors. "It's nice to meet you, Klaus. I'm Caroline." She sees that haughty half-smile cross his full, pale lips before closing the door in his face.
She takes a moment to appreciate the big, beautiful bathroom before she slowly peels her clothes off her body and drops them into a pile on the floor before walking up to the shower, reaching into it to feel the temperature of the water, then adjusting it warmer and warmer until it's scalding hot. Then she steps into it, letting the hot water burn her skin. She was still cold from the rainwater and this was what she really needed to warm up. At least werewolves don't get sick easily or she would have had hypothermia by now or could expect a terrible cold tomorrow.
Thankfully, the closer to the full moon she is, the harder it is for her to get sick or maintain sickness. So at least she has that going for her.
Her skin hurts and for a few minutes she is able to bear the pain until she has to turn down the water a bit. She capitalizes on the first opportunity in too long to have an actual shower. She takes her time, appreciating that her vampire friend left his shampoo and body wash in there for her to use. Surely, not his intention but she's not going to look a gift horse in the mouth. So what if it was for men? He smelled good, which is all that matters.
Once she spent long enough in the shower, she finally turns it off and steps out, gathering up her clothes and wrapping herself up in a fluffy white towel. She picks up her bag and heads for the door. He may not get sick, but it's got to feel gross being in formerly wet clothes now significantly drier than comfortable. She opens the door and steps out.
Klaus is standing by the window talking away on the phone. He's standing over by the huge windows overlooking the bustling city. The rain is still coming down hard that the lights of the city are reflected against the darkness of the window. He turns around to the sound of her opening the door and smiles when her eyes meet his as she steps out of the nice, warm bathroom into the cold bedroom, immediately regretting her decision.
"Yes, thank you for all of your hard work so far," Klaus says, sipping from a glass he has in his other hand with a strange, dark red liquid. "We're going to have to keep in touch, mate." He hangs up the phone without a second thought and turns completely to Caroline, red lips parting more into a smile. "Hello, Caroline," he purrs her name in a way that makes her shiver. No, it's got to be the cold air. "Done showering?" He gives her an agonizingly slow once over, appreciatively.
Caroline blushes, jabbing her thumb toward the bathroom. "Go shower, old man, or we might just experience the first vampire to get a cold." She can't even look at him her face is so flushed. Hopefully, he'll just think that it's the hot water and steam that is making her cheeks so red. If she's lucky. If not, well, it is what it is.
Klaus walks slowly across the room until he stops next to her, running his finger across the line from her shoulder to her neck to push some stringy, wet hair behind her shoulder. Her skin burned hotter in that thin line from the tip of his finger than the hot water. Goosebumps appear across her skin which he no doubt sees. She feels his smile at the side of her head he wraps his hand around the other side of her face, leaning in and kissing her jaw.
"Thank you for saving me some hot water, love," he whispers in her ear before slipping past her and into the bathroom.
"Tease," Caroline grumbles, rubbing at the junction of her neck and shoulder, flushing deeply. She holds the towel a little bit closer, suddenly feeling very vulnerable in her skin.
Klaus laughs, slipping into the bathroom and closing it behind himself. Caroline shakes her head, dropping her clothes into a pile on the floor by the bed and laying her backpack down next to it. She wraps the towel more securely around herself as she hears the shower turn back on. She digs around in her back, trying to remember what hadn't been cleaned yet. She finds some clothes outside of her dirty clothes bag as she stuffs the wet clothes into there. She finds a pair of underwear and an old, worn bra that has lost all of its padding.
And she needed it.
Caroline finds a pair of discolored black leggings that are whitening at the knees. She quickly slips on the underwear, bra, and leggings then dig around for a shirt. It takes her a minute to find an honestly ratty Bon Jovi t-shirt. It's got more than a few holes in it and is probably seeing the end of its days. She fingers one of the holes at her ribs, pursing her lips before picking the towel up off the ground and drying her hair.
Caroline digs around in her bag until she finds her phone and charger. She finds a wall with an outlet and sits down on the floor and plugs it in. Her phone takes a minute before it starts to power back up again. Caroline grabs strands of her hair and smells them, her nose filling with the scent of Klaus's shampoo. It doesn't smell as good as she remembers from the last night they had together, but it does smell good.
Her phone lights up and Caroline sees she's got a missed call from her mom. She hits recall and brings the phone up to her ear, listening to the phone ring. After the fourth ring, Liz picks up. "Caroline?"
"Hi mom," Caroline says, resting the back of her head against the wall.
"Hey Caroline," Liz says. "I'm glad that you called back. How are you doing?"
"Good," Caroline responds, tucking the hair behind her ear. "Everything is good. How about you? Anything new?"
"I'm good," Liz says. "I just got off work, so your timing was perfect." Caroline can hear the sound of the radio playing softly through the phone. "And no. Nothing is new. Everything is the same as it was last week. How is Cassie? Still the same as always?"
Caroline tries to sigh as quietly as possible. She doesn't know where her aunt is or why she disappeared. A small part of her wanted to reach out to one of the only other adults in her life, but she's not sure what happens next. She doesn't know what her mother could do. If she can fake this for a while longer, until she's eighteen and able to legally live on her own, she might be able to return to her hometown and reconnect fully with her parents. But not now. She's not sure her mom and her together can hide her secret.
Liz has been content pretending like it isn't happening and Caroline isn't sure if she blames her or not. Caroline has been on both sides of the fence in this mental argument with herself. Sometimes she hates her mother for not knowing what to do. For not being able to handle this. According to Cassie, something is wrong with Liz. She has the werewolf gene - which she passed on to Caroline - but is somehow unable to trigger it. She's had to kill people in the line of duty before and for some reason, it doesn't seem to be triggered.
But at the same time, it's not her reality. She has the gene, yet it won't trigger. So she doesn't have to face it. It may never trigger for her so she can live out her life as a human. Caroline isn't sure if she's envious or not. She's not ashamed of being a werewolf, and she doesn't really hate it, but it does have some really difficult points that are hard to ignore. Like the change every full moon.
But Liz tries, despite knowing it all. She tries to be a mom and Caroline can at least appreciate that much. And a small part of Caroline will always know that if Liz knew that Cassie had vanished, she would bring Caroline home in a second and they would just have to figure it out. The problem remains to be her father. Bill wouldn't be able to understand and according to both Liz and Cassie, Bill hates the supernatural without fail and wouldn't be able to accept that his only daughter is a werewolf.
Now that's a whole can of worms that she's not ready to face. No, running is so much easier.
"Yes," Caroline says after a suspiciously long silence. "Aunt Cassie is the same as always. She's this ever constant." Caroline hates lying, she's not good at it. "Anyway, how's dad?"
"Oh," Liz says, "your father is fine. As always."
And they drop off into silence. Which is the norm. They aren't very close, despite the distance. They just don't have much to talk about.
The shower goes off in the other room, drawing Caroline back into herself. "It was nice to hear from you, mom. I've got to go. I'll talk to you again soon."
"Alright," Liz says, "I'll call again next week."
Caroline hangs up the phone before lowering it into her lap, staring down at the background of her phone. It's a generic background of a really pretty flower she doesn't know the name of that she saw at a rest stop while she was waiting for the next bus. It was really pretty and it's probably a weed and not a flower but she doesn't care to know that.
It was pretty and for a moment it helped alleviate some of her loneliness. It's stupid. A little blue flower making her feel better. It's a pretty color.
Caroline jumps, looking up to see Klaus standing over her with a wrapped around his hips. His hair is dark and pressed against his skull and water droplets running down his chest, back, and arms. He's like the picturesque beauty from magazines that Caroline remembers drooling over in the line in the grocery store. He was nicely tone, not sculpted like a bodybuilder, but with lithe muscles lining his arms and legs and stomach. He was fit and strong. He's beautiful.
She blinks a few times, dragging her eyes away from his chest and up to his eyes. She expected a smug look for catching her oogle over him, but his eyes are still on the picture, long dark lashes brushing his cheeks every time he blinks.
"What?" Caroline asks, eyebrows pulling together.
"The flower," he says, nodding his head toward her phone. "The flower is Forget-Me-Not."
Caroline's eyebrows pull toward her hairline in surprise. At least it's an actual flower and not a weed as she feared it was going to be. At least she's not a complete fool. "I didn't know," Caroline admits. "I didn't know if it was a weed or a flower. Happy to know it was the latter one. I don't feel as insane about taking a picture of it now."
"It's a pretty flower," Klaus agrees before turning away and walking toward the chest on the other side of the room to dig out some clothes. He launched into the history of the flower but Caroline stopped listening when he dropped his towel and started changing into new clothes. She had to busy herself with her phone to stop herself from oogling him more. Even though he's not necessarily being modest about it all, but it's disrespectful to look at him like that. They may have a very weird relationship, but he doesn't deserve to be looked at like that.
"Klaus," Caroline says softly, staring at the Forget-Me-Not appreciatively. Anything to ignore the pale back pointed in her direction, the knots of his spine popping out as he pulls on some dark sleep pants. He ties the pants and turns around to look at her.
Caroline lays her phone down on the ground and pushes herself up onto her feet, walking over to the shirtless, ancient vampire. "What are you doing out here?"
"Business," Klaus says, easily, admiring her attire. He reaches out and pokes his finger into the hole at her ribs. She giggles, pushing his hand away, which makes him smile faintly. "I spend a great deal of time cultivating my network and in order to do that, I travel a lot. I haven't really found a home base I really like. Not since... well, it's been a few years."
"So you're just here on business. You didn't follow me?" Caroline asks, slapping his hand when he reached out to poke the hole in her shirt again. "Knock it off, you full-grown man-child."
Klaus's smile widens a bit. "No, darling. As much as I would love to galavant the countryside looking for a beautiful little wolf, I have much more pressing matters to attend to." He locks eyes with her, melting her with his gaze alone. He makes her feel strange. The only person who she's felt a connection to in a long time. He's the first person that she's spent more than a single night with. Even now she can imagine staying with him comfortably for the next few days. Not forever, no, but having a constant companion for a little while will be nice.
"You think I'm beautiful?" Caroline asks softly. No one has ever said that to her outside the thralls of passion. That's the sort of thing that people say when they are wrapped around one another. "It's not just platitudes because we slept together, right? As a person, you think I'm pretty?"
Klaus smiles. "Of course, love. As a man that appreciates wonderful works of art and has seen many in his long life, I can say honestly, that you are beautiful. Has no one ever told you?"
Caroline rolls her head at his question, taking it as patronizing. "I'm not fishing for compliments. I just wanted to know if you meant it or if it was just something you said because we slept together last month and you felt you had to say it."
Klaus frowns, studying her face closely in the dim light of the lamps on either side of the bed. He can see well because of his vampirism and Caroline's lycanthropy allows her great sight as well. She has to wonder which is better. Or if they are both the same and it's just a matter of the person if their sight is any better or worse than the next person.
She forces the thoughts away, they're needlessly distracting.
"You think that my word means so little that I would say empty words to any girl who caught my fancy?"
Caroline gives him a look. "You're an old vampire and last month definitely wasn't your first time and if it was, well, I'm impressed," Caroline blabs, then notes his wolfish smile start to spread again and quickly moves on, "but I don't know you. We had a twenty-minute conversation, a lot of sex until I began my transformation and had to practically fall out of your arms." Caroline sighs, rubbing at her forehead. "What I mean to say... is thank you."
Klaus's eyebrows pull together tightly, confusion written across his face. "For what, love?"
Caroline looks down at her hands, trying to decide how to say this.
"Klaus, I don't know what this is. I don't know if this is a fleeting feeling because you like to take a walk on the dangerous side dealing with a werewolf closing in on the full moon, if you don't care about your life, or whatever third reason there might be. I don't know if you're helping me because you are genuinely interested in me, even if momentary, or if that night meant enough for you to want to help me still... or... what? And I don't know if your kindness comes at a price, or if you're doing it to mess with me or if you just want to use me to pass the time or whatever," Caroline rambles. She looks up to see Klaus staring at her with this unreadable look across his face.
Caroline runs her hands through her hair, trying to figure out how to speak like a normal person. She's saying words but not what she's trying to say. She reaches out and grabs onto his hands. She's not sure if it's the hot shower, or the fresh blood he drank before going into the bathroom, she's not sure, but his hands are really warm. He doesn't shrug off her hands in his, which is nice.
"I guess, what I'm trying to say is that I'm thankful for this moment. No matter what the reason is that you're doing this, fleeting passion, interest or whatever, I wanted to thank you. Even if you just up and vanish in the night, or we get into a fight and you kick me out tomorrow morning, I want to thank you for tonight." Her eyes lock with his, hoping that it proves the sincerity in her words. "Thank you for not leaving me out in the rain. Thank you for being kind to me when you really don't have to be. Thank you."
He swallows, Adam's apple bobbing in his throat. His lips twitch a bit as he processes what she said. She can't tell what he's thinking just by looking at his face, but she knew she had to tell him. He needs to know how much she appreciated being offered a place to stay for the night. Despite whatever happens tomorrow, today still ended on a high note.
Caroline laughs when she realized that he wasn't sure what to say. Somehow her words made him short circuit for a moment as he tries to figure out how to put his thoughts into words. Something tells her that people don't thank him quite as she did. And it makes her feel bad. She doesn't know much in the case of his personality, seeing as they really just met, but she didn't get this far on the road without learning how to read people. There is a deep sadness in his eyes from many years of suffering Caroline can't even begin to understand but it's heartbreaking that a single thank you is enough to baffle him. It hurts her heart.
She's got some issues, admittedly, but something tells her they pale in comparison to the demons that stalk him every hour on the hour. And she has to wonder how long he has bared this burden in humbled silence.
"Shh," Caroline says, shaking her head slowly when he opens his mouth. "You don't have to say anything. I'm not fishing for compliments or for pity. I'm just thankful and wanted you to know that. You don't have to justify anything or explain it one way or another." Her eyes meet his and she smiles softly. She squeezes his hands, giggling when he purses his lips.
"I have to say, Caroline, it's not often that I am left unable to find my words, but this is one of those times," he says, voice low. He offers a pursed lipped smile. "Very well. I will hold my tongue if that's what you want. But I assure you, there won't be a need for you to search for someone else to live tomorrow. You can stay."
Caroline rolls her eyes, not sure if he's placating her or not. "Right, thanks." Her stomach growls, making her flush and pull her hands away from his.
"Hungry?" He asks, grinning.
"Yes," Caroline admits, turning toward the bed. "But I'm more tired than anything." She looks down at the bedside table at the clock to see that it's almost ten-thirty and while her stomach is growling, she can only think about sleeping. "I'll eat tomorrow. I just want to sleep tonight on something that isn't a park bench."
"Are you sure?" Klaus asks, pulling on a simple white t-shirt. "It's not too late."
"It is for me," Caroline says. "I need to sleep more than food. Comfortable sleep, I mean."
Klaus gestures to the bed. "Very well, then, darling. Get some sleep."
"On the bed?" Caroline echoes. "What about you?"
Klaus shrugs his shoulders. "It's a king, Caroline. It's big enough to fit both of us."
Caroline rolls her eyes. "Very funny. You take the bed, your flipping the bill for all of this, and I'll sleep on that big, fluffy couch out there. Thank you for the offer, but it's your bed and I'm okay with going out there, so thank you again."
Klaus smiles, dimples popping out of his cheeks as she stuffs her dirty clothes into their bag and scooting it into the corner. She then walks over to her phone and charger and rips it from the wall and heads for the door. She stops, turning to look back at Klaus, who was still smiling that beautifully infuriating smile. She blows him a kiss and a wink before stepping out.
"Goodnight, old man."
"Goodnight, beautiful," Klaus calls back, a little laugh in his voice.
Caroline shuts the door with a smile on her face, and a flush on her cheeks.