Chapter 6

One… two… three,” Klaus had said and they turned on their lights, hands still linked together in the dark.

Caroline had honestly expected to land in water when they had first jumped. It was a wonderful surprise, then, when she found herself rolling along the surface of the rocky island on which they had crashed. But she let go of Klaus’s grip after she flicked on the light of her helmet to see who had landed with her. She was immediately gratified to see that everyone had made it.

Ezra was panting in a crouching position near the lake and Ko was bending over to help her.

It was true that, now, Caroline had no idea how they’d all get back. There was still one boat on shore but she wasn’t about to have anyone traverse the lake again to come get them. For now, she couldn’t even think about it though. Her entire focus was: find the girl, protect the girl.

Secure in the knowledge that her companions had made it to the island safely, she turned to face the inland to find the girl. Her sobs were just a bit further ahead. Caroline longed to call out to her. She had raised enough generations of Bonnie’s children to understand what it felt like to be a mother. It seemed barely a few days since Ridley herself had been that young, whimpering over a bruised knee or hurt feeling.

Caroline wondered if Klaus was effected by the sound as profoundly as she. He was a father now, after all.

In truth, Klaus was effected, though obviously not nearly as much as Caroline herself. Klaus had not miraculously transformed into a new and all-encompassingly compassionate person after having Hope… and yet, each soft cry from the girl ahead gripped at his insides as if he was listening to Hope on the island. He couldn’t help the feelings. Fatherhood instilled innate responses in you.

They all took a few steps further ahead and then, their lights began to illuminate bones. Picked clean but, obviously fresh, they looked human and small. The sound of crying intensified.

And then the beam of light from Caroline’s helmet landed on the wolf.

Still in human form because, as far as Caroline was aware, it wasn’t a full moon, the woman was nonetheless the picture of menacing. Squatting naked in amongst the rocks, covered in dirt and blood, she was gazing at Caroline with wide and frenzied eyes. She was smiling — a broad and challenging grin that practically split open her face to reveal her sharp teeth.

Then, she looked Caroline dead in the eye and let out a small and pitiful sob, the smile never leaving her face.

Caroline’s stomach clenched and then dropped out from under her. It hadn’t been the little girl crying at all. The wolf had imitated the sounds of the child to lure her out here.

Klaus had put it all together himself the same time as she and he came up from behind Caroline to grasp her upper arm fiercely. Caroline found she didn’t even care about the possessive way in which he touched her. This was not the time to be getting irritated with Klaus over small things.

“Let’s go,” he said to her, his voice deep and serious. “The girl is dead.”

She didn’t ask him how he knew because she knew it herself. The blood on the wolf was obviously fresh and human.

As Caroline turned back to Klaus, she sensed something shifting in her peripheral vision in the shadows. Wolves, dozens of them, were crawling out towards them eerily slowly.

“Okay,” she said almost glibly, “Let’s get out of here. I’m open to suggestions on just how we accomplish that!”

It happened in a flash. The wolves stopped crawling out towards them slowly and were now running at them at full speed to attack. The woman who’d been pretending to cry launched herself at Caroline. Her intentions were clear. She was on a mission to bite Caroline.

Moving much faster than he’d needed to in a long time, Klaus came between them and sent the she-wolf flying backwards with a single powerful swipe. His full hybrid features were showing. That didn’t stop the onslaught of wolves that began to surround all of them though, going after all of them.

HOPE!” Klaus roared, suddenly and deafeningly. His only instinct was to gather up Caroline and push her behind him but, next to him, she was too busy defending herself against the wolves. I should have made her drink my blood the second I knew there were wolves down here, was all he could think to himself. A wolf lunged at him and Klaus cleanly snapped its neck.

Back on shore, Hope heard her father’s plea / command as if he’d been right next to her. It could have been an order to leave but she understood the nuances of her father’s tone better than that. They needed help. Without even looking to confirm someone else had heard Klaus shout, Hope lowered her head and began to project her magic.

Phantasma spelunca invoco auxilium. Dividimus aqua. Lux semita. Dividimus aqua. Lux semita,” she chanted, focusing the whole of her attention onto forging a connection with her father.

Before Hayato and Vale’s astounded eyes an otherworldly light began to illuminate in a wide beam beneath the lake’s surface. It traversed the length of the lake all the way out to the island where several of the feral wolves were startled off by the sight of it. The female wolf that had been dueling Caroline, though, wasn’t put off in the least. She was still attacking with a near demonic fury but Caroline was holding her own. She’d gotten so much faster over the years, Klaus noticed. He also noticed that she looked stunning while she was fighting, the veins beneath her eyes dark.

But he couldn’t let himself be distracted now. Hurry daughter, he reached out with his mind. Hope was still steadily chanting back on the shore.

Two things happened simultaneously. The female wolf fighting Caroline managed to wrestle her to the ground and, when she did, Klaus saw her teeth graze the surface of Caroline’s neck and then she bit. At the same moment, Hope’s incantation finally took hold and the water in the lake suddenly began to rise.

Caroline gasped when she saw it happen, genuinely distracted from the fact that she’d been bitten. Klaus wasn’t, though, and he’d promptly sped over to her, killed the wolf plus five more creeping up from behind, and pulled Caroline off of her feet and into her arms.

“What the hell is going on?” she demanded as they all continued to watch the water in the lake swell high above their heads in two towering waves.

“She’s parting the lake,” Klaus replied simply and Caroline knew he meant his daughter.

Ko was staring at the lake absolutely flabbergasted. She’d never seen anything like it. It was like two tsunami waves poised to strike at any moment but being held in perfect stillness. Between the waves, an illuminated path down the bottom of the lake was waiting to lead them back to the shore.

“Oh, lucky for us, Klaus gave birth to freaking Moses?!” Ko half-questioned and half-shrieked.

“She’s the most powerful witch that has ever lived, this is child’s play for her,” he responded simply. Behind them, the wolves were backing off in terror, frightened of the water.

Caroline wasn’t sure why she was still in Klaus’s arms. She decided it must be the sheer shock of what was occurring. She looked down into the lake. Although they could now walk back, the path was not an easy one. The bottom of the lake was, unsurprisingly, not flat. Beneath the water’s surface was a massively deep and wide bed. This was going to be more like traversing a canyon. Well, if Klaus was offering to carry her through it then who was she to stop him, really?

He prepared to speed off but, before he did, he bit into his wrist and offered it to Caroline. She drank from him without question and Ezra and Ko couldn’t help but notice that it was playing out almost like a bizarre little domestic routine between the two of them. When Caroline began to drink, Klaus allowed himself a single moment to shut his eyes in response — a reaction that was only unnoticed by Caroline as she drank.

Klaus let her continue to drink as he sped off across the lake with her in his arms. The others followed behind quickly. None of the wolves dared to follow, scared of the magic they were witnessing.

They’d been miles out from the shore and, now taking a much longer and tougher route back, it wasn’t exactly a quick trip home, even at Klaus’s speed. Once she stopped drinking from him — which was hard because she’d forgotten how good he tasted — she looked at the water walled on either side of them.

The light illuminating the ground underneath them was bright enough that she could finally get a real look at what was in this lake. Really, the water was teeming with life, most of it small. Some of the ugliest fish she’d ever seen in her life swam by and a multitude of spindly crabs and some eyeless squids were all there too. And then, in the distance she saw something swimming in the water next to them.

“Stop,” she requested of Klaus. He did and set her on her feet, seeming to know what she wanted. They both turned to look into the water.

About a hundred yards away, apparently completely oblivious to the fact that his home was currently divided in half was the thing that had terrorized them earlier. Maybe 100 meters long, it looked like a giant serpent or eel and it glided through the water silently and almost elegantly. Even from this distance you keep see it’s sharp snaggle-toothed grin peeking out in odd angles from the creature’s jaw.

“Hoping to attract it’s attention again, darling?” Klaus asked her jokingly.

Caroline visibly shuddered.

“No, let’s keep going,” she said but she didn’t get back into his arms. She continued racing to shore by herself.

Hope was grateful when she first heard them approaching. A spell of this magnitude was not as easy as Klaus had boasted to Ko and keeping it going for this long was wearing her out.

Caroline appeared back first with Klaus quickly by her side. Ezra, Ko, and the hybrids weren’t far behind. The second they were all on shore, Hope released herself from the concentration of the spell. Surprisingly the effect was not too dramatic. Instead of crashing down and flooding anything, the water seemed to slide slowly and purposefully back into its original place.

“Pretty impressive stuff, kid,” Ko commented, patting Hope on the shoulder in awe. “You really saved our asses.”

“No problem,” Hope replied, “What happened out there?”

Klaus crossed over to her and pulled her into a hug. Hope leaned into her father, glad that he was back safe.

“Are you tired?” he asked her quietly and when she nodded he scooped her up into his arms. “We’ll tell you the whole story back in the city.”

“Good plan,” Caroline replied behind him. “I think we’re all ready to get out of here.”

They told bits and pieces of the story on the way back up to the city. Before long, though, troubling sounds in the distance interrupted their tale. Alarms, Caroline recognized, grimly. She knew the sound well.

Once they were back in the city, they were met by pandemonium. Parameter guards were racing around and it looked like every member of the militia was out in full force. Alarms were going off everywhere, particularly in the direction of the labs.

“What the hell is going on?” Caroline demanded, flashing over to one of the city guards.

“Wolves,” he replied grimly, “From all over the caves. They’re surrounding the city. Where have you been? No one has been able to find any of you for hours!”

“The wolves lured us down to the lake,” she explained.

“They were trying to kill you,” Klaus said, stepping up behind her to voice his suspicions. “You very specifically I think, Caroline. First they tried using the dangers in the lake and, when that didn’t work, they specifically took down you to bite.”

“Is that true Caroline?” Hayato asked in concern.

Hayato’s tone sent a shockwave of jealousy through Klaus’s system so violent, he was sure it must have shown on his face. He wanted to snap the man’s neck almost as badly as the she-wolf that bit Caroline.

“It’s a working theory,” she answered casually. “But that’s pure speculation, we don’t know anything for sure. Is the situation contained?” she asked the guard.

He began to exchange logistics with Caroline and Klaus turned back to his family.

Alright, enough was enough, Klaus was not prepared to keep them here in the midst of a war with the wolves. He motioned to a hybrid and ordered him to prepare the plane. Surely they’d had time to refuel it by now. Hope looked at him with wide, unbelieving eyes. We’re leaving already? Vale and Ezra didn’t look too pleased either.

Caroline was clearly finishing up sending off the guard with a set of orders and Hope made a pointed gesture in the blonde’s direction. Well? What about Caroline?

"Caroline we're leaving," Klaus told her when she was facing their group again. Tell me you want to come back with us. Tell me, tell me, tell me, tell me…

"Fine, go!" Caroline shouted back, far too concerned with the alarms going off in her city to give him a second thought. Minus that clenching in your stomach.

"Not without you!" Klaus demanded in return.

She whirled on him with wide and unbelieving eyes. Really, Klaus? Would you like to rephrase your answer in the form of a question?

"If you want to leave, fine, we can fight our own battles here. But I am not abandoning my city."

"Dammit, Caroline, I have not just found you now only to lose you a few hours later!" he raged. Somewhere in the caves beyond them a fire had broken out and thick black smoke was pouring down over top of them.

Caroline narrowed her eyes at him when he said that. “Newsflash, I have never been yours to lose!”

And on that note, Ko approached deftly from behind Caroline and snapped her friend’s neck.

Klaus looked behind Caroline in shock, effortlessly catching her limp frame in his arms as she toppled over. He didn’t know whether to thank Ko or beat her senseless. Next to her, her brother Hayato didn’t look anything more than nonplussed.

“The wolves are launching an attack to get Caroline,” Ko explained shortly. “They’ve had a vendetta against her for years because they see her as responsible for driving them into the lower caves, breaking up their packs, and decimating their population.”

“She won’t listen to us,” Hayato lamented. “She’s convinced herself that the wolves will never be smart enough to hold personal grudges.”

While it was true that the infected wolves he’d encountered here in Chiang Mai were by far the smartest he’d ever seen in the rabid population, he could have told Caroline himself that sick wolves were still capable of grudges. Jackson had been proof enough of that.

“What are you telling me?” Klaus growled at them, unbelieving as the still very limp Caroline was draped in his arms. Behind them, the source of the smoke suddenly exploded with fire and the sound of an animalistic bellow echoed off the walls of the caves. What in God’s name was that? What sort of creatures were down here with them?

“We’re saying get her on your plane!” Ko insisted, now trying to direct them back up towards the direction of the hanger where their plane waited. “If Chiang Mai loses Caroline, the blow to morale will be devastating. If you get her out of here for a few months, we can take care of the wolves while they’re not on an active assassination attempt!”

“We needed someone to come back and help us with our research base anyway,” Hope joined in as they began to walk.

“It’s not permanent,” Hayato said softly, once again sending a wave of jealousy surge through Klaus, even amidst the siege. “Tell her when she wakes up that we’ll keep in touch with her; she’ll be informed of everything that happens.”

Klaus genuinely hesitated. This was completely against Caroline’s will. She would not like it. And, further, she’d blame it all on him. He hadn’t been lying when he said he wouldn’t leave without her; he also hadn’t been entirely sure what he planned to do about that after he set the words free. Ko had simply taken care of the problem for them.

If she really makes too much of a fuss, we can always take her back, he reasoned… knowing damn well that the second he saw her in his home in LV that he’d be hard pressed into giving her up again. Ah well, he’d cross that bridge when he came to it.

He caught Rebekah’s eye and handed over Caroline’s limp form.

“Get her and everyone else into the plane,” Klaus directed before singling out two hybrids, a brother and sister. “You two, come with me. We’re going to gather the Bennett witch.”

Ridley had been angrily holed up back in the bungalow she shared with Caroline for hours now. At first she had simply been pissed to be left behind. She didn’t worry too quickly because she knew any chase after the wolves would be time consuming. Then the alarms had started and they still hadn’t stopped.

Caroline often valued Ridley’s assistance in fighting when they were on their home turf — she just didn’t like Ridley joining her in uncharted areas. But, when Caroline wasn’t actually present to give any orders, Ridley was under strict rule to stay safe and stay home. Caroline only wanted the girl fighting if she was there to make sure everything was okay.

Thus, being trapped in their apartment with nothing to do but crane her neck out their windows, she was flooded with relief when someone swished open the drape their entryway and stormed in.

But it was not Caroline. It was Klaus Mikaelson.

Ridley stood completely still in the middle of the apartment, acknowledging him with wide uncertain eyes. She’d never seen a hybrid before but she could tell his features were showing. His eyes glowed yellow and his double fangs were just showing beneath his lips. He glowered down at her. Klaus was terrifying as hell.

“No time to pack,” he addressed her, “We’re leaving.”

“Leaving?” Ridley asked, still very much in shock at his presence. “Where are we going?”

“To my plane,” he replied simply, grasping the witch tightly around her upper arm and wrenching her along with him. It was the same gesture he’d made with Caroline earlier only, instead of grabbing her with possessiveness, he grabbed Ridley in almost a certain panic. He had no desire to be without Hope or Caroline for even a second right now but, this witch was clearly like something of a daughter to Caroline. Leaving her would be like Caroline leaving Hope behind and Klaus knew he could never stand to see Caroline’s heart broken in that way.

“Where’s Caroline?!” Ridley demanded shrilly.

“Your mother is on the plane, waiting for us,” he said. He had picked her up now and she obligingly latched onto his back after hearing that Caroline was waiting. Although she chose to ignore the fact that he’d referred to her as Ridley’s mother.

Truth be told, Klaus was simply glad she’d acquiesced so easily. The girl may have looked like her grandmother, but this was no Bonnie. The last Bennett witch he’d encountered had enough experience with his family to no longer truly fear them. Ridley did not have that experience and, thus, was terrified of the Mikaelsons.

Racing at full speed, they were back up to arena in minutes. Everyone else had already boarded but his hybrids who were waiting for him surrounding the plane. He placed Ridley onto her feet, nudging her to the right direction. Before he followed her onto the plane her turned to the sibling hybrids who had accompanied him to fetch Bonnie.

“I have a feeling you already know what I plan to request of you…” he began.

Once Ridley caught sight of Caroline on that plane, her will to fight returned with a vengeance. Caroline was passed out, her neck snapped at a funny angle. Though it was quickly heeling, she was clearly here against her will. How did they get her onto the plane without anyone stopping them?

Sending out a surge of pure power fueled by her rage and concern for Caroline, Ridley released a staggeringly powerful headache on the immortal occupants of the plane.

And just as quickly, Hope shut the whole charade down with a cool and concentrated blink. The force of the minuscule action was enough to easily interrupt Ridley’s spell and send the young girl spilling out onto the floor of the plane. Ezra promptly offered her a hand up but Ridley ignored it.

“I don’t think so, Ridley. I wouldn’t try that again if I were you,” Hope told her calmly. “I’m a witch too and I’ve been practicing magic many hundreds of years longer than you.”

Ridley glared back at Hope sullenly. “I was led here under false pretenses,” she spat out angrily.

“Well, if he told you Caroline agreed,” Rebekah spoke up, “Then yes, that was a lie. But we’re getting you out of here for your safety. The wolves are after Caroline.”

“And you’re not here permanently,” Klaus said, finally stepping up behind her on the plane with his hybrids… notably minus two of them. “We’ll get Ko and Hayato on the radio to explain everything when she wakes.”

“Until then,” Vale started, “Has anyone offered you a drink? You really look like you could use one…”

“Just whose liquor do you think you’re handing out, boy?” Klaus spat at him.

The plane’s engine began to rumble and, over top of them, the roof to the arena began to part. Slowly and steadily, they rose into the air where their jet was consumed by cascading black smoke within seconds.

It was less than an hour before Caroline had fully recovered and began to awaken. Before she even opened her eyes, the first thing she noticed was the thick, overpowering scent of smoke clogging the air around her.

Her eyes snapped open with a gasp. Klaus, who had been patiently watching her this whole time, not giving a damn who else saw him stare, had to physically hold himself back from rising immediately to rush to her side.

Caroline sat up, taking in her surroundings. Comfortingly, her eyes alighted on Ridley first but then she saw Klaus and Hope next to him. Across from them sat Rebekah who was actually playing a game of chess with Vale, much to Hope’s delight.

She processed the fact that they appeared to be in the cabin of a plane. And then she saw the smoke flowing outside behind the windows.

“Where the hell are we, Klaus?” she shrieked, vamp speeding up from the sofa on which she’d been resting.

Turning to the table next to him, he grabbed a glass of champagne which he offered to her. “Can I offer you a drink while we talk about all of this, love?” he asked her.

She smacked it out of his hand, not caring when it soaked the carpet of the plane and certainly not caring if it seemed uncivil. Hope ungracefully stifled a giggle next to her father, making him narrow his eyes. Even Rebekah, Ridley, and Vale were exchanging amused glances. Only Ezra seemed to feel truly uncomfortable about the whole scenario.

“Did you snap my neck?” she demanded.

“I would never,” Klaus answered, not entirely sure himself how honest that statement was. If he’d truly been worried about her life being in imminent danger at that moment, he may have considered the move himself. He would never really know and would, hopefully, never be confronted by a similar scenario. “How could you ever think for one second that I’d do anything to harm that beautiful neck of yours? You know how fond I am of it.”

Next to him, Hope finally gave up on trying to be mature and made a gagging motion with her hand before leaving the seat to go watch her aunt and boyfriend play chess. Ridley was still watching the scene unfold with interest though. Yes, she was still intimidated by the Mikaelsons but, Klaus had ultimately let her in on his plan and, as it turned out, Ridley had a very vested interest in him succeeding to convince their mutual blonde friend.

“Then how the hell am I up here?” she insisted, growing angrier by the second. Part of him hated for her to be looking at him like that and he had to hold his ground not to immediately lapse into his guilty-wolf look which he knew very well she thought was charming. It would have been a cheap tactic.

“You can thank your friend Ko, actually. Hayato too,” he said, hating even the sound of the other man’s name though he had no reason to expect that Caroline harbored feelings for him beyond friendship. “They’re on the radio now…”

“Caroline?” Ko’s static-y voice broke through. Caroline raced into the cockpit where she immediately pulled on a set of headphones, slamming the door shut behind her for a long conversation.

She came out about a half an hour later. Ko and Hayato had raked her over the coals about the danger. They’d insisted that, with her gone, the wolves would temporarily retreat and they could catch them off guard. Once they’d wiped them out, Caroline could come back. Didn’t she trust them? That one had stung.

But no, she insisted that they be taken down. The hybrid pilot in the cockpit next to her had informed her that Klaus had ordered the plane be kept circling Chiang Mai for awhile. They weren’t headed to Vegas yet.

“Alright, nice try but no cigar,” Caroline said as she emerged from the cockpit after ending her radio call with Ko. “We’re going back now.”

She saw the visible disappointment flash on Ridley’s face. Though she’d earlier been bested by Hope, Klaus’s daughter had gone out of her way to invite Ridley into the fold while they waited for Caroline to awaken. She wanted to know all about what they did for fun in Chiang Mai and then launched into great detail about parties in Vegas, leaving out a lot of important details thanks to her father’s presence. Vale and Ezra had been friendly too; Vale was adorable but clearly head over heels for Hope. Ezra, though, was the most guarded. She kept glancing towards Caroline uncomfortably.

“I want to offer you a deal Caroline,” Klaus said firmly. His tone did nothing to placate her wrath.

“There is no deal in the world, Klaus, and I don’t care what you or Ko has to say about it,” Caroline fumed. “Now get us back down to Chiang Mai this instant!”

“Caroline, two of my hybrids have agreed to reside in Chiang Mai permanently,” Klaus said. “They are willing to help in your research.”

That did get her attention. Hybrid blood was one of the few things they hadn’t been able to use in their research yet. They’d never had access to it over all these years. Still, that wasn’t going to make her agree to leave. She opened her mouth to continue her protest but he interrupted her.

“Additionally, if you agree to accompany me in Las Vegas for six months to aid in our research,” Klaus said, “I will see to it that a modest supply of my blood is delivered to Chiang Mai each month for as long as you request.”

“You’re blood?” she asked. She couldn’t believe it.

“To do with as you see fit… you can use it to research a cure or just as protection against your problem with the wolves,” he offered. “You were, yourself, bitten just today. Wouldn’t you like to protect your friends?”

Caroline couldn’t shake herself of the feeling that Klaus had just offered her something more profound than he’d ever even considered giving to anyone else.

“It’s only six months,” Ridley said softly next to her. Caroline sighed. She already knew Ridley’s vote. Ridley had never left Chiang Mai before.

Caroline pinched the bridge of her nose while she considered it. Six months seemed like a very a long time to leave her home. But she had been in that city for over 60 years.

“Alright,” she said finally. “Six months and not a day longer. That should be plenty of time to get you up to speed on our research but we’ll have to work hard. This is all about exchanging lab notes.”

She said it like she was lecturing him already. The thought made him grin. Caroline couldn’t help the fact that her knees felt like jelly when she saw his dimples again. She actually had to turn away and stop looking at him. She did so under the guise of turning to look at Ridley but, Caroline had a pretty good feeling that both of them had seen the emotion in her eyes.

“Yes ma’am,” Klaus replied immediately, pleased by her reaction to his smile. Ridley was smiling too, sharing an excited squeal with Ezra and Hope before casting a knowing glance towards Caroline. Care wasn’t the type to be bullied or bribed — or any combination of the two — into doing something she didn’t want to do. Which meant, deep down, some part of Caroline genuinely did want to visit Vegas for six months. Ridley didn’t even dare to speculate the reasons why at this point, although it was becoming incredibly clear…

Hope couldn’t really believe her dad had pulled it off but Rebekah wasn’t surprised. Caroline was fooling herself if she was still denying the magnetism between herself and Nik. Her brother had bought himself a fair amount of time with the woman but, honestly, Rebekah was betting that Caroline’s walls would come down a lot sooner than six months.

When the two blondes made eye contact, Rebekah could very clearly see that Caroline was currently worrying over the very same thing.
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