Chapter One

RPOV

Training. School. Training. Bed. This is my daily routine. In a way, the predictability of my day is comforting. It stops me from being forced to feel. I can be as cold and emotionless as a Strigoi. In a way, I am a Strigoi. Frozen and emotionless. I don't feel, I don't think, I just act. The only difference between me and a Strigoi is that they are undead and evil and I am alive and somewhat good.

I know that everyone noticed my personality change, but no one seemed willing to mention them. Who wouldn't change after being held captive, seeing one of their closest friends murdered and then having to confront said friend's murderers. I didn't really want to think about it. The whole thing had left me empty inside and though I felt horrible thinking it, I was better off dead.

They all made excuses for me. I could feel it from Lissa. 'Rose isn't up to it today', 'Rose doesn't feel too good', 'Rose just isn't herself these days' and my favourite one 'Rose has been through a really hard time... she's traumatised'. I didn't bother to correct her, because if I was being honest, the excuses meant I didn't have to bother living.

I sat on my bed, staring at the covers. I could hear the knocks at the door and knew through the bond that it was Lissa, but couldn't bring myself to open the door. I was Robot Rose, just acting without feeling or thinking.

I heard the door swing open and the next thing I knew Lissa was sitting on the bed beside me. I blinked and turned my attention to her.

"Rose, what the hell, didn't you hear me knocking?" her tone portrayed her frustration.

I shook my head, "Sorry Liss."

The frustration in her features faded into concern. I didn't need to feel her concern through the bond, her face portrayed enough.

"Rose, what happened in Spokane?" the last word made me flinch, "What's happened to you?"

"Nothing, I'm fine," I insisted, more out of habit than to reassure her.

Liss snapped, "You most certainly are not fine! You're quiet and you don't do anything except school and sitting in your room, moping!"

"Drop it, Liss," I warned, letting emotion into my voice for the first time in two months.

"No! This isn't you, Rose. This isn't the real Rose Hathaway. What happened to her? She was reckless and hot tempered and alive. You're empty and emotionless and devoid of any life! What happened to my best friend?" her voice broke on the last word and she blinked away tears.

"Liss..." I whispered.

"Don't, Rose. I just want my best friend back," her voice was full of sadness.

"I am your best friend," I said quietly.

"For two months I've watched you become a robot. I wouldn't say anything if you were getting better, but you aren't!" Lissa continued on.

I blinked away tears as I said, "He's everywhere, Liss. He's everywhere I go and he's in everything I do. Every class is less fun and emptier because he's gone!"

I didn't need to clarify the 'he' I was referring to. We both knew it was Mason. When I'd first come to the Academy, it was Dimitri... always Dimitri. Now, it was Mason. It was always Mason. He littered my every thought, never once letting me forget his absence and claw together the gaping hole in my heart where one of my best friends used to reside. His memory caused my agonising guilt and it was hard to think of anything else. Every corner gave a new memory... I'd never realised it until he was gone, but part of St. Vladimir's was Mason... my every happy memory of school had him in the edges, laughing and fighting with me.

"Oh, Rose," Lissa wrapped her arms around me.

I felt sadness and pain and guilt welling up in me. I pushed it away and focussed on nothing. I didn't want to feel anything. It just hurt too much. Within moments, I was back to being emotionless and empty. I was back to the Rose Robot.

"I'm fine, Liss," my voice was cold and emotionless.

Lissa pulled back, "No. You're not. But you will be."

"What's that supposed to mean?" my current state didn't allow me to feel any surprise, but I knew it was the reaction she expected.

"It's obvious you can't recover here, so we're leaving," Lissa stated it like it was the most obvious thing in the world.

"What?" I asked.

"Rose, we're running away."

EPOV

I sat on my bed with my two best friends, Bonnie and Caroline, munching on snacks. After everything that had happened, it felt good to be hanging out like old times, before Katherine, before vampires and witches, and yeah... before Stefan. After everything had gone so wrong at the Masquerade party, it felt good to just have fun. I tried not to focus on the bad- Katherine's escape and instead focus on the good- getting back together with Stefan.

"I have the best idea!" Caroline suddenly squealed.

Bonnie eyed her warily, almost as if she knew what was coming.

"Let's have a séance!" Caroline cried.

I frowned, "After what happened last time?"

Caroline rolled her eyes, "Duh! Emily's gone now! And the witches might know where Katherine is!"

I stiffened at the name. Katherine might have been distantly related to me, but she was, in no way, a friend. I had every right to fear her.

"Caroline, I'm not really comfortable..." Bonnie began.

Caroline cut in, "Come on. If we're going to rely on my powers, I might as well start munching on necks!"

Both Bonnie and I winced at her words. I knew Caroline wouldn't budge on this and suspected Bonnie knew this too, because the next thing I knew, we were gathered around a candle with our eyes closed.

Bonnie reluctantly muttered something in witch-language. I opened my eyes slightly. Suddenly the light s flickered off and the flame grew higher. I could almost hear the whispers of the spirits around her. Chills ran up and down my spine.

"Change is coming. Something will be destroyed. And, whatever is coming will be affected as well," she said.

Suddenly, the candle went out. Both Caroline and I yelped, even though she could see in the dark. The candle reignited and I relaxed.

I looked at Caroline and Bonnie.

"What does that mean?"

"Let's just go to sleep. I'm probably wrong. It's just a feeling!" Bonnie lied obviously.

"Yeah, it must be wrong," Caroline agreed half-heartedly.

I nodded absentmindedly, my mind on her words. Something will be destroyed... change is coming.