A/N: I'm so sorry for keeping you all waiting. I never intended to be gone this long. But like most of you know Real Life got into my way (still organizing my move, new job, long hours and working on weekends, trying to form some kind of common ground with my new roomie...). I try to be better but it depends on my job.

Vie: You're too much! Really didn't think there were others out there who still knew S Club 7. Yep, Bradley was my favorite too. More Bamon coming up. Thank you for all your reviews!

Chapter 17

"Hey 'Lena, what's up?" Bonnie answered her phone.

"Uh … nothing much. That's why I thought we could all meet up at the Grill tonight? Just … 'be', you know", Elena asked her best friend.

"Uhm … I'm not sure. Who do you mean when you say 'we all'?" Bonnie questioned. She really didn't want to see Jeremy. His mood swings were more exhausting than Damon's. First he was pursuing her until she was flattered and gave in – she had liked him well enough –, then he threw her away because she's helping someone (little attention seeker couldn't handle it when their was some other company) and in the last few days he was texting her frequently. (What didn't he get when she didn't respond to any of his messages?) She really, really, really didn't want to spend a night with him around.

Elena, however, misinterpreted her reluctance. "Uh … just you, me, Caroline, Tyler, Stefan and … uhm … if anyone can get a hold of him … uh … Damon", the brunette revealed hesitantly.

"I'm game. Count me in." Elena was surprised by Bonnie's quick agreement. She'd been afraid a lot of pleading would have to be done. All the better now.

"Okay. Six pm at the Grill, what do you say?"

"Sounds good. See you later 'Lena. Take care. Bye."

"You too. Bye Bonnie." And the girls hung up.

"So, that was Elena", Bonnie said, pretending as if Damon hadn't heard both sides of their conversation. "She wants us to meet at the Grill this evening."

Damon indulged her and didn't point out to her that he not only knew what Elena wanted and said but also where she was at the moment (at her home, in the kitchen with Stefan, cooking dinner for her and Jeremy who was listening to music – probably in his room).

"You're coming?" Bonnie inquired.

For a moment the vampire was startled. Did she really just ask him if he wanted to come along? He knew they'd agreed on being friends and spending time together both in private as well as in public. But until then it had always been his doing. It had always been him to start something – never her.

"Sure. You know me. Never refusing some time in a bar", Damon grinned.

Bonnie rolled her eyes – again. She'd never been one to roll her eyes until Damon Salvatore had come into town. Ever since, it seemed to have become a bad habit of her. Guys!

Looking at the time she saw it was late afternoon already. It was past 4 pm. The girl sighed. That much to her easy-going, relaxing, boring afternoon. "I better start to get ready." Skeptically, Damon rose his eyebrows.

"What?! I have to get everything indoors again, take a shower, apply some make-up and dress. It's only the Mystic Grill but that doesn't mean I have to look like a slob" the girl defended herself.

"Admit it. You want to look good for me", the vampire smirked.

"Yes Damon. You got me. That's exactly why I always dress in those skimpy little dresses ...", Bonnie replied sarcastically. Gathering up the items on the table (or the first charge), Bonnie went to put everything away again. Before all the items in her arms were stashed away, Damon stood in front of her, brushing his hands. "Done."

Fighting a smile, Bonnie shook her head. "Show-off." A devious grin was his only answer.

For a few moments witch and vampire stood facing each other in silence, neither one knowing what to say. "So, are you going home first or are you waiting for me?" Bonnie asked shyly. As soon as the words had left her mouth, the girl regretted asking. Why had she to voice it like that? Why had she to open her mouth in the first place? The fate of forever was looming over them (in his case literally) and she had to ask him if he waited for her?! Way to go, Bonnie, way to go.

Surprised, Damon looked at her. "I'm waiting. Just get naked, I'll stay close." His defense mechanism (empty remarks and innuendos) kicking in. The girl nodded. "Don't you dare and come barging into the bathroom", she threatened. Now it was the vampire's turn to nod before his supposed soul mate vanished up the stairs. Even though he would have loved to see her in all her glory, he knew that the little witch wouldn't forgive him. He knew with whom he could do such things (Katherine) or could get away with it (Elena) and when to restrain himself.

Aimlessly, the vampire wandered through the living room. Pictures of Bonnie, of Bonnie with her grams, her dad, Elena and Caroline and with a few other people he supposed were relatives of her were plastered all over the room. Only one picture showed a young Bonnie (probably about 3 or 4 years old) on a set of swings laughing happily with a young woman in her late twenties. Her late mother, Damon guessed. That was one thing Giuseppe and Bonnie's father had in common: both banished everything of their wives after their deaths. Not even pictures were allowed.

It did upset him that Bonnie had almost nothing to keep the memory of her mother alive – though he would deny it. Over the course of the last year he'd come to the realization that the Bennett witch and he had a lot in common. Even their behavior and reactions – as different as they often might have seemed.

Lost in his thoughts, Damon didn't hear Bonnie return into the living room. "Oh god. Please don't look too closely at those. Some trends weren't that good for me."

Damon startled. But as much as he tried to play it off, nothing came to mind – he'd gone completely blank. It was a great sight to behold and the little witch had a hard time fighting the smile that was about to break out.

Scrutinizing her from head to toe, the vampire had trouble to stay focused. Her usually dark brown hair was black from the wetness of the water, a few droplets falling to the ground wherever the witch stood. Shorts and a tank top – both black – completed her outfit.

"I still need to dress and do my make up. But I didn't trust you all alone in my house for so long", Bonnie grinned. "Follow me." With those words, Bonnie turned around and went back upstairs to her room, leaving Damon with nothing to do but to do as he was told. Bore himself he could do everywhere else.

When Damon entered her room, the little witch was brushing her still wet hair. For a moment, he just stood there. The sight in front of him was so normal that the vampire was baffled for a short while. He'd seen her doing magic, he'd seen her powerful, fierce and full of passion, he'd seen her sad, angry, furious and ready to do whatever was needed. But the scene in front of him was … innocent …. oblivious … he didn't really know. What he knew, however, was that it seemed as if the little firecracker was starting to let her guard down around him. I knew she couldn't resist my charm.

"What?" Bonnie asked giving him a funny look. "Is something wrong? You know, you can sit down. I still haven't drowned my sheets and pillows in vervain."

"You'll never know with a witch", Damon answered. A single glance showed him who was responsible for decorating the Bennett living room. On one wall was a showcase of pictures of all stages of Bonnie's life, the pin board on the other side showed a collection of postcards, concert-tickets and past events. Instead of the chaos those knick-knacks usually created, Bonnie's room was neatly. The clobber didn't change anything.

And the small smile on Bonnie's lips while she continued to brush her hair was … inviting. Her whole demeanor was – open.

Forcing himself to stop acting like some wuss, Damon finally walked into the room and over to Bonnie's bed. "You know you can brush your hair all you want but it won't get any longer nor shinier", Damon said while sitting down.

"That's what you think. I once heard a story about an enchanted brush which sprinkle golden powder over your hair and made it all shiny", Bonnie sassed laying her brush back down on her dresser before walking over to her closet.

Forlorn, Bonnie looked into her closet. She wasn't as picky as Caroline but that didn't mean she didn't care about her looks. There was an in-between between those fashion-victims and slobs. "You need help picking out your clothes? I'd love to go through your underwear", Damon provoked her.

Irritated, Bonnie grabbed for the next jeans she got in her hands and a blouse that was hanging on a coat hanger. That would have to do. She really couldn't stand Damon's suggestions anymore. "I'm good. I've dressed myself for more than ten years."

"That explains a lot", Damon answered.

"What is that supposed to mean?!" Bonnie demanded to know.

"Nothing … just that … you dress as modest as a grandma. Most mothers in this town are wearing more revealing and figure hugging clothes than you are", Damon grinned. Bonnie was cute when she was all flustered and angry.

"Humph. First of all, I don't care what you think about my style. Secondly, I'm my own person I don't have to try to be someone else – especially someone in this town. Thirdly, too late. I already picked my clothes. You won't influence my decision. Ha!" As soon as the first shock and anger at his words were gone, Bonnie had figured him out. Provoking me to prove him wrong. He won't get to see anymore cleavage from me. Jerk! The little witch was smug.

Damon grinned at her. His little witch did know him pretty good. Didn't matter how much she wanted to deny it – there was a connection between them. "Just get ready."

"Ya, ya. I'm going, I'm going. I go changing, wait here. And don't touch anything. Stay away from my drawers", the girl threatened.

Few minutes later, Bonnie emerged from the bathroom and went back into her room, now dressed in dark blue skinny jeans and a blouse in olive-green. When Bonnie had seen what she'd picked for the day, she cursed but she refused to give Damon the satisfaction of walking back into her room to chose other clothes. She refused to.

At seeing her, Damon gave her a breathtaking smile which spread across his whole face. "Don't. say. a. word. I had them in my hands before you said anything about my granny-style", the witch threatened him.

"I didn't say anything." Damon rose his hands innocently. "But – that's what I'm talking about."

"Honestly, you'd think I'd walk around in ankle-long, hip-high skirts and blouses you can hide several different layers underneath. Sheesh", Bonnie said exasperated.

"Hey, someone needs to be honest with you. I mean I'm telling you all that from an innocent bystander kind of view. I'm not one of your girl friends who are in competition with you. I only want what's best for you and not to out-stand you", Damon told her with false-seriousness.

Bonnie once again rolled her eyes. It was just like him because Mr. Salvatore knew it all – or thought so anyway. With a shake of her head Bonnie got her mascara and started to apply it. Some of his idiotic remarks didn't deserve any response.

Damon watched the girl. It was funny observing her while she put on mascara. Her eyes seemed to pop out of their sockets and her mouth was twisted.

"Could you stop that. It's irritating", Bonnie snapped at him. The vampire only grinned at her. God, it was hilarious. She got furious so easily.

His real treat came when Bonnie put some nude lip gloss on. Her mouth opened slightly when she put the first coat of gloss on before pouting to fill her lips – Bonnie herself being completely oblivious to the sight she was portraying. Damon shook his head. The Bennett girl was a walking contradiction. So fierce and passionate, insightful and knowing but at the same time so innocent and blissful unaware.

Honestly, Damon couldn't believe what he was thinking. Not the sexual thoughts because quite honest those weren't new to him but about putting lip gloss on?! Seriously?! He could get the mascara thing because it really did something for her eyes but some sticky coat that would leave a nasty film on his lips and skin while kissing? Hell no! But as he had had to realize more often than not those last few days the little witch was his one exception.

"Ready to go?" Bonnie asked. The vampire just returned out of his thoughts as the girl smacked her lips. What was it that had girls smacking their lips after applying lip gloss? Did they like the sticky feeling when their lips stuck together for a short moment or did they taste the flavor? Ignoring his random thoughts Damon focused on his little witch again. "Ready when you are."

"I'm good to go", the girl answered and grabbed for her purse. Or is it a travel bag? Damon wondered as he was leaving the room right behind her. Together they left the house. "Where are you going?" Damon inquired when Bonnie made no move to follow him to his car but went to her Prius instead.

"I won't ask you over later. This way I'm securing my ride back home."

Exasperate Damon shook his head. Girls! The look he shot her had her hesitating. "I'll drive you back and I'll even behave. I promise not to do anything I do on a usual date at the end. Or not the end. The middle?" His tactic of talking until the witch gave in and got into his car worked.

"Uh! I hold you to it.", Bonnie informed him while getting into his car. Especially after the last days she knew he kept his word – bent it maybe, but not break it.

Their drive to the Mystic Grill was quiet. The only noise was the radio playing lowly in the background. It was weird for Bonnie sitting in Damon's car. For the first time driving in his Camaro they were heading for the town center. A lot of eyes were on them, men appreciating the muscle car, women drooling over the driver or sizing up the girl sitting next to him. Sure, Bonnie had known how to enjoy herself and was used to stares – she might not be Elena or Caroline but that didn't mean she'd never gotten any attention – but this, this was a whole new level of crazy.

Is it always like that for him?

Before she knew it, Damon and her were in front of the Mystic Grill and Damon parked his Camaro. Bonnie hurried to get out of the car. It already seemed too much like a date as it was the last thing she needed was him opening the door for her. Together, they made their way to the entrance.

Just as the witch had opened the front door and Damon was grabbing over her head to keep it open, the Grill got eerily quiet and all eyes were turned onto witch and vampire. At least, that was how Bonnie felt. In all honesty, time didn't stop and besides of a few glances from other patrons the only ones staring at their entrance were their friends.

Just my luck. When are Elena or Caroline ever on time? With a sigh Bonnie went towards the unbelievable expressions of their 'dream couple' and the joyous smile of Caroline.

It felt great. Damon couldn't get enough of Elena's expression. What he had told his brother was true he didn't care for Elena anymore, not like that, nevertheless, it felt great to show her that he didn't depend on her any longer. He hoped that the doppelganger had gotten the message and that his brother had told her what he'd said but knowing Stefan he didn't. His actions, however, should speak for themselves and give her a clue. Pretending to breath was suddenly a lot easier; it felt like a huge weight fell away from constricting his heart.

Facing Elena without the feeling of doom looming all around him was a feeling the older brother had never believed of. But now that it was there, he couldn't understand what had taken so long for him to come to terms with everything and be open for something … not new … something better.

"Hey guys, glad you could make it. What took you so long?" Caroline asked raising her eyebrows suggestively. Damon only smirked in response. It was nice to have someone else in your corner – although he was aware that the blonde's loyalty was with Bonnie and with him only be default. Her opinion could change any minute if she decided he'd only be bad news for the witch. She'd even said so herself.

At the risk of pissing off Bonnie he played along. "We had to get dressed first", he informed their friends.

The shock registering on Stefan's and Elena's faces was priceless and well worth the smack Bonnie gave him. He was surprised she didn't give him an aneurism like usual but instead a smack to the arm she well knew didn't do any damage. Seemed like he really did grow on her. Damon felt smug.

Caroline waggled her eyebrows. She knew her girl and she knew Damon and she sure as hell knew that there was more to the story than Damon wanted them to believe.

"What?! Damon, how could you?" Elena – the voice of reason. Her reason. Bonnie thought. Urgh! Her friends were right she did spend too much time with Damon. But for someone she claimed to deeply care for, Elena was all too willingly blaming Damon. Shouldn't she listen to their explanation first before she accused any of them? Shouldn't she know her best friend, her sister, better than to believe she'd jumped into Damon's bed after a few days of getting along? They only knew each other since kindergarten.

"Don't listen to him. Damon's just being Damon", Bonnie pacified. Shooting Damon a look that clearly told him to behave Bonnie slid into the booth next to Caroline. Seeing her doing that, the vampire was irritated with her – now he was forced to sit alone on a seat in front of their table. Witches!

"So, what have you been up to since I've seen you last?" Elena tried to break the tension that had settled over their table unknowingly poking into a termites' nest. Nervous, the little witch glanced to Damon before her eyes wandered to Stefan's guilty look and then met Caroline's eyes. With a shock of guilt, Bonnie suddenly realized that everyone was privy to Damon's and her growing relationship, everyone knew of their meetings, everyone but Elena – one of her best friends. What had become of them?

It was time they came clean. That didn't mean she had to tell Elena everything about the True Love's Kiss and its consequences, about the gifts Damon had gotten her or about their agreement and all the time they've spent together and least of all it didn't mean she had to tell her about them sharing a bed in the middle of a restaurant but there'd be no more lying or sweet talking. Damon and her had decided to make their friendship public – and that included Elena. It would also prove to her if Damon was as over Elena as he claimed to be. His reaction to Elena's reaction would determine where they were heading and if he was ever going to see her in all of his gifts. I can't believe I just thought that?!

"Uhm … we did some researching yesterday and today I relaxed in the sun", the witch told her friend.

Elena was perplexed. "'We' were doing research? Who's we?"

Glancing to Damon he gave her a small nod. If she wanted to come clean and sort everything out he sure as hell would keep his mouth shut. He wasn't eager to explain everything to Elena. Let her deal with it.

"Yeah, 'we'. Damon and I", Bonnie revealed. At the baffled look on Elena's face the witch continued. "You remember when Damon was dying?"

"How could I forget? How could anyone forget?" The doppelganger was stricken for a few seconds reliving those moments.

"You remember the cure I've found?" Bonnie asked. Elena nodded. "Turns out it seems to be real. Not only the cure and saving Damon but also everything else connected with it", Bonnie informed.

"But how is that possible? I haven't felt any different", Elena exclaimed.

"No, you haven't. It was me. My clumsiness was what brought Damon back to life." After her revelation Bonnie kept quiet. It was a lot to take in.

Elena was numb. She didn't know what she was feeling. After wishing for so long Damon would stop pestering her, she suddenly wasn't quite sure if it was what she wanted now. She was just used to have him following her, showering her with attention. It was nice having someone depending so much on you and have him deliver the world at your feet.

At the same time, though, Elena knew it was wrong. She did care for him – deeply care for him – but she knew she did care for him in another way than she cared for Stefan. Because of that she only wanted what was best for him and moving on would do all of them some good. That didn't mean she had to like it from the get-go or be happy about it.

However, surviving all they had they all needed to get some kind of order and normalcy back into their lives. Moving on from any sort of relationship between any of them was exactly what they needed. Elena knew that.

One step at a time. They just needed to find themselves again.

"So, what does that mean?" Elena asked a few minutes later.

"We don't really know-"

"Hence the research", Damon butted in.

Everyone at their table shot him a seething glare. Mr.-Know-it-all had to turn into Captain Obvious as well. What would they do without him? They were at a loss.

"What did you find out?" Stefan wanted to know. He was curious ever since Bonnie had dismissed him the night before.

"Not much. And less we didn't already know", Damon informed his brother. He dared the witch to say once more he wasn't able to be decent. He even indulged his little brother.

"As soon as we find anything or something happens we'll tell you. But so far there isn't anything to tell", Bonnie calmed her friends. There was no use in telling them everything right away. Some stuff she wanted to keep between Damon and herself and with remaining silent the vampire seemed to agree with her (for once).

"You two are friends, it's true then?" Elena still had a hard time grabbing that concept. How long had she wished for them to get along? How often have I told them to stop fighting all the time? Now it didn't feel real.

Bonnie was the one to answer. "Yes, we are."