Damon closed his eyes and tuned out everything around him. He focused on the silence of his breath, the cross of his legs, the weight of his hands on his knees.

He tried to listen to the sound of his own heart beating, but could no longer hear it now that he was human. He pushed his thoughts towards the steady pulse under his skin and followed its rhythm, letting his mind wipe of everything except the steady hum of his blood coursing through his veins.

He could feel himself lift, his body feeling light as he moved slowly through the air. Not chancing the risk of opening his eyes, Damon kept his eyes closed, letting his calm resolve keep him afloat.

"You're getting pretty good at that." Stefan's voice cut through his meditation and Damon's eyes shot open as he fell to the floor with a loud thud.

"Dick" Damon spat at him, his lips curling into a snarl. "I'm going to make you start wearing a bell."

"Missing the perks of vampirism brother?" Stefan teased as he entered Damon's bedroom more fully.

Damon clamored to his feet and balked. "What? And not be able to tune out the sounds of all the boring sex you and blondie are having? Pass." He snickered to himself and rubbed his hand across his stomach. It felt softer than he would have liked and made a mental note to start up a workout routine. He grimaced at the thought.

"Hilarious." Stefan pressed his lips together in a curt smile.

"Did you need something Stefan or did you just come in here to watch me fall on my face?"

Stefan shrugged. "Added perk." He stepped forward as Damon rolled his eyes and turned away from him. "Have you seen Lily?"

"Last time i saw our mother she was huddled up with Bonnie in her bedroom." Damon turned back to face him and sighed. "Those two have been a little too chummy for my taste."

"Bonnie is helping her adjust to her magic. Before the whole Harbingers show down Lily hadn't used her powers in over a hundred years. She needs help controlling it."

"Hey I'm new at this too." Damon threw his hands up. "And she's my girlfriend."

"Are you jealous?" Stefan had a small smile on his face as he crossed his arms.

"What? No." Damon pursed his lips. "I just think they are probably up to something a little more than just Witchcraft 101."

"I think Lily is a little past that Damon."

"Fine, Witchcraft 205:An introduction to not killing your kids in an attempt to save their souls."

"Not funny." Stefan sighed and turned to leave.

"Hey, am I the only one forgetting the woman murdered our sister?" Damon stepped forward as Stefan stopped short but didn't turn around. "That she was helping the evil Avengers destroy the world before we stopped her?"

"She stopped herself Damon." Stefan looked over his shoulder at his brother. "She chose us. You've got to move on. Let this go." He gave his brother a nod before turning and leaving Damon staring bitterly after him.

/

Caroline walked briskly across Whitmore's campus. She was balancing her cell phone between her shoulder and ear and pulling papers out of her messenger bag.

"Are you sure you didn't take it with you?" Caroline huffed out, her voice coated in anxiety.

"Yeah Care, I didn't take any of my school stuff with me. Did you check Stefan's desk?" Elena said patiently.

"Yes. Ugh!" She stopped her foot as she stuffed crumpled papers back into her bag. "I need that letter!"

"Do you think you can get your professor to write you another letter of recommendation?"

"Its due today Elena! I swore i left it in my bag so that i could drop it off at the counseling center this morning." She shook her head and ran her hands through her hair. "I'm such an idiot for not doing it sooner."

"It is unlike you to wait to the last minute. Is everything going okay?"

"Yeah," Caroline sighed and began walking again. "Damon is being a little more pissy than usual, and there are five of us in that house now so-"

"So you're ready to pull your hair out?" Elena finished for her, a laugh escaping and echoing over the phone.

"Yep. Pretty much sums it up." Caroline smiled. "I miss you."

"I know, I miss you too." Caroline could hear Elena smiling through the phone.

"Where are you guys this week?"

"Rome." Elena said with excitement. "We just got back from some sight seeing actually."

"I cant believe the two of your are traipsing around Europe while i'm stuck here with your grumpy ex, his mother, and my best friend who barely does anything but study and speak in latin half the time." She complained.

"At least you have Stefan." Elena said hopefully.

"Yes." Caroline smiled and let out a wistful sigh. "At least i have Stefan."

As if saying his name was like some sort of bat symbol in the sky, Caroline spotted her boyfriend standing just a hundred yards away, leaning against her car and smiling.

"Speak of the devil." She said with a cock of her eyebrow. "I got to go."

Elena laughed. "Okay, tell Stefan hello for me."

"I will." Caroline's face grew somber. "Be careful Elena, i know i've said this a million times but Kai-"

"Caroline." Elena warned.

"Okay." Caroline took the hint. "I'm sorry. Talk to you later."

"Bye Care."

Caroline hung up.

She knew Elena could take care of herself and that Kai hadn't really done anything recently to make her think Elena would be in any danger with him, but she still couldn't accept the fact that they were together. After everything he had done, she was having trouble letting go of the past. She could see how happy he made Elena, and how much fun they had together, but there was still something in his eyes that told her he would never be the kind of person Caroline would trust.

Caroline let out a sigh but then remembered who was waiting for her just a few feet away. Her face brightened and there was an added bounce in her step as she approached her gorgeous boyfriend, still leaning against her car.

"Hi!" She said cheerily, giving him a swift kiss on the cheek. "What are you doing here?"

Stefan's smile was wide and it made Caroline's heart flutter knowing it was for her.

"I found something." He said coyly before pulling his hand from behind his back and producing a white envelope.

"Oh my God!" Caroline snatched the envelope from him and beamed. "How did you- Where?"

"It was on the floor next to the front door. Must of fallen out of your bag in your rush to leave this morning." He snaked his arms around her waist as she inspected the crispness of the envelope.

She looked up at him when she was satisfied it was presentable enough to turn in. "Yes well I wouldn't have been running late if you hadn't insisted on delaying me." She gave him a sexy smile and leaned in to kiss his lips. Her arms wrapped around his neck and Stefan pulled her against him.

"Hey, you're the one who decided to walk out of the bathroom without a towel." He kissed her softly. "I cant be held responsible for my actions at that point."

She hummed against his lips and dipped her tongue out to taste him in one swipe before pulling back. "I've got to go turn this in."

"Such a tease." He smiled against her lips.

Caroline stepped back enough to look up at him. "Did you talk to your mom?"

Stefan sighed. "No. She and Bonnie were off doing whatever it is they do these days."

"Do you think we should worry? About them I mean?"

"I don't think so. I think Damon is doing enough worrying for all of us."

"His adjustment hasn't been the best has it." Caroline said sympathetically.

"I don't know. He is taking to the magic part of it pretty well. Its the human stuff that's got him acting very...Damon like."

"What do you mean?"

Stefan sighed and shook his head. "I don't know. Its nothing, I'm sure I'm just overreacting."

Caroline ran her fingers through Stefan's hair. "I'm sure if you are feeling worried about this, there is a good reason Stefan. Trust your instincts."

Stefan stared back at her for a moment before smiling and nodding. "Thanks."

"Anytime." She grinned back and placed a soft kiss on his lips. "I really do need to go though." She pulled out of his arms reluctantly.

"You sure about this?" Stefan said, his brows furrowing slightly. She knew he wasnt talking about her departure.

"No." Caroline answered honestly. "But...after everything that I went through with my mom...and us...I feel like i need to focus my energy on other people's problems for awhile. You always say i know just what to say to make you feel better...maybe i could help someone else too."

Stefan smiled. "Well, I think anyone who gets you as their peer counselor will be lucky to have you."

"I haven't been accepted into the program yet Stefan." She said anxiously.

"You know, we do have ways of making sure you get in." Stefan raised his eyebrows suggestively.

"I am not compelling my way into getting people to discuss their problems with me." Caroline rolled her eyes. "I'm pretty sure it would defeat the purpose of a safe place, knowing i forced myself into their issues."

"I know." Stefan pulled her into his arms for a hug. "You're going to get it Caroline." His hand went up to her hair where he let his fingers play with the blonde tendrils before whispering in her ear. "And you're going to be great."

/

Elena soaked in the warm sun as she leaned over the balcony of their hotel room. The city was beautiful below her, and she had never felt so free.

They had spent the last few months traveling and visiting everything they could think to go see. Kai usually defaulted to where Elena wanted to go, but sometimes insisted on pit stops along the way. The cafe's in Amsterdam being one of them.

Elena chuckled at the memory of a very stoned Kai floating potato chips into their mouths and building what he called the world's longest straw out of Red Vines. It had been a terrible mess but Elena had never laughed harder.

She felt his hands wrapping around her waist and shivered as Kai's lips tickled against her neck. "Dinner?"

"Mhmm." She hummed, turning her head so that she was nuzzling against him. "That little place we saw today? With the old couple?"

"Sure." He nodded reaching around and kissing her quickly before releasing her. "Of course, i was talking about dinner of the plasma variety."

"Oh." Elena blushed. "Well I should be alright for a little while longer. You don't need-"

"Oh shut up already." Kai held his wrist up to her mouth and wiggled his eyebrows at her. "Come on, I know you want to, you fiend you."

Elena rolled her eyes and gave him an annoyed smirk but took his wrist in her hands anyway. She was hungry.

She bit into him as carefully as she could manage, sucking down a few large gulps before retracting her fangs and stepping back. "I just realized we are standing on the balcony." She looked around to see if anyone had seen them.

"Eh, its Rome, no one cares as long as you don't diss their God." He gave her a half smile. "That enough?"

"Yeah, it'll be fine." She nodded and pricked her finger on a loose nail in the balcony. She brought it up to Kai's lips and brushed her blood across them, slowly painting them red.

Kai smiled and Elena was sure it was the sexiest thing she had ever seen when he flicked his tongue out to lick her blood off, healing the wound in his wrist. "Thanks."

"Anytime." She said seductively.

It wasn't like all they did was have sex. Most of the time they found themselves laughing into the darkness at night, they had so much fun together. But there were times, their dark passion overcame their light hearted humor and were left practically ripping their clothes to shreds in order to feel skin on skin.

This was definitely one of those times.

Kai spun her around so that she was being pushed back into the hotel room, the setting sun illuminating Kai's form as he stepped back and pulled his shirt over his head.

"Bed." He commanded and Elena smirked at his attempt at authority. She complied though, pushing her dress up and over her head just as Kai was getting his hands on her. He turned her around so that his hardness was pressed against her backside and Elena felt a deep pit of warm fire exploding out of her abdomen and coursing through her body.

He walked them towards the bed, ignoring the buzzing of Elena's phone on the bedside table. Elena heard it too, but couldn't care less about anything that wasn't Kai's hands on her body. He kissed down her neck, biting softly as he made his way to her shoulder before licking his way back up towards her ear. Elena let out a soft moan and reached behind her to cup Kai through his jeans.

"Mmm." Kai bucked into her hand and collapsed them onto the bed, pushing Elena onto her back and capturing her mouth with his own. He grinded his hips down into hers and Elena brought hers up to push against him.

Her phone began to buzz again and Kai let out a frustrated groan before lifting himself up and stalking over to the table.

"Don't throw it off the balcony again!" Elena vamp sped to his side and pulled her phone from his hands.

"Buzz kill." Kai flopped back onto the bed with a sigh.

Elena looked down at her phone to see it was Alaric. She contemplated just turning it off but knew if he was calling it would be for a good reason. She pressed accept and heard Kai groan as she brought the phone to her ear. "Ric?"

"Elena! Hey!" His voice was cheerful and Elena was immediately annoyed that he had interrupted what was about to be one mind blowing orgasm for something that wasn't life or death.

"Hey, what's up?" She flopped down on the bed next to Kai and let her hand run down his thigh.

"I'm a father!" Ric replied quickly and Elena shot back up to a seated position.

"What? Jo had the babies?" She shot a look down to Kai who had a wide eyed expression on his face. "That's wonderful Ric! Congratulations!"

"Thanks Elena." Ric sighed. "Just wanted you to know, they're doing great- Jo too."

"I am so happy for you guys." Elena said brightly.

"Thanks Elena." Ric cleared his throat and his tone became a bit more harsh. "I trust you'll pass the news along?"

"Message has already been delivered." Elena said coyly.

"Alright. Good. I better go then."

"Okay, pass my congrats on to Jo."

"Will do."

Elena hung up and tossed the phone onto the bed. She surprised Kai by jumping into his lap and straddling him with her legs.

"Congratulations Uncle Kai." She leaned down to kiss his lips, ignoring the lint of fear in Kai's eyes.

/

"I know it seems strange, but if you aren't going to find the control you need if you don't first give yourself over to it." Bonnie's tone was instructional despite her growing frustration. "I know this is difficult for you, but your magic isn't something to be ashamed of or suppressed. Its a gift. You just have to learn how to use it correctly."

Lily nodded solemnly, wanting to make it look like she was struggling with the emotions Bonnie seemed to believe she was battling. "Its all so overwhelming."

"Yes." Bonnie nodded. "But if Damon can do this, you can do this." Her smile was teasing and Lily smiled kindly.

"Thank you for your help Bonnie. I know there are many things you could be doing with your time."

"I'm happy to help you Lily, really I am." Bonnie shook out her hands and then offered them to Lily. "Do you want to try again?"

Lily nodded.

They were sitting on the floor of Lily's bedroom, crossed legged and facing each other. Bonnie was doing her best to teach Lily how to control some of the more basic spells that she was pretending to flounder with.

The truth was that Lily needed Bonnie's trust, and the easiest way to gain someone's trust is to be vulnerable and require their help. Lily needed Bonnie to believe that she only wanted to be a good witch, and was dedicated to making herself useful.

They joined hands and began reciting a spell in latin that was supposed to float a rose that laid between them and make it dance across the room. Lily let her mind wander during the spell and let out an exasperated sigh as the rose fell to the floor after only a short flight.

"I don't understand. When its a matter of life and death i am able to focus and use my powers so easily. Why cant i do it now?"

"Its okay Lily. It just takes practice." Bonnie was smiling kindly and Lily felt guilty for what she was about to suggest.

"I wonder..." She let her eyes roam to the floor, baiting Bonnie into asking her to continue. "Its just that i remember there was a spell...my coven used when one of us had trouble focusing our magic. I wonder if that would be helpful at all."

"Really? I've never come across anything like that. Do you know it?"

"No, but i could get it."

"Okay, i don't see what it would hurt to try it." Bonnie shrugged. "Had enough for today?"

Lily sighed. "Yes, i believe so. Thank you Bonnie."

"No problem." She stood up and placed her hand on Lily's arm for a second. "I better go see what Damon is getting himself into."

"Good idea." Lily smiled. She watched as Bonnie left her bedroom and closed the door behind her.

It was going to take a lot of strength to follow through with this. She would need to make sure Bonnie never knew her true intentions if she expected it to work.

No matter what, Lily knew she was willing to do whatever it took to protect her family.

/

She watched from a distance.

Hidden in shadows and cloaked in darkness.

It wasn't time yet. She wasnt ready, wasnt sure.

Soon though, soon everything would change.