So, here's the history of this chapter: I'd initially written 2/3 of it and guess what? I lost all of it. ALL OF IT. T.T

Had to rewrite everything from the start which was good, content-wise, because I think this version is better, but bad because I am updating three weeks later than I'd intended. Yeeey.

Anyway, sorry for the delay, I hope I can make it up to you guys. Although, school is starting soon again so no big promises.

It goes without saying that your support and reviews were the only things that got me through the rewrite of this chapter. Thank you so much for everything.

To the anonymous reviewers: Guest(1): Interesting suggestion with Bonnie's death and her memories returning :) I'll keep that in mind, although I do have a different scenario planned, xXPrincesxX: haha, did the site censor "bitch"? well, Elena is a different person now, even if she has her emotions back. Curious to see what you think of her this chapter. glad you liked the bamon moments :), boomkarakaraka05: first off, thanks for the double review, really glad you liked the bamon scenes, this chapter should satisfy you as well. As for Qetsyiah, mum's the word :D, Vie: Yey, someone appreciates my Elena, I'm pleased. Lol, it's weird how excited I get when you guys tell me you like what I did with her because I know she's such a hated character right now. As for Damon, it really is hard for him to stay away and just "admire Bonnie from afar". This chapter should clue you in on that :)

I hope I haven't left anyone out. I love you all anyway, you know I do.

This chapter is for episode sixteen, Bring It On, and you've probably noticed we're steering into AU territory for good. I'm still going to parallel some of the storylines, obviously, since they are connected with those on the show, but it will be vastly different.

As always, I hope you enjoy this chapter and please share your thoughts!

Damon was not the type of guy who had control issues. Or so he liked to believe. He didn't get obsessed over someone not answering his calls. In fact, he was usually the person who wouldn't answer the phone.

So when Bonnie Bennett's phone went to voicemail a fourth time, he told himself that she was probably sleeping, or was otherwise busy and couldn't get to her phone. No need to get worried about something this small. After all, her dad was with her.

Although, how trustworthy was the Mayor, after all?

"What are you doing?"

Damon turned around. Stefan was standing in the doorway, watching him with a guarded expression on his face. The one Damon liked to call "holier-than-thou".

"What do you mean?"

"You're pacing. You only pace if something's up. Who are you trying to call?"

"Are you watching me now, is that it?"

Stefan shrugged. "I'm not exactly going to ignore you, am I?"

"I thought you were pissed at me or something," Damon remarked, trying to sound nonchalant about it.

Stefan sighed. "Well, I'm not."

"You're not, but you were."

"I think we're past that by now."

Damon scoffed. "What? Finally figured out I'm not to blame for Elena's downward spiral?"

Stefan frowned. "I never blamed you for that, I know she chose to switch off her humanity –"

"Come on, little brother. Let's not play coy. We both know what you were thinking. You blamed me for telling her to feed that night. You know you did."

Stefan shook his head. "That's not even remotely accurate. It was beyond your control. There was nothing you could've done." But his voice betrayed him at the end. There were many things Damon could have done.

He noticed the waver.

"You're right. Accurate would be if I said you felt bad because you couldn't choose between "Elena-the-murderer" and "Elena-Damon's-girlfriend". It's a good thing I made that choice for you."

Stefan knew that showing any sign of anger would only please Damon.

"Let me repeat what I told you then. You felt bad because you felt relief. You felt relief when you found out what happened that night."

Stefan looked away, arms folded across his chest defensively. "Is that what you think?"

He couldn't see Damon's expression, otherwise he would have noticed the pain there. "It's what you showed me."

Stefan frowned. "When did I ever show you…"

"You know, for someone who's known to be wise and enlightened, you're pretty fucking dumb, Stefan."

The younger Salvatore only stared at him, mystified. He didn't understand what Damon wanted him to understand. And it only made Damon withdraw further from him.

Why are you upset with me, Damon? What have I done now? What gives you the right to be upset?

But he knew his big brother was expecting him to figure it out on his own. As always.

"Anyway, good news, she's not sired to me anymore," Damon said with a smile.

Stefan sighed internally. Right now, he couldn't care less about the sire bond. He just wanted to get through to Damon. Neither of them was great at talking things out. It was moments like these when he really missed Lexi. She could have straightened this out, could have pushed them to open up.

But she wasn't here. So he had to pick a different battle.

"Okay, forget Elena for one moment. Are we not going to talk about these last few days?"

"If you're looking for someone to talk to about prom, pass."

"Are you not going to tell me what's going on with you and Bonnie?"

Damon's eyebrows rose to his forehead.

"What gives you the impression something's going on?"

Stefan walked up to him and grabbed the phone from his hand before he had time to realize what was happening.

"Hey! Give that back!"

"Maybe the fact that you've called her four times this morning."

Damon froze, like a deer caught in the headlights.

"It's my turn to check up on her, we all do it -"

"Do you think everyone around you is blind? Do you think I'm blind?"

"Well, to be honest, you are a bit short-sighted –"

"You can make jokes, Damon, but you can't deny the facts. You've been going out of your way to take care of someone who used to be a stranger to you."

"Come on, Bonnie was never a stranger –"

"Maybe not, but you were never fond of her."

"And now, because I'm doing something decent, you think I suddenly am?"

"You tell me that."

Damon blinked, as if he were trying to remove something from his eyes. He couldn't believe this was happening now. He felt trapped. He was caught in an elaborate web of lies he could no longer hold together. He had known they would come apart, sooner or later. But he'd hoped it would be later, rather than sooner. He was not ready. Not ready at all.

"Because three months ago you two couldn't stand each other," Stefan continued, when he saw his brother wouldn't speak, "and now she seems to be the only thing on your mind."

"Nothing happened, Stef-"

"No, I'm pretty sure something did happen and it was big enough that you're too scared to admit it."

Damon glared at him. Saint Stefan always thought he knew better, always thought he knew him. But he was wrong.

"You don't know everything, Stefan. You might pretend you do. But you don't. So stay out of things that don't concern you."

"I would, Damon, but this does concern me, very much."

Damon scowled.

"What do you want me to say, that the witch grew on me?"

"Has she?"

"I care about her, if that's what you're dying to find out."


Damon frowned. "Do I have to recall the multiple times she saved your ass and mine? Not to mention Elena's?"

"Yeah, you were never big on showing your gratitude before."

Damon scoffed. "As far as you know. Look, she lost all her memories because she was trying to get that stupid cure. I think I owe her."

Stefan sighed. "We all do. Doesn't change the fact your feelings are different. This is more than just gratitude. And I don't know why it's so hard for you to talk about it."

Damon groaned.

"You really don't get it. I don't want to talk about it with you. In fact, I don't want to discuss my so-called feelings with anyone and I certainly don't need your permission or approval to take care of her."

Stefan mulled over his retort. He had to choose his next words carefully.

"Fair enough. You know what I think?"

"No and I don't really care, so unless there's something else, I'd like my phone back."

"I think for the first time since you met Katherine, you're feeling something real. Something genuine. And it scares you. Cuz it's different from everything else."

Damon rolled his eyes. "Touching, really. Phone. Now."

"That look. That look you had in your eyes when you were locked in that cellar and you asked for Bonnie. Kol had compelled you. Jeremy was supposed to be the only thing on your mind. And instead you asked for her. She was the one you were thinking about. I didn't think it was important back then, but it makes sense now. She got through your compulsion."

Damon winced. His brother's words cut into him like a knife.

"What is she to you, Damon?"

After a few moments of silence, Stefan placed the phone on the mantelpiece.

"Just answer me this. Are you in lo –"

But Damon grabbed the phone and sped out of the room before Stefan could finish.

He sighed. They really were terrible at talking things out.

"This can't be right," Bonnie muttered as she popped another pretzel into her mouth, scribbling over her French textbook.

Sure enough, she'd gotten the conjugation to the verb "s'asseoir" wrong again.

"At this rate, I will have to move to France to actually learn something."

She sighed and, grinding her teeth, moved on to the next verb, hoping she'd have better luck with that one.

To be fair, she had looked over her report card and she had not been stellar at French even before the accident. So maybe this wasn't all amnesia. She was doing much better with math anyway, so clearly, she hadn't lost all her skills.

"Goddamn it, who invented "passé simple" anyway? When am I ever gonna tell someone a story in French?" she grumbled, turning a page.

"Great, fill in the gaps. Just my thing."

She knew she was being slightly dramatic, but exams were only weeks away. What was she going to do? Cast a spell?

She snorted. She had tried that, to her shame. It hadn't worked. Which was a good thing, because she wasn't sure she wanted to cheat her way through the educational system.

Her back ached from having sat in the same position for hours. She had started studying at ten. It was now two o'clock in the afternoon. She would have been proud, if she weren't so dispirited.

Maybe you need a break.

"No! Last time you took a break you decided to marathon Criminal Minds. Get back to work," she told herself adamantly.

I have more self-control than that.

However, not two minutes later, she practically jumped out of her seat when she heard someone knock.

Oh, thank God. A distraction.

She swung the door open.

"Oh, hey."

She didn't really care who was visiting, as long as she didn't have to get back to work. Still, she was glad it was him.

Bonnie hadn't seen him in three days, but they had talked on the phone the day before.

If she had to sum it up, Damon Salvatore was…weird.

She was grateful to him for trying to be supportive and take care of her, but his behavior was different from everyone else's and it confused her.

Caroline, Elena, Matt and the rest of them trod on eggshells around her and didn't expect her to remember or act particularly friendly with any of them.

Damon, however…

Sometimes she felt he wanted everything.

He pushed her to remember who she was, he pushed her to remember her powers and he pushed her to remember him. He didn't take no for an answer. He overwhelmed her. Whenever she told him she couldn't remember, his response wasn't "don't worry, you will soon, it's okay".

No. His response was more along the lines "try again until you do".

Sometimes, she just wanted to tell him to give her a break, but whenever she actually remembered something, no matter how random, his eyes lit up in a way she couldn't resist.

"Hey. Busy?" he asked, leaning against the doorway.

"Uh, sort of. But I'm happy to get away from it. Want to come in?"

Damon hesitated. She had already invited him in before, without realizing what she was doing, and he didn't feel comfortable taking advantage of this now.

"I was thinking you'd like to go for a ride."

Bonnie looked over her shoulder.

"Dad! Dad, are you home?"

No reply came back. Bonnie rolled her eyes. Of course.

"Let's go."

"So, Mayor Hopkins is no show once again."

Bonnie leant her head against the window and nodded, watching him drive.

"Council calls."

Damon wondered if he should pay them a visit. They had been having meetings without him and that never meant good news.

"How's studying going?"

"Bad. For the most part."

"Need help with anything?"

Bonnie raised an eyebrow.

"What? I am over a hundred and fifty years old, you know. I do have some knowledge of the world."

"That only makes you creepier," she teased, although she felt a bit uneasy about it.

"Your loss."

Bonnie suppressed a yawn. "I'm all burned out."

"Come on. We'll get something to eat and then you're gonna practice your powers again."

Bonnie groaned. "Why do you do this to me?"

"Because someone has to, okay?"

"I already have a dad."

"Yeah, well, he's not doing anything about it, so I am."

Damon groaned, realizing what he'd just said. "Ah, crap. Shouldn't have phrased it like that."

"It's okay. It's not entirely wrong. He doesn't know how to deal with all this. He's no better than I am," Bonnie told him, a note of sadness slipping into her voice.

Damon hated when the discussion turned sour like this. Maybe it was selfish, but he felt as if everything in her life right now was trying to drive her away from him.

"No more sad family talk. Food first and then you get to fry a vampire for half an hour. How does that sound?"

She shook her head, smiling.

"Why are you doing this?"

She had asked him before, several times.

And the answer always came, like clockwork.

"Because I want to."

"… nous nous assîmes, vous vous assîsez, ils s'assirent," Bonnie enumerated, punctuating every conjugation with a fork stab.

Damon frowned, holding his palms together in a pensive pose.

"Well?" she asked.

"I'm more updated with Italian than French, to be honest."

Bonnie rolled her eyes.

"What happened to over a hundred and fifty years old?"

Damon smirked. "Maybe you shouldn't say that really loud."

Bonnie looked over her shoulder warily. She hoped no one had heard her. The diner wasn't exactly full, but there were enough people in earshot.

"Who would believe me, anyway?" she said, turning to him.

"It's Mystic Falls. They'd probably buy it."

Bonnie took out her phone to check the conjugations.

"Crap. It's assîtes, not assîsez. I thought something sounded weird."

"Don't beat yourself up. I'm pretty sure your teachers mix those up, too."

"Are you saying Mystic High isn't a paragon of proficiency and education?" Bonnie asked in faux-disbelief.

He chuckled. She smiled.

Bonnie had to admit it was nice sitting here with him while she nibbled on her steak and he…washed down a House Red.

"You should have ordered some food. It looks fishy if you're just drinking," she said.

"Actually, that's what most people do in diners. But if you're really concerned, I'll just take some from you," he said and, before she could stop him, he'd already stolen two fries.

Bonnie gasped.

"You did not."

"Oh, but I did."

"Okay. I dare you to do that again," she challenged.

Damon raised an eyebrow.

"You do realize I have super speed."

Bonnie shrugged.

Damon leaned back in his chair.


He was curious to see what she would do. He took a sip from his glass and pretended to look out the window. He took another sip slowly. Bonnie kept her eyes on him.

He stretched his hands over his head and smirked.

Bonnie folded her arms. "I'm not falling for your ruse."

"What ruse? I'm just enjoying the attention."

And he did really like how her eyes glazed over his body and settled on his lips, only to quickly dart in the opposite direction.

Bonnie waited for him to do something, but he was obstinately refusing to engage.


She lifted one fry between her fingers and dangled it in front of him. She didn't care if she looked like a weirdo to the people in the diner.

"Come on, grab it. You know you want to."

Damon shook his head, smirking. If she wasn't falling for it, neither was he.

Bonnie popped it into her mouth and licked her lips. Damon felt a short stab of arousal. She knew exactly what she was doing.

His hand shot up to grab her plate.

It didn't get any further.

"Ouch," he said and pulled back. She'd zapped his fingers.

He rubbed his hand, feeling the warmth spread to his arm.

"Told you," she grinned, smugly.

Damon smirked. "Trick's on you, cuz this was all a test. See, we're already training and you didn't even know it."

Bonnie stuck out her tongue.

"You can't just admit defeat, can you?"

Damon smiled. "Fine. Glad to know you're getting better."

Bonnie rolled her eyes. "Now don't get all mushy on me."

He chuckled and chugged back his glass. "Wouldn't dream it."

Bonnie fell to her knees, gasping for breath. Sweat was running down her shoulders freely. She'd removed her shirt, but her T-Shirt was already soaked.

God, she could go for some boring French right now.

Not that she didn't enjoy this. Magic was a gift, a miracle, life itself and all that hoopla, but she had thought being a witch meant things would come to her easier.

Big mistake.

She raised one finger in the air.

"Before you attack again, could I have a million years to catch my breath?"

Damon folded his arms.

"Fine, nine hundred thousand, then," she conceded.

"You can have all the free time you want once I'm on my knees and you're the one standing up," he said and only when the words left his mouth did he realize how suggestive they had actually sounded.

"I'm probably repeating myself, but you're really weird."

"I prefer the word passionate."

"Yeah, I'm sure a lot of people are passionate about getting beaten up by a witch."

"Well…you haven't beaten me yet," he said with a smirk, taunting her.

Bonnie grunted. "Oh, hell."

She raised herself slowly and massaged her neck. She straightened her back and took a deep breath.

"Okay, let's do this again."

"There's my girl."

Bonnie lifted her palms. She only hesitated for one moment. Why did he call her that? His girl? Sometimes she wondered.

He went at her with a ferocious speed and she was only half-ready. She knocked him back a couple of steps.

She pressed harder, her eyebrows knitting together in concentration.

Damon tried to break through the barrier, but he was pushed back again.

Still, he hadn't fallen over and the whole point was to make him kneel.

The easy way out was to give him an aneursym, but they were training her magic shields now. No frying allowed. Not yet.

She focused her energy in her palms. She was in control again. Her mind was clear.

But the way he'd called her…

Maybe her mind wasn't that clear, after all.

Finally, when he came at her again, she slipped and before he could stop himself, he had tackled her to the ground.

A bird called in the distance, flying over their heads in the clear blue sky. The forest clearing grew quiet again. Only the sound of her breath came out in short pants.

Damon hadn't expected her magic to break off so suddenly. It hadn't happened quite like this before.

He was lying on top of her, her body encased between his elbows.

Bonnie opened her eyes and met his icy blue ones, the ones you couldn't look away from.

And she suddenly became very aware that their faces were inches apart. Damon seemed to realize that too, because he tried to shift, but only managed to bring his body closer to hers. She could feel his muscles through his jacket and it made her stomach do nervous little flip-flops.

He smelled like mint and old wine, a strange combination.

Damon was staring at her lips. He hadn't kissed her in such a long time.

Bonnie seemed to guess his thoughts. And she panicked.

Why did Damon want to kiss her? What was going on? Why wasn't she pushing him away? Why wasn't she getting up? Why wasn't she trying to give him an aneurysm? Why was she embracing this proximity instead of rejecting it?

There was something eerily familiar about it and it made her skin tingle.

"I…I got distracted," she said, her voice a few octaves higher.

Damon pulled back a strand of hair that had fallen on her face.


You. You called me your girl.

It was ridiculous. He'd only called her that because they were friends, teammates, and they were training together.

But they were awfully close now.

It didn't feel right, and yet…

She placed a firm palm over his chest. She couldn't do this now and here. Her mind was full of gaps and she was scared of what those gaps might reveal.

She pushed him away. Damon rolled off her at the same time, almost as if he'd read the reluctance in her eyes.

Bonnie noticed how his expression changed. He couldn't quash his disappointment. It was too evident. But he hadn't expected her to suddenly want him the way he wanted her. He knew that would be foolish. He just had to hide it better, that's all.

"Sorry about that," he said awkwardly.

"It's okay. My fault for not blocking you right."

"You'll be prepared next time."

"I will. Do you want me to try again?" she asked, worried that she might have upset him.

Get a grip, Bonnie. Why would he be upset? You have every right to push him away. You don't want him to kiss you, do you? You don't like him that way. You don't even know him. You barely know what's going on. You don't need another complication in your life.

"Do you feel up for it?" he asked, avoiding her eyes.

"I guess so."

Damon nodded. "One last time, then I'll take you home."

The water must have been impossibly cold, even for late spring. She had splashed some of it on her hands and although she had barely felt it, she could tell it was several degrees lower than what was bearable.

But Tyler didn't seem to mind. Hybrids had a natural warmth in their body due to their werewolf half that could never be extinguished. And that warmth protected them from the outside world. That warmth could kill them, too.

She watched the movement of his arms through the water. For someone so bulky, he could be elegant and graceful. He made soft ripples in the water, as if he did not want to disturb it. She almost smiled. She was reminded of better times, when she would be sitting in this same place, watching Jeremy and her dad. They weren't big swimmers; they would only take out the motorboat to fish. But sometimes Jeremy jumped in the water and splashed his dad. Those were the best memories.

Elena cast off the blanket she had placed around her shoulders. No use pretending she needed it.

She looked up at the sky. Clouds were rolling in. If she had to guess, it would rain soon. She loved the sound the drops made when they hit the still surface of the lake. Water fighting water. A storm invading quiet depths.

Tyler seemed to finally notice her. He rose halfway. He didn't wave. He stared for a moment, nodded his head then dived back in.

Elena sighed. He was in a strange mood. But so was she.

She knew she had done the right thing, or at least all she could have done, given the situation. Anything was better than having to roam the Earth in fear of a sociopathic Original. Caroline had been, if not happy, at least relieved. Tyler would be relatively safe. He wouldn't be lost to her. She knew where to find him, even if she couldn't see him. That gave her great comfort. Jeremy, too, had said it was their best shot. So, why was she suddenly having second thoughts?

I don't know if I can do this. She stared into the water and thought of her mother and what she would say if she were here.

She had driven into town earlier to bring some supplies and she had stopped by the Wickery Bridge. Sometimes, she wished she could burn down that awful bridge.

I have to do it. For Tyler. For everyone. For me.

And in her head she named the names. Connor Jordan. Carol Lockwood. Shauna and Ray. A waitress called Hannah. The boyfriend who had tried to stop her, called Tim. And Larry, a helpless mechanic.

This was the complete list and she would make damn sure she would remember it as long as she lived this damnable endless existence.

She remembered Stefan's tracking system – the names he had written on the wall. So many names. So, so many. Would her own number rise?

No. Never. It won't.

But didn't she want to take down the Originals? Wouldn't those deaths count?

She understood now why vampires tried to switch it off so often. She had once blamed Stefan for not fighting back when Klaus did it to him.

How stupid she had been. How thoughtless. Why would anyone want to return to the world of feelings?

For Tyler. For everyone. For me.

Tyler was still drying off his hair with a towel when she knocked on his door.

"Can I come in?"

He frowned for a moment. Of course she could come in. It was her house. There was no need to tip-toe around him. There was no need for any of this.

Tyler pinched the bridge of his nose. She was only trying to help, he knew that. In fact, she'd probably saved his life. But somehow, he couldn't muster any gratitude. And he felt bad about it. Because he wanted to help her, too. They had a common goal, after all, and he didn't want to disappoint her. He knew she would need him to take down Klaus.

So why was he having second thoughts about letting her into "his room"? Why did she make him feel uncomfortable?

"Uh, yes, come in."

Elena stepped inside, a meek smile on her face.

There. There it was. That's why she made him uncomfortable.

That weird guilty look she always had around him, like she was the culprit, like she was to blame for all this.

He supposed switching her emotions on again had something to do with it. The conscience she'd ignored was coming back with a vengeance.

Still. It unnerved him.

The first two days, he'd avoided her completely. Especially those guilty eyes. Elena hadn't protested. She'd left him to cope with the situation. But it grew harder to stay away from her. There was no one else in this house except for the two of them so running into her was like running into himself. He would round a corner and there she was. She always had this little smile at the corner of her lips, a smile that was neither sad nor happy. Many times he wondered what it meant. What secret signal was it sending? Half the time, it was hidden by her hair, but he didn't need to part it in order to see it. Ironically, he could see right through her and yet he could see nothing at all.

They had sat next to each other in front of the fire, talking quietly about what they would do from thereon, but every time they hit a snag, Elena would look at him and her guilt would wash over him. He wanted to shake her and ask her what was wrong, but he could never find the right words.

Sometimes he didn't need to look away. Sometimes, she was bold, like when she had first brought him there, but even in her most devil-may-care moments, she still looked like she was atoning for something he could not begin to understand.

"So, how was your swim?"

Tyler shrugged. "Cold. But I like the cold." After a pause, "Thanks."

Elena waved it off. "You can do whatever you want here. Think of this place as your home, for now. "Mi casa es su casa", that kind of stuff."

Tyler chuckled, but it sounded a bit hollow. "Right."

She came up to him and took the towel from him. "Should I put this in the laundry basket?"

Tyler gave her a look. "You didn't just come in here to ask me about laundry."

Elena smiled. "Okay, I confess. I also wanted to show you something."

She revealed the package she was holding behind her back.

Tyler grew interested. "What's that?"

Elena cleared up the table in front of them. She unwrapped the package and revealed a small and strange-looking black dagger lying in its folds. Tyler could have sworn it glinted red from a certain angle. But that was the least odd thing about it. He'd never seen this kind of weapon before.

"I did some research online and this is glass. Obsidian, to be precise. Apparently, not many people make blades out of this stuff. Surgeons are kind of forbidden from using obsidian scalpels. The cut is so precise and powerful, you can never be sure what kind of damage it could do."

Tyler's eyebrows had risen to his forehead.

"Okay, what the hell are you doing with this thing, then? And where did you find it?"

"Caroline and Jeremy filled you in on what happened in the cave, right?"

"Up to a certain point…"

"Well, Bon – Qetsyiah tried to kill me with this."

Tyler's eyes widened.

"Yeah. Lucky for me, Katherine got in the way and took my place. But I was pretty close. Did Jeremy tell you what happened afterwards?"

"He mentioned something about a fire."

"Not just any fire. It wasn't…normal. It didn't look like real fire. It looked weird. And I don't think you could put it out. Katherine was stabbed through the heart and just went up in flames. It happened so fast."

"So…what you're saying is that this dagger…"

"Yes. I'm sure of it. I mean, what else could have started that fire?"

"Maybe Qetsyiah?"

"No, she looked like she was waiting for it to happen after she plunged the dagger in."

Tyler paused to consider her words. He felt out of his depth. It all seemed like a complicated, jumbled puzzle he was unable to work out. How could a dagger start a fire?

"And how did you…" he trailed off.

"That's the strange part," she said, swallowing a little. She still remembered those dreadful moments, when she had lain in that dark corridor, with both hands pressed to her mouth and tears slipping out of the corners of her eyes as she watched Katherine's body get dragged after Qetsyiah into the cave. When she had finally managed to move a few inches, she had come across the dagger. It had almost cut her fingers clean off.

"It sort of fell. Qetsyiah took Katherine's body inside with her and the dagger slipped from her chest. I don't understand how or why."

Tyler gently picked up the dagger and stared into its impregnable depths.

"Then, this is not just a dagger. It's cursed. It has to do with magic, right?"

"Your guess is as good as mine, but I'd say there's a lot of dark magic in it."

Tyler was beginning to see the puzzle unravel.

"Why are you showing me this?" he asked, although he felt he knew the answer.

"I know it's a long shot, but it's the best long shot we have so far."

Tyler frowned. "You think this would kill Klaus?"

Elena chewed on her lip. "It might not kill him, but it will render him powerless for a while. Katherine was over five hundred years old and she couldn't fight it."

"Wait…you think Katherine's still alive after all that? Didn't the dagger go through her heart?"

Elena smiled, shaking her head. "It's weird, I know, but I have this hunch she's still alive somewhere. Weakened, but alive. Call it doppelganger sixth sense or whatever."

Tyler raised an eyebrow.

Elena continued, undeterred. "We have few options, as it is. The White Oak Stake is in Klaus' possession and he won't be giving up that any time soon. It's the only thing that can kill him so he's making sure to keep that guarded. Knowing him, he's probably hidden it in some remote place we'll have a hard time finding. This dagger might be our best shot to keep him down long enough to get the cure or track down the stake."

An awkward stretch of silence followed her words.

Tyler put down the dagger. Finally, he looked at her and his eyes had that steely determination she had seen from him in moments of crisis.

"Remember what you told me a week ago, on the way here?"

Elena looked at him from behind shaded eyes. She couldn't guess what he was thinking. It could go either way with him.

"You told me we wouldn't let Klaus take control, you said we'd feed him the cure."

Elena nodded. "I remember."

Tyler suddenly turned away from her.

Elena felt a cold rush of disappointment. Her shoulders slumped. He was going to say no. She had known it. It was a mad plan to begin with. And being cooped up here with her wasn't helping. He probably thought she was insane.

"I don't want to use the stake. I want him to be human."

Elena froze. His voice came from somewhere far away, even if they were only a few steps apart.

"I don't care if we kill him or not, after that. I just want him to be human."

His voice was colder than the water in the lake, colder than the obsidian in the dagger.

"I know," she said when she could find her voice again.

He sat down on the bed, head in his chest. Elena joined him after a while.

"What if Silas has already taken the cure?" he asked, raising his eyes. "Jeremy said he took it with him when he vanished."

Elena tilted her head to meet his gaze.

"I've thought about this too. I guess we don't know if he has taken it, but my guess is no. From what I understand, he would have to be fully resurrected to take the cure."

"…and he wasn't?"

"Remember the three sacrifices?"

Tyler nodded.

"First it was the council, then the hybrids…but the third hasn't happened yet. Shane might've been a complete lunatic, but he wasn't wrong about this. He knew his mythology. And those deaths weren't in vain. They weren't."

Tyler wondered if she was saying this because she believed it or rather, because she wanted to believe it.

"How do we know for sure?" he asked.

Elena looked away.

"That's the second thing I was going to talk to you about. I was going to do it later, but…we're running out of time."

Tyler's eyebrows furrowed. "What do you mean?"

"Klaus said I'm not to bring you into town. But we can go any other place we want. And we're going. We're going to find Shane. We're going to get the truth out of him."

Tyler turned towards her. "You think he's still alive?"

"He was clever and manipulative. That type is hard to kill off."

"What do we do if we find him?"

"We bring him to the Lake House. And we make sure we get everything from him, this time around."

Tyler felt a knot tightening in his stomach. He grew tense with anticipation.

They were really doing this. They were starting something.

They stood there in silence, each with his own thoughts.

Elena made to rise at one point, but a strange impulse made him grab her hand. It was as cold as his.

"Tell me this will work."

Elena looked into his eyes.

"It will work."

The ride home was even more awkward. They made their usual small talk, but they both knew something was up. From the beginning, Damon had been a bit too friendly with her and Bonnie was beginning to question it in a way she hadn't before.

She was beginning to question herself too, and what exactly she was feeling.

What was Damon to her, anyway?

From where she was standing, they'd only met two weeks ago.

She had never asked him about their relationship before the accident, because he hadn't offered a single clue about it and no one else had told her anything either. Not one of her friends had mentioned Damon as someone important to her. From the outside, he was just another concerned friend.

Would she ever pluck up the courage to ask him?

Bonnie turned away from the window and looked at him. Maybe if she alluded to it…

His phone suddenly buzzed. He had placed it in a little opening next to the radio. He ignored it.

"I think you have a new message."

Damon shrugged. "Probably some offer from the cell company."

"Could be important, though."

"I wouldn't count on it."

Bonnie frowned. That was fishy.

She made a grab for the phone.

Damon tried to stop her, but he was too late. Super-speed or not, he still had to watch the road.

This made the second person today who had stolen his phone. It was becoming a thing.

"You've got some missed calls from your brother. And a new message from him. Do you want me to read it to you?"

"No, you don't have to –"

But she had already pressed "Open", expecting him to say yes.

Where are you? You can't avoid me forever, you know.

Damon looked at her warily.

"What is it? Is it life and death, or what?"

Bonnie put the phone down in her lap.

"Your brother doesn't know you're with me right now?"

Damon grimaced. "Ah. That."

"Why haven't you told Stephen you're here with me?"

"It's Stefan and I just didn't feel like I had to."

Bonnie's voice grew sterner. "Why are you hiding this from him? Doesn't he know you're helping me?"

Damon sighed. Even Bonnie was accusing him of keeping his brother out of the loop.

"Look, he knows I'm helping you, I mean everyone does, but I don't want him to pry. He has this nasty habit of sticking his nose in other people's business."

"Oh… did you two have a fight?"

"No, course not. Don't sweat it. He's just worried, that's all. He probably thinks I'm not having the best influence on you."

Bonnie blinked. "How does he figure that?"

"What can I say, he's Stefan. No one's good enough for him. In his defense, my behavior in the past hasn't been exactly stellar."

"Okay, you sound like you two had a fight."

Damon shook his head. "It's not that. We've been around each other for too long. A century and a half makes even the closest people drift apart and we aren't that close to begin with."

Bonnie watched him carefully. He was playing the nonchalant card again, but she could see the pressure in his shoulders, the way his fingers coiled around the steering wheel.

"I hope you patch things up."

Damon chuckled. "That'll be the day."

It was quiet again for a few moments. Bonnie seemed to be pondering something.

"Are you…hiding me from him? Are you embarrassed?"

Damon almost hit the brakes as he was turning a corner.


"It's okay, you know, I just wish you'd tell me –"

"Wow, my petty arguments with Stefan have nothing to do with you." It wasn't a lie, technically.

"I just think it's weird that you didn't tell him and you're avoiding him –"

"Not because of you."

"Then why -"

He stopped the car and faced her fully.

"Bonnie, listen to me, cuz what I'm about to say is important."

Bonnie stood very still.

"Right now, things aren't going great for me. It's true, Stefan and I aren't in a very good place. There isn't much else I look forward to except these hang outs with you. Because, honestly? You're probably the best thing about my life. You're probably the best thing about me, in general. If I'm not letting anyone else in, it's because I don't want to ruin it. I don't want to ruin the best thing about me."

All the air had left her lungs. Her whole body had gone into shock. She stared at him wide-eyed, seeing him fully for the first time. His eyes spoke a different language, but she felt she knew the roots. She waited for him to continue. She was too stunned to even think, much less speak.

But he didn't say anything else. He started the engine.

Shit. Shit shit shit. Why the hell did you say that? What the fuck is wrong with you? Do you want to drive her away forever? Damon thought, cursing himself silently.

When they reached her house, he dared to glance in her direction.

She still looked baffled.

He was going to tell her sorry for making her feel uncomfortable, he was going to apologize and tell her to forget it, that it was nonsense what he'd said, that it was stupid and pretty much absurd…

But instead, he gripped the steering wheel and looked straight ahead.

"It's true, you know. That's why I'm doing all of this. I want to, of course, but it's also because, even before the accident, you always kept me on my toes. I intend to return the favor," he spoke, and while his demeanor was more restrained and his voice calmer, she sensed the emotion behind them.

Bonnie knew it was her turn to talk.

She knew it was critical that she say something. Anything.

But her mind was a blank. There was no ready reply for her.

"Um, I have to go now. Thanks for lunch and practice. I…Thanks."

With that, she slipped out of the car and ran to the door. She didn't look back. Her heart was going to explode.

Damon watched her until the door closed behind her.

Bonnie sat with her head in her hands and her elbows on her knees. This was bad. This was very bad. And the fact that the only thing she kept telling herself was "this was bad"…was also bad.

Why did you run off like that? Why didn't you say anything?

"Because I didn't know what to say!" she argued with herself out loud.

"Great, now I'm talking to myself. Can this day get any weirder?"

At that moment, someone knocked on her door.

Bonnie leaped to her feet. He had come back. Maybe she'd get her second chance to say something in return.

But again, what could she say?

Damon was obviously going through something and she had no idea how she fit into all that. She also had no idea whether she wanted to fit into it, at all. She liked him as a friend and she knew she was a little attracted to him, but what he was giving her was infinitely more, in every sense of the word. And she wasn't ready for it, was she?

She walked to the door like it was a death sentence.

Breathe. Let him talk first.

She swung the door open.

Her stomach dropped.

"Oh. Abbie."

"Hello, Bonnie. I haven't seen you in a while. May I come in?"

"Uh, sure."

She moved aside and let her step inside.

"Were you expecting someone else?"

"Dad," she lied.

"Well, you'll have to do with me," she said, grinning awkwardly. "How do you feel about pasta?"

Bonnie made a face. "Peachy."

"You know, the more you struggle, the more painful it will be."

The dark figure towered over her. The woman was bound and gagged. She realized she was lying in the trunk of a car. Not her car, that's for sure.

The eyes staring down at her felt oddly familiar, although at the moment, panic and fear were overriding every other sense.

Why couldn't she move out of these restraints? She was powerful, after all.

How had she been rendered so helpless?

The figure pushed the door down on the trunk and darkness swallowed everything.