got balls of steel, got an automobile for a minimum wage
Stefan's teaching me how to drive, Rebekah says.
She's not familiar with any of the modern day cars yet, seeing as she's been daggered since the 20's, and whose fault was that? Klaus looks back blankly, because it really isn't his problem if she wants to drive. It's especially not his problem if the person she wants to learn how to drive from is Stefan Salvatore. It isn't until she brings up Kol that Klaus begrudgingly relinquishes his rare, Model X Duesenberg to her after she begs and wheedles one day, with only a slight smirk on her face.
"You'd do well to understand the brevity of this situation," he says gravely. "The condition you see her in now is how I want to see her when you're done."
She merely smiles in return and cheerfully jingles the keys, and Klaus decides he doesn't trust her enough with his baby.
Sighing, he snaps his sketchbook shut. And that is how he ends up glowering in the backseat of his vintage car while Rebekah insists on bumping into every curb she encounters, Stefan rubbing his eyes wearily beside her.
If Stefan's uncomfortable being cooped up in the box of a car with two increasingly grumpy Originals, he doesn't show it. The only time he's showing signs of wear and tear is when they spot Caroline walking down the sidewalk to her own non-self-destructing car.
"Caroline!" he calls, and she blinks in surprise, just a little confused.
He leans out of the window, hair barely peeking through. "Get in."
"Um." She pauses in mock thought. "No?" Who can blame her reluctance, really? Rebekah's in the front seat, gripping the steering wheel the way one would grip the ledge of a building should they accidentally fall from a window; Stefan's hair is sticking at odd angles and he's got his crazy eyes going on, and Klaus is spouting out death threats 80 miles an hour should Rebekah get a millimeter of a scratch on his car.
He leans out further, and his voice drops a notch. "Please. I'm losing my mind and need a friendly face. Please, Caroline." He's this close to clasping her hands, but the window's too cramped for that. "Please. For my sanity."
"You're on your own, pardner," she giggles at her attempt of talking cowboy.
"Get in the damn car, Caroline." Stefan's jaw is set. "Or I'll tell Damon what I found the last time I was at y—"
She drops her shopping bags on the sidewalk and roughly yanks the door open (Klaus winces) and shoots inside. "I'm in, I'm in!"
(Stefan looks satisfied, Rebekah glares, Caroline looks resigned and Klaus is trying hard not to smile as Caroline's knee threatens to brush against his.)
Step on the clutch, Rebekah, Stefan says.
Remember the hand-brakes, Rebekah, he says.
Watch out for that kid, Rebekah! he yells when she accidentally careens into a park.
Check the side-mirror every so often, Rebekah, he says.
No, not to see if your lipstick's still in place, Rebekah, he says.
Stefan's starting to grow weary after only an hour – and he's starting to regret asking Caroline to come along since she's no help at all: all she does is roll her eyes and tut (loudly) when Rebekah manages to stall the car or stop dead in the middle of a long procession of cars, or demand (loudly) that Klaus keeps his hands off of her, or squeals (loudly) at every ice-cream parlour they pass by.
Later, when Klaus and Caroline are reclining on a blanket on some tufts of grass (they had reached their limit when they had slammed into the side of the car enough times to ensure the door wouldn't work anymore) and Rebekah's gotten used to making U-turns without taking down a tree, Stefan asks why she can't just use one of Kol's many shiny new cars — he'd taken a liking to sleek black cars after Damon lends the Originals his Dark Knight DVDs — instead of Klaus's sardine can of a car. There's no doubt that Klaus truly did love the car; its paint job was magnificent and there was not a rust or creak in sight when he lifted the hood out of curiosity. But really, nothing could compare to Kol's SLR McLaren Mercedes, which could probably run at vampire speed if forced.
"It reminds me of old times," Rebekah shrugs, glancing at the overhead mirror to admire her eyebrows, and not the road behind them as Stefan had "politely" suggested she do. "The last time Nik and you shared genuine laughter. Better times. A time where my life wasn't being plagued by absolutely nocuous brunette wenches."
"A lot of vulgarity for one sentence, don't you think?" Stefan says mildly, but lets it slide. The car jerks, and Stefan grips her wrist, his teeth gritting together. "Raise the clutch slowly, Rebekah." He pinches the bridge of his nose. "Honestly, sometimes I think you forget on purpose."
Rebekah determinedly looks ahead of her, and doesn't hit a single curb for the next half an hour, the amount of time it took for her cheeks to return to its normal color.
This doesn't make any sense, Caroline says.
Because really, she can't take it any longer. "Why are you doing this?"
"Doing what, love?" Klaus murmurs, not looking up from his sketchbook. His casual lounged position on the blanket irks her, and his non-attempts of trying to touch her after she had shot off on him are also irking her. Because seriously, if he isn't annoying her then what else is she supposed to do while waiting out Rebekah joyriding.
"Letting Stefan teach Rebekah how to drive."
Klaus raises his eyes to hers and sends her a pointed look as the air is pierced with Rebekah's screams and Stefan's rare curses as they almost land in a ditch. "That's why."
Caroline rolls her eyes and props herself up on her elbows. "No, I meant – why are you letting Stefan teach Rebekah how to drive? Aren't you worried he's going to dagger her or something?"
Klaus chuckles. "Sweetheart, there was once a time where Stefan was my best friend. Despite what he is now, I'd further trust him to dagger Rebekah just as I trust your precious Tyler ever making it back to Mystic Falls."
Her eyes flash, but just as she's about to retort, Klaus growls, "And I will let Rebekah do anything she wants. If she wants to spend the last thirty days of her life learning how to drive from a newly-martyred Ripper, so be it."
Caroline tries not to feel guilty by focusing on a patch of daisies, and thinking of Tyler's abs.
It doesn't work.
The spell didn't work the way it should have, Bonnie says.
"The way it should have?" Damon raises an eyebrow and waves his drink in her direction. "Explain."
Bonnie's eyebrows furrow and she taps her nails against the table. Elena is keeping a firm distance from her – as she should, since her mother is still in transition – all the way across the sitting room. Stefan's leaning against the bookshelf, hands in his pockets and eyes on the floor.
"Since you tur—since the spell was interrupted—" Bonnie has to swallow before continuing. "Esther didn't have time to channel enough power to kill them immediately." She eyes each one of them, but they all stare blankly back at her, eyebrows furrowed.
It's Caroline who gets it. "How long?" she asks softly.
Bonnie purses her lips together, a hint of triumph in her voice. "The next full moon."
I'm really sorry you have to go through this again, Elena says.
Elena is put to the task of telling Elijah – after all, it's the least she could do after lying to him before — and he takes it surprisingly well. No kidnappings or veiled threats follow, and he even offers her some mint tea.
She sniffs at it suspiciously, then turns to him. "You were willing to kill me to save your lives before." She presses her lips together, wondering if it'd be too soon to say, but nothing – not even bad etiquette – was going to save them from their fate anyway. "What changed?"
He shrugs and sips, ignoring how scalding it is. "Perhaps Esther was right."
(Elena ignores how he no longer calls Esther mother.)
"Finn was miserable; Kol's constantly looking for entertainment. And Klaus… just kills and kills and kills." He sighs. "Maybe it is our time." He looks at her over the rim of his teacup. She almost wants to laugh at the sight: Elijah in his omnipresent suit, sitting on a dainty chair and sipping from a dainty teacup that she bets Rebekah had chosen herself — but doesn't. She feels nothing but remorse, and surprisingly, pain. There isn't much cause to laugh.
"A thousand years is a long time," he says, and his tone is almost gentle. Enough to make blink owlishly at him, stunned. Enough to make her have to lower her teacup before the contents spilled over.
Elijah surprises her once again by taking her hand when it starts to shake. It should be the other way around, she wants to say.
He should be crying into his cup of mint tea, not her, she wants to say.
He should be the one in her arms, not her, she wants to say.
Instead, she sniffs and rests her head against Elijah's shoulder. She decides that there isn't much cause to talk right now.
I refuse to let you lot have fun without me, Kol says.
He tags along on Rebekah's next drive out. Every time Caroline shifts in her seat (because despite everything she's Googled about Klaus's car and all the ravings about plush leather upholstery, it isn't enough to provide a comfortable position when squeezed between Klaus and his mysterious sketchbook and Kol and his smug glances).
There's only so much ground to cover in Mystic Falls, and Caroline soon finds that Rebekah's leading them out of town, past the Welcome to Mystic Falls! Population: 515 sign and soon sees rolling green hills and brilliant blue skies all around. Rebekah's laughing into the wind (she wanted the top rolled down, Klaus had grouchily agreed), Kol's lips are playing at a hint of a smile, Klaus actually looks up from his sketchbook to shoot Caroline an appreciative glance, and Stefan actually looks like he's enjoying himself.
That is, until Rebekah takes a wrong turning and they find themselves rumbling down a dirt road with grooves of hard mud and tree roots poking out.
"Maybe—maybe we should turn around?" Caroline calls out after a bump leaves them bouncing in the backseat.
"Forget that, maybe we should stop?" Klaus snarls as a branch scratches the side of the car.
"I don't know how!" Rebekah has a death grip on the steering wheel. "I don't know how!"
"What, how to turn around or stop?" Kol glares into the overhead mirror.
"Of course!" Kol's hands are thrown into the air from exasperation, and not because Rebekah had attempted to stop the car from turning the steering wheel sharply. Stefan's trying to steady her, but a branch thwacks him in the face. He shifts and the whole car shifts with him, and they start to crash into a ditch, only it wasn't a ditch, it was a fucking ravine, and Caroline's hands fly out to grip the seat in front of her – instead she manages to catch Klaus's shoulder as he slams painfully against her own—
Kol's yelling something like, "A fat lot of good these driving lessons are!" while trying to grip the seats in front of him—
"Don't press the throt—use the handbrakes, Rebekah!"
"I don't know how!"
"It's the one by your hand—yeah, let it coast—yeah, pull it, Rebekah!"
Rebekah tugs and it wrenches off from the floor with a clang—
Klaus gives a strangled cry—
"No—no, don't pani—" Stefan's head hits the windshield. "Press down on the clutch and break!"
"I don't know h—I don't know how!"
Klaus is torn between holding on to the door, which keeps banging open, or his sketchbook—
Kol is growling out every curse word under the sun—
Caroline keeps screaming We're going to die we're going to die we're going to die! and Rebekah is screaming back We're already dead you daft dimbo—
Stefan keeps yelling THE BRAKES. THE BRAKES, REBEKAH. ON THE RIGHT. STEP ON THE BRAKES ON THE RIGHT.
The car keeps rolling down and they can't see anything in the pitch blackness, and there's a loud crash and all at once everyone's mingled screams die down, because the car isn't crashing through the thicket anymore. The moon peeks through the clouds, clear and bright, enough to show that Klaus's eyes are screwed shut in pain.
He's fine; Elijah's fine, Elena says.
"I heard a crash, didn't sound fine to me," Damon huffs, crossing his arms. "What happened?"
Elijah's lip curled in mild disgust. "There was some dried vervain behind these books." He gestures to where Stefan usually keeps the books on their family history. Not that there had been much to record. For the last 146 years it had just been him and Damon, after all.
"Well, somebody's got to keep your paws off his journals." Damon spares him a smile as Elijah wrings his hands, getting rid of the bumps that had formed on his skin. Elena picks up the picture frame that had fallen off the mantelpiece when Elijah had withdrew his hand in a hurry.
Her hair is rumpled and there are dark circles under her eyes, from thinking things that are way beyond her capacity to control. Bonnie still avoids her like the plague, claiming indifference when Elena asks her what's wrong. Damon knocks on her door at night, asking if she's alright. She's taken to sleeping at the Salvatore's for the past few nights because the house is eerily silent with Jeremy gone and Alaric at the hospital. Elijah comes and goes, and Damon bites his tongue from remarking anything because he may be an asshole, but he's a kind asshole and thought that maybe Elijah would appreciate his remaining days on earth hanging out with his human bestie.
That's not to say he hasn't been curious about the muffled conversations he hears in passing as he ventures from room to room, whiskey in hand, unable to sleep himself. The whispers usually start around 11 (after Elijah comes in at around 10:45, always armed with a box of macaroons and a tight smile for Damon), he'd hear maybe a raised voice or two, and sometimes laughter. This draws out until the crickets stop chirping around 4am. That's when he'd usually hear Elijah leaving.
He'd usually stand in her doorway after knocking, Are you alright?
She'd give him a smile that eerily mirrors Elijah's.
He'll let himself feel an inch of relief before gesturing, Can I…?
She looks at him, really looks at him, and slowly shakes her head.
Damon nods curtly and turns around, closing the door soundlessly behind him.
You need to get over it, Caroline says.
She rolls her eyes and turns over, lounging on the cool grass next to Klaus, who has his arm over his eyes. (They didn't bother with the blanket this time as Kol was too busy tormenting Rebekah with it by whipping across the street at vamp speed and covering up the windshield when he decided the night needed to be pierced by her shrieks).
"Caroline," Klaus groans. "Dear sweet naïve Caroline. You don't understand. That was a very rare automobile. It was a Model X Duesenberg." He lets this hang in the air, and Caroline looks up from her nails and squints, trying to come up with an eloquent response.
"So?" Klaus sputters, sitting up. "Only five were made. I don't care much about automobiles, but let me assure you that Ole Betsey—" (he says it with a curl of his lip) "—means more to me than Kol's left arm."
Rebekah had christened Klaus's Model X Duesenwhatsis Ole Betsey 'cause it sure as hell made a sound like one when she slammed down on the clutch with unnecessary force. Caroline spared a glance at the street, where Kol's figure looked warped in the moonlight. He was now darting past the car and pretending to be a dead body, every now and then declaring "My strumpet of a sister does know more about automobiles than just the backseat!"
Needless to say, Rebekah had not been pleased. She then made it her life mission to run Kol down, much to Stefan's chagrin. He was still giving half-hearted advice though, like "Change gears to go faster", or "Remember the brakes, Rebekah" or "Feign a right, Kol won't know what hit him".
"It's a 90-year-old car," Caroline points out. One of the side-mirrors was dangling uselessly, there was a deep gash in the leather interior of the backseat, the top had been ripped off completely and a tree branch had scratched a great big haha fuck you I ruined your car -type scratch across its body. "It's done it's time."
There's a silence as she realizes what she's said. In the moonlight, Klaus turns to look at her, but doesn't say anything. His eyes roam over every part of her — her face, the way her hair curled like her downwards smile, her porcelain hands that looked fragile when wrapped in his callous hands and—
Wait, when had he reached out and touched her?
Klaus draws back, and Caroline feels a hint of - something.
"Is that what you think of us?" he finally asks. "Is that what you think of me?"
She wonders how she should answer such a question, briefly contemplates brushing it off, but in the gravity of the situation (if you could ignore Kol hollering "Watch the backseat, Bekah! It's the ghost of shags past!") she says in complete honesty, "I think you're an enigma, wrapped in a moron, shrouded with pretension."
He shakes his head, chuckling. Caroline leans forward to play with a tuft of grass. "I also think… that a thousand years is a really long time." She looks at him with a small smile on her face. She doesn't really know what to expect from him, but thought he'd appreciate her honesty, since he'd always liked that. He'd at least smile for that, right?
(But when did she start caring about his smiles?)
But Klaus isn't smiling when he leans back again, his eyes running over her face intently. "Not long enough."