TRAIN CAR: LEAVING MYSTIC FALLS
Klaus watched Caroline stare out the window of the train as they made their way to New York. The journey would take about six hours. Normally the train was a bit slower due to stops but Elijah had seen to it that the journey was uninterrupted. Klaus could see the town and the woods of Mystic Falls out the window but that wasn’t where his gaze was focused. He stared instead at the woman who had agreed to leave everything she knew to follow him. There were times he couldn’t believe she had said yes. Actually, in moments when he was completely honest with himself, he usually couldn’t believe it.
He marveled for a moment at how different Caroline was from his sister. When he had first met Caroline, she and Rebekah had seemed somewhat alike. Both used to getting their way, with a taste for life’s shallower pursuits. He had assumed that was all there was to Caroline, though he knew there was more to his sister. As it turned out, Klaus had learned just what a great misconception that was. Caroline’s love and generosity went far deeper than anyone realized. He had been intrigued by her through just that, but it was the moment in her bedroom that he fell in love with her.
Klaus still remembered that moment. His sole intent had been to bring the Sheriff around to his side. Keep the Salvatores from having all the allies in town. Even when he had first walked in on Caroline and seen the look of disgust, mingled with a hint of fear in her eyes, he hadn’t thought too much of her. Then she had looked him in the eye and said calmly, with complete resignation, that she was dying. Klaus knew what Caroline meant. She had been dying, in her mind, since the day Katherine turned her. The last few months had simply been putting off the inevitable.
His heart had broken for her. To think that her life was over, that she couldn’t be whoever she wanted to be. He had felt that once or twice over the years. That his existence was merely pushing away a death that had already happened. But there had been a light in her eyes too. Caroline wanted to fight for more; the problem was that no one had told her she was allowed to do so. And that had been the moment he fell in love with her. When he knew that he could show her how to fight, and gain, everything her heart desired.
“Are you regretting your decision, love?” he asked now.
Caroline turned from the window and smiled, while wiping a few tears from her eyes. “I’m just a little sad. It’s not easy to leave everything I know behind.”
Klaus reached across the space between the seats and took Caroline’s hand in his. “You know you can visit anytime you like.”
“Can I though?” asked Caroline. “I doubt it. It’s different now Klaus. My friends may love me and wish me well, but they don’t understand how I could choose you.” She kept hold of his hand but turned to look out the window again before continuing. “This wasn’t like choosing a college. I chose a new life for myself. That makes it very hard to go back to the old one.”
Klaus pulled his hand away from Caroline. He wanted to understand what she was saying but mostly felt very hurt. “Why bother then? I’ll have the train stopped and you can go back home where you’ll be happy.”
Caroline looked at Klaus in shock. He scowled, not wanting Caroline to know how scared he was that she’d do just that. No matter how much he loved her, it was hard to believe that she wouldn’t run away from him if given half a chance. As he sat there, attempting to be stoic, Caroline moved across the aisle. She reached out, putting a hand on either side of his face.
“My darling,” she said firmly, emphasizing the “my”, “I regret nothing about my decision.”
“But…,” interrupted Klaus.
“But nothing,” retorted Caroline. “Choosing you was the easiest decision I’ve ever made. Leaving my home is difficult yes. Leaving you is unthinkable.”
She leaned forward and kissed him gently. “I’ll keep telling you that and showing you how much I care for as long as it takes you to figure it out.”
Klaus responded by pulling Caroline closer and deepening their kiss. Her mouth opened slightly as she let out a soft moan, falling into the seat with Klaus.
“Really?” drawled Kol, standing lazily in the doorway.
Caroline leaped off Klaus with a jolt as Klaus glared at his younger brother. “You have the worst timing,” spat out the hybrid.
“I rather like my timing,” laughed Kol.
Caroline ran her fingers through her hair and sat stiffly next to Klaus as Kol seated himself across from them. Klaus wrapped an arm around Caroline and pulled her close.
“What do you want, Kol?” asked Klaus of his brother.
“Nothing at all, Niklaus. Just wanted to see how you and Caroline are doing.” Kol poured himself a drink from a bottle of scotch on the table by the door and resumed his seat. “Making sure everyone’s getting along.”
“We were doing just fine,” said Caroline, having recovered from Kol’s untimely entrance.
“Well then by all means,” laughed Kol, “Carry on.”
Rebekah walked in at that moment and sat down next to Caroline, who looked at her in shock. Rebekah normally kept a safe distance. Klaus too was a bit nonplussed by his sister’s seating choice.
Rebekah recognized the meaning behind their expressions instantly. “Oh good grief, I’m not going to bite you, Caroline. I can be civil sometimes.”
Caroline and Klaus both tried miserably to hide their smiles. Klaus chose to speak first. “I’m surprised you even came in to visit with us.”
“Oh that,” answered Rebekah. “Elijah sent Kol and me down here. He says we need to have a talk, catch Caroline up on how this will all work.”
“And you didn’t think to say that when you walked in?” asked Caroline of Kol.
Kol’s mouth turned up in a Cheshire cat grin. “I was distracted.”
Klaus rolled his eyes. “You’re such an ass.” He kicked his brother in the shin before turning to kiss Caroline on the cheek. Kol jumped up to hit Klaus back without noticing Elijah had entered the train car. Elijah grabbed Kol’s arm and held him in midair.
“Kol, sit down and behave.” Elijah didn’t wait for his youngest brother to listen; he simply dropped him in the seat and sat down beside him, to insure he didn’t move.
Klaus could tell Caroline was out of place with the sibling antics. Not having siblings of her own, she felt left out when they bantered. Though it must also be considered that Caroline’s only experience was that Original siblings’ fights usually ended up with someone in a coffin. But that would have to wait.
“There are a few things we need to understand as we arrive in New York,” began Elijah. “The roles of each of member of this family, as well as your place in all this Caroline. I want to be quite certain that we are all on the same page.”
“We’ve done this before, Elijah,” complained Kol.
“It has been 700 years, Kol. Times change,” interjected Klaus.
“And we’re not running anymore, Kol,” added Rebekah. “We can stay in one place longer than a few years.”
“As I was saying, there are details to work out,” continued Elijah as though the others hadn’t interrupted him. “Caroline, it is important for you to know that the supernatural world tends to blend better outside of Mystic Falls. Too many supernatural beings have been created in Mystic Falls for it to truly behave like the rest of the world. This won’t be the same as showing up to high school.”
“I didn’t think it would be,” stated Caroline.
Rebekah poked her. “You don’t get it. We’re talking about vampires who have been in power for centuries; generations of witches and werewolves and more. They’d eat you for breakfast.”
“Enough Rebekah,” said Klaus firmly. “The point, love, is that while as Originals, we command respect, it won’t be easy to come in and take charge. There are bound to be a few fights.”
Kol smiled with anticipation. “That’s where I come in.”
“Indeed,” said Elijah. “Kol has always been the more…let’s say persuasive member of our family. He’ll play that part again for any who have difficulty coming to terms with this new arrangement.” He turned to his sister. “Rebekah, I’ll need you to speak with the female contacts, see where things stand.”
“You take Caroline with you.” Elijah saw Rebekah’s eyes light up with protest. “No arguments, Rebekah. Caroline has to learn how this works and I trust you.”
“Fine,” grumbled Rebekah.
“You can join me. Could be fun,” offered Kol, that deadly grin that promised both pleasure and torturous pain at once, creeping onto his face.
Caroline shook her head. “I’d rather take my chances with Rebekah.” She wasn’t stupid enough to think that Kol’s idea of fun was anything like hers.
“Niklaus, I assume we’ll work together as we used to,” said Elijah. Klaus could hear the twinge of hopefulness in Elijah’s voice. His brother liked being in charge, enjoyed the general aspect of marshalling the troops but they had also spent 500 years together. That camaraderie was hard to let go.
“Of course, Elijah,” answered Klaus quickly. “We’ll discuss our first steps once we arrive in New York.” He liked having his brother take the reins on this endeavor. It gave him more excuses to spend time with Caroline.
“May I ask a question?” queried Caroline. “Well a few questions.” She continued once she received a nod from Elijah. “First, why are we traveling by train instead of a car or plane? Wouldn’t either be faster?”
“That’s one I can answer,” said Rebekah. “Trains are simpler than plane travel since there isn’t nearly the fuss about security. Granted we can compel people but it’s a lot of trouble in an airport.”
“And I can’t stretch my legs in a car,” interrupted Kol.
Rebekah rolled her eyes. “Cars just aren’t comfortable.”
Klaus leaned over to add quietly in Caroline’s ear, though he knew his siblings could hear, “we’re also both terribly old-fashioned and fairly European. Train travel is what we know best.”
“You had another question?” asked Elijah.
“Oh yes,” responded Caroline. “And I’m not trying to be rude here but why exactly are you taking charge of the supernatural world? Instead of just living in it?”
“That’s actually an excellent question, Caroline,” answered Elijah. “With our focus on familial issues over recent centuries, we’ve been remiss in our duties. As one of the oldest supernatural families around, and the one with the most power, we actually have a responsibility to maintain control. Regardless of personal opinion,” he looked sternly at Kol and Klaus, both of whom shrugged in acceptance, “we can’t have every vampire, witch or werewolf running around killing every human around for petty reasons.”
“Are they really all that bad?”
Kol took that one. “You’ve met Katherine, right?”
“Ugh.” Caroline turned up her nose in disgust. “I see your point.”
“Indeed,” said Elijah. He continued explaining the location of the house they would be living in, some of the contacts he wanted to make in the first few weeks of their arrival, and other pertinent details. The others listened carefully. For once they would all actually have to be on the same page.
~ ~ ~
“Elijah?” Caroline moved through the dining car to Elijah’s table. No one else was in the car, since the Originals had the train to themselves, another benefit to Elijah making the arrangements. Still, Elijah sat in a back corner, giving him a perfect view of the entire car. “Mind if I join you?” she asked.
Elijah smiled. “I’m surprised you were willing to leave Niklaus’ side. But please, have a seat,” he gestured to a chair across the table.
“Kol won’t go away,” said Caroline as she sat down, no small amount of annoyance in her voice.
“If he’s bothering you…”
“Oh he’s fine,” Caroline hurried to reassure Elijah. “I think I’m just learning what it’s like to have a brother.”
“And?” asked Elijah.
“Kinda overrated,” answered Caroline.
When Elijah laughed out loud at that, Caroline couldn’t help but laugh with him.
“I suppose it is better than the way we started out,” added Caroline. “With Kol leering and making nasty comments. I can get used to this friendship.”
Elijah beckoned to the waiter to bring Caroline a cup of tea. “What brings you to me?”
“Boredom,” said Caroline. She was lying a little bit but wasn’t sure how to talk to Elijah.
“Caroline,” said Elijah warningly. “People don’t usually make a habit of shooting the breeze with me. You want something.”
She frowned. “I do but, Elijah, people do enjoy talking to you. We don’t have to want something all the time.”
“You don’t have to. This time however…”
“Nope,” said Caroline with a smile, accepting her tea from the waiter. “My questions can wait. We’re going to talk and I’m going to prove you wrong.”
“Oh?” Elijah didn’t look like he was all that upset, despite his attempts to look stern.
“Yep, we’ll talk about clothes and music and movies and…” Caroline couldn’t keep going when she saw Elijah’s grimace and burst into laughter. “I’m kidding!” She proceeded to dump all of the regular sugar packets in her tea while Elijah looked on.
“Tea with your sugar, Caroline?”
Caroline only grinned in answer and stirred her tea before taking a very deliberate gulp. She pushed her empty sugar packets aside. “I’ll start. Can I have a dog at this house in New York City?” She bit back a grin at Elijah’s expression. You would have thought she’d asked him to strip naked and do a jig. That image was too much for Caroline and she started giggling.
“Am I allowed to be in on the joke?” asked Elijah.
Caroline struggled to get it together. “Nothing. I’m sorry, Elijah, I just had this image pop in my head. I’m good now.”
“Was I dancing? Somehow images of me that result in laughter always involve dancing.” Elijah rolled his eyes. “Rebekah always adds some manner of sparkly Broadway costume to the image.” He stared expressionlessly, as though daring Caroline to react.
She tried to maintain a stoic expression but it was no use. Her mind was seeing Elijah in an outfit from Cabaret, kicking up his heels. Caroline dissolved into peals of laughter until finally Elijah joined in her amusement. It took several minutes for Caroline to regain her composure but once she had, Elijah returned to their earlier conversation. “You want a dog then? In a house full of vampires?”
“A golden retriever,” said Caroline. “They’re so pretty. I just figured I should probably ask since technically it’s your house.”
“The house is for all of us, including you,” clarified Elijah. “But a dog? Out of all the possibilities in New York, the first thing you ask for is a domestic pet for a vampire.”
“What’s wrong with that?” returned Caroline before coming to a horrible realization. “Oh my god! I thought you drank human blood! The bunnies were bad enough and I told Stefan I couldn’t go around killing bunnies anymore and now you’re telling me you eat puppies! Who the hell eats puppies?!”
“Caroline!” Elijah had to wait for her to take a breath to get a word in. “We don’t eat puppies.”
“You have my word,” promised Elijah. “Besides, the fur gets stuck in my teeth.”
“WHAT?!” screeched Caroline.
“It’s a joke, Caroline,” smirked Elijah. “None of us have ever, nor will ever eat puppies. Stefan may have an aversion to drinking straight from the tap but it doesn’t mean one has to turn on furry woodland creatures.”
“Oh.” Caroline sighed in relief. “Well I just want a dog to cuddle up with at night.”
The corners of Elijah’s mouth twitched. “Caroline, please don’t force me to make the obvious joke.”
“Eww!” squealed Caroline. “You’re as bad as Kol.”
“Now that’s far too much of an insult. However, if that is enough small talk, will you tell me why you came to sit with me?”
Caroline took a long sip of her tea before replying to his question. “I just wanted to make sure you were okay. You seemed sad when Klaus mentioned Elena, earlier.” She continued quickly before Elijah could respond. “I know you cared about her. It seemed like it hurt you to leave.”
Elijah’s face grew reflective as he answered. “I was fond of Elena.”
“Salvatore brother levels of fond?”
“No,” the elder vampire shook his head. “Elena is a very special young woman but my feelings never went quite so far.” He paused before continuing, “If I may be frank, it seems Elena took the best course of action by choosing herself a few weeks ago.”
“You think she should find a guy who isn’t a Salvatore?” asked Caroline.
“I believe Elena Gilbert needs to learn who she is as an individual before she chooses a man to complement her.” He noticed Caroline’s eager expression and headed her off. “I won’t gossip with you, Caroline.”
“Fine.” Caroline mock pouted for only a moment. She didn’t actually mind changing the subject, though she did long for a good gabfest. It wasn’t the same anymore between her and Elena. ‘So Caroline, I’m trying to decide between dating the guy who abused you for months and the guy who pissed his ex-girlfriend off so much she turned you into a vampire.’ ‘Oh that’s alright, Elena. I’m falling in love with a guy who sacrificed you to reverse an ancient curse, all so he could get over his abandonment issues.’ Yeah, to say girl talk had its issues was putting it mildly.
“In any case,” continued Elijah, unaware of the sarcasm battle going on in Caroline’s mind. “I’ve already had my turn to fight over a Petrova. One learns to move on.”
~ ~ ~
NEW YORK CITY
Klaus took Caroline’s hand in his as soon as Elijah had finished the tour of the main part of the house. The drivers had picked them up at the station and the household staff that Elijah employed had set the house up so it was ready when they arrived. The staff was a mix of vampires and humans. It was really a matter of preference, with the exception of the groundskeepers and security. The former required humans and the latter a mixture to cover all shifts. Rebekah insisted on a vampire chef, a Ms. Hamilton, who was over 400 years old. There were few recipes she didn’t know and she was a quieter sort who was perfectly happy to spend her days experimenting with various dishes at someone else’s expense.
Though the train allowed everyone room to move around, it was still close quarters. Elijah had made the tour quick as a result, figuring everyone could explore the rest of the house later. Vampires weren’t physically tired but a sense of travel weariness could still be felt. The other Originals went their separate ways to relax as Klaus pulled Caroline towards a back wing of the house.
“Where are we going?” asked Caroline.
Klaus watched as she spun around through the hall, trying to take everything in. Elijah truly had brought everything together. Art and memories from a thousand years hung in the hall. “I thought you might like to see your room.”
“Oh!” exclaimed Caroline. “That’s right. Elijah did leave bedrooms off his tour. Kind of important really.”
Klaus led his girl up the stairs, marveling at the way just her presence lit up the dark corridors. Once they reached a heavy set of double doors, he opened one and led Caroline into the room. The entire design had been his idea. “This is it.” Klaus stepped back to let Caroline explore, hoping she liked it.
Caroline’s jaw dropped. The house was beautiful to be sure but this space was clearly hers. One side of the room was a closet, with her few clothes already inside. The entire back wall was clearly for shoes, while a small revolving platform sat in the middle of several full length mirrors. It was a fashion lover’s dream.
There were chairs and a few end tables in one corner of the room and the entire area was decorated in warm blue and yellow colors. On one wall were drawings Klaus had done of various horses for her. The entire room felt like summer.
“It’s beautiful,” whispered Caroline, taken aback by the room’s perfection. “You did all this for me?”
“I wanted you to be happy.”
“I can’t imagine being happier,” responded Caroline, flinging her arms around Klaus. “Thank you.”
“Anything for you love.” Klaus pulled her closer for a moment then motioned her out the doors. “Now my room.”
Klaus’ room was just down the hall. He’d set most of it up as a large study, complete with two walls filled with his favorite books. In one corner he had recreated his art studio, so he could work in private. There was another room he could have used as well but Klaus found inspiration in his books.
His closet was smaller than Caroline’s but he’s taken just as much care with his bathroom as hers. While Caroline’s bathroom was set up as more of a spa feel, with the oversized tub and vanity area, his was more functional. A large, double faucet trough sink stood under a massive mirror, with oak shelving on either end. His shower was especially spacious with multiple faucets on the walls and ceiling.
Klaus grinned at the idea of Caroline in his shower. He turned to tease her about it and realized she wasn’t there. “Caroline,” he called out.
“In my room,” came the reply. Caroline sounded concerned.
“Something wrong, sweetheart?” he asked once he reached her.
“There are no beds,” said Caroline, perplexed. “The rooms are beautiful but there are no beds. I kind of need a bed Klaus.”
Klaus took Caroline by the shoulders and gently turned her towards one wall. “Try that door, love.”
“Has that always been there?”
“Yes,” he answered. “I just didn’t want to show you right away.”
Caroline pushed open the door and walked into the room. It was fairly simply as far as bedrooms go. Aside from an oversized chair and small table, the only piece of furniture in the room was the bed. Even the walls were decorated with simplicity. But the tall four poster bed that took up much of the room was gorgeous.
“Why couldn’t I see this earlier?”
“You would have wanted to see the other rooms after. I didn’t really want to leave.”
Caroline looked at Klaus mischievously. “There’s just one problem with this room.”
“What?” It was his turn to be confused.
“It’s so clean,” said Caroline, pulling her sweater over her head and dropping it on the floor. “I like my bedroom to look lived in.” She moved towards Klaus and pulled his jacket aside, throwing it over the back of the chair.
“I see what you mean,” said the hybrid. He held Caroline close for a long kiss, loving the feeling of her lips against his. “How do you feel about a bed that looks lived in?”
She smiled. “Oh, I feel very, very good about that.”