Title: Horizon
Category: The Vampire Diaries
Genre: Angst/Romance
Rating: T, later chapters could possibly be M
Pairing: Bonkai

Summary: Everyone is beginning to sound like a broken record. There's no second prison world, no such thing as Heretics, no one questioning why Bonnie Bennett suddenly wants distance from the two girls she'd grown up with and worked so damn hard to get back to. Maybe the question isn't why they don't believe her, but why doesn't she believe them? Post 6x16 AU

Author's Note: Well, this is the first multi-chapter fic I've posted in a very long time. I'm crossing my fingers I don't muck it up. Uh, what are the particulars? I may or may not be retcon-ing the end of the season because none of that hogwash made any kind of sense. But we shall see. I still very much ship Bamon and Bonkai, so I imagine feels for both will surface. Also, the major question to keep in mind is why would a coven who could so easily make a prison world make so few of them?

Disclaimer: Folsom City Blues belongs to Johnny Cash and these characters belong to people who don't love them like I love them.


i.

It's a weird sensation breathing with a collapsed lung.

When she was younger, the Gilbert backyard was her backyard. One sweltering summer day, she swung back and forth on the red and blue stripped monkey bars while a shaggy haired, ten year old Jeremy Gilbert watched underfoot. He'd snatch at her ankles but only got fists full of warm air. She would lift her legs out of his reach, giggle, and swing for the next rung. It only took one time for him to grab her right foot and yank. Her fingers slipped and she collided with the ground. Hard. Dirt scrubbing at her face. The air rushed out of her and for what seemed like forever she wheezed and coughed until her lungs decided to work again.

This felt like that. The circumstances being different, of course. Her laid on her back, tears rolling down the sides of her face, the chandelier above hanging by shorted out wires. Shattered glass. Blood stained flowers. And the humming of a man who'd lost what little bit of sanity he started with. Between futile gasps to catch a breath, she tried to place the song but she couldn't.

He'd hum and chat, very well knowing she couldn't actually talk back. There were pins and needles in her feet and legs and arms and fingers, and invisible weight as heavy as a boulder on her chest.

Then he was gone. His head with that sickening grin separated from the rest of his body. And her best friend was gone, tucked away in a casket in the Salvatore crypt. Like a princess out of a fairy tale. And she was left with a guilty ache in her gut.

Somehow this was all her fault.

x

She wakes to humming.

Laid on her stomach, her cheek pressed against soft cloth. Shaking off the blanket of sleep, her eyes adjust to the gentle light. She spies the lanky blonde on the bed across from her. Curled in on herself, her foot tucked in her palm as she paints her toes fire hydrant red, flowing, yellow curls worthy of Rapunzel quivering with each note.

"I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die."

This can't be right.

Bonnie bolts up, her back colliding with the wall. Underneath her is a mustard quilt with a matching pillowcase. This isn't her bed or her dorm. There's a desk yards away from the foot of the bed and one on the other side of the room, no fireplace, a bike in front of the closet door, no Caroline. No Elena.

Liv Parker glances over, boredom in her eyes, and arches her eyebrow. "You stroking out over that, Bennett? You were snoring pretty loudly. I almost couldn't hear myself think."

"You're dead."

"Not last I checked. Very much on this side of grace."

"You died. Your whole coven. Ka..." She doesn't finish that sentence, looks around. "Where am I? Is this your dorm room?"

Liv screws her nail polish shut, sets it aside. "You're screwing with me, right? You're the one who requested a dorm switch. I'm just the lucky girl who had the only other free bed on campus."

"I did?"

"...You are stroking out and I'm not a nursing major. Sorry."

She shakes her head, thinks back. Dead witches and warlocks strewn across the floor. Splintered wood and decaying bouquets everywhere. She saw her. Her curls were cut shorter, blood mucking up the tendrils, but Liv was there and she was very much dead.

Bonnie's had this nightmare before, or ones like it. Dreams where she's the Anchor to the Other Side once more and is haunted by people she used to know. Vicki. Anna. Grams. Kol. She's woken up screaming so many times she learned to sleep with her face in her pillow.

"I saw you dead. At Jo's wedding. Your whole family. Tyler killed you, I think."

Liv's already perpetually stern face turns severe, her pink mouth curling into a snarl. "Okay, Bonnie. This little game you're playing isn't funny anymore. I'm not dead. No one's dead...apart from Luke. But Jo is fine. I am fine. So chill, all right."

Sinking her teeth into her bottom lip, she nods. She doesn't believe her but doesn't argue. She gets up and looks out the window to her left. They're in a corner dorm. The size is a fraction of the room she shared with Caroline and Elena but has better natural lighting. Outside the sun sinks behind the science building, a halo over the roof.

"You said I applied for the dorm switch."

"Yuh. Something about feeling smothered. I didn't ask too many questions, but I don't blame you. I'd feel suffocated by that many vampires around me too, and I grew up with a coven of witches banking on my brother and I killing each other."

"And you let me move in with you?"

The girls meet the other's gazes.

"I figured it meant you forgave me for last year. Me flirting with your boyfriend and trying to kill your best friends and all." Bonnie's stomach churns at 'best friends', but she swallows it down. Liv goes on. "Figured someone told you how I tried to help..."

"With what?"

"Getting you back from the prison world. I was the one who sent Damon and Elena back to ninety-four to get you." She tugs at the maw of a hole in the elbow of her grey sweater. Sticks her hand into it to scratch at her arm. "Are you okay? I can go get Elena if you want. Wait, no, someone actually useful, maybe. Caroline?"

"Neither, thanks." Bonnie sits, tries to gather how much time she's lost. "What about your... Where's Kai?"

Liv shrugs. "Around."

"Around…like around here?"

"That's pretty much what that word means."

This just keeps getting more and more frustrating. What day is it? What the hell is going on? "Serious question: did I or did I not go with Kai, Damon, and Elena to the nineteen oh three prison world?"

The blonde witch's face crumples. "There is no other prison world. None but Kai's."

"Yes, there is. Damon's mom is there."

"Okay. I was warned about this. You're clearly losing grip on reality, which I guess is to be expected since you were alone for months. Nineteen ninety-four is the only prison world constructed by the Gemini coven. If you're referring to Lily Salvatore, her and her band of ripper misfits were killed on a ship in the New York harbor in nineteen oh-three. She's just a ghost story, a myth, something my coven uses to scare us growing up. The dangers of dabbling with vampires, I guess. A count your blessings sort of thing, like Berenstein Bears." She then goes from sympathetic to scoffing. "Who in their right mind would let a ripper like her live even in another universe?"

"The same coven who let Kai live."

She noticeably shifts, scratching at her arm again. "He was the son of a coven leader. It was down to our father and he thought to spare Kai the fate he'd resigned so many of my siblings. My dad's a dick, but that was an act of mercy. I would've rather seen him skinned alive, but here we are."

Bonnie sighs, settles back down on the bed she woke up from, her bed, and Liv watches her. This is the most they've talked since she moved in. "Did they tell you?"

"Tell me what?"

"That I tried to help. I did try."

"I know, Liv." She gives her a reassuring smile, close lipped, but it doesn't reach her eyes.

x

"I feel like I woke up from a really bad dream."

Matt Donovan grins over at her, a red plastic cup in his hand. "You still live here. Are you sure you're awake?"

They're lounged in the bed of his truck. Her leather jacket shrugged on her shoulders over a nice lacy garnet dress, she pats the picnic blanket warming her bare legs. Matt's in dark jeans and a plaid button down. It's beyond Bonnie why he's keeping her company when he could be making eyes at some nice college girl. One who's never heard of Mystic Falls, or vampires or witches outside of Halloween movies.

It's been years since she's been to a party by the Falls, maybe junior year of high school, and it's actually kind of nice out. Yeah, co-eds are getting drunk and hooking up just past the treeline, but the sun's set, the sky is cloudless, and the woods can be a pleasant place—when you're not running from something. For so long, she's been running…

Her attention is caught by the ashes flickering above the nearby barrel. Moments later, Matt's cup sails through the air and is consumed by the fire.

"It was all so vivid. Another prison world, stabbing Kai and leaving him there. Caroline with her humanity off and whatever convoluted spell Kai concocted linking my life to Elena's. 'One can't live while the other survives' kind of thing."

He burps, his fist to his mouth. "Sounds trippy."

"But none of it sounds familiar? None of it actually happened?"

"Come on, Bon. If anyone was going to shut off their humanity, Caroline would be last on that list. We both know she makes being a vampire look like a walk in the park. Hell, she makes everything look like a walk in the park. She is the Caroline Forbes of legend."

"Here, here."

Bonnie lifts her water bottle in agreement, her eyes drifting to the aforementioned blonde down by the water. She sits cross-legged on a dry wrought log, Stefan Salvatore close by her side. Though both girls know of the other's presence, they haven't spoken tonight. Bonnie can tell Caroline isn't keen on partying. Getting plastered and sloppily making out with the younger Salvatore isn't her idea of sublimating since her mother's passing.

But Matt's right. Caroline's smart, smarter than most. She doesn't throw tantrums or kowtow to complications. She faces them headfirst. She'll get through her grief without the bloodshed that's plagued so many others. Unfortunately, instead of Bonnie going over and telling her friend all those things, bile coats her tongue. So she tosses back a swig of water and changes the subject.

"I'm rooming with Liv."

Matt frowns. "I know. I'm the one who helped you move all your stuff. I figured since you told me we had to do it while Caroline and Elena were in their exams meant something went down between you guys."

"Did something?"

"I didn't ask. I try to stay out of stuff like that. Besides, you'd let me know when the time was right."

"Well, if something did, I can't even remember what it was."

"It'll come back to you."

She leans her head back, rests it on the side of the truck, and gazes up at the stars. Closing her eyes, she can hear the rush of the Falls. Water gurgling and splashing.

Images roll through her mind of cool spring days when she and Jeremy would take turns trying to dunk each other's heads under the water – she'd always wiggle away to the sound of Caroline's and Elena's laughter – and warm summer nights when her and Matt would float on their backs. It was only a matter of time that she would trade in her bikini for a red one-piece and a whistle.

Do you know why I'm here? Because my guilt keeps me up at night.

She opens her eyes, forcing herself to focus on the here and now. "That dream really messed me up. I feel like I've missed so much. Everything is different somehow."

Matt hums, raking his hand through his hair. "Hm. Well, you were gone for nearly a year."

"Yeah…"

He groans getting up, hops out of the back of the truck, and slaps the red siding. "When Bonnie Bennett has a hunch, you don't ignore it. We're going for a ride."

The side of her mouth ticks upwards, but then she furrows her brow. "Wait, what did you just say?"

"We're going for a ride?"

"No, the first part."

"When Bonnie Bennett has a hunch, you don't ignore it?" he repeats, his expression going dopey.

"Huh." He'd said that to her before. In her dream. Before they'd both been choked into unconsciousness in the basement of the Salvatore boarding house and she'd been drained of her blood. A piece of duct tape wrapped crudely around her wrist. "Déjà vu."

She climbs out and gets into the driver's seat, Matt scooting in beside her. "Where exactly are we going?"

"To the person who generally has the answers. You just have to ask the right questions."

Bonnie rolls her eyes, a grin playing at her lips. "Of course. Damon."