Her eyes were closed. That was the first thing she thought of, the utter darkness, the lax feeling in her muscles.
Eyelashes fluttering at the feel of light at the edge of her vision, she let them open with careful deliberation, nearly going blind with how bright everything was.
She blinked once, then again to clear the haze and black spots dancing in front of her, frowning at her unfamiliar surroundings.
Caroline glanced at walls that were bare, save for a door and a phrase 'everything is fine' written on the wall in bright green, and looked at the carpeted floors, hands running over the leather of the couch, the only material object in the room.
Well, besides her, she supposed.
Still, she had bigger things to worry about than lack of decorations. Mainly where she was, how she got here and why her memory was too fuzzy to recall anything.
The door opened out of the blue, startling her.
A man, who she didn’t know, was standing at the entrance. She recognised nothing about his Henleys or dirty blonde hair or his scruff, and she felt the first surges of panic well within her.
“Caroline?” he said more than questioned, as if he was utterly sure of who she was and held no doubts about it.
As if he said it just to humour her.
She swallowed heavily, hoping beyond hope that this wasn't some sort of sick twisted form of kidnapping or worse - because it’d be just her damn luck - and met his eyes.
The man smiled charmingly - and wasn't that just as panic inducing - and pulled the door open further.
“Come on right in.”
He turned around immediately, giving her no choice but to follow. She did so warily, for a second unsure whether to close the door behind her or not, before she rolled her eyes at herself.
Leave it for her to worry about etiquette in a possible kidnapping situation.
The man motioned for her to sit on the chair facing his desk, waiting for her to settle in.
“I suppose it's imperative we get to business,” he paused as if he remembered something. “You would like to get to business, right?”
She nodded vigorously.
“You, Caroline Forbes, are dead.”
Gravel crunched under her feet as she walked, the man who introduced himself as Klaus alongside her. She spotted a tiny boutique advertising glitter makeup and another with fairy cakes, yet couldn't find it within herself to dig up much of a reaction for either.
For someone who'd just found out they'd died, she was much more calmer than expected even if she hadn't started out that way.
Klaus had dropped the metaphorical bomb on her and she'd been in disbelief for more than a complete minute, had debated whether she’d been right and she really was caught in the midst of an elaborate creative kidnapping plot or this was just some humoreless joke.
So, naturally, she'd laughed in his face.
He was patient, waiting for her round of hysterics to subdue and then handing her a tissue - that appeared out of literally fucking nowhere - when she quieted down, and didn't even sigh when she laughed again.
The collection of not so nice things that she called him when she did manage to control her laughter were, well, not nice.
But she'd been proven wrong with a snap of his fingers. All it took was that motion and she found herself reliving her last moments on Earth.
Getting mugged and then managing to die - not from a mugger's gun or knife but from slipping on the ground - was not what she had in mind for her kicking the bucket.
Klaus had told her that they usually erased memories of death that were traumatic or embarrassing to allow for peaceful transitions and all she could think about was how she ticked both boxes with bright flying colours.
Talk about going out with a bang or going home.
At least she was in The Good Place.
How that happened, she'd no idea but she wasn't going to look a gift horse in the mouth.
“So,” she began, gaze caught on a frozen yogurt shop before she refocused it on Klaus, who stopped his strides to give her his full attention. “Who are you? What are you? Are you some sort of angel or a different type of mythical creature, or like some spirit? You can't be human, right? Because humans in charge of putting other humans in the equivalent of paradise or hell just sound an awful lot like our forked up juridical system and I won't have no part in- wait, why can't I say fork?”
He seemed to be torn between amusement and confusion, with a distinct look of being impressed at how many words she'd uttered in one breath — which she could totally get, she was kinda awesome.
“You can't use swear words, I am afraid. One of the residents complained about it and they got banned.”
She mentally recoiled at that, knew that some of her horror was showing on her face, but couldn't find it within her to care. Why would anyone do that?
Klaus stayed silent for a few more second as he allowed her to digest the news before he spoke again.
“Would you like me to answer your questions?”
Caroline nodded, trying not to think of how she may never be able to curse ever again.
“I am the architect of this neighbourhood. As for what I am, I come from a race of creatures so unknown to man, that describing it would take plenty of time.” At that, she resisted the urge to snort because wow, pretentious much. “I can however say, that I am no spirit or mere human. Does that answer your inquiries satisfactorily?”
It really, really didn't.
She sighed, then perked up. “Do the residents have houses or..?”
He smirked at her tone, for all intents innocently probing. “Of course. We designed houses for all our residents here, each one a perfect reflection of its inhabitants essence. ”
There was the hint of laughter in his voice as he replied, “Yes, very.”
A pause in which they continued making their way through the streets. She waited, hoping he'd get her subtle hint and show her her new home.
When he showed no signs of leading her there any time soon, she huffed, preparing to be not so subtle.
“Can we go see mine?”
“I thought you'd never ask.”
Well, that was easy.
She didn't know what she'd expected precisely but the house Klaus took her to wasn't what she had had in mind. It wasn't bad or repulsive, far from it in fact, but it certainly felt like something was off with it.
Caroline, however, couldn't figure out what.
Maybe being dead did that to a person.
Her house was one storey, its exterior a soft off-white with a blend of suburban home and modern designs. It was sleek and yet cozy. Definitely the type of house she would have looked at and swooned over during her life.
“Why don't we go inside?”
Klaus's voice brought her out of her musing. She saw him going up the two steps and on the porch. He unlocked the door and she stepped in.
Her house, it was perfect. The walls were painted with soft off-white colours, a hint of texture that made it look dazzling in its simplicity. The floors were covered in pale ceramics floorings, complementing the walls. Even the ceiling seemed to be a masterpiece.
She took another step in the house, delving deeper and closer to the the living room. This, too, she could see has been furnished to perfection, the chair pieces comfortable and pretty, the burgundy of the velvet a beautiful contrast against the calm of the background.
It was exactly the type of home she would have designed for herself, had she been able to.
“What do you think, love?”
She spun around to face him, some distinct part of all still in disbelief but mostly she was very much in awe. “It's beautiful,” she said breathlessly.
He quirked his lips in a small smile, and it made a pair of dimples show at his side. “I am glad you think so.”
Suddenly, almost delirious with a rush of happiness, she grinned back widely.
A strange glint appeared in Klaus’s eyes and her smile dimmed a bit, but that gleam flickered out in a flash. All that was left in front of her was Klaus, hands behind his back, standing in her new living room.
“Well, I hope it won't be of any inconvenience but I've got more errands to run.”
“I'll see you tonight.”
She barely heard him, the door closing behind Klaus as he left, and she was left standing alone in her big home.
Her arms encircled her upper body, suddenly cold. Caroline looked around her, not knowing what next.
Feet fidgeting and fingers drumming against skin, she wished for something to do, it wasn't like her to stay still, for her hands not to be busy.
If only being in paradise came with an instruction manual. Yeah, that would have been forking amazing
The constant rapping of her fingertips sped up as her feet too begin to tap on the floor. She breathed to calm her anxiety but all that managed was to get her fingers to drum faster.
She needed to move, asap.
Caroline began to wander around the house, inspecting every tiny detail. There was only one bedroom and she was more than okay with that fact; she had never quite liked having too much space. Flinging open the big wardrobe, she breathed out a laugh; the thing was stocked with different outfits and shoes.
Lifting up a hanger that held a simple black shirt, she snatched a pair of jeans, chucking the clothes she wore before continuing her explorations.
The kitchen was quirky and vibrant but the best part was easily the huge balcony with its light curtains that filtered in sunlight just the right amount.
She didn't open any of the drawers or storage units though, there was something about the peace of the house that made her hesitant to disturb it.
Eventually she found herself back at the living room, taking a seat at one of the couches. The big TV screen stared back at her and she bit her lip, toes wiggling in her shoes.
Oh, what the hell. It's not like she was doing anything wrong. It was her house, at least according to The Architect.
And god, did that sound utterly absurd in her head.
Huffing, she reached out for the on button, yelping when the TV suddenly lit up and the screen showcased multiple options. There was a ‘best memories’ and ‘highlights of years’ and even a button for ‘favourite outfits’.
The people here knew her well.
She clicked the first option, wondering what memories she'd find, if her most beloved recollections would be the same as she thought they would be.
She hoped they would be better.
Somehow it seemed like the neighbourhood was mocking her.
The soft happy colours she'd admired when she first saw them seemed more of an actual parody now. A cruel joke.
It had been too good to be true, she knew. The Good Place and her perfect house and all the happy-bright-nice feelings.
The memories she viewed had not been hers, she was absolutely sure of it. She had never been in a courtroom in her life, except to be present for her parent's divorce, much less passionately defended human rights in what - to her limited knowledge - appeared to be a difficult case.
At least she hadn't seen Liz Forbes’ face, that was the only positive point about the whole ordeal.
“Hey, watch it,” the yell was unexpected and loud. For a minute Caroline thought it was directed at her, but after looking to her left and right and making sure she hadn't accidentally bumped into someone, she spotted a blonde with her arms on her hips glaring directly at….
This could not be actually real.
“What are you doing, you sparkling idiot? That shop was supposed to be on the other side of the neighbourhood. Did you even look at the chart I gave you?”
Hair spun in delicate waves, and wearing a short black dress, the stranger looked like she was ready burn the whole place down with her red lips.
The blonde huffed, motioning with her hands for the fairies to go away. They did, wings fluttering wildly as they scurried away.
“Oh and who are you?”
“I’m Caroline,” she said after a moment hesitation, nearly kicking herself for just standing there and lifting her palm up for a handshake.
“I’m Nik’s sister, Rebekah.”
Brows furrowing at why would someone introduce themselves with by their relation to a relative, especially when she knew neither, she plastered on a genuine if somewhat confused smile.
Rebekah frowned. “You haven’t met Nik?”
She shrugged, “I haven’t met anybody to be honest. I just got here.”
“That’s impossible, there’s no way you could have made it here without Nik.”
She blanched at the implication that she was helpless or that she in any shape or form needed someone to lean on because she wasn’t and she didn’t, thank you very forking much, but managed to keep the polite smile on her face.
“Well, I did,” she said cheerfully, but then paused. “Although I did meet this guy, Klaus?”
Rebekah snorted and rolled her eyes, “Right, human brains, so slow. Nik is Klaus.”
She tried not to feel offended at the insult - in other words failed - groaning in dismay. The first person she met in the afterlife and he lied to her. Forking typical. “Wow, even here people are liars?”
“My brother’s full name is Niklaus.”
“Quite.” Rebekah said, unamused, and Caroline felt her cheek start to heat, cringing at how idiotic she must have sounded. Rebekah shook her head, the same expression Klaus had when he first spoke to her in his office.
As if they kept forgetting something that they kept reminding themselves about.
“How do you like the neighbourhood so far?”
She blinked at the abrupt shift in conversation, craned her neck to the side as she tried to figure out Rebekah.
God, she really needed to find out what she and her brother were, pronto.
That ought to help, right?
Caroline ran her tongue over her lower lip as she considered the best way to reply. “It's...nice,” she finally said.
Rebekah’s eyes flashed with something indescribable, something close to irritation, before her mouth curled in a sweet grin.
“That's delightful to hear.”
Somehow she felt like a threat was hovering between each word uttered.
“Thank you,” she said, swallowing down her discomfort.
There was a reason why she didn't like talking to new people and having to constantly think of what to say and how to say it was one of them.
Probably why she died lonely, Caroline grimaced at that line of thought.
“Something the matter?”
“Oh nothing, everything is peachy.”
Armed with her charts and stilettos, Rebekah did certainly make for a strange picture for a supposedly holy being in heaven.
But what did she know about appropriate sartorial choices for higher places?
“Fabulous, I'll see you at the party tonight.”
Before she could ask her where or when or even there's a party, Rebekah walked away.
The party had been a forking disaster.
With incredibly good shrimp, sure, but still.
Caroline sighed from her current position on the bed, sprawled over the comfortable mattress and wishing for a plate of said shrimp.
After returning to her house, she had dug through the rooms, no longer mindful about being gentle in her explorations, opening cabinets and filtering through anything that could give her a clue about this party Klaus and Rebekah had spoken of.
And if she had measured the distance between her and the TV each time she crossed through the living room, well it was no one's business but her own.
It had turned out that higher beings had apparently never heard of flyers or public advertisements and only depended on the word of the mouth - which sucked - and so it took her another walk outside for one of the other residents to excitedly tell her about every single detail.
The big mansion - more like palace - that was at the edge of the neighbourhood was to be the place for it, 7pm, formal wear, blah blah blah.
It had been a blessing that her imposter house came with imposter clothes, and ones that were perfectly suited to her tastes.
She'd worn a pretty floral dress with ballerina shoes and pulled her hair in a shabby ponytail that she still to this moment hoped had done the trick, and strode inside the party with a confidence that she'd far from owned.
Mingling with people had not been fun, conversing had left her tenser than ever and every time someone had asked her a personal question, her throat had constricted.
Caroline was positive she had never bullshitted so hard in her life before and she'd had honestly regretted keeping away from the TV when she found herself having to come up with suitable lies that would not expose her current predicament.
Luckily, there had been many people and they served as a diversion when she’d needed it.
She’d spotted Rebekah donning an emerald gown, chatting to a petite brunette who appeared to be quite absorbed in the conversation for all that Rebekah seemed almost bored.
Caroline breathed in relief when neither noticed her - The Good Place’s residents were absolutely chatty and, in her opinion, held no respect for personal space - andwinced when Rebekah called out her name just as she was about to turn around, introducing her to the brunette.
Bonnie, the moral ethics and philosophy professor.
She'd suddenly understood Rebekah’s disinterest in their chat.
Caroline liked Bonnie though; she spoke fervently about her career, eyes lighting up when explaining theories and yes, Caroline had never held any interest for moral philosophy - except perhaps when thinking about its stance on her shitty parents and how awful they were - but she envied that spark, that passion.
She couldn’t remember the last time she’d loved something that much since high school and cheerleading.
Those sad thoughts just kept on hitting her right where it hurt the most, didn’t they?
She'd met a Kol who turned out to be another of Klaus' siblings - seriously, how many of those did the guy have? - with a wild attitude and a wicked curl to his mouth.
An attitude that drove Rebekah mad on a regular basis if her scowl yesterday and Caroline’s own limited knowledge about siblings dynamics were anything to go by.
Klaus had made an appearance at one point, looking unfairly handsome in his casual tux than most of the male population on Earth did.
Who knew that unknown higher beings could be so attractive?
She’d said a quick hello before moving on with her conversation, not wanting him to see the new gleam of anxiety in her eyes.
Running the palm of her hand over her face, she tugged at her hair out of frustration. She wished for a clock that could tell her the time, wanting nothing but to curl in bed for perhaps five hours, or forever, she didn’t really have a specific preference.
Whatever, it was not like the world would fall apart if she skipped on doing anything.
One perk of being dead.
All things considered she was glad she made it back to her place with all body parts intact, fake identity unexposed and some shrimp discreetly hidden in her clothes.
She did not stay in bed all day, or forever, of course -she was Caroline Forbes. Having problems on her hand usually helped kickstart her energy at any given time, but this, her messed up identity? It was a disaster and she was utterly determined to fix it.
It was that thought that had her springing out of bed with a hurry in her steps, collecting the spare empty papers and a few pens that she'd taken from the mansion yesterday.
She'd always loved the weight of ink between her fingers.
Inhaling, she loosened her grip on the pen and tightened it again, the edge of the paper crinkling as she unconsciously did the same to it.
She was going to figure something out. Caroline was not going to allow anyone to send her to The Bad Place to be tortured for eternity.
She exhaled and began to write all her plans down.
It was night, at least by The Good Place’s standards. There was a faint blow of the wind outside that created an uplifting breeze, curtains fluttering softly.
She sighed as she craned her neck, after a long day chatting with Rebekah and listening to Bonnie explain her theories about evolutionary ethics and dodging Kol's terrible jokes, she was beyond ready for some rest.
There was a thud against the door and Caroline froze, wondering if it was possibly a burglary, before she dismissed that thought.
A little paranoia would keep her hidden, too much and it would kill her.
The thud resonated again.
In small steps, she moved closer to the entrance, unable to ignore the absurd thought of how much she resembled the horror film cliche. She scorned the girls whose first instinct was to head towards the sign of trouble, but now in their place, all she could do was sympathise.
A squeak of something against the floor and she heard the rustle of paper, looked down to see a sheet being pushed between the gap of the door.
With lightning speed she bent and took the paper, turning it the other side when she saw the front was blank.
Gasping she opened the door, running to the outside. Caroline looked from side to side across the empty space in front of her, and then further into the neighbourhood, shuffling between buildings.
Eventually she found no one, streets abandoned when everyone was either at home or attending the lavish party Rebekah was throwing as a celebration for her brother’s neighbourhood.
Caroline went back to her house on shaking limbs, chucking the paper in one of the drawers, trying to get her brain to stop the image from playing it again and again.
You don’t belong here.
Caroline had never really spared much thought to how the afterlife would be like, had had the brief wondering if it really was real and if so would she end up in hell, yet she'd usually threw that train of thought to the back of her mind.
She had liked to think that she embraced the philosophy of living in the moment, but that had been a lie she told herself to get her through the days.
Two weeks now in The Good Place, she could appreciate how she strived to drink in every moment. Like the looming threat of all torture was enough to awaken her thirst for the world.
Ironic wasn't it? That she'd felt the most alive she'd been in years when she was dead.
Like always, a tiny voice spoke, wondering about her parents and if they were being tortured or somehow by some miracle they were in The Good Place and all happy, but like always she shut that voice down.
Thinking about Bill and Liz Forbes, the memories of a happy family that turned into a nightmare later, was the last thing she ever wanted to do.
The knock on her door had her quickly stashing her papers under the sofa seating, scrambling to hide the pens and any sign that could give her away. She checked that the message she’d anonymously received was buried under her bed, making a mental note to burn it down later.
When she opened it was to the sight of Klaus and an unfamiliar man behind him, moderately tall and with black hair. The stranger kept looking at her oddly, a bit of squint to his gaze.
“Hi, Klaus.” The greeting came out wary and hesitant, her eyes darting between the two men and a nervous beating of her heart.
“Hello, love. Mind if we come in?”
After so many days spending her time alone in the house, it seemed so unbearably full, with the two of them standing in her living room, so disconcertingly brimming with people, even if logically, she knew that it wasn’t the case.
If it had been, there would be folk everywhere, maybe because of a party - or a funeral - chatter buzzing in her ears and laughter milling about, the discomfort that nagged at her would be nothing compared to the tremors that would be raking her arms.
“So, is there something I can help you with?”
Shuffling his feet, Klaus looked completely out of place with such a nervous demeanour, and it didn't do much in settling her nerves.
“I am a bit in the unclear about how does one usually go about this on Earth-”
A million thoughts ran through her head at that, the possibility that she'd been found out, that the stranger was some sort of after-life police, and he'd come to take her away. That someone she knew died, that the world have imploded.
What he said, however, was far worse.
“-Caroline, meet Enzo. He's your soulmate.”
Two hours later and she still sat shell-shocked on her armchair. Enzo - her forking soulmate, because apparently stuff like that was real - had taken refuge in the sofa opposite her, his jacket on the couch and his head in his palm.
She rubbed hands that felt sweaty on her denim shorts, fitfully not thinking about what a mess things had took a turn for.
Caroline didn’t have any room for him to stay in, she thought, remembering her bedroom and how happy she’d been that she’d had only one, and she wasn’t going to leave for his place if they really had to share a home or whatever and all her carefully made plans were tumbling down in front of h-
“Will you be staring at me all day?”
A flat look was all she could spare as a response, other than the complete sense of annoyance and anger at her situation. She opened her mouth to say something, anything, but all that came out was-
“You have an accent.”
She shrugged, not wanting to tell him that she thought it was whatever-Klaus, Rebekah and Kol-were thing. She did realize how ridiculous it sounded but it had seemed plausible.
Though Maybe Enzo was one of them? But no that couldn't be true, Klaus had clearly said he’d died close to the time she had, even in her haze of disbelief she'd heard that.
“Just an observation.”
“How astute of you.”
Caroline gripped the arms of the chair tightly, as she mentally debated the pros and cons of jumping across the living room and strangling her supposed soulmate.
It would probably only expose her, which was unfortunate.
Her fingers wanted to test their hold around his neck.
Jumping up from the chair, she told him, “You know what? I’ll just go on a walk. You… try to feel comfortable or something.”
She hoped her face conveyed a convincing pleasant demeanor, biting the inside of her cheeks to settle her nerves.
Just as she reached the door, she yelled, “don’t touch anything while I’m gone.”
Klaus looked up when she opened the door. She thought she saw a gleam of golden yellow but it was gone the next second. She shook her head, giving him a small smile at his curious look.
“Can I come in?”
"Of course, sweetheart."
He did that a lot around her, she noticed, the loves and the sweethearts. She wondered if it was the Britishness of Earth rubbing off him, she wondered if he realized he did it at all.
“Hello,” she said quietly, then narrowed her eyes, speaking louder. “Niklaus.”
A little frown between his eyebrows appeared. “Rebekah told you about my name?”
“Yeah, she did,” she replied, noting that he did not seem to be particularly bothered by her knowledge. Guess that crossed out the option of him being Fae, then.
“What kind of name is Niklaus?”
At that the frown deepened. “An authentic one,” he said, sounding so affronted with her question that she had to bite the inside of her cheek hard so keep a straight face.
“Are you even German?”
“Then how could it be authentic?”
He gave her a measured look, a hint of a smirk on his lips that told her he knew what she was doing. Caroline looked away, the weight of his gaze too heavy for her to bear.
She didn’t like it when occasional moments like these happened, reminding her that she was a coward.
He doesn't know, she thought. He doesn't know what your life was really like, he doesn't know who you really are.
Forcing a cough from her throat, she went and sat down, taking a careful breath in as she tried to remember what she wanted to say, tried to ignore that vice of panic around her heart that hadn’t loosened since he'd knocked on her door this morning.
“Why-” she began, then paused at the hint of a breaking in her voice. Start again, she told herself, and met his stare head on. “Why didn’t you tell me there are soulmates, here in the good place?”
“When you first arrived here, our statistics did not inform us of a suitable match. Rather than inform you of this peculiar predicament, I thought it was perhaps better if you went ahead with getting acquainted with your new status instead of lamenting over the delay.”
Caroline gulped down her reply, settling for a simple “Right.”
The sound of banging pots and pans was what woke her up from a restless, uncomfortable sleep, sheets pulled and wrinkled at the edges and pillow half falling to the floor.
She groaned as she stretched her back, drowsy from her rest.
Something banged against the counter again, the noise echoing twice as loud in her ear.
Caroline slipped off the bedcovers in irritation, containing a low growl at the base of her throat at the sight of her new unwanted irritation - sorry, roommate.
“What are you doing?”
Enzo lifted his head from it was bent over the counter, his smirk, for all intents and purposes, unwanted and unnecessary.
“Just exploring the kitchen.”
She heaved a heavy breath, trying to remember why yelling at him would be disastrous. It was not his fault that he was ignorant of her aversion to people messing with her things.
Perhaps she could lay some ground rules.
“I noticed your cabinets are not well-organized,” he said. “Do you want me to sort it out for you?”
Yeah, they had to leave this house now.
“So how many people have you met here?”
She wanted to ask him if he’d met Bonnie, was sure he’d met Rebekah and Kol even if by chance.
Caroline was so tired, she had never been so socially drained during her life, not since she’d graduated high school.
Enzo didn’t say anything either and she took it as her cue that he wanted some silence too.
She started thinking of her craziest new idea to stay here. It was risky, deathly even, yet she couldn't stand sitting still, all she could think of was that every second she wasn't doing something lent a greater possibility of her being found.
Before she could take notice, she found herself colliding with another body. Yelping in surprise, she stepped back on shaky feet.
“I'm so sorry.”
Wincing at the ache in her side, she inspected the brunette in front of her, noting the curls and olive skin, the sure way she held herself.
A golden retriever strode towards her, barking once.
The brunette brushed off some imaginary dust from her shoulders, giving her a strange mix of an evil eye and an indulgent smile, “I'm Katherine.”
“Caroline,” at Enzo’s significant cough she cringed and amended. “And this Enzo, my soulmate.”
Katherine lifted an eyebrow at the interaction but otherwise didn't comment.
“Who's your soulmate?” It wasn't the sort of question she would have ever considered employing in small talk, except that sort of chit chat was apparently the norm in The Good Place.
Katherine lifted the golden retriever until it was gently cuddled against her chest, “Chucky.”
Caroline blinked at the dog and the name, not sure how to process that information.
She'd seen plenty of people who named their pets with strange and unusual titles but naming your retriever after a horror movie character? Now that was pretty new.
Klaus had of course informed her about the different types of soulmates in The Good Place, had told her that they weren't confined to the restrictions of romantic relationship and that soulmates could have platonic or familial connections.
But this seemed a bit too far in her opinion.
Chucky sniffled at her and then woofed, wagging its tail from side to side, eyes sparkling adorably.
She resisted the urge to coo, but only barely, eyeing Enzo from the corner of her vision and wondering if it was too late to refund him for a cute dog.
He apparently read her mind, for he turned to her, expression serious and said, “don't even think about it.”
Little snippets of conversation could be heard as she went from street to street. The sun was shining brightly in the sky as it did everyday, leaving her skin tingling with warmth.
Caroline wouldn’t have felt comfortable going on this little excursion if it weren’t for the fact that Enzo had told her he was going to visit Katherine, citing that they’d “bonded” or whatever.
Taking a left instead of a right, she ventured towards the lake. She hadn’t taken the time to go by it much, preferring the various cafes in the neighbourhood instead.
Klaus sitting at one of the large rocks had her stopping short. With the quietness of the air, she could hear the sound of a pen scratching against paper.
She debated whether or not to disturb his peace before shrugging and sprinting across to where he sat.
“What are you doing?”
He gave no indication that he was surprised by her presence, calmly stopping the motion of his hands. Irritation sparked inside of her, couldn’t he at least feign being caught off guard?
“Caroline,” he said with a nod, “pleasure to see you, love.”
With a line like that, and the sunlight reflecting in his hair, he looked like he came straight out of a british drama.
It made her nostalgic for watching some TV under her blanket.
“Hello to you too.”
Daintily stepping over the stone, she sat down on a rock next to his, mindful of the rough edges.
“So what are you doing?” Yeah, subtlety had never been really one of her strongest suits.
“Working on some of my new upgrades for the neighbourhood.”
“Oooh, you’re making some expansions?”
Klaus smirked, like there was some sort of secret joke she couldn’t get, “Something of the sort.” Closing the notebook in his hand, he turned to her. “What do you think of the lake?”
Caroline lifted one shoulder in a shrug. “Honestly you could do better.”
He raised his eyebrows in shock. She tried to ignore the flutter of satisfaction at his slight air of befuddlement.
“Don’t worry, it’s not too bad.” she stretched the ‘too’ just to see his reaction and it did not disappoint.
Caroline laughed, then laughed some more when he rolled his eyes.
“No seriously. You could put some fairy lights in this part and maybe a dozen benches so it could be sort of a place where people could come to relax and have some wild flowers planted on the other side. It’d be magical.”
He leaned back as if contemplating it.
“I’ll see what I can do.”
That night she received another paper, muscles trembling as she thought of how close Enzo had gotten to reading it.
I've still got my eyes on you.
That second message seemed to have done its job in making her more energetic; the first thing she'd done as soon as she woke up was getting out her folders and stationery
Another perk of being in The Good Place: you could literally have anything you wanted, even excellent stationery.
That was how Enzo found her; sitting on the floor with her markers and highlighters laid carefully in a line, papers in front of her as she wrote her plan in her special code.
So what if it was vaguely inspired from Pinterest, it was not like she was planning murder, just a way to stay in Paradise instead of spending eternity tortured by lava and wrecking balls and whatever methods demons favoured.
“Come on Gorgeous, let me give you a hand.”
She arched her neck upward, a frown on her face, holding the file closer to her. “I’m not going to tell you what i’m doing this for.”
Enzo shrugged with all the carelessness in the world, “I don’t care. I just want to help.”
That response was the last thing she’d expected and she sat perfectly still, momentarily frozen to the floor.
He crooked his neck to the side, arms crossed in front of him.
“Okay,” she said a little breathlessly, ignoring the tightness that coiled in her throat. “You can help.”
Enzo gave her an eager smile as he sat down opposite to her on the floor.
Caroline stared at him for a minute longer, his words circling around in her mind - I just want to help - wondering if maybe, maybe it wouldn’t hurt to have a friend here, one who could offer assistance and whose presence she could start tolerating.
When Enzo looked up, with an arched eyebrow and an expression that said ‘well?’, she handed him one of the papers and a neon highlighter, pointing at where he should start marking.
She hadn’t taken notice of it at the time but as she bent her head to continue writing, she had a small grin on her face.
“Oh hello, guys.”
Bonnie beamed at her from the threshold, a stack of books under arm. Katherine stood a little behind, sunglasses perched on her nose and Chucky inspecting the green plants she'd put out with a curious eye.
“Can we get inside please?”
Katherine’s voice was irritated, the corner of her mouth upturned. It was one of Katherine’s quirks, the edge to her voice, but after spending so much time about people who more or less were pleasant during conversation, it was a nice break from the monotony.
Caroline chuckled and let them in, catching the books from Bonnie. In a desperate bid for a plan she'd asked for some ethics books, hoping that could help her fake it, and Bonnie, possibly mistaking it for eagerness to the subject, had readily agreed, giving her far more than she'd anticipated.
She hadn't had the heart to stop her from giving the books to her, had even read many of them when she was bored.
They certainly helped put things in perspective, whether or not she appreciated some of the thinly veiled criticism hurled her way.
“So what are we doing?”
Enzo came to the living room, chips’ bags in one hand and a huge bowl of popcorn in the other.
His skills certainly extended beyond highlighting, that's for sure.
“Oh, you know, popcorn and movies.”
She gave Katherine a significant look, pushing her gently towards the seats.
“We're watching a horror and then a romantic comedy.”
Katherine whooped in fake cheer.
“Well, try and not kill yourself having too much fun, okay?”
Katherine smiled as if Caroline had said a funny joke - and dear god she was tired of people being so suspiciously mysterious.
“Should we be eating this much oily stuff?” Bonnie asked, staring at the bag of chips in her hands in trepidation.
“We're in paradise, if there was ever a time to eat whatever we wanted without worrying about our cholesterol levels, it's certainly now.”
Bonnie sighed in acceptance, yet with a bit of hesitance.
Caroline turned on the TV, quickly swiping to the entertainment section and playing the movie, taking a seat next to Bonnie.
So okay, maybe Enzo did have a point in convincing her to host a movie night. It was nice, trying this whole ‘paradise friends’ thing.
The message she was sent next was burned at the edges, ashes spilling down the clean white of the untouched heart of the paper.
Pretending won’t make you belong.
She wanted to tell the sender he shouldn't have bothered. She already knew.
She ended up near the lake again, clutching the jacket closer to her body, found a whole section covered with granite floorings, a few benches scattered around.
Hands tracing the wood of one of the benches, she staggered when she heard Klaus's voice.
“Rebekah was particularly enthused at your suggestions and I have to say they didn't turn out so terrible.”
“I'm going to pretend that I'm not totally offended at your surprise,” she said. “Though I have to say, when I mentioned fairy lights, I didn't mean literally.”
Caroline gestured to above where said fairies where fluttering in the air, balls of light carried in their hands.
It seemed like forking torture.
“A bit of originality was needed.”
She could not even think of an appropriate response to that.
“Humans do consider such type of ornaments something to create the mood?”
A wet laugh burst out of her without her consent, the way he'd said was so scornful and uncomprehending. The only thing missing was him making quote marks with his finger and just that image alone was enough to make another laugh come out.
Caroline batted a wisp of hair behind her ear. “Do you ever feel like there's not a whole person in the world that loves you?”
Klaus looked positively startled by the question, “where did that come from, sweetheart?”
Swallowing down an invisible choking weight, she pondered how to answer best.
There was this sadness that was carved in her heart.
“I suppose I’m just reminiscing.”
Klaus didn’t immediately comment, nor did he say anything for a while, the breeze in the air her only companion.
Finally he spoke, “I know that you've been lonely and that sometimes your life seemed meaningless but you did great good while you were alive Caroline, you fought for helpless people and it was worth it. You won't be alone anymore, sweetheart.”
His voice was gentle and standing there, on the edge of a vast shimmering lake with the wind blowing in her hair, a stinging in her eyes, she could almost believe him.
But ultimately she couldn't, because the truth was she hadn't done a lot of good in her life and that sometimes she was a terrible, horrible person.
The truth was that she spent most of her life running from her memories and when that hadn't been enough for her demons, she'd ran some more.
She thought of Bill Forbes and her standing on the porch of her house watching his car fading out of vision, waiting for mail or a phone call while rummaging for something she could eat in the kitchen. Of running excitedly to Liz with her exams report, only to be disappointed with a quick glance and pat on her head.
Caroline was exhausted of being lonely.
An electric shock ran through her body at the touch of Klaus's fingers on her cheek. She stared at his hand, frozen, unable to decide what to do next.
He swiped across the expanse of skin, leaving a warmth in the wake of his touch. Klaus pulled his hand back, thumb gleaming with her tear.
Inspecting it with a critical eye, he rubbed it between his fingers.
Caroline almost couldn't breathe, willing her legs to move. Once she felt them working again, she turned to leave, unable to withstand the awkwardness.
No, you know what. She wasn't going to move anywhere.
Let this be the moment when she stopped running for once in her life.
When he met her eyes again, she said, “I hope you're right.”
“I know you said and I quote ‘don't be nosy’, Gorgeous, but it’s hard when you spend half your time with your nose buried in those folders of yours.”
She unburied said nose out of the aforementioned folder, “I thought you didn't have a problem with that?”
“I don't, usually, when you're not late for parties or meetings. Something that should bother you from what I gathered about your preferences.”
Her brows bunched together, “there's a party today?”
You'd think there would be a budget limit for spendings, just to stop the excessive extravaganza in this place. Well, there wasn't.
“It's more of a small dinner at the mansion,” Enzo said, flexing his shoulder and making the leather of his jacket gleam. “Which proves my point, Gorgeous.”
He was right, much as she detested to admit it. Yet, Caroline couldn’t find it within herself to give a fork about the daily events of the neighbourhood - which was saying something - with her brain becoming a whirring anxietic mess, the lack of threatening notes driving her further up the wall.
“You need to stop whatever it is you've been doing. Come and have some fun.”
She smiled at the motherly tone. Enzo probably had no idea he was using it to begin with.
“Just give me some time, okay. I need to change.”
Caroline listened to the door shutting behind him, massaging her eyes with the tips of her fingers. She gave herself sixty seconds to relax, head laid on the back of the couch before rushing to her closet and picking a cute flowery sundress that she'd been eyeing for a while.
She laid it on the bed besides the mess of highlighted paper on the covers, flipping some papers over so she could review her notes, collecting them and arranging them in a neat stack.
Research and planning took thoroughness, that had always been her motto.
Picking up her dress to, and gingerly removing the straps from the hanger, something nagged at her though.
She tried to give it no mind, brushing her hair in quick motions.
Still, Caroline couldn't help but go over it once more, willing the pages to speak to her.
What is it, what is it.
Like a train that held no regards for its passengers or the people on the roads, the realization hit her with terrifying speed.
God. Oh god.
Caroline left the papers falling to the floor behind her as she run out of her house and to the mansion. These few moments in between not completely registering in her brain.
She almost fell on her way inside, not paying attention to the looks of concern on everyone's faces.
“We're in the Bad Place, aren't we?”
A glass crashed to the ground and there was a long moment of silence that stretched endlessly. She saw the looks of shock, confusion and dawning horror on three equally stumbed faces.
But her eyes didn't leave Klaus's face, and she almost felt sick at the ball of anger and betrayal that curled in her stomach, with that small flickering hope that maybe, maybe she was wrong.
His irises flashed with golden yellow before he started laughing. It wasn't crazy or mynical or the sort of thing you'd see from a movie villain, no, it was low and musical, charming.
And she knew she was right.
Klaus started clapping, and she flinched, stumbling backwards where she almost tripped over Enzo, had he not held her upright. His face was drawn tight, almost pale, the grip on her arms bruising.
“I have to admit, love. I am impressed.”
It was Bonnie who yelled, her eyes wide with terror. Caroline thought she could see a tremble in her hands.
“I don- I don't understand.”
“That you're in The Bad Place?” Rebekah blew on her manicured nails, expression almost bored. “Well you are, sweetling.”
“But I was-”
“-good and pure and worked to the betterment of humanity? Obviously, it wasn't enough, seeing as you landed in Hell.” Rebekah smirked. “Guess that holier than thou attitude did not do you wonders.”
Bonnie seemed to want to scream, hands clenched tightly at her sides. She took a deep breath, and wiped the trace of a treacherous tear that fell.
Caroline wanted to give her a hug, but she didn't think herself capable of even walking. Enzo’s hands were keeping her standing and she couldn't risk moving.
She chanced a look at Katherine. The brunette appeared to be almost calm, yet it was the way she tightly clutched Chucky to her chest that gave her away.
“What about Katherine?” She heard herself saying. “Why is she here?”
Kol stretched his limbs leisurely, hazel eyes glancing over them in slow strokes, as if he was picturing how he was going to pluck every tendon from their bones.
“She used to kill people.”
Caroline rolled her eyes. “No seriously, what did she used to do?”
“I am serious, darling. She killed people.”
It was almost comical how all occupants of the room turned to Katherine - well, the occupants who weren’t demons - Bonnie’s face flitted through so many emotions ranging from a confused rage to a resignation that Caroline could sympathise with.
This day was just a gift that kept on giving.
Lips pursing in a nonchalant manner, Katherine spun on her heels - which wow, how did she even do that?
“I was an assassin. It sorta came with the job.”
Bonnie shook her head. “What.”
Katherine shrugged again.
“I was a hacker from California,” Enzo mentioned, whimsical.
“And you?” Bonnie turned to her.
“My track record isn't really that exciting," she told her truthfully.
“Oh darling, do yourself some favour. You were a riot some days, especially when you ignored your dying mother's calls for a week. That got you so many points, it was almost unbelievable.”
With the utter delight on his face, it was hard to say whether he'd meant it as an insult or a compliment.
“So let me get this straight. We have an assassin, a hacker, a terrible person, and somehow you decided to add me to the mix?”
“Mediocre person,” interjected Caroline just because she could.
Rebekah’s lips spread in a slow smile, “I wonder why. It couldn't possibly have to do with all the judginess that is just rolling off you.”
Bonnie looked away.
Kol rubbed his hands against each other, turning to Klaus with an earnest eager expression. “Do we get to dip them in lava, now?”
“Come on Nik, I've been playing nice for such a long time. Now it’s time for fun”
Kol promptly shut his mouth when he got no reply. Klaus paced back and forth, face contorted in thought.
Caroline spotted Katherine edging back slowly, heels making almost no sound. She held her breath, hoping any of them could make it out of here.
Yet, Katherine screamed rebounding off an invisible force field, running back towards them.
“Oh, did that hurt?”
“Bitch,” hissed Katherine.
“We'll reboot them.”
At that everyone reverted their attention back to Klaus.
“What?” - God, if anyone else said that one more time.
“We'll reset them, start from scratch. It'll be as if they've never lived these past months.”
Horror was an ugly vicious beast when combined with fear, and both were ravenously tearing at her, preventing her from trying to keep up.
“Nik, you can't be serious. Mikael would never agree to this, he already opposed your project, do you honestly believe he will ever let you do this?”
Klaus's eyes burned with gold.
“He doesn't need to find out.”
What he said must have outrageous, for both Kol and Rebekah seemed terrified out of their wits.
Klaus ignored them, facing Caroline and the rest once more.
“Yes, a reboot should fix everything nicely.”
She drew a much needed gasp of air. “And what, you think you'll win?” she said with much more bravery than she was capable of at the moment. “We figured it out once, we'll figure it out again.”
A step, then another and he was a touch away. He leaned towards her, making her freeze up and laid a soft kiss on her left cheek, so impossibly soft that she could almost pretend that - No.
He drew back until he was out of reach and smirked, a feral wildness in his eyes.
“It was a pleasure knowing you in this life, sweetheart.”
Caroline moved to lung at him. “Don't you dare.”
Lashes fluttering at the bright light, she blinked twice when she opened her eyes; the sudden change from total darkness disconcerting. Wherever she was, it was unfamiliar and she felt herself panicking.
The door on one of the sides opened.
“Caroline?” Her head snapped up at her name, flinching back in surprise. “Come on right in.”
She didn't know why but as she entered the room behind the stranger, she thought she felt the phantom of a kiss on her cheek.
Klaus watched from afar as Caroline strolled through the open fields that surrounded her so called home. The lost, slightly heartbroken look on her face leaving him to no doubt that she'd discovered the bits of the truths he wanted her to believe.
She’d donned a deep burgundy sundress and left her hair tumbling down her back. Such a contrast to the simple clothes she wore when she’d first arrived.
He shook his head; thoughts like these were meaningless, held no use, wouldn’t help in the success of his project in any way.
So what if the place where his heart resided faintly burst with acute feeling? Human bodies were strange things.
He walked away, casting one final look. Rebekah’s party tonight had to go according to plan.
Klaus had to make this work.
“This is The Bad Place, isn’t it?” Caroline stood fierce and tall in her party dress, the other three behind her with matching expressions.
Rebekah shot him a warning glare.
He didn't even have it within in him to feel angry that they'd figured it out; his incompetent minions were a pain in the arse and they'd forked it all up with their suspicious behaviour all day. Truth be told, he would've been offended, had they not guessed the truth.
Klaus sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose before he snapped his fingers.
“This is The Bad Place,” Caroline yelled.
“We are in the bad place, forkers.”
Klaus was broken out of his musing when the door to his office unexpectedly sprang open. It certainly was something; seeing Rebekah marshing straight at him with all the fury of a thousand demons, hair frazzled at the edges and lips pursued in dismay.
“I have had it, Nik.”
He quelled the urge to roll his eyes. This argument was repeated on an almost weekly basis.
“So you told me before,” he said blithely, standing up and moving towards the door.
“Don't leave me standing here like I'm some sort of low-class demon. You should listen to me when I talk to you, I'm your sister for hell's sake.”
“What do you want, Rebekah?”
“What do I want?” she asked. He did not know whether he prefered the coolness to a screaming fit. Rebekah did make for a more disturbing sight when she was in a calculating mood. “I want this charade of yours to end.”
“And it will,” he replied, just as coolly. “Once the experiment is successful.”
“And pray tell when will that be? They've figured it out hundreds of times, five hundred and twenty four to be exact. If it's not Caroline, it's Katherine, and if not them, then either Bonnie or Enzo. When will it end because I have had it.”
He growled low in his throat. “It will end when I say it does.”
Her shoulders dropped.
“Oh, Nik,” Rebekah murmured and he loathed that gentle, coaxing, almost pitying voice of hers. He loathed it. “You don't have to go through all these lengths to gain Mikael's approval.”
His laugh was short and sharp, brutal.
“You think I'm doing this for Mikael?”
He thought of his poor substitute of a father, the way he'd mocked him in front of all the other demons the first time he'd spoke of his new idea. Mikael hadn't settled with just opposing his neighbourhood plans either, he'd deliberately tried to sabotage him, leaving messages for Caroline in the hopes that she'd crack the secret.
He thought he'd done a stellar job of intercepting the rest, but what good that had done him in the end, though?
“If not for him, then to spite him. But you don't have to keep trying to make this scheme of yours work. Turning humans’ idea of paradise and twisting it into their own brand of misery is brilliant, but it doesn't seem to function properly,” she paused. “Not when I know your heart isn't in it anymore.”
That had his neck rotating to meet her gaze so fast, he'd have died, had he been human.
Seeing that she had all of his focus, Rebekah continued on. “You don't need to do this.”
“What should I do then, oh the all-knowing Rebekah?”
Her eyes coloured with red at the taunt, but didn't rise to the bait, much to his disappointment.
“Shut it down.”
Before he could formulate a reply, she pressed on.
“Shut it down. Lock it from the outside so the other demons won't be able to come in, you are capable of that and we will help you, Kol and I. Do you think I don't see the way you've been looking at Caroline since the first reboot? Or the way you almost strangled the other three when you paired her up with them in some of the timelines? How many times have you kissed her cheeks before you reset everything? You could be with her the way you want to, Nik. Please.”
Klaus stayed silent, a raging storm inside of him. Between his sister's pleading eyes and his useless erratic heartbeats, he longed to crush something between his fists.
“You've been spending too much time around humans and their pathetic notions, sister.”
He left, not wanting anymore of her words.
Inside the office, Rebekah’s tears spilled. “Nik, you bloody idiot.”
Sometimes you had to take matters in your own hands - Rebekah had always appreciated that philosophy, well that and humans’ impeccable designs of shoe lines.
That was what she repeated inside her head as she walked to Caroline’s house. She didn't honestly remember the details about this reboot but she did starkly recall that her brother had opted for no soulmates this time, hoping that the four humans would irritate each other without that added bonus.
As if she wasn't aware that her brother was a clueless git who was clearly experiencing jealousy.
Two of the other demons in disguise nodded at her in greeting, and she gave them a sickeningly sweet smile before she rolled her eyes. The pair were such a suck up.
She opened the door to Caroline's house - it did help being the architect’s sister - to find her on the floor, legs crossed at the ankle and with an air of melancholy about her.
Caroline immediately sprang to her feet, the sadness shifting to fear and anger, fists balled at her sides.
Rebekah held her hand up before she could speak.
“Yes, we're in The Bad Place and yes my brother tricked you, and your hesitance at making it to The Good Place was not unfounded. This is a new experiment of my brother to discover new methods of torture for humans. You and your merry group of friends are all part of it. Can we skip that part?”
“Wow,” Caroline said at last. “You have zero tact, don't you?”
Her brows arched. “So what if I do?”
“At least you're self aware. I like that.”
Rebekah wanted to blast her to bits and pieces but thought better of it.
“Wait, you said ‘can we skip that part?’, what did you mean?”
She didn’t answer, yawning as she waited for Caroline to reach the inevitable conclusion.
“Oh my god.”
She rolled her eyes again, “yes this isn't your first time doing this keep up.”
“That ash-hole of a bastard.”
“And yet, you still like him,” she said in a bored voice, playing with the ends of her hair.
Caroline sputtered in indignation before stomping her foot, muttering a high-pitched ‘aww’ as she rubbed her toes.
“So what?” She asked a bit helplessly. “Do we confront him?”
Rebekah groaned, “ugh, why do humans just run head first into danger with no common sense. Of course we will not confront him, he'd just reboot you again.”
“Will what do you suggest we do?”
“We’re going to get your memories back. Follow me.”
Her heels clicked on the floor, yet she didn't hear Caroline behind her. Running her tongue over the tips of her canines, she debated whether it'd be that awful if she committed murder.
Nik'd would probably throw a fit, and she wasn't in the mood.
She looked back at Caroline “I said follow me.”
“Well, don't order me around,” Caroline said, even as she started to walk.
Her jaws clenched in annoyance. “I hope for your sake 525 is a lucky number,” Rebekah told her.
Caroline had gone with Rebekah only because of a lack of a plan on her part at the time, something she had berated herself for later.
Her feet led her back to the lake after they'd retrieved tiny glass balls of light that contained all the memories of the previous timelines, more out of muscle memory than an actual intention to go there.
She'd expected a trove in the depth of the forest but Rebekah had taken her to a tiny building that resembled an armory in the middle of the neighbourhood, charming the fire demon that guarded its gate before knocking him down.
To think that danger walked besides her for days, years ifof what Rebekah said was true, and she hadn't noticed.
The balls shimmered in the sunlight making a musical sort of noise. She looked down, inspecting them with a more attentive eye.
She hadn't had the heart to only take hers, to leave Bonnie’s, Enzo’s and Katherine’s behind.
Caroline might be a survivor and occasionally a coward but she wasn't so despicably selfish.
The balls made that noise again, and she took a tentative breath for courage. Rebekah had told her that once she had them, Klaus couldn't tamper with her mind any more.
Raising her hands, she shattered the balls on the hard rocks.
His world was in chaos.
There were screams and yells, the occasional explosion of colours in the air. Demons left and right were scrambling away from it, staying far clear on the sidewalks.
Bonnie was the only one who dared to venture out of safety.
“Klaus, what's going o-” the question was interrupted as Bonnie clutched at her chest with a pained gasp, falling to the floor and skin glowing.
Her face slackened, dazed, before gaining a semblance of normalcy. She seemed to remember that he was there, falling on her behind as she desperately tried to get away, bones weak from fatigue and fear in the way she trembled.
His eyes scanned his surroundings until they'd found his sister’s, the betrayal clear as the light of the day.
Rebekah stared back unflinchingly.
“Shut everything.” Nobody moved. “NOW.”
His shout had the desired effect.
He was left in the middle of the square, his orders carried out around him, pondering what to do next.
Night came and went, leaving behind the beginnings of dawn, casting faint light on his creation.
What a useless creation it had turned out to be.
In mere hours his minions had their shops locked and their numbers organized, Bonnie being brought back to her house to recover from the effects of the onslaught of memories.
He couldn't find Enzo or Katherine, knew they were probably hiding somewhere as their instincts demanded them to do. But they weren't the ones who he kept relentlessly searching for.
Once he had everything settled down, making sure the impenetrable bubble he'd raised around the neighbourhood was strong and withstanding, he found himself walking the familiar road to the lake, halting when he saw who he was looking for.
She was perched on the edge of one of the stones, the broken pieces of the glass besides her, back straight and a track of tears on her cheeks. There was a trail of blood that slid down the length of her leg, however she didn't appear to notice it.
The word fell from his mouth without his permission, “Caroline.”
In a slow motion, far too slow for his liking, her gaze collided with his. In her eyes were a myriad of emotions that even he, with his countless years of living, couldn't name.
Then she hurled a piece of the glass at his head.
He dodged another piece in the nick of time.
She clutched one more fragment. “Shut up.” her voice cracked. “Shut up, dammit.”
He wondered if that heart of hers hurt.
“Five hundred and twenty five times. Five hundred and twenty five. You're a psycho.”
He held back the retort of ‘actually I'm a demon’, lifting his hands in a sign of peace.
“If you'd allow me to explain to yo-”
“No, you don't get to explain, or to talk or to even snap those fingers of yours. You don't get to do any of those things.”
Caroline stood up, a noticeable shiver running through her body. He peeked at the splattered blood, wondering how deep her wounds ran.
“Was it all a trick?”
His jaws clenched. She didn't mean The Good Place façade, or the lies he'd spun for her and her friends, or the fake homes.
“So you mean to tell me that you're a supposedly higher being who'd lived for many, many years and you've never been kissed, like ever?”
He'd laughed. “Yes.”
The affirmation was just on the tip of his tongue, waiting to be uttered. Yet he couldn't say it when that stupid human heart of his throbbed inside his chest.
Caroline's eyelids closed with pain, hands shielding her face.
He dared to moved closer.
Her arms fell to her sides, defeat marring her features. He didn't know what to say.
“I hate you so much,” she said.
His fingers touched the skin of her wrist.
“How many years did you spend doing this bullshirt - oh come on, I already know this is The forking Bad Place, no need with the censoring, okay, enough.”
Klaus let out a small chuckle. “I'm afraid this is in the programming of the neighbourhood’s system.”
She didn't laugh, and he hadn't expected her to.
Her hand twitched when his thumb ran over her index finger.
“It's been close to two hundred years,” he finally admitted. “Though time works far more differently here than in the human world.”
Caroline quirked her head but she didn't comment.
“I don't forgive you,” she told him, adjusting her body so that she was facing him completely. “I’m not going to forgive you for a long time, and I'm spiteful enough to ensure that, I promise you.”
He had no doubts about that.
“But, ugh, I can't believe I'm doing this,” she grumbled. “Just- I want…. Oh whatever.”
Quite unexpectedly, he found himself with an armful of Caroline, her limbs around his waist , head fitted in the crook of his neck. She muffled an almost inaudible sob against his jacket, a tremble racking her body.
He should heal her wound before he forgot, he thought, clutching her closer, hands reflexively running through her hair, and watching the sun rise up in the sky.