Author Notes

Forgive me for taking a turn with this chapter, but I wanted to expand Bonkai's world a bit and give y'all some more context. Yes, they are really in the Hamptons and the new, isolated destination is fairly important for their development. I can't thank y'all enough for reading and reviewing and sharing this fic! I appreciate your honesty with this chapter. Hope I'm not spoiling anyone's expectations! I promise things will heat up again in the next chapter. Ya girl needs the release too lol

sweet dreams,

disconapnoir

— - — - — - — -

Water cleanses, you know.

Washes dirt away and makes new.

Maybe she swam away…

—Stone Temple Pilots, "Wet My Bed"

After a breakfast of coffee and cereal — Honey Bunches of Oats for Bonnie and a disturbing amount of Fruity Pebbles for Kai — the two packed into Damon's Camaro for the seven hour drive to the Hamptons. The impromptu trip was Kai's idea. An apology for "stabbing you those couple of times and some of the other, unnecessarily violent shit." An apology Bonnie didn't plan on accepting. She knew the prison world vacation was Kai's new attempt to get Bonnie's magic back.

She had been complaining about her weakened powers for months now. When Kai popped up and scared the living shit out of Bonnie and Damon, she finally felt a real influx of strength, but still nowhere near the power she was used to wielding. Kai and Damon did their respective part in getting the Bennett witch back in magical shape; Kai stuck to sneak attacks while Damon was partial to lecturing. The experience was exhausting, but it worked. Bonnie had enough juice to power the ascendant and get them all the fuck out of there.

And in hindsight, maybe Bonnie was feeling herself a little too much. At first she was fine with giving the "pork rind-munching freak" a free ride home, anything to get out of the prison world, but with her renewed strength came her renewed Ms. Fix-it spirit. Bonnie could prevent the next pyscho villain, reunite her two best friends, and return home in time for dinner. Damon said it was a bad idea, but he backed her up regardless.

The thought of Damon usually hurt, but Bonnie could admit (just not to Kai) that she had felt a loosening in her stomach ever since they left Mystic Falls. The anxiety unraveled the further they drove. She hasn't been on a vacation since her father took her to St. Louis to visit some extended family years ago. Not that the very southern, Midwestern city was so different than Virginia, but she appreciated the quality time with her dad, the urban landscape, and being surrounded by people that looked more like them.

A pull in her stomach at the thought of her father made her wince slightly.

"Well, if you're tired of Pearl Jam just say so."

Kai's voice brought Bonnie's mind back into the car. She watched Kai change out Pearl Jam's Ten for Stone Temple Pilot's Core, his right hand managing the CD-player while his left held the steering wheel.

"I'm really more of an 80s funk guy myself, but grunge helps me focus on long drives." Scott Weiland's voice erupted on the opening lines of "Dead and Bloated" before Kai adjusted the volume to continue speaking. "Did I ever tell you about the drive I took to Winnipeg, Canada? Can't tell you why I decided to go, but it was the earlier days of my sentence here so I guess I was just trying to…"

Bonnie tuned out Kai's voice and brought her attention back out the window. She tried to think of a game plan. Her list of objectives for their time in the Hamptons. She could only get as far as not getting herself killed and returning to the land of the living sooner than later. The ascendent was divided into equal pieces and packed into their respective bags currently sitting in the trunk.

Not that the damn thing worked after it sucked Damon up into the beam of light. Kai had accused her of hexing the object, and Bonnie reminded him that if she was capable of such a powerful hex she would've requested that Kai's death be the ticket out of the prison world.

The truth was, no matter how hard Bonnie concentrated, she couldn't feel a damn thing— within or without.

At first Bonnie thought the prison world was something out of a zombie apocalypse movie, but even those worlds had more life. The prison world wasn't quite "dead" either. Bonnie had plenty of experience with death, and this didn't have the same texture. The best word she could come up with was "artificial", like wax fruit in a decorative bowl. It helped to have Damon and Kai around. The interactions between the three of them created enough energy for Bonnie to channel and practice her craft once more.

Then she "went all Jack Nicholson in The Shining" and complicated things. Sometimes Bonnie resents those words being among the last she heard from Damon more than her decision to save him over herself. Bonnie had developed an in-depth understanding of Damon over the years, and the four months spent stuck with him perfected her read, so she knows Damon is both unbelievably grateful and completely enraged by her sacrifice. She's mad at herself too.

She wants to believe that the sacrifice meant something. Her final gift to one old and one new best friend. But the truth is, as soon as the arrow pierced her abdomen she went on autopilot, sunken inside her own mind as she sent the activated ascendant flying into Damon's hands. His shocked and infuriated face the final thing she saw before the light forced her to look away.

Bonnie's mind has been stuck in that cavern ever since.

The car lurched as Kai crossed three lanes to take the exit on the right. Bonnie swore as her head slipped from her open palm and hit the window. She glared at him.

"Oh, there she is!" Kai merged onto the main street and shot her a million dollar smile. Bonnie frowned deeper.

"Now, according to this pamphlet I took from Tara's Travels— an adorable travel agency really, if I'm just going off the pictures, Tara looks like a total sweetheart—"

"Get to the point, Kai." Bonnie rubbed her forehead.

"Sag Harbor is a delightful area, once known as a whaling village, believe it or not—"

"Kai, please!"

"Oh, I love it when you beg." Kai's eyes raked over Bonnie's bare legs.

"Eyes on the road."

"Yes, safety first." Kai took a left off the main street and down an avenue of quaint houses that grew larger in size the closer they got to the coast.

"Since you've been down in the dumps lately, I figured you'd appreciate picking the house."

"The house?" Bonnie returned her gaze to him.

"Yeah, the house we'll be spending our little prison world vacation in. Our final prison world vacation, hopefully." Kai shook his head.

"You mean my vacation house?" Bonnie asked.

"No, I mean our vacation house." Kai met Bonnie's gaze. "I think it's best we can both keep an eye on one another. Keeps us honest."

Bonnie rolled her eyes. "Forgot how much you love honesty."

"Hey, I never lied about who or what I was."

"You just withheld critical information about your past," Bonnie was quick to correct.

"Oh, Bonnie-Bon-Bonster! We've done this dance before." Kai patted her knee. Bonnie slapped his hand away. "We're sticking with one home rental for this trip, but the house of choice is entirely up to you. There's plenty of mansions overlooking the water. I'm sure you can find one big enough to—"

"That one!" Bonnie pointed up the street.

Kai followed her direction and was surprised that she chose a modest two-story — well, as modest as a $2 mil home on Sag Harbor could be. The house was surrounded by flower beds, stone pathways wrapping around each side of the house and merging at the double doors at the front. He was disappointed when he didn't see a pool in the backyard, but perked up at the sight of an elevated hot tub. He unconsciously slowed down the car at the thought of Bonnie in a red bikini.

Bonnie barely noticed as she looked past the house to the coast line. The waves were mild, but she swore she felt the movement deep inside her chest. Without a word, Bonnie released her seatbelt and hopped out the moving car, half-running to adjust to the sudden stillness beneath her.

"What the fuck!" Kai slammed on the brakes. "Bonnie? Bonnie?!" He yelled out the open window.

Bonnie ignored him as she walked determinedly to the shore, kicking off her shoes and shedding her jacket as she went.

The sun was beginning to set on the water. A golden streak running across ripples of deep blue. Sinking her feet into wet sand, she watched as the waves broke the surface, rolling in until they crashed on the shore. She inhaled deeply and shut her eyes.

For the first time since Damon left, she felt the beginnings of a pull to her magic. She followed the tug into the water, wading until only her shoulders broke the surface. Somehow over the waves and wind, she could still hear Kai calling out to her. She waded until the sandy bottom gave way beneath her feet, and swam even further till she couldn't hear him anymore.

She opened up her arms and titled back, legs floating up to the surface as she reclined on the water. The sky was turning an interesting shade of lavender. She closed her eyes, feeling the small waves jostle her body back and forth. A deep purple covered the inside of her eyelids and she imagined she was an amethyst, crystalizing from the inside out with every inhale and exhale. When her core felt violet and her fingertips felt alabaster, she took one last deep breath and let herself sink.

The water pulled her down by the torso, that violet center where her magic resided. Where it was supposed to reside. She opened her eyes and saw the light reflected at the top of the water.

Bonnie pumped her legs and broke the surface with a gasp. She coughed and squeezed her nose, wincing from the chlorine at the back of her throat. A muffled laugh caught her attention. She wiggled a finger in her ear and the shrill giggle made her turnaround.

On the steps leading to the shallow end of the pool, a father held the hands of a toddler taking tentative steps into the water. The tiny girl was all screams and giggles as the bigger kids jumped and splashed around them. Her hair was pulled into two curly puffs, goggles affixed to her head and a floaty on each tiny brown arm.

"Hold it! Stay right there!" A young woman in a one-piece and skirt held a Kodak camera close to her face. "Where's my other baby?" she asked.

"I'm coming!"

A little boy, no older than Bonnie, swam over to his father and sister. His father tucked him into his side as the three smiled up at the camera.

"Ok everybody…say cheese!"

The youngest child took the task seriously, rising on her tip toes to shout the word. The family laughed together.

"Cannonball!"

A body crashed into the water beside her, but Bonnie was too enthralled in the scene to move. She wiped the water from her eyes to get a better look at the first Black family she'd ever seen at this pool.

The mother clicked the wheel on the disposable camera as she came to crouch beside them. "Sweet pea," she directed towards the boy. "Can you take a picture of me and daddy?"

He seemed excited by the responsibility. His sister hung onto the bottom of his trunks as he squinted into the camera's window.

"Everybody say…bacon!"

The little girl appreciated it the most, yelling and clapping as the parents turned to each other with knowing glances. She could hear the shutter close and open. The mother took the camera back to her chair before returning to help the little one doggy paddle.

"Very good, baby!"

Bonnie could feel her heart begin to speed up and a sickly sweet taste overtake her mouth. She suddenly realized she was in the middle of the pool outright staring.

The mother must have sensed it too, because right at that moment she looked up and locked eyes with Bonnie. She smiled and waved.

Bonnie could feel the rush of blood to her face as she looked over her shoulder, desperately hoping the greeting was for someone else. She turned back and the mother was still smiling at her. She gave a small wave in return.

"I like your braids!" The mother shouted over the yelps and giggles around her.

A warmth blossomed from the center of her chest and she smiled shyly. The mother smiled wider and waved her over. Just as she was about to swim over, Caroline's demanding voice boomed from behind her.

"There you are!" The tall girl for her age huffed from the pool's edge. "Come on! Elena's mom is taking us for ice cream."

Bonnie looked over at the picturesque family one last time. They were all watching her. Even the little one stared shyly from behind her brother. The little girl waved a tiny hand. Bonnie waved back before turning to climb out the pool.

Mrs. Gilbert was collecting the last of the pool toys and wet towels while Elena and Caroline talked animatedly about what sundae combo they dare try next. Bonnie followed them single file out the gate. She took one last look at the family, oblivious to her gaze once again as they locked themselves away in their private paradise.

Bonnie's lungs burned and her legs, on their own volition, pushed her off of the sea floor. She pumped her legs and broke the surface with a gasp.

The wind was cold on her face as she swam back to shore.

Kai was waiting on the beach, hands in his pockets as he took in the svelte form on display under her wet clothes. She ignored him, laying back on the sand to feel the last of the sun's rays.

Bonnie wasn't sure what she expected from the water, but it certainly wasn't that forgotten memory— that repressed memory. When Elena's mom dropped little Bonnie off at home, she pushed and buried the sight — the feelings it provoked — deep into her mind as she dug around the bottom of her backpack to find her house key. By the time she entered the house and locked the deadbolt behind her, she had completely forgotten about the perfect Black family by the pool.

Or she thought she had.

Bonnie's family had always been complicated, which was in part why she attached herself so completely to Elena and Caroline. With her mom out the picture, her dad heading the household solo, and her Grams pissing off the more respectable members of Mystic Falls, Bonnie turned to Elena and Caroline for All-American stability.

The days leading up to her departure from the living (all those times) we're quit complicated for her chosen family as well. Bonnie's not sure she's ever really had a stable relationship outside of her connection to nature. Discovering her magic only strengthened that relationship, and while the spirits of her ancestors shifted with the wind, nature proved its loyalty to her everyday, rain or shine.

But this prison world… the view was gorgeous, the smells divine, but that lick of magic — the danger of the deep waters, the promise of the rising sun — was painfully missing.

The Gemini Coven really were some sick bastards to come up with this shit.

Bonnie's only hope for regaining her full power was strengthening her connection with the only other truly living thing on this cursed mass.

The thought caught on something in her chest and she felt that pull again. She looked over just in time to see Kai lay down just a few feet from where she rested. She studied him with new eyes.

Another lost child staring at the family that has it all. But that family was supposed to be his own. They just rejected him. Knowing just what Kai was — and what the Gemini were capable of — how did Mr. and Mrs. Parker not see the bloody reckoning coming? Why would they ever assume a lack of magic meant a lack of a soul? That the boy wasn't keeping score of every slight against him, noting the blatant hypocrisy of the coven leaders all along the way.

Kai may think himself a sociopath, and maybe to an extent he's correct in his self-diagnosis, but Bonnie thinks it's more complicated than that. She knows better than most the things you can convince your mind to believe. Forget the pain of an emotionally stunted mother and father in order to focus on the sacrifices they made for her survival. Focus on her friends' efforts to include her in all the adolescent milestones even if she did feel like the third-wheel most of the time.

Bonnie didn't think she ever felt truly, unconditionally desired, but she did know love. And she was better for it. Kai on the other hand…

She heard the camera's wheel click-click-click into place in her mind.

Maybe Kai's bullshit vacation idea wasn't so shitty after all.

"Kai?" Bonnie asked, keeping her gaze on the sky.

"Bonnie?"

She was silent for just a moment, unused to any feeling in relation to Kai that wasn't anger, horror, or discomfort.

"Thank you."

Kai remained silent, and Bonnie felt grateful for that as well.

She began to feel a heaviness in her bones, muscles aching from swimming for the first time in years, and her eyes slipped shut. If she decided to do what she thought she must, she'd have to make a longterm plan to keep her end goal in sight. She couldn't afford a bleeding heart in the prison world, metaphorically speaking. Bonnie would use everything she's learned from the vampires who have been in and out of her life since she came into her powers.

Another, sharper tug in her chest before Bonnie felt a hot hand hook onto her waist. She opened her eyes to Kai aligning his body over hers, mouth gunning for her lips.

"What the fuck, Kai?!" She twisted her head away.

"Oh…misread the 'thank you.'" He cocked his head to the side. "It was just a regular 'thank you' right? Not like a thank you, thank you?"

"Kai…" Bonnie rolled her eyes and pushed on his chest. "Just get off me."

Kai pushed himself back up to his feet and returned to his original spot. Bonnie grunted as she stood, sand caked on her skin and shifting into every fold. She looked at the house in the distance.

"You're cooking dinner tonight."

Bonnie's green eyes were ethereal in the light of the setting sun before her. Kai nodded.

"Sure thing, Bonster."

And he continued to wonder just what kind of "thank you" that really was when Bonnie shyly smiled at him before ducking her head and walking away.