Caroline really wasn't surprised to see Elijah opening the door. Even though he had originally showed up in Mystic Falls intent on killing his brother, he hadn't been able to follow through the first time around either. Be it through leverage or the simple fact that they were family, Klaus always seemed to be able to bring his siblings over to his side.
She was pulled from her musings by the sound of Klaus' voice welcoming her. She had thought she was prepared. After all, she'd heard his voice countless times since Ben's near-death. She was even growing used to the edge in it that had never been directed at her before she came back. Part her, however, still expected to see the hybrid who had promised to be her last love. The creature greeting her was most definitely not that Klaus.
The vampire rising from the couch was colder and had a much crueler look in his eyes. She was well aware that the Klaus she had known could easily have turned this look on anyone else. Maybe, if she searched her memory, she could remember him looking at her like this the first time they had met, right before he made Tyler into a hybrid. The small kernel of hope she hadn't even known she nursed within her died with the realization that there was no trace of the hybrid who had sworn to be her last love in the creature before her.
"You look as if you were expecting someone else, love."
His look was amused and more than a bit smug. He might not be the Klaus she was used to dealing with, but she would not let him get the upper hand. If you wanted things to go your way, you had to establish dominance –or, at the very least, manage to appear not to be intimidated—early on.
"To be honest, I was expecting someone taller, better dressed, and slightly older-looking. You don't even have a mustache to twirl, and I thought those came standard in the villain welcome package."
In a blink he was suddenly in her right in front of her. To be honest, she had actually been expecting a hand around her throat, not just the glare. Anticipating his lashing out at her comment kept her from screaming or trying to get away. As it was, it took all of her years of practice putting on a good front at community events to stop her terror from showing.
"You went to all this trouble to set up negotiations with me, yet you don't really seem to know who you are dealing with."
Every fiber of her being was demanding she find a way to calm his temper, but her plan depended on him believing she was in complete control. Oddly enough, seeing Elijah out of the corner of her eye, looking like he was poised to step in, helped her keep calm.
"I know exactly who you are. You're the hybrid who can't access his werewolf side and needs a doppelgänger, a moonstone, a werewolf, and a vampire to change that. What you don't realize yet is that I'm the only one who can deliver all of that to you with no fuss and at a very reasonable cost."
Caroline knew it was a risk to reveal how much she knew when he was so close and so angry but, at the last minute, she decided that being as honest as possible up front would take her farther with Klaus than playing coy would. She mentally shook off the image of a certain drawing with the inscription thanking her for her honesty. It wouldn't do her any good to confuse this Klaus with the one she had once known.
She wasn't sure if Elijah was genuinely curious or if he was just trying to defuse the situation when he coolly asked, "Would this be more information from your dead witch?"
As Klaus casually walked back toward the couch, his manner deceptively calm, Caroline got a look at Elijah and found she was wrong. He wasn't curious, nor had he been trying to divert his brother's anger. He was trying to see if she was a threat to Klaus. As long as the both of them were there, she couldn't let her guard down for a second or else she would end up dead.
"Actually, yes. She's learned that Silas' followers plan to awaken him. She's also aware that Silas has a plan to use Klaus' need to have his curse broken and create hybrids somehow. She wants to make sure he can't use that against Klaus to get what he wants."
Caroline felt a frisson of irritation at the sound of both Elijah and Klaus's mocking chuckles.
"Dear girl, Silas is nothing but a fairytale."
Caroline couldn't stop her eyebrows from rising at this coming from Elijah of all people.
"And so are the original vampires. Just a bedtime story told to the freshly turned to keep them from thinking they're invincible."
At this, they both seemed slightly more inclined to listen to her. She looked toward Klaus, though she remained acutely aware of Elijah.
"You don't have to believe in Silas, that's not important to us. But I've got information on things you want, Klaus. Things you don't even know you're going to want yet. I'm planning on making sure you get those things, but nothing in this world is free."
With that, Klaus' eyes lit up and he leaned forward with his elbows on his knees.
"And so we begin negotiations!"
He gestured toward the high-backed chair across from him and, as Caroline moved to sit down, she was conscious of both Elijah moving to take a seat by Klaus and movement in the doorway toward what she knew was Maddox's room. However, it was a different witch that entered. While she had never seen the woman, she felt pretty secure in her guess that it was Greta now walking up to stand behind where Klaus was seated. Unable to stop herself, she addressed her.
"Your father and Luka wanted me to tell you they miss you and send their love."
Caroline enjoyed the fact that Greta was visibly thrown by her comment, but she was quickly distracted from the sight by Klaus' chuckle.
"I can see there's no need to introduce my witch. Greta, dear…"
Before he could continue, he was interrupted by the vibrating of his phone. His amused expression quickly fell as he replied. When he looked up at Caroline once again, she could see that whatever message he had received could possibly spell trouble for her. The saccharine in his tone did nothing to reassure her.
"Caroline, sweetheart, what ever happened to that nasty little vampire your lot had desiccating away in Stefan's basement?"
Caroline felt a sense of relief at his question. On a hunch, she had convinced Stefan and Bonnie to hide Damon's body when Klaus had suddenly moved up their meeting. Of course, she had no answer for Stefan when he'd asked what use Klaus would have for his brother, but he'd complied anyway. Now, to find a way to lie to a hybrid who would probably know she was lying without pissing him off.
"Stefan found out about my visit to his brother. He's not really convinced that I won't decide to stake him some day, so he's hidden him from me. Of course, I'm going to find him again, because I do have plans that involve him."
Klaus' chuckle and the flash of his dimples reassured Caroline that, while he probably didn't buy her obvious lie, he was still more amused than angry with her.
"We'll talk about your ideas for who should be the sacrifices later. For now, explain to me why I shouldn't just grab up my doppelgänger and complete the ritual without any negotiations? I'm not the one who needs her alive afterward."
With a small internal prayer to whoever watched out for baby vampires in over their heads, Caroline gave him a small and serene smile.
"Of course you need her alive. After all, you do need her to break the secondary curse, and I doubt you want to wait with the hope that another doppelgänger will pop up."
Although she spoke as though everyone knew there was a secondary curse, she was well aware that she had just caught him by surprise. First, she schooled her features into an expression of mild surprise, and then gave an indulgent smile. If the Klaus she once knew could see her now, he'd probably be enjoying the show she was putting on. Mentally pushing back thoughts of a Klaus who no longer existed, she focused on the moment.
"The witch who repressed your werewolf half apparently planned for the possibility of you breaking that curse. The secondary curse insures that you won't be able to make hybrids without doppelgänger blood. And what's the point of being the original hybrid if you can't make more?"
While he was initially shocked, he quickly recovered and was giving her a very assessing look. Elijah, apparently, decided that it was time for him to step in.
"And we should just take your word for this?"
Luckily, she had been expecting doubts.
"You and Klaus can have Maddox, Greta, and her family all look into it. The curse is very real."
Even before she could look back at him, Klaus was questioning her again. She really wished she didn't have to deal with them both right now.
"Assuming there is a secondary curse, again, what's to stop me from simply taking Elena and having my witches break it?"
Maintaining a serene smile –and wasn't that getting harder the longer this took? —she answered, "Convenience."
At the questioning look she got from both brothers, Caroline continued, "If you take Elena, you'll have to wait at least another month, probably more, before you can break the initial curse while bringing Elena back and coming up with a way to break the secondary curse. If you make a deal with us, we already have a way to do both without you having to wait."
The smirk Klaus sent her way was amused, as though they were playing an interesting game instead of bargaining for lives.
"And why should I let the others live as well?"
She got the feeling that he had already decided to go along with at least part of the plan, but that he was enjoying the process. It was definitely something the version of him she had known would do.
"Elena won't go along with it if the others don't live," –a blatant lie since Elena, as much as Caroline loved her, didn't really extend her compassion to perfect strangers— "and we won't force her. Given that we have more than one way to kill or incapacitate you if you try, you forcing her isn't an option either."
The last was said not as a threat, but more like she was going over something they both knew for the sake of formality. Which, if she really thought about it, was what was going on.
The entire time she and Klaus were talking, Caroline had been aware of Greta in the background, chanting in a language she didn't know. Now, the witch came forward and, when Klaus looked toward her, gave a subtle nod of her head. Caroline could only assume that she had been looking into her claims.
"So, then, your witches do their spell, and then after the curse is broken I take off with Elena to make my hybrids?"
His tone clearly showed that he didn't believe that was the way she wanted it to go and he was just waiting for her to explain herself. However, she wasn't really ready for that.
"That's a negotiation for another time. Right now, we're just concerned about the here and now. Do you agree to my plan?"
Giving a show of thinking it over, Klaus leaned back in his seat. Then, with an indulgent smile, he answered, "Yes. With the small caveat that you're not the vampire used in the ritual."
Caroline hadn't seen this coming. If it had been the Klaus that once was, or even Elijah now, she could understand it. However, she hadn't prepared for this. She could only hope that this wasn't a deal breaker for him.
"That's not negotiable. I've got everything planned out. If you're worried about the spell not working for some reason, the Bennetts can supply a copy of it to your witches to look over."
What Caroline didn't say was that it would be a modified copy of the spell. There are some things that no one besides her, Bonnie, and Sheila needed to know beforehand. Klaus seemed to be somewhat satisfied by her assurance.
"It appears, Caroline, that we have a deal. Perhaps a drink to celebrate?"
Relief rushed through her. So far, everything was going relatively smoothly. Now, it was time to possibly rock the boat.
"Actually, that was just the first deal."
Klaus stopped midway to standing and sent her a surprised look.
"The first of how many, sweetheart?"
Praying that she managed to do this without pissing him off, she gave a large grin and said, "Just three for today."
Looking partly resigned and partly curious, he settled back down and gestured for her to continue.
"Part two. The dagger that you wanted me to use on Elijah? I'm going to need all of the others."
As a cold mask settled over his face, Caroline pulled out her phone, a picture of Mikael already displayed when she unlocked her screen. Holding it up so that he could clearly see the image, she continued.
"In exchange, we take you to this desiccated vampire who I've been assured you really want to get your hands on."
For a few seconds she could see a strange mixture of emotions pass through his eyes, too fast for her to identify. As he took the phone from her hand, his expression settled into simple curiosity.
"Your work, then?"
With a somewhat proud smile, she corrected him, "No, actually. About fifteen years ago, he came after Elena. A Bennett witch did this."
While she might not care for Abby too much –memories of the woman leaving Bonnie still made her hurt for her friend – she was very much impressed that the woman had gone up against someone she thought unstoppable with magic she was probably loath to use.
After watching Klaus stare at the picture for a few moments, Elijah had a question for Caroline.
"What exactly do you plan to do with the daggers, should we agree?"
A petty part of Caroline wondered if Elijah actually thought he had a say in any of this. Of course, she wasn't really familiar with their relationship; It was possible that Elijah wasn't really Klaus' butt monkey, regardless of how much it seemed like he was. She did her best not to let her opinion of him show.
"It's the witches that want them. I've been assured in no uncertain terms that they will not be used against your family."
While Elijah looked ready to question her further, Klaus quickly interrupted.
"I'll text you my new address soon. You and your witches can come pick up the daggers I have then. However, you'll have to wait until you take me to Mikael in order to get the one he has. Now, the third deal?"
She had actually expected that one to take far more convincing. Apparently, she was still underestimating how much his fear of his father ruled him. She quickly put that to the back of her mind as she focused on Klaus as he slowly handed her phone back. It was a pity he was no longer feeling amused since this part could be the one with which she would most need that indulgent mood from him.
"I have information about someone who is planning to kill you and your siblings. It's a very credible enemy who is more than capable of succeeding. Of course, if you knew about the plan, it would be very easy for you to stop them in their tracks. If you agree to let Katherine go, free and clear, I'll let you know who it is."
Klaus definitely didn't look amused when she finished. In fact, he looked very nearly pissed.
"I would believe you, Caroline, save for the fact that you've already expressed your need for me to remain alive."
Knowing she was in danger of crossing a line with him, Caroline still felt the need to continue. She wasn't sure why. It wasn't as though she and Katherine liked each other too much. In fact, she was pretty sure that Katherine would throw her under the bus without hesitation. However, she had already come this far.
"We can easily hold off this person without you even knowing who it is. Then, when we no longer need you, we can simply stop delaying the inevitable."
She was lying, of course. There was no way she would let Klaus die knowing that his death meant hers. However, he didn't need to know that. When he continued to stare at her, Caroline decided that it was smart make a hasty exit.
"I've given you a lot to think about. Take your time deciding, it's not like we're getter any older."
She had made it to the door and even had her hand on the knob when his voice stopped her.
"She stays wherever she is hidden until the ritual is over. I don't see or hear from her at all. Now, will I have to find wherever she's being kept in order to issue the pardon, or will your word be enough for her?"
When she turned to face him, his expression clearly said that he wasn't sure if he'd done the right thing with this gamble. Elijah's expression was pure shock. Trying to make it as painless as possible, Caroline held up her phone once again and told him that a quick video of him would be enough. He managed to look like he had in no way been pressured or bribed to set Katherine free during the recording. After she stopped it, however, he looked at her expectantly, so she wasted no time in deliver on her end.
"Your mother has a couple of ways she's connected to the world. She has plans to come back and kill you and all your siblings. We'll be able to hold her off for a while, but it would be best if you did something on your end since you have her body. Again, you can have your witches look into it if you want."
Two days later, and Klaus was still internally reeling from the news that his mother was actively seeking his death. However, what occupied his mind now, as he brooded in one of the back rooms and waited for Caroline and her witches to show up, was how much she actually knew. Until she had informed him of his mother's plot, he wouldn't have guessed she was aware of the identity of the witch who cursed him. If she was also aware of how his mother died, that he was the one to kill her and not Mikael as he'd told his siblings, would she use it against him?
He was distracted from his thoughts by the sound of Kol and Rebekah already squabbling. All three of his daggered siblings had made to attack him as soon as they had regained consciousness. Elijah had just barely been able to stop them. His brother's explanation of the current situation had quickly dissolved into a heated discussion regarding their plans to stay or abandon Klaus all together. While he had feigned disinterest and left, there was a knot of unease settling deep in his gut at the thought of his family leaving him.
He had just slouched lower into his chair in front of the empty fireplace and raised a glass of bourbon to his lips when he heard the sound of a vehicle pulling up in front of his new home. Setting down the glass as he stood, he quickly straightened his clothing and strode toward the front of the house, doing his best to appear unaffected by his siblings' discussion. As he entered the foyer, a few of the vampires he had used to staff his home were leading in Caroline, who looked as if she were dressed for a day of shopping with an over-large bag hanging from her elbow; she was accompanied by the two Bennett witches. Seeing Caroline reminded him that he would soon have his curse broken and his father dead. The rest he could figure out.
Just as he stepped close to Caroline, he felt another vampire come up beside him. Looking to the side, he saw that it was one of his servants carrying the tray bearing the three daggers he'd pulled from his siblings just this morning.
Gesturing toward the tray and giving her a charming smile, he said "Well then, love, here are the daggers I promised."
At this the witches accompanying Caroline both stepped forward. The grandmother was holding a box that looked to be older than she was. Seeming to sense the question forming on the tip of his tongue, Caroline spoke.
"To reassure you that we won't be secretly using these against your family, we're going to seal them in this box so that it takes both you and Sheila to open it."
While she was speaking, Caroline was beginning to transfer the daggers into the lined box. Before she could transfer the last of his dagger in though, she was stopped by the sound of Finn's voice.
Klaus could hear the rustle of clothing as what he assumed to be everyone turned to stare at his eldest brother. Klaus himself, however, remained looking at the box as he listened.
"We can't trust that he won't convince the witch to open the box with him so that he can dagger any one of us again."
Klaus could hear both Kol and Rebekah chiming in with their agreement. Although Elijah remained silent, he was aware his brother agreed with the others. To be honest, he couldn't blame them. He had already started trying to come up with different arguments to get at least one dagger back. His attention was brought back to the present by the sound of Finn striding toward them.
"I'll be the one involved in place of Klaus."
Automatically, Klaus moved to argue against this. Out of all his siblings, he knew that Finn was the most likely to leave and never return. Although they might have never been close, the thought left a cold pit of fear in Klaus' stomach. He was barely aware of his own argument, let alone what Finn was saying in return. He could feel the air around them growing more and more tense and was aware that it could come to blows, but he couldn't seem to stop himself.
The near frantic yell silenced them both as they turned to Caroline. Her eyes were opened wide and she was wearing a very strained smile.
"There's absolutely no reason why we can't key the lock to both of you. No need to fight about it."
"I agree. Once we have all the daggers, then both Klaus and Finn can be used to lock them away."
Having finished his pronouncement, Elijah strode toward Caroline, a charming smile on his face and his eyes locked on hers. Klaus rankled a bit at that, but Caroline didn't appear to actually be charmed by his brother. As petty as it was, that did please him.
"I understand it's a terrible breach of etiquette to return a gift, but I was hoping you would forgive me."
At this, Elijah produced the dagger Caroline had given him –the very same one Klaus had arranged to be buried in his brother's heart— from lord only knows where and handed it over. Though Caroline smiled politely, she didn't wear anything resembling a besotted expression. He knew there were more than a few reasons he liked the girl. Feeling his brother had monopolized more than enough of her time, Klaus decided to take control of the conversation.
"The witches are getting the daggers, for whatever purpose, and I'm getting the location of a powerful and very desiccated enemy. I do have to wonder how you managed to negotiate a deal where you received nothing."
Though his tone was a vague approximation of impressed, Caroline's look assured him that she knew he suspected that she was getting something out of it. Her next words only confirmed it.
"Well…" the word was drawn out and her tone and expression contained just a hint of teasing. He couldn't help but return her slightly flirtatious smile even as he waited for the catch. "While I don't have any use for the daggers, I do need to speak with Rebekah and Kol. They have information I need."
Part of him was pleased that Caroline seemed to get the most out of every move she made. Life was far more interesting with intelligent people who presented a challenge without needing to resort to violence or outright threats. He was deliberately choosing to ignore that she had threatened him over the potential death of the laughable vampire hunter.
Elijah, however, seemed less enthralled and more suspicious, if one could judge by the cold way he said "Silas," as if it were less a question than a statement.
Before Caroline could answer, Klaus found himself staring at the back of Kol's head. As he quickly maneuvered himself to a position where he could attempt to hold his brother back should the need arise, he caught sight of Caroline's face and the look on it which was so very similar to the one she had worn when he had done the same to her just two short days ago. He did have to give her credit, she had an excellent poker face when the need arose.
"Tell me, darling, are you planning to wake Silas up? Perhaps he's promised you the return of a loved one?"
As if a vampire roughly sixty times her age wasn't currently standing nose to nose with her, Caroline answered in a conversational tone, "I do plan on waking him up. But only long enough to shove the cure to immortality down his throat and rip out his heart."
He could feel the tension in Kol's body dissipate as his brother tilted his head. Though it was obvious he wanted her to expand on that explanation, Caroline had clearly finished the conversation for now.
"We can talk about that, and the information I need from your sister, later. For now," at this point, she reached into her purse and pulled out a stake that haunted more of his nightmares than he cared to admit before holding it out to him and continuing, "I think it's time for a field trip!"
It had taken a few moments to convince Elijah to stay back with the others, but eventually he'd seen reason. After that it was a four-hour drive to North Carolina. The drive wasn't made entirely in silence, however. They were a short distance from their destination when Caroline, who was in the passenger's seat beside him staring out the window, began to talk about what would happen after the ritual.
"One of the ways your mother is going to try and kill you is through Finn."
At this, she turned and looked at Klaus.
"He wants to die, and he wants all of you to die with him. While you may be able to stop your mother from coming back, anyone else could still use him against you. You need to give him something that makes him want to live more than he wants your death."
While he hadn't even thought of the possibility that any of his siblings would wish to die, let alone wish the whole family to die, it didn't take more than a moment for the solution to present itself. Finn was, after all, the only one of them who had managed to find real love while a vampire, and she was still around waiting for him. He didn't have time to respond before Caroline, apparently confident he would find a solution to the Finn situation, continued onto another matter.
"Also, you do know that when you make hybrids there'll be a sire bond, right?"
It was actually something Klaus had been counting on. With a smile, he responded "That's half the point in making them, love. They will be loyal without fail."
She didn't return his smile.
"Sire bonds can be broken. In fact, Silas' followers are counting on that and are planning to wait until you make enough hybrids, turn them against you, and then set you up to slaughter them."
Since Caroline seemed to be in a talkative mood, Klaus decided now would be a good time to get as many answers as possible.
"Why would Silas' followers be so interested in my hybrids and me killing them?"
He hadn't believed it possible, but Caroline's expression seemed to get even more serious.
"They want to use the sacrifice of the hybrids, along with two other sacrifices, to help Silas drop the veil between our world and the supernatural afterlife." She continued on, answering the question he hadn't asked yet, "We want them to think that's still possible so that they'll show up here and we can sabotage the competition and not worry about them getting to Silas first."
He had almost forgotten they had company, but the Bennett witch spoke up from the back and reminded him.
"It's an unnecessary precaution since they don't have a descendant of Qetsiyah to open the tomb for them. However, they do have an artifact that we need, so it's better to kill two birds with one stone."
Klaus found himself intrigued.
"And do we have one of her decedents, then?"
Sheila's eyes met his in the review mirror, though she remained silent. It didn't take that far of a leap to assume that the Bennetts were the witches they needed. Deciding not to press the issue, Klaus came back to the discussion about the sire bond with his hybrids.
"Since you seem to have it all figure out, Caroline, how are we going to prevent Silas' followers from using the hybrids against me?"
The half smirk she sent him lacked smugness. It was more like she was resigned to an argument he didn't realize was coming.
"You're going to help the hybrids break the bond before anyone ever shows up."
He would never admit to it, but his mind went completely blank for a moment. Caroline apparently took his silence as permission to continue.
"You'll take me along with you on the search for werewolf packs and I will negotiate a deal where you get what you want, loyal hybrids, and the packs get what they need, protection from those who wish to see them all dead."
Klaus could feel his fangs itching to drop and his hands tightening on the wheel as he fought to remind himself that he needed the vampire beside him alive more than he needed to kill her for her insolence.
"Tell me, dear Caroline, why I should agree to such a thing."
Caroline's expression remained resigned, but it was Sheila who answered him.
"You'll agree, hybrid, because you want to be able to make more hybrids beyond Elena's lifetime. We can enable you to do so without having to use a doppelgänger's blood. However, we'll only agree to do the spell if you agree to go along with our plan."
Before he could reply, Caroline pointed out the front window toward a cemetery they were nearing.
"We're here. We'll worry about the deals we've already made for now and you can think about our proposition after."
Putting all thoughts of the future to the back of his mind, Klaus prepared himself for what as to come. He hated that there were still traces of fear at the thought of being in the same room as his father. As the witch released the spell and Caroline opened the doors, Klaus did his best to keep his breathing even and hide his turmoil. Klaus pushed off the lid of the tomb and stared down Mikael's open eyes. For all the vampire's immobility, he could still feel the hatred radiating off of him.
He quickly searched the monster who had hunted him and, once found the dagger he owed Caroline, pocketed it. With a smirk, Klaus took the stake from the back waistband of his jeans where he had it stored and twirled it in front of his father. He reveled in the thrill the trace of fear in the old man's eyes gave him.
"You know, perhaps I should have brought the family to see this. Hell, I could still drag you back home and let them witness this. I could invite some of the more powerful creatures I know, let them see that I always take care of the threats against me and those I care for."
Klaus was just getting into it when Caroline's tired voice interrupted him.
"If you do that, if you give this moment that much importance, he's going to haunt you forever. Your existence will always be divided into before and after Mikael's death. You don't have to forgive him and you don't have to make peace with him. Just don't give him any more power. Let him go. Eliminate him like you would any other small threat and he will be a footnote in your history, not the focus of it."
Without waiting for his reaction, she exited the tomb, taking Sheila with her. Klaus was left staring at his father with a choice to make. Perhaps the girl had a point. After all, what greater punishment could he deliver to his tormentor than to have him be forgotten. With no fanfare and no further dramatics, he easily pushed the white oak stake that had been meant for his heart into Mikael's and then watched as the old man went up in flames.
When he exited the tomb he found Caroline and Sheila waiting for him just outside the tomb. The look Caroline sent him was a strange mixture of pride and understanding. It was… unexpected. He silently handed her the dagger before walking towards the vehicle, aware of the both of them following him. As he came to the driver's side of the car and looked over the roof to where Caroline was now standing on the other side, he came to a small realization.
"You knew he was my father."
A small nod of Caroline's head was all the confirmation he needed. Taking a deep breath, Klaus decided to do something he hadn't done in nearly a thousand years. He made the choice to trust someone.
"Let my witches look over the spell. If it checks out, I'll do things your way."