"So I got the stuff you wanted," Caroline said, dumping the bag onto the cluttered table, on top of a pile of construction paper.
Damon didn't bother to look up, but Alaric smiled and thanked her before returning to his work. Caroline should go, she really should... but there was glitter everywhere and a little happy face sticker in Damon's hair and she really wanted to know what the hell was going on.
Right on cue, Damon looked up, saw her looking around with frank curiosity, and grumbled, "Why are you still here?" He looked at Alaric with mock plaintiveness. "Why is she still here?"
Alaric shrugged as he decorated the edge of the paper with a curling vine of blue glitter-glue flowers. "Actually Caroline, if you aren't busy, we could use your help."
"What, no we couldn't," Damon said, rifling through the bag Caroline had brought. He pulled out a handful of ribbon and Caroline watched, fascinated, as he began to make some kind of rose out of them.
Alaric rolled his eyes. "Seriously Damon, you really think that you're better at making happy birthday cards and feel better cards and fruit and flower arrangements than Caroline?"
Damon sniffed and said, "I'll have you know that courtship was a very serious duty in the 1800's," just as Caroline asked, "Who are all these for?"
"Klaus," Alaric answered, and there was an awkward silence as Caroline let that sink in.
"You're...wooing Klaus?" she asked.
Alaric laughed. "I guess you could put it that way."
"Um, okay." Caroline watched Damon tie a perfect bow around a rose in slight consternation, before taking a piece of card paper and idly start decorating. They worked in silence for awhile.
"Nice," Alaric said. Caroline looked up to see Damon put the finishing touches on a massive flower arrangement. It was rather tasteful, she had to admit.
Damon smirked. "I did tell you so," he said a bit archly.
"Well how was I supposed to know? As far as I know you courted one woman and then waited for her for over a century and until she turned out to be an evil bitch. So it's not like you've had a lot of practice."
Damon glared a little. "I've courted other people, Ric."
Alaric laughed. "Like who?"
Damon looked a little pained, but Alaric had leaned down to pick a marker off the floor and didn't notice. "Give me a break. I'm almost two hundred years old. Did you really think she was the only one?" Damon's face had cleared. He noticed Caroline looking at him and narrowed his eyes a little at her. What? he mouthed, looking annoyed. She nodded towards Alaric, who'd apparently decided to pick up all the other scattered bits and things strewn over the floor while he was at it. Damon followed her gaze, and there it was, the flicker she could see now that she was looking for it, something hungry and possessive.
"No," Alaric was saying. "What I thought was that you being you, you wouldn't need to do any wooing."
Damon snorted at that, but Caroline thought that if she hadn't been there, he might have preened a little. Well he didn't need to hold back for her sake. She glanced between the two of them and thought that they would be perfectly sweet together.
And at least Alaric would come back if Damon killed him or something, which was really the best anyone could hope for where Damon was involved. It sounded kind of horrible when she put it that way, Caroline reflected, but it wasn't like Damon was perfect-boyfriend material. She knew that all too well.
But maybe Alaric would be different. She hoped so, because if Damon hurt him, Elena would drown him in vervained water and Caroline would help, even if it did burn her hands.
"So what exactly is your plan?" she asked, picking up some card paper herself as Alaric began detailing their ridiculous idea, with Damon interjecting little comments.
"What is this?" Elena asked, a little bit hysterically a few days later when Caroline answered the doorbell to find her friend standing there. She brandished a letter of thick cream colored paper in Caroline's face. She took the paper from Elena and looked at the single line of writing, script neat and elegant, on it:
Manners insist I must thank you for the cards, but it is not my birthday today.
Caroline stifled a laugh and handed the paper back to Elena, the image of Klaus's confused expression strongly in her mind. "I got one too," she told her. She could feel it burning a hole in her pocket. Hers had been longer and consisted of much heartfelt gratitude and compliments. For a moment, she thought of him writing the letter, how he had sounded so sincere and earnest.
She wondered if he had ever had a pen pal before.
Before she could dismiss the idea, Caroline began composing a letter in her head after she assured Elena that everything was fine and to stop worrying already. She soon found herself in her room, pen in hand jotting down her thoughts. Half an hour later, she looked at the paper with some satisfaction. It wasn't as neat as Klaus's had been, and it wasn't written on fancy paper, but Caroline thought Klaus would appreciate it anyway. It was addressed, stamped and in the mailbox in the next few seconds before she could change her mind.
The next week or so passed much the same way. Elena would show Caroline the letters that arrived, addressed to no one, all with stilted and awkward thanks written on them, as well as another one, in a different handwriting that turned out to be Elijah's:
Please stop sending us flowers. We do not have any more vases.
Caroline wondered idly just how many cards and gifts Damon and Alaric had made and were sending. She got three letters from Klaus, and wrote two in return during this time. She wasn't sure, but she thought he sounded rather happy. He had become more personal in his letters, detailing random things that he had done, though he was still prone to paying her little compliments. Caroline found that she didn't really mind.
The next week, two of the Originals dropped by for a visit.
"What is wrong with you?" Rebekah hissed as soon as the door closed behind her. Elijah stood silently next to her, hands in his pockets.
Damon looked up from where he was lounging on the couch. "Whatever it was, we didn't do it." Alaric rolled his eyes a little.
"Oh?" Rebekah asked disdainfully. "Then what are these?" She opened her purse—Caroline had been discreetly admiring it from across the room, not that Rebekah would ever know—and upended it, causing letters and chocolates and ribbons to fall into a heap on the floor.
"Oh," Damon said. "Those."
"Yes. These," Rebekah echoed him, furious.
Damon shrugged easily. "I don't see what the problem is."
Rebekah huffed out a sharp breath, looking at Damon as if he were something she had scraped off the bottom of her shoe. "The problem is you people…showering my brother with, with affection! Klaus doesn't have friends! You don't count." She stabbed a finger at Stefan when he stirred. "He doesn't know how to deal with all this!" She aimed a savage kick at the pile.
Damon stared at her for a moment and then looked like he was about to start laughing. Caroline glared at him, hoping he would control himself. She was not going to have her heart ripped out over birthday cards.
"What my sister is trying to say is," Elijah said from the doorway, quiet and measured, "Klaus is uncertain of your intentions. He has not shared his thoughts on the matter with either of us but his mood is becoming more and more erratic." He paused. "I am not certain how to proceed," he admitted. "Though perhaps you should attempt to limit your enthusiastic letter-writing."
The Originals had left soon after that, with Rebekah's black glare attempting to burn holes into the walls and their heads. Damon waited until he was sure they were gone before cheerfully saying, "That went well." He fist bumped Alaric, to almost everyone's consternation. "Score one for us, right?"
Elena looked at him despairingly and Damon distracted her from whatever she had been about to say by linking his arms through Alaric's and announcing. "Oh and by the way I'm dating your history teacher, Elena." Elena turned her wide eyes on Alaric and he flushed a little. Bonnie looked horrified and Stefan looked blank and uncaring.
Caroline slipped out of the room while everyone was being shocked, pausing for a moment in the hall where a small puppy with floppy ears peeked out from a door. It had a large blue blow around its neck and a tag that said "For Klaus". She owed Klaus a letter and if she hurried, she might even be able to finish in time for the mailman to pick up that day.
And being a responsible person, she'd also be sure to ask him whether he was a dog or cat person.