Notes: This has been lingering on my computer forever, waiting to be edited. I kept putting it off because it is LONG so I figured I'd just break it up in the hopes that beginning to post would motivate me to finish the whole thing off. I'm trying to dive back into the multichapters since I have more free time this month.
EPILOGUE (PART ONE):
"I hate rain," Caroline grumbles. Klaus makes a soft sound of amusement but otherwise doesn't answer. She can't bring herself to mind since Klaus replying might mean Klaus moving and she's finally managed to find a semi comfortable position. They're sprawled out on the floor of the Miami International airport using their luggage as makeshift pillows. Caroline's using her sweater as a blanket and is resting on Klaus' shoulder.
She really hadn't been pro lying on the floor (the carpet was a dull grey color, and who knew what kind of dirt it was concealing) but as the storm worsened and the layover lengthened she'd been concerned that the hard plastic seats they'd been camped in were going to permanently damage her spine. She'd caved, and agreed to follow the example of her fellow stranded travelers who were spread out throughout the terminal. Klaus had bought a couple of magazines and Caroline had settled down next to him and occasionally read along when a headline piqued her interest.
She'd drifted off to sleep for a bit, lulled by Klaus' even breathing and steady heartbeats but it hadn't lasted long. It was too open, too many people moving around. Coughs and shifting and quiet conversations had roused her. It was 2 AM and rain was still beating at the windows and Caroline was getting hungry.
She refused to let this not so auspicious end to her vacation ruin her travel buzz but that didn't mean she wasn't entitled to a little complaining.
"It's cold. It makes my hair frizzy. Runny mascara is the worst. No one likes being damp," she continues. "I could be in my nice cozy bed right now with my hot boyfriend but nope, I am on a gross floor surrounded by strangers."
"Still with your hot boyfriend," Klaus points out, sounding more than a little smug, "so it could be worse."
She rolls her eyes and pokes his side but has to bite the inside of her lip to keep from smiling. "Yeah, yeah. Shouldn't you be defending rain? It's a big thing in your neck of the woods, isn't it?"
"You get used to it. Cold can generally be avoided by dressing appropriately. Do they not make waterproof makeup? If not I think they should. There's nothing wrong with your hair when it's frizzy, and I agree, being damp is unpleasant. I often go directly to the shower after I've been out in it. It helps."
"I'm a bath kind of girl."
"I'm aware. You monopolized our tub often enough. I'm afraid my flat lacks one."
Caroline twists her head to look at him, "Seriously?"
"Afraid so. Sorry, love."
She lets out an exaggerated sigh. "I suppose I'll survive."
"The shower is quite nice if that's any consolation. Large, multiple shower heads. There's even a bench along one wall."
It's said with deceptive innocence, Klaus' eyes remain glued on the pages he's reading. But Caroline sees the hint of a smirk. She'd ixnayed shower sex on safety grounds – not that they hadn't had plenty of other kinds of fun – and she'd be lying if the idea of a bench didn't send certain stirrings of interest through her.
Still. This was so not the time or the place. Caroline made a mental note to do a little research into those suction cup handle things later on. Just in case.
She keeps her tone breezy but pokes him once more for good measure. "Noted. You can pry my bath bombs from my cold dead hands though."
"That sounds unpleasant."
"It's not. It's aesthetically pleasing heaven. I'll send you pictures."
"Of you in the bath? I can't find it in myself to argue."
Caroline snorts, "Yeah, can't say I'm surprised. They will be totally tasteful and kept private unless you want me to murder you. My mom's in law enforcement and I've watched a lot of CSI. They'll never find your body."
Klaus lets out an actual laugh, dropping his magazine. He's had one arm resting behind her back but he wraps it around her, tugging her more firmly into his side. "You threatened to murder me on our first day too, do you remember? Should I be worried about your homicidal tendencies?"
Caroline shrugs, sliding her palm across his abdomen and toying with his shirt, "One, I didn't actually murder you. Two, I think things turned out pretty okay, even after that, right? I mean, our present situation is less than ideal, stupid rain, but I think we had a great vacation."
"I think that's an understatement. I do believe it'll be difficult for a vacation to top this one."
"I'm going to take that as a challenge," Caroline says with a nod. "I like to plan things." She clenches her jaw and fights off a yawn, closing her eyes briefly. They feel gritty even though she'd washed off her makeup hours ago.
Klaus' hand is smoothing up her side and it's nice. Relaxing. "I have gathered that."
She hums, gropes blindly for the magazine. "Can you read to me? Currency comparisons sound boring enough to lull me to sleep." Plus, she had a little bit of a thing for the accent, figured if she could make herself focus on his voice she might be able to drown out the background noise. She was pretty sure he knew (and exploited it, the jerk) but Klaus didn't need an ego stroke in the form of a confirmation.
He shifts minutely, clearing his throat, and Caroline follows the movement letting her eyes drift shut. He begins to read and she lets the sound wash over her, not bothering to focus on the words.
Klaus is right, she realizes as she drifts off to sleep. This vacation will be hard to top – not that she's not up to try. Two weeks ago if someone had told her she'd end it curled up with Klaus on a dirty airport floor, and that she wouldn't even really mind, that she'd be content, she would have insisted that was insane.
If such huge changes could happen in two weeks Caroline wasn't even going to try to guess what other kinds were coming her way. It was a little scary, her not so inner control freak on edge. But it was mostly exhilarating. None of the curveballs this trip had thrown at her had been bad. She was enough of an optimist to assume that the one's life tossed her way in the future wouldn't all be awful either.
"Can you get that?" Caroline calls from the kitchen, after her doorbell finished chiming. "The timer's about to go off. It'll be Enzo to drop off Bonnie and pick you up for your man date." She sing songs the last two words and Klaus shakes his head, equal parts amused and annoyed. She'd taken to calling their evening's plans – Caroline was set to spend time in, with Bonnie, while he and Enzo went out – that since the moment they'd been made in the car on the way home from the airport. Klaus expressing displeasure, either visually or verbally, only encouraged her and so he'd learned to remain neutral.
Truthfully, he has no issues with spending time with Enzo. He and the other man had come to get along rather well, Klaus found him much more relaxed than Bonnie (who had quite the threatening glare when she put her mind to it) the few times in the past week they have interacted. He's curious if that'll change once they're away from Caroline's watchful gaze but reasons that even if it does they'll be at a bar and bourbon will surely smooth away any awkwardness.
He's planning on picking Enzo's brain, in as subtle a manner as he can manage, on how he'd found the transition to living in the U.S.
Klaus stands from the couch, turning off the television he's been idly watching while Caroline banged around in the kitchen. He'd offered to help but his culinary talents did not extend to baking (as she'd found when he'd burnt a pan of pre-made breadsticks earlier on in the week) and so Caroline had shoed him out. Bonnie's expression dims ever so slightly when she spots Klaus on the other side of the door (Caroline had assured him that Bonnie would thaw once they had 'quality girl talk' but Klaus had some doubts on that front). "Evening," Klaus greets, sharing a nod with Enzo. "Caroline's in the kitchen. Please, come in."
Bonnie manages a smile, murmurs her thanks, brushing passed him after kicking off her shoes. Enzo lingers after the door's been closed. "I've been told we're to make our exits immediately. Bon's dying to go into interrogation mode. Assures me it won't be for the faint of heart."
Klaus had assumed as much. He'd be worried but he knows Caroline can more than hold her own. She's been far less reluctant to make future plans these last few days, had spent the previous evening quizzing him about his favorite – where 'favorite' meant least awful – of the attractions listed in a London guidebook she'd bought. "Let me just pop in and say goodbye and we'll leave, alright?"
"Fine. Just don't get caught up in the lovey dovey theatrics. I know you're in the nauseating new couple stage but I've no desire to witness it."
He's tempted to roll his eyes, a sure sign that Caroline's rubbing off on him. He could point out that Enzo and Bonnie weren't exactly unsubtle in their affections but he refrains. Klaus saw no need to piss off a good ally at this juncture. "I'll be just a minute."
Enzo trails him into the kitchen and Klaus notes that Bonnie, settled on a stool, has already got a healthy glass full of wine in hand. That's because, Klaus assumes, Caroline's both committed to being a good host and not above plotting to get her friend tipsy and malleable before they dive into everything that happened on Caroline's vacation.
She'll take every advantage she can get, Klaus knows. He's been the victim of her willingness to play dirty to get a win enough times to notice the signs.
Bonnie had been speaking, something about a broken appliance, but she pauses when Klaus enters the kitchen. He steps up behind Caroline at the counter, resting a hand on her hip. "We're off, love. Have a good evening."
She twists so she can look at him, "Have fun. Enzo's a terrible influence so try not to get arrested, okay?"
"I resent that," Enzo says. He's leaning against the doorway, smirking in Caroline's direction. "I never got you arrested, did I?"
Caroline's snort is incredulous. "Not for lack of trying. I talked down more than a few campus security guards after you did something dumb."
"Those don't count," Enzo argues.
Klaus, sensing this is not a new discussion, interrupts. "Another example of your ability to 'speak cop' saving the day? I'm sure Enzo's full of stories that I can't wait to hear."
Caroline stiffens slightly, leaning forward to pin Enzo with a glare. Glancing over Klaus can see his grin borders on gleeful, "Oh, do I ever. And you can't even threaten me into silence, can you? The lovely Bonnie's already been given the rundown of all my youthful misdeeds and adores me anyway."
"Some days it's more 'tolerates'" Bonnie says dryly, "but yeah, I know it all."
Caroline turns her attention to Klaus, expression shrewd, "Don't make me ask Rebekah for Kol's phone number. You know she'll give it to me once she runs out of embarrassing stories of her own about you."
He's not much for public displays but he can't resist wrapping an arm around her waist so she's tucked more tightly against her. "You'll still adore me," he murmurs. "I have no doubt."
Her lips press together, an unsuccessful attempt at holding in a smile. "We really need to work on that ginormous ego of yours, you know. It'll probably take years for it to be anything approaching normal sized."
This time the noise of amusement comes from Bonnie, and when Klaus glances over he's pleased to see her looking almost… friendly, watching him and Caroline with a speculative air. "I think years is a gross underestimation, Care."
Caroline's sigh is loud, exaggeratedly long suffering, "It'll be a tough job but someone's gotta do it," she jokes, nudging him gently with her elbow.
Klaus, of course, has no objection to Caroline taking on the task.
DAY TWENTY TWO:
She feels like she's barely gone to sleep when she's awakened. Klaus is trying to be quiet, moving carefully, but she'd been tugged into wakefulness as soon as he'd pulled away.
Sleeping without him is going to be a real bitch tonight.
She stretches to reach her phone on the nightstand, catching Klaus attention. "Sorry," he whispers, pausing in pulling on the sweatpants they'd hastily tossed away last night. "You don't have to get up yet."
Caroline squints at the time. He's right, it's barely 5 AM and she can sleep for another hour or so before dragging herself out of bed to drive him to the airport. They hadn't gotten much sleep last night. Caroline had been greedy for him, storing up touches and scents and all the things she'd miss about having him so close, and Klaus had met her need with his own urgency. "How are you even awake?" Caroline asks, voice scratchy.
Klaus smiles, ambling over to sit on the bed. "I couldn't sleep."
Her nose wrinkles as she heaves herself up, blankets falling to her waist. "Ugh, were you doing the creepy watching me sleep thing again?" she teases.
"I was," Klaus tells her, completely unrepentant. His eyes are drifting over her, darkening hungrily as they take in all her bare skin. Caroline deeply regrets they don't have nearly enough time for all the things he's clearly considering. Klaus seems to realize the same thing, shaking his head regretfully. "And I look forward to the next time I have the opportunity to creepily watch you sleep."
Caroline does her best to smirk at him, swallowing hard. Klaus is being sweet and she's determined she won't cry until they're actually at the airport. She needed a little levity. "Hey, if that's your kink we can set up a webcam or something. It's way less weird than some things you could be into."
He follows her lead easily, leaning forward with a playful leer, "Trust me, sweetheart, I can think of plenty of weird things we can do via webcam if you'd like." His lips brush over hers before she can reply and he kisses her until she forgets what she was going to say. Probably a good thing because, like everyone, she'd definitely seen some questionable things on the internet. "I'm going to shower. Try to rest some more, will you? I've got hours on the plane to catch up but you've got to drive home after."
That was true. Plus, she was totally going to end up stopping at the grocery store and stocking up on chocolate treats to have a good wallow. Would probably be too high on sugar to take a quality nap later on. Caroline squirms back down so she's resting on the pillows obligingly. She doubts she'll fall back asleep but it doesn't hurt to try. "It's Sunday," she tells him, closing her eyes. "Uber early. There won't be any traffic. You don't need to worry about me."
Klaus laughs knowingly and she feels the bed shift when he gets up, "Oh? Does that mean you won't be demanding I text you when I land safely?"
Ugh, of course she would be. "That's different," she mutters, despite knowing it's a weak argument. She shifts to get comfortable, cracking her eyes open to look at him. "You're supposed to be the laid back one about travel here and I'm the paranoid nutball who thinks planes are evil death traps, remember?"
"Which is why I will send you a text the minute my plane's wheels are on solid tarmac," Klaus promises.
Slightly mollified Caroline still mutters, "You better," as she rolls over and buries her head in the pillows Klaus has been using, listening to him make his way to the bathroom. She's half tempted to join him, have one last memory of him slick and warm against her to draw on in lonely moments but she refrains, makes an effort to breathe deeply in hopes of catching a little bit more sleep.
She's always been the worrier in her relationships. It's kinda nice to be on the other end.
DAY TWENTY NINE:
He waits until early evening to call Caroline, knowing her usual love for a lie in was likely only enhanced by the wedding she'd been at yesterday. It had been a last minute affair, one she'd taken over from one of her coworkers who'd had a family emergency. An extravagant celebration and a difficult client had been dropped into her lap and Caroline had been tearing her hair out over the plans for the past few days meaning she'd not had much time to talk.
A state of affairs Klaus found displeasing, especially because when they did speak he could hear the strain, the tiredness, in her tone.
Like when they'd spoken briefly on Friday once she'd received his package (Klaus hadn't done Valentine's Day gifts in ages so he'd been a bit apprehensive over his selections but Caroline had seemed to like the framed photographs – from the sets he'd taken on the final day of their trip – that he'd had printed in black and white. He'd thought they'd look good in her flat and she'd seemed to agree. He'd tried to call her later on in the day once her gift had been delivered to his door (a bottle of bourbon from a distillery in her area that he'd come to like and his very own Monopoly set, the Star Wars edition, since she'd been aghast that he owned zero board games) but had gotten no answer, though she'd texted him later on apologizing and explaining that she was swamped. He'd gotten a single text yesterday wishing him a happy Valentine's Day.
She answers after several rings, bright and warm, "Hey! How are you?"
He settles into his sofa, legs stretched out, "I'm fine, love. How are you? I hope there were no major disasters?"
The noise she makes is half a laugh, half a groan. "Well, according to the bride and her awful mom there were several but she ended the day married so I guess it all worked out. I do not want to see another red rose for a very long time. It's not a great smell when there are thousands of them in an enclosed space."
Klaus could imagine, having always found the scent roses to be sickly sweet even in small doses. "I'll make a note."
"I wasn't fishing for a floral delivery, FYI."
He finds himself smiling. As far as hints went that would have been far too subtle. Not Caroline's usual style. "Of course not. You'd prefer those be a surprise, would you not? It's a small enough one that it wouldn't bother you, I'm guessing."
"Are you sure you don't have some freaky mind reading ability?"
"Positive. Things calm down for you next week, if I recall correctly?"
"Yup! I'm in the early stages of a couple of summer weddings and I have a big fundraiser for a politician coming up. The aide assigned to it clearly has no idea what he's doing so he just nods and smiles and takes all my suggestions. It's pretty much my favorite kind of assignment."
"Yes, you are a born dictator. It's sometimes rather frightening."
"Shut up," Caroline tells him, but he can hear the laugh in it. "What about you? Still painting up a storm?"
"Yes. My agent is thrilled." An understatement. Klaus had very nearly been able to see the dollar signs flashing in the man's eyes when they'd met and he'd sketched out the concept for his next show, shown a few sample pieces. Luckily, Marcel was fantastically skilled at his job and Klaus knew if the man was imagining a tidy profit he could also expect to do very well for himself. "I'll send you some pictures tomorrow."
"Ooh, I'll make them my screensaver at work and get all the girls in the office jealous about my mysterious artist boyfriend. They'll go nuts when I tell them you're from England. Maybe I'll play up the vacation angle? Make it seem like a total rom com come to life."
Klaus found he didn't hate that idea. Even internally preened a bit at the idea that she wanted to show him off. "Then I'll definitely have to send flowers."
"Well, no pressure, of course. But I do have an office nemesis and she has been insufferable about my single state more than once. I'm an awful petty person, in case you hadn't noticed."
"You're not awful. And I've been known to dabble in pettiness myself so I'll not cast stones."
That sets Caroline off into needling him about their bet about the bed, Klaus jumps to defend himself. He barely notices the time passing, not until his flat is shrouded in darkness and his stomach rumbles to remind him he's skipped dinner.
DAY FORTY FIVE:
Caroline lets out a whistle as Rebekah approaches, ignoring the disgruntled glances a few of the restaurants patrons send her way. Rebekah looks a little peeved, but not too much, her stride speeding up as her eyes roll upwards. "Look at you and your cast free legs!" Caroline exclaims. "Your super-hot legs, fyi. How's it feel?"
"So good, you have no idea. The cast was such a nuisance to sleep in, having to heave it all over the place, catching on the blankets. Stefan got kicked at least once a night."
Caroline smirks as Rebekah settles into the booth across from her, "Accidentally, or…"
"Caroline, what do you take me for? Accidentally!" Rebekah replies, her outrage clearly feigned. "Mostly. Sometimes he'd deserved it."
A waiter stops by to introduce himself, asks if they'd like more time before ordering. They've been to this restaurant dozens of times, it's neatly situated halfway between her apartment and Stefan and Rebekah's house so neither of them need to consult a menu. Caroline asks for her usual girl's night margarita, Rebekah chooses a red wine, and they bicker over appetizers to the server's amusement. Once he's walking away with their order Rebekah turns shrewd eyes on Caroline.
Caroline groans, slumps back in her seat. "Ugh, can't you at least wait until there's booze handy?"
Rebekah looks distinctly unimpressed. Not that Caroline had expected mercy. She's skillfully brushed off this conversation for weeks but she'd known she couldn't avoid it forever. Tenacity was something she and Rebekah had in common. "First, you avoid practically all of my emails while on vacation. Then you and Nik practically wall yourself up in your flat for a week. You've avoided me in person since he flew back to London, using Stefan as a buffer when you don't manage to beg off using work as an excuse. Honestly, you're lucky my broken leg bought you this much time. You're dating my favorite brother, Caroline. I think I am entitled to some information."
She could quibble with the word entitled but decides not to. Caroline might genuinely like Rebekah these days but was fully aware that Rebekah was kind of a lost cause when it came to that particular concept.
"Fine," Caroline mutters, sitting up straight and leaning forward, letting her hands fold together on the table. "Yes, I am dating your favorite brother. Yes, it's going pretty well considering the distance. Happy?"
Rebekah's incredulous noise tells Caroline that she is not. "Caroline. Nik could have told me that and he's a man. A man with the emotional range of a houseplant."
She's surprised by how quickly she bristles at that, biting down the urge to defend Klaus. He wasn't exactly the warmest person, and he was awful with strangers, but he deserved some credit for being perceptive and trying, didn't he? It had been him doing the poking and prodding that had led them from icy acquaintances to what they were now. She attempts to be diplomatic, "I have no issues with Klaus' emotional range, Bekah. If I did I wouldn't have said things were going well."
"How well is well?" Rebekah presses, her impatience growing. Caroline hopes the waiter returns with the food and the wine before impatient turned to tetchy.
"I like him," Caroline says simply. "I'm sorry that I was stupid and talked myself out of liking him two years ago at your wedding over a misunderstanding."
Rebekah's brows furrow, "What did happen two years ago?"
"Damon," Caroline grumbles acidly, hoping that's all the explanation that'll be needed. Thankfully, Rebekah just nods, her face twisting in understanding. Caroline continues, deciding to bring out the big guns. "But I'd rather not talk about him. Ever. I owe you a thank you, Rebekah."
"For what?" Rebekah asks, blinking in surprise.
Caroline was totally going to have to make this one up to Klaus. Luckily, they had a Skype date planned for later and she had some new lingerie that she was certain would be sufficiently distracting. "For playing matchmaker. I could have done without the terrible blind dates but I'm happy you sabotaged our room bookings."
Rebekah's eyes widen in shock, "I am going to kill Nik."
It's a quiet mutter and Caroline finds herself laughing. "No you're not. That I would be mad about. And come on, I'm sure it would have come out eventually. You wouldn't have been able to resist taking credit for this forever."
Rebekah argues and attempts to claim that she is the very picture of magnanimousness. Caroline's known Rebekah long enough to lob back some rebuttals, specific instances where that was very much not the case. It's sufficiently distracting, they bicker good naturedly for the duration of the meal. Caroline's very pleased with herself, and her expert handling of the situation.
No way in hell was Rebekah going to weasel out the specifics of her feelings for Klaus before she had the opportunity to verbalize them to him in person.
Klaus is exhausted, his feet dragging as he makes his way to his door. He'd nearly fallen asleep in the cab, had been rudely jerked out of his stupor with an abrupt stop. He'd been at the gallery since mid-morning, first dealing with the final placement and lighting of his pieces then meeting with Marcel. First they'd gone over the tedious things – important guests they were expecting, the final food and wine the caterers would be serving. Klaus had then spent a long while going back and forth with Marcel in regards to pricing of the ones he was selling, insisting that no, certain canvases were, under absolutely no circumstances, available for purchase even if Marcel thought they'd get snapped up in an instant. Klaus had plans for those.
He'd gotten an odd text from Kol around dinner time, had been too busy to puzzle out its meaning then and he's currently too tired to care. It was relatively simple, saying only 'Don't say I never gave you anything, brother' but when Kol got cryptic Klaus got concerned.
Whatever it was would have to keep until Monday. It didn't sound like Kol was in trouble which was a small mercy.
It's nearly 1 AM now and all Klaus wants is a shower and his bed. Caroline should just be relaxing at home and she'll be able to chat before he goes to sleep. She's been fairly silent throughout the day, fewer than usual texts and he hopes nothing unfortunate had happened.
Hearing her troubles, the occasional strain in her voice even when she attempted a cheery spin, was always a trial knowing there was little he could do to help or distract her from thousands of miles away.
Klaus rolls his head to the side as he deals with his lock, wincing at the ache. He's very much looking forward to sleeping in tomorrow, he's only got to show up, look presentable and be ready to smile and entertain the people who'll shell out money for his work while they drone on and on about symbolism and his color choices and all sorts of other things. It's Klaus' least favorite part of his career and he's thankful it only needs doing a few times a year.
He stills once he's stepped into his flat, a feeling of unease washing over him. The television is on, the volume turned to a low murmur and he knows he hadn't touched it before he'd left for the day. A quick glance at his kitchen shows a pizza box sitting on the counter, one that also hadn't been here before.
Clearly, someone's been here.
He fishes out his phone even as he relaxes slightly as logical thought sinks in. A burglar wouldn't have ordered dinner and then locked the door on their way out. Still, it didn't hurt to be cautious. He feels for the lights, flicking them on so the rooms are brightly illuminated. His eyes scan his familiar possessions and nothing seems out of place or missing. He hears a soft groan from the couch, one that's familiar and Klaus' pulse leaps in anticipation and a touch of confusion. He strides over so he can see that there is, in fact, a figure stretched out along the brown leather cushions her head pillowed on the arm rest and a blanket from his bed tucked tightly around her.
He grins, tiredness receding as he in sleep rumbled state. Caroline wasn't supposed to arrive until next week, had planned to be here for ten days over his birthday, but Klaus isn't going to complain that she's early. She blinks up at him, stretching her arms above her head. Klaus circles the couch so he can sit when she shifts over to give him room, perching on the edge and reaching out to tuck her hair away from her face. "This is a surprise," he murmurs.
"Mmm," she sighs, leaning into his touch. Her voice is hoarse from sleep, her lashes still fluttering as she fights it. "A good one, I hope."
"The best," Klaus tells her seriously.
She yawns, covering her mouth before speaking again, "Kol let me in. Said you wouldn't mind. He even picked me up and bought me dinner."
Ah, that explained the text then.
"I don't though I suppose I'm not to expect a birthday present from him," Klaus jokes. "Not after he exerted himself so strenuously.
Caroline smiles, "Yeah, he kinda said the same thing."
"You could have called me, sweetheart. I'd have jumped at the chance to wrap things up sooner had I known you were here."
"I knew you'd be late. You said as much when we texted this morning, remember? I tried to stay up but apparently trans-Atlantic flights make me really sleepy. Besides, I totally took the opportunity to snoop. Since you said that was cool way back when."
He'd always figured she'd remember that. "Find anything interesting?" Klaus asks curiously.
Her nose wrinkles, "I think you might have lied about the cooking thing. You have nothing but condiments and beer. Good condiments, but still."
"Side effect of my deadline. I've eaten an appalling amount of takeaway these last few weeks."
Caroline yawns once more, does her best to stifle it while appearing embarrassed. "Sorry, I was up really early. I promise I am actually happy to see you even though I am falling asleep."
Klaus does the mental calculations, "What time was your flight?"
"5 AM. Which is a totally evil hour of the day that someone should do something about."
He suppresses a smile at her disgruntled expression as he stands, offering Caroline his hand. She takes it and comes to her feet when he tugs, the blanket pooling at their feet. He presses his lips together to muffle the sound that wants to come out, an audible noise of appreciation as he takes her in. She's wearing one of his shirts and little else and he clenches his hands into fists so he doesn't push her back down onto the couch.
Caroline shakes her head ruefully, looping her arms around his neck and resting against him, "Yeah, I had big plans. Dirty fun plans. But I don't think I can do them justice right now."
He resists the urge to glide his hands low, to investigate the smooth skin of her thighs and discover if she's actually naked under his Henley. His body rebels against his restraint but Klaus forces himself to remain in control. She's tired and so is he and he'd hate for the first time he's been able to touch her in weeks to be lackluster because of a silly, easily remedied, thing like a lack of stamina.
He's been thinking about it since he left her, had made all sorts of promises over the phone. Ones he fully intends to make good on. Klaus takes a deep breath and slips a hand into her hair, gritting his teeth when she lets out a pleased little moan even as he keeps his caress light. "I'd be happy to hear all about your plans in the morning, love. We'll go to the market, stock up, and I'll make you breakfast, how's that? We've got a good ten days for your plans. And mine."
"Sixteen," she mutters, pressing a kiss to his throat. She pulls back to look at him, a quick flash of that insecurity Klaus loathes crossing his face. "Assuming that's okay with you? My coworker, the one I covered for a while back, offered to handle some things for me in return so I thought…"
The rest of her words are lost under his mouth, his hand in her hair angling her head so he can kiss her deeply. Caroline rises up onto her toes, clutching his shoulders.
He hopes his actions make his thoughts on the matter clear enough, though he makes a mental note to tell her later. An extra six days of Caroline's company is more than okay and she's welcome to surprise him in such a way any time.