Disclaim! I own nothing.
This chapter was extremely difficult to write. I almost completed it and then decided to rewrite the entire thing and I'm not sure how I feel about the final product other than nervous. I'm extremely nervous to find out what you all think. I know some of you might be disappointed, but I really hope not. I hope you like it.
As some of you may already know, I'm putting together a playlist for this story. It's mainly for the second half and not every chapter will have a corresponding song, but it's a little added bonus. The first two songs on the playlist dealt with the first half of the story. They were Up All Night by Oliver Tank and How'm I Supposed to Die by Civil Twilight. The song for this chapter is Home by Daughter. I'll be posting it on Tumblr later today.
FFT - We are no longer dealing with Human Damon (I know, I'm sad too). It's Vampire Damon's turn and this Damon won't be as easy to love or as open as we've come to expect. He's seen a lot of things and done a lot things and it's had an effect on him, but does that mean he's a completely different person...?
The room seemed to shift before Bonnie's eyes. Emily faded, the walls molded and old wood paneling poked through the plaster, the ceiling concaved at the centre, the glass in the window shattered in some places and disappeared entirely in others.
It was like watching a time-lapse of the room decaying. All the life that was once present emptied, leaving it looking abandoned and strangely hollow.
Bonnie blinked and everything stopped. Dust hung heavy in the air around her and layered thickly over the few remaining items in the room.
The wood made a startled noise in protest as her legs gave way and she slumped heavily to the ground.
Emily had actually done it.
She was back.
Or... was she?
There was a chance Emily had gotten something wrong – sent her to the wrong time.
Heart beating a little faster, she glanced around the room, but there was no way to tell what year it was. There was a twisted, broken iron bed frame in one corner and a dilapidated writing table in another – both completely filthy and covered in cobwebs. Neither of which gave her any clues as to when she was.
Her best course of action would be to head to town and find a newspaper or something, but...
She traced a finger absently through the dust lining the floor and bit her lip.
If she left, that was it. It would truly be over. She'd really have to let go of everything she'd had.
Pushing her teeth harder into her lip, she lifted a shaky hand to her dress and unbuttoned it slowly – far enough that she could reach the letters she had tucked inside. She was grateful she had taken the time to retrieve them before heading to Emily's room for the last time.
Placing them gently on the ground, she flattened them with the palm of her hand and let her fingers skim across the pulpy fabric of the paper.
She admired the soft curls of his Gs and the strong strokes of his Ts and her heart squeezed painfully in her chest.
I miss our talks... Her fingers traced ...my imaginings could never compare to the reality of you...
"What happened to you?" she asked, her mind racing with endless possibilities. Had he fallen into Katherine's arms as soon as she'd left? Or had it been too late for that? How much longer did Katherine have before she was 'thrown in the tomb?' Did he manage to avoid her corruption and live a full human life?
Was he dead now? Buried somewhere in the old Mystic cemetery...
A tear slipped passed her cheek and landed with a soft tap on Damon's letter, splotching some of the words. Bonnie cursed under her breath and dapped at the spot with her sleeve but it only blurred them further.
"No," she cried, pushing the papers away from her as the tears fell harder. Burying her face in her hands she allowed herself this one moment. There was no one here she had to be strong for.
Eventually she gathered enough strength to venture outside and begin ambling towards town. She had travelled there by foot so many times that, at the very least, she knew which direction to head in.
Taking a peek over her shoulder, she paused.
The Salvatore Manor stood behind her, a shadow of its former glory. Its imposing white columns were now discoloured and overrun with ivy – like much of the rest of the house. Its roof was caved in at more than one place. Its grounds were overgrown and riddled with shrubbery.
The stables were nowhere to be seen, Bonnie noticed with a corresponding twinge.
Frowning, she squared her shoulders and started forward. She needed to concentrate on the present, not the past.
Walking at a steady pace she began formulating her next step.
As soon as she got to town she'd have to find today's date. Then she'd either have to figure out a way home with no money and dressed like she'd just participated in the Founder's Day parade or... Well, hopefully she was far enough in the future that she could turn to her Grams for help if worse came to worst.
She had been walking for a good twenty minutes when she heard the sound of distant traffic. Pausing, she twisted in the direction of the noise and attempted to peer through the trees.
If there was a road up there, it wasn't visible from where she was standing. Nonetheless, she decided to check it out - and it wasn't long before the trees thinned to nothing and she was greeted with pavement.
Walking carefully just outside of the shoulder, she followed the road and kept her eyes peeled for oncoming traffic. A few minutes passed with nothing in either direction until the wind from a speeding vehicle almost knocked her off her feet.
Peering after them, Bonnie felt a fraction of the tension she was carrying leak away. She had never been so relieved to see a generic Toyota Corolla in all her life, and she wasn't well versed in cars, but she was positive that make was from the 2000s, so at least she was in the right century.
She continued on for several more minutes, watching the spattering of cars speed by cautiously and calculating how much further she had to go when someone honked and began to pull over beside her.
Coming to a stop, she glanced over her shoulder and felt her heart still at the sight of the familiar blue Camaro.
It couldn't be, could it…?
The window closest to her rolled down and her feet, as if moving of their own volition, inched forward. Electric blue eyes and a drawn brow greeted her and she stumbled to a halt.
He was here. He was alive.
A surge of relief rushed through her and concentrated in her chest where it burned brightly.
"Damon," she whispered, leaning forward and searching his gaze for any sign of recognition, but he just stared back in confusion.
"What the hell are you wearing?"
Her heart plummeted to her stomach, leaving her suddenly cold, and she ducked her head to mask her disappointment.
"Do I want to know why you're dressed like you just came from Pioneer Village?"
Feeling her throat tighten, she simply shook her head. Eyes glued to the way the Camaro's tires hugged the road she listened to Damon's leather jacket as it rubbed against his seat.
Forcing a deep breath into her lungs, hands fisting by her side, she lifted her gaze just high enough to meet his and nodded, making sure to keep her features neutral.
His lips twisted down as he continued to scrutinize her closely. He tapped a senseless rhythm on his steering wheel, his focus shifting out the front windshield and then back to her. "You sure about that?"
Nodding her head again, she managed a tight lipped smile for good measure, though it felt like her insides were shredding the higher she tilted her lips.
Looking less than convinced, he nodded absently in response.
They stayed like that for far too long, with Bonnie watching as Damon hovered uncertainly in his Camaro, until he finally broke the strained silence. "I was going to offer you a ride, but…" he shrugged, his indecisiveness shedding away like an old snake skin, "the last time we saw each other you set me on fire, so… have fun walking."
With that he put his car in drive and peeled away.
Bonnie's legs went limp and she crumpled onto the graveled shoulder. The tiny stones were unforgiving, even through the layers of her dress, but she could barely feel them, eyes fastened on Damon's taillights as he disappeared around the bend – her heart breaking all over again.
Emily's spell was flawless. He didn't remember…
A quiet sob wracked her frame and she struggled to get a grip on herself. She was tired of breaking down. It seemed like all she'd done today was cry and she had officially reached her quota. Crying would solve nothing.
The worst was over. She had seen him; she knew what to expect now. The next time would be easier.
She had to believe that or she'd never survive.
Wiping roughly at her cheeks, she gulped air into her lungs in steady intervals until her sobs quieted. Then, getting shakily to her legs, she gazed sightlessly ahead and walked.
She couldn't have been walking for more than ten minutes when Damon's Camaro appeared around the bend headed in her direction. He stopped the car abruptly, rolling down his window and glaring at her. "Get in the car."
Her pulse sped up as she looked at him. "What?"
"I don't know what's going on with you and frankly, I don't really care, but I'll be damned if you wind up dead in a ditch, so just get in the car before I change my mind and leave you here," he snapped.
"I'd rather walk," she replied honestly. The very idea of being in an enclosed space with Damon was too much to process. She wasn't ready for that.
His eyes widened, lips pursing together in a hard, thin line. "Get in the fucking car, Bonnie."
"I'm fine," she insisted, turning back to the road ahead of her. She took two steps and he was blocking her path, legs planted shoulder width apart and arms crossed over his chest. She squeezed her eyes shut to erase the image. "Please. This is hard enough as it is."
"Why does everything have to be so difficult with you?"
"I'm not trying to be difficult."
"Then stop fighting me all the time!"
Her eyes popped open. They felt raw and puffy from all the crying and she could feel the threatening sting of more tears on the way. She was standing on the edge of a precipice, a thin piece of land barely wide enough for both her feet, and below her was the raging sea of her own emotions. She had lost count of the number of times she had fallen from her precarious perch today and into the waves below, but she couldn't afford to anymore. Not like this; not in front of Damon.
As if the true depth of her emotional frailty was reflected on her features, his irritation dissipated. Attention traveling carefully to a non-existent point over her shoulder, he frowned and went unnaturally still for a long moment before releasing a heavy breath. "Come on. I'm taking you home," he reiterated quietly.
Not bothering to see if she would follow, he crossed to his Camaro and got back in.
She looked towards town, debating. She was only twenty or so minutes away if she picked up the pace. But once she got there she'd have to find a way to get home. She didn't have any money for the bus or a cab… She might be able to stop at The Grille and bum a ride off Matt. What time was it? What day was it? Would he even be there?
A honk – loud and abrupt – startled her from her thoughts and her head snapped to face the Camaro. Damon frowned, crooking a finger. "Today, Bonnie."
Shoulders slumping under the weight of her defeat, she trudged over.
They drove to her house in silence, both lost in their own thoughts. Bonnie kept her eyes locked on the passing scenery to her right. It was easier to pretend she was in the car with someone else if she didn't have to see Damon in her periphery.
She just needed time to process everything that had happened. Once she put everything into perspective she'd be able to decide how she wanted to move forward, but until then…
Shutting her eyes, she adjusted herself in her seat until she could rest her head against the cool glass of her window.
This had to be the longest day of her life.
They were resting under their tree. The sun streamed down between the oak's leaves in splattered patterns of gold and gray and Bonnie sighed, pillowing her head lightly on Damon's shoulder.
"If my every day were spent in such a fashion, I should think I had lead a fruitful life indeed," Damon said softly.
She laughed lightly. "We've done nothing, but sit here all day."
"Precisely, and I am all the better for it."
"What do you get out of it?"
"The pleasure of your company," he whispered, tracing his nose along the shell of her ear.
"Other than that," she smiled.
"I want for nothing else."
She leaned further into him, her smile spreading. He was such a charmer.
Twisting her head to tell him as much, she screamed. Heart pumping wildly in her chest, she scrambled away from him – legs tangling in her dress as she rushed to get to her feet.
Damon reached out to steady her, his black veined eyes wide in surprise. "What is the matter?"
She was frozen, staring at the blood, wet and glistening, around his mouth.
Finding her voice, she ripped away from him. "What happened to you?"
"Nothing. I am as I ever was." When he spoke she glimpsed his elongated canines.
"No," she stumbled further away, shaking her head, "no. What happened to you?"
He went unnaturally still, his head cocking to one side as he examined her. The movement was strangely bird-like. "I fail to take your meaning."
She held out a mirror for him to see himself. He blinked slowly at his reflection, bored and unsurprised by what he saw. Looking past the mirror to her, he said again, "I am as I ever was."
"Can't you see that you've changed?"
"How? Do I not bleed as I always have?" He tore into his wrist with his fangs to demonstrate. Crimson flowed over his wound and down his arm soaking through his shirt. "Do I no longer drown my woes? Am I not still easily vexed?" He smirked a little as he continued, "Do I no longer make you laugh? When I kiss you, are you unmoved? Does my heart not belong to only you?"
He reached within his chest and pulled it out to show her. Carved into the still flesh was Elena.
Her hand swung up, slapping the offensive object away, shock and betrayal rippling through her all the while. The heart landed by Lenore, who bent her long neck and scooped it in her mouth. Damon looked at her with wide red tinted eyes.
"Why would you cast my heart aside?"
"I miss you," she confessed, feeling the ache of her loneliness deep inside of her.
"Miss me?" he echoed, brow rumpling as he stepped forward and erased the distance between them. "Whatever for?" He lowered his face until it hovered inches away from hers. "I've always been here for the taking."
He placed her hand upon his chest and pushed it through his flesh until she could feel his heart. Closing her fist around it, she pulled and, this time, it bore her name.
Tugging him down, she crushed her lips to his. She couldn't taste it or feel it, but she was aware she was getting blood in her mouth – she didn't care. She kissed him with everything she had and, holding her close, he kissed her back in kind.
And then they were sitting under their tree again. She felt warm and content and loved to such a degree it seemed to fill her very soul.
"I've bought you a gown for the ball," Damon told her.
"I can't go to the ball." She'd get in trouble.
"The ball is in your honour. You must attend."
A firm shake to her shoulder made her reluctantly pry her heavy eyes open.
"Wake up, Sleeping Beauty. We've arrived," Damon teased from beside her.
Still feeling warm and content and loved, her lips curled and she hummed softly in appreciation as she gave herself a little stretch. "Can't we just stay here? I'd rather spend my time with you."
Suddenly alert, she turned slowly to find a very modern looking Damon Salvatore watching her in confusion.
Eyes widening, she played dumb. "What?"
His gaze narrowed, one corner of his lips twisting up as he leaned forward. "You want to spend some time with me, Bonnie?"
"No!" she exclaimed, aiming for appalled but landing somewhere closer to alarmed. Reaching blindly behind her, she grasped the door handle and pushed. It jerked under the pressure, but stayed shut. Trying not to panic, she pushed harder and again it gave nothing but a little a jerk. "Why isn't this opening?"
Amusement plain in his clear blue eyes, he leaned a fraction closer and whispered conspiratorially, "You might want to try unlocking it first."
Heat flooding her, she grimaced. "Right."
Turning, she unlocked the door and made a hasty exit.
"What? No thank you?" he shouted after her.
Not bothering to face him, she lifted a hand in acknowledgement. "Bye," she answered pointedly.
Bonnie felt some of the tension roll off her at the sound of Damon's Camaro pulling away. Reaching just under her collar, her fingers wrapped around the delicate chain resting there. Tugging it out from under the scratchy fabric she rolled the tear drop stone between her fingers, studying the way it refracted the sunlight.
Fisting the tiny pendant, she closed her eyes.
The remnants of her dream had faded, but Bonnie had taken something away from it. A sense of purpose.
Damon was here. He was alive. As long as those two things were true there was a chance he would remember; there was a chance the spell could be broken.
There had to be a counter spell out there somewhere, right?
Bonnie had never been a passive person. She wasn't about to lie down and accept her fate without a fight. If there was a way to fix this, she would find it.
Okay, first things first, she thought with a new determination. Opening her eyes, she faced her house. I need to figure out a way inside.
She and her father were too cautious to keep spare keys lying around, so unfortunately this wouldn't be straightforward. She quickly contemplated climbing the willow tree in the backyard to reach her bedroom window when she remembered that she was a witch.
Laughing at herself, she gave her head a little shake and mentally ran through the list of spells she knew. Lifting her hand, she hesitated.
There was a chance her father was inside. There was a chance she was inside. Or worse, both of them at once. What would she do if faced with her double?
But what were her options? Where could she go if she couldn't go home?
She still wasn't even sure exactly when she was, though she now had a better idea. Damon had mentioned her setting him on fire, so it could be any time after that.
This is getting ridiculous! Just rip the Band-Aid off, Bonnie, and see what you're dealing with, she thought, frustrated, and concentrating her energy on the door, she sent it flying open.
Stepping into the foyer she looked cautiously around, but saw no signs of life. Keeping her eyes peeled for any trace of her father's presence or her own, she headed towards her room and, crossing the threshold, froze.
There was a salt circle and five slightly melted candles lying undisturbed on her bedroom floor, and in the centre of that circle were a forgotten mortar and pestle and her grimoire.
She moved around the circle and made a beeline for her phone on the nightstand. The screen glowed a bright 10:34 AM, Friday, April 4th in greeting.
Bonnie's head spun.
She had been prepared to come back months before she had ever done the spell. She had been prepared to come back months after… But a day…?
She had left on April 3rd.
She couldn't remember the exact time, maybe around five or six.
She shook her head in incomprehension.
She'd been gone for little more than twelve hours in total. It was like she'd never left at all.
Emily had asked her a few questions about the day she did the spell in her attempts to create it. Bonnie hadn't thought much of it considering Emily shied away from specifics, but she now understood her ancestor's intentions.
Emily had managed to return Bonnie late enough that she had no awkward encounter's with herself and early enough that her presence had no time to be missed. Bonnie imagined this was not a happy accident. Emily's talents were truly something to be admired.
"No offense, but you're no Emily Bennett." Damon's disparaging words from so long ago echoed in her head now.
You can say that again… Bonnie agreed darkly.
After an excessively long, hot shower, Bonnie settled under her blankets with her grimoire. Leaning back against the pile of fluffy pillows, she sighed contentedly and began sifting through the worn pages.
Losing track of time, she didn't raise her head until she spotted her phone lighting up on the bedside table from the corner of her eye. With one hand still flipping through pages, the other grasped her phone. Unlocking it absently, she tossed the phone a glance and noticed two unread texts.
Paying more attention now, she opened her messages. They were both from Elena.
Where are you? You okay? – 9:20 AM
You still helping to prep for the masq tomorrow? – 12:11 PM
She stared blankly at the second text for a full minute, trying to place its meaning, before groaning.
She had forgotten all about the stupid masquerade she was supposed to be helping with. Was that really tomorrow?
She bit her lip and contemplated saying no. She didn't really feel like participating in any asinine group activities right now.
Chucking her phone aside for the time being, she refocused on the book on her lap. Flicking through a few more pages, she paused then flipped back, then forward and then back again.
There was a page that looked thicker than the others, like two pages stuck together. Had it always been like that? How had she never noticed? Tracing the perimeter of the page with her fingers, she searched for an opening. Her nail caught the edge of a pocket of air and, carefully, she slid her nail like a letter opener along the rim of the paper. It eased apart with little effort.
She blinked, brow creasing.
The pages were blank. There was nothing there except a scrap piece of paper.
Picking it up, she examined it closely. There wasn't much to see other than a single line of print. She recognized the elegant script as Emily's but the words were in Latin.
In a pulsu cordis.
Frowning, she grabbed her phone and hit up Google translate.
The words, in the beat of a heart, stared innocently back at her and her stomach dropped.
Was this some kind of sick joke?
Balling the tiny scrap of paper in her hand, she set it aflame. She didn't flinch away from the scorching heat at the centre of her palm; instead she kept her gaze locked on the ball of fire as she remembered her last conversation with Emily before her ancestor discovered her relationship with Damon.
Those words had proven to be an empty promise.
The flame died away, leaving nothing but hot ash in its wake and Bonnie moved to the bathroom to wash it off. Watching as the grey residue clung stubbornly to the sides of her porcelain sink, she wondered if she'd made a mistake.
Everything inside of her pointed to that note being left for her to find. Emily was a lot of things, but cruel wasn't really one of them. There must have been a reason she left that message…
If that's her way of apologizing, I don't accept.
Lips pursed, she reached forward with clean hands to scrub the grey matter away.
Bonnie shifted the box of candles she was carrying carefully in her arms as she scanned the area for the appropriate table. There were supposed to be sliver candelabras somewhere around here…
Spotting the table a few feet away, her eyes landed on Elena and she paused, studying her friend discretely. After spending four months with Katherine it was disorienting seeing her oldest friend and having to gauge whether or not it was actually her.
There was something inherently different about Elena from Katherine, a certain way she held herself and interacted with the world that reassured Bonnie that this was, in fact, her best friend. There were no pretences with Elena.
Bonnie bit her lip as she wondered, not for the first time today, if she was truly ready to face everyone.
Too late, she thought as their gazes caught and Elena crossed the rest of the way to meet her.
Bonnie started forward once more, placing the box gently on the table.
"You're here," Elena offered as greeting, automatically beginning to unpack the candles.
"I'm here," she responded, her focus drifting behind Elena and off to the side, instinctively searching for a flash of dark hair and blue eyes.
She had managed to find a memory spell after hours of searching. Technically it was meant for simple things like misplaced car keys or to help remember your anniversary. It wasn't really designed for drudging up memories of a century's old relationship that were blocked by another spell, but… beggars couldn't be choosers. She'd have to work with what she had.
She had yet to cast it though. She needed a bit of Damon's DNA for the spell to work. So she was really hoping he'd show up today.
"Caroline's not coming. I told you."
Bonnie's eyebrows pulled together in confusion as she looked at her friend. "What?"
"I made her promise to stay away. Plus she has all that drama with her mom to deal with, so…"
"Oh my God," Bonnie whispered, a hand coming up to cover her mouth as she remembered everything that happened to Caroline before she left. How could she have possibly forgotten? "I'm a terrible person."
"No, Bonnie. No one thinks that," Elena was quick to reassure, resting a supportive hand on her shoulder. "You have every reason to feel the way you do. Caroline understands too. I think we're all just trying to adjust."
She nodded absently, her mind racing. Her best friend was a vampire – she hadn't managed to do anything to fix that.
She hadn't accomplished anything!
"Bonnie!" Elena exclaimed sharply and Bonnie's attention was brought to the box full of candles she had just lit. Eyes widening, she waved a hand and put the flames out before the cardboard box could catch fire.
"Sorry," she mumbled, darting her eyes around to see if anyone had noticed.
"Look, I know you're upset about this," Elena started before pitching her voice lower and angling her body fully towards her, "but Caroline didn't ask to be a vampire."
"I know that, Elena," she snapped, her frustration rising. She didn't need to be reminded of the part she'd played in her friend's turning. She couldn't do anything to change what had happed, so that left her with two options: she could either cut Caroline out of her life or put her guilt aside and make an effort to understand her and what she was going through.
Stefan had changed so little from when he was human. Was it possible that Caroline could stay the same too? Or would she be like Damon, a different side of the same coin? She couldn't imagine Caroline being anything other than what she was now.
It would probably be easier for her if she had support.
"I'll talk to her, I guess," Bonnie said more to herself than anyone.
"Bonnie, that –" Elena stuttered, taken aback, "She would like that."
Bonnie figured she owed Caroline that much at least.
Bonnie headed towards the main house in search of fairy lights. Apparently there weren't enough already hanging off every available inch of space on the extended back terrace. Was there such a thing as fairy light overkill?
She played absently with the collar of her turtleneck as she pondered this.
After four months of dressing like a nun, she was surprised to discover that ninety percent of her wardrobe made her feel naked. It would take some time for her to re-adjust to a neckline that wasn't right under her chin, but for now she had her trusty turtlenecks.
Her shoulder bumped hard into a boulder of a person and she made a small noise of surprise.
Faintly, she heard an apology and turned to watch the person walk away only to have her vision swim. The scent of sweet perfume filled the air and a curly headed Elena towered over her. No, not Elena… Katherine.
Katherine laughed and leaned forward and lapped her tongue – Oh God, no! GROSS!
Shaking the image roughly away, Bonnie blinked to find Stefan standing in front of her, his arms crossed over his chest and brow heavy.
"What's the matter? Are you okay?"
Her eyes sprinted over his form, taking in all the minute differences, and she felt a strange sense of nostalgia swell in her chest at seeing him. She met his gaze head on, searching his eyes for a deeper sense of recognition. All she saw was the same polite concern he had always shown for her before she had left.
"Bonnie?" He peered at her curiously.
"Oh." Heart sinking a little, she came back to herself and replied, "When I touched him I… saw something."
More like experienced something she never in her life wanted to experience again.
"What do you mean? Like a vision?" he asked, his forehead crumpling even further.
She nodded. "I saw Katherine."
"You saw Katherine?" he echoed in surprise. "Doing what?"
She scrunched her nose at the memory. "She was kissing him."
To put it mildly.
"Why is she hanging around Mason Lockwood?" he wondered aloud, no longer focused on her.
"She's probably manipulating him. Isn't that her M.O. when it comes to all men?" she suggested unthinkingly, her tone unmistakably on just this side of bitter.
Stefan's eyes widened marginally, his lips twitching in amusement. "I see Elena's filled you in."
"Something like that," she said, beginning to inch her way passed him, not really in the mood for a one-sided stroll down memory lane. "I have stuff to do. I'll, uh… see you around, I guess."
She wasn't hiding per say; she was just 'taking a moment.' A moment away from all the inane tasks she was being forced to do and from all the people she knew.
Sitting on a low stone wall, she people watched idly as everyone went about their business.
She wasn't normally this anti-social, but she also wasn't normally this emotionally unstable either. Whenever she thought of Caroline she felt guilty and apprehensive, with Stefan she felt nostalgic and sad… Elena made her a little uneasy, if she was going to be completely honest with herself.
And Damon… she still hadn't seen him today. With her stellar luck he probably wouldn't show up and she'd have to wait even longer to test the spell.
Annoying. Especially when she suspected the spell wouldn't work anyways. And if it didn't work what was she going to do? She had yet to devise a plan B.
She needed to get her hands on more grimoires. The right spell had to be out there somewhere; she just needed to find it.
Sighing, she imagined him, dressed as always in his trusty black on black ensemble, slipping lithely through the crowd.
The corner of her lip pulled up as she noticed a man in the distance coming across the lawn that resembled him. Dark hair, pale skin, a cocksure attitude that made people step aside instinctively. He moved quickly, with purpose, and the closer he got, the clearer he became until she could make out the lean muscles under the grey sleeves of his shirt and the electric blue of his eyes.
Electric blue eyes that locked on to her and refused to let go.
Breath snagging in her throat, she realized Damon Salvatore was storming towards her like a man on a mission.
Heart pounding, she jumped to her feet.
Should she stay? Or go? – Of course she should stay. She needed to get a hair from him – Should she talk to him? What would she say? Why was he coming towards her anyway? Was he looking for her? Why was he looking for her? Did he remember?
Hope sparked brightly in her chest and she pushed it roughly aside. There was no way he remembered her. She had to keep that in the forefront of her mind at all times, because she couldn't afford to be disappointed every time he looked at her but didn't really see her.
Forcing herself to sit back down, she wiped her palms on her pants before burying them in her lap to keep them from shaking. Taking a large breath, she watched him come closer.
She had avoided looking at him yesterday because she didn't have the strength, but today she found she could. He looked exactly the same and entirely different from when he was human. He looked older, somehow – like his experiences had aged him in a way time couldn't; he seemed darker, heavier, and less vulnerable. This Damon wore all his scars where no one could see them.
She hadn't managed to keep him from all the things that left him broken and bitter…
Suddenly despondent, her gaze dropped to her hands.
She couldn't do this. It was too much, too soon. She needed more time to adjust to the idea of him no longer being the man she knew before she could face him again. She'd get the DNA another day.
Getting to her feet, she walked in the direction of the main house where most people were still working.
"Bonnie!" he called after her and, despite knowing better, she froze. "Don't even think about pretending you didn't see me."
"I'm busy," she tossed back, keeping her eyes focused on the path in front of her.
"Doing what? Cutting out paper hearts?" His fingers wrapped unexpectedly around her arm and he began dragging her in the opposite direction. "You're coming with me."
"The hell I am!" she managed around a startled breath. He needed to not be touching her, like, now. She could feel her pulse speeding under the surface of her skin and she'd die if he felt it too.
It was stupid really, because he was a vampire and could hear it racing anyways, but she planted her feet stubbornly and endeavoured to pry his fingers off her arm.
"Please, Bonnie. It's important." Stefan's voice cut through her futile efforts and she swung her gaze to his, surprised to see him there.
He looked at her imploringly and she sagged in defeat. "Fine. What is it?"
"Not here," Damon said, pulling her forward. He kept her in front of him as they walked back from whence she came. She could feel the light pressure of his fingers through the fabric of her grey turtleneck and she wondered exactly how strong he was now and if he was still afraid of dying.
"Okay." Feeling like she was about to break into a million pieces, she managed to wrench her arm free from his grip. "Okay, this is as far as I go."
She crossed her arms tightly in an attempt to hold herself together before meeting his eye. "What do you want?"
His focus was intense as he kept his gaze locked on hers. "A favour."
Steeling herself against it, she frowned and asked, "What kind of favour?"
Head falling back, he began, "So predict –"only to come up short, his brow knitting. "Wait, what?"
He glanced at Stefan who lifted a shoulder briefly in response.
Was she not usually this accommodating? She couldn't remember.
Huffing loudly, she shifted her weight to one hip. "You know what? It doesn't matter. I'm not helping either way. I'm not in the mood for this."
"Ah," Damon sighed, swinging his attention back to her. "There's the witch I know and barely tolerate."
Bonnie bit her lip hard and diverted her gaze. "I'm leaving now." She wasn't prepared for this.
Spinning to walk away, she jerked back. Stefan was already blocking her path, his hands held out as if to pacify her. "Bonnie, wait please. I know how you feel about helping us out, but you're the one who linked Mason with Katherine. We finally have an opportunity to get the upper-hand on both of them, so… hear us out."
"Yeah, pretty please," Damon added wryly from behind her.
Shutting her eyes and shoving her tumultuous emotions aside, she tried to put things in perspective. As painful as it was being around Damon like this, there were bigger issues at play here – namely Katherine. If staying meant possibly ending the bitch for good… well, she could suffer in silence for that.
"Alright, I'm listening," she said, popping her eyes open to find Stefan staring down at his phone.
"I have to fill Elena in on what's going on." He moved to walk away, and then paused to look at his brother. "Can you play nice please?"
"No!" she exclaimed at an alarming volume, realizing Stefan intended to leave them.
Both men froze. Stefan's eyebrows disappeared completely off his forehead and Damon's mouth twisted down in one corner.
"Excuse me?" Damon narrowed his eyes pointedly.
She felt the blood rush to her cheeks and shook her head. "I… forgot to… buy milk this week," she backpedalled lamely. "I just remembered..."
"Right," Stefan said, his scepticism at war with the amusement in his tone. Damon didn't bother to comment, choosing to glare instead. "Well," Stefan continued, glancing between them, "are we good?"
"Yeah, we're good," Damon finally said, drying the words out as much as he could.
Stefan moved away and Damon zeroed in on her. "I'm going to pretend that the last few seconds didn't happen for your benefit. I'm also going to remind that I gave you a ride yesterday out of the goodness of my heart and I still haven't received a thank you for it. Now all you have to do," he said, widening his eyes for emphasis, "is touch Mason Lockwood again, see if he gave Katherine the moonstone."
Fighting the remnants of her embarrassment, she shook her head and explained patiently, "My visions don't work like that. I don't get to ask questions."
"How inconvenient…" he said, his tone suggesting that he didn't entirely believe her, before his focus intensified. "Although… let's talk about that witchy juju thing you do with me. You know, the fun one where my brain bursts into flames. What is that?"
She squared her shoulders and lifted her chin. "That's me giving you an aneurism. Your blood vessels go pop, but you heal quickly so I do it over and over again."
She could see the wheels starting to turn behind his eyes. "Is it vampire specific?"
What kind of question was that? Narrowing her gaze, she asked carefully, "Why?"
"Just answer the question."
"I'm not helping you hurt him," she answered firmly.
"So that's a yes?" he inferred.
"Damon, it's not happening."
"It is happening! And you want to know why, little witch?" He crowded her space suddenly and her pulse spiked, muscles stiffening as she struggled not to lose ground. She could smell his cologne and the dark, spicy scent that was uniquely Damon.
"The bastard tried to kill me and my brother and I don't take shit like that lying down," he said, pulling her sharply out of her thoughts.
"What?" Something cold entered her veins as she processed what he was saying.
"He let the council in on our little secret and we got a chest full of wooden bullets for it. –"
"How come no one told me about this?" she asked, affronted.
He arched a curious brow. "Would you have cared?"
She hesitated, choosing her next words carefully. "He's clearly a threat. Who knows what else he's capable of? Next time… next time tell me when something like this happens."
"Okay," he agreed quietly, though his surprise was evident on his feature. He tilted his head in a bird-like fashion, his blue irises racking over her like he was meeting her for the first time.
She did her best not fidget under the scrutiny, her hand absently tracing the outline of her pendant through the fabric of her turtleneck. His attention stayed on her hand for a long moment before dragging itself back up.
"So… are you in?" he finally asked.
Bonnie winced as Mason's prone form slid with surprising force into the side of the truck's bed.
"Do you have to drive like that?" she asked, struggling to keep herself upright as they pulled out of another turn at breakneck speed.
"I don't have to," Damon replied with fiendish delight.
"Well, he's more likely to wake up if you do," she cautioned rationally, turning her head just in time to catch him rolling his eyes.
"Why do you think you're here?" he retorted, but slowed down to a reasonable speed.
He was enjoying this way too much for her liking. She didn't know what he had planned for the werewolf, but she got the feeling Mason wouldn't be walking away from it.
Guilt chewed painfully at her insides as she leaned her head against her seat. The closest she'd ever come to killing someone was… well, Damon. And that had been in a moment of passion. This, on the other hand, was all very premeditated.
The reality of the situation was making it difficult for her to swallow. Her tongue felt thick, her skin warm and it was getting harder to breathe.
"If you're going to be sick, at least roll down the window first."
She forced a couple slow, even breaths as she returned his gaze. "I'm not going to be sick," she spoke with a confidence she wasn't really feeling.
He scoffed softly, like he could see through her veneer to the girl underneath, but shifted his attention back to the road in front of him. "This isn't your first time, you know."
"The tomb vampires..." he trailed off, letting his words rest heavy between them. She needed no further clarification, but he continued nonetheless, "They were your first. Not to mention Mayor Lockwood and Jeremy's girlfriend, but those were unintentional, right?"
Her stomach twisted and, for a moment, she worried she might actually have to roll down the window. Through gritted teeth she managed, "Are you trying to make me feel better or worse right now?"
"Neither," he answered bluntly, his focus still fixed on the road. "I'm just stating a fact. This isn't the first time you've done something like this. When you, for whatever reason," he made a blind gesture in her direction before placing his hand back on the steering wheel, "chose not to deactivate the device, you chose to let all those people die. You did it because you honestly believed you were making the right decision."
He turned his head to look at her, blue eyes piercing to her very core. "I know you, Bonnie. You wouldn't be here right now if you didn't honestly believe this was the right thing to do."
Her muscles relaxed and the nausea eased away until she felt infinitely calmer.
It was true. No matter what she felt for Damon, she wouldn't be here doing something like this if it went against her principles. Mason had tried to kill two of her own, he was working with Katherine, and he was a threat to what little her and her friends had left. She would do everything in her power to protect the few pockets of happiness remaining in their lives and to protect the rest of the town and all the innocent lives that kept getting dragged into this war, but still...
This was definitely something she didn't want to get accustomed to.
Chewing absently on her bottom lip, Bonnie studied Damon's profile as he continued to drive and wondered what sort of man he was. She had never really gotten to know him as a vampire before meeting him as a human. She had made a lot of assumptions about who he was based on his actions and, albeit being completely justified in these assumptions, they were still just assumptions.
What about him had changed and what had stayed the same?
On the surface it was easy to spot the differences. The way he carried himself, how he dressed, his cologne, his hair. Ah, his hair... she missed the slight curl it used to have. She wondered how he got rid of it. That kind of thing didn't just disappear overnight.
Speaking of hair...
She still needed some DNA if she wanted to work that spell later. She narrowed her eyes and scanned his person for any visible loose strands, lingering on the cloth lying snugly against his abdomen and the defined muscles underneath. She wondered if it was possible for a vampire to gain muscle mass because they looked bigger to her –
"Why are you staring at me?" he asked, peeking at her from the corner of his eye.
Startled, blood rushing to her face, she swivelled her head in the opposite direction. "I'm not staring at you."
"There was some definite staring going on," he countered cheekily. She could practically hear the smile pulling at his lips.
"You are so full of yourself, it's unbelievable," she said calmly, though it did nothing to lessen the red of her cheeks. Making an all encompassing gesture to the area around him, she continued, "I was looking in that general direction, but I wasn't looking at you."
"Whatever helps you sleep at night, sweetness..." he teased.
Not even bothering to respond, she paid extra attention to the passing shrubbery.
Of course she would get caught checking him out. She shook her head slightly in disgust. She might as well just wear a sign that said, I've got a big fat crush on you.
Not quite accurate, but equally embarrassing.
Damon made another turn, this time at a legal speed, and they drove a few minutes in silence until,
"Do any emotional hitchhiking today?"
"What?" She peered at him in confusion.
He tilted his head at her. "Ambling on the side of the road while emotionally distressed..."
She twisted her body away from him until her seatbelt cut into her neck. "No, I'm done with that phase of my life."
"Good. It wasn't a good look on you. I prefer this Bonnie."
Her lips quirked despite herself. "The one who sets you on fire?"
"The one with all the witty comebacks."
She peeked at him and he tossed her a grin.
"You're welcome, by the way." He waited a beat before gesturing to her and prompting, "Now it's your turn to say..."
She bit her lip hard and, without preamble, asked, "Do you straighten your hair?"
"What?" He trained his wide blue eyes on her, back going ramrod straight. "Why would you ask me that? Better question: why would you even think to ask me that?"
Keeping – with great effort – her features neutral, she gave a tiny shrug and evaded the question. "So is that a yes?"
"Where are you getting your information from? Did Stefan tell you something?" His gaze slit. "It was Stefan, wasn't it?"
Her jaw slackened slightly as the truth dawned on her. "Oh my God... Damon... Do you actually straighten your hair?"
"It takes literally two seconds," he snapped with a dismissive wave of his hand, his head twisting back to face the road as he made one last turn.
She leaned into the space between them. "Every day? Seriously?"
"Two seconds!" he stressed.
"What's wrong with curly hair?"
"Everything," he said so disparagingly Bonnie couldn't stop the small chuckle that escaped her.
He glanced at her curiously, their eyes locking, and the air rushed out of the cabin. Everything stilled and, for a second, he could see her – she could feel it down to her bones, he could really see her – but then he blinked and the moment passed.
Frowning, he shut the engine off and Bonnie realized Damon had pulled into the Salvatore driveway.
"You get the bag, I'll get the werewolf," he instructed succinctly before stepping out of the vehicle and disappearing into the house.
"Here's his bag, as requested." Bonnie hefted the bag off her shoulder and onto an ornate chair by the window with a tiny grunt. That thing weighed a ton. What the hell did he have in it? Cement blocks?
She turned just in time to see Damon adjusting Mason in his seat, her eyes catching on Mason's shoulder – or more specifically the loose strand of midnight hair attached to it. It was too dark and too long to be his, so it had to be Damon's...
Perfect. Now all she had to do was get close enough to take it.
"Here. Grab that corner." Damon motioned towards the edge of a strange tarp looking material that had been placed under Mason's chair.
And now she had the perfect excuse. Thank you, Damon.
She moved forward to Mason's side and was about to reach out when Damon snapped, "I said that corner."
"And I heard you!" she retorted shortly, rerouting to where he had directed. Spinning to face him, she said before leaning over to pick up her end of the tarp, "Maybe I just wanted to know why we're doing this before I actually did it."
Though she suspect she already did.
"I don't want to stain the carpet."
Ugh. "I knew you were going to say something like that." She narrowed her gaze at him even as they worked as a unit to flatten out the 'carpet protector.'
He straightened out, moving to the other end of the tarp and tilting his head towards her. "You're judging again."
"Yeah well, someone has to," she muttered darkly as Damon finished unrolling the tarp and walked over to Mason's discarded bag. Acting quickly, she placed herself in front of Mason and, keeping her attention on Damon's back, felt blindly for the solitary strand on his shoulder. "He's not going to be out much longer."
Damon was too preoccupied by what he had found to pay her any mind. "Whoa," pushing the folds of the bag further apart he pulled out a tangled coil of chains, noting, "It looks like this guy's used to being tied up."
She felt the hair at the tips of her fingers and pinched it. Damon turned and froze, the chains clattering together in his grip. "What are you doing?"
"Uh." Looking down she realized she had situated herself directly between Mason's legs and had her hand resting on his shoulder.
How did one go about explaining something like this?
Damon inched closer, his blue orbs fused on her as he raised an expectant eyebrow.
She forced herself to focus on the unconscious werewolf in front of her rather than the overly observant vampire beside her. Mind racing, cycling through possible explanations, she thought back to the grimoire she had studied last night and felt her chest loosen in relief. She spoke confidently, "You're looking for a moonstone; I'm trying to help you find it."
"Oh," he sounded pleasantly surprised. "Good." Coming around her, he bent down to begin chaining Mason to the chair, all the while firing instructions at her. "Yeah, find out if he gave it to Katherine. Find out where she is... and find out what they're going to do with it once they get it."
Making sure to keep her grip on the strand of hair, she closed her eyes and carefully placed her hands on either side of Mason's head. His temples were warm against the palms of her hands. She cleared her mind of everything and focused on pushing it towards his.
She imagined coming upon a box. Hooking her fingers under the lid she tried to pry it open, but it wouldn't budge. Planting her feet she used her entire essence to push against the lid and this time it burst open.
Something stirred in the corner of her subconscious.
She didn't have a lot of time.
Peering into the box her vision seemed to tunnel, like the periphery was closed off. It was impossible to make anything out in detail; it was far too dark. Every once in a while a light would reflect strangely at a distance, warped and unclear as if the surface it was reflecting off of was unstable. And if she really strained, she thought she could make out stone on the walls around her.
She described what she was seeing to Damon.
"Like a sewer?" he supplied.
"No." She had thought that too at first, but sewers were made with cement not stone. "Like a... well? No, that can't be right."
Readjusting herself, she funneled more energy towards Mason to get a clearer image and felt his mind rustle in response. She could make out the high stone walls now. "No, it's a well," she affirmed.
"Why would it be in a well?"
Prying her mind away from Mason's, she opened her eyes and shot Damon a short look. "I don't know. Why don't you ask him when he wakes up?"
Mason's calloused hand wrapped around her wrist and, heart leaping out of her chest, her breath rushed from her in a startled gasp as he attempted to pull her forward, but Damon moved faster than the eye could see. He clasped her other wrist and pushed his body between them, reaching to unlatch Mason's hand from its position while pulling her swiftly away at the same time.
Chest tight, body heating, she wrenched herself out of Damon's possession. She needed air. She needed... she needed to leave. Glancing down at her hand to make sure she still had a hold of the strand of hair, she straightened up and made a beeline for the hallway, stating, "That's it. That's all I got."
"Hey, Judgy," he called after her, and taking a deep breath, she paused at the top of the stairs to look back at him. "Thank you," he said pointedly.
She resisted the urge the roll her eyes, but couldn't stem the tiny smile that pulled at one side of her mouth.
Bonnie barreled down the hall, the only sound that of her footsteps reverberating off the dark mahogany walls, when the air shifted subtly and she became aware that she was no longer alone.
"Hey," a small voice spoke from behind her and she spun to find Caroline at the other end of the corridor.
Bonnie hovered uncertainly. "Hi," she started, figuring pleasantries were a safe bet. "How's your mom? Elena filled me a little."
"I'm going to take her home tonight," Caroline answered with a shy kind of brightness. Her hands fluttered by her sides the way they always did when she was nervous.
Bonnie nodded vaguely. "Caroline, I'm... uh..." At a loss for words, she bowed her head, feeling the heaviness of the situation settle on her chest. "I'm so sorry... for what happened to you," she whispered earnestly.
"Oh, no, Bonnie," Caroline cried, standing before her in the blink of an eye, but keeping a cautious distance between them. "This wasn't your fault."
"If I hadn't gotten Damon to give you his blood –"
"Then I'd probably be dead," she interjected firmly. "Like dead, dead."
Bonnie raised her chin slightly to study her friend, but the weight on her chest grew heavier and her vision blurred until she couldn't make Caroline out at all and she gave her head a little shake. "This should never have happened to you."
"I know," she agreed quietly, "But it did and there's nothing anyone can do about it, so stop being upset, okay?" Reaching out delicately she placed a tentative hand on Bonnie's arm and when Bonnie didn't automatically pull away, she left it there and continued, "On the bright side I'll never need a face lift."
A watery laugh escaped Bonnie unexpectedly and, slowly, she managed to pull herself together. The weight was still there, and probably would be until she was certain Caroline was okay, but it was a small price to pay.
"Better?" Caroline asked after a while.
"Yeah, sorry," she said, smiling abashedly at the blonde. "How have you been holding up?"
"I'm... adjusting. It's actually not all that different, other than the diet and superpowers."
Bonnie's eyebrows lifted and she wondered if that applied to everyone or if Caroline was an anomaly. Which reminded her, she had a spell to test.
She tapped the pocket of her jeans where she had stuffed the hair before making a motion toward the hall behind her. "I should actually..."
"Oh yeah," Caroline waved her off breezily, though the nonchalance couldn't mask the disappointment in her eyes.
Bonnie turned to walk away and then spun back, struck by a sudden thought. "Do you remember that old well where we used to play when we were kids?"
If Caroline was confused by the randomness of the question she didn't look it, answering simply, "Yeah."
"It's in the woods," she prompted. "Do you remember where?"
Caroline had always had a good memory for details. She could remember the exact outfit she wore on each one of her birthdays since the age of six. It was uncanny.
"It's on the edge of the old Lockwood property. Why?"
"I think that's where Mason is keeping the moonstone," she confessed. Then, tilting her head and lifting a shoulder, she asked shyly, "Do... you want to come with?"
"Yeah!" Caroline's face light up like Christmas, but she played it down as much as possible – which wasn't much. "Uh, sure. Okay."