The Long Way Home

Chapter 1: I'll Remember

Beta: PrincessOfSilence

Disclaimer: I own nothing of TVD. I only own my characters and my story.

Four Months Later

Two Teens Attacked in Woods. Wild Animal to Blame.

A pair of tired brown eyes scanned over the breaking news article that was splayed on the front page of the paper. It had been a long while since a headline like this graced the pages of the Mystic Falls Courier, but it was a cause for some raised eyebrows and elaborate theories. The picture that matched the headline showed the crime scene where this alleged animal attack had occurred; the trees were decorated with caution tape and some officers were photographed taking evidence.

Cassandra was so enthralled by the photo and article that she nearly forgot about the bouncing baby on her lap. Ava drummed her tiny hands on the surface of the table and tried to crumple up the newspaper that was taking all of mommy's attention away from her. Cassandra ever so carefully took it out of Ava's fists and went back to feeding her, but her brown eyes were scanning over the crinkled words. Since no supernaturals were allowed in Mystic Falls, an animal had to be the cause of the killing. Her reading time was cut short, however, when drops of mushy vegetables dribbled onto the newspaper.

"You are such a messy eater," Cassandra sighed and cleaned up her daughter's lips with a napkin. Ava babbled happily and Cassandra kissed her cheeks.

Yeah, she's a messy eater, but how could I stay mad at that face? Hopefully when she gets older, Ava will have developed better table manners. I suppose I do have to give her some slack, she's only four months old. It seems impossible to me that four months have passed. It feels like yesterday when Ava was just born. It's also been four months since Damon and Bonnie died. Some days, I'm not quite sure how I've been able to pick up the pieces of my life, but I've had a lot of help along the way.

Ava's boisterous shriek brought Cassandra from her meddling mind and she smiled at Vanessa made her presence known in the kitchen. The blonde vampire had traded her overgrown locks for a much shorter and edgier hairstyle. Her new look reminded Cassandra of Tinkerbell, but without the wings. Vanessa waltzed into the kitchen and peppered Ava's cheeks with kisses, making the baby giggle loudly in her highchair.

Vanessa has been such a help with Ava. I really couldn't ask for anyone else to help out and I am so grateful to her. Anything I need, she's there for me. She feeds Ava, changes her, plays with her. We really have become a team when it comes to taking care of Ava and it always helps to have an extra set of hands around the house. Ava absolutely adores her and Vanessa can't get enough of her little butterball.

"Hey! Is Miss Ava done with her breakfast?" Vanessa asked. "I can take her for a walk in her stroller."

"I can do it," Cassandra offered and unlatched the table on the highchair. She scooped up Ava and cuddled her close.

"No, you did it yesterday." The blonde vampire set up Ava's stroller by the door before coming back to take Ava in her arms. "Which means, that I get to today."

Cassandra kissed Ava's forehead once she was situated in her stroller and looked to her friend. "Are you sure?"

Vanessa opened up the front door and nodded. "Of course I'm sure; I'll take her out for a bit and you can get some work done around the house."

"Okay." She nodded and once the door closed, she let out a breath and turned to the messy kitchen. "Alright. Let's get started."

The hybrid whizzed through the kitchen like a tornado, picking up plates and utensils, rinsing them off in the sink and placing them in the dishwasher. She cleaned off the table and counters and put the container of orange juice in the refrigerator. As much as she loved to spend time with Ava, she enjoyed having some time to get things done around the house.

All three of us are living in a house a few miles off the border of Mystic Falls. It's a charming little place; not nearly as big as the boarding house, but we're all comfortable here. It's a two story house with a front porch and a backyard with a flower garden. Everything in the house is new since all the appliances and decor are still in the boarding house and have been for the past four months. It's been a transition for all of us to move on and some were doing better than others.

Elena is a sophomore at Whitmore and she just started in the medical program this fall. I had no doubts that she would get in, of course, but she's been doing really well with her studies. I'm proud of her; she's going to make a great doctor someday. Plus, with her access to the blood bank, I can happily say that Vanessa and I are not starving. Interestingly enough, Elena is studying under the same doctor who looked after me when Enzo pushed me on my stomach. Dr. Laughlin, I think her name was. Elena says she's tough, but fair, so I'm sure she's getting a wonderful education.

A small group of wide-eyed medical students walked the halls of Whitmore hospital. They were donned in maroon polos, khaki pants, and ID badges hanging around their necks as they followed their professor. They stopped beside one of the rooms and the professor turned to them with an expectant look on her face.

"Pop quiz. Mr. Weatherly complains of chest pain and shortness of breath. Can anyone tell me what tests we run?" Her question made some of the students look down at their feet, unsure of the answer and not wanting to be called on. One enthusiastic male student lifter his hand, but Dr. Laughlin overlooked him.

"Gilbert," she called and a frazzled Elena looked up. Her fellow students eyed her and Elena regained her composure to answer.

"Uh...a pulmonary angiogram provides a clear picture of the blood flow in the arteries of the lungs, which is what we look for in a pulmonary embolism; a condition in which Mr. Weatherly's symptoms are common." She replied and Dr. Laughlin nodded approvingly.

"Good. Somebody's read ahead; remember that. You'll need that in 3 years." Elena smiled brightly, clearly very pleased with herself, but her expression dissipated swiftly when Dr. Laughlin handed her a bed pan from a nearby cart. "Here's the bedpan you need to know about today."

Elena took it and Dr. Laughlin led the students along down the hallway. She followed and turned when one of them tapped her on the shoulder.

"I was impressed."


Sadly, Caroline dropped out of Whitmore while Tyler enrolled. I guess she's trying to grasp onto whatever memories she has left of Mystic Falls. I have to hand it to Caroline, even after everything that has happened, she still remains positive. Tyler is doing well, considering he's not a hybrid anymore. He'd had to adjust to a full schedule of classes and football practice too. Alaric also works at Whitmore as an occult studies professor since he couldn't get a job at the high school at Mystic Falls.

Elena and Stefan are taking somewhat of a break since she told him that she needed time after losing Bonnie, but I think Stefan was the one to make the first move. Elena was a bit blindsided by his decision to leave, but he had told her that even being close to Mystic Falls held too many memories of his brother. Oh, how I can relate. From what little communication they've had, Elena tells me that Stefan is chasing down a lead that can bring Damon and Bonnie back. He's out in Savannah, Georgia of all places, but I don't know how his search is going; it would help if he actually returned any of my calls.

Stefan rolled over in his bed and into the arms of a brunette girl. Both were naked, with the covers pooled around their waists. He smiled sweetly at her and she leaned forward, placing her lips on his. He wound his fingers in her hair and pulled her closer.

Like, any of my calls.

Anyway, Matt is training with the academy in Mystic Falls since he's just about the only person allowed in Mystic Falls. Well, him and Jeremy. I'm told that Mystic Falls is just as we left it and the crime rate is down which is always a good thing. Jeremy is...well, Jeremy. He hasn't been taking Bonnie's death well and Elena is really worried about him.

Matt opened the door to the Lockwood Mansion and tossed his gear bag in the foyer. He wiped the sweat from his forehead and kicked off his shoes before traipsing into the kitchen. He grabbed an ice cold water bottle from the fridge and nearly chugged the entire thing. He'd had a good day at training today and was awfully proud of himself until he walked into the living room. For starters, the room was a mess: empty pizza boxes were everywhere, dirty clothes were on the floor and beer bottles were on the table. To top it all off, Jeremy was making out with an unknown girl on his lap. Matt simply rolled his eyes and jogged upstairs to shower.

As for me, I'm doing as well as I can. It helps to have Ava and Vanessa around me pretty much all of the time. It's when I have time to myself is when I spiral downward. I can't help it. I just lost my husband, my best friend, my first love. How can someone just get over that? It's impossible. I think about him every second of every day. I think about him even more when I see Ava. She's so much like him and not just as far as looks are concerned. She loves attention from anyone who will give it to her and gets quite fussy when she doesn't get it. She can be very stubborn and set in her ways as much as a four month old can be set in their own ways. I love her more than life itself, but sometimes it's hard to look at her, especially since her blue eyes are exactly like his. I just wish Damon could see how much she's grown. It hasn't been easy raising her.

The winds howled outside, making the branches scratching and tapping against the windows like long fingernails belonging to the witches who scared children in fairytales and Ava only screamed louder in her mother's rocking embrace. Her screeches tore Cassandra's heart to pieces that she couldn't protect her little girl from the fear of the storm brewing. She adjusted Ava in her arms, so that her tiny head would be cuddled in the crook of her mother's neck and Cassandra peppered Ava's head with soft kisses.

"Shh, it's okay, baby," she cooed softly and turned herself away from the windows. Her voice wavered with extreme guilt that she couldn't get her daughter to stop crying.

"Mommy's got you." But Ava wasn't feeling coddled at all. She continued to fuss and cry and wriggle and wail as the storm grew. Cassandra felt a lump growing in her throat and she wanted to cry herself.

Sometimes, I have to wonder how I am handling this all alone. How do I find the strength to get up every day and do what I have to do? The truth is, I have to. As hard as it is, I have to keep going. Maybe it's that little shred of hope that Stefan will find a lead to bring Damon and Bonnie home. Whatever it is, it's keeping me going even during the hardest of times.

Over the following days, Cassandra's mind still reeled over the article she'd seen in the paper. She kept it in the back of her underwear drawer in her room. She'd look at it at night when she was robbed of sleep or when she would put Ava down for her nap. She knew that the whole "animal attack" was a cover-up for something else; it just had to be. Could a vampire have done this? The article did say that the teens were just outside of Mystic Falls, so it could have been a vampire. But who? None of the vampires that had been kicked out of Mystic Falls went hungry because of Elena's connections at the blood bank. Could this be a new vampire? A new threat to the town's safety?

Cassandra shook aside the handful of unanswered questions in her head and put the article on her nightstand. A sense of worry clouded her mind as her gaze remained glued to the picture. The threat of new vampires being so close to her temporary home made her antsy. She was sure that the news of Ava's birth reached vampires across the world, but had some come with the intentions of seeing with their own eyes? Whether they were here as friends or foes, Cassandra knew that she had to keep her eyes and ears open for Ava's sake.

She pulled out her phone and scrolled through her contacts until she found the one that she wanted, but her thumb hesitated for a few moments before pressing down on the name. The phone rang three times and Cassandra was ready to hang up when the person on the other line finally picked up.

"Well, well, well. Your name showing up on my caller ID is a sight for sore eyes."

A bright smile pulled at the hybrid's lips and she flopped down on the bed. "How are you doing, Liz?"

"I'm good." She replied. "I'm actually sitting here with my lovely daughter."

"Is that Cassandra?" Caroline's chipper voice could be heard in the background.

"She's practically begging to talk to you." Liz chuckled.

"Tell her I'll talk to her in a minute, but I've gotta ask you something first," she said.

"Sure. Shoot."

Cassandra's nimble fingers plucked up the article. "Those two teens that were found in the woods..."


"It says an animal attacked them, but you and I both know that is a cover-up for vampires." She continued. "I have to ask, do you really think it was an animal?"

Liz thanked the gods that there was no one else around them, but she still checked for good measure before answering. "They were admitted to the hospital with suspicious looking wounds on their necks."

"But vampires can't enter Mystic Falls."

"No, but they can lurk around the boarder," the Sheriff said. "Look, I've got my best guys on it. We're gonna get to the bottom of it."

"Thanks Liz." She sighed, a bit of her anxiousness was put at ease.

"How's the baby? Caroline shows me pictures of her." Happiness could be traced in Liz's voice. "She's a real cutie."

"She's good. She just went down for her nap," Cassandra said.

"Now, before my daughter pulls my arm off, here's the phone. Oh, and if you have any other questions, give me a call." Liz then handed the phone to Caroline who wasted no time.

"As Ava's aunt, I am not satisfied with just pictures. A baby that cute needs to be enjoyed in person." She whined.

"Hi Care." The hybrid grinned. "I'll bring her around soon. I promise."

"Well, good. You can make good on your promise by joining me for lunch."

"Ava is napping now."

"So, then just bring yourself," she replied. "Ric is coming too and he's still a little iffy around people especially with having to readjust to being a vampire again."

"Okay. Then, it's a date." The hybrid smiled. "I'll see you soon."


Cassandra ended the call and tossed her phone in her bag. Taking one last look at the article, she stuffed it away in her drawer and opened up her closet doors. The one good thing about starting over was that she was able to compel herself a brand new wardrobe and the contractors of the house to put in a walk-in closet. One thing was for certain, if they were able to get back to Mystic Falls, she'd need six U-Hauls to get everything out of her closet.

She slipped herself into a short coral dress and she emerged from her bathroom with some subtle make-up on. She padded around her room barefoot as she looked for a pair of tan wedges. She remembered wearing them earlier in the week, but she forgot where she put them. She swept under the bed and backtracked into her closet in hopes of finding them. She vaguely recognized a black box on one of the higher shelves, so she jumped up and knocked it down with her hand. She was able to catch the shoe box, but her clumsiness managed to hit another box onto the floor. She immediately froze in her spot and focused her hearing to the room next door which was Ava's nursery. The benefit of super sensitive hearing meant no need for baby monitors. Cassandra heard Ava turn over in her sleep and she let out a sigh of relief that she was still sleeping.

Cassandra set the tan wedges aside and she got on her knees to scoop up the other box. To her dismay, it wasn't filled with shoes, but with pictures. Pictures she'd meant to organize in an album; pictures of her and her Damon. She'd gotten the pictures from Matt Donavan, of all people, and she stuffed them in a box so she wouldn't have to look at them. When he visited her, he presented her with the stack of photos, telling her that he'd gone in the boarding house during a run. He explained that he grew up never knowing who his father was and how that pained him even to this day. He wanted Ava to have pictures of her father and to never feel the hurt he had to experience. Overcome by emotion, Cassandra hugged so tightly that Matt could barely lift his arms to embrace her back. It was such a genuine gesture of kindness and Cassandra could not bring herself to words to thank him as she cried into his shoulder.

She took a deep breath before picking up the pictures and she wanted to throw them back in the box, but she found herself going through them as if under a trance. There were pictures from their wedding, their honeymoon, some from Cassandra's pregnancy and even some of Ava when she was first born. She sat against the wall of her closet and continued flicking through the photos, tears streaming down her face as she did. She put off looking at these pictures for a reason, but as she was gazing at them, she couldn't stop herself. Her heart broke with each picture and all she wanted to do was lock herself away from the world and waste away into nothingness. God, she missed that man so much it hurt. It made it even worse with no body to bury, so she was left without a sense of closure, but each day alone cemented the thought in her head that he was never coming back.

A sniffle that was not her own drifted into her ears and she immediately knew that Ava was waking up from her nap early. She zoomed to the room to find her tossing about in her sleep before wailing out. Cassandra picked her up and rocked her, coddling her and letting her know that the monsters in her nightmares were gone.

"There, there," she said when Ava's tears were dried. "You're alright."

Ava's gaze caught the shiny surface of what was in her mother's hand and groped for it. Cassandra then looked down to see that in her rush to tend to her daughter, she'd held tightly onto one of the pictures. It got a little crumpled, but she smoothed out the picture of Damon against the edge of the crib before holding it up for Ava to see.

"Do you know who this is?" Cassandra asked Ava whose eyes were trained on the picture. She stared hard at it, like her brain was frantically searching for the face that took up some space in her memory. "It's daddy. Isn't he so handsome?"

The picture was taken during one of their many stays at the lake house whenever they needed to get away from the crazy that was Mystic Falls. Damon had no idea the photo was taken, so Cassandra quietly had it printed and put away until she organized everything into an album. He was seated on the end of the dock, his gaze on the bright sun that was reflecting off the water. The tiny waves glimmered like thousands of diamonds and pools of light reflected off of his face. He just looked so handsome, that Cassandra managed to sneak a photo while they were both sitting on the dock. Ava's hands reached for the picture and once she had it in her grasp, she brought it to her lips and giggled. Her sparkling blue eyes twinkled with innocence and pure happiness.

"Are you giving daddy kisses?" Cassandra grinned coyly at her daughter and pressed a kiss to her forehead with tears in her eyes. "I wish daddy was here to give kisses to. I tell you all the time that mommy loves daddy very much, even though he's gone."

Every night, Cassandra would read Ava a story, feed her a bottle, and tell her all about her daddy, hoping that it would all stick in her mind and his memory would be kept alive. Even though Ava would never get the chance to see her father again, Cassandra didn't want her to grow up without her knowing how wonderful he was and how much he loved his family.

Cassandra placed Ava back in her crib and put the picture down beside her. "So you can dream of him whenever you go to sleep." She kissed Ava's forehead and sat in the nursery for a little while until her baby had fallen asleep, her tiny head turned toward the picture of her smiling dad.

Alaric let out a long breath and set his red pen aside before stuffing his graded term papers in his briefcase. Teaching at a college level was much different than high school and that meant that the amount of work changed too which meant that he had more bad papers to grade. He seriously had to wonder how some of these kids were even accepted to Whitmore. They probably knew someone, Alaric thought to himself as he tapped his fingers against the surface of the table. He had a bit of a break between his classes, so he decided to meet Caroline at a diner just off the Whitmore campus to give her a book he'd found in the library about magical force-fields. It seemed like her and Stefan were the only ones trying to get Bonnie and Damon back, but Alaric wasn't so sure how far Stefan had gotten in his search. The calls they've exchanged back and forth didn't seem like Stefan had done much, but Alaric seemed hopeful.

Alaric checked through his phone for any messages and his heart dropped when he saw a few messages from Damon that he kept. As much as it hurt to see his name, he just didn't have the heart to get rid of the messages. He missed his friend so much and really hoped that either Stefan or Caroline would find a way to get him back. He needed his wingman back in his life and he needed Bonnie too. The funny thing about living in Mystic Falls was that there was always some way that a person could come back after being dead. There was always a supernatural loop hole of some-sorts to jump through, but it seemed like all of the loopholes had closed up.

Pushing his doubts aside, he then checked his watch and peered over at the door; Caroline was normally never late. No sooner had he thought that, the door to the diner opened revealing a brunette with a baby on her hip. His eyes nearly bugged out of his head when the brunette removed her sunglasses and he saw a face he hadn't seen in four months. He'd given Cassandra her space after Damon died, but a part of him felt like his friend would be smacking him upside the head for not checking in on his wife. Alaric had to hold back a chuckle at that notion, but one of the big reasons he held back was because of Ava. Since coming back to life, he had to adjust to being a vampire again which meant drinking blood from his travel mugs and sneaking blood bags during his break. His senses could always pick up the smell of blood or the thumping of someone's carotid artery and he was worried that being so close to a human baby would set him off. As Cassandra grew closer to the table, Alaric held his breath knowing that this would be his test.

"Hi stranger," she greeted with a soft smile as she approached the table.

"Hey! I, uh, didn't expect to see you here," he replied awkwardly while shifting his glance between Cassandra and the baby that was settled on her hip.

"Yeah, Caroline invited me for lunch and I originally told her that I'd be coming by myself, but 'Little Miss Fussy' here," She jutted her hip out and Ava stuck her fist in her mouth. "Didn't want to miss out on all the action."

"Great! The more the merrier." Alaric was now beating his gums together as the four month old stared into him with her bright blue eyes.

"Ric? Are you alright?" Cassandra asked him seeing that he was having a staring contest with a baby.

Truthfully, he was alright. He was better than he's been with any human he's encountered. No sudden cravings, no anxiousness, no anxiety. No, none of that. He was just so enthralled by Ava. He'd seen her when he was a ghost on the Other Side, but that was when she was just born. She'd grown so much and he felt stupid for not wanting to meet her sooner. Ava was still sucking on her fist when she gave Alaric a toothless grin and the vampire felt his fears drift away. He was now smiling too which made Cassandra relax.

"Yeah, uh, let's grab you a seat." He slid a chair over from an empty table and Cassandra sat down as she adjust Ava on her lap.

"Thanks." She glanced at the menu, but nothing tickled her fancy. "So, how's everything? Caroline told me you're teaching at Whitmore."

"Yeah, it's not Mystic Falls High, but it's something." He replied. "How about you? You look great."

"Thank you." She beamed and tucked a curl behind her ear. "I'm doing okay."

"I'm just really sorry about what happened." Alaric wished he could take back his words once he saw Cassandra's smile wilt, but he didn't feel right not offering his condolences. "Caroline and I are actually meeting here today to—"

"Sorry I'm late!" Caroline zoomed up to the table and tossed her bag around the back of her seat. "Parking here was a joke! I had to compel a student to give me her spot. I'm sure Ric has a special spot because he's faculty, but I still have my parking sticker even though I dropped out."

"Nice to see you too, Caroline." Ric chortled.

"Hi Care." Cassandra smiled and Caroline's parking woes melted at the sight of Ava.

"Oh, my God. She is just the sweetest thing I have ever seen!" The blonde sat beside the hybrid. "Hello, beautiful. We weren't expecting to meet you."

"Yeah, she wanted to come." Cassandra joked and could tell that Caroline was holding a question on her tongue. "Would you like to hold her?"

The blonde's eyes grew impossibly wider and she held out her hands. "Oh, yes please!"

Cassandra was a little worried on how Ava would take being with Caroline, but to her surprise, Ava was a happy camper. She smiled up at Caroline and waved her hands around, trying to catch some strands of her golden hair. Alaric watched on, fascinated on how a little girl could make a blood sucking vampire turn to mush.

"Okay, you were saying, Ric?" She raised her eyebrow and the teacher shuffled through his briefcase. He fished out three large books and placed them on the table.

"We're trying to get rid of the anti-magic barrier in Mystic Falls." He answered.

"And how has that search gone?" The hybrid wondered.

"We've hit some walls, but we're still working on it." He said and held up one of the books to Caroline. "I brought "Ancient Witchcraft, Volume Two"."

"I read it," the blonde told him.

Alaric put down that book and handed her the other two. "How about, "The Art of Hexing" and "Elements of Magic"?"

"Fine. Thank you." She took both books and put them in her bag.

"Look, I don't think you guys are gonna find anything in there." Cassandra took a sip of her water before continuing. "We should be lucky that the barrier didn't extend even further."

"Well, I'm just not satisfied with living on the boarder of Mystic Falls," Caroline said. "I mean, don't you want to bring Ava home?"

"Of course I want to bring her home." There was nothing she wanted in this world more, besides bringing Damon back. "But for now, that's not in the plans. I appreciated what you guys are doing, but I don't want to get my hopes up."

"Come on, Cassandra. Please don't be that way." Caroline begged and let Ava play with the pendent she had around her neck. "We all just want to go home."

"I'll leave you guys to it, I guess." She shrugged. "Speaking of getting my hopes up, has anyone spoken to Stefan?"

Caroline and Alaric shared blank looks with one another and they shook their heads.

"He doesn't really answer my calls." The blonde said.

"Mine too." Ric chimed in. "I did speak to him earlier and he said he was still waiting on some information from a contact. Nothing yet."

"Great. More good news." Cassandra sighed. "And Elena? How is she?"

Caroline rolled her bright blue eyes. "Elena is currently taking residence on planet denial about Damon and Bonnie being dead."

"It's part of the grieving process, Caroline." Alaric said.

"We've all had to adjust and we're doing the best we can at the moment." Cassandra added.

"I'm just worried about her. She just seems too okay, if that makes any sense." The blonde noted. "Well, anyways. Since today was kind of a wash, I'm going to go home and read."

"Yeah, I've got a class." Ric stood and put the strap of his bag on his shoulder.

Cassandra took back Ava who was a little sad to be leaving Caroline, but that was quickly changed by the shining pendent around her mother's neck. The trio walked outside to the parking lot and walked to their respective cars when Caroline picked up a muffled noise on the wind. She focused in on the sound and a knot grew in her stomach. It wasn't too far from the diner and it sounded like two people struggling. Maybe someone was being attacked? Her mouth then suddenly watered at the scent of fresh blood.

"Hey, you guys hear that?" She asked the group. At first, they thought she was just hearing things, but they heard it too and they smelled the blood.

"I do."

"Me too."

"Someone's in trouble," Caroline stated worriedly. "Maybe it's that vampire that attacked those two kids. Let's go."

"What? Caroline, this is crazy." Alaric told her.

"Come on, you guys. Someone is terrorizing our town and I want to know who." She gritted her teeth.

"I'm all fine and good with seeing who is doing this, but if we're gonna do this, we're taking my car." Cassandra clicked the remote starter and her Jeep revved to life.

"Why your car?" Alaric quirked an eyebrow at her.

"Because I've got the car seat."

It was a complete shock to all three of them when they witnessed Elena's fangs buried in the neck of a human. Cassandra pulled the car to a stop on the side of the road and she and Caroline got out while Ric remained in the back with Ava who was oblivious to it all. The girl in Elena's grip tried to struggle, batting her with her fists, but the vampire was reluctant to let go. It wasn't until she heard the slam of a car door and the scolding of her friend did she lift her head from her victim's neck and drop her to the ground.

"Oh, my god! What are you doing?!" Caroline rushed to a much frazzled Elena. Her eyes darted between her two friends and her victim, unsure of how to start.

"Caroline, it's not what it looks like," she stammered and in her confusion as to why her friends were here, the girl managed to propel herself away from Elena.

"No!" Elena reached for the girl, but she had unknowingly crossed over the no-magic barrier. Her arm sizzled in the sunlight and she yanked her arm back, cradling it to her chest and she watched as the girl ran off towards town.

"Oh crap..." Cassandra sighed and ran a hand through her hair. Now this girl was going to run around screaming that a vampire bit her.

"What did you do? Why the hell are you feeding on people?" Caroline hissed.

"It's fine." Elena told her simply. "I've compelled everyone else."

"Everyone else?" Cassandra wondered. Who else had Elena done this to, she had to wonder. Could Elena have been responsible for the events happening by the boarder of town?

"Whoa, whoa, whoa. Hang on." The blonde vampire waved her hands. "So you're the border-lurker?"

"The what?" Elena asked.

"Yeah, did you know my mom's been out looking for a vampire prowler?"

The brunette vampire rubbed her temples in an effort to clear her head. "The herbs...Luke's been giving me. They make me so thirsty. I am not thinking straight."

Caroline shot a glance at Cassandra before stepping up to Elena. "Whoa! What herbs?"

"They make me see Bonnie. I can talk to her and I see Damon too." Elena remarked and Cassandra fell completely silent.

"God, is this what you've been doing this whole time?!" Caroline growled. "Hallucinating your dead friends?!"

"I tried to grieve them, Caroline. Trust me, I know grief. I've got grieving down to a science at this point and I tried. But every time I let it sink in that I'm never gonna see them again, I feel like I'm gonna die." Her eyes grew watery.

"Elena, you're putting off the inevitable. There are other ways to get through grief and taking these witchy drugs is not one of them." Cassandra finally spoke up.

"Like what? Like dropping out of school and having picnics with my mom, near the town border?" Elena glared at Caroline. "Or maybe I could pull a Stefan and bounce from country to country chasing some false hope that we're gonna find a way to bring Damon and Bonnie back."

The soft whimper of a baby brought Elena to peer inside the car and she saw Alaric playing with Ava to hopefully get her to stop her fussy fit before it really started. Elena swallowed thickly; she hadn't seen Ava since she was born. Cassandra would text her pictures, but she'd ignore them. She didn't want to see her. It was a reminder of how happiness could be ripped away so quickly.

"Or I could do what you did, Cassandra." Elena's eyes were still on the car. "Buy a nice house and shut my daughter away from the world. Shelter her from every bad thing and lock her in her castle."

Cassandra recoiled as if a bullet had ripped through her. How dare Elena even try to wrap her head around how hard raising Ava on her own was for her? How dare she criticize how she was raising her daughter? Rage bubbled under her skin and she bit her bottom lip to keep from exploding like a pressure cooker while Caroline stood alert, ready to jump in should the situation turn even more volatile than it already was.

"The only person here I'd have to protect her from is you, Elena." Cassandra's tone was tainted with disdain.

It was now Elena's turn to open and close her mouth like a fish out of water. Those words cut her deep down to her core and she was forced to feel the burning sting. She looked between her friends, who now seemed like her enemies and wrung her hands in front of her.

"We're all getting through it." She ignored Cassandra initial statement, keeping her eyes at her shuffling feet. "This is me, getting through it, okay?"

"No." Cassandra hissed. "This is you whining and making excuses." In a flash, the hybrid had Elena pinned to the side of her car with a hand wrapped firmly around her neck. Caroline stayed back, knowing that stepping in Cassandra's way could be fatal. Cassandra's eyes glowed dark amber and her hand tightened around Elena's throat.

"Taking witchy drugs? Really? That's how you're choosing to get through this?!" She hissed at her.

"I tried to grieve, I did." Elena growled. Cassandra reached in the pocket of Elena's leather vest and dangled the sack of herbs in front of her. "Give them back!"

"Why should I?"

"Because they make me see my friend." Elena begged. "I see Damon too."


"He misses you so much and he misses Ava too."

"I said, stop, Elena!"

"You can see him. All you have to do is-"

Cassandra yanked Elena from the car by her neck only to slam her into it. The back of her head cracked the window, shattering it into little tiny fragments. "Stop talking! No more! Enough!"

Her shouts shook birds from their perches on the branches above them and even startled Ava who had begun to quietly cry. Elena remained silent and stone still, knowing that the grip on her neck could end her life. A few tears of fear leaked from the corners of her eyes and she silently begged for her life. Cassandra finally let Elena go, allowing her to gasp and pant on her hands and knees. She walked to the boarder and stared out at Mystic Falls. No doubt that girl had set off all the bells and whistles to get the town hyped up about a vampire attack. That would mean that everyone had to watch their backs all because of Elena's carelessness. The hybrid peered down at the bag of herbs in her hand before drawing back and launching them far over the barrier.

"No!" Elena rushed to the boarder, but was quickly stopped by her body sizzling once she entered the no-magic barrier. She wobbled back and fell on her behind, holding her head in her hands.

"I'm warning you, Elena. If I catch you taking those drugs again, I'll throw you over the boarder." Cassandra warned and Caroline's eyes grew wide at her threat, knowing that she would stand by her word.

Without another utterance, Cassandra turned on her heel and stalked to her car. She started the engine and honked the horn at Caroline who gave Elena a stern look before climbing into the car. No one spoke on the way back to the diner and it was best that no one did. Tensions were all too high and Caroline was now texting her mother to let her know that Elena was vampire who had snatched victims off the boarder.

Once Caroline and Alaric were dropped off at the diner parking lot to pick up their cars, Cassandra was making her way back home when tears flooded her eyes. She'd managed to keep herself composed for quite a bit, but as soon as she was in the clear of anyone seeing her, she broke down. She pulled over to the side of the road, threw the car in park and collapsed onto the steering wheel. Thankfully Ava was sleeping peacefully in her car seat after Alaric had given her a bottle, but the mother still kept herself as quiet as she possibly could.

Maybe Elena was right. Maybe Cassandra was doing wrong by Ava. Maybe keeping her away from everyone was hurting her rather than helping her. She didn't want to ever hurt her daughter; not in a million years, but perhaps her need to protect her baby girl clouded her own judgment. All she wanted was to do this whole parenthood thing the right way, but it was much harder with only one parent around. Cassandra often questioned her decisions when it came to Ava. Would Damon be alright with this? Would this be something that Damon would do? Damon, Damon, Damon. His name was like a stake to the heart and being left to desiccate in a cellar for a thousand years.

Cassandra lifted her head and wiped her cheeks, trying to get a hold of herself while she searched for her phone in her purse. She gripped it with shaking hands and dialed her brother-in-law whom she hadn't spoken to in months. It was a one-sided game of phone tag where Cassandra would leave messages, but Stefan would never return them. The phone rang and rang and rang in her ear for what seemed like an eternity and just as she was ready to throw her phone out the car window, she heard the tell-tale click of the phone picking up.

"Cassandra?" He said after a few long moments of silence.

"Stefan," she greeted with an unsteady voice, her body still wracked with emotions. "It's been a while since we've last talked. You haven't been returning my calls."

He must have been waiting for that because he promptly answered with a scripted response. "Yeah, uh, I've been really crazed with work. You okay? You sound upset."

"Please tell me that you've found something. Anything. I need to know if someone can bring Damon back." It all came out in a jumble of words before she could even process them.

She heard him sigh. "Cassandra..."

"Please," she begged tearfully. "I need hope because right now, I'm all out of it."

"I haven't found anything yet." His reply made her stomach twist into knots. Four months of potential hope had just come crashing down on her head.

"I can't do this." She was sure of how pathetic she sounded. "Stefan, I don't know how much longer I can keep a brave face."

"You have to. For Ava."

Hot tears began to flow freely again and she gripped the steering wheel with one hand so hard that her knuckles were turning white. "It's just so hard. Every time I think I'm fine...I'm reminded of what I've lost. Of what we've all lost and I grieve again."

"I know," he agreed.

"That's why I need something to hold onto forever because I have to live an eternity without my husband who will never know his own daughter."

Stefan was quiet for such a long time that Cassandra had thought that he had hung up or she'd lost the call. When he finally answered, it was like the entire world fell out from under her.

"I can't. I gave up."

She leaned back into her seat, hoping that she'd sink into it and disappear. "What do you mean you gave up? You said that you were—"

"I did and then I realized it was pointless, so I stopped." He said. "I said goodbye. I moved on. Damon is gone and I think it's time for you to say goodbye too."

Cassandra held her head in her hand while the other was clutching the phone so tightly it could break. All this time Stefan was just putting up a facade to give everyone this sense of false hope that there would be a way to bring Damon and Bonnie back. He fooled all of them. Never had she felt so betrayed in her eternal life than how Stefan had strung them all along for the past four months. If she didn't have Ava in the car, she would have driven to Savannah and strangled her brother-in-law till he turned blue.

She could vaguely hear him calling her name through the phone, but she ignored him and hung up. She started the car again and drove back home, trying to make herself look like she hadn't been crying so that Vanessa wouldn't ask any questions. Her dark brown eyes flicked to the sleeping baby in her rearview mirror and her heart was filled with dread once more that Ava would grow up without ever knowing her father.

"I'm sorry," she whispered.

The dark skinned girl's nose wrinkled and her eyes narrowed into thin slits when a plate of pancakes was placed in front of her. Normally, she loved pancakes whenever Grams would make them for her, but she hated these pancakes in particular. The fluffy cakes were stacked one on top of the other and had two blueberry eyes, a nose and a smile. Two thin spurts of whipped cream adorned the smile. Vampire pancakes, Damon had called them and the man who had made them was smirking as he set down his own plate and sat down across from her.

"Every day I tell you I hate that." Bonnie remarked and dropped two sugar cubes into her coffee mug. She then put the same amount of sugar cubes into another mug, just how Damon liked it.

"And every day I do it anyway." Damon grinned at her and took up his mug. He gestured for the newspaper which was resting at Bonnie's side of the table and she handed it to him.

"Bon appetit."

Hello, my dear friends! I hope everyone has had a wonderful summer and that you guys are settled into school/work. Here is the first chapter of TVD season 6 :) I hope you enjoyed reading it! Please give it a review! This story will only be a TVD story and the TO story will be posted soon.