Previously on Rewriting History . . . Damon, Ric, and Elena rescued Stefan and Rebecca.

Chapter Forty-Two

When Rebecca woke up she felt completely . . . off. For a few moments she couldn't even open her eyes; it felt as if they were glued shut. Her body felt heavy and she could barely move. Which was just stupid, because she could usually move however she wanted, and no one could say she was too heavy a girl.

Then she remembered. Oh, God, I'm . . . I was kidnapped. I'm with Fredrick and the others. Me, Stefan, Harper, and Chelsea. Oh, God.

That got her moving and it caused her to open her mouth to cry out in pain. Her wrist, her ribs, her . . . her whole body was screaming at her for moving so fast. Oh, God, she was really hurt, and she was trapped, and -

Someone grabbed her by the shoulders but she still had her eyes closed and she refused to open them because she knew she'd see red eyes and fangs and she was going to be hurt again.

"Becca, open your eyes," a soft, familiar voice said. "You're safe."

Safe? She peeked through one eyelid and felt relief so strong it was painful. She was safe because Damon was in front of her. With blue eyes, not red, and blunt human teeth, not fangs. She was . . . in the hospital, not at the house with Fredrick and -

Fredrick is dead, she remembered. Stefan killed him.

Everything that had happened to her flashed through her mind and she looked around the room. Along with Damon, there was Elena, Jeremy, and her dad. He looked like he'd just gotten there - he was the one that was the least rumpled.

There was only a split second of warning - throat and eyes burning - before she burst into tears. Not because she was scared or hurt but because she was safe. After everything, it was almost impossible to believe. At the point of her becoming a vampire-feast she'd thought she was going to die.

Elena got to her before anyone else, aside from Damon of course, but since Elena was a girl he let her be the one to hold Rebecca first.

"This might be a bad time to say it, but happy birthday," Jeremy said softly, taking his turn in comforting her.

Rebecca let out a sobbing laugh when she realized it was indeed her birthday. She wouldn't have remembered had Jeremy not said anything. He'd spoken lightly and as a joke, and she appreciated him not asking her how she was. She really didn't want to talk about it right now.

"I so want a party when I get better," she said, only half-joking.

Damon let a small smile grace his lips. There's my girl, he thought. And he knew then that she would eventually be okay. If she could talk about a party and be at least a little serious about it, there was no way she was too traumatized to be herself. They could probably even have a double party. Rebecca's birthday was in January and so was Chelsea's.

Rebecca, however, was thinking about what Fredrick had told her about her being drugged. That Diana had done it - on purpose - to put her through a test. Had that been the test? Putting her in a house full of starving, angry vampires? If it was, that was stupid. She was lucky to be alive.

Her anger stopped her tears, and she glanced at Damon. She couldn't tell him yet; he would kill Diana for doing this to her - she knew he would. And Rebecca didn't want Diana dead no matter what she'd done.

Elena broke through Rebecca's thoughts by hugging her again. She grimaced because her ribs hurt even more now from her outburst. She heard Elena say, "I'm so glad you're awake," before letting go.

Her dad went to talk to the doctor, and Elena, Jeremy, and Damon were left with her. Neither Elena nor Damon knew that Jeremy knew about vampires, but Rebecca could see a small fury burning in Jeremy's brown eyes. He knew what had happened, or the gist of it anyway.

Elena and Jeremy left shortly after that, but Jeremy promised to come back later that day. Then it was just she and Damon. He sat beside her on the bed.

"How're you feeling?"

"Uh . . . like a truck ran me over and like I got eaten by a bear."

"That's one way to put it," he said softly.

"I got out alive, so it can't be too bad, yeah?"

"Are you being for real? Because I know all about pretending to be okay when you're not."

"I'm okay," she said. "Really. I'm safe, like you said. When I woke up everything just came back to me all at once, that's all."

"Ah." He kissed her once on the forehead and then said, "Your dad's coming back. I won't leave the hospital, but I'm gonna give him time with you."

Rebecca nodded. She'd known already that Damon wouldn't leave. Not now while she was still hurt and weak. And not while some of the tombed vampires were still out there.

"Wait." She grabbed his arm. "Uh . . . Is Stefan gonna be okay? I know, uh . . . with what happened with Elena . . ."

"He says he's fine, but I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop. There's no way he's okay. He's been off the human stuff for too long."

"It's going to be bad then, isn't it? And I'm stuck in a hospital." She sighed and then looked at Damon, more serious than she'd ever been. "Is Chelsea okay?"

"She's at home with Tina. Do you want me to bring her here?"

"Not today. Tomorrow maybe. When I'm stronger."

A chill went through her because of what Damon had said about Stefan. Last time she'd been around Stefan when he was on the human stuff, as Damon had put it, Stefan had wanted her blood for the simple fact that she tasted good - better than other humans. Back then she'd thought it had been because she'd been with Damon and had willingly late him feed from her, but now she was sure it was just because of her blood.

True to his word, Damon didn't leave the hospital. It wasn't just the tomb vampires he was worried about now; Stefan was on his mind too. Stefan could cause even more damage than Damon when he put his mind to it. He'd been around for almost all of Stefan's relapses. Some where worse than others and some lasted longer than others, but . . . and there was a but . . . Stefan hadn't had Elena for those other benders, either. Stefan was what other vampires called a ripper. All the bad parts of being a vampire. Violence, blood-lust, alimalistic instincts. Damon knew he had those parts too, and yeah, he had let them out a lot over the last 145 years, but Stefan . . . Stefan couldn't stop once he started. He would kill and then feel bad about it, and so on and so forth until it drove him crazy.

Damon was trying to keep the town off the trail of vampires, so now was not a good time to have Stefan going off the deep end.

A blond girl with balloons came in and Damon immediately recognized her as Caroline Forbes.

"Is she awake?" the blond asked cautiously. He understood why - he had treated Caroline very badly. He could not apologize for it, though, because . . . well, her name was not Rebecca and so it was pretty much physically impossible for him to do so. That was his story and he was sticking to it.

"Yes. She'll be happy to see you."

Caroline nodded and was about to turn around when Damon grabbed her arm. All of a sudden she looked smaller and more vulnerable. He knew it was a reaction to him and he felt a little guilty.

"Don't mention Vicki. She doesn't know yet. I didn't think that was the best thing for her to wake up to."

"Hm. And you care. That's new."

Damon didn't snap at that; he knew he deserved it. And, for all intents and purposes, he hadn't cared when he'd been with Caroline Forbes. He'd wanted Rebecca back and that was all he'd wanted at that time.

"Look . . . you have every reason to hate me, I know. I was . . . I was a jerk to you, so don't do it for me. Do it for her." And that was as close to him apologizing as he was going to get. He'd admitted he'd been wrong, so . . . now it was up to her.

Caroline looked at him oddly and he understood that too. He wasn't acting like himself. But he didn't want to cause a scene by ripping her necklace off her in the hospital.

"She wants a party when she gets better. Plan one for her?"

Blondie only had to consider for a second - parties were her thing; she liked planning things like that. Damon blamed it on her control freak attitude.

"For her," she said pointedly. Then . . . "I don't know what happened to her or why, but I do know that you helped save her, so . . . thank you. For getting her back."

With that, Caroline turned around and walked away with the balloons.

Rebecca was surprised when Caroline showed up with red and blue balloons, each of which had "Happy Birthday" on them. The blond had two cards - one was a birthday card, the other, a "Get Well Soon" card.

Due to the recent drama Rebecca felt tears prick behind her eyes. Usually that gesture wouldn't have bothered her, but now . . .

She loved Caroline.

Caroline hugged her gently and Rebecca returned the gesture. She could tell something was wrong, though, because Caroline wasn't her usual gushing, bubbly self. But Rebecca didn't ask. There was nothing she could do about it while she was in the hospital and she didn't need anything else to worry about.

"I'm glad you came. I didn't even know if you knew I was in here."

"Elena called last night. She told me they gave you something to make you sleep. I didn't wanna risk waking you up."

"Oh. Yeah, I just woke up not too long ago."

Rebecca noticed her dad watching her and Caroline and then he excused himself, wanting to give Caroline and Rebecca some privacy.

Caroline told Rebecca that she'd gotten lost on "Some random backwoods path to hell" yesterday near the ravine. That was a place near the Falls. The storm had washed out Route 5, and she'd gotten stuck in the mud when she'd tried taking a back road. Caroline had been going to see her father for his boyfriend's daughter's birthday party. A nontraditional tradition for Caroline. That was how she'd gotten lost.

"Leave it to you to do something like that," Rebecca said fondly. Rebecca loved that Caroline had normal problems, not like everyone else she knew.

Caroline smiled softly but a little sadly. Something was wrong; Rebecca was acutely aware of that, but again she didn't ask. Caroline stayed until Jeremy came in, and then Caroline obviously sensed something was unfinished between them and she left.

"Hey," he said as he pulled a chair to her bed.

"Hey. I thought you were leaving with Elena."

"I didn't. Who did this to?" Jeremy's voice was serious and concerned. He wanted to talk to her about this now since he hadn't been able to before.

Rebecca explained to the best of her ability what had happened. She made it clear that Anna hadn't had any part of what the others had planned. Then, too late, she realized Jeremy didn't know about the tomb vampires. That led to a whole other discussion, which led to another and another, and she realized she probably wasn't even saying it right. Effects of the drugs they'd used to keep her asleep, she figured. And Jeremy didn't even know about the Slayer bit. This wouldn't make much sense without that little piece. Or a bunch of other little pieces. Some she couldn't tell him because . . . well, some of her secrets weren't actually hers to tell; they belonged to other people and she wouldn't share them without permission.

So when she asked him to hold the questions for another day he quickly obliged. He stayed until her dad came back. Her dad wasn't surprised to see Jeremy there, so Rebecca assumed Jeremy had talked to him before coming in.

Rebecca got her IV taken out that day and was allowed to walk around as long as she didn't overdo it. She was happy to find that Damon had some of her clothes, which she was allowed to wear as long as they didn't irritate her wounds.

Even though her dad was there, she wanted Damon to be the one to help her. She hated everyone seeing how weak she was, but it couldn't be helped. She needed someone there so she wouldn't fall and injure herself further.

Tina had showed up with Chelsea, which helped Rebecca relax. Having her sister there was a normal thing - though Chelsea didn't understand why Rebecca wasn't strong enough to play with her or hold her or change her. Tina seemed to get that Damon was Rebecca's caretaker for the evening and she didn't fuss. Her dad seemed to be happy she was up moving around but resentful that Damon was the one helping her. And yet he was grateful, too. Damon had saved her, gotten her out of her very terrible situation.

Rebecca had had to have stitches for the bites on her thighs and it hurt to walk. Whenever Damon even looked in that direction she saw fury flash in his eyes. Damon didn't complain about having to take care of her. Actually, he made it seem like it was the least he could do. She had almost been killed and, even though Damon wasn't expressing it outwardly, she knew he wouldn't have lasted long without her. Damon loved her with everything he was, even if he did have a hard time saying it sometimes. It would've destroyed him to lose her.

So if Damon felt better staying by her side, if it made him happier being there seeing for himself that she was okay . . . she wouldn't take that away from him. And she wouldn't mention it either. It would alert him to what he was doing and he would probably stop.

By that night she was already ready to go home. The doctor, however, wouldn't release her - his reasoning was she'd been through something traumatic. She'd almost been killed. He wanted to assure she would keep resting until it was healthy for her to resume her normal activities.

Once Robert, Tina and Chelsea had left - and they had at her insistence - she asked Damon to get her out, but he wouldn't compel the doctor to release her.

"Why not?" Rebecca asked, and she actually felt her lower lip jut out.

Damon didn't even blink. He did seem amused, though. "You can't even move by yourself. I'm not making him let you out. The world won't end if you take a day off, I promise."

That night was when Damon told Rebecca about Vicki - he didn't want someone else to tell her, and she needed to know before she got out of the hospital. Hence, telling her now. He didn't get much of a reaction except that she wanted to call Matt and see how he was doing.

Damon left her to it and went out to get some fresh air. God, he was hungry. He hadn't fed since before he'd found out that Rebecca and Stefan had gone missing. More than twenty-four hours. If he waited much longer he was going to become very cranky.

While outside, he noticed Diana and some old guy was getting out of a car. True, he had never met Diana, but he'd seen her once or twice. He'd been curious about Rebecca's training and had followed her a few times. So, yeah, he knew Diana; he didn't know the guy. They were obviously here to see Rebecca though. Relieve her of her duty? See if she was okay? Give her a week off?

Whatever it was, Damon hoped it wasn't bad. Rebecca didn't need anymore bad news.

Inside the hospital, Rebecca got done talking to Matt almost as soon as he answered. She found she couldn't say much besides "I'm Sorry." She'd realized her mistake in calling Matt when she realized she didn't know what to say. How did she have the right to say anything when she had known where Vicki was all this time and hadn't told him, just to put him out of his misery, at least, but . . . she'd had to make sure he was okay. Matt was a pretty stable person - he'd get by. And Rebecca felt sorry for Mrs. Donovan even though she couldn't stand the woman. Kelly would just use this as an excuse to become even more of an alcoholic than she already was. Rebecca's call would've been cut short, anyway, by Diana coming in the room. She was with another guy. He looked . . . snooty. Snooty and uptight, and he was obviously a Watcher, or he was associated with the Watcher's Council in some way. Which meant they were both in on drugging her.

Must be the Cruciamentum. You can thank your Watcher for that. See what happens is . . . if the Slayer makes it to her eighteenth birthday, she gets put through a test. She has to face a vampire without her strength. If she wins, she passes. If she fails, however, she dies and the next Slayer is chosen.

"Rebecca?" Diana's voice was soft and regretful. Rebecca could tell she really was sorry for what had happened. It didn't change the fact that it had and that Rebecca was pissed because of it.

"Happy birthday to me," Rebecca said bitterly. "I guess I passed your little test."

"That was not to be your test," the old man said, stepping forward. "Forgive me. We haven't been properly introduced. I'm Quentin Travers. Director of the Watcher's Council."

"Ah, part of the plot to drug me and have me killed?"

Quentin, with his gray hair - what, was he in his sixties? - spoke again. He was so obviously the superior. "What happened to you was an unfortunate coincidence. One that you are responsible for, I believe. You helped free the vampires from their . . . prison."

Rebecca looked at Diana. She must've known somehow and then reported back to Quentin like a good little Watcher.

"Oh, yes. Diana has made sure to follow your every move. And . . . if her information is correct . . . you're not killing vampires, you're seeing one romantically. Damon Salvatore, is it?"

Rebecca set her jaw and refused to speak. She wouldn't say anything incriminating.

"I made it to my eighteenth birthday. Do I pass?" she asked, when she chose to speak again.

"Traditionally speaking - "

"I'm not much for tradition," she interrupted. "You can go back to the Mother Country now, Mr. Travers. I have no use for you here. And I would like to speak to Diana alone."

And so the old man left. Rebecca vaguely wondered if Damon had heard any of what had just occurred. If he had . . . Quentin would be dead before the night was through, and Rebecca really couldn't bring herself to care.

"I'm sorry. The . . . the test is old and cruel, and I'm sorry I didn't tell you."

"You're a good Watcher, Diana," Rebecca said honestly. "But you're a lousy human being."

Diana knew she deserved that, it looked like. "If there's anything I can do . . ."

"Leave. Now. And never come back."


"I refuse to train with someone I don't trust. So go and don't come back. I want you gone by the time I get out of here. That's when I plan on telling Damon, and if you're still in town when he finds out, he will kill you. What you did almost got me killed, and Damon doesn't forgive easily. But then you already know that, right?"

"Yes," Diana whispered. "Yet you're giving me a warning."

"You mean after everything you did? I don't wish death on anyone, Diana. I warned you and now what you do with it is up to you."

Rebecca shut her eyes and turned from Diana so the woman wouldn't see the tears in her eyes. She'd been hurt by Diana's betrayal - the woman had poisoned her. But she also felt as if a small weight had been lifted from her shoulders. Rebecca was still the Slayer, but she was no longer bound by the Council or her Watcher. She was a free agent.

"I'm free, I'm free!" Rebecca rejoiced, two days later, as her dad walked with her to the exit of the hospital. It was humiliating to have to be escorted out in a wheelchair, but it was hospital policy.

Tina and Robert were happy too. She was okay enough to be released. They planned on keeping her home for the rest of her natural life, but she was feeling better. That was what mattered.

She hadn't been able to go to Vicki's funeral but she knew Elena had helped Matt and his mom plan it. She was assuming Vicki had been cremated because there was no way Matt or his mom would've been able to see Vicki's body. Vicki had died while her vampire face had been in full affect.

Caroline had been helping with the cooking and things, she had probably driven Matt's mom crazy.

Bonnie hadn't come back yet, but Elena had told Rebecca that she'd told Bonnie about the tomb vampires getting free and kidnapping her and Stefan. Rebecca agreed that honesty was the best policy, but she wished Bonnie hadn't had to find out over the phone. It didn't feel right.

During Rebeca's stay in the hospital she'd been visited by Anna, who had apologized for what had happened, and Rebecca had accepted it readily enough. Rebecca knew it wasn't Anna's fault, nor was it Pearl's. Anna had brought Rebecca's cell phone back, which Rebecca hadn't even known had been missing until Anna handed it over.

Sarah had even come with Damon once. He'd grudgingly brought the girl to shut her up. They had had to come at night, of course, but . . . she had still insisted on coming. Stefan had come with them and he looked deeply unwell. He obviously hadn't healed up as well as she had. She felt bad for him, but she didn't know what to say to him about it, so she chose to say nothing at all.

She hadn't heard from Chase at all and she figured that had a lot to do with Damon. Whatever the reason, she was thankful because she couldn't have put up with seeing Chase when she was this vulnerable. She might've actually gotten scared - because he did scare her; she knew he was capable of hurting her on purpose.

The day Rebecca got out of the hospital was the day the other shoe dropped, like Damon had expected it to. He'd talked to Tina and she'd said Rebecca was just going to rest for the day. Damon thought that was the best thing for her. He even joked that they would be back in the hospital soon because they'd have to make frequent trips for Tina's baby - ultrasounds and such. The woman's laughter made him smile - she'd been way too tense the past few days. It wasn't good for her or the baby.

Not that I . . . care, Damon thought, not convincingly.

He didn't know whether Tina was going to have a girl or a boy, and at this stage she probably didn't either. She wanted to be surprised, which he didn't understand because how was she going to plan everything if she didn't know the sex of the child. Hopefully she didn't buy all yellow things; that would be boring. Then he stopped himself from thinking about that because, who cared? It was not his baby, so . . . yeah.

It was as he was thinking those things, and also thinking that he never would've thought about those things before Rebecca - that he stopped mid-step because he smelled blood. It was coming from Stefan's room, but it wasn't Stefan's blood. It wasn't anyone's that Damon knew, either.

Uh-oh, was his first thought. He entered the room and saw Stefan huddled in the corner, holding a blood bag. He was leaning over it almost protectively, like he thought Damon might try and take it away from him. He looked like a starved animal - which if Damon looked at it in a "not having what you crave" standpoint . . . Stefan was starved. There was also a look of self-loathing, like he hated himself for not being strong enough to resist. But Damon knew what was wrong. Elena's blood had awakened a craving in Stefan that had been denied for too long. The moment Stefan had swallowed Elena's blood - Elena's gift to him, to keep him alive - Stefan had been lost.

"Well, I guess you're giving the squirrels a break now, huh?"

That had been the day Rebecca had been released from the hospital; this was the next day. And music was filling the boardinghouse and keeping Damon on edge, as well as the newest vampire. Sarah was looking like she was about to go bananas. Damon was in the middle of pouring them both a little blood from a blood bag when he thought maybe . . . Stefan might drink some too. Really, it was the best thing for his brother; Stefan couldn't learn to control himself if he didn't try.

So Damon went to Stefan's room, the source of all the noise, and saw Stefan was doing some rigorous exercise routine. Trying to distract himself, maybe?

"Could you turn it up a little bit? It's not annoying yet."


Damon turned the music off and asked, "When're you going back to school?"

"Soon." Stefan began doing pushups, pointedly ignoring the glass of blood in Damon's hand.

"Oh, come on, just drink already."

Stefan had been trying to pretend like his little incident hadn't happened. Three blood bags and then nothing. He hadn't fed since.

"Come on, this self-detox, it's not natural."

"Could you get that away from me, please?"

"How long did it take you to wean yourself off of it after you last indulged?" Stefan didn't answer. "That's not good."

"I'll be fine. It just take a little bit of time."

"I don't get it. You don't have to kill to survive. You know, that's what blood banks are for. I haven't hunted a human in - God, way too long."

"Oh, I'm impressed."

"It's completely self-serving," Damon admitted. "I'm trying to get the town off the trail of vampires, which is not very easy considering there's an entire tomb of them running around."

"What are we planning on doing about that?" Stefan asked, now focused on the problem at hand. Another distraction.

"You're not gonna be doing much of anything if you don't have your strength. There's nothing wrong in partaking in a healthy diet of human blood from a blood bank. You're not actually killing anyone."

"I have my reasons," Stefan said.

"What are those holier-than-thou reasons? We've never really discussed that." Damon sat down in a chair, waiting. "You know, I-I'd really love to hear this story."

"You're really enjoying this, aren't you? Just, uh, watching me struggle."

"Very much so." Damon was only enjoying it because Stefan brought most of his misery - in this respect - on himself.

"I hate to break it to you, Damon, but I actually have it under complete control."

"You do?"


"Oh. Well, then you should just carry on making the rest of us vampires look bad."

As long as Stefan didn't cause trouble - he couldn't believe he was thinking that because he was the troublemaker - he wasn't going to force his help on Stefan. He left the room. deliberately leaving the blood behind; it was a test of Stefan's restraint. He didn't hear Stefan move, so he rushed back in and grabbed the glass, feigning forgetfulness.

Then he left Stefan to his cravings; they had to be killing him.

That same day Rebecca went to have lunch with Elena at the school; she was sitting with Matt. Rebecca was surprised he was back in school so soon. She gave him a hug and apologized for not being able to be with him during everything that had happened since Vicki had been found.

"Uh, I think you've had problems of your own to deal with. How're you doing?"

"I'm okay." Rebecca knew that the story for the town was that she'd been kidnapped by regular people since the town didn't know about vampires, and that she'd escaped, not unscathed, with a little help from Damon. "I'm still a little sore, but I'll be fine."

Rebecca sat down beside Elena and slumped against the table. She still got tired easily; she hadn't even been able to take a shower earlier without losing her breath. Eventually she'd given up and called Tina in to help her. Tina had washed her hair for her; it hurt to lift her arms above her head because of her ribs being bruised.

"So guess who showed up at my doorstep this morning," Elena said. "Uncle John."

"I never really liked that guy," Matt remarked.

"Does anyone?" Elena asked.

John was Grayson Gilbert's brother. Elena didn't like him, Jeremy only tolerated him, Jenna couldn't stand him. Rebecca . . . well, she didn't have to live with the man, so she withheld her opinion, but she thought he was as slippery as a weasel.

"How long is he staying?" Rebecca asked.

"He said his stay is open-ended."

"What does he want?" John always had an agenda; he usually wasn't crafty about it.

"I don't know. He just showed up. Jenna said he called to say he was coming, but I didn't know he was."

"I'm here for moral support if you need me," Matt said.

"Thanks. But I think I'll suffer this one alone. You've been through enough."

Matt nodded and his deep blue eyes softened. "Thank you, by the way, for just . . . For everything you did at Vicki's funeral and her memorial. I couldn't have done it without you."

"Of course, Matt," Elena said sincerely. "So, is Caroline still baking for you guys around the clock?"

"She finally went to her dad's, which was a good thing because my mom was gonna strangle her if she dropped off more lasagna."

Rebecca laughed. She could imagine Caroline being overly helpful. She would mean well, of course, but Caroline sometimes lacked the button that told her when to back off. Sometimes it was endearing; at other times it was obnoxious.

After Rebecca was through talking to Matt and Elena she went in search of Jeremy. She hadn't seen him since the day he'd visited her in the hospital. She found him hanging at a picnic table with an ear bud shoved in his ear. When she sat down he removed it.

"Hey, you're up running around, I see," he said.

"Yeah. I got bored at home." She grabbed his hand and squeezed. "I heard about Vicki. I wanted to talk to you sooner, but, uh, my dad had me under house arrest . . . How're you doing?"

"Been better," he said honestly.

"Right. Um . . . would it make you feel better if I told you the truth today? Or do you wanna wait? It's completely up to you."

Before Jeremy could answer, Tyler sat down and offered both of them a joint. Jeremy shook his head, but Rebecca was sorely tempted. She'd never experienced a marijuana high before, but she had to drive home so she refused. Plus, she needed to stay sharp and pot totally went against that.

Things were quiet for a second, and then Tyler said, "They say she OD'd."

Tyler wanted to talk about Vicki? He and Jeremy had her in common, so it made sense Tyler would talk to him about her.

"That's what I don't get. She was doin' okay," Jeremy said.

"Apparently not," Tyler said, not unkindly. Rebecca wondered if this was Tyler's idea of bonding.

"How'd she end up buried in the woods, that's what I don't understand."

"By whoever was with her when she OD'd," Tyler said.

"You leave her there. You don't take the time to bury her."

"Maybe she saw something and . . . Hell, man, I don't know."

Rebecca stayed silent throughout the conversation because she knew if she spoke she would give herself away and she couldn't have that happening, not with Tyler around.

"Okay, so . . . I've gotta go, but, uh . . . Jer, call if you wanna talk, okay? And, Tyler, I know you cared about her and I'm sorry." Tyler hadn't shown that he cared about Vicki very well, but he had cared about her nonetheless.

Tyler nodded and she walked away. She had her dad's car again and, when she got to the parking lot, she had to sit there a while to catch her breath just from walking across campus. She maybe should've not chosen that day to become active again.

Her phone vibrated in her pocket and she drew it out.


"Hi," Damon said. "You sound out of breath. Thinkin' about me?"

She giggled, the tension from the past half-hour drifting away quickly. She loved that he could do that without even trying.

"Not right now. I, um, I was visiting Elena and Jeremy at school. Hadn't seen them for a while. Did you need something?

"Yeah, are you coming over? We need to . . . talk."

"Uh-oh. This doesn't sound good. But I need to talk to you, too."

"Bad news?"

"Depends on how you look at it. Be there shortly."

So when she got there she went in without knocking. She was not in the mood to go searching for Damon, so she waited for him to come to her. He appeared behind her. She bit her lip and turned around.

"Hi," she said, smiling.

"Hi," he repeated back, a smile also gracing his mouth.

Damon kissed her tenderly and she almost forgot she was there for a reason. She had to admit, though, that she had missed this.

"Uh . . . talking, remember? That's what we're here for."

"Mm, but this is much more fun."

"It is, but . . . what I have to say is important. I am no longer bound by the Watcher's Council. I quit. Or I was fired. Point is I no longer work for them. I'm still . . . ya know, the Slayer, but I sent Diana away. She won't be coming back. Unless she's stupid."

"Why? What happened?"

"She almost got me killed. It wasn't Chase who drugged me, Damon. It was Diana."

She told him how she found out about the Cruciamentum from Fredrick, and how she'd had the theory confirmed by Diana herself. She also told him how she'd given Diana time to leave because she knew Damon would be pissed. And he was. His eyes said it all; he usually looked a little deranged when he was mad enough to kill. She feared for whoever he took his anger out on.

"Um . . . what did you want?" she asked him, since he had called her.

Damon shook his head, obviously putting his anger in the back of his mind for now. "John Gilbert. What do you know about him?"

"Elena's uncle, her father's brother, and he's here. Pretty much it."

"Huh." Damon grabbed her hand and led her out the front door that she had just come out of. "Do you like him?"

"Nobody likes him. Why?"

Damon nodded toward the garage off to the side of the house. "Come walk with me. We can take a ride."

"O . . . kay. You're not kidnapping me for the day, are you?"

"As fun as that sounds, no. Anyway, I had a meeting with the council today, and he was there. He said someone's been stealing blood from a hospital near here. It's not me, so . . ."

"The vampires from the tomb," Rebecca deduced. "Well, if that's all they're doing, that's not -"

"A few people have gone missing, too. He thinks it's connected."

"Oh. And we're going to believe him?"

Damon shrugged. "Liz is checking it out. She doesn't like him either. Says he's a jackass."

"Yup. Pretty much how I'd describe him. Uh . . . Jeremy wants to see me later, so I could have dinner at his house, spy or whatever."

"See if he's up to something, yeah."

Damon stopped in front of the garage door and bent down to lift the sliding door up. He had a surprise for Rebecca, but he knew she wouldn't accept it right away. Not unless he appealed to her common sense.

"Okay, so don't get angry and don't say no before you think about it hard. But . . . you know how we talked about you getting a car . . ."

Rebecca narrowed her eyes and looked at him suspiciously. "Yes . . ."

"Well . . ." Damon moved out of her way and knew what she would see. A black - jet black - 1969 Dodge Charger. He had spent the last week trying to figure out what kind of car to get her and he went with a classic because of the huge factor of the older cars being made better than the newer ones.

"Oh . . . Damon . . . this is . . . This is an amazingly expensive car!" Rebecca almost shrieked. "Tell me you didn't trade in your car for this."

"Of course I didn't trade my car in, but I did get this for you. You need a car. You can't use your dad's forever. Besides it's your birthday present." So Rebecca wouldn't have time to protest, he changed the subject. "So, the Slayer thing. What does it mean that you quit? You go back to being a normal human now?"

"No," she said, smiling. "I keep my strength and all, but I . . . I can do what I want now. I can do it my way."

"Oh, vampires of the world beware," he quipped, and laughed when she tapped him on the chest. "Was that supposed to hurt?"

"Shut up. I don't have my strength back yet."

He pulled her to him and smirked, "Well, once you do . . . I am going to take full advantage of that fact."

Her cheeks flushed and he chuckled. How could she be so brazen yet so bashful at the same time? Youth maybe?

"So, the Founder's Day kickoff party is tomorrow. Do you feel like going?"

"Yeah, sure. Just no strenuous dancing." She eyed the Charger again. "Now, about this car . . . How about we take it for a test drive?"

Damon grinned, glad she was accepting the gift, and pulled the keys out of his jeans pocket. She caught them easily when he tossed them to her.

"Okay, I love this car," Rebecca said, though she was still a bit hesitant about accepting such an expensive gift even if it was from Damon. "Was money spent on this? Or did you compel someone?"

"Cash," Damon answered. "Stop obsessing and accept it gracefully."

Rebecca wanted to accept it gracefully, but she'd never been given a gift that cost as much as a car before. It was kind of hard to just take it.

"You paid straight out cash for this?"

"I've been around a long time, remember? I've been able to cash in on pretty much anything I thought was worth while. Microsoft, for one. Bought stock in that the minute I knew it was going to change the world."

"Wow, smart and handsome . . . lethal combination, Mr. Salvatore."

They were on an old country road now. A back road that would only hold one lane only; if two cars happened to be going opposite directions, one had to pull over to let the other one by. Rebecca felt free driving fast and kind of recklessly, but that was what these kinds of cars were built for, she thought. They didn't go far, though, thirty miles or so, before turning back around.

Rebecca didn't know how to say thank you for the car. A simple "Thank you" wouldn't be enough, would it? She did need a car, but when Damon had brought it up before, she hadn't know he was going to get her this type of car. And where was she going to keep it? She was going to have to tell everyone where she got it when they asked, and normal boyfriends didn't just up and buy their girlfriend of . . . five months . . . a car, she didn't think.

Nonetheless, she wouldn't complain about it. Damon had done this for her, gotten it for her, because she needed a vehicle. It was still hard to just accept it, though.

Later that night, Rebecca found herself sitting with Jeremy and John at the kitchen table, eating Chinese food. Jenna was behind the counter, avoiding contact with John.

"I have no interest in the Founder's Day kickoff party."

The kickoff party was the beginning of a myriad of other events that eventually led to the Founder's Day parade. They were the same old parties every year, but most of the Founder's people enjoyed them.

"Sure you do," John said to Jeremy. "It's tradition."

"Far be it for us to break tradition," Jenna muttered.

"The Gilberts have been a part of this town for a hundred and fifty years. One of the founding families, and with that distinction come certain obligations, including going to the party."

Jeremy, Jenna, and Rebecca rolled their eyes.

"One day, when you can appreciate the significance . . . I'll tell you all about your heritage."

"Hm. The Gilbert family legacy. I forgot how sacred it was," Jenna said. "I'm not a Gilbert, so I was never cool enough to hear it."

"Why does she hate you?" Jeremy asked John.

"Because we used to sleep together."

Jenna threw something at John - an egg-roll package, maybe - and Rebecca almost choked on a bite of rice.

"I am standing right here!" Jenna seethed.

While Jeremy and the others were finishing eating Rebecca went upstairs. Elena and Stefan were in Elena's room. She'd had every intention of knocking, but she heard the sound of glass breaking so she hurried into the room. Elena was on the bed, looking shocked; Stefan was on the floor looking . . . hungry. He'd knocked over some stuff, including a lamp.

"Stefan?" she said, and his head jerked toward her like a startled animal. She checked Elena over briefly but found she hadn't been harmed, so she looked at Stefan again. He looked calmer.

"I'm okay," he said, getting up now. "I, uh, I gotta go."

So he did leave, and Rebecca looked after him until she couldn't see him anymore. Then she focused on Elena, who was still breathing heavily in shock.

"What happened? Did he hurt you?"

Elena shook her head and when she spoke her voice was quavering. "He didn't. We were kissing and then he just sort of . . . lost it."

Rebecca nodded. She'd figured it was something like that. "It's the human blood. He, uh . . . doesn't do well when he drinks human blood. If he's trying to go back to animal blood, it's going to make him volatile for a while."

"For how long?" Elena asked.

"I don't know. I'm not an expert," Rebecca said. "But it was only a little bit of blood, so it shouldn't take too long. Just be careful, okay? You've never been around him when he's on the human stuff. Once he starts, he doesn't know how to stop."

Elena's eyes narrowed. "What d'you mean?"

"I mean . . . Damon can stop when he wants to. Stefan can't. Stefan has taken out an entire village by himself one time."

Elena closed her eyes against the information and Rebecca felt sorry for being the one to tell her. Stefan should've been the one, but Stefan wouldn't incriminate himself. Rebecca remembered that she'd told Stefan once that she would never tell Elena this because it wasn't her place, but since he wasn't going to tell Elena then . . . someone had to. Elena had the right to know.

Damon was a vampire and he sometimes killed people, but at least he was up front about it with her. That was part of the reason Rebecca loved him. He was who he was and that was all there was to it.

"You know, Elena . . . the vampire inside Stefan is there all the time. It's real. The human facade he uses . . . is a mask. The animal blood makes him feel more human, more stable. It's a choice he made and I respect it . . . but I've never forgotten what he is. Until he gets better, you shouldn't either."

Rebecca took Jeremy home with her so they could talk. It had been a long time coming. It had killed her not to bring Elena with her since Stefan had almost attacked Elena, but that would've been counterproductive; she couldn't talk to Jeremy with Elena there.

The two ended up in Rebecca's room and she told him about her Slayerness, her training, and how Diana had betrayed her. Really, without those details she couldn't have told him everything else. Her being a Slayer had started everything that had happened in her life for the past few months.

"I never trusted Diana, but it still hurt."

"I bet." Jeremy smiled softly. "I wondered why you weren't around as much, but now I know. You're like a superhero."

"You're pretty much the only one who feels that way," she said. Even she didn't feel that way. She sympathized with vampires too much and let them get away with things she probably shouldn't.

"Wait. Who all knows?"

Rebecca bit her lip and grinned. "Swear you to secrecy?"

"Of course," was Jeremy's immediate response.


She told him about Bonnie being a witch - because part of her story had to do with witchcraft, to a certain degree. She even went into how Bonnie's Grams had died trying to reseal the tomb. Then, of course, she had to tell him about the tomb vampires. She even told him about Damon and Stefan, and only felt a small amount of guilt in doing so, but . . .

"Okay, that's something you can't share with anyone because if Damon finds out that you know and he thinks you're a threat he will probably kill you." And, since she was the one telling Jeremy, it would be her fault if Jeremy betrayed their secret.

Jeremy seemed to take that in stride. "Death threat aside, I would never tell anyone. I don't know Damon very well, but I do know you, and I wouldn't betray you like that." It was like he'd known exactly what to say. And then something seemed to click for him. "Wait . . . Stefan is a vampire? Elena is dating a vampire? Does she know?"

Rebecca nodded. "She's known for a few months. She didn't tell you because she didn't want you getting caught up in all of this. But I think it's safer for you to know. If you were my brother, I would've told you from the start."

There was a short silence and then . . . "How did you figure out Anna was a vampire?"

Rebecca had been wondering that since the night it had happened.

"A bunch of stuff, but mostly because I saw her face change. The night of the party by the cemetery . . . she tried to hide it, but I saw it anyway. And there was also a small thing at the dance at the school and her face changed then too."

"That'll do it."

Jeremy made himself comfortable beside her on the bed. "What's it like being with a vampire?"

"Depends on the vampire," she quipped. "Damon's fun. He . . . usually doesn't kill without a reason. Not since he's been with me, anyway. Maybe once, but I bitched him out for it."

"Bitched him out? I can't believe you said that."

Things went like that until Jeremy knew pretty much everything, except about Vicki because she really didn't know how to tell him that.. She left out anything that would incriminate Damon or Elena - she still cared about Elena even if Elena didn't agree with her dating choices. Jeremy ended up staying the night in her room, by her bed. Rebecca wouldn't have cared if Jeremy shared her bed, but Damon would have, so . . .

They played video games and watched movies and basically did what two normal teenage friends would do. It was nice. Jeremy hadn't judged her at all for being with Damon, a homicidal vampire. He'd had questions, of course, but he hadn't said anything negative about it.

Jeremy was more open-minded than his sister.

The only problem with having friends over for the night, Rebecca realized, was that Chelsea knew all of her friends and was just as excited that they were there as Rebecca was. Chelsea stayed up as long as she was able to but fell asleep around eleven. Rebecca hoped that meant Chelsea would sleep in in the morning so that she could too.