"I don't know what you're talking about, Alaric."
Alaric doesn't respond as he grabs the drinks from the counter and begins to walk back toward the guys outside at the tables. I walk swiftly to keep up with him.
I feel my eyes narrow as he sits a drink down in front of everyone, excluding Jeremy, and then takes a casual seat next to Damon. He has yet to respond to my statement. Maybe he believes I really don't know what he's talking about.
"So Klaus," Alaric begins, "Care to tell Stefan and Damon here how it felt?"
I clear my throat.
"How what felt exactly, Alaric?"
"How it felt when you shoved that stake through my chest? When you watched me gag on my own blood?"
Alaric rises quickly from his chair with his untouched glass in his hand, and makes his way over to Matt and Jeremy.
"You wanna see how these two choke on their own blood, too?"
He quickly brings up his champagne flute and cracks it against the end of the table. He is left holding a sharp piece of glass in his hand as he harshly rakes the shard against Jeremy's neck, and then Matt's. The two boys limply fall to the ground, and their dead eyes seem to be looking straight at me. It almost feels as though they're looking through me; like they know my deepest, darkest secrets.
Like they know just how dark my soul really is.
"So, you want to go get the boys here a round of drinks or not?"
My eyes dart up to Alaric standing over me as a genuine smile graces his features. I can almost feel my dead heartbeat; thumping in my chest. It has an eerie resemblance to that Poe story where the beating of the murderer's own heart simply drove him mad. I can hear Alaric's heart thumping away in my head. I can hear him choking on his own blood. The hushed, gargling noises his throat makes as blood blocks his airways--
"Klaus? You coming or not?"
I open my mouth to answer just as Damon hops up.
"Ah forget it, Ric. Let us real men get the alcohol." Damon clasps his hand on Alaric's shoulder and guides him toward the house.
Matt and Jeremy rise a few seconds later.
"Yeah, we're going to go see what's up with Elena and everyone. Care looked upset. Do you know what happened, Mr. Mikaelson?" Matt asks.
I would not betray Caroline.
"Sorry, Matt, but no I don't. I'm sure the girls have solved the problem, though."
"Yeah, I guess you're right, Mr. Mikaelson. Elena and Bonnie are usually the pick-me-up Caroline needs." I don't fail to notice the smile that twitches at Jeremy's lips as he says Bonnie's name.
My vision moves to the right of Jeremy, and I see the three women walking down from the patio's ledge; gravitating toward us. Jeremy moves from the area he's standing in and quickly takes his rightful place at Bonnie's side. Matt soon follows after Jeremy waves him over. Bonnie and Caroline playfully loop their arms together with Elena as Matt and Jeremy lead the girls to the makeshift dance floor.
I look over and see Stefan smiling softly in Elena's direction as she dances around with her friends. It's his genuine smile that makes envy course through my veins. I cannot understand why, though. I've been virtually alone since the day it was discovered that I was unlike my siblings. So, why am I silently fuming over a two hundred year old vampire's unrequited love for a seventeen year old high school student? A high school student that just happens to be in one of my classes; just like Caroline.
Why do my thoughts always seem to direct themselves to her name, or rather to her pure existence? I can't even imagine that the centuries before her actually happened. I can't imagine that centuries after her will happen.
"Why don't we take a walk, Klaus? Unless you want to show us some dance moves from the last five decades?" A grin breaks out on Stefan's face as I rise and start to walk with him toward the weather-worn path.
"Very funny. If I remember correctly, you aren't that young yourself."
"One hundred and sixty-two as of last month." The bitterness in his tone doesn't escape me as we pause a little ways away from the party.
"I can't tell if you're being nostalgic right now or not."
He lets out a deep sigh.
"Maybe I am. One hundred and forty-five years ago, that was a better time. A better place."
"I was human, Klaus. I was the normal, seventeen year old, Stefan Salvatore."
"And maybe that Stefan would've been a better fit for humanity than this one."
I feel my eyes roll involuntarily.
"Again with the humanity? Believe it or not, that ship has sailed, mate. The moment you died with vampire blood in your system that ship was long gone."
Stefan and I approach an old, time-worn bench and sit down. He immediately runs his hands over his face as he leans down so that his elbows rest on his lap. His eyes dart over to the dance floor in the distance.
"If I let myself believe that, then I have to let myself believe that I'm truly no good for her."
Even though I know he isn't talking about her, my eyes follow Stefan's. Although the dance floor is far away for human sight, I can clearly see every detail; including her smile. Caroline's smile as she twirls around Matt is breath taking. My eyes are following her, and it is apparent that my response to Stefan is more of an admittance to myself.
"Maybe you're not."
I peer down at the paper that is already covered in red pen. How our society can even get out of bed in the morning astounds me. The fact that the current student's paper has called Macbeth "a pretty okay dude" is enough to make me slowly slide the stack of ungraded papers to the far left corner of my desk. I then place the current paper that I've started grading on top of the stack.
I let my eyes wander over to the window. The sun is high in the sky, so light shines brightly through the clear, business-like glass. It's past two in the afternoon. I should be at home reading or painting; especially since I'm done with class for the day. But no. I'm here grading mediocre essays about a play that wasn't even that good. Horrible, actually.
A knock on the door catches my attention. It's most likely that vampire hunting buffoon Alaric. I decide to answer in the most uninterested voice I can manage.
"Yes. Come in."
"Mr. Mikaelson? Sorry if you're busy."
I quickly stand up.
She awkwardly looks down at the boxes in her hand. I clear my throat.
"Uh, I mean, what brings you here?"
Caroline smiles a little as she shrugs her shoulders.
"It's my job to decorate some posters for the pep rally Friday, and usually I just sit in the gym and do it, but they're having basketball practice in there and I'm afraid they'd knock something over with the ball. I passed by your door and I saw that the lights were still on." She twists her mouth into a button shape as she looks down at the boxes still being balanced in her arms. Even though I can tell they are feather light, I still have to fight the urge I have to gently withdraw the boxes from her grasp, while letting my hands touch hers in the process.
"And you were wondering if you could decorate the poster boards in here?” She finally looks up at me, and smiles softly. I can't say no to that smile. “Sure. You won't be bothering me."
She smiles wider as she seems to be controlling her own excitement.
"Are you sure, Mr. Mikaelson? I was going to budge my way into Alaric's classroom if it wasn't okay."
"Nonsense, Caroline. There's all kinds of space, peace, and quiet in here. Have at it."
I don't let her respond as I move to take a seat back at my desk. I reluctantly grab the horrid stack of papers and begin reading again. I don't want to seem like I'm paying too much attention to Caroline. Even if I am.
After what seems like hours of silence, her voice finally fills the air.
"Elena was suppose to help me with this, you know."
I raise my eyebrows in acknowledgment, and she takes it as a sign to go on.
"Lately, it seems like Elena has devoted her entire life to the Salvatore brothers." She pauses to let out an empty chuckle. "I mean, yes, I understand that there has to be room for romanticism and whatever else. I have Tyler so I can say I understand what it's like, but there also has to be room for other things besides that. Like just the other day Elena calls and says she can't make it to practice. And that's not the first time she's called with that news! I just feel like sometimes it's okay to not be sharing a rib cage with your boyfriend. Plus, Damon's a little bit shifty to me to begin with, but when I bring it up, do you think Elena listens? No."
I'm openly staring at Caroline as she starts to glitter the letters on the poster board with more fervor than I've ever seen. I can't find it in me to stop staring, though. She's a magnificent creature. Unfortunately, she notices my ogling immediately.
"Oh my gosh! I'm sorry. I'm sitting here just rambling on and on about things you definitely don't care about. Sorry."
"On the contrary, Caroline. It's quite ravishing to see how much you truly care about your friend Elena."
Caroline smiles in thanks as she starts to glitter the letters normally again. I continue talking for reasons that are beyond me.
"For someone to care that much about a person that isn't related to them, biologically or not, is amazing to me. The love that is in your friendship is almost tangible."
"Yeah. It's always been that way. Just me, Elena, and Bonnie. Well, until the Salvatore brothers showed up."
"Why do you think it's different now?"
Caroline starts to pack up her things as she lays a few poster boards in the back of the room to dry.
"I'll get those before your first class starts tomorrow so don't worry about them distracting your students. And to answer your question, I can't put my finger on it, but Elena's different somehow. Have you ever been so close with someone that even if the slightest, little change in them occurs, you catch it?"
I get out of my seat to help Caroline with the door.
"I can't say that I have."
"Have you never had a friend or what, Mr. Mikaelson?"
Her smile slowly drops as she sees the serious look on my face.
"Again, I can't say that I have. Have a good rest of your day, Caroline."
I shut the door behind me before Caroline can even reply.
How could I have let myself get so angry? It's not her fault that life has treated her so well that she is ignorant to the difficulties that are truly encountered during life. Well, mostly during my life.
I stalk over to the fire place and lean against it as I take a long, soothing drink of blood. I look toward the blue and orange flame, and close my eyes.
"Mother, why does Niklaus always sit by himself by the tree whenever all of us go outside to play?"
I lift my head up slightly in the dimly lit room. I can see the shadows of my mother and Rebekah being cast across the room by the slowly burning fire.
"Rebekah, Niklaus is different. It's a good different, but to others it may not look to be."
"What do you mean?"
"I mean that people won't, and probably never will, understand your brother."
"But why, mother? Niklaus doesn't make fun of me like Elijah or Kol do, and when he actually does play, he's more fun than anyone else in the village."
"Your brother is ahead of his time. He'd rather draw, write, and learn. Learning is what he was born to do. There will come a time though, Rebekah, when Niklaus will be at a loss as to what he needs to learn next. That will be when he needs you the most. That is why that no matter what he does, or what he doesn't do, you have to promise that you will love him. Always and forever."
"I can't mother."
"And why can't you, daughter?"
"Because Niklaus doesn't love me. He doesn't love anyone."
I blink my eyes open.
"I'm in the living room, Rebekah."
Her pace quickens as she hurries into the room.
"So, we're hosting a dinner party tomorrow night. Well, more like a dinner. Just dinner. With Matt, Caroline, and Tyler."
My throat seems to constrict on its own.