chapter rating: teen/pg-13
you know I will adore you ('til eternity)
I'll make you happy, baby,
just wait and see…
For every kiss you give me,
I'll give you three…
Oh, since the day I saw you,
I have been waiting for you.
Bonnie woke slowly, drawing in a deep breath, a yawn forcing her lips apart. She blinked repeatedly against the reaching arms of the sun, creeping through the parted, white lace curtains. Through half-lidded eyes, she stared for a long moment, her brow furrowed. There was a tree outside the window, dressed with ripe red apples, large enough that the branches seemed to bend under the weight of them. She watched the leaves gently rustled from a faint breeze, a bird walking along the length of one windy branch, chirping cheerfully. Bonnie watched it hop around happily as the dawn invaded her ears. When it finally flew off, wings beating quickly, she sleepily watched the sun crawl up the wood slat wall. She frowned, becoming more alert then, and cast her eyes around in an effort to understand where she was. The room was unfamiliar, despite the fact that she was curled up in a very warm, very comfortable bed. Soft sheets and a heavy blanket weighed down on her, one of her feet sticking out, her toes wiggling against the cool air coming in through the open window.
This wasn't her bedroom. This… wasn't her apartment or her house or any house she could ever remember being in. And, more importantly, the last thing she remembered was standing in the middle of the woods as the Other Side collapsed around her and—
Abruptly, Bonnie's head turned to the left and found none other than Damon Salvatore lying beside her, fast asleep. He was on his back, his head turned in her direction, eyes closed, deceptively innocent. The blanket was tucked only half way up his bare chest, his hair mussed and his skin… She could feel his arm against hers. He was warm. Without thinking, and more than eager to blame it on being confused and only half-awake, she leaned over, pressing her ear down against his chest.
He let out a strangled breath and opened his eyes a little, staring down at her, her hair fanned out over his skin. "Not the wake-up I was expecting, Judgy… You lost?"
"Shh!" she demanded.
He pursed his lips at her before opening them to, no doubt, get into an unnecessary argument with her.
She reached up and slapped her hand over his mouth. "Can you feel it?"
He raised an eyebrow at her question, in part, she was sure, because he had no way of answering when she was covering his mouth.
Rolling her eyes, she said, "Damon, your heart is beating."
His brows during down in confusion before he went completely still, and then his hand was reaching up to his neck, pressing in deep in search of a pulse. When his eyes widened abruptly, she sat up.
"You're… alive," she said, staring at him searchingly.
His fingers quickly dug into his mouth, searching around, and then said, "No fangs. I… I'm human."
Bonnie found herself at a loss for words. This made no sense. They died. The Other Side collapsed. So why were they here? Why were they living and breathing and… in bed together? It came out a soft whisper, a question more than a statement: "Grams?" She'd said she'd done something, hadn't she? She'd planned for some backdoor hope at reviving Bonnie, or at least giving her a chance at… peace. Anything other than oblivion. But here she was, in a bed, with a pulse and air in her lungs, and the sun slowly creeping over the window sill.
"So, what? This is take two on life?" Damon asked, pushing up to a seated position, his back leaning on two stacked pillows, stuffed up against the wrought iron bars of the bed. "What are your witchy little ancestors playing at? Were they all out of two bedrooms in the afterlife or what?"
"You think I know? I'm just as confused as you are," she returned, her eyes darting around thoughtfully. "Do you know where we are? I mean… Do you recognize anything?"
Damon took a deep breath and let it out slowly before he shoved the blanket off his legs and stood from the bed.
Bonnie felt a sudden stab of relief to find he was wearing pants. She wouldn't have put it past him to have lost them in the crossover, nor would she had been surprised if he'd decided to walk around in his birthday suit just to irk her. Walking around the bed, he made his way to the window and shoved his head outside to take a look around. She watched him impatiently, asking, "Well?" when he didn't immediately tell her anything.
"Nope. No idea," he replied, leaning back inside. "Little chilly out though. Feels weird."
"Can we focus? We have no idea where we are or why! Shouldn't we… I don't know, do something?"
He shrugged. "Like what?"
"I… I don't know. I just… This isn't what I was expecting," she sighed, her shoulders slumped.
"Look, we're dead… Kind of." He waved a dismissive hand. "Maybe this is heaven, or maybe it isn't. But until we take a look around, see where we are, we can't really do much."
"So what do you suggest? We just… go outside, walk around the neighborhood?" She raised an incredulous eyebrow.
"Before we woke up, you were ready to blink out of existence entirely, maybe you should just be glad that we didn't." He turned on his heel and started for the door then. "I hope this place has hot water, 'cause I need a shower."
Bonnie stared after him, shaking her head, and then hopped off the bed to follow after him. "Damon!"
He glanced at her over his shoulder as he walked down the hall, glancing around and checking the doors he passed. "Linen closet… Storage…? Another linen closet... How many linens do we have…? Ah, bathroom." He flipped the light on and walked toward the shower stall set up in the corner, a claw-foot tub opposite it. He reached inside and turned the tap, leaving his hand behind to test the water. "We sharing, Bon-Bon, or does the afterlife reserve some privacy?"
Putting her hands on her hips, she said, "Fine, but when you're done, we need to sit down and figure some things out."
"What, like a chores list? I'll vacuum, you dust. Preferably in a cute French maid's outfit."
She sighed his name again, heavy with exasperation. "Damon, this is not normal."
"What, in our completely abnormal lives, is normal?" he wondered, shaking his head. He reached down, hooking his thumbs in the sides of his pajama pants. "Last chance not to see the goods, Bennett…" He smirked then and gave her a wink. "I won't hold it against you if you linger."
Rolling her eyes, Bonnie grabbed the door handle and yanked on it, slamming the door loudly before she stomped off down the hallway, bristling when she heard his amused laughter chase after her. Of all the people to be trapped in the afterlife with… Then again, she wasn't so sure it was the afterlife. Maybe Damon had a point. They could take a walk around the neighborhood, see who else had traveled on over. Maybe her Grams was somewhere out there and she could explain what was going on.
Deciding she would need a shower too, she took a walk around the house in hopes of wasting time. She stepped out of the hall and into a kitchen and dining room area, a large fireplace directly across from a quaint little dining table, wearing a small glass jar of slightly wilted flowers and salt and pepper shakers. The kitchen was nice, a long island in the middle, topped with a few appliances. Against the wall was cherry wood countertops with a double sink, stove and fridge. The place was clean, smelling lightly of… was that cinnamon? The cupboards were filled with matching plates, cups, and bowls, silver pots and pans, the fridge was stocked with food, and a Kiss the Cook apron hung from a hook on the wall beside a calendar. There was a pantry, overflowing with everything she could think of, and a small closet with a mop, broom, and dust pan.
Moving through the kitchen, she paused beside the front door, a window set in it to see whoever came knocking. She could hear the faint song of a wind chime and peered outside to the small porch, a creaking swing gently dancing. There were various pots of flowers and plants set all around and the yard was nicely kept, a healthy green and newly mowed. There were stones set in a pathway leading down a small hill to the sidewalk. The driveway had a silver Prius in it, the keys of which hung on a hook by the door, over where a three or four different pairs of men's and women's shoes sat. A coat rack wore a nice autumn jacket she assumed was her own and a black and red checkered work jacket that looked soft to the touch.
She turned on her heel and hugged her arms around herself, chewing on her lip as she continued her curious search. There was a door leading into a small laundry room with a basket half full of clothes the other half already folded up on a counter, waiting to be put away. There was a couch, big enough for two people to comfortably share, end tables on either side of it, and close enough to the fireplace to enjoy its warmth. There was no television, just a radio on the island that looked out on the dining and living room. Bookshelves stood tall on either side of the fireplace, stocked full of every title she could and couldn't recognize, some in languages she couldn't begin to guess at. She ran her hand over a plaid blanket tossed over the back of the couch and wandered around a little more, pausing by the coffee table, where a few of her favorite magazines sat, a few more on natural herbs and homemade crafts. A mason jar full of cinnamon sticks sat in the center, cornered by two unlit candles.
"So, what'd you find?"
She looked up abruptly, briefly surprised to see Damon standing in front of her, rubbing a towel over his head, making his dark hair into messy, wet spikes. He was dressed. Sort of. His shirt was unbuttoned and left open, and his jeans fell rather low on his hips. She refused to let her gaze linger as a bead of water tripped down his skin from his throat and instead met his gaze. "We have food, clean clothes, a car…"
"Running water." He hung his towel around his neck and held onto the ends with his hands. "There's another room in the back too, thought it was storage, but it looks like an office, it's full of boxed up merchandise. Herbal, witchy-looking stuff, so I'm thinking it's yours… There's a few boxes you had special ordered, not even opened yet. Looks like you make the rest of it yourself though." He grinned. "Or maybe you have a few minions to do your bidding."
"You make it sound like there's another me, one that lived this life…" she pointed out.
He shrugged. "Maybe there is. Maybe we're in alternate-Bonnie's world. Where she's a normal human with a candle store and a hot boyfriend."
"Or maybe it's just a suggestion of what I could do…" She sighed, rubbing her hands over her arms. "This is weird. Don't you think this is weird?"
"Seen weirder." He stuck his pinkie finger in his ear and wiggled it around in an effort to get water out from inside. "C'mon, you shower, I'll make us something to eat, and we'll figure things out after."
Bonnie sighed, not exactly happy with the idea, but unable to come up with anything better. Walking past him, she made her way down the hall. There was a silk robe hanging on the back of the door, a deep violet color, that she assumed was supposed to be hers. Stripping out of her clothes, she tossed her pajamas into the laundry basket against the wall, and hopped into the shower. If they really were stuck there, she planned on using the bathtub to the fullest, but for now she needed to be quick. She wanted answers and she didn't feel like waiting for them.
By the time she got out of the shower and was dressed, she found the kitchen empty. Panic bubbled up inside her as she called out for Damon, searching around. As much as she'd kicked up a fuss about him being there and not worrying about their circumstances, he was still the only person she knew who was there with her. Since the door leading outside was cracked open, she took it as a sign and stepped outside, shouting a little more frantically than she wanted, "Damon!?"
"Over here!" he answered.
Bonnie turned and found, with some uncertainty, that he was standing in the neighbor's yard, petting their dog and nodding along to something the older man was saying. Bonnie walked over, arms wrapped around herself protectively and offered a forced smile. "Hi…?"
Standing, Damon stepped back and wrapped an arm around her, pulling her in close to his side. "You remember our neighbor, Mister Bernard…" He flashed his eyes wide at her and grinned back at their neighbor. "We're still working on names. It's been a busy month since we moved in." His hand squeezed her hip and Bonnie jumped a little.
"Yeah, yes! Busy month. So, uh, so many boxes to unpack and… stuff." She winced at her lackluster acting.
"Mister Bernard was just telling me how nice it is to have neighbors again. Our new place was empty for quite a while, no bites while it was on the market… So he's happy to see some new faces on the block."
Bonnie smiled at their neighbor, a man pushing, if not past, his sixties. He looked nice, dressed in khaki shorts and a plaid shirt. He wore his socks like her father did, rolled up as near to his knees as they would stretch.
"Call me Tom," he said, reaching over to shake Bonnie's hand in a friendly fashion. "I was telling your boyfriend here to keep an eye out for your other neighbor, Gladys, she can be a stickler about noise. You two keep it pretty quiet, no rowdy parties so far, but even so. Me and the wife had a barbecue this past summer and she put in a noise complaint. Eight o'clock at night, sun hadn't even set, and she was already kicking up a fuss." He shook his head. "Anyway, I gotta get going. Bette here won't walk herself. It was nice seeing you two again. My wife, Leslie, she keeps mentioning she'd like to invite you over for supper sometimes, but I noticed you get home pretty late. That new shop of yours must be keeping you busy. I've only heard good things."
When she didn't answer, Damon squeezed her hip. "Oh, um, yes, it does, thank you." Bonnie smiled awkwardly.
"We'll get back to you on that offer for dinner, Tom. Just as soon as we've got our schedules figured out," Damon told him, grinning.
"Sounds good. You two have a nice morning." He nodded in farewell before whistling for his dog to follow and started down the path to the sidewalk.
As he turned his back, Bonnie gave Damon's shoulder a shove and then turned on her heel to stalk back toward the house.
Rolling his eyes, he followed after her. As the door closed behind him, he said, "What? You're mad at me? I did what you wanted, I did some recon, checked in with the neighbors. According to good ol' Tom, we're just a normal couple that moved in about a month ago. City slickers." He smirked. "Wanted a break from the busy streets of New York and settle down somewhere nice, so we came out here. You have your own natural remedies store, sells everything from natural vitamins and supplements to the bordering-on-witchy grab bags that any old crackpot can sit in a little pentagram and make their grossly selfish wishes in. And candles. Apparently you make a ton of candles. Some for relaxation, stress relief, yadda yadda, and some just because they smell good. Speaking of smells good…" He walked past her into the kitchen then. "How do you feel about pancakes?"
Bonnie felt like her head was going to explode, filled to the brim with knowledge she couldn't quite process.
While she stood, leaning against the island, Damon raided the cupboards and fridge for everything he needed to make pancakes from scratch. Seemingly happy in his surroundings, he started whistling a tune under his breath and grabbed up a burgundy dish towel to toss over his shoulder as he worked.
It was a few minutes before she finally asked, "What do you do?"
"Hm?" he asked, cracking an egg over a large bowl.
"I own this… shop, but what do you do?"
He shrugged. "What? I can't be a trophy boyfriend?"
Bonnie rolled her eyes, tapping her foot impatiently.
Amused by her, he said, "I'm a handyman or something. I do contract work. Build houses, odd jobs, just me and a hammer… And some guy named Danny, I guess. We carpool."
"You…" She blinked. "Carpool?"
"Mmhmm." He nodded, digging around in a few different drawers until he found a whisk and waved it at her triumphantly.
"Damon." She walked toward him, staring at him searchingly. "How are you so okay with this?"
He sighed, looking up from the pancake mix. "What did you think was going to happen when the Other Side collapsed?" he wondered.
She shook her head, her brow furrowed. "I… I don't know. Best case scenario, we'd end up in heaven or… something."
"Right. So. Here we are." He waved his whisk around. "This is something."
She opened her mouth to reply, but found herself without anything to say.
"It's like I've said… We could've… Pfft." He snapped his fingers. "Disappeared into nothing. But here we are. Might not be our idea of heaven, but… hey, Tom seems nice."
She blinked at him. "Yeah…" A frown turned her lips down though.
"Look, I don't know what it is, I don't know how long it'll last. But I'm not a vampire and, I'm guessing, you're not a witch, or the anchor, or whatever. We died. We are dead. And maybe it was Sheila or maybe it was something else, but we got a house, jobs, and a chance at… something. Something that isn't nothing. So let's just… ride it out." He shrugged, ducking his whisk down into the bowl. "Worst case scenario, it's temporary, we get ripped out of here too. So why not just let things happen?"
"Let things happen…?" She shook her head. "Since when do you just go with the flow and not try to change it?"
He sighed. "Maybe I'm tired." He lifted his shoulders high in a shrug. "I got Stefan back. He's alive. That's all I wanted. I knew going into this thing I might not walk away. I knew the chances of me walking away, unscathed, were small. It's over. This is where I am. Maybe in a few days or a week or whatever, that won't be enough and we'll start tracking down leads and see what we can do about changing it. But for right now…" He raised an eyebrow. "I wanna eat a pancake."
She stared at him and gave a soft sigh.
"What about you, Bon-Bon?" He grinned teasingly. "You wanna pancake?"
Despite herself, she gave him a smile. "Better be the best pancake I've ever had in the afterlife, Salvatore."
He smirked then, chuckling under his breath. "Coming right up."
"You know, the gentlemanly thing to do would be to give me the bed... The couch is comfortable. Or the floor…"
Damon readjusted the pillows under his head and arched an eyebrow at her. "If it's so comfortable, why don't you sleep on it."
Bonnie pursed her lips at him and flopped backwards on the bed, tucking an arm behind her head. "Fine, so it's not comfortable long term. But maybe we should get another bed or something, put it in the office…"
"Because you have so much room in the office," he mocked.
Turning onto her side, she glared at him. "Instead of shooting down my ideas, you could try offering some of your own!"
"Here's an idea," he said, mock-cheerfully. "Go to sleep." With that, he closed his eyes, playing at rest.
Bonnie glared at him a while longer, but eventually turned back over. "We're talking about this in the morning," she warned him.
"It's a bed, Bennett. You stay on your side, I'll stay on mine. If something about that changes, then we'll talk."
She pursed her lips. "Sounds a lot like you want to keep sharing, Damon."
"I've had worse bed partners," he muttered. "Not by a lot. But worse all the same."
"Is this the part where I swoon?" she snarked.
"Preferably it's where you shut up and go to sleep."
Bonnie stayed quiet for all of six seconds before rolling over onto her side. "I don't get it. You used to want as much space as humanly possible between us. So what's the difference now?"
Groaning irritably, Damon rubbed the heels of his hands into his eyes. "You're not going to stop, are you?" He laughed humorlessly. "Of course not. You know, I'm beginning to think this is actually hell."
"You want hell, I can give you hell," she warned.
Sighing, long and loud, he shook his head and, in an uncharacteristically honest moment, admitted, "It's comforting, all right?"
She blinked. "What?"
"I find it comforting that you're there. I go to sleep, you're there. I wake up, you're there. You're the only familiar thing I have here. I'm sure there's a ton of people we'd both rather be sleeping beside, but this is it. It's just us. So yes, I want to keep sharing the bed, because as much as we'd like it to be different, we're all we've got." He smirked at her, but there was no malice there.
Bonnie stared at him a long moment, her shoulders slowly loosening up. She was sure she would regret it later, there was no doubt he would get on her nerves again, and soon. But in that moment, she understood what he meant, and she couldn't help but agree. When she woke in the mornings, there was a stab of relief to find him still there. The world they were in was normal, so far as she could tell, but it was still strange, in the way things were when they weren't familiar. She wasn't quite sure how they got there, or how long it would last, but she was glad that she wasn't alone. So maybe he wasn't who she wanted to be falling asleep beside or waking up next to, but he would do. "Okay."
She nodded and then turned over, facing the window. "For now… Temporarily… Okay."
He didn't say anything, but she knew he heard her.
Eventually, when they weren't so desperate for any kind of familiarity, then they would figure it out. If that meant getting separate places or just separate rooms, then so be it. Until then, maybe having him right there wasn't the worst. At least he didn't snore.
"For the record, you talk in your sleep, so… if anyone's getting the raw deal here, it's me."
Never mind. Bonnie grabbed her pillow out from beneath her head and socked him in the face with it. "Shut up," she told him before tucking her pillow back under head. "And go to sleep before I change my mind."
There was a pause then before, amusement clear in his voice, he answered, "Yes, dear."
Damon was not a fan of early mornings. He didn't mind them so much before, when a bag of blood could wipe away any lingering exhaustion, but these days, he was just as susceptible to sleep as any human, and a bag of blood wouldn't do him any favors. Contrary to popular belief, or at least Bonnie's, he didn't mind work. He even liked it on some level, being useful, having no serious worries hanging over his head, it was oddly peaceful. It was just the waking up in the morning part he didn't like so much. Having a routine helped; a quick shower and making breakfast usually put him in a pretty good mood. Especially if whatever he made for breakfast ticked Bonnie off. Wasn't his fault if she was so easy to annoy, or that he enjoyed it so much.
Regardless, after walking down the path to the waiting truck at the curb, he let out a long yawn and pulled the door open. There was no time for him to greet Danny before his co-worker said, "So these two fish are in a tank, right? First fish looks at the other and says, 'How do you drive this thing?'" With a snort, he slapped his hand down on the steering wheel, shaking his head with amusement.
Damon blinked at him, let out a long-suffering sigh, and took a seat in the truck, closing the door behind him. "That might be your worst one yet."
"You say that every day," Danny dismissed cheerfully.
"And every day your jokes get worse."
"Part of my charm, I guess." He pulled the truck out onto the road and started for work. It was quiet for all of thirty seconds, before he said, "You want to hear a pizza joke?" Before Damon could reply that no, he seriously did not, Danny jumped ahead to say, "Nah, never mind, it's super cheesy."
Hell. He was definitely in hell. And yet… His mouth ticked up at the corner. Raising an eyebrow, he turned to Danny, "How do you kill a vegetarian vampire?"
Danny grinned. "How?"
"You steak it in the heart."
If there was one good thing about Danny, it was that he always laughed at Damon's jokes. Even the terrible ones. Even the ones he regretted making, which he currently did, because that was terrible.
He winced at the shrill level of her voice and leaned over from the island to peer down the hallway. "Yes, honey?" he called out mockingly.
Stomping out of the bathroom, she glared at him, her eyes narrowed and her mouth pinched. "You left the toilet seat up… Again."
He shrugged one shoulder. "Whoops."
Bonnie's hand curled up into a fist. "Tell me, how long have you and Elena been sharing space, huh? In all that time did she just not house train you?"
Damon rolled his eyes. "Common mistake. I'll work on it."
Bonnie huffed a breath out through her clenched teeth.
He tipped his head knowingly. "You're trying to make my brain pop, aren't you?" He snapped his fingers. "Too bad your witchy juju didn't transfer over here with you, huh?"
Stomping her foot, she whirled around and made her way back to the bedroom.
"Love you too, Bon-Bon!" he called after her, before chuckling to himself and returning his attention to the food in front of him. He was ninety percent sure that vampcakes weren't going to win him any favors, but he rather liked her all worked up anyway.
Bonnie sat in the corner of the couch, her legs up under her and a magazine in her lap. As she turned the page, she answered, "No."
Damon rolled his eyes. "What do you mean no? It's the only car we have."
"It's the only car I have. You carpool," she replied.
"To work!" he exclaimed, his eyes wide with incredulity. "I'm not going to work, I'm going to the store. To get food for my lunch tomorrow. For work."
She shrugged. "Should've thought of that when I was going grocery shopping. I asked you if you wanted something."
He pursed his lips at her. "No… you said 'I'm going shopping, don't do anything stupid.'"
She smirked up at him then, flipping a page in her magazine. "It was implied."
Damon sighed. "I'll be a half hour, tops. I'm not going to crash your car." Mockingly, he added, "I know I only have a century's worth of driving experience under my belt, but I think I can manage."
Bonnie shook her head. "No dice."
"Fine." He scowled at her as he sat on the coffee table, staring at her thoughtfully, before he finally offered an insincere smile. "Bonnie, plague of my current existence, will you please drive me to the grocery store…" He batted his eyes at her dramatically.
She stared at him a long moment, happy to make him wait, and then offered a half-smile. "Sure, Damon, bane of my every existence, I'd be happy to." Standing from the couch, she moved toward the front door, slipping on a comfortable pair of sandals. "Besides, we both know you always get the wrong yogurt and then complain about it non-stop anyway."
He frowned after her, following her out the door. "The packaging is the same. It's deceptive."
"Uh-huh." Amused, she twirled her keys around her finger and walked to the car.
"And I noticed you didn't pick up whipped cream, which I need, for—"
"You're not making pancakes," she told him.
"Vampcakes," he corrected, smugly. "And it's not my fault if you have no sense of humor."
Bonnie sighed, a headache forming at her temples. "It wasn't funny the first time, it's not funny now."
Damon put his seat belt on and clapped his hands. "Fine. I'll make waffles."
"Will there be fangs on these waffles?"
"You know, for a woman who wakes up to a freshly made breakfast every morning, you're being awfully picky…"
Pulling out of the driveway, she said, "Maybe it's the cook."
Her mouth twitched with a smile. At least until he started fiddling with the radio. Briefly, she wondered if there was a way to block the classic rock station. Then again, his air-guitaring could just be worth it…
Her shop was something of a Godsend. While she thought she'd be overwhelmed, as soon as she stepped inside, everything felt right in her world. The old wood shelves were, according to one of her employees, built by Damon himself. Though she had no proof of that, seeing as it must have happened before they appeared. The previous Damon and Bonnie (if there even was such a thing, because she was still pretty sure it was just a pre-made world with a pre-built life rather than real people they'd replaced), had been together nearly three years. As long as they had actually known each other. Naomi, who worked at the shop five days a week and occasionally on weekends, was fifteen years Bonnie's senior, with two children, but treated Bonnie with the deference an employer and friend deserved. Naomi seemed to love working for and with Bonnie and took great pride in being there as soon as the doors opened and until they closed.
Each area of the store was sectioned off with homemade wood signs that hung on thin silver chains from the ceiling. There was remedies for anything from headaches to the common flu, foot odor to mild pain, all tucked against one wall. Vitamins and supplements filled a six-shelf cabinet beside it, which she had specially shipped in every few weeks. The candles were their best sellers; she'd never seen so many scents before. Naomi mentioned that they often got together on the weekends and made the candles together, with much of the stock taking up space in Bonnie's office at home. In another aisle, there were lotions, body sprays, lip balms, deodorants, shampoos and conditioners, all of which were organic. And finally, there was a small stand near the front that sold homemade jams and jellies, made by a local woman that delivered to Bonnie every Sunday afternoon. After three months, Bonnie was happy to see that her store ran smoothly, welcoming a nice crowd each day. They were open Monday through Friday and closed every afternoon at five-thirty, which was about the time Damon showed up, dropped off by Danny to join her on the ride home.
From 9 am to 5:30 pm, Bonnie found herself in a space that she had grown to consider hers. The house was perfect; it was beautiful and comfortable and homey. She wouldn't have picked Damon to be her roommate, but it could be worse. Here, though, she felt like she was in her element. Some of the herbs were hand-picked and Bonnie was happy to traipse around the woods and find them with either Naomi or her much younger employee, Kayla. A girl still in high school with a special affection for all things wiccan. During the week, the employees cycled through on which days and shifts they worked, but Bonnie was always there. She did her own inventory and kept a record of sales that she went over each night. The store brought in a comfortable amount of money, it seemed most of the people in town were happy to look for a natural remedy instead of what the pharmacy had to offer. She wondered, of course, if that was just a construct of this world, that they would make a little more than enough to maintain that comfortable life. It seemed very little ever really went wrong in town, the complete opposite of Mystic Falls. In many ways, Bonnie appreciated that. She never felt the overwhelming urge to find a way to help everyone. Instead, she directed people to what was on the shelves, she told them how to relieve stress or pain and what ointment would do what when put where.
It was calming and easy and, as soon as she stepped through the doors, she felt a wave of relief ease over her. It smelled like honey and sage, the old wood floors stained to a nice shine, the shelves all hand crafted and the labels all of her own making. She imagined Grams would love it. She would happily spend her days there with Bonnie, sipping sweet tea as she gossiped about what was going on around town and asked her how things were in her life. She missed her Grams. She missed a lot of people, but none more than her Grams. And she wondered, more often than not, if she was proud of her, happy for her, if she'd given her this town and this store as her way of making up for all that she'd given up or lost. It wasn't perfect, not really. If it was, she would have Caroline and Elena, Matt and Jeremy, and even Tyler there with her. But it was, in many ways, a peaceful life, one that she probably never would have had if she'd lived. So for that, she was grateful.
The bell rung above the door and Bonnie grinned, happily greeting her next customer.
"Where are you going?" she asked, looking up as he walked through the living room, leather jacket on. "And why do you smell so good?"
Damon smirked back at her. "Thank you for noticing. Although, for the record, I always smell good."
Bonnie rolled her eyes and stood from the couch, readjusting her shirt as it rode up her sides. "Damon…"
"Relax, mom, I'm going to Sadie's Pub. Danny asked me if I wanted to get a drink, and since somebody never leaves the house to do anything fun…"
"I do things," she argued, frowning.
"Yeah, Bonnie, you work." He pulled his boots on as he watched her chew on her lip, leaning against the side of the couch. With a sigh, he said, "Didn't Naomi ask you if you wanna go bowling tonight?"
"Yeah, but…" She trailed off, her brow furrowed.
"So go." He reached back and grabbed her jacket off the coat rack, holding it out for her. "Go. Have fun. Try smiling…" He tapped her nose and told her, mock-sternly, "Make friends, not frowns."
Her lips twitched and she glanced away for a moment. "I'm not very good… at bowling."
"Doesn't matter if you're good. You just gotta out-bowl the other guy." Circling her, he put her jacket over her shoulders and left his hands there, squeezing lightly. "Worse comes to worst, cheat. It's what I do."
Bonnie shook her head, smiling despite herself, and tucked her arms through the sleeves of her jacket. "Thank you. I think."
A honk outside alerted them Danny was there to pick him up then. Circling around her, Damon gave her a wink as he walked to the door. "Have fun tonight," he said, before he walked outside to meet his friend.
She watched him go for a moment, keenly aware that this was a step. A somewhat monumental step toward moving on, moving forward. She didn't like to think Damon was right, ever, but he had a point. She went to work and she came home; she'd become somewhat of a hermit. And maybe that was because she missed her friends, her real friends, or maybe it was because she was unwilling to admit that things were different and they might just stay that way. But the time for burying her head in the sand was up. Maybe this wouldn't last, this little idyllic town with its perfect life all laid out for them. And maybe it would. Either way, she was going bowling. Because she did deserve a night off. She rarely got those, alive or dead. It was time to change that.
To say Bonnie and Damon got along famously would be a bold-faced lie. They fought. Regularly. Often about stupid, insignificant things. It was just in their nature. And, to be honest, she was almost completely sure that half the time he disagreed with her just for fun, not because he sincerely disagreed, and probably because he liked driving her nuts. There were some days that she honestly wished she'd died with just about anybody else. But, and she was loathe to admit it, more often than not, she was actually glad it was Damon that transferred over to this world with her. So far, from scouring the small town they lived in, she couldn't find anyone else she knew. When they tried calling anybody back home, either the number didn't exist or somebody they didn't know picked up. This world was completely disconnected from theirs, and Bonnie had no idea what to make of that. So, she did what Damon did, she went with the flow.
They had built up a sort of schedule over the time they'd been there. They were getting comfortable, and she wasn't sure what to make of that. She still missed home like a giant, gaping hole in her chest, but there were some days that she didn't even think of it, didn't think of the fact that the world they were in wasn't theirs. She opened her store with a smile, she greeted customers, learned their names and their stories, and she went home each night, sharing dinner with Damon, doing the dishes before they sat on the couch, each reading a book or a magazine as they relaxed. And that clawing panic, that flinch she expected whenever the phone rang or someone knocked at the door, expecting the worst, expecting Klaus or doppelgangers or any level of evil to come wreak havoc, began to dwindle as nothing but normal, average life started to take over.
She went to sleep each night, with Damon beside her, hogging half the bed, and stopped wondering if tomorrow would be different.
But some nights, the nostalgia, the homesickness, swept her up, and she lost herself in wondering if they missed her, if they were trying to get them back, if they'd simply accepted they were gone and had moved on. She wasn't sure which she wanted.
In the darkness of their bedroom, she couldn't help herself from whispering. She knew he was awake; she could always tell when he'd fallen asleep. He didn't snore, but his body relaxed incrementally until, finally, his whole weight seemed to sink into the bed, a giant, unmoveable rock beside her. It was oddly comforting; he was steady, he was familiar, he was always there. "I miss home," she said, her voice so quiet she was sure he couldn't hear her, despite the lack of space between them.
He didn't answer right away, and she wondered if he even would. But then, quiet as could be, he said, "Me too."
That was new. Usually he pretended he didn't care, that he'd completely and totally accepted that home was gone. It annoyed her most of the time, that he was so blasé about everything. Maybe it was the darkness that let him admit it, that let him be honest with her.
She turned over onto her side, her cheek atop one of her hands. "You don't look it. You seem… content."
He mimicked her, turning over to face her, and gave a heavy sigh. "What can I say, I've gotten good at adapting to things like this over the years."
Her eyes washed over his face for a moment, faintly lit by a shaft of moonlight. "What do you miss the most?" She raised a finger. "And don't say sex."
His mouth ticked up at the corner. "Mostly bourbon."
"You can get bourbon here." Now that she thought about it, however, he never seemed to. Wine, beer, sure, but never his favorite drink.
"Sure, just not with Ric or Stefan there to drink it with me…" His mouth pressed into a firm line. "I miss them. All of them. Even Little Gilbert, as annoying as he usuallyis…"
Her eyes fell for a moment, teeth digging into her lip.
"I know I'm going to regret this, but… what's wrong?" he wondered.
She offered a sad smile as her eyes burned with tears. "I want them to be happy." She let out a watery laugh. "I want them to move on and be okay and, I don't know, hopefully get out of Mystic Falls or away from whatever's always chasing them. I just— I don't— It's selfish, I know it is, but I don't want them to forget me." Her mouth wobbled. "I miss them, I'm always going to miss them, and I don't know where we are or how long we'll be here or if one day, I'll turn around and Caroline will be walking down the street but she won't know who I am. I don't know any of that. But I remember what Elena's hugs feel like and I remember how much Caroline always made me laugh and I remember how Jeremy smells, and I just… I don't want to forget that, I never do. I just want them to remember me too."
He reached for her, not quite hesitantly, but slowly all the same, and he brushed his hand down the side of her face, his knuckles dragging down her cheek before his fingers pushed her hair back. He rubbed his thumb under her eye to swipe at a stray tear and she watched a muscle tick in his cheek as he ground his teeth a little. "They're not going to forget you." She opened her mouth, but he wouldn't give her a chance to argue. "I've been around a long time. The people that really matter, the people you love, you don't forget them. You still miss them, twenty, thirty, a hundred years later, you just… you get used to missing them. And eventually it doesn't hurt as much not to have them right there beside you. But you don't forget. Stefan, Caroline, Elena, they'll, hopefully, outlive us by… centuries. And even then, they're gonna remember you just like you do them." He swallowed tightly and shook his head. "You're not the forgettable type."
Bonnie gazed up at him, taking his words to heart. He could just be saying it to get her to stop crying, but if that were the case, he probably would've gone a much more sarcastic route. Maybe it was all the time they were spending together or maybe it was something else. But in order to bring a little more levity back, she dried her tears and said, "You're going soft over here, Damon. Not one snarky insult in there at all."
His mouth ticked up. "I'm human now, which means I can use the 'tired as hell' card." He turned over onto his back and readjusted his head as he tucked his arm behind it. "You good?"
"Yeah." She followed his example and turned back over, staring up at the ceiling. "You know… If you wanted to leave… If you wanted to get your own apartment or something, have space, I wouldn't blame you."
He was quiet for a long moment before he asked, "You trying to get rid of me?"
"No," she answered sincerely. "It's just… It's like you said. We might be here for…ever. And if we are, if this is what the afterlife is going to be like, I… I won't hold it against you if you wanted to see what it had to offer." She sighed, closing her eyes. "I'm just… I know I just broke down on your shoulder and I know I kind of rely on you to be my normality here, because you're the only one who knows what this all feels like, who remembers them, who misses them, but… I don't want you to feel obligated to stay, you know? I… You don't owe me anything."
He hummed non-committally and, after a few tense seconds told her, "I'm not looking to trade in our cozy setup for a bachelor pad anytime soon, if that's what you're hinting at… I'm good where I am. So if you want out, say the word, but until then…"
She nodded slightly and then, in a soft but sincere whisper, said, "I'm good too."
He nodded. "Good."
A few minutes passed then, until the words built up in her throat to a degree that couldn't be ignored. "Damon?"
"You're not forgettable either… You know that right?"
When he didn't answer, not even with a sarcastic quip, she thought about pursuing it, but, as time passed, she wasn't quite sure what to say or how to comfort him. So she bit the inside of her cheek and focused on the pain there instead.
Nothing more was said and Bonnie closed her eyes, waiting, as she did most nights, to feel his body slowly become more and more relaxed. When she knew he was asleep, she turned her head to look at him. They didn't always get along, he took extra-long showers just to annoy her; he always made whip cream faces on her pancakes, often with fangs; he called her every annoying pet name in the book just because he knew it bugged her; he always left the toothpaste cap off; he used up her shampoo and never replaced it; his taste in music was questionable; he very rarely recognized the boundaries of personal space; and he was arrogant, sarcastic, and borderline crazy at times. But… she was glad she had him. He might not always be her favorite person, but he definitely had his moments.
[Next: Chapter Two.]
author's note: So this was originally a oneshot, but it became so long I had to break it up into chapters. I wanted to establish a friendship between them before it leaks into romance and before they're, eventually, returned to 'life' with their friends and family. Also, their banter is really fun to write, so it was actually entertaining to delve into the early days of their time 'away.' I hope you enjoyed this and I plan to have the next chapter up soon. I did add a few nods to what was going on in the show, but since I started this before season six began, I didn't want to change it all to fit in with canon.
Thanks so much for reading! Please leave a review, especially since this is my first time writing Bamon, as I"m usually a Steroline writer.
- Lee | Fina